Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. Ranking the NFL play-callers. Kickers in the overall. Deep-threat wide receivers. Cleveland's running game. Juju Smith-Schuster, Marlon Mack, Hunter Renfrow and more.
Would you put together a list of the NFL teams with new head coaches and offensive coordinators? Good information to have when making draft decisions.
Craig Leedy (Sacramento, CA)
We can rank them from 1 thru 32. For each team, I’m listing the one coach who’s most responsible for the offense (either a head coach or offensive coordinator). The new guys are in bold. The biggest wild card is probably Joe Brady (whom I’m ranking 22nd). He’s completely unproven, but they sure put up pinball numbers at LSU last year, didn’t they?
|FAVORITE OFFENSIVE MINDS|
|Rk||Team||Coach or coordinator|
|1.||New Orleans||Sean Payton (HC)|
|2.||San Francisco||Kyle Shanahan (HC)|
|3.||Kansas City||Andy Reid (HC)|
|4.||New England||Josh McDaniels|
|5.||LA Rams||Sean McVay (HC)|
|6.||Tampa Bay||Bruce Arians (HC)|
|7.||Indianapolis||Frank Reich (HC)|
|9.||Philadelphia||Doug Pederson (HC)|
|13.||Cleveland||Kevin Stefanski (HC)|
|14.||Houston||Bill O'Brien (HC)|
|16.||Las Vegas||Jon Gruden (HC)|
|17.||NY Giants||Jason Garrett|
|20.||Arizona||Kliff Kingsbury (HC)|
|21.||Chicago||Matt Nagy (HC)|
|26.||Green Bay||Matt LaFleur (HC)|
|27.||Cincinnati||Zac Taylor (HC)|
|29.||LA Chargers||Shane Steichen|
|31.||NY Jets||Adam Gase (HC)|
Many thanks, again, for all the excellent advice, today and over the many years you've helped me be a constant competitive and sometimes champion franchise. In the custom rankings, I've noticed Kickers and DEFs aren't ranked in the top 320 overall. I remember they used to be, so wondering if you are advising we just go with our gut as to when a Kicker or D is a better choice than the position players? Or are you saying that no Kicker or DEF breaks your top 320 rankings?
Steven Schipper (Brampton, ON)
We switched around the Cheat Sheet format some this year, blending QB-RB-WR-TE into one overall list. And we’ve got the appropriate number of each in our top 204 overall. (204, that’s 12 teams each selecting 17 players.) Now if you also mix K and D into that list, it gets kind of messy and jumbled. Some leagues require teams to carry two players at each of those positions, so it would then be 252 players, with 24 kickers and 24 defenses. If it’s a 10-team league, maybe it’s situated where each team can select only one (and then live by the waiver wire to make adjustsments). And these positions are often heavily influenced by the behavior of other owners. In many leagues, the vast majority simply won’t select select a kicker before the last or next-to-last round. In others, perhaps there’s some demand, requiring harder decision making. And with defenses, there’s the added dynamic of dozens of different scoring systems (some of which as meaningfully different). So the decision was made to set them on the side. In general with kickers (for this year), I like the top 4. Leagues and owners vary, but in general, I think you’ll help your franchise by doing what it takes to get one of the top 4 kickers. With there not being much difference between those four, I would think you can hang back at kicker, then select one after the run starts. (Or you could even start the kicker run if you’re late enough in the draft that you know they should be kicking in.)
You have said before that you believe that the Browns are going to focus a ground and pound type of offense, which is obviously great news for Chubb and Hunt. However, how do you figure Chubb can sustain top 6-7 numbers while sharing carries and losing passing downs to Hunt?
Ryan Klein (Tinley Park, IL)
Chubb last year averaged 100 rushing and 20 receiving yards in the first eight games. That was before Kareem Hunt was activated. In the second half of the season, Chubb averaged 86 rushing and 15 receiving yards – a decrease of 19 yards per game, but still a credible 101 total yards, on average, in those eight games. The team production might be even better this year, given the way Kevin Stefanski emphasized running backs (both as runners and catching the football). Chubb, I think, will be their featured guy, with Hunt mixed in as a change-of-pace. It could be similar to the Cook-Mattison combo in Minnesota. To me, Chubb is Cook, while Hunt is more like Mattison.
