Fantasy Football w/Christopher Harris
Send your questions now and join Harris in The Show on Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Christopher Harris (2:59 PM)
Hi, everyone. I had a dentist's appointment, so I had to s wap to the 3 p.m. Monday chat. Thanks for coming along with me. I'll do my best to get to as many questions as I can. Let's get started....
Chris, I keep seeing Chone Figgins listed as a 3B and OF, but in my league he has 2B eligibility. Where would he ranks amongst 2B in your opinion this season?
Christopher Harris (3:04 PM)
Hi, Gray. Indeed, Figgins will only have third base and outfield eligibility in most leagues this year, but he did play nine games at second in '07, so it's possible in leagues like yours he'll have that extra bonus of second-base eligibility. We just had our fantasy baseball rankings summit in Bristol last Friday, and there was a heck of a lot more positive sentiment about Figgins than I expected; I like the guy, but he was the group's fifth-favorite third baseman (which I think is too high...I have him seventh). Anyway, where would I put him among second basemen? Probably fourth or fifth. I'd have Utley, Phillips and Roberts ahead of him, then either him or Robinson Cano.
I finsihed the regular season in second place. I get to the playoffs, had a bye the first round. And lost to the #3 team in the second by 4 points. The championship week i scored the most points in our league. If I would have just beat the #3 seed I would have won it all. Bummer huh!!
Christopher Harris (3:07 PM)
Hi, Devin. Indeed, the road to fantasy glory is paved with the corpses of woulda coulda shouldas. As I've said several times in these chats, fantasy football is (for good and bad) the "fast food" of fantasy sports...high week-to-week variance, high fluke factor, high "the secretary who doesn't know anything about football just won the super bowl!" factor, but also low barriers to entry, and easy to play. Doesn't make it any less frustrating, though. In the 10-team ESPN Pro League, I got swarmed under and finished with a losing record. In the ESPN 12-team "Mock Draft" league, I wrote emails to everyone before the season started saying I probably didn't want to bother playing the season out, but I was overruled, and naturally went on to win the championship. Nuts.
Hey Chris...I am in a 10 team keeper league and this is my starters..Hasselbeck,Edge,J.Lewis,TO,Colston and Heath miller...please give me your thoughts on my team and whether or not you think I have a chance to win a championship next season...thanks
Christopher Harris (3:10 PM)
Hi, John. It's hard not to like your receivers: Owens will continue his high level of play, and Colston is easily a top 10 guy going into next season. In a 10-team league, I'm not thrilled about your rushers. Lewis was fantastic this year, and he's definitely a top 20 guy headed into '08 if he stays with the Browns...here's hoping he does. Edge, though, may have slipped outside the top 20 for good. The Cardinals used Marcel Shipp and even J.J. Arrington an awful lot when they got into short-yardage and goal line situations later in the year, which doesn't bode well for James. I'd be thinking about dealing for another back. Hasselbeck? Meh. He's very average in a 10-team league. I don't see this unit as a championship one, especially at running back. But you've got some building blocks. The receivers are, as the cliche goes, "special."
Which of these young backs do you think will have the best production next and for the rest of their careers...Selvin,Kolby Smith,Kenny Watson and Tony Hunt....thanks...
Christopher Harris (3:13 PM)
Hi, David. Next year, I think you have to probably put Selvin Young and Kenny Watson ahead of the other two, simply because it seems like they'll have very good opportunities to start. The Bengals could very well get rid of Rudi Johnson (in fact, I put that chance at better than 50 percent), which would give Watson the lead job in an offense well-suited for him. (But Irons is in Cincy, so we'd have to keep an eye on that.) I don't expect Travis Henry back in Denver, either, so Young *could* be the starter there, but betting on Mike Shanahan is really frustrating. Kolby Smith will probably be second-string to Larry Johnson, and Tony Hunt will at least be behind Brian Westbrook, if not Buckhalter, too. For their careers, I don't think any of these guys will be multiple-year starters or Pro Bowl selections...none is particularly big (except Hunt), nor do they have scintillating pedigrees. I'd say Young is my favorite, but it remains to be seen if he could hold up to a full season of first-string pounding.
Steve (MA via E. Hartford)
Thoughts on Geovany Soto? I have McCann as a potential keeper at C, but I'm considering dropping him in favor or Bedard or Sabathia if Soto will be a worthy replacement. Thanks!
