Fantasy mailbag: Anderson a solid start in Week 16

Mike, I'm in a league that starts two quarterbacks and two running backs. I have to start two from Derek Anderson, Tom Brady and Kurt Warner at quarterback and Earnest Graham, Ryan Grant and Fred Taylor at running back. Which players should I start? -- M. Murray, Richmond, Va.

Michael Fabiano: I realize Brady had an awful stat line against the New York Jets, but I don't think that should prompt fantasy footballers to reserve him against a Miami team with one win on the season. The second quarterback to start is Anderson, who faces a Cincinnati defense that ranks 24th against the pass and has allowed 25 passing touchdowns. Of course, Warner would be more attractive if weather became an issue in Cincinnati are over the weekend. Graham has been a touchdown machine and remains a must-start back, so your decision boils down to Grant and Taylor. Both runners have tremendous matchups, but I'll side with Grant based on the fact that he's more of a true featured back.

What happens when two teams tie in the fantasy postseason? -- D. Hosmer, N/A

M.F.: The winner should be determined by total reserve points. However, that rule needed to be determined in the preseason in order to avoid arguments and potential hard feelings in the league. It makes sense to clarify the rule, whether it's total reserve points, the selection of one reserve player or a simple flip of a coin, before the postseason starts. You can also award the win to the higher seed, but again that needed to be set before the season.

I need to start three wide receivers from Chris Chambers, Jabar Gaffney, Santonio Holmes, Bryant Johnson, Santana Moss and Roddy White? -- A. Dufour-Monice, Canada

M.F.: White did little in a loss to Tampa Bay last week, but he's far and away the best wideout listed and should be active. Holmes is also a nice option on a fast track in St. Louis (Thursday, 8pm EST, NFL Network), but be sure to monitor his practice time. The former Ohio State standout has a sore ankle, and that could make him a risk if it does hinder him. Johnson would be the third option if either Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald misses Week 16, but both are set to start against Atlanta. Based on the matchups, I'd take a chance on Moss against a Minnesota defense is one of the worst in the NFL against the pass.

What is the status of Tony Romo? It looked like his thumb affected him against Philadelphia, and I'm worried that he's not 100 percent. Should I bench him in favor of Jay Cutler? -- D. Lynch, San Diego, Calif.

M.F.: Reports out of Dallas indicate the Cowboys will prepare for Week 16 as if Romo will start on Saturday night (8pm EST, NFL Network), and if he's active I'd start him against Carolina. The Panthers have allowed 11 passing touchdowns in their past five contests, and Romo will be motivated to put the bad taste of his awful performance against the Philadelphia Eagles behind him. I also doubt that Jessica Simpson will be in attendance at Bank of America Stadium, so the "minx jinx" shouldn't be in the cards.

I need to start two running backs from Kevin Jones, Jamal Lewis, Laurence Maroney, Aaron Stecker and LenDale White. Help! -- T. Mann, Des Moines, Iowa

M.F.: Lewis is a must-start back against Cincinnati, so Jones, Maroney, Stecker and White are left on the board. Saints head coach Sean Payton said he was "optimistic" that Reggie Bush would return in Week 16, and that scenario would make Stecker far less of an option against the Eagles. The matchups are all positive for the final trio of Jones, Maroney and White, but I'd side with the White in this case. The Tennessee runner faces a New York Jets defense that has been awful against the run, and he's been a better choice than Jones and much more consistent than Maroney.

I have Jason Witten and Kellen Winslow and have been starting the latter most of the season, but Witten has been the better tight end in recent weeks. Should I make the switch to Witten? I can use one of them at tight end and one at a flex position, but then I'd have to reserve one of Shaun Alexander, Laveranues Coles or Reggie Williams. In a leagues that rewards points for receptions, what should I do? -- M. Closser, England

M.F.: Since points are awarded for catches, I'd start Witten and Winslow. Believe it or not, but Witten (not Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez or Winslow) leads all tight ends in points on NFL.com. He's also been on fire in recent weeks, so it's hard to sit him. Winslow didn't produce much in last week's snowstorm in Cleveland, but next on the schedule is a vulnerable Cincinnati defense. In his last start against the Bengals, Winslow went for 100 yards and one touchdown in a 51-45 win. Alexander is over the hill, Coles is at far less than 100 percent and Williams can be unreliable, so I think Winslow is a simple call.

Which quarterback should I start in Week 16 from Jon Kitna, Carson Palmer or Philip Rivers? -- L. Benjamin, Tacoma, Wash.

M.F.: Palmer has thrown one touchdown pass in his past three starts, but its almost impossible to sit him against Cleveland. In his last start against the Browns, Palmer threw for 401 yards and a ridiculous six touchdowns. He also has 11 touchdown passes in his past three starts against them overall, so it's obvious that the Southern California product has had immense success. Again, outside of bad weather conditions in the area, it's hard not to like Palmer in this AFC North clash.

I'm out of the postseason after Tom Brady's disaster in Week 15, so now I have to look to 2008. Which three players should I retain from Brady, Ryan Grant, Brandon Jacobs, Larry Johnson, Cadillac Williams and Terrell Owens? -- S. Wills, New Hype Park, Mass.

M.F.: Brady should still be retained in most cases, and Johnson should return to elite status next season and remains an attractive keeper. The final player to retain has to be based on your league's scoring system. Should points be rewarded for catches and it's not a long-term keeper league, then I'd retain Owens. However, Grant could be the better choice if it's a larger standard format.

The one issue there is that Grant could be a one-season wonder (he's never come close to this number of carries at the NFL level), and the decision of Brett Favre to either return or retire also affects him. At this time I'd plan to retain Brady and L.J. and make a final choice closer to the 2008 season.

Somehow I won last week in a 16-team league with Shaun Hill at quarterback. I also have Brodie Croyle and Sage Rosenfels (I lost Michael Vick and Jake Delhomme -- we drafted before the Vick situation). Which one of this trio should I start in Week 16? -- J. Elliott, Sarasota, Fla.

M.F.: The matchups make Croyle (at Detroit) the best choice, but I'm more inclined to side with Rosenfels. The veteran quarterback has thrown four touchdown passes and scored a total of five over the past two weeks, and he has a nice selection of receivers in the pass attack in Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels. Again, Croyle does have the more favorable opponent, but not every player in the NFL can exploit the matchups.

Which two running backs should I keep for next season from Ronnie Brown, Reggie Bush, Edgerrin James and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson? -- B. Weeks, Tuscan, Ariz.

M.F.: Peterson is a definite keeper, and it's hard not to retain Brown despite the fact that he'll have to come back from a reconstructive procedure on his knee. Before he was lost for the season, Brown was the most productive running back in fantasy football. With immense medical advances and rehabilitation, Brown should be able to post solid numbers in 2008. Deuce McAllister was able to return to the Saints from a similar procedure last season, and he rushed for an impressive 1,000-plus yards and 10 touchdowns.

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