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updated: 10/9/2010 11:26 AM

Ten trends all fantasy football owners should know about

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Four weeks.

By the time you reach your mid-20s, it's about the amount of time you need to determine whether a dating relationship has the chance to blossom into something serious.

Four weeks.

In the NFL -- and for fantasy football purposes -- it's also the amount of time we need to determine the long-term viability of some players and defensive units.

Are we close to falling in love? Or as Gordon Gekko put it in Wall Street are "exit visas imminent?"

Let's take a look at 10 somewhat off-the-beaten-path trends all fantasy owners should be aware of:

1. Cleveland's secondary is downright atrocious. Anquan Boldin (3 TDs) and Terrell Owens (222 yards, TD) abused Eric Wright and the Browns in back-to-back games. In the next few weeks, this bodes well for owners of Roddy White, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson.

2. Schaub swooner? Texans QB Matt Schaub may be in for a rough couple of weeks. Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones are nursing injuries and his starting left tackle is out three more weeks on suspension. Schaub's an elite talent, but there may be better short-term fill-ins until Houston returns from its Week 7 bye.

3. Sharp-shooting Sanchez. Someone sent me an e-mail about two weeks ago asking what I thought of Jets QB Mark Sanchez. My reply was somewhere in the neighborhood of, "Not much." Well, after watching him play since then, I've changed my tune. Sanchez (8 TDs, zero INTs last three) looks sharp and is making excellent throws. With Santonio Holmes coming off suspension this week, it wouldn't surprise me to see Sanchez outscore Schaub the next two weeks.

4. Bradford's for real. It's rare that rookie QB's are starter-worthy in fantasy football, but St. Louis' Sam Bradford may be the exception. "It's very impressive that's he's able to do this this early, and they've got to be really excited about it, said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll after Bradford carved up his team for 289 yards and 2 TDs last week. Fantasy-wise, your best bet is to try Bradford in home games or in favorable matchups like this week at Detroit.

5. Mirage? I'm sure people were clamoring to pick up the Patriots' defense after their other-worldly performance Monday night. But be careful. New England allowed 58 total points the two games before that (to the Jets and Buffalo!), and even the Dolphins racked up 400 yards of offense five days ago. They are not a unit to start every week.

6. Bess bet. Need receiver help? Go get Miami's Davone Bess. He may not catch a ton of TDs, but who can argue with 60-90 yards out of your third WR?

7. Johnson and Thomas. Two other receivers to keep an eye on are Buffalo's Steve Johnson (3 catches in four straight games, plus 2 TDs) and Jacksonville's Mike Thomas (89-43-7-68). They are up-and-coming players on teams that will need to throw a lot.

8. QBs, start your engines. Seattle (302), Jacksonville (304), Washington (305) and Houston (338) all give up an average of 300-plus passing yards per game.

9. Running wild. Indianapolis, Arizona, Oakland and Buffalo are all allowing 150 yards or more on the ground and each has given up at least 5 rushing TDs.

10. More is good. Reports out of Dallas say the team wants to get Felix Jones more touches going forward. Also, look for San Diego RB Ryan Matthews' workload to increase to the point where he becomes a top-end fantasy player by Week 7 or 8.

Gathering Moss Quick thoughts on the Randy Moss-to-Minnesota trade: Brett Favre's value increases dramatically, as does Sidney Rice's. Visanthe Shiancoe's production will fall. As for New England, Tom Brady will likely post just average numbers; Wes Welker will be fine, as will TE Aaron Hernandez. The biggest beneficiary on the Patriots may be RB BenJarvis Green-Ellis.

My teams: My unit-league team (2-2) won 60-40 thanks in large part to New England's defense (23 points). My regular team (3-1) won 77-67, mostly thanks to Jay Cutler (minus-3) and Randy Moss (zero) hosing my foe.

Good bets

Chargers RBs Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert at Oakland. The Raiders can't stop the run, which means Matthews (100 yards) and Tolbert (50 yards, TD) will both be good plays.

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles at Indy. I'm tempted to double up here too and put Thomas Jones in the good bets, but I see the Colts getting out to a big lead and Charles getting involved in the dump-off passing game.

Bills WR Steve Johnson at Jacksonville. As a bye-week fill-in, I like Johnson in this spot against a bad Jaguars secondary.

Bengals RB Cedric Benson vs. Tampa Bay. Feature backs are averaging 111 rushing yards per game against the Bucs.

Lions QB Shaun Hill vs. St. Louis. In Weeks 2-4, Hill is averaging more fantasy points per game than Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, Joe Flacco and Tony Romo.

Giants QB Eli Manning at Houston. The lowest passing total anyone has against the Texans is 278 yards by Oakland's Bruce Gradkowski.

Rams WR Mark Clayton at Detroit. Watch for 110 yards and a TD.

Texans WR Kevin Walter vs. New York Giants. This will seem weird to some of you when you get to the bad bets, but I think Walter is a safe play.

Bad bets

Bears WRs Devin Hester and Johnny Knox at Carolina. Todd Collins at QB? No thanks.

Texans QB Matt Schaub vs. New York Giants. So how is the QB here and his WR up above? Because Schaub will struggle to hit anyone EXCEPT Walter, but Schaub will be lucky to finish with over 220 yards and 1 TD.

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams vs. Bears. To me, Cedric Benson, Peyton Hillis, Ryan Matthews and even Jamaal Charles are better plays this week than Williams.

Broncos QB Kyle Orton and WR Brandon Lloyd at Baltimore. This will be a classic matchup: The QB who throws 5,000 times per game vs. the defense that makes you beg for every single yard. I'm banking on the defense.

Bengals WR Terrell Owens at Tampa Bay. We now return you to your regularly scheduled 40-60 yard games.

Jets RB LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Minnesota. Coming off a bye, the Vikes will be ready for LT.

Colts RB Joseph Addai vs. Kansas City. The Chiefs' run defense is solid (just ask Frank Gore), which just means Peyton Manning will be winging around all afternoon.

jdietz@dailyherald.com

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