Hey, all. Have you checked out this week's Fantasy Underground podcast? You can find it on iTunes or at espn.com/podcenter. And it will make you smarter. Remember: answers to all single-position questions are here: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=12ranksWeek4RB Oh, and follow me on Twitter, won't you? @writerboyESPN
Hi Christopher- Stafford has been my starting QB and I picked up Flacco a week ago as insurance. Do I play Flacco tonight or wait until Sunday? Shaun Hill, Ponder and Fitzpatrick are all available. Thanks!
Hi, Chip. I think I'd use Flacco. I ranked him 9th among QBs against the Haden-less Ravens, and we just can't really know anything for sure about the Lions. If I knew Hill was playing, I would rank Flacco ahead of him.
Is Cedric Benson worth starting over Torrey Smith this week?
Hi, Nathan. Benson has the tastiest matchup available against the Saints, so my tendency would be to use him. But remember: He's not very good, and the Packers aren't going to automatically give him 20 touches. Still, he's my pick.
Trade Mikel Leshoure for Reggie Wayne? My RB are McCoy, Forte, Mathews, Martin, Benson, F. Jackson, Leshoure and WR are Jennings, Jones, Austin and Amendola.
Hi, Mike. Yeah, to me it looks like you don't have much of a chance of ever using Leshoure, so I'm not opposed to selling at this point. Wayne is a decent return. I think you win that trade. But I also think you *might* be able to do even better.....
Hi Chris. With the DHB injury, do you think R. Streater is worth a pick-up?
I don't mind adding him, but I'm not sure that he'll play ahead of Derek Hagan. My gut tells me maybe they split looks. And frankly, I feel like most of Palmer's good stats at this point are inflated by a couple blowout situations (though he was terrific on that final drive last week), so I'm not thrilled about starting any Raiders receiver outside Moore.
Andre Brown, Britt or Lafell for flex?
Hi, Mark. I think I'm going to say Brown, though obviously it's no sure thing. Until we see what the Giants' plans are for a Bradshaw/Brown tandem, we're sort of flying blind. But because I'm not overwhelmed by your WR alternatives, I'll take the shot that Brown finds the end zone.
Would you trade away Chris Johnson to get Brandon Marshall?
Hi, Chris. Obviously I don't know your roster, but in a vacuum, that strikes me as pretty good value for CJ. Hate selling low -- but then again, that's not that low. I'd probably do it, provided you have the RB depth to handle it, and need a WR.
Andre Johnson's injury problems are well documented, but with HOU running so effectively and thus not targeting him much, would you sell on him, say if you could get Demaryius Thomas and Vincent Jackson for him?
Hi, John. I wouldn't. Not unless it's a deep league and you have no other WRs on your roster. I know AJ is injury-prone, and to some extend you're asking for trouble. But you made your bed when you took him, and when he's healthy, he's a top-five guy every week. Don't trade that kind of player.
Would you trade Cam Newton for Big Ben?
Hi, Neal. No, I wouldn't.
Re Snoop: "Did you leave him a basket of narcotics?" That was hilarious; well played!
Ha. Thanks, Alex. I didn't know if they'd cut that out. Glad they didn't. I had no idea what was coming in that podcast. (For the uninitiated -- Matthew had me on as guest host on the Fantasy Focus podcast yesterday, and was supposed to get Snoop Dogg, but he canceled, so they decided to interview me as Snoop Dogg without telling me first.) Improv!
I see you're highest on Vick this week...was going to start Flacco tonight after last week. Do you think Flacco and the Ravens might shut down the passing attack early against the Browns?
Hi, Nick. Well, I mean, it's a possibility. I'm just not willing to sit Vick too many times as long as he's upright, is really the explanation for my rank. His running adds a dimension that makes guys like him, Newton and RG3 so valuable, even when they're getting the snot beaten out of them or having a bad day passing. That was more the logic of my rank, not so much being worried about Flacco shutting it down.
Can I be a #2 running back
Can he? Yes. Will he this week? My worry is no. There's no question that Williams seems to have a backfield to himself, and that's monstrously valuable. But outside of a couple late runs last week, Williams has actually looked borderline horrible, and the Dolphins run defense is no joke. I'm treating Williams like a flex until he does something great, and as long as I have decent alternatives, I'm willing to miss his first good game. But it certainly is a good idea to roster him.
if forte practices the rest of the week,is he worth starting?
