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Fantasy Fix: Already A Nightmare

Fantasy football leagues enter Week 4 with injuries and statistical underachievement still marring the performance of many of the sport's brightest stars.

Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee, who had unexpectedly surged to the top of the WR ranks from the opening bell, is done for the season with a knee injury. He joins top RB Jamaal Charles, Kansas City, on fantasy IR. Meanwhile, Indianapolis continues to force Peyton Manning owners to retain him in hopes of a late-season return, though all signs suggest Manning should be on IR and done for the year.

Injury woes also continue to court owners of Arian Foster, RB, Houston, who went No. 1 in some preseason drafts. Foster may return stronger for Week 4, but his lingering problems have forced him into a likely time-share with Ben Tate. If you're a Foster owner, either acquire Tate, or ship him to Tate's current owner to recover some value.

Injuries aren't the only problem. Most of the Yahoo! preseason top 10 is in a shambles. The brightest star has been Raiders running back Darren McFadden rewarding owners who might have gambled to take him higher than his No. 7 preseason rank. He's currently the top-ranked RB in Yahoo! leagues, followed closely by LeSean McCoy, who was ranked No. 11 in the preseason by Yahoo!

McFadden and McCoy are ranked third and fourth overall, behind that reliable New England pair, Tom Brady and Wes Welker. Brady and Welker were expected to both have great seasons, though they have been unexpectedly dominant, with Brady leading all passers in yards and TDs, and Welker leading all WRs in receiving yards and total fantasy points.

So, what of the Yahoo! preseason top 10? Here they are by original rank, what's gone wrong and what to expect for the rest of the season:

1) Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota: Current ranking: 13

What's wrong: He's averaging just under 100 yards per game, but it appears Minny isn't giving him enough red-zone carries to score much. The Vikings are relying a bit more on the arm of QB Donovan McNabb than anyone anticipated.

What to expect: A quick rebound. With Minnesota losing, Peterson is likely to get more touches, not fewer, because management likely will see his pedestrian numbers as part of the problem.

2) Arian Foster, RB, Houston: Current ranking: 1,778

What's wrong: An injury problem that probably should have been a red flag at draft time. He's collected just 33 rushing yards thus far.

What to expect: A gradual rebound. By the second half of the season, if his health holds, bigger numbers should be in store, but for now, it is unlikely he'll get as many carries as most No. 1 rushers.

3) Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore: Current ranking: 9

What's wrong: Nothing really, though his numbers have turned a bit lower than expected as QB Joe Flacco has been more successful on longer pass plays.

What to expect: As defenses migrate to cover WRs Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans and Torrey Smith, ice's numbers should bounce back from more check-down passes and more red zone carries.

4) Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee: Current ranking: 154

What's wrong: Not enough practice and too much money. Hard to say whether the holdout of the pressure to live up to a new contract - or perhaps the absence of need to earn one - is affecting him more, but his problems are compounded by QB Matt Hasselbeck's success.

What to expect: More of the same, unfortunately. He is due for a big game, but Hasselbeck is a veteran QB who won't throw safe, short passes to Johnson - the RB's bread and butter - if he doesn't want to.

5) Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh: Current ranking: 135

What's wrong: With the exception of WR Mike Wallace, most of the Steelers' offense and defense is playing erratically, and Mendenhall isn't getting the ball enough.

What to expect: Things should swing back in his favor at some point if Pitt can get ahead in games and its defense goes into lock-down mode.

6) Andre Johnson, WR, Houston: Current ranking: 21

What's wrong: His team's attack was balanced in Weeks 1 and 2, and though he scored both weeks, he wasn't need as much. 128 of his 316 receiving yards came in Houston's Week 3 loss.

What to expect: The RB situation could mean more passing, but Johnson's fantasy owners should hope for Houston to struggle - that's when they need him most.

7) Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland: Current ranking: 3

What's wrong: Absolutely nothing. His preseason ranking acknowledged that some people thought his games last season were the exception rather than the rule.

What to expect: More of everything, as the Oakland game plan seems tipped in his favor. Looking at somewhere close to 2,000 yards rushing if he stays in good health.

8) Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay: Current ranking: 15

What's wrong: Green Bay is too good, too quickly. Though he throws even with big leads, there's little pressure to create pass TDs after halftime, and no need for him to scramble for yards.

What to expect: He's averaging only 5.7 yards rushing per game, and if that keeps up, and the Pack keeps dominating early in games, his rank will most likely stay around 15-20.

9) Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona: Current ranking: 39

What's wrong: Has struggled to get looks from QB Kevin Kolb, who, generally speaking, has struggled to complete passes to his own men.

What to expect: He's Arizona's best chance to score, and will get red-zone chances, but to get the 100-yard games we expected, Kolb needs to get better, which is a long-term prospect.

10) Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville: Current ranking: 27

What's wrong: He hasn't lived up to what became a bloated ranking at the last minute of the preseason as questions lingered about RBs like Foster and Chris Johnson. Translation: With 307 yards rushing, he's about where he should be.

What to expect: As he strengthens following off-season surgery, big yardage games are in his future, but scores won't be unless the Jags can keep a series or two going during his off-downs.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week still likes Rex Grossman despite the INTs and fumbles.

* Bleacher Report lists the season's top 10 surprise performers. Look beyond the obvious (Cam Newton) for the real treasure: Raiders receiver Denarious Moore.

* The Cover Two examines hot pickups for Week 4 including my favorite, Titans WR Nate Washington. Someone will need to catch all the Hasselbeck passes that won't be going to Britt or Chris Johnson.

* looks at the fantasy effect on Michael Vick's hand injury. It's still not certain Vick will miss any time, but if he does, should the QB nod go to Vince Young or Northwestern product Mike Kafka?


Comments welcome.

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