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


Mailbag for August 23, 2023

Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: Darren Waller screaming up the draft board. Best-ball drafting strategies. Setting up supply-demand levels in the custom scoring. Keeper decisions. And more.

Question 1

Which TE will have a better PPR season, Darren Waller or Evan Engram? Each one seems like a high-risk, high-reward option, and both seem like they are going for more auction dollars than they might be worth.

Adam Holtz (Rochester, MN)

In his final eight games last year, Engram was the most productive tight end short of Travis Kelce, catching 6 catches for 67 yards, with 4 TDs. I understand that they added Ridley, but he looks like a candidate for top-5 tight end numbers to me.

A couple of weeks back, I would have listed Waller as one of the most overvalued tight ends – a guy I definitely wouldn’t be drafting. But the Carolina game changed my thinking, with Waller catching passes on 4 of the first 7 plays. I have a lot of confidence in Brian Daboll, and looks like he’s going to be posting up Waller for plenty of short catches.

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Question 2

Entering a best-ball league for the first time this year. Please advise a strategy you've used, or any other resources you have found helpful.

Grant Markgraf (Elmhurst, IL)

In that style of format, you can throw darts (taking stabs at guys who might be great or might be nothing) or you can add oars (guys who are definitely going to contribute and are more likely to give you 17 games of production). I’m an oars guy. At quarterback, I usually carry just two, and I want them to be durable, proven guys. That frees up a extra roster spots to use on the other positions. And with running backs, I make an extra effort to draft the backup behind the key starters on my roster. (That is, if I’m drafting Isiah Pachecho and Travis Etienne, I want to nail down those spots by picking up Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Tank Bigsby later on.) It’s an 18-week season, and you’ve got to build a sound, well-rounded roster for the journey.

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Question 3

I have never done an auction but to get the overall rankings for my custom scoring I need to estimate how many are worth more than minimum bid. Can you tell how many you would put above minimum? Each team will have about 6 wr and rb, 2 qb, 2 Def, 2 k. We start 1 qb, 2 wr, 2 rb and a flex. TE is combwith wr.

Randy Newland (Sunrise, FL)

The setup includes the question for each position, “How many will go for more than the minimum?” It’s a little weird, especially if you’ve never done an auction. So let’s think instead in these terms. You’re doing an 18-round draft. How many players at each position will be selected in the first 10 rounds? No kickers or defenses. Using boilerplate rules, I would think in a 10-team league you’d be looking at 16 quarterbacks, 43 running backs and 41 receivers. In a 12-team league, I think the first 10 rounds would including 21 QB, 51 RB and 60 receivers. You could come up with more accurate numbers by looking at your league's draft results from the last few years.

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Question 4

Long-time customer. Is there any chance of putting projected points back in the positional columns?

Randy Newland (Sunrise, FL)

This is a tricky issue. For space considerations, we get into offering either the player’s full name or just the player’s last name, but with the projected stat totals also listed. In the second halves of the drafts I attend, invariably we start getting into situations where some owners don’t know the first names of some of the players – Jones, Brown, Williams, etc. So my guess was that people would want the Cheat Sheet with first and last names. But plenty of people wrote in requesting to see the projected points, and they have been added back into the mix.

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Question 5

In an 8-team PPR keeper league. Start 4wr. Originally my plan was to keep J.Taylor (Rd 8). With the uncertainty around Taylor, would you look to other options? T. Lawrence (Rd 6), Pollard (Rd 11), Burks or Pickens (Rd 10). QB TD are 6points.

William Martin (Winnipeg, MB)

I like the look of Pollard in the 11th round. Even if Taylor were to show up today, I think Pollard would be the guy. He’ll catch a lot more passes than whatever version of Taylor will see.

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Question 6

In a 10-team half-point ppr league that gives passing TDs 6 pts how early to draft a top tier QB?

Karl Scheel (Ingleside, IL)

I don’t have the exact rankings in front of me (you would have to plug in the variables using the custom rankings) but I would think we might see five quarterbacks in the top 10 – Mahomes, Hurts, Burrow, Allen and Herbert.

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Question 7

I’m in a best-ball dynasty league. I can keep 14 guys. Is it worth keeping Ridder? Will he ever outscore Prescott or Watson?

James Costello (Portland, ME)

I would operate under the assumption that Prescott and Watson will both pan out and be top-10 type quarterbacks. They’re you’re guys, and that needs to happen. And that being the case, I would let Ridder go, bringing in another player who’ll hopefully catch 70 balls and 6 TDs. Not super production, but every time that player scores a touchdown or catches 5-6 passes, he’ll be strengthening your lineup. And it’s a long season, with plenty of injuries and byes along the way.

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Question 8

In a 12-team league. Standard scoring ppr, 6 pts passing TD. I have the 10th pick. Should I keep Kelce in the 2nd or L Jackson in the 5th?

Tim Jayroe (Amarillo, TX)

The choice is whether it’s better to get the No. 6 overall player (Kelce) with the 15th pick? Or the 27th overall player (Jackson) with the 58th pick. At first glance, that seems like an easy decision. You gain 31 spots or draft position with Jackson, versus only 9 with Kelce. But draft slots get less valuable as the draft proceeds (think of the Jimmy Johnson draft chart). If the league were made up of 11 Ian Allans, you would gain 39 fantasy points by keeping Kelce, but only 27 points by keeping Jackson. And as I look at the guys I have in the 30s on my board, I expect one of them will make it to that 58th slot. So I’m keeping Kelce.

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Question 9

I have the first pick in a 10-team league. I can't decide between CMC and Ekeler. They could both be great this year.

Brendan May ()

I will be interested to see what the Chargers look like. I think they’ll be working other backs more than they have in the past – some combination of Kelley-Spiller-Dotson. They have to be careful not to overwork Ekeler. And I will guess that he’s not going to be as heavily used catching short passes.

