The DLF Mailbag

Eric Hardter


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-man, non-PPR keeper league we only keep four players, so I have a difficult decision to make between the following:  Aaron Rodgers, Giovani Bernard, CJ Spiller, Demaryius Thomas, Josh Gordon, Dez Bryant and Julius Thomas.  We start one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, one tight end and a WR/TE FLEX. Is it insane for me to keep Rodgers and the three receivers?Rex in NC

When you have the chance to hang onto three of dynasty’s most valuable wide receivers, as well as arguably its top quarterback, I can’t think of any metric that would qualify that as “insane.”  With that said, given the requirements of your league, I’m not sure it’s prudent.  Having the weekly boost provided by Green Bay signal caller Aaron Rodgers would certainly benefit your starting lineup, but as I alluded to last week there’s an opportunity cost inherent in glorifying the position.

In smaller league formats such as yours, where only ten quarterbacks will be starting every week, it just doesn’t make sense to place a premium on signal callers.  There were 18 players who averaged more than 20 fantasy points per game, and it’s a stone-cold lock that you could snag a player like the Cowboys’ Tony Romo, the Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill or Atlanta’s Matt Ryan in the dispersal draft – and that’s assuming you don’t re-acquire Rodgers.  By de-emphasizing the position now, you’ll undoubtedly increase the value of your keepers while still keeping your options open at quarterback down the line.

As for the second part of your plan, I agree whole-heartedly.  The trio of Josh Gordon, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas represent three of the “big six” options at receiver, and will afford you an immeasurable advantage relative to the other pass catching corps in the league.  Given the longevity of the position, you’ll more than likely be set up here for the long haul.

Therefore the decision of your last keeper selection comes down to a pair of running backs in the Bills’ CJ Spiller and the Bengals’ Gio Bernard, as well as Denver tight end Julius Thomas.  I’d rule out Thomas for the same reasons I ruled out Rodgers – he’s certainly a top-tier player, but there will be other options (Dennis Pitta, Kyle Rudolph and Martellus Bennett, to name a few) available in your dispersal draft.  Outside of a few elite players, tight end is another position where waiting is key.

So, ultimately this one comes down to Bernard versus Spiller.  While I firmly believe Spiller is primed for a bounce-back campaign in 2014, Bernard has already arrived as one of dynasty’s most valuable assets.  He functioned as a mid-range RB2 on just 226 touches, and nominal “starter” BenJarvus Green-Ellis isn’t owed any guaranteed money for 2014.  Though the lack of the point-per-reception slightly diminishes his worth, Bernard should provide a strong foundation to your ball carriers for years to come, and he makes the most sense for your final keeper selection.

2.) My team finished seventh in our first year in our PPR league. I feel like I was fairly unlucky with injuries this year, but managed to trade my way into an extra lottery pick going into next year (I have two picks in the top four). I feel like I am stacked at the receiver position with Josh Gordon, Randall Cobb, Percy Harvin and Keenan Allen, while my running backs are much weaker (Doug Martin, Alfred Morris and Jonathan Stewart). My question is, who would you move from my receiving corps in order to target a stud running back, and who would you target?Gregory in Australia

Between Gordon, Randall Cobb and Keenan Allen, you have three of the 12 most desirable PPR wide receivers according to the January ADP data.  All three possess the combination of youth and skill that typifies what the masses look for in a long-term WR1, and as such I think you should choose to build around them instead of through trading them.  Instead, I’d focus elsewhere.

The Seahawks’ Percy Harvin is currently one of dynasty’s biggest lightning rods, but has taken a backseat amongst we dynasty aficionados due to the “out of sight, out of mind” nature of injuries.  However, due to that train of thought we’ve seemingly forgotten that as a Minnesota Viking in 2012, Harvin was a legitimate MVP candidate through nine games, with 773 total yards and an additional 574 (plus a touchdown) on 16 kickoff returns (35.9 yards on average, a figure which led the league amongst players with more than ten returns).  He was supposed to be the missing link for the Seahawks in 2013, but thus far has only appeared in two games (including the playoffs).

With that said, Harvin appears primed to play in the Super Bowl versus Denver.  A strong showing against a defense missing cornerback Chris Harris will dramatically rehab his stock and make everyone remember how good he truly is.  As he’s currently being valued as the WR21 according to the ADP data, he really has nowhere to go but up.

Therefore I think you should wait a little bit and then attempt to pair Harvin with one of your picks in order to nab a stronger RB3.  With Harvin’s value likely on the rise, and the price of draft picks constantly increasing as your league’s draft approaches, I don’t see why you can’t target a ball carrier such as Eddie Lacy, Le’Veon Bell or CJ Spiller.  You’ll then have a strong foundation of proven players, and can still take the best player available with your other pick.

