Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

July 21, 12:16 PM ET
Fantasy Football w/Christopher Harris

Christopher Harris
  (10:52 AM)

Hi, everyone. It's all-football today, in honor of training camps opening up soon. I'm getting started a little early, 'cuz...well...I'm a geek, and can't wait. So let's get right to your fantasy football and NFL questions....

Thankful in Florida

Thank goodness for fantasy chat! I'm picking 7th in a 12-team league. The top 5 is obvious (LT, AP, S-Jax, Wbrook, Addai. At 7, I want nothing to do with Brady (if he's there), and am content with either Portis or Lynch. I'm favoring Lynch, but I am jaded because I had Portis at his peak a few years back and feel like he will only disappoint. Am I crazy, or overlooking anybody you like in the top 10?

Christopher Harris
  (10:55 AM)

Hiya, Thankful. If I'm choosing between Portis and Lynch, I actually think I'd take Portis. Clearly, each guy is a fantasy RB1 and has potential to be awesome; my logic Portis-wise is that he had his best pass-catching season last year, and now is headed into a Seattle-style West-Coast offense. I like Lynch a lot, and I'd also put Frank Gore in that mix. But knowing what I know right now, I'm going with Portis.

Rob: Minneapolis, MN)

I have the 7th overall pick in my 12 man league. I?ve been playing in this league for 6 years and I know how the other owners draft. I expect LT, AP Addai, Westbrook, Brady and S. Jackson to be off the board. The two players I am debating between are Barber & Moss. Who do you like in that position and why? Thanks.

Christopher Harris
  (10:57 AM)

Hi, Rob. Well, as I just mentioned, I'd prefer Portis at that spot, and I'd also take Lynch or Gore before I'd take either Barber or Moss. Listen, when we're in rarefied air like this, it's very hard to be perfect; heck, in a lot of fantasy football drafts last year, the third round performed better, on average, than the first round did. Injuries and O-line badness can wreak havoc at a moment's notice. I like Barber and Moss fine...they were both TD machines last year. But Barber is a contact magnet and I think he'll get killed if he gets more than 15 or 20 carries a game, and TDs can be fleeting. Moss is my top WR, but I think this is early for him. I have to believe that teams will do everything they can to shut Moss down, and odds are his TD performance will drop by 5 or 6.

jon (montville,nj)

WHo and when are the first TE's going to come off the board this season?

Christopher Harris
  (11:01 AM)

Hi, Jon. Well, the top TEs are the usual suspects: Gates, Whiten, Winslow, Gonzalez, etc. The second part of the question depends on whether you're asking when they *should* come off the board, or when they *will*. Gates will get drafted in the fourth or fifth round, unless we get more concrete news about his toe, but I think given the risk that he actually might not be full strength in Week 1, that's too high for him. The best couple tight ends (Gates and Whiten) deserve to go in the fifth or sixth round, with guys like Gonzo and Winslow soon thereafter. But after those four guys (and I guess maybe Dallas Clark, though Clark was very TD-dependent last year), I'd wait a good long while, and beef up at other positions.

Dan (CT)

Please tell me Jonathan Stewart won't be this year's DeAngelo Williams. Where do you rank him among RBs?

Christopher Harris
  (11:03 AM)

Hi, Dan. Well, looking at their respective bodies, I don't *think* we're looking at a DeAngelo-style bust in Stewart. Unfortunately, it's hard to definitively say that Stewart will be a 20-plus-carry guy. I think the Panthers still like Williams as a home-run threat (which Stewart really isn't), but there shouldn't be any question about who gets the ball in close. I think Stewart's a top-30 RB with upside beyond that, but Williams will be a cannibal.

T (DC)

Who is the first Giant drafted and in what round? What sort of numbers are you predicting for Shockey?

Christopher Harris
  (11:06 AM)

Hi, T. Good question. I think Plaxico Burress is the first guy from the G-Men to go; I have him 10th among WRs, which should put him around the beginning of the fourth round? As for Shockey, hoo, it's just so hard to predict right now. I have a sense that this marriage may be beyond salvage, and that the Saints still may come marching in with an offer for Shockey. If he goes to New Orleans and is happy (well, happy for him), he can go back to being a top-five fantasy threat. But if enmity is going to linger and catches are potentially going to get taken away by Kevin Boss, I think Shockey will struggle to get in the top 10 at his position.

