Good afternoon, everyone. We'll be going from 3:30 to 4:30-ish today, and discussing fantasy football -- so much news to get to, including the upcoming NFL Draft. So let's get to the first question....
With Holmes gone, does the value of Mendenhall go up and your guess on what happens to Big Ben. Thanks.
Hi, Juan. Yeah, I think Mendenhall's value might nudge up a little bit. The fewer aerial weapons the Steelers have, the more likely they are to try and establish Mendenhall, and really, there just aren't any other options behind him in the Steelers backfield. I think he's a top-10 running back option right now -- I have him at No. 9. As for Roethlisberger, I don't think he takes a giant hit with Holmes gone to the Jets. Mike Wallace is a good deep threat, and Bruce Arians wants to throw as much as he can. There's certainly a chance Big Ben could see himself suspended for a game by the Steelers for his off-field troubles, but that's really the only thing I see detracting from top-10 quarterback value.
Chris! Great to talk football in April! Here's my question:Keeper League, my RB's currently are: CJ, Ronnie Brown, Jacobs, and Cadillac. Do you believe that Ronnie & Jacobs are going to have decent bounce back years for either of them (or Caddy) to fill my RB2 role??
Hi, Chris. Well, obviously to some extent it matters how big your league is. I like Brown more than I do Jacobs for 2010 -- I have him No. 18 (and Jacobs No. 23) among running backs, though clearly we're talking about fluid situations that can be changed a lot by the draft. As for Cadillac, Derrick Ward was such a disappointment in '09 (he averaged just 1.5 yards after contact), for the moment I have to believe we're looking at Caddy as the starter. The problem is: Tampa's o-line just didn't come together last year like I thought it might. I would have him third on that list of three....
Would you consider drafting Ricky Williams in the 6-8th rounds a safer pick than drafting Ronnie Brown in the 4-5th rounds?
Hi, Zeef. Unfortunately, neither of this Dolphins RBs would fit my definition of "safe" right now. Williams is one of only four players since 1985 to post a 1,000-yard season after age 32 (in other words: he's old), and Brown is of course coming off Lisfranc surgery. I think Williams represents significantly better value than Brown in this scenario -- which of course is a bit different from saying he's "safe." But I do think this is a split job again.
How much of a hit did LT put on Shone greene's value this year?
Hi, Pat. I don't think that much, really. I have Greene at No. 13 on my list of running backs right now -- and yes, I dropped him a couple spots when the Jets signed Tomlinson. But that's mostly because I worry that LDT could wind up being a short-yardage TD vulture. Not that Tomlinson is *better* than Greene on the goal line right now (he's not). But it would be a way for the Jets to save some wear and tear on Greene. But I don't think Tomlinson generates a significant or consistent amount of yardage from week to week this year.
Besides Andre Johnson, are they any other recievers you should draft in the 1st round?
Hi, Gary. I don't think so, no. Right now my No. 2 receiver is Randy Moss, and depending on how the first round goes, if you're picking toward the very end, I suppose I could see taking him instead of, for example, Frank Gore or Cedric Benson, who certainly come with their own headaches. But right now I would say that in my overall top 10, I only have A. Johnson and Brees as non-RBs...
Who you taking AP or CJ? I think AP bounces back!
Hi, Billy. I actually am in the minority at ESPN Fantasy -- I have Peterson as my No. 1 runner. I know this is an unpopular stance, and it's definitely not borne from not liking or respecting Chris Johnson -- I was seriously on board with him at the beginning of last year. But if I have the first pick, I want the surer thing, and I think AP gives you that. He doesn't need to be fantasy's top scorer to be a safe, high-output guy. I'm actually going to have a piece online in the next month or so where I go into depth about this choice, where I worry about Johnson's size (he's really small) and the fraction of his fantasy points that come from breakaway runs, and whether that's likely to repeat.
2010 sleeper Beanie Wells?
Hi, Victor. I don't know that I could even call him a sleeper. I think he's the clear starter in Arizona, and in a year with no Kurt Warner, I'm looking at the Cardinals getting a lot more balanced. I have Wells at No. 11 among fantasy rushers right now.
