Fantasy Football Mailbag: Wednesday 8/10/16

With Keenan Allen coming off a big injury, is he worthy of a high draft pick in 2016 for season-long fantasy football?

Fantasy football research never stops, and offseason news can really complicate things, especially when coaches talk up second- and third-string players. That's why we're starting up a fantasy football mailbag.

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Now, let's answer some questions.

Email submission from Daniel Lindsey

14 team Superflex league, .5 PPR scoring. Roster: QB, RB, RB/WR, 2 WR, TE, OP. Possible keepers (pick 2): Keenan Allen, Kelvin Benjamin, Dion Lewis, Mark Ingram. I feel Ingram is a lock but unsure of my other keeper. All keepers are selected in this league before the draft begins.

It's absolutely smart to lock Mark Ingram in with how good the New Orleans Saints' offense could and should continue to be. As for the rest of the group, Keenan Allen would seem to hold a pretty sizable advantage.

Once we plug Daniel's draft settings into numberFire's season-long draft kit, we'll see that Ingram is ranked as the 25th overall asset. Allen checks in 39th with Dion Lewis 63rd and Kelvin Benjamin 64th. Even if it's a superflex league, you can mold the rankings to fit your league, and this tool can help answer a lot of complex keeper questions.

When you look at what Allen did last year prior to his season-ending injury, it's easy to understand the optimism. Through the first eight games (including the one in which Allen left with his injury), Allen had controlled 25.5% of the team's total targets. When your quarterback is as efficient as Philip Rivers has been throughout his career, those targets are going to carry heavy value. Even with Travis Benjamin now in the fold, Allen's floor is sizable considering the volume he figures to receive.

In fairness to Kelvin Benjamin, he had a 26.6% market share in his rookie season with the Carolina Panthers, and that's a superbly impressive number. However, that year, the team's No. 2 wide receiver was Jerricho Cotchery with 78 targets. Devin Funchess may not be a fully proven asset just yet, but he's likely better than the aged Cotchery, offering a bigger threat to Benjamin's role in the offense.

Additionally, the Panthers likely won't need to pass nearly as much as they did in Benjamin's rookie season. Thanks to an improved defense and more favorable game flow, the team threw the ball 44 fewer times in 2015 than it did in 2014. Entering the season as numberFire's fifth-ranked team, they would seem closer to the 2015 squad than 2014, keeping the potential volume reduced on Benjamin relative to his rookie season. All of this combines to make him a much bigger risk than you'll find in Allen.

Once again, we can turn to numberFire's rule-specific draft kit rankings to dissect this. In case you can't tell, I'm a pretty big fan of this thing.

For this situation, we'll adjust the settings to a 12-team league with two running backs, two wide receivers, and one flex in addition to the two-quarterback PPR settings. When we do so, it becomes abundantly obvious that Jeremiah's intuition is right on Antonio Brown.

Rank Player Position Fantasy Points FireFactor
1 Antonio Brown Wide Receiver 377.73 238.81
2 Julio Jones Wide Receiver 346.72 207.80
3 Aaron Rodgers Quarterback 352.35 200.80
4 Devonta Freeman Running Back 275.56 191.78
5 Adrian Peterson Running Back 274.76 190.98

The point of emphasis is the column on the far right, FireFactor. This takes into account both the player's overall projection and their value over replacement. Brown blasts the field out of the water here with his gap over Julio Jones being greater than Jones' advantage over 10th-place Odell Beckham. That's ign'ant, breh.

Basically, Jeremiah, you just won the lottery. Brown has an absurd advantage over the rest of the field, making the first pick in your draft easily the best value of the first round. Follow your gut, pick that bad, bad, man, and bask in his Gucciness the whole season.

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