The DLF Mailbag


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

Eric Hardter

Eric Hardter

Senior Writer at Dynasty League Football
Eric is a Boston College chemistry grad school survivor with a minor in dynasty football, as well as the DLF Mailman and Podcast analyst.He prefers to utilize both statistics and sarcasm whenever possible, believes in process over results and thinks "Hot Takes" are the scourge of the fantasy landscape.

You can find his (typically strong and hopefully reasonable) opinions on Twitter at@EDH_27.
Eric Hardter

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  1. ChiefsHonk

    July 8, 2013 at 7:23 am

    uggggh it is virtually impossible to aquire Jimmy Graham in my dynasty leagues. But i do have him in 1 league from the start up draft and he was somewhat of an enigma last year. He was the number 1 TE in fantasy but you wouldn’t have known it if you were counting on him every week. He had 2 100yd games, 1 of which was in week 17 and fantasy void. He only had 1 multiple TD game. Gronk was on pace to beat Jimmy by a landslide until he got hurt, and Witten was the TE that won games for you last year. I truly believe that Jimmy is still the TE to own in dynasty and your statement that he “possesses both elite ability and minimal risk” is spot on. Oh yeah and I have Spiller in that league too woohoo!

    • Eric Hardter

      July 8, 2013 at 8:28 am

      Thanks Chiefs. As a Graham owner (granted in my redraft league), it was definitely frustrating. However, all signs are pointing up. He had a wrist injury that required surgery, but it’s said he’s already fully healed. Sean Payton is back calling the shots. Most importantly, with the Hernandez arrest and the Gronk surgery, he stands in a tier to himself. Now might be the lowest you can buy him for…

      • John Dodson

        July 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

        Fully agree on all signs pointing to Jimmy as the #1 dynasty TE. Oh yeah, he’s also in a contract year. As if he needed any more upward-pointing indicators…

      • John Anderson

        July 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm

        Or is now the time to trade him for the farm?

        • ChiefsHonk

          July 10, 2013 at 6:02 am

          I have been offered up to 4 1st round picks but i just can not part with him. Jimmy, AJ Green, and Spiller are my foundation in that particular league….now if I could only get a QB!

  2. Cy23

    July 8, 2013 at 7:50 am

    In all of my leagues, Colin K. is worth a lot more than the 1.01. Also, I prefer him to RGKnee due to the injury concerns.

    For the first question regarding him, I would definitely pick Colin at 1.01 and then look to trade him or Brees. It says you can’t trade draft picks, not players.

    For the second question, I agree with Spiller/Cobb as the top 2, so it comes down to whether you like RG3 or Colin. I prefer Colin, myself.

    And someone traded Nicks for Danario + stuff in one of my leagues this offseason. I was pissed.

    • Eric Hardter

      July 8, 2013 at 8:30 am

      Cy, I was basing my answer off June’s ADP data, where Bernard, Ball, Bell and Lacy are all being selected before Kaep (the ADP data is also generated from a 12-team, 1QB league). With the QB position being devalued, what if he can’t find a good trade partner? He already has Brees, who should be good for another 3-5 QB1 seasons, so I’d rather go with one of the young stud RB’s or WR’s…

  3. Chris in Chuck

    July 8, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Regarding question #1 above:
    I disagree with nothing you wrote about Jimmy Graham but I would keep LeSean McCoy and CJ Spiller. RBs who score consistently are incredibly difficult to find in any format. While not a PPR league — TDs and passing yardage both still count — and both McCoy and Spiller should score as Top 8 backs regardless of format.

    Also, and this is dependent on the league, I would expect others to keep RBs. Therefore the number of replacement RBs available would likely be very low. If we look out at what is available in an 8 team league after 12 RBs are off the table, there is a very large drop in relative value.

    To me:
    McCoy + Dennis Pitta > Lamar Miller + Jimmy Graham

    • Eric Hardter

      July 8, 2013 at 8:35 am

      I suppose it’ll come down to who the other owners keep. While I agree on the RB drop-off, depending on his draft position, he will likely be able to draft a RB1 caliber guy in the first round to pair with Spiller. However, there really is only one risk-free elite TE, and that’s Graham. Even with an injury in a down year, he was still the best out there. I’d rather have his upside, as putting Graham in your lineup is like having a WR at the TE position – it’s almost cheating!

  4. Derek

    July 8, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I actually pulled my offer for Nicks. His injuries scare me to death and I also see Brown as a potential Cruz like WR. He was hurt most of last season w an ankle problem, huge for a WR that depends on his quickness. D.Thomas and R.Cobb are 1&2, so I like Brown and D.A better as a #3 than Nicks. I also have pick 1.04 which I can grab Austin or Hopkins. And by the way, I got the feeling the Nicks owner was going to do it, he had nothing behind Nicks except M.Austin!

    • Brad

      July 8, 2013 at 9:44 am

      Make the trade then draft your insurance for a Nicks injury. Just my opinion.

    • Eric Hardter

      July 8, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      If he’s willing to take it, I think you need to pull the trigger here. Neither DX nor Brown have elite ability – Nicks does.

      • cbryantc

        July 8, 2013 at 5:54 pm

        DAx Does IMO. Id Keep Both Of Them And Trade Brown To The Pitt Fan Half Way Through The Season. And No Telling Who Is Throwing To Nicks Next Season.

