Eric Mack
Sunday September 18th, 2011

Going into the weekend, it was said here it would be a telling week for running backs and rookie Cam Newton. Newton showed flashes of his burgeoning star, running backs rallied, but this writer's bust of the year, Jamaal Charles, looks done.

Charles might be out for the season -- an MRI will determine his status Monday -- while the Panthers' Newton is just getting started.

Newton handled an elite defense like we said he needed to. Now, he looks elite -- even if the turnovers hurt Sunday.

Newton is now the only rookie with consecutive 400-yard passing games to start a career. He could be headed for the greatest rookie year for a fantasy quarterback -- without much of a supporting cast. Scary.

We can't wait to see him against the Jags in Week 3.

As for Charles, unfortunately, we might have to wait until 2012 to see him again in fantasy lineups.

Here are all the games broken down in terms of fantasy news, in brief with this week's Fantasy Football Fast Forward:

• Eli Manning looked fairly pitiful for most of the first half, dealing with some pressure amid offensive line breakdowns and a banged-up receiving corps. He looks far less likely to reach the 30 touchdowns and 4,000 yards he did a year ago. The line and receivers just are not as good this go around.

• Hakeem Nicks (knee) was able to play but he didn't get a lot done other than his short touchdown reception. Nicks remains a must-start fantasy receiver, especially with the Giants' other options now even more banged up than ever.

• Cadillac Williams wasn't able to do much against the Giants' front, so you cannot expect to trust him in Week 3 against the Ravens. Steven Jackson (groin) might return, too. Jackson is a bad play in all leagues anyway.

• Sam Bradford had one of the best games of his career, despite a mediocre receiving corps. Danario Alexander at least looked like a game-breaker who can stretch the field, so consider him off waivers. The Rams are a potentially wide-open offensive team thirsty for a go-to guy. Alexander won't be a possession guy, but he can break the big ones when teams stack against the run, which is the Rams' first priority when Jackson is healthy. Mike Sims-Walker is more of the possession receiver, but he won't be a great play against the Ravens, neither will Brandon Gibson.

• Mario Manningham (concussion) and Domenik Hixon (knee or calf) are banged up. They could have had more productive nights with better health, but you cannot count on them for Week 3 against the Eagles' elite corners.

• Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs split carries here and both will be used heavily in Week 3 against the Eagles, who were gashed in the second half on the ground Sunday night. Bradshaw and Jacobs are both going to get a lot of touches, even more than they had running out the clock against the Rams here.

• It didn't take long for Michael Vick's injury risk to reveal itself, ironically on a hit in the pocket and not out of it. He is dealing with a mild concussion and Vince Young (hamstring) wasn't ready to replace him. Instead, Mike Kafka came on and played well. Kafka will likely start next week against the Giants, if Vick cannot go. It was a good sign Kafka can handle the passing game, because we might not have to downgrade the Eagles' primary offensive options if Vick doesn't play.

• One week DeSean Jackson was the star. The next it is Jeremy Maclin. There is no real way to tell which star receiver is going to have the big day, so you have to keep both active. What you should do is not count on Brent Celek. His promising preseason hasn't carried over to the regular season.

• Tony Gonzalez sure isn't showing his age. With the elite corners blanketing the receivers, he was Matt Ryan's go-to guy. Expect that to happen whenever the Falcons are playing elite corners. Gonzalez will rise up weekly rankings.

• Julio Jones looks impressive, but he isn't consistent enough to consider as more than a bye-week replacement at this point.

• Fantasy owners patient through Ryan's bad Week 1 at Chicago were rewarded for their loyalty. Ryan is the type of QB that can be active no matter the matchup. You should only sit him in his bye week. If you have a strong alternative, trade him. Ryan will be your man all year.

• LeSean McCoy sure isn't giving up anything to Ronnie Brown. McCoy is taking the next step into the elite among fantasy RBs. He is a must-start in all weeks now.

• With Newton's presence, Steve Smith is a must-start. Any questions?

• DeAngelo Williams might finally get some traction in Week 3 against the Jags. Jonathan Stewart, too, especially after his 100-yard receiving game.

