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December 21, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:03 AM)

Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...

PJ (Omaha)

% of carries Bell gets in Chicago over Barber?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

For preparations, I'd assume something in the 60/40 range (60 for Khalil Bell, 40 for Marion Barber). It's clear that Bell is the Bears' stronger choice and that Barber might be wearing down; I could see it being more like 75/25, with Barber being reserved for goal-line work. Certainly I'd plan that way.

Felix Jones (Dallas)

How worried should my owners be about my hammy?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:06 AM)

Some. I'll state that I'm not <i>that</i> worried yet, but considering Jones' injury history, his practices bear watching this week. Fortunately, we're still early enough in the game, which is why I ranked him well. But grab Sammy Morris to protect yourself, if you can.

John (Denver)

Who will be on revis island this week, Nicks or Cruz?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:07 AM)

My opinion: Hakeem Nicks, if only because of the way the Giants typically line up. Victor Cruz should play quite a bit out of the slot, and Darrelle Revis doesn't usually align with that receiver. It's the primary reason I gave Nicks a more conservative projection this week.

Tim (Charlotte)

Good morning and Happy Holidays!! Is Marshawn Lynch's matchup bad enough this week that its worth giving Jonathan Stewart or Toby Gerhart a look?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:09 AM)

I really, really don't like Marshawn Lynch's matchup, and you'll see proof shortly in my rankings. I haven't lowered him to the point where he'd be a sit for either Stewart or Gerhart -- remember that <i>if</i> the Seahawks get near the goal line, Lynch would be their go-to guy -- but I'd classify him as a low-end RB2 for sure.

Tim Tebow (John Elway's Good Graces)

Can I lead my owners to the title this week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:09 AM)


Dan (NYC)

With CJ Spiller exceeding all expectations, will Fred Jackson be forced to split carries with him next year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:10 AM)

That's an excellent question, Dan, and wish I had the answer to it today. Two things I'd take away from 2011: Jackson's injury could put him in the "earn it" category in a preseason battle. Also, that the Bills did everything in their power to hand C.J. Spiller the starting gig <i>this</I> preseason might hint they'll try the same next. I do think it'll be a battle. My opinion is that Jackson should get the job initially, but I don't run the Bills.

Joel (MI )

Ben Tate over Beast Mode getting too cute this week with lots of money at stake ?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:11 AM)

Yes. But I understand your fears. Tate still gets most of his work icing the clock, and while that's a factor here, we're still talking about a guy usually in the 10-carry range, compared to a clear starter and goal-line weapon getting about 20 carries.

AJ (Boston)

Happy Holidays Tristan! Do you think it's too dangerous starting Robinson &#x26; Austin (I also have Romo

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:14 AM)

It's risky, but I can make a case that both deserve a place in any fantasy lineup. I've made the case -- and did last week -- that Miles Austin has more value than Laurent Robinson, but there's still enough to go around in terms of targets that Austin is a WR2, Robinson a WR3/flex. Of course, I don't know your alternatives...

Hank (Columbia, SC)

How do you feel about W.McGahee this week? Thanks for your help!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:15 AM)

His hamstring injury was the primary obstacle to my ranking him among my top 10 running backs. A matchup against the Bills at Buffalo, where weather often comes into play, is an outstanding one for a running back. As things stand, I'd start him with confidence.

Chuck (Earth)

Is entertaining the idea of starting Matt Ryan over Rodgers ridiculous? Possible Green Bay could be playing for nothing.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:17 AM)

I think it is, yeah, despite my ranking them four spots apart. Everyone talks about Aaron Rodgers potentially sitting; the Packers do still need the win in order to lock up homefield advantage. And for that reason, I expect him to play, and since the matchup is a challenging one, deep into the game.

