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It's time to start Stafford over Vick in fantasy leagues

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Howard Smith/US Presswire
Michael Vick's unbelievable 2010 fantasy season has been replaced with a disappointing start to 2011.


I'm kicking myself because I didn't listen when you said not to draft a quarterback in Round 1. Yup, you guessed it. I took Michael Vick. What do I do with him? I did listen to your advice on Matthew Stafford, so I can start him also. Should I trade Vick or wait for him to turn it around? -- B. Addison

Michael Fabiano: Before the start of the season, I put together a photo essay that includes a few big names that could be busts this season. Vick was on that list. Now, I'm not saying that he can't turn things around and put up a nice fantasy season. But right now, Matt Hasselbeck and Jason Campbell are two of 15 quarterbacks with more fantasy points than the versatile Vick -- and no one drafted either of them in most leagues. Furthermore, Vick has no chance to make the same impact he did in 2010. I never thought he did -- to put up an average of close to 30 fantasy points per game in one season is insane. To do it in back-to-back seasons is almost impossible. (Right now, Vick is averaging 15.2 points). You're one of the lucky fantasy leaguers who was able to draft another great signal-caller, however, so Vick's failures can be overcome. And until he can return to form, I would bench Vick in favor of Stafford. The kid has scored the fourth-most fantasy points at the quarterback position and has shown no signs of slowing down. It never hurts to put both players on the trade block and see what offers are made (like I always say, if you're not trading you're not trying). But don't make a move unless it's a major benefit to your starting lineup, especially because of Vick's current injury woes and Stafford's previous lack of durability.

Is it time to bench Rashard Mendenhall? He's been a huge bust so far this season. Would you start someone like Ryan Mathews ahead of him in Week 4? -- G. Robertson (via Facebook)

M.F.: I don't think most fantasy owners have enough backfield depth to bench someone like Mendenhall, but Mathews is hot right now (I guess I was one season too early on him!). In the last two games, he's seen 43 touches in the offense for coach Norv Turner. On the flip side, Mike Tolbert has seen 24 -- that's just three more than he saw in Week 1 alone! Whether that trend continues remains to be seen, but Mathews is clearly a better fantasy option than Mendenhall for Week 4. The Steelers runner is averaging a pedestrian 3.0 yards per carry and has scored once in his first three games -- he's also just 32nd in fantasy points at his position.

Would you drop Dallas Clark? -- HsuD (via Twitter)

M.F.: Can you believe that this is a legitimate question? But without Peyton Manning under center, Clark has become a mere mortal rather than a fantasy superstar. I don't know that I would drop him, though, unless you're in a smaller league or you have another solid tight end to start for the rest of the season. In fact, I'd rather hold him as a reserve with the hope that he can reverse his fortunes -- imagine how you would feel if you dropped him, someone else picked him up and he started to produce? Remember, we are just three weeks into the season. Things can change quickly in the world of fantasy football.

Do you expect Hakeem Nicks to be more consistent the rest of the season? -- D. Zavala (via Facebook)

M.F.: As long as he can avoid injuries, I think Nicks will be fine. He's not the lone wideout to struggle against CB Nnamdi Asomugha (25 yards, 0 TDs in Week 3), and his schedule will improve in the near future. In fact, he faces weak pass defenses in the Cardinals, Seahawks, Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, and 49ers over his next six games. When the smoke clears, Nicks will be among the top-10 fantasy points producers at his position.

How does the loss of Kenny Britt affect the value of Hasselbeck? -- Da_Great_Gonzo (via Twitter)

M.F.: It doesn't help him, that's for sure. In fact, 44 percent of Hasselbeck's passing yards and all of his touchdown passes in the first two games went to Britt. So for as well as he has played this season, it's hard to see Hasselbeck's success continue without his top option in the passing game. If you need a quarterback and are able to add him off waivers, consider the veteran no more than a No. 2 option or matchup-based starter. I also have some concerns about Nate Washington, who's also well worth a look off the wire but could see his numbers fall as well. Sure, the loss of Britt should mean more targets for the veteran wideout, but he's no longer going to benefit from Britt drawing coverages, and Washington has never been a great fantasy option in a featured role with the Titans. It will be interesting to see how both these players perform against the Browns.

