Fantasy mailbag: Harris misses top Super Bowl RBs

How did Kurt Warner (Super Bowl XXXIV) not make your list of the top fantasy performances in a Super Bowl? What about Franco Harris (Super Bowl XIV)? I love the concept, I just think you missed the mark on these two players! -- J. Graham, Grand Forks, N.D.

Michael Fabiano: Warner did have a tremendous stat line against Tennessee, as he threw for a Super Bowl record 414 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-16 win. However, his numbers add up to 28 fantasy points. The 10th-best quarterback performance (Jake Delhomme, Super Bowl XXXVIII; Brett Favre, Super Bowl XXXI; Phil Simms, Super Bowl XXI) all scored 30 points, so Warner missed the mark. The same held true for Harris, who totaled 112 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in Pittsburgh's 31-19 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Those numbers equate to 22 points, which was one point short of our 10th-best running back performance from John Riggins, who scored 23 points in Super Bowl XVII.

I will retain LaDainian Tomlinson for the 2008 season, but I'm not sure whether I should also keep Reggie Bush. Is he still worth a high draft pick? Should I retain him? -- R. Latshaw, Cypress, Calif.

M.F.: Unless you're in a league that rewards points for receptions, Bush has been a bit of a disappointment in his first two NFL seasons. He did have some nice stat lines as the featured back after Deuce McAllister injured his knee, but Bush injured HIS knee and missed the Saints final four games. The decision on Bush depends on your league's points system and what other player options are available to retain, but he'll be kept in most cases based on his long-term statistical potential.

It might be better to first see what New Orleans does with McAllister, who continues to recover from his second reconstructive knee procedure in three years. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis hasn't made a decision on the back's future, as he's due a $1 million roster bonus in March, but chances are McAllister will return to the team in 2008.

What is the keeper value of Selvin Young for the 2008 season? Due to the success of Denver backs in the past, should I retain him ahead of Maurice Jones-Drew? -- H. Denton, Washington, D.C.

M.F.: Young has seen an increase in his seasonal and keeper value, but I'm not sure he'll be a true featured back in Denver. Head coach Mike Shanahan doesn't feel that Young can be an everydown runner, and reports now indicate that the Broncos would like to retain the services of Travis Henry. The veteran back told the Denver Post that he wants to "make it right" with the Broncos after a tumultuous 2007 season, so he could become that bruiser out of the backfield to complement Young in what would no doubt be a committee. Should that scenario come to fruition, it would hurt Young's value across the board. Regardless, I'd still retain Jones-Drew ahead of Young in all keeper leagues.

What is the status of Jamal Lewis with Cleveland? If he does remain with the team next season, can he duplicate his 2007 success? I have to retain either Lewis or Edgerrin James. Thanks! -- D. Herrin, Reno, Nev.

M.F.:Browns general manager Phil Savage predicted in the Canton Repository that the team would retain Lewis, who rushed for over 1,300 yards and scored 11 total touchdowns in 2007. The veteran back flourished behind an improved offensive line in what was a contract year, but he does turn 29 this summer and could be hard pressed to reach the same level of statistical success. Still, I'd prefer Lewis over James. The Arizona runner will turn the dreaded 30 this summer, and reports indicate the Cardinals could add a power back to pair with James in a backfield committee. Those little factoids make James a prime bust candidate and less attractive than Lewis, who should be a Brown in 2008.

I'm not convinced that Tom Brady should be the No. 1 overall selection in 2008 drafts. What sort of numbers do you predict for him? How far will he fall if Randy Moss leaves as a free agent? -- M. Edwards, Brooklyn, N.Y.

M.F.: I have always told fantasy footballers to beware the magical season, as a player's numbers are certain to fall. That has been the case with Peyton Manning, Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson in recent seasons, and I think the same will be true of the Stetson man. Brady should reach the 4,000-yard passing mark and record 30-35 total touchdowns, but to expect him to produce 52 scores again isn't realistic. Because of the rise of backfield committees, however, I can still see him as the No. 1 overall selection based on the fact that he's a lock to produce due to his own skills and the talent around him. In fact, I'd bet that he'll be one of three players to be drafted first overall along with Tomlinson and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson. Should Brady lose Moss, I'd rank him below Peyton Manning and Tony Romo but ahead of Drew Brees at the quarterback position.

