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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.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fantasy football: Week 8 injury updates

Before we get to the biggest ailments at running back, wide receiver and tight end, a quick bit of self-promotion.

In today's News-Herald, we broke down the current NFL quarterback landscape from a fantasy perspective. Here is the link.

On to the updates, which don't include Tony Romo, but do feature two guys named Pierre.

-- Colts running back Joseph Addai is doubtful because of a neck injury, leaving Donald Brown and Mike Hart to share the carries. If Brown, who has been limited because of a hamstring injury, is active (and he is expected to be), he is the better play. Hart, however, is the safest play because of Brown's iffy status and the fact the former Michigan standout has 22 carries for 93 yards and a TD in his last two games.

The Colts don't play until Monday night, which complicates things. Their opponent, the Texans, have allowed six rushing touchdowns in as many games.

-- Rams running back Steven Jackson was limited at practice Friday because of a finger injury. He expects to play against the Panthers, maybe because he knows they are allowing 128.5 rushing yards per game. If Jackson is active (the Rams play at 1 p.m. Sunday, so time isn't an issue), he's a must-start.

-- The news isn't as positive regarding Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, who is doubtful with a foot injury. Jonathan Stewart owners should hope Williams sits, since Stewart would finally get the majority of the carries. If Williams is out, Stewart should be a considered a No. 2 fantasy back.

-- Saints running back Pierre Thomas will sit again because of ankle injury, but impressive rookie Chris Ivory will have the unfortunate task of trying to pile up yards on the Steelers. Pittsburgh is the league's best run defense, allowing 63.7 rushing yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry. Ivory is better suited to be a flex play, but since six teams are off this weekend, you might be forced to play him as your No. 2 back. If you have two decent options at running back and three effective receivers who aren't on a bye, I'd sit Ivory.

-- Colts receiver Austin Collie is out, as expected, making Pierre Garcon a must-play against Houston, which is allowing a league-high 306 passing yards per game. If you're desperate for receiving help, consider Indy's Anthony Gonzalez, who is slated to play for the first time since Week 1 and should benefit from a Colts offense that will be without Collie and tight end Dallas Clark. Gonzalez is available in more than 96 percent of the leagues on

-- With both Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee doubtful for the Chargers because of hamstring injuries, Patrick Crayton again is worth starting. The former Cowboy has 13 receptions for 199 yards the last two weeks.

-- Patriots receiver Deion Branch is questionable with a hamstring injury. Since the Pats play the Vikings at 4:15 Sunday, he's probably not worth the risk.

-- Cardinals receiver Steve Breaston (knee) is expected to play for the first time since Week 3. I'd wait a week to see how Breaston performs, but Larry Fitgerald owners should be encouraged.

-- Tight ends Antonio Gates (toe) of the Chargers, Zach Miller (foot) of the Raiders and Chris Cooley (foot) of the Redskins are all questionable, but are in line to start.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fantasy football: Quick snaps from Week 7

We'll get to Tony Romo's possible season-ending injury later this week, but first let's take a quick look around the NFL from a fantasy standpoint after a Week 7 that was more high-scoring than an old-school Golden State Warriors game.

Start 'em

-- Dwayne Bowe, we'll give you the benefit of the doubt after catching nine passes for 189 yards and four touchdowns in the last two games. But like colleague Mark Podolski, I don't trust you, not after you had nine catches for 152 yards and one TD in the Chiefs' first four games.

-- Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers: He has 35 carries for 226 yards (6.5 average) and one TD in his last three games. He's only receiving about 15 touches per game, but he has made them count of late. In point-per-reception leagues, Jackson has been valuable the last few weeks (he has 11 catches for 100 yards in the three-game span).

-- Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks: He has 21 catches for 210 yards in his last two games. Maybe Pete Carroll knows what he's doing. Or was it Matt Millen?

Sit 'em

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears:
I give up. Cutler has thrown one TD pass and been picked off five times in his last three games. He had the reverse (five TDs and one pick) in his first two contests. He just got sacked while you read those two sentences.

