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The DLF Mailbag

Ellington

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. Guard Jonathan Cooper is set to return to the Arizona Cardinals after a significant injury. Tackle Branden Albert is reportedly the Cardinals top target in free agency. I own Andre Ellington and wonder how much this would boost Ellington’s value. Further, I was wondering if there is historical precedent for a team adding two very good run blocking linemen and its effects on running backs.Chris in Chuck in SC

According to the February ADP data, Cardinals’ running back Andre Ellington is being selected in the early sixth round, as the overall RB21.  This puts him behind players he out-performed (Trent Richardson, RB15 and Montee Ball, RB16), players with workload and injury concerns (Shane Vereen, RB14 and Arian Foster, RB20) and a player who has yet to prove a thing in the NFL (Christine Michael, RB19).  Though I’m not suggesting Ellington should be selected as a RB1, I have a tough time understanding the relative lack of respect.

A few months ago I described why I believe Ellington is primed to break out, and the overhaul of a putrid offensive line can only help.  Despite underwhelming play from his lineman, Ellington still managed to lead the league with a 5.5 yards-per-carry average while also chipping in a 9.5 yards-per-catch average across 39 receptions (as an aside, numbers like these are why I cringe every time the “bad OL” excuse is made for Le’Veon Bell).  This resulted in a number-one ranking for the True Points per touch statistic (fantasy points less points scored from receptions and touchdowns, divided by touches) of 0.652, showing a sublime ability to operate with the ball in his hands.  Simply put, the guy is lightning in a bottle.

Recent off-season reports have stated Ellington has added ten pounds to his frame in order to accommodate an increase to the 10.5 touches per game he received in 2013.  Should he combine those touches with a similar efficiency, it’s entirely possible Ellington could function as a mid-to-high end RB2.  Having Jonathan Cooper and potentially Branden Albert on board would be the feather in the cap for Ellington’s value.

To the second part of your question, a quick glance of roster makeovers show that two teams added multiple high-end offensive lineman in 2013 – the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles.  The Titans drafted rookie Chance Warmack in the first round, and also added guard Andy Levitre in free agency.  Ultimately though, the change made little difference as Tennessee fell from 4.5 yards-per-carry in 2012 to 4.1 this past year.

Conversely, by virtue of gaining rookie Lane Johnson and tackle Jason Peters (returning from injury) the Eagles wound up leading the league in rushing.  This included ball carrier LeSean McCoy accumulating over 1,600 rushing yards, and the offense averaging 5.1 yards-per-carry as a whole.  If the Cardinals can improve similarly to the Eagles, the only limit for Ellington is the amount of times he touches the ball.

2. In my 12-team PPR league I’m fairly thin at running back but fairly deep at receiver.  I recently traded pick 1.01 for picks 1.08, 1.09 and 1.10. My thinking was that while I love Sammy Watkins, this is a very deep draft and I could get three very solid players at the end of round one, including 1-2 running backs. Was I crazy for making this trade?Jake in MI

I don’t think you were crazy at all.  Both Tim Stafford and I detailed Sammy Watkins in last week’s Mailbag, and suffice it to say there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be considered the draft’s consensus top player.  With that said, you received quite the haul in return, as 2014 could very well go down as one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.

With your trio of picks at the end of the first, you’ll have a great shot of obtaining two top running backs, as well as a second-tier receiver such as Kelvin Benjamin or Allen Robinson.  Should one of the draft’s top tight ends wind up in a desirable landing spot, you could even look to that position instead.  In terms of relative value, if you can hit on two of those picks and receiving quality starting output, that’s a great return, even for a player like Watkins.

I think my only qualm with your decision is that, as a contending team, it might’ve been prudent to see if you could obtain the services of veteran players instead of a stockpile of draft picks.  While never a completely accurate indicator of value, the February ADP suggest that players such as Zac Stacy, Marshawn Lynch and DeMarco Murray carry a similar value to that of Watkins.  As your league’s draft approaches, that value is likely to increase even further.  Regardless, I still think you made out well here.

