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Fantasy News: Week 3 Edition

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Fantasy news is rollin’!

Parker ready for fast Cincinnati surface?
Fast Willie Parker has been anything but this 2009 season, as he’s rushed for 66 yards and is averaging a brutal 2.7 yards per carry. The Steelers as a team are ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (70.5) and really could use a jolt.  Some have already suggested that Rashard Mendenhall or Mewelde Moore could be that jolt, while Willie is no longer fast enough.

But then you look at the Steelers’ Week 3 opponent and you can’t help but to smile, and, according to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review smiling is exactly what Mr. Parker may be doing come Sunday. Why? One word: Fieldturf.

"I don’t want to say that," Parker said, "but you know the turf field is for speed guys. I don’t want to say it plays a role. It probably helps a little bit."

A little bit? In three career games at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Parker has averaged 130.3 yards and has broken the century mark in all three.

"Willie’s always hungry," receiver Hines Ward said. "He wants to go out and put on a great performance. So far, he really hasn’t had a chance to display that, so I think he’s itching to come out for the divisional game at Cincinnati and have a great game. Hopefully, we can go out there and let him have another great day running the ball."

Could this be Parker’s breakout game? It better be, otherwise the Steelers may need a fresh set of legs to carry the majority of the load moving forward if Willie puts together another terrible showing.

Cowboys owner still confident in Romo
Former Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett can run his mouth all he wants, but according to the Associated Press Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is still confident in his current signal caller.

" I couldn’t feel better about who I’m lining up with, Romo at quarterback," Jones said Friday. "We’re going to be good there and all right. If you’re going to ask Tony, which we are, to make plays, then you will have interceptions. There's no doubt in my mind he will be improved, and his arrow is still going up in that improvement area."

This whole Romo hogwash story has been nothing but a bother. Fantasy owners have nothing to be concerned over here. 

Other Cowboys notes …
According to the Dallas Morning News, running back Marion Barber is trying his best to get in to good enough physical shape to play on Monday night. 

" Marion wants to play on Monday, I think that’s the key," head coach Wade Phillips said. “He wants to play. We were able to practice him some, so we’ll just have to see. I can’t predict it but obviously he wants to play and he’s trying to get treatment and trying to get ready to play.”

There have been mixed stories about Barber’s status. I’m just going to leave it at -don’t start Barber, but do start Felix Jones no matter what happens. And if it comes out tomorrow that Barber won’t play, then Tashard Choice may be worth a start in deeper leagues as well.

One more note … according to USA Today, wide receiver Roy Williams wants the ball more and is starting to get frustrated over the fact he’s not.

“Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Williams told the paper. “Why is it not? I feel like I’m a playmaker. I feel like I can change the game. I just do what I’m supposed to do. I run my route and hopefully the ball will be there. If not, I move on to the next play then move on to the next one.’’

I don’t feel bad for Williams, especially after seeing him drop what I consider for him to be a catchable ball on his way to the endzone last week. Sure he was only targeted four times against the Giants, but he doesn’t exactly run the best routes and hasn’t shown that he has reliable hands yet. As of right now, I consider him an erratic start who will haunt fantasy owners for weeks to come. He’ll either break a big one or be a major bust on any given Sunday, or for this week, Monday. 

Jackson returns to practice, Maclin to start?
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson returned to the practice field on Friday for the first time this week, and coach Andy Reid didn’t seem too concerned about Jackson’s status this week.

“He did a nice job out there,” Reid said. “Took all the reps.”

As for the starter opposite Jackson, that spot could belong to rookie Jeremy Maclin

“I’m excited to have this opportunity and I’m going to make the best of it,” Maclin said.

Current starter Kevin Curtis is still battling a sore knee, and his five receptions and 70 receiving yards in the first two games combined aren’t exactly what the Eagles or fantasy owners were probably hoping for. I think it won’t be long until the rookie busts out and takes the No. 2 spot for good, and with the injuries lingering for both Jackson and Curtis, Maclin may be a player fantasy owners should consider picking up now.

Johnny Knox makes quick adjustments.
From villain to hero. This is the story of rookie Johnny Knox’s 2009 NFL season thus far. One week after being vilified by Bears fans for allowing the Packers’ Al Harris jump in front of a Jay Cutler pass during the final drive, Knox comes up big with a six-catch, 70-yard performance against the defending champs. His hero-like performance was topped off with the game-tying touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, and the rest is history. So why has it been so easy for Knox to adjust to the NFL game, especially considering he came from a Division II school? According to the Chicago Tribune, head coach Lovie Smith is asking himself that same question. 

“I don’t know exactly the reason,” Smith said when asked why Knox has been able to adjust so quickly. “If you would talk to him, he probably saw it playing out this way. I just know the guy has made progress seems like every time we’ve put him in position to.”

The next question is: Will Knox continue to get more opportunities over guys like Earl Bennett?

“I wouldn’t say over Earl,” Smith said. “Johnny’s one of the guys in the rotation. We play a lot of guys at that position. No more than that. [We’re] pleased with what Earl has done. Some games, you get into the game and a guy gets hot. And you play him a little bit more and you go to him a little bit more.”

