Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

December 15, 1:10 PM ET
Fantasy Football Christopher Harris

Christopher Harris
  (11:01 AM)

Good morning, everyone. Let's get right down to business, as the fantasy playoffs are reaching their apex.....

Mike (Indy)

Rhodes owner was very nice not having Addai play this week. What are the odds Addai misses the Thursday game at Jacksonville?

Christopher Harris
  (11:03 AM)

Hi, Mike. I know. I was on ESPN Radio with Amy Lawrence last night, and that was my comment: Dominic Rhodes gets to start in a lot of leagues right now because the Colts played it safe with Addai, and plus didn't try any funny business with their injury report. But Addai really was hit-or-miss to play yesterday, and that gives me the impression he's likelier to play next week than not. It helps, though, that it's a Thursday game. Stay tuned, I guess.

Steiny (NYC)

Should Warner owners be nervous about Matt Leinart next week?

Christopher Harris
  (11:04 AM)

Hi, Steiny. I don't think so. Frankly, the Cards were a little goofy for sticking with Warner as long as they did in the fourth quarter yesterday, because he was really getting the snot beaten out of him. Jared Allen played unbelievably well. Anyway, I think the Cards are going to have some great offensive fun against the Patriots next week, and I wouldn't consider sitting any of the passing-game components.

Phil (B More)

I'm thinking of starting Schaub vs. Da Raiders over Warner next week since he could be rested. Any thoughts?

Christopher Harris
  (11:06 AM)

Well, Phil, Schaub obviously has an elite weapon in Andre Johnson. But as I just said, I don't think Warner sits just for rest's sake in a sweet matchup with the Pats next week. New England doesn't have a pass rush and can't cover anyone. I really think this is going to be a good day for Warner, Fitzgerald and Boldin.

Steve (MI)

Is Lance Moore done as a Fantasy option? He kiled me the last few weeks. I was counting on his Detroit Match-up for the Championship week!

Christopher Harris
  (11:08 AM)

Hi, Steve. Yeah, Drew Brees really looked Marques Colston's way early and often on Thursday night. Moore got some targets, but they were almost all little short safety valve type routes. The Lions have done a pretty decent job against the pass lately, but are just so easy to run on. While I haven't done the math to see where I'll have guys rated for Week 16, I think Moore might fall out of my top 20 for the week. He'll probably be more of a flex player. Pierre Thomas, on the other hand, looks like a must-start in all formats.

Mike (Indy)

Also an LT owner....I'm getting really sick of these half-butt games from him. This is not what I was expecting when I drafted him #1 overall. Next week he gets Tampa. I can't believe I'm asking this, but would you start Grant over him? Thanks!

Christopher Harris
  (11:10 AM)

Hi, Mike. I hear you, man. I traded for Tomlinson (on the cheap) for a playoff run, and while I got a couple touchdowns out of him each of the past two weeks, he just isn't getting it done. I can't believe it's his toe any longer; I simply think he's lost a step (and his O-line has lost three). As I said in a previous answer, I haven't done the math yet to see what my ranks will be for Week 16; those will come out on Wednesday. But I have a feeling that LT and Grant are going to be pretty close. I *think* I'm still going to have Tomlinson higher, because the Bucs have given up huge yards on the ground in each of their past two games. But can LT take advantage???

Charles (Austin)

Please tell me that Gore will be good to go against the Rams this week so I can start him along side Pierre vs. the Lions and clean house in the championship!

Christopher Harris
  (11:12 AM)

Hi, Charles. Obviously, it's impossible to say six days away from his next game, but I will say that I didn't think it was a very good sign that the Niners were able to rule Gore out so easily without having him even take pre-game warmups. The worry is that his ankle was so obviously bad, that they didn't even want to see him try. Plus, DeShaun Foster actually had moments where he played very well against Miami. Total guess here, but I think Gore is going to be a shaky proposition in Week 16.

Steiny (NYC)

Hi Christopher, is Tarvaris Jackson the real deal, or was his game last night a fluke?

