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Scouting Report: Ten players to put on notice in fantasy this season

Ah, fantasy football:

I hate the way you disappoint me,and, Chris Johnson, the way you do, too.I hate when I lose because of you,Cam Newton, and the way you threw.Fantasy football two thousand, one-two,here are the 10 things I hate about you:

1. CJNoK, lead scapegoat of our Week 3 Scouting Report

The Titans are a mess, possibly because they are breaking in a young quarterback or because they just faced two buzz saws in Week 1 and 2. The point is the excuses are getting old for Johnson for a second-consecutive year.

Last year it was a holdout. Then his offensive line. Now he's making excuses for himself by blaming everyone but himself:

"Even when I went for 2,000, I didn't think I was perfect, but I wouldn't sit here and say I'm to blame," Johnson said Thursday. "I'm only going to be as good as my line is going to be. We've got to work together and get better.

"I'm the highest-paid guy on this team, so, of course, I get the criticism," Johnson said. "But it's something I don't let get me down."

But Johnson has us down, and if he doesn't find room against what is a potentially solid Lions run defense, this could be another long season. The Texans (twice), Steelers, Bears, Dolphins, Jets, Packers and a bye are on the schedule. That's eight of the final 13 weeks with very little out of your first-round pick.

"It's a team effort when things are not going well," coach Mike Munchak said. "If it was one thing, we'd make an adjustment to that one thing. We're just going to have to plow ahead this weekend, and hopefully we'll get a lot more opportunities than eight to hand the ball off."

What is this writer's thought? Well, it looks as if Johnson just doesn't know how to make one cut and go. Instead, it's step, nothing; step again, nothing; step thrice, get blown up. He should plant his cut foot in the ground once and shoot the little gaps that are there. Instead, he's dancing in place and is a non-moving target.

The hits have to be taking away his explosiveness, too.

"Has it affected his body? Sure," Munchak said. "But I don't think that's an excuse as to why we're not running the ball well."

In the end, we're sick of the excuses. CJNoK, we tired of you.

2. Charles, Fantasy Enemy No. 2, most definitely not in charge

Declining talent is one thing. Lack of touches is something else. We still need to find out which is the case with the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles, who is struggling coming off knee surgery.

He ripped off a 46-yard run in Week 1 against the Falcons, looking somewhat like the back who came into the season with the highest per-carry rushing average (6.1) in NFL history (over Hall of Famer Jim Brown's 5.2) among ball-carriers with as many attempts. Then, against the Bills, he rushed just six times for three yards.

"I'm not 100 percent, but when I played a couple of years ago, I wasn't 100 percent," Charles told the Kansas City Star. "Any player feels the same way I feel now: sore. I'm sore every week. "I don't want to worry about my knee too much. I just want to go out there and play football."

The Chiefs need to let him and put him in something less than a timeshare with Peyton Hillis.

"As last week's game] developed, the other players were doing decent, so we didn't feel a need to put him back in at that moment," coach Romeo Crennel told the Star about last week's limitations on Charles.

"... Will it be like it was before the reconstruction? I don't know that will be the case."

Charles says he isn't quite that incapable of carrying the load.

"I got banged up, but I went back in the game," he told the paper. "It was basically like a sting, and I felt it. I went on the (exercise) bike and I got my feeling back, so I went back in the game. It wasn't a big deal."

The Saints have given up almost 300 yards and a league-worst five touchdowns to running backs through two games, which ranks third-worst in fantasy.

"I feel real good," Charles told the paper after being a full participant in practice this week. "It was a disappointing game, but I feel I'm getting better and better every week, so hopefully I'll be able to turn it on this week."

We say, mixing metaphors and quoting Major League: "Jobu, I was good to you. If no help me now, I say 'Blank you' Jobu, I do it myself."

3. Run D-Mc, walk this way, and step into my office ...

Darren McFadden, you're fired. How in the world can you lay an egg against the Dolphins? And do that a week before you have to face that Steelers run defense?

Yay, you're healthy for once! Then: Aw gawd, we wish you were hurt and not goose-egging our lineup.

The excuse thus far this year for McFadden is not, if only he was healthy. It is: Well, he's too fast for a zone-blocking scheme, outrunning his blocks; He needs to be patient.

"Let's keep things in perspective for a second here," offensive coordinator Greg Knapp told SFGate.com. "We've played two games in the regular season on offense. We've had two different centers and a right tackle who played half a game last week. We need some patience.

"You can't develop a scheme in two weeks in a regular season, especially when last week we faced the No. 3-ranked rush defense from 2011. ... The scheme will be fine. It just takes some time."