The one thing to remember here is that he does play in the Bears offense with plenty of question marks. Sure, Knox has looked good and is starting to develop in to Cutler’s prime target, but let’s also not forget that running back Matt Forte hasn’t even started his engine yet, and when he does it may not matter who’s getting all the looks. Knox may be worth a waiver pickup, but just don’t be surprised if he turns out to be an early-season wonder and not a consistent all season long performer. 

On the injury front …

RB Jamal Lewis - Doubtful
RB James Davis - Probable
DT Shaun Rogers - Questionable
S Ed Reed - Questionable
S Troy Polamalu - Out
DE Antwan Odom - Probable
RB Cedric Benson - Probable
RB Clinton Portis - Questionable
QB Jason Campbell - Probable
LB Ernie Sims - Doubtful
RB Maurice Jones-Drew - Probable
WR Kevin Walter - Questionable
RB Frank Gore - Probable
WR Percy Harvin - Questionable
RB Adrian Peterson - Probable
RB Jerious Norwood - Questionable
WR Randy Moss - Questionable
WR Wes Welker - Questionable
WR Julian Edelman - Questionable
QB Tom Brady - Probable
WR Dwayne Bowe - Questionable
LB Derrick Johnson - Questionable
QB Matt Cassel - Probable
QB Donovan McNabb - Doubtful
WR Kevin Curtis - Doubtful
RB Brian Westbrook - Questionable
WR DeSean Jackson - Questionable
RB Brandon Jackson - Out
S Atari Bigby - Out
RB Danny Ware - Out
WR Domenik Hixon - Questionable
WR Mario Manningham - Probable
DE Justin Tuck - Questionable
S Kenny Phillips - Out
RB Carnell Williams - Questionable
WR Antonio Bryant - Questionable
RB Mike Bell - Out
WR Lance Moore - Out
QB Drew Brees - Probable
RB Pierre Thomas - Probable
TE Jeremy Shockey - Probable
LB Paul Posluszny - Out
WR TJ Houshmandzadeh - Probable
LB Lofa Tatupu - Doubtful
LB Leroy Hill - Out
TE Bo Scaife - Questionable
CB Lito Sheppard - Out
RB Knowshon Moreno - Questionable
WR Brandon Stokely - Questionable
RB LaDainian Tomlinson - Out
LB Joey Porter - Questionable
LB Shawn Merriman - Questionable
WR Anthony Gonzalez - Out
S Bob Sanders - Out
DE Dwight Freeney - Questionable
WR Steve Breaston - Questionable
WR Anquan Boldin - Probable

My Week 3 Hot Starts
QB Philip Rivers vs. Miami
RB Tim Hightower vs. Indianapolis
WR Chad Ochocinco vs. Pittsburgh
TE Greg Olsen at Seattle

My Week 3 Cold Sits
QB Ben Roethlisberger at Cincinnati
RB Julius Jones vs. Chicago
WR Justin Gage vs. NY Jets
TE Visanthe Shiancoe vs. San Francisco

Speaking Out: Pressing the fantasy football panic button
Injuries can kill a fantasy season; every fantasy owner should know this by now. Currently, 57 players are listed in the “On the injury front” section of this column, and that’s probably not even one-fifth of the minor and major injuries listed on this week’s official report. Do you know the other action that kills fantasy seasons? 

Panic. 

It’s the word that can best describe an employee trying to meet their boss’ deadline on Friday afternoon. It’s the word that can be seen on those Staples commercials embossed on that red button, as if you could just press it and everything would make itself better. And, of course, it’s the word that every fantasy owner abides by when they feel their team is full of injury-depleted, production-less “bums” who don’t deserve the privilege to be on their team, especially considering they were defending champs last season. What happens next? They don’t even get a simple wave, just the boot.

I’m already seeing it - fantasy owners dropping players like Greg Olsen, Steve Breaston and Rashard Mendenhall due to the lack of production. Or the pissed off winless parting ways with running backs like Steve Slaton and Matt Forte for players that don’t carry nearly as much value for a full season. In one trade on CBSSports.com, Forte was traded for Cadillac Williams. In another I saw Slaton traded for David Akers and Tim Hightower. You don’t trade one of your top picks for a kicker! 

Don’t panic. The season is young yet, and I guarantee you the person in first place in your league right now probably won’t be that same person sitting on top come Week 13, which leads me to part two of panic mode.

What if you were to reverse the fortune? In other words, instead getting ready to panic because you’re losing and not scoring points, you’re ready to panic because you have way too many star performers on your team. 

Again, don’t panic. You’re in the driver’s seat. Keep your star performers.  Remember, as I stated above, “Injuries can kill a fantasy season.” The last thing you need is to trade away depth only to have unfortunate injury occur to your starters, which ultimately will put you - once in the driver’s seat - back in the passenger’s seat getting ready to panic once more.

The moral of this “Speaking Out:” the fantasy football “panic” button may not be the button you should press this early in the season. Don’t panic. Manage. The wins will come.

Good luck. 

Thanks for reading!

Eric Huber is a staff writer for Fantasysharks.com.  He also has the privilege to contribute to the Fantasy Sharks Gameday Advisor on Sundays at 12:00 PM EST. E-mail him at e.huber12@yahoo.com .