Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: Weighing the pros and cons of Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott. The best draft position. Big-play wide receivers. And the wisdom of spending big on an elite running back.
I heard a vigorous radio debate about the relative merits of Carson Wentz vs. Dak Prescott. Each has played 40 or more games so far, but Prescott clearly has better cumulative numbers in virtually all categories. Wentz has shown more season-season improvement, but also has a greater health risk, so there's a valid argument that Prescott should negotiate at least as good a contract as Wentz. I see you have Wentz projected as a top-5 QB for the upcoming season, with Prescott only a top-15. Why so big a difference in their ratings? Personally, if I was going to bet on the better results over the next four years, I think I would take Prescott just for the fact that his knees are healthier.
Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)
With Wentz, we’ve seen greatness. If not for the ACL injury, he would have been the league’s MVP in 2017. With Prescott, I’m not positive he’s any better than Andy Dalton. I don’t know if he’s got the necessary accuracy and vision. I saw him misfire a lot last year when Michael Gallup was open downfield for chunk plays. Prescott will be more productive as a runner, and I will concede that he’s more likely to play 64 games over the next four years. But if the question is, which player will have the most games over the next four years where he puts up top-10 passing numbers, I will take Wentz. Definitely.
In our league, we decide where we want to draft by random selection. Snake draft. Usually Ian, you like to select as early as possible. Given the many question marks with Elliott and Gordon, Gurley, A.Brown and Beckham, would that still be your plan? How would you rank the 10 drafting spots in order?
Bryan Morris (Pine City, NY)
I don’t think Saquon Barkley is a knockout choice at No. 1. He’s not as coveted as players who typically are selected first. I don’t see much difference between the top 4 players on the board; any of those running backs would be a nice opening pick (though with Elliott, he’s staying away from camp). So you could argue that 2nd, 3rd or 4th might be nice, giving you a better chance of landing a slipping franchise receiver in the second round. But when I run the numbers on this, they indicate that the first two draft picks should be the best. For this exercise, I’m assuming there are 10 teams in the league, and that they’ll all pick them as I have them ranked. After six rounds, Pick #1 should have 464 points (adjusted points, removing baseline points from each position). The 2nd and 3rd slots come in next, and it tends to follow the 1-10 order. This is using PPR scoring, but I run these kind of numbers all the time, and they don’t tend to change much for standard scoring.
|BEST DRAFT POSITION|
|(snake draft format)||Points|
I am in a 12-team PPR redraft league. Instead of randomly selecting the pick order for the draft we randomly select the order in which you can choose your pick. Meaning if you get randomly drawn first you can pick any slot 1-12. I have the third choice of draft slot. I know there are four backs in their own tier but Elliot makes that more complicated. Of the draft slots 1-12 which are the three most valuable this year in your eyes?
Joseph Pizzica (Wynnewood, PA)
Somebody else this week asked about draft order, only for 10 teams. The answers are similar. When I look at projected points after six rounds (with everyone drafting like Ian Allan would) I have the first three draft positions as the best.
|BEST DRAFT POSITION|
|(snake draft format)||Points|
As I watch Dallas Goedert I can’t help but to think that he is destined to be a top 5 tight end. The guy is just too good to be a No. 2 posting mediocre numbers forever. Is there precedence for a supremely talented player never getting the opportunity to be an elite player because there was an elite player in front of them? This is pretty important in dynasty leagues where we are trying to weigh ability with opportunity.
John Evans (Rochester, MN)
I agree with your assessment. As I was watching Goedert catch 3 passes for 50 yards in the preseason game last week against the Titans it occurred to me that he looks like he’s going to be a great tight end for a lot of years. He looks like he’s better than most starting tight ends right now. Of the other seven teams in the East divisions, for example, I don’t think any of them has a tight end who’s better than Goedert. He’s huge, and he can get downfield and make plays. I expect the Eagles will adjust their offense to get him on the field a lot more. They’ve got Zach Ertz, of course, but Goedert is too good to leave parked in a spot-duty role. I checked some numbers on this. In the last 20 years, 15 tight ends have finished with top-20 numbers despite not being the most productive tight end on their own team. That includes Goedert last year (ranking 20th in PPR scoring as a rookie despite making the step up from playing at tiny South Dakota State). Very much a candidate for top-15 numbers this year.