Kev (NYC)

Buzz how much does each of the following hurt the incumbent RB...McFadden on Fargas, Dunn on Graham???

Christopher Harris
  (11:08 AM)

Hi, Kev. McFadden crushes Fargas's value, at least from what we see right now. I don't think McFadden busts right in and is a 300-carry guy as a rookie, but it's not exaggerating to say that he's got nearly as much physical ability as Adrian Peterson (without the O-line). McFadden has more Draft Day value than Fargas right now, IMO. And Warrick Dunn definitely sucks some of the life out of Earnest Graham, but Graham is still the guy who can get it done from in close, so I'd expect him to get in that 7 to 9 TD range again, even if his overall carries are down.

jay, monroe michigan

any updates on shaun alexander? its crazy how a guy could go from 1st round pic to fantasy exile..

Christopher Harris
  (11:09 AM)

Hi, Jay. Well, if it's any consolation to us fantasy geeks, Alexander has also completely fallen out of favor with NFL types, too. I wrote about it all last year: Alexander left a lot on the field the past few years, and in '07 ran like a guy who didn't want to get hit. He'll land somewhere in training camp, and be worth a look fantasy-wise, on the chance that he gets goal-line work. But it's mighty hard to justify taking him in the first, say, 10 rounds right now.

Andrew (NY)

How do you feel about Larry Johnson as a first round pick in a 12 team league? What do you think we can expect from Ryan Grant and Ronnie Brown?

Christopher Harris
  (11:12 AM)

Hi, Andrew. You know, I was so high on LJ last year...I tried to ignore the looming black clouds, and got burned by a bad O-line in KC. I don't have Johnson as a first-rounder this year, because I don't think the Chiefs have done all that much to fix the O-line, and teams aren't going to fear Brodie Croyle. Eight men in the box on most plays means LJ could have it tough. Grant and Brown, for me, are also both second-rounders. (I like Grant more.) Of course, they've got the caveat that all RB1s have: there's so much variability because of injuries and line issues. I like Grant's job security a lot; all this Ricky Williams talk in Miami makes me think Brown might be a 75-percent guy.

Joey (Minneapolis)

Do you risk taking Adrian Peterson at # 2 when hes up against 8 or 9 men in the box and the Vikings D will score alot of the points?

Christopher Harris
  (11:13 AM)

Hi, Joey. Well, yeah, I think I do. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has the home-run potential of Adrian Peterson, and I don't think he'll be running against any *more* eight-man fronts than he did last year. If you're drafting him, do your best to get a steadier (if unspectacular) guy to go along with him, someone to take the rough edges off a couple bad games. But I don't view Peterson as injury-prone, and I think he'll have a really big year.

Jerry Martinsburg, WV

First - I agree on Portis being around 7th pick. What would your strategy be in spots 10/11/12. Do you grab Moss or Wayne and get your running back on the way back or do you select the running back and take your chances on getting someone like TO instead. To me getting someone like Wayne or Moss would be better than getting a lower tier running back like Maroney. Am I thinking all wrong on the WR there? Thanks for answering(if you do).

Christopher Harris
  (11:16 AM)

Hi, Jerry. If Portis is 7, maybe Gore is 8, Lynch is 9. (These are obviously not set in stone...great players, for me no clear dominant guy in that group.) The next group, for me, would include Marion Barber, Randy Moss and maybe a Willis McGahee, Peyton Manning or T.O. I wouldn't have Maroney that high; I know he's on a great offense, but he was actually kind of awful at times last year, and I'm not sure the Pats are completely sold on him as a full-time guy (remember that Sammy Morris should be back). If you're in that wraparound part of the draft, I'd want to be sure to get an RB with one of my picks, but I like a WR very much with the other.

bradon jacobs (jersey)

yo harris, if you dont remind the public that i will be off the board before my boy plaxico, then i might run you over like i did to charles woodson in the playoffs last year. im a second rounder right?

Christopher Harris
  (11:18 AM)

It's a good point...Jacobs is probably pretty close to Plax. I love the guy when he's on the field. But...... The Giants have an awful lot of options in that backfield, and while they'd prefer Jacobs take the job and, ahem, run with it, I don't think they're at all afraid to give it to guys like Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward. That's why I have Jacobs a little lower than a lot of folks do, which is probably why I won't own him in many leagues, beacuse you're right, a lot of people like Jacobs as a second-rounder.

