Good morning, everyone. OK, before we get started for this fun-filled hour, here are the same ground rules as last week. Some of you were angry that I offered them up at the start last week, but others were angry in previous weeks when I *didn't*. Anyway: I'm not going to answer "Should I start XX over XX in Week 10?" because (a) Week 9 isn't over; (b) I haven't done Week 10 ranks yet; (c) We have a column devoted to that, which comes out Wednesdays. Next, I'm not going to answer "Who's better until the end of the year, XX or XX?" because (a) Week 9 isn't over; (b) We have a column devoted to *that*, too -- it comes out tomorrow, and I write it, and I haven't done the work (i.e., watch all the games) yet. Finally, make sure you refresh your chat page regularly, because very often people keep asking questions over and over about players I've just typed about. With all that out of the way, let's get to it....
Would you rather have Charles or K Smith now that LJ is gone?
Hi, Jim. Yeah, for those who haven't heard the news, the Chiefs released Larry Johnson this morning, which basically grants the guy exactly what he wanted. I have doubts any team will sign him after his display a couple weeks ago, though. Anyway, it was a three-headed monster yesterday: Jamaal Charles, Kolby Smith and Dantrell Savage, though Smith seemed to get the red-zone looks (what few there were). If I had to pick one, it'd still be Charles, because I think he's the most talented. But it's still not a situation to get excited over, in my opinion.
Some serious hype around here for Fred Davis taking over for Cooley and he did nothing against the Falcons. Is he already good to drop?
Hi, Hampton. I hope you're not including me in the "serious hype" department -- I had him #13 for this weekend. Davis blew an early catch and the Redskins never really came back to him yesterday, and of course the immortal Todd Yoder scored a touchdown. My opinion of Davis doesn't change that much: if you were desperate enough to add him because of TE injuries, he's at least a starter. But yeah, he's not great.
I have Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall on my team and I need 8 points to win tonight, who should I start and how will the carries be split?
Hi, Mark. Oh, I would say Mendenhall definitely. I don't see Fast Willie horning in much on the action unless Mendenhall gets hurt.
What is your take on Westbrook I thought he would have played yesterday and then all of a sudden it's a no go. Looking foward is he good to go or what?
Hi, Brian. Ooh, yeah, that was a groin shot, hearing that after all the other games were basically over. Fantasy owners 'round the globe got hurt with that one; I guess that's a strong argument for handcuffing right there, because McCoy would've been an acceptable substitute. What the guys were saying on the broadcast last night and what I read this morning *seems* to indicate Westy would play in Week 10, and that the Eagles were being over-safe just to not put the guy's career in jeopardy. But no guarantees, obviously.
Do you think Shonn Greene will be the starter for the Jets next season?
Hi, Steve. Deep in my guts, I do, though I think Leon Washington will be back to steal a lot of work. But the Jets have made a lot of noise about how happy they are with Thomas Jones, and how they'd like to re-sign him. I know Jones has looked very good, much better than I expected him to, but he's on the wrong side of 30 and if it's me, I wouldn't re-sign him. I guess we'll have to see....
Megatron had another stinker. Minus one week against the Bears, he hasn't done much at all. I know the standard answer is "don't worry" but I don't know. Your thoughts?
Hi, Scott. Thanks for this question, because while my standard answer *is* usually "don't worry" about supremely talented guys like this, I'm a little bit worried. I haven't exactly figured out what I'm going to about it in my ranks, and while I haven't watched that DET/SEA game all the way through yet, I did see enough of it live that it didn't look like the problem was with Megatron's knee. It just looked like the Seahawks blanketed him, and Stafford didn't want to force it to him until it was too late, and then he just kept throwing picks. I think you're going to have to keep starting Johnson. But I'm worried.
Thoughts on Slaton? Did they use him enough to look like he'll regain the gig soon?
Hi, Mark. No, not really. Moats was pretty clearly the main dude, though Slaton did capitalize on a short touchdown after Moats was stuffed on the goal line. But overall, he looked like a third-down back; Moats got almost all the work on first and second downs. That doesn't mean it'll always be thus. But I didn't really see anything that indicated Slaton will start again in the next couple weeks.
