Fantasy Football Mailbag

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Published: August 27, 2013

Fantasy Football AdviceGridiron Experts Members Q & A

One of the most underrated features of having a Gridiron Experts Membership, is the ability to pick our brains about fantasy dilemmas. Atop of our Custom Rankings Tool, Drag and Drop draft board and all the sleepers, we are happy to offer fantasy football advice to important questions for our loyal members.

The following are a few questions that have been sent to us over the last week.

Member Question:

I have an upcoming .5 PPR league and I’m drafting 5th of 12. I know I will have a choice of Spiller, McCoy, and Charles. Who would you take in that spot? Thanks in advance!
-Roi

Question Answered:

LeSean McCoy You literally listed my three favorite first round running backs not named Adrian Peterson. All carry a bit of risk, but the potential rewards are huge. Each is versatile out of the backfield and should see some work in the passing game. LeSean McCoy has a history of catching more balls than the other two, but keep in mind his receptions came under the play-calling of Charles’ new signal caller, Andy Reid.

If you want to take the biggest risk, I’d go with McCoy. He’s got the lowest floor and the highest ceiling. Whether or not Chip Kelly’s offense can translate to the NFL remains to be seen. My argument for its likely success would be that its the year of its inception and defensive coordinators will only have a week to prepare for it. We saw how much they struggled adjusting to the spread-option last season. I also like the fact Philadelphia’s skill positions are full of young, speedy guys. If there’s one group built for this offense, it might be the Eagles. My argument against it would be that the system wasn’t fool proof at Oregon. Powerhouse SEC defenses had no problem shutting it down. Every NFL defense, even the worst one, would be the best defense in college football right now. So all in all, it really comes down to you. How big of a risk do you want to take? Kelly’s offense could flop in the NFL. McCoy could suffer as a result. He’ll still put up serviceable numbers, but at #5, you want the guy that’s going to dominate. If Kelly’s offense hits full force, McCoy could see 20 TDs again. Is it worth the risk?

The safest play would be CJ Spiller. Bills new head coach, Doug Marrone, is ready to put these running backs to work. There’s talk he may run the ball 40 times a game. For a guy like Spiller, who is used to getting no more than 15 touches a game, that could be an issue. There’s a chance he could wear down when you need him most. I look at it optimistically though. You’re getting a guy who averaged 6.8 yards per touch last year, 25-30 touches a game this year. What’s 25 touches at 6.8 yards a clip? Over 2,700 total yards. 2,700 yards! Realistically, Spiller won’t be able to keep that average with that many touches. But let’s say he gets 25 touches at 5.5 yards per touch. Much more reasonable. You’re still getting 2,200 total yards. The skies are the limit for Spiller, even with Fred Jackson co-contributing. I like how Manuel will bring a spread-option look to the Bills. I like how Marrone says he’s not afraid to use Spiller at the goal line. All signs point to big things for CJ Spiller in 2013.

If McCoy is the biggest risk and Spiller is the safest bet, I guess that makes Charles a mix of both. If healthy, he’s sure to have a huge year. A lot of people tend to forget Jamaal Charles came back from an ACL tear last season. Peterson’s amazing comeback overshadowed it, but Charles’ comeback was almost just as impressive. His touches were limited, but he still rushed for over 1,500 yards (1,700 total) and scored 6 times. Not bad for a running back on one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Matt Cassel was a turnover machine. The Chiefs couldn’t move the ball. Their offense was abysmal. With Andy Reid at the helm and Alex Smith at quarterback, expect the Chiefs offense to be much improved. Smith is great at managing the game and moving the chains. Frank Gore thrived alongside him. Moving the chains means more red zone opportunities for Charles, which means that six TD total in 2012 could double in 2013. It’s also important to note the Chiefs drafted one of the top offensive lineman in a stacked draft class with the first overall pick in the 2013 Draft. Consider the fact the Chiefs had a top ten offensive line in 2012, and the addition of Eric Fisher only makes drafting Jamaal Charles sound sweeter. Additional red zone looks, more opportunity in the passing game, a better quarterback, and an improved offensive line. It’s hard not to believe Charles is a strong candidate to be a top two back this year.

Ultimately the choice is up to you. I’d lean towards Spiller or Charles. I don’t think you can go wrong either way. If healthy, they’re both top five backs. There’s durability concern for both, especially Charles who’s currently injured (monitor that). I would personally give a slight nod to Charles, because I think he’ll get more catches (.5 PPR bonus) and he’s got a proven quarterback in Smith managing his offense. If Manuel struggles and can’t keep the offense on the field, Spiller will see a reduction in points.

Gridiron Experts Member Question:

I’m in a league with the following roster spots: 1QB/2RB/3WR/1Flex(RB/WR/TE)/K/DEF.
Passing TDs are worth 6 points. Everything else is Yahoo! standard scoring. How would these settings affect your rankings and what would your draft strategy be?
-Mark M.

