Fantasy notebook: Maroney, Young look good

The third week of the NFL preseason - which is as close to the regular season as we'll see before Week 1 -- saw a numbers of different stories and scenarios emerge that will have implications on fantasy football. Our final Monday version of the Fantasy Notebook focuses on the top 20 stories that will affect drafts.

1. MARONEY BACK ON TRACK

One of the top breakout candidates on NFL.com, Laurence Maroney saw his first preseason action over the weekend and looked fantastic against Carolina. Maroney, who endured a surgical procedure on his shoulder in the offseason, recorded 58 yards on 15 carries and was the offensive focal point in his time on the field. He ran hard and without limitations, so it seems that his shoulder is back to 100 percent. Owners shouldn't hesitate to take the former Minnesota standout late in the first round as a No. 1 fantasy runner.

2. IN-VINCE-ABLE?

Vince Young didn't look so terrific in his preseason debut for the Titans, but he sure made up for it in his second exhibition start. The versatile quarterback completed 13 of 19 passes for 162 yards and recorded two touchdowns in a 28-17 win over the Buffalo Bills. While he doesn't have established threats on offense, Young has a solid line in front of him and the talent to put a team on his shoulders and produce tremendous numbers. The Madden curse looms, but Young should still be considered a solid No. 1 fantasy quarterback.

3. HOLT MISSING IN ACTION

Torry Holt missed the Rams' preseason loss to the Oakland Raiders over the weekend, and reports indicate he might have had a minor setback in his rehabilitation from offseason knee surgery. Holt, who had an arthroscopic procedure in January, experienced some swelling after practice last week. He's still a top-notch fantasy wideout, but owners need to watch his status in practice over the next week. Steve Smith, Chad Johnson, Marvin Harrison and Terrell Owens continue to be better options at this time.

4. LIKE BROTHER ...

The value of Eli Manning had fallen in the world of fantasy football after an inconsistent 2006 season, but Peyton's little brother has looked awfully good in the preseason. He has completed 30 of 43 passes for an impressive 287 yards and three touchdowns in exhibition work, and he's done it all without his top wide receiver, Plaxico Burress. He still shouldn't be considered a No. 1 fantasy quarterback in most drafts, but Eli is a high-end No. 2 option and could turn out to be a nice value pick for owners in the middle rounds.

5. ... LIKE BROTHER

Eli wasn't the lone Manning to look good this weekend, as Peyton demolished an overmatched Lions defense. The Super Bowl XLI MVP completed 23 of 27 passes for 233 yards with three touchdowns, and he did it all in one half. The Colts plan to throw the ball more often with Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and rookie Anthony Gonzalez all in the mix, so Manning could post some monster numbers. He remains the lone non-running back that warrants first-round consideration in all fantasy drafts.

6. SCHAUB MOVING ON UP

Another quarterback who has looked like a world beater is Matt Schaub. The former Atlanta reserve completed 12 of 16 passes for 109 yards and threw two touchdowns in Houston's 28-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys. He has completed 75 percent of his passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns in his past two exhibition starts, and he looks poised and comfortable in the offense of head coach Gary Kubiak. He still isn't a No. 1 fantasy quarterback but Schaub is moving up rank lists as a more viable No. 2 option.

7. YO, ADRIAN!

Most fantasy owners raised Adrian Peterson on rank lists after his impressive 70-yard, one-touchdown performance against the New York Jets. But after this weekend's contest in Seattle, it's clear that he is no closer to becoming a featured back. Chester Taylor started against the Seahawks and rushed for 61 yards on eight carries in his team's 30-13 loss. Peterson toted the rock 10 times for 41 yards and didn't find the end zone. The rookie has greater value, but neither of these backs will be consistent point producers.

8. MORE ACTION FOR JACKSON

Chargers wideout Vincent Jackson, one of the top sleeper candidates on NFL.com, continued his impressive preseason on Saturday night with his 92-yard, two-touchdown performance in a 33-31 win over the Arizona Cardinals. It's clear Philip Rivers (20 of 29, 282 yards, two touchdowns), who was also tremendous in the contest, has gained a solid rapport with Jackson and plans to look in his direction often this season. Fantasy owners should target Jackson in the middle rounds as a No. 3 wideout with the potential to be a prominent option.

9. L.J. GETTING A TUNEUP

Reports out of Kansas City indicate that Larry Johnson will see a few series of work in the Chiefs' preseason finale in St. Louis. He will be limited, but the fact that he'll see some actual action against an opponent is a positive. While his workload could also be limited in Week 1 against Houston, L.J. is still one of the top three runners in the NFL and should remain a top option in fantasy drafts. He might not duplicate his 2006 totals, but Johnson should still record 1,300-plus rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns.

10. THE MIGHTY QUINN

Brady Quinn completed 7 of 11 passes for 81 yards and one touchdown in his second preseason appearance. His first three series came against Denver's first-team defense, and he led the Browns 56 yards and should have been awarded a touchdown had it not been for a missed call in the end zone. Despite his success, general manager Phil Savage still doesn't believe Quinn will be the Week 1 starter. That role will most likely be Charlie Frye's to open the season, but Quinn could have some fantasy relevance much sooner than later.

