Fantasy Football w/Christopher Harris
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Christopher Harris (2:58 PM)
Hi, everyone. Thanks for coming to your Fantasy Football chat on a Monday afternoon. Before we get started, I'll remind you that you can friend me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/writerboy) and/or follow me on Twitter (http://www.facebook.com/thewriterboy) to get news updates and links to my columns. Let's get to your questions....
Who is the better keeper in a non-ppr league not only for this year, but long term? Meachem or Garcon
Christopher Harris (3:00 PM)
Hi, Matt. For this season only, I have Garcon much higher than Meachem, mainly because Meachem needs to bring it more consistently (and the Saints need to *throw* it to him more consistently). For the future, it's definitely closer; much of Garcon's current value stems from his situation, and it's not inconceivable that he could fall out of favor. But I probably would still say Garcon, because Peyton Manning isn't going anywhere.
Will Eddie Royal perform like he did 2 years ago?
Christopher Harris (3:02 PM)
Hi, Jon. I don't think so. He'll be playing out of the slot some, which is to his benefit. But there's a pretty big difference catching passes from Kyle Orton (and company) versus Jay Cutler. I don't really expect any Broncos receiver to be starter-worthy on a consistent basis this year, and I actually have Jabar Gaffney rated ahead of Royal right now.
Hey Chris, when are you coming with your next Top 200?
Christopher Harris (3:03 PM)
Hi, Joe. Ask and ye shall receive. It will definitely be out this afternoon. I spent Sunday re-working my ranks from the ground up...made some pretty big changes.....
How far have you dropped Moreno and do you think that the drop could potentially be an advantage for someone drafting him soon to get him in a later round (more value) or do you stay away from him now worrying about the hammy lingering?
Christopher Harris (3:04 PM)
Hi, JD. It's a good question, one I was asked when I came down to Bristol today (I'm in the bowels of ESPN as I type) -- did I want to drop Moreno in my Top 200 because of his hamstring injury? I decided not to move him yet. It's a "frayed" hamstring, which obviously doesn't sound good, but for the moment the Broncos seem convinced he'll be ready for Week 1. I reserve the right to change my mind, but for the moment Moreno is still my No. 17 RB, which is where I had him before the injury. So yes, I think he's a value play in drafts right now.
What puts guys like Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson ahead of Marquez Colston?
Christopher Harris (3:06 PM)
Hi, Jesse. It comes down to targets, plain and simple. Last year, he was 25th in the league in targets, which just didn't allow him to accumulate the total stats that the other stud guys do. I have Megatron at No. 5 and Marshall at No. 8 in my new WR ranks, and Colston at No. 12, simply because the Saints spread the ball around so much.
Will the 2010 version of Calvin Johnson be closer to the 2008 version or the 2009 version?
Christopher Harris (3:07 PM)
Hi, Roger. Wish I could say for sure, but obviously that's why they play the games. I have Megatron up at No. 5 in my current WR ranks, but I'm a little queasy about it after last year. I'm not ready to call him injury prone, but he *was* hurt a bunch last year, and he's also relying on Stafford to take a pretty big leap in his accuracy (and Nate Burleson being a viable guy opposite him). I'm a believer, I guess, but I'm also a bit jittery. There just aren't guys I'm more in love with below him in my ranks....
Does Ryan Mathews deserve to be drafted near Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Grant?
Christopher Harris (3:09 PM)
Hi, Matt. I have Mendenhall No. 10, Grant No. 13 and Mathews No. 14 on my RB list right now. So yeah, I mean, those are pretty closely grouped. Mathews figures to get a whole bunch of opportunities. If the Chargers can still throw it minus Vincent Jackson, if their o-line can stand up minus Marcus McNeill, and if the team uses Mathews anything like they did LDT near the goal line, the rookie could be in for good stuff. But as I've just outlined, there are big risks, too.... Mathews isn't a dominant player. He reminds me of Matt Forte. Jack of all trades, superstar in none....
