Get your head out of the stars, fantasy players

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Starting Joe Flacco (right) over Peyton Manning would be a risk for fantasy owners in Week 10, but it also could pay off because of favorable matchups. (Associated Press)

Having fantasy football analysts star-struck shouldn’t be a surprise given our current obsession with celebrity in our TMZ-driven world. But it was kind of shocking to hear fellow NFL.com gurus Michael Fabiano and Bucky Brooks trumpet some falling stars during our Fantasy Friday taping this week.

The topic was must-start players. There are the obvious — Adrian Peterson, Drew Brees and Tom Brady — and some newcomers — Vincent Jackson, Cedric Benson, Chad Ochocinco (I told you) and Ray Rice (Though you can’t blame me for not fully trusting Ravens coach John Harbaugh. Come on, that 20-carry day for Le’Ron McClain is coming!). We could agree on most.

But not all.

Fabs and Bucky believe that Rams RB Steven Jackson is a must-start. What? Jackson ranks 14th among running backs in standard formats. He clearly is a matchup starter, no matter where you drafted him. Seriously, would you rather have Benson or Jackson starting for your team?

We didn’t discuss Panthers WR Steve Smith, but I’d imagine these two star lovers would have said that he is a must-start, too.

Seriously, these two make me feel like Will Ferrell‘s character in “Zoolander.” Blue Steel? Ferrari? Le Tigra? They’re the same face! Come on, guys, think critically.

And then there is Peyton Manning. Has the time come when Manning is no longer an elite fantasy quarterback? Maybe.

Manning currently is the third-ranked quarterback on NFL.com, just ahead of Brees and Brady, but recent games have exposed some chinks in his armor. Manning has scored 29 total points over the past two weeks with only one touchdown. He throws the ball a lot, but too bad it’s not in the end zone. Colts RB Joseph Addai has as many touchdown passes in the past two weeks as Manning does.

This weekend, the Colts will play the Patriots, owners of the NFL’s fourth-ranked pass defense. Would you rather start Manning against the Patriots or Joe Flacco against the Browns? Flacco threw for 342 yards and one touchdown in his previous start against Cleveland.

Starting Flacco over Manning would take huge footballs. And I’m not saying to do it. I’m the guy who says not to over-think your roster. But Manning posted lower-than-normal numbers last year and is trending down in recent weeks. That shows me his numbers could be near mortal. And I know a lot of you guys love his commercials, and knocking Manning is discouraged in the company handbook. But it’s time to take a critical look at Manning in the coming weeks.

Adam Rank

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