When Vince Young zipped into the end zone for an easy first-quarter touchdown run, fantasy football players everywhere rejoiced.
Finally, they hoped, Young was on his way to that long-delayed monster game. Instead, he again sputtered to victory last week with the usual feeble numbers: 110 yards passing, two interceptions, no TD throws.
This latest flop should be the last straw for fantasy owners who've been cleverly tucking Young away on the bench. It's time to face the sad reality that this sleeper has nothing, at least this year. He must be cut simply because his roster spot would be better used on free-agent gambles.
Scared to let go of a guy with so much upside? Just check out his downside. Halfway through the season, Young has three TD passes, eight interceptions, a high-schoolish 122 yards passing a game and meager rushing yardage.
In retrospect, even University of Texas fans should have seen it coming. He wasn't very accurate last year and had more interceptions (13) than TDs (12). Plus, the Titans entered the season with the perfect recipe for conservative play: no receivers, a gaggle of running backs and a brutal defense.
Yet Young's allure was understandable. While piling up 19 scores in 13 rookie starts, he appeared to have somewhat of an arm to complement his amazing running ability. After all, he threw for 26 TDs and ran for 12 in his final year at Texas.
As you settle for Tennessee wins instead of stats, here's a look at some players to start in Week 10, some to avoid, and a handful of long shots who just might pan out:
-So much for the run-first Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger has 11 touchdown passes in the past three games, and his 20 scoring throws rank him behind only Tom Brady (33). He drilled the Browns' NFL-worst pass defense for four scores earlier this year.
-Last we saw the Giants' Eli Manning, he was slogging through a British mudpit for 59 yards passing. But the last time we saw him against the Cowboys, he was going for 312 yards and four scores. He has eight TD passes in his last three games against Dallas.
-Green Bay's Brett Favre set the NFL TD record against the Vikings earlier this year and has recently developed the habit of launching 80-yard scores. And what are the odds of Minnesota playing good pass defense two games in a row?
-Marc Bulger could be a really good start this week. Seriously. The Rams are wretched and Bulger may not even make it the whole game, but the Saints' pass defense hasn't improved along with the rest of the team. (Quinn Gray for 354 yards?)
-I officially take back my apology for endorsing Buffalo's J.P. Losman, who may be OK after all. He almost went for 300 yards last week - usually two weeks of work for him - and faces a Miami team allowing a league-worst 30.5 points a game.
-Damon Huard is occasionally good for a couple of scores, but he could go off considering the Chiefs could have a limited running game and face an awful Denver defense.
Please, in the name of Billy Volek, don't start these guys:
-Remember when Donovan McNabb said the NFC East title goes through Philly? The Redskins should be the next to go plowing through the Eagles. (But do start McNabb if your league gives extra points for 4-yard passes to running backs.)
-San Diego's Philip Rivers will want to prove himself after becoming the only QB to be shut down by the Vikings, but he faces the Colts' No. 3 pass defense that made Tom Brady look only sort of superhuman last week.
-A good rule of thumb is to always start the quarterback facing the pathetic Bengals. A better rule of thumb is to never start Baltimore fumble machine Steve McNair.
-Kansas City's Priest Holmes may be 34 and coming back from a spinal cord injury, but have you seen Denver's defense? With Larry Johnson expected to miss the game, the NFL's worst run defense (161.5 yards a game) could make Holmes look like the 1,600-yard back of a few years ago.
-The Raiders have allowed 100-yard rushers in six of their eight games, and they've given up an NFL-high 12 running TDs. Even Chicago flop Cedric Benson can't miss this week!
-Speaking of the Raiders, about their only hope is to keep the ball away from the Bears. New starter Justin Fargas appears to be their only back capable of that, averaging 142 yards the two times he's gotten 20-plus carries.
-For some reason, you can only count on Carolina's DeShaun Foster when he plays Atlanta. He's only had six 100-yard games since 2005, and four have been against the Falcons. Three of his seven TD runs in that span have been against Atlanta.
