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December 31, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy Sports with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:01 AM)

Good morning everyone! It's my final chat of 2012, and that means anything goes. Want to put a wrap on the 2012 fantasy football season? Fair game. Want to preview the 2013 fantasy football season? Fair game. Just want to talk lunch or new year's plans? Sure, fair game. Let's get started, shall we?

Jalyn Banks (Lawrence, Ks)

Should I put A-rod on my fanasty team or has he long past his prime

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

These are two separate topics.Whether you should put Alex Rodriguez on your 2013 fantasy team: I'm stressing no, not unless he comes cheaply. The best-case scenario for him was his 2009 recovery from hip surgery, and I'm a firm believer has his worst-case scenario missing most if not all of the 2013 season.Whether he's <i>long</i> past his prime: I'd say no, but he's definitely past it. He's in the downslope of his career, his best-case scenario is probably in the ballpark of 25 homers and 90 RBIs with a so-so batting average (.270-.280), and it's only going to go down annually from here. By 2014-15, sure, he'll be <i>long</i> past his prime.Couple those answers and it's way too much risk for my tastes. My rankings reflect that.

Woodrow Reed (The DMV)

Dal at wash/if there's a question of when the clock is zero, why not (for example)use a buzzer/horn when time exspires?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:06 AM)

It'd be terribly distracting, since a person would have to man that, and let's just say the snap occurs less than a second before the clock expires, warranting that buzzer even though it happened in time?

J from MN [via mobile]

Is Alfred Morris a top 10 back next year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:07 AM)

It's way too early to lock players firmly into a tier like "top 10," but he'll hover around that cutoff for me, if I'm doing rankings today. Skills/situation have me wanting to slot him just outside, but I might have a hard time finding even eight better running backs than him today.

Messick (Atlanta)

What do you say to someone who lost their league championship in week 17 despite having a 32 pt lead after week 16? I'm not gonna jump, but the view up here is nice...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:08 AM)

Three things: Sorry to hear it, better luck next year and -- most importantly -- there's no reason to take a fantasy football league result <i>too</i> seriously. It's a game. Fluky things happen; that's what you accept when you play. And let's face it: This wouldn't be any fun if it was entirely predictable, right?

K (philly)

#1 pick for you is AP?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:09 AM)

Unquestionably. He had nearly 50 points on the rest of his class, firmly answered any health question I had about him, made me look like a fool for saying he was <i>only</i> about the 30th or so player in the 2012 draft and remains near the prime of his career.

Billy Robbins (Nyc)

Can all the Romo apologists just admit it already..He's a shrinking violet in crunch time..Jerry needs to get a personnel man, I know he played college ball, but even Tom Landry lost touch..

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:11 AM)

As a stat-minded baseball fan and writer, I have a difficult time accepting such labels as "clutch player" (or the opposite). But I have a more difficult time disagreeing with this Romo assessment. I've long, long thought him overrated; very good fantasy quarterback but always falls just shy of elevating his play into the top tier.Heck, I might have a difficult time getting him into my 2013 top 10 quarterbacks! That's telling about the position.

Mike Tan (Prairie Village, KS)

Way-Too-Early keeper question next year - standard ESPN league. With Doug Martin, C.J. Spiller, Julio Jones, Randall Cobb, Jimmy Graham, Matt Ryan, and Colin Kaepernick, how to trim to 5 keepers? No draft-pick penalties for keepers - 11-round draft.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:14 AM)

My opinion is that it is never too early to plan and research, but always wait until the last possible second to make the final decision on a keeper. The more information, the better.There's no question that you're keeping Martin, Spiller, Jones and Graham, barring some sort of outrageous shift in personnel on their teams or an unexpected injury. So it's Cobb, Ryan and Kaepernick for three spots, and I'm fine with you going gut call, since you'll know your league's drafting tendencies better than me. Can you let those quarterbacks go and sneak one back in an early round? If so, I think that's the right call, but if quarterbacks fly off the board as they do in a 14-team keeper of mine -- no useful one even lasted to me in the first round -- then I'd keep Ryan.

