Fantasy Mailbag  

 

Colin Kaepernick is the fantasy future at quarterback

Realistically, which quarterbacks do you think will fall past the fourth or fifth round in a standard 12-team league? - @AROB15 (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: I'm on record as saying I will wait on quarterbacks in 2013 drafts, so I'll be looking at the likes of Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III in the fourth round of a 12-team league. If the flow of the draft goes in the direction of signal-callers, however, I could be looking at Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford -- and I would be fine having any of those players atop the depth chart. Keep in mind that all drafts are different, and a lot of owners out there don't have the same sort of strategy when it comes to quarterbacks. In fact, there will be plenty of drafts out there where players like Luck, Kaepernick, Griffin III (depending on his knee) and Ryan are starting to come off the board in Round 2 or 3. I just don't subscribe to that sort of game plan and will be waiting as long as I can to grab a field general.

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Which quarterback is a better keeper option - Kaepernick or Ryan? - M. Rosenblatt (via Facebook)

M.F.: Ryan is a talented field general coming off his best statistical season, as he recorded 4,719 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2013. I'm going with the younger quarterback with the bigger upside, though, and that's Kaepernick. At 25 and with limitless fantasy potential, the versatile signal-caller has the tools to be a virtual stat-sheet stuffer. In fact, I can envision a scenario where he throws for 3,500 yards, rushes for another 700-800 yards and scores 25-30 total touchdowns in 2013. As Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs said after Super Bowl XLVII, Kaepernick is "the truth."

Where would you draft the Green Bay Packers wide receivers now that it looks like Greg Jennings will be moving on? - @call_me_trell (via Twitter)

M.F.: I did the first of what will be several one-man mock drafts earlier this month, and I have Randall Cobb coming off the board in the third round. The third-year wide receiver out of Kentucky showed flashes of potential last season and will be a prime breakout candidate in 2013. Jordy Nelson, who is coming off a disappointing and injury-riddled campaign, will be more of a fourth- or fifth-round selection. As for James Jones, well, it's tough for me to see him scoring another 14 touchdowns -- he had scored a combined 17 in the previous three seasons! I consider him at best a No. 3 fantasy wideout in 12-team leagues.

Hi Michael, do you really think I should wait to draft a quarterback until the third or fourth round next season? Also, who do you think the New York Jets will draft? - M. Kieljan (via Facebook)

M.F.: As I mentioned in an earlier question, I am waiting as long as possible to draft a signal-caller. Exactly how long that is depends on the flow of the draft. If the rest of the owners in the draft subscribe to a similar strategy, I might not take a quarterback until the fifth or sixth round. In the event that the draft goes in a different direction and owners focus on field generals, then I will likely have to start looking at the position a little sooner. For me, there is a cliff I want to avoid falling off among quarterbacks -- and that cliff is Stafford. Currently 12th in my rankings, I would feel fine having him under center despite his disappointing 2012 campaign. Part of that is due to the fact that he still ranked among the 12-best players in fantasy football based on points in a down year for him. What's more, I'll be loaded at running back and wide receiver by waiting to take a field general.

Why did you leave Matt Ryan out of your one-man mock draft? He's not in your Top 50? - @DaveSull15 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I left Ryan out of the first five rounds of my mock draft because my focus is on running backs and wide receivers in the first four stanzas. As a result, there are going to be a few signal-callers who drop into the fifth or sixth round that might otherwise come off the board earlier. So despite the fact that Ryan is coming off a solid season, he doesn't make the cut for me through five rounds because of the strategy I'm utilizing. As I have done for most of my years as a fantasy player, I will focus on players and positions that come at more of a premium -- and there has never been a greater abundance of quarterbacks in fantasy land.

You seem to be giving Jamaal Charles a bump in value because Andy Reid is now the coach in Kansas City, but aren't you worried he will ignore Charles like he ignored LeSean McCoy? Isn't McCoy the one who deserves a boost? - K. Cubillas (via Facebook)

M.F.: There was definitely a sentiment that Reid didn't give McCoy the football enough during his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, but how much did that really hurt his value? The Pittsburgh product rushed for 1,309 yards, caught 48 passes and scored 20 total touchdowns in 2011. While his numbers declined in 2012 because of time missed due to a concussion, McCoy still projected to finish with close to the same number of fantasy points as Frank Gore based on the numbers he posted in 12 games. When you also consider the success Brian Westbrook and even Duce Staley had under Reid, including a huge bump in opportunities as a receiver out of the backfield, that's enough to give Charles a bump in fantasy appeal. I have also given McCoy a bump in value -- I have him ranked right behind Charles (No. 6) among running backs.

I'm in a PPR keeper league and can retain either Rodgers or Calvin Johnson. Should I stick with Rodgers, even though he's likely to lose Jennings? - @MiamiDol_Fan (via Twitter)

M.F.: Without question, I would still keep Rodgers. Sure, Johnson is the unquestioned top wide receiver in fantasy football and will be the most-kept player at his position in fantasy land. However, I can't see releasing Rodgers while he's still in the prime of his career. Also, did you know that no other player in the NFL had finished in the top two in fantasy points in each of the last five consecutive seasons? That sort of consistent production is tough to find.

Where do you have Ryan Mathews ranked for next season? I saw your question about him earlier this week, and I wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pole! - D. Pingele (via Facebook)

M.F.: I had some fun with this topic on Twitter earlier in the week, and a lot of fantasy fans want nothing to do with Mathews at this point. That's more than understandable. Others would still take a chance on him, albeit as a low-end No. 2 running back or flex starter in the fifth or sixth round. Mathews has left me with egg on my face in two of his three pro seasons, so I wouldn't even consider him unless it were in that sort of role. After a season that saw him touch the football just five times on third down and finish 30th in fantasy points at his position, the Fresno State product doesn't instill a lot of faith heading into 2013.

What is your prognosis for Darren McFadden's fantasy prospects for 2013? - @Htownbaumer (via Twitter)

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M.F.: My prognosis is that McFadden will put up good numbers at times, miss at least a few games due to injuries and leave fantasy owners with a bad taste in their mouths. That's not a tough statement to make, as McFadden's seasons have become a little more than predictable. Despite his immense upside, the Arkansas product has failed to meet expectations because he can't stay out of the trainer's room. The fact that he's entering a contract year is a positive, but it will take a lot more than that to make owners draft him as more than a mid- to low-end No. 2 fantasy runner in 2013.

What are your thoughts on the Carolina Panthers backfield for next season? I have Jonathan Stewart in a dynasty league and have been waiting forever for him to bust out! - C. Moriarty (via Facebook)

M.F.: Reports out of Carolina suggest that the team will have to part with either Stewart or DeAngelo Williams this offseason. The move that makes the most sense is to release the latter before June 1, which would allow them to prorate his $4.85 million cap hit over two seasons. The Panthers would suffer an immediate $7 million hit by releasing Stewart, who is a younger back and has more upside than his veteran teammate. As a result, owners in all fantasy formats should hold out hope that Stewart will finally have a chance to reach the statistical potential he's had ever since coming out of college.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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