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October 29, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy Sports with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:01 AM)

Good morning everyone! I hope all my readers in the northeast are staying safe and taking every precaution with the impending storm, but in the meantime, let's chat a little fantasy football (power permitting, of course). Who's got a question?

Charles (NY)

How possible is it that Vick loses his starting Job? With a relatively easy schedule coming up, I don't see Vick getting benched for a rookie

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

Well, I do, if Michael Vick doesn't step up, and I'm talking about imminently. He's got the Saints up next, and yes, that's a tremendous matchup. But the Cowboys follow, and that game couldn't be more important. Let's put it this way: I bet Vick starts next week, his matchup says I'd still have him in the 10 range or so at his position, but after that anything goes. Do or die, really, right here.

WTF Chiefs (Dover, NH)

I was traveling and did not see the Chiefs vs. Raiders highlights...how is it possible that Jamaal Charles had 5 carries!!! What happened there and do you see a bounce-back game this Thursday for him?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:08 AM)

Perhaps the question of the day -- in my opinion at least it is. And I say that because <i>I'm</i> puzzled, plus reading Romeo Crennel's postgame comments, I get the impression that <i>he</i> is, too (he lets his O-coordinator call those plays). I've got no explanation for you about Charles. Call it an anomaly. Any talk that Peyton Hillis "had a rhythm" is silly; he didn't look overwhelming to me and is fresh off injury.Just a side thought I'll throw out: Preservation of Charles for the short week? If you own him, that'd be your hope.I'll also throw this out: Could again be a bye-week window opening. I still cannot see how the Chiefs' second-half run doesn't have the offense funneling mostly through Charles.

Patrick (Raleigh NC)

Thoughts on Dexter McCluster? Any chance he becomes a WR2? Worth a roster spot?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:10 AM)

Certainly there's a chance, but my firm belief is that it'd be tied to a potential Dwayne Bowe trade ... and that's not in regard to McCluster taking over as a starter rather than his opportunity might expand and he'd work his way up to this level.All of this is a multi-week process, however. Don't get your hopes up. My opinion is that Bowe sticks around -- cost is too high and I doubt anyone pays it -- and McCluster never gets higher than WR4 status in any week.

Nick (Chicago)

How do you think Ridley ranks next year? Top 10? Hurting at QB and had an offer that included him but hesitant to give him up.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:11 AM)

Maybe 15th. I think he's a solid RB2, but I don't see the kind of skills that would elevate him to clear RB1 status. And that's regarding his long-term; I think he's a strong, physical bet to fill the touchdown column most years, but I'm not as sold that he'll get the volume of carries to rank among the yardage leaders.

Troy (NH)

What do you think the Pitt backfield will look like with Dwyer coming off his second 100-yd. game?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:13 AM)

Well, remember that Rashard Mendenhall is up for free agency this offseason, so the Steelers need to think about the future here. Mendenhall's ongoing recovery from knee surgery, coupled with his recent injuries, might limit him to mere short-yardage/goal-line work going forward. I've offered as much caution as I could all year about the guy; said RB2/flex was your maximum expectation. I'd say Dwyer gets maybe the 12-15 carry weekly load that fills the yardage column, but Mendenhall eventually thieves TDs.

WINELAND (ALASKA)

What is the deal with MEGADROP? Madden curse? Any hopes for a decent ROS?Thanks!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:14 AM)

Partly increased defensive attention, partly Matthew Stafford's issues, partly Calvin Johnson's own injuries (knee was troubling him this week). I've been firm on this: When it comes to wide receiver, unless there's some sort of specific, offense-based reason to think otherwise, I invest in skills. They usually win out, and I think they will with Calvin Johnson. Understand, however, that I have adjusted my expectations of the guy to mid-to-back end WR1, not the clear No. 1 guy at his position that everyone had him at in the preseason.

Nick (Chicago)

Follow-up on the Ridley question, move him now for Matt Ryan if you have Vick at QB?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:15 AM)

Yes.