Will Anthony Gonzalez be a good sleeper pick this year?
Christopher Harris (3:11 PM)
Hi, Mike. It depends on your league format. Right now, I have him at No. 75 on my WR list, which obviously puts him way out of sleeper territory in a 10-team league. I don't think he's going to overtake Garcon on the outside. But it's possible as camp goes along that he works his way into the mix with Austin Collie in the slot again, and that would bump him up significantly. Peyton said some nice things about him in a story in the Indy papers today, and if he's healthy, he's pretty talented. But is he really healthy?
I have Carson Palmer as my #1. How hard should I be trying to upgrade?
Christopher Harris (3:12 PM)
Hi, Mark. Well, if it were me.... to be honest, I'd never have wound up with Palmer as my #1. I'm a big doubter. I just hated how he looked last year. I don't think the T.O. acquisition changes the equation much in Cincy: this is a run-first team that needs Palmer not to lose games...I just don't know if his arm is ever going to be the same, no matter what flowery stories come out of Bengals camp. I think you should get someone else, for sure, for insurance.
Dan (Ann Arbor, MI)
I really want to draft a Bears WR in hopes of discovering fantasy gold in Martz's system. But which one will emerge? Or could there be two like Bruce and Holt were in Martz's Rams days? Who would you grab as your sleeper?
Christopher Harris (3:13 PM)
Hi, Dan. It's an interesting question, because I don't know that any of those guys are going to count as "sleepers," because I don't know that they're going to last very long -- the Martz passing game is certainly going to be fresh in people's minds. My favorite right now is Johnny Knox. I think he's the fastest of the group, but isn't just a burner. I think he makes the biggest plays in that offense.
JasonG (St. Louis, MO)
I'm REALLY high on Brent Celek due to his 2 games with Kolb last year, would drafting him as a top 5 TE this year be a mistake? Thanks
Christopher Harris (3:14 PM)
Hi, Jason. A mistake? No, I don't think so. Celek has a great comfort level with Kolb (they're roommates on the road), and as the Philly offense transitions to more of a pure West Coast attack, Celek figures to get a lot of action. That said, Jeremy Maclin should be more involved, and Cornelius Ingram might wind up playing some in two-tight-end sets. I have Celek at No. 7 on my list -- obviously, the top 5 isn't a huge leap.
Why do you have Cedric Benson above Shonn Greene in your rankings?
Christopher Harris (3:16 PM)
Hi, Steven. It's a pretty good comparison, really. Neither guy is a burner. Neither guy is a pass catcher. And both run behind very good offensive lines. My issue with Greene, then, is a lack of experience and the fact that he couldn't stay healthy last year, and was dinged up through most of his college career. Also, say what you want about Tomlinson, he's *there*, and could wind up in a valedictory TD-scoring role, whereas Benson really only has Bernard Scott as a handcuff. Benson is No. 8 on my RB list right now, and Greene is No. 12. But if Greene stays healthy and carries it, oh, 300-plus times this year? That could wind up being a shaky call, I grant you.
Are you buying Marion Barber this year? I know that Felix Jones is the "back of choice" right now, but that guy is the Donte Stallworth of rushers; phenomenal athlete, pulls up lame every 7 downs.
Christopher Harris (3:18 PM)
Hi, Matt. That's a good question. You know, a couple months ago, when I was writing our preview magazine, I was calling Felix one of my favorite sleepers. But I really didn't like hearing that he had his knee swell up like after one practice this training camp. I think I've kind of talked myself into backing off Jones as a must-draft...I think it's going to be more of an even split than I initially suspected, and that's *if* Jones can stay healthy, which as you assert, is no sure thing.
What are the chances that Vincent Jackson actually sits out the first ten games of the season?
