Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Carnage Monday. Eesh. Lots of running backs got hurt yesterday, to say nothing of Bill Belichick's legend as a genius. Before we get going, I know this annoys some of you, but I think in general it's working, so I'm going to offer my usual disclaimer about questions for this chat: I'm not going to answer "Should I start XX over XX in Week 11?" because (a) Week 10 isn't over; (b) I haven't done Week 11 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 10 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 (and for those of you who get annoyed, I'm sorry), let's get to it....
Word is Ronnie Brown is out for Thursday. Can you confirm this?
Hi, Steve. From what I read this morning, it didn't sound as though the Dolphins had made it official, but for all intents and purposes, I think you can consider Brown out for Thursday against the Panthers. Three days for an ankle sprain just doesn't seem enough. I expect Ricky Williams to get the start, though X-rays were negative. Brown is having an MRI today.
Who fills in for Turner--Norwood or Snelling?
Hi, Al. Well, if yesterday was any indication, it'll be Snelling, who looked OK in relief, but obviously, Norwood wasn't active, so it probably *isn't* any indication. Norwood's been out for weeks, though, and I haven't heard any indication that he'll be back soon -- for the moment I'm assuming that if Turner can't play, it'll be Snelling who starts. Turner's X-rays were supposedly negative, too, but there were people around the locker room who were tossing around the term "high-ankle sprain." Not good.
Is Westbrook done for the year?
Hi, Scott. I don't think the Eagles will tell us that, even if it's true. The fact that Westbrook now has two concussions in two games is, obviously, horrible news, but for his fantasy owners and (more importantly) his health. I can't believe Westbrook would play for at least a couple of weeks, and even then, that seems like a stretch. But because of the nature of these things (they're not better until they're better, y'know?), I don't think Philly comes out and and says, "He's not playing again in '09." My guess, only.
Do the Bengals play it safe and rest Benson next week against OAK? Should Bernard Scott be added in all leagues?
Hi, Dave. Benson was telling reporters after the game that he'd be ready to go after his hip strain in Week 11. Obviously, just 12 hours later, the Bengals don't really know *what* they plan on doing. If he can play, I'm betting he goes, because "gimme" wins aren't really gimmes in the NFL (see also: GB @ TB). Scott does figure to be the beneficiary, though Brian Leonard played on third down and was active in the passing game once Benson was out. Scott is addable in most leagues, I'd say, though I wouldn't drop a good starting player for him. Of all the RB injuries, Benson's sounds like the least severe.
If Orton's injury keeps him out for any time, how bad does it get for Marshall? Sims looked REAL bad in relief.
Hi, Matt. Yeah, Simms didn't look great from what I saw, though I haven't watched that game front-to-back yet. The deep bomb to a double-covered receiver was ill-advised, that's for sure. I would say that yes, if Orton's out, it probably hurts the other Broncos skill position players' values a bit, though let's face it: Orton isn't exactly Roger Staubach. I wouldn't say it renders Marshall worthless regardless.
Mr. Harris: What should we make of Justin Forsett's performance yesterday? Is he worth picking up if you need some depth at RB?
Hi, J.B. Yeah, Forsett was pretty good, and yes, he should be added in all leagues. Julius Jones has broken ribs and, I believe, a punctured lung, and had to stay behind in Phoenix in the hospital. Doesn't sound like he'll be able to play soon. Forsett figures to be the starter, but also don't sleep on ex-Raider practice-squadder, Louis Rankin, who I thought looked awfully good in limited action yesterday. Forsett didn't do anything *not* to have the starting job next week, and there's no question he's the more valuable fantasy commodity right now. But I have to say: secretly, I think Rankin might be the better player.
Miles Austin had a bad game or is gonna continue declining?
Hi, Alex. If you really look at it, Austin's had *two* bad games in a row, though he saved his fantasy day against the Eagles with that late touchdown. Yeah, I mean, defenses are now focusing on him, and Tony Romo isn't forcing it in to him. Even when Austin made catches in the second half yesterday, the Packers were *not* going to let him make plays after the catch. As I've been writing for a month, Austin's a pretty good fantasy starter, but he's not top 10, despite what the other ESPN rankers keep saying. He's a WR2 in fantasy.
You think Beanie Wells outburst yesterday will be something we can count on every week with the Cards soft schedule to fill out the rest of the year?
