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!

*Editor’s Note – For total team evaluations, please be sure to use the DLF Newsletter Team Advice Form!*

  1. We keep 14 players in our league of 12 teams, excluding defenses and kickers, which are not allowed to be kept. We have one combined rookie and free agent draft of ten rounds in late August. In such a hybrid Dynasty/Keeper League, what round would you expect the top defenses or kickers to go? Am I crazy to think as early as round two?Leonard in TX

You’re not crazy, because there always seems to be at least one guy in every league who pops off early on what are likely fantasy’s most replaceable positions.  Does that make it a good strategy though?  Not in my book.  Yes, there will always be defenses you don’t want to start, but in a 12-team league you should be able to nab a top-20 unit, at worst – ditto for kickers.  With the fantasy difference between the top units and bottom level of “startable” units largely negligible, I’d much rather load up on rookies and upside backups, waiting until the end to grab the superfluous fantasy positions.

  1. In my 8-man, half-PPR auction league we keep six players. The auction budget is $350, less the cost for the retained players. Which six should I keep: Tony Romo ($31), Matt Stafford ($30), Kirk Cousins ($2), Lamar Miller ($36), Jeremy Langford ($10), Mark Ingram ($14), Matt Jones ($10), Keenan Allen ($24), Jordy Nelson ($4), Kelvin Benjamin ($10), Dez Bryant ($41, and a max retention of two more years) and Jarvis Landry ($36). We start two quarterbacks, three running backs, five receivers, one tight end and a RB/WR FLEX, and can retain a max of 3 players at any one position.Tony in CA

While the immediate thought could be to look towards the quarterback position, as it’s a 2QB league, I’m instead choosing to focus on running backs and receivers here.  With only eight teams your league will still see only 16 starting signal callers on a weekly basis, versus a minimum of 24 ball carriers and 40 receivers (plus the RB/WR FLEX).  As such, I’d start with the following players:

Lamar Miller – He’s arguably a top-five dynasty/keeper running back, and only 10% of your cap.

Mark Ingram – I don’t love his talent, but the opportunity is there, and he’s only 4% of your cap.

Keenan Allen – He was a legitimate WR1 last year before the injury, and only 7% of your budget.

Jordy Nelson – Truly a no-brainer here.

Kelvin Benjamin – See Nelson, Jordy.

Since you can’t keep a fourth receiver, I’d suggest you opt for Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins as your final keeper.  He’s only 0.6% of your budget, and should afford numbers somewhat similar to your other options.  All told, this will allow you to maintain nearly 75% of your remaining budget, allowing you to go big on the remaining players out there, while also likely ensuring you can nab Dez Bryant back in the dispersal.

  1. I recently updated my trade block to include Jordan Reed in hopes of acquiring a 2017 first round pick. I had a couple offers for him but I’m getting cold feet. My backups are uninspiring, with just Coby Fleener and Jesse James, and my team is built to win now. How do you balance adding value to your roster with making a championship run?Tim in MT

I always lean towards the latter.  If you have a legitimate chance to make a run, and you have 2015’s PPR TE2 as your starter, I think you have to keep him.  Yes, Jordan Reed definitely has injury concerns, but the unfortunate truth about the state of the tight end position is outside of a select few, you’re not going to any sort of elite upside.  And even though Reed has had both concussion and hamstring issues, the fact is he has that upside.  I’d much rather attempt to trade the vastly inferior Coby Fleener, fresh off his recent signing in New Orleans, and cash out high there.  But all told, I still think you should do what you have to do to win it all – you can worry about the draft picks later.

  1. I’m in a three-year, half-PPR keeper league, heading into year two.  It’s 12 teams and each team may keep up to three players in the same round they drafted them in the prior year’s draft.  Free agent pick-ups may be kept as last round picks. Due to trades that only netted me a 3rd place finish, I do not have a 2nd/7th/8th round pick.  I’m set with keeping Allen Robinson (fourth round) and Jordy Nelson (sixth round), but who would you pick out of this remaining group: Jamaal Charles (first), Lamar Miller (first), Allen Hurns (last round), Kevin White (12th) or Jay Ajayi (last round)? I’ll likely be drafting toward the back end of round one.  I can’t imagine anyone would give me a second rounder for Charles.Matt in NY

Given the brevity of your league, this is ultimately much more straightforward than in a theoretically everlasting setting.  So while players like Allen Hurns and Jay Ajayi certainly represent good values, I think you want to keep the biggest impact players regardless of price.  Both Lamar Miller and Jamaal Charles are undoubtedly worth first round picks, especially given that 35 other players are already off the board, so you definitely have a good situation.  Since he’s not coming off an injury I’d lean towards Miller, but either would be a good choice.

