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Christopher Harris' Fantasy Football Mailbag: Week 17

Fantasy football expert Christopher Harris answers questions on the moral side of sports fandom, teams on the rise, and whether Ty Montgomery is legit
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Join Christopher Harris live on VICE Sports' Facebook page on Saturday at noon ET to ask him your game day fantasy questions, and for fantasy football advice based on film review every single weekday from now until 2017, listen to the Harris Football Podcast at

Brian: How much do you take personal feelings about a player into account when drafting or making a starting lineup? (think Adrian Peterson, Tyreek Hill, etc.)


Not at all, and that makes me no better than the asshole real-world owners and GMs who'd start Mussolini under center if they thought he could make the trains run on time. Here I am in the fake executive offices of my fake team complex, looking for fantasy points anyplace I can get 'em. Next thing you know, I'll be bilking billions from my fake fans for a fake stadium to replace the fake one they fake-built for me 10 years ago.

To lamely justify my position, I'll use the "slippery slope" argument, which goes: if I'm going to inject a morals clause in my fantasy football drafting, where do I draw the line? How bad does an offense have to be before I won't own a player? Does Peterson whipping his kid's balls rise to the level of conduct detrimental to my fantasy squad? Or Hill punching his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach? It's been seven years since Ben Roethlisberger's most recent sexual assault accusation. Has he grandfathered out of our outrage? And how about Jameis Winston, who may have raped a woman at Florida State and who certainly benefited from FSU's refusal to investigate the alleged crime. Yeah, those aren't good. But how about LeSean McCoy hosting a party for women only, where you had to submit your photo first, or how about Shady leaving a $0.20 tip?

Read More: Christopher Haris Fantasy Football Rankings, Week 17

I'm not breaking new ground when I say: the culture of entitlement around star youth athletes that continues when they're grown often produces terrible humans. If we're going to question whether each player is worthy of our fandom, the next logical step is: why do we invest time and money being sports fans at all? And that's a damn good question. The answer comes down to: "Because I like it!" and that's probably pretty lame. Hey, I'm as big a sports fan as anyone. But the moment you begin to pull a thread, sports fandom does kind of fall apart.


The mental firewall I've established for myself is: I don't care about athletes as people. I don't care what they say. I don't care what they think. I don't care about their opinions. Now that the danger is known, I don't particularly care if they get concussions. I don't care what they endorse, I don't want to wear their uniforms, I don't view them as role models and I feel absolutely no personal admiration for them. I save that for people I actually know in real life. Pro athletes are avatars. They're video-game characters. I enjoy watching what they can do with their bodies, and that's all. By assuming this posture, I'm not saying I have moral high ground. I'm saying we don't know these people, we never will, so just assume they're all assholes and use their stats to have your own fun. (If that sounded really cynical to you: yup.)

Chris: Is there any hope for Ty Montgomery to keep it up and be Green Bay's starter at running back next year?

Fuck Ty Montgomery! Fuck the Packers!…oh, uh, sorry…a little carryover there from my last answer.

I think the rush to embrace Montgomery as a starting-caliber NFL back is premature. Because Eddie Lacy got hurt and James Starks is bad, the Packers needed someone to assume a backfield role and decided Montgomery—who was drafted to be a wideout—could fill the bill. He's been fine. And actually against the Bears a couple weeks ago, he was much better than fine: 162 rushing yards on 16 carries, including carbon-copy plays where he was basically stopped but stayed alive, avoided traffic, and busted long runs. Now every game announcer breathlessly reports how Mike McCarthy always knew Montgomery was really a running back, and Aaron Rodgers has lobbied for this change for weeks, and Montgomery will change his uniform number from "88" to something more RB-appropriate next year.


One of these players is elite. Photo: Wm. Glasheen-USA TODAY Sports.

