Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your Thursday morning Week 13 fantasy football chat. First off, I want to thank those of you who've started reading my novel, Slotback Rhapsody, which is actually about football. (An undersized dude trying to make an NFL roster, sort of a Danny Woodhead type, except when push comes to shove he tries both Buddhism and HGH. It's fun. Learn more at www.slotbackrhapsody.com.) Next, since I know I'm going to get many times more questions than I can answer in an hour, I invite you to follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/writerboyESPN) and friend me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/writerboy). Let's get to your questions.
Can I count on Shady tonight?
Yeah, I have very, very little doubt that LeSean McCoy will be just fine tonight against the Seahawks. I suppose there's slightly more risk than usual because of his sprained toe, but I'd play him.
Better play: 1 point ppr WR-Andre Johnson or C.J. Spiller?? I know always play your studs but "Yates" is scary...I like CJ's upside and ppr helps...your thoughts??? I know always play
Hi, Jeff. Hey, I get it. I downed AJ to #10 in my ranks this week, which is unheard of for a guy of his talent. And you're right, Spiller looks better in a PPR. I wouldn't scoff at you if you made that choice. If it's me, though, I'm pretty stubborn: I'd feel *really* crummy if Johnson went off while he was sitting on my fantasy bench.
Do you think Bradshaw really plays this week? If so, how effective can he be without practicing? If he does play, do you put him, Helu or Mendy in the flex spot? (standard scoring)
Hi, Kathy. I have to admit I'm skeptical that Bradshaw will play, though there are reports out of Giants camp this morning that he doesn't necessarily need to practice to play. I think I'd probably let him play out a week on my bench to make sure he can actually go, and roll with Mendenhall (who, I admit, has been maddening).
Shameless offer: answer this question and I will buy a copy of Slotback Rhapsody, promise! FA pickup for the playoffs: S. Moss, J. Knox or D. Baldwin? I love Knox's upside, but S. Moss draws NE week 14! And Baldwin is #1 on the depth chart! Book tour in Atlanta?
Ha. Thank, Hank. I will find some way to hold you to it. Here's the thing about Knox...the Bears are going out of their way to say that when Devin Hester is fully healthy, he's still a starter. Obviously, we all know that's dumb, and that Knox should be in there, right? But for as long as the Bears are stubborn, I'm a bit shaky. Hm. I mean, with Rice out for the playoffs, Baldwin isn't an awful idea. Sure, Moss v. Pats is attractive, but it sure would be nice to see him submit a nice game first. At the moment, I'll give Baldwin the nod, and hope he makes up for his slot role with volume.
By the way...just got this Facebook post from Steven D., for all of you who are on the fence about the book: "The book is great, I'm 7 chapters in two days and I have a tremendously busy schedule. I really like how you just immersed me in the story/plot from the beginning and let myself put the pieces together, rather than bore me with a detailed plot/background explanation from the beginning. Great use of imagery too, "...nose is a fullback charging into the open field..." only people who enjoy football can really understand what that means, I really like that. I just have one question, can you really empty out your bladder and turkey baste clean pee into it through your uretha? HAHA."
how serious is cruz's hip and should his owners be concerned?
Hi, Dave. I'm a Cruz owner in one league, and I'm not rattled yet. Yeah, it wasn't fun to see him listed as "limited" in practice, but Tom Coughlin supposedly went out of his way to say that Cruz would be back to full speed in practice soon. I'm rolling with him, especially because there are still real questions about Manningham's availability.
Hi Chris... Reggie Wayne a 1 game abberation? Worth a start as a WR3 this week? Don't know what sort of running out of the endzone antics Orlovsky will be up to against NE. Thanks
Hi, Ryan. Ha. Poor Orlovsky. He'll never live it down. I mean, yeah, at the moment I'm willing to chalk it up to a one-game aberration. Obviously, Wayne didn't go from being a top-20 WR to completely untalented overnight...this is all about the QB, and for sure, the matchup (vs. NE) is right. Still, until I see evidence that Orlovsky is the major-league QB that Curtis Painter obviously wasn't, I remain skeptical. I ranked him 37th among WRs this week.
Should Murray turn around now that his fullback Tony Fia-whatever returned??
