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Fantasy mailbag: Kitna now a fantasy stud

I need to choose either Edgerrin James or Jamal Lewis to start with LaDainian Tomlinson in Week 4. Who should I start? I also have Sammy Morris. Is he a better option? -– B. Ogden, Lincoln, Neb.

Michael Fabiano: Believe it or not, Morris has more fantasy points than Laurence Maroney, Reggie Bush and Ahman Green. However, I still wouldn't start him over a featured back like James or Lewis. Neither of these runners has a favorable opponent in Week 4, but I'd have to side with James. Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt knows the Pittsburgh defense well from his time with the team, so that could be a bit of an advantage for James in what should be a defensive battle in the desert. Lewis will no doubt be motivated to produce against his former team, the Baltimore Ravens, but he'll struggle to produce solid numbers against the NFL's top-rated run defense.

Should I sit Drew Brees for Jon Kitna? What about LaDainian Tomlinson or Rudi Johnson? Should I bench them for someone like Marshawn Lynch? -– A. Vasquez, Albuquerque, N.M.

M.F.: Brees has a bye this week, but he should be reserved in favor of Kitna until further notice. Brees has been one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football this season, and there have been numerous disappointments. The fact that you have Kitna (he is on pace for 5,000 passing yards and is a must-start fantasy quarterback) is an advantage that a lot of owners don't have on their roster, so at least the Brees meltdown won't cost you the season if it continues. Tomlinson should still start week in and week out, but you might have to use Lynch this week as a replacement for Johnson. The veteran back hurt his hamstring last week, and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said Johnson could miss Week 4 as a result. Lynch has a nice matchup this week against a porous New York Jets defense, so he's a solid choice regardless of Johnson's status.

I have been offered Kevin Jones and Antonio Gates for Edgerrin James and Tony Gonzalez. Should I accept? -– B. Jagoda, Los Angeles, Calif.

M.F.: It would be nice to have Gates, but I'd pass on this trade. Gonzalez might be a bit inconsistent, but he should still finish the season with around 900 yards and four to six touchdowns. Those are solid totals from a tight end in the world of fantasy football. Jones is a nice option off the waiver wire if available, but he'll still lose at least some of the carries to Tatum Bell. Furthermore, the Lions are a throw-first, run-second team. James is the unquestioned featured back for an Arizona team that has leaned on the run more often this season, and he's on pace for 1,400-plus yards on the ground at his current rate of production.

I have both Steven Jackson and Deuce McAllister, and it seems like I'm dead in the water. What advice can you offer me? I also have Willis McGahee and DeShaun Foster, and my wide receivers are Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss, Santana Moss and Wes Welker. My quarterbacks are Marc Bulger and Tony Romo. What should I do? –- C. Strom, Newport News, Va.

M.F.: The first move is to put in a claim for Brian Leonard, who will start for St. Louis for the next few weeks. He can't replace Jackson's production, but he did show flashes of potential in the preseason and will be a hot name on the waiver wire. The second move I would make is to check the rest of the teams in your league and look for a roster that could use an upgrade at quarterback, and see if that owner would be interested in a trade for Bulger. You could package Bulger with Santana Moss or Welker in a deal and look for a runner in return. In the meantime, continue to start McGahee and Foster and keep constant tabs on the waiver wire and trade offers.

I have Jay Cutler as my top quarterback this week, but Trent Green is available on waivers. Should I add Green and start him over Cutler? –- M. Simmons, Dover, N.H.

M.F.: Green does have a better matchup than Cutler, but I wouldn't release Cutler for a one-week quarterback. If you have another player who is expendable, I would look to make a move based on Cutler's matchup against Indianapolis. However, there are some quarterbacks with better matchups than Green who could still be free agents. First is Chad Pennington, who faces a Buffalo defense that's riddled with injuries. Second is Jeff Garcia, who faces a Carolina defence that made Joey Harrington look like Steve Bartkowski last week. Third is Brian Griese, who will start for Chicago and faces a Detroit defense that ranks next to last in the NFL against the pass.

Should I start Marshawn Lynch or Laurence Maroney this week? I have Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson against New England, and I'm not sure I want three players going from one game. -– T. Boswell, New York, N.Y.

M.F.: It doesn't matter if you have several players in the same contest, so I wouldn't base the decision on that. However, the fact that he is pulled out near the goal line in favor of Heath Evans or Sammy Morris makes Maroney less attractive in touchdown-based formats. If you are in a standard format or one that rewards points for receptions, I'd start Lynch against a Jets defense that surrendered six catches, 211 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns to Ronnie Brown last week.

Who should I start with LaDainian Tomlinson -- Cedric Benson, DeShaun Foster, Brian Leonard or Derrick Ward? Also, what is the status of Hines Ward for Week 4? -– D. Hickethier, Wisconsin

M.F.: Based on the matchups, I'd start Benson and sit Foster, Leonard, and Ward. The former Texas standout faces a Detroit defense that ranks 23rd against the run and has allowed an NFL-high six rushing touchdowns. He'll likely see around 20 touches in what is an important NFC North battle. Ward has been called "doubtful" for Sunday by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, so it looks like the veteran wideout will miss this week's game in Arizona. Nate Washington and Cedrick Wilson will see more work in his absence, but neither warrants serious consideration outside of larger leagues.

I have Peyton Manning and Jon Kitna, and I want to trade Kitna for a wide receiver. Which wideouts should I look to acquire? -– S. Weitzel, West Lafayette, Ind.

M.F.: Kitna has the ninth-most fantasy points in standard formats -- two more than Manning -- so don't take less than a top-notch wideout in return. In fact, I would target Chad Johnson, Roy Williams or Terrell Owens. There's no reason to shoot low with such a valuable asset, so don't be quick to make a trade just for the sake of the trade. The best course of action is to check out the rest of the teams in your league and look for an owner that needs a quarterback, then make an offer to the team with the most attractive wideout.

I have Jake Delhomme, Eli Manning and Vince Young at quarterback, but I need to release one and add a tight end to replace Chris Cooley in Week 4. I was just going to drop Cooley, but there aren't a lot of good tight ends on waivers. Suggestions? -- D. Giles, Fort Carson, Colo.

M.F.: I wouldn't release Cooley, because another owner will be quick to add him off the waiver wire before you can re-acquire him and then you'll be stuck with a less attractive starter at the position. Before I would release one of these quarterbacks, I would first look to make a trade. Even if it's not the greatest deal in the world, at least you can add some value rather than release a player and receive zilch in return. If you're forced to release one, however, I would choose Delhomme if he is unavailable for Week 4 with an injured elbow. If he is expected to play against Tampa Bay, then Delhomme should be retained and Manning should instead be the one handed the pink slip.

Is it time to quit on Alex Smith and Devery Henderson? Derek Anderson, Brett Favre and David Garrard are available on waivers at quarterback, and Deion Branch, Isaac Bruce, Shaun McDonald, Brandon Marshall and Dennis Northcutt are available at wide receiver. –- J. Collins, Ohio

M.F.: This is an absolute no-brainer. It's time to release Smith and Henderson and add Favre and Branch. Go to your league right now and make the moves -- stop reading! If Favre and Branch are unavailable (you should be reading this only after you tried to add them), then look to add Garrard and McDonald.

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