-- Brent Celek, TE, Eagles: He was very productive last season (76 catches, 971 yards and eight TDs), but apparently Donovan McNabb took Celek's value with him to Washington. Celek has scored twice, and both passes were from Kevin Kolb, who will be benched in favor of Michael Vick when the Eagles return from their Week 8 bye. Celek has 229 yards in seven games.

Stock down

-- Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons:
Roddy White is so excellent Gonzalez is an afterthought. The game's most productive tight end ever has 29 catches for 292 yards and three TDs in seven games. He is on pace for 667 yards, which would be his fewest since 1998, his second NFL season. I wouldn't bench Gonzalez, but I would be concerned.

Player to watch

-- David Gettis, WR, Panthers: The rookie had eight catches for 125 yards and two TDs last week, and Carolina plays at St. Louis on Sunday. I wouldn't start Gettis, but he's worth monitoring with Matt Moore back as the starting QB.

Free-agent picks

Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson is somehow owned in only 14.1 percent of the leagues on, and he should be considered an every-week starter while Ryan Fitzpatrick is piling up numbers. Johnson has a touchdown in four straight games, capped by an eight-catch, 158-yard, one-TD performance Sunday at Baltimore.

Fitzpatrick has thrown for 594 yards and seven TDs in Buffalo's last two games. If you're desperate for a QB (Romo and Brett Favre owners?), he's worth a look, depending on the matchup.

Quick slants

-- Nice to have you back, Darren McFadden, but next time you plan on scoring four touchdowns, can you do us all a favor and make it look like you're going to be a big part of the game plan during the week?

-- That's seven TDs in five weeks for Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt, after he had five catches for 41 yards and no scores in his first two contests. I'd say he has a fighting chance of having a productive season. Thanks. I'll be here all week.

-- You can't bench him, but Ray Rice has only two TDs overall, and he has 24 catches for 139 yards on the year. The Ravens running back caught 78 passes for 702 yards last season.

Stats of the week

5: That's McNabb's number, and it's the reason Santana Moss seems to be rejuvenated. The Redskins receiver has 42 receptions for 548 yards and two TDs in seven games. He's on pace for 96 catches for 1,253 yards.

Moss has had only one 1,200-yard season -- a 1,483-yard career year in 2005. That is the only year in which he has had more than 79 catches (he had 84).

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fantasy football: QB replacement options

Two of the top eight quarterbacks -- Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub -- are on a bye this week, and Michael Vick (rib injury), David Garrard (concussion) and Vince Young (knee) are out or likely to be out.

Garrard and Young are emergency options anyway, but you might consider this week exactly that if you're 2-4 or 1-5 and have Manning on a bye, with the prospect of him returning to an offense that must do without Dallas Clark and Austin Collie.

As we did with a column for the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends for Friday's print and online editions, we'll break down the top quarterbacks who are available in more than half of the leagues on This will be blog style instead, but it won't be any less memorable.

1. Matthew Stafford, Lions (owned in 23 percent of the ESPN leagues): You'll have to wait a week, since Detroit is off Sunday, but it should be worthwhile. Stafford will return from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him since the opener to face the Redskins (No. 31 vs. the pass) in Week 8. The Jets (No. 22 vs. the pass) and Bills (11 touchdown passes allowed, the third-most in the league) follow. Then there's this: In Stafford's absence, Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton combined to throw for 1,542 yards and 10 touchdowns in 5 1/2 games.

2. Matt Cassel, Chiefs (24.7 percent): Granted he's had one or zero touchdown passes in three of his five games, but he's thrown for three scores in two of his last three. Even better: Kansas City's next three games are against the Jaguars (No. 28 vs. the pass, a league-high 14 TD passes allowed), Bills (11 TD passes allowed) and Raiders (12 TD passes allowed, the third-most in the league).

3. Alex Smith, 49ers (16.4 percent): In his first four games, the embattled top overall pick of the 2005 NFL draft had three TD passes and seven interceptions. In Smith's last two contests, he has five TDs and two picks. The 49ers' schedule is also favorable, beginning with a road game at Carolina and a home date vs. Denver (No. 26 vs. the pass) the next two weeks. Following a Week 9 bye, the 49ers will play host to the Rams (No. 20 vs. the pass) and Buccaneers (No. 16), followed by a game at Arizona (No. 26).

4. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers (14.4 percent): This is where it gets much more dicey. Freeman has a respectable passer rating (83.4) and has thrown only three picks in five games, but he has just 1,043 yards and six TDs. The schedule, however, is favorable -- a home game Sunday against the Rams (No. 26) and a Week 8 date at Arizona (No. 26).

5. Sam Bradford, Rams (29.7 percent): He's thrown one TD pass or fewer in four of six games, and his passer rating is 69.3. Translation: About what you would expect for a rookie. His growing pains should ease Sunday at Tampa Bay and in Week 8 at home against Carolina.

6. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks (19.5 percent):
How the mighty have fallen. Hasselbeck has three touchdowns and five interceptions in his last four games. The only positives for Hasselbeck from a fantasy perspective are the next two games on the schedule -- Sunday against the visiting Cardinals (No. 26) and next week at the Raiders (12 TD passes allowed).

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Fantasy football: Quick snaps from Week 6

Before we watch Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew go head-to-head tonight, and see whether Good Mike Sims-Walker (Weeks 2 and 4) or awful MSW (Weeks 1, 3 and 5) shows up under the watchful eyes of Jon "I Love Everyone" Gruden, let's get to some quick takes from the sixth Sunday of the NFL season.

-- Again, take your time, Clinton Portis. Those of us lucky enough to acquire Ryan Torain a few weeks ago are reaping the benefits. The Redskins running back had 20 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns Sunday night, and he has 210 yards and three TDs on the ground in his last three games. He's a No. 2 back in any format.

-- Welcome back, Dwayne Bowe (six receptions, 108 yards and two TDs), but I still don't trust you. The Chiefs receiver had nine receptions and one TD in his first four contests.

Start 'em

-- Colts receiver Pierre Garcon, who has 10 receptions for 160 yards and one TD the last two weeks. Viewed as a top-20 receiver entering the season, Garcon was upstaged by Austin Collie in Weeks 1 and 2 (the former Mount Union standout had a combined four catches for 54 yards in the two games), then sat the next two contests because of a hamstring injury. He seems healthy now, and Peyton Manning continues to prove he can keep everyone happy -- Collie, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark each had at least six catches Sunday night.

-- Patriots receiver Deion Branch, who had nine receptions for 98 yards and a TD in his first game back with Tom Brady. The Pats spread the ball around as much as the Colts, but Branch seems to be the safest wide receiver option other than PPR machine Wes Welker. The latter had seven catches in his first game post-Moss.

-- Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb, as long as Andy Reid keeps starting him, of course. In two games with Michael Vick out with a rib injury, Kolb has completed 73.3 percent of his passes (44 of 60) for 579 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception. Now healthy (Kolb suffered a concussion in Week 1, which led to Vick's resurgence), he seems to be a top-10 fantasy QB when in Philly's lineup.

-- If Dolphins receiver Davone Bess is still available in your league (he's somehow owned in fewer than 19 percent of the leagues on, pick him up and play him every week in PPR formats. Bess has 19 receptions for 219 yards and two TDs in his last three games.

Sit 'em

-- Broncos receiver Eddie Royal, who suffered a hamstring injury in Week 6 and has seven catches for 68 yards and zero TDs the last two games. Royal had a promising first four weeks (25 receptions for 299 yards and two TDs), but now seems to be the No. 3 option behind Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney.

-- Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, if you have the roster flexibility. Brown hasn't scored since Week 1, hasn't rushed for more than 80 yards in a game, and he has only 10 catches for 53 yards on the season. As a Brown owner, I also don't feel good about Ricky Williams' numbers the last two contests: 21 carries for 120 yards (5.7 average), five receptions for 44 yards and an average of 6.3 yards per touch.

Stock up

-- Seahawks receiver Mike Williams, who had 10 catches for 123 yards in his first game since Branch was traded to the Patriots. I wouldn't consider him an every-week starter (he had 11 receptions in his first four games), but Williams is the best fantasy receiving option on the Seahawks.

-- Lions receiver Nate Burleson, who has a touchdown in consecutive weeks and has 10 catches in that span. He is a No. 3 fantasy wideout.

