Fantasy Football with Tristan Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com fantasy expert Tristan Cockcroft will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest football news from a fantasy perspective.
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Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:01 AM)
Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...
Beer in hand (Washington, D.C.)
Turner, Thomas, SJax - pick two for this week
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:03 AM)
I've had a lot of people ask me about these specific three, and one thing I continue to stress is that Steven Jackson is a must-start, because that's a fabulous matchup. The Saints' run D has suffered lately from the injury to Sedrick Ellis, Jackson is getting 20 carries or so per game despite playing for a terrible team and the guy is a pretty safe PPR bet anyway even if you worry about the scoreboard effect. Pierre Thomas, like the guy this week, and I'm sure there will be more questions on him, but I can't use him over Michael Turner. As is, Turner's matchup is great, too, with Thomas Davis out.
Kolby Smith gets a TD against Oakland? or Mike Bell vs. STL?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
See, that's a toughie, because I'm a believer that Bell isn't the "goal-line back," per se, these days. The matchup for him might be better, but I think Smith has the slightly greater touchdown potential, because everything I hear seems to hint at him being the guy at the goal line.
Based on their matchups, would you start Harvin over Ocho?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:08 AM)
No. Don't get cute, as we like to say around here.
Neither is a good on a very good team but I have to use one of them since Schaub is on bye. Stafford or Quinn: which has a better game?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
Ugh. Matthew Stafford, I guess. At least he'll throw. Plus, it's not like the Vikings' strength defensively is in the secondary. Please don't let that come across as a ringing endorsement of the guy. I admit I'm grasping at straws here.
Brian (Rhode Island)
Who's the best fill in for Schaub this week.....Orton, Sanchize,Cassell, Alex Smith
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
"San-chise," nice. And it's a nice matchup, versus the Jaguars with the bye week's rest and therefore the extra week to prepare. Might be the one time all season I get truly excited about a Mark Sanchez matchup.
Would u feel comfortable starting Beanie @ flex this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:12 AM)
Comfortable? No. But I have strict guidelines on "comfort" in fantasy. Does he qualify as sort of a flex type? Sure. Wells might get 10 carries (forget about receiving work, he just doesn't do it all that well), and he's a solid 5.0 YPC type or thereabouts. It means a decent five points, and don't forget the touchdown upside to take him into the low double-digits. Does that excite you? Not me, but there are worse plays.
Chris (Cincy, OH)
Will LeSean McCoy start this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
Brian Westbrook's status is unclear, but he's battling both headaches and an ankle injury, so if you ask me, I'd be surprised if he starts that game. McCoy is a useful No. 2/flex, and I might bump him up from there if he's the clear starter and Westbrook is inactive (which I could sure see happening!).
Do you like the San-Chise better than Hasselbeck this week as a fill in for Schaub?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
Yes, but that's partly a product of Matt Hasselbeck's balky shoulder, not to mention his miserable performance in the last game versus the Cardinals. Oh, by the way, the game's in Arizona, so there's that, too. If Hasselbeck gets a clean, full week of practice and a glowing health report on Sunday, I'd have a hard time sitting him for Mark Sanchez, I admit. But that's asking a lot, and I do put them somewhat comparably. Today, with the doubt I have, it's Sanchez.
Raul (San Diego)
Tristan my fantasy guru...Boldin a buy low with his sweet matchups the rest of the way?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
Excellent point, Raul, as I look at the Cardinals' schedule as a dream set of matchups. So from that angle, yes, almost anyone in that offense is worth targeting at or slightly above list value. As for Anquan Boldin himself, he might be the only one I'd offer even a hint of caution about, and it's more that he's a name-value player who might cost more than his value in reality. He's a clear No. 2 to Larry Fitzgerald; he's not a top-10 wide receiver he seemed in the preseason. If you're buying him as a No. 2, sure, by all means.
Jason (Salt lake city)
Is Sims-Walker for real? which 2 to start: Burleson, D Hester, or Sims-Walker. Sims has a tough matchup but is he a must start?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
He's absolutely "for real," but he's also wildly inconsistent -- place the blame for that on his quarterback -- and therefore a guy to at least monitor his matchups. This is a poor one, and it's a road game, and the Jaguars have stunk as a pass offense on the road. Bad combination. He's the one who sits of this bunch.
I need to pick one from, Cotch, Gage or Avery for my 3 WR this week.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
That one's easily Jerricho Cotchery, for the same reasons I'm pro-Mark Sanchez.