Drew (KC)

Lazy analysis, has AP had too many carries (this year/career) to increase risk on breakdown (a la MJD/Turner/LT, etc). Trying to see the other side of not taking him 1.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:18 AM)

I'll choose to be flattered that you feel that I've got enough time mid-chat to do super-duper, in-depth analysis. I might be quick with spreadsheets, but...At any rate, if the workload is what has you worried, the guy had 348 carries and 388 touches, failing to lead the league in either category as well as falling beneath the thresholds for concern in my past years' analyses. Heck, Arian Foster had more of each, and he's the next most obvious selection at No. 1. I'll run those stats once again in the coming months and check them against comparably aged players -- and I'll stress that the playoffs also will have a say in how that workload increases -- but today, no, I have very little concern.

Dan (Seattle, WA)

BASEBALL!!! Pleasse advise: 5x5 roto, 12 t, kpr. Keep 5. (Castro 9th rnd, Hosmer 15th rnd, Lawrie 16th rnd, Profar 17th rnd, CJ Wilson 18th rnd, Strausberg 19th rnd. Who do I let go?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:20 AM)

I'd need to know the long-term implications of the cuts, because that speaks specifically to Jurickson Profar. If it's 2013 alone and the prices don't carry into 2014 and beyond, he goes.If there's any chance that you can protect for multiple years at comparable price, C.J. Wilson goes and it's not even a contest. His late-season struggles have me worried, at least to the point where he's not an automatic keep.

Joe (Deptford, NJ)

Chances David Wilson is the CJ Spiller breakout player next year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:23 AM)

I'll always preface these discussions with how completely unfair I consider direct player comparisons, especially those that parallel fantasy breakouts from one season to the next. So be careful not to overrate when I say...Pretty good. Though he spent the first half of 2012 in Tom Coughlin's doghouse, and his fumbling issues remain present, Wilson did show in the second half some of the explosive upside I saw in him during the preseason. He needs a larger role in 2013 and I think he's going to get it, considering Ahmad Bradshaw's injury issues. But let's first wait and see whether the Giants add a complementary back. If they don't, I'll be big on Wilson.

El Dub (Cherry Hill NJ)

Just want to talk lunch or new year's plans? Sure, fair game. What are YOUR New Years plans? What is the better fantasy pick: Mick Vick in 2013 for NFL or Cole Hamels in 2013 for MLB?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:26 AM)

Having some good friends over and making them chicken parm, of course! It's always chicken parm day in my book.Ha! I'm sure even you know it's Hamels, but I like the Vick question. Hamels: Did the stat analysis already and wow is the dude consistent. Scarcely wavered from 2010-12 and he's young, so no reason to think he's dead on to those stats again.Vick: I think he'll land elsewhere as a starter (Buffalo?) and be a decent fantasy option, albeit in the QB2 class. Think 12th-15th or so. Rushing ability always makes him better for our purposes than to his real team. Was true even in his career year. He was <i>huge</i> in fantasy that season.

Dan (Seattle, WA)

BASBEALL!!! What do you think Profar line will be this yr? good sleeper at 2B?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:28 AM)

I'm not a believer that he should be playing second base regularly; he should be at short but there isn't a spot for him there (today). So let's say I can't invest expecting more than 400-450 PAs today, but I think he'll be pretty good given those. Maybe .260-12 with nearly 20 steals.Absolutely <i>could</i> be better, once we have clarity on how the Rangers will use him in 2013. So yes, a sleeper. But one everyone knows, which goes against the definition of the word.

Jake (St. Louis)

Thoughts on Randall Cobb as a keeper next year? Do you think his value is significantly impacted on whether or not Green Bay resigns Greg Jennings?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

Cobb is a keeper candidate, no question, but understand that I'm expecting Jennings to head elsewhere during the offseason. That has a bearing on Cobb's value, but let's be clear: He has carved out the role as Aaron Rodgers' go-to guy, or at least one who shouldn't be any less so than, say, Jordy Nelson. He'll be in or just outside my top 10.

