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December 9, 3:00 PM ET
Fantasy Sports with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:01 PM)

Good afternoon everyone! Here's hoping you're all in the thick of the fantasy football championship hunt, but worry not, if you're not, feel free to ask your fantasy baseball questions for this next hour. Let's get started, who's got a question?

Joe (Las Vegas)

Need to replace Welker this week; can I trust Crabtree to be a fill in?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:02 PM)

Michael Crabtree is the most likely to draw Darrelle Revis in coverage, as Revis traditionally doesn't stick to the slot man -- that's Anquan Boldin for the 49ers -- so keep that in mind as a knock on the matchup. I'll probably have Crabtree ranked solidly in the WR4 class. Maybe you can do better.

Cory (Binghamton, NY)

Down by 60 he has Murray left. I have Forte, Witten and Jeffery, and either Romo or McCown, which QB do i roll with?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:03 PM)

Would you believe that I had Josh McCown ranked higher? Yes, I'm that impressed by what he has done and I am that much in favor of the matchup. Frankly, I like 'em both -- always did as top-10 options at the position -- but it's McCown for the higher ceiling.

Jonathan (Dallas)

How important is WR depth during the fantasy playoffs? I am concerned that I only have Dez and J. Gordon, with R. Randle on the bench. Rosters are locked at this point.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:04 PM)

It's important but mostly from the risk-of-injury, picking-and-choosing-of-matchups angles. I usually suggest as many as five wideouts in a start-three league; unless your starters are tremendous I'd go with that many in a 10-team league too.

Scott (ohio)

Any word on Reggie Bush ? My back up is Woodhead and he plays Thursday.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:05 PM)

No, and we might not get word even in time for the 1 p.m. Sunday kickoffs. How I could see this week progressing: Bush sits out every practice but the last one (Saturday, I believe), it's a limited appearance and he earns a questionable tag. And that's going to be awfully risky if your only alternative is a Thursday player. I would <i>not</I> risk it without some clear word Bush will play.

Rod (NJ)

If Reggie is questionable all week and a GTD, but is then active on Monday night, would you go with him or Joique? Or would you avoid the situation altogether and play M. Ball on Thursday Night?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:07 PM)

<i>If</i> you own both, I'd wait to see how it plays out. That might be the only way I wait, though. Montee Ball's role has expanded, yes, but a lot of it is still tied to garbage time, and I don't see enough there even in the short week to use him over either one of the Lions. And if Bush is active, barring definitive word that he'll be playing in a limited role, I think he's the one you want because he'll lead in touches.

Kansas City (D)

IM BACK BABY!!!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:07 PM)

Buuuuuut... you're playing directly into the hands of your schedule. Isn't this what we have been saying all year?

Tom (Chicago)

L.Green or Pitta in a ppr league?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:08 PM)

If it's PPR then it's Dennis Pitta.

Alex (Milwaukee)

What's up with only one catch for Torrey Smith in a juicy matchup with the Vikes? Should I be worried for next week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:10 PM)

Credit Xavier Rhodes with a good game, and leave it at that. Just the way this goes sometimes. If there are takeaways, and both of these are minor: The Vikings might have enough in Rhodes (if healthy for coming games) to be able to contain opponents with only reliable wide receiver, and Smith unfortunately could fall victim to future games like this.

Brian (Kentucky)

Who is the best pick up to replace Gronk?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:12 PM)

Dennis Pitta, Delanie Walker (he has a chance to be cleared today), Heath Miller, Garrett Graham... it really depends upon what's available in your league. Those are just a few. Charles Clay is available in a few!

Houston we have a problem (H Town)

Roll with Tate in week 15 or play Ray Rice? PPR

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:13 PM)

Ben Tate, but that's mostly because I don't like Ray Rice's matchup at all.

Austin (D.C.)

Is Gerhart still a good pick-up for non-AD owners with news that Peterson has just a sprain not a lisfranc?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:14 PM)

Absolutely. He'd be my No. 1 pickup of the week, being that the news still provides us no guarantee that Peterson plays this week.

