Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: What's wrong with Kansas City's previously high-flying offense? Will the Patriots commit to Dion Lewis long term? Joe Flacco's historically bad season. And why can't the Giants' defense stop anyone?

Question 1

I'm in a TD-heavy league with some yardage bonuses and am in full panic mode regarding Kareem Hunt, who hasn't scored a TD since week 3. Where do you place the blame: equally on Hunt, Andy Reid, Alex Smith, or the offensive line? Personally, with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce throwing passes, I'm leaning toward Reid, who loves to show he's the smartest guy in the stadium. What say you?

ED HAYES (Lisle, IL)

Kansas City is going to be fine. Hunt is going to be fine. They have hit a lull, going 1-4 in their last five (after opening 5-0). But they still have plenty of talent, and they’ll right the ship. Mostly I think they’ll be helped dramatically by a really easy schedule. I will be surprised if they lose more than one of their final six games. They’ll probably be favored in all six of them – Bills, at Jets, Raiders, Chargers, Miami, at Denver. I’m aware Hunt hasn’t scored in seven straight games, but I think he’s still running hard and playing well. They’ll get him back on track, and he’ll probably be a top-5 in the final third of the season.

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Question 2

In a dynasty league, I have a chance to pick up Dion Lewis, but am wondering if he will be a Patriot next year. This is a contract year, and NE has White, Develin, and Gillislee, already signed through the 2018 season. What do you think NE will do? Will Lewis be successful in a different situation? Also, who has the best long term (next few years) outlook: Cameron Meredith (Chi.) or Curtis Samuel (Car.)?

mark meyer ()

I expect Lewis will re-sign with the Patriots. He’s a pretty ordinary back, I think. I don’t envision another team coming and with a big offer to try to lure him away. I imagine he’ll be back, and he’ll be competing for playing time with a bunch of other comparable backs – Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee, mostly. The contracts these guys sign in the offseason, I don’t think is that important. Once they’re into training camp and the regular season, the guys who do the best job of preparing and performing will play the most. As for the wide receivers, I would give a slight edge to Samuel. He’s the healthier of the two. He’s out for the year with a sprained ankle, but Meredith is working his way back from a torn ACL. Samuel didn’t make a big impact as a rookie, but he’s really fast. He ran a 4.31 at the combine. And the Panthers liked his progress enough that they decided to create more playing time for him by trading away Kelvin Benjamin. I expect Samuel will start for Carolina next year. With Meredith, I believe he would have been Chicago’s No. 1 receiver had he stayed healthy, but he’s got to work his way back and re-claim that spot. I expect Chicago probably will add a significant wide receiver in the offseason.

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Question 3

Great work this season as always. Wondering which starting QBs have the highest percentage of targets to WRs this season (Wentz, Watson?) and which have the lowest (Alex Smith?).

Peter Chen (Stanford, CA)

I haven’t tabulated all the exact WR-TE-RB numbers, comparing how the different passing attacks break down. I get into that in January and February. With quarterbacks, though, we can look at yards per completion. That’s an indication of which quarterbacks are getting the ball downfield. It tends to show which quarterbacks are trying to push it downfield, and which ones are more likely to settle for a short check-down throw.

Deshaun Watson1261,69913.48
Jared Goff1952,61013.38
Mitchell Trubisky7798812.83
Carson Wentz1902,43012.79
Philip Rivers2412,94812.23
Kirk Cousins2493,03812.20
Matthew Stafford2473,01012.19
C.J. Beathard1011,22912.17
Jacoby Brissett1792,17212.13
Jameis Winston1591,92012.08
Carson Palmer1641,97812.06
Tom Brady2613,14712.06
Ben Roethlisberger2172,59711.97
Marcus Mariota1762,08911.87
Russell Wilson2362,80111.87
Andy Dalton1832,15811.79
Matt Ryan2182,56711.78
Alex Smith2312,67411.58
Drew Brees2442,78311.41
Case Keenum2182,47611.36
Blake Bortles1842,08411.33
Cam Newton2002,23211.16
Trevor Siemian1521,66910.98
Aaron Rodgers1281,38510.82
Derek Carr2042,19110.74
DeShone Kizer1481,55510.51
Dak Prescott2212,31810.49
Josh McCown2162,24210.38
Tyrod Taylor1781,84210.35
Brett Hundley969409.79
Eli Manning2472,4119.76
Jay Cutler1751,6029.15
Joe Flacco2091,7348.30

To me, it’s the names at the bottom of the list that stand out – Flacco, Cutler, Manning. These guys have been good quarterbacks, but they don’t seem to have it anymore. They’re not connecting on enough meaningful downfield passes. Especially Flacco. He’s averaging only 8.3 yards per completion (not attempt, but on completed passes). In this century, only one other quarterback has attempted 200 passes in a season and finished under 9 yards (Ryan Fitzpatrick with the Bengals, nine years ago). Only two other quarterbacks (in the last 17 years) aren’t at least a yard ahead of Flacco – Cutler this year, and David Carr with Houston in 2006. Flacco has been terrible. With both him and Manning, I think it’s time for those teams to figure out how to transition to new quarterbacks. At the plus end of the chart, I see Goff at No. 2. I don’t consider him to be a great downfield thrower, but it’s been remarkable what Sean McVay has been able to do with him. Three outlier type guys in the top 10 (guys I don’t think you’ll see in the top 10 next year) – Trubisky, Beathard, Brissett. They’re all younger guys I would expect would more often be settling for the short, safe completions, but it hasn’t played out that way.

