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Scouting Notebook: Gold rush

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

We're almost halfway through our fantasy regular season and I sure hope you are playing to win, unlike a couple coaches that appear in our Week 6 Scouting Notebook.

Frank Gore(notes) is really explosive and just so tough. He had little help in Motown with Alex Smith averaging 3.9 yards per attempt. That's tough sledding. But he's the man on all downs except when getting a breather. So even though the QB environment isn't good – we want passers that move the chains and create easy scoring opportunities – the team environment (defense and coaching) is very good. If I had any idea that Jim Harbaugh would be this good a NFL coach (projecting college success is pointless, history proves), I would have had Gore as a top-five back easy. Now all Gore has to do is dodge the injury demons, which are always lurking given his running style.

I like my coaches too fired up to deal with the formality of a post-game handshake and I guarantee you his players do, too.

In this watered down RB year, Jahvid Best(notes) is a guy you have to start. And he's a third-down back that's being granted more work very reluctantly and only due to injury. Also, the Lions can't run to save their life. Did I mention it's a weak RB year?

Okay, so you are the winless rams in Green Bay against the defending and undefeated Super Bowl champs. You move the ball well on your first drive but face a third and 11. And then you call a draw. Way to inspire the troops, Steve Spagnuolo.

Jermichael Finley(notes) is a big disappointment and when things are going so well for his team, why will that change? We need to see a snap count on him. The target count – four. With Chad Clifton(notes) out, the Packers may opt to fortify the protection at Finley's expense.

I'm not going to apologize for predicting that Eli Manning(notes) would be a top scorer this week. (Though I will apologize later for advocating Colt McCoy(notes), even though it miraculously worked out). Hakeem Nicks(notes) was pushed out inside the five on a long bomb and Mario Manningham(notes) had a TD overturned and then dropped another one on those ridiculous "maintain possession through the catch" calls. You know, we lived without this rule for generations, NFL. Plus Manning threw for 292 yards (200 in the first half).

Victor Cruz(notes) has to be on the field more and not just as the slot receiver. The irony is that Manningham dominates every day at practice playing the slot, meaning the Giants should just play to their personnel Green Bay style and go to three wides as their base offense (Finley is only technically a TE). But they won't, so Cruz has a very low floor. The Giants still can't run – another game under 4.0 per carry against a poor run defense. What I'm saying is: Hold Cruz.

Curtis Painter(notes) was awful, but remember the Bengals can really play defense as I note every week in Football by the Numbers. I duly note that A.J. Green(notes) is a top 20 wide receiver, or at least in that tier if you want to quibble. He is almost impossible to defend in the end zone.

Roddy White's(notes) yards per catch is going the wrong way: 13.6, 12.1, 11.0. I'm worried about him. He needs volume and Atlanta goes back and forth on committing to the pass. After running their way to a win, they'll probably try to do the same in Detroit – especially after seeing Frank Gore highlights all week.

I don't know why the Redskins stuck with Ryan Torain(notes), who isn't quick or durable. Why not give Roy Helu(notes) a shot? Especially when Torain is going 10 carries, 22 yards against a rotten rushing defense. Not that Washington had much of a chance to run in the second half.

Hey, Rex Grossman(notes) turned out to be Rex Grossman. Shocker. He was hitting the Eagles in stride all day.

Mike Wallace(notes) was open deep every time I looked up on Sunday. He should have had 200 yards and at least two TDs. I'm not buying Rashard Mendenhall(notes). I'll hold him, though.

I said that Colt McCoy would have more points this week than Matt Schaub(notes), but McCoy was mostly awful against a bad pass defense and Schaub was okay against a rock-solid Ravens defense. So if I'm not going to take blame for Eli, I can't take credit for McCoy.

You know how hard it is to play QB when you watch Drew Brees(notes) on a day like Sunday in Tampa Bay. Three picks plus missing a wide open – I mean no one within 10 yards of him in the middle of the end zone – Robert Meachem(notes) with the game on the line. But it's easy for us to sit on our couches and say, "Hey, throw it to that guy." But when the bullets are flying all around you, it's very hard – the single hardest thing to do in professional sports. Think about this when you're bashing young QBs for not developing fast enough or for lacking a linear, upward trajectory.

Earnest Graham(notes) was predictably productive but Marques Colston(notes)? Who knows with Saints receivers other than Jimmy Graham(notes) from week to week.

The Cowboys also had a chance to steal a game against the Patriots on very late third and goal from the five and instead ran a shovel pass to a running back, Tashard Choice(notes), they are reportedly looking to trade. All those playmakers and this is the guy you ask to make a play, Jason Garrett? Crazy. The champion's advantage is having opponents too afraid of failure to even attempt to lay it on you.

Michael Salfino writes and edits the SNYWhyGuys blog that projects player and team performance for New Yorkers. He's also a quantative sports analyst whose writing regularly appears in the Wall Street Journal.

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