Good morning, everyone. It's the fantasy playoffs -- time to grab the brass ring. However, even if your team is out, I think you'll enjoy this week's Fantasy Underground podcast (http://t.co/IVZOuGNN). First of all, it's really just a long conversation about football. And second of all, we have a segment at the end where Field Yates and I discuss my five sleeper veterans for 2013. Also, there will be a lot of questions today, and I won't be able to get to them all, so follow me @CHarrisESPN and I'll do my best to get back to you. Here we go.....
You were the only ranker to have Mathews ahead of Dwyer in your runningback ranks, can you explain your reasoning? I think it's pretty much a lock that Mathews wont score a TD and Pit D is good against the run.
Hi, JD. This is a tough forum for me to go into much depth, but I urge you to listen to this week's Underground podcast...we spent a good 10 minutes discussing Dwyer, and why I'm leery of him.
Also, gang: I see dozens of single-position, standard-league questions. I'm not going to answer those here. I literally spend hours every week slaving over ranks for ESPN.com, so you can get my answers here: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=12ranksWeek14QB
Hey Chris,I have 2 RBs and 2 WRs to choose from for my flex spot this week. Who do you see with more upside out of M. Leshoure, F. Jackson, L. Moore & D. Avery?
Hi, Joel. If you're looking for upside, I actually think Lance Moore might have the most of this group. If I'm picking the one I'd start for a combination of safety and upside, I probably go Leshoure, even though I don't think he's a particularly great player....
I'm only asking this because you didn't rank him. Would you start big ben over palmer (who is going tonight)?
Hi, Alex. Thanks for asking this, because I see that the other three rankers on ESPN.com must've assumed Roethlisberger isn't going to play, so he doesn't appear on the QB list. But if you look carefully, you'll see that I don't have a #15 on that QB list, because my
Auto Update showing off and not refreshing.........More upside this week, SJax or Knowshon?
Hi, Michael. Auto-update is "on" on my end. This has happened before during chats, but on my end, I promise auto-update is on. Questions are refreshing. Moreno is a mediocre player at this point in his career, but against that sad, sad Oakland run defense, I think he has more upside than Jackson.
Would you go with Wayne or Moreno this week at flex? Wayne has not found the end zone much this season and Moreno has a great matchup this week...thoughts?
Hi, Jon. That's a *really* good question. I don't have a strong feeling. As I just said, I think Moreno has more upside, but I don't think he's a particularly good player at this stage in his injury career. Wayne has slowed down with the TDs but not the targets, and he came *so* close to catching the game-winner against the Lions last week, or we wouldn't be having this discussion. I think this one just has to be a gut call on your part.
Any word on if C.Shorts is playing on Sunday?
Hi, Tom. No word yet that I know of. He apparently passed his concussion tests but still has symptoms, which isn't a great sign. We'll know more today or tomorrow, I guess.....
So "Slotback Rhapsody" got here from Amazon last night and I ended up reading until 2am....whoops...any plans to write more stuff? Any idea what it would be about? Real Question: Where do you see "the elite" tight ends going next year? Surely not second round like this year?
Thank you very much. I hope you like it. I will have a new novel coming out early next year...not about sports. It's about a pot-smoking private detective in Austin in 2003, trying to solve a kidnapping case. And it's funny you mention the tight end question, because that's a big part of the Hard Count column I'm writing right now, which will be out tomorrow morning. I think Gronk and Graham will still be second-rounders or so next year, because someone will take the injury risk. But as for everyone else? Oy, wait.
PPR, Can you rank these guys as to who has best potential for big points this week based on match-ups, Roddy, Nicks, Cobb, G Jennings, Charles, Forte, Spiller?
Hi, Debbie. For upside, I'd probably say that Spiller and Charles are regularly going to be 1 and 2 on that list for me, because they're so explosive (but obviously they have severe downside risk, too). I'd probably fill out my "upside" list here like this: White, Cobb, Nicks, Forte, Jennings.
Need a sneaky pick this week, thinking Tony Scheffler will play the slot in Detroit, Better chance of a big game than Bennett and Celek?
Hi, Devin. Yeah, I'm with you, I think there's a good chance that Scheffler mans the slot for much of Sunday night's game. Does that give him more upside than those other guys? Hm. Maybe. I would say yes to Celek, but probably no to Bennett. Bennett with Eli throwing it to him does seem to have explosive possibilities, even if he regularly doesn't live up to them.
