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Mailbag for October 27, 2022

Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: What are the Jets getting in James Robinson? A closer look at the Swift-Williams tandem in Detroit. Backup running backs,Week 9 bye options, and more.

Question 1

Who's the Jets RB to own now? Carter, Robinson, or am I better off avoiding both?

kevin tschetter (Draper, UT)

Breece Hall was going to be the Rookie of the Year. There’s no replacing him. He had plays of 79, 62 and 34 yards in the last three games. He was the guy who was going to help the Jets challenge for a playoff game. These guys are arguably serviceable, but they don’t have the same ability to create yards on their own.

Carter is awfully small (5-8, 201). He needs to share time with another back, and the matchup has to be right to use him. He ran for 118 yards in a game against Jacksonville last year. He’s averaged under 3.3 yards per carry in two thirds of his game this season. He’s had some good pass-catching games, but they’ve all come when other quarterbacks were filling in. He hasn’t caught more than 2 passes in any of his last eight games with Zach Wilson.

Robinson scored on 37- and 51-yard runs early in the season, which is remarkable considering he suffered a torn Achilles late last season. But he’s otherwise been ineffective. Even prior to his injury, he didn’t have much speed. To me, it’s very worrying that the Jaguars (who know him better than anyone) decided to give him away for late-round draft pick. Maybe they’re really confident that JaMycal Hasty can adequately back up Travis Etienne. Or maybe there was some kind of awkward locker-room dynamic, with Robinson not being happy in a No. 2 role. But I fear the Jaguars watched him for the last two months and concluded that he just didn’t have enough juice.

I expect these guys will be sharing time, and the overall production should be pretty modest. For me to use them, I would need the matchup to be right. They’ve got home games late in the year against the Bears and Lions, who are both struggling to defend the run. And they’ve got Jacksonville in Week 16; you would figure Robinson will be running hard in that one.

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Question 2

How do you think the situation in Detroit between Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift will pan out?

John Brower (Chapel Hill, NC)

Swift is really talented. At times, he looks like another Alvin Kamara. He had 50-yard runs in his first two games, and he had a couple of 130-yard games last year. But he can’t seem to stay healthy. He’s missed 3 and 4 games the last two years, and he’s already missed 3 this season. That needs to be figured out. Has he simply been unlucky? Or does he just not physically hold up as well as others at the position? And if it’s the later, can they avoid some of the injuries by using him differently (fewer touches or different plays)? Swift’s contract runs through the 2023 season; I expect the Lions would be careful about what kind of extension they might be willing to offer him in the offseason. (If there’s a team that was willing to offer them a McCaffrey-type deal before the trade deadline on Tuesday, I’m sure that would get their attention.)

Williams is a different kind of back. A little bigger and without any of the athletic magic, but with a lot more durability. It was apparent on Hard Knocks that he’s a team leader – a guy who spent four years on a winning team in Green Bay. He’ll be mixed in for some change-of-pace work, and they’ve been using him for their short-yardage and goal-line work. Williams has banged in 6 touchdowns.

I don’t know, however, that I would say Williams is anything more than a modest backup. Pretty damn slow. When he fills in for Swift, there’s a big dropoff. And even as a short-yardage guy, he’s ordinary at best. He’s had 11 carries this year when the Lions have needed 1 yard to either score a touchdown or keep a drive alive (on third or fourth down). He’s converted only 5 of them. (Though in fairness, he went 14 of 18 on those plays last year). Regardless, I think the Lions will be adding a notable back in the offseason.

SHORT-YARDAGE RUSHING
PlayerAttGoodPct
Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.1010100%
Daniel Jones, NYG66100%
Derrick Henry, Ten.55100%
Jimmy Garoppolo, S.F.55100%
Rachaad White, T.B.55100%
Taysom Hill, N.O.55100%
Jacoby Brissett, Cle.111091%
James Conner, Ariz.9889%
Jalen Hurts, Phi.171588%
Trevor Lawrence, Jac.7686%
Josh Allen, Buff.6583%
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, K.C.5480%
Justin Fields, Chi.5480%
Dameon Pierce, Hou.9778%
Joe Mixon, Cin.9667%
Josh Jacobs, L.V.6467%
Jonathan Taylor, Ind.6467%
Christian McCaffrey, Car.8563%
Kyler Murray, Ariz.5360%
Rhamondre Stevenson, N.E.5360%
Austin Ekeler, LAC8450%
Jamaal Williams, Det.11545%
Najee Harris, Pitt.5240%
Leonard Fournette, T.B.11436%
James Robinson, Jac.6233%

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Question 3

Who is the handcuff for Derrick Henry? Also, who are the better RB handcuffs for the remaining season?

