Fantasy Football Mailbag: Thursday 9/15/16

How should we be addressing Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael in season-long fantasy football? And is it time to sell Sammy Watkins?

Fantasy football research never stops, and roles change drastically from one week to the next. That's where our fantasy football mailbag comes into play.

Have a question about a certain player, team, strategy, or anything football? Shoot us a question on Twitter or send an email to, and we can talk anything fantasy football related -- even daily fantasy football.

Don't forget to check out our NFL remaining yearly projections, weekly projections, and our brand new DFS tools, which are available to all premium subscribers.

Now, let's answer some questions.

Email submission from Nikhil Tejwani:

Thinking about trading Rawls and Christine Michael for Olsen and Duke Johnson, who do you think is getting the better end of the trade?

In owning both Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael, you've got a big ol' mess on your hands. Even though it appears Rawls is the team's starter going forward, Michael has played well enough to earn a role. That may push Rawls' value down and make this a tough backfield to diagnose.

Using numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP), we can see that Michael was the slightly-preferable asset in Week 1. Michael's Success Rate (the percentage of plays in which the player increases the team's NEP) was 40.0% (6 of 15), slightly below the league average of 41.1% among 10-carry backs. Rawls, however, was only successful on 33.3% (4 of 12) of his carries, ranking him 24th out of 33 backs with at least 10 rushes. He may not be as effective yet as he was last season, and that could keep Michael in the mix.

If this winds up being largely a running-back-by-committee situation, you'll have two high-variance assets with capped yearly ceilings. That would give the edge to Greg Olsen and Duke Johnson, especially when you consider Olsen's nine targets in Week 1 and the bump Johnson receives from having Josh McCown at quarterback.

Email submission from Luiz Heber Amaral:

So, what can I do whit Watkins?! He will "destroy" my season (I didn't take another man available for Flex like TY Hilton, K. Benjamin, R. Matthews or Eric Decker for him. DEZ BRYANT is a real option for trade, because I can give Watkins and Jennings for Dez and someone like Rivers (for trade again, I don't know...)

Given the concerns around Sammy Watkins' foot, it makes sense that you'd be looking to find a way out. I have a few reasons for hesitation in using a guy like Watkins in a trade right now.

When evaluating whether you should trade a player, you have to ask yourself the question: "Can this guy's stock get any lower?" For Watkins, given all of the negative news around him this week, it doesn't seem as if it could. He isn't dealing with a new injury, so there doesn't seem to be a risk that he will miss significant time. That's why it seems likely that his stock can't get any lower, making any attempts to trade him difficult.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't potentially trade him down the road. Let's say -- hypothetically -- that Watkins is able to play tonight. If he does well enough, that'll have a pretty dramatic impact on his trade stock. That's when I'd be looking to deal him because the Buffalo Bills had the slowest offensive pace in the entire league in Week 1, and left tackle Cordy Glenn will miss at least this week's game. There are reasons to hate this Bills offense right now, but that may not quite make it the right time to bail on Watkins.

Email submission from Matthew:

14 team PPR. I was offered 2 trades by the same person. First trade I would be receiving Dez, Crabtree, Stewart. I would be sending Jordy and Riddick. Second trade is Dez, Crabtree, Stewart for Jordy and Yeldon. Accept or decline? Or ask for Snead instead of Crabtree? Thanks.

There are reasons to like both Theo Riddick and T.J. Yeldon, especially in points per reception (PPR) leagues. Going forward, though, Yeldon likely has the higher upside of the two.

We saw in Week 1 that the Jacksonville Jaguars will force-feed the ball to Yeldon when Chris Ivory can't play. Yeldon had 25 touches, and he played 87.5% of the plays. He was hugely inefficient in those snaps, but the Green Bay Packers' defense isn't bad. Yeldon should essentially have the same role as Riddick when Ivory is healthy, but his upside goes well beyond that of Riddick. So, despite a strong Week 1, Riddick would likely fall a bit short here.

As for comparing Willie Snead and Michael Crabtree, everything was positive for Snead in the opener. He played 75.4% of the snaps and warranted nine targets, and those targets are coming from one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Crabtree saw the same number of targets as Snead, but Derek Carr is several pegs below Brees as a passer. That would likely give Snead the edge here, though both could be interesting targets via trade.

Email submission from Rocky:

Need to pick 2 for flex. Full ppr but 1 point/10 yards for rbs and 1 point/25 yards for wrs. Options are Gore, Duke, John Brown, VJax, Hogan. Which two? Thanks.

Those scoring rules do give a heavy preference for running backs, especially pass-catching backs who can still get full points there. That likely gives Duke Johnson a slight edge over the pack.

As mentioned above, Johnson benefits from having Josh McCown as the starting quarterback. Since the start of last year, McCown has attempted at least 10 passes in seven games. In those seven, Johnson garnered 14.5% of the targets and averaged 5.4 receptions for 50.6 yards per game. That's before we factor in his rushing usage, which is another aspect of his game. He has more competition for targets now with Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman, but he should still have a role in this offense, especially games in which the Browns are heavy underdogs, as they are Sunday.

With wide receivers, you're basically banking on a touchdown or a good number of targets. John Brown's usage on Sunday makes him a big question mark and essentially leaves him in a spot in which you can't roll him out just yet. If you're not comfortable using Frank Gore (which you probably shouldn't be given the matchup), then both Vincent Jackson and Chris Hogan have their merits.

Jackson should handle the receptions aspect of the equation with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entering Sunday as 6.5-point underdogs to the Arizona Cardinals. Jackson was ineffective in Week 1, but he did play 87.9% of the snaps and see 7 targets, tied for the most on the team. He's going to get looks, giving him at least some value.

With Hogan, you're banking more on upside than floor. He played 77.5% of the snaps in Week 1 -- easily second most on the team at wide receiver -- and received 4 targets. Now, the New England Patriots are at home against a wretched Miami Dolphins' pass defense. Hogan's on the team with more touchdown potential, and if you're willing to roll the dice a bit, he may be the superior play to Jackson.

Want to have your questions answered in our mailbag? Submit your questions by tweeting @numberFire or sending an email to