Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

December 28, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Tristan Cockcroft

Sean (SF)

First off - Happy Holidays and thanks for all your help this year! Down by 7 going into this week in my championship. Will Royster or Helu play this week and are either a viable flex start?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:01 AM)

Good morning everyone, and happy holidays to you as well! Rolling right into the questions here, fantasy championships are on the line after all...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:02 AM)

I think Ryan Torain's release signals that Roy Helu is probably healthy enough to play this week; it makes little sense for the Redskins to deplete their depth at the position if they might be without the rookie in Week 17. That said, check the practice reports; I think it'll be clear what the arrangement is by kickoff. I ranked these guys under the assumption Helu will play and start, and yes, so long as it's not completely hazy -- like a straight split of the carries -- I'd say the one granted the start will be flex-worthy.

Joe (Dallas)

Comish question: This was the first year we started this new league. The majority of the league would like to make this a keeper league. The issue I am seeing is that everyone has an idea on how to set-up the keeper rules, which obviously favors their team and situation. So my question is, should we vote on the rules this offseason but redraft without keepers next year to keep it unbiased?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:05 AM)

Absolutely, and there is no debate to the contrary. Keeper leagues need to be decided and rules set <i>before</i> their inaugural draft, not in the midst of a season where those players from before the league being keeper were selected. That explains why you have bias in your owner group. Purge the rosters at year's end, collect opinions then, which will be less biased, and begin your 2012 season fresh as a keeper league. You'll love it, trust me.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Do you think that Japanese Infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima will be a perfect backup Shortstop to Yankees SS Derek Jeter?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:11 AM)

My reaction to the Nakajima bid was that it gives the Yankees the option of two useful, longer-term backup infielders (Eduardo Nunez), affording them the luxury of trading one for the pitching help they so desperately need. I really thought it might free them up to deal Nunez and Jesus Montero, for instance, because that's frequently rumored their two most desired commodities. But it could also be that the Yankees' left-side infielders (Jeter, A-Rod) are getting older, might need more games at DH and they could just use two reserve infielders. I think Nakajima plays about as often as Nunez did in 2011, so prepare accordingly.

Bob (Chicago)

Still going in my NFL eliminator: Denver, Jax, Chicago or Detroit for this week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:14 AM)

I could see every single one of those teams losing this week. Not saying they <i>will</i>, just that not a one is obvious. In order of strength of pick, I'd go: Detroit, Chicago, Jacksonville, Denver.

Private Ryan (USA)

Hope you had a great holiday &#x26; sincere thanks for all your input this season! Which teams do YOU think will significantly rest starters this week? I promise to not ask you again next week!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:16 AM)

Off the top of my head: Packers, Saints, Falcons, Lions are the most obvious choices. I'm pretty convinced the Packers will sit players for at least half of that game, though I bet even Aaron Rodgers makes a brief appearance since he gets that bye week's rest anyway.

Dale Sochia (Metairie, La.)

I am puzzled by people complaining that the Saints "ran up the score". But just one week earlier, the Falcons won 41-14, soooom where are all those sports aanouncers complaining about that score. If you don't like it, take your marbles, go home, and cry like a little baby. This is the NFL, sometimes a team just gets a wippin', and that is just what happen!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:17 AM)

I think teams complain about "running up the score" too much. It's one thing if it's like 50-0 and you're still going for it, but let's be real, play better defense. And fantasy owners don't care, we <i>love</i> running up the score. It means more points for us!

Levi (Holland, MI)

Are there going to be any stat corrections this week? I am clinging to the championship by the slimest of margins

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:18 AM)

Any stat corrections would be reported on this page: <a href="" target="top">Week 16 Stat Corrections</a>.

Ryan (VA)

Baseball Keeper Question: Would you keep Carlos Santana in the 7th rd or Daniel Hudson in the 13th?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:19 AM)

Santana, but I'm extremely pro-Santana, and I think you keep the hitter over the pitcher whenever possible. Santana has a shot at being a top-three at his position and I think he might very well finish No. 1 there in 2012; Hudson will not.

