Hiya gang. Thanks for coming. Even if your fantasy season is turning out unsuccessful, you'll find stuff to like in the Fantasy Underground podcast. This week, for instance, we give our 5 under-the-radar 2012 rookies we like for 2013. Plus it's just good clean football talk, and we'll be discussing the NFL playoffs in coming weeks, too. Check out this week's episode: http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=8687631 . Let's get to your questions.
Who you like for flex in STD league: Sproles or Vincent Jackson? Thanks!
Hi, Drew. I wish I could pick Sproles, because you're going to see a lot of Champ Bailey on Jackson. That's why Jackson is outside my top 10 WRs this week. But I'm not ready to say Sproles is back where he was, and Jackson has been so red-hot. It would be tough for me to sit him.
So, I looked at your rankings, and one thing really stood out. Why do you hate Mikel LeShoure so much, ranking him a whole 10 spots below the next lowest rank? He's going against a Colts defense that made SHONN GREENE look like Adrian Peterson. What's goin on there?
Hi, Aaron. Well, first off, I think it's safe to say that that Shonn Greene effort is an outlier; the Colts have actually been pretty good against the run lately, including last week vs. BUF. So there's that. Also: 12 carries, 32 yards last week against Houston (saving his fantasy day with a TD). But most of all, I'm worried about his ankle. He missed OT against the Texans because of the injury, and is likely to be questionable heading into Sunday. Given how much the Lions throw, and how well Joique Bell has played given the chance, I'm not sold we're looking at a full workload for Leshoure even if he plays. Of course, I could be totally wrong......
Hey Chris! Long time reader and first time asking a question...I am really torn between Reece and Sproles and obviously I can't wait until this weekend to see if McFadden and Goodson are back...I am already rolling out Charles and Bradshaw...who has the higher upside for this week??
Hi, Justin. Yeah, this is a weird one. I ranked Reece higher than Sproles simply because McFadden has burned us all so many times with his "I'm coming back; no I'm not" act over the past couple years. But you're right, of course...if he plays, he really hurts Reece's value, and we're just not going to know that until Sunday. So if Sproles really is your only other option, I'm completely fine with playing him tonight.
Someone dropped MJD and Fitzgerald, would you grab them for possible playoffs? I have Martin, Bradshaw, Forte and M.Bush; Julio, Cobb, Harvin, L.Moore, Maclin and DAX
Hi, Wayne. That's a pretty darned good team you have, and I have a hard time imagining that you're going to feel comfortable in the playoffs starting MJD or Fitz given the current lay of the land. Fitz's December schedule looks awful to me, and with the QB situation the way it is, it would be tough, really tough, to have to use him. Jones-Drew's earliest return time is Week 14, and you wouldn't be able to trust him right away, either. But if I had to pick one of those guys to add, it would be MJD. Maybe dropping Maclin? Honestly, if you don't have other bench guys, you might just be OK the way you are.
If Forte is limited and D-Will starts, any reason to start D-Will or am I crazy?
Hi, Mike. Hm. No, it's not a crazy question. If it's me, though, I think if Forte is active, I'm still going to start him. We all know Williams used to be a great player, and maybe he'll be great again, because he's not over the hill. But there don't seem to be any RB TDs available in Carolina, plus D-Willy just hasn't played well. If CHI judges Forte healthy enough to play, he's probably a better bet that Williams.
If McCoy is out is Bryce Brown a top 10 start this week?
Hi, Suzie. No, I don't quite have Brown in my top 10. As always, for all single-position, standard-league questions like this, check out our ranks page for my opinion: http://espn.go.com/fantasy/football/story/_/page/12ranksWeek13RB/fantasy-football-week-13-running-back-rankings
Whats the deal with superstar Steve Smith having one TD? Dump him for someone with less yards and more td's?