After last night and all of last week's rumblings, is Roy Williams becoming relevant again or was this just a one night thing?
Hi, Sid. Yeah, I think he's relevant. I'm not sure he's startable, but he's relevant. As I wrote last week in a few different places, Miles Austin needs to show that he can beat a defense that's focused on stopping him, and he really didn't until that huge play late in the game (which is to his credit). I'm not going to be surprised if Williams gets more targets than Austin going forward, though I remain convinced that Austin is still a better fantasy player regardless.
Second week in a row you had Maroney outside of the top 30 yet he produces AGAIN this week. Your subjective opinions are beginning to deem your advice absolutley meanignless, IMO. Garbage.
Hi, Greg. Did he produce? In fact, I believe I wrote (I'm paraphrasing) that anyone can fall into the end zone occasionally, but Maroney just isn't a good player. Did you watch the game? Maroney started pretty well, and I'll admit he got some volume (20 carries). But if Randy Moss hadn't fallen down at the 1, Maroney would've had 19 carries and no score, and you'd have shut your big yapper this morning. He's still the hesitant, inconsistent player I've been writing about, in my opinion, and he'll have one more game (vs. the Colts) as a lead guy before Sammy Morris comes back. Good luck with him going forward. (And by the way, you expect me *not* to express "subjective opinions"? Should I watch the games but only consult the stats afterword?) Have a great day.
WHATS WRONG WITH JACOBS?
Hi, Miguel. Well, Brandon Jacobs' numbers haven't been there, no question. But again, I thought he looked pretty good yesterday afternoon. The biggest issue I think folks should have with him is injury potential, because he missed some of the Chargers game with a "leg injury" before coming back in. But early on, he ran with great power and decisiveness. No question, the fact that Ahmad Bradshaw is there (and Danny Ware played some) hurts -- but I'm not giving up on Jacobs entirely....
Whats going on with steve smith(car)? i didnt see the game but saw that he was thrown to a bunch but yet still didnt produce much
Hi, Seamus. Yeah, I think this is what we can expect from Steve Smith of the Carolina flavor. It seems like he's a better version of Santana Moss right now: prone to the big game, but also capable of disappearing. Let's face it: the way the Panthers built that 17-0 lead yesterday was running the ball, and when the Saints decided to throw everything they had at the line, Delhomme just didn't have enough confidence (or *something*) to do anything about it. Unfortunately, it'll be ups and downs for Smith.
Why do the Saints continue to pay Reggie Bush a ton of money and tout him as some clutch-game-winning super talent? We could pay for three defensive players with that salary.
Hi, Aaron. Ha. Well, to some extent there's nothing the Saints can do about it now -- they're already paying Bush the money. And you have to admit that he *is* really good at a couple of things: he's got great acceleration and great leaping ability, and when he gets the chance he's also a good receiver. But the book is out on him: make sure you have someone fast on him, and let him dance around then make a tackle. Bush has been a surprisingly good red-zone threat occasionally this year (though never up the middle), but he's definitely a specialty player and doesn't look worthy of his No. 3 overall status any longer....
If and when Run DMC returns, how effective do you think he will be and how does he play into Oakland's running platoon? Thanks.
Hi, Joe. Yeah, I guess the last report out of Oakland was that DMC *was* running, so hopefully he can practice this week and maybe play. I'd be lying if I said I had any inside info on how that situation will play out -- I do think that Fargas has played with enough spunk and guts over the past couple games to remain the starter for the time being, but wouldn't it make sense for the Raiders to look at their future more than their past over the season's second half?
How will I do tonight against a great secondary?
I think Roethlisberger verges on "matchup-proof," to be honest, and I'd feel just fine about playing him tonight. Nor am I entirely convinced that the Broncos have a "great" secondary. They can rush the passer, and will probably hit Big Ben a few times. They're good. But I trust Roethlisberger to put up good fantasy numbers almost no matter what by this point. Him and Aaron Rodgers. I don't love the way they're playing, but man, almost no matter what, they wind up scoring fantasy points.
