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. I’m thinking about trading Jerick McKinnon. Let’s assume the Vikings trade Adrian Peterson, and we know Matt Asiata is not the future. What does this mean for McKinnon’s value? Should I hold and sell high if/when AP gets traded?Jared in AL

[inlinead]I’m a big fan of Minnesota’s soon-to-be sophomore running back Jerick McKinnon. He’s one of the best athletes at the position in the league (no exaggeration, check out his NFL Combine numbers), but more importantly he made what appeared to be a relatively seamless transition from collegiate quarterback to NFL ball carrier. Apart from scoring the ball, he checked nearly all of the boxes I want to see from a perceived raw player.

The real intrigue in this drama, however, comes in the form of superstar Adrian Peterson’s future. While it’s entirely possible they’ll eventually swerve out of the way in this highly expensive game of chicken, at the current moment in time the Vikes appear steadfast in their refusal to part with the legendary running back. At the very least, their asking price is assuredly high enough that no team will want to bite.

Given that likelihood it stands to reason McKinnon’s value will stagnate, or altogether bottom out (on a relative level). If the majority of his touches are in the third-down or backup capacity, his physical gifts will disappear in the minds of dynasty owners trying to win now faster than you can say “C-Mike!” Given that, I can understand why you’d rather hedge your bets and attempt to cash out when the getting is good.

But unless you need some sort of immediate gratification, I think I’d hold onto McKinnon. He’s only about to turn 23 (in May), and has a bright future ahead of him even if said future won’t begin until 2016. I strongly believe he still has some part to play in the Minnesota backfield, and am not convinced whatever you’ll receive in trade will carry the same potential value.

  1. In my 10-team PPR league I can keep five to six of the following running backs or tight ends: LeSean McCoy, Jerick McKinnon, Lamar Miller, Terrance West, Charles Sims, CJ Spiller, Dan Herron, Brandon Oliver, Martellus Bennett, ASJ, Virgil Green, Owen Daniels, Ladarius Green and Dennis Pitta. McCoy, Miller and Bennett are obvious keepers. Thoughts on the rest?Brian in PA

I think CJ Spiller is a great player to own right now. As I’ve stated on many occasions and across many mediums, I’m no fan of the Saints’ incumbent starter Mark Ingram – I think he benefited from a perfect storm last year, including a soft early schedule and a plethora of scoring opportunities. On the whole, whenever I watched him I saw a running back who lacked dynamic and was highly dependent upon game flow.

It’s my opinion Spiller is a significantly better player, and I think those who believe he’ll function as a “Pierre Thomas on steroids” are sorely mistaken. He’s carried the load just as well as Ingram has in the past, while affording a significantly greater efficiency. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if and when he finishes the season as New Orleans’ most valuable ball carrier.

As for your second keeper, I’ll once again extol the virtues of Denver tight end Owen Daniels. He’s been with head coach Gary Kubiak his entire career, and was recently proffered a contract worth just over $12 million. While I doubt he’ll approach Julius Thomas’ level of touchdown scoring, there remains a black morass behind Rob Gronkowski (and to a lesser extent, Jimmy Graham) at the position – even though you’re keeping Martellus Bennett, that’s no reason to throw another TE1 (albeit an aging one) back into the pool.

For your final keeper, I’ll advise you to simply ready my answer to question one above. Jerick McKinnon has a bright future, and if you have the room you should have him on your roster. I like much more than the other potential options you’ve listed.

  1. My team feels solid but my weakness is at tight end, with only Delanie Walker and Ladarius Green. Should I sacrifice some of my depth and/or picks to make a play for Rob Gronkowski? I might be able to get him for a first round pick and TY Hilton.Jacob in TX

As I stated on the most recent edition of the DLF Podcast, I’m slowly but surely coming around to the possibility of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski being the most valuable asset in dynasty football. Sure, he has a bit of an injury history, but he also affords WR1-level output at fantasy football’s most barren position. Given the relative upgrade he offers on a weekly and yearly basis, as well as the fact he’s only about to turn 26 years old next month, it’s hard to argue against him.

