I'm in a 12-team keeper league and can retain six players, one of which was going to be Dez Bryant. But due to his recent off-field problems, is he worth the risk? Seems like he's a trouble child. Should I retain Brandon Lloyd ahead of him? -- J. Tansey, Atlanta, Ga.
Michael Fabiano: Bryant has been all over the news in recent weeks, and none of it has put him in a positive light in the world of fantasy football. After being ejected from an upscale Dallas shopping center and being given a criminal trespass warning over wearing sagging pants, Bryant is now being sued for unpaid debts of more than $850,000. While these reports are anything but good and put into question Bryant's maturity level, I wouldn't throw in the towel on him. He's one of the league's most explosive and talented young wideouts, and Lloyd could end up being a one-year statistical wonder. So unless Bryant continues to spiral into more off-field problems, I'd still retain him ahead of Lloyd.
Should Michael Vick be selected with the first pick in 2011 fantasy drafts? I worry about him getting injured. -- HaydenxWhite (via Twitter)
M.F.: I guarantee that Vick will be the top overall pick in a lot of fantasy drafts next season, but I wouldn't make that move myself. I agree that his playing style is more conducive to injuries, and I also seriously doubt that he can duplicate the ridiculous fantasy-point-per-game average he recorded last season. Owners always need to keep in mind that it's hard for a player to meet expectations after a "magical season," and Vick is no exception. While I might be in the minority here, I won't take a quarterback until the middle rounds based on the immense depth at the position. Why would you pass on an elite running back or wide receiver, which are both at a premium in the NFL, when you can land a solid signal-caller like Ben Roethlisberger or Josh Freeman in Rounds 5-7?
I have Andre Johnson in a keeper league. Is he a no-brainer, or should I be concerned about his health? -- OIRengy (via Twitter)
M.F.: I think it's a complete no-brainer, to be honest. Johnson has recorded more receiving yards than any other player over the last three years, and he's missed a mere three games due to injuries during that time. That doesn't constitute being labeled brittle, does it? He's also a good bet to record around 100 receptions, 1,500 yards and eight or more touchdowns -- that's an immense level of production and quite hard to find at the wide receiver position.
M.F.: Finley, 24, has all the statistical upside in the world. He's an athletic, play-making tight end in a premiere offense with one of the NFL's best quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers slinging him the football. He's also posted some positive tweets about his return from the knee injury that cost him most of last season, so Finley should be ready to roll in time for training camp. While I wouldn't draft him ahead of a player like Witten, who is far more reliable and productive, I do have Finley ranked ahead of Davis at the tight end position. He's going to see more than his share of targets in the pass attack in 2011, especially if the Packers decide to part ways with wide receiver James Jones this offseason.
In your opinion, what is the best possible format for a fantasy football league? How many teams, roster size, scoring system, etc.? -- JOMOpoker (via Twitter)
M.F.: Most of my personal fantasy leagues have 12 teams, start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one flex spot, one tight end, one kicker and one defense. I also have six reserve spots. The leagues are based on NFL.com's standard scoring system, but include points for receptions (one point), return yards (one point per 25 yards) and return touchdowns (six points). So if Reggie Bush returns a punt 75 yards for a touchdown, he would receive a total of nine fantasy points (one point for every 25 return yards, six points for the touchdown). The Saints defense would receive zero points, which is different than what would be rewarded in a traditional scoring system. I'm all about giving players the recognition (and statistical rewards) for all of their skills and abilities, rather than bunch them into a defense and special teams unit. I also reward points for blocked kicks along with the typical sacks, interceptions, fumbles recovered, etc., and include all defensive and special team touchdowns as well.
I'm in a 12-team PPR dynasty league, and I've been offered Michael Turner for Roddy White. I'm desperate for a running back, but giving up White would leave me with a gaping hole at wide receiver. My best runners are LeSean McCoy, Joseph Addai and Pierre Thomas. If I trade White, then Brandon Marshall, Santonio Holmes and Michael Crabtree would be my top wideouts. Thoughts? -- P. Gross, Westchester County, N.Y.
M.F.: I would pass on this deal. Turner is a superior fantasy runner, averaging 91.6 rushing yards with a combined 39 touchdowns as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. But the downside with the Burner is his lack of production as a receiver out of the backfield. Over the last three seasons, he's recorded a combined 23 receptions. In 2009, Brandon Marshall once put up 21 receptions -- in one game! Also keep in mind that Turner is 29, so the number of ultra-productive seasons he'll have in the future is limited.
Let's talk about Jamaal Charles. Is he the real deal and worth keeping in a PPR league? -- theRiccuation (via Twitter)
M.F.: M.F.: I wouldn't put Charles on an elite level at this point -- he's finished in the top 10 in fantasy points at his position just once -- but he's clearly heading in that direction. Charles is an explosive playmaker with the tools to score just about any time he touches the football, and he's clearly passed Thomas Jones on the Chiefs depth chart. If he can duplicate or surpass his 2010 success this year, we could talk about Charles being an elite runner soon. His versatile skill set also makes him a great asset as a PPR keeper -- since 2009, Charles has recorded a combined 85 receptions. He also put up career bests in receiving yards (468) and touchdown catches (3) last season.
Who will have the better fantasy season in 2011: Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees? -- Schmidtuation (via Twitter)
M.F.: There hasn't been a more consistent or productive fantasy quarterback than Rodgers over the last three years. In fact, he's the lone player at his position to finish in the top two in fantasy points over that time. So unless he ends up on the cover of the new Madden game and endures the almost imminent curse associated with it (look at Brees in 2010), I would have to project Rodgers to outscore the Saints quarterback next season.
M.F.: Adam doesn't play fantasy football, though I am going to try to get him in an NFL.com league in 2011. We did talk about the Dolphins' prospects for next season, and he thinks the team could win the AFC East if it makes the right moves during the offseason. He's even offered his services on Twitter if the team wants to try him out at quarterback! Adam also sees the Falcons, Eagles and Ravens (all bird teams, as he pointed out) as the top teams, and believes Sam Bradford and the Rams could be a sleeper out of the NFC West.
What are your thoughts on Sam Bradford? Is he a good backup fantasy quarterback? -- alexvezzose1000 (via Twitter)
M.F.: The presence of new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is going to mean great things for Bradford, who threw for 3,512 yards and scored 19 total touchdowns as a rookie. McDaniels was the OC in New England when Brady broke the record for touchdown passes, and his play-calling tendencies made Kyle Orton a top-notch fantasy option for most of the 2010 season while in Denver. I'm not saying that Bradford will emerge into a No. 1 fantasy quarterback, but he can become a much more reliable No. 2 option and matchup-based starter. I see him as a middle-to late-round pick, and Bradford's stock will rise if the Rams give him a few more weapons in the passing game this offseason.