Fantasy Football with Tristan Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com fantasy expert Tristan Cockcroft will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest football news from a fantasy perspective.
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Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:02 AM)
Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...
Sok (Boston, MA)
If the game becomes out of reach early, do you see Cedric Benson being sat early to help aid in the recovery of his hip? Would you go with Snelling or Norwood in C-Bens' place?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
We're making some assumptions here in the question, that Benson will be healthy enough to play, and if he is, he's going to be starting for me. Too good a matchup. It's a nice thought, has merit, but you play the strength of the matchup if Benson is healthy enough to play. One half's worth of production might be all he needs.
Can you talk about Beanie a little bit? Ronnie Brown owner, Beanie will probably be my #2 the rest of the way. Can he be a solid, 70-80 and a td guy for me?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
I don't know that I'd go so far as to say "solid," but those aren't completely unrealistic projections. If you're doling out the touches in the Arizona backfield, I think you have to split 'em evenly between Beanie and Hightower, and if I'm picking one to lead, it's going to be the rookie. He's the more explosive runner, period. And it's a favorable schedule for sure. I don't think you'll be disappointed, but I also don't want my positive comments to be construed as "oh wow, get Beanie, because he's a top-10 guy." He's not, he's just one whose value is on the rise for the stretch run.
Tristan...Housh really blew up last week. I was wondering what your take on that was...one week explosion or is he starting to gain some momentum?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
It was two factors: One, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was glued to Nate Burleson all day, so who else was Matt Hasselbeck going to throw to? Two, the Cardinals' pass rush is one of the better ones in the league, so Hasselbeck might not have had the time to find Burleson the very few times he might have been open. I think I'd pick the matchups similarly, when the pass rush is strong or there's a top cover corner to take down Burleson, that's when you get Housh. This week qualifies. Generally? No. 3 wide receiver.
How does Turner's injury affect Matt Ryan...more opportunities? or more pressure and more turnovers? those are really beginning to bother me...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
Beginning to bother you? You're more patient than I. Good point here, and while I think the natural thought is that Ryan gets more opportunities, he shouldn't. I think it might only worsen the issue. I'd be very concerned.
Good morning Tristan. Would you start K. Smith or Betts this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
I'd go Kevin Smith, but I've been saying everywhere that this is a "last chance" kind of matchup for him. If he blows it, it's all over for him, because his schedule down the stretch is brutal. Not a fan of Ladell Betts this week, in a road game against a pretty decent Cowboys run defense.
Ryan (Da Burgh)
Whats your take on Larry Johnson coming to Cincinnati?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
Smart move, valuable insurance policy and in no way do I see him being a factor before December. And if he is in the season's final month it's mainly because either Cedric Benson's hip never healed or the Bengals wanted to ease the workload of their starter (which isn't unwise). Let's just say if LJ averages more than five carries a game in Cincy, I'm going to be surprised.
What do you see going on in the Seattle backfield for the rest of the season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
Justin Forsett being "the guy." He should have been the guy for the past couple of weeks and now he is the guy, and I think he will remain the guy looking forward, because he's capable enough of starting at this level. If he's this year's Ryan Grant (think back to that late-season Grant run in, what was it, 2007 if I recall correctly), I won't be shocked.
If Benson cant go it would be Bernard Scott starting right? He is a better start than...?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:14 AM)
Yes, Scott would probably start and get the most carries, though Brian Leonard would replace him on passing downs. I'd probably put Scott in the flex-play class in that instance, and if you want "better than" names, off the top of my head, jeez, Laurence Maroney, Ryan Moats, Jamaal Charles...
Dan (Winter Haven, FL)
Any chance things have changed in Hou and Slaton gets back in the good graces?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
I'd love it if that happened but there is no guarantee that is what will happen, certainly not in advance of this week that is. I wouldn't be cutting Steve Slaton, and it's a real shame there's no commitment to him being the starter facing this decent matchup, but with that backfield entirely up in the air, I can't use either Slaton or the aforementioned Moats.
Dwayne Bowenhead has me searching the wire, and these seem to be my best (highest league scorers to date) options: Meacham, R Williams, Breaston, N Washington, Garcon, Jacoby Jones, Avery and Wallace. Which couple would you narrow it down to?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
By "couple" I'm assuming you want two picks from these, and Donnie Avery sticks out like a sore thumb. Great matchups he has down the stretch and maybe the bye week's rest did him (and his quarterback) some real good. I think you'll be matchup-playing the rest of the bunch (and to an extent Avery, too, if you look at his matchup this week), and of those I see the most useful ones coming from, in order, Steve Breaston, Roy Williams, Robert Meachem.
PPR league. You like Maclin over Avery this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
Hmmmmm yes, but only this week.
