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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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fantasy football: Injury updates, start-and-sit advice, expanded playlist and more for Week 8

The Saturday injury roundup has become a weekly tradition -- think somewhere below "The Office" and "Modern Family" and a notch or two above the Derek Anderson sub-50 passer rating. Let's get to it:

-- Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, who is recovering from a concussion, is expected to be a game-time decision. The guess here is he'll sit, making rookie LeSean McCoy a decent No. 2 running back Sunday against the Giants, who have allowed 10 rushing touchdowns.

-- Another rookie runner, the Colts' Donald Brown, is doubtful with a shoulder injury. That should lead to more work for starter Joseph Addai. Chad Simpson is expected to serve as Addai's backup, but shouldn't be much of a fantasy factor.

-- Two of the game's best receivers, the Texans' Andre Johnson (lung contusion) and the Colts' Reggie Wayne (groin injury), are expected to play. Both practiced Friday.

-- The news isn't as promising for Lions wideout Calvin Johnson, who has battled a knee injury for the last few weeks. Coach Jim Schwartz told reporters he expected Johnson to play, but the receiver didn't sound so optimistic. It's expected to be a game-time decision, and if Johnson sits, Dennis Northcutt should be considered a low-end No. 3 receiver, especially in PPR leagues.

-- Cardinals wideout Anquan Boldin (ankle injury) and Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) are both listed as questionable, and both are expected to play.

-- Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian (hamstring) should be a game-time decision. If Berrian sits against the Packers, Percy Harvin's value as a No. 3 wideout increases.

Five to start

This week’s look at part-time starters and fantasy backups who should benefit from a favorable matchup:

-- David Garrard, QB, Jaguars, at Titans:
He’s on pace to throw for 3,904 yards and run for 373, but he isn’t a regular starter because of his poor TD total (five). Garrard should reach the end zone a couple times against the league’s worst pass defense. The Titans have yielded a league-high 19 TD tosses.

-- Matt Forte, RB, Bears, vs. Browns: He’s been one of fantasy’s biggest busts this season, one who can no longer be counted on every week. But you have to play Forte, who has rushed for only 318 yards with a norm of 3.5 yards per carry, against the Browns’ No. 31 run defense.

-- LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers, vs. Raiders: Speaking of busts, L.T. has 41 carries for 141 yards (3.4) in two games since the Chargers’ bye. I’d expect him to show some flashes of his old self (not his current old self) against the Raiders, who rank 30th vs. the run and have allowed 11 rushing TDs.

-- Torry Holt, WR, Jaguars, at Titans: He has 12 catches for 196 yards in his last two games, and he might even score for the first time all year vs. the aforementioned Titans pass defense.

-- Devin Hester, WR, Bears, vs. Browns:
He has 14 receptions for 184 yards and a TD in his last two games, and the Browns rank 24th vs. the pass.

More matchups I like:

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills, vs. Panthers; LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles, vs. Giants; Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins, at Jets; Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals, vs. Panthers; Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell, RBs, Saints, vs. Falcons; Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings, at Packers; Austin Collie, WR, Colts, vs. 49ers; Donnie Avery, WR, Rams, at Lions; Lee Evans, WR, Bills, vs. Texans

Three to sit

If you have a decent backup, these starters should take a seat for a week:

-- Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens, vs. Broncos: He’s thrown for 1,674 yards and 11 touchdowns while developing into a top-10 fantasy quarterback, but if you have a productive No. 2 QB, you should play him. The Broncos have twice as many interceptions (six) as touchdown passes allowed (three), and they’ve sacked the opposing passer 21 times.

-- Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles, vs. Giants:
He’s thrown only one TD pass in his last two games, and the Giants’ No. 2 pass defense is giving up just 165 yards through the air per contest.

-- Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants, at Eagles:
He has been playing with a cracked bone on the outside of his right foot, and it’s been evident in the last two games, during which Bradshaw has only 75 total yards. The Eagles are the league’s 11th-best run defense.

More matchups I don’t like:

Brett Favre, QB, Vikings, at Packers; Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks, at Cowboys; Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns, at Bears

Last week

All five members of the start list had at least one touchdown, led by surprising stud Miles Austin (six catches for 171 yards and two scores). Austin Collie (four receptions for 36 yards and a TD), Laurence Maroney (43 yards rushing, one TD) and Marshawn Lynch (40 yards rushing, one TD, one catch) were decent starts. Eli Manning (243 yards passing, one TD and three interceptions) was not.

The sit list had one miss in Brandon Jacobs (76 yards rushing, one TD and two catches for 11 yards) and two hits in Brett Favre (334 yards passing, but zero TDs and one pick) and Cadillac Williams (29 yards rushing and two catches for 28 yards).


1. Drew Brees, Saints, vs. Falcons (No. 26 vs. the pass)
2. Peyton Manning, Colts, vs. 49ers (No. 21)
3. Jay Cutler, Bears, vs. Browns (No. 24)
4. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, vs. Vikings (No. 20)
5. Tony Romo, Cowboys, vs. Seahawks (tied for No. 16)
6. Philip Rivers, Chargers, vs. Raiders (No. 12)
7. Kurt Warner, Cardinals, vs. Panthers (No. 1)
8. Matt Schaub, Texans, at Bills (No. 10)
9. Matt Ryan, Falcons, at Saints (No. 14)
10. Kyle Orton, Broncos, at Ravens (No. 23)
11. Eli Manning, Giants, at Eagles (No. 9)
12. Donovan McNabb, Eagles, vs. Giants (No. 2)
13. David Garrard, Jaguars, at Texans (No. 32)
14. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks, at Cowboys (No. 22)
15. Joe Flacco, Ravens, vs. Broncos (No. 8)
16. Brett Favre, Vikings, at Packers (No. 4)
17. Mark Sanchez, Jets, vs. Dolphins (No. 19)
18. Marc Bulger, Rams, at Lions (No. 30)
19. Matthew Stafford, Lions, vs. Rams (No. 25)
20. Chad Henne, Dolphins, at Jets (No. 7)


1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, at Packers (No. 12 vs. the run)
2. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars, at Titans (No. 9)
3. Steven Jackson, Rams, at Lions (No. 20)
4. Joseph Addai, Colts, vs. 49ers (No. 6)
5. Michael Turner, Falcons, at Saints (No. 8)
6. Matt Forte, Bears, vs. Browns (No. 31)
7. Kevin Smith, Lions, vs. Rams (No. 27)
8. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers, at Cardinals (No. 1)
9. Frank Gore, 49ers, at Colts (No. 19)
10. Thomas Jones, Jets, vs. Dolphins (No. 4)
11. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins, at Jets (No. 22)
12. Steve Slaton, Texans, at Bills (No. 32)
13. Ray Rice, Ravens, vs. Broncos (No. 3)
14. Chris Johnson, Titans, vs. Jaguars (No. 13)
15. Ryan Grant, Packers, vs. Vikings (No. 10)
16. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, vs. Raiders (No. 30)
17. Marion Barber, Cowboys, vs. Seahawks (No. 14)
18. Marshawn Lynch, Bills, vs. Texans (No. 21)
19. Brandon Jacobs, Giants, at Eagles (No. 11)
20. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, at Ravens (No. 7)
21. LeSean McCoy, Eagles, vs. Giants (No. 15)
22. Ricky Williams, Dolphins, at Jets (No. 22)
23. Pierre Thomas, Saints, vs. Falcons (No. 23)
24. Beanie Wells, Cardinals, vs. Panthers (No. 26)

1. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, vs. Panthers (No. 1 vs. the pass)
2. Marques Colston, Saints, vs. Falcons (No. 26)
3. Brandon Marshall, Broncos, at Ravens (No. 23)
4. Vincent Jackson, Chargers, vs. Raiders (No. 12)
5. Miles Austin, Cowboys, vs. Seahawks (tied for No. 16)
6. Roddy White, Falcons, at Saints (No. 14)
7. Andre Johnson, Texans, at Bills (No. 10)
8. Donald Driver, Packers, vs. Vikings (No. 20)
9. Steve Smith, Panthers, at Cardinals (No. 29)
10. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars, at Titans (No. 32)
11. x-Reggie Wayne, Colts, vs. 49ers (No. 21)
12. DeSean Jackson, Eagles, vs. Giants (No. 2)
13. Greg Jennings, Packers, vs. Vikings (No. 20)
14. Steve Smith, Giants, at Eagles (No. 9)
15. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks, at Cowboys (No. 22)
16. x-Calvin Johnson, Lions, vs. Rams (No. 25)
17. x-Anquan Boldin, Cardinals, vs. Panthers (No. 1)
18. Derrick Mason, Ravens, vs. Broncos (No. 8)
19. Devin Hester, Bears, vs. Browns (No. 24)
20. Nate Burleson, Seahawks, at Cowboys (No. 22)
21. Torry Holt, Jaguars, at Titans (No. 32)
22. Sidney Rice, Vikings, at Packers (No. 4)
23. Austin Collie, Colts, vs. 49ers (No. 21)
24. Eddie Royal, Broncos, at Ravens (No. 23)
25. Mario Manningham, Giants, at Eagles (No. 9)
26. Terrell Owens, Bills, vs. Texans (No. 18)
27. Braylon Edwards, Jets, vs. Dolphins (No. 19)
28. Michael Crabtree, 49ers, at Colts (No. 6)
29. Hakeem Nicks, at Eagles (No. 9)
30. Lance Moore, Saints, at Falcons (No. 26)
31. Donnie Avery, Rams, at Lions (No. 30)
32. Lee Evans, Bills, vs. Texans (No. 18)
33. Steve Breaston, Cardinals, vs. Panthers (No. 1)
34. Percy Harvin, Vikings, at Packers (No. 4)
35. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles, vs. Giants (No. 2)
36. x-Jerricho Cotchery, Jets, vs. Dolphins (No. 19)
x-Make sure Wayne, Calvin Johnson, Boldin and Cotchery are active prior to kickoff.

MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL: For a breakdown of the fantasy values of running backs Shonn Greene and Jamaal Charles, click here. The link also includes our weekly audiocast.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fantasy football: No-huddle offense for Week 8

Beanie Wells, like Rashard Mendenhall before him, might be one who got away -- a running back you released because he wasn't producing and you needed the roster space due to bye-week restrictions.

But if you had Week 7 in your When Will A Healthy (For Now) Beanie Show Signs Of Life, Ticking Owner X Off In the Process office pool (what, you don't have one?), you, like the guy who selected Ray Rice in the sixth round, followed by Ben Roethlisberger in the seventh, are a winner.

In his last two games, Wells has 30 touches (26 rushes and four receptions) -- six more than his total for the Cardinals' first four games. The former Buckeye had 14 carries for 67 yards last week -- to starter Tim Hightower's 4-for-9 effort. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the latter is still his starter, but with a two-year average of 2.9 yards per carry and a season total of 167 yards rushing, you have to figure the job will be Wells' soon.

Wells should be considered a low-end No. 2 running back this week, since six teams are on a bye and the Cardinals will play host to the Panthers, who rank 26th against the run. Even better: Arizona's next five opponents are Carolina, Chicago (No. 18 vs. the run), Seattle (No. 14), St. Louis (No. 27) and Tennessee (No. 9). The five teams have allowed a combined 33 rushing touchdowns in 31 games.

Hightower, who has 31 catches for 239 yards, is only an asset in point-per-reception leagues. Soon, he might not be anything more than a No. 4 fantasy back.

Marching to a familiar beat: Another team with a favorable upcoming schedule and a confusing running-back situation is the undefeated Saints, who are so prolific and so generous the only fantasy givens are quarterback Drew Brees and receiver Marques Colston.

In the last two weeks, running back Mike Bell has 27 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown, including a 12-for-80 effort last week. Pierre Thomas -- who ran for 212 yards and three touchdowns in Weeks 3 and 4, when Bell was out because of a knee injury -- has 23 carries for 102 yards in that two-game span. Then there's Reggie Bush, who no longer gets more than seven or eight touches per contest, but has scored a TD in each of his last two games.

Since the Saints are averaging 427.3 total yards and 39.7 points per game, I'd expect them to stick with what works, which is dividing the majority of the carries between Bell and Thomas, with Bush getting a handful, along with a few catches.

All of which makes Bell and Thomas no better than a No. 3 running back, but the pair will be enticing the next four weeks, when New Orleans faces Atlanta (No. 19 vs. the run), Carolina (No. 26), St. Louis (No. 27) and Tampa Bay (No. 29). Both can be considered low-end No. 2 backs if bye weeks have wreaked their usual havoc on your roster.

LeChange in Philly: Brian Westbrook missed practiced again Thursday, and it seems more and more likely the Eagles running back will sit out Sunday's game against the Giants, who, surprisingly, have allowed more rushing touchdowns (10) than all but the Raiders and Rams this season. If Westbrook sits, rookie LeSean McCoy can be counted on to be a No. 2 back, especially in PPR leagues. When Westbrook missed the Eagles' 34-14 win over the Chiefs in Week 3, McCoy had 20 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Start 'em

-- Sidney Rice, not Bernard Berrian or Percy Harvin, is the Vikings' most productive receiver. He has 33 catches for 545 yards and two TDs in seven games, and 16 catches for 312 yards in his last two. He should now be considered an every-week regular.

-- No longer just a return specialist (sorry, Josh Cribbs), the Bears' Devin Hester has 14 catches for 184 yards and a TD in his last two games. Up this week: the Browns, who rank 28th vs. the pass and No. 32 overall.

Sit 'em

-- Braylon Edwards is back to his old tricks in his new home. Aftter a productive first game with the Jets (a five-catch, 64-yard, one-TD performance at Miami on "Monday Night Football"), the former Browns wideout has four receptions for 54 yards and zero TDs the last two weeks. I can only come up with two reasons to play him this week: the opponent again is Miami, and with six teams off, you probably have to start the butterfingered one.

-- Terrell Owens has been even more quiet on the fantasy front than in the throwing-his-quarterback-under-the-bus department this season. In his first season with the Bills, T.O. has yet to have more than 60 yards receiving in a game, he has one TD all season and none in his last five contests. Has he lost a step? Should he be blasting Ryan Fitzpatrick? Whatever the answer, Owens is a No. 3 receiver only in weeks in which byes are a factor.

Drop 'em

If you need the roster space, it's time to bid adieu to Browns running back Jamal Lewis (zero touchdowns, only one game with more than 57 rushing yards), Jets tight end Dustin Keller (three catches for 42 yards in his last three games), Cowboys running back Tashard Choice (who's not a factor in Dallas' backfield as long as both Marion Barber and Felix Jones are healthy) and Dolphins receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (five catches for 77 yards and a TD in his last four games).

On deck: Saturday, we'll look at the projected impact of a pair of young running backs who will now play prominent roles -- the Jets' Shonn Greene and the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles. The weekly column for the print editions will be posted on the Sports section of the News-Herald's Web site, and the link will also include our weekly audiocast. Saturday, we'll also have the "big blog," with start-and-sit advice, injury updates and an expanded playlist. That will be published in this space and on the N-H's Sports site.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fantasy football: Injury updates, start-and-sit advice, expanded playlist and more for Week 7

A few quick updates before we get to the start-and-sit lists:

-- The Cowboys are expected to have all three running backs at their disposal for Sunday's game against the Falcons. Marion Barber (strained quad and fractured thumb) is expected to start and get the most carries, but how Dallas will use both Felix Jones, who is returning from a knee injury, and the productive Tashard Choice is anyone's guess. Barber seems to be the only semi-safe play, since Choice likely will be relegated to the No. 3 role.

-- Braylon Edwards (quad injury) will play for the Jets, but fellow receiver Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) will not.

-- Cowboys receiver Roy Williams is expected to return from a rib injury, and Cardinals wideout Anquan Boldin should play through an ankle injury. Boldin could be a game-time decision, which limits his value and increases that of teammate Steve Breaston should the former sit.

-- You know it's the first week in which six teams have a bye when the 18th-, 19th- and 20th-ranked quarterbacks on the playlist are Chad Henne, Jake Delhomme and Mark Sanchez, who threw five interceptions last week. Hey, it was either them or Jason Campbell, Derek Anderson, Marc Bulger, Josh Johnson, Ryan Fitzpatrick and/or JaMarcus Russell.

On to the start-and-sit advice ...

Five to start

This week’s look at part-time starters and fantasy backups who should benefit from a favorable matchup:

-- Eli Manning, QB, Giants, vs. Cardinals: The position is so loaded that he's a backup in many leagues, but he's throw 10 touchdown passes in his last five games, and the Cardinals are the league's second-worst defense against the pass.

-- Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots, vs. Buccaneers at London:
He ran for 123 yards and a touchdown last week, his first big game in two years, and he should get the bulk of the work with Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor injured. The Bucs are awful at stopping the run (No. 31, 171.7 rushing yards per game, six rushing TDs allowed).

-- Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills, at Panthers: In the last two weeks, he's had 44 touches (36 rushes and eight catches) to Fred Jackson's 30 (28 rushes and two receptions). Lynch could have his first breakout game of the season against the Panthers, who rank 29th vs. the run.

-- Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys, vs. Falcons:
He's now a starter in Dallas after catching 10 passes for 250 yards and two TDs in Week 6, and he should be in your fake team's lineup against the Falcons' 21st-ranked pass defense.

-- Austin Collie, WR, Colts, at Rams: Anthony Gonzalez is out another week because of a knee injury, which is good news for owners of this impressive rookie. Collie has caught 14 passes for 162 yards and three scores in Indy's last two games, and the Rams are the league's sixth-worst defending the pass.

More matchups I like:

Tony Romo, QB, Dallas, vs. Falcons; Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles, at Redskins; Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers, vs. Bills; Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants, vs. Cardinals; Lance Moore, WR, Saints, at Dolphins

Three to sit

If you have a decent backup, these starters should take a seat for a week:

-- Brett Favre, QB, Vikings, at Steelers:
With 11 TDs in his last five games, he's surpringly been a regular starter, but I would play another QB against the Steelers.

-- Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants, vs. Cardinals: He's rushed for 67 yards or fewer in four of six games, and he's scored only one TD all season. The Cardinals are the league's best against the run.

-- Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers, vs. Patriots at London: It's a stretch to even consider him a starter, but with six teams off this week, he will certainly be in a number of lineups. I wouldn't play the Caddy against the Pats, who should limit his touches by jumping out to a big early lead.

More matchups I don’t like:

Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals, at Giants (but I'd only bench him if I had a very productive backup); Lee Evans, WR, Bills, at Panthers

Last week

The start list had one hit in Brian Westbrook (50 yards rushing, nine catches for 91 yards) and one decent call in Carson Palmer (259 yards passing, one TD and one interception). Braylon Edwards (three catches for 40 yards), Santana Moss (one reception for 42 yards) and Matt Hasselbeck (112 yards passing and one interception) were all duds.

The sit list was 4-for-4, as Eli Manning (178 yards passing, one TD, one interception), Julius Jones (five yards rushing), Jamal Lewis (21 yards rushing and two catches for 15 yards) and Mohamed Massaquoi (five receptions for 83 yards) failed to reach double figures in points in standard formats.


1. Peyton Manning, Colts, at Rams (No. 27 vs. the pass)
2. Tom Brady, Patriots, vs. Buccaneers at London (No. 11)
3. Drew Brees, Saints, at Dolphins (No. 18)
4. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, at Browns (No. 23)
5. Philip Rivers, Chargers, at Chiefs (No. 25)
6. Matt Schaub, Texans, vs. 49ers (No. 20)
7. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, vs. Vikings (No. 24)
8. Eli Manning, Giants, vs. Cardinals (No. 31)
9. Matt Ryan, Falcons, at Cowboys (No. 26)
10. Jay Cutler, Bears, at Bengals (No. 28)
11. Tony Romo, Cowboys, vs. Falcons (No. 21)
12. Kurt Warner, Cardinals, at Giants (No. 1)
13. Donovan McNabb, Eagles, at Redskins (No. 3)
14. Carson Palmer, Bengals, vs. Bears (tied for No. 14)
15. Brett Favre, Vikings, at Steelers (No. 12)
16. Matt Cassel, Chiefs, vs. Chargers (No. 13)
17. Shaun Hill, 49ers, at Texans (No. 19)
18. Chad Henne, Dolphins, vs. Saints (tied for No. 14)
19. Jake Delhomme, Panthers, vs. Bills (No. 4)
20. Mark Sanchez, Jets, at Raiders (No. 16)

1. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers, vs. Bills (No. 32 vs. the run)
2. Frank Gore, 49ers, at Texans (No. 24)
3. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins, vs. Saints (No. 5)
4. Ryan Grant, Packers, at Browns (No. 30)
5. Brian Westbrook, Eagles, at Redskins (No. 22)
6. Joseph Addai, Colts, at Rams (No. 26)
7. Thomas Jones, Jets, at Raiders (No. 28)
8. Cedric Benson, Bengals, vs. Bears (No. 6)
9. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, at Steelers (No. 2)
10. Michael Turner, Falcons, at Cowboys (No. 17)
11. Steve Slaton, Texans, vs. 49ers (No. 7)
12. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, at Chiefs (No. 25)
13. Matt Forte, Bears, at Bengals (No. 11)
14. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, vs. Vikings (No. 9)
15. Steven Jackson, Rams, vs. Colts (No. 14)
16. Clinton Portis, Redskins, vs. Eagles (No. 15)
17. Tim Hightower, Cardinals, at Giants (No. 18)
18. Pierre Thomas, Saints, at Dolphins (No. 3)
19. Laurence Maroney, Patriots, vs. Buccaneers at London (No. 31)
20. Marion Barber, Cowboys, vs. Falcons (No. 23)
21. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants, vs. Cardinals (No. 1)
22. Marshawn Lynch, Bills, at Panthers (No. 29)
23. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers, vs. Bills (No. 32)
24. Larry Johnson, Chiefs, vs. Chargers (No. 27)

1. Randy Moss, Patriots, vs. Buccaneers at London (No. 11 vs. the pass)
2. Reggie Wayne, Colts, at Rams (No. 27)
3. Andre Johnson, Texans, vs. 49ers (No. 20)
4. Wes Welker, Patriots, vs. Buccaneers at London (No. 11)
5. Hines Ward, Steelers, vs. Vikings (No. 24)
6. Marques Colston, Saints, at Dolphins (No. 18)
7. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, at Giants (No. 1)
8. Roddy White, Falcons, at Cowboys (No. 26)
9. Steve Smith, Giants, vs. Cardinals (No. 31)
10. Donald Driver, Packers, at Browns (No. 23)
11. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals, vs. Bears (tied for No. 14)
12. Vincent Jackson, Chargers, at Chiefs (No. 25)
13. Santonio Holmes, Steelers, vs. Vikings (No. 24)
14. DeSean Jackson, Eagles, at Redskins (No. 3)
15. Greg Jennings, Packers, at Browns (No. 23)
16. Miles Austin, Cowboys, vs. Falcons (No. 21)
17. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs, vs. Chargers (No. 13)
18. Mario Manningham, Giants, vs. Cardinals (No. 31)
19. Steve Smith, Panthers, vs. Bills (No. 4)
20. x-Anquan Boldin, Cardinals, at Giants (No. 1)
21. Austin Collie, Colts, at Rams (No. 27)
22. Braylon Edwards, Jets, at Raiders (No. 16)
23. Santana Moss, Redskins, vs. Eagles (No. 5)
24. Sidney Rice, Vikings, at Steelers (No. 12)
25. Terrell Owens, Bills, at Panthers (No. 2)
26. Roy Williams, Cowboys, vs. Falcons (No. 21)
27. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers, vs. Patriots at London (No. 6)
28. Hakeem Nicks, Giants, vs. Cardinals (No. 31)
29. Bernard Berrian, Vikings, at Steelers (No. 12)
30. Devin Hester, Bears, at Bengals (No. 28)
31. Steve Breaston, Cardinals, at Giants (No. 1)
32. Donnie Avery, Rams, vs. Colts (No. 9)
33. Lance Moore, Saints, at Dolphins (No. 18)
34. Ted Ginn Jr., Dolphins, vs. Saints (tied for No. 14)
35. Kevin Walter, Texans, vs. 49ers (No. 20)
36. Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns, vs. Packers (No. 10)
x-Make sure Boldin (ankle injury) is active.

MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL: For a breakdown of fantasy's most productive position this season, a link that also includes our weekly audiocast, click here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fantasy football: No-huddle offense for Week 7

Michael Crabtree built quite a following of detractors during his seemingly senseless contract holdout. In the next few weeks, the 49ers receiver has a chance to get some of the critics back on his side.

"Some" being us fantasy football owners who can be swayed by the simple things -- catches, yards and touchdowns.

Crabtree, who didn't sign until Oct. 6, is expected to start Sunday at Houston. Big things were expected of the rookie after the draft; now, we'll be happy if he's better than Josh Morgan (and he can't get worse than Isaac Bruce).

Crabtree is owned in only 30 percent of the leagues on, but he's worth a look in deeper leagues and should be scooped up in all keeper formats.

I wouldn't play him Sunday, although the matchup against the Texans' 19th-ranked pass defense is favorable. But I wouldn't be surprised if he was a decent starter in the coming weeks, when the 49ers face the bottom four teams in the league in pass defense -- Week 9 at Tennessee (No. 32 vs. the pass), Week 12 vs. Jacksonville (No. 30), Week 14 at Arizona (No. 31) and Week 16 vs. Detroit (No. 29). The Titans (19), Lions (17) and Jaguars (12) have allowed a combined 48 touchdown passes in 18 games, which bodes well for Crabtree.

