Fantasy NFL with Chris Harris
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Christopher Harris (11:01 AM)
Good morning, everyone. Welcome in. As I hope you know, I've got a podcast now, called the Fantasy Underground. Look it up on iTunes or espn.com/podcenter. And you'd also be helping me out if you'd buy a copy of my football novel, called Slotback Rhapsody (www.slotbackrhapsody.com). Because, like, you're into football, right? And you're reading right now? Seriously: reviewers have dug it. Lots of fun game action, lots of philosophy, some good writing, $6 on your Kindle. If I've ever answered a question of yours, help me out, right? Okay, so let's get to your questions.
Your rankings show confidence with Brandon Lloyd vs. Champ. Can you explain a bit?
Christopher Harris (11:04 AM)
Hi, Jeff. Sure: I think Champ is good, but certainly not shutdown. ProFootballFocus has him rated 25th among CBs so far this year, tied with DeAngelo Hall. Also, the Broncos sometimes do play sides, so I'm not positive you'd see Bailey on Lloyd the entire game anyway. I'm just fine using either Pats WR.
Joe (Decatur, GA)
What Chris Johnson's game last week a sign of things to come, or is he still done?
Christopher Harris (11:05 AM)
Hi, Joe. Ha! Well, I never said he was done in the first place. I'll quote myself from this week's Instant Impressions column: "I kind of hate the way the media covers failure these days. The results hadn't been there for Chris Johnson. That's obvious. But somehow, we went from CJ not producing to CJ not trying. I heard a dozen smarmy, smug hosts and/or analysts over the past few weeks taking the narrative further and further, how Johnson is afraid to get hit, how he's trying to show up his offensive line by stinking, how he's just satisfied with his contract and doesn't care anymore. It's that sort of stupid, short-sighted analysis that serves as shorthand for nuance, and you should avoid it like the plague when you hear it."
Brian (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Chris, MJD over Forte in the rankings. Is it because of the time share in Chicago? I feel like Forte has the better matchup...just looking for some reasoning to make me stick with MJD this week.
Christopher Harris (11:07 AM)
Hi, Brian. MJD is kind of alone on a bad-offense island right now, so I understand your hesitance. Yes, Forte is lower because of the presence of Michael Bush, and specifically my belief that Bush will be the short TD maker. I certainly agree that the Jags D is a much better matchup. And listen, we're talking about 2 spots in the ranks -- if your gut tells you Forte, I couldn't argue with that. We'd be splitting hairs.
Is Ryan Williams actually going to make an impact this season or am I just kidding myself?
Christopher Harris (11:08 AM)
Hi, Ryan. I kind of think tonight's game is a little bit of do-or-die for Williams' fantasy stock against a not-great Rams rush defense. This is less about Williams (or Beanie) and more about what might quietly be the worst o-line in the NFL (especially consider the team is 4-0!). There's no place to run. The only good output Williams has had so far was burning out the clock in a blowout against the Eagles, and otherwise he's had nowhere to run. I'm giving him one more chance as a flex in a good matchup tonight, but am willing to revisit if there's nowhere to run.
Michael (Monterey, CA)
Chris, who is a better flex play this week, The Law Firm or Brian Hartline?
Christopher Harris (11:10 AM)
Hi, Michael. The easy answer is BJGE, right? I mean, we're supposed to like the steadiness of a RB over the vagaries of a WR. But this is a toughie, because Hartline is hot and seems to have a better matchup. I think I'm going to tell you Green-Ellis, but that's the arch-conservative in me. If you're even a little bit of a gambling man, play Hartline and hope for upside. Law Firm's game tape has been awful the past two weeks.
Am I going to have listen to the Fantasy Underground podcast to make my flex decision of Steven Jackson vs James Jones?
Christopher Harris (11:11 AM)
Hi, K. Well, it's not a bad idea, considering we talk at length about each guy. This week, I'd probably play Jones, but I know he'll probably give me an ulcer as a result.
