Johnson's value in a state of flux; McGahee falling in fantasy drafts

Does Rudi Johnson have much draft value this season? What do you think will happen with the quarterback situation in Arizona? Also, what sort of numbers do you think Marc Bulger will produce in 2008? Thanks! -- T. Burrows, France

Michael Fabiano: Chris Perry is the current starter in Cincinnati, but Johnson has a chance to re-gain the top spot on the depth chart. Coach Marvin Lewis told that Johnson needs to show "he's a better ballplayer" than Perry in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Indianapolis Colts.

If Johnson, who has been limited due to an injured hamstring, looks solid in that contest, he could ultimately become the starter in Week 1. Most preseason finales have little value in fantasy land, but this one is one to watch if your draft is this weekend. Overall, I think a committee situation with Perry, Johnson and Kenny Watson is still imminent.

2007 Statistics:
Att: 170

Yards: 497

TDs: 3

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn't selected Kurt Warner or Matt Leinart his starting quarterback, but I think the former will be under center in Week 1. Leinart still makes bad decisions, and his arm strength is questionable at best. If Warner does win the spot, he should be seen as a top-10 fantasy quarterback.

As for Bulger, I see him as a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy starter whose value is based in part on his offensive line. If Bulger is well protected, he should be good for around 3,500 passing yards and 20 touchdowns. But if he's running for his life every week, he'll be an inconsistent option in all formats.

I have been offered Ryan Grant and Roy Williams for Jamal Lewis and Greg Jennings. I also have Marion Barber, Kevin Smith and LenDale White at running back and Bernard Berrian, Plaxico Burress and Devin Hester at wide receiver. What do you think? -- J. Lister, Salina, Kan.

M.F.: I would take this deal in a second. Grant has far more upside than Lewis, who still comes with at least some risk based on his age (29) and the fact that his success last season came when he was playing for a contract. I also like Williams ahead of Jennings, who has little chance to score another 12 touchdowns with Aaron Rodgers under center in Green Bay. Williams also has 1,000-yard potential, which is something Jennings lacks based on his team's overall depth at wide receiver.

What is the latest news on Willis McGahee? Will he be available in Week 1? Also, would you rather have Ray Rice or DeAngelo Williams? -- M. Isaacs, Panama

M.F.: The Ravens expect McGahee to be available for their regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he could see a limited workload as he continues to recover from an arthroscopic knee procedure. Furthermore, coach John Harbaugh could decide to use Rice more often in an effort to ease his top runner back onto the field. The matchup is tremendous, but McGahee could be a fantasy risk to open the season. As for the debate between Rice and Williams, I'll take the latter. He's been a preseason superstar and remains the favorite to start in Carolina. A committee situation with Jonathan Stewart appears imminent, but Williams likely will see carries than Rice.

I have been offered Peyton Manning for Terrell Owens in our 12-team league. I also have Matt Hasselbeck, and my current wideouts are Owens, Ted Ginn Jr. and Chad Johnson. Should I pull the trigger? -- J. Parkes, Australia

M.F.: I'd pass on this deal, especially with Johnson at less than 100 percent due to an injured shoulder. Sure, Manning is a serious upgrade over Hasselbeck. But the Seattle quarterback isn't exactly chopped liver, either. I also like the wide receiver duo of Owens and Johnson much more than one that includes Johnson and Ginn.

What sort of value will DeSean Jackson have this season? Is he worth a middle-round selection in a 12-team draft? -- J. Robertson, Oklahoma City, Okla.

M.F.: Jackson is fourth in receiving yards this preseason and has seen his value rise with Kevin Curtis (hernia surgery) out for several weeks. But coach Andy Reid prefers to use Jackson in the slot, with Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett the favorites to start. It should also be noted that most rookie wideouts tend to struggle in their transition from college to the much faster NFL level, so Jackson will endure his share of growing pains. He is worth taking in a 12-team seasonal league, but I see him as more of a late-round selection.

