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Fantasy Ticker: Week Four

Injuries are always the theme of the week. This week is no different. Note: “Watch list” players are just that, players you watch. Most online software management systems have a way to flag and watch certain players. That’s what this list is for.   QUARTERBACKS Vince Young, Eagles Young began practicing last week as he comes back from a hamstring injury. Although others will disagree with me, I’m banking on him starting, based on Mike Kafka’s performance coming in for an injured Michael Vick (hand). Kafka went 4-of-7 for 35 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Young will produce with his legs but struggle with consistency passing. He’s worth grabbing as I can see Vick missing time and Young can be productive.   RUNNING BACKS Kendall Hunter, 49ers Frank Gore (ankle) came out and said he played hurt, and his numbers show that (17-42-0). Kendall Hunter (9-26-1 rushing, 2-12-0 receiving) is the backup and would start if Gore can’t go. He needs to be picked up as the handcuff to Gore, and he also has playmaking ability but is only depth at this point. Cadillac Williams, Rams Cadillac (18-75-0 rushing, 1-4-0 receiving) saw most of the carries this week as the team played Steven Jackson sparingly (4-23-0). Jackson’s quadriceps is not 100 percent yet. Until then, Cadillac will have a role. His real value is to Jackson owners as his playing time wasn’t known until after the game started. If you don’t own Jackson, you’ll have to wait to see what his status is this week. Possibly all the way up to Sunday morning again.  Montario Hardesty, Browns Hardesty (14-67-0 rushing, 3-19-0 receiving) was outstanding with 4.8 yards per carry and showed the team he can carry the load when called upon. Peyton Hillis should be back next week, but he’ll cede playing time to Hardesty as the team looks to keep Hillis from wearing down. Hardesty is the handcuff to Hillis, but grab him because we don’t know how much of a role a healthy and effective Hardesty will have. Remember, this could be a one-game fluke.  LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets It wasn’t hard to see Tomlinson’s (6-38-0 rushing, 5-116-1 receiving) big game against a team susceptible to pass-catching backs. However, Tomlinson in this role has value in PPR leagues and is worthy of being taken in that format. He’s someone you would play with the right matchup or as a bye-week or injury fill-in. Don’t go overboard here, because he’s merely depth. Chester Taylor, Cardinals Taylor’s (8-20-0 rushing, 1-12-0 receiving) below-average fantasy performance is because of diminishing skills but also because he’s on a new team and learning a new offense. We don’t know the status of Beanie Wells (hamstring), but one can assume he’ll be ready to go as he was a surprise inactive Sunday. Taylor’s only value is to Wells owners as he’s not the back he was, and if Wells went down long term, the team would have to go out and find someone else to create a committee approach. He’s only worth taking in large leagues.   WIDE RECEIVERS Lance Moore, Saints Moore (9-88-1) is finally healthy and still available in some leagues. He’ll be QB Drew Brees’ favorite target until Marques Colston (collarbone) comes back. Even then, all of the Saints’ wideouts will see their time on the field and he’ll still be productive. He’s an immediate pickup and start.   Brandon Gibson, Rams Gibson (5-55-1) has not been flashy but has been steady with 20 targets, and like the rest of the receivers, he’s still learning the offense and developing chemistry with QB Sam Bradford. Gibson is someone you pick up for depth and potential matchups. Denarius Moore, Raiders Moore (4-34-0 receiving, 1-23-1 rushing) is not playing like a rookie as the Raiders do everything they can to exploit his talent. He’s seeing time on the field, and that will increase as his six targets and rushing touchdown prove. He’s quality depth with starter potential, but he’ll be inconsistent. Donald Jones, Bills Jones (5-101-0) had a great game, but this was a shootout that saw the Bills being forced to go to the air to keep up. Out of the three wideouts, he will be the most inconsistent. He’s worthy a pickup for depth, but don’t expect to see the next Stevie Johnson or even Donald Nelson here. He’s a bye-week or injury fill-in. Nate Washington, Titans Washington (8-92-1) had another solid game and becomes the team’s No. 1 wide receiver with Kenny Britt (knee) out. However, he benefited from Britt seeing the opponent’s best defenders. Washington will now have to deal with that, so temper your expectations, but he’s still a must pickup. Torrey Smith, Ravens Smith (5-152-3) exploded this week with three touchdowns while replacing Lee Evans (ankle), who was out. One would assume he’s earned playing time, but Evans will be given every opportunity when he comes back. That doesn’t change what Smith did, and this was a glimpse of the team’s expectations. Grab and stash him to see how the Ravens use him moving forward. Steve Smith, Eagles When Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) and then Riley Cooper (concussion) went down, it opened the door for Smith. If neither player is able to go, Smith would see extended playing time. He’s worth a pickup, but if Vince Young is under center, you may need to leave him on your bench to see how Young performs. He’s fantasy depth at this time. Titus Young, Lions Young (4-51-0) has had two games now where he’s been productive. As stated before, there aren’t enough footballs to go around in Detroit, and his production came at the expense of Nate Burleson (2-12-0). Will that continue? No matter, he’s worth a grab and stash to see if he can continue to improve and find a role as an injury or bye-week fill-in. Dane Sanzenbacher, Bears Sanzenbacher (5-27-2) should be on everyone’s watch list after getting seven targets and a touchdown in each of two consecutive games. He’s replacing Earl Bennett (chest), and no timetable has been given for his return. However, with his play, Sanzenbacher has earned more time on the field, so he diminishes any value Bennett had, anyway. Until Bennett comes back, he’s worthy of a pickup and, because of his two touchdowns, a spot start depending on the defense. Two games is a small sample, so temper your expectations.   TIGHT ENDS Greg Olsen, Panthers I saw Olsen (7-57-1) dropped in a lot of leagues after last week’s performance. What many didn’t realize is that Olsen had touchdown opportunities last week, and this week’s 10 targets show he’s an integral part of the offense. He’ll be inconsistent as he’s not an elite tight end, and Jeremy Shockey (3-30-0) will eat into his numbers as Shockey’s seven targets prove. He makes a weak No. 1 option but one that will improve as the season progresses. Todd Heap, Cardinals For the first time this season we’re talking about a different Cardinals tight end. Heap (6-61-0) had a whopping 10 targets to lead Arizona receivers, but unless you’re desperate, he’s still a watch-list player. The TE role has been inconsistent in this offense outside of Jeff King’s two fluke touchdowns. In larger leagues he may be worthy of a pickup, but let’s see consistency first. At best he’s a No. 2 tight end. Ed Dickson, Ravens Dickson (5-51-0) had a solid game, but the fact QB Joe Flacco threw 48 times tells me you’re fine leaving him on the waiver wire, but watch him. Let’s see if he continues to improve and if his role grows. In larger leagues you may consider picking him up, but that’s about it as he’s only a No. 2 tight end. Randy McMichael, Chargers If Antonio Gates (foot) misses any time, McMichael (4-51-0) will step in. McMichael only has value in larger leagues and is nothing more than a No. 2 tight end with potential spot starts. Put him on a watch list as his targets will probably be inconsistent, so let’s see him prove us wrong. Jared Cook, Titans The team needs Cook (2-12-0) with Kenny Britt (knee) out, but he’s yet to produce anything to warrant a pickup, so watch him to see what happens to the receiving game with the loss of Britt.

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