Answer: Alvin Harper. Question name the poster child for a very good #2 receiver, that could never cut it as an over-hyped #1. Partial credit, if you answered JuJu Smith-Schuster. All the signs were there, including seeing a more dis-interested than injured Ben Roethlisberger flop 33-3 in week 1 2019. This year, Smith-Schuster is "poised" for a comeback. So is Roethlisberger. Buy the hype, though now discounted, again? I think JuJu is bye-bye. Thoughts? Thank you (every year since 1989)
John Macho ()
I don’t think we can read too much into 2019. Smith-Schuster played only five quarters with his starting quarterback, and 80 percent of that playing time came against the season’s best cornerback (Stephon Gilmore). Smith-Schuster is definitely a good receiver – more well-rounded and generally better than Alvin Harper. But I’m not high enough on him that I’ve actually selected him in any drafts. The Steelers have a couple of other receivers who also look pretty good. Are you 100 percent certain he’s better than both Diontae Johnson and James Washington? And the Steelers selected yet another receiver in the second round, Chase Claypool, who’s been generating some buzz at training camp. Smith-Schuster is entering the final season of his rookie contract. I’m kind of thinking the Steelers won’t want to invest the kind of money it would take to keep him around. Assuming no extension is signed, Smith-Schuster looks like a notable player who potentially could be traded during the season.
I am wrong in thinking analysts are vastly under estimating Marlon Mack’s value? The guy did rush for over 1,000 yards last year. I would think at a minimum Mack will split carries. I can't imagine he's going to just be relegated to a few carries a game because of Taylor. What are your thoughts?
Brian Boyd (Maple Grove, MN)
Agreed. Could be a guy that everyone is talking about after the first two weeks, wondering why he was selected six rounds after Taylor. In my eyes, Mack and Taylor look pretty similar in value. With Mack, you’ve got the edge of experience and knowing the offense. With Taylor, there’s that flicker of possibility that he’s simply a big, talented dude who can be more of a difference maker.
How comfortable would you be taking Miles Sanders at his ADP with Philadelphia's offensive line being plagued with injuries?
Anthony Cole (Corpus Christi, TX)
I’m not as high as most on Sanders. I’ve seen him go in the first round in multiple 12-team drafts, and I don’t see him as that kind of a guy. He’s about 15th among running backs on my board, depending on what scoring system you’re using. I’ve been in about 6-8 drafts and auctions, and in none of them have I gotten to the point where Sanders has been a strong possible – I haven’t drafted him, and I haven’t been one of the final bidders on him in an auction. Others like him a lot more. Sanders has to prove he can do it, and he’s got to stay healthy. As you correctly point out, the Eagles have had two season-ending injuries to prominent starters on their offensive line – Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard (who attended the high school a couple of miles up the road).
Picking second in a 12-team league. Todd Gurley, James Conner, David Johnson and LeVeon Bell are all usually available at #23. With the injury history of all but Bell, can a strategy of picking one of the above at #2 and hoping they perform as they are capable for at least six games reasonable? Or would it be better to grab the best WR or TE available at number 23?
Jim Furry (Myrtle Beach, SC)
I’ve done 6-7 drafts, and I think I’ve got David Johnson in all of them. But I haven’t had to select him as high as 23rd – I’ve been getting him in the second half of the third round. I would think you can safely operate under the premise that he’ll be there at 3.02. Regardless, I’ve got him higher on my board than those other guys you mention. If you’re selecting Johnson, however, you should be working under the assumption that you won’t have the Duke Johnson safety net under him. In most of my drafts, there’s been a wild-card owner who’s selected Duke Johnson long before I would have chosen him as an insurance policy. If you were to instead select James Conner, it will be easier and cheaper to secure the next-man-up behind him.
Which 2-3 defenses do you think will improve the most? (not the overall best but improvement). Which 2 or 3 will be way worse than last year?
Jim Backstrom (Henderson, NV)
Kansas City and Indianapolis come to mind. With the Colts, they added DeForest Buckner, and I think the defense will benefit from the team doing a much better job of running the ball. With KC, I like the pass rush, and I like that they also have the added bonus of having the best kick returner in the league. The Jets ranked 9th in standard scoring defense last year, so I’m expecting they’ll fall the farthest. They lost arguably their two best players in the offseason, with C.J. Mosley opting out and Jamal Adams traded.
I'm in a TD-only draft that gives bonuses for long TDs. You usually have a column on this subject and was wondering if you were going to again?
DOUGLAS BROWN (Fort Gratiot, MI)
I typically try to post some of those throughout the summer. They are most meaningful, I think, with wide receivers. At that position, there are definitely guys who will score longer touchdowns and guys who will not. Over the last three years, 27 wide receivers have caught at least 15 touchdowns. The average length of those touchdowns appears below. Golden Tate, oddly, shows up third – seems like a guy who will catch mostly short TDs, but he’s hit on enough long ones to rank near the top (which I don’t expect will happen again. Hollywood Brown hasn’t played enough to appear on this list; he’s a guy you should be thinking about.