Jake (FL)

Jordan Cameron had 9 catches on 9 targets for 121 yards...hellooo Browns there's only 2 guys on your team you should be throwing to. Don't let him disappear again

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:15 PM)

I do wonder whether Josh Gordon's recent explosion might have future defenses keying a little more on him, and opening up the shorter routes for Cameron. It's a possibility; I maintain that <i>skills-wise</i>, Cameron makes a compelling weekly case for top-10 status. Draw that line at 10 and let the matchups drive the decision.

Nick (Chicago)

Is Vereen a top 10 back from here on out?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:16 PM)

If it's PPR. In standard leagues, he'll have a good shot at it. It's my opinion that he'll get a bit more play in the red zone as a result of Rob Gronkowski's injury, and his schedule doesn't really have a scary matchup remaining.

Jeff (DC)

Gerhart also apprears to be somewhat hurt. Still #1 pickup this week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:17 PM)

Still the No. 1 pickup. It's a hamstring "tweak," which could be minor and a non-issue if he checks in with a Wednesday practice, and I'm still betting that his odds of playing are <i>much</i> higher than Adrian Peterson's. And it's an Eagles matchup, that's above-average at least.

Karen S. (Aptos)

Happy Monday Tristan! Are you a believer in "run with the players who brought you there" even in the playoffs? I have been playing FJack &#x26; SJax, while Montee

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:21 PM)

Reuben Randle and Bobby Rainey helped me get one team into the playoffs, and believe me, I wasn't about to use them this week; I initially had Marcel Reece ahead of Rainey before Reggie Bush's inactive status forced me to switch Rainey in for Bush. So, no, by the literal definition, "run with the players who got you here," isn't the right play.The <i>right</i> play is to trust your studs over your matchups, but after that group when things are close, feel free to let matchups drive it. For example, in my leagues that start three wide receiver, if I have two studs and a couple WR2/3 types, I'm using the two studs and using the matchups to decide the rest.

Roy (Halladay)

Am I getting into the Hall first ballot? Ever? Those voters who only look at wins and rings can hurt ya sometimes.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:22 PM)

I think it's a worthy debate at least from casual glance, and if I guessed today, I'd think Halladay gets in but on a later vote than first ballot; he might be one of those eighth-year types. Right now, I'd lean more towards voting for him than not, if I had a vote.

Jeffrey (Tampa)

Can you look into the future and predict a good D for week 16 that may be available? I'm looking at CLE vs. the Jets, but I got Oakland last week and got burned. Or is Carolina against the Saints a better option than any?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:23 PM)

I can say today that I'd use the Browns over the Panthers in Week 16. I'm only going to be slightly more willing to use the Panthers D/ST in that week than I was entering this.

Chad (Macon)

How much of a hit does Brady take with Gronk out? Would you start Matt Ryan vs. the Redskins over Brady this weekend?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:25 PM)

He'll take a bit of a hit, being that A) Gronkowski was his top red-zone weapon, and B) he didn't perform especially well in weeks Gronkowski was absent earlier this year. But having healthy Amendola, Edelman <i>and</i> Vereen mitigates it a bit, so long as they can all stay healthy that is.For Week 15, I'm keeping Brady in there over Ryan, at least as things stand pre-stats analysis, as Brady does have that tremendous history against the Dolphins.

Tyler (Louisville, KY)

Any chance DeMarco Murray scores less than 8 pts. tonight?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:26 PM)

Well sure there is! Though I'd say he's got a good shot at least that many so long as he doesn't get hurt.

Bill Belichick (New England)

I knew we should have held on to Sudfeld....

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:27 PM)

But Sudfeld didn't do <i>anything</i> when he was there the first couple weeks of the season (or was it one game, I forget, but it was an awful performance considering the expectations coming into the year)...

Alex(CA) [via mobile]

Hi Tristan. I asked you on Twitter to rank Heyward, Sano, Segura, Hosmer, Harvey, and Zunino in a dynasty leagye. I traded the first 3 for the latter 3, mainly for Hosmer and Harvey, with Zunino as depth. I'm a few years from seriously contending, and was wondering if you'd share your thoughts on the trade. Thanks!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:29 PM)

It's an overpay in my opinion, if only because I don't like trading for pitchers who <i>just</i> had a Tommy John surgery; you're going to be waiting awhile and it presents no guarantee of a complete return to form. That said, Hosmer is the best name in the deal. But if it was me, I'd have resisted including Sano. I'm a huge Sano fan. Legit power.

