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


Mailbag for June 13, 2024

Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. Special doldrums of June edition. What position is the easiest for incoming rookies? Is a bird-in-the-hand St. Brown better than maybe-great Marvin Junior? What to make of the new kickoff rule. And more.

Question 1

Been playing successfully since 1990 (thanks to Fantasy Football Index) but have almost always shied away from drafting rookies. Can you break down what positions have the best success as rookies? I'm guessing WRs first. Then RBs, TEs, and lastly QBs.


Running backs have had the most early-career success. Using PPR scoring, 18 rookie running backs in the last 10 years have finished with top-15 numbers – over twice as many as the other positions. And 41 rookie running backs have finished with top-30 numbers; that’s 11 more than wide receivers. (The QB & TE numbers haven’t been all that different than the wide receivers, but in typical leagues, only half as many are being used – for ballpark purposes, seems fair to compare the number of top-15 players at those positions versus the top 30 at WR.)

PositionTop 15Top 30
Running backs1841
Wide Receivers730
Tight ends621

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Question 2

Dynasty question for you - I have been offered pick 1.01 for Amon-Ra St. Brown. Would you pull the trigger for the opportunity to draft Marvin Harrison Jr.?

David Jung (San Francisco, CA)

The hope with Harrison is that he’ll develop into an Amon-Ra St. Brown player, who’s catching a half-dozen passes every week (and maybe with a little more playmaking ability). But St. Brown (pictured) is already there. I would take the known quantity over the hope for even more.

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Question 3

Will you consider putting team kick returners in magazine depth charts with new kick off rule? My league gives points for kickoff returns.

Craig Leedy (Sacramento, CA)

We’ve got our eye on kick returns. There will be a lot more of them. Last year, there were 587 kickoff returns and 1,970 touchbacks. This year, they’re heavily penalizing touchbacks (with teams getting the ball at the 30 if the ball is kicked into the end zone). So the vast majority of kickoffs will be returned. For ballpark purposes, I’m expecting about 4 times as many kickoff returns this year. If there are 4 times as many returned for touchdowns, that will be 16. That’s in line with what we saw when they tried this rule in a spring league a few years ago (with 3 TDs in 60 games, which would project out to 13.6 in an NFL season).

As camps and the preseason occur, we’ll be carefully noting the kickoff returns and potential for each team. Jets recently signed Tarik Cohen; I think they may be looking him as their kickoff guy (with Xavier Gibson handling only punts). Steelers signed Cordarrelle Patterson to handle kickoffs hours after this rule was pass; he’s been very good for a long time, but he’s also 33 years old. KaVontae Turpin is a feared returner for the Cowboys but hasn’t actually taken one to the house yet. I think the Jaguars signed Devin Duvernay in part for returns.

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Question 4

I was hoping you would assign a grade to my pre-rookie draft trade results. I'm in a 12-team superflex dynasty league. My team is competitive, but a little long in the tooth. I injected some youth last year: Stroud, Achane and McBride, and want to do more this year. Pre-trades I had: Tyreek, Jav Williams, 1.03, 3.03, 3.09. Post trades I have: Pickens, 1.05, 1.08, 2.06, 2.08. What do you think? I may have given away this year's WR1, but at 30 years old, I figured I should sell high.


That’s a bold one. If Hill stays healthy, he’ll be a top-5 receiver. But I see your point about getting rid of him now, at 30. If he pulls a hamstring or if Tua gets knocked out with a concussion, you could look like a genius. And Pickens, if we take a step back and look more long term, looks like a good gamble. He’s ascending, with the possibility of a bunch of top-10 seasons, and he’s a lot younger. You’re also going from having one draft pick in the top 20 to four picks. We’ll see how it plays out.

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Question 5

Not really a question but a thank you for everything you and your staff do every year. I purchased my first magazine in 1994 with Emmitt Smith on the cover and have continued to order the magazine since then. I still have each issue and July 1st is one of my favorite days of the year when the new issue comes in the mail. Needless to say I am 'old school' so I prefer the hard copy magazine which I refer to all year. I also enjoyed the podcast you and Justin did, and hopefully you will continue with that this year. Looking forward to the 2024 NFL season .... GO BIRDS!

James Carvin (Mount Laurel, NJ)

Thanks for the kind words, James. The magazines are being printed up as we speak. It should show up in your mailbox at the usual time. And good news for you (being an Iggles fan). My preference was to have CeeDee Lamb on the cover, but we couldn’t find a picture we were excited about, so you won’t have to see one of your rival teams on the cover.

I had fun doing the podcast for a number of years with Justin Eleff (and Mark Nulty before him), but I decided last year to instead focus more on the writing side. We’ll have Luke Wilson and Colt Williams back doing the podcast, but I imagine I’ll be showing up for a guest appearance once in a while.

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Question 6

One week back in like 1994 or 1995, I picked up Mario Bates and Bam Morris due to injuries ... and together they totaled 5 TDs! Weren't those great pickups?!

Roland Deschain (IL)

My problem is, I see a letter like that, and I can’t stop myself from picking through the old boxscores, figuring out what exactly happened. December 3, 1994: Mario Bates (who didn’t play much in the first half of his rookie season) carries 25 times for 96 yards and 3 TDs for the Saints against the Rams. That was in Anaheim Stadium – before the Rams left for St. Louis. The next night (on Monday night football) Bam Morris (who was also a rookie) carried 24 times for 108 yards and 2 TDs for the Steelers in a blowout win over the Bengals at Riverfront Stadium. Those games occurred almost 30 years ago, so the vast majority of current NFL players weren’t even born when those 5 TDs were scored. Crazy.

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