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September 17, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy Sports with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions. Mostly fantasy football today, being it's prime time for that, but if you've got a fantasy baseball question, I'll take 'em too. Just make sure to write "BASEBALL" at the top of your question, if you don't want me to miss it. Thanks!

Adam (TX)

I lost my baseball playoffs by .0003 in BA, the beauty of fantasy baseball

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:05 AM)

It happens, and it's why I'm more of a fan of Rotisserie than head-to-head scoring. The same arguments against fluky results in football's Week 16 title games apply.

Jason (Nashville)

Time for Charles owners to panic? Week 1 he gets no targets and yesterday is used sparingly. Was this dictated by game flow or is can we expect KC to limit his touches for a while?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:07 AM)

Oh, I think that was a definitive decision by Chiefs management to keep Jamaal Charles' workload in check; he was effectively working as a backup sharing that gig with Shaun Draughn. But it doesn't surprise me, and I reiterate my preseason comments: September is not the time to expect much from Charles, nor does poor September performance signal panic time.If there's any takeaway from the first two games on the negative side, however, it's that the Chiefs are just not that good a football team, especially the defense. They're much, much worse than I anticipated so there's a good chance Charles isn't breezing past 250 touches after all.

Joe (Pittsburgh)

With more focus on the run game and a less effective O-Line, and the loss of Hernandez, should we be lowering our expectations for Tom Brady?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:08 AM)

Perhaps a little, but weren't the expectations already absurd? Brady finds ways to win and the personnel surrounding him isn't of the "fall off the cliff" variety. I might drop him closer to fifth than his No. 2 preseason stock, but that's still someone I'm happy owning.

Will (SF)

Alfred Morris show enough to keep his fantasy owner's trust?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:10 AM)

I'm not a Morris fan. I see his skill set being best served in a short-yardage, plus change-of-pace, kind of role. If there's a plus about Morris' first two weeks, he looks more explosive than anyone anticipated, and he's not making the mistakes that'd normally land a Mike Shanahan back in the doghouse. It locks him in for an extended period as a starter, at least. But lest I remind you: LeGarrette Blount once had a couple of solid games like this where people were warming, and I think the "sell high" lesson of Blount could apply here, too.

Ace (NY)

The Giants are NOT looking like the special unit I thought I stole as my last round draft pick. Do I need to look around for another D/ST starting Week 3 against Cam and Co.?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:13 AM)

I'm not sure why you thought they would be. This is a secondary that has been ravaged by injuries both this <i>and</i> last season, and the lessons of 2011 should've held over that this team is going to get beaten via the pass in the early weeks. The Giants can help on a matchups basis, but that's as far as I would have and still will go.

Mark (NJ)

Given the poor play of the Steelers Rbs, how do you like Mendenhall's chances of taking back the starting gig when he returns?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:15 AM)

He'll get every opportunity to, but I remain firmly of the opinion that he won't be a factor for our purposes at all until October, and any "real" Rashard Mendenhall we see this season wouldn't arrive until at least Nov. 1. I'm thinking flex-play back until Week 10-ish, <i>maybe</i> RB2 after that, and the latter is a leap I cannot take without first seeing how he's running in games.

Remer (MN)

Your favorite pick ups this week at RB?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:19 AM)

Mikel Leshoure is the first name to come to mind, as the Lions played that game as if they didn't trust anyone currently in their backfield, but I'll point out that I don't expect a lot more than flex-play potential from him. It's a passing team, so not a lot of touches to be had.I'd take a look at Daryl Richardson and Andre Brown, from the "their teams' starters are coming off injuries so let's just be safe" angle. Richardson being the better talent of the two, in my opinion. And this is going waaaaaay deep.

Rob (KC)

Most maddening player to own = Dwayne Bowe.

