Good morning, everyone. Welcome to another Wednesday chat about fantasy football. As a reminder, I know I won't get to all of your questions, but you can follow me on Twitter (@writerboyESPN), friend me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/writerboy), and if you're itching for some NFL action you can buy my novel (in print or Kindle versions) Slotback Rhapsody, which is about an undersized dude trying to make it in the pros via some combination of Buddhism, vegetarianism and human growth hormones. (www.slotbackrhapsody.com) Anyway, let's get to your questions!
Hearing good things about Rod Streater? Could he be this year's Victor Cruz?
Hi, Jay. Even Victor Cruz wasn't Victor Cruz in his rookie year. I like Streater as a potential deep sleeper, but it seems like he's going to need multiple injuries to gain any kind of starring, fantasy-worthy role. That said, he made my "Super-Deep Sleeper" list this year: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=nfldk2k12_superdeepsleepers
Do you consider Ben Tate a viable FLEX play even if Arian Foster is healthy?
Hi, Nate. It's a good question. I have Tate rated 38th among RBs right now, so by the letter of the law, no, I don't quite think he's there in a 10-team league. But it's close enough that if you had a good feeling about it, I wouldn't begrudge you in Week 1. Clearly, there are going to be some games where the Texans get ahead and Tate is part of clock-killing mode, and the world is going to freak out that he's the next greatest thing in the fantasy world. But I worry that there will be some weeks where he plays a clearly supplemental role.
can you see a upturn of value for branch in new england with gaffney and stallworth being released?
Hi, Grendel. I guess Branch's value does uptick, but I wouldn't say it climbs high enough that you'd want him in a standard-sized league. He's still the 4th passing option on that team, and he's still got a hugely checkered injury past.
Hi, Grendel. I guess Branch's value does uptick, but I wouldn't say it climbs high enough that you'd want him in a standard-sized league. He's still the 4th passing option on that team, and he's still got a hugely checkered injury past.
Does the report of Steve Smith on crutches change anything for you? Does LaFell jump to the top 40?
Hi, Mark. Smith is fine, so far as we know. He had a foot infection; it's not an injury or anything structural. My assumption is he'll be normal for Week 1. LaFell is WR47 on my board. (By the way, you can see my updated ranks here: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=NFLDK2K12ranksHarris200
Still feel like Jones-Drew is the #4 RB?
Hi, Nick. It seems like I'm going down with the ship, right? I mean, here's the thing: I'm not at all surprised it's come to this point. There's been nothing but artificial deadlines, and nothing ever gets done without real deadlines. So if you'd asked me (as people did) three or four weeks ago whether I thought MJD would've reported by 8/29, I would've said no. But that doesn't mean it doesn't stink to be here on 8/29 and have no resolution. At this point, I'm pot-committed. If you're doing a draft this weekend, do I think you *must* take MJD as RB4? No. I think you can probably wait on him until the second round, really. But do I still think he plays Week 1? I still kind of do, and I still think he puts together a very good season. I'm hedging, I know. But I just can't see what this player has to gain by missing games.
I'm wondering about Miami...Tannehill has to throw to someone, other than bess, who could be the man....they stink so they'll be throwing alot....hard knocks has exposed them big time
Hi, Rob. Ha, I don't think it was Hard Knocks' fault that they traded their own good WR away and didn't replace him. Yeah, Tannehill is being set up to struggle. Supposedly Naanee is the WR1 in Miami, but I wouldn't touch him except as a deep sleeper. Hartline can't get his calf healthy. Bess is a slot player. Roberto Wallace is slow. I don't see this working out well for the kid. This team could really stink.
Hi Chris, My draft is September 3rd. Will there be anymore ESPN mock drafts before then?
Hi, Ryan. We're doing our last mock this afternoon: a 12-team, standard-scoring league. It'll be written up by Brian Gramling and posted I believe on Friday.
Have you heard anything About APs status? Do you feel solid about him this year? Where does he become a value pick. Thanks good sir.
