What does the addition of Terrell Owens mean for the value of Trent Edwards and Lee Evans? -- J. Tansey, Atlanta, Ga.
Michael Fabiano: The move has a positive impact on the value of Edwards, who now has a ton of weapons in a suddenly loaded passing game. He needs to reduce his number of turnovers, but I think the Stanford product is now a legitimate sleeper and a more viable No. 2 fantasy quarterback. The presence of Owens will decrease double teams and help Evans from a matchup perspective, but he's going to lose targets. What's more, I don't see the Bills having two 1,000-yard wide receivers. That makes me view Evans as a No. 3 fantasy wideout. He'll post some big numbers at times because of his speed and skills in the vertical passing game, but Evans will remain inconsistent
M.F.: I dropped Romo from second to fifth among fantasy quarterbacks, as the loss of his most lethal weapon is certain to hurt his numbers. But in an offense that still fields Roy E. Williams, Jason Witten and a loaded backfield, I think Romo remains one of the top signal-callers in the league. Barber, who could be moved behind Felix Jones on the depth chart for next season, remains a viable No. 1 fantasy back. Despite possibly losing the starting role, Barber will still see the majority of carries in the ground attack -- especially near the goal line -- for coordinator Jason Garrett. With Owens now out of the mix, Roy E. Williams becomes a low-end No. 1 fantasy wideout. Patrick Crayton and potential sleeper Miles Austin will battle for a starting role. Both will be taken in most drafts.
What do you think of Cedric Benson for next season? He was an absolute star towards the end of 2008, and the Bengals don't have anyone on their roster to steal carries. Can he make an impact in 2009? -- L. Gillis, Astoria, N.Y.
M.F.: Benson does appear to be in line for a featured role, which improves his draft value, but be sure to temper your expectations. In his three-game explosion at the end of last season, Benson averaged 28 carries in an offense that leaned on the run with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. With Carson Palmer back at the helm, however, the Bengals are certain to throw the ball more often. And unless their is significant improvement, this still looks like a team that will have to overcome deficits and could be forced to throw the football a ton. What's more, this is still Cedric Benson. I see him as no more than a No. 3 fantasy running back or flex starter in most leagues.
I'm in a 15-team dynasty league and have a trade agreement in place that would land me Terrell Owens in exchange for Matt Ryan and DeSean Jackson. However, there is a stipulation that either team can back out of the trade. In that case, the team that backs out would lose a second-round rookie pick to the other team. Should I back out now that Owens is in Buffalo? My other main starters include Jay Cutler, Ronnie Brown, Ryan Grant, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall and Roy E. Williams. -- B. Kauzlarich, Iowa.
M.F.: With Fitzgerald, Marshall and Williams on your roster, I'm not sure I would have agreed to this deal. You would likely rotate Owens and Williams as your No. 3 wideout, with Fitzgerald and Marshall entrenched as starters. You'll also lose Ryan, a solid dynasty-league option, and a wideout with potential in Jackson. Owens, who turns 36 this December, might have one more good season left in the tank before his numbers fall off the table. Based on the fact that this is a larger league, which will thin the rookie talent in the second round, I'd likely back out of the deal and lose the second-round pick. Just be sure to keep tabs on Marshall, who could be suspended by the NFL.
M.F.: There's no need to retain more than one quarterback, so I'd keep Cutler, Peterson, Johnson and Marshall. Of course, the Cutler and coach Josh McDaniels situation is something to monitor. Reports indicate the two spoke about their recent rift, with Cutler coming out of the discussion feeling that he could still be traded. If that scenario comes to fruition, it would have huge fantasy implications. One thing is for sure -- there will be no shortage of teams looking to acquire Cutler, who I see as the most talented young quarterback in the entire league.
Where do you think Derrick Ward will be selected in most drafts? I don't think he should be targeted higher than the third round. What's your opinion? Thanks! -- J. Mancuso
M.F.: I like Ward to post good, not great numbers, in his first season with the Buccaneers. Where he loses some of his luster is around the goal line, as Earnest Graham figures to vulture at least a few touchdowns during the season. Overall, I agree with your assessment and see Ward as an early third-round selection in most formats.
Hi Michael, great work on the column. I wanted to get your take on the Raiders' backfield situation. With three potential ball carriers in Michael Bush, Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden, how do you see the carries being split up? Is this McFadden's year to become fantasy relevant? -- J. Vorrasi, Florida
M.F.: I have to admit that I'm confused by this entire situation. Fargas is the least talented back out of this trio, but he recently restructured his contract and remains the favorite to start with McFadden and Bush behind him on the depth chart. If I'm Raiders coach Tom Cable, I'm starting McFadden and using Bush in goal-line and short-yardage situations. But with Fargas seemingly entrenched in the backfield, this could be a situation that causes fantasy owners a lot of headaches. I have McFadden, Bush and Fargas, ranked in that order, in my current running back rankings, but that could change in the months to come.
M.F.: I'd rank these four wideouts in this order: 1. Smith, 2. Owens, 3. Houshmandzadeh, 4. Jackson. Outside of Smith, I see the rest of these players as no more than No. 2 fantasy wideouts. That's a downgrade for Houshmandzadeh and Owens, who have been considered on a more elite level in recent seasons. To see the entire list of wide receivers as I see them now, click here.
M.F.: I think Cutler and Slaton are the best keepers out of the players you've listed, so the final decision is between Hightower, Stewart and Thomas. I see that you like Stewart, and I think he's the most talented back out of this trio. Has there ever been less hype around a rookie running back who scored 10 touchdowns? The problem is that he's entrenched as the second option in Carolina's backfield committee with DeAngelo Williams, who is under contract with the organization until 2011. Hightower and Thomas are also in committee situations, however, so I'd still side with Stewart based on the fact that he has more talent and long-term upside.
Mike, thanks for your help last season -- it helped me go from last place to champion in 2008! Now I have to decide on keeping three players from Tony Romo, Brandon Jacobs, Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams and Randy Moss. I can only start one quarterback and two running backs. I'm leaning toward Turner and Williams, but the third player is driving me crazy. Guys in my league horde quarterbacks, which makes Romo appealing. But does his value fall without Terrell Owens? I also like Moss with Tom Brady back. I could also keep all three running backs and trade one for an upgrade at quarterback or wide receiver. What should I do? -- G. Finegan, Canada
M.F.: Congratulations on the championship! I would agree with you that Turner and Williams are the two best keeper options, and I'd look to make a trade to upgrade another position. Jacobs has a lot of value in keeper leagues based on his age and potential production, so he'd be someone to put on the trade block. If you can't make a deal, the final keeper needs to be based on league size and scoring system. If you're in a PPR league and can still land a good quarterback in the first or second round of the re-draft, then I'd retain Moss. But if it's a larger league and good quarterbacks will be hard to find, it makes more sense to retain Romo.