Christopher Harris (3:15 PM)
Hi, Steve. I like Soto a lot; I was one of his primary advocates at last Friday's ranking summits. It sounds to me like he's going to have to really mess up in the spring not to get the starting catching gig for the Cubs this year, and while expecting rookie catchers to be absolute fantasy studs right away is folly, I rated Soto 10th among big-league catchers, ahead of guys like Napoli, Pierzynski and Varitek. 10th doesn't make him a star, but it makes him ownable, at least with what we know in early January.
Chris, what kind of impact do you see Nick Swisher having in Chicago? A return to his 2006 form?
Christopher Harris (3:18 PM)
Hi, Karl. You know, I'm just not a Swisher guy. I know Tristan Cockroft thinks Swisher is going to have a ton of value in a much better ballpark for homers, and I respect Tristan's opinion on this stuff as much as anyone's. But the value he gives you in power gets taken away by the negatives he offers you in batting average...he's a real drain, and I think he'll continue to be one. In addition, if the Sox really think they're getting 150 games out of Swisher in center, I think they're making a mistake, and that can weigh on a guy at the plate. Either way, Swisher has the kind of peripheral stats that indicate he's a "trade-off" kind of player: he doesn't make enough power contact when he's hitting line drives, so as his batting average goes up, his power goes down, and vice versa. He has value. He's just not in my top 30 fantasy outfielders for this year.
Chris, I need some keeper help. I'm keeping Wright, Utley, Vlad, & Teix for sure. I need two more out of Tejada, Sheff, Byrnes, Hart, Haren, & Papelbon. Thanks.
Christopher Harris (3:21 PM)
Hi, Shawn. I haven't completely finished my top 200 overall rankings, so this is a little off the cuff (I'll have mine done by Thursday). But of those remaining players, I think I'd go with Haren and Papelbon. First, you've already got some very nice hitting keepers. Next, I think Haren is about the most solid and predictable starter out there. He won't win the pitching Triple Crown, but you know exactly what you're getting, and it's really good. I have him ninth among all starters. And Papelbon? I have him as my top closer this year (as does the entire ESPN fantasy staff). Byrnes had a fantastic year, but I'm worried he might not repeat it.
Hi, Chris...Who are this year's Ryan Braun, Pence, Lincecum, Gallardo, i.e. players who start in the minors but make huge impacts when promoted to the majors?
Christopher Harris (3:28 PM)
Hi, Nick. Well, first off, let's just say that we haven't seen someone make the kind of rookie splash Ryan Braun did in a really, really long time. But I take your meaning: who'll be the top-performing fantasy rookies this year? Evan Longoria will probably play third for Tampa. Jay Bruce will probably make Cincy's outfield. I can't imagine the Marlins traded all that away to get Cameron Maybin not to have him start the year in center. Clay Buchholz has a really good chance to stick with the Red Sox, though that rotation is pretty deep. Digging a little deeper, a guy like Steven Pearce, an outfield prospect with the Pirates, will push Xavier Nady for a position this spring (and he was the overall minor league player of the year in '07), too.
Hey Chris, My Baseball league is changing from 12 team league to a 14 team league. How much different should my strategy be in 14 team league rather than a 12 team league?
Christopher Harris (3:31 PM)
Hi, Chris. Probably not that different. It goes without saying that you're going to have less depth available in your free-agent pool, which means some of the "safer" picks that might not get drafted in a smaller league will get snapped up this time around. I wouldn't rate any positions more or less important relative to other positions because of the two additional teams, but you'll probably have to be more willing to eschew risky picks to make sure you get solid starters a little more frequently, just because big mistakes are harder to overcome the larger the league size. That said, you have to love deeper leagues, because eventually, by the late rounds, everyone has to take fliers on higher-risk guys.
Hey Chris...what do you see as a ceiling for Leinart for production in tds per year and what do you think his ceiling for fantasy qb rank is...1-5, 5-10 or 10-20. thanks
Christopher Harris (3:33 PM)
Hi, Jim. Well, the Cardinals swear up and down that Leinart is still their starter, but after the year Kurt Warner had, you kind of do have to ask: why? Regardless, Leinart will be the man, unless he absolutely plays horribly in training camp. He's a top 20 guy, probably in the 15-20 range, for 2008. He showed flashes in his few games early this year, but not enough to be a consistent fantasy starter yet, despite the impressive weapons available to him.
