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The DLF Mailbag

Blackmon

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. With the Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell stating he’s not counting on Justin Blackmon for the upcoming season and that he’d be “relatively surprised” if he played this year, is Blackmon worth holding on to? I’m strong at receiver, but when he did play in 2013 he was great. I have the luxury of an expanded off-season roster, but if I can move him in conjunction with the draft what should I be looking for in return?Dan in NH

Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon quite literally personifies the phrase cost/benefit analysis.  As Dan pointed out above, when he was actually on the field in 2013 he performed like a bona fide WR1, sporting a per-game average of 7.3/103.8/0.25 (19.2 PPR PPG).  However, as we all know Blackmon is dealing with some serious personal issues, and it’s no guarantee he’ll suit up in 2014, or ever again.

While the thought of this wasted talent undoubtedly leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of all football enthusiasts, I’m going to throw a bit of cold water on the prevailing theory of Blackmon functioning as an elite fantasy asset.  His raw numbers from last season look great, but 48% of his receptions and 46% of his receiving yards occurred in one game (versus Denver).  He also had a very good game against St. Louis, but then scored a total of 18.9 PPR points in his last two contests.  This is reminiscent of his 2012 rookie season, where a big game against Houston (7/236/1) buoyed his overall stat-line.

This isn’t to say that Blackmon isn’t talented – far from it – but I’ve seen him ranked on talent alone as a top-ten dynasty pass catcher.  That essentially puts him right into the second tier of Keenan Allen, Alshon Jeffery and Randall Cobb, elevating his status beyond where I believe it belongs.  To me, this represents the romanticized notion of his elite ability more than it does his actual game-day prowess.

With that said, now that the dynasty masses are wise to Blackmon’s likely lack of involvement in 2014 I expect his current ADP of 52.2 to drop, along with his trade value.  Given his uncertain future, I have a hard time believing you’d receive an offer of anything greater than a mid-second round pick for the embattled receiver.  For that price, I think it behooves you to just stand pat – it’s hard to see a second-round selection offering more upside than Blackmon possesses, regardless of his current situation.

2.  In my 12-team 1QB league, should I trade pick 2.02 (#14 overall) and Tom Brady for pick 1.06? My other quarterback is Cam Newton, who I am all of a sudden worried about. I also think Brady is in for a bounce-back year and a top-six season. I’m also aware that by making this “two for one” deal I will have to drop one fewer player.Sultan of Swat in NY

By virtually any metric, 2013 was a down year for New England signal caller Tom Brady.  Despite airing it out 628 times (second most of his career), Brady’s numbers were down across the board, leading to his first finish outside of fantasy’s top-12 quarterbacks since an injury-shortened 2009.  Previously heralded as a player who made his supporting cast better, Brady simply couldn’t overcome the off-season defection of Wes Welker, the loss of Aaron Hernandez, and injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola.

With that said, Tom Terrific appears poised to rebound in 2014.  Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins will be a year older, new slot machine Julian Edelman was re-signed and Gronkowski will be back (at some point).  Coupling this with a foundation running game and improved defense, Brady’s efficiency should spike once again.

Despite that, however, this is an easy trade to make.  As Dynasty Doctor Scott Peak recently pointed out in the “Ask DLF” forum, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has never finished worse than the overall QB5 – fears of a subpar supporting cast are certainly founded, but Newton is talented enough to continue posting superior statistics.  Throwing in the lack of value quarterbacks carry in smaller formats, along with the likelihood of drafting a tier-two rookie at pick 1.06, I’d run to click “accept.”

3. In my 12-team non-PPR keeper league, I can only keep four of the following eight players:  CJ Spiller, Ryan Mathews, Zac Stacy, Montee Ball, Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown, Pierre Garçon and Jimmy Graham. Gordon and Graham are locked in, who are my final two?  We start two running backs, two receivers and a RB/WR FLEX.Tony in Toronto

[inlinead]?In a non-PPR setting, it’s fair to argue that the running back position reigns supreme.  Relative to pass catchers they typically possess a higher weekly floor in terms of workload, and generally won’t tank your lineup on any given week.  Perhaps more importantly, they bring with them an increased likelihood of scoring opportunities.

Secondary to your scoring format is the amount of players you’re allowed to keep on a yearly basis.  On one hand, the ability to keep a greater number of players can make these decisions trickier, as owners will tend to adopt more of a dynasty mentality.  However, with your smaller keeper format, you can essentially play with more of a redraft mentality, focusing less on the big picture and more on a year-to-year window.

So given the above, along with the fact you’re already planning on keeping New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon (two decisions I definitively approve of), I’d want to hang onto a pair of ball carriers for your final two keeper selections.  Continuing, I’d select the two running backs with the greatest likelihood of immediate production.  In order to satisfy these two criteria, there appear to be two obvious choices – Montee Ball and Zac Stacy.