|BEST SECOND TIGHT ENDS (last 20 years)|
|2011||Aaron Hernandez, N.E.||79||910||7||216.5||3|
|2010||Aaron Hernandez, N.E.||45||563||6||142.0||14|
|2016||Hunter Henry, S.D.||36||478||8||131.8||18|
|2012||Aaron Hernandez, N.E.||51||483||5||129.8||19|
|2005||Erron Kinney, Ten.||55||543||2||121.3||13|
|2014||Dwayne Allen, Ind.||29||395||8||116.5||19|
|2017||O.J. Howard, T.B.||26||432||6||105.2||20|
|2004||Marcus Pollard, Ind.||29||309||6||95.9||16|
|1999||Marcus Pollard, Ind.||34||374||4||95.4||11|
|2018||Cameron Brate, T.B.||30||289||6||94.9||19|
|2000||Marcus Pollard, Ind.||30||439||3||93.9||12|
|2018||• Dallas Goedert, Phil.||33||334||4||90.4||20|
|2001||Dwayne Carswell, Den.||34||299||4||89.9||16|
|2001||Ken Dilger, Ind.||32||343||1||80.3||20|
|2000||Desmond Clark, Den.||27||339||3||78.9||17|
You give DJ Moore highest rating in the country and them write about a backup RB and a kicker? What is up with that?
Richard Asciutto (Scarsdale, NY)
Moore has been there all along. He was high on my board in magazine. He was in the same spot in July. He’s still there. I am operating under the assumption that readers have seen the reasoning a few times. I was figuring readers would get annoyed if having to read to same scouting report week after week. Typically with updates, I’m trying to focus on what has changed. As the meaningful preseason games begin, the focus is on develops should be altering your thinking. If something happens that causes me to believe that the team’s expected 2nd-best wide receiver will probably now be only their 3rd-best receiver, that’s what I’ll be leading with.
You have projected Evans and Godwin as top 15 WRs. And Howard top 10 TE. But Winston is all the way down at QB17?
Nick Purkat (Fairfax, VA)
Like Kyler Murray, Winston has some upside. There’ some potential for top-10 numbers. But there’s also the possibility that things go horribly wrong. Winston has dished up a lot of ill-advised fumbles and interceptions in recent years. (With Murray, the risk is tied more to durability.) If Winston can’t take care of the ball and win games, the Bucs might have to pull him. So if I’m picking, I would rather roll with a safer option – Brees, Roethlisberger, Cousins, Rivers.
One of the unique things about Fantasy Football (compared to Fantasy Basketball or Fantasy Baseball) is that there's seemingly a greater chance of your first-round pick becoming a bust. Whether it's due to injury, holdout, underperformance or suspension, the most highly coveted players don't always pan out. Players that "experts" deemed worthy of first-round selection. Many experienced fantasy players, however, favor the "studs & duds" approach to player selection. For good reason, as we've seen guys like Faulk, T.Davis, Holmes, L.Johnson, Barkley, Tomlinson and others carry fantasy teams. With this context, what advice would you give an owner who is considering how aggressively to pursue the top-flight RBs this year in their auction? Spending what percentage of auction budget on one player is ridiculous?
Greg Resin (Torrance, CA)
Typically there are a few owners at each auction who haven’t put much thought into strategy. Usually it will be one of those guys who decides to just spend whatever it takes to land one of the top few prospects. Figure out the rest of the roster later. That’s not my cup of tea. I prefer to over analyze everything, deciding the exact pressure points for each player – then you take whatever players happen to come your way. Your roster is influenced heavily by how the other teams are bidding. The hit rate on high-priced running backs probably isn’t as high as you might think. Of the last 54 running backs to rank in the top 3 in scoring (PPR system), only 20 ranked in the top 5 the next year.
|TOP-3 RUNNING BACKS (the next year)|
|2001||Marshall Faulk, St.L.||2,147||21||425.7||1|
|2001||Eddie George, Ten.||1,218||5||188.8||20|
|2001||Edgerrin James, Ind.||855||3||129.5||32|
|2002||Priest Holmes, K.C.||2,287||24||442.7||1|
|2002||Marshall Faulk, St.L.||1,490||10||289.0||10|
|2002||Ahman Green, G.B.||1,633||9||274.3||11|
|2003||Priest Holmes, K.C.||2,110||27||447.0||1|
|2003||LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D.||2,370||17||444.1||2|
|2003||Ricky Williams, Mia.||1,723||10||282.3||9|
|2004||LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D.||1,776||18||340.5||2|
|2004||Ahman Green, G.B.||1,438||8||236.8||11|
|2004||Priest Holmes, K.C.||1,079||15||216.9||18|
|2005||LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D.||1,832||20||368.6||2|
|2005||Tiki Barber, NYG||2,390||11||361.0||4|
|2005||Domanick Williams, Hou.||1,313||6||206.3||15|
|2006||LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D.||2,323||31||483.3||1|
