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 just made a trade with the commissioner of my dynasty league. Who would you say got the better end of this deal: Team 1 gave up Calvin Johnson and Team 2 gave up 2015 picks 1.04 and 2.04.Greg in MN

Based off our Rookie ADP, courtesy of the omnipresent Scott Fish, pick 1.04 would yield someone such as DeVante Parker, Melvin Gordon or Nelson Agholor, with an outside chance of Kevin White should he slip. Pick 2.04 would then net a guy like Marcus Mariota, David Johnson, Jay Ajayi or Phillip Dorsett, with the possibility for players such as Jaelen Strong or Devin Funchess dropping. So yeah, for me it’s Calvin Johnson pretty handily.

Dude is only going to be 30 come September, and even though he missed some time last season, he averaged nearly 100 yards per game when he was fully healthy. I see no reason he can’t sustain similar production for at least the next three to four years, whereas the rookies selected would take significant time to even approach that zenith, if they do. To that point, there are no sure things with rookies – just read Jeff Miller’s recent series if you doubt that – so why give up one of the game’s best when there are no guarantees on return? I get that Megatron’s value has diminished in recent months, but he’s still a tier-one receiver for me – unless you’re getting pick 1.01 and some sweeteners I like the Calvin side pretty easily.

  1. After foolishly trading away Russell Wilson early last season I’ve managed to rebuild my quarterback corps with a group of Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, RGIII and Johnny Manziel, but I now need to upgrade at running back. So what type of value, including other positions, do you think I should seek for Brees in a 10-team, 2QB league?Blake in TX

[inlinead]Unfortunately I think you’re selling Drew Brees at his lowest right now – not only did the Saints sell off Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, they neglected to select a single pass catcher in the 2015 NFL Draft. While the return of Brandin Cooks should help, this is inarguably the most barren pass-catching corps we’ve seen in New Orleans in years. Adding in the likelihood of the Saints shifting to more of a run-centric philosophy, and Brees takes yet another hit.

But still – he’s Drew Brees! He hasn’t been less than the fantasy QB8 since 2004, and it remains to be seen in the Saints will be good enough to install a run-first scheme with a sieve of a defense. More importantly, it’s a 2QB league so the concept of supply and demand works definitively in your favor – I’d be seeking an aging RB1 in the range of DeMarco Murray or Marshawn Lynch, which would nicely round out your roster.

  1. A Marc Trestman offense usually means a tasty fantasy football running back.  Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro and Buck Allen all have upside, and all have questions.  Who do you think comes out on top for fantasy purposes when the dust settles?AJ in Toronto

I believe it’s Justin Forsett by a significant margin. I like “the artist” Lorenzo Taliaferro (his name lends also itself to being a soap opera actor, in my opinion), but the fact is the Ravens brought in competition in the form of fourth-round pick Javorius Allen. Meanwhile, Forsett’s contract was extended by the same regime, and he already functioned as one of the NFL’s most efficient ball carriers last season. Continuing, he’s shown soft hands in the passing game (nearly three receptions per contest last year), and the “Trestman Effect” can only extrapolate that. It’s criminal he’s the RB38 according to the latest ADP – buying guys like Forsett at that price is what wins championships.

  1. This is a more general, open-ended question than some of the specific ones you get. We’re approaching the first rookie draft in our 10-team IDP league. Our IDP scoring is focused on big plays (i.e. 0.5-point tackles compared to five-point sacks and 10-point forced turnovers). Where would you slot the top IDP rookies into your draft board? Do Dante Fowler and Leonard Williams merit first round consideration?Benjamin in Southampton

I dabble in IDP a bit, but by no means am I an expert. As such I deferred to a member of DLF’s cadre of Erics, one Eric Breeze (you can find his IDP rankings here), and he provided me with what I consider to be some very sound advice. I’ll provide the summation here, but the long-form is available to you in terms of this excellent article he wrote in late April.

Essentially, there’s little to no impetus to select an IDP player until the second or third round at the earliest. The offensive players will carry more value, and if you really want a defensive stud it’s more than likely you can trade back and still get the player you covet. Yes, your scoring makes it more enticing to consider grabbing an IDP early, but last season only seven players had five or more interceptions, and only two had five forced fumbles – the sack bonus is nice, but these other sweeteners will be rare and hard to predict. Sticking with offense early seems like the best move.

  1. I’m starting a new 10-team league. It’s semi-competitive but I don’t think we’re ready for IDP’s. I noticed that there aren’t team defense rankings. I understand that dynasty leagues are about individual players over their careers, but picking teams is different because there is no “life span” for them. Is it weird to have team defenses in dynasty leagues?Scott in CA

It’s been my experience that team defenses are basically the norm in dynasty leagues, since not everyone is ready for the rigors of tracking individual players on both sides of the ball. With that said, they’re not necessary (our own Jacob Feldman would say the same thing about kickers, as well), and I participate in leagues both with and without. Essentially, they represent random points on a temporal timeline, and selecting a “good” team defense that will produce year after year is more unlikely than not. Ultimately, it just comes down to preference – if you want to add more of a “fun” element (i.e. luck and randomness), go for it. If not, it’s perfectly fine to do without.

