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. What is DeMarco Murray’s worth in a 12-team PPR league where we start two running backs? I am trying to determine his value now that he’s in Philly with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles there as well – is sixth overall in this year’s draft about right?Ram Rusher in NV

There’s no way I’d let Eagles running back DeMarco Murray go for anything less than rookie pick 1.01. The Eagles (and Chip Kelly) present the perfect offense for his abilities, and truth be told (as I elucidated in my 2015 Running Back Report) Philly is actually the best spot in the league for any ball carrier. Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles are good players, but when in doubt I’ll always follow the money when it comes to potential usage – Murray’s $21 million guaranteed tell me he’ll be the lead in what will assuredly be a run-heavy offense. I’m also much less worried about his 2014 usage than others are, and truth be told there are never any guarantees with incoming rookies. Simply put, in my estimation Murray is a superstar running back and should therefore be valued as such.

  1. This is my first dynasty off-season. How do you value rookie picks? I have pick 1.09, 2.03 and 2.09. Another owner has 1.01 and 1.10. Is trading 2.03 and 2.09 giving up too much for 1.10 in a 14-team league?Todd in ME

I actually think that trade is about even for each side. Pick 1.10 should land a good player, and in this year’s draft the drop-off seems to occur right around the end of the first round. Sure, you’re giving up the chance to land two solid players by virtue of shipping off your pair of second rounders, but your chances of striking gold are a lot bigger at pick 10 than either picks 17 or 23. I like the potential move.

  1. I need to drop four more players in my non-PPR league and I’ve narrowed down the choices to Theo Riddick, Khiry Robinson, Damien Williams, Storm Johnson, Marques Colston, Josh Huff, Justin Blackmon, Matt Bryant and the Lions defense. Thoughts?Stuart in GA

[inlinead]I can save you two spots almost immediately – when it comes to the off-season, if you need the space just drop your defense and kicker! Assuming you have waivers prior to the season, you can simply worry about these guys later – it’s few and far between, if ever, that you’ll find a legit, yearly difference maker at either position. From there I’d get rid of a pair of Florida-based running backs in Miami’s Damien Williams and Jacksonville’s Storm Johnson. The Dolphins have sniffed around the position far too much in the off-season, and where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. The Jaguars have been the same, and Johnson already has two bodies in front of him. I doubt you’ll miss either.

  1. I’m worried about Drew Brees taking a step back. In my 10-man league should I trade Kelvin Benjamin for Brandon Marshall and Nick Foles or Matt Ryan? My other receivers are Demaryius Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Odell Beckham, Julian Edelman, Cody Latimer and Charles Johnson.Jason in NY

I would. I know I normally forsake the virtues of actively shopping for elite signal callers in smaller leagues, and I know Drew Brees was fantasy’s QB5 as recently as last year – but in my opinion you’re not losing anything in the transition from Kelvin Benjamin to Brandon Marshall. Heck, despite the age disparity, you might even be gaining something! We’ve talked about this a bit on the DLF Podcast, but Benjamin’s rookie season was largely volume-based, and if Carolina drafts a pass catcher early it’s likely he won’t see that type of usage again. This isn’t to say he can’t improve, but it’s my conservative nature to never want to rely on volume and touchdowns repeating for receivers – Marshall is far more proven, and Chan Gailey’s offense will get targets to the number-one guy (just ask Stevie Johnson). Adding in the divergent directions Brees and Falcons signal caller Matt Ryan are moving, I think this is a win for you.

  1. I was thinking of trading Andre Ellington and CJ Spiller and was just wondering what you think as far as what I can expect to get in return? Would you rather just hold on and try to trade them after a big game during the season? Is a late first enough for Ellington? Is a second rounder not enough?Michael in NC

I wouldn’t be actively shopping either right now, as they both have a bit of rehabbing to do to their respective values – let’s start with Ellington. I’m long-outed as a proponent of the erstwhile Cardinals starter, largely based upon his sublime rookie season. Last year obviously wasn’t very good, but now suddenly it’s like 2013 never happened – perhaps more egregiously he’s being labeled fragile, even though his only injuries this year were a preseason ligament tear and a hernia, maladies that could happen to anyone. Maybe Arizona will draft (or trade for) a new starter, but as of yet Ellington is still the guy, and at worst he’ll be an effective backup/third-down guy. I’d hang on if your only offer is a second round pick.