Adam (Miami)

Can I trust Jordy Nelson this week? He has only been getting 4-5 throws a game (or so it seems) so he really has to maximize on those throws and maybe he is a bit overmatched as a number one receiver with all the extra attention. Thoughts? Would you play Aaron Hernandez or CJ Spiller of Nelson in a PPR?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:22 AM)

I ranked Nelson decently but PPR leagues require further thinking. Hernandez is an extremely intriguing option this week; the Patriots have a history of throwing -- and succeeding -- against the Dolphins, and if Deion Branch sits again it's a huge plus for Hernandez. I think it's Spiller for you, for now, but keep an eye on Branch's health. If he's scratched, Hernandez could be close.

Jamie (ATL)

Playing both Roddy and Julio worked out well for me last week against hte lowly Jags, but is it also a good play this week against the Saints? I need to pick two of Julio, VJax, and Demaryius Thomas to pair with Julio and would love to limit my risk.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:25 AM)

I'd start both with confidence, yes. That could be a shootout with the Saints, and I ranked both Falcons wideouts accordingly. I would go White, Jackson and Jones, if I've read that question correctly.

Flip ( FL)

Happy Holidays!! If Chris Johnson looks like he may be limited by Fri who's the better play Bradshaw splitting carries, or Brown coming off a big game but going against a beter run D

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

I'd keep an eye on Johnson's status for sure, as the practice reports so far aren't great. (Not to mention he had an incredibly disappointing Week 15.) Of those alternatives, I'd go Ahmad Bradshaw. That's a terrible matchup for Donald Brown, and for all we know, he could slip back into a time share at any second.

Arthur (CA)

Blount was horrible againt Carolina a few weeks ago. Do you think Tampa finally commits to the run?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

Yes. Let's not forget that Josh Freeman missed their last battle, and he's healthy for this one. Let Blount's poor numbers serve as reason not to let your expectations get out of control; I still classify him an intriguing RB2.

Jerome (Baltimore )

Any chance Lynch gets a TD on Niners?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:33 AM)

Sure there's a <i>chance</i>, otherwise I'd drop him substantially in the rankings. After all, on 11 carries plus targets this season, Marshawn Lynch has 7 TDs. At the same time, his odds aren't exceptional; the 49ers tend to firm up quite a bit when the opponent is at the goal line. Let's say it's a 20-percent chance.

Peyton Hillis (CLE)

Do I dominate the carries again this week? Odds I find the end zone vs. a tough d?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

Yes, most likely, but that's a miserable matchup and Hillis was awful last time out against the Ravens. I'm saying "no thanks" in most instances.

David (Texas)

After Baltimore's D laid an egg on Sunday night, should I shy away from them this week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

No. Much better matchup.

Andy (Boston)

Does ESPN have a listing to show which offenses have provided fantasy defenses with the most points?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:36 AM)

Yes, it's right <a href="" target="top">here</a>. And it's quite a valuable research tool.

Big Ben (Pitt)

I just read that I was probably going to sit this week. How does this impact Wallace and Brown?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:38 AM)

I did say that I wasn't that concerned about the impact upon Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown if Ben Roethlisberger sat out Week 15, but I am this week, and the reason is the matchups. A 49ers matchup was more favorable for the pass than run, but a Rams matchup eases things up for Rashard Mendenhall, making him the potential focal point. If Big Ben sits, downgrade both Steelers receivers, because I see them running a fair share and minimizing targets to those two. We're talking more like WR2/3 borderline options.

Geoff ('Sota)

Not even a drop of Snow. No White Christmas here. *sigh.In the Championship game this week but also thinking about next year.... Do you draft a QB in the first 4 rounds or wait for a good value. Won last year with Orton/Freeman and might this year with Ryan. Thoughts?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:41 AM)

I think I can only remember two White Christmases in my lifetime. They're pretty rare, but it's still disappointing when we don't have one. Ah well.As for the draft question, that's impossible to answer as one-size-fits-all. I've pointed out countless times that fantasy owners can succeed by waiting for a quarterback, but also that they shouldn't wait <i>too</i> long. It's difficult to piece the position together as you did last year. It's all in where the pieces fall in-draft; in general I'm usually thinking quarterback around the fifth round.

Adam (Finals!!!!!!!!!!)