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Question 4

In a rotisserie league where we start double of everything (2 TE, 4 RB) I currently have Abdullah, Allen, Booker, Freeman, Hunt, Mack at RB and Engram, Ertz, Graham at TE. Was offered Peterson for Graham. This seems like a good trade, I can only start 2 TEs and would still have two good ones, plus I pick up a RB that I would start most every week ... right ?


How good is Peterson? He had the two monster games, going over 130 rushing yards against the Bucs and 49ers, but those are really bad defenses. In each of his other three games, he ran for under 30 yards and averaged under 2 yards per carry. They’ve got six games left. I would expect you’re getting probably two serviceable games in there, but not necessarily any upper-level games. Bruce Arians says he doesn’t expect David Johnson to come back off injured reserve, so Peterson at least should start six games. But I would be inclined to stick with three three tight ends. That way, if one of the gets hurt or heads south, it will still be a position of strength. If either Ertz, Engram, Graham or Russell Wilson gets hurt, you’ll wish you hadn’t made the trade.

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Question 5

So for those of us in seasonal PPR leagues that listened early and often to Ian and his predictions, and were fortunate enough to have drafted both Ingram and Kamara, can you help us prepare for the playoffs and the potential that these guys get rested headed into the weeks 14-16? Any thoughts on whether Jonathan Williams or Trey Edmunds can step up and see similar touch potential and production down the stretch? Or does Willie Snead see increased touches if one of them suffers injury?

Marc Mayfield (Longview, TX)

I wouldn’t be planning on the Saints resting players. They’re in a remarkably tough division, with Carolina and Atlanta nipping at their heels. They’re also neck-and-neck with Minnesota, competing for a first-round bye. I don’t know if it’s even mathematically possible for the Saints to logically want to rest players in Week 15 or 16. Maybe it happens in Week 17, but I wouldn’t have much interest in Williams or Edmunds. If the Saints are holding out Brees and putting together a simplified game plan, the backup running backs wouldn’t be producing at the Ingram-Kamara level.

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Question 6

Starting to look at matchups for the playoffs. I have Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham. The Seahawks play Jacksonville Week 14. Do I need to stash a best available QB and TE on my bench for that week? Any suggestions for players with good matchups that week?

Jordan Simons (Belgium, WI)

It’s early. The decision need not be made today. But I would think you’ll want to think about other options. Jacksonville has been remarkably good defensively, especially against the pass. They’re allowing a league-low 188 passing yards per game, with only 7 TDs. They’ve played against six quarterbacks with some ability, and those guys haven’t been productive.

Decent QBs against Jacksonville

But Wilson doesn’t look benchable right now. In his last eight games he’s averaged 306 passing and 38 rushing yards, with a combined 22 TDs. He’s a one-man offense right now, involved in all but one of Seattle’s touchdowns – he’s their leading rusher and passer. So even in a lousy matchup, he’ll probably grade out as a top-5 type quarterback. You’re not going to find somebody on the waiver wire that you would be willing to start ahead of him. For Week 14, the candidate likely will be Blaine Gabbert, playing at home against a Tennessee secondary that’s been iffy at times, allowing three different quarterbacks to throw 4 TDs. But you’ll be starting Wilson. Similarly with the tight ends. You can poke around with some different options, but it will be hard to find somebody you would be willing to seriously consider starting ahead of Graham.

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Question 7

As the season begins to wind down, are there any predictions you made that you are particularly proud of and likewise upset with? I have been mixing your predictions with mine for years and we make a great team. I am proud that I ignored coach-talk about Cam Newton not running the football and I am upset with my feeling that Sammy Watkins would be a good player in LA. Marvin Jones is a guy on my team because of you and was a great value. Also, make your readers aware Baltimore plays Indy and Cleveland in week 15 and 16.

