Fantasy Football w/Christopher Harris
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Christopher Harris (2:53 PM)
Hi, everyone. I'll have to buzz out of here early (at around 3:50) to partake in an ESPN Experts' mock draft at 4 (ET), so I figured I'd start a little early to make up for it. So let's get to as many fantasy football questions as we can in an hour....
Hey Chris if you had the choose between Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson at RB who would you take?
Christopher Harris (2:54 PM)
Hi, Nick. I'm in the minority at ESPN, but I have Peterson ranked higher. In our fantasy football Draft Kit, which will be out before the end of the month, I'm going to have a big feature article about why.
What kind of fantasy season do you see from Vince Young?
Christopher Harris (2:56 PM)
Hi, Jack. Is "feh" an adjective? Clearly VY is a candidate to lead quarterbacks in rushing yards, and that means he's also a candidate to post a few rushing scores. But despite the Titans' good performance in the second half of last season, accuracy is still a big problem with Vince, and Tennessee is going to be a run-first team. Add his potential legal troubles from this weekend, and I don't like Young much this year.
Greg (Washington, DC)
Who's a better value in the 10th round of a 12 team keeper league: Brent Celek or Mike Wallace?
Christopher Harris (2:58 PM)
Personally, I think Celek is maybe being a little overvalued this year. I have him as my No. 7 tight end, whereas I believe as a group at ESPN, we're rating him at No. 4. He had a really good season last year, but there are question marks with Kolb under center, and with Cornelius Ingram potentially healthy and stealing some looks. That said, Wallace has to deal with the absence of Big Ben. Probably I keep Wallace. But I'm betting I'm in the minority.
Jeremy (Bakersfield, CA)
Am I crazy thinking Thomas Jones is going to take over the RB duties in KC? Jammal Charles had a few good weeks against bad defenses last year and everyone thinks he's the best starter. Thomas Jones has been in the top 5 in both of the last two years for rushing yards and rushing TDs, why would they sit him for Charles? I know Jones is older and a lot of his success came from the Jets O-line, but he is the better RB in my opinion and I'm having a hard time seeing him play backup to Charles.
Christopher Harris (2:59 PM)
Hi, Jeremy. You're not crazy, but I don't agree. I'm a believer when it comes to Charles. It wasn't a matter of a few good weeks -- he was fantasy's second-best running back over the second half of the season. If you like Chris Johnson, you should like Jamaal Charles, because they're awfully similar in terms of home-run threat. That said, I've drafted Charles a bunch in mocks so far this summer, and I always make sure to get TJ, too. Charles is a little guy. He could get hurt. And while I do think TJ's a candidate to fall off a cliff (and you'll find some folks who say he *did* fall off a cliff toward the end of '09), I think that's overstated. I expect to see a 70-30 split in favor of Charles.
Bryan (The Great Northwest)
Last year I picked up Ray Rice after our draft once I heard he had won the starting job... everybody knows how that turned out! Over 2,000 yards and a handful of TDs. The year before I got Turner very late in the draft. Who would you say is this year's rags-to-fantasy-riches candidates? I have my eye on Justin Forsett - I feel like he's much more talented, tough, and versatile than anyone will give him credit for. What do you think?
Christopher Harris (3:01 PM)
Hi, Bryan. I think Forsett is undervalued. But he's also undersized -- realize that he's nothing like Turner or Rice in terms of body type. He's a small, quick guy who's probably ideally suited to be a third-down back. I think Marshawn Lynch still makes a ton of sense for the Seahawks, but of the guys on that roster at this moment, yes, I think Forsett is the best bet. But I don't think he's a candidate for 2,000 yards. Or, um, 1,000 yards.
Is Calvin Johnson worth keeping over Reggie Wayne?
Christopher Harris (3:02 PM)
Hi, Troy. I have Wayne ranked a few spots higher because I consider him safer. Johnson has the upside to dominate and be the best receiving in football, but the Colts throw so much, and Wayne is so reliable, especially in the red zone. I think if you played this season 100 times, Wayne would beat Johnson in fantasy scoring in a majority of them.
Good afternoon...Quick question In a ten man keeper league you get to keep MJD & either Payton Manning or SGreene? Who and Why?
Christopher Harris (3:04 PM)
Hi, Richard. I literally have Manning and Greene back-to-back in my most recent one-man mock draft. I don't think there's a definitive answer. In a 10-team league, you'd expect that quarterbacks should be plentiful, and even if you don't get a top guy like Manning, you'll get someone good. But he's *so* reliable, and Greene hasn't yet proven he can stay healthy. I think I do have Greene one spot higher. So he's my choice, by the slimmest of margins.
