What do you make of various coaches saying they'll use a running back-by-committee in terms of fantasy value? -- @Daboonson (via Twitter)
Marcas Grant: I feel like there should be a Twitter hashtag called #BecauseJune, since that's the month that overloads us with storylines that may or may not have basis in reality. And yes, I know it's now July, and I will no longer have any of your factual, calendar-based retorts. Anyway, with the number of teams going toward timeshares, I tend to believe coaches when they make that assertion. There are exceptions: no one believed the Seahawks were really going to put Marshawn Lynch into a committee with Christine Michael. Look at it this way ... it'll give you a reason to pay attention to some preseason games that you'd probably otherwise skip.
M.G.: Without a doubt, Lacy is a first-round pick. In fact, he'll probably come off the board within the first 6-8 selections in many leagues. As good as he was as a rookie in 2013, the Packers would like to have him even more involved in the offense this season. As for Stacy, he might be headed the other way. It's likely that he'll last until the latter part of the second round or possibly early in the third round. With Sam Bradford back and healthy (for now), the Rams figure to throw the ball more this season. There's also the chance that Tre Mason could work his way into the offense as an option on third downs. Stacy could be hard pressed to follow up his breakout campaign of a year ago.
Oh, you want more? Okay. If you're talking about backs who'll face timeshares in 2014, Martin is chief among them. Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford has repeatedly said that he plans to rotate running backs in his scheme. What makes that even more likely is that Tedford's other options -- Mike James and Bobby Rainey -- were both very productive rushers when they had opportunities last year. Plus, Tampa could throw the ball more with its massive trio of Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Martin will still be the lead back in Tampa Bay's offense, but with the prospect of his touches being diminished, I'd target him in the third round or later.
M.G.: Sure. Why not? Just be sure you set your expectations accordingly. In other words, while Johnson says he won't be in a timeshare this year, don't take that at face value. The fact is that Johnson has been a workhorse in his career, logging 1,742 carries in six seasons. Only one other running back can match those numbers -- Adrian Peterson. The difference is that Peterson has rushed for 800 more yards and 24 more touchdowns in that time. A.D. is also a true three-down back, something that Johnson hasn't been able to lay claim to in recent seasons. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell will see work this year. Recognize that Johnson's value is as an RB2 and draft him accordingly.
M.G.: First, now that Graham has officially been ruled as a tight end, it changes ... absolutely nothing.
With that out of the way, let's look at the tight end position. Its depth is questionable, but it's certainly top heavy with Graham and Gronk leading the way. Among your second tier TEs are Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron (both of them are rising in value) as well as Vernon Davis and Jason Witten. After that, it's a grab bag of inconsistency. If you miss out on any of those six, you're better off waiting until the middle part of your draft and targeting a player with upside like Jordan Reed, Zach Ertz or Coby Fleener instead of reaching for someone like Antonio Gates.
M.G.: Speaking of tight ends with upside ... there's Green. Eventually the Chargers are going to start phasing out Gates. It's looking like that could begin happening this season. The athletic Green is going to see more snaps in San Diego's offense and could line up in multiple positions across the formation. He won't surpass Gates this season -- the veteran was still San Diego's leading pass catcher in 2013. But look for Green to be an increasingly productive TE2 with even greater value in dynasty leagues.
M.G.: Remember what I said about tight ends being top heavy. The same goes for running backs -- especially featured backs. There are only seven or eight players who fall into that category. If you can lock two of them up before the draft even starts, that's a hard scenario to ignore. I know there are no tight ends that can truly compare to Graham, but you can still pick up a player like Rob Gronkowski or Vernon Davis and be in great shape. I understand your fears about Lynch this year, but he still has too much value to put him back in the draft pool just yet.
M.G.: There's a lot of risk with drafting Maclin this season. Generally speaking, players in the first season after ACL surgery aren't the players we're used to seeing. Moreover, Maclin also has to build a rapport with Nick Foles after not working with him all of last season. At this point, I wouldn't think about Maclin before the seventh or eighth round.
M.G.: You should not. I know Spiller was a huge disappointment this season, but I've said repeatedly that 2014 will be the beginning of the end for Frank Gore. The veteran has been so good for so long, but at age 31, he's also suffered a lot of wear-and-tear. Look for the 49ers to de-emphasize Gore in the offense as Marcus Lattimore, Kendall Hunter and Carlos Hyde get their shot to earn more carries. With a full offseason of rest, hopefully Spiller is past the niggling injuries that slowed him down last season and he'll look more like the breakout back he was in 2012.
M.G.: It's a good trade. Just not for you. There's no doubt that Megatron reigns supreme over all other fantasy receivers, but Dez isn't that far behind. It wouldn't surprise me if Bryant nabbed top receiver honors at the end of this season. And while Morris will see a decline in value this year, that's a lot to give up for a slight upgrade at the receiver spot.
Bonus question: What position is Tim Howard eligible and how high should I draft him? -- Everyone on Twitter
M.G.: After his performance on Tuesday, Tim Howard can play anywhere he wants and should be the ceremonial first pick in all of your drafts.