Fantasy Football Mailbag: Friday 8/26/16

Matt Jones' fantasy stock took a serious hit with his preseason shoulder injury last week. Should we be jumping ship on him in keeper leagues?

Fantasy football research never stops, and offseason news can really complicate things, especially when coaches talk up second- and third-string players. That's where our fantasy football mailbag comes into play.

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Now, let's answer some questions.

Email submission from Nan Greeley:

Hi Jim... thanks for your time. 14 team PPR. Can keep D Martin in the 6th or Matt Jones in the 14th. Thoughts. I like the safety of Martin. But want to believe in Jones.

This is definitely one of the tougher keeper questions we've had in these mailbags so far, and either way you decide to go, you're getting value. Nan's instinct in wanting to believe in Matt Jones is solid, though, and he may be the best route even with his injury.

A few weeks ago, we looked back at Jones and just how wretched he was in his rookie year. However, the conclusion was that -- because of his situation in a potentially talented offense with Washington -- Jones was still worth his average draft position, which was as the 22nd-ranked running back off the board. Now, with the injury, he's the 28th-ranked running back in PPR leagues, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, and that should only increase our enthusiasm in drafting him.

With the keeper situation, we should be monitoring the injury in case it forces the team to bring in competition for Jones. However, Jones has said that his shoulder is progressing well, according to Master Tesfatsion of The Washington Post, and he hopes to be ready for Week 1. This isn't a long-term thing, and getting Jones for a 14th-round pick slightly outweighs the also-tempting value you get from Doug Martin in the 6th.

Email submission from Shaun Clark:

I got 2nd pick in my fantasy draft out of 10 ppl. I'm tossed up on J. Jones and O. Beckham. Any thoughts on them two. Make my pick a little easier.

Back on Wednesday, we gushed about the possibility that Odell Beckham could be even better for fantasy football in 2016 than he has been in the past. We should be enamored with that possibility, and it puts him firmly right up there with Julio Jones. However, then we're banking on a possibility rather than what we've already seen. And what we saw last year is that Jones is going to get as many targets as he can handle.

Last season, there were only three wide receivers who controlled at least 30% of their team's targets. Antonio Brown was at 33.05%, DeAndre Hopkins at 31.32%, and Jones at 32.90%. Jones' 203 raw targets were easily the most in football, and it's hard to pass those up when they're available to you, especially when the Atlanta Falcons have done nothing this offseason to make you think that number will shrink.

It's hard to blame anybody for taking Beckham, and when faced with that dilemma, I have often been doing so myself just because his ceiling is monstrous. However, the safety in terms of volume lies with Jones, so the smart move would seem to be looking his way with that pick.

Email submission from Bryan Belesky:

Question regarding a 12 team dynasty keeper with standard scoring. We can keep 2-5 players losing picks off the top end of the draft, I have first pick. Keeping Mike Evans and Adrian Peterson, I plan on grabbing Zeke Elliott first in round 3 and there are 3 picks between then and my 4th round selection. Available options are Maclin, Decker, Amari Cooper, Baldwin, and L Murray. Clearly I'll have two very solid RB options -- do I go with a RB3 in Murray? Or would you go with the best WR still available of those three?

Because this is a standard league, you certainly do view running backs in a different light. Still, though, the drop-off at wide receiver after the players you listed is not favorable to loading up early on running backs.

Let's turn to numberFire's draft kit to illustrate how big this cliff is. If we put the settings to 12 teams and standard scoring, we'll see that the top 27 wide receivers all have a FireFactor of 64 or higher, with FireFactor being the number we use to show both projections and value above replacement.

After those top 27, the 28th-ranked wide receiver -- Jordan Matthews -- has a FireFactor of 55.34. That's 8.68 points lower than the guy in front of him, the same gap we see between the 17th-ranked wide receiver and the 27th-ranked at the position. That's a frightening cliff, and the tumble is pretty big from Matthews on down, as well.

Despite the scoring rules, we still face the same limitations with wide-receiver scarcity. This is why -- even in standard leagues -- we should be a bit hesitant to forgo wide receivers completely in the first few rounds.

Email submission from Rocky:

I have the 2nd pick in a 10 team draft. This league has half ppr but 1pt/10 yds for rbs and 1 pt per 20 yds for wrs. All tds 6 pts. In this type of scoring, assuming AB goes one, go with one of the other Big 3 receivers at 2 or would a pass catching rb like David Johnson make more sense?

Leagues like this rock. Any time you can change up the scoring rules to add some spice to the way people attack a draft, you should give it a shot. It doesn't necessarily make your decisions any easier, but once again, the draft kit is a life-saver here.

We can toggle the settings within it to be similar to a league of this ilk in order to see what FireFactor says about the value of running backs relative to wide receivers. When we plug in the reduced emphasis on receiving yardage, the leaderboard gets a pretty hefty overhaul.

Instead of having Antonio Brown perched atop it, we see Adrian Peterson there. He's followed by Jamaal Charles, Brown, and then David Johnson. By limiting the value of receiving yards for receivers, we do get a scenario in which the big three receivers no longer have a monopoly on the top of the draft board.

How you decide to choose between the running backs is up to you. Johnson was great last year, and he'd be worthy of that pick. The key here, though, is that your instinct is correct in thinking that running backs would see a major boost in value, and passing up on Beckham or Jones is absolutely a defensible move.

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