Ursini128 (Alameda )
12 Team PPR leagues are not only the future of Fantasy Football, but it is the NOW (and for us, the past). It's seem that ESPN is bent on basing 90-100% of their news, advice, rankings, mocks, etc. on 10 Team Standard Leagues. Why is it that ESPN continues to handcuff themselves to this boring, played-out style of play? I just bought the latest Fantasy Football magazine and no mater what data or evidence ESPN follows, your efforts are targeting the wrong crowd. The die-hard, ultra-competitive community has moved on and we beg that your team follows.
Christopher Harris (3:06 PM)
Hi, Ursinil. Well, I hear what you're saying, but I don't agree with your statement that "no matter what data or evidence ESPN follows," we're targeting the wrong crowd. The truth of the matter is that the vast vast vast *vast* majority of fantasy football leagues are 10 teams and don't use PPR. I know it doesn't feel that way, especially when you're an experienced player. I don't play in very many such leagues myself, it's true. But the truth is that you and I aren't representative of the vast vast vast *vast* majority of eyeballs that read ESPN.com and watch ESPN TV. Sometimes I agree that it's a bummer -- I like deeper leagues where I'm able to unearth valuable guys who aren't superstars. But it's the deck we're dealt. I understand that the mag underserved PPR, and I'm sorry about that. Personally, I only have so many hours in a given day, if you know what I mean.....
keeper question. Our league awards 6pts for a TD pass and 1pt for every 25 yds passing. Should I keep Aaron Rodgers or Chris Johnson??
Christopher Harris (3:09 PM)
Hi, Mike. Super-QB-heavy leagues are interesting. In a way, QBs become all the *more* commodified, because you can always get a super-high scorer later on. This is why, for me, Value-Based Drafting is a really interesting and useful tool. You can get a flavor of VBD by going to ProFootballReference.com and looking at the "Fantasy" leaders of a given season. It seeks to normalize fantasy ranks between positions by comparing each player to the "baseline" player at his position. (Who the "baseline" player is actually can be a source of much contention.) By that measure, Johnson was better than Rodgers last year by a good margin. But I'm sure in absolute terms, with your scoring system, Rodgers scored more points last year. I'll have a column on VBD on ESPN.com this summer, too. (And there's a short one in the mag.)
ESPN has Charles ranked in the mid-30s right now... what's the earliest you personally would take him in a standard 10-teamer? Would you take him with your 3rd pick if you say, had the 1st overall, and then the 20/21 set?
Christopher Harris (3:10 PM)
Hi, Matt. In my one-man mock of May 18th (which is the most recent one I've done, because I've been doing a bunch of TV and also cramming for the Draft Kit), I had Charles go 16th overall. I don't think that's too high. I mean, I know I'm high on him. I know I might get burned, especially because (a) KC's o-line ain't elite; (b) Thomas Jones may steal some TDs; (c) Charles is a little guy and could get crunched. But I think he's a high-upside guy worth taking a chance on.
Help me settle a little discussion in my league. Most of my league mates want to add IDPs to the league but also keep team defense as well. I think that's ludicrous. Help them see the light of day.
Christopher Harris (3:11 PM)
Hi, Andrew. I mean, I haven't played in a league like that, and I can see why it would be a bit...conflicted. On the one hand, you're rooting for the Packers D, but on the other hand you're playing *against* Clay Matthews. That does seem a bit silly. But by the same token, once you create a rule like that, well, I guess you adapt. I like IDP a lot. And yeah, in general, if you play IDP, I don't think you really need to play team defenses.
Fernando (Miami, Florida)
What do you think of Pierre Thomas this year, will he finally get the number of touches someone with his talent deserves?
Christopher Harris (3:12 PM)
Hi, Fernando. To be honest: no. I think the Saints like the way they used him last year, and saw him get dinged-up even with that usage pattern. I think they're going to audition short-yardage guys to replace Mike Bell (Lynell Hamilton should get first crack), and Reggie Bush is going to play a lot for however long he's healthy. I think Thomas's season last year is probably a pretty decent model for this year, which I agree is a bit frustrating, because he's a talented dude.
What are your thoughts on Marion Barber for 2010? I know that Felix is all the rage, with his "explosiveness" and Jerry Jones calling Barber's heart into question, but Felix seems destined to be the Donte Stallworth of RBs - elite athleticism, but never healthy long enough to use it.