Robert Kurek (Blacksburg, VA)

I would expect them to use multiple backs. Dontrell Hilliard definitely would be part of that. He’s been playing some on passing downs, and he was part of the Henry replacement plan last year. But possibly rookie Hassan Haskins would get more carries. When Henry got hurt last year, they used a combination of D’Onta Foreman and Hilliard. Hilliard ran for 131 yards at New England and had four other games with 45-57 rushing yards, but Foreman tended to be their main runner. Haskins is a larger Foreman-type back, but I don’t know if he’s ready for that kind of workload.

If I were looking to add a lottery-ticket backup running back right now, I would be considering (in no particular order) Samaje Perine, Jaylen Warren, Zamir White, JaMycal Hasty, Sony Michel, DeeJay Dallas, Kenneth Gainwell, Alexander Mattison, Rachaad White, and Eno Benjamin.

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Question 4

In a 10-team standard league. Have Pierce, Ekeler, and Fournette, with Higgins and Lockett as my WRs. Would you trade Fournette for Gabe Davis straight up? I'm leaning yes since I already have 2 good RBs and could use another WR. Gabe has already had his bye as well and I'm 2-5 and need wins. Thoughts?

Matt Funke (Olathe, KS)

I would unload Fournette, and I would do it quickly. The opportunity might not be there next week. He opened the season by running for 127 yards at Dallas, but that offense nowadays looks broken, and I don’t think it’s getting up off the canvas. Fournette has averaged better than 3.0 per carry in only one of his last six games. The offensive line is terrible, and maybe he’s not quite the back he’s been. In three of their last four games, they’ve downgraded his playing time, using him and Rachaad White in a 60-40 playing time split.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Bucs in a couple of weeks decide to plug White into the starting lineup, looking for a spark. Compare that to Gabe Davis, who’s one of the big guns in an offense that’s tearing up the league. I can’t envision a scenario where the Bills in a few weeks decide they’re going to promote Khalil Shakir ahead of him.

The one flicker of hope for the Bucs is that they still look like a shoo-in to win their division. Falcons, Panthers, Saints – there really isn’t anyone else. So the Bucs can quietly limp along, hoping to get everyone healthy and peaking for the playoffs. They’ll be the division champ with the worst record, so they’ll be playing a home playoff game against the best wild card – likely the Cowboys. They won at Dallas in Week 1.

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Question 5

I've got four Cowboys on Week 9 byes. Looking ahead can you throw out a couple of kickers and defenses with favorable week 9 matchups who might be available?

John Ruppe (Fort Myers, FL)

There are six teams on byes, so the pickings are pretty slim. For defenses, I’d be looking at Bengals (vs. Carolina), Vikings (at Washington) and Dolphins (at Chicago). Hopefully one of those three is available. At kicker, it seems like it’s easier to find decent options. Cairo Santos (vs. Miami) and Jason Myers (at Arizona) are having great years and might be available. Maybe Nick Folk (vs. Indianapolis). I think I could live with Riley Patterson (vs. Las Vegas).

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Question 6

Just got sent a trade. Mark Andrews for Justin Herbert. I sit 4-3. I just picked up Deshaun Watson. My starting roster is as follows: QB -- Herbert, Watson, WR -- Hopkins, Meyers, Lazard, Mike Williams. RB - Swift, Stevenson, Montgomery, Pacheco TE - Hockenson. Should I do this trade?

Chris Clay (Santa Monica, CA)

For ballpark purposes, I have Herbert at about 2 points per week better than Watson. I have Andrews at 5 points per week better than Hockenson. The numbers say the Watson-Andrews combo will be better than Herbert-Hockenson, and it really isn’t close. But Watson isn’t going to be back and up to speed for a while. So if you’re moving Herbert, it would involving juggling patchwork quarterbacks for a few weeks – guys like Sam Ehlinger, Andy Dalton and Daniel Jones. I also wonder how long it will take Watson to get up to speed. He hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 2020, and I think it will be difficult for him to contend with the distractions of angry fans and protesters and media questions every week. And there could be some issues as the Browns figure out how to fit him into their offense. They’ve been a power-running team with multiple tight ends, but he’s been at his best working out of the shotgun in spread formations. He looked pretty awful in his brief preseason appearance at Jacksonville.

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Question 7

In 20 years I’ve never made a trade, so I don’t want to mess this up. I’m in dire need of a WR, as my best options are Diontae Johnson, Thielen, Drake and Bateman. But I also have Kelce. I’m loaded at RB: Taylor, Henry and Stevenson. Another team needs a RB, but is loaded at WR: Chase, Waddle, Kupp, and Olave. Should I trade a RB for one of his WRs?

Matt Walker (Waynesboro, MS)

Sounds good to me. If we’re talking about moving Taylor or Henry, then it will need to be for somebody really good – Chase or Kupp. If those guys are off the board, with a deal for Waddle or Olave, then I would think it would be for Stevenson. Stevenson is a good player (he maybe outproduce one of your other backs) but he comes with that risk that the Patriot could slide back into using him and Damien Harris as a one-two punch.

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