OK, now go get 'em against that shabby Steelers front.

"Going with the zone scheme is one of those situations where you're going to have to keep hitting it until you get going," McFadden told the web site. "It's going to be one yard here or two yards there, but eventually it's going to start popping."

One or two yards? That is about right against the Steelers for a back.

"McFadden, I don't care what offense you put him in, he's going to be fine," Knapp said. "He's a good running back in all schemes. We'll be fine."

He better be fine, because we can't sit this bum right now.

4. Larry Fitz, and the name fits, as in on the fritz

Fantasy football is a game of fits and starts. With Fitzgerald, we need the starts because we've already had enough of the fits.

After his one-catch outing in New England, Fitz returns to the desert, where quarterback Kevin Kolb has deserted him. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Fitzgerald's poor performance was related to the Pats taking him away with double coverage.

Double coverage is not something in the Eagles' vocabulary, not when you have corners like Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque-Rodgers Cromartie. Giving help to those elite corners is a waste, because that's how they benefit a defense. You can single them up on anyone and save the added defender for stopping something else.

The Cardinals have nothing else reliable on offense. Kolb has to do a better job of getting the ball to the Cardinals' playmaker. Fitzgerald is good enough to beat single coverage whenever he gets it, against whomever gives it to him.

Fitz, we 're frustrated with you, but we won't desert you like Kolb.

5. My lineup has a Stafford infection

Matthew Stafford is one of three quarterbacks to ever pass for 5,000 yards and 40-plus touchdowns, along with Hall of Famers Drew Brees and Dan Marino. This season Stafford is closer to a Hall of Shamer with his four picks, two touchdowns and a two-game passing total that amounts to around one Eli Manning Week 2 performance.

Chalk it up to a funk. Stafford is going to light up the Titans this weekend, making Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew and perhaps even Nate Burleson and Titus Young monsters like Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Martellus Bennett and now Ramses Barden has been for Eli.

We are still wondering if maybe Stafford's 2011 was a fluke. We don't think so, but we'll be unhappy you if it winds up being so.

6. Yo, Adrian!

Mr. Adrian Peterson, we sat you in Week 1 because we figured you would be too limited. You tore it up (and we're not talking about your reconstructed knee).

We trusted you in Week 2, and you blew ... it.

Now, like Run D-Mc vs. the Steelers D, what are we to do as the best run defense in the NFL (San Francisco 49ers) comes to town?

Curse you.

You're playing for us in fantasy, but like lineman Richie Incognito said to Ryan Tannehill on Hard Knocks: "Now, don't (blank) it up."

7. Keeping up with the Jones

Julio Jones was a world-beater in the preseason and Week 1. He was Hide-e-o Jones in Week 2.

Jones was considered by most as the breakthrough fantasy star of the year, the kind who won't let you down, no matter the matchup.

Nope. In Week 2 it was Roddy White's turn in the Matt Ryan air show.

Mr. Jones, don't do that again.

8. Who removed the slot machine?

The Pats' slot machine, aka Wes Welker, has been inexplicably removed from our gaming room, or at least rigged. For some reason in the indecipherable mind of Bill Belichick, Welker had been getting phased out of a Pats offense that was once the best in football because Welker was gashing teams through the soft underbelly of opposing secondaries.

Sure, Aaron Hernandez warranted more targets. But Julian Edelman? Come on. You cannot fool us into thinking "Edelman is a better fit for those plays" than Welker.

With Hernandez injured, Welker may have a path back to fantasy stardom. Let's just hope Belichick doesn't keep playing his fantasy-killing mind games.

9. Cam-shafted

Many missed on Newton out of training camp a year ago, then watched him post the greatest rookie season for a quarterback in history. This year, many skipped on Robert Griffin III because Newton just had to be a once-a-generation phenomenon. Newton was the real deal and thus became a second-round pick for many teams.

Save for some rushing yards against the Saints, Newton has looked like a soft soph with two passing touchdowns and five interceptions through three games.

Most figured there was no matchup in which to sit a top-five quarterback pick. Now fantasy owners are left to surf the red zone channel this Sunday for a potential backup to start until Newton's sophomore growing pains stop.

Thanks for making us consider picking up Matt Cassel, Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and, gasp, Alex Smith, Cam.

10. Niners, you're making me spew four-letter words

It easy to rank the best defense in the NFL. The 49ers are a bunch of bad dudes. Eleven mean men swarming to the football and putting opposing players in the training room.

