Ian Allan answers your fantasy questions. In this edition. A 1 thru 32 ranking of the league's slot receivers. How to allocate dollars in an auction. Why 1986 was a sneaky good year for fantasy football. Five wide receivers to target in the first round of a PPR draft. And more. (Not much more, but more).
I am a LONGTIME subscriber and super-fanatic receiver. I need a list of each team’s slot receiver, preferably listed from best to worst. This would really help in my PPR league.
David Miller (New Lenox, IL)
There are some tough calls. I am not sure, for example, that I would call Tyler Lockett or Cooper Kupp a true “slot” receiver. But I expect them to run more of the short-range inside routes than anyone else on their teams. Kansas City doesn’t have a slot receiver; Demarcus Robinson will be their third receiver, but he’s definitely not a slot, so I used Sammy Watkins. The Bucs and Chargers have third receivers who play outside and run veteran routes, so I went with Chris Godwin and Keenan Allen as their slots. With the Cardinals, they’ll play mostly four wide receivers, so I listed two of their guys. Many think rookie Andy Isabella will play in the slot for them, but I think he’ll be more of an outside guy, where he can use his 4.31 speed. That’s how they used him at UMass. So I went with Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald as their slots.
|PLAYING THE SLOTS|
Trying to decide what is the best way to allocate auction dollars to running backs and wide receivers. In years past, say if 60 were selected, I would have 40 going for over the minimum. Same with the wide receivers. Looking at the board this year, I really feel like running backs (and WRs) after say 30 are all worth about the same. I mean, does it really matter if I get Lamar Miller or Damien Harris? Those players to me are about the same, so I feel like each should be worth just the $1 minimum. The only problem with this is that it really inflates the value of the top players. What do you think? I understand that there are several different scoring systems, but assuming your standard league, where would you start putting the $1 min at for RBs and WRs?
Rick Anderson (Sun Prairie, WI)
It sounds to me like you’re on the right track. For me, I like to go down the list until I start hitting names where I’m confident they’re not going for more than $1. At wide receiver, I’m thinking that’s either Dede Westbrook (who’s in my top 30) or into the mid-30s, where we see Christian Kirk, Dante Pettis, Geronimo Allison and Marvin Jones. To me, those guys smell like $1.00 players. They have some upside, but there’s also the potential that by mid-September, they’ll have had a couple of modest games and you’ll have decided that there’s somebody else on the waiver wire that you like more. Your own ability to identify and capture decent players on the waiver wire becomes part of the decision making. I’m not opposed to being aggressive and setting those baselines at 30 or 35 (out of 60 players). In your league, you can be sure there will be plenty of good players signed as free agents during the regular season (especially at QB and TE), so the name of the game is to land the difference makers. Land 2-3 really good performers, then making numerous adjustments during the season. As the league gets larger and more players are needed to be starters (with all the starting wide receivers and promising handcuff backs selected) it makes more sense to go with a more balanced, deeper roster.
I've played and commished since 1982. I've purchased your magazine every year it’s been out. My friends and I who have played together since 1982 cannot remember the name of your magazine prior to its name change and becoming Fantasy Index. What was the name of the original magazine? And second question, I've seen a lot of leagues that have been around for 10 or 20 years. As our league approaches 40 years (still 5 original members - would be more but three have passed away) how long have you played and how often do you run into someone who has played for more than 30 years? I'm curious because I never run into anyone who has played for that long.
Ron Lane (Redmond, OR)
We haven’t been around as long as your league. I started playing in 1986. I was a journalism student at the University of Washington at the time. One of the other students in the class also worked evenings at the Rainier Beer brewery; he was in a league with the guys there. As he explained the game, I remember him pointing at me and saying, ‘this game is perfect for you.’ I was hooked immediately. Before I had even drafted my first player, I was the commissioner of two different leagues. Using a typewriter, I put together a 8-10 page draft manual for each franchise, with rules, schedules (both NFL and for the fantasy league), a roster sheet and a page for each position, showing how the players had performed the previous year. In hindsight, 1986 was a super interesting year, with a whole bunch of really good players coming over from the USFL. With Dallas, for example, you had to decide whether to draft Tony Dorsett (who’d run for 1,307 yards and 7 TDs the previous year) or instead go with Herschel Walker, who the previous year ran for 2,411 yards and 21 TDs for the New Jersey Generals). When we originally published the magazine, it was called simply “Fantasy Football”. Fantasy Football ’87, Fantasy Football ’88, Fantasy Football ’89. It wasn’t until 1995 that we added on the word “Index”.
I've won my league the past 2 years, thanks in part to your advice. My question: We can keep 5 players. My first 4 are pretty set, but I'm debating whether to keep Luck or Ertz as my 5th keeper. Our scoring system is TD-heavy, with 6 points for both TD throws and TD catches. Luck ranks 18th, Ertz 35th in your rankings customized for our scoring, which seems like a significant difference. My concern is that Ertz is one of just 3 or 4 elite TEs, while there seem to be many more QBs worth starting. We don't draft until after Labor Day, so I have plenty of time to ponder this. Thoughts?
