Michael Fabiano: I'll go with Rivers, but I think it's going to be very close. The fact that he threw for a career-best 4,710 yards while missing Vincent Jackson for most of the season and Antonio Gates for six games is nothing short of amazing. Their return is clearly a huge advantage. With that said, I also see Romo having a huge 2011 season and having better draft value than Rivers. Romo missed several games last season with a broken collarbone, so he could slide into the middle rounds in some fantasy drafts. With the most favorable schedule among quarterbacks based on our FPA ratings, not to mention a ton of talent around him, there is no reason Romo can't become a top-five fantasy point producer at his position.
Would you draft a wide receiver in the first round of a 10-team PPR league? I have the ninth overall selection and was considering Andre Johnson in that spot. -- J. Haley, Bucks County, Pa.
M.F.: Based on the fact that you have two picks in close proximity, taking Johnson in the first round isn't a bad move. However, I would base that decision on the flow of the draft. If a star running back falls to you at No. 9, I wouldn't pass on him to land Johnson. If you do land Johnson, I would make certain to go after a running back in the second round. Based on the number of backfields-by-committee around the league, waiting any longer could leave you with a less-than-desirable situation at running back.
M.F.: Honestly, I think Jackson is the clear third option out of this trio. Sure, he's a major playmaker in an Eagles offense that throws the football a ton. But Jackson has never caught more than 62 passes in a single season and has averaged a mediocre 50 receptions per season. In fact, I think his teammate, Jeremy Maclin, is a better option in PPR formats. That leaves you with Nicks, who I believe is on the verge of a huge statistical season, and Jennings, a veteran who should continue to thrive in the prolific Packers offense.
I need to retain two players from Mike Wallace (Round 5), Ben Roethlisberger (Round 10) and Peyton Hillis (Round 10). I lose the round of the players I keep. Thoughts? -- yaz19 (via Twitter)
M.F.: This decision has to be based on, among other things, your league's scoring system. If it favors quarterbacks, than Roethlisberger has more appeal. But as much as I like Big Ben, I think he's the player to release if we're talking about a standard scoring format. The reason is simple -- finding a solid quarterback in the re-draft is going to be much easier than finding a running back like Hillis or a wideout on the same level as Wallace. Depth at the quarterback spot is now a major component in the construction of draft strategies -- regardless of whether it's a standard or keeper league -- and it's that depth that makes Roethlisberger a bit more expendable than either Hillis or Wallace.
What is more important in drafts -- loading up on talent or filling all of your positions? -- aesjets (via Twitter)
M.F.: It's definitely more important to load up on talent. Case in point -- most fantasy owners are required to start a kicker and a defense, but I won't even think about drafting either position until one of the last three rounds. Anyone who drafts a kicker before the final round, well, let's just say that you're wasting a draft pick. In my leagues, I tend to draft two quarterbacks, five running backs, five wide receivers and one or two tight ends before I'll fill out my roster with a kicker and a defense. The more depth you have at the important offensive skills positions, the better prepared you'll be for injuries throughout the season. You'll also be in much better position to make in-season trades.
M.F.: Clearly, anyone is an improvement over the trio of Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall that fantasy owners had to contend with last season. So whether it's Kolb, Kyle Orton or another quarterback once player movement is allowed, Fitzgerald's stock is going to at the very least rise slightly. We already know that he faces one of the most favorable schedules among wide receivers, and an upgrade at quarterback would move Fitzgerald back into the top five among fantasy receivers heading into 2011 drafts. He's currently ranked eighth among wideouts on NFL.com.
M.F.: In the event that four-year veterans will be allowed to become unrestricted free agents in the new CBA, Williams is going to be the most coveted running back on the open market. When you consider that the Panthers already have Stewart under contract, I'd be surprised if they spend the money it would take to bring Williams back. If that scenario comes to fruition, I'm going to climb the highest mountain and yell to anyone who will listen that Stewart could become a real fantasy superstar. I don't know that I can compare his production to Arian Foster or Peyton Hillis from last season, because Stewart isn't going to make a huge impact as a receiver out of the backfield. But if he's the featured runner for coach Ron Rivera, Stewart could easily rush for 1,300-plus yards and score double-digit touchdowns.
If Carson Palmer actually plays, what will his fantasy value be for 2011? -- theComisionado (via Twitter)
M.F.: I don't think his value will see a significant rise or fall regardless of whether he remains in Cincinnati, which seems unlikely, or he's traded to Arizona, Seattle or Miami. Palmer can still put up nice totals, but he's not going to re-emerge into a surefire No. 1 fantasy quarterback at this stage of his career. Even with the talented duo of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco at his disposal, Palmer still finished 2010 out of the top 12 in fantasy quarterback points and threw 20 interceptions. What's more, Palmer has been picked off 20 times in two of his last three full seasons. At best, he'll be a legitimate high-end No. 2 fantasy quarterback and matchup-based starter in most formats.
M.F.: Jones-Drew is the best back of the bunch. I interviewed "Pocket Hercules" for NFL.com Fantasy this week (you can watch it at the top of this column), and he assured me he's ready to roll after knee surgery. I'd rank the rest of these backs in this order: Turner, Bradshaw, Blount, Mathews. Click here to find my complete running back rankings for 2011. As for Tebow, he's more of a No. 2 quarterback across the board -- I wouldn't draft him as a fantasy starter.
M.F.: I think Bradford could be the biggest sleeper in fantasy football next season. With new OC Josh McDaniels calling the offensive shots, Bradford is going to see more than his share of opportunities to put up attractive numbers. While Pettis, Salas and Kendricks will need some time to transition to the NFL, that doesn't mean they'll hold Bradford back from a statistical perspective. In fact, that trio should help improve the quarterback's potential. I'd target him in the middle to late rounds as a No. 2 fantasy option with upside. I like Amendola as more of a PPR option than a starter in standard leagues, but you have to like his chances of filling the Wes Welker role for new OC Josh McDaniels.