Gates still tops Davis among fantasy football's best tight ends

Why do you have Antonio Gates ranked above Vernon Davis at tight end? You give them the same auction value, but Davis has a far better FPA rating. Didn't you say the FPA rating was best suited for making decisions between equally valued players? - L. Karr, Champaign, Ill.

Michael Fabiano: While it's true that Davis has a significantly more attractive FPA rating and the same auction value as Gates, the 49ers tight end doesn't have close to the same statistical track record. Gates has been a fantasy star for the better part of the last six seasons, while Davis has had one monster season in his career. He averaged just 26 receptions for 377 yards with a combined nine touchdowns before 2009, and I don't see Davis repeating the 13 touchdowns he had last season. It's hard not to rank him among the elite tight ends based on his 2009 success, but again, Gates is a better investment because of his consistent success.

In light of the imminent Thomas Jones release, I see you have Shonn Greene ranked just ahead of Frank Gore at the running back position. Should I now keep him over Gore? It seems very risky to give up a proven commodity for an unproven player. - J. Law, Collinsville, Va.

M.F.: Gore remains a more attractive keeper if your league rewards points for receptions, but Greene is the better option in long-term leagues that utilize a standard scoring system. He is about three years younger than Gore and has far less wear and tear at the NFL level. Gore has also finished an average of 10th among running backs in fantasy points on NFL.com over the last two years. Thomas Jones, the man Greene will replace in the Jets offense, had an average rank of 4.5 in that time. I know Jones and Greene are different backs, but Greene has the potential to be just as good ... or better. Greene will also be running behind one of the league's best offensive lines in an offense built to the run. On the flip side, the 49ers were dead last in the NFL in rushing attempts after the first 13 weeks of 2009. Don't get me wrong, I like Gore. I just think Greene has a much higher ceiling.

I need to retain one player from Steven Jackson and Jamaal Charles in a PPR league. I think Jackson has the edge overall, but I would lose a first-round pick to keep him while Charles would cost me a 16th-round selection. If I keep Charles, I'd have the third selection in the re-draft with a chance to re-acquire Jackson or land an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers. I'm just worried that Charles will be a one-season wonder. Help! - M. Alardman, Dallas, Texas

M.F.: I don't see how you can pass on Charles for that sort of price tag. He finished in the top 15 in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com even though he started only 10 games last season. He also caught 40 passes out of the backfield, so it's pretty evident that he's an asset in PPR formats. I also like the fact that Charles has the best FPA rating of any running back in the league, and the presence of coordinator Charlie Weis should just accelerate his development at the NFL level. Jackson is a top-10 fantasy back, but it's still hard to trust him in a punchless Rams offense with major questions at quarterback. Clearly, Charles is the player to retain in this situation.

Our league allows us to keep two players, but we but lose the draft pick for the round that player was taken. My best options are Maurice Jones-Drew (Round 1), Andre Johnson (Round 2), Matt Schaub (Round 5), Ray Rice (Round 10), and Shonn Greene (undrafted). Who should I retain? - T. Gilyard, Fargo, N.D.

M.F.: It's hard to release a superstar wide receiver like Johnson back into the pool of available players, but keeping Jones-Drew and Rice is recommended. That's a tough backfield to pass on. It also allows you to focus on a quarterback and wide receivers in the earlier rounds of the re-draft. I do have one question, though. What would you lose if you decided to retain Greene? Since he was undrafted, do you not lose a draft pick? Or do you simply lose a pick in the final round of the re-draft? If this is a standard league with no points given for receptions and keeping Greene would cost you next to nothing, you might want to consider retaining him ahead of Rice.

I need to keep seven players in a PPR league that starts one quarterback, two running backs, one flex player and two wide receivers. Who would you retain from Tom Brady, Ronnie Brown, Chris Johnson, LeSean McCoy, Steve Slaton, Pierre Thomas, Dwayne Bowe, Larry Fitzgerald, Pierre Garcon, Randy Moss and Roddy White? - A. Franssen, Richmond, Va.