In a league that gives a point per carry. Blount or S. Jax this week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:43 AM)

A point per <i>carry</I>? Have to say that I've never played in that format. I think Steven Jackson gets about 3-5 carries more than LeGarrette Blount, so that probably balances them out in my rankings. I'd give Blount the slight edge, though, because his matchup presents the far greater upside.

Jeremy (Maryland)

Hi Tristan...your advice last week was key for me moving on to championship so thank you! I'm unsure about my flex and WR2 spots this week. Which two of these guys would you go with: Blount, Maclin, Demaryius, or Antonio Brown? Thanks!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:44 AM)

You are welcome! I think LeGarrette Blount is an automatic as a flex. As for the receivers, go Thomas, if only because I've got questions about the other two (Maclin's health, Brown's quarterback).

Andy (Boston)

The Redskins appear to be bad against TEs. Shiancoe has more points on the year than Cook. Is Cook really a better option this week over Shiancoe (former Fred Davis owner).

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

That's my opinion, but we're still talking TE2s at best. Sure, Visanthe Shiancoe's matchup is outstanding on paper, but he hasn't been getting close to enough targets near the goal line to make it count, and Kyle Rudolph has also seen almost as much work in the passing game in recent weeks. I'd be careful reading too much into those numbers.

Mark (NYC)

If A.J is limited how do you feel about Gresham over Fasano in a PPR league?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:48 AM)

I kind of like Anthony Fasano this week. His usage is up, he's getting targeted in the red zone and that's a matchup where the Dolphins will be throwing all day against a defense that can't stop the pass at all.

tom (boston)

what do think the strategy of playing both DHB and Moore if my opponent has Palmer?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:48 AM)

Too cute. Period.

Joe (MA)

PPR... DeAngelo or Tolbert

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

PPR doesn't have a heck of a lot to do with it, since Mike Tolbert doesn't catch enough passes comparative to the average running back for his ranking to substantially change. DeAngelo Williams should get more touches and his matchup is better; it's as simple as that.

Patrick (Milwaukee)

Question for all Packers owners: Assuming GB wins this week and locks up the #1 seed, do you think Rodgers, Nelson, or Finley plays in week 17? If so how much?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:54 AM)

My take is that the Packers will treat this like a regular game and merely hook their starters once the outcome is known, and in Week 17 perhaps they'll go with a half-game. All this talk about players completely sitting is overblown; there's already a week's rest built in with the bye. But it <i>does</I> drop these guys a few pegs in the rankings, there's no doubt about that. You can see it simply in my Aaron Rodgers ranking.

Dan O. (Hawaii)

Bills run D is awful...Over/Under pass attempts for Tebow 18?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

If it's over it's by one or two. I say under. Though I'm also assuming that Willis McGahee is healthy enough to play, giving the Broncos another dimension. For fantasy, I'm starting 'em both and with confidence, and that's what counts.

George (NYC)

Didn't Wallace have a couple good games when Big Ben was suspended a couple years ago and Batch under center? Still makes him valuable, no?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:57 AM)

WR2 is still a rather valuable designation. It's a fantasy starter. Meaning someone who by all rights could approach or get into double digits.

Brian (Yonkers)

Do you like Burleson this week? He has been getting A LOT of attention with Calvin double covered and have 7-85-1 last week...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:57 AM)

Given the choice, I'd rather chance it with Titus Young. His usage is on the rise and I think he might be the one who benefits.

James (Arizona)

Thursday night dilemma: Starting Ben Tate or Donald Brown???

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

Ben Tate. I see the Texans being up in that game, which helps Tate and hurts Brown, the matchup is better on Tate's side (substantially so) and the Texans aren't about to give Arian Foster 25-plus carries with the playoffs already certain. As said before, think 10 carries (maybe 12-13), but that's all that he'll need.

DJ (Milwaukee)

Not sure I buy Tebow over Vick this week. Please give some analysis.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:02 PM)

I ranked Michael Vick higher of the two, by two spots. So I'm not endorsing Tebow over Vick. Though I do like both matchups.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:03 PM)

OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone, best of luck in your championship matchups, and most importantly, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!