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Like/Dislike: You should be worried about Foster

What we are talking about:

  • RG3

    He is going to win your week

  • Tom Brady

    Will he answer Peyton's challenge?

  • Ben Affleck

    Seriously?

There were a lot of questions when Arian Foster ranked 11th on my list of running backs headed into the 2013 season.

"I bet you're just concerned about his yards-per-carry dropping from 4.9 to 4.4 to 4.1, aren't you?"

Uh, yeah. That's kind of a big deal.

Seriously, what kind of question is that. "So uh, Rank, do you mean to tell me that you're using facts and statistical trends to predict that a player is a going to take a step back? How dare you!"

Yes, how dare I?

Not only are his rushing numbers taking a dip, his yards-per-reception took a beating, too, which should be even more alarming to most of you. Well that and the fact he hasn't played during the preseason because of a back injury. Seriously, a back injury is nothing to play around with. Many big-time athletes in their prime like Mario Lemiuex, Larry Bird and Shawn Michaels were at their zenith when back injuries took them out.

Not to mention the Texans have other options this year, too. Foster has remained relevant because he gets into the end zone so much. What happens if Ben Tate gets work on the goal line? What if J.J. Watt gets his gimmick plays? Don't forget, DeAndre Hopkins could turn the Texans into more of a passing threat, too.

There are a lot of reasons to be afraid for Foster. We could see the biggest fall from grace since Jessica Alba did "The Love Guru" years ago. Or if you want to go with "Good Luck Chuck" that's fair, too. But that was probably just in the middle of her slide. And as a quick aside, did anybody think Michael Weatherly would be a bigger star in 2013?

Likes and dislikes are in bold, for those of you who don't want to take the 88 minutes required to read this column. (But it's Friday: What better way to cruise through it than by checking out my thoughts on fantasy football, comic books, wrestling, TV and music?) Facebook doesn't give you the option to dislike stuff, but I certainly do.

A big hand to stats maven Bill "Sudsy" Sudell for dropping the knowledge.

And without further ado ...

Jay Cutler was one of Rank's 11 (or maybe it was the sequel, Rank's 12) sleepers. And there will be games where he thrives under Marc Trestman's offense. This isn't going to be one of those games in Week 1. The Bengals are much too tough.

The Bengals allowed the fifth-fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks last year. They didn't allow a quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards after Week 1 last year. So this is a defense to avoid for the coming season. So while I like Jay Cutler for the season, I'm going to pass on him this week.

And while I just raved about Chip Kelly and the Eagles offense in the "like" column, I'm going to put Michael Vick over here as one of my dislikes. And here's why. You probably drafted Vick as your QB2 in most leagues, unless you’re in a real big league or you fell asleep at the wheel during your draft. Which is what happened to me in one of my leagues. So I have to start him. Most you do not need to.

Still, Vick is a solid start over guys like Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford and Alex Smith. And Terrelle Pryor. More on the Raiders quarterback in a moment.

Ryan Tannehill was one of my preseason sleepers, too, but I've cooled to him recently. The offensive line has become a concern for the Dolphins. Or more to the point, it continues to be a concern for the Dolphins, so I really need to see something from him.

Not sure Mike Wallace is the best fit for that offense, too. The Dolphins need a deep threat. But Tannehill needs some time to get Wallace the ball, and I'm not sure he's going to be afforded that opportunity with that line. Brian Hartline might benefit, but he's not a worthy fantasy option right now.

And the matchup isn't very good for Wallace, either. The newest Dolphin has averaged 54.4 yards per game and scored two touchdowns in five career starts against the Browns. Cleveland has allowed just three total touchdown passes in its last five home games. Plus Wallace hasn't been explosive with just three receptions of more than 25 yards in his last 10 games.

Alex Smith was one of Rank's 11 Sleepers recently, and he's got a decent enough matchup against the Jaguars. But I can't endorse starting him. Yet he's certainly a guy to watch as the season progresses and he'll have some excellent starts along the way. With Andy Reid as the coach, and Chris Ault (the former Nevada coach) as a consultant, he's going to benefit greatly under this regime. Finally, he's got a coach he can work with.

How long are we going to wait for Sam Bradford? He's always one of those sleepers to keep an eye on, but you just can't trust the guy. Let's see it happen first. He's been given a ton of weapons, so it seems like this is his make-or-break season. Like do well, or enjoy Oakland next year.