Hi, Matthew. Yeah, I mean, what a mess. Obviously if you get to watch Panthers games, you know that Smith sees a lot of safety help, which has led to ridiculous wide-open TDs on blown coverages to guys like LaFell and Olsen...but that's cold comfort. I probably wouldn't dump Smith, but we're past the point where he can regress to the mean. This is going to be a bad TD season for him...tough to see that turning around now.
Who do you like most for a PPR flex this week - Quizz, Malcom Floyd, or Maclin?
Hi, Zach. Bleh. I guess out of this trio, maybe Maclin, with the logic that Jackson is out. But it's Nick Bleepin' Foles. Bleh.
Would you start both Shorts and Blackmon if your only other WRs are Antonio Brown, Emanuel Sanders and T.Y. Hilton ? Gotta start 2 of those 5
No, I don't think I'd put all my eggs in the JAC passing game basket on the road. Hilton is mega-feast-or-famine, obviously, but I have him ranked close enough to Blackmon that I'd take that chance, I believe.
Hey Chris, thanks for all the work you do on the underground every week! Any suggestions for a fiction book to read (finished Slotback last week)? Oh and in a PPR, would you start L Moore, Myers, Rudolph, Maclin, or Amendola?
Hi, Owen. Thanks for the kind words...I hope you liked the book. I'm re-reading a ton of Haruki Murakami right now...it's not sports-related stuff, but "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles" is really wonderful. I love it. As for your question -- I wish I could start Amendola in a PPR, I really do. But he played like 7 snaps last week. If you could psych yourself up to believe that he's in for a full workload, I think he's your guy. If not, I think I'd go Lance Moore.
Lots of wishy-washy info. out there on Greg Jennings. Some say snap count; some say he's 100%; some say he'll explode. Can you provide any clarity?
Hi, JJ. Well, I think the reason the info has been variable is that the Packers aren't going to tip their hand before the game, so people are just trying to read the tea leaves. I think the plan is probably to ease him in...but if he's productive early and feels great, I wouldn't be shocked to see him play more snaps than the plan called for. Me, I'm probably waiting a week on him, unless I'm in desperation mode. I have a feeling about James Jones this week...think he finds the end zone.
Try to catch you every Sunday morning on the local radio station. Flex question. Do I start Bradshaw with the full carry load or one of Cobb/Nelson hoping Aaron can stay upright?
Hi, John. Well, I'm not on in Houston on Sunday mornings, I don't believe, but you can listen to me online either at 8 a.m. ET on ESPN Radio in NYC (online) or at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN Radio in Chicago (also online). I think I'd play Bradshaw.
HELP!!! It's win or go home for me this week. My opponent has Drew Brees. I have Jimmy Graham. In my 3rd WR slot, should I start Lance Moore to further negate his Brees... or stick with the higher ranked Stevie Johnson or Denarius Moore?
Hi, Logan. Wish there was a clear answer, but of course, these 3 guys are all very close together. I literally have them within 4 spots of one another, which let's face it is a negligible distinction. If your preferred strategy is to try and blunt an opponent's QB by starting his WRs, I have no problem using Moore, because as I say, those guys are all ranked pretty much the same in my mind.
Leshoure, Beanie, or Torrey Smith for flex in standard? A win can either put me in first place or potentially 6th and out of the playoffs. No pressure.
Hi, Dan. Ha. It's okay, I don't feel pressure about other people's teams. *My* teams, however? Eesh. I need a win in La Liga Lebowski this week (super dynasty league, keep most of your roster from year to year, have contract lengths and extensions and holdouts and franchise/transition tags, et al....). Anyway, I can see an argument for Smith, despite the bad matchup vs. PIT. He's a big play waiting to happen. As I mentioned earlier, I'm concerned about Leshoure's ankle.
