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Wednesday, 10 September 2008 11:23
NFL Headline News

 Lost Brady? Beware lopsided trade offers
AP GRAPHIC FANTASY FOOTBALL LOGO
By JOHN McFARLAND
Associated Press Writer
So there you were on the NFL's opening day, all fat and happy with New England's Tom Brady as your fantasy football quarterback, ready to sit back and watch another 50 touchdowns roll in.
Now, with Brady's year done 50 TDs short of that total, the only thing rolling in is a string of ridiculous trade offers.
Brady's injury not only shook up the NFL. It also turned some fantasy owners into buzzards circling over the poor sap who lost Brady, shamelessly offering up underwhelming trades to the presumably desperate team.
If you're that poor sap, the best thing you can do is calm down. Don't accept those ludicrous offers, especially the good old two-for-one special we've all heard before. (``Come on, I'll give you BOTH Philip Rivers AND Chester Taylor for Willie Parker. You replace Brady and get TWO guys! How can you go wrong?'') You're better off fishing from the waiver wire.
y. (After trying to cash in on a cheap two-for-one, of course.)
As you welcome in the glorious Matt Cassel era, here's a look at some players to start in Week 2, some to avoid and some long shots that just may pan out:
QUARTERBACKS:
A SAFE BET
-Take a shot on Cassel, even though he may feel a bit naked out there without his clipboard. He's already learned that key New England lesson: Throw it as hard and high and far as you can, and Randy Moss will bail you out.
-The question in St. Louis is whether the Giants' Eli Manning throws four touchdowns before the Rams fire coach Scott Linehan. Manning had 296 yards and four scores last time he faced the Rams, in 2005, and they're way worse now.
-The Lions let a rookie do anything he wanted in his first career start, so imagine how easy things will be for Green Bay's Aaron Rogers in his second career start. (If we must always compare, last year Brett Favre had 381 yards and three scores in Detroit.)
-Both guys are worth a start in Denver. Jay Cutler had no TDs and three INTs against the Chargers last year, but he was struggling with diabetes at the time. Rivers, coming off a three-TD game, had three scores and no interceptions against the Broncos last year.
-Kansas City's offense is terrible but should be less terrible with Damon Huard and the controls against ultra-terrible Oakland. Huard had 22 scores off the bench the past two seasons - plus it's neat that he kind of looks like that guy from ``Friends.''
TAKE A SHOT
-How can I suggest a spare part like Huard without a nod to career spare Kerry Collins? He doesn't have much help in Tennessee but faces a Bengals defense lit up last week by several Ravens who aren't really known publicly.
BACK AWAY SLOWLY AND NOBODY GETS HURT
Please, in the name of Rohan Davey, don't start these guys:
-In a daring kneejerk reaction, I'm declaring the Bengals done for the year, thanks to an offense that's turned downright silly. In his past six games, Carson Palmer has had three games with no touchdowns and two with only one score. He also has six interceptions in that span.
-Jacksonville's David Garrard has been solid and healthy as a starter, but he's never been doing it without three starting lineman before. (Not to mention no real receivers.)
-The miracles end this week for the heartwarming rookies, as Baltimore's Joe Flacco runs into Mario Williams and Atlanta's Matt Ryan gets his first look at Tampa's defense.
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RUNNING BACKS
ALL DAY LONG
-Start Dallas' Marion Barber and don't sweat his health; bruised ribs are to this brute what the sniffles are to us humans who actually feel pain. The Eagles have held him to 28 yards a game the past two years, but not when he was the starter.
-We learned in the opener that Washington coach Jim Zorn's version of the West Coast offense consists of handoffs to Clinton Portis until third down, then a pass 4 yards short of the first down marker.
-The Colts' Joseph Addai is banged up and faces a Vikings defense that allegedly can stop the run. But the Colts have something to prove on the ground, and last week Minnesota didn't look like the league's best run-stoppers from a year ago.
-Please never listen to me again when I suggest benching rookie Matt Forte. Always start him blindly, even though the Bears don't have a line or quarterback and this week face a Panthers defense that kept LaDainian Tomlinson out of the end zone.
