NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 11/6/06

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Articles Added 9/11/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Articles Added 9/11/06)

Sep. 12, 2006, 3:09 PM
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FFL: Waiver Wire Work Week 2


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, we help you improve your fantasy roster by recommending the best players to add and drop. Here are some players you should consider who are probably available on your league's free-agent list, and others you should cut loose if you need to make extra room on your roster.
TOP ADDS
Chad Pennington, QB, Jets (Owned in 5.7 percent of ESPN.com leagues): This one might seem obvious to more savvy fantasy players, but some may have doubts whether Pennington can continue to play as well as he did in the season opener. While there certainly will be not many 300-yard outings ahead against better opponents, Pennington will at least give you respectable production if you're desperate to replace Trent Green or if you are stuck with Brett Favre or Aaron Brooks. Pennington is throwing with good accuracy and making quick, crisp reads. If he starts to put more consistent velocity on the ball, he should be a safe, but unspectacular fantasy option in the near future.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (36.8 percent owned): His Monday night performance should convince you he is a decent desperation option, and many fantasy owners are searching for at least respectable choices at quarterback. Rivers is already a good game manager, and he is making quick, smart decisions. He has displayed good accuracy so far, and even if his numbers won't jump off the stat sheet at you, he can give you decent totals. He's certainly worth considering in the second week against Tennessee, after the Titans made Pennington look very good. Playing in the AFC West means Rivers could have some good outings in high-scoring affairs. He'll be useful when the matchup is right.
Jerious Norwood, RB, Falcons (37.7 percent owned): If you're looking for a very promising flex player or a terrific backup, Norwood isn't going to be available for much longer in many leagues. If you can still add him, consider yourself lucky, and put him on your roster immediately. Norwood carried 10 times for 66 yards in his pro debut and can explode through the defensive front seven any time he touches the ball. If you don't get him now, you may never have him. Norwood doesn't get regular carries, but he makes the most of just about every opportunity.
Reggie Williams, WR, Jaguars (3.0 percent owned): Williams must prove himself now with Jimmy Smith retired, or his career could be headed in the wrong direction for good. While he only finished with 47 receiving yards against Dallas, Williams caught six balls, including a 6-yard TD reception. Williams made the tough grabs that used to turn into drops in the past. He could finally step forward as a dependable target for Byron Leftwich, so take the gamble that he'll finally improve.
Michael Jenkins, WR, Falcons (4.6 percent owned): Here's another previously enigmatic young wide receiver who could be ready to raise his game. The preseason buzz in Atlanta centered around Roddy White, and then the Falcons also acquired Ashley Lelie. Jenkins, however, was Michael Vick's best receiver against Carolina, finishing with three catches for 77 yards, including a 34-yard TD reception. If Vick continues to throw the ball well, Jenkins could emerge as his preferred wide receiver.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets (0.2 percent owned): He quietly stepped forward as a solid possession receiver in the preseason, and Cotchery caught six passes for 65 yards and a TD in the opener. Cotchery isn't going to be explosive, but he will make a lot of important receptions, especially when the Jets look much worse than they did in the first week and have to play catch-up. Cotchery is a fine add for depth and should certainly get strong consideration in leagues of 12 or more teams.
PRIME CUTS
Aaron Brooks, QB, Raiders (90.2 percent owned): He looked awful in the opener, eventually getting benched, and there could be many more bad performances ahead with a shaky offensive line and a receiving corps that looks like a mess. Brooks held onto the ball too long on Monday and he had a lot of trouble finding open receivers, plus his decision-making skills have always been in question. Don't waste time waiting for him to turn things around.
Jon Kitna, QB, Lions (58.3 percent owned): It's going to be a long season for a guy who was an overachiever at times in the past. He doesn't have the type of offensive support he had when he played well for Cincinnati, and Mike Martz can't perform miracles when he doesn't have a dependable running game or a reliable receiving crew. Kitna can play well statistically at times if he has a good skill position cast, but other than Roy Williams, who will continue to draw extra defensive attention, Kitna doesn't have much help and seems destined to struggle all year long. You can likely add a better second QB in many leagues.
Ron Dayne, RB, Texans (65.6 percent owned): Too many fantasy owners keep waiting for him to somehow rise up and put a completely disappointing career so far behind him. There still is hollow hope that he will at least become a respectable fantasy player or goal-line RB at some point. But it's time some of us stopped thinking he still can be a surprise. He may not even be a factor in Houston, where Wali Lundy and Vernand Morency aren't looking like very promising options, either. The Texans might not find a dependable RB all year long, and with only five TD runs in the last three years, there's no real reason to believe Dayne will suddenly become a reliable short-yardage ball carrier. Don't waste any more time or roster space on a guy who will never emerge as the sleeper some thought he would be.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Redskins (94.6 percent owned): I liked him as a possible sleeper during the summer, but Lloyd did nothing to impress during the preseason, and was shut out on Monday night. The Washington passing game clearly won't scare a lot of defenses, and Lloyd isn't a top option for Mark Brunell. Lloyd does have a tendency to make the pretty catch, and he should have a few decent outings, but he likely won't help you win too many fantasy games.
Jerry Porter, WR, Raiders (85.2 percent owned): Porter fell to fourth on the depth chart at WR recently in Oakland, then he was deactivated on Monday. Porter had been a bust as a starter in the past, and now he is sitting in favor of Alvis Whitted. Don't hang on to him waiting for a sudden improvement or a trade. Even if he is dealt, he'll have to acclimate himself to a new team and he does nothing to inspire much confidence as a starter anywhere else in the future. Joe Jurevicius, WR, Browns (79.2 percent owned): He is expected to miss at least four to six weeks because of broken ribs, and you shouldn't expect much when he returns. Jurevicius was a better fit in Seattle last year, where he was one of a few key pass-catchers in a balanced passing game. He'll be much less effective as a featured target in a much less effective Cleveland passing game if he gets back into the starting lineup when he comes back. Don't hold on to him waiting for late-season production. Cut him now.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Articles Added 9/11/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Articles Added 9/11/06)

Sep. 12, 2006, 4:06 PM
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FFL: Week 2 Fantasy Scout


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each Monday afternoon, the Fantasy Scout takes an early look ahead to the coming week and beyond. We give you the early lowdown on players to watch and consider emerging trends that will affect your fantasy strategy, even before the "Monday Night Football" game!
Player Spotlight
New England RB Laurence Maroney could be the best No. 2 RB in the league, and even though he is listed behind Corey Dillon on the depth chart, it's very clear Maroney is the better runner right now. Of course, Dillon's best years appear to be behind him, while Maroney's NFL journey is just beginning, but how long can the veteran hold off the ultra-impressive rookie for more carries? If you don't have Maroney on your roster, get him now. If you have him, don't trade him. Outside of Reggie Bush, Maroney is the most impressive rookie in fantasy football. He came into the NFL labeled as a possibly explosive runner who needed work on his inside running skills. But Maroney has looked like the full package early on, taking on defenders and fighting for extra yardage, while also displaying the vision and quickness that can make him a big threat to opposing defenses on outside runs. Maroney seems to have it all as a runner. He can pound the ball inside and is difficult for tacklers to bring down once he gets past the initial wave of defenders. When Maroney picks up momentum, he can charge into the secondary for some big gainers. So far, Maroney is looking like he could be in the mold of Steven Jackson, with a little less bulk and a bit more quickness. Maroney led the Patriots with 86 rushing yards against Buffalo, including a long run of 27 yards. He carried the ball 17 times, while Dillon had 16 carries. Dillon is still dependable for New England, but Maroney clearly gives the offense more life and is a bigger threat to break loose for big runs. You can't count Dillon out yet, but it might just be a matter of time before Maroney becomes the preferred option. Even if he continues to split reps with Dillon in the near future, Maroney could post very good fantasy numbers quite often, and he is at least looking like a fine flex option for now.
Injury Fallout
Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius is expected to miss four to six weeks with broken ribs, robbing the Browns of possibly their best possession receiver. Jurevicius has had an unfortunate injury history in his career overall, even though he managed to steer clear of misfortune during his best year with Seattle in 2005. Even if Jurevicius were healthy now, he seemed to be overmatched as a possible prime target for Cleveland, and was a better fit as a secondary option in Seattle. Without Jurevicius, opposing defenses might continue to pay extra attention to RB Reuben Droughns, who rushed for only 27 yards against the Saints. Opponents might prefer to take their chances against Charlie Frye, who can make some plays to help his team, but the young QB is also prone to making some ill-advised decisions that could cost his team some wins. Braylon Edwards may take some time to round into full form, and Dennis Northcutt simply isn't dependable. While most of the Cleveland offense looks very shaky right now, especially without Jurevicius, who can at least command some extra attention from secondaries, one player might continue to rise. Frye's best target right now appears to be Kellen Winslow Jr., who made a rather happy return to real NFL action on Sunday after a long absence. Winslow caught eight balls for 63 yards, including an 18-yard TD catch. Even if the rest of the offense sputters, it looks like you can count on him for quality production in the weeks ahead. As for Jurevicius, cut him loose and don't look back. He might have trouble posting regularly good numbers when he returns.
Preparing for Changes
There are already published reports that Kansas City quarterback Trent Green, who suffered a devastating blow to the head on Sunday, might not return until after the bye week on Oct. 1. I'm sure all fantasy owners wish him a speedy recovery, as the usually durable Green has served us all well over the years, and it will be good to see him return at some point. In the meantime, the Chiefs have very questionable depth, to say the least, at the quarterback position. Green's fantasy owners are now facing the prospect of at least two weeks without possibly their top QB. Adding Chad Pennington or even Alex Smith looks like viable options, with the latter still being a desperation pickup. If you drafted a solid backup, obviously now is the time to lean on him. If your backup is Chris Simms or Jon Kitna, you'll simply have to hope he can bounce back from his opening-week performances.
If Green isn't back by early October, the Chiefs have only journeyman Damon Huard and rookie Brodie Croyle behind him. Huard did complete 12 of 20 passes for 140 yards and a TD in relief work on Sunday, but he certainly isn't a good fantasy pickup and he would bog down the Kansas City offense if he had to take over for an extended period. He has good size and arm strength, but Huard is limited in his playmaking ability and doesn't make good decisions under pressure. Croyle and practice squad QB Casey Printers simply aren't ready to guide an NFL offense.
Huard would certainly struggle against defenses better than the Bengals, who are overaggressive and often porous. The Chiefs have the Broncos next on the schedule, on the road, and Denver is no doubt in a foul mood after losing their opener at St. Louis. Huard certainly could be in for a long day in a hostile environment. Owners of Larry Johnson are now understandably worried that opposing defenses will key on Johnson often and limit his production. Johnson will certainly be less productive overall given the QB situation, but the offensive line blocked well for him in the opener and he also caught five passes for 80 yards. So you can't consider benching him under any circumstances. Johnson might have to fight harder for his yards, but he could also function as a safety receiver for Huard often and his overall numbers could still be good, but not great.
Unless Kansas City makes a move to acquire another QB, Huard is certain to stifle the production of the offense while he plays. Tony Gonzalez caught 10 balls on Sunday, but he'll likely draw extra defenders as Huard might lock onto him too often. Still, you can't bench him for a lesser player just yet. He could post decent totals when the Chiefs play from behind. Huard also doesn't inspire much confidence as a deep passer, so the value of Eddie Kennison certainly takes a hit. Don't hesitate to bench him in the near future.
Reality Strikes
After the bad news about Domanick Davis sank in, rookie Wali Lundy became a hot sleeper pick. But on Sunday, it became more apparent why Lundy slipped to the sixth round of the NFL Draft this year. He simply didn't show much in a loss to Philadelphia. Lundy rushed for only 32 yards on 11 carries, even with a respectable Houston passing game opening up some running room.
Lundy simply isn't going to challenge defenses on a consistent basis as a starter. He has good vision and quickness, but he's not tough to tackle, isn't very elusive, and looked tentative at times. Lundy finished with minus-one receiving yards on two receptions. Vernand Morency didn't look any better, with 13 rushing yards on five carries. New acquisition Ron Dayne was deactivated.
The Houston RB situation simply looks like a mess right now. Lundy doesn't appear to be capable of challenging defenses on a consistent basis, and Morency doesn't run with authority. Dayne has been a regular tease throughout his career to fantasy leaguers, so we can't assume he wins the job at some point, either. This is a bad situation that might not get better any time soon. Keep Lundy on your bench for now, but don't expect much, and don't waste roster spots on Morency or Dayne.
Fantasy Scout's Notebook
? Illusion of the day on Sunday? Ahman Green rushing for 110 yards against Chicago. He padded his stats in garbage time, and he could be much less effective against the Saints next week.
? Jacksonville WR Reggie Williams is finally showing some signs of promise. He finished with six catches for 47 yards and a TD against Dallas, making some difficult grabs on passes he used to drop. His mettle will truly be tested against the Steelers next week.
<!--&#8226 Seattle WR Nate Burleson caught only one ball for 36 yards against Detroit. Expect his numbers to improve in the weeks ahead, though, and now might be a good time to trade for him. He should perform much better against Arizona next week.
-->? Jamal Lewis did an admirable job of playing through his hip issues Sunday. Now that play has started for real, Lewis seems determined to stay on the field. He could post quality numbers again when he faces Oakland next week. ? 49ers rookie tight end Vernon Davis caught a 31-yard TD pass in the opener, but he also lost a fumble. While he will suffer some rookie doldrums and might disappear against some better opponents, he should perform rather well when the matchup is right. He's looking like a quality starter for the second week against the Rams, who still must prove that their defensive success in the opener was no fluke
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Articles Added 9/12/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Articles Added 9/12/06)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Time for a Tune-up


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->Week 1 was not a great week for first-round picks; four of the first 12 players selected on average in ESPN drafts failed to crack double-digit fantasy points, most notably the Seahawks' Shaun Alexander, who managed only three. While we preach patience, especially with your top draft picks, one first-rounder stands out as a mild worry taking into account his Week 1 performance and health: The Buccaneers' Carnell Williams.
It's not that Cadillac is someone you should be cutting, certainly not because he managed only four fantasy points. Remember, it's only one week, and no matter what happens with Williams looking forward, he's going to do better, beginning in Week 2 against the Falcons. But taking into account all the factors that went into his Week 1 disappointment, there's reason to worry that Williams will be hard-pressed to challenge for top-10 overall status.
For one thing, the back spasms that bothered Williams at the onset of training camp have returned, and there's little doubt that they impacted his performance against the Ravens. Sure, Tampa Bay had to resort to the pass after falling behind early. But before that, Williams managed only 22 yards on eight carries, an average of 2.8. Bad matchup or not, that's a poor rate for such a quick, elusive runner and means his health should be monitored.
Don't forget, Mike Alstott still looms to vulture goal-line carries, and if Cadillac's back becomes a persistent problem throughout the season, the Buccaneers surely won't want him in there for those grueling short-yardage attempts, knowing they could play it safe and go with the tougher, more physical back. I'd argue Alstott could steal a noticeable chunk of Williams' goal-line chances even if the latter stays completely healthy; don't forget that Alstott had seven touchdowns in 2005 despite being handed the ball only 34 times.
Plus, Tampa Bay has one of the toughest schedules of any team in the NFL, and with Chris Simms and the passing game looking rather shaky in Week 1, the Buccaneers could find themselves frequently playing from behind. That would cost Williams even more touches, further limiting the breakout potential so many people saw in him in the preseason. None of those factors should push Williams' value down significantly, but there's a little more downside in him than his fellow first-rounders, so keep an eye on him the next couple games.
<STYLE> .headshot { visibility: visible; padding: 0px 5px 4px 0px; float: left;} .bottom { font: 10px verdana, san-serif; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; background: #006633; padding: 5px; } </STYLE>BETWEEN THE LINES
The Williams/Alstott situation brings to light the increasing number of running back-by-committee situations around the NFL, something fantasy owners clearly dread. Though I have my worries about Williams' workload in the coming weeks, I'd hardly put Tampa Bay in that "committee" kind of scenario, but several teams -- the Broncos, Falcons, Jets, Patriots, Saints, Texans and Titans -- fit that description, with situations where the week-to-week rushing attempt totals are proving nearly impossible to predict. Generally speaking, I'm not one to put much stock in running backs sharing carries, but with so many committee situations this season and so many teams demonstrating a high level of success in using that strategy this and last year, it's important to know which ones are indeed "safe" backfields, as those of the Broncos (Mike Anderson/Tatum Bell) and Dolphins (Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams) were in 2005. This season, of the aforementioned seven committees, I'd call four worth considering, either as No. 2 or flex options when the matchups allow. In order, I'd look to the Broncos (Mike Bell/Tatum Bell), who have what appears to be an identical setup to a year ago, with the sturdy Mike stepping into the Mike Anderson role and the speedy Tatum occupying the same role he had in 2005; the Saints (Reggie Bush/Deuce McAllister), who can turn to McAllister at the goal line and yet still get Bush enough scoring opportunities for fantasy by getting him involved in the passing game; the Falcons (Warrick Dunn/Jerious Norwood), who are finally turning to Dunn in the red zone with T.J. Duckett gone, yet still have the speedy Norwood to spell him and serve as insurance; and the Patriots (Corey Dillon/Laurence Maroney), who can still rely on the experienced Dillon enough to slowly break Maroney into the role of workhorse back for 2007.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Thomas Jones, RB, Bears
21 carries for 63 yards and 0 TD

One might expect that in a 26-0 game, one so clearly in Chicago's favor, we would have seen a hefty dose of Jones, and against a defense like that of the Packers, he would have managed a much better performance than this. Instead, while Jones managed a healthy 21 carries, he failed to do much with them, averaging a disappointing 3.0 yards per attempt. Not that backup Cedric Benson, once considered the favorite to start in the early preseason, was much better; he got the bulk of the work in garbage time and ran 11 times for 34 yards (3.1 average). Jones could really consider himself lucky; Benson's preseason shoulder problems effectively cost him a starting job that the team practically wanted to hand to him, and it's not like Benson took advantage of a golden opportunity to stake his claim to that same job this past Sunday. Sure, Jones was a fairly consistent, reliable No. 2 fantasy back in 2005, which would seem to portray him as a deserving starter, but the Bears still do seem to consider Benson their future, and as such, Jones is going to spend the entire season looking over his shoulder. Efforts like this aren't going to make much of a case for him to keep his job, and now it's merely a question of whether he or Benson picks up his game more quickly. With another shaky outing or two, or a standout performance by Benson, this could become quite the controversy in Chicago. I have a feeling Benson will be getting a start or two before long.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Articles Added 9/12/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Articles Added 9/12/06)

Sep. 13, 2006, 1:50 PM
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FFL: Week 2 Lineup Rankings


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->Quarterbacks
1. Peyton Manning vs. HOU
2. Carson Palmer vs. CLE
3. Tom Brady at NYJ
<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->4. Donovan McNabb vs. NYG
5. Matt Hasselbeck vs. ARI
6. Kurt Warner at SEA
7. Marc Bulger at SF
8. Eli Manning at PHI
9. Drew Brees at GB
10. Daunte Culpepper vs. BUF
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER width="8" height="1" type="block"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>[FONT=Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif]We rate players based on possible fantasy production each week, taking into account past production as well as matchups. These are not overall player rankings, but rather a list of who you should start for the upcoming week. Top superstars will rarely get moved out of the prime spots, as they should not be benched unless injured. Most players with an unclear injury or starting status for the upcoming week will not be included. All four major offensive positions and defense/special teams units are ranked. [/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>11. Steve McNair vs. OAK
12. Drew Bledsoe vs. WAS
13. Jake Delhomme at MIN
14. Jake Plummer vs. KC
15. Brett Favre vs. NO
16. Michael Vick vs. TB
17. Brad Johnson vs. CAR
18. David Carr at IND
19. Byron Leftwich vs. PIT
20. Charlie Frye at CIN
21. Philip Rivers vs. TEN
22. Chad Pennington vs. NE
23. Charlie Batch at JAC
24. Mark Brunell at DAL
25. Chris Simms at ATL
26. Aaron Brooks at BAL
27. Jon Kitna at CHI
28. Rex Grossman vs. DET
29. Alex Smith vs. STL
30. Damon Huard at DEN
31. Kerry Collins at SD
32. J.P. Losman at MIA

Running Backs
1. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. TEN
2. Shaun Alexander vs. ARI
3. Larry Johnson at DEN
4. Rudi Johnson vs. CLE
5. Tiki Barber at PHI
6. Steven Jackson at SF
7. Ronnie Brown vs. BUF
8. Edgerrin James at SEA
9. Willie Parker at JAC
10. Brian Westbrook vs. NYG
11. Chester Taylor vs. CAR
12. Reggie Bush at GB
13. Reuben Droughns at CIN
14. Jamal Lewis vs. OAK
15. Willis McGahee at MIA
16. LaMont Jordan at BAL
17. Frank Gore vs. STL
18. Clinton Portis at DAL
19. Tatum Bell vs. KC
20. Warrick Dunn vs. TB
21. Julius Jones vs. WAS
22. Deuce McAllister at GB
23. Carnell Williams at ATL
24. Corey Dillon at NYJ
25. Ahman Green vs. NO
26. Fred Taylor vs. PIT
27. DeShaun Foster at MIN
28. Thomas Jones vs. DET
29. Dominic Rhodes vs. HOU
30. Laurence Maroney at NYJ
31. Mike Bell vs. KC
32. Kevin Jones at CHI
33. Wali Lundy at IND
34. Kevan Barlow vs. NE
35. Chris Brown at SD
36. Jerious Norwood vs. TB
37. Travis Henry at SD
38. Joseph Addai vs. HOU
39. Marion Barber vs. WAS
40. Cedric Benson vs, DET

Wide Receivers
1. Chad Johnson vs. CLE
2. Marvin Harrison vs. HOU
3. Torry Holt at SF
4. Larry Fitzgerald at SEA
5. Anquan Boldin at SEA
6. Terrell Owens vs. WAS
7. Santana Moss at DAL
8. Hines Ward at JAC
9. Reggie Wayne vs. HOU
10. Andre Johnson at IND
11. Plaxico Burress at PHI
12. Chris Chambers vs. BUF
13. Randy Moss at BAL
14. Donald Driver vs. NO
15. Roy Williams at CHI
16. Derrick Mason vs. OAK
17. Antonio Bryant vs. STL
18. Darrell Jackson vs. ARI
19. Joe Horn at GB
20. Donte' Stallworth vs. NYG
21. Laveranues Coles vs. NE
22. Terry Glenn vs. WAS
23. Matt Jones vs. PIT
24. Rod Smith vs. KC
25. T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. CLE
26. Muhsin Muhammad vs. DET
27. Lee Evans at MIA
28. Joey Galloway at ATL
29. Javon Walker vs. KC
30. Eddie Kennison at DEN
31. Reggie Brown vs. NYG
32. Troy Williamson vs. CAR
33. Nate Burleson vs. ARI
34. Keenan McCardell vs. TEN
35. Drew Bennett at SD
36. Isaac Bruce at SF
37. Eric Moulds at IND
38. Keyshawn Johnson at MIN
39. Marty Booker vs. BUF
40. Jerricho Cotchery vs. NE
41. Mark Clayton vs. OAK
42. Michael Clayton at ATL
43. Michael Jenkins vs. TB
44. Braylon Edwards at CIN
45. Drew Carter at MIN
46. Amani Toomer at PHI
47. Roddy White vs. TB
48. Bobby Engram vs. ARI
49. David Givens at SD
50. Greg Jennings vs. NO
51. Reggie Williams vs. PIT
52. Eric Parker vs. TEN
53. Ernest Wilford vs. PIT
54. Troy Brown at NYJ
55. Chris Henry vs. CLE
56. Marques Colston at GB
57. Brandon Lloyd at DAL
58. Cedrick Wilson at JAC
59. Kevin Curtis at SF
60. Reche Caldwell at NYJ

Tight Ends
1. Antonio Gates vs. TEN
2. Tony Gonzalez at DEN
3. Todd Heap vs. OAK
4. Jeremy Shockey at PHI
5. Ben Watson at NYJ
6. Alge Crumpler vs. TB
7. Heath Miller at JAC
8. Kellen Winslow Jr. at CIN
9. Jason Witten vs. WAS
10. Randy McMichael vs. BUF
11. L.J. Smith vs. NYG
12. Chris Cooley at DAL
13. Dallas Clark vs. HOU
14. Vernon Davis vs. STL
15. Ben Troupe at SD
16. Jermaine Wiggins vs. CAR
17. Alex Smith at ATL
18. Chris Baker vs. NE
19. Ben Utecht vs. HOU
20. Jeb Putzier at IND
21. Bubba Franks vs. NO
22. Joe Klopfenstein at SF
23. Tony Scheffler vs. KC
24. Marcus Pollard at CHI
25. Leonard Pope at SEA

Defense/Special Teams
1. Chicago vs. DET
2. Pittsburgh at JAC
3. Baltimore vs. OAK
4. Indianapolis vs. HOU
5. San Diego vs. Ten
6. Carolina at MIN
7. Atlanta vs. TB
8. Philadelphia vs. NYG
9. Cincinnati vs. CLE
10. N.Y. Giants at PHI
11. Denver vs. KC
12. Washington at DAL
13. Seattle vs. ARI
14. Dallas vs. WAS
15. Tampa Bay at ATL
16. Miami vs. BUF
17. Jacksonville vs. PIT
18. Detroit at CHI
19. New England at NYJ
20. New Orleans at GB
21. Minnesota vs. CAR
22. St. Louis at SF
23. Kansas City at DEN
24. Buffalo at MIA
25. N.Y. Jets vs. NE
26. Cleveland at CIN
27. Green Bay vs. NO
28. Arizona at SEA
29. San Francisco vs. STL
30. Oakland at BAL
31. Tennessee at SD
32. Houston at IND

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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/13/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/13/06)

Thursday, September 14, 2006
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By Scott Engel
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->In the preseason, it seemed like most fantasy players wanted to steer clear of New York Jets when they drafted. At least on paper, New York looked hopeless, and anyone who called out the name of Chad Pennington on draft day might have elicited some chuckles and looks of pity from his or her league mates. In many leagues, Jerricho Cotchery wasn't even drafted, and some less experienced fantasy players might have never heard of him.
What a difference a first impression during the regular season can make, though. After a fine opener at Tennessee, and with many other quarterbacks suddenly surrounded by question marks, Pennington is a hot fantasy pickup. Cotchery served notice that he can be a dependable possession receiver for Pennington. And while Derrick Blaylock, who is better suited to be a change-of-pace backup running back, did nothing to impress, Kevan Barlow scored in his New York debut, and published reports indicate the former 49er could take over the starting RB job as soon as Sunday's game against New England.
But how many of New York's promising performances will carry through the rest of the season? Pennington can't be counted on for too many 300-yard outings against opponents tougher than Tennessee. While Pennington demonstrated great accuracy and made crisp reads en route to throwing for two TDs and earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, you shouldn't plug him in as a regular starter just yet. He does need to make tougher throws against better opposition more consistently, and the Patriots will certainly present a stiffer test for Pennington this week. He's a fine free-agent addition, but he still has to prove he can post quality numbers on a regular basis.
Cotchery caught six passes for 65 yards, and has clearly earned the confidence of Pennington. But he is inexperienced as a starter and could disappear against teams with quality secondaries. And while Barlow clearly has the most talent and potential of any RB on the Jets' roster, many fantasy owners won't forget that Barlow was a major disappointment as a starter for the 49ers. While Barlow certainly is a good goal-line runner, he won't be dependable for yardage. The Jets' offensive line is still a work in progress, and Barlow will have to scrape and fight his way through traffic very often. He shouldn't be considered anything more than a flex player. <!--
One player who should certainly have a better year than expected while building off a good opening performance is Laveranues Coles. In the past, Coles was a hit-or-miss speed receiver at best. But he has clearly matured and is now becoming a better all-around pass-catcher. Coles, who caught eight passes for 153 yards against Tennessee, now makes important possession grabs while remaining a downfield threat. Pennington's numbers might fluctuate, but a healthy portion of his completions will always go to Coles, who can put up at least respectable fantasy totals even when Pennington isn't playing at an optimum level. He'll get many of the important catches every week, and Coles should be a quality No. 2 fantasy receiver in most weeks.
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The Minnesota offense also looked much better than expected in the first week of the season. While the Vikings certainly didn't look like a powerhouse unit, the team did operate very efficiently on offense and should offer fantasy players quality production in the weeks ahead. Brad Johnson wasn't a chic QB pick in the preseason, but he demonstrated he can still manage a game well under pressure and can make timely, important throws. His receiving crew doesn't look great individually, but they complement each other well as a unit and Johnson seems very comfortable spreading the ball around. Marcus Robinson is still a threat in the red zone and on third downs, and Travis Taylor runs good routes and makes some key possession catches. Troy Williamson is a definite deep threat, and Jermaine Wiggins is a good option for Johnson on critical downs as well. The Minnesota receiving unit is better as a whole than individually, as only the quickly improving Williamson can actually be considered for regular starting duty among wide receivers from the group, and Wiggins isn't statistically reliable. But Johnson uses them all well, and if you're desperate for QB help, the veteran passer is a decent stopgap starter, especially in larger leagues. Chester Taylor is already looking like a workhorse, and while he isn't going to bust loose for too many long runs, he is yet another receiving option for Johnson and will keep pressure off him. Don't hesitate to start Johnson in a pinch, and Williamson, who has great deep gear and is getting regular downfield looks, is a fine starting choice against the weaker opponents on Minnesota's schedule.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Terry Glenn, WR, Cowboys
4 receptions for 81 yards and 0 TD

While all the talk in Dallas surrounds Terrell Owens and an ongoing quarterback controversy, the always testy Bill Parcells seemingly doesn't have to answer any questions about Glenn during his terse exchanges (news conferences) with the media. While Owens did catch Drew Bledsoe's only TD pass against Jacksonville, it was Glenn who led the Cowboys in receiving yardage. Glenn quietly had a fine preseason and looks like one of the most underrated receivers in the league right now. He caught a 51-yarder against the Jaguars and is still displaying good deep speed at age 32. No matter the matchup, or even if there is a switch from Bledsoe to Tony Romo at some point, Glenn should be a very dependable No. 2 fantasy receiver all season long. Some wide receivers seem to improve later in their careers, and Glenn falls into that category. He's another guy who was simply a boom-or-bust downfield threat earlier in his career, but is now a more trusted source on key downs for his QBs. Glenn won't go over the middle to make the tough catch, but he uses his experience, moves and quickness to get open when it counts. Glenn has a knack for making timely and often pretty grabs, especially near the sidelines. While opposing defenses are trying to contain Glenn, he'll face a lot of single coverages and he knows how to find some soft spots in zone coverages. He should be a regular starter as a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/13/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/13/06)

Sep. 14, 2006, 5:01 PM
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Week 2: 10 Things to watch


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, I provide my list of 10 things I'm watching on game day, so you'll be prepared for some of the week's biggest developments in advance of them happening.
The ever-changing Houston backfield. While we might not see the Texans debut of Samkon Gado in Week 2, Houston most assuredly will have at least one new running back on the active roster in former Bronco Ron Dayne. Gado, acquired Wednesday, wouldn't have enough practice time with his new team to be up to the task of playing, but Dayne should be, perhaps being used in short-yardage and goal-line situations. That'll take away from Wali Lundy's already limited fantasy value, but more importantly, it'll put pressure on Lundy to pick up his performance after a disappointing Week 1 effort. The Texans will keep rotating their running backs until one steps up as the go-to guy, so keep monitoring these three for the next couple weeks to see whether one emerges as a possible flex option.
The return of Ben Roethlisberger. What a long, difficult summer it has been for Roethlisberger. First, his motorcycle accident had him questionable for the start of training camp, then, once his injuries healed, an emergency appendectomy cost him Week 1 of the regular season. Roethlisberger returned to practice on Wednesday, and he's expected to play at Jacksonville on "Monday Night Football" in Week 2. That's not the best of matchups for him, meaning it'd be safer to keep him on your bench to evaluate his progress, but it'll be interesting to see whether he can continue the improvement he displayed in the playoffs last year, when he averaged 200.8 passing yards with seven touchdowns in four games.
Life in Kansas City under Damon Huard. Trent Green's injury might have been devastating to his fantasy owners, but I'd argue it's even more potentially devastating to the Chiefs, assuming it's a long-term thing. Unfortunately, one of Kansas City's weaknesses is in its backup quarterbacks, likely because Green had been so dependable over the years, making the need for a backup in the past irrelevant. It's not that Huard is a terrible quarterback -- we don't know that's a fact, at least not yet -- but I'd be surprised if he's anywhere near as reliable a deep threat as Green. Whether he can make good use of Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker, keeping defensive attention off Larry Johnson, will go a long way towards determining the value of all of your Chiefs looking forward.
Clinton Portis' workload. Portis looked good on Monday night, though his statistics did appear more impressive than his game performance thanks to a brilliant block by Mike Sellers that paved the way for a Portis touchdown. Hey, it's six points for fantasy, and that's all that counts, right? Another week removed from his shoulder injury, Portis should be even stronger in Week 2, and ready to assume a regular workload of 15, 20, maybe even more carries than that. I'm still thinking he needs two or three games to get back to full speed, and even after that T.J. Duckett occasionally could swipe a goal-line carry or two, but I'm curious to see how Duckett and/or Ladell Betts are worked in if at all on Sunday. If they're only minimal factors, it'd be a great sign for Portis' long-term outlook.
The Thomas Jones-Cedric Benson battle. I couldn't have been more disappointed in Jones' Week 1 effort, as Benson did everything he could this preseason to hand Jones back his job, then the veteran did little to prove himself worthy of it facing a soft matchup against the Packers. That's not going to keep him atop the depth chart for long, as Benson's getting healthier and the Bears still seem committed to him in the long term, meaning Week 2 is an important game in which for Jones to shine. He has a nice history against the Lions, at least, but another quiet effort could mean Benson becomes next week's most popular pickup.
Donte' Stallworth's comfort level in Philly. He and Donovan McNabb demonstrated a remarkable level of chemistry in Houston in Week 1, making Stallworth one of the more popular additions of the past week. There's nothing wrong with that, but I'm curious to see how the Philadelphia passing game shakes out in these early weeks. Somehow, I have this feeling McNabb might be a Tom Brady-like quarterback in 2006, spreading the ball to several different receivers in most weeks, though the good news is that at least Philadelphia passes more often than New England. There's value in Stallworth, Reggie Brown and L.J. Smith, but will they all get chances, or is Stallworth truly McNabb's preferred target?
The Atlanta defense. The Falcons' pass rush did a fine job giving Jake Delhomme and the Panthers headaches in Week 1, but much of that can be attributed to DE John Abraham, who is questionable for Sunday with a groin injury. Without Abraham, would Atlanta be so successful on the defensive side of the ball? Fortunately, it's an easier matchup against the struggling QB Chris Simms, the banged-up RB Carnell Williams and the shaky Tampa Bay offense in Week 2, but I'd like to see whether the defensive line keeps it up if Abraham plays, or whether this unit goes sour once again if he remains sidelined.
The Rams in red-zone situations. If I'm a Steven Jackson owner, I wasn't at all happy about the Rams' approach near the goal line. Isn't this supposed to be a run-oriented offense? Yet every time the Rams reached the red zone, it wasn't Stephen Davis getting the ball, nor was it Jackson; no, almost every time, it was a passing play. Maybe the Rams have spent the week wondering why they had to constantly settle for the field goal in Week 1, and maybe they don't mind that, but for Jackson's sake, can't they just give him a chance? I'll be watching in Week 2, wondering whether the Rams will have learned ? Or maybe they'll just use Davis in those situations, as us Jackson owners keep fearing.
A brewing quarterback controversy in Denver? Almost immediately after the Broncos's disappointing Week 1 performance against the Rams, local beat writers began suggesting Jay Cutler would overtake Jake Plummer for his job at some point this season. That's certainly possible, as the No. 11 pick overall in the 2006 draft is indeed the future of this team, but if the Broncos plan to contend this season, their best chance is with Plummer under center. Really, Plummer wasn't all that bad as Denver's starter in 2005, going nine games in which he threw for a touchdown and wasn't intercepted, and leading the team to a 27-13 win over the Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs. He'll keep getting his chances, but it's games like these in which he needs to step up and perform to quiet all the Cutler talk. I think he can do it, but we'll see how he rebounds on Sunday. Laurence Maroney's rapid development. Corey Dillon owners are in a fit of panic after Maroney actually wound up with the better rushing numbers in Week 1. They should be, too, since it's clear Maroney is the Patriots' running back of the future ?The near future. Still, let's not toss Dillon on the trash pile yet, as his experience is still a very valuable asset to a contending team like the Patriots, meaning he won't be merely pushed aside without a fight. Week 2's matchup against the Jets will be a prime indicator of Dillon's role on the 2006 team; the Patriots should be able to mount an early lead, so there should be another 30-plus carries to go around. If Maroney exceeds Dillon in carries for the second consecutive week, or even matches him, then it's time for Dillon's owners to sweat.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/13/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/13/06)

Sep. 14, 2006, 3:02 PM
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Cockcroft: Week 2 Statbook


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, the FFL Statbook provides you with hot and cold players, historical statistics and trends to exploit, and weather reports as you consider your weekly player matchups.