Ryan (VA)

Thoughts on where Braun should be drafted for 2012...What about in keeper leagues?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:20 AM)

I've said that I'm ranking Ryan Braun No. 1 for 2012 should be dodge any suspension; if he doesn't then my projection system places him in the range of 50th overall. As for keeper leagues, his value scarcely changes; I think he makes a compelling case for second-round value.

Marcus (Portland)

Baseball keepers question! Keeping Longoria, Braun an Verlander. Final spot comes down to Felix and ACab. Thoughts?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:21 AM)

For as much as I hate to keep two starting pitchers, Felix Hernandez seems obvious to me. If you keep him and Verlander then you can go extremely hitting-heavy in the draft.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

Is Cam a top 4 QB pick to you next year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:23 AM)

The case can be made. I'm going Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford, but Stafford somewhat falls into a debatable group that includes Cam Newton and (gasp) conceivably Peyton and Eli Manning. And the opinions are inevitably going to change in that group throughout the offseason.

Jerry (Philly)

Do you think NO rests or do they play starters to try for bye and cement Brees' record?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:24 AM)

Well, the record is already Drew Brees', and I wonder whether his going for it last week was a signal that he was going to rest for a larger chunk of Week 17, so the Saints wanted to get it out of the way in advance. I'm preparing as if the bye is a valuable thing to the Saints and that they'll play the starters for at least a half -- remember that the bye week is padded into their schedule if they get it -- but I think we'll get more concrete information before my Friday rankings update.

Bill (Atlanta)

Does Calvin Johnson play this week or sit for the playoffs?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:25 AM)

The Lions claim they're going to play to win, so I think Johnson will play enough minutes to warrant having active.

Eric (ON)

Tristan, I made the finals in my 20-team league but unfortunately the finals are this weekend and my QB is Rodgers. Do I go with Matt Flynn or Josh McCown to lead me to fantasy glory?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:26 AM)

Sigh, that's a toughie, but I think it's a Packers quarterback either way (though obviously track the news). Flynn really doesn't bother me as a fantasy starter -- I'd place him in the low-teens -- so long as we have something concrete about him playing, say, three-plus quarters.

Charlie (Louisiana)

What are your thoughts on Joe Webb? Have Tebow

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:27 AM)

Somewhat similar types and approaches, though I admit that I can't see the Vikings going so decidedly run-heavy as the Broncos. That's pretty extreme. I'm OK with Webb as a No. 2 option in a two-quarterback league, but it's not like it's a fantastic matchup for him.

Kathy (PA)

Hi Tristan - I'd like to start 3 RB: Rice, Mendy, Bradshaw, Helu, or K. Bell. I know Bell looked good last week but I'm concerned about the fumbles.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:28 AM)

The problem I have with Khalil Bell is that it's a poor matchup as far as rushing is concerned, though I admit that he catches a decent number of passes. I'm probably underranking him -- I'll examine again for Friday -- but I'm iffy on that matchup out of that group. And I think Helu probably also goes, because of the health questions.

Joe (Pittsburgh)

who do you want in your dynasty league, Maclin or Dez?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:31 AM)

Excellent, excellent question. My immediate reaction is Jeremy Maclin, except that the older argument I'd have about Dez Bryant's slight health concerns isn't any less compelling with Maclin today. And frankly, looking at their raw skills, I prefer Bryant's to Maclin's. I think the 2011 season has brought these guys into a similar class, but Bryant now has the edge, albeit a slight one.

al (orlando)

Isn't Brady only 200 yards behind Brees? If Brees sits, Brady will surely pass him in yardage - as NE is playing for home field. Let me know your thoughts

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:32 AM)