|AVERAGE LENGTH OF TD CATCHES (2017-19)|
|Tyreek Hill, K.C.||38.9||26|
|Tyrell Williams, tms||35.1||15|
|Golden Tate, tms||34.6||15|
|Robby Anderson, NYJ||33.7||18|
|Amari Cooper, tms||32.0||22|
|JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt.||31.2||17|
|Tyler Lockett, Sea.||25.7||20|
|Mike Evans, T.B.||25.0||21|
|Kenny Stills, tms||24.9||16|
|Kenny Golladay, Det.||24.8||19|
|Calvin Ridley, Atl.||24.4||17|
|Nelson Agholor, Phil.||24.3||15|
|Antonio Brown, tms||23.7||25|
|T.Y. Hilton, Ind.||23.7||15|
|Stefon Diggs, Min.||23.6||23|
|Adam Thielen, Min.||20.7||19|
|Cooper Kupp, LAR||20.7||21|
|Chris Godwin, T.B.||19.2||17|
|DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.||19.0||31|
|Julio Jones, Atl.||17.4||17|
|Marvin Jones, Det.||15.8||23|
|Davante Adams, G.B.||14.6||28|
|Keenan Allen, LAC||13.8||18|
|Jarvis Landry, tms||13.5||19|
|Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||12.8||16|
|Alshon Jeffery, Phil.||11.2||19|
|Michael Thomas, N.O.||11.1||23|
What is your resource for PPR ADP? When I search on line, the results are all over the map.
Daniel Ford (Rochester, NY)
I haven’t studied the various ADP data closely. There’s Fantasyfootballcalculator.com; they specialize in ADP. There’s ESPN and MyFantasyLeague.com, which presumably pull from hundreds and hundreds of leagues. I’m not sure which site is the best.
I have the first pick of the draft in PPR. I know that logical choice is McCaffrey but he is the right choice at #1? NYG have more weapons to go along with Barkley or even Zeke with a better line and WRs to take the attention off of him. Please let me know your thoughts.
Tom Zaremba (Middletown, DE)
McCaffrey is going No. 1 overall in almost every draft. With it being PPR, that style of scoring really favors his game. I’m more in your camp; I’m not certain that he’s a shoo-in pick. Maybe you could look into trading down to the No. 2 or No. 3 spot (picking up a middle-round pick)?
Love your work. In the magazine, you note "in the past 10 years, 15 QBs have finished with top-10 numbers while throwing at least 20 more TDs than the previous year." Can you please give us the breakdown of those QBs?
John Grupp (Pittsburgh , PA)
Most of them didn’t play much the previous year, usually because they were either in college or had an injury. Patrick Mahomes improved by 50 TD passes (while going from 1 to 16 starts). Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning came back with 39 and 37 touchdowns after missing entire seasons.
|QUARTERBACKS IMPROVING BY 20 TD PASSES|
|2010||Michael Vick, Phil.||21-6||1-0||20|
|2011||Matthew Stafford, Det.||41-16||6-1||35|
|2011||Cam Newton, Car.||21-17||college||21|
|2011||Tony Romo, Dall.||31-10||11-7||20|
|2012||Peyton Manning, Den.||37-11||injury||37|
|2012||Andrew Luck, Ind.||23-18||college||23|
|2012||Robert Griffin, Was.||20-5||college||20|
|2014||Aaron Rodgers, G.B.||38-5||17-6||21|
|2015||Blake Bortles, Jac.||35-18||11-17||24|
|2015||Carson Palmer, Ariz.||35-11||11-3||24|
|2016||Dak Prescott, Dall.||23-4||college||23|
|2018||Patrick Mahomes, K.C.||50-12||0-1||50|
|2018||Andrew Luck, Ind.||39-15||injury||39|
|2019||Lamar Jackson, Balt.||36-6||6-3||30|
|2019||Kyler Murray, Ariz.||20-12||college||20|
I just looked at the Raiders' starting WRs and they have 2 rookies and Hunter Renfrow, due to Tyrell Williams' labrum injury. Seeing how rookie WRs can't learn much with a shortened off-season, doesn't this make Renfrow a candidate for 70 receptions? With 6 TDs, he could be as good as Beckham!
Chris Muschon (Dewitt, MI)
Renfrow got very good last year. He caught 35 passes in his final seven games. That’s an average of 5 per week – projects out to 80 in a season. He’s definitely in the mix to be their top receiver. Key will be how fast those rookies will come along. They supposedly really like Bryan Edwards, who’s a lot bigger than Henry Ruggs. And they’ve still got Darren Waller, who’ll catch a ton of balls.
I need help with choosing my keepers. I can keep one rookie and two others each year with no limit on the amount of years you can keep a player. The league has been around a while so a lot of the top guys will be picked: Mike Evans (12th round), Austin Ekeler (7th round), Kareem Hunt (15th round), Josh Jacobs (2nd round), DK Metcalf (13th round), Allen Robinson (7th round).
Charlie Camp ()
Metcalf is your most valuable commodity – a possible top-15 receiver, and you’ve got him as a 13th-rounder. Ekeler might be a top-10 back, and you’ve got him in the 7th round. Final spot, I think you’re looking at Evans or Robinson. Evans comes five rounds cheaper, so he would be the guy.