Can you elaborate on why you ranked Stafford over Luck for week 14? Stafford in a slump, on the road (averaging 16.5 on the road), and out of contention for the playoffs. Luck, who is making a legitimate run at the playoffs, at home (averaging 21 points at home), and facing the Titans. Stafford has felt like a gamble all season; while Luck hasn't exactly played "Manning level football", he seems like a much safer option. Love the podcast btw.
Hi, Frank. First off, I'm not your guy for home/road stuff. I think it's a total red herring. So I can't go with you there. And while he laid an egg against the Packers a few weeks ago, Stafford has pretty much otherwise been total money to me. Luck has been terrific and he's #8 on my QB list this week (while Stafford is
Matt Ryan has been on a roller coaster the past few weeks, what are your thoughts on benching him in favor of Cam?
Hi, Danny. He sure has. Mostly a roller coaster down. If you and everyone else asking single-position questions will look at my online ranks, you'll see I have Newton higher this week: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=12ranksWeek14QB
How do you come with all the names for your characters? Feel like I would be awful at it and just go with all my friends names so it would be funny to us. Any reason to keep Felix around now that Demarco is back?
Hi, Ryan. For the football novel it was particularly fun because I had to come up with a roster's worth of names. Honestly, I would troll news web sites or even look at NFL rosters and try combinations of names. It was fun. And no, I don't think you really need to hang onto Felix, except I guess as a handcuff in a deeper league.
Now that A. Green has the job, is he a better play this week at flex than D. Alexander going against the staunch Steelers D? Thanks
Hi, Matt. Honestly, I think I'd play Alexander. I agree with you that it's not a very good matchup. And Green has some flex appeal because of Starks' injury and a lack of other options of Green Bay. But Alexander is San Diego's No. 1 WR now. Tough for me to sit him no matter the matchup for an RB I don't really trust. (For a discussion of Green, listen to this week's Underground podcast....)
Chris, flex question. Should I roll Matt Forte out there or should go with the likes of Mike Williams or Chris Givens?
Hi, Riz. I'm actually looking at film on Forte from last week right now, and writing about him for tomorrow's Hard Count column. I was pretty impressed. I would probably play him.
With Murray playing, do you see him as a risky start? I have to choose between Murray, Decker, and Nicks for flex in 0.5PPR. Which would be a safe start and which is the risky higher upside?Thank you!
Hi, Matt. I don't think Murray is all that risky...his foot may not be 100%, but insofar as we can ever be sure about these things, he claims he didn't hurt it worse Sunday night. I think he's the regular start. For upside? Well, man, Decker *should* have all the upside in the world tonight facing that awful Raiders D. But he had that same upside last week against Tampa and laid an egg. Tough to trust him. But I guess if I'm looking pure upside, he probably has the most.
So I know you responded on Shorts but I was wondering if I take the risk of starting him over Moreno. If he doesn't play I could end up starting Blackmon, Avery or Dwyer. Do I take the risk and hope that Shorts plays and if not fall back on one of those players. Or do I go safe and start Moreno tonight?
Hi, Josh. Because of the super duper matchup, I might take the chance with Moreno. I don't love doing it, though.
Can you explain why the rankings do not lineup with the projections?
Hi, Chris. They're done by completely different people. The projections are done before the ranks are submitted, by folks who are not me. So there's no overlap. Since I'm on the side that does the ranking, I'll be totally self-serving and tell you to pay attention to those, and not look at the projections so much. (Projections, by the way, are brutally difficult and thankless to do for every player on a weekly basis....I am *glad* I don't have to do them.)
The rankers dont do the projections..why even bother putting these questions up
Because not everyone knows that?
Do you think Brandon Lloyd has any value ROS with NE's depleted WR corps?
Hi, Tom. I can see a scenario where that happens. But when Lloyd signed on in New England, I was the lone voice of skepticism, trying to communicate that there weren't enough targets for him to be a high-volume guy like he was in Denver and St. Louis, and that he was never going to be a red-zone threat in an offense with this many close-in weapons. I didn't expect it to be *this* bad, but suffice it to say Lloyd isn't on any of my redraft teams. But yeah, of course, as the other receivers get hurt, there's a *chance* Lloyd gets relevant again. Problem is that he's not physical getting off the line, and I'm not sure Brady trusts him to be there where he's supposed to be.