Chris - who are your top 4 3rd basemen for this season after A-Rod?
Christopher Harris (3:34 PM)
Hi, Mike. I have A-Rod followed by Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. The Cabrera/Wright debate is going to be a fun one all spring. It was a hot topic at our rankings meeting last Friday, for sure. I was (barely) on the Cabrera side, but Wright won, and will be ranked second on our site and in our magazine.
Chris, should I take your answer to my keeper questions as you not being very high on Tejada this year? Seems like the park is a good fit.
Christopher Harris (3:38 PM)
Hi, Shawn. You know, I'm not high on Tejada. You're right, his power numbers have a decent chance to bounce back because of the ballpark. But if he's really hitting behind Michael Bourn and Kaz Matsui (and a third-place hitter to be named later and Carlos Lee), there might be fewer RBI opportunities available to him than we might think. And even before Tejada fractured his wrist last year, his power *and* line-drive peripheral numbers were way down. I probably had him lower among shortstops than anyone in the room last Friday: 11th. Obviously I won't be owning him in many leagues this year.
Do you think Braun will make the move to the outfield this year?
Christopher Harris (3:40 PM)
At the end of the year, I didn't think so, Ben, but the rumors out of Milwaukee have had the Brewers entertaining trade ideas for guys like Scott Rolen, Joe Crede and maybe signing Tad Iguchi (before he went to the Padres) to play third. That makes me think the idea of having Braun switch to the outfield is growing on Milwaukee. They claim they'd like to find a left fielder most of all, but the most natural move, in my mind, would be to move Bill Hall to third, put Braun in left and find a center fielder. Long term, I don't think Braun will play third. If I had to guess, I think he'll maintain his third-base positional eligibility in 2009, and that'll be it.
Trying to get a competitive edge. Can you promise me that the other people in my league won't have access to your content before the baseball drafts. THoughts on Liriano for this year?
Christopher Harris (3:42 PM)
Hi, Bobby. Hm. I can only promise if you take away their Internet access. As for Liriano...the Twins are pleased with what they've seen of him, and in April he'll be a full year-and-a-half removed from Tommy John surgery, which is good. Of course, the first year back playing after ligament-transfer surgery is often stuffed with complications, and I find it difficult to believe Liriano will instantly go back to being his dominant self. I think 2009 will be a better year for him. I have him in the 40-50 range among starters...a definite sleeper, but someone on whom I wouldn't use a high pick.
Mike Roth (NYC)
Eli Manning sleeper QB for 08?
Christopher Harris (3:44 PM)
Hi, Mike. Well, he played very well yesterday, which is a good sign. I still think Eli has accuracy problems that come down to inconsistent mechanics that arise when he's under pressure. I don't know if that will ever change, and I don't see any reason it'll suddenly change next year. Maybe it will. Eli just has a way of completely zoning out in games, and throwing five in a row over his receivers' heads. I think you're going to see him under a lot of pressure against the Cowboys next week, and while he did have a great season-opener in Big D this year, I think you're going to see him make characteristic mistakes. If you're asking whether Eli will be ownable in '08, absolutely, he was ownable this year. If you're asking if I think he takes the leap to top-five fantasy signal-caller, I say: no.
What impact do you forsee for Michael Bush next season?
Christopher Harris (3:46 PM)
Hi, Tom. It's really hard to tell. Obviously, he hasn't run in an NFL game yet, so gauging how well his broken leg has healed, and if he'll ever be the guy he was at Louisville before the injury, is idle speculation at this point. I don't expect LaMont Jordan to be back in Oakland next year, almost for sure, and Justin Fargas is a free agent that the Raiders would like to keep, but might not pay for because of Bush and Dominic Rhodes being in the fold. Bush will be an interesting mid-round sleeper next year, the kind of guy who'll get named the starter and be a terrific dark horse, or will have DeAngelo Williams circa 2007 written all over him.
Do you see any way Chad Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald getting traded? If so, what does that do to their value?
