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Fantasy Football Mailbag - Zeke Backup Plans, the Redskins' Offense, & QB Strategy

Thanks to everyone who reached out with questions for our first ever fantasy football mailbag! As this will be a weekly feature throughout the entirety of the upcoming season, please continue to direct any/all questions by using #RotoBallerMailbag on Twitter or by emailing

As if the first set of preseason games doesn't signify the start of fantasy season as is, the news of the Ezekiel Elliott suspension and the Sammy Watkins/Jordan Matthews trades certainly kept the fantasy world on its toes this past week. While these moves undoubtedly will affect your upcoming draft strategy, it just further reaffirms the importance of using multiple resources to prepare you for draft day.

The RotoBaller player rankings are probably different than any other rankings that you use. One source is going to tell you to drop Zeke to the second round, and another is going to tell you to drop him to the third, but it's your job to determine where you are comfortable drafting him (or anyone), depending on the settings and makeup of your league.

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Fantasy Draft Advice

So a few quick draft prep and draft day rules that I have before getting to your questions. They may seem obvious, but they're key if you are going to succeed when you're on the clock:

  1. Be diligent and thorough
  2. Find the rankings that most closely aligns with you (or create your own!)
  3. Don't let your friends sway your opinion
  4. Look for value -- there's a right time to draft everybody
  5. Please oh please, don't be the first one to draft a kicker or a defense
  6. Go with your gut

Oh and fantasy football is supposed to be fun, so try to enjoy yourself a bit. All of your hard work and draft prep might just pay off when it's all said and done.



Reader Questions for Preseason Week 2

With Zeke out for 6 weeks (possibly more?), which Cowboy backup would you place your confidence in: Darren McFadden or Alfred Morris? Where would you consider drafting them in a 12-team PPR league?

I'll start by saying that I would be very surprised if Zeke was out for more than the anticipated six weeks, so I'd plan for a 4-6 game suspension. That said, McFadden is going to see the majority of backfield touches while Zeke is out. There are very few that doubt McFadden's ability, but he missed most of last season with an elbow injury and barely touched the ball once he was back. He's currently going right around #100 overall in drafts (so 8th/9th round in 12 team leagues), but that's too rich for me for an aging back who is a mere early season fill-in. I'd prefer targeting someone like CJ Prosise or Jamaal Williams a round or two later, who are more likely to inherit a bigger role as the season progresses.


How high are you on Terrelle Pryor? Yahoo has him ranked #26 overall. That's much higher than other sites. Do you think he's worth grabbing that early in the draft?

See my note in the introduction of this article and you'll see that basing value on a guy from one specific ranking, especially the one from your drafting site, is not wise. Ironically though, I don't think Pryor at #26 is too far off. His current ADP is early third round and I have him as WR15 in my rankings. There are a lot of targets to be replaced in Washington with the departures of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, and Pryor saw 140 last year in a truly awful Browns offense. Even if his targets slightly decrease from 2016, he's a legit candidate for 100 catches and he's almost a lock for 1,000+ yards and a few scores. It might seem like you're jumping the gun on an unproven wideout, but based on talent level and opportunity, think of it more as drafting the top WR in a high-powered offense.


With the departure of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, do you think Kirk Cousins can repeat his season from last year? Also, who do you see filling in the WR2 role, Josh Doctson or Jamison Crowder?

In case the answer above doesn't already lead on, I'm bullish on the Redskins offense. Obviously the loss of Garcon and Jackson won't go unnoticed (specifically over the top), but I expect Kirk Cousins to be front, center, and featured once again in 2017. The Redskins called passing plays on 62.44% of their total offensive plays last year, and I don't expect new offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh to take the foot off the gas. I have Cousins as my eighth-ranked QB right now, and I'd be fairly surprised if he didn't finish the season as a QB1.

In terms of the second wideout slot, it's going to be Crowder. While Pryor is probably going to be the team's best fantasy WR, Crowder is sure to see an uptick in targets and an increased role in the offense. Pryor's third-round ADP is unlikely to offer a ton of value just because of some of the names going ahead of him, but I like Crowder to outperform his current ADP of WR31. Doctson is a good dart throw and could end up being an asset later in the year, but he's not going to surpass Crowder on the depth chart just yet.


I'm one of the people that tend to sit until round 10+ to grab my starting QB. However, if one of the big guns slide, I'm open to changing plans. Assuming Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers go in the first four rounds, who would you be comfortable with taking in rounds 5-7 if they were to fall?

Honest answer? The only QBs I'm likely to consider in those rounds are Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, or Russell Wilson – and probably only if one of them slips to the late 6th/7th. I've also typically not been one to jump on an early QB, and I don't see much of a drop off between the three guys I have listed above (my tier 2 QBs) and Cam Newton or Kirk Cousins, for example.


I have just joined a 12 team, .5 ppr, 3WR/2RB/TE/flex league. Does the half point PPR and extra receiver/flex make going RB/RB a kiss of death if you fall towards the back of the draft order? Once all the elite WRs are gone, are you better off with Jordan Howard/Devonta Freeman than TY Hilton/Dez Bryant with these settings?

The extra WR slot means more to me than the .5 PPR in terms of prioritizing by position. That's not to say that going RB-RB at the end of the first round is a bad idea, but only if the right players are there. For example, I'd be unlikely to go RB-RB without Devonta Freeman being available (assuming DJ, Le'veon, and Shady are all gone). I just feel like there's too much risk with guys like Jordan Howard or Jay Ajayi to validate drafting both of them when TY Hilton and Michael Thomas are extremely unlikely to disappoint (though I'd monitor Andrew Luck's status when it comes to Hilton). If you go RB-RB and get them both right, you're at an immediate advantage, but fantasy is all about mitigating risk and it's much less risky to grab at least one WR with those first two picks there.


Is there a single Jets player worthy of a roster spot in a 12-team PPR league?

As a lifelong Jets fan, this question genuinely hurts my heart. The short answer is yes, Bilal Powell is likely to be a decent fantasy asset this year, and a guy like Robby Anderson could give you good late round value, but the long answer starts and ends with the fact that Christian Hackenburg is probably going to be the team's starting QB at some point during the year. So yes, feel free to grab Powell in the middle rounds of your draft (5th through 7th) and Matt Forte as a bench RB, but I'd probably stay away elsewhere unless you take a late-round flier on Anderson.


More 2017 Fantasy Football & ADP Analysis