Do you think LT is going to become a decent back again? would you start him, R Bush or Slaton in a ppr?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
LaDainian Tomlinson a decent back again -- hmmmm, no. I've been anti-LT2 all season, and I remain anti-LT2 today. He looks toast. Wouldn't shock me if he carries last week's good vibes into this week and routs a familiar division foe, but I think it's going to wear off rather quickly, so use it to take your last opportunity to trade the guy. Not at all a player I want on my fantasy roster during the playoffs. Him for Week 11... then trade, trade, trade.
Can Braylon Edwards be counted on as a WR2 for the stretch run?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:22 AM)
His matchups seem favorable enough to me, so yes. One thing I want to point out about the general "is this guy a WR2 (or whatever specific level you're picking)" questions: Wide receiver value shifts from week-to-week much more dramatically than at either quarterback or running back, and though I lack the numbers to prove it in the few seconds I have to answer a question, I'd speculate even more so than at tight end. So I don't think anyone could ever be happy labeling a specific wide receiver a WR2 every single week. It means on average, he'll likely be it more often than not. But there will be WR1 weeks, and WR3 weeks, and I bet there will be an Edwards week sprinkled in there where I'd never use him (I'm looking at you, Week 16 @IND).
Portis for McCoy. What side are you on?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
That's obvious to me but I'm a hockey fan and understand the complexity of the concussion. Keep those guys far from my fantasy roster!
Age-old question here: are you more inclined to play talent or the matchups? In my case, it's PThomas vs. Frank Gore, the Bucs vs. the #1 DVOA Packers.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
There is no "right" answer to that question. I would say I go 60-percent talent, 40-percent matchups if you must quantify it in terms of only those two factors, but that's a ballpark guess thinking about who and why I've liked certain matchups in the past. And in this example, I don't think "talent" versus "matchups" is entirely the right way to break things down. Opportunity matters. I think quite a bit so. So do hot streaks, momentum. If I broke the factors down I likely go 25-percent raw talent, 15-percent streak, 20-percent opportunity and 40-percent matchup. So Gore's going to play for me, because he's got the talent, a decent enough streak and the opportunity. Thomas just has the talent and the matchup, and I won't even give him full credit for the talent, because he's just no Frank Gore.
Randy (Duval Co.)
With DeAngelo being dinged up last week and on a short week this week against a decent Dolphins run D...is he still a match-up proof must start?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
"Matchup proof must-start" is quite a compliment for a fantasy player, and it's reserved for the elite talents without question marks. Williams has question marks. He doesn't seem 100 percent to me, he's facing an underrated run defense and you're right, it's a short week. He'll start for me, but I'm classifying him as an RB2, and that doesn't fit that label.
Shane (Edison, NJ)
Hey Tristan, I have Saints & Broncos DEF (to play matchups), but thinking NO is a must start at this point, and better off using roster spot on an end-of-the-bench guy... is M.Bush or Norwood a better pickup at this point?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
I don't agree with you that the Saints defense is a must-start. Darren Sharper, the team's best interception guy, just missed Week 10 (though he's due back this week), and until Jabari Greer and Sedrick Ellis return, their absences do adversely impact the pass and run defenses respectively. I'd be very careful, as that could be a trap play until this defense returns to full strength. You gotta use it this week, accounting for the matchups, but I would not let that depth at defense go.
Tristan...Help! Trade Welker for Ricky Williams...the schedules are in Welker's favor for the playoffs, and I'm not sold that Ronnie Brown is out all season long. Any word on that?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
You get Ricky Williams or you trade him? I want Wes Welker in this deal, though my perception might be painted by my participation in multiple PPR leagues. I'm pro-Williams, especially in light of the whispers that Brown might miss multiple weeks, if not the vast majority of the remaining fantasy football season. It's a very favorable next two weeks for Williams, I'll say.
Ryan (San Diego)
Why the heck would you trade LT before he has 3 of the BEST matchups he will all season? This makes NO sense. The guy just torched a GOOD defense, now faces 3 very favorable opponents Denver, KC and Cleveland. And you're telling people to trade him? Cmon mannn
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
Thank you for supporting my case. There are true LaDainian Tomlinson believers out there -- feed them this evidence as to why you should take the bait. The bait will spoil ... quickly.
Eddie (Los Angeles)
Strategery question for the stretch run...I'm needing some help at RB - do I handcuff my stud (MJD), pick up a now concussed former stud (Westbrook, Portis), or roll the dice with the flavor of the week (Beanie, Snelling, Betts)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
I think handcuffing your studs becomes increasingly important with each week closer to the fantasy championship game. You don't want the bottom dropping out on your roster, trust me. That said, the answer to this question can't be one general statement -- the individual players matter. You mentioned Beanie Wells. Well, to me, Wells offers more upside than any MJD handcuff. If you can get a player with a decent path to a starting job, isn't that as least as good as a handcuff? That's the whole point of handcuffing, to make sure you have a fall-back starter. Well, Betts and Wells sure look like they're decent bets to start (or get a lot of carries) from this point forward.
