Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this addition. What to make of the new running backs in Miami. Are quarterback slides dangerous? What are realistic expectations for Josh Gordon? And what are the Broncos doing with Devontae Booker?
Now that Miami has traded Ajayi, whom do you see as the main beneficiary in their rushing attack? Kenyan Drake is only in his second year and got the most carries during Miami's blowout loss to the Ravens. Damien Williams is in his 4th year with the Dolphins and scored 6 times last year. So far, this year, neither has been used much but the consensus seems to be Drake is next in line. I haven't paid much attention to the Dolphins, but this seems to be an opportunity to pick-up an ascending, breakout RB cheap.
Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)
I think they’ll both play. Williams has been their No. 2 back all along, and he’s built more like a running back – 5-foot-11 and 228 pounds. At 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds, Drake looks more like a wide receiver. That’s the same body shape as Michael Crabtree, DeAndre Hopkins and Davante Adams. Up 6 pounds from last year, I guess, and Melvin Gordon has been OK at that size, but it’s tall for a running back. Drake was never a featured runner at Alabama. So I would be surprised if the Dolphins ask him to handle a heavy workload. I expect they’ll instead give both of these backs about half of the work and go from there – more effective guy will probably start getting about 60 percent of the work. Williams will be more effective banging between the tackles, while Drake should have more big-play speed. As a rookie, he scored on a kickoff return and a 45-yard touchdown at Buffalo – they gave him the ball on a draw, and when it was plugged up at the line of scrimmage, he circled back and went across the field. Most coaches aren’t looking for running backs to attempt such plays – Adam Gase called out Ajayi last week for trying to hit too many big plays rather than just taking what was there. In my opinion, both Williams and Drake should be on fantasy rosters right now – let’s see what they do on Sunday – but I would be more interested in Williams.
Considering Flacco's experience against Miami, I'm wondering if you've taken a look at the question I had last year, is sliding more dangerous than otherwise finishing a run?
MARTIN DONNELLY (Elmhurst, IL)
I’m in the minority on this one, but I thought that incident was more on Joe Flacco than Kiko Alonso. The NFL has given quarterbacks multiple tools to avoid being hit, but they’ve got to use them. On this play (a 3rd-and-10 from the 20), Flacco rolls out and nobody is open. The league has given him the free opportunity to throw the ball out the back of the end zone; he chose not to do that. Instead, he starts chugging down the field. He runs for 10 yards, and anywhere in that area, he could have slid and nobody would have touched him. Justin Tucker would have come on and knocked in the field goal. But instead, Flacco continues to run, figuring (apparently) that he has a chance to reach the 10-yard line, earning a first down. Flacco is inside the 13 when he starts deciding that might not happen. Then he goes into a slide that’s sort of a sideways slide (I believe he thinks he might either get the first down or put the team in position to go for it on 4th-and-1). Alonso, meanwhile, is running full speed in the opposite direction, and these 240-pound freight trains are going to meet at about the 11. Alonso doesn’t know if Flacco is going to slide or if he instead is going to lower his shoulder and bull for the first down. Cam Newton does that all the time. I watched the replay with a stopwatch, measuring the time between when Flacco begins to slide and when he gets hit. I get .25 seconds. In a quarter of a second, Alonso has to switch from trying to tackle Flacco to trying to avoid touching him. It’s just not realistic. If Flacco doesn’t want to get hit, he should either throw the ball away or take his free slide before he’s in the zone where it’s a bang-bang play.
What do you think of Devontae Booker moving forward? He looks like Denver's best RB. Just a matter of time till he is getting most of the carries or it stays a committee?
David Kennedy (Steamburg, NY)
I think it will stay a committee for the time being. Anderson and Charles have been to their top 2 guys all along, and they’re playing fine. Anderson is averaging 4.4 per carry, and he’s run for over 75 yards in four games (despite being in a committee). He’s too slow (which is why he went undrafted way back when) but he’s an experienced, trusted veteran. Charles is 30 and has undergone multiple knee surgeries, so he can’t be used in a heavy duty role. But they’re giving him a few carries off the bench, and he’s been very good in that capacity, averaging 4.7 per attempt. He had an 18-yard run early at Kansas City where he very much looked like the Charles of old. Denver’s offense has been sputtered, but the problem hasn’t been the play at tailback they’ve been getting out of Anderson and Charles. So Booker is wading into a crowded situation. I don’t think he got on the field in the first half on Monday night. They started plugging him in on some obvious passing downs in the second half, and he made a couple of plays – most notably a 26-yard run, and their only touchdown (on a draw). But I don’t think Booker has been impressive enough that anybody with the team is wondering whether he should be starting or getting a lot more work. Other than the one long run, he’s carried 11 times for 36 yards this year. I don’t expect he’ll be anything more than their No. 3 back anytime soon. If Charles gets hurt, they’ll move him up into the No. 2 spot. If Anderson gets hurt, then I would think they’d make Booker their starter (leaving Charles in a change-of-pace role). Fantasy leaguers with Booker are left waiting for an injury, and with the season half over, we’re running out of time for that to occur.
