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Monday, June 30, 2003
Updated: August 19, 6:52 PM ET
Ask the Gamer

By Brandon Funston

Brandon "The Gamer" Funston takes your fantasy questions every week. E-mail him your question.

Chris, Tampa, FL: Obviously Michael Vick is the top FFL QB, but I would like to get your Top 10 list of the quarterbacks.

Gamer: Yes, Chris, I have Vick as my top FFL QB, but you could certainly make a case for Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb or Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper, as well. They are very close, in my opinion. With these guys, you have the only three quarterbacks who can dominate a fantasy box score with both their arm and their legs. All three are at the top of my top 10 QB list, and it should be noted that there is a significant gap between them and the rest of the field.

Here's how I break it down:
1. Michael Vick, Atl
2. Donovan McNabb, Phi
3. Daunte Culpepper, Min
4. Peyton Manning, Ind
5. Rich Gannon, Oak
6. Jeff Garcia, SF
7. Aaron Brooks, NO
8. Kurt Warner, StL
9. Matt Hasselbeck, Sea
10. Steve McNair, Ten

Dan, Fresno, CA: I have the tough task of deciding between Daunte Culpepper, Corey Dillon, Fred Taylor and Randy Moss in a Keeper league. Which three would you keep? Thanks for the help!

Gamer: I mentioned that Vick, McNabb and Culpepper are in a class of their own at QB and are the only QB's I'd consider hanging onto in a keeper league. At WR, Moss, Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison, in my mind, are the only sure-fire keepers. And I'd list about 20 RB's on a must-keep list. In a 10-team, three-man keeper league, a total of 30 players can be retained. Count on all 20 of the top running backs to be gone. Running backs are always the hottest commodity and I can attest from my keeper league that not one starter-quality back was left after the keepers were turned in. So you have to hang on to both Dillon and Taylor, or you are going to be stuck with a sub par starting running back.

That leaves your decision at Culpepper or Moss. Both are deserving, but I feel the right choice is Moss. I see this year's QB crop as running very deep. I listed my top 10 quarterbacks in the previous question, but I see another half dozen QB's not listed that you could easily make a case for putting in the top 10 -- guys like Kerry Collins, Tommy Maddox, Trent Green, Drew Bledsoe, Patrick Ramsey and Jake Plummer. Wide receivers appear to be a more volatile lot. After Moss, Harrison, Owens and, perhaps, a couple others, things start to get cloudy.

Matt, Highland, IL: In a 12-team draft, with the second pick overall, taking a RB is obvious. But what about the 23rd and 26th?

Gamer: OK, you're going to get a LaDainian Tomlinson, Ricky Williams, Priest Holmes or Clinton Portis with your first pick. That gives you the running back to build around. I advocate going after two running backs first, so look for another back at No. 23. So far, I've participated in four fantasy football drafts this offseason. In the most recent draft, five of my top 20 running backs were available at No. 23 -- Stephen Davis, William Green, Trung Canidate, Charlie Garner and Eddie George. All have their merits.

Personally, I like Charlie Garner, who can get it done through the air if the ground game is shut down, or Stephen Davis, who is set to receive 25 to 30 carries a game in Carolina. At No. 26, you have the potential to land Plaxico Burress. He went No. 25 in the most recent draft. If not him, I'd still stick with a wide receiver unless Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb or Daunte Culpepper are on the board. Most likely they won't be, so you are looking at a receiver crop of Koren Robinson, Joe Horn, Amani Toomer and, perhaps, David Boston. Personally, I'd be happy with either Koren Robinson or Joe Horn.

Richie, Raleigh, NC: How long will I be able to wait to get Kerry Collins? I am thinking 3rd to 5th round. Also, how will he do this year?

Gamer: I think you can wait longer than the third to fifth round being that you aren't from New York. Perhaps in fantasy drafts around the Big Apple, favoritism might come into play and Collins goes as high as you suggest. But the quarterback crop is so deep in potential this season that a player like Collins isn't likely to have his name called until somewhere between rounds eight and 10 of your typical 10-team league draft.

