Fantasy Football Mailbag: Friday 8/19/16

Bruce Ellington and Rishard Matthews have both been generating buzz as late-round wide receivers the past few days. Which one has more fantasy football viability?

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.

There are plenty of reasons to buy into both Bruce Ellington and Rishard Matthews, especially now that Dorial Green-Beckham is out of Tennessee. Even with that qualification, Ellington's situation is one that is a bit more positive.

In Chip Kelly's three years with the Philadelphia Eagles, no team ran more plays than his. The pace of the offense allows us to snag much more volume from the fantasy assets involved, and that's something we absolutely need to consider. Pace will not be in Matthews' favor.

From Week 9 on (the time when Mike Mularkey was head coach), the Titans ran one play every 27.9 seconds. Over that same span, Kelly's Eagles ran one every 22.2 seconds. This is before we even factor in the Titans' desire to run an "exotic smashmouth" offense this year, a phrase that doesn't lend itself to much optimism about an air-it-out, fast-paced squad. Even if Matthews ends up starting (and his efficiency last year says he should), he won't have the same potential that Ellington would have in San Francisco.

This pace wouldn't matter much for Ellington if he weren't on the field, but that doesn't seem like an issue. Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee wrote Friday that Ellington had been one of quarterback Blaine Gabbert's favorite targets over the summer, putting him in line to start alongside Torrey Smith. If he can nail down that job, Ellington would have immediate fantasy relevancy, even in a sub-par offense.

Nine times out of 10, if you have a chance to keep one of the top-tier receivers in Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, or Julio Jones, you'll want to do whatever you can to keep them on the roster. The possibility of keeping Brandon Marshall in the seventh round changes the equation a little bit.

Marshall's positional fantasy finishes the last three seasons in which he has played 16 games are second, sixth, and third, respectively, and he has more receiving touchdowns than any other player over the past four years. You'll take Jones over him heads up by a mile, but Marshall's still a solid asset.

Basically, the question you're asking yourself here is would you trade Marshall and the top non-kept player available for Jones and a seventh-round pick? The answer to that question depends on the pool of players available. If you think you can get Lamar Miller back or snag a guy like A.J. Green or Dez Bryant with your first-round pick, then I would lean toward keeping Marshall. If the drop-off is bigger than that, though, then it may be best just to keep Jones and go from there.

In a vacuum, you could argue that Rob Gronkowski's value in dynasty leagues would be hovering somewhere near there. But when you look at some of the players with lower ADPs (based on RotoViz's dynasty ADP app), it seems like there are some superior choices available.

Take Sammy Watkins for example. Over the final nine games of his age-22 season in 2015, Watkins racked up 49 receptions for 900 yards and 7 touchdowns. Watkins is four years younger than Gronkowski, plays a more premium position, and had a historically-great stretch run last year. That would seem to heavily favor Watkins.

If Watkins doesn't float your boat, then there's also Keenan Allen, who is three years younger than Gronkowski. Allen was on pace for 134 receptions for 1,450 yards and 8 touchdowns last year prior to injury, and he racked up 1,046 yards and 8 touchdowns in his age-21 season. Pairing him with Watkins at the turn would give you two young, high-upside receivers at a lower-variance position. That's why it'd likely be best to forgo Gronkowski at that slot if he's available.

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