Michael Fabiano: First off, I want to warn fantasy owners not to expect Griffin to produce a rookie season even close to what Newton did in 2011. The fact that he finished with such ridiculous numbers was really an anomaly when you look at what past quarterbacks have accomplished in their first season. Greats like Dan Marino, Brett Favre, John Elway and Peyton Manning are just a few in the long line of rookie signal-callers whose statistics paled in comparison to Newton. With that said, I wouldn't draft Andrew Luck or Griffin as more than No. 2 fantasy quarterbacks. I'd take RG3 first because of his skill set and the presence of coach Mike Shanahan, but I can also name at least 10 quarterbacks I'd take ahead of him in a standard league. Overall, I'd look for Griffin to be a middle-rounder.
M.F.: If Richardson lands in the right situation, I can see him emerging into a No. 1 fantasy runner. I know, I said the same about Ryan Mathews a few years back (I was one year off). But that was more about the situation than Mathews' overall skills and abilities. According to NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock, Richardson is the best running back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson in 2007. That is high praise. So imagine, if you will, that the Browns land Richardson with the fourth overall pick. He would instantly become the best offensive player on their roster, and I doubt he would lose carries to Montario Hardesty. With so many big-name runners coming off injuries, not to mention the increase in backfield committees, I wouldn't be afraid to roll the dice on Richardson in the second or third round in seasonal drafts.
M.F.: If I had to guess, I would project the Rams to land Blackmon with the sixth overall pick. That's a nice situation from a fantasy perspective, as the Oklahoma State product would almost instantly become the top option in the pass attack for Sam Bradford. As we all know, opportunity is a huge part of determining a player's fantasy appeal. In St. Louis, Blackmon would have more than his share of chances to make a real impact as a rookie. In a best-case scenario, Blackmon, who has been compared to Terrell Owens and Anquan Boldin, will be worth a middle-round look in fantasy drafts.
I'm in a keeper league and have Darren Sproles, DeMarco Murray, C.J. Spiller and James Starks at running back. My wide receivers are Steve Smith (CAR), Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Santana Moss. Keeping Murray and Thomas would only cost me ninth- and 10th- round choices. However, I could also retain Smith for a fifth-rounder. Who do I keep? - T. Brockie (via Facebook)
M.F.: The value you'll receive for keeping Murray and Thomas, two fantasy breakout candidates in my humble opinion, is too great to pass on in this situation. While Murray has had his issue with durability, the fact that he's costing you just a ninth-round pick makes him more than worth whatever risk might accompany him. Murray is also young at the age of 24, so he's a strong keeper. Thomas, who I think will be a top-10 fantasy wideout this season, is also a steal. With a star in Manning under center, I can see Thomas posting 80-plus catches, 1,200-plus yards and eight to 10 touchdowns. Like Murray, Thomas also has youth on his side -- the Georgia Tech product is just 24.
What are the chances of four quarterbacks going in the first round of fantasy drafts? - @Govie_ (via Twitter)
M.F.: Four quarterbacks? How about five? Even in a standard 10-team league, I can see Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and Newton all having their names called in Round 1. And that's coming from someone who has been a huge supporter of taking running backs in the first round for the last 11 years. Times are changing around the NFL, and the effect on fantasy football has been evident. Last season, five field generals put up 340-plus fantasy points. Furthermore, nine scored 250-plus points. Compare that to the running back position, which saw no one score 300 or more points (Ray Rice was closest with 296.84). In all, just four backs put up 250-plus points and only six had 200 or more. Couple those stats with the fact that the running back position will be weaker than ever from a fantasy perspective, and it's easy to see why owners need to simply go after the best player available (regardless of position) in 2012 drafts.
M.F.: The two names that stand out are Brees and Johnson, but I wouldn't make a final decision on the latter just yet. First, let's look at the other players involved. Mendenhall is coming off major knee reconstruction, while Turner is 30 and has posted 300-plus carries in three of the last four years. Nelson isn't going to score another 15 touchdowns, and Welker has more value at the position (especially in a PPR format). As good as Witten has been in the past, he's not someone to retain when you have a two-keeper limit. The one caveat here is Peterson, who like Mendenhall is also coming off a major knee operation. If reports on A.D. are positive leading into training camp, it would be tough not to retain a player of his caliber -- even if it's at the cost of decreased production for one season.
When would you draft Tim Tebow in a fantasy league? - @jacobpackrulzz (via Twitter)
M.F.: Unless Tebow somehow passes Mark Sanchez on the Jets' depth chart in training camp, I wouldn't draft him at all -- and that's coming from someone who absolutely loved the Florida product as a fantasy option in 2011. Think about it - do you really want to start a quarterback who could see around 20 snaps per game at the expensive of a full-time starter? Count me out of that scenario. Would Tebow become a hot waiver-wire option if Sanchez flounders and the Jets decide to start their new signal-caller? Absolutely. But for now, I don't see Tebow as a draftable option in most formats.
M.F.: I posted my latest fantasy mock draft a few weeks ago, and none of those running backs came off the board in the first round. Instead, Johnson and Forte were second-rounders, Murray and Charles were third-rounders, and Peterson was taken in the fourth round. The lone runners to come off the board in Round 1 were Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew. I did this draft back at the start of April, however, so things will no doubt change after this week's draft.
What are your thoughts on Alex Smith in 2012? Could he become a top-10 fantasy quarterback with all those new weapons? - @wsirwin33 (via Twitter)
M.F.: As much as the Niners upgraded their pass attack with the addition of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, I still can't see Smith moving into the top 10 in fantasy points at his position. Sure, he is coming off the best statistical season of his career and finished a respectable 14th among quarterbacks. But remember, there was no Peyton Manning last season. Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford both missed significant time due to injuries, while Josh Freeman and Joe Flacco were both busts. As a result, I think Smith would do well to simply duplicate his finish from 2011. Overall, I still see him as a No. 2 option.
M.F.: I'm not exactly in love with the idea of Kolb under center, but he's no lock to start - the team will hold a quarterback competition between Kolb and John Skelton. Regardless, Fitzgerald has proven that he doesn't need an elite signal-caller throwing him the football to have a solid season. Look at his 2011 totals - with a struggling Kolb and Skelton at the helm, he still finished fifth in fantasy points among wide receivers. I expect him to be drafted no later than Round 3 in most formats.