3.) I just completed my first year in a 12-team non-PPR dynasty which ended in disaster. I inherited my team from a friend but finished pathetically in second to last. I have the 1.02 and 1.11 picks in the upcoming draft and I’m not sure of what position I need to focus on. My team right now is RGIII, Eli Manning, Christian Ponder, Ryan Mathews, Alfred Morris, Bernard Pierce, DeAngelo Williams, Mark Ingram, Mikel Leshoure, Pierre Garcon, Torrey Smith, Robert Woods and Danario Alexander. I need to start turning this team around and need some advice on what holes to patch up.Joe in CA

First and foremost, I think you need to cut bait with some roster deadweight.  There’s absolutely no reason to hold players like Christian Ponder and Danario Alexander, as you should be rostering players with any shred of discernible upside instead.  Mikel Leshoure is also a borderline player, although he could re-gain some value if he finds a new team or Lions’ backup Joique Bell isn’t re-signed.

Next, I’d attempt to sell off guys such as Mark Ingram and DeAngelo Williams.  Believe it or not there are still people out there who believe in the beleaguered Saints’ ball carrier, despite the fact he’s a one-dimensional player who has yet to string together any sort of consistent and persistent success – see if you can snare a late second round pick and count yourself lucky.  You might need to wait until Williams resolves his contract issue, but he should present at least a modicum of value as well.  Ryan Mathews is also an interesting sell-high candidate, as his value is arguably at its apex over the past few years.

Once you’ve accumulated as many picks as you can, I’d look to hit both the running back and wide receiver positions hard.  Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon and Torrey Smith are legit starters, but you lack depth at those two positions.  Your roster could benefit from an influx of youth and upside, or you could use the picks as trade bait to acquire more proven players.  Finally, you didn’t mention any tight ends in your roster rundown – pick 1.11 could be used to acquire a rookie, or a player like Greg Olsen or maybe even Jordan Reed (depending on his injury concerns) via trade.  I think the totality of these moves will give you a much better team in 2014.

4.) I find myself at a crossroads with Nick Foles and Zac Stacy.  Quarterbacks are highly valued in my league and the numbers Foles put up this year combined with his crazy lack of interceptions puts his value sky high.  Running backs, and especially volume running backs, are not as valuable in my league but everyone is always clamoring for the next young back. So my question is should I shop around Stacy and Foles because their value is so high or should I keep them on my roster?  I would love to combine them in a trade to get someone truly elite – do you have any ideas on who I should target?  I don’t have a stud RB or WR on my current team.Jordan in NY

I’m extremely high on Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles, and view him as a long-term fantasy QB1.  He commands one of the league’s most exciting and efficient offenses, and the fast pace desired by head coach Chip Kelly is a recipe for fantasy success due to the volume it presents.  However, even the most starry-eyed optimists see room for regression to the mean – after all, even in Peyton’s Manning’s record breaking 2013 campaign, his touchdown to interception ratio of 5.5:1 was dwarfed by the 13.5:1 value put forth by Foles.

So while Foles clearly possesses the look of a viable QB1, if someone is willing to pay for his 2013 statistics I think that’s something you need to look into.  Given the desirability of the quarterback position in your league setting, he should command a relative ransom.  If you couple that with the Rams’ Zac Stacy, who’s currently viewed as the RB10 according to the ADP data, any potential trade proposal becomes that much stronger.

However, instead of targeting one elite player, I’d suggest something different.  You’re still going to need a QB1, so why not sell high on Foles in order to snag a signal caller coming off a down year?  If you include Stacy in the deal, you should be able to get an upgrade at running back while really only downgrading your signal caller on a hype-based level.

As such, I’d target the owners of players like Matt Ryan, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III.  Each player has undeniably lost value during the course of the 2013 season, but these can be explained – Ryan and Kaepernick lost their top targets in Julio Jones and Michael Crabtree respectively, and RGIII clearly wasn’t himself following a torn ACL last January.  I firmly believe all three of these signal callers will rebound in 2014.

If the owners of those quarterbacks also own running backs like Doug Martin, Matt Forte or CJ Spiller, see if this “demotion” at the quarterback position can lead to an upgrade to Stacy.  You’ve already mentioned that ball carriers carry a relatively lesser value than quarterbacks, so this shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle.  The aggregate of this transaction should help you better your starting lineup while also enabling you to make value-based moves at the right time – in the stock market that is dynasty football, what more could you want?

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eric hardter