Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. Why is Fantasy Index so ridiculously low on DJ Moore and Mike Evans? (And so high on Calvin Ridley?) COVID-19 precautions for weekly waiver meetings. Switching to a best-ball format. And sifting through replacement tight end prospects.
Great work on the magazine as always. These last few years I sometimes wonder if you are going senile, ha! Seriously, please walk me through "VERY SLOWLY" how you arrived at DJ Moore as WR #31 overall in PPR? Your expert pals in the mag have him at 15th overall with #8 being the highest ranked and #20 the lowest. He was the 17th WR drafted in the Expert Draft and went for $18 in the auction. In his first year 2018 he finished as the #36 WR in PPR and in the 2019 campaign he came in at 16th. Every analyst in the business has him somewhere in the 12 to 16 range. I know about the coaching and QB change, plus they brought in Robby Anderson, but I don't necessarily see those as having a negative impact but even if they did would it push him to double the slot he finished last year? I simply don't get it and yet you often times are onto something others have missed or overlooked, educate me please.
Jay Harding (Oregon City, OR)
When I’m ranking the guys, I don’t give any weight to ADP or where other analysts rank them. That’s not part of the process. Instead, I’m just looking at each team and trying to carefully put together my projections for that offense. For Carolina, can we agree that we’re looking at the worst team in the NFC South and probably a bottom-5 team overall? The plan seems to be to take a step back in hopes of taking two steps forward. Matt Rhule was able to turn around teams at Temple and Baylor, but both of those teams got worse before they got better (2-10 and 1-11 in their first seasons). Speaking to Moore specifically, I think he was heavily featured in their offense last year. They jammed a lot of balls his way, and they passed the ball a ton – the 2nd-most pass attempts in the league. I have some interest in their new offensive coordinator, who helped make Joe Burrow look great last year, but I’m expecting they’ll be passing a lot less. I’m not a big Teddy Bilgewater fan, and I’m thinking they’ll probably use a lot more three-receiver sets this year. If you’re compiling a list of players who’ll fall short of where they’re drafted, Moore is one of the very first players I would choose.
What coaching changes do you think will most likely help or hurt top 20 QBs, RBs, and WRs?
Bob McKinlay (Casselberry, FL)
Kevin Stefanski, most notably. He put together a run-oriented offense in Minnesota. They ran the ball a ton. With that in mind, I don’t think the Browns will throw the ball often enough for their core players to put up the kind of numbers that most are expecting. I’m confident that Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper won’t be on any of my teams. The Dolphins are going with a new coordinator, dusting off Chan Gailey. They’ll have a completely new offense. Unlikely, therefore, that you’ll see them continue to put up the kind of (surpisingly good) numbers they posted in the second half of last year. Jacksonville is handing the reins of its offense to Jay Gruden. He almost always tends to put together pass-dominated attacks, so I don’t think you’ll see big rushing production out of Leonard Fournette. (I also don’t think they’ll use Fournette nearly as much in the passing game). With Gruden calling the plays there, I expect Gardner Minshew will exceed expectations. With the Giants having dumped Pat Shurmur, I think it will result in more running and less passing – perhaps good for Saquon Barkley, but with fewer opportunities for Daniel Jones (he won’t get as many cheap completions).
Glad to see this feature's back up. I was becoming leery of bugging readers with my roster dithering. In the draft mag, you have Calvin Ridley ranked 6th among WRs, and #22 overall. On the other hand, the service provider for my leagues has Ridley at 21 and 55. That's not a 'sizable' difference; that's a crevasse. I like Ridley – I've got him in several leagues. I've seen year-to-year improvement. But in the mag, it was pointed out that he's still second-fiddle to Julio Jones, and you opined that his size/speed combination are nothing special. I'm not picking a fight with you (I trust you way more than I trust my leagues' service provider, or any other sites' rankings, which are all closer to said service providers' than yours). But his is my #5 keeper slot I'm looking at (Behind Derrick Henry, Gurley, Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown). Do you see this not-supremely-talented-but-knows-what-he's-doing guy as a Marvin Harrison-type, who just gets more mileage out of what he has physically and through smarts than 85-90% of the WRs in the league? Please help me feel better about this.
