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. In my 12-team half-PPR league I have been pondering a trade which would give me picks 1.04, 1.07, Larry Fitzgerald and two first round picks next year in our rookie draft. I would be giving up Mike Evans and Jordan Matthews. That would only leave me with Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Allen Robinson and Markus Wheaton. I also have picks 1.02, 1.05 and 2.08. Am I crazy to trade two higher end second year receivers?Stephen in TN

You’re certainly not crazy, but it’s not a trade I’d advise. Judging by the look of your team you either went young in your startup draft, or were able to procure a preponderance of rookie picks last year. In either scenario, the operative point is you were able to build a foundation of young, promising players who have already flashed more than expected in year one.

So why roll it back any further? Rookie picks are the most seductive of assets, sure, but your collection of talent already essentially includes a “Who’s who” of sophomore pass catchers. Unless you truly believe the players you’d acquire at picks 1.04 and 1.07, along with those coming down the pipeline in 2016, I don’t see the point of risking your current nucleus.

Moreover, while your strategy worked well last season, the 2014 freshman stand as an aberrant class, and expecting similar immediate (or perhaps even long term) output might not be the best logic. Forward thinking is certainly encouraged, but at some point the road towards winning diverges from that of accumulating young talent. Even if the trade is fair in value (as the proposed deal appears), your two birds in the hand (Mike Evans and Jordan Matthews) are worth four in the bush.

Adding onto this the fact you already have two top-five picks and this definitively becomes a luxury trade, and one that could and likely would hurt your lineup. Assuming even moderate improvement (or stagnation in the case of Odell Beckham), your team stands to be even more potent in 2015. Isn’t that the point of it all?

  1. In my 10-team non-PPR league I have three offers on the table: Alfred Morris and my pick 1.06 for the 1.01, Morris, 1.06 and 2.6 for picks 1.03 and 2.03, or Morris for Randall Cobb. We start two running backs and I already have Eddie Lacy, but I’m younger and more uncertain at receiver (we start 2-3). Are any of these worth taking?Kevin in OH

Redskins running back Alfred Morris is a fine RB2 in 10-man league, as he finished 2014 as the non-PPR RB13. Of course, 65 points behind the RB5 (Arian Foster), equating to roughly four points per week, or just over 37% of ALF’s per-game production. So ultimately the question you need to ask yourself is do you want a good RB2, or a pair of elite ball carriers?

[inlinead]Honestly, given the dearth of talent at the position, and as much as I like Morris, I think I’d elect to go with the first option. By virtue of spending a top-10 pick on Todd Gurley, and then adding three offensive lineman over the next three rounds, the Rams emphatically stated their future designs as it relates to remolding the offense. Simply put, Gurley will be the offense.

Yes, you’ll have to give up a steady, high-end RB2 to merely jump five spots in the pecking order, but I think the juice is worth the squeeze. Getting Randall Cobb would also be nice, but remember, the non-PPR format will always favor ball carriers. Perhaps more importantly, wide receivers become the more fungible position in this setting, especially given the glut of current options. I think you should go for broke and go for Gurley.

  1. You’re well established as a proponent of Andre Ellington, perhaps unreasonably and maniacally so. What do you make of the results of draft weekend as it relates to his future? Is he still the one for you, and does the restraining order still stand?Eric in MD

Okay, so I took a page out of the Bill Simmons Mailbag playbook and wrote this one myself. So sue me. But this is my soapbox, thank you very much, and I’ll espouse one Andre Ellington’s virtues whenever I please!

And in doing so it would be impossible to ignore that the draft-day weekend went about as well as it possibly could. Adrian Peterson, he of the multitude of trade rumors, stayed put in Minnesota, and the Cardinals didn’t select a ball carrier until the end of the third round when they took David Johnson. Though Johnson is a bigger body he doesn’t play that way, nor does he live up to the measureables he generated at the NFL Combine – I find it unlikely he’ll bite into anything other than a tiny piece of the 2015 pie.

To that point, head coach Bruce Arians has stated Ellington’s role will remain the same as it was last year. While there’s likely some hyperbole to that statement, even if the third-year runner touches the ball 15-18 times per game he should function as a useful fantasy asset. However, given that Arians was previously quoted as saying the Ellington injury “set us way back offensively,” he clearly understands the value of his healthy ball carrier.

Which is why I think we should do the same and remember just how good Ellington was before suffering a preseason muscle tear in his foot. As a rookie Ellington averaged 5.5 YPC and 9.5 YPR, while also scoring four times. Digging deeper, he also led the NFL in percentage of broken tackles per touch (17.8% according to Football Outsiders), while tying for sixth in runs of 20+ yards despite only accumulating 118 carries. Quite simply the numbers belie the current narrative that the guy’s a bum just because he looked bad while playing hurt last season.

So if your league-mates are willing to sell on the cheap, I believe now’s the time to strike. Ellington is still the guy to own in the backfield, and that should once again bear itself out in his usage. I’d offer a second round pick and pray your trade partner forgot just how good Ellington is.

  1. With their selections in the first two rounds and the hiring of Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator, are Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens practically begging us to trade for Joe Flacco? How good can he be this year?James in ME

It sort of seems that way, doesn’t it? While Baltimore’s off-season got off to a rocky start with the departure of Torrey Smith and news that Dennis Pitta might never play again, things turned around in a hurry. With their first two selections in the draft the Ravens stocked the shelves anew, giving quarterback Joe Flacco a pair of new toys in Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams.

While it would be disingenuous to assert these two rookies will contribute immediately, the opportunity will be there – but I’m not going to get ahead of myself. As I mentioned when I answered the first question, rookie contributions are more often than not few and far between. As such it’s tough to get behind the idea of Flacco, a guy who has never surpassed 4,000 passing yards, getting them integrated quickly, despite the addition of Marc Trestman.

So color me skeptical, at least for the 2015 season. It’s probably going to take the team some time to gel, and while I’d never say this to his face it’s not as if veteran wide receiver Steve Smith is getting any younger. Flacco makes for an interesting stash, as he’s currently going as the QB21 in the late 14th round according to the most recent ADP data, but this could be a scenario where the consensus is accurate. I’m not expecting any Trestman-made miracles.

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eric hardter