Fantasy football: The stars are realigning

Fantasy football advice from Chris Carr and Michael Rand that falls somewhere between fantasy and reality.

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Darth Vader is not Luke McCown's father.

Several scenes go by in "The Empire Strikes Back" before a steamin' mad Darth Vader, on the verge of offing one of his incompetent lieutenants, finally makes his first appearance in the film. It was at that moment, when the baddest bad boy in movie history was first projected from the big screen in that 1980 sequel, when my cousin Mikey wet his pants. Right there in his theater seat. That helmet, the all-black, the voice -- it was all too much for poor Mikey and Mikey's 4-year-old bladder. I can't hear the phrase "first impressions" and not think of Mikey and his soaking wet cords and his mad-as-Vader father. First impressions 31 years later have Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster owners and LeSean McCoy and Cam Newton owners all about ready to wet themselves, for much different reasons. First impressions should only go so far, but what say you, RandBall: Ready to make some premature and somewhat irresponsible decisions based on 120 minutes of football?

Michael Rand: You know it. Just cut down on the "Star Wars" references. Tuesday was "Star Wars Night" at the Twins game -- and also their 10th consecutive loss.

Chris Carr: What is this "Twins game" thing you speak of? Sounds vaguely familiar, like something that used to be important. Can you explain it to me later?

QUARTERBACKS

Carr: Let's give it up for Peyton Manning's bulging disk. Manning's neck picked the perfect season to act up. Any other year and Manning owners would be left for dead. This year, they can just close their eyes and point to any QB outside of the (612) and they'll get someone who can throw for 400-plus and two. Future Hall of Famers Cam Newton and Ryan Fitzpatrick (kidding, settle down) need to be in lineups. Seriously, why wait? If you're scared of inexperience but need help, check out what Jason Campbell is doing in Oakland. Not flashy, but there will be nice numbers there all season.

Rand: I'm buying Fitzpatrick right now. That might seem crazy, but I liked how he finished last season, and it's carried over -- and then some -- with his seven TD passes (tied for the lead). The Bills won't go undefeated, but their schedule holds up well for Fitzpatrick to keep humming along. The key stat for Matthew Stafford so far: zero. As in, zero sacks in two games. His fragility is still a question, and if he's your No. 2 right now, I wouldn't make him a No. 1 yet. And I will never own Philip Rivers on a fantasy team. But that's just personal preference.

RUNNING BACKS

Rand: Ben Tate is an extremely valuable player to have on your roster, considering Arian Foster's hamstring figures to be a problem for many more weeks -- if not the entire season. That's just how hammies are. I am worried -- not panicked, but worried -- if Chris Johnson is my star running back. Rolling doubles is good in Monopoly; his numbers (33 carries for 77 yards) are not good at all. Darren McFadden is legitimate. He might finish as a top-three back.

Carr: The Jamaal Charles fallout in KC is simple. Want touchdowns? Thomas Jones. Want yards and reception bonuses? Dexter McCluster. My beagle weighs more than McCluster, so he won't be plowing into the goal line any time soon. But my beagle is faster than Jones, so expect a lot of 12-for-33-and-a-TD games. Digging deeper, three rookies showed some spark last week: Daniel Thomas (Miami), Delone Carter (Indy) and Roy Helu (Washington). Thomas and Carter have the best shot at regular playing time, especially Carter if the Colts are already thinking about the future. I'd also try to trade for Ryan Mathews before he becomes a lock at RB1. And Felix Jones will get hurt, so grab DeMarco Murray now.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Rand: Carolina's Steve Smith hasn't had this much fun since he rowed his way through the end zone to taunt the Love Boat Vikings in 2005. Will he keep it up? We'd say no, but young QBs like Newton tend to find favorite targets. Immediately get rid of all your Colts receivers. Like yesterday. That team is done.

Carr: You don't want Kenny Britt to baby-sit your kids, but you do want him in your lineup. He has all the star WR boxes checked: running game to keep D balanced; third-year WR; new fave target of veteran QB; behavior problems. Trade for him now and get those 12 TDs. I'm buying two Bengals: Jerome Simpson and A.J. Green. Two big names to ignore: Jesse Holley (Dallas) and Denarius Moore (Oakland).

TIGHT ENDS

Carr: After a snoozer of a season in 2010 for TEs, they're racking up the points in the new pass-happy NFL. If Scott Chandler is already scooped up in your league, grab Evan Moore (Cleveland) or Jermaine Gresham (Cincinnati). Then when one of those guys completes your roster and you win your Fantasy Bowl, send us a thank-you card. Stuffed with money.

Rand: My kingdom for a Patriots TE. Brady is in love with both of his big targets, and both are a threat to score multiple times a game. Aaron Hernandez will miss a few games but might have the bigger upside over Rob Gronkowski. Jason Witten of the Cowboys has been targeted with 23 passes -- five more than any other tight end in the league.

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Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 2 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 11
Milwaukee - WP: Y. Gallardo 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: D. Price 0
Arizona - WP: W. Miley 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 4
Washington - WP: T. Roark 4 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 3
Oakland 1 Bottom 8th Inning
Houston 8
Pittsburgh 1 Top 3rd Inning
San Francisco 3
LA Angels - G. Richards 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Seattle - F. Hernandez 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Kluber
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:08 PM
Detroit - M. Scherzer
Toronto - M. Buehrle 6:10 PM
Boston - B. Workman
Colorado - B. Anderson 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda 7:05 PM
Texas - C. Lewis
Minnesota - P. Hughes 7:10 PM
Kansas City - D. Duffy
Atlanta - A. Wood 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
St. Louis - J. Kelly 9:10 PM
San Diego - J. Hahn
NY Giants 8/3/14 7:00 PM
Buffalo
Toronto FC 6:00 PM
D.C.
Colorado 6:30 PM
New England
Vancouver FC 7:30 PM
Chicago
Red Bull New York 8:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/7/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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