Paul Desimone (Hayward, CA)
They pass the hell out of the ball. Atlanta has averaged 309 and 316 passing yards the last two years, with 36 and 29 TD passes. Dirk Koetter is still there running it, and they’ve still got Matt Ryan at quarterback. This is what they are. So I think Ridley is your guy. The idea of instead choosing to keep a damaged goods Todd Gurley, to me, is wild. Gurley was on the open market a few months back, and he’s making $5.5 million. If the Falcons were to release Ridley, he would be making at least twice that amount. Some of that can be attributed to positional scarcity and injury risk, but he’s a younger, healthier, better player, in my opinion. I would probably also protect him before A.J. Brown. Ridley maybe isn’t quite as physically talented, but he’s in a far more favorable offense. There is a Harrison component to him. If they get all the wide receivers together for a mini-Olympics competition, he would be nothing special. He’s not relying on having better speed, size and jumping ability than the other guys. But he knows how to play, and they’ll pass a ton. Atlanta will finish in the top 5 in passing yards, and he’s one of their core guys. I think Ridley, not Jones or Hayden Hurst, will lead that team in touchdown catches. We did the experts poll in the magazine. Only one of those 20 analysts ranked him in the top 10 at his position. Half of them didn’t even include him in their top 20. I’m not sure why that is. Some, I’m guessing, aren’t properly factoring in that he missed three games last year. But it’s my belief that those guys are wrong. Ridley will put up good numbers.
Just got the paper copy Ian, one of the highlights of my summer! Been using FFI since 1997, so thanks again. One thing I've been mulling for the past couple of years in our main league (our 24th season) is going to "best ball with transactions" (Offered by <b><a href="https://rtsports.com/" target=_new> rtsports.com</a></b>, our home for many years.) There have been several late-season and playoff games decided when a QB goes down with an early injury, or multiple bench players going off. We are a deep league (12 teams, 20 man rosters) and some of the pushback from owners has been that it would limit free agent activity, but I feel that it would actually increase free agency because teams will draft backup QBs, or multiple QBs in order to safeguard production at that position; or teams will draft backup/multiple DSTs and TEs for the same reason, thus leaving more flex-type players on the wire. And with the COVID-19 uncertainty, it would now eliminate losing out on a player that is a game-time inactive due to virus-related reasons. Was just wondering what your thoughts were on the "best ball with transactions" format?
Scott Anderson (Lakewood, CO)
I wouldn’t say best-ball leagues are better or worse than traditional formats. They’re just different. All of the best-ball leagues I have been in have been of the locking roster variety. They have the bonus of being a hands-off product (I find that when I get in a half-dozen leagues, it’s hard to keep track of all of the waiver-pickup deadlines). If you’re allowing roster moves, you lose some of that hands-off appeal, but you gain the considerable value of the contests not being as heavily dictated by attrition. In almost all of the best-ball leagues I’ve been in, you get a couple of key injuries and you’re cooked. In this format, you would have more ability to cobble together a save on the waiver wire. If you have 12 teams drafting 20 players, I think you’ll see plenty of waiver moves. Most teams will carry two defenses and two kickers, giving them an extra roll of the dice at those positions each week (there’s always the potential for the second to come up with a nice score or at least cover for the usual starter during an off week). Most teams will probably leave the top 60 percent of their roster along, but there will be a lot of roster shuffling, with teams constantly looking to transfer into reserves with more potential to come up with a viable score. Let me know how this turns out – might be something that your league opts to stick with in 2021.
Thoroughly enjoying the magazine, per always. One duo you seem rather low on is the Tom Brady to Mike Evans pairing...with Brady ranked as the 12th best QB, and Evans all the way down at 20th for WRs. To me, I would imagine that Brady is salivating about these new targets in TB (Evans, Godwin, Gronk). I get that he's now 43, but Arians loves to have the ball aired out. And they're paying Tom a lot of $ to do it. Also, Evans is ultra athletic, still young, huge, and arguably considerably better than any WR Brady has worked with since Randy Moss. Would you concede that it's plausible these two COULD end up far outperforming these rankings? Or, are you pretty firm on your hesitations about them? I'm inclined to think that TB logs a ton of receiving TDs this year.
