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

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Mailbag for January 12, 2024

Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. Can Bryce Young turn things around? Is Trey McBride the next great tight end? Nick Chubb's 2024 prospects. And more.

Question 1

Dynasty TD-dependent league question. Currently have Jake Ferguson who has 5 scores and Dak’s safety blanket. Do you keep him or pivot to target monster McBride with Kyler or rookie Brock Bowers?

Howie Fishman (Hermosa Beach, CA)

To me, Trey McBride looks like an up-and-coming, future-of-the-position type guy. He caught 66 passes and 3 TDs in his final 10 games. They’ve got a good coordinator there, with that lesser team punching above its weight. He’d be one of the first few tight ends I would draft (though I’ll concede tht he doesn’t grade out quite as well for touchdowns as he does for catches and yards). I’d select Sam LaPorta before him, but I’m not sure there’s another tight end I’d rather have. Bowers will be a top-15 pick; most drafts don’t have a tight end as good as him. It will be easier to get some type of feel for his possible production after he’s been allocated to an NFL team. Flying blind right now, I would select Bowers before Ferguson in a dynasty draft.

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Question 2

I acquired Bryce Young late this past season in a dynasty contract league by a team that was dumping him (and gave me other players that I needed). Looking forward, I can keep him for next year and the salary is okay if he's at least middle of the road, possibly even if a little worse. Or I can cut him in the off-season (before the late August auction) and take a hit - it's bearable but will hurt. What is your read on Bryce Young going forward. Do you see him as a bust or a guy who needs more time and better coaching?

Irin Israel (Scarsdale, NY)

There’s the possibility that he’ll be fine. Eli Manning, Alex Smith and Jared Goff put up even worse per-game numbers than Young as rookies, and all had some success. Trevor Lawrence has blossomed some after a slow start, and Carson Wentz after a lousy first season almost won the league MVP in his second year. But I don’t consider poor numbers as a rookie to be a good thing. There are plenty of other quarterbacks who played poor as rookies who just continued to struggle. I feel worst about Young today than I did prior to the season. For you, I would think the best tactical option would be to hold onto Young for now. Let’s see who’s coaching and what kind of offense they’re running, and let’s see what he looks like in the preseason. There’s some chance he’ll improve some, putting up top-20 numbers in his second season. As long as you’ve got him under contract, probably best to keep him around, giving him the opportunity to maybe develop into that guy. (Unless you see enough in August to conclude it’s just not happening in 2024.) The chart below shows quarterbacks picked in the top 5 overall who put up bottom-10 per-game numbers in their first season.

TOP-5 QUARTERBACKS WHO STRUGGLED IN THEIR FIRST YEAR
YearPlayerStPassTDIntRunTDR
2002David Carr, Hou.16162.56.9418.19
2002Joey Harrington, Det.121871.001.330.00
2004Eli Manning, NYG7140.861.295.00
2005Alex Smith, S.F.7120.141.5714.00
2009Mark Sanchez, NYJ15163.801.337.20
2010Sam Bradford, St.L.162201.13.944.06
2014Blake Bortles, Jac.13207.691.1530.00
2016Carson Wentz, Phil.162361.00.889.13
2016Jared Goff, LAR7156.711.002.14
2017Mitchell Trubisky, Chi.12183.58.5821.17
2018Sam Darnold, NYJ132201.311.1511.08
2020Tua Tagovailoa, Mia.92011.22.5612.33
2021Trevor Lawrence, Jac.17214.711.0020.12
2021Zach Wilson, NYJ13180.69.8514.31
2023Bryce Young, Car.16180.69.6316.00

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Question 3

TD-only scoring. I have to decide if I keep Chubb. Your thoughts on when or if he’s ready for full contact next year.

John Brower (Chapel Hill, NC)

I don’t know the specifics of the injury, but I would expect he’ll be ready for Week 1. He injured the knee in September, giving him an initial time window of 11 months. He underwent a followup surgery on his knee in mid-November, with the team physician indicating that things were looking good. There could be some financial issues to work out. He’s got a base salary of $11.8 million, and the Browns might not want to commit that much to a 28-year-old coming off a knee surgery. With running back being an undervalued position, they might be mulling whether to release Chubb, taking a hit of $4 million in dead cap money, and then signing someone else. More likely, they’ll work something out (perhaps pushing some of that money into future years by extending him). He’s one of their core guys, and I think they’ll want to keep him around. If we’re picking players today, he’d be a top-20 running back on my board for 2024.

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Question 4

Do you provide rankings for the playoffs that reflects the players/defs to keep who might last the longest all the way to the Superbowl? Need to assemble 15 players (max 2 QB's, RB's, Kickers, and DEF) who will make it to the Superbowl.

TIM ZEUCH (Mason, OH)

We do a playoff product each year. It includes rankings and projections at each position. With this product, players are ordered by expected overall (cumulative) production. So the players on the teams that are most likely to play three-plus games (Cowboys, 49ers, Ravens) tend to be ranked higher. Separately, we have a mini version of the Weekly, with projections based solely on the games being played this week. Both products available through the usual channels.

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Question 5

I've been a subscriber since 1991 ... your info & analysis is top-notch as always ... but the web site seems to be taken over with ads as of late. Pop-ups & smack in the middle of content. What up with that?

DONALD VANDENBORD (Saint Augustine, FL)

Yes. They started showing up about a month ago. We haven’t done much with advertising on the website previously, but we’re working with Google Ads now. They require some extra clicks, and apologies for that, but they add a few bucks that can be used for coffee and donuts for staff meetings.

