Fantasy football: Curtis Brinkley a better handcuff option

Uncharged: Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports Chargers running back Ryan Mathews is “expected to miss the start of the season.” For fantasy owners who were paying attention a few weeks ago, Dr. Neil Ghodadra told fantasy expert Jason Smith on NFL Fantasy LIVE that “it takes six weeks for the bone to heal even after you fix it with the clavicle plate and screws.” Though owners should be prepared to handcuff Mathews, the question becomes which back is really the best selection? Ronnie Brown is expected to take over lead-back duties, but it’s Curtis Brinkley who has led the team this preseason with an average of 3.1 yards per carry. Brown hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing day since 2009, and though Brinkley isn’t as battle-tested, he is the more explosive back of the two. Brown is entering his eighth season at the age of 30 and it is unlikely he will be the workhorse Norv Turneris hoping for during Mathews absence. It will probably be a committee situation until he returns, but the younger Brinkley holds more upside given his ability to produce in a limited capacity. Fantasy owners should still consider Brown the handcuff, but don’t be surprised if Brinkley winds up with more total fantasy points.

Will Curtis Brinkley score more fantasy points than Ronnie Brown in 2012? (Greg Trott/Associated Press)

Nicks up: New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks finally saw live action during the preseason game against the New England Patriots. Though Nicks only caught one pass for six yards, the main thing was he was back on the field and should be ready for Week 1 of the regular season. The North Carolina product has seen his ADP rise to 33.46 in fantasy football drafts, slating him as a borderline No. 1 or 2 wideout. Although seeing him on the field bolstered fantasy owners’ confidence, Nicks faces the tenth-toughest strength of schedule among all wideouts in 2012. He is currently being selected ahead of players such as teammate Victor Cruz, Brandon Marshall and Jordy Nelson, so owners will have to weigh if he has enough upside to warrant selecting him before those names.

Best foot forward: Although New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and coach Rex Ryan believe their inability to score a touchdown during the preseason is not a problem, fantasy football enthusiasts don’t agree. Shonn Greene has been the top Jets player selected in drafts, but he isn’t going until the seventh round. If there is a silver-lining to the Jets woes, it’s kicker Nick Folk who could provide great value if their red-zone struggles continue into the regular season. Folk isn’t even being considered in drafts, but has been perfect thus far, knocking in all four of his field goal attempts. Though he finished 2011 thirteenth among all fantasy kickers, the increased opportunities could propel him into a No. 1 option. Take a wait- and -see approach for now, but keep tabs on his production early on.

-Follow Adrian Mojica on Twitter @FFFdaily

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