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If You Don’t Know, You’ve Now Been Informed

Tim Hightower/Roy Helu
– Unless coach Mike Shanahan pulls a Shanahan, Hightower is “The Guy.” Ryan Torain has finally returned to practice, but he’s been officially
Wally Pipp
’ed. Hightower is an interesting RB3, especially in points per reception leagues. We’ve seen Hightower have success before and he seems like an excellent fit in the Redskins’ 1-cut, zone-blocking scheme. Helu has impressed in the preseason and is a late-round flier in fantasy. Because Shanahan is nuts,
Ryan Torain
will be a factor again at some point. I’m not drafting him right now, but he’s an interesting bench stash late in drafts of deep leagues. Shanahan running backs are nice to own for their production, but it’s difficult to stomach the week-to-week roller coaster of trying to figure out which one to start.

Ryan Grant

James Starks
– We had some “
Ryan Grant
is going to be cut” rumors flying around last week. Grant is going to be a Green Bay Packer this season. But his draft stock is falling as Starks sees his stock rise. For those who only remember Starks from the playoffs last season, he has an extensive injury history dating back to college. Think
Ryan Torain
. But he will get to play. So will Grant. Hell, so will
John Kuhn
Alex Green
. So do yourself a favor and don’t reach for a Packers running back. I’d still personally prefer Grant, but Starks might offer the better value later in drafts. I’m not viewing either as anything more than a low-end RB3 until we get some clarity here. This is still a passing offense in Green Bay.

Indianapolis Colts

– Here’s the deal. I expect
Peyton Manning
to start Week 1 and play 16 games this year. I fully expect the Colts to struggle mightily for the first month or so of the season. We saw the same thing in 2008 when Manning struggled after missing training camp after knee surgery. These are still the Colts and there still will be fantasy points galore to be had later in the season. Just temper your expectations early on. Maybe that’s enough for you to say, draft
Tony Romo
ahead of
Peyton Manning
. Maybe. If all of the Colts stay healthy, the only guy who will repeat his success from last year is Manning. If
Reggie Wayne
Austin Collie
Pierre Garcon
Dallas Clark
Joseph Addai
are all healthy, there’s just not enough footballs to go around. Last season there were times when the Colts were down to
Reggie Wayne
Pierre Garcon
Jacob Tamme
and whatever running back they could find. Hence the concentration of targets Wayne and Tamme received. Most of these guys will be owned in every fantasy league, and rightly so. You just might find them to be overvalued on draft day. Or completely undervalued. It will vary from draft to draft. So decide before you go into the draft how you feel about the Colts.

Ben Roethlisberger

Antonio Brown
– It’s tempting just to write “Steelers Offense” here. Roethlisberger has looked as good as any quarterback in the NFL this preseason. And it’s just the preseason, but keep in mind what Roethlisberger did last year. He made it to the Super Bowl after being suspended four games after having the worst offseason of his life. Not to mention he was behind a decimated offensive line that was one of the the worst in the NFL. Now he’s in a much better place mentally behind a line that’s at least marginally better than last season’s. Not to mention the emergence of Brown. He’s not going to have a
Mike Wallace
-style breakout this season, but he should be on your fantasy radar in 12-plus team leagues. And just wait ’til
Emmanuel Sanders
returns. In other words, don’t expect too much from
Hines Ward
Jerricho Cotchery
Heath Miller
. But Roethlisberger and the young wide receivers could blow up this season.

Marion Barber
– Just when you thought you were out, right? Somehow he’s risen from the fantasy dead to look pretty good this preseason. He still was able to run with power and convert short yardage situations the past few seasons in Dallas. But now it appears that he’s gotten a bit of his “burst” back.
Chester Taylor
is on his way out and presumably Barber will take over his role as the goal line running back. Barber is also good at catching the ball out of the backfield. This just smells bad for
Matt Forte
. Not terribly bad, but bad enough that I don’t think he still has RB1 upside in points per reception leagues. He’s now just a solid RB2 in PPR leagues and a low-end RB2 in standard leagues. Barber is an interesting flier late in drafts, especially for Forte owners. He’s got some
Brandon Jacobs
Willis McGahee
-like upside here.

Chris Johnson

Javon Ringer/Jamie Harper
– Johnson signed a new deal with the Tennessee Titans, but he’s not going to be back to being the Johnson we all know and ride for a hot minute when he gets back. The Titans have admitted as much. Meanwhile,
Jamie Harper
has killed it this preseason and
Javon Ringer
is still the guy that the Titans decided was so kill that they cut
LeGarrette Blount
. Ringer was a solid pick in the ninth round for most owners before Johnson re-signed. Harper was worth a shot a few rounds later. All that changes with Johnson back in the lineup.

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