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Panning for gold in the quarterback rubble

Week Seven of the NFL season will feature at least four, and possibly as many as six, new starting quarterbacks.

With injuries mounting and struggling teams turning the page to build for the future, it's time to analyze which of the new signal callers have fantasy appeal.

*Carson Palmer, Oakland: Rescued Tuesday from his self-imposed exile from Cincinnati, it seemed like a long shot that the Raiders would start Palmer just five days later. Then again, it's the Raiders, and reports this week have said Palmer is taking practice snaps with the first team. Palmer's previous relationship with Raiders coach Hue Jackson dates back to their time together in Cincinnati, so it's conceivable they can come up with a game plan that's not too complicated. The matchup (home against Kansas City) is as favorable as it gets, so as crazy as it seems, I'd start Palmer this week.

*Tim Tebow, Denver: Tebow mania is set to take over Miami. It's fitting that Tebow's first start this season comes in South Florida, with the Dolphins preparing to honor the Florida Gators' 2008 national championship team (seriously) at halftime. Tebow, of course, was the quarterback on that team, so he'll have an army of fans at the game.

Most people are on one side of the fence or the other with Tebow in regards to whether he can be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. Fantasy owners don't have to worry about that. All that matters is whether he puts up points, and with his ability as a runner, Tebow is likely to do enough of that to warrant being a starter in your lineup.

*Christian Ponder, Minnesota: His first career start comes against the defending Super Bowl champions. Not ideal, of course, but not the end of the world. The Packers are 31st in the league against the pass, allowing nearly 300 yards per week, and giving up an average of 20 points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The Vikings will need to throw a lot, increasing the likelihood of garbage-time yards for the rookie from Florida State.

*John Beck, Washington: The last time Beck started was in 2007, when he was a rookie on a Dolphins team that went 1-15. Expectations should be kept to a minimum, especially since the game plan against the Panthers will likely involve a healthy dose of running. Beck is best kept as a reserve option for now, but if need be, can start in a pinch.

*Charlie Whitehurst, Seattle: Starter Tarvaris Jackson is likely to miss the game with a pectoral injury, and Whitehurst looked good playing in relief in Week Five. That doesn't mean he should start Sunday against Cleveland, though, because the Browns are tough on opposing fantasy quarterbacks. Cleveland has limited quarterbacks to 14.4 fantasy points per week (in CBSSports.com leagues), which is seventh best in the NFL.

*A.J. Feeley, St. Louis: Starter Sam Bradford has a high ankle sprain. The Rams might try and play him anyway, but that would be a mistake. That type of injury simply doesn't heal in a week. Feeley is on the very low end of fantasy quarterbacks, even with the addition of new receiver Brandon Lloyd, who came to St. Louis in a trade with Denver.

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Running back finds

It's rare to find starting running backs on the waiver wire this late in the season, but there's a good chance Jackie Battle could be available in your league. The fourth-year Chiefs running back is looking like the featured back in Kansas City. He had 140 all-purpose yards in Week Five against Indianapolis, and gets a favorable matchup Sunday against the Raiders, who have allowed the fourth-most points to opposing running backs (in Yahoo! leagues).

Lions running back Maurice Morris is in line for more carries. Rumors out of Detroit on Thursday had starting running back Jahvid Best out long term after he suffered another concussion last week. Morris becomes the default featured back and, on the Lions' high-profile offense, has the potential to be a good flex player.

Cowboys rookie DeMarco Murray also has a great chance this weekend to have a breakout fantasy performance. With starter Felix Jones out for Dallas, Murray is expected to get the bulk of the work against a Rams team that has given up 5.2 yards per carry to opposing running backs.

email: jskurski@buffnews.com