Chris, please help with a tough one. 1/2 ppr, start Dwyer given he's the "starter" or plug in Quiz Rodgers for tonight's game? Problem I see is if Batch is back in I'd rather start myself than a Steelers RB. Is Ben back? HELP! Thanks
Hi, Loren. The truth is: Nobody has any real idea whether Big Ben is coming back this week. My guess is that he's such a diva, and loves the attention so much, that he plays. But I'm also willing to be dissuaded of that notion if he can't practice at all. There could be relevant news out of Steelers camp today. If there isn't, and we're still totally in the dark, I don't mind using Rodgers, because I, like you, would be worried about Dwyer giving me a bagel if Batch starts. (That said, he also could be a boom-or-bust kind of guy...so hard to say!)
My RB situation has been terrible all year. Love your podcast- its helped me stay in the top 3 in my league at 7-5 even with Leshoure, McGahee, Murray, and similar being my main RBs for the season. Anyway- this week I'm trying to figure out who to start in my 0.5 ppr 10tm league. how do you rank these guys given the 0.5 ppr and assuming that Murray plays:Murray, LEshoure, Moreno, Wells, Dwyer?
Hi, Tim. Thanks for the kind words. If Murray plays, I'd have a hard time not using him. I'm not sold that he *will* play, but if Dallas views him as startable, you probably should, too. If he doesn't, I would say Moreno is probably the best bet here.
You, and most analysts, ranked Mathews higher than Wells this weekend. I'm in a PPR and like the looks of the NYJ match up. Please help us understand why Wells is ranked so low.
Hi, Tom. Well, I can speak for myself -- that Arizona offense is pukey. I'm scared of the QB, and scared of the o-line. If you could guarantee me a couple red-zone possessions where Beanie could get goal-line carries, I'd be in. But I don't feel you can guarantee me those. The Jets D wasn't great against the Pats RBs last week (though the numbers are skewed by Shane Vereen's one big play), but outside of that they've actually been quite good against the run. That said, Ryan Mathews has been *no* great shakes, and doesn't seem to be able to find the end zone himself. It's your team, and if your gut is screaming for the Beanie Panini, do it!!!
Gut call... Do I start Sunday and would you start me over Wallace, Moreno, wells??(.5ppr)
My gut is that Harvin doesn't play. But I'm willing to be proven wrong. If he's active, yes, I'm starting him over all those guys.
I have an All-Star Team on my bench, with Gronk, MJD and Harvin headlining the group. What are the odds they provide me some playoff help (currently in 1st)?
Hi, Patrick. I think Harvin is back soonest of that crew. My guess would be that Gronk will help you, though that's pure speculation because the Pats aren't going to tell us anything until he steps on the field ready to play. And MJD? Well, really, I don't think JAC is being cagey. I just don't think they know. It's still going to at least be a couple more weeks, and at some point you have to wonder if his conditioning isn't good enough to play the final game or two.....
Hi Chris. I have a dilemma. I have Brandon Marshall in a tough matchup. Should I play Decker over him, which would allow me to play Aaron Hernandez in my flex spot. Right now I have Marshall in WR spot with Decker in my flex. Thank you.
Personally, with Decker's matchup against TB? I might just sit Hernandez. Sacrilege, I know, but is his ankle right? I don't know. Nobody does, because the Pats don't talk about injuries.
I need to win and have two teams lose to make the playoffs, and one of the teams that I need to lose is playing a guy that has been eliminated from the playoffs and no longer sets his rsoter. Is it fair for the commish to replace the injured players in this guy's lineup with guys from his bench? This guy shouldn't be asked back in the league, right?
Hi, Alex. Yes, he shouldn't be asked back, and no, I think that's awful for the commish to do that, unless it's standard practice for all teams throughout the entire season. The commish should leave the team alone.
If I write you a long message with a bunch of names in it will my question finally get answered?
No, I'll answer this one. Yes.
In first place against all these guys and need help staying that way!! Need 3: Harvin, DMC, Murray, Reece, J Rodgers, M Bush, Leshoure, BJGE, Bradshaw (PPR, Return Yardage League). Worried about starting the recently injured over healthier options!
