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updated: 10/6/2011 11:07 AM

In fantasy football, learn to change with the coach

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  • Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower (25) didn't get many touches against the St. Louis Rams as head coach Mike Shanahan was able to get Ryan Torain to produce 135 yards and a touchdown. Fantasy owners may have to put Hightower on the bench as well.

    Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower (25) didn't get many touches against the St. Louis Rams as head coach Mike Shanahan was able to get Ryan Torain to produce 135 yards and a touchdown. Fantasy owners may have to put Hightower on the bench as well.
    Associated Press


Ever wonder why your parents made you do homework before going out to play?

Or why they wouldn't let you drive to school every day?

Or why you couldn't go to the movie with a buddy?

Or why you couldn't go to Lake Geneva with all the other kids?

Then you became a parent and A) realized why, and B) did the same thing to your kids.

The rules are infuriating to the kid, yet the wisdom of the parent is why the rules are enforced.

I bring this up because many of us in the fantasy football world are probably cursing the likes of Mike Shanahan, Bill Belichick and Mike McCarthy -- the "fathers" of many of our players.

Daddy Shanahan had Tim Hightower owners screaming bloody murder last week as Ryan Torain rumbled for 135 yards and a score. "Those were supposed to be Hightower's yards!" you surely screamed.

Pops Belichick took the plutonium out of Tom Brady's arm and handed the ball off 29 times. Rob Gronkowski owners: "Seriously? ONE catch? For 15 yards?"

And how about Mr. McCarthy, who is playing musical chairs with Ryan Grant and James Starks? It's enough to make you pull out your hair.

But just like the parents in our examples above, the NFL coaches are doing what's best -- for their team.

And unfortunately, they don't give a rip about us.

The question is what to do with some of these situations going forward. Here's my take on the three examples I gave:

•In Washington, sit tight if you own Hightower. You are basically going to have to leave him on the bench until the situation clears itself up, which may not happen for a month. My gut feeling is that Washington eventually hands the job to rookie Roy Helu, who is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 24 attempts. By Week 9, he may be starting, meaning Helu is the guy you want.

•Ten of those 29 rushing attempts went to Stevan Ridley last week. The rookie was impressive with 97 yards and a TD, but he's only a flex play until we see if he can overtake BenJarvis Green-Ellis as the starter.

•The Packers' situation is really a mess. I like Starks long-term, but he's an awfully risky play until we see some signs that Grant has hit a wall.

Probably the best thing to do with any of these guys (except maybe Helu) is to trade them as soon as they have a good week or two. Prey on a desperate owner and grab a nice WR2.

Odds and ends:

Packers WR Jordy Nelson just signed a three-year extension. Did you know that he has 64 catches for 976 yards and 7 TDs over his last 16 games? Pretty good numbers for a WR3. ... According to the New Orleans Times-Picayne, TE Jimmy Graham (24-367-3) has "emerged as Drew Brees' primary receiver." ... Welcome back, Arian Foster (155 yards last week). Twelve more days like that and my prediction you will be the No. 1 RB can come true. ... Did you know Wes Welker is on pace for 160 catches, 2,464 yards and 20 TDs? ...

It might be time to sell high on Michael Turner (26 carries, 70 yards last week, 2.7 average). It looks like the Burner has lost a step. ... Must-add players if they are available in your league: Broncos WR Eric Decker (20-270-4), Steelers RB Isaac Redman (Rashard Mendenhall is injured), Texans WR Jacoby Jones (Andre Johnson out at least 2 weeks) and Giants WR Victor Cruz. ... Need a defense/special teams? Maybe give Cincinnati a try. The Bengals have allowed the fewest yards in the league and face Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Seattle (the NFL's worst three offenses) over the next three weeks.

My teams: A pair of thrilling wins evened both of my teams' records at 2-2. In the regular league, the Baltimore defense (30 points) allowed me to overcome a 13-point deficit in a 113-98 victory. And in a real nailbiter, LeGarrette Blount's late TD on Monday night secured a 57-44 win in the unit league.

Good bets

•Steelers RB Isaac Redman vs. Tennessee. This prediction is only if Rashard Mendenhall can't go because of a hamstring injury.

•Chiefs RB Dexter McCluster at Indianapolis. Total gut call here, nothing more. Use him as a flex play if your other options are equally weak.

•Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Philadelphia. This is a bit of a risky call with Buffalo losing LT Demetrius Bell (shoulder) due to injury. But the Eagles have been exploited this year and I can see Fitzy throwing for 225 with 2-3 TD passes.

•Bengals WR A.J. Green at Jacksonville. Cincy figures to have plenty of chances to poke holes in the Jaguars' defense, so expect 70-90 yards and a possible score out of Green.

•Patriots defense and RB Stevan Ridley vs. New York Jets. The rookie out of LSU showed last week why New England has been so high on him as he shredded the Raiders for 97 yards on 10 carries. This week he gets a Jets team that has allowed the sixth-most points to fantasy RBs.

•Falcons QB Matt Ryan vs. Green Bay. Welcome home, Matty Ice. I see 340 yards and 3 TDs in a game that will keep the scoreboard operator busy.

•Giants RBs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs vs. Seattle. Bradshaw quietly ranks 11th among running backs, while Jacobs sits at No. 20. New York figures to have things in hand early, meaning big numbers for both players.

•Seahawks WR Sidney Rice at New York Giants. If Rice continues to average 94 yards a game, he'll finish with 1,316 yards on the season. Not bad for a guy with no quarterback.

Bad bets

•Texans QB Matt Schaub vs. Oakland. Until Andre Johnson returns, the Houston passing game will stay grounded.

•Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount at San Francisco. The Niners are allowing just 74.0 yards a game on the ground and have yet to allow a rushing TD. No team has allowed fewer points to opposing tailbacks.

•Falcons RB Michael Turner vs. Green Bay. In a game in which Atlanta may be forced to catch up all night, Turner will be the forgotten man.

•Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck and Nate Washington at Pittsburgh. Many pundits were screaming, "PICK UP WASHINGTON!" after his 21-catch, 258-yard start over the first three weeks. Once Kenny Britt was lost for the season, though, I started thinking, "This guy is not a No. 1 receiver and is going to suffer because Britt is out." Washington had just 2 catches for 62 yards on 4 targets last week. You can still start him, but I don't like this matchup this week.

•Cardinals RB Beanie Wells at Minnesota. Tough to bench Wells after a 3-TD effort last week, right? So play him, but remember -- the Vikings allow just 76.2 yards per game on the ground.

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