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December 3, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy Sports with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:00 AM)

Good morning everyone! The fantasy football playoffs have arrived, so as with the past several weeks, we'll go heavy football today. Baseball's still fair game, of course, particularly with the winter meetings here. Please do make sure, of course, to begin your question with "BASEBALL" if you've got one. Let's get started!

Scott (Knoxville)

So all this time we are blaming the Eagles offensive line on LeSean McCoy's mediocre season. After two games Bryce Brown has more TDs than Shady has ALL SEASON. Being a McCoy owner, and unfortunately NOT a Bryce Brown owner, does McCoy get his job back? I mean, even with the Brown fumbles that would be like playing Ben Tate over Arian Foster...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:03 AM)

I didn't place <i>all</i> of the blame on the offensive line. In fact, generally when I criticize the Eagles' O-line, it's in regard to Michael Vick (and now Nick Foles), not McCoy. But let's give Brown a little credit, shall we? He's got tremendous vision, obvious to anyone who caught the Sunday night game, but also in his favor were two matchups that suited him well. I do think the O-line's inadequacies might bring Brown a bit back towards earth in tougher matchups, like this week's against the Bucs. That said, I'm still starting him with confidence.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

As for the many questions today about whether LeSean McCoy recaptures his starting job, I honestly don't know that, but I'd lean towards, "No." Concussions aren't easy from which to recover, and doesn't it suit the Eagles to take an extended look at this kid, since he's the hot hand? I'd plan as if it's Brown's gig, considering how little of the season is left.

Eric (TO)

Any of the lions WR's worth a roster spot now that Broyles looks to be out? will young come back?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:06 AM)

No, and I say no. Look to the tight ends; I'd upgrade Brandon Pettigrew specifically. And those who follow my work know that I'm generally anti-Pettigrew outside of PPR formats. Now I'm on board, if Broyles is out long-term.

Wade Ortega (Nashville)

BASEBALL: Opryland Hotel is unusually busy! How does Napoli to the Red Sox affect his 2013 value?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:08 AM)

If the reports are true -- and considering the Red Sox were heavy into the Napoli sweepstakes, I'd bet they are -- I think it's a plus for him. The Red Sox have the catching depth to afford him plenty time at first base, and I'm big on big-hitting catcher eligibles playing other positions. I don't expect a full rebound to his 2011, but split the difference between his 2011 and 2012 and we can talk.

Bryan (Springdale, AR)

A guy in my league lost yesterday by .1 pts when Romo got -1 yard for kneeling down at the end of the game. As commissioner, isn't it the right thing to do to wipe out this -1 yard since it was given in a matter not consistent with the "spirit of the game" and that one should be winning their matchup and lose it based on a play like that? I know I should intervene, but I've seen your "people can win however they want mentality" on here before, but I believe as commissioner sometimes you have to step in and legislate outcomes in order to promote integrity and fairness.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:10 AM)

I wouldn't characterize my opinion as "people can win however they want." That's unfair; I have said that people can <i>manage their teams to their wishes</i>. I see no rational way you could make that kind of adjustment. Statistics are statistics, and they are final, period. Heck, exclamation point. Quarterbacks kneeling for lost yards have impacted fantasy matchups for decades; you should never make an exception just because of playoff implications. Ever.

John (GA)

Who has a better last 3-4 games - Cobb or Jennings?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:10 AM)

I'm still a Cobb guy. Glad you brought up Greg Jennings, because I've warmed quickly to him -- Jordy Nelson's injury mandates it -- and I'd say he's got a good shot at top-20 status at the position next week. But it's Cobb for me, he'd be my highest of the Packers wide receivers going forward.

Big Ben (Pittsburgh)

If I come back next week, will I have much of an impact?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:12 AM)

Unquestionably. Roethlisberger makes the Steelers' offense, in my opinion. I'd anticipate a little rust when it comes to analyzing Roethlisberger's own fantasy prospects, but I think he's slot back in at, at worst, high-end QB2 status.

Geoff (DC)

Thoughts on Russell Wilson ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:13 AM)

The major issue I have with buying in this Wilson uptick is that two of his final four matchups come against brutal matchups: Week 14 versus Arizona, Week 16 versus San Francisco. He's the quintessential matchups quarterback to me, use in Week 15 (Buffalo) and 17 (St. Louis) if you need, but otherwise I'd pick and choose elsewhere.

