If Adrian Peterson is ready for Week 1, where do you take him assuming there are no lingering effects from the knee injury? -- @bigdawggarrison (via Twitter)
Michael Fabiano: The second part of that question is the most important -- "assuming there are no lingering effects from the knee injury." In the research that I have done, running backs coming back from major knee reconstruction have almost always seen their production decrease in that first year. That's especially true for players who suffer a torn ACL late in the previous season, which is the exact scenario Peterson will face in 2012. Basically, I wouldn't draft him until the second or third round even if he is scheduled to come back in time for Week 1 -- and there is no guarantee that he can reach that goal.
Where is the best landing spot for Michael Bush? Would he be a top 10 running back in Arizona? -- L. Mayes (via Facebook)
M.F.: I doubt the Cardinals will spend the money on a running back when Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams and LaRod Stephens-Howling are already on the roster. Instead, their focus could be on signing Peyton Manning if he becomes available in the weeks to come. Regardless, the best fantasy destination for Bush is Cincinnati. He would be a true featured back with the expected departure of Cedric Benson, making Bush a potential second or third round selection in re-drafts. He could also be a nice fit for the Packers, who aren't expected to retain the services of Ryan Grant.
M.F.: From a fantasy perspective, I hope the Bolts re-sign him. Reports out of San Diego suggest the team is hesitant to franchise him, however, because such a move would cost around $13 million. On a team that has multiple needs, including on the offensive line, that's a lot of scratch to dedicate to one player. If Jackson does end up on the open market, the 49ers, Buccaneers and Rams would likely be his most aggressive suitors. I don't know about you, but none of those three teams excites me much when it comes to Jackson's fantasy potential. All three teams offer a downgrade at quarterback compared to Philip Rivers, which in turn could make Jackson a potential bust candidate based on where he would be selected in drafts.
M.F.: Wallace has stated his desire to remain with the Steelers, but he also knows that the NFL is a business. So when you consider the team's cap situation, well, Wallace is no lock to return to Pittsburgh. With that said, the one place he could land that would improve his fantasy appeal would be New England. Deion Branch is a free agent and Chad Ochocinco is over the hill, so the Patriots have a need at the position. I see Brandon Lloyd as a more likely fit, though, as he's thrived in the offense of Josh McDaniels. Remember, Lloyd was the top-scoring fantasy wideout in 2010 while McDaniels was the head coach in Denver. So if the Steelers can't afford Wallace and Lloyd ends up with the P-Men, that would leave the 49ers and Ravens as his top two potential suitors. Either way, he loses value compared to his current situation.
What are your thoughts on Tim Tebow for next season? Will he be a bust? -- @Dakotadc47 (via Twitter)
M.F.: If you watched our NFL Fantasy LIVE show last season, you know that I was a huge fantasy fan of Tebow. Sure, he did have some bad games -- but even the best fantasy quarterbacks have a few stinkers during the course of a season. If you project Tebow's fantasy points in his 11 starts over a full 16 games, he would have finished with more points than Philip Rivers, Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger in 2012. While I do worry that the Broncos will bring in a quarterback that causes a potential controversy if Tebow's winning ways are halted, I've learned not to doubt this kid's heart and his statistical potential. The depth at the quarterback spot keeps Tebow from being in the top eight, but he should be considered a viable starter in leagues with 10-plus teams.
M.F.: Here are the running backs I would take ahead of Johnson -- Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew. That's about it, at least right now. Ryan Mathews and Matt Forte could join that list at some point this offseason, but those runners come with some risk. Overall, Megatron will be the first wideout taken in most 2012 fantasy drafts (he was the No. 8 overall pick in my most recent mock draft). Coming off a career season that included 96 catches, 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns, Johnson's fantasy stock has never been higher. As long as Matthew Stafford can remain free of injuries once again, there's no reason to believe Megatron won't continue to post huge totals.
M.F.: The decision here should be based on your league's rules and scoring system. Do you lose the round of the player(s) you keep? Are there contractual restrictions (can you keep a player for a certain number of years or is it infinite?) If the league rewards six points for touchdown passes, then Brees is going to be more valuable. In fact, he was the highest-scoring player in fantasy leagues that utilized this format in 2012. But if this is a standard format or a standard plus PPR, then it would be tough to pass on Foster. He's just 25 years old and in the prime of his career -- Marshall Faulk also told me that Foster reminds him the most of himself out of all the running backs in the league right now. And with Faulk's past status as a fantasy superstar, well, that's a nice endorsement.
All the mock drafts I have seen have quarterbacks being drafted very early. If the position is so loaded, and you only need to start one per week, what do you think of the strategy of taking two running backs in the first two rounds? -- M. Wagner (via Facebook)
M.F.: This was my own personal strategy for years, and I don't necessarily think it's a bad one depending on your draft position. For example, say you have a top-three pick in Round 1 and land one of Foster, McCoy or Rice. In Round 2, you could go ahead and grab someone like Marshawn Lynch or Jamaal Charles if they're still on the board, followed by either a quarterback or wide receiver in Round 3. I'm not saying I would endorse this sort of philosophy, but it's not bad. I just think with all of the question marks at the running back position, it's not worth rolling the dice on someone like Forte or Mathews in Round 1 when you can grab a solid, reliable quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, Brees or Tom Brady. Clearly, we have entered a different era in the world of fantasy football.
M.F.: Based on the current state of the position, you're going to see Jahvid Best, Mikel Leshoure and Kevin Smith (assuming he is re-signed) all drafted in fantasy leagues. But none of them should be counted on to play prominent roles for a full 16 games. Best hasn't been able to avoid injuries, and his concussion issues from last season make him someone to beware of in 2012. Leshoure could turn into the sleeper of the trio, assuming he doesn't have any setbacks in his return from Achilles surgery. Both backs will come off the board somewhere in the middle rounds. If Smith remains in the Motor City, he's likely to open the season third on the depth chart. But with Best and Leshoure coming back from injuries, Smith might end up back in a prominent role again -- of course, that's with the expectation that he can stay out of the trainer's room as well.
M.F.: Anything can happen in the NFL, and paying a 30-year old running back who is due to make $5 million next season isn't an attractive scenario for the Falcons. Sure, Turner did finish a solid sixth in fantasy points among all runners in 2011. But look at his numbers down the stretch -- outside of a huge performance against an awful Buccaneers run defense, Turner averaged a very pedestrian 7.68 fantasy points over his final five games. Here's another disturbing stat: he averaged a mere 3.3 yards per carry in those contests. Clearly a potential bust candidate, Turner is someone you should release in favor of Murray.