Jon: Chicago

I understand this goes against the norm in FF, but how do you feel about drafting 3 WR?s in the first three rounds? My league starts three WR?s and there seems to be awful lot of RB value after the 4th round. Thanks.

Christopher Harris
  (11:23 AM)

Hi, Jon. I love strategy questions like this. I wrote all of the "positional preview" articles for the fantasy football draft kit, and I talk about positional strategies at length in those pieces. My overall point tended to be that after last year, we may be headed back to a world where the elite passers are fantasy's best bets, and the receivers could be challenging the rushers. So I don't hate what you're proposing. However, for a plan like this to work, you've got to have more people in your league also want to get WRs early. The problem with inflexibly entering a draft and saying, "Dangit, I'm taking three WRs in a row, no matter what," is that if everyone else takes three RBs in a row, you'll be left with me in your starting fantasy backfield (and I suck). Myself, I'd rather get at least one RB1 in that group. The fact is that after the top, say, 10 WRs (even maybe the top 20), there tends to be a lot of parity among WRs. Is there a huge difference between, say, Roy Williams and Santana Moss? I don't think so, but I think you'd get Moss quite a bit later than Williams in a lot of drafts. My tendency at the top of a draft is to try and stick to my overall list, heedless of position. "Best available," as it were.

Chad (C)

Chris, good morning. How many games do you feel B. Marshall will be suspended? Also who makes the better #3 WR, Driver, Stallworth, Mason, Porter, or Reggie Brown (Marshall and Burress #1 and 2). Thanks.

Christopher Harris
  (11:25 AM)

Hi, Chad. Well, right now there's no suspension. The Broncos aren't going to suspend him, and the league is looking into his rap sheet. If I'm guessing, I'll say he misses one game, tops, unless something else comes up or he's convicted of something in the next couple months. Jerry Porter is someone to say away from, in my mind: he had surgery on his hammy, and looks like a guy who'll be hobbled all through camp. The other guys, I like in this order: Driver, Stallworth, Brown, Mason.

Kid (Philly, PA)

My keeper league went ahead and changed up all the rules for our league this year, and now QB scoring is obscenely overweighted - - and I am the team without a legit QB. Outside of Brady/Manning/Romo/Palmer grouping, who is the guy to set my targets on?

Christopher Harris
  (11:26 AM)

Hi, Kid. Not knowing your specific rules, I think you have to say Brees...it's such a pass-oriented offense, and he's got some legit targets. Roethisberger, too...while the Steelers will probably always try to do it with the run, Big Ben has one of the highest Y/A numbers in NFL history, meaning big plays should come.

Jamaal (Mt Laurel, NJ )

What kind of value does Ben Utecht have in a PPR league? Is he a sleeper?

Christopher Harris
  (11:27 AM)

Hi, Jamaal. Sure, he's a sleeper. I wouldn't rank him in the top 10 just yet...the Bengals haven't had a very fantasy-relevant TE in the Carson Palmer administration. But Utecht has one of the best pairs of hands in the NFL for a tight end. I have him 17th at his position.

BOB(NY)

KEEPER? Lose the pick of your keeper. Burner Turner 8th round, B. Jacobs 4th rd, Wayne 3rd, or Selvin Young 7th round? Ty

Christopher Harris
  (11:29 AM)

Hi, Bob. Some good value there. While I think Turner is the best overall value, since you're getting a team's top RB with an 8th round pick, I might just go ahead and play it safe with Reggie Wayne, who certainly belongs in the 2nd round. Those two would be my finalists (the other guys are good, too, but don't strike me as quite the same kind of value). Could Turner wind up a fantasy stud this year? It's possible, but boy, I still think that O-line leaves a lot to be desired. Wayne is such a proven performer, and that offense is going to look for him so often.

Joe (Philly)

What are your thoughts on Steve Smith (CAR) for the coming season?