Like the comment you had. Wait do you hear that? Brees just threw another pick hahaha I played him last week and won 100-99 lol! Who to start Decker Moreno or Garcon at my flex. I got Peyton as my QB
Hi, Austin. Yeah, that was on last week's Fantasy Focus Friday show with Michele and Stephania. I'm not sure Michele appreciated being interrupted. Oops. So anyway, normally I think I'd have said Moreno, but with Manning on your team, if you're trying to maximize points, I can see an argument for Decker. It would be a bold move.
A. Morris will be a top______rb next year
Hi, Mike. Hm. I haven't put an ounce of thought into this question yet. But I guess he has to be in the top 10, right?
How far does Fitzgerald move up your ranks with Skelton starting?
Hi, Ross. I'm just writing about this topic for tomorrow's Hard Count, too (albeit "In Brief" as opposed to "In Depth"). I did bump him up a few spots, but I was already highest on him among the other rankers, so he's still not quite getting inside my top 30. His results were *better* in those three games Skelton started, but it's not like they were particularly great.....
CJ Spiller will be a top _____ rb next year
Hi, Mick. Again, no thought put into this, and you really need to tell me whether the Bills cut Fred Jackson. I think they will, and if they do, Spiller is probably above Morris, well inside the top 10. If they don't? Argh.
Is Amendola worth the risk if he plays? Would have to be over Mike Wallace...
Hi, Sam. That's a toughie. I like Amendola a lot, and when he's right, he's a PPR monster. But with Big Ben expected back, I would probably put Wallace over an injured Amendola.
Do you think LaMichael James takes Hunters place as a change of pace guy. Do you think he is worth holding onto just in case he becomes relevant. He seems like a Percy Harvin type guy. THanks!!!
Hi, Jimmy. The fact that the 49ers picked Brandon Jacobs over James last week speaks volumes about what they think of the rookie at this point. He just can't get on the field. It's a shame, because without Hunter, the Niners may have the most plodding RB corps in the league. But at this point, I don't see James contributing. Maybe that changes this week, after an annoying OT loss.
Is there any QB in the draft that could make you draft Larry Fitzgerald before the 5th round next year?
Hi, Jack. That's a really, really good question. I would say that Geno Smith would be a very good start. I think Smith could wind up going No. 1 in April's draft, though, so Arizona probably couldn't get him unless they traded up. But no, I don't think anybody else has the instant impact to save Fitz immediately. I think it's likelier that someone like Vick or some other veteran goes to AZ.
How much do you base your rankings off of "points against" statistics? For example this week Pitta is playing against the Redskins this week and they allow the most points scored for TE. But he is ranked really low.
Hi, Jenn. "Points against" factors into my ranks, but not as they're presented on ESPN.com. I have a spreadsheet of my own making which helps me look at how far above or below average a team is in preventing fantasy points to each position. For instance: If my defense "only" gives up 15 points to Aaron Rodgers, shouldn't that be worth a better score than if my defense gives up 15 points to Blaine Gabbert? My formulas account for that. In addition, I only tend to look at the past 5 games, whereas the info on our ESPN.com chart is just a season-long average. What do I care whether the Redskins allowed 30 points to a tight end in Week 1? Anyway, by my metrics, the Skins haven't been nearly as favorable a matchup against TEs lately as they were earlier in the year. Besides which, Pitta has been too inconsistent to rely on in general.
Great question by Jenn. In a PPR league who do you like better for the flex: Jacquizz Rodgers or Josh Gordon? Thanks
Hi, Tony. I agree -- good one by Jenn. Hope I answered it clearly. I think I prefer Gordon over Rodgers, though the PPR aspect has the potential to be in Rodgers' favor....
What's the likelihood Givens racks up double-digit targets again this week? Does your ranking change if Amendola is inactive?
Hi, Adam. I actually ranked Givens as though Amendola *would* be inactive. I don't tend to think Givens is likely to be a double-digit target guy most weeks right now, though I was heartened to see it. Fantasy Underground fans know that last week on my list of the 5 2012 rookies I expect big things from in 2013, Givens was No. 1. But I think he's still too raw as a route-runner to be a heavy target guy consistently this year. It's funny...as of a few weeks ago, I was the only one ranking Givens, and now I'm ranking him the lowest of all the other rankers.....
I listen to AM1000 in Chicago for you every Sunday morning! Now I'll try to get your help here! Need help at my Flex: Steve Johnson, Givens, or J. Bell? Thanks!