• James Starks clearly needs to be the Packers' primary ballcarrier, and Ryan Grant to move to the backup spot. The split makes them a bit risky against the Bears next week.

• Jordy Nelson caught just one ball, but he made it count, unlike Donald Driver, James Jones and Randall Cobb (who actually had two catches). Nelson is the No. 2 receiver to Greg Jennings in fantasy for the Pack.

• Jermichael Finley was solid and looks like an every-week starter.

• Brandon LaFell caught a touchdown, but the Panthers' secondary options in the passing game are actually the tight ends. Greg Olsen will have better weeks going forward. LaFell could be a sleeper in deeper three-receiver leagues because of Newton's burgeoning star.

• Jason Campbell won't have too many more 300-yard passing games -- likely none -- but Ryan Fitzpatrick looks like the real deal for fantasy owners. He was impressive in the rally and used his wide receivers on the outside heavily. Steve Johnson was banged up during the game, so former Gator David Nelson got a lot of targets and made good on them. It is time to consider Fitzpatrick a legit fantasy option, along with Nelson. Week 3 against the Patriots could be another shootout.

• Darren McFadden didn't get the goal-line looks, but he still got his touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air. You're going to have to start him against the Jets next week, but he won't be getting anything on the ground. Michael Bush, McFadden's touchdown vulture, has to sit against the Jets.

• With all of the injured Raiders wide receivers, rookie Denarius Moore enjoyed a coming-out party. He was great in camp and could be a breakthrough for Oakland, an organization struggling to find a good outside receiver for years. Moore is going to be a good one, and he might even be viable in three-receiver leagues this season -- not next week against the Jets, though.

• Scott Chandler caught another touchdown, but he is merely a bye-week replacement type because he doesn't get enough targets. You cannot guarantee short touchdown receptions every week.

• Fred Jackson owns the touches over C.J. Spiller, who did have some big runs himself. Jackson will be viable start against the Pats, as the Bills will try to play keep away.

• Wow, the Chiefs are bad, and it only gets worse with the potential loss of Jamaal Charles for the season with a torn ACL. Thomas Jones becomes a must-have runner, but not someone you can trust on a regular basis. The Chiefs schedule only gets tougher, too.

• Jahvid Best is off to a good start again this season, which makes him a must-start in all leagues as long as he stays healthy.

• Matthew Stafford has to stay healthy, too, but he looks like a fantasy starter. He might even be able to sneak up into the elite.

• Rookie receiver Titus Young is an intriguing sleeper to add in deeper leagues that require more receivers. He is still behind Calvin Johnson, the tight ends (Brandon Pettigrew/Tony Scheffler) and Nate Burleson in the pecking order, though.

• Dwayne Bowe wasn't worthless even if the Chiefs running game and Matt Cassel look like it right now. Start Bowe against the Chargers, but no other Chiefs after that.

• Fred Davis has emerged as a must-have tight end. We said he trumps Chris Cooley now, but he trumps a lot of the tight ends you are starting in fantasy leagues. Pick him up. This isn't a flash in the pan, like so many other big Week 1s from the position.

• Tim Hightower had another solid game, but this time Roy Helu got a bigger chunk of the touches. Helu is going to be a nice sleeper later in the year, but Hightower looks like a solid start in all leagues.

• Remember Early Doucet from Week 1? Yeah, you can forget him now. He was a wasted waiver pickup after his fortunate long touchdown.

• Beanie Wells was solid again, and he should be a strong start again in Week 3 against the woeful Seahawks.

• Jeff King had another touchdown, but he isn't yet worth using in most fantasy leagues.

• Kerry Collins had another bad day. The Colts need to make a change at the quarterback position, or they are going to be mailing it in early. They tried to establish more of a running game, but they split the carries between Joseph Addai and Delone Carter -- making both a bit too risky to trust in fantasy. They will be worthless in Week 2 against the Steelers.

• Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie are players to cut. It is painful, because you paid a premium for them on draft day, but no Peyton Manning makes them waiver-wire fodder. There are just too many other viable wide receivers worth owning.

• Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne are the only Colts to consider against the Steelers next week -- and they are marginal options.

• Colt McCoy's breakthrough season isn't taking off, mostly because his receivers are just so mediocre. It will be interesting to see if the Browns can open it up against the Dolphins.