And if you think the 49ers are rushing him by starting him 19 days after he signed, here are three numbers for you: 26, 369, 1. Those are the combined catches, yards and touchdowns for San Francisco starting receivers Morgan and Bruce in five games, which together are one fewer catch, 58 more yards and one fewer TD than Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who has Jason Campbell as his QB.

Start 'em

-- We should know better than to get our hopes up, but LaDainian Tomlinson showed glimpses of the old L.T. on Monday night. Granted, he rushed for only 70 yards on 18 carries, had three catches for 30 yards and didn't score a touchdown, but he actually looked healthy for the first time since the opener. If you hesitated to play L.T. last week, I don't blame you, but he should return to your lineup the next two weeks. In that span, the Chargers play at the Chiefs (No. 27 vs. the run) and at home against the Raiders (No. 29). Combined, the teams are allowing 275.6 yards per game and have surrendered 13 rushing TDs.

-- Last Sunday night was a microcosm of Matt Forte's season. Jay Cutler and the Bears were moving the ball through the air, and Forte did nothing on the ground. And just when you got your hopes up, he fumbled twice near the goal line, failing to salvage an awful night by at least scoring a touchdown (wait, can you tell I drafted Forte third overall in the News-Herald PPR league?). As bad as he's been (294 yards rushing, 3.4 yards per carry, one TD), I would still play Forte the next two weeks, when Chicago plays at an Antwan Odom-less Cincinnati and at home against the Browns and their extremely generous run defense (No. 30, 165.3 yards per game, nine rushing TDs by the opposition).

Sit him

-- If you played Broncos receiver Eddie Royal on Monday night, we can only hope you also had Denver's defense and special teams, since that's probably the only way you received credit for Royal's kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns. Denver is off this week, then plays at Baltimore and at home vs. Pittsburgh. At this point, Royal, who had 91 catches as a rookie last season, can't be trusted. He's had one productive game (10 catches for 90 yards in Week 5) and five contests in which he's caught a combined eight passes for 58 yards, and he hasn't scored a TD other than on special teams all season.

Drop 'em

-- If you need the roster space with six teams on a bye in Week 7, running back Willis McGahee, whose Ravens have the week off, should be a prime candidate to go the way of any employee who fails to pay a fine imposed by Eric Mangini. In his last three games, McGahee has 13 carries for 12 yards and 15 touches total. Ray Rice has developed into one of the top two or three backs in PPR leagues, and McGahee will be lucky to get double-digit carries in any game the rest of the way.

-- Vikings rookie receiver Percy Harvin, who scored a touchdown in each of his first two NFL games, hasn't scored since and has had more than 51 receiving only once in Minnesota's last four contests. The electric rookie has also been bothered by a sore shoulder and has been the Vikings' fourth receiving option as Sidney Rice (18 catches for 363 yards and two TDs in his last four games) and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (11 receptions and four TDs in his last three contests) have flourished. If you have limited room on your roster, call Harvin into your office and send him on his way (you have to be better at it than the Bengals' turk on "Hard Knocks").

Stat of the week

One: As in 100-yard games for Laurence Maroney since the start of the 2008 season. The Patriots running back finally got the lion's share of the workload last week with Fred Taylor out and Sammy Morris banged up, rushing for 123 yards and a TD on 16 carries and catching three passes for 10 yards.

If there was ever a week to play Maroney (well, other than last Sunday), this would seem to be it. The Patriots face the winless Buccaneers in London, and Morris is likely to sit because of a knee injury (Taylor has already been ruled out). Tampa Bay ranks 31st against the run, giving up 171.7 rushing yards per game and 4.9 yards per attempt.

Can Maroney -- gasp -- record two 100-yard games in a row? Since he's a running back for the Patriots and Bill Belichick seems to take joy in giving four backs five to eight carries each, we can never be certain.

Still, I like Maroney's odds.

The way this season has gone, expect Tom Brady to throw for 500 yards and BenJarvus Green-Ellis to be New England's leading rusher with 24 yards on five carries.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fantasy football: Injury updates, start-and-sit advice, expanded playlist and more for Week 6

The bye weeks are wreaking havoc on our lineups, but at least injuries shouldn't this week.

The most significant ailment is a knee injury that might sideline Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. In the playlist that follows, we're going with the assumption that Johnson will sit after missing practice all week. If he is active, start him, since the Lions should be doing plenty of passing at Lambeau Field.

-- Two more quick updates: Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery likely will miss Sunday's game against the Bills because of a hamstring injury, and Cardinals receiver Steve Breaston has been limited by a knee injury but is expected to play.

Five to start

This week’s look at part-time starters and fantasy backups who should benefit from a favorable matchup:

-- Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks, vs. Cardinals:
He threw for 241 yards and four touchdowns last week in his return from a rib injury, and he has seven touchdowns in two starts at home this season. The Cardinals' pass defense is the league's worst.

-- Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals, vs. Texans: He's been clutch in Cincinnati's 4-1 start, but with a 76.9 rating and only one more touchdown pass than interceptions thrown (7-6), he hasn't been much of a fantasy starter. That should change against the Texans.

-- Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles, at Raiders: We've grown accustomed to him constantly being banged up, but we're not used to his lack of production. That should change this week against the Raiders, who rank 31st against the run and have given up seven TDs on the ground.

-- Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets, vs. Bills:
As Browns fans know all too well, Edwards scored his first TD of the season on Monday night -- in his first game wearing the green and white. Expect another solid performance with Cotchery likely on the inactive list.

-- Santana Moss, WR, Redskins, vs. Chiefs: He's usually boom (10 catches for 178 yards and a TD in Week 3) or bust (11 catches for 159 yards and one TD in Washington's other four games). The Chiefs (No. 29 vs. the pass, 10 TD tosses allowed) should bring out the good Moss.

More matchups I like: David Garrard, QB, Jaguars, vs. Rams; Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills, at Jets; Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars, vs. Rams; Nate Burleson, WR, Seahawks, vs. Cardinals; Kevin Walter, WR, Texans, at Bengals; Donnie Avery, WR, Rams, at Jaguars; Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles, at Raiders

Three (and a bonus Browns player) to sit

If you have a decent backup, these starters should take a seat for a week:

-- Eli Manning, QB, Giants, at Saints: It seems crazy to bench a quarterback who has thrown nine TD passes and only one interception in his last four games, but Manning is slightly hobbled by a foot injury and the Saints have 10 picks while allowing only three scoring passes. If you have two good quarterbacks, play the other.

-- Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks, vs. Cardinals: After scoring three touchdowns in the first three weeks, he has rushed for 59 yards and hasn't scored in Seattle's last two games. The latter trend shouldn't change vs. the league's top-ranked run defense.

-- Jamal Lewis, Mohamed Massaquoi and every other Browns player, at Steelers:
Lewis was very good last week, and Massaquoi was a disappointment in his first game as the Browns' No. 1 receiver. Neither should be an option against Pittsburgh, which gets Troy Polamalu back for the first time in five games.

More matchups I don’t like: Drew Brees, QB, Saints, vs. Giants (but I still wouldn't bench him); Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens, at Vikings; LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers, vs. Broncos

Last week

On the start list, Rashard Mendenhall (77 yards rushing, one TD, two catches for 16 yards) was productive, Tim Hightower (17 yards rushing, one TD, five catches for 30 yards) was decent in PPR leagues, and MIke SIms-Walker was benched, reportedly for missing curfew on Friday night. The other two members of the quintet -- David Garrard (188 yards passing, zero TDs, zero picks) and Pierre Garcon (one catch for 9 yards) -- were duds.

The latter description could also be used for a sit list of Matt Ryan (329 yards, two TDs, one interception, one rushing TD), Cedric Benson (120 yards, one TD, two catches for 16 yards) and Eddie Royal (10 receptions for 90 yards).


