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Recent posts by Pat Fitzmaurice
1. Randy Moss — When Moss takes his first snap with the Titans on Sunday, he'll have played for three teams in a span of seven weeks. He has to be getting tired of filling out W-4 forms, direct-deposit forms and insurance forms for his employers … don't you think? Some important questions on the eve of his debut with the Titans: Will Moss be an integral part of the Tennessee offense right off the bat, or will he be more of a decoy this week against the Dolphins? Will he play a full complement of snaps right away? How well will he mesh with Vince Young? How will the presence of Moss affect the way opponents defend Chris Johnson? Will the Titans' other pass catchers benefit from the addition of Moss, or will he cut into their numbers? And the most important question about his relocation to Nashville: Does Randy Moss like country music?
2. Michael Vick — Donovan McNabb will be under considerable scrutiny when the Eagles visit the Redskins on Monday night. How will McNabb respond after a late-game benching two weeks ago? Will another game against his former team provide additional motivation? Those are compelling angles, but to fantasy owners, McNabb is far less interesting than his Monday-night counterpart, Vick. McNabb probably will be a starter in fewer than half of all fantasy leagues this week; Vick will be a near-unanimous starter. I've been very skeptical of Vick all season. Perhaps this is a good time for a mea culpa. I never had any doubts about Vick's running ability. It's his passing ability, or lack thereof, that I figured would be his eventual undoing. But Andy Reid and his staff have done a remarkable job of making Vick's passing an asset rather than a liability, and Vick's decision making has improved immensely since his days in Atlanta. He's an effective passer now, and I can no longer claim he isn't. I fully expect him to feast on the Redskins and their 31st-ranked pass defense.
3. Peyton Hillis — After thundering for 184 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots last week, Hillis is pounding at the door to the clubhouse of elite running backs. He'll have to be granted entry if he can do to the Jets what he did to the Pats. The Jets have a better run defense than the Patriots, though. Rex Ryan's crew is giving up 87.4 rushing yards per game and has only yielded three rushing TDs all season. But would any fantasy leaguer dare bench Hillis at this point because of a daunting matchup? (Didn't think so.)
4. Tom Brady — A substandard game last week in a lopsided loss to the Browns should temporarily shush any Brady-for-MVP talk. Instead of ubiquitous praise, maybe there should be discussion about what's wrong with Brady. For Brady's fantasy owners, what's wrong is this: He has gone more than 11 months without a 300-yard passing game, and it took a luck-of-the-Irish deflection last week for Brady to have his first multiple-TD game since Week Three. The Patriots are about to play their second consecutive road game against an AFC North opponent, this time against the Steelers. No one runs effectively against Pittsburgh, so it will be up to Brady to generate yardage and points against what may well be the NFL's best defense.
5. Percy Harvin — Following the trade of Randy Moss, Harvin became Brett Favre's official go-to guy last week, catching nine passes for 126 yards in the Vikings' come-from-behind win over the Cardinals. But how long will Harvin remain the go-to guy? Sidney Rice is close to returning from a hip injury that has kept him out all season, and he might be back this weekend when the Vikes visit Chicago. Then again, Rice's return isn't necessarily a bad thing for Harvin's fantasy owners, since Rice will attract more defensive attention in a two-WR formation than Bernard Berrian would. Perhaps the bigger concern for Harvin's fantasy owners is that his migraine headaches returned this week. The migraines aren't likely to keep him out of action, but it's possible they could reduce his effectiveness.
6. Mike Sims-Walker — There hasn't been a streakier player in fantasy football this season. He has had two 100-yard games (including a 153-yard game last week) and two games in which he's been completely shut out. After the two 100-yard games, his next best single-game yardage total was only 46 yards, although he did score a TD in that game. Sims-Walker should be a good bet to put up nice numbers this week against a league-worst Houston pass defense, but the operative word is "should." There's always the chance that he catches one pass for seven yards and Sims-Walker owners are left scratching their heads, wondering why he disappeared this time.
7. Jahvid Best — Isn't the fleet-footed rookie about due for an explosion? Ever since his three-TD masterpiece against the Eagles in Week Two, Best has been solid but unspectacular. In fact, he hasn't scored another touchdown since the outburst against Philly, and while his yards-from-scrimmage numbers have been respectable, he's still looking for the first 100-yard rushing game of his pro career. With starting QB Matthew Stafford out with yet another injury to one of his porcelain shoulders (and with backup Shaun Hill's availability in question as of this writing), the Lions may need to lean heavily on Best this week. His matchup is favorable: He'll be facing a Bills run defense that ranks last in the NFL and is giving up 178.3 rushing yards a game.
8. Matt Schaub — What's wrong with Schaub? After a breakout season in 2009 and a 497-yard, three-TD performance against the Redskins in Week Two, it seemed as if Schaub was ready to take his place among the NFL's upper-echelon quarterbacks. But he has been very ordinary since that big day against Washington, with only one 300-yard game and six TD passes in the six games since. Part of it may have to do with the absence of OLT Duane Brown, who should be close to rust-free after coming back from a four-game suspension last month. Part of it may have to do with ace WR Andre Johnson playing hurt, and with TE Owen Daniels also dealing with health issues. (And by the way, Houston-area police should start conducting a missing-person search for WR Kevin Walter, who has gone three games without a catch despite starting every one of those games.) A date with the Jaguars and their 28th-ranked pass defense could be just the get-well present Schaub and his fantasy owners need.
9. Eli Manning — The youngest Manning has been on a roll, with 12 TD passes over his last four games, and 290 or more passing yards in three of his last four. This week he gets a home game against the Cowboys, who submitted a collective letter of resignation last Sunday night during a 45-7 shellacking in Green Bay. With the Cowboys having given up 18 TD passes this season, and with Dallas defensive backs appearing only mildly interested in covering opposing receivers these days, Giants WRs Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham figure to have little trouble getting open. Manning might be able to put up some crazy, win-you-a-fantasy-game-by-himself numbers in this one.
10. Brandon Marshall — Randy Moss won't be the most disgruntled receiver in the house when the Titans visit the Dolphins on Sunday. Marshall expressed frustration with the Miami offense after it was punchless in a Week Nine loss to the Ravens, hinting that head coach Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Dan Henning aren't quite on board with the Marshall Plan. Marshall's reception and yardage totals aren't too dissimilar to the ones he produced in Denver over the past three seasons, but after scoring 10 TDs in 2009, Marshall has scored only once over the first half of the season. The klieg lights will shine brighter on Moss this weekend, but Marshall's performance will be nearly as compelling. It's possible Marshall will have better chemistry with Chad Pennington than he has had with Chad Henne, who was benched this week.