Ditto CJ Spiller. He has a slightly more uphill climb than Ellington for fantasy relevance, but I don’t think it should take long for the Saints coaching staff to realize he’s much better than incumbent Mark Ingram. Heck, they already paid him more money! Unless you’re getting a mid-first rounder, I’d stand pat.

  1. In my 10-team PPR league I need to trim down my receiving corps. I have Julio Jones, Sammy Watkins, TY Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, Victor Cruz, Davante Adams, John Brown, Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry. To keep my roster balanced I can only hold onto five receivers (six tops) unless I neglect a different position group. Thoughts?Brian in PA

To me, your four most obvious keepers are Julio Jones, Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and TY Hilton. Following them, I see a tier break to guys like Allen Robinson and Davante Adams, with Jarvis Landry perhaps a half-tier below them. Gun to my head I’d go Robinson for number five, as I believe he’s slightly better than Adams, and also has a clearer path to immediate fantasy viability. However, if you could find a way to keep Adams as well that would be great. If not, I’d look to package Adams and Landry to a receiver-poor team for an upgrade elsewhere, or a high first round selection in this year’s draft.

  1. I hold picks 1.01, 1.06 and 1.08 in our rookie draft. I also have commensurate picks in the second and third rounds. My team is starved for running backs, but I am hesitant about drafting Todd Gurley because of injury history and Melvin Gordon because of lack of pass catching ability. I also notice that Kevin White and Amari Cooper are ranked in the top five overall and Gurley is ranked around number 13 overall. Would you trade the first pick or take White/Cooper, or is Gurley worth the risk?Sean in CO

I believe you’re overthinking things here. In my opinion Todd Gurley is far and away the most talented player in the draft (regardless of position), and he also happens to align with your team needs. Much like with Ellington above I’m not going to hold a ligament injury against the guy, as these can happen to anyone – more importantly, in this day and age the surgery is advanced enough that we shouldn’t worry about ACL tears to young, elite athletes. If you don’t want to take my word on that, Dynasty Doctor Scott Peak agrees. If you go with Gurley you should still be able to get a receiver like DeVante Parker or Dorial Green-Beckham at pick 1.06, which to me is less of a drop-off from Gurley to nearly any other running back in the class.

  1. Here is the trade offer I received in my 12-team PPR league: I give up Golden Tate and Alfred Morris and I would receive Kelvin Benjamin, as well as picks 1.09 and 2.06 in our upcoming rookie draft. Alfred Morris is my best running back, and right now my best pick is 1.03. I just wanted your thoughts on if that trade is worth doing?Noah in MN

I think I’d lean towards pulling the trigger. I know I spoke somewhat against Benjamin earlier, but he remains arguably the most valuable piece in the deal. Even though Lions receiver Golden Tate outperformed him last season, the gap (31.3 PPR points) simply wasn’t enough to declare Tate a better asset (especially taking into consideration Benjamin’s rookie status). And while I’m higher on Redskins running back Alfred Morris than most, he loses value in a PPR setting due to his lack of involvement in the passing game. You might not nail both picks 1.09 and 2.06, but if nothing else you can likely package them together for a running back more valuable than ALF. I’d make the deal.

