Fantasy mailbag: Tomlinson or Westbrook?

I have Brett Favre and Tony Romo at the quarterback position. Who do I start on Thursday night? -- M. Williamson, Lake Hopatcong, N.J.

Michael Fabiano: This is one difficult call, but I have to side with Romo based on the fact that Packers CB Charles Woodson could be limited or out with an injured toe. What's more, only Tom Brady has more fantasy points this season than Romo. He is also at home against a team that hasn't had much success at Texas Stadium with Favre under center, so Romo is the more attractive choice.

Which wide receiver should I start in Week 13: Lee Evans, Brandon Marshall or Derrick Mason? -- L. Sanchez, Miami, Fla.

M.F.: Evans has been cold as ice in recent weeks and Mason has scored once in his past eight starts, so I'd have to side with Marshall. He does have a tough matchup against an Oakland team with a formidable pass defense, but Marshall has found the end zone in consecutive weeks and has developed into the top option in the Denver pass attack for quarterback Jay Cutler.

What should fantasy owners expect from Marshawn Lynch the rest of the season? Will he be back on the field in Week 13? -- B. Bugler, Plainfield, Ind.

M.F.: Lynch has a high ankle sprain, which is the worst kind to have as an athlete. He is out of his walking boot and no longer walks with a limp, but Bills head coach Dick Jauron still didn't seem optimistic about Lynch's status for this week's contest in Washington.

"He's now doing some running and some cutting, but nothing like full speed playing," Jauron said.

If Lynch is unavailable, the Bills might have to turn to Dwayne Wright and Fred Jackson. Anthony Thomas sustained an injured calf in a loss to Jacksonville, so he could be limited or out. Be sure to check in with NFL.com all week to follow Lynch's and the A-Train's status.

Which two running backs should I start in Week 13: Ryan Grant, Kevin Jones, Adrian Peterson (Chicago) or Clinton Portis? -- T. Shawne, Newport News, Va.

M.F.: Portis has the most favorable matchup against a Buffalo defense that ranks 23rd against the run and has surrendered nine rushing touchdowns. Grant (at Dallas), Jones (at Minnesota) and Peterson (vs. New York Giants) all have terrible matchups, so I'd use Jones in leagues that reward points for catches and Peterson in standard formats.

Michael, I sat Frank Gore last week based on your Start 'Em & Sit 'Em column. Luckily, I added and started Kolby Smith based on your advice instead, so I'm not that mad at you! Anyways, which one of these two backs should I start in Week 13? I also have Andre Hall and Thomas Jones and need to start two of four total. -- C. Santangelo, Brooklyn, N.Y.

M.F.: Funny, I did that same thing in one of my 13 leagues. Gore did outscore Smith, but I still won without him. I still think Gore is a bit of a risk, as San Francisco offensive coordinator Jim Hostler has been inconsistent in the use of his top offensive threat, but I'd still start him against a Carolina defense that ranks 20th against the run. I would also start Smith ahead of Hall, who has an injured ankle, and Jones, who has a nice matchup in Miami but has been a disappointment this season.

I need to start three wide receivers from Chris Chambers, Joey Galloway, Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith and Roddy White. Advice? -- L. Marks, Portsmouth, N.H.

M.F.: It looks like Vinny Testaverde will start for Carolina if he's able, and that's good news for Smith. In fact, anything outside of David Carr (even Matt Moore) would make Smith more attractive as a starter. I'd use the veteran wideout against the Niners and Marshall, who has been hot in recent weeks, against the Raiders. The third wideout to start is Galloway, who turns into Superman against this week's opponent, New Orleans. In his past five starts against the Saints, the ageless wonder has 455 yards and an impressive eight touchdowns. Earlier this season, Galloway went for 135 yards and two scores against them.

I have been offered Brian Westbrook for LaDainian Tomlinson. Westbrook has more fantasy points than L.T. in our league. Do I dare trade Tomlinson? -- R. Andersen, Mesa, Ariz.

M.F.: Wow this is a difficult call, so we need to make a decision based on the numbers. Westbrook has 13 more fantasy points in one fewer start than Tomlinson in NFL.com's standard scoring system. In leagues that reward points for catches, Westbrook has 28 more fantasy points than L.T.

That's advantage Westbrook.

As we look at the matchups, Westbrook faces Seattle, the Giants, Dallas, and New Orleans in Weeks 13-16. That's four defenses that all rank in the top in the top 14 against the run. In that same stretch, L.T. faces Kansas City, Tennessee, Detroit, and Denver. That's three defenses that rank in the top 18 against the run, and one that ranks 29th.

Advantage Tomlinson.

Overall, I think Westbrook is more consistent, especially in leagues that reward points for catches. However, he always seems to have some sort of knee soreness, while Tomlinson is extremely durable. I'd prefer Westbrook if I was a risk taker and could insure him with Correll Buckhalter, otherwise stick with Tomlinson.

Who should I start with Joseph Addai: DeShaun Foster, Willis McGahee or Fred Taylor? -- K. Tramiel, Oakland, Calif.

M.F.: I'd avoid Foster, who was non-existant for fantasy footballers last week. Taylor has been solid in recent weeks, but I'd have to start McGahee. He's in the midst of his best all-around season at the NFL level, and I'd stick with him even against a formidable New England defense.

I am in a 16-team league and have lost my top quarterbacks to injuries. Who should I start in Week 13: Kyle Boller, Kellen Clemens, Rex Grossman or Vinny Testaverde? Help! -- P. Berrline, England

M.F.: I'm in a similar situation in a larger league where I lost Jake Delhomme and Matt Leinart for the season, so I can understand the stress in this situation. As much as he makes fantasy owners want to pull out their hair, I'd have to side with Grossman. He faces a Giants defense that has allowed 18 passing touchdowns, and his matchup is more favorable than Boller (vs. New England) or Clemens (at Miami). I would also avoid Testaverde, who would be an injury risk even if he were able to start in San Francisco.

I read that I should start adding insurance for my top starters, i.e. Matt Cassel for Tom Brady, Correll Buckhlater for Brian Westbrook, Dominic Rhodes for Justin Fargas for the fantasy postseason. Should I make these moves or remain status quo? -- P. Nelson, Wichita, Kan.

M.F.: Of course it's smart to insure Westbrook with Buckhalter, as it's smart to insure any productive back with his immediate reserve. Of course, I wouldn't drop, say, Earnest Graham to add Buckhalter to insure Westbrook. However, I don't see the point in adding Cassel for Brady. First off, there are a ton of good quarterbacks in fantasy football this season, so why add a reserve when you can have a starter like Jay Cutler or Kurt Warner as a second option? I realize the Patriots have a ton of weapons, but to think Cassel can do what Brady does diminishes the latter's skills and abilites.

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