Jim (El Paso, TX)

Given that Stewart seems to be the man in Carolina now, would you drop Sproles, FJax or Rashad Jennings to pick him up? Thanks for your advice, Tristan.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:16 AM)

I can't let Darren Sproles and I can't let Rashad Jennings go, at least for now, because they both have a good share of the touches in their respective backfields. Fred Jackson is up for discussion. I see his ceiling a little higher long-range than Jonathan Stewart's -- I'm honestly not that much of a Stewart fan -- but Stewart surely has a greater opportunity, which matters if this is your backfield. Make that swap.

Ryan (Columbus)

What are you predicting out of Larry Fitz tonight? I need a solid game out of him.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:19 AM)

I won't do a projection; we provide those for you and there's not much purpose in nitpicking the Monday game hours beforehand, with the exception of injury questions that could shift lineup strategy.That said, the return of John Skelton last week didn't pay dividends for Fitzgerald despite what should've been an at least respectable matchup, and this one against the Niners is miserable. I'm not optimistic. Think WR2 if you're lucky, and that'd be mostly out of volume, Skelton keeps feeding him the ball even if he's fairly covered.

Jay (Foxboro)

Denver DEF legit? Schedule ROS is nice. I've been streaming all season.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:19 AM)

As a matchups candidate and one of the better ones, yes, I'd say so. If I did a specific ranking set, they'd be in that just-out-of-the-top-10 group.

Judd (Madison )

What do you make of Romo and Dez, they are horribly good players?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:20 AM)

I love that phrase: "Horribly good." Well said, Judd, well said.In defense of these two in fantasy: No matter the Cowboys' results, the statistics are still there, at least to the extent that they're both worthy starters once you scroll past the elite classes. Think back-end-top-10 QB for Romo, Dez belongs high in the WR2 class. Though Dez is much, much, <i>much</i> more risk/reward.

Ryan (Maine)

Would you trade Percy and reggie bush for Megatron and bradshaw?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:21 AM)

No, but I also see a negligible difference in value between the wideouts.

Jeff (Detroit)

Tristan, What is the price on Bowe? Can you imagine him opposite Megatron? Yikes!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:22 AM)

I think I heard something in the range of a third-round pick at minimum. Frankly, I'd be a little surprised if the Chiefs weren't pushing for more, though I doubt they'd get more.

Adam (Cincinnati)

up 3 points headed into tonight. I have Arizona defense, he has nobody left. Do I bench them to preserve a win?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:23 AM)

I don't play that way. You know your league's rules, it's your call. But I think it's lame to win that way, with a literally open lineup spot. My leagues all have rules that require an active, scheduled player at every position.

Andrew (Eye of Sandy)

Braving the storm and taking advantage of the power before I lose it by being on here. Starting RBs should be back in Pitt next week. So would you rather have Dwyer or Vick Ballard the rest of the season?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:24 AM)

Andrew, please be careful out there, and I hope you've already prepared well for the storm.I'd prefer Dwyer. For one thing, higher ceiling of the two. For another, greater opportunity. Donald Brown is no less of a back than Vick Ballard, and the Colts have offered every hint that they want to restore Brown to the starting job. I'm not quite so sure that's true in Pittsburgh.

Patrick (Raleigh NC)

"negligible difference in value between the wideouts" is that a good thing for Harvin or a bad thing? Megatron looks rough

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:26 AM)

Value isn't year-to-date earnings; extremely common mistake that fantasy owners make.I guess the way you're wording the question, it's a bad thing for Harvin. But the truth is, my answer was meant to tell you, "Um, why Megatron over Harvin? Not like that's a lock <i>from today forward</i> (which is all that matters)."

Paul (Denver)

I lost because of I benched Stafford. Is he a must start from here on out?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:28 AM)

I'm sorry Paul, it was a bad call of mine. Evidence pointed to you making the correct decision, and while you can react as you wish to predictions, it was still correct (though only so long as you took someone I or we had ranked higher). I'd make that call again, so should you, and you should <i>not</I> overreact and make poorer future decisions as a result of it.As for going forward? Yes, probably. Lower-end QB1 though. It's the schedule in the next month or so that I like; until the Houston game there's not a lot scary there.

