Fantasy NFL with Christopher Harris
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com fantasy expert Christopher Harris will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest football news from a fantasy perspective.
Harris, a senior writer for ESPN.com, is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner. He wrote the noir thriller "The Big Clear."
Send your questions now and join Harris Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
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Christopher Harris (2:59 PM)
Hi, everyone. Welcome to your Wednesday afternoon chat. As always, you can find me @CHarrisESPN. If you have standard-league single-position questions, your answers are here: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=13ranksWeek12QB ... And if you're so inclined, I wrote a couple novels (www.slotbackrhapsody.com) (www.thebigclear.com). Anyway, let's get to your questions.
Jeff (Cambridge MA)
Chris - facing Peyton Manning this week in a key matchup. Would you rather start Julius Thomas (under the theory that if Peyton throws him a TD, my points will cancel out Peyton's points), or start another flex like MJD or Ivory? (Gronk is my starting TE)
Christopher Harris (3:01 PM)
Hi, Jeff. Your biggest issue is Thomas' knee. I'm hoping we get more clarity on him by the end of the week, but remember that's a night game (as if the TV would let you forget!), so you might not be able to wait. If Thomas was healthy, he'd be my choice. If you decide you can't wait because of a lack of clarity on his health, I'd pick Ivory.
Chris,I see that you have ranked MJD pretty low (28) this week against a Texans team where the wheels have officially fallen off. Many of the other rankings have him in the 10-20 range... You know where this is going... Why so low?
Christopher Harris (3:02 PM)
Hi, John. By my metrics, the Texans are taking 2.8 fantasy points away from the averages of the RBs they've faced the past five weeks. Rashad Jennings had that big Wildcat run against 'em last week, but otherwise I wouldn't say I watched that tape and thought, "Dang, they can't stop anybody!" And the larger point is: MJD just looks two steps slower than a couple years ago. So my logic is: Not as good as a matchup as you might think, and not the player he once was.
Do u feel comfortable starting Moreno and ball now that it looks more like a time share?
Christopher Harris (3:03 PM)
Hi, Tom. We talked about this on Tuesday's ep of the Fantasy Underground podcast, so if you're interested in more than I can type here, take a listen. The simple answer is: It doesn't look like a timeshare to me. Moreno had 27 carries. Now, did Ball get two goal-line looks, and might that be a problem? Sure. But 27 carries is a LOT, and Moreno was the man early and often. He's someone I still feel fine about.
Why is everyone buying back in on Colston now? Wasn't the knock that we KNEW he would have a couple big games here and there, but that there would be no way we could predict it. One big game and one decent game later, he's "back"? Color me skeptical...
Christopher Harris (3:05 PM)
Hi, Mike. I like your thought process, because I agree that one or two good games shouldn't necessarily be enough for someone to say, "I'm all in!" But I used the same logic when Colston was struggling. I wasn't giving up on him then (was consistently the highest ranker on him, etc.), and wasn't surprised that he bounced back. I think he's still the player he's been: Not a yardage guy, but a TD guy, and so prone to ebbs and flows, plus on an offense that throws it to everyone. But he's absolutely crucial to what they do, those seam routes down the middle open everything up.
Bill (Pittsburgh )
Why so high on Big Ben? Hasn't done much and has joe Hayden and the browns this week?
Christopher Harris (3:07 PM)
Hi, Bill. It's a fair question...Roethlisberger has 2 good games in his past 3, but was pretty awful mostly before that. That said, Haden doesn't in and of himself make the Browns a bad matchup for QBs. They did a good job with Dalton last week, but look at the few weeks before that...they made Flacco, Smith and Rodgers look mighty good. And more than anything, it does seem to me that they've found a way to make those o-line shards work better. But yeah, it's the first time I've had him in my top 10 this year....
Dub Storm (Austin)
What are your thoughts on Aaron Dobson in a keeper league? Chance to become a special player or do you think he is more of a fringe NFL WR?
Christopher Harris (3:09 PM)
Thanks for reading The Big Clear. Much appreciated. I like to think of Dub out there playing fantasy football, high as a kite. Let's see -- I think Dobson has potential to be a very good player. The greatest part of his allure, no question, is his QB and also his TE and the number of weapons in the middle of the field. There's room for a split end to be a beast in that offense. He's got to become a better and more consistent catcher.... Even his grabs are often bobbles. But that could come. I can see him being top 30 as soon as next year. And growth beyond that is possible.
Follow up on Dobson as a keeper - could he be within the top 100 players next year?