Tristan, Whats your take on Lynch? You really endorsed him last week and he disappointed tremendously. Is he droppable? I own K.Smith, M. Forte, Slaton, Forsett, and Snelling. Thanks
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
Whoa whoa whoa, I did what? I'm not at all a Marshawn Lynch fan -- haven't been all season. I'd assume this relates to my "Called Out" point about Eric Karabell's group-low ranking, except that those listings shouldn't be construed as "endorsements." I said in there "However, Maurice Jones-Drew and Frank Gore were responsible for 50 of them, and I'd hardly put Lynch close to their class." There you go -- Lynch isn't close to in the class of MJD or Gore. (Big shock.) And yes, I do think he's about as droppable as any of those backs of yours right now.
Is Randy Moss "benchable" this week against Revis?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
I'm on this bandwagon. Now, it's crazy-bold to say "sit Randy Moss." I'm not even sure I believe it, because I know what a typical fantasy roster looks like and it's just highly unlikely anyone has the wide receiver depth to do it. But let's have a little fun here. Let's say somehow you lucked into the draft getting Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Sidney Rice. There's really no question I'd be sitting Moss out of those four then. The Revis factor is relevant -- but I stress that it's more so in that Moss' owners need to have greater confidence in their other starting slots than a specific tip to bench him. In other words, take more chances elsewhere to make up for what should be so-so production.
Ocho Cinco (El Cincinatti)
Am I benchable this week IN Oakland?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
Nope. The Nnamdi factor isn't totally terrifying. Christopher Harris said it very well in "Called Out" last week that Nnamdi Asomugha is stationed on one side of the field, and all you have to do is rotate your receivers to avoid the matchup. He's dead on about that -- has been that way for over a year now.
Matt (Ithaca, NY)
Glad to hear you're a hockey fan. Any chance you would start Schaub over Rivers this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
Uh, yeah. There's every chance I'd do that.
Cutler or Palmer in your opinion this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:43 AM)
I'm frightened by Jay Cutler right now, especially in light of his turnover-happy self having to face a turnover-generating defense. Yikes.
What about Schaub over Warner?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
Well, I realize the earlier comment might come across as entirely pro-Matt Schaub, and it should to an extent, but there are limits. He's a good play, Philip Rivers is a good play, and that's speaking to a general approach to ranking the position, but Kurt Warner trumps 'em both.
Hey Tristan, Currently in 4th barely ahead for final playoff spot, should I trade my 2nd Rounder next year for Brees? (My QB is Flacco in 10 team league)????
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
It's immensely difficult to evaluate draft-pick trades without knowing the nitty-gritty about a keeper league's rules, but I can tell that from personal experience, draft picks are almost always overrated and you shouldn't be afraid to deal them if it's absolutely necessary to help your current championship run. This isn't even a first-rounder -- the hardest-hitting of the draft-pick trades -- for one of the best quarterbacks in the game. I can't see how that's not worth it.
trade Kevin Smith and Miles Austin for Andre Johnson?..or Ocho and jon Stewart for AJ?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
I did note earlier I think Kevin Smith is going to lock in nicely as a sell-high coming out of Week 11. But I have no problem peddling him before the game if I must. Go for it. The first one.
Do guys like Mike Bell and Devery Henderson have potential in the latter part of the schedule w/ the Saints possibly looking to rest their first line guys? Worth holding on to at all?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
I suppose that's possible, but the Saints have preserved Pierre Thomas nicely and I actually think a guy like Robert Meachem might serve as a better fill-in type among the wide receivers. Besides, Week 17 is really the only time you need to seriously fret teams resting regulars.
Lunch is close, whats on the menu for today? And who are some good buy low candidates here as we approach the trading deadline and playoff stretch?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
Good question, Jon, but I'm getting a hankering for a roast beef sub. We'll see in a little bit, but that's the leaning as of 11:48 a.m. ET. As for the question, sorry to do it, but I'm using it to plug the newsletter this week -- the juicy nuggets are hidden in there. Your question specifically answered in it.
Hey Tristan, love the Called Out feature. What's the better defensive play this week? Arizona against the offensively-challenged Rams, or SF hitting the sack jackpot against GB?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
I think it's the Cards, because that pass rush might wreak havoc on Marc Bulger and the Rams' passing game this week. Yes, there's Steven Jackson, but one player alone can't frighten me in terms of matchups.
If Ricky Williams is taking Ronnie's spot in Miami, who is taking Ricky's old spot? He had to be the most productive #2 RB in the league before Brown went out.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
Sounds to me like it's going to be Lex Hilliard, but I wouldn't race to get him. I don't think this is the kind of case where Williams becomes the new Ronnie Brown and Hilliard the new Williams. More likely Williams is the go-to guy and Hilliard takes five carries or so to keep the starter fresh. Pat White gets more snaps, too.
