How does Warrick Dunn's back injury affect the value of Jerious Norwood? Should he be considered a viable No. 2 fantasy back? Where will he be selected in drafts? - J. Smith, La Verne, Calif.
Michael Fabiano: With Dunn out of action for awhile, Norwood will no doubt see most of the work with the first-team offense in training camp and should be considered the favorite to start for head coach Bobby Petrino. As a result, look for the explosive runner out of Mississippi State to develop into a solid fourth- to six round sleeper pick and No. 3 fantasy back. Dunn, 32, feels he won't miss the preseason contests, but that remains to be seen. He will remain an important part of the offense once he returns, but Dunn's best statistical seasons are in the rearview mirror. Look to draft him as a borderline No. 3 or 4 fantasy runner.
What sort of value will Daunte Culpepper have in Oakland? Is he the favorite to start, or is Josh McCown still atop the depth chart? - L. Sanders, St. Paul, Minn.
M.F.: I doubt that Culpepper would have signed a contract if he didn't have a chance to compete for the top spot on the depth chart. In fact, head coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday that Culpepper would be well in the mix throughout training camp for a prominent role. In the event that he does win the battle, Culpepper will be worth a late-round flier in most formats. However, owners still shouldn't expect him to re-emerge into a reliable fantasy starter on a team with more questions than answers on the offensive side of the football. Furthermore, the former fantasy stud hasn't had a productive season since 2004, and the health of his knee remains a cause for at least some concern. The bottom line here is that whoever opens the season as the starter, Culpepper or otherwise, has no long-term value with JaMarcus Russell waiting in the wings.
M.F.: Maroney and McGahee are the most obvious choices, so your final decision boils down to McNabb, James and Holt. McNabb is a high-risk, high-reward keeper who could be on the hot seat in Philadelphia in the near future with the addition of second-round pick Kevin Kolb. So I'm not sure I like his long-term value of McNabb in the City of Brotherly Love. James is a nice choice if the league requires a flex starter or you have a bad spot in the first round of the re-draft, otherwise I would retain Holt, who is on a short list of elite wide receivers.
How will Frank Gore's hand injury affect his value in drafts? Is in danger of missing the start of the regular season? Should I now retain Willis McGahee ahead of him? - E. Lane, Los Angeles.
M.F.: I would still retain Gore ahead of McGahee, as his injured hand isn't expected to keep him out of action once the regular season starts. In fact, 49ers head coach Mike Nolan believes his stud runner could be back late in the preseason and return to practice with a cast on his hand. Unless he has a setback, Gore should remain a top-five selection in most seasonal drafts and a tremendous keeper across the board.
What are your thoughts on drafting Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister in the first two rounds? Aside from their bye week, is this a viable idea? - R. Tuttle, Charlotte, N.C.
M.F.: As someone who owned Bush and McAllister on a fantasy team that won a championship last season, I don't think having this dynamic duo on the same roster is an issue at all. While I wouldn't exactly target them in the first two rounds - it's better to use a personal rank list or the NFL.com rank list in our draft kit and take the best back on the board - I wouldn't be afraid to choose Bush and McAllister if it came to that.
I'm in a league that rewards one point per reception and starts two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers, one flex, one tight end, one kicker and one defense. How should the added quarterback alter my draft strategies? - A. Buck, Philadelphia.
M.F.: I think it's still important to target two running backs in the first two rounds unless quarterbacks are taken at a rampant pace. But rather than take a wide receiver in the third round, as is a main guideline of the NFL.com draft strategy, I would turn the focus on the quarterback position. Since you only need to start two wide receivers, it's advised to also take one less wideout and take a second quarterback in the middle rounds. I would also be sure not to select multiple kickers of defenses, and instead use one of those reserve spots on a third field general. A sleeper like J.P. Losman or Jason Campbell would serve your team well.
How will the return of Priest Holmes alter the value of Larry Johnson? If he makes the team, will Holmes share carries with Johnson? - A. Ferris, Longmont, Colo.
M.F.: In the event that both Johnson and Holmes are on the final 53-man roster, owners should expect L.J. to remain the featured back with Holmes in a reserve role with either Michael Bennett or Kolby Smith. While the name Priest Holmes strikes excitement in some owners, the fact remains that he hasn't played football in 22 months and he won't practice in pads for another month. Unless L.J.'s holdout extends deep into the preseason and threats the start of the regular season, Holmes should be considered no more than a viable handcuff in fantasy football drafts.
Hi Michael, I had my first fantasy football draft and I would like for you to rate my team. Round 1: Joseph Addai, Round 2: Laurence Maroney, Round 3: Marshawn Lynch, Round 4: Cedric Benson, Round 5: Philip Rivers, Round 6: Darrell Jackson, Round 7: Ben Roethlisberger, Round 8: D.J. Hackett, Round 9: Carolina defense, Round 10: Drew Bennett, Round 11: Greg Jennings, Round 12: Stephen Gostkowski, Round 13: Owen Daniels, Round 14: Kevin Curtis. How can I improve this team? - M. Nieto, Argentina.
M.F.: I've never been one to tell someone they focused on running backs too much, but four backs in the first four rounds is a little much. Addai and Maroney were nice choices and I can even see taking Lynch in the third round if there were still several solid quarterbacks and wide receivers on the board, but taking Benson effectively made your core of receivers less than attractive. Jackson isn't close to a No. 1 fantasy wideout - I've taken him as a No. 3 is some drafts - and while I love Hackett this season he shouldn't be selected as a No. 2 fantasy wideout. Furthermore, Daniels isn't consistent enough to be a fantasy starter at the tight end position and taking the Carolina defense in the ninth round was too soon. What you need to do to improve this team is make trades - lots of them - and be diligent on the waiver wire. I would put Lynch and Benson on the block and look to land a solid wide receiver in return for one of them. Since Addai and Lynch have the same bye week, you might want to focus on a deal that involves the rookie runner.
I used to have Michael Vick as my No. 1 quarterback, but now I'm left with Matt Schaub (how ironic) and Trent Green. Other owners in the league are offering me deals to replace Vick such as Matt Hasselbeck and Deion Branch for Steve Smith. Should I make a trade? My top running backs are Larry Johnson and Willis McGahee, and my top wideouts are Marques Colston, Smith and Javon Walker. I also have Braylon Edwards and Mike Furrey. What should I do? - P. Thureen, Brooklyn, N.Y.
M.F.: I wouldn't panic and make a hasty trade, but to land Hasselbeck and Branch for Smith in a standard format that doesn't reward points for receptions is a viable option. That would give you an upgrade over Schaub at the quarterback position and still leaves Branch, Colston and Walker at wide receiver. Before I did make the deal, however, I would look to package Schaub and Edwards in an attempt to keep Smith and still add an upgrade at quarterback.
M.F.: Despite his poor numbers in 2006, Williams still warrants a wide receiver the caliber of Roy Williams, Javon Walker, Marques Colston or Donald Driver in return. Remember that a featured back with little to no competition for carries is still a valuable asset in the world of fantasy football, so Williams still has some real trade value. I would even look to acquire a stud like Anquan Boldin or Reggie Wayne if the owner who owns them is desperate for a runner.