Jones-Drew's stock takes a hit with Garrard release

What does the release of David Garrard mean for the value of Maurice Jones-Drew? -- RoboRoooob (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: It doesn't help, that's for certain. Luke McCown, not rookie Blaine Gabbert, will be under center in the regular-season opener against the Titans. That's the same McCown who has made a total of seven starts in his seven-year NFL career. And until he can prove to be effective at the helm, defensive coordinators are going to stack the line of scrimmage in an effort to stop Jones-Drew. With that said, I still find it difficult to consider benching "Pocket Hercules" when he cost most fantasy owners a first- or second-round selection. I'd be inclined to start him moving forward, at least for a few weeks while the Jaguars offense has some time to become a more cohesive unit.

Which running back should I start in Week 1 between Ryan Grant and Tim Hightower? Also, should I start Josh Freeman or Eli Manning? -- L. Lawrence (via Facebook)

M.F.: I have little faith in Grant at this point, especially following a report in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that suggested he and James Starks will share the backfield duties in Week 1. As a result, I'd side with Hightower. He's coming off a great preseason, and faces a Giants defense that is absolutely riddled with injuries. At the quarterback spot, I'd start Freeman over Manning. Both quarterbacks have favorable matchups, but I don't like the fact that Manning's proneness to interceptions seems to have carried over into the preseason.

Which quarterback should I start in Week 1: Kevin Kolb or Ben Roethlisberger? Also, is Kenny Britt a good option? -- ph03n1x85 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I would side with Roethlisberger, despite what looks like a tough matchup on paper against the Ravens. He's actually had some success against the AFC North rival, however, averaging just under 250 passing yards with a combined four touchdowns in their last three games (including the playoffs). Also, keep in mind that Kolb's opponent, the Panthers, allowed an average of just 12.55 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks last season. Due to their weak run defense, Beanie Wells could be the top fantasy scorer in Arizona this weekend. I like Britt against the Jaguars, who allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wideouts in 2010. Consider him a borderline No. 2 or 3 option in most leagues.

What are your thoughts on Peyton Hillis this season? It seems you're not too high on him. -- C. Conner

M.F.: I was down on him when the Browns had Brandon Jackson and Montario Hardesty on the roster. But with Jackson done for the season and Hardesty still easing into his return from a knee injury, I'm a little more bullish on the bruising runner out of Arkansas. While I still have to wonder if a major workload will cause him to break down late -- much like he did last season -- it's hard to argue with his featured role in an offense that will run the football often. Now we just have to hope the Madden curse doesn't victimize him!

Who should be my flex starter in Week 1: Felix Jones, Wells, Mike Thomas or Wes Welker? -- J. Walthart (via Facebook)

M.F.: If this is a PPR league, I would start Welker against his former team, the Miami Dolphins. But if we're talking about a standard format, the matchups suggest Wells is the best option. As much as I like Jones overall, facing the Jets on the road is anything but a favorable contest. Wells looked great in the preseason, and there's no doubt about his status as the bell cow for coach Ken Whisenhunt -- even after the addition of Chester Taylor. Based on the matchup against the Panthers, who were plain dreadful against the run in 2010, Wells has a lot of appeal.

I have Peyton Manning on my fantasy team, so now I'm scrambling to find a replacement. Would you go with Kyle Orton or Rex Grossman? -- G. Honeycutt(via Facebook)

M.F.: I think Grossman is a viable replacement for Manning, but I like Orton a bit more in Week 1. The veteran out of Purdue faces a Raiders defense that allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2010 -- and that was with CB Nnamdi Asomugha -- so the matchup is clearly favorable. Orton, who is still a free agent in 66.8 percent of NFL.com leagues, is well worth a look off the waiver wire as a one-week option.

I drafted Daniel Thomas far before he busted in the preseason. Should I keep him or release him? -- shiznarz (via Twitter)

M.F.: I'd hold onto Thomas, because at some point in the season he's going to see an increase in carries. No, I don't have ESP or a crystal ball, but you can pretty much guarantee that Reggie Bush is going to miss time due to injuries. Since 2008, he's missed a total of 16 games due to a variety of ailments. What's more, Bush hasn't played a full 16 games since his rookie year. When you consider that he was rarely a featured back in New Orleans but still continued to get hurt, how long do you think he'll be able to hold up in a featured role?

Where can I find the NFL Network leagues? I followed them last season, but I can't seem to find them on the site now? -- C. Weddig

M.F.: You can find the NFL Network/Gameday Morning league, which includes Rich Eisen, Warren Sapp, Michael Irvin and Steve Mariucci (among others) here, while the NFL Network/Total Access league featuring Jamie Dukes, Jim Mora, Torry Holt and Willie McGinest (among others), is here. Both leagues have 12 teams total with standard scoring and rules. We'll have highlights and a whole lot of trash talk from both leagues throughout the season, so be sure to check back to NFL.com often. I go up against Coach Mooch this week -- who will win, a former NFL coach or the fantasy "expert"? It should be fun.

Is LeSean McCoy the real deal or a decoy? -- CorruptCanuck(via Twitter)

M.F.: I see no reason McCoy shouldn't continue to put up terrific totals for the Eagles and fantasy owners in 2011. A perfect fit for the offense of coach Andy Reid, the Pittsburgh product will be in a great position to at least duplicate the yardage and touchdown numbers he recorded last season. He's a must start against the Rams, who allowed an average of close to 17 fantasy points per game to running backs in 2010.

I'm playing the matchups this week to select a defense. Which team should I choose between the 49ers, Browns and Cardinals? -- ROGER_FREE (via Twitter)

M.F.: It's tough not to love the Cardinals this week. Sure, the Panthers offense has Cam Newton -- not Jimmy Clausen -- at the helm of the offense this year, but despite his skills and upside, the Auburn product is still a rookie and will be prone to mistakes and turnovers. Also keep in mind that the Cardinals will be on their home field and fired up to make an impression on their fans after a wasted 2010 campaign. The 49ers and Browns are worthwhile options as well, but the Cards get the call.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com or tweet it at Michael_Fabiano!

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