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Increased quarterback success causing fantasy lineup questions

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Hi Mike, I really need your help this week. Drew Brees is my No. 1 fantasy quarterback, but with the bye week I have to start Joe Flacco or Carson Palmer. I am leaning toward Flacco, but I keep thinking Palmer is going to have a breakout performance. What do you think? -- B. Silgjord, Duluth, Minn.

Michael Fabiano: I think you have to start Flacco this week. Palmer has had a few good fantasy stat lines in recent weeks, but a matchup against the Ravens makes him much less atractive. What's more, the upstart Ravens quarterback has been far too good to bench unless you have Brees, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning ahead of him on your fantasy depth chart. Believe it or not, but Flacco is fourth in fantasy points on NFL.com after four weeks. That's pretty good for a quarterback who had an average draft position (ADP) of 126.80 (Rounds 10-11). He also has a matchup at home against a Bengals defense that ranks 26th against the pass, so give Flacco the start.

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I'm a little weak at the wide receiver position this week due to byes, so I was thinking of picking up Mohamed Massaquoi. Was he a one-week wonder or is he worth a look against the Bills? -- J. Tansey, Atlanta, Ga.

M.F.: Anytime a player comes out of nowhere to produce eight catches and 148 yards, he'll be on the fantasy radar and a popular waiver-wire target. With Braylon Edwards now out of the mix, Massaquoi is the default top wideout in Cleveland. He is well worth a look against the Bills and their 21st-ranked pass defense and should be added in most formats.

Donovan McNabb is expected to be back this week, which means Kevin Kolb is heading back to the bench. What does this mean for the value of Brent Celek? Kolb seemed to have a good rapport with him. Do you think I should start Celek ahead of Jason Witten when McNabb returns? -- N. Fournier, Switzerland

M.F.: McNabb has returned to practice and should be under center this week against the Buccaneers, so he's a very strong start for fantasy owners. As for Celek, he did become quite a popular option for Kolb in McNabb's absence. But don't forget that he hauled in six passes and scored a touchdown in McNabb's lone full start of this season. Still, it's hard for me to recommend starting Celek ahead of someone like Witten when he's facing a strong matchup (or any matchup, for that matter). You should start the Cowboys tight end against the Chiefs, who rank 28th in pass defense. In fact, I'd look to deal Celek right now while his fantasy value is at an all-time high.

Mike, I need a replacement for Philip Rivers in Week 5. Currently, I have Shaun Hill as my backup quarterback. However, Derek Anderson, Matt Cassel, Kerry Collins and Matt Hasselbeck are all on the waiver wire. Should I pick up one of them and start them instead of Hill? Is Hasselbeck coming back this week? -- H. Mathews, U.S. Army

M.F.: First off, thanks so much for everything you do in defending our country and protecting our freedom! To answer your question, Hasselbeck would be the best option if he's able to come back from a broken rib. We might not know about his status until later in the week, as Hasselbeck could wind up being a game-time decision. Even with a banged-up offensive line, it's hard not to like the veteran quarterback (if he's under center) against a Jaguars defense that's tied for 31st against the pass. If Hasselbeck isn't active, then Seneca Wallace would be a nice sleeper to consider. He's a mobile quarterback and should find success if called on.

Hey Michael, I love the sit/start and mailbag columns! I have some burning questions for you regarding Week 5. I lose four starters to byes this week (Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston), and I'm wondering how I should go about filling those vacancies. I have Leon Washington, Fred Jackson and Cadillac Williams to fill a running back spot and a flex spot. However, I can also flex either Lee Evans or Mercedes Lewis (this is a non-PPR league). Also, Jason Campbell, Derek Anderson and Jake Delhomme are the best waiver-wire options at quarterback, but I can also trade Evans and Lewis for Ben Roethlisberger and Jacoby Jones (as we also get points for return yardage). Also do you think Lewis is for real or a one week flash? What do you think I should do? Thanks! -- B. Hunt, Wakefield, Mass.

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Tony Romo is averaging just 9.7 fantasy points on NFL.com in the past three weeks.

M.F.: I think that trade makes a whole lot of sense. Evans hasn't been very good from a fantasy perspective, and his past trend of posting inconsistent numbers makes him a risk as a starter. I do think Lewis' value is on the rise, but I'd have to assume that you have a better tight end on your roster since you're considering him as a flex option. It's also a great time to add Roethlisberger, who's become a solid fantasy quarterback once again and has a favorable matchup against the Lions next on the slate. If you can still make this trade, I'd make it happen. I would then start Big Ben in place of Cutler (of course) and use Williams and Jackson to fill the running back and flex spots. I would also check the waiver wire to see if Rashard Mendenhall or Jerome Harrison were available, as both are better options than Williams or Jackson for Week 5.