• The quarterbacks in this one had better weeks, but they still look more like bye-week replacements. That's noteworthy mostly for Josh Freeman's owners, because they thought they were getting a fantasy starter. They didn't. He's a fringe option in a standard league. We expected this regression.

• Percy Harvin was better, and he is clearly the only Vikings receiver worth owning right now. This is an Adrian Peterson and Harvin show. They'll be productive again against the Lions in Week 3.

• LeGarrette Blount was headed for another bad week, but he broke through in the second half to reward patient fantasy owners. He still needs more touches than he got. He should get them against the Falcons next week.

• Bucs WR Preston Parker picked up for the struggles of Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow. He isn't worth picking up at this point, though. Williams and Winslow will be better in future weeks.

• Joe Flacco fell flat on his face in this one. If not for Ray Rice, the Ravens wouldn't have gotten anything offensively.

• Lee Evans made some catches, but the Ravens had nothing exciting going in the passing game. They didn't run enough either. Let's chalk this up as a bad week for the game plan, coming off that huge victory over the Steelers.

• Chris Johnson had a busy day, but he couldn't break out. The best news for his fantasy owners is the success of Matt Hasselbeck. He makes the passing game a threat, so Johnson will have a huge week against the Broncos coming up.

• Kenny Britt is the breakthrough receiver of the year. Hasselbeck legitimizes him, and Britt is in that loved category of a third-year receiver. He is a must-own and must-start.

• Nate Washington had a big week and is a solid No. 2 threat next to Britt. He is a viable start in Week 3, too, if you need a WR off waivers.

• Ben Roethlisberger survived a scare on a blow to his knee, but he and the Steelers defense had a rebound game here. They are must starts, regardless of the matchups.

• Mike Wallace is, too. He has developed into Big Ben's go-to guy and is an elite fantasy option to keep active in all leagues.

• Rashard Mendenhall had a better game, but it should be noted Isaac Redman mopped up here. Redman will be mopping up against the Colts, too. The Steelers are going to pound on the Colts next week. Mendenhall won't be damaged by Redman as much as kept more fresh by him.

• As expected, there was nothing to like about the Seahawks offense. It will be that way most weeks. Tarvarvis Jackson should lose his job, but it might not come before the suspect Cardinals secondary comes to town. Marshawn Lynch might be the only Seahawks player to use in that matchup.

• Blaine Gabbert looked much more effective in his brief time than Luke McCown did. The struggles at quarterback make everyone except Maurice Jones-Drew on the Jags worthless to fantasy owners. Marcedes Lewis' absence was noteworthy here.

• Shonn Greene wasn't great as we expected, but he did at least get out of LaDainian Tomlinson's shadow. Greene should be a monster against the Raiders next week.

• Plaxico Burress was noticeably absent. He apparently is more of a bye-week replacement-like receiver. Mark Sanchez was decent, not great, but he did do a good job of finding his primary guys, Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, often. Keller is headed for a career year.

• Devery Henderson has to be considered a must-start fantasy receiver now. He was a great addition off waivers, if you got him. Jimmy Graham and Robert Meachem (only because of a touchdown) are good, too, with Marques Colston out, but Henderson is clearly the leader of Drew Brees attack.

• Mark Ingram has been outpointed by Darren Sproles because of receptions and touchdowns, but Ingram is going to finally get some traction against the Texans in Week 3. It is good for Ingram owners to see him get the majority of the carries over Pierre Thomas. Sproles is viable in PPR leagues as a flex or bye-week running back, but Ingram will wind up being the Saints RB to own.

• Jay Cutler wasn't bad, but it is clear the Bears are Matt Forte and a pile of nobodies for fantasy owners. You have to start Forte against the Packers in Week 3, but the Bears will need to find someone to go to on the outside. Cutler is getting killed by the pass rush, too.

• The Tom Brady machine makes Deion Branch look like an elite receiver; yet, Chad Ochocino is waiver-wire fodder. Don't cut Ochocinco at this point, but you can't consider him a starter.

• Aaron Hernandez was leading the way until a late knee injury. He should be OK, though. Rob Gronkowski picked up a second touchdown after Hernandez's injury. Both tight ends are must-starts in all leagues, clearly.