Christopher Harris (3:19 PM)
Hi, Jeremy. That's a great question. Right now, Chargers management seems pretty entrenched. I remember when Emmitt Smith held out in the early '90s and the Cowboys seemed entrenched, then they lost a couple games and suddenly they gave in, Emmitt got his money, and the team went on to another Super Bowl. If the Chargers struggle out of the gate, I think there's a chance they give in. But I think the risk that V-Jax misses the full 10 is legit. He's outside my top 25 receivers right now as a result.
How do you see Joe Flacco performing this year in the Ravens offense? Would you consider him a top 10 option now that they have added some new weapons in Boldin and Stallworth?
Christopher Harris (3:21 PM)
Hi, Mike. Yeah, I'm pretty high on Flacco right now, and he is inside my top 10 QBs (he's No. 9 on my list at the moment). His drop off in play last year really seems related to a bad leg injury; his strong start last year seems more instructive. The better aerial weapons help. More experience helps. And his physical tools are spectacular. If there's one guy outside the "traditional" top 10 who I think could be top five when the season ends, it's Flacco.
Nick (Charlotte, NC)
What do you make of the current RB depth chart/rep order in KC? Are they slowly working Charles back in, is it a motivational ploy by Haley, or does TJ really have a chance to win the job?
Christopher Harris (3:21 PM)
Hi, Nick. Yeah, I think it's a ploy. Todd Haley did the same thing to Dwayne Bowe last year, and it's getting transparent. I think Charles will win that starting job by a mile, and wind up being by far the more valuable fantasy property. Does Jones have a *chance*? I guess. I think it's a really slim one, though.
Why do you love Michael Turner this year?
Christopher Harris (3:23 PM)
Hi, Kevin. Well, after the first four backs, I wouldn't say I "love" anyone.... But Turner just needs to stay healthy, and it seems a given that he threatens, oh, 1,300 yards and double-digit touchdowns. He's another guy who doesn't catch it much at all, so that's a limitation. But he's a TD gobbler, and I don't think his high-ankle sprain from last year means he's injury prone. I just think he got injured. Remember: many folks last year were looking for him to be the No. 1 overall pick (I had him at No. 3).
John (New Hampshire)
What's the deal with Desean Jackson? I know the back strain is listed as day to day but I have not heard anything definitive concerning the injury. Does this injury hurt his value?
Christopher Harris (3:24 PM)
Hi, John. I don't think so. The Eagles have a tendency to cart everyone off the field who's got even the slightest injury. Jackson hurt his back, but I don't think it's very bad, and I don't think it would make me shy away from drafting him. What would make me shy away from drafting him is his reliability on the big play. But I do have him at No. 11 on my receiver list.
Tom Brady (Foxboro, MA)
Assuming Welker is ready week 1- what round do you draft him?
Christopher Harris (3:25 PM)
Well, it's a great question...and it may rest on a faulty assumption...I'm not sure we'll really have any kind of actual confirmation that Welker is "ready" until we see him playing in the regular season. The Pats just don't give out information. That said, I bumped him up big time in my ranks this time around. He's up to No. 25, and No. 60 overall. In other words, as a flex in a 10-teamer, you could do worse.
kevin (warrenton, va)
What are your thoughts on Ronnie Brown this year?
Christopher Harris (3:27 PM)
Hi, Kevin. I think he's a little overlooked. He's heading into a contract year, and I think there's a misperception that he tore a knee ligament; it was actually foot surgery. He was having a great year when he got hurt last season, Ricky Williams or no Ricky Williams. The Dolphins want to run, and they'll do it most with Brown. His health is the main limiting factor in my mind....
Joe (Grand Rapids, MI)
Should Best be drafted around Pierre Thomas, Addai? Or should we be worried about Kevin Smith taking carries?
Christopher Harris (3:28 PM)
Hi, Joe. Yeah, interesting story out of Detroit this weekend, where suddenly Kevin Smith is participating way more that observers expected this early in camp. I still have a tough time believing he'll be ready to get big-league carries in Week 1, and even if he does, it doesn't seem like he'd have a RB's usual explosiveness. I have Best behind Thomas but ahead of Addai at the moment; obviously, *he's* a pretty big injury risk himself. But he's got home-run ability on turf, with a team who probably (I still think) needs to ride him.
