Miller, Carlson have sleeper appeal among fantasy tight ends

I'm in a competitive IDP league with a 25-round draft, and I hate wasting an early-round pick on a tight end. Based on your advice, I was able to get Vernon Davis and Brent Celek in the 22nd and 25th rounds last season. As a result, I landed a ton of studs on offense, some solid defenders and still had the best tight end duo in the league! Do you have any tight end "super sleepers" for 2010? - A. Richard, Canada

Michael Fabiano: It's going to be difficult to find two tight ends like Davis and Celek in the late rounds in consecutive seasons, but there are some good late-round options to consider in drafts. Owen Daniels could be undervalued since he's coming off an ACL reconstruction. Before he was injured, remember, Daniels was the top tight end in fantasy football. I also like Zach Miller, who should benefit from the presence of Jason Campbell. I see him as a low-end fantasy starter with upside. John Carlson is also a name to keep in mind. He has a proven nose for the end zone, and the addition of Chris Baker should free him up to see more time as a route runner and less time as a pass blocker. Coach Pete Carroll's offenses also utilized the tight end in his earlier tenures in the league, so Carlson has a ton of sleeper potential heading into the season.

I was just wondering about the Browns backfield. I'm seriously considering targeting Jerome Harrison or Montario Hardesty as a flex starter, but I'm just not sure which one has more upside. Harrison showed some flashes of brilliance in 2009, but Hardesty looks like he's got a lot of talent. He also seems to be built like an every-down back more then Harrison. I'd really like your thoughts! - J. Partridge, Canada

M.F.: I would go with Hardesty over Harrison. While he did have a successful three-game stretch at the end of last season, much of Harrison's success came against the Chiefs and Raiders. Not exactly the cream of the crop in terms of run defenses. He also averaged a ridiculous 35 carries in his final three games. That's not going to happen in 2010. If the Browns thought Harrison could handle a full workload out of the backfield, the organization didn't show it during the offseason. Not only did it acquire Peyton Hillis in the Brady Quinn deal, but it also drafted Hardesty. And you're right -- the rookie has the build of a featured back. He has more upside, and more draft appeal.

I've been following you on Twitter and enjoy your banter on all things fantasy football (and the New York Yankees)! Anyways, I keep seeing updates for NFL.com's new fantasy game. When will this be available online? Will NFL.com also offer mock drafts? - P. Zachary, Savannah, Ga.

M.F.: The [new NFL fantasy game](http://app.edialog.nfl.com/sweeps/fantasy/signup.cfm?icampaign=fantasy teaserv2TR) will be available for sign ups and league creation starting in June. And yes, we will also offer mock drafts. Our leagues are 100 percent FREE to join and include all the features you need -- rules and scoring system customization, easy setup, enhanced live scoring and all the expert advice to help you win a championship. But what makes the NFL fantasy game better than any other platform on the Web is our in-game video highlights. Say you have Chris Johnson on your fantasy team, and he rips off a 75-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. You'll be able to see the highlights within the game! No one else can offer such a feature. I can promise you this -- NFL.com's new game will enhance your fantasy football experience!

First off, I'm looking forward to the new NFL.com Fantasy Game! Anyways, my new hobby is projecting fantasy football players, and the vast majority of your rankings come close to mine. I do think that Frank Gore is going to be the second-best running back, though, and I project Michael Turner a little lower (especially in a PPR league). What are your thoughts? Keep up the intelligent work and may your touchdowns be many! - J. Redmon, Orlando, Fla.

M.F.: The new NFL fantasy game is going to be incredible. Be sure to check it out! I have Gore ranked sixth among running backs in standard leagues, but he'd move ahead of Turner in PPR formats due to his skills as a receiver out of the backfield. I also agree that Gore has a chance to put up huge numbers with the help of a schedule that includes games against the Rams (2), Seahawks (2), Saints, Panthers, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers and Raiders. None of those teams finished better than 15th in terms of allowing the most fantasy points to running backs last season. As for Turner, he's back in great shape and should rebound from a disappointing 2009 campaign. His lone downfall is that he doesn't catch the ball, so I would agree that he loses some luster in leagues that reward points for receptions. Despite his lack of skills as a receiver, though, Turner was still a first-round pick in our recent PPR mock draft.

Would you prefer a running back like Ronnie Brown who is proven but coming off an injury, or someone like Jahvid Best who is unproven but has great potential? - L. Karr, Champaign, Ill.

M.F.: Typically, I am all about players with upside. You'll see that in my rankings, as I have a lot of younger players (Rashard Mendenhall, Jamaal Charles, Shonn Greene) ranked ahead of some veterans (DeAngelo Williams, Ryan Grant, Joseph Addai) at the running back positions. But in this case, I will stick with the older player over the rookie. Barring a setback in his return from an injured foot, Brown will once again top the Dolphins' depth chart in 2010. Sure, there is some risk involved due to his proneness to injuries. But Best wasn't exactly durable in his final collegiate season, either. And as much as I like the rookie, Brown also has added motivation since he's in a contract year. Again, I go for upside in most situations. But I'll side with Brown in this case.