Hi, Scott. Thanks for listening. I would probably go ahead and play Stevie. I do think Givens probably has the most upside of this group, because he's mostly a home-run threat (despite all those targets last week). For steadiness, I would think Stevie is your guy, though keep track of his hammy the rest of this week.
Thoughts on the Saints pass D, they seem to have been better the past five weeks.
Hi, Jacob. For tomorrow's Hard Count, I'm analyzing run defenses and pass defenses that have improved over the past month, so this is a prescient question. Hope you'll read it. I think the Saints D has improved overall quite a bit, but to my eyes on tape I'm more impressed with the improvement of the run defense than the pass. I think the safety play is going to be a hindrance the rest of the year...Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper are basically two strong safeties with no free safety, and that's not good.
I know you have Austin and Decker ranked higher, but Givens has been good the last 2 weeks vs above avg DEF, meanwhile, Deck and Miles are 2nd options because there's a better, more athletic WR on their team..am I wrong in feeling safer in givens?
Hi, Scott. Well, as you say, I ranked 'em the way I see 'em, but I've been known to be wrong. It's an occupational hazard. It would be one thing if I thought Givens was a bad player, but I absolutely don't. I just think he's quite raw. But he can be Mike Wallace as soon as next year. No, if your gut is telling you play Givens, I cannot argue strongly against.
how do u watch ur film?
NFL Game Rewind. It's awesome. Like $50 or $60 (I can't remember) for the entire season. It sometimes has glitches, but overall it's an amazing investment. If you're a serious fan of the NFL, it's must-have stuff.
When I look at defense rankings, is it over the course of the year, or the last couple weeks? It seems like it should be the last couple weeks because isn't that what matters most to fantasy players? Current trends are better than what happened week 1, right? What are your thoughts on this??
Hi, Thea. Sure, I agree, looking at the past few weeks is much more revealing. Again, my ranks are done with a strong emphasis on recent play.
I understand there is a place to go for single-position rankings but it unfortunately doesn't help much for PPR. How do you like Ballard vs. Reece for a ppr? I'm leaning towards Ballard with news that Brown has already been ruled out and against soft Tennessee def.
Hi, Matt. Absolutely right -- those ranks are for standard-scoring leagues, and I'm glad to try and answer PPR stuff here. I would probably lean toward Ballard, too, with McFadden back tonight and Reece apparently battling nagging injuries.
Hey, Chris, did you know you can sign up for Apex Manor's mailing list at apexmanor.com and receive some free tracks for doing so? I would hope, of all people, you would know. But answer my question and spread the word. PPR Flex: L Moore, R Bush, Rudolph, Dwyer. Just need one. Thanks!
Can I just mention that we should *all* sign up to Apex Manor's mailing list? What a great band, and they provided the theme music for the Fantasy Underground podcast. (Seriously, if you don't have "The Year of Magical Drinking," you are missing out...it is a tremendous record.) As for the question, I'm going to go with Moore.
Regardless of players involved, how do you select between the Hot Guy and the One With the Much Better Matchup?
Hi, Matt. I really can't generalize...it comes down to which players. I would say the most important thing for me when it comes down to evaluation a situation is what I think of the player himself. That's why if you look at my weekly ranks, I tend to be more stubborn than the others. I have strong opinions on many players, and I try not to let one or two weeks change that opinion, because I feel like I've put in the work to watch them on film.
Hi Chris, huge fan! FLEX question: McFadden, Decker, D. Alexander, J Gresham, I need to start 2. Thanks!
Hi, Earl. Thank you. I think I would start Alexander and Decker, only because I just can't trust McFadden yet. Could he bust out because he's a talented dude? Sure. But I just can't trust him for my team yet.
Care to discuss why you didn't rank Boldin? coming off a good game...against a weak Washington pass D.
Yeah, I got some tweets (@CHarrisESPN) about this...Boldin is literally #52 on my WR list this week, so after we take out the Broncos and Raiders of our ranks tonight, Boldin will be listed. I do still think the Skins are a favorable matchup for opposing receivers, but not as overwhelmingly favorable as earlier in the year. Plus I just don't trust Joe Flacco very much. As I say, I've gotten lots of questions about my rank of him this week, so maybe I'm too low.
Who'd you rather take a stab at down the stretch? Louis Murphy or Mike Thomas?
