Which rookie will be the most valuable in fantasy football next season? - JeromeNdahouse (via Twitter)
Michael Fabiano: Typically the top rookie in fantasy land is a running back, simply because it's one of the easiest positions to make the transition from college to the pros. While it's difficult to determine a rookie's true value until he is actually drafted by a team, I'd have to go with Alabama's Mark Ingram. He's the most NFL-ready back in the 2011 class, possessing strong running and receiving skills to go along with the ability to pass protect. That final tool might be the most important and will be the one that ultimately keeps him on the field more often. Ingram, who performed well at the recent NFL Scouting Combine, has been linked to the Dolphins, Giants and Patriots.
M.F.: At this point, I have Peterson ranked as the top player on my fantasy football board. There hasn't been a more reliable running back in the league over the last four years, and A.D. will be even more motivated to produce considering he's slated to become a free agent in 2012. Also keep in mind that we are entering uncharted offseason territory due to the current CBA situation, but I can't see the Vikings going into the 2011 season with Joe Webb as their starting quarterback. In fact, I expect the team to go after a veteran like Donovan McNabb or Vince Young. Regardless, Peterson will remain the bell cow and should continue to produce at a high level.
M.F.: I don't think there's any question that Bryant has more raw talent, more upside and more fantasy appeal then Austin. The Oklahoma State product does need to be more durable, though, as he suffered ankle and leg ailments as a rookie that cost him four games. Bryant did report on his Twitter page that he "jogged a little" during a recent workout, so all seems to be progressing well in his rehab. Right now, I have Bryant ranked at No. 13 at his position ahead of both Brandon Lloyd and Brandon Marshall. Austin, who I see as a nice No. 2 fantasy wideout, comes in at No. 18. As for Manning, he'll be taken in the first round in a lot of 2011 drafts. But in my opinion, I wouldn't make such a move. There are more solid quarterbacks in the league than ever before, and fantasy owners should be using that to their advantage. That means going after running backs and wide receivers in the earlier rounds and targeting a signal-caller like Ben Roethlisberger or Josh Freeman in the middle stanzas.
Our NFL.com league is going to include keepers next season, but no one is certain of how the rules would work. Can you help? - themachine000 (via Twitter)
M.F.: There are countless ways to run a keeper league, but I'll tell you how I run mine. Each team in the league is allowed to retain up to three players (for no more than two years), but you can also decide not to keep anyone. If you keep a player drafted in the first round, you lose a first-round pick. That rule is in place for players selected in the first three rounds. If you decide to keep someone drafted in the fourth round or later, or a player that was added off the waiver wire (Michael Vick is a good example), you would lose a fourth rounder. In the event that you retain two such players, you would lose a fourth- and a fifth-round selection. Any owner who retains three such players would lose picks in rounds four through six. If you acquire someone via trade that results in keeping two players selected in Round 2, for example, you would lose a second- and a third-round selection. Also, no players added off the waiver wire after your league's trade deadline is eligible to be retained.
Where do you have Rob Gronkowski ranked for next season? Do you see him as a top-five tight end? - bossprtsthennow (via Twitter)
M.F.: Gronkowski finished fifth in fantasy points at his position last season, which is an impressive feat for a rookie. However, I doubt that he'll rank that highly again in 2011. In fact, I have him listed at No. 11 on my current tight ends board. Remember that the position took an enormous hit due to injuries in 2010, as Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark and Jermichael Finley all missed significant time. Owen Daniels and Zach Miller also dealt with nagging ailments that hindered their production. Also keep in mind that Gronkowski will be forced to share at least some snaps with his talented teammate, Aaron Hernandez. He's also unlikely to score 10 touchdowns in consecutive seasons. Playing with Tom Brady is of course a major advantage, as is a favorable schedule that includes games against the Bills (2), Eagles, Redskins, Broncos, Raiders and Chargers. But I don't see Gronkowski as emerging into an elite fantasy tight end -- he'll be more of a low-end No. 1 option.
Will Ryan Torain be a strong running back to go after this year now that Clinton Portis is gone? - Dillanos_Bean (via Twitter)
M.F.: Torain certainly has the talent to make an impact in fantasy circles. That was evident last season, as he rushed for 100-plus yards three times and averaged a solid 13.5 fantasy points in his last four games. The problem with Torain is and has always been his lack of durability. During his short NFL career, he's suffered an injured elbow, a torn ACL in his left knee and a hamstring ailment. He's clearly the top option on the Redskins depth chart after the release of Portis, though, so he'll have more than his share of opportunities to shine if he can avoid the trainer's room. I consider Torain a risk-reward No. 2 fantasy runner who's worth a middle-round look on draft day.
M.F.: Reports on Stafford's recovery from shoulder surgery have all been positive up to this point. In fact, coach Jim Schwartz recently told MLive.com that the young quarterback is "doing well." While Stafford will be forced to rehab on his own in the event of a lockout, all signs point to him being ready to roll in time for training camp. Personally, I'm a huge fan of Stafford -- I think he has the tools and talent around him to be a top-eight fantasy quarterback. The problem, of course, is that he's suffered serious shoulder injuries in each of his first two NFL seasons. So much like the situation with Torain, Stafford will be a risk-reward option in the middle rounds.
What sort of value will Larry Fitzgerald have next season? We know he has the talent, but what about the quarterback situation? - nealsweeney (via Twitter)
M.F.: I have Fitzgerald ranked in the top 10 among wide receivers, and I'll move him up even further if (or when) the Cardinals upgrade their quarterback position. It's a testament to his own skills and abilities that he finished with 90 catches, 1,137 yards and six touchdowns last season, especially when you consider the signal-callers who were throwing him the football. If the team can land someone like Marc Bulger, who has been mentioned as a possible offseason addition, Fitzgerald would once again be worth a second-round pick in fantasy drafts. One thing we do know about the talented wideout is that his schedule is very favorable in 2011. Fitzgerald faces the Seahawks (2), 49ers (2), Cowboys, Redskins and Bengals among his weaker foes.
M.F.: The Niners are one of a number of teams that would no doubt have serious interest in Palmer if he became available this offseason. However, Bengals.com reports that owner Mike Brown is "showing no signs that he's backing off" his initial statement that he has no intention of trading Palmer. There have also been reports that Palmer told a confidant that he would "never set foot in Paul Brown Stadium again," so this situation is getting more than a little testy. With the current state of the CBA, it could be some time before we know where Palmer plays in 2011 -- if he plays at all.
Do you see Dallas Clark coming back and returning to an elite level again in 2011? - EmpireRising (via Twitter)
M.F.:Clark told NFL Network at Super Bowl XLV that he's rehabbing his surgically-repaired wrist and will "be back ready to go next year." He also said that since the injury occurred in Week 6, he'll have time to make a full recovery. I also wouldn't be worried about Clark losing any playing time to Jacob Tamme, who thrived in his absence last season. Clark is the unquestioned No. 1 tight end on the roster, and he'll continue to produce good numbers with Peyton Manning at the helm. In fact, Clark should still be considered the second-best player at his position behind Gates.