Christopher Harris
  (11:13 AM)

I think Jackson played well enough to warrant another start, Steiny. He didn't really have to throw it all that much, though when he went deep, he was surprisingly (for him) accurate. Of course, Adrian Peterson was the real dominant story of that game: he didn't get all the touchdowns, but he was a force, and the Cardinals were busy trying to check him, which let Jackson have his big day. I would have a hard time starting Jackson in my fantasy playoffs, but still, he's looked pretty good for a game-and-a-half.

Tony (Greensboro NC)

Is Kevin Curtis playing in tonight's game? What do you expect from Desean Jackson with & without Curtis playing (PPR format)? Thanks.

Christopher Harris
  (11:15 AM)

Hi, Tony. Yeah, it looks as though Curtis *will* play, which isn't what I believed would be the case when I did my rankings updates on Friday. And as you imply, Curtis playing definitely impacts Jackson's bottom line. Given the opportunity to spread it around, you know Donovan McNabb will. Hopefully Jackson can get Brandon McDonald on him a few times, because he'll be able to beat him deep; it's Eric Wright you need to worry about. He's an emerging cover guy for Cleveland.


First off, I'd like to pat myself on the back for my call on the Cowboys D/ST last night. No one believed me when I said the Giants were primed to lay an egg. Anyways, do you roll with the Cowboys D against the Ravens or the Bucs D against San Diego?

Christopher Harris
  (11:17 AM)

Way to go, DGA. I wasn't on board with Dallas going into yesterday's game, though to be fair, when I did my defensive rankings, we didn't have clarity on Brandon Jacobs yet, and it might've been a different game had Jacobs played. Regardless, though, that Cowboys pass rush is right up there with the Ravens and Steelers as the most fearsome in the league right now. As I've said in earlier answers, I won't have sure ranks until tonight's game is over and I can crunch the numbers, but I would say at this point that rolling with Dallas sounds like the right thing to me. Tampa is giving up rushing yards by the bushel.

Kyle (Bristol, RI)

Mr. Harris, what is your super early top 10 for next year's fantasy drafts?

Christopher Harris
  (11:20 AM)

Hi, Kyle. To be honest: I haven't given it any thought. So as I answer, it's going to be completely seat-of-my-pants. One thing I can say for sure is that Adrian Peterson is No. 1, and that's because I had Peterson No. 1 *this* season, so I feel all smarty-smart on that one. I would say that Michael Turner has earned a place in that top 10. Brian Westbrook will be in it. Brandon Jacobs is probably going to be in it. Maurice Jones-Drew is probably going to be Fred-Taylor-free and will have his O-line back, which puts me in the mind to put him there. I'm tempted by Chris Johnson, but LenDale White continues to be an annoyance. And I *was* having a conversation last week with some guys around the ESPN office and I said that Calvin Johnson is likely to be my No. 1 wide receiver. That's stretch, I know, because of his uncertain QB situation, but I just think he's that much better than everyone else. I don't think that's 10, but it's a start on a list....

Drew (Mil-town)

So what are your thoughts on McNabb tonight, is he going to throw a lot or is Westbrook going to run all over them...?

Christopher Harris
  (11:21 AM)

Hi, Drew. I like both guys as fantasy starts tonight. I think McNabb will toss a couple scores because it's a "storyline" game, where the "storyline" will be the fact that he was benched a few weeks ago, and now is playing very well. But Westbrook is the prime weapon in this offense. If I had to pick just one guy in tonight's game, it'd be him.

Not Steiny (NYC)

Seeing the Vikes shut down Warner doesn't seem to bode well for M Ryan. But with Romo facing the Ravens -- and a bit banged up -- it doesn't seem that I'll feel confident no matter where I turn. Thoughts?

