Jackson's holdout a major cause for concern in fantasy circles

Given the situation with Vincent Jackson, could you see Malcom Floyd becoming a top 15 fantasy wide receiver? I think he is still undervalued, especially on your board. Even as the No. 2 wideout in San Diego, he is better than the 50th-best player at his position. - L. Karr, Champaign, Ill.

Michael Fabiano: I don't know about top 15, but Floyd will become a far more attractive option if Jackson's holdout becomes lengthy. The majority of fantasy drafts won't occur for another few months, though, so there is plenty of time for clarity to emerge from this increasingly ugly situation. But if Jackson is steadfast in his decision, Floyd, a current deep sleeper, would become the team's top wide receiver. He's currently ranked 50th on my board based on the assumption that Jackson will report. As we get closer to camps (and fantasy football drafts), Floyd will move up if the holdout remains imminent.

I see that you repeatedly suggested Ben Tate as the Texans running back of choice in your bye-week tracker column, but I keep hearing that Arian Foster is the starter. Is this just optimism, or do you think Tate is worth a mid-round selection on the faith that he will emerge as the top back? - J. Bouma

M.F.: Foster is the favorite to open Texans training camp atop the depth chart, but that doesn't mean he'll remain there when it's time to line up in Week 1. Tate has a pile of upside in the offense -- he's a perfect fit for coach Gary Kubiak's one-cut system -- but unfortunately he fell behind Foster due to an injured hamstring that caused him to miss part of OTAs. Remember that we're in June, though, so a lot can change between now and the start of the season -- including Tate taking over a more prominent role. That's something I see happening sooner rather than later, so I'd still take the rookie ahead of Foster and Steve Slaton.

I'm in a keeper league and need to retain one running back and one wide receiver from Ryan Grant, Jonathan Stewart, Beanie Wells, Lee Evans, Pierre Garcon, Percy Harvin and Jeremy Maclin. Thoughts? - R. Agati, Cleveland, Ohio

M.F.: At the running back position, I would side with Grant ahead of Stewart and Wells. While the latter two have youth on their side, neither of them is a featured back. Grant, 27, is still relatively young and no one is taking carries away from him in the Packers offense. What's more, he proved that he can make an impact in 2009 by finishing in the top 10 in fantasy points at his position. I'd also retain Harvin, who is an electric playmaker for the Vikings. It's a close call between Harvin and Maclin, but I think the former's versatile skill set makes him the better option. And at 22, he has a number of productive seasons at the NFL level ahead of him.

I'm new to fantasy football, and I have a question about running backs. Why are they seen as so valuable in leagues when it's the quarterbacks that score more points? - J. Mitchell, New Zealand

M.F.: In the past, running backs were the true kings of fantasy football. Players like Eric Dickerson, Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk and Priest Holmes, to name a few, saw a great majority of their team's carries and were almost guaranteed to produce huge numbers. The NFL has become more of a passing league in this day and age, though, so you will see quarterbacks ranked in a far more prominent fashion. The reason the top five to six players heading into 2010 are runners is supply and demand. There are so few featured backs still in the league nowadays that you almost have to take one with one of the first five to seven picks in Round 1. Also, there are a lot of viable No. 1 fantasy quarterbacks around the league, so you can wait on the position until the low middle rounds and still land someone like Tony Romo, Brett Favre or Jay Cutler.

I'm in a 10-team PPR keeper league and need to retain three players from Tom Brady, Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, DeAngelo Williams and Wes Welker. Thanks! - M. Witzke, Germany

M.F.: I realize that wide receivers are enormously valuable in PPR leagues, but I would release Welker and retain Brady, Johnson and Charles. You'll have one the elite quarterbacks in the league in Tom Terrific, who should post nice numbers one season removed from major knee reconstruction. Johnson is a no-brainer in this scenario, and Charles has a pile of upside as the top back in Kansas City. Both players are also skilled pass catchers, which just adds to their value in this format. With a quarterback and two runners on the roster, be sure to target wide receivers with each of your first two picks in the re-draft. If you want to take a chance on Welker, who's coming off ACL surgery, he's an obvious option.