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">RIDE THE HOT STREAK</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">The players listed below -- three each at QB, RB and WR and one TE -- are performing well enough of late to be must-starts regardless of the matchups.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals (@SEA): Had 4 catches for 62 yards (15.5 AVG), 1 TD in Week 1; had 11 catches for 144 yards (13.1 AVG) in 4 preseason G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Reggie Bush, RB, Saints (@GB): In his NFL debut in Week 1, he had 22 touches for 119 YDS; he also had 19 ATT, 102 rushYDS (5.4 AVG) in the preseason. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Laveranues Coles, WR, Jets (NE): Had 8 catches for 153 yards (19.1 AVG) in Week 1; and had 12 catches for 90 yards (7.5 AVG) in 4 preseason G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Frank Gore, RB, 49ers (STL): He was fantasy's leading scorer in Week 1, with 16 ATT, 87 rushYDS, 2 TD and 6 REC, 83 recYDS; averaged 5.4 yds/att in preseason. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (NYG): Completed 24 of 35 passes for 314 passYDS, 3 TD, 1 INT in return from hernia surgery; had 112.7 rating in preseason. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Willie Parker, RB, Steelers (@JAC): Has 100+ rushYDS in 3 straight regular-season G; has 129 ATT, 605 rushYDS, 2 TD in his last 7 G (postseason included). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Donte' Stallworth, WR, Eagles (NYG): Had 6 REC, 141 recYDS, 1 TD in Week 1; has 55 REC, 763 recYDS (13.9 AVG), 7 TD in his last 11 regular-season G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Michael Vick, QB, Falcons (TB): Had 140 passYDS, 2 TD, 0 INT and ran 7 times for 48 rushYDS in Week 1; had 2 passTDs and averaged 12.4 yds/run in preseason. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals (@SEA): Completed 23 of 37 passes for 301 passYDS, 3 TD in Week 1; had 381 passYDS, 3 TD, 1 INT in 4 preseason G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Kellen Winslow Jr., TE, Browns (@CIN): Had 8 catches for 63 yards (7.9 AVG), 1 TD in Week 1; had 7 catches for 59 yards (8.4 AVG) in 4 preseason G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Deuce McAllister might have gotten more carries than Bush (22-14) in Week 1, but if you throw in Bush's eight receptions, the Saints duo actually received an identical number of touches. That's a trend I expect to continue, meaning Bush still should get enough chances to rack up fantasy points except against the toughest of matchups. ... This Najeh Davenport talk in Pittsburgh is ridiculous. He just joined the team and isn't the sturdiest of backs, so I hardly think he's enough of a goal-line threat to diminish Parker's appeal. Parker's still a must-start, solid No. 2 option. ... Stallworth and Winslow displayed remarkable chemistry with their quarterbacks in Week 1, and who's to say that's a trend that won't continue? Either way, at worst they're each No. 2 in line on their teams. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">AVOID THE COLD SPELL</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">The players listed below -- three each at QB, RB and WR and one TE -- have struggled enough recently that they should be avoided whenever possible.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Derrick Blaylock, RB, Jets (NE): Had 19 carries for 36 yards (1.9 AVG), 0 TD in Week 1; had 25 carries for 93 yards (3.7 AVG), 0 TD in 3 preseason G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Aaron Brooks, QB, Raiders (@BAL): He completed 6 of 14 passes for 68 yards and 0 TD and was sacked 7 times in Week 1; had 2 INT, 5 sacks in the preseason. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins (@DAL): He completed 17 of 28 passes for 163 yards and 0 TD in Week 1; had 45.7 completion PCT, 0 TD, 1 INT in preseason. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Michael Clayton, WR, Buccaneers (@ATL): He had 3 catches for 34 yards (11.3 AVG) in Week 1; and had 2 catches for 32 yards and 0 TD in 4 preseason G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns (@CIN): Had 11 carries for 27 yards (2.5 AVG), 0 TD in Week 1; had 21 carries for 81 yards (3.9 AVG) in 4 preseason G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers (@ATL): He was held without a catch and was targeted only 3 times in Week 1; had 2 catches for 28 yards in the preseason. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>J.P. Losman, QB, Bills (@MIA): He completed 15 of 23 passes for 164 yards and 0 TD in Week 1; had 2 TD, 2 INT and was sacked 9 times in 4 preseason G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Wali Lundy, RB, Texans (@IND): He had 11 carries for 32 yards (2.9 AVG) and 2 catches for minus-1 yards in Week 1; Samkon Gado acquisition hurts his value. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Samie Parker, WR, Chiefs (@DEN): He had 2 catches for 24 yards (12.0 AVG), 0 TD in Week 1; had 4 catches for 68 yards (17.0 AVG) in 4 preseason G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Alex Smith, TE, Buccaneers (@ATL): He had 2 catches for 18 yards (9.0 AVG) and 0 TD in Week 1; had 1 catch for 9 yards in 4 preseason G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: I still won't touch any of those Jets runners, not in Week 2 and probably not in any week of the season. Blaylock looked like the go-to guy on paper in Week 1, but his underwhelming numbers mean it easily could be Kevan Barlow's turn as the featured back in the near future. ... If Brooks couldn't get any protection from his offensive line against the Chargers, he's not going to get any more help against the Ravens this week. ... Steer clear of the entire Tampa Bay passing game until Chris Simms proves he can make effective use of his receivers. The Buccaneers travel to Atlanta this week, and based on the amount of pressure the Falcons put on Jake Delhomme in Week 1, I'm not expecting a rebound for Simms and Co. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">HISTORY LESSON</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">The following players have tremendous recent track records against their scheduled opponents, making them more appealing fantasy options for this week.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks (ARI): Has 467 rushYDS, 9 TD in last 3 G vs. ARI; has 150 ATT, 797 rushYDS, 66 recYDS, 14 TD in 8 career G vs. ARI. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Tiki Barber, RB, Giants (@PHI): Has 5 consecutive 100-yard efforts and 6 of 7 vs. PHI; has 166 ATT, 943 rushYDS, 396 recYDS, 3 TD in his last 8 G vs. PHI. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Tom Brady, QB, Patriots (@NYJ): Has 8-2 career record vs. NYJ, including 5-0 @Jets; Has averaged 209.3 passYDS with 10 TD, 3 INT in 9 career GS vs. NYJ </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins (BUF): Had 15 REC, 238 recYDS, 1 TD vs. BUF on 12/4/05 @Dolphin; has 43 REC, 610 recYDS, 6 TD in 9 career G vs. BUF. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Alge Crumpler, TE, Falcons (TB): He had a career-high 118 recYDS vs. TB on 11/14/04; has 15 REC, 241 recYDS, 3 TD in his last 5 G vs. TB. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Corey Dillon, RB, Patriots (@NYJ): Had 142 rushYDS, 3 TD in 2 G vs. NYJ in 2005; has 115 ATT, 431 rushYDS, 9 REC, 63 recYDS, 5 TD in last 5 G vs. NYJ. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Lee Evans, WR, Bills (@MIA): Had 5 REC, 117 recYDS, 3 TD vs. MIA on 12/4/05 @Dolphin; has 12 REC, 292 recYDS, 5 TD in his last 3 G vs. BUF. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Torry Holt, WR, Rams (@SF): Has three consecutive 10-catch, 100-receiving yard games vs. SF; has 82 REC, 1,188 recYDS, 4 TD in 14 career G vs. SF. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals (CLE): Has 3 consecutive 100-yd G vs. CLE, scoring a TD in each; and has 681 rushYDS, 80 recYDS and 6 TD in 7 career G vs. CLE. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Thomas Jones, RB, Bears (DET): Has 85 ATT, 387 rushYDS, 116 recYDS, 4 TD in his last 4 G vs. DET; averaged 106.3 rushYDS in 7 home G in 2005. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Peyton Manning, QB, Colts (HOU): He's a perfect 8-0 vs. HOU, with a passing TD in each; has averaged 262.9 passYDS with 19 TD, 4 INT in the 8 G vs. HOU. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (NYG): Has wins in 7 consecutive starts vs. NYG; had 574 passYDS, 5 TD, 0 INT and 9-42-1 rushing stats in last 2 GS vs. NYG. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Rod Smith, WR, Broncos (KC): Has 100-plus recYDS in 8 of his 16 career G vs. KC; has 19 REC, 234 recYDS, 2 TD in his last 3 G vs. KC. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles (NYG): Has 4 straight 100-yard scrimmage G vs. NYG; has 75 ATT, 374 rushYDS, 20 REC, 223 recYDS, 6 TD in last 5 G vs. NYG. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Worried about Shaun Alexander? Don't be. He regularly torches the shaky Arizona defense, and I expect he'll do it again in Week 2. ... Brady's career numbers against the Jets might not be overwhelming, but those are remarkably efficient rates. At the very least, it means he won't hurt you, and don't overlook that he has passed for two touchdowns apiece in his last four games against the Jets at Giants Stadium. ... Jones needs a bounce-back effort if he wants to hold off Cedric Benson for his starting job in Chicago, especially considering he has regularly excelled against the division-rival Lions. ... Westbrook should be a regular contender for eight receptions a game, which more than makes up for the fact that he rarely runs the ball even 15 times a contest. The Eagles will find ways to get him to contribute in an important division game. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">WEATHER REPORT</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">Up-to-the-minute conditions can be found on The Weather Channel's Web site.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Rain in the forecast (40 percent chance or worse): No games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Cold temperatures (40 degrees or lower): No games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Hot temperatures (80 degrees or higher): Redskins at Cowboys and Steelers at Jaguars could push 90, and Bills at Dolphins should be in the low 80s. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Weatherproof games (safest playing conditions): Panthers at Vikings (Metrodome), Texans at Colts (RCA Dome) and Buccaneers at Falcons (Georgia Dome). </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">KICKERS IN DOMES</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">Because kickers are, as a whole, fairly unpredictable, weather can play a big part in determining which ones to use each week. Those who kick in domes are safest from the elements and therefore least likely to hurt you, making the names below more attractive plays. Statistics listed are career numbers (G: games, FGpct: field-goal percentage; XPTpct: extra-point percentage; ppg: points per game).</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Kris Brown, Texans (@IND): 23 G, 79.4 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 5.22 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Matt Bryant, Buccaneers (@ATL): 7 G, 75.0 FGpct, 90.9 XPTpct, 6.71 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>John Kasay, Panthers (@MIN): 37 G, 87.5 FGpct, 97.1 XPTpct, 6.95 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Michael Koenen, Falcons (TB): 10 G, 50.0 FGpct, -- XPTpct, 0.30 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Ryan Longwell, Vikings (CAR): 24 G, 86.3 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.96 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Adam Vinatieri, Colts (HOU): 16 G, 94.4 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 8.88 ppg. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/13/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/13/06)

Sep. 14, 2006, 4:13 PM
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Week 2: Waiver Wire Work


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, we help you improve your fantasy roster by recommending the best players to add and drop. Here are some players you should consider who are probably available on your league's free-agent list, and others you should cut loose if you need to make extra room on your roster.
TOP ADDS
Chad Pennington, QB, Jets (Owned in 5.7 percent of ESPN.com leagues): This one might seem obvious to more savvy fantasy players, but some may have doubts whether Pennington can continue to play as well as he did in the season opener. While there certainly will be not many 300-yard outings ahead against better opponents, Pennington will at least give you respectable production if you're desperate to replace Trent Green or if you are stuck with Brett Favre or Aaron Brooks. Pennington is throwing with good accuracy and making quick, crisp reads. If he starts to put more consistent velocity on the ball, he should be a safe, but unspectacular fantasy option in the near future.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (36.8 percent owned): His Monday night performance should convince you he is a decent desperation option, and many fantasy owners are searching for at least respectable choices at quarterback. Rivers is already a good game manager, and he is making quick, smart decisions. He has displayed good accuracy so far, and even if his numbers won't jump off the stat sheet at you, he can give you decent totals. He's certainly worth considering in the second week against Tennessee, after the Titans made Pennington look very good. Playing in the AFC West means Rivers could have some good outings in high-scoring affairs. He'll be useful when the matchup is right.
Jerious Norwood, RB, Falcons (37.7 percent owned): If you're looking for a very promising flex player or a terrific backup, Norwood isn't going to be available for much longer in many leagues. If you can still add him, consider yourself lucky, and put him on your roster immediately. Norwood carried 10 times for 66 yards in his pro debut and can explode through the defensive front seven any time he touches the ball. If you don't get him now, you may never have him. Norwood doesn't get regular carries, but he makes the most of just about every opportunity.
Reggie Williams, WR, Jaguars (3.0 percent owned): Williams must prove himself now with Jimmy Smith retired, or his career could be headed in the wrong direction for good. While he only finished with 47 receiving yards against Dallas, Williams caught six balls, including a 6-yard TD reception. Williams made the tough grabs that used to turn into drops in the past. He could finally step forward as a dependable target for Byron Leftwich, so take the gamble that he'll finally improve.
Michael Jenkins, WR, Falcons (4.6 percent owned): Here's another previously enigmatic young wide receiver who could be ready to raise his game. The preseason buzz in Atlanta centered around Roddy White, and then the Falcons also acquired Ashley Lelie. Jenkins, however, was Michael Vick's best receiver against Carolina, finishing with three catches for 77 yards, including a 34-yard TD reception. If Vick continues to throw the ball well, Jenkins could emerge as his preferred wide receiver.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets (0.2 percent owned): He quietly stepped forward as a solid possession receiver in the preseason, and Cotchery caught six passes for 65 yards and a TD in the opener. Cotchery isn't going to be explosive, but he will make a lot of important receptions, especially when the Jets look much worse than they did in the first week and have to play catch-up. Cotchery is a fine add for depth and should certainly get strong consideration in leagues of 12 or more teams.
PRIME CUTS
Aaron Brooks, QB, Raiders (90.2 percent owned): He looked awful in the opener, eventually getting benched, and there could be many more bad performances ahead with a shaky offensive line and a receiving corps that looks like a mess. Brooks held onto the ball too long on Monday and he had a lot of trouble finding open receivers, plus his decision-making skills have always been in question. Don't waste time waiting for him to turn things around.
Jon Kitna, QB, Lions (58.3 percent owned): It's going to be a long season for a guy who was an overachiever at times in the past. He doesn't have the type of offensive support he had when he played well for Cincinnati, and Mike Martz can't perform miracles when he doesn't have a dependable running game or a reliable receiving crew. Kitna can play well statistically at times if he has a good skill position cast, but other than Roy Williams, who will continue to draw extra defensive attention, Kitna doesn't have much help and seems destined to struggle all year long. You can likely add a better second QB in many leagues.
Ron Dayne, RB, Texans (65.6 percent owned): Too many fantasy owners keep waiting for him to somehow rise up and put a completely disappointing career so far behind him. There still is hollow hope that he will at least become a respectable fantasy player or goal-line RB at some point. But it's time some of us stopped thinking he still can be a surprise. He may not even be a factor in Houston, where Wali Lundy and Vernand Morency aren't looking like very promising options, either. The Texans might not find a dependable RB all year long, and with only five TD runs in the last three years, there's no real reason to believe Dayne will suddenly become a reliable short-yardage ball carrier. Don't waste any more time or roster space on a guy who will never emerge as the sleeper some thought he would be.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Redskins (94.6 percent owned): I liked him as a possible sleeper during the summer, but Lloyd did nothing to impress during the preseason, and was shut out on Monday night. The Washington passing game clearly won't scare a lot of defenses, and Lloyd isn't a top option for Mark Brunell. Lloyd does have a tendency to make the pretty catch, and he should have a few decent outings, but he likely won't help you win too many fantasy games.
Jerry Porter, WR, Raiders (85.2 percent owned): Porter fell to fourth on the depth chart at WR recently in Oakland, then he was deactivated on Monday. Porter had been a bust as a starter in the past, and now he is sitting in favor of Alvis Whitted. Don't hang on to him waiting for a sudden improvement or a trade. Even if he is dealt, he'll have to acclimate himself to a new team and he does nothing to inspire much confidence as a starter anywhere else in the future. Joe Jurevicius, WR, Browns (79.2 percent owned): He is expected to miss at least four to six weeks because of broken ribs, and you shouldn't expect much when he returns. Jurevicius was a better fit in Seattle last year, where he was one of a few key pass-catchers in a balanced passing game. He'll be much less effective as a featured target in a much less effective Cleveland passing game if he gets back into the starting lineup when he comes back. Don't hold on to him waiting for late-season production. Cut him now.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/14/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/14/06)

Sep. 15, 2006, 11:29 AM
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Carroll: Steve Smith's stock dropping


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<!-- firstName = Will --><!-- lastName = Carroll -->By Will Carroll
ESPN Fantasy Games

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So have you panicked yet? We all have moments of weakness where we go off plan and think we see holes in our teams. Have you made the "Green Error," thinking that the grass is always greener under another running back's cleats? Have you fallen for the "Week One Wishcasting," multiplying some unknown wide receiver's performance by 16 and ignoring all the research you did heading into the draft? Have you had "Clicker's Envy," missing out on a waiver claim and just knowing that this was the guy who would have won you the league? There are an infinite number of errors, but at least you won't get blindsided by the worst possible way to lose your fantasy league -- not understanding the effects of injuries. You'll have to find another excuse for losing this year with the Carroll Injury Report available.
Let's get to it:
? My question is not whether Trent Green will return, it's if he should. Green was unconscious for eight minutes after the hit with some reports that he was having trouble breathing early in the "nap." Assuming that Green has no setbacks and returns later this month, the concern then becomes taking another hit and suffering another concussion. There have been studies that show NFL players almost by definition recover more quickly from head trauma. In fact, it may be one of the skills they have that allows them to play at this level. In the study I did for Pro Football Prospectus 2006, concussions are by far the most under-reported injuries in football. Green can return -- he's not showing amnesia or any balance/motion effects after the injury. However, at 36, behind a porous line and with a family at home, it could be a tough decision for the Greens.
? It will be a tough decision for Bill Cowher. Does he go with the QB who looked so good in Week 1 or does he go with the one that looked so good in last year's Super Bowl? Just two weeks after an appendectomy, Ben Roethlisberger is ready to play. He returned to practice this week and showed no problems, making all his throws and moving well, according to team sources. The concern is how he'll hold up under contact. Doctors have cleared him to play, but Cowher wants to know that Big Ben feels comfortable in the moment. "Game time decision" is often just a smoke screen, but this one is true. Be ready to go either way this Sunday morning after you've checked out the Fantasy Med Check on ESPN Motion.
? Steve Smith continues to miss practice, hoping that rest and treatment will get him back on the field sooner rather than later. If you drafted Smith in the top rounds of your draft, I'm sure whatever sooner is won't be soon enough. Smith is still listed as a game time decision with Drew Carter likely to line up opposite Keyshawn Johnson. The Panthers are hoping that Smith will be able to go on Sunday in a limited fashion, but using him in any fashion is risking a setback. Adding adrenaline to the mix isn't going to help Smith heal. Having a player healthy for 10-12 weeks is often better than a subpar 16 weeks, even from a fantasy points basis. I remain skeptical of Smith's ability to return to an elite level. Sitting around The Fantasy Show set yesterday, Matthew Berry asked me if I'd deal Steve Smith for Randy Moss. My answer was yes, I'd rather have Moss at this stage.
? The Redskins' running back this week will be Clinton Portis, though I'm sure we'll see a bit more Ladell Betts than normal. Portis had some minor soreness in his injured shoulder after the Monday game, though it didn't appear to be anything serious. The Redskins planned to hold him out of most contact drills this week to allow him to heal a bit further, so you can't read too much into the "did not practice" tag hung on Portis this week. Expect a little bit more than what you got out of Portis last week. If it means anything to you, I'm starting him in my long-term local fantasy league.
? Carnell Williams won't be facing the Ravens' rushing defense every week, but he wasn't facing them when his back first started hurting. He missed the first practice of training camp and then the problem appeared to go away. During Week 1, however, Williams took a shot that compressed his spine and restarted the pain-spasm cycle. This one can be contained, but if this continues to happen in-game, Williams' value takes a hit and Michael Pittman becomes a decent backup. Back injuries have a broad range of effects on players, from nothing to career-ending. The MRI taken on Williams this Monday was inconclusive, so there's not much to go on. This is an injury to monitor closely each week.
? Brian Westbrook is an elite-level back when healthy. The problem is that he's seldom healthy enough to hold that status. While it was a foot problem that held him back in the preseason, it's a knee problem that is costing him practice time. Reports from Philly indicate that Westbrook is showing a noticeable limp and inflammation despite being listed as probable. This indicates that Westbrook will get the start, but not carry as much of the load, a bit of a change from earlier this week when it looked like Westbrook would not only get the bulk of carries but also return punts. Any injury to Westbrook adds value to Ryan Moats, who should already be handcuffed to Westbrook.
? The Titans can't seem to make a decision. They're the guy who always needs a couple more minutes when ordering at a restaurant. Sure, they have a lot of options to choose from but none of them is great. Kerry Collins or Billy Volek? I'll just have a salad. The running back situation is even more muddled, especially if LenDale White can get healthy (and motivated.) Chris Brown and Travis Henry split duties with Brown getting more carries, but Henry finding the goal line. Henry's carries were limited by his health and the turf toe has gotten so bad that he's been walking around the Titans' facility in a protective boot. Don't expect more from Henry than last week and don't count on him always getting into the end zone, saving his point value.
? Bumps and Bruises: Tedy Bruschi should play this weekend, despite the cast on his wrist. Maybe he'll use it like Cowboy Bob Orton used to ? How did Joe Jurevicius go from missing four to six weeks with broken ribs to just one? His ribs aren't broken, according to an MRI. Instead, he has a cartilage injury that will make this a matter of pain tolerance ? Has everyone sent a bunch of the ESPN Smack Cards? They're almost as awesome as being able to say, "Hey Paul, your team sucks and you're ugly" in a national column ? T.J. Hardtospell is listed as probable while not practicing. That's the only encouraging news regarding his heel, so he's a very risky play this week. See everyone at my chat this afternoon and then on Sunday. I'll do the ESPN Radio Fantasy Focus with Eric Karabell around 8:30 a.m. ET, then the Fantasy Football Med Check for ESPN Motion later that morning. And as always, love the feedback on "The Fantasy Show."
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/14/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/14/06)

Sep. 15, 2006, 5:10 PM
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FFL: Week 2 Matchups