Hey TENN Def did awesome last week! 3 in a row! Do they keep it going, DEF that is?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
Getting Cortland Finnegan back healthy helped this defense, but let's also credit the work this team must have done during the bye week to get itself straightened out. Tennessee is a viable defensive matchup play once again! Sadly, I'm not playing this matchup. A road game at Houston? Nah, that's a bad one.
I cannot believe im actually thinking about this but ive got space on my bench, would you hold on to Julius Jones incase he regains his starting spot after injury and gets to face the Rams.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
It really depends on what else is out there. As a general take, I wouldn't sweat cutting Julius Jones. He wasn't exactly setting the world ablaze before getting hurt.
i have either snelling or steve smith(nyg) in my flex postion this wk. who would you start?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
I'm all over that Steve Smith matchup. Both Steve Smiths this week, actually. But the one on the Giants faces a Falcons secondary that hasn't been quite the same since Brian Williams got hurt, and I think Eli Manning should be back to 100 percent now with the bye week's rest, which helps his receivers.
no new news on brown then? "they" say done for the year...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
Who are "they"? Hey, I won't be shocked if Ronnie Brown misses most if not all of the season. He's not the healthiest fella if you go back and look at his track record. Plus, it's an ankle and a foot injury, two separate issues. But I'd keep tabs on Adam Schefter's reports -- if anyone's going to know the instant Brown's return date (or lack thereof) is known, it's him.
Can Chris Johnson keep his absurd streak going this week vs an improved Texans' DEF?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
I've had a few people ask me this question, and I quoted the stat to a buddy of mine the other day, that the Texans D had allowed about 100 fantasy points in their first three games and have had maybe 60 allowed since Bernard Pollard joined the lineup. That said, Johnson is a special talent. Those percentages before about talent ruling the day? Great talent, great opportunity, exceptional streak, best you could get of any player in the entire league in all three. And it's not a miserable matchup. There's no question you start the guy, and I think he's going to be a top-5 back this week for sure. Week-leading? Maybe not, but definitely top five.
Should I go for it 4th and 2? And Brady or Warner this week and whyThank you
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
Sigh, the Belichick call. My take on that is that it was the wrong call, but I don't think a coach should be crucified for boldness. As compelling a case to try as there is not, and I only say "nay" because he lacked a challenge in the case of a close play, not to mention it was a road game against the greatest comeback artist in the game. Too risky, too much downside. Anyway, to your question. It's Kurt Warner. The Rams don't have the personnel to keep up with all the Cardinals' weapons, but the Jets do with the Patriots. Tom Brady had a so-so game against the Jets earlier in the year. It'll get better at home, but not to Warner levels.
Kurt Warner (AZ)
I will win more teams a fantasy championship than Manning, Brees, and Brady combined. Go ahead, tell me I'm crazy. I'll prove you wrong.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:04 PM)
You know what? I don't think you're entirely crazy. Age, health risk, those are the two things that have be hesitating pushing in all my chips, but outside of those two somewhat minor factors (haven't been at all an issue since the start of 2008), I have no doubt whatsoever in the guy's talent.
Ray Rice vs Indy, or Mendenhall vs. KC?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
Two very nice matchups. I'd love to start 'em both. I'll go Ray Rice, in a slight edge in terms of talent/opportunity. It's ever-so-close.
Charlie (New Jersey)
I think its worth noting two things...The Pats didnt have Welker in the first matchup, and Jim Leonhard is out this time around...Both i think will help Bradys case this time around
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
Fair enough. And I did say I expected better. Not to Kurt Warner levels, I repeat, but better.
Pete (Toronto )
What do you do with Dwayne Bowe
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:08 PM)
I've been having this debate with a friend of mine, who is a commish of one of my leagues, and I pointed out that the case can absolutely be made Bowe is worth cutting. He'll be back in Week 15, and that's fantasy playoff time, sure, but especially in ESPN leagues benches are shallow and you can't afford to have four weeks of zeroes for the prospect that maybe Bowe does something for you when he gets back. Ask yourself this: Do you really think you're going to be confident enough to start Bowe in his Week 15 return? After four weeks off? Especially since his final two matchups are awful (@CIN, @DEN) after that? I just don't think it's crazy if you need that roster spot. I repeat, if you need it. I sure wouldn't be cutting him for Leonard Weaver, but for a clear pickup...
Tristan, I could start em both, but then I'd have to sit Chris Johnson. I know, what a horrible problem to have. LOL
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:09 PM)
I have a feeling you're going to be a top seed in your fantasy playoffs.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:10 PM)
OK, time to wrap things up for the day. Thank you for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours -- always so many and so limited time. Take care everyone, and best of luck to you in your Week 11 matchups!