Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. Trading up for Christian McCaffrey. Late-round rookie running backs. Cam Akers injury. Auction strategies. And more.

Question 1

We do a 3rd round reversal draft. The guy who currently holds the #1 overall pick wants to trade down. I’ve got the #4 pick. In your opinion what would be a fair offer to swap? Our league is PPR. I would look to draft CMC at 1. Is it even worth it?

Braulio Sanchez (Norwalk, CT)

I would operate under the assumption that you would be getting about 30 points of additional value by moving up. The way I see up my baselines, there are about 80 players who’ll add 30 points to your lineup. This is a 12-team league, right? The 80th pick would be in the middle of the seventh round. Except factor in that everyone’s draft board is different, so when you’re drafting in the middle of the seventh round, you’re not getting your 80th player, you’re more likely getting a guy about a round better. So I’m thinking the fair offer here would be the 4th overall pick and an eighth-round selection in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick (and his last choice). That wouldn’t be a killer deal for you, that would be what I considered to be fair. You move it down to a ninth- or a 10th-round pick, and then it starts to look really good. You’re in a really good spot, sitting at 1.04. I would think that would make it unlikely that you’ll be the best trading partner for the guy with McCaffrey. He’ll almost certainly be able to secure a much better package from some other franchise owner.

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Question 2

I might have missed this earlier in the Mailbag: Who will be short-yardage and goal-line back for Chargers, Jackson, Kelley or Rountree?

John Brower (Chapel Hill, NC)

That will be determined in training camp. The Chargers no doubt will be looking to get the ball in Austin Ekeler’s hands often, but with the role in plays in the passing game, there will need to be another running back involved. Justin Jackson has the most experience; he got to be their main back in two games last year, and carried for 160 yards in those two weeks, with an additional 76 yards on 8 catches. He’s nothing special in terms of size (6-0, 200), speed or power. They drafted Joshua Kelley in the fourth round last year, and he was underwhelming as a rookie. They tried to get him going last year, with four games where he was on the field for more than half of their plays. But he didn’t average more than 3.1 yards per carry on any of them, and they put him in mothballs late in the year – the hope is that he’s somehow better this week, perhaps with a better command of the offense.

Larry Rountree is just a sixth-round pick, so I’m hardly even tracking him right now. I’ve watched his highlights from Missouri, and he looks pretty ordinary. History shows us that the odds of hitting on a running back in the sixth round are remarkably low. In the last 20 years, only one running back chosen in the sixth round has scored 5 TDs in his first season: Alfred Morris. If you want to push it out to 21 years, you also get Mike Anderson. One seventh-round pick in the last 20 years has scored 5 TDs: Peyton Hillis. Only four fifth-round picks have scored 5 TDs. There’s been more successful seasons by running backs who weren’t drafted at all (and you’ll see those 13 players below). Given those numbers below, I will have zero interest in Rountree unless and until I see him doing something impressive in a preseason game.

2000Mike Anderson, Den.61,4871691,65615
2012Alfred Morris, Was.61,613771,69013
2008Tim Hightower, Ariz.539923763610
2018Phillip Lindsay, Den.FA1,0372411,27810
2001Dominic Rhodes, Ind.FA1,1042241,32810
2020James Robinson, Jac.FA1,0703441,41410
2015Karlos Williams, Buff.5517966139
2013Zac Stacy, St.L.59731411,1148
2014Isaiah Crowell, Cle.FA607876948
2006Mike Bell, Den.FA6771588358
2016Jordan Howard, Chi.51,3132981,6117
2016Robert Kelley, Was.FA704827867
2005Samkon Gado, G.B.FA582776597
2000Sammy Morris, Buff.53412686096
2008Peyton Hillis, Den.73431795226
2010LeGarrette Blount, T.B.FA1,007141,0216
2017Corey Clement, Phil.FA3211234446
2010Chris Ivory, N.O.FA716177335
2008BenJarvus Green-Ellis, N.E.FA275373125
2015Thomas Rawls, Sea.FA830769065
2017Austin Ekeler, LACFA2602795395

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Question 3

With the growing number of competitors out there in the fantasy football news market, is the Cam Akers prediction a throw mud at the wall prediction and if you get it right you are all brilliant? I just can’t comprehend it. I’ve been winning leagues for over 20 years and this makes zero sense to have at #3. It reminds me of the Tatum Bell cover. How did that work out again? Comparing him to a healthy Todd Gurley in his prime is a mistake in my opinion that you are not asking for. So is this a Tatum Bell ranking again or do you really feel he is the 3rd best player in fantasy football?