Which WR do you like ROS PPR? Avery or Hankerson?
Christopher Harris (11:11 AM)
I think I'd prefer Hankerson.
Chris- Doug Martin...Staying away or buying low?
Christopher Harris (11:12 AM)
Hi, Steve. Well, it depends how low. I admit that my Week 1 assessment, where I really liked what I saw on tape, hasn't really evinced through much of the rest of the year, and now D.J. Ware seems to be playing third downs and Blount is getting goal-line carries. That's a bit of a mess. Martin is the best player here and it's not close. I still think better times are ahead, so I'm in buy mode. But yeah, obviously, we're not paying retail for him.
Thoughts on J. Best ROS??
Christopher Harris (11:14 AM)
Hi, Steve. I don't think anyone knows. The Lions don't know. There was a newspaper story this morning saying Best hasn't even taken a concussion test recently, so I don't think anybody has a single notion about whether he'll be able to play. Obviously if he could get on the field, he might be the Waiver Add Of The Year. But since we have no idea, I think those in 10-team leagues probably need to stay away, unless you have such a great team that you can afford to spend a bench spot on such a speculative guy.
I Just Bought (Slotback Rhapsody)
I need a good football read.
Christopher Harris (11:14 AM)
Thank you very much. Ask me a question. I will answer it. I have very little shame.
Chris -- I was very impressed with Vick and the line's ability to keep him safe. Sign of things to come?
Christopher Harris (11:16 AM)
Hi, JP. We discuss Vick at length on this week's version of the Fantasy Underground podcast, so I really suggest you listen. Sure, I thought Demetress Bell was quite good in particular, and Vick had enough time to go through his progressions. He didn't turn it over as a result. But as we discuss on the podcast, Vick is never going to be make the big fantasy bucks with his arm. He needs to run. My partner, Field Yates, thinks those running days might be over. I'm not there yet, though.
Chris, I have an ethics question for you. Our league can vote to veto trades (which I'm against, but what can you do). I had a trade vetoed yesterday and found out that our commisioner had contacted several other league members to talk them into vetoing. I'm outraged and think this was completely unethical for anybody to do, but especially the commisioner. Should I threaten to leave the league or what?
Christopher Harris (11:17 AM)
Hi, Peter. Sounds pretty shady to me, for sure. I'm *never* in favor of leaving a league midseason. Even if you think the other people in the league are morally bankrupt, I believe in personal responsibility and you're a good enough guy to care about this stuff, which means you should stick out a bad situation. But if it were me, and this was never explained to my satisfaction, I certainly wouldn't play with the same people next season.
Hi Chris: Please pick two: Amendola, S-Jax or Malcolm Floyd? Thanks!
Christopher Harris (11:18 AM)
Hi, Matt. Non-PPR, I'm assuming. Boy, I think maybe I just go with the WRs. I'm nervous about Jackson tonight.
Hey Chris, I know you guys are (Understandable) down on all Jets. As a Speculative Bench Roster spot would you hold on to Bilal Powell or would you grab say a Bryce Brown in case McCoy's injury continues to nag him?
Christopher Harris (11:19 AM)
Hi, Mike. I think I'd prefer Brown as a speculative add right now, especially since McCoy was stuffed from the 1 on three straight plays last week, and then Brown got the next carry inside the 5.
Have u heard anything regarding vincent brown?Thnx
Christopher Harris (11:20 AM)
Hi, Gerb. I think he's progressing well. He's eligible to come back Week 7, and that might still be a bit optimistic, but he *is* coming back, and with Robert Meachem doing absolutely nothing so far, Brown looks like he could have some value in the second half of the season.
Jackie Battle (SD)
Am I a trusted star over someone like Steven Jackson this week?
