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.) In my 12-man PPR league, I’m rebuilding and not looking to compete for one to two years. I have a trade on the table where I give Justin Hunter, Christine Michael and Tony Gonzalez for Josh Gordon and Felix Jones. Would you rather have Gordon or the upside of the two rookies plus whatever I can trade Gonzalez for? – Britt in MI
I view Josh Gordon like I view the first iteration of Fox’s Arrested Development. For those who never watched it, AD was (and still is, if you’re a Netflix subscriber), arguably, one of the most perfectly crafted comedies of my generation. It featured a cast of not-quite-yet famous actors (including but not limited to Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Will Arnett and Portia de Rossi) whose seamless interactions and subtle humor coalesced to form a comedic juggernaut. Unfortunately, it didn’t appeal to a widespread audience, and its initial run lasted only three seasons.
Despite being only 21 years old and over a year removed from competitive football, Gordon finished the 2012 season with 50 receptions for 805 yards (16.1 yards per catch) and five touchdowns. This was good enough to place him as the third best fantasy rookie receiver, behind only Justin Blackmon and TY Hilton. He has both size (6’5”, 225 pounds) and speed (4.52 second 40-yard dash), and if the Browns continue to improve under Brandon Weeden, Gordon could ascend to the ranks of the fantasy elite in only a few short years. In fact, it’s entirely likely that had Gordon stayed in college one more year, he would’ve been the first skill-position player selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. Yet despite all this, he’s still being drafted as a WR3 in recent startups – much like Arrested Development, he’s being severely undervalued.
So with that one “bird” almost in hand, why would you let him go to chase the “two in the bush?” Though neither Hunter nor Michael lack for talent, they each carry with them significant question marks. Hunter is stepping into a positional logjam, getting drafted by a Titans team already boasting the likes of Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright at receiver. The popular theory is Tennessee will part ways with Britt after the season, but if he plays to his potential, there’s no guarantee that happens.
Analogously, Michael is walking into a loaded Seahawks backfield featuring bell-cow Marshawn Lynch. Once again, the rationale (hope) is Lynch will soon be given his walking papers, but his 2013 contract is guaranteed, and he’s only owed a manageable $5 million in 2014. Even if he is cut, 2012 rookie Robert Turbin played well in spot duty last year, and it’s far from certain Michael would beat him out.
Getting back to your plans of rebuilding, Gordon could (and should) be the centerpiece of those efforts. Ironically enough, the now-22 year old is only one month older than Hunter, and actually younger than Michael! So you’ll be acquiring a young stud in the making, and getting him for pennies on the dollar – one year of Gonzalez plus a pair of unproven rookies. Given all this, I’d easily accept the trade.
2.) What do I do with Jahvid Best. Should I trade him for the second overall free agent pick or maybe a late rookie pick (1.30, 1.32), or should I continue to stash him in hopes of his return? – Justin in MO
For those unfamiliar with Jahvid Best’s plight, it’s a sad tale of unrealized promise. Following a relatively pedestrian rookie season (3.2 yards per carry), the Lions’ former first round pick was coming on strong in 2011, with 677 total yards from scrimmage through six games, including 27 receptions and an uptick in efficiency (4.6 yards per carry). Then, tragically, a brutal concussion (his third, including college) curtailed his campaign, and also kept him out of the entire 2012 season. There’s no certainty he’ll ever play again, and judging by Detroit’s recent signing of fellow ball carrier Reggie Bush, they don’t seem to believe it’s in the cards either. Frankly, I’d trade him for whatever you can get.
In a broader sense, this question could really be rewritten to the following: what’s the best way to handle players who carry significant injury risk? For example, promising Jaguars’ sophomore receiver Cecil Shorts III was experiencing a breakout 2012, only to have his season truncated due to two concussions within the span of a month. Fellow pass catchers Austin Collie and Laurent Robinson also carry extensive concussion histories, and could each be one big hit away from early retirement. Chargers’ receiver Danario Alexander has already had five knee surgeries, and despite only being tendered at the lowest level this offseason, no other teams would touch him. How much injury risk is too much?
Piggybacking, to an extent, on Doug Veatch’s piece on Rolling Back the Prices, I’d choose to cash out when a player’s value is still somewhat maximized. Even though guys like Shorts and Alexander have proven they can play, it’s impossible to accrue fantasy points from the trainer’s room. The NFL, and subsequently fantasy football, is already a transiently natured game, so why not minimize the risk you can control?