Kyle (Columbus, OH)
Will drafting someone form an elite team hurt your chances in the playoffs if they deside to rest him?
Christopher Harris (3:30 PM)
Hi, Kyle. In theory, yes. But the question is: can you identify the elite teams right now? I can't. The Saints didn't figure to be one at this time last year. I guess the only exception to this rule is the Colts; they always seem to be in it, and they always seem to be resting players. But boy, it's tough for me *not* to draft Manning or Wayne or Clark because of a contingency that might not happen. I probably don't consider this very much when drafting.
Speaking of the Chargers, in what round do you think Malcolm Floyd should be picked (12 team league)?
Christopher Harris (3:31 PM)
Hi, Scott. It's a good question -- here's another guy whose value is kind of out of his hands; if Vincent Jackson signs, poof, there goes Floyd's value. I still have Jackson higher on my list. But I have Floyd up to No. 31 among receivers, and No. 86th overall, which would put him in the ninth round. If you really, really like his upside, and think Jackson is holding out, you can be sure to get him by taking him a round or two earlier than that.
What's your take on the DeAngelo/JStew timeshare? In reality, both guys are talented enough (~5.0 YPC for both) to be starting on every NFL team. We have to make sense of that situation. I think that Carolina runs enough to get each guy 225-250 touches (Car had 525 rushing attempts in 2009), so which do you like at their current perceived value, and why?
Christopher Harris (3:34 PM)
Hi, Matt. I like Williams more, but I think both guys are fantasy starters, pretty much for the reasons you say. The Panthers have a weak passing game helmed by inexperienced QB(s), and a road-grading offensive line (when healthy) who can lead each guy to big yards. Stewart is terrific, and maybe even a better red-zone weapon than Williams, but the way things were going last year before D-Willy got hurt, Williams was on his way to being more valuable. I expect that to happen again this year...but I'd be OK starting either one.
Steve (New Orleans)
Your thoughts on Cadillac Williams? Are his days over?
Christopher Harris (3:36 PM)
Hi, Steve. Naw. I think he's fine. I mean, he's still only, what, 28 years old, though granted his legs are beaten up enough that that's an old 28. The ankle sprain in training camp doesn't seem to be a big issue, though. I don't like anyone from that Tampa offense, really (Kellen Winslow excepted), but if I'm picking a RB there, it's Williams.
What are the question marks for Mendenhall?....even #10 RB seems too low as the only RB on a run-first team.
Christopher Harris (3:39 PM)
Well, there certainly are questions about the viability of that Steelers passing game with Big Ben sitting. Then there are o-line questions, especially with Willie Colon out for the year (I actually have a piece about him on ESPN.com right now!). True, Flozell Adams is a pretty good run blocker and Max Starks isn't terrible either, but neither guy can pass block at all. I worry there's going to be some meeting-Mendenhall-in-the-backfield madness at times. Hey, I've still got him as a No. 1 RB for fantasy. But I'd probably take guys like Gore, Steven Jackson, Benson and (yes, my personal binky) Jamaal Charles first.
Joe (Portland, OR)
How does your draft strategy change for 2qb league? Is it a must to take a qb in the first two rounds?
Christopher Harris (3:41 PM)
Hi, Joe. Good question. If it's a 10-team league, I don't think you automatically *have* to. To some extent, it depends on what goes on around you. If everyone grabs a QB, well, you might be forced to lean in that direction, because scarcity becomes an issue. That said, I hate being on the tail end of positional runs, and I think there are some very nice values in that 12 to 17 range among fantasy QBs. If I came out of this draft with, say, Henne and Vince Young? Not a disaster, especially if I've loaded up on a great players at other positions....
