Fantasy Mailbag  

 

Forte, McCoy among most valuable PPR league backs

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In a PPR league, is it reasonable to consider Matt Forte as the first RB off the board? -- @KingJoshua32 (via Twitter)

Marcas Grant: I like Matt Forte a lot this season. He's the perfect fit for Marc Trestman's offense -- something he showed last year when he finished third among fantasy running backs. I also have him ranked as the No. 3 running back on my draft board, ahead of Adrian Peterson, in both standard and PPR leagues. But after saying all of that ... as long as LeSean McCoy is still breathing and planning to put on an NFL uniform in 2014, he's my undisputed No. 1 PPR running back.

I'm in a 10-team PPR league with a point-per-completion. In such a league, wouldn't it behoove me to take an elite WR in Rounds 1 and 2, if not with a top three pick? -- @andrewallen1034 (via Twitter)

M.G.: So many things to address here. First, excellent use of "behoove". That's a word that deserves more attention. Second ... point per completion? Your weekly scores must be through the roof. Which leads me to the answer to your question. That format does a lot to elevate quarterbacks. Matt Stafford has averaged more than 400 completions per year over the past three seasons. Peyton Manning would have posted 450 fantasy points on completions alone last year! That's before you get to his yards and touchdowns. Plus, I'd rather still spend a top three pick on a quality running back like McCoy, Forte, Jamaal Charles or Adrian Peterson, who can produce points both running and catching the ball. Pierre Garcon and Calvin Johnson are nice, but they're one-dimensional. I'd be more likely to go RB-QB with my first couple of selections.

Is Jimmy Graham as a keeper worth a first-round pick? -- @garydinkins2004 (via Twitter)

M.G.: Whether you call him a tight end or a wide receiver, Graham has first round fantasy talent. In fact, he and Megatron rank as the only pass-catchers worth that designation. However, even then I'd only be willing to spend the very last pick of that round (in 10-team leagues) on either of those players. In reality, you might still be able to land Graham early in the second round. Unless you have spiteful league mates who also read the weekly Fantasy Mailbag. Then you might be out of luck. My bad.

Keeper decision: Michael Crabtree or Julian Edelman? -- @ma1253 (via Twitter)

M.G.: It's a tough call, but I'm giving the nod to Crabtree. Both the Patriots and 49ers have plenty of targets on offense, but things are trending up for San Francisco's top pitch-and-catch combo. Jim Harbaugh's club is expected to open up the passing game and Crabtree should be the primary recipient of the extra targets. Edelman was a nice security blanket for Tom Brady last year, but that had a lot to do with injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola as well as Brady breaking in a new crop of receivers. One season later, look for New England to spread the ball around a little more.

Does Tom Brady have enough weapons to bounce back to top end fantasy status? -- @ryanstu23 (via Twitter)

M.G.: Didn't you read what I just wrote? I kid. But seriously, Brady looked more like the fantasy superstar we all remembered as the 2013 season went along. That had a lot to do with his young receivers getting more comfortable in the offense, the return of Rob Gronkowski and the emergence of Shane Vereen as a weapon out of the backfield. All of those things should be in effect from the start of the season this year -- good news for fantasy enthusiasts. Brady should be back to his usual status as a top 10 fantasy QB.

What will Brandin Cooks' role be? -- @mikecalhoun3 (via Twitter)

M.G.: Cooks couldn't have dreamed of landing in a better spot. A small, but speedy receiver playing in a wide-open passing offense led by a quarterback who knows how to get his wideouts the football is a match made in fantasy heaven. Add to it that the Saints will be looking to replace the production of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, who left via free agency. The track record of rookie receivers in fantasy isn't a great one -- and Cooks isn't likely to challenge the top of the scoring ranks -- but as a late round flier, the Oregon State product is an intriguing option as a WR4.

Better season: Kendall Wright or Mike Wallace? -- @AlexLanigan (via Twitter)

M.G.: Wright is understandably getting a lot of hype as a potential breakout player this year. But the stars are aligning for Wallace to remind people what he can be. First of all, Ryan Tannehill is a better quarterback than the oft-injured Jake Locker. More importantly, Wallace and Tannehill found a rapport as the season went along. Add to it that new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor plans to move Wallace all over the field in 2014 and I'd expect the quarterback and receiver to take their connection to the next level.

Who are your top three defenses this year? -- @johnsaldijr (via Twitter)


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M.G.: My top three defenses in 2014 look a lot like my top three defenses in 2013 -- the Seahawks, Panthers and Cardinals. I know the loss of Daryl Washington (suspension) and Karlos Dansby (Browns) has people worried, but the Redbirds still have the talent up front to get heat on the quarterback and the ballhawks in the secondary to make life miserable for opposing receivers. If you're looking past those three, I believe you can draft any of the defenses from the NFC West and feel pretty confident on a week-to-week basis.

Where do you see Eric Ebron going? -- @theycallmedommy (via Twitter)

M.G.: It's no secret that there's very little depth at tight end, but rookie tight ends almost NEVER make an immediate fantasy impact. It's also worth keeping in mind that the Lions are a bit overstocked at tight end with Brandon Pettigrew catching 41 passes in 2013 and Joseph Fauria adding seven receiving scores. Ebron should compete with both of those players for targets in 2014, but he'll still fall well down the pecking order of players Matt Stafford looks for in the heat of the moment. That means Ebron won't be worth much more than an end-of-draft flier.

Of the latter round RBs, how would you rank them -- Rashad Jennings, Toby Gerhart, Stevan Ridley and Trent Richardson? -- @JamesStroup1 (via Twitter)

M.G.: I like Gerhart the most of that group. The Jaguars have said that they want to use the former Stanford star similar to how the Seahawks deploy Marshawn Lynch. Gerhart might not have that type of production, but it's hard to ignore that type of opportunity. He's followed by Jennings, who was described as a "bell cow-type back" by Giants general manager Jerry Reese. I like Richardson to rebound after an abysmal 2013, but I don't have quite enough faith to put him ahead of Ridley, who could surprise fantasy owners ... if he can hold on to the football.

Bonus question: Would you draft a player in the first round even if he's a proven biter? -- @SpoeJarshatt (via Twitter)

M.G.: Why not? It just shows that he's hungry to win.


Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who enjoys sinking his teeth into a good steak. Tweet him about food and fantasy football at @MarcasG.

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