Do you think J.T. O'Sullivan is worth drafting as a backup fantasy quarterback? He looked great last week against the Chicago Bears. Also, can you shed some light on San Francisco's wide receiver situation? Thanks! -- B. Wronkiewicz, Park Ridge, Ill.

M.F.: I doubt O'Sullivan will be the next Kurt Warner, but he does have some late-round value in leagues with 12-plus teams based on the presence of OC Mike Martz. However, I don't see the veteran quarterback warranting serious consideration until he proves himself in the regular season. The team's wide receiver position is still in a state of flux as we close in on Week 1. Isaac Bruce is a lock to start under Martz, but the battle between Bryant Johnson and Josh Morgan is still undecided.

Johnson has been slowed with an injured hamstring, but he's returned to practice and saw first-team reps on Tuesday. Arnaz Battle looks like the team's No. 3 wideout, but Jason Hill, Ashley Lelie and Dominique Zeigler are also in the mix. The most valuable fantasy options are Bruce, Johnson and Morgan, but I wouldn't lean on any of this trio.

I have the No. 8 overall selection in our draft, and I think Tom Brady, Marion Barber and Randy Moss will be available. But I also like Marshawn Lynch a lot this season. Would you take Lynch ahead of the aforementioned trio? -- D. Breaux, Sunnyvale, Calif.

M.F.: I'm also a huge fan of Lynch heading into this season, but I'd still take Barber ahead of him if he's available. The veteran has scored more touchdowns than every other running back in the league outside of LaDainian Tomlinson over the past two seasons, and that was in a committee situation with Julius Jones. Now that he's the unquestioned starter, it's hard to envision a scenario where Barber won't produce the first 1,000-yard season of his NFL career.

I have the first overall pick in our draft and will take LaDainian Tomlinson, but I'm not sure who to draft in the second and third rounds. Should I target an elite wide receiver like Braylon Edwards or Andre Johnson? -- P. Gentile, Baltimore, Md.

M.F.: Based on the flow of the draft, you should take either a No. 1 wide receiver and a No. 2 running back or two wide receivers. In the recent drafts I've been in with either friends or other industry experts, wideouts have come off the board at a far more rampant pace. In fact, runners such as Reggie Bush, Earnest Graham, Brandon Jacobs, Maurice Jones-Drew and Willis McGahee were still on the board into the fourth round in some cases. Of course, your draft could be more running back-driven, in which case you want to secure another starter to pair with Tomlinson. But if the "new" norm is in effect in your league as well, I'd plan on targeting two wide receivers.

I have been offered T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Alge Crumpler for Andre Johnson. I currently have Bernard Berrian, Nate Burleson, Johnson and Reggie Wayne at wide receiver and Tony Scheffler at tight end. What are your thoughts? -- I. Henderlong, Naples, Fla.

M.F.: Houshmandzadeh is a valuable asset in fantasy land, but I see Johnson as a viable breakout candidate. What's more, Crumpler isn't an upgrade over Scheffler, who has the potential to post 500-600 yards and four to six touchdowns in Denver. As a result, I'd hold onto Johnson and would pass on this trade.

How does the loss of Osi Umenyiora affect the IDP value of Justin Tuck? Also, which running back in Carolina has more value, Jonathan Stewart or DeAngelo Williams? -- W. Douglas, Indianapolis, Ind.

M.F.: Tuck is a rising star in individual defensive player (IDP) leagues, but the loss of Umenyiora almost guarantees that he'll see more attention from opposing offensive lines. What would help his numbers is if new starting DE Mathias Kiwanuka can quickly develop into an effective pass rusher on the right side of the line. Overall, Tuck should still be seen as a starting defensive lineman in IDP formats. As for the Carolina backfield, I think Stewart has more value based on his expected role as the team's goal-line back. I do see this as an imminent backfield committee, but the fact that Stewart has a better chance to score touchdowns makes him the better back.

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