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posted: 9/27/2012 9:47 PM

Almost time for fantasy owners to make QB changes

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For the better part of the last four days, fans, coaches and players have bombarded the NFL with nasty comments about the replacement officials.

Clearly, they needed to be REPLACED, and the league finally came to its senses.

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In similar fashion, many of you are probably bombarding your TV with sharp objects after watching QBs you drafted in the first two rounds look like they should be playing in the Lingerie Football League.

Any time Aaron Rodgers (23rd in fantasy points), Matthew Stafford (21st), Tom Brady (12th) and Cam Newton (20th) would like to remove their skirts and find their jock straps would be fine.

The question is, should we be looking to REPLACE any of them? The short answer is not yet, but there are a few unlikely QBs currently in the top 8 that should be on everybody's roster and possibly starting more often than not.

Here's a quick look at five of them:

1. Robert Griffin III (No. 1 in points, 249 pass yards, 69.7 rush yards per game; 7 TDs, 1 INT). An obvious name here, but owners of RGIII probably also have a stud like Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Stafford, Brady or Newton. My advice here would be to trade one of them for a serious upgrade at running back or wide receiver.

2. Ben Roethlisberger (No. 3 in points, 301.3 yards per game; 8 TDs, INT). Big Ben was ranked 13th in my preseason column and he's averaging only 21.75 TDs the past four seasons. But he has some serious weapons this year and the running game is abysmal. A 30-TD campaign seems completely possible.

3. Andy Dalton (No. 5 in points, 289 yards per game; 6 TDs, 3 INTs). Like Roethlisberger, the Bengals' running game isn't going to set the world on fire. Dalton, though, has an appetizing schedule the next three weeks. And with A.J. Green and the emerging Andrew Hawkins to throw to, Dalton could easily finish in the top 10.

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick (No. 7 in points, 193.7 yards per game, 8 TDs, 3 INTs). As opposed to the Steelers and Bengals, the Bills have a sensational running game. That means Fitz is finding wide open receivers in the red zone and getting easy scores. My guess here is he'll drop out of the top 10 after the Bills play the Niners and Cardinals in Weeks 5 and 6, respectively.

5. Joe Flacco (No. 7 in points, 304.3 yards per game, 6 TDs, 2 INTs). I have never been a Flacco fan (as evidenced by the fact I ranked him 18th in the preseason). But wow has he been impressive. He'll be a great play in four of the next seven weeks (one's a bye).

As for those mopes mentioned earlier, there's reasons to worry about all of them.

•Rodgers can't get any pass protection.

•Stafford's hurt again and has looked bad even when healthy.

•Brady looks lost out there.

•And teams may be figuring out how to control Newton.

Bottom line is this: If you have a gut feeling about a different QB in a given week, roll with it until the Fantastic Four stop playing like Fantastic Flops.

Torrey Smith:

Even the toughest soul should have had a tough time keeping his or her composure watching Ravens WR Torrey Smith catch 2 TD passes only hours after learning his brother was killed in a motorcycle accident.

After watching that emotional pregame tribute and Smith's sensational performance, we should all try to take this game of fantasy football a lot less seriously.

Life's too short to get worked up over this game too much.

Great game, Torrey. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Game of inches:

Darren McFadden missed a second touchdown by 2 inches when his non-ballcarrying arm came down just before the ball crossed the plane of the end zone. ... On Monday night, Greg Jennings slipped out of bounds on what would have been an 11-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter.

My teams: Lost in my auction league (1-2) thanks to sitting Jamaal Charles (28 points) for Michael Bush (9) and Jason Hanson (18) for Matt Bryant (3). Final score: 65-60. I won in my regular league (2-1) 120-111 thanks to huge games from Giants RB Andre Brown and Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew.

Good bets

•Bengals QB Andy Dalton and WR Andrew Hawkins at Jacksonville. Dalton's a sure thing, but Hawkins (12-208-2) is admittedly a flier and qualifies as my darkhorse candidate this week. Just remember -- I've hit 2 huge home runs on the darkhorses thus far in Danny Amendola and Torrey Smith.

•Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. New England. Nothing spectacular here, but 200 yards and 2 TDs is more than you'll get from Tony Romo against the Bears.

•Chargers QB Philip Rivers at Kansas City. Looking for a huge bounce-back effort after an utter and complete dud last week.

•Panthers WR Brandon LaFell at Atlanta. Cam Newton fell on his face against the Giants in a 36-7 Thursday night debacle. Last year against the Falcons, though, he threw 5 TD passes in two meetings, making LaFell an excellent play.

•Patriots RB Stevan Ridley at Buffalo. After being ignored in a crazy loss to Baltimore, Bill Belichick will get his second-year RB back in the mix.

•Falcons RB Michael Turner vs. Carolina. First of all, the Panthers can't stop the run (139.3 ypg allowed). Second, Turner has absolutely owned the Panthers. In his last six meetings, he has 7 TDs and 610 rushing yards.

•Packers RB Cedric Benson vs. New Orleans. Feature backs are averaging 114.8 yards per game against the sieve-like Saints defense, which is far and away the worst rush D in the league.

•Seahawks defense at St. Louis. After an 8-sack performance against the Packers, Seattle is primed to throttle Sam Bradford and Co.

•Cardinals defense vs. Miami. Arizona's for real. If your defense isn't getting it done, make the switch now.

Bad bets

•Rams RB Steven Jackson vs. Seattle. Yet to top 60 rushing yards in a game, Jackson is careening toward must-bench status.

•Eagles QB Michael Vick vs. New York Giants. I was over-the-top thrilled to get Vick in the seventh round in one of my drafts. Now I'm about ready to throw him into the free-agent pool.

•Giants RBs Ahmad Bradshaw and/or Andre Brown at Philadelphia. This assumes Bradshaw (neck) is going to play, which it sounds like he will. Either way, his role will be diminished and these two will be facing a defense that's allowed 1 rushing score in the last seven games.

•Titans WRs Kenny Britt and Nate Washington at Houston. QB Jake Locker completely abused the Lions last week, but the Texans will show Tennessee what a contending NFL team looks like.

•Cowboys QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant vs. the Bears. What an utter waste Romo (1 TD, 4 turnovers last two) has been. He may not be worth using again until the Cowboys go to Carolina in Week 7.

•Niners defense at New York Jets. Only five teams yield fewer points to opposing defenses than the non-risk-taking Jets. If you can start Seattle or Arizona this week, I'd try them as a one-week stopgap.

jdietz@dailyherald.com

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