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Scouting Notebook: Paying the Bills

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) entered the week No. 1 in TD percentage (of total passes). How can the leader there not be playable at QB? Then he puts up four more scores – three to Lee Evans(notes) – against the Ravens (a declining defense, but still). Fitzpatrick is in the perfect high volume situation and is showing quality along with the quantity. If you missed out on Kyle Orton(notes), here he is again, new and improved.

Darren McFadden's(notes) day has to be discounted a little because the Broncos front seven is made of paper mâché. But he's playing like a No. 1 pick – 150 yards per game and six TDs in five games. If you have him, you almost have to be in first place.

Matt Ryan(notes) and Roddy White(notes) are making great music together but Tony Gonzalez(notes) is basically playing cowbell now in the Falcons' band, averaging just four catches per game of the mostly harmless variety.

DeAngelo Williams(notes), Fred Taylor(notes) and Tiki Barber are only backs to average 4.5 yards or more three straight years, minimum 100 carries. Michael Turner(notes) remarkably has done it every year of his career, but this is just his third (in a row) with 100-plus carries.

Terrell Owens(notes) as Sports Illustrated's most overrated player? Just a total insult or proof that the players (who did the voting) don't know jack. Jerry Rice at age 37: 67 catches, 830 yards, 5 TDs. Owens current pace at age 37: 107 catches, 1,504 yards, 8 TDs.

Another week with Brandon Marshall(notes) getting five or more catches and no touchdowns. The man is suddenly allergic to the end zone. I'm asked a lot about Davone Bess(notes). He's good, the Dolphins' Wes Welker(notes) with more quickness (at least this post-ACL Welker). You can do a lot worse at WR3.

Ronnie Brown(notes) is a waste of time now. He'll have a 100-yard game with a couple of scores at some point, but you'll be filing for fantasy bankruptcy by then. Here's an example of a committee where the whole is far less than the sum of its parts. Miami averages just 107 rushing yards per game.

I was wrong about Mike Wallace(notes) supplanting Hines Ward(notes) post-return of Ben Roethlisberger(notes). Wallace is a one-trick pony – he can take the top off the defense very well but that's it. Ward was a beast in Miami and is clearly the Steelers No. 1 receiver, though this unit is far weaker than it's been in a very long time.

I liked Dwayne Bowe(notes) as a top 20 receiver in the preseason and that might have been too conservative. But the most important fantasy news in this game is that Chris Chambers(notes) was a healthy scratch and Dexter McCluster(notes) now is seeing enough time to be a poor-man's Percy Harvin(notes). That means about one step below the bigger name at a far more discounted price. In other words, I can see McCluster emerging as a solid WR3 going forward and it won't cost you much to find out if I'm right.

Ryan Torain(notes) was impressive, even factoring in the two fumbles (one lost). He looks solid for the balance of 2010 despite his lack of playing speed. He more than compensates with power and decisiveness.

I'm as lost in explaining why Jay Cutler(notes) is playing this poorly as Cutler is playing. When you step back, it does make perfect sense. But Mike Martz has turned run of the mill talents into much more. Cutler just can't slow the game down and calmly execute. I bet Martz wishes he had back Ryan Fitzpatrick (who he drafted because of his smarts, with a 48 out of 50 in his Wonderlic/IQ test).

You play basketball or golf or tennis or bowl with the guy who always limps around after a bad shot because of some supposedly chronic injury. When things go well, he has a spring in his step like nothing's wrong. That's Brett Favre(notes) now. An old guy with a bag of excuses. Just like us. Randy Moss(notes) isn't going to fix Favre. Nothing will. It's over.

Why was Matt Moore(notes) ever benched in the first place? He had four really good games and then two bad ones. What ratio do we reasonably expect from first-time starters? John Fox flubbed this simple math and made himself a bigger mess.

Get David Gettis(notes)? He's a work in progress as a rookie from Baylor, which doesn't throw much. He didn't lead Baylor last year in yards, receptions or touchdowns. But the measurables are impressive – 6-foot-4 with a 4.47 40 at the combine. I'm not afraid at all if an opponent starts him against me next week at St. Louis. Given the lack of collegiate production, I need to see another good day before I bite.

LeGarrette Blount(notes) is on the waiver list this week as a back showing signs of life beyond the faintest pulse. Maybe he sneaks into the top 30 down the stretch.

That's it for Kevin Kolb(notes) in Philly for the time being. Michael Vick(notes) is perfectly set up to reclaim the starting job post-bye.

What's with these guys who get disciplined by sitting out coming back and playing lights out? Braylon Edwards(notes) did it first with the long TD in Miami. Arian Foster(notes) had almost 200 yards after sitting out nearly the first half. And now Kenny Britt(notes) has the career day post arrest and his one-and-a-half-quarter sit down. Root for your guys to create mid-week mayhem, I guess.

Larry Fitzgerald(notes) and Max Hall(notes) do not seem to have a future together. Sid and Nancy had better chemistry.

The Patriots' offense has mostly been terrible post-Randy Moss. They had a good quarter last week. There's no playmaker now and really no scheme that's sustainable without Randy Moss opening up wide passing lanes given how teams laid off of him.

The Chargers invent ways to lose but they had the buffet open against New England, making every rarely-seen mistake imaginable. They played like Terry Malloy, like some goon came into the locker room during the pre-game and said, "Kid, this ain't your night." Or maybe they are just a rudderless luxury ship. Make that the Titanic.

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

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