Hi Chris, who should I start tonight? Knowshown Moreno or Rashard Mendenhall?
Hi, Peter. It's a tough call, but I think I'd pick Mendenhall. He seems like a safer bet to get more carries (provided he doesn't fumble!), and the Steelers run defense seems like a bigger challenge to me than the Broncos'. But if your gut is screaming in the other direction, you'd be forgiven. I don't think it's a no-brainer.
With Portis going out I have the chance to claim Betts off waivers, players release tonight after the game do you think this would be a worthwhile pickup if I had to drop McGahee to do so?
Hi, Mark. Good question. I do think that McGahee is pretty much worthless right now -- Ray Rice was even getting goal-line carries yesterday. Is Betts a great option? Probably not -- even if he winds up the starter, he inherits the same offensive line mess that Portis has/had. I wouldn't be shocked if Betts starts a game or two while Portis is concussed, and I think he's worth an add, but I'm not expecting miracles.
So you said you didn't see anything from Slaton to convince you he will be starting. I don't see why Moats would even get the nod over him. Stevie had a better yardage average on pass AND run plays, and produced on the goal line when Moats couldnt. Factor in that even Moats proved he was human (fumbled in the 1st half), and I don't see why Kubiak wouldn't have some faith in his 'back of the future.'
Hi, Jacob. Well, yeah, I guess that is if the Texans still consider Slaton their back of the future. Let's face it: early in his rookie year, most of us thought Slaton's career upside was as a third-down scatback type, and his ascension to the starting job was a surprise...heck that's why he lasted in the NFL Draft. You're right that Moats doesn't seem like a great bet on first and second down, but would I be surprised to see the Texans make a play at some point for a more traditional, bigger, 1st and 2nd down type of guy, and use Slaton in a Leon Washington / Darren Sproles sort of way? I wouldn't. But I also think you're right: I think the Texans are probably a better (if more fumble-prone) team with Slaton starting.
Is it time to trade away Ronnie Brown and be able to get a decent quarterback? Because I have Steven Jackson, DeAngelo Williams, Marshaun Lynch, and Ricky Williams along with Ronnie Brown and only Matt Cassel as my quarterback.
Hi, Vincent. In a vacuum, I still think Brown is worth more than any but the top few quarterbacks, but your league isn't happening in a vacuum, obviously, and yes, you need a quarterback. So that notion is probably right: go get one.
After Addai's strong performance this week it seems he has no place to go but down with Brown coming back. Would you suggest selling Addai high and attempting to get a more solid back or receiver?
Hi, Randy. I have to admit, I've misread Addai's performances the past two weeks. I had him very high against the 49ers, and quite a bit lower against the Texans, and he did exactly the opposite of that. So maybe I don't have the best read on the guy right now. I know this: the Colts threw a *heck* of a lot more than they ran in that game, and Addai benefited from a short touchdown pass. If they're going to keep that same crazy pass/run mix, it's tough to see either Addai *or* Brown being a must-start. If you could get an elite WR for him, and if you can spare the loss of the RB, I don't mind that. But I also think Addai continues to show he's got a pretty good nose for the end zone in general.
Who is the number one fantasy running back right, in your opinion (yes, I ask questions because I want to get your subjective opinion, unlike some people)? It seems guys like Turner at least, and perhaps C. Johnson and MJD might be in the conversation along with All Day.
Hi, Raymond. I think I'm still taking Peterson. Turner is red-hot, there's no question, and guys like Johnson and MJD have huge explosiveness in a given week. I love 'em all. But the guy who has the best combination of big-play ability, yardage-crunching power and goal-line acumen, in my opinion, is still Peterson. I trust him to be the most consistent among the high-upside guys, though obviously as the sample size of games gets smaller and smaller, the risk always grows with *any* player of a one-game downward blip.
Hi, Christopher. What are your thoughts on Brandon Marshall going forward? I'm concerned about Orton's ability to throw deep. Last week you ranked Marshall above Driver and Sims-Walter, but I'm concerned about trading either of those players for him. Thoughts? Thanks.
