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Recent posts by Pat Fitzmaurice
1. Ben Roethlisberger — Big Ben's fantasy owners are excited about his return from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy, and the owners of Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Heath Miller are pretty jazzed about Roethlisberger's return, too. The Steelers' passing game will now be a whole lot more menacing (on the field, that is). Will Roethlisberger show rust in his first game back? That's probably less of a concern for his fantasy owners than the very real possibility that the Steelers will completely smother a Browns offense that will be giving rookie QB Colt McCoy his first professional start. If Cleveland can't squeeze out a few points to make this game interesting, the Pittsburgh passing game might get to knock off early.
2. Hakeem Nicks — This freakishly talented receiver is blossoming into a full-blown superstar, and fantasy owners who bet on a Nicks breakthrough are being richly rewarded. After only five games he already has 33 receptions for 409 yards and six TDs. With his ideal WR size, remarkably fluid movements and a set of hands stickier than toffee, Nicks looks like he'll rank among the best receivers in the league for years to come, and it's possible he'll be a consensus top-five receiver in next year's fantasy drafts. Nicks was dominant last week in the Giants' road rout of the Texans, catching 12 passes for 130 yards and a TD against Houston's papier-mâché secondary. He has another favorable matchup this week, with the Giants hosting the Lions and their fire-hazard pass defense.
3. Tom Brady — Welcome to the post-Moss era, Mr. Brady. At least you won't have anyone in your locker room saying you have an effeminate haircut. Brady has lost his best deep threat but still has some interesting weapons at his disposal. There's the shifty Wes Welker, of course. There is perhaps an expanded role in the cards for dynamic rookie TE Aaron Hernandez. Speedy youngster Brandon Tate will get chances to stretch the field, Julian Edelman and Taylor Price might get more snaps, and old friend Deion Branch is back. It will be fascinating to see how Brady spreads the ball around this week against the Ravens, who rudely evicted the Patriots from last season's playoffs, intercepting Brady three times and holding him to just 154 passing yards on 42 throws.
4. Marshawn Lynch — With a fresh start in Seattle, Lynch is promising to go into "beast mode" … and just in time for the Halloween season. Trouble is, his new supporting cast is only slightly less frightening than the one he left behind in Buffalo. With the NFC West title free to be claimed by the first team in the division to show vital signs, the Seahawks won't bother working Lynch into their offense slowly. But Seattle's new running back will face a tough Bears run defense in Chicago this weekend, which makes Lynch an iffy fantasy play.
5. Andre Johnson — The near-unanimous No. 1 receiver in this year's fantasy drafts isn't having a vintage Andre Johnson type of season so far, and a sprained ankle may be costing him a bit of his usual magic. Matt Schaub was trying his best to get Johnson the ball last week, just missing him on what would have been a long TD pass. Johnson finished with five catches for 95 yards, which wasn't a bad day considering how the Giants' pass defense repeatedly disrupted Houston's passing attack. Johnson is due for the sort of big day he had against the Redskins in Week Two, but this week he'll be challenged by a Chiefs pass defense that managed to put the clamps on the normally lethal Indianapolis passing game last weekend.
6. Felix Jones — Jones finally turned in the first 100-yard rushing day of his NFL career, carrying 15 times for 109 yards last week against the Titans. So, was this the breakout game we've been waiting for? Maybe not. Admittedly, Jones looked friskier against Tennessee than he had all season. But it should be noted that 34 of those rushing yards came on a play where two Titans defenders had Jones in the crosshairs but collided with each other Three Stooges-style. The explosive speed Jones showed during his first two years in the league appears to be gone, possibly due to his curious decision to bulk up in the offseason. And yet the extra weight doesn't seem to be helping Jones push piles or break arm tackles. That Jones got 15 carries last week vs. only six for Marion Barber is encouraging for Jones' fantasy owners, but his outlook for the season isn't as bright as last week's numbers might lead you to believe, and his matchup against the Vikings in Minnesota this Sunday is a daunting one.
7. Malcom Floyd — The Chargers' unwillingness to give any ground in their contract stand-off with Vincent Jackson might speak to their faith in Floyd's abilities. (Or Chargers GM A.J. Smith is just a real stubborn fellow.) Floyd piled up 213 receiving yards last week against the Raiders, including a 41-yard TD catch. Is there more where that came from? Philip Rivers has been throwing it a ton, and Floyd and Antonio Gates are far and away his best pass-catching options. This week, Floyd gets to face a Rams defense that just gave up three TD passes to the Lions and backup QB Shaun Hill.
8. Matt Forté — This guy can be awfully good when he gets just a little bit of help from his offensive line. After a couple of quiet outings, Forte erupted for 166 rushing yards and two TDs last week against the Panthers, whose rushing defense really isn't all that bad. The Bears were forced to commit to their running game last week with Jay Cutler sidelined by a concussion and backup Todd Collins repeatedly throwing passes to guys wearing the wrong-colored uniforms. What will the Bears' offense look like now that Cutler is expected back, presumably with a game plan that reduces his health risks? And can Chicago's wobbly offensive line continue to create the sort of rushing lanes that Forté had last week?
9. Ryan Torain — With Clinton Portis out indefinitely with a groin injury, Torain will be the main man in the Redskins' running game for the foreseeable future. He wasn't terrible last week against the Packers, but his final rushing numbers weren't especially impressive: 16 carries for 40 yards. Torain has a good chance to put up far more handsome stats Sunday night when the Colts bring their Swiss-cheese run defense to Washington.
10. Kenny Britt — Continuing to work his way out of Jeff Fisher's doghouse, Britt caught four passes for a season-high 86 yards and a TD last week in the Titans' road win over the Cowboys, and he now has had a TD reception in each of his last three games. Britt's talent is undeniable, and at age 22, the sky's the limit for him. But is he ready to emerge as a reliable fantasy performer? Tennessee isn't exactly an ideal breeding ground for young pass-catching talent. The Titans have a run-first offense, with Chris Johnson as the featured attraction. But Britt seems to have a good rapport with Vince Young, and this week the Titans play a Monday-night game against Jacksonville, which ranks 29th against the pass and has given up a league-high 12 TD passes.