Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. Making sense of the various statistical tools. What is the long-term value of Alvin Kamara? Is Stefon Diggs overdue for a rebound? And what to make of Ricky Seals-Jones.

Question 1

On both websites that I use, the site conveniently shows the rank of the opponent versus the position of the player on my roster. Recently I saw the actual score allowed by two teams that were ranked 10 spots apart but only varied by 2 points allowed to that position. Seems like I should just ignore the difference in ranking for most matchups and use the best (hottest) player. Thoughts?


Stats can be useful, but they have to be properly analyzed – brought into context. Kansas City, for example, ranks 6th in scoring, but that clearly isn’t the league’s 6th-best offense. It scored 9 TDs in its first two games, but it’s scored only 20 in last 10, which is below average. Or look at Baltimore’s pass defense. It seems really good, but then you start looking at how many bad quarterbacks they’ve played, and it starts to look more like just an above-average pass defense – I think Roethlisberger, playing at home, will be just fine against those guys (especially with Jimmy Smith just being lost with a season-ending injury). You mention ranks of defenses versus positions. Rather than a 1-32 rank, I would be more interested in looking at comps. That is, Zach Ertz is playing against the Rams this week. Don’t tell me how good the Rams are against tight ends. Instead show me how Rams have performed against tight ends who are similar in ability and playing style to Ertz. In this case, I would say there are five tight ends who’ve played against Los Angeles that are anywhere to Ertz, and with three of them, there role was probably diminished by their teams running for over 170 yards (Reed, Witten, Rudolph). I don’t see anything in there numbers that suggests we should be shying away from the Philadelphia tight end this week.

Jordan Reed6480
Jason Witten190
Jimmy Graham6371
Evan Engram4701
Kyle Rudolph5580

But I digress. Stats are good, but they become a lot more telling when properly utilized.

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Question 2

I am in a PPR league where we can franchise one player from our team. I have both Fournette and Kamara. Which player do you anticipate would be better next season?

WAYNE SYLVIA (East Falmouth, MA)

Kamara, and I don’t think it’s even close. PPR scoring, you want guys who catch passes. Fournette is below-average in that area – type of back who might catch 30 passes in a typical season. Kamara, on the other hand, looks like he’ll be an integral part of the New Orleans passing game for years, cranking out a bunch of seasons with 70-80 catches. This year, for example, Kamara so far has about 200 more total yards (worth about 20 more points) but he’s caught 37 more passes – that’s a 37-point advantage in PPR. With Fournette being a physical, freight-train type runner, he’ll also probably have a harder time staying healthy.

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Question 3

Alex Smith or Jared Goff for week 14? Do you believe, as Eleff does, that Rams/Eagles will be high scoring? Do you think Smith's poor stats at home are an aberration? Big thanks, and Merry Xmas to you and all the sharpshooting Jedi at the Index.


Aberration. Yes, that’s the perfect word. I don’t think there’s anything about the playing surface, crowd noise, air quality or whatever that’s preventing Alex Smith from playing well at Arrowhead. He’s playing against a lesser defense, and I think he’s going to have a big game on Sunday. Mobility is a big plus; he’s averaging 28 rushing yards per game, while Goff is a pocket passer who doesn’t run at all. I’m not confident that the Rams will move the ball reliably. The Eagles rank No. 1 in run defense, so I’m thinking they should have some success slowing down Todd Gurley. With the way Philadelphia has been scoring points, it also could move to a quick lead, forcing the Rams to pass more often than they would like. Los Angeles is playing without its leading receiver (Robert Woods), and with the Eagles also have a very good pass rush, I think they get after Goff and harass him into a lesser game. I would feel far more comfortable with Smith as my starting quarterback this week.

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Question 4

Playoffs start in week 15. I will have Dak as my QB. In a keeper league with no other QB. I cut Charles Clay for Ricky Seals-Jones and cut Jamaal Williams for Austin Ekeler. I also have Davante Adams and Todd Gurley and Robby Anderson. Interested in your critique of my team moving forward.

HOWIE FISHMAN (Hermosa Beach, CA)

It would be nice if you could maybe bring in another quarterback to potentially start. Prescott has been struggling – 4 straight games under 180 passing yards, and he didn’t throw any touchdowns in three of those games. Unless he inches forward a little bit this week, I would be leery of starting him in Week 15. Bold move going with Seals-Jones over Clay. Clay is an experienced starter who’s been fairly productive, and he’s got a good matchup in Week 15 – at home against Miami (also his original team). Seals-Jones, on the other hand, is a rookie the Cardinals have been experimenting with. He broke him out at Houston, where he caught 3 passes for 54 yards and 2 TDs while getting on the field for only 8 plays. They’ve mixed him in more the last two games. He’s been on the field for less than a quarter of their plays (17 and 15) but when he’s been out there, they’ve been looking to use him as a pass catcher. He’s running more downfield routes than most tight ends. He caught 4 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville – Blaine Gabbert lobbed a long ball to him even though he was well covered. Seals-Jones has had a catch over 25 yards in every game. Seems to be emerging, but I’d want to see what he does in Week 14 before committing to using him in Week 15 at Washington.

