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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fantasy football: No-huddle offense for Week 2

We'll make this a weekly staple during the football season -- a mid-week collection of news and notes of relevance for fantasy owners.

On Saturdays, we'll have a column each week for the print editions and the N-H's Sports site (this week's will focus on Anthony Gonzalez's knee injury and a buy-and-sell for some of Week 1's surprise performances). There will also be an audiocast published that morning on our online Sports section.

Saturday will also be when we publish the "big blog," which includes the expanded playlist, five players to start, three to sit and much more. That can be found under "latest updates" on the homepage of our Web site and at

Thursday, we held our first live fantasy football chat. The plan for now is to have them every Thursday at 4 p.m. during the football season. Here's a recap of today's.

On to the no-huddle ...

-- Take a seat, L.T.: LaDainian Tomlinson is saying he plans to play this week against Baltimore, despite a sprained ankle that has required him to wear a protective boot. It's fair to wonder if he thinks he can help his team or if he's worried the Chargers are slowly realizing that Darren Sproles, at this stage of their respective careers, is better. If Tomlinson plays Sunday, I would bench him against the Ravens, who held the Chiefs to 29 rushing yards last week and ranked third against the run last season. Baltimore allowed only 3.6 yards per carry and a league-low four rushing touchdowns in 2008.

If L.T. sits for just the second time in his career, I would consider playing Sproles in point-per-reception leagues. The speedy back will never be a 20-carry player, but he has averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his career and is an effective receiver.

-- Cool your Jets: Mark Sanchez could be the next Matt Ryan -- a sporadic fantasy starter as a rookie. Or he could be the next Joe Flacco -- an effective rookie QB with minimal value in the fake game. The Jets quarterback was impressive in throwing for 272 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, but let's not forget it was against the Texans, against whom opposing QBs had a 92.3 rating in 2008. Until we find out in which category Sanchez fits, I wouldn't consider him.

-- What's the catch?: Matt Forte owners should be slightly concerned, but not about the 2.2 yards per carry the Bears running back averaged in Week 1. The number I would focus on is one, as in the times Forte was targeted by Jay Cutler on Sunday night. Forte's greatest fantasy asset is his ability to rack up both rushing (1,238 yards as a rookie in 2008) and receiving numbers (63 catches for 477 yards). But in Cutler's Chicago debut, he targeted former Vanderbilt teammate Earl Bennett 14 times, yet threw only six passes to tight end Greg Olsen, four to Devin Hester and one to Forte. That has to change if Forte is to remain worthy of a first-round fantasy pick.

-- Too much sharing: As expected, the number of teams splitting carries is more frustrating than an Eric Mangini injury report. Preseason Achilles injury and all, Jonathan Stewart (11 rushing attempts Sunday) is still around to haunt owners of DeAngelo Williams (14 carries). Baltimore has two effective backs (Ray Rice and Willis McGahee) and a fullback (LeRon McClain) who swipes goal-line carries, and the Bucs' time share now includes a rejuvenated (at least until he gets hurt) Cadillac Williams (our condolences on the late draft pick, Earnest Graham owners).

Did we mention Leon Washington got just five fewer carries than Jets teammate Thomas Jones in Week 1, or that Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno each had only eight attempts for Denver at Cincinnati? Then there's the electric Ahmad Bradshaw, who seems to be ready to fill Derrick Ward's former role as the lightning to Brandon Jacobs' thunder. Jacobs had 16 carries for 46 yards last week -- to Bradshaw's 12 for 60.

Rookie Donald Brown had 11 carries for 33 yards in his Colts debut (starter Joseph Addai has 17 for 42),and Beanie Wells' first game as a Cardinal featured seven carries for 29 yards (Tim Hightower had eight carries for 15 yards and possibly the most surprising stat line of the weekend: 12 catches for 121 yards).

Aside from Hightower's receiving totals, which won't happen again, the only encouraging numbers to come from from the Backfield-By-Committee Division were these: 14, 79, 1. Those were Marion Barber's attempts, yards and touchdowns for Dallas at Tampa Bay, compared to Felix Jones' six carries for 22 yards. If Barber continues to get the majority of the touches, he should regain his 2007 status as a high-end No. 2 fantasy back.

-- Closing number: 25.0. That's Eagles backup Kevin Kolb's passer rating in 45 career attempts, which have generated zero touchdowns and four interceptions. We'll address Donovan McNabb's rib injury more in Saturday's blog, but until then, if you are a McNabb owner and are considering using Kolb if McNabb doesn't play, don't. Of McNabb's three backups, the one who might have the greatest value the rest of the season wasn't even on any team's roster in Week 1: Jeff Garcia. Sorry, Michael Vick. I'm no offensive coordinator (even though I can run the no-huddle), but I doubt the latter will have any fantasy impact this season.

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September 25, 2009 at 7:58 PM 

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