Hi, Dan. No, you won't be able to count on it every week, and the schedule doesn't matter. The fact is that Wells *was* more involved in the game plan yesterday, but Hightower still got 15 touches compared to 17 for Wells -- this is a split job. And when it's a split job, there'll be some weeks where Hightower is the one who scores. Listen, I've been saying I think Wells is the superior player for like six weeks, but I've looked like a schmuck (pretty standard fare for me) until Week 10. So I'm not going to gloat here; there's a good chance Hightower is the one who scores twice next week.
So if you had to pick up one of the backup RBs that now have starting jobs (At least for now) who would it be? Forsett, Snelling, or McCoy?
Hi, Mike. Hm. I think I'd have to say McCoy. First, I actually do believe he's the best player of the three. And second, I would say that if I'm guessing, I'll guess that Westbrook is out longer than Turner and Jones. Not that any of 'em will play in Week 11, or maybe even Week 12. It's all very new and fluid. But Westbrook's is the one injury that makes me say, "Man, they don't want to rush that guy."
What's up with Pierre Thomas losing so many carries, is this going to continue? and what's your Magic 8 Ball say about Forsett & J.Charles the rest of the year...either gonna be worth starting over Benson, Forte, Thomas, or LT?
Hi, Darren. Oh, I don't think Thomas really "lost" that many carries. Reggie Bush got what's mostly his normal production, touches-wise, but he's just on fire in terms of the red zone, and he broke that one other long one, making it look like he's intruding upon Thomas's job. I don't think he is. I mean, yes, every TD Bush scores, it's one that Thomas *doesn't* score, and yes, given Bush's excellence close to the goal line lately, I think we (I!) need to reconsider where I'm ranking him each week. But I still don't think there's much doubt that Thomas will wind up being the more valuable guy from now 'til the end of the year.
Ha. Yeah, I mean, you'd think this is the windfall LJ's agent needed. The problem is that he comes with *so* much baggage, I don't know that anyone will be willing to take a chance. If it's me, if I'm an NFL GM, I don't want any part of him. Negative publicity, negative attitude and let's face it: he just didn't look very good, albeit behind a not-good KC o-line. We'll see. It only takes one, right?
Hey Chris, I was wondering if you think CJ will continue to put up his double digit goodness with next week's match up against an allegedly poor Houston run defense...also, which of the back up RB's would be the best pick up do you think, I'm leaning towards forsett....but I want to know what you think. Thanks!
Hi, Miguel. Well, Houston's run defense has actually been very good over the past five or six weeks, but we remember the last time the Titans played the Texans -- CJ went off. (New (to me) nickname for Chris Johnson, reported by Vince Young at yesterday's post-game presser: "Sonic the Hedgehog." How awesome is that!?) Don't bench him no matter what, obviously.
how is Clinton Portis' injury? L Betts did a pretty good job against the DEN defense.
Yeah, Lee, that was a bad call on my part: I saw Rock Cartwright get three goal-line carries in Week 9, and was fooled into thinking he'd be the guy on the goal line again yesterday. Didn't work out that way. Betts eclipses 100 yards and gets the game-winner...good stuff. After seeing what happened to Westbrook, you'd have to imagine the Redskins want to be pretty cautious with Portis. Betts looks like a safe starter for the next couple weeks at least....but Jim Zorn did come out and say there's no way in the world he supplants Portis once Portis is healthy.
What happened to Marques Colston and Vincent Jackson last night?
Hi, Diego. Colston had another crummy game, plus had what could've been a killer fumble lunging for a touchdown, which I think in some formats actually made him a negative-points fantasy scorer. Jackson was just doubled with a deep safety all day, and the Chargers never really got to him. I'm not all that concerned about either guy, really, and Jackson has earned more than one mulligan. But it would be nice to see Colston piece together a good one after two stinkers in a row.
McFadden got 4 stinking touches yesterday (and couldn't even muster up 3 yds per). Do you see that increasing at all, making him at least flex worthy?
Well, Mendenhall got 14 touches, not four, but I'm assuming that's what you meant. Yeah, I mean, the Steelers were the ones who sort of abandoned the run against the Bengals, which is about exactly the opposite of what you'd have expected before the season started. Cincy's tough. I had them as a top D this weekend, and that turned out to be a good call. As for Mendenhall -- he'll be all right. Heck, 14 touches is really *high* for some backs these days....
Watched ESPN chat all morning. Kept hearing Kolby Smith! Kolby Smith! Kolby Smith! Well, Kolby Smith. (no exclamation point) What's the deal?
