Afternoon, everyone. It's the NFL's slow season for a few weeks, but there's always fun stuff to talk about for fantasy football, so let's get to your questions.....
Chris, what are your thoughts on starting a keeper league this year? Pointless because of the looming lockout or still worth it?
Hi, Pat. I absolutely think it's worth starting a keeper league. They're the most fun kinds of leagues (with lots and lots of possible variations on keeper rules), and I definitely don't think that a lockout is a total fait accompli. Plus, even if it is, they're not going to miss an entire season (in my opinion). Plus, if they *do* miss an entire season, well, they're not going to miss *two* seasons. So I think your draft strategies, keeper-wise, will still be mostly relevant. I say do it.
Who's some sleepers you can share I like Hakeem Nicks Thomas Jones and Chad Henne? Your thoughts and which players are some of your hidden gems?
Hi, Todd. I wrote a Sleepers/Busts piece for the FFL Draft Kit that launched last week; you can find it here:http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=nfldk2k10junesleepersbustsAs I write in that piece, one man's sleeper is another man's regular ol' pick, because a lot depends on your expectations and your league's rules. But Henne did make my list of sleepers. And it's funny, while you have Thomas Jones on your short list in this question (a totally understandable position), I've got Jamaal Charles on my list. Guess the way things shake out in Kansas City is going to help decide a lot of leagues this year.
how much more valuable are running backs than wide receivers in a league that scores 1 pt per 10 rush yards opposed to 15 yards per point receiving?
Hi, Chris. Well, by the pure algebra lover in me, I guess I'd say they're worth 33% more. Yeah, I mean, I'd say a league that makes RBs more of a priority really tempt you to reach for that rusher in the later stages of the first round, which we all know can be dangerous territory (especially based on last year). The question you wind up asking yourself is even despite such a scoring system, is it still smarter to take an Andre Johnson type who you can feel fairly safe is going to contribute, or reach for a Rashard Mendenhall sort of player, who has ability, but also all sorts of questions marks around him. I don't think there's a definitive answer, but under such a system I certainly would be *more* tempted to go with Mendenhall.
Which NFL Team are you a Big fan of?
Hi, Chris. I'm a Patriots fan, tried and true, since I grew up in the Boston 'burbs. I suffered for an awful long time with that team -- but certainly the last decade has made things a little easier. I don't *think* that my Pats fanhood affects my fantasy advice (especially when it comes to their annual slog-fest in the backfield), but hey, I'd be lying if I said I was completely objective in all aspects about that team. (Sometimes, though, it means I'm *harder* on them than I am others.)
What draft spot would you least like to have in a standard 12 team league?
Hi, Shawn. I did a research piece for ESPN the Magazine's preview issue to see if I could find an optimal draft spot, though that was for a 10-team draft (which is ESPN.com's standard game). I looked at the Average Draft Position heading into drafts for the past 10 seasons, and assigned players to Team 1, Team 2, Team 3, etc. based on ADP (and, to some extent, positional need). Then I looked back after the season, and saw which teams scored the most fantasy points. It turned out that for a 10-teamer, as you might expect the #1 and #2 teams performed very well; what was less expected was that the #10 team was also really strong. Weakest were the middle teams, on average: #s 5, 6 and 7. I can't promise that the same holds true for 12-team drafts because I haven't done the legwork, but I suspect it's similar. So I guess in general I think I'd least like to be in that 7, 8, 9 spot of a 12-teamer.... Again, though, these are composite-style analyses; in any single year, the variability is pretty high.
Hey, all -- I obviously started this chat a bit early...so let me get something to eat right quick, and be back at around 3 p.m. ET, and then I'll continue on the answering kick.
Who's the better Giants WR Steve Smith or Hakeem Nicks?
Hi, Chris. I still have Smith a couple notches higher on my receiver list, but I don't think he represents particularly good value, and actually believe he's overrated (he made the "bust" list in that column I referred to in a previous question). He's a great volume guy, and PPR leagues will love him. But he's not a downfield player or a red-zone player, plus the Giants seem to have a lot of maturing aerial weapons. I think the team will spread it around quite a bit.