In addition to being a historically good touchdown scorer in college, Ball is going to function as the leader of the Denver backfield – given the proficiency of that Broncos offense, this could lead to RB1-level output.  Though Stacy’s St. Louis offense lacks a similar firepower, his usage (22.9 touches per game over the season’s final 12 weeks) ensures he’ll remain towards the top of the non-PPR running back hierarchy.  While I’m not sold on either’s long-term viability, that matters little given your league settings – Ball and Stacy are your best bet to win now.

4. With the NFL Draft just days away, I’m starting to get anxious about what the NY Jets are going to do.  They need help at receiver and tight end (and some would argue quarterback as well) and they’re perfectly positioned in both rounds one and two to bring in a quality prospect.  The Jets seemingly never develop offensive players and obviously logic would dictate that they’re bound to hit eventually, but as somebody burned by Stephen Hill and Shonn Greene, I don’t trust them. Is it realistic to completely disregard any Jet offensive prospect drafted this year regardless of how highly regarded they were pre-draft?Jordan in Vancouver

Let’s face it – over the past couple seasons we’ve seen an embarrassment of riches amongst the rookies.  The class of 2012 yielded a potential five QB-caliber players, as well as the overall PPR RB2 (Doug Martin).  Not to be outdone, 2013 brought us the afore-mentioned Keenan Allen (first 1,000-yard rookie receiver since Anquan Boldin) as well as a new stable of highly regarded ball carriers.  This recent string of successes, while nice for fantasy owners, belies the fact that rookies just generally aren’t ready to immediately contribute.

As such, I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel on recent skill-position rookies Stephen Hill and Geno Smith.  They’re certainly not superstars, but it remains to be seen if they can function as serviceable starters.  After all, not many were overly high on either Jeremy Kerley or Bilal Powell (both were 2011 picks), but each has at least flashed signs of improvement.  I don’t believe the Jets are quite the purgatory many make them out to be.

As such, I wouldn’t downgrade a skill position player based upon this particular landing spot.  Given the off-season upgrades (free agent signings of Eric Decker, and to a lesser extent Michael Vick and Chris Johnson), I’m a believer that Gang Green’s trajectory is pointing squarely upward.  There’s still work to be done, but landing with the other New York team is far from dynasty purgatory.

Follow me on Twitter @EDH_27

Eric Hardter
Latest posts by Eric Hardter (see all)
11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. John

    May 5, 2014 at 3:23 am

    For question 3 it’s interesting that given your criteria of RB and immediate production that you choose to go with Ball and Stacy over Spiller. Can you expand on this a little bit how you project them to have better production than spiller this season?

    • Eric Hardter

      May 5, 2014 at 8:20 am

      I just think they’re both in for bigger workloads with more scoring opportunities on better offenses. It’s really that simple for me – I think Spiller is more naturally talented, but in a 4-man keeper league I value immediate production over potentially unfulfilled promise.

      • Chad

        May 5, 2014 at 12:05 pm

        Well said, Eric.

    • phantasy5

      May 5, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      In non-PPR that’s a good call!

      • phantasy5

        May 5, 2014 at 6:11 pm

        Spiller hands down in PPR, though.

        • sixshooter

          May 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm

          Not sure I am as quick to say “hands down” with Spiller because he always seems to be belly up by mid-season! I honestly would still go with Ball and Stacy but that’s just me!!! I don’t own any of them but have watched other’s struggle with Spiller! He has too much competition for that roster spot with Stacy and Ball for me to take the chance although I definitely wouldn’t blame anyone for giving him another shot!!!

  2. Eric

    May 5, 2014 at 6:01 am

    The thing I see about Blackmon and his consistance is more the QB situation then his overall talent. I believe this kid is a stud if/when he makes it back on the feild.

    • Mike D.

      May 5, 2014 at 6:53 am

      I agree. Four games last year isn’t enough of a sample to make the claim about his production. And a rookie year is a rookie year. I’m all in on his upside as a Brandon Marshall type in terms of production. I know Marshall is bigger, but I see similar style and upside as a pass-catching monster.

    • Eric Hardter

      May 5, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Blackmon is a hot-button player. Many truly believe he’s one of the 6-10 most talented receivers in the NFL. Personally, I view him as a slightly worse Michael Crabtree – that’s not meant as an insult, more to say that I don’t see the same upside many others do.

  3. Dan

    May 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks for your take on Blackmon, Eric. He’s one of those guys that shows just enough when he plays to keep you hanging on. At the end of the day, I’ll probably take your advice and hold onto him until something more concrete comes out on his status.

  4. phantasy5

    May 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    If I had Blackmon, I’d hold for now and is probably worth a roster spot for this season! I’m not running out to buy him anywhere either! Tough call, glad I’m not in that spot! LOL

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