Ben, Maryland: I have the first pick in my draft and I plan on taking either Priest Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson or Ricky Williams. How do I decide between the three?

Gamer: The one thing you can't afford to have happen with your first pick is for it to turn out as a bust. That happens through lack of productivity or injury. It is safe to say that all three of these players are going to produce when they play. Their track record supports that. As for injury, one of these players stands out as a risk. I'm talking about Priest Holmes, he of the bum hip that cost him the final two regular season games in 2002 and forced offseason surgery. The Chiefs say that Holmes will be ready for training camp, but I somewhat question their confidence given that they selected Penn St. RB Larry Johnson in the first round of April's NFL Draft. Sounds like they are setting their contingency plan in case Holmes encounters further hip trouble.

With Holmes' hip mildly concerning, at least, I think you have to look first to Tomlinson or Williams, who appear as rock-steady picks given their track record, durability (both have started 16 games each of the past two seasons) and role within their teams. Tomlinson had more combined carries/catches than any player in the league, while Williams led the league in carries. I'll opt for Tomlinson because I believe WR David Boston will make defenses have to play the Chargers more honest with the threat of Boston now in the passing game.

Steve, Chicago, IL: What number pick do you think would be the best in a 12-man draft?

Gamer: Personally, I think you can argue that any of the top half dozen running backs could make a good case to be the top overall pick. There were six running backs that scored at least 15 touchdowns last season, and that doesn't include Marshall Faulk, who started just 10 games because of injury. So, you could argue that having the sixth pick is ideal, because you get one of those backs while still sitting alright in terms of a second-round pick. Using my draft rankings, let's take a look at a mock draft to get an idea of what you can expect to get with the the top two picks at different draft positions:

1. LaDainian Tomlinson and William Green
2. Ricky Williams and Charlie Garner
3. Clinton Portis and Eric Moulds
4. Priest Holmes and Stephen Davis
5. Marshall Faulk and Tiki Barber
6. Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James
7. Duece McAllister and Daunte Culpepper
8. Fred Taylor and Donovan McNabb
9. Ahman Green and Corey Dillon
10. Michael Vick and Jamal Lewis
11. Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss
12. Terrell Owens and Travis Henry

I'm a big fan of two running backs with the first two picks. And as you can see with these projections, after pick six, the likelihood that you are going to be put in a position to have to select or pass on a top quarterback or receiver becomes greater. While I have three receivers and three quarterbacks in my top 24 players, I'd prefer to get two backs, therefore, by selecting in the top six picks, it increases my odds that I can draft two backs without having to pass up a higher ranked receiver or quarterback with my second pick.

Looking at the picks above, I think you could argue any of the first six combinations, with Shaun Alexander/Edgerrin James and Priest Holmes/Stephen Davis as my two slight favorites.

Blaise, Williamstown, NJ: What other receivers can break into the upper tier of receivers along side of Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison?

Gamer: I think the two receivers with the largest upsides outside the holy receiving Trinity are Eric Moulds and Koren Robinson. While finishing 14th among receivers in fantasy points last season, Robinson did rank fourth overall for the final 11 weeks of the season. Seattle's offense, with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, really clicked in the second half of '02, providing optimism for '03. Robinson has nice size and speed for an NFL receiver and he's heading into that magical third season, which is typically tabbed as the "breakout" season for wide outs.

Moulds was fantasy's No.4 receiver a year ago, catching 100 passes and 10 TD's, so you could say he's already established himself in the upper tier of receivers. And, with Peerless Price now in Atlanta, he's going to have plenty of opportunities to remain at the head of the class. Price's departure means Moulds will take on an even bigger role until WR Josh Reed gains the experience and know-how to fully replace Price's production in Buffalo's offense. With the strong, quick and accurate arm of Drew Bledsoe, it is hard to imagine Moulds not, at least, equaling his '02 numbers.