I like to wait to draft a quarterback because of the depth at the position, but would you draft a tight end in the first five rounds, ahead of a signal-caller? -- M. Walters (via Facebook)
Michael Fabiano: Honestly, it all depends on the flow of the draft. In a recent industry league draft, I took Jermichael Finley in Round 5 and Ben Roethlisberger in Round 6. I jumped at Finley ahead of Big Ben because there were some good quarterbacks left on the board. However, I took a quarterback ahead of a tight end in the NFL.com Experts League. There were fewer attractive signal-callers in the earlier rounds in that draft, and each time I targeted a tight end he was taken a few spots ahead of me. As a result, I took a wait-and-see approach and landed Rob Gronkowski in Round 12. In the event that you can't land one of the big five (Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, Jason Witten, Finley, Vernon Davis), it makes sense to be patient and pause at the tight end spot until the middle to late stanzas.
M.F.: I'm going with Best, but it's close. Both runners have similar draft value as young, versatile running backs who can also catch the ball out of the backfield. But with the loss of Mikel Leshoure for the season, Best has a better chance to see a featured role in the Lions offense. Moreno will start and see far more touches than Willis McGahee, but he's also destined to lose short-yardage and goal-line work to his veteran teammate. Again, it's a close call. But based on opportunities, I would side with Best in standard and PPR formats.
Chris Johnson is currently being taken third or fourth overall in many fantasy drafts, but at what point should we be concerned about his holdout? -- A. DeAngelo (via Facebook)
M.F.: NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora has reported since June that Johnson wants to be paid like an elite playmaker, not an elite running back. Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt has said that he's ready to make CJ2K the league's highest-paid running back, but not until he reports to camp. Clearly, this situation is far from being resolved. I've already seen it affect his draft stock, as Johnson fell to the No. 7 overall pick in a recent 14-team SiriusXM experts league. The reason for the decline is twofold. First, there's a chance we could have an Emmitt Smith circa 1993 situation on our hands (he held out into the first two weeks of that season). Second, a number of past players (Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson and Darrelle Revis, to name a few) who have held out of camp end up getting injured. While I can see Johnson falling out of the top five picks due to concern over the holdout, I'd still be hard pressed not to take him if he fell to the middle of Round 1. In that case, however, it's imperative to take Javon Ringer late as insurance.
Which running backs will see the biggest increase in value in a PPR league this season? -- K. Glaysher (via Facebook)
M.F.: In order, the runners that have added appeal in PPR formats are Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Ray Rice, Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Forte, Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Peyton Hillis, Best, Moreno, Felix Jones, Joseph Addai, Fred Jackson, Tim Hightower, Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles. You can also get some help late in drafts from runners with pass-catching skills like Justin Forsett, Jason Snelling, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Jackson, but those are for leagues with 12-plus teams in most cases.
M.F.: Having to go up against an elite shutdown cornerback like Asomugha isn't going to improve their value, that's for sure. But overall, wide receivers in the NFC East still have some of the more favorable schedules in fantasy football. As a result, I wouldn't downgrade either of these star receivers in drafts. As it stands, Nicks' average draft position (ADP) is 23.79 or Round 2. Austin comes in at 37.79 (Round 4) on NFL.com.
M.F.: I would not make this trade. Rice and McFadden are close in value, though I like the latter more due to his durability. McFadden is ultra-talented, but he's never played more than 13 games in a season due to injuries. When you also consider that Rice will not lose significant goal-line work to Ricky Williams -- and he now has Vonta Leach in front of him -- it's hard not to love the Rutgers product. At wide receiver, swapping Megatron for Wallace makes about as much sense as swapping a Rolls Royce for a Yugo. I like Wallace, but Johnson is in an elite class that the Steelers wideout isn't a part of at this point in his career.
I'm in an IDP league and need a draft strategy. What positions would you target, and in which rounds? -- jesperbunch (via Twitter)
M.F.: The first few rounds of the draft will be no different than a regular draft -- you're going to want to grab your running backs, wide receivers, a tight end and a quarterback in the first five stanzas. But once you hit the middle rounds, it will be time to target the elite linebackers and defensive backs. Players like Patrick Willis, Jon Beason and Jerod Mayo will be tackle machines and valuable IDP assets at the linebacker spot, while defensive backs like LaRon Landry, T.J. Ward and Eric Berry can fill up the stat sheets in both the tackles and passes defensed categories. The last defensive position you'll want to fill is linemen. While there are some monsters like Justin Tuck, Trent Cole, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers (to name a few) who can be solid in terms of sacks, you're typically not going to get a ton of tackles from most of these players just based on the nature of the position.
What are your thoughts on Percy Harvin this season? Can he be a top-10 fantasy wide receiver? -- SeanManorek81 (via Twitter)
M.F.: Harvin is going to be in a terrific position to have a breakout season in 2011. I'm not sure he'll post top-10 numbers at his position, but he could be close. The Florida product has a veteran quarterback in Donovan McNabb under center, and the absence of Sidney Rice (Seahawks) makes him the top option in the Vikings pass attack. In fact, Harvin is head and shoulders better than Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins, both on the field and from a fantasy perspective. With his migraine issues seemingly in the past, I'm expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-90 receptions, 1,000-1,200 yards and seven to nine touchdowns. He should also add around 150 rushing yards, which just makes him more attractive in drafts.
What are your thoughts on LeSean McCoy's value this season? I've seen him drafted in the top five overall, and I'm not sure his stock is that high. -- WorldofSiwa (via Twitter)
M.F.: I'm not worried about Ronnie Brown putting a major dent into McCoy's touches this season, not at all. In fact, I think he's mostly a fantasy handcuff for owners who land the Pittsburgh product. I also believe McCoy is well worth a first-round selection in standard leagues and a top-five choice in PPR formats. If we know one thing about the offense of Eagles coach Andy Reid, it's that he's going to throw the football. That means a lot of opportunities or McCoy as a receiver out of the backfield. When you consider that he led all runners in receptions last season with 78, it's clear that McCoy is going to be a major target for Michael Vick in what figures to be one of the league's most explosive offensive units.
M.F.: I don't think it's a coincidence that Boldin suffered through a poor statistical season in 2010. After all, he went from a pass-laden Cardinals offense to a Ravens attack that leans more on the run. So while I think he could see an uptick in numbers this year, I don't think it will be enough to make him more than a No. 2 fantasy option. As for Evans, his stock increases in Baltimore -- just don't expect him to be more than a 60-70 catch wideout. I'd target him in the late rounds as a potential No. 3 or 4 option in most drafts.