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Real or Fantasy?

If LaDainian Tomlinson is truly over his toe injury, then the team will go back to "LT" and Philip Rivers' numbers will return to mediocrity.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - We are one quarter of the way through the season and it's not too soon to try an determine if a player has really raised his game to a higher level or if it's just a temporary deviation from the norm. Conversely, whether a player's level has fallen or he has just faced a tough schedule and will return to his expected level of performance.

The answers will help us figure out if we are to stick with the player or begin making trade offers.

Jay Cutler, QB, Denver - Cutler is ranked second at the position behind only Drew Brees. He has the best receiver in football in Brandon Marshall and has solid performers at both the second receiver position (Eddie Royal) and tight end (Tony Scheffler). It appears that Coach Mike Shanahan has shifted the team's emphasis to the passing game and Cutler should continue to play at this higher level.

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego - Rivers had his first "bad" game last week throwing for just 180 yards and one touchdown while being intercepted twice. It's not a coincidence that it happened on the same day that LaDainian Tomlinson had his first 100-yard rushing day. If Tomlinson is truly over his toe injury, then the team will go back to "LT" and Rivers' numbers will return to mediocrity. His nine TD passes in the first three weeks was an aberration and now would be a good time to trade him while his value is high.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seattle - His receivers have been dropping like flies and it took its toll on Hasselbeck's passing numbers. He has yet to throw for 200 yards on more than one touchdown. Things can only get better for him as both Bobby Engram and Deion Branch are expected to return soon. I think he can only get better and with his trade value so low at this point, you have to hold on to him a few weeks longer.

Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati - Now is not the time to trade Palmer. First off, you will get nothing in return. Secondly, he has faced three of the toughest defenses in the league in Baltimore, Tennessee and the New York Giants. When he comes back from his injury, his numbers will return to normal.

Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta - Turner and Michael Bush lead the running back position in scoring, but the Atlanta running back's stats are deceiving. He has had two big games and two bad games. His schedule also has him up against three tough defenses in Green Bay, Chicago and Philadelphia in the next four weeks. Trade him now while you can get the most for him.

Steve Slaton, RB, Houston - Slaton has become the running game in Houston, not unexpected for a team that began the season with Ahman Green as the starter. His 14+ ppg average has him in the neighborhood of Clinton Portis and Chris Johnson and there is no reason for him not to continue at this level. With Indianapolis, Miami, Detroit and Cincinnati his next opponents, he is a must start.

Joseph Addai, RB, Indianapolis - Addai has averaged just 11 ppg in fantasy, but he has played against the Bears, Vikings and Jaguars. Things will be much better this week against the Texans. I'm expecting his first 100-yard day of the season on Sunday and at least six more 100-yard games over the rest of the schedule.

Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay - I was not sold on Jennings for the 2008 season, but he has made me a believer. He has supplanted Donald Driver as the first option in Green Bay and with the running game not working, he will get plenty of opportunities. He is averaging more than 20 ppg and unless Aaron Rodgers shoulder is serious, Jennings should continue to perform at this level.

DeSean Jackson, WR. Philadelphia - Jackson has become the Eagles deep threat and even with the return of Reggie Brown and the expected return of Kevin Curtis, Jackson will continue to fill that role. He is also a good punt returner (last week's fumble not withstanding) and in return leagues he is a must start guy.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City - Bowe has gotten his points each week despite the Chief's problems at quarterback. But the opponents were New England, Oakland, Atlanta and a porous Broncos defense. In the next three weeks he will face Carolina and Tennessee, a much tougher prospect. His value is high and a trade this week is suggested.

Miles Austin, WR, Dallas - Austin has scored 38 fantasy points over the last two weeks and with injuries has become the team's No.3 wide receiver. Dallas next plays Cincinnati, Arizona and St. Louis so he might be able to find some open spaces in the secondary. He's not a No.1 or No.2 receiver, but he might be worth picking up during all these bye weeks.

Zach Miller, TE, Oakland - Miller has become JaMarcus Russell's favorite target by default - the team has no wide receiver threat. After this week's bye, the Raiders play New Orleans, New York Jets, Baltimore and Atlanta and Miller should have three good games in that stretch.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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