Hi, everyone. How are you all doing this afternoon. Let's talk about the NFL -- I just did my top 200 (revised) which should be published tomorrow....let's get right to your questions....
All abord the Jahvid Best Hype Train!!!!!! You on?
Hi, Derrick. I'm surprised to discover that I am -- I was a little bit shocked to see the Lions trade up and get him, and wasn't so sure about Detroit trading up to get him. But now that it really seems that Kevin Smith isn't going to contribute much this year because of his knee...man, how much more could things possibly open up for Best? I hiked him well into my top 30 rushers when I did my re-ranks today. I'm buying for now, though obviously he has to stay healthy.
Who's the better keeper for this year? Jeremy Maclin or Hakeem Nicks?
Hi, Anthony. For this year, I'm going to say Nicks outperforms Maclin, though I don't think it's a no-brainer. Listen, Mario Manningham had a good year in '09, and could very much threaten Nicks's playing time on the outside. But I trust Eli Manning a bit more than Kevin Kolb at this point, and I also trust the Giants to throw it down the field a bit more than the Eagles will. Put it this way: Maclin probably isn't the No. 1 receiver in Philly no matter what he does (DeSean Jackson is). But Nicks's upside? True No. 1 studliness.
Who will be the better fantasy receiver this year: Steve Smith (NYG) or Hakeem Nicks? Will either of them be a consistent #1 fantasy receiver this year?
Hi, B. A good follow-up on Nicks. For the moment, I have Smith just a spot or two higher than Nicks, simply due to volume, and for the fact that he's going to be more consistent: he should easily lead the Giants in targets again, and while he doesn't get the ball down the field quite as much, he'll give you a steady stream of catches and yards every week. But Nicks's peaks will be higher. I guess I've talked myself into continuing to like the Giants' passing game this year. That o-line looked old at the end of '09, and the pass-orientation of the offense could really continue. (Eli threw for 4K last year!)
Another off season football chat? Why so much love for Football? During Football there were 2 chats everyday and now it's Baseball and we can't even get one chat per day dedicated to baseball. Come back to Baseball Chris!
Hi, Mike. Yup, I'm going to be doing football chats throughout the summer -- the powers that be are focusing me a bit more on football year-round, which frankly is OK by me...I do consider myself an NFL guy first. But beginning next week (Monday, I believe) I'll be writing bimonthly baseball features again (now that the Fantasy Football magazine is put to bed). So I'll be back to baseball a bit more going forward....
in buffalo, do you see them going with a two back system, and getting rid of Lynch? do you see jackson and spiller being the 2 RBs, and how does that effect spillers FFB status?
Hi, Jimmy. Yeah, I think it's at *least* a two-back system. I do have to believe that Lynch will eventually be playing elsewhere, though very politically, so far the Bills are saying that they plan on keeping all three guys. For me, I think Jackson winds up leading the team in carries, with Spiller as a more explosive weapon out of the slot, split wide, running the Wildcat, etc. That would leave Lynch as a short-yardage guy, I guess, if they're really going to hang onto him. The biggest concern in Buffalo is that o-line (and those quarterbacks). Can't say as I can see enough production from any of those guys on a week-to-week basis to make them fantasy starters.
How much production do you see the Colts WR's getting with the return of AGonz? Potential Pro Bowl type of year for Garcon maybe?
Hi, Eric. Well, I wouldn't draw a straight line between Gonzalez coming back and Garcon producing more -- you'd think the opposite might be true, if anything. My understanding right now is that Gonzo is more of a threat to Austin Collie in the slot than to Garcon, though...something would have to happen to Garcon playing on the outside to have Gonzo move back out there. So I don't think Garcon is a Pro Bowler, no (because Reggie Wayne is still hanging around), but can he be a fantasy starter? Yes.
How far down in the rankings does Fitz fall with Boldin gone and the QB situation there?