Stock down

-- Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who has zero touchdowns and one interception in his last two games. If you have two quality quarterbacks -- say Kolb, Kyle Orton or Ben Roethlisberger -- I'd start any of the three over Cutler.

Stat of the week

43: Cowboys running back Felix Jones' touches in his last two games. Jones had 10 receptions in Week 6 and clearly is Dallas' top back, and Wade Phillips finally realized it -- or he was told that was the case by Lord Jerry Jones, Ruler Of The Annual Underachievers.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fantasy football: Week 6 injury updates

Kevin Kolb was impressive in place of Michael Vick last Sunday night, completing 21 of 31 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown in a 27-24 win at San Francisco.

Vick hasn't been ruled out this week, but it seems likely he'll sit for another game because of a rib injury. If that's the case, I'd consider Kolb a starter only in 14-team leagues.

The Falcons, Philly's opponent Sunday, have twice as many interceptions (10) as touchdown passes allowed (five) this season.

Let's take a quick look at some more notable injury predicaments owners are facing this weekend:

-- Raiders running back Darren McFadden is expected to return this week from a hamstring injury, but will be in a limited role. Sunday's opponent, the 49ers, haven't been great against the run -- San Francisco ranks 18th at 111.4 rushing yards allowed per game. McFadden had 392 rushing yards, 16 receptions for 162 yards and two total TDs in Oakland's first four games, but I wouldn't play him this week.

Michael Bush rushed for 104 yards and a TD on 26 carries in McFadden's absence last week, and he caught three passes for 31 yards. He is the better play of the two this week, but should still be considered a flex option at best.

-- Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno hasn't played the last three weeks because of a hamstring injury, and he doesn't seem likely to play Sunday. Until he returns, there isn't a Denver back worth starting. Correll Buckhalter has rushed for 62 yards on 32 carries (1.9 average) this season, and Laurence Maroney continues to disappoint (29 carries for 56 yards, 1.9 average in three games since he was acquired from the Patriots).

-- Saints running back Pierre Thomas likely will sit for the third consecutive game because of an ankle injury, again leaving the rushing chores to Chris Ivory and Ladell Betts. If you have to play one -- and it's better if you don't, obviously -- Betts is the more productive option because of his receiving ability. Ivory has rushed for 106 yards on 22 carries the last two weeks, and Betts has 23 carries for 91 yards and nine catches for 49 yards in that span. Neither has scored a touchdown this season.

-- The news is more favorable for the Colts' top rusher, Joseph Addai. He was limited in practice by a neck injury Wednesday and sat Thursday, but he said he expects to play Sunday night at Washington. The 8:30 start complicates the situation, but the Redskins are a decent matchup for opposing running backs (Washington ranks 19th against the run). If you have Addai and an available roster spot, pick up Mike Hart (who is available in more than 98 percent of the leagues on as a backup plan in case Addai is inactive Sunday night. Backup Donald Brown has been hampered by a hamstring injury, and Hart had 11 carries for 50 yards and a TD last week.

-- Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is expected to return from a concussion Sunday. He was awful in Week 4 before he was knocked out of the game by the Giants, but he threw for 870 yards and six touchdowns in Chicago's first three contests. I'd start him at home against the Seahawks, who rank 31st vs. the pass and are allowing 302 passing yards per game.

-- Lions receiver Calvin Johnson probably will be a game-time decision because of a shoulder injury. Detroit plays at 1 p.m. Sunday, so it's an easy fix if he's deactivated an hour before the game. I would recommend teammate Nate Burleson as a replacement, but he, too, is hindered by an injury. Burleson has been a limited participant in practice the last two days because of an ankle injury.

-- Peyton Hillis has been surprisingly prolific in his first five games with the Browns, but the combination of a leg injury and Sunday's matchup at Pittsburgh should put him on your bench this week. The Steelers' opponents have rushed 95 times for 249 yards (a 2.6 average) this season. Pittsburgh ranks No. 1 against the run.

