Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. Is Drew Brees finished? What's up with T.Y. Hilton's slow start? Is Leonard Fournette now "The Man" in Tampa Bay. A.J. Brown's lingering knee injury. And more.
Regarding Drew Brees, it seems his arm strength is down, and it also seems as if his accuracy is off. Did Michael Thomas provide cover for those issues in the past few years and now they are front and center with Thomas sidelined? Is he now a low end QB2 when at home and a QB3 on the road?
Philip Eichorn (Houston, TX)
Brees has long been a home-dominant quarterback. Entering this season, he had averaged 315 passing yards in his last 16 games at home, with 42 TDs versus only 6 interceptions. In his last 16 on the road, he’s averaged only 218 passing yards, with 25 TDs versus 6 picks. That’s the biggest home-away spread in the league – an average of 97 yards, along with about a touchdown per game.
But now we’re getting to the point where I think it’s fair to wonder if his physical skills have simply slipped too much (regardless of where he’s playing). In Week 1, the Saints and Cardinals were playing at the same time, and the broadcast was flipping back and forth. It was glaring, I think, how much more zip Kyler Murray’s passes had on them. Brees was pretty dreadful in his opener, and he put up another clunker on Monday night. He finished 26 of 36 for 312, but everything was underneath, he missed some throws, and he had an ugly interception – not the kind of mistake I’ve seen him make in the past.
I think it’s fair to wonder if the Saints at this point are considering putting Taysom Hill on the field more often a change-of-pace – a QBBC, if you will. He’s got a lot more mobility and a much stronger arm. I remember him sparking the offense in the playoff game against the Vikings, throwing a 50-yard bomb to Ted Ginn and busting off some successful runs in the second half. Brees still has the veteran smarts, so I suppose he’ll probably squeeze out a few more serviceable games inside the Superdome. But I would be nervous about using him – definitely when they’re playing against good defenses or away from home.
What do you make of T.Y. Hilton’s rough start? Haven’t seen any games or highlights but seems like he’s committed some drops and maybe he and Rivers are not on the same page. He’s killed me in the Flex spot the last two weeks and I’ve got guys like David Montgomery, James Robinson and Corey Davis I could be turning to instead. Confidence that he gets back to form? Not just against the Jets but season long?
Steven Chaitman (Chicago, IL)
So far, he’s looked like just a guy. I watched a good chunk of both of the Indianapolis game. From what I saw, Hilton didn’t look any better than their other three notable receivers – Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman, Zach Pascal. Campbell is now out for an extended period, so I have been toying around with the idea of Pittman maybe developing into something. They drafted him early in the second round, and he’s a big, physical dude – he’s definitely going to have a nice career.
But in these kind of situations, we need to look beyond just these last eight quarters of play. Hilton is 30. He’s still physically capable, and he’s been a very good receiver for a lot of years. Including recently. If you look at his last 16 healthy games (not including weeks where his playing time was limited) he’s caught 85 passes for 1,366 yards and 7 TDs. He’ll typically take over a couple of games per year. I would be nervous about starting Hilton in Week 3 (I don’t know that they’ll use him all that much against an overmatched opponent) but I expect it won’t be long before we look back and chuckle at the thought that Hilton was no longer a relevant NFL receiver.
Keeper league question for a TD-dependent league. I have AJ Brown who has a week to week injury. I can use an IR move and replace him until he returns (I only get 2 a year). I can sit on him and take zeros. Or I can cut him. If I cut him there are a few players I like, including Mike Williams, Preston Williams, Brandin Cooks and Leviska Shenault.
Howie Fishman (Hermosa Beach, CA)
I saw Brown talking about his injury earlier in the week. He has a bruised knee. He indicated that he was coming along but that he wasn’t certain he would play this week – that he “wanted to be smart” about not rushing back. So if I were guessing, I would figure he’s probably coming back in Week 4. But he’s an awfully talented guy. There were a bunch of talented receivers who came out of the 2019, including DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel and Hollywood Brown, and AJ Brown might be better than all of them. I would be inclined to potentially take a zero for him in Week 3, saving my IR moves for more notable injuries later in the year.
After the fumbled handoff between Brady and Jones, I believe Fournette got over 60% of the snaps and did very well with the volume. The Bucs brought in Fournette for a reason. I don’t think they believe in Jones. Could it be that the “torch” was passed yesterday, and Fournette will be the main RB moving forward? If so, should we consider Fournette to be an RB1? My gut tells me YES. Do you agree or see this situation differently? By the way the fumble was clearly Tom Brady’s fault but it’s a good enough mishap to make the switch.
Ray Sala (Roseville, CA)
Bruce Arians rotated his backs for all but one game last year. He heavily used Peyton Barber in an early-season Thursday night game at Carolina, but otherwise it was Barber and Jones operating in a one-two punch backfield for all 15 of their other games. (And actually, Dare Ogunbowale was part of that rotation as well, playing on third downs.) So while Fournette played well against the Panthers, I expect we’ll continue to see a similar kind of approach. I believe Fournette and Jones will both have meaningful roles in most games, and I think they like LeSean McCoy in the Ogunbowale third-down role.
Our league has several IR-COVID roster spots and I was wondering what are your thoughts are for holding onto Ryquell Armstead? Do you think he will be able to beat out Robinson when he returns?