Hi, Tom. Well, that wasn't me chatting -- sorry about that. Yeah, I dunno, I guess someone believed the hype, because Todd Haley did spend the week saying how he thought Smith looked great against Jacksonville and could work his way into the starting gig. For me, what that meant was: stay away from *all* the Chiefs rushers, even against the piss-poor OAK rush defense, and that wound up being a bad call, too, because Jamaal Charles went off, and now looks like the lead dog there. It won't always be so easy (because the Chiefs don't get to play the Raiders again), and Smith probably *will* get involved again at some point. But yeah, I wasn't all over Smith, but I was fooled to the point where I didn't endorse Charles with full throat, and now I wish I had.
Chris - I think that Tim meant Darren Mcfadden (like he wrote), not Mendenhall
Hi, Eric. Doh. Thanks. And sorry Tim. I guess I saw "McFadden" and read "Mendenhall." OK, so now let me actually get to your question. Yeah, I guess that one didn't shock me as much -- once the weekend rolled around, reading the Raiders beat reporters it really sounded like McFadden would be eased in gradually, and I think that's what we saw. Michael Bush's big numbers yesterday were something of a mirage -- he had a huge run on the first possession (I believe), and that was the bulk of his carries. Fargas is going to be the starter for now, it seems, but I have to believe that as the Raiders look to the future (and there's no certainty that JaMarcus Russell will start next week), they're going to want to look more at Run-DMC. I wouldn't dump him just yet. (And sorry again for screwing up this question the first time I tried to answer.)
Is Antonio Gates no longer a #1 TE? Only 2td's this year.
Hi, Brian. Well, I think you make the argument that he's not *the* #1 tight end. But no, I still think he's a fantasy starter. He had eight targets yesterday; nobody else in San Diego even had four. Touchdowns come and touchdowns go, but targets are eternal. (That should be on a bumper sticker.) I would guess that he'll score a few more before the season ends.
I would like to thank MJD for the kneel-down, and P Thomas for, well, nothing at all. Probably cost me a run at the playoffs. Guess I'll move on to the Bass Fishing Challenge...
Hi, Steve. Funny thing about MJD's unselfish kneel-down at the end against the Jets was that after the game, he actually apologized to his fantasy football owners (and he's one of them). I met MJD last year up at ESPN, briefly, and besides being one tiny dude (height wise, not width wise), he seemed really nice. And now that we know he gets fantasy? How much do we love him?
Hey Chris, what time does the Big Rotowski go up... I've got to decide on an Austin for Grant trade and I need to read the scripture!!! Thanks!
Hi, Mike. It should be up tomorrow early in the afternoon, I think. I'll write it this afternoon and the editors will mess with it tomorrow morning...I have a bunch of games to watch first, though.
All I ever seem to read is that I'm a better RB than LT... so how come he's still getting the carries?In all seriousness, after looking pretty good yesterday, how do you feel about LT going forward?
Yeah, I just watched SD/PHI this morning, and I really was left with the impression that Tomlinson has a little something left in the tank after all. His second TD (I think it was the second one) showed some serious burst through a not-all-that-big hole...it wasn't just some one-yard fall-in the way the first one was. I still think we're only seeing that intermittently from LT, but I think that's the reason you don't drop starting running backs (I believe there was at least one person on ESPN.com telling you to drop him last week). Don't overreact to the bad games, and don't overreact to this good one. The truth is in the middle: he's not an elite player any longer, but there are going to be some good games mixed in....
You were high on Dwayne Bowe in week 10...he was OK against Oakland. Is he an WR1 for the rest of the year?
Hi, Jason. Double-digit targets again for Bowe, making it (I believe) four out of the last five weeks. Pretty good stuff from him, and if he gets in the end zone last week even once in place of Chris bleepin' Chambers, then there'd be less question about him. Yeah, I think Bowe continues to be a buy-low -- I was on a radio hit this weekend, and they were *shocked* that I would consider recommending him. Wow. I think he's a freak. Is he a top-10 guy? Mm, let's say he's in the 11-20 range, so we don't have to have a pitched battle over it. The Chiefs really aren't very good. But yeah, I view Bowe as a fantasy starter most weeks.
I want to see my name in the #1 spot at RB in tomorrow's rankings, got it!!!
Ha. Keep waiting, Sonic. There's this dude in purple who's got a long-term lease on the spot. But in the end, who cares if CJ's #1 or
Lee Evans....the new #1 in Buffalo? Worth starting the rest of the way?
