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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 August 30, 2023

Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: backup running backs to target. The up-and-coming Rodgers-Wilson combo. Is Javonte Williams back? Stacking quarterbacks and receivers from the same team. And more.

Question 1

I have been successfully using your information since the days when you only had the pre-season magazine! My annual question is what RBs to take a flyer on that could become top 15 due to a key injury?

Randy Newland (Sunrise, FL)

If we’re drawing up a list of backup running backs with the potential to be very good, Jaylen Warren would be my top guy. Najee Harris has been pretty durable, but should he break down, I think Warren would put up top-10 number. Others I’d be looking at: Tank Bigsby, Zach Charbonnet, Elijah Mitchell, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chuba Hubbard, Zamir White. Those would be the seven, I think, where you’re drafting them to squat on the potential of an injury. Jerome Ford, Joshua Kelley and Ty Chandler may wind up in that group.

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Question 2

We get two keepers. I've got Kelce, who seems like a no-brainer. CeeDee Lamb, Garrett Wilson, Justin Herbert, Isaiah Pacheco are my other choices. I think it's down to Lamb and Herbert. Really like Lamb's talent, but WR seems deeper than QB. Thoughts?

MARK ANDREWS (Middleton, WI)

I guess it’s Lamb, but I get the feeling you might get to the middle of September and wonder why you didn’t keep Wilson. He’s really talented, and it looks like he and Aaron Rodgers are really hitting it off. Lamb is a good receiver, but he’s never quite moved up into that elite level – he’s never been a great scorer. With Rodgers, on the other hand, he’s got a strong track of settling in on a favorite pass catcher and getting that player the ball, especially in the red zone.

In Rodgers’ 15 seasons in Green Bay, he averaged 31.6 TD passes, with his top touchdown scorers in those seasons averaging 10.2 TDs. I don’t think there’s any doubt Wilson is going to be that top scorer this year. If we’re looking solely at touchdowns, I will go Wilson over Lamb. In the chart below, you’re not seeing the player’s official TD totals; you’re seeing only the TD catches they caught from Rodgers (Christian Watson last year, for example, also ran for 2 TDs and caught a touchdown pass thrown by Jordan Love.)

RODGERS' LEADING TD CATCHERS
YearTDPPlayerTD
200828Greg Jennings9
200930Donald Driver6
201028Greg Jennings11
201145Jordy Nelson12
201239James Jones14
201317Jordy Nelson7
201438Jordy Nelson13
201531J.Jones/Rodgers8
201640Jordy Nelson14
201716Jordy Nelson6
201825Davante Adams13
201926Adams/Williams5
202048Davante Adams18
202137Davante Adams11
202226Lazard/Watson6

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Question 3

I noticed in the stat projections the numbers change for from week to week. Thinking you've seen something in the team/player that changed your data? Hence we should wait as long as possible to see the most likely numbers? Also, what is the difference between Season Long #'s and 17 games #'s?

Rich Hornstein (Huntington Beach, CA)

There are three common ways player projections change. Once per week, I audit and adjust the team numbers. (If I change an offense from 37 to 38 touchdowns, for example, all of the players on that offense would get some portion of that touchdown). More commonly, I’m looking at all of the players from an offense as a set. Last week, for example, I think I had Zonovan Knight accounting for 3 percent of the Jets’ rushing production; when the released him, those yards and touchdowns had to re-allocated to other players. I’m making those kind of adjustments every day on many teams. And finally, I like to comb over the list regularly, nudging guys up or down a few spots based on my own gut preferences.

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Question 4

What are your thoughts on Javonte Williams? Here’s a guy who was drafted as a mid 4th-round pick as a rookie, a mid-2nd last year, and now he’s available in the 7th this year. I understand he’s coming off a serious injury, but he’s looked pretty similar to his old self so far in the preseason. History tells us to avoid these types of players, but he looks to me like he could be one of those outliers, especially given how great of a prospect he was. In a year where most of us aren’t generally too high on the RB’s, isn’t this exactly the type of guy we should be taking chances on at his ADP?

