Sink or swim? Rivers has become a fantasy conundrum

Would you trade Philip Rivers to get Ben Roethlisberger? My brother said he'd make the trade! -- Nblume80 (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: At this point, I would make that move. Rivers just doesn't look right to me, whether it's an undisclosed injury or something else behind the scenes. After seven weeks, 17 quarterbacks have more fantasy points. That includes the likes of Colt McCoy, Matt Hasselbeck and Jay Cutler. While this week's matchup against the Chiefs looks favorable on paper, keep in mind that Rivers scored 6.44 fantasy points against them in Week 3. As a result, there are no guarantees that he'll turn it around any time soon. Also, Rivers has to face the Ravens and Lions in the final two weeks of the fantasy postseason -- those teams are among the top five in fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. On the flip side, Roethlisberger has also been on fire, averaging a stout 22.1 fantasy points over the last three weeks. He also faces the 49ers (14th) and Rams (6th) in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively, clearly better matchups for the fantasy postseason.

Should I continue to keep Jahvid Best? I have heard rumblings that he could be out for the rest of the season. -- C. Gegen (via Facebook)

M.F.: There have in fact been rumors that Best would be shut down for the season, but those were quickly squashed when his agent confirmed that simply isn't the case. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan also said that he expects Best to return, though there has been no concrete timetable for him to be back. That means more of Maurice Morris, who is a far less exciting but a serviceable replacement. In the meantime, you should stash Best away and look to the waiver wire for options aside from Morris. The best choices might include DeMarco Murray, Ryan Torain, Montario Hardesty and Roy Helu, to name a few.

Is DeMarco Murray the real deal? Is he a legitimate No. 2 fantasy back? -- CCJR23 (via Twitter)

M.F.: He sure looked like the real deal. The Rams' defense is awful against the run, of course, but it's nice to see that the rookie can take advantage of very favorable matchup -- something Felix Jones didn't do often enough. With Jones out a few more weeks, Murray will have plenty of time to perform well and steal the starting job. I think his success will continue against the Eagles, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. The next two games (Seahawks, Bills) are also favorable, so Murray has all the planets aligned for him to make a long-term impact. As long as he remains the starter for coach Jason Garrett, Murray can continue to be a viable No. 2 fantasy runner across the board.

Do I drop Peyton Hillis for Montario Hardesty or Murray? He's sitting burning a hole on my bench? -- J. Fields (via Facebook)

M.F.: I would definitely add Murray if he's on the waiver wire, but I wouldn't do it at the expense Hillis unless you're in a small league. Instead, release a fifth wide receiver, a second tight end, a kicker or defense that you don't need. The reason to retain Hillis is that it's becoming harder and harder to find good running backs and it only takes one twisted ankle or a broken hand (in the case of Knowshon Moreno) for someone to inherit more work. I drafted Moreno in three different leagues, and I've held onto him because I know that runners drop like flies due to the nature of their position. With Willis McGahee out for a few weeks, Moreno now has starting value. And once Hillis is back at 100 percent, I expect him to get his starting role back from Hardesty. Strategically, you would hate to drop Hillis only to have another owner pick him up off the waiver wire and start him with any success. I predicted that Hillis would be a bust back during the preseason (Madden curse, perhaps?), but don't release him from your fantasy team.

What are your expectations for Moreno? Will he finally live up to expectations? -- Max_Annis (via Twitter)

M.F.: If Moreno is every going to step up and be a useful fantasy option, it's right now. McGahee is out for 1-2 weeks, and Moreno will be given every chance to produce for coach John Fox. The problem, though, is that Moreno must face a Lions defense that's allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. He'll face a much more attractive opponent in Week 9, as the Broncos face the Raiders, who have allowed a pile of fantasy points to runners. So will Moreno live up to expectations? Well, I don't think he'll do it this week based on the matchup. But if you can be patient for an additional week, Moreno could bear some fruit against the Raiders before the expected return of McGahee to the starting lineup.

Which quarterback should I start this week: Matt Hasselbeck, Alex Smith or Tim Tebow? Also, should I start DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin? -- N. McCarthy (via Facebook)

M.F.: I know Tebow has a tough matchup against the Lions, who have surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, but I'd roll with him. Hasselbeck has cooled after a hot start, due in large part to the absence of Kenny Britt, while Smith has been wildly inconsistent. What Tebow brings to the table is an incredible ability to avoid the pass rush and pick up those ever-important rushing totals. That's what makes him such a valuable asset in fantasy football. So I'd start Tebow at quarterback, and at wide receiver I like Maclin over Jackson. It would be nice if you could start both, but Maclin is a better fantasy option than his vastly overrated and more popular teammate. Jackson is an all-or-nothing play, and more often than not he gives owners average stat lines. Maclin actually scored more fantasy points than D-Jax in 2010, and he's ahead of him once again this season.

Is it time to part ways with Chris Johnson? He is killing my championship aspirations! -- ponchoreyeloz (via Twitter)

M.F.: The plight of the CJ2K owners is a difficult one. It's like buying an expensive suit, throwing out the receipt and then realizing it's two sizes too small. Unfortunately, now you're stuck with it. As much as it might feel great to dump Johnson and release yourself from the headaches, you simply can't do it. But here's the good news -- Johnson has a favorable schedule down the stretch. Johnson will play five games against teams in the bottom 11 in most fantasy points allowed to running backs over the next nine weeks. That includes this week's contest against the Colts, who have given up an average of 25.43 fantasy points per game to opposing backs.

Are there any big-name players who aren't even worth a reserve spot in fantasy leagues anymore? -- T. DiGuiseppe (via Facebook)

M.F.: There isn't a big-name quarterback I would release in most leagues, unless you consider Donovan McNabb or Kyle Orton big names. I might be inclined to give Ryan Grant the boot, but that would be in a 10-team league. LaDainian Tomlinson is also becoming expendable, as Shonn Greene is seeing more of a featured role. As bad as CJ2K and Hillis have been, however, I wouldn't release them because of the reasons I mentioned above.

What are your thoughts on Beanie Wells for the rest of the season? He killed me last week! -- JericGriffin (via Twitter)

M.F.: I was a big backer of Wells during the preseason and he became a solid option as a No. 2 runner. The problem with Wells, of course, is his injury history. He already missed one game due to a hamstring injury, and now a  knee injury could keep him out 1-2 weeks. If we assume Wells will be back in Week 9, he would face the Rams and Eagles -- two teams in the bottom four in most fantasy points allowed to running backs. If Wells doesn't rebound in those games, I'd deal him while his value is still high. Why, you might ask? Well, five of his next six games are against defenses that have suffocated the run. At wide receiver, I'm close to cutting my loses with Mike Thomas. I'd also dump Lee Evans and Steve Smith (no not him -- the one in Philadelphia). If you still have Chad Ochocinco on your team, well, it might be time to take up another form of entertainment. I would also be kicking tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Brent Celek to the curb. Dallas Clark might join that list with a few more weak stat lines.

Should I continue to start Matthew Stafford, or is it time to go with Cam Newton every week? -- A. Clareson (via Facebook)

M.F.: I think you have to play the matchups while both quarterbacks are at 100 percent. Stafford is dealing with an injured ankle after Detroit's loss to the Falcons, though, so you'll need to keep tabs on his status this week. I would also seriously consider making a trade -- there's no reason to have two superstar quarterbacks on your roster, especially if you're weak at another position. You should be able to land an elite running back or wide receiver in return given the value of your quarterbacks. I'd be more inclined to part with Stafford, given his injury history, over Newton for the rest of the season.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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