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Fantasy News of the Week – 10/4

Engram and Branch both to return?

Matt Hasselbeck and the Seattle Seahawks offense have had a rough start to the 2008 season. Numerous injuries to the wide receiver core have slowed the offense and have forced the west coast passing juggernauts to resort to running the football more than they would like. Not anymore. Week five will see a new “old” look offense against the New York Giants as both Bobby Engram and Deion Branch are slated to play, but, as the

Seattle PI pointed out, head honcho Mike Holmgren isn’t quite ready to make the claim that his offense is back in full swing. “To think it’s going to be Star Wars out there, that’s probably not the way it works,” Holmgren said. “Bless their hearts, they’re coming back. They’ve been hurt and it’s nice to have them back.” As for Hasselbeck himself, well he’s just happy to have someone to throw to on the inside. “If you talk to most quarterbacks, they would say in a situation like that it’s important to have a guy inside — a tight end or slot receiver — you trust and you feel good about,” Hasselbeck said. “We have both of those right now.” If Engram’s shoulder is fully healed, look for him to have a big game against the Giants.

New York loves to rush the passer, and the best way to offset that on offense is with quick hits via short slants and middle curl routes — an area in which Engram excels.

What is up with Derek Anderson?

Fantasy owners are already getting their “bust” and “I told you so” signs out and are staking them in the heart of

Cleveland. The sour realization of underachievement has filled the

Cleveland skies and it all starts with their recently paid quarterback Anderson. But what is truly wrong with Derek Anderson? According to the

Cleveland Plain-Dealer — nothing! “I’m throwing the ball well,”

Anderson said. “My arm doesn’t hurt me like you guys think it might. My brains are fine. I mean, we’re digging pretty deep right now.” While most think that the concussion

Anderson suffered on August 18th against the Giants has affected his play, head coach Romeo Crennel thinks otherwise. “I don’t think so,” Crennel said about whether the concussion may be affecting

Anderson’s play. “I think that the missed time has an impact on that. He missed games and missed practice time. He was cleared as far as the concussion goes, and I think his decision-making is still pretty good. He still commands the huddle, his verbiage involved in the offense, he’s able to get that out. I think the missed time has more to do with it and also the missed weapons around him. It’s just not him by himself. It’s always somebody else he has to depend on.”   Yeah, that someone else is the ever so disappointing baby Braylon Edwards — who apparently has had a taste for Butterfingers this season. The bottom line is that

Anderson can’t do it himself, and if Braylon doesn’t come around and put some Velcro on his paws, he’ll just have to put his nook in his mouth and deal with Kellen Winslow, Jr. stealing all his touches. For fantasy owners’ sake let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Porter wants the ball more.

One catch. One lousy catch. It’s what Jaguars wide receiver Jerry Porter recorded in last week’s dramatic overtime victory over the Texans. Stunned, puzzled and bothered could be some of the words that could describe the emotions of fantasy owners everywhere, but what about Porter himself? Try cocky — well at least that’s the impression one would get according to the

Florida Times-Union. “Who’s made a big play when the ball ain’t thrown to him? So throw the ball to me. I’ll catch it. That’s it,” Porter said on Wednesday when asked about the possibility of him turning in to the Jaguars playmaker. “It’s just a matter of [quarterback David Garrard] throwing and [me] catching. I feel comfortable enough where if they call the plays and we go out and execute, it should be pitch and catch.” Porter signed a big contract in the offseason, and wants to live by it, but coach Jack Del Rio thinks otherwise. “At some point, he’ll get more involved and catch more balls,”

Del Rio

said. “That will happen as we continue to build this thing. But we’re not going to force it to justify any contract or try to make somebody happy. We’re just going to work our team and put our best effort out there to try and win games. I don’t think this needs to be a daily story about one person.” As in

Tennessee,

Jacksonville

is not a fantasy owner’s paradise when it comes to finding a solid every week starter at wide receiver, and I don’t think anything will change. The only worthy receiver of starting for the time being is Matt Jones, who leads the team with 21 receptions and 244 yards. Overall, I would stay away from Jaguar receivers altogether this week, unless you’re in a bye week bind and don’t have any other choices. The Jaguars host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night football this week.

Marshall and friends are on the minds of the Bucs secondary

.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did a pretty good job of limiting the Green Bay Packers’ wideouts to just a few big plays, but “pretty good” may not be good enough when they line up across from the Denver receivers Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Brandon Stokley, especially with the way the Denver air attack has been striking opposing defenses this 2008 season. And, according to the

Tampa Tribune, the Bucs may be worried. “You think you cannot get better than Greg Jennings and Donald Driver for

Green Bay, and hey, you do,” Bucs defensive backs coach Raheem Morris said. “Now here comes Marshall, Royal and Brandon Stokley, three good wideouts. You’ve got to embrace it.

Marshall is emerging in this league and becoming one of the best. Eddie is getting his feet wet. Stokley is an old, crafty veteran who has been doing it for years.” The Buccaneers’ real concern has to be figuring out how to limit the developing star

Marshall. “I’ve seen him break a lot of tackles,” Bucs cornerback Philip Buchanon said. “We’ve got to wrap him up, finish strong, play hard and hopefully everybody else on defense — defensive line, linebacker and safeties — rallies.”

Marshall may be one of the few receivers you can get away with starting every week no matter who the opponent is, and this week should be no different.   “If he’s not the best receiver I’ve seen, he’s one of the best. He’s unbelievable,” Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. “He can beat you after the catch. He can beat you period. He’s a great player.”

Fox not frustrated with his rushing attack … yet.

To some, the Carolina Panthers rushing attack may be an utter disappointment four games in to the season, but according to the

Charlotte Observer, head coach John Fox insists that his 19th-ranked rushing attack isn’t as disappointing as people may think it is. “What people need to realize, the defense dictates that,” Fox said Thursday. “There’s a little more to inside the game than meets the regular person’s eye. We try to establish the run and most people who play us know that. We’ve seen similar philosophies in who we’ve played against. It’s a game within the game. But we’re not disappointed in our running game.” The Panthers love to run the football, yet both running backs, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, are averaging 25 carries and 102.5 yards per game combined. It may not be disappointing to Fox, because the Panthers are 3-1, and 2-0 at home, but to fantasy owners who expected more out of both running backs, it has to be. This week the Panthers host the 30th-ranked Chiefs rushing defense who are allowing 176.5 yards per game, so if there is a week to start either Panther running back it’s this one. Yes, the Panthers will be without starting left tackle Jordan Gross, and rookie right tackle Jeff Otah is listed as doubtful, but the Chiefs defense is also dinged up as linebacker Donnie Edwards will be out once again this week, while defensive end Tamba Hali and cornerback Patrick Surtain are probable with knee and shoulder issues.  Start either running back if they’re your best options.

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