Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: Coping with the NFL's new COVID policies. Update on Fantasy Index Open. Success rates on first-round wide receivers. Rookie keepers. And more.

Question 1

I read something that teams will forfeit games this year if a game is cancelled because of an outbreak of COVID-19. This would obviously have a negative impact for fantasy. Is there a way to figure out what teams are fully or mostly vaccinated? Or should we not even worry about that come draft day?

Jeff Noordhoff (Indialantic, FL)

Teams are talking about players wearing identifying wristbands – one color for vaccinated, one color for unvaccinated. The player union is fighting that proposal, wanting to avoid outing players. And some teams and players might want to keep that information private to avoid potential harassment from fans. For the teams that use some kind of identifying system, I think it will become standard camp procedure for beat writers to identify which players are vaccinated. It’s information that has value, in my opinion (if there were two otherwise interchangeable players, I would prefer the one who was vaccinated).

Big picture, the league says it won’t re-schedule games. There will be no pushing of games to Monday night or to a future bye week. If a team is missing a dozen players, it will just have to make do. But that’s how things were happening late last year. The Broncos had to play a game with a practice squad wide receiver at quarterback, and the Lions had to play a game without a bunch of key coaches. I would expect there will be multiple games where there’s a key player sidelined by a COVID issue, but I don’t think we’ll get to point where any games where a team can’t scrap together enough players to put a team on the field. And unlikely that we’ll see a practice squad player starting at quarterback.

4 Comments | Add Comment

Question 2

Just wondering if your going to have the Fantasy Index Open this year? My son and I really enjoy it and look forward to it each year.

Jesse McGuigan ()

Yes. It should be loaded onto the site soon. The format will be slightly different this year. In the past, the picks were due before the start of the first week of the preseason. This year, we’re going to allow picks right up until the start of the regular season. The hope is this will make preseason injuries less of a factor. (Consider, for example, how different your picks would have looked a week ago, before news broke on Cam Akers and Michael Thomas.)

Add Comment

Question 3

You did a review of second-round receivers. How about a review of first-round receivers this class vs other draft classes? What might we expect?

Jim Backstrom (Henderson, NV)

You did a review of second-round receivers. How about a review of first-round receivers this class vs other draft classes? What might we expect?

There were five selected in the first round this year, but they come in with wildly different expectations. There’s a huge difference between being selected in the first round (JaMarr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith) and showing up 20th (Kadarius Toney) and 27th (Rashod Bateman). With the first three, the hope is for instant impact – that they’ll be stars. With the later guys, it’s iffy whether either will start in September (I don’t think they will).

Looking at wide receivers selected in the top 10, I see plenty of guys who’ve put up top-30 numbers in their first season (that’s PPR scoring, and top 30 among wide receivers). Those guys are in bold, and those with top-40 numbers are tagged with black dots. But most of them are insanely talented physical freaks. I don’t any of the three this year having the same kind of off-the-charts talent. Since 2000, there have been 28 top-10 receivers, with 8 in the top 30 and 3 in the top 40. That’s 11 of 28 in the top 40, which is decent, but 16 of the 28 didn’t rank higher than 60th, which is pretty lousy.

2007• Calvin Johnson, Det.2487565158.838
2003Charles Rogers, Det.222243366.088
2003Andre Johnson, Hou.3669764186.622
2004• Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.3587808185.431
2005Braylon Edwards, Cle.3325123101.267
2011A.J. Green, Cin.4651,0577218.017
2015Amari Cooper, Oak.4721,0706214.721
2014Sammy Watkins, Buff.4659826200.027
2000Peter Warrick, Cin.4515927167.030
2012Justin Blackmon, Jac.5648655184.829
2017Corey Davis, Ten.534375071.585
2011Julio Jones, Atl.6549598203.521
2014Mike Evans, T.B.7681,05112245.113
2004• Roy Williams, Det.7548178183.832
2005Troy Williamson, Min.724372276.082
2009Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oak.79124129.3118
2017Mike Williams, LAC71195020.5139
2015Kevin White, Chi.7000.0--
2013Tavon Austin, St.L.8404186132.953
2001David Terrell, Chi.834415499.561
2000Plaxico Burress, Pitt.822273049.386
2001Koren Robinson, Sea.939536199.960
2007Ted Ginn, Mia.934420394.374
2004Reggie Williams, Jac.927268163.893
2017John Ross, Cin.90001.2199
2009Michael Crabtree, S.F.10486252122.560
2000Travis Taylor, Balt.1028276374.772
2005Mike Williams, Det.1029350170.088

Since 2000, there have been 26 wide receivers selected in the first round, but in the bottom 10 picks of the first round. This is the group Bateman is in. Toney was the 20th pick, so he’s just above this group, but he seems more like a bottom-10 pick who got a little overdrafted – he seems to kind of belong here as well.

In this group, only 3 of 26 put up top-30 numbers in their first year (they’re in bold). Another 5 put up top-40 numbers (with black dots). If we call top 40 as relative success as a fantasy draft pick, the hit rate is just short of 1 in 3.