Chris Chambers (KC, MO)
Will I be start worthy in 3 WR PPR leagues down the stretch?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
When I read that question the first thing I think is that you're asking, "Will I be start worthy every week in 3 WR PPR leagues down the stretch?" And my answer to that question is, no, absolutely not, there are going to be weeks where Chambers disappoints you. But that is a potentially pass-happy offense (look who's the coach!), opposing defenses might key on Dwayne Bowe a good share and there will be some matchups where Chambers gets my thumbs up. Add him if you wish, but I say he's a starter for you maybe half the remaining weeks or so, if that many. That has value, but it hardly means I'm raving about him.
Would you deal Brent Celek for Vernon Davis?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
Yes, but that's more a matter of who I see as the more integral cog in his team's offense.
Dan (Ann Arbor)
Defense question...who is the better sleeper this week, the Cards (vs. SEA) or the Titans (vs. BUF)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
There is simply no way that I can justify starting the Tennessee Titans defense right now. Hey, the Cardinals dominated the Seahawks last meeting.
Which one of these busted wide outs do you like more this week....Jennings or Calvin?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
Health has an impact here, as any questions with Calvin Johnson have me saying, no, no, no. But in terms of the matchups on paper, I like Megatron better of these two. Greater chance his quarterback can get him the football more frequently, but again, that is assuming the two of them are completely healthy entering the week.
Larry Johnson (NO TEAMSVILLE....)
Will I land myself a starting gig anywhere or am I just dreaming?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
Unless you land in the nation's capital, I'm going to say a strong "no." And even then...
James Jones (GB)
Am I working my way into fantasy relevance as a WR3 or even 2?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
I'm very much a James Jones fan; the upside is tremendous. That said, I try to remain realistic with him, and the problems he has are that he has a quarterback throwing him the football whose offensive line has provided practically zero protection all year, not to mention he serves a somewhat similar purpose to Greg Jennings (in terms of deep threats). What Aaron Rodgers has done this year, really, is astonishing. He has taken tons of sacks, putting himself at constant risk to get hurt, yet leads the league in fantasy points. Wow. So let's just say accounting for all that, I think Jones helps as a WR3, but probably in the "sometimes" category of the previous Chris Chambers question. Remember, when I dig deep at receiver, it's matchups first and foremost.
Is Ben matchup proof or should i start Romo against a bad Packer D?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
I'm somewhat optimistic about both of them, and would rank them somewhere in the Nos. 6-10 range. Pressed to choose, I'd go Tony Romo, if only because I think his opponent is a little shakier defensively right now.
John John (Dallas)
I have Cutler in for Schaub on bye. Do you see him having a great game again?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
"Again"? First of all, if you're referring to Jay Cutler's Week 9, that was a product of garbage time. The Cutler I know from the past month has been a real disappointment. I'll have him a borderline top 10, which makes him a fine bye-week sub, but I need to see better performance from him before I'll call any of his efforts "great."
Riaz (Berea, Ohio)
Tristan, who sits between these three? Forte, Lynch, or Betts? Thank you!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
Ladell Betts. Make him prove himself to you before you trust him as a certain fantasy starter. The Betts I saw early this year -- granted, in limited action -- did not look at all like the Betts of 2006. Heck, he was no more effective a runner than Clinton Portis, the man he'll sub for.
People, the weekly ranks are posted. No need to bother Tristan with start/sit questions.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
Unless I disagree with their opinions or you'd like my specific take on a particular matchup! Thus the point of the chat...
Eddie (LA, CA)
Do you trust Warner to make it through the season? That playoff Sched is a dream!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
If he gets the type of pass protection that he did in Week 9, then by all means yes. I'm going to say he stays healthy, and I agree with you, I love that schedule. I know it's taking a chance but the guy has been remarkably healthy for a man of his age the past year and a half.
Joe (Long Island)
Is Austin Collie healthy enought to have an impact this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
Everything I have read suggests that Collie is going to play. Though I'm not sure he makes much of an impact; consider him only a No. 3/4 wide receiver type.
Drake (Smallville, USA)
Lot of love for the JETS this week....should i play Cotchery over Housz or is that too much LOVE
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
I think they're awfully comparable plays this week, but I'm going Jerricho Cotchery. Better matchup, period.
Don (Vietnam Vet) (Houston, Texas)
What do you think of starting a healthy Bernard Berrian over a disappointing Housh? Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
I won't go that far. Berrian has been playing like the fourth target in the Vikings passing game for the past month, and that's just not enough for me to rave about his great matchup on paper.