1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, vs. Lions (No. 27 vs. the pass)
2. Tom Brady, Patriots, vs. Titans (No. 31)
3. Donovan McNabb, Eagles, at Raiders (No. 15)
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, vs. Browns (No. 14)
5. Drew Brees, Saints, vs. Giants (No. 1)
6. Kurt Warner, Cardinals, at Seahawks (No. 9)
7. Matt Schaub, Texans, at Bengals (No. 23)
8. Jay Cutler, Bears, at Falcons (No. 22)
9. Matt Ryan, Falcons, vs. Bears (No. 20)
10. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks, vs. Cardinals (No. 32)
11. Carson Palmer, Bengals, vs. Texans (No. 16)
12. Philip Rivers, Chargers, vs. Broncos (No. 5)
13. Eli Manning, Giants, at Saints (No. 11)
14. Kyle Orton, Broncos, at Chargers (No. 12)
15. Matt Cassel, Chiefs, at Redskins (No. 3)
16. David Garrard, Jaguars, vs. Rams (No. 25)
17. Joe Flacco, Ravens, at Vikings (No. 18)
18. Brett Favre, Vikings, vs. Ravens (No. 26)
19. Mark Sanchez, Jets, vs. Bills (No. 6)
20. Jason Campbell, Redskins, vs. Chiefs (No. 29)


1. Cedric Benson, Bengals, vs. Texans (No. 26 vs. the run)
2. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars, vs. Rams (No. 23)
3. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers, at Buccaneers (No. 28)
4. Matt Forte, Bears, at Falcons (No. 24)
5. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, at Chargers (No. 27)
6. Michael Turner, Falcons, vs. Bears (No. 9)
7. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, vs. Ravens (No. 4)
8. Chris Johnson, Titans, at Patriots (No. 11)
9. Pierre Thomas, Saints, vs. Giants (No. 15)
10. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, vs. Browns (No. 32)
11. Ryan Grant, Packers, vs. Lions (No. 21)
12. Brian Westbrook, Eagles, at Raiders (No. 31)
13. Clinton Portis, Redskins, vs. Chiefs (No. 25)
14. Steven Jackson, Rams, at Jaguars (No. 18)
15. Ray Rice, Ravens, at Vikings (No. 10)
16. Steve Slaton, Texans, at Bengals (No. 12)
17. Kevin Smith, Lions, at Packers (No. 20)
18. Brandon Jacobs, Giants, at Saints (No. 7)
19. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, vs. Broncos (No. 6)
20. Marshawn Lynch, Bills, at Jets (No. 19)
21. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants, at Saints (No. 7)
22. Sammy Morris, Patriots, vs. Titans (No. 3)
23. Tim Hightower, Cardinals, at Seahawks (No. 17)
24. Larry Johnson, Chiefs, at Redskins (No. 25)

1. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, at Seahawks (No. 9 vs. the pass)
2. Randy Moss, Patriots, vs. Titans (No. 31)
3. Greg Jennings, Packers, vs. Lions (No. 27)
4. Andre Johnson, Texans, at Bengals (No. 23)
5. Roddy White, Falcons, vs. Bears (No. 20)
6. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals, at Seahawks (No. 9)
7. Wes Welker, Patriots, vs. Titans (No. 31)
8. Brandon Marshall, Broncos, at Chargers (No. 12)
9. Steve Smith, Panthers, at Buccaneers (No. 21)
10. Hines Ward, Steelers, vs. Browns (No. 10)
11. Steve Smith, Giants, at Saints (No. 11)
12. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals, vs. Texans (No. 16)
13. Vincent Jackson, Chargers, vs. Broncos (No. 5)
14. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks, vs. Cardinals (No. 32)
15. Donald Driver, Packers, vs. Lions (No. 27)
16. Marques Colston, Saints, vs. Giants (No. 1)
17. DeSean Jackson, Eagles, at Raiders (No. 15)
18. Nate Burleson, Seahawks, vs. Cardinals (No. 32)
19. Santonio Holmes, Steelers, vs. Browns (No. 10)
20. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs, at Redskins (No. 3)
21. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars, vs. Rams (No. 25)
22. Santana Moss, Redskins, vs. Chiefs (No. 29)
23. Derrick Mason, Ravens, at Vikings (No. 18)
24. Braylon Edwards, Jets, vs. Bills (No. 6)
25. Mario Manningham, Giants, at Saints (No. 11)
26. Terrell Owens, Bills, at Jets (No. 8)
27. Eddie Royal, Broncos, at Chargers (No. 12)
28. Kevin Walter, Texans, at Bengals (No. 23)
29. Bernard Berrian, Vikings, vs. Ravens (No. 26)
30. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers, vs. Panthers (No. 2)
31. Donnie Avery, Rams, at Jaguars (No. 25)
32. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles, at Raiders (No. 15)
33. Torry Holt, Jaguars, vs. Rams (No. 25)
34. Devin Hester, Bears, at Falcons (No. 22)
35. Steve Breaston, Cardinals, at Seahawks (No. 9)
36. Bryant Johnson, Lions, at Packers (No. 17)

MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL: To read this week's column, which includes some of the wacky early season trends I'm buying and selling, click here. The link also includes this week's audiocast, in which Sports Editor Mark Podolski and I redraft the top 15 picks. You'll never guess who's No. 2.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fantasy football: No-huddle offense for Week 6

Have the first five weeks been crazy enough for you?

Saturday, we'll do an expanded buy and sell, with five trends I believe in, and five I don't. That column will be posted on the Sports section of the News-Herald's Web site.

Let's address two more disappointments here.

The Packers' Greg Jennings, a consensus top-five fantasy receiver entering the season, and the Panthers' DeAngelo Williams, a top-five running back on many boards, have many owners wondering if their slow starts will instead be a season-long start-or-sit dilemma.

Jennings, who had 80 receptions for 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns last season, was productive in Week 1 (six receptions for 106 yards and a TD). In Week 2, he was shut out; in Week 3, he had two catches, and in Week 4, he had three -- good (bad?) for a three-game total of five receptions for 134 yards and no TDs.

In that same span, teammate Donald Driver has 14 catches for 249 yards and two TDs. For the season, Driver has seven more catches than Jennings (18 to 11), 48 more yards (288-240) and one more score (2-1).

Before you decide to sit Jennings, consider that a primary reason for his struggles likely is the Packers' offensive line, which might as well have Browns right tackle John St. Clair manning all five positions. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 20 times, and his best deep threat (Jennings) has been boom (three receptions of 50-plus yards) or bust (every other snap).

The good news for fantasy owners: The Packers' next two games are Sunday at home against the Lions (No. 27 vs. the pass at 244.6 yards per game and a league-worst 15 TD passes allowed) and next week at the Browns.

If Jennings isn't productive the next two weeks, then it's time to worry.

Same goes for Williams, who has rushed for only 220 yards, averaging 3.7 yards per carry, and two TDs in four games. The same back who ran for 1,515 yards and scored 20 times last season has 104 yards and zero scores in his last two games. And Williams can't even blame Jonathan Stewart, who has only 33 attempts in four games, for having a big impact on his workload.

Your ire instead you should be directed at Jake Delhomme, whose eight interceptions have sabotaged the running game faster than Justin Bobby can kill a relationship (wait, you don't watch "The Hills"?).

The Panthers' next two games are Sunday at Tampa Bay (No. 28 vs. the run at 152.6 yards per game) and next week at home vs. Buffalo (No. 29, 154.6 rushing yards per game allowed).

Start Williams and hope Delhomme doesn't get in the way.

On to the no-huddle ...

-- Having a ball: Congratulations to Greg Kuhlman of Perry, who was one of six Week 1 winners of a Larry Fitzgerald autographed football in an contest. The Web site and the Cardinals wide receiver are giving away an autographed ball for every pass the Pro Bowler catches this year, and Kuhlman was one of the lucky recipients for the opening weekend.

Click here for more information on the contest.

-- Grand Royal?:
Wide receiver Eddie Royal, who had eight receptions for 58 yards in the Broncos' first four games, had 10 catches for 90 yards against the Patriots last week.

Before you put him back in your starting lineup, here's a stat: Denver QB Kyle Orton threw 50 times on Sunday, and five players caught four or more passes. If you have four solid receivers and you play in yardage- and TD-heavy scoring formats, you might want to make Royal prove Week 5 was legit, since Sunday's opponent, San Diego, ranks sixth against the pass. In PPR leagues, however, Royal -- who has yet to score a touchdown in 2009 and had only five among his 91 catches as a rookie last season -- should be a safe start.

-- Running in place: Guess we should have seen this coming. Seattle's Julius Jones, one of the more pleasant surprises of the first three weeks, has rushed for 59 yards and zero TDs on 23 carries the last two games. Sunday, the Seahawks face the Cardinals, the league's top-ranked run defense at 71.0 yards per game (Arizona is allowing just 2.9 yards per carry; I checked the stats twice to make sure I had those numbers right). You don't need me to tell you that doesn't bode well for Thomas Jones' kid brother.

-- By now, you're sitting Larry Johnson. At what point do you drop him?

-- Here's hoping you have dropped Lee Evans and/or Laveranues Coles, who have combined for 22 catches and one TD in nine games.

-- We'll be back Saturday with the aforementioned column, which will also include our weekly audiocast. This week, Mark Podolski and I redraft for Round 1. We'll also have the "big blog" for Week 6, with start-and-sit advice, an expanded playlist and the usual injury updates. That will be posted in this space and on the N-H's Sports site.

Good luck and remember to thank the owner ahead of you in your draft who selected Domenik Hixon over Steve Smith (the one who doesn't have Delhomme as his quarterback).

