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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 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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