What is the deal with Darren McFadden? Is there any hope for him this season? - @GMandrella (via Twitter)
Michael Fabiano: I think this is more about the team around McFadden, including its lackluster offensive line. He hasn't lost his speed or playmaking skills, but the Arkansas product is averaging a modest 3.1 yards per carry - that's down from the 5.0-plus YPC totals he has recorded the past two seasons. Raiders coach Dennis Allen needs to get the ball in McFadden's hand more often, as he's carried the football 20 or more times just once all season. On a positive note, McFadden has some good matchups in three of the next four weeks against the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints. So despite his lack of consistent production, it's going to be tough to bench a featured back of his caliber.
M.F.: Colston has been tremendous over the last three games, posting a combined 25 receptions for 357 yards and five touchdowns. Still, I'm waiting for that statistical carriage to turn into a pumpkin soon. The Saints love to spread the football around, and the return of Lance Moore (nine catches, 121 yards in Week 7) and the imminent return of Jimmy Graham (coach Joe Vitt said he "feels good" about him for Week 8) could mean fewer targets for the Hofstra product. Remember, Colston had a combined 10 receptions for 160 yards over the first three weeks. Those are mediocre totals at best. To me, he's a great sell-high candidate and someone to offer in a deal for a wideout like Marshall. There is no question about Marshall's status as the top passing option in Chicago, especially with his pal Jay Cutler under center. Also, Marshall has been a far more durable player than Colston throughout his career.
M.F.: I have Bowe in several leagues and will be fielding trade offers for him if this situation remains stagnant. I know, Matt Cassel isn't he best quarterback in the league - but he's better than Brady Quinn when it comes to Bowe's value. Let's take a look at the numbers. Since last season, Bowe has 72 receptions, 1,065 yards (five 100-yard games) and seven touchdowns in 14 games with Cassel under center. In eight games without him, Bowe has 43 receptions, 521 yards (no 100-yard games) and just one touchdown. That includes Week 6, when Bowe posted a mere three catches for 25 yards and no touchdowns with Quinn at the helm. And that was against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have not been great against the pass in 2012. While this weekend's matchup against the Oakland Raiders is a favorable one and makes benching Bowe almost impossible regardless of the quarterback, I hope Cassel re-claims the top spot on the depth chart sooner than later.
Is Chris Johnson going to be trustworthy the rest of the season? - @KyleKohr88 (via Twitter)
M.F.: The simple answer is no. Do I love his matchup in Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts? Absolutely. But take a look at his schedule in the following four weeks. Outside of a great matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 12), CJ2K has to contend with the Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans. None of those defenses is allowing an average of more than 14.10 fantasy points to opposing running backs, so trusting Johnson to post solid totals is difficult. On a positive note, he does have much better matchups in the fantasy postseason versus the Colts, New York Jets and Green Bay Packers. So while I think Johnson will be better from here on out, there will still be some frustrating weeks for fantasy owners.
M.F.: I'm going with McGahee, who has a tremendous matchup at home against a Saints defense that has allowed eight total touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points to running backs. Turner has a much tougher task, facing a tough road matchup in Philadelphia against an Eagles defense that has given up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to the position.
Is Chris Cooley worth adding off the waiver wire? - V. Kreiger (via Google+)
M.F.: Right now I would say no, but he is a player to keep an eye on over the next few weeks. With Fred Davis (Achilles) done for the rest of the season, Cooley will have a chance to make his mark in the pass attack. However, I wonder if he'll rotate snaps with Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul at the tight end position. That's a scenario that would keep the Utah State product off the fantasy football radar. Also keep in mind that Cooley, who was once a No. 1 fantasy option, hasn't caught more than four passes in a single game since January 2011.
M.F.: I would have been scoffed at for suggesting this move in the preseason, but I would rather have Luck than Newton the rest of the season. It's nuts, right? Well, hear me out. Both players are very close in value right now, as Luck has 104.46 fantasy points compared to Newton's 103.38. And while Newton is going to pile up more rushing yards, Luck will have the edge in passing yards. The pair has the same number of rushing touchdowns through the first seven weeks as well. Where Luck has a major advantage is in the schedule. Of his final nine games of the fantasy season (Weeks 8-16), just one is against a team (Houston Texans) that isn't among the top 16 in terms of allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. That includes favorable games against the Tennessee Titans (2), New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Chiefs. Newton has just five such contests, and his next start comes against the stout Bears defense.
Is it time to drop DeAngelo Williams? - P. Hallus (via Facebook)
M.F.: Sadly, it is getting to that point for the former fantasy superstar. He has scored just 30.70 fantasy points this season, including two games in his last four with fewer than one fantasy point (not a misprint). Furthermore, it's going to be close to impossible to trust either Williams or Jonathan Stewart unless one of them emerges into a featured role or suffers a long-term ailment. I doubt the former will happen, either. I know it's sometimes hard to drop a player with "name value" like Williams, but I'm not opposed to cutting ties with him if you need to add a hot free agent.
M.F.:Colts coach Bruce Arians said during a press conference earlier this week that Brown is "close" to returning, but his starting running back could need a full three weeks to recover from a knee scope. That scenario would leave Ballard to be the featured runner and a viable flex option for one more game, and this week's matchup against the Titans is a favorable one - their defense has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to backs in 2012. With that said, fantasy leaguers who have roster room and need a running back would be wise to add and stash Brown. He's now a free agent in close to 30 percent of leagues on NFL.com.
M.F.: Morris has become a must-start option in most leagues, so he needs to remain in your lineup. I like Jennings as a low-end No. 2 runner or flex starter this week, however, and I'd start him over Leshoure based on the matchups. The Jaguars' new top runner faces a Packers defense that has allowed an average of 17.04 fantasy points per game to running backs. On the flip side, Leshoure has a far tougher task against the Seattle Seahawks. Their aggressive defense has surrendered just two total touchdowns and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position.