Hi, Mike. Well, I mean, the p.r. machine in Minnesota wouldn't let us know if anything had gone wrong really to this point anyway, but yeah, as far as we know, everything is smooth as silk. Why, to hear the Vikings tell it, AP had a hangnail last Christmas Eve, and he's recovering just nicely from it. No, I don't trust him. I don't think he gets anything close to a full workload to begin the year, and I think he's going to be susceptible to all kinds of nagging injuries. I'm not going to own him in any redraft leagues this year.
Dwayne Harris has looked like a playmaker for my money... Can he win the backup 2 or starting 3 wr in Dallas? Thanks Chris!
Hi, Dan. I'm not getting too wigged out about preseason looks. Harris and Cole Beasley are the two potential WR3 candidates in Dallas who've played well in the preseason, but Kevin Ogletree is the most experienced of the group and could get looks by default. For now I think it's a situation to monitor, but not act upon except in very deep leagues. Obviously Laurent Robinson proved that the job *could* eventually carry some value with it.
I have Redman and Mendy. Will they combine to form an RB2 for the season even if each can't be counted on to do so individually?
Hi, Adam. Jonathan Dwyer will very much be in the mix, too, and Chris Rainey will get some fantasy-sucking specialty looks as well. This looks like a black hole to me. I don't have any Steelers back in my top 30...I think it's going to be tough to rely on any of 'em week-to-week until and unless someone really asserts himself.
Ok, Russell Wilson over/under. 3,200 passing yards, 21 PTDS700 rush yards, 5 RTDS
Hi, Craig. Under, Under, Under, Push. I'm not on the Russell Wilson Express.
I'm curious about late round fliers with big upside. How do you feel about players like David Wilson and Robert Turbin?Also, Stephen Hill looks pretty good in his last preseason game and Sanchez seemed to target him more than anyone else. Do you think he has sleeper potential?
Hi, Nick. David Wilson probably won't be a late-round flier in too many leagues. He's carved out a role for himself behind Ahmad Bradshaw, and is probably more like a middle-round guy now. (He's RB40 on my list.) Turbin probably fits as more of a handcuff to Marshawn Lynch as anything else. Stephen Hill is so raw and the Jets offense pretty challenged right now...I like him as a keeper, but not a sleeper. Check out the bottom of my Top 200 for more possible names.
What are your thoughts on Kenny Britt?
Hi, Mike. What a waste. Dude was going to be on my flag list this summer, then he had another knee surgery and another arrest, and now heavens knows. He should be owned in all leagues. But you can't draft him as a starter, that's for sure. His suspension is likely to be handed down by Friday, and nobody really knows if his knee is ready yet anyway. He's high-upside bench fodder for now.
Hey Chris, Waht are your overall impressions of Joe Flacco after watching him this preseason? Are you moving him up your QB Rankings? Do you think 4,000 yards and 30 TDs is out of the question?
Hi, Randy. The Ravens going up-tempo in the preseason is interesting. But I have to admit: I simply don't trust Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator. When push comes to shove, I wonder if Baltimore will stay with that look, and whether they have the weapons to really make defenses pay. Flacco could hit 4,000 yards; he's been right around 3,600 the past three seasons. But I think 30 TDs is too far on the sunny side. 25 would be a stretch for me.
Hi Chris. Do you adjust your auction values when drafting in a 12 team as opposed to 10 team league? Does a larger league change your strategy at all?
Hi, Aero. Yeah, I mean, the deeper the league, the more expensive the true studs are likely to be, because there are so few of them to go around. That's why our recommended auction prices vary when you're in ESPN's auction rooms, depending on league size and format. I wouldn't say my strategy varies wildly in an auction for deeper leagues...in the end you're still looking for value. But in times when you really want to get that one anchor player to build around, you do need to be prepared to spend more dough.
which late round rb has the most value?...kevin smith,ced ben, or rashad jennings?