I don't think the Saints nor Drew Brees cares much about that, though a 190-yard -- I think it's in the range of that -- difference isn't really something Brees couldn't wrap up by halftime this week. You can throw on the Panthers and it's for that reason I'm assuming at least 30 minutes for Brees. Think something like 200-2-0, that's my projection as things stand at 11:32 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

Pat (Work)

Which 2 of these 5 do you throw back? Ortiz ($5), Kuroda ($3), Hanrahan ($3), Stubbs ($12), Andrus ($18)

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

Hiroki Kuroda is the first one to come to mind, even if it's a fair price. He's just not quite the player that the others are. And I actually think it's Joel Hanrahan for the other, if only because it's easier to fill his saves than it is the categories that the hitters fill. Tough call; I can make a case to let Drew Stubbs go but that's a lot of steals to shed at a decent price.

john (jersey)

do you see brandon seine having a impact this week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:35 AM)

Yes, but in the eight-carry range, something like that. If the Packers sit players -- and I'm leaning increasingly towards them giving three quarters off -- then I think it's all on Matt Flynn to do things.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

Best and worst prediction of the year for you?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:38 AM)

Best: Toss-up, either that Knowshon Moreno will stink or my ranking of Calvin Johnson No. 1 among wide receivers.Worst: Maurice Jones-Drew's surgery would hamper him and make him a pretty risky first-rounder.

Kyle (CT)

I am confused by some of these statements about resting players... Saints are playing for possible bye week in the case San Fran loses (both play at 1pm)... Detroit is playing early for playoff seeding (Atlanta's game will depend on what Detroit does)The only teams I can see DEFINITELY resting are Green Bay and Atlanta if Detroit wins. Saints and 49ers are playing for byes.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:40 AM)

See, that's the thing, "teams will rest" is a grossly overrated discussion. Stress: <i>Gross</i>. When I talk about "rest," I don't mean, "Hey, everyone's gonna sit the entire week and be on the inactives list." I mean: "Uh, this guy very well might not finish his game." The Packers are about the only team you can be pretty confident will sit guys for better than half the game. But I listed the others because they might not play all 60, and on Sunday I don't want you to be surprised and say, "Hey, why isn't Drew Brees still in the game?"To be clear, I'd be shocked if Brees didn't start and play a decent amount.

Nathan (VA)

Better draft day value: Brett Lawrie, Yu Darvish or Matt Moore?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:41 AM)

Impossible to answer that effectively today. The "hype machine" has the potential to take hold in any of their cases, and I've got a sneaking suspicion on Dec. 28 that Darvish's will spiral out of control, Moore's second-most and Lawrie's the least. So it's probably Lawrie; though I do think it's Darvish, Lawrie, Moore in terms of 2012 overall value.

Milton (At work)

Have you seen my stapler?.....also keep 1 out of 3 C. Santana, A.Gordon or B.Lawrie?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:44 AM)

It's in my top desk drawer, Milton. Lumbergh gave it to me. Tough luck, dude.I'd keep Santana. I rated him my No. 1 catcher for 2012 and 41st overall and I am sticking by my strong opinion (at least until my finishing touches on my projections convince me otherwise, and I am skeptical that they will).

James G (Milw, WI)

What was your favorite gift you got for Christmas?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:45 AM)

Handpainted replica of Van Gogh's "Cafe Terrace at Night." Unique, had to be tough to find. Interesting question!

Nate (NJ)

With home field on the line are you predicting a full 60 for Brady and company?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

Yes, though the problem with that game is it could quickly morph into a blowout, making 60 highly unlikely. Of course, if it does, Brady will have already gotten you the stats you needed. The point is, I'd prepare as if it's a normal game.

Neal(slc) [via mobile]

Is the back end of the 3rd round a good place to keep DMC? Or do you feel with his injury history that he's not worth the headache? Thanks Tristan.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:47 AM)

I actually think Michael Bush is the greater obstacle to Darren McFadden's 2012 fantasy appeal than his injury is; I feel a little the same about Fred Jackson. As things stand today, third round is fair value to me, if only because I believe in McFadden's skills. But I'd really hope you have some time to digest the offseason news before locking that in.

