Fantasy Mailbag  

 

Breaking down fantasy running backs of all stripes

Who is your No. 1 fantasy sleeper running back for 2013? - @Brent_Blackwell (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: A lot can change between now and the start of the regular season, but I have some fantasy man love for Lamar Miller. It looks like the Miami Dolphins are going to give him every chance to be their top back in 2013, and a schedule that ranks among the most favorable at his position (based on fantasy points) makes him that much more attractive. In a best-case scenario, Miller could end up being selected in one of the first five rounds as a No. 2 runner.

What do you think of Russell Wilson and Percy Harvin for next season? How will Harvin's presence impact Marshawn Lynch? - M. Sotelo (via Facebook)

M.F.: I can't see how Harvin's presence in Seattle doesn't help Wilson's fantasy outlook. The Wisconsin product put up terrific numbers as a rookie, and that was without a true No. 1 wide receiver in the pass attack (apologizes to Sidney Rice and Golden Tate). With a talented playmaker like Harvin now in his arsenal, Wilson should be just as good -- if not better -- than he was in his first pro season. Harvin's stock rises as far as I'm concerned because he'll see an upgrade at quarterback from Christian Ponder to Wilson. He'll also be a centerpiece of what projects to be one of the league's most potent offensive attacks. As for Lynch, I don't see him losing value. At 27 and in the prime of his career, he'll remain the best fantasy option in the Great Northwest.

Will Reggie Bush be a No. 1 fantasy running back this season? - @whoudi (via Twitter)

M.F.: I think Bush can sneak into the low-end No. 1 running back tier in PPR leagues, as the offense of coordinator Scott Linehan will produce a lot of pass-catching opportunities out of the backfield. That was evident last season, as the little-known Joique Bell hauled in 52 receptions. If we are talking about standard leagues, however, I couldn't promote Bush as more than a No. 2 running back. Keep in mind that he won't be a featured runner with Mikel Leshoure in the mix. In fact, Leshoure is a good bet to see more than his share of short-yardage and goal-line work. Another thing that worries me about Bush is that he's going back to playing at least half of his games on artificial turf. Sure, he avoided major injuries in his last two seasons in Miami, but his home games were all on grass. Let's hope for Bush's sake and ours that his knee issues don't re-emerge now that he's playing on a harder surface.

Who will finish with more fantasy points in 2013: Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster? - B. Yang (via Facebook)

M.F.: Before I answer, let me tell everyone out there that if I end up with Peterson in any of the eight or 10 fantasy football leagues I'll be in next season, well, I'll be thrilled. He's coming off the best statistical campaign of his career and was the top-scoring runner based on fantasy points. With that in mind, I still prefer Foster for several reasons. First, I just don't see Peterson rushing for 2,000-plus yards or scoring over 300 fantasy points in back-to-back seasons. Second, Peterson's fantasy point totals had declined in three straight years heading into 2012. During that time, he averaged 235.76 points in standard scoring leagues. Now let's take a look at Foster. He has scored a high of 262.10 points (2012), a low of 239.00 points (2010) and has averaged 250.40 points since 2010 -- that is the epitome of consistent production. I also think Foster has a better chance to duplicate his 2012 totals than Peterson, who also has a much tougher schedule ahead compared to Foster. Again, I'd love to have a superstar like Peterson in 2013, and you can't go wrong with either runner. I just think Foster has the slight edge.

In what round would you draft Danny Amendola? - @JoeSavoie26 (via Twitter)

M.F.: Assuming you're using a standard scoring system, I can see Amendola coming off the board between the fourth and fifth rounds as a No. 2 wideout. If we're talking about a league that rewards points for catches, the Texas Tech product would move up into the third round. One thing I found interesting in the comparison between Amendola and Wes Welker was in their numbers in their last seasons before going to New England. Welker (2006) finished his last season with the Dolphins with 67 catches, 687 yards and one touchdown. Now, let's look at Amendola's totals in what would be his last season in St. Louis -- 63 catches, 666 yards and three touchdowns. The numbers are pretty darn close -- that's ironic, isn't it? Welker went on to post 100-plus receptions in all but one of his next six seasons with the Patriots. Can Amendola accomplish that same level of success? I think he can, but he needs to avoid injuries -- he's missed a total of 20 games over the last two years.

