Hey Mike, thanks for all the advice! I'm in a 10-team league and can keep up to four players. I lose the round of the players I decide to retain. My options are Aaron Rodgers (Round 1), Steven Jackson (Round 2), Andre Johnson (Round 3), Calvin Johnson (Round 5), Matt Forte (Round 6) and Beanie Wells (Round 6). -- J. Katcher, Canada
Michael Fabiano: Rodgers has emerged into the top quarterback in fantasy football and is worth the first-round price tag. I would also retain Jackson, Johnson and Johnson ahead of Forte and Wells. It's hard to gauge Forte's true value since the Bears don't have an offensive coordinator, but chances are the team will lean on Jay Cutler and the pass ahead of the run in 2010. As for Wells, he's a talent runner with upside but is still in a committee with Tim Hightower. I don't think that will change in 2010, and I'd rather have Jackson at the running back position regardless. He's still just 26 years of age and has carried the ball 300-plus times just one time since 2007.
M.F.: Greene has been an absolute beast in the postseason, rushing for a combined 263 yards with two touchdowns in wins over the Bengals and Chargers. He's also seen more of the workload than Jones, who has 29 postseason carries to Greene's 44. With at least one more game on the slate, fantasy owners will continue to have a window into the future of one of the league's top sleepers for 2010. While a true featured role could be tough to attain next season (after all, Jones did finish fifth among running backs in fantasy points on NFL.com), Greene will no doubt see more opportunities in the Jets' run-based offense going forward. Of course, there's also a chance the Jets could cut ties with Jones before he's due his $2.8 million roster bonus in March. That sort of scenario would make Green's fantasy value skyrocket, even with Washington back in the mix.
M.F.: This decision is almost completely based on the status of Brett Favre. Sure, Rice has always been a talented wideout with potential at the NFL level. But if you don't think losing Favre to retirement would hurt his value in 2010, well, you're kidding yourself. If the Vikings are forced to go back to either Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels, the pass attack (and Rice's value) will suffer. But as it stands, you have to keep him ahead of Nicks. That doesn't mean things won't change during the offseason, when Favre might retire and unretire four times before the start of training camp! Ultimately, the final answer to this pressing keeper question is still to be determined.
Hi Michael! I'm in a 14-team, five-keeper league where the top 70 players will be unavailable in the 2010 re-draft. I traded my first- and second-round picks, so I need to make my keepers count. My quarterback is Matt Ryan, my top running backs are Matt Forte, Knowshon Moreno, Shonn Greene, Felix Jones and Jerome Harrison, and my best wide receivers are Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Hakeem Nicks and Mike Wallace. Which players should I retain? Thanks! -- D. Griffith, Tucson, Ariz.
M.F.: Since this is a larger league, it's going to be hard to find true featured backs in the re-draft. As a result, I think you have to retain Forte despite his 2009 failures. This could change, though, if the Jets release Jones and make Greene their top back. In that scenario, I think Greene would have a chance to become an absolute fantasy star. I'd also retain Moreno, who has a pile of upside and will have one of the easier schedules in 2010. At wide receiver, plan on keeping Johnson and Marshall. That could change if Marshall winds up with another team, but for now he still has value in keeper formats. The final player to retain is Ryan. Sure, he had a disappointing sophomore season. But Ryan still finished with close to 3,000 yards and 23 total touchdowns despite missing two games. I still see him as a No. 1 fantasy quarterback.
I'm in a PPR keeper league that rewards six points for all touchdowns and a five-point bonus for those players who put up 300/400 passing yards, 100/200 rushing yards and 100/150/200 receiving yards in a game. I need to keep up to three of the following five players: Philip Rivers, Ronnie Brown, Matt Forte, Frank Gore and Miles Austin, and I must keep at least one player. For each additional keeper, we give up a pick in the re-draft. Who should I retain? -- T. Grimm, Evanston, Ill.
M.F.: The three players to retain are Rivers, Gore and Austin. Rivers has established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy football, averaging a solid 262.5 fantasy points on NFL.com over the last two seasons. Gore did miss two games due to injuries in 2009, but he still finished in the top 10 in fantasy points at running back. Gore also has a favorable schedule in 2010.
Finally I like Austin, who will prove next season that his 2009 success was no fluke. It also doesn't hurt that his slate of games next season is very advantageous. In fact, he'll have the easiest schedule of any prominent fantasy wideout based on the fantasy points allowed numbers from this season.
