Scouting Notebook: Scene Steeler

You can find more from Michael Salfino at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.

Let's open up the Week 4 Scouting Notebook.

I've always been a fan of Rashard Mendenhall(notes), not because I'm so smart but simply because the Steelers rarely whiff on a first-round pick. I trust they know more than me. A lot of experts have had fun bashing him hard and it will be interesting to see if they stick to their guns or hedge big time (bet the latter).

Steve Slaton(notes) was benched briefly after a second quarter fumble and then redeemed himself by scoring twice. Ryan Moats(notes) looked pretty good and had a bit of a LeSean McCoy(notes) buzz once as an Eagle. He's the handcuff there after Chris Brown fumbled the game away in Week 3. I'd say to sell Slaton high if I could come up with someone to sell him for other than Pierre Thomas(notes), who no one could be dumb enough to still trade.

Another big-name back who had a top-heavy day without the consistency we prefer from our backs is Matt Forte(notes) (98 yards on two carries). Trade him for Thomas, too.

Yes, we'd like to see the Saints work in more first-half action for Thomas. But 130 yards and a TD are pretty sweet against the Jets, who might have the best defense in football (two TDs allowed in the opponents' first 42 offensive possessions). Thomas went down to the 1-yard line on a 40-yard screen, too, a play he runs as well as anyone in the league, but was too gassed to close the deal.

Darren McFadden(notes) is droppable now. Against Houston, who made all backs look like Jim Brown the first three weeks (6.2 yards per rush), McFadden had two yards on seven touches – 10.2 inches per touch for those who measure fantasy production with rulers.

We're back to Peyton Manning(notes) as the best fantasy QB in addition to him being the best reality QB, which is neatly symmetrical. Take out Week 17 last year, when Manning sat after the first quarter in a meaningless game, and he now has seven consecutive 300-plus yard passing games (including the playoff loss at San Diego).

The Titans offense should keep Chris Johnson owners up at night.

The Jaguars get 30 points and Maurice-Jones Drew ends up with nine touches and one TD. He's not the closer, we've learned – Greg Jones(notes) will probably get carries when they have a big lead, which won't be often if you are a glass-half-full kind of guy.

As colleague Scott Pianowski of Yahoo! says , only Peterson owners should be sleeping soundly. Everyone else with first-round stakes in running backs has reason to toss and turn.

Randy Moss(notes) is taking plays off again but finally scored on his 29th reception – not the kind of ratio we wanted. He's slowing down at age 32 but should still be good for 1,300 yards and 12 TDs.

Matt Schaub(notes) threw the ball poorly for most of the Raiders game.

Santana Moss(notes) is someone few readers ever want to play. But 90 percent of starting fantasy receivers do little or nothing one game out of three. He's a solid third wideout in all formats, even with Jason Campbell(notes) still a mystery – 5-for-12 with two picks and three sacks in the first half of a home game against a terrible Bucs pass defense. Campbell just can't put the ball in the end zone.

The circus has left town for Clinton Portis(notes) (25 carries, 98 yards, 0 TDs – about as good as it will get from here on out).

Go ahead and start Jerome Harrison(notes) (152 total yards) or Mohamed Massaquoi(notes) (8 catches, 148 yards). I dare you. There are a lot of fantasy wastelands out there now – Cleveland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Oakland. It's "The Grapes of Wrath" all the time in these fantasy dust bowls.

Steven Jackson owners were hoping Kyle Boller(notes) would be some sort of salve, a sure sign of abject desperation.

I said this summer that the Giants' Steve Smith was like Reggie Wayne(notes) and would be as good as his QB. I stand by that, but it looks like I sold his QB (Eli Manning(notes)) short. Start Smith every week in every format until further notice.

Mark Sanchez(notes) crashed back to earth, predictable in a tough road spot against a much-improved Saints defense now operating a blitz-heavy system. All rookies have hiccups. Hold your Jets.

Teams have to start using this Wildcat stuff on third and short rather than trying a timing route or stuffing a back into a 20-man pile.

Tony Romo(notes) was terrible most of the day and then makes an unbelievable play to put Dallas on the doorstep of salvaging the game. Then he doesn't come close to closing the deal. Hold Romo though.

Brandon Marshall(notes) is a heck of a talent. He showed his freak-like ability on that amazing catch and run to give the Broncos the win in the final minutes. I have zero faith in Kyle Orton(notes) and the Broncos passing game, however. So Marshall can't be your best fantasy receiver.

Knowshon Moreno(notes) needs an injury to shake the more productive Correll Buckhalter(notes) (ankle). After a fumble to start the second half, it looked like Moreno's day was over and then Buckhalter limped off for good.

I'd still speculate on Ray Rice(notes) and hope for a poor-man's Chris Johnson to 2009's version LenDale White(notes), Willis McGahee(notes), who does little most days between the 20s.

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