Christopher Harris (11:21 AM)
Well, no. I'm not going quite that far. And for all single-position questions, remember my ranks are here (and will be updated tomorrow): http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=12ranksWeek5QB
Brian (My office)
Hi there Chris, thanks for watching all that tape for the podcast. Let me add Ryan Mathews to a Doug Martin question. I traded Darren Sproles and Daniel Thomas for Doug Martin and Ryan Mathews. The trade rule of thumb seems to be best player wins the trade, so did I give away or get the best player?
Christopher Harris (11:22 AM)
Hi, Brian. Thanks for the kind words. This is an interesting trade. My summer optimism about Thomas notwithstanding (not a great call so far), this is essentially a 2-for-1...selling at fair value on Sproles while buying Martin and Mathews relatively low. I like the deal. Sproles is probably the best player here *now*, but I still have high hopes for Mathews, and I mentioned that I do think somewhat better days are ahead of Martin, too. I think this was worth the risk, but a fair deal.
Chris, should I be concerned that Brandon Lloyd is having trouble beating press coverage? He had his hands full with Buffalo's rookie CB last week.
Christopher Harris (11:24 AM)
Hi, Christian. Yeah, Gilmore played a good game last week (his trucking by Brandon Bolden notwithstanding). It's interesting -- as I wrote in lsat week's Hard Count, the Pats don't seem to be sending Lloyd deep, and that seems less about press coverage than about an organized plan...but as I said earlier, I don't buy Bailey as a super-elite player any longer, and I'm okay using Lloyd.
brian (tampa bay)
pleaseeeeeeeeee chris help me im 0-4.. haha.. would you trade AP for p. harvin and doug martin...
Christopher Harris (11:25 AM)
Hi, Brian. I probably wouldn't. As we mentioned earlier, rule of thumb tends to be the person getting the best player wins a fantasy trade, and as much as I like Harvin, AP is the best player here. (It's amazing that that's the case! The dude tore his ACL on Christmas Eve! How is this happening!)
In a PPR is Hartline in a better play than Harvin?
Christopher Harris (11:25 AM)
Hi, Shawn. No, I think the PPR format only strengthens Harvin. I think you have to play him every week.
McFad for Gore... which side do you prefer and why?
Christopher Harris (11:26 AM)
Hi, Rich. I think I still prefer McFadden. Obviously the production hasn't been there yet, while Gore is off to a breakneck start. But I'm dubious Gore can keep this pace up, or that the Niners want him to...at some point, that assemblage of backfield bodies is going to start lightening the load. (Brandon Jacobs comes back this week.) We talk about McFadden at length on this week's Fantasy Underground podcast.
Seth (Great Barrington, MA)
I thought this was the year Jeremy Maclin finally developed into an elite WR. Do you see anything to suggest he overtakes D-Jax?
Christopher Harris (11:27 AM)
Hi, Seth. I've never been as big a Maclin fans as many of my fellow ESPNers, but I have to admit that at this point, his lack of production almost *has* to be related to his bad hip. He played all the snaps last week, but barely got targeted as Prince Amukamara shut him down. We're probably going to have to wait a bit to see what Maclin looks like fully healthy before we can make this assessment.
Jacob (Charleston, SC)
Lynch a top-5 back by season's end? Or is he going to wear down with so many touches every week?
Christopher Harris (11:28 AM)
Hi, Jacob. I can't answer this definitively, but I have to say: I think he's a pretty darned good bet to stay where he is. It's a great system for a fantasy RB, and he's a bull. I'm holding.
Will J.Finley get better? How many more par 10 point games until he is no longer top 10?
Christopher Harris (11:30 AM)
Hi, Nate. Great question. It's not like Finley's numbers have been awful, but relative to expectations they just aren't acceptable. I pushed him down to 7 on my list this week, outside my top 5 for the first time all year, and that's with Jason Witten out. Finley is top 10 among TEs in targets and catches, so that gives you hope. But he's a knucklehead, and he hasn't scored TDs yet. It's maddening.
Who is Gore's best handcuff given Jacobs is coming back?