• Antonio Gates did not catch a pass, and he could have been dealing with an injury of some sort. He was noticeably on the sidelines as the Chargers tried to rally. He will be one to watch during the week. A Gates injury could make backup tight end Randy McMichael a sleeper.

• Vincent Jackson had a breakthrough game in Gates' absence. He should be huge again against the lowly Chiefs next week, along with all of the Chargers leaders.

• Ryan Mathews ran well and should be a must-start in Week 3. Mike Tolbert still was a factor as a receiver out of the backfield, but Mathews might have put some distance between him and Tolbert on running calls. Tolbert had a costly fumble -- something that had put Mathews in the doghouse last year.

• BenJarvus Green-Ellis finally made an impact late as the Patriots were running out the clock. He should get plenty more chances for late production like that, particularly in Week 3 against the Bills. The Pats won't let the Bills rally late, by burning the clock like they did here.

• Tony Romo came back from a rib injury to have a big finish. He will remain a must-start, as long as he plays against the Redskins next Monday night.

• Dez Bryant's absence meant a huge night for Miles Austin and Jason Witten, but don't consider Jessie Holley or Kevin Ogletree sleepers -- no matter if Bryant misses more time.

• Felix Jones struggled mightily against the 49ers' solid run defense. He survived an injury scare of his own, but DeMarco Murray wasn't impressive either, and Jones was back in the game later. Jones and Murray are sits against a Redskins team that has been decent against the run in the run through two games.

• Alex Smith and the 49ers receivers are a mess, which is no real surprise. There is nothing to see here and nothing to use even against a Bengals team that allowed us to find a sleeper WR from the Broncos (more on that below). Vernon Davis is a bust and a risky play going forward. The bad QB play just ruins him.

• The Texans say Arian Foster wasn't still hurt as much as just fatigued. He did not look good, while his backup, Ben Tate, looked great. This is going to be a real mess for Foster owners. He and Charles look like busts of the year through two weeks. We will find out a lot about Foster -- and all the Texans -- at New Orleans next Sunday, assuming Foster's hamstring still isn't an issue.

• Daniel Thomas surprised many in his debut, making Reggie Bush a part-time running back and a bad fantasy option all over again. Thomas and Bush won't be great plays against the Browns next week, though.

• So much for Chad Henne being a sleeper. This indeed is an improved Texans defense. Henne is a candidate to send right back to the waiver wire. There are just too many fringe quarterbacks who will be more consistent.

• Henne's struggles made Davone Bess and Anthony Fasano worthless for fantasy owners. They are merely bye-week replacements because of the inconsistent QB.

• Hello, Eric Decker. The sophomore had a breakthrough day amid Brandon Lloyd being inactive and Eddie Royal limping off. Decker is going to be the darling pickup in all leagues this week -- deservedly so. Decker has legit potential and is a viable option to use in Week 3 at Tennessee.

• While Cedric Benson fell flat on his face in a favorable matchup, Andy Dalton shocked many with his first 300-yard game with a pair of scores and no picks. He is a lot better than this writer has given him credit for, but you still shouldn't use him in most leagues yet -- even against the 49ers in a favorable match next week. Benson is going to be a marginal option against that 49ers run defense, though, so perhaps it could be a busy day for Dalton again.

• Dalton's emergence legitimizes talented rookie A.J. Green. This was a career day and one that will make him a solid start in most leagues now. Two career games, two touchdowns -- and he was even covered this time around, something the Browns failed to do on his one catch in Week 1.

• Jerome Simpson had good numbers, but it was mostly the function of his 84-yard catch-and-run late. Don't consider him viable in most leagues yet.

• Knowshon Moreno's absence made Willis McGahee one of the most productive running backs of the week. McGahee is mostly going to be a Moreno TD vulture in most weeks, but if Moreno is out again, clearly McGehee is worth a look as a flex player.

Eric Mack writes fantasy for, including the Start 'em, Sit 'em, the Weekend Fantasy Watchlist and his Sunday night staple, Fantasy Football Fast Forward. If you need a further clarification on lineups this week, hit him up on Twitter. You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy.

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