So as much as I like Colts receiver TY Hilton, I’d give him and a first round pick up in a heartbeat to acquire the game’s biggest mismatch. Yes, Hilton is a great player, but wide receiver is arguably the deepest it’s been in years, and you can get 80% of his points with a guy like DeSean Jackson, who will more than likely come at a significantly reduced cost. The first round pick is also certainly valuable, but as with all rookies there’s no guarantee it’ll pan out to anything.

This brings me to an overarching point in trading rookie draft picks, especially at this point in the year when they’re very nearly at their peak value. The long and short of it is even fantastic prospects can fail – just ask Trent Richardson. But the potential of upside, combined with theoretical longevity can often seduce even the most steadfast owner.

For me, I’ll take the tried and true production of a guy like Gronk nearly every single time, barring a Godfather offer. He’s young, produces at the top of his position, and more importantly has a proven track record of fantasy viability. If members of your league are succumbing to the dreaded rookie fever, now’s the chance to strike – if you can snare a behemoth like Rob Gronkowski for what essentially amounts to hopes and dreams, do like Willie from Major League and “run like Hayes.”

  1. I’m in a deep 10-team PPR auction league with a $75 salary cap, that gives huge bonuses for running back reception touchdowns (i.e. 12 points instead of six points). I’m pretty much set on keeping Tom Brady ($10), Cam Newton ($1) and Teddy Bridgewater ($4.50) because we start three quarterbacks, as well as Matt Forte ($3.50) and DeMarco Murray ($3.75). With three keeper spots left, I’m considering CJ Anderson ($7.25) and Mark Ingram ($0.50) with one of Jeremy Maclin ($3.10), Keenan Allen ($2.30) or Mike Wallace ($2.35). I figure with the bonuses to PPR scoring, this makes pass catching running backs in high volume offenses much more valuable than wide receiver. I’m not crazy keeping four running backs, am I?Robert in CA

First things first, I think this represents the first league I’ve ever seen where it’s mandated that three quarterbacks must start on a weekly basis, so kudos to you and your league-mates for bucking the trend and going balls to the wall. As such I’m in favor of your decision to keep all three signal callers, as the trio of Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Teddy Bridgewater should comprise one of the strongest passing units in your league. While quarterbacks are devalued in most settings, both Brady and Newton are perennial QB1’s, and Bridgewater appears on his way there – this is a weekly advantage that cannot be understated.

From there, the duo of Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray represent obvious keepers, as each was a top-three ball carrier last season. Sure, Murray carries with him concerns of usage and Forte is nearly 30, but I have no doubt in my mind they’ll once again provide high-end output next season. Much like with the quarterbacks listed above, these guys are no-brainers as well.

But that’s where I’m going to draw the line. Denver running back CJ Anderson is a great selection, especially given his usage in the passing game (two receiving touchdowns), but I once again don’t believe a guy like Mark Ingram is really going to do much for you. Sure, he caught 29 passes but didn’t record a score in that facet, and only averaged a paltry 5.0 yards-per-reception – extrapolating on my point in the question above, with CJ Spiller in town I’ll be amazed if he even does that well again.

Instead I’d look to your receivers. I’m higher on San Diego’s Keenan Allen than most, and still view him as a top-15 asset in dynasty, and I also expect a bounce-back season from Minnesota pass catcher Mike Wallace (I’m aware Jeremy Maclin would be the popular choice here, and perhaps you should keep him over Wallace – that said I’m long-outed as a Maclin critic, and believe he landed with perhaps the worst team for his skill set), who was actually better than many think last season (AIR = 1.15). These players might not offer you much in the way of a bonus system, but you still need to round out your roster – I’d toss Ingram back with the rest of the chum and hunt for bigger fish.

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eric hardter