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 12-team, non-PPR league my team needs receivers very badly right now, with Reggie Wayne being out for the season and Danny Amendola always hurt. My running backs on the other hand are good, including Marshawn Lynch, Giovani Bernard and Knowshon Moreno. I am considering a trade involving Lynch for Josh Gordon and a second round rookie draft pick next year. I think I would be comfortable starting Bernard and Moreno every week but would like a second opinion. We start two running backs and two wide receivers each week. – Ray in NJ
Despite a seemingly plum matchup with the moribund St. Louis Rams, Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch disappointed owners this past Monday with an atypical stat-line of eight carries for 23 yards and no touchdowns. However, even with the down week, Lynch stands as the overall non-PPR RB3. So suffice it to say, if you were to trade Lynch you’d take massive hits to both your starting lineup, as well as your overall depth.
The Bengals Gio Bernard, currently the non-PPR RB13, will have his fair share of ups and downs and unpredictable workloads, but is a good fit as a RB2. However, he’s undoubtedly been languishing on your bench, as both Lynch and Denver’s Knowshon Moreno represent two of fantasy’s best players in 2013. While your roster will be more susceptible to both injuries and bye weeks (neither the Bengals nor the Broncos have had their week off yet), Gio’s points weren’t doing you any good on a weekly basis.
With that said, the most important part of this deal is the player you’re receiving. Cleveland’s Josh Gordon, a 6’4”, 225-pound mountain of a pass catcher with 4.50-second speed in the 40-yard dash, has already asserted himself as one of fantasy’s fastest rising players. Despite missing the first two games of the season due to suspension, Gordon has already climbed the ranks and resides as the overall WR13, as well as the WR6 in terms of points per game. At only 22 years of age, he should only continue to improve.
The only thing that gives me pause is your league dynamic, which dictates that on any given week there will be 24 running backs and receivers alike thrust into starting lineups. As the shallower position, this should place a greater emphasis on ball carriers relative to their receiving counterparts, and to give up a top-flight option at the position should command an equal or greater return. Fortunately, with Gordon and the second round pick, you’re getting just that and likely strengthening your starting lineup for years to come.
2. In my 10-man PPR league I am in desperate need of a running back. I am loaded at receiver with Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones, Victor Cruz, Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown, Eric Decker and DeAndre Hopkins. I am considering trading Cruz or Jones for at least one running back, and I am interested in trading for Le’Veon Bell and/or Frank Gore. What would be a good value for Cruz or Jones, or am I just crazy to consider this and should hold off on doing a trade at this point? – Phil in MO
While I agree with the premise of your conundrum, I disagree with your means of potentially solving the problem. In other words, though I approve of utilizing your depth at the receiver position in order to address other needs, I don’t like your choices of trade bait. Let’s start with the Falcons’ Julio Jones.
As everyone not living under a rock knows by now, Jones was recently placed on the injured reserve list due to complications with a prior foot injury. But in the five games preceding that designation, he was functioning as fantasy’s most prolific receiver. So coupling his age and elite talent with the fact that you’re deep enough to trade a healthy player and not miss a beat, why would you voluntarily rid yourself of one of the game’s best pass catchers? Unless you have no other option, Jones remains a dynasty’s preeminent stash.
I would also want to keep the Giants’ Victor Cruz, but this is due to the fact that he is helping you now. Currently slotted in as the PPR WR8, I have no doubt is a weekly starter on your team. Moreover, his off-season contract ensures he’ll continue to function as quarterback Eli Manning’s most-targeted receiver for years to come, all but guaranteeing his place in the league’s receiving hierarchy will remain unchanged.
The players I’d choose to offer up are the Steelers’ Antonio Brown and the Broncos’ Eric Decker, with the main reason being the likelihood of sustainability. In Brown’s case, he’s on track to record an astronomical 128 receptions this year, but much of this has been due to Pittsburgh constantly playing from behind. It would also be a minor miracle for Brown to continue corralling 77% of his targets, and this aberrational efficiency screams “sell high” to me.
With Decker, my concerns are more for 2014 and beyond. His contract is up at the end of the season, and with decisions to be made with fellow receiver Demaryius Thomas and running back Knowshon Moreno, it’s no lock he’ll return to the Mile High city. Should he leave it’s easy to imagine a downturn in production with any quarterback not named Peyton Manning at the helm, so as you can spare him I would put Decker on the market before all others.
