Romo could be a steal in 2011 fantasy football drafts

Where does Tony Romo rank among your top fantasy quarterbacks for next season? - Romomentum2010 (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: Romo could turn into a great value on draft day. Before busting his collarbone, Romo was on pace to finish with 264.3 fantasy points -- that would have been good enough to finish seventh at the quarterback position, just 4.9 points behind Drew Brees. Also keep in mind that Romo has a ton of talent around him, an offensive coach at the helm in Jason Garrett and the easiest schedule (based on fantasy points) at his position. Aside from facing the NFC East (the Redskins and Eagles were both in the top 10 in allowing the most fantasy points to signal-callers), Romo also faces the AFC East, the Lions and the Buccaneers. I have him ranked seventh at quarterback on NFL.com.

How does the presence of James Starks impact the fantasy value of Ryan Grant? Will Grant's return hurt Aaron Rodgers? - JamieCutteridge (via Twitter)

M.F.: Assuming Grant is back with the Packers next season (which I fully expect), I believe he'll be the team's starting running back. But I don't think there is any doubt that Starks has earned a bigger role in the offense moving forward. He showed flashes of potential after coming off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and was clearly an important part of Green Bay's Super Bowl run. As a result, I see Grant has more of a low-end No. 2 fantasy runner next season. As for his impact on Rodgers, it will be a positive one. The Packers didn't have a reliable running game for most of 2010, so Grant's return will force defenses to be at least somewhat more honest. What's more, Rodgers scored more fantasy points in 2009 (with Grant) than he did this past season.

I'm in a keeper league and need to retain either Joe Flacco or Mark Sanchez. Thoughts? - ZJONES (via Twitter)

M.F.: I would side with Flacco between these two quarterbacks. Sanchez has potential, some nice talent around him and room for statistical growth, but Flacco possess those same things as well -- and he's already established himself as a player who can post impressive numbers. In fact, Flacco finished 10th in fantasy points among quarterbacks (and 14th overall) in 2010. He's also a very young player at the age of 26, so the Ravens signal-caller has plenty of productive seasons ahead of him at the NFL level.

What sort of draft value will Vincent Jackson and Dez Bryant have in 2011? - boltfan17 (via Twitter)

M.F.: If we assume that Jackson will be back with the Chargers next season (reports indicate he could be tagged), I see him as a high-end No. 2 fantasy wideout. In his last two full seasons, the veteran has averaged a solid 1,132 yards and scored a combined 16 touchdowns. With a talented quarterback like Philip Rivers under center and a favorable schedule ahead, Jackson should continue to find statistical success. As for Bryant, I also see him as a high-end No. 2 option. In fact, he and Jackson are closely ranked at the position on NFL.com. The one concern with Bryant, of course, is that he suffered two serious injuries during his rookie season and is coming off a surgical procedure to repair a fractured right fibula. If he can avoid further ailments and stay on the field for 14-16 games, Bryant can easily reach the 1,000-yard mark with seven to nine touchdowns. He'll be a middle-round pick in most fantasy drafts.

Where do you project Jordy Nelson and Emmanuel Sanders being drafted next season? - bryanbrackney (via Twitter)

M.F.: Nelson has the most value of this duo, especially with Donald Driver past his prime and James Jones slated to become an unrestricted free agent (though that is not 100 percent certain due to the current CBA situation). In a best-case scenario, Nelson will be considered a major sleeper in an explosive Packers offense led by a star quarterback in Rodgers. As for Sanders, he suffered a small break in his foot during the Super Bowl and needs surgery to repair the damage. He should be back in plenty of time for training camp, though, and seems destined to see a greater role in the Steelers offense. With Hines Ward on the decline, Sanders could push for a starting role in 2011. Even if he's listed as the team's No. 3 wideout, Sanders would still warrant a late-round look in most leagues based on his potential.

Do you think Jamaal Charles' value is at it's highest point right now, especially considering how difficult his schedule is next season? - Jesse_Cardinal (via Twitter)

M.F.: Charles finished third in fantasy points among running backs this past season, and I don't see him reaching that same level in 2011. Over the last five years, only 25 percent of runners to finish in the top five also reached that same level the next season. So there's a good chance that at least two of Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Charles, Peyton Hillis and Chris Johnson won't be the top five in 2011. But if I had to pick three runners that won't finish there, it would be Charles, Foster and Hillis. That's not to say that Charles doesn't deserve to be a first-round pick, but I don't think he'll duplicate the fantasy points he had in 2010.

Was Arian Foster a one-year wonder? Also, do you think Hakeem Nicks will be a top-three fantasy wide receiver in 2010? - rtm237 (via Twitter)

M.F.: As I mentioned in the previous question, a mere 25 percent of backs to finish in the top five also reached that same level the next season. As a result, I don't believe Foster will reach his 2010 numbers again. In fact, he's almost destined to see a decline in production. Since 2006, only one running back (LaDainian Tomlinson) has led the position in fantasy points in consecutive years. Foster is talented, but he's not on the same level Tomlinson was during his salad days. I still have Foster ranked in the top three at his position, but I could drop him as low as fifth in the months to come. As for Nicks, I have him ranked No. 4 among wideouts behind Andre Johnson, Roddy White and Calvin Johnson. If he can avoid injuries, however, I wouldn't be shocked if he's the top-scoring wideout in fantasy football next season.

Has Josh Freeman emerged into a top-10 fantasy quarterback? - JfizzxB (via Twitter)

M.F.: I currently have Freeman ranked ninth at quarterback behind Rodgers, Michael Vick, Tom Brady, Brees, Peyton Manning, Rivers, Romo and Ben Roethlisberger. If it weren't for the immense depth at the top of the position, Freeman might be ranked even higher. The second-year signal-caller was ultra-consistent, scoring double-digit fantasy points in all but one contest with a single-game high of 31.78 against the Seahawks in Week 16. With one full season as an NFL starter under his belt, not to mention an improving offense around him, Freeman's arrow is clearly pointing upward.

Where will Peyton Hillis rank next season? If he a definite keeper? Thanks and keep up the great work! - joeluna_buzz (via Twitter)

M.F.: I was all over Hillis last season, especially when the Browns lost rookie Montario Hardesty with a knee injury. I think I could have been the man's agent -- that's how much I was pumping him up! But I have to admit, my enthusiasm for Hillis is shrinking like a freighted turtle. He was clearly gassed at the end of the year, as he failed to score double-digit fantasy points in each of his final five games. What's more, Hardesty will be back in the fold next season. That means the potential for more of a committee approach could be imminent. Right now I have Hillis ranked No. 18 at his position and no, I don't consider him a definite keeper.

What is your strategy on drafting wide receivers? That position has always been a weak area for me. - tenopir (via Twitter)

M.F.: I can promise you right now that I will be going after running backs and wide receivers early and often on draft day. In fact, I project my first five picks to be running back, wide receiver, running back/wide receiver, running back/wide receiver/tight end and running back/wide receiver/tight end. Which of those positions I choose in Rounds 3-5 will all depend on the flow of the draft, but I'll try to land two top-12 wideouts before I take a quarterback or a tight end. I will also make sure to grab a solid No. 3 wideout somewhere in the middle rounds, especially if I'm required to start three each week. In last season's NFL Network league, where I lost to Warren Sapp in the finals, my wideouts where Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson, Steve Johnson and Vincent Jackson. Though it was a standard scoring system (non-PPR), I know the strength at that position helped me go 11-2 in the regular season before losing in the finals.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com or tweet it at Michael_Fabiano!

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