Christopher Harris (11:31 AM)
Hi, Todd. Well, I'm not sure there *is* really a handcuff candidate -- if Gore gets hurt we're probably looking at a committee. If I had to pick one guy, though, it would be Kendall Hunter, one of my favorite dynasty prospects in the game. I'm writing about him in this week's Hard Count. Love the guy.
Tim (Miami, Fl)
On Gore: SO would you try and trade him now or hold onto him pick up his hancuffs and hope for the best?
Christopher Harris (11:33 AM)
Hi, Tim. Listen, if someone wants to give me Aaron Rodgers for him? Sure. Or, more reasonably, say someone wants to give me Matt Forte or MJD for him. I would do that. But I'm not giving him away. He's been terrific, and maybe I'm wrong about the production. Tough to look a top 10 RB gift horse in the mouth. But my *guess* is that he does slow down, so I don't mind a sell-high if you get a lot back.
I heard you say on a podcast that Antonio Gates is "ossifying" before our eyes. You have him ranked 5th this week. Will that ranking continue throughout the season, or do you predict that ranking will slip throughout the season.
Christopher Harris (11:35 AM)
Hi, Frank. I did say that, didn't I? (On the Fantasy Focus podcast, I believe.) Yeah, I mean, his legs are going. The great thing is that his hands are still great, and he's close to the only trustworthy weapon Rivers has (at least when Gates is out there). It's tough *not* to rank him high when you look at the alternatives, especially given what looks like a sweet matchup against the Saints. I'll tell you, though: if he can't do anything this week, he takes a dive in my ranks next.
You starting Ryan Williams, Hixon or Avery this week in a PPR flex? Assuming Nicks is out. Thx
Christopher Harris (11:36 AM)
Hi, Ed. I guess I'm going with Hixon. The matchup is right against CLE, and there's no Ramses Barden this week, it sounds like.
Is Meachem so bad he's worth dropping even for someone like Donnie Avery, Donald Jones, or TY Hilton?
Christopher Harris (11:36 AM)
Hi, DC. No, not quite that bad, IMO.
Chris, what do you think of Rashard Mendenhall this weekend and the rest of the season. Will he get most of the touches or split time with Redman / Dwyer?
Christopher Harris (11:37 AM)
Hi, Andrew. I think he's at the head of a committee at least to begin Week 5, but the Steelers will play it by ear after that. If he looks perfect, they'll heap a load on him. If not, they'll rotate. If I could stay away this week to just see what things look like, I'd love to.
Love the Underground! Is Amendola a must start in PPR leagues? Is he a top 10 option ROS? He ranks 4th among WRs in my league! How does this happen?
Christopher Harris (11:38 AM)
Hi, Owen. Yeah, I think Amendola is in Welker territory in a PPR...he's not at *all* guaranteed the TDs he's gotten lately, but his floor just seems so safe with those juicy targets. Is he a top 10 WR? Mm, that might be pushing it. Definitely top 20. I'd love to see Sam Bradford play better more consistently before I put any of his WRs top 10 anything, no matter the league format.
Think Welker's production will continue or regress once Hernandez comes back? Should I sell high on him after this week?
Christopher Harris (11:40 AM)
Hi, Nick. That's the million-dollar question. Let me admit: I am totaly speculating. Anyone who gives you a definitive answer on this is totally speculating. My gut tells me that Welker has been so good in these games that he can't see his targets dip. I think the offense has to go back to the way it was last year, and that means Hernandez and Welker both get fed, and Julian Edelman regresses to the mean. But we'd all go broke betting on what Belichick is going to do next -- it's just so tough to be sure. Me, I'm not selling, though.
Why so low on Reggie Wayne this week Chris?
Christopher Harris (11:42 AM)
Hi, Bill. Hey, for me that's high! I was too low on Wayne this summer, and maybe this is just the learning curve not having taken complete hold. Still, he's inside my top 20, and when I look at the names ahead of him on my list, there's nobody I think he's a better player than. He's getting good fantasy production because of a massive number of targets...that puts him more in the Welker/Amendola category than the A.J. Green category, if you know what I mean. But listen, if the dude stays near the top of the WR fantasy rolls, I'll have to change my tune, right?