Ha, somebody's been listening to the most recent draft podcast. (Did you guys know there are about six hours of me pontificating about fantasy drafts at espn.com/podcenter?) I'll go Benson. I need to add Rashad Jennings to my Top 200 -- that's a pure oversight on my part. But since I keep believing MJD will come to his senses, Jennings won't be as high as Benson on my list.
Hi Chris. Can you discuss why you are not on the Russel Wilson bandwagon?
Hi, Kyle. Hey, he's played well in the preseason for sure. And I'm not going to say it's all about his height, though I don't love his height. But I don't like the receiving weapons in Seattle *at all* (is there a worse receiving corps, except maybe Miami's?), his o-line didn't pass-protect well last year, and, well, he's a rookie QB, and Cam Newton aside, those guys often struggle. I could be wrong. But for now I'll let someone else take the plunge.
WOW! CH. I'm shaking my head and I just lost some respect for you. Not on the Russell Wilson Express??? T-Jack nearly threw for 3200 last year with 14 TDs and he is terrible. Wilson blew away Flynn and heck anyone with football knowledge would see he would start over Tannehill and Weeden . Just man up and say you were wrong publicly when he becomes a great startign QB.
Hi, Kevin. I promise I'll admit the error if he plays great. Consider my breath not held.
Hi Chris- which gamble to take as a potentially Rhapsodic Slotback (or at least RB3/Flex)? Daniel Thomas or Alfred Morris? 14-team/.5 PPR, my backs are McCoy, Charles, Stewart, Tate, and Felix.
Hi, Chris. I hate hearing that the coaches are upset with Daniel Thomas in Miami, and that they don't think he's running as hard as he should, considering that was a major part of his problem last year. Still, I view his opportunity as more "real" than Morris', who's a so-so talent in a four-headed mess under Mike Shanahan's curiously orange thumb. I prefer Thomas.
"Slotback Rhapsody" looks great!. I drafted Michael Turner as my #3 RB. I know most of ESPN's fantasy experts are down on him. Keep him as #3 or trade now? Thanks in advance!
Thanks, Luis. Hope you'll read it. I don't think the trade market for Turner is likely to be very robust right now, considering how down *everyone* appears to be on him right now, including the Falcons beat reporters. I'd probably hang on, hope he performs well to begin, and then revisit what you might be able to get from him. Do I think his yardage totals are going to be huge this year? No. But double-digit TDs is still a possibility.
How much weight do you put on the preseason performance of Eric Decker? Is he clearly the the WR to own over DT, PPR and standard?
Hi, Scott. No, I still have Thomas rated higher, though it's close. I think each guy is likely to provide flex-worthy value at this point...and I think Brandon Stokley and perhaps Jacob Tamme are going to be increasingly in the mix as the season begins, too. But I agree that Decker seems primed to maybe be the most consistent of this group from week-to-week. Thomas may be a bit more boom or bust (though obviously that's simply an educated guess.)
Why isn't Laurent Robinson mentioned more in Jax? Big talent,Big money,I don't get it....
Hi, Tommy. Plenty of factors...Justin Blackmon being a top-5 draft pick. Blaine Gabbert having a deplorable rookie season. There being no proven running game with MJD not there (though hopefully that gets resolved soon). Mike Mularkey not exactly having the most aggressive reputation as an offensive mind. And Robinson himself having something of a whiff of the one-year wonder about him. He's got potential, but so do an awful lot of WRs around the NFL.
who lead the backup in STL Richardosn or Pead
Hi, Isaac. As of this morning, Fox Sports Midwest was reporting that the job is now split between the two, which is alarming for anyone who drafted Pead as a clear handcuff. That no longer seems to be the case.
Will Ryan Williams be the most valuable RB on the Cards by year's end?
Hi, Chris. Well, I have Beanie rated 31st among RBs and Williams rated 41st, so I guess by the letter of the law I'm going to say no. The torn patellar tendon Williams suffered last year is such a hellacious injury, I don't think we really know what Williams will look like with a lot of use. But of course, Beanie's knee is a mess, too. I'd rather own none.
i was listening to your most recent podcast with combs about te's gronk and graham, i took them as the 12th and 13th pick in a 12 team league that i can use te as a flex, please tell me you approve of this philosophy?I still got f.jax,h.nicks,d.thomas, and eli manning,your thoughts on that starting six without kicker and def.?
