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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New England 14 3rd Qtr
Seattle 14
Miami 83 FINAL
Boston 75
LA Lakers 80 FINAL
New York 92
Arizona 3 FINAL
Montreal 2
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Nashville 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 FINAL
East Carolina 50
Michigan 66 FINAL
Michigan State 76
Marist 75 FINAL
Canisius 67
Fordham 77 FINAL
Dayton 101
Manhattan 87 FINAL
Monmouth 76
Quinnipiac 100 FINAL
Niagara 105
Utah 67 FINAL
USC 39
Connecticut 68 FINAL
Houston 70
California 90 FINAL
Washington 88
North Dakota St 64 FINAL
Western Ill 62
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
(14) Texas 59 FINAL
TCU 64
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Cornell 53 FINAL
Yale 60
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
(21) Georgia 72 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 80
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
Wake Forest 63 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 92
Loyola-Chicago 56 FINAL
Illinois State 72
(24) Oklahoma 69 FINAL
West Virginia 78
St Johns 73 FINAL
Seton Hall 78
Delaware 73 FINAL
Hofstra 62
Binghamton 49 FINAL
UMass Lowell 66
Vermont 49 FINAL
Hartford 60
William & Mary 72 FINAL
Northeastern 66
Boston College 60 FINAL
(16) North Carolina 72
Virginia 77 FINAL
Clemson 72
(2) Connecticut 83 FINAL
Temple 49
Arkansas 53 FINAL
Alabama 42
Virginia Tech 71 FINAL
Georgia Tech 79
Kansas 58 FINAL
(3) Baylor 66
Canisius 51 FINAL
Rider 52
Monmouth 52 FINAL
Fairfield 54
Quinnipiac 81 FINAL
Saint Peters 50
Butler 55 FINAL
Creighton 62
Wichita State 61 FINAL
Drake 64
Evansville 52 FINAL
Indiana State 67
(18) Miss State 67 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
Villanova 47 FINAL
DePaul 49
Georgetown 73 FINAL
Marquette 80
North Texas 55 FINAL
Rice 58
Auburn 45 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 78
(11) Arizona State 58 FINAL
Utah 48
Missouri State 56 FINAL
Northern Iowa 64
Michigan 60 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 75
Minnesota 49 FINAL
Northwestern 70
Wisconsin 73 FINAL
Illinois 62
Bradley 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 76
Florida 67 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(20) Iowa 88 FINAL
(5) Maryland 93
(1) South Carolina 77 FINAL
Ole Miss 59
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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