        Stafford Dalton, R Bush, Spiller, Ivory, L Miller, Garcon, Cruz, Brown, Dx, Vereen, Leshoure, Torrey S, Bryce Brown, Nick Foles, Kendall H, H Miller, Pettigrew, J Stew, M Sanu. Hope Stafford rebounds. Wish I Had Enough To Get Graham, He Is The Difference Maker In Most Leagues When Healthy.

  5. Eric

    July 8, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Re: Question 1

    Why even bother with that league? The cumulative starting rosters of the league feature 8 QBs, 16 RBs, 16 WRs, 8 TEs, and 8 FLEX.

    The only talent in winning that league is getting lucky that your guys don’t get injured.

    • Brad

      July 8, 2013 at 9:13 am

      Because…him and his league mates have an interest in it? Just because you prefer a different format doesn’t mean they have to! *rolls eyes*

  6. Pete

    July 8, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I just traded Jimmy Graham for Forte/Bowe/2014 1st. I like the deal for me because I am a high supporter of Bowe in a Reid offense. This is also a 2TE league but I like what I got.

    • Eric Hardter

      July 8, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Some might criticize because they’re scared away by age, but that’s a shortsighted approach – I like the deal for you. Graham is a beast, no doubt, but both Forte and Bowe are due for upticks in production due to the coaching changes. Your trade partner sold them at precisely the wrong time – it’s always prudent to let players accrue value, especially when they’re walking into better situations. You got two starters for one, and also a coveted 2014 pick to boot, nicely done!

      • ManuManu

        July 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm

        In a two TE league, I think Jimmy Graham is basically untouchable. But then again, I’m not high on Forte or Bowe.

  7. Robbo

    July 8, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Was just offered graham and Bradford for Matt Ryan…Ryan won me a championship last year so I’m very hesitant to pull the trigger. What would u do

    • NFL247

      July 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Probably pass since Ryans floor may be Bradfords ceiling.

    • Eric Hardter

      July 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      If we’re talking about a smaller 1QB league, this is an easy accept for me! What is your league size, and what are the starting requirements?

      • Robbo

        July 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        10 person per league. U can start 2 abs and I already have cutler. Not sure how confident I’ll feel going into the season with those 2 guys. I also have pick 1.3….. I could take EJ or Geno for insurance in case one breaks out but I feel that’s way to early. I’m more interested in Bernard or lacy.

        • Eric Hardter

          July 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm

          Yeah, Superflex changes things. I’d just hang tight then.

  8. German Cowboys

    July 8, 2013 at 10:38 am

    i agree 100%. make the trade. Nicks is a beast , if healthy and he seems to be now. in your format, you got enough FA to manage a Nicks injury if happens.
    Brown is good, but who is sure how the Steelers Offense will do? bad O-Line, which makes Big Ben run for his life , he never played 16 games in recent years.. Wallace gone, only Sanders to take pressure away from Brown , plus Heath Miller nursing a major Injury, taking away another short and intermidate weapon , so no match up nightmare for opponent D. Rookie RB, who is overhyped in fantasy circels ( very nice situation indeed , but he dances alot around defenders and likes to take it to the outside, see college tapes, he won’t be able to do it with his average speed in a faster NFL world). The Steelers Offense does not scare me.
    D. Alexander, is good , but himself comes with high injury risk. Besides who considers the current Chargers Offense being explosive enough to make Alexander a stud over 16 games, he is a nice fil in guy, not more. Besides V. Brown is coming back ,could steal targets from him.

    Nicks for Brown and Alexander sounds very nice for me. Run and do the deal.

    • Eric Hardter

      July 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks Cowboys – I share your opinion completely. I like Antonio Brown, but I just don’t see the upside relative to a guy like Nicks. Large leagues boil down to how many studs you have, and Nicks is the only player in that deal with stud potential.

  9. Mike in KY

    July 9, 2013 at 11:52 am

    RE: Question #3

    Assuming trading rules are changed prior to the draft as currently being discussed, would it be a good strategy to trade brees and take kap at 1.01? that’s the thinking right now

    what kind of players/draft picks should we target for brees?

    • ChiefsHonk

      July 10, 2013 at 6:11 am

      Don’t do it, this is the year to own Saints fanatasy players. Last year was the year to own 49ers. I have Kaep in 2 dynasty leagues. 1 league i have Kaep and Luck in which I like Kaep to start this year and Luck next year and moving forward. The other league I have Peyton starting and Kaep + Russell Wilson on the bench. I have been shopping Kaep around because I think he has more value than Wilson but I like Wilson better as a long term QB. The best offer I ever got for Kaep was Witten and a 2nd. I also tried to trade my 1.01 for Kaep in another league and the guy rejected it so apparently he is worth more than that.

      • ChiefsHonk

        July 10, 2013 at 6:13 am

        Just to add, I don’t think anyone that has Brees as a starting QB would trade him straight up for Kaep….I know I wouldn’t.

        • Mike in KY

          July 10, 2013 at 6:38 am

          Thanks for the input. I don’t look at it as trading Brees for Kap straight up. I wouldn’t do that either. I was hoping to get rb/wr help. My rbs are lacking.

  10. JBrown

    July 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Eric, Regarding question 3. I also have the 1.01 in my rookie/free agent draft in a PPR league. Was a bit surprised you chose those two over Tavon Austin. What is the reason you think those two will be better if you don’t mind me asking.

  11. archie

    July 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm

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