It's a good question, Dave. But difficult to answer. If you have Michael Bush? Sure, I don't mind waiting. But if you have to take a donut at RB in case he winds up being inactive on Monday night? I probably can't do that. Too bad the game isn't a 1 p.m. Sunday start....
Hey Snoop Lion. You're higher up on Maclin over Moore compared to the rest of your fantasy posse. You think Maclin would be a better start coming off the Stinger than Denarious Moore at Den?
Hi, Vishal. The Maclin rating is clearly questionable until we know what the true status of his hip is...and there's no question, I ranked him with optimistic thoughts about his health. But I'm not buying that the Giants pass defense is suddenly all better. I think they're still shaky. Of course, if the pass rush gets Vick, that won't matter as much. But I still think it nets out as a plus matchup for the Iggles' pass game.
For all who are concerned: I'm not sure what you're seeing in the chat room, but I can assure you that auto-update is on.
hey chris! no ranking for mcgahee? if he practices and looks ready to go, where do you have him?
Hi, Stephen. Yeah, I may have to modify that one, because McGahee said he felt decent in practice yesterday. I haven't done the work yet, but to ballpark it, I'd say he'd go very late teens or very early 20s among RBs.
Is it fair to analyze a performance by saying "take away this run or catch, and he didn't do too well"? I suppose it speaks to the consistency of each opportunity the player receives, but those big plays count, and they happen every week all around the NFL.
Hi, Jack. It's definitely not fair to *always* use that analysis. Put it this way: I don't think you can *ever* use that analysis if all you're doing is looking at the box score. However, if you watch the game film, and see that, for example, Michael Turner had 12 touches for 24 yards through three quarters and then found a giant hole through an exhausted Chargers defense to make a big, giant gain, it's fair to comment that if you take away the big gain, he looked crummy. It's more of an eye-test than a stats thing, in other words (in my opinion).
Must be a glitch on one of our ends. I normally don't have an issue with these things but it says it's off.
Yeah, I see tons of comments about this, but I promise, the questions are scrolling fast and furious.
Sleeper DEF this week?
Hi, Jason. You can see my defensive ranks here: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=12ranksWeek4DST As of yesterday the Cardinals defense was still unowned in about half of ESPN leagues, so if they're unowned in yours, they'd qualify.
Alfred Morris, Cedric Benson, Brandon Lafell, or Mike Williams at flex? Ppr league.
Hi, Kameron. Despite Benson's better matchup, I probably roll with Morris.
Any chance I actually get to be a lead back this week or any week this year?
Well, if I'm a betting man, I'm betting Fred Jackson plays this week, despite yesterday's "setback." And there's a chance Spiller plays, too. So, no, I think not. But that doesn't mean you don't hang onto him through this week, just to see how things work out.
Do you believe in Gore as a Rb2 this year? I have a trade offer, Nicks for Gore. That would leave me with Dez and Mike Wallace at WR. Thanks!
Hi, Billy. Well, I do believe Gore should be considered a top 20 back. But I also believe he's an injury-prone older guy who's likely to see his workload monitored as the season progresses, and if Brandon Jacobs starts playing, TDs could conceivably get scarcer. It's probably a deal I'd have a hard time making, even though I think it's fair.
Hi, Chris. What are your thoughts on Ridley? How much does sitting out in the spread offense impact his value going forward? Martin a safer weekly play?
Hi, PJ. I wrote about Josh McDaniels in the Hard Count last week, and I'll probably have an update note in this week's column, too. It's such a huge mistake to have Woodhead in exclusively in the hurry-up, in my opinion. I guess I'm not qualified to say who's a more trustworthy pass blocker, but Woodhead just isn't exciting with the ball in his hands any longer. He doesn't make plays I think Ridley can. I guess I'm hopeful the Pats will realize this after watching last week's film.
Justin Blackmon has been terrible so far, what should I do with him, hang on to him and hope he comes along, or go head and drop him
Well, it's tough to say definitively because I don't know who you'd be dropping him for. But I don't hate the idea of dropping him. Tough for me to see anyone catching passes from Blaine Gabbert right now being an every-week fantasy starter.
CJ2K was recently dropped and is available on my league waiver wire. My current RBs are TRich, DougMartin, BJGE and Ryan Williams. Should I even consider picking up CJ2K and drop Ryan Williams?
