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’m doing a 16-team PPR startup draft in a couple weeks and I traded my second round pick (as well as a ninth) for an extra third and fourth to stockpile more talent. I’ve been considering using the earlier fourth to stash Percy Harvin, then waiting a couple rounds to pick up Michael Crabtree, then maybe a couple more and grabbing Jeremy Maclin as well. This would put my team this year at a severe disadvantage, possibly allowing me a great rookie draft pick, then being in a great position for next year. The questions I have are: does this seem like a legitimate strategy? If so, where do you recommend taking each receiver? – Don in UT
Before I delve into your question, I’d like to point out that I absolutely love the trade you made. Losing a second round pick is tough, especially in a deeper setting, but having four picks in the third and fourth rounds (five overall picks in the first four rounds) affords you the opportunity to fill out your starting lineup sooner, while still obtaining quality players. This was a great way to start off in a new league.
Moving onto your strategic design, I’m truthfully conflicted. Two of the main dynasty tenets I live by are as follows:
- In deeper leagues, you win by having as many studs as possible.
- It’s possible to build a team that can compete both now, and in the future. Therefore there’s no reason to throw in the towel in year one.
I’m well aware that some may disagree with tenet number two, and that’s fine – everyone uses differing tactics. In a league with 15 other owners, however, betting on future turnover ultimately enhancing your roster is a dangerous proposition.
As such I would probably avoid Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin. If either fell to you at a reasonable price I could see pouncing, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to acquire them. The probability of recovering from a full Achilles’ tear is fuzzy at best, and there are no guarantees Crabtree will return as the same player – I’d rather he be someone else’s problem. As for Maclin, he’s shown little more than WR3 ability during his four years in the league, and is now dealing with a second ACL tear. In my opinion, your treatment of his draft status will have little to nothing to do with your team’s future either way.
With that said, I think there’s a way for your strategy to work, while also leaving you as an immediate contender. Because of the trade you made, you’ve left yourself in a prime position to grab a stud at a relative fraction of the cost. I’m talking, of course, about the Seahawks’ Percy Harvin.
No, Harvin isn’t going to help you out this year due to a hip injury. Regardless, he’s only 25 years old, and his future remains bright in a Russell Wilson-led Seattle offense. For someone who flourished with the mediocre Christian Ponder at the helm, this is an important distinction to make.
Also, for all the hand wringing about Harvin being “injury prone,” he’s at least shown an ability to play through nagging injuries, despite this current run of major afflictions. He will return full-strength potentially as early as late 2013, and as a near-lock for WR1 ability in a PPR setting, the juice is worth the squeeze. If you’re able to grab Harvin while filling out the rest of your roster with players who can help you now, both your present and future will be bright.
2. Our league has 24 roster spots, 16 of which you keep between years, making it harder to stash developmental players. I drafted Da’Rick Rogers and Rob Housler, but thus far I’ve seen little to suggest I should keep either of them. My team is very strong and definitely in a “win now” mode. Given our unusual keeper rules and their lack of performance should I drop these two and focus on possibly getting waiver wire DST’s or other players with potential? I guess a larger question is this; when do you know to cut and run? – Kevin in MD
First and foremost, unless your scoring system is highly deviational, I wouldn’t drop a player with any discernable upside in order to upgrade your defense. Many have embraced the emerging school of thought regarding “streaming” certain positions, and DST’s are a prime example of when to utilize this philosophy. This year in particular, you could potentially get through the season shuffling through the defenses opposing teams such as San Diego, Oakland, Jacksonville and the New York Jets – depending on the depth of the waiver wire, streaming DST’s is indeed a viable option.
Getting to the heart of the matter, I would have no problem dropping “Buffalo’s” Da’Rick Rogers. Before you ask, the encapsulation of the word Buffalo in quotation marks wasn’t an accident – beat writers have speculated that he might not make the Bills’ finals roster, and it’s possible Rogers will be without a team in a matter of a few short days. For a player who went undrafted primarily due to his off-the-field issues, this is yet another massive red flag. If you drop him and he winds up flourishing, so be it – with limited roster space, there’s only so much room for risk.
When it comes to the Cardinals’ Rob Housler, I view him through an entirely different lens. He’s the unquestioned starter in an improving offense, and unlike Rogers has actually put something on film at the NFL level. He’s also a huge physical presence, offering the rare blend of size and speed that’s so coveted in today’s NFL. No, the preseason hasn’t been kind to the young tight end, and he even suffered an ankle injury during the week three “dress rehearsal,” but I believe the future remains bright for a player of his talent.
Regarding the bigger picture as to when it’s appropriate to give up on a player, that’s a truly personal analysis, and will also likely depend on the scope of your league. Some of the qualifiers that are important to me are character concerns, depth chart status and recurrent injuries. I’m likely to be less inclined to cut slack for knuckleheads, especially if they’re bound for the practice squad!