Hi, Steve. it's a great question...one that's occupying a lot of pixel dust this spring and summer. I have Fitzgerald fourth on my receiver list, behind Andre Johnson, Randy Moss and Reggie Wayne. But that still puts him in the elite class, and let's face it, he has the capacity and talent to go out and be the No. 1 guy in the game again this year. I don't worry about Boldin being gone -- but you hit the nail on the head...I think it's all about Leinart. I don't completely trust him. Supposedly he's looked better. But that's not me saying so -- it's the Cardinals' beat guys. I want to see him throw consistently and accurately before I really make up my mind.
Any thoughts on the crowded Seattle backfield?
Hi, Doug. Well, it would really seem to me that LenDale White gets the first crack at establishing himself as the main guy. He certainly has the body type (and history) to be the touchdown maker there. Leon Washington's leg will determine the rest. If he's right, and can be the same quick guy we recall from his halcyon days with the Jets, he's the No. 2 guy, the real scatback defenses will hate to play, and perhaps fantasy worthy. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll know about him until after the season starts...and he'll have significant injury risk. And Justin Forsett is waiting for scraps from both guys. For now, LenDale is the one to draft, the others are the guys to watch....
what or who do the bears need to win their division
Hi, Addison. Well, in my mind, they need a miracle. I don't love the Bears right now. I think Mike Martz can help, but as we saw with the 49ers, he isn't a magic potion. Jay Cutler will probably have a somewhat better year (fantasy-wise, even with all those picks, he wasn't as horrendous as you might think), and the young receivers and two-headed backfield give him some weapons. But the secondary looks shaky, and the front seven has a bunch of big names either coming back from significant injuries or terrible seasons. Julius Peppers can't cure all ills there, in my opinion....
Which Rookie will have the biggest Fantasy impact this year?
Hi, John. Right now, my money is on Ryan Mathews, who landed in a great spot with the Chargers. LaDainian Tomlinson lit up the offensive line when he left town, claiming that they didn't block for him. Well, we'll find out. Mathews isn't a burner, he isn't a thumper, and he isn't ever going to be an All Pro (in my opinion), but he does everything well, and he's pretty much being given the keys to the kingdom as a starter right away, more than any other rookie runner. Guys like Jahvid Best, Ben Tate and Montario Hardesty have the capacity to win jobs and/or take advantage of injuries. But Mathews should hit the ground running. So to speak.
Hey Chris! As a Eagles fan how do you see our offense performing this season? Will Kolb,Jackson,Maclin,Celek, and McCoy really get the job done?
Hi, Shquille. I think Andy Reid has a better fit for his West Coast offense than Donovan McNabb was...skills-wise. But the notion that Kolb will jump right in and be better than McNabb was last year? I find it a bit hard to swallow. Listen, he was fine in limited action last year (but he was getting blown out against the Saints, and the other game was against the Chiefs). But what about two years ago against the Ravens? Yikes. I think all the guys you mention are going to be owned (and should be owned) in all fantasy leagues. But do I think the move to jettison McNabb helps the Eagles? In the short term, I don't.
How is Megatron going to do this year? Top 3?
Great question, TJ. Wish I knew. A lot of things have to go right for Calvin Johnson to be a fantasy star once again, but I've seen quite a lot of "experts" who put him in their top 5 (and yes, maybe even their top 3) once again. I'm not going to call the guy injury prone, but injuries *have* been an issue the past two seasons. Matthew Stafford needs to continue to develop. The offensive line has to not get him slaughtered. And Nate Burleson has to give defenses a reason not to double Megatron coming off the bus. Put it this way: if I have to pay a "top-three receiver" draft slot to get Johnson this year? He's not going to wind up on very many of my teams.
With the 49ers drafting 2 offensive linemen in the first round....do you think they are going to focus more on the run this year? Do you bump up Gore in the rankings because of this?
Hi, Sam. I did bump up Gore one spot in my post-draft rankings this morning, but it wasn't because of the new o-linemen...it was because the Rams reported that Steven Jackson had back surgery this winter. I love Jackson, but that scares me a bit, and I dropped him down to No. 9 overall. So Gore goes up one spot. But really, I don't think two rookie linemen are going to influence things dramatically one way or another, especially because neither is without warts. Anthony Davis isn't particularly known as a run blocker, and Iupati could turn out to be shaky in pass protection from the guard spot.
