Hi, everyone. Welcome to your Thursday morning chat. I'll dig right in, but first: Did you know I have a podcast now? It's called the Fantasy Underground, and you can listen to the latest episode here: http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=8400394 We talk about Jamaal Charles, RG3, Joe Flacco, Andre Brown and a lot more..... Let's get to your questions......
Thoughts on Andre Brown with most of the rest of the offense out? Do you start him at flex over LaFell, Benson and Cobb?
Hi, Adam. Thanks for the shout-out for my novel, Slotback Rhapsody. (www.slotbackrhapsody.com) It's about football. Yay, football. As I mentioned, you can get extensive thoughts about Brown if you listen to the podcast. Brief thoughts: he's a decent runner. Reminds me of Alfred Morris. No wiggle, good north-south. I would say yes, I would probably start him over those three players this week, though I don't rule out the possibility that David Wilson gets hot tonight.
thoughts on michael bush ros? thanks!
Hi, Kramer. I think he's a top-15 back for as long as Forte is out, but because the Bears now contend that Forte's injury *isn't* a high-ankle sprain, he might not be out that long. Heck, Forte hasn't even officially been ruled out for Week 3. But certainly, Bush is a good start for as long as Forte is sidelined.
Is Percy Harvin REALLY a top 10 WR this week? I planned on going with Reggie Wayne over him, but your rankings suggest otherwise by a very wide margin!
Hi, Robbie. Boy, Harvin has been tremendous. This is finally what he's capable of. He's such a dynamic player, and they're using him very creatively. The great thing about him, I think, is that he has nearly as much upside as the best WRs, but without very much downside. If the Vikes keep using him as they have the first two weeks, I just don't see how he can submit a 3-point effort. He should be very consistent. He's in my lineup every week.
Start Martellus Bennett tonight -- or roll the dice and wait to see if Gates plays Sunday??
Hi, Bmac. Boy, I have Gates rated higher, but if this is your choice? I think I probably just roll with Bennett. I mean, I said this in Instant Impressions this Monday, but I'm tired of Gates. Really, really tired of his act. He's fine, he's not fine. He's in the best shape of his life, he can't play. He seems to get a pass from the fantasy industry, and there's no question, when he's out there, he's gold. But I think I use Bennett and grit my teeth.
I see tons of single-position questions folks. Remember, my answers to those are here: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=12ranksWeek3RB
thoughts on Jerome Simpson?
Hi, JY. My thoughts are that the Vikings could really use a vertical threat. Simpson hasn't ever proven he can be a consistent fantasy play, and I probably won't rank him as such once his suspension is over. But I think he's going to make Harvin's and Peterson's lives a bit better just by playing.
What do you think about Alex Smith? He looks GOOD this year. Who do you like ROS...Luck or Smith?
Hi, Connor. Say this about Smith -- he has a stellar matchup this week against a Vikings D that's really struggled against opposing QBs, and he hasn't made any mistakes. That said, he's thrown for 211 and 226 yards. Let's not get carried away. He has an unbelievably slim margin for error to be a viable fantasy starter. No, for the rest of the season, I still prefer Luck, the higher-volume, significantly higher-upside QB.
Big Ben this week against a non existent Oak Def, thoughts?
Hi, Geoff. I have Big Ben 11th this week among QBs, his high-water mark for me this season. As you say, the matchup looks so tasty. (You can see my thoughts on the OAK secondary here: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=8399104) He's been solid so far, and the Steelers don't have much of a running game right now. Like him. Obviously ranking him 11th, don't *love* him. But like him.
How confident are you starting Matthews vs ATL?
Hi, Arnie. I'm pretty confident. The matchup doesn't scare me much...the Falcons have given up the 5th-most fantasy points to opposing RBs through two weeks (they're not *bad*, I'm just saying I don't think they're elite stopping the run). The reason to be wary, I guess, would be concern over Mathews' collarbone breaking again (I think that's been ruled out by doctors) or the Chargers easing him in because of conditioning. I can't speak to the latter. But I know this: I rated Mathews in my top 10. If he can stay on the field, he'll have a *huge* role waiting for him. None of the other SD RBs can play.