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Question 6

I’m making some keeper notes before summer. Our 8-team PPR starts 2QB (6 points throwing TD) 2RB, 4 WR/TE. Keepers are drafted 2 rounds earlier each year. My notes refer to the draft position for 2024. Do I go for pure points in Burrow & Chase? Or draft position in Purdy & Rice? Our league tends to only draft 25 RB. Which 3 would you keep? Burrow (3), Purdy (13), Jonathan Taylor (7), K. Williams (10), Chase (5), Olave (9), R.Rice (10)

William Martin (Winnipeg, MB)

When you compare the difference between the players you might select in the third, seventh or 10th rounds, that’s a real thing. There’s value there. So I would be looking to load up on the later-round guys. Rashee Rice, Brock Purdy, Kyren Williams. Those would be my three keepers. Jonathan Taylor and Chris Olave look like strong choices as well. Burrow and Chase are the best two players, but I think they come at too high of a price tag. That is, if you look at the combined production of Burrow and a player selected in the 13th round, it will be less than what you would get from Purdy and a 3rd-round pick. And the value of Chase and 10th-round pick would be beaten by Rice and a fifth-round pick.

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Question 7

Ian, great season of content as always. As things wrap up I did want to point out to you that the money line is not the point spread, it's a numeric representation of the odds to win. The money line on the Mia/Buf game -160/+140, not -3/+3, that's the point spread. Happy New Year to you!

BRIAN BARRETT (Midway, UT)

Thanks for pointing this out. I was not aware of this. (My efforts tend to be focused on trying to find the right stat levels for players – I look at point spreads primarily to see an indication of what the general public expects will happen.)

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Question 8

Thanks for another terrific season of analysis. I'm particularly impressed by how much higher you were on Pacheco this year than many industry analysts, and he paid dividends. I don't have a question, but thought I'd share a postseason system that is great for a friends and family league. We have done this for years. We choose one player (and only one) from each team to fill out a starting roster: 2 QB, 3 RB, 3 WR, 2 TE, 2 FLEX, 1 K, 1 D/ST. It takes a while to set up and pick your teams, and once it's done, the work falls on the commish to get the scores entered quickly. But, the time spent is worth it for everyone to have rooting interests throughout the playoffs. Many sites have something similar, but not quite the way we do it. I encourage fantasy owners to get their home leagues or families to participate for financial prizes. It's worth the effort!

Randy Jackson (CO)

It sounds like a cool game. I have stat projections for all players, but I’m not sure how I would decide on starters. I’m not sure if there’s iron-clad programming-type system that could be used. I think I would have to resort to a hunt-and-peck method, putting together a 14-man lineup, then testing it by trying various substitutions. For a person wired like myself, it could be a major time suck.

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Question 9

I just won the Super Bowl in one of my four highly competitive leagues. Thank you for your help. Now it's on to next year! This time of year I always ask you this same question since we keep 12 players. Which players that might be available now show promise of being regular starters (for me and their teams) next year. If I hit on one of these, it's like having an extra high pick in next years draft. I'm thinking about Roschon Johnson, Zamir White, Kendre Miller, WR Michael Wilson, TE Smythe. I'm sure there are more and perhaps better ones.

JOHN BENNETT (Chino, CA)

You’re not going to “hit” on Wilson or Smythe. Those guys probably will start, but I don’t see a scenario where those guys put up notable numbers (Smythe started all of this year without scoring a touchdown.) With those young running backs, on the other hand, they’ve got the potential to turn into assets. It’s not official year, but I don’t think Alvin Kamara will play again for the Saints. I don’t think Jamaal Williams will be there next year either. I think they’ll head into 2024 with a combination of Kendre Miller and somebody else. Miller didn’t play much as a rookie but reminded everyone in Week 18 why the Saints selected him in the third round, carrying 13 times for 73 yards and a touchdown. The Raiders put Zamir White in the starting lineup for their last four games, and he fared well enough, averaging 99 yards. As they’re trying to figure their plans for 2024 (which might include a different coaching staff) that will need to be considered. They put the franchise tag on Josh Jacobs last year, but would it be smarter to save that money for elsewhere, relying instead on White (likely paired with another back)? In Chicago, I think they’ll head into 2024 expecting to rely on some combination of Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert at tailback. I think Johnson will be the better of those two; he’s better in the passing game. But it’s early. They’ve got to figure out who’s quarterbacking, and they’re looking for a new offensive coordinator. (To see my most recent long-term player rankings, click on the “In Depth” section on the main toolbar of the website and drag down to Dynasty Leagues. I posted revised lists throughout the regular season, rotating between QB, RB, WR and TE.)

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Question 10

We're running a weird challenge: 8 team playoff league (PPR, QB, RB, WR, WR, TE, Flex, K, D ) there is no bench - only 64 starters drafted. We draft players to play this weekend to seed an 8-team bracket by points scored that starts next week. Then we play a single-elimination tournament, and as fantasy teams lose, they are out & their players go back into the pool for waivers/FA (kind of like a Guillotine league). 4 teams out after Divisional round, 2 teams out after Championship weekend, and 2 teams left in Super Bowl (and players only on the Super Bowl teams.) So if you draft 49ers or Ravens, you're taking a 0 at their position this weekend & probably will get a lower seed in the bracket. Just wondering how you'd attack the draft.

Scott Anderson (Las Vegas, NV)

I wouldn’t worry much about the seeding position. If you drafted a team made entirely of 49ers and Ravens, you would probably begin as the 8th seed, but then you’d have the highest-scoring team in the three knockout rounds if those teams play like they’re supposed to. To win the thing, you’re going to need the best players in the Super Bowl week, and there’s only two ways to get those players: you can either draft them, or you can hope to select them in the supplemental drafts later.

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