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Every week, we preview all of the upcoming games from a fantasy perspective. To help you with lineup decisions, we give you matchups to exploit, some key starting choices and advice on whom to leave on your bench.
Arizona at Seattle: The Cardinals' passing game was their featured attraction of Week 1, but they should run the ball better this week against a Seattle defensive line that didn't play up to its potential against Detroit. Edgerrin James will post respectable numbers, and you can expect him to score again. Kurt Warner won't be as highly productive as he was last week, but you can look for more than one TD pass as the ground game takes some pressure off him. Shaun Alexander will be a major factor as the Seahawks use the running game to try to control time of possession. Matt Hasselbeck will throw more than one TD pass as he attacks a vulnerable Arizona secondary, and Nate Burleson should challenge the Cardinals' defensive backs with more than one downfield reception. Burleson should shine, as it's too early for Deion Branch to be a factor in the offense. Start and Smile: Kurt Warner, Edgerrin James, Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Nate Burleson Watch and Worry: Seahawks defense/special teams
Buffalo at Miami: The Dolphins should rebound from a sloppy opener, as Daunte Culpepper takes quick drops and hits Randy McMichael and Marty Booker with short possession throws. The Miami passing game should be efficient, and Chris Chambers will get open for a short TD reception even if his yardage numbers are disappointing. Ronnie Brown will be the crux of the Miami offense en route to another big statistical day in which he scores more than once. Miami's defense should dominate at home, and Willis McGahee could become a nonfactor as the Bills fall behind and have to pass often in the second half. McGahee should score early, but you won't like his yardage numbers. That means turnovers for the Dolphins defense, but it also means Lee Evans will post good numbers while Buffalo plays catch-up. Start and Smile: Daunte Culpepper, Ronnie Brown, Marty Booker, Randy McMichael, Lee Evans Watch and Worry: Willis McGahee
Carolina at Minnesota: The Vikings should continue to run the ball well, as the Panthers will be without MLB Dan Morgan (concussion). Chester Taylor will have another solid outing, as he bangs the ball up the middle and catches some swing passes from Brad Johnson. It won't be an outstanding statistical day for Johnson, though, as the Carolina secondary limits deep target Troy Williamson, and Johnson could have trouble finding open receivers quite often. Jake Delhomme should perform better this week, and Keyshawn Johnson should be more of a presence in the passing game than he was in the first week. A solid passing game should open up some wide running lanes for DeShaun Foster in the second half, and he should deliver good yardage totals even if he doesn't score. Start and Smile: Chester Taylor, Jake Delhomme, Keyshawn Johnson Watch and Worry: Brad Johnson, Troy Williamson
Cleveland at Cincinnati: The Browns will come at the Bengals with heavy doses of Reuben Droughns, as they try to keep the potent Cincinnati offense off the field as much as possible while trying to exploit what still is an unreliable Bengals run defense. Droughns will take pressure off Charlie Frye, who will lock on to Kellen Winslow Jr., which is good for his tight end's numbers, but also means sacks and turnovers for the Bengals defense as Frye can't depend on his wide receivers. Braylon Edwards could get loose for a score, but he won't catch too many balls overall. The Bengals can run the ball very effectively also, and Rudi Johnson will have another very good outing as Cincinnati tries not to overwork Carson Palmer yet. The Bengals QB will post adequate, but not outstanding totals. Start and Smile: Reuben Droughns, Kellen Winslow Jr. Rudi Johnson, Bengals D/ST Watch and Worry: Charlie Frye, Dennis Northcutt
Detroit at Chicago: The Detroit offense will look lifeless again. The Bears front four will bottle up Kevin Jones early, and Jon Kitna will be forced into many adverse passing situations, which means sacks and turnovers for a Bears defense that will rule the day. Roy Williams could pad his totals late in the game during some futile drives to get on the scoreboard, but Mike Furrey will prove he wasn't worth a free agent pickup after a decent opener. The Lions will also be physical up front, and Thomas Jones will have to work hard for his yardage. Rex Grossman won't be able to move the ball consistently, and Chicago will have to build their lead via defense and the foot of Robbie Gould. This won't be a pretty one to watch, and the final box score won't look too good, either. Start and Smile: Bears D/ST Watch and Worry: Jon Kitna, Kevin Jones, Rex Grossman
Houston at Indianapolis: The Texans will throw often, as they won't get enough production out of their running game. Wali Lundy will be stuffed early and often, and Samkon Gado won't be a statistical factor yet even if he gets involved often in the offense this week. David Carr will put the ball up a lot, which means more than one TD pass but also more than one interception. Andre Johnson will have a big statistical day and will score at least once. Peyton Manning will easily throw at will against the Texans, as he will get great protection. Look for his tight ends to get involved, and Dallas Clark will be a good starter this week. RBs Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai will finish with adequate numbers as the Colts also run the ball effectively in the second half. Addai should also add some decent receiving numbers. Start and Smile: Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark Watch and Worry: Wali Lundy, Samkon Gado
Kansas City at Denver: Jake Plummer will rebound this week with at least two TD passes, as the Broncos put an ugly opener behind them. Javon Walker won't make more than few possession grabs, but Rod Smith will continue to show that age is no deterrent to him. Tatum Bell will celebrate being named the starter with some long runs in the second half. Larry Johnson will get lots of carries, but won't finish with outstanding rushing numbers, as the Denver defense focuses on him heavily in the first half. Damon Huard will be conservative early, but will make some costly turnovers when the Chiefs fall far behind and have to play catch-up in the second half. Start and Smile: Jake Plummer, Tatum Bell, Rod Smith Watch and Worry: Eddie Kennison
New England at N.Y. Jets: The Jets will come down from their opening week highs, as their running game won't challenge the Patriots. Evan if Kevan Barlow scores, his yardage totals will be disappointing. Chad Pennington will be forced into several third-and-long situations, and expect him to struggle. Laveranues Coles will make a lot of grabs, but Pennington is a big risk for more than one turnover. Tom Brady will overcome his lack of established WRs and will still spread the ball around well enough and throw more than one TD pass. Laurence Maroney will deliver some highlight-reel type runs, and expect the great-looking rookie to find the end zone. Start and Smile: Tom Brady. Laurence Maroney, Laveranues Coles Watch and Worry: Chad Pennington
New Orleans at Green Bay: Even though the Saints will be without fullback Mike Karney (calf), they should run the ball well. Reggie Bush will have a very big day and is major threat to score on a long run or reception. Deuce McAllister should score from short range. Drew Brees won't have to throw enough to have an outstanding statistical day, but look for him to hook up with Joe Horn for a score. Ahman Green will prove that last week's 100-yard outing was an illusion created in garbage time. Brett Favre will have to throw a lot, and that could mean more than one TD pass, but expect more than one interception, also. Expect rookie Greg Jennings to catch one of the Favre scoring tosses. Start and Smile: Reggie Bush, Joe Horn. Donald Driver Watch and Worry: Ahman Green
New York Giants at Philadelphia: Eli Manning could have his first disappointing statistical outing of the season against an Eagles defense that looks a lot better than it did last year. Expect Manning to get intercepted more than once, as Amani Toomer fails to get open enough and Manning forces the ball in the direction of Plaxico Burress when under pressure. Tiki Barber, however, will still be unstoppable, and Jeremy Shockey will score. Donte' Stallworth might be the most overrated player in fantasy football right now. The Giants will quiet him and prove Stallworth is still Mr. Inconsistency. But Donovan McNabb will locate other receivers enough to finish with good totals. Start and Smile: Tiki Barber, Donovan McNabb Watch and Worry: Eli Manning, Amani Toomer, Donte' Stallworth.
Oakland at Baltimore: This looks like the mismatch of the week on paper. But the Raiders should score once or twice even if they get blown out, and Randy Moss should catch one TD pass. LaMont Jordan will have disappointing yardage totals again, but he could finish with respectable fantasy totals as he scores on a short TD run, even if it's while playing catch-up. Baltimore should dominate with the defense and the running game, and Steve McNair won't have to get overworked. He'll likely throw more than one TD pass, especially to old partner Derrick Mason, but don't look for outstanding yardage numbers. The Ravens simply won't need him to air it out because Jamal Lewis will pick up large chunks of yardage and the defense will score at least once. Start and Smile: Jamal Lewis, Derrick Mason Watch and Worry: It's obvious you will worry about any Raiders that you start.
St. Louis at San Francisco: The Rams will concentrate on stopping Frank Gore early, but he'll fight for his yardage and will still finish with decent totals and a TD. Alex Smith will play conservatively, and you shouldn't look for a repeat of his opening week performance. He should still find WR Antonio Bryant for a score. The 49ers will have a lot of trouble containing Steven Jackson, who will rumble into the San Francisco secondary often and should be good for more than one TD run. Marc Bulger will have time to throw, and Torry Holt will catch a TD pass, while Isaac Bruce will catch a few key passes, also. Start and Smile: Antonio Bryant, Steven Jackson, Torry Holt Watch and Worry:
Tampa Bay at Atlanta: Injuries are still an issue on the Tampa Bay offensive line, and Chris Simms will be in for a long day without much support in the game or consistent pass blocking. But Joey Galloway should bounce back statistically as he stacks up some numbers when the Buccaneers simply try to get on the scoreboard late in the game. The Falcons will carve up a Tampa Bay defense that spends too much time on the field. Warrick Dunn should have a very good day, and Jerious Norwood should perform well enough to be a quality flex option this week. Michael Vick will also rip off a few sizable runs in the second half. Start and Smile: Warrick Dunn, Jerious Norwood Watch and Worry: Chris Simms, Michael Clayton
Tennessee at San Diego: Kerry Collins will continue to look rusty, and the Chargers will stifle Chris Brown early, forcing the Tennessee QB into passing situations that will lead to sacks and turnovers. Collins will be hit often, and Drew Bennett won't get the ball enough. LaDainian Tomlinson will have a huge day, and Philip Rivers will continue to manage the offense well. Rivers should be good for two TD passes, one to veteran Keenan McCardell, and another to the always dependable Antonio Gates. Of course, the Chargers defense will dominate a weak opponent for the second consecutive game. Start and Smile: Philip Rivers, Keenan McCardell Watch and Worry: Kerry Collins, Chris Brown, Drew Bennett
Washington at Dallas: With his job being threatened and top Washington cover corner Shawn Springs (abdomen) unlikely to play, Drew Bledsoe should throw more than one TD pass en route to a good statistical day. The Redskins might be focused on containing Terrell Owens, but Terry Glenn should burn them with a few long gains. The Cowboys will have trouble containing Santana Moss again, and Clinton Portis should finish with good fantasy totals as he finds the end zone again. Mark Brunell should be good for at least one TD pass, but don't look for very good yardage totals. Start and Smile: Drew Bledsoe, Terry Glenn, Santana Moss Watch and Worry: Brandon Lloyd Pittsburgh at Jacksonville: The Jaguars are battling injuries on the defensive line, and the Steelers should be able to move the ball on offense. Willie Parker will fight for some tough yardage early, but should break loose for some long runs in the second half. Hines Ward isn't in top form because of hamstring problems, but he remains a dependable target and should find the end zone. Meanwhile, Byron Leftwich will have trouble finding open receivers and will suffer through a night of big hits and incompletions. Fred Taylor won't find much open running room and will finish with mediocre totals. Start and Smile: Willie Parker, Hines Ward Watch and Worry: Byron Leftwich, Fred Taylor
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/14/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/14/06)

Friday, September 15, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Stopgap Seven: Week 2


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->The rough-and-tumble NFL can take a toll on your fantasy team's depth, so if you're looking particularly thin at a position, consider the following players who are a little more under-the-radar as starters. (I'll list my Stopgap Seven each Friday all season.)
Cedric Benson, RB, Bears (DET): The split in carries between him and Thomas Jones in Week 1 (Jones 21, Benson 11) was a lot closer than I thought, and as the year progresses, Benson will only see his role increase. This is a prime week for him to step up.
Chargers defense (TEN): LB Shawn Merriman had three of San Diego's nine sacks in Week 1, and it's not like Tennessee should fare much better than Oakland did in that game. After all, the Jets -- the Jets! -- picked off QB Kerry Collins three times in Week 1.
Mark Clayton, WR, Ravens (OAK): Oakland's secondary is banged up and could be missing a few players in Week 2, but would it matter if the entire defense was healthy, anyway? Clayton has a cushy matchup in this game, so look to him as a No. 3 or 4 option.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns (@CIN): I can't see Cleveland doing anything other than falling behind by the half, abandoning the run and doing nothing but chucking it to big-play receivers like Edwards. This is a game where a big TD catch could happen.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers (NO): His Week 1 statistics might have taken off much of the sleeper luster, but before you write Jennings off, be aware QB Brett Favre targeted him six times, which isn't bad. Jennings could have that many receptions in Week 2.
Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots (@NYJ): I've been saying all week I'd pick Corey Dillon first, and I still would. But this is the kind of game in which New England could dominate, then run down the clock. Expect enough carries for Maroney to be a standout.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (TEN): First and foremost, San Diego is a run-based offense, and that's not going to change, not this year. But Marty Schottenheimer picks Rivers' passing plays well. Tennessee won't give him headaches whenever he gets to throw. <STYLE> .headshot { visibility: visible; padding: 0px 5px 4px 0px; float: left;} .bottom { font: 10px verdana, san-serif; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; background: #006633; padding: 5px; } </STYLE>BETWEEN THE LINES
Among the players I'm avoiding in Week 2: QB Aaron Brooks' owners probably don't need confirmation that he's a must-sit, but here it is anyway. He's facing a Baltimore defense that's coming off a shutout, and he'll be missing LT Robert Gallery. Could it get any worse for Brooks? Yes, it really could. ... RB Carnell Williams is battling a back problem and his team's passing game isn't doing a reliable enough job to open up consistent running lanes for him. Facing the red-hot Falcons defense, he's in line for a second straight disappointing effort. ... RB Fred Taylor has an impressive history against the Steelers, but in those days, he was a lot healthier, sturdier player. These Steelers should do a fine job wearing him down early, forcing the Jaguars to try to beat them through the air. ... WR Joey Galloway is a talented receiver, for sure, but until QB Chris Simms proves he can get him the ball consistently and effectively, Galloway is a risky fantasy option facing better defenses. Atlanta's qualifies, after its shut-down effort against the potent Carolina offense. ... I'm too worried about the impact of QB Damon Huard on the Kansas City deep passing game to trust WR Eddie Kennison on Sunday. I think Kennison, first and foremost, is the one who will suffer statistically while Trent Green is out, so if you have the depth to do it, play it safe and reserve him until Huard proves he can get him the ball. ... The Buccaneers' defense is coming off a dreadful performance against the Ravens, and now it draws the Falcons, a team that ran the ball 47 times for 252 yards in Week 1. Atlanta's speedy offense could pose a real problem to Tampa Bay, which could very well have a second straight miserable effort.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Kevin Jones, RB, Lions
14 carries for 35 yards and 0 TD

One of 2005's most disappointing performers, Jones did nothing to re-establish his former breakout potential in Week 1. Sure, it wasn't the best of matchups, facing the underrated Seattle defense, but with Detroit hanging in there the entire game, one would think that Jones might have done better than this, perhaps earning a bigger cut of the workload. Instead, he was actually more effective as a pass catcher -- he had five receptions for 45 yards -- than as a runner, which is a surprise because he lacks the reputation of a player we could expect to get that involved in the receiving game each week. Jones still isn't getting much help from his offensive line, and it's a concern that he's in a pass-based offense, meaning when the matchup is poor, he's going to be a risky play even in a flex spot. Week 2 is one of those weeks, as Jones faces the dominant Bears defense, a team that limited him to 26 carries, 88 yards and a score combined in two games in 2005. Avoid him, and if you own him, be prepared for the fact that he's no more than a No. 2 fantasy RB, one who should assume a cozy seat on your bench going up defenses like Chicago's.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/15/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/15/06)

posted: Friday, September 15, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL

So have you recovered from Week 1 yet? I've seen owners who sneaked out 50-49 wins bragging about the fantasy Super Bowl they're destined to win, and seen others score better than 120 points who lost and think they're toast. Hey, that's the game. Better to be lucky than good, right?

On Tuesday I was asked by way too many people how my teams had done. Well, the three teams I have Shaun Alexander on all lost. One team lost because that Tampa Bay defense I foolishly activated scored negative points. In another, I was lucky enough to have selected the running back trifecta in the first three rounds of Carnell Williams, Willis McGahee and Reuben Droughns. That's three legit picks in those rounds of a 12-team draft, and no touchdowns and barely 100 yards. Wonderful.
So some teams won, others lost. Think NFL teams that opened with a loss are terribly worried? Neither am I. Plus, I'm particularly pleased about the squeaker I won when I left Clinton Portis in the lineup, and overcame getting nothing from Jake Delhomme and Cadillac. Love that Heath Miller! Um, yeah, of course that 87-yarder was a touchdown! Sure, looked fine to me.
Alright, let's skip the long intro and get to the Week 2 games.
Dolphins 21, Bills 14: J.P. Losman did not play badly in a Week 1 loss to New England, he just made a bad play to lose the game when he held on to the ball too long on the safety. No, his stats were nothing special, and they might not be much this week as well. I wouldn't start him, but the point is, he is not holding back Lee Evans or McGahee. Both of them should perform better this week.
Give Charlie Batch credit for having a big game against Miami on opening night. Sure, the Pittsburgh system was partially responsible for that, but Willie Parker running wild was no fluke. McGahee gets to 100 yards in this one and Evans catches a touchdown.
Ronnie Brown should do a lot better than 30 yards as well, and should get in the end zone again. As for Daunte Culpepper, surely the Steelers are a top defense and the Bills aren't, but Culpepper's problem was himself. He should do better, but expect the interceptions to be a problem all season. Why do I like Miami here? The Dolphins are 25-6 at home in August/September since 1987. That's a solid sample size.
? Worthy plays: McGahee, Evans, Brown, Culpepper, Chris Chambers
? Not worth it: Losman
Vikings 23, Panthers 13: Expect more of the same problems for the Panthers if Steve Smith does not play. As of now, we just don't know, but it was pretty clear in Week 1 that he really does mean that much to the team. Even if he plays, it's not wise to expect a big game. The comparisons with what Terrell Owens and Portis did last week just aren't valid. Owens was healthy -- certainly not recovering from two hamstring pulls -- while Portis had a shoulder issue and was not overused. Try not to play Smith in fantasy if you can avoid it.
As a result, it's hard to expect Carolina to have much success moving the ball, especially in a tough place against what appears a solid defense. DeShaun Foster isn't a great play again, and while I wouldn't give up on him or Jake Delhomme, you should use someone else.
Brad Johnson was impressive in the Monday win over Washington. Last season he was notably effective in home games, with a passer rating above 100 in three of his four wins (out of five games). Johnson might be as good a play as Delhomme. And Chester Taylor should always be in your lineup, with Troy Williamson a good No. 3 fantasy wide receiver.
? Worthy plays: Johnson, Taylor, Williamson, Vikes D
? Not worth it: Delhomme, Foster, S.Smith
Bengals 34, Browns 10: Blowout city in this one, with the Browns struggling to move the ball and Rudi Johnson having a field day. The last three times Rudi has run on Cleveland, he has totaled 497 yards. That's enough for me. Rudi goes wild and Carson Palmer doesn't have to do much, though he does get into the end zone. This is also a smart time to use the Bengals defense.
Poor Charlie Frye. It might be a long season. Reuben Droughns should get more yards than last week and maybe he does what Ahman Green did against the Bears, though he's going to have a tough time getting touchdowns.
? Worthy plays: R.Johnson, Chad Johnson, Palmer, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals D
? Not worth it: All Browns
Bears 20, Lions 3: More of the same from last week. Yeah, I thought Jon Kitna and Kevin Jones would be better this season, or at least worth owning, but we have to wait until Week 3 against the Packers. That should be more exciting and even. I just don't understand Jones. He was so good for that stretch in 2004, I really expected more. Maybe next week he delivers it.
As for the situation with Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson, one can make the case they each blew a golden opportunity last week against the Packers. Jones started and got more carries, but was just average. Benson looks healthy, but didn't do much with his touches. What do the Bears want to do? Bears fans tell me the Bears aren't really in love with Benson, they just want someone to take care of the ball, pile up the yards and score once in a while. So this battle rages on this weekend, with Jones still leading. If you have 'em both, play Jones.
Is Rex Grossman a fantasy viable quarterback? Not yet. Chicago's defense returns a Kitna pick and Jones gets the other touchdown.
? Worthy plays: T. Jones, Muhsin Muhammad, Bears D
? Not worth it: Grossman, all Lions
Colts 27, Texans 9: Peyton Manning has never lost to this team, going 8-0. Do you really think this is the week it happens? Nobody who owns Manning would ever sit him anyway. But the running backs? Now, that's interesting. I'd choose Dominic Rhodes over Joseph Addai yet again. In fact, I think Rhodes has a big game and distances himself from Addai.
What about the Houston running game? I don't expect to see Sam Gado play much, if at all, this week, so Wali Lundy gets his chance. I wouldn't play him this week. I rank him near Kevin Jones for the week. Enough said? Don't play David Carr or the receivers either. They'll have better days.
? Worthy plays: All Colts
? Not worth it: All Texans
Packers 17, Saints 16: Hey, not only do I have the Packers scoring points this week, they will win! Full disclosure, I thought they would score against the Bears, but I clearly overestimated the Packers offense. As many a Brett Favre fan has pointed out to me this week, Favre did not play badly, he just didn't get to throw enough and his final stats were sullied by poor fourth quarter decision making. Give him a touchdown pass and only one interception in this game, and a desperately needed win. Ahman Green runs for 75 yards and gets into the end zone, by the way.
Reggie Bush is the real deal, and it's nice to see a pro athlete not complaining about how many carries he gets. Deuce McAllister still gets more, though Bush does more with his touches because he catches the ball and returns kicks. Play them both in this one, along with Drew Brees. Joe Horn produces some stats as well.
? Worthy plays: Favre, Green, Donald Driver, Brees, Horn, Bush, McAllister
? Not worth it: Greg Jennings, either D

Eagles 20, Giants 17: This is one of the games of the day. With the way Philly looked all preseason and against a bad Texans team, it might be hard to tell, but the Eagles are ready for this, especially at home. Look for Donovan McNabb to throw a lot, probably one touchdown pass and close to 300 yards. Brian Westbrook is a safe bet for at least 50 yards on the ground and in the air. I'm giving Correll Buckhalter a short touchdown run, and next week he becomes a popular fantasy pickup.
Eli Manning did fine against his big brother, but ultimately a few bad decisions (and the officials) doomed the team. Manning should do OK in this game, but the real good play is Tiki Barber. If he tops 100 yards against Philly, he will break the record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games against one team, since 1970. Currently he shares the record with Earl Campbell (vs. Bengals), Walter Payton (vs. Packers), Emmitt Smith (vs. Redskins), Barry Sanders (vs. Bucs), Stephen Davis (vs. Cards) and Shaun Alexander (vs. Rams, currently). Tiki does it again, but does not score. This might become a theme. Give Eli and Brandon Jacobs a touchdown each in a game that is decided late by a David Akers kick.
? Worthy plays: Pretty much everyone
? Not worth it: nobody
Ravens 24, Raiders 3: How can you argue this one? So, I gave the Raiders some points. When's the last time a team went scoreless its first two weeks of the season? Sit all your Raiders for this game. Don't play LaMont Jordan either. I know, I know, we preach patience, and for Jordan I do think he'll get his numbers at some point. But look at that Baltimore defense. It's almost not fair that Aaron Brooks has to see Ray Lewis. Hopefully he'll have Shawne Merriman surgically removed from his leg by then.
The way San Diego was able to torture Oakland with the running game, one would think the Ravens will do the same thing. Jamal Lewis tops 100 yards and Musa Smith gets 50 and a touchdown since he'll get two quarters of trash time. Steve McNair should be a good play, but I think has a line similar to Philip Rivers and doesn't need to throw much.
? Worthy plays: McNair, Lewis, Smith, Ravens D
? Not worth it: All Raiders, Mike Anderson
Buccaneers 17, Falcons 14: I'm totally going against the grain on this one. Tampa Bay looked terrible last week. Atlanta looked terrific. It seems so obvious. But this is a Jon Gruden team, and think about how many games last week didn't go the way you expected. Well, I'm taking the Bucs with the points, and see an outright win. Good teams don't lay eggs back to back weeks. Cadillac Williams shares carries with Michael Pittman and neither does much, and while Chris Simms is more careful where he throws the ball, that doesn't make him a worthy play. This Falcons defense is not Baltimore's. So it's not necessarily a good game for fantasy owners.
Michael Vick didn't have to throw much in Week 1, as Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood did most of the work. I'd still play Dunn in this one, obviously, but Vick is just a so-so play. Yes, I am aware what he did to the Bucs last season. But then again, the Panthers owned Atlanta last season, and look at what occurred.
? Worthy plays: Dunn
? Not worth it: everyone else
Seahawks 24, Cardinals 21: I'll give Seattle another close win, but Arizona has a legit offense and should keep the game close. Shaun Alexander is always a good play, and look for a nice bounceback game with more than 100 yards and two touchdowns. Alexander has 14 touchdowns in eight games against the Cardinals, and always runs for 100 yards on division opponents. Matt Hasselbeck contributes 250 yards and a score as well.
We know Kurt Warner will have more success throwing the ball than Kitna did, and Edgerrin James will be better than Kevin Jones. But how much better? Stick with Warner, figuring he'll be throwing a lot, flirts with 300 yards, gets two touchdowns. James is the one who isn't a terrific play, but if you have him, how can you sit him?
? Worthy plays: Alexander, Hasselbeck, Darrell Jackson, Seahawks D, Warner, James, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin
? Not worth it: Deion Branch, Nate Burleson, Cards D
49ers 28, Rams 24: How about an upset here? You think the Rams are so good because they shut down Jake Plummer, I know you do. You think the Rams have a steady defense and can contend with Seattle for the division title. Well, I don't. San Francisco moved the ball well at Arizona, which might not say much, but I think the Niners can do it again. I'm not sold on Alex Smith quite yet, but I soon might be. Frank Gore is a definite play, and so is Antonio Bryant. If he's still available in your league, go get him. Maybe that's what Smith really needed, a few threats. Vernon Davis certainly is.
Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson moved the Rams into field goal position six times in Week 1. That might seem impressive, but they didn't get in the end zone. They should have more success against San Fran, but they lost twice to them last season. I'm not buying into the Rams just yet, not in this road game against a hungry team.
? Worthy plays: Smith, Gore, Bryant, Davis, Bulger, Jackson, Torry Holt
? Not worth it: defenses
Broncos 31, Chiefs 17: Good luck finding someone to go with Damon Huard this week. It's not that I think Huard will fail miserably, but the Broncos had an ugly Week 1 loss, Plummer was terrible, and I see good things in this matchup back in Denver. First of all, Plummer should be better. He'll have some fun with old man Rod Smith. Not sure Javon Walker will do much. Tatum Bell starts over Mike Bell, it's a good time to take Tatum and play him. He's good for 100 yards and a touchdown, at least.
Larry Johnson should never be removed from a fantasy lineup. I think he'll top 100 yards and score at least once. Huard will move the team, but he might not be put in the position to throw much. Try not to play his wide receivers. As for Tony Gonzalez, he's exactly the option Huard will be looking at, and you should never sit him anyway. He'll get his numbers no matter who's slinging the ball.
? Worthy plays: Plummer, T. Bell, R. Smith, Walker, Broncos D, Johnson, Tony Gonzalez.
? Not worth it: Eddie Kennison, Mike Bell
Patriots 16, Jets 14: This is not an easy game for Tom Brady and friends. Let's not overrate the Jets from last week, but they do have enough defense to compete with a Patriots team that struggled against Buffalo, and clearly has some internal issues after the Branch trade. Look for a low-scoring affair, and the Pats come from behind in the fourth quarter. You should play Brady, but I don't expect much. Hopefully he won't let the Branch trade affect his play again. I'll give Corey Dillon the New England touchdown, on a short run, and say he has more yards and carries than rookie Laurence Maroney.
The Jets shouldn't win more than six or seven games this season, but if Kevan Barlow could reproduce his 2003 numbers, it would be possible. Chad Pennington should top 250 yards and make his receivers fantasy options, but it's up to Barlow to make defenses honest.
? Worthy plays: Brady, Dillon, Pennington, Laveranues Coles
? Not worth it: Maroney, Jerricho Cotchery, Pats receivers, Jets running backs
Chargers 28, Titans 7: I really like that Chargers defense, even though the Raiders weren't much of a threat. Tennessee doesn't have much of a running game, and San Diego is well acquainted with Kerry Collins. I don't think this is much of a game. Philip Rivers might have to throw 16 times instead of 11, like Monday, but San Diego does it with defense and the run game. Might not be a bad game to go with Michael Turner.
? Worthy plays: LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Chargers D
? Not worth it: Rivers, Chargers receivers, any Titans
Redskins 24, Cowboys 21: This will be fun game since the NFC East will automatically have an 0-2 team. I think it will be Dallas. The Redskins really could have won that Vikings game, and Clinton Portis is, by most accounts, ready to handle a larger load this week. I'm definitely playing him, and figure Mark Brunell does enough to keep the game close and drive the team to another late field goal try, which John Hall makes this time. I don't think Brunell has a big day, though Santana Moss might. Dallas couldn't handle him last season in that Monday night game, when he scored twice late.
Chester Taylor got 88 yards on Washington, but he needed 31 carries. I don't think Julius Jones will have a lot of success, but he's worth using on the chance he does what he did last week. Some Dallas fans have argued that Marion Barber really isn't in the equation at all, but I disagree. He's getting the goal line carries. Drew Bledsoe should play better and get in the end zone twice, with Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn having good days.
? Worthy plays: Portis, S. Moss, Brunell, Bledsoe, J. Jones, T. Owens, Glenn
? Not worth it: defenses
Jaguars 23, Steelers 17: Jacksonville is at home and certainly capable of matching the Steelers on prime time. Yes, Pittsburgh was impressive with Charlie Batch picking apart the Dolphins, and Willie Parker topped 100 yards. I'll stick with Parker again, and will do so every week, but Jacksonville puts a lot of pressure on quarterbacks, and I don't see Batch, or recuperating Ben Roethlisberger, if he convinces everyone he can play, having success.
Fred Taylor shouldn't find a lot of holes, but he's a decent flex option. He's going to get the carries. I think Byron Leftwich actually avoids the mistakes Culpepper did, and despite the aura around the Steelers' defense, I could see a decent game, with 250 yards and two touchdowns. I wouldn't make Reggie Williams or Matt Jones definite starts, but they'll get their catches. Hey, the Jags won 12 games last season, more than Pittsburgh, and allowed only 11 more points! This is not much of an upset.
? Worthy plays: Parker, Taylor, Leftwich, Hines Ward, Heath Miller
? Not worth it: Pittsburgh's QB, Jaguars WRs OK, that's it for Week 2. Enjoy it, and remember: don't panic, it's only one week
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/14/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/14/06)

Friday, September 15, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Stopgap Seven: Week 2


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->The rough-and-tumble NFL can take a toll on your fantasy team's depth, so if you're looking particularly thin at a position, consider the following players who are a little more under-the-radar as starters. (I'll list my Stopgap Seven each Friday all season.)
Cedric Benson, RB, Bears (DET): The split in carries between him and Thomas Jones in Week 1 (Jones 21, Benson 11) was a lot closer than I thought, and as the year progresses, Benson will only see his role increase. This is a prime week for him to step up.
Chargers defense (TEN): LB Shawn Merriman had three of San Diego's nine sacks in Week 1, and it's not like Tennessee should fare much better than Oakland did in that game. After all, the Jets -- the Jets! -- picked off QB Kerry Collins three times in Week 1.
Mark Clayton, WR, Ravens (OAK): Oakland's secondary is banged up and could be missing a few players in Week 2, but would it matter if the entire defense was healthy, anyway? Clayton has a cushy matchup in this game, so look to him as a No. 3 or 4 option.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns (@CIN): I can't see Cleveland doing anything other than falling behind by the half, abandoning the run and doing nothing but chucking it to big-play receivers like Edwards. This is a game where a big TD catch could happen.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers (NO): His Week 1 statistics might have taken off much of the sleeper luster, but before you write Jennings off, be aware QB Brett Favre targeted him six times, which isn't bad. Jennings could have that many receptions in Week 2.
Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots (@NYJ): I've been saying all week I'd pick Corey Dillon first, and I still would. But this is the kind of game in which New England could dominate, then run down the clock. Expect enough carries for Maroney to be a standout.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (TEN): First and foremost, San Diego is a run-based offense, and that's not going to change, not this year. But Marty Schottenheimer picks Rivers' passing plays well. Tennessee won't give him headaches whenever he gets to throw. <STYLE> .headshot { visibility: visible; padding: 0px 5px 4px 0px; float: left;} .bottom { font: 10px verdana, san-serif; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; background: #006633; padding: 5px; } </STYLE>BETWEEN THE LINES
Among the players I'm avoiding in Week 2: QB Aaron Brooks' owners probably don't need confirmation that he's a must-sit, but here it is anyway. He's facing a Baltimore defense that's coming off a shutout, and he'll be missing LT Robert Gallery. Could it get any worse for Brooks? Yes, it really could. ... RB Carnell Williams is battling a back problem and his team's passing game isn't doing a reliable enough job to open up consistent running lanes for him. Facing the red-hot Falcons defense, he's in line for a second straight disappointing effort. ... RB Fred Taylor has an impressive history against the Steelers, but in those days, he was a lot healthier, sturdier player. These Steelers should do a fine job wearing him down early, forcing the Jaguars to try to beat them through the air. ... WR Joey Galloway is a talented receiver, for sure, but until QB Chris Simms proves he can get him the ball consistently and effectively, Galloway is a risky fantasy option facing better defenses. Atlanta's qualifies, after its shut-down effort against the potent Carolina offense. ... I'm too worried about the impact of QB Damon Huard on the Kansas City deep passing game to trust WR Eddie Kennison on Sunday. I think Kennison, first and foremost, is the one who will suffer statistically while Trent Green is out, so if you have the depth to do it, play it safe and reserve him until Huard proves he can get him the ball. ... The Buccaneers' defense is coming off a dreadful performance against the Ravens, and now it draws the Falcons, a team that ran the ball 47 times for 252 yards in Week 1. Atlanta's speedy offense could pose a real problem to Tampa Bay, which could very well have a second straight miserable effort.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Kevin Jones, RB, Lions
14 carries for 35 yards and 0 TD

One of 2005's most disappointing performers, Jones did nothing to re-establish his former breakout potential in Week 1. Sure, it wasn't the best of matchups, facing the underrated Seattle defense, but with Detroit hanging in there the entire game, one would think that Jones might have done better than this, perhaps earning a bigger cut of the workload. Instead, he was actually more effective as a pass catcher -- he had five receptions for 45 yards -- than as a runner, which is a surprise because he lacks the reputation of a player we could expect to get that involved in the receiving game each week. Jones still isn't getting much help from his offensive line, and it's a concern that he's in a pass-based offense, meaning when the matchup is poor, he's going to be a risky play even in a flex spot. Week 2 is one of those weeks, as Jones faces the dominant Bears defense, a team that limited him to 26 carries, 88 yards and a score combined in two games in 2005. Avoid him, and if you own him, be prepared for the fact that he's no more than a No. 2 fantasy RB, one who should assume a cozy seat on your bench going up defenses like Chicago's.
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</TD><TD colSpan=5>Michael Vick, QB, Falcons: He passed for a combined 467 yards and 4 TD in 2 G vs. TB in 2005</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>passYDS</TD><TD>passTD</TD><TD>INT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>140</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>48</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>17</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins: He averaged 4.6 yards per carry with a TD in 2 G vs. BUF in 2005</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>ATT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>15</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>30</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>32</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>18</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><!-- <tr><td align=center bgcolor="#555555" COLSPAN=6 class="stathead" colspan="6"> </td></tr> --><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys: He has 27 touchdown receptions in his last 29 regular-season games</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>6</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>80</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>12</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>14</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants: He had 10 receptions for 107 yards in his last game vs. PHI (Week 14, 2005)</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>59</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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Lineup Shuffling
? The Seahawks are likely to dress WR Deion Branch in Week 2, as he was heavily involved in Thursday's practice and might be up to the task of adjusting to the Seattle offensive system by Sunday. He's too risky to use in fantasy leagues, even against the Cardinals, but his presence will make WRs Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram less attractive options. Give Branch a week to show you what he can do before using him.
? The Texans plan to have RBs Wali Lundy, Ron Dayne and Samkon Gado all active for Week 2, which is a terrible thing for fantasy owners. Lundy will likely get the start, though it'll be a straight committee approach, with perhaps the hot hand getting the bulk of the work as the game progresses. Considering Houston faces Indianapolis, a team that will almost assuredly mount an early lead and eliminate the Texans' running game, none of these three belong in any fantasy lineups on Sunday.
? The Raiders are expected to list WR Jerry Porter as inactive for the second consecutive game in Week 2. Alvis Whitted and Ronald Curry will again assume the Nos. 2 and 3 WR spots for Oakland, though neither faces a good matchup against the Ravens. If you're a Porter owner, it's OK to drop him in shallow formats with small benches. ? Thu Box | Wed Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/14/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/14/06)

Sep. 15, 2006, 12:54 PM
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Week 2: Dissecting the Saints' lines


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By Jason Langendorf
ESPN Fantasy Games

