Fantasy mailbag: Schaub 's value on the rise

Would you rank Matt Schaub ahead of Jake Delhomme as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback? I can add Schaub, as he's on the waiver wire. Is he the perfect sleeper? - S. Talley, Virginia

Michael Fabiano: Schaub might not be the perfect sleeper, but he did look incredible in his first preseason as an NFL starter. The former Virginia standout completed close to 73 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions in three starts. Delhomme is a viable No. 2 fantasy quarterback, but I tend to side with potential when dealing with players that possess similar value. Since Schaub's upside is far greater than that of Delhomme, I'd add the Texans quarterback off the waiver wire.

Who should I start as my flex player in Week 1: Warrick Dunn, Clinton Portis or Hines Ward? - T. Manus, Summerville, S.C.

M.F.: Dunn will share carries with sleeper Jerious Norwood and faces a Minnesota defense that ranked No. 1 vs. the run last season, so the decision here boils down to Portis, Ward and your league's scoring system. Portis completed a full practice without hindrances on Monday and will start against Miami. However, Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs told the Redskins official website that Portis will "start off and he and Ladell (Betts) will take the load," so Portis could be limited in his production. He's still the better flex option unless points are rewarded for receptions, in which case Ward is more attractive. The veteran has recorded 28 receptions, 341 yards and three touchdowns in his past five contests against the Browns.

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Who has the most potential between Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor? I have Taylor as my No. 3 fantasy back and would like to trade him. What other backs have similar value? - F. McNutt, Australia

M.F.: Jones-Drew has far more potential, but Taylor is still atop the depth chart and will start against Tennessee. The veteran out of Florida is still a viable No. 3 runner -- he did record over 1,100 yards on the ground and six total touchdowns last season -- but if you put him on the trade block you should target the likes of Jamal Lewis, Julius Jones, LaMont Jordan or rookie runner Brandon Jackson.

I had my first fantasy football draft this week and would like to get your opinion on my team. I had the No. 10 overall selection. Round 1: Laurence Maroney; Round 2: Reggie Bush; Round 3: Deuce McAllister; Round 4: Roy Williams; Round 5: Laveranues Coles; Round 6: Philip Rivers; Round 7: New England defense; Round 8: Randy McMichael; Round 9: Jerricho Cotchery; Round 10: Jerious Norwood; Round 11: Joe Horn; Round 12: Joey Harrington; Round 13: Greg Olsen; Round 14: Mike Nugent. How did I do? - M. Holtmoen, Norway

M.F.: I tend to draft two runners in the first two rounds and a stud wideout in Round 3, but it doesn't hurt at all to have Maroney, Bush and McAllister. You'll have to use Norwood in Week 4 since the Saints are on a bye, but otherwise your backfield is solid. I like Rivers as a fantasy starter, but I think you could have done much better than Harrington as a No. 2. Your receivers are decent if you don't mind using two Jets (if you're required to start three wideouts). McMichael is a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy tight end, but he has the same bye as Olsen so you'll have to make a move at the position in Week 9.

I think you took the New England defense too soon -- I wait until the last three rounds for a kicker or defense -- and Nugent is a serviceable booter. You have enough high-value players to compete, but I'd keep close tabs on the waiver wire to add talent at quarterback, wide receiver and tight end.

I'm a little worried about Torry Holt's knee. My other wideouts are Plaxico Burress, Terry Glenn and Javon Walker. Is Holt OK for this week? Also, which of these receivers has the best chance for a breakout season: Anthony Gonzalez, Bryant Johnson, James Jones and Troy Williamson? - J. Book, Canada

M.F.: Holt's knee has become a concern for fantasy owners, but Rams head coach Scott Linehan said his stud wideout "looked to be 100 percent to me" after Tuesday's practice. Barring setbacks, the veteran should be active in Week 1 against Carolina. In your case, Holt and Walker should be your top starters with Burress as the third if you require three wideouts. A breakout season is tough to accomplish for a rookie wideout and Williamson is in an offense that will lean on the run, so I don't see any of these four having a monster season. If I had to take one for this season, however, it would be Gonzalez.

Who should I start in Week 1: Drew Brees or Tony Romo? - A. Hoffman, Houston, Texas

M.F.: Romo has a fantastic matchup against a Giants defense that is riddled with injuries, but Brees is far too valuable to reserve. The All-Pro quarterback threw just four incompletions in his final three exhibition starts and is a tremendous option against a Colts defense that has a lot of new parts this season. Brees will also have his top two wideouts, Marques Colston and Devery Henderson, back for this contest, so look for him to thrive.

I drafted Matt Hasselbeck and Philip Rivers, but I'm not sure who to start in Week 1. What would you do? -- E. Mata, N/A

M.F.: As much as I like Rivers as a fantasy starter this season, Hasselbeck should be active ahead of him this week. Rivers faces a difficult challenge against a Bears defense that was one of the first units taken in all fantasy drafts, while Hasselbeck battles a Buccaneers defense that is far less formidable.

I need to start Drew Bennett, Bernard Berrian or Kevin Curtis as my No. 3 fantasy wideout this week. Advice? - A. Schindler, Lincoln, Neb.

M.F.: Bennett should be a nice red-zone option for Marc Bulger, but he's dealing with a sore quadriceps and could be a bit limited. Be sure to keep tabs on his status throughout the week. Curtis has great speed and is viable No. 3 or 4 fantasy receiver against Green Bay, but I'd side with Berrian this week. He had a terrific preseason with a total of eight receptions, 138 yards and two touchdowns, and Berrian should be prominent for the Bears vs. a Chargers defense that can be somewhat vulnerable to the pass.

I agree that Brady Quinn will be the Browns' starting quarterback sooner than later. When he does overtake Charlie Frye, will the rookie have any fantasy value? - R. Bencivengo, Cleveland, Ohio

M.F.: Quinn has a ton of value in keeper leagues, but whether or not he can produce solid numbers on a consistent basis as a rookie remains to be seen. When he does pass Frye on the depth chart -- and he should before midseason -- Quinn will be worth a roster spot in seasonal leagues with 12-plus teams. However, I'm not sure he'd be a No. 2 fantasy quarterback -- consider him more of a third option.

Michael, I know you don't like having two kickers or two defenses on your roster, but what happens when your No. 1 kicker or defense has a bye? I'm not about to release New England's defense for a one-week unit off the waiver wire. What should I do? - M. Nieto, Argentina

M.F.: When the time comes for the Patriots to have their bye (Week 10), simply release the least valuable player on your roster and add a defense with a nice matchup. After the bye week is over, drop the second defense and add another offensive skill position player off waivers. The same scenario goes for your kicker, unless you have an expendable one and can drop him for a bye-week replacement. Here's an example -- if you have, say, Jason Hanson and he hasn't been consistent all season, there's no reason not to release him and add another kicker with similar value when the Lions have their bye (Week 6).

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