3. In terms of rookie draft picks where would you value Jarrett Boykin in a PPR league? Is he worth a mid-second rounder, or would his value fall later?Bob in Earth

At this point it seems inevitable that the Packers will open the 2014 season without either receiver James Jones or tight end Jermichael Finley on the roster.  This means that there will be a giant talent vacuum behind stars Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, and someone will have to step up to fill the void.  Enter Jarrett Boykin.

Despite underwhelming play from Green Bay quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers, Boykin still finished the season with 49 receptions for 681 yards and three touchdowns – good for a ranking as the overall PPR WR52 in just 12 games played (not including weeks 1-4 where he was solely a special teamer).  This is roughly in line with how the third option in the Green Bay passing game has performed, as dating back to 2009 that position has yielded a seasonal average of 51 receptions for 693 yards and 5.5 touchdowns.

To me, those numbers are more indicative of a spot-starter or low-end FLEX than a future fantasy stud.  Moreover, given the drafting and usage of running back Eddie Lacy, it’s fair to assume that the Packers will adopt a more balanced offense.  The combination of these factors cast doubt on Boykin’s fantasy viability.

Continuing, the Packers have already expressed a desire to re-sign Nelson, and Cobb is just entering the prime of his career.  Barring injury, it’s tough to envision Boykin surpassing either.  When it comes to your bench spots, I’d prefer to roster a player with a higher upside, so I think a mid-second round pick is too high for Boykin.  If you can snag him for an early-to-mid third round selection, I’d be content.

4. We are starting complete 32-team dynasty league with 43-man rosters, full IDP and two sets of players (no two of same player can be on one team). The veteran draft is serpentine, and the rookie draft order is inverse to that of the veteran draft. I have the third pick to choose any draft position, and was wondering what the best strategy is? I was thinking spot 32, so I can get the first pick in rookie draft.Craig in IL

Given your league specifications, this ultimately boils down to drafting as if it was a 16-team league.  Therefore there really won’t be a huge positional bias, as acquiring studs is the name of the game, regardless of where they line up on the field (yes, even with quarterbacks).  Given your ability to virtually dictate where you draft, you now have a reasonable amount of leverage relative to the field.

The prevailing school of thought is that while you won’t win your league with your first round selection, you can certainly lose it.  While I admit this line of thinking is more geared towards a re-draft mentality, it definitely works for deep-league dynasties as well.  Put succinctly, given how many other owners will be drafting, you don’t want to squander the chance to obtain the services of an elite player.

With that said, it’s also a bonus to be able to pick early in the second round, as well as in the rookie draft.  To that end, if you think you can select a player later in the first whose value doesn’t differ dramatically from that of an early-round pick, I think it behooves you to enact that philosophy.  This, of course, begs one important question – who do you view as stud players?

For me, I’d be ecstatic to obtain any of Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant or Jimmy Graham.  Those are who I consider to be the tier-one players relative to their positions, with a drop-off ensuing afterwards.  Since there are two copies of each player, as long as I have a top-22 pick, I’ll be guaranteed to draft one of them.  The added bonus is I’d also have the 11th pick in the second round, as well as the rookie draft.

I think you should approach your draft in a similar manner – define your top tiers at each position and figure out where your cutoff point is.  If that extends to 16 players and you can get away with picking last, then I’d absolutely go for it – but I wouldn’t do so solely to draft Sammy Watkins.  Drafting a lesser player in order to gamble on a rookie who may or may not pan out could cripple you in the long run, and give credence to the saying above – you don’t want to “lose” after your first pick.

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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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. shawn

    March 3, 2014 at 7:24 am

    in a one keeper plus Up to five rookie keepers league I have an amazing choice of rookies but am not set on exactly what 5 too keep, here are my rookies.

