October 30, 2012

The NFL fantasy season is filled with tough decisions. Join SI's roundtable of fantasy experts each week to help sort through the lineup choices, injuries and waiver wire options that can make or break a season. Each week, we'll also be featuring a question from our readers, which you are free to submit each Sunday of the season at the @SInow Twitter feed.

1. How should fantasy owners play the quarterback situation in Philly with Michael Vick possibly out and Nick Foles possibly in?

Mike Beacom: Fantasy owners need to sit this one out. Some who have Vick will be tempted to pick up Foles as "insurance," but Philadelphia's problems stretch beyond the quarterback position. Plus, Foles has yet to attempt an NFL pass, and if he does replace Vick there is nothing to indicate he'll do a better job in the pocket. Need a quarterback? There are better options on the waiver wire.

Will Carroll: It's Foles' job, but I don't think fantasy owners should get too excited about any backup quarterback taking over. Check out what Brady Quinn, Chad Henne and Kevin Kolb did in relief. Yes, when Kolb is the best comparable and best case-scenario all in one, there's an issue. Foles doesn't have Vick's upside or legs, and the offense has not been explosive with Vick. The upside could be for LeSean McCoy, but that's assuming that defenses don't crowd the box and test Foles' ability to beat them. Next week's game with New Orleans has the chance to be a big offensive game, but I'm not sure how much anyone can count on numbers coming from Philly, no matter who is at quarterback.

Eric Mack: The Eagles should be a good start against the Saints defense, but it would be a lot easier to like them with a more certain Vick, even if he is mediocre. That is as favorable of a matchup as the Eagles will get all year. Hope that Vick is at the helm for it if you own Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek. McCoy is going to be a must-start either way against the Saints' run defense.

David Sabino: I've been a skeptic of Vick all year as I didn't trust his durability. With his myriad turnovers it's not a surprise that a change is on the horizon, especially with Andy Reid struggling to hold onto his job. The way I would handle this situation would be to target McCoy, who would become even more active for the Eagles if they were to make the switch to the rookie quarterback.

2. Jonathan Dwyer has been effective in relief of Rashard Mendenhall. What kind of value do you think Dwyer will have the rest of the season?

Beacom: It may be Dwyer's job for now, but that can change in an instant. The Steelers will give the ball to the hot back moving forward -- whether it be Dwyer, Mendenhall or Isaac Redman -- significantly reducing the fantasy value of all three backs. Dwyer belongs in the lineup this week, but beyond that there is no telling.

Carroll: Dwyer is more of a system back, but the questions about Mendenhall will persist until he can come back and stay back for more than a week. Dwyer has been good enough against bad defenses, but he's hardly anything to get excited about. If you're playing him, something else has gone wrong and you've been lucky enough to make the right waiver claim. Enjoy it while it lasts, like many things in life.

Mack: Dwyer is likely headed to a timeshare, albeit one where he has earned more time. Mendenhall is still regarded as the team's most explosive runner, but Dwyer has emerged as a bruising change-of-pace and likely goal-line back. He will retain value in the right matchups, even if Mendenhall returns to the starting lineup.

Sabino: It's easy to jump on the Dwyer bandwagon after two 100-yard games, but the Steelers' running game has been inconsistent all season, Dwyer included. And while I'll stop short of saying Dwyer is the Steelers back to own for the rest of the year, his immediate value is considerable with the Giants, Chiefs and shorthanded Ravens (twice) on the horizon. However, it's likely that if Mendenhall returns at full strength (a big if) he'll reclaim the top spot as long as Pittsburgh is in the thick of the playoff race.

3. With DeAngelo Williams seemingly deep in the Panthers' doghouse, is there any reason to hope he will revive his season in Carolina or elsewhere?

Beacom: To answer the first part of the question: no. To answer the second: um, probably not. The Panthers' philosophy on running the ball is partially responsible for killing Williams' career, as his average carries per start has declined each season since 2008. It's possible Williams could find love somewhere else, but any team entertaining a trade with Carolina must accept all of the baggage Williams brings with him (including the fact that he'll turn 30 this upcoming offseason). It's also fair to note that it's been two years since he's handled the ball 20-plus times in a game.