Kolb or McNabb?
Hi, Kenny. Even after my words of caution I just delivered about Kolb and the Eagles (and it's not that I *hate* them...I just question if they're going to be a playoff team), I still probably prefer Kolb in a fantasy league this year. The o-line in Philly is scads better than the one in D.C., and I worry McNabb (never exactly an iron man) is destined to miss playing time this year. Plus his receiving weapons aren't as good as they were in Philly.
Who do you keep between Ced Benson at 7$ and Dwayne Bowe at 20$ in a PPR auction league?
Hi, Patrick. That's a pretty good question, because obviously Benson doesn't give you squat receiving-wise. If I were higher on Bowe, I might advise you to get clever. And listen, Bowe is one talented athlete. Maybe he puts it together this year. But it seems to me that you'd be taking just as much of a knucklehead in Bowe as you would in Benson...and Benson is guaranteed to get more touches. This is one where I think you don't overthink it, and keep the cheaper back.
Am I right to be skeptical of fantasy potential for both Charles and Jones in KC? Seems they will be taking a lot of carries away from each other. Or am I not putting enough faith in the improvement of the O-line?
Hi, Andy. It's another million-dollar question, isn't it? I mean, Jamaal Charles comes off a brilliant second half last year, and looks like a star in the making, and then here comes Thomas Jones to muddy the waters. As you'll see tomorrow, I actually hiked Charles a bit (into the middle of the second round) in my ranks, and dropped Jones a bit as a corresponding move. Listen, I like Jones...but I think the league might really be trying to tell us something. He couldn't find good money. He couldn't find anything close to a starting gig. He landed with a relatively moribund franchise. Maybe he's more "cooked" than we think. I prefer Charles's huge games. Will Jones steal some shorties? He might. Maybe Charles was a flash in the pan last year. But I recently re-watched some of his game footage, and man. Chris Johnson isn't more explosive by much.
I just did an ESPN mock draft and realized there aren't too many quality RB's in the early rounds. Or am I wrong?
Hi, Evan. Depends what you mean by "quality." I'd say there are fewer guys you can rely on for 20-plus carries per game than ever before. Peterson, CJ, MJD, Gore, Steven Jackson (if he's healthy), probably Rice (though he catches it so much, it doesn't matter as much)...yeah, the list is probably bigger than that (Turner), but you're reaching to say that someone like, say, Ryan Grant is a must-draft first-rounder. He's so...bleh. So I can see your argument. If you're in the second half of the first round, it's going to be tempting (as things stand at the moment) to take someone like Drew Brees or Andre Johnson.
MJD or Ray rice ?
Hi, John. For me, right now, it's MJD, and it's a matter of Willis McGahee still being in Baltimore. I think McGahee is probably in for a LenDale-White-like flop in a season following up a low-yardage, high-touchdown output. But the fact remains that he's still *there*, and I consider him more of a threat to Rice than I do Rashad Jennings to MJD. (And I like Jennings fine.) I think MJD is the best goal-line back in football, Adrian Peterson included. That's never a bad thing.
Which QB do you take first in a dynasty league rookie draft? Bradford, Claussen, or Tebow?
Hi, Reggie. Well, it's not Tebow. I'm one of those inveterate doubters whom Tebow will have to prove wrong. Between Bradford and Claussen...you know, I'm mighty tempted to say Claussen. He's with a more stable franchise with what will probably be a better offensive line for a few seasons. He has Steve Smith on his team. And the truth is, I liked him a little bit more than I liked Bradford coming out of school. That said, there's something to be said for a guy you know will get his early lumps out of the way quickly, and Bradford should start Week 1 for the Rams. I have to admit: I haven't completely made up my mind on this issue. I want to see how they look in camp, and in exhibition. I have a feeling my answer might actually be Claussen, eventually.
Settle it here...Is it worth drafting a TE high if his name is not Dallas Clark?
