Welcome to the latest edition of the weekly mailbag.
Send me your questions using the DLF Mailbag Form and I’ll include the best in future articles. Remember the guidelines to have the best chance at seeing your question get posted:
1.) Dynasty questions only, no start/sit questions
2.) Help me help you by providing sufficient information about your league (e.g. line-up requirements/PPR or non-PPR/etc.), and include your first name and where you’re from.
3.) Your chance of getting your question answered is inversely proportional to the length of the question.
Let’s get to it!
1.) I’ve been pursuing a trade for Jimmy Graham for quite some time now, since tight end is my weakest position. I recently offered Russell Wilson and Aaron Hernandez for Graham and a second round pick. Do you think this is a solid offer, or should I offer more or less? – Darren from Parts Unkown
When it comes to making blockbuster trades, I’ve always been of the mindset that if you’re getting the best player in the deal, you’re likely going to have to overpay. In this case, Graham is popularly viewed as the best player in the deal, as he’s going almost a full round ahead of Hernandez according to our startup ADP data. However, based on recent free agency moves, I’m not so certain the difference is that drastic.
By declining to re-sign target hog Wes Welker, the Patriots have signified their intentions to seismically shift the identity of their offense. As a similar type of underneath threat, Hernandez could very well be the primary beneficiary. Always utilized as a “joker/move” tight end, Hernandez actually sports the exact same career 11.2 yards-per-catch stat as Welker. Though he’ll face competition from newly signed slot receiver Danny Amendola, the former Ram has only played in 65.6% of his career games, and lacks a rapport with quarterback Tom Brady.
If Hernandez can stay healthy (ten missed games in three years), all signs point to a breakout for the tattooed tight end terror, as well as a possible expansion of the universally recognized “top tier of two” at the position (Graham and Rob Gronkowski). For such a slight upgrade, parting with a potential top ten quarterback in Wilson is far too steep a price. Bottom line, if you consider starting the consensus third best dynasty tight end as your team’s biggest weakness, you should stop calling your leaguemates for trades, and start calling your local trophy shop.
2.) With Darrius Heyward-Bey being cut combined with Denarius Moore’s injury history, there is still very little talk about Jacoby Ford. Is he worth picking up or is he fools-gold? At one time he was looking like the next Percy Harvin. I would be dropping Ed Dickson in order to pick him up. – Dustin in WA
When it comes to end-of-the-bench types like Ford, my philosophy is always to maximize potential upside. With the departures of both Heyward-Bey and tight end Brandon Myers, who combined for nearly a third of the Raiders’ targets in 2012, there is indeed plenty of potential in the Oakland offense. I’m just not sold on Ford being the player who stands to benefit.
Firstly, Moore and Ford are fairly redundant players who are best served utilizing their top-end speed to function as deep threats (16.2 and 17.0 yards-per-catch, respectively). Next, if you’re concerned with Moore’s injury history, I’m surprised by your desire to roster Ford, who has only played in half of his 48 career games. In fact, by virtue of missing the entire 2012 season with a Lisfranc foot injury, it’s possible Ford has already been passed on the depth chart by a pair of rookies, Rod Streater and Juron Criner. While they might not be available on the waiver wire, those are the players I’d want to target.
Streater, who went undrafted, surprisingly finished the season with the fourth most targets on the team. He also led the team in yards per catch, and recorded three touchdowns. Criner, while starting slowly, received 91% of his targets in his last five games before suffering a hip injury. I’d prefer either of these players to the brittle Ford.
Regardless, any of the players listed above, Ford included, would improve the spot currently held by Dickson. With only 86 receptions across three seasons, the Baltimore tight end appears stuck behind Dennis Pitta in the pecking order, and lacks any type of discernible upside. It makes sense to get rid of him and pursue an upgrade.
3.) I need to know who to keep between Stevie Johnson and Rashard Mendenhall for my FLEX slot in a 16-team league. My current keepers are Aaron Rodgers, Trent Richardson, Jamaal Charles, Torrey Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Jimmy Graham. – Reginald in VA
Since you didn’t mention anything regarding a “cost” for keeping either player, I’m assuming there’s no difference between the two. In that case, for a variety of reasons, I think you should keep Stevie Johnson. Let’s first consider your current roster.
I know you’re looking at one of these players to fill your FLEX slot, but let’s view them as positional depth instead. Between Nicks’ injury history and Smith’s unfamiliarity with needing to function as “the guy” on offense, you have a lot of uncertainty at receiver. It wouldn’t shock me if, for one reason or another, you had to elevate Johnson into one of your two receiver spots. At running back, Trent Richardson and Jamaal Charles are both, arguably, top-five dynasty/keeper options. Barring injuries and bye weeks, those two are locked and loaded in your lineup.
Next, let’s look at each player’s situation. Though Rashard Mendenhall has familiarity with new Cardinals’ coach Bruce Arians, he’s walking into a team with deficiencies at quarterback and offensive line. He lacks cohesion with his new teammates and will also have to battle third-year running back Ryan Williams for carries. Similarly, Johnson will concurrently have to learn new coach Doug Marrone’s scheme and mesh with a new quarterback, but will still unquestionably function as the Bills’ number one option in the passing game.
Finally, in a 16-team league, you can’t afford to waste a pick and should therefore minimize your risk. Mendenhall still hasn’t proven himself to be fully recovered from a 2011 ACL injury, and hasn’t had a 1,000-yard season since 2010. Johnson, on the other hand, has had three straight seasons of at least 76 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards, never finishing below the rank of the PPR WR18. For the totality of these reasons, Stevie is your guy.
4.) During studying for the first rookie draft in my eight team league, I fell in love with a guy named Russell Wilson, so much that I slightly over-drafted him in the third round. It slowly went from a few heckles to “what do you want for him?” Finally, a worthy offer has come in: Adrian Peterson and Hakeem Nicks for Wilson, David Wilson and Mike Wallace. How do you handle trading away a player you are emotionally connected with and what do you think of the trade? – Krcil in SD
These are the types of philosophical questions that transcend re-draft reasoning and make dynasty football so unique. While it’s easier to remain stoic and emotionless when drafting a new team each season, it’s significantly more challenging to divest yourself of passionate response to a team you’ve cultivated over the course of years. The mark of a good owner is the ability to harness that emotion and ultimately do what’s best for the team; a “Belichickian” response, if you will.
With that said, in spite of our innermost desires to out-think, out-strategize, and win, I believe having fun should still come to the forefront of our fantasy endeavors. If taking pride in unearthing a diamond in the rough precludes you from making a close deal, so be it – you’re proud of your collection of players, and derive enjoyment from the way you put your team together. If doing so means you’ve failed to appreciably improve, you’ve let your emotions overtake rhyme and reason and have done your team a disservice. It’s a true cost-benefit analysis of the subconscious.
Incidentally, I think it’s a good move for your team. Adrian Peterson is arguably the most desirable dynasty running back and Hakeem Nicks has WR1-level talent when healthy. You’d be improving two slots in your starting lineup and only weakening yourself at quarterback, the deepest position in eight team leagues. I would be inclined to take the deal, but also don’t share your emotional attachment. Whether the statistical upswing is enough to counterbalance losing the pride and joy of your 2012 rookie draft is a battle that can only be fought between your heart and mind.
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