I have the No. 7 overall pick in a 10-team keeper league and must retain three players out of Drew Brees, Jamaal Charles, Frank Gore and Andre Johnson. I know you have ranked Brees second among quarterbacks, Johnson first at wide receiver and Gore ahead of Charles. I just find it difficult to let go of Charles. He seems to have so much potential and upside. - N. DeStefano, Canada
Michael Fabiano: I would tell you to make a trade, but I'm not sure you can improve on Brees at quarterback or Johnson at wideout based on their current value. However, you could look to pair Gore and Charles in an attempt to acquire an elite talent like Chris Johnson. Maybe it's an unlikely deal, but it never hurts to try a move that would give you Brees, Johnson and Johnson. Can you say championship? If you're forced to stand pat, though, I'd retain Brees, Johnson and Gore ahead of Charles. While I do love the upside Charles possesses, Gore is a far more proven asset who's productive and still young for a running back. You might not know it, but Gore actually averaged more fantasy points per game (in standard formats) than Ray Rice last season. That's a very telling statistic when considering Gore's value.
M.F.: The New York Daily News expects the Jets to part ways with Jones, who is owed a $2.8 million roster bonus in March. I think much of that decision will depend on the status of Leon Washington, who is coming off a serious leg injury and could be questionable to return in time for the start of the regular season. I think Greene becomes the No. 1 breakout candidate in fantasy football for 2010 if the Jets release Jones. In fact, I'd rank him in the top 10 among running backs ahead of the likes of Cedric Benson, Charles and Steven Jackson. I think Greene is that good, and it doesn't hurt to run behind one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Hi Mike, where do you think LaDainian Tomlinson will land next season? Do you think it's out of the realm of possibility that he can rebound and put up great numbers, sort of like Curtis Martin in 2004? I've had L.T. in my keeper league for his entire career in San Diego. Sort of sad to see him go! - J. Stephenson, Rock Hill, S.C.
M.F.: As long as Tomlinson is fair with his demands, there should be several teams that will show interest. NFL Network insider Steve Wyche thinks the 49ers, Bengals, Saints Texans and Vikings could all be good fits. With the imminent release of Brian Westbrook, the Eagles could show some interest as well. Wherever he lands, I'd be shocked if Tomlinson comes out and makes a Martin-like impact. What Martin did in 2004 is a rare feat for a running back in his 30s, and I don't think Tomlinson will duplicate it. In fact, I see L.T. as a committee back for the remainder of his career.
You've mentioned the FPA rating a few times in your mailbag. Obviously, you've done your homework. How can we less resourceful (more lazy) fantasy football fans get our hands on those stats? - M. Phillips, Fresno, Calif.
M.F.: I covered how the FPA (fantasy points allowed) rating was formulated and how it works in a recent blog. It's a Rotisserie-style ranking of every NFL team based on their successes or failures against each of the six major fantasy positions. Every team was assigned a point value per position from 1-32, based on how it performed last season. For example, the Lions gave up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2009, so every signal-caller facing them next season received one point. If a quarterback faces the Jets, who gave up the fewest points to the position, he received 32 points. The lower the point total, the easier the schedule and the better the FPA rating. While this isn't a fool-proof method for fantasy success in what can be an unpredictable NFL, it can help when picking players of similar value and in the search for fantasy's top sleepers.
M.F.: As it stands, I see McCoy as a high-end No. 2 fantasy back with added value in PPR leagues. While he does need to improve on his pass-blocking skills and will lose goal-line work to Leonard Weaver, it will be hard to look past McCoy in the second or third round on draft day. Of course, McCoy's value would take a slight hit if (and when) the Eagles add another back to the mix. One name that comes to mind is Chester Taylor, who'd be a perfect fit for the offense of coach Andy Reid. As for putting up the same sort of numbers as Westbrook in his prime, don't count on it in 2010. While McCoy has a similar skill set, I think Westbrook was a better overall back. To answer your final question, I would still retain Charles ahead of McCoy. With Westbrook out of the mix, though, it is a much closer call between the two young backs.
I'm in a 14-team keeper league where we retain three players and can trade draft picks. We start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one flex player, one kicker and one defense. I currently have Aaron Rodgers, Steven Jackson and Andre Johnson as my keepers. I also have Wes Welker and Joseph Addai. Do you think either of them have trade value? Any chance of pairing a couple players for a better trio of keepers? - L. Karr, Champaign, Ill.
M.F.: Obviously, Rodgers, Jackson and Johnson are your three best keepers and should be retained. I'm a big proponent of making trades, so check out the rosters of your fellow owners and see if a deal makes sense. Maybe someone could use a running back, in which case Addai would be attractive. Welker's questionable status for the start of the season will make it hard to receive full trade value in return, but you can still put him on the block and see what offers are made. In terms of pairing players, you can also offer Jackson and Addai to a team lacking backfield depth in an effort to land an elite runner like Adrian Peterson or Maurice Jones-Drew.
