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Dan's Sack: Fantasy Football Mailbag and Fantasy Questions Open Thread

Dan Ciarrocchi, also of Pro Football Focus Fantasy, answers fantasy football questions from the Hogs Haven community.


Fantasy football-philes, I'm just gonna get right to it. Here are the answers to some of the fantasy questions that were asked last week.

A reminder: I'll be doing this piece every week from preseason until Week 16, but I'm going to start a few of these mailbags periodically in the meantime. It never hurts to touch base early on and see where things appear to be headed for fantasy-draft season. Let's find out:

Mal0378 writes:

I'm thinking about going kind of RB heavy in the draft this year and only draft one TE.

I know I want to go QB with my first pick and RB second, but what rounds after that should I get my other two RBs and still maintain balance in my draft and get quality players?

Nabbing a quarterback first is not the best way to go. If you look at what quarterbacks did over the course of the 2012 season, only 41 points separated the top quarterback, Drew Brees, from the seventh quarterback, Matt Ryan. On a points per-game basis, just a four-point average separated the top quarterback (Brees again) from the 12th-highest average (Ben Roethlisberger). This year, quarterback looks like it will be even deeper than that with the down-the-stretch emergence of Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and to a degree, Cam Newton.

That tells me you can sit back and wait on a quarterback and hold your own at the position with the guy who picks Rodgers or Brees at the front end of the draft. Instead of being the guy who does that, stock up on running backs early, because the difference between the first and second tiers from the rest are far greater at that position than quarterbacks. In most cases it's hard to go wrong starting with RB/RB out of the gate, and depending on what's left on the board, it's not crazy to suggest going that route even a third time.

Second question is what round should I consider going defense, and in this league you can have 2, so should I draft one and just pick up another later or draft both ? This league also allows individual defensive players so which round should I start considering them?

Predicting team defenses, to an extent, are almost like picking kickers. Finding one that gives you a consistent output from week-to-week is difficult to project, and that reigns especially true if your league heavily values turnovers. Forty-right points separated the second-highest scoring defense from the 14th-highest scoring one a season ago, and unless you struck gold with the Chicago Bears defense, it didn't really matter who you penciled in your lineup week-to-week. If it's a crapshoot nonetheless, and if not much separates most of the defenses in the league, then there isn't much point in investing a mid-round pick on one.

As for individual defensive players, you could make the argument that J.J. Watt is a second or third-round pick judging by his point total a season ago as well as how much he had almost double amount of points of the defensive lineman who finished second in that category (Geno Atkins). It's not out of the question to believe Watt's numbers are sustainable given his abilities, but I'd default to caution and expect a slight regression in both total points and difference in points from other linemen.

I don't think I have the huevos to pull the trigger on Watt very early, but in your average league, you wouldn't have to. Drafting him in the seventh or eighth round would be a steal. As a general rule of thumb, start with stud defensive linemen in the middle rounds once your offensive positions start to take shape, and wait on linebackers and defensive backs.

Redskins 329 writes:

Chris Johnson as #1 back? With MJD as #2? Am I crazy?

Maybe, but at least you wouldn't be the only one.

I think they'll both come back big. They'd give me great value where I draft them.

And that's the key. There aren't many players in the NFL I'd ever truly avoid in fantasy football. It all depends on where they could be had in the draft.

I think it comes down to knowing your league. If you think you could grab Chris Johnson or Maurice Jones-Drew in the third, fourth or fifth rounds because of cold feet from other owners then go for it. Johnson in the tail-end of the second round wouldn't be so bad.

Hosch writes:

Hey. Redskins Question. Is Alfred Morris still going to get the carries on third down? Or is it going to be a guy like Chris Thompson, Roy Helu maybe Jawan Jamison?

Because if he's not, I don't know if I am willing to take him with the ninth pick. If he is, maybe. Would probably take a guy falling over him but if no good RB is available I'll take him.

Well, the Redskins certainly have the guys to be third-down backs with Roy Helu, Jr. and Chris Thompson, but that's if the Shanahans decide to use them. Helu looks to be all systems go right now, and we'll know more about Thompson as the summer progresses.

Even so, if Helu or Thompson take the field, I wouldn't worry about him diminishing Morris' value too much. He will still be the bell-cow of the backfield and get first crack at those ever-important goal-line situations. Royster was the third-down guy last season, chewing away nearly 250 snaps, but Morris was still a top-five back in standard leagues. Keep in mind that the Redskins ran the ball more than all but one team in 2012, and sitting out a few third downs isn't going to give Morris' value a big enough hit to make him anything less than the fantasy stud he is. Last season proved that.

If your heart is set on picking Morris ninth overall, I'd say that's a little high for me. You could be in a position to grab a guy like, LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch or even Ray Rice, whose stock seems to be plummeting because I have no idea why! But if you did select Morris, I'd have a tough time finding fault in the reasoning behind it. He's one of the safest picks on the board.

Travisjh86 writes:

Serious Question: Graham Gano or Shaun Suisham?

Nick Novak.

I like the part where the commentator questions his "range."

Tmarine17 writes:

I'm in a keeper league. We get to keep 2 players that either 1) we didn't draft in the 1st or 2nd round last year, or 2) we didn't keep from the previous year. Also, you lose the pick in that round you drafted them last year. So, from that the three guys I'm looking at are Colin Kaepernick (FA - so I would lose my last round pick, 18th), Alfred Morris (10th round), Dez Bryant (3rd round) or Eric Decker (4th round).

I'm leaning towards Kaepernick and Morris, but Bryant is close. A lot of it will depend on when my pick is in the first round this year, but without knowing that right now, what would you do?

Keep Morris regardless of where you pick in the first round. Like I touched on before, quarterback is a deep position and options will present themselves even though Kaeperinick is a stud and essentially nothing would be sacrificed in order to keep him. But because of the importance of having that feature back in your backfield, getting one for a 10th-rounder is still too much of a bargain to pass up.

With wide receiver, it's kind of a similar story as quarterback, but not to the same extreme. Dez Bryant held his own with Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall in 2012, and there's not much to suggest he couldn't do the same again this season. The tiebreaker here is the value, and grabbing Morris for a tenth is more attractive to me than Bryant for a third.

That's all for me right now, but if you have any more questions, I have time to answer them in the comments section or on Twitter @PFF_Dan. I'll keep checking back periodically and will answer as many as I can.