Christopher Harris
  (11:23 AM)

Hi, N.S. I hear you. I'm not that worried about Romo being banged up, but I *am* worried about that Ravens D, which continues to be devastating. The only game where they've given it up was the Indy contest. I don't know whether that could be duplicated next Saturday. I don't worry *that* much about Ryan or the Vikings pass D; Arizona played a cruddy game, but I still think there are plays to be made via the air against Minnesota. In short: I'm actually not sure whom I'll have higher. I would tend to lean toward Romo because it seems he produces a couple touchdown passes against everyone. But I have to run the numbers tomorrow to be sure, so check back Wednesday.

Jake (Florida)

Would you start Favre over Cutler any of the next two weeks?

Christopher Harris
  (11:24 AM)

Hi, Jake. I haven't run the numbers, but I have to say almost certainly not. Favre isn't playing very well, and while Cutler has his down moments, at least you know he'll throw it a lot, and it'll often be downfield. I can say with some certainty that I'm going to have Cutler rated higher.

Rebecca (St Louis)

Is Bush officially done for the year (Fantasy wise)?

Christopher Harris
  (11:25 AM)

Hi, Rebecca. I wouldn't say "done," but he did have his knee looked at this weekend, and there's a chance that he re-injured the surgically-repaired appendage last Thursday. Pierre Thomas is the guy you'd rather own right now, but against the Lions (as the Titans proved on Thanksgiving) there's often room enough for two backs to have a good fantasy day. Let's check on his health in the next couple days, first, though.


hey chris, did larry johnson really get 10 fantasy points with 55 rushing yards, 18 receiving yards, and no tds (in a standard league), or was this a scoring mistake?

Christopher Harris
  (11:28 AM)

Hi, Joe. Hm. That does seem like a mistake. I'm not even in Bristol today, so I'm the wrong person to make any sort of correction, but I will send an email along to my editors to see if they have anything to say about it.....

Elizabeth (Los Angeles, CA)

Hey Chris. What do you think about Tashard Choice next week? I'll be in the finals and don't think Hightower's going to help me at all.

Christopher Harris
  (11:31 AM)

Hi, Elizabeth. I agree about Hightower not helping you: the Cardinals seem to have given up the pretext of having a rushing game, and next week against New England isn't the time to start. But as for Choice? He's looked very good the past two weeks against some good defenses, but he gets another lulu this week, plus we don't know exactly how Marion Barber's going to be feeling. Right now, knowing what we know, I'd take Choice over Hightower, but if Barber is 100%, I'm less sure.

Pat (MI)

LJ threw a TD pass.

Christopher Harris
  (11:31 AM)

Right, Pat. Thanks. I just remembered right when you submitted this. Yes, that explains Johnson's total: he tossed a touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez.

Paul (KC)

Don't forget LJ threw a TD pass to Gonzalez. That's where the additional 4 pts came from.

Christopher Harris
  (11:31 AM)

Yup. Thanks, Paul!

Tony (Orlando)

Larry Johnson threw a 4 yd TD pass to Tony Gonzalez on a halfback option play

Christopher Harris
  (11:32 AM)

And Tony! (And everyone else.)

Randy (CT)

CHRIS!!! Happy Holidays man...OK...ready to roll this week (even though you just spooked me with the ealier Gore injury comment!) Lynch for real now? Thoughts on his upcoming game and start the think tank for me with my #2 (P. Thomas, Chris Johnson, S. Morris or a (healthy) Gore? And, is that CB freak of talent from Oakland gonna cramp up AJ?

Christopher Harris
  (11:34 AM)

Hi, Randy. Yeah, I mean, Lynch is for real, period. He's a very good player. Fred Jackson continues to steal some value from him, but I think you have to be using Lynch every week. As for your No. 2, to get the think-tank rolling I'm going to say Pierre Thomas has one heck of a matchup next week. I think I'd have to use him, knowing what I know right now. As for Nnamdi Asomugha, the thing about him is that he typically doesn't lock down on one receiver and just stay with him. He usually stays on the defensive right side, and whomever lines up there. And actually, Randy Moss beat him for two or three nice gains yesterday, too. I certainly wouldn't think about not using Andre Johnson, regardless.

john (dc)

what are you expecting out of braylon tonight?