Hi, Sarah. I think in the case of Harvin, DMC and Murray, if their respective NFL teams start them, the right strategy is probably to start them, too. And if DMC doesn't start, then Reece is an easy play. Same with Forte not playing, making Bush an option. And because the rest of the guys you're mentioning aren't really pass-catching backs, my standard ranks (which I just linked to on ESPN.com) apply, so consult those.
Assuming no fumbles (Lol) what situations will Mendenhall and Redman be used over Dwyer this week?
If you believe Mike Tomlin, Dwyer is going to get a chance to take the starting job, and he's trying to ditch his committee. And Tomlin is often an honest guy, but I wonder what incentive a coach has to tell the media exactly what his plans are. I would rather not use Mendy or Redman regardless, but I'm a little gun shy about Dwyer, too, even if Big Ben plays.
Kafka On The Shore and Norwegian Wood are also great reads. Ethics question: Commish changed the # of playoff teams from 8 to 6 yesterday. I happen to be in 8th. Please let me know what you think of this- I think it's laaaaaame.
Just read Kafka for the first time, reading Wild Sheep Chase right now, and Norwegian Wood is next on the list. (I'm writing a nonfiction piece partly about Murakami and loneliness at the moment...) Yes, that is *utterly* bogus. If the commissioner doesn't change this back, you should quit this league.
It's almost lunch time and a beanie panini is sounding mighty good, where might I be able to find one of those?
Usually the trainer's table.
Where do you see C.J. Spiller being drafted next year?
Hi, Jake. It comes down to whether Fred Jackson is back. He's under contract for next year, but he'll be 32, has been a bit injury prone, and has seen his effectiveness go downhill this year. If Jackson leaves, Spiller is a first-round draft pick. If Jackson doesn't leave....it's probably more like a risky 2nd or 3rd.
Have you ever had a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich? They are really good. Do I play Jacquizz Rodgers over Malcolm Floyd?
Hi, Thaddeus. Thanks for being a good sport. Not a big Fluffernutter guy. (Not a big Fluff guy, actually. Kind of gives me the willies.) If it's a standard league, I think I probably stick with Floyd. PPR, I might go Rodgers. Close, though, either way.
Do you think Steven Jackson's recent heavy workload continues? Averaging 22 carries the last 3 weeks.
Hi, Ben. Yeah, it's interesting, after really working in Richardson earlier in the season, they've gone to much bigger workloads for Jackson, and he's played very well. Tough to know if it's the chicken or the egg...are the workloads coming *because* he's playing well, or vice-versa. For the moment, I'm assuming he stays in the solid RB2 ranks with healthy workloads.
If leshoure is out. Where would bell rank with the rbs? High rb 2?
Hi, John. I'm not sure quite that high. Maybe more like low teens, or early 20s? Matthew Stafford is on a pace to break the all-time record for pass attempts in a single season, so it's hard for me to get wicked excited about any DET RB. But yes, Bell becomes a consideration at that point.
The Bears D is ranked 25th over the last three weeks yet they remain #1 or #2 on ESPN's rankings. Isn't a tad misleading to rank them so high based on the last three weeks?
A few thoughts: (a) If you did your D/ST ranks based on the past 3 weeks only, then yes, they would be too high. I'm not sure why you'd pick that arbitrary length of time, unless it was only to prove an arbitrary statistical point. Oh, wait. (b) I actually did a segment on the Fantasy Underground podcast a few weeks ago about the unsustainability of the Bears D's turnovers, and that has proven pretty prescient. (c) Have you ever sat down and actually tried to rank all 32 defenses in a given week? It's not a walk in the park to get them accurately. In fact, it's very, very difficult. Tell me the 20 defenses you'd rank in front of Chicago....
Hey Chris, love what you do and the passion you do it with. What round do you see D Thomas being drafted next season? He's been pretty darn consistent this year!
