Chat with Tristan Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday morning, ESPN.com fantasy expert Tristan Cockcroft will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest sporting news from a fantasy perspective.
Send your questions now and join Cockcroft Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
Need an in-depth answer to your question? Want your roster or trade offers reviewed? Get a personalized response from an ESPN expert with The Answer Guys. All questions answered within 24 hours, guaranteed. Ask your question
More Fantasy: Fantasy Home Page
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:00 AM)
Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...
Trying to seal the #1 seed going into the playoffs....will Brady be Brady....or will Sanchez have the better outing based on the holes in the Pat's secondary?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:02 AM)
I actually like both quarterbacks this week, but Tom Brady is the top-10 play, while Mark Sanchez is more of a high-end No. 2 option in a two-quarterback league (i.e. a fill-in in a standard league). Brady has a somewhat sketchy history against the Jets, but their D isn't quite as lights-out as it was a year ago, and the veteran passer is on a real roll. I'd ride this hot streak.
Is either VJAX or Lynch worth holding on to?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:03 AM)
Depends what else is out there, but if you have a clear need and see something that can instantly help, I wouldn't be afraid to shed either.
T.O. or Tolbert in a flex?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:03 AM)
It's a fantastic matchup for Mike Tolbert, but a healthy Ryan Mathews puts that backfield somewhat in question. Tolbert should get the goal-line work, but if the two split the carries, this isn't an "all-else-equal" situation. It's T.O.
How much does CJ Spillers return hurt F. Jacksons value?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
Not much. Remember, he was getting maybe five carries a game before getting hurt, and the only reason a Fred Jackson could worry about it is if the Bills merely want to give him more of a breather. Jackson's capable of 20-plus touches, though, so I see Spiller being mostly a return man.
Would you play Schaub tonight vs. Eagles... or Kitna vs. the Colts?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
Matt Schaub tonight, even with indications that Asante Samuel (hamstring) is going to play. He's questionable, it's a short week, I can't see him being 100 percent, so he might be overmatched by Andre Johnson.
rankings too close...LT or the Lawfirm?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
I usually don't invest in Patriots running backs, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been surprisingly productive the past month-plus, and that gives me some confidence in a Patriots back for once. I see more touches, and therefore he's the smarter play. Remember, Pats easier to attack in the secondary.
**ETHICS QUESTION** I have come up with a way to beat the system, just don't know if league owners will protest. My trading deadline has past, but I have #1 waiver priority. Can I make a deal with the team that has the #2 waiver priority where we would both drop a player that the other will claim essentially pulling off a trade after the dealine?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:08 AM)
I don't consider that ethical, since you're admitting you're "bending the rules" regarding the trade deadline. I'm getting a lot of "ethics" questions this week, and what I can say as a good rule of thumb: If you're a team in the thick of the race, behind a team that does what you're proposing, how would you feel?
Would you drop a Malcom Floyd, LDT, or Daily Show type of guy to handcuff your studs?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
No. I outlined in my most recent "Instant Replay" that I think handcuffs are generally overrated. Don't cut anything you could conceivably need down the stretch.
Tristan, what does "it's a short week" have to do with Asante Samuel? He did miss the last game so he's had ample time for the hamstring unless he really pulled it. He may be matched up on Andre Johnson, but because he didn't play doesn't mean that Andre won't go nuts catching passes all night. Just sayin' that "it's a short week" for Samuel has really no bearing on anything.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
"Short week" means fewer practices, e.g. fewer opportunities to test the hamstring, so the chances he's at less than 100 percent are somewhat greater. Your point is a fair one, but what I'd ask in response is, do you feel better or worse about Andre Johnson's matchup knowing that Samuel might not be his usual self? I have to think anyone would be more confident. I know I am.
would you start b.obomanu over h.ward?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:12 AM)
Hmmm, it's tempting, but I'd be more apt to do so if Mike Williams (foot) is ruled out for the Seahawks, which is certainly possible. Otherwise, I've got a good feeling about Ward; important division matchup and the Ravens' pass D isn't special.
Trying to lock up #1 and the first round bye - who are you starting: Cutler or Fitzpatrick?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
Jay Cutler. Kyle Vanden Bosch's potential absence makes it more of a plus matchup.