Christopher Harris
  (11:35 AM)

Hi, John. Honestly, not a whole heckuva lot. One thing in his favor last week was that the Browns targeted him seemingly without end, and I guess when you get that many looks, it's possible to put together a good night. But the Philly blitz-o-riffic D against Ken Dorsey sounds like a recipe for disaster for Cleveland, and I don't think Dorsey has the wing to get it to Edwards deep regardless. My hopes are low.

Patty McPatsfan

Seriously, is Lamont Jordan worth grabbing?

Christopher Harris
  (11:36 AM)

Well, Patty, if you're alive in your fantasy playoffs, I find it difficult to believe that you have a spot in your starting lineup for Jordan. I do think he's probably worth owning, and if we were in the regular season, I'd be recommending him as an add. I guess if you want to block your playoff opponent from grabbing him, go ahead. But really, I think you're *not* going to be starting the guy if you've got good enough running back to still be playing in Week 16, and let's face it: Jordan did his damage yesterday in garbage time.

Bill (Mpls)

Here's the fantasy sports breakdown: Football: Maddeningly dependent on luck, easiest sport to find contributors out of nowhere. Baseball: Predictable over the course of the season, but much more luck-based in H2H than roto. Often find contributors from "nowhere" but they are easier to identify ahead of time than football. Basketball: Most predictable in both roto and H2H formats. Tougher to find out of nowhere contributors than in baseball or football. Overall: Baseball, football, basketball. But I hate football today after all the eggs that my studs laid yesterday.

Christopher Harris
  (11:37 AM)

I hear you, Bill. This is definitely the time of year when I hear the most fantasy football cursing. In the end, it really *does* come down to luck. You need to make good decisions in your draft and all throughout the year to put yourself in position to succeed, but it's very, very easy to have a good contributor post a bad week at the wrong time. (Which is the same reason that H2H baseball also has a lot of luck to it.) Yes, it's maddening. But I still love it.

Dave (Arlington, VA)

Chris, Boldin has become a concern. I note your overall Arizona comment from earlier, but would you still play him over Megatron, Roddy and A Bryant?

Christopher Harris
  (11:40 AM)

Hi, Dave. Well, per my previous comments, I really haven't done any rankings work for Week 16, so I'm completely shooting from the hip. My rankings are very math-based (with some "human" rearranging in there after the math is over), which is why I'm reluctant to commit right away. But yeah, I mean, you've got four very good receivers there. I would never sit Calvin Johnson, and I'd probably never sit Roddy White. So Bryant or Boldin? I definitely understand Bryant's the hot guy, and I couldn't argue too strongly against using him over Boldin. But in a vacuum, knowing what I know about that Pats secondary, I just think the Cardinals are going to score some points in that game. They'll probably give up a bunch, too. I dunno. Sitting where I'm sitting right now, I say Boldin, but it's most important that you go with your gut, so you don't hate yourself in the morning. Let's face it: we just got through saying how random this stuff is when you get down to a one-week scenario. So it's not like I can promise you I'm correct. Listen, but then trust your gut.

Rob (State Colleg)

CH - I need 42 points from Westbrook and the Iggles DST to make my finals. Do I need to bother watching or should I get a good nights sleep? Thanks for a GREAT season of advice and rankings!!

Christopher Harris
  (11:41 AM)

Hi, Rob. You should watch! (Not least because ESPN wants the ratings.) Westbrook can go off, and I expect sacks or turnovers from Ken Dorsey. You have a shot.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Chris, who's been the most surprising fantasy guys this year, and who's been the most disappointing (Roddy White, LT)?

