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NFL Fantasy Football: Don't like Maurice Jones-Drew

What we are talking about:

  • Jay Cutler

Can he really be a top QB?

  • Mike Mularkey

Don't pull #shanahanigans

  • Mike Trout

Outperformed his deal


Jets coach Rex Ryan said he is tired of his team being labeled a circus. And then he shot water out of his boutonniere. Seriously, Rex Ryan being upset about the perception of the Jets is like the people who sue McDonald's for their obesity issues. How about a little personal responsibility?

Well, it's not going to make Rex happy to know his starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, was seen around town with his new girlfriend Eva Longoria. And really, who cares who the quarterback is dating, right? But if your team is fighting a perception problem, this certainly won't help.

And to relate this to fantasy, don't start Sanchez this week.

A big nod to our esteem stat guy, Bill "Sudsy" Sudell for the knowledge.

And without further ado ...

Jay Cutler could be a Top 10 fantasy quarterback this week. What's holding him back isn't his shoddy offensive line, but his opponent, the Colts. The fear I have about Cutler is the Bears holding a huge second-half lead and bleeding the clock with plenty of Matt Forte and Michael Bush at the end of the game.

But does it ever really work out that way? Don't overthink the matchups. Start Cutler with confidence. The Bears are going to showcase Cutler with Brandon Marshall (with some Alshon Jeffery mixed in, too) for a big day.

The guys you don't bench: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford and I'm going to add Tony Romo onto the list. Don't let his playoff performances alter the way you look at him. Is he one of the league's elite? We can debate that. But he is truly a fantasy elite quarterback.

Matt Ryan is another guy who has a perception problem because of his playoff futility, but he's going to be a great start this week and will be the breakout quarterback star of the season.

Ryan threw 20 touchdowns in his final nine games and finished eighth in fantasy points in 2011. Look for that trend to continue into this season. The Falcons are committed to throw with new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Plus, having Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez helps, too.

Not sure how this happened, but I ended up with Peyton Manning on two of my teams. And I was the guy who preached patience with this guy all summer. But if you have him as your starter, go for it. The Steelers are going to be motivated to stop the Broncos, but do you think they're thrilled it's Peyton Manning and not Timmy Tebow? I would buy into the notion of payback if Tebow were still the Broncos quarterback. I'm not feeling it with Manning.

Hopefully Peyton has better luck with his receivers than his kid brother Eli did during the Wednesday night opener. But expect Eric Decker to have a big season. Decker became the worst-kept secret in fantasy football after his two-touchdown performance in game three of the preseason. No matter, keep him in your lineup. Not so sure about the other guy.

An anxiety that hits me every time Manning drops back in the pocket, probably similar to the twinge Darren McFadden owners get every time he runs the football. The thing that kills me about McFadden is the turf in Oakland has the baseball diamond in it. The diamond could be there for some extended weeks if the A's sneak into the playoffs.

ImageThe second wild card seemed like a bad idea for baseball at first, but it's actually starting to make sense. Mostly because the Angels have underachieved thus far and are scrambling for the final spot. But allow me to speak for America when I say we are all hoping the Yankees find a way to stumble out of the playoffs the way the Red Sox imploded last year.

The Chiefs are going to split carries with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, but I wouldn't hesitate to start Charles this week. Remember, Charles' best season came in 2010 when he yielded carries to Tom Jones. Hillis, however, isn't much more than a flex option in deeper leagues.

Dwayne Bowe has led the Chiefs in receptions and receiving yards in three consecutive seasons. You might be scared off because of the return of Charles and addition of Peyton Hillis. But Bowe's best season came in 2010. Play him with confidence against the Falcons.

But realize there is a clear pecking order in Kansas City. Unlike the WWE where our hero, CM Punk, is forced to be a curtain-jerker in his own hometown of Chicago. Who could blame him for taking Monday night off?

ImageWell, he did return to hit the "go to sleep" on Cena. And yes, many of you were surprised to see Punk hanging out with the likes of Paul Heyman. But don't you remember Punk's epic "pipe bomb" in June of 2011? When he said he was a Paul Heyman guy? And you know who else was a Paul Heyman guy? Brock Lesnar? Does any of this ring a bell? (Plus he kind of spoiled it on Twitter a few months back, too.)