|2006||Larry Johnson, K.C.||2,199||19||374.9||3|
|2006||Shaun Alexander, Sea.||944||7||148.4||33|
|2007||LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D.||1,949||18||367.8||2|
|2007||Steven Jackson, St.L.||1,273||6||205.4||15|
|2007||Larry Johnson, K.C.||745||4||128.5||37|
|2008||LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D.||1,536||12||277.6||6|
|2008||Brian Westbrook, Phil.||1,338||14||271.8||8|
|2008||Clinton Portis, Was.||1,705||9||252.5||10|
|2009||Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac.||1,765||16||325.5||4|
|2009||Matt Forte, Chi.||1,400||4||223.0||12|
|2009||DeAngelo Williams, Car.||1,369||7||209.9||16|
|2010||Adrian Peterson, Min.||1,639||13||277.9||5|
|2010||Chris Johnson, Ten.||1,609||12||276.9||6|
|2010||Ray Rice, Balt.||1,776||6||276.6||7|
|2011||LeSean McCoy, Phil.||1,624||20||330.4||2|
|2011||Arian Foster, Hou.||1,841||12||309.1||3|
|2011||Peyton Hillis, Clev.||717||3||111.7||44|
|2012||Arian Foster, Hou.||1,641||17||306.1||3|
|2012||Ray Rice, Balt.||1,621||10||283.1||4|
|2012||LeSean McCoy, Phil.||1,213||5||205.3||16|
|2013||Adrian Peterson, Min.||1,437||11||238.7||10|
|2013||Arian Foster, Hou.||725||2||108.5||46|
|2013||Doug Martin, T.B.||522||1||70.2||57|
|2014||Matt Forte, Chi.||1,846||10||350.6||3|
|2014||Jamaal Charles, K.C.||1,324||14||256.4||7|
|2014||LeSean McCoy, Phil.||1,474||5||205.4||12|
|2015||Matt Forte, Chi.||1,287||7||216.7||8|
|2015||DeMarco Murray, Phil.||1,024||7||188.4||15|
|2015||LeVeon Bell, Pitt.||692||3||111.2||49|
|2016||Devonta Freeman, Atl.||1,541||13||286.1||6|
|2016||Danny Woodhead, S.D.||151||1||27.1||98|
|2016||Adrian Peterson, Min.||80||0||11.0||123|
|2017||LeVeon Bell, Pitt.||1,946||11||345.6||2|
|2017||Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.||1,252||9||205.2||12|
|2017||David Johnson, Ariz.||90||0||15.0||110|
|2018||Todd Gurley, LAR||1,831||21||374.1||3|
|2018||Alvin Kamara, N.O.||1,592||18||354.2||4|
|2018||LeVeon Bell, Pitt.||0||0||.0||--|
10 team PPR Keeper league. I have the 4th overall pick in snake draft. I am looking to keep James Conner and lose a 10th-round pick or Damien Williams and lose a 16th-round choice then target Hopkins or Adams.
Pete Kelly (Evergreen Park, IL)
Conner is the safer of the two backs. Kansas City is talking about using more of a committee approach. So while it would be nice to have that 10th-rounder, which is definitely more valuable than a 16th-round pick, I would go with Conner.
I play in an older league that has slowly been changing the rules, but still have some "unique" characteristics. One such rule is a double bonus for TD's over 50 yards (12 points). I have factored this scoring feature into the customizable section- but I was wondering if there were specific players that stood out to you as more likely "home run" type guys this year and should have extra value placed on them in the draft?
William Martin (Winnipeg, MB)
Tyreek Hill, Robby Anderson, T.Y. Hilton, Will Fuller, DeSean Jackson, DK Metcalf. For me, those would be the first six who come to mind. We’ve got distance parameters included in the player projections, so speedy-type players should be elevated in your custom rankings. Over the last three years, 26 wide receives have caught at least 15 TDs, and four of those players have averaged over 35 yards per touchdown: Hill, Anderson, Amari Cooper and Tyrell Williams.
|AVERAGE TOUCHDOWN DISTANCE (last 3 yrs)|
|Amari Cooper, Oak.-Dal.||19||37.9|
|Tyreek Hill, K.C.||25||37.4|
|Tyrell Williams, LAC||16||36.9|
|Robby Anderson, NYJ||15||35.9|
|Kenny Stills, Mia.||21||31.2|
|T.Y. Hilton, Ind.||16||31.0|
|Brandin Cooks, LAR||20||30.2|
|A.J. Green, Cin.||18||24.8|
|Adam Thielen, Min.||18||23.1|
|Antonio Brown, Pitt.||36||22.7|
|Odell Beckham, NYG||19||22.2|
|Julio Jones, Atl.||17||22.2|
|Marvin Jones, Det.||18||21.7|
|Mike Evans, T.B.||25||21.6|
|DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.||28||19.8|
|Stefon Diggs, Min.||20||17.5|
|Devin Funchess, Car.||16||17.1|
|Doug Baldwin, Sea.||20||16.9|
|Jarvis Landry, Cle.||17||16.9|
|Davante Adams, G.B.||35||15.6|
|Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||18||13.1|
|Demaryius Thomas, Den.-Hou.||15||13.0|
|Alshon Jeffery, Phil.||17||12.2|
|Michael Thomas, N.O.||23||11.2|
|Michael Crabtree, Balt.||19||10.8|
|Jordy Nelson, Oak.||23||10.3|
What are your thoughts on strategy for drafting QBs in a Superflex league, where owners with stronger QBs seemingly have an advantage because of 2 QBs starting? In a 12-team league, where would you draft your QBs without crippling your chances of losing out on stud RBs and WRs? And would you draft a 3rd QB instead of taking a late round WR or RB?
