I've been hearing reports about Michael Vick being traded to either Buffalo or St. Louis. If one of those scenarios happens, what sort of fantasy value do you think he will have in 2010? - F. Daulus, Memphis, Tenn.
Michael Fabiano: NFL Network insider Michael Lombardi is reporting that the Eagles have no plans to trade Vick. However, Vick has made it known that he wants a starting job. I also question if the Eagles really want a third quarterback behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb who'll make over $5 million next season. If Vick did end up in either Buffalo or St. Louis, he would become the instant favorite to start. That alone would increase his fantasy value, but it's hard to envision a scenario where he would return to elite status. After all, Vick hasn't been a starter at the NFL level since 2006. Personally, I'd love to see him with the Rams. That would give opposing defenses someone else to focus on other than just Steven Jackson, which in turn would increase the running back's value for 2010. At best, I think Vick will be drafted in the middle to late rounds as a reserve in 2010.
Hi Michael, what do you think will happen with the backfield situation in Houston? Will Steve Slaton re-claim the top spot on the depth chart, or will Arian Foster be the main man? I kept Slaton last season, which turned out to he a serious mistake. I'm going to retain Aaron Rodgers for 2010. Thanks! - J. Tansey, Atlanta, Ga.
M.F.: Slaton's value sure did take a downward turn in 2009, as he lost the top spot on the depth chart due to a case of fumbilitis before an injured neck cost him the final five weeks. Foster did show some flashes of potential in Slaton's absence, but the rookie also had some trouble holding onto the football. I also doubt the Texans feel like he's someone who can handle the workload and be a dependable option, so their starting running back in 2010 might not even be on their current roster. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked to see them take a runner in the NFL Draft. Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer or Mississippi's Dexter McCluster could be options.
How will the retirement of Kurt Warner affect the fantasy value of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Beanie Wells? What do you think about Matt Leinart now that he's the favorite to start? - S. Marugala, Waco, Texas
M.F.:I talked about this situation in-depth at the end of last week, but the short answer is that losing Warner will hurt Fitzgerald and Boldin. How can't it? You're going from an experienced veteran who's heading to Canton to Leinart, who's found little success in his time in Arizona. He was given every chance to be the franchise quarterback earlier in his career, but Leinart was unable to make the most of that chance. While he does have a ton of talent at his disposal, I wouldn't draft him as more than a No. 2 fantasy quarterback. I still see Fitzgerald as an elite option, but I think his yardage totals will be closer to those he posted in 2009 (1,092 yards) than in 2008 (1,431 yards). If Boldin is back with the team, I see him as more of a No. 2 fantasy wideout. As for Wells, I think he'll be a solid breakout candidate. With Leinart under center, I expect the Cardinals to run the ball a lot more in 2010. That means the Ohio State product should see 250 or more carries as an NFL sophomore.
I play in a league where we start one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense. The X-factor is that we also start a flex player that can be a quarterback. We retain two players and one rookie, and I'm keeping the "coach's dream," Mark Sanchez. Now I need to make a decision between Matt Schaub and Frank Gore. Thank you for your time. - K. Trembley, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
M.F.: I think you have to retain Gore. Sure, Schaub is coming off his best season at the NFL level, but it's hard to release a true featured back at a time when the backfield committee is en vogue around the league. While injuries are a bit of a concern for Gore, he's still finished in the top 10 in fantasy points among running backs in three of the last four seasons. In 2009, despite missing two games, Gore ranked sixth in points at his position ahead of Ryan Grant, Joseph Addai, Cedric Benson and DeAngelo Williams.
M.F.: I agree that Jones-Drew is a no-brainer, and the second player I'd retain is Charles. The Texas product finished in the top 12 in fantasy points among runners in 2009, despite the fact that he was behind Larry Johnson on the depth chart for the first seven weeks of the season. I've compared him to Chris Johnson in the past due in large part to his physical tools and skill set, and the addition of Charlie Weis as the Chiefs' offensive coordinator is a positive. Furthermore, Charles is just 23 years of age and has proven to be an every-down back at the NFL level. As I mentioned earlier, the true featured back is a dying breed and has great value in all fantasy leagues.
