Which running back in Seattle benefits the most from the release of LenDale White? I was pretty high on him this season and was shocked to see him cut, especially by his old college coach, Pete Carroll. Do you think Justin Forsett can handle a featured role? - W. Hendrickson, Los Angeles, Calif.
Michael Fabiano: I also liked White's prospects as the team's starting running back and a potential flex starter in fantasy leagues. Now, it looks like Forsett is the player to grab. Carroll has raved about his skills, and it appears he'll have a chance to utilize them. I see Forsett as a potential sleeper and viable flex starter in most formats, and he'll have added value in PPR leagues. Of course, he won't be a true featured back — Julius Jones and Leon Washington will see work as well — but Forsett is clearly the Seahawks' back to target in drafts. I would keep tabs on a possible trade in the coming weeks, however, maybe with the Bills in exchange for Marshawn Lynch.
I know you're not really expecting much from Tim Tebow in his rookie season, but do you think he's worth an early-round look in most dynasty leagues? I'm thinking of taking a chance on him. - S. Pederson, Oklahoma City, Okla.
M.F.: Despite the questions about his ability to succeed as a quarterback at the NFL level, Tebow is without question worth a look in dynasty leagues. He's already moved up to third on the Broncos' depth chart behind Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, and I'd be shocked if he's not the starter for coach Josh McDaniels in Week 1 of the 2011 season. Whether he becomes the next Heath Shuler or Michael Vick remains to be seen, but remember that McDaniels has had a lot of success with quarterbacks at the NFL level.
I always have a great regular season, but my problem comes during the fantasy playoffs. What are some players that have great late-season matchups? I think that sort of knowledge can be really useful on draft day. - L. Lawrence, Springville, N.Y.
M.F.: As part of our in-depth and comprehensive fantasy draft kit, I researched the best and worst schedules (based on our 2009 fantasy points allowed numbers) for the quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions during Weeks 14-16. The top-tier players with the most favorable schedules include Brett Favre (assuming he returns in 2010), Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Michael Turner, Frank Gore, Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson.
I see Beanie Wells listed as a potential sleeper or breakout candidate on just about every fantasy-related site, but what about Tim Hightower? He was pretty good for me at times last season, and it's not like he's just going to disappear in 2010. - M. Linke, Chicago, Ill.
M.F.: According to a report in the Arizona Republic , Hightower is expected to open the regular season atop the Cardinals' depth chart. However, the report also suggests that Wells will get the majority of the carries. Remember that just because a player is a starter for an NFL team, that doesn't mean he'll be the best fantasy option at his position. When Julius Jones was atop the Cowboys' depth chart a few seasons back, Marion Barber was a far superior fantasy player. I see Hightower as the top passing-down back for coach Ken Whisenhunt, but Wells will see more work as a true runner. The one downside is that Hightower is almost certain to vulture a few goal-line touchdowns, but Wells still has more fantasy potential. Look for him to come off the board in the earlier rounds, while Hightower is more of a middle-round pick with added value in PPR formats.
M.F.: As a fantasy owner, you really need to take "coachspeak" with a grain of salt. I remember last season when Chargers coach Norv Turner said Tomlinson would see 325 carries and compete for a rushing title. L.T. ended up with 223 carries and finished 1,276 yards behind the actual rushing leader, Chris Johnson. Nice call there, Norv. While Tomlinson will see his share of work, I see him as more of a passing-down back and a secondary option behind Greene. As NFL.com senior analyst Pat Kirwan writes, Greene will be the "bell cow" for Ryan. I'd expect the Iowa product to see 300 carries and score double-digit touchdowns in an offense that's built to succeed in the running game. He's well worth a high second-round pick in drafts.
When it comes to defenses, I tend to alternate based on matchups rather than start just one defense every week. What are the top five easiest schedules for a defense this year, regardless of the talent level? - G. Whitlow
M.F.: I've researched all of the traditional fantasy positions based on our FPA ratings. In order, the five defensive units with the easiest schedules are the Broncos, Bears, Falcons, Buccaneers and Vikings. This information makes me like the Bears and Vikings even more, but I still wouldn't draft the Broncos, Falcons or Buccaneers outside of larger leagues or those formats that require owners to have two defenses. Those three units could be matchup-based options at times, though.
M.F.: I would hold on to Brady, Charles and Mendenhall. That gives you one of the elite quarterbacks in fantasy football, not to mention a very young and explosive backfield duo. Be sure to go after wide receivers with at least two of your first three picks in the re-draft. You might be able to re-acquire one of Austin or Crabtree.
Do you think Joshua Cribbs is going to make a fantasy impact in standard leagues? I know he has more value in PPR formats or leagues that reward points for return yards and touchdowns, but our scoring system is very basic. Thanks! - P. Hetten, Tacoma, Wash.
M.F.: I've seen Cribbs ranked in the top 30-40 among fantasy wide receivers, but I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid on him if you play in a standard league. While an increase in offensive touches appears to be imminent, Cribbs has never caught more than 20 passes in a season. I don't believe he'll suddenly be a 70-catch threat in a Browns offense that will be built to run and has Jake Delhomme under center. Is it possible that he'll post career bests in rushing yards and touchdowns? Yes, in fact I think he will. But keep in mind that he's never rushed for 400 yards or scored more than two total touchdowns in a season as part of the team's offense. I obviously like Cribbs much more in leagues that reward points for return yards and touchdowns, but I wouldn't use more than a late-round pick on him in traditional scoring systems.
Are there major issues with Carson Palmer's throwing arm? Will he be back to 100 percent at the start of the season? How does this alter his fantasy value? - N. Mouttet
M.F.: Palmer told the Cincinnati Enquirer that his throwing arm is "stronger than ever" with the help of strengthening exercises that he's done over the last year. Still, the fact that he seemed to lack arm strength and accuracy down the stretch last season is a cause for at least some concern. Palmer also faces one of the more difficult schedules in the league based on our FPA ratings. The Bengals did add some talent to the pass attack in the form of Antonio Bryant and rookies Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham, but I still don't see Palmer re-emerging as an elite fantasy quarterback. Instead, he should be seen as more of a No. 2 option in most leagues.
Will there be mobile applications for NFL.com's new fantasy football game? If there is an application planned, it would just complete my fantasy football experience. - K. Machut, Plymouth, Minn.
M.F.: I went to NFL Product Manager Aaron Quick for some help on this question. The NFL will, in fact, offer mobile applications that allow on-the-go access to your NFL.com fantasy teams and leagues. You'll be able to start or bench and add or drop players from the application. Other important fantasy tools that will be available on your mobile device include live scoring and player news, plus exclusive analysis from NFL.com experts. Basically, you'll have everything you need right in the palm of your hand.