Michael Tramonte (Woburn, MA)
I would definitely select three quarterbacks. I would want to be able to plug a quarterback into that superflex spot every week. Even nominal starting quarterbacks like Joe Flacco and Marcus Mariota, I think, would have significant value in such a format. I played around with the numbers some. Seems like half of the first 40 picks should be quarterbacks.
Carson (Seattle) and Michel (N.E.). Which one do you keep?
RON PATTERMAN (Verona, WI)
I don’t see a big difference between the two. I will go with Carson. Michel has had some knee issues.
The Cardinals look like they’ll have a fantasy-relevant offense after last year’s punt-fest. But you’re lower than many analysts on David Johnson. I’ve heard he should catch a ton of dump-off passes, but you don’t think that’ll be the case? Also, I know you’ve been cool so far on Kyler Murray because he doesn’t have a track record in the NFL. But in this offense he could be a fantasy star. What do you think about drafting him in the 7–9 round range based on his potential and then picking up a solid-but-unspectacular veteran like Philip Rivers, who almost certainly will be available in the latter rounds given the depth at quarterback?
Paul Owers (Lake Worth, FL)
If we’re working under the premise that Arizona will have a fantasy relevant offense then, yes, I am too low on their key players. Let’s see how they look on the field. When Kliff Kingsbury was coaching at Texas Tech, there wasn’t a lot of passing to running backs. Right now I’m not ready to pick Murray before quarterbacks like Rivers, Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Jared Goff.
I’m in a PPR keeper league and can keep one of the following two. Either D Guice for my 6th round pick this year or DJ Moore for my 15th round pick. Which is the better deal?
Steve Campagna (Miami, FL)
DJ Moore, and it’s not even close. I have high hopes for him; now that he’s been around for a year, with a better understanding of the offense, I’m thinking he’s a good contender for top-20 receiving numbers. With Derrius Guice, I’m not sure he’s even one of the top 3 running backs on his own team. He’s competing against Adrian Peterson for the starting job, and Chris Thompson (with more receiving production) might outperform both of them. If the price tags were reversed (with Moore costing a sixth rounder and Guice costing a 15th) I would still opt for Moore.
I have Mahomes as my keeper. I select 6th in a 12 team PPR. Do I target Kelce or Hill? Or do I take WR Hopkins or Adams if available?
Mark Foltz ()
I would selected the highest-rated available player. With it being PPR scoring, likely DeAndre Hopkins.
With Jerick McKinnon looking to hit the IR and miss the first 8 weeks of the seaon, who do you value more in the backfield. Coleman or Breida? Why is one of them not moving up your weekly rankings faster?
Paul Lucht (Englewood, CO)
I think most people prefer Coleman. He played for Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta, so he knows the offense. But I like Breida more. I was impressed by what he did last year. He gained 20-plus yards on over 6 percent of his rushing attempts last year, best in the league – better than Saquon Barkley. And Breida gained 20-plus yards on 19 percent of his pass receptions, 2nd-best among running backs. Breida is on the small side (5-11, 190), so I’m not sure how long he can hold up. These guys haven’t moved up the board more aggressively because I was never that interested in McKinnon to begin with.
I can keep 2. Standard League. 1 pt per 25 yds rush/rec. 1 pt per 50 yd pass. Kamara, Mahomes, or Antonio Brown?
JOHN CLINE (Everett, WA)
Kamara and Mahomes. With Brown more and more looking likely to cause some off-field problems along the way, I don’t think he’s even in the discussion.
I’m in a 12-man PPR league. I get to keep two players. Who do you keep. Hopkins, Thomas, Mahomes and Mixon?
Tom Clark (Camas, WA)
Hopkins and Thomas. Pass catchers are king in the PPR format.
Hi Ian, Looking at my rankings for a half-point ppr league, I am surprised to see Travis Kelce so high at 7th off the board in the 1st round. If he is available at this spot, would you really take him that early!? Look forward to hearing from you. -Chris
Chris Clay (Los Angeles, CA)
I was faced with that exact decision. I ended up passing on Kelce and getting him in the second round. I am putting together a post on this, and will look at this issue in detail. It will be posted Saturday.