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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 October 26, 2023

Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. How long will Raheem Mostert remain a relevant running back? Is Tee Higgins a buy-low candidate? Whatever happened to Rashaad Penny? Players deserving of the Hall of Fame. A look at the Fantasy Index scouting process. And more.

Question 1

What’s your prognosis for Mostert going forward? My league has a midseason draft before Week 8; we can keep 5, and I’m weighing whether he keep him. Hurts and Tyreek are obvious keepers. My other alternatives are Pacheco, Swift and Henry.

Eric Pryne (Vashon, WA)

I’m definitely not keeping Mostert before Pacheco or Swift. It would come down to either him or Henry. Henry is the better player, but he’ll be 30 before the end of the season and is playing for a lesser team that’s starting to look towards 2024. I’m not sure that we’ll see Ryan Tannehill again. Henry has averaged 3.3 yards per carry in three games, and it would be four if not for a 63-yard run on that Wildcat fake end-around run in London. Other than that run, he carried 11 times for 34 yards in that game.

I am not a big Mostert fan. I think teams will start to get a better feel for how to defend against what Miami’s doing. And Mostert will look a lot less appealing when DeVon Achane comes off IR (the rookie must miss two more games). In Achane’s last two games, Mostert carried 7 times for 9 yards at Buffalo and 10 times for 65 yards and a touchdown against the Giants.

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Question 2

A couple weeks ago, I thought there was no way I would ever fill my flex spot with a receiver with WR with Ekeler, Swift, Kyren Williams and Jacobs in my RB room. All four are consistently projected 3-4 points above all of my receivers, which include Kirk, Watson, Collins, D Johnson, and London. After seeing Jacobs get shut down by the Bears’ next-to-last run D, I’m starting to think differently. Am I crazy? Which of these receivers would you be willing to play over Jacobs in a flex spot right now? Or is it best to stick it out with Jacobs’ due to his volume?

Aaron Vander Vorst (West Fargo, ND)

I think we need to re-visit Chicago’s run defense. It was next-to-last against the run last year. Remarkably, it allowed 31 rushing touchdowns in that season. Heading into the year, I was expecting more of the same. Rachaad White in Week 2 had his best day against them, and Kansas City the following week ran for 158 yards and 2 TDs.

But the Bears have held up fine against the run in most of their games. They’re 5th in run defense right now, the only team in that league that hasn’t allowed 50 rushing yards in any of its last three games. Jacobs, AJ Dillon, Brian Robinson and Alexander Mattison all failed to average 3 yards per carry against them. I’m not 100 percent sure they’re good (or even average) but they’re not the disaster they were last year.

I’m not suggesting this guarantees Jacobs a starting spot in your lineup. He’s been struggling, and the Raiders are terrible. I wouldn’t want to use Jacobs at Detroit this week (given the way the Lions are playing against the run). But I would think Jacobs will be back in the lineup in Week 9, at home against the Giants.

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Question 3

Long-time subscriber - love the product! I'm the commissioner of my league and every week I send out an email that doesn't just include league news but trivia, NFL history, etc. About half the time I "borrow" one of your trivia questions if I can tell a good story off of it. I want to do a story about my top nominee for "players who should be in the HOF". Do you have any info on what players who've had to wait the longest from retirement to induction? Any help would be appreciated!

Dan McManus (Wilmington, NC)

I’m not a big fan of the Hall of Fame. We agree on most of the inductees, but then there’s a gray area, with differences of opinion. It becomes not so much who deserves to be in, but who has the best machinery in place, advocating for them. Marty Schottenheimer, for example, isn’t in the Hall. He won more games than Jimmy Johnson and Tom Flores combined, and with a better winning percentage than either of them. And Schottenheimer has 51 more wins than Bill Cowher. Otis Taylor, Chuck Foreman and Jim Marshall seem like they should be in there. Tommy Nobis wasted his career away playing for lesser Atlanta teams, but my sense is he would have been a first-ballot walk-in had he been playing elsewhere. Lester Hayes in the early ‘80s was the stickiest cover corner I ever saw. In the 1980 season, Hayes intercepted 13 passes – then 5 more in the postseason, helping the Raiders to a Super Bowl title.

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Question 4

Are we finally done with the ridiculous Christian Watson rankings?

Graham Ginn (Ocean View, NJ)

He’s capable of being an elite receiver. He put up top-10 numbers in the second half of last year, including 8 TDs in his last eight games. But I will concede that he’s somewhat unpolished. And Green Bay is starting to look like a lesser team, with a quarterback who simply isn’t good enough.

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Question 5

In your evaluations, when determining which player to start, how much does matchup weigh into your decision vs. talent? Would you rather start a more talented RB like Brian Robinson vs Philadelphia? Or a RB with a better matchup, like Craig Reynolds vs LV?