Eric Pryne (Vashon, WA)
With the 6 points for touchdown passes, my analysis leads me to believe you'll be better off selecting Luck. Keep in mind that tight end is similar to quarterback in that there will be some good ones that will be undervalued or perhaps not even chosen at all. I would expect that after your draft is complete, look back and see where Austin Hooper goes. I would expect the Luck-Hooper combo will be more productive than the tandem of Ertz and whatever quarterback you take where Hooper is selected. But I will agree that it's a tough one. Part of the answer is tied to how the other owners in your league value quarterbacks. If you're super confident you can get really good quarterbacks in the middle and later rounds, I'm not opposed to instead going with Ertz. He's a real nice player.
I am in a league that awards points to running backs for yards per rushing attempt but in order to qualify for any points for this stat the RB must have at least 5 rushing attempts in the game. Because of the 5 attempt minimum I've tended to avoid drafting RBs who are primarily pass catching backs so that I wouldn't have to sweat out whether they were going to meet the minimum. Looks like I missed out on golden opportunity last season and don't want to make the same mistake this year. In our league last season James White and Tarik Cohen finished with the 12th and 17th most points respectively. White had 94 attempts last year while Cohen had 99 so both were hovering just above the 5-attempt threshhold. How safe a bet do you think these guys are to average 5 carries a game?
KEN STEPHENSON (Peoria, AZ)
I expect both backs to be used in the same kind of way. They might both catch over 80 passes. I don’t expect either to lead their teams in rushing; they’re smaller backs who primarily they’re playing on passing downs. Running a lot of draws, however, they should have plenty of games where they finish with a good yards-per-carry average. Cohen had at least 5 carries in all but three games last year (one being in the playoffs); he averaged at least 5 yards per carry in five of those 14 games. White finished with at least 5 rushing attempts in 10 of his 19 games; he averaged at least 5 yards per attempt in 4 of those 10 games. With both guys, it’s the receiving rather than the rushing that drives the value. As I compare my rankings to the ADP data, White and Cohen seem to be the two running backs who are the most undervalued – many fantasy leaguers, I think, don’t want to draft third-down type backs.
I play almost exclusively in auction leagues of 10-12 players. Your magazine provides woefully little help for me in my bidding process as your only auction pages deal with a best-ball format which most of us don't play. Could you perhaps give us an Auction Cheat Sheet next year? I would really like to continue with FFI in the future.
Dwight Johnson (Columbia, MD)
To be meaningful, auction values have to be accurate. They need to be based on the correct number of teams selecting the correct number of players with the correct scoring system. With so many variables, the permutations add up quickly. I could publish 100 different auction cheat sheets and possibly not hit one that fits with your league. So for auction leagues, you need to get those off our website. Go to the home page and click on “Your Stuff”. Under the “Dwight’s Products” scroll, click on the “Cheat Sheet Custom Rankings and Auction Values” link. In there, you’ll find auction values for the 16 most popular scoring formats, including standard, PPR, TD-only, ESPN, NFL.com and Yahoo. All of those leagues have different rules and roster sizes. Pick the option that is the closest fit with your league. If it’s not an exact fit, then you need to make a few adjustments to make sure it’s dialed in properly. (Perhaps, for example, the prices are based on teams selecting 20 players, but you select only 18 in your league, or maybe they’re based on 12 teams, but you have only 10.) If you need to make adjustments, open the closest fit and then click on the “copy it to create your own …” link at the top of the page. Once we have the correct number of teams selecting the correct number of players with the correct scoring system, you can go into your auction knowing exactly what each player is actually worth. We update the player projections twice per week in August, and those revised numbers are automatically fed into the right auction value filter for your league.
PPR league. I can keep JuJu, Dalvin Cook or OBJ. Who would you keep? We start 2 rbs, 2 wrs and no flex.
Phil Scarcella (Palm Coast, FL)
JuJu Smith-Schuster will put up top-5 receiving numbers. He’s probably catching 100-110 passes and 9-10 TDs. I’ve got him in the top tier of receivers (along with Hopkins, Adams, Thomas and Tyreek Hill). He’s the guy I would choose. If there’s some kind of development in camp – he strains a hamstring or Ben Roethlisberger picks up some kind of troubling injury – then Cook would next in line. Beckham is fine, but I’ve got him behind those guys.
I am picking number 5 overall. In a PPR league would you choose between David Johnson or DeAndre Hopkins?
DAVID GORMAN (Princeton, NJ)
I don’t think Johnson is in the discussion. Is the offense any good? Maybe, but I can’t say for sure. When he was at Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury didn’t use running backs much as pass catchers, and that’s crucial in this format. I expect the first four picks will be Barkley, McCaffrey, Elliott and Kamara. In my eyes, the decision is whether you go with one of the top 5 wide receivers (a group that includes Hopkins) or instead select Travis Kelce.
Are you aware of a site that allows all teams to play each other every week (in 12 team league, high scorer for the week is 11-0) and then play head to head in the playoffs?
Bill Haley ()
If you want to turn down the luck factor and have the best team win, that’s a great way to go. Many prefer to have an opponent each week. So a compromise is to stick with head-to-head but give the six highest-scoring teams an extra. In that format, each team goes 2-0, 1-1 or 0-2 each week (though ties are also possible). These kind of features can worked into the big-time sites. Real Time Sports (rtsports.com) would be able to handle such a league. We have the two sample leagues in the magazine – the Mock Draft and the Mock Auction – that use that All-Play format, and they’re run on the Real Time Sports site every year. MyFantasyLeague can also handle an All-Play format. Both of those sites have been in the business for decades, and they’re both very reliable.