Will Josh Gordon have value next season? I can keep him for a 5th round pick.
WYATT KLEIN (S Milwaukee, WI)
I have interest in Gordon. He’s only 26, and he posted a photo of himself on Twitter earlier this year in which he appeared to be sculpted out of granite – seemed to be in tip-top shot. Assuming he’s got his life in order, he’ll have an offseason to knock off the rust and learn the offense. He’s a shot in the dark, of course, but I think there’s some chance he’ll re-emerge as a top-20 receiver. Back in 2013, he was arguably the best wide receiver in the league, catching 87 passes for 1,646 yards and 9 TDs on a really bad Browns team. He led the league in receiving yards that season despite missing two games. (Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for that team; I wonder if he’d be interested in bringing Gordon to San Francisco?) Gordon, unfortunately, hasn’t done much since that time. He was suspended for the first 11 games in 2014; he caught 8 passes for 120 yards at Atlanta in his first game that season but otherwise didn’t make much of an impact. And he didn’t play at all in 2015 or 2016. Gordon at least appeared in the preseason in 2016, and he caught 43- and 44-yard passes in a game at Tampa Bay. I expect he’ll be one of the first 30 receivers on my board next summer.
TD-heavy dynasty league. I have Josh Doctson who has few targets but has a few scores. Gruden says he wants him to be their No. 1 but no sign of that yet with a shaky offensive line and preference to their tight ends. I can cut Doctson for DeVante Parker or Corey Davis. You like them both coming off injuries. With that said, which receiver of those three do you recommend and in what order?
HOWIE FISHMAN (Hermosa Beach, CA)
If we’re looking primarily at 2017, I will take DeVante Parker. He’s a true No. 1 receiver, and I’ve seen him catch a few balls. He’s been out with an ankle injury, but he’s returning this week. He should but pretty good in the second half of the season. In a ballpark sense, I believe he’ll be a top-20 receiver in the second half of the season. If we’re giving more weight to 2018 and beyond, then I will cast my lot with Corey Davis. We don’t have much to go on. He sat out the entire preseason, and he’s been out for the last six weeks. But I remember seeing him in their first game, and he looked like he would be a difference-making guy. In a part-time role, he caught 6 passes, and the first one was really impressive – he was well covered, but he just elevated and pulled it down. I believe Davis will be a good pro for a lot of years. Doctson’s fine, but I like these other guys more.
I'm in a PPR league where we can keep a player from the year before but lose the pick in the round we drafted him. QB touchdowns are worth 6 points. I drafted Luck in the 9th round and have held on to him but also drafted Kamara in the 10th and Mack in the 12th. Is it even worth holding on to Luck anymore? I think both Kamara and Mack would be higher ranked in next year's drafts but wanted your opinion before I cut Luck loose.
Alex Konop (Northport, NY)
All of those guys, I think, would be keeper candidates next summer – they’ll all be selected a lot earlier than the rounds you list. That includes Luck; with touchdown passes being worth 6 points, that increases the value of quarterbacks. But you will only be able to protect on, so I’d be willing to let Luck go. That lets you work with that roster spot for the remainder of this season. Kamara, with his receiving ability (PPR format), probably will be the guy you wind up protecting.
Love reading your stuff. I was proposed the following trade in a standard scoring league: I trade Alvin Kamara and Austin Hooper for Zach Ertz and Javorius Allen. My other running backs are Gurley, C.J. Anderson, and Alex Collins and my other TE is Charles Clay. Is this a trade you would do to improve the TE position? Would my RB position be good enough without Kamara?
BRIAN MINSTER (Warminster, PA)
Looks good to me. Ertz is the best tight end in the league right now. I think you’d be getting over 4 points per week better at that spot. Kamara has value, but Collins might be just as good, and you would still also have Anderson to work with.
Trade question. I lost Rodgers and now have Manning, McCown and Bridgewater. I was offered Cousins for Fuller and Hyde. Other RBs I have: Gurley, Kamara and Coleman. Other WR I have are Crabtree, Hill, Sanu and Woods.
David Leonard (Ormond Beach, FL)
Sounds good to me. Cousins is a top-level quarterback – way better the guys you have. I think you can live without Hyde.