Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

October 1, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy Sports with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:02 AM)

Good morning everyone! Another busy week as the Monday 11 a.m. ET chat is concerned; Week 4 marks the quarter point of the fantasy football season, while three (four if tiebreaker) more days remain in the fantasy baseball season, meaning championship time.Same drill as the past two weeks: If you've got a baseball question, please do ask. But make sure you begin it by writing BASEBALL in caps at the beginning, or I might not see it.Let's get started!


What is the story with Ryan Mathews? I think it is pretty obvious that Norv just doesn't like this guy. Last year he continued to use Tolbert saying Mathews had a fumbling problem while Tolbert was just as bad holding onto the ball. And now he fumbles in his first game off a 7 week layoff and he goes to Jackie Battle. Mathews is the obvious better back but Norv is as clueless as ever. What do we do with Mathews going forward? Thanks

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:05 AM)

I think you have no choice but to be patient, because a kid with Mathews' skills <i>has</i> to win out given time, wouldn't you say? If I'm to make an educated guess here -- and that's all we can do -- explaining what's happening, it's that Norv might be taking a conservative approach with Mathews' recovery from injury. It's the only logical explanation that doesn't inspire panic, and panic isn't warranted. I mean, what are you going to get if you trade the guy? Not much. Valuation is high-end RB2 for now, and I still see that RB1 upside. C'mon, Jackie Battle is <i>not</I> Ryan Mathews' equal in the talent column, not when I'm projecting 12 more games.

Jason (Boston)

Thoughts on McFadden?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:06 AM)

"Poor fit for the offense" is a legitimate argument against Darren McFadden at this point. Adjust to back end of the RB1 class -- that bolstered by number of touches more than anything -- and brace for possible RB2 weekly value, especially being that the guy's injury prone.

Walter (Hartford)

Who should I put a waiver claim on this week? Kenny Britt or Brian Hartline?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:07 AM)

Britt. I choose not to be reactionary and while Hartline is coming off an extraordinary game and is the smarter option in the immediate future, pickups for me are usually for long-term speculation. And I like what Britt could do in a Matt Hasselbeck-led offense, and Hartline is obviously going to regress in the yardage category.

Matt (Miami)

I was offered M Turner for Matthews, your thoughts?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:08 AM)

I'll take Mathews and am confident I'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

kc (oakland)

Up by 1.5 and opponent is done, bench Murray tonight?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:09 AM)

I cannot stand the "blank lineup spot" strategy. At the same time, I play by my league's rule set. I just don't play in leagues where blank spots are allowed, that's how I deal with it.

Carl (Boston)

Will the Ranger's usual suspect rest tonight @ OAK?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:10 AM)

Let's call it "selective rest," because you shouldn't forget that the A's remain two games back of the Rangers in the AL West, so a series sweep for Oakland drops the Rangers into a wild-card spot and forces them to play the Friday play-in. I'm not saying that's a highly likely scenario, but I think the Rangers might choose to win tonight, <i>then</i> rest some guys.

Charlie (Syracuse, NY)

What should I do with Andre Brown?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:12 AM)

Handcuff material and it showed. I've been saying for over a week now that I see Brown being used much in the way that Brandon Jacobs was in his final seasons in New York. There's value in that in larger leagues, but look at Jacobs' stats and decide for yourself whether those are going to please you based upon your format.

Jokko (NYC)

You said buy low on Doug Martin. I'm ruined!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:16 AM)

I have to have a short memory for calls, but I don't have a recollection of specifically saying "buy low." I've said I liked Doug Martin, based upon what I saw of him in the preseason and first 1-2 weeks. Frankly, based upon that, I'm not sure how a "buy low" argument could've been formulated. He started hot.At any rate, let's talk Martin: Week 4 was disappointing. I'm dumbfounded that LeGarrette Blount is back in the picture in short-yardage situations -- I get that he has a goal-line runner's skill set -- and that D.J. Ware is stealing third-down work. I get that people are frustrated, so am I. But I have to project this stuff based upon skills, hoping skills win out, and I'm sorry, but Martin's are the best in that backfield.<i>Now</i> he is a buy low, if you wanted me to say it sometime.

