Michael Fabiano: To be honest, I don't think you can make an educated decision on this keeper conundrum right now. Jackson would be the best choice at it stands, but there is a lot that can happen during the offseason that could alter that point of view. If the Jets decide to release Thomas Jones or use him in a decreased role, I think Greene becomes a solid keeper. The potential release (or retirement) of Brian Westbrook would make McCoy more valuable moving forward as well. Stewart might be the most talented of the backs you've listed, but DeAngelo Williams still has one season left on his current deal with the Panthers. While he was spectacular at the end of the season, I still don't think Stewart will pass Williams on the depth chart in 2010. Out of those scenarios, I could see the one involving Greene being the most legitimate.
Hey Mike, I need to keep four players from Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Marques Colston and Miles Austin. Our league is non-PPR, fields 10 teams and starts two quarterbacks, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense. I'm thinking of keeping Big Ben, Ryan, Jackson and Gore. What do you think? -- P. Byrne, St. Louis, Mo.
M.F.: I agree with your train of thought on this situation. Quarterbacks are hugely valuable in fantasy football these days, especially when you're required to start two each week. I also think Ryan is going to have his best season as a pro in 2010, and it's hard to argue against keeping Roethlisberger as the leader of the Steelers' improved pass attack. Jackson and Gore are both solid options and give you two first rounders in the backfield. Of course, you'll need to target wide receivers in two of the first three rounds of the re-draft. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if you were able to re-acquire either Colston or Austin, depending on your draft position.
Hello Mike, you've given some awesome analysis and advice this year! I've read your keeper articles as well, but I still have a dilemma. I'm in a 10-team league that starts one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one flex (RB/WR), one tight end, one kicker and one defense. My options are Matt Schaub, Ronnie Brown, Arian Foster, Jonathan Stewart, Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Gates. I would like to keep Schaub, Brown, Stewart, Turner and Williams. Since I can't use a fourth running back, though, I'm thinking about trading one of them for either Brandon Marshall or Roddy White. Any advice? -- G. Vue, Minnesota
M.F.: I think it always makes sense to look for a trade, and the fact that you have such depth at running back means you could pull off a deal for an upgrade at another position. Here's an example. Say another team in your league lacks good backs but has wideout depth. You could put together a package deal of Brown and Ochocinco to acquire a better receiver like White. Since you can't keep all of these players, sweeten a potential deal with depth. If you can't make a trade, I would keep Schaub, Stewart, Turner, Williams and Gates. I was high on Brown heading into last season, but it's hard to trust him now. After all, he's had two of his last three seasons cut short due to injuries. It was also pretty evident that Ricky Williams still has something left in the tank and should continue to cut into Brown's carries in 2010.
Do you think Aaron Rodgers is worth the No. 1 overall pick? What about a top-three pick? My league might include keepers next season, and Rodgers has been a top scorer in each of the last two seasons. I also feel there are a lot of good running backs still on the board in Rounds 2-4. Thoughts? -- K. Filoon, Philadelphia, Pa.
M.F.: Personally I wouldn't take him ahead of Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew or Ray Rice, but I still wouldn't argue with someone who took Rodgers with the top pick. He's been an absolute star over the past two seasons, averaging 301 points on NFL.com (four points for passing touchdowns). As I showed in my one-man, three-round mock draft, backs will continue to be prominent in the first round. But with the NFL becoming more of a passing league, it's even more important to land a solid quarterback. Sure, there are a lot of good options at the position. But haven't we come to the point where it makes more sense to take an elite quarterback like Rodgers, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning ahead of a runner with risk like Steven Jackson or DeAngelo Williams? In the current NFL, you have a better chance at getting burned by a running back than a quarterback in the earlier rounds.
Hi Michael, I need to keep two of three players from Jamaal Charles, Frank Gore and Rashard Mendenhall in our PPR franchise league. We give players three- or five-year contracts after the draft, as well as two one-year rental contracts at the end of the season. The two players I retain will likely get the long-term deals. Thanks! -- J. Hill, Salisbury, Md.