Stan (Elmont, NY)

ESPN has conflicting data on BAL starters today thru Wed vs Seattle. Can you confirm Tillman is throwing tonite? He owns them the past 2 season and I would like a good start to my pitching stats in the playoffs this week. Thanks THC.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:21 AM)

I got that Chris Tillman report from one of the Baltimore beat reporters, so yes, my understanding as of the most recent Forecaster update is that he's pitching Monday. Tuesday is Wei-Yin Chen, Wednesday is Joe Saunders, but remember, the Orioles are and have been willing to change their rotations at any instant. They generally are scheduling ahead 1-2 games. What I published is roughly how I would plan, and sorry to say that's the best I can advise you.

Tammy (Evansport)

Hey TC, was wondering what you thought of Fleener, worth owning in 12-team leagues, only had 2 catches but 3rd most targets in an indy offense that will likely be passing a lot.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:23 AM)

In a 12-team league, sure, but let's not overstate what's effectively TE2 fantasy potential, and probably not anything more all year. In defense of Fleener's Week 2 stats, which you outlined, remember that it's the Vikings' secondary that is weak, so you'd expect the wideouts, not the tight end, to be the ones doing the damage. If I was to guess, Fleener will average something like 6-7 targets and 3-4 catches a week.

AK (Milwaukee)

Is the past week for Larry Fitzgerald something owners will see more of or is this just a bad, weird week and shouldn't concern us?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:26 AM)

It should concern you from the aspect that Fitzgerald's fantasy potential appeared to be, and now has been confirmed, greater with John Skelton his quarterback. So monitor Skelton's ankle injury, because Fitzgerald could sure use him back in Week 3.

TommyB (Springdale,AR)

Is Ryan Williams still worth a roster spot?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:27 AM)

He has been <i>terrible</i> the first two weeks, which splashes an ocean-full of cold water upon any chatter that he might unseat the comparably underperforming Beanie Wells for the starting gig. I think Williams warrants a roster spot the deeper the league runs -- he's still only a Wells injury away from 15 carries a week -- but if you need the spot and see something clearly better...

Tricia (DC)

Should David Wilson be dropped?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

To be clear, owning David Wilson at this point is clinging to upside potential, not anything resembling opportunities in the short term. He's in the doghouse, for sure. If you cannot afford to stash lottery tickets, by all means, let him go. That said, I'd strongly advise waiting until we get more news on Ahmad Bradshaw's neck. The aforementioned Brown looks first up to bat if the Giants need a sub, but if Bradshaw misses any significant time I cannot see how Wilson wouldn't escape Tom Coughlin's doghouse to be a factor in a few weeks.

business ethics (Billy Madison)

Ethics opinion q: fantasy baseball league finals, guy picks up every plyer with 2 starts so other person can't. i feel that is just annoying and you should field your best team versus his best team. am i crazy?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:32 AM)

Preventing another competitor from scooping up valuable resources off the waiver wire is a perfectly acceptable strategy. What I consider unacceptable -- though some leagues do have rules that allow this (I merely don't like it) -- is when a team cycles every player on the waiver wire back onto the free-agent list so that waivers have to run on everyone before the pickup deadline. There should be a price to be paid to strategize; that price is having the player on your roster, instead of your opponent's.

Matt (Illinois)

Who do you think is the better TE option going forward ROS in a NonPPR League = Brent Celek OR Brandon Pettigrew?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:33 AM)

I'm not a Pettigrew guy. He has never been a consistently reliable option in scoring position, his fantasy appeal greater in PPR leagues due to the volume of catches. I'd have had these two fairly close in the preseason, and I like the chemistry I see between Celek and Michael Vick thus far. They'd rank close for me, but I'll take Celek.

Oz (NJ)

Should I be concerned about how Matt Stafford is playing?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:36 AM)

He has 12 fantasy points in back-to-back weeks, pacing for 192 for the year. That'd have ranked 17th last season, and let's not ignore the follies of pacing numbers, as well as the fact that Stafford probably just played his toughest matchup of the entire 2012 schedule.So, no, you shouldn't.

CJ Spiller's mom (CJ Spiller's mom's house)

Does my son get to keep his job even after Fred Jackson comes back from injury?!?!?!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:36 AM)

I think he has to. About the best I can say here. <i>Has</i> to, at this point.

