Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: Can Trevor Lawrence limp his way to credible stats in Cleveland? Benching Patrick Mahomes. Why Noah Brown is a sneaky good start in Week 14. And will dumpoff catches allow Tyjae Spears to outperform Derrick Henry.

Question 1

I saw that Lawrence was at practice today and said his ankle felt much better than he thought it would. If he's active, do I use him? Or do I go with O'Connell, my backup.

David Hogshire (Plymouth, MN)

The Cleveland defense scares me. Only one quarterback all year has passed for more than 125 yards in that building. I would not want to be riding with a gimpy Lawrence this week.

Burrow, Cin.1431820052.2
Tannehill, Ten.13251040062.8
Jackson, Balt.1519186210.5142.5
Purdy, S.F.122712513.755.3
Tune, Ariz.1120580020.8
Pickett, Pitt.15281060062.5

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Question 2

My two QBs all-season long have been Mahomes and Howell. And despite Mahomes’ underwhelming season (by Mahomesian standards) I’ve resisted the urge to start Howell. Week 1 of our playoffs week 15 will see KC vs NE and Washington playing the Rams, and I’m thinking it’s time to finally pull the trigger. After investing heavily in Mahomes in our auction, who woulda’ thunk I’d actually be contemplating benching him in a playoff game for Sam freakin’ Howell. But here we are. Am I crazy?

Matt Tinker (Orleans, VT)

Not something I would do. Howell isn’t good enough. He’s thrown only one touchdown pass in his last three games. The Rams aren’t chopped liver defensively; they’ve allowed more than one touchdown pass in only three games all year. Howell threw for only 127 yards at Miami. I am way more willing than most to make these kind of aggressive/reckless coaching moves, but in this case I would chose to stick with Mahomes, hoping he starts playing like Patrick Mahomes.

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Question 3

Full point ppr, need one of these at my flex spot for week 14: Jaylen Warren, Khalil Herbert, Dameon Pierce, Noah Brown, Jakobi Meyers, Ridley.


Warren, Brown and Ridley would be the three guys I’d be looking at. Trevor Lawrence practiced some today. If he’s playing and reasonably healthy, that makes Ridley a more viable consideration. Off my numbers, Warren was the highest ranked on Wednesday. Brown will be ranked higher on Friday that he is right now. Dalton Schultz didn’t practice today, and if he’s sitting out today, they’re not going to get that kind of receiving production from Brevin Jordan. They’ll be looking to use their wide receivers more. Nico Collins in their top guy, but I expect he’ll be seeing a lot of Sauce Gardner. Tank Dell is out for the year. And Brown, I think, is next in line. He had those two huge games in the not-too-distant past. Robert Woods hasn’t had any games like that. Watching the Broncos-Texans game yesterday, it seemed like Collins-Dell-Brown was the receiver trio of choice early in the game (before Dell got hurt). I understand that Brown didn’t even catch a pass in that game, but I would be seriously mulling starting him ahead of Ridley.

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Question 4

I’m considering starting Spears ahead of King Henry against Miami, even if Derrick is healthy. I’m concerned the game may become a Dolphins blowout early, causing Tennessee to abandon the run, bench Henry and play catch-up with lots of passes, including dumpoff to Spears. TD-heavy scoring. Your thoughts? Playing for my division title this week. Thanks.

Eric Pryne (Vashon, WA)

Clever idea. But I would roll with Henry.

You can see the potential with Spears (who may be a Week 1 starter there next year) but they haven’t quite been able to get him going. He’s caught 33 passes for 192 yards, with one touchdown, averaging under 3 catches per week.

They haven’t really been able to sync up those pass plays quite right. Whether that’s on him or the quarterback or the coaches I’m not sure. He’s averaged under 4 yards per catch in over half of his games. Overall he’s averaging only 5.8 yards per reception. There have been 20 running backs who’ve caught at least 30 passes, and all but one of them are averaging more yards on their catches.

