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McKayla Maroney is not impressed with the RBs

What we are talking about:

  • Darren McFadden

Can he really be a top back?

  • Ryan Mathews

Injured again. Thanks.

  • SummerSlam

No way, Triple H can lose


I feel you McKayla Maroney, I'm not impressed with many of the options at fantasy running back this season, either. Outside of the three automatic choices of Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice, we might not see another fantasy running back go in the first round of many drafts.

So what are fantasy enthusiasts supposed to do in their upcoming drafts? Thankfully the Like/dislike returns for another season to get you ready for your drafts.

And without further ado ...

Darren McFadden is soaring up my list of fantasy running backs. I know it kind of frightens me, too. McFadden opened my running back rankings in the 20s. That's right, the 20s. Now he's at No. 9, and he's probably going to end up at No. 4 before too long.

Look at the list of guys, No. 4 through No. 12: Chris JohnsonDeMarco Murray, Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, McFadden, Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw and Adrian Peterson. You could talk yourself out of drafting any one of them. You really could. So no matter who you go with, you're taking some risk.

If I'm saddled at the No. 10 spot in the snake draft, I'm really tempted to pull the "Thelma and Louise." Hit the accelerator with Murray and McFadden and go over the fantasy cliff.

Peterson is interesting to me because he's returned to practice and should be ready to go, even though he didn't have the extended rehab like Charles. But if you're going to trust one person, right?

Dr. Neil Ghodadra joined NFL Fantasy Live on Thursday and gave assurances Peterson should be ready to go. He might not start off strong for you, but if he's there in the late third, I like it.

Charles has looked good in preseason, too. He took a hit on his surgically repaired knee and reports are he's just fine. Some are concerned about Peyton Hillis' presence in the lineup, but realize Charles' best season came when he was splitting time with Tom Jones.

Julio Jones is going to be a Top 5 fantasy receiver in 2012. As my new NFL Fantasy Live mate, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila pointed out during his debut episode, Jones is the first player Matt Ryan looks for when he's making his progression. That is a huge key.

A.J. Green is poised to crack the Top 5 as well. Green, unlike Jones, doesn't have a big-time receiver to compete with for targets in Cincinnati. QB Red Dalton will only have eyes for Green. He's like the Bengals version of Heath Slater -- he' a one-man band, baby!

ImageAnd since we're on Slater, it's time for the official SummerSlam preview. If you're new to this advice column, these icons and shaded boxes indicate when we veer off fantasy topics. So if you don't want ramblings on wrestling, comic books or other flare, please feel free to skip down.

ImageThe plan has to be fore CM Punk to retain the title at Summer Slam and eventually build on to a feud with the Rock for the Royal Rumble. A rematch with John Cena would be a terrible move. But with the WWE, sometimes logic is defied.

ImageCan Brock Lesnar go over Triple H? Conventional wisdom would say yes. The E is spending all of this money on Lesnar, and he's the perfect opponent for the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. But then again, Triple H is married to the boss's daughter. And Vince loves to have his guys go over UFC super stars.

And we're back. If you're looking for the Cowboys receiver to like this year, try little-known receiver Andre Holmes. Somebody needs to step up to grab the production left on the table because of defections. Now the spleen injury to Jason Witten makes Holmes more attractive.

But don't go all crazy and draft Holmes early. You pick him with your third-to-last pick. And if you don't have to pick a kicker and defense, grab Holmes with the last pick. My philosophy in the later rounds is to pick high-upside guys late instead of familiar names, like Josh Morgan or Deion Branch. You know you're getting nothing with those guys; Holmes could be a score.

If you do end up with Witten in your fantasy draft, make sure you back him up with a promising youngster like Kyle Rudolph or Jacob Tamme.

ImageSpeaking of a real America's Team, congratulations to Team USA soccer for knocking off Mexico in Mexico. Let's be honest, there aren't many instances where Team USA is going to be an underdog, so let's relish it while we can.

ImageStill, as upsets go, this isn't the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup level. BTW, has there ever been a more dominating postseason performance from any team, let alone a No. 8 seed.