Hi, Jason. Obviously, it depends on what you mean by "high." I do have Clark as my No. 1 tight end, but it's hard to go wrong with guys like Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzalez, Brent Celek, Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley...to me, it looks like a completely stacked position. I'm rarely an advocate for grabbing tight ends early anyway, and yeah, this is a year where once again I don't feel the urge.
Hi, Joe. I don't mind drafting Big Ben this year. I just don't want to do it at anything close to what his value would've been without the suspension. You're right -- he's going to have upside when he comes back, and from Week 5 on, figures to be rated higher (easily) than any of those other three guys you list (though I vastly prefer Henne over those two sophomores). But the truth is that you're going to have to use *three* roster spots on QBs if you take Roethlisberger...because you'll need two other guys to play that first month. That means your team could find itself in a bit of a hole when the season's second month comes.
Do you think Mike Wallace becomes the preminent Steelers wr to have fantasy wise this upcoming season?
Hi, Jason. i still have Hines Ward higher, though I do have Wallace rated in my top 30, too. I know Ward is 34 now and definitely an injury risk. But he's a surehanded guy in the middle of the field and a fabulous red-zone threat. I was prepared to like Santonio Holmes more than Ward, but I'm really not quite there liking Wallace as much, to be honest. Wallace is fast. Fast as hell. Not sure he really is ready to be a polished route runner yet, though....
How important is it going to be to get at least 1 RB on your team that is not splitting carries with anyone? Those NFL coaches don't know just how much they are messing with us Fantasy people!
Ain't it the truth, Jeff? We've all been whining about this for years, but every season it just gets worse. And as you say, rather than deemphasize the importance of the RB position, instead if really accentuates the value of players you know can carry it, say, 250 times per season. I don't think you *have* to get one of the elite guys, in that I definitely think it's possible to win your league drafting toward the end of your first round. But if I'm drafting in the top five? I'm not messing around, man. I'm getting one of those RBs.
Do your rankings assume Brent Farver is coming back? How much do Rice/Percy slip if the Football God's finally take mercy on us and kill off Farver?
Hi, Drew. Yeah, I've been assuming throughout the ranking (and capsule-writing, for the magazine) process that Favre will be back. Frankly, I'd be stunned if he wasn't. Of course, it's possible he doesn't return, and if he doesn't, it would really torpedo the Vikes *and* their individual fantasy values. I haven't put a ton of thought into exactly how low all those guys go in such a case. But they'll go low. Especially the receivers. I don't think a lot of Tarvaris Jackson.
Do you think Aaron Rodgers will be available in the second round this year, or is he a guarnateed first rounder?
Hi, Kenneth. It'll depend on your draft, your league format, and how QB-happy your owners tend to be, but I have Rodgers rated outside my overall top 10, which means yeah, in my mind he's a second rounder. He had a fantastic season last year, no question, and he's my No. 2 QB. But there's one guy who's been near the top of the fantasy ranks at that position the past few years, and his name is Brees. I prefer him.
Assuming Favre comes back, do you see him in the top 10 discussion for QB's? He is coming off one of his best seasons to date.
Hi, Evan. Yes, I definitely think he's in that conversation. I don't know that I can foresee him having the unbelievable year he had in '09 again in '10 -- especially with the incredible lack of interceptions. But by the same token, he'll still have one heck of an offensive arsenal at his disposal. I have him as my No. 8 QB right now. But could he finish substantially higher (as he did in '09)? Absolutely.
Which of the Bengals' draft class will produce the most this year? Anyone worth a look, even as a late-round flier?
Hi, Brian. The obvious candidate is Jermaine Gresham, their first-rounder, who looks like a candidate to start at tight end right away. But honestly, I don't trust the Bengals to use that position enough for Gresham to be a fantasy factor as a rookie. I'm ready to be proven wrong. Before he got hurt, the kid was a start at OU, just a guy you really feared if you were playing the Sooners. Supposedly Jordan Shipley gets a chance to battle Andre Caldwell for the slot receiving job. But that's a big stretch to see fantasy value coming out of either of those guys....
