The DLF Superbag

Eric Hardter


Welcome to the Super Bowl inspired “super” 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 preparing for a 10-team, 2QB dynasty startup and hold the eighth pick. I know some position players may slide due to this, but when do you think I should target my first quarterback? I hold pick 1.03 in the rookie draft and will look to draft a QB for sure in there as well.Joe in NY

As DLF’s own Ryan McDowell can attest to based on his recent endeavors with 2QB mock drafting, the status quo gets turned upside down.  Indeed, given the fact that there are only 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL, the concept of supply and demand becomes intensified in a depth-dictated free for all.  With the desire for two quality starters, as well as a solid backup and bye-week replacement, the value of the NFL’s most important position is finally appropriately reflected in this type of format.

With that said, playing the contrarian is underrated.  While picking in the eighth slot means you have virtually no chance at young, stud signal callers such as Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton, it also means players at other positions should be available to you.  In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if half of the “Big Six” receivers are still available, as well as at least one of Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy.

Coupling that with the likelihood that a player such as Nick Foles, Matt Stafford or Matt Ryan will still be available at pick 13, I think it makes sense to eschew the quarterback position until the second round.  Given your place in the draft order, a strategy of RB-QB-WR-QB could very well land you a team of Charles, Foles, Brandon Marshall and Ryan Tannehill.  Since you hold the rookie 1.03 selection you could snag your backup signal caller there (Derek Carr, Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel) and hit the other positions hard in the intermediate rounds.  It might seem counterintuitive given the league format, but zigging while others zag can help you game the system and ultimately cultivate a winning strategy.

2.) Our injured reserve spots are done away with on March 1st and we need to have an active roster from that point on. I need to activate Randall Cobb, but to do so means I have to drop one of Quinton Patton, Robert Woods and Stedman Bailey. Who should I drop?Brian in MA

Let’s dive right in!  First and foremost, there’s no way I’d release Buffalo’s Robert Woods.  He was a second round selection who showed fairly well despite the Bills’ dumpster fire of a situation at quarterback, and functioned as the top receiving threat at times due to Stevie Johnson’s four missed games.  With rumors that Johnson could be a cap casualty, Woods could threaten for 120+ targets and WR2/3 viability.

Continuing, I’m intrigued by Rams rookie Stedman Bailey.  Despite a similarly suffering quarterback situation due in large part to starter Sam Bradford’s injury, Bailey closed the year with at least three receptions in four of the last five games and played the second-most snaps out of the entire receiving corps during the last two weeks.  On a team starved for a legitimate WR1, Bailey offers as much upside as anyone on the roster.

By default that means I’d cut bait with 49ers receiver Quinton Patton.  Despite a depleted stable of pass catchers, Patton was only able to accumulate five targets during the regular season, and he appears firmly stuck behind Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis in the pecking order (Anquan Boldin may or may not be back).  On a run-first offense (54.8% of plays were on the ground), that just won’t cut it – Patton is an interesting stash and a tough omission for your squad, but if you can’t flip him for a late round pick he’s be my choice for your final drop.

3.) After a promising 2012 season that saw me climb out of the basement and into 7th place, 2013 put me right back into dead last (and lost me a pair of slap bets in the process). That being said, I own picks 1.01 and 1.02 in the coming draft, so all is not lost. Early research indicates that the best draft prospects are all receivers, but I’m already pretty loaded at the position. My only viable backs are Alfred Morris, Chris Johnson, Mark Ingram and Jonathan Stewart. Should I try to dump these picks, or trade away some current receivers to get help at running back?Travis in WI

It’s an informal rule, sure, but references to How I Met Your Mother will usually get your question into this space.  With that said, both your fantasy season and the Slapsgiving holiday are long in the rearview mirror, so let’s focus on the next step moving forward.  To wit, the question of which running backs will be “suiting up” in your roster next year must be answered.

First and foremost, when it comes to your ball carriers I think you’re being rather liberal with your use of the word “viable.”  While I’m a firm believer that Alfred Morris is better than his overall 2013 stats indicated, I think the buck stops with him.  Chris Johnson is more than likely done in Tennessee, Jonathan Stewart (unfortunately for those of us who believed in him) remains more hype than substance and Mark Ingram is as close to being a RB1 as you and me.

