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Figuring out when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em

Panic or patience? With the leaves on the turn, it's time to make some difficult decisions.

Bengals QB Carson Palmer: With three TDs, four picks and a 69.3 passer rating, he's no longer elite. But in his last two games, he's thrown for 503 yards and all three scores. Patience.

Ravens RB Willis McGahee: Fifty carries for 170 yards with a top effort of 64 yards, playing behind a rookie QB. Baltimore's offense is ugly. Panic.

Rams WR Torry Holt: The invisible man so far with 15 catches for 187 yards and one TD, but QB Marc Bulger returning to the starting lineup offers a definite silver lining. Patience.

Browns QB Derek Anderson: Top effort of 166 yards so far with three TDs, six INTs and Brady Quinn warming up in the bullpen. Panic.

Packers RB Ryan Grant: No TDs, no 100-yard games, no telling how long his Green Bay second-year slump will last. But there isn't anybody in the backfield to push him, either. Patience.

Raiders WR Ronald Curry: No. 1 on the Oakland depth chart at his position entering the season, he has a total of one catch the last three games for the No. 29 passing offense. Panic.

Titans QB Vince Young: Depressed and disheartened, especially since Tennessee has gone 4-0 since Kerry Collins took the wheel. Panic.

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Sorting the Bills

Despite hitting the bye week with a 4-1 record, there has been nothing extraordinary about the Buffalo Bills from a fantasy owner's standpoint.

As expected, running back Marshawn Lynch and wide receiver Lee Evans have been the most productive Buffalo players. Regardless of format, both probably rank near the tail end of the top 10 at their positions.

With 330 yards and four touchdowns on 92 carries, Lynch has been solid but definitely not spectacular. His top rushing effort is 83 yards in Week Three against the Oakland Raiders and he's been kept out of the end zone during the last two weeks.

With 16 catches for 430 yards and two TDs, Evans continues to do most of his damage from long distance. The 87-yard score he hauled in from J.P. Losman against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday was the sixth of his career covering 70 yards or more. Among players with at least 10 receptions this season, his average of 27 yards per catch ranks behind only New Orleans' Devery Henderson's 31.7.

Trent Edwards is exhibiting a bit of Troy Aikman disease -- being a much more valuable quarterback in the real world than in the fantasy realm. With 948 passing yards and four TDs, he hovers around 20th at his position.

Robert Royal, with 13 catches for 102 yards and a score, is a low-end option at tight end. Kicker Rian Lindell, 9 of 11 on field goals with a long of 48 yards and 13 of 13 on PATs, is middle of the pack, as is the Bills defense/special teams, with two TD returns.

The Bills' first five opponents boast a 7-15 combined record and none of them ranks higher than 12th in total defense (Arizona 12th, Oakland 17th, Jacksonville 21st, Seattle 27th, St. Louis 31st). So a marked improvement following the bye week seems unlikely.

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Since you asked

>Q: Can you explain the difference between total offense, combined net yards gained and yards from scrimmage? And which category is most valuable for a fantasy player?

A: Total offense is generally a team statistic, the sum of rushing and passing yardage. Combined net yards gained is the total from rushing, receiving, interception returns, punt returns, kickoff returns and fumble returns. Yards from scrimmage is the total rushing and receiving yardage. Generally speaking, the most valuable fantasy players rank near the top of the yards from scrimmage list. . . .

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Week Five eye-popper

. . . But, New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush proves there is an exception to every rule. Held to 93 yards from scrimmage in the 30-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Bush also returned five punts for 176 yards and two TDs -- from 71 and 64 yards.

He became the 12th player in NFL history to bring back two for scores in one game and established a team record for punt return yardage in a game. Bush has nine punt returns for 261 yards and three scores and needs one more to match the league record shared by Chicago's Devin Hester (2007), Denver's Rick Upchurch (1976) and Detroit's Jack Christiansen (1951).

e-mail: tborrelli@buffnews.com

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