Hi, everyone. Welcome to my first fantasy football chat of 2012. You can follow me on Twitter: @writerboyESPN. You can friend me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/writerboy . And if you're psyched about the upcoming NFL season, you can whet your appetite by reading my novel about football (and Buddhism), www.slotbackrhapsody.com. Let's get to your questions.
Is Marshawn Lynch going to be suspended and is Robert Turbin a good pickup in a 14 team league?
Hi, DJ. It's very much up in the air right now. My guess is that the legal stuff probably won't play out during '12. So it comes down to whether or not the commish wants to make a ruling without legal stuff resolved. I say it's 50-50 right now, but we'll know more in the next few weeks. Turbin and Leon Washington would likely split work in Seattle; in a deep league, they're each probably worth a look right now.
most projections seem to be down on Frank Gore...what's your take?
Hi, Wayne. Well, the logic right now is that the 49ers have a hack of a lot of other backfield options, and as they did in the second half of last season, they may be invested in keeping Gore fresh for the playoffs. That could mean a career-low workload (but it could also mean that he stays relatively healthy again). I stand by Gore as a RB2 for fantasy, though others aren't sold that he should even go that high. If Brandon Jacobs does wind up being a factor (I have my doubts), Gore's value probably diminishes more than I currently think.
Who is going to win this stare down ? Me or my only scoring threat?
Yeah, the whole MJD thing is a bummer. It sounds like he'll miss some training camp while holding out. In the end, I expect Jones-Drew will be there Week 1, but if he gets in very little training camp, it's fair to wonder about the Chris Johnson Factor. MJD is a workout beast, though, so I'm less concerned about that than I would be with CJ1K.
How well do you see Ryan Mathews performing this season?
Hi, Glenn. Well. He looks like the only real option in that SD backfield, and should play a bunch on third downs because he's such a fine receiver. As it is, he's a borderline first-rounder (I feel more comfortable with him as a second-rounder in 10-team leagues), but that's mainly because he's been nicked up so much in his two seasons. Without the health concerns, he's probably well inside the overall top 10.
Ryan Mathews or Chris Johnson? And why?
Hi, Aaron. I'm still going Johnson. It's close enough that the question is still worth asking. But I think we've seen Johnson's crud year; he can't do that again, or he could find himself on the street. Everything you hear out of TEN is that he's actually working really hard, and with the team. Mathews' skill seems undebatable, but again, the health worries are bigger with him. I also like Hutchinson coming to the Titans. That interior o-line needed a dose of nasty.
Why am I projected to go undrafted in standard ESPN leagues, when I am the #1 WR in a team that has added so many interesting prospects in the off season this year? How come I am not worth a bench spot?
Well, I mean, pretty clearly it's because *no* Browns receiver is currently all that enticing. It's possible Brandon Weeden is just so totally ready to be a star that we're severely undervaluing Little, et al. But I'll believe it when I see it. I expect a super-conservative offense in Cleveland, and rookie QBs still give me the willies. I have Little rated as my No. 53 WR and 163 overall. That's probably about right for the best of this bad lot.
I've got Michael Turner and Frank Gore in a 12-team dynasty league and can sign each of them cheap for up to 5 years. how long should i sign?
Hi, Kyle. Well, eesh. I don't think I'm interested in Turner much at all after this season. He's 30, and he really slowed down at the end of '11. If you have to sign him up, maybe one more year, tops. And really, just about the same for Gore. If you're not totally locking yourself into these guys for huge dollars, I can see playing it conservative and giving them maybe another 2 years. But I'll be really, really surprised if either of them is a big-time fantasy factor even in '14.
Hi Chris, love the early chat. How does your ranking of players change (VBD based obviously) with different league sizes?
Hi, Randy. Honestly, the ranks don't change all that much. VBD does consider a different group of players as "baselines" when we discuss different league sizes, but it really almost all comes out in the wash. The VBD results for last season's stats are *really* close, whether you're talking 10- 12- or even 14-team leagues. So I would say that our ranks a pretty applicable no matter your league size.
I've got the fifth pick in my upcoming re-draft league. If the top 3 RB's are gone, and Rodgers is available, is he a no brainer?
Hi, Landry. As always, it DOLF (Depends On League Format), but yeah, I mean, I like Rodgers as a super-safe top-five guy. The issue you always have when you go non-RB early is that you have to play catchup with your backfield in later rounds. In 10-team leagues, that tends not to be too scary. In deeper leagues, though, when your starting backfield winds up being Ahmad Bradshaw and, I dunno, Jahvid Best, well, it can feel a little less happy. But yeah, I think Rodgers is safer than pretty much all but three or four RBs with lots of nice upside.