Matt (Slotback Rocksville)
Need Help, would you trade Mathews and Turner for McCoy
Christopher Harris (11:44 AM)
Now, Matt. Did you *really* buy the book? Or are you just teasing me with your location. C'mon man! Do me a solid, right? Would I do that trade? If I had good RB depth, I probably would, yes. But I'm skeptical you have a great RB2 left once you trade those other dudes away. If you've got someone like, say, Alfred Morris, though? Fire away.
Desparately 0-4 (Orlando)
Pick 2 between Gates, Rudolph, Hixon.
Christopher Harris (11:45 AM)
I'll go Hixon first, and then after that -- it's funny, Keith Lipscomb and I had a long Gates/Rudolph Week 5 conversation yesterday, and we didn't come to a strong conclusion. I have Gates one spot higher, so I guess by a sliver I'll pick him. But Rudolph's matchup v. TEN does look ideal.
If Vick was your current QB, would you rather stick with the combo of Vick, Charles, & Decker or trade for Eli, Murray,
Christopher Harris (11:46 AM)
Hi, Chad. I'd rather stick with what you have, especially given Dallas' interior o-line troubles (which I'm writing about for this week's Hard Count, which'll be out on the site tomorrow midday).
Would you take a chance with Ryan Williams in the flex over a safe 7 points from Antonio Brown?
Christopher Harris (11:46 AM)
Hi, Dan. No, I think I'd rather roll with Brown.
ZEKE (San Jose)
Megatron is on the block -- but I don't want to overpay and it doesn't seem like he is the dominant guy he was last year. Std league. Current offer is Hartline, Benson and Hawkins -- all 3 are upgrades for him over current starters. Fair deal?
Christopher Harris (11:47 AM)
Hi, Zeke. If you can get the Megatron owner to take that, and if you have enough RB depth to overcome losing Benson, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I think it's rather a touch of highway robbery, actually.
Christopher Harris (11:48 AM)
If you can tell me the first name of the head coach in Slotback Rhapsody, I promise I'll answer question... Go!
Mike (San Diego)
I'm thinking about buying low on Ryan Mathews. Is Spiller too much to give up for him or does that seem about right?
Christopher Harris (11:49 AM)
Hi, Mike. I love the idea of buying low on Mathews, honestly. I think this Battle stuff is going to go away, and you're *in* SD, so I'm assuming you feel the same way. Boy, though, tough to give up the guy who was leading the world in fantasy points as of last week! I do think it's fair. I do. It takes stones to do it, but I think it's fair.
CORRECTION: Not to nit-pick, but Finley scored a TD week 1.
Christopher Harris (11:50 AM)
Thanks, Corey. I didn't mean to imply he hadn't scored at all...just that he's having a hard time finding the end zone. But you're absolutely right...thanks.
Starling Fond (Brooklyn, NY)
If you could trade Mcgahee for either D Murray or Mcfadden in a PPR, who would you choose and which side wins?
Christopher Harris (11:51 AM)
CORRECT ANSWER. Starling Fond is the coach. I think I'd pick McFadden, because he's a really, really good pass catcher. And in a PPR, I think that's probably fair. I like the idea of buying relatively low on McFadden, though obviously McGahee's been quite good. I think it's fair.
Starling!!!!Best flex option for week 5 among Spiller, M Bush, Maclin, Hixon/Hakeem Nicks (if he plays)
Christopher Harris (11:53 AM)
Hi, Vin. Correct. I'll say Hixon. I'm very tempted by Spiller, but that 49ers matchup looks brutal.
Head coach's first name is Starling. My question is should you sell high on Dwayne Bowe? Is he for real? What if Brady Quinn becomes the QB?