M.F.: Retain Brady, Brown, Johnson, McCoy, Fitzgerald, Moss and White. Brady gives you one of the best quarterbacks in fantasy football, and your backfield should be strong with Johnson, McCoy and Brown as a 1-2-3 punch. You'll also have a star-studded cast of wideouts with Fitzgerald, Moss and White. I'd rotate those receivers as a flex starter due to the PPR format.

I'm in a competitive 12-team keeper league that rewards half a point for receptions. My two keepers will be Matt Schaub and Jamaal Charles. I've come to realize that having dominant wide receivers is a huge part of success in PPR leagues. I believe Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson, Brandon Marshall and Roddy White will be the best wideouts available in the re-draft. How would you rank these players in such a league's scoring system? - C. Stirling, Boston, Mass.

M.F.: Jackson loses luster in PPR leagues despite his talents and playmaking skills. In fact, he's not even a top-10 fantasy wideout based on the reception numbers he's posted in his first two seasons. I would keep Marshall. He's posted 100-plus catches in each of the last three seasons and averaged nearly seven receptions per game since 2008. There have been numerous reports that Marshall is on the trade block, though, so be sure to keep tabs on him this offseason. If his role on a new team could affect his targets, I'd keep White instead.

What sort of value do you think Julian Edelman will have next season? If Wes Welker is out for awhile coming off knee surgery, I can see Edelman being a PPR monster. What are your thoughts? - J.C. Donnelly, Alpharetta, Ga.

M.F.: Edelman will have sleeper value, albeit short-term value, if Welker is forced to miss the start of next season. Edelman showed flashes of statistical potential after Welker went down, catching 10 passes for 103 yards in the 2009 regular-season finale against Houston. Edelman also hauled in six passes, two for touchdowns, in the Patriots' postseason loss to the Ravens. Edelman could be as much as a borderline No. 2 or 3 fantasy wideout as a prominent member of the passing game. But again, his value will be limited once Welker returns.

What do you think of C.J. Spiller's potential at the NFL level? What sort of fantasy value will he have if he ends up in Seattle? It seems that's the most popular destination I've seen for him in mock drafts. - L. Schumacher, Escondido, Calif.

M.F.: Maybe the most telling mock draft in the case of Spiller comes from NFL.com senior writer Pat Kirwan, who projects him to be taken by the Seahawks. Given Kirwan's relationship with coach Pete Carroll, I tend to agree. He also thinks Spiller could "touch the ball 20 times a game as a rookie," between his backfield and special teams duties. The team desperately needs a playmaker on offense, and many have compared Spiller to Chris Johnson because of his speed and versatile skill set. While Julius Jones and Justin Forsett will remain in the mix, neither has the tools or upside to keep Spiller from being Carroll's top option. That doesn't mean he'll see a featured role, as Carroll seems to like committees. But at worst, Spiller would be the team's lead running back and worth a low middle-round pick.

I saw your blog on Jermichael Finley earlier in the week, and I agree with you 100 percent except for one statement. You think Jason Witten should still be taken ahead of Finley? I had Witten on my own fantasy team last season, and he was so inconsistent! He also isn't much of a touchdown threat. I'd rather have Finley! - N. Desjardins, Davie, Fla.

M.F.: I'm a fan of Finley heading into next season, as you can tell from that blog post. I still wouldn't take him ahead of Witten, who has averaged 90 receptions for 1,042 yards since 2007. Sure, his touchdown totals have been a bit disappointing. But do you really think Witten will be held to just two scores in consecutive seasons? I don't. I'd project him for closer to five touchdowns in 2010. The Cowboys tight end is going to see many more targets and finish with better reception and yardage totals than Finley.

I'm a huge Eagles fan, and I keep hearing trade rumors about Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb. Who do you think will stay and who is most likely to be traded during the offseason? How will the move affect fantasy football? - P. Rodney, Lansdowne, Pa.

M.F.: I have a hard time believing the Eagles will trade McNabb, who will be a top-10 fantasy quarterback in 2010. Vick has recently expressed interest in playing for the Panthers, but NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports the Eagles will pay Vick the $1.5 million roster bonus he's owed at the end of the week and likely wouldn't deal him until the preseason (if at all). If Vick does land with a team that will use him as its starter, he'll instantly become a viable No. 2 fantasy quarterback. The same holds true of Kolb, who's been rumored to be traded to the Browns this season. Stay tuned.

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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