Hey Creepy 'Stache Chris -- Who are you sleeper WR targets for this upcoming season??
Hi, CJ. I know. The handlebar mustache is truly insane. I'm shaving it off next week. I'm going to be publishing my "Flag-Planted Players" in August, so I reserve the right to change my mind by then. But some WR candidates might include: Percy Harvin, Titus Young, Kendall Wright, Denarius Moore. That's kind of off the top of my head, though....
I am in the draft of a first year franchise league, how high would you take Jamal Charles and AP?
Hi, Gary. Conveniently, I actually have dynasty ranks up on the web site: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=NFLDK2K12ranksKeepersI have Peterson 7th and Charles 8th.... Obviously I think their careers will come back in future seasons, even if I have hesitation on them for redraft leagues this year. (Especially Peterson.)
gates claimes he 100% and with vjx gone he could be a top target for rivers. how comfortable are you w gates
Hi, Alex. I think the years of me ever being comfortable with Gates again are gone. That said, I still have him rated No. 3 among TEs. The fact that he feels healthy now really means nothing to me...his feet/ankles are going to bother him again, guaranteed. But the dude plays hurt, runs amazing patterns, and has tremendous hands. I probably won't own him in a lot of leagues because I think the difference between him at 3 and the next 4 or 5 guys is negligible. But he's still really good.
Would you consider Steve L Smith "safe" for a 1,100 yds 8 TDs this year?
Hi, Fred. Yeah, I think that line is probably about right. He was almost at 1,400 yards last year, but that number was probably skewed high by that first amazing month from Newton. As I wrote in this piece about Cam (http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=nfldk2k12_newton), my guess is that the Panthers will be as run-oriented as they can justify, and I'm skeptical Cam goes for 4k again. But 3,500 would be fine, and while Smitty's yardage total may go down as a result, he does seem dang safe.
What do you make of this Quick character in StL? Worth drafting?
Hi, Max. As a sleeper, deep in drafts, he's a chance worth taking. I just took him in our 12-round PPR mock last week. Higher than that, though, is buying into coachspeak and media hype, and we don't want to do that. The Rams have a bunch of potential pass-catchers (once again!) and proved last year that none of them were worth owning. Bradford needs to get much better protection, and most rookie WRs eventually fade some. He's got some WR1 upside on him, though.
Isn't there less risk taking Rice #1 overall with the same upside versus McCoy (replicating TDs with Vick) or Foster (Tate)?
Hi, Gary. It's a good question, and that's one way of looking at it. Of course, another way of looking at it is he could wind up with a heavier workload that could get him hurt more easily. Foster is still my No. 1 because I still believe in that Houston o-line even without Eric Winston at RT, but of course, we're probably splitting hairs. Rice is my #2 overall.
I'm thinking about passing on an elite QB in the first and putting all my eggs in the Matty Ice basket. Everything I'm reading tends to drive at him having a monster year. Is this acceptable?
Hi, Mick. I think it's acceptable to pass on the elite QB even if you're not after Ryan. Heck, it's what I recommend, unless one of the true studs falls to you in an "offer-I-can't-refuse" kind of way. As for Ryan -- boy, I've heard it before, y'know. I love Julio Jones. I'm still on board with Roddy. Yet Ryan still has a way of putting up good-not-great numbers. I want to believe he'll find himself nested deep in the top 10. But I'll believe it when I see it.
Who do you see having the better seanson - Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd. I'm leaning Floyd.
Hi, Kid. Can I guess neither? Floyd sounds like he showed to camp overweight again, and is No. 4 on Arizona's depth chart at the moment. Coach Wiz does tend to do stuff like that to motivate rookies, but it jibes with Floyd's occasional persona at Notre Dame. Meanwhile Blackmon has Gabbert throwing it to him. Yikes. At the moment, I'll say Blackmon. But neither is anywhere near a fantasy starting lineup right now.
Hi Christopher,Will you be coming out with VBD overall and position rankings? this makes sense and i would like to use it to draft this year.
Hi, DJ. Thanks for the kind word. The thing about VBD, as I explain in this piece (http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=nfldk2k12_vbdwork), is that it's not really a projection tool at all. It's more of a reaction tool...it lets us analyze what happened in past years, to give us hints about how to approach this season. So my personal ranks (http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=NFLDK2K12ranksHarris200) factor in some of the *lessons* of VBD, but don't actually plug-and-play, because such VBD projections are only as good as stat projections (which tend not to be very good). So for my ranks (overall and positional), use that Draft Kit list.....