Which Patriots TE do you trust this week? and is there any need to hold on to Zack Miller?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
Is "trust" a fair word when it comes to Patriots tight ends? I think not, but given the choice, the best I can advise is to go with the one most involved lately: Rob Gronkowski. Of course, the unpredictability there makes neither a top-10 caliber play. But the Zach Miller point is a good one: I know he's been practicing, but that injury is a real issue for him. I've been giving him serious consideration as a drop in the leagues I have him, but I will stress those are shallow leagues. Let's say I won't call you crazy if you let him go. I'm pessimistic.
How much faith do you have in Pierre Thomas producing down the stretch? After losing Gore, Thomas now goes from a depth player to a key to my playoffs. Thanks
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
I'm not sure how anyone could be confident about Pierre Thomas, and I'll remind that I've been about as anti-Thomas as anyone for at least a month now. The impressions I get are that everyone has expected an instant return to RB2 status once he healed; well, he admitted he's maybe "90 percent" to the New Orleans papers recently. He hasn't played in, what, nine weeks? Thomas bears watching, but there's a lot in that backfield to split the chores; if he does nothing the rest of the way, I won't be surprised. Fantasy depth fodder/speculative stash, I'd say, but keep looking for more helpers.
Which tiebreaker do you prefer in a two division league - division record or most points scored?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
I don't like any tiebreaker that isn't total points, because anything else opens up the possibility of fluky results and the weaker team making the playoffs.
Will Kenny Britt return this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
Don't count on it; I expect a doubtful listing. Even if Britt plays this week, he's not going to be 100 percent, probably will play limited snaps and will have a quarterback fresh off an injury himself. But I'm optimistic about Britt; he and Kerry Collins are healing at the right time and that Titans schedule remains strong. He's still worth keeping stashed.
Could you see the Panthers making a late season run (like last year) and me actually being able to consider playing Steve Smith or J-Stew in weeks 15 and 16?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:22 AM)
It's not nearly as talented a team as that one, though, so no. As for Jonathan Stewart, Mike Goodson's recent play probably means they split the rushing chores looking forward, unless one clearly outplays the other in Week 13. I'd be looking elsewhere if I could, but there's always the chance of a favorable matchup to pluck to fill in the back ends of your lineup.
You seem to like both Sanchez and Schaub this week, I have both which would you start.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
Matt Schaub. He's just a better quarterback, to put it simply.
Which D would you rather have weeks 14-17? Chicago, SD or Atlanta? Would you hold two of them for matchups?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
I love the Atlanta Falcons defense the remainder of the year, and in my strength-of-schedule file, their schedule is the most favorable (check my recent column on the topic). To note: Week 14 @CAR, Week 15 @SEA, Week 17 vs. CAR, and the Week 13 @TB isn't bad, either. I think you could ride with them and potentially scoop up a Week 16 plug-in when the time comes; I'm no fan of wasting two roster spots on defenses if I can help it.
With MIN facing Buffalo's league-worst run defense and AP likely playing but sharing carries with Toby, is it crazy to consider starting BOTH Vikings RBs Sunday???
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
Yes. I firmly believe it will be Adrian Peterson, or it will be Toby Gerhart, but not necessarily an even split between the two. I'd wait on them and pick the guy who starts when the time arises, and use the other spot on a starter elsewhere.
True or False (Playoff Bubble)
True or False: Miles Austin becomes Kitna's primary target for the remainder of the season.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
False, because Jason Witten looks like it to me. But if what you're getting at is whether Austin's value upticks in the coming weeks, I'd agree with that assessment. I see WR2 value.
How much does Drew Stanton hurt Calvin Johnson's value going foward 9and especially this week vs. the Bears)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
Enough that he'd be a WR2 for me this week, though that's still a starter in the vast majority of leagues. (I do know of some owners who have so much wide receiver depth that Johnson is a sit, but it's not many.) Stanton's starter status is a knock on Megatron, and so is the Bears' stingy pass defense. I wouldn't expect more than 60-75 yards and I'll go slightly under 50/50 on a touchdown.
Dwight Schrute (The Office)
I'll gladly take on any challenge foolish enough to challenge me! Drop Crosby for Carpenter or Kkaeding, or does it matter?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
Doesn't really matter; figures that only Dwight Schrute would be so worried about his kickers!