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fantasy football: Injury updates, start-and-sit advice, expanded playlist and more for Week 5

Before we get to the usual start-and-sit advice and expanded playlist, we'll begin with what has become another weekly staple -- injury updates.

-- Giants quarterback Eli Manning practiced Friday and is expected to be a game-time decision because of a heel injury. The Giants host the Raiders on Sunday at 1 p.m., which gives you time to decide on an alternative if Manning is inactive. If he starts, I would play him.

-- Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (rib injury) is expected to play, and he has a favorable matchup at home against the Jaguars (No. 18 vs. the pass). Consider him an upper-level No. 2 QB this week.

-- Running backs Brian Westbrook (ankle), Marion Barber (quadriceps), Kevin Smith (shoulder), Jamal Lewis (hamstring) and Derrick Ward (knee) are all expected to play. Westbrook likely will share carries with rookie LeSean McCoy, and Barber will split the workload with Tashard Choice. Lewis' injury should mean more work for Jerome Harrison, and Ward probably won't get as many touches as Cadillac Williams. Smith is the Lions' workhorse, but he has a bad matchup against the Steelers, who rank fourth vs. the run.

-- Clinton Portis wasn't listed on the Redskins' injury report this week and could have a productive day against the Panthers and their 26th-ranked run defense.

-- Willie Parker will sit for a second consecutive week, which should mean two straight big games by Rashard Mendenhall. The Steelers play at Detroit, which ranks 21st defending the run.

-- Wide receivers Derrick Mason (neck), Wes Welker (knee), Antonio Bryant (knee) and Steve Breaston (knee) were limited in practice this week but are expected to play. Mason is probable, and Welker, Bryant and Breaston are questionable. Of the four, I would worry about Welker's status the most, since he's already been a surprise scratch this season. Make sure he is active before kickoff.

-- Dallas receiver Roy Williams is doubtful, which should mean more opportunities for Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin against a Chiefs pass defense that ranks 29th in the league. Crayton is a decent option as a No. 3 receiver this week.

-- Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery missed practice Friday because of a hamstring injury, and Coach Rex Ryan told reporters he might be forced to sit Monday night. Ryan said he still thought Cotchery would play, but the wideout is a risky start because the schedule doesn't allow you many replacement options if Cotchery is a late scratch. The news gives disgruntled Braylon Edwards owners more reason to play the former Brown in his first game as a Jet.

Five to start

This week’s look at part-time starters and fantasy backups who should benefit from a favorable matchup:

-- David Garrard, QB, and Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars, at Seahawks: Garrard has thrown for 819 yards and five touchdowns, rushed for 94 yards and one score and thrown only one interception in the last three games. That’s a span that coincides with Walker’s rise to prominence (19 catches for 278 yards and three TDs the last three weeks). Seattle ranks 18th against the pass.

-- Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers, at Lions:
He finally lived up to his draft billing last week in his first career start (165 yards rushing, two touchdowns and two receptions for 26 yards). With Willie Parker out again because of turf toe, Mendenhall should have another big game against the league’s No. 21 run defense.

-- Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals, vs. Texans:
He’s rushed for only 109 yards in three games, but he has 20 receptions for 172 yards and gets to face a Texans defense that ranks 30th vs. the run.

-- Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts, at Titans: The Mount Union product has six catches for 135 yards and a TD the last two weeks, and he's had long touchdowns (48 and 53 yards) in two of the last three games.

More matchups I like:

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys, at Chiefs; Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets, at Dolphins; Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, RBs, Bills, vs. Browns; Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens, vs. Bengals; Terrell Owens, WR, Bills, vs. Browns; Nate Burleson, WR, Seahawks, vs. Jaguars; Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets, at Dolphins; Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns, at Bills; Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings, at Rams

Three to sit

If you have a decent backup, these starters should take a seat for a week:

-- Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons, at 49ers: The second-year stud has two productive games and one no-show thus far. I wouldn’t expect a third big day against the 49ers, who rank 11th vs. the pass and have allowed only 53 points in four games.

-- Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals, at Ravens:
He’s been one of the early season surprises (367 yards rushing, two TDs), but there aren’t many backs I would start against the league’s top run defense. Baltimore is allowing only 59.5 yards rushing per game and 2.6 yards per carry.

-- Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos, vs. Patriots:
He has eight catches for 58 yards in four games, so it really doesn’t matter how good the Patriots are vs. the pass (by the way, not bad — No. 8).

More matchups I don’t like: Kevin Smith, RB, Lions, vs. Steelers; Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward, RBs, Buccaneers, at Eagles; any Dolphins receiver vs. the Jets

Last week

The start list had two hits in Carson Palmer (230 yards passing, two touchdowns, one interception and 20 yards rushing) and Joseph Addai (46 yards rushing, seven catches for 50 yards and a touchdown) and one decent play in Glen Coffee (74 yards rushing, four catches for 32 yards). The other two — Knowshon Moreno (65 yards rushing, two receptions for 11 yards) and Kevin Walter (one catch for 41 yards) — were duds.

The sit list was 2-for-3, with Marshawn Lynch (4 yards rushing, five catches for 43 yards) and Willis McGahee (24 total yards, one catch, one TD) not reaching double digits in points. Ray Rice (103 yards rushing, five catches for 49 yards), however, was not a good call.



1. Peyton Manning, Colts, at Titans (tied for No. 31 vs. the pass)

2. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, at Lions (No. 27)

3. Donovan McNabb, Eagles, at Buccaneers (No. 19)

4. Tom Brady, Patriots, at Broncos (No. 4)

5. Joe Flacco, Ravens, vs. Bengals (No. 28)

6. Matt Schaub, Texans, at Cardinals (tied for No. 11)

7. Kurt Warner, Cardinals, vs. Texans (No. 10)

8. x-Eli Manning, Giants, vs. Raiders (No. 13)

9. David Garrard, Jaguars, at Seahawks (No. 18)

10. Brett Favre, Vikings, at Rams (No. 21)

11. Carson Palmer, Bengals, at Ravens (No. 25)

12. Tony Romo, Cowboys, at Chiefs (No. 29)

13. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks, vs. Jaguars (No. 18)

14. Mark Sanchez, Jets, at Dolphins (No. 26)

15. Matt Cassel, Chiefs, vs. Cowboys (No. 30)

16. Matt Ryan, Falcons, at 49ers (tied for No. 11)

17. Shaun Hill, 49ers, vs. Falcons (No. 7)

18. Kyle Orton, Broncos, vs. Patriots (No. 8)

19. Trent Edwards, Bills, vs. Browns (tied for No. 23)

20. Jason Campbell, Redskins, at Panthers (No. 3)

x-Make sure Manning (heel injury) is active.


1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, at Rams (No. 25 vs. the run)

2. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars, at Seahawks (No. 22)

3. Brian Westbrook, Eagles, vs. Buccaneers (No. 31)

4. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers, vs. Redskins (No. 23)

5. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, at Lions (No. 21)

6. Marion Barber, Cowboys, at Chiefs (No. 24)

7. Brandon Jacobs, Giants, vs. Raiders (No. 27)

8. Chris Johnson, Titans, vs. Colts (17)

9. Steve Slaton, Texans, at Cardinals (No. 2)

10. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins, vs. Jets (No. 14)

11. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, vs. Patriots (No. 12)

12. Joseph Addai, Colts, at Titans (No. 8)

13. Ray Rice, Ravens, vs. Bengals (No. 16)

14. Michael Turner, Falcons, at 49ers (No. 5)

15. Steven Jackson, Rams, vs. Vikings (No. 10)

16. Thomas Jones, Jets, at Dolphins (No. 14)

17. Clinton Portis, Redskins, at Panthers (No. 26)

18. Tim Hightower, Cardinals, vs. Texans (No. 30)

19. Fred Jackson, Bills, vs. Browns (No. 32)

20. Glen Coffee, 49ers, vs. Falcons (No. 15)

21. Willis McGahee, Ravens, vs. Bengals (No. 16)

22. Julius Jones, Seahawks, vs. Jaguars (No. 23)

23. Marshawn Lynch, Bills, vs. Browns (No. 32)

24. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants, vs. Raiders (No. 27)


1. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, vs. Texans (tied for No. 11 vs. the pass)

2. Reggie Wayne, Colts, at Titans (tied for No. 31)

3. Andre Johnson, Texans, at Cardinals (tied for No. 11)

4. Steve Smith, Giants, vs. Raiders (No. 13)

5. DeSean Jackson, Eagles, vs. Buccaneers (No. 19)

6. Hines Ward, Steelers, at Lions (No. 27)

7. Randy Moss, Patriots, at Broncos (No. 4)

8. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals, vs. Texans (No. 10)

