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Fantasy owners should wait on quarterbacks in 2011 drafts

Michael, is it safe to say that in a 12-team league, there's no reason to draft a quarterback until the fifth or sixth round? - HOVA1983 (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: It is very safe to say that. I've already started to work on my 2011 fantasy player rankings, and it's ridiculous how many good quarterbacks are out there. Sure, it's nice to have Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick or Tom Brady, but I would have no problem rolling with Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Freeman or Matt Schaub after targeting running backs and wide receivers in the first four to five rounds. Do I think Vick and Rodgers are worth first-round picks? Of course. Will I take either of them with a first rounder? Not a chance in the world. Keep in mind that the position could also be even more fruitful in 2011, as talented, young quarterbacks like Freeman, Matthew Stafford, Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford will be popular breakout/sleeper options. With so much depth, waiting on a quarterback is a smart move.

How much higher do you have Darren McFadden ranked for next season, and how much lower do you have Ryan Mathews and Shonn Greene? - tonymatura (via Twitter)

M.F.: McFadden is a surefire first-round selection, especially if Michael Bush leaves as a free agent. Despite the fact that he missed three games due to injuries, McFadden still finished an impressive sixth in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com. Therein lies the one issue, though -- let's just say that McFadden's photo isn't going to show up in the dictionary next to the word "durable." Still, his potential is enough to make him worth a top-12 pick in drafts. Mathews and Greene both have a ton of upside, but I don't see either of them as more than a No. 2 fantasy back or flex starter at this point. It's only January, though, so that could change.

Where do you have LeGarrette Blount ranked going into 2011? - acousticsoup (via Twitter)

M.F.: Blount certainly made a nice impact as a rookie, rushing for 1,007 yards with six touchdowns despite playing in just 13 games (seven starts). I see him as a nice No. 2 fantasy runner in 2011 as a result, but I wouldn't draft him until somewhere in the third round in a standard 12-team league. Also remember that Blount is very one-dimensional, catching just five passes for 14 yards all year. He was also somewhat consistent, scoring single-digit fantasy points in six of his final 11 games. I expect to rank Blount somewhere in the mid-teens at his position.

Should Tim Tebow be in consideration for a top draft pick next season? - CoachCody88 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I can predict with the utmost confidence that Tebow is going to be selected way too high in a lot of 2011 fantasy drafts. Sure, his late-season totals were impressive. He also appears to be the favorite to start for new coach John Fox. But keep in mind that Tebow is still just a second-year quarterback with three NFL starts under his belt. The upside is evident, but I wouldn't draft him as more than a high-end No. 2 option in a standard 12-team league.

Do you think Brandon Lloyd and Stevie Johnson will continue to play at a high level next season? - xermi (via Twitter)

M.F.: Let me tackle these wide receivers one at a time. First, I don't think there's any chance that Lloyd is going to duplicate the spectacular totals he posted in 2010. So despite the fact that he led his position in fantasy points on NFL.com, I wouldn't draft him as more than a No. 2 option based on the fact that he has a much greater statistical downside than most wideouts. On a positive note, his numbers in four games without former coach Josh McDaniels at the helm were very similar to the ones he recorded without him leading the offense. As for Johnson, I also see him as more of a No. 2 fantasy wideout. While he did record numbers worthy of making him a No. 1 option in 2010, I tend to err on the side of caution with players who come out of nowhere and experience a statistical explosion. Between the two wideouts, I would choose Lloyd ahead of Johnson. Both will be drafted between the third and fifth rounds in most leagues.

I lost my fantasy championship by one point! Now I need to pick two keepers from Vick, Arian Foster, McFadden, Michael Turner, Dwayne Bowe and Reggie Wayne? - dmac_ohio (via Twitter)

M.F.: Obviously, you have several great keeper options. The two players to retain, though, are Vick and Foster. While I doubt that either will duplicate their huge 2010 numbers, there's no reason to believe that Vick and Foster won't continue to record solid overall totals. The Eagles quarterback has the advantage of facing one of the easiest schedules at his position (based on fantasy points), as he plays weak pass defenses like the Cowboys (2), Redskins (2), Seahawks and 49ers, to name a few. Foster will have to contend with the return of Ben Tate from an injured ankle, but I don't see him losing the featured role in a Texans offense that leaned on him heavily in 2010.

Is it going to be sunny in Washington next season, or is it going Torain? Basically, will Ryan Torain be the team's top running back? - joeyeoman (via Twitter)

M.F.:Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has already indicated that Torain will be allowed a chance to earn the top spot on the depth chart, and I don't see anyone on the current roster pushing him for the role. Clinton Portis is over the hill and no lock to even be back with the team, and neither James Davis nor Keiland Williams are No. 1 back material. The problem with Torain is his proneness to injuries -- he couldn't avoid the trainer's room while in Denver, and missed a number of games last season. He also has a lack of skills as a pass catcher, so the Skins would need to utilize another runner in certain sets. As it stands, Torain will be drafted as a No. 2 or 3 fantasy option.

What are your thoughts on the Packers backfield next season? Are will looking at a running back by committee with Ryan Grant, James Starks and Brandon Jackson? - PFazio (via Twitter)

M.F.: I think Grant will re-claim his spot atop the team's depth chart, but I don't see him as a true featured runner anymore. While he should receive more carries than Starks and Jackson, that duo has shown that they're both capable of making plays in the running game. Starks, who has been unleashed by the team during it's postseason run to Super Bowl XLV, is the greatest threat to Grant's workload in 2011. The Notre Dame product will be one of numerous No. 2 fantasy backs with a lot of question marks heading into next season.

What is the best scoring system you've used in fantasy football, other than NFL.com's standard format? - aceofclubs (via Twitter)

M.F.: All of my personal fantasy leagues are based on NFL.com's standard scoring system but also include points for receptions (one point), return yards (one point per 25 yards) and touchdowns (six points). So if Reggie Bush returns a punt 75 yards for a touchdown, he would receive a total of nine fantasy points (one point for every 25 return yards, six points for the touchdown). The Saints defense would receive zero points, which is different than what would be rewarded in a traditional scoring system. I'm all about giving players the recognition (and statistical rewards) for all of their skills and abilities, rather than bunch them into a defense and special teams unit. I also reward points for blocked kicks along with the typical sacks, interceptions, fumbles recovered, etc., and include all defensive and special team touchdowns as well.

Where will Bradford land in your 2011 quarterback rankings? The Bradford and McDaniels combination could be really good. - geric3 (via Twitter)

M.F.: McDaniels' presence is going to mean great things for Bradford, who threw for 3,512 yards and scored 19 total touchdowns as a rookie. More impressive, he did it without his top two wide receivers, Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery, for most of the campaign. McDaniels was the offensive coordinator in New England when Brady broke the record for touchdown passes, and his play calling made Kyle Orton a top-notch fantasy quarterback for most of the 2010 season while in Denver. I'm not saying that Bradford will emerge into a No. 1 fantasy quarterback, but he can become a much more reliable No. 2 option and matchup-based starter. I see him as a middle-to late-round pick.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com or tweet it at Michael_Fabiano!

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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