More subjectively, I look at how often I find myself needing to make excuses for a player who hasn’t performed. When it gets to the point that I’m writing a novel instead of a series of bullet statements, it might be time to purge my roster. This could take weeks or it could take years, but again though, things like this will always come down to every owner’s personal judgment – the best advice I can give is to trust your gut.
3. In my 12-team PPR league, we keep two players. I’m choosing between Doug Martin, CJ Spiller, Matt Forte, Jimmy Graham and AJ Green. I also pick third in the ensuing snake-style dispersal draft. Who do you recommend I keep, and what player/positions should I look for as my picks come around? We start one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers and a tight end. – Vince in NY
I’ve always felt that when it comes to leagues where you only keep a small number of players, it’s best to approach it with a re-draft mentality. As such, I’d want to keep the players who have the greatest likelihood of producing immediately, and will only use age as a tiebreaker. With only 24 total keepers, you wouldn’t be doing yourself much of a favor by keeping someone like David Wilson, who could flourish down the line, but might not be a huge factor this year.
Fortunately for your team (and unfortunately for your decision-making process), you have five players who all offer substantial upside in 2013, making it tougher to pare down the list. Matt Forte would be the only obvious cut (and I use that term loosely as he’s primed to explode in Marc Trestman’s pass-happy offense), since he’s a bit older, and has seen more usage than the other players. From there, it gets trickier.
I’d give AJ Green the next chop, but this obviously has nothing to do with his transcendent talent. The receiver position is just much deeper than running back, and only 24 pass catchers will be starting each week in your format. You should still be able to accumulate significant value later in the draft.
In your case the last cut stings the deepest, because it involves getting rid of arguably the biggest positional upgrade in the game, Jimmy Graham. Though I’m a strong proponent of Graham, and have even advocated keeping him in similar circumstances, the possibility of keeping two of the top PPR running backs in Doug Martin and CJ Spiller is just too tantalizing to pass up. Your ball carrying corps will be the envy of the league, and moreover, both players are still relatively young. You’ll be able to pick up a serviceable mid-range TE1 somewhere down the line.
Should you choose to go this route, I’d attempt to pick back up one of Green or Graham if they’re still available at the third pick. As this is technically the range of the “25th through 27th” best players, this is would be an above-optimal range to snag either. On the chance they both get snapped up, I’d take the next best receiver and then continue to build up your running backs and pass catchers, ignoring age and waiting on the deeper positions of quarterback and tight end. Doing so would be a great start to your draft, and give you the opportunity to win both now and in the future.
4. In my 16-team, non-PPR league I have Arian Foster. Ben Tate is not available and probably going to another team next season. Who is the better running back to pick up, Dennis Johnson or Cierre Wood? – Dave in IN
Truthfully, this is a situation I’m avoiding in every league I’m in. Arian Foster has a long history of heavy usage, and has only just recently been activated from the training camp PUP list. It’s believed he’ll be available for the first game of the season, but once again there isn’t any certainty here. Given how his yards-per-carry has dipped in three successive years, and his efficiency has fallen off a metaphorical cliff, it’s folly to suggest he’s a lead-pipe lock for RB1 status in 2013, or ever again.
Should Foster break down, the next man up is Ben Tate, who flashed game-breaking potential in 2011 before injuries derailed his 2012 campaign. As you mentioned, this is his last year under contract in Houston, but I wouldn’t be so sure he’ll be off to greener pastures in 2014. Foster’s contract afforded the Texans a large amount of wiggle room, as he isn’t actually guaranteed any money after this year. If Tate shows well this season, it could be Foster who’s granted his walking papers.
After that, you mentioned a pair of undrafted free agents, Dennis Johnson and Cierre Wood. Early in camp, Johnson appeared to have the upper hand in the battle for RB3 duties, only to have Wood outperform him thus far in the preseason. It’s possible only one of the two will make the final roster, and thus far the race has been too close to call.
Ironically enough, the player you might want to roster hasn’t even been mentioned yet – Deji Karim. The 26-year old Karim is no stranger to the AFC South, starting his career with the Jaguars before being held off the stat sheet entirely in a 2012 stint with the Colts. Once highly though of by the Jacksonville brass, Karim proceeded to face-plant when given a relatively extended look in 2011. Proving that he was no closer to being Maurice Jones-Drew’s heir-apparent than you or I, he was released and subsequently forgotten, only to resurface in the Houston backfield.
With an impressive preseason thus far, Karim is rumored to have the inside track to be Foster’s backup’s backup. But with a pile of evidence suggesting he’s “just a guy,” do you really want to invest in him? If neither Wood nor Johnson can beat him out, can they be considered potentially valuable commodities? Can we say with any kind of confidence that the Texans won’t throw a wrench into the whole thing and select a ball carrier in the 2014 NFL Draft? As I initially stated, after Foster and Tate, the whole thing is a quagmire best avoided. The Houston backfield is as clear as mud, and you’d be better served shifting your sights elsewhere.
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