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Underachievers driving you nuts? Here's some advice

In fantasy football, it's never too early to panic.

Considering that about 15 percent of most leagues' 14-week regular season is already over, it might be time to cut ties with some of your drafted players, as displeasing as that may sound.

Here's some players who were drafted in the early-to-mid rounds who have been disappointments, and some advice on what to do with them:

*Larry Johnson, RB, Kansas City: The numbers through Week Two: 35 carries, 98 yards, 2.8 yards per rush, no touchdowns. Yuck. Johnson gets somewhat of a pass because the Chiefs faced Baltimore on the road in Week One, but the fact he hasn't found the end zone is a big concern.

Johnson is playing behind a woeful offensive line. He's a No. 3 running back at best, but his name recognition is high, so you might be able to fetch good value in a trade. His matchup isn't any easier this week against Philadelphia, so consider putting Johnson on the bench.

*Bernard Berrian, WR, Minnesota: Berrian would run fly patterns 50 yards to catch all those Brett Favre bombs, or so the hope was for fantasy owners who used a draft pick on him. Hasn't happened. Berrian's got just six catches for 46 yards and no touchdowns. He was injured during preseason, so he hasn't developed much of a relationship with Favre.

He can't be trusted to start in Week Three against San Francisco, but will almost certainly have a game this season that drives fantasy owners who have him on the bench crazy. Last season, he had four 100-yard games and three others with fewer than 30 yards.

If you have two other solid starters and can deal with his inconsistency, Berrian is worth a start for his inevitable breakout game. If not, wait until he proves he and Favre have some chemistry.

*Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh: Has Parker lost a step? It certainly appears that way, as his 66 yards on 27 carries (2.4 yards per carry) would attest. His first two opponents, Tennessee and Chicago, aren't great matchups, but the bigger concern is the presence of Rashard Mendenhall.

Parker would seem to have a good matchup this week against the Bengals, but he's rushed 42 times for just 124 yards in his last two games against the Steelers' AFC North rival. Move Parker now while he's still considered the starter. His value takes a drastic hit if he is forced to share carries.

*Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal, WRs, Denver: Two for the price of one. Where oh where has Jay Cutler gone? Denver's two wideouts, one a top-10 receiver last season (Marshall) and one a revelation as a rookie, have done nothing with new quarterback Kyle Orton.

"Brandon and I still have a ways to go," Orton told the Associated Press. "We're working on it and hopefully we find ways of getting him the ball."

Reports out of Denver indicate Marshall still doesn't have a firm grasp on the playbook, though he insists that's not the case.

As for Royal, he's got just five catches for 38 yards in two games. Neither are great starts in Week Three against Oakland. The Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha is good enough to shade Marshall one-on-one, which leaves the defense free to double Royal.

*Steve Slaton, RB, Houston: Week One against a solid New York Jets defense was one thing, but where was Slaton when the Texans put up 34 points last week against Tennessee?

His numbers so far (26 carries, 51 yards, three fumbles) have been awful, but Slaton's matchups begin to get a bit easier, beginning this week with the Jaguars. Don't give up on him yet.

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Analyzing the Bills

The Bills' defense has given up 332 passing yards per game. Not exactly a dream matchup against Drew Brees and the high-flying New Orleans Saints. Leave the Bills' D far, far down on your bench.

New Orleans' defense hasn't shut down the pass either, giving up 288 yards per game, which means Trent Edwards becomes a viable option.

Terrell Owens has just eight targets through two games, but remains a must-start. Eventually defenses will realize Fred Jackson can actually play and stop double-teaming Owens. As he demonstrated last week against Tampa Bay, Owens can make big plays when single covered (the same goes for Lee Evans on the other side). Jackson should be starting in all fantasy formats.

e-mail: jskurski@buffnews.com

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