Adam Levitan

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Golden Graham

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Give me talent. Everything else will fall into place.

When the Saints drafted Jimmy Graham in the third round of the 2010 draft, he was known as an enforcer on the University of Miami’s basketball team. He didn’t play any pigskin in high school and only played football as a senior at Miami. No matter.

Graham is 6’6/250 with a unique ability to cut at full speed. He has monster hands and a toughness that can’t be taught. Yeah, so he needed to learn how to block and how to run routes in the NFL. Big deal. The Saints invested in Graham’s ceiling and it’s paying off in a big way. He racked up two more touchdowns Monday night, bounced back from a vicious, illegal hit from Kenny Phillips and iced the game by recovering an onside kick. Another day at the office.

Fantasy owners can learn something from this strategy. We go after raw, undervalued talent that has the potential to explode. Things tend to turn out golden.

Mario Manningham (knee) was inactive. Ramses Barden functioned as the No. 3 receiver. … Brandon Jacobs was impressive on his touchdown run, but otherwise showed no burst. … The Saints have four running backs that would approach RB1 status if given the backfield to themselves. But as it stands, Chris Ivory is inactive weekly and the other three share the load down the middle. … Drew Brees became the first player to throw for at least four touchdowns, at least 350 yards and run for a touchdown on Monday Night Football. Amazing performance. … Victor Cruz continues to impress. He’s the anti-DeSean Jackson with his willingness to go over the middle. Even when Manningham is healthy, Cruz is a must-start. … Eli Manning is averaging 305.2 passing yards per game. Think about that for a minute. … Hakeem Nicks took some huge hits and kept ticking. Good sign.

Editor’s Note: For early rankings, projections, the Running Back report, the top-200 going forward list and much more, check out the Season Pass!

We know Mike Shanahan is about as trustworthy as Drew Rosenhaus when it comes to proclamations. But after Roy Helu busted loose yet again on Sunday, Shanahan would have to be certifiably insane not to hand the rookie the every-down job for the rest of the season. And on Monday, Shanny said he would do just that.  

“He’s our starter, for sure,” said Shanahan. “You could see some elusiveness, power, some speed. That's what you look for in a running back."

Helu had 30 touches on Sunday while Evan Royster had one and Ryan Torain saw none. While we can’t expect that kind of weekly workload, Helu’s ability in the passing game will keep him in the RB2 range every week.

Sidney Rice (concussion) missed Monday’s walkthrough. Note that the Seahawks play on Thursday. … Jeremy Maclin (shoulder, hamstring) and Michael Vick (ribs) didn’t practice Monday either. Look for Riley Cooper and Vince Young again. … Danario Alexander (hamstring) is expected back in Week 13 and will battle Brandon Gibson for snaps. … Malcom Floyd (hip) appears close to a return. … Miles Austin (hamstring) worked off to the side Monday. Laurent Robinson will likely make one more start. … Eddie Royal was spotted with a limp Sunday after playing sparingly in the second half.
Adrian Peterson (ankle) is very questionable for Week 13. … Darren McFadden (foot) practiced lightly Monday for the first time since his injury. It’s a small step in the right direction. … Beanie Wells came out of Sunday’s eruption with some swelling, but should be fine for Week 13.

The Chiefs say Tyler Palko is their starter, but we’re still expecting Kyle Orton to get the nod. … The Jaguars are sticking with struggling rookie Blaine Gabbert for now. … T.J. Yates is locked in as the Texans’ starter. Matt Leinart’s season is over. … Frank Gore played on 41-of-54 snaps last Thursday. His nagging injuries aren’t a real concern.

Editor’s Note: Sick of your team? Get a new one and win real cash with SnapDraft!

Adding a different defense/special teams each week based on matchups is a fine strategy. Here are units that might be on waivers to consider this week for streaming purposes:

1. PATRIOTS vs. Colts - This used to be Brady vs. Peyton in an epic showdown. Now Vegas has the Patriots favored by 21 points.  Over the last five weeks, Curtis Painter has nine turnovers against one touchdown.

2. BRONCOS at Vikings - Denver has given up 13 points or fewer in three straight games. And if Adrian Peterson (ankle) sits again, plodding Toby Gerhart has no prayer of sustained a running game.  

3. COWBOYS at Cardinals - Dallas is on a long week and getting right corner Mike Jenkins (hamstring) back. Even if Kevin Kolb (foot) gets healthy and is ready to play in this one, he figures to be rusty after missing three straight games.

Gregg Rosenthal takes a look at three key players heading into Week 13 and beyond.

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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