Question Answered:

As far as draft strategy goes, whether QB points are worth 4 or 6, the depth there is still going to be the same. I think you’d be wise to wait on your quarterback until the mid draft rounds. The ability to start three running backs with that extra flex spot makes nabbing two running backs early a near must. In fact, you really have to draft a running back in the first round. Calvin Johnson is enticing, but he’s just not worth it. In my opinion there are 10 elite running backs (Peterson, Martin, Spiller, Charles, Lynch, Foster, McCoy, Richardson, Rice, Morris). You need to have at least one of them. Each running back in the next tier carries risk. You don’t want to be the guy that doesn’t start one of the top 10 guys. Especially in a league you can start three RBs. In Round 2, if you can get Jackson, Ridley, Chris Johnson or Forte, I think you have to pull the trigger. This likely means you’ll need to be drafting towards the end of the first round and early second round to have a chance to do so.

Gridiron Experts MembershipIf all of these guys are gone, I’m perfectly okay with grabbing an elite wide receiver: Bryant, Marshall, Green, Thomas, Jones. Just make sure you get another running back in the third round. If that flex position wasn’t there, I would say you have more freedom with your third round pick, but I think it’s important to nab two strong RBs in the first three rounds given these settings. After that look for the best available wide receivers and running backs going forward and strike for a quarterback when you see fit. Ryan, Stafford, Romo, Wilson and even Brady are available pretty late in drafts. You can load up on running backs and wide receivers early and still nab an elite quarterback as late as the sixth or seventh round.

It’s really important to realize running back is really thin this year. Like I said, I believe there are 10 elite guys and you need to make sure you have one of them. As far as your subsequent picks go, you’ll have to adapt based on the way your draft plays out. No two drafts are the same. But I would definitely build your team from the skill positions out. You can load up on talent at RB and WR and still grab a solid QB later on. If you’re worried about tight end, Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas, Rob Housler and Zach Sudfeld are all guys you can get your hands on in the later rounds.

As far as rankings go, be sure to input your league scoring settings in our custom rankings tool and you’ll see first hand how it effects our rankings.

Member Question:

Hey guys, I’m in a 10-man non-PPR standard league. Draft is quickly approaching. Usually I wouldn’t draft two TEs but I’m considering it this year: Zach Sudfield & Jordan Cameron. I’m very intrigued with both guys and can’t decide if I want to draft one or both. Any thoughts? A timely response would be much appreciated. Thanks…Love the site & glad to be a member now!

Question Answered:

Well Paul, by the looks of the two names you listed, I think it’s fair to assume you’re waiting pretty late to draft your TE1. As such, I don’t think there’s any harm in taking both guys. If you draft a guy like Jimmy Graham or Jason Witten, it doesn’t make sense to add a backup. These are two guys, when healthy, you’re going to start 15 weeks out of 16. When you decide to wait until round 9, 10, 11 and so forth, you’re left choosing between a bunch of guys with upside that could also be busts. Drafting two of your sleepers isn’t a bad idea. You keep them out of the hands of your competitors and you double the odds of finding a breakout guy. As for your targets, I’m a big fan of both. Jordan Cameron has been stellar in the preseason thus far, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners that wanted to keep his sleeper status out of the public eye. You may have to target him a little earlier than previously anticipated. Brandon Weeden looks surprisingly strong. It’s never a good idea to read too much into the preseason, but the preseason has shined light on some solid sleepers for me in the past. The Browns are quietly putting together a strong offense. Richardson is already one of the top backs in the NFL. Josh Gordon might be the most underrated receiver in the NFL. Now, Jordan Cameron too, is a Browns offensive weapon to watch out for. Odds are he won’t be a top 5 tight end, but I don’t think he’ll be far behind that group.

Zach Sudfeld is another sleeper coming on strong. ESPN analyst Sal Paolantonio already nicknamed him “Baby Gronk” – pretty high regard for an undrafted rookie. We saw him catch a touchdown and a two-point conversion in traffic, working with the first and second team against the Bucs. Gronk’s return time is still uncertain. If he lands on the PUP list, using Sudfeld for six weeks could prove to be pretty advantageous. Even when Gronk returns, the void Hernandez left still needs to be filled. Sudfeld could see a lot of action and put up some big numbers. If it’s short-lived glory, at least you grabbed Cameron as well.

All things considered, it looks like you’re on the right track waiting for Cameron and Sudfeld. Once the first few TEs are off the board, it’s best to wait to grab one. Load up on RBs and WRs and grab Cameron and Sudfeld when the time feels right. If you do miss one of them, Julius Thomas of the Broncos is another solid choice. Rob Housler from Arizona could have a big year as well.

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