Fantasy Football Mailbag: Wednesday 12/7/16

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.

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Now, let's answer some questions.

Email submission from Mark Friedmann:

I need some advice please. In a 1/2 PPR league only lock starters are Mike Evans and Tyler Eifert. Leaves WR, Flex, 2 RBs. So 4 positions out of these guys: Matt Forte, LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick, DeAndre Hopkins, Terrelle Pryor, Brandon Marshall, Taylor Gabriel. Also, I am attempting to get off waivers Malcolm Mitchell (priority#1) or Dontrelle Inman (priority#2) so please throw one of these into the mix. I'm leaning Forte, Blount, Pryor, and Marshall (although the Petty factor makes me real nervous).

There are a lot of weather concerns going on this week, and that will have an impact here. Potential snow and elevated winds in Cleveland hurt Terrelle Pryor, and Taylor Gabriel's 39.2% snap rate in Week 13 makes him hard to trust in a game where the Atlanta Falcons could be running with regularity. The best options to start here are likely Matt Forte, LeGarrette Blount, Malcolm Mitchell, and DeAndre Hopkins. Let's expand a bit on what allows Forte and Mitchell to make the cut, starting with Forte.

Bryce Petty starting for the New York Jets isn't just a concern for Brandon Marshall; it's a concern for Forte, too. If Petty struggles, the offense won't be able to run, a script that sets up better for Bilal Powell than it does Forte. But even with the news that Petty would start, the Jets are only 2.5-point underdogs. The San Francisco 49ers are numberFire's 29th-ranked rush defense, and the Jets rank fifth in schedule-adjusted rush offense. Forte's scary, but he should still carry a decent floor here.

With Mitchell, Hopkins, and Marshall, you have three players with at least some type of concern. For Mitchell, it's a matchup against cornerback Jimmy Smith and the Baltimore Ravens. Hopkins and Marshall both have tremendous matchups, but their quarterback situations that are a lit match short of a dumpster fire. This is what allows us to give Mitchell the nod, as long as the wind speeds back off from their current projection of 15 miles per hour.

Email submission from Jonathan Martin:

I have followed NumberFire almost religiously from draft till now. I'm in 2nd place with a 1st round bye. It's a 1 point PPR league. My team: Rivers & Kap, D Johnson, L miller, Ajayi, Kelley, Evans, Cobb, Dez, M thomas, L green, CJ Fed, Landry. No kicker. Also have Dixon. Do i drop one of these for a top handcuff such as Morris, Henry, Gillislee, etc? Thanx.

As numberFire's JJ Zachariason wrote in this week's "15 Transactions," it's hand-cuffing season, y'all. This means we want to shoot for high upside, and that's not something Kenneth Dixon has at the moment.

Dixon's snap rate had been surging the past few weeks, topping out at 45.6% in Week 12. Then the Baltimore Ravens pulled the rug out on us, going back to Terrance West in Week 13 with Dixon's snap rate plunging back to 33.3%. He'll have viability in negative game scripts where he can catch some passes (like this week against the New England Patriots), but he's not going to be the top back outside of injury. Even if he does claim the top spot, the offense isn't good enough to make this guy a true league-winner, and that's not the case for either Alfred Morris or Derrick Henry.

The guy we'd likely prefer here is Morris due to the situation he'd inherit if something were to happen to Ezekiel Elliott. Then, Morris would be attached to the league's top quarterback in Dak Prescott, based on Passing Net Expected Points per drop back, the mark we use to track the per-play efficiency of a quarterback. This -- combined with the Dallas Cowboys' soul-crushing offensive line -- would make Morris one of the top fantasy backs in the league, and we should have him on our rosters just in case that transpires.

Email submission from Keenan Bates:

Hey Jim! So I have my WR1 AND 2 locked in (OBJ and Dez), but I have several choices for my WR3. I have Tyrell Williams, Michael Thomas, Crabtree (and have a high enough waiver claim to snag Malcom Mitchell). Which one would you roll the dice on? Thanks!

These are all solid choices, so you truly can't go wrong with whichever you wind up choosing. But based on his involvement recently in the San Diego Chargers' offense, it'll be hard to sit Tyrell Williams.

There were obvious -- and justified -- concerns about Williams heading into last week with a serious shoulder injury. He had only four targets in the game, so it's possible to think that we should back off until he shows that shoulder is healthy. That low target total isn't quite as big of a red flag as it may appear, though.

Williams wound up playing 96.4% of the snaps in that game, his highest snap rate of the entire season. With Travis Benjamin seemingly fully healed after his injury, the team could have had Williams out there for fewer snaps if his shoulder were truly still an issue. This allows us to bask in his 24.4% target market share since Week 2 -- when you exclude games against the Denver Broncos -- and dive back in.

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