Christopher Harris (3:14 PM)
Hi, Matt. It's not a terrible comparison, though Jones did pretty much make it through last season mostly healthy (Barber was the one who actually battled a leg injury through most of the season). I do have Jones rated higher than Barber, but I don't think Barber is without value. Even in a "worst-case" scenario for his playing time, where he goes back to more of a "closer" role like he had behind Julius Jones -- well, that was a pretty successful formula for him. He's just such a battering ram...it may be that 15 to 20 carries per game is too much for him. But maybe that decreased usage actually increases his touchdowns again.
Fernando (Miami, Florida)
Do you feel Jay Cutler will be a No. 1 fantasy QB in 2010 with Mike Martz as offensive coordinator? What do you think his numbers will be more or less?
Christopher Harris (3:15 PM)
I don't have Cutler that high, but I do have him at No. 12 or 13 among quarterbacks. Listen, Mike Martz makes fantasy QBs more valuable, and Cutler can't have the same terrible interception issues he had last year. (Can he?) My worry for him is that offensive line. I don't think it's any better this year.
in a PPR league, would you want Andre Johnson/Jamaal Charles, or Calvin Johnson/Mendenhall??
Christopher Harris (3:16 PM)
Hi, Anthony. I think I go AJ/Charles. I don't think Mendenhall catches that many passes this year, and Charles has the potential to be the main pass catcher out of the backfield in KC. And AJ would seem a better bet to stay healthy than CJ, though of course you never know for sure.
Which rb would you rather have this year and for the future....MJD or Ray Rice? Thanks
Christopher Harris (3:17 PM)
Hi, Ben. I have MJD rated No. 3 on my board and Rice rated No. 4 -- so really, it's kind of up to your personal preference. I don't think either guy is far enough along in his career that I worry about injury (other than the regular worries about RB injuries), and each is a great pass catcher. Between the two, I think MJD probably has a clearer path to the end zone, because Willis McGahee is still in Baltimore.
What are your thoughts on Michael Bush in 2010? Oakland is about the most desolate fantasy landscape there is, but Bush was discussed as an elite back, and possible #1 overall pick in college before breaking his leg. He did average 4.8 YPC in 2009, and DMC hasn't shown the ability to a) stay healthy or b) run after contact.
Christopher Harris (3:19 PM)
Hi, Matt. You kind of answered your own question, and I agree with all of it. If the Raiders are running a meritocracy, I think Bush will see an awful lot of inside carries, including on the goal line. Run-DMC has shown he can catch the ball and make plays in space, but he really hasn't shown much of the tackle-breaking ability we all thought he had in abundance at Arkansas. I still have McFadden slightly ahead of Bush, but I think it's a split job.
Bud Selig (NY, NY)
Sidney Rice or DeSean Jackson in a PPR Dynasty league?
Christopher Harris (3:20 PM)
Both guys are young, so I'm not really going to worry about the "dynasty" aspect of this question. PPR-wise, I have to say I probably think Rice wins, because Jackson doesn't catch all that many passes. (Of course, the ones he *does* catch tend to be insanely long.)
Matt Felton (Amherst MA)
In a keeper league with standard scoring, would you keep Calvin Johnson, Vincent Jackson, or Tony Romo? I'm leaning towards Megatron so far.
Christopher Harris (3:21 PM)
Hi, Matt. Yes, I have Megatron the highest of that trio right now. Vincent Jackson is starting to look *scary*. He's holding out, and the stories in the San Diego newspapers maintain he's thinking of missing a good chunk of the regular season by way of protesting about his contract. We'll have to see if that really happens, but given that he also might be facing a DUI suspension, I'm passing on him if I've got Megatron as a choice.
Chris...in your opinion, what is the likelyhood that Chris Johnson holds out into the regular season?
Christopher Harris (3:22 PM)
Hi, Steve. I don't think it's all that likely. Frankly, given the possibility of a lockout in 2011, I think any young player who holds out is really being foolish. I know I sound like a management toadie when I say that, but really, make your money now, dude, all that you can. These teams aren't going to break down and pay you more given the possible revenue problems immediately down the road.
who at ESPN is in the staff rankings group. Are You? Are Karabell and Berry?
Christopher Harris (3:23 PM)
Hi, Arnold. Yes, we're all in the group ranks, as are several other ESPN folks, including the fantasy editors. Once the season starts and we do weekly ranks, it'll be myself, Berry, Karabell and one other person, whose identity is, I believe, still to be determined.
Football!! Talk to me about Houston's RB situation. Tate, Slaton, Foster ... who do you predict, if any of them, breaks camp as the starter?