9. Steve Smith, Panthers, vs. Redskins (No. 5)

10. Roddy White, Falcons, at 49ers (tied for No. 11)

11. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs, vs. Cowboys (No. 30)

12. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals, at Ravens (No. 25)

13. Derrick Mason, Ravens, vs. Bengals (No. 28)

14. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks, vs. Jaguars (tied for No. 31)

15. Santonio Holmes, Steelers, at Lions (No. 27)

16. Calvin Johnson, Lions, vs. Steelers (No. 17)

17. Brandon Marshall, Broncos, vs. Patriots (No. 8)

18. Terrell Owens, Cowboys, vs. Browns (tied for No. 23)

19. Mario Manningham, Giants, vs. Raiders

20. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars, at Seahawks (No. 18)

21. x-Wes Welker, Patriots, at Broncos (No. 4)

22. Bernard Berrian, Vikings, at Rams (No. 21)

23. Santana Moss, Redskins, at Panthers (No. 23)

24. Nate Burleson, Seahawks, vs. Jaguars (tied for No. 31)

25. Pierre Garcon, Colts, at Titans (tied for No. 31)

26. Kevin Walter, Texans, at Cardinals (tied for No. 11)

27. Braylon Edwards, Jets, at Dolphins (No. 26)

28. x-Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers, at Eagles (No. 2)

29. Kenny Britt, Titans, vs. Colts (No. 9)

30. Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns, at Bills (tied for No. 23)

31. Sidney Rice, Vikings, at Rams (No. 21)

32. Patrick Crayton, Dolphins, at Chiefs (No. 29)

33. x-Jerricho Cotchery, Jets, at Dolphins (No. 26)

34. Lee Evans, Bills, vs. Browns (tied for No. 23)

35. Torry Holt, Jaguars, at Seahawks (No. 18)

36. Michael Jenkins, Falcons, at 49ers (No. 11)

x-Make sure Welker (knee), Bryant (knee) and Cotchery (hamstring) are active.

MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL: To read observations about the first four weeks of the season, including eight of the biggest surprises, click here for today’s column. The link also includes our weekly audiocast.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fantasy football: Braylon Edwards trade and no-huddle offense for Week 5

If you're a Browns fan -- or the biggest LeBron James supporter this side of The Four Horsemen -- you might have been thrilled with the Braylon Edwards trade.

If you're a disgruntled fantasy owner who wasted a fourth-round pick on the butterfingered one, there's hope.

We might never again see the Edwards of 2007. The Jets better hope they don't see the Edwards of '08. I'd expect something in the middle -- think new teammate Jerricho Cotchery, only with slightly fewer receptions and more touchdowns.

If Edwards had stayed in Cleveland, he was destined for your bench after a four-game stretch in which he was good once (six catches for 92 yards in Week 2) and bad on three occasions (a combined four catches for 47 yards in Weeks 1, 3 and 4). Now, I'd be tempted to start him right away with the Jets.

Edwards is expected to open Monday night's game at Miami with the first team, and the Dolphins have struggled against the pass (No. 26 in the league). Following that matchup, the Jets play at the Raiders (No. 13 vs. the pass), against the Dolphins at home and, after a bye week, at home vs. the Jaguars (tied for last against the pass).

With apologies to Mohamed Massaquoi and Jerome Harrison, the Jets have a few more weapons to take the heat off Edwards.

If you have four solid receivers, you can afford to wait and see how much of an impact Edwards makes in the Big Apple. If your fourth receiver is on par with the likes of Massaquoi or Pierre Garcon, I'd take the chance that the former Brown will have a big game on ESPN.

Somewhere Eric Mangini is plotting his next $1,701 fine.

On to the no-huddle ...

-- Taylor-made: Just when it seemed as if we had the Patriots' running back situation figured out, news breaks that Fred Taylor will have ankle surgery and be out for an extended period. That leaves those of us looking for bye-week help contemplating the value of Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris.

Of the three, I'd expect Maroney to get the most carries, Faulk to get the most catches and Morris to be the most productive.

The latter rushed for 727 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, last season. Faulk is worth considering only in point-per-receptions leagues, a format in which he was quite effective as a bye-week flex play last season, when he rushed for 507 yards, caught 58 passes for 486 yards and scored six TDs.

Maroney, meanwhile, is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma covered by a Bill Belichick news conference. The 2006 first-round pick has 55 carries for 171 yards (3.1) and no touchdowns in seven games the last two seasons.

None of the three are good plays this week at Denver (No. 6 vs. the run, No. 4 vs. the pass and the top scoring defense in the league). If I had to pick one, though, I'd go with Morris.

-- McNothin: Darren McFadden has a torn meniscus and will miss 2 to 4 weeks, leaving the vaunted Michael Bush-Justin Fargas duo to do the heavy lifting for the Raiders on Sunday at the Giants.

Bush is expected to start, but I'd rather play a Patriot than one of these two at the Meadowlands. The Giants have been susceptible against the run (No. 27), but playing Bush or McFadden would assume the Raiders (the No. 26 rushing offense, the No. 32 passing offense and the owners of the second-fewest points in the league) know how to do anything offensively.

If you're like me and you made the brilliant move of drafting three running backs who have a Week 5 bye (Matt Forte, Ryan Grant and Reggie Bush), you might have to choose a Raider. If that's the case, Bush, who has 125 carries for 541 yards (4.3) in two NFL seasons, is the better option.

Fargas might rush for more yards (he had 1,009 in 2007), but he's no threat as a receiver and he's scored all of seven touchdowns in his career. In 679 touches since 2006, Fargas has six TDs.

-- WR showdown: Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, both first-round fantasy picks before the season, go head-to-head Sunday in a battle of players who haven't lived up to expectations.

Fitzgerald hasn't had more than 76 yards receiving in any of the Cardinals' first three games, and he has 181 yards for the year. Johnson, meanwhile, has one huge game to his credit (10 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns in Week 2) and three mediocre showings (a combined 10 catches for 187 yards and no scores in Weeks 1, 3 and 4).

Both the Texans (No. 10) and Cardinals (tied for 11th) have been effective defending the pass, but here's a hunch: You'll be feeling a lot better about your top receiver after Sunday.

Let's set Sunday's combined over-under for Fitzgerald and Johnson at 16 catches, 220 yards and two TDs.

-- Split feelings: In 2008, we had the DeAngelo Williams-Jonathan Stewart backfield -- a shared workload that actually worked from a fantasy perspective. This year, we present ... the 1-3 Miami Dolphins.

You already know about Ronnie Brown, a No. 2 fantasy back who has rushed for 369 yards, averaged 5.1 yards per carry, caught six passes for 50 yards and scored four TDs. But are you aware that Ricky Williams has only one fewer TD than Brown (three), two more receptions, 12 more receiving yards and 248 yards on the ground, with an average of 5.0 yards per attempt? Williams is an ideal flex play for weeks in which you were dumb enough to draft three backs with the same bye week (no names, please).

-- Closing number:
Our stat of the week goes to the quarterback formerly known as Neckbeard.

In four games since being traded to Denver in the largely unpopular Jay Cutler deal, Kyle Orton is 4-0 and is on pace to throw for 3,624 and 20 touchdowns, with a 97.7 rating and zero turnovers. If only his next four games weren't against the Patriots, Chargers, Ravens and Steelers.

-- On deck:
Saturday, we'll look at the must-starts, must-sits and other tidbits at the quarter-point of the season in our weekly column, which will be published on our Sports site and include the weekly audiocast. Saturday, I will also have the "big blog," with the expanded playlist and more start-and-sit advice. That will be posted here and on the N-H's Sports site.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fantasy football: Start and sit, expanded playlist and more for Week 4

Before we get to the start-and-sit advice and expanded playlist, here are a few quick injury updates:

-- LaDainian Tomlinson (ankle) and Marion Barber (quadriceps) are expected to play Sunday. Tomlinson is no better than a low-end No. 2 running back against the Steelers, who rank sixth against the run. Barber is a decent play, but ESPN is reporting Tashard Choice will get the majority of the work. Since we officially have entered bye-week season, both backs should be considered No. 2 options.

-- Bucs running back Derrick Ward (knee) seems likely to sit this week, which is good news for Cadillac Williams owners in a game against the Redskins (No. 22 vs. the run). Same goes for anyone who picked up Ladell Betts, who should get the start against the Bucs if Clinton Portis (ankle and calf injuries) sits. Coach Jim Zorn said Portis is "50-50" for the matchup against a Tampa Bay run defense that is the league's second-worst.

-- Steelers running back Willie Parker is doubtful because of turf toe, which should clear the way for Rashard Mendenhall to get the most work of his career. Sunday's opponent, the Chargers, rank 26th vs. the run and have allowed four rushing touchdowns.

