I have sworn by your fantasy advice for years. Now I have to ask -- what on earth should we do with Randy Moss? Should I keep him, bench him or try to trade him? My top three players at each position are Michael Vick, Matthew Stafford, Carson Palmer, Frank Gore, Matt Forte, Ryan Torain, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, Mike Sims-Walker and Moss. -- C. Ditzler, Lansdale, Pa.
Michael Fabiano: First off, thanks for the kind words. You certainly can't release Moss, and I'm not sure there is much of a trade market for him at this point. He's a mere 27th in fantasy points among wide receivers on NFL.com, and his value won't rise much with the Titans. You could include him in a package deal with someone like Stafford or Palmer and look for a potential upgrade at wide receiver, but even then it's hard to deal him.
With all the recent injuries, I am hurting at the wide receiver position with DeSean Jackson, Steve Smith (NYG), Kenny Britt and Mike Williams (SEA). At running back, I have Cedric Benson, Beanie Wells, Benjarvus Green-Ellis, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Jacobs. Which runner should I trade and what kind of wideout can I expect in return? I was thinking of going after Miles Austin or Terrell Owens. -- J. Gibson, Seattle, Wash.
M.F.: I would be looking to sell high with Green-Ellis, Blount or Jacobs, as all three of these backs have put up some attractive numbers in recent weeks. You could even package any two of those three running backs and look to land a solid wideout in return. However, I'm not sure you'll be able to acquire either Austin or Owens straight up for any of your backs. Benson has been inconsistent, and Wells hasn't been good enough to be considered a viable 1-for-1 exchange for either receiver. If you're dead set on getting a wideout of their caliber, though, you could also offer any running back other than Benson and pair him with Williams in an attempt at a 2-for-1 transaction.
I picked up and started Stafford last week as a bye-week replacement for Vick and Jay Cutler. Now that Vick is expected back, which one of Stafford or Cutler should I retain for the remainder of the season? -- C. Surrey, England
M.F.: I think there is far more upside in Stafford down the stretch. Not only is he less prone to turnovers than Cutler, but he also has far better weapons around him. Both quarterbacks have favorable schedules, so that's a wash. While I do like Cutler more than Stafford in Week 9 -- he'll go up against a very lowly Bills defense in Toronto -- Stafford faces some opponents with questionable defenses like the Bills, Patriots and Buccaneers in the coming weeks. What's more, I trust Stafford to exploit good matchups more than Cutler because of the Bears' swiss cheese offensive line. I'd try to deal Cutler before I release him, but at the end of the day I'd rather have Stafford.
M.F.: I don't like holding three quarterbacks unless I have the roster room, but I can understand the move in this situation. With Schaub playing at such a mediocre level, I think Ryan is your best bet for fantasy production in Week 9. He's at home facing a Buccaneers defense that can be vulnerable to the pass at times. That was evident earlier this season, when it allowed three touchdown passes to Charlie Batch. Believe it or not, but Schaub (vs. Chargers) and Fitzpatrick (vs. Bears) are facing the two teams that have allowed the least amount of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Though I can see that Chargers-Texans game turning into a shootout, the numbers say that Schaub could be in for a rough afternoon. The Bolts have allowed just one quarterback (Vince Young) to score more than 14 fantasy points against them this season.
Good call on Blount last week! I picked him up off waiver and he was tremendous. Here's the trick -- I dropped Green-Ellis to clear a space for him! Anyways, I have another backfield dilemma this week. Who should I start from Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Peyton Hillis and Blount? I like to play the matchups, but it's always hard to bench either Rice or Foster. Also, should I start Tom Brady or Ryan at quarterback? -- E. Barnes, West Virginia
M.F.: Glad to help! Foster is an absolute no-brainer, so your decision boils to Rice, Hillis and Blount. I also find it hard to put Rice on the pine, but how do you bench Hillis right now? He's become a featured runner for the Browns and a rock-solid starter for fantasy owners. Hillis is on pace for better than 1,000 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns. Despite his size, he's also on pace for better than 60 catches and over 400 yards as a receiver out of the backfield. Compare that to Rice, who is on pace for over 1,100 rushing yards but only 55 catches, 320 receiving yards and five total touchdowns. Rice also has a tougher matchup in Week 9, facing a Dolphins defense that has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Unless you can deal Hillis to improve a weaker part of your team, I'd start him ahead of Rice. At quarterback, I'd start Brady over Ryan based on the matchups. He faces a Browns defense that's allowing an average of close to 15 fantasy points per game to signal-callers.