Eli Manning has done well against the Cowboys in the past. He always seems to relish playing in Cowboys Stadium. Anybody else remember the autograph he signed for the new stadium? I'm not sure if this was an urban legend or not, but it made him seem a little cooler to me. Not cool enough to start this week, let's not get crazy.

The lesson you should take from all of this is you likely drafted a stud quarterback. Go with that guy. Don't look too hard at the matchups. Don't try to get all Montgomery Burns on your opponent. Go with your guy.

Your guy is not Terrelle Pryor, BTW. Even though I called this (expletive) months ago. Running quarterbacks will always have some value in fantasy leagues. But please stop short of comparisons to Cam or Kaepernick or anybody like that. Even Tim Tebow is a bit of a stretch here.

The difference between Tebow and Pryor aren't much, in that neither is very good at throwing a football. Tebow benefited from playing behind a great line, he had a good running game and excellent receivers. In other words, none of the things Oakland has. If you want to make a comparison, make a comparison to Tebow with the Jets. Both the Jets and Raiders offense are about the same.

But how does Matt Flynn have to feel about this? On one hand, he's getting paid an awful lot of money to be a backup quarterback, which is awesome. How many of us wouldn't love to get millions of dollars to do nothing? I'm close, but I don't get millions of dollars. Plus the other good thing, too, is that Flynn doesn't have to play for the Raiders.

Speaking of quarterbacks, nobody is upset that Peyton Manning basically ran up the score on the Ravens here? Honestly, if this was the Patriots who did this to the Ravens, Peter King, Tony Dungy and some of the other major media types would have had a (expletive) fit with the way Manning conducted himself on the field in a blowout.

Personally, I love when teams run up the score. As a fantasy enthusiast, you should, too. And this was probably cathartic for Manning considering the way he gagged in the playoffs last year. However, it's hypocritical how he's held to a different standard. But considering he's given a free pass for his playoff transgressions, it's not surprising.

With the defending champion losing clean on Thursday night, it made me think I was watching RAW. Because any time a champion appears in a non-title match on the show, he or she ends up losing. Watch, I'm not making this stuff up.

If there is a theme to this week, it's guys I liked as sleepers this season aren't worth playing in Week 1. Daryl Richardson is another guy I've liked. But St. Louis rushers have done poorly against the Cardinals, with just two rushing touchdowns in its last 15 meetings against the Red Birds. St. Louis has only one rushing touchdown in its last nine home games against the Cardinals.

Richardson didn't score on 122 offensive touches last year. And he didn't break a run of more than 10 yards over his last six games. Of course, it could have been chalked up to the rookie wall a lot of these runners hit during their first year. But it's enough of a concern to keep him on the bench.

We're going to find it tough to play periphery guys against the NFC West defenses this year. The 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals and St. Louis all pose formidable defenses this year which will make you think twice. Kind of like any movie with Ben Affleck as Batman.

ImageAnd since we're on the subject. I don't mind Affleck as Batman in one sense. I don't mind him as an actor. I've always kind of liked him going back to all of the Kevin Smith movies. I even kind of liked that movie he did where Samuel L. Jackson crashes into him and some briefcase gets stolen. And even his turn as Jack Ryan in Sum of All Fears. All of that said, he shouldn't be playing Batman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie.

ImageAffleck was Daredevil. And no matter how you feel about Daredevil, actors should be limited to just one superhero role. I'm looking at you Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool/Hal Jordan) and Chris Evans (The Torch/Captain America). Evans is the most egregious because he played two superheroes in the same universe. Affleck had his chance with the Marvel star, so he should have been eliminated here. Where was Congress on this one?

But going back to the NFC West defenses, the 49ers are going to be tough for any running back. San Francisco allowed the third-fewest points to fantasy running backs last year, and allowed four backs to top 100 rushing yards in 2012. And the D is even tougher at home, as it has allowed two rushing touchdowns in the last eight games at Candlestick Park.

That means Eddie Lacy rides the bench. I wouldn't sit an established star against the 49ers. But an unproven rookie who might not even get all of the carries on a team that rarely runs the ball? Yeah, hit the pine. The only problem is, there aren't a lot of great running backs available to you. So you would rather go with Lacy over guys like Mike Tolbert and Vick Ballard. Again, hit me up with your specific questions on Twitter. I'm trying to get to all of them. I really am.

