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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eli playing like fantasy superstar

Michael Salfino Syndicated columnist

The Mannings dominated NFL Week 4, as Peyton finally had his owners smiling and Eli caused others to wonder whether he inherited the fantasy superstar gene.

Eli has the profile right now of a top-five fantasy QB. He’s fifth in the NFL in yards per passing attempt (remember, there’s a very high correlation between YPA and TD passes). He’s second in points per passing attempt. And look for the Giants to throw on an even higher percentage of plays than currently (54 percent compared to the league average of 55) courtesy of their shootout-friendly pass defense.

Eli has a bye this week, which makes all players slightly cheaper. Otherwise, wait for his next bad game, which will likely be Week 8 against Washington (which is fourth stingiest in allowing TD passes).

We now have a better idea of which defenses present the best and worst fantasy matchups.

You want your QBs and WRs to line up against the Titans, Packers, Niners, Patriots, Rams, Cowboys, Browns, Texans and Saints. All these defenses allow over 7.4 YPA (median is 6.8) and the most points per passing attempt (PPA).

The teams that allow the least PPA while holding QBs to a measly YPA of 6.6 or less are the Colts, Bengals, Bucs, Redskins, Bills, Jets, Lions, Panthers and Ravens. The oddest pass defense stat: the Steelers allow 8.06 YPA but have the sixth stingiest defense in allowing TD passes. Bottom line: don’t be afraid to start Drew Brees when Pittsburgh travels to San Diego this week.

As for run defenses, the Vikings allow a league-worst 5.4 yards per carry. The Cardinals have allowed a league-high seven rushing TDs. The Buffalo Bills, now minus Takeo Spikes, are an easy mark, allowing 4.9 yards per carry and five rushing TDs. Avoid the Dolphins (allowing a league-low 2.9 yards per carry) and Colts (the only team that hasn’t allowed a rushing TD after four games).

Donovan McNabb is only fifth in points per passing attempt, but the Eagles throw a ridiculous 70 percent of the time. The Rams are the next most pass-happy team at 68 percent. Arizona throws 66 percent of plays (but are 29th in points per attempt).

Buy

David Givens (WR, Patriots): He’s in the top 10 among receivers in targets (times thrown to) and has yet to score. TDs follow targets and New England will have to throw a lot with that decimated pass defense.

Bobby Engram (WR, Seahawks): Tied for 11th in targets and also has yet to score. He’s catching 79 percent of the passes thrown his way and is more valuable in leagues that emphasize catches and yards.

Mewelde Moore (RB, Vikings): Moore ran OK, but showed the receiving production that made him valuable last year in point-per-catch leagues. He’s not likely to score enough TDs in other scoring formats.

Tony Gonzales (TE, Chiefs): Perhaps the most disappointing player in fantasy football. His owners are cursing him in their sleep. Buy low but buy now.

Hold

Plaxico Burress (WR, Giants): Second in the league to Terrell Owens in targets. Burress may have had a career game Sunday (more than 200 receiving yards), but the chemistry with Manning is undeniable.

Sell

Josh McCown (QB, Cardinals): The Niners defense are the stuff of which fantasy dreams are made. Make McCown show something against the Panthers next week before starting him.

Steven Jackson (RB, Rams): His really bad Week 4 (10 carries, 17 yards) was masked by two cheap TDs. Jackson’s upside is limited with the Rams passing more than two-thirds of the time.

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