-Buffalo's defense has tightened things up a bit, but Miami's Jesse Chatman should continue to do his Ronnie Brown Lite thing with lots of carries and receptions.
-Injuries and, well, lack of anything better to do forced Atlanta to feed little 32-year-old Warrick Dunn 27 carries last week. He faces a Panthers team that's become much easier to run on.
-If you're keeping track of Seattle's Shaun Alexander, you've noticed he hasn't hit 50 yards since September, hasn't scored since Week 2 and is averaging less than 2.6 yards a carry the past four games. Oh, and most of his body parts are broken.
-Opposite Alexander on Monday night is fellow fantasy nightmare Frank Gore, whose 49ers are going it without linemen or quarterbacks these days. Bench him until he proves he's back, if he ever does.
-The hot free agent of a couple weeks ago, Green Bay's Ryan Grant, isn't looking so hot against the Vikings' No. 2 run defense that stifled LaDainian Tomlinson last week.
-Arizona's Larry Fitzerald is due after barely missing 100 yards the past three weeks and missing a score Sunday only because he forgot about the out-of-bounds rules. He faces a Lions defense that surely can't be as awesome as it's looked recently.
-The Giants' Amani Toomer should benefit from the questionable Dallas secondary's focus on Plaxico Burress. Even when Burress had 144 yards and three TDs in the first meeting, Toomer caught nine balls for 91 yards.
-What's gotten into Green Bay's Greg Jennings? He's averaging a TD catch about every fourth reception and has scores of 82, 60, 57 and 41 yards. He should enjoy Minnesota's 31st-ranked pass defense.
-As long as Seattle can't run, Bobby Engram is a great start at receiver, even when Deion Branch returns. Engram is averaging 10 catches for 111 yards the past three weeks.
-David Patten is cashing in on the return of offense to New Orleans, averaging five catches and about 80 yards in the Saints' four-game winning streak.
-Remember Patrick Crayton in Dallas? The Cowboys sure haven't, with just two catches the past two weeks. But now that T.O.'s had his big Philly show, maybe the Cowboys will let Crayton play along.
-Take away Reggie Williams' 80-yard score on blown coverage last week and it's just another spare 40-something-yard game by an anonymous Jags receiver. Plus, the Titans are much tougher than the Saints.
-Cincinnati's Chris Henry returns from an eight-game suspension, but don't expect much yet. He's rusty, the Ravens aren't about to allow another five TD passes, and he has time to get in trouble before Sunday.
-The Eagles' Reggie Brown should keep his 10-game touchdownless streak intact against Washington, unless he suddenly sprouts some hands.
DON'T FORGET THE BYE WEEK: Open: The Jets, Tampa Bay, Houston and New England are off, meaning every fantasy team with Tom Brady won't win by 50 this week.
Pick up these guys if they're available in your league: RB Justin Fargas (new starter, 104 yards, TD), RB Priest Holmes (Johnson's backup), RB Maurice Morris (Alexander's eventual replacement), WR David Patten (TD), RB Ron Dayne (122 yards, TD), WR Chris Henry (back from suspension), WR Reggie Williams (128 yards, TD).
Here's the best and worst of last week's projections:
Big Hits: I expected big things for Clinton Portis (196 yards, TD), Marshawn Lynch (153 yards, TD), Lee Evans (165 yards, TD), Matt Hasselbeck (318 yards, 2 TDs) and Joey Galloway (84 yards, TD). I envisioned flops for Kurt Warner (0 TDs, 2 INTs), Vince Young (0 TDs, 2 INTs) and Vincent Jackson (16 yards.) I thought Thomas Jones (49 yards) would again go unused.
Big Misses: My hunch that Willie Parker (42 yards) would finally penetrate the Ravens defense was way off. I also thought Saints Reggie Bush (115 total yards, 2 TDs) and David Patten (81 yards, TD) would tank. I suggested Steve Smith (15 yards) would somehow thrive. I thought Philip Rivers (0 TDs, 1 INT) and Jay Cutler (early injury) would have big days.

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