I say slow down there, buckaroo. Let's be honest. If an NFL scout had watched Montgomery as a running back prospect at Stanford, they'd have said: upright runner, durability questions and not much lateral quickness. There's no question Montgomery is strong, he can catch it and he's smart. On my podcast, I've unfairly compared him to Denard Robinson, but he's much stronger than Robinson, much more capable of moving the pile. So let's call him Zach Zenner. Or any one of a dozen so-so backs who'll get what's blocked, who'll occasionally make us go "ooh!" by trucking a defender and bursting into the open field, but who doesn't have one thing about his game that promises stardom. He's not beastly big. He doesn't have great long speed. He's not joystick-quick. He's fine. That kind of RB, in the right role at the right time, can carve out a nice NFL career. But usually something goes wrong: their offense turns out to be worse than we hoped, they platoon, they get hurt. The key question in Green Bay is whether free agent Lacy will be back. If not, Montgomery will be part of the solution, but I won't expect miracles.

Adam: How did you handle time management during the writing process for your book? I'm interested in how you finished War On Sound while balancing other time-suck obligations in your life.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, this is a question I see two or three times per week, which is very flattering. The idea that I'm any kind of great arbiter of what makes a good writing process feels like a stretch to me, but the world needs more good writers and critical thinkers, so I'll be your huckleberry.


I wrote War On Sound—and my word, what an incredible post-holiday gift for the fiction- and/or music-lover in your life!—over four years, in the time between becoming a media superstar and entrepreneurial genius. (Ahem.) It was really hard! I have a more seasonal schedule than most folks: I have more free time from January to July and less from August to December. So I have to make that early part of the year count. Personally, I don't set daily page goals or word-count goals, and I don't really set time markers on the calendar, as in: "I'd better be done with this draft by June!"

But I'm disciplined. I've made girlfriends crazy with the everydayness of my writing habit. When I'm in the pocket and I understand what comes next, I'm at the computer four or five hours a day, seven days a week, beating my head against it. Some days, that results in a single usable paragraph, and others I get three pages. I basically go until I can't concentrate anymore, I go until I have a headache behind my eyes, at which point I'm experienced enough to know anything else I squeeze out of myself will suck. In short: I don't know any other way, other than to commit to it. And that does mean cutting out other stuff. At least for me, if it's not a priority, if it's not the priority, it won't happen.

Joel: What "bad" team do you see possibly turning it around next year? Also, what "good" team do you think will decline? (I know it's hard to answer, considering so much changes season to season.)


Yeah, Joel, it's basically impossible. What's most fun about the NFL is the extent to which each season is a repudiation of the last. And we spend four months finally figuring out that most of our assumptions have been shattered. But what the heck!

Turnaround Team: Jaguars. I didn't buy Jacksonville as a playoff contender this year, and actually bet the "under" on their season win total (which was 7.5). I didn't like Blake Bortles, and I still don't. That's the main constraining factor here. There are no obvious and instant QB fixes for '17—"Your Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback: Jay! Cutler!"—and it's not fun to back a team whose quarterback you don't believe in. But the Jags have a decent o-line (and probably better than decent pass blocking) and the defense will get better. Jalen Ramsey is going to be a star. Johnathan Cyprien is a fierce strong safety. Telvin Smith is the best and fastest linebacker you've never heard of. Malik Jackson has to be better than he showed his first season after free agency. That's four players I actually, truly love on defense, and that could be enough. Get something from Dante Fowler and/or Myles Jack (agreed, that's no automatic) and they could be really good. Honorable Mention: Eagles. I love Carson Wentz and the offensive line will be better. But the defensive personnel might not be ready.

Jalen Ramsey is a superstar in the making. Photo: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports.

Declining Team: Giants. I don't rule out a run to the Super Bowl, because I'm a Patriots fan and have seen this movie before. And of course, I think Odell Beckham is amazing. But I have no idea how the Giants are 10-5. They can't block, they can't run, and their quarterback is maddening. Defensively, for the umpteenth straight year they can't find linebackers, I admit Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins have worked as free-agent signees and Landon Collins is great but I don't trust much else here. It's not like I think they're suddenly a two-win team but I won't have them in the playoffs in my '17 predictions. Honorable Mention: Broncos. This roster has seen its peak. How can they pick up Russell Okung's massive option or pay Donald Stephenson $4 million next year? That means replacing both tackles? Oy. DeMarcus Ware is expensive and unrestricted and may be gone. The interior of the defense is bad and has free agents. The title window feels closed.

Kerry: What do you do to fill the void when the football season is over?

Owen: Now that we're coming to the end of the NFL season, how do you plan to spend you Sundays for the next eight months?

Pokémon Go. That's still a thing, right?

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