Fantasy news and views

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News: Seahawks WR Nate Burleson is out for the season with torn ACL

Views: I've never been a card-carrying member of Burleson's fan club. But there was no disputing his value in the Seattle passing game -- especially with Bobby Engram (shoulder), Deion Branch (leg) and Ben Obomanu (on IR) sidelined to injury. Burleson tallied four catches for 60 yards and one touchdown against the Bills before the injury, a feat even more impressive given the constant double-teams. Now, the depleted 'Hawks only have three healthy and unknown WRs on the roster (Jordan Kent, Logan Payne and Courtney Taylor).

Verdict: If I had to choose between bolting the bandwagons of the Patriots (without Tom Brady) or Seahawks (hey, did I mention Matt Hasselbeck has a bulging disk in his back ... and starting RB Maurice Morris is out with a sprained knee?), I'd probably break an ankle or two jumping off the careening Seattle wagon. Suddenly, the Rams aren't such a lock for fourth-place in the NFC West. (OK, maybe they are)

News: Matt Casselreplaces the injured Tom Brady as the Pats' No. 1 QB

Views: Cassel hasn't started a meaningful game since high school (he languished behind Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC). So I would understand if every fantasy owner -- whose last name isn't Cassel or Belichick -- has trepidations about grabbing Cassel from the waiver wire (or even worse, spending a lot of salary-cap moo-lah on him). For me, it comes down to this: Would you rather have Cassel's toys in New England (Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Ben Watson, Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, LaMont Jordan) ... or JaMarcus Russell's band of misfits in Oakland (Darren McFadden, Justin Fargas, Javon Walker, Ronald Curry, Zach Miller and some guy named Chaz Schilens)? Just like The Pepsi Challenge ... the choice is clear.

Verdict: Cassel is a must-have for the Brady, Moss or Welker fantasy owner. In relief duty against the Chiefs, Cassel completed 13-of-18 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown. As a full-timer with the Pats, Cassel owners can safely project minimum numbers of 215 yards passing and 1.75 TDs per game.

News: Titans QB Vince Young is likely out for Week 2 with a strained knee

Views: Sure, Young has a tendency to be mediocre at times (he's never thrown three TDs in a game) ... and his Week 1 performance against Jacksonville (12 of 22 for 110 yards, 1 TD) had a stronger resemblance to J.T. O'Sullivan than Jay Cutler, Young's '06 draft classmate. But are the Titans really better off with KerryCollins, a strong-armed clipboard holder who's thrown one regular-season TD since December 2005? We'll find out soon enough.

Verdict: Collins racked up 114 TD passes from '00-05 (Giants, Raiders), so it's not like he's fantasy roadkill, in the discussion of backup QBs. Collins has a career passing percentage of 55.5, so fantasy owners can expect proficiency with short, safe passes to RB Chris Johnson or TEs Alge Crumpler and Bo Scaife. All in all, Collins should throw for 210 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT against the Bengals.

News: Chad "Johnson" and T.J. Houshmandzadehcombine for four catches and 66 receiving yards in Week 1

Views: At first blush, it's easy to give the Bengals a free pass for struggling against the typically stout Ravens ... that is, until the memories of Ben Roethlisberger's 5-TD night against Baltimore in '07 come flooding back. In other words, no NFL defense should ever limit Carson Palmer to 100 yards passing -- unless the game is played in a monsoon or icy snowdrift -- especially when Cincinnati has a solid 1-2 punch in the running game (Chris Perry, Kenny Watson).

Verdict: There's no way around this one, folks. The Palmer-Houshmandzadeh-Chad paradigm is just too dysfunctional to bring success on a consistent level. Sure, they could all rise up and play great at home in Week 2 against the Titans -- Ocho scored three touchdowns against Tennessee last year -- but I don't expect this once-vaunted trio to be together in '09. Consider last Sunday's silent meltdown to be the proverbial "beginning of the end."

News: The Jags lose both starting guards on the O-Line, Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams

Views: The lifeblood of every successful rushing attack is great guard play, and Jacksonville will be hard-pressed to replicate the Maunwai-Williams combo.

Verdict: This is a major red flag for Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor owners -- especially involving Taylor. "Fragile Freddy," an unfair misnomer given his durability in recent years, has only caught 82 passes in the last four-plus seasons (including his one-catch day vs. Tennessee); so he doesn't have the MJD-like luxury of padding his stats with in-space receptions. If you had Taylor pegged for 1,050 total yards this season -- you might want to slice 300 yards off that figure. Jones-Drew, on the other hand, should still net 1,200 total yards and seven TDs, but the ratio of passing-to-rushing yards should be adjusted to 60/40 (from 50-50).