Fred Jackson has looked solid during the preseason and he should be a great fantasy option, even against the vaunted Jets defense in Week 1. The Jets are near the middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to running backs in 2011. The Jets won't be any better this year. Jackson had 82 rushing yards and 38 receiving yards during his lone appearance against the Jets last season.

Doug Martin had 31 touches, 116 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in the preseason. The Panthers allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs in 2011. Carolina's defense should be better, but you have to like Martin. The Buccaneers are going to run him, and then take some time to pass to Vincent Jackson. But look for Martin to play a huge role.

DeAngelo Williams is poised for a huge fantasy payout if Jonathan Stewart can't go in Week 1. The Buccaneers allowed the second-most points to fantasy running backs in 2011. Williams is a game-break, so he should be safe to start even if Stewart plays because the Daily Show will be limited.

I don't care which side of the isle you sit on, either. But if you don't watch Comedy Central's "Daily Show" during convention season, you are really doing yourself a disservice. And I remember catching Jon Stewart's standup at the Irvine Improv during the early 1990s, he might be the best comic working today along with Louis CK and Brian Regan.

If you own Marshawn Lynch and you don't have Robert Turbin, what are you waiting for? Add him right now, I'll wait. Wait, what do you mean he wasn't there? How did you not get him sooner?

My experience with Turbin is limited to NCAA 12 on Xbox. That's right, I opened up my current dynasty with Utah State (I love Logan, Utah) and I ran Turbin into the ground. And sure, you can snicker, but at least I know how he is, unlike some fantasy experts.

BTW, not much time is spent on much-start guys like Ray Rice, because you start him every week. But he had at least 95 scrimmage yards in 12 or 16 games in 2011, and those numbers will increase if the Ravens truly are committed to throwing the football.

Torrey Smith had 841 receiving yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, but he's poised for a huge breakout season. Don't expect the Ravens to be the second coming of Air Coryell (Google it), like they were during the preseason. But they should throw enough to make Smith an attractive fantasy option vs. the Bengals.

Antonio Brown has edged out Decker as the most-hyped receiver in fantasy football this season. And can you blame people? Brown had 11 receptions for 204 yards and three touchdowns in this preseason, as he continued to build on a strong finish to 2011.

Nate Washington could have a big week against the Patriots, who allowed the most fantasy points to receivers last season. New England should be improved, but Washington will be the top option for new quarterback Jake Locker. Washington finished strong in 2011, with three touchdowns in his final four games, and he had 42 targets over that stretch.

Brandon Marshall is one of the most underrated No. 1 receivers in the NFL, but he's going to have a big season with Cutler. Marshall had 206 receptions, 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns in two seasons with Cutler.

Jordy Nelson still looks like a top option for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Don't be scared off by the 49ers defense this week. The Saints lit up this defense in the playoffs, and the Giants had success, too. Even the Cowboys got into the mix early in the season. You don't sit your Packers.

A.J. Green did not have a touchdown in five of his last six games in 2011. The Ravens allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to receivers last year. But there is no way Green is on my bench. As captain of my Heath Slater All-Stars, he's in my lineup. He's just too good.

ImageSpeaking of A.J., I still haven't given up on her yet. But the most appealing thing about her during her NXT run was her fandom. She was just like us. Now she's just as bland as every other WWE Diva who comes into power. What I'm trying to say is let her wear some "Chucks" with those business suits.

Malcom Floyd has torched the Raiders in his last three games against them, going for 412 yards with two touchdowns. He's notched at least 95 receiving yards and a touchdown in his last three games of last season as well as at least 95 yards in five of his last six games. I wanted to believe in Bobby Meachem early in the summer, but the chemistry has been with Rivers.

Plus, Floyd is playing the Raiders who allowed the third most fantasy points to receivers in 2011, and 31 touchdown passes in 2011 (second most in the league).

If Dre Johnson is "The Office" of Fantasy Football (see the Dislikes), count Percy Harvin as the "Community" of fantasy football as the most underappreciated guy going. Harvin always gets knocked for his headaches, yet he played in 14 games in 2011. He's only missed three games in his NFL career. But what happened at your draft? The guy who picked Dre was lauded for great value. The guy who drafted Percy got nothing but migraine jokes.

Harvin had close to 800 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns in his last seven games of 2011. He ranked eighth among receivers in fantasy points. And the Vikings will find creative ways to get him the ball. This guy must start every week.