Hi, Amanda. Well, T.O. made some noise (both on the field an the sidelines) in that game yesterday, too, and if he'd been able to slide into the end zone on that one bomb he caught, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation. I guess yeah, Evans does seem to be a good red-zone target right now, maybe because opposing defenses are giving T.O. more respect, but honestly, I'm not sure I can see starting either of those guys no matter what every week, not with Trent Edwards throwing it. He's so...blah.
Jason Avant?!?! 8 catches for 154 yards?? Will this continue?
Hi, Keegan. Yeah, how about that? I just watched that game: it was crazy. Avant all day. The only way I can explain it is that the Chargers seemed to be hell-bent on not letting Maclin and DeSean Jackson get deep, so the underneath-ish stuff was wide open. Except a few of those catches weren't underneath at all. Avant just had a sick game. I think it would be mighty tough to rely on it happening again -- percentages say that the bigger names will step back up into the limelight. But in a deeper league, do I mind taking a flyer and sticking Avant on my bench for a week or two? No.
If you listened to the "Fantasy Focus" podcast, you'd know that MJD was a fantasy guy...
Ah, yes, Mike. There's my problem right there. ;-)
Start the Bengals D every week regardless of matchup?
Hi, Andrew. I'm not going to say regardless. There are offenses out there that scare the bejezeesus out of fantasy owners. But yeah, I think in an average week, where they're not playing a juggernaut, I think they're a good start. The Steelers looked like a good matchup to me, because they give up a lot of sacks and turnovers, and defensive touchdowns, too. So that one didn't scare me. The Colts would, though. (Not that they play, at least not in the regular season...)
Did yesterdays performance by Steve Smith change your opinion of him at all?
Hi, Corey. Nope. It's the same -- and I believe I've been the highest on Smith of anyone at ESPN all year. He's the latter-day Santana Moss (before Moss started being the latter-day Peter Warrick): boom or bust, which is just the nature of being in that offense. They're not letting Jake Delhomme beat them by throwing very much. So Smith has to take what he can get. Yesterday it was two short scores. Thursday night? Hard to say.
I have both Ronnie and Turner....Any chance my season isn't ruined? Thanks!
Hi, Rob. Is there a chance? Sure. We could get good ankle news on each guy in the next day or two. But I think you're going to suffer for at least a little while.....
Ugh, Matt Ryan is killing me!! Will he be a solid QB2 the rest of the year??
Hi, CJ. Yeah, Ryan's been struggling for a month, and yesterday was no different. The Falcons move the ball, and Ryan occasionally looks very good, but there's something going on with him. He's not getting an undue amount of pressure from what I can tell, and he's got receivers open. He hits 'em most of the time. But it seems like there are a few big spots every game where a play's there for him to make, and he yanks the throw. I dunno what it is. It's disappointing. Is he a QB2? Well, yeah, of course. But that's damning with faint praise. He was supposed to be a low-level QB1.....
Hey Chris,Kevin Faulk looked like the main guy for NE last night (save an unfortunate bobble). I know the NE RB situation is always a mystery, but how do you see this working out in the near future?
Hi, JC. I'm not going so far as to say that Faulk was the main dude -- they gave it to him out of that shotgun formation, a little inside draw, on all but like one or two of his carries, and that's obviously a play they decided they loved against the Colts, but they haven't run it all that much this year otherwise. It still looked to me like Maroney was the lead guy, but you got what you always get from him: inconsistency. He got lucky yet again with another 1-yard score, but when it came time to punch in what might've been the clincher, he fumbled into the Colts' end zone. And he had, what, 31 yards on 13 carries? He stinks. Sammy Morris has a chance to come back this week, and if he does, the muddle starts all over again, and I'd probably rather have Morris over any of the rest of 'em.
Sell high on me after a sunday night game where I got 2 TDs? What calibur WR could my owners get for me?
Well, I mean, I don't know "high" you'd be able to sell him. I guess he's been a bit of a touchdown-maker in like three of his past four games, so sure, if you could get a top 10 wideout for him, I'd do that in a heartbeat. It seems to me they were working Donald Brown back in as slowly as they could (until everyone else got hurt last night), and he didn't look like he was in game shape. But eventually, I think we'll go back to the 2/3rds 1/3rd split from earlier in the year. Addai is an OK RB2 -- if you could get a WR1 for him and you can spare the RB? I'd consider that.
Chris, I love your stuff, but I have to question your consistently low rankings of medocire fantasy defenses with great home matchups (Bears vs Browns, Seattle vs Detroit, Tenn vs Buff, etc.). Do you now change your stance somewhat on this? (I dona??t think Detroit vs Clev qualifies because Detroit's so bad). Thanks.