M.F.: Gore is without question the best option of this trio. Despite missing two games due to injuries, he still finished last season sixth in fantasy points among running backs. Based on the fact that you're in a PPR league, I'd hold Charles and release Mendenhall back into the pool of available players. He was a fantasy hero in the season half of last season and has earned the right to hold the top spot on the Chiefs depth chart heading to 2010. Charles should also benefit from the addition of Charlie Weis as the new offensive coordinator in Kansas City. While I do like Mendenhall, I think Charles has a higher statistical ceiling from a fantasy perspective.
M.F.: I think Henne has the most potential in long-term fantasy football leagues. He showed some real flashes of potential after Chad Pennington went down for the season, and he'll do nothing but improve with time and experience. It would be nice to see the Dolphins pick up a playmaking wide receiver in the pass attack to help Henne's development. Who knows, maybe the team will go after Anquan Boldin if the Cardinals are open to dealing him during the offseason. I'm not sure I'd deal Williams to acquire Henne, though, unless you're desperate for a quarterback and have enough wide receiver depth to cover the loss. Overall, Williams still has more value for fantasy owners.
Thanks for all the advice this year! I'm in a 10-team league and can retain up to four players, but I lose the round of the players I decide to retain. My options are Wes Welker (Round 1), Adrian Peterson (Round 2), Marques Colston (Round 3), Joseph Addai (Round 4), Anquan Boldin (Round 5), Sidney Rice (Round 10), Percy Harvin (Round 10), Rashard Mendenhall (Round 11), Chris Johnson (Round 12), Mike Sims-Walker (Round 14) and Michael Crabtree (Round 17). Peterson and Johnson are locks, but what next? -- T. Saunders, Canada
M.F.: Glad to help! Peterson and Johnson are the best of the lot. In fact, keeping C.J. for a 12th-round pick is highway robbery! Rice looks like a great value for a 10th-rounder, but what happens to his stock if Brett Favre decides to retire? I think it falls, but for now he'd be your third keeper. The final player to retain is Mendenhall. You'd rather not keep three running backs in a 10-team league, but I can't see keeping Welker or Colston for the rounds you'd lose. Harvin, Sims-Walker and Crabtree are also nice values, but I'd rather hold that third back as a flex option (if applicable). At worst, you could always put Mendenhall on the trade block before the season and look to acquire a quarterback or wide receiver.
M.F.: As it stands, the two players I would release are Harrison and McCoy. That means keeping Rivers, Charles, Forte, Greene, Austin and Moss. Sure, the Browns running back was a fantasy superstar down the stretch in 2009. But it's hard for me to trust him in this case, especially when you consider that he'll face one of the tougher schedules based on fantasy points allowed (FPA) numbers. Harrison is also no lock to be a true featured back. I'd also cut ties with McCoy, who showed flashes of potential as a rookie but wasn't good enough to be featured in the absence of Brian Westbrook. In fact, fullback Leonard Weaver was a better fantasy option than McCoy at times this past season. The players with the best trade value are Rivers, Charles, Greene, Austin and Moss. Forte's stock is too low to trade him at this point in time.
Who do you think should be the first tight end picked in 2010 drafts? Also, what tight ends would you consider in a PPR keeper league if you're allowed to retain five players? Thanks! -- E. Pike, Savannah, Ga.
M.F.: The cream of the tight end crop are Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis (after his breakout season). I see Clark, who caught 100 passes in 2009, as the No. 1 pick at his position in 2010. The rest of the best include Jason Witten, Brent Celek and Tony Gonzalez. I've never been too keen on keeping a tight end, though, so you'd have to be allowed four or more players to consider such a move. In your case, where you can retain five players, I think Clark and Gates are well worth keeping.
M.F.: The simple answer is yes. Charles, Jackson and Marshall have their share of keeper value, but you're talking about the top fantasy quarterback and running back from the 2009 season. There's no way you don't keep these two superstars. Rodgers and Johnson are a great pair to build the remainder of your team around for 2010.