Fantasy Football Mailbag: Wednesday 7/13/16
Fantasy football research never stops, and offseason news can really complicate things, especially when coaches talk up second- and third-string players. That's why we're starting up a fantasy football mailbag.
Have a question about a certain player, team, draft strategy, or anything football? Shoot us a question on Twitter or send an email to Brandon.Gdula@FanDuel.com, and we can talk anything fantasy football related -- even daily fantasy football.
Now, let's answer some questions.
Email Submission: Where would you take (10 team standard) Eric Decker if Ryan Fitzpatrick still isn't signed by draft day and where would you take Eric Decker if he is signed by draft day?
This is a great question, and frankly, I've wanted to explore this for myself for weeks now. Let's dig in and find out.
Last year, Eric Decker was fantastic, as he ranked ninth among receivers in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP), which shows that he was a boss on the field as well as in fantasy football. Among 32 receivers with at least 100 targets, Decker ranked an even better seventh in Reception NEP per target.
He wound up 16th in standard fantasy points per target last year among receivers with at least 75 targets but owned the volume to finish as the WR10. Obviously, he is an intriguing asset, as his current cost in 10-team standard leagues is 65th overall, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
Based on your league settings, our algorithms think that's too cheap. Our initial projections for Decker, with Geno Smith as the Jets' opening day starter and in a 10-team standard league, peg him to finish as the WR19 and as the 48th-most valuable player when factoring in positional scarcity. That would make him a late-fourth round or early-fifth round target.
If you're still not sold on Decker with Smith, just know that, according to the RotoViz Adjusted Yards per Attempt app, Decker's adjusted yards per attempt with Smith on 90 career targets is 9.6. With Peyton Manning over 256 targets, it's 10.0. With Ryan Fitzpatrick, it's 8.8 on 125 targets.
Decker has just been pretty quarterback agnostic in his career, and among 103 receivers with at least 500 targets since 2000 (Decker has 606), his Reception NEP per target of 0.78 is 10th-best. Again, he might last until the seventh round or so, but he's worth the risk in the fifth if you trust his talent, regardless of the quarterback situation.
Email Submission: So here's my league: 16-team, 0.5 PPR, 1 player keeper, QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, Flex (RB/WR/TE), D/ST, PK.
I'm keeping Devonta Freeman for a 5th round pick this year. I pick #7 overall. Who should I pick in the first round?
Odell, DeAndre Hopkins, and David Johnson are being kept by other teams. Best case scenario Antonio or Julio falls to me at 7 but I doubt that will happen.
If those 2 are gone, is it worth it to take AJ Green, Jordy, or Dez? And if Julio is there, a Freeman/Julio stack seems less than ideal. I'm projecting available RB's to be Elliott, Lamar Miller, Eddie Lacy.
Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated. Mahalo.
-Nate from Hawaii
Isn't fantasy football fun? To help answer this, I ran those settings through our customizable draft kit to figure out where the value will be based on the players you think will be gone by pick seven.
If we remove those certain keepers, we get -- from the top -- Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, Julio Jones, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Todd Gurley, Lamar Miller, Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, and Ezekiel Elliott as the remaining top 10. Miller would be an ideal target here, as his volume is all but assured, and in a 16-team league that isn't a full PPR format, having two potential workhorse running backs could give you an enormous edge. The other two backs you mentioned should be there, as well, and both make sense for the same reason.
As for those receivers, we have A.J. Green ranked 19th in this format, Jordy Nelson ranked 18th, and Dez Bryant 21st. I know early draft capital in running backs can be scary, but the format strongly suggests targeting Miller first then either Elliott or Lacy, provided that the other top backs don't make it to seventh overall.
@numberFire Can Shepard play outside, or will the Giants have him mostly in the slot? Who's outside if he's not?
— Keith Contorno (@KeithContorno) July 12, 2016
Sterling Shepard, last season at Oklahoma, played 68% of his snaps in the slot, but there are reasons to believe that Shepard can play outside, too. Shepard is getting rave reviews so far, and apparently he's catching everything his way. Giants beat writer Michael Eisen thinks that he's the clear-cut impact rookie for the team and will be targeted frequently even if Victor Cruz comes back and is a go-to option for Eli Manning.
Cruz's health is likely what will dictate where Shepard actually lines up on the majority of his snaps, but last season, the Giants ran a three-wide receiver set 69.65% of the time, per ProFootballFocus.com. Even if Cruz is back, he, Shepard, and Odell Beckham should be on the field plenty on the same plays, and they'll likely be moved around plenty.
If Cruz either can't return or doesn't beat out Dwayne Harris for the third receiver role, it looks as though Harris will be the slot guy while Shepard and Beckham man the outside more often than not. The guy to watch if the Giants keep Shepard primarily in the slot is Geremy Davis, a 6'2", 217-pound option. Davis, a sixth-round selection last year, has spent some time with the first-team this offseason, and he could give this receiving group a much needed dosage of size while Shepard and Beckham draw all the attention.
Want to have your questions answered in our mailbag? Submit your questions by tweeting @numberFire or sending an email to Brandon.Gdula@FanDuel.com.