Fantasy mailbag: Don't overrate Cromartie in IDP leagues

Hi Michael, I was reading through your IDP rankings for defensive backs, and I didn't see Antonio Cromartie, DeAngelo Hall or Asante Samuel. Am I missing something? I'm a Bears fan and was also wondering if you think Devin Hester could be a 1,000-yard wide receiver this season. Best regards. -- M. Kjærsgaard, Denmark

Michael Fabiano: There are a lot of different scoring systems for leagues with individual defensive players, but I'm a firm believer that tackles should be the most valuable statistic (which is the reason linebackers are so valuable). Cromartie did have 10 interceptions and an impressive 18 passes defensed last season, but he made a mere 44 tackles (39 solo). I also don't think he'll reach double-digit interceptions in consecutive seasons, so he didn't make the list. The same holds true for Samuel, who had six interceptions and 18 passes defensed but finished with a mere 44 tackles (41 solo). As for Hall, he ranks 40th on our list of defensive backs.

Moving on to the Bears, I doubt any Chicago wide receivers will have a 1,000-plus receiving yards in 2008. In fact, the team has had just five 1,000-yard wideouts (Marty Booker, Marcus Robinson, Curtis Conway, Jeff Graham, Dick Gordon) in the Super Bowl era. However, I still like Hester as a late-round sleeper candidate in all formats.

I am allowed to retain three players in our PPR league. Who should I keep from Ben Roethlisberger, Marion Barber, Marshawn Lynch, Ryan Grant, Terrell Owens and Reggie Wayne? -- Tom, Albuquerque, N.M.

M.F.: I would definitely retain Barber and Lynch in order to secure your backfield, and I like Wayne as the third keeper. It's a close call, as Roethlisberger, Grant and T.O. are all solid options, but Wayne has added value in PPR leagues. In fact, only Randy Moss had more fantasy points in such formats among wide receivers in 2007. With Barber, Lynch and Wayne on the roster, I'd focus on another wideout and a quarterback in the first two rounds of the re-draft.

I'm in a 10-team keeper league that allows us to retain two players, but we lose the round we drafted them in the previous season. I plan to keep Tom Brady (Round 3), but I'm torn between Larry Johnson (Round 1), Roy Williams (Round 4), Fred Taylor (Round 5) and LenDale White (Round 11). I have the second overall pick in the re-draft. Thanks for the help! -- E. Zentz, Las Vegas, Nev.

M.F.: The fact that you have the second pick is a major factor in this decision. If you retain Johnson, you then lose that selection. I do think L.J. can rebound this season, but his long-term value is a little more clouded based on his age (he'll be 29 in November) and the heavy number of carries he's endured. As a result, I'd retain White based on the value (he's worth much more than an 11th rounder) and take the best running back on the board in the first round.

I'm in a PPR keeper league and have Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Marshawn Lynch, LaDainian Tomlinson, Marques Colston, Chris Cooley and Jason Witten, so I'm sitting pretty. Now I need to figure out who to take with my first-round pick (No. 6 overall) in the re-draft. Who are your top 10 rookies in a PPR keeper league? Thanks so much! -- C.J., Plymouth, Ind.

M.F.: To be honest, none of the wide receivers in this class excites me. There's potential with the likes of James Hardy, DeSean Jackson, Limas Sweed and Devin Thomas, but there are no wideouts like Calvin Johnson who are considered can't miss prospects. As a result, it shouldn't be a surprise that running backs will dominate the top 10 across the fantasy landscape: 1. Darren McFadden, Oakland; 2. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina; 3. Matt Forte, Chicago; 4. Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh; 5. Kevin Smith, Detroit; 6. Felix Jones, Dallas; 7. Ryan Torain, Denver; 8. James Hardy, Buffalo; 9. Devin Thomas, Washington; 9. Limas Sweed, Pittsburgh.

I'm in a 12-team, five-player keeper league and plan to retain Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Reggie Wayne. However, I'm not sure who my third keeper should be between Michael Turner and Wes Welker. Help! -- S. Appleman, Tucson, Ariz.