Hi, Christopher. Yeah, I mean, for Week 8 I had Marshall as my No. 1 wide receiver. Doh. That didn't work out very well. I agree with your analysis about Orton: I'm not sure whether it's an inability or an unwillingness, but that performance in Baltimore last week was ugly from a Marshall perspective. Before I panic, though, let's see how and whether the Broncos address that concern tonight. They'll dink-and-dunk against the Steelers a lot, I'm sure, but let's also see if they take their shots in a close-ish game.
Chris, I am a huge fan and base most of my trades and moves throughout the year on the Big Rotowski. Three weeks ago I traded for Chris Johnson, based on your top 5 ranking and he has paid dividends. Any chance you see him as the #1 RB tommorrow?
Hi, Peter. Thanks for the kind words. As I wrote a couple questions ago, I still think Peterson's my guy, and it's hard to argue for dropping MJD any spots because all he does is keep producing. But I think the people who were blasting me a month ago for continuing to defend Chris Johnson and rank him in the top five despite him "only having had one good game" are going to be quieter at least for a couple weeks. I think he's a poster child for why fantasy players shouldn't overreact, and why they should stick with talent above all else. He's just really, really good.
is Olsen a good TE start going forward or was his performance yesterday half luck and half garbage time production? thanks man....
Hi, Chuck. Well, I don't see Olsen having too many more three-TD games, and let's realize that two of those scores came in relative garbage time, as the Bears were throwing like crazy to catch up. But that first touchdown of his was a pretty good indication of why we all liked him so much coming into the season -- a very deep throw on a post, a couple guys hanging off him, but Olsen has the speed to run longer routes and the hands and size to make big catches. I don't think he suddenly vaults into the ranks of the elite TEs, but he's in that upper-middle class at his position, which makes him a borderline start a lot of weeks.
Are Randy Moss and Wes Welker the only 1-2 WR's that can be started on the same fantasy team every week?
Hi, Jason. Hm. Good question. Driver and Jennings, maybe? Hm. Maybe not. Fitzgerald and Boldin when Boldin isn't hurt? Ward and Holmes? Probably not. Yeah, those two might be the only clear-cut, Wayne/Harrison style duo....
*HELP FOR TONIGHT* Marshall or Ward...
Hi, Trey. I still have Marshall rated higher for this week, but I believe I may have been the only one among the ESPN rankers (you can still check out our Week 9 ranks if you search my archives on ESPN.com, I think). I continue to think Marshall's freakish ability and the lack of other really good targets makes him a great threat to score a touchdown. But yeah, I mean, as I mentioned, I got burned ranking him really highly last weekend....
Some buffoon in my league just dropped Westbrook. Clear and obvious #1 waiver claim on him, right?
Hi, Andrew. Yeah, I think you probably grab him no matter the league. I know he's an injury risk, but I think he'll be back next week, and when he's on, oh boy.
Will Chris Chambers continue to produce for the Chiefs?
Hi, Riggs. Well, I mean, it looks like he's a starter, so that's something. And the Chiefs may have found something when they went no-huddle; since they don't have a starting-quality RB on their roster any longer (and some could make the argument that with LJ, they never really did), it's possible they continue to throw throw throw. I'm skeptical of Chambers because I don't think he has the same speed and I've always disliked his hands. But is he worth adding as a flyer in a deeper league? Could be.
Chris, I'll be awake at 3am when the rosters unlock tending to my new puppy. Who do you believe is a better pickup at RB? Betts or Fargas?
Hi, Chris. Go new puppy! That's a good question, and without any substantive news on Portis' prognosis, I don't have a definite answer. My gut says Betts. But if Portis can suddenly start in Week 10, then that won't look so good.
Didn't Slaton prove last year he is an every down back? Sproles or Washington could never have that kind of season
Hi, Michael. Well, I guess the counter to that argument is that neither Washington nor Sproles was given the chance, because of extenuating circumstances, but I think the argument *could* be made that each of those two guys *should* be starters (y'know, if Washington had two unbroken legs). Hey, I'm with you, and I did say that I thought the Texans are best when Slaton's the top guy. But I won't be surprised if they draft a running back in April.