I'm in a pretty standard keeper league, with the exception that we reward five points for passing touchdowns. I need to retain either Peyton Manning or Steven Jackson. I am concerned about Jackson coming off back surgery, not to mention the lack of talent around him. Manning is an iron man, but he has to contend with the so-called Super Bowl hangover. I have the No. 8 overall pick in the re-draft. Who do recommend I keep? - R. Trembicki, West Chester, Pa.

M.F.: I would keep Manning, no questions asked. As I've said before, Jackson is one of the riskiest players in fantasy football this season. Sure, he rushed for over 1,400 yards in 2009. But Jackson also scored just four touchdowns in 15 games. He has also rushed for an average of just five touchdowns per season since 2007. That's pretty poor. As you mentioned, he's also coming off back surgery. There's just too much risk -- and not enough recent production -- for me to keep him ahead of the guaranteed 4,000 passing yards and 30-plus touchdowns you'll get from Manning. And if any quarterback can overcome the "Curse of the Super Bowl loser," it's Manning.

I play in a 12-team league with a standard scoring system, and I'm really struggling to decide on keeping a wideout. Keep in mind, we lose the round of the player we retain. I can keep one from Brandon Marshall (Round 6), Sidney Rice (Round 15) or Michael Crabtree (Round 16). I'm leaning towards Marshall, but doesn't he lose some value in a non-PPR league? - M. Thebare, United Kingdom

M.F.: Rice and Crabtree are viable keeper options, but you have to retain Marshall. I realize he loses a little of his luster in a non-PPR format (he's caught 307 passes since 2007), but the veteran out of Central Florida has also scored a combined 23 touchdowns and averaged 81 yards per game in that time. He's one of the league's most talented all-around wideouts and a very solid option in this case. The fact that you'll only lose a sixth-round pick to retain Marshall makes him all the more attractive.

I have the top pick in the first draft of a PPR dynasty league. Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson would be the obvious choices, but Johnson's contract situation and the fact that he doesn't have much of an offense around him worries me. Peterson could be huge this season, but will he still produce post-Brett Favre as he himself also gets a little worn down? Am I nuts for considering Ray Rice, ahead of Johnson or Peterson, as the top pick? - P. Jensen, Denmark

M.F.: Based on the fact that this is a dynasty league, there really is no better pick than Johnson. He's a very young running back at the age of 24, and he's already proven how productive he can be on the football field. Sure, the current contract dispute is a cause for some concern. But do you really think it will affect him in the long term? I'd actually be shocked if Johnson held out past August 10. Per current NFL rules, players need to report to their teams before that date in order to receive credit for a year of service. If he fails to show up, Johnson would lose a year toward free agency. Rice and Peterson are obviously viable options, but I'd still be taking Johnson.

I'm getting my league started up on NFL.com, and I'm not sure what is the best time to have my draft. Would you suggest the last day of August, or something earlier? Also, does the fact that NFL.com rewards only four points for passing touchdowns hurt the value of quarterbacks? - E. Peterson, Bloomington, Minn.

M.F.: I know it's tough to wait, but I would hold my draft in one of the final two weeks of August. Injuries, depth-chart changes and other factors are just a few of the reasons to wait as long as you can to draft. In terms of your scoring question, rewarding four points for passing touchdowns is actually considered standard scoring, and I don't think it affects the value of quarterbacks. In 2009, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub, Tony Romo, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers still finished in the top 10 in fantasy points among all players despite the decreased reward for touchdown passes. If you're in a customizable NFL.com league, you can actually make touchdown passes worth whatever you want.

What are your thoughts on Hakeem Nicks? He seems to be a pretty big part of the Giants offense this season. What round do you think Nicks will come off the board on draft day? - L. Parks, Lafayette, La.

M.F.: As long as Nicks holds off Mario Manningham in training camp -- something I think will happen -- he should be seen as a solid sleeper candidate in 2010. He was a viable fantasy starter at time during his rookie season, showing flashes of the potential that made him a first-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Despite starting just six games, Nicks still posted 790 yards and found the end zone six times in what became a more pass-laden offense. He's destined to see an increase in those totals this upcoming season and could turn into a legitimate No. 2 fantasy wideout. I would expect Nicks to come off the board in either Round 5 or 6 in both standard and PPR formats.

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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