Christopher Harris
  (11:44 AM)

Hi, Will. Well, I think DeAngelo Williams has to be close to the most surprising guy. I mean, they drafted Jonathan Stewart to be their goal-line guy, and Williams has 12 scores the past seven weeks? Eesh. Thomas Jones was a favored sleeper among we staff, but I don't think any of us saw *this* kind of season. And Michael Turner -- I thought he was talented, but there's no way I thought his O-line would come together like this. Matt Forte probably belongs on that list, too. As for the letdowns: Tomlinson's No. 1. But how about Joseph Addai? Yeesh. And Willis McGahee? Yikes. Braylon Edwards probably is the most disappointing receiver. Matt Hasselbeck? Torry Holt? Tom Bleepin' Brady?

Mike (NYC)

The Tenn DST is starting to fade. Should I still start them in my championship next week vs. PITT, or take a chance on a worse defense (like Cleveland or New Orleans) with a better matchup (Cincy, Detroit)?

Christopher Harris
  (11:46 AM)

Hi, Mike. I agree with you that the Titans are starting to fade, and it's possible that Albert Haynesworth is going to miss some time, which would hurt. (And Kyle Vanden Bosch can't stay on the field.) Let's wait to see how the Browns look tonight, but I thought the Redskins were a clever pick against the Bengals yesterday, and that didn't work out at all. And the Saints are horrible against the pass, and will have to deal with Calvin Johnson. I think when push comes to shove, even though I understand your concern, Pittsburgh's offense doesn't scare me all that much. I would probably use the Titans. Check back Wednesday for concrete rankings....


Another week down... I locked up being in the Championship last night and I am starting to breakdown who I am going to start next week. I am stuck on C. Johnson vs. Pit or Ronnie Brown vs Chiefs....a little help?

Christopher Harris
  (11:49 AM)

Hi, Sean. I can help get the wheels of decision moving. Brown only got 10 carries yesterday, and is clearly a part-time player right now, but a matchup against Kansas City isn't very scary. Clearly Johnson is a better bet in a vacuum right now, but the Steelers are very tough on defense. You know what, though? Pittsburgh did give up 87 on the ground to LeRon McClain yesterday, and that makes three weeks in a row where teams have been able to move it on the ground against them. I tend to think I'm going to have Johnson higher, even with the bad matchup.

Will (STL)

Looking ahead to this week, would you sit TO for Bowe in the fantasy championship (half ppr)? I'm starting the Ravens D and like to avoid conflicts of interest whenever possible. Thanks Chris.

Christopher Harris
  (11:50 AM)

Hi, Will. Hm. Tough one. I've been high on Bowe all year, and he's now put up two decent games in a row. The Dolphins aren't great against the pass, and plus will probably yield to a dink-and-dunk offense that looks an awful lot like their own. I think Owens and Bowe are going to be very close in my ranks, and I would say that if you're seeking to avoid any cannibalization, I like the way you're thinking.

Adam (Jersey)

What do you make of Portis losing goal-line carries last week?

Christopher Harris
  (11:52 AM)

Hi, Adam. Well, since I was *playing* Portis in a big semifinal game yesterday (a game I lost in a squeaker), at the time I wasn't too sad about Portis losing said touches at all. What's crazy about that, though, is that Mike Sellers isn't a good short-yardage guy. Never really has been. Very good pass-catcher, yes, but not a great bust-it-in player. Which makes the relationship between Jim Zorn and Portis look even shakier. I dunno -- if you're the Redskins, do you consider letting Zorn go at the end of this year? He's alienated your best player and made some real stinker game-management decisions this year. I guess I have to believe that Portis is a must-start next week vs. the Eagles, but still, it's getting to be a messy situation in D.C.


ETIQUETTE QUESTION!! Im up by 10 points. He has no one left, and I have the Eagles D. Is it smart to bench them for the guaranteed win and finals berth, or is it a little low?

Christopher Harris
  (11:53 AM)

I don't think it's a breach of etiquette to bench a D in that case. Not at all. It's smart, in fact. I wouldn't say that etiquette requires you to start all eight guys, and I don't think that's a cutthroat thing to say....

JT (Bowling Green, OH)

D.Branch - worthy of a pick up and play??