As such I’d choose to utilize your draft picks as bargaining chips.  Sure, you could use the 1.01 to select Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, but if you’re patient and wait for your league’s draft I firmly believe you could acquire a ball carrier like CJ Spiller or DeMarco Murray straight up – given your dire situation at the position, as well as the lack of guaranteed fantasy prowess for ANY rookie, it’s an option I’d certainly entertain.  You could then take the next best player at pick 1.02 (perhaps a rising running back), and more than likely end the day with a significantly more robust starting lineup than the one with which you began it.

4.) It was my first year in dynasty and when my season went down the toilet I traded my talent for young guys with upside and draft picks.  The short story is I have six picks in the first two rounds of our next draft – 1.03, 1.11, 1.12, 2.03, 2.11 and 2.12.  I’m thinking about offering all my picks for Alshon Jeffery and Jamaal Charles. What are your thoughts?Tony in MI

In theory, I love the idea for you.  However, given what the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles and the Bears’ Alshon Jeffery accomplished during the 2013 season, I think it’s going to be a hard sell.  Simply put, if you’re going to acquire two players who are borderline first round selections in startup drafts, I think you’re going to need to offer a lot more than just potential.

Moreover, my guess is a team led by the PPR RB1 and PPR WR8 more than likely had a fairly good year, at worst (unless he completely missed on literally every other draft pick).  As such I think you’ll have a tough time prying those players loose from a league contender.  The allure of rookie fever is a concept oft underrated, especially to new owners, but I doubt this combination of picks will get the job done.

Instead of using all your picks to acquire multiple studs, I’d try to leverage what you can out of picks 1.11 and 1.12.  Odds are you won’t break the bank, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that pair of late firsts could net you a second tier player such as Kendall Wright or Torrey Smith.  You’ll still have the flexibility to go BPA at pick 1.03 while also obtaining a proven talent – with your poor 2013, I think that’s the best for which you can hope.

5.) In my 12-team non-PPR league I have a trade proposed that gives me Gio Bernard, Knile Davis (I own Jamaal Charles) and Justin Hunter. I would give Sam Bradford, Montee Ball, Bryce Brown, Mike Wallace and rights to Brandon Coleman. Is this lopsided trade of depth a good move if you are getting a young stud who is the best player involved in return?JB in TX

This is a definitively lopsided trade, but in my opinion you’re easily getting the better of it.  As you mentioned, Bengals running back Gio Bernard is the best player in the deal, and could function as a low-end RB1 even in a non-PPR format.  I expect his touches to increase, and given how dynamic he appeared at times, I think he has a Spiller-esque ability to turn 250 touches into fantasy greatness.

With that said, I think Titans receiver Justin Hunter is the steal of this proposed trade.  He flashed a top-end combination of ball skills and playmaking ability, and with Kenny Britt (and potentially Nate Washington) on the way out I expect him to start opposite Kendall Wright.  With a stronger-armed quarterback under center, Hunter could truly explode as soon as 2014.

Conversely, none of the players with whom you’re parting would cause me to lose any sleep.  Montee Ball looked good at the end of the year, but I’m not convinced he’s anything more than a byproduct of a Peyton Manning-led system who’s flashed talent in limited touches.  Mike Wallace is an ascending pass catcher with WR1 ability, but remains hamstrung by an unimaginative Miami offense and Ryan Tannehill’s poor deep-ball accuracy.  The other players are merely depth.  Don’t walk – run – to accept this deal.

6.) I just finished up our first year in my 12-team PPR dynasty league.  My team ended near the bottom mostly due to injuries and untimely losses and I ended up with the first pick in our offseason rookie/FA draft. I’m now trying to gauge what the true value is of the first overall pick in the draft.  I don’t have a stud receiver, so would it be worth to send the first pick to a team in my league that has Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and Antonio Brown and try to get one of those guys, or is this year’s group of incoming rookies good enough to just use the pick?Leach in MA

Similar to Tony’s question above, I think you’re slightly overrating your draft pick.  Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant are legit top-six options at the wide receiver position, and even the allure of the untapped potential rookie players bring with them won’t be near enough to pry them away.  Even if I really loved draft picks, I wouldn’t trade either of those guys for anything less than the 1.01, 1.02 and 1.03 – they’re just that good, and rookies are as uncertain as they come.

However, you also mentioned that your prospective trade partner owns Steelers receiver Antonio Brown.  With the departure of Mike Wallace to Miami, Brown made good on his new contract to the tune of 110 receptions for 1,498 yards and eight touchdowns, good for a ranking as the PPR WR3.  Yet despite this production, as well as his youth (he’s just 25 years old), Brown just doesn’t get any respect as an elite option – why is that?