Robert Schule (Garden City, NY)

I’m not confident he’s back to where we was pre-injury. I saw a few routine carries in the preseason (3 carries for 12 yards). I expect he’ll be splitting time with Samaje Perine, who may be better than Williams right now in terms of inside power running, pass catching and as a blocker. I understand I’m in the minority on this, but I don’t see a lot of difference between Williams and Perine. I see Williams as a good option to throw out early in an auction, making sure somebody else pays a nice chunk of change for him.

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Question 5

Should QB-WR stacks be avoided or targeted, or does it not matter? I've been doing a lot of mock drafts and end up with the Burrow-Higgins duo a lot. I know this is risky, but it can increase your team's ceiling (like the Mahomes-Hill duo a couple of years back).

Tom Fini (Manhasset, NY)

Nothing wrong with taking good players. If you can draft a top-3 quarterback and a top-3 receiver, I’m all for it. But all things being equal, my preference is to diversify. I think it gives you a better chance of getting value out of your stats. If Higgins goes for 200 yards and 3 TDs, for example, your team will probably win that week without Burrow passing for 350 yards and 5 TDs. When you select players from different teams, it improves your odds of spreading out the big games (and the clunkers). It also mitigates the risk of a quarterback injury undermining you at two positions. But it’s not something I feel strongly about. I would be leery of selecting lower-rated players to avoid winding up with combos.

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Question 6

Thanks for your insights, Ian. I'd appreciate your insights to a carryover dilemma. I see your rankings have Montgomery higher than other publications. If he slides into the role Williams had last year I can see it, but Gibbs has been getting a lot of hype and he was their first-round pick. I have to decide between Monty and Etienne for one of my carryovers. I can carry over Etienne four more years while Monty has two more years.

David Hogshire (Plymouth, MN)

Most feel that Gibbs will be Detroit’s most productive running back. I’m aware of that. I like Montgomery more. He’s bigger and more experienced. They run the ball a ton around the goal line, and I think he’ll be getting most of those touches. For your personal decision, you’re looking not only at 2023 but also future years. Etienne is 2 years younger and plays for an offense that seems to have more staying power. The Jaguars have their franchise quarterback in place, while the Lions likely will lose offensive coordinator Ben Johnson in the offseason.

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Question 7

To say the Broncos offense was a disappointment last year is a huge understatement. I invested 2 relatively early picks on Williams and Jeudy, and my team went down right along with them. How much do you see that offense improving this year with Sean Payton?

Sarah Clark (Sherman Oaks, CA)

Jarrett Stidham looked pretty good in that last preseason game. I wonder at this point if he’s as good (or better) than Russell Wilson? If the offense is sputtering or they’re not winning games, I suppose there’s a chance we’ll see Stidham. In general, looks like the 3rd-place team in the AFC West to me. They’re not hanging with Kansas City or Los Angeles, I think. But I can’t imagine they’ll be anywhere near as bad as they were last year, when they scored only 29 touchdowns. (That offense scored 36 touchdowns in 2021.) The Broncos haven’t placed Jeudy (hamstring) on injured reserve, so apparently they believe he’s going to return before Week 5.

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Question 8

If you were walking into a Dynasty draft today, who would be the top 10-15 or so rookies that you would target? Just best available player ... all positions.

Damon Duhon (Baton Rouge, LA)

Bijan and Gibbs would be the top two picks in most drafts, I think, with the hope they’ll be catching plenty of passes out of the backfield. Then it tails off. I have some interest in Anthony Richardson, with the potential he turns into a dual-threat quarterback. With the style of play, I could see him putting up top-10 numbers in 2024 or 2025. If we’re playing Superflex, then I guess he might be my No. 2 overall player. I like three of the rookie tight ends (Kincaid, LaPorta, Musgrave) but not a lot of difference between them. I don’t think it’s a great year for wide receivers. I would go with Smith-Njigba as my top choice, probably with Zay Flowers as my second. I really liked the look of Rashee Rice in that preseason game down in Arizona; he could be about a year away from becoming Kansas City’s best wide receiver. But it would be a gutsy move to actually pick Rice before one of those other wide receivers chosen in the first round (Johnston, Addison).

