Fantasy mailbag: The changing landscape of fantasy football

With all of the running back problems this season, what changes do you see for 2008 drafts? My personal top five picks right now are Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Adrian Peterson, Randy Moss and LaDainian Tomlinson. S. Hout, Albany, N.Y.

Michael Fabiano: I'd have to agree with that top five at this time, and it's true that this season has altered the landscape of fantasy football drafts. Most fantasy analysts (myself included) have always been steadfast on the importance of running backs, but it's time to change that train of thought. As the NFL has changed into a passing league, so should fantasy football look to add quarterbacks and wide receivers earlier in drafts. I still think running backs will be prominent in the first two rounds, as the likes of Peterson, Tomlinson, Joseph Addai, Ronnie Brown, Reggie Bush, Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, Willis McGahee, Willie Parker and Brian Westbrook will be off the board. However, you won't see owners take chances on the likes of Shaun Alexander, Cedric Benson, Ahman Green, Thomas Jones or Deuce McAllister until the middle stanzas. Instead, quarterbacks and wideouts will be far more dominant. We still have six more weeks in this fantasy season, but I have to admit I'm already fired up to prepare for 2008.

Michael, nice call on Brett Favre last week. I started him ahead of Carson Palmer and won! Anyways, now I have to make the same decision in Week 11: Favre or Palmer? -- L. Richards, Canoga Park, Calif.

M.F.: When Favre faces Minnesota, he's been almost guaranteed to throw for 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns. It's one of those odd trends that seems to work all the time. As far as this week, I'd have to stick with Favre. He has a slightly better matchup than Palmer, he faces a Carolina defense that ranks 14th against the pass and has allowed an average of almost 205 passing yards per game on the road. Palmer faces an underrated Arizona defense that ranks 10th against the pass and has surrendered an average of just 176.2 passing yards per game on the road.

Frank Gore has been an absolute disaster for me this season. Should I bench him in favor of Ryan Grant this week? Also, should I start Matt Hasselbeck or Vince Young? -- D. Lawrence, Sioux City, Iowa

M.F.: I have been impressed with Grant, who has come out of nowhere to become a fantasy starter in recent weeks. However, I would have to start Gore ahead of him in Week 11 based on the level of opponents. Grant faces a Carolina defense that ranks 18th overall against the run, but they've allowed an average of just 98.8 rushing yards per game on the road. Gore faces a St. Louis defense that ranks 22nd overall against the run and has surrendered an average of close to 30 points and 114.6 rushing yards per game on the road. Young produced a decent fantasy stat line in a loss to Jacksonville, but he's too inconsistent to start ahead of Hasselbeck. The Seattle quarterback ranks 10th overall in fantasy points on NFL.com, so keep him active against Chicago.

I lost Adrian Peterson for this week, but I did have Chester Taylor as a handcuff. Now I have to decide between Taylor and Jesse Chatman as a flex starter for Week 11. Advice? -- G. Anthony, England

M.F.: It's hard not to love Taylor, who faces an Oakland defense that ranks 29th against the run. Chatman was impressive in a loss to Buffalo and is a viable option this week in Philadelphia, but I'd have to side with Taylor. Remember, this was a 1,200-yard back last season, so he's no slouch at the position.

I have been offered Andre Johnson for Steve Smith. Should I make this trade or is Johnson too much of a risk? -- O. Razzone, Sarasota, Fla.

M.F.: Based on Smith's numbers and the status of the quarterback position in Carolina, I would accept this trade. Johnson has practiced this week without limitations, and he appears to be set to return in Week 11. He'll also have his quarterback, Matt Schaub, back under center. Of course there is a bit of risk involved, but I'd make that move with confidence.

What is the status of Marshawn Lynch for Week 11? Should I be concerned? I could add Anthony Thomas as insurance, but I would be forced to release Todd Heap (I also have Jason Witten). Suggestions? -- H. Matthews, Marietta, Ga.

M.F.:Bills head coach Dick Jauron said Lynch's ankle is "sore," but there is no fracture. However, there's a chance that he'll be limited or out for this week's contest against a tough New England defense. Be sure to check out NFL.com's fantasy injury report on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for the most up-to-date news. Since you have Witten, who is one of the top three tight ends in fantasy football this season, I would be more apt to release Heap and add Thomas as insurance. However, I would first look to see if I could deal Heap and get some value in return.

Which quarterback should I start in Week 11: Marc Bulger or Ben Roethlisberger? -- M. Johanssen, Little Rock, Ark.

M.F.: Bulger has had two consecutive solid performances, but he's still not on the same level of Roethlisberger. With his three-touchdown performance against Cleveland, Roethlisberger has moved into the third overall position based on fantasy points on NFL.com. He's on pace for close to 3,600 passing yards and close to 40 total touchdowns, and he's become a must-start fantasy quarterback. Big Ben also faces the New York Jets this week, so the matchup is favorable.

I'm in an 8-team league and have lost Larry Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Deuce McAllister! Now I'm left to start Priest Holmes and Jesse Chatman until L.J. and A.P. come back. I have been offered Willie Parker for Drew Brees and Chatman, which would leave me with Derek Anderson at quarterback. The owner who has Parker is loaded at running back but doesn't have a consistent quarterback. Should I make this deal? -- V. Douglas, Canada

M.F.: I know the feeling -- I've lost Johnson, McAllister and Ronnie Brown in different leagues this season. As for the trade, I think it makes a lot of sense. Anderson has proved to be the real deal for owners, and he has tremendous matchups against the Jets, Buffalo and Cincinnati in the fantasy football postseason. Parker hasn't found the end zone much, but he is durable and a nice source of rushing yards. If you are required to use a flex starter, there's a chance you'll have Johnson, Peterson and Parker all active down the stretch.

I need to start three wide receivers from Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston, Lee Evans, Greg Jennings and Roddy White. Help! -- B. Stevenson, Lafayette, La.

M.F.: I love Boldin this week against Cincinnati's porous pass defense, and Colston has re-emerged into a must-start wideout in recent weeks. That leaves the decision between Evans, Jennings and White. This is a difficult call, but I would side with Jennings over Evans. The Green Bay wideout has a slightly better matchup, and Evans has done zilch in his career against New England. In his past five games against the Patriots, Evans has a combined 13 catches for 139 yards and no touchdowns.

I have a difficult decision to make this week. Should I start Rudi Johnson or LenDale White? -- D. Malone, Chesapeake Bay, Va.

M.F.: Barring setbacks from an injured knee sustained last week, I would have to side with White ahead of Johnson. He faces a Denver defense that ranks 31st against the run so his chance to produce solid numbers is evident. Johnson has been one of the bigger disappointments in fantasy football, and he'll face an Arizona defense that has allowed an average of just 100.3 rushing yards per game.

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