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If any town deserves for life to cut it some slack and serve up a little NFL postseason football (not to mention a fantasy gem or two), it's New Orleans. In case you haven't switched on the TV or opened a newspaper in the last six months, plenty of folks in the Big Easy are little or no better off than they were in the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina. A diversion, maybe something vaguely resembling hope -- that was all they asked for.
And being a jaded, crusty sportswriter, I could come up with only one thing: the poor souls were getting screwed again. Sure, the Saints signed QB Drew Brees and drafted Reggie Bush -- potential franchise players who, at the very least, would be sturdy building blocks.
But I have eyes. And guess what they saw? Jammal Brown, Jamar Nesbit, Jeff Faine, Jahri Evans and Jon Stinchcomb -- also known as the motley front-five blocking crew in New Orleans' offense. Having blown up their offensive line in the offseason -- even moving Brown, a rookie success at right tackle in 2005, over to the left side -- the Saints seemingly were conceding '06 to start laying the foundation for their future.
So I wasn't exactly tingling with anticipation when I sat down to watch the New Orleans-Cleveland tilt on opening day. The idea was to take inventory of Brees' shoulder (which required offseason surgery) and hopefully witness a slice of history in Bush's NFL regular-season debut. As throw-ins, I'd confirm the sorry states of the Saints' offensive line and defense.
Except that I couldn't. New Orleans' front seven was far more effective than advertised, which perhaps isn't a huge surprise. DEs Will Smith and Charles Grant are skilled, and NFL teams can reverse their fortunes on defense relatively easily with a few key additions, improved discipline and/or a savvy coordinator.
But you can't get around bad blocking. Good line play is one of those clearly evident but difficult-to-describe phenomena, like that sixth sense some of us have for detecting a nearby squad car when doing 80 in a 55. It's either there or it isn't, and heaven help you if it isn't.
And the Saints had it Sunday. The line wasn't technically precise, exceedingly athletic or overwhelmingly physical, but it consistently did the job. So what if the Browns' defense isn't exactly a reincarnation of the Steel Curtain? The Saints created seams for Bush and RB Deuce McAllister, held firm against a 3-4 scheme that makes it difficult to find the fourth pass-rusher and picked up the few blitzes thrown at them. Bonus points for getting it done after injuries to Mike Karney and Keith Joseph left the offense with no fullback. The final tally: 150 rushing yards, zero sacks.
Still, a couple of things concerned me. First, C Jeff Faine got tossed around by the Browns' front line and, if my eyes didn't deceive me, even got flattened by 245-pound rookie LB Kamerion Wimbley on a goal-line run. Faine usually has held his own as a finesse blocker, but don't be surprised if he limits the Saints (especially interior bruiser McAllister) when power tackles like Atlanta's Grady Jackson (Week 3), Carolina's Kris Jenkins (Week 4), Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton (Week 8) and Baltimore's Haloti Ngata (Week 9) belly up in the coming months.
Also, Saints coach Sean Payton is no fool, but I think he'll have to be more creative and put all of his quarterback's skills to better use in future matchups. Brees didn't run many play fakes, despite a run game that demanded respect, and didn't roll out often against the Browns. After trading WR Donte' Stallworth, the Saints have no legitimate field-stretcher to clear out the short and intermediate zones or to discourage opponents from selling out on the pass-rush. New Orleans' line kept Brees clean, but Cleveland seemed more interested in preventing the big play than bringing serious pressure. If Payton doesn't take advantage of Brees' ball skills or ability to throw on the run during a seven-game midseason stretch (Falcons, Panthers, Bucs, Eagles, Ravens, Bucs again, Steelers), the entire offense could collapse.
Alexander the Mediocre?
Don't get your tighty-whities in a bunch, RB Shaun Alexander owners. With WR Darrell Jackson slowed (knee), TE Jerramy Stevens out (ankle) and Seattle's offensive line breaking in a new member, the offense was bound to stumble a little out of the gate.
Yeah, nine points and zero TDs against Detroit is more like a belly flop than a stumble, but it isn't panic-button time. A brilliant move by the Lions helped stifle the Seahawks. Massive DT Shaun Rogers, who normally lines up on the strong side, often lined up weakside in the opener -- over new LG Pork Chop Womack. The tactic likely influenced Mike Holmgren to call more right-side run plays and often helped keep Seattle's best run-blocker -- LT Walter Jones -- out of the mix. The Seahawks will miss LG Steve Hutchinson, but don't get suckered into believing that his absence alone explains Alexander's 51-yard stinker. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't use exactly that logic to convince a rival owner that you're doing him a favor by taking Alexander off his hands. Seattle's issues are the NFL equivalent of beer goggles. Just watch how the Cardinals' and Giants' run defenses suddenly seem respectable, maybe even attractive in matchups against the Seahawks. By the end of Seattle's smackdown with Chicago -- which pitched a Week 1 shutout, for those of you scoring at home -- Alexander owners could be woozy. That's when you hook 'em. Coming out of the Seahawks' Week 5 bye, Jackson and Stevens should be healthy (or close to it) and Womack figures to be in the flow. Here's the kicker: In eight of his next nine games, Alexander will face run defenses that allowed at least 4.0 yards per carry in 2005. Giddyup
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/15/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/15/06)

<!-- begin this div --><!-- begin leftcol --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%"><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top><STYLE type=text/css> @import url(http://espn-att.starwave.com/css/ootb.css); </STYLE><SCRIPT language=Javascript src="http://espn-att.starwave.com/insertfiles/javascript/fantasyPop.js" type=text/javascript></SCRIPT><!-- begin pagetitle -->Monday, September 18, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> T. Ouch!


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

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<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->A quick look at Terrell Owens' numbers on Sunday night might identify him as one of Week 2's biggest disappointments: Despite being targeted by Drew Bledsoe eight times, the Cowboys' top receiver managed only three receptions for 19 yards and no scores. Owens made a couple of key drops, and didn't look at all like the top-five fantasy pick we expected.
Following the game, however, there was a logical explanation for T.O.'s disappointing performance: He revealed that he has a broken right ring finger, which might help explain why he appeared to have much trouble holding onto the football in Sunday's 27-10 win. Owens will undergo surgery on Monday, likely to have pins and a plate inserted, and the initial prognosis has him sitting out two to four weeks.
Fortunately for Owens' fantasy owners, there's an outside chance that a two-week timetable for recovery might not cost him a single game. His Cowboys have their bye in Week 3 -- doesn't it seem kind of silly for an NFL team to need a rest this early in the year? -- and then travel to Tennessee for a Week 4 matchup. Dallas' next tough division matchup comes in Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles, which would be the midway point of Owens' projected timetable. There's a chance he could be back for either or both games.
Regardless, this is another example of the many frustrations of owning Owens; just think what it's like for an NFL team! He's actually developing a bit of a reputation for being injury prone, with his last full 16-game season in 2001. Still, putting aside this game, Owens is nevertheless one of the best when he's healthy, averaging 5.9 receptions and 92.9 receiving yards and managing 21 total touchdowns in 22 previous contests. Among receivers, only Marvin Harrison (27 TDs, 33 G) and Antonio Gates (24 TD, 32 G) have scored more than Owens since the start of the 2004 season. That's the definition of a high-risk/high-reward player, so T.O. owners, you knew what you were getting yourself into.
Stick with Owens, and if he misses time, Terry Glenn makes a fine go-to deep threat for Bledsoe, with Patrick Crayton a bit of a sleeper for Week 4 at Tennessee. That's a fine matchup for Crayton, who scored on Sunday against the Redskins. Tight end Jason Witten, who has seven receptions in two games, could also see a few more passes head his way. <STYLE> .headshot { visibility: visible; padding: 0px 5px 4px 0px; float: left;} .bottom { font: 10px verdana, san-serif; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; background: #006633; padding: 5px; } </STYLE>BETWEEN THE LINES
Week 2 could have been termed the week of the emerging rookie running back, as three first-round picks from the 2006 NFL Draft stepped up with promising performances that could lead to better things in the weeks ahead. New England's Laurence Maroney, who had 17 carries for 86 yards in Week 1, managed 16 carries for 65 yards and his first career touchdown against the Jets, meaning in two weeks, he has virtually identical numbers (33-151-1) to veteran Corey Dillon (36-153-1). It's clear the two are on almost equal footing already, and taking into account Dillon's age (he's 31) and injury risk (he has missed eight games combined the past three seasons), Maroney should at some point get a game or two all to himself, perhaps proving capable of being the workhorse back when it happens. Carolina's DeAngelo Williams, given 13 carries after starter DeShaun Foster kicked off the game with only 11 yards in his first six attempts, managed 74 yards and a score, demonstrating his breakaway potential. Williams might not be quite ready to handle a 20-plus-carry workload each week just yet, but he'll get his chance nevertheless before long, as Foster is one of the game's most brittle players. Indianapolis' Joseph Addai, a disappointment in Week 1, was a standout facing a much softer matchup in the Texans on Sunday, with 104 scrimmage yards and a receiving TD. Dominic Rhodes is still regarded as the goal-line back, but Addai showed the potential that should make him the go-to guy between the 20s, making him a useful flex option or No. 2 RB in larger leagues.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins
18-of-33 passing, 197 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

It's not like his stat line was that impressive, but Brunell's performance was actually worse than the numbers on Sunday night. Trailing by 17 points with 7:43 to go in the fourth quarter, the Redskins were forced to the air, helping pad Brunell's stat sheet. He completed 10 of 13 pass attempts for 128 yards, meaning that to that point, he was only 8-for-20 with 69 yards, which is a terrible performance when paired with the fact that the Washington running game was almost equally unproductive. Brunell might have been one of the better quarterbacks in the league the first half of last season, but fantasy owners who picked him probably forgot that he finished 2005 by averaging 155.8 passing yards with 11 TDs and eight interceptions in his final 10 games. That's closer to the true version of Brunell, though this season he has actually performed worse than that, and one has to wonder for how much longer the Redskins can afford to stick with a guy who has done a terrible job in the preseason and first two weeks of the regular season leading the offense. Jason Campbell, the No. 3 quarterback in name only, would be the next to step in if Brunell were to lose his job, and judging by Sunday's performance, it might not be a bad idea for the Redskins to give Campbell a chance to see what he can do. If you're a Brunell owner, it's time to look elsewhere for a more reliable starting quarterback.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 2</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Rex Grossman, QB, Bears: Has erased the memory of his terrible preseason (51.9 comp. pct., 60.7 rating, 2 INT)</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>passYDS</TD><TD>passTD</TD><TD>INT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>289</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>29</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals: He has averaged 160.5 rushing yards with 6 TD in his last 4 G against the Browns</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>ATT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>26</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>145</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>26</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><!-- <tr><td align=center bgcolor="#555555" COLSPAN=6 class="stathead" colspan="6"> </td></tr> --><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Amani Toomer, WR, Giants: A late-career revival? He has 71 catches for 747 yards and 9 TD in his last 15 G</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>12</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>137</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>12</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>25</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Desmond Clark, TE, Bears: A bit of a fluke; but tuck this performance away if your TE faces DET this year</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>85</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>14</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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<!-- begin also see2 -->Surfin' the Scoreboard


Trainer's Room
? Raiders QB Aaron Brooks suffered a sprained right rotator cuff after fumbling for the second time in the game -- on the team's fourth offensive play, mind you -- in Week 2. It's unclear whether he'll be ready to return in time for Oakland's next game in Week 4, but if he's healthy, he's expected to reclaim his starting job. QB Andrew Walter, who had three interceptions in relief of Brooks, will return to the bench if Brooks can play.
? Bengals WR Chad Johnson suffered a concussion in Week 2. It's unclear whether the injury will cost him any time, and many other players have returned within a week with the same injury, but monitor his status during practice this week.
? Redskins RB Clinton Portis (shoulder) was inactive for Week 2. RBs Ladell Betts and T.J. Duckett shared the workload on Sunday against the Cowboys, with Betts receiving the bulk of the carries (11-5) but neither offering a standout fantasy performance. Duckett's performance is actually a bit more disappointing, since paired with his Week 1 no-carry effort, he's clearly not as integral a part of the Washington offense as he was in Atlanta.
? Colts K Adam Vinatieri was unavailable for the team's final extra-point chance in Week 2 due to a groin injury, though it's not considered serious. Still, even if he suffers a setback during the week, it's not tough to find a stand-in kicker in fantasy leagues. ? Friday Box | Thursday Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/15/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/15/06)

Eli in the elite: Week 2 wrap


posted: Monday, September 18, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


Eli Manning is better than Tommy Kramer -- I know he already is. And for one agonizing afternoon, me and my buddies resurrected the name of Kramer, who to us was responsible for the most memorable fourth quarter comeback against our Iggles. We were kids then. Kramer led the Vikings to a win at Philly's Vet when he trailed 23-0 in the fourth quarter. The final was 28-23. We never forgot that game. I still have the ticket stub.

I wasn't at the Eagles-Giants game Sunday, and for that, I am thankful. The parking lots surely were dangerous around 5:15 p.m. ET. Sure, you say, the NFC title game home losses were bad, because the Eagles were favored and blew Super Bowl berths. Yeah, those stunk. In those games it was Joe Jurevicius, Ronde Barber and Jake Delhomme engineering those wins. Back in 1985, it was Kramer and Philly missed the playoffs. On Sunday it was Eli Manning and in Week 2 when a loss can be overcome.
Announcer Troy Aikman noted numerous times during Sunday's broadcast that Eli was getting too much blame for the Giants misfortunes over the last year, and too little of the credit. I wholly agree. I've been saying for months Manning is going to be a terrific player, in real life and fantasy, and the proof wasn't in the interceptions last year, but the terrific comeback wins. Look at the good from Eli -- he piles on the yards, leads his team down the field in crunch time -- you can see a star is being born. But it's not only the New York media on this kid's case; fantasy owners don't trust him yet.
On Sunday, Manning did little for three quarters, then ended up with monstrous numbers, thanks in part to the Eagles horribly throwing the game away in the final minutes, but also to Eli not letting the G-men lose. Overtime was just a formality. Bitter? Not at all. On Monday I'll check out how my Manning-led team did. On Sunday it's about the real team.
Manning is going to be great, and soon. Last week he didn't complete the final drive of the game, losing by a few points to big brother Peyton. This week he had a number of big drives, huge plays. Next week he goes to Seattle. The Giants will be in a Super Bowl again soon and Eli will be the talk of the town.
Monday is not a good day to trade for Eli in fantasy. He'll cost too much. You had your window of opportunity all this week. And while I hate watching the Eagles lose a game that was basically in hand, it is exciting watching a young quarterback emerge.
OK, on to a smaller version of game by game. Or else this would be a novel.
Falcons 14, Buccaneers 3: Tampa Bay fans can't be real pleased either. Is it better to lose like this, with a total of three points in two sad, division games, or lose a 24-7 lead like Philly did? The Bucs were the last NFL team to score, and we still wait for a touchdown. Blame Chris Simms. He's on pace for 48 interceptions, and apparently serious about reaching that record. Carnell Williams offered little, again, and Simms only topped 300 yards because he threw the ball 53 times. Joey Galloway had a monster game for yards with 161. In comparison, Michael Vick threw for 92. Amazing.
As for Vick, I never said he couldn't play. To rush for 127 yards is quite a feat for a quarterback. You shouldn't sit Vick in home games, that's for sure, or at all the way he's running. Warrick Dunn leads the NFL in rushing, but because he hasn't scored yet, he's not Shaun Alexander and fantasy owners remain wary. Don't be.
Bears 34, Lions 7: Rex Grossman threw four touchdown passes. Think about that for a minute. Four touchdowns! Tampa Bay still doesn't have any! I still wouldn't make Rex a top 10 quarterback, but he has become a must-add free agent just in case. Rex Grossman? Are you kidding? I need to see more.
In other news, the Bears win easily without either running back distinguishing himself. Just keep playing Thomas Jones in fantasy until something changes. In a closer game, which Chicago should get soon, Jones will do more.
Kevin Jones broke off a 29-yard run. And on the other 11 carries, he gained 15 yards. Terrific. Next week he gets Green Bay. One more chance in fantasy before he's mass dropped.
Bengals 34, Browns 17: Yeah, Carson Palmer is just fine. We told you all week that Rudi Johnson would run wild, and he did, with 145 yards and two scores. You would have played him anyway. What about Chris Henry? I played him in two leagues. I figured Henry would have a big game at some point with T.J. Houshmandzadeh out. Henry could steal that starting job.
Poor Reuben Droughns. But at least he got to score a touchdown. One more and he matches his 2005 total.
Saints 34, Packers 27: Terrific game for both maligned quarterbacks, as Brett Favre got his team on the board early and ended up with 340 yards and three touchdowns, while Drew Brees passed for 353 yards. But the big story here is what Reggie Bush didn't do. Is it possible the Pack can stop the run? Bush carried six times for five yards, which is a stunning stat. Oh yeah, he still helped out in fantasy with eight catches for 68 yards, but the rushing numbers, hard to believe.
Don't sit Donald Driver, ever. Even against the Bears last week, his decent game was more credible than Ahman Green topping 100 yards. This time Driver was again terrific, and will continue to be no matter which team Favre throws the ball to. Green was ordinary, and while he's safely the starter, I think Noah Herron holds off Vernand Morency for the prime backup role, when Morency does play.
Colts 43, Texans 24: This one didn't seem fair, did it? Peyton Manning could have put up 60 points if he wanted to. What's odd is that neither of his prime receivers caught touchdown passes, though both Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne easily topped 100 yards.
Everyone's going to be asking about the running backs, and while Joseph Addai had a few more carries and double the rushing yards, Dominic Rhodes remains the starter. I know it sounds strange, I know Addai owners aren't pleased, but Addai got plenty of work when the game got out of hand. Rhodes was the man early on. Still, both are worthy flex plays moving forward.
Ron Dayne as the top Texans running back? Probably won't last. Sam Gado rambled for a 27-yarder late to end up with as many yards, and he'll likely get more carries than Dayne next game.
Bills 16, Dolphins 6: Daunte Culpepper ended up with 250 yards and a touchdown. Impressed? The score came with two minutes left in the game. Not so impressive to fail to score at home against Buffalo for all but two minutes.
I thought Willis McGahee was on his way to a 140-yard day, but he slowed down and didn't even reach 100. Still, he did look good and I can't think of a game in which I would sit him.
Vikings 16, Panthers 13 (OT): Did we see a change at the top of Carolina's running back depth chart? I think we might have. DeShaun Foster was hardly special again, and finally we saw rookie DeAngelo Williams get the ball. He ended up with 74 yards and a touchdown, giving the team some running game. Watch the rookie take over the starting job at some point, though I'd be surprised if it's this upcoming week.
Brad Johnson wasn't as effective as I thought he'd be, and he didn't even throw the team's touchdown pass (it was kicker Ryan Longwell), but he made one really big play, the 30-yard throw in overtime to Troy Williamson. That's Johnson. The stats aren't always there, but he drove the team for the win. This team's MVP is clearly going to be Chester Taylor. It took a while for him to pile up the yards, but he's looking like a solid 1,400-yard back.
Giants 30, Eagles 24 (OT): Oh great, back to this one. I already noted how impressed I was with Eli Manning, but he had to be this good or the Giants wouldn't have won. Tiki Barber didn't do much at all. It was all on Eli. Philly kept Plaxico Burress in check much of the game, but Plax made the big play at the end. In one of my leagues I took both Eli and Plaxico, figuring there would be terrific days like this in which the quarterback and the receiver hooked up for big numbers. These aren't the Titans, after all. The Giants will score plenty this season. I absolutely cannot explain Amani Toomer. I've seen him many times, and I'm just stunned Philly couldn't cover him. I mean, he's not Terrell Owens. He's Amani Toomer. He's sure to become overrated in fantasy.
Brian Westbrook created quite a Sunday morning stir when it was hit or miss on whether he would even play. I figured he would, and hoped for 50 yards on the ground and through the air. He topped each and scored, but was invisible in the final periods. I'm setting his over/under in games this season at 14, and taking the under. I'm not trying to be negative, but realistic. By the way, the Eagles will be fine. They dominated the game for three quarters before the offense got complacent and predictable. This remains a 10-win team. But the Giants probably will win 11.
Ravens 28, Raiders 6: No real surprise here as the Raiders are just so terrible, the only question is going to be how low LaMont Jordan's fantasy value will drop. Jordan again was given no chance to have success, finishing with 1.8 yards per carry average. Things actually got worse when Aaron Brooks was mercifully pulled. Think he wants to deal with this? Fantasy owners left and right will be trying to trade Jordan, along with enigmatic, underused wideout Randy Moss, and you know what: It's a mistake. Hold on to your investments until this team shows a pulse. Nobody wants to trade for Jordan today, but at some point, your first rounder will get some numbers.
Nothing special from Baltimore's offense, but fantasy owners are going to misread this Mike Anderson game. What, he scored a touchdown? Didn't Karabell tell me he wasn't a factor? Well, it's true, Anderson did score, but he wasn't a factor statistically, unless you're looking at Jamal Lewis stats. Anderson got one measly carry late in the game and broke it for a 34-yard jaunt. Musa Smith is the backup for Lewis. Anderson is the fullback.
49ers 20, Rams 13: I actually picked the Niners to win this game, deciding to believe in San Francisco's big three of Alex Smith, Frank Gore and Antonio Bryant. All three came through with flying colors. Rip the Rams defense if you like, the same one that shut down Denver in Week 1. Maybe the Rams weren't special that day, in retrospect, since the Broncos couldn't even score a touchdown on Kansas City. Whatever. The Niners are an exciting, young team. Gore is a play every week and so is Bryant and possibly Vernon Davis, who delivered a Sunday goose egg.
Steven Jackson again topped 100 yards. He's a weekly play. There was a Stephen Davis sighting, but nothing to get worked up about.
Seahawks 21, Cardinals 10: I'm actually disappointed in Shaun Alexander, for only getting 89 yards and one touchdown. A year ago it would have been 160 yards and three scores. This is Arizona! C'mon, Shaun, LaDainian's making you look like Kevin Jones. Speaking of Hawks, I'm glad I gave up on Nate Burleson a week ago. Guess he couldn't make good use of his last shot before Deion Branch comes aboard. And apparently Darrell Jackson is feeling just fine, thank you.
Disappointing game for Kurt Warner and his pair of top 10 receivers as well. But the big story is this is two weeks for Edgerrin James, and his longest play has gone for 14 yards. The numbers aren't that bad. He has scored, and he's on pace for 1,200 yards. But is that what you drafted?
Broncos 9, Chiefs 6: All wins count the same, right? Damon Huard actually did a decent job of avoiding trouble with Trent Green out, with a bunch of short passes. Remove the 37-yarder to Eddie Kennison and Huard completed 16 passes for 96 yards. Now that's hard to do. As expected, this didn't affect Larry Johnson one bit, as he gained 126 yards and caught nearly a third of Huard's completions. I did expect more from Tony Gonzalez, but apparently he was needed to protect Huard more.
Very disappointed in Tatum Bell, who in a Thomas Jones sort of way blew a golden opportunity to seize a starting job. Mike Bell didn't do much worse, really. Jake Plummer still doesn't have a touchdown pass, but you can forget about picking up Jay Cutler. Really, you can. Plummer is safe.
Patriots 24, Jets 17: Very impressed with Chad Pennington, as he drove the Jets down the field a few times in the second half, despite the fact Bill Belichick knew there was little threat of a running game. Pennington looked good, I have to admit. He topped 300 yards yet again, which is quite a feat for him, since he wasn't doing that prior to surgery, and had two touchdowns. We know fantasy owners are in love with Jerricho Cotchery, and there are reasons to believe he's pretty good, but that crazy 71-yard touchdown, well, it was kind of a fluke play, no? When's the last time two Jets receivers reached 100 yards? Laveranues Coles might be approaching top 10 receiver status, you know.
Think Jets fans are tired of Kevan Barlow yet?
While Tom Brady looked Branch-related distracted again, his dual running backs were good yet again. Why does Belichick have to choose one, when Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney are so effective splitting carries? Neither is hurt and each scored a touchdown. In time, Maroney could be a star. Then again, back in the Garrison Hearst days, we were saying that about Barlow, weren't we? Maroney looks impressive, but Dillon still has something left, like double digit touchdowns.
Chargers 40, Titans 7: I figured it would be more like 28-7. That's what I wrote Sunday. Apparently the Titans are even worse than that. I did recommend using Michael Turner in this game, and he exploded for 138 yards on only 13 carries. Having a 73-yarder doesn't hurt. Turner's a flex option in blowout games because there's no way LaDainian Tomlinson will be abused. He got his two first-half touchdowns and he was done. This might end up being a bad thing in fantasy, but he's still on his way to a 18-touchdown season and he might lead the league.
Philip Rivers is someone I want to trust, but it's two blowout wins. We have to wait until Week 4 to see what he can do, when he goes to Baltimore. C'mon, it's Week 3 and already these guys need a bye week? Two of the first three draft picks in 99 percent of leagues are off next week, in LT and LJ. But there is good news: The Raiders are off.
Unfortunately, Tennessee is in action. Hope Miami enjoys its first win. If Kerry Collins can keep his starting job after that one, then Vince Young is doing something wrong. Of course, no need to own Vince yet in fantasy. Wait until next year. OK, more on the Sunday night game and Monday's big one on Tuesday. Adios
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/15/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/15/06)

Sep. 18, 2006, 2:39 PM
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Week 3: Jennings, Owens, Titans


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each Monday afternoon, the Fantasy Scout takes an early look ahead to the coming week and beyond. We give you the early lowdown on players to watch and consider emerging trends that will affect your fantasy strategy, even before the "Monday Night Football" game!
Player Spotlight
The Green Bay passing game rose from the dead on Sunday, and rookie Greg Jennings was an integral part of the equation. With an unreliable running game and a defense that will force him to match opponents or catch up to them often, Brett Favre is going to have to throw a lot all season long. The results usually will be mixed for Favre, but that also means a lot of reception opportunities for his starting receivers, Donald Driver and Jennings. After a fine preseason that earned him the No. 2 receiver job over Robert Ferguson, Jennings has earned the confidence of Favre and should be targeted in many key situations all year long.
Jennings is only owned in eight percent of ESPN leagues, and that number is sure to rise this week. After a disappointing opener in which he caught only one pass for five yards in the Packers' loss to the Bears, we saw the Jennings that created a stir in Green Bay during training camp on Sunday in the loss to the Saints. Jennings caught Favre's first TD pass of the year en route to a six-catch, 67-yard outing. Jennings also was targeted by Favre on third downs and near the goal line. Jennings is fluid, catches the ball in stride, and can break loose for extra yardage after the catch. He is a receiver in the classic Packer mold of wideouts during the Favre era, and does conjure up some memories of a young Robert Brooks. Jennings is only going to improve with time, and he does deserve starting consideration based on the matchups in the weeks ahead. Jennings already has demonstrated he can find soft spots in zone coverages, and can beat some experienced defensive backs downfield. He is willing to make tough catches. Put in a free agent claim for Jennings now, as he will at least be a good occasional spot starter the rest of the year, and by the season's second half, he'll be firmly established as one of fantasy football's best rookies.
Injury Fallout
The Cowboys do thankfully have a bye while Terrell Owens begins to recover from a broken finger, but they likely will have to play at least one game without him, and maybe more. So how does it affect the rest of the offense? It means more good production from Terry Glenn, who can beat double coverages if needed and will no doubt be able to step forward and do a fine job as a No. 1 receiver. When Dallas does return to face Tennessee in Week 4, the absence of Owens also means Drew Bledsoe likely will look for tight ends Jason Witten and Anthony Fasano more often. Fasano, a promising rookie, looks like a good short-term free-agent addition while Owens is out. Patrick Crayton and rookie Sam Hurd are expected to see increased roles in the offense while Owens is out, but neither player figures to produce enough statistically to warrant temporary use in most fantasy leagues. Crayton caught a TD pass on Sunday night, but will not be very effective if he is asked to start.
The bad news could be for owners of Bledsoe if Owens misses more than just the Tennessee game. Bledsoe looks like a good start against the struggling Titans two weeks from now, but the Eagles are on the schedule for the fifth week, and Bledsoe could struggle to find consistently open receivers and would be in for a long day against a division rival. In the shorter term, you'd have to replace Owens for Week 3 anyway if you had him, so start getting more familiar with your bench receivers and what they can do. Jennings is the perfect example of a good free-agent addition if you're an Owens owner. While Owens is out, look for the Cowboys to increase the workloads of Julius Jones and Marion Barber a bit, in an effort to reduce pressure on Bledsoe.
Preparing for Changes
The rumblings are growing louder in Tennessee that the Vince Young era should begin after Kerry Collins looked awful in Tennessee's 40-7 loss to San Diego. Collins finished with a passer rating of 1.3 on Sunday as he threw for 57 yards and was intercepted twice. He completed only 6 of 19 attempts. In mostly mop-up duty, Young threw his first NFL TD pass. Jeff Fisher has not indicated he will make any changes at quarterback, but he might refrain from doing so publicly in an effort to keep his next opponent, Miami, off balance in its preparation for next week's game. Fisher simply will have no choice but to give Young the controls if Collins looks terrible again, which is very possible. If Young does get to start in the near future, his fantasy value will be limited, as he does need to work on some mechanics and accuracy issues. But he should be added as a backup QB in leagues larger than 12 teams, where the pool of free agents is often limited, and Young does offer more upside than J.P. Losman, for example.
The Titans refuse to go with Billy Volek, who can be more efficient than Collins and is more capable of managing a game than Young. Yes, Volek didn't have a good preseason, but he still appears to be a more stable option than Collins or Young. Yes, Young is the future and should start soon when it's clearer that the Titans are done for the year. But for now, Volek might be able to help the offense move with a little more efficiency than Collins, while Young continues to get occasional work. But Volek was their No. 3 QB on Sunday and told the Tennessean it's "time to me to move on." The Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders reportedly are interested in dealing for Volek. If he is traded to Kansas City, Volek could be a good fantasy reserve while Trent Green remains out. If he is traded to Oakland, he also wouldn't be anything more than a fantasy reserve, but he should find Randy Moss more often than Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter can, and the Oakland offense might start to play at a more respectable level even if the team continues to lose often. Keep a close watch on the Volek situation, especially if you play in a league of more than 12 teams.
Reality Strikes
It's now apparent that this year's 49ers aren't the same offensive pushovers they have been in the recent past. Sure, Alex Smith is no Joe Montana yet, but he is quickly developing into a respectable game manager who can keep many defenses honest. Smith also isn't a bad fantasy reserve in leagues larger than 10 teams. His decision-making skills are improving and the presence of veteran backup Trent Dilfer certainly has to be a key in Smith's better play. Dilfer was an important figure in the development of Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle, and Dilfer proved to be a clear stabilizing presence in the passing game Sunday, without even taking the field. After Smith overthrew Antonio Bryant on a possible TD pass late in the first half, Bryant became openly upset at Smith, and Dilfer stepped in to talk to Bryant on the bench. Whatever Dilfer said obviously worked well, as Smith connected with Bryant for a 72-yard score in the third quarter and the two ran off the field together. Bryant is making the most of a desired opportunity to be a top receiver, and owners of Frank Gore don't have to worry that defenses will stack their fronts against him while forcing Smith into classic young QB mistakes. Gore finished with 132 yards and scored on a 32-yard run against the Rams, and he is a must-start player as a No. 2 fantasy RB right now. Rookie tight end Vernon Davis did not catch a pass on Sunday, but a hip injury appears to be slowing him a bit, and he's going to continue to draw defensive attention to help balance the offense while his numbers should begin to improve in the weeks ahead.
Scout's Notebook
? There are no obvious reasons to worry about Carson Palmer after his conservative, statistically disappointing outing in the opener. Palmer threw for 352 yards and two TDs in a win over Cleveland. Palmer was intercepted twice, but the great confidence and fine footwork in the pocket that made him a standout last year has returned. Few can match Palmer for his ability to place himself in just the right spot behind his blockers while quickly going through his progressions. ? Seattle's offense started off well against Arizona, building an early 14-0 lead, but sputtered often the rest of the way. Matt Hasselbeck threw only one TD pas and was intercepted twice. The Seahawks do miss the presence of injured tight end Jerramy Stevens, who gives them a big target in the middle of the field. The expected activation of Deion Branch next week should add another dimension to the Seattle passing game and open things up more. Trade for Hasselbeck now if you can, before his value rises again. Shaun Alexander rushed for 89 yards and TD, which isn't terrible, but not great for a guy who was drafted No. 1 overall in many fantasy leagues. Alexander isn't running with consistent confidence, as he seems to hesitate before hitting some holes early this season. Alexander has outstanding vision, though, and his obvious lack of occasional confidence appears to be directly linked to the offensive line, which played up-and-down against Arizona. Walter Jones is banged up on the left side, and the right side was inconsistent. But there are no major reasons to be concerned about Alexander, as the line should round into form in the weeks ahead while fully adjusting to the loss of Steve Hutchinson.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/15/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/15/06)

