Fantasy Football Mailbag: Tuesday 9/27/16

How valuable is Christine Michael? And what's the deal with Julio Jones?

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Now, let's answer some questions.

This is the tweet that Twitter has been waiting for for half a decade. Well, not quite that long, but Christine Michael's athletic profile has gotten fantasy footballers excited since he entered the league. He was unable to crack the starting lineup or stay on the roster last year, and that includes the Seattle Seahawks, the Dallas Cowboys, and Washington.

Michael emerged this offseason amid injury concerns for Thomas Rawls, who is out for "a few weeks" with a fibula injury. He has taken the starting role and, well, ran with it. He has played at least 63% of his team's offensive snaps in all three games so far, something only 10 other running backs can say.

And he's been doing well, too. In terms of our Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, 44.44% of his carries have led to positive expected points gains, which ranks 14th among 39 backs with at least 20 carries. His teammates, though, have a Success Rate of just 27.59%. He's excelling while his teammates have struggled, so it's looking like he can outplay this offensive line. If and when the passing offense hits its stride, look out. With a mostly unmatched role in the offense and his promising metrics, yeah, C-Mike is pretty much a top-10 back moving forward.

So, we just mentioned that only 11 running backs have played at least 60% of snaps this year, and DeAngelo Williams is about to fall out of that group this week with Le'Veon Bell's return. One of the guys in that group is C.J. Anderson, making him one of the few "everydown" backs through two weeks.

The main difference right now between Anderson and Michael (if we overlook their draft costs) is the offense. The Denver Broncos rank 8th in Adjusted NEP per play, and the Seahawks rank 19th. It's early and Seattle will likely climb back up the ranks, but it's never bad to tie your assets to good offenses. However the other variable in this is that Demaryius Thomas is also part of that eighth-ranked offense. His 20 targets are concerning, but he ranks 16th in Reception NEP per target among 73 receivers with at least 15 targets.

With how Michael is playing, though, and with games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons up next for Thomas, accepting this two-for-one for Anderson tough to justify.

It's very possible, Adam. Julio Jones has 20 targets through three games on the 20th-most pass-heavy team in the NFL. Last season, Jones finished with 203 targets, a top-three mark since 2000. His current pace puts him at 106.

Jones is tied with Demaryius Thomas for 16th in Reception NEP per target among 73 receivers with at least 15 targets, so he's being efficient, but he's tied with Jacob Tamme in targets, and 8 Falcons have at least 5 targets.

Whereas Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are looking to get more involved in the offense and combined for 20 targets in Week 3, we can't be quite as optimistic for Jones.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has said that the team won't force it to Jones, either. Up next on the schedule before their Week 11 bye are the Carolina Panthers (8th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play), the Broncos (5th), the Seahawks (4th), the San Diego Chargers (9th), the Green Bay Packers (28th), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24th), and the Philadelphia Eagles (1st).

It's not looking great.

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