Fabiano's Fantasy Mailbag  

 

RB Jones becoming a sleeper in Dallas; Portis remains a keeper

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
Cowboys running back Felix Jones will be seen as a potential fantasy sleeper in his second NFL season.


Mike, here are three stone-cold locks for you this fantasy season: 1) Donald Brown will score more fantasy points than Joseph Addai; 2) Greg Jennings will finish among the top five wide receivers in fantasy points; 3) Felix Jones will rush for 1,000 yards. What's your take? -- N. Roche, Montana.

Michael Fabiano: I think all three of your stone locks are viable, but under the following circumstances. Addai is still the top running back in Indianapolis, but his recent proneness to injuries makes him a risk-reward pick. If the veteran can't stay out of the trainer's room, then I can see Brown scoring more points. Jennings is one of the most underrated wideouts in fantasy football -- he actually finished fourth in fantasy points at the position on NFL.com last season. He'll be worth as much as a third-round pick. As for Jones, I see him as a definite sleeper. However, rushing for 1,000 yards (while possible) could be tough when Marion Barber is seeing more carries in Dallas.

If you have some bold predictions of your own for the 2009 fantasy football season, I'd love to hear them. Send them to AskFabiano@nfl.com and write "predictions" in the subject field. I'll include the best ones in next week's edition of the mailbag.

I'm in a modified keeper league (five years, this will be second) and we can keep three players. I will retain Philip Rivers and Randy Moss, but my third selection is either Willie Parker or Clinton Portis. Who should I keep? I'm leaning toward keeping Parker. -- A. Brown, Philadelphia, Pa.

You are not fully prepared for your fantasy draft this year until you have read NFL.com's in-depth fantasy preview magazine from cover to cover. It's available now on NFLShop!

M.F.: Despite the fact that he's a candidate to break down after a grueling second half of last season, I would still retain Portis ahead of Parker. The veteran will continue to see a featured role in Washington and is simply a better back than Fast Willie. While Parker is in a contract year, he's been prone to injuries himself and could lose work to Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore. You'll definitely want to draft Ladell Betts as insurance in the re-draft, but Portis remains the running back to retain.

I am in a tough spot in the second year of my PPR keeper league. We can retain two players but lose the round of the ones we keep. I have Brian Westbrook (Round 1), Maurice Jones-Drew (Round 2), Drew Brees (Round 3), Calvin Johnson (Round 4), Roddy White (Round 7), and Chris Johnson (Round 11). I hate to throw any of them away, but I am leaning toward MJD and Chris Johnson. I pick eighth overall in the re-draft and we can trade players for draft picks. What do you think? -- J. Ross, Sidney, Ohio.

M.F.: Barring a potential trade, I would agree with your assessment and retain Jones-Drew and Johnson. MJD will be a first-round pick in most drafts next season (I've actually seen him go first overall in PPR leagues), and getting Johnson for an 11th-round pick is an absolute steal. With two running backs on the roster, I'd target two wide receivers and a quarterback in the first three rounds of the re-draft. You should be able to re-acquire Brees, Calvin Johnson or White with your first-round selection.

Hi Mike, I love how you analyze NFL fantasy football. Do you have a fantasy magazine available for this upcoming year? I always buy that before joining a football fantasy league. It's a big help! Thanks! -- E. Delos Reyes, Long Beach, Calif.

M.F.: The 2009 NFL.com Fantasy preview guide is available now on NFL Shop.com. It includes predictions, cheat sheets, mock drafts, columns and projections and profiles for more than 400 players. Basically, it includes everything you'll need to dominate your draft. And if you want to get even more information and fantasy knowledge, be sure to also check out our 2009 NFL.com draft kit.

I absolutely love your column and would like your input for a choice of keeper for the upcoming season. We have a 14-team PPR league where we can retain two players, but we lose the round they were drafted. My options are Calvin Johnson (Round 3), Adrian Peterson (Round 4 - retained from previous season), Kevin Smith (Round 6), Dwayne Bowe (Round 6), Roy E. Williams (Round 7), Chris Johnson (Round 9) and Aaron Rodgers (Round 10). Peterson is a no-brainer, but I am torn between Chris Johnson and Rodgers. I hold the 12th overall pick in the re-draft. -- R. Herring, Denmark.

