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Ten players I love more than you

More top 10 love: Brandon Funston

The fantasy football landscape really starts to come into focus in late August and I’m starting to see a lot of the same players landing on my rosters. Here are 10 players I love more than you:

Eddie Royal(notes): A sharp route-runner with reliable hands, he’s all set to be the Wes Welker(notes) of the Broncos offense. Two other things will help steer those short passes to Royal: Kyle Orton(notes) isn’t much with the deep ball, and Brandon Marshall(notes) has been an absolute train wreck (on the field, off the field, in the classroom) all summer.

Tony Romo(notes): Why did the bandwagon empty out so quickly here? Romo’s thrown for 62 TDs in his last 29 starters and they didn’t all go to Terrell Owens(notes). Roy Williams, Jason Witten(notes), two dynamic pass-catching backs … there’s still a lot of toys to play with in this offense.

Anthony Gonzalez(notes): This one looks too easy – Peyton Manning(notes) trusts him, Marvin Harrison(notes) is gone, and we’re talking about a third-year receiver with a Round 1 pedigree. Get out the list of dominant Ohio State wide receivers, it’s time to make another entry.

Kevin Smith(notes): Don’t hold the Honolulu Blue and Silver against him – this year’s Lions outfit is talented enough to win five or six games, easy, and Smith will be a big part of the success. He collected 98 total yards per game in the second half of the season last year while chaos abounded, and he’ll be used in all formations and packages, no matter the game situation. Don’t be a Silent Bob when your chance comes in the late-second or early-third round; Smith is a dynamite value as your No. 2 back.

Minnesota Defense: Go ahead and laugh, but I’m grabbing these guys anywhere I can. There’s playmakers galore on the unit, and the first five games of the schedule should be a blast (Cleveland, Detroit, San Francisco, Green Bay, St. Louis). If the Vikings aren’t at least 4-1 after that stretch I’ll be shocked, and you want your fantasy defense in a winning situation – let’s grab some cheap points in the fourth quarter, attacking the pocket against teams trying to play catch up.

Chad Ocho Cinco(notes): I can’t believe I’m taking one more trip on this carnival ride but I can’t ignore what we’ve seen in the summer. The former Chad Johnson sure looks healthy, happy, and ready to restore his reputation as one of the league’s top 10 wideouts. No. 85 burned a lot of fantasy bridges over the last few years, which is why the price remains so affordable now.

Zach Miller: He collected 778 receiving yards on last year’s sinking ship and the Raiders don’t look any better at receiver right now – by default, Miller figures to be the clear first option when JaMarcus Russell(notes) drop back to pass. Don’t be aggressive at the tight end window in 2009; there’s fantastic depth at the position and Miller is just one of those guys you can steal late.

Visanthe Shiancoe(notes): Brett Favre(notes) always likes to incorporate a pass-catching tight end as a major part of his offense, and he probably will have to do more throwing between the numbers in his final trip around the league – he simply doesn’t have the downfield rocket that we saw in the Green Bay days. Add it all up and it’s advantage Shiancoe.

Shaun Hill(notes): He topped 200 yards passing in seven of his last eight starts last year, and don’t overlook the sneaky 115 yards on the ground (with two TDs). If you play in a two-QB format, this is the type of inexpensive second or third option you should be targeting.

Cedric Benson(notes): I don’t care if he was a knucklehead back in Chicago; the Bengals are prepared to run Benson until he drops, and you can make a lot of fantasy headway just by following the volume. Even if Benson plods around for less than four yards a carry – and he probably will – you can make a nifty profit here, using the recycled vet as your regular flex back. Sometimes you have to play it a little ugly. (I could say more, but Andy Behrens is pounding on my office door and demanding a rebuttal.)

Scott Pianowski is a Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert. Send Scott a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Thursday, Aug 27, 2009