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Fantasy football mailbag

Each week I'll attempt to bring some clarity to your questions about the pigskin and the men who throw, catch, run and kick it. To reach me with questions, drop me a note anytime at rflowers@fanball.com. For more fantasy analysis, check out Fanball.com.

With Randy Moss now with the Vikings, how much do I bid out of my $100 budget to pick up Brandon Tate? I've already spent $37 and my current WRs are Mike Sims-Walker, Dwayne Bowe, Austin Collie and Santana Moss.-- Steve, Clarksville, Tenn.

I can see the conundrum you're facing. Coming into the year most pundits had owe and MSW as bottom level WR2'. To this point they have combined for 18 catches, 258 yards and two touchdowns, totals that aren't any different than the numbers produced by Santana Moss (22-290-1). Collie has been a savior with 32 receptions (2nd among WRs), 398 yards (third at the position) and five scores (the best for a wideout). Still, his pace will slow when Pierre Garcon returns and when the regression gods call for their payment.

If you have a spot on your bench being taken up by a useless player, it makes total sense to target Tate, a third-round pick by the Pats last season. With Moss out of town the club will likely target Tate and TE Aaron Hernandez heavily in the weeks moving forward, but it bares pointing out, in the fervor of the stampede to the waiver-wire, that Tate is still an extremely unproven and raw option out wide. It figures that Wes Welker will now draw a bunch of double-teams which should leave Tate isolated on most plays. Even with that, and Tom Brady chucking the pigskin, Tate has all of 11 catches in his NFL career and precious little NFL experience. Given the cult-like hunger that will undoubtedly possess those who bid on Tate this week, I wouldn't be shocked to see people throw upwards of $45-$50 at him. Would I pay that much? I would not. I'd put in a bid for around $20-$25 knowing full well that such a bid likely wouldn't get it done, and hope that Bowe and MSW pick things up quickly.

I love what Kyle Orton is doing in the Broncos passing game this season. I drafted him to be my second quarterback, but with him performing so well should I hold on to him or move Matt Ryan, since I have bye weeks coming up that I need to fill?-- Tod, Gresham, Ore.

Orton has been a godsend early on for those who took the likes of Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Brett Favre and Matt Ryan as their starting quarterback. Orton leads the NFL with 1,419 yards, a pace that would net him a cool 5,676 yards, a cool 592 more than Dan Marino's NFL record. Orton has never thrown for more than 238 yards a contest over the course of a season, he's currently moving along at a 355-yard pace, so you have to be sincerely concerned that a regression is coming. Despite all the passing success, he is on pace for only 24 scores, far below the level one would expect with all those passes and all those yards.

Ryan is a solid NFL QB, and he has shown some slight improvement this year, completing 62.4 percent of his passes for 245 yards a game. At the same time, he is on pace for more than 3,900 yards, 24 scores and 12 interceptions, solid but not necessarily impressive totals. Still, those numbers are more than playable as a starter in standard-sized leagues. Moreover, Orton's best numbers prior to this season are 3,802 yards and 21 scores.

For me, the answer to this question is value. If you offer Ryan in a deal you'll likely get a shrug and an offer of a WR3. If you throw the name Orton out, there has to be at least one fool in your league who thinks he is a lock for a top-5 finish this season. Given that, I'd like to see you try and deal Orton for a top flight player who can help you with your bye issues and potentially be a starter for you the rest of the way.

I think now is a great time to buy low on the Panthers running backs. They can't be this bad all year. What do you think of a deal of Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert straight up for the Panthers duo?-- Peter, Boulder, Colo.

I don't get it. I really don't.

In 2008, DeAngelo Williams was third in the NFL with 1,515 rushing yards, and led the league with 18 rushing scores. Jonathan Stewart produced 836 yards and 10 scores. Last season the attack was more balanced as Williams went for 1,117 yards and seven scores while Stewart produced 1,133 yards and 10 scores. This season Williams is on pace for barely 1,060 yards and four scores, while Stewart is on pace for four touchdowns and less than 400 yards rushing. Given the fact that Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen have thrown for an average of 175 yards a week with 0.75 scores, you seriously have to wonder what the brain trust in Carolina is thinking. Certainly the two are related -- you need a proficient passing attack to open up rushing lanes -- but when your two best offensive players are your running backs you need to call on them more than 21 times a game. In order for the offense to have any success, Williams and Stewart must see a heavier workload.

As for the Chargers situation, it's a bit muddled right now. Many people had Mathews as a top-10 overall selection this season, thinking he would rack up 300 touches in the Chargers' potent offense. An ankle injury slowed the movement of the bandwagon, and in his place the bowling ball that is MikeTolbert has averaged 17 carries, 85 yards and one score the past three weeks. Does that mean that Tolbert will get more work than we anticipated moving forward? It certainly does, but at the same time coach Norv Turner is still saying that Mathews is his guy. "I'm committed to Ryan being our starting back ..."

Both backfields are "shared" right now, and both figure to be effective moving forward. If you need to play both backs each week, not a scenario I ever want a piece of, I would suggest going with the Chargers duo. You'll get yards and scores in that potent offense, so even if Tolbert steals goal-line work you are set. However, if you want to hit a home run I suggest the Panthers. If one of the two players were to become injured the other back could explode. I realize that the situation in Carolina is dire, especially with Steve Smith out with an ankle injury, and the offensive scheme in need of major revision. At the same time, Williams and Stewart are undeniably more talented than the twosome from southern California. Now if the Panthers play-callers would just realize that fact, we could be in business.

Ray Flowers is Managing Editor for Fanball.com Owners Edge and RotoTimes.com. His work can be found weekly, exclusively at the home of fantasy football: Fanball.com. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at rflowers@fanball.com. You can also hear Ray's thoughts at the Fanball.com Sirius XM Homepage. (Ray is the co-host of a daily radio show on XM 147 and Sirius 211 satellite radio).

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