Braylon over Burleson too?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
Kurt Warner (Phoenix)
Knock on Wood!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
My desk is made of wood. You're safe.
Am i the only one who is worried about MSW getting shut down by darrelle revis
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
Wasn't I hinting at that earlier? As I noted, I hate that matchup.
The overall rankings have Kevin Smith ahead of Jamaal Charles, but Berry thinks Charles is a better start. I'm tempted to start Charles at Oakland over Smith at Minnesota. Is this a mistake?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
Sounds like I might need to call him out on that one, eh? I like the creative thinking, but my problem with Jamaal Charles is that while I think he deserves a chance to be "the guy," it doesn't appear as if it will happen. I think he'll be lifted whenever the Chiefs get close, and that's why I'd rank him a bit lower of the two.
Jason (The D (Detroit))
Do you take TE questions?????? Keller or Heap on Monday Night?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
Sure I do! And Dustin Keller. But I admit I'm not a Todd Heap fan.
Mike (Lake Worth)
How far up the RB rankings does Tim Hightower move in a PPR league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
A few, maybe 5-8 or so in a typical week. I call him a fairly solid RB2 in that format.
steve (the OP)
Hey Tristan, do you think its worth anyone's time playing in an 8-man league where you start 2 QB's , I'm just wondering because it sounds like a waste of time to me.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
I play in a nine-team, two-quarterback league and have fun with it. Your format still starts 16 quarterbacks per week, which seems appropriate to me. I'd deepen the starting lineups at running back and wide receiver, though.
Jeff (Tallahassee, Fl)
What would you do with marion Barber?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
Uh, start him? I know you're fishing for the "trade him now" response, but I think everyone's going to give you that. Sure, I'll you that if that's what you want to hear, but let me tell you this: I'm also a Marion Barber owner and if I went around peddling him, I'm sure everything I'd get offered would be undercutting his value. There's risk, and if someone bites at high-RB2 value, go for it. Purge yourself the risk. But I doubt it's going to happen. The right answer here is probably "stick with him and cross your fingers."
Dale (New Orleans)
Flacco in an easy matchup against Cleveland over Rodgers? Am I getting too cute?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
You sure are. There's no way Aaron Rodgers is sitting for me in any league. The great Rodgers stat: Packers are on pace for a franchise record for sacks, yet he's No. 1 in fantasy scoring.
What about Witten? He's killed me all year.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
Jason Witten is a guy I actually could see your being able to get close to his draft-day value, or at least top-five tight end value. He's a name player, and his value isn't quite matching it.
I can look at the ranks and see where you come down on this for starting this week, but who has the most potential for a GOOD week, like 15 points...I'm not looking for the safest play, I'm in a position where I need to gamble a little: Fargas, Betts, Jonathan Stewart?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
Then this is a philosophical question about upside, and that's the conundrum we face each week when doing our ranks and projections. A projection locks you into a statistical expectation and offers no wiggle room for boom-or-bust potential. Rankings effectively do the same, though they account for the player's upside. But I think we could all agree that if I ranked Ladell Betts, say, 21st at running back, well, the guy could be a borderline top-10 candidate in the best-case scenario. He's got the strongest chance of these guys, with the possible exception that Jonathan Stewart gets two miracle goal-line carries and pokes them in (which I'm not calling all that likely). Follow? Betts has the upside, and it's mostly about the touches.
Keeper Question: After a disappointing season so far for my fantasy team, I am looking to rebuild with some end of the season trades. As of right now, which players do you project as first round talent that were not typically first rounders in this year's draft?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
Hmmm. Ronnie Brown -- boy was I wrong on him. Cedric Benson, scary to say, is starting to build a case, though I don't think I'd want to be paying that kind of value to get him on a keeper team. Ray Rice at his current pace might be a borderline case.
hey tristan - you see maroney having any success against the colts
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
Sure, some. Let's say in the No. 2/flex option class.
In 2010, who is the primary RB in Philly; BWB or McCoy?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
How the rest of the season plays out will obviously have an impact, but the way I see it, right now we're strolling comfortably down the avenue to LeSean McCoy being the guy.