Christopher Harris (3:10 PM)
Hi, JB. I'd think it could be close. If he's WR30 (and I'm not sure he is), that sounds like a probable Top 100 player...
Is Lamar Miller dropable?
Christopher Harris (3:11 PM)
Hi, Dan. We're going to talk about Miller in depth on tomorrow's Fantasy Underground podcast, so again, more there in better and greater detail. In a 10-team league? Yeah, I honestly think you probably can drop him if you're scuffling for bench spots. My preference would be to hold onto him (and I'm doing so in a keeper league where he's cheap), but especially the next two weeks (CAR, NYJ), I can't see starting him at *all*.
Your pretty high on Le'Veon Bell against a stingy Browns D/ST any particular reason why?
Christopher Harris (3:13 PM)
Hi, Mike. Maybe it comes down to a lack of other options. Seriously -- you sit down with a spreadsheet and try to start finding RBs you feel good about...and the list runs out mighty quick. That said, Bell has the backfield load to himself, he gets the short yardage, and he'll catch the ball. Do I think he's "special"? (Hate that word.) No, probably not. Matchup-wise, I think the Browns vs. RB is probably about neutral. For me, all that leads to Bell as a pretty strong RB2. But please stop jumping over guys!!!
Walt White (ABQ)
You at all worried about AP ROS? If so, who would you drop for Gerhart? Ellington or Matt Ryan?
Christopher Harris (3:14 PM)
I guess his groin could be a thing. I'm not anticipating it. But he did say it bugged him last week. (I'm not that interested in what players and coaches say, though.) I wouldn't mind dropping either guy to get AP's backup. The issue, of course, is that Gerhart as a full-time back sounds...meh. I wouldn't feel great about my playoff chances in such a circumstance.
Odds on Roddy fighting his way back to WR2 status for the fantasy playoffs?
Christopher Harris (3:16 PM)
Hi, Tony. Hm. 35%? Maybe that's too low. I like the question, and I like where your head's at, but clearly we're working with imperfect information. I can say that I've felt White has looked pretty good to me in the past two games. I haven't seen too much that he hasn't been able to do. But of course, the Falcons are just a mess. Ryan was a bad call by me last week, even if he did garbage-time his way to 14 fantasy points. He was awful. Hard to say exactly what's going on there... But it's bringing everyone down. So really, the whole offense would have to get better for White to improve, and that's really what's keeping the odds low for me.
Just saw Nicks sidelined with a Groin Injury, Would you drop him for Randle at this point?
Christopher Harris (3:18 PM)
Hi, Tim. The questions are probably separate. I wouldn't think missing a Wednesday practice means a dang thing about Nicks...my guess is he'll be out there hurting fantasy owners again versus the Cowboys. (He did have a good game versus them in Week 1...but still....) Would I drop him for Randle? Meh. I know Rube has gotten a few TDs that have made things look good, but the big problem in NYC is named Eli. I have a hard time being excited starting either guy at the moment.
Is Chris Ivory safe in terms of getting a decent amount of touches every week, or do you see scenarios where they only give him 5-6 carries in a game? Not sure if I can trust him in my flex spot. Do you like him over someone like Witten this week?
Christopher Harris (3:19 PM)
Hi, Josh. Tough to predict workloads especially when that Bengals game sticks out like a sore thumb...but it was actually encouraging to see Ivory out there a bunch even when the Jets were getting waxed last week. Insofar as I'm capable of discerning such things, I'm going to believe the workload is pretty safe. Dude can get hurt, obviously, but I'm digging him. Over Witten? Humph. Tough one. I think I'd lean toward the RB, but if your gut told you otherwise, wouldn't debate too strongly.....
Ben Tate (Houston)
Chris your thoughts on me for ROS in non ppr?
Christopher Harris (3:21 PM)
I think Tate is playing well. I think he's gotta be a top-20 RB most weeks, regardless of matchup. What's disappointing, of course, is that he's not Arian Foster. So that handcuffing we all wisely did (I have my hand raised) is helping, but not helping like we hoped it might. The Texans, obviously, aren't the same offense we thought they'd be. But Tate stands out as a tough guy and a good player who just doesn't have those couple of rare qualities that make Foster a stud (not quite the same patience, not the same devastating red-zone runner).....
Zac Stacy (St. Louis)
How do you like me now?