Eric (TO)

what was the deal with LLoyd. 2 catches? both td's yes but that seems low no?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

Sure it was low. It was actually the second-lowest fantasy point total of 2012 in a game where the player scored two or more TDs (Jamie Harper had 12 the week before).However, as noted before the kickoff, the Rams tend not to surrender much via the air, and teams attack them via the ground (or on shorter passing routes) accordingly. I call the targets/catches mostly matchups-driven, though Lloyd's so-so production in the weeks leading up to it are a mild worry.

Ross (Des Moines)

Do you see the fact that McFadden went over 100 yards against the Chiefs as a good sign of things to come or is it more worrisome that he needed so many carries to get there against a bad run defense?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:31 AM)

More worrisome than a plus, but I saw a little of that game, the stats afterward and my reaction was largely "ho hum." Meaning in the general range of a high-end RB2/possible top-10 guy's expectations.

World Champ (The Bay)

How much do you value having a 3rd RB available in case something goes wrong? I have McGahee as my third, is it worth trading for a lesser back to upgrade over Lloyd as my #3 WR?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:33 AM)

I think if there's any position at which to have a backup, it's running back. Take that for what it's worst; my currently winningest fantasy football (6-1 entering the week) has used a combination of Ben Tate, Brandon Bolden and other mish-mosh to fill the No. <i>2</i> RB slot. It's all in how you strategize the entire roster.I'd probably stand pat with McGehee, if I were you. I said in the preseason that I saw him being underrated as an RB2, and I think the Broncos' returns to date are showing that's true.

Alex (Westchester)

General strategy question. How important is depth in deeper leagues?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

As odd as this sounds, I think it's <i>less</i> important, as the stars generally win the league the deeper you go. But I'm speaking from personal experience, and I'm also not afraid to take 50 lottery tickets in the course of a season, funnel up players to better stars in trades in-season, and make it work.

David (NC)

Any chance T. Romo may get benched?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

I'd be beyond floored if he was. At least in the foreseeable future.

Zack B (Eye of the storm)

I enjoyed Chris Johnson's success over the past two weeks, but i think im looking to trade him no, is that a good idea or should i hold onto him for his nice playoffs match ups? (currently 6-2 in my league)

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:37 AM)

Chris Johnson has shaped up, in my opinion, as a predictable matchups running back, and he gets the Bears, Dolphins and then a bye the next three weeks. There's no clearer time to sell high on him than today.That said, you're right about the playoff weeks, so make sure you get a good haul. Alternative angle: Could dump him now, aim to reacquire as close to the trade deadline in your league as possible, preferably after this miserable chunk of the schedule passes.

Go Giants (Tulare CA )

Ok my question to you is if you are a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com why are people asking you football questions.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:38 AM)

It's football season, and I analyze fantasy football as well. It's whatever you want to discuss, but I'm more than happy to discuss baseball if you've got a question.

Infuriated Owner (Anywhere)

This week in COLLUSION CORNER! So an 0-7 owner is all but eliminated from the playoffs, proposes a trade to a 2-5 team that gets accepted. The 0-7 team gives Sproles, Welker and FJax. The 2-5 team gives Cutler and L Moore. No league vote, but my team is near the top of the standings.... Do you have any problems with me leaving this league if the commish allows this?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:40 AM)

It's not an outrageously slanted deal, the kind that's going to completely upend your league and dramatically impact the final result. From that angle, I understand your frustration -- it's a weak deal for the 0-7 team -- but be the better man, play things out, quietly decline to return for 2013 if it upsets you. You want to be in a league in which you're comfortable, but it's never good to go rattling cages. Doesn't get you anywhere, doesn't make you friends.

Cody (Chicago)

General Question. First time this has happened to me but I'm the highest scoring team and have the most points against and I'm barely sitting at 4-4. If you don't make the playoffs but have a great scoring season how do you console yourself?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:41 AM)

You shrug your shoulders, say, "Oh well," and look forward to 2013 knowing you were an astounding team that simply didn't have a lot of luck. These are the examples that support my case for head-to-head scoring having noticeable weaknesses -- granted in football it's difficult to find a better way -- so just chalk it up as that.