Is Reggie Bush finished? I know he's playing real games, but is he done as far as fantasy is concerned? I held on to him hoping for a late season push when he was healthy, but he looked far from it last week...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
Reggie Bush's value is confined to PPR leagues, with the hopes he can help as a flex play. But that's limited value and I think you're on the right track; he's not someone I'd be upset to shed.
In regards to hancuffing...Would you keep Toby Gerhart if you already have decent RB depth or drop him for say a WR like Johnny Knox?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
There's no one-answer-fits-all; if you're Adrian Peterson's owner then this week it's smart to keep Gerhart around until you know the starter is healthy. Otherwise? Let's say you've got four running backs in my top 20 this week; I would not be worried to shed handcuffs. Depth in actual NFL starters is far more valuable than stashing handcuffs. Sorry, that's just a fact.
Contrary to what you "experts" say, Kicker questions do matter! In our league bonus points are awarded for kicks over 40-49, 50-59, etc. Why are these questions frowned upon? 15 points from a kicker versus 5 for another can make the difference in a game! C'mon Man!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
Mike, I understand your point here, but the fact of the matter is that it's impossible to predict quantity of long kicks in a given week. It's so hit-or-miss, and I could tell you this kicker or that kicker is great at long kicks, but if he never gets a shot, what value was that?
yea but how would you know if they get that kick...more speculation than say a rb question
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
Exactly. I think you stack your lineup with probabilities, not guesswork. Kickers = guesswork.
If your saying Johnson will get 70 yrds and 50/50 TD chance, would you start Sidney Rice over him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
My point was that the greatest probability -- as I just noted, it's a game of probabilities -- is that Calvin Johnson's stat line ends up in that range. Talent-wise, he's capable of more, but the chances are much more limited this week. Upside still easily beats Rice's, so no, I wouldn't use Rice.
Rick (City by the bay)
Tristan Would you be comfortable playing Jets Defense? Even though espn has them projected for -3 points?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
No. Opposing defenses average the fewest fantasy points per game against the Patriots. I'm not sitting the Jets for a bad defense -- not gonna happen for, say, the Lions -- but if I can find something with which I'm confident -- think Dolphins, for one -- I'm going with it.
What do you expect from T. Choice this week? Great matchup...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
Agreed it is, but he's a pickup-and-watch, not a start-him. Felix Jones benefits most from the matchup, and part of that is that if the Cowboys fall behind, he'll still catch passes. But I'd watch that game; if Choice gets half the carries, it'll bode well for his future prospects.
I HATE the idea of going with a Rookie QB in such a crucial week, but my brain says Bradford is my best option over Sanchez or Fitzpatrick... what says you
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
Mark Sanchez. But I do like Sam Bradford as a mid-range No. 2 option, and if your gut feeling is strong, I'd understand; I do have the two somewhat comparably ranked.
Will it bode well fro Choice if he gets half the carries and Barber comes back next week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:43 AM)
It's an opportunity, yes, and I think it'll be another week after this before Marion Barber returns. Frankly, I'm not expecting anything from Barber the rest of the way; half of that is my confidence Choice capitalizes upon this opportunity.
Long time reader, still trying to get something posted. The Law Firm or Goodson ?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:43 AM)
Lawfirm. I can't stand how that Panthers backfield has suddenly been clouded, because Mike Goodson really earned the majority of the work. Seems he won't get it, though.
How about a little fantasy baseball thrown in? Let's crank up the rookie hype machine for a second - please give me an off-the-top-of-your-head predition for Jesus Montero's stat line for 2011, including ABs if you don't mind. THANKS for chatting!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
Doesn't make the team, ends up one of those call-up-around-Memorial-Day types, most likely when Jorge Posada makes his annual DL stint, gets perhaps 250 at-bats, hits around a dozen homers, bats .270. Promising rookie year, and there's certainly upside for a lot more if he grabs the job in the spring. But I'm not ready to fully invest yet, being that his defense isn't as polished as his offense. Heck, he might be as suited to DH in 2011 as Posada.
I am finding conflicting advice / rankings. Do you like Schaub over Cassel this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
I barely prefer Matt Cassel. Favorable matchup -- only scary part about Broncos D is Champ Bailey, and it's not something to inspire great fear -- and the last time these teams met Cassel was put in an early hole and threw a ton.
