I've been offered Philip Rivers for Kurt Warner straight up. What should I do? -- J. Brabson, Millersburg, Mich.
Michael Fabiano: I would make this trade now. I had Rivers ranked ahead of Warner at the quarterback position in the preseason, and I think he's a better fantasy option after two weeks of action. Warner has been without some key receivers around him, but I'm concerned that at 38 and coming off hip surgery he's a candidate to break down at some point in the season. Furthermore, the Chargers are now Rivers' team with LaDainian Tomlinson on the downside of his career. Rivers also has Vincent Jackson, an underrated wideout, in the arsenal.
Which running back should I bench in Week 3: Fred Jackson, Clinton Portis or Michael Turner? Please help! -- C.S., England
M.F.: Portis might have the best matchup of the trio, facing a Lions defense that ranks 22nd against the run. But in this case, he's the back I'd bench. After posting mediocre numbers at home last week against a poor Rams defense -- and losing red-zone work to Ladell Betts -- I don't have too much confidence in Portis right now. Jackson has been too productive to bench as the featured back in Buffalo, and I'd stick with Turner against an overrated Patriots defense.
Should I propose this trade to my brother: I get Matt Forte and Roddy White and give up Steven Jackson and Andre Johnson? I currently have Jackson, Frank Gore, Cedric Benson and Julius Jones at running back and Johnson, Greg Jennings, Chad Ochocinco and Donnie Avery at wide receiver. We start two running backs, three wideouts and no flex position. Thanks! -- R. Domasing, Calif.
M.F.: I'm not sure I see the point in this trade, to be honest. You get an upgrade at running back in Forte over Jackson (I expect Forte to turn things around), but you downgrade at wide receiver from Johnson to White. In fact, I'd stand pat and keep Jackson and Johnson -- especially if you are rewarded points for catches. As much as I like White, the fact is that he's losing some looks to Tony Gonzalez in the Falcons' pass attack. That could keep him from putting up huge numbers across the board.
Hey Mike, your advice helped me get my highest fantasy score ever last week! On to Week 3, should I play Philip Rivers or Tony Romo? I also need help at running back. I'm starting Chris Johnson and Darren Sproles, but I have to decide between Tim Hightower and Willis McGahee as a flex starter. Thanks! -- B. Ochoa, Oceanside, Calif.
M.F.: Glad to help, though last week was a rough one for the matchups! At quarterback, I'd go with Rivers over Romo. I like both of these signal-callers this week, but Rivers has a much better matchup against a Dolphins defense that's vulnerable against the pass. I also like Hightower over McGahee, especially if this is a PPR league. The Cardinals runner is in the top 10 in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com after two weeks, and a contest against the Colts and their poor run defense makes him a solid option. McGahee has a very nice matchup as well, facing the Browns and their awful run defense, but Hightower will see more touches and more chances to produce.
I don't understand why there are so many fantasy articles that suggest playing a running back, but "only as a flex". If the back is not a strong play, then why would I want to use him in my flex position? I'd rather have a stronger wide receiver in the flex spot in that situation. -- C. Laiden, Los Angeles, Calif.
M.F.: Suggesting that a running back should be used as a flex player means he does have a good matchup and warrants such a role that week. This is also suggested with the notion that the league has 12-14 teams, so you can't simply plug a star into that spot. If you're in a smaller league and have solid wideouts, then of course you can use that position as a flex option. As a fantasy analsyst who's trying to serve the masses, I'm just offering information based on matchups, trends and player values. At the end of the day, every fantasy roster is different and the final decision comes down to you, the owner.
For example, say I list Knowshon Moreno as a viable flex starter. You might have Moreno and Chad Ochocinco to choose from in a PPR league, so Ochocinco is an obvious choice. However, another owner might not have that depth and has to decide between Moreno and say, Michael Bush. In that case, Moreno is the better play based on the matchups. Again, ultimately it depends on your team, your league and your league's rules.
M.F.: If you're in a league that rewards points for catches, I'd probably stand pat since the wideouts will have more value during the course of the season. If this is a standard league, however, it makes sense to explore trade options as long as it doesn't decimate you at wide receiver. iIf the drop-off is large between Johnson or Wayne and your third receiver, you might want to sit back and continue to start Slaton and either Addai, Moreno or Lewis (based on the matchups). What you could also look to do is deal one of your backs (Addai, Moreno or Lewis) with either Wayne or Johnson in exchange for a stronger running back (Frank Gore, for example) and a borderline second or third wideout like T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Braylon Edwards. This way you get that upgrade you wanted at running back and still get some help at wide receiver.
M.F.: I think you have to stick with Jacobs, especially against a Buccaneers defense that looks like one of the more vulnerable units in the league. Your second back should be Addai, based on the fact that he's the lesser of three evils (in this case). Jones has a tough matchup at home against the Bears, who are still tough against the run even without LB Brian Urlacher. Stewart, who continues to play second fiddle in Carolina to DeAngelo Williams, is also a riskier option against the Cowboys.
M.F.: Honestly, you should be able to get much more than Brown in a deal for Jackson. Brown won't break free of the backfield committee he's in with Addai, so he might not be a better option than Jackson even when Lynch comes back from suspension in Week 4. In fact, I see Jackson's role increasing compared to what it was last season. Lynch should re-gain his starting role down the line, but I'm not sure coach Dick Jauron can ignore what Jackson has brought to the offense. If I had Jackson, I'd be looking to deal him for much more than a rookie back who's entrenched in a committee. If I couldn't find a taker, I'd happily keep Jackson as a reserve and potential flex option.
M.F.: I would agree that Rodgers' offensive line isn't doing him any favors, but I'd still start him ahead of Schaub based on this week's matchup against St. Louis. The Rams field one of the league's worst pass defenses, and Rodgers is due to have a monster performance. I also think the offensive line's woes won't be as much of an issue against a Rams defense that has just one sack after two weeks. As much as I like Schaub's matchup against the Jaguars, I think you have to stick with Rodgers in Week 3. To answer your second question, I would drop Stuckey for Knox based on the quarterbacks on their respective teams. Neither wideout will make a consistent impact, however.
M.F.: All scoring systems are different, especially when it comes to defensive categories, but I think it makes sense to drop the Patriots (17th in fantasy points among defenses on NFL.com). Based on the results of the first two weeks and the matchups in Week 3, I'd take a chance on the Broncos. Believe it or not, but Denver is ranked second in fantasy points on NFL.com. What's more, facing the Raiders and their punchless offense should be good for another nice performance for coach Josh McDaniels' crew. As for your second question, I think Manningham has more value than both Ginn and Holt right now. He actually leads all wideouts in fantasy points on NFL.com after two weeks and will be the hottest name on the waiver wire this week.