First of all, thanks for all the great work and help you are providing us. Last week, I managed to get a win by a last-minute change (Kyle Orton over Tony Romo) and I'm now 3-1. But my main problem is Darren McFadden. Is it now safe to throw him on the waiver wire, or should I keep him on my bench? I also have Adrian Peterson, Ahmad Bradshaw and Jonathan Stewart, and I'm waiting and hoping to get Jerome Harrison as a free agent. -- F. Bouras, Greece

M.F.: You're welcome! I couldn't be more down on McFadden, especially after I rushed for more yards (0) than he did (minus-3) last Sunday afternoon! And that was against the Texans, who entered the week ranked last in run defense! (Yes, that frustrated me to no end). In terms of your question, I'd hold on to McFadden for depth purposes if you have enough room on your roster. He could be back in just two weeks, and his replacements (Michael Bush, Justin Fargas) aren't going to have much value over the next three games against the Giants, Eagles and Jets. Hopefully you'll be able to land Harrison off the waiver wire to replace McFadden. The versatile back looked great in last week's loss to the Bengals, and his next game is against a Bills defense that ranks 27th against the run and has allowed seven rushing touchdowns.

Hi Mike, enjoying your work, never miss a post. I have a ridiculous selection of wideouts in Calvin Johnson, Mike Sims-Walker, DeSean Jackson, Anquan Boldin, Dwayne Bowe and Mario Manningham. At running back, however, I'm left with Steve Slaton, Marshawn Lynch and Knowshon Moreno. I obviously need a trade, but who should I trade and who should I look to acquire? I was thinking Cedric Benson for Jackson or Manningham. Is that too ambitious? -- M. Batterall, England

M.F.: Thanks for the kind words and yes, you could use the word ridiculous to describe those receivers! I think you do need to make a deal to improve your running backs, and asking for Benson in return for either Jackson or Mannigham makes sense. I would offer Manningham first, however. Jackson clearly has more value, so you'd like to hold on to him if at all possible. Remember, you never want to make your best offer first. Instead, work up to your best offer. You could also put together a package deal of either Manningham or Sims-Walker and Lynch or Moreno to acquire an even better runner. I'm a big fan of the 2-for-1 deal when I have such great depth at a position.

Michael, which quarterback should I start in Week 5: Tony Romo or Kurt Warner? -- S. Danton, Tottenville, N.Y.

M.F.: Romo is one of those major risk-reward fantasy quarterbacks this week. He's coming off an absolutely dreadful performance in a loss to the Broncos, and it looks like his best wide receiver, Roy Williams, could be out due to injured ribs. On a positive note, Romo does face a Chiefs defense that's 28th against the pass and has given up big performances to Eli Manning and Kein Kolb over the last two weeks. With that said, I'd go with Warner in what could be an absolute shootout against Houston. The Texans do rank ninth in pass defense, but that's a bit misleading when you consider the level of quarterbacks they've faced (Mark Sanchez, Kerry Collins, JaMarcus Russell) to this point in the season. I think the Texans and Cardinals could combined for 50-plus points and a ton of fantasy production, so start Warner and put Romo on the sidelines.

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I have Drew Brees and David Garrard in a touchdown league, but I'm very thin at wide receiver. Assuming Garrard has another big week, is it a reasonable plan to sell high on him to try to get a decent running back in return? Or do I need to keep them Brees and Garrard and play the matchups? Thanks! -- T. Gibson, Harrisburg, Pa.

M.F.: I'd start this answer with a statement. Fantasy owners shouldn't be playing the matchups if Brees is on their roster. Sure, he's had two bad weeks in a row. But Brees has the sort of potential to single-handedly win games for your fantasy teams. That was obvious in the first two weeks of the season. He's one of the lone must-start players left in the world of fantasy football. As for Garrard, I'd be looking to deal him if he has a monster stat line against the Seahawks. At that point he'd be a perfect sell-high candidate. With an increased number of good quarterbacks around the league, however, it might be hard to get good value for Garrard in a potential deal.

What is going to happen with the running back situations in Cleveland and Pittsburgh? Will Jerome Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall become the starters, or will Jamal Lewis and Willie Parker re-emerge once they're back from injuries? Thanks! -- T. Pyree, Seattle, Wash.

M.F.: It's hard for me to envision a scenario where Lewis gets back a featured role, no less the top spot on the depth chart after Harrison's performance in Week 4. In fact, I could see Harrison remaining the starter with Lewis turning into a short-yardage and goal-line back. Lewis is on the wrong side of age 30, and at the running back position that's almost a statistical death sentence. In Pittsburgh, coach Mike Tomlin would not commit to Mendenhall as his starter this week because he still wasn't sure about the status of Parker and his injured toe. I wouldn't be surprised to see Parker back atop the depth chart if he's able, but Mendenhall has certainly earned a much greater role in the offense after his spectacular performance against the Chargers on Sunday night. If I had to choose between having Fast Willie or Mendenhall on my fantasy team, though, I'd be taking the latter. Parker has become far too brittle to trust as a starter in recent seasons, and it looks like he's lost a step as well.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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