Thanks, Denny. I would say provided Peyton is still around...and there's no reason to think he won't be...we'd have to view Thomas as a top-5 WR (this is off the top of my head). And if that's the case, then a 2nd-round pick in most leagues seems pretty close. Maybe high third?
New England D/ST - Top 5 Play ROS were the last two weeks more of a fluke? I know you were down on them week 11, and begrudingly allowed them last week (thanks for that)
Ha, yeah, thanks Alex. And this week again, as you sit down and try to actually rank all the D/STs, and you see them playing a pretty un-explosive Miami offense, again, you kind of have to rank them high. But I do *not* believe in that D/ST, and when they start playing average-to-above-average offenses, I'm worried they'll melt the heck down. When QBs can hurt them, they are trouble. So I guess I'll say more of a "fluke" than a "good defense." But hey, I ranked 'em 4th this week....
Chris, big fan of fantasy underground---much love for the Bryce Brown call. Flex spot---Matthews, Nicks, Moreno, R. Jennings? Thanks
Hi, Kyle. Thank you. I think I'd play Nicks.
Hi Chris, I've dealt with this ethics question for the past several years but my league mates don't seem to be on the same page. What are your thoughts on rosters locking for teams that are no longer in the championship race? Our playoffs start this week, and the last place team claimed the one player I needed for my first matchup...so now i'm stuck. Davone Bess or banged up Miles Austin? THANKS!
Hi, Ben. No, I don't think I'm down with that rule change -- I think teams should be able to add whomever they want provided it's within the rules, and for whatever reasons they want. I don't like the idea of locking out non-contenders. In fact, I'd like it if more non-contenders tried harder! I think if Austin plays, you probably begrudgingly play him, and hope for the best.....
Hi cutie! Cobb, Nelson, Shorts. Scared to start 2 of my boys since Jennings coming back. Please nurse me though this....
Your fears are justified, Jessica. Let's face it: if you started both GB guys last week, even without the threat of Jennings, it would've been non-optimal (though Jordy did have the early score). I think it's completely fine if you want to put Shorts in for Jordy, if you're too worried to use the GB guys.
Where do you see Cobb being drafted next year? Using your crystal ball, does your gut say to take him over Welker?
Hi, Tom. Well, it's a super-open question where Welker will be playing next year. He's an unrestricted free agent who's basically un-taggable. So if he leaves NE, clearly not him. If he stays...hm....I would think I'll still have Welker a bit higher, but I'm open to having my mind changed. (For instance, if Jennings leaves GB.)
In your Fantasy Underground podcast you mentioned D.Richardson and I.Pead as sleepers for 2013. Which one do you see most likely to carry the load next year? Thanks
Hi, Kara. I would say Richardson at this point, though again, it's a long way away. Pead has the better pedigree, and probably has more of an early-down body. But Richardson beat him out badly in training camp. If Jackson leaves, they'll each get a chance, and it could result in a split.
"They are who we thought they were...." Which stud RBs do you think will have the most disappointing finish to the season? (Lynch, Martin, Gore, Charles, Etc)
Hm. That's a very tough thing to predict, obviously...guys who've had really good seasons through 3/4 of the year are tough to just pick off and say, "Yeah, he stinks." But I do think Charles is a tough guy to trust on an elite team, because his workload is always such a question.
Is anyone in the Philly passing game startable until Vick comes back?
Hi, Mike. I mean, Maclin is the only guy you can even consider, and even then, eesh, you'd need to be desperate.
Believer in Nicks, eh? I know he got the targets and the TD last week, but he still didn't look quite right to me...
Hi, Jake. Interesting take...I did re-watch the film and thought he looked okay, but I admit maybe I wasn't entirely tuned into how his legs looked. I'll be interested to see if that manifests at all on Monday night. Good take, though....
ETHICS Question: If a guy is locked into a playoff spot and playing 1 of 4 teams fighting for a playoff spot, is it ok to pull his players and give the guy a win. (guy he's playing has a terrible team)
Hi, Sean. It stinks. If your league doesn't specifically have a rule prohibiting it, I guess it's not illegal. But it's also not a league I'd want to play in, if people don't step in and create such a rule in the future. I don't think it's ethical.