Yaesha Newman ()

I’ve haven’t made an effort to document the success rate on all of my picks. First step, I suppose would be identifying the dozen or so most notable selections. I haven’t done that. Isaiah Crowell, Pierre Garcon, Ty Montgomery, Erik Swoope and Jonathan Williams were guys who at some point in the offseason I had flagged as sleeper-type guys – they were winding up on my teams. Garcon was doing what I thought he would, but he got hurt. Montgomery got hurt. Crowell hasn’t been as good as I expected. Williams got cut. After seeing a little of Dalvin Cook in the preseason, I came to the conclusion he’d be the best of the rookie running backs. He was having a great year until he got hurt. And after Spencer Ware got hurt and I saw Kareem Hunt in the preseason, I was aware he could be a top-10 back. When I was putting together the rankings in August, I kept noticing that Mark Ingram and Adam Thielen were tending to bubble to the surface. I did a couple of drafts where those guys were the highest-rated on the board when I was on the clock, and I was trying to logically talk myself out of selecting them. Sometimes it’s better to just stick with the research. As for Newton, I completely bought into the narrative that he would run less. Made a lot of sense to me – it’s not sustainable, I think, to have a quarterback taking that many hits. I am in agreement on the Ravens. I think they’ll be helped a bunch by their closing schedule (not just those two games). I just wish their offense was better.

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Question 8

FFI was pretty high on Virgil Green last season. Any chance he comes up big with Derby out now? He is clearly talented, but Denver doesn't seem to think he is worth a full time receiving role. Is he worth a desperate waiver wire gamble?

John Klindworth (Richland, WA)

I don’t think so. I don’t think he’s a good enough receiver. He’ll play (I think he’s their best blocker) but I expect they’ll continue using multiple tight ends. They just added Austin Traylor off their practice squad, and he might post better receiving numbers in the final six weeks of the season. Traylor led their tight ends with 4 catches in his first game. With the Broncos also having a lesser passing offense, I don’t think either Green or Traylor is particularly likely to be one of the top 25 tight ends in the final third of the season.

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Question 9

In our draft, I was pleased to select the NY Giants' Defense who were top-ranked in the Index's custom rankings for our scoring system. They currently are ranked 21st and having a miserable season. Could you explain some of the factors that made you so high on the Giants' Defense at the start of the season and what went so wrong for them? Is drafting Team Defenses just a total crapshoot?

Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)

The Giants ranked 2nd in scoring defense a year ago and had all of their key guys coming back, including the defensive coordinator pulling the strings, Steve Spagnuolo. This was the one defense that was able to slow down Dallas in 2016. So I was of the school of thought it would again be one of the league’s premier defenses. Maybe I should have given more weight to New York ranking 30th in scoring defense the previous year, but the personnel on that defense was significantly different. I thought the Giants were positioned for another good season. In this century there have been 35 teams ranking first or second in scoring defense (that includes one year with a tie). The next year, 60 percent of those teams at least ranked in the top 10. Almost half of the 35 teams (16 of 35) ranked in the top 4. But there are some defenses that invariably sour. Ten of those 35 teams didn’t even rank in top 20. With the Giants, they were running the same scheme and hadn’t suffered any notable losses via injury, free agency or retirement, so I didn’t’ see them as a likely candidate to go from boom to bust.

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Question 10

In a TD-heavy league with a transaction deadline ending next weekend excepting injuries. I picked up Jamaal Williams but uncertain what happens when Montgomery/Jones returns. My only other decent pick up would be Marlon Mack.

HOWIE FISHMAN (Hermosa Beach, CA)

Williams has had some opportunities this year and has been underwhelming, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry. He’s not going to do anything on Sunday at Pittsburgh, and I expect Ty Montgomery will be back the following week. Aaron Jones maybe not far behind. Williams is the 3rd-best back on a really bad team, I think. So I would rather take a flyer on Mack. He’s unpolished and they don’t seem to trust him in pass protection, but he’s shown some explosiveness. In limited playing time, he’s got 4 runs over 20 yards, 3 receptions over 20 yards and has scored 3 TDs (plus another the Colts didn’t realize they should have challenged).

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Question 11

What's the latest injury update on Rams back up Malcolm Brown? I'm heading into the playoffs with Gurley, and the waiver wire is picked clean of RBs. Will Brown be a suitable handcuff anytime soon?

JEFF POWERS (Coral Springs, FL)

He hasn’t been practicing at all, so I don’t expect he’ll be their backup this week. But if the Rams didn’t believe he’d be coming back, they would have put on injured reserve. When he got hurt, Sean McVay said he’d be down for a few weeks. I think he’s missing his third game on Sunday. So I think they’re on schedule. I imagine he’ll be back in the No. 2 role in Week 13-15.

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Question 12

In basically a half-point PPR 12 team league, I need to start 2 of these three but can’t decide which ones. The past couple of weeks I’ve been starting the wrong guys. I need to choose from D.Thomas, C.Kupp, or R.Matthews. I’m in a must-win situation. I know each has advantages and disadvantages. Who are the best two to start down the home stretch? Thanks for the help.

Steve Campagna (Miami, FL)

I would go game by game. Each week you look the various matchups and go with the two you think will be the best. I wouldn’t lock into starting the same two in all games. Matthews has some good matchups coming up. With Kupp, I think the Rams will need to use him a little more now with Robert Woods injured. Broncos are going with Paxton Lynch at quarterback this week. I don’t know if he can play at all. If he really busts, they could be back to Trevor Siemian next week. If they go back to Brock Osweiler, that might be a good thing for you – Osweiler has tended to lock in on Thomas.

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