-- On a non-injury note, the only winner, if there is such a thing in this case, in the Jerome Harrison-Mike Bell trade between the Browns and Eagles is Bell. Harrison might be the better player, but the reason Bell has done nothing this season is LeSean McCoy (365 yards rushing, five TDs, 28 receptions for 218 yards) has been the No. 1 running back in many PPR formats. Harrison likely will only be a factor if McCoy has a setback with his rib injury.

Bell was effective at times in 2006 with the Broncos (677 yards, eight TDs) and 2009 with the Saints (654 yards, five TDs). He figures to get more chances this season than Harrison.

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Fantasy football: Tight end replacement options

If you drafted Packers tight end Jermichael Finley -- or if you're like the owner in one of my leagues who made what looked like a lopsided deal for Finley (before karma struck like an unblocked Matt Roth) -- you probably figured you didn't need a backup at the position.

After four games, you had a tight end on pace for 84 receptions for 1,204 yards, aka PPR Gold. In Week 5, however, Finley suffered a knee injury and was scheduled for surgery this week that we were led to believe would sideline him for 3 to 6 weeks.

Later in the week we learned the damage to Finley's knee was worse than originally believed, and he could be done for the season.

If you're looking for a tight end on the waiver wire, here are eight who are owned in fewer than 50 percent of the leagues on

1. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions (owned in 7.8 percent of the ESPN leagues): His low ownership percentage is baffling, especially considering the 2009 first-round pick has at least six receptions in three of Detroit's five games and 91 yards or more in two of five contests. Pettigrew is on pace for 83 catches for 880 yards.

2. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots (44.1 percent):
The rookie has 17 receptions in his last three games, and the trade of Randy Moss should result in more targets and a quick end to his touchdown drought.

3. Tony Moeaki, Chiefs (11.9 percent): Another rookie, Moeaki has 16 catches for 173 yards and two TDs in four games. Dwayne Bowe has been so bad, Kansas City's best receiving threats are a tight end and a running back (Jamaal Charles).

4. Heath Miller, Steelers (46.1 percent):
We'll write more about Miller's increase in value because of Ben Roethlisberger's return in a column for Saturday's print and online editions, but here's a quick snippet: The tight end had 76 receptions for 789 yards and six TDs last season, but has been dropped in many leagues because the Steelers had the league's worst passing attack without their suspended QB.

5. John Carlson, Seahawks (23 percent):
He's not going to be a huge help in PPR formats, but Carlson can be expected to produce similar numbers to his stats from his first two NFL seasons (an average of 53 catches for 601 yards and six TDs in 2008 and '09).

6. Todd Heap, Ravens (19.8 percent): He had six receptions for 72 yards in Week 1, but has only 12 catches for 138 yards in four games since. At this point in his career, he's better suited to be a bye-week replacement option and not much more.

7. Benjamin Watson, Browns (4.6 percent): He has 20 receptions for 214 yards and one TD in his last four games. That's the good news. The bad: Rookie Colt McCoy will be his quarterback, and it might be for longer than this week's game at Pittsburgh.

8. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals (10.4 percent): Like Pettigrew, I'd expect Gresham to be a fantasy starter in Year 2, which in the latter's case is 2011. The 2010 first-round pick has had 35 receiving yards or fewer in four of five games, but is on pace for 70 catches.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Fantasy football: Quick snaps from Week 5

Before we hear a word or two about Brett Favre tonight -- and, for once, the ESPN crew will have to tell us something other than "he's having fun out there" and "Brett Favre is a competitor, and competitors like to compete" -- let's take a look back at another wild Sunday.

Some quick takes from Week 5:

-- Start 'em: Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis (five touchdowns in as many games, including three in the last two) and Rams receiver Danny Amendola. The latter is a must-play in point-per-reception formats after catching 12 passes for 95 yards on Sunday. With Mark Clayton (22 receptions for 300 yards and two TDs in the Rams' first four games) done for the season with a knee injury, Amendola is the team's best fantasy weapon aside from Steven Jackson.

-- Free-agent bin: Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson will be one of the most popular Week 6 pickups after catching four passes for 56 yards and one TD on Sunday. Burleson had only two catches for 23 yards in the first two weeks, then sat Detroit's next two games with an ankle injury. Calvin Johnson suffered a shoulder injury that has the Lions "very concerned," according to Coach Jim Schwartz, which could leave Burleson as Detroit's No. 1 wideout.

