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Bradford emerging in young quarterback class

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When I became a first-time home owner three years ago, I knew there were some things I was going to have to learn in a hurry.

Needless to say, outside of hammering out paragraph after paragraph on a keyboard, kicking some tail in the latest Halo video game or bringing a big juicy steak to my mouth, my hands are pretty useless. I always have electricians, carpenters and plumbers on standby for when the tiniest problem arises.

So of course, when I bought my home I decided I was going to redo my basement by myself; and by myself, I mean with the help of my brother, father, father- in-law, stepfather and various friends. One buddy in particular always seemed eager to help me, even if he didn't know what he was doing.

Finally, while trying to figure out how to put some new block windows in, he confessed to me why he was always willing to lend a hand.

"That way, when I buy my own house, I'll know how to do it the right way," was his confession.

Being a young quarterback in the NFL is the same thing. Teams always have two options with their new signal-caller: play him right away and hope he can learn as he goes or let him sit on the sidelines and gain his initial knowledge from watching.

The Rams, partially due to a preseason injury to A.J. Feeley, picked the former with 2010 top overall pick Sam Bradford and fantasy owners -- particularly those in keeper/dynasty formats -- that followed suit are starting to reap the rewards.

Through eight starts, Bradford has amassed 11 touchdown passes. The first quarterbacks taken in the last two drafts -- Matthew Stafford in 2009 and Matt Ryan in '08 -- posted similar TD numbers in the first eight starts of their careers and both are highly regarded in the fantasy realm.

So what does that mean for Bradford?

For one, it means that he is becoming a viable fantasy option. He has five touchdown passes over his last three games without a pick and is averaging 209.2 yards throwing per game. Yes, he hasn't topped 200 passing yards in his last three games, but what do you expect when your top targets are named Laurent Robinson, Danny Amendola and Daniel Fells.

(Paging Randy Moss.)

Bradford does have a two-edged sword behind him in Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson, who is going to get a large number of carries each week, but who also keeps defenses honest to Bradford's benefit.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old Bradford isn't a must-start each week, but he is a nice player to have on a roster for depth and if you are in a long-term league, he is a guy you might want to grab by the end of the season for future use.

Those block windows are still intact by the way.

And now, here are five players I'm liking for this weekend.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears - Forte has been a big hit-or-miss guy this year. He roared out of the gate with a 200-plus total yard, two-touchdown game in Week 1 and has scored a total of six TDs while making plays on the ground and in the passing game. However, he did have just 26 touches in Chicago's final two games before its recent bye week - including only 18 carries. Chicago needs to find a way to keep Jay Cutler on his feet and using Forte more is the answer. Mix in a Week 9 battle with Buffalo's 32nd-ranked scoring and run defense and you've got yourself a great play.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Indianapolis Colts - Garcon made seven catches for 78 yards on Monday night versus Houston as Indy was without tight end Dallas Clark, wide receiver Austin Collie and running back Joseph Addai. Quarterback Peyton Manning likes to spread the ball around, but Garcon is going up against an Eagles secondary that ranks 23rd in scoring defense and gave up 200-plus yards and three touchdowns to Titans WR Kenny Britt in Week 7.

Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints - You are going to start Brees anyway but he is in line for a big week this Sunday. The Saints have been inconsistent all year and find themselves third in the NFC South. Brees won't let the defending Super Bowl champs slip further behind the eight-ball this weekend in a matchup with the 1-6 Carolina Panthers despite their success versus the pass this year.

Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers - Jennings has caught six passes in each of his last three games, finding the end zone twice in that span. Not surprisingly, this stretch comes with Donald Driver having failed to make a catch in his last two games while battling a quad injury. Driver won't play this Sunday, leaving plenty of passes for Jennings against a struggling Dallas team.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, New York Jets - Running is the key to success for the Jets and Tomlinson has almost matched his rushing total from last year (730 yards) in half as many games. He's gotten at least 16 rush attempts in four straight games, making 15 catches in that span as well and has four touchdowns in his last four games. New York will want to keep Detroit's Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson off the field and grinding the ball on the ground against a defense that ranks 27th in the league versus the run will do that.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Michael Rushton at mrushton@sportsnetwork.com.

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