Mkel Leshore starts by week ___?
Hi, Max. I hate to hedge, but to some extent, I think it's a moot distinction. I don't see the Lions riding any single back for very long. There are so many questions. Leshoure has literally never taken a regular-season NFL snap...and is coming off a torn Achilles'. Smith is an injury waiting to happen, and sat for wide swaths of Week 2. Plus maybe (outside chance, true), Jahvid Best comes back in the season's second half? I think this is the platoon of platoons, and it doesn't matter to me much who gets the first carry....
Thoughts on Dez ROS? Ever gonna live up to the hype?
Hi, Josh. I mean, listen, WRs are up-and-down. Calvin Johnson, in his mega-year last year, had 9 games of 100 yards receiving, and 4 games with < 60. So I don't think last week's piss-poor effort ruins Bryant's season. That said, of course you're right, he's an incredible physical prospect, and it sure would be nice to see him have Megatron's upside, right? I still view him as a top-20 option. I never had him in my top 10 WRs for this year. I think he's a rock-solid WR2 who'll win a few weeks for you this year.
Is Randle the WR you want in NY while Nicks is out?
Hi, James. Well, it sounds like Ramses Barden might start tonight, but it also sounds like the Giants are planning to get Randle some actual game action to see what he looks like, so those guys may rotate until someone steps forward. Me, I'm staying away from either guy unless I'm in a deep league. I don't mind owning either as a flyer, I suppose (I prefer Randle, yes), but neither will be in a starting lineup of mine in any-sized league tonight.
I really hate Thursday night games ....... Start DeAngelo tonight in the flex, or gamble on Greg Jennings playing Monday night?
Hi, Anthony. I can't swear that Jennings is going to play, because as you say, that's four days away. But I strongly believe he will as of what we know at the moment. If you have *no* other options, I guess D-Willy is a possibility. But I have to believe we'll have much more clarity on Jennings by Sunday morning, and if we have bad news then, and you can see your way to starting someone else who plays Sunday, I'd probably go in that direction. I believe in Jennings.
Not to impressed with T.Rich's performance last week?
Hi, Jacky. Definitely impressed. Much better than Week 1. The Browns did a significantly better job getting him the ball with less traffic around him, and obviously his receiving TD was a weaving, ridiculous run that we all remember from college. I boosted T-Rich from 21 to 16 in my RB ranks. I think that's generous enough at the moment. He's 1-for-2 in non-stinkers.
Garcon excites me this year--whenever he finally steps back on the field. Will it be this week?
Hi, Brett. Say hello to glorious Austin for me. (Well, glorious in the winter.) Garcon has still been limited so far in practice this week, which makes me think we're probably in the same situation as last week: he'll get out on the field before the game and see how much his foot hurts. Fortunately, unlike last week, this week is an early game, so you'll have time to adjust if he's inactive.
SJax prospects going forward? Tough defenses in that division against the run.
Hi, Brian. You're right, the NFC West does have the potential to have some rough run defenses, but I hate to proclaim that I know what defenses are after two weeks. I feel fairly confident that the 49ers will be tough against the run for the foreseeable future, but ARI and SEA -- I'm reserving judgment. Anyway, that wouldn't be the main reason for concern for me. I'm *very* worried (yet again!) about Jackson's O-line. The Rams already have a backup playing at 4 of their 5 line spots, several of them for the long term. Yikes.
Do you see McFadden getting it going in time or has the change to the zone blocking scheme ruin one of the most dynamic rushers we've seen when healthy?
