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’m drafting in a new dynasty league and so far have gone with LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray and Le’Veon Bell in the first three rounds. The FantasyPro Draft Wizard is now telling me to take Reggie Bush (Shane Vereen is still available), but that would be my fourth running back in a row. Should I do that, or should I go with a receiver like Pierre Garcon, Roddy White, Vincent Jackson, Victor Cruz or Michael Crabtree? We can start up to three receivers and running backs, but only have to start one each. – Angel in TX
Though wide receivers have moved to the forefront of dynasty building in the minds of many owners, it’s always important to contextualize each and every scenario. In your case, it’s easy to see why that desire might be mitigated. By virtue of only having to start one wide-out, it’s clear the running back position has taken on an expanded level of importance in your mind.
To be truthful, I don’t disagree with you one bit. While it’s a virtual certainty you won’t get the same longevity out of your first three picks as you would had they been pass catchers, it’s my opinion your weekly floor will be higher than that of most your competitors. Simply put, though there are no guarantees in fantasy football, it’s significantly easier to project a weekly (and seasonal) workload upon a running back than it is on a wide receiver.
Considering you have two surefire (assuming health) PPR RB1’s in LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray, and another highly touted back in Le’Veon Bell (though our subscribers know my personal opinion deviates from the norm here), it’s safe to assume your backfield collection rivals (and likely surpasses) that of your opponents. Given that, your weekly floor should be higher as well, and your production likely steadier over the course of the season. By bucking the current standard I firmly believe you’ve placed yourself in a great position to win.
With that said, it’s time to shore up your other positions. Reggie Bush would be a fine addition as your RB4, but I’d place a priority on snagging one of those receivers you mentioned, particularly the undervalued Victor Cruz and Michael Crabtree. Either (both?) has a great chance to finish as a PPR WR1, further solidifying your starting lineup outside of your transcendent running back corps.
2. I just joined 12-man, half-PPR auction keeper league, and we can keep three players from their last value. We have a $250 budget and I am going to keep Adrian Peterson for $38 and Alfred Morris for $10. The last spot is up for grabs because I have Joique Bell for $2, Julian Edelman for $1, Michael Floyd for $5 and the same with Kendall Wright. What should I do? – Zach in Ontario
As you’re already planning on keeping both Adrian Peterson and Alfred Morris, I think you can effectively scratch Detroit running back Joique Bell off the list. Though he stands to gain value in what should be an improved offensive attack, he’s still splitting time with Reggie Bush on what will likely remain a pass-first offense. Instead, let’s look towards your group of potential pass catchers.
In a half-PPR setting, both Julian Edelman and Kendall Wright definitively lose value. In 2013 the pair combined for 199 receptions, meaning on the aggregate they lose 99.5 points solely by virtue of removing a half-point from a full PPR format. They also could each potentially lose looks in 2014 due to the return of Rob Gronkowski and emergence of Justin Hunter respectively, so even given the cost I’d pass on both.
This leaves Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd, who functioned as a true breakout player during his sophomore 2013 campaign. More importantly he did so not as a function of receptions (65) or touchdowns (five), meaning his floor remains high and we more than likely haven’t even begun to approach his ceiling. At only 2% of your budget, he’s my choice here in a landslide.
One last move you could also consider is to hang onto one of Wright or Bell and give Peterson the axe. Though he’s clearly the headliner of your keepers and likely some kind of superhuman or alien being, he’s still a 29-year old running back with plenty of miles on his tires. Cutting him in favor of a cheaper option still leave you with a strong core, but would also give you more ammunition to target more heavy hitters in your subsequent dispersal draft.
3. I need to pick 2 of the following players for my team’s taxi squad in my 10-team, non-PPR league: Jonathan Grimes, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, Jarvis Landry, Brian Quick, Markus Wheaton and Travis Kelce. The taxi squad is locked from the NFL’s week one until after our 2015 draft. I do have the ability to activate either or both players during the season if I need to, but won’t be able to replace them with anyone if I do that. My concern is that I want my taxi squad players to have value for next year, but I don’t want to put someone on there that will break out so much that I have to activate him and lose that spot. – Mike in TX
I’ll start by segregating the players listed above with the second part of your criteria, which is that you’d prefer not to place players of immediate usefulness on your taxi squad. Given that I think we can rule out Jonathan Grimes, Brandin Cooks, Brian Quick and Travis Kelce. As the backup to injury-prone ball carrier Arian Foster it seems to be more a matter of when, not if Grimes gets his chance, while the other three could potentially serve as integral pieces of their respective offenses in week one – I’d prefer to keep them on your active roster.
Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton is another player with a favorable depth chart, but truth be told I’m not so certain he fits your other criteria. Though it might be too soon to make any sort of sweeping declaration regarding the young pass catcher, I’m not convinced of his long-term viability. Antonio Brown is main attraction in Steel-town, and ageless tight end Heath Miller should be back at full health – adding in the three-headed monster at running back and it’s easy enough to see someone getting the squeeze out of fantasy relevance. My money’s on Wheaton.
This leaves the pass-catching duo of Miami’s Jarvis Landry and the Giants’ Odell Beckham. Both carry with them impressive draft pedigrees, with the former being selected in the draft’s second round and the latter going #12 overall. However, both are also blocked off by depth charts containing veterans who likely will have the right of way for the entirety of the 2014 season.
With that said, there are reasons for future optimism – DLF favorite Brian Hartline could be in his last season with the Dolphins, while New York’s Rueben Randle has been more hype than hope thus far in his short career. Should the cards get dealt in the right manner, both Landry and Beckham could be in for a huge bump in usage and opportunity despite the likelihood of each having a quiet rookie season. So given the totality of the situation, judging both by talent and future opportunity, Landry and Beckham can best afford the fare for your taxi squad.
4. In a half-PPR league with wide receivers and tight ends as the same “receiver” position, where would you rank Eric Ebron and his fellow tight ends in relation to this year’s rookie wide receivers? Tight ends are incredibly undervalued and I could possibly nab Ebron in the end of the second round or early third. In this format is he even worth drafting? – Mike in FL
Before I get to the question in specific, I want to briefly touch upon the rationale for the devaluation of tight ends in leagues where they’re combined with receivers into a single hybrid position. According to the 2013 data in a half-PPR setting, only five of the top-24 pass catchers would have been tight ends (according to per-game scoring averages). Continuing, only one of the top-12 pass catchers was a tight end – superstar Jimmy Graham.
Long story short, given this type of data it’s no surprise the tight end position fails to carry it’s normal value, even for the elite players. As such, when comparing and contrasting the class of 2014, it’s reasonable to expect more of the same. In short, unless you believe a player has Graham-level upside, there’s no reason to draft him as a potential WR/TE1.
To that point, there are numerous receivers who are perceived to have just that type of ceiling. This is included, but certainly not limited to pass catchers such as Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews and Kelvin Benjamin, with numerous others viewed similarly. When combined with a deep, if relatively uninspiring pool of running backs, it’s no surprise to me that a tight end such as Detroit’s Eric Ebron is falling.
Given that I think a late second round selection for the young Lion is reasonable value, with other options such as the Jets’ Jace Amaro and the Bucs’ Austin Sefarian-Jenkins checking in even lower. Though these relative valuations might seem low, I think it’s a fair cost for players who, in all likelihood, don’t possess elite upside at the position. Fair or not the combinatory nature of this fusion position dramatically deepens the talent pool, and it’s the rare tight end who will be able to stay afloat in WR/TE1 waters.
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