Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: Have we seen the last of COVID sidelining players? The overworked running back jinx. Looking for fantasy scoring systems with balance. Seattle's sputtering passing game. Keeper questions. And more.

Question 1

What impact, if any, will COVID-19 have on player availability this season? The NFL has eliminated COVID protocols, but I'm not sure what that means in a practical sense. Will players who test positive during the week still be banned from team facilities or will they be able to play on Sunday if they feel up to it?

Paul Owers (Boynton Beach, FL)

COVID won’t be a big factor, but I imagine there will be a few key players who will miss games. The league and the NFL Players Association in March announced that testing protocols will be suspended for the 2022 season, but individual cases will still need to be addressed. COVID is still hanging around, and with testing eliminated, it potentially could spread more easily through locker rooms. The March press release noted that players displaying symptoms are still required to notify the team. I suppose a player with mild COVID symptoms potentially could quietly try to muscle through and play, but he would do so at the risk of being less effective and also dishing off the virus on others. Those testing positive will need to isolate for five days before returning, and proof of a negative test will be required before returning. I haven’t seen the exact wording of the revised 2022 guidelines, but I’m expecting we’ll probably see a notable player sidelined for COVID reasons about once every 2-3 weeks this year.

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Question 2

I trained as a scientist and I'm leery of superstition. And I know there's lies, damn lies etc. But this business of running backs with more than 370 carries busting after a dazzling season seems to work EVERY time. last year I thought I'd be logical and bold and picked Derrick Henry first, regardless. Bam! Should I skip Jonathan Taylor if I get a first pick?

Cliff Neville (Somerset, TX)

The numbers are pretty damning. Of the last 15 running backs who’ve logged 370 carries, only one has finished higher than 9th in overall production among running backs the next season (using PPR scoring). The numbers since the merger appear below. There have been 30 running backs who’ve had at least 370 rushing attempts. Only six of those guys in their next season finished with top-5 numbers – 80 percent of those backs (24 of 30) ranked 9th or below. Over half didn’t make the top 15 (again, assuming PPR scoring). Which means what, exactly? Well, if I happen to get the No. 1 overall pick, I will be running to the podium with Jonathan Taylor printed in all-caps on the card. I like him a lot more than other running backs who likely will be selected with top-5 picks.

1981Earl Campbell, Hou.161,3761561,53210249.214
1982George Rogers, N.O.653521556377.635
1984John Riggins, Was.141,239431,28214219.214
1984Eric Dickerson, LAR162,1051392,24414329.43
1985Eric Dickerson, LAR141,2341261,36012228.019
1985James Wilder, T.B.161,3003411,64110277.19
1985Walter Payton, Chi.161,5514832,03411327.23
1986Marcus Allen, Oak.137594531,2127209.218
1986Gerald Riggs, Atl.161,3271361,4639224.314
1987E.Dickerson, LAR-Ind.121,2881711,4596199.95
1989Eric Dickerson, Ind.151,3112111,5228230.211
1990Christian Okoye, K.C.14805238287128.833
1993Barry Foster, Pitt.97112179289173.819
1993Emmitt Smith, Dall.141,4864141,90010307.01
1996Emmitt Smith, Dall.151,2042491,45315282.35
1998Jerome Bettis, Pitt.151,185901,2753161.522
1999Jamal Anderson, Atl.2593493011.3127
1999Terrell Davis, Den.421126237238.787
2001Edgerrin James, Ind.66621938553129.532
2001Eddie George, Ten.169392791,2185188.820
2003Ricky Williams, Mia.161,3723511,72310282.39
2003L.Tomlinson, S.D.161,6457252,37017444.12
2004Ricky Williams, Mia.00000.0--
2004Jamal Lewis, Balt.121,0061161,1227164.228
2005Curtis Martin, NYJ127351188535139.327
2006Shaun Alexander, Sea.10896489447148.433
2007Larry Johnson, K.C.85591867454128.537
2009Michael Turner, Atl.118713590610155.634
2015DeMarco Murray, Phil.157023221,0247188.415
2021Derrick Henry, Ten.89371541,09110193.422

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Question 3

Should the goal of a fantasy league scoring system be an even-scoring distribution between the players? At least between quarterback, running back and receivers. I'm in two leagues, both PPR style, every year 5-7 of the top point getters are QBs. And most leagues are set up with RB heavy scoring systems. I'll hang up and listen.

