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 eight-team, non-PPR keeper league, we keep two players and I’m stuck between the following: CJ Spiller, Dez Bryant, Jimmy Graham, Julio Jones and LeSean McCoy. Which would be my best options out of the five? We start one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end and a FLEX, and also award three bonus points for a pass/reception/run over forty yards. – Tim in KY
The two things I immediately notice in your question are your smaller league size (and subsequent starting requirements) and non-PPR format – these combine to throw a wrench into a standard set of rankings. In regards to the former, I think it’s prudent to load up on players who can provide you a distinct positional advantage. For the latter, volume receivers and running backs with pass-catching chops lose value, but don’t get crazy – studs are still studs.
Of all the players you’re considering, the only one I see who fits both sets of requirements is Jimmy Graham. I consider him – and can say this comfortably, without exaggeration – to be the only tight end who possesses both elite ability and minimal risk. He played through a wrist injury in 2012 and also missed a game due to injury, but still easily finished as the TE1 in a standard non-PPR format. With the return of head coach Sean Payton, the sky is the limit for Graham, and he should provide you with a higher weekly floor than all of your competitors. It’s for these reasons he’d be my first keeper choice.
Determining the best option for your second keeper is decidedly more difficult.
Next to quarterback, wide receiver is arguably the deepest position in all of fantasy. So even though both Dez Bryant and Julio Jones are young studs with a proclivity for finding the end zone, I’d (very regrettably) cut both loose. If I had to guess, you will easily be able to recoup at least one of the two in the dispersal draft, and can likely still get a second-tier player like Hakeem Nicks, Roddy White or Victor Cruz later on. Again, with a smaller league, deeper positions can almost be “streamed” on a yearly basis.
We’re now left with a choice between two elite running backs, LeSean McCoy and CJ Spiller. I know it’s common practice by many to eschew the running back position due to a shorter shelf life, but ball carriers exhibit the largest positional drop-off between high-end starters and “the other guys.” So for your league setting, it makes sense to deviate from conventional wisdom.
Despite the allure of what new head coach Chip Kelly will potentially bring to McCoy and the Eagles, I’ll side with Spiller here. His value dips somewhat in a non-PPR setting, but that’s really only relative to his insane efficiency in PPR formats. Even without the PPR bonus, Spiller still scored 0.87 points per touch in 2012, besting every other top-10 running back. With an increased workload on the horizon, expect Spiller to push for top-three running back status – he and Graham will provide a great foundation for 2013 and beyond.
2.) In my 16-team, non-PPR league, I’m built to win now. I want to improve my WR3 position and have offered the Hakeem Nicks owner a trade of Antonio Brown and Danario Alexander. Do you think this is a good move, or do you see Brown being a player who may jump into that top 10-15 range now that he’s Pittsburgh’s WR1? Do you trust Nicks to finally be that top five receiver we’ve been waiting on? – Derek in TN
Virtually the entirety of the New York Giants’ offense was a giant fantasy quagmire in 2012. Eli Manning had his worst statistical season since 2008, Ahmad Bradshaw couldn’t stay healthy and Victor Cruz fell back down to earth after a record-breaking 2011 campaign. Then there was Hakeem Nicks, who followed up two WR1-level seasons with an injury-plagued debacle – he absolutely burned owners counting on him to anchor their teams’ receiving corps.
However, even with all that said, I’d be surprised if you could pull this trade off. Nicks is still only 25 years old and has already proven the ability to function as a high-end receiver. It’s hard to give up on young, skilled players with massive upside, and that rings even more true in large leagues where having as many studs as you can moves to the strategic forefront. As poor as Nicks was last year, his potential is that much greater.
Antonio Brown is a very good player, but he has yet to function as any more than a mid-range WR2 in a large league, non-PPR setting. Though it’s true he’ll likely see a greater proportion of the Steelers’ targets, he’s also shown an inability to get into the end zone during his Pittsburgh career (seven touchdowns in 38 games – 0.18 per game). Danario Alexander helps a little bit, but it’s likely he’ll need to string together 16 games of health before he accrues trade value commensurate with his skill level. So even though Nicks is an attractive buy-low candidate, I still don’t think you’re coming in strong enough.