-- Drop 'em: Giants receiver Mario Manningham, who has been shut out the last two weeks.

-- You're still going to start Lions running back Jahvid Best, but your expectations should be sufficiently tempered after three consecutive games without a touchdown for the rookie. Best had five TDs the first two weeks -- a trend you knew was going to last about as long as Jon Gruden trying to hold back Favre praise.

-- I don't want to jinx it, but it seems Wade Phillips has finally realized Felix Jones (15 carries for 109 yards, four catches for 17 yards Sunday) is the Cowboys' best running back, not Marion Barber (six carries, 19 yards).

-- The We're Getting Impatient Department (which, incidentally, is co-chaired by Reggie Bush and Dwayne Bowe): Packers receiver Greg Jennings has six catches for 63 yards the last three weeks, with two receptions in each game. He's 17 yards shy of 200 for the year.

-- I don't believe in any Bears wide receiver. If Todd Collins is playing, the level of faith is reduced to Browns wide receiver level.

-- You don't need me to tell you the Panthers' anemic passing attack is crushing DeAngelo Williams' value. The running back has 35 carries for 201 yards in the last three games -- an impressive 5.7 yards-per-carry average. But it's hard to count on him week to week because of his lack of touches. Williams has one game with more than 16 touches, and he's scored one TD in five contests.

-- We're Getting Impatient, Take II: Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has had two productive games in five weeks, and one game with more than 241 yards passing.

-- Beanie Wells, we're waiting.

-- Almost as surprising as Felix Jones' expanded role: Cowboys teammate Roy Williams has had two productive games in a row (a combined 11 catches for 204 yards and three TDs). If you have bye-week issues, he's a decent No. 3 receiver.

-- That's more like it, Michael Crabtree.

-- Stats of the week: In four games since a huge Week 1 that was helped by garbage-time production in a 38-24 loss at New England, Chad Ochocinco has a combined 14 receptions for 157 yards and zero TDs. In the four-game span, the proud creator of "child please" hasn't had more than four catches and has failed to eclipse 59 yards in a contest.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fantasy football: Marshawn Lynch trade impact, more RB analysis

I know what you're thinking. What are we going to do without Julius Jones as a bye-week option to get 14 carries for 39 yards and no touchdowns now that he's been released by Seattle to make room for Marshawn Lynch?

Our condolences to Jones aside, the trade of Lynch from the Bills to the Seahawks helps the owners who hung on to the disappointing running back who totaled 2,151 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns, and caught 65 passes for 484 yards and one TD in his first two NFL seasons. The last two years, counting 2010, Lynch has rushed for 614 yards and scored two TDs in 17 games.

He should be the featured back for a team that's an improvement over the Bills (which team isn't?), but he's still likely no better than a No. 3 back in 12-team leagues.

As for new, old teammate Justin Forsett (the two played together at Cal), the back who had 36 carries and five receptions the last two weeks for the Seahawks is now a fantasy reserve in any format until we have a better idea of how the carries will be divided. The guess is Lynch will get most of the opportunities, and Forsett will be a third-down back who will get eight to 10 touches per game.

The Seahawks are off in Week 5, but the Bills are not. Lynch's former team will now give more chances to Fred Jackson, who rushed for 1,062 yards and caught 46 passes for 371 yards and scored four TDs in 2009. Jackson will share the load with rookie C.J. Spiller, who has been disappointing thus far (94 combined rushing and receiving yards, one receiving TD).

Sunday, the Bills will play host to the Jaguars, who rank 12th against the run but have allowed six rushing TDs (only Buffalo has given up more).

If you're looking for a second or third running back, Jackson is a decent start this week. I wouldn't play Spiller unless you're desperate.

Smooth Torain

Ryan Torain was one of the top targets on the waiver wire in many leagues this week, and the news got more encouraging Wednesday, when it was disclosed that Clinton Portis would miss 4 to 6 weeks with a groin injury.

Torain rushed for 70 yards and a TD in the Redskins' win over the Eagles in the McNabb Bowl, and the schedule during Portis' absence is favorable.

