Ultimate fantasy team includes Rodgers, Peterson, Gates

What would be your ultimate fantasy football team for the 2011 season? -- 606v2AF (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: Based on NFL.com's current rankings, my ultimate starting lineup would be Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson at running back, Andre Johnson, Roddy White and Calvin Johnson at wide receiver, Antonio Gates at tight end, Mason Crosby at kicker and the Packers for my defense and special teams unit. If I needed a flex starter, I'd select Arian Foster for that role. My bench would consistent of Michael Vick, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, Hakeem Nicks, Mike Wallace and Dallas Clark. Now that is a fantasy football team!

What sort of value will Marshawn Lynch have this season? Where should he be drafted in an eight-team PPR league? -- dyegendorf (via Twitter)

M.F.: Lynch will forever be remembered for his incredible, tackle-breaking touchdown run against the Saints in the wild-card round of the 2010 postseason. Unfortunately, he failed to leave fantasy owners with such memorable moments. Lynch averaged a meager 3.5 yards per carry in 12 games with the Seahawks and scored double-digit fantasy points just four times overall. What's more, 46 percent of his production came in just three games. While he's still a young running back at the age of 25, a questionable offense and a difficult schedule make Lynch worth little more than a middle-to-late round flex starter in most leagues. In a smaller format like the one you've mentioned, Lynch will be more of a late-round reserve option.

I need to retain one player in a touchdown-only league from Philip Rivers, Jahvid Best, LeGarrette Blount, Ahmad Bradshaw and Roddy White. Thoughts? -- C. Etherton (via Facebook)

M.F.: Quarterbacks have a lot of value in touchdown-based fantasy leagues for obvious reasons, so I'd retain Rivers ahead of the rest of the players you've mentioned. One of the top players at his position, Rivers threw 30 touchdowns last season. What's more impressive is the fact that he did it without Antonio Gates (missed six games) and Vincent Jackson (missed 11 games) for significant chunks of the season. Rivers has averaged 31 total scores over the last three years. With Gates likely to back at 100 percent, Jackson (franchised) expected to return and one of the more favorable schedules among quarterbacks, Rivers has a chance to reach or surpass the career-best 34 scores he tossed in 2008.

How do you see Colt McCoy and Greg Little performing, from a fantasy perspective, under new Browns coach Pat Shurmur's West Coast offense? -- lastflack101 (via Twitter)

M.F.: McCoy should benefit from the West Coast system, but he lacks arm strength and isn't going to make a major statistical impact from a fantasy perspective. In fact, he's very unlikely to even be drafted in most standard seasonal leagues. On the flip side, I think Little will be one of McCoy's top targets and could develop into the top rookie wideout in fantasy land. He has great upside, especially in an offense that lacks a clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver. So while McCoy won't have much seasonal value, Little could be the first rookie wideout taken in such formats.

How long should I wait to draft a quarterback this year? -- kanoke01 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I see no point in taking a quarterback in the earlier rounds when there are so many good options out there. The NFL is a passing league, so more field generals are scoring more fantasy points than ever. In 2010, 11 scored 230-plus fantasy points. Josh Freeman, a late-round selection, scored 10.76 fewer fantasy points than superstar Drew Brees. Based on the numbers from his 12 starts, Ben Roethlisberger would have outscored Brees. And let's not forget Tony Romo, who was on pace to score more points than Tom Brady based on the stats he compiled in his first five starts. The quarterback position will be even deeper this season too, as Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow could all develop into legitimate fantasy starters. When you couple the depth at quarterback with the lack of true featured running backs and elite wide receivers, I don't see any reason to rush to take a field general. The flow of the draft will determine the ultimate course of action, but I would have no problem with having Roethlisberger and Stafford as my top options.

What are your thoughts on the Rams wide receivers? They have a quarterback and running back in place, but which wideout will be the top option? -- ChrisPintoG (via Twitter)

M.F.: That is the million dollar question among fantasy owners when it comes to the Rams. Someone is going to have a sleeper season among Bradford's core of receivers, and I'm not sure that player is even on the roster at this point. If I had to venture a guess in the middle of this lockout, I would predict it will be Mark Clayton. He developed a nice rapport with Bradford last season, at least before he sustained a knee injury in Week 5. If the Rams re-sign the veteran out of Oklahoma, he would be the first Rams wideout I'd draft. If that move doesn't come to fruition, however, I'd watch Danario Alexander and the two rookies, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas, during training camp. Don't forget about Danny Amendola, either. He's coming off a career season and could post 90-plus receptions in the offense of new coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Which running back will have the bigger fantasy letdown this season: Peyton Hillis or Darren McFadden? -- topcheese613 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I'm going to say Hillis. Shurmur isn't going to run him into the ground, especially with Montario Hardesty back in the mix. Furthermore, Hillis is on the cover of the new Madden video game and is the perfect candidate to be victimized by the now infamous curse. With fewer opportunities to produce almost imminent, Hillis will be hard pressed to reach the same statistical success he found last season. With McFadden, the sky is the limit. The problem is he has been prone to injuries at the NFL level. If he can avoid the trainer's room, McFadden could be a top-five point producer. With Hillis, I feel like he's already reached his statistical ceiling.

I'm in a keeper league that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers and a running back/wideout flex position. I plan to retain Frank Gore and Ray Rice, but who should my third keeper be from Romo, Blount, Anquan Boldin, Santonio Holmes, Steve Smith (Panthers) and Jermichael Finley? -- themachine000 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I would retain Romo -- I think he's going to have a huge season in 2011. He's back at 100 percent from the broken collarbone that ended his 2010 campaign, and he'll be in a great position to explode in the stat sheets. Not only did the Cowboys improve their offensive line with the addition of tackle Tyron Smith, but the team also has a boatload of offensive weapons. What's more, Romo has the easiest schedule among quarterbacks, playing seven games against teams that were in the top 10 in allowing the most fantasy points to the position last season.

Which rookie running backs will be worth taking as potential No. 1 or 2 fantasy options? -- GallaJ13 (via Twitter)

M.F.: I don't think there's a single rookie running back who will emerge into a No. 1 fantasy option, but Daniel Thomas and Mark Ingram could turn into viable No. 2's. Thomas is the current favorite to start in Miami, while Ingram should see more than his share of opportunities in New Orleans. Some experts have even compared Ingram to Emmitt Smith, so the talent to be a star is evident. What's holding Ingram's value back is a crowded backfield that includes Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Chris Ivory. The other rookie runners to monitor are Washington's Roy Helu, Arizona's Ryan Williams, Detroit's Mikel LeShoure, Dallas' DeMarco Murray and Indianapolis' Delone Carter.

What are your thoughts on Chad Henne and Brandon Marshall? Could either have a positive fantasy impact? -- xxjones10 (via Twitter)

M.F.: Honestly, I think the Dolphins are going to pursue a veteran quarterback once the lockout is lifted. It could be Carson Palmer or maybe Kyle Orton, but I don't think Henne is guaranteed to be atop the depth chart in Week 1. In the event that he remains the team's top signal-caller, it's hard to like him as more than a low-end No. 2 fantasy option. While he does have a very favorable schedule that includes games against the Patriots (two), Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles, Raiders, Broncos and Texans, Henne has much to prove before owners will even consider him draftable at a deep position. As for Marshall, I don't see him taking another statistical step in the wrong direction. He actually finished a disappointing 2010 season on a high note, posting a combined 36 catches for 305 yards in his final three games. Right now I see him as a high-end No. 2 fantasy wideout who'll have more value if the Fins land Palmer or Orton.

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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