Brand names exist so we can distinguish one product from another. Think of cattle getting stamped with hot irons. Brands are everywhere -- when we reach for a Kleenex, Xerox a copy and stick a Q-tip in our ear. Their slogans can be inspirational (Nike's "Just Do It") and their jingles catchy (Wendy's ads always get me singing "You Know When It's Real.").
Fantasy football has plenty of brand names. When we think of Adrian Peterson, we think of quickness, smoothness and reliability. He could borrow BMW's slogan "The Ultimate Driving Machine." The colorful Chad Ochocinco is like Apple computers -- he thinks different.
But like any brand, you can't tell the whole story from a name, symbol or slogan. Brands don't guarantee a product's quality nor do they ensure its superiority. With that in mind, here's help deciding which fantasy football brands are worth your investment:
Terrell Owens -- "Can You Hear Me Now? Good."
Owens has always been a strong communicator but to a fault. He has called out his quarterback numerous times and been fined for tweeting before kickoff. His big mouth is a big reason he was voted the most overrated player according to a recent poll of NFL players by Sports Illustrated.
And yet Owens is having a pretty good season considering his reputation for style over substance. Coming from Buffalo's nonexistent passing offense last year, he's now in a better situation in Cincinnati, where Ochocinco gets most of the attention. Owens has taken advantage of single coverage, averaging eight catches, 137 receiving yards and a touchdown in the past three games. He is currently on pace for 1,500 yards and eight scores.
Final decision: Owens will probably slow down a bit but don't worry about a huge dropoff since he is in excellent shape for a 36-year-old NFL receiver (he's too vain to just let his body go). Consider him a strong No. 2 receiver for the remainder of the season.
Darren McFadden -- "Zoom. Zoom."
Speed was McFadden's reputation when he was an Arkansas Razorback, as he rushed for 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns his junior season before turning pro. After two seasons with the Raiders, he became more synonymous with a busted tire. McFadden averaged just 3.4 yards per carry last year with just one score.
In 2010, Run-DMC got off to a fast start in his first four games before pulling up lame with a hamstring injury. He sat out two weeks, and going into Sunday's game at Denver, his chances of playing were "70-30," according to his coach, which prompted many owners to bench him. Naturally, he went off for 196 total yards and four scores in a 59-14 blowout victory.
Final decision: McFadden is a must-start when healthy (or apparently whenever he is questionable). But be sure to handcuff him with Michael Bush, who also proved valuable on Sunday with 52 rushing yards and a score.
Larry Fitzgerald -- "You're in Good Hands."
If you're like me, you saw Fitzgerald's name available in your draft and immediately thought you were getting one of the top receivers in the league. Who could blame us? In his six-year career, he has tallied 1,400 yards three times, caught 95-plus passes four times and scored double-digit TDs four times.
Maybe we undervalued the presence of Kurt Warner (retired) and overvalued Matt Leinart (released in the preseason). Fitzgerald's production is now dependent on either an undrafted rookie quarterback with a concussion (Max Hall) or a one-hit wonder (Derek Anderson). After six games, Fitzgerald has only 331 yards and two scores, compared to 602 yards and five scores last year at this point in the season.
Final decision: I don't like giving up on talent, but it's hard to see how Fitzgerald will get the ball given Arizona's dismal passing attack. For now, play the matchups and also see if you can get decent value for him from a more optimistic (aka gullible) owner.
Ronnie Brown -- "What Can Brown Do For You?"
Prior to this season, Brown was known as an injury-prone back capable of delivering big time when healthy. That hasn't been the case this year. Brown has played in all six Dolphins games, but his carries have been severely limited. He is averaging just 12.6 carries and 52.2 per game with just one rushing touchdown.
And what happened to the Wildcat formation? Miami has put away the trickery and it hasn't helped the running game this year. The Dolphins are currently ranked 16th in rushing yards per game (107.0) compared to fourth last year (139.4).
Final decision: Brown's upcoming rushing schedule looks tough (at Cincinnati, at Baltimore and at home against Tennessee). For now, he is best suited for your flexible position.
DeSean Jackson --"Fly Like an Eagle"
If you saw that vicious hit that D-Jax took in Week 6 against the Falcons, you know he won't be flying like an Eagle anytime soon. Jackson suffered a severe concussion with some memory loss and he's not expected back for another couple of weeks.
Prior to the injury, Jackson was clicking better with Michael Vick at quarterback than Kevin Kolb. He had two monster games with Vick in Weeks 2 and 3 (135 yards and a touchdown at Detroit; 163 yards and a TD at Jacksonville). With Kolb under center this season, he has just one TD and no more than 34 yards passing in a game.
Final decision: Jackson is a must-start once he is cleared to play. Lucky for him, Vick has been declared the Week 9 starter after missing three games with a rib injury (the Eagles are on bye next week).