Jeff (Seattle)

what do you see from Chris Johnson next year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:48 AM)

A noticeably better performance. I am convinced that the holdout had a lot to do with his disappointing 2011 and with a full 2012 preseason, he'll bounce back. And I'll be approaching similar holdouts with comparable caution next draft day. (It's something I cautioned this preseason, too.)

Jim Schwartz (Detroit)

Do I really mean we will play to win or am I going to sit my studs after a quarter or two?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:48 AM)

I don't know, Jim, I can't read your mind. But I do think seeding matters a little there, so I'll trust you.

Ryan (VA)

What player is least likely to be on your baseball teams due to hype/popularity?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

Extremely difficult to answer without ADPs to examine the market, and at this stage there isn't enough data yet to determine it. I'm guessing here: I have a feeling Stephen Strasburg hype might get out of control. To be clear, I <i>love</i> the guy for 2012, but there isn't a chance in you-know-where I'd project him for greater than 160 innings, and that caps his upside. I won't be treating him like a slam-dunk top-20 starter, that's for sure.

Jack (Mahwah)

You are assuming that Oakland resigns Bush (who will demand starter money).

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:52 AM)

Actually, I'm not, but then I was a little surprised the Raiders retained Bush <i>this</i> year. I guess it'd be a bit more shocking if they did again in 2012 -- Bush absolutely deserves a starting gig somewhere next year and I even said he did <i>this</i> preseason -- but there's just no way to be certain how the Raiders regard the spot as things stand today.Let's say that it was taken into account when I said that today, I'd likely keep McFadden for a third rounder.

Nate (NJ)

Can you see the Chargers resting both Jackson and Gates this week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:53 AM)

I can see it, yes, though more so with Vincent Jackson. Without any data to confirm they'd sit, however, at the time of my rankings I did include them both. Jackson's lower ranking accounts for the prospect of his sitting.

Jon (Vegas)

Made it to the championship with Arian Foster and Jordy Nelson. I am not sure if any of them would see enough playing time. Inclined towards starting Felix Jones for Foster and Dez Bryant for Jordy. Wise Move?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:54 AM)

Yes, both moves are wise.

jerry (iowa)

Any news on R. Bushs knee?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

Unfortunately, no, but I think the absence of news is more positive than negative. I ranked with optimism, and will address Friday depending upon the practice reports.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

Who's injury concerns you the most when drafting next year - AP's, Charles' or FJax's?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:56 AM)

Adrian Peterson's. He was held in the highest regard at the time of his injury and his occurred last, meaning his rehabilitation is most likely to extend the furthest. I am legitimately concerned about Peterson; tops a list of players to closely track during the offseason.

Mitch (Vermont)

Who gets more fantasy points this week? Foster or Tate or Ward?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:57 AM)

I ranked Arian Foster highest of the three, but my gut keeps telling me Ben Tate is the "safest" of the bunch. I had them three spots apart and wouldn't be remotely shocked if it's Tate, albeit with flex-class points.

Adam (Newtown, PA)

I'm tweaking some rules for my FB league. 12 team, H2H style. We normally do 2-3 pickups per week w/ daily moves. Any suggestions? I'm always open to hearing different ideas.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

I like auctions and FAAB above all else; every team then has a crack at every single player at every given time, so long as you're willing to pay the market price.I don't like caps on signings at all. It creates an imbalance in luck in the injury department.

Matt (Knoxville, TN)

Which tight end do you like best this week?? Brent Celek or Jared Cook??

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:00 PM)

Celek over Cook, but it's close. If you need to take a shot on the upside, then Cook makes sense.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:01 PM)

OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. I'd like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year, and best of luck in your fantasy football championships! Take care...