-Julius Jones wasn't much in his Seattle debut, but co-starter Maurice Morris is out hurt and the Seahawks don't employ receivers anymore. They face a 49ers run defense that Arizona shoved up and down the field last week.
HE COULD FIND A SEAM
-Try a guy from New England, Sammy Morris or Laurence Maroney. Either could be a bust if you guess wrong or if Bill Belichick decides Cassel should throw 60 times, but you'd at least think they'll see more carries.
RED FLAGS
. You're smarter than fantasy football players, OK? We won't even bother drafting your Denver running backs who seem to get carries based on names drawn from a hat.
-The lineless Jaguar backfield suddenly isn't so scary. Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor combined for 31 yards last week, and Buffalo's defense is much sturdier.
-Last week Chris Perry didn't look like much of a replacement for Rudi Johnson in Cincinnati. He might even look worse against the Titans.
---
WIDE RECEIVERS
THROW HIM THE DARN BALL!
-Even without Brady, Moss can never be benched. And it's probably too early to sit Wes Welker, considering Cassel will eventually notice how wide open the guy is every play.
-You just have to stay with the butterfingered Braylon Edwards, who dropped seemingly dozens of passes last week and now faces the ferocious Steelers. He won't do it again on national TV Sunday night.
-Is Lee Evans back to being a legitimate starter again? The Bills still don't seem totally sold on the forward pass, but when they do pass many seem to go deep to this 1,200-yard receiver of two years ago.
-Don't think Denver rookie Eddie Royal's 146-yard debut was a fluke with Brandon Marshall out suspended. He'll continue to be dangerous as Marshall returns to face double-coverage.
-Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe continues to produce without quarterbacks. (What's the state of things in Kansas City when the receivers say, ``Yay, we finally get Huard!'')
MAYBE THROW HIM THE DARN BALL?
-With New Orleans' Marques Colston out four to six weeks, either David Patten or Devery Henderson could have big numbers. Both are facing a Washington defense that was absolutely clueless in allowing Plaxico Burress 10 catches in the opener.
SHOW HIM THE DARN BENCH
-Bench Cincinnati's Ocho Cinco, who last week had the same number of gimmicky nicknames as receptions (uno of each). Again, to be clear, it's time to distance from any and all Bengals.
-Speaking of guys who were really great five years ago and opened the season with one reception, bench Torry Holt because the Rams are the biggest disaster outside Cincinnati.
-If I knew the names of the few remaining Seahawk receivers, I'd say bench them.
---
FREE AGENT SHOPPING LIST
Pick up these guys if they're available in your league: Broncos WR Eddie Royal (146 yards, TD), Patriots RB Sammy Morris (TD), Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (106 yards), Patriots QB Matt Cassel (152 yards, TD), Saints WR David Patten (TD), Saints WR Devery Henderson (TD), Saints RB Pierre Thomas (52 yards), Eagles WR Greg Lewis (104 yards), Courtney Taylor (last Seahawk WR standing), Jaguars WR Matt Jones (80 yards), Panthers TE Dante Rosario (96 yards, TD), Bills QB Trent Edwards (215 yards, TD), Ravens RB Le'Ron McClain (86 yards rushing), Chiefs QB Damon Huard (118 yards, TD).
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WHAT DO I KNOW?
Here's the best and worst of last week's projections:
Big Hits: I predicted big things from Michael Turner (220 yards, 2 TDs), Willie Parker (138 yards, 3 TDs) and Brett Favre (2 TDs). I thought DeSean Jackson (106 yards) might be worth a shot. I also advised avoiding Matt Hasselbeck (190 yards, INT, TD), Darren McFadden (57 yards, injury) and Roddy White (2 catches, 0 TDs).
Big Misses: I didn't think anybody could block for Matt Forte (123 yards, TD). I also greatly overestimated Ohio, endorsing Browns Derek Anderson (114 yards, TD) and Braylon Edwards (14 yards) and Bengals Carson Palmer (99 yards, INT) and Chris Perry (37 yards rushing). I thought Matt Schaub (TD rushing, TD passing) would flop.
 

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