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Mailbag

Mailbag for August 19, 2021

Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. Is Aaron Rodgers underrated? Running backs who might emerge in 2022. How Travis Etienne landed a a starting job on Ian's Fanex team. Will Tyler Lockett's consistency issues persist? And much, much more.

Question 1

What am I missing about Aaron Rodgers? He has been going as the QB5-6 in many of my mocks, and I nabbed him in my first official draft in RD5 of a 12-team Best Ball. I was ecstatic. He's not going to throw 48 TDs again. But the dude is hugely motivated, based on the Peter King column I read. People seem to be looking at him as a guy who might quit before the season starts. Yeah, I know, he doesn't run for much yardage. But I'd consider him a value pick as the QB5 -6 off the board.

Richard Weber (Fort Myers, FL)

Rodgers is great, but here are a lot of really special quarterbacks in the league right now. So I don’t think it’s unusual to see five QBs going ahead of him.

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Question 2

Hi, which 5 teams do you see being the top offenses? How about the top 5 passing teams? The top 5 rushing teams?

John Wozniak (Lackawanna, NY)

Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Green Bay are my top 3. Then not much difference between Buffalo, Dallas and Cleveland (I’ve got them all at about 3 TDs per week). I’ve been posting team stat projection totals once per week, and I’ll put up the latest numbers tomorrow.

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Question 3

What do you think of the idea of shifting your own ADP to favor players that play in divisions against teams or major players that are known to be unvaccinated? Is it worth factoring in the possibility of weaker defenses due to outbreaks?

Ed Burke ()

We’re tracking some of the vaccination information; I’ve got a team-by-team file, and we’ll post it once a week. But I don’t think it’s super useful. In my rankings, I’m moving the COVID-risk players down just a little. All things being equal, I would prefer to build a team made up of players who are vaccinated – they’re less likely to be forced to scratch out of a game. But how likely is that to actually happen? So I’m moving those players down only if the next option is pretty comparable anyway. I’ve already drafted a team that includes all three of the most prominent COVID-risk players: Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen and Cole Beasley. You’re floating the idea of stepping to another level, focusing not on players but the defenses they’ll be facing. That’s not something I would pursue. Maybe my opinion will change if in a couple of weeks, we learn there’s a defense with an unusually high number of key players who are unvaccinated.

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Question 4

Can you identify a few RBs who will be drafted outside of the top 30 at the position this year, but have the best chance to be taken in the top 15 at the position next year? Could be because of expected increase in opportunities or development in skills over the course of a year.

Joe Cartan (San Francisco, CA)

Maybe Trey Sermon with the 49ers. In this kind of a league, I’m not sure that he’ll last 30 running backs, but maybe. And he could be coveted heading into the 2022 season. AJ Dillon makes a lot of sense; he could be Green Bay’s leading back heading into 2022. If Chris Carson breaks down in Seattle, maybe Rashaad Penny or DeeJay Dallas (I believe Penny will Seattle’s backup running back, but Dallas looks like he might develop into something – had a nice 43-yard touchdown on a pass play Saturday). Possibly throw a late-round dart at Rhamondre Stevenson, Chuba Hubbard or Salvon Ahmed.

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Question 5

Fanex draft 6th round #4 you take Travis Etienne-RB. In the magazine Lighting Round (back page) Running Backs, question " Rookie RB you won't own" Your answer Travis Etienne. What happened from then til now to change your mind?

Craig Leedy (Sacramento, CA)

Here’s a reader doing his job. Holding writers accountable. Thank you. Etienne isn’t a player I am excited about, and not a guy I would expect to select. But I opened this draft WR-WR-QB-RB-WR, so in the sixth round, I felt it was necessary to secure that second starting running back. It was pretty picked over. Choices were either Etienne or one of the Denver guys (Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams). Etienne should catch a healthy number of passes, making him a decent fit in PPR. And I was thinking I’d probably be able to get Gordon later. This pick was made on Friday, by the way. Williams looked really good in his first preseason game the next game; he probably should have been the pick. Etienne, meanwhile, decreased in value in his first preseason appearance. In general, doesn’t look like a first-round kind of guy – looks like a pretty ordinary back.

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Question 6

Greetings, Ian. What is your justification for Lockett winding up inside the top 10 of your WR rankings? Aside from 3 spectacular games last season, he had a whole bunch of single digit stinkers. Thoughts?

