Fantasy owners shouldn't be giving up on Brady as their starter

Do I dare bench Tom Brady in favor of Joe Flacco this week? Also, is it time to give up on Eddie Royal? Thanks! -- M. Desnoyers, San Francisco, Calif.

Michael Fabiano: The number of truly elite fantasy players has decreased this season. Just ask anyone who drafted LaDainian Tomlinson or Clinton Portis this season. But one of the players I still consider to be an elite player is Brady. I know he's struggled in recent weeks, but keep in mind that he's still shaking off the rust from what has been a lengthy absence from the gridiron. He's also been without Wes Welker in the past two games, and it's pretty apparent that he has little rapport with Joey Galloway. In time, Brady will be more consistent and productive, especially with a schedule that includes games against teams with vulnerable pass defenses like the Ravens, Titans, Buccaneers, Dolphins (2), Bills and Jaguars. That doesn't include a matchup against Drew Brees and the Saints in Week 12 that could turn into a shootout. As good as Flacco has been, I'm sticking with Brady. In fact, you might want to deal Flacco now while his value is high. As far as Royal, I wouldn't release him. Despite his poor performances in the first three weeks, Royal is still too talented to drop in most formats.

I need to start two of the following three running backs this week: Glen Coffee, Cedric Benson and Pierre Thomas. I'm leaning towards Coffee and Benson based on their favorable matchups. Which two would you choose? -- T. Hanson, Wilmington, Del.

M.F.: I think Coffee is a very nice sleeper this week based on a matchup against the Rams, but I'm not starting him ahead of either Benson or Thomas. Benson has been on absolute fire every since he joined the Bengals last season, and this week's matchup against the Browns is more than favorable. In fact, I've got him fifth among running backs in our Week 4 lineup rankings. Thomas gave fantasy leaguers a roller-coaster ride last week, as he did nothing in the first half before busting out for 126 yards and two scores in a win over the Bills. It turns out that Thomas was very ill before the game and needed an IV to hydrate. Once he felt better, Thomas went out and blistered Buffalo's run defense. He has a much tougher matchup this week against the Jets, but I'd still keep him active ahead of Coffee.

Would you pick up Nate Burleson ahead of Pierre Garcon? Also, which two wideouts should I start from Dwayne Bowe, Justin Gage, Eddie Royal, Burleson or Garcon? -- B. Farrar, Austin, Texas

M.F.: I actually had Burleson featured in my Week 2 waiver-wire report. But the answer to your question is yes, I would pick up Burleson ahead of Garcon. I wasn't a big fan of T.J. Houshmandzadeh coming into the season, and he's proven so far that moving from the Bengals to the Seahawks has hurt his fantasy value. In fact, Burleson is now a better option until further notice. In terms of who you should start, I would give the edge to Bowe and Burleson. Of course, that assumes that Bowe comes back from the injured hamstring that sidelined him in Week 3. If you read between the lines of coach Todd Haley's recent comments to the Kansas City Star, where he said "you've got to err on the side of caution" with such ailments, you might end up starting Gage in Bowe's place. Gage has been quiet the past two weeks, but he has a great matchup coming up against a Jaguars defense that's dead last against the pass.

I've been bitten by the injury bug, with both Frank Gore and Marion Barber out. I have both Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers, but I only start one quarterback each week. If I'm trying to move one to improve my running back situation, which one should I look to deal? -- M. Koterwas, Delaware

M.F.: Honestly, the difference between the two quarterbacks (in terms of fantasy value) is so miniscule that I would put them both on the trade block and accept the best offer. Just make sure that you get full value for whoever you end up trading, because both Rodgers and Rivers are strong fantasy options. In fact, you should be targeting big-name running backs like Matt Forte, Steven Jackson or DeAngelo Williams. I would also be targeting Coffee and Tashard Choice off the waiver wire to help that backfield.

Drew Brees was shut down by Buffalo's defense and killed me this past week. It stings a little more that Jay Cutler is my backup and threw three touchdowns. Going into this weekend, Brees is playing the Jets and Cutler is at home against the Lions. I'd hate to sit Brees, but the Jets defense looks pretty good. Your advice? -- D. Laurie, Buffalo, N.Y.

