Michael Fabiano: I agree with your initial thoughts on keeping Brady, Forte and Jones-Drew. You'll have two backs with first-round value to build your team around, not to mention a quarterback that is one season removed from scoring 52 total touchdowns. It will be a good idea to keep tabs on Brady's return from a reconstructive knee procedure, but recent reports suggest he'll be under center in Week 1. With Brady, Forte and Jones-Drew retained, be sure to target wide receivers in the first three rounds. Who knows, you might be able to re-acquire one or more of Marshall, Wayne or White in the re-draft.
What sort of value will Sage Rosenfels have if he does in fact end up in Minnesota? I've picked him up off waivers to make a spot start in the past few seasons and he's been pretty good. Thanks! -- R. Gregory, Chicago, Ill.
M.F.: Once the trade is made official, Rosenfels will be considered the favorite to open the season atop the Vikings' depth chart. But while he has put up good numbers at times when allowed a chance to start, Rosenfels is also extremely prone to turnovers. In fact, he's thrown 12 touchdowns and turned the ball over 18 times in his last 10 starts. I think he'll be drafted in most leagues, but he's worth no more than a late-round flier.
M.F.: I would agree that Peterson and Turner are your best options, and I'd have a tough time releasing a talent like Johnson back into the pool of available players. You can never have too much depth at the running back position, especially if you need a flex starter. The fourth player to retain is Fitzgerald, who will enter 2009 as the top wide receiver in fantasy football. I'd obviously look to add a quarterback in the first round, followed by a wide receiver to pair with Fitzgerald in Round 2.
The Patriots have a ton of good running backs, but now I've read that they're interested in Fred Taylor. What does this mean about the value of Sammy Morris, Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk? -- C. Lawlor, Orlando, Fla.
M.F.: There's been talk that the Patriots see Taylor as another Corey Dillon, in that he's an older back who can still move the chains. With Maroney, Morris and Faulk already in the mix, regardless of what happens with Taylor, the Patriots are almost guaranteed to end up with a backfield committee in 2009. That means inconsistent stat lines from Maroney and Morris and season-long headaches for fantasy leaguers. Morris is the most attractive option of the current trio, but he shouldn't be drafted as any more than a high-end No. 3 fantasy back.
I saw your 2009 running back rankings and was wondering why you have Frank Gore and Steven Jackson ranked below Chris Johnson and DeAngelo Williams. Gore and Jackson are both featured backs, while Johnson and Williams both share carries. I'm considering keeping two backs from Matt Forte, Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew and Williams. I also have the No. 2 overall selection in the re-draft. Who should I retain? -- J. Law
M.F.: While it's true that featured backs have added value, backfield committees aren't always statistical death sentences. That's especially true on teams like the Panthers and Titans, who lean heavily on the run week in and week out. Technically, Adrian Peterson is in a shared backfield with Chester Taylor, who saw significant time on passing downs (45 receptions, 388 yards, six total touchdowns), but A.P. will still be the consensus top pick in most fantasy drafts. Gore and Jackson have also been prone to injuries, which causes both to lose a little of their luster. In terms of your keepers, I would retain Forte and Jones-Drew and release Gore and Williams.
Hi Michael, what is the current backfield situation in Denver? I've read that Derrick Ward has priced himself out of their plans. Will they end up going with Ryan Torain and Peyton Hillis? -- P. Jerjurs, Cincinnati, Ohio
M.F.: There have been rumors that Ward wants around $4 million a season, and the Denver Post reports that is out of range for the Broncos. However, the Post also suggests that the team still wants to add a running back "who can break off a long run in the first half and protect a lead by moving the sticks in the fourth quarter."
Obviously, that would indicate the new regime has little faith in the talented but brittle Ryan Torain. Michael Pittman and Tatum Bell will be allowed to test the free-agent market, and Selvin Young isn't a true featured back. Peyton Hillis might be the best bet in fantasy land, but the Broncos' next starting back doesn't appear to be on their current roster. Hillis would be better served in an "advanced" fullback role like Le'Ron McClain, so this is a situation to watch.
Love your columns man! I'm in a 16-team league and we keep three players. Quarterbacks get points for completions, yardage and touchdowns. I have Tony Romo, Marshawn Lynch, Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Pierre Thomas. A.P. and Johnson are guaranteed, but the third player is in question. I'm not sure about Thomas' role with the Saints, and Lynch's off-field issues scare me. There is also serious turmoil in Dallas right now. What are your thoughts? -- M. Mackey, Waynesburg, Pa.
M.F.: Thanks for the kind words. Quarterbacks have so much more value in leagues that reward points for completions, so it's hard to pass on Romo as the third keeper. Sure, he did struggle late last season, but Romo was dealing with back and rib injuries, a less-effective offensive line and had brutal matchups against the Steelers, Giants, Ravens and Eagles in four consecutive weeks. It was also good to hear Cowboys owner Jerry Jones tell the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he wanted the offense to become more "Romo friendly," adding that it needs to "utilize his skills to the fullest and make sure everything we do maximizes his abilities."
It looks like T.J. Houshmandzadeh won't be back with the Bengals next season, and I've seen reports that Chad Johnson was on the trade block. What does all this mean to the fantasy value of Carson Palmer? I was expecting him to be a great draft value, but now I'm not so sure he'll have the weapons. -- O. Murris, Canada
M.F.:Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told the team's official website losing both Houshmandzadeh and Johnson is a scenario he "didn't think" would exist. While it's true that the former does seem to have one foot out the door, there have been reports that the team will look to keep him. If I had to guess, I'd say Houshmandzadeh's top suitors will be the 49ers, Eagles, Giants and Titans. If we assume that he's gone and the Bengals retain Johnson, I still see Palmer as a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy quarterback. Sure, he could be without one of his more reliable and productive options in the pass attack, but Palmer does have two 4,000-yard seasons on his NFL resume. The veteran is also expected to be back to 100 percent after missing much of last season due to elbow problems. I'd look for Palmer to come off the board somewhere in the middle rounds.
I'm in a 12-team keeper league and need to retain either Darren McFadden or Steve Slaton. I know Slaton was much better as a rookie, but McFadden is so talented. I'm stressed out about this decision! -- W. Ruis, El Paso, Texas
M.F.: I don't question McFadden's talent, but I do question the Raiders as an organization, their offense and what could be another backfield committee that includes McFadden, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush. That makes me side with Slaton, who silenced his critics and proved he could be a featured back at the NFL level. The Texans are in the market for a power running back to complement Slaton, but he'll still see most of the carries in 2009.
We are starting a keeper league this season based on the final rosters from 2008. We start 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 FLEX (RB/WR), 1 TE, 1 K and 1 DT, and I need to retain four players from Aaron Rodgers, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson, Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston and Greg Jennings. I'm thinking of keeping all the running backs and one other player. All keepers are locked into our rosters for the next three seasons. Who should I retain? -- R. Coler, Billings, Mon.
M.F.: I think Jackson and Johnson are locks, and the decision to retain or release Thomas should be based on what the Saints do to their backfield in the offseason. If the team adds a power runner into the mix, then Thomas could lose a lot of his seasonal and keeper value. Regardless, I would be more inclined to retain Rodgers and Jennings in an effort to have one of the more underrated quarterback-wide receiver combos in fantasy football.