Hi, Ben. Actually, Tony Fiammetta hasn't returned, and there's reportedly a real chance he *won't* return for the rest of the season. I don't think I'm willing to draw a straight line between his absence and Murray failing to get 100 yards rushing the past two weeks...and in fact, Murray has still gotten 100 yards from *scrimmage* in those past two games, so I think the "problems" are overstated anyway. Short answer: No Fiammetta, but I'm still starting Murray.
Turner and McGahee are very close in most rankings. Can you give some insight as to which one makes a better start this week? Turner has a bad matchup and the groin, McGahee a so-so matchup and coming off illness and a tweaked ankle... arghh.
Hi, Josh. I was kind of the lone holdout on Turner, still listing him far above the others, so for me I think I still go with him. The only caveat there is that you're right, the stuff about his groin isn't encouraging, and he has the second-most carries in the NFL right now...we all know he's got a chance to wear down. I think both are quality options. But I think I'm playing Turner. The Texans *have* actually given it up a bit to RBs in like three of their past four games.
As a Vick owner can I trust V. Young the rest of the way as my QB if Vick goes down indefinitely?
Well, yeah, I think you can, really. I mean, VY ain't Vick. He doesn't have that escapability or running chops, and his accuracy, I'll admit, has left something to be desired at times. But compared to most of the other waiver trash that's out there at this time of year (Kyle Orton, maybe?), I have to imagine Young gives you the best chance. Truthfully, though, I kind of expect Vick back in Week 14.
What are your thoughts on Sproles lately? He seems to not be getting the production he was earlier in the year. I am thinking of sitting him this week for J Stew or Bradshaw.
Hi, Danny. For my specific ranks suggestions, you can check out http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=11ranksWeek13RB, but my Sproles thoughts are: His "excellence" was vastly overstated earlier in the year, and my ranks consistently said so. He was always an "OK" #2 fantasy rusher, and probably better as a flex, unless you're in a PPR league. He's still getting a whopping number of touches out of the backfield, which is great, and he's still my fave Saints RB for fantasy. But he hasn't broken all those big plays (those were never going to recur every single week), and that's led to a relative diminishing of fantasy excellence. See my answer above about Bradshaw, BTW...
I have Det and Hou Def...should i pick up Oak, Den, or SD and drop Daniels if I have Fred Davis? I like Det and Hou matchups in the playoffs
Happy birthday, James. For my specific suggestions on Week 13 defenses, see the ESPN ranks. But so far as dropping Daniels goes...yes, I think you can do that, if you feel like you want the roster spot. (Of course, you could also just swap out defenses.) Hopefully Davis stays healthy, so you don't need that depth.
who gets affected the most,dez or Robinson with Austins return.I'm surprised they are going back to Dez to punt return.is this a sign of some sort.
Hi, Andy. Good question, and for the moment I'm not sure, though I'm also not sure that Austin will actually return this week. We have to watch the practice wires, and see what people are saying about how Austin is running. It might be another week. But if we hear that he's practicing fine, my assumption is that he takes away more from Robinson than Bryant, if only because Bryant and Austin are going to play in 2-receiver sets. That's not to say Robinson would be an auto-bench. Not at all, especially not Austin's first week back. But the magical run for Robinson is probably nearing an end in the near future.
No qualms sitting DeSean tonight for LaRo right?
Hi, Shane. Well, no, I have qualms. I have Robinson ranked 20th and Jackson 21st among WRs. Let's face it: Robinson is an interesting talent, and he's been on the fantasy radar screen for a couple years. But he ain't DeSean Jackson. If Jackson doesn't drop (or turtle) those couple passes last week, we're talking about him as a top-10 option...he's going to have the *opportunity* to make more big plays than almost any WR in the NFL. Of course, if he keeps botching them, that's a reason to bench him. By the letter of the law, yes, I'm starting Robinson. But I'm qualming like crazy.
Hey Chris! I know Hillis has tough sledding ahead, but with him seemingly 100% and having success against BAL last year, is he worth a flex play over Andre Johnson this week? I can't believe I'm asking this...
Hi, Andrew. I know. How the mighty have fallen, man. I wish I could be definitive on *either* of these guys, two of the most disappointing players in fantasy this year. I still have AJ rank in a spot where I'd play him above a question-mark RB like Hillis. But you're right...with one fine performance, Hillis can absolutely erase some of the question marks, whereas T.J. Yates is T.J. Yates. I *think* I'd play AJ. But wouldn't scoff at starting Hillis instead.