Chris, why was I non-existent last night? Why did Maclin get all the looks and balls thrown his way? I looked very frusterated on the sidelines, I need answers........
It's the nature of the fleet-footed, big-play receiver. Sometimes it's just not gonna go your way. The Cowboys put Terrence Newman on Jackson for a lot of the time last night, and Newman had one of his good games (he's certainly capable of having bad ones). Also, McNabb was really pressured a lot, and didn't have as much time to hang in and wait for Jackson's deeper routes often. I'm not that worried. It happens to big-time receivers....
Your thoughts on Brady's performance?
Hi, RJ. Good, not great. He continues to show good chemistry with Randy Moss, which is a must. But I still don't think he looked perfectly in synch. There were a few throws that he blew, and a few times where he seemed jumpier than I remember him in the pocket. But he was good, and let's face it, 2007 is an impossibly high standard. I think his best game of '09 is still in front of him, let's put it that way. (And yes, I'm including the TEN game -- I think *I* could've thrown at least 3 scores in that game.)
Chris, i must say i enjoy how you stick it to whiney losers blaming you for their mistakes as they talk irrationaly...What about Tenn D? are they fantasy relevant again?
Hi, Chuck. I haven't watched the full footage of TEN/SF yet, so I have to reserve judgment to some extent. From what I saw, Alex Smith was awfully generous in the second half, so the fact that the Titans have been able to clamp down on Smith and Garrard the past couple weeks doesn't send me over the moon. But clearly, they're getting better. And hey, they get the Bills next week. That could be a sleeper start right there.
What do you think about Crabtree's game? Who is this nobody getting two tds for the Niners? Is Crabtree gonna break out?!?!?
Hi, Ben. Poor Jason Hill! He was good at Washington St.! As I just mentioned, I haven't seen that TEN/SF game in its entirety, so I didn't see what happened when Smith threw Crabtree the ball much. I will say this: Josh Morgan replaced Isaac Bruce in the starting lineup, and Hill seemed to replace Bruce as the third receiver from what little I saw. I'm not sure if that means Bruce was hurt or benched. In general, if I were a Crabtree owner, I'd have been happier with Bruce in there, only because I didn't view him as much of a threat as the other two guys.
Rashard Jennings stole a TD from MJD yesterday. Anything to be concerned about going forward?
Hi, Dan. No, I don't think so. It was early in the game, it's true, but MJD had just made a nice run and Jennings was, from what I could tell, spelling him. It was interesting to see Jennings, who isn't known for his speed or his decisiveness, break a long-ish run, though. We'll have to see if that was fluke or trend for future seasons.
What do you think of Anquan Boldin mysteriously being deactivated? Looks like his time in Arizona is up after this season.
Hi, Mike. I don't think it was that mysterious -- I think the Cardinals just judged that they'd get the guy healthy for later in the year if they sat him down. He groused about it to the media, but I'm not buying conspiracy theories on that one. Will he be back? Well, I do think he's under contract for short money for one more season, so I don't see why the Cards would get rid of him. It's possible he holds out and demands a trade no matter what, but it seems to me he's already tried that. His best move is to play great and angle for a higher-dollars extension.
I see a 50/50 split coming for these guys, do you? AZ is more successful when they use both of these change-of-pace backs in tandem. I own them both, sucks for me right?
Yeah, Hightower does seem to continue to be the more valuable player, but it was nice to see Wells have a good game, and especially nice that most of it came in the first half, while the game was still in (relative) question. It does seem clear that for as long as the Cardinals aren't way behind, Wells will stay involved, but when they trail big, he rarely sees the field. The job really seems split right down the middle at the moment. Eesh.
Should the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to wear the horrendous Orange Creamcicle uniforms the remainder of the season? And what do you think of Rookie QB Josh Freeman the rest of the way?
Hi, Bruce. For some crummy-looking numbers, Freeman played pretty well in that game. The Packers seemed a bit disinterested at times on defense, and they really didn't seem ready for a guy who could extend plays with his feet the way Freeman did. I don't think he's much of a fantasy force this season, but how can you not be impressed by a rookie QB who breaks such a huge losing streak in his first career start?
