Fantasy Football Mailbag: Wednesday 7/20/16
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 Jim.Sannes@FanDuel.com, and we can talk anything fantasy football related -- even daily fantasy football.
Now, let's answer some questions.
@numberFire #fantasyfootball my league starts 1Qb 1Rb 1Wr 1Te 3 flex Rb/WR would you be comfortable going zero WR in this format?
— Eric Mack (@erav31) July 20, 2016
There will be a bunch of different factors in play with a flexible format like this. Truthfully, the decision should come down to the scoring rules of the league you're in, but it's also best not to lock into one strategy before the draft begins.
Let's start off with the scoring as that should be the main determining factor in a situation like this. numberFire's Brandon Gdula wrote an in-depth breakdown of this dilemma in late June in which he utilized data from the past five seasons to decide analytically the optimal roster construction. It's a worthwhile read for those of you wrestling with decisions similar to what Eric has.
The basic thread of what Brandon said is this: if your league awards a point per reception (PPR), you should favor wide receivers. If it does not, then higher-end running backs will hold the edge, potentially incentivizing the zero-wide receiver approach you were considering. Here's the line of thinking on that.
Even with the shift toward a pass-heavier league, Brandon found that the top-20 running backs outscored the top-20 receivers in standard formats over the past five years. Because you are comparing the two positions head-to-head in a flex-heavy league, that type of information will be critical in deciding the optimal route. Once you got past the first crop of running backs, wide receivers eventually regained the crown, but there did seem to be some viability in targeting the high-end backs there.
It's a different story in PPR leagues. There, you should essentially view all flex spots as being wide receivers. The scoring so heavily favors that position that when you're comparing the two, the wide receiver will win more often than not.
All of that said, this will depend pretty heavily on what happens within the draft. If the rest of your leaguemates enter with the same strategy and gobble all of the running backs up early, then that could leave value at wide receiver. That could mean the wide receiver you'd draft at that slot would be projected to outscore any potential running backs, requiring a deviation from the prior strategy. It'll require you to be flexible and adapt, but that's just generally good practice for all drafts.
So for you, Eric, the running-back-heavy approach certainly has viability if you're in a standard league, especially if it's different from what the rest of your league does. Just be sure to evaluate within the draft and adjust that strategy if need be.
@numberFire In dynasty leagues, is Jordy a sell? If so, what is his value?
— Collin Straka (@CollinStraka) July 20, 2016
Depending on what type of situation your team is in, it might not be a bad idea to buy Jordy Nelson. Given all of the injuries the Green Bay Packers suffered last year, they should rebound in a big way this fall, and Nelson has a track record of wrecking opponents' dreams when he's healthy.
In 2014 -- his most recent full season -- Nelson finished fifth in the league in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per target -- the efficiency metric we use for wide receivers here at numberFire -- among the 58 receivers with at least 80 targets. He was sixth in that same metric in 2013, and if he had reached the 80-target plateau in an injury-shortened 2012, he would have been third. When he's on the field, he's one of the best wide receivers in the game, and the Packers felt the impact of his absence last year.
The other advantage that Nelson has is how early his injury occurred last season. He'll be over a full year removed from surgery by the time Week 1 rolls around, meaning lingering issues shouldn't be a concern, even at his advanced age. With Nelson already running routes during the team's mini camp, we should assume that the knee issue is in the past.
All of this combines to make Nelson seem primed for a big-time 2016 season. He's currently the fifth-ranked wide receiver in numberFire's projections, and we should expect him to come out the gate chugging. If his past metrics and current projections are any indication, his value isn't as high now as it likely will be a few weeks into the season. If you're intent on selling him, it seems as if the best strategy would be to wait until he rebuilds value during the year before pulling the trigger. If your team is contending, though, he's a guy who should be able to contribute in a big way.
Want to have your questions answered in our mailbag? Submit your questions by tweeting @numberFire or sending an email to Jim.Sannes@FanDuel.com.