Hi, Tommy. As I said on the podcast, it's not something I'd do, because there's no value in it. However, it *does* feel like there's some safety in it. And that being the case, I can't criticize. The worry I have is Daniel Thomas is your RB2. That's got the potential to be really, really ugly. And we also don't see what your WR2 is here, though I'm guessing that's adequately strong. Seems to me like you'll be chasing at RB all season, but hey, it's going to be fun to stash all those TE points.....
Hi, Sean. That *is* funny. Of course, I'm not picking questions that say, "Gosh, do you like Arian Foster?" 'Cuz I do. Not sure how interesting that is, though.
Any chance Antonio Brown stays WR1 even after Mike Wallace comes back?
Hi, Aaron -- Is there a chance? Sure. When Jerry Rice goes on our airwaves and says he expects Wallace to struggle to get up to speed in September, you have to listen. He's the GOAT. But my feeling is that Wallace simply provides burning speed that the quick-not-blazing Brown doesn't have. By the end of the year, I think Wallace rates higher. But that's just my opinion.
Hey Chris..... Why the Eli hate....???? I'm curious who your favorite team is.......
Hi, Adam. Nothing against the guy personally. It's just that Giants fans have unbelievably short memories. Heck, even during last year's 9-7 campaign, there were people calling the FAN for his head on a stick. Here's some stats for you: Eli produced 11 fantasy points or fewer in a full one-quarter of his outings last year. He shattered his career high for pass yards in a season, almost flinging it for 5,000, but had at least as many turnovers as TDs in seven games. He's an up-and-down player. I don't hate him. But I don't love him.
If you think they're exactly the same cases, well, I don't know how I can help you, Sean. One of them tore the major ligament in his knee on Xmas Eve. One of them didn't.
Think toby Gerhart gets the lions share of the touches for the first 6 or so weeks then?
Hi, Bill. I'm not sure about the lion's share (or even the Vikings' share). But I do think he'll be a serious drag on AP's production.
I *hate* that you get paid to be this bad at Fantasy Football advice
Hi, Tom. That really means a lot to me.
Are you on the Doug Martin Hype-train??? 3rd rounder in a PPR league to you?
I definitely boosted him in my latest ranks, Scott. He's 29th on my RB list in standard-scoring leagues, and you're right, in a PPR you'd have to go higher than that. I'm not sure I can buy into the third round...losing Davin Joseph at guard isn't a great beginning for an o-line that really struggled last year. But I do like Martin.
What do you expect from Leshoure once he's done serving his suspension? Will he be handed the starting job?
Hi, Anthony. I think he'll get in the mix, but remember, he's coming off a torn Achilles', and I seriously doubt that the Lions are ready to give the kid 250-plus touches a season after that devastating injury. It's not one that RBs typically have great success coming back from. I don't think he'll be handed the job, but he'll definitely get into the mix.
I got Frank Gore in the 5th round....tell me how the 49ers split their RB reps this year, please. By the way, big fan here.
Hi, Matt. Thank you. Yeah, Gore is an interesting case. I do think he might be somewhat undervalued at the moment, because I still view him as the TD-maker in that offense, especially with Jacobs temporarily on the shelf. But you might also remember that I'm a huge Kendall Hunter booster -- I think in a couple of years, he could be Ray Rice. So I think he's going to get the second-most touches, and definitely cut into Gore's workload. I view James and Jacobs as more fringe players this year.
I own Toby Gerhart but I am not the AP owner. I own Lynch and would like to back him up with Turbin. Would you drop Gerhart for Turbin. Other option would be drop my WR5 Santana Moss. Any thoughts?
