Posted: Friday September 21, 2012 3:39PM ; Updated: Friday September 21, 2012 3:39PM
Eric Mack
Eric Mack>INSIDE FANTASY FOOTBALL

Scouting Report: Ten players to put on notice in fantasy this season

Story Highlights

Chris Johnson faces tough defenses in seven of remaining 13 weeks of season

Jamaal Charles may rebound against Saints team struggling to stop the run

Cam Newton has regressed in 2012 with two TD passes against five interceptions

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Chris Johnson
Titans star Chris Johnson has gained 21 yards in two games this season, crushing the hopes of many fantasy owners.
Harry How/Getty Images

Ah, fantasy football:

I hate the way you disappoint me,
and, Chris Johnson, the way you do, too.
I hate when I lose because of you,
Cam Newton, and the way you threw.
Fantasy football two thousand, one-two,
here are the 10 things I hate about you:

1. CJNoK, lead scapegoat of our Week 3 Scouting Report

The Titans are a mess, possibly because they are breaking in a young quarterback or because they just faced two buzz saws in Week 1 and 2. The point is the excuses are getting old for Johnson for a second-consecutive year.

Last year it was a holdout. Then his offensive line. Now he's making excuses for himself by blaming everyone but himself:

"Even when I went for 2,000, I didn't think I was perfect, but I wouldn't sit here and say I'm to blame," Johnson said Thursday. "I'm only going to be as good as my line is going to be. We've got to work together and get better.

"I'm the highest-paid guy on this team, so, of course, I get the criticism," Johnson said. "But it's something I don't let get me down."

But Johnson has us down, and if he doesn't find room against what is a potentially solid Lions run defense, this could be another long season. The Texans (twice), Steelers, Bears, Dolphins, Jets, Packers and a bye are on the schedule. That's eight of the final 13 weeks with very little out of your first-round pick.

"It's a team effort when things are not going well," coach Mike Munchak said. "If it was one thing, we'd make an adjustment to that one thing. We're just going to have to plow ahead this weekend, and hopefully we'll get a lot more opportunities than eight to hand the ball off."

What is this writer's thought? Well, it looks as if Johnson just doesn't know how to make one cut and go. Instead, it's step, nothing; step again, nothing; step thrice, get blown up. He should plant his cut foot in the ground once and shoot the little gaps that are there. Instead, he's dancing in place and is a non-moving target.

The hits have to be taking away his explosiveness, too.

"Has it affected his body? Sure," Munchak said. "But I don't think that's an excuse as to why we're not running the ball well."

In the end, we're sick of the excuses. CJNoK, we tired of you.

2. Charles, Fantasy Enemy No. 2, most definitely not in charge

Declining talent is one thing. Lack of touches is something else. We still need to find out which is the case with the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles, who is struggling coming off knee surgery.

He ripped off a 46-yard run in Week 1 against the Falcons, looking somewhat like the back who came into the season with the highest per-carry rushing average (6.1) in NFL history (over Hall of Famer Jim Brown's 5.2) among ball-carriers with as many attempts. Then, against the Bills, he rushed just six times for three yards.

"I'm not 100 percent, but when I played a couple of years ago, I wasn't 100 percent," Charles told the Kansas City Star. "Any player feels the same way I feel now: sore. I'm sore every week. "I don't want to worry about my knee too much. I just want to go out there and play football."

The Chiefs need to let him and put him in something less than a timeshare with Peyton Hillis.

"As last week's game] developed, the other players were doing decent, so we didn't feel a need to put him back in at that moment," coach Romeo Crennel told the Star about last week's limitations on Charles.

"... Will it be like it was before the reconstruction? I don't know that will be the case."

Charles says he isn't quite that incapable of carrying the load.

"I got banged up, but I went back in the game," he told the paper. "It was basically like a sting, and I felt it. I went on the (exercise) bike and I got my feeling back, so I went back in the game. It wasn't a big deal."

The Saints have given up almost 300 yards and a league-worst five touchdowns to running backs through two games, which ranks third-worst in fantasy.

"I feel real good," Charles told the paper after being a full participant in practice this week. "It was a disappointing game, but I feel I'm getting better and better every week, so hopefully I'll be able to turn it on this week."

We say, mixing metaphors and quoting Major League: "Jobu, I was good to you. If no help me now, I say 'Blank you' Jobu, I do it myself."

3. Run D-Mc, walk this way, and step into my office ...

Darren McFadden, you're fired. How in the world can you lay an egg against the Dolphins? And do that a week before you have to face that Steelers run defense?

Yay, you're healthy for once! Then: Aw gawd, we wish you were hurt and not goose-egging our lineup.

The excuse thus far this year for McFadden is not, if only he was healthy. It is: Well, he's too fast for a zone-blocking scheme, outrunning his blocks; He needs to be patient.

"Let's keep things in perspective for a second here," offensive coordinator Greg Knapp told SFGate.com. "We've played two games in the regular season on offense. We've had two different centers and a right tackle who played half a game last week. We need some patience.

"You can't develop a scheme in two weeks in a regular season, especially when last week we faced the No. 3-ranked rush defense from 2011. ... The scheme will be fine. It just takes some time."

OK, now go get 'em against that shabby Steelers front.

"Going with the zone scheme is one of those situations where you're going to have to keep hitting it until you get going," McFadden told the web site. "It's going to be one yard here or two yards there, but eventually it's going to start popping."

One or two yards? That is about right against the Steelers for a back.

"McFadden, I don't care what offense you put him in, he's going to be fine," Knapp said. "He's a good running back in all schemes. We'll be fine."

He better be fine, because we can't sit this bum right now.

4. Larry Fitz, and the name fits, as in on the fritz

Fantasy football is a game of fits and starts. With Fitzgerald, we need the starts because we've already had enough of the fits.

After his one-catch outing in New England, Fitz returns to the desert, where quarterback Kevin Kolb has deserted him. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Fitzgerald's poor performance was related to the Pats taking him away with double coverage.

Double coverage is not something in the Eagles' vocabulary, not when you have corners like Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque-Rodgers Cromartie. Giving help to those elite corners is a waste, because that's how they benefit a defense. You can single them up on anyone and save the added defender for stopping something else.

The Cardinals have nothing else reliable on offense. Kolb has to do a better job of getting the ball to the Cardinals' playmaker. Fitzgerald is good enough to beat single coverage whenever he gets it, against whomever gives it to him.

Fitz, we 're frustrated with you, but we won't desert you like Kolb.

 
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