Carroll: There's some hope that the late trading deadline will get him moved, but there's more supply than demand, with a couple of running backs out there of the same ilk. Williams would be an upgrade in Green Bay or Detroit, but it's very difficult to say how much of one. The Panthers are an utter mess offensively right now and their running back situation has been confusing for years. I would hold him through the deadline to see what happens, but I'm not rushing out to get him even if he is dealt.

Mack: We should be resigned to seeing him as toast. Jonathan Stewart is the Panthers' lead back now and trades just don't happen in the modern NFL -- especially with contracts like the one Williams has. Williams isn't worth owning unless you play in a league where your bench has spots open for Hail Mary-types.

Sabino: One of the many names being bandied about in trade talks, Williams' only hope for even marginal fantasy success would be with a move out of Carolina to a team with a good offense that could use a running back -- say Green Bay, for example. Otherwise, he'll remain buried in Carolina behind Stewart and Mike Tolbert.

4. Philip Rivers had another disappointing effort in Week 8. What should his fantasy owners do?

Beacom: Rivers is a second-tier quarterback, same as he was when the season began. The issue is consistency, brought on by a number of factors, including the absence of a No. 1 receiver. At times this season Rivers has been exceptional (three touchdowns in Week 2, 354 yards in Week 5), but in other weeks he's been a fantasy liability. He's a spot starter, not someone fantasy owners can count on week to week.

Carroll: Put him on your bench and wait. As a backup, he's decent enough, but the Chargers' offense is just dismal. Rivers is basically Jay Cutler circa 2011 right now -- miserable body language, poor talent around him, but still seems to have the skills to get the job done. Maybe with Norv Turner gone next year, Rivers will see the same kind of quick turnaround that Cutler did.

Mack: We warned you his weapons were bad, so anyone who drafted him had to assume that risk. Selling now wouldn't net much in the way of return. His owner have to ride him out and hope Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd improve, Ryan Mathews gets more screens in the short passing game and Vincent Brown (ankle) returns from serious injury in a few weeks.

Sabino: Panic. Rivers is one of the major disappointments of the season and much of it has to do with the decline of Gates and the absence of Vincent Jackson, two factors that cannot be fixed. If I'm a Rivers owner I look to trade for another option.

5. Will Calvin Johnson ever have a big game this season? He's not helping my team any at this point -- Matt Pike @Mpike2009

Beacom: It's a hiccup, Matt. Johnson has been bothered by a knee injury, but he still ranks among the top five in receiving yards per game (91.1), and Detroit's passing game finally showed some life in Week 8. Don't lose faith; Johnson is still an elite receiver.

Carroll: The question I always ask in situations like this is: What changed? The easy answer is injury, but the Lions insist there's nothing wrong aside from the kind of minor things he's played through before. The offense has been up and down, but again, Johnson has been through that before. Are we seeing some skill degradation? It's possible, but if so, no one saw any signs of it coming into the season, including those who watched him closely in training camp. If he'd lost a step or his hands, wouldn't someone have seen? The adjustment to Titus Young by Matthew Stafford is the interesting one. Johnson becomes something of a buy-low candidate right now absent an explanation, but it doesn't make him any less frustrating.

Mack: You could throw your hands up and rule him the latest victim of the Madden Cover Curse and trade him at his lowest value. Or better yet, keep running him out there and hope for a turnaround. Don't compound misfortune with a bad move like sitting or selling low on Megatron. He'll pay you back.

Sabino: Johnson's biggest problems the past two weeks have been Detroit's opponents. Both the Bears and Seahawks had secondaries capable of shutting down the league's most dangerous and physically-gifted wideout, and that's what they did. The Jags do not, so look for Megatron to have a patented mega game in North Florida, especially with Stafford seemingly back to form.

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