Timmy (Houston)

Do you expect Forte to play tonight? If not, should I go with K. Bell or Felix?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:17 AM)

I do not, and I advised people not to wait all weekend.Kahlil Bell. I guess. Mainly because I don't think much of Felix Jones.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:17 AM)

I do not, and I advised people not to wait all weekend.Kahlil Bell. I guess. Mainly because I don't think much of Felix Jones.

kevin (spokane)

Who is brandon bolden and should ridley owners be scared?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:19 AM)

A 22-year-old undrafted kid from Ole Miss who has the toughness to handle some of the short-yardage work on a regular basis, but who in my opinion lacks the ability to be a weekly workhorse. I don't see why Ridley owners should be concerned; Ridley took 22 carries and had a good game, after all. And if there's a plus from the Bolden story: He rendered Shane Vereen, the player Ridley owners <i>should</i> have always been concerned about, irrelevant.

jack (atl)

cant believe i am asking this but gates, rudolph or bennet ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:20 AM)

I'm going to rank Antonio Gates highest if what you're asking is a year-to-end rankings set where you're afforded only one of those players. (Rudolph second, Bennett third.) But I think fantasy owners who roster Gates with Kyle Rudolph as the backup are in great shape. That's the smart play.

Patrick (NJ)

BASEBALL Any starting pitcher I should pick up for Weds? I've got a few innings left and don't want to leave any on the table.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:24 AM)

I'd be shocked if there aren't a minimum of 4-5 scheduled starter changes from Wednesday's listed names on our pages. The final day of the regular season is an "everything goes" day. But going by what we have listed there now:Travis Wood vs. HoustonA.J. Griffin vs. TexasGavin Floyd at Cleveland

mike (oregon)

what wrs are your top pickup options in ppr format?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:26 AM)

Haven't really sat down to make a list, but the obvious ones from Week 4 are Brian Hartline and Andre Roberts. For the record, I'm more of a believer in Roberts' ability to sustain his hot start than in Hartline's.Going deeper, I'd take a look at Jerome Simpson.

Mike (San Diego)

If you were a CJ Spiller owner, would you be encouraged, discouraged, or properly uncouraged by his usage this weekend?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:28 AM)

"Uncouraged"? Ha! I'll pick that.I think Spiller's active status was somewhat surprising, his number of touches predictable accounting for his recovery from injury and think there's a good chance he and Fred Jackson will be sharing the work going forward. At least in the games in which both are healthy.

Bob (Tampa)

What does AJ Green have to do for people to wake up and realize its him, Calvin, and then everybody else?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

I think we've been giving him a fair amount of respect. He has been in our top 10 wide receiver rankings every one of the four weeks all season, and I certainly had him in my top eight to begin the year.

Jeff (Miami)

Who do you think has more upside tonight - Alshon or Ogletree?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)



Why was a complete no show until a very late catch? You gotta answer this for me

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:32 AM)

There are whispers -- including an Associated Press report -- that Jones' hand was bothering him, and primarily responsible for his poor stat line. Frankly, it makes sense; the Falcons are deep enough in the passing game that they can afford to shy from any individual if they feel the guy needs a breather. And here's what I'll say to encourage you going forward: No better bounce-back matchup than the Redskins in Week 5.

Jake (Cleveland)

Who would you "handcuff" Hakeem Nicks with - Ramses Barden or Domenik Hixon?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

Hixon. A couple reasons: One is the target total from Week 4, which supported his higher rank on the depth chart than Barden. The other is that, watching the game, Hixon was the one who made the tougher plays, increasing the chances he'll keep Eli's eye. Neither is going to be much of a fantasy option on a week-to-week basis, but that's your guy if you need said handcuff.

Brian (lawrence ks)

Alfred Morris! How does shanny possibly mess with this?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:35 AM)

Dare you ask...I've seen Shanahan pull off some whoppers, but let's point out that if Morris has one of the biggest 2012 breakthroughs among running backs, the very fact that he was completely unexpected to do anything this season, in essence, <i>illustrates</i> Shanahan's unpredictability. So I say buy this, at least as far as you're willing to stomach from a Shanahan back.

