Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. How did FFI miss so badly on Cooper Kupp? What happened to New England's running game? Michael Thomas and Jeff Wilson coming off injuries. And more.
What’s your prognosis for NE RBs for the remainder of 2021? Is it back to the same scrambled mess it’s been the last couple years? With Michel traded and James White hurt, you’d think Damien Harris would be sitting pretty, but he’s done zip the last two weeks. I see you still have him ranked pretty highly in redraft in non-PPR formats, which suggests you think he’ll still be productive. But it’s hard to start a RB who’s so unpredictable. I’m thinking of benching him for James Conner.
Eric Pryne (Vashon, WA)
Their last two games have been against the Saints and Bucs, who have the top 2 run defenses in the league. It’s almost impossible to run against Tampa Bay, and not much easier against New Orleans. So the Patriots bailed on the run in those games, with Mac Jones instead attempting 51 and 40 passes. That’s not a permanent shift. When they run into more modest defenses, I think they’ll run the ball well. They’ve got one of those on Sunday, with the Texans ranking 28th in run defense. So I like Damien Harris for Week 5; I think he’ll bang out some yards. I would say this with more confidence if New England’s starting guard and left tackle weren’t on the COVID list. The James White spot is harder to figure. He’s out for the year, so they need somebody to plug into that role. They’ve been using Brandon Bolden so far. He’s caught 9 passes for 74 yards in his last two games, but he’s lost more yards than he’s gained with his 4 carries. I was thinking they might try to move J.J. Taylor into that role, but he hardly played against the Saints, and they benched him after an early fumble against the Bucs. Bolden is bigger and more experienced, perhaps making him a more trusted, reliable option in pass protection.
Thank you ever so much for ranking Robert Woods ahead of Cooper Kupp! I don’t know where I would be without you guys (other than undefeated and in 1st place, I mean). Thanks again!
Andrew Shiner (Sherman Oaks, CA)
As it stands, Cooper Kupp is the No. 1 wide receiver, while Robert Woods ranks 43rd (that’s using PPR scoring). I can’t explain that. That is, if we wind the clock back to September 1, I can’t make a case for why one should select Kupp as a top-5 wide receiver while leaving Woods out of the top 20. The Rams didn’t use any of their regulars in the preseason, of course, so there was evidence there. And I didn’t see any written articles that suggested Kupp would be used in a different way. The team had a new quarterback, so it would be reasonably be projected that they would have more success through the air, but I didn’t see any breadcrumbs leading me to believe Kupp would separate from Woods. Over the last years, these guys have been pretty similar. Woods was more productive in 2020. Over the last three seasons, they both rank just outside the top 10 in per-game production. And as we look at the remaining three quarters of the season, I expect things will start moving back more in the direction. Sean McVay recently said that they need to do a better job of getting the ball to Woods, and in the Week 4 game against the Cardinals, Woods for the first time this year finished with better numbers than Kupp. Would not be a surprise, in my opinion, if Woods in the remaining 13 games is the most productive receiver on this roster.
I'm in at 14-team league. I drafted Mike Davis as my #2 running back. I picked up Cordarrelle Patterson off waivers, he's been outplaying Davis every week. Should I start Patterson this week and going forward?
DAVID MARCUS (Glenmoore, PA)
Patterson has been the season’s most surprising player, with 2 TDs at Tampa Bay and another 3 TDs against Washington. He’s getting a good amount of time as a traditional running back, with 6-7 carries in every game. I’ve seen him lined up to convert traditional short-ayrdage carries. And they’re also flexing him out as a wide receiver. He’s caught 5-6 passes in each of the last three weeks, averaging 74 receiving yards in those games. Makes sense, in general, to put him on the field and hope for more. The Falcons in London won’t have either Calvin Ridley (personal matter) or Justin Gage (injury), so I expect Patterson this week will be used more often as a traditional wide receiver, with a good chance of catching 6-8 passes.
What are your thoughts on Michael Thomas? I took him in the 9th round and feel that when he returns, he has a decent chance of being a 1A WR. He seems like he will be a good fit for Jameis.
Yaesha Newman ()
If Thomas is going to be a top-10 receiver, they’ll need to start passing the ball more. A lot more. Right now, they’re next-to-last in passing, averaging only 156 yards per game. Sean Payton has been trying to hide Jameis Winston – relying instead on defense and their running game. If you’ve got Thomas, the hope is that the team before long evolves into something more. As the weeks go by, Winston presumably will get more confident and knowledgeable, and they’ll start letting him do more. Think back to 2019, when Teddy Bridgewater replaced Drew Brees. Bridgewater in his first two games passed for only 177 and 193 yards, with lots of short, safe passes – he was a game manager. But in Bridgewater’s third start, they opened things up pretty good, with him torching the Bucs for 314 yards and 4 TDs. Two weeks later, he threw for 281 yards and 2 TDs at Chicago. At some point, I imagine they’ll try to make the same kind of step forward with Winston. Maybe this week; they’re playing a Washington defense that’s allowed 4 TD passes in back-to-back games.
Can you please answer the Juwan Johnson question? Is he a WR or TE?
