Fire sale: Blount, Torain circling starters to take over key RB roles

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You can catch my comical musings on Twitter. For solid fantasy advice, see below. Now, on with the Fire Sale ...

LeGarrette Blount, RB Bucs -- Some people like me picked up Blount last week assuming the Bucs would use their bye week to get the rookie bulldozer more involved in the offense. While that's probably the case, I don't expect Blount to be a huge fantasy factor right away.

Blount will probably take over as the goal-line back, and if Cadillac Williams continues to struggle, he will start getting more and more carries in the weeks to come. So it makes sense to pick up Blount if you have an open roster spot. While I like to play week to week, I also try and keep an eye on the last month of the season. Blount has a shot to be a factor come fantasy playoff time.

The thing about Blount is he's a pure downhill runner. He doesn't have the quickest feet but once Blount gets going he's a horror show for defenders to bring down. Everyone knows about the nonsense Blount pulled in Boise last year but he had a dicey past even before that ugly incident. Blount is a guy who, when his head is screwed on straight, has the talent to be a player. The problem is his head usually isn't screwed on straight.

If you need some running back depth, Blount probably offers as much or more upside than any other back currently on your waiver wire. Pick him up and stash Blount on your bench for a few weeks. It could pay off down the line.

Ryan Torain, RB Redskins -- I don't think Torain is any kind of superstar but he's clearly the No. 2 running back in Washington and he could be closing in on the top spot before long.

Clinton Portis is as tough as they come but he's not the biggest guy in the world and his body has been wearing down in recent years. Portis was injured all last week and then hurt his groin on Sunday. With no other options, Torain will clearly be the guy if Portis misses any time. As this goes to print, Portis says he expects to miss Week 5.

Even if Portis doesn't have a major injury, look for Torain to start getting more work. Mike Shanahan isn't going to want to wear Portis down, so you know he's looking for another guy to take some of the carries. Torain is that guy. Plus, he ran hard in the fourth quarter against Philly, something I'm sure Shanahan appreciates.

Much like Blount, Torain is another young back with upside playing behind an older back with declining skills. Torain could be a nice fantasy player in the second half of the season.

Golden Tate, WR Seahawks -- I picked up Tate just before kickoff on Sunday and thought it would be a good idea to start him over Brandon Lloyd. That idiotic move cost me a win and deservedly so. You do something that stupid and you deserve the consequences that come with it. If I had a gun, I would have loaded it and pulled the trigger Sunday.

However, even though Tate only had one catch until less than a minute remained in the game, I like his prospects moving forward. Once Dez Bryant got suspended, Tate was the best receiver in college football last year. The guy is dynamite in the open field and also has that Larry Fitzgerald-like gift to go up and get the ball over defenders.

It's time for the Seahawks to make Tate a bigger part of the offense. It's not like they have a lot of other options. Maybe they wanted to do that last week, but Matt Hasselbeck had one of his games where he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. That will be a problem all season. Hasselbeck is done, so the Seahawks offense in general will be inconsistent from week to week.

You probably don't have to go and grab Tate right now. I've already cut him myself. However, keep a close eye on him. Tate is one of those young players who will keep improving and should become the Seahawks No. 1 receiver before the end of the season. Just don't start him over Lloyd and you should be fine.

Danny Amendola, WR Rams -- If you play in a PPR league and need help at receiver, Amendola is certainly worth a roster spot.

I always joke about white receivers being compared to Wes Welker even though they are nothing like him, but Amendola is actually built in that Welker mold. He has great hands, runs good routes and knows how to find the open spot in opposing defenses. He's not quite as quick as Welker but he plays a similar role in the Rams offense.

Amendola has at least five receptions in three of four games this year. He won't pile up a ton of yardage or score you touchdowns, but in a PPR league, Amendola catches enough passes to be a safe bye-week starter. Plus, with Sam Bradford playing well beyond his years, the Rams' passing game is miles ahead of where it was last season.

Amendola isn't a fantasy superstar but he's a receiver you can start in a pinch and I feel those guys are always good to have on the back end of your roster.

Joel Dreessen, TE Texans -- I'm sure a lot of people are going to tell you to grab Dreessen this week but don't go crazy over him. Remember, Andre Johnson didn't play, Owen Daniels was limited with a hamstring injury and Jacoby Jones left the game early. Everything kind of worked out perfectly for Dreessen to have a nice game that isn't likely to become the norm.

Robert Meachem, WR Saints -- What is going on with Meachem so far this year? The only thing I can think of is that the toe surgery he had in the offseason is still bothering him.

We all know different Saints receivers shine from week-to-week, but Meachem isn't even part of the offense right now. Last year Drew Brees had a perfect quarterback rating when targeting Meachem. This year he's barely on the field to target.

Meachem reminds me of my cousin, Fat Sal. When we used to play pick-up football I would tell Sal to just run deep because he wasn't any good. That's basically all Meachem does now. He comes in, runs one fly pattern and then returns to the bench just like Fat Sal used to do.

I drafted Meachem in the ninth round and thought he was going to improve on his promising 2009 campaign, but that hasn't been the case. When Heath Evans is a bigger part of the Saints offense than you are, things aren't going well.

If Meachem is currently on a roster and not on your league's waiver wire, you're probably playing with a bunch of idiots.

