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NFL Skinny: Hat Trick Treats

Brandon Funston
Yahoo Sports

Running Back Radar
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS HOT
1st Chair: Joseph Addai
2nd Chair: Dominic Rhodes
Skinny: You don't have to wait for Indianapolis' official announcement that Addai is now the main man in the backfield, it was apparent on the field on Sunday. After regularly outperforming Rhodes as the second back in the team's offense thru the first seven weeks, Addai was rewarded with 17 carries (93 yards) on Sunday, while Rhodes took just three handoffs (0 yards). That Addai was able to run on a staunch Denver defense should have his fantasy owners feeling good about starting him anywhere, while Rhodes owners should bench their back until further notice.
DENVER BRONCOS HOT
1st Chair: Tatum Bell
2nd Chair: Mike Bell
Skinny: This is one time that convolution in Denver's backfield can't be blamed on Mike Shanahan. After averaging just shy off 100 rushing yards through the first six games, Tatum Bell told Shanahan at halftime on Sunday that his turf toe was making it difficult to cut on and that he probably couldn't carry the load in the second half. That opened the door for Mike Bell, and he charged through, splintering the door frame on his way. The rookie ran 15 times for 136 yards, most of it in the second half. While Tatum is still likely to remain on top of the depth chart once he's deemed completely recovered from the nasty turf toe injury, Mike Bell made a statement that can't be ignored, and one has to wonder if Shanahan will see visions of last year's Mike Anderson/Bell time-share and decide to go that route once again. stay tuned …
NEW YORK JETS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Leon Washington
2nd Chair: Kevan Barlow
Skinny: Washington carried the clear majority of the workload in the Jets' backfield once again in Week 8, taking the ball 15 times to Barlow's five. Barlow, at this point, is simply a short yardage guy. One more week like this and this backfield will fall off the radar, as the top spot is now far from being contended.
HOUSTON TEXANS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Wali Lundy
2nd Chair: Samkon Gado, Ron Dayne
Skinny: This is another RB situation likely to fade from the radar next week, as Lundy now has a firm grasp on the starter's role after rushing 18 times for 116 yards on Sunday, his second straight strong effort.
Also See: Sunday Scene | Damage Report

Holy hat tricks! It's raining touchdowns in the NFL these days. In Week 8, Larry Johnson (4), LaDainian Tomlinson (3) and Reggie Wayne (3) combined for 10 scores – for Tomlinson, it was the second hat trick in the past three weeks. In total, there have been 10 hat-trick performances in '06, with eight of them coming in the past three weeks. This scoring frenzy is enough to drive a Tiki Barber owner crazy – the NFL's rushing leader went end zone-less again on Sunday, leaving him without a touchdown to show his 155 carries and 29 catches on the year. Here's hoping he finds painted grass one more time before riding off into the sunset. Let's take a look at more of the highs and lows from Week 8:

Week 8 Update: Need-to-know info from the past few days

Sunday featured QB starting debuts for Dallas and Seattle, and both were noteworthy in the fantasy arena. For the Cowboys, Tony Romo led the 'Boys to a road victory at Carolina, throwing for 270 yards, a TD and an INT. He showed good ability to avoid the rush – he was sacked twice, which is actually equivalent to six on the Drew Bledsoe conversion scale – and he didn't make the ill-advised hurried throws that were problematic last week when he substituted for Bledsoe. He also revived TE Jason Witten's season. With Bledsoe behind center, Witten was heavily employed as a blocker, but Romo's mobility allowed Witten to lighten his blocking load, and Romo found him in the passing game six times for 80 yards and a TD. Romo showed surprising calm in a tough environment, and he looks like a player that must be owned in typical 10- or 12-team leagues.

For the Seahawks, QB Seneca Wallace threw for 198 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in a 35-28 loss at Kansas City – a loss that can be pinned directly on Seattle's defense, and not at all on Wallace. The former Iowa St. star opened some eyes with his poise as a passer against the Chiefs. In the Pacific Northwest, talk about Wallace has often led to the idea that he should be moved to receiver to take advantage of his speed and athleticism. But, on Sunday, he made a strong case that he can be a solid NFL signal caller, often putting tight-spiraled passes into hard-to-reach spots. He did scramble a few times, but his four carries for 18 yards rushing was arguably the one place where he did less than expected. While Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren has said that he won't add designed run plays in for Wallace, the expectation was that his scrambling ability could yield high ground totals – and it probably will in the weeks to come. I expected that Wallace's frenetic pace and smallish size would result in 2-3 turnovers a game – he had two in this one – but he was way more under control than I imagined he would be. While incumbent Matt Hasselbeck nurses his knee back to health, Wallace looks like a perfectly fine plug-n-play option.