Most likely it’s because at “only” 5’10” and 186 pounds, he doesn’t possess prototypical WR1 size.  Perhaps even more likely, it’s because the majority of fantasy owners (myself included) just didn’t see this coming.  Often when the unimaginable occurs, we subconsciously chalk it up to some kind of aberration and convince ourselves we’d be performing a disservice by not “selling high.”

Therefore I think it behooves you to see if your trade partner feels this way as well.  Young receivers who can haul in 100 passes don’t grow on trees, so if you can get Brown for the price of “just” a draft pick I’d do it in a heartbeat.  If he balks, no worries – Sammy Watkins is a fine consolation prize.

7.) In my 12-man PPR league I have a young team in rebuild, and I need to drop five guys from my team prior to the draft.  Most of the end of bench guys are in really attractive situations and it would be hard to decide who to drop/ trade. Who are best five candidates to drop out of Stephen Hill, Jarrett Boykin, Johnathan Franklin, Jonathan Stewart, Jared Cook, Zach Ertz, Jordan Todman, Latavius Murray and Donald Brown?Alfonso in FL

As always, with these types of scenarios I like to start with the easiest decisions possible.  Therefore I think it’s an easy decision to cross Jarrett Boykin and Zach Ertz off the list – these are guys I think you need to keep.  Simply put, the potential third options in the Packers’ and Eagles’ passing offenses are players you could wind up starting on a weekly basis.

In a slightly more difficult situation I’d want to hang onto Raiders running back Latavius Murray, as he very well could be the starter there in 2014.  While I’m skeptical he has the makings of a future stud, there are precious few players in the league who can push for 200+ carries a year (only 22 players accomplished this feat in 2013).  As such these guys need to be on a roster.

Finally, crazy as I may be, I’d want to keep Jonathan Stewart.  Given his contract status he’s more than likely to be back in Carolina, a team which ran the ball on 50.5% of their offensive plays in 2013.  He showed fairly well in limited playing time, and if DeAngelo Williams is released (no guaranteed money in 2014) Stewart could finally get his long-awaited chance at lead-back duties.

Losing any of the other players you listed wouldn’t cause me any worry.  Stephen Hill and Jared Cook remain merely size-speed guys, Jordan Todman and Donald Brown have yet to prove anything on a consistent basis and Johnathan Franklin only exceeded third-string status due to injury.  If they wind up striking it big, so be it – the best you can do at any point in time is make an informed decision based on the information at hand.

8.) I just won my league championship (20 teams, PPR) and we have entered our offseason in which all our players are assigned contract values based on performance.  We must stay under $150 in salary and I’m currently at $191.  My roster includes Philip Rivers ($33), Jamaal Charles ($55), AJ Green ($32), Jimmy Graham ($39) and Eddie Lacy ($1 due to his rookie contract). My question is this – in having to shave $41 to get back to my cap number, should I be looking to move Charles?  In my league his value is sky high, however the hefty contract value he carries makes him hard to trade.  What should I be looking for in return for Charles, taking into account his current dynasty ranking and the unique amount of money he’s commanding in our league?Tyler in MN

Due to the uniqueness of your league’s assignment of salaries, it appears league champions will always have a tough time repeating.  The ability to draft, trade and scour the waiver wire in a shrewd manner turns owners into victims of their own success.  What’s a dynamite dynasty aficionado to do?

As much as I’d want to hold onto Charles, I think you’ll likely need to deal him in order to get under the cap.  With that said, I think you need to attempt to take advantage of your league’s format and game the system.  By that, I’m talking about looking for players who disappointed (relatively speaking) in 2013, but still offer elite ability for a fraction of the price.

In that vein I’d target the owners of players such as CJ Spiller (RB27) and Adrian Peterson (RB10), as they didn’t perform nearly as well as Charles but still possess the ability to do so.  You should also strive to include Philip Rivers in this deal, as his finish as the QB6 makes him much tougher to afford than a guy like Colin Kaepernick (QB12), Tony Romo (QB13) or Nick Foles (QB17).  Losing Charles and Rivers would hurt, but you need to get under the cap – if you can cut costs in a prudent manner such as what’s described above, I see no reason why you won’t be competing again in 2014.

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eric hardter