Hi, Tim. It's an interesting question, and I'll say this: I think I reach my limitation as a film-watcher when I try and diagnose what different tactics that an o-line is using. I try my best, but to some extent I think you have to either know exactly what the assignments are supposed to be, or maybe it helps if you played the position (which I didn't). To me, all it really looks like is Run-DMC has no place to run. There's some of that going around in Tennessee and Kansas City right now, too. I don't think we've seen the last of an effective McFadden. But I admit I'm somewhat concerned.
Does Spiller keep his starting gig when Jackson comes back from injury? He leads the league in rushing...
Hi, Rick. Probably not. But once again, I think Spiller has injected himself into the equation to the point where Jackson can't be considered a RB1 even if he's a starter. What I expected out of the BUF offense to begin the year was lot of plays where both guys are on the field at the same time, perhaps with Spiller split wide. I think we'll see some of that. But if I'm guessing, I think we'd be looking at a 70/30 split in favor of Jackson. (And it's difficult to say that Spiller will still lead the NFL in rushing by then....)
Who is a bigger desperation swing for the fences if you need a big game.... David Wilson or Daryl Richardson?
Daniel, considering we really don't know about Jackson yet and Wilson is a sprinter, I guess the higher-upside play is Wilson. I'd give him, what, a 10% chance of breaking a huge one and taking it to the house tonight. Not great odds, obviously, and he could do bupkiss. ....
Demaryius Thomas, good sell high or legit for the season?
Hi, Roberto. I think he's legit. He's a really dangerous athlete in the open field. All those stories about how Decker was clearly Manning's preferred target because they worked out together this summer turned out (surprise!) to be so much pixel dust...I think each guy will see lots and lots of targets. Decker is a good own, too, but probably more of a flex at the moment. Thomas, because of his big-play ability with the ball in his hands, looks like more of a WR2.
Is the SD offensive line good enough to give Mathews room to run this year?
Hi, James. It's a good question. Certainly there are issues at left tackle, considering Jared Gaither can't get his back healthy, but Rivers has stayed relatively clean so Harris, the well-named guy they have filling in there, is doing a solid enough job. I don't love San Diego's O-line, but I don't think it's a disaster. And the nice thing about Mathews is that you can move him around and throw it to him and such, which can negate a specific game where he's having problems finding traditional running room.
Does Wes Welker get out of the doghouse in NE? or do i move him and see what i can get?
Hi, James. If you listen to this week's Fantasy Underground podcast, you can hear some extended thoughts from me *and* Field Yates (who covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston) about Welker. Very briefly: I wouldn't sell right now. His value is too low, and it's too early in the year. I'm worried, but not selling now.
How do you feel about DHB for ROS? Drop him for D Avery in a 12 team or wait and see if he and Carson get it together?
I admit I'm less bullish on him than I was when I made Heyward-Bey a flag player this summer. It seems to me he's going down the field an *awful* lot in pass patterns, stretching things out but not seeing the targets I thought he might. But it's two games. If he's simply roster depth and this is a shallow league, I don't hate dropping him, because you could always pick him back up if he pulls it together. And for as long as Collie is out Avery is interesting. But honestly, except in a deep league, I'm having a hard time envisioning starting either of those guys right now.
Over / under 14.5 games started for Alfred Morris?
Hi, Sarah. Nothing against the player. But under. A million times under. It's Shanny.
Still optimistic about Titus Young and Jared Cook for ROS/Keeper value? I need to drop or trade one in a keeper :(
Hi, Jeff. Yeah, what a bummer Young is. He's so talented, but from afar (and I'm doing no reporting here...), it sure looks like the Lions are trying to get him to smarten up for the long term by giving him less action right now, as penance for his stupid behavior. His maturity is the biggest thing in his way right now. Especially in a keeper, unless it's a really shallow league, I'd prefer to hang onto him. If I had to pick one, it'd be Cook to drop, but again, he's got loads of potential. I assume you have another TE, though.
Chris, in a short answer, how do you determine your projections week by week?