  1. I am in a 12-man contract salary cap league and we have a league deadline of the NFL draft to give extensions to eligible players. All else equal, what would be a better one-year extension: Frank Gore for $16 or Jeremy Maclin for $7? We use a $200 salary cap for 25 roster spots.Peter in MN

Neither one carries an exorbitant price tag, so money shouldn’t factor into your decision. As such, I think you might as well simply ask who can help your roster more? I know Kansas City receiver Jeremy Maclin had a breakout year in 2014, so the popular opinion would likely be to go with him. Of course, as we know playing for the Chiefs offense isn’t going to be anything like playing for Chip Kelly’s diverse Philly unit, and as such it’s fair to wonder how much Maclin will revert to his early-year production? With Frank Gore we have the opposite – he finished as the PPR RB21 last year despite only corralling 11 receptions, a number which should spike in Indy given the aggregate 92 receptions from the running back corps last season. He’ll also be playing for a substantially more prolific offense, with less competition than he had last season. Adding in positional scarcity, and I’m going to go against the grain here – stick with Gore.

  1. I have the third pick in my upcoming rookie draft.  My team is pretty solid at every position except running back, so I’m quite tempted by Melvin Gordon should he fall to me (I expect he will).  That being said, it really goes against my philosophy to draft a player for need versus players I think are probably better at a more important dynasty position (Kevin White or Amari Cooper). Is this an instance where it is ok to abandon philosophy and draft to fill a big need? Patrick in CO

Honestly I don’t view Melvin Gordon as a step down from any of the incoming class of rookie receivers, so to me your team need doesn’t really factor into the equation. With that said, if you personally believe he’s a tier below, than your best option would be to offer up your draft pick via trade and acquire a stud running back in that manner. According to the most recent ADP (not a direct correlation, but a good barometer at the very least) the third rookie is going off the board, on average, as the 29th overall pick. This is in the range of running backs such as Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Hill and DeMarco Murray. Truth be told I would take any member of that quartet over the third pick in the draft, which could perhaps highlight the disparity between trade value and ADP value – nevertheless, that makes it worth a shot! You’ll lose something in the longevity department (at least theoretically), but filling a need with a proven commodity should carry with it the same type of good vibes as selecting the “next stud rookie.”

  1. I play in a 10-man, half-PPR salary cap League with contracts. My league allows owners to award a max of one four-year contract that historically goes to a rookie pick due to rookies only costing $1.  When a contract expires, the player is thrown back into the pool but owner retains the rights to match any auction bid.  Obviously stud players end up costing a lot following their rookie deals. In this format with a four-year max deal at $1, does that place more focus on rookie RB’s because historically they are more productive in their first years in the league?Rob in MN

After the past couple years yielded four 1,000-yard seasons from rookie pass catchers (with Sammy Watkins knocking on the door), I think we might be in the midst of a paradigm shift towards rookie receivers being ready to go out of the gate. I do believe there’s something to the “simplicity” of the running back position relative to the precision required for receivers, but at the very least that gap is beginning to narrow. So given that, as well as the fact your contract will be for a minimum of four years (with the potential for more), I’d just pick the guy you like, regardless of the position he plays.

  1. I have an aging team still in a “win now” window that’s got the second and fourth picks of our veteran draft. Marlon Brown is available, and Stevie Johnson was recently dropped by an owner in a roster-clearing move. The guy picking first is taking a quarterback, so both Brown and Johnson will be there. I’m leaning Brown because youth and Trestman, but Stevie landing in SD intrigues me. Who would you take and why?Ralph in IL

I’d go with new Charger Stevie Johnson here. No, he hasn’t done anything of note over the course of the past couple seasons, but given the ineptitude of the offenses he played on (Buffalo in 2013 and San Francisco last year), I’m not honestly sure that’s much of an indictment. His new quarterback (at least at the moment, depending on how much stock you place in the off-season rumor mill) Philip Rivers is a mammoth upgrade on anyone he’s played with previously, and only Keenan Allen stands above him on the depth chart.

I suppose you could say similar things about the Ravens’ Marlon Brown, but the simple truth is he hasn’t shown anything near what Johnson has in their respective careers. There’s no guarantee he’ll beat out Michael Campanaro or Kamar Aiken, and even if he does I expect Baltimore to select a pass catcher early in the draft. You can never underestimate the “Trestman Effect,” but that’s still not enough for me to invest in Brown over Johnson, and truth be told the combination of these factors renders the disparity in youth null and void. I think Stevie’s your guy.

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eric hardter