Hi Chris. Why has Jeremy Maclin dropped so far in WR rankings? Was there more to his bad season last year than just recovering from the unexplained illness he experienced early in camp? Where would you rank him in a PPR league this year?
Hi, Daniel. Well, I have Maclin at 23 among WRs in standard leagues, and I feel like that's probably about right. If DeSean Jackson had gone somewhere else, absolutely, Maclin would've warranted top-15 consideration. But with D-Jax back in the fold, you worry that there's a split coming, and Vick's continued injury concerns (plus his lack of a truly elite passing season in his pro career) make that kind of split a little troublesome. I agree, though, that his health sitch last year probably did lower his numbers early....
Is M. Flynn going to earn his money? Will any Seattle WRs be of note?
Hi, Matthew. I do think Flynn wins the Seattle job. And I do think overall the Seahawks could be better than folks give 'em credit for. (Love the secondary.) But I can't see them being aggressive offensively. Flynn will be asked to be a caretaker, IMO, and as such I have a hard time endorsing him or any of his weapons. Rice is such a health risk (two surgically repaired shoulders, major concussion questions). Baldwin is a glorified slot guy. Everyone else is kind of *feh*. I think I'm staying away.
bigger upside this year...fred jackson or cj spiller?
Hi, Joey. I sitll have Jackson rated higher, but I think Spiller qualifies as a nice investment, too, since you can get him later. I believe the Bills when they say they're going to use both guys a bunch, mainly because Spiller is a pretty deadly weapon when he's split wide. I think he catches a ton of balls this year. You can see my further thoughts on those two guys here: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=nfldk2k12_decisionsbillsRB
Hi Chris, Where would you feel comfortable drafting Hakeem Nicks? Does the injury worry you?
Hi, Vince. This specific injury doesn't sound like it will be a huge problem for the season. He was lucky it happened in minicamp, and I'm guessing he's okay for Week 1. But of course, the larger concern seems to be that the dude is made of glass. I still have him #8 among WRs, something like a 3rd rounder in 10-team leagues. But I admit: I had a chance to take him in that mock we did last week (you can see my write-up here: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=nfldk2k12mockdraft3 ), and I bypassed him even though my ranks said take him. So maybe I'm a little bit of a hypocrite on Nicks right now!
Chris, love your thoughts on FF! If you had to chose to keep one who would it be? Gore, BJGE, Jonathan Stewart? Thanks for the much needed help!
Hi, Nate. If we're talking about this year only, between these three guys I'm still probably sticking with Gore. As I said earlier, that SF backfield might be a bit of a mess, but I expect Gore to be healthier for it, and when push comes to shove, he's the guy they want to keep happiest (and I don't believe in Jacobs). If we're looking down the road at all, though, I change my answer to Stewart. He's up at the end of '12, and D-Willy's contract is fully un-guaranteed at that point. Either J-Stew gets big money elsewhere, or the Panthers sign him to big $ and ditch Williams.
Who do you like more this year and why, Torrey Smith or Denarius Moore?
Hi, Garrett. I'm going to say Moore by a smidge. (He's 33rd in my WR ranks, while Smith is 37th.) The reason: I don't trust the Ravens to be creative enough on offense to continually take shots week-to-week. That's one thing I think you can trust the Raiders to do.
In a league with passing td's worth 6 pts, how would your 1st round draft order change, if at all?
Hi, JC. (Go Austin!) Honestly, I tend not to change much at all when TD passes count for six. The reason is that because *all* the QBs tend to go up about the same (well, obviously, the better guys go up a *bit* more than the average ones), the principles of VBD say that the distance from the "baseline" QB should stay about the same. If you were absolutely deadlocked between, say, a RB and a QB in a league where TD passes count for 4, and then suddenly TD passes counted for 6, I could see using that as the tiebreaker and saying you'll go with the QB. Otherwise, though, it's pretty much the same set of ranks for me.
I own All Day and Doug Martin. Start 2. Should I grab gerhart as a handcuff now or take a Starks/D Brown/Stewart type.
Hi, Jake. Can I say "both"? If I had to choose one option, it would be handcuff Gerhart. I'm pretty dang suspicious of Peterson early in this season. I think Gerhart will outdo him. But of course, there's a pretty good chance each guy is playing early on, and that could mean each sees his value crunched. That's why you probably should also try and load up on another back or two in the high-middle rounds.
Will you change your ranking of Kendall Wright and/or Jared Cook given the potentially lengthy absence of Kenny Britt?