Christopher Harris (3:25 PM)
Hi, Jon. I wonder if the Texans will even really have a "starter" per se. This situation seems tailor-made for some kind of sharing arrangement. Tate had hammy problems throughout minicamp and may have fallen behind a bit, but he'll have time to catch up. Slaton reportedly looks good out of pads, but I'm scared silly of what might happen to his neck once he starts taking hits. And Foster is probably the least dynamic, talent-wise, of the three of them. At the moment, I think I still have Tate rated highest, followed by Slaton and then Foster. But I've also been listing Foster on my list of deeper sleepers all over the place. He could be a good guy to take as a late-round gambit.
Keeper Question, went a little Rookie RB happy last year. Moreno in the 6th, Wells in the 8th or McCoy in the 10th? Thanks
Christopher Harris (3:26 PM)
Hi, Brian. Personally, I actually have Wells rated higher than the other two. I have a feeling about how he came on at the end of last year. I think he's my choice, though I also believe I have those three players ranked within four RB ranks of one another.
Chris, Greg Jennings had a "down" year last year because he only had 4 TDs even though he had 1000+ yards. Do you see a much better year for him as Rodgers continues to improve and put up massive numbers or are there too many targets with Driver, Finley, Jones and Grant around?
Christopher Harris (3:28 PM)
Hi, Al. No, I do think Jennings is a bounceback candidate. He had drop troubles at times last year, but mostly I thought his early-season struggles came down to the Packers sending him on longer routes, while Rodgers was getting big-time pressure because of his o-line. Once they adjusted that and had him run shorter stuff, he started to shine again. He might not be an automatic double-digit TD guy, but I think he's likely to double last year's output.
Joe (Catskill Region, NY)
How comfortable would you be with J. Stewart as your RB2, as opposed to other backs that might be available with the 33rd selection in a 12-team standard league draft? Thanks.
Christopher Harris (3:30 PM)
Hi, Joe. I think Stewart belongs in the top 24 RBs, so I think he's a No. 2 in a 12-team league. I have him around No. 16 or 17 on my RB list. Do I feel "comfortable" with it? Well, not really, I mean, he's not really even the starter on his own team. But these days RB committees are such that beggars can't be choosers. Everyone at that level has a wart on him. I would keep an eye on his return from surgery, however; apparently he did a bit of running today, but make sure he's healthy (insofar as you can) before you count on him at that level.
Hey Chris, last year I really believed in Matt Schaub and waited for him in my draft to get better players. Any QBs that you can see getting in the 5-7 rds this year that could end up in the top 5 QBs overall?
Christopher Harris (3:31 PM)
Hi, Nate. Sure. Lots of 'em. I'm still a believer in waiting to get your QB. Heck even if the guy you take *doesn't* wind up in the top five, he's probably going to be in the top 10, and there likely won't be all *that* much difference between No. 5 and No. 10 fantasy-scoring-wise anyway. Flacco has a decent chance of being that kind of guy, if he stays healthy. He should have more weapons. But I want to reserve final judgment on that until I see how the Ravens resolve their left tackle situation.
Hi, I am curious why everyone is so down on Ryan Grant? he's a featured back in a great offense, what gives here? Thanks.
Christopher Harris (3:33 PM)
Hi, Matt. I think "down" is a relative term. Grant isn't a particularly dynamic player. He's not really fast, not super-elusive, and he doesn't catch passes. So you're really relying on him to do one thing: bang people. And stay healthy. I think someone who has questions about Michael Turner would have the same questions about Ryan Grant, except Grant has a bit more tread off his tires. Heck in '08, Grant was the starter and played in all the games, but was a fantasy disappointment. That said, I have him as my No. 10 running back. Nothing to be ashamed of there.
what do you think the value of ray rice is now that they want to split carries with a committee
Christopher Harris (3:34 PM)
Hi, Jeff. I don't see the Ravens as having a committee at all. I think if anything, Willis McGahee will be phased out. I don't expect him to get nearly the touchdown opportunities he did last year. I'm high on Rice.
Hi, Do you trust Cedric Benson to have a repeat of last year statistically? Thanks.
Christopher Harris (3:35 PM)
Hi, Matt. I like Benson as an RB2 this year. He's another guy we can put together with Turner and Grant: he does one thing, but last year he did it pretty well. I really think the Bengals' o-line is underrated (though by the time the season starts, it'll probably be overrated!), and Cincy has moved to a run-first philosophy. Benson needs to stay healthy, but I don't see why he doesn't eclipse 1,200 yards rushing....
Mike (San Diego)
Do you miss doing baseball analysis?