Tim Dufault (Crookston, MN)

The top quarterbacks will finish with the most points, but the players finishing 10th, 15th and even 20th at that position will also put up plenty of yards and touchdowns. So instead of looking at total stats, let’s look at their value relative to others who play the same position. Consider, for example, the 100th pick in your draft. If you held that pick, what quarterback might you pick there? In a 12-team league, I’m thinking you might select Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins or Trey Lance in that 100th spot – a quarterback in the teens. But when pick 100 rolls around, maybe 30 running backs will have been chosen, and perhaps 40 wide receivers. So our math changes from Josh Allen being better than Jonathan Taylor to Allen minus Cousins being not as good as Taylor minus Tony Pollard or Michael Carter. By my numbers (and I’m using 2022 projections here rather than 2021 numbers), all but 3 of the top 20 stat producers will be quarterbacks, but none of the top 20 players will be quarterbacks when using relative values. If we use pick 100 as the starting point in our measurements, it looks like you’ll be better off focusing on backs and receivers, filling the QB position with a Carr-Cousins-Lance option in the middle rounds.

Total PointsRelative Pts
QB HerbertRB Taylor
QB AllenWR Kupp
QB MahomesWR Jefferson
QB BurrowRB Ekeler
QB PrescottTE Kelce
QB L.JacksonWR Chase
QB HurtsRB Harris
QB StaffordRB Henry
QB BradyRB Mixon
QB WilsonTE Andrews
QB MurrayRB Fournette
QB RodgersRB McCaffrey
QB CarrRB Cook
QB CousinsWR Diggs
WR KuppRB A.Jones
QB LanceWR Adams
RB TaylorWR Lamb
WR JeffersonWR Pittman
QB M.JonesWR Higgins
QB RyanRB Swift

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Question 4

With Baker Mayfield no longer an option, it's looking more and more that the Seahawks are going to go with Geno Smith and Drew Lock under center. Does this mean they're likely to have a heavily run-based offense and we should value Penny and Kenneth Walker much higher than the typical RBBC situation? Similarly, is there any hope for the Seahawks passing game to generate above-average numbers?

Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)

There is no chance, in my opinion, of the Seahawks finishing above average in either passing yards or passing touchdowns. With the style of offense they’ll run, I don’t think they’re shooting for those kind of numbers. And when they try to go to the air more, I don’t think the quarterback play will be good enough. Geno Smith played reasonably well when filling in last year, with a passer rating almost identical to Wilson’s, but he averaged only 190 passing yards in his three full games, with 4 TDs. Drew Lock has averaged 218 yards in his 16 starts the last two years, with 17 TDs. Not realistic to expect those guys to put up Wilson-type numbers. Seattle might finish with above-average rushing stats as a team, but I wouldn’t count on either Penny or Walker doing much as receivers. That will make it harder for them to be viable options in fantasy leagues.

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Question 5

Your league starts 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1Flex (RB,WR,TE), 1 K, and 1 D. Rookies can be kept the following year in the same round as originally drafted. If you could choose any slot in your 12-team PPR league draft this year, which would you want and why?

Chris George (Mc Donald, PA)

Running back is the hardest position to fill, so I would want that No. 1 overall spot. I’d take Taylor there. If the first pick is gone, I’d go with the No. 2 spot and pick Kupp. He plays an easier-to-fill position, but in PPR scoring he might finish the season with more total points. And if those picks are gone, I like the first half of the first round a lot more than the second. Late in the first round, I think, you’re settling for players who aren’t really that much more promising than the guys who’ll go early in the second.

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Question 6

I can keep 4 of the following in a standard scoring 16-team dynasty league. The players are Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, Javonte Williams, Jalen Hurts, Jaylen Waddle, Mike Williams, Brandon Aiyuk. I’m leaning towards keeping the 3 running backs even though I can only start two and Hurts. Or do you think I should drop Hurts and keep Waddle or someone else?

BRIAN ROWELL (Saint Johns, MI)

I see some sense in keeping three running backs. Henry and Mixon are both in the back halves of their careers. Henry is entering his seventh year, while Mixon is in his sixth. There’s no way both are playing 17 games. Williams is your most valuable asset (he’s only 22), but he might not be ready to be a top-15 back yet. They’re talking about him sharing time with Melvin Gordon. So I like the idea of keeping all three, giving you the ability to focus on the deeper positions in the draft. If everything clicks for Hurts, he might finish with top-5 numbers (given his rushing production), but I’m not confident he’ll still be starting in 2023. If you cut him loose, you might end up drafting Cousins, Lance, Carr or Lawrence, who might be more valuable long-term anyway. Or you might be re-drafting Hurts himself. So I might lean more to a wide receiver with that fourth spot. Waddle is a lot younger than Mike Williams, but I’ve got Williams a lot higher on my board for 2022 (and probably the next couple seasons as well, with the Chargers having Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen getting older). Aiyuk isn’t a consideration, in my opinion.