Yoshi (NY)

Is Jordy good to go for his matchup vs Arizona?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:43 AM)

Too early to know for sure, and I'm certain he'll be on the injury report in one form or another, but I'll say that I distinctly felt that the Packers and Jordy Nelson himself decided to err on the side of caution in Week 8. They might have even decided that Week 9 was the more critical game and the one they needed him for.

Steve (NC)

Should I drop Greg Zuerlein this week or hold onto him cause I feel he is a top option at kicker otherwise?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:43 AM)

I would never roster a kicker through his bye week. I don't care who he is, even Gary Anderson.

Jay (Flex)

I have have the #1 WW. Would you use it for T. Young? I need a flex. I've been rotating D. Brown, LeShoure and T. Smith

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:45 AM)

Yes, absolutely. Nate Burleson's season-ending injury creates a tremendous opportunity for Titus Young, a favorite sleeper of mine (as well as Christopher Harris') this preseason. Actually, if you check our Draft Kit, look at Harris' flag players; he does an excellent job of outlining Young's abilities. Personally, I see Young being a pretty decent bet for 5-7 catches a game. He's got the ability for it.

Charles (Wisconsin)

What's with GB not getting credit for the punt block for a td?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:45 AM)

Live scoring is unofficial. I quickly looked at that this morning and thought, "Hmmm, that might change, based upon what I've seen earlier this year," but we'll see when the scores go final.

Alex (Westchester)

Thoughts on Eli? Rough patch or is he no longer a week in, week out QB1?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

His throws were less crisp this week than in the past few, but in his defense, he has a bye coming up soon, and I wonder whether that might provide an opportunity to refresh. Eli could be a buy-low; that said he's probably my No. 6 QB right now.

Mark (NYC)

COMMISH QUESTION! A team with 2 QBs traded RG3 for Sproles last week. It got vetoed by vote of the league. Massive whining has ensued and 2 trades have since been vetoed out of spite, despite the fact that I think the veto was legit, I mean come on. Massive whining has gotten louder since Sproles had SUCH a great game and RG3 was the victim of 10 drops. How would you reign this situation in?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

That's the price you pay for having a veto system. Sorry I don't have better advice for you; I dish the truth and that's the truth. In a veto system, people are going to veto for whatever reasons they wish. I would <i>only</i> do so, personally, if I felt there was out-and-out cheating involved. I don't use it to "balance fairness." Let people manage their teams.A thought for you: If you drafted Aaron Rodgers in the 1st-2nd and then got RGIII in the 9th-10th, is it really fair of you to handcuff that owner simply because he/she has two outstanding quarterbacks? I've been in countless situations before where prospective trade partners hold me hostage, offering well beneath value because they know I'm stuck and can't utilize my roster's true value. And sometimes, you <i>have</I> to suck it up and make a trade like that, because you couldn't get anything better.

YdoC (ocacihC)

I have the opposite problem of Cody; I've had the lowest points scored against me, and I've basically faced every team during their weakest week. I'm currently in first place, but that's about to change, unless Larry Fitzgerald and Frank Gore manage to combine for fewer than 7 points tonight. So to Cody, I say that you've had rotten luck, but if/when my luck runs out, I'll probably feel worse, knowing I didn't even have that great a team to begin with.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:51 AM)

And here the coin comes up tails.

Kevin Oldman (North Carolina)

Morning..I traded P.Manning, Alfred Moore and Welker for A.Rodgers, Nelson, Donald Brown.. This is a two QB league, my other QB is Tom Brady. plus I have Rob gronk, Jimmy G, Nicks, D.Thomas and Mcgahee.. Did I do a good deal.. Please Answer..

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:52 AM)

I'd rather have the former, but that's a fair enough deal. The only real difference in value breaking it down by position is Morris > Brown (I assume that's Alfred Morris you meant).

