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Fantasy Intelligence Report — Week 4

B.D.N. — Breaking Down News

East

In New York this week running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene were fielding plenty of questions in regard to the amount of playing time each is receiving. Now, according to
The Star-Ledger, during last week’s game against the Miami Dolphins
Tomlinson was on the field for 42 offensive snaps, by an unofficial count, to Greene’s 17.”

What’s interesting here is that Greene was pretty much labeled as the featured starter, but according to hard-nosed back himself he doesn’t think of himself as just that.

“That’s what people say; I wouldn’t say that,” Greene said. “I’m here to do whatever the team needs me to … To me, I don’t look at it as starting. To me, we can both get the job done, and we’re both starters. That’s how I look at it.”

Greene then passed the script to Tomlinson, and let him echo the same sentiments.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Tomlinson, who had 18 touches for 88 yards Sunday. “We’re both the starters. That’s the way they have us; both the starters. Whoever goes in first, we’re both still starters.”

Well, maybe in the Jets’ offensive scheme their both starters, but the way I see it is that Tomlinson has easily surpassed Greene as a viable fantasy option. To add to and back my “Captain Obvious” analysis it is important to keep in mind that in the first three games No. 21 has run the ball just seven more times than No. 23, but has more than double the yardage.

Don’t let them fool you with their team words. Tomlinson is the man in New York, and as long he continues to produce it’s going to stay that way all season, after all he is a future hall of fame runner, while Greene is just a kid with a dream.

West

One of the hot stories out west this week was the firing of 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and the hiring of Mike Johnson. With Alex Smith and the offense looking completely lost, and the team 0-3, a change was definitely needed. Smith has thrown five interceptions to just two touchdowns this season, and prime targets Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree have combined to average seven receptions and 84.6 yards per game to go along with 11 total first downs and zero touchdown receptions.

The good news here is that, according to the
San Francisco Chronicle, Johnson plans on feeding his stars the football as much as he can.

“The way I look at that, Jimmy Raye left a great foundation,” Johnson said in his first press conference Thursday. “I correlate it to two women wearing the same dress. You have football plays, you have an offense but you can have two women wearing the same dress and look totally different. What I’m going to try to do is get the ball to the players on our offense that can make plays, to utilize the talent and the potential that we have here as an offense and get our quarterback and our skill athletes the ball in space where they can do something with it and run.

“One of the basic philosophies I believe in is I think you have to make a defense defend the entire field. You can’t let a defense squeeze you between the numbers so we’re going to do things to make them have to defend the entire field.”

Sounds like a good plan, but I wonder if he knows that in Smith’s only career game against the 49ers’ opponent this week, the Atlanta Falcons, he completed just 44.7 percent of his passes and was intercepted three times.

You have to wonder how long is it going to take the coaching staff to figure out that Smith just might not be cut out to be a consistent and accurate NFL quarterback?

North

Overreaction among football and fantasy fans is pretty much an expectation. This is especially true when it comes to the Green Bay Packers’ 2010 rushing attack. I mean, let’s be honest, the green and gold runners have been spinning their wheels more than the 49ers’ offense since the injury to Ryan Grant, or so says everyone except for head coach Mike McCarthy.

According to the
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, McCarthy insisted after the Bears game that everything went as planned when it came to the running game.

“We went in to the game with a specific run plan. I felt the running backs were productive. Brandon (Jackson) and John (Kuhn) played well with the opportunities they were given. They played us a certain way… the number of attempts is not always the most important factor. I thought the run production was a positive. It would not be smart to run Brandon or John 25 times a game anyway.

“I like our running backs. We’re going to use them accordingly. I’m not trying to sell something that’s not true. Just because you don’t run them 25 times out of the I formation doesn’t mean McCarthy doesn’t like his current roster of backs.”

Now, in McCarthy’s defense Kuhn did average 5.2 yards per carry, and the combination of Kuhn and Jackson combined for more rushing yards (43) than the Cowboys’ combo of Felix Jones and Marion Barber ran for in Week 2 (38), and on five less carries no less.

Having said that, though, the Packers need an every-down playmaking runner to open up the downfield passing attack. The chants for Marshawn Lynch will continue, and contrary to the Ted Thompson historical trade trend chart those chants could be answered in the near future if the price is right and running back play continues to be the Achilles Heel for the Packers’ offense.

F.S.O.T.W. — Fantasy Start Of The Week

I know this may sound odd, but if you’re looking for a quarterback to start this week there’s this guy out in Oakland named Bruce Gradkowski who could lead you down the path to week 4 glory. And if you think I’m kidding, think again.

The Houston Texans’ defense has surrendered two 400-plus yard passing performances this season, and is allowing 26 points per game. Plus, did you know that Gradkowski leads the NFL with 10.6 yards per pass attempt?

Oh, and you may want to consider starting Louis Murphy. Murphy is averaging five receptions and 79.3 yards per game and has been targeted 23 times this season. He is nursing a clavicle injury, and is listed as questionable on the injury report, but indications are that the injury is minor.

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