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Fantasy Football Index publisher Ian Allan answers your questions about fantasy football. Click here to submit a question.

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Mailbag for December 8, 2022

Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: stash pickups for 2023. Defenses that could shine in Week 16. Are divisional games lower scoring? Bye week replacements. And more.

Question 1

For those of us in keeper leagues, who are some young players (or current backups) you see taking a big jump next year?

Jeff Hornstein (Miami, FL)

Khalil Shakir might be ready to become the third receiver for the Bills. And I could see Jerome Ford (pictured) moving up to No. 2 among running backs in Cleveland; he looked good in the preseason, and I’ve seen him rip off a couple of nice kickoff returns. Maybe Ty Chandler of the Vikings; he looked good in the preseason. Chigo Okonkwo keeps making athletic catches for the Titans; I think he should be rostered as a second or third tight end in a 12-team league. Those are a few that come to mind for me. I would be interested to see what names readers came up with.

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Question 2

How much does an intra-divisional clash tend to depress scoring and offensive production in general as opposed to an interconference tilt? The combined low-output of Monday's Saints-Bucs game would seem to be the latest example of two teams that play each other twice a season and know how to scheme against one another. Heaven help the foes!

Eric Degerman (Richland, WA)

I appreciate the University of Washington shootout, old friend (note: Eric was the general manager of the Ravenna Raiders, who won the scoring title in my first fantasy league). In regards to your question, games outside the division tend to be a little higher scoring. I have the numbers for the 2010-20 seasons in front of me. I see about a point less per game for games against divisional opponents – 22.2 per team, versus 23.2 in other games. That might be enough to tilt the scales when weighing two similar options.

But at the same time, we’re not talking about a huge or consistent difference. Below see the 25 games in the last five years that featured 20 or fewer total points of scoring. Only 10 of those games were between divisional opponents. That’s only slightly more than what you would expect (9.3 games) given the ratio of games inside and outside the division.

I don’t think this little 4 percent quirk on the margins is going to help you win your league.

GAMES WITH 20 OR FEWER POINTS (since 2018)
YearWinner / OpponentScore
2018Tennessee at Jacksonville9-6
2018Miami vs. NY Jets13-6
2018Washington at Tampa Bay16-3
2018Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis6-0
2018Detroit at Arizona17-3
2018Tennessee at NY Giants17-0
2019Green Bay at Chicago10-3
2019New Orleans at Jacksonville13-6
2019Denver vs. Tennessee16-0
2019San Francisco at Washington9-0
2019NY Jets at Buffalo13-6
2020Cleveland vs. Houston10-7
2020Carolina vs. Detroit20-0
2021Kansas City vs. Green Bay13-7
2021Jacksonville vs. Buffalo9-6
2021Green Bay vs. Seattle17-0
2021NY Giants vs. Philadelphia13-7
2021Tennessee vs. Jacksonville20-0
2021New Orleans at Tampa Bay9-0
2022Houston at Jacksonville13-6
2022Washington at Chicago12-7
2022Baltimore vs. Carolina13-3
2022New England vs. NY Jets10-3
2022San Francisco vs. New Orleans13-0
2022Baltimore vs. Denver10-9

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Question 3

I am in a loser goes home' scenario this weekend with a good portion of my team on bye (Taylor, Olave, C.Watson, Pittman, Kmet). It is a standard league, and I have two big decisions. At QB, I have Cousins and Geno. And at WR, I can pick up Zay Jones (Lawrence injury) or DJ Chark. Your suggestions?

