Megatron still a must-start despite recent struggles

I need to start two running backs from Ahmad Bradshaw, Adrian Peterson and Beanie Wells. Help! -- @islandboyKY (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano:Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said at his Monday press conference that he expects Peterson (ankle) to be back in action this week against the Saints, so he should be in your starting lineup barring setbacks. The second running back to start is Wells, who faces a great matchup against the Browns. Their defense ranks 31st against the run and has allowed 10 total touchdowns to opposing running backs. That makes Wells a better option than Bradshaw, who is still losing touches to Brandon Jacobs in what looks more like a backfield committee for the Giants.

What has happened to Calvin Johnson? Also, should I start Cam Newton over Aaron Rodgers? I'm worried about Rodgers being pulled out late in a blowout. -- D. Pingitore (via Facebook)

M.F.: If you watch the tape, it's pretty obvious that defenses are rolling coverage to limit Johnson. That has forced Matthew Stafford to look at his other receivers, which is the reason we've seen more from Nate Burleson, Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew. With that said, there's no way I'm benching Megatron against the Raiders -- their defense has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to wideouts. At quarterback, I can't tell you in good faith to start Newton over Rodgers. Yes, the chance that he is rested late in what could be a blowout over the Chiefs is possible. But you'd hate to have the best player in fantasy football on the sidelines while he puts up 20-plus fantasy points against an inferior opponent. I also don't love Newton's matchup -- he faces a Texans defense that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.

I have Eli Manning and Stafford and need to start one this week. Semifinals on the line! -- @GraemeGilbert (via Twitter)

M.F.: How does flipping a coin to make this decision sound? I'm joking. In all seriousness, I don't think you can go wrong with either quarterback. Stafford has a better matchup, however, as he faces a Raiders defense that has allowed 23 touchdown passes and the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers. What's more, the last four quarterbacks to face Oakland have averaged a ridiculous 22.13 fantasy points.

I've lost Greg Jennings for the season, so now I need to start Willis McGahee at a flex spot. Do you like his matchup against the Patriots? -- Y. Levi (via Facebook)

M.F.: McGahee has been one of the better draft bargains in fantasy football this season, ranking 21st in points among running backs. And while the Patriots are a respectable 13th in the league against the run, their defense is still dead last overall. With that said, I'd have no problem starting him in place of Jennings at the flex position. In fact, you should consider yourself lucky to have enough wide receiver depth that you can replace him with a running back at a flex spot. For owners looking for wideout help, I'd go hard after McGahee's teammate, Demaryius Thomas, on the waiver wire. He's found the end zone three times in the last two weeks, and this week's matchup against New England couldn't be more favorable -- their defense has surrendered more fantasy points to wide receivers than any other team in the league.

Any word on Ben Roethlisberger? What should I do with him? -- @thefalcon2121 (via Twitter)

M.F.:Steelers coach Mike Tomlin considers Roethlisberger (ankle) questionable to face the 49ers this week, and that makes him a huge risk in fantasy circles. Because Pittsburgh doesn't play until Monday night, you could be stuck without a quarterback if you wait on Big Ben, and he ends up inactive. Sure, he's a warrior who has played through a multitude of injuries in his career. But unless I hear definitive word that he's going to start (and I have Roethlisberger in five leagues), I just can't risk starting him during the fantasy semifinals. If you need a quarterback, Carson Palmer, Matt Moore, Jake Locker, and Andy Dalton have nice matchups.

I'm in a tough spot this week with Rashard Mendenhall and Marion Barber at running back. I can also go after Felix Jones and Ryan Grant off the waiver wire. Which two should I start? Also, would you start Philip Rivers or Tim Tebow? -- B. LeFort (via Facebook)

M.F.: If you can land Jones off the waiver wire, I'd start him over Mendenhall. In fact, Grant could be a nice option as well if James Starks missed another contest. Both Jones (at Buccaneers) and Grant (at Chiefs) have great matchups, while Mendenhall faces a Niners defense that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown. If you can bench him, it's a smart move. At quarterback, I'd go with Tebow over Rivers. The Broncos signal-caller has a great matchup against the Patriots, who have the worst-rated defense in the entire league. On the flip side, Rivers faces a Ravens defense that's allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing signal-callers.

Is Darren McFadden coming back, or is this foot injury going to keep him out for the remainder of the season? -- @TheKid_DRad (via Twitter)

M.F.:Raiders coach Hue Jackson told the Contra Costa Times that while McFadden doesn't need surgery on his Lisfranc ailment, he has no idea when the star running back will be cleared to return. Jackson was confident that McFadden would return this season, however. Obviously, it doesn't look good for McFadden to return this week to face the Lions -- but I wouldn't drop him if you've held onto him this long. You'd hate to release him, only to see McFadden return in time for fantasy championship week to face a spectacular matchup against the Chiefs in Week 16.

I need to start three wide receivers from Plaxico Burress, Santana Moss, Jordy Nelson or Demaryius Thomas. Who gives me the best chance to win? -- S. Ponkler (via Facebook)

M.F.: The wideout to bench is Burress, who has scored double-digit fantasy points just once in his last five games and has a tough matchup up next on the road against the Eagles. Nelson is a must-start option against the Chiefs, Moss has a tremendous matchup against the Giants and Thomas has been on fire in recent weeks with two touchdowns in his last two games. He also has a great matchup against the Patriots.

What the heck happened to Jermichael Finley last week? Should I start him against the Chiefs? -- @MRroberto25 (via Twitter)

M.F.: Finley actually should have scored a touchdown last week against the Raiders, but the ball deflected off his hands and was picked off instead. Regardless, I would stick with him this week in what is a great matchup in Kansas City. Not only will be see more targets in the absence of the injured Jennings, but the Chiefs have had a tough time against tight ends. In fact, their defense has allowed seven touchdown catches to the position -- that's tied for the third-most in the entire league.

Is it time to start Antonio Brown over Mike Wallace? It seems like he scores more points each week, despite being ranked behind Wallace. Brown is also more valuable in our league, since we reward points for return yards and touchdowns. Thoughts? -- J. Law (via Facebook)

M.F.: Instead of starting one over the other, can you start both in the fantasy postseason? I have the same situation in a league where I have Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, and I start them both each week. If that's not an option and Brown has scored more fantasy points because of your league's scoring system, then putting Wallace on the pine makes sense. I'm not sure it's something I would do, as Wallace is still a bigger threat in the Steelers offense. But again, starting them both is a definite option.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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