I won this year's championship, so I'll have the last pick in our 16-team league that's just switched from seasonal to keeper. What's the best method in terms of keepers and deciding who to retain? I have Philip Rivers, Jamaal Charles, Jerome Harrison, Beanie Wells, Marques Colston, Larry Fitzgerald, Sidney Rice, Steve Smith (NYG) and Tony Gonzalez. I really don't know what to do! -- O. Poissant
M.F.: On the surface, your best keepers are Rivers, Charles and Fitzgerald. Since this is a 16-team league, finding good running backs in the re-draft could be hard. So depending on how many players you're allowed to retain, you might want to hold Wells too. I also like Smith ahead of Colston and Rice regardless of the format. The best method to making keeper decisions is considering a mix of fantasy value, age, positional depth and your league's scoring system. You want to try to avoid older players in certain cases, so someone like Matt Ryan is still a better keeper than Brett Favre, for example. Sure, Favre had a much better season from a fantasy perspective than the Falcons young quarterback. But he might have one more season left before he retires. On the flip side, Ryan has a ton of talent and still has his entire career ahead of him.
Hi Michael, I just finished playing in my first fantasy football league since about 1991. I missed the playoffs, as I imagine did most people who drafted Matt Forte and Brandon Jacobs! But it was still hugely enjoyable. We're now converting to a keeper league, and I can keep three players from Matt Schaub, Rashard Mendenhall, Beanie Wells, Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Sidney Rice and Vernon Davis. What do you think? Also, what is your favored method for allowing keepers? -- S. Layton
M.F.: Glad to see you back on the fantasy football bandwagon! Yes, leaning on Forte and Jacobs was extremely tough this season. To answer your question, the three players I would retain are Schaub, Mendenhall and Johnson. Schaub is coming off a career season and has more keeper value now than ever before in his NFL career. Mendenhall overcame a slow start to 2009 and took over the top spot on the depth chart in Pittsburgh, and there's no reason to think he won't remain the No. 1 back moving forward. Of course, Johnson is the best wide receiver in fantasy football and a solid keeper in all formats. With a strong quarterback on the roster, it makes sense to go after another running back and a wide receiver in the first two rounds of the re-draft. You might even be able to re-acquire someone like Jackson or Rice depending on your draft position.
I enjoy your commentary on fantasy football and I have a quick question for you. In our keeper league we retain four players and keep them forever. However, we can only keep two players per position. Last year I held onto Tom Brady, Steven Jackson, Marques Colston and Andre Johnson. This season I was able to add Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles in our draft. I plan to keep Rice and Johnson, but should I drop Brady, Jackson or Colston for Charles? -- B. Kendall, Canada
M.F.: Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in fantasy football, so it's hard to release him back into the pool of available players. Regardless of the talent that's around him, the Patriots quarterback has always put up very good (and sometimes great) numbers. I would also retain Rice, Charles and Johnson. I have to admit, the decision between Jackson and Charles is a tough one. But the Chiefs running back was a star in the second half of the season and has earned a featured role for coach Todd Haley. He's also just 23 years old, making him a great option in both keeper and dynasty leagues. I also love the fact that Charlie Weis will be calling the plays for the team in 2010.
I can retain three players plus a rookie in our keeper league. My best options are Matt Schaub, Kurt Warner, Rashard Mendenhall, Fred Jackson, Greg Jennings and DeSean Jackson. My rookie choices are LeSean McCoy and Shonn Greene. It's an eight-team league that starts two quarterbacks. I was thinking Schaub, Mendenhall and Jackson. What are your thoughts? Thanks for the help! I won my league for the first time this year! -- P. Elliott, San Diego, Calif.
M.F.: Congratulations on taking home your league's championship! It's always nice to have bragging right for the entire offseason. I agree that the three players to keep are Schaub, Mendenhall and DeSean Jackson. I mentioned the reasons to retain Schaub and Mendenhall in keeper leagues in an earlier question, and it's hard to release the playmaking Jackson after what was a solid 2009 season. He's a star in the making, both on the field and in the world of fantasy football. The decision on which rookie to keep is still up in the air, however. Right now I'd have to say it's McCoy, based on the assumption that Brian Westbrook will not be with the Eagles next season. But if the Jets decide to part ways with Thomas Jones after the season and Greene becomes the top running back on the depth chart, then I'd have to side with the Iowa product.
Hi Michael, do you have any really early sleeper picks for 2010? I know it's a long offseason and things can change, but I still wanted your thoughts on a few sleepers right now. Thanks! -- C. Jimson, Washington, D.C.
M.F.: Well, it's pretty easy to see that Shonn Greene has a ton of sleeper value for 2010. I also think Chad Henne, Felix Jones, Arian Foster, Jerome Harrison, Justin Forsett, Michael Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks, Devin Aromashodu, Jeremy Maclin, Malcolm Floyd and Kenny Britt will have added value. I would also keep an eye on Matt Moore in Carolina. I think he'll open training camp ahead of Jake Delhomme on the depth chart, and the Panthers have a favorable schedule based on fantasy points against numbers.