Big Mike (Denver)
Hi Chris. I "know" this won't help get my question answered, but you've been doing a great job with the articles. A lot of good stuff (that I hope my competition isn't reading). Thanks! Question: I know you are expecting big things from Beanie Wells this year. Where would you draft him in a typical 10-team league?
Christopher Harris (3:43 PM)
Thanks for the kind words, Mike. I do like Wells; I have him at No. 27 overall, which puts him as a third-rounder in my book in a 10-teamer. Obviously, Hightower is a drain. He's going to play. But when in doubt, I'm drafting more talented players, and I think Wells is *way* more talented than Hightower.
Fantasy Crutch Question Fantasy Football really comes down to TDs your not at all concerned with T Jones Lendell whiting or Mike Alstotting TDs. Im having trouble throwing that crutch away.
Christopher Harris (3:45 PM)
Hi, George. I'm not really asking you to throw the crutch away, I just don't want you to lean exclusively on it. Yes, there are cases where TD vultures are going to bum all of us out. My point is simply that it's rare for us to be able to predict where the vultures will come from. Could Thomas Jones really hurt Jamaal Charles's season this way? Yes. But I'm not convinced it'll happen in that case, because I think a team with Charles as its primary back is going to score some longer TDs anyway. I might be wrong, for sure. (It's happened before.) I just don't believe we can predict with great confidence who the *true* vultures will wind up being.
Workhorse RBs are becoming an extinct breed. Who are still the only ones we can count on to carry the load, aside from the obvious top 5?
Christopher Harris (3:47 PM)
Hi, Jack. It's a really good question, but of course, the answer is: we can't count on *any* of 'em, because RBs are so darned likely to get hurt. They get beaten up so badly. That said, if health isn't the issue, I think there are, oh, maybe 10 backs or so who should threaten 300 carries and be the focal point of their teams' rushing attacks. Off the top of my head: Peterson, Johnson, MJD, Rice, Turner, Gore, S. Jackson, Benson, Mendenhall, Grant, Mathews? Maybe I'm missing a couple guys. it's a dying breed.
What is your take on the Houston RB situation? I grabbed Tate late just on the off chance he emerges as the guy?
Christopher Harris (3:49 PM)
Hi, Joe. I don't think it's a terribly "off" chance. For the moment, it sounds like Arian Foster is running with the ones. But that doesn't have to last. Tate is probably a better physical specimen, and can combine size and speed in a way neither Foster nor Steve Slaton can. But yeah, Tate fell behind with a hamstring problem this spring, and needs to catch up. I give Foster the better chance of starting Week 1. But there's a long time between now and then.
Lyle (Washington, DC)
How much weight do you give strength of schedules? Should I be concerned in drafting a Giants RB that they face the Vikings, the Eagles and the Packers during the fantasy playoffs?
Christopher Harris (3:50 PM)
Hi, Lyle. This is a great question, but you know what? The truth is: I don't look at it *all* before the season starts. Heck, I don't really look at it until halfway through the season. I just don't have faith that we know who the best teams are. Sure, we have *some* suspicion. But think about this: if we'd done this exercise last year, and you'd seen your quarterback was going to play the Steelers and Giants in December, you probably wouldn't have drafted that guy, and he went on to go nuts, because those defenses really wound up struggling.
Hi Chris! Thanks for the chat. Could you give me a QB or two who are going to break out this season? Someone I could grab in the mid to late rounds and be surprised...
Christopher Harris (3:51 PM)
Hi, Jonathan. Does Flacco count as a mid-round draftee? (He's probably on the high side.) He'd probably be my favorite for a "nontraditional" breakout guy. Jason Campbell has some upside, if the Raiders figure out their o-line. Vince Young has accuracy problems, but when his legs are factored in, he's pretty consistent.
Do you think Matt Forte will end up producing like he did in his rookie year this year? Or will he be like last year?
