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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 July 5, 2023

Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. Is Jameson Williams worth the weight? Free agent running backs. Conservative grades on rookies. Trading away Joe Burrow. And more.

Question 1

Looking at PPR points for wideouts, Jameson Williams caught my eye from a points per game perspective. Assuming he plays all remaining games, it looks like you have him as a top 12 wide out upon return from suspension. Am I interpreting this correctly? Definitely a guy I have my eye on as I feel he will be a high-caliber player available for a discount and probably wouldn’t start him anyways until bye weeks start coming. His expected points on the season (183.7) seems like a strong endorsement from your team.

Kyle Kintner (Carlsbad, CA)

I like Jameson Williams, but not that much. I’ve got him at about 4 catches for 58 yards per game after he returns, and with a 22 percent touchdown share (as in, he’ll catch 1 of every 4-5 touchdowns that the Lions throw). That would slot him about 28th among wide receivers for the final two thirds of the season.

Those numbers are not, of course, in agreement with the 183.7 total points you mention. If we multiply 12.6 PPR points by 11 expected games, the total would be about 139 points, which is 44 points short of that total. What’s happening here is that I’ve added in some cheat points behind the curtain to move Williams up the draft board. If we work solely off a total of 139 points, Williams would rank only about 60th among wide receivers, not even getting picked in many leagues. Formats vary, but in general I think Williams merits being stashed away for the first six weeks – looks like a receiver who could help teams in those final 11 games.

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Question 2

First of all, congrats on the Josh Jacobs stand last year. I can remember you saying last year on the podcast..."I guess this will be the hill I die on", referring to you having Jacobs ranked way higher than anyone else. Now to my question … You always seem to have rookies ranked really low compared to best ball ADP drafts this time of year. Then a couple weeks into the season, after usage is apparent, upgrade some of them significantly on the weekly redrafter. I understand the approach, but if you had to pick a rookie with the highest upside right now, who would it be? (Oh, and one other thing... who's this year's Josh Jacobs?)

Chris Vukich (New Brighton, PA)

In the past 10 years, 28 rookie receivers have finished with top-30 numbers (using PPR scoring), including 3-4 in each of the past four seasons. But I don’t think that’s happening this year. I think it’s a down year at that position. Jaxon Smith-Njigba looks pretty solid (I consider him to be the No. 1, by a lot), but he’s competing for touches with two other big-time receivers. Things can change in a hurry, of course. Maybe Jordan Addison or Zay Flowers is better than I’m expecting. Jalin Hyatt had that game with 5 TDs against Alabama. Maybe Jayden Reed or Marvin Mims develops faster than anyone is expecting. But I would be comfortable going into a draft with no rookie wide receivers in my top 40 at the position.

I would expect one or two rookie tight ends to finish with top-20 numbers. Maybe even three. I think the Bills drafted Dalton Kincaid with the intention of him operating more like a slot receiver. If he’s as anywhere near as good as what they thought he was when they drafted him, he’ll be one of those guys. And Sam LaPorta, if OTA reports are to be believed, is a significantly better pass catcher than anybody the Lions had at tight end at the end of last year; it makes sense to draft him in the teens to control his rights for the first month of the season,. And Michael Mayer and Luke Musgrave are also draftable, I think. Matt LaFleur was talking up Musgrave at Green Bay’s OTA. One of Green Bay’s defensive players (apologies, I don’t remember the name) was saying he thought Musgrave was going to be really good; I thought that was interesting, with him not mentioning Tucker Kraft (the tight end they selected a round later).

With the running backs, Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs were among the top dozen picks. Nobody will be stealing them in the middle rounds – in typical fantasy drafts, they’ll be draft with the expectation of them being starters. More interesting, I think, are the 15 running backs drafted in the final five rounds. I would think a couple of them will make an impact at some point. I expect Alvin Kamara will be suspended for six games, creating a nice opportunity for Kendre Miller to compete with Jamaal Williams. Devon Archane is small (5-9, 188) but has elite speed; he ran a 4.32 at the combine. With the Dolphins being a step ahead of most teams in terms of drawing up plays, I will be interested to see what they’re able to do with him. Similarly, Deuce Vaughn is tiny, but let’s see what the Cowboys are doing with him. All along I have been assuming Dallas would add another back before camp (maybe Ezekiel Elliott) but it hasn’t happened yet. DeWayne McBride, Chris Rodriguez, Chase Brown, Israel Abanikanda, Roschon Johnson; you throw enough of those darts at the board, and one of them will hit.

And I have interest in two rookie quarterbacks. Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson make sense about 20 quarterbacks into a draft, I think. Young is more polished and knowledgeable, while Richardson’s rushing ability might allow him to finish with better numbers for fantasy purposes.

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Question 3

Ian, 12 team Dynasty Superflex league received an offer of Fields, DJ Moore & Dalvin Cook in exchange for my Burrow, Goff & Kittle. We're 9 rounds down with 13 to go. Am I crazy to even consider this offer? Thanks for your attention and the tireless work you put into something that's become your passion and an invaluable help to all of your loyal followers and subscribers.

Don McCown (Port Washington, WI)

You would be giving away Burrow, and not only for 2023, but for all the other great seasons that are coming up. He might be the best quarterback short of Mahomes for the decade. In exchange, you would be taking on Fields, who was able to put up big numbers at times last year, but he did so via the running quarterback loophole in the scoring system. At this point, it’s unknown if Fields will develop enough that he’ll still be a starter on opening day in 2025. And if he’s running around and taking sacks, he might have problems staying healthy. He’s had multiple injuries in each of the last two years, while Burrow has started every game. (I’m also not crazy about giving away Goff; with this being a Superflex league, he’ll be starting for you every week this year.)