Nick (Omaha)

TC...What are your thoughts on Maclin going forward? 1 catch for 7 yards! UGGGHHH!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:36 AM)

Immediate reaction from watching was that he's being downplayed as he returns from injury. Best I've got for you; can't make damning judgments when I'm accounting for that. Be patient.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:39 AM)

Among currently listed Tuesday starters, I like:Ivan Nova vs. Boston -- remember that he's pitching for a possible playoff rotation spot. Motivation.Miguel Gonzalez at Tampa BayJeremy Guthrie vs. DetroitJhoulys Chacin at ArizonaTempted, tempted, on Tyler Thornburg vs. San Diego. But for the record, temptation wasn't strong enough to make me bid on and start him in Tout Wars, which is a 13-team NL-only league. So take it for what it's worth.

Coop (C-Bus)

That's it? Josh Johnson is officially "shut down"?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:40 AM)

Yes, you got it.

Ted (NJ)

I'm in a 12-team 2QB league, with Sanchez on my bench to fill in as Week 7 &#x26; 8 Byes for my starters. At this point, is it worth switching him out for Hasselbeck?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:41 AM)

I would. Frankly, I think the Jets might be one step away from Tebow-mania. You know what they say, desperate times...

Mike (Finally WON BABY!!)

What do you make of Chris Johnson's 141 yard game vs a stout Houstons D, is it time to plug him back into the lineup?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:45 AM)

Well, I readily admit that I have not yet had time to run my numbers breaking down Johnson with Matt Hasselbeck vs. Jake Locker at quarterback, and I wonder whether there's something there. He -- and the Titans' offense -- seemed to jell more with Hasselbeck, at least in the parts that I saw. Still, Johnson did tally a good chunk of those yards after the game was already decided, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. He's back as a clear RB2, I'll give him that. Need more evidence to restore him to preseason draft stock.

Rob (Philly)

BASEBALL - when do you prefer to end your fantasy baseball seasons? Last day or a week before?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:45 AM)

I prefer a Rotisserie-based scoring format that uses every scheduled regular-season game and does <i>not</i> separate three-day weeks like this into their own scoring period.

Jared (Chicago)

Frustrated Greg Jennings owner, do you think his groin will be a problem all year and its time for us to just deal with it?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:47 AM)

I do think it could be a lingering problem -- though Stephania Bell is the better person to ask that -- but at the same time I haven't forgotten that Jennings is a free agent at year's end so he's going to press through it best that he can. That's a plus; neutralizes a little of the health risk. But Jennings has slipped into my WR2 class from the weekly-rankings angle, so plan accordingly.

Gary (Apple Valley,Ca)

tristan, would you pick-up Hasselbeck and drop Ponder for week 5 replacement?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:47 AM)

No. Can't let Ponder go now.

Batman (Michigan)

In 2 leagues, picked up Pitta in one and Bennett in the other. Thought I was solid at TE then got a couple goose eggs this week! Concerned or fluke, thoughts for ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

In defense of Pitta, he slipped and fell on a play in which he'd have been targeted in the end zone and likely scored on Thursday. Things like that -- toss the Demaryius Thomas fumble in there -- have an impact on the fantasy scoring that you wouldn't know without watching the games.From an overall, full-season standpoint, I think the Bennett and Pitta games simply show the random variance at the receiver positions (wide receiver, tight end). Greater weekly variance there, teams saw better opportunities elsewhere, but I still think they're heavily involved in their respective offenses and borderline -- if not clear -- top-10 options at tight end.

Ben (Toronto)

BASEBALL: If a tie-breaker is needed to select the final WC teams will the game(s) count towards our fantasy stats?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:52 AM)

In ESPN leagues, yes, those tiebreaker games would count, because they are considered part of the regular season schedule.That said, don't get your hopes up, I don't see any tiebreakers being especially likely.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:52 AM)

Well, except for the AL East race, I mean. That's the most likely tiebreaker scenario because the Yankees and Orioles begin Monday tied.

