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. I have picks 1.02 and 2.05 in the rookie draft for my 14-team, half-PPR league. I was originally offered pick 1.03 and Steven Jackson for my pick 1.02. I countered the offer so I would get 1.03, 2.10 and Shane Vereen while giving up picks 1.02 and 2.05. He has accepted the trade and it is now pending – was this a good move on my part? – Bryan in SD
Barring a severe type of format, it’s essentially universally recognized the first two picks in nearly every rookie draft will be receivers Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans. As such, to obtain one of the first two rookie selections you had better know someone with a key to Fort Knox, because it’s going to take a tidy sum to obtain their services. Simply put, in the eyes of most dynasty owners the tier divide following these first-round freshman might as well metaphorically represent the Grand Canyon.
With that said, it’s not as if subsequent players are chopped liver. Fighting for the top spot of the “best of the rest” are players like Brandin Cooks, Bishop Sankey, Odell Beckham Jr. and Eric Ebron, all of whom could represent high-end options in the future. Each may lack the ceilings of Watkins or Evans, but according the May ADP data (courtesy of Ryan McDowell) they’re being selected in the fifth, fifth, seventh and seventh rounds respectively in startup drafts – that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Given that, the question isn’t whether one of these second-tier rookies is a worthy selection. Instead you need to be asking yourself if what you received in return is enough to bridge the gap from pick 1.03 to 1.02. With Patriots running back Shane Vereen now residing on your roster, I think you obtained fairly close to the best-case scenario.
No, Vereen has yet to put together an entire season of sustained production, but it’s hard to ignore what he did last year when he was healthy. Including the playoffs, Vereen sported a per-game average of 5.3 carries for 25.9 yards to go along with 5.4 receptions for 50.2 yards. Adding in his four total touchdowns, Vereen averaged 12.1 points per game (given your half-PPR format), good for RB2-level output.
With that type of output, it’s easy to imagine Vereen will find a spot in your starting lineup. In fact, recent scuttlebutt has insinuated Vereen could play half the Patriots’ offensive snaps, affording the potential for even more statistical goodness. So, in summation, you’ve swapped out one starter for two – even if neither is named Watkins or Evans. I like what you did.
2. It seems Andre Ellington is about to take the RB1 slot with the Cardinals. If he gets 60% of the touches and Stepfan Taylor receives 40% plus goal line touches, which running back has more potential? – Baker Boys in AZ
Fortunately for our Editor-in-Chief Ken Kelly, I happen to like him quite a bit. It’s for that reason and that reason alone I won’t pen a 1,500-word exposition extolling the virtues of Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (I’ve already done that, but play along for a second). Instead, let’s go through a brief synopsis of Arizona’s off-season exploits.
[inlinead]?During the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cardinals failed to select a single ball carrier. In the second round of said draft they selected Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas, a player recognized for his blocking prowess. Only two days later they jettisoned former second round running back Ryan Williams, thinning the pool of contenders to Rashard Mendenhall’s throne even more. With the return of guard Jonathan Cooper and the signing of tackle Jared Veldheer, it’s safe to say Arizona is en route to establishing an identity on the ground.
Given his sublime efficiency as a rookie, it’s no surprise the sophomore sensation in Ellington is rumored to be first in line for a significant workload. Though he only received 10.5 touches in 2013, he nonetheless finished as the PPR26. This, of course, is despite missing a game and only scoring four times – simply put, his electricity in the open field should ensure he remains a valuable asset.
Given the totality of the above, it’s easy for me to suggest Ellington is the player to own. Putting my money where my mouth is, I have him ranked as my PPR RB13 and recently traded a first round selection to obtain his services. Stepfan Taylor is the definition of “just a guy” and might not even beat out journeyman Jonathan Dwyer for the “hammer back” position – to be honest, I’d be floored if he approached 40% of the total touches. The window to buy Ellington at less than face value is nearly closed, but he’s my easy choice for most valuable Arizona ball carrier.
