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Gore's stock takes a tumble after Niners' offseason moves

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Including Frank Gore and Patrick Willis (IDP leagues), are there any 49ers that you would label "safe" as fantasy picks? - @ThisCantBRight (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: I do like Vernon Davis at the tight end position, and I still think Willis is a terrific option in IDP formats. However, I do have some concerns about Gore. There have already been reports out of the Bay Area that suggest the veteran back is "likely" to experience a decrease in playing time following the glut of offensive additions the Niners made this offseason. Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon are in the mix, the team signed Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James was selected in the second round of last month's draft. Does that mean Gore is in danger of losing his starting job? No, but that's a lot of mouths to feed and enough reason to knock Gore down a few notches on your 2012 running back rankings. Aside from Gore, I don't trust Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham or Randy Moss as more than fantasy reserves or occasional matchup-based starters.

I'm in an eight-team keeper league and need to retain four players from Matthew Stafford, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Roddy White, Jordy Nelson and Kenny Britt. I won the league in 2011, so I have the last pick in the re-draft. Thoughts? - J. Sutcliffe (via Facebook)

M.F.: The list of players to retain starts with Stafford, Peterson (despite coming off anterior cruciate ligament surgery) and White. That leaves your final decision between Manning, Jackson, Bradshaw, Nelson and Britt. Manning loses some luster because of his age, plus the fact that you should keep Stafford. The final decision should be based, in part, on your league's scoring system. If it's a standard league, the running backs have added value. If it's a PPR format, the wideouts are better options -- especially Britt. Because this is a small league where more solid players will be available in the re-draft, though, I would keep the best player, regardless of position. To me, that player is Jackson. He is almost a required keeper in this case, too, since we're not so sure if Peterson will be available at the start of the 2012 campaign.

Do you see Trent Richardson as a good choice in the third round of a standard 12-team league? - @Pony6587 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I'm already on record as saying Richardson will be worth as much as a late second- or third-round selection in seasonal drafts. The unquestioned No. 1 running back in Cleveland, Richardson could see 300-plus carries in his first pro season. While there has been a lull in the statistical success of rookie backs over the last three years, I think Richardson has a legitimate chance to be the exception to the rule. Sure, he does play in a division with three tough defenses. But remember, the Browns also face the AFC West and teams that struggled against the run in 2011, like the Eagles, Bills and Colts.

How much does the addition of David Wilson hurt the value of Ahmad Bradshaw? - T. Woud (via Facebook)

M.F.: Wilson's presence does hurt Bradshaw's value a bit, but I still see him as a No. 2 fantasy runner across the board. Listen, the Giants had to add a running back as insurance once Jacobs was released. Bradshaw has had foot and ankle injuries in the past, so he can't be considered overly "durable." I also think Wilson, despite his upside, still needs to develop his skills before he's going to come in and make a major pro impact. As a result, I'd still feel safe picking Bradshaw in the fourth or fifth round. Wilson, who will be a terrific handcuff, is more of a middle- to late-round choice.

How will Doug Martin affect LeGarrette Blount's fantasy value? - @JoNeSe_2480 (via Twitter)

M.F.: Unlike Bradshaw, the addition of a rookie, in this case Martin, is a potential death sentence for Blount's fantasy value. The Oregon product is coming off a disappointing season, and the Buccaneers wouldn't have taken Martin in the first round if he wasn't going to be a big part of their offensive plans. In fact, I think he'll pass Blount on the depth chart sooner rather than later. A potential three-down runner at the NFL level, Martin is worth a look in the middle rounds as a low-end No. 2 runner or flex starter. As for Blount, he's now more of a late-round option and potential handcuff for Martin.

Is Jahvid Best worth a look in fantasy leagues for 2012? - T. Britton (via Facebook)

M.F.: Best will be drafted in every single fantasy league, but he's going to come with more than his share of risk. While he is expected to be cleared for football activities at some point in June, the fact that Best missed so much time last season due to concussions is cause for concern. What's more, the Lions will have Mikel Leshoure (assuming he's not suspended for off-field issues) and Kevin Smith in the backfield mix along with Best. Taking all those factors into consideration, I would go with him as a flex starter in the middle rounds ... at Best (no pun intended).

Am I the only person who likes Darren McFadden as a top-five fantasy runner? Michael "the touchdown vulture" Bush is gone! - @Ty_In_StL (via Twitter)

M.F.: I don't think you're the only person who likes McFadden, because he is one of the most talented running backs in the league. Unfortunately, he's about as durable as a house of cards in a wind storm. The Arkansas product has missed a combined 12 games over the last two years, and he's never played in more than 13 games in a single season. That makes me very hesitant to make him a top-five pick. Do I think he's a top-10 back, albeit a risk-reward option? Yes. But if I did decide to take a chance on McFadden, I'd have to target Taiwan Jones as insurance in the middle rounds to feel comfortable with the choice.

What are your thoughts on Michael Floyd? Can he make the same sort of impact as A.J. Green or Julio Jones in 2012? - L. Ulrich (via Facebook)

M.F.: Floyd is a talented wideout with some real pro upside, but I do have some reservations about him as a rookie. The Cardinals already have an elite wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald who will continue to dominate targets in the pass attack. Early Doucet and Andre Roberts are also in the offensive mix, so Floyd isn't guaranteed to be the second-best option. Furthermore, the quarterback situation, with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, isn't what I would call "rock solid." Finally, Notre Dame hasn't produced many offensive skill position players able to make a real impact at the NFL level in the past 10-15 years. In fact, to find a Golden Domer who could help fantasy owners on a consistent basis, one would have to look as far back as 1993, when Jerome Bettis was drafted. (If you're going to point to Julius Jones, David Givens or John Carlson, you're sort of making my point for me.) In seasonal leagues, I'd take Floyd somewhere in the middle to late rounds.

Will Chris Johnson be worth a first-round pick this season? - @NWanderer (via Twitter)

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M.F.: If you're in a 10-team league, I think Johnson will go in the first part of Round 2. However, I wouldn't argue with someone who took him earlier. Despite his horrible 2011 campaign, he's still a young runner who will be motivated to prove that his recent failures were a fluke. Remember, the lockout plus his contractual holdout put CJ2K in a poor position to be the productive player we all knew and loved. But there's no lockout or holdout this year, and as a creature of habit (like most NFL players), I see Johnson getting back into the groove starting in the offseason. He's sixth among running backs in my current rankings.

Will the addition of Isaiah Pead mean a decrease in the fantasy value of Steven Jackson? I had planned on keeping him, but now I'm thinking DeMarco Murray might be a better option. - P. Stanton (via Facebook)

M.F.: Pead will no doubt take some carries and touches from Jackson, but I don't see this turning into a backfield committee. In fact, I didn't move Jackson down on my rankings as a result of Pead's addition. The rookie out of Cincinnati does have some seasonal value in deeper leagues as a handcuff for Jackson owners, but he's more of a dynasty-league option overall. Considering Jackson's age (29 in July) and the number of career carries he's endured, Pead could turn into his successor in the next year or two. For that reason, I would keep the younger and more explosive Murray over Jackson in keeper formats.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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