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Fantasy News of the Week – 11/29

Should Ronnie Brown be confident?

Vince Lombardi once said, “Confidence is contagious, so is lack of confidence.” But is too much confidence deadly for a team hoping to make the playoffs, and a running back destined for

Hawaii? In the past four weeks the St Louis Rams defense has been gobbled up by opposing featured backs. The Cardinals’ Tim Hightower started the feast in Week 9 when he rushed for 109 yards on 22 carries; since then the Cards rookie has combined for just 85 rushing yards in four games. Then, in Week 10, the Jets’ Thomas Jones rolled over the Rams defense, recording his best fantasy game of the season — 149 yards and three touchdowns. Frank Gore followed Jones with a 108-yard, two-touchdown performance, and just last week Bears rookie Matt Forte ran for 139 yards on 21 carries and scored twice as well. See a trend? But it gets better. According to the

Miami Herald, the Rams may have to start Mr. Irrelevant 2008, David Vobora, this week at middle linebacker. But Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown knows that he has to stick to what he does best no matter who’s playing on the opposing defense. “I know the opportunities will be there, but at the same time, you don’t want to get overconfident and start doing things you don’t normally do,” Brown said. “I’ve got to approach it the way I normally would.” This game couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Dolphins are going to need to establish the run heading in to the last month of the season if they want a shot at making the playoffs. “Hopefully, by the end of the year we will be where we need to be with our running game,” quarterback Chad Pennington said. “When you get into cold weather games and games with that magnitude, you’ve got to be able to run the ball. We’ve made strides.” As for Brown this week … well I think the stats tell the story. Just put it this way — he’s a definite start.

Schaub might return on Monday night?

A torn medial collateral ligament — it’s the injury Texans quarterback Matt Schaub suffered that has had him sidelined for the past three weeks, but can he truly be ready to come back and play this Monday night against the Jaguars? According to the

Houston Chronicle, the quarterback seems to believe so. “They aren’t having me do any more (in practice) than I feel I can go out there and do right now,” Schaub said. “I feel like I can do a whole lot more, too. It’s really feeling good. I guess I’m kind of surprising myself at how well I’ve come along, given the time. I feel like I’m getting to the point where I can go out there and play. We just have to see how it goes in the next couple of days. I feel like I can go out there and do my job.” Wide receiver Andre Johnson is looking forward to having Schaub back as his quarterback, and seems shocked at how far along he is with the injury. “He told me when he got injured that he’d be back out practicing the week of this game — the Monday night game — and I told him he was crazy,” said Johnson, who missed seven starts last year with two sprained ligaments in his knee. “But he must have had some miracle rub or something happen. To be honest, to see him out there he doesn’t even look like he’s had an injury. He’s moving around real well. He looks good. He’s our quarterback. To see him come out there and practice with us, of course that’s a boost. You’re happy to see him out there, and you just can’t wait to get a chance to play with him again.” It won’t be easy for Schaub if he does play as he’ll have a brace on the damaged knee, which he says is comfortable and shouldn’t affect his style of play. “It doesn’t hinder me,” Schaub said of the brace. “I guess if I was a scrambling, running quarterback, it might affect me a little bit, but that’s not who I am.” In the Texans’ September 28th matchup against the Jaguars, Schaub passed for 307 yards and three touchdowns — one of his best performances of the season. The Jaguars rank towards the bottom of the league in passing touchdowns allowed this season (18), and will have their hands full regardless of who is quarterbacking the Texans offense.

Packers preparing for a cat rush?

The Carolina Panthers have picked the right time of the year to waltz in to

Green Bay and steal a game after getting walloped by the Atlanta Falcons last week. The November air of the sometimes frigid Lambeau Field can be too cold at times for aerial attacks, especially for those who are struggling; as is the case of the Panthers and Jake Delhomme. The good news for the team from the Carolina sun is that their offense is built to have a great deal of success running the football; something that the Packers team, according to

Green Bay Press Gazette, has been preparing for.   “They want to establish themselves as a power running team,” Packers defensive tackle Colin Cole said this week. “We’re planning on a smash-mouth game — a game where they want to try and bloody our noses. It’s going to be a dogfight.” But are the Packers defensive players really truly worried about the two-headed monster (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart) that is averaging 133.7 rushing yards per game? “I wouldn’t say they’re Adrian Peterson,” left end Aaron Kampman said. “But they’re definitely very good backs, solid, physical runners. Both of them break a lot of tackles.” The Packers defense ranks 26th against the run, and will most definitely be challenged by both Williams and Stewart in Week 13. Williams is having his best campaign in the NFL and is just 117 rushing yards away from his first 1,000 yard season of his career as he continues to get the bulk of the work on a week-to-week basis. Meanwhile, Stewart has had his rookie ups and downs, but is a difference maker in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Overall, if the Packers defense plays anything like last week it will be a long day for Lambeau observers, and a productive one for the fierce cat backs.

Former Jet, Martin, compares

Leon

to Dave Meggett.  

Fantasy owners have seen first hand what Jets running back Leon Washington can do with the ball when given the opportunities.

Washington leads the NFL in all-purpose yards and yards per carry (5.5) for running backs with at least 50 carries. But according to the

NY Daily News, after taking

Washington under his wing, Curtis Martin had a feeling the NFL’s latest big time playmaker would be something special. “I remember going through the mental stage with him,” Martin, the Jets’ all-time leading rusher, said in a phone interview. “He’d sit there, listening to every word that came out of your mouth. He’s very coachable. I always had a good feeling about

Leon.” In the last five games,

Washington has scored five touchdowns at critical stages of games — all of which have contributed to the Jets five straight wins. “He always keeps you on the edge of your seat,” said Martin, who described

Washington as a faster Dave Meggett – the all-purpose dynamo who played for the Giants, Patriots and Jets in the ‘80s and ‘90s. “Every time they kick the ball to him, I’m saying, ‘Okay, this is a touchdown.’ I knew he was fast, but he’s faster than what I thought. If he’s even, he’s leavin’.” The Jets seem to be following the mold of the other

New York team, which should benefit them as a whole down the stretch and in to the playoffs. In fact it is reasonable for fantasy owners to expect

Leon’s numbers to be similar to that of the big blue’s Derrick Ward; unless of course your league rewards points for return yards — then expect more.