Hi, Howdie. I don't know if I'd drop any of those RBs, but I have to believe there's *something* on your roster that you can part with (a speculative WR perhaps?). The bottom line is: Yes, if CJ has been dropped in anyone's league, you should claim him. You won't feel obligated to start him. But you should claim him.
I will be the starter by week __?
It's a good question. Alfred Morris seems kind of bulletproof at the moment, but that's *just* when Shanny gets ya! I'll say this: I predict Grant *will* start games for WAS this year. But I'm not sure it goes well. He looked bad in GB for most of last year.
In the underground you didnt sound high on Dez. If Garcon plays who do you start Garcon or Dez?
Hi, Hunter. Yeah, Field kind of talked me out of liking Dez as much as Austin this week. Still, I'm not sure I'd be ready to put Bryant below a potentially hobbled Garcon....
Is Cobb now fantasy (C)obsolete?
Hi, Tom. Yes, I think he can be dropped in most leagues.
Any reason to not rank Tate higher than Benson this week, given the high chances of a HOU blowout against an easy run D (in TEN)?
Hi, Ben. I certainly understand the logic, and it could play out that way. That tends not to be the way I approach ranks -- there's only so high that I'm willing to go with a backup RB, because while you're right, there are scenarios where Tate gets just as much work as Foster, there are also scenarios where he does what he did last week. Whereas say what you want about Benson (and he's not very good), he should at least be a better bet for more touches in any given week.
Hey Chris, Remember when Colston came out of nowhere a few years back? Who is it this year....Hawkins, Pitta, Simpson...the list goes on.
Hi, Kmac. Well, I don't think it's Hawkins or Pitta. Pitta is a good story, and a fantasy starter right now in a bunch of leagues, but he's not a transcendent talent, and I think the league adjusts to him. Hawkins is an *awesome* story, a CFL kid making it big, but he's teeny and on the field for about 1/3rd of Cincy's plays. Simpson is a good call. I STUPIDLY left him off my waiver column this week, which was simply an oversight. Ga. Simpson should be added in all leagues. Obviously, he's been a tease so far in his NFL career, and odds are that he doesn't work into anything close to a fantasy starter. But who knows? He certainly has the physical gifts to be a WR1 someday (it's the space between his ears that's disconcerting).
I was watching highlights of CJ and his prior O-line really got up the field well. Does he have the worst Oline this year?
Hi, Nate. Fully agree with your analysis of how Johnson looked in Week 3. Good call. There were runs where you were like: "Okay, I remember this guy." But there were three runs for like minus-22 yards where the entire D-line met him in the backfield. What's the dude supposed to do? I do *not* buy the narrative that he's gone soft or wimpy. I just don't. The interior of that line is a joke. Steve Hutchinson isn't changing anything in there. They have to get that turned around. Worst? Not sure. We got that Rams line, we got that Bears line. Heck, Bryan Bulaga is making a case for the Packers line all by himself......
Thoughts on Michael Turner? He is the starter and is getting the touches. Is he is a solid flex play this week?
Funny you should ask, Daniel, because we spend about 8 minutes talking about Michael Turner in this week's Fantasy Underground podcast. I recommend it highly. iTunes or ESPN.com/podcenter.
What kind of role and value do you project Barden to have the rest of the way?
Hi, Brian. I think he should be rostered in a lot of leagues, though in a 10-team league sometimes "developmental" players are tough to find spots for, especially if you've got great depth. But the WR3 job for NYG is going to make him too inconsistent to start most weeks. His best-case scenario is Nicks staying (or re-getting) hurt. At that point, he becomes a clear fantasy starter.
Hey, Chris. Absolutely love your new Fantasy Underground podcast - I respect and appreciate your in-depth film analysis compared to other fantasy analysts. I saw Karabell is way down on Fred Jackson the remainder of the year in his updated 2012 rankings. Would you rather have Leshoure or Fred Jackson the ROS?
Thanks, Ryan. I would still say Jackson. There's a lot we don't know about how the Buffalo situation is going to break out. But what we do know is this: RBs are succeeding in that spread offense right now. Jackson is a terrific player, and while Spiller is going to cut into his touches, I believe F-Jax is still the starter (especially if Spiller misses games and Jackson puts a couple nice ones together right away). The Lions aren't trustworthy when it comes to running the ball (even though they beat Leshoure into the ground last week), so I'd still put Jackson higher.
Who do you like better ROS Jaquizz Rodgers or B. Powell? .5 PPR
Hi, Eric. I'd take Rodgers.
