Hi, everyone. Welcome to some fantasy football talk... let's get right to your questions.
Christopher: Why are people not liking Jamal Lewis this season? He has one of the best offensive lines in football, he gets almost every carry, hes great at the goal line, and he came into camp lighter and in the best shape of his career.
Hi, Corey. I like Lewis, though you're right, I don't love him. I have him No. 14 among RBs right now -- but you're right: there's a lot to like based on last year. The knee troubles from his past worry me a little, he's 29 years old, and he isn't nearly as explosive as he once was: he had only two carries of more than 30 yards last year. I guess those are the reasons I don't have him in my top 10, but I do love that o-line and won't be shocked to see Lewis wind up higher than I have him.
With Stewart's injury and DeAngelo's strong showing the other night, would you no longer feel comfortable saying Stewart is the starter and good as a flex option?
Hi, Shaun. Stewart's toe isn't really freaking me out -- I think this is exactly what the Panthers expected, and they're taking it easy on him. But yeah, the Panthers keep saying how excited they are about Williams. I'm starting to get a little less comfortable saying that Stewart is an every-down kind of guy...we may be looking at more of a platoon situation than it seemed like a month ago. My biggest pet peeve with Williams, though, is that he's a negative-yards guy: 53 of his 144 carries last year went for one yard or fewer last season. When you were talking about Barry Sanders, that wasn't so annoying. But Williams ain't Sanders. Still, in my ratings from this summer, I had Stewart No. 30 and Williams No. 33, and that's still about how I feel.
We just had our draft and although I like all three, I ended up with McFadden, Stewart, and Forte. I have other options at RB too so I won't be starting all three but do you think 3 rookies will be bad for business?
Hi, Ward. Well, I guess it depends who your other backs are, but it's an interesting question. Yeah, I have tendency to think that at least one of those three rookies will wind up being disappointing. But I don't hate the strategy, because let's face it: fantasy football is a game of studs. The only problem is, outside of a guy like LT, it's very tough to know who the studs are *before* the season. You've got three high-upside players there, and you're basically hoping to win the lottery with one of them. Provided you don't have to start all three every week, you're probably in fine shape as the season shakes out.
I have the 4th pick in the first round of a keeper league. McGahee, Jamal Lewis and Moroney will all be available but do I jump on McFadden if he is there given his long term potential?
Yeah, Frank, in a Keeper League, I think you take McFadden in that spot. Especially in light of the news that Willis McGahee is having knee surgery and will miss the rest of training camp. Run DMC would be my pick there.
Chris, are Shaub and Lienart good enough options considering I have AP and Westy in the backfield?
Hi, Ryan. I think Schaub is your starter, and he's my No. 13 QB, so I guess my answer depends on how big your league is. If you're in a 12-teamer, sure, you're fine. If you're in a 10-teamer, it might be a little lean. But you sure do have a good backfield.
Is Mendenhall going to get enough carries to be a factor this year
Hi, Josh. It depends what you mean by "factor." Mendenhall is draftable in all formats, because guys get hurt, guys are ineffective, and he's got a legit chance to inherit a pretty sweet o-line and a good rushing situation. But for the moment, Mendenhall is a No. 2 guy behind Willie Parker, with Gary Russell in the mix for goal-line touches (though that's not set in stone). As I say, I'd feel fine drafting him, but definitely not to be a starter.
Chris Johnson has looked pretty nice since training camp and isn't receiving much hype. Do you think he could end up being the primary back on the Titans roster at some point this season?
Hi, Jordan. I don't know, Peter King was all over Johnson this morning in MMQB, and I've seen a lot of puff pieces about him in Nashville newspapers, so I'm not sure I agree about the lack of hype. Johnson had an awesome run against the Rams this weekend and flashed that great speed of his -- but from what I saw of him at ECU, he's not particularly shifty, and isn't a guy you'd want taking 25 hits a game. That makes me think he's more of a co-RB than a lead dog. If LenDale White gets hurt (not at all out of the realm of possibility, considering he's been beaten up all camp long), you never know, but Chris Henry is still there and could steal touches in such an eventuality. My prediction is that Johnson will have a few big-scoring games this year that will make him a waiver-wire love, but that he'll also get shut out many weeks and wind up frustrating owners who think he's an every-week starter.
Chris, are you giving Chris Brown a look in HOU this year? Although he has his own injury history one of those RB's is going to start and have value.
Hi, Jarrett. Brown missed the Texans' first preseason game, but with Ahman Green out with a strained groin (surprise!), Brown is expected to get the start next game, if he can make it through a week of practice without getting hurt again. Brown is an ultimate fantasy tease, because when he's healthy, he can look great, and he's probably the most talented guy Houston has at RB. But I put the odds of him staying healthy at nil. Both he and Green are going to get hurt: it's a matter of when. Chris Taylor got preseason looks, Steve Slaton wasn't overwhelming but was decent in that first game. Frankly, I'm happy not owning any of them right now.