Zach (Seattle)

What kind of trade value do top defenses like the Bears have when trying to get a RB or WR?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:54 AM)

Maybe a low-end RB2/likelier high-end flex; someone who's going to be in your lineup more often than not yet isn't a bona fide lock. Or at WR, I'd say a low-end WR2. Someone who's not a week-in, week-out, but certainly might be in there most of the time, or has the skills to perhaps elevate to that every-week.Keep in mind this is <i>only</i> addressing the 2012 example of the Bears, who have been a truly special D/ST. It's a rare exception to my rule that I don't put defenses anywhere near startable RB/WRs in most instances.

Bob [via mobile]

I have p manning and frankly there is not another QB I would trade him for. Look at that schedule!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:56 AM)

Believe me I understand, Bob, but Aaron Rodgers is one of the few whom I would. It's a selective list. Really only the top 2-3.The risk with Peyton Manning: Age/injury risk. And it's not significant, it's just, he'd be more of a worry than, say, Rodgers.

Jordan (Boulder)

The Bears D has more touchdowns than all but 2 running backs and would rank 4th in TDs if it was a WR.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:56 AM)

Never, ever, <i>ever</i> make rash decisions about D/ST based strictly upon touchdowns. It's the most volatile category and is a poor indicator of future success. I remind the Cardinals example of a few years back; didn't they have something like 8 D/ST TDs?

Jeff (KC)

Tristan, any thoughts on the speculation of a S. Jax trade? D. Rich worth a pick-up?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

Yes, I consider that a good speculative pickup. There's Steven Jackson chatter, though again, so rarely do players of this caliber actually get traded in-season. And here's the other problem: If your league runs waivers Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, well, that's <i>after</i> the trade deadline. You're not going to sneak that one past if you're in that kind of league.

Eric (Tx)

Someone dropped Demarco Murray in my 10 team standard league. I have the 2nd waiver priority (does not reset every week). I have good rb depth. Is he worth the roster stash?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

Ab-so-lute-ly.

Deangelo Williams (Carolina)

Am I going anywhere?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

All of this is guesswork, but I'll tell you, I actually would not be surprised to see DeAngelo Williams be the only "big" name traded. The Panthers have made their decision and I could see them selling him cheap just to move on.

Jake (Rockford)

Hey Tristan, Got a bit of a different question. Im in a pickem league and down by 1 point this week. If i change my pick to Arizona i have a shot of creating a tie and winning the tie breaker. What do you think the chance of Arizona beating a tough SF team. Or should i just play for the final standings.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:02 PM)

Pick 'em is fair game to use strategy like that, if you feel it increases your chances of a weekly win. I <i>always</i> play for the weekly win.I've got Arizona +6.5, from the angle that it's lower-scoring and they keep it close.

Chance (OKC)

How come I got penalized for Dez fumbling on a punt return? If he would have scored a touchdown I wouldn't have got credit for the td.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:03 PM)

Check your league's rules, stuff like this should be outlined. You would absolutely have gotten credit for a return TD in an ESPN standard league.

Jordan (Boulder)

The Bears D also has more fantasy points (standard scoring) than any WR and are second behind Arian Foster for running backs. Just pointing out how ridiculous the D has been so far.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:05 PM)

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement: "How ridiculous the D has been so far." It's one of the best D/ST stories I've seen in years. That's for sure. Please don't misinterpret my comments earlier for anything otherwise! It's the mere divide between appreciating the past and projecting the future.

Jake (Cleveland)

Has Hakeem Nicks played himself into WR3 territory until proven otherwise?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:05 PM)

Yes, or pretty close to it.

Chris (Boston)

Freeman has been lights out in the last 3 weeks. Is he top 10 the rest of the yr?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:06 PM)

Can be, sure. I'd have him just outside, most likely, but Freeman sure looks like the 2010 version that I admired so much in fantasy. I was a <i>huge</i> fan of his, and am happy to quickly come rushing back.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:07 PM)

OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Best of luck to anyone in Week 8 matchups still playing out Monday night, and please, if you're in the northeast, take every precaution and stay safe through the stormy weather.