Not the most exciting question, but which Miller should I go with this weekend, Zach or Heath? Thanks.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
Heath Miller, and that says a lot because I see very, very little value in him. Zach Miller doesn't belong in anyone's lineup this week, not with his injury questions. You should be looking elsewhere. Joel Dreessen perhaps?
Is tonight's game going to the shootout everyone thinks it will be?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
I think so, yes. It's hard not to, looking at the way the matchups stack up. I'd start about everyone except the defenses.
What do you think of Avant having a crazy good game tonight?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:51 AM)
I actually really liked our projection of him, which off the top of my head was something like 5-6 catches, 60 yards? It's sleeper potential, maybe a bit higher ceiling than those numbers, but if I'm speculating I'd prefer it in a PPR league. Feels like a WR3/flex in that format.
By telling John from IN to start Cassel over Schaub, does that also translate into "start Dwayne Bowe over Andre Johnson"?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
I cannot possibly believe anyone has so much wide receiver depth that he or she is going to sit either one. Heck, they're ranked one and two by our guys this week!
Obomanu...Is he worth a start over Braylon Edwards or Pierre Garcon?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:54 AM)
I'd start him over Pierre Garcon, the drop king.
Gable on Gates, or Dressen tonight?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
I'll let you decide that; the answer relies entirely on how risk-averse you are. If it was my team? I'd wait on Antonio Gates, and if I had to, just pluck Randy McMichael if Gates ends up sitting.
is nanee worth a start this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
I'm not sure that I see the appeal with Legedu Naanee. Sure, if Gates and Floyd sit, he's worth a plug-in, but otherwise I don't see him involved enough to be a great play.
Lt. Drebin (Headquarters)
Surely you will answer this. Cutler or Orton? Pick 2 of S Rice, Crabtree, and James Jones. Need a win to get in. Thanks?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
Kyle Orton for sure. He's effectively a must-start at this point, though based on where he was drafted I could imagine some owners having another solid alternative. (Cutler is not that "solid" alternative.) And I'd go Michael Crabtree (Niners might throw a ton) and Sidney Rice (better matchup than Jones).
Shouldn't Stevey Johnson be considered the "drop king?" Please pick on in a ppr (.5)- Goodson, Benson, Bradshaw, F. Jackson, or DMC.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
This past week, yes. Ugh, what a bad game, and yet, the fantasy stats weren't miserable. I've got a really good feeling about Fred Jackson; hard to explain because he, Benson, Bradshaw and DMC are fairly similar values this week. I just like his receiving ability I suppose.
Hines Ward (Pittsburgh)
You say you have a good feeling about me, but I've been dropping like a stone in your rankings. What gives?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
My rankings are today to season's end, not Week 13 alone.
Thanks for staying late.....Vernon Davis or Kevin Boss?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
Davis, but I like your thinking. Boss is a strong fill-in for most others.
ROOSTER COGBURN (Barefoot junction, TX)
Pardner,... I have to choose between Ray Rice playing them polecat Steelers or go with a timeshare in Goodson or Bradshaw. I need your advice before I go in blasting!!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:03 PM)
Is it PPR? If it is, I feel a heck of a lot better about the Ray Rice call. But I think with the Giants' backfield questions -- how much does Brandon Jacobs fit in -- I'd stick with Rice despite the matchup.
Overtime (Playoff Bound)
WR from the FA market you like the best for 14 - 16 playoffs ?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
Completely off the top of my head: Robert Meachem? Good schedule.
Romo or VJax - who has a better chance of being useful this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:07 PM)
I'd stick with Vincent Jackson, but that's a total hunch.
keeper question. Charles for a 4th rd pick, or f-jax for a 7th round?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:08 PM)
Both good, but Jamaal Charles for me. Higher upside for 2011.
Lt. Drebin (Police Squad)
Drebin: Jane what did he looke like?Jane: Caucasian, 5'8", moustache.Drebin: Thats a big moustache.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:09 PM)
I still love the Jane/Drebin scene at her apartment with the fire hose: Jane "What happened out there?" Drebin: "It's nothing to worry about. But if I were you, I wouldn't leave until they shampoo the carpets." Even if it was from the sequel; hey, I found it funny. He'll be missed...
keeper questions 2...gates 5th round or nicks 8th
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:09 PM)
Hakeem Nicks. That price is a steal. Top-10 receiver already at this stage of his career.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:10 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 best of luck in Week 13!