2007Dwayne Bowe, K.C.23709955199.522
2016Laquon Treadwell, Min.2311502.5187
2018• DJ Moore, Car.24557882163.036
2010Dez Bryant, Dall.24455618149.142
2020• Brandon Aiyuk, S.F.25607487184.535
2006• Santonio Holmes, Pitt.25498243150.738
2019Marquise Brown, Balt.25465847146.446
2001Freddie Mitchell, Phil.2521283154.989
2018Calvin Ridley, Atl.266482110208.820
2011Jonathan Baldwin, K.C.2621254152.4108
2015Breshad Perriman, Balt.26000.0--
2013DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.27528022144.249
2005Roddy White, Atl.2729446392.871
2014Kelvin Benjamin, Car.28731,0089227.816
2009• Hakeem Nicks, NYG29477906162.833
2013• Cordarrelle Patterson, Min.29454699161.738
2000R. Jay Soward, Jac.2914154138.2102
2015Phillip Dorsett, Ind.2918225148.2110
2004Michael Jenkins, Atl.297119019.1136
2009Kenny Britt, Ten.30427013130.152
2001Reggie Wayne, Ind.3027345061.586
2007Craig Davis, S.D.3020188145.7106
2012A.J. Jenkins, S.F.30000.0195
2004Rashaun Woods, S.F.317160129.0122
2007Anthony Gonzalez, Ind.32375763112.666
2019N'Keal Harry, N.E.3212105239.4124

Setting aside the top 10 and the bottom 10, 28 other wide receivers were selected in the first round (since 2000). Six of these players put up top-30 numbers as rookies, including three from LSU (Beckham, Jefferson, Michael Clayton). Only one other in the top 40, for a hit rate of about 25 percent. Kadarius Toney joins this group, and he’s not a receiver I’m high on. They’ve got veteran pass catchers that I think are better than him right now. I see that the last four wide receivers selected 20th overall all had some pro success, but it came later in their careers (with Brandin Cooks, he got hurt).

2014Odell Beckham, NYG12911,30512297.08
2020Henry Ruggs, L.V.1226452288.189
2004Lee Evans, Buff.13488439194.829
2002Donte Stallworth, N.O.13425948149.650
2012Michael Floyd, Ariz.13455622113.265
2015DeVante Parker, Mia.1426494393.478
2004Michael Clayton, T.B.15801,1937244.314
2001Rod Gardner, Was.15467414145.743
2020Jerry Jeudy, Den.15528563157.645
2016Corey Coleman, Cle.1533413393.382
2001Santana Moss, NYJ1624005.4153
2020CeeDee Lamb, Dall.17749357219.722
2003Bryant Johnson, Ariz.1735438184.882
2009• Jeremy Maclin, Phil.19567734156.635
2002Ashley Lelie, Den.19355252103.569
2012Kendall Wright, Ten.20646264151.045
2014Brandin Cooks, N.O.20535504139.356
2002Javon Walker, G.B.2023319162.095
2015Nelson Agholor, Phil.2023283157.3101
2000Sylvester Morris, K.C.21486783135.449
2005Matt Jones, Jac.21364325114.953
2016Will Fuller, Hou.21476353128.261
2020Jalen Reagor, Phil.2131396287.291
2020Justin Jefferson, Min.22881,4007274.26
2009Percy Harvin, Min.22607908200.523
2005Mark Clayton, Balt.22444713112.455
2010Demaryius Thomas, Den.2222283262.495
2016Josh Doctson, Was.2226608.6169

Add Comment

Question 4

Our 12-team, full-point PPR league starts 1QB, 2RBs, 3WR/TEs, and one Flex (RB/WR/TE). We do not have keepers...unless an owner drafts a rookie and rosters him for the entire season. Then, that owner is allowed to keep said rookie by "redrafting" him in year 2 in the same round he was taken as a rookie. (Example: one owner drafted Jonathon Taylor in Rd4 last year, thus he can keep Taylor as his 4th round pick this season). My question is - how should this wrinkle in our drafting rules affect the Index rankings of rookies? Is there a way to quantify it? Having control of a player for 2 years, with the 2nd year at a potentially major discount, adds value to certain players. The question is how much?

Chris George (Mc Donald, PA)

I don’t see anybody sneaking away with Najee Harris. There are many who think he’ll be a top-10 back right out of the box. If you’re looking for a Jonathan Taylor type prospect, the fit is better with Javonte Williams and Travis Etienne. Those guys are in line to be contributors this year, with the potential to be a lot better in 2022. Kyle Pitts and JaMarr Chase to be look like Najee Harris. There will be people who are really high on them, so I don’t think you’re getting them low enough that they’ll really crush their 2022 draft position. Guys like Elijah Moore, Terrace Marshall, Rhamondre Stevenson should outperform their draft position a year from now, but with each guy, you’re paying the considerable cost of having to carry them for the 2021 season, and I’m not sure any of them are worth roster spots this year. I would be way more interested in Chuba Hubbard; you would be holding his rights for two years, and it will be two for a heavily used back like Christian McCaffrey to stay healthy for 34 consecutive games. And sign me up for Amon-Ra St. Brown; he’s a favorite sleeper pick of mine.

Add Comment

Question 5

12 team, TD-only league, 15-round draft, starting 2 WRs but only one player at each of the other positions. How would you rank the various positions in order of draft importance and what would be your general draft strategy overall?

Philip Haines (Burien, WA)

TD-only is a different animal. And you’ve got it set up with only 180 players being selected. There will be numerous viable players showing up on the waiver wire during the season – backup running backs who become starters and rookies that people overlook. Almost nobody, I think, will carry a backup kicker or defense, and I don’t think anyone will carry three quarterbacks – you’ll also be able to find serviceable fill-in players at that position.

I would be hoping to start with one of the two elite wide receivers – Davante Adams or Tyreek Hill. I’d want to select a running back in the first three rounds. And I would want to secure a good quarterback. There will be plenty of decent baseline quarterbacks available, but there’s value in latching onto one of those guys who puts up 40-plus touchdowns. Mahomes and Josh Allen, I think, should be going in the first half of the first round. After that, I’d be thinking about the best balance of a player and where he might go (I’ve got 10 QBs going in the first three rounds of your draft).

Add Comment