Chris what did you have for lunch? Soup and Salad?
Hi, Kyle. Sandwich and salad. Lovely.
How can you justify drafting a WR in the first round? SO much has to go right for them to be productive... WHy not take a RB or QB instead?
Hi, Mark. In theory, I want to agree with you, but recent history indicates that the top receivers have actually been easier to predict than the top rushers. Look at the litany of RBs taken in the first round last year who busted: Forte, Turner, Tomlinson, Westbrook. If you took the top WRs (Johnson, Fitzgerald, Moss), you did just fine for yourself.... I think that's how you justify it.
hey algebra nut, since when is 15 33% more than 10?
You're right, Jim. Doh.
Give me one "TE" besides Gates and Clark that you think has the best chance to pull a Owen Daniels type season before the injury.
Hi, Frank. Well, I guess I'd say Vernon Davis, since he's my No. 3 tight end. But maybe you're looking for a deeper sleeper with some high-upside potential? Jermichael Finley might be the guy, though the hype he's getting (and here I am, contributing to it!) he's going to be less and less of a draft day bargain.
Two Words for you Chris! MATT CASSEL? Give me your thoughts on him?
Hi, Brody. My thoughts are -- it's a make-or-break year for him. He was under siege last year, and it showed...it seemed he got gun shy and stopped looking confident or really even running very effectively. Charlie Weis has a way of producing good fantasy QBs, so I'm not ruling out a chance for Cassel to recapture some of that '08 magic, but the o-line needs to get it together in a big way. I don't hate Cassel as a QB2 in a deep league, but in shallower leagues, I have to believe you can do better.
The Battle of the Jones!!! James Jones or Jacoby Jones?
Hi, Carlton. I think I go Jacoby at the moment, but I think it's a very interesting question. Donald Driver is coming off two knee surgeries, and Jones apparently looked great in minicamp. Unfortunately, so did Jordy Nelson, so I'm not sure we know for sure who inherits the role if Driver is hurt. Jones has such size and speed, I expect him to be involved in Houston.
I'm drafting now chris... desperatley need your help. I'm in a PPR keeper league I own Marshall, Fitz, Calvin and R.Rice already. I'm choosing between Felix Jones and Clark or Gates.. Who do you think I should go with? Thanks
Hi, Will. I think I go Felix Jones, especially if it's a 10-teamer. I like the tight ends just fine...but it seems to me there are tons of 'em, and Jones can catch it. I like him as undervalued, still, at the moment.
Chris I am going to test you allegiance to the fantasy world! How much of fantasy football is luck and how much is skill? Give me percentages please! Thanks!
Hi, Randy. I would say it's probably 65-35 skill vs. luck. You have to put yourself in position with a competent, consistent, high-upside team. But absolutely, injuries and just random downturns can slaughter you. I think a good team usually positions itself to get to the playoffs, and maybe the Final Four of a league. After that...the crap shoot nature does tend to come in.
Come Week 1, what team is M.Lynch suiting up for?
Hi, Matt. I guess right now I'm going to say Buffalo. Adam Schefter recently reported that the Bills aren't going to be held hostage, and that they don't mind having him as their third guy. He's inexpensive for two more seasons, and it seems that the potential for disruption hasn't really blossomed yet. We'll see...but if I'm picking a favorite (even if it's a slim favorite), I guess it's the Bills.
Nate Burleson has always been a secret weapon for me, even though he got hurt this year. Is it worth giving in a another shot this year in Detroit?
Hi, Ryan. Burleson is talented, but it was just last year that he got hurt. He's been in and out of lineups for years...I like his deep speed and his potential for a big game in any week, but it's tough to see him as anything more than a relatively deep sleeper this year. He's on the borderline of my top 50 receivers at the moment.
I'm going to draft soon, and from what I've heard, AP, CJ, and MJD are going to to be the first three taken. And I have pick 4. Who is best to draft at 4? Rice, Gore, SJax, or Andre Johnson? And is DeSean Jackson a reach at 21?