M.F.: Much like the aforementioned question about Brady, there's no way I'm sitting Brees. This is the top-scoring player in fantasy football right now, so putting him on the bench is just not an option. I agree that Cutler has a great matchup this week against the Lions, but there's no chance I'd start him ahead of Brees. In fact, I'd be looking to trade Cutler now while his overall fantasy value is on the rise. Outside of his bye week, it's hard to envision a scenario where Brees would ever be reserved.

Which quarterback should I start in Week 4: Brett Favre or Ben Roethlisberger? -- R. Domasing, Calif.

M.F.: Favre sure will be fired up to face his former team. Isn't that part of the real reason he wanted to come back and play for the Vikings? But regardless of the motivation he might have to beat the Packers, I would still sit Favre in favor of Roethlisberger. Big Ben is tied with Eli Manning for seventh in fantasy points (55) among quarterbacks on NFL.com after three weeks. In fact, he's on pace to throw for over 4,500 yards with 27 total touchdowns. While he likely won't reach that yardage mark, I wouldn't be shocked at all if Roethlisberger puts up solid touchdown totals in an offense that's being forced to lean on the pass attack. Give him the nod over Favre.

Hi Michael. I have Kurt Warner as my quarterback, and this is his bye week. Who do you think I should pick as a replacement: David Garrard, Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton, Mark Sanchez, Kevin Kolb or Shaun Hill? -- M. Bonadiu, Brasil

M.F.: Kolb is on a bye this week, so I think your best option based on the matchups is Garrard. While he can be inconsistent, the Jaguars quarterback is a very nice choice against a Titans defense that ranks 29th in the league against the pass. Tennessee has surrendered an average of close to 275 passing yards per game, and their seven touchdown passes allowed is tied for the third-most in the league after three weeks. If Garrard is taken when you submit your claim, Campbell is the next best option. He's coming off a strong fantasy game in Detroit and now heads home to face a Buccaneers defense that's ranked 21st against the pass with seven touchdown passes allowed.

Michael, I really need your help. I used Fred Jackson the last three weeks as my No. 2 running back in a non-flex league, but now Marshawn Lynch is coming back. I still think he is a good fantasy option, but I have Darren McFadden and Knowshon Moreno on the bench. McFadden has a favorable matchup against the Texans, so I am thinking of using him. Do I start him over Jackson? -- J. Burruezo, Tampa, Fla.

M.F.: I don't trust anyone in an Oakland Raiders uniform. You probably don't either. But if McFadden is ever going to have a good fantasy game, it's this week in Houston. The Texans are dead last in the league in run defense, allowing an average of close to 205 rushing yards per game. They've also allowed eight rushing touchdowns while giving up big performances to Thomas Jones, Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew in the first three games. You might very well end up feeling like Charlie Brown after he lands on his rear trying to kick that football that Lucy lifts up on him at the last second. But this matchup is just far too good to pass on, even for an Oakland Raider.

I'm 3-0 in my league and need to keep this rolling! I have the Eagles defense and need a good bye-week replacement for Week 4. Which unit should I target off the waiver wire? Also, I need to cover DeSean Jackson. Is Nate Burleson worth picking up after his 109-yard effort against the Bears? -- S. Nesbitt, Australia

M.F.: If you're looking to replace the Eagles defense, or any defense for that matter, I'd take a chance on the Cincinnati Bengals. They're an unspectacular 15th in fantasy points among defenses on NFL.com, but a matchup against the lowly Browns and their anemic offense makes the Bengals a seriously good option. If you can't land that unit, take a chance on the 49ers. They're at home and facing a Rams offense that could be without Marc Bulger. They've also lost Laurent Robinson for the season and have no great offensive options outside of Steven Jackson. With LB Patrick Willis manning the middle, even Action Jackson could be in for a long afternoon in the Bay Area. As I mentioned earlier, I would definitely look to add Burleson off the waiver wire. After three weeks, he's been the best fantasy receiver on the Seahawks' entire roster.

Who should I start at tight end Week 4, Vernon Davis or Greg Olsen? Also, should I use Leon Washington or Percy Harvin at my flex spot? -- J. Gillespie, Orlando, Fla.

M.F.: Davis is coming off a monster, two-touchdown performance in Minnesota, and this week's matchup against the Rams is favorable indeed. But Olsen, a top-five fantasy tight end during the preseason, has a nice matchup of his own against the Lions. As a result, I'd stick with the former Miami Hurricane in this case. To answer your second question, I'd stick with Harvin over Washington at your flex spot.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com, and the best questions will be answered throughout the season!

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