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9-on-9: Stafford to start; Jennings and Jones-Drew recover

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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It's officially official: Matthew Stafford(notes) has won the battle to quarterback the 2009 Lions. He didn't cover himself in glory during the preseason (54.5 completion percentage, one TD, four INTs), but he does have a huge arm and he possesses the good sense to look Calvin Johnson's(notes) way on every down. Here's coach Jim Schwartz: "This isn't an internship. This isn't a trial basis. He's our starting quarterback." Detroit's first-half schedule seems unusually tricky, considering they're a no-win team: at New Orleans, vs. Minnesota, vs. Washington, at Chicago, vs. Pittsburgh, at Green Bay, bye. Look elsewhere (obviously), except in two-quarterback formats. []
Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) (shin) is going to be fine for Week 1, but he won't go into detail: "I'm looking forward to practice Wednesday, that's about all I can tell you. … I'm taking the Bill Belichick way out." MJD isn't too happy with Fred Smoot(notes) right now: "If you want to cut out blocking or certain hits when people aren't looking, going low when a guy's back's to you … that isn’t the way to tackle a guy." [Associated Press, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
"I'm good," says Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings(notes). He suffered a concussion in that no-defense-allowed preseason tilt against Arizona, during what must have been the game's only tackle. Jennings is practicing and he'll start against the Bears' sketchy secondary in Week 1. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
Matt Cassel(notes) returned to practice for the Chiefs on Monday, but coach Todd Haley hasn't committed to starting him against the Ravens in a brutal match-up. "You’ve got to practice to have a chance to play. This is a long week, so it’s a little different, but I would say generally you need to have a full Friday practice in to have a chance." Plan B is apparently Brodie Croyle(notes), though you can't reasonably give him better than a 15 percent chance to finish anything he starts against Baltimore. [Kansas City Star]
Judy Battista offers thoughts on potential long-range benefits to the Richard Seymour(notes) deal over at the NY Times. This might be the money quote: "They are betting the Raiders will still not be good in 2010." Bill Belichick robotically sums up the trade this way: "As difficult as it is to part ways with a player of Richard's stature, many factors were taken into account when we considered this trade. As an organization, we feel the trade with Oakland brings sufficient value and is in the long-term interest of the club." Also robotic, Tom Brady(notes): "Our goals are the team goals. At the same time you’ve got to understand what’s best for the team isn’t always what's best for you as a player." [The Fifth Down, Reiss's Pieces]
There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for Carnell Williams(notes) in the fantasy community today, now that he's listed atop the depth chart at running back for the Bucs. But please recall the rules of the 2-2-1 backfield rotation, as detailed by the St. Petersburg Times two weeks ago: "Bucs coach Raheem Morris has said the plan for the preseason (and if it works, the regular season, too) is to have the starting running back play two series, followed by another back taking the next two series, with the third back playing a single series. Then it starts all over again. The running back who has the single series would be used for situational plays fitting to his strengths (short yardage, etc)." Repeat: The back with the single series would also be the short yardage guy. Earnest Graham(notes) looks like the one-series/goal line option at the moment. [, Bucs Beat]
Titans receiver Nate Washington(notes) (hamstring) has returned to practice in a limited capacity. "He said he’s better than 80 percent at this point, and 'I don’t really know if I'm allowed to say that.'" But even if he doesn't play, his influence might be felt against Pittsburgh, his former team: "We certainly have picked his brain about the kind of coverages and things they like to do and personnel things," QB Kerry Collins(notes) said. "He's been a good resource this week." Rookie Kenny Britt(notes) becomes semi-relevant if Washington can't go. [Nashville Tennessean, AP]
This year, the talent pool at tight end is probably as deep as it's ever been. The position is loaded. Miami's Anthony Fasano(notes) is a decent stealth play, now that David Martin(notes) is out of the picture. Here's coach Tony Sparano: "David's absence leaves a little meat on the bone out there." [Miami Herald]
We're not endorsing all of these "Top Five Draft Values" and we probably wouldn't rank 'em in this order if we did. But the players ranked No. 2 and No. 3 are absolute steals. Those two should be universally owned and could return a massive windfall profit. Draft them. Deal for them. Hold them close, like a plush, non-squeaking toy. [RotoSynthesis]


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