11. OUT OF THE DRIVER'S SEAT

A foot sprain will keep Donald Driver out of Green Bay's preseason finale in Tennessee, but the team is optimistic that he'll be able to return in time for Week 1. Driver suffered the injury in last week's game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars and had to be carted off the field. Barring setbacks, he should remain a viable low-end No. 1 fantasy receiver. However, those fantasy owners preferring a safer route should drop him behind the trio of Lee Evans, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Andre Johnson at the wideout position.

12. NOT MUCH 'THERE' THERE

Daunte Culpepper started Friday's game against the Rams and completed 4 of 8 passes for 47 yards with one touchdown in the Raiders' 20-10 win. He also rushed for 17 yards on three carries, so he appears to have confidence in his reconstructed knee. While he hasn't locked down the top spot on the depth chart -- head coach Lane Kiffin still wants improvement -- Culpepper has emerged as the favorite over Josh McCown. While he isn't draftable in most cases, Culpepper could be a nice one-week starter in Week 1 vs. a woeful Lions pass defense.

13. TWO-TIMING TANDEM

The Titans appear set to have a two-headed monster in their backfield this season -- the combination of LenDale White and Chris Brown. White looked good against Buffalo and seems to be the favorite to start, but Brown has also shined in the preseason and will no doubt see his share of carries. This committee could be hard to judge each week, so neither back should be considered more than a No. 4 fantasy runner. At the tight end position, Bo Sciafe has passed Ben Troupe on the depth chart and suddenly has sleeper value.

14. MID-ROUND BARGAINS

Tony Romo completed 14 of 22 passes for 197 with two touchdowns and an interception in a loss to Houston. The talented quarterback has now completed 69 percent of his preseason passes and looks to be confident in the offense of new coordinator Jason Garrett. A viable No. 1 fantasy quarterback and worth a middle-round selection, Romo could turn out to be a nice draft bargain. The same can be said for Matt Leinart, who completed 10 of 16 passes for 196 yards with one touchdown in the Cardinals' loss to the Chargers.

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15. NO SMALL IMPACT

Reports out of San Diego indicate that reserve back Michael Turner sustained a high ankle sprain in Arizona and is now questionable for the regular-season opener against the Chicago Bears. One of the best handcuffs in fantasy football, owners who have LaDainian Tomlinson should keep a close eye on Turner's status over the next week. Should the ailment keep him out of action for a significant period of time, look for 5-foot-7 Darren Sproles to take over as the No. 2 back on the Chargers' backfield depth chart.

16. HOUSTON, NO PROBLEMS

Texans rookie wideout Jacoby Jones returned a 91-yard punt for a touchdown and scored a touchdown on a 19-yard pass from Matt Schaub against Dallas, and he seems to have moved past Kevin Walter into the second spot on the depth chart. While first-year wideouts tend to struggle in their transition from college to the pros, Jones has shown enough between the white lines to warrant a late-round flier in larger drafts. He's raw, but Jones is talented and seems to have earned a prominent role in the offensive attack.

17. HE'S A KEEPER

He won't have much value this season, but Kellen Clemens has shown some flashes of brilliance in the preseason for the Jets. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 122 yards and scored a touchdown against the Giants and has now completed over 70 percent of his passes in his past two exhibition contests. While Chad Pennington remains the unquestioned starter for head coach Eric Mangini, Clemens is the future of the franchise at the position and should be well on the radar of owners in both keeper and dynasty leagues.

18. THIS JACKSON OUT OF ACTION

Darrell Jackson is expected to miss San Francisco's preseason finale in San Diego due to an injured hamstring. The veteran wideout, who was traded from Seattle to the 49ers in the offseason, has also dealt with a turf toe ailment that limited him in offseason activities. While Jackson has been productive in his time on the field, his proneness to injuries is a real cause for concern when it comes time to draft. In fact, owners should now think of him as more of a middle-round selection and a No. 3 fantasy receiver.

19. HUARD TO TAKE

Brodie Croyle played his way out of the top spot on the Chiefs' depth chart after an awful start vs. the New Orleans Saints. The Alabama product completed 5 of 17 passes for 45 yards with an interception in a 30-7 loss, which prompted head coach Herman Edwards to name Damon Huard his Week 1 starter. The move is a positive one for the team's shaky prospects for 2007 -- Huard was more than solid in relief of an injured Trent Green last season -- but the veteran quarterback still has very little draft value.

20. ROLLING THE DICE

Donovan McNabb completed 5 of 11 passes for 60 yards and looked healthy in Sunday night's 27-13 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The veteran quarterback saw limited work, but his two preseason starts came without limitations and boosted his value in fantasy drafts. In fact, McNabb should be ranked with the likes of Tom Brady and Marc Bulger and ranks sixth on NFL.com's current quarterback rank list. He is a risk-reward selection, but McNabb is well worth the gamble based on his potential to post huge stats.

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