I'm in an 18-team dynasty league and have to retain either JaMarcus Russell or Alex Smith. I was set to keep Russell, but now Smith has Mike Martz in San Francisco as his new offensive coordinator. Should I keep Smith instead? -- M. Christensen, Charleston, S.C.

M.F.: I have never been a fan of Smith, who was the first overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft based on two situations: 1. San Francisco needed a quarterback and 2. The quarterback class was very weak. Hindsight is 20/20, but the Niners would have been better off with Braylon Edwards in 2005 and Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler in the 2006 draft. Even with Martz at the helm of the offense, I still think Smith is no more than (at best) a No. 2 fantasy quarterback. What's more, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Shaun Hill, not Smith, opens the 2008 regular season atop the team's depth chart. Hill showed flashes of potential in his two starts last season, so Smith needs to impress in the preseason.

Russell, who didn't see much work in his rookie season, will open 2008 atop the Oakland depth chart. While there have been some rumors that head coach Lane Kiffin could be out of the mix, the Louisiana State product will be the main man in silver and black. He has a monster arm and a pile of potential, and I'd retain him ahead of Smith in keeper leagues.

Hi Mike, I saw NFL.com's mock draft and I'm shocked that three quarterbacks went in the first round. Do you think that will be the norm in most 2008 drafts? -- F. Manheim, Bellingham, Minn.

M.F.: The landscape of fantasy football has been altered after a 2007 season that saw quarterbacks thrive and running backs flounder. The aforementioned increase in the number of backfield committees has made numerous runners less consistent and valuable, but quarterbacks have taken their numbers to the next level in a league that has now become more pass laden in recent seasons. As a result, I'm not shocked at all that our first mock draft included three quarterbacks in the first round. I would also note that the rest of the players taken in the first round were true featured backs, which have become far less usual in the current state of the NFL backfield.

I drafted Roddy White in the middle rounds last season based on his status as a third-year wide receiver, and the moved worked out well for me. I tend to follow trends such as this one with wideouts, so who are the most prominent third-year receivers for 2008? -- K. Lofton, Houston, Texas

M.F.: The top third-year wide receivers for 2008 include Santonio Holmes, Greg Jennings, Brandon Marshall and Marques Colston, but all of these players are established as potential fantasy superstars. Some of the lesser names from the 2006 draft class include Derek Hagan, Sinorice Moss, Maurice Stovall and Demetrius Williams, but none of them will be drafted in most cases. If you want to find potential sleeper or breakout candidates among wideouts, I'd take a look at second-year players from the 2007 class like Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis, Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez, Dwayne Jarrett, Calvin Johnson, Jacoby Jones, James Jones, Robert Meachem, Sidney Rice, Laurent Robinson and Steve Smith.

What will happen with the backfield situation in Seattle? What round will Shaun Alexander be selected in most 2008 drafts? -- R. Bashman, Tacoma, Wash.

M.F.: It's obvious that Alexander isn't the same back that scored what was a record 28 total touchdowns in the 2005 season, so I'd look for Seattle to implement more of a backfield committee with Alexander and Maurice Morris. Of course, that's if the Seahawks decide to keep Alexander for next season. Reports out of Seattle indicate there's a definite chance the team will part ways with the veteran back in the offseason, so Alexander's value could be in for a significant alteration. As it stand, the former Alabama standout will be more of a middle-round selection as a No. 3 fantasy runner. He was taken in the sixth round of NFL.com's recent mock draft.

I have to protect either Deuce McAllister or Cadillac Williams in a league that rewards points for receptions. Please help! -- J. Krause, Canada

M.F.: It's impossible to make a decision on this right now, as rumors have circulated that Williams' career could be in doubt due to the torn patella tendon he sustained last season. That is just a rumor and not a concrete report, so it will be important to follow NFL.com for news on Williams in the offseason. Also remember that even if Williams is fine for the 2008 season, he'll no doubt lose carries to breakout back Earnest Graham. McAllister too sustained a serious knee ailment, but reports indicate he is on schedule in his rehabilitation. If I had to retain one of these backs now it would be Williams based on his age, but neither has much keeper value with their current status.

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