I'm in a PPR keeper league that rewards six points for all touchdowns. We're allowed to retain one player, but you lose the round that players was drafted. I have to choose from Maurice Jones-Drew (Round 1), Matt Schaub (Round 7) and LeSean McCoy (Round 9). Who would you recommend? - J. Crisp, Pryor, Okla.
Michael Fabiano: Schaub and McCoy are both good draft values based on the round you'd lose, but Jones-Drew is the player to retain. It's hard to find a featured back in the current NFL, and Jones-Drew is one of the best in the business. In his first season as the Jaguars featured back, "Pocket Hercules" totaled 1,765 scrimmage yards and a career-best 16 total touchdowns. His success should continue in 2010, as Jones-Drew has a favorable schedule that includes games against the Colts (2), Titans (2), Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Browns and Bills. Four of those teams were in the top five in terms of allowing the most fantasy points to running backs last season.
I'm in a 10-team, NFL-managed league and wanted your opinion on wide receivers. I want to land Sidney Rice or Brandon Marshall as my top wideout, but I don't know if I want Anquan Boldin, Greg Jennings or Steve Smith (NYG) to be my second receiver. At first I really wanted Jennings, but after further research I realized Boldin would be a better pick. However, NFL.com predicts that Jennings will have an amazing season. I disagree -- he's still with the Packers, and what if Donald Driver or Jermichael Finley put up more touchdowns? What are your thoughts? - J. Hicks, Atlanta, Ga.
M.F.: I'm here to help you win your fantasy league, but remember that at the end of the day you are the general manager and coach of your team. So when you have to make a decision between two players with similar value, like Jennings and Boldin, you should really go with your gut instinct. If your research shows that Boldin is the better option based on your league's scoring system, then you should take him ahead of Jennings or Smith. You won't lose much whatever decision you make. Myself, though, I prefer Jennings out of that trio. While his numbers weren't great last season, the veteran wideout still posted better than 1,100 yards and should improve on the four touchdowns he recorded. With a stud quarterback like Aaron Rodgers under center and Driver getting longer in the tooth, I think Jennings is bound for a solid season.
I have a "top secret" draft strategy that's very different from most others. My dream first four picks (assuming a No. 5-8 draft position) is Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, DeAngelo Williams and Jennings. The hardest guy to get is Williams in Round 3. I'd like to hear your take on going after three top-flight wide receivers and then filling out my roster with players like Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Jacobs and Felix Jones. - R. Jeffries, Canada
M.F.: Well, your "top secret" draft strategy isn't so secret anymore! If you're in a league that rewards points for catches or has a scoring system that favors wide receivers, I think your strategy can work. I've been in PPR experts leagues where that sort of strategy has been utilized, and it can certainly be effective if you make smart decisions as the draft progresses. Just be aware that your starting running backs won't be as attractive, as you'll have no chance to get an elite player at the position if you wait two rounds to fill it. As you mentioned, I doubt that Williams will be on the board in the third round. In fact, you're much more likely to get a running back like Knowshon Moreno, Beanie Wells or Jahvid Best in that part of the draft. While this isn't a strategy I would consider myself, it's not at all outlandish.
I have the No. 4 overall pick in our 12-team fantasy draft, and I'm going to take either Ray Rice or Jones-Drew in Round 1. With my second pick (No. 21), I really want to take Tony Romo (assuming Rodgers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are off the board). Usually I don't take a quarterback that early, but Romo has a favorable FPA rating and a great offense around him. My gut tells me that if I don't take him with my second pick, then I wont get him. Do you think I would be reaching with that pick? - J. Content, New York, N.Y.
M.F.: You're right about Romo -- he has a very attractive schedule ahead and one of the most talented offensive casts in the league around him. Not only will he have the support of a talented backfield that includes Felix Jones and Marion Barber, but the addition of rookie Dez Bryant to a pass attack that has Miles Austin, Jason Witten and Roy Williams makes Romo that much more attractive. I've even moved him to fifth at the quarterback position behind Rodgers, Brees, Manning and Tom Brady on my latest board. However, I'm not sure he's worth a second-round pick. In fact, you'll likely be able to land Romo in Round 3 or 4, so go after a second running back or a star wide receiver with the No. 21 overall selection.
I'm in a league that rewards six points for all touchdowns. Do you think it's a good idea to take a quarterback and his favorite target (for instance, Brady and Randy Moss) in the second and third rounds (if possible) instead of going after the best player available? - K. Meier, Belle Mead, N.J.
M.F.: Utilizing the elite quarterback-wide receiver combination strategy is always something to consider on draft day. Whether it's Rodgers and Jennings, Brees and Marques Colston or Brady and Moss, it's always nice to double up on their fantasy points. You can't really plan on it happening, though. If you take Brady in Round 2, for example, there's no guarantee that Moss will be on the board the next time you're on the clock. I also wouldn't bypass a more valuable player just to satisfy the strategy. So, at the end of the day, chances are you're still going to be drafting the best player available. If that turns into landing a talented quarterback-wide receiver duo like Brady and Moss in the earlier rounds, so be it.