Christopher Harris
  (11:30 AM)

Hi, Joe. My thoughts are that he's mighty glad to see Jake Delhomme back. Clearly, the two were working on a pretty special season before the Snake got hurt last year, and Smith was never the same. Without a doubt, the team got tired of not having legit threats opposite Smith, which explains D.J. Hackett and Muhsin Muhammad coming to Carolina. Smith deserves to be in the top 10 on any fantasy WR list, but I'm not ready to put him in my top five yet, just because he's been a pretty big letdown the last couple years.

Michael (Grand Rapids)

Chris, doing my first auction this year and loved your article last month. What do you think of the strategy of going big early and grabbing LT and Peterson, SJax, or Addai?

Christopher Harris
  (11:33 AM)

Hi, Michael. Thanks. Yeah, auctions for football are a lot of fun, and tend to take out some of the randomness of where you pick in a draft, and allow everyone to be on a level playing field. The "Studs 'N Scrubs" style of auctions is definitely one way to go. I tend not to like that strategy, though, and I'll tell you why: yes, for sure, the guys at the very top of the fantasy football list wind up giving you disproportionately more points. But figuring out who those guys will *be*? That's tough. Sure, at the moment, it looks like Tomlinson and Peterson are clearly the guys to own. But last year, it looked like Larry Johnson, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore and Willie Parker were sure things. Oops. The best two receivers on the board before the season started last year were supposed to be Steve Smith and Marvin Harrison. Oops. Marc Bulger was the No. 3 QB. My thing is that I'd rather get *some* studs, for good value, and then try and buy some extra lottery tickets later on in my auction.

Admiral A (East Coast)

Is TJones' value hurt by the possibility of Musa Smith and Jesse Chatman vulturing goal-line carries? Not to mention Leon Washington stealing some carries?

Christopher Harris
  (11:37 AM)

Hi, Admiral A. Yeah, I mean, it's a worry. Certainly Jones didn't cover himself in glory last year. But honestly, he was never a guy who was terrible in short-yardage situations in the past, so I think part of what ailed the Jets running game was losing Pete Kendall at guard so late in camp, and then never really adequately replacing him. A good way to think about an upcoming fantasy season is take a look at which O-lines have the most chance for improvement, and considering Alan Faneca is in the Apple, the Jets should have a much better O-line. I think Jones will wind up being a very good value as an RB2 this year.

Max (Miami)

Why has Willie Parker's value dropped? Is Mendenhall going to take away a lot of Parker's carries?

Christopher Harris
  (11:38 AM)

Hi, Max. Yeah, Parker's value really has dropped, and even Fast Willie seems to be reconciled to the idea that he won't be a traditional "full-time" back anymore. Mendenhall seems better-suited to be the goal line guy, for sure, and Parker may not be in on passing downs all that much, either. He'll have value, but he's nowhere near the borderline top-five guy he was before the '07 season started.

Greg (Canada)

Has there ever been a great era of rbbc than now-boy does it suck! LOL

Christopher Harris
  (11:40 AM)

Great point, Greg. I wrote about that in my RB positional preview in the Fantasy Football Draft Kit (online now!). There's no question...probably half, if not more, of NFL teams are employing some type of rotation where there's no absolute stud RB1 type. In some ways, that makes it very important to make sure you get one of the studs. But in another way, it also takes the pressure off...you don't *have* to go RB-RB to start your draft anymore...provided you take several RBs in rounds, say, 4 through 8...guys who look like "committee" backs right now, but who could suddenly morph into stars with some good fortune once the season starts.

Dan (CT)

Thanks for taking my question. Who are some WR sleepers this year for the later rounds? Brandon Marshall alone almost made up for my terrible draft last year.

Christopher Harris
  (11:43 AM)

Hi, Dan. It's always a great idea to take RB and WR lottery tickets, like Marshall was last year. Anthony Gonzalez might be a little too "known" to qualify for the level of sleeper you're looking for, but I like him this year. Bobby Engram isn't happy about his contract, but he should be in camp and I don't think he gets near enough respect (he's a WR1 in Seattle). Sidney Rice has a chance to be a breakout player in Minny. Bryant Johnson might benefit from some Mike Martz magic in San Fran. I'm looking for much better things from Robert Meachem in New Orleans. And going very deep, maybe Jason Hill also works his way up the depth chart in San Francisco...if he can stay healthy.

Jamal (The Bridge)

Hey Chris, is Selvin Young going to be a culprit of the ever so common Broncos starting RB kiss of death, or will he be a solid #2 RB or flex option. Thanks.

