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Updated: September 22, 2008, 1:46 PM ET

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Stew Milne/US Presswire

Ronnie Brown leaves Patriots defenders in his wake on his way to one of his four rushing touchdowns.

Ronnie Brown runs wild
Ronnie Brown is my third, fourth or fifth running back on a few teams, and I didn't play him in Week 3. I didn't even think twice about it. I knew Brown had been named the starter over Ricky Williams for Sunday's game at New England, but so what? Starting isn't a big deal. Weren't the big, bad Patriots going to overpower noodle-armed Chad Pennington and the lowly Dolphins, making the Miami run game irrelevant, which is what it had been the first two weeks? Matt Cassel was supposed to be the star. Who knew Ronnie Brown would match him and throw half the game's touchdown passes?

The point is, don't feel bad if you're in that group of just about everyone -- 84 percent of Brown's ESPN standard league owners -- who had him on their bench Sunday. I did, too. Really, in a way you had to be a bit desperate to activate him, maybe dealing with injuries or game-time decisions or those other strugglers. Brown is owned in 96 percent of leagues, but was active in only 16 percent. Rather than blame yourself for a foolish decision, call it one of those things impossible to predict.

For the record, Brown had rushed for 48 yards the first two weeks, not even in the top 50 overall, and worse than the now-benched Tarvaris Jackson. If I had to choose between Brown and Williams, yes, I would have gone with Brown, but it was a reach to start him with confidence, or expect the Dolphins to win at New England by 25 points. Of course, that's why they play the games and why nearly a quarter of all entrants in our Elimination game are now, well, eliminated!

Early on it was apparent there was much Brown could do for you, the fantasy owner. He scored three rushing touchdowns by halftime, though his yardage was hardly special. Two of the scoring runs came on direct snaps, with Williams either in motion or in the backfield with him. Then Brown's LaDainian Tomlinson impression went one step further when Brown took another direct snap, rolled left and showed off his lefty arm by finding tight end Anthony Fasano with a 19-yard touchdown pass. What, Brown couldn't find the time to catch a TD pass as well? LT, I think not. Let's not blame Chad Pennington for playing so poorly that Brown had to throw; Pennington threw only three incomplete passes all day. Alas, it is Brown who becomes the better fantasy play moving forward.

The Patriots cut the Miami lead to 28-13 late in the third quarter, and the Dolphins set out to pound the ball with their two-headed running back monster, which had been nonexistent the first two weeks. To that point Brown was obviously having a good day, but then he broke a 62-yarder for a score to open the final quarter. By topping 100 yards and scoring for a tough-to-believe fifth time, Brown's day became the best in fantasy football -- easily -- for this season. His 39 standard league points were 11 more than the No. 2 guy Sunday (Michael Turner). Turner's 34 points in Week 1 were the most for the first two weeks.

So what happens from here? Well, like colleague Matthew Berry, who wrote in his Sunday night TRUM he'd be dangling Brown in trade talks to see what he could get, I would try to trade Brown. Not that Brown isn't capable of future star performances, it's just that they don't happen often. Brown was leading the league in rushing when he tore his ACL last October, so we can at least assume he is back to full health, and that is a great sign in itself. He should remain a capable fantasy asset, a No. 2 running back most weeks I would think, but I'd rather have Turner. Nothing against Brown, but he will have good and bad moments in 2008 as he needs to overcome at times his quarterback, his recovering knee and a potential timeshare of carries. Some people might think Turner has to overcome his quarterback and Jerious Norwood, but I don't agree. Turner has more upside.

In Other News
The news that Ronnie Brown would start really wasn't up there with the big Sunday pregame talk: Whether or not fantasy owners should start Adrian Peterson, Darren McFadden and LaDainian Tomlinson. Peterson didn't have a big day, but 77 yards isn't embarrassing either. If you disregarded the advice in my noon Sunday chat and used Chester Taylor anyway, hope you enjoyed those six fantasy points. I don't think Taylor will ever be a good play unless Peterson sits out. As for the Raiders, McFadden and Michael Bush combined for nine points. We'll see how LT fares Monday night. Injuries are the great equalizer, and now Philadelphia's top dawg joins this rich club.

So, can we expect the Falcons' Michael Turner to play well only against bad defenses? In home games against the feeble Lions and Chiefs, Turner has rushed for 324 yards and scored five touchdowns. In Week 2 at Tampa Bay he provided four fantasy points. With road games at Carolina and Green Bay ahead, then the Bears and a bye, it might be awhile before Turner carries a fantasy team again, though he remains a solid No. 2 fantasy running back. We'd just like to see him thrive against a good defense. Turner was activated in 91.2 percent of leagues, so most people were paying attention.