If you own McFadden would you bother with Goodson as a handcuff?
Hi, Jason. It kind of depends on your league format. In a 10-teamer, roster spots are certainly at a premium, and it can sting to have to hold onto a guy who is total chaff until and if your starter gets hurt. But Run-DMC gets hurt, and so does Taiwan Jones. I still believe Goodson would get the job if McFadden gets hurt, so yeah, if I could still roster him, I probably would.
Any confidence Cutler bounces back from a slow start? He's my QB in a 16 team league and nothing on the wire. Hate to mess up my WR and RB depth in a trade situation.
Hi, David. Yeah, brutal. I'm in a 16-teamer (the 15th season of the League of American Recreational Gridiron Enthustiasts...or L.A.R.G.E.), and there's nothing worse than feeling like you have no alternatives. I never liked Cutler this year because I hate the o-line so much. I do believe he's a borderline top-16 QB, and I think he'll regress (or in his case, progress) to that mean. But better than that? Don't see it.
Auto update is NOW ON! WHOOO
It's been on from my end the whole time, so I've been seeing your questions, but I'm glad now you don't have to refresh the answers.
Would you trade Colston for Cam Newton straight up? My current QBs are Rivers/Luck. Top 3 WR are Megatron/Lloyd/D. Thomas. Hurts WR depth, but worth the risk?
Hi, John. I sure would.
In a very deep league, who do you like the ROS at TE...Myers, Lewis, Fasano, Cameron, Heap, McCoy
Ugh. Dang deep. In the short term you can't start him, but for the entire season, the only name there I'm fascinated by is Jordan Cameron. He's someone I hanging onto in a big way in La Liga Lebowski, a 26-player super-deep mega-dynasty league. Big hopes for Cameron.
Chris, is Ryan Matthews going to be pulled in goal-line situations per his coach's comments? How concerned should I be? Would you start Welker at the flex spot instead of him now?
Hi, Jim. I read the comments, and all I can say is: Norv Turner is not trustworthy when he talks to the media about his RBs. I remember the year when LaDainian Tomlinson was going to win the rushing title, he looked so good, whereupon he was cut the next year. I remember a few weeks ago when Ronnie Brown looked *great* in practice. You don't like it when your RB fumbles in close, in real life or in fantasy. But no, I think I'm still okay thinking Mathews has full value at the moment.
Hello CH aka Swagg Guru, quick question on who to start in my flex position. I have Stevie Johnson Jeremy Maclin and Mikel Lesoure, its a .5ppr league. im already starting sproles and doug martin at rb and Percy and Torrey at Wr
Hi, Marty. Well, you can check out my ranks -- I have Stevie Johnson well above Torrey Smith, so there's that. And I'd say Leshoure should be in your lineup, too, despite the tough matchup vs. MIN.
Everyone also SO high on Jerome Simpson? Can I ask why? It was only the pre-season.
There is definitely *no* reason to be *so* high on Jerome Simpson, I agree. At this point, he is *all* potential, and backflips. I would say he's rosterable, and I would *not* start him for all the tea in China this week. He's an athletic freak who's been a fantasy tease his whole NFL life. But the Vikings don't have anyone else who can run down the field, so the reason he's getting mentioned is that if he ever puts it all together, he could produce a Sidney-Rice-circa-2009 kind of season.
How much rope does Sanchez have (hopefully not to hang himself with), as measured in weeks?
Hi, Todd. I guess more than if they'd lost the game last week (which they obviously should have). It's an untenable situation long term, but given that they're 2-1, I'd have to say he's got at least a few more.
I was offered C.Benson for K.Rudolph...should I pull the trigger or is Rudolph worth more right now? (already have Rice/Murray at RB and both V and F Davis at TE)
Hi, BP. Well, through this chat, I hope you've noticed that despite having the GB backfield to himself, I'm not high on Benson. Sure, he made some runs Monday, but he had huge room to run, and one had the sense that a "real" back could've gained 20 instead of 8. Still, he's a starter, and he doesn't get hurt, plus he's catching the ball a bit. It's good value for Rudolph. If you can't aim for a top-20 back, I'd probably pull the trigger.
How good am I going to be... Would you give up Percy Harvin in a trade if you needed an RB badly and had some depth at WR?