Hi, Lance. This is a question, of course, because Brandon LaFell has a toe injury so Murphy may start, and everyone in the Lions' WR corps except Megatron is injured, so Thomas *will* start. I think I would probably pick Thomas. We actually discussed him at length on this week's Fantasy Underground podcast...take a listen!
Given your Boldin response, do you start Boldin over DMC?
I think lots of the people who've been telling me how dumb I have about Boldin this week would say yes. Given my ranks, I would say no. But I'm sympathetic to the other folks.
While it appears you can't trust McFadden, can I trust him over Maclin or Britt?
Hi, R. Hm. That's tougher. I would trust him over Maclin with Foles. As for Britt? Britt has been kind of a dog all year, but he keeps making *one* play each week that saves his day. I think I probably use McFadden over him, too, though it's closer.
I love the Underground Podcast. I know you're leery of Dwyer but should i still start him in a PPR flex over the likes of Antonio Brown and Maclin?
Thank you, Shawn. With Big Ben back, the comparison for me comes down to Dwyer or Brown, and I have to say it's a dead heat for me. I have each as my #29 player at his respective position this week. I think Dwyer is probably safer, given Brown's return from injury and not knowing what Big Ben will really be like.
Have you noticed that Thursday night players typically don't do well. That said, how do you see Brandon Myers doing tonight?
Hi, Riaz. I've heard many people say or write that, but I have to say...my gut tells me that's just a "feeling" people have, and isn't actually based on anything. (For instance, we've had some real turkey Monday night games, too, but people haven't talked as much about that, because it's more traditional.) Maybe I'll do some kind of analysis this offseason. Anyway, yeah, I think you roll with Myers.
Year of Magical Drinking (streaming it now) album cover reminds me of one from Van Morrison. I was counting on Harvin coming back since Decker has fallen out of favor and am now scrambling. Can you rank Decker, Torrey and Danario for the ROS? Thanks
Hi, Pablo. Awesome that you're listening to it -- hopefully folks will kick Ross a few shekels, too. He's a good dude. For the ROS, I probably rank them Danario, Torry and Decker. I want to like Decker more than this, because it's clear how talented he is and how valuable his role in Denver is. But when the production has been lacking for this long, I kind of have to take my head out of the sand. I *think* it will turn around, but do I trust it enough to bet on him? Yikes.
Chris, you ranked Spiller and Morris so close...we get a 5 pt bonus for 100 yds rushing...that is my tie breaker between the 2 (Rice is other RB)...who is most likely to rush for 100?
Hi, Tom. Hm. I guess I would say Morris by a hair? Clearly Spiller is a better bet to get near 100 on one *play*, as a breakaway guy. But do I trust he'll get the workload that Morris seems to get every week? I don't. I think Morris wins that tiebreaker for me.
how come no love for Kendall Wright this week? You're the only one who didn't rank him.... would you start him over Maclin or Blackmon in a PPR?
Hi, Matt. I ranked Wright 43rd among WRs. http://espn.go.com/fantasy/football/story/_/page/12ranksWeek14WR
What about J Wright with Harvin done? Him or Mike Thomas?
Hi, Fred. At some point we're just making a random guess, because neither guy is a great bet to do muhc of anything. I ranked Thomas a bit ahead of Wright.
What is the reason you concentrate on football only?
Hi, Michael. Partly it's because it's the sport I like the best -- for my first few years at ESPN I covered football, baseball and NASCAR, but I think the powers-that-be realized that our offseason fantasy football content wasn't robust enough given how much more popular fantasy football is than all the other fantasy sports, so they decided to switch me. I was very glad for that, to be honest....
OK, gang. I have to get writing, so let's do one more. Remember, you can follow me @CHarrisESPN.
Any idea why the Ravens continue to think Flacco is an elite qb and pass way to much rather then giving Ray Rice the bigger workload that he undoubtedly deserves and that would probably be best for the team.
Hi, JD. No question about it. There's a reason Cam Cameron has been my personal whipping man for the past two years, and you've nailed it. I think Cameron is the worst play-caller in the NFL, and I don't think it's close. You have to keep starting Rice, but it's frustrating.
Okay, everyone. This hour flew by. Thank you very much. I wouldn't get to do this great job if it wasn't for all of you. I know it can be frustrating not to get your question answered, but we went over 1,800 questions in 60 minutes, so it's just impossible. Remember: check out my ranks on ESPN.com for single-position questions, and also follow me on Twitter: @CHarrisESPN and I'll try to get to some questions there. Have a great day, and thanks again.