Philosophical dilemma!!! I got TJ Housh going against my own defense in Arizona. Should I switch to another like KC? How do you feel about playing a guy against your own defense? Best to avoid?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
It depends how your defense is scored in terms of yards and touchdowns, and if it's PPR. Here's a good way to put it: I'd start both T.J. Houshmandzadeh and the Cardinals defense if it's a PPR league where your defense isn't scored by yards allowed. I wouldn't give it a second thought. If you're banking on a Housh touchdown and lose points for every point the Cardinals D allows, then I'd avoid it. And it's a sliding scale in between those ends of the spectrum. In general I try to avoid these things when I can, but I also am not about to overhaul my roster in order to avoid it if I can't. I have a feeling the majority of people cannot avoid this, and shouldn't sweat it.
Joe (Washington DC)
Is Rashard Mendenhall about to turn into a #1RB?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
No, if only because of the more pass-heavy approach in Pittsburgh this season. That said, I'm supremely confident in Mendenhall's ability to be a mid-to-high RB2 looking forward.
Charlie (Lake Havasu City)
bye week conundrum...start Garrard or Freeman this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:03 PM)
Gross. (Sorry, just my initial reaction, don't like either option.) David Garrard has the track record, Josh Freeman the matchup. I really advise you pick which side you feel more comfortable with. To be completely honest with you, I think I'd just roll the dice on Freeman, total boom- (OK, quasi-boom) or-bust play or not.
Have you ever participated in a 'points' type league where everybody plays everybody each week? If so, what format do you prefer? In our league many of the highest scoring teams are at the bottom of the rankings and I am thinking about changing things up next year to try and eliminate a bit of the 'luck' factor!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
I play in a points league where there is no head-to-head. Such are the problems with the H2H format. Luck takes effect. You can score the most points in your league and be a .500 team. Just the way it goes. Interestingly, I have tried to pitch a couple of my leagues on having a ranked system where the top team in points for the week gets, say, 12 points (in a 12-team format), worst team gets one, and you have a "win-loss" record that way. But no one has ever bought it -- they say things like "any given Sunday" -- and yet at year's end they'll complain to no end about how they "had the third-most points but finished in seventh."
Where does CHRIS JOHNSON fall out in your now-to-year-end RB rankings? He has a great upcoming schedule, especially in weeks 13-16. Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
Easily top five. I can't say it more succinctly than that.
Bryan (New Orleans)
Flex help plaease! LT2 or Hester?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
I'm going to take a shot on Devin Hester this week. Why not? I'm so anti-LaDainian Tomlinson at this point. He looks on the verge of done to me -- and I'd say "done" if not for the fact the Chargers are still stupidly handing him starter's touches.
What backup RB's are best for the playoff push: starters on bad teams (J. Charles), backups with upside (lccoy, greene), or part time players (b. wells, C. taylor)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:09 PM)
That is an extremely difficult question to give a cut-and-dry answer to, because it really depends on the specific player. That said, one very good point you're hitting on by asking it is that I firmly believe that the closer you get to the fantasy playoffs, the greater the value of handcuffing your starters. Look at it like this: You have a starter who's productive, so that probably means that in addition to him being a worthy talent, his team has greatly contributed to his performing at a high level. OK, now let's say this Sunday the guy tears his ACL, is done for the year. Wouldn't you be ruined if you didn't have that player from the productive offense who's going to step in now as a starter? It's a risk I can't take as we get into the double-digit numbered weeks.
Future Mrs. Cockcroft ((hopefully))
TRADE HELP PLEASE!!!!: Literally Just got offered P.Thomas and S.Rice for B.Marshall. Take it? I could get Breaston, R.Williams, or possibly Jennings instead of Rice too. I need an RB bad.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:10 PM)
The current Mrs. Cockcroft might not be happy to hear your hopes, sorry to say. But I'll still answer your question: Yes, I would make the deal, but if I had any chance at getting Greg Jennings in place of Sidney Rice, I would do it. I'm still too much a Jennings believer -- partly because he's got a phenomenal quarterback throwing to him -- to doubt he can't be a good play the rest of the way.
Follow-up: CHRIS JOHNSON or AP for the rest of the season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:11 PM)
Adrian Peterson. Team, team, team. That's all that is making that decision.
Jack Bauer (New York???)
I'm conscious, but YOU ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!!! 2 things: Thoughts on the new trailer (we've come full circle now, eh?) and what's for lunch???
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:12 PM)
I won't spoil anyone because I know some people don't even like watching trailers or previews, but yeah, I liked it. Then again, Jack Bauer could be wearing a space suit and juggling coconuts on Mars and I'd probably like the trailer. Good question on lunch -- smells like there might be some sort of parmigiana-related sandwich a-cookin'...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:13 PM)
Speaking of which, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all of your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Best of luck to you in your Week 10 matchups! Take care...