M.F.: You've actually got some great draft values based on the rounds, but I'd keep Johnson and Peterson. A.P. is a lock, especially for a fourth-round pick. As for Johnson, he's expected to see more work in the Titans' offense next season and has a chance to be as good or better than he was in his rookie season. With a solid backfield in tow, I'd target a quarterback and two wide receivers in the first three rounds. You might be able to re-acquire Calvin Johnson or Rodgers based on the flow of the draft.

Which players get a bump in the rankings when return yards and touchdowns are included in the scoring system? The return yards are discounted to only 25 percent compared to rushing and receiving yards, but the touchdowns count the same. It's a deep league with IDP's too, so I'm really looking for some sleepers to target in later rounds. -- E. Priebe, Bluffton, Ohio.

M.F.: I like the fact that you're using the scoring system to make your fantasy league closely mirror the actual NFL. The players that will see the greatest increase in value in leagues that reward individuals points for return yards and touchdowns include Steve Breaston, Josh Cribbs, Ted Ginn Jr., Devin Hester, Felix Jones, Jerious Norwood, Eddie Royal, Darren Sproles and Leon Washington. You'll also want to remember Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Davis and Johnnie Lee Higgins, all of whom see increased value.

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Hey Michael, I was just wondering if you think T.J. Duckett will be a good option at running back this year? I know he'll be getting a lot of red-zone carries, but with Maurice Morris gone do you think he could get more all-around touches? -- J. Brewer, Montrose, Pa.

M.F.: The Seahawks plan to use a more run-based offense under new coach Jim Mora Jr., and the fact that they didn't add a running back in the draft does increase the value of both Duckett and Julius Jones. The Notre Dame product will open as the starter and see early-down carries, while Duckett will come in on short-yardage and goal-line packages. The bruising runner should duplicate his eight visits to the end zone from last season and has added value in touchdown-based formats, but he's still worth little more than a late-round flier in most standard leagues. Jones, a former 1,000-yard rusher with the Cowboys, is worth a middle-round pick and could be a flex starter in 2009.

I can keep three different players from three different positions. I plan to retain Peyton Manning at quarterback, but I need to choose a running back from Steve Jackson and Michael Turner and a wide receiver from Calvin Johnson and Reggie Wayne. I appreciate your help very much! -- C. Villarreal, Mexico

M.F.: As much as I like Jackson, I'd still retain Turner ahead of him. He has fewer career carries and proved last season that he can handle the workload of a true featured back at the NFL level. Johnson, a top-three fantasy wide receiver heading into 2009, is a far more attractive keeper option than Wayne and should also be retained.

Should I trade DeAngelo Williams for Maurice Jones-Drew? I find it hard to get rid of Williams after what he did last year. I also have Steven Jackson and Clinton Portis on my roster. Thanks! -- J. Collis, Buffalo, N.Y.

M.F.: I realize Williams was the top-scoring running back in fantasy football last season, but I just don't see him scoring another 20 touchdowns in 2009. In fact, I project him to find the end zone closer to 12 to 15 times. He could even lose a few more carries to Jonathan Stewart, who rushed for 836 yards and found the end zone 10 times as a rookie. That makes me side with accepting the trade and acquiring Jones-Drew, who's slated to be one of the true featured backs in the league. He's also a dual threat out of the backfield, both as a runner and receiver, so Jones-Drew should finish with far more receptions and scrimmage yards than Williams. I say pull the trigger on this one.

I'm in a 12-team standard (no-PPR) keeper league with the sixth overall pick in the re-draft. I need to choose two of the following players to keep for next season, and I'll lose the pick from the specified round: LaDainian Tomlinson (Round 2), Philip Rivers (Round 3), Ronnie Brown (Round 4), Jason Witten (Round 5), Roy E. Williams (Round 6) and Big Ben Roethlisberger (Round 8). I've been leaning towards L.T. and Brown in order to shore up my running backs for next season, but I'm worried about the questions that surround them. Should I consider Witten or Williams in order to get a bit more value for the picks? Cheers. -- Ray, Australia

M.F.: I would agree with your decision to retain Tomlinson and Brown ahead of Rivers, Witten, Williams and Big Ben. None of those players are bargains based on their rounds, and it's important to be secure in the backfield heading into the re-draft. While I don't see Tomlinson putting up huge numbers in the year of his 30th birthday, I do think he can duplicate his 2008 totals. Brown, who's in a contract year, is a definite breakout candidate in Miami and should put up solid totals as a No. 2 fantasy runner.

Have a burning question for Michael Fabiano on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section below or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com, and the best questions will be answered throughout the season right here on NFL.com!

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