3.) In my 12-man PPR superflex keeper league, most guys choose to play two quarterbacks. Because of this, I’ll be keeping Drew Brees, but need help choosing from one of the following for my other keeper slot: Arian Foster, Trent Richardson, LeSean McCoy and AJ Green. We also start one running back, two receivers and a RB/WR FLEX. Out of these four, who do I pick? – Adam in OH
Whenever you have to make a decision between four players who are all being selected in the first round of dynasty startup drafts, it’s going to be a tough one! As I’ve done previously with similar questions, I want to work through this one moving backwards. Let’s start with the case against Arian Foster.
Foster would be my first cut for a variety of reasons. First, he’s the oldest player on the list, turning 27 in August. He’s also shown declining playmaking ability over the past two seasons, dipping from 4.9 yards per carry in 2010 to 4.4 in 2011, and then only 4.1 in 2012. He also received an incredibly high rate of usage last year, accumulating a whopping 460 touches between the regular season and playoffs. It’s been proven in the past that older players with high workloads tend to succumb to an almost immediate statistical drop-off, and Foster appears headed down the same track.
McCoy has experienced a similar statistical downturn, averaging only 4.2 yards per carry in 2012 after running the ball for 5.2 yards a pop only two years prior. His pass-catching prowess has kept his value afloat, but there’s no telling if McCoy will be utilized the same way under new head coach Chip Kelly. For that uncertainty alone, McCoy would be my next cut, and now we’re down to two.
The decision between Green and Richardson is a close one, as signified by their May ADP difference of only 4.7 spots! I don’t need to extol the virtues of Green, as he’s already viewed by some as the top overall dynasty receiver, and I listed the reasons why Richardson is nearly untouchable in last week’s Mailbag. In this case, I’m going to use your roster requirements as a tiebreaker and go with T-Rich.
According to your league settings, you only need to start 24 receivers. With the majority of owners likely keeping at least one quarterback (in some cases, possibly two), this means there should still be a plethora of pass-catching talent available during your dispersal draft. The top tier of young, workhorse running backs, conversely, falls off a metaphorical cliff after the first few players.
By keeping Richardson, you’ve locked up an elite talent for as long as your choose to reap the benefits. If you then subsequently select another pass-catching back early on (maybe even McCoy?), you have the potential to start two high-end ball carriers while other owners might not even have one. Whenever you have the ability to FLEX a player with a guaranteed weekly workload, plus pass catching as well, I think it’s a decision you have to make. Keeping Richardson helps achieve that exact scenario, so he’d be my choice.
4.) I am trying to trade for Dez Bryant ($28) in my ten-team non-PPR salary league where we start three wideouts. Would you rather give up Percy Harvin ($13) and Pierre Garcon ($1), or Cobb ($1) and Garcon for Bryant? Would you even do these trades? I also have Mike Wallace ($17) and Kenny Britt ($6). – Joe in MI
As I’ve said in Mailbags past, whenever you are trying to acquire the best player in a trade, you generally have to overpay. However, salary cap leagues add yet another variable to the equation – price! In this case, not only is Dez Bryant the most valuable piece, he comes with a significantly higher cost.
It’s for that last reason, mainly, that I’d just stand pat if I were you. Yes, Bryant gains value in a non-PPR setting due to his high rate of scoring (0.63 touchdowns per game over his career), but that shouldn’t lead to a cost 2.2 times greater than that of the next best player in this hypothetical deal, Percy Harvin. Also, though he has the look of a player on the rise, 2012 remains Bryant’s only season of consistent production, and it’s not exactly like he’s far removed from a stable pattern of knuckleheaded behavior. Having to part with a cheap asset like Pierre Garcon, who showed flashes of brilliance with quarterback Robert Griffin III at the helm last season, swings the pendulum that much farther away from making the deal.
The final sticking point, for me, is the fact that you have to start three receivers. Harvin is a bona fide stud, and Mike Wallace has shown an ability to function as a WR1, but Garcon, Randall Cobb and Kenny Britt remain largely unproven entities. Be it due to youth, injuries or persistent shenanigans, each player remains devoid of a track record of proven production. In this case, I think it’s better to “cheap out” and keep your current lot, and play the odds that enough of them will pull through to provide your team with a reliable pass catching corps.
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You can find his (typically strong and hopefully reasonable) opinions on Twitter at@EDH_27.