RUNNING BACKS: Yards Per Catch
Samaje Perine, Den.353429.80
Austin Ekeler, LAC312959.51
James Cook, Buff.333089.32
Antonio Gibson, Was.373228.72
Travis Etienne, Jac.403468.71
Christian McCaffrey, S.F.514298.45
Rachaad White, T.B.463868.41
Josh Jacobs, L.V.352808.00
Breece Hall, NYJ443497.92
Bijan Robinson, Atl.352667.63
Joe Mixon, Cin.392817.21
Alvin Kamara, N.O.604136.91
Jerome Ford, Cle.301966.53
Jahmyr Gibbs, Det.422726.50
Jaylen Warren, Pitt.382436.40
Isiah Pacheco, K.C.332096.31
Rhamondre Stevenson, N.E.382386.30
Tony Pollard, Dall.422485.90
Tyjae Spears, Ten.331925.80
D'Andre Swift, Phil.362085.81

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Question 5

I have Pacheco & Etienne (CMC’s my RB1). I need a WR desperately, I think I can make a deal for Amon-Ra St Brown, Stefon Diggs or DeVonta Smith. Schedules say Etienne for St Brown, but I’m wondering what swap you would favor?

Daniel Hort (Kissimmee, FL)

Sounds good to me. If it’s PPR scoring, I think St. Brown will outperform both of those backs. Note that Pacheco has been out of practice the last two days with a shoulder injury. I expect he’ll be fine, but something to keep an eye on (would be a pity to trade away your surplus and then be short-handed in the very first week).

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Question 6

This is more of an attaboy than a question. I've been a loyal subscriber and user for decades. One of my teams is a 2-QB, 10-team league with keepers. I'm 8-5 in that one. CBS Sports has some kind of AI bot that they've been using now for years -- it's pretty amazing actually. CBS keeps track of a "Coach Rating" where they capture each time you put a player into the lineup whose CBS projected scores are lower than another guy on your roster. So if CBS thinks Christian Watson would score 10 points and Pittman would score 12 points, but I put in Watson over Pittman because the Index thinks otherwise, CBS will take note of this "coaching risk" and flag it. CBS' AI tool then keeps track of how many "coaching risks" each coach has taken during the course of the year, and computes a batting average or success rate (how many times has your risk panned out vs how many times it's blown up in your face). Incredibly, it also keeps track of how many net points your coaching risks either generated for your team, or lost for your team, as well as how many additional wins or losses your coaching risks produced (i.e., was the net points gained or lost from your coaching risk within the winning or losing margin of the game that week). Based on all this data, CBS keeps a running ranking of all the coaches in the league from best to worst. Thanks to Fantasy Index, I'm *by far* the best coach in the league. I've made the most coaching risks (9 this season) and 8 of them panned out in my favor. I've generated like 59 extra points for my team and netted an additional win as a result. That win is pretty decisive because my 8-5 record has me tied for first in my division and I think I avoided a wild-card seed as a result. The proof is in the pudding.

Andrew Napoli (Alexandria, VA)

Thanks for the kind words. I had not heard about using A.I. in that way. Very interesting. I’m not sure if they’re tracking coaching decisions versus CBS writers or the general public, but I like it. It’s a good metric tracking your decisions.

On the website I’m using, the coach grading isn’t as complex. They track whether it would have been possible for you to submit a higher (or lower) scoring lineup by looking at the players on your bench. But that’s flawed in that it’s easier for teams who don’t have strong bench players to grade out higher.

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Question 7

A quirk of our league rules is that we can roster a backup QB and, if our starting QB is injured during a game and we have his backup rostered, we get the combined points from both players. I have Kyler Murray and Jordan Love and can roster only one backup QB. Do you have any idea which of Clayton Tune or Sean Clifford is the better backup to roster? I am leaning Clifford because I like the GB supporting cast better.

Eric Goetz (Shoreline, WA)

The Cardinals have actually been putting Tune on the field some as a goal-line quarterback. He ran for a 1-yard touchdown against the Falcons. But for your purposes, you would want to roster the backup of the quarterback who’s in your lineup. I think that’s most likely to be Love in the vast majority of your remaining games.

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