Fantasy mailbag: Brees deserves one last chance

I drafted Drew Brees, Jeff Garcia and David Garrard, and I'm not sure who to start in Week 5. Should I stick with Brees or trade him? -- N. Fogwell, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Michael Fabiano: Now is not the time to trade Brees, based on his decreased value, and I would stick with him this week against Carolina. The Panthers rank 20th against the pass, have allowed an average of 21.8 points per game, and they made Joey Harrington look like Steve Bartkowski back in Week 3. Garcia faces an Indianapolis defense that ranks seventh against the pass, and Garrard faces an underrated Kansas City defense that is fifth. Things can't get worse for Brees, who has one touchdown and seven interceptions after three starts, and the Saints should have corrected some of their offensive issues in their bye week.

I need to start three wide receivers from Braylon Edwards, Larry Fitzgerald, Shaun McDonald and Wes Welker. Who would you recommended? Also, I have been offered Joseph Addai for Peyton Manning. Since I also have Vince Young, should I make the deal? My running backs are a bit weak. -- R. Terry, Winston-Salem, N.C.

M.F.: Fitzgerald and Edwards are the best options at the receiver position and should be active, so your final decision boils down to McDonald and Welker. Based on the numbers, I'd side with Welker. McDonald has been a nice option, but he faces a Washington defense that ranks 13th against the pass. On the flip side, Welker faces Cleveland and their 30th-ranked pass defense. What's more, Welker is on pace for an incredible 92 catches and close to 1,000 yards based on his current level of production. Before I go ahead and deal Manning, I would look to trade Young instead. Addai is a solid fantasy back, but I'd prefer to keep Manning if at all possible. Take a look at the rest of the teams in your league and offer Young to someone who is desperate for a quarterback (the team that has Marc Bulger is a perfect example).

Which three wide receivers should I start from Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston, Santonio Holmes and Steve Smith? -- T. Cozins, England

M.F.: Smith has been unproductive without Jake Delhomme, but he's still a must-start fantasy wideout. Boldin should also be active if he can return from an injured hip, so be sure to check out our fantasy injury report throughout the week for his status. Colston has a solid matchup against Carolina, but Holmes has been too hot to reserve. The status of Hines Ward remains in doubt due to an injured knee, so Holmes could be the main option in the Pittsburgh pass attack against Seattle.

Do you think Brett Favre will be able to keep up his current pace of production? I heard one of the telecasts say that Green Bay will have to run more once the weather gets cold. I also have Ben Roethlisberger and have been playing the matchups this week. -- G. Blose, Daytona Beach, Fla.

M.F.: The Packers don't have a clear-cut or productive No. 1 running back, so they'll continue to lean on Favre until Vernand Morency or Brandon Jackson becomes a more reliable option. It will be hard for him to post immense stat lines on a week-to-week basis, and his statistical success could come to an end this week against Chicago. In his last four starts against the Bears, Favre has thrown one touchdown and nine interceptions. He also has some difficult matchups down the road with contests against Washington, Denver and Kansas City, so now might actually be a time to sell high on the future Hall of Famer.

I have been offered Larry Johnson for Edgerrin James. Should I make this deal? -- J. Brewer, Cincinnati, Ohio

M.F.: The decision here needs to be based on the schedule, so let's break it down. Johnson has contests against Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Oakland (2), Denver (2), Indianapolis, San Diego, Tennessee, Detroit and the New York Jets, while James faces St. Louis (2), Carolina, Washington, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Cleveland, Seattle, New Orleans and Atlanta. Johnson will face one team that ranks in the top half of the NFL against the run (San Diego) and has seven contests against teams ranked 22nd or worse. As for James, he faces two teams that rank in the top half of the league against the run (Washington, Seattle) and has eight contest against five teams ranked 22nd or worse. Based on the numbers, the teams and the offensive lines involved, I would make the deal and add Johnson.

Is it time to sit Torry Holt? I also have Deion Branch, Kevin Curtis, Brandon Marshall and Derrick Mason and need to start three wide receivers. -- M. Moore, Rockledge, Fla.

M.F.: Mason has been too productive to reserve if you're in a league that reward points for catches, otherwise he'd be the odd man out. Curtis is on a bye week, so he doesn't factor into the equation. Marshall has the best matchup against San Diego's 27th-ranked pass defense, and he'll be even more attractive if Javon Walker is out for a second consecutive week due to an injured knee. Despite less-than-attractive matchups, I'd also start Branch and Holt if the league is a standard format.

Who should I start in Week 5: Jake Delhomme, Eli Manning or Philip Rivers? -- J. Ford, Marion, Ind.

M.F.: Delhomme is not expected to return from an injured elbow in Week 5, so your decision boils down to Manning and Rivers. Based on the numbers, I'd side with the Giants quarterback. Manning faces a Jets defense that ranks 27th in the NFL against the pass, while Rivers heads to Denver to face the Broncos and their top-rated pass defense.

Which two running backs should I start this week between Brian Leonard, Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis? Also, should I bench Marvin Harrison and Javon Walker and start Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes instead? -- M. Brenner, Seattle, Wash.

M.F.: McGahee and Portis are the clear-cut starters at running back, but be sure to keep tabs on the latter's status. He sustained a mild knee sprain in a Week 3 loss to the Giants, but he had extra time to heal after a bye week and is expected to start against Detroit. Harrison missed Wednesday's practice with an injured knee, and his status for Week 5 is uncertain. The same holds true for Walker, who also has a knee issue and was inactive in Week 4. Until these two studs are 100 percent, I would stick with Edwards and Holmes. Once Harrison and Walker are available, I would also look to make a trade from that wideout depth to improve a weaker part of your roster.

I need to start Tatum Bell, Vernand Morency, Michael Pittman or Fred Taylor in Week 5. Who should I choose? -- C. Barron, Fresno, Calif.

M.F.: This is a choice between Pittman and Taylor, and it should boil down to your scoring system. If your league rewards points for receptions, I would side with Pittman. If your league is a standard format, however, Taylor would be the better choice.

I was lucky enough to draft Tom Brady and Tony Romo, but I'm thin at running back. Who should I look to target in a deal? -- M. Royal, Canada

M.F.: Romo and Brady are No. 1 and 2 in fantasy points in standard formats, so I wouldn't take less than a stud running back in return. As a result, you should target the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Ronnie Brown, Joseph Addai or Travis Henry. Brian Westbrook should also be included on this list, but I wouldn't deal for him until I knew he was available for Week 6.

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