Jeff Carter (Franklin, TN)

Lockett has finished with really good overall numbers three years in a row. He’s got an excellent rapport with Russell Wilson – those guys have a good feel for what to do when plays are breaking down. And Lockett has been his most effective receiver around the goal line. That Lockett in 2020 was about the most hot-and-cold receiver in the league I don’t think is meaningful. Different year and a different offense. Lockett put up big numbers in 2018 and 2019 and wasn’t a hot-and-cold player in either of those seasons.

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Question 7

On the cheat sheet presentations - I've always valued the positional groupings with the avg. projection per game next to it to visualize where the tiers are within positions - is there any easy way to print or view in the historical format?

Allen Eschenbach (Arroyo Grande, CA)

There’s an player projecitons stat download that comes with the file. It’s in a Microsoft Excel format. If you open that file, you’ll see three tabs. The one you prefer is the first tab, showing per-game stats. The second tab shows projected season totals. The third tab shows what the season totals would be if everyone stayed healthy (it’s the same as the first tab, but with numbers multiplied by 17 games).

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Question 8

I very much enjoy your host of products and have done well following your advice. I’ll be a customer for the duration. Just wondering, do you provide positional tiers of players at any point in the pre-season? If you do, where would I find them? Being able to look at a group of (almost) similar players in each position is a big help during the course of a fantasy draft.

Eric Burgess (Scarborough, ME)

There are two ways to do this. One is to open the stat download file. You can look at the projected totals for each player, measuring the distance between the various guys. Probably the better way would be to look at the combined overall list, showing 200-plus players, with color-coding across position. As you scrolls down through the list, you’ll see the groups where players from the same position are clustered.

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Question 9

Should I keep D. Adams with the 12th pick of the first round or D.Henderson with a 15th round pick. 14 teams .5 ppr league.

Don Ferris (Monarch Beach, CA)

I would keep Henderson. He might end up being worth a second-round pick, providing a huge edge for you. With that 12th pick of the draft, you might be able to land a player who’s about as good as Adams.

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Question 10

I commish several long-time leagues with friends. There’s one guy who behaves like a jackass in fantasy leagues and makes my job difficult. Argues rules, constantly complains, lopsided trades, incessant questions, and then just the cross-the-line insults that go beyond trash talk. Would you kick him out? Where do you draw the line between friends and “fantasy friends”?

Gregory Wells (Lake Forest Park, WA)

The overall karma of the league needs to be right. When you’re getting 12 guys together for a draft, the event needs to be fun and anticipated. That’s harder to pull off if there’s an owner that a notable portion of the league can’t stand. And the commissioner is a key figure; he’s got to be happy. So key questions, I supposed, would be mulling whether there’s any chance things will be better in the future? Can you talk sense into this guy? Assuming you’ve concluded it’s an untenable situation, are you kicking this owner out of the league? Or simply walking away yourself? If you attempt to remove him, how would that be received by the other 10 owners?

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Question 11

With a 17-game season upon us, do you have some kind of "durability" ranking for running backs and wide receivers? I know Elliott and Henry are obvious candidates, any others worth considering?

Scott MacDoniels (Chesterfield, MO)

With an extra game to work with, it slightly increases the value of the second-string running backs – gives them another opportunity to get in the starting lineup. In general, I try to use 3-4 picks on the better backup running backs in drafts – guys like Alexander Mattison, Darrel Williams, Rashaad Penny, Chuba Hubbard, Tony Pollard and Samaje Perine. I’ll be interested to see what Tony Jones looks like on Monday night, because I think he’s got a chance to beat out Latavius Murray (and Devonta Freeman) in New Orleans. I liked the way Jones played at Baltimore.

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Question 12

In regards to the weekly updates. Would it be difficult to highlight the players that are moving up/down in the cheat sheets? Either with arrows or italics or bold or something to show that there is movement with a particular player? For instance, an rb gets named a starter and you change some projections which causes them to move up a certain number of spots. Or vice versa if someone is demoted or has a short-term injury.

WILL SAYRE (Sacramento, CA)

In the preseason, the general process is to watch each game, then make statistical adjustments. The Patriots and Eagles, for example, are playing tonight. I’ll watch that game, then make adjustments for both offenses. Maybe I make a “team” adjustment that affects every player on New England (last week, I changed their offense from a Newton-Jones offense to working under the assumption that Jones will be their primary quarterback). And there are changes inside each positional group. So perhaps I’ll be in there moving some stats away from Sony Michel and onto the Rhamondre Stevenson ledger. How that eventually ends up moving players won’t be clear until later – until all the other preseason games have been processed. It gets a little messy. But if a player is moving significantly – if he’s one of the most notable movers/changers of the week – that will be explained in that team’s writeup, and he’ll be the first guy we talk about.

