Will Carroll, whose football work can be read in the Rotowire Fantasy Football Magazine and at Football Outsiders, checks in to talk about last-minute injury news in the NFL, and to help you set your fantasy lineups.
Will Carroll (Football): We're just over an hour from kickoff, though we'll get a late start here in Indy. I've got my Last Minute Med Check up over at SI and we're doing updates as well, so let's do some chatting and some fantasy football winning.
Dave T (Chicago): Assuming that Jamal Lewis does play today, how likely is it that he'll be effective?
Will Carroll (Football): Very unlikely. He's facing a tough run D in the Big D and there's some question about the passing game with Derek Anderson still showing some effects of his big concussion. I think Lewis will be a good fantasy RB, just not this week.
Greg S. (SCU): In a dynasty league, would you rather own Tony Romo or Drew Brees? I just took over a team with Romo at the helm. I figure that, with the Cowboys' unsustainable astounding health and an aging T.O., I'd rather go with Brees. He may be a year older, but his team isn't in line for any huge regressions to the mean as far as health goes, and he has a budding corps of young WR talent, not to mention the arrival of Shockey. If you could trade Romo for Brees and a first-round (or even second-round) rookie draft pick in a dynasty league, would you do it?
Will Carroll (Football): Keeper leagues are tough to gauge. Are you wanting a guy for the next year, two years, or five years? Romo and Brees are rough equivalents this year and Romo's the clear pick for five years, but in between's a bit hazy. Owens is aging chronologically and won't play forever, but do you see a dropoff? Even if he steps aside, Jerry Jones is not going to open his palace in Arlington without a top flight WR. I'll take Romo, slightly.
ejr (DC): Should I start Jeff Garcia against one of the worse secondaries in the league (NO), or David Garrard against TEN? Also, is Garcia's injury status some thing to worry about?
Will Carroll (Football): Not too worried about Garcia. He's got a solid line in front of him, even with Davin Joseph out, plus he scrambles well. On a fantasy basis, I'll take Garcia. Garrard is facing what Peter King is calling a "slobberknocker" of a division game today, so points will be hard to come by and the Jags seem very committed to more of a power game, esp with Jerry Porter out.
hanjna (NYC): will, i know youre expertise is injuries, but can you lend some insight as to why mcfaddens KUBIAK projection is so favorable, given that adrian petersons projection from 07 was significantly lower? thanks, and keep up the good work
Will Carroll (Football): First, the system was adjusted to account for some of the shortfalls. Aaron Schatz is always working to improve. The biggest thing I see was that Peterson exploded despite a timeshare. You should also check out the Speed Score article in this year's PFP.
oira61 (san francisco): Will: I'm a baseball fan and I don't follow the NFL. Can you please explain the salary system? I'll read, for example, that a guy has signed a $40 million contract, but then the team can get out of paying him if they release him. What does a contract mean in the NFL? This is not a sarcastic question, I really don't understand it. Thanks.
Will Carroll (Football): Salary caps are a mess, so let's ignore that and focus on the nature of contracts in the NFL. Contracts are not guaranteed, meaning a team can cut a player at certain points in the season and simply walk away. The player is a free agent, but unlike in baseball, he's not going to get the money. This is often an acknowledged thing, allowing a team to game the salary cap a bit. What you have to look for is guaranteed money, usually in the form of an upfront (signing) bonus.
A good example is Jared Allen, who signed with the Vikings after being traded. His six year contract is *not* going to go six years. It's a six year, $72m deal that Wikipedia breaks down as "Allen is due an $8 million roster bonus in 2010 per the six-year, $72.36 million contract he signed with the Vikings. The bonus is guaranteed for injury only. Allen's signing bonus is $15.5 million. His base salaries are: $750,000 (2008), $7.75 million (2009), $6.38 million (2010), $8,979,438 (2011), $11,619,850 (2012), and $14,280,612 (2013)."
Basically, it's a three year deal with a big upfront bonus and minimum salary in '08, then league average (franchise tag) salaries in the next two years, then a big bonus + salary that will likely push the team to renegotiate or cut Allen in '11. Make sense, or at least more sense?
ahaldar (Atlanta, GA): I had Lav Coles and Cotcherry as backup WR's, and traded Cotch for Fred Taylor. Should I regret the move or will Coles be healthy and productive?
Will Carroll (Football): Coles *is* going to play today, but I wouldn't start him. Depending on how deep those two were - I'm guessing by backup you mean WR3 and WR4 on your roster - then you must have a really nice WR1 and WR2. I need more context but I don't hate that trade on the surface. Cotchery is a bit too highly regarded right now. If Favre turns him into Sharpe/Freeman/Driver, sure, you'll regret it a bit.
RedSoxWoo77 (Plymouth, MA): Hi Will, How much do you think that Hasselbeck's back going to affect his production this week? I'm planning on starting Jeff Garcia over him (Aaron Rodgers is on my bench, as well) right now. Thanks.