My pick, do I take RMoss, Portis or Lynch? Thanks.
Hi, John. I'd take Portis. I have him 7th among RBs and Lynch 8th. Moss is my No. 10 player overall.
andre johnson or colston? thanks
Hi, Joe. It's a close one, because AJ is scaring me in camp by not being healthy yet again. Still, everything out of Texans camp makes me think his groin issue is pretty minor, so I'm going to take him, slightly, over Colston.
I have the 6th pick this year .... should I go Steven Jackson or Tom Brady??? Thanks!
If I'm picking between those guys, Anthony, I'm still picking Jackson. He's my No. 5 overall player, mainly because I still think his holdout will end well. But it's getting scarier...
I am in a 12 team, standard scoring league. I drafted Torain as my fifth running back, but now that he is injured for 3 months I am not sure whether to drop him or stash him away. I have Portis, McGahee, Fred Taylor, and Felix Jones as my other backs, with Burress, White, Engram, and Hackett as my WR's, and Roethlisberger and Kitna for my QB's. The best choices on the waiver wire are Ray Rice (handcuff), Tatum Bell, Jason Campbell, and Reggie Brown. Any suggestions? Thanks for your time.
Hi, Zac. Yeah, Torain is a heartbreaker -- he was my top sleeper of the summer...I must've taken him in about 10 mock drafts for various publications. Ah, well. If you have an IR where you can reserve him and pick up another player, I'd definitely do that, but it sounds to me like you're saying you don't have that option. And if you don't -- yeah, I think you probably have to drop him. Two or three months is the minimum time he's going to miss, and he's not going to be in good shape when he comes back. The Broncos may, in fact, IR him. Since you have McGahee, who just had a knee procedure, I think Rice is the right guy to pick up...
4th pick in 12 team league...go with Westbrook or Addai then hope Brees, Palmer, or Big Ben are still there on the comeback?
Hi, Todd. I wrote the positional previews for our Draft Kit, and I was all over the idea of RBs being less valuable in the first round than ever, because of tandem backfields spreading around the NFL. But that early in a draft, yeah, I'm still taking a running back. My top four goes like this: Tomlinson, Peterson, Westbrook, Addai. If you wind up with one of those guys, I think you're on your way. And I'd imagine that more than one of those QBs would be available on the comeback -- but if you can get, say, Terrell Owens, I'd rather do that....
With McGahee having surgery, he's no longer a 1st rounder. I have the 12th pick in a 12 team league and wonder if I'd be better off going with Brady in that spot or take a chance on an iffy RB like Larry Johnson or Ryan Grant. Thanks
Hi, Eric. Is McGahee no longer a first-rounder? I'm actually writing the fantasy spin on his knee injury right after this chat, and I haven't decided that for sure. He's supposed to be back Week 1, right? You could be right, though. I haven't read enough of the Baltimore papers yet to know for sure. But yeah, if you're picking 12th and Brady is there? I'm taking Brady. I actually have him as my No. 6 overall player. Incidentally, I consider Larry Johnson *way* iffier than Ryan Grant right now. I hate that Brendan Alberts is out for training camp. That line should be awful again in KC.
Who would you take with the #3 pick in a 12 team PPR league? Passing TDs are 4 pts and rushing/rec. TDs are 6 pts.
Hi, Mike. For me, a PPR cheat sheet looks like this at the top: Tomlinson, Westbrook, Moss, Jackson and Peterson. I don't think Moss catches anything close to 20 scores, but if he grabs 100-plus passes with big yardage and even 15 scores, he'll be a top-five PPR player. Especially considering Jackson's holdout, I actually rather like Moss as the No. 3 guy. If you do that, of course, you'll have to set yourself up with some RBs with your next two picks; if you'd rather go safer, I think Jackson's your man.
Quick answer Chris and I promise to leave you alone. Smith or Boldin in a PPR league given Smith's suspension.
Hi, Joe. You're not bothering me, man. There are just a *lot* of questions. I promise to everyone: I'm doing the best I can. Anyway, I think Smith/Boldin is close, though remember Boldin, too, isn't in camp because of a contract issue. I think in a PPR I'm still taking Smith. Two years ago he missed the season's first two games and still exceeded 1,100 yards...
In a PPR league does MJD move into your top 12?
Hi, P. Overall? No way -- too many WRs get all sorts of extra value because of a PPR scoring system. Among RBs, though? No. 12 is right about where I have him.
I really liked DeSean Jackson for Philly the other night. Who are your impact rookie receivers this year?