John Lesjack (Freedom, PA)
Robinson is off to a nice start. He’s played well in each of his first two games. We’ll get another chance to see him tonight (and running against a bad defense) but to me, it looks like he’s their guy. So Ryquell Armstead, I think, looks like just a modest backup running back. If you’re sticking him on a roster, it would be as an insurance policy. If Robinson either gets hurt or isn’t performing well enough, I would guess that Armstead would be the next running back they would turn to. But I think there’s at least 20 teams that have an insurance policy running back I would select before Armstead.
I'm thinking of moving on from Zach Ertz and the Eagles passing game in general. What do you think are the chances of Tyler Higbee or Dalton Schultz becoming prominent fantasy tight ends? Higbee has some competition from Gerald Everett, but has the starting job in hand. Plus, the Rams don't seem to feature their wide receivers in the red zone. Case in point was Higbee's 3 TDs last weekend. Schultz looks to be in a great situation with Jarwin out for the year, but there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Dallas offense.
Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)
Dallas’ tight ends last year caught 94 passes and 7 TDs. Jason Witten caught 63 & 4, and Blake Jarwin caught 31 & 3. Those guys are both gone now, so they’re moving up Schultz and Blake Bell in the batting order. Schultz looked credible enough in his first start, catching the last 9 passes thrown his way. I think you could pick him up with the expectation he’ll catch 60-plus passes. If we were drafting today, he would be one of the first 15 tight ends selected.
With the Rams, there were primarily a three-wide team in Sean McVay’s first two seasons, with the tight ends not having much of a role. But they’re doing some different things now, and I think Higbee’s around to stay. He’s caught 8 passes in his first two games, including the 3 TDs on Sunday. In the last five weeks of last season, Higbee was the most productive tight end in the league, catching 43 passes for 522 yards and 2 TDs (he had four 100-yard games in that span). That wasn’t something I saw coming; Higbee in his previous 16 games had caught 39 passes, with only one touchdown. I think he’s part of that offense now. If we were re-drafting tight ends today, I would think he would be one of the first 10 chosen.
Can you please stop ranking Deshaun Watson so high? This guy is so overrated, especially combined with O'Brien's awful scheme. ("Hey Deshaun, drop back, run for your life, and try and make a play." Is that a scheme?) I know they had a tough first two games but KC defense last week showed they are not that good and even if Baltimore is a good defense you should be able to produce more than one TD. I haven't seen one long pass in two games. I started this guy over Big Ben for the last time. He should be out of the top 10 permanently. Quite frankly, until they get a new offensive scheme, he isn't worth the money Houston paid him either. Even without Hopkins, he still has Fuller, Cooks, Stills, Cobb and DJ, who is a good pass catcher. No excuse for this offense to be terrible.
CHRISTOPHER TONELLA (Saint Louis, MO)
He’s a better version of Josh Allen. With both guys, you get the nice dual-threat ability. Over the last last three years, Watson has averaged 33 rushing yards as a starter, with 15 touchdowns in 37 games. And Watson is far above Allen as a passer – much better accuracy, vision and decision making. I will agree that he’s off to a rough start. And I would be nervous about rolling him out on Sunday against a Steelers defense that is playing well. But Watson will finish with top-5 quarterbacking numbers in a lot of the remaining weeks of the season.
I have a trade offer to consider. My division foe is offering Cooper Kupp and James Robinson for Austin Ekeler. My second player would probably Mecole Hardman or Derek Carr (Don't need the QB until Wilson's bye week).
Danny Weisberg (Thousand Oaks, CA)
I consider Ekeler to be the best of those players. He’s run effectively in both games. In the opener, I was concerned when they didn’t use him at all as a pass catcher. But against Kansas City, they plugged in Justin Herbert, and he was connecting with Ekeler regularly. They had the ball coming out really quickly, and Ekeler was getting it in the flat, with room to run. He caught 4 passes, and they went for 55 yards. (Their other running back, Joshua Kelley, caught 2 balls, and they went for 49.) To me, Ekeler looks like he’s on schedule. He’s going to be a good back, I suggest you stick with him.
Now, you could argue that Kupp and Robinson are both good players, so it potentially could be a depth-building move. But you wouldn’t only be losing Ekeler. Hardman hasn’t done much of anything yet, but of either Tyreek Hill or injury-prone Sammy Watkins gets hurt, Hardman could turn into a gold mine. And I’m not sure what your backup plan would be at quarterback.
I've lost Sutton and probably Garoppolo. I can take QB Tannehill, Carr or Rivers and WR Gage, C.Davis, Snead, Cole, Fitzgerald.
Jeffrey Paul (Albuquerque, NM)
Tannehill’s on quite a run. Since they made him a starter, he’s thrown 28 touchdowns in 12 starts. I think he’s the guy. Of the quarterbacks, I would rank Rivers last (I think he’s reached the end of the road). With the wide receivers, I like the guys who are regular catching passes – Gage and Fitzgerald. Since Atlanta traded away Mohamed Sanu, Gage has averaged over 5 catches per game, and he looks better and more confident this year. Fitzgerald, to me, looks like the clear No. 2 option in Arizona; I expect he’ll catch plenty of little short balls around the line of scrimmage.