Mike(San Diego) [via mobile]

Is Gronk now to football what Tulo is to baseball?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:29 PM)

Hey... I kinda like that! Positional scarcity and all!

Mark (Houston)

RG3: He hadn't been lights out like last year, but he did still have some big fantasy games this year. However Shanahan being Shanahan makes it impossible to trust him for the playoffs. Best option going forward: Alex Smith, Big Ben, or McCown/Cutler?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:30 PM)

I think it's the Bears duo, and if McCown steps up with another big game tonight, I think a legitimate argument can be made that he deserves to start for the rest of the year.

Dan (NYC)

Nice job on the podcast today, Turk. My keeper running backs aren't looking so hot anymore. Do you foresee Ray Rice or Frank Gore being in your top 25 at the position next year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:33 PM)

Thanks, Dan. I think there's a chance of it for both, but in Rice's case I'm going to want to do a little career-workload analysis before I'm prepared to rank him much higher than that. As for Frank Gore, he's got the O-line really making his case, but does it stay the same in 2014? (I haven't checked the contract status, to be honest.) At his age, and knowing my history of shying from running backs past 30 years old, I'd have Gore beneath Rice, most likely, and I'd guess today that they're maybe 20 and 22.

Mike (NY)

So much for Ladarius Green...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:34 PM)

Watch him bounce back this week. Better matchup for him. But it's always been true that he's the No. 2 tight end on his team, and more of a dynasty/keeper than redraft prospect.

vic (no cal)

Your thoughts on Brent Celek giving up a sure TD, which likely cost me my fantasy season?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:35 PM)

I didn't see the play live, to be honest, but from every account I've read of it, smart play. Just the way it goes. We have no right to expect players to pad their numbers for our purposes when a team win is their one and only goal.

Cade (North Carolina)

Do you like the Colts defense vs. Houston this weekend?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:36 PM)

No, but most of that is just concern that the Colts defense really is not very good, particularly against the pass. It's one of the best there is for opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers ... and the Texans have Andre Johnson.

Matt (Chicago)

Top streaming defenses for week 15?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:38 PM)

I'd be tempted by the Falcons, even though I don't think they're very good. That it's a home game helps. I'd nominate the Eagles, actually. Better defensive play lately and, while I like Toby Gerhart, he's an unquestionable downgrade from Adrian Peterson skills-wise. I might also go Bills, or Saints. Not the best week for streaming, I'll admit.

Jake (SF)

Do you think Welker has a chance at playing week 16?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:39 PM)

Nonzero, yes. But considering there's a league protocol for concussions, and only three days between games, I'd estimate Wes Welker's chances at <i>extremely</i> low of playing this week. Another thing to consider: The Broncos are so rich in talent and already playoff-bound, they have no reason to push a player even slightly hurt.

Johno (Chicago)

If I could piggy back on streaming def question W15... do you consider zona to be a stream as part of your answer?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:42 PM)

Uh, when we wake up tomorrow morning, we're going to see the Cardinals D/ST fourth in the league in fantasy scoring. They can't be called a streaming option; there's a <i>sure</i> play against the Titans.

Moose (Alabama)

Celek didn't cost you your season. You relying on a low end TE to make 4th quarter TDs lost you your season.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:43 PM)

I think it's in reference to Nick Foles' stat line. But Foles' fantasy owners shouldn't complain about that performance considering the weather conditions; he's an absolute magician, as I said on the podcast today.

Tom (Calif)

Thoughts on DaRick Rogers? Would you play him over the likes of Cecil Shorts against Buf?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:44 PM)

I haven't done extensive scouting of Rogers, just to point out, but I do think he's an interesting keeper/dynasty prospect. One game isn't going to put him on a fantasy-playoffs map for me, though. Shall we all recall the tale of Marvin Jones?