    Cordarrele Patterson
    Hopkins
    Cunningham
    bell
    lacy
    j.reed
    lattimore
    Michael
    s.Bailey
    Latavius Murray

    These players are only good to me for one year as I probably won’t use any of them as my #1 keeper next season so immediate impact is key. Thanks.

    • Ben

      March 3, 2014 at 7:30 am

      patterson
      hopkins
      bell
      lacy
      reed

      • Eric Hardter

        March 3, 2014 at 7:39 am

        Agreed.

      • sixshooter

        March 3, 2014 at 7:58 am

        Yup…….those were the exact five I picked before reading the responses! Fairly easy choices in my opinion!

        • joepesci004

          March 4, 2014 at 2:37 am

          Man. I would seriously think about Lattimore over Reed

  2. Bobo

    March 3, 2014 at 7:53 am

    The only thing I don’t understand is regarding the first question…how is being selected RB21 “disrespectful” to Ellington. RB21 is a low-end RB2 with upside-type of pick and I have a hard time valuing Ellington as more than that. I like Ellington a lot and I agree with the analysis that he could give solid RB2 numbers, but his ADP has him as a middle-low RB2 already…just seems petty to call it “disrespectful.”

    • sixshooter

      March 3, 2014 at 8:01 am

      I believe the “disrespectful” comment is related to guy like Trent Richardson, Christine Michael or even Shane Vereen being ranked higher than him which I totally agree with! No way I would take any of those guys ahead of Ellington! Definitely a lack of respect in my opinion!

      • Crowley

        March 3, 2014 at 10:36 am

        Ellington is a low end RB3 with a little bit of upside from there IMO. Michael, Richardson and Vereen should always be taken ahead of Ellington because they have RB1 upside. Ellington is just another flash in the pan who owners are going to be really excited about (for a while), hang onto him for WAAAYYY too long and miss out on grabbing a mid to late first round pick for a guy you drafted in either the 3rd or 4th round of your rookie drafts last year. He’s a sell high guy if I’ve ever seen one. Plus, every bit of offseason news about Arians annointing him as the “primary back” only escalates his value further. We all know he isn’t capabale of shouldering a full load in the NFL, lets not pretend like he is.

        • Mark

          March 3, 2014 at 11:51 am

          “We all know he isn’t capabale of shouldering a full load in the NFL”

          Ellington is 5’9 and now 210. Gio Benard is 5’8 207. Jamaal Charles weighs 200. Shane Vereen 5’10 205.

          And Like I mentioned in the weekly events article:
          2009 – 14 Games Played
          2010 – 9 Games Played
          2011 – 13 Games Played
          2012 – 13 Games Played

          NFL: (pulled hammy at NFL Combine)
          2013 – 15 Games Played

          I’m not saying he can handle a lot of work but I don’t really think we can say anything with much certainty at this point. I don’t know what evidence there is to support your claims.

          • Dave

            March 3, 2014 at 2:01 pm

            His ability to get nicked up in college is why I grabbed Taylor late in the year for this season. I still believe Taylor is the better all around RB there, just not as flashy.

    • Eric Hardter

      March 3, 2014 at 8:02 am

      As I mentioned, it’s relative to some/many of the players who are being selected ahead of him. I think too many people view his numbers as unrepeatable, or suggest he’ll break down with a heavier workload. Having essentially written an article on the guy, I don’t really see it that way.

      Of the guys I listed I’d want him over all but Vereen, and even Vereen gets a pass mostly due to the offense he’s on (he’s proven arguably less in three years than Ellington has in one). Even moving him up from the RB21 to the RB17 is a 19% increase in relative value, even if the change is only from low-end RB2 to mid-range RB2. Personally I have him as my PPR RB15. I wasn’t intending to sound disrespectful, but I absolutely was injecting my bias and beliefs into the answer.

      • Bobo

        March 3, 2014 at 9:10 am

        I can appreciate an articulate response like this and I like that you can admit that you injected your bias. I guess I just feel that his current ADP is totally respectful to AE. But I do see your point of other guys being drafted ahead of him, but we get that every year.