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Question 9

Pulled the No. 1 overall pick. Yeah me? Am I nuts for thinking about taking Chase over Jefferson? Bengals have a much better offense, but the Vikings should funnel most of the passing through Jefferson and Hockenson while the Bengals have Higgins, Boyd, I.Smith and also Mixon.

John Ruppe (Fort Myers, FL)

If we set Chase and Jefferson to the side, I’m not sure that Cincinnati’s remaining pass catchers are better than Minnesota’s. Certainly, Hockenson will be a lot more productive than Irv Smith. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd should be more productive than Jordan Addison and K.J. Osborn, but not necessarily by a bunch. The Vikings are planning to use Alexander Mattison as a pass catcher, so he might be pretty comparable in that regard to Mixon. Minnesota just picked up Myles Gaskin, who was an effective pass catcher at time for the Dolphins.

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Question 10

How long should I keep Tua’s name out of my mouth on draft day?

Robert Cummings (Los Angeles, CA)

I’m not sure what was more bizarre: Ryan Clark’s original comments, in which he said that Tagovailoa didn’t work out enough and had a body that reminded him of the topless dancers at the Onyx strip club in Atlanta (nice product placement)? Or that Clark would then offer up a non-apology walk-back, suggesting his words were somehow misconstrued. “If I've offended you Tua … I truly apologize,” Clark posted on social media. Just weird.

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Question 11

How does playing a good defense affect a kicker? On one hand, the offense should score less but on the other hand maybe that results in more field goals.

Eric Scolnick (Redmond, WA)

Always fun to chase down these kind of theories. In this case, it doesn’t pass the big-picture test. Below see the 20 best defenses of the last five years. All but one of them were above-average against kickers – 70 percent allowed fewer than 100 kicking points.

GOOD DEFENSES VS. KICKERS
YearTeamPointsPK
2019New England22575
2019Buffalo25969
2022San Francisco27775
2019Baltimore282102
2018Chicago28397
2018Baltimore28787
2021Buffalo28989
2020LA Rams29698
2019Chicago29896
2020Baltimore30373
2019Minnesota303113
2021New England30393
2019Pittsburgh303105
2018Tennessee303109
2022Buffalo30496
2019Kansas City30886
2019San Francisco31080
2020Pittsburgh31292
2019Green Bay313109
2022Baltimore315121

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Question 12

Will you be updating the Offensive Line rankings? I find these rather useful in the later rounds of drafting.

Dan McManus (Wilmington, NC)

Andy posted updated offensive line rankings on August 25. Team grades can be seen in that article, and he’s got his grid with his 160 projected starters on the Facebook page.

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Question 13

Would you keep Saquon Barkley in 2nd round or Khalil Herbert in 15th round?

Pete Kelly (Evergreen Park, IL)

There’s no point in protecting Barkley. You’ll probably be able to draft him in the second round, if you want to go that route. Herbert has a much better chance of outperforming his draft position.

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Question 14

Asking about your stats projections and should we wait until right before Week 1 to use this data to get the best projections for drafts and season-long over-under wagers? It was very helpful to me last year as you had Jacobs much higher and Winston much lower than their offered number lines. I see your numbers adjusting week to week on people like Riddler, Love, etc.

Rich Hornstein (Huntington Beach, CA)

There’s a decent amount of patching and adjusting going on right now (with teams having trimmed rosters down to 53 on Tuesday). But I would think that the projections that go out tomorrow will be pretty close to final.

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Question 15

Our league has unlimited trading, but this year there will be two owners with two teams each. It would seem to be an unfair advantage for those two owners. How do some other leagues do trades and what are your thoughts? I love your mailbag, been reading it for years.

Bruce James (Lakeside, CA)

It’s asking for trouble. I would think owners would vote in favor of a rule preventing two teams with the same owner from trading with each other.

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