Fantasy Football Mailbag: Breakout second-year wide receivers, Bijan Robinson vs. Austin Ekeler and more

2RHRYTH Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) warms up before the first half of an NFL preseason football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals, Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

• The 2022 receiver class performed well in Year 1, but it might not be done yet: Commanders WR Jahan Dotson and Falcons WR Drake London project for Year 2 breakouts.

• Knowing your league’s scoring is key: Find out which starting quarterbacks saw the most significant increase in fantasy production in 4-point touchdown leagues vs. 6-point touchdown leagues.

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

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That’s not all, though! This week, we’ll take it another step further and answer your most burning fantasy questions submitted through social media and the like to set you up for a dominant fantasy football draft.

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“Bijan [Robinson] over [Austin] Ekeler?” — Jawwkneeb

YES. Emphatically, yes. I actually wrote up Ekeler as the biggest Round 1 fade in fantasy drafts this season. Here are the biggest takeaways:

Though Ekeler has finished as a top-two running back in each of the past two seasons, he’s due for regression in two categories: target share and touchdown rate.

The Chargers hired former Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore this offseason, likely to emphasize QB Justin Herbert’s downfield passing game. This will likely decrease Ekeler's target share. In the past, the star running back has benefitted tremendously from a high volume of passes thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Meanwhile, Bijan Robinson now takes his rightful place atop the running back depth chart in one of the NFL’s best rushing offenses. He has a true three-down skill set that lends itself to production on the ground and in the receiving game.

“How would you adjust QB rankings for a 6-points-per-TD pass league?” — Benzi_gad

This is a great question. One of the most valuable pieces of advice for managers to consider ahead of their fantasy football drafts is to understand your league’s scoring settings

 As you have probably guessed, quarterback scoring is inflated in leagues that award six points per passing touchdown. Those who score a high percentage of fantasy points via passing touchdowns will see the most significant increase in production, while this scoring setting tends to bump rushing quarterbacks down the ranks.

 Using PFF’s preseason fantasy projections, starting quarterbacks who saw the largest increase in scoring advantage in 6-point passing TD leagues were:

Starting quarterbacks who saw minimal gains with this scoring adjustment were:

“Who are the top candidates for a Year 2 breakout at the WR position?” — dalbanese19

I will answer this question with the assumption that the top candidates (Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave) are off the board and in a way that emphasizes potential value in the draft, even if the following two players don’t necessarily crack the top-15 receivers come season's end.

Worth a glance — especially considering his ADP of WR36is Commanders receiver Jahan Dotson, who started (and finished) his rookie season red hot. Dotson produced 70 or more receiving yards in three of five games to close out the 2022 season, having led the Commanders in targets and (more importantly) red-zone targets during that five-game span.

Unfortunately for the Commanders, WR1 Terry McLaurin suffered a turf toe injury in Week 2 of the preseason that could hold him out of Week 1 and potentially limit him even once he does return to the field. The chops QB Sam Howell has shown in the passing game and his preference for targeting Dotson this preseason are both great signs of things to come for this receiver in Year 2.

 Also worthy of discussion as a Year 2 breakout is Falcons WR Drake London. He showed well last season, posting 866 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He was one of only five receivers from the 2022 draft class to average more than 2.00 yards per route run as a rookie.

His eight forced missed tackles ranked second among receivers in the draft class. Not only did London stand out in comparison to those in his class, but he also shined among the veterans, as his 85.3 PFF receiving grade ranked 12th among all receivers. Now, heading into Year 2, the offense has a bit more help, which should help generate scoring opportunities and force an uptick in yardage production — both things that should only help perpetuate his breakout in 2023.

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“Should I draft 2 WR in the first two rounds or 1 RB and 1 WR?”  — f.raouf85

One of my favorite pieces of draft advice is to not enter your draft with a firm strategy or commitment to drafting certain positions in certain rounds. Remaining flexible with a fluid strategy keeps you open to drafting the best player available rather than taking players to fill out a predetermined plan.

Regardless of how much ADP data you comb through, every single fantasy draft will be different, and no amount of planning can ever properly inform you of what players will actually be available once you’re on the clock. Don’t pass up drafting the best players just to check boxes — even if they aren’t a part of your long-term vision for this roster heading into the 2023 season. Remember, the best player available also means value in the trade market!

Your fantasy football roster will remain dynamic throughout the season, changing as you adjust to account for waiver wire adds/drops and trades. To take it a step further, if you do have the same roster in Week 10 as you do in Week 1, I’d argue it’s a failure to live up to your potential regardless of how well you drafted.

Don’t get stuck. Keep moving. Stay fluid, from the draft through the season, in your quest for a championship.

“Is Taysom Hill worth picking up for the chance he gives you QB stats at TE?” — bunderavenue1104

QB/TE/RB/whatever-position-he’s-playing-this-week-gadget-guy Taysom Hill has provided fantasy managers with a bit of a cheat code over the past several seasons, given his eligibility as a tight end on most (all?) fantasy football platforms.

Hill is (somewhat bizarrely) coming off a performance as the overall TE5 in half-PPR scoring formats, helping his cause with a 10-plus point performance in six of his 16 games last year. The biggest issue was just knowing when to start him.

However, if you’re punting the position entirely in drafts, it’s fair to say you could do worse than Hill, as consistency tends to be a problem for most fantasy tight ends beyond Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews, anyway. After all, he’s coming off a career-high 96 rush attempts, posting 575 rushing yards and seven scores to pair with some minimal work as a passer and receiver. Considering Alvin Kamara‘s three-game suspension to start the year, he could be in line to mix in as a rusher in specific packages.

Being drafted on average as the TE21, he’s a low-risk asset who is an easy drop if he doesn’t pan out. Other tight ends to consider if you’re punting the position include Hayden Hurst (Panthers), Jake Ferguson (Cowboys) and Trey McBride (Commanders). Don’t chase Hill, but he could be a fine last-round pick as a depth play with upside. 


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