3.) In my 12-team PPR league, I took over a very bad roster this past season. I spent most of the season just trying to gather good young players, and also managed to acquire pick 1.01 in our rookie/FA draft. In addition to the rookies, Colin Kaepernick is available, and there isn’t any trading of draft picks. I already have Drew Brees at quarterback, so should I still consider Kaepernick here? – Mike in KY
In the latter stages of 2012, the NFL world was basically Colin Kaepernick’s oyster. Subsequently, his fantasy owners were able to reap the benefits of his prolific dual-threat abilities. His hype continued well into the offseason, and even an injury to top wideout Michael Crabtree wasn’t enough to keep him from being selected as an early fifth round draft pick according to the June ADP data.
With that said, you’re already set with Drew Brees and need to focus on acquiring as many high-value assets as you can. In 12-team leagues, the ubiquity of quarterbacks with mid-level QB1 ability causes a downshift in their effectiveness as future trade chips (following the draft). Barring bye weeks and injuries, you’ll wind up leaving a ton of points on your bench on a weekly basis if you select Kaepernick.
I’d instead shift your focus to either Giovani Bernard or DeAndre Hopkins. Bernard should offer the highest PPR upside out of all the 2013 rookie ball carriers, and has already been seeing some reps at wide receiver during Bengals’ OTA’s. With only the plodding BenJarvus Green-Ellis standing in his way, Bernard could see upwards of 200 touches as a rookie. Similarly, Hopkins is stuck behind All-Pro Andre Johnson in the pecking order, but walks into a huge WR2 void in Houston. Though Johnson will likely be “the guy” for the next two to three years, Hopkins has a distinct long-term appeal. Either rookie would be a fine choice for you.
4.) My ten-team, PPR keeper league (QB/2RB/3WR/TE/FLEX) is converting into a dynasty league after this season. I can keep three of the following before the dispersal draft: Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Randall Cobb, CJ Spiller and Pierre Garcon. Do you suggest keeping the two quarterbacks and Spiller, or do have another suggestion? – Steve in CT
As you’re considering a conversion from a keeper league to a full-fledged dynasty, the players you select before the dispersal draft will likely shape the way you fill out the rest of your roster. Everyone has different strategies regarding how best to build their dynasty, but in these circumstances, I think it makes the most sense to adopt an open-minded approach. In your case, you can select three players for your squad before the dispersal draft, so why not view it in terms of the three players most worthy of early round selections?
Looking at it that way, I think we can immediately rule out two players – Kaepernick and Pierre Garcon. I hate to keep dumping on the 49ers’ young signal caller, but he just doesn’t warrant a selection in the first three rounds and isn’t even the best quarterback on your roster. Given your league settings, it just doesn’t make sense to keep two quarterbacks.
Similarly, Garcon is a talented player, but not the sort of upper echelon guy you’d want as the bedrock of your squad. Though he showed great chemistry with RGIII, he remains a health risk and doesn’t have any sort of track record of WR1 production. You should aim higher. Fortunately, you have the ability to do so.
As I’ve already mentioned, Spiller has the type of efficient upside that lends itself to inclusion amongst fantasy’s nobility – he’s a first-round pick in most every setting. Randall Cobb boasts a similar level of playmaking ability, and could very well be Aaron Rodgers’ top target in the Packers’ aerial attack. Finally, the aforementioned RGIII appears on track to return from an ACL injury and showed the ability to do more with less than Kaepernick did in 2012. This is the trio of players I’d choose to keep and they should afford you a big first step in the marathon that is dynasty football.
Follow me on Twitter @EDH_27
You can find his (typically strong and hopefully reasonable) opinions on Twitter at@EDH_27.