Fantasy mailbag: Holt still has plenty of fantasy value in 2008

Where does Torry Holt belong on draft boards? What do you expect from him this season? -- D. Gill, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Michael Fabiano: Holt has fallen from the elite wideouts in fantasy football, but he's still quite valuable. In fact, the veteran out of North Carolina State should still be seen as a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy wideout. He has posted at least 93 receptions and close to 10 touchdowns in each of his past five seasons, and the return of a healthy Marc Bulger should mean another solid season in 2008. Based on his past success, Holt should be guaranteed to produce 90-plus catches, 1,100-1,300 yards and seven to nine touchdowns. He should come off the board in the first half of the middle rounds of most drafts.

I have the No. 7 overall selection in our 12-team league. Assuming that LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Brian Westbrook, Steven Jackson and Joseph Addai are off the board, which running back should I take? Would that spot be too soon to draft Marshawn Lynch? -- J. Bosdell, Richmond, Va.

M.F.: As much as I like Lynch, I think Portis is the sixth-best running back in seasonal drafts. The Washington runner should see the lion's share of carries in the offense of new head coach Jim Zorn, and he'll also be allowed chances to produce as a receiver out of the backfield as well. If Portis is unavailable, however, I'd draft Frank Gore. Despite what was an inconsistent 2007 season, Gore is still a surefire first-round selection now that Mike Martz is at the helm of San Francisco's offensive attack.

Marshall Faulk and Kevin Jones both saw their numbers (more to the point, their reception and scrimmage yard totals) increase in their first seasons under Martz, and Gore will be no different. I wouldn't be at all shocked to see Gore post 70 receptions and around 1,800 scrimmage yards this season.

This will be my fourth year playing fantasy football and I have always waited until the fourth or fifth round to take a quarterback. But after the position had so much success last season, should I now take a quarterback earlier? If not, who will be the most valuable options still available in the fourth or fifth rounds? -- A. Mihalopoulos, N.J.

M.F.: The decision to draft a quarterback in the earlier rounds should be based on the flow of the draft, not to mention the level of competition in your league. If your league showcases some experienced and knowledgeable fantasy football veterans, I think running backs will remain the prominent position taken in the first two rounds. But if your league has more rookies and novices, a run on quarterbacks in those rounds could be the norm.

In a recent experts mock draft, I took Tom Brady in the first round and finished with a not-so-attractive backfield of Jamal Lewis, Brandon Jacobs and Justin Fargas. Had I waited on the position, I could have drafted Ben Roethlisberger in Round 6 and had a backfield that included Marion Barber, Jacobs and Matt Forte.

While I wouldn't wait too long to take a quarterback, I do think you can wait until the fourth or fifth round in some cases. Even in a worst-case scenario, quarterbacks like Matt Hasselbeck, Derek Anderson, Donovan McNabb and David Garrard should still be on the board.

I'm in a 12-team league on NFL.com, and I just added Brett Favre off the waiver wire. My other quarterbacks were Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub, but I released Schaub to add Favre. Now I've been offered Tom Brady and Joey Galloway for Favre and Braylon Edwards. I also have Jerricho Cotchery, James Hardy, Brandon Marshall, Randy Moss at the wide receiver position. Should I make this trade? -- Jeff, Orlando, Fla.

M.F.: I would definitely make this trade. Even if Favre does come back, I think he has bust written all over him. You lose out at wide receiver, but the presence of Moss and Marshall makes it a little less difficult to part ways with Edwards. You can start Moss and Marshall week in and week out and use Cotchery or Galloway as a third wideout based on the matchups (if you start three receivers).

Of course, the real advantage here is getting Brady for a 38-year-old quarterback who you added off the waiver wire. And here's a little factoid to consider in the determination of Favre's value. Not only does he have the dreaded Madden curse hanging over his head, but only one quarterback (Fran Tarkenton) since 1970 has thrown for better than 17 touchdowns in his 18th NFL season. You guessed it...this would be Favre's 18th season.

Mark my words, even if he winds up as the starter ahead of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Favre won't duplicate his impressive 2007 totals.

Hi Mike, I'm in a 12-team standard scoring league that rewards six points for all touchdowns. I have been offered Justin Fargas, Brandon Jacobs and Hines Ward for Clinton Portis and Brandon Marshall. It looks bad on paper, but what if Marshall is forced to miss time due to off-field issues? I'd also add depth at running back. What's your opinion? -- B. Shi, Pittsburgh, Pa.