Hi, Cole. I like Rice as a clear-cut No. 4, so that's who I'd pick. I understand the logic of folks who say they'd rather get the "sure thing" of a top receiver...but I like Rice an awful lot. And yes, I think that's quite a bit early for Jackson. I have him at No. 35 overall -- I worry that if the huge plays don't repeat in abundance, he'll take a bit of a tumble.
Hey Chris, what's your thoughts on Dwayne Bowe? Due for a bounceback?
Hi, RC. Not on my nickel. I was really all aboard last year, and there wasn't much reason for Bowe to be so terrible last year, except he acted like a knucklehead, didn't come to camp in shape, took an illegal supplement (perhaps to lose the weight), and basically made a nuisance of himself. I know the ability is there, and as I said, Charlie Weis can really help an offense. But I'm going to let someone else take him this year.
I make it a rule to never draft players over 30 except quarterbacks. You agree with that rule?
Hi, Vance. Certainly that's a safe policy for running backs -- there just aren't many who perform well beyond their 30th birthday. Receivers? Hines Ward would beg to differ, as would Donald Driver, Chad Ochocinco, Steve Smith (Panthers) and others. In other words: I don't think you have to be quite so dogmatic with the wideouts.
Anyone ever tell you that you look like the 3rd string QB on a team during the 90's?
No, Ryan. (Maybe you're thinking of Billy Joe Tolliver?) The guy I get most often is Eric Stoltz.
You buy into the "players play better on nationally televised games" arguement? Its seems like last year all my guys exploded on monday night!
Hi, Kemp. I think it's a trick of the light, honestly. I've heard the theory, but I haven't seen a lot of good research to say that players definitively perform above their statistical norms in prime-time games. I guess I'm willing to be convinced, though...
What's the best Draft Day advice you can give us? Besides the old "go with your gut" idea...
Hi, Jeff. I'd say Stick With Your Draft Board. You put time into figuring out the players you like best. Stick to it. Don't get caught feeling like you *have* to take a certain position, don't reach when players you like better are available. It's kind of basic stuff, but still helpful, if you want to take a look at my Draft Strategy piece I did for the Draft Kit:http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=nfldk2k10flexibilityI'm almost never going to endorse a, "Hey, should I take a quarterback in the first round?" strategy. It depends on the QB. And it depends on who else is there at other positions.
Hey Chris who do you see this year as being a over-looked player that people will draft in round 7+ that could potentially have 1st round productivity in a dynasty keeper league. For example a Chris Johnson or a Shonn Greene
Hi, Jordan. Well, let's not give Chris Johnson quite *that* much credit -- he was still a first-round pick in most drafts last year. Greene is a better example, I guess, except he didn't really do squat for much of the regular season last year, and really only shone toward the end and in the playoffs. (Get it? Shone?) I think the rookie running backs will be decent this year, but will probably be overdrafted, i.e., I don't think you're getting many of the potential stars as late as the 7th or 8th round. Maybe, um, Donald Brown? Kind of forgotten in the "post-hype prospect" mold? Justin Forsett, if the Seahawks don't grab another runner? Arian Foster, because nobody seems to believe he'll really keep the starting job in Houston?
Great job with the "moneyball WR" article you did! I agree with you. Now with that said, don't you think if Andre Johnson or Larry Fitz are staring you in the face in round 1 or you pass on them right?
Thanks, Blake. Again, I don't think I could say definitively. It would depend on who else was there. If I'm picking, say, 7th or so, and all the running backs I like better than AJ are gone, sure, I'll definitely take him. I love him. But if a Michael Turner falls to me there? I'm probably grabbing Turner. For me it's less about deciding which position I'm going to take in a given round, and more about deciding the order of players that I like.
Do brandon jacobs and marion barber have anything left in the tank?
