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Pewter fading as a color of choice

Two consecutive losses and the fantasy sheen is dulling on Tampa Bay. The Bucs are still a solid football team and likely playoff bound, but their long-term fantasy outlook has diminished.

Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott remain terrific fantasy players - starters for almost any team - but what of the rest of the Pewter? Reidel Anthony and Trent Dilfer have regressed in recent weeks, and with the NFC Central (minus Detroit) having a bye week, you might want to say your goodbyes now.Speaking of diminished fantasy capacities, there are a few NFL teams really stinking up the joint - St. Louis, Cincinnati, Carolina and Indianapolis - with talented players you may want to consider dumping, or at least sending to the bench for a couple of weeks to see if the stench clears.

Slumping fantasy stalwarts Jeff Blake and Carl Pickens (Bengals), Eddie Kennison (Rams) and Marshall Faulk (Colts) don't belong in anyone's starting lineup for the moment.

Rice substitute Terrell Owens may be turning into a San Francisco treat in his own right. Last Sunday he scored two touchdowns, raising his season total to four. If this is a trend, rather than a mere blip, he could make his fantasy owners very happy the second half of the season.

Postpone the fantasy death watch for Dan Marino for another week. Marino threw for 372 yards and two touchdowns against the J-E-T-S. And therein lies the problem. Marino owns the Jets. So was his performance history merely repeating itself or a portent of the future?

You might want to save that fantasy casket, however. It's obvious that Dallas RB Emmitt Smith, who made the Cowboys go for so many seasons, is running on fumes. If he couldn't score against the weak Washington run defense Monday night, he's probably not going to score against anyone else. Give him a seat on the pine, or better yet, swap him for something of fantasy value to one of your league pigeons.

Franchise-Savior-of-the-Week:

WR Willie Davis, Tennessee (79 yards, 2 TDs). The "Air" is back in McNair.

I told you so:

WR Lamar Thomas, Miami (75 yards, 1 TD). Last weekend's performance in starting role led to the release of Fred Barnett.

Possible pickups:

Chicago WR Curtis Conway. Five catches for 77 yards in return from collarbone injury. It looks like he'll be a factor during the second half of the season.

Prime cuts:

From the `Do as I say, not as I do' department: Cincinnati's Jeff Blake, my personal fantasy albatross, is out-of-sync, out-of-sorts and soon to be out of a starting quarterback job unless he pulls it together. Unfortunately, it's going to take another bad week from him before I pull out the ax.

K Doug Pelfrey, Cincinnati. Another of my shrewd pickups. This guy has 20 points through six games. New York Jets rookie kicker John Hall has 57. Even Arizona's Kevin Butler would be an improvement.

Sick bay:

RB Terry Allen, Washington (sprained knee). Out two weeks.

WR Michael Westbrook, Washington (sprained knee). Out at least two weeks. QB Todd Collins, Buffalo (bruised rotator cuff). Likely ready for Monday nighter.

RB Natrone Means, Jacksonville (sprained ankle). Doubtful for Sunday.

Thursday night football:

San Diego at Kansas City.

Bye-byes:

NFC Central: Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Tampa Bay.

Fantasy matchups:

San Francisco's Steve Young & Co. against Atlanta. Another "Points R Us" game for the 49ers.

Denver's John Elway & Co. against Oakland. Denver's going to score at least 35 points against the defenseless Raiders. Notice, I'm not saying Denver is a lock to win, but if they lose, it'll be because the Raiders put up more than five TDs.

Oakland's Jeff George & Co. against Denver. To even be competitive, they're going to have to score a bunch of points.

Pittsburgh's Kordell Stewart & Co. against the Cincinnati kittens. "The Bangles" would put up a better game.