  1. In my salary cap league we have a rookie-only draft in which their contracts are pre-determined. We made a mistake in which ALL SECOND ROUND rookies cost $8. This seems silly as the last pick in the first round is $13 and the first pick overall is $25. So the drop off through the second round is too much. One of our members noticed this, and traded for six second round picks. We voted to change the pricing structure, but we can’t decide if it should go into effect now, or next year. I think it’s unfair to let him have six picks at such a low price, and then never let anyone else do it. But we are deciding the rule last minute. Sean in NY

[inlinead]While it may be unfair, I don’t think you can ever make retroactive decisions in a dynasty setting unless collusion has been proven. Whether you like it or not, your league-mate made a savvy move, and one that was within the rules at the time. You should definitely change the setting for future years, but there was nothing illegal done here – I think you have to let it stand and learn from it.

  1. I’m rebuilding and looking for some boom/bust bargains. What is your opinion on the future value of Knile Davis, Tim Wright, and Ladarius Green? I have 16 draft picks so I either need to trade picks or cut bait with these guys. I’m looking for two seasons out.Sean in CO

If you want a running back who struggles to average 3.5 YPC and fumbles inordinately, Knile Davis is your guy. In all seriousness, I think the guy stinks. I know you have a plethora of picks, but I’d look to sell him to the Jamaal Charles owner post haste, unless said owner is you.

Of the remaining two players I suppose Ladarius Green has the highest ceiling for the future, but his proponents have been saying that for two years straight. No, Antonio Gates can’t play forever, but it’s not as if he’s been slowing down either. I like Patriots tight end Tim Wright, but he’s beyond buried there – if nothing else, Green’s contract is up following the season, and perhaps he’ll find a better path to playing time elsewhere.

  1. I just listened to your post-draft podcast and my brother and I co-own a team that is now in it’s second year (we both have 10 years of dynasty experience with another league), and we drafted Eddie Lacy, DeMarco Murray and Peyton Manning, then picked up Andre Johnson, Mike Evans, and Allen Robinson later.  We led the league in scoring last year and we have pick 1.06.  We are leaning towards a receiver, however we are debating picking up a veteran. The thought with the running backs is that we can get David Johnson or David Cobb with the 18th pick. What are your thoughts?Brian in WI

If you believe you’re in a position to win now, I see nothing wrong with flipping pick 1.06 for some proven pass-catching talent. With that said, I think a core of Andre Johnson, Mike Evans and Allen Robinson should be fairly formidable. Of course, adding a player like Emmanuel Sanders (currently neck and neck with the ADP of the sixth rookie, Dorial Green-Beckham) could both push you over the top now while giving you sustained production for the next few years, so if you really want to make that leap I think that would be my plan of action.

As for picking a running back, this is the right time to have second round picks. No, you won’t land any of the top-tier guys, but players like David Cobb and Jay Ajayi could and should have year-one impacts. You’re already set here with your starters, so this is a position where bridging the gap between guys who have year-one viability (i.e. they could function as spot starters in a pinch) and future value makes sense – in other words, you don’t need the immediate contribution, so an eye to the future makes sense.

  1. Our league throws un-owned veterans into the rookie pool, so where would you rank Ryan Tannehill on a rookie draft board in a 12-team league?Drew in Parts Unknown

I believe Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has a significantly higher ceiling than either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, and both of them are routinely going anywhere from the early to late second round. As such, I’d have no issue slotting Tannehill in the range of picks 1.07-1.10, especially when considering the massive steps forward he’s taken over the past few years. In fact, while I like Seattle’s Russell Wilson a bit better, I could foresee a scenario where Tannehill at least enters the discussion for being considered the second-best quarterback of the 2012 class, behind Andrew Luck. No, quarterbacks aren’t inordinately valuable in smaller league formats, but this is still a guy who finished as the 2014 QB8, and more importantly he embraced his running ability like never before. If you need the help, I’d certainly consider him as a first-round player in your upcoming draft.

  1. Do you think that Tavon Austin will ever be a relevant fantasy player? Do the acquisitions of Nick Foles, Todd Gurley and new coordinator Frank Cignetti help or hurt his value? I might be able to get him for a song, but really don’t know if I should waste the roster spot! Thoughts? Ramrusher in NV

I’m definitively in the minority, but I certainly believe Rams receiver Tavon Austin still has a future as a relevant fantasy asset. No, he wasn’t good last season, but the truth of it was none of the St. Louis pass catchers afforded any sort of sustained success – to that point, the Rams and the Chiefs were the only two NFL teams who didn’t have a PPR Top-50 receiver in 2014. With the combination of Austin Davis and Shaun Hill under center, that’s not wholly unsurprising.

He flashed a bit more as a rookie, and his AIR value of 1.01 suggested that, at the minimum, he achieved expected production. He also put forward a couple of highlight reel caliber plays, showing that even though he wasn’t able to do it consistently, he has the ability to play at this level. If nothing else, it’s a ray of sunshine behind the numerous clouds.

So sure, if you can basically get him for free, why not do it? The offense is definitely going to run through rookie running back Todd Gurley, and I doubt coordinator Frank Cignetti will be significantly different than now-deposed Brian Schottenheimer (it was an internal promotion), but at least Nick Foles should offer some semblance of continuity under center. There’s a 99% chance he’ll never live up to his draft status, but I still believe his entire story hasn’t been written.

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eric hardter