  3. Hell Atlantic

    March 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Vereen showed more low end RB1 numbers than AE did in PPR leagues. In my league he averaged roughly 17 pts a game in the games he played. If Pats don’t retain Amendola which is sounding likely most of those short targets will likely go to Vereen.

    • Slick

      March 3, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      For all of those owners who are sold on Vereen, just remember who his coach is. Vereen is certainly talented, but he is hit or miss in ff due to his coach. I am speaking of the man who is loyal to no one…and certainly in ff. If you are banking on a player in ff, and especially dynasty, lil bill is not exactly the kind of coach you want to trust. His track record is predictably unpredictable and just when you think he will do something, he changes it. Look, I like(d) Vereen too but I traded him for Ellington, not just because I am a believer in his talent, but I feel like he has a better chance at sustained success. In today’s game, his size is no longer an issue. There are numerous “smaller” backs who are explosive and durable. I say Ellington has more upside. Lil bill can go in a number of directions that affect Vereen directly…he can 1) go back to ridley, 2) go back to blount 3) draft or sign a FA TE and go back to 2 TE sets 4) draft or develop a legit deep threat WR 5) something we have not conceived that does not involve Vereen receiving enough touches. Bottom line…Vereen is used as a boom or bust player. He can score 20 or 2 pts due to usage. If your team can withstand that, go for it. I prefer more consistency, which is why I made the deal. Not to mention I have 99 reasons why Ellington can become 2014’s breakout star…

      • BAMNation

        March 4, 2014 at 12:40 am

        The issue here is how will Vereen be used?

        Woodhead had success in the BB system and Vereen has more talent. The upside is the Patriots have had no consistent WRs and TEs to throw too and this upcoming season looks to be no different w Gronk recovering from ACL and may not start the year. The WRs are who we think they are even if they keep Edleman (no not really bye-bye)

        So who does Brady trust and no longer has a cast on his hand? Vereen.

        The issue here is will the opposing defense key in on Vereen and shut him down like the Broncos did in the playoffs? Jets used to be able to do that , but Bills and Phins? Doubt it.

        The argument ‘Ellington has more upside. Lil bill can go in a number of directions that affect Vereen directly…’ may be true, but then you are trusting Arians to give the ball to Ellington consistently which has not been proven yet.

        At this point, I view both as a RB2 with upside to RB1 but at worst a flex play. Pats, Zona, Phins are teams where I prefer to stay away from the RBs anyway

        • Slick

          March 4, 2014 at 2:48 pm

          I hear ya and you make valid points all the way around. It is early March and all we can do is speculate (what else is there to do until….FA begins in a week!)

          Lil Bill will tip his hand in coming months (FA/Draft) and we can react to that. I tried to outline his history as a means of saying there is alot of risk trusting him as coach. Notice, I didn’t even bring up Vereen’s injury history, which is also a factor.

          Not saying Ellington and his situation is a slam dunk (if it was, we wouldn’t be discussing this) but I do view him as the better option.

          I have to say I was convinced by the article Eric Harder wrote in late December and decided to do my hw and make the deal.

          Both guys are great prospects, especially for RB3, with low RB1 ceilings if used correctly and healthy.

      • alden

        March 4, 2014 at 10:02 pm

        Good point, Vereen will always be a situational player in New England. If the Hernandez situation didn’t come up, Vereens numbers would be way down last year. As a team New England needs a player like Hernandez witch is a bigger version of Vereen and can do more things because of his size and is more of a multi position threat than Vereen.

        • cityslickers94

          March 5, 2014 at 3:05 am

          yup. this is especially true as they approach the red zone.

  4. Buck masters

    March 3, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    What do you all think of giving up Foles and Andre holmes for Bradford and either Hopkins (not certain Id gt him) or Reuben randle? I still have romo as qb1. Wrs would be dez, Jeffry, Crabtree, Blackmon, hunter and either Hopkins or randle. Love to be deep at wr and would be set for years.