Hi, Ben. Good call on each of those three, one from each of the past three weeks. The Bears had a great day over the Browns, period, no excuses, that was a bad call. But the Seahawks were lucky to post a big day against the Lions -- they got down huge early, and had defensive TDs at the end to clinch it. Same with the Titans yesterday against the Bills. Hey, it was a bad call, but two returns for touchdown in garbage time? That doesn't happen often enough that I want to count on it, y'know? And the truth is that the numbers say the Bills offense *wasn't* giving up much in the way of fantasy points to opposing defenses. Well, until yesterday. Heh. Yeah, I mean, three bad calls. But I still think the underlying logic and stats made them OK calls, as incorrect as they turned out to be. But yeah, thanks for helping keep me honest, Ben.
I realize an ego is needed for your job, but I've noticed that no other fantasy analyst, ESPN or otherwise, lauds their own good calls as much as you do. I can't open up a "Breakdown" without reading about how great your calls were last week numerous times....meanwhile things like "Cutler is a fine play this week" get forgotten. Please understand that you cover EVERY player EVERY week...you will get a lot of calls right by default.
Hi, Aaron. Here's what you should do: start an Excel spreadsheet. Across the top, put every single fantasy writer, on every site. Then on the left-hand side, put the date, every day, from now until, say, 2020. Then put an 'X' every time I laud my own good call, and everyone else lauds their own good calls. Do a statistical regression based on word count. Figure out how many lauds-per-word each writer has. Then, in December of 2020, get back to me on the result. Alternately, you could calm down. If you don't like the Breakdown or the way I write it, what the heck are you doing reading it?
Big Ben cost me the week. Has his hot hand finally cooled off?
I don't think so, Jeff. He still threw it 40 times; he was just going against an awfully good, maturing secondary that's proven its mettle over the past several weeks against some very good signal-callers. I expect to see him bounce back.
Will slaton regain his starting position?
Hi, Andrew. Tough to say after a bye week -- the returns were pretty mixed on Ryan Moats' start in Indy last week, and Slaton did convert on the goal line. If I'm making a guess (because anyone not inside that Houston coaches' room is making a guess), I think it'll continue to be a split job....
Don't feel like you need to post the nerds' rants on here.
Oh, they're fun. It's fine. Aaron sounds like a smart guy, and he has his opinion. I feel flattered he thinks I'm such an egomaniac, yet continues to be a reader and chat participant.
Hey Chris. I like breakdown. Some people are happiest when they have something to complain about. Will this be the week you look at playoff match ups when doing the rest of the year ranks? I love Reggie Wayne but I cant stop worrying about him sitting in week 16. That last second W last night might give the Colts 3 weeks off! (week 16, 17 and bye week)
Hi, Kyle. I can understand the worry, but I don't think Week 16 is going to be the problem. Week 17, though? Yep. If Coach Caldwell learned at the foot of Coach Dungy, then you can bet that last week is going to be a Sorgi festival. I did start looking at remaining schedules in general for the Big Rotowski last weekend, but yeah, I didn't make a big push to look particularly at *playoff* schedules. It's a delicate balance -- some folks need the rest of the regular season weighed just as heavily, to *make* the playoffs. But there's no question, the Colts' ranks will be affected more and more as we go forward by the impending sit-fest.
All right, everyone -- one more, then it's back to the game footage for me....
Should i not be worried about AP sitting in the final weeks because Minnesota is likely to battle New Orleans the entire way for home field advantage throughout?
Hi, Giggs. Yeah, that's a very good point. I don't think anyone in the NFC shapes up at the moment as a team who'll obviously sit a bunch of players. And let's face it: the '07 Giants showed us that sitting guys isn't necessarily the path to glory. In a way, I think the Colts are sort of unnecessarily fanatical about this (and it really will be interesting to see what Jim Caldwell does). Right now, I'm not downgrading Peterson because of that possibility.
All right, everyone. Thanks very much for coming. I know it's frustrating when you ask and re-ask a question and I callously refuse to answer, but there are over a thousand questions in an hour, and I promise I go as fast as I can. I've been using my spare time to answer questions on Facebook -- so if you didn't get your question answered, friend me at: http://www.facebook.com/writerboy, and ask me there (though Mondays tend to be my worst day for answering on time). It's my way to try and give back and show my appreciation for all of you -- I have a great job, I'm really lucky, and it's really because of you and your interest. So thank you, feel free to ask me Facebook questions, and I'll have the Big Rotowski ranks out tomorrow early afternoon. Have a great week.