Hi, Matt. I think each guy's tank is probably fine -- neither is even close to 30. But their legs are definitely at question. Jacobs can't keep from knee injuries, and Barber lost a lot of burst last year because of a thigh problem. If I'm picking one guy who has the higher upside, it probably has to be Jacobs, because if he stays healthy, he's a beast. But heck, I know folks at ESPN who love Barber this year because they think if he goes back to his "closer" role a la the final season of Julius Jones in Dallas, he could go back to being a TD machine. Neither guy is inside my top 25 RBs right now, though.
What the HECK is up with Josh Cribbs? Why wont the browns let him loose at WR? They act like they are trying to save him for something?
Hi, Keith. Oh, I think they're going to use Cribbs an awful lot on offense this year. In Wildcat formations, in the backfield, and as a variable receiving threat. There have been really positive reports in the Cleveland papers about Brian Robiskie, and if that holds, it would seem that Robiskie and Massaquoi would be the outside starters, but Cribbs will play between 10 and 20 offensive snaps a game, and be his usual amazing return self. All that said, unless your league counts return yards, Cribbs isn't that much of a fantasy option.
How sure are you about the Eagles RB situation? I am not sold that McCoy is who they want back there on 1st and 2nd downs...
Hi, Carmel. Well, the question you have to ask yourself is: who else would it be? It's not going to be Leonard Weaver again -- he's apparently going back to being a full-time fullback. It's probably not Mike Bell, who has a bad injury history and is best used as a short-distance thumper. Rookie Charles Scott is also a non-quick, thumper type. I just don't see a lot of other options on first and second downs.
Any reason to have any faith in TJ who's your mama this year?
Hi, Newman. I answer your question with a question: Is there any reason to trust *any* Seattle offensive player this year? I guess it's possible Pete Carroll has me completely hoodwinked, but at the moment, I just don't understand exactly what he's doing, and I don't see anyone standing out as being a fantasy stud. The o-line has a promising rookie at LT, but otherwise it's about the same, the QB situation is unhealthy and unsettled, and the RB situation is a carousel. I'm not saying Houshmandzadeh can't do anything, because he's a talented guy. But I think he's going to be very frustrating to own in a fantasy league once again.
We need you Chris! You must be our advocate to ESPN to STOP the stupid return for kickoff taking points from your Defense!!! You are our last hope!
Hi, Cameron. Yeah, I know. But I just don't think the engine is built that way. Special teams scores or defensive scores counting against the opposing defense is an age-old complaint, and it's a valid one, really. I'm not an engineer, but I have to believe that in the end, it comes down to the way the game is put together (and the simplicity of just having everything count). It's not perfect, you're right.
Talk about a WASTED fantasy AND NFL draft pick! Any hope for Brandon Pettigrew this year?
Hi, Derrick. Well, I'm not giving up on the dude yet. I never believed he'd be a Gates or Clark type, but Pettigrew is a very good in-line blocker, and he's only been in the league a year. His knee injury happened so late in the season, it's hard to say he's going to be a huge factor to begin the year, and I'd say Tony Scheffler is a far better TE sleeper right now. But in a few years, I have a feeling Pettigrew is going to wind up being someone Lions fans like a lot.
Where are you drafting me in a PPR?
It's a great question. To be completely honest, I don't think I *am* taking Welker, because I have to believe at least one person in every league I'm in is going to believe in the party line and the possibility of Welker not missing *any* games more than I do. I'm just not there. I imagine owning the little dude this year is going to consist of week after week of wondering if he's going to be on the inactive list, and then being really frustrated. I kind of still think the PUP list is a real possibility, too. I mean, in a PPR, if he's there in the 10th, yeah, of course, I'm taking him just for the chance. But to draft him to be a starter, I just don't see it.
who has a bigger year spiller or best?
Hi, Heath. It's interesting. They're similar players, but Spiller proved more durable in college, and in a vacuum, he'd be my choice. But given where they landed and what else is in their respective backfields, I definitely like Best more. He's a big-time injury threat, no question, but he looks like the Lions' feature back right now....
Who you taking Kenny Brit or Chaz Schillens?