Did Pierre Thomas FINALLY get back conrtol of the backfield yesterday?
Hi, Steve. Yeah, I think so. It's really the best two games combined that make you think Mike Bell is back to being a short-yardage option who could steal a couple scores, but that's about it. That blip on the radar screen in Miami a couple weeks ago seems like a long time ago.
Why are people talking as if Slaton had a good game? He averaged 2.8 ypc. Sure, it was a little higher than Moats, but not to the degree that you take notice. Both scored in the red zone so I'm not sure we really learned anything this week.
Hi, Rob. Honestly, if we learned anything, I think it's that Moats has kind of a stranglehold on first and second downs, which isn't good for fantasy owners....
Is Ronnie Brown done with having big fantasy days thanks to ricky's immergence as a solid back? Same with Ted Ginn Jr?
Hi, Zach. I don't think so. I think the Dolphins run enough for there to be room for both Brown and Williams to have good days; it just so happened that Williams was in on that Pat White option play, so he got the TD. Brown threw for a score, and frankly he's their best player, and needs the ball in his hands as much as possible. As for Ginn, I don't think Williams' emergence has anything to do with Ginn's lack of value. Ginn's hands take care of that all by themselves.
Hello Christopher, I was listening to a local radio show and you invited the audiance to add you on facebook? only problem was i couldnt find you... what should i search?
Hi, Chris. You can friend me at www.facebook.com/writerboy.
So, charles average 6 ypc yesterday. The chiefs gotta give him more of a chance against the raiders next week, right?
Hi, Bryan. Well, there's a chance that happens. I think a committee is more likely. Charles has had fumbling problems in the past, and he's not much of an inside grinder. When the Chiefs got close to the goal line, most of the time Charles wasn't in there, and Kolby Smith was. But yeah, I mean, it's a fluid situation.
Following up on Tampa Bay and Freeman-- Josh's performance yesterday can only help Cadillac Williams, right?
Hi, Frank. Sure, but the fact that Derrick Ward was in there early and often, and got the team's first couple red-zone looks, does *not* help Caddy one bit. To me, that RB situation feels like a frustrating one to avoid, though I've said all year that I do think the Bucs o-line has it in them to be a nice run-blocking unit again someday.
Do you think last weeks crappy game reduces his playing time?
Well, I think the fact that he's not really, skills-wise, a substitute for Leon Washington is what makes his playing time an issue. He's not a receiver, he's not quick in space, and that means he's better suited for spelling Thomas Jones on between-the-tackles runs. He'll play some, because the Jets like him, and that fumble will eventually be forgotten. But I don't think he's a 1-to-1 replacement for Washington by any stretch.
All right, gang. One more, and then I've got to get writing.....
You had Derrick Ward out of your top 100 and he scored...you're terrible!!! Wahh!...ok enough...Thoughts on Ryan Grant? His schedule is brutal from here on out and he isn't really a "red-zone guy"....but he does get all the carries on a great offense. Trade or keep?
Hi, Nick. Ha. I was the guy who kept Ward on my list *waaaaaaay* to long through the season's first month. Figures his breakout comes after I finally give up. Grant -- yeah, he's just kind of underwhelming, isn't he? The Packers throw a lot, and Grant isn't a bulldozer in the red zone. He's an RB2, but an unexciting one, and Ahman Green really is stealing some third-down looks (believe it or not). I don't worry too much about the schedule yet, but if someone wants to give you the moon for him, WR-wise, I would listen. You're right, though: he's on a good offense and he gets a starter's carries. That's better than a sharp stick in the eye.
OK, everyone. Thanks very much for coming. I know it can be frustrating not to get your question answered (we got 1,300-plus this morning), but I promise I do my best. Also, if you'd like to ask me a question on Facebook, feel free to friend me there: http://www.facebook.com/writerboy. I do my best to get to every question during the week, though I can't promise, obviously. There are a *lot* of them. Anyway, so again, thank you for coming. I hope you understand how lucky I feel I am to get to do this for a living, and it's because of your support and interest. Hopefully, by answering questions on Facebook, I give you some indication of how grateful I am to all of you. Have a great week.