More Robinson, Austin talk... Assuming Austin is out do you sit Murray, Blount or Roddy for Robinson?? I don't think I could stomach it..
Hi, Sean. No, I don't think I do. Those other three guys are just ranked higher for me.
Who do you like in the flex this week, V-Jax against a banged up 2ndary in Jacksonville or B. Jacobs against Green Bay's generous Run D?
Hi, Mike. Jackson absolutely maddens because he's such a freaking roller coaster, and Jacobs can surely occasionally flash competence, as he did on that one run vs. the Saints Monday night. But I think I'd play Jackson. Jacobs has regressed badly to my eyes, and while normally I like to err on the side of the RB just because he gets more chances, the NYG running game feels a bit beyond salvage at the moment. Not at all a no-brainer, but I think Jackson for me.
Hey, gang...just a note here that you're asking *so* many standard-league, single-position questions. You can get my answers to them all here: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=11ranksWeek13RB. I *promise* I didn't withhold my opinions when I did those ranks.
can I get your book for my iPad? Also, in a keeper/dynasty league how concerned about Maclin are you? I have him behind Megatron and Fitz so I dont need him to play, I just hate seeing one of my keepers nicked up.
Hi, Joe. You can get the book on iTunes for like six bucks. Go to http://www.slotbackrhapsody.com. As far as Maclin goes, I'm actually kind of encouraged. At this point, I find it hard to believe that the Eagles will re-sign DeSean Jackson to a mega-deal. He's just such a headache. I think they're going to be willing to go into next season with Maclin as their top guy, and I think you're going to see more deep speed from him than he's been able to show with D-Jax around. I know these injuries stink, but dynasty-wise, I think his arrow is pointing up.
Fact or Fiction: Laurent Robinson becomes a WR2 taking over Dez's job if Austin comes back and Dez goes to punt return\WR3
I think it's fiction. The Cowboys know that Dez is their most talented WR. Getting him to be consistent and to be explosive even in the face of extra attention from defenses is a project. But he's the best guy they have. I don't see it.
Have I done enough to keep getting a high dose of carries when DMC finally makes it back? Can my owners count on me for Weeks 15 and 16?
Well, it depends what we mean by "high dose." Between 5 and 10, yes, absolutely, he was getting that when McFadden was healthy earlier this year. But more than that? Maybe Run-DMC's first game back, yes, they ease him in. But once he's proven he's right, I think we're going back to the land of < 10 carries for Bush per week.
know its a one position question but my opponent has vincent jackson and aj green. should i start VY instead of Rivers or Dalton to maximize upside of points?
Hi, DF. It's a tough question to answer definitively not knowing the rest of your respective starting lineups, but I have to say that sometimes I'd *rather* play the QB who throws to my opponent's stud WR, just to limit that stud's upside, provided I've got some very nice upside elsewhere myself. Put it this way: I don't think this is something that needs to be a very large factor in your decision.
Morning Chris! Could you please advise me on who to start with Rice in my PPR league? Your options are Mathews, Beanie and McGahee. Keep up the good work!
Hi, Peter. It strikes me that Mathews is the best bet to add extra points via receptions, considering he's got 36 catches while McGahee has 11 and Wells had 6. For me, that's enough to suggest that you use Mathews, 'cuz otherwise they're all pretty close.
i see a lot of the experts are saying Michael Bush wont take a back seat to DMC when he returns? We see this every year now, McFadden is the true stud there and Bush hasn't looked GREAT (a lot of volume though) so why all the skepticism?
Yeah, Tom, I'm not sure where they're coming from. I agree: Bush hasn't been dynamic...he's a thumper. McFadden is a game-breaker, and the Raiders know it. If they can get his foot right, I don't have much doubt that he'd be back in the saddle as their top guy.
What's the latest on Julio? Can I trust him this week. He received zero targets last week. Should I start Cooper tonight over him?
Hi, Tim. I don't have any inside info here; I'm probably reading the same stuff you are. He didn't practice on Wednesday, which is alarming coming off a game where he was in and out of the lineup. If Cooper is your *only* other option, I guess I don't mind using him tonight. My preference, if you have anyone else, would be to wait and see if Julio can get back to full practice by tomorrow.
What's the latest on Kevin Smith? MoMo worth a start if Smith sits?