How do you think the addition of Mike Martz will affect the value of Jay Cutler? I can retain either Cutler or Tony Romo in our 12-team keeper league. Romo seemed like a no-brainer, but now I'm not so sure. Thoughts? - G. Augustus, Lafayette, La.
M.F.: I talked about Martz's effect on Cutler's value in my Monday blog. It's hard to think this isn't a positive for the immediate future of for the Bears quarterback, as Martz loves to throw the football. In fact, I think Cutler is a lock to throw for 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns if he avoids injuries in 2010. The problem, though, is that he needs to cut down on turnovers. Cutler threw a league-high 26 interceptions in his first season in the Windy City. What's more, there's no guarantee that Martz will be with the team past 2010. If the Bears don't win, coach Lovie Smith could be done and Martz with him. Regardless of Cutler's increase valued, you should still retain Romo.
Hi Michael, I've been looking everywhere for your 2010 fantasy player rankings and I can't find them! When will those be available? I'm interested to see your top 10 running backs for next season. Thanks! - P. Jerhmene, Louisville, Ky.
M.F.: I've been working hard on those rankings over the last several weeks, and they'll be available on NFL.com February 8 after Super Bowl XLIV. I can tell you one thing, ranking the running back position this season has been far more difficult than I can remember in the past due to all the backfield committees, injuries and unsettled depth charts. Right now, my top 10 at that position is as follows: 1. Chris Johnson, Titans; 2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings; 3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars; 4. Ray Rice, Ravens; 5. Frank Gore, 49ers; 6. Michael Turner, Falcons; 7. Steven Jackson, Rams; 8. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs; 9. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers; 10. Cedric Benson, Bengals.
Hi Mike, thanks for all your advice. You helped me win my championship in 2008, and I was well on my way to a repeat until I lost a number of players due to injuries. I'm in a 14-team non-PPR keeper league and can retain three players from Ronnie Brown, Shonn Greene, Michael Turner, Beanie Wells, Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson. We start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense. Logic tells me to keep Turner and Jackson along with one of either Greene or Wells. Who would you keep and what are your thoughts on a possible Turner trade? - P. Doukas, Canada
M.F.: Glad to help, as always! I agree that Turner and Jackson are your two best keeper options, and at this point I'd also retain Wells ahead of Greene. As I said in an earlier answer, I think Wells will see a bigger role in the Cardinals offense after the retirement of Warner. Of course, things could change with this situation if the Jets release Thomas Jones and make Greene the top back in their run-based offense. But if Jones, Greene and Leon Washington are all in the mix, the Iowa product loses a bit of his luster. As for trading Turner, it never hurts to put him on the block and field offers. However, I do think he'll rebound and put up great numbers in 2010.
Hey Mike! I always enjoy reading your columns and routinely take your advice. My question is concerning Anthony Gonzalez. Do you think that the emergence of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie have hurt his fantasy value for next season? And out this trio of wide receivers, who is the best bet to lock up the No. 2 spot behind Reggie Wayne? Thanks! - S. Llora, Midland, Texas
M.F.: This will be one of the biggest questions of the offseason, at least from a fantasy perspective. To be honest, I'm not sure it matter who earns the second spot on the depth chart. Whether it's Collie, Garcon or Gonzalez, all three will be involved in the pass attack. Think of it like the current situation in New Orleans. With a stable of wideouts that includes Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore, it can be difficult to predict who will lead the team in fantasy points on a week-to-week basis. That could be the situation in Indianapolis, as Peyton Manning will spread the wealth in an offense that will remain one of the league's most prolific units. As it stands, I'd rank Garcon and Collie ahead of Gonzalez. But again, the depth chart might not matter much in terms of determining fantasy draft value.
Which quarterback do you see as the better keeper: Eli Manning or Matt Ryan? I was a huge fan of Ryan heading into last season, but now I'm not so sure I should let Manning loose. Those receivers he has in New York are awesome. - T. Lanskey, Wichita, Kan.
M.F.: In a keeper league, I'd stick with Ryan. Despite the fact that he missed two games last season due to injuries, he still finished with 23 total touchdowns. Ryan is also one of the most talented young quarterbacks in the league, and at 24 he has a long and productive career ahead of him. I do think Manning's value rose in 2009, and you're right about his deep and talented core of receivers. But if I had to pick one or the other in a keeper league, I'm still going with the Falcons quarterback.