What sort of numbers do you expect from Torrey Smith now that Anquan Boldin is in San Francisco? - K. Hermann (via Facebook)

M.F.: Entering his third season, which is when a lot of wideouts have had their first big statistical output, Smith is a good bet to pass the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his pro career. He should also find the end zone eight to 10 times in 2013. His teammate, fantasy stud Ray Rice, told the Baltimore Sun that Smith has a great work ethic, is a "complete" wide receiver and benefitted from Boldin's time in Baltimore. Overall, I would be looking to target Smith as a high-end No. 3 fantasy wideout with the upside to emerge into a valuable No. 2 option across the board.

Other than Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, which wide receivers do you think are worth a second-round pick in fantasy drafts? - @timmyc0212 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I posted a five-round mock draft last month where a total of six wideouts were selected in Round 2 (Megatron was a first-rounder). That list included Marshall, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones and Harvin. I can also see veterans like Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson having their names called late in the second round of 10- and 12-team leagues. Coincidentally, I'll be posting an updated mock after the 2013 NFL Draft -- look for it next week on NFL.com.

What is the value of the Buccaneers defense now that CB Darrelle Revis is in the mix? - R. Rollins (via Facebook)

Fabiano: Revis trade impact
How will Darrelle Revis' trade to the Bucs affect your 2013 fantasy outlook? Michael Fabiano has the answer. More ...

M.F.: The addition of Revis, assuming he has no setbacks in his return from a major knee reconstruction, will no doubt make the Buccaneers a more valuable option in fantasy football. Remember, this is a team that also added FS Dashon Goldson in an effort to improve a pass defense that allowed the second-most fantasy points to both quarterbacks and wide receivers last season. However, owners should also keep in mind that this unit will face one of the toughest schedules (based on 2012 fantasy points) among defensive teams. Not only will the Bucs have to face Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan a combined six times, but their slate also includes tough games against Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick, Vick and Wilson. All told, that's 11 games against quarterbacks who have ranked or are ranked among the 10-best players at the position.

How worried are you about Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez due to their respective injuries? - @jonathantof12 (via Twitter)

M.F.: You have to have at least some concern, if for no other reason than you're going to have to invest one of your first six picks to land them. That's a greater issue with Gronkowski, who is questionable to be at 100 percent in time for Week 1. He's been dealing with an infection after a surgical procedure to repair his broken forearm, and reports suggest he'll need to have a new plate inserted once the infection has cleared. As a result, I've moved him down to No. 2 behind Jimmy Graham at his position. Hernandez, who underwent what has been described as a "minor scope" on his shoulder, is not expected to participate in OTAs or minicamps and could open training camp on the PUP list. However, he looks like a good bet to be on the field when the Patriots open the regular season in Buffalo. Clearly, these situations need to be monitored in the weeks and months to come.

What are your thoughts on Alex Smith? Will he be a fantasy starter or a backup? Also, would you draft Dwayne Bowe as a No. 2 or 3 fantasy wide receiver? - J. Goodwin (via Facebook)

M.F.: Smith had a nice offseason from a fantasy perspective. He was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he's the unquestioned starter for new coach Andy Reid. When you also consider how much Reid likes to throw the football, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Smith could be on the verge of his best statistical campaign. The Utah product also has one of the easiest schedules based on fantasy points among quarterbacks. With that being said, the depth at the position is so immense that Smith might not even be drafted in leagues with 10 or fewer teams. So regardless of all the positives that happened, he'll still be worth just a late-round look as a No. 2 fantasy field general and matchup-based starter. As for Bowe, he's also in a great position to rebound in the stat sheets. Target him as a No. 3 wideout with the tools to be a solid No. 2 across 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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