Shark Attack:

News/Injury Rundown

The Broncos-Jets game this Sunday will feature old and new gunslingers, but are Brett Favre and Jay Cutler truly alike? According to the

Denver Post, Cutler seems to think so. “You see it,” he said. “We both take chances. We both throw into tight coverage. We both make some throws we probably regret, watching them on film. But that’s part of it.” Through 32 career games Cutler is statistically better than Favre, but knows he’s still far from No. 4’s greatness. “I have a long way to go,” Cutler said. “You’re talking about Brett Favre, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. He’s accomplished a lot throughout his career. I’m just kind of getting started. We’ll see, hopefully I’m still a starter five to 10 years from now.”   This has to be the matchup of the week.

According to the

Indianapolis Star, backup safety Melvin Bullitt insists he will be ready to fill-in for the injured Bob Sanders. But is he prepared? “It’s been like this all season,” Bullitt said, “so there are no excuses now. You just go out and prepare like you’re going to play every down and be ready.” In 11 games and seven starts, Bullitt has recorded 58 tackles, four interceptions and has deflected six passes.

According to the

St Paul Pioneer Press, Bears tight end Greg Olsen may be in for a big receptions day, and the Vikings defensive players don’t even mind. “It’s just like basketball. Would you rather give up a three or a two?” Vikings linebacker Ben Leber said. “We’d rather give up a two any day. If you’ve got a deep threat in (Devin) Hester to get down the field, we don’t want to give up the deep bomb. That’s a big momentum swing. If they catch some underneath routes for 10, 12 yards, as long as they don’t run very far after the catch and we make good tackles, we’ll live to play another down.” Olsen had one of his best games this season against the Vikings in Week 7, as he recorded six receptions for 74 yards and scored a touchdown in the Bears’ 48-41 shootout win.

According to

The Times-Picayune, even though running back Reggie Bush is still listed as questionable, he and coach Sean Payton insist that he will play this Sunday against the Buccaneers. Bush practiced every day this past week on a limited basis.

According to

The Tampa Tribune, the Buccaneers know they need to run the football more in November and December; something they’ve struggling with as of late. “You have to be able to run the ball in this league, especially in November and December,” Bucs feature back Warrick Dunn said. “That’s something we’ve got to get a little better at.” The

Tampa

Bay offense shouldn’t be too concerned this week as their opponent — the New Orleans Saints — are 24th in the NFL in pass defense.

According to the

NY Daily News, Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress will not play this week against the Redskins. Meanwhile, running back Brandon Jacobs participated fully at practice for the second straight day on Friday, and may be ready to go by Sunday’s game. Jacobs is listed on the injury report as questionable. His 5.4 yards per carry average was missed in last week’s game against the Cardinals as Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw averaged just 3.25 yards per carry combined. Jacobs sets the tone so his return is crucial to the Giants smash-mouth winning style of play.

According to the

Associated Press, Steelers running back Willie Parker practiced for the second successive day on Friday and could play Sunday at

New England. The “fast” running back is listed as questionable on the injury report.

According to the

Washington Post, running back Clinton Portis is ailing on his knee, hip and ribs, and has scabs on his elbows and shins. Portis is the NFL’s leading rusher, but has taken a beating for it this season. “If you take common folk and hit them across the arm with a bat, they’re going to take the proper time to rest,” Portis says. “In football you never get a proper healing. You get maybe seven days, and most teams don’t allow you that, they need to see you back at practice on Thursday or Friday. You get four days to recover being hit by a bat. And then you get hit by

another bat. Common folk get hit by a bat, they might not go to work for two weeks.” The Redskins have overworked Portis this season and may pay for it if they make the playoffs. Number 26 is officially listed on the injury report as questionable.

IDP Rundown

Out: DE Aaron Schobel (foot), CB Jabari Greer (knee), LB Nick Barnett (knee), S Marlon McCree (ankle), CB Tye Hill (knee), LB Donnie Edwards (hamstring), CB Patrick Surtain (quad), and CB Nathan Vasher (hand).

Doubtful:

S Donte Whitner (shoulder), S Chinedum Ndukwe (foot), DE Antwan Odom (shoulder), and LB DJ Williams (knee).

Questionable:

LB Keith Ellison (ankle), CB Samari Rolle (thigh), LB Gary Brackett (hamstring), S Bob Sanders (knee), CB Champ Bailey (groin), LB Nate Webster (knee), LB David Harris (groin), S Eric Smith (head), LB Will Witherspoon (shoulder), S Jermaine Phillips (forearm), DE Andre Carter (foot), LB London Fletcher (foot), LB Keith Brooking (knee), DE John Abraham (neck), CB Deshea Townsend (hamstring), LB Teddy Bruschi (knee), CB Ellis Hobbs (shoulder), DE Richard Seymour (knee), DE Ty Warren (groin), DE Tamba Hali (ankle),

Probable: LB Patrick Willis (ankle), LB Rashad Jeanty (shin), S Sean Jones (ankle), S Nick Collins (knee), CB Charles Woodson (toe), CB Dwight Lowery (thigh), DE Shaun Ellis (back), DE Justin Tuck (lower leg), CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), and DE Jared Allen (shoulder).

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