Sticking with Seattle, the Seahawks again struggled to run the ball on Sunday. Maurice Morris, filling in for the injured Shaun Alexander, had just 25 yards on 12 carries, and he's now averaging 46 rushing yards since taking over for Alexander in Week 4. Now the news is out that Alexander will not be able to return from his foot injury in Week 9 against Oakland, as was expected. Alexander is now slated to return in Week 10 in a home game against St. Louis.
New Orleans faced a Baltimore defense that was the best in fantasy at limiting opposing running backs. Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister found out that fact the hard way, as the two combined for 10 rushes for 27 yards. For Bush it was the fourth consecutive game he's finished with 26 rushing yards or less, and this time his receiving skills failed to provide consolation (four catches, five yards). At least in fantasy, Bush stands behind Joseph Addai and Laurence Maroney, Leon Washington, Maurice Jones-Drew and Mike Bell among rookie running backs in terms of impact. Despite his meager production, Bush is still carrying an inflated price tag in many leagues, as recent deals in the past couple days in Yahoo! leagues have seen him go straight up for Tiki Barber, Warrick Dunn and Chad Johnson. That's silly. If you are saddled with this guy, you might want to see if you can swing one of these stupid deals.
For a rundown of the Week 8 injury news, including Reggie Bush's twisted ankle, be sure to check out Christopher Harris' Damage Report.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues
QBTony Romo, Dal
OK, I'm convinced. That Romo was so calm, cool and collected on the road against a fast, strong Carolina defense was all I needed to see. He's got fantastic weapons to work with, and he gets an Arizona defense in Week 9 that looks like it has already started day-dreaming about the offseason. Expect Romo to post strong numbers against the defeated Cardinals next Sunday, and to be a strong option down the stretch. He could be had in 92 percent of Yahoo! leagues heading into the past weekend.

RB – Wali Lundy, Hou
No reason to remove Lundy from this spot. He landed here last week after rushing 19 times for 93 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville. Few owners paid attention, however, as he remained 90 percent available in Yahoo! leagues heading into Week 8. On Sunday, Lundy delivered his second consecutive strong performance, handling 18 carries for 116 yards and hauling five passes for 33 yards. It's his show in the backfield now, folks, and any featured back, even one from Houston, deserves a roster spot. If he remains available in over 50 percent of leagues by the end of this week, more people are starting to dial in their seasons than I thought.

WRChris Henry, Cin
Like Yahoo! Sports' Cris Carter, all Henry does is catch touchdowns. In his first game back from a three-week suspension hiatus, Henry hauled in five passes for 81 yards and a score, his third in his past two games. For his career, Henry has 47 catches, nine of which have found pay dirt – an outstanding ratio of just over five catches per every score. In preseason, QB Carson Palmer compared Henry's skills to Randy Moss, saying that he simply needed to throw it up and let Henry go up and get it. The Cincy offense has been much more effective with Henry in the lineup, and it will continue to find ways to utilize him, so fantasy owners shouldn't be scared off by the fact that he's behind Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh on the depth chart. In 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Henry is attainable.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Tony Scheffler, Den, TE – The rookie finally got a chance to flash his nifty receiving skills on Sunday, catching a season high four passes for 51 yards.

Owen Daniels, Hou, TE – With two scores on Sunday, Daniels now has five touchdowns for the season, tied for the most among tight ends (Marques Colston excluded).

Ahman Green, GB, RB – Despite working through leg injuries, Green has topped 100 yards rushing in his past two games, and three times in the five games he's played.

Michael Jenkins, Atl, WR – Michael Vick's explosion as a passer has been a welcome development for Atlanta's receivers, particularly Alge Crumpler and Jenkins, who has hauled in touchdown passes in each of his past two games.

Chad Pennington, NYJ, QB – After throwing five TD passes to just one interception through his first three games, Pennington has thrown five TD passes and seven interceptions in his past five games, topping 200 passing yards just once in that span.

Drew Bennett, Ten, WR – The Vince Young era has been tough on Bennett – he has a combined six catches for 93 yards and no touchdowns in his past four games.

Joey Galloway, TB, WR – After going catchless in Week 7, Galloway followed it up with just four catches for 32 yards, and dropped two deep balls that should have been caught, on Sunday.

David Carr, Hou, QB – An ineffective Carr was benched in the third quarter against Tennessee on Sunday. He will get the start in Week 9, but obviously he's no longer on solid footing.

Anquan Boldin, Ari, WR – Boldin's value is tied to rookie QB Matt Leinart's, and as Leinart has struggled the past couple weeks, so has Boldin, who has finished with under 60 receiving yards in back-to-back games for the first time since Week 9 and 10 of '04.

Reggie Bush, NO, RB – Bush is quickly gaining steam as a top fantasy bust candidate. He has yet to score a rushing or receiving touchdown, he's averaging just 3.0 yards per carry, and he hasn't topped 100 total yards from scrimmage since Week 1.

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