Hi, Gavin. Well, in my June 17 player ranks, I have Britt as my No. 36 wideout, and Schilens at No. 40. But Britt has evidently been a big-time knucklehead all winter and spring, and is testing his coaches' patience. We'll see what training camp brings. I want to hear that the Titans are bowled over by the leaps and strides Britt has made in his maturity. If we *don't* hear that, I may change my mind.
Howdy do neighbor! Yes we play fantasy football in Springfield! Is Chad Johnson done? Should I even look his way before round 6?
Why would he be done? Ochocinco had a fine year last year, and should be due for about the same kind of season this year. The Bengals are a run-first team now, and I don't completely trust Carson Palmer, but listen, 85 is great in the red zone and has phenomenal hands. I have him at No. 42 overall.
Is the draft plan on taking WR WR a good idea? Many people say the RB class is too tight to take the traditional RB RB with your first two picks. I can see a point with other than AP,MJD, and Chris Johnson the RB position is wide open.
Hi, Jordan. You're right, of course: there is *tons* of uncertainty at running back. But as I've been saying throughout this chat, I think you make a mistake when you think of your draft strategy in terms of what positions to select in what rounds. If you look at all the players available in the first and see AJ as the fourth-best player on your board, then take him at No. 4. And then wait to see what happens when the pick comes around to you again in the second, and see what player is highest on your board then. I don't really even want to address "should I go WR/WR" questions, because while I see merit to that result in some cases, it absolutely depends to me on which players are available when I pick.
in a .5 per reception league should i be taken before knowshon moreno in the 4th round
It's a really good question. In standard leagues (i.e., no PPR), I have Wells higher. But I think it's hard not to argue that Moreno has more receiving upside than Beanie does. And if Moreno gets, say, 20 extra catches minimum, well, that makes a difference. Me, I think maybe I'm still taking Wells, but I'm kind of a hopeless shill for him this year. I'm a believer.
Is Devin Hester a big sleeper this year? Seems like everybody is getting on the Devin Aroumashodu hype train...
Hi, Redford. Interesting you should say that -- because in my latest ranks, I actually put Johnny Knox ahead of 'em both (though only a little bit ahead of Aromashodu). Listen, this is a mess, and we really don't know whether Mike Martz's offense is going to work with a pretty crummy offensive line. Martz likes to send everyone deep, and tends to get his QBs beaten up. But the truth is that right now, Hester and Knox look like the starters, with Aroma as the third guy. Of course, that can change, plus Martz's No. 3 receivers have made fantasy noise in the past. But man, I just don't know about Devin Hester anymore. I think I prefer Knox right now.
16 team non ppr league. who, if any, should I keep as a 2nd rounder (27th overall); J Stewart, Roddy White, Pierre Thomas. thanks
Hi, Jared. For me it would either be White or Stewart; of course, things change, but the way the Saints preserved Frenchy last year takes him out of the second-round mix for me. Meanwhile, in a 16-teamer, I would almost certainly have both White and Stewart going in the second round, and I have Roddy just a few spots higher in my overall ranks. In a league like this, though, you may feel more comfortable keeping the back, because RBs are going to be mighty hard to come by if a bunch of 'em get kept....
Do you agree with my logic of taking Ray Rice over MJD. My logic is that the Jags are bad team and will NOT be playing meaningful games in late Dec. While the Ravens will be in the middle of a heated playoff race.
Hi, Craig. I completely understand your logic, and I don't think it's horrible at all, but I don't agree. MJD was great last year in a playoff chase that wasn't *really* all that much of a playoff chase, and he's just so sturdy on the goal line that I can't believe he won't be a regular source of TDs. He also catches the ball a ton (so does Rice, obviously). I respect taking Rice third, because I love the guy. At the moment, I have MJD third, though.
Who do you think has the most potential to be a top 5 running back that you could late in Round 1 and beyond?