Christopher Harris (11:54 AM)
Hi, Mike. Correct. I don't mind selling high on Bowe at all. He's amassed those juicy stats in garbage time, and while I'm not sure Quinn could be that much worse than Cassel, it wouldn't help. Bowe deserves to be valued right around WR20...if someone wants to pay you more than that, I'd do it.
Starling Fond (Detroit)
I know the rankings say otherwise, but explain why might I be a little crazy to consider starting Dalton over Vick this week?
Christopher Harris (11:55 AM)
Correct answer, but I'd probably keep rolling with Vick. Listen, Dalton has produced fine numbers, and it's tough to definitively predict the future. If you're in agreement with Field Yates (from the Fantasy Underground podcast) and believe that Vick's running days are mostly over, then this is a great question. I'm not there yet, so I'm still starting Vick.
Starling is the first name. What's your social security number?
Christopher Harris (11:55 AM)
232-23-22.... Hey, wait a minute!!!
Mike (San Diego)
After watching the Chargers/Chiefs game last week, I'm convinced Cassel is going to break Bowe's ribs because he airmails so many throws.
Christopher Harris (11:56 AM)
Cassel/Bowe is the garbage-time panacea of our era.
Hey Chris, i see that chris johnson and ryan williams are real close in your rankings. I was wondering if your reasoning was that williams was safer b/c of the matchup? The guy has such a small sample size i have a tough time justifying him over cj who has a worse matchup but greater upside (w/ hasselbeck at least). Please offer some insight. Thanks!
Christopher Harris (11:58 AM)
Hi, Ken. The biggest takeaway here is that they really *are* very close this week, in my opinion, and that means your gut should probably be the deciding factor...if your gut tells you Johnson, I can't debate that at all. You've nailed my reasoning...better matchup for Williams (who has a crummy o-line and has basically done nothing) than CJ (who also may have a crummy o-line, has a great history and one good performance this year).
1-3 Record (Dyersville)
Have MJD, McFadden and Murray - should i package 2 and try to get like Arian Foster type? I can start 3 RB's a week but Murray and McFadden are killing me!! HELP!
Christopher Harris (11:58 AM)
It's a bold move, my friend. But listen, if you can get the best player in fantasy, it's rarely a bad thing....
Is kenny britt gonna have a "Q" next to his name all year, both in terms of playing and productivity?
Christopher Harris (11:59 AM)
Hi, Alex. It's especially gory with Hasselbeck and his less-than-Herculean arm throwing it to him, too.
Alex (Summerville, SC)
Would you start Greg Olsen over WR who are ranked in the 30s-40s?
Christopher Harris (12:00 PM)
Hi, Alex. I do like how involved Olsen has been the past couple weeks (to the detriment of Brandon Lafell!). It would probably depend *which* WR you're talking about, but I don't hate the idea. Most TEs are just so tough to predict week to week, of course.
Christopher Harris (12:00 PM)
OK, gang, I have to keep writing the Hard Count, so I'm going to do one more. (And yes, many of you are still answering the Starling Fond question -- but after you've seen many others post the answer, is that exactly fair?)
"Mouse" Morrison (Detroit)
How could Hasselbeck hurt Britt's value? wasnt he QB during his breakout at the beginning of last season?
Christopher Harris (12:02 PM)
Well, it's true. But that doesn't mean a QB with a bigger arm wouldn't do better...that was a rare time when we actually had a healthy, un-suspended Britt. Who knows what the numbers might've looked like with a bigger-armed dude dealing it to him? And given Britt's current physical state, I'm not considering the QB switch to be a thing that sends Britt's stock soaring.....
Christopher Harris (12:04 PM)
OK, gang. This has been great, and I'm sorry not to get to all your questions. (There were > 2,400 posted in an hour.) Follow me on Twitter @writerboyESPN (though I'm finally going to change that dumb handle soon). Friend me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/writerboy. Buy the book (www.slotbackrhapsody.com). And listen to the Fantasy Underground podcast. Thank you very much for your enthusiasm...it's amazing that I get to do this job for a living, and it's because of you. So thank you again.