Marcus (Hotlanta)

BASEBALL: Would you consider Castro over Longoria as a keeper wthout limitations? Longo's injury history the past few seasons makes me nervous.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:33 AM)

I personally believe in Evan Longoria and am a fan, both in the real and fantasy game. That said, your concern is warranted, and you're perfectly entitled to decide things based upon it. Longoria's A-number-one issue is injuries. I won't deny that; I simply saw the seeds of an MVP-caliber player at the onset of 2012 -- something I predicted before the year -- and want to believe they're still there.I do have Longoria seven spaces ahead of Castro, but I'll point out that I'm still doing more research on Longoria. Good chance I could change that in the next 2-3 weeks, and I'm a believer that you keep the shortstop over the third baseman if similar in value.

Steven (NYC)

Do you have Trout #1?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

I do, but I'm getting close to changing that and going Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Trout as 1-2-3, with Matt Kemp at 4. I do much more extensive regression analysis during the offseason than I could possibly do with my end-of-season 2013 rankings (mid-September, then October update), and my findings thus far having that being the correct order.I can't find any fault with anyone who personally prefers Braun, Cabrera or Trout in any order, but I'm firmly convinced those are the top three and it's by a noticeable amount.

Dan (Seattle)

Do you expect Votto to return to MVP form this yr with a new bill of health and Choo in town?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:36 AM)

Yes I do. The only criticism -- pre-injury -- that anyone could possibly have of Joey Votto was that his home run/fly ball percentage was somewhat high, but he also plays in a ballpark conducive to home runs and is fairly consistent in the category. He's one of the most balanced-split hitters in the game, as you said, the lineup is improved, he should begin 2013 healthy and the park is great for his skills. He's my No. 6 player as rankings currently stand and I see nothing that will substantially change that. First-rounder.

Dan (Seattle)

BASEBALL- Way too early, but who will you be targeting in baseball drafts this upcoming yr? Guys that may not go in the first 3 rnds. Thanks and Happy New Yr

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:38 AM)

Three players for whom initial analysis said could be vastly undervalued: Ike Davis, Brandon Morrow, Rick Porcello (seriously! but so, so late).Paul Goldschmidt is a beast, nearly in the Giancarlo Stanton class in my opinion. Won't quite match the power output and he plays the deeper position, but Goldschmidt is also in a much better situation of the two. You'll get him a few rounds later and I say he's well worth it if you can wait on first basemen.

Tom (Manchester)

5x5 Roto, pick 5 keepers:KershawRosarioR. ZimmermanKipnisButlerKempUptonCainThanks and happy New Years!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:42 AM)

Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp are automatic.I'm also going:-- Justin Upton because he's still a kid, and one who just a calendar year ago was on a track towards a multiple-MVP career. Plus, frankly, I wouldn't be shocked to see him a Texas Ranger on Opening Day, and in that ballpark and lineup...-- Billy Butler because he's one of the more underrated sluggers in the game, a solid AVG-HR-RBI category filler, and he's first base eligible this year which helps.-- And Jason Kipnis because second base isn't the easiest to fill and he's a fairly safe 15/15 minimum in the bank.I know that I have Matt Cain ranked substantially higher than Butler or Kipnis. But if I'm keeping five players, I'm sorry, I am not keeping two pitchers. I'll roll the dice every year keeping one ace and building out the staff in the draft, thank you.

tristen (louisiana)

broncos vs packers in new orleans in the super bowl packers win it 34-28

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:44 AM)

Difficult to argue with that pick, but I'm going Broncos over Falcons.

Charles (NY)

2013 Draft Strategy. I always try and hold out on qb's as long as I can, last year got stafford in the 8th(yay!), this year Rivers in the 7th(boo). Is there any reason to think that this won't be the go-to strategy for 2013? thanks

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

I think that is totally the go-to strategy for 2013, especially in ESPN standard leagues. Let's talk some stats, shall we?-- Top QB had 337, but that was only 34 more points than the No. 5 QB had.-- The No. 10 QB (Matthew Stafford) had 263, or only 74 fewer than Drew Brees had to lead.-- Twelve QBs finished within 100 fantasy points of Brees' leading total.I look at QB and see eight players I'd positively <i>love</i> to own as my starter: Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck. Notice that that list excludes Stafford, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, any of whom I'd be fine with as a starter, especially since I could couple them with a solid lesser option (Josh Freeman not even in there!).You can be sure I won't have a single QB in my first round for 2013 for this reason, and I'll be waiting for as long as I possibly can.