Will Carroll (Football): Not as much as his near complete lack of supporting cast will. Jordan Kent? Courtney Taylor? Mo Morris? (Ok, Morris is likely to at least be productive, if Holmgren doesn't go crazy with the RBBC.)
Zach (Amherst): Hey Will - Thanks for the chat! Assuming that Joey Galloway is going to play with his groin injury, how effective do you think he'll be this week at New Orleans?
Will Carroll (Football): I like him. NO's weakness is their coverage and they've had a very odd week with Gustav and travel.
JoshEngleman (Tamaqua, PA): Standard ESPN league. Two questions. Santonio Holmes, Wes Welker, Nate Burleson and Greg Jennings. I can start 3. Who is the odd man out? Also, Jags or Bears D today? My thoughts are Jennings and the Bears D hit the bench.
Will Carroll (Football): I'd bench Burleson. Yes, he's the only healthy SEA WR, but he's the ONLY healthy SEA WR -- who do you think they'll be covering? I'd take the Jags in a low scoring game over the Bears taking on a healthy Indy offense (tho I'll hedge a bit and say Jeff Saturday's absence could be HUGE.)
tlowell5 (San Antonio): Did Tom Brady (and the Pats) fake the whole foot injury thing to keep him healthy until the Chiefs game, which is essentially a pre-season caliber game anyway? Seems like a smart move if they get away with it.
Will Carroll (Football): Fake? No. That said, no one is sure how significant the injury really was/is. Bruise? Fracture? What counts are results and Brady will provide.
Matu99 (Victorville, CA): Hey Will, would you start Jerious Norwood or Chris Johnson this week?
Will Carroll (Football): If we could take coaches at their word, it's easy ... Johnson's going to get about half the carries and if so, he'll have about half the SportsCenter highlights. (Felix Jones will have the other half.) Norwood is very, very good, but we have no idea what Michael Turner will do as a feature back or where the Falcons coaching staff might trend on touches.
jarjets89 (NJ): How high is chris perry's ceiling?
Will Carroll (Football): Not that high. Lots of rumors of Shaun Alexander to the Bengals and he's lost out to Kenny Watson for the start.
Brian (Houston TX): Hey Will how much should i be worried about mcgahee's knee today, I have Forte on my bench. I should start Willis right?
Will Carroll (Football): No, at best McGahee will share carries with Ray Rice. I'd go Forte. Indy's version of the Tampa-2 almost never puts 8 in the box, though I'm sure Forte will be welcomed to the NFL in a way only Bob Sanders can do.
Greg S. (SCU): Hey there Will. I'm the one who asked about the dynasty league trade between Romo and Brees. What would your thoughts be on Romo for Roethlisberger instead? He's younger, though the team seems to be headed in the wrong direction.
Will Carroll (Football): Umm, no. Not a big fan. I'd rather have Brees. If you're thinking long term, the only "young" QB I like better than Romo that might be available is Eli Manning. (Yes, Eli Manning) Even then, I'm not sure I make that trade.
Dave T (Chicago): How concerned are the Seahawks about Hasselbeck's back? It seems bad enough that he has no one to throw to, but now he's getting injections the day before games. Thanks!
Will Carroll (Football): Look, a LOT of guys get injections. We just know about this one. My essay on painkillers didn't talk a lot about injections, but just look at Thursday's game. Fred Smoot took a knee to the hip/back and hobbled back to the locker room. A couple minutes later, he's walking back out to the field. Anyone want to guess what happened in there in those intervening minutes?
Hasselbeck? I'm not too worried. He doesn't get knocked down a lot.
ahaldar (Atlanta, GA): Thanks for the chat. How do you think Schaub will hold up this year?
Will Carroll (Football): That's a key question. He didn't in his first year, but is that a fluke or a trend? I think Schaub would be better off with a running game behind him and he still doesn't have that. Wouldn't surprise me a bit to see him miss some games.
braesmlb69 (Houston (for now)): Hey Will, McGahee, chris chambers, or matt forte for my flex this week?
Will Carroll (Football): Ick. No great choice here so I'll say Forte since he's guaranteed touches. Opportunity is key.
Reed (Des Moines): Will Ryan Grant be *that* bad (or injured) this week? I can play Chris Johnson or Rashard Mendenhall.
Will Carroll (Football): Bad remains to be seen, but he missed the whole preseason. I have a lot more on him in the Last Minute Med Check. Coinflip on those two. Johnson and Mendenhall are supposed to get a lot of touches for rookies, but they're rookies. I'd lean to Mendenhall if you buy that he's the Steelers goal line back.
Jessica (NYC): Should I start Todd Heap or Ben Utecht at TE today? Also, I have Mendenhall, Ray Rice, and Felix Jones - who's the best bet this week?
Will Carroll (Football): Heap. His leg isn't THAT bad and Utecht has never proven he's on that level. Most of the balls will go to Johns ... err, Ocho Cinco and Houshmandzadeh in Cincy.