Sep. 17, 2006, 10:16 PM
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Engel: Week 2 wrapup


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ESPN Fantasy Games

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Here's a quick-hitting recap of key performances and news from the second Sunday of the NFL season, complete with in-depth fantasy analysis.
Rex roars: He is only owned in 11.2 percent of ESPN leagues, yet the number will rise high after Rex Grossman threw for a career-best (and quite astonishing) four touchdown passes in a rout of the Lions. He set a new career standard for the second consecutive week with 289 passing yards. But is Grossman really that good, or are the Lions just that bad? Grossman isn't quite the new-look fantasy standout he appeared to be on Sunday. He is certainly healthy and is getting good protection. But he has opened the season against two bad teams (Green Bay and Detroit), and he must still prove he is a regularly dependable starter. One outstanding game this week certainly makes Grossman a great fantasy free agent addition. But he needs to show a lot more before we start to boost him into the same tier with top fantasy quarterbacks. There were times in the past when Billy Volek and Kyle Boller looked like they were on the verge of taking their games to new levels. Grossman can be a good game manager and solid fantasy backup, but I'm still far away from endorsing him as anything more than a spot fantasy starter. Bernard Berrian is going to disappear against better opponents, and Grossman is going to fall back to earth very soon.
Daunte and the Dolphins don't look good: Another sluggish performance by the Miami offense proved that their opening game struggles were due to a lot more than facing the stiff Pittsburgh defense. Against the much less formidable Buffalo Bills, Daunte Culpepper looked just as bad as he did at Pittsburgh, and maybe even worse. Culpepper was sacked seven times as his receivers failed to get open consistently and his pass protection broke down often. When Culpepper did have some time to throw, he still had the same problems with accuracy that he did in Miami's first game. There will be questions raised about how much his knee issues could be affecting his early-season performance. All we know for sure is he doesn't look much better than he did last year before he was hurt. Chambers made an amazing 23-yard TD catch, but he wasn't dependable for Culpepper and was shut down for extensive periods, and no one else stepped forward to challenge the Buffalo pass defense. Don't get rid of Culpepper, but he is obviously a very risky start in the next week or two. Chambers is still looking like the statistically erratic wide receiver he was in the past, and he's not a must-start player yet. On the plus side, Ronnie Brown continued to prove he is ready to be a consistently above-average fantasy player, with 122 total yards from scrimmage, including six receptions for 52 yards. Brown's fine receiving skills are becoming more apparent as Culpepper does check to him often.
The NFC East shootout: Eli Manning earned a new level of respect from NFL fans and fantasy players alike as he took a beating at Philadelphia, getting sacked eight times, yet still led the Giants to a comeback win over the rival Eagles. When the Giants fell behind by 17 points, I'll admit I was one of the preseason skeptics who was not surprised to see Manning struggle under pressure. But the young QB led a valiant comeback that showed he has indeed become one of fantasy football's better quarterbacks. Manning led the way as the Giants scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and capped a thrilling victory with a 31-yard pass to Plaxico Burress in overtime. Manning threw for 371 yards, three TDs and was intercepted only once despite being pressured constantly. In the preseason, I thought these kind of games would show that Manning wasn't quite ready to be a top-level fantasy QB. I have changed my mind as Manning now heads to Seattle for what should be an emotional game after last year's Jay Feely debacle. Manning is a definite fantasy starter right now, regardless of matchup. As for the Eagles, Donovan McNabb had another fine outing, throwing for 350 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. Donte' Stallworth and Reggie Brown both caught TD passes. McNabb is certainly making great use of the most versatile and deep receiving crew he has had in some time. Stallworth's speed and Brown's good moves and hands seem to make them fine partners for each other. I'm still not fully sold on Stallworth, who could follow two fine opening performances with a quiet outing or two, but McNabb now has more than just his RBs and TEs to throw to, and he could be headed for one of his best seasons ever.
Those awful Oakland Raiders: Well, at least your top Raiders won't disappoint you again next week, and the team won't lose miserably again. That's because Oakland has a bye in the third week of the regular season. That might be a blessing, because many other options appear to be better than LaMont Jordan and Randy Moss right now. Those are Oakland's only two viable fantasy starters right now, but the rest of the team is dragging them down to the point where they are very risky starters in any matchup. The offensive line doesn't open holes for Jordan or protect the QBs. Jordan rushed for only 35 yards on 19 carries and did not catch a pass for the second consecutive week. Moss had another disappointing outing, catching just two passes for 32 yards as the apparent QB issues and continued lack of quality complements helped drag his his numbers down. At least with the Raiders off next week, you can comfortably plug in some other players for them who you might have had on the bench and see how they fare. Benching Jordan or Moss when the Raiders return to action isn't a crazy idea, because they have not showed they can help you win fantasy games in any week and simply aren't reliable. Jordan and Moss are certainly can produce better numbers, but who knows when they might deliver? If you have good depth, start preparing to replace Jordan and Moss in your lineup in any given week when they are active.
The Indy rookie makes his move: Yes, it was against the Texans, but the performance of Joseph Addai in a laugher victory clearly displayed he deserves to start over veteran Dominic Rhodes. We'll see if Tony Dungy continues to slightly favor Rhodes, but the more experienced RB didn't offer much against a very vulnerable defense. Rhodes rushed for just 37 yards on 14 carries, and his two-yard TD run came in fourth quarter garbage time. Meanwhile, Addai rushed for 82 yards on 16 carries and caught a 21-yard TD pass for Indianapolis' second score in the first quarter. Addai is clearly is more versatile and has more upside than Rhodes, who didn't challenge the Houston defense as he averaged only 2.6 yards per carry, with a long run of only nine yards. The time could be drawing near for Addai to become the Colts' clear No. 1 RB, so don't trade him if you have him, and acquire him if you need some RB help.
Saints RB insights: The New Orleans running game showed some promise, but it is also apparent that the younger half of the two-headed rushing monster still has things to learn. Deuce McAllister rushed for two scores against the Packers, showing he will be a certain goal-line presence even if his yardage numbers do suffer a bit from sharing reps with Reggie Bush. As for Bush, it's clear he must start trying to run with more authority and not try to make tacklers miss so often by trying to juke and dance past them. Bush was reined in too often by Green Bay defenders who simply didn't go for his attempts to fake them out. Bush finished with a ho-hum 73 yards from scrimmage. Bush must start to hit holes with more authority as a runner and will have to read his blockers better in the weeks ahead if he is to play fully up to his potential. Bush has a very positive attitude right now, though, so expect him to make the proper adjustments and improve quickly. Both McAllister and Bush are terrific flex position starters right now.
Braylon busts out: Braylon Edwards returned from major knee injury early this season and lacks dependable partners at WR. Yet with Cleveland struggling to find some offense, Edwards proved he can be a go-to guy and continue to build on the exciting potential he flashed at times last season when he was available to play. Edwards caught four passes for 110 yards, including a 75-yarder, in a loss at Cincinnati. The Cleveland offense doesn't offer too much to fantasy players, but it's clear Edwards is relishing the opportunity to step forward and become a top playmaker for the Browns. Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. appear to have a very good relationship, and the two will continue to push each other to reach greater heights. Winslow caught only four passes for 42 yards, but he and Edwards could be the pair that puts some ugly injuries behind them en route to some more impressive performances this season.
One bright spot in the darkness: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers failed to score a TD for the second consecutive week, as Chris Simms was hurried and looked confused again. He made poor decisions and didn't get good protection. The running game was not a factor. But amid the gloom, Joey Galloway bounced back from an opener in which he was shut out. Galloway caught nine passes for 161 yards. He made catches in traffic, with defenders draped all over him, and Simms locking onto him in many situations. Galloway, even with his teammates not carrying their part of the load on offense, made possession grabs, and also broke loose for a 55-yarder. Defenses know Simms will go to him often, yet Galloway will continue to battle for the ball. Even if the Buccaneers continue to flounder, Galloway remains a very good fantasy starter.
The Boston Two Party: In many instances, when two RBs share carries, it can only frustrate fantasy players. But in the case of the Patriots, a very promising rookie and a highly respectable veteran seem to be coexisting while producing quality fantasy totals. Laurence Maroney and Corey Dillon are both looking like fine flex players and No. 2 RBs in larger leagues. Both finished with good fantasy numbers against the Jets. Both RBs got goal-line carries. And both of them scored on one-yard runs. Dillon carried 20 times for 80 yards, and Maroney finished with 65 rushing yards on 16 carries. Maroney's youth, electric moves and great upside demand that he plays often. And Dillon, while lacking breakaway quickness, still has great vision and wins many battles for tough yards. The two RBs seem to make a perfect pair, and can produce quality numbers every week while sharing time. If you have either player on your roster, don't hesitate to start one because you're afraid the other will cut into your player's numbers. Maroney and Dillon look like the most effective RB tandem in pro football this year. Cardinals crash: After an explosive opener, the Arizona passing game was grounded in Seattle. Kurt Warner was hit hard and often, and threw only one TD pass. Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald didn't reach the 65-yard receiving mark. Edgerrin James wasn't a major threat as a runner, finishing with only 64 rushing yards. While you can look for the numbers of Boldin and Fitzgerald to improve in the weeks ahead, Sunday's 10-point performance was a clear indicator that Warner isn't going to be an outstanding statistical performer every week, especially with a shaky offensive line. Don't expect more than two TD passes in a game very often from Warner. And while Boldin and Fitzgerald remain must-start players, it could be rare to see them both explode in the same game. Arizona's offense is improved with James, but it does remain predictable. Opponents know Warner is going to throw often, and they will be prepared. It's up to James to become a bigger running threat to offer more offensive balance, but his outlook isn't great because of the line problems. Don't pencil Warner in as a regular starter.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/18/06)

Sep. 19, 2006, 11:21 AM
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Carroll: Portis, Owens and Roethlisberger's return


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ESPN Fantasy Games

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I'm going to let you in on a little secret -- I'm not always right. That's a bold admission for a guy here, writing on ESPN, but it's true. I work in an odd area, trying hard to translate the available information into a usable format for football fans and fantasy players. The NFL does a phenomenal job of controlling information, especially injury information. When I'm wrong, I'll admit I'm wrong, but know that it's because the information simply wasn't available when I was writing. That doesn't make it easier when I give you info that affects your team negatively and I take that to heart. It just makes motivates me to work harder, build more contacts, and make sure, where possible, that I get better. I know I'll never be perfect or even Chris Mortensen, but I'm trying. It does put some of the onus on you. It's your fantasy team. Use the information we provide and make your best, most informed decision. You won't always be right either, but you'll be right more often than not.
Let's get to it:
? Like everyone else, the back and forth of Clinton Portis and Joe Gibbs made me think that Week 2 would be like Week 1 and that Portis would play. Cue Lee Corso -- not so fast! Portis actually injured the shoulder during his Week 1 game, as was masterfully reported by Andrea Kremer, which created a degree of uncertainty for Portis' return. When Portis originally injured his shoulder, the subluxation didn't worry me due to his strong upper body and lack of additional damage in the shoulder capsule. Top ortho Jim Andrews saw much the same. When Portis injured his rotator cuff, the group of muscles that holds the shoulder in place, the risk went up significantly. Depending on the severity of the cuff tear, the integrity of the shoulder might be compromised, meaning he's going to be dealing with this over and over until he's pushed to the surgeon's table. Indications are that the tear is minor, but let's be honest -- no one seems to be getting clear signals from the Redskins right now. Portis' value has to be downgraded on the uptick in risk.
? Terrell Owens has blinged out his ring finger with some titanium. Not by choice, but to fix his broken ring finger. It's a relatively simple operation in which a small titanium plate is affixed across the fracture to stabilize the bone as it heals. Once it's stable, returning to the playing field becomes a matter of pain tolerance and function. The Cowboys have a bye week and then face Tennessee in the next two weeks, followed by Philadelphia. Something tells me that Owens will find a way to be on the field against the Eagles. There's not much to go on for the impact of this injury on function given the lack of solid comparable injuries. I spoke with an NFL receiver who said that it wouldn't affect Owens much because he doesn't catch many balls against his body. "T.O. reaches out for balls, gets under them or behind them. That's his game. He doesn't need fingers." I think that might be overstating it a bit, but it is great insight.
? In this case, 104 isn't a QB rating for Ben Roethlisberger, it was his reported temperature before Monday's game. There are a number of explanations for why he had this fever, but one of the easiest is that he has a post-surgical infection. Given his quick comeback, the relative state of filth that most football players live in, and fresh internal and external wounds, some degree of infection is possible. This is hardly a surprising situation and one that's likely being monitored by the Steelers medical staff. It's one of those situations that shows the gulf between "normal" medicine and sports medicine. If your doctor saw you (and I'm assuming most of you are more like me than Roethlisberger) and you had these symptoms, he'd send you for IV antibiotics. Roethlisberger took the field and kept his team in the game with a solid season debut.
? The Freak is down. Jevon Kearse took a terrible blow on Sunday, blowing out his knee and ending his season. He tore two ligaments, the ACL and MCL, and sustained other minor damage in the joint. At this stage in his career and given his style of play, it's possible we've seen the last of him. The Eagles are also watching Brian Westbrook closely. While he was able to play and play effectively this weekend, the chronic swelling and pain in his knee is something that isn't going away. Over the course of the season, it's likely to degrade, reducing his effectiveness. If the phrase "sell high" is coming to mind, go with it.
? (Broken Neck -- out for season.) As it ticks across the crawl, it looks like a joke or at the very least, a powerful understatement. David Pollack broke his neck Sunday when he was powerfully flexed during a tackle. His head went back and one of the vertebrae snapped. There's no spinal cord damage, so he'll recover and there's no loss of feeling or movement, making him a lucky man. Pollack will be in a protective halo brace for the next few months. It's too early to say if he'll return to the field. He's just one of the banged-up Bengals, who may be 2-0 but have a longer real injury list than any other team. Besides T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who is still dealing with heel spurs, the team will be without center Rich Braham, who has a deep bruise on his knee, for the next few weeks. Braham is, according to one Bengals source, "the key to every blocking scheme." Adjust the value of Carson Palmer and Rudi Johnson when Braham is out. Before celebrating with the chicken dance, Chad Johnson took a tough blow, bruising his shoulder on his first touchdown as he was unable to brace himself due to his incredible staying in bounds routine. He later sustained a concussion on a hit that left him with a bloody chin. He should be full-go by Sunday.
? Initial reports have been confused regarding Aaron Brooks. The first reports stated that he had been removed from the game after straining his rotator cuff. Later reports indicated that the problem is his pectoral muscle. I got on the phone to my best Raiders sources and in fact, the problem is a strained pectoral near the insertion point at the humerus (upper arm). There's some overlap, so the confusing reports can be understood. Brooks is out for the next two to four weeks, giving Andrew Walter a chance to make Brooks' return superfluous. It is Brooks' throwing arm, so there is likely to be some effect on an already weak and erratic arm, reducing any fantasy value Brooks had, if there was any.
? Remember when Orlando Pace seemed to be inventing the word "pancake"? He was a dominant tackle in college and in the pros, an unsung part of Mike Martz's offensive plan. Unsung doesn't mean unpaid or unimportant and Pace remains a key component of a St. Louis line that's opening holes for Steven Jackson to the tune of 100 yards a week. Pace missed the second half after suffering a concussion and it's unclear at this point if he will be cleared to play on Sunday. If not, the Rams' line would be without two key players, having already lost C Andy McCollum. I heard one of the announcers say that Pace had his "bell rung." Cute, but would the term "brain bruise" make it clearer how serious concussions are? How about calculating them in terms of car crashes, something several neurologists have proposed for high school sports? Just imagine hearing that Pace had a "50 mph concussion" (an example, not a calculation).
? The Colts are very worried about the leg injury to Dwight Freeney. He was seen hobbling off the field in the second quarter Sunday and the diagnosis has focused on a hip flexor. This would be a tough injury for the speed rusher since the hip flexors are necessary for his quick burst. (Try it at home. Put your finger over the point of your hip and then mimic Freeney's burst. When it contracts is when Freeney will feel pain.) Freeney is almost completely reliant on speed and agility for his value, meaning any loss there will reduce his value to the defense. He's already a significant liability against the run, especially directly at him, and is one of the most overrated players in the game. One thing to note on Freeney is that as many sacks as he has, he doesn't hit very hard. When's the last time you saw a QB or RB get up slowly after getting taken down by Freeney? The Colts are also watching Brandon Stokley as he again deals with an ankle sprain. He reinjured the ankle on his first quarter TD reception, which was the extent of his fantasy value this week. The Colts don't appear worried by Adam Vinatieri's latest leg problem. The groin strain was mild, though it was caused by his plant ankle giving slightly on a kickoff. If the game hadn't been a blowout, he would have continued place-kicking.
? Oh look, Steve Smith is in the Injury Report again. There's nothing new here. Smith is still dealing with two problematic hamstrings and has not been able to run full speed without suffering a setback. Until Smith can practice on consecutive days, he's barely worth watching and even then, he'll have to prove that he can still separate from DBs and that he hasn't lost a step. Furthermore, he'll have to prove that he can stay healthy and not have further setbacks, avoiding cascades and compensation injuries. If it's not clear yet, I'm very down on Smith's ability to return, let alone return to the elite level. Bumps and Bruises: Falcons WR Roddy White will play next week in New Orleans. He missed much of the action on Sunday after bruising his ribs. ? The Texans lost two OL during Sunday's game. Mike Flanagan has a foot injury while Charles Spencer broke his tibia when hit by Ron Dayne, his own RB. ? The Vikings lost Erasmus James for the season when the DE tore his ACL. He'll be back for the 2007 season. ? Rod Smith suffered a concussion during the low-scoring matchup with the Chiefs, but is expected to play Sunday. ? Keep your eye on Redskins practices for a Shawn Springs sighting. He's got a chance of a limited comeback this week, perhaps in a nickel package. ? Vernon Davis was as limited by the defense as he was his injured hip.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/18/06)

Sep. 19, 2006, 1:58 PM
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Week 3: Waiver Wire Work


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ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, we help you improve your fantasy roster by recommending the best players to add and drop. Here are some players you should consider who are probably available on your league's free-agent list, and others you should cut loose if you need to make extra room on your roster.
TOP ADDS
Rex Grossman, QB, Bears (Owned in 11.5 percent of ESPN leagues): This is obviously the hottest free agent addition of the week, so some perspective is needed here. Grossman had a career day against the Lions, and he's certainly worth adding as a fantasy backup. But he has a lot more to prove before he can be considered a quality fantasy starter in most leagues. Grossman has opened the season against two weak opponents and while he can be a good game manager, expecting more of the type of production he has offered so far appears unrealistic. Bernard Berrian has scored in each of the first two games, but will disappear against better opponents. Grossman still has a questionable receiving crew overall, and is more effective when operating a conservative passing attack in the longer term. Don't expect him to throw often enough to post regularly outstanding fantasy numbers if he stays healthy.
Correll Buckhalter, RB, Eagles (4.2 percent owned): Brian Westbrook was able to play this past Sunday, but it's possible his knee inflammation could be a lingering issue. Plus, it's clear the Eagles do need another RB to share some carries with Westbrook, and Buckhalter fits the bill. He had an impressive preseason, and he can make the tougher inside runs that shouldn't be called for Westbrook, especially later in games. If Westbrook goes down at some point, Buckhalter could step forward and benefit greatly from an increased workload. He could split some carries with Ryan Moats (19.3 percent owned), who is also worth adding, especially in leagues that award points for receptions.
Najeh Davenport, RB, Steelers (4.1 percent owned): After Willie Parker rushed for only 20 yards on Monday night, it's clear the Steelers need another inside runner to share some carries with their No. 1 RB, who simply isn't built for a heavy workload. Davenport is the Steelers' only answer after Duce Staley had a disappointing preseason and Verron Haynes showed he isn't anything more than a third-down back. Out of desperation to balance the running game, which clearly has to be a two-pronged attack to succeed regularly, look for Davenport to get the chance to earn a decent amount of carries and some goal-line chances in the weeks ahead. He has yet to play this year, but he could be a worthy flex player a few weeks from now if he can avoid injuries.
Nate Washington, WR, Steelers (0.8 percent owned): We stick with the Steelers theme, because it's clear they need some new players to get more involved offensively. Washington is a Bill Cowher favorite who could be moved into the starting lineup at any time in the near future. Cedrick Wilson has been a bust as a starter, catching just one pass in two games, and rookie Santonio Holmes has been very slow to pick up the nuances of the pro game and still seems to be struggling with the playbook. Washington is tough, fluid and can put up some decent numbers with more playing time. He will be a threat on third downs, in the red zone, and might even get a few carries on reverses and end around plays.
Chad Jackson, WR, Patriots (6.2 percent owned): Injury issues made his stock drop early in the season as he missed the first game. But someone has to step forward in the thin Patriots receiving corps, and even though Jackson lacks experience and polish, he is in a great situation. Tom Brady can make almost any receiver look good, and even though Jackson won't get open regularly, Brady is going to find him when he is in position to catch a pass. Jackson would be a work in progress on many other teams, but working with arguably the most efficient QB in the NFL will pay statistical dividends. Jackson will learn on the job and deliver decent numbers while doing so.
PRIME CUTS
Billy Volek, QB, Chargers (40.6 percent owned): There's no reason to hold onto him anymore now that's he is on San Diego. He's no longer in that Tennessee mess hoping Kerry Collins and Vince Young will play so badly that he might get another chance to start. Volek isn't going to the Chargers because they are concerned about young QB Philip Rivers. They likely just want to get better depth behind him and have a veteran presence who can help Rivers continue to learn on the job. Volek would have been a fine free-agent addition if he was dealt to Oakland or Kansas City. Now he is useless in fantasy football, as Rivers' job is safe and he has managed games very well early on.
Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins (72.3 percent owned): You might still have him just for depth, but there are likely better backup QBs available on your free agent list. Brunell was a nice story early last year, and led Washington to the playoffs, but even a deeper receiving crew hasn't helped him early this season. Brunell has yet to throw a TD pass, and yes, he does face the Texans in the third week, but he's not looking like a quality option anymore, regardless of the matchup.
Wali Lundy, RB, Texans (41.5 percent owned): If you're still holding onto him, forget about the preseason and cut him loose. Lundy has good vision and some quickness, but he doesn't make tacklers miss often enough and he's going to get bumped down on the depth chart very fast. It's just a matter of time before Samkon Gado becomes the clear No. 1 guy in Houston. Ron Dayne was the Texans' leading rusher in the team's second game, and any time a player gets outperformed by Dayne, it's a clear sign he shouldn't be on your fantasy team any more.
Mewelde Moore, RB, Vikings (50.3 percent owned): There's no reason to hold onto him, even as a handcuff to Chester Taylor. Not every running back needs a handcuff player. Moore has performed respectably in the past, but that was when the Vikings were struggling to find a dependable RB and went through a few options. Now it's apparent that Taylor is comfortable being a workhorse and is a good fit for the role. And even if he was to get worn down at some point, Ciatrick Fason could get a chance to show what he can do, and he's another young Viking who could flourish if given an opportunity to play in the future. Antwaan Randle El, WR, Redskins (40.2 percent owned): There's a clear difference between the real NFL and fantasy football sometimes, and Randle El is the perfect example. He's exciting and versatile if you're a Redskins fan, but he is nearly worthless for fantasy purposes. In most fantasy leagues, Randle El only gets points for his receiving production, which often isn't enough to consider him even as a reserve. Don't waste space with him on your roster, when less-heralded free agent receivers can at least offer you better depth.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/18/06)

Sep. 19, 2006, 1:58 PM
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Week 3: Waiver Wire Work


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, we help you improve your fantasy roster by recommending the best players to add and drop. Here are some players you should consider who are probably available on your league's free-agent list, and others you should cut loose if you need to make extra room on your roster.
TOP ADDS
Rex Grossman, QB, Bears (Owned in 11.5 percent of ESPN leagues): This is obviously the hottest free agent addition of the week, so some perspective is needed here. Grossman had a career day against the Lions, and he's certainly worth adding as a fantasy backup. But he has a lot more to prove before he can be considered a quality fantasy starter in most leagues. Grossman has opened the season against two weak opponents and while he can be a good game manager, expecting more of the type of production he has offered so far appears unrealistic. Bernard Berrian has scored in each of the first two games, but will disappear against better opponents. Grossman still has a questionable receiving crew overall, and is more effective when operating a conservative passing attack in the longer term. Don't expect him to throw often enough to post regularly outstanding fantasy numbers if he stays healthy.
Correll Buckhalter, RB, Eagles (4.2 percent owned): Brian Westbrook was able to play this past Sunday, but it's possible his knee inflammation could be a lingering issue. Plus, it's clear the Eagles do need another RB to share some carries with Westbrook, and Buckhalter fits the bill. He had an impressive preseason, and he can make the tougher inside runs that shouldn't be called for Westbrook, especially later in games. If Westbrook goes down at some point, Buckhalter could step forward and benefit greatly from an increased workload. He could split some carries with Ryan Moats (19.3 percent owned), who is also worth adding, especially in leagues that award points for receptions.
Najeh Davenport, RB, Steelers (4.1 percent owned): After Willie Parker rushed for only 20 yards on Monday night, it's clear the Steelers need another inside runner to share some carries with their No. 1 RB, who simply isn't built for a heavy workload. Davenport is the Steelers' only answer after Duce Staley had a disappointing preseason and Verron Haynes showed he isn't anything more than a third-down back. Out of desperation to balance the running game, which clearly has to be a two-pronged attack to succeed regularly, look for Davenport to get the chance to earn a decent amount of carries and some goal-line chances in the weeks ahead. He has yet to play this year, but he could be a worthy flex player a few weeks from now if he can avoid injuries.
Nate Washington, WR, Steelers (0.8 percent owned): We stick with the Steelers theme, because it's clear they need some new players to get more involved offensively. Washington is a Bill Cowher favorite who could be moved into the starting lineup at any time in the near future. Cedrick Wilson has been a bust as a starter, catching just one pass in two games, and rookie Santonio Holmes has been very slow to pick up the nuances of the pro game and still seems to be struggling with the playbook. Washington is tough, fluid and can put up some decent numbers with more playing time. He will be a threat on third downs, in the red zone, and might even get a few carries on reverses and end around plays.
Chad Jackson, WR, Patriots (6.2 percent owned): Injury issues made his stock drop early in the season as he missed the first game. But someone has to step forward in the thin Patriots receiving corps, and even though Jackson lacks experience and polish, he is in a great situation. Tom Brady can make almost any receiver look good, and even though Jackson won't get open regularly, Brady is going to find him when he is in position to catch a pass. Jackson would be a work in progress on many other teams, but working with arguably the most efficient QB in the NFL will pay statistical dividends. Jackson will learn on the job and deliver decent numbers while doing so.
PRIME CUTS
Billy Volek, QB, Chargers (40.6 percent owned): There's no reason to hold onto him anymore now that's he is on San Diego. He's no longer in that Tennessee mess hoping Kerry Collins and Vince Young will play so badly that he might get another chance to start. Volek isn't going to the Chargers because they are concerned about young QB Philip Rivers. They likely just want to get better depth behind him and have a veteran presence who can help Rivers continue to learn on the job. Volek would have been a fine free-agent addition if he was dealt to Oakland or Kansas City. Now he is useless in fantasy football, as Rivers' job is safe and he has managed games very well early on.
Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins (72.3 percent owned): You might still have him just for depth, but there are likely better backup QBs available on your free agent list. Brunell was a nice story early last year, and led Washington to the playoffs, but even a deeper receiving crew hasn't helped him early this season. Brunell has yet to throw a TD pass, and yes, he does face the Texans in the third week, but he's not looking like a quality option anymore, regardless of the matchup.
Wali Lundy, RB, Texans (41.5 percent owned): If you're still holding onto him, forget about the preseason and cut him loose. Lundy has good vision and some quickness, but he doesn't make tacklers miss often enough and he's going to get bumped down on the depth chart very fast. It's just a matter of time before Samkon Gado becomes the clear No. 1 guy in Houston. Ron Dayne was the Texans' leading rusher in the team's second game, and any time a player gets outperformed by Dayne, it's a clear sign he shouldn't be on your fantasy team any more.
Mewelde Moore, RB, Vikings (50.3 percent owned): There's no reason to hold onto him, even as a handcuff to Chester Taylor. Not every running back needs a handcuff player. Moore has performed respectably in the past, but that was when the Vikings were struggling to find a dependable RB and went through a few options. Now it's apparent that Taylor is comfortable being a workhorse and is a good fit for the role. And even if he was to get worn down at some point, Ciatrick Fason could get a chance to show what he can do, and he's another young Viking who could flourish if given an opportunity to play in the future. Antwaan Randle El, WR, Redskins (40.2 percent owned): There's a clear difference between the real NFL and fantasy football sometimes, and Randle El is the perfect example. He's exciting and versatile if you're a Redskins fan, but he is nearly worthless for fantasy purposes. In most fantasy leagues, Randle El only gets points for his receiving production, which often isn't enough to consider him even as a reserve. Don't waste space with him on your roster, when less-heralded free agent receivers can at least offer you better depth.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/18/06)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Rusty Roethlisberger


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By Scott Engel
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->While Ben Roethlisberger certainly was a risky starter in his return to action on Monday night, few fantasy players could have expected Pittsburgh's offense to look as bad as it did. In the lowest-scoring game in the history of "Monday Night Football," the Pittsburgh passing "attack" was completely invisible. Roethlisberger's mechanics were clearly not at an optimum level, and his supporting cast didn't help him at all.
Roethlisberger was blitzed often and hit hard, and Jacksonville's defensive line ruled the night. The Pittsburgh quarterback seemed tentative in the pocket and was not himself because all of the time missed with a preseason motorcycle accident and an appendectomy that cost him the opener. Roethlisberger's passes sailed in key situations, he lacked consistent velocity, and he didn't look fully ready to absorb hits. His usual nifty footwork and abilities to stand in and make tough throws under pressure or improvise on the run were nonexistent. Roethlisberger clearly is not a recommended starter in the third game against Cincinnati, and his teammates aren't looking much better.
Willie Parker rushed for only 20 yards on 11 carries, as the Steelers finished with just 26 rushing yards, the lowest total during the Bill Cowher era. Against a physical Jacksonville front seven, Parker had absolutely no room to run free, and he simply isn't strong enough to carry the ball regularly, especially against stronger defenses. Parker isn't going to benefit from an increased workload this season, and the Steelers clearly need a physical RB to complement him. New acquisition Najeh Davenport needs to get up to speed fast and must stay healthy, because Pittsburgh clearly misses Jerome Bettis, who could bang the ball often enough to keep Parker fresh and defenses off balance much of the time.
The Pittsburgh wide receivers are also a very shaky crew right now. Hines Ward, who caught two passes for 29 yards, is certainly not himself, either, and he is obviously being slowed by recent hamstring issues. Cedrick Wilson has one catch in two games, and rookie Santonio Holmes is slowly adjusting to the pro game. Holmes can be blamed partially for one of Roethlisberger's interceptions, as he never turned around to see the ball on a pass clearly intended for him. He caught only one pass for 15 yards. Tight end Heath Miller caught only one pass after his great statistical opener. Nate Washington led the Steelers witth 32 receiving yards.
But while the Steelers looked terrible last night, that doesn't mean things won't look better soon. Keep Roethlisberger on your bench for now, but in 2-to-3 weeks, with no setbacks, he should benefit from more practice and game reps. Look for him to be a viable fantasy starter soon. Parker won't be consistent, but he will be explosive against weaker opponents. Ward could use some rest to get back into top form, and Miller should rebound quickly. Washington, a Cowher favorite, could settle in comfortably as the team's No. 2 receiver with Wilson and Holmes struggling, and he's worth adding as a free agent. <STYLE> .headshot { visibility: visible; padding: 0px 5px 4px 0px; float: left;} .bottom { font: 10px verdana, san-serif; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; background: #006633; padding: 5px; } </STYLE>BETWEEN THE LINES
The Seahawks announced that new acquisition Deion Branch will make his 2006 debut in the highly-anticipated Sunday game with the Giants. While you might be moved to start Branch, as there has been talk of how well he has looked in practices, it's best to keep him on your bench and see how he fares first. Branch certainly can be an important part of the passing game right away, but there is no reason for the Seahawks to rush him into the flow, as they do have other options to carry the offense while Branch makes himself comfortable. Branch will no doubt draw defensive attention, but that should help Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson see more open room. His presence also will help Matt Hasselbeck spread the ball around more effectively, and he should rebound from a sluggish statistical start to the season. Shaun Alexander should also see more open running lanes very soon with Seattle's deep receiving corps a major threat to defenses on every down, especially with Hasselbeck's tendency to audible often and keep defenses guessing. Branch's presence should help his teammates raise their levels of production right away, but he shouldn't be expected to contribute too much numerically in his first game or two. He missed the entire preseason and two regular season games, and no matter how good a player looks in practice, there is no substitute for real game action. There certainly will be an on-field adjustment period for most players who miss preseason and early-season game action, whether it's for injuries or a holdout.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Javon Walker, WR, Broncos
Five receptions, 79 yards, 0 TD

The Denver passing game has appeared lifeless early, as Jake Plummer has suddenly reverted to his Arizona days, as he seems to be in a funk that has been left over from last year's AFC Championship game. But while Plummer has struggled, Walker, who had his 2005 season ruined by a major knee injury, is showing signs of clear improvement after an up-and-down preseason and a quiet opener in which he suffered a dislocated finger. Not only did Walker average nearly 16 yards per catch, he also carried twice for 21 yards. Even if Plummer continues to struggle, he is going to look for Walker often. Plummer will keep his job for now, and he's going to find ways to get the ball into the hands of Walker very often. And if rookie Jay Cutler does take over the starting job at some point, he will know that Walker will be a major part of his success. Walker did need the preseason to work himself back into form, but it became apparent on Sunday that he is getting somewhat closer to his old form. The Broncos simply have to get better offensively soon, as Plummer has to turn things around or be replaced by the very impressive rookie. Even if neither QB plays consistently, whoever starts should throw the ball enough to keep Walker's numbers looking good in the weeks ahead. If you don't have him, acquire Walker before his value starts to rise.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 2</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Chad Pennington, QB, Jets: Proved his fine opener was no illusion, and WRs are looking good</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>passYDS</TD><TD>passTD</TD><TD>INT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>306</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>22</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings: He's not very exciting, but early results have been good enough</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>ATT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>rec</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>24</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>113</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>15</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>12</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><!-- <tr><td align=center bgcolor="#555555" COLSPAN=6 class="stathead" colspan="6"> </td></tr> --><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Donald Driver, WR, Packers: The main man as the Pack has to air it out regularly</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>8</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>153</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>16</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Randy McMichael, TE, Dolphins: Off to a bad start with QB struggling, but should get better</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>34</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>6</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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<!-- begin also see2 -->Surfin' the Scoreboard


Trainer's Room
? Raiders QB Aaron Brooks is expected to miss two to four weeks because of a strained pectoral muscle. Since the Raiders blew a chance to acquire Billy Volek, now a Charger, they don't have any choice but to go with inexperienced and unreliable backup Andrew Walter, making any defensive unit that starts against the Raiders seem to be a must-start option. Oakland needs help. Marques Tuiasosopo could play at some point as well.
? Shaun Alexander reportedly has a sore foot, but says the injury is not serious. Seahawks left guard Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack could miss six weeks with a shoulder injury, but young Chris Spencer should be a solid fill-in and could be an upgrade
? Titans RB Travis Henry is day-to-day with a toe injury. The Titans RB situation is a mess right now, with Henry hurting and Chris Brown not a factor. The time is now to acquire LenDale White, because he's going to get a chance in the near future to be the guy who can pump some life into the Tennessee ground game.
? Bengals WR Chad Johnson suffered a concussion and a shoulder bruise on Sunday, but the injuries are not considered serious enough to threaten his status for Sunday's game against the Steelers, according to the Dayton Daily News. Johnson said he felt "a little loopy" after the Bengals win over Cleveland, but there appears to be no reason for major concerns. ? Monday Box | Friday Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/18/06)

10 names to buzz about


posted: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


Just before we went live on the Fantasy 3:50 segment on Monday, ESPNEWS anchor Ben Becker hurriedly wrote on the back of his work notes the name Rex Grossman. He didn't say a word. He waived his arms, tried to get my attention. I knew what info he wanted. I made a thumbs down motion.

