Scouting Notebook: Pop guns

Michael Salfino
Yahoo! Sports

Two big-name passers helming suddenly punch-and-judy passing attacks highlight our Week 9 Scouting Notebook.

We start in Carolina, where Drew Brees(notes) was decidedly pop-gun with his wide receivers averaging less than 10 yards per catch. Tom Brady(notes) similarly had his wideouts gain just 69 yards on seven catches. Unlike the again victorious Brees, Brady is coming off a disheartening loss in Cleveland.

The buy for the Saints now is Julius Jones(notes), who has ability. Pierre Thomas(notes) doesn't seem to have a future in New Orleans with the team questioning his toughness coming off ankle injury after passing on giving him long-term security this summer.

Before we get excited about the Bucs showing fight against the Falcons and thus defying the stat people (like me) who think they stink, let's note that the stats also say the Falcons are about average and thus overachieving, too.

Tony Sparano spent the week trying to figure out ways to get Brandon Marshall(notes) the ball more in the red zone and succeeded in not getting it to him anywhere. Five grabs is okay, but for 30 yards when one catch went for 21? Terrible.

Joe Flacco(notes) played that top-shelf game we've been waiting for in reality but the fantasy returns were modest.

Jay Cutler(notes) being sacked one time is progress. But it came at the cost of big passing plays. Matt Forte(notes) owners got a tough break when his one good run set up Chester Taylor's(notes) touchdown as Forte came out for a breather. What happened to backs waiving off the backup when the coach tried to trot him out after a long run?

Peyton Hillis(notes) annoys me as he's a constant reminder that I touted him so early in the summer that I took heat from readers who said he was undraftable and thus a waste of space. I proceeded to land him in exactly none of my leagues. Hopefully you listened to me better than I did.

Colt McCoy(notes) looks pretty good but remember the Patriots defense is bad across the board in the key stats, especially third-down conversion percentage and yards per pass attempt. So the only Brown you should play next week against the Jets is Hillis, and you need to expect flex production from him at best.

Mark Sanchez(notes) finally started coming off his first reads. But the bigger problem is that the play design is not getting receivers open enough in the intermediate area of the field, which is bread and butter. Santonio Holmes(notes) was finally a factor on that kind of route to get the win, but it almost came too late. LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) is getting dropped too often by the first tackler and at his age and mileage, it's a big concern. This might be the last really cheap buying window for Shonn Greene(notes).

Buffalo's Steve Johnson(notes) has been very playable for the sixth straight week, so I am a believer.

Philip Rivers(notes) is so unconventionally good. He never wows you with his arm strength but that's so overrated. Can you be the league MVP on a losing team? No matter, the Chargers won't be a losing team for long. I'd be selling Seyi Ajirotutu(notes) right now, because Chargers wideouts don't score because they are good as much as they score just because they happen to be playing that week.

Arian Foster(notes) is just ridiculous now, but he's killed Matt Schaub(notes) as a fantasy force.

With no Randy Moss(notes), the Vikings passing game and Percy Harvin(notes), especially, just went to junk, right? Harvin doesn't need Moss at all. Minnesota's offense is going to be just fine, especially when Sidney Rice(notes) comes back (get Rice now). Get Brett Favre(notes) now, too. He showed again that he's at his best when all hope seems lost and that's the context for the rest of Minnesota's season.

Eli Manning(notes) is fantasy gold right now – a 4,200-yard, 34-TD pace is sustainable given his supporting cast and system. Another plus for Manning – the Giants offensive line is veteran enough to pass protect well but too old to be really dominant running the ball. They're like a Colts line now.

Jacoby Ford(notes)? Pass. Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes) needs to be thrown back into the scrap heap, too. Fade Raiders wideouts.

Michael Vick(notes) is not going to last this year at his age, taking all those downfield shots. He leaves easy completions on the field and takes maybe a few more yards running. But he's not thinking long-term. Something is going to break or pull or tear again very soon. He's a dangerous guy to start because you have a relatively significant chance of losing him to injury any week, perhaps very early.

The Eagles put Asante Samuel(notes) on Pierre Garcon(notes). So Reggie Wayne(notes) and Jacob Tamme(notes) had big days. Tamme can't be this good, can he? If he was, why wasn't he playing at all before Clark was hurt? At some point, teams are going to devote Clark-like attention to stopping Tamme and then we'll find out if he's for real. Right now, we just do not know.

Miles Austin(notes) is not going to make it this year. I'd take Dez Bryant(notes) over him right now.

Brandon Jackson(notes) would be a real force if the Packers treated him like a back who's averaging 4.4 yards per carry (coming into Sunday night) instead of rotating him with John Kuhn(notes), who runs like the fullback he once was and again should be.

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