M.F.: After what I saw last week against a pathetic Jaguars pass defense, there's no way I can advise anyone to start Kitna. Fitzpatrick doesn't have a favorable matchup on paper, but I still have more faith playing him in a "home" game than I do Kitna playing on the road against the Packers. Considering his numbers in recent weeks, the Harvard alum is a very viable fantasy starter -- especially when you don't have another legitimate option at the position. At wide receiver, I would bench Bowe. As good as he's been in recent weeks, Wayne and Austin are just too valuable to sit. Even with Kitna's struggles a week ago, Austin still hauled in seven passes for 117 yards.
M.F.: Barring some sort of setback, Vick should be your starter. Before being injured against the Redskins, Vick was averaging close to 26 fantasy points per game as the Eagles' No. 1 quarterback. In fact, he was the highest-scoring player in fantasy football. His upside is much higher than Flacco, who has put up good numbers at times but is by no stretch a consistent fantasy option. I'd be sure to monitor Vick's participation at practice this week, but if he's a go then there's no way you should bench him.
M.F.: Tamme was certainly a nice sleeper last week, and there's no doubt he'll be one of the hottest names on the fantasy waiver wire this week. In fact, I have him ranked in the top 10 among tight ends heading into this week's matchup against the Eagles. At running back, I would start Mendenhall and Bradshaw. Forte does have the best matchup of the backs you've mentioned and is a nice option, but he's also been maddeningly inconsistent. Mendenhall has become a must-start runner in most leagues, and the Bengals haven't been great against the run this season. Bradshaw also has a nice matchup, facing a Seahawks defense that's allowed an average of close to 19 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Clearly, Woodhead is a distant fourth in this situation.
I've been offered Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Turner for Mendenhall and Roddy White. I'm pretty stacked at receiver with Megatron, Terrell Owens, Jacoby Jones, Davone Bess and Vernon Davis. I hate to give up White in a PPR league, but I need a quarterback upgrade over Matt Cassel and Sam Bradford. Should I pull the trigger? -- C. Livermore, Las Vegas, Nev.
M.F.: The decision here depends on how many receivers you have to start each week. If you start two receivers and Davis is eligible at the position, I would make the move. In that case, Roethlisberger would be a major upgrade at quarterback, you'd get Turner to replace Mendenhall, and you could still start Johnson and Owens each week at the receiver spot with Davis as a third option. But if you start three receivers and a tight end, I'd pass on this offer because it would hurt your depth. In that case, you'd be left to start Bess as your third wideout each week. He's been a nice option, but Bess is obviously a major downgrade from a superstar player like White.
I have the option to start two running backs from Blount, Jahvid Best, Reggie Bush and Joseph Addai. I am already starting Roddy White and Brandon Marshall at wide receiver, but I could also insert Pierre Garcon, Steve Johnson or Randy Moss into the starting lineup in place of one of the backs. Help! -- R. Buchanan, Canada
M.F.: Addai and Bush are both injured and likely out for Week 9, and Moss is on a bye as the newest member of the Titns. As a result, I would start Blount and Garcon. Best has been non-existent in recent weeks, and now he'll have to face a Jets defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. That makes him someone to avoid in fantasy leagues, especially when you have someone like Blount as a potential replacement. He's become the featured back in Tampa Bay and has a much better matchup against the Falcons. I also like Garcon, who will continue to see a ton of targets in the Colts offense while Austin Collie is out of action.