Hi, Will. Probably not Cook. He's my No. 11 TE, and for a guy who's really never proved himself outside a couple late-season games, that's high enough. Wright = definitely. I like the reports on him out of Titans camp anyway, and if he's in the starting lineup (there'd be a decent chance if Britt is gone a while), he'd deserve to be in the top 40 WRs, if not higher.
Hi Chris, What do you think of the Law Firm in Cincy this year? Thanks
Hi, Adam. I don't like him. Plain and simple. I think he'll be overdrafted by folks remembering his TD-making ways in New England, but the Bengals just aren't going to generate chances like the Pats do. And BJGE can't catch the ball, and isn't a dynamic runner in space. He'll probably be that team's leading fantasy back because he'll score the TDs, but Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard are going to annoy the heck out of the Law Firm's owners.
How much of a shot dose Josh Freeman have at finishing top-10?
Hi, JG. Last year, I was bullish. Now I'm chastened. Obviously there were many things wrong with the Bucs last year, but Freeman is definitely on that list. He regressed on and off the field, from my understanding. And I don't think Greg Schiano comes to the NFL with a reputation for letting his QBs go hog-wild. I expect relatively conservative play from Tampa. Freeman is a better fantasy backup than starter, even with Vincent Jackson around.
Would you be comfortable with McFadden as your RB1?
Hi, Brian. Comfortable is the *wrong* word for it. Especially in deeper leagues, I can see it happening. There are just so many question marks at the RB position. But Run DMC is the questioniest of 'em all. How can anyone feel good about the guy ever finishing a full season? He's a leg/ankle/foot injury waiting to happen. I'm not saying don't draft him. I'm just saying invest in Alka-Seltzer when you do.
Over the next two-three season, as a keeper who would you rather have...Jamaal Charles or DeMarco Murray and why?
Hi, Seth. Definitely Charles, given what I know now. Listen, Murray showed flashes last year. But Charles has shown flashes for two-plus seasons, and has done it week in and week out until his torn ACL derailed him last year. This season, I see the argument for Murray, actually. Torn ACLs are mighty tough for RBs the first year back, even when they happen in Week 2 like JC's did. But given a three-year window? I trust Charles more. After all, Murray came out of Oklahoma as a big-time injury risk, and that proved a problem in his rookie year.
Who's going to be the better QB RG3 or Andrew Luck?
Hi, Brandun. Well, I think as NFL players, in the fullness of their pro careers, I'd have taken Luck, as the Colts did. But for fantasy, I think I'd rather have Griffin, especially for this season. The Skins are closer to having a winning team, and RG3 should do enough running to offset his shortcomings as a rookie thrower. Luck may have some nice moments this year, but I'm not hopeful he produces much of a fantasy season. Eventually, though. Eventually.
Is Cam your #4 QB behind Rodgers, Brady and Brees?
Hi, Shawn. No, I have Stafford above him. Cam is No. 5 on my board.
Most valuable hand cuff this year?
Hi, Landry. It would have to be Ben Tate. He's probably the most talented backup RB in the NFL, plus the Texans run offense should continue to be very tough. If you have Foster, reach for Tate.
Would you rather have Julio Jones or Rody White?
Hi, Doug. I'm glad we're asking this question; when I was at our Rankings Summit back in May, I was pretty surprised that it seemed the consensus was heavily in favor of White. I have White rated 9th and Jones 10th right now, so I guess White by a whisker. Obviously, with him you're thinking safety. With Jones, though, you're talking about the guy who led the NFL in average YAC as a rookie. He's a dangerous, dangerous player. For those psyched about Matt Ryan, these two guys are why.
2 parter: Who has the better overall year: Decker or Demaryious? And is Peyton going to hold up all year?
Hi, Dre. I have Thomas rated 21st among WRs and Decker rated 25th. I think Peyton will be quite good, if not excellent. I don't expect him to get hurt. But I do think there'll be some rust, some unfamiliarity with the personnel and the system, and some issues with his o-line at times. Each of the two DEN WRs are going to be worth starting, in my opinion.
Chris, I need an ARI rb breakdown please.
Hi, Ryan. Sure. Beanie Wells is starting training camp on the PUP, but he can come off of that at any time. He had yet another knee surgery this spring. Gack. Meanwhile Ryan Williams is returning from a torn patellar tendon, the same injury that derailed Cadillac Williams' career. He supposedly looks okay, but that's a bunch of coachspeak that I don't give much credence to. It's hard to imagine him being ready to handle a big workload right away. Wells is the guy to own, but don't be fooled by his big TDs last year. He's such a huge injury risk. I'd rather stay away altogether, if I could.
Hey Chris, i've found myself being torn between these two a lot in mocks this summer. McFadden or Forte?