Christopher Harris
  (11:45 AM)

Hi, Jamal. Darn good question. I have to say: you can go to the poor house trying to predict what the heck Mike Shanahan will do (we say it every year). There aren't any other proven backs on the Broncos roster, but that hasn't stopped Shanny in the past. Yeah, I think as a flex (especially in a PPR), Selvin is a very nice player. But I'm not going to trust that he's the short-yardage or goal-line guy...I think a rookie named Ryan Torain could wind up being that bull who punches in maybe up to five scores this year. That's going out on a pretty narrow limb, but I have to admit: during mock drafts this summer, I've taken Torain a lot, just knowing Shanny's history.

Adam. STL

CH, maybe I am in the minority but i am taking MB III over Westbrook and Addia, the guy scores every 14.5 times he touches the ball, he's gonna get 20+ touches a game and Felix will spell him with 10-12 a game, plays in a great O as well, thoughts? not a keeper league FYI

Christopher Harris
  (11:47 AM)

Hi, Adam. Hey, based on last year's performance, how can I slam you for that logic? Barber is a pinball, and has an incredible nose for the goal line. I do wonder if the Cowboys really believe Barber can stand up to 20-plus carries per game. They've never done it before, and by the end, they knew just as well as you did that Julius Jones was dreadful. Barber is an inside rusher with the stature of a third-down back...he's tough as nails, but there's a reason the team took Felix Jones. For me, I have enough concern about Barber not getting a full accompaniment's worth of carries that I have him down at the end of the fantasy first round this year. But I absolutely hear what you're saying, and I can't say I'd be shocked if you were dead-on right.

Erik (ATL)

Chris, why does AP get a flier on his "injury" history when guys like Westbrook and Jackson are clearly more reliable over their respective careers? Are people simply deeming Peterson the #2 or dare I even THINK the #1 pick in the draft because of his ceiling potential? That's crazy! I know the guys is good, but he didn't get his owners too many points when he was hurt. AP is the running back version of Steve Smith. He'll get you great numbers when he's hot. But when he's cold, forget about it!

Christopher Harris
  (11:51 AM)

Hi, Erik. An interesting topic. I actually think you're bringing up two separate points. The first is about AP's injury history. I don't think he qualifies as "injury-prone," not yet. The knee issue he had last year was a freak thing and he had no previous history in that regard; his big college trouble was a broken collarbone. Heck, Brian Westbrook has a *far* more storied and varied injury history at this point (and is also in an "injury-riskier" body). And if we're going to nail AP to the wall for his injury troubles last year, it's not fair to give Jackson a free pass, either. Now, your second point, to me, has more validity...if he's going to be the ultimate Mr. Feast Or Famine again, he doesn't deserve to be the No. 2 pick. I just happen to think his down times won't be as down as they were last year. Good O-line. Potentially great defensive front seven to give him some bunny TDs. And remember: the Vikings didn't trust Peterson to get the nod over Chester Taylor in the first month of last season. Listen, at some point it's simply a matter of opinion, and yours is well-reasoned. I just am willing to give Peterson a shot over those other two guys, but it's not at all a no-brainer.

Chad (dc)

What kind of value does Rudi and L. White have this upcoming year?

Christopher Harris
  (11:54 AM)

Hi, Chad. I like LenDale White more than I do Rudi Johnson, and in fact, I think it's rather a nice comparison. Neither guy is a blazer by any stretch, but both have made their living between the tackles and getting tough yards, including getting in the end zone. (White is obviously a bigger dude, but still, the comparison is apt.) Rudi was simply such a consistent guy before last year, and you can't get on him for having a bad leg in '07. But we've seen it time and again: really good, consistent fantasy back has a down year, everyone apologizes for him and gives him a free pass, expecting him to come back strong again. And it doesn't happen. I'm not saying I'm positive Rudi is done, but he's 29 in October, which is getting mighty close to closing time. I think White is somewhere around No. 25 among RBs this year, while Rudi is more like No. 30-ish.

Ben (Tempe, AZ)

How does the value of green bay players change if Favre returns to the pack?