So if you're starting Harvin this week, please give "Community" a chance this season, too.

Aaron Hernandez was the third-rated tight end in 2011, but he's going to score more points than Rob Gronkowski this season. Look for Hernandez to get some looks down near the goal line this season as a runner, too.

If you need some TE help (I hope you sat Jason Witten), Greg Olsen should get some attention as Steve Smith makes his way back into the lineup.

ImageWednesday Night Football was a huge success. The only drawback was spending the next day under the impression it was Friday. Wait, that's almost uncool.

This is painful to say as somebody who rode Michael Vick to a fantasy championship just two years ago, but can you really trust him to be your fantasy quarterback? Sure, he's got a flak jacket. Do they make one for his thumb, too? I don't have the numbers to back this up, but Vick seemingly leads the NFL in hitting his lineman's helmet with his throwing hand.

The Cleveland Browns are no pushover, either. The Browns allowed the third-fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks in 2011 and allowed only one touchdown pass in their final five home games last year. Plus they were solid in the preseason with seven interceptions.

And don't do anything crazy and be all, "Hey Rank doesn't like Vick, so I'm going to bench him for Joe Flacco and Christian Ponder." That's not what I'm saying. If you have better options such as Peyton or Ryan, go with those guys.

Again, I understand the love for Vick. I mean, he's been a top five fantasy quarterback twice in his career. To me, he's like the fantasy football version of the Sex Pistols, who made only one album. It was a great album, mind you, but it's not like the Beatles, who churned out great album after great album.

Ben Roethlisberger is also a player to avoid. The Steelers were really committed to running the football before the season, but an injury to David DeCastro means the team will have to throw again in 2012.

Roethlisberger has thrived behind bad offensive lines in the past, because he can extend plays. But now those windows are closing on Big Ben as he gets older and the culmination of injuries have made him less mobile. He's a QB2 to me.

A lot of you are high on Russell Wilson this season. And you should be, he looks great. Don't expect it to translate to fantasy success, at least not in Week 1. Seriously, pump the breaks a bit.

Same with the other famed rookies Andy Luck and RG3. You could talk yourself into starting Luck because the Colts are going to fall behind the Bears early and need to throw the ball, but you have less riskier options. I like RG3 a ton, but going into the dome with an irritated crowd strikes a similar cord to me as the Saints returning back to the dome after a year of home games in New York.

They are, however, much better backup options than Matt Schaub. I'm not sure how the Texans quarterback is finding his way on to fantasy rosters this season.

Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey has said he will go with Rashad Jennings this week (as a reward for his excellent work over the summer), and Maurice Jones-Drew will be very limited. But given our experiences with NFL coaches, do you think we can really trust him?

That's why I pass on Jennings and MJD this week. Jennings might be a flex in deeper leagues, but he is clearly one to avoid in standard, 10-team leagues. BTW, #shanahanigans would give way to Mularkey if MJD gets 22 touches.

Did MJD hold out from the barber? Listen here, if you can't grow a full beard, you have to shave the whole thing. Similar to the top of my head, sometimes you have to know when to let go.

ImageIf MJD really believes he's outperformed his contract, what about Mike Trout? Dude's the best player in baseball, the odds-on favorite to win Rookie of the Year and MVP, and he's under club control for five seasons. Trout has a complaint.

The Vikings are also going to take a cautious approach with Adrian Peterson, who should remain on fantasy benches. Only a cynic would see a connection between resting AD and making a play for Matt Barkley in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Don't expect a huge game out of Steven Jackson vs. the Lions. The St. Louis FC should be able to move the ball in the air, but Detroit was tough against the run in 2011 as it allowed the tenth-fewest points to running backs. Jackson has rushed for only one touchdown in his last nine games and he's had multiple scores in a game only once in his last 46.

And don't give me the noise Jackson is a valuable member of the passing game, that's very overstated. Jackson's production as a receiver has dipped since his 90-reception season in 2006. Last season, if you look past his nine-reception game against the Bengals, he did virtually nothing as a receiver.

ImageNo Doubt drummer Adrian Young is often photographed in Los Angeles Rams T-shirts (he's from Anaheim), but he missed a chance to rep his former team during the pregame concert on Wednesday night. Count that as an opportunity lost.

We don't give Bill Belichick enough credit for his, uh, creative use of running backs. Stevan Ridley is good, but wait until Hernandez gets the goal line carries.