M.F.: Regardless of whether or not Marshall is suspended, I wouldn't make this deal. Fargas won't duplicate last season's success with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush in the Oakland backfield, and Jacobs needs to prove he can avoid injuries to make it to the next level of fantasy running backs. Portis is still one of the top runners in fantasy land, and despite his off-field issues, Marshall proved last season that he has the skills and abilities to make some serious noise between the white lines.

Tony Romo has been placed on the trade block in our league, and the team that has him wants running backs in return. I have Jake Delhomme and David Garrard at the quarterback position, and my running backs are Joseph Addai, Willis McGahee and Chris Johnson. The team that has Romo also has Jamal Lewis, Marshawn Lynch and Rashard Mendenhall. I was going to offer Delhomme and Addai for Romo and Lewis. Is this a worthwhile trade? -- S. Masterton, Scotland

M.F.: I would definitely make this offer. I think a team with Romo, McGahee and Lewis is a bit more attractive than one with Garrard, Addai and McGahee. You would lose a bit in the backfield in the loss of Addai, but the upgrade from Garrard to Romo is tremendous. To further compare these players, consider that the trio of Romo, McGahee and Lewis scored a combined 722 fantasy points on NFL.com last season. Garrard, Addai and McGahee combined for 598, or 124 fewer points.

The one issue is the other owner might not like the idea of a team that fields Delhomme, Addai and Lynch in favor of one that has Romo, Lewis and Lynch. In this case, the vast decrease at the quarterback position could be hard to swallow. If he doesn't bite on that deal, you might want to offer Garrard instead of Delhomme.

Out of all the rookie running backs with a chance to start this season, which one has the best offensive line? -- B. Henderson, Louisville, Ky.

M.F.: I'm going to leave Rashard Mendenhall out of this mix, because I don't feel like he has a chance to unseat Willie Parker atop the depth chart in Pittsburgh. Based on our look at last season's offensive line production and offseason additions, Ryan Torain has the best line in front of him. Denver's line ranked in the top 10 based on our research, and the addition of rookie T Ryan Clady should make it even better in 2008.

Believe it or not, the Detroit Lions had the second-best line among teams with a potential rookie starter based on our parameters. The team also added T Gosder Cherilus in the NFL Draft, so the line could improve further. Darren McFadden has his work cut out for him behind a porous Oakland line, but the team hopes T Kwame Harris and C John Wade can come in and make an impact.

Jonathan Stewart will run behind a line in Carolina with a lot of new parts, including rookie T Jeff Otah, so it should be an improved unit compared to its unspectacular 2007. The final back with a chance to start, Matt Forte, will run behind a line that struggled last season but added rookie T Chris Williams.

I'm in a 12-team PPR keeper league and can retain one player per position plus any additional player. I plan to keep Joseph Addai, Chad Johnson and Tony Scheffler, but can you help me decide between Marc Bulger and Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback and Laurence Maroney, Anquan Boldin, Dwayne Bowe and Roy Williams? Thanks! -- M. Redmond, Iowa

M.F.: Bulger should bounce back from a horrendous 2007 season, but I'd still retain Hasselbeck. He's one of the more underrated and consistent quarterbacks in fantasy football, and he's been far less prone to injuries than Bulger in recent seasons. As for the additional player to retain, I'd have to side with Maroney in order to help secure your backfield. Boldin and Williams have similar value (and Bowe isn't far behind) at the wide receiver position, so I'd be shocked if you couldn't re-acquire one of them in the re-draft.

What is your opinion of Kevin Curtis and Warrick Dunn? I selected them in our recent draft based on Curtis' numbers last season and Dunn's potential in Tampa Bay. How much value will each of these players have in 2008? -- M. Borja, San Diego, Calif.

M.F.: Curtis did post the first 1,000-yard season of his career in 2007, and I like him as a No. 3 fantasy wideout this season. However, keep in mind that 41 percent of his yardage and 83 percent of his touchdowns came in three games, so he wasn't at all consistent. Dunn's value does increase if Cadillac Williams is on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the regular season, but he's not someone you want to lean on in fantasy land. In fact, he's more attractive as a handcuff for owners who draft Earnest Graham. It's also not a positive sign for Dunn's value that the Buccaneers might have had some interest in Kevin Jones before the free agent signed with Chicago.

I need to retain two quarterbacks from Brett Favre, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer. I think Palmer is a lock, but what do I do now that Favre is back? -- C. Dodd, England

M.F.: Regardless of Favre's status, I still think you have to keep Manning along with Palmer. While I still have questions about him, Manning did seem to develop before our eyes in the postseason en route to a Super Bowl XLII championship. Even if Favre does come back, there's no guarantee he'll be able to duplicate last season's totals. Furthermore, Manning is far younger than Favre, who has another season or two before his final retirement.

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