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Question 5

Confused on your redraft rankings. Why did Diggs move up almost 20 spots after another bad performance? He has 1 td since week 3 and is clearly second fiddle to Thielen. He has had one very good game since his injury and more duds than good games.

Vernon Jones (Marriottsville, MD)

He’s a good player. One of four receivers, I think, who have gone over 160 yards three times in the last two years. When he’s on, he looks like he’s another Antonio Brown. He had the groin injury that affected him for about a month, but if you look at his first four games and last four games, you will see an average of 75 receiving yards, with 5 TDs in those eight games. And the Vikings are for real. I have expected them to lose in their last two games (at Detroit and at Atlanta) but they’ve instead held serve nicely. They’ll be playing at least one home playoff game. They’re at Carolina this week. I think the Panthers will do a better job than a lot of other opponents of slowing down Minnesota’s running game, and that should translate into the Vikings doing more through the air. With Case Keenum having thrown for 280-plus yards in four of his last five and having thrown 2-plus TDs in four of his last five, I’ve bought in on that offense more. So I pumped up the team projection some for the final month. I did not look at Diggs specifically and say, “I need to get him 20 spots higher.” The movement occurred through the adjustments to Minnesota’s offense (and the other 31 teams).

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Question 6

Long-time subscriber. One simple question. Need to win this week like a lot of other people. 4 points for TD pass and 1 point for every 20 yards passing. Rushing is 1 point for every 10 yards. Wilson or Rivers at QB.


You dance with what brung ya. It’s a lousy matchup for Wilson, but with his all-around game, I think he still grades out favorably in comparison with Rivers. Rivers can’t run; that’s the difference. When Wilson runs for 30-40 yards on Sunday, it will be like him getting a head start of 60-80 passing yards. And he’s been involved in all but one of Seattle’s 30 touchdowns. Rivers had a far better matchup last week and Wilson still beat him. Rivers passed for 344 yards but just one touchdown against Cleveland, finishing with about 21.2 fantasy points. Wilson passed for 227 against the Eagles, but with 31 rushing yards and 3 TD passes. That’s 26.5 fantasy points – beat him by more than a touchdown pass.

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Question 7

Each of the past couple weeks it seems that I'm always faced with the dilemma of who to start at flex in a PPR league ... Rex Burkhead or Marvin Jones. Both always seem to be equivalent in the Weekly rankings. As I enter the first round of the playoffs and based on matchups this week, I'm currently leaning towards Jones (at TB) rather than Burkhead (at Mia), although both are decent matchups. Which way do you go?

Rich Wiegard (Frisco, TX)

I am leery of the Lions. It’s not certain that Matthew Stafford will play, and if he does, he might not be as effective with the damaged throwing hand. If Jake Rudock quarterbacks a good chunk of that game, I want no part of Jones. And note that Tampa Bay’s defense, lousy as it’s been, has been remarkably better at home – 15 points per game at home, versus 30 points per game on the road. They’ve played five games at home, and they’ve allowed under 20 points in all but one of them. Sign me up for Burkhead, please.

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Question 8

Just made the playoffs by the skin of my teeth. I’m defending the Cup having won last year (our league’s 28th year). Straight TD league, need to start three from Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Dez Bryant, Marqise Lee, Golden Tate, or Josh Doctson, and Stafford is my QB any insight on his status?

BRIAN DAWE (Belmont, MA)

I wouldn’t want to start Stafford. I’m not even sure he’s playing, and I don’t have confidence in him even if he does. That Tampa Bay defense has been a lot better at home. I would be looking over the waiver wire to see if there’s maybe a lesser quarterback with a far better matchup. Maybe Blaine Gabbert or Jimmy Garoppolo? For receivers, I think you’re looking at Kupp, Adams and Bryant.

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Question 9

I have Demaryius Thomas and Sanders in a lot of places is it best to bench them? Bench them in favor of guys like Mike Davis, Alfred Morris, and Sterling Shepard?

David Kennedy (Steamburg, NY)

Sounds like you’re on the right track. I would probably role with Morris and Shepard. Giants have struggled, but I think there could be a dead cat bounce this week with the coaching change and Eli back in the lineup. If Morris goes over 100 yards I’ll probably feature him in a trivia question next week. Dallas has had a 100-yard runner in three straight games at MetLife against the Giants, and they’ve done it with different backs every year – DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, Ezekiel Elliott. I believe four different backs in four straight years would be a first. You have a chance to get in on that.

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