Good morning, everyone. Welcome to a Week 15 chat...let's see if we can work on a fantasy playoff win. A few notes: please don't ask single-position questions for standard leagues...you can find my answers on ESPN.com's rankings. Also, I know it can be frustrating not to get your question answered, but there are already hundreds and hundreds entered, so I'm sorry if I don't get to yours. You can also ask me on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/writerboyESPN) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/writerboy). Finally, please check out my novel, Slotback Rhapsody. The very fact that you're in this chat means you like football, and I honestly think if you like football, you'll like this book. It's fiction, about an undersized dude who's trying to make an NFL roster. It's funny. Lots of on-field and off-field hijinx, and Buddhism. Find out more here: http://www.slotbackrhapsody.com. What a great gift idea! OK, so let's get to your questions.....
Hi Chris, really admire your work! Start your studs... makes sense, but what if your studs are Rodgers and Stafford? Is going with Stafford too cute? Thanks!
Hi, EV. *Could* Stafford outdo Rodgers this week? Of course. But I'm not betting on it, and if Rodgers goes wild and he's on my bench, I'll never forgive myself.
Can you please pick two in a PPR league: Shonn Greene, Cedric Benson, CJ Spiller or Felix Jones?
Hi, Steve. I'd probably try Jones and Greene. Benson's got a good matchup, but he just doesn't catch the ball enough in a PPR.
how much will Barber's gaffes last week impact his opportunities this week? Thanks.
Hi, Wayne. I'm of a mind that they won't. No guarantees, obviously...I'm not in that locker room. But we all know Barber played really well for about 3.5 quarters. I do think Kahlil Bell sees action (he saw a bunch last week, especially in the first half), but I'm OK using Barber.
I own Houston and Atlanta D/ST. You have them ranked 1 spot apart, but you are significantly higher on Atlanta than your fellow rankers. Can you please briefly explain? Thanks for all of your insight this year!
Hi, Chip. The Jags are pretty generous to opposing defenses, and I also feel like this is a game where the Falcons should just *romp*. Their strengths on D (stopping the run) lines up with the only good thing Jacksonville *does* on D (run), and I think tonight's game has the potential to just be a total blowout. I guess that's my logic, though HOU has been really reliable on D this year, too. Very close.
Hello Christopher ! I am having trouble deciding between Felix Jones and Vincent Jackson. VJax is up against a tough D this week, but he is still capabale of putting explosive stats. What do u think? muchas gracias!
Hi, Alvaro. I think I'd play Felix, unless my team composition was such that I really wanted to try and hit a home-run in this spot. I anticipate Felix doing a nice job against a dreadful Tampa run defense, while V-Jax has a chance to do very little versus the Ravens. Of course, he also has his every-week chance of going for 3 TDs. Feast or famine.
Need a big win! Can I trust Julio Jones tonight to stay healthy tonight and produce??
Hi, Sarah. Julio had a nice second half last week and it could've been an even bigger game, as he lost concentration on what might've been a couple other scores. I think he's healthy, and I see a few other folks worrying about if it's a blowout, will Jones sit in the fourth quarter. He might. But that wouldn't stop me from using him.
Mr. Harris: I've been lucky thus far but I think I've finally run into a problem. Taking into consideration that Spiller can be played at WR in ESPN leagues and that it is a PPR, I'm looking at Turner, Mendenhall, Sproles, Colston, and Spiller this week but I did just pick up Demaryius Thomas. Is he worth starting ahead of any of those guys? Thanks for being there all season for us.
Hi, J.B. You're welcome, and thanks to *you* for sticking around all year. Clearly Turner and Mendy are not optimal options in a PPR, since neither catches much of anything. I'd have a hard time getting away from Sproles or Colston. Honestly, I think I'd use Thomas over Spiller, though. The Dolphins D has been awfully tough, and at this point I'm kind of expecting Tebow to be able to throw on the Pats.