Then why in the world must fantasy owners look at the fantasy D/ST scoring totals and see the first defense off the board in many drafts in the bottom 10 in scoring through two weeks.

Some passed on Tony Romo, C.J. Spiller, Malcom Floyd and Tony Gonzalez in Round 7 to select the Gold Rush defense.

Those mistakes are making us look foolish. And we hate looking foolish.

So, fantasy football, this is what we hateplaying a game supposed to make us feel great.Instead, we are left with this empty feelingAnd frustrations that start the skin peeling.Let's finally get the season going, start to ball,so we don't have to be hating you at all.

Most added

1. RB Andre Brown, Giants -- He was just fine in his first start. So good, in fact, Ahmad Bradshaw's owners might be sweating over more than just the neck injury.

2. WR Donnie Avery, Colts -- Andrew Luck's going to make everyone around him better. Avery is a factor in PPR formats at least until Austin Collie (concussion) can start to contribute.

3. RB Daryl Richardson, Rams -- He trumped Isaiah Pead and might even get a start for the mysterious slide of Steven Jackson. The rookie runs with a purpose.

4. TE Martellus Bennett, Giants -- He adds a new dimension to Eli Manning and the Giants. He has moved into the must-start category with three touchdowns in three games.

5. TE Dennis Pitta, Ravens -- He is officially listed above Ed Dickson on the TE depth chart now, but Pitta is getting snaps as a slot WR a lot. This is your poor man's Aaron Hernandez.

6. K Justin Tucker, Ravens -- The rookie has displayed accuracy and a big leg. He is a lethal fantasy option with those traits and that offense positioning him.

7. WR Brian Hartline, Dolphins -- He was finally something greater than a flat-line. Ryan Tannehill is going to struggle, but he's also going to be playing behind a lot and throwing a lot of targets in the short, rhythm passing game. Hartline is a potential PPR start, albeit not a great one this week vs. the Jets.

8. RB Jackie Battle, Chargers -- The expected return of Ryan Mathews (broken clavicle) sours Battle's fantasy value just when it could have been getting good.

9. WR Danny Amendola, Rams -- A revival of Sam Bradford was going to make a sleeper out of someone. Amendola is the PPR monster Wes Welker should-a, used-a be.

10. WR Andrew Hawkins, Bengals -- He looks like a poor man's Victor Cruz. That's some lofty praise. Absolutely worth owning and stashing right now.

Most dropped

1. Oakland Raiders D/ST -- That stinker against the Dolphins seals it: The Raiders are not worth owning.

2. TE Fred Davis, Redskins -- People are giving up way too soon. RGIII is going to figure out how to get the ball to his tight end. Davis is their No. 1 weapon with Pierre Garcon (foot) banged up. He'll be back among the most-added soon, if not next week.

3. Cincinnati Bengals D/ST -- This has been an awful start and this week's matchup against RGIII should make things worse before they get better.

4. RB Roy Helu, Redskins -- It is a shame Mike Shanahan's doghouse-nature has chosen to marginalize this talent. If you don't need the last guy on your bench, Helu is an extremely talented player waiting in the wings behind Alfred Morris and Evan Royster.

5. Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers -- Turf toe tends to be a kiss of death, but Dwyer practiced in full and is facing a Raiders defense that was shredded by the Dolphins. This might be Dwyer's last chance to impact fantasy before the bye Week 4 and probable Rashard Mendenhall (knee) return in Week 5.

6. WR Titus Young, Lions -- Stafford is off to an awful start, which has made Young a non-factor. The Titans figure to change all that this week.

7. RB Ronnie Brown, Chargers -- He is a waste of (roster) space now as the last choice of the Triple-Bs: Battle, Curtis Brinkley and Brown. A healthy Mathews makes all three of those wastes of (roster) space.

8. RB Rashad Jennings, Jaguars -- The knee injury probably didn't cost him as much as Maurice Jones-Drew's return.

9. TE Greg Olsen, Panthers -- He was one of the few bright spots for the Panthers on Thursday night. The lack of receivers at Cam Newton's disposal makes Olsen a solid start going forward. He'll be popular on waivers next week.

10. WR Stephen Hill, Jets -- Ah, the fickle fantasy footballers. They add him after his surprising debut and then cut him after a stinker against the Steelers. Uh, a lot of good veterans fail against that defense. Hill is going to surprise those impatient owners all over again.

Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. Track his weekly starts and sits every Wednesday, his Scouting Report on Friday and his Fantasy Fast Forward on Sunday nights. You find also him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice or challenging him to a head-to-head fantasy game @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).

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