Alex (Cleveland)

Where would you rank Scott Chandler ROS? (particularly in comparison to guys like Celek, Kyle Rudolph, Pitta)

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:53 AM)

I'd rank them Rudolph, Celek, Pitta, Chandler, but they're all close. Touchdown seekers -- if your league awards the most for those -- probably want Rudolph and Chandler, for the record.

Dan (NY)

With Cedric Benson getting all the carries for GB, is he a safe weekly starter?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

"Safe"? Not sure that's the word for it. He's a matchups-caliber talent in my opinion. But based upon usage, I see him ranging generally in the flex-play class. Somewhere between 20-25 on a weekly basis, perhaps a little higher or lower as the extreme matchups call.

Showtime (Chicago)

What's your take on dropping "startable" players for bye-week replacements? I have Harvin, Lloyd, Fitzgerald, Nicks, Britt and Garcon at WR....need to drop 1 for a QB in a few weeks (Matt Ryan)....

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

Look for the 2-for-1 trade where you pair two solid players for one <i>slightly</i> better one.I have a hunch otherwise you're shedding Britt or Garcon when the time comes. So think about this: If dealing, say, Lloyd and Garcon brings you a Demaryius Thomas or Mike Wallace, make the deal. After all, the alternative is that you lose Garcon for nothing and didn't upgrade Lloyd at all. Make sense?

Patrick (Raleigh)

Any concern over harvin? didn't look great after the return

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

Not really. Still heavily involved and the Lions keyed on him. I think Jerome Simpson's return is going to help change opponents' defensive strategies, which will be a boon for Harvin. Consider this week the kind to make his buy-low case.

Daniel (NY)

BASEBALL - Why should real-life tie breaker / play-in games count for Fantasy? That seems unfair, you can't prepare for that, you wouldn't draft a player that's more likely to be in a tie at the end of the season.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:00 PM)

Wild-card play-in games don't count, tiebreakers to determine playoff spots do. And I understand your point, but MLB counts those games as "regular season," and fantasy is mapped to the regular-season schedule.

Jeff (DC)

Is the Jets D/ST done with Revis island gone? Not much left on waivers in my league. Any under the radar D/ST the rest of the way?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:02 PM)

I'm not a "told you so" kind of guy, but I've been cautioning the inadequacies of the Jets' defense all year and without Darrelle Revis they're now without by far their most valuable defensive individual. I think they're merely exposed now; not completely without value but in the midst of an adjustment period where they're matchups considerations, nothing more. And I stream defenses, as some of my colleagues do. Anything's fair game. Cardinals available? Patriots? Cowboys?

Mike (Detroit)

which side of trade you like more.. Turner, Rob gronk, garcon for Fred jackson, M.Bush, F.Davis, and M.Wallace..

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:03 PM)

Former side, mostly because the best player in the deal (Gronkowski) is there.

RJ (Pittsburgh)

Do you think Latos starts tuesday, or will be skipped to prepare for the playoffs?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:05 PM)

I think he will, but he'll probably be on a limited pitch/innings count in order to get some "rest" before the playoffs. He's currently slotted as the Reds' No. 3 starter for the Division Series, so a Tuesday start wouldn't cause him to be on improper rest. He'd be ready for Sunday, meaning Game 2 if the Reds really want.

Lee (Dallas)

Would you trade Peyton Manning for RGIII or Newton?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:07 PM)

Yes. I still have Cam Newton ranked slightly higher than RGIII; schedule has a little bit to do with it.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

Please Ryan Williams and Eric Decker for Fitz? .5 PPR

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:07 PM)


Phillip (CA)

Any Defenses worth holding onto during their bye - SF, Houston, else?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:08 PM)

I might also put the Bears and Seahawks in that class, but that's about it. And to be clear: I'm willing to take chances when it comes to defenses, so my list will be shorter than most.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:09 PM)

OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and best of luck to those of you in championship quests in fantasy baseball this week! Good luck...