The value of Kolb, Orton could rise in coming weeks

If Kyle Orton ends up in Arizona, where will he end up in fantasy rankings among quarterbacks? -- suttnutz (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: Orton would be well worth a late-round selection as a viable No. 2 fantasy signal-caller, but I doubt that he'd put up huge numbers like he did for most of the 2010 campaign under former coach Josh McDaniels. The veteran out of Purdue would be a nice matchup-based starter, however, especially with a stud wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald in the offense and a favorable schedule based on fantasy points. Of course, the quarterback most closely linked to the Cardinals isn't Orton, it's Kevin Kolb. The Eagles are expected to trade the young field general once player movement is allowed, and he'd be a great offensive fit for coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Is it possible for Sam Bradford's statistical output to increase while he's breaking in new wide receivers? -- Joben74 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I think Bradford could be the biggest sleeper in fantasy football next season. With McDaniels calling the offensive shots, the Oklahoma product is going to see more than his share of opportunities to put up attractive numbers. While rookies Austin Pettis, Greg Salas and Lance Kendricks will need some time to transition from college to the pros, that doesn't mean they'll hold Bradford back from a statistical perspective. In fact, that trio should help improve the quarterback's potential. While I'd still like to see the team add a veteran playmaker like Terrell Owens or Randy Moss, Bradford's arrow is clearly pointing upward. He's the No. 15-rated quarterback on NFL.com.

What are your thoughts on Ryan Mathews and Beanie Wells for next season? Also, is Julio Jones a mid-tier fantasy wide receiver? -- J. Munguia (via Facebook)

M.F.: I admittedly erred on Mathews last season, but I'm not completely off the bandwagon. In fact, I could see him becoming a nice draft value in 2011. The Fresno State product is in a good place to succeed under coach Norv Turner, and that one season of NFL experience under his belt will no doubt help him develop into a better back. Though the presence of veteran Mike Tolbert is a cause for concern, I still like Mathews as a potential No. 2 fantasy option. I'm not so optimistic about Wells, however. With the addition of Ryan Williams in the NFL draft and Tim Hightower still in the mix, Wells is going to be battling for carries during training camp. He's still a young player at 22 and possesses the skills needed to succeed, but Wells also needs to avoid the trainer's room to have any chance at making an impact. I see him as more of a fantasy reserve in the late rounds. To answer you final question, I don't see Jones as a mid-tier wideout in seasonal fantasy leagues. He'll be no better than the third or fourth option in the Falcons offense, and could be hard pressed to make a consistent impact as a rookie.

Can you assess the running back situation in New England? How will Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley fit in from a fantasy perspective? -- BrianBrochu (via Twitter)

M.F.: In short, the Patriots backfield has the potential to be a mess for fantasy owners. Aside from Vereen and Ridley, incumbents BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead will also be in the mix for carries. I would expect Green-Ellis to be the prominent between-the-tackles runner, though Ridley could push him for that role. Vereen, the biggest home run hitter of the quartet, is the player to watch. Though I don't love his short-term prospects in such a crowded backfield, I do think Vereen has some real dynasty value. As the situation stands, I'd take Green-Ellis first out of the Patriots runners with the expectation that he'll be no more than a flex option with no chance to duplicate his 2010 totals.

I'm in a 12-team keeper league where we retain three players and lose the equivalent draft pick. We're also required to start three wide receivers each week. I have two no-brainers in Jamaal Charles (Round 16) and Rashard Mendenhall (Round 13), but I'm struggling with my third keeper. My choices are Roddy White (Round 1), Brandon Marshall (Round 6), Kenny Britt (Round 7), Vernon Davis (Round 14) and Tim Tebow (Round 15). What's your advice? -- M. Bareham, United Kingdom

M.F.: You have a number of nice values based on the round you'd lose, but how do you not retain White despite the first-round price tag? He's been one of the most productive and consistent wide receivers in fantasy football in recent seasons, and the fact that you're required to start three wideouts makes him an even more attractive option. With two running backs and a wideout on your keeper list, I'd focus on selecting a quarterback, two more wide receivers and a tight end with your first four to five selections in the re-draft.

Can Dez Bryant develop into a top-five fantasy wide receiver this season? -- PTFLASH (via Twitter)

M.F.: I'm not sure I'd be comfortable projecting Bryant to finish in the top five in fantasy points among wideouts, but I can see him putting up numbers that rank him in the top 12-15 players at his position. Not only will he have Tony Romo back under center, but he'll also face one of the more favorable schedules in the league among wide receivers. The concern with Bryant, of course, is his off-field issues and the lack of durability he displayed during his rookie campaign. Still, his own skills and the potential for the Cowboys offense to record explosive numbers makes Bryant a viable high-end No. 2 fantasy wideout.

I'm in a keeper league with a three-year contract limit on players. Which wideout should I retain between Larry Fitzgerald and Vincent Jackson? I can retain Fitzgerald for one more year, but I would be able to hang onto Jackson for two. -- A. Thenhaus (via Facebook)

M.F.: I would retain Fitzgerald, despite the fact that he has one fewer year left on his fantasy contract in your league than Jackson. As I mentioned in an earlier question, the Cardinals are expected to make an upgrade at the quarterback position -- whether it's Kolb, Orton or Marc Bulger remains to be seen -- that will also help improve Fitzgerald's value. Even with the unimpressive trio of Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton under center, the star wideout still recorded 90 catches and 1,137 yards. Where his value fell was in the touchdown category, as Fitzgerald scored just six times. That number will improve with a better quarterback at the helm. Also keep in mind that Fitzgerald has one of the easiest schedules among wide receivers next season with games against the Seahawks (2), 49ers (2), Cowboys, Redskins and Bengals, so I expect him to rebound and put up good numbers with a new offensive leader.

My top quarterback is Michael Vick, but I have to decide between keeping Donovan McNabb and Kolb as my main backup. Will Kolb be traded once there is offseason movement? -- blackdogearl (via Twitter)

M.F.: I would be more than a bit surprised if the Eagles didn't trade Kolb once the lockout if over. He has been linked most prominently to the Cardinals, but the Seahawks have also been mentioned as possible suitors. Regardless, he's a young quarterback with upside and has more keeper appeal than McNabb. Speaking of McNabb, I'd love to see him end up with the Vikings as a one- or two-year starter while Christian Ponder develops. If/when the Eagles do move Kolb, I could also see Tarvaris Jackson ending as Vick's backup in Philadelphia.

Should I worry about retaining Maurice Jones-Drew? He's coming off knee surgery, and Rashad Jennings was seeing more work at the end of last season. -- mcsorley1313 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I wouldn't be overly concerned about the health of Jones-Drew's knee at this point. All reports about his recovery from surgery have been positive, and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio expects him to be ready in time for training camp. The fact that Jennings saw added work down the stretch in 2010 could have been due in part to the fact the MJD was playing on a bum knee. Overall, I think he's a great late-round handcuff for owners who land "Pocket Hercules" on draft day. But I don't see Jennings putting enough of a dent into Jones-Drew's touches to negatively impact his fantasy value.

Will Randy Moss have any fantasy value next season? -- MarcosNFL (via Twitter)

M.F.: That's a good question, and it's not one that can be answered until the lockout ends. If he ends up back with the Patriots, for example, Moss would see a clear increase in value. A move to the Vikings wouldn't be as good for his stock, however. At 34, it's hard to envision a scenario where Moss re-captures the level he had even two years ago. But again, all depends on where he lands. From a fantasy perspective, I wouldn't mind seeing him in St. Louis as the No. 1 wideout under his former coordinator, McDaniels.

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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