Greg Resin (Torrance, CA)
The Bucs have averaged 335 and 320 passing yards per game in Bruce Arians’ two seasons, with 36 and 33 TD passes. If you can guarantee me that they’ll continue to put up those kind of passing numbers, then I would rank Evans among my top 5 receivers. But those are huge numbers. Brady is better than Famous Jameis, but I don’t think his numbers will be as good. Can he make the downfield throws? At 43, I’m not sure his arm is what it has been in the past. And how long will he stay healthy if they have him holding the ball longer, with deeper drops and slower developing plays? For years, Brady has been able to stay out of harm’s way by getting the ball out of his hands quickly on short throws. This is a different system. He’ll get hit more often, and I remember him going the chuck-and-duck route when under pressure at times last year – looked at times like late-career Eli Manning. As for Evans, the last two years he’s been used primarily on deep, vertical routes. I think Chris Godwin, running more shorter routes, will be their busier receiver. I agree with you that Evans is a talent, but I’ve got him slotted a half-dozen spots lower than any of the 20 analysts who participated in our experts poll. Not a player, obviously, that I’ll be selecting.
My league does everything in person. We meet to do our draft and every week thereafter to do waivers. At our meetings, we draw cards for draft position. This year, we might have to do our draft online from home for obvious reasons. I am the commish and will be responsible for creating a fair way to assign draft orders 1-12. Do you have any suggestions of how we can do that on our computers?
Ben Hogevoll (Siletz, OR)
In many leagues, the waiver order is determined by how teams are performing (worst team gets first choice, followed by the next-to-worst team). You could switch to that system for a year. In many other leagues, there are no waivers but instead a weekly auction, with teams given a budget of $1,000 to use one sealed bids for the season. Each owner must decide how much he wants to spend on coveted prospects early, knowing it might pay off to instead save his payroll for late in the year. If your preference is to stick with a randomly generated waiver order each week, there are websites that can get you where you want to go. Look at random.org. They have a lot of free tools for creating random numbers. Specifically, in their “numbers” section, the second option is for a “Sequence Generator”. It will randomly assign the numbers 1 thru 12 in an order with a timestamp. You would need only assign numbers to your 12 franchises. You should be able to get the same kind of results at calculator.net, calculatorsoup.com or mathgoodies.com.
Your magazine has Deebo as the #9 ranked WR in the text evaluation of the players. However when I look at the cheat sheets he is ranked WR #35? That's a huge difference what's the real ranking?
Gary Metz (Parker, CO)
I’m not sure what numbers you’re citing. On page 66, Samuel is written up as the 5th wide receiver – the key player on our entire board. That’s PPR scoring. We’ve got five different cheat sheets in the magazine, and in those he ranks among wide receivers 5th (PPR), 6th (dynasty), 6th (distance), 6th (standard) and 14th (TD-only). In my eyes, he’s a key, possible break-out players. But a few weeks back, he broke his foot. That changes things. He might miss the first month of the season, and foot injuries can be problematic (just ask Sammy Watkins). So if I were drafting today, Sameul wouldn’t be one of the first 30 wide receivers I would select in any format.
I am in a 24-team dynasty league that is TD dependent and need a TE. The players available include: Gronkowski, Jarwin, Rudolph/Irv Smith, Jonnu Smith, Any Seahawk TE, any drafted rookie, Trey Burton or Tyler Eifert. What are your recommendations?
Howie Fishman (Hermosa Beach, CA)
I’d be thinking about Gronkowski, Jarwin, Rudolph, Greg Olsen and probably Jace Sternberger (if he’s available). I don’t see a lot of difference between those guys, so I don’t consider the position to be a priority heading in your draft. If I were on the clock and was confident that a couple of those guys would be available in the next round, I would be looking carefully at the value of the players at the other positions.