You should view Jimmy Graham like he's an elite WR, because he is. I'd rank Graham as the fifth receiver, behind Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Green and Jones. And to be honest, he might be moving up the board, too.

You heard it here first, Aaron Hernandez will have more fantasy points than Gronk this season. That's right, more fantasy points.

Antonio Brown is your best option with the Steelers. Even if Mike Wallace returns to the club, Brown is ready to step up to be the Steelers top receiver.

ImageWhy were the Steelers get to be the team featured in the Dark Knight? I'm only asking because I haven't seen any of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight movies. Which people find as incredulous, like a Rashard Mendenhall tweet.

ImageBut yeah, I'm a huge Batman mark (I gave up being cool long ago), but I haven't had much interest in the films. I'm sure I'll purchase the box set once it's release next week (I'm only assuming because movies seem to be released on DVD at a record pace). But I'm good, I can wait.

ImageIf you like the Batman movies, I suggest you go out and grab the series of books written by Grant Morrison, starting with Batman R.I.P. and then the following series of "Batman and Robin Reborn". Dick Grayson becomes the new Batman and Bruce Wayne's son, Damien, is the new Robin. You'll like it.

If you watched Andy Luck torch the St. Louis FC and weren't impressed, I don't know what to tell you. But don't go too overboard. I'm not ready to proclaim him as a QB1 just yet. But I'm starting a new category called elite backups, and Luck is certainly my No. 1 elite backup.

And please, don't underestimate his athleticism. Luck's measurable at the combine were similar, almost identical, to Cam Newton. You don't think the Colts will call his number at the goal line? This isn't Peyton Manning, this guy can move.

Reggie Wayne is going to have a fantasy resurrection, similar to what happened with Steve Smith last year when Cam Newton arrived in Carolina. Wayne is going to make some fantasy enthusiasts really happy as a WR3 this year.

Brandon Lloyd is having a great training camp, which is no surprise under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Lloyd had a monster season last time the two teamed up in Denver. I just hope that going from Kyle Orton to Tom Brady won't kill his value. Hard to overcome a step down like that.

ImageWith the NFL deemphasizing running backs with the proliferation of committees, it's time for fantasy football to do the same. Standard fantasy leagues should be one quarterback, one running back, three receivers, tight end, a kicker, a defense and a flex. And I'm the guy to lead the charge.

You should never let your personal feelings ruin your NFL fantasy draft. And I should be the bigger man, here. But I have to admit I feel rather let down by Chargers RB Ryan Mathews, who figures to be out at least four to six weeks in the upcoming fantasy season.

Part of it is the chagrin of defending Mathews so ardently during the offseason. Despite the rap of being one of the most injury-prone running backs in the NFL, I rightly pointed out he played in 14 games in 2011. And it takes McFadden at least two or three years to approach the 14-game threshold. And I'm barely kidding.

I know how this ends up, too. I'll end up drafting McFadden & Murray and my team will go down in a blazing heap of glory by Week 3. Meanwhile, Mathews ends up finishing the season huge.

And if you missed Dr. Neil on Fantasy Live on Thursday, he said not to expect Mathews until maybe October because of the type of injury. And really, you can't risk it that early in the draft.

The only reason to dampen your enthusiasm for Peterson would be because Toby Gerhart is in the mix, and the Vikings won't be in any rush to over-expose their franchise back in an anticipated lost season. AD will eventually be sat for Matt (as in Matt Barkley).

Can you trust Trent Richardson? Sure, his surgeries were minor, he doesn't have the NFL pedigree of AD. We're so starved for workhorse RBs, we're reaching to move Richardson into elite status.

The Falcons have been running a lot of three-receiver sets in practice under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. That's a fundamental shift away from the run, and another reason to move RB Michael Turner far down your list of viable options.

You know who won't crack the Top 5 this season? Dre Johnson. He's already had hamstring injuries during the offseason and let's be honest, the Texans are a run-based team. One of your opponents will reach for Dre in your draft. Don't let it be you.