The 49ers are also tough on receivers, too. San Francisco allowed just 17.93 points per game to receivers in 2012, the fifth-fewest in the league. The 49ers allowed nine touchdown receptions last year, tied for third for fewest allowed. So Jordy Nelson, until we get a chance to see you do something, you're on the bench. Same for you, James Jones. Though some of you on Twitter have hit me up with that question and I was surprised he had to start on some teams. But as a general rule, I pass.

ImageI'm also going to say I will miss Candlestick Park. It's not a great facility. But as a guy who watched his beloved Rams (for a few years) and Angels play in the same stadium, I always loved the early part of the season when a lot of NFL games were played on an MLB infield. California seemed to lead the league in this category with Anaheim, San Diego and San Francisco. But since the Giants are long gone from the Stick, I guess it's time to make the move to a new stadium for the 49ers, who need one. The Raiders playing a game in a baseball park, however, seems appropriate.

The Seahawks are really tough on defense, too. The Seahawks allowed the fewest points to receivers last year, and should be even better this year. And, get this, the Seahawks defense didn't allow a rushing touchdown in their last 10 games of the season.

DeAngelo Williams could be a flex option with Jonathan Stewart out, but not this week. Steve Smith was a favorite on the Dave Dameshek Football Program, but not this week. Normally, I would avoid most Panthers, but you can't trust them against the Seahawks.

Everything about Isaac Redman's matchup says he must start this week. The Titans allowed the fifth-most points to running backs last year. But as Terry Benedict once said to Limon Zerga, I just don't trust you. And if you know anything about the "Ocean's 11" movies, you know Benedict was completely right not to trust Zerga. He should have followed his gut, and that's what I'm doing here.

You want to play Giovani Bernard this week, and I can't blame you. But BenJarvus Green-Ellis is still there. The Bears defense allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs last year, and just two rushing touchdowns at home. We all want Bernard to be good. But wishing for it is fine; playing him in Week 1 isn't good.

Another rookie people love? How about Kenbrell Thompkins. I even joked with Matthew Berry this week that my phone now recognizes the name Kenbrell. Look, this is a fantastic matchup. But he's still an undrafted rookie. I look for Amendola, Vereen, Ridley and maybe one or two more guys to get into the mix here. But this is live football. That said, be sure to pick him up, though. He's owned in 36 percent of NFL.com leagues. A number that is way too low. Although after watching Peyton on Thursday, I won't blame you if you started him.

Is it time for New York Jets jokes yet? Poor Rex Ryan. Who knows what life might have been like if he had been offered the San Diego Chargers job instead of the Jets gig. He might have won a Super Bowl like he boasted about a few years back. I honestly believe he would have. Now he's just punching the clock until he becomes coach of the Oakland Raiders.

ImageRyan strikes me like George Costanza when he was trying to get fired from the New York Yankees so he could take a job at the Mets. Maybe we'll see Ryan driving around the Jets' parking lot with the Super Bowl III trophy tied to his bumper. A much better alternative than him putting on the bodysuit and running down the field. Sorry for that image.

Let's make our Ryan Mathews jokes now. But he's a solid flex option in most weeks. This isn't one of those weeks. The Texans allowed the fewest points to running backs last year, and Mathews managed just 10 fantasy points once last season. He's had no rushing touchdowns in his last nine games he's played and he's currently on a streak of 14 games without 100 rushing yards. He'll stop those skids at some point. Just not against the Texans.

ImageI'm in close to 89 leagues and I can't recall Philip Rivers being drafted in any of them. Partly because the quarterback position is now so incredibly deep. And partly because Philip Rivers. He's owned in just 17 percent of NFL.com leagues. This made me pause, because I didn't realize A.J. Smith played in that many fantasy leagues. Just kidding. Smith probably doesn't play fantasy football (safe bet), but what would a league be like with him in there? Would everybody be scared to draft Drew Brees at all because, you know? Or would it go the other way and Brees would be picked first overall, just to goad him? If you know anything about me, you know where my head is at.


For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 100,000 followers, and Fabiano has 100,000. Me? Just four. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook. Although, it's tough to catch me on Facebook. Twitter is your go-to. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."

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