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Scouting Notebook: Cam-azing!

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

Sorry Jamaal Charles(notes) owners, but it was looking like an ugly season anyway. Of course, nothing is as ugly as a Week 2 torn ACL. But Kansas City is a horror show now, with and especially without him.

Arian Foster(notes) owners are feeling blue about their first-round pick, too. Unlike Charles owners, though, they will have a much harder time turning the page as they continue to read injury updates for hidden clues. Don't play him again until he makes it through a game. Hey, don't shoot the messenger. You went and made this mess for yourself.

Cam Newton was viewed by some wise speculators as a poor-man's Michael Vick(notes). But maybe Vick will turn out to be the poor man's Newton. Back-to-back 400-plus-yard passing games right out of the box is outside the realm of projections. This is firmly his team, with 46 pass attempts in a game that never was desperate and, amazingly, about as many rushing attempts as DeAngelo Williams(notes) and Jonathan Stewart(notes) combined.

Newton is a must start. If he's backing up for you, trade your starter pronto. If he's a fluke it will be the fluke of the century. Beyond the numbers, Newton has a very advanced ability to extend plays, keep downfield focus and find openings in the very tight NFL windows. He's made Steve Smith a top 10 receiver (maybe top five) again.

Oakland at Buffalo was an old AFL-style offensive explosion with 35 fourth-quarter points and 79 combined passing attempts.

Darren McFadden(notes) can make a very strong case for the best player in fantasy football. In his 15 games since the start of 2010, he has 1,963 yards from scrimmage. Sure he gives way on the goal-line to Michael Bush(notes). But his receiving makes up for that in PPR leagues.

Fred Jackson(notes) is the poor man's McFadden. And Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) is playable in all formats, which doesn't mean you play him of course but it means we can believe in his wideouts. What do we make of David Nelson(notes) (10 catches and a TD)? He was an undrafted free agent last year. He's tall and timed slow, but seems to combine possession skills with the size that should make him useful in the red zone. So he's playable on bye weeks at least.

Do you play Jordy Nelson(notes) every week given that he had only one catch (an 84-yard TD)? I think he's a third guy in deep leagues now but I believe there's one person in every league who thinks he will be much more. Find him (or her). And as I said last year when I ended this column touting Nelson over the very ordinary James Jones(notes), I have no doubt that Nelson will be great with Aaron Rodgers(notes). But he's still not starting over Donald Driver(notes) and that's a problem given that the Packers have no urgency to do the right thing here.

Matthew Stafford(notes) is going to give you volume. In leagues where teams roster one QBs, go for it. There's no running game in Motown. I mean, 39 passes (30 runs) in a game the Lions win 48-3? What's going to happen when the games are tight (as they will be)? Yes, you have to hold your breath still every time he gets hit. But he can win games for you.

The Colts are a disaster, yes. Kerry Collins(notes) doesn't look like he'll hold on to enough in that offense for more than one player to be productive and that guy (probably) is Reggie Wayne(notes), period.

I think it's a fantasy football rule that Pierre Thomas(notes) has to be the Saints best running back and regularly get second-most touches.

Dustin Keller(notes) does this every so often. He started 2010 like gangbusters and then more or less disappeared. So I will not be a buyer. Hold him though. I have no idea what happened to Plaxico Burress(notes), but I note he's been invisible in about 6.5 of eight quarters this year. The other 1.5 though, was "Wow!"

Shonn Green cannot manufacture yards unless he's running people over, but that catches up with you when you get promoted from change of pace back. The laws of physics say that players exert the same force on each other during collisions, no matter their respective size.

Felix Jones(notes), shockingly, can't stay healthy in the full-time job after he couldn't stay healthy as a part-time back. Boy are we all dumb sometimes. Doesn't seem so sexy now, right?

Reggie Bush(notes) was promised 20 touches per game just this week. So go sue Tony Sparano for breach of oral contract. Miami has no clue how to use Bush as a receiver, at least relative to Sean Payton. So bench Bush and pick up Daniel Thomas(notes), pronto, even though the Dolphins stink.

The clock is ticking on Tim Hightower(notes). He'll be a part of the rotation. But this is Roy Helu's(notes) show on first and second down by Halloween.

There is post-Carson Palmer(notes) life in Cincinnati. Perhaps the Broncos are terrible defensively. But Andy Dalton(notes) was just about perfect on the road. A rookie QB throwing for 300-plus yards with 100-plus of them (and 10 catches) going to another rookie WR is something special and perhaps unique.

So Vince Jackson has never had 100 targets in a season? He seemed to have 100 on Sunday. Jackson easily could be as productive as any wideout in 2011. The Chargers have a JV running game, which helps.

Michael Salfino writes for the Wall Street Journal and is a regular contributor to Yahoo! Sports.

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League type:
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League size:
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Draft time:
Aug 27 9:00 am
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