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Scouting Notebook: Top Jimmy

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

Let's start this Week 5 Scouting Notebook with one of the most entertaining games of the day, where Cam Newton(notes) and the Panthers gave the Saints all they could handle.

Jimmy Graham(notes) is the No. 1 tight end in fantasy football because he's so consistently targeted. He's far and away the primary weapon in a volume passing offense. Now Sean Payton will start getting crafty and use him as a decoy.

Newton owners like it when a replay review reverses a TD and puts the ball down at the one. Five rushing TDs is ridiculous. Michael Vick(notes) was, and is, a way better runner than Newton, but Newton is a weapon on the goal line, where Vick was never special. He's longer and bigger than any back and thus is money in the bank near the stripe, rushing for a TD every eight carries. This all makes Jonathan Stewart(notes) worthless – he didn't get a carry the first half.

Tim Tebow's(notes) release is so slow he almost couldn't clock the ball before time expired. Is Tebow a poor man's Newton? No – he can't throw like a pro.

Ben Roethlisberger(notes) was clearly hobbled and was ultra-efficient in somehow converting ho-hum efficiency (6.7 yards per attempt, below the league average) into a five-TD day.

Titans tight end Jared Cook(notes) is on the field in the slot on all third downs and thus is a great bye-week, injury replacement given how widely available he is.

I think Marcedes Lewis(notes) is a good player and not a flash in the pan; he just never had a chance after David Garrard(notes) was cut. Sorry if you drafted him before that shook out.

Football fans watch more of the same commercials than any anyone else. So can someone tell me why carrying around a slightly smaller jar of uric acid your entire waking life is such a wonder of modern medicine?

It was hard to guess how the passing game for the Texans was going to shake out without Andre Johnson(notes) active. But it was essentially receiver-less except for Kevin Walter(notes), not easy to do when you throw for 400-plus yards.

And it's not often a team comes out victorious when being outpassed by an average of about three yards per play. But let Oakland get lucky the weekend Al Davis dies. As the man said, "Just win baby."

Vick had another 90 yards rushing. No QB can ever touch him as a runner. But he has one TD every 21.6 attempts. So his nine rushing TDs last year were clearly a fluke (100 attempts). He should have had about five. And he's not likely to get more than 3-to-4 the balance of 2011 even if he stays healthy.

Percy Harvin(notes) is not a viable fantasy option in any format.

Kevin Kolb(notes) had an 8.1 YPA (yes, passing is inflated this year) coming into Week 5 so I'm not going to throw him under the bus. But it was a really bad day and, after the bye, he's at Pittsburgh and Baltimore. So, stay away for now. Larry Fitzgerald(notes) owners just have to suck it up. You can't play matchups with players who are arguably the best at their position.

Kansas City (31st) and Indianapolis (26th) were both near the bottom of my Yahoo! Fantasy Football Defensive Power Rankings. So big days were in the forecast. But Jackie Battle(notes)? He had a career 3.0 yards per rush on 51 carries and turned 28 last week. But he has a pulse and we can't be too picky at running back given how carries are generally allocated to such a small population of players. I'd sneak him on my roster given that he has a bye next week and thus will be ignored by many. Here's a scouting report from 2007, the last time anyone cared about him.

On a related note, Donald Brown(notes), former first-round pick, showed some life and Curtis Painter(notes) had a 115.8 QB rating and maybe Peyton Manning(notes) is back in December … I'm just sayin'. But first check tomorrow and see how long Joseph Addai(notes) (hamstring) is likely to be out.

Victor Cruz(notes) is like Zelig in these games, getting into the middle of every big play – good, bad or overturned. He's killing Mario Manningham(notes), who I think is better but who really prefers to work in the slot while Cruz is more versatile in working well inside and outside the numbers. So, yes, I'd swap out Manningham for Cruz. But I wouldn't broom Mario for just anyone – yet.

I have no explanation for Alex Smith and the 49ers the last two weeks. I have to review the replay on Tuesday. For now, hold Frank Gore(notes). But trading for him now may be dangerous. I'll post an update on Twitter @MichaelSalfino by Wednesday morning.

Ryan Mathews(notes) owners should note Jacob Hester's(notes) 11 carries after Mike Tolbert(notes) (concussion) left. Norv Turner obviously doesn't think Mathews is an every-down back. And most weeks, the Chargers aren't going to get 72 plays, more like 55. So don't project off this week's carries. Failing that conditioning test way back in August may be haunting him, along with the 2010 injuries.

Tom Brady(notes) picked the Jets apart even though they played six or seven defensive backs most of the day. This also led to BenJarvus Green-Ellis's(notes) big day, which you can ignore unless this defensive approach catches on. It probably won't because coaches and defenses can't stand giving up five yards a carry to average backs like the Law Firm.

This is as good as time as any to trade Shonn Greene(notes), who probably just reached his 2011 high.

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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