Russ (MA)

Good point on the endgame kneeldown by Romo. you could probably also argue that if you do that you need to go back to games with garbage time and deduct those yards and touchdowns. Similar rationale, and similarly untenable.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:15 AM)

Anyone who changes statistics arbitrarily grants Shonn Greene's owner in their league a compelling case to request the touchdown he'd have inevitably gotten had he not slid at the one to go into victory formation on Sunday. That's the bottom line.

Fitz (MA)

BASEBALL: Which Upton will have the better season?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:16 AM)

Justin. I'll go down with the ship on his career, but I cannot see the Uptons in any other light than that Justin is on the upswing of his career, while B.J. is coming off one of the more obvious contract years in recent memory. I need to see more consistency from the latter before I'd buy at Justin levels.

Bryan (Springdale, AR)

Sorry, but I'm not going to allow a play, a play that was not a play intended to have an impact on the outcome of the game, to effect our fantasy league. In fact, the statisticians should be saying 0 yards and should stop working the second they see that a quarterback is going to kneel down. You just love for people to win and lose however they want. Bet you would love a nation with no laws, just letting people do whatever they want.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:17 AM)

Your argument is with the NFL's official scorers, not me. No one should override the official statistics. Do it and you open a massive can of worms, like the Greene situation.

Billy (NYC)

Has the time period for starting Marcel Reese run out?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:19 AM)

You know, as much as I hate saying it, I fear the answer is yes. All the Darren McFadden leading-into-the-game chatter hinted at him instantly recapturing a "starter's" role, or at least an arrangement that might've pushed Reece into a passing-down gig. On talent -- plus McFadden's notorious tendency to heal slowly -- I won't endorse cutting Reece yet, but if you own him you need a strong backup plan <i>now</i>.

Dan O (MN)

What is up with A. Foster ? Who is the backup to roster?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:21 AM)

A 400-plus-touch season was unrealistic, and frankly, for Foster's long-term fantasy prospects I'm pleased that the Texans now realize this. That's my primary takeaway, and while Justin Forsett has sure had a strong recent run in the backup role, I do think the Texans might give Ben Tate any Week 17 "start" while Foster rests, just to give him some reps pre-playoffs. But it's a guess, I admit.

Spike (NY)

Of course I benched Matt Forte the first time he shows up in weeks. Is he really a must start with that schedule?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:23 AM)

As I've detailed in the past (pre-trade deadline), he's teering on the borderline of "must-start" status primarily because of his schedule. It's a poor one, and I advised that the smarter angle was to lock him in as a high-end RB2 rather than your clear, every-week RB1. Bottom line: Those with ridiculous depth at running back may consider alternatives, but don't "get cute."

Brent (TX)

Can comfortably watch with a bye in 2 leagues, but still have questions. With Ryan struggling, would you consider going Romo or Dalton in week 15 if Ryan is bad again this week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:26 AM)

I might, but today it's too difficult to tell which I'd rank higher for Week 15, two weeks off, <i>if</i> Ryan stinks next week. In that case it'd be like saying, "Here are my Nos. 8-11 quarterbacks, which do you want?" So close, so likely to change.Smart insurance here: Andy Dalton gets the Eagles in Week 15, so if the goal is to protect your roster, I think he's worth a stash. That is not, however, an endorsement to start him in Week 15 today. I merely advise that people <i>always</i> protect investments and wisely use their entire bench at this critical stage.

Kurt (NYC)

Any concerns about Peyton sitting out any games moving forward?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:27 AM)

Yes, especially considering his age, but I refuse to regard it as anything greater than all of Week 17 and perhaps the latter stages of Week 16 should the game be decided early. Anyone ever planning for more than that is exaggerating the "rest" angle.

Brad (OH)

Is it - finally - time to completely give up on Ryan Matthews as even a RB2?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:28 AM)

Man, it might be. His offensive line is in shambles -- even more injuries this week -- and his team as a whole is a mess. Anyone riding with Mathews, as I am in a keeper league, needs have severe concerns about his fantasy output going forward. About all you can claim is that he'll get carries.