Hi, Derrick. The short answer is that I don't do weekly projections. Our site has them, but I don't participate in the creation of them -- it's an entirely separate (and very painstaking and time-consuming) process. I do weekly ranks, so I'm simply weighing players relative to one another at each position. The way I do that is probably equal parts art and science. I have a couple of very annoyingly complex spreadsheets that I've developed over the years to help me determine good and bad matchups at each position (that's the math part). And then it comes down to a heck of lot of "feel" based on the film that I watch.
After drafting Chris Johnson in the second round, what should I do with him?
Hi, Riz. I don't think you have many options at this point. I wouldn't sell, because you're not going to get anything for him. And because he was such an early-round pick, it's likely that you don't have a ton of great alternatives on your roster. This holds true of all early-season strugglers who are supposed to be stars...you kind of just need to ride it out for another month, and see where you are. Scratch the itchy trigger finger on a tree, or get some Calamine or somesuch.
Is Ben Tate a viable flex play week in week out if your other options are dwyer, ryan williams, and mike williams?
Hi, Jerome. Yes, I'd probably start Tate. Clearly, you're going to get some weeks like Week 1, and some weeks like Week 2. When the Texans dominate the clock and can afford to run run run, and Tate happens to be on the field for some TDs, rock on. And when that doesn't happen, he'll probably take a back seat and disappoint. That's life in Handcuff City.
Why are you so high on Fitzgerald compared to the other rankers? He has been my biggest disappointment so far.
Hi, Jordan. I guess it's my m.o. I want excellent players, and Fitz is an excellent player. My contention would probably be that you don't *have* disappointing players yet. It's two games. Being disappointed by *anybody* is a big mistake after two data points. You drafted him, you should start him. He's that good. (This is obviously my opinion, and it's your team....but there is absolutely no way on Planet Earth I would drop Fitz out of my top 10 after two weeks.)
Chris, do you think Cam goes crazy against the NYG secondary tonight?
Hi, Fernando. My guess is that he'll be very, very startable for fantasy. I think people have a different idea of the Panthers offense than what's actually on film...it's not a swashbuckling, downfield-heaving offense. It's actually on the conservative side. But Newton's legs just make the whole thing wonderful for his fantasy owners. If you drafted him, I can't see ever sitting him, provided he's healthy.
When does a "buy low" become not a good idea? I guess that's the name of the game. If you bought low on CJ0K last year but had to use an RB2, you'd be disappointed...
Hi, Dennis. It's a good question, and one that probably can't be fully answered in this forum, but my 10,000-foot answer would be -- it depends on what you paid for Johnson last year. If you bought low *enough*, and gave up absolutely nothing that you could use, then you probably got a few good games out of CJ (he did have a few), and maybe that earned you a couple of wins. That said, I just think we're too early to be trading at all right now. If someone offered me Johnson for Randy Moss right now, well, yeah, I'd probably do that, stash CJ and just wait and see. But I'm usually not the guy pulling the trigger on deals in September.
How can the Bills possibly justify a 70/30 split in favor of Jackson?
Hi, Mike. Obviously that's just my guess. Maybe they can't. But the way *I'd* justify it is -- very good players don't lose their jobs because of injuries, and we (i.e., the Bills) believe Jackson would've been every bit as good as Spiller had he been the one healthy enough to play. We'll see what they say when Jackson is ready to go. Maybe this is wrong-headed on my part. But if I'm a gambling man, that's the scenario I bet on at this exact moment in time.
Would you rather have Mathews or Chris Johnson ROS?
Hi, Chris. That's a terrific question. I guess I'd have to say Mathews. Neither guy inspires tons of long-term confidence, obviously. But Mathews.
What do you expect out of Lafell tonight?
Hi, Trent. More of the same, hopefully. His Week 1 TD was a fluke (nobody covered him), but I loved the way the Panthers used him in Week 2...on all kinds of routes, singling him up on defenders who couldn't keep up with him or letting him find soft spots in a zone. That said, he's not the top target on his team. There will be lean weeks. We discuss him at great length in this week's Fantasy Underground podcast, actually. May I suggest a listen?