Andrew Luck (Indy)

How do you feel about me in long term keeper leagues (no penalty for round)?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

Few quarterbacks I'd rather own in a keep-forever keeper league. Besides RGIII, and even in his case, I have a question I don't about Luck: Injury risk because of his style of play.

Steve (Kansas)

What are your "off top of head" projections for Brett Lawrie for 2013? Alot of hype for him going into last year that he could be next Braun. Thanks!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:53 AM)

I think my latest projection had him .280 and 20/20, but that was also assuming a DL stint, so a cap of maybe 130 games. And that feels about right, because the guy plays hard and therefore might be more susceptible to those ailments.As for the Braun comparison, I think it was always unfair, and rooted in his power/speed ability as well as the fact he was once in the Brewers organization. Lawrie isn't quite the hitter Braun was at this career phase, but he might not peak far off Braun's fantasy value, if he stays healthy.

Frank (NY)

Under any scenario do you see Larry Fitzgerald being a better keeper than AJ Green? I ask because Fitzgerald is my all time favorite player.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:54 AM)

Nope, and I say that definitively because I won't wish injury upon players and that's the only way it happens. I'm pro-Green; he's my No. 2 wide receiver heading into 2013. Fitzgerald might have a hard time cracking the top 10 even if he lands in a dreamy situation.

Tom (Manchester)

Thanks, and sorry about the formatting. Upton is the surprising one, but if he is traded I think you are right. If not it becomes a lot tougher. Thanks again!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

I'm not sure why there's so much Justin Upton hate out there -- that's not aimed at you but the baseball world at large, including the Diamondbacks who are considering trading him. In my opinion there is no smarter time to swoop in and get Upton on the cheap, either in the real or fantasy game.

Steven (NJ)

PPR league. Can keep 1 player. Brady or AJ Green? Early on I was thinking Green but now I feel like I have to ride the Brady train for at least 1 more year...he helped we win it all the past two years!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:57 AM)

Steven, I'd probably keep Green in a PPR league, because his chances at a top-five WR season in 2013 are outstanding. I stress this though: Do your research of your competition's plans at the quarterback position. You don't want to throw Tom Brady back and find that you have to overspend for a replacement in the draft, if they get picked quicker than usual in your league. I'm making this call merely under my assumption that quarterbacks won't be difficult to draft in 2013.

Dan (Seattle)

Adrian Gonzalez is OF eligible in my lg, where does he rank in your OF now and top overall consider he would be OF/1B. Bonus questions thoughts on Carl Crawford?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

He'd be 16th among my outfielders using my current rankings set, and considering those are two of the easier positions to fill, I wouldn't bump him up much in your format, maybe a spot or two in the mid-40s. He's fifth-round material in my book.You can find my current top 250 right here: <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/baseball/flb/story?page=2013_ranks_250" target="_new">http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/baseball/flb/story?page=2013_ranks_250</a>.

Bob (Ft lauderdale)

Buzzer beater......Will Boni run as much in Toronto?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:01 PM)

I don't see why he wouldn't. If the Yankees sign another weak-armed catcher -- they've been mediocre preventing steals for years now -- it'd only help, considering the division also has another weak-armed backstop in Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Drew (KC)

Have Trout in an 8tm AL keeper league. How long would you keep him $5 for 2013, $10 for 13-14, $15 for 13-15, $20 for 13-16, $25 for 13-17, $30 13-18? I'm thinking $25 for the next 5 years.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:02 PM)

I hope I am following this correctly, but you need to lock the player in for X years, each priced exactly the listed amount, no escalators? If so, I agree with you, $25 a year from 2013-17 (five seasons), though I can absolutely formulate the case that you should lock him at $30 for 2013-18. There are few stronger long-term investments out there; he's one of the very few for whom I'd say go all-in.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:03 PM)

Ok, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks everyone for your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. I'll close by wishing everyone a very happy, healthy, safe and prosperous new year! Take care.