Christopher Harris (3:22 PM)
How quickly we forget when guys go on bye. It's tough to know what was up in his final game before the bye, since the Rams were killing the Colts and his ankle might've been bothering him. I'm still super-super bullish. My film analysis on him was one of the most fun things I've done all year. I think Frank Gore is a good comp. I can't promise amazing results every week, and I would actually prefer him *not* getting 30 carries every game, because I want him to last. But yeah. Still loving.
Should I bench myself against "the Great" Joe Haden ? Start Terrance Williams or Sproles instead...PPR ?
Christopher Harris (3:24 PM)
Yeah, Haden Island in full effect, right? This is the kind of question that's hard to answer. I think we can assume Haden will be on Brown much of the day. That's been the Browns' m/o lately. But how persistent will the Steelers be forcing it to Brown? How creative are they willing to be to get it in his hands? (For instance: If Brown lines up at flanker with a slot receiver next to him, and runs a shallow cross...well, it's pretty tough for Haden to stay with him on such a route....) I'm not sure. So if you're going to consider using him, you have to be optimistic on these questions. If you'd rather avoid the whole headache, I would use Sproles. Me, I think I'd deal with the possibility of a bagel, and start Brown.
Danny (Erie, PA)
Hey, Chris, big fan of the Underground. I'm debating between Andre Brown and Alfred Morris this week (I see the rankers weren't consistent on them either). My gut tells me there'll be a divisional shootout in NJ, but I also know Morris is a lock for 20+ touches. Can you explain your ranking a little? Thanks!
Christopher Harris (3:27 PM)
Hi, Danny. Thanks for listening. (Thanks to any and all of you who listen!) Frankly, I think I'm too high on Brown. But then you look at the rest of the guys, and you think that Brown should have most of that workload for himself (minus Jacobs ruining things with vulture TDs!), and you come up with a No. 10 ranking, and feel dirty. I would use Morris. I think he's a better player, with more raw ability. But you have to admit the Cowboys are a way better matchup than the Niners. I just think Morris has been so consistent. The Redskins would have a better record if they'd stayed more committed to him in more games, IMO....
I'm sure this is way out of your radar right now but... what do you think of the keeper prospects between David Wilson and Marcus Lattimore?
Christopher Harris (3:28 PM)
Hi, DL. Yeah, but I do have opinions about these guys. I would still view Wilson as the better prospect, simply because nobody really knows what Lattimore's ability really is after that injury. I'm sure he'll be able to run. I'm sure he'll have some good moments. But is he ever going to be that crazy-explosive dude we saw in college? I have big doubts.....
Nic (San Jose)
Going off your disdain for Eli, Cruz or Andre Brown at flex this week?
Christopher Harris (3:29 PM)
Yeah, Eli has been crummy pretty consistently...and yet he usually does a pretty good job of getting Cruz involved (maybe just because Cruz is that darned good). It's a brutal decision, frankly. How would I go if I had to make it, on my own team? I think I'd play Cruz, because I believe him in a player so much. But it's a 51-49 type deal.
Your Counselor (My Office)
A bit of advice from me: Don't give such lengthy long winded answers. We appreciate your advice and insight but you could get through more questions if you shortened 'em up a bit.
Christopher Harris (3:31 PM)
I disagree, and I'll tell you why. Go back to the transcripts of other chatters who give shorter answers and see if they get to more questions. (They don't.) And short answers are not my domain. I watch a lot of film. I have nuanced opinions. If you want BLACK/WHITE, UP/DOWN, LEFT/RIGHT, I'm probably not your guy. But thanks for expressing the opinion in a constructive manner. (Seriously.)
Before my question, as a Redskins fan I can totally vouch for you on the whole correlation between a lack of sticking with Morris and the Skins record. Quick question, Welker or Vincent Jackson ROS?
Christopher Harris (3:33 PM)
Hi, Matt. Yeah, and boy, RG3 was a disaster for three quarters last week. Brutal. I don't have ROS ranks, so I'm kind of firing from the hip...I would say Welker and Jackson would be mighty close, maybe side-by-side, but I would probably have Jackson a notch higher....
Antone Smith ripped two long runs, ATL hasnt done that all year. do they give him some more work?
Christopher Harris (3:34 PM)
Hi, Eric. Well, you never put that kind of desperation move past a team that's obviously dead in the water, but it was the garbagiest of garbage time, so it should probably also be taken with a grain of salt. I'm guessing if Jason Snelling doesn't eat his weed, Smith doesn't even play offense. But yeah, I mean, super-deep league, don't mind taking the shot that it wasn't just a circumstantial thing. We'll find out for sure tomorrow night....