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Question 7

I am in a 10-man keeper league, full PPR. I’m leaning towards keeping JaMarr Chase over Austin Ekeler. My question is if I keep Chase (depending on my draft order next year) is it outlandish if I target Justin Jefferson with my first pick? Players such as Dalvin Cook, Najee, Ekeler I can see all going before that from players dropped into the pool.

Tyler Johnson ()

Sounds good to me. Chase and Jefferson both look like safe investments – young guys who could have bunch of top-5 receiving seasons coming up. In a keeper league starting from scratch, I would think Chase and Jefferson would be the first two wide receivers selected. They’re 22 and 23 years old, while guys like Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams are 29.

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Question 8

I play in a 12-team hybrid keeper PPR league where we can keep three players drafted rounds 4-15; or we can franchise tag one player and keep another. I can franchise tag Cooper Kupp, Travis Kelce or Derrick Henry and keep Nick Chubb in the 4th round, or I can keep 3 of the following: Chubb (4th), Trey Lance (10th), Mahomes (7th) or Gabriel Davis (9th). Would you opt for the tag and one keeper?

Anthony Cillis (Hyde Park, NY)

Kelce and Henry aren’t considerations. And Chubb also isn’t really a factor either (given that he’s getting kept either way). The choice is whether you’re better off franchise-tagging Kupp or keeping both Mahomes and Gabriel. Kupp is arguably the No. 1 overall player in PPR; it would be nice to keep him around. But if you don’t protect him, would you have the ability to select him with the first pick of the draft? If all players were tossed into the pot and teams were selecting from scratch, I would expect Mahomes to be selected in the early fourth round, with Gabriel selected late in the fifth or early in the sixth. So there’s value in getting to keep them at the price tags you list. If we’re going strictly off numbers, I would guess that the combined “value” of Mahomes-Gabriel would be slightly higher than the value created by the franchise tag if it’s the same as simply keeping Kupp as a first-rounder. I’m not sure if teams using franchise tags then forfeit their first-round picks, which is a factor in the decision making. I wouldn’t want to make a firm recommendation without knowing the exact rules and how that first-round pick was going to play out. If keeping Kupp means you’re got a lesser first-round pick that will be used on a second-round kind of player, that might swing things in favor of Kupp.

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Question 9

Dynasty TD dependent league. Would you trade Davante Adams for Dalvin Cook? Adams moves to a new team and enters age 30 whereas Cook turns 27 and has been injury prone.

Howie Fishman (Hermosa Beach, CA)

In terms of remaining games, they could be at similar points in their careers. Adams turns 30 in December. Cook turns 27 in a few weeks and plays a more physically punishing position. Cook has been in the league for five seasons, and he’s missed multiple games in all of them. Adams has also missed time five years in a row (but just one missed game last season, and it came via COVID protocols). I think a case can be made for either guy – could hinge on the other players on the roster.

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Question 10

Looking at my dynasty league team, I'm trying to avoid rostering anyone whose role is endangered. It's most likely to happen to the back end of my RB room. Which one of these 3 guys would you deem 'most likely to disappear': Kareem Hunt, Devin Singletary, Michael Carter? Hunt wasn't really mentioned in the 'older running backs' article a few days ago. But he came in in 2017, and he's no longer the 'cut', no-extra-mass guy who came into the league. He's got some jiggle to him now. He's probably going to cost more than D'Ernest Johnson to re-sign. Singletary was used extensively late last year, as the draft magazine mentioned. And the same magazine indicated an expectation that James Cook won't be heavily used. But he's a 2nd-rounder. That scares me off from Singletary. Is that dumb? Lastly, Michael Carter played well last season. Their OC, Mike LaFleur, has a history of spreading the load back with the 49ers. Carter doesn't seem likely to be kicked to the curb, Breece Hall or no Breece Hall. And I acquired the #1 overall pick, so Hall may be mine and Carter a handcuff. Apologies if too long-winded, just want to explain my thought processes here.

Paul Desimone (Hayward, CA)

I will operate under the assumption that Breece Hall is the No. 1 overall pick. And if it goes down that way, Carter would make a lot of sense as a keeper. He’ll be mixed in some anyway (probably in passing situations and as a change-of-pace option) and there’s a really good chance he’ll need to start some games. It’s hard for running backs to last all 17 games. So while Carter probably would be the third back for most fantasy teams, he’s probably the best of the three for you. Jets may seem like a lesser team, but they actually ran the ball really well in the second half of last season (averaging 117 yards per game, and with 9 rushing TDs in their final 9). They've been pumping a lot of resources into that OL. So I think the move is to select Hall and then lock down and insure that Jets running back by also keeping Carter around. As well as Singletary played in the second half of last season, I would roll with him as the other keepere.

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