Christopher Harris (3:53 PM)
Hi, Matt. I've come down a little bit from my anti-Forte stance of a couple months ago, and lifted him to No. 20 on my RB list. That's obviously still a far cry from his consensus top-five status from last year, and I think with good reason: his offensive line really hasn't gotten any better, and it was awful last year. Plus Chester Taylor may not be a 50-50 split guy, but he's going to play. That said, Forte has a good chance to provide some value this year. He's not as bad as he looked in '09.
Derek (Rhode Island)
Now that Chester Taylor is in Chicago, who is the Adrian Peterson crutch that we want to draft?
Christopher Harris (3:53 PM)
Hi, Derek. It sounds like Toby Gerhart is the clear handcuff to AP right now.
As a #2 WR, would Garcon or Nicks do the job
Christopher Harris (3:54 PM)
Hi, Jacob. I have them within a few spots of one another, but I have Garcon higher because I think he's got less of a playing time threat on the Colts roster. Not that Nicks is going to sit all that much, but Mario Manningham is a pretty good player, and it won't be a shock to see a few games where he steals valuable catches from Nicks.
I saw Pierre Thomas' name earlier in the chat, and it made me think about the competition he had last year. Will he be the main back this year? How many touches do you see if he can stay healthy? Thanks!
Christopher Harris (3:56 PM)
Hi, Tyler. Mike Bell is gone to Philly, so Lynell Hamilton looks like a potential short-yardage vulture, with Reggie Bush there as usual, too. I'm not putting a strategy shift past the Saints -- it's certainly not impossible they could decide it's time to ride Thomas like a workhorse (especially if other backs struggle in short yardage). But that *would* be a strategy shift. It's likelier that Thomas averages, oh, 14 or 15 touches from scrimmage per game. Which is a little annoying, really. 'Cuz he's a really good player.
Is ol' McGahee the handcuff to Rice?
Christopher Harris (3:57 PM)
Hi, Matt. Yes, though if I'm guessing, he's probably more vulture than handcuff -- he'll probably take a few TDs again. But yeah, if Rice got hurt, I have to believe they'd ride McGahee, though Le'Ron McClain is still in Baltimore, too.
Would more 3rd down snaps for ADP (since taylor is gone) be enough reason to have him overall #1 compared to CJ?
Christopher Harris (3:58 PM)
Hi, Justin. Well, it doesn't hurt. I actually wrote a rather extensive (and free) piece in support of Peterson as the No. 1 pick for the Draft Kit on ESPN.com, which you can find right now. I don't dislike Johnson at *all*. I just think he's not likely to repeat that incredible string of breakaway runs this year, at least if history is any indication. Take a look at that article and see what you think.
Christopher Harris (3:59 PM)
All right, folks. I have to get going on a pretty exciting project down here at the Bristol ESPN campus, so let me answer one more here....
how do you feel about D. Mcnaab this year?
Christopher Harris (4:00 PM)
Hi, Daniel. I think he's got upside. Kyle Shanahan's vertical offense suits his arm. But I have questions about his receiving corps after Santana Moss (Joey Galloway is apparently legitimately threatening Devin Thomas, and especially about his o-line. Donny Football had a hard time staying healthy in Philly. I think he might get the snot beaten out of him this year.
Christopher Harris (4:02 PM)
All right, gang. This was a great session -- it's the first time we've gotten back to more than 1,000 questions in an hour since the football season ended. Of course, that also meant it was less likely that you'd get your question answered, and I know that can be frustrating, and I'm sorry about that. You can friend me at Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/writerboy) and/or follow me on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/thewriterboy) and ask me questions, though I have to admit, that's caught on to such a huge extent that it's probably not going to be possible for me to answer everything there, either, though I'll do my best. Also, be on the lookout for some really cool podcasts -- the first of which I'm going to be recording with host Jon Anik this afternoon. We're going to spend a whole show on each position in your draft -- today we're talking quarterbacks. It should be meaty and in depth, and hopefully we'll answer some of your questions during the show. They'll be available for download within a day or two, and should be great fun. Thanks for coming, and I'll see you soon.