You also mentioned about the likelihood of selling Charles for a second round pick, in that you didn’t think it would be possible.  To that, I’d suggest you could keep Charles, and instead offer up Miller for a second rounder.  You might be sacrificing a little bit of 2016 value, but you’ll get an additional pick out of the equation, further bolstering your chances of taking home the crown.

  1. I gutted my team last off-season and underwent a full rebuild. The results are shocking and I find myself wondering if I can contend this year or if I should try to delay it one more year. I’m loaded at receiver, deep at quarterback, loaded with 2016 draft picks, good enough on defense and okay at running back. I also have the first pick in every round this year, so I have my eye on Ezekiel Elliott. However, I fear that if I take Elliott my team will be out of the running for Leonard Fournette next year. Given that I value Fournette and the 2017 class in general much higher than Elliott and his 2016 brethren, should I try to turn most of that 2016 draft capital into 2017 capital and maximize my chances for Fournette, or go for it with Elliott?Matt in TN

If you truly want to embrace a rebuild, I can understand your hesitance in thinking that while you might be close to a breakthrough, you won’t quite get there.  And as you mentioned, the obvious ramification for taking your shot and missing is curtailing your efforts towards obtaining a top flight pick in what appears, at least on the surface, to be a draft class replete with studs.  But honestly, it’s just not something I’d worry about.

The fact is that in Ezekiel Elliott, you’ll be obtaining the top player in this year’s draft class.  Continuing, barring a scenario such as Tavon Austin, Melvin Gordon or Nelson Agholor, it’s more than likely Elliott will accrue value as a three-down running back likely to go off the board in the top half of the first round.  In other words, not only will you have his services this year, but much like with Todd Gurley in 2015, he’s likely to be worth even more at this time next year, at which point you could flip him for Leonard Fournette (and potentially then some more).  It’s ultimately akin to having your cake and eating it too.  So my advice would be to roll the dice, see how things play out for 2016, and play it by ear depending on how the success you wind up achieving.

  1. With Jacksonville signing Chris Ivory should I consider trading off TJ Yeldon? If so, who would you recommend? I have Todd Gurley and David Johnson currently on my roster.Dave in NC

As I posted previously on Twitter, complete with the Kevin Bacon voice from A Few Good Men, “the facts of the case are these:”

  • The Jaguars performed a massive off-season salary dump, and had to spend money to even hit the salary floor
  • Prior to acquiring Chris Ivory, the Jaguars’ backup running backs were Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhart and Jonas Gray
  • Ivory has only cleared 200 carries in one season
  • Jacksonville was t-30th in terms of rushing attempts last year, with a mere 354. Factoring out Blake Bortles and a few designed receiver runs, and that number drops to a miniscule 296.  Perhaps the team just wants to run the ball more, and not jack up 600+ passing attempts?

So while I’m a realist and won’t pretend to say this doesn’t hurt TJ Yeldon’s value, I’d be surprised if the Jaguars don’t get closer to 400 rushing attempts, and Yeldon remains active in the passing game.  If Charles Sims was able to carve out PPR RB2 viability, Yeldon should be able to do the same.  As you’re only likely to get a late first round pick (if that) in return right now, I’d just as soon stand pat.

  1. I have an opportunity to obtain Cam Newton for Sammy Watkins straight up in my 16-team non-PPR league. I have to look at this objectively and need help, as I currently have Brock Osweiler, Jameis Winston, Watkins, Michael Floyd, Randall Cobb, Breshad Perriman, Josh Gordon, and Kendall Wright at quarterback and receiver, respectively.DJ in Walnut Creek

In the words of Lana Kane, “Nooooope!”

I get that quarterbacks are more important in a 16-team setting, but the fact is you already have a likely QB1 in Jameis Winston, and a solid backup in Brock Osweiler.  Yes, Cam Newton had a career year and lapped the quarterback field last season, but much like with Odell Beckham’s stellar rookie season, I’d argue it’s more than likely he falls back closer to the pack, and other signal callers step up.  To that latter point, Winston seems primed to fit into that mold nicely.

While you have some talent at receiver, you don’t have a single surefire stud without baggage.  Josh Gordon remains a risk, Randall Cobb is coming off a disastrous 2015 campaign, and Michael Floyd, while extremely good in my opinion, hasn’t yet proven he can be relied upon.  For those reasons, I think you need to hang onto Sammy Watkins, who was arguably the league’s most efficient receiver last season and clearly a player whose star is on the rise.  I think he’s easily your WR1, and even in a non-PPR setting his points will be extremely tough to make up.  Again, Newton is phenomenal, but I just don’t see that trade helping your bottom line, which is scoring more points than the other guys.

Follow me on Twitter @EDH_27

eric hardter