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.

Washington RB Clinton Portis suffered a concussion in the first quarter of last week's debacle at Atlanta. Portis is almost certainly out for this Sunday's game against Denver and possibly for a while longer. Portis is eighth in the NFC in rushing, but has only a pair of touchdowns on the season. At 2-6 the Redskins are dead in the water, so don't expect them to rush Portis back.

A sore hip kept Buffalo WR Terrell Owens from practicing on Wednesday. Owens could miss a very juicy match-up against the Titans pass defense on Sunday. Check his status after Friday practice.

Titans WR Justin Gage missed practice on Wednesday. Tennessee is being coy about the injury, apparently suffered against the 49ers last week. It didn't hamper him during the game -- Gage had perhaps his best effort of the season with 97 yards on 4 receptions. He found some chemistry with Vince Young that was missing with Kerry Collins. If healthy, Gage is a possible flex or WR3 against the Bills. Check the Friday practice reports to see if he improves.

The Chiefs cut RB Larry Johnson two weeks after suspending him. Johnson averaged only 2.7 yards per carry and did not find the end zone in seven games with Kansas City. Last week the Chiefs split the rushing attempts to a committee of Jamaal Charles (6-36), Kolby Smith (4-17) and Dantrell Savage (2-4). Charles has the most value of the three, but he needs to get more than 50 percent of the rushing attempts to be fantasy material. As for Johnson, he passed through NFL waivers so there appears to be no interest in LJ and his bad attitude. Cut him.

Jaguars WR Mike Sims-Walker has had five terrific games this season with 34 receptions for 545 yards and four TD in those games. In the other three games where he has a total of two receptions, nine yards and 0 TD. He is the epitome of a feast-or-famine player. Sims-Walker has a tough match-up this week against the Jets pass defense, ranked second in the NFL. This looks like a famine week for Sims-Walker. QB David Garrard has had a similar up-and-down season, though not as stark as Sims-Walker.

Denver QB Kyle Orton is in the middle of a tough stretch against very stingy pass defenses. Two weeks ago he fared poorly against the Ravens and again last week against the Steelers. Next up: the Redskins. Washington, though a losing team, owns the top-rated pass defense in the NFL. Looking at the schedule, Orton is not a good fantasy start until week 13 at Kansas City.

Reminder: Just two teams are on a bye this week -- rest all your Giants and Texans.

Logically, I should put Bengals RB Cedric Benson in the Crackle category this week. After all he is facing the league's top run defense, Pittsburgh's. However, if you look at Benson's week-by-week statistics he was not had a bad game all season. Some of Benson's best work has been against top defenses, including the 117 yards and a TD he hung on Baltimore last week. Benson faced the Steelers week 3 and had 81 total yards and a TD -- a pretty good day at the office. Stick with Benson despite the match-up.

Buffalo QB Trent Edwards gets his job back this week. Ryan Fitzpatrick was ineffective in three starts with only a 57.8 QB Rating. Edwards last appeared against the Jets in Week 6 when a concussion knocked him out of the game and the starting lineup. Edwards is a risky but potentially very rewarding play against Tennessee. The Titans have the worst pass defense in the NFL.

The Portis injury puts RB Ladell Betts into Washington's starting lineup. The last game that Betts started was in 2006. That year he started nine times and rushed for 1,154 yards. He also caught 53 passes for 445 yards. After Portis arrived in Washington, Betts barely touched the ball. If not for the Portis trade, Betts could have become a top fantasy running back. He has a tough match-up on Sunday against Denver defense. Nevertheless, Betts is a good play because he can catch the ball as well as run it. He is much better in points-per-reception leagues.

Monday night's game looks like a huge mismatch. The 1-7 Browns are facing a Baltimore team that's better than their 4-4 record. Baltimore's losses were all against quality teams: New England (6-2), Minnesota (7-1) and twice to Cincinnati (6-2). The only reason to stay up for this game is to watch your Ravens pile up the fantasy points. QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, TE Todd Heap and WR Derrick Mason are all very strong plays against Cleveland. Mark Clayton is playable as a flex option.

Can you ever start two running backs on the same team? Yes, you can. If you have Miami's Ronnie Brown and his backup, Ricky Williams, this is the week to do it. They face a terrible Tampa Bay run defense. If you feel wary about doubling-down on the Miami backfield, start Williams in a PPR league; start Brown if it's not.

John Rakowski is a senior writer for, a fantasy sports portal. John is a 2007 winner of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for journalistic excellence, for his "Snap, Crackle and Pop" column. Please visit Sports Grumblings for all your fantasy football needs, so you can DOMINATE your league this season!