True or False: Matt Forte will rebound big and have a monster year in Chicago?
Hi, QPD. I guess I'll say "false." Before the Bears signed Chester Taylor, I might've been willing to go there with you, and I suppose it could still work out in Forte's favor. But a lot of things would have to go right. Mike Martz is going to want to throw, and it's true that he throws to the RBs, too, but Taylor is as good a receiver as Forte is. And there are still questions on that offensive line. I have Forte at No. 25 and Taylor at No. 35 on my running back list at the moment.
With so many teams good QB's out there, do you think I shouldn't even think about drafting a QB until the 4th round?
Hi, Kalip. Well, I don't think I can unilaterally tell you exactly when to draft a quarterback, but yeah, my strategy is regularly to wait. The guys we think are sure things (see also: Brady, Tom, 2009) don't always work out that way. The closest thing is Drew Brees, and to be honest if I'm picking 9th or 10th and all RBs have gone off the board, I can see taking Brees. But yes, otherwise, I agree -- QBs tend to be commodities (Eli Manning threw for 4,000 yards last year!) and you're safe waiting.
give me your top 5 RB's next season? Thanks!
Hi, Jimmy. My personal list goes: (1) Peterson; (2) Chris Johnson; (3) Maurice Jones-Drew; (4) Ray Rice; (5) Steven Jackson.
What seems like a reasonable expectation for Cedric Benson this year?
Hi, Brian. I haven't actually done our projections yet (that comes this week), but unbelievably Benson is verging on first-round value. He's got a borderline great offensive line, and an offensive game plan that really wants to run. He did get hurt last year, and there's always the chance of a one-year-wonder syndrome, but I think we're probably looking at 1,200 yards and 8-10 touchdowns.
Keeper Question!! I've determined that giving up the 10th overall is good enough to keep AJ and my 14th rounder for Jamaal Charles. Who is my third (10-team, 1/2 PPR): Schaub (4th round), Beanie Wells (7th), or Sidney Rice (12th)? Also have Crabtree (15th)...
Hi, Big Mike. As much as I like Schaub, I have to believe you can probably get him or his rough equivalent about in the same spot. For me, it's Wells or Rice. And you've already got Johnson. So I think maybe Beanie. I think I'm more bullish than most on Beanie right now, though.
Shocked that you would take AP over CJ with AP's struggles last year. Fumbling aside, with the addition of Favre and loss of Birk, I thought AP's numbers would dip. Also where do you rank your top NY Jets RB? Shonn Greene might have a stellar year.
Hi, Shane. I get that a lot. I don't hate Johnson, by any stretch. No question, Peterson's YPC have gone down in three straight seasons, and the postseason fumbles weren't good. But if this is a "struggling" season, I'll take it: 1,383 yards and 18 touchdowns? My thing about Johnson is that he's so small, and he led the NFL in touches last year. If he breaks slightly fewer ridiculously long scores, he really loses value. With Chester Taylor gone from Minny, I don't see any way Peterson doesn't at least average a touchdown per game.... (And as for Greene, I have him 13th among RBs right now.)
Now that TD Vulture Mike Bell is gone, do I take Pierre Thomas in the 2nd round?
Hi, Hank. The thing is, the Saints were last seen interviewing Jamal Lewis (no joke), so I have to believe they're still out there in the market for another short-yardage guy. I think it's a shame, because I think Frenchy could handle that job fine. But it seems clear they're trying to keep him healthy by not having him take a pounding in short yardage. I have Thomas No. 19 among RBs, under the assumption they either sign or draft a bruiser to take the short carries.
Is Michael Turner still a 1st round worthy RB?
Hi, Frank. Yes, I think so. His ankle should be healed and ready to go for 2010, and I don't think it's fair to call him injury prone. There's risk associated with him (hey, there's risk associated with everyone) mainly because he does nothing in the receiving game, so he really has to rack up huge rushing yards totals and touchdowns to be worth that first pick. But he was on his way to doing it for a second straight year last season. So I think he's a first-rounder still, yes.