Is it time to drop Peyton Manning? -- RubeWihono (via Twitter)

M.F.: It appears that the time to release Manning has come in most fantasy football leagues. Colts owner Jim Irsay said on Twitter that an "outside chance of return in December is possible" for Manning. That doesn't seem too optimistic to me, does it? And if the team isn't in the hunt for the postseason at that point, which seems likely after an 0-3 start, why in the world would Manning come back this season at all? I had Manning in one league -- I grabbed him the fifth round and thought it was a genius move at the time -- but I've already let him loose. Right now, the veteran quarterback is owned in less than 50 percent of NFL.com leagues. And unless there's some positive news about him soon, I would expect that number to drop moving forward.

Cam Newton has more fantasy points than Philip Rivers. Should I start him moving forward? Also, should I bench Chris Johnson? -- cocle12 (via Twitter)

Ed Reinke/AP
The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew talks about Bernard Scott and several others you should target off the waiver wire for Week 4. (Click image for further analysis.)

M.F.: If Newton continues to put up big numbers, I'd look to sell high on him and keep Rivers. And based on the matchups, there's no way I'm benching Rivers in favor of Newton this week. The Chargers face the Miami Dolphins, who have surrendered the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks after three weeks. Newton has a much tougher matchup, going up against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. As for Johnson, I still can't see benching him unless you're stocked at running back. At some point he's going to break out, and you don't want to have him on your bench when he does. I'd be more willing to advise benching a talent like Johnson if he puts up two more bad stat lines, but I just can't see putting him on the pine after three weeks. He has a favorable matchup against the Cleveland Browns this week, so hopefully Johnson will be ready to break the funk.

I thought I had two good running backs in CJ2K and Frank Gore. Now I'm wondering if I should bench them this week in favor of Darren Sproles and Daniel Thomas. Thoughts? -- A. Enck (via Facebook)

M.F.: As I mentioned in the previous question, I would continue to roll with Johnson. But if you're in a PPR league, starting Sproles ahead of Gore makes sense. Keep in mind, though, that the 49ers runner has a great matchup this week against the Philadelphia Eagles -- no team has allowed more fantasy points to backs after three weeks. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh also said that Gore is "good to go" despite an ankle ailment, so it makes sense to roll the dice with him onc more time in standard leagues. If Gore puts up a stinker against the Eagles, he'll be pretty tough to start in most leagues in the weeks to come.

I have Rob Gronkowski and Jermichael Finley on my fantasy team, and I want to trade one of them for help at the running back position. What level of player should I expect in return? -- S. Samano (via Facebook)

M.F.: You should be able to get a very solid running back in return for either of these elite tight ends. I'm not talking about someone like LeSean McCoy or Darren McFadden, but there's no reason you can't acquire a back like Matt Forte or Fred Jackson. Keep in mind, Gronkowski has more fantasy points than all but four running backs on NFL.com! I wouldn't take less than a high-value runner as a result, so don't force a trade just for the sake of making one. You have impressive value at tight end, and if you're in a league that has a required flex spot, there's no reason you can't start both of these players until a solid trade offer is made.

What should I do with Reggie Wayne? If Manning isn't coming back this season, is Wayne even worth keeping on my roster? -- J. Stewart

M.F.: I would continue to hold onto Wayne. After all, he's still a respectable 26th in fantasy points among wide receivers on NFL.com. The loss of Manning kills his level of consistent production, but there's no reason Wayne can't have a nice stat line from time to time. That's not what you want to hear about a player you likely drafted to be your No. 1 or 2 fantasy wideout, but it's where we're at right now. Also, keep in mind that the wide receiver position is unbelievably unreliable at this point. Guys like Victor Cruz, Brandon Gibson and even Michael Jenkins -- none of who were even drafted in most leagues -- are in the top 40 in fantasy points at the position after three weeks. That's even more reason to keep at least some faith in Wayne for the rest of the season.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com or tweet it at Michael_Fabiano!

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