What do you think Winslows impact will be in NE?
Hi, Matt. This week, I'm not expecting much. I wouldn't start him until I saw him produce something, or at least prove that he belongs on the field a bunch. Over the next month? I guess I'm slightly more bullish. If you're struggling at TE and want to shelve him for a week or two, just to see if he catches lightning in a bottle, I don't hate that. But his knees really are a problem, and it's a complicated offense to pick up with no experience and no training camp.
% split tonight between brown and wilson?
Hi, Mike. It's a good question. So I'll preface my actual answer again by saying that I *can* see Wilson reversing the trend of the past two weeks, where his hands were awful and he was basically benched. He's a first-round rookie, and he's dynamic when the ball is actually in his hands. If and when he gets a chance tonight, if he busts one, I can see the Giants scrapping their plans and giving Wilson a play-making role. That said, I think the *likeliest* scenario is an 80-20 split in favor of Brown.
% split between Leshoure and Smith on Sunday
Hi, Dave. This is another situation that's entirely fluid, because if one guy comes out and gets hot, he could dominate. But my guess is that it's pretty close to even. Maybe 60/40 in favor of Smith.
Should we expect Torrey Smith to get more involved in the offense this week against NE or should the panic begin
Hi, Jackson. What was most alarming to me about last week's loss against Philly is how often the Eagles played a single safety high, and yet how infrequently Flacco threw the ball to his WRs. He didn't seem to trust Smith to beat his man 1-on-1, which is a concern, for sure. "Panic" is a strong word, considering I don't think (or at least I hope) that too many folks were relying on Smith to be a bedrock of their fantasy teams. I always thought Smith would be a boom/bust play on a weekly basis, mostly a deep threat this year who'd make some big plays, but disappear some weeks. That's still where I am.
Are you scared about Eli tonight with out Nick and Bradshaw? Scaub is my back up...
Not at all, Aron. I think Eli is a plug-and-play. He's *maddening* at times. His first half last week was garbage. And sometimes he'll give you a *meh* effort as in Week 1. But the Giants take so many shots down the field, his upside is massive. He's still well within my top 10 QBs.
Who would win in a thumb wrestling match you or Karabell?What is Stevan Ridley worth in standard league and dynasty moving forward?
Hi, Rick. Karabell is such a non-violent zen-master that I don't think we'll ever know the answer to that one. I like Ridley very much. Flag player this summer, done nothing to shake my faith in him so far.
Okay, gang, one more, then I have to walk the dog and go write the Hard Count.....
From way out in Ethiopia: Do you think I can roll with Carson Palmer as my QB2 in a 2-QB league, along with Matt Stafford as my #1? Or try and upgrade via trade? Thanks!
Hi, Seb. Thanks for joining us from such great distance. I've kind of made a living *not* liking Palmer for the past five years or so, so it's tough for me to defend him. But in a 2QB league, he's not the worst. Obviously I don't know what you have for "spare parts" via which you might upgrade, and Palmer is definitely on the fringes of my top 20 QBs. But I don't think he's a complete joke as a QB2....
Okay, everyone. Thanks for coming -- the hour flew by. Man, we got over 2,600 questions in 60 minutes. Wow! You all are amazing. Thank you very much. Again, tune into the podcast for more thoughts, and also you can follow me @writerboyESPN or friend me at facebook.com/writerboy. Oh, hey, and I have this football novel, you know? I mean, I *know* nobody reads anymore, and you're like, "Stop selling me crap, you jerk!" But if I ever answered a question of yours, and you wouldn't mind paying me back, the Kindle version of Slotback Rhapsody is six bucks. I mean SIX BUCKS. www.slotbackrhapsody.com. Thanks, and I'll see you soon......