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Original Issue

First Impression

On a week when backups moved to the forefront, one rookie proved that imitation is a form of success

Understudies shone during Week 2, lighting up fantasy scoreboards while injured starters watched. Falcons fullback Jason Snelling and Chargers fullback Mike Tolbert were especially effective filling in for Michael Turner and Ryan Mathews, respectively, and both subs will be sought-after free agents this week. But the injuries that put those backups in the spotlight appear to be minor, so they will once again find themselves waiting for a chance to contribute. Here's who else rose and fell last week.

• Jahvid Best, RB,Lions This rookie is a quick study. One week after watching Matt Forte torch his team for 201 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns, Best put on a similar display, going for 232 total yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles. He's scored five TDs, and although he's run for only 98 yards in two games, his receiving skills make him a must-start the next two weeks, even though he's facing teams, Minnesota and Green Bay, that are usually tough on running backs.

• Kevin Walter, WR,Texans The emergence of deep threat Jacoby Jones was supposed to diminish Walter's value, but if anything, the eight-year veteran has been more attractive to fantasy owners. He's scored twice while nearly matching the game's best receiver, teammate Andre Johnson, in yardage (191 yards for Johnson; 173 for Walter). Houston's offense is the league's most prolific, and it shows no sign of slowing down, making Walter a must-have if he's available.

• Aaron Hernandez, TE,Patriots A preseason knee injury rendered him a mystery, and that, combined with the success of the Patriots' other rookie tight end, Rob Gronkowski, scared off most fantasy owners. As a result, in many leagues the former Florida Gator sits ripe on the free-agent vine. After Sunday, his 20.9 yards per catch were fourth among all receivers with four or more receptions. Before long he'll be a weekly fantasy starter, so pluck him while you can.

• Shonn Greene, RB,Jets Greene led all players in rushing yards during the 2009 postseason, which established him as a future starter and convinced the team to release Thomas Jones. New York then signed future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson to mentor Greene. The rejuvenated Tomlinson, however, has outgained Greene by 93 yards and looks like the Jets' lead back going forward. Don't cut Greene, but use him as a backup for now.

• Joe Flacco, QB,Ravens Flacco was supposed to have a breakout year, but he has been a disappointment, throwing just one touchdown pass and five interceptions despite the addition of veteran receivers Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The Jets' and Bengals' defenses are part of the reason for the slow start, but the schedule doesn't get easier with the Browns, Steelers, Broncos, Dolphins and Falcons—all strong against the pass—among Baltimore's next seven opponents.

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He Has Takeoff

Normally you'd never insert any receiver into your lineup to go against Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, but with the All-Pro hobbled by a tight hamstring that he further aggravated against New England on Sunday, he won't be as effective as he normally might be. That's a great reason to start Miami's Brandon Marshall (below), and there's another one too. If Revis sits out, Marshall will instead be shadowed by Antonio Cromartie, the former Charger who was in coverage against Marshall when the onetime Bronco hauled in several of his then AFC-record 18 receptions in a 2008 game. The Jets have held Miami to two rushing touchdowns in their last five meetings, so look for Chad Henne to try to open up the running game by finding Marshall early and often.



PLAYBACK After watching an opponent put on a running and catching display last week, Best did the same against the Eagles.