-- Lions running back Kevin Smith said he expects to play with a shoulder injury. Sunday's matchup at the Bears (No. 13 vs. the run) isn't favorable.

-- Two upper-echelon receivers, New England's Wes Welker (knee) and Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe (hamstring), likely will be game-time decisions. I would start both if they are active.

Five to start

This week’s look at part-time starters and fantasy backups who should benefit from a favorable matchup:

-- Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals, at Browns:
His yardage total the last two weeks (368) isn’t impressive, but Palmer has thrown four TD passes in that span and should be good for a couple scores against the Browns.

-- Glen Coffee, RB, 49ers, vs. Rams: The rookie takes over for the injured Frank Gore for a couple weeks, and he’s lucky enough to make his first start against the Rams’ 27th-ranked run defense.

-- Joseph Addai, Colts, vs. Seahawks: I don’t think this former first-round fantasy pick will be the Colts’ top back for long, but he should be an effective play against Seattle’s No. 25 run defense.

-- Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, vs. Cowboys: The rookie has rushed for 165 yards and a TD on 38 carries the last two weeks, and he might reach 100 yards for the first time in his career against the Cowboys (No. 17 vs. the run).

-- Kevin Walter, WR, Texans, vs. Raiders: He had seven catches for 96 yards and a TD in his first game back from a hamstring injury, and he should make it two productive games in a row vs. Oakland.

More matchups I like:

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets, at Saints; Shaun Hill, QB, 49ers, vs. Rams; Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks, at Colts; Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers, at Redskins; Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers, vs. Chargers; Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders, at Texans; Santana Moss, WR, Redskins, vs. Buccaneers; Nate Burleson, WR, Seahawks, at Colts; Devin Hester, WR, Bears, vs. Lions; Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts, vs. Seahawks; Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars, vs. Titans

Three to sit

If you have a decent backup, these starters should take a seat for a week:

-- Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens, at Patriots: The pair have combined for 382 yards rushing, seven touchdowns (six by McGahee) and 17 receptions, but don’t anticipate more of the same vs. the Patriots, who rank 10th against the run and sixth vs. the pass.

-- Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills, at Dolphins: He has a very favorable matchup for his season debut (the Dolphins rank 26th in stopping the run), but I would expect Lynch to take a back seat to the productive Fred Jackson for at least one more week.

More matchups I don’t like:

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs, vs. Giants; Thomas Jones, RB, Jets, at Saints; Fred Taylor, RB, Patriots, vs. Ravens; Darren Sproles, RB, Chargers, vs. Steelers; Kevin Smith, RB, Lions, at Bears

Last week

Let’s just say we’ve had better start lists. Willis McGahee (67 yards rushing, two touchdowns) and Eli Manning (167 yards passing, two TDs, 9 rushing yards) were productive. Trent Edwards (156 yards passing, 13 yards rushing, one interception), Devery Henderson (three receptions for 40 yards) and Darren Sproles (41 yards rushing, two catches for 14 yards) were duds.

The sit list was 2-for-3, as Thomas Jones (20 yards rushing, one catch for 2 yards) and Lee Evans (four receptions for 31 yards) were good calls, and Joseph Addai (63 yards rushing, three catches for 8 yards and a TD) was not.


1. Peyton Manning, Colts, vs. Seahawks (No. 7 vs. the pass)
2. Jay Cutler, Bears, vs. Lions (No. 30)
3. Drew Brees, Saints, vs. Jets (No. 5)
4. Matt Schaub, Texans, vs. Raiders (No. 14)
5. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, at Vikings (No. 4)
6. Eli Manning, Giants, at Chiefs (No. 20)
7. Tom Brady, Patriots, vs. Ravens (No. 17)
8. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, vs. Chargers (No. 8)
9. Philip Rivers, Chargers, at Steelers (No. 15)
10. Carson Palmer, Bengals, at Browns (No. 16)
11. Tony Romo, Cowboys, at Broncos (No. 2)
12. Mark Sanchez, Jets, at Saints (No. 22)
13. Joe Flacco, Ravens, at Patriots (No. 6)
14. Shaun Hill, 49ers, vs. Rams (No. 25)
15. Kyle Orton, Broncos, vs. Cowboys (No. 27)
16. Brett Favre, Vikings, vs. Packers (No. 13)
17. David Garrard, Jaguars, vs. Titans (No. 29)
18. Matt Cassel, Texans, vs. Giants (No. 1)
19. Trent Edwards, Bills, at Dolphins (No. 26)
20. Kerry Collins, Titans, at Jaguars (No. 32)
1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, vs. Packers (No. 23 vs. the run)
2. Matt Forte, Bears, vs. Lions (No. 16)
3. Chris Johnson, Titans, at Jaguars (No. 14)
4. Steve Slaton, Texans, vs. Raiders (No. 28)
5. Brandon Jacobs, Giants, at Chiefs (No. 19)
6. Cedric Benson, Bears, at Browns (No. 30)
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars, vs. Titans (No. 2)
8. Steven Jackson, Rams, at 49ers (No. 28)
9. Glen Coffee, 49ers, vs. Rams (No. 27)
10. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins, vs Bills (No. 18)
11. Ryan Grant, Packers, at Vikings (No. 12)
12. Joseph Addai, Colts, vs. Seahawks (No. 25)
13. Julius Jones, Seahawks, at Colts (No. 21)
14. Fred Jackson, Bills, at Dolphins (No. 3)
15. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, vs. Cowboys (No. 17)
16. x-Clinton Portis or Ladell Betts, Redskins, vs. Buccaneers (No. 31)
17. Tashard Choice, Cowboys, at Broncos (No. 7)
18. Darren McFadden, Raiders, at Texans (No. 32)
19. Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers, at Redskins (No. 22)
20. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, vs. Chargers (No. 26)
21. Marion Barber, Cowboys, at Broncos (No. 7)
22. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, at Steelers (No. 6)
23. Larry Johnson, Chiefs, vs. Giants (No. 20)
24. Thomas Jones, Jets, at Saints
x-If Portis is active, start him. Betts should only be used if Portis is out.
1. Andre Johnson, Texans, vs. Raiders (No. 14 vs. pass)
2. Reggie Wayne, Colts, vs. Seahawks (No. 7)
3. Randy Moss, Patriots, vs. Ravens (No. 17)
4. Marques Colston, Saints, vs. Jets (No. 5)
5. Steve Smith, Giants, at Chiefs (No. 20)
6. Greg Jennings, Packers, at Vikings (No. 4)
7. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals, at Browns (No. 16)
8. Calvin Johnson, Lions, at Bears (No. 12)
9. Donald Driver, Packers, at Vikings (No. 4)
10. Vincent Jackson, Chargers, at Steelers (No. 15)
11. Mario Manningham, Giants, at Chiefs (No. 20)
12. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets, at Saints (No. 22)
13. Hines Ward, Steelers, vs. Chargers (No. 8)
14. Santana Moss, Redskins, vs. Buccaneers (No. 21)
15. Brandon Marshall, Broncos, vs. Cowboys
16. Kevin Walter, Texans, vs. Raiders (No. 14)
17. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks, at Colts (No. 10)
18. Terrell Owens, Cowboys, at Dolphins (No. 26)
19. Santonio Holmes, Steelers, vs. Chargers (No. 8)
20. Nate Burleson, Seahawks, at Colts (No. 10)
21. Braylon Edwards, Browns, vs. Bengals (No. 19)
22. Derrick Mason, Ravens, at Patriots (No. 6)
23. Devin Hester, Bears, vs. Lions (No. 30)
24. Roy Williams, Cowboys, at Broncos (No. 2)
25. x-Wes Welker, Patriots, vs. Ravens (No. 17)
26. Bernard Berrian, Vikings, vs. Packers (No. 13)
27. Pierre Garcon, Colts, vs. Seahawks (No. 7)
28. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars, vs. Titans (No. 29)
29. Eddie Royal, Broncos, vs Cowboys (No. 27)
30. Earl Bennett, Bears, vs. Lions (No. 30)
31. x-Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs, vs. Giants (No. 1)
32. Justin Gage, Titans, at Jaguars (No. 32)
33. Torry Holt, Jaguars, vs. Titans (No. 29)
34. Ted Ginn Jr., Dolphins, vs. Bills (No. 28)
35. Devery Henderson, Saints, vs. Jets (No. 5)
36. Lee Evans, Bills, at Dolphins (No. 26)
x-Make sure the banged-up Welker and Bowe are active.

MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL: For my breakdown of the chances for success of Glen Coffee, Tashard Choice and more young running backs, click here. The link also includes our weekly fantasy football audiocast.

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