Over or Under 5 TDs this year for LT?
Hi, Joe. I'm going to go under, but I don't feel strongly about it. That number actually seems about right.
Over or Under 7 TDs for Bralyon Edwards?
Hi, Chancey. Under under under. I think Braylon got a strong message when Santonio Holmes got traded there. They basically have the same skills, except Holmes has better hands. Obviously, Edwards gets a chance to establish himself in the first month, but I don't think he reaches that many scores.
What will Devin Aromashodu do this year?
Hi, Eric. Wish I could say definitively. It would appear that *someone* is going to benefit from the Martz/Cutler combo, and Aromashodu is the guy Cutler really fell in love with at the end of last season, and he's got the best size/speed combo of an admittedly deep and varied receiver group. Right now, he's my guess as the Bears' leading receiver. But that's subject to big-time change.
Which College Football player would be a perfect fit for the New York Giants?
Hi, Chris. If I'm a Giants fan, I'm hoping Rolando McClain lasts until their first pick. They really need an inside linebacker, and McClain would be a fine fit to step in and help right away....
Where do you think that Felix Jones should land in the Draft?
Hi, Frank. I do think Jones will wind up being the Cowboys' most valuable fantasy back, and we've also heard rumors that it's possible Marion Barber could be on the move before or just after the draft. But I don't think the Cowboys would get a ton for him, and I've assumed for the moment he'll stick around. That makes the Dallas backfield a three-headed beast again, which means none of them are fantasy studs. I have Jones 30th among RBs right now....
What do you think of McNabb's value post-trade? Just don't see the same weapons in DC that he had in Philly.
Hi, Clay. I'm with you: I think McNabb's value drops a bit. I had him 11th among quarterbacks before the trade, and have him 15th now. The weapons are lesser, it's true, and the offensive line is going to get him hit a lot, even if the Redskins take Russell Okung in the first round....
later round qb: kolb and upside, or cutler and bounce-back?
Hi, Joey. I have those guys at No. 13 and No. 14 on my quarterback list right now, with Kolb one spot higher. Hey, I think it's fair to argue that Cutler has just as much upside as Kolb does -- but he probably has as much or more downside, too, given his execrable performance last year. The worry with Kolb, of course, is that if Vick sticks around Philly (not convinced of that), Kolb could conceivably get benched....
Will Eli Manning finish a top 10 fantasy qb this year?
Hi, Terry. I have him at No. 10 right now, so I'll say yes, though obviously it's borderline. What's really interesting for the Giants, I think, is that the offensive line really took a downturn last year -- it seemed to get old very fast, and the run blocking just wasn't there any longer. I find it hard to believe it'll simply return all of a sudden, which will put Eli in a position of needing to throw as much as last year. So yeah, I'm relatively bullish on him and his young receiving corps.
Where should I draft Vince Young? With CJ behind him I think he will get the time he needs to be effective. Im thinking 5th round pick for VY? Agree?
Hi, Buddy. I have VY as my No. 16 quarterback for fantasy right now, so I'm thinking that's a bit high for him. Listen, we know he's got skills. And I think the Titans are going to go out of their way to get more balanced (i.e., focus a little bit less on CJ2K) this year. Love Kenny Britt's ability. But Vince had a 58.4 completion percentage last year and eclipsed 17 completions exactly twice last season. I'm having a hard time trusting him as my fantasy starter.
Do you still believe in Brandon Jacobs? I do, but I am not touching him until the 3rd round. Agree?
Hi, Tommy. Well, I think that's probably where you have to take him to get him. As I said earlier, I have Jacobs at my No. 23 running back spot. I just mentioned that I'm worried about that Giants o-line, and of course, with Jacobs the big worry is that he takes such a pounding, and doesn't have a healthy season since he's taken over for Tiki as the starter. I don't mind him as a high-upside guy in the, say, fourth round, I guess. But realize you can get next to nothing out of the guy....