I honestly don't think we know how good he's going to be, a year removed from a torn Achilles'. Clearly a good first game. But the TEN defense has been top-5 in generosity to opposing RBs by my metrics, and things will be tougher versus MIN this week. If he does it again, I'll start to believe more. I like Harvin too much to trade him for Leshoure.
Do you like Powell or Lamar Miller on your bench, and who starts sooner? And keeps the job?
Hi, Michael. I can answer your first question -- nobody can definitively answer your second or third. I would rather roster Miller right now because he's the one with special talent. Powell is *fine*, and probably looks *more* fine because we compare him with the pedestrian Shonn Greene. You can hear extended thoughts of mine about Powell on this week's Fantasy Underground podcast.
Really? I'm not even RANKED!???
You're on a bye, Donald.
Your view of Simpson's fantasy impact on Harvin, both this week and later in season?
Hi, Jack. Well, I can see some weeks where if Simpson lives up to his potential, he could become something of a drain. But Harvin strikes me as a player who should almost never *kill* you in any given week, because he does so many different things, including getting red-zone carries. And if Simpson can keep safeties honest, there's going to be more room for Harvin underneath. I think I probably view it as a net positive for Harvin.
Is my job in jeopardy with this Rodgers fellow running up my back?
Again, listen to the Fantasy Underground podcast for more complete and detailed thoughts than I could provide in this forum.
I was offer Chris Johnson, BJGE, and Antonio Brown for McCoy.....is this enought for McCoy?
Hi, Andy. My rule of thumb is the owner who gets the best player almost always wins a trade. Unless everyone on your roster is hurt and you literally can't field a team, don't deal away McCoy. Just don't.
"all the tea in China this week" I'm hoping that was a Family Guy reference! M. Bush or Decker in the Flex?!
Hi, Mike. It was, it was. So tough to decide since we don't know for sure that Forte isn't playing Monday night. And if you don't *own* Forte, you might just have to bite the bullet and use Decker. The good news is that he's got the best of all possible matchups versus a depleted OAK secondary.
Would trading Brees and Torrey Smith for Aaron Rodgers and Victor Cruz be an adequate buy low for Rodgers?
I would do that deal, yes. I think Brees and Rodgers are basically a wash, and much prefer Cruz to Smith.
Hey, do you have any WRs outside the top 50 who could make a good desperation play this week with some upside?
A tall order, but the good news is that I can't really get bashed for the answer. I'll say Sidney Rice and Rod Streater.
SJax, chances he actually produces (positively) this year?
Hi, Brian. Sure, I think he'll have some fine games. He's obviously dealing with a physical problem at the moment, and the offensive line is a total wreck. But he's a tough dude. I think he's at least a flex most weeks for the for immediate future.
Is Nate Burelson a suitable flex in a 12-team 3WR + Flex league?
Well, Daniel, at some point beggars can't be choosers, right? The fact that it's a PPR is probably what makes this okay. But obviously in any given week, a fringe-ish guy like Burleson can fade away, especially if that was a mini-breakout from Titus Young last week.
I'm in desperation mode at running back. Who can I add and plug in this week for at least a few fantasy points? Thanks!!
Hi, Kurt. Again, my kind of question, since nobody can hate me for being wrong. (Well, okay, they *can*. But they probably shouldn't.) Ronnie Hillman (probably only if McGahee doesn't play)? Mike Tolbert?
Will Brandon Lloyd be that much more valuable in a standard league than Denarious Moore??
Hi, Brian. My guess is yes.
I was offered Jimmy Graham and Brandon LaFell for Kyle Rudolph, Mikel LeShoure, and Ryan Williams who are all on my bench...should I pull the trigger?
I would. Graham is the only truly elite player here, and you're getting him. To me, that means you likely win the deal.
One more, and I have to get writing......
Do you think D/ST are worth trading for?
Hi, Marquel. I really don't. They're just mega-unpredictable on a weekly basis, and it seems to me that there's always a decent enough one on the waiver wire if you've got a bad matchup. Folks who spent an early-ish round pick on the 49ers defense...how's that working out so far? It's why I always tell folks to wait on D/ST.......
All right...I see all the posts that indicate how much you're irritated with me for not taking your question, but there were over 2,700 in the last hour. That makes it pretty tough, I think you'll agree. Feel free to follow me and ask me there @writerboyESPN and I'll do my best. I don't take this job for granted, and I know that without your interest and attention, I'd be doing something else for a living. So I really will do my best. And thank you very much. Have a great day.