In return I’d be aiming higher than you currently are. Frank Gore is having a great season, but remains an aging running back likely on the precipice of a prolonged statistical letdown. Though only a few games into his career, Le’Veon Bell’s current mark of 3.77 yards per touch suggests he’s closer to being 2013’s version of Daniel Thomas than he is to acting as a dynamic playmaker. So instead of those underwhelming options, I’d target players such as Gio Bernard, Eddie Lacy or Darren McFadden. Any of that trio should help you both now and in the future, and give you a return commensurate with what you’re offering.
3. I felt really good going into this season, as we all know running backs are golden, and I had a trio of young studs – Trent Richardson, CJ Spiller and Alfred Morris. We all know how that turned out. My question is what are your thoughts on the future of these three backs long term? Do I keep going with them, or try to make a trade? – Chris in OH
I recently concluded a quartet of articles for our premium subscribers entitled Then and Now. In short, I utilized advanced metrics to compare the output of the top ten players at each position between the 2012 and 2013 seasons. I then attempted to prognosticate each player’s future. Here are a few snippets concerning your trio of ball carriers:
CJ Spiller, RB BUF – It’s hard for me to believe that Spiller simply “lost it” this year. The Buffalo offense has been a work in progress, receiving bottom of the barrel play from the quarterback position, and top receiver Stevie Johnson has been in and out of the lineup. When he regains his health and the offense finds an identity, I expect Spiller’s play to improve, even if he isn’t able to replicate his otherworldly 2012 output.
Trent Richardson, RB IND – A week six tilt with the Chargers marked T-Rich’s fourth game with the Colts, and also the fourth consecutive game his yards-per-carry value increased. He’s clearly getting used to Indy’s system and I think his talent is primed to shine through sooner rather than later. The unexplainable drop in receptions hurts, but in my opinion Richardson remains an improving workhorse.
Alfred Morris, RB WAS – If week six was any indicator, it appears Washington is ready to rely once again on the read option as a focal point of the offense. Doing so can only help Morris, as the threat of quarterback Robert Griffin III tucking and running forces a new level of respect from opposing defenses. I believe he’ll return to the RB1 ranks sooner rather than later, and he makes for an attractive buy low target.
In short, the pitfalls of these three players are merely part of a larger theme at the position regarding unmet expectations. However, each can at least partially explain away their troubles, and more importantly there have been positive signs over the past few weeks. So even though you’re understandably frustrated, I’d just stand pat – I think better times are just around the corner.
4. I’m in a 10-man, non-PPR salary cap league (we start two running backs and three receivers) that allows owners to slap a set number of contracts on players. We have a rookie draft every year and all rookies have $1 contracts – the total cap is $200. As such, which player would you rather have for not only this year, but beyond: Andre Ellington or Keenan Allen? Both players are signed through 2015 for just a buck. – Rob in MN
So far, both the Cardinals’ Andre Ellington and the Chargers’ Keenan Allen have been revelations in 2013. This is likely due to the fact that the pair of rookies forged a metaphorical bond based on being drafted far lower than expected (Allen in the third round and Ellington in the sixth), at least temporarily stifling expectations. Now that the draft is long in the rearview mirror, it’s time for said expectations to be adjusted.
I touched on Allen in a previous Mailbag, and the short of it is I believe he’s one of fantasy’s most ascendant players. He’s already bypassed Vincent Brown as San Diego’s top receiver, and it shouldn’t be long before he catches up to the venerable Antonio Gates. Truthfully the only other rookie receiver I’d rather own is the Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins.
Ellington’s tale is even more thrilling, as he’s gone from the team’s fourth string running back (behind Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams and Stepfan Taylor) and presumed practice squadder to one of the league’s most electrifying ball carriers. Averaging an eye-popping 8.17 yards per touch (including 7.74 yards per carry), Ellington has quickly invoked a likeness to passing-game maven Darren Sproles. And that, unfortunately, is why I’d rather have Allen.
Your league’s scoring system neutralizes the 2.8 receptions per game Ellington receives and at the halfway point his touches in the passing game account for 33.8% of his entire workload. Adding figurative insult to injury, time and time again head Coach Bruce Arians has gone out of his way to insist his pint-sized ball carrier won’t see a drastic increase above the 8.1 weekly touches he’s already receiving. When Mendenhall returns from injury, it will be back to a timeshare approach in the desert.
Things are always subject to change, but considering Ellington’s collegiate injury history, perhaps there’s a good reason his usage is so low. He’ll more than likely continue to function as an explosive change of pace back, but those counting on a sustained workload are going to be disappointed. As such, while I’d definitely want to find a way to keep both players, if you have to choose one, I’ll take Allen.
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