You have Austin ranked 2 spots higher than LoRo? You think LoRo will take a back seat? Ihave both in one league and can't decide who to start.
Hi, Dave. It's brutal, right!? I wish I had a definitive formula. What I know from the tape is that Robinson wasn't out there but perhaps half the time in that Cowboys offense, while Dez and Miles were out there the entire game. Of course, when he *was* out there, Robinson made plays, continuing to take advantage of the attention Dez gets. I thought Austin looked good, and if it were my team, I think I'd play him. But I would absolutely forgive you for telling me to shove it, and playing the hot hand. And that's Robinson.
Chris, why do you have the Titans D ranked so low against a horrible Colts offense?
Hi, Dave. Well, I did mention the Titans as a good free-agent add in our Free Agent Finds column earlier in the week, so it's not like I'm hatin' on 'em. But I also look at their game log lately, and I see some truly crummy performances mixed in with some good ones. And weirdly, the Colts offense *hasn't* been giving up massive fantasy point days to opposing defenses since Orlovsky's been under center...Patriots scored 3 against them, Ravens scored 12. I guess I wasn't comfortable enough to top-10 'em.
Have have Ryan Grant waiting. Any word on Starks? My other option is J.Stew and frankly I'm sick of him. Thanks for everything you guys do!! Later.
Hi, Jeff. Starks didn't practice Wednesday, and beat reporters think it's a stretch that we'll see him active against the Chiefs. It makes sense---they really don't have *that* much to play for, and they should get their guys healthy. I whiffed majorly on Grant last week (lovely when a guy you bash breaks the first play of the game for a long TD run), and this is a healthy matchup for him. I have him as a solid flex.
In your rankings you have Det & Tenn right next to each other. Do you see one being more safe than the other? I figure I'd rather go with the D with the highest floor, which I would expect to be Tenn - agree? It's also strange to see that everyone else ranks Detroit at 7 or better...
Hi, PB. There was a *ton* of dissent in the D/ST ranks this week! I was pretty surprised, too. I guess the memory of that huge scoring day against Christian Ponder last week is fresh in everyone's minds. Myself, I'm remembering the four straight crummy games for that D before last week, which pumps the brakes for me. I think I agree...I think the Titans' floor is higher.
Ben Tate a good play this week? I could see him seeing a lot of time in the second half during a blowout.
Hi, Dempsey. Heck, it doesn't have to be the second half, even. I'm not sure I can definitively predict a blowout in a game started by T.J. Yates, but I do think it's pretty clear that the Texans' strategy is to roll with both their RBs. I think Tate is a viable flex play, too.
Are you worried about Mike Wallace this week?
Hi, John. I guess I understand the worry to some extent, because it's a Monday night game, and we might not know definitively whether Big Ben is playing until Monday afternoon. If it's Charlie Batch, yeah, I think we'd all be really disappointed about that. But this is Big Ben. I mean, he's gonna play, right? Doesn't he always play in situations like this? If he's in there, I'm cool with Wallace as a regular No. 1.
Hey Chris great job this season, I have shady McCoy gore spiller and The law firm, is it a bad idea to sit gore against the steelers and play spiller or law firm?
Hi, Chubs. Thanks. I get where you're coming from...both Gore and Mendenhall would appear to have awful matchups in the Monday night tilt. But I hate Spiller's matchup against the Dolphins, and after seeing BJGE play for only a handful of snaps in last week's game against the Redskins, I reaffirm my contention that you can't trust any Pats back. I think I'd just swallow hard and go with Gore.
Is Kevin Smith just ranked low because he may not play this week and its early? Or is mendenhall REALLY a better play?
Hi, Tom. It's a good question -- I'm actually writing about Smith for this week's Hard Count. I have him and Mendy ranked back-to-back this week (Mendy one spot higher)...the 49ers probably do have to allow a RB TD at some point this year (everyone does eventually), but it's still scary to have your RB go against 'em. Smith's scariness comes from the idea that even if he starts, there's no guarantee he won't just feel the ankle and go right back to the locker room again. I like Smith this week. I just think I like Mendy that one notch more.