Christopher Harris (3:36 PM)
Hi, Mike. I'm still doing some. I wrote a bunch for our draft kit back in February and March, and will continue to have some Monday columns here and there, especially once the football Draft Kit is done (which for me is late this week). And I also do lots of baseball stuff on TV a couple times a week. So I feel like I get my fill.
Better late round flyer QB - Leinart or Alex Smith?
Christopher Harris (3:37 PM)
Hi, Jake. I have Leinart one spot ahead of Smith in my quarterback ranks, but I actually think I'd take him *way* before I'd take Smith, simply because *if* he winds up being capable (which is still a very big if), his upside is Kurt Warner's upside, which is substantial. I fear the Alex Smith will always be Alex Smith.
Sorry CH, but I definitely disagree with ESPN's assessment of 10 team leagues too...I play in more than one league and they are all 12 team leagues, more goes into the draft both auction and pick'em and having 3 four team divisions are helpful as well. There is much more depth and a lot more planning. Get with the norm over at ESPN. Tell the bosses this is what EVERYONE likes and does.
Christopher Harris (3:38 PM)
Hi, Eric. Again, you're preaching to the choir...my primary league is a 16-teamer. But as much as it seems like you and I are the norm, the numbers overwhelmingly say that we are not. I wish it wasn't the case. Alas, it is. There are millions upon millions upon millions of people who play fantasy football, and the vast majority of them play in 10-team leagues. Weird to you and me, but true.
Every year at least 1 late round or undrafted WR finishes in the top 10. Last year there were 3 - Austin, Rice, & Steve Smith (NYG). Care to go out on a limb and make a bold call for this year?
Christopher Harris (3:41 PM)
Hi, Luke. Let's face it: it would've been essentially impossible to call *any* of those guys as a top-10 receiver last year, and I *did* call both Austin and Smith as people I wanted to draft as sleepers. (But top 10? I'd have been laughed out of Bristol.) That said, I take your meaning, and it's fun to speculate. I actually give Mike Wallace a chance (though he's not an undrafted dude). Johnny Knox? I like him, probably more than I should. Jacoby Jones. Things would really have to break right for him, but I can see it.
What is your compelling argument for not drafting Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers in the first round given their point totals in comparison to those drafted at the end of the first round?
Christopher Harris (3:42 PM)
Hi, Jason. My compelling argument is encapsulated in the concept of Value-Based Drafting. I mentioned it in an earlier answer -- see that question. And as I said, I'll be doing a feature story on VBD in July, I believe.
You have Chester Taylor ranked considerably above his current ADP. Yet, you've also labeled him as a possible bust. Even if he got the starting job, how much upside does this older back really have, running behind a shaky chicago line?
Christopher Harris (3:45 PM)
Hi, Jeff. Do I? That's entirely possible, and if it's true, it probably comes down to being asked for ranks at a different time from when I was asked for busts. Truthfully, whether or not he's a bust probably depends on where people are rating him -- I know that I did put him on my bust list for the mag as a "Category 2" player (i.e., if he's being treated as a very good fantasy option), simply because I think that Chicago o-line stinks. That said, if his ADP is a lot lower than I expected (and thus makes my actual rank of him look high), I would withdraw my labeling him as a "bust," because then expectations are much more reigned-in than I expected. Does that make sense?
Great points on Ryan Grant, thanks. If you had to pick between the two would you go with Hines Ward or Mike Wallace? It's the classic old bull vs young bull question!
Christopher Harris (3:47 PM)
Thanks, Matt. I have Ward a few slots ahead of Wallace, but I have them both on the borderline of the top 20. Clearly, that will require the offense not to miss a beat when Big Ben comes back, and I think Wallace has more upside. But many a clever wag has shoveled dirt on Ward, only to have him come back as strong as ever.
Christopher Harris (3:47 PM)
All right, gang. I'd better do just one more, because I've got to participate in a mock draft for the football Draft Kit at 4 p.m. ET.
Is Ryan Matthews a #1 pick in a keeper league, when Pierre Thomas, Joe Addai and Matt Forte are the next 3 "rated" Backs?
Christopher Harris (3:49 PM)
Hi, Jeff. If it's a "dynasty" style league where you're keeping guys for huge chunks of their careers, then there'd be absolutely no question. As it is? Yeah, probably at this point, hearing all the stories about how the Chargers are using Mathews (and the fact that Vincent Jackson is MIA), I probably do have Mathews a spot or two ahead of those other guys....
Christopher Harris (3:49 PM)
OK, everyone. Sorry not to be able to stay until 4 (but I did start early)...thanks very much for coming to this chat. Remember, you can always friend me at http://www.facebook.com/writerboy . I'll see you next week.....