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 10-man non-PPR league, I’m looking to upgrade my number-two running back, as I have CJ Spiller as my number-one guy heading into the season. Who would you rather have – Reggie Bush or Matt Forte? – Jim in ME
This is a tough one, as there are quite a few similarities between the Bears’ Matt Forte and the Lions’ Reggie Bush. Firstly, both are aging players, with Bush recently turning 28, and Forte hitting that same number come December. Secondly, both have played integral roles in the passing game. During his career, Forte sports an average of 4.7 receptions and 31 receiving yards per game, while, for his part, Bush checks in with 4.1 receptions and 30 receiving yards. It’s true that this advantage is mitigated by your non-PPR format, but it’s nonetheless a small comfort to have that additional, locked-in weekly production.
Where Forte begins to separate himself is with the combination of workload and durability. In five years, he’s only missed a total of five games, four of which came during the 2011 season. During that time, he’s coupled his receiving prowess with an average of nearly 17 carries per game. Over the course of 75 games, this heavy usage has led to an average of over 100 total yards per game. Forte’s biggest drawback is he just doesn’t score, as he’s attained only 35 career touchdowns – however, there’s something to be said for a player whose fantasy relevance isn’t predicated upon a reliance of trips to the end zone.
Though Bush has shown better health in recent years, he still only averages 13 games per season dating back to his rookie year in 2006. Workload has also been an issue – even during his heavy-volume years with the Dolphins, Bush’s 14 totes per game is a light number for a player who only averages 4.3 yards per carry for his career. In the Lions’ pass-heavy offense, it’s unreasonable to expect that number to increase.
For the totality of these reasons, Forte would be my choice. Though it’s easy to be tempted by Bush’s shift to Detroit’s wide-open offense, new Bears’ coach Marc Trestman is a sharp offensive mind in his own right. Forte has proven the ability to shoulder the load and retain his health and should dominate carries in the Windy City yet again in 2013.
2.) I own the 1.03 in my 12-team, PPR-league draft. I would usually go best player available, but I’m just torn. I could use another running back, but at the same time someone like Tavon Austin or DeAndre Hopkins would look good as my WR2/3 (we start two RB’s and three WR’s). If I know the guys in my league I’d say Giovani Bernard and Le’Veon Bell or Hopkins will be gone. If you were picking there who would you take? – Alan in NJ
Whenever I look at questions like these, there are three important factors I consider – talent, league size and starting lineup requirements. Truthfully, I don’t see a gigantic difference in talent between the players who should be available. I have DeAndre Hopkins and Tavon Austin as my top two receivers, but as you mentioned, there’s a decent chance Hopkins will already be gone. Gio Bernard is my favorite running back in this class, and his value increases even further in a PPR setting. I view him as being in a tier unto himself, but alas, you believe he’ll be selected as well.
So given that the “best player available” method of drafting doesn’t show a seismic difference in player values, let’s next look at your league requirements. With 12 teams that each start three receivers, a total of 36 receivers will be starting every week. Though pass catchers are somewhat easier to find than running backs, having to only start two ball carriers each week makes it easier to pass on the position, especially considering the overall mediocrity of the 2013 class.
Given all these factors, I’d take the best receiver available. Much like Bernard, I consider Hopkins to be in a class of his own. If he’s still up for grabs when it comes to pick 1.03, he’d be an easy choice for me. However, if he’s already selected, I think Austin would be my decision. He could very well wind up as the most-targeted 2013 rookie and displays a unique blend of speed and athleticism. I don’t buy the comparisons to Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb, but given the PPR format, you could do far worse for your WR3.
3.) I have Arian Foster on my roster and have received a trade offering me Ben Tate and Dustin Keller for Zac Stacy and Taylor Thompson. My other running backs include Ahmad Bradshaw, Bernard Pierce and Jonathan Dwyer. Should I consider handcuffing Foster with Tate and possibly losing a stud in Stacy? – Doug in WI
I’ve previously written about the concept of “recency bias,” and how it might cloud our collective fantasy football judgment. A perfect example of this is the Redskins’ Alfred Morris. Morris was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and all he did was finish second in the league in rushing as a rookie last season. Now we all want the next Alfred Morris, so we’re willing to take guys like Zac Stacy and Latavius Murray and project greatness onto them. Unfortunately, the odds are against us.
The NFL scouting community certainly isn’t infallible, but their years of experience definitively trump our amateur efforts. That’s not meant as a slight to those of us who watch film and follow the NFL Combine, but the fact remains – professionals are professionals. It’s in that spirit I’d advise you to slow your roll on the 2013 sixth rounder in Stacy.
The Rams’ running back corps is a quagmire best left avoided. Even with the departure of veteran Steven Jackson, Stacy will still be forced to contend with sophomores Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson. Neither showed much in 2012, but they both still have more familiarity with the playbook and Pead is a former second round draft pick. Stacy might receive the goal-line work, but that’s arguably his best case scenario – there’s not really anything to suggest he’ll be a future stud.
Ben Tate, on the other hand, has already shown the type of ability to suggest he has a prominent fantasy future. Playing second fiddle to Arian Foster, he rushed for 942 yards on only 175 carries in 2011, temporarily earning the label of best backup ball carrier in the NFL. Injuries derailed his 2012 campaign, but he’s reportedly healthy and ready to contribute again this year.
Foster will still be “the guy” in Houston, but he’s coming off a season that included a whopping 460 touches (including playoffs). Workloads of that magnitude have proven to not be kind to older players, so it’s no guarantee he’ll make it through the season unscathed. In fact, he’s already dealing with the lingering effects of a calf strain suffered during organized team activities. Tate should get his shot in 2013, and even if it doesn’t translate to immediate fantasy relevance, he’s a free agent at the conclusion of the season. I’ll take his upside over Stacy’s any day of the week.
4.) I’m thinking about giving up Johnathan Franklin and next year’s third round rookie pick for Ahmad Bradshaw in my 12-team PPR dynasty league. We only get three rookie picks each year, so is this good value since I’m in a “win now” mindset? – Brian in Montreal
Ahmad Bradshaw presents an interesting dilemma for dynasty owners. On one hand, his recent signing by the Colts is suggestive of their intent to bestow upon him primary ball carrier status. Incumbent Vick Ballard had a relatively pedestrian rookie season, failing to average 4.0 yards per carry, and being rendered functionally useless in the passing game. Bradshaw possesses playmaking ability Ballard lacks and his transcendent pass blocking will only help keep him on the field.
On the other hand (or is it foot?), Bradshaw is still in a walking boot from his recent surgery and has missed six games over the past two seasons due to injury. The Colts only signed him to a one-year “prove it” deal, and this was after months of Bradshaw languishing in free-agent irrelevance. Clearly, there wasn’t a single team willing to commit to the former Giant long-term.
Given that last fact, I’d be wary of trading for Bradshaw. He has the skills to help push you over the top, but that’s predicated upon him staying on the field. Though Bradshaw could surprise us all and put together a top-flight, healthy season, foot injuries are highly concerning for running backs – all these teams were scared off for a reason.
On the other side of the coin sits Johnathan Franklin. He probably won’t help you win this year, and in fact, he wasn’t even the first running back drafted by the Packers, as they selected Eddie Lacy with their second round pick. However, as a potential third down back in one of the most potent offenses in the league, Franklin offers upside to owners who are patient – think of him as the Shane Vereen to Lacy’s Stevan Ridley. It might take a few years for him to develop into a weekly fantasy play, but for that potential alone, I’d set my sights higher than the unpredictable Bradshaw.
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