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Manning in the desert would be a real fantasy destination

Peyton Manning in Arizona with Larry Fitzgerald, or Manning in Miami with Brandon Marshall? Which do you prefer and where would you draft Manning? – @JohnyJags (via Twitter) Michael Fabiano: I’ve made my preference for Manning pretty clear — I’d love to see him in Arizona with Fitzgerald. Assuming Reggie Wayne joins him in the desert, Manning would have an amazing array of weapons and be well worth a fourth- or fifth-round selection. It would also be an advantage playing in the NFC West, which fields some questionable defenses. I also like Miami, but Marshall isn’t Fitzgerald and the schedule would be more difficult. Of course, this all assumes that Manning has no setbacks with his neck. If that’s the case, I don’t see any reason he won’t throw for 4,000-plus yards and around 30 touchdowns in 2012. His presence would also make Fitzgerald even more attractive in drafts. In fact, he’d move up to No. 2 on my wide receiver rankings behind only Calvin Johnson. Who will be the No. 1 overall fantasy pick next season, and why? – R. Szuba (via Facebook) M.F.: The value of quarterbacks is on the rise in fantasy land, but I couldn’t pass on Arian Foster. Not only did he lead all running backs in fantasy points in 2010, but he averaged the most points at his position last season as well. Had he not missed three games with a bum hamstring, Foster would have been the top-scoring fantasy back two years in a row. He’s the closest thing we have in the NFL to Marshall Faulk, and at 25 he’s in the prime of his career. A perfect fit for Houston’s zone-blocking scheme, Foster is a virtual guarantee to post 60-plus catches, 1,800-plus scrimmage yards and double-digit touchdowns. If Randy Moss ends up signing with the New Orleans Saints, should I consider him a starting fantasy wideout? – @matttom24 (via Twitter) M.F.: According to SportsNOLA.com, Moss “reportedly performed the 40-yard dash in the 4.39 to 4.4 range and ran routes while hauling in nearly 50 passes.” If true, that’s a pretty impressive time for a 35-year old. In the event that he signs with the Saints and lands a starting role, I could absolutely see Moss re-emerging into a fantasy starter. After all, catching passes from an elite quarterback like Drew Brees can do wonders for even the most obscure wideouts — imagine how it could help Moss! Do you think Robert Griffin III can make the same kind of fantasy impact as Cam Newton? He has exceptional speed, and that could mean a lot of rushing touchdowns. – A. Vasquez (via Facebook) M.F.: In a word, no. Newton had the greatest fantasy season from a rookie — ever. In fact, he blew most first-year players out of the water from a statistical perspective. That’s a whole lot to ask Griffin to accomplish. Remember when Darren McFadden came out of college in 2008? He drew comparisons to Adrian Peterson, which excited fantasy leaguers. Well, we all know that he hasn’t lived up to those expectations in his first four seasons in Oakland. That’s not to say that Griffin can’t make a nice impact as a rookie — he has the tools and upside to be a No. 1 fantasy quarterback for several years to come. But to expect him to produce the 4,051 passing yards, 706 rushing yards and 35 total touchdowns that Newton recorded last season is asking a lot. I need to tag a running back as one of my keepers in a dynasty league. Who should I retain from McFadden, Michael Bush, Peyton Hillis, Marshawn Lynch and Stevan Ridley? – @GFitzs (via Twitter) M.F.: Right now, the answer is McFadden. Yes he’s injury prone and a major risk, but he also has the skills to be an elite fantasy running back. With that said, the pendulum could swing in Bush’s favor if he lands a featured role with a new team this offseason. The Raiders didn’t place their franchise tag on the Louisville product, and I’d be shocked if he re-signs with them. Instead, Bush could end up seeing a more prominent role with another team — I would like to see him in Cincinnati — in which case he would push McFadden as the best keeper option of the backs you have listed. What is your take on Fred Jackson for this year? Do you see him starting over C.J. Spiller? – M. Rotchford (via Facebook) M.F.: I would like Jackson a lot more if C.J. Spiller didn’t play so well in his absence at the end of last season, I can tell you that. Jackson will be back at 100 percent in plenty of time for training camp, and I do see him as the favorite to start in 2012. However, coach Chan Gailey does anticipate a timeshare to emerge between Jackson and Spiller. That’s not to suggest it will be a true 50-50 split, because I still expect Jackson to see more snaps — it’s just not going to be like it was in the first 10 games of 2011 when Jackson was the clear featured back. Look for him to come off the board somewhere in the middle rounds as a No. 2 fantasy runner. Spiller won’t be far behind in most drafts. Based on how well he did last season, how high would you draft Newton in 2012? – @joerayruiz (via Twitter) M.F.: I have Newton coming off the board in the first round (No. 10 overall) in my first mock draft of 2012, and he won’t be on the board past early Round 2 in most seasonal leagues. Keep in mind, though, that no more than two quarterbacks have ranked in the top five in fantasy points at the position in back-to-back years since 2007. That’s not to suggest that Newton will be a bust, but I do have more faith in Aaron Rodgers, Brees (for now) and Tom Brady to remain top-five signal-callers. Do you recommend going with proven fantasy players, or do you aim for players who you think will have big seasons based on predictions? – P. Nakken (via Facebook) M.F.: It’s really a mix of both. You want to use most of your first several selections on proven commodities, but taking someone like DeMarco Murray (for example) in the fourth round makes sense. The most important thing to remember is to try and get the most value of out of your picks or in other words, avoid reaching if at all possible. You might love Ryan Mathews’ upside heading into the 2012 season, but should you take him in the first round of a 10-team league? Probably not, especially with his lack of durability. Is he worth grabbing in the first half of the second round? Absolutely. Demaryius Thomas is someone I absolutely love entering his third NFL season, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to take him ahead of wideouts like Mike Wallace or A.J. Green. Instead, I’ll try to get the most value I can and target him in Round 5 or 6. Will the Saints’ bounty situation have any impact on the fantasy value of Brees or Jimmy Graham? – @NickBellucco (via Twitter) M.F.: I posted a blog about this exact question on Tuesday, because things are starting to get a little worrisome in New Orleans. Brees was reportedly livid about being franchised by the Saints, though I do expect the two sides to consummate a new deal sooner than later. Brees is also in danger of losing one of his top offensive linemen, OG Carl Nicks, as well as WRs Marques Colston and Robert Meachem, to free agency. The biggest concern for me, though, is the potential loss of coach Sean Payton. If the NFL decides to suspend him for part of the season due to the “bounties” scandal, that’s not going to bode well. Brees is good enough to put up solid numbers no matter who he’s throwing the football to in the pass attack, but losing Payton could have a negative effect on his production and value for 2012. As for Graham, I don’t see his value dropping very much as long as Brees is still under center. I will retain Matthew Stafford and LeSean McCoy, but I need to decide on one more player from Matt Forte, Greg Jennings and Rob Gronkowski. Thoughts? – C. Gilloren (via Facebook) M.F.: Forte and Jennings are both tremendous options, but Gronkowski has the tools to put up elite wide receiver numbers at the tight end position. That makes him a great keeper option, and better than the two other players you listed. Did you know that he outscored every wideout (other than Calvin Johnson) based on fantasy points in 2011? That’s quite an accomplishment. 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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