Nathan (Mississippi)

Please comment on Aaron Rodgers. I think I speak for most of his owners when I say....We are freaking!!!!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:29 AM)

Freaking why? There are only two remotely troublesome things I see regarding Rodgers: Jordy Nelson's injury could keep him from being tops-for-the-week fantastic, and he's got a Week 15 matchup against the Bears. Beyond that, I wouldn't even entertain the idea of ever sitting him.

Alex (PA)

Thanks for your work. Stats and consistency ratings have been big this year. D/ST is tough to figure. Do you have any sleeper D/ST picks for week 14?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:33 AM)

It's always difficult to figure. Taking a quick glance at Week 14, boy, somehow I'm actually feeling OK with the Jaguars, who play at home against the Jets. Their quarterback situation is entirely unclear, and if it's Tim Tebow, I'd be a little more concerned. We shall see.I also like the Bucs at home against the Eagles, and perhaps Miami at San Francisco, depending again on who starts at QB (currently Kaepernick).

Craig (Minneapolis)

Thoughts on Demarco Murray's performance last night?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:35 AM)

Encouraging from the health angle, in that he managed greater than 20 touches and led that backfield, plus what I saw of him showed a running back fairly close to his pre-injury form. So he restores, at worst, high-end RB2 value for me. Nice enough schedule going forward (@CIN, PIT, NO, @WSH).

Cody (Chicago)

Do you buy Dwyer as a lead back ROS? Even with injuries, BAL/PIT is always a defensive game. I think he ran well and has decent matchups ahead. RB2 or Flex going forward or back to commitee?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:37 AM)

Oh yes, I definitely do. Remember, much of this is evaluating their own future; Dwyer is a part of it and Rashard Mendenhall (a free agent after the year) is not. Isaac Redman might for the rest of the year have, say, a 35-percent share of that backfield, but I think Dwyer's opportunity and skills make him a mid-range RB2.

Chris (Playoff Bound)

Should we bench Fitz until he gets a new QB?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:38 AM)

Yes. Look at that schedule: @SEA, DET, CHI, @SF. If his quarterback wasn't enough of a problem, he's got some tough defenses ahead, and in Seattle's case, all indications are that the suspensions their defensive backs face won't begin in Week 14.

Mr. Mcgibblets (chicago)

What Qbs look good to pick up in the last few games of the season for Schaub or Ryan?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:40 AM)

Maybe Ryan Tannehill for the Weeks 16-17 (BUF, @NE) games, Chad Henne (NE, @TEN), heck, Nick Foles at least took a small step forward in Week 13 and gets the Redskins and Giants the final two weeks.To be clear, do <i>not</i> go overboard on this. Never cut a meaningful piece, and remember that it might be every bit as easy on Dec. 18 to pick up your sub as it is today.

Owen (Iowa)

BASEBALL: Over/under: Brandon Belt will hit 22 home runs.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:42 AM)

I'm going to say under, but it's because A) he's in a ballpark that's not friendly to left-handed power, and B) the Giants have never shown him a firm commitment to everyday at-bats. I do like Belt, always have, but 20 is as far as I'll go for now, because I don't buy the playing time (yet).

Nick (DC)

What happened with the Bills RB situation yesterday? I started Spiller, and everything I heard said that he would be getting the majority of the carries for the rest of the season. But Fred Jackson ended up getting 11 more carries. Confused.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:44 AM)

So am I. There are reports that the Bills claimed they felt Jackson was "better equipped for that kind of weather," but let's face it, it's yet more excuses for the Bills straying from their most dynamic running back. The week before it was that Jackson was better at blitz pickup.I've sung Spiller's praises as much as anyone the past several weeks, and I'll remind: 48 fantasy points the past four weeks combined, every one of those games in double digits. Even with his limits, he's awfully good.

Matt (Boise)

BASEBALL - I had an embarssment of riches this last year and ran away with the title. But now I have tough choices on who my three keepers should be in a 12 team league. Deciding between Trout, Heyward, Fielder, Verlander, Kersahw, and Posey. Who are the two keepers besides Trout?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:45 AM)

I think it's Jason Heyward and Buster Posey, from the angle that you lock down your offensive categories with three players, as well as it's not terribly difficult to replace a first baseman or starting pitcher. You can draft 1-2 more big bats and address pitching going with those three.

