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FANTASY GRIND: Real versus fantasy; CBS' Richard

AP - Sports

Sometimes it's hard to remember that NFL teams have different goals than you do as a fantasy player.

Sure, you both care about winning. But NFL teams and players don't care about piling up stats the same way you do - except maybe players in contract years, and that's highly debatable.

The AP's Joe Kay ((at)apjoekay on Twitter) has some interesting stats on running backs by committee across the league (http://bit.ly/1g28YVt ): 16 teams have two or more running backs with 25 runs or catches so far this season, according to STATS. In a passing league, running backs have 603 catches so far this year.

Fantasy circles have been buzzing about committee running backs for several years, raising draft values of players like Adrian Peterson: Workhorse No. 1 backs who have the best shot of getting 20 or more touches during a game.

The mix between carries and catches is shifting. Of the top 10 backs so far this year under standard fantasy scoring, four are averaging more than four catches per game, while only Peterson is averaging more than 20 carries per game.

Just as a pass-happy league increases quarterback scoring overall, it's diminishing strict ground production, challenging fantasy owners to go beyond approaches that previously made them successful.

So when you're yelling at the TV for coaches to feed Chris Johnson or Stevan Ridley the rock, know that they're not listening.

''All they care about is who's winning,'' says Dave Richard, a senior fantasy writer for CBS Sports (more on him below).

As Johnson said this week, he didn't ask you to draft or start him.

He tweeted Tuesday: ''a lot of u take the fun out of it.''

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BYE, BYE, BYE

Week 4 saw just two teams on bye, while five of the next eight weeks will include at least four teams on bye. Get ready to plug and play. Here are some options for Week 5:

QB: Brian Hoyer, Cleveland. Did you know Vegas has Cleveland favored to beat Buffalo by 4 points? Hoyer also had 18 points each in Weeks 3 and 4 under ESPN standard scoring, two-week production ahead of players like Andrew Luck and Sam Bradford. Casinos don't expect a lot of scoring, but Hoyer's the most likely Brown besides kicker Billy Cundiff to put up points, real or imaginary.

RB: Bilal Powell, New York Jets. He really shouldn't be available in your league still, but if he's there and you need a starter, there you go. Consensus expert rankings from FantasyPros.com have him 11th among running backs as the Jets face Atlanta.

WR: Alshon Jeffery, Chicago. He's not a sneaky play after racking up 134 combined yards and a touchdown against Detroit on Sunday. But his prettiest figure from that game: 11 targets, tied for ninth most among wide receivers for the week.

TE: Charles Clay, Miami. Common fantasy tight ends on bye this week: Kyle Rudolph, Heath Miller, Fred Davis (though you should really look at Jordan Reed). Plus a couple guys in Tampa you can't name. Clay has been better than all of them, and likely will be going forward unless Miller gives him a run.

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RINGER TIME: DAVE RICHARD

Richard, who regularly opines about fantasy sports on TV, radio, podcasts and the Web for CBS Sports, says it's in your best interest to approach trades without too much nonsense. So cut out the lowball offers, blatant ripoffs and unrealistic proposals.

''I think the best kind of trade where the best offer is made first,'' Richard said.

Trading can be tough for fantasy players because of a natural tendency to be suspicious of other players. But it can be crucial, depending on your situation, especially at this point in the fantasy season when you're learning more about how your team is shaping up.

''No one likes being ripped off - you don't feel good about it,'' Richard said. ''The best way to make yourself feel like you're not dealing with a car salesman is to identify what you need and what you have to offer.''

On the other hand, a win-win deal can let you trade depth at one position for a need somewhere else, with an owner or owners with compatible needs.

Richard keeps a handy weekly trade value chart (http://bit.ly/151UMXX ) that can help determine values of similar players (if you agree with Richard's rankings, that is). So Antonio Gates for Torrey Smith and Hakeem Nicks for David Wilson: Decently fair according to the chart.

And remember, your league mates are judging the deals you make and propose, using your maneuvers to judge whether they'll deal with you.

''There are people everywhere that try to do ripoff deals,'' Richard said. ''They're the car salesman, they're the car shark.''

If you're the person nobody wants to play Monopoly against, you might consider a different approach.

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FULL DISCLOSURE

Dearest fantasy gods, please spare me from a stat correction.

Unless one comes, my Week 4 record will stick at 4-1, including a spirit-lifting win in a two-quarterback, point-per-reception keeper league. The win showed a common fantasy lesson: Assume nothing, let things play out.

I won that matchup by 0.6 points despite taking a zero at one QB spot with Christian Ponder hurt and accidentally benching Reggie Bush because I was distracted while setting my lineup just before checking out of a hotel on Sunday morning.

I'd all but given up Friday, after learning Ponder wouldn't start and seeing just over 12 points combined from Bradford and Tavon Austin on Thursday night. Their poor play made me not want to overspend on a hasty trade to try to get someone like Matt Flynn or Mike Glennon to fill in at quarterback, only to lose anyway.

But Darren Sproles and Garrett Hartley brought me back from a 30-point hole on Monday night.

Clearly, all skill and no luck.

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Oskar Garcia is a news editor in Honolulu who spends way too much time on fantasy sports with too little to show for it. He can be reached at ogarcia(at)ap.org or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .

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