Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: How will Cooper Kupp's return affect Puka Nacua. Untangling Miami's jumbled backfield. Kareem Hunt's role with the Browns. And more.
I guess it’s time to have a conversation about Puka and Kupp. I’m looking at Kupp and seeing last year’s Keenan Allen, roller coaster of uncertainty. He’s around that same age with that same soft tissue thing, and I don’t think Keenan needed to see a specialist. As a Puka owner, I’d like to see the team give Kupp a LOT of rest. That being said, if/when Kupp returns, I’m thinking it could play out even better than the Chase/Higgins pairing, even coming closer to a Moss/Carter, or Holt/Bruce type of pairing where both guys eat, and eat well. What are your thoughts on the return of Kupp and the effect on Puka?
Robert Cummings (Los Angeles, CA)
Sean McVay says he’s hopeful that Kupp will return in Week 5. Kupp is "ramping up his workload", coach says. I would think that we’re more likely still a few weeks away. (He didn’t say, “barring a setback, Kupp will return” or “I expect Kupp will return”; he he’s “hopeful”.) When they’ve got their ace back, I will be interested to see how things transpire with their other receivers. I would expect Nacua to still be catching some balls, but perhaps as more of a Robert Woods than a Kupp. And Tutu Atwell has played well enough that I expect he’ll be playing more than Van Jefferson, who could be limited to rotating in to run a few deep routes. Atwell caught a couple of long bombs from Stafford last year; he could be their best deep threat.
Wondering how to approach the Miami backfield going forward. I have Mostert rostered already. As of today, both Jeff Wilson and Achane are free agents. It will take a big chunk of $ to land Achane and, despite his incredible day, his size indicates a change of pace back to me. Who has the most value going forward? It is crazy to attempt to roster all three? Or might it become a hard-to-predict, three-headed monster?
Robert Stolz (Raleigh, NC)
I watched the first half of that game today. (Previously, I had seen only highlights.) I was surprised how early they got Achane in the game. He played a lot more than Mostert on the second possession. Achane had 3 more carries in the first half, with 2 TDs, 74 rushing yards and another 23-yard touchdown run called back. He’s there to stay. I would think it will be a one-two punch backfield for the duration. Mostert and Achane are those backs right now. With the kind of pinball numbers the Dolphins are putting up, and with the team more willing to use the run this year, I think they’re both viable. (With Achane’s ability to bust loose for long scores, I don’t think he needs a big workload to be relevant).
At some point, I imagine one of those backs will get nicked up. That’s the nature of the position. At that point, I imagine they’ll plug in either Jeff Wilson or Salvon Ahmed. Wilson and Mostert looked comparable last year; they shared time and signed near-identical one-year contracts in the offseason. Ahmed looks improved (he had a pair of runs over 40 yards in the preseason).
I'm a little confused about your write-up on Cleveland's backfield and the assumption that Kareem Hunt is going to stroll into more of a 50/50 timeshare this week. Based on CLE's game last week that would be a drastic change of plans. In that game, Ford played a vast majority of snaps on early and third downs and also took the only goal line opportunity. Maybe Hunt finds a way to cut into Ford's snap share a little bit more, but to assume this jumps to a true timeshare feels like a pretty big stretch of the imagination unless there was some news I missed. Hunt's contract also appears to be closer to $2 million (with upside incentives to get to the $4 million reported number) which isn't necessarily starter money. Lastly, Hunt showed up on the injury report this week with a couple of ailments (ribs and groin) after playing only 14 snaps in last week’s game - showing he doesn't seem ready for full-time action after all that time away. I'm just not seeing it, what am I missing?
Timothy Lynch (Chicago, IL)
I was surprised how much Hunt played in the Tennessee game, considering he had been with the team less than a week. He got in for some plays on the first series. It was Hunt rather than Ford who got the first carry of the game. Ford had 3 carries for 3 yards in the first half of that game, which had me thinking this going to be more of a committee backfield, rather than one guy as the starter with a backup getting a few touches. As you point out, Hunt didn’t practice on Wednesday. We’ll have to see where he’s at physically. Ford is also apparently dinged up; he was limited in practice. When they’re both healthy, I’m not confident Ford will be a heavily used, featured-type back. As Hunt knocks of the rust, he could easily be the better of those two backs.
In a FFPC dynasty league, I am offered Chase and a 4th-round pick in next year's draft for McCaffrey and Nacua. My other RBs are Ekeler, Pacheco, Moss, Allgeier and Hunt. My top 3 WR now are Hill, Lockett and M Williams, all older guys.
Scott Behiel (Angels Camp, CA)
I’d be thinking about it. A 23-year-old wide receiver has a lot more elite ball left than a 27-year-old running back. But McCaffrey is playing better right now.
We are a TD-only league enjoying our 36th season. We also give bonus points for certain benchmarks (3 points each for 300 yards passing, 100 yards rushing, or 100 yards receiving). With the NFL becoming more and more of a passing league, and more teams going with a RBBC approach and bell cow RBs becoming a dying breed, we have discussed lowering the rushing benchmark, perhaps to 75 yards. Looking for a little statistical background to justify this change. Can you tell me how many 100-yard receiving games there have been in the NFL the last 3 years, compared to how many 100- and 75-yard rushing games over the same time period?