Danny (Chicago)

Jay Cutler or Ben Roethlisberger ROS? I need to choose who to roll with as my Vick backup.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:38 AM)

I don't trust Cutler. The Bears don't keep him upright enough, and this level of pass pressure is going to keep him throwing a high number of picks. He's fine as a No. 2 option in a two-quarterback league, but I just don't see Cutler as a smart kind of option as a fantasy starter, or as a "safe" fallback to an injury-prone starter like Vick. Roethlisberger at least doesn't inspire similar fear on a week-to-week basis if you need to call upon him.

jblackburner (ATL)

I own Hernandez in all my leagues. Nice. Can you please rank these TEs for the next 4 or 5 weeks: Pitta, Olsen, Bennett, Rudolph, Chandler. Thanks

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:40 AM)

That's football for you, though. Injuries happen.I'd take Martellus Bennett, then Kyle Rudolph, then Dennis Pitta, then Greg Olsen, then Scott Chandler. I firmly believe Chandler is only the kind of player you match up against teams with weak linebacking corps; those are the times he'll be more likely to sneak in a score. Same for Olsen, really. Rudolph has the highest ceiling of this bunch.

Jim (Philly)

Trent Richardson: beginning of a trend or just a bad Cincy D?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:42 AM)

I'm picking trend. Most impressive in the receiving department, especially the 23-yard score. And it shouldn't shock that he's trending upward as he should as he gets further from his surgery. Let's say clear RB2 now.

Eric (CO)

Who do you like better ROS? Hartline or Avery?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:44 AM)

Brian Hartline has a larger slice of the pie between these two, but I think the pie is tastier in Indianapolis than Miami. I'll take Avery, primarily because I look at this like a "hail mary" question, so I'll aim for the higher ceiling.

Andrew (Philly)

Fred Davis, any identifiable reasons for his lack of involvment?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

The only one that comes to mind is chemistry with his quarterback, or in this case lack thereof. One of the more unpredictable factors in tight end value as we map out preseason ranks is this, as we can't get a read on how much new quarterbacks trust their tight ends until the games start. I'd say this drops Davis into the TE2 class, not <i>quite</i> drop city yet, but you're right to be concerned.

Robert Griffin III (Washington DC)

True of False: I don't like passing to Fred Davis and after only 2 weeks fantasy owners of his should now jump ship for a guy like Brent Celek, Martellus Bennett or Kyle Rudolph?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:47 AM)

Actually, if <i>that's</I> what's available in your league, that's cool. I'd take one of those tight ends given the chance.

Chris Johnson (World of Fantasy Hurt)

What is to blame for my horrible start? Play calling? O-Line? It can't be all me can it? I worked out with the team for the first time in my career this offseason. This is what happens?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:49 AM)

O-line isn't helping, but I think Johnson deserves some of the blame, being that he's not running with anything close to the aggressiveness and confidence that he did a few short seasons ago. Unfortunately fantasy owners have no reasonable choice but to stick with him and hope for the best. If you've got an obsessive "buy-low" owner in your league who might be willing to part with top-12 RB value for him, hey, go ahead. But I don't think many of you are going to find that.

Ahmad (Detroit)

Is Michael Bush an RB2 with the absence of Forte?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

Yes. Bush as the primary back, to me, is actually more attractive a fantasy option in those weeks, being that he'll get the goal-line carries (touchdowns drive fantasy).

Devin Brooks (Detroit)

Tristan, Do you see Danny Amendole becoming a WR2 most weeks, he do get the targets? one more, What is up with Dez bryant?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:53 AM)

Only in PPR. A couple things about Amendola: Health history makes him a risky long-term investment, so be careful not to get cozy at any point. He's also typically not a big yards-per-catch type, doing his damage in volume, so don't overrate in standard. I'm going to say WR3 weekly upside, WR4 actual value accounting for the health risk.As for Bryant, I'm really unsure. He had a solid preseason, so I'm left to wonder whether it's off-the-field distractions, and by that I mean all the chatter about "Dez Rules" and the like. Increased attention an unnecessary distraction? Impossible for any of us to know but I simply wonder.

