Fantasy Football Mailbag: Thursday 8/11/16

There's plenty of uncertainty in the Ravens' offense, especially in the backfield. Is there a particular rusher we should be targeting?

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.

In most uncertain groupings (as with the Baltimore Ravens' running backs), it's best to aim for the low-hanging fruit and get cheap exposure to a positive situation. In this instance, though, all signs point to the most expensive player holding a sustained, big role, and that guy is Justin Forsett.

Back in July, it seemed to become more clear that Forsett was still the main option in the Ravens' backfield. Although he has been flying under the radar this month, coach John Harbaugh said Forsett was having an excellent camp, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. This shouldn't be a surprise considering what Forsett has done the past two years.

Using numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP), we saw earlier this offseason that Forsett greatly outperformed his teammates last year in what was perceived to be a disappointing campaign.

Rusher Rushing NEP per Carry Success Rate
Justin Forsett -0.02 44.4%
Other Running Backs -0.16 39.8%

That includes Terrance West and Javorius Allen, two of Forsett's main competitors for carries this year. Kenneth Dixon is a threat, but for now, Forsett's a bargain as the 34th running back off the board on Fantasy Football Calculator.

Yes and no. There's not a whole lot of value in Laquon Treadwell and Stefon Diggs with both going off the board at decent spots given the offense's shortcomings. However, there are other areas where you could potentially snag a bit of value based on training camp reports and late-season market shares.

We'll start with the sexiest end of this spectrum, and that's Jerick McKinnon. He's not a wide receiver, but he did have see 19.1% of the team's targets over their final three regular season games and the playoffs. That's a delicious number for a running back. He has standalone value, and if he eats into Adrian Peterson's snap counts at all this year, dude could win leagues.

Prior to last year, Charles Johnson had a sixth-round ADP in 12-team, PPR leagues, according to Fantasy Football Calculator. He promptly sustained a rib injury, lost his starting role, and descended into fantasy hell over the span of two weeks. Now, he's listed as a starter on the team's initial depth chart, ahead of Treadwell, no less. He's the best value at receiver on the team considering you'd likely be snagging him off waivers.

Finally, Kyle Rudolph is probably flying a bit too far under the radar. He led the team in red-zone targets last year, as you'd expect from a tight end. With the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line back to health and gaining a few free-agent assets up front, we should expect more red-zone opportunities this year. Additionally, they're moving to an indoor stadium, a venue in which scoring is generally higher on a per-game basis. All of that is positive for a tight end, and Rudolph doesn't currently have an ADP. He's not draft worthy, but if he gets a decent number of targets early on, he could be a decent streamer.

Clearly, if you use our rule of thumb for keepers and pick the one with the greater discrepancy between his ADP and his keeper round, Cam Newton would take the cake here. It'd just be hard for me to give up Antonio Brown.

As mentioned in yesterday's mailbag, Brown's value over the rest of the league is legitimately hard to fathom. He's essentially in a tier of his own when Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, meaning if we get the chance to keep him, we should probably do so, regardless of price.

Newton is obviously tremendous both in the real world and in fantasy, so in a vacuum, he would be a great choice. But his FireFactor (numberFire's metric that accounts for both a player's projection and his value over replacement) is well below that of Aaron Rodgers in 12-team, PPR leagues, and it cowers in the corner relative to that of Brown.

You can find quarterbacks late who can provide a significant chunk of Newton's projected production, and that's simply not the case with Brown. That's why I'd lean toward keeping the game's greatest, even if the value may skew Newton's direction.

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