What is your reasoning for ranking mathews at the #8 spot despite his matchup? I'm itching to play him...mostly because my other options are mcgahee, barber and handcuff tolbert
Hi, Andrew. Got asked about that one a lot on Twitter last night. Let's say this...the Ravens haven't been an awful matchup for opposing RBs the past five weeks. Both Marshawn Lynch and Cedric Benson got 'em pretty good, and Chris Ogbonnaya had a huge receiving day against them. Obviously, they're not soft. But I'm just saying they've given it up, and Mathews is a top-10 fantasy back riding three straight double-digit games. I guess my risk tolerance is a little higher than the others right there.
If Nate Washington is healthy would you play him over Bowe? And I snagged Driver off the wire too. What can we expect from him?
I assumed Washington would be healthy enough to play in the weekly ranks, so when I ranked Bowe ahead of him, I really was thinking he's a better start. The Driver question is a great one -- I'll try and address that in this week's Hard Count (tomorrow), too. I wish there was a definite answer for who's the best replacement for Greg Jennings...it might just be Jermichael Finley, but it also could be Driver, who's had more production than James Jones of late. But Jones is by far the most explosive player. Kind of a conundrum. Looking forward to finding out the answer Sunday.
Ok to roll with A. Brown with Batch or Big Ben starting? I am nervous!!! Should I play it safe and start "Moss or Bowe?
Hi, Chris. I think all Steeler passing game questions are going to come down to individual risk tolerance. I feel pretty strongly that Big Ben will play. He's a diva, and he'll milk this for all it's worth, but he always seems to play in such circumstances. But hey, that's just opinion. If you'd rather not risk it, Moss is a pretty nice option against a bad NYG pass defense.
Hey Chris, Im worried that the SD offense is going to shred the Baltimore D. Do you agree?
Hi, Josh. Well, no, I think "shred" is a little harsh. I did rank the Ravens D 7th, though, for exactly the reason you imply...the Chargers are hot and have been a nasty matchup for opposing Ds for a little while here. It's a *terrible* matchup. You probably just go ahead and start 'em, and hope for the best. But yeah, I mean, it's literally the lowest I've ranked 'em all year, I believe.
In Non PPR would you BENCH Gore (my RB2) v. a tough Pitt. D,--for any of these guys outta this group: Spiller, B.Tate, K.Smith (if healthy), OR Demaryius Thomas.? I need 1 RB & 1 FLEX
Ah, North Dallas 40. Love the book. (Did I mention I have a football novel, too? www.slotbackrhapsody.com) Yeah, I hate the matchup for Gore. But I think I'm playing him, simply because you're lacking another truly elite option. I think for my other pick it's either Tate or Thomas. I might just give Tate a high-upside try.
A vast majority of my points will come elsewhere. Among Marshall, L. Robinson and Moss, which 2 are the "safest" bet to get me 20 points combined (.4 PPR)?
Hi, Ryan. Well, Robinson is the wild card there, clearly. I really do believe one of these weeks he's not getting into the end zone, and that'll be a week where he doesn't give you much. I think Marshall and Moss are safer.
Why do low on Locker? I have to decide between him and Grossman for this week!
Hi, Joe. Wow, how the not-so-mighty have risen! One kind of nice half against the Saints, and there's a lot of love for Locker. (It's not just you...I see a bunch of such questions.) All I can say is...he's never played before. And as I mentioned earlier, the Colts haven't been as bad on D as you think against the pass lately. That's why I have Grossman so much higher...love RG's matchup vs. NYG.
You ranked Ivory #38 and 2 of the other rankers didn't rank him at all. Why such a disparity? I am desperate and need to start him!