I took Jon Stewart in the 6th last year. Is that keep worthy? I only get two and I really like Andre Johnson in the 2nd and Celek in the 12th
Hi, Mike. Yeah, I like Stewart a lot -- I think he and DeAngelo Williams are going to split that job, and they'd better the heck be able to run it, because I don't see Matt Moore suddenly turning into a star right away. I know Celek in the 12th is crazy value, but he's still a tight end, and there are a *lot* of good tight ends. You won't get one *that* late, but you'll get one. I probably would keep Stewart and Johnson.
Great to see you back Chris. Where does Boldin rank for you? I like him better in Baltimore but I actually think Flacco is the one taking the bigger jump with his addition. Thoughts?
Hi, Cory. Yeah, I've been around -- just have been writing the magazine's player profiles for a month or whatever. Nice to come up for air. I have Boldin as my No. 17 wideout, and I have Flacco at No. 11 among quarterbacks. I think it's a symbiotic situation -- each guy helps the other. The Ravens are suddenly very deep at receiver, which is good for Flacco, but Donte' Stallworth is really the only guy there who is going to stretch the field and take advantage of Flacco's big arm. There's a lot of overlap between Boldin and Derrick Mason, and that's why I think you have to be a little restrained about Boldin (that, and he's a bit injury prone). Remember also that Ray Rice led RBs in targets and receptions last year, so there are going to be a few frustrating weeks for Boldin owners.
Call me crazy but I think Hines Ward has a very good year this year. Im thinking 1000 yrds and 9 tds? Agree?
Hi, Vance. With Ward it's going to be about health again. He battled a bad hammy last season and had his second-best yardage total and tied for his second-best receptions total of his storied career. If he's healthy, there's no reason whatsoever he wouldn't eclipse 1,000 yards. As for the 9 touchdowns? Well, that'd be high. But without Holmes around, it's certainly possible. I have Ward at No. 16 on my receiver list at the moment (and Mike Wallace at No. 20).
Where do you see J.Charles ranking and what will his production look like now that T.Jones is in town?
Hi, Mike. Yeah, what a bummer for Charles owners. Things were a lot more straightforward for him before Thomas Jones signed. I think Charles is still the lead back, but Jones isn't any mere short-yardage guy right now...he's coming off back-to-back 1,300-yard seasons, and was fourth in the NFL in red-zone carries last year. Even if it's a 70-30 split, that hurts Charles. I have him 14th among RBs, and Jones 31st. Without Jones around, I had Charles in my top 10.
hahahahah, Kolb benched for Vick? That was a joke right? Come on...
Just wait, Corey. One bad game, and the Philly boo birds will be clamoring for it. (Which is a big reason the Eagles may be motivated to move Vick before the season.)
Please help!!!! Who is the man in the Tampa backfield? Is it williams or the guy the brought in from the giants?
Hi, Jerry. As I mentioned earlier, I think it's probably still Williams at the moment -- Derrick Ward was really disappointing in his first season as a Buc. But I can see the roles being reversed if and when Ward starts playing better. Frankly, though, I don't want either one of these guys. I don't think I'd put either in my top 40 running backs right now, fantasy-wise.
Would you rather have Felix Jones in your flex or Fitzgerald and Colston as your WRs. I can only keep 2.
Hi, John. If you're not keeping each player in a certain round, and just allowed to keep a certain number of players, yeah, I think you keep the two receivers. I like Jones a lot, but I'd like him more with no Marion Barber around.
I'm curious about M.Austin. Does he repeat last years numbers? Where do you have him ranked?
Hi, Mike. Yeah, I'm curious, too. I ranked him No. 6 among receivers, which, if you know my work at all, is like exactly the *opposite* of the kind of thing I usually do. I hate elevating one-year wonders to elite levels, because you're paying for the absolute best they've ever done, which is scary. But so is Austin's ability. I know defenses will be scheming to stop him. But I saw so many cases later in the year, after Austin wasn't a secret any longer, where they hit him on a short slant and he took it a long way. I just don't know that there's a way to double-team your way out of such problems. He's so fast....
