Gaffney suddenly gaining draft value in fantasy leagues

I was extremely impressed with the play of Jabar Gaffney against the Lions last weekend. In my fantasy draft, I landed Greg Jennings, Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks, Johnny Knox and Lee Evans at wide receiver. Do you think I should take a chance on Gaffney? - L. O'Brien, Newton, Mass.

Michael Fabiano: I don't know if I would drop any of the wideouts you mentioned to add Gaffney (Evans would be the closest candidate), but I do think his value is on the rise. With Brandon Marshall out of the mix and Demaryius Thomas dealing with an injured foot, Gaffney now appears to be Kyle Orton's top option in the pass attack. That was evident last weekend, as the veteran caught six passes for 98 yards against the Lions. Fantasy leaguers should also remember that Gaffney was one of the hottest wide receivers in fantasy football in the final two weeks of 2009, posting a combined 21 receptions for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Also, keep in mind that he has a favorable schedule with games against the Chiefs (2), Jaguars, Colts, Titans, Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals.

I have great depth at running back, but I'm lacking in the wide receiver department. Should I trade Ronnie Brown and Santana Moss for Brandon Marshall and Justin Forsett? I'm a little nervous about Marshall, though. - K. Page, Denver, Colo.

M.F.: I think this deal makes a ton of sense. You'll clearly be getting the best player in the trade in Marshall, not to mention you'll also receive Forsett to replace Brown in your backfield. Forsett doesn't have the same level of value, but he's still a nice reserve to have on the bench. I'm assuming Brown wouldn't even start for your team if you have "great depth at running back," so losing him shouldn't be a major concern. What's more, Marshall is a huge upgrade over Moss at the wide receiver position. While I don't think he'll catch 100 passes this season, he's still a good bet to haul in 80-90 balls for 1,000-plus yards with seven to nine touchdowns.

I created a fantasy league on NFL.com with a scoring system that awards one point for every 20 passing yards and six points for all touchdown passes. I have the No. 3 overall pick in the 10-team draft, and I've already decided to let the elite quarterbacks pass me by in the earliest rounds. At what point do you think it would be critical to lock up my starting signal-caller? - J. Law, Collinsville, Va.

M.F.: I tend to utilize the same sort of strategy -- I prefer to load up on running backs and wide receivers before going after a quarterback in most cases, simply because there's more depth at the position. But keep in mind that all drafts are different. If Aaron Rodgers falls to me late in Round 1 or Drew Brees falls drops into Round 2, it's hard to pass on those players. I tend to pay more attention to the quarterback position in Round 5, but I also won't reach to fill the position. A perfect example of this is the draft I recently did with some of my good friends from back home. My first five picks were Chris Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Miles Austin, Brown and Wes Welker, after which point I knew I needed to take a quarterback. However, there was no way I was going to take Eli Manning (the best available quarterback on my board) in Round 6. Instead I decided to wait two rounds later, where I grabbed Donovan McNabb and Matt Ryan in back-to-back rounds. Since you're in a smaller league, you might even see someone like Matt Schaub or Philip Rivers on the board in Round 5. At that point. I'd go ahead and take one.

How much would you upgrade wide receivers when drafting in a league that starts two running backs, three wideouts and one tight end? - S. Iverson, North Shore, N.Y.

M.F.: The draft I mentioned in the previous answer requires three starting wideouts, and I took them all in the first five rounds. Of course, that was also a PPR league so wide receivers are even more valuable based on the scoring system. If you're rewarded points for catches, I'd try and get those three wideouts in the first five to six rounds. Even if this is a standard league, I'd still focus on the position in the earlier rounds. The flow of the draft will determine what you ultimately do (especially if a good quarterback falls to you before Round 4), but I would look to fill my starting running back and wide receiver positions in the first five to six rounds.

I ended up with Jay Cutler as my No. 1 quarterback in our fantasy league. I have Frank Gore, Pierre Thomas, Joseph Addai and Beanie Wells at running back, and my wide receivers are Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, DeSean Jackson, Steve Breaston, Terrell Owens and Malcom Floyd. Do I have enough depth on my roster to put together a trade to upgrade over Cutler? I'm worried that the offensive line in Chicago won't be good enough to support Mike Martz's scheme. What are your thoughts? - C. Scott, United Kingdom

M.F.: I love making trades, and I'm always on the look out to upgrade my team by pulling off a deal. While I do think Cutler will be a viable No. 1 fantasy option, it never hurts to put him on the trade block and see what happens. You do have great depth at both the running back and wide receiver positions, so check out the other teams in your league that lack at those spots but have an elite quarterback. Who knows, you might be able to deal Cutler and Addai for someone like Tom Brady or Tony Romo. Keep in mind, though, that you have the leverage because of your overall positional depth. You also don't need to make a deal, so don't give up too much in return.