I sat Amendola for Sanu last week and it worked out swimmingly. Thoughts on doing the same again this week? (Givens/DWilson are other options)
Hi, James. Really comes down to whether we trust Amendola to play something close to a full game. Sanu is so TD-dependent at this point, that he's pretty tough to trust. Honestly, I might think about David Wilson. But if Sanu has been good enough to you with all these TDs lately and you really want to try and ride that red-zone train, I couldn't fight you too hard.
To keep everyone involved and wanting to win each week, we award a gift to the top scorer of the week. Keeps everyone on their toes.
Sure, that's good way to handle such things.....
Thanks to the Fantasy Underground & Doug Martin I've already secured a 1st round bye. I want to stash a DST for week 15. Who would you pick: Cincinnati (@PHI), Miami (JAC) or Detroit (@ARI)?
Hi, Joe. Glad to help. My initial gut feel would be the Bengals, especially if we can get confirmation that Philly is holding out Vick long term. But obviously, much can change in two weeks.
Good strategy to p/u any defense playing KC ROS?
It sure has worked over the past month. With Charles on that team, you never say never, but yeah, seems kind of solid. Of course, the Panthers D/ST haven't been very good this year, so maybe this week will test that theory!
Would you ever consider sitting Ray Rice against the Steelers? I am in a must win to get into the playoffs this week. Also, Quizz, DMC, or LawFirm in STD league with 1 pt per 10 ret yds? Right now I have Rice and Quizz in there. Thanks!
No, I'm not sitting Rice, so I think you have it right having him in there. As for your other spot......I think I would probably sit Rodgers, wait to see if McFadden plays, and just play the Law Firm if he doesn't.
You might have seen me there, I just dropped a load of salsa.... What do you think about the HUGE discrepancy in targets between Nicks and Cruz (in Hakeem's favor). Is everyone just slow to realize Nicks is the new #1 in NYC and a top 10 PPR WR going forward?
Hi, Hakeem. Listen to the Fantasy Underground podcast this week. We talk at length about this very topic.
Hi Chris. You were less high on Shorts than the other rankers. Do you have a specific concern about him, or just Jacks in general? Thinking of starting him over Cobb since GB could be a bit murky w/targets.
Hi, Brian. No, I just tend not to ebb and flow week to week like the other rankers do. Nothing against them at all...I just don't believe in changing one's fundamental opinion about players without great reason, and while Shorts has DD fantasy points in 4 of 5 games, his QB is Chad Henne, and I think there's at least a decent chance that JAC takes this 2-week hype, goes to a cold-weather game in BUF and lays a total egg. I still did rank Shorts as a low WR2 or high WR3...and that's what I think he is. I'm playing Cobb over him.
Hello there. Matt Forte, TY Hilton, or Kyle Rudolph in my flex spot. 0.5 pt PPR league.
Hi, Griff. Forte is he's active. Hilton if he's not.
OK, guys, I have to go write the Hard Count, so one more.....
Did you leave Rudolph unranked b/c you thought he would not play? Where would he rank if he did (which seems probable now)?
Yeah, James, that's exactly what happened, and I will put him in for tonight's update. He'll be between 9 and 11 or so on my full TE list (though it will look higher than that since we'll have removed Graham and Gonzalez)...startable, though definitely up-and-down lately......
OK, gang, I see many of your frustrated messages thinking that I'm singling you out and intentionally *not* answering your question, but we got over 1,500 questions in a single hour, so hey, a fella can only do so much. If you want to follow me @CHarrisESPN, you can ask me stuff there, and I'll try and get back. I don't take any of you guys and gals for granted, and very much appreciate all this interest. I'm thankful for all of you. I hope you have a great week, and enjoy tonight's game.