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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, 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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