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-team, half-PPR league I’m still in contention and I’m trying to determine if I should trade Brandon Marshall. I’m desperate to find running back help as Chris Johnson, MJD, David Wilson and Montee Ball are currently my “best” options. I also have Josh Gordon, Justin Blackmon, and Keenan Allen at receiver. Have Gordon, Blackmon, and Allen shown enough that I should feel comfortable trading Marshall away? What kind of RB should I expect in return if I do trade him? – Matt in MA
Through seven weeks of football, the Bears’ Brandon Marshall currently sits as the overall WR5, only a year after he finished as the WR2. Though his target tally is down from 2012, he’s been more efficient with the ones he’s received, and the continued emergence of sophomore Alshon Jeffery should continue to alleviate any concerns of perpetual double coverage. Truthfully the only thing that can hold him back is the loss of quarterback Jay Cutler to a groin injury, but Marshall still managed six receptions for 75 yards with backup Josh McCown under center – bottom line, he remains locked and loaded as an elite fantasy player.
None of the trio of Josh Gordon, Justin Blackmon and Keenan Allen can say the same. Yes, each has had varying degrees of success so far this year, but they still lack the consistency of a player like Marshall. Moreover, the situations under center in both Cleveland and Jacksonville are beyond putrid, and banking on a combination of garbage time and volume isn’t always the best recipe for success.
However, each of the above players can claim one thing that Marshall can’t, which is that their dynasty stocks are still on the rise. Each player is 23 years old or younger, and each has already managed to flash WR1/WR2 level skills. Given this blend of youth and talent, if you were to trade one of your young pass catchers now, you’d inarguably be selling low based on the value their long-term potential will one day command.
So even though I’m not necessarily comfortable with where the act would leave your pass catching corps, trading Marshall is the right move. Your running back situation is abysmal, and you need help there if you want to contend. In that spirit I’d reach out to the owners of older, but proficient ball carriers such as Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch and Arian Foster. Any of those players would vastly upgrade the position, and help mitigate the loss of one of fantasy’s top receiving talents.
2. What is your general opinion on the outlook for Kendall Hunter, both this year and forward? The organization and coaching staff seems committed to the run game, but I’m not sure if he’s the obvious replacement for Frank Gore. I’m trying to decide if he’s worth hanging onto in my 10-team, non-PPR keeper league. – Brian in MT
I’m beginning to think the 49ers’ Frank Gore is the Highlander of running backs. Think about it – he’s 30 years old with over 2,000 career carries, but refuses to slow down and, well, act his age. Moreover, while Gore’s getting stronger, San Francisco’s other ball carriers can’t stay healthy enough to pose a threat to him. So I guess while I’m not saying Gore is a centuries old immortal Scotsman, I’m not not saying it either.
Movie reference chicanery aside, it’s an eventuality that Gore will one day run into a figurative brick wall, and the 49ers will need a younger replacement. Could third-year pro Kendall Hunter be the answer? Thus far, I don’t think we’ve seen enough to believe that’s the case.
Standing at 5’7” and weighing 199 pounds, Hunter is a bit on the small side. Therefore it’s a big question as to whether or not his frame is built to withstand the pounding a feature back would take, especially in a run-heavy offense like San Francisco’s, and in a rugged division like the NFC West. Yes, his production through three years has been solid (4.5 yards per carry), but that’s come on an average of only 6.4 carries per game. As of yet he hasn’t had more than 112 carries in a season, and the ‘Niners haven’t seemed inclined to increase that workload.
Of bigger concern is the potential emergence of rookie Marcus Lattimore. At 5’11” and 221 pounds, Lattimore is built to shoulder the load, and was one of the best collegiate running backs in the nation before he succumbed to one of the more gruesome knee injuries you’ll ever see. 2013 has been a pseudo “redshirt” season for Lattimore, but he’s expected to be all systems go in 2014.