How are you going to remember the David Wilson era in New York? Dude, Adam Morrison called, he said you shouldn't be crying on the field. How can a team like the Giants lack focus like that? Or did we all forget the Giants were 9-7 last year, and if Miles Austin could have made the big catch in Week 14 like he did on Wednesday night, we'd have different champions.

Trent Richardson should start your season on the bench. The Eagles do allow a lot of points to fantasy running backs, but the fear is Richardson will be on a pitch count. He has the chance to have a solid rookie season, but it's not going to start in Week 1. Seriously, I'm thinking Phillies vs. Indians type of score here.

Reggie Bush is the only option for the Dolphins, but how can you start him? The Texans didn't allow a rushing touchdown in seven of their last eight games, and gave up the second-fewest points to running backs last year. Sure, Bush is more than just a running back, but find some better options.

Avoid the Steelers running backs. None of them have much fantasy value this week. Isaac Redman hasn't done anything to distinguish himself. Jonathan Dwyer looked good at points, but now Rashard Mendenhall has a burst. What do you make of this? Simple. You can't trust any of these guys.

Mike Wallace was already trending down at the end of 2011. Wallace went without a touchdown in six of his last seven games. And the one reception was a Kelly Leak-like grab in front of Brown.

Anquan Boldin is no longer a great fantasy option. He's barely a good fantasy option. Boldin has scored just one touchdown in his last eight games.

Forgive me if I don't go nuts for Demaryius Thomas. He's still raw as a receiver and the Steelers allowed the fewest points to receivers in 2011. And sure, Thomas had a huge game against the Steelers on the playoffs. But it's not happening again.

Stevie Johnson was going to be one of my "likes" this week, but he's been skipping practice because of a groin injury, so now you are encouraged to look for other options.

I was setting up my DVR for the upcoming Fall and against my better judgment, I have "The Office" set to record, even though I know it's going to disappoint me. It's the same feeling owners of Dre Johnson feel when they see drop him in to the lineup every week. The run-first Texans aren't going to get many chances to throw the ball. And the impending blowout against the Dolphins should limit Dre's already diminishing value. The good news is he'll likely spend most of the second half on the bench, so he won't pull a hamstring.

ImageIs it my imagination or does "Animal Practice," new this fall on NBC, look like a spoof show they would produce on "30 Rock?" It will be this generation's "BJ and the Bear." (I implore you kids to IMDB "BJ and the Bear." I would have loved to have been in the pitch meeting for "the Bear" show. So we have this idea, a truck driver and his chimp travel across the country getting into all sorts of adventures.

ImageThe most incredible part of this story isn't "B.J. and the Bear" lasted for three seasons; it was the spinoff it produce, "Sheriff Lobo" with Claude Akins (ZAX).

ImageThe IMDB intro for Sheriff Lobo says he's a corrupt sheriff for Orly County, so can I only guess this was the basis for Michael Chiklis' character in "The Shield?" And Dave Dameshek wisely points out as show about a crooked cop is a comedy? "Bear" and "Lobo" have to rank up there with "Hogan's Heroes" as all-time pitch meetings I would have love to have been in.

But again, don't do anything crazy with Dre Johnson. Don't bench him for Randy Moss or something. Unless you are rolling super deep with guys, you have to play Dre. You just don't have to like it.

And please, the next person who says "Hey, Moss has looked good in practice" should be super-kicked and thrown through a barber shop window. Looking good in practice is akin to kicking 70-yard field goals in warmups. Can we see at least one good game before we go crazy about this?

Is it possible to have a touchdown vulture from the tight end position? Jacob Tamme seems like a guy to like a lot out in Denver, but Joel Dreessen always seems to get the touchdowns.

I like Greg Little a lot this season, but he's not going to be a great option against the Eagles this week. But keep him on your roster, he's going to have a good season.

ImageFormer Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell died this week and the debate about his Hall of Fame candidacy will continue to rage. Modell has two huge strikes against him: He moved a very popular team and he fired Paul Brown. You know Paul Brown -- the guy the team was named after. You can't let Modell in. Modell is often credited for "Monday Night Football," but that gives us Jon Gruden on TV every week, so that might actually work against him. I can't endorse Modell being in the Hall of Fame when guys like Don Coryell are still on the outside looking in.

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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