Hi, Will. Smith told reporters he thinks he can play, despite the fact that he couldn't practice yesterday. I tend not to listen to what players say in cases like this, because after all, Adrian Peterson was telling us all last week he would be ready to go. (We knew better.) Plus the DET/NO game is Sunday night, so it would be tough to wait for him. But since you have Morris (and if he's your next-best option), you can afford to wait.
Injury methodology question: i know you have mario ranked higher, but I'm worried about his knee, do you think D baldwin could have big game against an overrated eagles secondary?
Hi, Keith. I mean, he *could*. He's had two double-digit fantasy point games this season, and with no Sidney Rice there's a chance he gets a bunch of looks. I wish I could make a guarantee for you. If Manningham plays (big if, I know), I trust that the Giants will throw like mad to stay with GB, and he'll be a part of that. But you're right, it's scary.
Re: Bush and DMC. When DMC returns, do owners who own both feel comfortable starting both?
Hi, Tim. I know I wouldn't. It might be tough to choose between 'em that first week when DMC is back, but you cap your upside so much if you play both, and OAK can't run that day. Especially in the fantasy playoffs.
PPR RB/WR/TE Flex, 2 spots. What order do you put Harvin, Dez, Witten, Morris, Nicks?
Man, I certainly hope Mouse has better things to do right now than chat with me. (But I'm honored.) I think I go...Nicks, Harvin, Witten, Dez, Morris (because of the PPR factor). I list Morris last especially because, as I just mentioned, NO/DET is Sunday night, and you won't be able to wait for him....
Chris: Who's the most "Flex-ible" this week: Hillis, Harvin or J-Stew?
Hi, Adam. It freaks me out a little because of the timeshare, but I think I'm going Stewart. D-Willy has been the better player the past couple weeks, but the matchup vs. TB is *so* sweet, I think there's room for each guy to make a play. Fingers crossed.
One more on DMC, what do you think his value will be for our playoffs? will he be a RB1/2 or more of a flex player?
Hi, Ryan. I think he's at least an RB2, if not higher.
Does Philip Rivers make you nervous? I know the Jags secondary is banged up, but he's been so erractic this year. I picked up VY and see most sites have them ranked next to each other. Just stick with Rivers?
Hi, Scott. Yes, absolutely, he makes me nervous has H-E-double-hockey-sticks. I've watched the tape of his game last week once already, and am about to rewatch for tomorrow's Hard Count. But of course, you have to make a decision on VY before that. I do have Young one notch higher, which is basically telling you I don't know either. Let me put it to you this way: which would pain you more, if Rivers was on your bench and he went crazy, or if VY was. That's probably your answer.
Do you think AP comes back this year? If so, will he be a RB1? Seems like vikes have no reason to rush him back.
Hi, Adam. Oh, definitely, he'll be back. I think he'll be back in Week 14.
Mr. Harris: As FFL playoff time approaches, I'm looking at NFL teams that are gearing up for real-life playoffs. I've stashed Kendall Hunter on my bench figuring that the 49ers will use him more once they clinch their playoff position. Smart move or do you think I've over thought this?
Hi, JB. I don't think adding Hunter is a bad idea, but I actually don't think it's because of the Niners' playoff aspirations. My take is that they're going to be fighting for a first-round bye all the way through the end of the season, and they won't be resting players. But Hunter is a *talented* player (he was my favorite rookie RB in April's draft), and Frank Gore is showing a bit of creakiness. I think he's a nice stash regardless.
Do you like what you;ve seen of me the last 2 weeks? Or will I go back to middling WR2 status when Julio is fully implemented?
I love how much the Falcons have used White of late, but you're right, there's no guarantee that he's going to get that same usage if and when Julio Jones is himself again. My sense is that you still roll with White as a low-level WR1 regardless. But I'm willing to have the facts of the case in the next few games change my mind.
Do you have concerns about Matt Forte going forward?
Hi, Mike. No, I think we know exactly what he is: a very good all-round player who won't get the ball near the goal line. He's solid, even with Caleb Hanie at QB. He's got 52 catches, third-most by a RB right now, which makes him a pretty decent bet for 100 yards from scrimmage every week. But that lack of TDs hurts, and will continue to hurt. This is a good matchup this week versus KC, but normally I view him as a low-level RB1.
What?! No questions about me? Relatively speaking, how safe of a RB2 option am I now in PPR leagues? Better than JStew ROS?