M.F.: With Houshmandzadeh and Wayne already on your keeper roster, there's no reason to retain Welker ahead of Turner. The new featured back in Atlanta has a ton of potential, both on the field and in the world of fantasy football, so I'd keep him and pair him with Tomlinson. If Turner's line allowed him adequate room to roam, he should rush for 1,000 yards with five-plus touchdowns.

I have been offered Ronnie Brown for Jamal Lewis in our keeper league. I like Brown, but is he destined to share carries with Ricky Williams this season? -- D. Jenkins, Jackson, Miss.

M.F.: I think Brown could have a slow start to this season as he returns from reconstructive knee surgery, and all reports indicate he will lose at least some carries to Williams. That makes Lewis, a true featured back in Cleveland, more attractive in seasonal formats. But in a keeper league, you need to look into the future rather than examine one season. Brown, 26, has more long term value than Lewis, who turns 29 this summer. I also doubt Williams will be in the mix for more than a season or two with Miami. As a result, I'd have to pull the trigger and accept this trade offer.

Hello Michael, I'm in a 12-team, three-player keeper league and have a solid backfield with Frank Gore, Ryan Grant and Adrian Peterson. However, I'm in desperate need of a quarterback and have been offered Matt Hasselbeck for Grant. I also have the No. 8 overall selection in the re-draft. Should I pull the trigger? -- A. Erickson, Passaic, N.J.

M.F.: I like Hasselbeck, but I think you can get more value for Grant. His stock has soared after a solid second half of last season, and I see him as a borderline first- or second-round selection in all drafts. Hasselbeck won't warrant even close to that level of consideration. Furthermore, he lost D.J. Hackett in the offseason and could be without Deion Branch for part of the season. Again, Hasselbeck is a nice No. 1 fantasy quarterback, but you can do better in exchange for Grant.

I'm in a 10-team PPR keeper league and can retain two players from LaDainian Tomlinson (Round 1), Chad Johnson (Round 3), Randy Moss (Round 4) and Tony Romo (Round 5). I plan to keep L.T., but who else should I retain? -- M. Aicard, San Diego, Calif.

M.F.: Moss outscored Romo in most standard PPR leagues last season, but I doubt the veteran wideout can duplicate the NFL-record 23 touchdowns he recorded. In fact, I've projected him to finish with about 100 fewer yards and seven fewer scores in NFL.com's Fantasy Football Magazine. I also projected Romo to have a small decrease in statistical success compared to his breakout 2007 season, but I think he'll outscore Moss in all formats that reward six points for passing touchdowns. I also think a superstar fantasy quarterback is more valuable than a stud wideout like Moss, so I'd have to side with Romo in this situation.

I'm in an eight-team league with 13-player rosters. I plan to retain Marion Barber, Willis McGahee and Reggie Wayne. Should I consider either Stephen Gostkowski or the Tampa Bay defense? I also have the first overall pick in the draft, but I'm not sure who to pick. Is Darren McFadden the best option? -- M. Bangerter, Layton, Utah

M.F.: It's never a good idea to keep a kicker or defense, so retain Barber, McGahee and Wayne. McFadden could find himself sharing the workload in Oakland with Justin Fargas and Michael Bush, but I still think he's the most talented rookie running back in the league. He won't make the same sort of impact as Adrian Peterson did in his rookie season, but McFadden is the best choice.

Mike, I can retain one player in a 10-team keeper league, but I lose the round the player was taken. My best choices are Joseph Addai (Round 1), Jamal Lewis (Round 3), Steve Smith (Round 4) and Ben Roethlisberger (Round 8). I have the second overall pick in the re-draft. Thanks! -- J. Hill, Tacoma, Wash.

M.F.: You will lose the second overall pick in the first round, but I still think it's a no-brainer to keep Addai. He's one of the better backs in fantasy football, and chances are you won't land a better option if you released him and kept the No. 2 pick.

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