Hi, Peter. I'm quite sure the others didn't rank him because they think that Mark Ingram will return; if Ingram is back in the lineup, Ivory will be inactive and thus worth nothing. That's what it comes down to...Ivory is usable if Ingram is inactive. I know Ingram didn't practice yesterday...we'll just have to see what Saints practice looks like today and tomorrow.
I have a survivor question for you. Down to the final 2 and I have limited options this week. Should I go with the Cards vs. Cle or the Bengals at STL?
Hi, Matt. I'm not all that good at Survivor, I have to admit. I watch so much dang film, you'd *think* I'd be OK. But maybe it's paralysis by over-analysis? Anyway, pressed to make a call here, I'd probably go with the home favorite, Arizona. But I don't feel great about it.
Why so low on Mike Williams (TB)? He's got a great matchup against a bad secondary.
Hi, Logan. Well, I'm not positive it definitively qualifies as a *bad* secondary. Certainly, it was nausea-provoking late against the Giants last week. But they haven't been all bad before that, and Williams fell off his good streak last week in a very winnable situation vs. the moribund Jags. I guess my faith was shaken.
Do you think Wade Phillip's abscence affects the Texan's D any?
Hi, BJ. It's a really good question. My past recollections of similar circumstances leads me to conclude no...they're probably all right. Of course, Cam Newton can occasionally do some damage....
Will Orton getting the nod have any impact on your GB D/ST ranking?
Hi, Nate. It might. I haven't processed it entirely yet...certainly, part of the reason I hiked 'em so high was the Palko factor. I do expect the Chiefs to be more competent offensively with Orton under center, and I do think I'll drop GB out of my top spot. But probably not out of the top 10.
Admit that you have a personal bias re: Locker
Hi, John. Ha. If anything, my bias should be in favor. I wrote tons of stuff this summer about thinking he had the best long-term fantasy potential of any QB in last year's draft, which in light of Newton's ascendance just makes me look stupid. I like Locker a lot, and am impressed by his accuracy in the short time we've seen him.
ESPN Player Projections - How are the calculated? Thanks!
Hi, TG. Honestly, I'm not involved in that process at all. The ranks and the projections are done entirely independent of one another, because the projections have to be completed by Tuesday morning, when the game rolls over to the next week. We don't do our ranks until Tuesday night / Wednesday morning. So I'm not the right guy to ask about that....
My league lets us start a qb in the flex spot... Would you play Percy Harvin or Rex Grossman???
Hi, Steve. So tough not to use QBs in flex spots if you're allowed, and in Grossman's case, I like the matchup enough that he'd be my choice.
In a league that rewards big plays and games (4 for 40yd td and 5 for 50yd td and 4 for 100yd game) and going against Jac am I crazy to consider starting Julio Jones over Mika Wallace?
Hi, Brian. Not crazy, no. I understand, especially if you have a low threshold for risk over Big Ben's situation. Me, I'd probably roll with Wallace...he's at least as big a big-play threat as Jones is. But I understand why you'd do it.
Hey Chris, with the news of Sam Bradford's setback, do you think Lloyd will be affected enough where LoRo or Manningham would be better? We also get a point per target.
Hi, LP. I would definitely want to use Robinson over Manningham, so it comes down to Lloyd or Robinson. I did put Robinson one notch ahead of Lloyd even with a healthy Bradford...if we could get definitive word before Saturday night that Bradford's not playing, it would make your decision easier. I think I'd play Robinson regardless, though.
Trade Question: Would you veto or approve this trade:L. McCoy and Celeck For A. Gates and Felix?
Hi, Mike. My threshold for vetoes is *really* high. It has to be an obvious tank job. This isn't that. It's an "approve" for me.
C H, thanks for all the insight this year. Experts continually rank S. Smith (car.) over Bryant, LoRo and AJ Green. Yet, the 2nd half of this season, those other guys have out performed smith. I need a win this week, and am having a hard time starting smith over those guys when he faces Houstan. Your thoughts?