Christopher Harris (3:49 PM)
I think it's more likely Johnson goes than Fitzgerald. The Cardinals finally believe Fitz is the big-play guy who can consistently get open and produce down field...the perfect complement to Anquan Boldin. He's under contract, and the Cards won't be terribly cap-strapped in '08. I, too, have heard the rumors, but I don't think it'll happen. Johnson? That's another story. The Bengals are dysfunctional, and while I love what I know of 7/11's personality, it's hard to argue he's not at the heart of that dysfunction. I think there's a 50/50 chance he goes, and if he does, and winds up on a team that doesn't have a quarterback as good as Carson Palmer (a likely event), it'll hurt his value a bit, for sure.
Rebecca (St Louis)
Why can I never get a question answered??? I play in a keeper baseball league. What is the best way to add more teams to the league? Should they just have to deal with what's left after all the keepers or should everyone just re-draft?
Christopher Harris (3:51 PM)
Sorry, Rebecca. I wish I could get to more questions, I really do. And yours is a good one. My favorite way to do expansion in a fantasy league is to have an expansion draft. Let the current teams in the league protect a certain number of players...make it fair, so that the new teams will have good players to choose from. Maybe they can protect three players, but once they lose one player, they can pull back two more? Something like that? Anyway, however you specifically decide to do it, that's probably the best idea. In keeper leagues, it would stink to have to redraft the whole league, but it's a huge penalty to the new teams not to have them be able to choose from among some of the best keepers. Hope this helps.
What kind of year do you see Cole Hamels having?
Christopher Harris (3:52 PM)
A very, very good one, Ted. Last year proved to me that Hamels can stay healthy, which was a big concern. You have to hate his home ballpark, but I've got him eighth among all starters this year. Those strikeouts, and that nasty change, definitely help.
What kind of impact will Fukudome and Kuroda have this season?
Christopher Harris (3:54 PM)
Hi, Kevin. I have to admit, I don't know a ton about Kuroda. He's a righty, and the Dodgers overpaid...that's basically all I know. He's a fourth starter type. As for Fukudome, I'm pretty high on him. In Japan, he was an OBP machine...nearly .400 for his Japanese career. He's not a power hitter...he's got gap power, so he won't be an elite fantasy player. I ranked him 35th among fantasy outfielders here in the beginning of January, though I'm prepared to be swayed one way or the other based on what I see from him in March.
What do you make of Cedric Benson in keeper leagues next year since Jerry Angelo said they will be looking for competition for him?
Christopher Harris (3:56 PM)
Yeah, boy, Ron, if I had other options in keeper leagues, I might use 'em. I don't know how we can look at Benson's performance this year and define it as anything other than "disastrous." There's no one currently on the Chicago roster who can be a starting back for 16 weeks other than Benson (Adrian Peterson, the other one, turned out to be something of a fraud himself), so I don't blame the Bears for thinking maybe they traded the wrong guy when they got rid of Thomas Jones. Plus that Bears offensive line played badly this year, and isn't young. I'm not sanguine about Benson just now.
Chris do you think an upgrade from Aramis ramirez to Travis Hafner is worth the throw in of a 3rd round draft pick?
Christopher Harris (3:57 PM)
Hi, Michael. It's hard to answer definitively, because I don't know your league size, categories, keeper rules, etc., but speaking generally I'd say no. I don't think that's enough. Hafner's coming off a very down year, and while I like him to bounce back, he's not as safe as he looked coming into '07. I like him more than Aramis, but not that much more.
Why dont the Bengals just trade Chad Johnson for Larry Fitzgerald? The Bengals get a consistent humble football driven elite WR and the Cardinals get a speed demon media grabbing (something AZ could use) elite WR?
Christopher Harris (3:57 PM)
Not bad, Rick. The only problem, of course, is that Fitz is worth more in the league right now.
does donavan mcnabb have another year in philly, and if so is it a good one, or will just keep disappointing us?
Christopher Harris (4:00 PM)
Hi, Ryan. Well, Andy Reid keeps swearing up and down that McNabb will be his guy for 2008, but you have to wonder if he'll still feel that way next May. The fact that the Eagles didn't get Kevin Kolb a single regular-season snap would tend to indicate that unless they're ready to sacrifice 2008 from the word go, they can't go into the regular season with him as their starter, because nearly any young quarterback is going to struggle in his first starts. If it were me, I'd trade McNabb, because I have no doubt his best years are behind him, even though he's one of my favorite current NFL players. If he stays as Reid says, I think he'll probably be about what he was this year. Decent, not great, flashes of brilliance, flashes of badness, and not a consistent fantasy starter.
