Another Fantasy Question For Y'all

Hey, gang.  Once again, I find myself incapable of making an independent decision, so I turn to you.  If you're not interested in hearing about fantasy football, go ahead and click that 'back' button on your browser.  If you are, read on.

This league is my oldest one, having run since high school.  I've never won the championship, although I came tantalizingly close during a two-loss campaign in 2006.  Yes, the second loss was in the playoffs.  So I'm definitely looking to finally bring home that hardware so that I can be obnoxious on the league's message boards.  Much like I am here!  Hooray, consistency!

The issue I have is to try and choose between the short-term and long-term.  My team is currently 2-4 in a five-team division.  There are two other 2-4 teams, one 3-3, and one 5-1.  The top two teams get into the playoffs, making it a very real possibility, but I'll need some help to push me over the edge.

That's the short-term aspect of it.  The long-term is that this league is a keeper league.  We are allowed to keep up to 3 players on our roster at the end of the season.  The price is that you forfeit a draft pick in the round which that player was chosen.  For instance, if you keep Tom Brady and took him in the 3rd round in 2009, you lose a 3rd round pick in the 2010 draft.  For subsequent years, the price increases by two rounds.  If you kept Tom Brady for 2011, you would lose a 1st round pick that year.

The best part about these rules is that if you keep someone you plucked off of waivers, the price for keeping a player is your last draft pick.  For instance, last year I found Chris Johnson on waivers during week 2.  Had we been using the keeper league rules, I could have him this year for the low, low price of a 17th (!) round pick.  I could keep Johnson for three years before he cost me a draft pick higher than the 10th round.  That's value.

So with all that in mind, this year I drafted talent early and keepers in the middle rounds to sustain my fantasy success in subsequent years.  I've made some trades and made some waiver wire pickups, and I think I have a decent roster right now, both in terms of production and keeper value.  Here's who I have where, with the round the player was drafted in attached in parentheses.  Keeper candidates are in bold.

So, as you can see, I have keeper candidates at all three key positions.  As it stands, I'm leaning very heavily towards tagging Ray Rice, despite the presence of Willis McGahee.  He's just too good.  As for the other six players, I'm undecided.

Bringing us full circle, here's my dilemma.  I have been offered a trade for Rashard Mendenhall for Johnny Knox, straight up.  This is a good trade for this season, as I have the WR depth to spare and desperately need RB help.  Past this season, Mendenhall would be a decent keeper option as well, considering he was a 9th round pick.  Also, Willie Parker is fast on the decline, leaving Mendenhall as the sole back in Pittsburgh's run offense.

Should I make the trade?  I like Johnny Knox's chances playing with Jay Cutler, considering he's a deep burner.  But I also have Gonzalez, Smith, and Austin at WR, who might be as good or better options for 2010 and beyond.  Keeping both Rice and Mendenhall would mean I would definitely have to keep one of my young WRs, thus abandoning hope for Mark Sanchez or Donald Brown, who I think will be high-middle round picks next season. 

I'm open to any and all suggestions, and I welcome you to pose your fantasy football questions in the comments section.

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