Eric (Tx)

DHB or Lafell ROS (PPR)?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

I've been a Brandon LaFell fan since the preseason, not changing now.

Dave (Baltimore)

Outlook for ROS: Michael Turner or Cedric Benson?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:56 AM)

Mostly matchups guys, both of them. I see slightly greater prospect of weekly goal-line carries for Turner, so that's the direction I would go. Not that I feel remotely good about it. Might both be low-end RB2s/flex plays.

Alan (Tampa)

Thoughts on S. Holmes? I see he was getting targets (and scored) but didn't look particularly good. I don't believe he is the same guy he once was.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

I agree with that. Holmes is likely to pace the Jets in the receiving departments, but let's not overlook that the Jets have additional pieces they want to examine in larger roles (Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley). Expect weekly fluctuations in fantasy scoring, meaning Holmes at best is a WR3. (And one I'm not that fond of.)

John (Denver)

What do you think of the Arizona Defense? Legit? I only have Buffalo at the moment.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

Fairly, yes. To come into New England and offer a seven-point fantasy performance, that's pretty darned good. Kudos to Ray Horton, who has that defense playing well enough to be in the fantasy conversation most weeks. (Weeks 4-7: MIA, @STL, BUF, @MIN)

Felix (Sun Valley, CA)

McCluster? Will his role increase with Charles' injury?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:01 PM)

What injury? Didn't hear there being a new one, unless you mean ongoing recovery from his knee surgery.I don't think the Chiefs really regard McCluster as a significant part of their backfield, so no. Could get a few carries here or there but I think he's mostly a No. 3 option at best in the passing game.

Ben (Toronto)

BASEBALL: start Carpenter on Friday?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:03 PM)

I wouldn't. Anyone who does is grasping to two things: "Name value" for Carpenter, and the fact that the Cubs aren't that great an offense from the year-long angle. But I point out that Carpenter has missed a ton of time, we have no idea how he's throwing because the minor league seasons are over, and the Cubs have hit pretty decently at Wrigley, especially lately. I'd play that one conservatively.

Sean (Iowa)

Got a Trade offer ? = RG3 &#x26; T-Rich for my Tom Brady in my standard league...Am I crazy for considering this offer? HELP!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:04 PM)

You are not crazy. I do think it'd be smart to roster a decent second quarterback if you do it, though. Griffin alone isn't the kind of strategy I'd employ.

Jason (SINY)

Titus Young- stay patient or welcome to dropville?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:05 PM)

Standard ESPN league, welcome to dropville, <i>but do not forget his name when you're checking future returns</i>. This is a depth-of-talent-pool question. The opportunity remains for Young to emerge as the Lions' No. 2 weapon in the passing game. No one else has really claimed it. But Young's returns through two weeks put him beneath the standard cut.

Brian (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Just heard that Lovie Smith says Forte does NOT have a high ankle sprain. Does this change your outlook on his return?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:06 PM)

It makes me much, much less frightened about his full-season fantasy prospects, and I'm glad you mentioned it for that reason. I'm about as anti-high ankle sprain as you get among analysts; I've seen far too many seasons ruined by those. They take weeks to heal and have been lingering problems for players who pushed themselves too hard.

Kevin (USA)

With Houston having a good run game and a good defense, is andre Johnson worth go down since Houston doesn't throw much?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:09 PM)

A little. As in, as opposed to being the clear No. 1 wideout in fantasy -- OK, or the clear No. 2 since Calvin Johnson is easily No. 1 -- he's more like a No. 6-10 wideout. I'm still much more concerned about Johnson's ability to stay healthy than his role on the team. He's pretty much the best receiving weapon the Texans have, so he'll get his targets.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:09 PM)

OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks to everyone for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone, and best of luck to those of you in fantasy baseball championship matchups this week!