I'm in two different keeper leagues and have questions about both. The first is a casual eight-team league where I can keep two players from Aaron Rodgers, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew (I know, I cleaned up and took first place). I'm thinking about keeping Rodgers and Jones-Drew, but having two elite running backs is tempting too since we play two backs and a flex (RB/WR). The other league is significantly more competitive with 14 teams. I can keep one of Michael Turner, Randy Moss or Matt Schaub. Turner's late-season injury killed my championship hopes last season, and Moss seemed to quit in the final weeks. Should I hold the grudge and keep Schaub or take a chance on one of the others? Thanks! - D. Young, Virginia
M.F.: Wow that is one star-studded team! If your league's scoring system favors quarterbacks, it would be hard to release Rodgers. If it's a standard league, though, I would keep Peterson and Jones-Drew. Since this is a smaller league, you might be able to re-acquire Rodgers in the first round of the re-draft. At worst, you should still be able to land a top-notch quarterback because of the league's small size. In the second league, I'd let go of the grudge and retain Turner. Sure, he missed five games and was limited in other due to an injured ankle. But look on the bright side. After a 2008 season with 376 carries, Turner finished 2009 with a mere 178 rushing attempts in 2009 and should be fresh for another full workload. He also has a favorable FPA rating (12 of 32) and will remain a very prominent option in the Falcons offense.
I'm a fantasy football fanatic, and unfortunately, a fan of the St. Louis Rams! What do you think the team will do at the quarterback position? It looks like Marc Bulger is done, and I've read all the rumors about the team going after Michael Vick. I've also heard the reports about a deal with the Buccaneers for Josh Johnson. What do you see happening, and what will be the fantasy impact of the moves? - L. Sheraton, Maryland Heights, Mo.
M.F.: First off, I'd be shocked if the Rams don't release Bulger this offseason. He's clearly no longer a starting-caliber quarterback at the NFL level and is better served as a backup with another team. I've also heard the rumored trade for Johnson, but I think Vick would be a better fit. He's still a relatively young player at the age of 29, and he'd bring some excitement to a Rams offense that has no firepower outside of Steven Jackson. If the team does acquire Vick in the coming months, I'd label him a No. 2 fantasy quarterback and occasional matchup-based starter. Despite his previous success in Atlanta, I don't see Vick returning to an elite level even in a starting role. Rams GM Billy Devaney denied that he was talking with the Buccaneers about Johnson. But he did say he would be open to trading the top pick.
I've been reading reports that the Cardinals want to sign a veteran quarterback to compete with Matt Leinart. Who do you think the team will go after in the offseason, and is this a sign that the coaching staff isn't comfortable with Leinart under center? Will the offense change at all? I have Larry Fitzgerald in a keeper league, and boy do I wish Kurt Warner were coming back! - G. Douglas, Canada
M.F.: I think the Cardinals will utilize the run more often with Leinart under center, but coach Ken Whisenhunt has expressed confidence in the quarterback and insists there will be no changes to the offense next season. However, I don't think Leinart will be handed the top spot on the depth chart. In fact, the Arizona Republic is reporting that the team will pursue a veteran to compete with him in the offseason. I'm just speculating, but that could be a quarterback like Chad Pennington or Bulger. As for Fitzgerald, I still see him as one of the elite wideouts in the league. He should have no problem duplicating the 97 receptions and 1,092 yards even with Leinart under center, though his touchdown total could be closer to 10 than 15.
I'm in a 12-team keeper league and can retain five players. My best options are Tony Romo, Matt Forte, Jerome Harrison, Ray Rice, Miles Austin, Percy Harvin, Calvin Johnson and Jermichael Finley. Who should I retain? Our scoring system is pretty standard but rewards a point for receptions. Thanks! - P. Tolereno, Saratoga, N.Y.
M.F.: I would keep Romo, Forte, Rice, Austin and Johnson. Romo proved last season that he doesn't need Terrell Owens to be a productive option for fantasy owners, and the emergence of Austin gives you a great quarterback-wide receiver combination. Forte did falter badly last season, but I think he'll bounce back and put up improved numbers in 2010 under new coordinator Mike Martz. Look for him to put up at least 60 catches out of the backfield. Rice is a no-brainer, and I'm not at all worried about Johnson. The Lions had quarterback issues last season, and I'm not sure Megatron was playing at 100 percent down the stretch. He's still an elite player at the wide receiver position, and the continued development of Matthew Stafford will only increase his chances of putting up much-improved numbers in 2010.