Hi, Danny. I like the latter idea better than the former. While I'll be rooting hard for Peterson to prove me wrong (because he's absolutely one of my favorite players), we have to admit there's a chance that he pulls a hammy or calf -- something that happens to ACL victims often -- and then Gerhart earns a starting job that he proved he can be pretty good with at the end of last year. Dropping Moss doesn't seem like it would hurt you much.
blount more handcuff or rb vulture like hillis this year?
Maybe neither? The thing is, to be someone's handcuff, you have to be able to take over the job if the top guy gets hurt, and I think we saw last year Blount wouldn't be very good under such a circumstance. And while he'll definitely play, and possibly even take the short-yardage stuff, I don't think we've seen Blount *excel* in short yardage enough to say he's going to be a TD vulture for Martin. I'm not saying he's unownable. But I didn't like Blount last year, and I don't like him this year. I just don't think he's a particularly good player. A very big man who tries to run like a very small man.
Hey Chris! Question on your Re-Draft rankings vs. Keeper rankings. I noticed Nicks went from WR8 on re-draft to WR11 in Keeper. Any particular reason for the slight drop? He is young and has a reliable QB who should still have 4-6 more good years. Cruz has a similar drop. I understand Dez jumping, but Welker and AJ are two with uncertain futures that didn't change too much from both rankings. Thanks!
Hi, Noah. I can honestly say that wasn't the result of dissing Nicks for the future, but rather elevating guys like Bryant and Julio Jones. You're right -- Nicks is young and isn't likely to be any *more* injury-prone in future years than he is right now (which is to say: pretty darned injury-prone). The difference between any of these guys is really pretty minimal, so if you feel stronger about Nicks, I couldn't debate that.
Thoughts on Rashad Jennings as a starter if MJD holdout goes deep into season
Hi, Vince. It's a good question. I think he'd probably deserve to at least be a flex. It's funny, I don't want to paint myself as being down on the guy (the fact that he's not in the most recently uploaded top 200 is pure oversight on my part, not intentional...). I liked him coming out of college, he has an interesting size/speed combo, and the Jags proved that even in a disastrous passing offense, they were capable of producing strong running last year. Am I willing to go higher than 25th under such a scenario? Hm. Maybe. Not higher than 20th. I want to see him produce week in and week out. He missed all last year with an injury, too.....
How does a recently broken clavicle not break again in the violent sport of football? Is Mathews in & out all year?
Hi, Danny. Yeah, I mean, you'd have to think the Chargers doctors know about the tensile strength of human bone, and they're not going to let him play when they think he's still at risk. In my gut (which doesn't have a medical degree), I tend not to think the collarbone is likely to be the next thing that sidelines Mathews. Of course, it'll probably be *something*.
Stevan Ridley is a guy you rank higher than most. Feeling stronger that he is the guy in NE?
Hi, Bill. I at least feel strongly that he's the best candidate to replace the BJGE short TDs. Belichick is clearly a mini-Shanny with his week-to-week changes in RB strategy, but the thing you could count on the last two years was Green-Ellis near the goal line. I hope that continues to be the case. Check out my Flag players column for further discussion on Ridley: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=nfldk2k12_flagplanting
Hi, Ben. If I'm bad at detecting possible further collarbone breaks, I'm *really* bad at looking at a spleen and knowing if it's safe to play. Heh. All I really know is what the Dallas papers report, and it sounds like they think he's averted disaster, and that he'll be okay, if not in Week 1, then soon thereafter. We'd have to have our heads in the sand not to think there's at least a *little* extra risk involved, but that might just make him a value play. Especially in a 10-team league, if people want to let him fall, I'm okay with waiting on a TE and picking him up at a discount, knowing there'll be ample replacement possibilities on the waiver wire.
who is catching the ball in seattle?...really, i don't know!!!
Yeah, all I really know now is that it won't be Mike Ehrmantraut.
How concerned should my owners be about the threat of D.J. Williams?
I don't think *too* concerned. There's always been a role for a second TE in that West Coast Packers thing they've got going up there (Tim Crabtree, etc.), and the No. 1 TE usually still produces pretty well. Could a couple games get annoying this year as we think it's Finley who just caught a TD, but it's Williams? Sure. But I think by and large Finley ought to be pretty safe.
