Fantasy Football Mailbag: Tuesday 9/6/16

Gio Bernard's Cincinnati Bengals face a tough test in Week 1 against the New York Jets. Can that actually boost Bernard's value?

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 Jose Eduardo Martinez:

Given how tumultuous the RB position can be, I went a little heavier on the RB's. I have been hearing a lot of buzz about Spencer Ware and the potential there, especially given Charles's slow start, would it be in my best interest to drop LaGarrette Blount or Arian Foster in favor of Ware. Now, Foster has earned the starting spot in Miami, but giving his injury history, that depreciates his value. Blount does not do too much in the passing game, but given how Brady will be suspended the first four games, he provides a lot of upside, for at least those first four games. Eventually, I will have to drop one of those two to make room for a kicker, too. Who would you rather have on your team? Or would you rather drop one of my sleeper picks (Cook/Austin) for another RB?

Jose nails it here with the initial statement about how tumultuous the running-back position is. For that reason -- even though I absolutely adore him -- it would be best to drop Jared Cook in this situation.

Unless you have two studly tight ends, allowing you to plug one into your flex spot, you're only going to be starting one per week. Jose mentioned that he also has Antonio Gates, who is on a quality offense and should see plenty of high-leverage targets. Gates is the type of player you can plug in every week, lowering the value of a high-upside pick like Cook. If you're going to start only one, that second player is taking up a bench spot, and that's a crucial position to occupy at this point in the season.

Because of Jose's early draft, he was able to get LeGarrette Blount and Arian Foster before their respective values absolutely blew up. Those are guys who should not be on the waiver wire in any league, especially once Tom Brady returns to give Blount touchdown potential. If you have that many quality assets but don't want to dump Cook, then the best avenue would likely be to seek out a trade partner for one of the running backs. Short of that, we likely need to sacrifice our backups at standalone positions like tight end and quarterback, squeezing Cook out of the fold for the time being.

Email submission from Rocky:

Drafted Charles the day before the news came out about his potentially light workload early on. Should I still start him week 1? .5 ppr, 10 team league. Have Langford, Gio, Abdullah, and Yeldon on my bench as potential replacements. Thanks!

Rocky submitted this one before news broke that Jamaal Charles will likely be forced to miss the team's opening game. With that bit of clarity, we can instead dissect which of these running backs is in the best spot for Week 1, and the answer there would likely be Giovani Bernard.

The New York Jets' defensive front is straight scary, even though they will be without Sheldon Richardson in Week 1 due to a suspension. They finished last season first against the rush, according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted Net Expected Points metric, and they only allowed three running backs to finish in the top 12 in weekly scoring against them. Why, then, would we be drawn to Bernard?

The Jets' line could force the Cincinnati Bengals to come with a pass-heavy approach. That means Jeremy Hill would take on a reduced role, and Bernard would be on the field with regularity. This is how things played out last year, at least, as five of Bernard's six highest snap percentages came against top-10 rush defenses. Just being on the field has value, and Bernard should have that against the Jets this week.

Going forward, there will be upside in guys like Jeremy Langford, Ameer Abdullah, and T.J. Yeldon. With all of them entering Week 1 on teams that are decent underdogs, though, Bernard holds a slight edge.

Email submission from Nate Saunders:

Hi Jim. I didn't manage to snag one of the top defenses in the draft, so I'm looking for waiver wire value for a 12 team yahoo league. What team defense should have the best value this year between the Jets, Bucs or Jaguars? They've all made improvements between the draft and free agency, but I'm looking for immediate impact and I'd rather not carry two defenses as it's a keeper league and I'd like to save the roster spot for prospects. Thanks much.

Nate's correct in wanting to only carry one defense, and that's something that should apply even to just re-draft leagues. As numberFire's JJ Zachariason noted this morning in his 15 transactions, the Philadelphia Eagles are a solid option for Week 1, and they'd likely rank above each of the other options. But with those three on the docket, the best option may end up being the Jets.

When we're looking at defenses for fantasy, most of our focus should be on Vegas, specifically finding a team that is favored in a game with a low over/under. For Week 1, none of the three teams is favored, making each of these options a high-risk asset. However, the Bengals' implied team total of 22 is easily the lowest of the three opposing offenses, and the Jets have the most favorable spread. It's not ideal, but given the Vegas lines and the talent the Jets have on defense, it can at least serve as a patch.

If these are the top options on the wire, it looks like you're going to be streaming the entire season. With that in mind, in addition to Philadelphia, the Baltimore Ravens should be on your radar. Not only are they at home and favored, but their opponent implied team total is also lower than that of the Jets. If either the Eagles or Ravens are available, I'd pick them and then play the matchups from then on. If not, then the Jets are your safest option.

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