Hi, CJ. Yeah, Jackson looked good, and is running with the ones at the moment, though I don't suppose that'll last. This isn't a strong rookie crop of impact receivers from what I can see -- I still like James Hardy to have the best fantasy season among them, because of his end-zone skill and because of opportunity in Buffalo. The two kids in Washington are hurt, Limas Sweed is trapped behind established starters, so is Jackson. Early Doucet could win the ARZ third-receiver job at some point, but Steve Breaston has it right now. And those Bengals kids just don't really have a clue yet, apparently.
In a standard scoring league, who do you like best between J. Lewis, MJD, and Jacobs?
Hi, Ben. Literally my No. 14 (Lewis), 15 (MJD) and 16 (Jacobs) running backs at the moment. So I guess I like Lewis most, though it's close. Here's the thing: when you're at this point in the hierarchy, I don't think there's a huge difference between about 10 guys, and depending on how your draft has gone to this point, it may make sense to take a chance on a high-upside receiver or quarterback, and just grab a RB coming back in the next round. I'm quite sure that of that group of 10 backs from, say, 10 to 20 in our list, *someone* will break out and be spectacular. But at this point, it's just so hard to know which guy it'll be, and so if you can get an excellent player at a different position who can definitely start for you? I might consider that.
How far do Coles and Cotchery move up your rankings
Hi, Chuck. They both move up, for sure. Coles is a speed guy who's been absolutely cloistered in the Jets' conservative passing game -- he could wind up being the deep guy. Cotchery can be like Donald Driver Lite. I have Coles moving up from around No. 28 among WRs to being well within the top 24 -- maybe someplace around No. 21 or so? And Cotchery jumps from No. 34 to about No. 28.
I have the dreaded 6th pick in the draft and just can't see taking Brady over a top 10 RB. Do you really think he'll be that much better than the next 3 QBs on the board?
Hi, Ben. That's the question, isn't it? I do think that the top QB, whoever he is, will wind up being a top-five fantasy player this year. But will it be Brady? There's every reason to think it will be, considering he's really good, and the play-calling doesn't figure to be dramatically different, but you're right: things happen. If you can't talk yourself into Brady as the top QB, or basically just aren't sure enough, I can see the logic behind taking Frank Gore or Clinton Portis instead -- they're both in new offenses that promise to use them in exciting ways. But I'll reiterate: with the way football is headed, I believe that the top QB this year will be a top-five fantasy performer, which outside of last year, wasn't the case for nine of the previous ten seasons.
Christopher, I'm curious...How do you prepare for your drafts? Do you have a plan before hand and try to stick to it as much as possible, or do you just react to how the draft is going?
Hi, Ryan. It's a little bit of both -- I think you need to trust your player evaluation and not get swept up in "position runs" in a draft, e.g., don't get freaked out because everyone has already grabbed a tight end and you don't have yours yet. But you definitely have to react to what's out there. I'd say my focus is first and foremost on "best available," especially in the first five or six rounds. If a player I have rated way above everyone else is still there, but I've got his position close to filled already, I'll probably still take him, because I can make a trade. Unlike fantasy baseball, fantasy football is about buying a lot of lottery tickets and hoping one or more hits the jackpot. So think about buying lottery tickets when you're drafting -- get the ones with the best odds of hitting.
I just chose Stephen Jackson with the fifth pick in my draft in a brand new keeper league. Addai was still available. Did i make a huge mistake? I think Jackson has by far more upside in STL than Addai in Indy.
Hi, Chris. Absolutely not -- no such thing as a huge mistake when you're picking between those two guys. I have Addai No. 4 and Jackson No. 5, but let's emphasize: this is *not* an exact science. There's a danger among fantasy football players (and writers!) of letting our lists become law, when in fact all they really are is a kind of groupthink. If you see way more upside for Jackson in an offense that was crushed by injury last year, stick with that and go with it. Of course, you have to hope Jackson ends his holdout soon!
Do you see the Bear's "homeurn hitters" (Garrett Wolfe and Devin Hester) as having any value? How much of an effect will the ineptitude of the offensive coaching staff have on their value?
Hi, Erik. It's an interesting question: is Ron Turner inept, or is it just his players? I don't think Wolfe has much value -- he's not a guy who can hold up to inside pounding, but they aren't likely to split him out wide. He looks like a reserve to me. Hester? Well, I know Matthew Berry loves him -- he has him rated well inside his top 30 among all receivers. I have him more like 70th. The guy has about 30 career receptions in the NFL. I don't trust the quarterbacks, I don't trust the offensive line (the rookie starting LT, Chris Williams, is injured until November), and there are just so many other candidates at WR. Basically I'm saying: I don't like either guy, unless it's as a late-round, deep-league flyer.
with all the talk about S. Jax, what do you expect from Bulger
Hi, Bob. I think he'll be a lot better. His biggest question is injury -- can he stay upright. That offensive line was just killed by injury last year. If Orlando Pace is right, that goes a long way. With Al Saunders there, reunited with Torry Holt and company, I think you're looking at a better offense. I have Bulger No. 11 among QBs, one notch ahead of Brett Favre, the Jet.