Christopher Harris
  (11:56 AM)

Great question, Ben. I think you'd have to say it would help, right? I mean, I'm not entirely sold that Favre would be able to duplicate his '07 seasons, especially with animosity potentially lingering. But he's familiar with the receivers, obviously, and has shown a willingness to fling it even when flinging it isn't necessarily the smartest move. That tends to be good for receivers. That said, I don't think it's going to happen, and I think Aaron Rodgers will probably be pretty good. Not top-15 good, but pretty good.

Ryan (Norman, OK)

Better to start Forte or Chester Taylor in a 3 RB league?

Christopher Harris
  (11:56 AM)

Hi, Ryan. Boy, at this point, I think I have to say Forte still, even with Kevin Jones signing with the Bears. Taylor is a PPR special, for sure, because I think he'll still get lots of third-down action, but Forte is still shaping up as a starter.

Ryan (PA)

What happened to Cadilac?

Christopher Harris
  (11:57 AM)

He tore his patellar tendon last year, and isn't healed yet. Tampa newspapers are speculating that he's going to start this year on the PUP list.

Paul (Baltimore)

Better to start LenDale or T Jones as #3 back?

Christopher Harris
  (11:57 AM)

Hi, Paul. Really interesting comparison. I'm going Jones on that one, but only barely. Again, I expect that Jets O-line to be quite a bit better this year.

Rob (RI)

With the addition of Walker will Jamarcus Russell have any value this year?

Christopher Harris
  (11:58 AM)

Hi, Rob. I was down on Javon Walker even before he got attacked in Las Vegas; I just don't think he's worth the money (and cap space) the Raiders spent on him. Russell will probably have some very nice games, but he's not really a scrambler, so he doesn't have much rush-TD potential. I think by and large he'll struggle. As a late-round flyer, though, I don't hate him.

Noah ((Nebraska))

Chad Johnson? Where do you rank my boy now in fantasy production? Does he use this year to "prove" people wrong...or right?

Christopher Harris
  (12:00 PM)

Hi, Noah. Yeah, 7-11 should be an interesting case this year. Think he's watching Jason Taylor go to the Redskins and thinking, "Why can't that be me!?!" Now that we know Johnson will be back in Cincy, the question is: will he be happy. He's an excellent fantasy receiver, but as always the possession presence of T.J. Houshmandzadeh limits his TD upside. Both guys deserve to be linger right around the top 10 among WRs, though.

Jimmy (North Conway NH)

With Sammy Morris back where would you rank Maroney compared to other RB's?

Christopher Harris
  (12:02 PM)

Hi, Jimmy, I mentioned earlier that I think the Pats are nearing the end of their tether when it comes to Maroney, and like you say, Morris should be back. Heck, Morris might just have been the more valuable fantasy player before he got hurt in Dallas last year. I have Maroney ranked in the 20 to 22 range among RBs right now...that's really low, I know, considering the offense he plays on, and there's definitely a case to be made that opposing defenses are going to key so hard against the pass that the Pats will cross up defenses and go running like crazy. I wouldn't be shocked to see it happen. But so far, Maroney just hasn't lived up to his potential, and really wasn't good at all on an explosive offensive squad last year. All right, guys, I started 10 minutes early because I knew I'd need to leave roughly on time, so let's do one more.....

Mike (Detroit)

With all the Forte talk what about the Lions probable stater Kevin Smith???

Christopher Harris
  (12:04 PM)

Hi, Mike. Absolutely. I really like Kevin Smith's potential to hit the ground, er, running, as it were. He's joining Jim Colletto's new offense, which is a carbon copy of the offense he ran during his junior year (and led the nation in rushing). You have to be a bit concerned that he also had about 3 billion carries in college, so hopefully wear and tear won't become an early issue. But I really like Kevin Smith as a very nice high-upside third-rounder this year.

Christopher Harris
  (12:05 PM)

All right, everyone. Thanks for the football fun today. I saw from your posts that some of you were very annoyed with me for not talking baseball, but fear not: Brendan Roberts will be here at 3 p.m. to do a baseball chat. Don't hate the messenger...I chat about what they ask me to chat about, and today it was football. Perhaps we'll mix it up some next week again. Anyway, thank you again for coming, and even those of you who spewed vitriol in your questions, I thank you.... Heck if you're not getting any kind of reaction, that means you're boring people, right? Anyway, peace, and see you next week.