Thoughts on Kaepernick ROS? Can I trust him as my playoff QB?
Christopher Harris (3:36 PM)
Hi, Kyle. I wish you could. I don't. I was so high on the kid coming into the season, and we saw all his amazing qualities on display in Week 1, and have only seen them incrementally since. My answer is: I think he's been coached AWFULLY...the play-calling doesn't make sense to me. Not enough Pistol. I don't need to see him running 10 times a game, but he's best in "athlete" mode. I'm talking about misdirection, throwing on the run, the stuff we fell in love with in the playoffs. They're not running that stuff for him consistently. It's maddening. I have a feeling they're saving it, though I don't know why. But yeah, the answer is: I don't feel good about him as my guy for the playoffs. Wish I felt better.
Thoughts on Jordy Nelson ROS?
Christopher Harris (3:37 PM)
Hi, Ryan. The most obvious of my thoughts is -- he could really use Aaron Rodgers. But he was awfully tough to stop last week, too. I'm still on board with him as a top 20 WR. Just not top 10, without A-Rod.
Would an opponent's D/ST (San Fran) ever tip the scales in which position player you start (A. Morris)?
Christopher Harris (3:38 PM)
Hi, Steven. I mean, I guess if it's REALLY close, and you're looking for a tiebreaker that doesn't involve a flipped coin? But yeah, otherwise, probably not. I mean, I don't like the matchup for Morris for sure, and I understand that giving you pause. But the fact that the Niners are owned by your opponent, that probably doesn't factor.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Would you mind explaining why you have Glennon, as others do, as a top 12 ish option this week, so much higher than McCown or Tolzien? I'm even considering him over RG3, based on the matchup...
Christopher Harris (3:40 PM)
Hi, Scott. I talked about Glennon on the video that's currently posted at the top of the rankings page, so take a look there. I think the matchup is the biggest part of it...the Lions have been awfully easy for fantasy QBs to score points against. One thing you can say about Glennon is that he's been pretty consistently average as a fantasy QB, and I guess that's better than some other dudes these days. (Et tu, Matt Ryan?)
Just picked up M Bush to handcuff Forte. Would you drop C Shorts or Ellington to grab B Brown as well?
Christopher Harris (3:42 PM)
Hi, Joe. I think if last week's Eagles game proved *anything*, it's that LeSean McCoy owners should own Bryce Brown no matter what. Man, seeing Shady go down thrashing around like that was scary! Ellington would be the guy I'd drop in this case.
Diane Selwyn (?) (Los Angeles (?))
Do you see Crabtree contributing this year?
Christopher Harris (3:43 PM)
Mulholland Drive reference! (Though I have a hard time imagining that character caring too much about football...) Yeah, I think it could happen. I can't promise anything. Don't really know anything about whether he'll play Monday night, so it's probably best to let him sit on the bench at least one more week. Plus, an Achilles' on a WR can be bad news. But sure, we saw an awful lot of production from him and Kaep last year...maybe we'll get a nice surprise in December....
Scott (Los Gatos, CA)
Percy Harvin ROS is a top ___ WR?
Christopher Harris (3:44 PM)
Hi, Scott. I'll give you a range. I think it could be as low as 30. And high as 5. It depends on whether the Seahawks are interested in changing their offense for him. Let's be honest: for Harvin to get back to elite territory, the team needs to throw more than 23 times a game, probably. (Or wherever they're currently at.) But they may do that. Harvin is that good. (When he's right.)
Lumber (Grand Rapids, MI)
Nobody is talking about Keenum! Amazing matchup but he's no lock to play the whole game right?
Christopher Harris (3:46 PM)
Hi, Lumber. Here I am! Talking about Keenum! First off, we all need to stop with the knee-jerk thing that says, "Start everyone who plays against Jacksonville!" I agree that they're still a plus matchup, but they're better.... Okay, but yeah, worried about another benching, sure, plus, well, hey, listen...the kid isn't a *great* player. He's good. I'm not sure he's the starter of the future. I like him. But I think QB2 is the best he's going to be for the time being....
Kristopher H. (Canada)
I currently own Delanie Walker but someone in my league just dropped Jordan Reed (must be scared of the concussion), would you drop Walker to get Reed?
Christopher Harris (3:49 PM)
Hi, Kristopher. At this exact moment, I would not, because of the concussion. But the moment I heard that Reed would practicing this week (he didn't practice today), I'd do it in a heartbeat. But if you have another option other than Walker to be your starter this week, then I'd do it regardless, because Reed's absence shouldn't be a long-term one.