Five seconds later, he crossed out Rex's name and wrote<!--##FRONTSTOP##--> Philip Rivers. Words still didn't need to be spoken. Did I like Rivers or not? Meanwhile, it's just a few seconds until we would be live on the air. I made a thumbs up motion. Then he scribbled down Cadillac and Bernard Berrian and ... oh, sorry, gotta look at Camera 2 and talk about Terrell Owens now.
If you're a fantasy football player, chances are you're always looking for validation on some player or some situation. Will Steve Smith play or not? Is LaMont Jordan going to stink all year? Should I sign Correll Buckhalter? Everyone has an opinion, and I don't mind sharing mine.
Each week the landscape changes in fantasy football. Before last night people loved Willie Parker. Now those same owners are worried. A week ago Grossman was a curiosity, now his bandwagon is filling up fast. What do you believe? What are you talking about in your leagues?
Here are the 10 names being bandied about the most on this fine Tuesday, with only two weeks of the season actually finished. Still a long way to go. Pace yourself on the worry scale.
? Terrell Owens, Cowboys: No, I'm not real surprised. He breaks or injures parts of his fine tuned body more than you think. No, I can't beat him in a race or catch a football as well as he can, and I never have scored a touchdown with a pen in my sock, but I don't have to do these things to understand the fundamental fact about T.O. Owens missed games in 2002, '03 and '04 with a broken collarbone, fractured fibula, ankle and groin injuries, and he can't score points for you if he's not playing. And certainly we know he's missed games due to "off the field" issues. Next question. If you drafted Owens in round two, you had to know you weren't getting a 16-game season, you just didn't know the actual vehicle for absence.
So what happens with him moving forward? Dallas has a bye the next two weeks -- oh, sorry, it's true they don't play this week, then they face the Titans -- and on Oct. 8 the Eagles will surely be gracious hosts to old pal Terrell. Owens is going to play that game. If there's one game on the schedule he won't miss, it's that one. Drew Rosenhaus wouldn't let him miss it. Fantasy owners can find a replacement the next two weeks.
Something forgotten in all this T.O. mess is that Terry Glenn is probably just as productive. Glenn had a terrific 2005, and has started out hot this season. Losing Owens will not help him or Drew Bledsoe, but it shouldn't matter much against the Titans. Bledsoe's just happy there will be no Jevon Kearse to deal with in three weeks.
? Clinton Portis, Redskins: OK, this situation is getting old, fast. At least with Steve Smith we had clarity before the weekend, knowing that he was out. (As for this week, wait until Friday.) But Joe Gibbs made one mistake when he announced Portis would miss the Week 2 game; he let him make the trip! So some people still played Portis. Washington got blown out anyway, but Portis apparently injured his shoulder worse than the original problem when he got those 10 carries in the Monday night game. Now fantasy owners are worried. I think Portis will play this week and he remains a buy low guy. But if the Skins don't start winning games, Portis might be told to have surgery and it could be a lost season.
? Willie Parker, Steelers: Enough with the injured guys, here's someone who had a big Week 1 and a little Week 2, and since the lasting image we have of him was of Jacksonville repeatedly stuffing him last night, that's what fantasy owners choose to highlight. It's one game. It's one game against a very good defense. Parker might be terrific only against bad defenses, and he might lose goal line carries and he might wear down in December. But if you own the guy, play him in Week 3. It was one bad game. I still trust Fast Willie, so should you.
? Carnell Williams, Buccaneers: Of course, we thought opening weekend was just one bad game for poor Cadillac, and it's becoming clear that might not be the case. We always warn owners about panicking on their first round draft picks, but if I was holding a draft tomorrow, Caddy wouldn't be in my top 20. It's looking like the Bucs just can't move the ball, and while some might wonder why a Jake Plummer and Bledsoe are always being talked about losing their jobs, and Chris Simms never seems to have that issue, the fact is Jon Gruden doesn't really have great options. Bruce Gradkowski doesn't have the same pedigree as Jay Cutler, fair or unfair. Simms might be 0-3 after this weekend's game against Carolina. His over/under on season interceptions, if he plays every game, is no more than 26. I know he's on pace for 48, but c'mon, they'd have to bench him at some point. Pitchers who lose 20 games, they were good enough to remain in the rotation. Simms will be removed at some point unless he wins soon. He's taking Cadillac down with him. Don't drop the running back, but sit him until you see a spark.
? Rex Grossman, Bears: So why can't I jump on the Grossman bandwagon? I will if he throws four touchdowns against the Vikings, OK? It might only take two to convince me. I don't want to hammer home the obvious, but torching those Packers and Lions secondaries just isn't enough for me to start Rex over early underachievers (and safe veterans) Tom Brady, Marc Bulger and Matt Hasselbeck (Plummer and Bledsoe, I'd consider that). Grossman wasn't supposed to be bad, he just had a bad preseason. And there's not enough of a sample size on his career because he rarely was on a field. He's healthy now and admittedly looks good, but exposing a Lions defense for a few hours just isn't enough.
? Frank Gore, 49ers: Those who own Gore are thinking they are geniuses at this point. No, really, in every league there's someone who "stole" this guy in round four dancing around in front of his buddies who are sputtering with Jordan, Cadillac and the dreaded Kevin Jones. Well, after two weeks, Gore sure does look like the real thing. I'm not going to call him a sell-high guy, because I think he will be productive all season. That's reasonable. Alex Smith is a threat at quarterback, he has nice weapons to throw to, and Gore is very talented. Will Gore be a top 10 back this season? I'd lean toward saying yes.
? Eli Manning, Giants: What have you been saying about him? I think a lot of people think his Week 2 performance was a fluke. I disagree. He's legit. Enjoy him.
? Reggie Bush, Saints: I'm still playing this guy every week, because there's always going to be the chance that he breaks the long run. And even if he has another week or two in which he rushes six times for five yards, he's got 15 catches in two games! He's a gamebreaker. He's definitely worth using in fantasy, and he's also going to have some games with 100 yards rushing.
? Daunte Culpepper, Dolphins: The funny thing here is that this is pretty much what fantasy experts expected to happen. Culpepper was bad last season before the knee blew out, with 12 interceptions and six touchdown passes. He wasn't as mobile. He didn't have weapons. He was average. Now that he's clearly a pocket passer, he's not nearly as effective. Oh sure, he's got ability, and he'll be a nice fantasy option this weekend against the brutal Titans, but in AFC East games, until further notice, he's not a top 10 fantasy quarterback, or close to it.
? Ravens defense: Received an e-mail today from a loyal reader, who writes, "Eric, I gotta thank you for putting Baltimore's D third on your preseason list. All the magazines and such had them barely in the top 10. They have led two of my teams to 2-0 starts (along with Donovan McNabb). Great call! Ravens continue their huge success against the Browns this week." For those who aren't aware, the Baltimore defense has been exceptional so far, shutting out Tampa Bay in their place and enjoying a cakewalk over Oakland's backup quarterback. This week Cleveland shouldn't be much of a threat. How will the Ravens match up against the big division teams from Cincy and Pittsburgh? Quite well, I think. In Week 1 the Ravens and Bears led all fantasy defenses with 22 points, a mere four points off the league lead (Gore had 26 points). In Week 2 Baltimore scored 27 points, behind only Grossman and Peyton Manning. So after two weeks, the Ravens defense has led fantasy owners to 49 points. Nobody in fantasy has more.
***
Billy Volek was finally traded today to the Chargers, as the Titans gave up on a guy who they buried on the depth chart. Could Volek have led the Titans to a pair of losses to open the season? Absolutely. Would he have looked any worse than Kerry Collins? Probably not. So why did Tennessee sign Collins? Can't tell you. It's clear the team wants Vince Young to take his time learning the offense, throwing him in blindly for a few plays each losing game, but not letting him run the team. In time, Young will get his chance. Fantasy owners will want to know the name in 2007, but not play him now.
As for Collins, don't play him either. Just look at his Week 2 stats. Even Brett Favre wasn't that bad down the stretch last season.
Volek is insurance for Philip Rivers, who I just happen to think is the real deal right now. I know it sounds strange to recommend Rivers, when all he's done is blow out awful Tennessee and Oakland, while I remain cautious on Grossman, but that's how I feel until I see otherwise. Big game for Rivers in Week 4 at Ray Lewis and the Ravens. Until then, with this bye week, Rivers looks terrific.
Even if Volek never makes a significant fantasy impact again, we'll always have Weeks 13-15 in 2004. Volek and Drew Bennett were the best players in fantasy for the final week of the regular season and first two playoff weeks. Think about it. You were unbeaten through your regular season, had a dominant team, and someone picked up Volek and Bennett in the playoffs and killed you. Happened to a lot of people. Volek threw for 426 and 492 yards and a combined nine touchdowns those two weeks. It was unprecedented. And just that fast, you stuck with Volek for Week 15 and got what you deserved when he was 8-for-20 for 111 yards and two picks against the Broncos. Billy Volek, fantasy hero for two or three weeks, a shining star, and now he's a Charger. Go get another third quarterback in fantasy.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 9/19/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 9/19/06)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Jake's snakebitten


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->Any time Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has something to say publicly about his players' roles, fantasy owners have to raise an eyebrow, wondering whether the game's most cryptic coach is really being true to his word. That's why his endorsement of Jake Plummer as his starting quarterback following Plummer's second straight disappointing effort in Week 2 might be met with some skepticism in fantasy leagues.
It's not that Plummer is, or ever has been, an elite fantasy quarterback. Not once in his career has he ever topped 30 touchdown passes in a season, and in four seasons he had more interceptions than TDs. But since his move to Denver in 2003, Plummer had actually been one of the more underrated quarterbacks, averaging 224.1 passing yards per game and compiling 60 TDs compared to 34 interceptions in 43 starts from 2003-05.
This season, however, Plummer has gotten off to a dreadful start, completing only 51.8 percent of his pass attempts, and getting sacked and picked off four times apiece compared to no TDs in two games. Strangely enough, it's a remarkably similar trend to his start to the 2005 season, when Plummer had a 52.9 completion percentage, one TD, three interceptions and four sacks in his first two games, coincidentally after which Denver was 1-1.
And perhaps that's the reason Shanahan has such faith in Plummer. Remember, this is a guy who, for fantasy at least, is a matchups type, the kind of guy you picked late and probably paired with another similar option to slot in based on the schedule. Plummer stepped up as a remarkably consistent and mistake-free quarterback beginning with Week 3 a year ago, and let's not overlook how strong he has been in his home games as a member of the Broncos; from 2003-05 he averaged 245.2 passing yards with 35 TDs and 14 interceptions in 22 games at Invesco Field at Mile High. He's in for a tough test at New England in Week 3, so Shanahan's probably also going to give him a few more chances after that to repeat his 2005 turnaround, like the Week 4 and 5 home games against Baltimore and Oakland, respectively.
Rookie Jay Cutler could indeed become a factor if Plummer can't get himself straightened out by midseason, but a team like Denver turning to such an inexperienced quarterback would serve as a sign of desperation. It's hardly what fantasy owners of receivers Javon Walker or Rod Smith want to see, so keep hoping Plummer rebounds and returns to form as a useful fantasy option in home games or road contests against poor pass defenses. <STYLE> .headshot { visibility: visible; padding: 0px 5px 4px 0px; float: left;} .bottom { font: 10px verdana, san-serif; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; background: #006633; padding: 5px; } </STYLE>BETWEEN THE LINES
As expected, the Atlanta Falcons' defense continued to hassle opposing quarterbacks in Week 2, this time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chris Simms. Strangely, Atlanta's pass rush continued its high level of effectiveness despite the absence of DE John Abraham, with three interceptions and a sack. The Falcons should be owned in most fantasy leagues at this point, and while I see a few games against elite offense that are of concern (Week 6 vs. Giants, Week 8 at Bengals, Week 17 at Eagles), there are also a fair share of games on the schedule in which the defense could shut down a shaky passing game. For those of you who like to rotate in defenses based on the matchup -- as I do -- the Weeks 3 and 12 games against the Saints, Week 10 against the Browns, Week 13 at the Redskins and Week 14 at the Buccaneers could be standout plays if the team's remarkable play continues. ? Sticking with the defenses, I'd find that most middling-or-better defenses scheduled to face the Tennessee Titans should make intriguing one-week plays. Tennessee's offense is reeling, probably forced to turn to a heavy dose of untested rookies (QB Vince Young and RB LenDale White) at certain points this season, and that'll lead to plenty of mistakes in which an opponent's defense can capitalize. Miami's defense in Week 3, in my mind, is a must-play, unless you own a team like the Ravens, Bears or Eagles, and among the less-dominating defenses that face Tennessee you should consider later in the season are the Colts (Weeks 5 and 13), Redskins (Week 6), Jaguars (Weeks 9 and 15), Giants (Week 12), Bills (Week 16) and Patriots (Week 17).


THE BOTTOM LINE

Carnell Williams, RB, Buccaneers
15 carries, 37 rushing yards, 0 TD

Oh, he'll swear to you that his back spasms aren't the cause of his poor performance through two weeks of the season, but with 23 carries for 59 yards and no scores combined during that span, Williams clearly isn't close to the runner he was as a rookie in 2005, when he managed six 100-yard rushing efforts, scored six times and averaged 4.1 yards per rushing attempt. This season, Cadillac's yards-per-carry average is a paltry 2.6, not much better than the 2.0 he managed in his first three games coming off ankle and foot problems that cost him Weeks 5-6 of the 2005 season. It's nice to see Williams being gritty and trying to play through his back issues, and they're clearly still present if he's concerned about it tightening up when he hits the sideline. But for fantasy, his injury worries need to be taken into account. Tampa Bay's offensive line isn't providing nearly enough support for a running back playing at less than 100 percent, and Chris Simms isn't doing a good enough job keeping defenses honest to take the focus off Cadillac. All that adds up to a risky option as any more than a flex option or No. 2 in deeper leagues, and the worry is that Williams could risk aggravating the problem if it's more serious than he's letting on. His owners shouldn't give up on him by any means, but temper your expectations for him for now, hopefully only until after he gets a week's rest from the bye in Week 4.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 2</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: Averaging 40 throws a game, and the Eagles will keep letting him air it out.</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>passYDS</TD><TD>passTD</TD><TD>INT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>350</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>31</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>25</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Has stepped up as a bona fide weekly No. 2 fantasy RB, and has potential for more.</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>ATT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>29</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>127</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>10</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>17</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><!-- <tr><td align=center bgcolor="#555555" COLSPAN=6 class="stathead" colspan="6"> </td></tr> --><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Antonio Bryant, WR, 49ers: No. 1 receiver on an offense led by a rapidly developing QB (Alex Smith).</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>131</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>8</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>21</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>L.J. Smith, TE, Eagles: Eagles' focus on pass helps him; Donovan McNabb's spreading the ball around nicely.</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>111</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>12</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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<!-- begin also see2 -->Surfin' the Scoreboard


Lineup Shuffling
? The Falcons signed K Morten Andersen out of retirement, and the 46-year-old should provide immediate competition to K Michael Koenen for his job. The Falcons are likely to use Andersen in shorter field-goal attempts of 40 yards or less, and Koenen on longer chances, which does nothing but limit both players' fantasy potential. Since kickers are easily replaceable in fantasy leagues, feel free to cut the struggling Koenen.
? The Chargers acquired QB Billy Volek from the Titans Tuesday, and he'll serve as the backup and insurance to QB Philip Rivers. Rivers' job isn't at all in jeopardy, meaning Volek's best chance at seeing any playing time all season is an injury to Rivers. Don't bother with a handcuff for Rivers; he's not a strong enough fantasy player to require one.

Trainer's Room
? Bengals WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (heel) is expected to return in Week 3 at the Steelers. It'll be interesting to see how Cincinnati works Houshmandzadeh in now that WR Chris Henry has stepped up as a viable receiving target, but Houshmandzadeh is likely to reclaim his No. 2 receiver role at least for this week. It's a tough matchup for either player, so Henry should be avoided, while Houshmandzadeh is only a fringe No. 3 WR.
? Redskins RB Clinton Portis (shoulder) says he'll play in Week 3 at the Texans. Of course, he said he'd be available for Week 2 and then was a surprise late scratch, so Portis owners should monitor his progress in practice all week. He'd be facing a great matchup if he's able to play, and even at less than 100 percent, he'd be a fine No. 2 RB. ? Tuesday Box | Monday Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 9/19/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 9/19/06)

Sep. 20, 2006, 2:13 PM
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Engel: Can Culpepper and Foster bounce back?


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each Wednesday, we take a quick-hitting, fantasy-style look at some of the most important stories and trends at the three critical positions in fantasy football.
Quarterbacks
Despite his quarterback's early-season struggles, Dolphins head coach Nick Saban said early this week that he was not thinking of benching Daunte Culpepper yet. Culpepper has not looked good for a variety of reasons. Culpepper's mechanics obviously have been affected because of his repaired knee. Culpepper clearly doesn't plant and throw with authority, and many of his passes seem to lack the proper velocity. When he is under pressure in key situations, Culpepper has struggled with his accuracy. While he has made enough strides in his recovery to play, Culpepper is clearly not effective when it counts.
Culpepper has also made poor decisions at critical moments, and while he has often been willing to dump passes off in flat and short areas, which make his completion rate look better than he is actually playing (41 completions in 69 attempts), he hasn't often been able to deliver the ball to his key receivers during the most important points of games. Chris Chambers should be credited with making an amazing touchdown reception this past Sunday, but he had to make an acrobatic reach for the ball because Culpepper threw it so far and away from him. It was another of Culpepper's early-season throws that seem to die just before they reaches their intended targets, yet Chambers was able to save it from bouncing into the end zone for an incompletion.
Culpepper doesn't exhibit a solid setup and release, and is clearly not comfortable playing on his surgically-repaired knee. But his offensive line and receivers must also be blamed for some of Culpepper's problems. His pass blocking has been inconsistent, and when defenses clamp down on Chambers, other receivers aren't getting open enough. Culpepper's performance against Tennessee will be crucial to his starting status. If he appears to be sluggish against a very bad pass defense, Culpepper could be in real danger of losing his job temporarily. The friendly matchup doesn't make Culpepper a must-start player by any means. And if Joey Harrington gets the call soon, he's certainly no savior or even a solid fantasy reserve.
QB Audibles: Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards said there is no clear timetable for the return of Trent Green. Damon Huard will continue to lead the Kansas City offense, with no sign of the team being able to acquire a better starter any time soon. ? Jeff Fisher said that he will stick with Kerry Collins, although he might be thinking differently in private. There seems to be no choice but for Fisher to go with Vince Young soon if Collins continues to play badly. The Titans have no real chance to contend and even in limited action, Young has looked like he could move the offense more efficiently than Collins. Collins might be a good tutor for Young, but he shouldn't be starting over him. If Young gets the chance to play more often, it could mean slightly improved numbers for the Tennessee receivers. Young will make mistakes, but he also has the natural ability to play respectably in streaks.
Running Backs
After an impressive performance in the Panthers' second game, DeAngelo Williams has created a stir in fantasy leagues. Williams outrushed starter DeShaun Foster, as Williams finished with 74 yards and a score, while Foster totaled only 26 yards rushing at Minnesota. Williams clearly has a lot of upside, and one has to wonder how much past injuries have taken some toll on Foster, who isn't looking like the same occasionally explosive player he used to be in the past.
Williams, who has great vision and can run effectively both inside and outside, also has breakaway potential. He could be the dependable and sometimes outstanding runner the Panthers have sought to stabilize the position for some time. But Panthers head coach John Fox has confirmed that Foster remains his starter for now, and Williams will need a lot more than just one promising outing to soar past Foster on the depth chart. Williams has at least earned the right to share carries with Foster, and Fox indicated the two RBs will split reps going forward. Foster's fantasy value obviously takes a hit, while Williams' appeal continues to rise.
Both players are good flex options right now, as Foster could be motivated to raise his level of play in an effort to keep his starting job, while Williams continues to push for more field time. But ultimately, Williams should end up being the top RB for Carolina. Foster's injury history is well-documented, and even if he stays healthy, he might not be able to consistently outplay the rookie. Foster could play better for a game or two as his job is being threatened, but it's hard to see him holding off Williams in the long term.
RB Cutbacks: Further complicating the Dallas RB picture, Tyson Thompson could now get some more carries, especially while the Cowboys could lean more on the running game while Terrell Owens is out. Julius Jones should not be considered anything more than a flex player after the bye and Marion Barber belongs on your bench, as he is too risky from a statistical perspective. Only add Thompson if you are desperate for RB help, as he shouldn't get enough touches to help your fantasy team. ?According to published reports, Kevan Barlow is set to take over as the startng RB for the Jets in their third game. While Barlow's yardage totals will often be mediocre, he should score a decent amount of TDs as the Jets continue to move the ball well in the air and put him into position for short scoring runs.
Wide Receivers
After two weeks of frustration for his fantasy owners, T.J. Houshmandzadeh should be able to return from a heel injury for the upcoming showdown with the Steelers, it seems. Head coach Marvin Lewis told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Houshmandzadeh is improving after missing the first two games, and he expects him to play in the team's third game.
Of course, Houshmandzadeh was listed as probable for the Bengals' first two games, and didn't play, so fantasy leaguers can't plug him in yet with any high degree of confidence. It certainly is possible that Lewis could be trying to keep the Steelers guessing as they ready for what should be an emotional game. If any part of the Pittsburgh defense seems vulnerable it is the secondary, so Houshmandzadeh should be a good start if he is not downgraded prior to gametime like he was in the first two weeks.
Houhsmandzadeh's possible return doesn't mean you should expect Chris Henry suddenly to go silent, though. The Bengals became well-known for spreading the ball among their receivers last year when all of their best three wideouts were healthy. You can look for Carson Palmer to attack the Pittsburgh secondary this week, with Henry being a key factor and useful No. 3 fantasy receiver. WR Patterns: New Packer Koren Robinson is expected to see more work in practices and should start to become more involved in the passing game soon. It's conceivable he could pass Robert Ferguson on the depth chart at some point, but doubtful he would start later in the year over Greg Jennings, who has firmly established himself as the Packers' No. 2 WR. Robinson should be added only if you are desperate for receiving help in a league of at least 14 teams. ? The Panthers' Drew Carter suffered a fractured finger in Sunday's loss at Minnesota, and hasn't produced as hoped with Steve Smith out. If he is still on your roster, cut him loose.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 9/19/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 9/19/06)

Sep. 20, 2006, 10:00 AM
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FFL: Week 3 Lineup Rankings


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->Quarterbacks
1. Peyton Manning vs. JAC
2. Donovan McNabb at SF
3. Eli Manning at SEA
<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->4. Carson Palmer at PIT
5. Tom Brady vs. DEN
6. Kurt Warner vs. STL
7. Marc Bulger at ARI
8. Matt Hasselbeck vs. NYG
9. Drew Brees vs. ATL
10. Chad Pennington at BUF
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER type="block" height="1" width="8"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>[FONT=Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif]We rate players based on possible fantasy production each week, taking into account past production as well as matchups. These are not overall player rankings, but rather a list of who you should start for the upcoming week. Top superstars will rarely get moved out of the prime spots, as they should not be benched unless injured. Most players with an unclear injury or starting status for the upcoming week will not be included. All four major offensive positions and defense/special teams units are ranked. [/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>11. Rex Grossman at MIN
12. Brett Favre at DET
13. Daunte Culpepper vs. TEN
14. Steve McNair at CLE
15. Byron Leftwich at IND
16. Michael Vick at NO
17. Jake Delhomme at TB
18. David Carr vs. WAS
19. Ben Roethlisberger vs. CIN
20. Jon Kitna vs. GB
21. Mark Brunell at HOU
22. Jake Plummer at NE
23. Alex Smith vs. PHI
24. Brad Johnson vs. CHI
25. J.P. Losman vs. NYJ
26. Charlie Frye vs. BAL
27. Chris Simms vs. CAR
28. Kerry Collins at MIA

Running Backs
1. Shaun Alexander vs. NYG
2. Tiki Barber at SEA
3. Steven Jackson at ARI
4. Ronnie Brown vs. TEN
5. Rudi Johnson at PIT
6. Edgerrin James vs. STL
7. Willie Parker vs. CIN
8. Willis McGahee vs. NYJ
9. Frank Gore vs. PHI
10. Warrick Dunn at.NO
11. Reggie Bush vs. ATL
12. Brian Westbrook at SF
13. Corey Dillon vs. DEN
14. Jamal Lewis at CLE
15. Chester Taylor vs. CHI
16. Tatum Bell at NE
17. Laurence Maroney vs. DEN
18. Ahman Green at DET
19. Kevin Jones vs. GB
20. Deuce McAllister vs. ATL
21. DeShaun Foster at TB
22. DeAngelo Williams at TB
23. Carnell Williams vs. CAR
24. Fred Taylor at IND
25. Thomas Jones at MIN
26. Reuben Droughns vs. BAL
27. Dominic Rhodes vs. JAC
28. Joseph Addai vs. JAC
29. Ladell Betts at HOU
30. Mike Bell at NE
31. Kevan Barlow at BUF
32. Chris Brown at MIA
33. Jerious Norwood at NO
34. Cedric Benson at MIN
35. Brandon Jacobs at SEA
36. Travis Henry at MIA
37. Ron Dayne vs. WAS
38. Wali Lundy vs. WAS
39. LenDale White at MIA
40. T.J. Duckett at HOU

Wide Receivers
1. Chad Johnson at PIT
2. Marvin Harrison vs. JAC
3. Santana Moss at HOU
4. Torry Holt at ARI
5. Anquan Boldin vs. STL
6. Larry Fitzgerald vs. STL
7. Donte' Stallworth at SF
8. Donald Driver at DET
9. Reggie Wayne vs. JAC
10. Plaxico Burress at SEA
11. Hines Ward vs. CIN
12. Laveranues Coles at BUF
13. Chris Chambers vs. TEN
14. Andre Johnson vs. WAS
15. Joey Galloway vs. CAR
16. Roy Williams vs. GB
17. Antonio Bryant vs. PHI
18. Darrell Jackson vs. NYG
19. T.J. Houshmandzadeh at PIT
20. Javon Walker at NE
21. Amani Toomer at SEA
22. Joe Horn vs. ATL
23. Lee Evans vs. NYJ
24. Derrick Mason at CLE
25. Muhsin Muhammad at MIN
26. Troy Williamson vs. CHI
27. Greg Jennings at DET
28. Matt Jones at IND
29. Jerricho Cotchery at BUF
30. Reggie Brown at SF
31. Drew Bennett at MIA
32. Bernard Berrian at MIN
33. Marques Colston vs. ATL
34. Isaac Bruce at ARI
35. Reggie Williams at IND
36. Marty Booker vs. TEN
37. Rod Smith at NE
38. Chris Henry at PIT
39. Chad Jackson vs. DEN
40. Deion Branch vs. NYG
41. Braylon Edwards vs. BAL
42. Eric Moulds vs. WAS
43. Keyshawn Johnson at TB
44. Michael Jenkins at.NO
45. Mike Furrey vs. GB
46. Mark Clayton at CLE
47. Michael Clayton vs. CAR
48. Brandon Lloyd at HOU
49. Ernest Wilford at IND
50. Devery Henderson vs. ATL
51. Antwaan Randle El at HOU
52. Nate Burleson vs. NYG
53. David Givens at MIA
54, Troy Brown vs. DEN
55. Roddy White at NO
56. Nate Washington vs. CIN
57. Drew Carter at TB
58. Marcus Robinson vs. CHI
59. Doug Gabriel vs. DEN
60. Robert Ferguson at DET

Tight Ends
1. Todd Heap at CLE
2. Jeremy Shockey at SEA
3. L.J. Smith at SF
4. Alge Crumpler at NO
5. Randy McMichael vs. TEN
6. Heath Miller vs. CIN
7. Chris Cooley at HOU
8. Benjamin Watson vs. DEN
9. Desmond Clark at MIN
10. Kellen Winslow Jr. vs. BAL
11. Vernon Davis vs. PHI
12. Dallas Clark vs, JAC
13. Marcus Pollard vs. GB
14. Bubba Franks at DET
15. Joe Klopfenstein at ARI
16. Chris Baker at BUF
17. Jermaine Wiggins vs. CHI
18. John Gilmore at MIN
19. Ben Troupe at MIA
20. Adam Bergen vs. STL
21. Bryan Fletcher vs. JAC
22. Alex Smith vs. CAR
23. Tony Scheffler at NR
24. Daniel Graham vs. DEN
25. Ben Utecht vs. JAC