Is Ronnie brown a good keeper coming off of his injury? Do RBs usually come back strong from that type of injury? Thank you
Christopher Harris (4:02 PM)
Well, a torn ACL is as serious as it gets, single-ligament-wise, for a running back. And the first year back tends to be rather rough, even if the player doesn't feel pain. So I don't think Brown will be great in '08. I also don't love the fact that Miami let their O-line coach, Hudson Houck, go, because the offensive line was just about the only thing that improved and looked good in '07. I'm not excited for a big year from Ronnie next year.
Am I crazy to consider keeping Hamels over Crawford? Am I crazy to pretend that my mashed potatos are Mt. Vesuvius and that my gravy is lava running over the people (carrots & corn) of Pompeii?
Christopher Harris (4:03 PM)
Hi, Drew. As to the latter question: you're not crazy, you're Richard Dreyfuss. As to the former: yeah, you're a little crazy. Listen, I don't know what the rest of your keeper situation is like, and maybe you have a ton of speed kept elsewhere, but in a vacuum, Crawford is still a top-15 player in all fantasy drafts this year (at minimum), and you can't say that for Hamels. He's probably more in the 30-35 range.
Where do you rate Jake Peavy on your list of starters? Is he worth keeping at a $39 salary in a 5x5 NL-only league with a $260 cap?
Christopher Harris (4:04 PM)
Hi, Mike. Peavy is No. 2 for me, just behind Santana. And yes, in a vacuum, that's a good price for him, especially in an NL-only league. I'd hang onto him.
Hey Chris, My dynasty league baseball draft is soon. If you could have one of the top prospects who would it be? Someone who is a can't miss.
Christopher Harris (4:05 PM)
Hi, Ryan. Obviously there's no such thing as a can't-miss. Scroll up for my answer about the best rookies of the 2008 fantasy season. If I had to pick one, it'd probably be Evan Longoria, because I think he'll win the Rays' third base job. But there are other candidates (see my above answer).
Thoughts on Calvin Johnson next year? Rumors are Roy Williams might be dealt.
Christopher Harris (4:07 PM)
Hi, Hank. I don't think Roy Williams gets dealt...he's entering a contract year in '08, and I'm quite sure the Lions want to get the possible benefit of ultra-motivation from their stud playmaker. There's little question the firing of Mike Martz impacts all of these Detroit receivers, and Jon Kitna. Kitna won't be much of a fantasy commodity in '08, and might not even be a starter, really. But I think overall it's good news for Johnson. Fewer four-receiver sets means more times he's out there as the primary or secondary receiver. I like him a lot next year. He'll be among the more valuable second receivers in fantasy.
Who should I keep in a long term keeper league: Randy "record breaking" Moss or Larry "I'm only 24" Fitzgerald?
Christopher Harris (4:09 PM)
Ooh, good one, Dave. By when do you have to make your decision. If Randy Moss winds up going someplace else to pursue big free-agent dollars, the answer is easy: you keep Fitz. Moss won't be the same guy without Brady throwing it to him. If Moss stays, though, I don't see how you can pass him up. I know the prospect of having Fitzgerald for the next five years is awesome, but the prospect of having the *best* receiver in the *best* situation even for another year or two is even more tempting to me.
Christopher Harris (4:09 PM)
All right, folks, this chat room will probably vaporize in a minute or two, so let's get to one more.
Where is Michael Turner going to end up?
Christopher Harris (4:13 PM)
Hi, Ben. It's a good question. Cap room probably isn't going to be a problem for most teams, because the cap will go up in 2008 by a large amount. So it becomes a question of who needs a back, and who tends not to be afraid to spend big free-agent dollars. Houston would be a fit if Ahman Green is let go. Denver and Oakland are possibilities, if only to tweak a division rival. Chicago, Detroit (Kevin Jones has another major injury), Atlanta and Arizona are other possible destinations, off the top of my head.
Christopher Harris (4:14 PM)
Okay, everyone. Thanks very much for coming. Sorry for not being able to get to every question...there really are a lot of them. As always, I'm very appreciative for the interest, and I realize how sweet I have it, getting to do this for a living. And that's because of you. So thank you very much, and I hope you'll keep reading. I'll have lots of baseball content, and some NASCAR preview stuff, coming out in the coming week or two. Thanks again, and have a great week.
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