Sunday, Washington will host Green Bay (No. 25 vs. the run), followed by a home game against Indianapolis (No. 29 vs. the run, five rushing TDs allowed) and road games against Chicago (No. 8, five TDs) and Detroit (No. 26, five TDs). Torain is a top-20 back most weeks, and don't expect Portis to be ready after the Redskins' Week 9 bye.

Time to trade L.T.?

You already know a seemingly rejuvenated LaDainian Tomlinson is a must-start after scoring three touchdowns and averaging 6.1 yards per carry in his first four games with the Jets. But will he continue to be a top-10 back, as he is currently in point-per-reception formats?

That's doubtful, and you have to figure the Jets want to keep 25-year-old Shonn Greene heavily involved in the offense. The second-year back had 22 carries for 117 yards (to Tomlinson's 19 for 133 and two TDs) last week in the Jets' rout of Buffalo, and for the season, he has 54 touches to L.T.'s 68.

They should continue to share, and Tomlinson should continue to produce, but if you have a running-back surplus, you might want to explore trading Tomlinson.

Big name. A value that likely has reached its apex for a 31-year-old with almost 3,000 career carries.

Ideal trade bait.

Coming Friday: In the print editions and on the N-H's online sports section, we'll have a column analyzing the impact of Randy Moss' trade from the Patriots to the Vikings.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fantasy football: Quick snaps from Week 4

We'll get much more in-depth later this week, including the rising value of the re-energized LaDainian Tomlinson, but let's take a quick trip around the league as Week 4 ends, Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes get set to return, and Peyton Hillis makes Browns fans appreciate Brady Quinn more than any of us felt was possible.

-- Start 'em: Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew (21 receptions for 243 yards in his last three games).

-- I'm not in the Start Mark Sanchez Club (president: Brian Schottenheimer) yet, but I'm getting there. Sanchez has thrown for 637 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the Jets' last three games. The biggest beneficiary has been tight end Dustin Keller, who has 17 receptions for 241 yards and five TDs in that span and has been the best fantasy tight end not named Antonio Gates.

-- Sit 'em: Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, who had 10 receptions for 105 yards and a TD in Week 2, but was shut out in Weeks 1 and 4, and had two catches for 34 yards in Week 3.

-- Drop 'em: Browns running back Jerome Harrison (see Hillis, Peyton), Colts running back Donald Brown (only an asset if Joseph Addai is injured), Chargers receiver Legedu Naanee (huge Week 1, but one catch in two of his last three contests) and Texans running back Steve Slaton. Even with Arian Foster in the doghouse for almost two quarters on Sunday, Derrick Ward (12 carries, 80 yards, one TD) was the Texans' backfield choice, not Slaton, who had five carries for 37 yards in the game.

-- I'd consider dropping Packers running back Brandon Jackson, but wouldn't make the move yet. In three games with Ryan Grant out of the lineup, Jackson has 27 carries for 74 yards (2.7 average) and one TD. Green Bay fullback John Kuhn has almost as many attempts (24) in that span.

-- Stock up: Steelers receivers Hines Ward and Mike Wallace, once Roethlisberger starts against the Browns in Week 6 at Heinz Field.

-- Stock down: Saints receiver Marques Colston (zero TDs on the season; 61 yards combined in the last two weeks) and Giants receiver Steve Smith (zero TDs; 43 yards or fewer in three of four games).

-- I don't believe in Carson Palmer, but I am a fan of Brandon Lloyd for the first time.

-- Rams rookie Sam Bradford isn't an everyweek starter by any means, but he's at least a bye-week fill-in and decent backup after throwing for 524 yards and three TDs the last two weeks.

Stats of the week

-- Denver's Kyle Orton is on pace to throw for 5,676 yards and 24 touchdowns. We could be living in a fantasy football world in which Orton throws for 5,000 yards and Randy Moss fails to catch 50 passes from Tom Brady.

-- Bills running backs Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller combined to receive nine carries in a 38-14 home loss to the Jets. Spiller, chosen ninth overall in the 2010 NFL draft, has received all of seven carries in his last three games.

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