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Question 10

Do I keep Dameon Pierce at pick 45 or Drake London at pick 76?

Kyle Kintner (Carlsbad, CA)

With London, you get 30 extra spots of draft position. If you look at the expected production of London and the running back you would select at 45, it will be substantially more than what you would get from Pierce and the wide receiver you might get at 76.

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Question 11

Can only keep 1 if wanted. $54 Mahomes or $22 Fields. Kind of unorthodox scoring at .5 pts per completion as well. I feel like Mahomes is a no-brainer but respect your opinion.

Zachary Townsend (La Marque, TX)

Mahomes is great, but that’s a lot of money to tie up in a quarterback. Over a quarter of your payroll, I assume. I just finished an auction, where I picked up both Josh Allen ($23) and Justin Herbert ($10) for under 17 percent of my $200 payroll. Those are good buys (in my opinion) but there are some teams in that league that are going with cheap quarterbacks, with the potential to maybe pull it off. Kirk Cousins and Geno Smith both went for $2, freeing up those teams to load up more on other positions. I’m not a big Fields fan, but we’ll see. To see my exact recommended prices on Mahomes and Fields, use the custom rankings. (If you’re awarding a point for every 2 completions, let’s assume that completions average 10 yards and call that another point for every 20 passing yards.)

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Question 12

Thank you for always bringing excellent content! One keeper (I kept CeeDee), pick fourth ... 1 pt for every 2 catches, 1 pt for every 8 carries, 1 pt for every 20 yds rushing/receiving. With the fourth pick, Chubb, Kupp, Pollard, AJ Brown will be there for me. Was thinking Chubb. Can you please rate those four in order who you would take?

Jeffrey Haseley (Sanborn, NY)

I expect you’ll be choosing between Chubb and Kupp. With Chubb, you would need to hope the Browns can get their stuff together (Chubb got a lot worse last year after Watson joined the lineup). With the Rams, you would be investing in an older receiver with an older quarterbacking, hoping they can keep it afloat for the season. If it’s my team, I’d be going with Kupp, knowing there are three running backs that are high on my board that I believe will slip in drafts. I see in the fine print that you’re awarding a point for every 8 carries. Those points can be approximated using the custom scoring. There is no box for carries, but they can be folded into the rushing yards. (Currently, you’re league is awarding 1 point for every 20 rushing yards; if we awesome just over 4 yards per carry, that’s instead 1.6 points for every 20 rushing yards, or using whole numbers, 4 points for every 50 rushing yards.)

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Question 13

I'm in a full PPR league where I can carry over one player in the round I drafted them last year. My choices are Pollard in R6 and Stevenson in R8. Initially I was going to carry over Stevenson until Elliot was signed. Who would you recommend to carry over?

Ivan Jackson (Melbourne, FL)

I would opt to play it safe with Pollard. The Cowboys don’t have much at the running back position, so I think they’re going to be relying on him heavily.

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Question 14

Ian, it's that time of year again where I ask your help in keeping one player. You have been so insightful in the past I hope you can be helpful again this year. Also I find you rankings the best in the business and priced very reasonable. 10 team PPR, start 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE and 2 Flex. Don't know what position I will draft yet but anticipate middle of first round. St Brown (Rd 6), Goedert (7), Kirk (7), Jackson (8), Walker (10), Pickens (11).

John Lesjack (Freedom, PA)

I’d be looking at St. Brown or Walker. I’ve got St. Brown going just outside the top 10 overall, so to pick him up between picks 51-60 would be a solid value. With Walker, you’ve be getting a top-30 player for pick 91-100. Pickens and Jackson also look like good keepers, but I don’t think they can make the overall value.

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Question 15

Does anyone provide auction values for IDP? Does anyone offer a cheat sheet that combines offensive and defensive players? I'm having real difficulty determining how much to spend on RBs and TEs without having any idea how much the defensive players will cost.

Brad Scott (Palm Coast, FL)

We’ve chosen to stay out of that arena. There are a lot of variables involved, and I don’t think there’s a significant number of people who are interested. That said, here we are, and let’s see if we can get you ready for your auction.

When I’m preparing for an auction, I usually start with the assumption that the final 20-30 percent of the players are worth only $1.00. That is, if it’s a 20-round draft, perhaps everybody drafted after the 14th round is worth only $1.00. Will those 14 rounds include any defensive players? Probably not, I’m guessing, and then you could go ahead and use our auction software from there. (For each position, there’s that question, “How many will go for more than $1.00”; answer that by putting in the number at that position who’ll be selected in the first 14 rounds). If going this route, consider using kickers and team defenses as ‘placeholder’ players for the IDP who’ll be picked, insuring you’re finishing with the correct total number of dollars.

I have no idea how you’re scoring your IDP. When trying to gauge whether any of them are worth more than $1.00, considering what you get if you just waited until the late rounds to fill those positions. Then calculate how much more production you would get if you made an effort to go after guys like Maxx Crosby and Nick Bosa. If you compare that to the stat differences at the known positions (QB, RB, WR, TE) it will give you an idea what they’re worth. Finally, if you come to the conclusion that there’s an additional $10-30 that will be spent on IDP, you can adjust the cap level so the overall dollars work out.

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Question 16

I plan on keeping McCaffrey and either Higgins or Mixon. I’ve been offered Diggs and Jacobs for McCaffrey. Do I take the deal?

Nicholas Heuton (Carroll, IA)

You would change one keeper from McCaffrey to Diggs. For the other spot, you switch from picking between Higgins and Mixon to keeping one of Higgins, Mixon and Jacobs. Doesn’t sound like much of an upgrade.

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