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Question 13

I noticed in the latest Dynasty Rankings that y'all have LV WRs ranked in this order: Ruggs, Brown, Renfrow. However, in the 2021 rankings, Bryan Edwards is 13 spots higher than Brown. It's hard to imagine you thinking Edwards, at 22yrs old, outscores the 31yr old Brown this year, but is not a better pick for the future. Were they mistakenly switched on the dynasty sheet?

Shaun Hawkins (Albany, GA)

I’ve been moving those guys around. In the dynasty rankings going out today, I’ve got them Ruggs-Edwards-Renfrow-Brown. The Raiders held their front-line guys out of their first preseason game, using John Brown and Zay Jones as their starters. Jones has a lot of lesser seasons on his resume, but he was their best wide receiver in that game, with a couple of downfield catches. He’s now wearing the lucky No. 7 that he wore at East Carolina, when he remarkably caught 158 passes in his final season. Brown wasn’t a factor in that game; he didn’t seem ready for the only ball that was thrown his way, with it whizzing through his hands.

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Question 14

I’m inquiring about Kamara. I just get the vibe that team is going to be sputtering all year. Switching qbs in an out and no Michael Thomas. I see you still rank him pretty high. I’d probably opt to bypass him if I’m faced with it.

Bill Petilli (Weston, FL)

I’m not a big Kamara fan. I haven’t had a draft yet where he’s been a consideration, so I assume I’ve got him low enough that he’s getting picked by other people. Like you, I don’t think they can play consistently with Hill or Winston starting.

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Question 15

I'm in a 10-team half point ppr league. Our league gives 6 points to any TD including passing. Would you draft a QB in the 1st or 2nd round with this format? How much does this format change player values?

Karl Scheel (Ingleside, IL)

It’s about finding difference makers. You want players who are going to be more productive than what the other nine teams are putting on the field. That’s hard at quarterback. Patrick Mahomes is one of those guys. He gets consideration at No. 1 overall. But he’s the only one I would select in the first round. I’ve got three others going in the top 20 overall, and then five other quarterbacks between 27th and 40th on my board. The talent should disappear quicker at the other positions.

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Question 16

Long-time subscriber. I play in a 2QB, ten-team league which allows us to retain any player drafted in rounds 9-12, for up to three years. The catch? The first retained player consumes your 12th round pick, your second retained player consumes your 10th round pick, etc. The second catch is that to be eligible for retention, you must keep the player on your roster (even if he's on the bench) all season long. Last year, I drafted Deebo Samuel, Ronald Jones, Darrell Henderson, and Alexander Mattison. My initial thought was to keep Henderson and release the other three because I could probably draft all of them in rounds 9-11 anyway. But Henderson would probably go in rounds 6-8 and has both a higher floor and higher ceiling than the others. I'm torn on Deebo Samuel because he seems so talented. But the SF passing game just doesn't seem all that exciting for me.

Andrew Napoli (Alexandria, VA)

You definitely keep Henderson. He’s got a good chance of finishing as a top-20 running back. Samuel is also a consideration; I think it will depend on what you see in the preseason. In that Draft Sharks Invitational event I participated in two weeks ago, he was picked between 35th and 38th among wide receivers in all six drafts. That puts him in the range (I think) where he might be selected before the 10th round.

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Question 17

I currently hold the 1st pick in a 12-team PPR Keeper League where teams can keep up to three players. My three selections are Calvin Ridley, Nick Chubb and Patrick Mahomes. Of the Index's top 10 available running backs, only Derrick Henry and Najee Harris are in the draft, along with guys like Barkley, Mixon, CEH, David Montgomery. The only top 10 wide receivers available in the draft are Adams, Keenan Allen and AJ Brown. Am I crazy in considering Najee Harris with the first pick over King Henry? My concern isn't just with Henry's workload, the addition of Julio or a shift in the offense philosophy, but more so because Henry and Nick Chubb, my keeper, are similar in that they don't handle much of the passing game and both bruising running backs. Is the upside of Harris too much to pass up?

Anthony Cillis (Hyde Park, NY)

Najee Harris looks like he’s for real to me. I would have no problem selecting him before Henry in a keeper league. Harris is definitely a much better pass catcher, and that’s a huge component in PPR.

