Fantasy Football

News and notes from the AFC

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Joel Beall

Joel Beall is a writer for FOXSports.com and WhatIfSports.com. He lives with a Golden Tee machine and a jump shot that’s currently broken. Reach Joel on Twitter @FOXSportsBeall.

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I’m not familiar with the precise language of torture protocol from the Geneva Convention, but pretty sure Monday night’s Raiders-Cowboys game falls under the category of cruel and unusual punishment. Forget waterboarding or deafening rock music, throw in a tape of Terrelle Pryor trying to complete a five-yard pass and miscreants will be divulging secrets in no time.

With the first week of preseason in our rearview mirror, let’s check the landscape across the AFC:

AFC East

- Perhaps New England’s line problems are more serious than imagined. With tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon struggling mightily against the Saints last Thursday, the team is showing interest in 36-year-old Chad Clifton. Stevan Ridley has been making noise in camp, but unless the Pats fix the holes up front, Ridley’s fantasy worth remains in flux. There is hope on the horizon, however, as Pro Bowler Logan Mankins made his first appearance on Sunday since surgery in March.

- Offseason acquisitions Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, coupled with a young, talented core, have conferred the Buffalo defense some sleeper love in the fantasy forum. Yet owners may want to pump the breaks on that expectation, as an inexperienced secondary could leave the unit vulnerable. On the other side of the ball, Fred Jackson makes his pitch to bring back the recently-cut Lee Evans.

- Not sure if you’re aware of this development, but the Jets obtained Tim Tebow last March. And you’ll never believe this, but Gang Green plans on utilizing the Wildcat with their new backfield asset. Meanwhile, will New York’s lack of WR depth pave the way for Antonio Cromartie sightings on offense? As bizarre as it sounds, Cromartie might be the only viable option able to take heat off of Santonio Holmes.

- Miami’s, ahem, “battle” for quarterback became slightly cloudier with David Garrard’s injury. Worse, the Dolphins clubhouse wasn’t receptive to Chad Johnson’s release over the weekend. With a possibly mutiny on our hands, combined with the questions at QB, I’m not crazy on the prospects of any South Beach player at the moment.

AFC North

- Fear not, fantasy owners. Big Ben thinks Mike Wallace, currently the No. 8 receiver according to the FOXSports.com fantasy football rankings, will report to camp soon. In other offensive matters, the Steelers backfield is more banged up than the Bluesmobile.

- Turns out those reports of Torrey Smith missing the rest of the preseason were premature, as the wideout returned to practice after missing just one day of practice with an ankle tweak. Speaking of Smith, a solid article on the second-year man’s potential for 2012.

- Travelle Wharton, who was envisioned as an imperative part to the Cincinnati rushing attack, is out for the season. Also dealing with health issues is defensive leader Carlos Dunlap.

- Josh Gordon is the rookie wideout collecting the most hype in Cleveland, but it’s a fellow neophyte (and fellow Josh) who’s making noise at the position. Sticking with our “Josh” theme, Josh Cribbs may want to prove his merit as a receiver, but his time on offense may be nearing an end.

AFC South

- Perhaps the Colts are a little too excited after Andrew Luck’s debut, as this article makes the Stanford product out to be Joe Montana, Tom Brady and Tecmo Super Bowl Randall Cunningham all rolled into one. Of course, you’d be elated too if you no longer had to watch Curtis Painter under center.

- Though his health remains a precarious subject, it’s encouraging to see Andre Johnson suiting up for this week’s game. Also, Ben Tate might not be the only one snatching carries away from Arian Foster.

- Mentioned above, the release of WR Evans elevates first-round pick Justin Blackmon to the first team. According to the FOXSports.com average draft position tool, Blackmon’s going in the 11th-12th rounds in early drafts. Pretty good value for a primary target, no? And after a forgettable rookie campaign, Blaine Gabbert is beginning to show signs of life.

- With a solid showing in the team’s first preseason encounter, Jake Locker will earn the start this week against Tampa Bay. Though Matt Hasselbeck is still competing to be the starting signal caller, this race is Locker’s to lose.

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AFC West

- Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are the two anticipated beneficiaries of Peyton Manning’s arrival in the Mile-High City, but tight end Jacob Tamme may be Manning’s main bull’s eye.

-Jamaal Charles is holding up just fine after his return from an ACL tear last season. Matt Cassel, who has plummeted to the 16th round in FOXSports.com drafts and thus possesses major sleeper potential, is getting more freedom to audible at the line compared to years past.

- Until Ryan Mathews returns, expect the Chargers to employ a committee approach.

- Though his performance from last night would dictate otherwise, Carson Palmer is making strides in Oakland’s new offensive scheme.

Tagged: Bills, Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Packers, Titans, Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Jaguars, Ravens, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Chad Johnson, Chad Clifton, Matt Hasselbeck, David Garrard, Carson Palmer, Andre Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger, Lee Evans, Matt Cassel, Antonio Cromartie, Fred Jackson, Jamaal Charles, Mike Wallace, Ryan Mathews, Ben Tate, Tim Tebow, Jake Locker, Torrey Smith, Justin Blackmon, Andrew Luck, Asa Jackson, Josh Cooper, Josh Gordon

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