Welcome back to relevance, Joseph Addai and Maurice Jones-Drew! With 94 rushing yards between them entering Week 3, these running backs combined for 41 fantasy points Sunday. Addai's second touchdown, with just over a minute to play, topped off a solid game with 78 rushing yards, and gives fantasy owners hope the consensus top-5 overall pick can play like it. Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor did more than that, as each of them topped 100 rushing yards. While some of this was the fault of the Colts, apparently the Jaguars' offensive line is strong again. The only other time this duo each rushed for more than 100 yards in the same game was against the Colts in 2006. If you have a running back facing the Bob Sanders-less Colts run defense coming up, expect big things. After a Week 4 bye, that includes Steve Slaton, Willis McGahee and Ryan Grant.

What I Noticed
This Week In Fantasy Football History
By Neil Tardy

1997: Few NFL teams fielded as many fantasy teases as the '97 Oakland Raiders. There was the rifle-armed Jeff George, who'd already idioted his way out of Indianapolis and Atlanta, the blazer Napoleon Kaufman and the equally blazing -- and aptly named -- James Jett. And yet, for this season, each came through for fantasy owners. And for this week, each was huge: George threw for 374 yards and three scores, Kaufman had 148 total yards and Jett had five catches for 148 yards and a pair of TDs. For the year, George threw for 29 scores and put up a league-best 3,917 passing yards, Kaufman amassed almost 1,700 total yards and Jett added 12 receiving touchdowns. But, for what it's worth -- which would be nothing to fantasy owners -- the Raiders lost to the Jets. They won four games in 1997.

While Michael Turner still has to prove he can run wild against a top defense, what does that mean for Jerious Norwood? Twice in three weeks he's fooled fantasy owners with second-half work in a blowout. How many more blowouts are coming, though? … Speaking of fooling people, Eddie Royal was started in 73 percent of ESPN leagues, and he had 11 receiving yards. It just keeps getting worse and worse since Week 1, eh? … Javon Walker caught not one, but two passes! Rejoice! There's very little upside in the Oakland passing game, however. JaMarcus Russell looked terrible. The skinny post Johnnie Lee Higgins turned into a 84-yard touchdown late accounted for more than half Russell's passing yards. … Brandon Lloyd is no star, but he's looked like the top option for Kyle Orton, reaching 124 yards receiving and scoring a TD on Sunday. Even when Devin Hester can play, the sparsely-owned Lloyd could be legit. … We know the Vikings can stop the run, but are they an underrated group against the pass? Jake Delhomme was held in check, and returning Steve Smith caught 70 yards worth of passes, but much of that came in the first quarter. Maybe fantasy owners shouldn't assume the Vikings have a sieve pass defense anymore. … Randy Moss has as many catches the past two weeks as Jabar Gaffney had Sunday. … Even without Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris hardly delivered a fantasy-worthy day, with 27 rushing yards. … Titans Chris Johnson and LenDale White split 32 carries evenly, and White took home fantasy honors with a pair of short touchdowns. People, you might not want to start White, but he's scored four times already. … As expected because it was against the Lions, Frank Gore had a monster day, with 162 total yards and a score. … Edgerrin James still isn't sniffing the end zone, but at least he closed in on 100 rushing yards. He remains a worthy flex play. … Deuce McAllister was active for the Saints, though he didn't touch the football. Pierre Thomas has actually done a nice job on the carries Reggie Bush doesn't get, especially inside the 10-yard line. … Reggie Bush had a tremendous game, catching 11 passes and netting 178 total yards. Teammate Jeremy Shockey, who had eight catches through two weeks, doubled his season total. … If you own Torry Holt you can no longer consider him a weekly play. Might the Rams be this season's Dolphins, searching for a maiden win in December? … Matt Ryan isn't someone you must own in fantasy, but he's only the third quarterback since 1970 whose first two career touchdown passes went for more than 60 yards. Let's hope he has more success than Bubby Brister and Chris Simms. … While Marion Barber ran all over the Packers Sunday night for 142 yards and a score, did anyone notice it was also the third consecutive game rookie Felix Jones found the end zone? He's not a flex play yet, but he isn't just a curiosity, either: Jones can flat-out play.


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Best and Worst …
Steve Slaton, Texans
Against a tough Titans defense that made Matt Schaub's day a bad one, rookie running back Slaton broke through with 116 rushing yards, including a 50-yarder, and a six-yard touchdown. Don't worry about Ahman Green's health prognosis, Slaton should make the veteran irrelevant soon, if he hasn't already.