    • BigD

      March 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      hey i’m a cowboy fan, thus the name BigD…..but I would try to move romo instead of foles because of the age and wear/tear factor with room. and if you choose to move either room or foles you need to get a hell of a lot more then Hopkins, randle, or Bradford. Hopkins and randle are #2wrs….Bradford is a backup qb, if room is part of a deal it would have to be for a #1 wr or rb…..think that one thru before you trade. if you let foles go, theres no sure thing that room can go 16 after 2 back surgeries?????????? don’t do it is the best info I can give you.

      • BigD

        March 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm

        my damn spell check cancelled Romo and put room instead….sorry about the confusion.

        • Buck

          March 4, 2014 at 5:45 pm

          Thanks for input bigd. I’m seeing the err in my ways as i look it over some more Although I love Hopkins and thik he isa stud in he future, I’m gonna hold off. Ivealwys been a Bradford fan and think he as a it season ahead.

  5. Kyle

    March 4, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Team 1 will give
    Morris, Alfred WAS RB
    Nelson, Jordy GBP WR
    Year 2014 Draft Pick 2.08
    To Team 2 my team for
    Bernard, Giovani CIN RB
    Boykin, Jarrett GBP WR
    Year 2014 Draft Pick 4.04

    I have
    Gio, Lacey, Vereen and Martin
    Wr are lacking Have
    Boykin, Cruz, Marlon Brown, Hartline, MccCluster, Malcom Floyd
    Start 1qb, 2rb, 3wr, 1te, k, d 2 flex…what do u think about this trade offer

    • joeroads

      March 6, 2014 at 10:45 am

      So Kyle, you have a shot at getting a starting RB (Alfred Morris) for Gio (committees. RB) & a top 10 WR (Jordy Nelson) for an unproven Jarrett Boykin and a1nd Rd draft pick for a 4th Rd pick? Is this really a possibility? Unless I am mistaken, I’d say you’re crazy not to make this deal happen yesterday!

      • Kyle

        March 7, 2014 at 7:30 am

        2.08 pick so second round pick 8 so 20th pick in rookie draft…not first rounder

        • Joe Roads

          March 7, 2014 at 10:14 am

          Typo on my part. Still, I think that this is an awesome deal in your favor. So, have you done the deal?

          • Kyle

            March 7, 2014 at 11:55 am

            No not yet, waiting on another response from someone else, want as many opinions as I can get.

  6. Kyle Stein

    March 7, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Just wanted to update you…not making the deal.

    • jspaul_44

      March 10, 2014 at 8:37 am

      Just wondering why you arnt making the deal? You’d be getting a better RB, a better WR, and a better draft pick…I agree with Joe it seems like a nobrainer to me. If it’s ppr the receptions you lose from Gio would be made up by swapping Jordy for Boykin as well as the increased yardage pts by Morris and Jordy

  7. Chris in Chuck

    March 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Now it appears the Cardinals won’t get Branden Albert but will get a tackle from Oakland — Veldheer.

    I’m hopeful that a better line will keep the statue (Carson Palmer) upright for a tick longer and balance the offense so Andre Ellington gets space to operate.

    And Branden Albert appears headed to the Dolphins to improve the basket case offensive line Miami fielded after the Jonathan Martin situation unfolded.

    Here’s hoping Lamar Miller gets on track for me in addition to Ellington.

  8. vent

    March 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Last year was a rebuilding year for me in my 12 team 1/2 a point ppr league. I was able to trade off players like calvin Johnson and lynch for first rounder’s and get quality rookies ( Gio Bernard, Montee Ball, Ellington, Hopkins, Alshon Jeffery, Keenan Allen etc.) in return . we start two rb 3 wrs 1 te and a flex on offense. my best defensive players are JJ Watt , Cushing, Laurinaitis , Reshad Jones. Should I draft need over best available! I have 9 of the first 32 picks with four in the first round 1.02,1.06,1.10,1.11 help!

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