Hi, Troy. Hey, I get it. Smith had a real lull in his season, but he certainly sprang out of it last week against the Falcons. He's going to see a lot of Johnathan Joseph Sunday, and that's not a good thing. But those other guys all have their warts, too. Green would be my next-best guy, but the reason I keep ranking Smith in the top 10 is the same reason I rank Megatron in the top 10 despite all these multiple weeks of mediocrity. They're so darned talented. It's really tough to move them too low, because they seem likely to break out (much the way Smith did last week).
So I've stuck it out with VJax all year and its gotten me into the semi-finals...but based on match-ups and his inconsistency, I'm leaning towards sitting him and starting AJ Green. Should I go with my gut or just use what's gotten me there?
Hi, Xander. As you can see from my ranks, I have Green one notch higher than Jackson. But one notch doesn't equal a lot, so this is really a philosophy question. Let me ask you: which would tick you off more, if you left Jackson on your bench and he went off, or if you left Green on your bench and he went off? That's your answer....
Need flex help, please! J-Stew, Baldwin, or Starks (if he plays). Torrey Smith is available too.
Hi, Hoyt. I don't like the matchup against Houston, but I don't like your other options, either. I probably cross my fingers and go with Stewart.
Bradshaw or Witten in FLEX??? Jimmy Graham is my TE.
Hi, Tim. Hm. I guess Witten. Don't like it, but don't trust Bradshaw right now.
How do you feel about the "Eggs in a basket" strategy. I.E. - starting Tebow and D. Thomas together?
Hi, Ben. I'm not opposed to eggs in a basket when it's QB and WR. I get nervous when a RB gets in the mix, because it limits your upside. Obviously, this E.I.B. is a little scarier because you never know when Tebow is going to go 2-for-42 or something. But hey, against NE, you'd have to *think* it's a good enough matchup that you should roll with both. Certainly use Tebow either way, if you've been using him to this point.
Not a ranking Q, more about upside: I lost Forte in a 14-team league. My ONLY RB options are Kahlil Bell, Battle and Maurice Morris and will need one of them to put up an RB1 type of week to have a chance. Knowing none of them can be counted on for that, who do you think has the best chance at having a big-time fluke of a week?
Hi, Dan. I'd probably put Bell as the guy with the biggest chance to bust a big one...I've always liked the guy, and thought he deserved a chance as a third-down kind of player. He's got the speed and quickness to break a huge one; the other two guys you mention, less so.
Hey Chris, can you explain your ranking of Helu over Greene? I have to decide on which of them to play this week. Thanks.
Hi, Jim. Well, it's all about Helu's crazy production these three weeks. Some have asked why I don't have him in the top 10. Greene was nice vs. the Chiefs last week, but it might be a bit tougher against the Eagles. Hey, it's close. I just have Helu a couple spots higher.
OK, gang, one more, and then I have to get writing.....
You are really trusting SJAX this week...Over flex options like Moss, Tate, Thomas or Barber?
Hi, Jo. Well, I don't think the Bengals are a *terrible* matchup for him, certainly no worse than the Seahawks looked to be last week, and he foudn the end zone. I can see an argument for Moss over him in a PPR, but yeah, I mean, I think I would play Jackson and cross my fingers.
All right, I've got to get going. I can see from the scrolling-by questions that many of you get very aggravated not to have your questions answered -- there were upwards of 2,700 in this single hour. I'm sure it feels frustrating, but put yourself in my shoes...it's awfully tough to get to that many. Friend me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/writerboy), tweet me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/writerboyESPN), and I'll try and do my best. I appreciate your interest *very* much, and I most definitely do not take it for granted. I know I wouldn't get to do this great job without your support, so thank you very much. Also, please check out my book, Slotback Rhapsody...maybe you *think* you don't like to read, but this novel is for the football lover in all of us. www.slotbackrhapsody.com.