KEVIN KNIGHT (Stillwater, OK)
Johnson was a wide receiver at Penn State and Oregon. The Saints signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2020. His rookie year, he was a wide receiver – they had him listed as a wide receiver. They’ve since switched him to tight end. He’s now listed as a tight end at the team’s website. When exactly this switch occurred, I’m not sure (I remember becoming aware of it during training camp). Johnson is listed as a wide receiver in the NFL Record & Fact Book, and the positions there are pretty official – supplied by the teams (probably in May or early June). Cordarrelle Patterson, for example, has been a wide receiver for most of his career. When the Falcons signed him, it was with the intention of him being a running back. They’re listing him as a running back, and that’s also reflected in the Record & Fact Book. For fantasy purposes, I believe it most appropriate to list Johnson as a tight end.
What are your thoughts on Jeff Wilson? I picked him up in a couple of leagues where I had room as the current 49ers RBs aren't exactly tearing it up.
John Ruppe (Fort Myers, FL)
Makes a lot of sense. He’s on the PUP list, but he’s eligible to re-join the roster following their Week 6 bye. I expect he’ll return to practice at that time. Kyle Shanahan in mid-September indicated Wilson should be ready to return in October. "I think we were saying like weeks six through eight,” Shanahan said. “I just haven't asked for a while. But he's looked great around here, working out, getting ready. I know he'll be helping us sometime this year." Wilson underwent knee surgery in late May. He was effective at times last year. He ran for 112 yards and 3 TDs in a win at New England, and he ran for 183 yards, with a touchdown, when the 49ers won at Arizona in Week 16. If he can get back o being that guy, I would expect he’ll start some games at some point.
I have Chubb, Gibson, Chase Edmonds, and Devin Singletary. What sounds like a better plan? Trade Edmonds for Kareem Hunt? Or trade Chubb and a WR, for Saquon Barkley and a WR? I think I could get Keenan Allen, or Allen Robinson, for one of my backup WRs.
WYATT KLEIN (S Milwaukee, WI)
I don’t want any part of Allen Robinson. Bears haven’t been able to get their offense in sync at all. Robinson has caught about 100 passes two years in a row, but he’s not that guy right now. Four games in, he’s caught 13 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.
I am in a dynasty league in which I have both Keenan Allen & Mike Williams on expiring contracts. With Williams’ hot start, I figured I could turn his modest (expiring) rookie contract into something for my roster going forward. I can acquire Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell and Diontae Johnson on friendly contracts in exchange for Williams and some expendable players (Freiermuth & Curtis Samuel). I feel this makes sense, but am I missing something? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
PAUL KONCZAL (Fairfield, IA)
Sounds good to me. Diontae Johnson is a productive player. He probably won’t be as productive as Williams for the remainder of the 2021 season, but he might be – and Johnson comes with the advantage of also being part of your team for 2022. And the Sermon-Mitchell tandem is appealing. I would think there will be a fair number of viable starts between those two over the next few years. Note with the two rookie running backs that neither is yet much of a factor as a pass catcher (making them less valuable in PPR formats).
Having some defense issues. Tried to do the stream thing and it has backfired on me in a big way. I think it's time to pick a defense and stick with it. My options are the Ravens, Cowboys, Bears, Panthers and the Chargers. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
PAUL NICKAS (Jacksonville, FL)
This looks like a good group to pick from. On our most recent defensive rankings that went out, all of these defenses were ranked in the top 15 (but none were in the top 7). The Panthers look like they’re for real – making a couple of trades for high-profile cornerbacks in the last week. They’ve got some nice players on that side of the ball, with Brian Burns, Shaq Thompson and Jeremy Chinn leading the way.
What are your thoughts on the Flex position? RB/WR/TE. I have always in the past preferred a WR to put in there. But I read in a comment forum that they thought RBs were a better fit. I know matchups matter. I have Hines and McKissic in a few of my leagues. I was wondering if you have a preference?
Darren Castillo (Placentia, CA)
I don’t lock in on a position. I try to keep an open mind. My general process is to put together projections for each team and offense as best I can. That provides a statistical expectation for each player. Once those numbers are in place, the decision making gets a lot easier. If the projections indicate one player is a lot better than the others, then that’s your guy. If the number are pretty close, you can start mulling whether to override them with some kind of gut feel. Sometimes you get matchups where you feel a running back is at least a safe choice to get the ball in his hands a bunch.
PPR league. I've been offered McCaffrey, Hubbard and Javonte Williams for Aaron Jones, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and AJ Dillon. Would you make the trade?
Brian Boyd (Maple Grove, MN)
It looks like a reasonable trade off to me. If comes down to McCaffrey’s health, I think. Do you want to take on the risk of assuming he can stay healthy? McCaffrey is about 6 points per week better than Jones. CEH is about 4 points per week better than Williams (where you waiting for some combination of him getting better, Gordon either fading away or getting hurt). If we’re assuming both of the big backs get hurt, I like Dillon more than Hubbard. If it’s me, I’d take the McCaffrey package.
I went zero RB with my draft order 8 of 10 teams. My WR starters are Adams, Diggs, AJ Brown. I also have Ja'Marr Chase for backup. With the exception of Adams one good game, those 3 are under performing. My starting RBs are Swift and Carson. I'm considering trading away Diggs to receive Chubb. Do you think that is a good move?
Bo Ledoux (Dripping Springs, TX)
Diggs and Chubb, I think, look pretty comparable. In PPR scoring, I’ve got them both penciled in for just short of 16 points per game. If you want to shift from a WR to a RB for positional purposes, that would be a reasonable move. But I don’t think there’s any pressing need to unload Diggs – I think he’ll be fine.