Any chance Bush rebounds from a dissapointing 2007? Would you take him over McFadden?
Hi, Harry. Any chance? Sure. He's amazingly talented. But I don't think he's an every-down back. He was at his dominant best when the Saints could find another guy to be the between-the-tackles man. The problem is that I'm counting on exactly nothing from Deuce McAllister. I just don't trust his knees. And Pierre Thomas was beyond underwhelming in that first exhibition game. If Bush winds up having to carry the mail, I don't think he'll be very good; if he can be more of a receiving weapon and a changeup guy? He'll be better. I would take McFadden over Bush even for this year, though.
CHRIS, ARE YOU IGNORING ME BECAUSE YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT EDDIE ROYAL. PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT EDDIE ROYAL! SORRY MY COMPUTER IS STUCK ON CAPS LOCK.
All right, Dave. I'll take your word for the whole CAPS LOCK thing. Again, I promise I'm not intentionally ignore *anyone* -- there are just a lot of questions. Eddie Royal is a very nice story so far: rookie out of Virginia Tech who was always known as a disciplined and polished route runner, and can be a very nice complement, in time, to Brandon Marshall's deep threat. The Broncos say that Royal has already passed Darrell Jackson on their depth chart, though that may simply be motivation for Jackson. With Marshall out at least two games, I'd think both Royal and Jackson will start, and once Marshall is back, we'll see. Rookie receivers are tough to rely on (and I completely spaced on mentioning both Royal and Will Franklin of the Chiefs when I was answering that rookie WR question earlier this hour), but I think Royal's is going to be a name to know in fantasy lineups in a year or two.
Hey I was wondering how come Santana Moss gets no love in fantasy drafts. He had 800 yards I believe and, now Jim Zorn implementing the west coast offense I think he have a breakout season. Thank You for your time later.
Hi, Travis. I like Moss this year: I have him 26th among receivers. He's still fast, but lower body injuries (groin, leg) have plagued him two straight seasons, so it's hard to take him as your WR1. But as your WR2? You're right: the West Coast offense can be mighty friendly to a guy who can get separation.
TMR has been hating on the Bengals offense this year. He thinks that Palmer is over-valued. Do you agree? Will Watson become the starting RB? Chad and TJ Top 12 WR's?
Hi, Nick. I don't think Palmer is overrated, simply because that's a passing offense, first, foremost and always. Palmer had a cruddy year last year: 20 INTs (most in the NFL). But the two best weapons he has are Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and he'll keep going to them. I have Palmer No. 6 among QBs, though I do think there's a gap between No. 5 (Ben Roethlisberger) and Palmer, and I don't think there's a lot of difference between Palmer and some of the guys below him, so I wouldn't reach for him at all. As for the RBs -- Rudi Johnson is already hurt, but not badly. I believe when all's said and done, Johnson will wind up being more valuable, but that no one in that backfield will have been un-frustrating to own from week to week.
Do you think in the absence of Brett Farve, Ryan Grant will have as strong of a season this year?
Hi, Jenny. Yeah, I think Ryan Grant will be pretty good. Aaron Rodgers needs to stay healthy, but if he does, I think he'll have a good enough year with some good weapons to at least keep teams honest. Grant's ascendency last year was about a perfect match between his one-cut running style and the Packers' O-line, and I don't think the O-line got worse. I like Grant fine.
All right, everyone, I have to get on that McGahee spin, so one more question this morning....
Am I crazy to think that Maurice Morris and Garret Wolfe are going to have a big impact this year?
Hi, Steve. Crazy? Never. Misguided? Well.... I weighed in on Wolfe earlier -- I just don't see him being able to stand up to a pounding inside, and it seems to me that the Bears' Adrian Peterson is a better pure pass-catcher. Wolfe will have his moments, but I don't see consistent fantasy value there. As for Morris: I think it's just what Mike Holmgren says it is: a platoon. There'll be weeks when Morris is fine, but he's nobody's idea of an instinctive rusher or a goal-line back, and Julius Jones is getting paid a lot of money. Listen, I'm not a believer in JJ, either, but I have to think the 'Hawks are going to give him a lot of rope in a platoon role.
All right, everyone. Thanks very much for coming -- I continue to be overwhelmed by your interest and support, and I'm aware every single day that I wouldn't get to do this awesome job without you. I'm sorry not to be able to get to every single one of your questions, but remember: if you join Insider, you get access to a Fantasy Concierge service, where you can get your emails answered one-on-one. Anyway, again, thank you very much, and I'll see you next week.