Heh, I think you can understand everyone's skepticism when it comes to a Redskins RB. If I have a playoff spot on the line, it would give me the heebie-jeebies to have to start Helu. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it. But I don't believe anything that comes out of Mike Shanahan's mouth when it comes to RBs. Let's see how the workload gets doled out this week, too. For now, I'm still with Stewart.
Playoffs start next week, methinks I sneak in, I have the Ravens D, just plug them in every week or look to matchups on the wire?
Hi, Kevin. I think you probably just ride 'em.
Rather have me or Nicks ROS?
Nicks, probably. You're right, that final play vs. PIT last week was embarrassing, and until I *see* Kyle Orton playing, and playing well, in place of Tyler Palko, I have to go with Nicks.
Jordy at home is an automatic start, but on the road he's been putting up some low numbers (minus the San Diego game). Is this just a weird coincidence, or does it bear something else?
Hi, Scott. Well, I don't know the man personally, so I can't swear up and down, but I've never believed that home/road means anything, especially not for a team that plays outdoors at home. I think it's a coincidence.
Who is the lottery ticket behind Turner: Rodgers or Snelling?
Hi, Jason. I think it's Snelling. I have a hard time imagining the Falcons hooking up the tiny Rodgers with a full load of carries.
Why so low on the Texans D/St. Should I play the broncos D/ST instead?
Hi, Neidig. Obviously, you can check out my ranks on ESPN.com to see which I like better, but I can explain why I have Houston lower than normal...it's all about the Falcons offense. It's been really good of late. Past four games since their bye, Atlanta's offense has allowed opposing fantasy defenses to score 5, -2, -1 and 4 points, and that says nothing about what kinds of awkward positions that T.J. Yates could put the Texans D in. I'm not saying they're a must-bench, but I rated 'em 15th this week.
Why so low on the Falcons D, do you really think they can't contain Foster and get a few picks off the rookie QB?
Hi, Jerry. Well, I did rank ATL ahead of HOU (11th). I thought I was actually giving 'em kind of a big boost, considering for the season they've scored the 19th-most fantasy points among all NFL defenses. And yes, with a more proven QB the Texans have been one of the worst teams for your defense to play against. That was as high as I could make myself go on 'em, though. I do worry that Foster will get bottled up, 'cuz that ATL D has been awesome against the run. (But no, I'm not benching Foster for anything.)
Is Marion Barber worth flex play consideration over someone like Tampa Mike Williams? I also own Matt Forte.
Hi, Alex. I like the thought, but I think I'd avoid playing both Forte and Barber, especially because Williams has shown signs of life the past two weeks. If it's me, I think I probably roll with Williams and hope for another competent day.
I see your ranks and would like for your clarification in regards to CJ Spiller. I would think that he should be a little higher going against Tenn. I'm actually thinking about starting him over SJax. Thanks CH!
Hi, Al. I did like Spiller's workload last week -- it was heartening to see Tashard Choice and Johnny White basically get nothing. But I watched the tape, and didn't see Spiller look very good. Nor do I consider the Titans a plus matchup for an opposing RB. Yes, the Texans lit them up a while back, but in their past five games, they've held opposing RBs to below-average production (average = roughly 16 fantasy points from combined RBs per team). I don't hate Spiller. I just don't love him.
OK, gang, one more, and then I've got to get cracking on this Hard Count column for tomorrow.....
Not scared by the CINCI matchup for Antonio Brown? Tristan sure seems to be
Hi, Dig...yeah, you'd have to ask Tristan why he has Brown outside his top 30 WRs. I like the matchup. The Bengals secondary hasn't looked the same since Leon Hall got hurt, and the numbers bear that out: the past 3 weeks, the Bengals have allowed 25, 31 and 24 fantasy points to opposing WRs, and over the past 5 weeks they've allowed the second-most fantasy points to WRs of any defense in the league. That's not a matchup that scares me.
OK, gang, I really do have to get going. I know it's a complete bummer not to get your question answered, and I'm sorry...we got upwards of 1,500 Q's here in an hour, and a writerboy can only do so much. Please feel free to follow me on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/writerboyESPN) and/or friend me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/writerboy). And once more, if you'd like to take a look at my football-themed novel, it's at http://www.slotbackrhapsody.com. If you've already purchased it and read it, I'd love to know what you think. Thanks, and have a great day.