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

Mailbag

Mailbag for June 14, 2023

Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. Special Mike Williams edition. What are the plans for Quentin Johnston? Is Kenneth Walker underrated? The perfect schedule for a 10-team league. And more.

Question 1

Dynasty League TD-dependent draft question. From the Chargers, would you draft rookie Quentin Johnston or Mike Williams? Johnston has age and size on his side, whereas Williams will start and IF healthy should be a good red zone target. Unsure how much playing time Johnston will get. Thoughts?

Howie Fishman (Hermosa Beach, CA)

I don’t agree with the premise that Williams is a good receiver around the end zone. According to my numbers, Williams in the last three years have caught 6 of the 21 passes thrown his way, including 4 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion. That’s one of the worst conversion rates in the league. During the same three seasons, the Chargers have gone 16 of 28 when passing to Keenan Allen, with 11 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion. And they’ve gone 19 of 22 when passing to Austin Ekeler in that part of the field, with 7 TDs and a 2-point conversion. Williams has a contract averaging $20 million, so I’m not sure he’ll be with the team in 2024 (I think that’s why they’ve drafted Joshua Palmer and Quentin Johnston the last two years – they’ll be looking to get cheaper at wide receiver as Justin Herbert moves off his rookie contract). At the same time, Johnston to me doesn’t look like a can’t-miss prospect. He’s more of a roll-of-the-dice type guy; maybe he becomes a starter, or maybe he’s a modest afterthought, with the Chargers quietly deciding not to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract after the 2026 season. With the team having Allen, Williams and Palmer, I don’t expect Johnston will get on the field much this year. In a dynasty league, I would take Williams if I felt I might need to put the player on the field in 2023.

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Question 2

I run a pair of keeper leagues (10 teams, we roster 15 during the season, and we keep three going into the next). Because only a third of our roster is intact before we draft, I'm not one who's in favor of worst-to-first, NFL-style season schedules; I say draft well, and we'll have an even-field schedule. The difficulty lies in making that schedule even for everyone. For a 14-game regular season schedule, I give to each team a number based on their previous season's finish (last year's winner gets a 10, worst finish gets a one). And it's pretty darn close to even. Four teams' difficulty is a total of 78, four teams have a difficulty of 76, and two teams a difficulty of 77. I'm reasonably happy with that. But do you know of a "perfect" schedule, one where everyone gets the exact same difficulty?

Paul Desimone (Hayward, CA)

I like a balanced schedule, with every team playing every other team twice. In a 10-team league that means 18 games. There are only 14 weeks in your season. So to fit in those four extra games, four “double-header weeks” are required. We’ll want to spread those out and avoid byes, so probably best to use Weeks 1, 4, 8 and 14. Three of those weeks don’t have byes. For Week 14, only Arizona and Washington aren’t playing, and I think we can live with being a game short for those teams.

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Question 3

I want to call BS. People are insane. I’m seeing Walker no higher that 14th among running backs and as low as RB34. This is insanity. Walker has all the talent and opportunity to be a top 10 RB.They are taking away his job. I'm in a keeper league and have Walker, ETN and Taylor. I'm not worried about Walker, I'm more concerned about Taylor who'll likely lose opportunities to an athletic QB. And I still not sold on Etienne. I may keep Walker and try to trade ETN and WR Lockett or Higgins for 1st pick to claim Bijan Robinson. But will not part with Walker. Why is everyone ranking Taylor so high and Walker so low. They both have someone there to steal opportunities

Cal Hoskison (Houston, TX)

Walker and Taylor are both top-10 running backs on my board. With Taylor, Anthony Richardson no doubt with “steal” (as they say) some of the rushing touchdowns, but he should help loosen up defenses. Consider Jalen Hurts. He might be considered comparable to Richardson as a runner. He averaged 51 rushing yards per week last year, with 13 touchdowns. But he also helped to open up that entire offense. Philadelphia’s running backs last year averaged 103 rushing yards (10th-most in the league), and with 18 rushing touchdowns (3rd-most).

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Question 4

I read this today in regards to Mike Williams and wondered what the explanation for this stat would be? “He had one of the largest splits versus man and zone coverage last season, being targeted on 31.8% of his routes against man coverage (10th) as opposed to 16.6% against zone (78th).”

Martin Michaels (Austin, Texas)

Williams is huge. He’s at his best running vertical routes, using his height against smaller cornerbacks. With his body type (6-4, 220), he’s not as effective on shorter routes that involve quickness and precise route running. And he’s not boxing out defenders in the middle of the field. Better to get him moving. So I would think he’s better when isolated outside in a one-on-one situation. Justin Herbert sees the matchup and goes after it.

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Question 5

The commissioner of our fantasy league has come up with a work around to deal with the Running Back By Committee problem. The concept is that all yards running or receiving and touchdowns by anyone running the ball at least 3 times. This has proved to be a boom or bust when it's been used. What do you think of this as a concept?

Steve Grappo (Seattle)

There are leagues that use a similar approach with quarterbacks – team quarterbacks. I suppose it would make sense for those leagues to also use team running backs (and definitely team kickers). For me, I’m a traditional guy. I prefer to require teams to select individual players. Calculating which ones are most durable and which wones should have the largest workloads becomes part of the game.

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