Ryan Moore (Lynnwood, WA)

This question is moot now, with Akers having suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. But he was definitely my key guy. He was the player I was going to be selecting in a lot of first rounds. I was of the belief he was going to be this year’s breakout running back. He came on nicely at the end of last year, running for 171 yards against the Patriots and 131 and 90 yards in their two playoff games. I like the way Sean McVay emphasizes the run around the goal line; in his four years there, the Rams have scored 17, 23, 20 and 19 rushing touchdowns. So I was of the opinion that Akers was going to run for 1,400-plus yards, catch 40 passes and probably score 15 touchdowns.

I’m not crazy about some of the other elite running backs. With Alvin Kamara, I think we’re going to see a big decline in his receiving production. Derrick Henry doesn’t catch passes. Dalvin Cook has had injury issues and has a poor offensive line. Saquon Barkley is coming off a torn ACL. Ezekiel Elliott was pretty crappy last year. Nick Chubb shares time with Kareem Hunt. So I was definitely of the opinion that Akers should be one of those first few running backs chosen.

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Question 4

I’m underwhelmed by the top receivers this year. Davante Adams may have a new QB, Tyreek Hill is another year older and Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins and Keenan Allen aren’t reliable scorers. What WRs drafted in the middle or late rounds do you think are most likely to step up and be key pieces of fantasy title teams?

Paul Owers (Boynton Beach, FL)

What is the likelihood, really, of Aaron Rodgers choosing to not play for the Packers? Every week or so, there’s an interview with a teammate or acquaintance, and they all seem to think Rodgers will show up. So I like the idea of setting that issue to the side and selecting Adams. When Rodgers shows up, Adams will become more of a top-5 overall pick.

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Question 5

I was thrilled to participate in this year's Expert's Auction with you, Andy and many of the experts I rely on each year for insights for the magazine that came out last month. It was my first auction and I learned a lot. For instance, I noticed your strategy of nominating Defenses and Kickers early and often in order to force your opponents to spend more than the $1 minimum on those positions. By the end of the draft, I could see the value of a single dollar in picking up those players you were bidding on; meaning the difference between winning and losing out on the guys who could prove valuable in rounding out your roster. I made several rookie mistakes, and am curious if there are other sneaky strategies you like to employ (and are willing to share) when participating in this type of draft that could aid me in future auction drafts? Good luck with your well-built roster!

Randy Jackson (Lone Tree, CO)

I like working backwards. There will be a bunch of players who go for $1. The only way to secure a $1 player is by being the opening bidder. So to me, it makes sense to start with those players – getting first choice on those lesser prospect. No need to worry too much about guys like Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey. They’ll come up before long. But bidding on $1 players is a lot easier when working with a $100 cap. When it’s set at $200, you’re far more likely to run into issues with somebody pushing it up to $2. Consider our recent auction, for example. I had purchased Chris Carson, and with this being a no-moves league, it made sense for me to add Rashaad Penny. So I put him out for $1. But Sam Hendricks, apparently thinking I either knew something or really wanted Penny, pushed the bidding up to $2. That was crazy. Had I not nominated Penny, Hendricks never would have even considered obtaining Penny. The Mock Draft (which included Hendricks) was held a few days before the Mock Auction, and none of the 12 owners selected Penny in the 22 rounds. So now at the end of the auction, I’m annoyed because I don’t have Penny (a guy I wanted), and Hendricks is annoyed because he spent $2 on a player he didn’t want. When you got down to $100, you have fewer of those rogue bids. And they go faster, with only half as much money in play.