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Question 18

I'm in a 10 man, 1/2 PPR league with 6 points per TD and bonus points for yardage. And I have the #3 pick. In recent years, I've gotten mired in building deep and balanced teams that haven't really produced in the playoffs. Given the league size, I'm wondering if I should consider a strategy shift and focus on drafting high upside difference makers as opposed to depth and balance. For instance, my tendency would be to grab Henry or Cook in the 1st and then follow that up with two stud receivers in rounds 2/3. Maybe guys like AJ Brown and Justin Jefferson. Perhaps Naj Harris if he's there. Nothing wrong with that, but should I be looking at grabbing Mahomes and Waller instead so I'll have a top 3 guy at each position except receiver which I will pounce on in the next few rounds? Just thinking about shaking it up and taking some positions earlier than I would in a 12 or 14 man league. Thoughts?

Jeffrey Damiani (Ashland, MA)

I’ve played in some 8- and 10-team leagues. I’ve also played in leagues with fewer reserves. It changes the decision making. As fewer players are chosen, it makes you awfully confident that you’ll be able to find modest production on the waiver wire. So that shift the focus (I think) to taking more gambles on guys who might be difference makers.

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Question 19

For a keeper league, if you could stash someone on IR for next year, is there anyone other than Cam Akers to consider?

Scott Kopischke (Menomonee Falls, WI)

I skimmed over the 32 teams. If there’s another Akers-type guy, I missed him. I believe Akers is the only notable player right now who is out for the year with an injury.

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Question 20

I know you preach grabbing the ball hog receivers but i am in a league that gives 1/2 point per reception and 1 point to TE. I am beginning to think I would be fine with Brandon Aiyuk as my WR2 and Antonio Brown as my 3 and Marvin Jones as my fill in. Doing the math backwards like this means I could go 3 RBs, 1WR and either Kittle or a QB with my first 5 picks. What do you think?

Tavis Medrano (Arcadia, CA)

If tight ends are getting an extra half point per reception, I would think both Kelce and Waller should be selected in the first round. I have drafted Brown and Jones. I think they’re undervalued. Brown in his 10 full games last year caught 53 passes for 564 yards and 6 TDs. He wasn’t quite as compelling when everyone was healthy. In his last eight games that Evans and Godwin were also healthy (a half season of work) Brown caught 38 passes for 385 yards and 4 TDs. I’m not sure what other people are making of Jacksonville’s first preseason game. To me, it looked like there was a strong rapport between Jones and Trevor Lawrence – it looked like there was a trust there.

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Question 21

Love the insight and have been using your cheat sheets forever. I am in a 12 team TD only league - draft 4 QBs, 5 each WRs/RBs. 3 each TEs and kickers, play 1-2-2-1-1 per week respectively. Every year I debate best draft strategy, seems RBs are usually targeted first and in recent years a lot of QBs going off the board in early rounds 1-2 as well. Your thoughts?

John MacDonald (Halifax, NS)

Many like to wait on quarterbacks, but I notice when I work with TD-only rankings that it’s a position that grades out more favorably in that format. That might be particularly true in your league, with 48 rostered – no chance of finding a serviceable quarterback on the waiver wire.

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Question 22

Darrell Henderson or James Robinson? Courtland Sutton or Marquis Brown? Adam Trautman or Austin Hooper?

Howie Fishman (Hermosa Beach, CA)

Put me down for Henderson-Brown-Hooper.

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Question 23

Keeper league, auction format with salary cap. My keeper options are Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley, David Montgomery and JK Dobbins. I'm reading a lot of negativity on Barkley, but ADP means nothing to me. Keeper Salaries are 38, 29, 27 and 20 respectively. Should I keep Barkley at 29 or Dobbins at 20? RBs are 2 PPR.

COREY and HEATHER DAHLINE (Angwin, CA)

I haven’t looked at the suggested player values for your guys. You would need to do that in the Custom Rankings Area of the website. But off the top of my head, I would take the combination of Dobbins and $9 rather than Barkley.

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Question 24

I play in a dynasty league with IDP. Where would you start choosing the top IDP players in relation to the rookie offensive players?

David Jung (San Francisco, CA)

I haven’t played in a league with IDP, but the same kind of valuing principals would apply. What if you didn’t select any defensive players (instead picking up players off the waiver wire later, and making adjustments during the season)? What kind of production would you expect? The value of these guys you are currently considering drafting, therefore, is roughly whatever you expect them to produce beyond that level of production. If you do this at each position, it should give you an idea of where those IDP should be chosen. And if this league has been around in previous seasons, the data from previous drafts might indicate whether teams are selecting these players too early or too late.

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