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How to value Martin, Lynch and rookie wideouts

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Should I take Doug Martin in the first round this season? -- @Jagsfootball54 (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: Honestly, I have some reservations about Martin. Before being injured in 2013, he averaged a meager 3.6 yards per carry and was on pace to put up 1,392 scrimmage yards. That would have been 534 fewer yards than he had as a rookie. He also scored just once in his six games as an NFL sophomore. There's been a lot of talk of new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford's use of backfield committees in the past, and the Bucs added a talented rookie in Charles Sims in the NFL draft. So while I still like Martin's youth and versatile skill set, I wouldn't draft him until Round 2 as a high-end No. 2 runner.

With the Seattle Seahawks planning to limit Marshawn Lynch's role this season, will he still be worth a top-5 pick? -- @anthony_r_oddo (via Twitter)

M.F.: Are the Seahawks planning to limit Lynch? While I wouldn't be surprised if 2014 were his last season in the Great Northwest, I can't see a scenario where Lynch doesn't remain the centerpiece of Seattle's offense. It's worked out well over the last few seasons, right? If I did have a concern about Lynch, it's that he's 28-years-old and has endured a good-sized workload in recent campaigns. But unless we hear about the Hawks going all-out committee with Lynch and Christine Michael, which I don't expect, I still see "Beast Mode" as a surefire first-rounder.

Is Brandin Cooks a legitimate No. 3 fantasy wideout, or will his production mirror that of Tavon Austin as a rookie? -- @hebrewshake (via Twitter)

M.F.: I don't put a lot of stock in most rookie receivers, and the numbers support that mind set. There have been a total of 154 wide receivers drafted from 2009-13 ... a mere six finished in the top 20 in fantasy points as rookies. That's just under four percent. Here's another little nugget to wrap your brain around ... of the five rookie receivers to post 1,000-plus yards since 2000, just two have done it in the last seven years. So while Cooks has a lot of hype and is in a good situation with the New Orleans Saints, I don't see him emerging into a regular starting role in fantasy land.

Who would you prefer to have as a keeper ... Giovani Bernard, Randall Cobb or Jordan Cameron? -- @evel_steve (via Twitter)

M.F.: I'm on board with Bernard, who has the tools to put together a breakout season for the Cincinnati Bengals. With new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson calling the shots, I'm expecting them to run the ball a lot in 2014. That means plenty of opportunities for Bernard, who should emerge into the top runner in this backfield ahead of Jeremy Hill and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Based on his youth, I like the North Carolina product as one of the most attractive dynasty and keeper options at his position.

Cordarrelle Patterson is getting a lot of attention. Would you draft him over Brandon Marshall? -- @trovind (via Twitter)

M.F.: I'm a fan of Patterson heading into 2014, but he's not on the same level as a wideout like Marshall. He's posted elite fantasy numbers in just about every season while playing with Jay Cutler, including a 2013 campaign that saw he record 100 catches, 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns. Along with Alshon Jeffery, Marshall is part of arguably the best wide receiver duo in the entire league and will come off the board in Round 2 in most leagues. Patterson, who has oodles of upside, is more of a fifth- or sixth-rounder and would be hard pressed to post Marshall-level totals in 2014.

Do you think Sammy Watkins can have the same sort of rookie impact as A.J. Green? -- @WheelchairJonny (via Twitter)

M.F.: As I mentioned in an earlier answer, rookie wideouts don't typically find a lot of success in the stat sheets. Green was an exception to that rule, posting 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns in his first campaign at the pro level. While anything is possible in the NFL (remember when Tyler Thigpen was a viable fantasy starter?), I'd say it's unlikely that Watkins will post similar numbers in 2014. Don't reach for him in re-draft, as he's more of a No. 4 wide receiver in fantasy football at this time.

I'm in a quarterback-heavy league and have the second overall pick. Assuming Peyton Manning is gone, who should I pick between Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers? -- @MikeEWills (via Twitter)

M.F.: It's a close call, but I like Brees just a touch more than Rodgers. He is the lone quarterback in the history of the National Football League to throw for 5,000-plus yards multiple times. He reached that mark in 2008 and has done so every season since 2011. No other signal-caller has gone for 5,000 yards in back-to-back campaigns. Furthermore, Brees is the only field general to toss 40 or more touchdown passes in back-to-back seasons. He's productive, consistent, durable and a virtual lock to finish among the top three players in fantasy football.

What is a good round to target Rob Gronkowski? -- @Dsil19 (via Twitter)

M.F.: According to the Patriots official website, "all signs point toward" Gronkowski being ready to roll when the 2014 campaign starts. That's good news, but I'd still err on the side of caution with a man who has had forearm, knee and back surgeries over the last two years. When he's on the field, we all know that Gronkowski is a statistical beast and an absolute touchdown machine. But his lack of durability in recent seasons would keep me from pulling the trigger on him until the fourth or fifth round.

Who do I keep between DeSean Jackson and Jordy Nelson? -- @wreckin_crew83 (via Facebook)

M.F.: Nelson is the better keeper among wide receivers. He has top-10 fantasy wideout potential playing in an offense led by Rodgers, and the fact that he's in a contract year could add to his own personal motivation. As for Jackson, he's almost certain to see a decline in production compared to his impressive 2013 totals. Now the second option in the pass attack for the Washington Redskins rather than the top choice in Philadelphia, Jackson will find fewer targets in an offense loaded with stars and potential stars.

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What are your thoughts on Percy Harvin, considering he can't stay on the field? -- @falconsfantasy (via Twitter)

M.F.: Harvin is talented and versatile, and he showed that off in the Super Bowl. However, he's missed a combined 22 games in the last two years so durability is a concern. I also don't like the trend of big-name wideouts going to Seattle and failing. With that said, I'd grab Harvin as more of a high-end No. 3 fantasy wideout.


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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