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Question 4

I don’t have to make the decision for a couple months, but I’m already weighing keeping Christian Watson or Mattison. Our TD-heavy scoring system favors touchdowns rushing (worth 10 points) over receiving (6). Points double for long TDs. I know you’re down on Mattison, but he does better in the TD-only rankings than in other scoring systems in the magazine.

Eric Pryne (Vashon, WA)

This whole “let’s cut Dalvin Cook and go with Mattison” deal is a crazy, in my opinion. I don’t think Mattison is a starting running back, as evidenced by him averaging over a half yard less than Cook in each of the last three years. I don’t think Mattison is fast enough or good enough. He had a couple of decent games filling in against bad defenses, but I think it’s a move the Vikings will regret. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Vikings at some point have to work in one of their young backs. Ty Chandler and DeWayne McBride won’t be drafted in typical leagues, but one of them could wind up starting ahead of Mattison late in the year. Watson, on the other hand, showed signs of being an elite receiver during the second half of last season. Typically in these kinds of situations, might preference is to go with the better player. That’s definitely Watson. At the same time, your league is set up to make running backs the premium players. That may leave you in the uncomfortable position of having to hold your nose and keep Mattison.

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Question 5

Which RB do you think will sign with a team first? Any rumors out there or OC relationships with these guys? Cook, Fournette, Hunt. I know Bienemy worked with Hunt and would know the system, but are there any rumors or coaching relationships with these guys that make sense? It kind of baffles me that no one appears interested in a 28-year-old Fournette.

Chris Vukich (New Brighton, PA)

Ezekiel Elliott not even mentioned. That’s cold. He’s 27 for a few more weeks. I could see him re-signing with Dallas. The Cowboys, I’m thinking, will be signing somebody. They’ve got Tony Pollard, but he’s more of a weapon than a heavy-duty back. He’s never carried the ball 200 times in a season (he never ran for even 600 yards at Memphis). Mike McCarthy fired Kellen Moore because he wants to rely more on the run, but they’re pretty lean at the position. Other options include Ronald Jones, Malik Davis, Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn is the 5-foot-5 back out of Kansas State that they selected in the sixth round.

Skip Peete was Elliott’s running back coach the last three years, and he’s with the Bucs now. He said a few months back that he expects Elliott will sign when he’s willing to accept that he’s now a backup rather than a starter. That line of reasoning applies to all of these backs, I think. All have had seasons with over 1,500 total yards; they all have a sense of what they think they’re worth. But with the running back market having cratered, I don’t think teams will be breaking the bank for these guys. So these veterans are left wondering whether they should accept lesser deals. (And with most of these guys having already made good money, they may be pondering whether it’s worth playing at all.)

Cook probably has the most talent of any of these free agents. I think he’ll be the first to sign. Other teams that could be in the market for a running back include the Ravens, Browns, Chargers, Jets and Bucs.

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Question 6

I’ve joined an existing dynasty league where the Def and Kicking points are combined into one position (basic D and K points) Last year in this league NE, SF and Dal all had over 300 points. Most of these positions are scoring in the mid 200s. I’ve recently picked up Detroit thinking they might do well. I was wondering what other lower-tiered teams this year might be able to do well in this format?

Monte McDonald (Las Vegas, NV)

It's not something I’ve ever thought about, but we do have projections for kickers and projections for defenses. We can merge those two together to create a 1 thru 32 list. I used 6 points for touchdowns (including special teams), 2 for takeaways and 1 for sacks. Skimming down the list, the first team of note I see would be the Falcons at 9th. I really like Younghoe Koo this year. He’s no longer playing in his No. 7 jersey (he gave that number to Bijan Robinson) but I think he’s going to bag a lot of points, finishing as a top-5 kicker. And they’ve pumped a lot of resources into that defense, trying to get it going.

COMBINED KICKER-DEFENSE PROJECTIONS
TeamPKFumIntSackTDPoints
Dallas12711.016.0473.8250.7
Philadelphia12411.015.5553.1250.2
Baltimore14011.013.0452.7249.2
San Francisco12910.016.0483.2247.6
Kansas City12810.513.5513.2246.8
Buffalo13410.015.5423.2246.4
Pittsburgh1319.015.0462.4239.2
New England12010.515.5453.5237.9
Atlanta1339.512.0393.2233.9
Seattle1309.013.0432.5231.8
Las Vegas1378.512.2372.4229.7
LA Chargers1319.113.0382.3227.0
Detroit1288.711.1432.8226.7
Miami11911.013.3412.8225.6
Jacksonville1279.012.5392.7225.0
NY Jets1209.514.0432.5225.0
Cincinnati1299.012.0382.0221.3
Denver11710.013.5422.5221.1
New Orleans11310.010.5473.0218.6
NY Giants11610.511.0422.3215.5
Minnesota1188.813.4372.2213.0
Carolina1238.811.0352.3210.9
Cleveland1109.510.0443.0210.4
Green Bay1119.513.0412.4210.3
Houston1129.212.8392.3209.1
Washington1069.510.0452.6205.6
LA Rams1138.712.5361.8202.1
Indianapolis10710.010.0412.2201.4
Chicago1088.512.7292.1192.0
Tennessee1048.213.0351.7191.1
Tampa Bay1048.79.0382.0189.1
Arizona1028.09.5301.6176.5

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