Hi, Tyler. Um, all of them? Of course, that's what makes it all so maddening this year, because so many rushers come with giant warning labels, but have scads of ability. I mean, Steven Jackson might go after a couple WRs and a QB or two, but if he can find the end zone a few more times this year (and stay healthy), he could easily fit this bill. Shonn Greene and Ryan Mathews are getting *so* much love in this vein (though not really from me). Willie Colon hurt his Achilles' today (don't know how bad yet) and that would be a giant problem for Rashard Mendenhall. I think Beanie Wells could assert himself. DeAngelo Williams would flourish if Stewart can't get his ankle right. It's a mishmash, that's for sure.
I can keep one of my QB's for next year and beyond. Who would you rather have between Cuter and Flacco?
Hi, Rozi. Well, I have Flacco a couple spots higher for this season, and I don't think he's going to be getting worse in the future, so I guess I'm going to say Flacco. I know there's a potential for Cutler to go crazy under Martz, I really do. I won't be surprised to see him have a huge September and have people sending me Facebook posts lambasting me for doubting him. But I just hate that offensive line. I think Cutler is unfortunately a candidate to get hurt, to be honest.
is it true v. jackson is out til week 10 due to contract issues?
Hi, Heath. Nothing is definite with Jackson, and unfortunately the situation is likely to stay fluid for a good long while, even well into training camp possibly. Jackson hasn't signed his tender offer, so he has different rules controlling him; he doesn't have to complete as *much* of the season as someone like Chris Johnson does in order to accrue his year of service time, so yes, there's a legit threat that Jackson could hold out for more than half the season, and if I were drafting right now, I'd have to mark him pretty far down. (Fortunately, I'm not drafting right now.)
Help Chris, I have a dynasty PPR trade on the table. I give S. Jackson/Dez Bryant and I get MJD/Maclin? Good deal?
Hi, JC. I'd do it. Jackson is one of my favorite players in the league, but his neck/back issues scare the bejeezus out of me, and I think by almost any measure, MJD needs to be rated higher. And while I'm all for Bryant's potential (and you probably are giving up the better receiver long term), you can't *only* evaluate a dynasty trade in terms of five years from now. I have Maclin several spots ahead of Bryant for this season, too.
It's ALOT of hype for Jemicheal Finley? What are the odds he actually lives up to it.
Hi, Julian. Yup, you're right -- I mentioned it earlier in this chat, but Finley is going to be a much-desired guy in drafts, and he's really only been a viable target for part of one season (he battled injuries off and on all year last season). He also was kind of a nimrod as a rookie. But this *is* going to be his third year, he's on a great offense, and he did what he did last year without being a starter until late in the season. I'm buying right now. But I understand the trepidation.
Chris, so what are some reasonable expectations for Shady McCoy?
Hi, Mike. As I mentioned earlier, I think McCoy is probably pretty safe as the Eagles' starter, but it's a West Coast offense and he's not getting 250-plus carries. He'll have to make up the difference in receptions, but of course, we learned from Brian Westbrook that a Philly back can definitely do that. If he's likely to struggle anywhere, it'd be in touchdowns, where the team is lining up guys (including Michael Vick) to take away his goal-line work. I go with something like 1400 yards from scrimmage and, oh, maybe 6 scores for Shady.
All right, gang. One more, then it's back to writing for me. This week, I'm working on a piece about Value-Based Drafting that I think many of you who are trying to figure out which types of players you want to draft early will find useful.
What round would you draft Big Ben? Can he be on IR until the league allows him to play?
Hi, Kevin. I'm guessing that he won't be IR-eligible in leagues that have extra bench slots for injured players, but yes, I mean, I think he's going to have value when he comes back. I don't love that Pittsburgh o-line if Willie Colon is really hurt (don't know that yet), but if he's not, well, I have Big Ben rated as #116 on my board, putting him in the 12th round. I think that's probably pretty fair.
All right, everyone. Thanks very much for coming. My list of Facebook friends is growing so quickly that it's tough for me to promise to answer all of your questions on FB like a I did in the old days, but I'm going to work out some kind of system this year where I'll at least answer *some* of 'em, and I still encourage you to friend me here, if you like: http://www.facebook.com/writerboy. Remember to check out our Draft Kit (I have a bunch of pieces in there). Thanks again, and I'll see you soon.