Ryan Mathews, RB Chargers -- What a disaster brewing for Mathews' owners. That disaster's name is Mike Tolbert. If Tolbert was going to pull these sort of shenanigans at least he could have said he was from the Yankees. If you haven't seen Major League in a while, give it a run. It's just as funny as you remember.

I loved Mathews in college and I still love him. I believe he's going to be a superstar, that's why I drafted Mathews ninth overall before trading him a couple of weeks ago. The big problem with Mathews is his ankle injury opened the door for Tolbert, who has looked great so far.

Now what do you do? If you own both guys, who do you start? Mathews scored a touchdown late last week but Tolbert had more carries and more yards. This is certainly turning into a big headache for a lot of fantasy owners.

I would still start Mathews. Even though Tolbert is going to steal carries right now, Mathews has a chance to have a strong game any week. I still believe he will be a big fantasy factor before the season is over but for now, you are just going to have to live with Tolbert splitting carries.

In the near future, it's going to be tough for Mathews to have 30-point fantasy weeks if he's only getting 15 touches a game, so you will need to be patient with him. However, I think your patience will pay off unless Tolbert ends up being the second coming of Natrone Means.

Laurence Maroney, RB Broncos -- My God does this guy stink. Patriots fans used to get mad at me because I always used to say how bad Maroney was when I worked there. I'm sure now that Maroney is gone there isn't one of those blind homers that disagree with me now.

Here is the problem with Maroney: Once he gets into the open field, he's a dangerous runner; however, he has a hard time getting into the open field because Maroney is always dancing in the backfield. I feel Maroney would be more effective as a third-down back. That way he could get out in space easier instead of always getting stuffed in the backfield.

The bottom line is Maroney has never run for 900 yards in a season and he never will. He had some fantasy value last year as a touchdown vulture for the Patriots but this guy has been a bust since the day he was drafted. There is no way around it.

If you picked up Maroney thinking a change of venue would make a difference, you're going to be very disappointed. The only change of venue that is going to help Maroney would be if he played in the UFL, an opportunity that will be available to him very shortly.

Eli Manning, QB Giants -- Let's all give it up for Kevin Gilbride: he's ruined yet another quarterback.

Gilbride, known for his 1,000-page playbook (of which Drew Bledsoe once commented that with all of those play you'd think Gilbride could find one that worked), has not done the Giants any favors this season.

You know how I judge bad offensive coordinators? It's when coaches have talented players and can't score points. Have you seen some of that playcalling in the red zone for the Giants? Screen, draw, 3-yard pass. That's very imaginative. No wonder why the Giants can't score any points.

(To Gilbride's defense, he isn't alone in his questionable moves, as any fan accustomed to watching Jason Garrett call plays in Dallas can attest.)

Listen, some teams just don't have any talent. It's hard to blame the coordinator when you're starting Derek Anderson and Max Hall at quarterback. But in the case of the Giants and Cowboys, there is too much talent on those two offenses for them to struggle scoring points.

How many times are the Giants going to hike the ball with one second left on the play clock? There's only one other team in the NFL that I've seen hike the ball with one second on the play clock as often as the Giants do. I'll give you one guess which team that is? See "Jason Garrett" above.

Remember the windy playoff game against Philly two years ago? Manning took the blame for the loss but it wasn't the Giants QB who chose to run the ball with the wind and threw against it because he was trying to be sneaky.

Manning plays the porous Houston secondary this week. If he can't put up big numbers against the Texans, it's time to stick a fork in him like the Giants should have done to Gilbride years ago.

Sam Bradford, QB Rams -- Bradford is off to a strong start and things should only get better this week against the Lions. Detroit's secondary actually didn't play that bad against Green Bay but with the bye weeks upon us, the Lions are still a good defense to take advantage of right now. Look for Bradford to throw for at least 250 yards and a couple of scores this week.

Mario Manningham, WR Giants -- I have a hunch this game is going to be a wild one. As I stated above about Manning, if the Giants passing game can't put up numbers against Houston it's time to move on. Also, the Giants defense can only stop one-dimensional offenses. The Texans should put up a lot of points this week, which means Manning and Co. will be forced to keep up. Manningham could have one of his better games of the season.

Mike Thomas, WR Jaguars -- Thomas was one of my preseason sleepers and I was surprised how few others were talking much about him. Now Thomas is the Jaguars' top receiver and he's still getting no love. Thomas is only a viable option in PPR leagues because he never scores. However, he makes for a nice start this week. I don't know if you've seen the Bills try to play defense but it's pathetic. As long as David Garrard doesn't have one of his games with a 6.7 passer rating, look for Thomas to have a nice day against Buffalo on Sunday.

49ers defense -- I'm assuming Mike Vick won't play this week. If that's the case and the 49ers get to face "Mr. Checkdown" Kevin Kolb, they will have a big game. The Philly running backs will catch about 30 passes with Kolb under center but the receivers will probably combine for two. Kolb is scared to death to throw the ball over five yards right now. That doesn't make it very hard for a defense to gameplan against. Expect the 49ers defense to have a strong outing as long as Kolb plays.

Tom "The Bottom Line" Casale is a featured NFL writer at Sports Grumblings and a featured guest on the "Sports Grumblings Live!" radio show on Sirius Ch. 211 | XM Ch. 147 every Saturday night from 8-11p.m. ET. You can reach Tom with your questions, comments and suggestions at