Zeke (Chicago area)
Can you give your rationally for rating RG3 at #10 this week? He's been iffy the last few weeks, he lost two of his top weapons (Reed and Hankerson), and he's playing a tough D. I was ready to play Case Keenum but you have RG3 higher. Thanks!
Christopher Harris (3:50 PM)
Hi, Zeke. As I've been saying, of course you're right that Keenum's matchup is better. If this is how your gut is leaning, honestly, you should go that way. My logic is that while RG3 hasn't thrown well from the pocket, he *has* saved himself a few times with late efforts, plus gives you that running upside. I'm just hard-pressed to get overly excited about a so-so QB in a good matchup, who just got benched. But listen, I understand playing hunches, and liking matchups, I definitely do.
Is Reed ranked low (i believe 11th among TE's) because of the concussion threat, or is that assuming he's healthy?
Christopher Harris (3:52 PM)
Hi, Matt. I assume that's why the group rank is low. You can click on my head and sort by my ranks, and see he's 5th. Obviously, I'll take him out if he winds up not being able to play. But if he goes, I think he's top five.
Nolan Weir (Pennsylvania)
Will Rashard Jennings still be a useful fantasy player even when Darren McFadden comes back?
Christopher Harris (3:53 PM)
Hi, Nolan. It's a good question. I don't want to listen to anything coaches say -- I don't think they have an incentive to be even the least bit truthful. My guess is that yes, Jennings will stay involved as the "40" side of a 60/40 split once DMC proves he's truly right and has a good game. But we're a ways away from that happening, so I feel pretty okay about Jennings at this point.
If Reed doesn't play, who is the pickup? Paulsen or Davis?
Christopher Harris (3:54 PM)
Hi, JJ. I've assumed Davis, though that would presuppose Shanny hasn't "lost" him.....
To the people of this chat, i've been burned more than once this year starting a player mainly because he was playing the Jags....cost me atleast a very important W
Christopher Harris (3:55 PM)
Hi, Mike. Yeah, listen, we have to play matchups for sure, and the Jags are giving it up to passing games (certainly did to Carson Palmer last week). But remember the game in Denver? They've found a bit of talent on that defense. Not much. But some!
So I know Ray Rice is only 26, but he's averaged (including the playoffs) roughly 350 combined touches per year. Is there a chance that the Ravens have worn him down Shaun Alexander style, or will he be a good value pick next year?
Christopher Harris (3:56 PM)
Hi, Jeff. There's a chance I've had that conversation multiple times over the past month with people here at ESPN. My guess is that he's not done. But it's possible. Where are we going to rank him for next year? Oh, good heavens. I have no bloody idea. It's not going to be fun to rank those guys next winter. So many RBs with warts on 'em now.....
Have you ever played football on a team before?
Christopher Harris (3:56 PM)
Hi, Chris. Indeed, I have. I'm a converted wide receiver. Converted into a writer, that is.
Squeaky wheel theory validity? Shorts, Dez, Wallace primed for bigger games after terrible usage?
Christopher Harris (3:58 PM)
Hi, Chris. Sometimes the S.W.T. works out well. I think Dez is a full go, because I really do believe the Cowboys *must* have watched tape and realized how uncreative the offense has been with him. I'm just not sure what the Dolphins are going to do differently with Wallace. Tannehill just doesn't seem to be able to deliver catchable balls to him deep. He's a boom-or-bust dude, so maybe he booms. Not sure it'll be because of S.W.T. And as for Shorts? It's Chad Henne. So his results may vary.
Ryan (Topeka )
Playing the top team this week and need a win. Who do you think has a better chance of blowing up? Vereen or Douglas?
Christopher Harris (4:00 PM)
Hi, Ryan. I would give Douglas the better chance to blow up, because one play like last week's garbage-time TD is always a possibility on the next snap. I trust Vereen more to get you *something*. But I would guess Harry is the higher-upside play with the bagel downside.
Christopher Harris (4:01 PM)
All right, gang. I have to go prep for the Fantasy Underground: Film Room segment, which this week will be me breaking down tape on Bobby Rainey. Thanks for being here today...and yes, I see some of your angry posts, and I apologize that you're ticked off. There's only so much I can do...we got 1,200+ posts in an hour. Try and follow me @CHarrisESPN, and also listen to the podcast...hopefully I'll touch on some of your topics... Have a great afternoon.....