3. For my 12-team league I have a rookie/free agent draft in process, where I own picks 4.05 and 4.08. Right now the only quarterback on my roster is Cam Newton, so given that would Blake Bortles be a reach at 4.05? Would you go with Alex Smith, Joe Flacco or EJ Manuel instead? – Steve in TX
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times, the quarterback position is the least valuable position in smaller league formats. Given the preponderance of quality options currently residing under center, it’s my opinion that a valuable starting option can be had quickly and easily. In the stock market that is dynasty football, the supply far outweighs the demand.
With that said, choosing your backup quarterback is a different beast altogether. In all likelihood, you’ll only be starting said player in case of bye week or injury, so I’m a firm believer in aiming above the mundane. In other words, if your starter is set, why not shoot for the moon with a talented backup?
Applying this philosophy to your options, I’d immediately rule out Alex Smith and Joe Flacco. At this point in their respective careers there exists enough data such that we know what they are – middle-tier options who likely don’t possess enough ability to break into the upper echelon. Since you already have Cam Newton entrenched as your starter, I think your backup should come with greater upside.
Despite his pedestrian rookie season, EJ Manuel represents a more intriguing option. He’s the definition of a project, still struggles with his deep ball and was nicked up far too often in 2013, but maintains his first-round pedigree. With the Bills upgrading their skill positions due to the additions of Watkins and Mike Williams, Manuel is set up for success in 2014.
With that said, I’d still go with Jaguars rookie Blake Bortles. He’s a better pure passer than Manuel and will be given the luxury of learning the ropes under veteran Chad Henne. I liken his upside to a poor man’s Andrew Luck and would gladly choose him with a mid-fourth round selection.
4. I’ve taken over an orphaned dynasty team with lots of draft picks. The current team has a core of Nick Foles, Zac Stacy, Stevan Ridley, Marcus Lattimore, Knile Davis, TY Hilton, Jeremy Maclin, Tavon Austin, Emmanuel Sanders, Cecil Shorts and Charles Clay. Fortunately, I also have rookie picks 1.03, 1.04, 1.05, 1.07, 1.09, and 1.10. Assuming Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans go first, who should I take with the first three picks, and who should I target for the next three picks? In this scoring format, receivers and tight ends are 1.0 PPR but running backs are only 0.5 PPR. – Matt in NY
When it comes to orphan rosters, often times it behooves the owner to simply take a best player available type of strategy. In your case, given the unsettled nature of your skill positions, I don’t believe you should deviate from this tact. With that said, I also think it makes sense to play your positional odds.
With picks 1.03 through 1.05, I think the most sensible thing for you to do is to ensure you snare Eric Ebron. I like Charles Clay quite a bit, but with only one season of production it’s fair to question his long-term viability. As Ebron is the consensus TE1 in rookie drafts, as well as the only one likely to be taken in the first round, you don’t want to take the chance he’ll be selected at pick 1.06.
Along a similar vein, I would be sure to select one of Bishop Sankey or Carlos Hyde with your initial trio of picks. Once again these two ball carriers represent the distinct top positional tier, so if there’s one you truly prefer you should make sure you’re able to snare him. Given the current state of your ball carriers, adding either represents a likely upgrade.
With your third selection I’d take Brandin Cooks, as I believe he represents the third best receiver in the class. If you prefer Odell Beckham Jr. more, he would certainly be a fine choice, but I believe there’s a higher likelihood he’ll make it to your second trio of picks. Given the state of your receiving corps, Cooks could potentially step in as a year-one starter.
Another reason I’d advocate you to skimp on pass catchers early is because of the depth of the position. With picks 1.07, 1.09 and 1.10 you could very easily pick three more receivers, or two plus Hyde if he falls. If all goes as expected, you should still be able to choose from a pool of players including Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Jordan Mathews, Davante Adams or Donte Moncrief, all of whom possess PPR WR2 (or better) upside.
If you choose to follow this blueprint you should be able to effectively overhaul and upgrade your three biggest trouble positions. Moreover, given the relatively smaller immediate impact of rookie players, it’s also possible you could snag an early 2015 first round selection to aid in your rebuilding process. You might be down now, but given this injection of youth you won’t be out for long.
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