Hey chris! Who is the better tandem this year: randy moss/wes welker or andre johnson/kevin walter?
Hi, Melissa. I'm starting to get pretty darned concerned that Welker is a longshot to contribute much before Thanksgiving. I know Tom Brady says he's already throwing to the rehabbing Welker, but I can't help but imagine Welker is doing his catching from, like, an easy chair or something. I don't love Kevin Walter, and can see Jacoby Jones as a pretty interesting sleeper, but I would probably still answer the Texans' duo that you mention.
in a dynasty league how much value does deangelo williams have? i am concerned that he peaked in value.
Hi, Micah. I think your concerns are valid. Listen, his talent hasn't gone away. He's crazy talented. I mean, there probably isn't an open-field runner like him in the NFL. But Jonathan Stewart really mucks things up for him in the short term. D-Willy is a free agent in 2011, and maybe (if there's football) the Panthers don't retain him and give their job to Stewart, which might allow Williams to reestablish himself as a pure No. 1 again. But for now? Yeah, I think it's safe to say he peaked when he was the '08 fantasy MVP....
In a ten team standard league, would you keep Brady or Miles Austin?
Hi, David. I'm worried about Dez Bryant potentially being a much better weapon, right away, opposite Miles Austin than Roy Williams was last year. And yet I'd still probably keep Austin over Brady, simply because I think Brady belongs to a rather crowded upper-class stratus as quarterback. I mean, if you don't get him, and wind up with, say, Tony Romo, that probably works pretty well....
Won't Julius Peppers help the secondary? Less time to sit back there and throw, not to mention the leadership Urlacher will bring even if he has lost a step?
Hi, Phil. There's that argument to be made, yes. But Peppers can't get to the QB on every play. (Panthers fans can attest to this.) I worry very much about the corners, and I also worry about free safety (I like my namesake, Chris Harris, to shore up at strong safety.) My instincts have been wrong before, plenty of times. But right now, they've got me believing this is a unit whose press clippings outweigh its production by a good measure, especially in a division with what looks like two very good teams.
Chris, do you think michael crabtree will be better than calvin johnson this year? I know everyone loves megatron but I have a feelin crab will be much more consistent.
Hi, Ryan. Can't go there with you. I know that at our rankings meeting earlier this month, there was a lot of love in the room for Crabtree (more than I feel for him, probably). But I don't think anyone loved him *that* much. He doesn't look like a top-10 guy to me, not on a team where Vernon Davis and Frank Gore are such important weapons (and where Alex Smith is the quarterback). But put it this way: it's calls like that that can make a fantasy season. If you take Crabtree higher than folks expect, and he produces a top-10 season? You'll be in clover...
Who has the better year: flacco or palmer? And who was helped more by the offseason?
I'd say Flacco over Palmer, and in my mind it isn't close. I like the acquisition of Antonio Bryant for Palmer, but not as much as Anquan Boldin for Flacco, to say nothing of Donte' Stallworth as a possible deep threat and No. 3 guy. I have Flacco as a borderline top-10 guy, a definite player who'll be owned in all leagues. Palmer? I have real questions about his arm, and the Bengals look like a run-first squad all of a sudden. I'm not going to own him at all this year.
All right, gang, one more, and then it's back to work for me....
addai or P thomas
Hi, David. Very close, very good question. You know for the moment, I'm standing by the vastly more talented guy in the vastly more frustrating situation, and to me, that's Thomas. Addai is a good grunt, a front-line guy who, if things break right, can go for double-digit TDs. But he doesn't break long runs, doesn't make game-breaking plays, and yes, I think Donald Brown still may be heard from yet. Reggie Bush, et al, are an annoying drain, and Frenchy isn't going to get 20 carries in any game this year, probably. But he's a really good player -- explosive, a wonderful pass catcher, a tough dude. I think I have to pick him, even though there will be weeks where you'll be frustrated by Bush stealing his touchdowns.
All right, everyone. I've got to get going. Thanks very much for coming to the Monday afternoon chat -- which will be your home for offseason fantasy football talk all summer long. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope a lot of you are, too. See you again next week.