I have a few hypothetical fantasy questions for you. First, what kind of value will Sam Bradford have if he is taken by the Rams in April's Draft? Second, how would Donovan McNabb's value change if he's traded to Oakland? Finally, how would McNabb's presence affect the rest of the Raiders? - L. Crohn, Seaside Heights, N.J.
Michael Fabiano: I think Bradford would start right away if he ends up with the Rams, but I don't see him having a lot of fantasy value in seasonal formats. Outside of deeper leagues or those that require owners to start two quarterbacks, Bradford won't even be worth a serious look in drafts. As for McNabb, his stock would slide a bit with the Raiders because he'll have a decrease in the talent around him, not to mention a less-effective offensive line in front of him. With that said, I do think his presence under center would create a rise in the value of Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Chaz Schilens, Zach Miller and even Sebastian Janikowski.
I've run a fantasy league with a standard scoring system for almost 10 years, but I'm interested in changing things for 2010. I plan to switch to a PPR league and allow owners to keep two players at different positions. What other changes do you think would make this year's experience better for us? - C. Still
M.F.: I like the PPR and keeper changes, and I'd also reward players for all return yards and touchdowns rather than defense and special team units. If Reggie Bush returns a punt 75 yards for a touchdown, for example, he (not the Saints DST) should receive nine fantasy points (one point for every 25 return yards, six points for the touchdown). This sort of scoring alteration rewards players for all of their skills and abilities and makes the whole fantasy football experience more fun. If you want to go even deeper, you can reward .05 points for every passing yard and .10 point for every rushing or receiving yard. In that scenario, a running back that rushes for 69 yards in a game would receive 6.9 fantasy points, not just six.
I can keep as many as eight players, and I'm planning to retain Frank Gore, Ryan Grant, Michael Turner, Greg Jennings, Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith (Giants) and Vernon Davis. However, I'm not sure if my eighth and final keeper should be Jay Cutler or McFadden. The presence of Mike Martz makes Cutler more attractive, but McFadden might finally get his carries this season. Thoughts? - T. Mathys, Scotland
M.F.: You already have three strong running backs in Gore, Grant and Turner, so I don't see the need to retain McFadden. Instead, I would keep Cutler. I realize the Bears don't have any big names at the wide receiver position, but I would still be shocked if Cutler didn't throw for 4,000-plus yards with 25-30 total touchdowns in Martz's offense. If he can cut down on his turnovers, which was a huge problem last season, Cutler should re-emerge as a top-10 fantasy quarterback.
M.F.: The Niners need an offensive lineman and help in their defensive backfield much more than a running back, but stranger things have happened in the NFL Draft. If the team did take Spiller, which I think is very unlikely, it would obviously make Gore less valuable on draft day. He's always been the type of back that needs his carries to get in a groove, and adding someone like Spiller would be a hindrance to his statistical potential. Gore isn't a fan of the idea, either, telling the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat that he "can play first, second and third down." If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that Gore will remain the 49ers' featured back in 2010.
I see that you're projecting Matt Ryan to have a very good season. What makes you feel that way? Also, where do you project him to be taken in most drafts (ADP)? - K. Filoon, Quakertown, Pa.
M.F.:Ryan is currently ranked 14th among quarterbacks on my board, so I see him as a high-end No. 2 fantasy quarterback with the skills to develop into a weekly starter in some formats. Despite missing two games last season, he still scored 23 total touchdowns. Barring injuries, I think he'll improve on that total and produce a career best in passing yards in 2010. Ryan is an intelligent player and a true student of the game, so I'd be surprised if he didn't continue to develop both on the field and in the stat sheets. I see him coming off the board in the neighborhood of Round 8 or 9 in a standard 12-team league.
I'm interested to know why you have Jerricho Cotchery ranked ahead of Braylon Edwards at wide receiver. Cotchery has never really had a great season, while Edwards was one of the league's elite wideouts a few seasons ago. What gives? - P. Silva, Ithaca, N.Y.
M.F.: Honestly, I can't see anyone ranking Edwards ahead of Cotchery. Outside of his breakout 2007 season with the Browns, Edwards has been a very ordinary fantasy wideout. In fact, Cotchery has outscored him on NFL.com in each of the last two seasons. He's also a more reliable option in the passing game, as Edwards has had a long and well-documented case of the "dropsies." Simply put, Cotchery has a better track record for fantasy success since 2008 and is a lot easier to trust.
I'm in a 14-team keeper league that uses a standard scoring system and allows up to two keepers. However, your first- and second-round picks must be forfeited to retain players. Here's my question. Which of the following three running backs would you release: Shonn Greene, Steven Jackson or Rashard Mendenhall? - N. Navas, Sacramento, Calif.
M.F.: This might not be the popular path to take in this scenario, but I'm dropping Jackson. Greene and Mendenhall are two of the best young running backs in the league, and the talent around them far exceeds what Jackson has to work with in St. Louis. If the Rams make some improvements to the quarterback and offensive line positions, maybe I'll feel a little better about his prospects for 2010. But as it stands, Greene and Mendenhall just have too much upside to release for a back like Jackson, who has talent but some red flags as well.
I've been reading a lot of positive things about Ryan Mathews from Fresno State. Where do you think he will land in April's Draft? I think he could actually be the first player taken in our upcoming fantasy rookie draft. Thoughts? - A. Davidson
M.F.: The Texans (No. 20 overall pick) and Chargers (No. 28th overall pick) appear to be the likely landing places for Mathews. As a fantasy owner, I'd much prefer that he went to San Diego. With LaDainian Tomlinson out of the mix, I can see Mathews taking over the top spot on the depth chart immediately and becoming a No. 2 fantasy back. If that scenario comes to fruition, Mathews could well be the most coveted rookie in 2010 fantasy drafts. If he lands in Houston, though, Mathews might end up in a committee that includes both Steve Slaton and Arian Foster. That would obviously make him somewhat less attractive, but still one of the top rookie options on draft day.
M.F.: I wouldn't argue with that point of view, as the unproven Albert Young isn't likely to steal many touches from Peterson. The superstar runner showed that he can be a viable receiver out of the backfield last season, posting career bests in receptions (43) and receiving yards (436) even with Chester Taylor on the roster. If he were allowed a chance to see additional opportunities on third downs and in passing situations, Peterson would be a threat to record 2,000 yards from scrimmage and best Johnson's statistical output in 2010.
M.F.: In a standard fantasy league, it's hard to project a great amount of success for any of the Buccaneers wideouts. I'm not sold on Michael Clayton even making the roster, and I'm not expecting big things from Maurice Stovall, Reggie Brown or Sammie Stroughter next season. Stovall might be the most attractive option, but his value is limited to larger leagues. Without a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver in the passing game, look for Kellen Winslow to see a ton of targets from Josh Freeman next season.