Chris - great to talk Football today!! My main keeper league team's receiving core is Fitz, Ocho, Carolina Steve, and Bowe. Fairly deep IMO - but I'm considering trading up for a guy like AJ or Moss, packiaging 2 WR's + something else. Good move, or keep the depth for now??
Hi, Chris. It's tough to answer a question like that definitively, since you've got a much better sense of the lay of the land in your league than I ever will. In principle, I do like the idea of trading a couple guys to get an elite guy, especially if one of the guys you're giving away is Bowe, whom I feel awfully burned by after his issues last year. He's a knucklehead. But yeah, I mean, clearly, when you're at the elite levels of the position, to some extent you're splitting hairs. I can't guarantee Fitz won't go out there and just be his usually studly self again this year. I'm worried about Leinart, but I'm ready to be proven wrong....
Hi Chris. Must keep 4. The easy: Gore, SJax, Fitzgerald. Now for the hard: Colston, Felix Jones or Barber.
Hi, John. I think it's Colston, because of the Jones/Barber split.
Any love for Devin Thomas or Santana Moss now that Mcnabb is here?
Hi, Harold. More love for Moss than Thomas. I bumped Moss way up to No. 28 on my receiver list (he was languishing in the 40s), and I do put Thomas among the group of legit deeper sleepers for '10, but we just haven't seen enough from the kid. Malcolm Kelly is still there, and training camp hero Marko Mitchell may get some looks, too. I think Moss is the only guy guaranteed of an uptick in production.
In a PPR league who would you want with a first pick: Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson?
Hi, Christopher. Good question, and I think I have to say that I'm still with Peterson, because I think both guys are a fine receivers who get roughly the same number of looks. Johnson had 50 receptions to Peterson's 43 last year, and with no Taylor around in Minny, that number should go higher for All Day.
You think Im going to bench our future QB because of our fans? Do you even know who we are as a team?
Well, if Kolb is awful, I wouldn't put it past Reid to try it. I remember a day in Baltimore a couple seasons ago when Mr. Reid grew just that desperate. As I say, I don't think the Eagles *want* to do this, which is why I think it makes sense that they deal Vick, to remove the media-storm temptation....
won my league last year on the backs of Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Aaron Rodgers, and Randy Moss...get to keep two for next season...it has to be Johnson and Rice yes?
Hi, Kelly. Yes, I think you're right on the nose. For as much as I have some niggling doubts about Johnson for this season, he's an unbelievable talent. He and Rice have to be your guys, I think.
Are you buying the Breaston/Early Docet hype? Are they worth 5th/6th round picks this year?
Hi, Pablo. Sure, I think you have to consider each guy a top-40 fantasy receiver, and whoever wins the starting job in camp (for the moment, I've assumed it's Breaston)probably belongs in the top 25 of what should at least continue to be a pass-friendly attack, if not quite the unbalanced attack it's been over the past few seasons. The issue, of course, is that Matt Leinart doesn't have great accuracy, and tends to get his receivers hurt. If he finds some new, more accurate aspect to his game, there could be great value here.
Over/Under on Jay Cutler: 30 tds 19 ints 4000 yards
Hi, Brandon. I haven't done our projections yet, but I'm going to say under on the TDs and INTs, and over (if only slightly over) on the yardage.
Value question. M.S.W $9, H.Ward $5, D.Hester $5. 100 cap. Which do you like?
Hi, Mike. Oh, heavens, not Hester. True, he could wind up being Martz's new Az Hakim, but I'm not taking that chance, not when Ward costs the same amount. I think Ward is the best value on this list.
Chris, been thinking offensive line play is FAR more important in FF than it's given credit for. I remember Scouts, Inc. having O-Line rankings last season but I can't remember much from the "experts" (could be wrong). Has there been any thought on how to better translate O-Line performance into credible information for fantasy owners?
Hi, Cory. Well, you could read the Breakdown every week. :-) (That was a shameless moment of self promotion.) I watch all the games, and I really try and focus on the o-line. I don't have the metrics that a site like ProFootballFocus.com has (that is a fantastic site -- I love to just peruse their numbers), but I do feel like it's something I pay an awful lot of attention to anecdotally. I agree with you -- o-line is hugely important. The problem is that it's sometimes very difficult to tell when an o-line is on the verge of becoming great, or becoming crummy, before the season starts. It's a lot easier to see once they start playing meaningful games. But I do my best....
