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Fantasy mailbag: Pittman clouds Denver's backfield situation

The Denver backfield has been a good place to find fantasy sleepers and studs in the past, but what does the addition of Michael Pittman do to the value of Travis Henry, Selvin Young and Ryan Torain? Is it better to avoid these backs altogether now? -- J. Carter, Reading, Mass.

Michael Fabiano: I doubt the Broncos will keep all four backs to open the regular season, so one of these four probably won't make the final 53-man roster. Henry has missed recent workouts with an injured hamstring, and his proneness to injuries is a cause for concern. Young believes he can rush for 2,000 yards this season, but that could be hard to achieve with such a crowded backfield. Torain might have the most upside and is the dark horse in the competition, while Pittman is a consistent veteran who can be useful on passing downs.

A committee could be the final result, but at this point the value of Henry and Young suffers the most with Pittman now in the mix. Until a move is made or one of these backs is released, neither Henry (if he's still on the Denver roster) nor Young should be seen as more than a low-end No. 3 fantasy back.

I'm in a 12-team, PPR keeper league and can retain one player, but we lose the round of the player we retain the next season. I have the option to keep Willis McGahee (Round 2) or Ben Roethlisberger (Round 10). I like Roethlisberger's value, but we start three running backs each week. I also have the No. 9 overall selection in the re-draft and might be able to re-acquire McGahee. Thanks! -- J. Mahan, Indianapolis, Ind.

M.F.: In a league that starts three running backs, I would assume that most teams will keep a back. In fact, the only teams I can see not keeping one would be the owners of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Randy Moss. That means there will be a number of attractive quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, etc.) thrown back into the pool of available players. If you're certain you can land McGahee in the re-draft, however, it does make sense to retain Roethlisberger based on the immense value. In that case, focus on backs in each of the first two rounds and don't focus on a No. 2 quarterback until the later stanzas.

I need to retain either Joseph Addai (Round 2) or Steven Jackson (Round 1) in a 10-team, PPR league. I lose the round the player was drafted, so is Addai the better option because of the round value? -- N. Rafael, England

M.F.: Addai is a better bargain based on the second-round selection (as opposed to a first rounder), but I'd still retain Jackson. He's a better receiver out of the backfield, will be motivated to produce in a contract year and will be the centerpiece of the St. Louis offense under new coordinator Al Saunders. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked to see him record better yardage numbers than LaDainian Tomlinson in 2008.

I am in a 12-team, PPR league that also awards one point for every 30 return yards and six points for all touchdowns. I can keep three players (maximum two per position), and I have to choose between Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck, Ryan Grant, Maurice Jones-Drew, Brian Westbrook and Antonio Gates. Thoughts? -- T. Gibson, Harrisburg, Pa.

M.F.: Westbrook is the most obvious keeper of the aforementioned players, and I like Grant a bit more than Jones-Drew based on his status as the featured back in Green Bay (not to mention his success in the 2007 season). The third player to retain is Gates, who remains the top tight end in fantasy football. With Westbrook, Grant and Gates on the roster, be sure to focus on a quarterback and wide receivers in the first four rounds of the re-draft.

After and incredible draft last season, I have Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Larry Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, Willis McGahee and Terrell Owens. Which three should I retain? I was thinking Brady, L.J. and Owens. -- M. Picard, Canada

M.F.: I agree with Brady and Johnson, but I would keep Lynch ahead of Owens. He's a tremendous breakout candidate in Buffalo this season and gives you a nice backfield duo with Johnson. Also, I think you'll have a much better chance to re-acquire T.O. in the re-draft.

I'm in a 16-team, PPR keeper league that allows owners to retain two players. I also have the No. 2 overall pick in the re-draft due to a less than stellar 2007 season. Which two players would you keep out of Marc Bulger, David Garrard, Eli Manning, Edgerrin James, Rudi Johnson, Jamal Lewis, Fred Taylor, Marvin Harrison and Roy Williams? -- G. Cutcliffe, Canada

M.F.: I'm a huge fan of Garrard headed into this season and would retain him ahead of Bulger and Manning. I think you also have to retain Lewis based on his immense success last season, not to mention he's the best runner on your current roster. You'll need to focus on running backs and wide receivers in the first two rounds of the re-draft. You could even re-acquire Johnson or Williams based on your draft position.

I'm in a 10-team, PPR keeper league and need to retain four players. I will keep Tony Romo and Adrian Peterson, but I'm not sure who to retain between Frank Gore, Larry Johnson and Reggie Wayne. I like Gore and Wayne because we receive points for catches. Advice? -- A. Gesin, McAlester, Okla.

M.F.: I think you're right on the mark with Romo, Peterson, Gore and Wayne as your four keepers. It's a close call between Gore and Johnson, but the former should produce career numbers in both receptions and scrimmage yards with new coordinator Mike Martz at the helm of the offense.

I am in a standard 12-team league and need to retain one of Marion Barber, Earnest Graham, Marshawn Lynch and Terrell Owens. Help! -- W. Hammett, Charleston, S.C.

M.F.: Barber is a tremendous keeper option in all fantasy formats, but I'd have to side with Lynch in this case. He's a more versatile back with a tremendous statistical ceiling, and there's no questioning his status as the featured back in Buffalo. Barber is the starter in Dallas and will see most of the goal-line work, but rookie Felix Jones will be utilized on passing downs and somewhat hurts his overall value.

I'm in a standard 12-team keeper league and need to retain five players from Drew Brees, Rudi Johnson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Turner, Reggie Wayne, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Wes Welker, Michael Turner. I want to retain Brees, L.T. and Wayne, but there are questions after that. Is Rudi on the decline? Is Turner enough of a young star to include in the nucleus of my team, even though the Falcons aren't a good team? Should I retain all three wide receivers? -- S. Appleman, Tucson, Ariz.

M.F.: I agree that Brees, Tomlinson and Wayne are the best options, and I'd retain Turner and Houshmandzadeh as well. Turner is a great fit for Atlanta's offensive attack, and you don't need to be in a stable offense to produce solid numbers at the running back position. Houshmandzadeh will be motivated to produce in what amounts to a contract year, and he's got a longer track record of statistical success than Welker.

I'm in a 12-team keeper league and can retain four players from Ben Roethlisberger, Julius Jones, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Turner, Marvin Harrison, and Jason Witten. I'm seriously considering keeping Roethlisberger, Lynch, Turner and Witten. What would you do?- -- R. Taylor, Michigan

M.F.: I think you're right on the mark to retain Roethlisberger, Lynch and Turner. I also like the decision to keep Witten ahead of Harrison, whose extended age and recent knee issues last season have really hurt his keeper value.

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