Roto Arcade - Fantasy

Every Friday during the NFL season we'll review the Yahoo! weekly position ranks. If an expert breaks from the herd, they'll be asked to show their work. We'll focus on names near the start/sit line in public leagues. Let's play the feud…

Rashard Mendenhall(notes) (Noise rank 20; others 40, NR, NR)

When rankings were submitted late Thursday, it was a gamble ranking Mendenhall so highly with Willie Parker's(notes) availability still uncertain. But with the incumbent missing his third straight day of practice, it's looking very likely the former Illinois pile-driver will net the start against the Jamaal Williams-less San Diego Chargers. The Noise's No. 20 ranking is firm.

The Bolts have surrendered 4.6 yards per carry, 187.7 total yards per game and four TDs to rushers this season equal to the third-most fantasy points allowed. With Mewelde Moore(notes) working the peripheries, Mendenhall should go from doghouse to penthouse attacking the interior. The Pittsburgh O-line showed some improvement last week against Cincinnati and if the boss hogs can create sizable holes, the Steelers' backup could be in line for roughly 80-90 yards and a touchdown on 15-20 carries. (Noise)

Mewelde Moore (Behrens' rank 25; others 34, 34, NR)

Mendenhall is coming off a zero-carry effort against Cincinnati, a result of the fact that he reportedly "did not know the offense well enough to suit his coach." The match-up is excellent in Week 4, as Brad mentions above, but I'm not at all convinced that Mike Tomlin is prepared to rely too heavily on the second-year back. If he gets off to a slow start, Mendenhall will disappear.

Moore is my preferred play. When the veteran was asked to take on a full workload last season, he was excellent, a must-start fantasy commodity. Just check the game logs. Moore found the end zone six times between Weeks 7 and 10. He's also a superior receiving threat, and the Steelers are clearly a passing team (36.3 pass attempts per game, 24.3 rush). Moore is just eight percent owned, too, so add as needed. Parker's injury isn't likely to be a short-term thing. (Behrens)

Thomas Jones(notes) (Pianowski's rank 19; others 25-26-27)

By no means am I a Tom Jones apologist these days; he's sharing work with Leon Washington(notes) (a more talented player) and he really hasn't done much in 2009 other than some late-game runs against Houston. But let's not forget that the Jets are still a run-first offense that doesn't want Mark Sanchez(notes) to decide games just yet, and when New York heads to the Big Easy on the weekend it will be looking to pound the rock and shorten the game, a nod towards Drew Brees(notes) on the other side.

In short, Jones is looking at a very safe floor of 13-16 touches here unless the game gets completely out of hand at the outset, he's still working behind a superior offensive line and he'll still get the goal-line touches when the Jets get into scoring range. It might not be pretty at all times, but I can't see why Jones won't be able to grind out 70-75 rushing yards with a good shot at a touchdown, and that's something I'll gladly accept right now, given all the running-back injuries around the league and the key players who are on bye for Week 4. I'm not down with Mr. Jones for the long haul, but I'm unafraid to dial him up in Cajun Country. (Pianow)

Devery Henderson(notes) (Noise rank 18; others 42, 46, 51)

The Darrelle (Revis) Disease has infected some of the game's greatest vertical weapons, including Randy Moss(notes) and Andre Johnson(notes). Though he's been limited in practice by a minor hamstring injury, the Jets' suffocating coverman could very easily add Marques Colston(notes) to his list of victims - terrific news for Henderson.

Historically, the Saints' premier long-bomb threat has largely been one-dimensional - a modern-day James Jett. But with Lance Moore(notes) hobbled by a hamstring injury, the speedy wideout has evolved into a more complete receiver. Despite Moore's potential return to the lineup, Drew Brees will focus on Henderson downfield, avoiding Revis. Because he could rack similar totals as Week 1 (8-5-103-TD), Deep-ball Devery is a borderline top 20 WR play. (Noise)

Darren Sproles(notes) (Pianow's rank 21; others 24, 26, 33)

Sproles doesn't have the body type and running style that's ideally suited to make him a featured back, but thankfully this week the Chargers should be able to slide him back into his preferred role; a third-down option that scares the daylights out of opposing linebackers and coordinators. Sproles burned the Steelers with a 62-yard touchdown catch in last year's playoffs and he's already piled up 181 receiving yards this fall, including an 81-yard score against the Ravens. And we all know the Steelers have some coverage issues with safety supreme Troy Polamalu(notes) is on the sidelines, this simply isn't the same defense.

The game situation offers a nice safety-net here; Pittsburgh is around a six-point favorite for the game which mean Philip Rivers(notes) will probably be throwing late (Sproles could be on the field for most of the fourth-quarter snaps). Get Sproles into that flex position for Week 4. (Pianow)

Washington Defense (Pianow's rank 2; others 5, 6, 8)

While it's easy to pile on the Redskins after their embarrassing loss at Detroit (and near-loss against the Rams), let's not lose sight of the fact that the defense really isn't playing that poorly. The Skins are parceling out less than 200 passing yards per game and just one TD pass per week, and they're getting as perfect a matchup as you can this Sunday.

There's plenty of red ink on the team in pewter, let's run it down. The Bucs are starting an inexperienced QB (Josh Johnson(notes), 10 career pass attempts) that's more noted for his legs than his arm; Tampa probably won't have Derrick Ward(notes) in uniform; Antonio Bryant(notes) is far from 100 percent; and this is an offense that didn't even score last week against the Giants. Add it all up and I don't see Tampa scoring more than 10-14 points at the very most, and keep in mind points allowed is a significant part of how we grade fantasy defenses. I also love that the Redskin pass rush will probably be teeing off in the fourth quarter, playing with a lead and getting some of those fantasy goodies that decide games. Let's get in on this. (Pianow)


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