I see that you have Eddie Royal ranked the highest of all the Broncos wideouts, but what about Demaryius Thomas? I also think Jabar Gaffney has some sleeper potential in the offense. He knows the system pretty well playing under Josh McDaniels for several seasons. - L. Cardon, Cleveland, Ohio

M.F.: If I had to make a prediction on the Broncos depth chart at wide receiver, I would project Thomas and Gaffney as the starters with Royal in the slot. In fact, Royal has spent most of his time working in the slot during the offseason. That's good news in terms of his fantasy appeal, as Royal could see a "Wes Welker role" and a major increase in targets. Where the Virginia Tech product becomes a bit of a risk is that McDaniels wants to use a receiver-by-committee approach that also includes Brandon Stokley and rookie Eric Decker. That scenario makes Royal more of a middle-round pick with added value in PPR formats. Thomas and Gaffney are also very draftable, with the rookie being worth a middle-round pick. I agree that Gaffney could be a low-end sleeper in the offense, but I see him as more of a late-round flier in leagues with 12-plus teams.

I'll start off with a non-fantasy question. What do you think of New York/New Jersey being rewarded the 2014 Super Bowl? As a New Yorker, I like it because it will help the economy, otherwise I think it's nuts. Who wants to sit in the freezing cold for four-plus hours, even to watch a Super Bowl? Anyways, here's my fantasy question. Which New York running back duo will have more fantasy value next season? - F. D'Onofrio, Queens, N.Y.

M.F.: I'm originally from Connecticut, but I've spent so much time in New York City (even lived there for a time) during my life that I consider myself a partial New Yorker. And I love the idea of a New York/New Jersey Super Bowl. Sure, it will be cold and it could even snow at that time of the year. But imagine the draw of a Super Bowl being played in the snow? Who wouldn't love to see that? It's not like cold-weather Super Bowls are going to become the norm -- most of them will still be played in warm-weather climates or in domes -- so I think switching it up a bit makes the game all the more interesting. I also see it as a great tribute to former Giants co-owner Wellington Mara, who did so much for the National Football League during his lifetime. I for one can't wait to see it. On to your fantasy question. I'll take the Jets' duo of Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson over Giants RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. That's mostly due to the upside of Greene, who I think has far more potential than any other running back in the Big Apple. Sure, Tomlinson will cap Greene's statistical upside a bit, but I still believe Greene has 1,000-yard potential and should score double-digit touchdowns in 2010.

I know that everyone is all over Felix Jones out of the Cowboys backfield for next season, but do you really think Marion Barber is done? I mean, he's still a young back and he doesn't have a lot of carries in his career. Are we underrating Barber? Where would you draft him? - W. Stevenson, Jacksonville, Fla.

M.F.: I don't think Barber is done, not by a long shot. He was in great shape at the Cowboys recent OTAs and isn't going to give up his starting role without a fight. While I do think that Jones will ultimately be the starter and see most of the backfield touches, Barber will no doubt still be used in a prominent fashion. That includes some of the short-yardage and goalline work. I see Jones coming off the board around the fourth round in most fantasy drafts, with Barber being more of a middle-round pick.

What kind of season do think Thomas Jones will have with the Chiefs? He was a stud for me last season. Do you think he can unseat Jamaal Charles and emerge as the team's No. 1 running back? - J. Tansey, Reading, Mass.

M.F.: Jones had been quite the fantasy superstar as a member of the Jets, finishing in the top five in points among running backs on NFL.com in each of the last two seasons. But with a move to the Chiefs and an imminent decrease in carries behind Charles, Jones is certain to see his production and value fall. Charles is younger, has far more upside and is certain to top the depth chart in Week 1. That makes Jones more of a low-end flex starter and handcuff for owners who take Charles on draft day.

I'm in a keeper league and plan to retain Chris Johnson for a first-round pick. However, I also have to decide between keeping three other players from Calvin Johnson (Round 2), Aaron Rodgers (Round 3), Brandon Marshall (Round 4), Rashard Mendenhall (Round 9) and Vernon Davis (Round 16). Thoughts? - P. Clippard, San Antonio, Texas

M.F.: I agree that Chris Johnson is obviously a no-brainer. I would also retain Rodgers, Mendenhall and Calvin Johnson. Rodgers is the top quarterback in fantasy football in my opinion, and I'm expecting Johnson to rebound and put up solid numbers in what should be a much-improved Lions offense. It's also hard to look past Mendenhall, who is an absolute steal for a ninth-round pick. Davis is also a great value, but I don't think he has more keeper value than Rodgers, Johnson or Mendenhall.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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