Xavier (Chicago)

Whaddup Tristan? As my receivers I have V.Cruz, G.Jennings, A.Brown, P.Garcon, and D.Moore. Looks great on paper but they are ALL wildly inconsistent for various reasons. Can you list them in order according to their 'trustability' for the remainder of the season? Thanks man.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

"Trustability"? Hmmm. Victor Cruz by far. Then Greg Jennings. Then Pierre Garcon, then Denarius Moore, then Antonio Brown.

Josh (Michigan)

What is Vick Ballard's value ROS with Donald Brown's apparent ankle injury?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:47 AM)

It depends the severity of Brown's ankle injury, but let's assume for a minute that he sits out Week 14. It's a favorable matchup and I'd probably have Ballard ranked in the high teens (like 18th). I think he's got a shot at top-20 weekly status going forward, but <i>only</i> if he's granted the entire gig.

Roger (Hobbs, NM)

Do you think Denarius Moore's benching yesterday is permanent? Thoughts on Streater going forward?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:49 AM)

No, though it's one of the reasons I put him lower on that "trustability" question. He hasn't performed especially well lately.As for Streater, remember that his stat line was fueled by one big play. I'm not buying.

Guy (A Place)

I made the admittedly stupid error of dropping Cobb instead of the now done for the season, no hope of return Benson. Upon realizing this I asked the commish (who had 1st waiver priority at that) to reverse, which he did while applying a "stupid tax". Fair/unfair approach to the situation?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

You have a very kind and generous commish. I have no problem with that, but it was his discretion. What's a "stupid tax" anyway?

Steve (NJ)

My league has a 10 transaction limit for pick ups. With my win yesterday I secured the #3 seed in our playoffs. I have 1 transaction left. What are your thoughts on saving that for emergency or using it now to add depth? Honestly I don't think I would start anyone I would pick up..except for maybe Defense. Other option would be to secure a decent QB backup just in case. I have Brady and Ponder is my only backup.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:51 AM)

Save it for emergency. Nothing crushes a fantasy team greater than a dead lineup spot, and you cannot possibly risk that happening.

John (Florida)

WIll MJD play again this fantasy season or would you cut him?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:51 AM)

He hasn't practiced in weeks and there are no hints that he will play in Week 14. It's fair game at this point, if there's something else compelling out there.

Jeff (STL)

Tebow time? Not going to say anything about his QB skills, but his fantasy fb skills make him interesting.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:53 AM)

The appeal of Tebow in fantasy is a low downside; his rushing prowess gives him a near-guaranteed eight points or so even in his worst weeks. Ask Drew Brees' owners about the sting of a quarterback's basement-level performance.But I will say that I don't view Tebow's <i>upside</i> as close to what it was with the 2011 Broncos. He's got a weaker supporting cast with the Jets, and it's asking a lot for him to go on a comparably magical run. Given the choice, I'd much rather have Kaepernick.

Glenn (Houston)

Hi Tristan, week 14 defense, do you like Pitt vs SD, Cleve vs KC, Tampa vs PHI or Altanta vs Carolina best? Pick one, please. Thank you.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:54 AM)

Pittsburgh.

Jeff (NY, NY)

Based on your previous answer - I agree Spiller is a must start, but what are your thoughts about starting both players with FJax as a Flex?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:56 AM)

I'm somewhat OK with Jackson as a flex option, though he'll routinely rank in the mid-to-high 20s for me in coming weeks. Rams, Seahawks, Dolphins the next three weeks, so not one outstanding matchup, and if he's the clear No. 2 -- which talent dictates he should be -- then I'd try to do better.

Obi Wan Kenobi (Tatooine)

Is Myers worth starting in flex next week? AP Bryce Brown and Moreno are my RBs. Depends if Mccoy comes back

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

If that means starting Brandon Myers over Knowshon Moreno then no, I wouldn't. The Oakland matchup for Moreno is quite a good one.

Mike (Bronx)

Prediction for tonight's game. Final score? Hoping Skins get up big, so Giants can play catch up and Tynes isn't a factor.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:00 PM)

I can't remember the score I picked in Pick 'em, but I've got the Giants narrowly squeaking out a victory, I think I had them by less than a field goal (like 28-27). I think Eli and RGIII are the fantasy stars, considering those matchups.But I will also say that I see Ahmad Bradshaw getting any goal-line carries the Giants offer, meaning he's a pretty solid play himself.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:01 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 everyone beginning their fantasy playoff matchups in the coming week; I'll see you right here again next Monday! Take care.