Christopher Harris
  (11:55 AM)

Hi, JT. If this were earlier in the year, I'd probably be advocating Branch as a pickup, but if you're in your fantasy playoffs, I wouldn't bench the guy who brung you in favor of a guy like Branch. He caught some passes in the second half yesterday, but he gets Darrelle Revis and the Jets next week. I don't see a big enough game for him in that one to warrant not starting a guy you've been using all year.

Jmerms (NYC)

Koren Robinson had a strong game do you think he will put up big fantasy points next year?

Christopher Harris
  (11:56 AM)

Hi, Jmerms. Well, here's the thing: I think they might be fixing to blow it all up in Seattle next year when Mike Holmgren leaves. It doesn't seem likely that either Deion Branch or Bobby Engram will return, and it's unknown whether they'll deal Matt Hasselbeck (that'd be crazy in my opinion, but we'll see). So I guess predicting anything for certain for that offense, which isn't very good, would be silly. I tend to think that Robinson is really a No. 3 receiver who could help with some possession routes, but shouldn't be a featured player. But in a rebuilding situation, you never know.

Chris (Baltimore, MD):

UBER IMPORTANT. Playoff tiebreaker issue. Turns out, even though I thought we were set, we have an issue. Because of Arizona's blocked FG not counting until today, we not how a tie. I'm the commish and not involved in this game. Our rules don't clearly state how to break ties in the playoffs. We have a regular season tiebreaker, but in this case, that would grant the win to the team that's not only seeded lower, but lost to the other team head to head in the regular season too. What should we do?

Christopher Harris
  (11:59 AM)

Hi, Chris. Ooh. Ouch. Yeah, I mean, there's nothing clear-cut here. Clearly going forward, you should make a rule for playoff ties. (I prefer rules in which owners must submit their non-starters in the order in which they want them to count as tiebreakers, so in the event of a tie, my first tiebreaker player is compared to your first player tiebreaker, and whoever scored the more fantasy points gets the win -- and if those two guys are tied, then go to the second guy on each team's list, etc.) Anyway, in this case, you can't retroactively apply a system like that. I think if you have a regular-season single-game tiebreaker, I think you probably should go with that lacking any other solution. But if you don't have a regular-season single-game tiebreaker, um, maybe you do a coin flip?

Seth Dallas

Is Benson worth a start in the playoffs? He got a ton of touches yesterday and Clevland and KC are both nice matchups.

Christopher Harris
  (11:59 AM)

Hi, Seth. Yeah, he's carrying it. I just don't think his upside is very high. If you're thinking about using him in your fantasy playoffs, well, I guess that means every other running back on your team is hurt. In which case, I guess go ahead. But I wouldn't bench someone you've been using all year for Benson.

Christopher Harris
  (12:00 PM)

All right, gang. Time for one more, then I've got to get going.....

Sam (Dallas)

Hooray! Andre Johnson and Dallas Clark carried me to victory in spite of owning Warner and Boldin! What do you think of the Giants' D next week against Carolina? The Panthers seem capable of putting up some numbers!

Christopher Harris
  (12:01 PM)

Hi, Sam. Yeah, I mean, the Panthers seem to be able to run against anyone, though Travelle Wharton got nicked up yesterday. I would tend to say that you should stick with the elite fantasy defenses heedless of matchups, and I do consider the Giants an elite fantasy defense. Unless you've got a really strong secondary option, I'm probably sticking with the Jints.

Christopher Harris
  (12:02 PM)

All right, everyone. thanks so much for coming. I know it can be frustrating not to get your question answered -- there are just an *awful* lot of questions. Anyway, I promise to try and do better the next time, and I do mean it when I say how grateful I am for the opportunity. Without you and your interest, I wouldn't get to do this great job, and for that I'm very grateful. Good luck this week, and I'll chat with you again next Monday. And remember: ranks come out on Wednesday, and the Breakdown will be out on Friday. Have a great week.