ImageI don't really care for Daniel Bryan already getting away from his "Yes!" chant with the new "No!" chant. Maybe it needed to be done to freshen up his character. But it seems like the WWE is embarrassed by his fortune and his "overness" so it has him looking silly and jobbing to everybody.

ImageChristian must be in the time of his career where he is putting other stars over. Time waits for nobody. But it's a shame his championship run wasn't given a little bit more time before he started putting over Damien Sandow (who I like).

ImageThe idea of making A.J. Lee the general manager was a good one. But if she's going for the business girl look, why can't she wear chucks with her Stephanie McMahon Barbie get up? And why does every WWE Diva have to start wearing glasses when they get power?

Miles Austin has already started to disappoint, which is especially troubling given how the 2011 season played out. Austin was poised to regain the production he yielded to Laurent Robinson, but now he's leaving the door open.

Jason Witten was poised for a monster season, but Dr. Neil is preaching patience with him. Here is what you need to do during your draft: Talk down Witten. Talk about how this injury is going to ruin his season, really pull out all of the stops. Then if you need a tight end in eighth or ninth round, you spring into action and grab Witten as you give off a maniacal laugh.

Tony Romo could have a huge fantasy season, but not if the line can't protect him. All of the Dallas Cowboys' studs are taking a bit of a hit because of it.

I like Rob Gronkowski, but not at the draft position he's coming off the board. Somebody in your league will take Gronk in the second round. Somebody might even reach for him in the first round. Please, don't be that guy.

Gronk has too many guys to compete with in New England. You're better off waiting for a better value down the board.

Wes Welker will dip a little bit in production, but the guy sneezes 100-reception seasons. So have a little restraint with him. I currently have him ranked at No. 8 for receivers. You'll get him in the third round, but will have to pick between him and Green, White and Jones.

Chris Johnson laughed off his slow start in the preseason. Just like he laughed off scoring touchdowns last season. Hilarious! Can you at least gives us a little something to show you can be an elite running back once again?

Enough with this Mike Wallace will be available for the Steelers in Week 1. What the (expletive) is he waiting for? If he's going to report without a new contract, report right now. Is he just taking training camp off? I know the Steelers will talk about "this business" but dang, don't we all wish we could pull that (expletive) at work?

Although, I would like to have Wallace sign a contract like they do on WWE, with a big stage production at midfield of Heinz Field, followed by fisticuffs between Wallace and Steelers GM Kevin Colbert.

The one thing I fear about Wallace is that he's going to go into protective mode like DeSean Jackson did last season, protecting himself from injury by not taking big risks on the field. The era of players going nuts in a contract year might be a thing of the past.

Unless this is baseball, of course. I'm still stunned all these years later Gary Matthews Jr. was able to swindle buckets of cash from the Angels.

ImageAnd the Angels bullpen might be the most disappointing thing in all of sports right now. How can professional pitchers be so bloody awful? Seriously, the Summer of Rank has been ruined by these guys.

RG3 was equally as impressive during his preseason debut. And I like him a lot. In fact, I really like him as a person and he's one of my favorite players in the league. But I don't trust Shanahan and he's going to be drafted higher than I feel comfortable with.

ImageDo any running backs have value in Washington? Well, you must be new here if you're asking the question. I'm the leading authority on #shanahanigans. You know, the misdirection coach Mike Shanahan gives to fantasy enthusiasts by saying Tim Hightower will start for the Skins, and then leave him on the bench for Roy Helu. So avoid all Redskins running backs.

Shane Vereen is starting to gain some traction as a fantasy option in New England. But make no mistake, Bill Belichick dabbles closely to #shanahanigans, but at least his other players put up monster points.

ImageWe've proven our point in Olympic basketball; we can beat everybody with our professionals. I get the knee-jerk reaction at the end of the Cold War to bounce are basketballs with NBA players, but enough is enough. Sure Spain kept it interesting, but I'd much rather see our young college stars battling it out, even if it means we don't always win.

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 45,000 followers, and Fabiano has 50,000. Me? Just 13. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook (oh wait, I told you to stop going to Facebook). Go instead to Google+. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."

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