M.F.: I'd have to agree with you on the new NFL.com game, and you can actually start your draft now! You can also join a mock draft to practice your skills before the actual draft occurs. In terms of Olsen, I'm not a fan of him from a fantasy perspective this season based on Martz's presence. No tight end has ever posted even 40 receptions in a Martz offense, and there are no guarantees that Olsen will buck that trend. Even Vernon Davis, who led all tight ends in fantasy points last season, was waiver-wire fodder while playing under Martz. I also don't see him being traded. Olsen has told the Chicago Sun-Times that he never asked to be dealt and feels confident that he'll "continue to have a big role in our offense like I have had the last couple of years." Based on past Martz's teams, I don't agree with that assessment.
I'm in a very competitive 14-man PPR league that allows one keeper. I'm taking your advice from a while ago and keeping Michael Turner, but I also have the first pick in the re-draft and was wondering who I should choose. The best players available will probably be Rodgers, Ray Rice, Frank Gore, Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson. Rice makes sense because it's PPR, but Gore has a much better FPA rating. It's also hard to pass on Rodgers or an elite wideout. Can you help me? - D. Young, Virginia
M.F.: As much as I like Rodgers and Gore, it would be hard for me to pass on a running back the caliber of Rice, especially in a PPR league. He's coming off a huge season, posting 78 receptions and 2,041 scrimmage yards. Rice is also motivated to prove that those numbers were no fluke. In fact, he told the Ravens official website that one of his personal goals for 2010 is to "do more than I did last year as far as total yards." Coach John Harbaugh has also praised Rice for his offseason work ethic, so he's clearly not satisfied with his recent success. A backfield of Rice and Turner is pretty solid to build around, so be sure to target a quarterback and multiple wide receivers in the first three rounds of the re-draft.
Miles Austin went undrafted in our league last season, and I lost out on getting him off the waiver wire. It was my biggest mistake of the year! Now I'm keeping an eye on Early Doucet and Steve Breaston in Arizona, feeling like another "Austin-esque" scenario might emerge. Which of these receivers do you expect to emerge for the Cardinals? - J. Law, Collinsville, Va.
M.F.: I'm not sure that either of these two wideouts will make as enormous an impact as Austin, who even outscored Larry Fitzgerald last season. Right now I have Breaston ranked as the better fantasy option. He's the favorite to start with Boldin out of the mix and worth a middle-round pick. With that said, I wouldn't look past Doucet in the late rounds. He's trimmed down to 205 pounds during the offseason and could push Breaston for a starting role -- that's a camp battle to monitor. At worst, Doucet will be utilized in the slot and see added targets in the pass attack. The downside with Breaston and Doucet, of course, is that Kurt Warner is no longer with the team. Matt Leinart has much to prove as a starter at the NFL level, and the Cardinals should lean on the run more often with Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells in the backfield.
I'm in a 12-team league that requires two starting quarterbacks each week, so getting two good ones is a priority. In fact, my early draft strategy is to use my first two picks on the position. Assuming everyone takes a signal-caller in the first round, however, would it be smart to take someone like Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson if they fall into Round 2? How important would it be to have two quality quarterbacks? - S. Langford, Australia
M.F.: I play in one of these leagues, and it's amazing how quickly quarterbacks come off the board. You have to take at least one in the first two rounds, and the flow of the draft usually dictates taking another quarterback shortly thereafter. I actually made it to the championship with a duo of Philip Rivers and Kyle Orton, but I lost to a team that had Rodgers and Favre. That turned out to be one heck of a pair! During a draft where I need to start two field generals, I follow the flow and make decisions on a round-by-round basis. If signal-callers are going fast and furious, which is likely, I try not to get left on the outside looking in. However, that doesn't mean I'll reach for someone either. But if so many quarterbacks are drafted that Johnson or Peterson is still on the board in Round 2, well, it would be pretty tough to pass on them.
How do you rate my roster in an standard NFL.com league, and how can I improve it? We start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense. Here is my team: Gore (Round 1), Calvin Johnson (Round 2), Romo (Round 3), Steve Smith (CAR, Round 4), Forte (Round 5), Felix Jones (Round 6), Pierre Garcon (Round 7), Marion Barber (Round 8), Clinton Portis (Round 9), Ben Tate (Round 10), Santonio Holmes (Round 11), Ben Roethlisberger (Round 12), Zach Miller (Round 13), Giants defense (Round 14) and Bernard Berrian (Round 15). - D. Hagemeier, Germany
M.F.: On paper, this looks like a good team. Romo is a solid quarterback, though you'll need to add one off the waiver wire in Week 4. The Cowboys are on a bye, and Roethlisberger won't be back until at least Week 6 due to a league-imposed suspension. I'm a huge fan of Gore this season, and you should get some production from Forte, Jones and Barber by playing the matchups each week. Portis adds further depth, and Tate is also a nice potential sleeper. Your top two wideouts are solid, and Garcon is a viable No. 3 option until Holmes returns from suspension. I like Miller as a potential sleeper for the Raiders, though I would have gone after a tight end earlier than Round 13. To improve your team before the start of the regular season, you might want to package Portis and either Garcon or Holmes to acquire a more reliable third wideout.