Willie Parker, Steelers
He entered leading the league in carries, but got only 13 more, and after averaging 122 yards in the first two weeks, he didn't even manage to get 22 yards in Week 3. Parker is going to face tough defenses this season, and fantasy owners hope he can manage more than two fantasy points in those contests.
Player Tracker
Brian Griese, QB, Buccaneers: Well, get anyone to throw the ball 67 times and chances are they will put up some numbers. Griese did, with 407 yards. The Packers and Broncos are up next for Tampa, and Griese might throw on those defenses as well. He certainly didn't lose his job to Jeff Garcia.

Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks: Sure, the competition might not offer much resistance, but it's tough to fake 267 rushing yards and two scores in two games. Jones might not want Matt Hasselbeck to get his weapons back. Jones' 140 rushing yards stood as the Week 3 high until former teammate Marion Barber topped it in the nightcap.

Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs: Kansas City's main offensive weapon bounced back from a 22-yard effort in Week 2 with 121 yards and a touchdown. He did this despite Tyler Thigpen compiling a 23.8 passer rating, which is a nice sign. I'd still entertain trade offers, though.

Rudi Johnson, RB, Lions: While Kevin Smith received three carries early and then nothing, and no injury has been reported, Johnson exploded with 131 total yards and a receiving touchdown. And the Lions still got drubbed.

Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts: A week after catching one pass against the Vikings and getting Anthony Gonzalez owners to believe their guy had become a stud, Harrison caught a touchdown pass and twice as many Peyton Manning passes as the kid.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals: Now that's what we call a solid game. Houshmandzadeh hauled in 12 passes for 146 yards and a score, as he and Carson Palmer showed life after two bad weeks. Now if only that Ocho Cinco guy could break out.

Matt Cassel, QB, Patriots: Hey, this guy was the top projected quarterback for the week by ESPN Fantasy, so obviously there were expectations for more than 131 yards and five fantasy points. He did manage to outscore the three starting QBs for AFC North teams not named Carson Palmer. Ben Roethlisberger, Derek Anderson and Joe Flacco combined for three fantasy points.

Derek Anderson, QB, Browns: Sure, it can't be much fun to face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, but 15 total fantasy points through three weeks is no way to get fantasy owners to believe 2007 was the real thing. Luckily, the Cincy game approaches.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: Few expected a big game against the Vikings' vaunted run defense, but 27 yards isn't much. Jonathan Stewart, still advertised as the reserve, did worse, but scored his third touchdown so far.

Andre Johnson, WR, Texans: His owners shouldn't get too concerned, because the Titans appear to be a top defense, but Johnson was his own worst enemy, dropping a few touchdown passes in the first half. He ended up with only two receptions, and the Jaguars' defense comes up next. Just wait for October games with the Lions and Bengals.

Trainer's Room
A fantasy owner in every league will be hoping the MRI on Brian Westbrook's strained right ankle says he is able to play Week 4. Don't bet on it. Westbrook is a pretty indispensable player for Philly, and fantasy owners. Correll Buckhalter should be a prime pickup this week, after his 87 total yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Donovan McNabb left the game for a few plays with a chest contusion, but returned and fared well.

Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger left the loss to Philly a bit early as well, though it wasn't clear if it was due to more shoulder problems, or a hand injury or something else. The Steelers would be a different team with Byron Leftwich at the helm.

The Lions have a bye this coming week, which means Jon Kitna can rest his sore right knee that forced him from Sunday's game prematurely. While Kitna didn't do much for Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams on Sunday, he would appear a better option than Dan Orlovsky.

Early Week 4 Trends
First of all, don't forget about those annoying bye weeks, the first of the young season. The Lions, Colts, Dolphins, Patriots, Giants and Seahawks will sit Week 4 out, meaning there are "only" 12 Sunday games. Now you might need to use your game-time decision players.

Steve Smith of the Panthers starts his second game of the season, against familiar foe Atlanta. Smith actually has struggled against the seemingly lowly Falcons the past three meetings, with six catches for 71 yards, total.

Willie Parker has really struggled against the Ravens. In his past three games against them he has 46 carries for 93 yards, barely two yards per rush, and no touchdowns.

Wow, your favorite Browns really need a game with the Bengals, don't they? Who can forget their 96-point Week 2 meeting last season. The quarterbacks combined for 11 touchdown passes, but don't forget Jamal Lewis ran wild for 216 yards.

It should be an interesting test for the 49ers, who have lost to the Saints 31-10 and 34-10 the past two seasons. Frank Gore rushed for 81 total yards in those contests. In 2006 Reggie Bush had a four-touchdown affair against the 49ers. Of course, the 49ers seem better now.