Justin (Maine)

Machado, Hosmer, or Marte for 4 yr keeper? Concerned about Machado's numbers/injury. Thanks!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:46 PM)

I understand that concern, but all reports thus far have been positive and Manny Machado's ceiling, simply put, is the highest of this bunch. At worst, you're punting two months' time in exchange for 10 years of superior numbers. I think it's a chance you need take. And this is coming from an Eric Hosmer fan, bear in mind.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:46 PM)

I must say, I'm quite impressed by the volume of fantasy football questions today. Means you're all in the playoff hunt. Very pleased to hear it!

Marvin Jones (Cinci)

Tell me the tale!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:47 PM)

Big 36-point day, everyone hopped aboard, seven points in his next four games combined. If you're not the go-to guy in your offense -- and I'll toss on the pile that Rogers' upcoming schedule is brutal -- you're subject to hit-and-miss outputs such as this. There's a learning curve.

Josh Gordon's Value (Keeper Leagues)

Where do you expect Josh Gordon to rank in next year's preseason ranks. What about in 5 years?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:49 PM)

He's top eight, minimum. I need to see where he's playing, and if it's in Cleveland, whether additional talent is added to surround him. I can make a top-five case.As for the long haul, no idea, but I'd bet on him being a top-12 receiver for the next five years, each of those years I mean. The reason for the conservative estimate is the year-over-year fluctuation at the position; I tend to build in a 1-2 year span at wide receiver, where I might attempt to build around quarterback or running back from more of a 3-5 year range.

Eric (Chicago)

What do you tell the people who were on board of the Marvin Jones non-hype train and picked him up and were rewarded with the 4 TD performance?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:51 PM)

Well done, you saw lower-tier talent in a player who had a meaty part of his schedule (at the time) and exploited it, but there is no chance you expected even half that point total in that week.

Tim (Illinois)

Seems like Francisco Liriano is getting no love in the rankings. We waited all last year for him to come back down to earth but he was a legit Cy young candidate. What gives?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:53 PM)

Totally honest: I can't trust the guy. I've done analysis on him, he does look, at this stage, skills-wise to be roughly the equivalent at any of the past high points of his career (and I'd say there were two such comparable points). But my notes also say, "When has this guy ever done something like this for a <i>complete</i> season, let alone more than four months?" Until I can get that answer, I just think it's dangerous to invest SP1/2 value (think top-25 starter) in him on draft day.Keep him if you've got him in a dynasty format, but I'm not going to be the guy who bids him into the top tiers at his position.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:53 PM)

And I admit that maybe that's unfair, but I don't play that risky.

Mke (SCRANTON)

ESPN said that Antonio Brown's lateral was an illegal forward pass. Shouldn't they do a stat correction??

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:54 PM)

Whether a play was legal or not isn't the issue; it's what's credited in the box score/stats. Live scoring is unofficial and I'm sure that if those stats need to be corrected then they will be.

Ben (Charlotte)

should i be confident about starting keenan allen on a thursday night, provided his shoulder is ok?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:55 PM)

Yes. By all means yes. WR2 for sure, and it's a plus matchup.

Giovani Bernard (Get Out BJGE!)

Where would Giovani be ranked next year if the Law Firm is out of the picture?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:55 PM)

I think on raw talent, he'd be in my top 10, but it's extremely difficult to slot him there today. We shall see!

Chuck (NJ)

BASEBALL: Keep three: W. Myers, J. Fernandez, G. Cole, S. Miller. All three pitchers have big upside going forward but pitching is very deep. Thoughts?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:58 PM)

I'd probably keep Miller to the sidelines, if only because I think his peak years won't be quite what Fernandez's or Cole's will be.

james (frozen tundra mn)

Bryant or jeffery? Thank you sir.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (4:00 PM)

I'm going Alshon Jeffery and I might be the only one who will. But his chemistry with Josh McCown has been great, and the matchup is a favorable one. Bryant's is, too, but I've just got a little more fear that the Cowboys will go to the run when they're in scoring position.

JJ (MPLS)

Better career in a vaccum (fantasy purposes of course) - Sano or Taveras?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (4:02 PM)

Wow is that an interesting one. I tend to prefer the power bat, so I'd now say Sano, but I think he leans a little more risk/reward of the two, where I think Oscar Taveras's downside isn't as great.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (4:02 PM)

Ok, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone, and don't forget, you can always ask me more questions via Twitter (@SultanofStat) or Facebook (/SultanofStat).