While it’s fair to wonder if Lattimore will return to his former glory, Hunter hasn’t exactly been making a strong case for being the same running back as he was before an Achilles tear ended his 2012 campaign. He’s been running well below his career average so far this year, and has shown little to nothing as a pass catcher out of the backfield – in other words, if 2013 is an audition, Hunter won’t be receiving a callback. So given the totality of the situation, I think you’d be best off exploring other avenues when it comes to your final keeper selections.
3. Will Josh Freeman bring Greg Jennings back to fantasy relevance, or is Jennings officially done for fantasy purposes? – Michael in CA
Though it would be disingenuous to suggest the Vikings’ Greg Jennings is “done,” it’s been quickly proven that being the top dog in Minnesota is a significantly worse situation than functioning as “just a guy” in the Green Bay offense. Through seven weeks (and six games – the Vikings have already had their bye week) Jennings sits as the overall PPR WR45, averaging a mere 11.5 points per game. The downgrade from Aaron Rodgers to the Unholy Triad of Suck (nickname is mine, trademark pending) – Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman – has been swift and vicious, and owners have been left scratching their heads.
Of pertinence to your question is the arrival of Freeman, who was unceremoniously dismissed by Tampa Bay and subsequently picked up by Minnesota only a few short weeks ago. While he wasn’t exactly anointed as some kind of savior, the popular thinking was that he couldn’t be any worse than what the Vikings already had. Unfortunately for purveyors of that viewpoint, Monday night happened.
Freeman was astoundingly awful, completing only 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception. While it’s fair to argue that he didn’t have enough time to assimilate himself into the offense, the bigger problem was Freeman’s accuracy, or lack thereof. He constantly misfired, missing open targets in every way, shape and form. On the night, he averaged an absolutely pathetic 0.179 fantasy points per passing attempt (PPA). To put that into perspective, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is averaging 0.790 PPA on the year – this means on a per play basis Freeman is 4.4 times worse than the fantasy gold standard.
I’ll give Freeman some benefit of the doubt – maybe it was because he was too excited, or perhaps because he was shoehorned into running the plays that were called (it was stated he wasn’t allowed to audible). He certainly can’t be any worse, right? Regardless, if this type of play becomes a trend, Jennings’ days as a fantasy asset are probably over. Even if Freeman (or Ponder…or Cassel) improves, the sad truth is Jennings isn’t in Green Bay anymore.
4. In my 12-man PPR league, I have a 4-3 record on a team with Randall Cobb and Danny Amendola as my best receivers. When Cobb went down, I traded Amendola and Tony Gonzalez for a late first round pick. I also just traded Marshawn Lynch for Doug Martin. Basically I decided to mail in the 2013 season to build for next year and beyond. How did I do? – John in TX
In a vacuum I like the trades you made. The Patriots’ Danny Amendola has lived up (or is it down?) to his injury-prone reputation, so shipping him off with a soon-to-be-retiring Tony Gonzalez for a future first round pick could be viewed as a shrewd move. I think you could’ve gotten a higher first round pick, or perhaps an additional third rounder thrown in, but that’s what happens when you sell low.
I also like the swapping of Marshawn Lynch for Doug Martin. As we all now know, Martin is likely out for the year with a torn labrum in his shoulder, but even despite a slow start he was still popularly viewed as a top-three dynasty asset. He’ll be healthy and ready to go next year, and you should now have many remaining years of RB1-level output from the Muscle Hamster.
The only real problem I have with your flurry of trade activity is that you had a winning record! Standing at 4-3, I have no doubt you were above the league average, and potentially looking down the barrel of a playoff spot. As we all know, one simply needs to make it to the promised land – from there anything is possible. So instead of burning your roster to the ground, I think you could’ve built around Lynch and Gonzalez, and perhaps even traded Cobb to get some more help this year.
However, with that said there’s nothing worse than residing in the “mushy middle” of your league’s hierarchy. Only one team can win it all every year, and if you didn’t view yourself as a serious contender then it made sense to part with declining assets in Lynch and Gonzo. And at the end of the day, the only person who can make that call is you – if your goal was to forgo this year and focus on 2014 and beyond, I think you’re off to a great start.
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