Fantasy football is becoming more and more popular as the NFL continues to dominate as America's favorite sport. For the first time, I'm taking some fantasy football questions Indianapolis Colts fans have asked me over the past week and giving some quick advice and answers.
1. "So. . . Montee Ball?"
Ball is a very curious player. People expected him to produce last year and possibly overtake an aging Knowshon Moreno, but Moreno held off Ball and had a career year. Ball should be a solid fantasy contributor though as most of Peyton Manning's RBs tend to produce. There doesn't seem to be any clear challenger competing against Ball to be the starter either, so that definitely plays in Ball's favor. However, I've noticed his ADP in most leagues is late first, early second and that seems high to me. He's still a bit of an unknown and unproven player at the NFL level. If you can snatch him a bit later, it's great value, but I find it hard to justify a top 15-20 pick being spent on him.
2. This was trade related question asking if trading Brandon Marshall and Ray Rice for Eddie Lacy is a good trade, noting he had other good options at WR?
Hmm. That's tough. Eddie Lacy is a top 5 RB in my opinion, but Marshall is easily a top 5 WR. I'd say you probably got the better of the deal though. It is much harder to acquire a top 5 RB so if you can get one, then you've got one position dead set on your roster, which is a nice feeling. Ray Rice may return to form, but that's a big question mark. With Rice's impending suspension, you'll also lose at least two games of production. Thankfully, you've got quality WRs to help soften the blow of losing Marshall that should give you close to similar production.
3. How do I think the Patriots recent trade will affect Gronk?
Short answer: it won't. Tim Wright is much of the Aaron Hernandez type of TE, minus the whole bad person thing, who is more likely to be split out wide. Gronk is usually in line, which allows him to be matched up against LBs and Ss rather than a CB. Physical CBs tend to cause these big receiving TEs more trouble as they have much better coverage skills than most middle of the field defenders. But yeah, I don't expect Gronk's usage to suffer as a result of the trade.
4. Since you do draft stuff, which rookie not picked in the first round could contribute immediately in fantasy?
Excellent question! When I look at which rookie may contribute right away I try to see which rookie has the best chance to contribute so I see who is lined up to start for their team. Over the past couple years, I've correctly called out Alfred Morris and Keenan Allen as being huge producers and took them in the last round of that year's fantasy draft. This year, a guy I like who wasn't a top selection and is either going very late or undrafted is CAR WR Kelvin Benjamin. I don't like him because I think he's going to be a particularly great WR, but because he's Cam Newton's top option and seems to be the only guy Cam throws the ball to. He should put up numbers based solely on the volume of targets, ala Steve Smith. He'll also be the Panthers top red zone target, as I think Greg Olsen could fade off, so he could get a ton of TDs that smaller WRs don't normally get. Plus, he's going very late in most drafts so if he doesn't work out, it's no big deal to part ways with him and pick up a handcuff.
5. Do you have a strategy when you draft?
Yes and no. I don't go into a draft saying "I'm going RB-RB in rounds one and two no matter what" or anything like that. Just like my view in the actual NFL Draft, I just take what the board gives me. I always have my own personal rankings and I stick to those. If a guy I like is rated as a RD6 guy but I have him as my highest rated in RD4, then I take him. I may get mocked but then at least I live and die with my own rankings, rather than someone else's. Also, say you do adhere to the RB-RB strategy and decide to take Marshawn Lynch or Demarco Murray over a guy like Calvin Johnson, that's just lunacy. I recommend taking the best value at the spot you're drafting in, regardless of position. The only time I'd steer away from that is if you've spent your first five picks on a certain position and the rest of your team is severely suffering.
As general draft advice, don't panic. There will be runs, but don't feel like you have to draft a lesser quality guy just because a bunch of guys at that position are going. Usually, a player of value will fall in your lap. Trust your gut and trust your rankings. That's it for this week. Good luck to everyone!