Matt Tinker (Orleans, VT)
Passing has gotten more popular. See the chart below, in which I’ve divided the number of 100-yard games by the total number of games played (avoiding the issues of varying numbers of teams and games). For ballpark purposes, there was a 100-yard receiving game in about 25 percent of games back in the early 90s. Until a dip in the last two years, it’s grown to the point where there’s a 100-yard receiving game in about 40 percent of games. They’re super common.
300-yard passing games have zoomed up. We were seeing them in under 10 percent of games 30 years ago. It’s moved up to around 25 percent in a lot of recent seasons. (My numbers go back to 1978, and quarterbacks were reaching 300 yards in only 3 percent of games that season.)
The overall running back numbers now aren’t that different than they were in the early ‘90s, but it’s well short of what we were seeing about 20 years ago, when there was a 100-yard runner in about 30 percent of games.
|300- & 100-YARD GAMES|
Dropped to 0-3 (half PPR) on some poor matchups. I dropped Puka before week 1, so a rough start to say the least. On the bright side, I will get first priority on Achane. I also have Mahomes, CMC, Mixon, Walker, and Pacheco. Don’t want to hit the panic button, but should I look to trade one of my top RBs for a high-end receiver that I am missing, who would you trade, and who would be a realistic target? Or do I hold firm with C.Watson and Aiyuk coming back and see what I have in my J.Williams stash in 3 weeks?
Mitchell Ross (Westport, CT)
No need to panic. With Mahomes, McCaffrey and those other guys, you’ll be winning some games. You haven’t gotten value from Mahomes yet, but he’ll be cranking out plenty of 3-TD weeks. Watson and Aiyuk are coming back, and they might both be top-15 receivers the rest of the way. And I would think Jameson Williams will have some value. I’m not opposed to trades that improve a team, but you have the ability to stay the course.
Hey Ian, not a critique, just an observation. I've used FFI for decades for my draft prep, and as a result, my rosters tend to have a lot of the same players. This year: N.Harris, Montgomery, C.Watson, Pacheco, Perine, Freiermuth. You know, the players that FFI is higher on than most naturally end up on a lot of my rosters. Just ran a comparison from 8/24 to now and there have been some huge dropoffs (Harris RB9 to RB29), Montgomery (RB14 to RB24), Perine (RB33 to RB41), Watson (WR17 to WR37), Freiermuth (TE5 to TE10). Just wondering if, in all of your years of stellar work, are there any "traps" that you fall into sometimes during your draft season work that you notice and make you stop and dive deeper when you have some players ranked far higher than most? It's fantasy, players get hurt, no one can see the future, etc. But looking at my core players, now I'm 1-2 and I went from 1 1st rounder, 2 2nds, 2 3rds and 2 6ths to now 1 1st, a 2nd, 2 6ths, a 7th and 2 8ths. Honestly, it's not looking good. Just was wondering if you question yourself or your process on some of these 'out-of-step' rankings?
Scott Anderson (Las Vegas, NV)
If there are traps, I’m not aware of them – I guess I’m blinding walking into them. I’m just trying to process all of the information, look at each player and team careful, and project out how they’ll perform. After that process, we can compare the rankings against the ADP and see which guys show up as my “buy” and “sell” guys. Montgomery and Watson are hurt. Let’s not draw any conclusions on those guys just yet. As I recall, Gibbs was going a lot earlier than Montgomery in the preseason. I was of the thinking that Montgomery should be selected before Gibbs. I haven’t seen anything from those guys to change that position (other than Montgomery being down for a couple of weeks with a thigh injury). Let’s see how that one plays out. And let’s give Watson a chance to show what he can do (his redrafter grade is affected by him not being available in the here and now). With the Steelers (Harris, Freiermuth) in the preseason looked primed and ready to roll. They scored touchdowns on all 5 of Kenny Pickett’s preseason possessions. I’m surprised they haven’t been better thus far, but two thirds of their games have been against the 49ers and Browns, who are pretty tough defensively. I expect Pittsburgh will start getting some of those issues figured out. Last year the Steelers ranked next-to-last in scoring in the first half of the season, but 16th in the second half. Freiermuth, I think, is a real good tight end. With Harris, I worry about him losing some of that workload to Jaylen Warren.
My current RBs are Josh Jacobs, Pacheco, Kamara, Jaylen Warren, Tyler Allegeier. My TEs are Sam LaPorta and Freiermuth. Would you trade Kamara and LaPorta for Travis Kelce? Deciding if it's worth giving up depth, and how big a gap it is from LaPorta to Kelce?
Jeff Hornstein (Miami, FL)
I would think that in the final 14 games of the season, Kelce will generate about 20 more catches, 400 more yards and 5 more touchdowns than LaPorta. The question, then, is whether you lose that much production at running back by subtracting Kamara? Probably not. I think you’ll probably be fine at that position with Jacobs, Pacheco, Allgeier and whatever you can find on the waiver wire along the way.