More upside, Antonio Brown or Torrey Smith, they both seem capapble of WR1 type output? Is Brown just more reliable?
Hi, Keith. Yeah, I prefer Brown's steadiness and past performance over Smith's projected goodness. Smith has speed Brown can't dream of, of course, but I'd sure like to see him do it once before I consider him a must fantasy starter. Brown is at least a very good flex in all leagues right away, IMO, with the possibility for much more.
Hi Chris. We have a new thing in our keeper league called a practice squad player: like a red shirt freshman, you can use him any time, but if you dont use him all year you get to keep him for free in addition to your other keepers. What players would you target for this spot? I was thinking Daniel Thomas because R Bush is in a contract year. Thanks for the help as always.
I don't think Thomas is a bad idea, but I'd be surprised that he didn't get drafted in the main body of your keeper draft. If he didn't sure, it's not a bad call, despite the coaches seeming pretty negative on him in last night's Hard Knocks.
What's your thoughts on Rudolph in Minny? I'm in 12 team standard league and I am only carrying him as a TE, too dangerous?
It's a little dangerous, James, but I do think Rudolph makes a very nice and interesting TE sleeper. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if a guy like him, like Gresham, like Martellus Bennett, like Greg Olsen...I wouldn't be surprised if *any* of those guys jump a tier but quick. I don't think you're in terrible shape there.
Will Miles Austin be ready for opening day a week from today?
Hi, Mark. So far the Cowboys seem confident. But of course, it's tough to get the real story, right? They want the Giants to be on pins and needles, too. Austin has told reporters he's definitely playing, for whatever that's worth. But will he just hurt the hammy again?
any chance hernandez is the 3rd best rusher in new england?
Hm. No, I don't think so. You're right, of course, that later in the year the Pats did hand it to Hernandez occasionally, and that's an interesting formation, but they sure did just pay the kid a bunch of extra $, and it would be pretty bad if he got hurt playing RB.
What are your thoughts on how many touches Jaq Rodgers sees a game in that Atlanta offense?
Hi, Joe. That's a great question. I truthfully don't have a great feeling. I was surprised to see him get a goal-line carry in a preseason game, and equally surprised to see him convert. I guess I'd still be pretty surprised if it's more than 10 touches per week. But maybe we've just misevaluated this kid. He's ultra-small, obviously, but I've never viewed him as quick enough to be a Sproles kind of player. But maybe he is.....
I know it's only preseason but what's up with Fred Davis? Is he taking a big back seat to Garcon?
Hi, Jason. There's an article in today's Washington Post about Davis, claiming that the reason he's been so quiet is related to the Redskins giving Niles Paul work, as Paul converts from WR to TE. I'm not panicking on Davis just yet. I still view him as a low-level TE1.
Any chance at a bounce-back year for Dallas Clark? Winslow was getting 70ish receptions regularly in TB.
Hi, Will. Sure, I think there's a chance. But the risk is pretty high, too, because Clark has been a pretty brittle player over the past couple years, and they have their TE of the future in Luke Stocker, whom they'll want to see in action if they can, too. But a finish inside the top 10 TEs is by no means impossible for Clark.
All right, folks, I have a crazy afternoon ahead, so let's get one more, and then I've got to run.
How many touches a week for CJ Spiller?
I'd say he's probably looking at around 10 or so. Maybe more. I'd love it if they have him and Jackson on the field a the same time, and throw it to Spiller a bunch. I've said that I think his receptions floor is 50 this year, and I stand by that. I wrote a piece about the Bills backfield here, for what it's worth: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=nfldk2k12_decisionsbillsRB
All right, gang, I have to get going. Thank you very much for coming...it was fun. Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@writerboyESPN) and/or friend me on Facebook (facebook.com/writerboy), and ask me questions there -- I'll do my best to get back if possible. Believe me, I'm not trying to big-time you kind folks...I'm appreciative every day for your support, because without it, I wouldn't get to do this great job. Have a good one.