Defense/Special Teams
1. Chicago at MIN
2. Baltimore at CLE
3. Pittsburgh vs. CIN
4. Carolina at TB
5. Miami vs. TEN
6. Philadelphia at SF
7. Indianapolis vs. JAC
8. Cincinnati at PIT
9. N.Y. Giants at SEA
10. Washington at HOU
11. Jacksonville at IND
12. Seattle vs. NYG
13. Tampa Bay vs. CAR
14. Atlanta at NO
15. New England vs. DEN
16. Minnesota vs. CHI
17. N.Y. Jets at BUF
18. Buffalo vs. NYJ
19. Denver at NE
20. Cleveland vs. BAL
21. New Orleans vs. ATL
22. Green Bay at DET
23. Detroit vs. GB
24. St. Louis at ARI
25. Arizona vs. STL
26. San Francisco vs. PHI
27. Houston vs. WAS
28. Tennessee at MIA

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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

Sep. 21, 2006, 12:56 PM
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Week 3: 10 Things to watch


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, I provide my list of 10 things I'm watching on game day, so you'll be prepared for some of the week's biggest developments in advance of them happening.
Chester Taylor's workload. His rushing attempts did take a hit in Week 2, dropping from 31 to 24, but with 55 on the season, Taylor is nevertheless on pace for a record-setting, 440-carry campaign (30 more than Jamal Anderson's 410 in 1998). For fantasy, it's nice to see him getting so much work, since it maximizes Taylor's chances at earning us points, but for fantasy, it's also a concern to see him getting so much work, since a 400-plus carry pace will do nothing but increase the likelihood he'll wear down the second half of the season. His career high in carries, incidentally, was 160 in 2004, so either his legs are fresher or he's not physically prepared for such a boost in his workload. Whichever it is, we're going to find out, because coach Brad Childress remains committed to a heavy dose of Taylor, meaning a 400-carry season, barring injury, is well within reach. He'll surely touch the ball enough to make an impact against the Bears, but could soon be a sell-high candidate.
Ben Roethlisberger's health. Was it his 100.4 temperature -- nope, it wasn't 104, which would have left him positively delirious -- or the remnants of his appendectomy that caused him to perform so poorly in his first game of the season? Roethlisberger has had a rough go of it so far this year, and while he looked so promising leading his Steelers to Super Bowl glory last season, it's any wonder how quickly he'll return to that upward career trend. He's bound to be tested in Week 3 against the Bengals -- they scored 38 points against the Steelers in Week 13 last season -- and if he can't hang in there in what could be a surprising shoot-out, it's not going to speak well of his fantasy value for the short term.
Carolina's changing of the guard? It's no longer a question of whether DeAngelo Williams will take over the Panthers' starting running back job, it's when he'll do so. DeShaun Foster has had trouble breaking free of opposing tacklers this season, and his 2.9 yards-per-carry average shows how he's not getting the job done, endorsements by coach John Fox aside. Week 3 is a critical game for these Panthers, now facing a possible 0-3 start and two division losses, meaning Foster's probably on a much shorter leash than is being let on. I have a feeling Williams will get his chance to carry the offense at some point on Sunday, and if he's the key to victory, his reward should be the job.
Frank Gore's first big challenge. The one knock on Gore that few people seem to be discussing is his fumbling issues, as he has lost a fumble in each of his first two games, both critical gaffes. In Week 1, his fumble led to an Arizona touchdown, and in Week 2, his fumble cost him and the 49ers a potential touchdown, as he lost the ball at the two-yard line. Those aren't things that should condemn Gore, not by any means, but if he registers a disappointing performance here or there in the next several weeks, it's something people could begin worrying about. The Week 3 game against Philadelphia presents Gore his first true defensive challenge of his career, and while I'm confident in his ability, he could really use a big-time effort here because it'd lock him in as a must-start option.
The great Jay Cutler debate. I never know what quite to believe from Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, though to his credit, he seems to have been fairly honest with his comments about his running backs so far this season. I'll take him for his word again when he says quarterback Jake Plummer's job isn't in immediate jeopardy, because when he says Plummer got off to a similar slow start in 2005 but turned things around in Week 3, he's not lying. That's really the way Plummer's season shook out. Granted, this year's Week 3 game (at New England) is a lot tougher than last year's (vs. Kansas City), but that could mean Plummer gets at least this and the Week 5 game against Baltimore to turn his season around. Otherwise, the Cutler talk could indeed become a reality.
Washington's inept offense. For a proper representation of how poorly quarterback Mark Brunell has performed, consider that with eight minutes to go in last Sunday's game, he had completed only eight of 20 pass attempts for 69 yards, no scores and an interception, meaning he actually played much worse than the full-game numbers looked (197 yards, no TDs, one interception). Pitting him against the Texans' defense might have some owners thinking Brunell and his mates are all fine plays, but some players' talent winds up beneath exploiting the matchup, and I think this is one of those cases where Washington players are better show-me types than actual fantasy starts. Clinton Portis, Santana Moss and Chris Cooley are all going to wind up too good to sit now that the bye weeks are here, but my advice is to be careful. I don't see any breakout efforts and this is a game better suited to Brunell et al proving whether this team can capitalize on good matchups at all.
Kevan Barlow's first chance to start. That Jets running back-by-committee situation is quite a mess for fantasy purposes, but don't forget, at the time the team acquired Barlow, everyone was under the assumption that the starting job this season would be his. Now it looks like it is, with Derrick Blaylock's stock dropping, and a strong effort in Week 3 against the Bills would go a long way towards Barlow reclaiming matchups status in most leagues. Remember, it's not talent necessarily that has held Barlow back from being a reliable fantasy starter, it's been health; too often nagging injuries have hindered his on-field performance. One good thing: He's sure looking healthy right now.
Daunte Culpepper's passing problems. Isn't this about what we all should have expected from Culpepper in his return from knee surgery? He no longer scrambles, and as more of a pocket passer, anytime he makes those ill-advised throws his fantasy owners are going to question his talent. Culpepper is sure looking a lot like someone to play against poor defenses and avoid against good ones, and in Week 3, he sure has a nice matchup against the Titans. It'd be nice to see him enjoy some degree of success, because if he doesn't, one has to wonder whether he'll be trustworthy at all for fantasy this season.
Reggie's rough time as a runner. Some might call Saints rookie Reggie Bush a disappointment for having not scored a touchdown and averaged only 5.3 yards per touch so far -- yes, that includes his receptions -- but the truth is that he has been a key component of the New Orleans offense. He truly makes some acrobatic catches, and is as talented if not more so as a pass catcher than any other running back in the league. Before long, Bush is going to settle into an NFL groove, letting his talent take over instead of seemingly having to try to make big plays, and when that happens he's going to become the kind of fantasy player a Marshall Faulk was in his prime (picking a fairly recent example). The next couple of weeks should give us a better idea of how quickly that will happen. Rex Grossman's astonishing start. What a performance from Grossman the first two weeks of the season, with 551 passing yards and five touchdowns en route to the league's leading passer rating (128.7). I know, passer rating is irrelevant to fantasy, but you can't deny that Grossman has been arguably the most surprising story to date. The problem, however, is that his success has come largely at the hands of two terrible secondaries (Green Bay and Detroit), and with the Bears' running game looking rather shaky, it's no surprise he was the offensive focus in those contests. Grossman now begins facing teams that should challenge him a bit more, and I'd say he needs about three standout games before being considered a trustworthy No. 2/matchups type quarterback.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

Sep. 21, 2006, 12:49 PM
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Hec & Vic Debate Week 3


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Question: Is Rex Grossman for real?
Victor: Are you for real? This guy has one big game against the Detroit Kittens and all of a sudden he's the next Brett Favre? He's not even the next Billy Volek yet! At least he had more than one big game in a row. Hector could look good against the Lions, and I'm not talking about his video game skills, either. The same people who are endorsing Grossman are the same people who swore Joey Harrington was finally going to have a career season before 2005. Look, Grossman isn't terrible, but he's certainly no superstar. Ultimately, he'll be a decent occasional starter. His receivers aren't that good. Bernard Berrian looks like Olive Oyl in a football helmet and he'll be a regular injury risk. He's fast, but you need more than speed to be regularly successful. Berrian could be Frisman Jackson times two. Two good weeks and he's gone faster than a woman who meets Hector in person after talking to him on the internet.
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER type="block" height="1" width="8"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>[FONT=Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif]Each week, the sometimes terrific Hector and the rarely tolerant Victor, who have been together longer than the Rolling Stones, join us to answer some key fantasy football questions. We get what we can from them, because while they seem to genuinely dislike each other at times, there is mutual respect. And if they aren't battling each other to the point where one of them storms off, Victor usually has to leave to grab some White Castle burgers at some point. So let's get started. And don't forget to check out their game-by-game previews and full projections! [/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
Hector: Everyone looks skinny to you. When you turn to your side, you look like a lowercase letter b. I have no problems with the ladies. You're the one who has been alone longer than a Florida Marlins season-ticket holder. As for Grossman, he's no Favre, I actually agree, but he's no Harrington, either. Grossman is a smart quarterback with good pocket presence who simply has to stay healthy to produce decent numbers on a regular basis. He can be a solid, but not outstanding, fantasy starter. He is rated a bit high right now, though, like your weight.
Victor: Everyone looks large to you. You're built like a street lamp. You make Todd Pinkston look fat.
Question: Alright, alright, you guys, enough about your weights. We know that you look like the number 10 when you stand next to each other. Speaking of the number 10, it looks like there are that many running backs in the Houston backfield, Who emerges as the ultimate starter there?
Victor: Watch the cracks, ESPN boy. You ask the questions, and that's it. Don't make me stomp you like a second-grader could do to Victor. He'd lose to Clay Aiken in a street fight. As for the Houston RB situation, Wali Lundy's stock is fading faster than Howard Stern's audience. The odds of Ron Dayne rebounding and finally becoming a good fantasy player are longer than the chances of Paris Hilton's album outselling Beyonce. It's all about Samkon Gado. He's going to be a great story two years in a row, kind of like how Hector won "Most likely to be in the next Revenge of the Nerds sequel" two years in a row in high school.
Hector: You actually mentioned Paris Hilton's album? Like I said, you spend too much time alone. And that's probably your taste in music. We all know you have the Vanilla Ice Box Set and the New Kids on the Block DVD collection. As for the Houston RBs, who cares? Wali Lundy is a joke, like Victor's social life. He spends too much time in the local Burger King, hoping to get hired part-time to get free food and actually meet people. Ron Dayne is the biggest annual joke since the Pittsburgh Pirates lost Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla. Gado is overrated. He didn't grasp the offense in Green Bay and couldn't stay in town over Noah Herron. Who the heck is Noah Herron? Is he opening for Yanni on his next tour?
Question: Should we be worried about Brian Westbrook?
Victor: You should be as worried as Victor is about Wal-Mart not carrying size 48 slacks. Westbrook still has reported swelling in his knee, and it looks like the problem is going to linger. I admire the fact that he was able to play against the Giants, but injuries have been a concern for Westbrook since the preseason. Pick up Correll Buckhalter if he is available in your fantasy league. And don't forget about Ryan Moats, who reminds me a lot of Westbrook when he plays.
Hector: Correll Buckhalter? That guy is less reliable than your therapist. He's always been mentioned as a sleeper, then gets hurt. He's always disappointing, much like your dating prospects. Moats is the guy I want. No one is talking about him, and he'll be better than Buckhalter. My knee hurts just talking about Buckhalter.
Victor: Your knee hurts because it's holding up your big waist. I've had enough. Go stick a pin in yourself and I hope you fly away.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

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Today's top 12?


posted: Thursday, September 21, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


By this point I'd imagine 99.9 percent of fantasy football leagues have drafted. I mean, it's Week 3 already, what are you waiting for? But it's never too late to ask this question, even if nobody needs the info for those purposes:

If you're drafting today, what would be your top 12?
Through the glory of hindsight, we have plenty of information about who is off to a good start, who isn't, who has been hurt, which teams are holding their players back statistically, you name it.
So, if I just happen to be drafting today, here's my new top 12. Sure, we've learned some things, but it doesn't mean you forget about everything we thought this offseason.
First, my top 12 before the season was:
1. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks
2. Larry Johnson, Chiefs
3. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
4. Tiki Barber, Giants
5. Rudi Johnson, Bengals
6. Steven Jackson, Rams
7. Edgerrin James, Cardinals
8. LaMont Jordan, Raiders
9. Carnell Williams, Buccaneers
10. Clinton Portis, Redskins
11. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
12. Willis McGahee, Bills
Now, as of today, it would be more like:
1. Tomlinson
2. Alexander
3. L. Johnson
4. Barber
5. R. Johnson
6. S. Jackson
7. R. Brown
8. McGahee
9. Peyton Manning, Colts
10. Portis
11. Frank Gore, 49ers
12. Chester Taylor, Vikings

OK, so what changed in my mind? Let's investigate:
? I rearranged my top three, with Tomlinson moving to the top spot. Why? Well, he didn't lose any linemen this offseason, did he? Maybe we all underrated this a bit with the other top guys. Tomlinson was a touchdown machine last year, and will be again. He was about the best No. 3 fantasy pick ever. The presence of Michael Turner does not hurt Tomlinson's value at all; in fact, it helps keep Tomlinson fresh. Most Chargers games won't be 40-7 blowouts. Let's hope Tomlinson is still healthy and running strong during the fantasy playoffs, unlike last season.
As for Alexander and the Chiefs' Johnson, no, I am not worried. So they haven't started quick. So the Chiefs don't have a threat at quarterback. So the Seahawks aren't scoring much. These guys are fine. Don't deal them away for less than value.
? Which other running backs did I stick with in round one? Well, seven others retain their spots, with Barber, Cincy's Rudi and the Rams' Jackson retaining their value. Miami's Brown and McGahee move up by attrition. No, they haven't been terrific either, but look at the scoring leaders, but how many running backs have had two terrific games other than Gore?
? No, as you can see I will not give up on Portis, who has been injured and obviously, that's his main problem. In fact, I think Portis is a solid buy-low option destined to get better. Portis should have a big game against Houston, and I want to remind people that he did very little the first five games last season, yet still finished a top five back with ease. Don't be too reactive in dealing Portis away, unless you're convinced this injury will dog him all year, which I am not.
? Aren't I the guy who wouldn't draft a quarterback in round one? Um, yeah, but with a bunch of running backs proving to be, at best, unreliable, I think it's warranted in this case. Plus, Peyton doesn't have a safe running game, so we might see a few more 400-yard efforts and more than 30 touchdowns. I said we might.
? And the two new running backs to join the crew are San Francisco's Gore and the Vikings' Taylor. Why would I take them over Cadillac, Edge and Jordan? Gore is not just going to be a guy who eats up bad defenses. Watch him against Philly this weekend, he'll get his yards, and even on those days when defenses stuff him at the line, he'll catch five or six screen passes. He's explosive. Taylor is similar in that he'll be able to accrue fantasy points through the air. The other difference with him, and this might end up being a big negative, is that he's a major workhorse. He's carrying the ball more than anyone. Will he wear down by Thanksgiving? I don't want to assume he will or won't. We don't have much to go on with him.
? And who dropped out of the top 12? Don't give up on Cadillac, Edge or Jordan, but it's clear their value was a bit higher than it should have been. Williams is suffering because of Chris Simms, but also he's had two tough matchups. It doesn't get easier this weekend, but I still would rely on Cadillac as a No. 2 running back much of this season. Arizona's James has his money, and that's terrific, but he gave up the chance at a Super Bowl and a trip to Hawaii. The Cards don't appear any better than last season, and they are strictly a pass-first outfit, with a leaky line. James is going to be lucky to reach 1,200 yards, real lucky. As for Oakland's Jordan, it's one thing to struggle running the ball, but who's the genius that won't get him involved in the passing game? No catches so far? What a joke. Anyway, Caddy, Edge and Jordan remain buy-low guys to some degree, but I doubt any will deliver first-round numbers anymore.
OK, so there's your answer!
Two e-mails before we get ready for tomorrow's novel, the game by game predictions:
Robby, Burlington, Vt.: "I take issue with your advice in regards to keeping Cadillac Williams on your bench until you see a spark. I've been trying to trade him the past three days, which is not going well. Partially because you guys have written nothing but scathing articles about how bad the Bucs are. He's a cancer on my team, too good to drop for a waiver wire pick up and crappy enough to keep other owners disinterested. How long do you think it will take before we'll see the spark that he'll need to become adequate trade bait? I mean you can't think he'll be a decent fantasy starter this year, right?"
Eric: I love e-mails like these, and there are hundreds of them like this in relation to struggling top players, essentially blaming me, Engel and Cockcroft for driving the price of players down so that others won't trade for them. Tremendous! You know, we give advice to all fantasy players. I guess it's up to you to find a way for your leaguemates to not read it! Maybe we can post a fake article saying Cadillac is better than Tomlinson so you can trade him easier? OK, back to reality. I'm sure if you look hard enough someone will take Cadillac off your hands, but his value is pretty low, so chances are you will be disappointed in the trade in a month. Just my opinion. I do think Cadillac will get better as the season goes on, and he'll be worth playing regularly.
Hadleigh, San Francisco: "Eric, I think the argument can be made that Jon Kitna is going to be like Steve Trachsel for fantasy football this year. Getting a guy like him allows you to take more risks in the draft, and build depth in other positions. Nothing flashy, no 30-point games, but he will put up solid numbers and not cost you many matchups. That can't be said for the much more heralded Brett Favre, Daunte Culpepper or Jake Plummer. There is something to be said for that, and I haven't heard it discussed much." Eric: You know, that's kind of a good point, though I'm not sure I would use it in relation to Kitna. For those who follow my fantasy baseball blogs, you know I've been a Trachsel fan for years and years, drafting him regularly with a late pick and enjoying double digit wins. It wasn't until this year that those wins came at such a significant cost to WHIP, and to some degree ERA. Anyway, the theory goes that Kitna will be a regular contributor each week, someone nobody wants, but to some degree safe and reliable, and you build horses around him. I think Hadleigh is right in that Kitna's clearly going to be throwing a lot. He is top 15 in yards, though he has no touchdowns. Too early to tell. I would have said Ben Roethlisberger is that reliable quarterback, but Monday night didn't go well.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

Sep. 21, 2006, 3:38 PM
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Week 3: Engel's Mailbag


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Todd, Tampa, Fla.: What will it take for Rex Grossman to get the respect he deserves? You said he played against "two bad defenses" but maybe you should do a little homework. First the Packers had the best pass defense in the NFL last year and the Lions held the Seahawks to nine points in the opener. So just admit Grossman is and will be an excellent quarterback!
Engel: This was a fun week to dip into my mailbag, as I received many angry letters from Grossman backers. It reminded me of the angry letters I received when I refused to back Joey Harrington as a breakout candidate last year. Grossman is no Harrington, for sure. But it will take more than just one big game at home against a shaky opponent to convince me he will be a regular standout. This past week, I was accused of having an "East Coast bias", when I'm not even a supporter of an East Coast NFL team. I was told that Grossman is the "next Brett Favre." That's a stretch. I was also told that Grossman has an easy schedule the rest of the way. To me, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Jacksonville, Carolina and Philadelphia will all be challenging matchups, among a few others. I do appreciate all the feedback, good or bad, and if Grossman turns out to be a fantasy standout, I'll gladly admit I am wrong. Last year's Green Bay pass defense numbers don't matter much. They allowed a lot of rushing yards last year (125.6 per game) and this is a new season in which they clearly have trouble defending the pass consistently. They are already second-worst in the NFC against the pass (292 yards per game allowed) and the Seahawks have clearly sputtered in the passing game early this year save for a hot early start against Arizona. They clearly had trouble moving the ball after gaining an early 14-0 lead. Grossman has had one big game and all of a sudden people are overrating him. I could be underrating him, but I'm not about to endorse him as a top fantasy starter yet. I expect him to operate a more controlled and less explosive passing game when he's healthy, and he should be a solid fantasy reserve. But one game does not make him an elite fantasy passer. I heard the same things about Billy Volek and Kyle Boller in past years when they put together short hot streaks. Grossman is a better QB than those two, especially Boller, but those two players are proof that a good fantasy QB maintains a consistent modicum of above-average statistical production. Grossman might help the Bears to a winning season, but he won't necessarily always be explosive along the way. But keep those Grossman e-mails coming, and I do wish all of you Grossman owners much success this season. <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER type="block" height="1" width="8"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>[FONT=Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif]The FFL Mailbag has the answers you need! Click here to send FFL questions and comments on players and trends and Scott may answer it in his next mailbag. [/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

Eric, Miami: For Week 3, my starting QBs are Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith; I am leaning towards Smith against the Eagles because Jevon Kearse is out for the year and Big Ben is playing the Bengals, who would like revenge from last year. I also need to put in another WR and I have Rod Smith, Doug Gabriel or Mike Furrey, who I am leaning towards as the Lions play Green Bay.
Engel: While Alex Smith has started to become a respectable fantasy reserve, and the Eagles could suffer a bit from the loss of Kearse, I think their defense will still be formidable overall and it will be a stiff test for the young Smith. Just because the Bengals want revenge doesn't mean they will stop the Steelers from scoring. Pittsburgh will be fired up in a rivalry game after getting shut out last week, and will be determined to put a poor offensive performance behind them. Roethlisberger is a risky start, but he could be better in his second game of the season and will also want to show he has shaken off more rust. I'd go with Roethlisberger, as neither QB is an ideal starter, but Roethlisberger could post better numbers against an aggressive, but often vulnerable Cincinnati defense. At WR, Gabriel has yet to prove himself and Furrey is mediocre and is not worthy of starting, regardless of matchup. I'd play Rod Smith and expect better production this week.
John Scott, Nashua, N.H.: Behind Tom Brady I currently have Matt Leinart at QB. My thinking is that, if Kurt Warner goes down, Leinart could provide a bonanza of fantasy points with those wide receivers in Arizona. However, I feel very vulnerable if Brady were to go down. Would you recommend dropping Leinart, and picking up either Rex Grossman or Alex Smith off the free agent list? I do not have room on my roster to keep both Leinart and another QB.
Engel: There's no need to worry about Brady, who has never been a durability concern. Grossman is the obvious add with more upside than Leinart, and would be the better backup to Brady. If you weren't able to get him, pass on Smith, and keep Leinart, who could be plugged in and post immediately respectable fantasy totals because of his poise and weaponry. But again, this choice is just for depth, as Brady is very dependable from both a health and fantasy production perspective. You will only use your backup once this season, during Brady's bye in the sixth week of the season. Keep Leinart for now, but you might have to add another player in his place if he's not starting by the sixth week.
Mike, Milwaukee: I have Carnell Williams, and he is obviously not putting up enough points for me. Should I bench him and put in Kevin Jones or Joseph Addai?
Engel: Addai isn't getting enough touches yet to play over Cadillac, but Jones should be seriously considered. While he has been disappointing overall, he does face Green Bay this week, and Jones has become a better pass-catcher this season, and can pad any mediocre rushing totals with decent receiving stats. Jones offers a better chance of respectable final numbers over Williams right now, so use him instead of Cadillac.
Thomas, Atlanta: I need your help deciding whether to accept a trade. I have Warrick Dunn on my bench and another owner has offered me Hines Ward. My running back starters are Ronnie Brown and Steven Jackson, and I have Chester Taylor and Joseph Addai on the bench. At receiver I have Chris Chambers, Anquan Boldin, and Javon Walker. Would I be selling Dunn too low for Ward? Also, will Ward be useful enough to sit one of my current starting receivers?
Engel: You certainly have enough depth to get rid of Dunn, and Ward should be a fine option if he can shake off his recent hamstring issues. You do have good depth at wide receiver also, but Ward could turn out to be more reliable than Chambers or Walker in the longer term. I would definitely make the deal. When Addai wins the starting job in Indy, you'll have even more good RB depth.
Nick, Seattle: Scott, my team has a strong starting lineup, but is very thin at RB. Right now I have LaDainain Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook, Chris Brown, Cedric Benson and Ryan Moats. The reports regarding Westbrook's knee have me concerned. What type of value could I expect for Westbrook right now when shopping him for a quality No. 2 RB? Engel: A common misconception among some fantasy leaguers is that you should trade a player who is hurt or not playing well. But you'll quickly find that other fantasy owners don't want to take on your problem unless they don't give you much in return. You can't expect much of anything for Westbrook right now and you simply have to ride it out and hope his outlook gets better. Just because you don't want a guy anymore doesn't mean other owners will want him, and most of the other players in your league are likely well aware of Westbrook's problems and have no desire to take on your worries. Players don't have proper trade value when their health is in question. At best, you'll get a lowball offer in return
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

Sep. 21, 2006, 3:18 PM
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Cockcroft: Week 3 Statbook


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, the FFL Statbook provides you with hot and cold players, historical statistics and trends to exploit and weather reports as you consider your weekly player matchups.


Bye weeks: Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Raiders. <!--##FRONTSTOP##--><TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">RIDE THE HOT STREAK</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">The players listed below -- three each at QB, RB and WR and one TE -- are performing well enough of late to be must-starts regardless of the match-ups.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Antonio Bryant, WR, 49ers (PHI): He has three consecutive 100-yard receiving efforts (17-368-2 numbers total), and is third in the NFL in receiving yards (245). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Laveranues Coles, WR, Jets (@BUF): He leads the NFL in receiving yards (253) and has 14 receptions and 1 TD; he also has 4 TD in his last 5 regular-season G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Warrick Dunn, RB, Falcons (@NO): He leads the NFL in rushing yards (266), has 3 runs of 20+ yards, and has averaged 5.3 yards per carry and 133.0 per game. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Frank Gore, RB, 49ers (PHI): He's 2nd in the NFL in scrimmage yds (307) and tied for 1st in rushing TDs (3); also has 2 100-yard rushing efforts in his last 3 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Rex Grossman, QB, Bears (@MIN): He leads the NFL in passer rating (128.7), and has thrown for 551 yards, 5 TD and 1 interception in his first two games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (@SF): Leads the NFL in passing yards (676), is tied in passing TDs (5), and has completed 64.6 percent of his pass attempts. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Chad Pennington, QB, Jets (@BUF): He has completed 46 of 70 attempts (65.7 percent) for 625 yards, 4 TDs and one interception in his first two games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Ravens defense (@CLE): Baltimore has yet to allow a TD, has allowed six points combined in two games and ranks 1st in the NFL in total defense (152.0 ypg). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>L.J. Smith, TE, Eagles (@SF): He leads all tight ends with 13 receptions and 167 receiving yards, and has 5+ receptions in 7 of the last 10 Donovan McNabb starts. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Amani Toomer, WR, Giants (@SEA): He leads the NFL in receptions (17), and has 178 receiving yards and 2 TD; he also has 9 TD in his last 15 regular-season G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Atlanta continues to pound the ball on the ground, with 91 rushing attempts in two games. That's enough to go around that Warrick Dunn, Michael Vick and Jerious Norwood can be useful plays facing such a favorable matchup as a Monday Night game at the Saints. ... In addition to the above numbers, the Ravens' defense leads the NFL in interceptions (6) and is third in sacks (9), and it'll be facing a Browns offense that has four interceptions and five sacks already in two games. Baltimore has had a favorable schedule so far, for sure, but this unit looks talented enough to be a top-five fantasy option the entire season. ... It's not necessarily the best of matchups for Chad Pennington and Laveranues Coles in Week 3, but the level of chemistry the two have displayed together shouldn't be doubted. They're must-plays for as long as they remain hot. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">AVOID THE COLD SPELL</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">The players listed below -- three each at QB, RB and WR and one TE -- have struggled enough recently that they should be avoided whenever possible.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Chris Brown, RB, Titans (@MIA): He has 22 carries for 73 yards (3.3 average) and no touchdowns, and two receptions for four yards and no scores, in two games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins (@HOU): He has completed only 57.4 percent of his pass attempts for 360 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in two games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Nate Burleson, WR, Seahawks (NYG): He has two receptions for 43 yards and no touchdowns in two games, and has only been targeted five times combined. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins (@HOU): He has three receptions for 20 yards and no touchdowns in two games, despite being targeted 13 times combined. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Lee Evans, WR, Bills (NYJ): He has four receptions for 44 yards and no touchdowns in two games, despite being targeted 11 times combined. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>DeShaun Foster, RB, Panthers (@TB): He has 28 carries for 80 yards (2.9 average) and no touchdowns, and six receptions for 37 yards and no scores, in 2 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Brandon Lloyd, WR, Redskins (@HOU): He has one reception for six yards and no touchdowns in two games, and has only been targeted five times combined. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Wali Lundy, RB, Texans (WAS): He has 17 carries for 57 yards (3.4 average) and no touchdowns, and two receptions for minus-1 yards and no scores, in two games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos (@NE): He has completed only 51.8 percent of his pass attempts for 311 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions in two games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Chris Simms, QB, Buccaneers (CAR): He has completed only 54.9 percent of his pass attempts for 446 yards, no touchdowns and six interceptions in two games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Until Brunell gets himself straightened out -- and let's admit that it might not happen at all -- the entire Redskins offense, particularly the passing game, will suffer. Cooley's number of targets is an encouraging sign that he should turn his season around, but Brunell, Santana Moss, Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El are all looking like much riskier weekly plays in the long term. ... Don't be surprised if Foster's no longer Carolina's starter after Week 3. DeAngelo Williams is too talented to keep in such a limited role, and if he's one of the catalysts in a potential first win of the season for Carolina, count on it earning him a start in the near future. ... None of the Houston running backs are useful fantasy options, even in the bye weeks, until one steps up and proves worthy of a consistent, double-digit number of carries on a weekly basis. I'm banking on Samkon Gado being the one who emerges, but not necessarily in the next week or two. ... Don't be too tough on Plummer if he struggles again at New England. It's a challenging assignment for him, so Mike Shanahan would likely give him another home game in which to try to rebound. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">HISTORY LESSON</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">The following players have tremendous recent track records against their scheduled opponents, making them more appealing fantasy options for this week.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Tom Brady, QB, Patriots (DEN): He has passed for 299+ yards in each of his last 3 games against the Broncos (postseason included), with 5 TD total. He has also averaged 208.1 passing yards with 61 TDs and 19 interceptions in 41 career home games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers (@TB): He's 3-0 lifetime as a starter @TB, and has averaged 228.0 passing yards with 10 TDs, 4 interceptions in his last 5 vs. them. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Donald Driver, WR, Packers (@DET): He has 4+ receptions in 7 straight games against the Lions, and 41 catches for 548 yards and 4 TD total during that span. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Torry Holt, WR, Rams (@ARI): He has 57 receptions for 816 yards and 5 TDs in 8 career games against the Cardinals (average of 7.1 catches, 102.0 yards per G). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals (@PIT): In his last 5 G (postseason incl.) vs. PIT, he has averaged 80.8 rushing yards per G and 4.7 yards per carry with 4 total TD. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens (@CLE): His 3 best career rushing G have all come vs. the Browns, 295 (9/14/03), 205 (12/21/03) and 187 (9/30/02), and he has averaged 132.9 rushing yards with 7 TDs in 10 career G vs. CLE. Of course, Lewis hasn't been quite so dominant recently, with 86 carries for 286 yards and 1 TD in his last 4 G vs. them. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Eli Manning, QB, Giants (@SEA): Had 344 passing yards, 2 TD and 1 interception in these teams' last meeting (11/27/05); he also has a TD pass in 9 straight road G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Willis McGahee, RB, Bills (NYJ): He has 3 consecutive 100-yard rushing games vs. the Jets, and has 96 carries for 430 yards and 2 TD in 4 career G against them. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Steve McNair, QB, Ravens (@CLE): He has averaged 215.0 passing yards with 8 TD and 1 interception in his last 4 games against the Browns. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Willie Parker, RB, Steelers (CIN): He has 33 carries for 202 yards and 1 TD in 2 career G vs. CIN, with his career-long (regular season) 37-yard TD run coming vs. CIN on 10/23/05. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Steve Smith, WR, Panthers (@TB): He topped 100 yards receiving in each of 2 G vs. TB in 2005, with 10 receptions for 209 yards and 1 TD combined. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Michael Vick, QB, Falcons (@NO): He's 5-0 vs. NO, averaging 182.0 passing yards, 60.8 rushing yards with 6 passing TDs, 6 rushing TDs during that span. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jermaine Wiggins, TE, Vikings (CHI): He had a career-high 10 receptions (for 68 yards) vs. CHI on 10/16/05, and had 13-84-0 numbers vs. them in 2 G in 2006. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Delhomme's fantasy value is closely tied to Smith's status, so keep tabs on Smith's progress as game time approaches. I'm usually more fond of Delhomme in home games, but with this seemingly a must-win game, he should step up with an encouraging effort if he has his favorite receiving target back on the field. ... Johnson's numbers should help allay fears that his assignment against the Steelers makes him a fantasy risk. Pittsburgh clearly hasn't given him much trouble in the past. ... Manning's Week 2 comeback effort spoke volumes about his talent, and while this week's game at Seattle presents quite a challenge to him and his teammates, he'll be asked to throw a fair share to hang in there against the Seattle offense. He's a must-start, this and every week. ... Wiggins is my sleeper pick among tight ends for the week. If the Vikings are going to move the ball at all against the Chicago secondary, it'll be in short tosses his way. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">WEATHER REPORT</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">Up-to-the-minute conditions can be found on The Weather Channel's website.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Rain in the forecast (40-percent chance or worse): Jets at Bills (70 percent), Ravens at Browns (60) and Bengals at Steelers (40). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Cold temperatures (40 degrees or lower): No games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Hot temperatures (80 degrees or higher): Panthers at Buccaneers could push 90, while Titans at Dolphins should be in the mid 80s. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Weatherproof games (safest playing conditions): Redskins at Texans (Reliant Stadium), Packers at Lions (Ford Field), Jaguars at Colts (RCA Dome), Bears at Vikings (Metrodome), Rams at Cardinals (Cardinals Stadium) and Falcons at Saints (Superdome). </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">KICKERS IN DOMES</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">As kickers are as a whole fairly unpredictable, weather can play a big part in determining which ones to use each week. Those who kick indoors are safest from the elements and therefore least likely to hurt you, making the names below more attractive plays. Statistics listed are career numbers indoors, unless otherwise noted (G: games, FGpct: field-goal percentage; XPTpct: extra-point percentage; ppg: points per game).</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Kris Brown, Texans (WAS): 24 G, 80.0 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 5.25 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>John Carney, Saints (ATL): 58 G, 85.8 FGpct, 99.2 XPTpct, 8.03 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Robbie Gould, Bears (@MIN): 2 G, 100.0 FGpct, XPTpct, 5.50 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>John Hall, Redskins (@HOU): 12 G, 76.7 FGpct, 95.8 XPTpct, 7.67 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jason Hanson, Lions (GB): 118 G, 83.7 FGpct, 99.2 XPTpct, 6.80 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Michael Koenen, Falcons (@NO): 11 G, 16.7 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 0.45 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Ryan Longwell, Vikings (CHI): 25 G, 85.5 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 8.04 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Neil Rackers, Cardinals (STL): 12 G, 94.7 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 6.42 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Dave Rayner, Packers (@DET): 8 G, 0.0 FGpct, -- XPTpct, 0.00 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Josh Scobee, Jaguars (@IND): 5 G, 69.2 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.40 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Adam Vinatieri, Colts (JAC): 17 G, 94.9 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 9.12 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jeff Wilkins, Rams (@ARI): 93 G, 83.2 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.56 ppg</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 9/20/06)

