NFL Fantasy Mailbag: Week 1

Each Wednesday, we peek into our mailbag and answer your most burning questions about all things NFL fantasy. Here’s this week’s edition.​

How easy is it to add an IDP option to my NFL fantasy league?

– Al, Ridgefield Park NJ

Well, it can be easy or it can be really complicated. An IDP league can involve adding one-to-three defenders to a standard league or they can require fielding a full 11-player defense each week. This late in the season, you’d probably want to go simple. One of my leagues eliminated the DST and added three defensive players, which must include a lineman, linebacker, and defensive back. We opted for a big play scoring option, which means we value sacks and turnovers more than tackles. A tackle-heavy option gives fewer points for “big plays”. That makes a difference in what kind of player you want on your team. A sack specialist won’t help you much if tackles are as valuable as sacks. 

There are some excellent IDP advice and management websites available to obtain a scoring system and cheat sheets. It is much more complicated to pick an IDP than any other position, so be sure your owners have the time and patience for such an endeavor. 

Do yards and points scored in overtime count in a fantasy score?

– Mark, North Carrollton, Ga

Yes, they do. There is really no easy way to cull out the statistics from overtime when checking for fantasy score accuracy. Imagine if you lost a game by one point and then found a box score that said your running back scored another touchdown? 

There is little advantage to either of the players in the head-to-head contest, except for the risk of a first-possession touchdown. If your league comes down to a tie-breaker, overtime points could make a small difference, but it is still not worth trying to differentiate overtime points from the four quarters. 

In a standard league NFL fantasy game last season, my running back fumbled the ball. It was recovered by the other team, but then the defensive player lost the ball again. The offense recovered and was given a first down. My league charged me two points for the fumble, even though we didn’t lose the ball. Is that right?

– ????, Houston, Tx

I’m afraid that is the correct ruling. Your man lost the ball and it was possessed by the opposing team. Therefore, it is a turnover in the box score. The fact that the defense turned it right back over only added a fumble to their box score, too. 

If there was a question as to the change of possession, it was answered by the officials when they gave the offense a first down. Had they ruled the defense never possessed the ball, the downs would not have reset. In other words, if it occurred on a second-down play, the officials would have ruled that the next play was a third-and-long. 

How it looks in the box score is how NFL fantasy scores it. 

Which rookie do you think will have the biggest fantasy impact this season? 

– Steven, Langhorne, Pa

Generally speaking, I don’t trust rookies. No rookie has ever played at the speed of the NFL. They have never been hit as hard as they are about to get hit and they have never played as many games or practiced as much. More than half will fade significantly before the end of the year. 

This season, though, we seem to have a bunch of potential rookie stars, especially at running back. I like Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook mainly because we know their coaches plan on playing them a lot. Leonard Fournette will be good if he stays healthy in Jacksonville.  Joe Mixon has to share the ball too much. 

Cook will contribute a lot in a relatively sane offense. But McCaffrey is my tip to take Rookie of the Year honors because of higher exposure in Carolina’s Cam Newton-led attack. Along the way, he easily becomes the highest-scoring rookie. 

If Buffalo is tanking their season, why is LeSean McCoy still drafting so high?

– Kelly, Sydney, Australia

Wow. There might be as many people in Australia watching the Bills as there are anywhere outside of the greater Buffalo area. 

McCoy is generally regarded as the entire Buffalo offense. Apparently, many owners feel Tyrod Taylor’s job this year is to hand the ball off to “Shady” 50 times. The unexpected release of Jonathan Williams seemed to reinforce that thought. There are folks who think McCoy will rank among the top echelon of NFL fantasy ratings with Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson by the end of the year. 

On the other hand, I see your concern. There is a new sheriff in Buffalo. We really don’t know what kind of offense he will run. Sean McDermott alluded to more work for the tight ends and brought in other possession-type receivers. He used Mike Tolbert in short yardage and goal line runs ahead of McCoy in the preseason. It is possible McCoy is a first-and-second-down back in a slower, more traditional attack. He could still be a top-ten RB in that position, but it won’t be automatic. 

Want answers? Each Wednesday we will run a fantasy football mailbag. Submit your questions to [email protected]

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Pat Opperman


Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.