Trey Hewitt (New Braunfels, TX)

The general process here is to start the week by deciding on what each player does in a typical week. How many rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, passing yards and passing touchdowns can be expected out of each offense (in a general sense), and how those stats typically will be allocated between the players on that roster. In that process, I’m considering my expectations for the offense entering the season, looking at how it’s played this year, how it’s played in recent weeks, and who it’s been playing. Injuries and lineup changes have to be factored in. Then there’s the matchup itself. We take our typical week numbers and start comparing them to what the opposing defense typically allows. When an offense is playing against Philadelphia, its projected rushing totals will be lower. And when it’s playing against a team like Las Vegas, those numbers will typically be moved up. After settling on projections for rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, passing yards and passing touchdowns (with those numbers also being tied to individual players) we then get a sense of what to expect from each player. In the case of your two guys, that process results in Craig Reynolds winding up with 17 rushing and 3 receiving yards, with .25 of a touchdown. (A quarter of a touchdown might seem high, but the Lions score a lot of touchdowns on the ground, and some chance they sub in Reynolds for a goal-line carry, with Gibbs being a smaller guy.) With Robinson, our projections wind up at 39 rushing and 18 receiving yards, with .41 of a touchdown. He grades out a lot more favorably, and that’s what you would expect, with him having played decently against Philly in the past. He ran for 86 yards and a touchdown in that Monday night upset there last year. And he carried 14 times for 45 yards and a touchdown when these teams met earlier this year.

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Question 6

Maybe a bit early, but who do you see as potential trade candidates and where would you expect them to go? I’m thinking Derrick Henry and Courtland Sutton might both be moved before the deadline.

Kyle Kintner (Carlsbad, CA)

The Ravens look like possibly buyers. At 5-2, they’re looking like Kansas City’s top competition in the AFC. They’ve got a great defense, and they’ve improved and upgraded their passing offense. So it would be reasonable for them to make a move that might put them over the top. They’ve going with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill at running back, so it would make a lot of sense to add to that position. Or maybe an elite pass rusher. Baltimore made a notable in-season trade last year, dealing for Roquan Smith. The Titans shipped off Kevin Byard, so they’ve put the “for sale” sign in the ground. If somebody wants to deal for Derrick Henry, I think the Titans would be glad to move him. If a team wants to deal for half a season of Josh Jacobs, I expect he also could be had.

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Question 7

Is Tee Higgins an afterthought or is he a buy low candidate right now? You have him ranked pretty low on the redrafter.

Sherif Elmazi (Hong Kong)

Earlier in the week, I posted the chart showing that the Bengals have the most difficult remaining schedule in the league. Now that I’ve got it in front of me, however, I should point out that two of the least-desirable games (at KC and against Cleveland) are in the final two weeks of the season. And the home game against Buffalo doesn’t look so bad, with that defense being diminished by injuries. So some chance that Cincinnati can write the ship, with Higgins putting up top-25 receiving numbers the rest of the way.

He's been pretty awful thus far, however. He had the one good game against Baltimore (8 catches for 89 yards and 2 TDs) but otherwise has been a disaster. The other 24 passes thrown in his direction have resulted in 6 catches for 60 yards, with no touchdowns.

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Question 8

Any insight on why Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars passing offense have been so mediocre this season, particularly in scoring? I drafted Lawrence as a QB1, expecting good things with pass-catchers like Etienne, Kirk, Ridley, and Engram at his disposal. I realize that Pederson's teams typically emphasize the run in the red zone, but they're not even calling Lawrence's number on those plays either.

Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)

They had it going pretty good late last year, when Lawrence in his final 10 games averaged 254 passing and 17 rushing yards, with a combined 21 touchdowns. But he hasn’t taken that step up into the top tier of quarterbacks. Pass protection is a contributing factor, with the offensive line not as good. He’s getting sacked on almost 50 percent more plays this year. And the swap out of Calvin Ridley for aging Marvin Jones hasn’t given him as much of a boost as I was expecting. But I wouldn’t give up on him; I expect he’ll be more productive in the second half of the season.

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Question 9

Rashaad Penny, with one of the highest ypc in NFL history, has been mostly healthy scratched so far this season!? When was the last time a player with such elite skills was frozen out by his own team? Did Roseman acquire him just to keep him off opposing rosters? Any chance the Eagles trade him or are they content to ice him all season?

Peter Chen (Palo Alto, CA)

D'Andre Swift has always had problems staying healthy. He doesn’t seem like the kind of back who’ll be playing in all 17 games. If and when he breaks down, that could be the point where Penny gets on the field and starts busting loose for longer runs.

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Question 10

Do envision Addison staying as relevant as Nacua has with the Rams with Kupp once Jefferson comes back? The Rams don't have a TE like the Vikings do.

Brian Boyd (Maple Grove, MN)

How does this recent Addison run change the way we view Jefferson? The general consensus is that Jefferson is perhaps the best wide receiver in the game. This recent production by Addison has me wondering if Jefferson is instead one of the half-dozen best wide receivers, with the right scheme and quarterback making him look even better. (Though that catch at Buffalo last year, that was pretty unbelievable.) Addison, though, he’s looking legit. I’m thinking he might still be putting up top-20 numbers after Jefferson returns.

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Question 11

Who would you start this week, Dameon Pierce or Devin Singletary, and what is your outlook for that backfield going forward?

John Legg (Kansas City, MO)

I like Pierce’s playing style. He had a tackle-busting run inside the 10 last week that was one of my favorite plays of the weekend. He runs as hard as anyone. But they haven’t quite been able to get him going. He’s having problems adjusting to that scheme, apparently. He’s averaging only 2.9 yards per attempt.

The Texans are getting tired of waiting for Pierce to come around, apparently, because Singletary played a lot more on Sunday. They both finished the game with 13 touches, and Singletary averaged over 2 more yards per carry. I imagine they’ll be splitting time this week.

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