Tim Schadelbauer (Farmingville, NY)

I would start Geno Smith. He’s definitely the more productive runner; he’s averaged 23 rushing yards in his last 10 games – it’s like he’s getting a 2-point head start in fantasy leagues. And Smith has been a really consistent passer, with at least 2 TD passes in nine of his last nine games. With Kenneth Walker (ankle) looking iffy at best, I think the Seahawks will have to rely more this week on the pass. Cousins also looks fine, of course, in what could be a higher-scoring game in Detroit. And maybe some weather issues crop up in Seattle. But to me, it’s not much of a decision. With the wide receivers, I will go with Zay Jones (if Lawrence is reasonably healthy). Jones has been pretty reliable, and I think the Jaguars will wind up passing a bunch against a Tennessee defense that’s almost impossible to run against. With DJ Chark, he had a good game last week, but the Lions have a bunch of other guys – Josh Reynolds or Kalif Raymond might be their 2nd-best receiver, and the offensive coordinator says Jameson Williams will play more this week.

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Question 4

I have secured a playoff spot a week early thanks to Fantasy Index! Are there any waiver pickups I should be looking at now, before week 14, to try to get an advantage for my playoff game in week 15?

David Jung (San Francisco, CA)

Kansas City is at Houston that week making me think Isiah Pacheco will be ranked a lot higher than usual among running backs. If you’re looking for a defense, you could think about the Saints (at home against a rookie quarterback making his first start), or perhaps the Packers (home against the Rams on Monday night). If you were stuck at kicker, perhaps Randy Bullock, playing at SoFi against the Chargers.

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Question 5

Ian, thanks to you and team I have already secured a playoff bye. Looking to week 16, what are the top 10 defenses you are seeing?

Grant Markgraf (Elmhurst, IL)

Below you can see the numbers generated when you average what defenses have done so far and blend with what offenses have done. The Chargers and Bills come out on top, but these are just numbers. The Chargers have really been struggling, while the Bills just lost Von Miller for the season. And they’ll be playing against Colts and Bears, who were allowing a lot more sacks early in the season than they’re allowing now. In the top 10, I notice Denver, playing against a Rams offense that appears to be imploding. I see Baltimore, playing against a rookie quarterback making his second start. Tennessee is playing the lowly Texans.

WEEK 16 PERFORMANCE NUMBERS (Defenses)
DefenseOppSackIntFumPoints
LA Chargersat Ind.2.7.91.796.1
Buffaloat Chi.2.9.96.566.0
DallasPhil.3.3.54.755.8
New Englandat Cle.2.7.83.675.7
Denverat LAR3.0.88.465.7
BaltimoreAtl.2.6.80.685.6
San FranciscoWas.2.9.92.405.6
TennesseeHou.2.81.00.385.5
MinnesotaNYG2.8.71.635.5
Philadelphiaat Dall.2.41.04.385.2
Kansas CitySea.2.8.54.675.2
Seattleat K.C.2.1.79.755.2
NY JetsJac.2.5.75.505.0
Tampa Bayat Ari.2.9.67.334.9
ClevelandN.E.2.4.63.584.8
LA RamsDen.2.7.54.464.7
Cincinnatiat N.O.1.9.79.604.7
Washingtonat S.F.2.3.56.604.6
Detroitat Car.2.0.79.504.6
Houstonat Ten.2.5.54.504.5
NY Giantsat Min.2.3.54.584.5
Jacksonvilleat NYJ1.9.79.504.5
New OrleansCin.2.8.45.404.5
ChicagoBuff.1.7.80.614.5
MiamiG.B.2.1.64.524.4
Green Bayat Mia.2.0.80.404.4
IndianapolisLAC2.4.48.524.4
PittsburghL.V.1.9.92.254.3
Atlantaat Balt.1.8.76.404.1
Las Vegasat Pitt.2.2.58.384.1
CarolinaDet.1.8.63.464.0
ArizonaT.B.1.7.46.583.8

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Question 6

I am in a PPR league and need to start two of the following three. Joe Mixon, Tyler Lockett or Garrett Wilson. My playoff life is on the line.

Joe Semro (Cary, IL)

I don’t have anything new on these guys. For now, I have slot them Mixon-Lockett-Wilson, with Mixon the clear No. 1.

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