Coinflip again. I'd lean to Jones of those three. He's playing against a weak D for a team lacking WR depth. I've been roundly mocked for how high I've taken Jones, but I think this week will be the start of something big.
braden23 (madison wi): how do we adjujst expectations for aaron rodgers now that favre is out of town?
Will Carroll (Football): We don't. Rodgers isn't Favre and you can't expect him to be. What he needs to be is healthy (something he's never been), a good game manager (we're told he is, but again, no proof), and good enough to get the ball to a nice WR corps (no reason to think he can't.) A good line will help, but then again, he got hurt behind them last year. KUBIAK seems about right, though I'm shying away from Rogers on the injury risk.
Andrew T. (Baltimore, MD): Hey Will, you've been answering a lot of Forte questions, and a fair number of Mendenhall questions, so how about the logical next step: Forte or Mendenhall?
Will Carroll (Football): Forte's the starter in what doesn't look like much of a share. Mendenhall's the rookie behind an established player who's said to get plenty of touches, esp in the red zone. I'll take Forte until we get a better idea what role Mendenhall will play. Or, THIS week with these matchups and this info, I'll take Forte. (FWIW, I started Mendenhall in the Facebook Experts League. My normal starter would be Jamal Lewis.)
Stephanie (DC): Is it worth starting Joey Galloway over Lee Evans, based on the DVOA report that came out on Football Outsiders?
Will Carroll (Football): Yes. Aaron's numbers and the scouts agree here. Evans confuses a LOT of people.
junkie (Beaverton OR): What can we expect from Randy McMichael this year? With Holt, Bennett and S-Jax catching the ball it seams like there are plenty of catches left for McMichael.
Will Carroll (Football): Exactly, and the Rams have never used a TE as a real offensive weapon going back to the Dick Vermeil days.
** Update: Galloway's teammate Mike Clayton is inactive, so he's a key start now.
Brian (Houston TX): IDP question Sean Jones or Gibril Wilson for a DB spot
Will Carroll (Football): Wilson. The Oakland D is very, very underrated and will be incredibly tough to pass against, especially if they can manufacture any kind of pass rush. Wilson will get to free range and could end up ballhawking a lot.
Or (Dallas): Greetings, Will, on the most glorious day of the year.
Something stuck out to me when reading the team projections in PFP '08: The very modest Cowboy number of 8.1.
I read the rationale and I understand the premise, but aren't potential injuries a strongly debilitating force for any strong contender? The Cowboys had the 6th best Pythag, a very solid team DVOA, all with two cornerstones missing the entire season which actually put them down at 17th in adjusted games lost. They did nothing if not add this offseason, and don't have a particularly old roster looking to decline. Why is it that such major potential problems are envisioned?
Obligatory closing note: **** The Eagles!
Will Carroll (Football): I'll still take Opening Day.
The Cowboys are an acknowledged problem. The system doesn't think they can stay as healthy, but our research has shown that the Cowboys med staff is one of the best and could be the real difference between how much they win and how much they're expected to win. I think the Cowboys are better than projected and are the most talented team in the NFC. That said, they also have a LOT of things that could go wrong. 11-5 or 5-11 are more likely than 8-8.
Brian (New Jersey): Would you start Jamal Lewis this week or Fred Taylor. Lewis is a big question mark, and Taylor plays TEN and the good run defense. Not to mention that everyone seems pretty high on Jones-Drew this season. Thanks.
Will Carroll (Football): Taylor's not hurt, so I'll take him. MWMI -- I have Lewis on my bench this week.
ngladstone (DC): Hey Will - I picked recieivers with my first three picks (whoops) and now have to decide between starting Reggie Wayne, T.O. Plaxico Burress, and Joey Galloway. Obviously, Plax has already played (I started him) So, for two WR spots, there is no flex, who would you start between Wayne, T.O and Galloway?
Will Carroll (Football): Wayne and TO. Nothing against Galloway here, but he's not in their league.
dianagramr (Queens): Hiya Will ...
Nate Burleson or Chris Chambers this week?
Will Carroll (Football): Burleson, but only slightly. He's Hasselbeck's only target, which makes him the defense's only must-cover. Chambers is sliding behind Vincent Jackson and assuming Gates is healthy, he's option 4 in the offense. Chambers' value is wrapped up in the occasional 50 yd TD.
JoshEngleman (Tamaqua, PA): MWMI?
Will Carroll (Football): Money Where Mouth Is. I debated saying EMODF.
JoshEngleman (Tamaqua, PA): MWMI?
Will Carroll (Football): Money Where Mouth Is. I debated saying EMODF.
dianagramr (Queens): Devin Hester ... a worthwhile play this week?
Will Carroll (Football): If he's your only option, sure. You have to respect his speed and the Colts don't play pure speed guys that well. What it does -- and what any pure speed guy does to the Tampa-2 -- is open up the middle of the field. That makes Desmond Clark more of a play this week.
Will Carroll (Football): Thanks for all the questions. Let me know if you'd like to do this again.