Hi, Rowen. Well, now that he's signed, I have Forte higher. He's 7th on my list, with Run DMC 10th. But I understand being conflicted, because the upside with McFadden is much higher. If he ever stayed healthy, he could definitely be the No. 1 player in fantasy. Forte doesn't score enough TDs (and with Michael Bush around that doesn't figure to improve) for that to be the case with him. But I trust him to be healthy and to be a yardage beast for most of the year, whereas McFadden. Yuck.
Why is Andre Johnson still considered the #2 or #3 WR? He's been injured the last couple seasons and for much of his career for that matter. I can't trust him.
Hi, Dan. I understand that completely. You have every right to lower him on your board, especially after the mess last year. But the fact is: When he's healthy, he's probably the best WR in the NFL not named Megatron. I would take him 10 out of 10 times over Larry Fitzgerald if both guys were guaranteed to be at full health, because he's just such a physical player, and because his QB situation is so much better. Clearly, his rank is about upside much more than it is health.
Is picking up Mendenhall late in the draft in a 10 team league a good move in your opinion?
Yeah, I can see it. Again, the torn ACL RBs (like Peterson) who suffered the injury super-late in the season just aren't good bets in my mind to be effective even if/when they get on the field. I think if Mendy's going to have value it's going to be late in '12, and even then I'm skeptical. But if you're drafting now, I can see taking the chance. If the dude never sees the field in training camp, I'm probably less apt to do so.
If Run DMC goes down for any length of time, how well will Goodson perform?
Hi, Mike. Blech. Well, that's not fair. Goodson's okay. I just don't think he's a carry-the-mail kind of player. I think you'd see a healthy dose of Taiwan Jones in that case, and heck, they probably go out and sign Cedric Benson or Ryan Grant or someone like that, too. I wouldn't have tons of hope for whatever's left in Oakland if/when Run DMC goes down.
With Auction Drafts.....Do you think it is better to go with one or two high price players (Rodgers and Rice) or build your roster with mid-price guys?
Hi, Tim. I think you need to have a couple high-priced, safer guys in auction leagues to ensure yourself a competitive team. But getting such guys definitely *doesn't* lock you into a championship. As in snake draft leagues, how you perform with the middle-value guys usually tells the tale. I don't fully buy into "stars-and-scrubs" for football auctions...but I do usually wind up with a $40-plus guy, and a couple $20-plus guys at least, and then fill in from there.
Should I jump up a couple of rounds to snag Randy Moss?
Hi, Larry. Maybe it's heretical since everyone in the Bay Area is so excited about Moss, but I just don't see this working out well. Alex Smith is exactly the kind of QB that *won't* play well with Moss. It's not that he has a total noodle arm (though he also doesn't have a cannon). It's that he's so conservative. He doesn't like to take chances. And his pocket presence isn't great. I just don't see him ever having a deep-threat WR who becomes a major fantasy factor. And that's to say nothing of Moss not having played since '10.
Okay, gang, we're past noon, so I should probably get going. Couple more questions.....
You see a breakout year for TE Tony Moeaki after his injury?
I don't. The fact that Kevin Boss is in KC could be a drain for Moeaki's value, and people catching passes from Matt Cassel generally don't excite me much. I'm very middling on Moeaki.
Any opinion (fantasy or otherwise) of the Pats having a bazillion TEs on the roster?
Heh. I think signing Shiancoe says more about Daniel Fells than it says about Hernandez or Gronk. Fells is coming off a knee injury, and this could mean it's more serious than the Pats originally thought. I wouldn't expect to see both Shiancoe and Fells make the roster.
Is Jay Cutler a decent choice for your #1 QB?
Hi, Don. I understand the excitement in Chicago, but I'd need to see the Bears *really* change their philosophy *and* get an upgrade in the o-line before I'm willing to go there with Cutler. I just don't know that he'll throw enough, and if he does, I worry he'll get his body broken. He's more of a No. 2 fantasy QB to me still....
Okay, everyone. I have to get going. Thanks for coming to my first chat of the season -- I'll be on board for Wednesday morning chats throughout August. If you didn't get your question answered, I'm sorry about that, but there sure are a lot of 'em. You can try me on Twitter (@writerboyESPN) or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/writerboy). In addition, if you're getting psyched for the NFL, I hope you'll consider the hard-copy or e-version of my novel Slotback Rhapsody, which is the story of an undersized RB who's trying to make a pro roster in Detroit. Fun! Laughs! Tears! Human Growth Hormone! Vegetarianism! What more could you want? www.slotbackrhapsody.com . Thanks again, and have a great day!