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Trent Richardson poised for 2013 fantasy success

Which running back would you rather have next season - Alfred Morris or Trent Richardson? - @CharlieCraveiro (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: A lot of fantasy leaguers might disagree, but I have Richardson ranked ahead of Morris for two reasons. One, the Browns running back is a more versatile athlete with the tools to score fantasy points as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. Two, Richardson has a higher statistical ceiling. Does Morris have a legitimate chance to duplicate the 1,613 rushing yards he recorded as a rookie in back-to-back seasons? I'm not so sure, but I do think Richardson can do much better than the 950 yards he had on the ground in 2012. In fact, I can see him rushing for closer to 1,200 yards and double-digit touchdowns next season.

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I will definitely be using your strategy of waiting on a quarterback in 2013 drafts, but what about the tight end spot? Does it make sense to draft someone like Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham in the first two rounds? - D. Ratzlaff (via Facebook)

M.F.: Gronkowski and Graham are without question the two best tight ends in fantasy football, and starting them is like having an extra wide receiver in your lineup each week. With that said, I'm not willing to use the second- or third-round pick it would take to land either one of them in drafts. Instead, I'd rather wait until after the fifth round or later to land a tight end. While the position did experience a major blow in terms of production and value last season, I still think it's possible to land an attractive No. 1 option like Aaron Hernandez, Tony Gonzalez or Jason Witten without having to use a pick in the first four rounds.

In what round would you target Michael Crabtree next season? - @gregwhitlow (via Twitter)

M.F.: Crabtree was one of the top wide receivers in fantasy football down the stretch last season, and his rapport with Colin Kaepernick was evident. The 14th-ranked wideout based on points, Crabtree scored double-digits in three of his last five regular-season games and became a must-start in most leagues. Heading into 2013, the Texas Tech product should be considered a high-end No. 2 fantasy option in 10- and 12-team leagues. While some owners could target Crabtree earlier because of his success during the Niners' run to the Super Bowl, I see him coming off the board between the fifth and sixth round in standard formats.

What sort of value will Alex Smith have with the Kansas City Chiefs? Does he make Dwayne Bowe a better fantasy option? - R. Modisett (via Facebook)

M.F.: This move obviously helps Smith's fantasy appeal - he goes from the backup in San Francisco to a starter in Kansas City, and being a quarterback in coach Andy Reid's pass-laden offense is always a positive. However, I still don't see Smith as more than a late-round, low-end No. 2 fantasy quarterback. Remember, he was a bust for all intents and purposes before coach Jim Harbaugh came along for the Niners. Can he be effective without him? That remains to be seen. Smith was also mostly a game manager, so it's hard to envision a scenario where he all of a sudden puts up monster numbers. As for Bowe, Smith is definitely an upgrade over Matt Cassel and will make the veteran wideout a bit more attractive - assuming he remains with the Chiefs next season.

What do you think of Alabama running back Eddie Lacy when it comes to fantasy value or rookie stats? - @JoshGordon9 (via Twitter)

M.F.: As it stands, Lacy appears to be a lock as the top fantasy rookie in the 2013 class. He's a good bet to earn short-yardage and goal-line carries with his eventual NFL team, and landing with a squad like the Atlanta Falcons or Pittsburgh Steelers - both of which are in need of a lead runner - would make Lacy even more attractive. Should he end up with the Cincinnati Bengals or San Francisco 49ers, two teams that already have an established starter, he would lose some value in seasonal formats.

Where would you rank Steven Jackson if he leaves the St. Louis Rams for the Falcons? - P. Price (via Facebook)

M.F.: I had this discussion on Twitter earlier in the week, and I agree with the consensus - Jackson would be more attractive in drafts, but not to the point where he would re-emerge into a No. 1 fantasy runner. I like the fact that he would be in a more explosive offense, where goal-line opportunities would be more plentiful than in his most recent seasons in St. Louis. Just look at the touchdown totals Michael Turner recorded last season. Despite the fact the he had clearly lost a step between the white lines, the Burner still found the end zone a combined 11 times. If this situation comes to fruition, Jackson would be worth a third- or fourth-round selection.

Are you concerned about Andrew Luck suffering a sophomore slump now that Bruce Arians is no longer in Indianapolis? - @SonofaM1tch (via Twitter)

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M.F.: Honestly, I'm not even a little worried. Luck is a rare breed of quarterback who will be able to thrive and produce solid totals regardless of who is calling the shots on offense, so the loss of Arians won't cause me to drop him down my fantasy draft board at all. In fact, I still have him ranked just behind Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Peyton Manning. I'm expecting Luck to be drafted in the fourth or fifth round.

I've seen reports that the New England Patriots are going to part ways with Brandon Lloyd. Considering the new Tom Brady contract, what are the chances that the Patriots go after Mike Wallace? How valuable would he be in fantasy football catching passes from Brady? - D. Mulligan (via Facebook)

M.F.: Wallace is going to have a lot of suitors, including the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins, but nothing would surprise me with the Patriots. The speedster out of Mississippi would be a nice fit in New England, and the team now has the cap room to make such a move because of Brady's restructured deal. If Wallace does in fact end up in New England, I'd have to move him into the top 10-15 wide receivers along with the likes of Eric Decker, Victor Cruz and Crabtree.

What will happen to Larry Fitzgerald if the Arizona Cardinals upgrade their quarterback position in 2013? - @HighTopFadee (via Twitter)

M.F.: I'm not sure how much of an upgrade the Cardinals can make at the position, especially now that Smith has been dealt to the Chiefs. In fact, their best free-agent option could end up being Matt Cassel (he's expected to be released). Of course, how much of an upgrade is someone like Cassel over incumbent Kevin Kolb? Arizona could also go with a quarterback like Geno Smith or Matt Barkley in the first round of the NFL Draft, but that would be more of a long-term solution. Unless something unexpected occurs, it looks like Fitzgerald will once again be catching passes from a less-than-attractive signal-caller in 2013.

Does the trade of Alex Smith make you like Colin Kaepernick even more in 2013? Where would you draft him in a seasonal league? - A. Chloe (via Facebook)

M.F.: Well, there's no real threat to Kaepernick's starting role with Smith now out of the mix. With that said, I wasn't worried about Smith taking Kaepernick's job before he was dealt to the Chiefs. The talented Nevada product could end up going in the first three rounds after his statistical success in the postseason, but I like him more as a fourth- or fifth-round selection after the likes of Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Newton, Manning and Luck are off the board.

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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