I'm one of the lone wolves that are in a non-PPR league – 12 teams, 1 flex. This is more of a strategy pulse check, but having the 3rd pick makes things pretty easy in that slot. On the end of the 2nd / early 3rd round pick am I pretty much coming out of that with RB, RB, RB? I'm assuming Mahomes is long gone and the TE and WR positions are pretty deep. Is that the way to be approaching it from that draft slot?
Bill Petilli (Harrison, NY)
That can be a good way to go. It would free you up to hit the wide receivers pretty hard in the next four-five rounds. When you get to 2.10 and 3.03, I’m guess there won’t be any wide receivers that you’re excited about there.
I’m the defending champion in a 12-team PPR league with a $100 budget. We start a QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, a TE and a superflex (which is essentially another QB). We can keep up to ten players with salary increases $2 each year to a max of $20. This year I have QBs Mahomes $20, Brees $13, Tannehill $7. RBs A Jones $6, D Montgomery $11. WRs T Hill $18, M Evans $13, S Diggs $10, Fitzgerald $6, McLaurin $5. TE Waller $6.
Richard Oljey (Hudson, NH)
You’re stacked with talent. Given the Superflex slot, I would think you’ll keep all three quarterbacks. Terry McLaurin might be the best deal of all – a probable top-15 receiver priced at only $5.00. To see what the guys are actually worth, I would need to plug the parameters into our custom rankings generator (available at the website). In general, if Diggs is at $10 and Evans is at $13, I don’t think the price of $18 for Hill looks too high.
I've been using this magazine since 1995. Always great insight. I'm in a 10-team league. I have the 2nd pick. My 2 keepers are D.Henry (losing a 3rd round pick) and K.Drake ( losing a 6th round pick) should I grab Barkley or Elliott at 2 in the first round or go with M.Thomas? I'm contemplating WR in round 1 and 2 but could be stacked at RB until middle to later rounds by going RB in round 1. Thoughts?
Braulio Sanchez (Norwalk, CT)
If you can start three running backs, that might be a good way to go. You’d be really tough in those spots, while simultaneously contributing to a shortage for the other teams. If you can only start two, I would be inclined to select Michael Thomas, who’s arguably just as good as those guys anyway. I wonder if you could leverage the pick? If you could trade down to the No. 4 pick, obtaining something like an extra choice in the eighth round, that would be appealing.
I'm in a 10-person league with our draft coming up this Sunday (half point per reception, 6 points for all TD's, start 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX). I've got the 10 pick. With the amount of depth at receiver, most pundits are suggesting taking backs early, but that will leave me with some combo of Mixon, Drake, Chubb, Ekeler. Meh. And then I'd have no shot at an elite receiver at the tail end of round 3 and first pick of round 4. So I'm thinking I'll grab one of those backs listed above at 10 and then the best receiver there at 11 (Julio or Hill, I guess). I'll have an outside shot at Jacobs and D. Adams which would be fine, but I doubt either of them will be available. Just seems like a middle of the road start leading to a middle of the road team all things being equal. Would you consider shaking it up and taking Kelce with one of those first two picks? Or even Mahomes? Or both? I'd be incredibly weak at running back and who knows about receiver, but at least I'd have the presumptive #1 QB and TE. Too risky? Am I underestimating those backs that will still be there at 10/11?
Jeffrey Damiani (Cambridge, MA)
It’s a 10-team league. I wouldn’t worry about talent running out at any position. Even if you don’t select a running back at 1.10 or 2.01, you will be fine at that position. The name of the game is to get difference makers. Mahomes and Kelce definitely are difference-maker kind of guys. Only issue with Kelce is that it takes you out of play to cash if there’s a nice pick sitting there at that position in the middle rounds. Adams and Hill should be part of the conversation.
I'm having problems with who to pick second. Saquon Barkley currently has an undisclosed injury and his first five games are against Pittsburgh, Bears, 49ers, Rams, Cowboys and the new improved Washington defenses. Zeke Elliot has the Rams, Falcons, Seahawks, Browns, Giants and Cardinals to start the season but I have read that McCarthy will be throwing more, which may cut down on his statistics. So, Kamara and Clyde Edward-Helaire round out the top five and we all know how Andy Reid has had success with Jamaal Charles, Brian Westbrook, etc. For your pound of flesh, who would you take at #2?
Jim Furry (Myrtle Beach, SC)
I’d be looking at Barkley and Elliott. I don’t see much difference between them. Schedules I don’t consider to be a notable part of the decision. I haven’t seen anything that leads me to be concerned about Barkley potentially not being healthy. Elliott has been remarkably durable (in both college and pro game). Barkley is younger.