With Jason Campbell traded to OAK, does that change the value of any of the Oakland WRs?
Hi, Matt. I'm assuming this is speculative on your part -- I haven't heard anything about Campbell other than the fact that he signed his tender offer, which either means he'll be McNabb's backup after all, or it just became easier for the team to trade him. *IF* he winds up going to the Raiders, yeah, I would think that helps all the Oakland wideouts. Would it make them fantasy starters? Probably not right away. Chaz Schilens is still my favorite of that group, so he'd be the one I'd look to first.
As a Colston owner for a couple years, I feel like he's getting overvalued in a number of places (Berry at WR13, for example). Is the guy really still improving? The Saints spread it around to begin with, and the emergence of Meachem scares me even more.
Hi, Tim. I agree that in some circles Colston gets overvalued, but to be honest, No. 13 is where I have Colston among my wide receivers, too. It's funny, because usually when I get Colston questions, it's why do I have him so low, and I have to defend *not* putting him in my top 10, because he doesn't get an elite number of targets and because Brees spreads the ball all over the place. But here, you're asking me to defend why I don't have him *lower* -- which is a very legit question, for the reasons you just mentioned. He was third in red-zone targets last year, he averaged 15.3 yards per catch, and he reaches 1,000 yards even without those elite targets. I honestly think that 10-15 range is probably about right.
What kind of fall off do you see for Fitzgerald? I think it will only be slight, but he'll be a lot more inconsistent on a week to week basis. Instead of being the model of consistency he has always been.
Hi, Rick. It's a great question. I think anyone who's watching this situation has to admit that any rankings of any Cardinals at this point are purely speculative. Fitz doesn't have a great statistical history when Leinart is under center, but that's not entirely fair, because those starts came when Leinart was really young and Fitz wasn't quite a stud yet. I think you're right: Fitz is going to produce steadily, because they're going to throw it to him a lot. But will he be a breakout player? I don't know. I think we need to see Leinart throw the ball accurately before we can know that for sure.
Hasn't Aaron Rodgers join the "It's ok to use a 2nd Round pick on Me" QB team along with Brees, manning and brady?
Hi, Chuck. If you're so inclined to take a quarterback early, absolutely. There are of course lingering problems with the offensive line (which I expect the Pack to address early in the draft), but even as he was getting pounded last year, Rodgers kept putting up big numbers. He makes plays with his legs, too. I have him at No. 2 on my QB list, ahead of Manning and Brady.
what that a fluke year for Revis or should you cry when your WR has to face him this year?
Hi, John. I don't think it was a fluke -- I think Revis is that good. Now, it wasn't always a one-to-one relation...the Jets don't always match Revis up on one guy and have him track that guy all over the field. Sometimes it's just a result of the overall defense being really good, the pressure being tough, and a double team working well. But yeah, I don't see any reason that people are going to view their receivers matching up against the Jets as a happy occasion in '10.
All right, gang, this has been a blast. Time for one more....
If CJ Spiller goes to ___________, I should draft him in the first 3 rounds.
Great question, Justin. Without a team, Spiller rates 21st on my running back list, which probably puts him outside the first three rounds of a 10-team fantasy draft. Is there a place he can go with a really strong offensive line where he could get significant touches as, say, a co-starter? Boy, I don't know. The Chargers maybe? (I think they're more interested in Ryan Mathews.) The Texans? (Again, I think they want a bigger back.) Right now, I think Spiller goes to the Seahawks, and if he's there, I don't think he's a top-30 fantasy player right away. But it's fun to speculate.
OK, that's it for today. Next week, I'll be back at the regular 3 p.m. ET / noon PT time slot, and we can do lots of draft speculating...that'll be just a few days away from the NFL Draft. Until then, thanks for coming, and for helping me have this great job. I really appreciate it.