Snap, crackle and pop

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Snap, Crackle and Pop is a weekly column that reviews the major injuries (Snap) and then projects both busts (Crackle) and sleepers (Pop) for the coming week.

The impact of the Tom Brady injury is still reverberating through the NFL as well as fantasy football. The season of football's best player ended in the first quarter of Week 1. This reminds me of a couple of injuries from years past. In 1999 the Jets were coming off a 12-4 record and had Super Bowl aspirations. They went up in smoke after QB Vinny Testaverde got hurt in Week 1. Without Testaverde the Jets dug a 1-6 hole, which doomed their playoff chances. Testaverde was not half the quarterback that Brady is, but in other respects the situation is similar. From a fantasy perspective, the Brady injury reminds me of Jerry Rice in 1997. Rice hurt his knee after a Warren Sapp tackle in the first game of that season. Rice was a fantasy-team killer for anyone who drafted him that year.

We already know that Brady has devastated a team in every fantasy league this season. Brady was going somewhere around pick No. 5 in the first round of drafts. Those teams are now without Brady, and since they took a quarterback in the first round, have lesser running backs and/or wide receivers. Most will pick up Matt Cassel and hope for a miracle.

One last thought about the Brady injury: it robs all football fans of something special. If Brady was healthy and the Jets beat the Patriots this Sunday, it would have been momentous -- snapping the Patriots regular season unbeaten streak. With Brady hurt, it's not a big deal. Indeed, the Jets are favored this Sunday.

After the Brady injury the biggest injury news for fantasy fans concerns WR Marques Colston. The Saints receiver underwent surgery on his thumb for a torn ligament and will be out at least until Week 6.

Houston RB Ahman Green is hurt again. Green sprained his ankle last week, depleting the Texans' already thin running back corps. Houston only had three running backs on their roster last week. Steve Slaton figures to start in Green's place against the Ravens. Chris Taylor will back up Slaton, but neither one is a fantasy consideration facing the ferocious Baltimore defense.

Titans QB Vince Young has a knee injury which will sideline him until at least Week 3. But is there something else troubling him? Apparently Young went missing Sunday night. His family was concerned and contacted coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher called the local police to find him. Young is allegedly depressed by the fans' booing and is seeing a psychologist for therapy.

Chargers TE Antonio Gates will play this Sunday against Denver despite an existing toe injury and a new hip injury. It remains to be seen how long he can continue with mounting injuries.

In IDP news, Chargers LB Shawne Merriman threw in the towel and decided to have surgery. Merrirman was a gamer to play Week 1 on torn a PCL and a torn LCL, but he was ineffective. Merrirman is done for the season.

Browns SS Sean Jones needs arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and is out for several weeks. This was the last thing the shaky Cleveland defense needed. They face Pittsburgh this week.

I'm not optimistic about Cassel stepping in for Brady at quarterback. He is inexperienced -- Cassel was not even a starter in college. Expect the Jets to come at Cassel with a variety of blitz packages. All Patriots fantasy players should be downgraded this week, including Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Laurence Maroney.

Bengals RB Chris Perry got 18 carries in Week 1, compared to only two for Kenny Watson. The Cincinnati RBBC seems to be not much of a committee. Even so, Perry has another tough match up. He faces the Steelers stout defense. Sit him if you have options.

Denver running backs Selvin Young, Andre Hall and Michael Pittman split carries last Monday night. Wait until this RBBC situation resolves before you consider starting any of them.

Saints RB Reggie Bush looked like his old (2006) self last week. He had eight receptions and 14 rushes for 163 total yards. He is a must-start against the Redskins, especially in a points-per-reception league.

Tennessee RBs Chris Johnson and LenDale White each had 15 carries last week, but Johnson had more than double White's yardage: 93 to 40 yards. Johnson has a great match up against the Bengals this Sunday. Cincinnati gave up 229 rushing yards to Jacksonville last week.

The Browns might have the worst defense in the league, especially without Sean Jones. Ben Roethlisberger and receivers Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller are all strong plays.

The Rams were annihilated by the Eagles last week, 38-3. Three Eagles receivers went over 100 yards, including the nondescript Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett. Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer should have no problem against this Rams defense.

Brady owners, are you looking for a sleeper QB? How about Kansas City's Damon Huard? Huard gets the start against Oakland due to Brodie Croyle's separated shoulder.

Colston owners, are you looking for a sleeper WR? Look no further than Saints teammates David Patten and Devery Henderson. They will play against banged-up Washington secondary. CB Shawn Springs and nickel-back Fred Smoot are nursing calf and hip pointer injuries, respectively.