I'm in a keeper league and need to retain either Rodgers to Steven Jackson. Thoughts? - J. Astheimer, Mohnton, Pa.

M.F.: I know it's important to have a running back, but there's no way I'd retain Jackson ahead of Rodgers. The Packers quarterback continued to look impressive in the preseason, throwing for 116 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks this past weekend. Overall, he has three total scores and a passer rating of more than 143.0 in his two preseason games. Personally, I think he's going to be the fantasy MVP in 2010. Not only does he have a ton of weapons at his disposal, but Rodgers also has one of the most favorable schedules among signal-callers. He'll face the Bears (2), Lions (2), Vikings (2), Giants, Eagles, Dolphins and Falcons. All of those teams ranked 13th or worse in terms of allowing the most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season.

For the first time, my league will reward one point for every 25 kick and punt return yards. Which players see a significant bump in their value according to this new rule? - N. Fournier, Switzerland

M.F.: I set up all of my personal fantasy leagues in this fashion, as it rewards players for all of their skills and abilities both on offense and special teams. I'm not sure about everyone else, but it makes me cringe when a player on my teams returns a kick for a touchdown and I don't get the points! The players who see the greatest increase in value in this sort of scoring system include Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, Dez Bryant, Josh Cribbs, Percy Harvin, DeSean Jackson, Jacoby Jones, Johnny Knox and Eddie Royal.

I've been offered Peyton Manning for Adrian Peterson in our keeper league. Keep in mind that all six of the top quarterbacks will be retained. I have the No. 1 overall pick in the re-draft, and I plan to take Chris Johnson. Should I make this trade? - B. Jensen, Calif.

M.F.: Before I answer, I have to ask you a question -- how in the world is Johnson a free agent in this keeper league? I'm assuming your league has a certain number of years a player can be retained before he has to be thrown back into the pool of available players. Otherwise, the fact that he's a free agent is absurd. Anyway, I wouldn't make this deal. You can have something that most fantasy owners only dream about -- Johnson and Peterson in the same backfield. With that duo racking up the fantasy points week in and week out, you could probably make it to the postseason with Matt Leinart as your starting quarterback. (No, I'm not recommending that!). I would keep A.D., draft Johnson and pick a quarterback and a wide receiver in the second and third round of the re-draft. Depending on the size of the league, I think you can still land a good quarterback at this point -- even if it's someone like Cutler or Kevin Kolb. Since six will be kept, most of the other owners won't need to focus on the position.

I'm in a league that uses a standard scoring system but also rewards one point per reception. We're required to start two running backs and three wide receivers with no flex spot. I have Kolb at quarterback, Gore, DeAngelo Williams, Pierre Thomas, Steve Slaton and Cadillac Williams at running back, Calvin Johnson, Sidney Rice, Nicks, Santana Moss, Mohammed Massaquoi and Chaz Schilens at wide receiver. Are there any trade packages you would try and put together for a better player? - S. Doiron, Carbondale, Ill.

M.F.: Again, it always makes sense to make trade offers to see if you can use a position of depth to improve a weaker part of your roster. I like Kolb myself, but if you want to upgrade at quarterback, for example, you could put Thomas on the block. That would still leave you with Gore, DeAngelo Williams, Cadillac Williams and Slaton in your backfield. If a team is desperate for a running back, Thomas would be a nice acquisition. You might even package Kolb and Thomas to get an even better quarterback. On note -- Schilens could miss the start of the regular season due to knee troubles. He's no longer worth rostering in seasonal leagues, unless you have injured spots.

I'm in a standard 10-team keeper league and can retain seven players. I'm thinking of keeping Peyton Manning, Wells, Reggie Bush, Randy Moss, Roddy White, Austin and Tony Gonzalez. However, I also have Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Slaton, Kevin Smith and Forsett. Am I keeping the right players in your opinion? I also have the No. 1 overall pick in the re-draft and will be taking Ryan Mathews. - J. Mahon, Canada

M.F.: Unless you know that good tight ends will be hard to come by in the re-draft (which I would find surprising), I wouldn't retain Gonzalez. Instead, I would keep Foster. He's become one of the more prominent sleepers in fantasy football in recent weeks and will give you more depth at running back to go along with Mathews, Wells and Bush. Before you submit your keepers, I would also look to deal Schaub. He's a pretty valuable player and could garner a nice acquisition in return. Who knows, you might be able to package Schaub and one of your running backs, maybe Foster or Bush, for an upgrade at the running back position.

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!

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