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Question 6

Standard scoring, 12 teams. I have picks 10 and 15. Need your advice. I am hoping for Chubb at 10. Who would you select? Also, at 15 Diggs gone, do I select Gibson or AJ Brown? I could go 2 WR to start or 2 RB or 1 and 1 for balance but I need to select the best player.

Jim Venettis (Farmington, MI)

In general, the talent tends to run out faster at running back. That makes it look prudent to select at least one with one of those first two picks. In general, if you operate under the assumption that you want to have two running backs and two wide receivers after four rounds, it’s best to select the running backs first. You will be able to select two quality receivers at 3.10 and 4.03. But there are exception players. Tyreek Hill (in my opinion) definitely should be selected in the top 10 in your draft. I’ve got him as the No. 1 wide receiver on my board right now for your scoring system. And if Aaron Rodgers shows up, I’ll have Davante Adams higher than Hill. I played around with the numbers on this. If you started with both Hill and Adams and followed those two with a pair of running backs in the area of Gaskin, Edmonds, Carson and Darrell Henderson, you could come out head versus a team that started with Chubb or Jonathan Taylor and Antonio Gibson and followed those guys with a pair of wide receivers from the likes of Robert Woods, Keenan Allen and Calvin Ridley.

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Question 7

I am curious how your analysis of team’s offensive lines have held up over the years?

Mike Kunkel (Sioux Falls, SD)

I’ve got last year’s OL rankings in front of me. From the magazine. I see Philadelphia 2nd and Dallas 7th. Those picks didn’t age well. The other teams in the top seven were Colts, Saints, Raiders, 49ers and Patriots. Four of the teams in the bottom 5 were, in fact, truly crappy: Panthers, Bengals, Jets, Bears. We had Miami last heading into the 2020 season, and it outperformed that ranking. Three that were ranked too low: Packers (11th), Bucs (12th), Browns (14th).

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Question 8

I am in a ppr keeper league where you are allowed to keep up to 4 players. Who do you suggest I keep from the following roster - Patrick Mahomes, DK Metcalf, Calvin Ridley, CEH, Antonio Gibson?

Richard Kulikowski (Houston, TX)

Ridley is the one I would toss back. Running backs are hard to find, and you’ve got a pair of top-15 guys. I would lock in on them. In general, wide receivers are more valuable than quarterbacks, but Mahomes is a special guy. With your first pick in the draft, I would think it would be much more likely that you draft a wide receiver who’s better than Ridley than that you select a QB who outperforms Mahomes. While conceding that you could instead go with a third wide receiver with that choice, I’m keeping the quarterback.

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Question 9

We are in an auction league, with one keeper. We are thinking about the ability to trade a potential keeper pre-draft for draft $. Any suggestions on how that can work?


Seems reasonable. If a team had McCaffrey, Mahomes and Kelce, it would be interested in trading those guys, but I don’t think it would get huge hauls. Trading partners wouldn’t want to pay too much, given that those players (absent a deal) would be shaking free anyway. And the owner holding all those stars wouldn’t want to give away premium players (removing them from the auction proper). Basic structure of trades would involve sending players for cap space. That is, perhaps I send you Mahomes and his $20 salary. He’ll be your keeper, so you’ll have Mahomes, and with his $20 on your payroll, you’ll have $80 left to spend in the auction ($100 - $20). But there would need to be something to entice me to allow this to happen. So you would need to throw me $5 of cap space. So that would take you down to $75 to spend in the auction. I would get your $5, so I would be starting with $105 (and if I had McCaffrey at $25, I would also be starting at $80 in the auction itself).

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Question 10

Been loving the Mag since 1992. My question: Do you think David Montgomery is worth a 4th round pick in a PPR league

Jack MacEwen ()

I don’t think there will be many 12-team leagues where Montgomery makes it to the fourth round. Running back is the hardest position to fill, and he’s a durable, full-time kind of guy. I’m in a PPR draft with Fanex right now. I took him at choice 3.03 (the 27th pick overall and the 16th running back). Two other running backs were chosen before the start of the fourth round.

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