Thursday, September 21, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Matchup Madness


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By Scott Engel
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->After two weeks of the regular season, it's already apparent that a lot has changed this season. Making starting lineup decisions isn't easy, and players who were drafted high are already being considered for benchings. Carnell Williams is no lock to start in any fantasy league this week, and Roy Williams certainly doesn't appear to be on his way to the big breakthrough year many of us expected for him in 2006.
When one of the better players isn't performing as hoped, it's only natural to consider using another guy with a friendlier matchup in his place. But sometimes, some fantasy owners tend to go overboard with matchup analysis, and consider benching prime starters for much lesser players with a better matchup. Yes, Cadillac Williams has struggled so far, and facing the Panthers this week doesn't make him look promising. But it's certainly not a reason to consider using Isaac Bruce over him at a flex position, just because Bruce faces the 49ers. Williams is very likely to get more touches and can easily bounce back to post decent numbers this week.
Matchups should be used to help you make a decision between two players of similar value, not to use a lesser player over a much more productive one. You shouldn't use Ahman Green over Rudi Johnson because Green faces the Lions and Johnson lines up against the Steelers. Johnson is simply the much better fantasy player, and should be a must-start player regardless of the matchup. The best players become the best by performing well against all levels of opposition. In last season's game at Pittsburgh, Johnson rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Green looks like he will post mediocre numbers all year long, no matter who the opponent is. Green should never be started over Johnson because he's not close to him in current value as a fantasy player.
Another prominent fantasy player who has a formidable opponent this week is Minnesota RB Chester Taylor, who faces the Bears. If you have both Taylor and Warrick Dunn, it's clear you should use Dunn, because the players have similar fantasy value and the matchup helps push you in the direction of using Dunn. But don't use Kevan Barlow over Taylor, just because Barlow might start and the Bills seem like a lesser opponent than the Bears. Taylor is a workhorse who will get a lot of touches, while Barlow has been a regular disappointment who has proved nothing yet in New York.
Matchup overanalysis comes into play very often at quarterback. You shouldn't consider benching Peyton Manning (vs. Jaguars) or Carson Palmer (vs. Steelers) this week. Using Brett Favre because he faces the Lions or Mark Brunell against the Texans is a major mistake. You never bench your dependable superstars, because they usually produce fine numbers against any kind of opponent. This might seem like common sense to some fantasy owners, but even some savvy fantasy players have tried to experiment with leaning too heavily on matchups in the past, and it's a strategy that often doesn't produce optimum results. <STYLE> .headshot { visibility: visible; padding: 0px 5px 4px 0px; float: left;} .bottom { font: 10px verdana, san-serif; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; background: #006633; padding: 5px; } </STYLE>BETWEEN THE LINES
In addition to overemphasizing matchups, some fantasy players tend to panic too much when injuries strike. I've gotten many questions from owners who are considering benching a player just because he is listed as probable. When a player is listed as probable, that technically means he has a 75 percent chance of playing, and in many cases, the percentages are often better than the actual 75 percent designation. You shouldn't consider sitting Chad Pennington (calf), listed as probable, in favor of say, Mark Brunell, just because Pennington is listed on the injury report. Shaun Alexander is listed as probable with a foot injury, but it's not time to consider using Kevin Jones over him because Jones faces the Packers. There are no indications yet that the injury is serious enough to keep Alexander out of action against the Giants, and you should only use a player like Jones if Alexander is downgraded in the next few days. Some teams, such as the Colts and Ravens, seem to use the "questionable" (50 percent chance of playing) designation very loosely. Each probable and questionable designation is different, and requires extra research on the part of the fantasy owner. Clinton Portis (shoulder) is listed as probable, but even if he plays, he could be looking at less than a full workload. He's probable to play, but that doesn't mean he'll probably be close to full form. By contrast, Alexander could look like his usual self if he has setbacks. Many injuries are unique and the official injury report should serve as a guide, not an ironclad directive on whom to start.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Jerricho Cotchery, WR, N.Y. Jets
6 receptions, 121 yards, 1 TD

Cotchery has been one of the pleasant surprises and hottest free-agent additions of the early season. After beating out the annually disappointing Justin McCareins for a starting job in the preseason, Cotchery has caught TD passes in each of the first two games. He has quickly emerged as a sure-handed, dependable complement to Laveranues Coles. Much of Chad Pennington's early statistical success must be credited to his receivers, who have been ultra-reliable and have made key plays at critical points of the first two games. Cotchery is looking like a Darrell Jackson clone. He's often in the right place at the right time, will make the tough catch and will surprise defenses by breaking loose for extra yardage after the catch. Some fantasy owners might consider Cotchery's 71-yard touchdown reception against New England an aberration, because it came on an unusual play in which he was seemingly down under two tacklers, but heard no whistle, slipped through the defenders and kept going. Instead of considering the play a fluke, credit Cotchery for having great presence of mind for a 24-year-old receiver who has never started before. Cotchery has quickly become a quality No. 3 fantasy wide receiver and could soon be a solid No. 2 if he continues to play well.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 2</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Alex Smith, QB, 49ers: Quickly developing into a solid fantasy reserve</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>passYDS</TD><TD>passTD</TD><TD>INT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>233</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>-1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>15</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals: Not terrible so far, but not what you want from a first-rounder</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>ATT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>18</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>64</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>33</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>9</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><!-- <tr><td align=center bgcolor="#555555" COLSPAN=6 class="stathead" colspan="6"> </td></tr> --><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Darrell Jackson, WR, Seahawks: Has battled through injuries, and Deion Branch will help him draw fewer defenders</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>127</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>20</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Kellen Winslow Jr., TE, Browns: Stuck in a mediocre offense where he doesn't have enough quality complements</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>42</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>9</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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<!-- begin also see2 -->Surfin' the Scoreboard


Trainer's Room
? More fantasy drama surrounding Bengals WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (heel) After Marvin Lewis said earlier in the week he expected Houshmandzadeh to play against Pittsburgh, the wideout missed practice on Wednesday and is now listed as questionable.
? Eagles RB Brian Westbrook (knee) is listed as questionable. Correll Buckhalter would likely start in Westbrook's place if he cannot play.
? Jacksonville WR Matt Jones is listed as questionable with a groin injury. He missed part of practice on Wednesday but was able to play through the injury on Monday, so don't rule him out of your lineup just yet.
? Patriots WR Chad Jackson is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. Health issues have been an early problem for the rookie wideout, who could easily be the best fantasy receiver on the Patriots' roster if he can stay on the field.
? Browns RB Reuben Droughns is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. If he isn't able to play, rookie Jerome Harrison could start in his place and is worth adding as a free agent.
? Vikings WR Troy Williamson (shoulder) is listed as questionable, but he was able to practice on Wednesday. ? Wed Box | Tue Box | Mon Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/21/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/21/06)

Week 3 start/sit


posted: Friday, September 22, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


I think this is the week we can finally make some important decisions about fantasy players. We've spent so much time talking about the disappointments (Cadillac, Raiders, etc.), and a certain Chicago quarterback, it's hard to remember there are plenty of players in between.

Just look at how many surprises there have been so far:
Leaders in passing rating: Four QBs nobody wanted, and McNabb
Rex Grossman, Bears
David Carr, Texans
Philip Rivers, Chargers
Chad Pennington, Jets
Donovan McNabb, Eagles

Leaders in rushing yards: Two Falcons and two Chargers in top 10?
Warrick Dunn, Falcons
Rudi Johnson, Bengals
Steven Jackson, Rams
Frank Gore, 49ers
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
Chester Taylor, Vikings
Larry Johnson, Chiefs
Michael Turner, Chargers
Michael Vick, Falcons
Tatum Bell, Broncos

Leaders in receptions: A Jet? A Jag? A RB? The other Giant?
Amani Toomer, Giants
Marvin Harrison, Colts
Donald Driver, Packers
Reggie Bush, Saints
Laveranues Coles, Jets
Reggie Williams, Jaguars

So basically the fantasy football world has been turned upside down so far. Crazy stuff has happened. And more wild things will occur this weekend. It's not only Separation Sunday for teams, with a number of critical matchups, but in fantasy, too. We'll either trust or not trust Grossman, Gore, Green Bay and others after this week.
So let's get to the games:
Bills 24, Jets 17: It's hard to tell whether J.P. Losman is going to be someone to watch this year in fantasy or not. I know he played fairly well in Week 1, but lost, and not quite as well in Week 2, but won. Losman isn't much of a fantasy option again this week, but Lee Evans sure is. Some of you have given up on this guy, a fantasy No. 2 receiver for sure, and that's a mistake. He's going to score in this one. So will Willis McGahee, who tops 100 yards.
Chad Pennington won't have a nothing game, but he's not a great option this week, either. Laveranues Coles is always a good play, really, but to all those who spent waiver pickups on Jerricho Cotchery, I think you'll be disappointed in the long run. Meanwhile, Kevan Barlow reached the disappointing stage two years ago, and he's still there. Don't play him. Even if you have bye week issues, he's just not likely to have more than a big game or two, if that.
Worthy starts: McGahee, Evans, Coles
You can do better: Both QBs, Cotchery, Barlow
Packers 30, Lions 20: Yep, I'm back on the Brett Favre bandwagon again. I called for a big game against the Saints, and he delivered 340 yards and three scores. If you saw how easy it was for Grossman to torch the Lions, then you'd understand. Favre is still better than Grossman in just about every way (arm, decision making, leadership), even at this stage of his career. It's two weeks and people are way too in love with Rex. Favre gets at least two touchdown passes in this game, maybe three. Yes, I've decided that the Week 1 shutdown of the Seahawks was not reality, but last week was. Favre isn't the best QB play out there, but he's not a bad one. And it doesn't matter to me that the Lions shut him down last season to no touchdowns and a total of 371 yards in two games.
I like both Green Bay receivers as well, and who knows, Ahman Green might even find the end zone. Should get 70 yards or so.
Of course, while the Packers take, they also giveth away. The Saints scored 34 at their place. Good test for Jon Kitna, Kevin Jones and a very confident, selfish wide receiver, who should put up numbers. Ultimately I think Jones is going to struggle again, but maybe his 50 yards rushing will include a score.
Worthy starts: All Packers, Williams, Kitna
You can do better: Kevin Jones
Colts 24, Jaguars 21: This shouldn't be a 9-0 game, or even a 10-3 game, which is what happened in Week 2 last year in Indy when these teams met. Peyton Manning is a good play, every week. I don't think Dominic Rhodes or Joseph Addai will succeed on the ground, so Manning will be throwing a lot. He gets three scores in this one, despite the proficiency of the Jacksonville defense. Remember, the second time he met the Jags last year, he had 324 yards and two touchdowns.
I like Byron Leftwich as a sleeper fantasy option most weeks, and I could see him getting a score or two in this one as the Colts start out strong and get a nice lead. That's kind of how it happens. This has nothing to do with what David Carr did last week; total aberration. Do the Colts care if they win by 30 or 20? No. I like Reggie Williams over Matt Jones this week, too.
Worthy starts: Manning, Indy WRs, Leftwich, R.Williams
You can do better: All RBs, Matt Jones
Dolphins 23, Titans 10: This is pretty clear already, but Tennessee is not very good. Why Vince Young isn't the starting quarterback at this point makes little sense to me. Might as well throw LenDale White in there as well. I haven't been a bit impressed by any part of the Miami team, but sit all your Titans, as if you'd even consider them anyway.
Ronnie Brown is always a good play, so is Chris Chambers, but how about the much maligned signal caller? If there's ever a week to use Daunte Culpepper, it's this week, at home against a brutal defense. I can't see how he messes this one up. Play him.
Worthy starts: All Dolphins
You can do better: All Titans
Vikings 16, Bears 13: I do think Rex Grossman is a smart pickup. I don't think he's a smart play this week. Maybe I've been overrating the Vikings, but they have a pretty nice defense. I'll play Thomas Jones because he'll get the 20 carries and most running backs can do something with 20 carries. But I'm still not convinced about the Chicago aerial attack.
I don't expect the Vikings to do a whole lot on offense either, as these teams keep their field goal kickers busy. I'd stick with Chester Taylor, though, because he's going to get the touches. This will be a different game than Bears-Packers from Week 1, but if Ahman Green can run effectively, then Taylor can.
Worthy plays: Both starting RBs
You can do better: Both QBs, WRs, Cedric Benson
Bengals 31, Steelers 24: I know all about that Steelers defense, and how they're at home for this one, but Palmer scorched this team for three touchdowns in their place last season, and he started the playoff game with another score. Palmer will have success because the Bengals have so many weapons. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is back, but that doesn't make Chris Henry irrelevant. Rudi Johnson will have to work harder for his yards this week, but he's still a good play.
Get Willie Parker back in your lineup. It was one bad week. And depending on your other options, I expect Ben Roethlisberger, sans fever this time, to be worth using, topping 200 yards.
Worthy starts: I'll go with pretty much everyone you'd normally consider
Panthers 27, Buccaneers 13: Someone has to be 0-3, and I choose Tampa Bay. It's only Friday, and the Steve Smith situation might change, but I think he will play, and play well. Jake Delhomme owners can't be pleased by his zero touchdown passes so far, but having Smith back changes everything. By next Monday the Panthers will be back as NFC contenders. As for the team's running game, DeAngelo Williams will have his time, but DeShaun Foster gets more carries for a few more weeks. I'd play Foster over Williams this week for that reason only.
Jon Gruden's team is a mess, and now we're hearing that Carnell Williams could have more problems than merely Chris Simms and some back spasms. Add Michael Pittman now, before the game, just in case. And I'd leave your Bucs on the bench, except for Joey Galloway. Will Simms get another three interceptions? It's certainly possible. Both teams are quite mad, but only one is equipped to do something about it.
Worthy starts: Delhomme, Foster, S.Smith, Galloway
You can do better: All Bucs but Galloway, D.Williams
Redskins 26, Texans 24: The Skins desperately need a win, but why would we assume this would be easy? Houston has to win a game at some point. The Redskins haven't looked good at all. Why can't the Texans win this one?
They can make it interesting, at least. Let's say Clinton Portis not only plays, but rambles for 100 yards and scores a touchdown. I'm not much of a Mark Brunell fan, not even in a favorable matchup. Santana Moss should enjoy himself, though.
I'd play David Carr and Andre Johnson, and certainly consider Sam Gado if you're in a bind. We haven't heard much from Houston this week about who will get the carries, but the way Wali Lundy has played, and knowing Ron Dayne, it shouldn't take long for Gado to play a larger role. Dayne might start, but he might not finish.
Worthy plays: Portis, S.Moss, Chris Cooley, Carr, A.Johnson
You can do better: Brunell, Gado, Dayne
Ravens 27, Browns 3: Certainly the Ravens' defense is in a terrific spot to dominate the game, so while you shouldn't give up total hope on Reuben Droughns for the season, this isn't the game to stick with him. This isn't the game to go with any Browns, really. Look for that line to be used more times this season.
Couldn't you see Baltimore doing what Rexy and the Bears did last weekend, just piling up the points on an inferior opponent? I can. Steve McNair should get a few touchdowns, Jamal Lewis should approach or pass 100 yards, and the Ravens' defense is, again, a solid play.
Worthy starts: All Ravens
You can do better: All Browns
Cardinals 34, Rams 31: Well, obviously I see quite a few points being scored in this one. Kurt Warner and his receivers, Marc Bulger and his, this should be a fun game to watch.
And while I didn't name Edgerrin James as a first-round pick in yesterday's blog, I'd go with him against the Rams. Go with everyone in this game. How the Rams shut down Denver, I just don't know.
Worthy starts: Pretty much everyone
You can do better: The defenses, which you don't own anyway
Eagles 34, 49ers 27: I don't think it's going to be easy, but watch the Eagles come out strong, with Donovan McNabb throwing early and often and Philly getting a nice lead. Then, like Week 2, the comeback is on. San Francisco has moved the ball this season, it will move the ball again. And when that happens, everyone wins in fantasy, don't they?
Play all your Eagles. They will score plenty. Play all your Niners. Alex Smith might have three quarters like Eli Manning had, but he should pile up some numbers.
Worthy starts: The starters
You can do better: Correll Buckhalter, defenses
Giants 23, Seahawks 20 (OT): OK, all the Eli talk aside, why can't the Giants win this game? Of course, as an Eagles fan, I'm not rooting for them to do so, but have you really been impressed with Seattle so far? Neither have I. The Giants offered nothing for three quarters at Philly, but that doesn't mean the team will start flat this Sunday, too. Plus, the Giants should have won that game in Seattle last season. You know it. Only Jay Feely didn't.
Most players on these teams are fantasy fixtures. If you own the quarterbacks, you don't sit them ever. Same with the running backs and top wide receivers. I'd reconsider Deion Branch, because we just don't know how much he will play. Depends who else you have. And while you might assume Amani Toomer is a must-play, that wouldn't be wise.
Worthy starts: QBs, Tiki Barber, Shaun Alexander, Darrell Jackson, Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress
You can do better: Brandon Jacobs, Branch, Toomer
Patriots 21, Broncos 17: You've got way too many running backs to notice in this game, and tough choices to make. I wouldn't play Mike Bell and I don't think Laurence Maroney is going to put up great numbers. Really, I don't think any of them running backs will be great this week, but at least Tatum Bell and Corey Dillon are guaranteed some carries.
While Tom Brady remains a must start, Jake Plummer surely doesn't. I've also been pretty unimpressed with the receiving corps on each team. So why take a chance that this is the week Doug Gabriel or Javon Walker breaks out? Look elsewhere.
Worthy starts: T.Bell, Dillon, Brady
You can do better: Plummer, M.Bell, Maroney, all WRs, TEs
Falcons 31, Saints 20: I really want to go with the home team in such a big game, with all the good feelings about football coming back to New Orleans a year later. But how can the Saints reasonably stop this Atlanta running game? I received a few e-mails off the Thursday blog, which omitted Warrick Dunn from my new top 12 you should draft this weekend, but that wasn't a mistake. I wouldn't put Dunn in the top 12. He hasn't scored yet, and he's unlikely to keep rushing for 130 yards per game. But he should perform well Monday night. So should Michael Vick.
Play both your Saints running backs. While Deuce McAllister gets the most carries, and apparently the ones near the goal line, you don't want to have Reggie Bush sitting on your bench when he has that monster game, which could be this week. Bush is in the top five in the league in receptions. He didn't do much with his six rushes last week (five yards), but I think that's a pure aberration. Bush is a terrific talent who can't be held back too often.
This should be an exciting game; I just hope the Saints can keep up. I don't know if I can take another Monday nighter with nary a touchdown.
Worthy starts: Vick, Dunn, Jerious Norwood, Drew Brees, McAllister, Bush, Joe Horn, Marques Colston
You can do better: Atlanta WRs OK, that's it for the Week 3 prep -- well, until Sunday morning when we check in with the latest news and have a chat and, well, you know. Get ready. Big weekend
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/21/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/21/06)

Friday, September 22, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Stopgap Seven: Week 3


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->The rough-and-tumble NFL can take a toll on your fantasy team's depth, so if you're looking particularly thin at a position, consider the following players who are a little more under-the-radar as starters. (I'll list my Stopgap Seven each Friday all season.)
Kevan Barlow (@BUF): The Jets acquired him presumably to shoulder the bulk of the running workload, and this is his first real chance to step up and claim that job. Barlow's looking healthier than he has in the past, and this is a real show-me game for him.
Dolphins defense (TEN): With both Chris Brown and Travis Henry battling toe injuries, the Titans are running out of healthy, reliable weapons on offense. Miami's defense is hardly considered elite, but it has enough depth to shut down a team like Tennessee.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers (@DET): His numbers so far -- seven catches, 72 yards -- aren't quite up to expectations, but consider that Jennings has been targeted 18 times so far. Sooner or later, a big game is coming, and this one's as good a bet as any.
Jon Kitna, QB, Lions (GB): He has yet to throw for a TD, but it's only a matter of time, as the Lions are a pass-oriented offense that should have him throwing 35-plus times a week. Green Bay's a soft secondary, and Kitna's more efficient than he's given credit.
Jermaine Wiggins, TE, Vikings (CHI): On paper, this is the kind of matchup that could scare anyone away. But the Vikings will need to dump off short passes to Wiggins often, like they did when he had a career-high 10 receptions in Week 6 last year.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers (@TB): This game has all the feelings of a must-win, so while DeShaun Foster will start, if he struggles early, as I expect he will, the Panthers won't hesitate to turn to Williams. A dozen carries and a score are possible.
Reggie Williams, WR, Jaguars (@IND): He has 14 receptions and has been targeted 19 times in two games, and in each, he has shown flashes of his big-play potential. The Jaguars will need to throw often, and should find Williams open for a score. <STYLE> .headshot { visibility: visible; padding: 0px 5px 4px 0px; float: left;} .bottom { font: 10px verdana, san-serif; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; background: #006633; padding: 5px; } </STYLE>BETWEEN THE LINES
Among the players I'm avoiding in Week 3: Carnell Williams' back is still not 100 percent, no matter what he tells you. Facing Carolina's 31st-ranked rush defense might not make him look like so risky a play, but much of that ranking is a result of the Panthers falling behind early and being run on a league-high 80 times in two games. Carolina's is a better defense than the numbers, and it should give Cadillac tons of trouble. ... Reuben Droughns is questionable with a shoulder problem, and even if he's able to play, he'll be facing the Ravens, a team that should shut him down early and then mount a handy enough lead that he'll be a virtual non-factor by the third quarter. ... Given the choice between the two Bronco backs, I'd play Tatum Bell and avoid Mike Bell at New England. That's a poor matchup for each, as the Patriots generally play better at home, and will likely force Jake Plummer to try to beat them through the air. As a result, I'd rather have the one with the better breakaway potential. ... Troy Williamson has looked great in the first two games of the season, but his matchup against the Bears isn't a good one, especially not taking into account that he has been limited of late by a shoulder injury. ... Vernon Davis should have his fair share of quality games this season, but Week 3 against the Eagles is not one of them. Look what Philadelphia did to Jeremy Shockey in Week 2, and consider that Davis was targeted only once in the 49ers' last game against the Rams. That's not an encouraging sign.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins
3 receptions for 20 yards and 0 TD in 2 G

Cooley owners who read all preseason about associate head coach Al Saunders' plan to use the tight end in a similar fashion to Tony Gonzalez's role in Kansas City have surely been disappointed, as to date, Cooley has done virtually nothing for either the Redskins or his fantasy owners. Part of the problem has been Mark Brunell's performance, as the quarterback has regularly been erratic with his passes, particularly to his tight end. Brunell has regularly underthrown Cooley, which really speaks volumes about how poorly a job Brunell has done. Fortunately for Cooley owners, it's worth noting that he has been targeted 13 times combined in the Redskins' first two games, which demonstrates that he's still considered an integral part of the passing game, and that the team's issues are more to blame for his slow start. Week 3 brings a decent matchup for him at Houston, one that could help turn his season around, but even if it's not a big game for him, the threat of a quarterback switch could actually do him some good. If Jason Campbell or Todd Collins were forced to take over Brunell, Cooley would serve as a needed option for them dumping off short passes, meaning his value is least likely to be affected in the event of a quarterback switch. Cooley's a buy-low candidate, for sure, and I still see top-10 upside in him at his position.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 2</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Michael Vick, QB, Falcons: Not quite an every-week start yet, but he should shine on Monday Night Football</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>passYDS</TD><TD>passTD</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>rushTD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>92</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>127</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>23</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints: Had 29 carries for 128 yards in his last G vs. ATL at the Superdome (12/26/04)</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>ATT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>12</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>47</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>24</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>18</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><!-- <tr><td align=center bgcolor="#555555" COLSPAN=6 class="stathead" colspan="6"> </td></tr> --><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets: He has 26 catches for 404 yards and 2 TD in his last 8 regular-season games</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>6</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>121</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>20</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Todd Heap, TE, Ravens: He has 5+ receptions in 9 of his last 14 G, and 6 TD in his last 8 G overall</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>17</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>8</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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<!-- begin also see2 -->Surfin' the Scoreboard


Lineup Shuffling
? The Texans plan to give RB Ron Dayne the start in Week 3 against the Redskins, though they'll use a running back-by-committee approach in which both Wali Lundy and Samkon Gado will also get carries. With the running workload from week to week entirely up in the air in Houston, none of these three should be trusted, even as bye-week subs.
? Packers WR Koren Robinson has been used extensively in practice this week, and he should serve as the team's No. 3 or 4 receiver for Week 3 at Detroit. It's a nice matchup for Green Bay receivers, but Robinson still needs to get more acclimated in the offense before he'd warrant starting fantasy consideration outside of the deepest of leagues.

Trainer's Room
? Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander (foot) missed Thursday's practice and is probable for Week 3 against the Giants. He's expected to practice on Friday and play Sunday, but if you're an Alexander owner, it's a smart move to insure your investment with RB Maurice Morris. Also, while Alexander is a must-start, temper your expectations for this week.
? Ravens RB Jamal Lewis (hip) was limited in practice on Thursday and is questionable for Week 3 at the Browns. This appears more of a precautionary move so that the injury-prone Lewis doesn't wear down throughout the week, and with it such a favorable matchup for him, he remains a must-start No. 2 RB barring a setback.
? Eagles TE L.J. Smith (shoulder) practiced on Thursday and has been upgraded to probable for Week 3 at the 49ers. He's getting more throws sent his way than any other tight end in the game right now, so even if he's somewhat limited, it's a strong enough matchup and he'll be involved enough to be a must-start. ? Thu Box | Wed Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/21/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 9/21/06)

Sep. 22, 2006, 2:45 PM
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Week 3: Fantasy Matchups


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Every week, we preview all of the upcoming games from a fantasy perspective. To help you with lineup decisions, we give you matchups to exploit, some key starting choices and advice on whom to leave on your bench.
Baltimore at Cleveland: With RB Reuben Droughns battling a shoulder injury, the mediocre-looking Cleveland offense appears even weaker. It's going to be a very long day for Charlie Frye, and another very good day for the Baltimore defense, even though they are banged up. Braylon Edwards will get extra defensive attention and won't be much of a factor. The Ravens should easily dominate time of possession, and Steve McNair will be good for more than one TD pass as Baltimore runs the ball effectively and McNair completes several key passes to Derrick Mason and Todd Heap on critical downs. If you're desperate for receiving help, Mark Clayton has been a disappointment so far, but he could be a nice, sneaky play this week. Start and Smile: Steve McNair, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton. Watch and Worry: Braylon Edwards.
Carolina at Tampa Bay: The Tampa Bay offensive line will be dominated by the Carolina front four for much of the day, and Chris Simms will especially be in for more trouble when the Panthers bring extra pressure. Carnell Williams will have trouble finding open running lanes, forcing Simms into adverse passing situations early. There is no stopping Joey Galloway completely, but a good secondary should keep him out of the end zone. The Panthers will wear the Buccaneers down with a two-pronged attack of DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams, taking pressure of Jake Delhomme, who could play conservatively even if Steve Smith returns. Smith is a risky play because we simply don't know how effective he can be. If you have a starter on a bye in a two-receiver league, strongly consider Keyshawn Johnson, who faces his former team. He won't post great yardage numbers but he's a good bet to catch a TD pass. Start and Smile: DeShaun Foster, DeAngelo Williams, Keyshawn Johnson. Watch and Worry: Carnell Williams, Steve Smith.
Chicago at Minnesota: This should be a physical affair, with the Vikings looking to rein in the hot Rex Grossman, who should still be good for two TD passes as he uses play-action passing very effectively. Grossman's early success should open up more room for the running game, and Thomas Jones could have his best day so far this year. Look for good yardage numbers and a TD run. With Bernard Berrian now a threat to opposing defenses, Muhsin Muhammad should draw a little less defensive attention and should be in for a good day. The Bears will be focused on containing Chester Taylor, and Brad Johnson might be forced to throw more often than usual in an attempt to keep the offense moving, and he won't have much success. Look for Chicago's secondary to take away WR Troy Williamson and the deep ball. Start and Smile: Thomas Jones, Muhsin Muhammad. Watch and Worry: Brad Johnson, Troy Williamson.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: Both teams should come out strong offensively, with the emotion of the rivalry and recent events spurring each team to play well. The Steelers will be primed to erase last week's awful performance against Jacksonville, and it will begin with the running game, where Willie Parker should have a lot of success working outside against a still-vulnerable Bengals front seven. Ben Roethlisberger should be conservative, but effective, and expect him to find Hines Ward for a score. The Bengals will immediately attack the Pittsburgh secondary, and you can count on at least two TD passes from Carson Palmer. Chad Johnson is ready to make the Steelers pay for the big hit he took last week against Cleveland. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (heel) is a risky play after missing two games, though. Start and Smile: Willie Parker, Hines Ward, Carson Palmer, Chris Henry. Watch and Worry: T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
Denver at New England: The Patriots will try to stuff the run early and force the struggling Jake Plummer to throw often. That will mean good receiving totals for Javon Walker, but also more than one turnover for the Denver QB as the calls for rookie Jay Cutler grow louder. Even if he gets stuffed often in the first half, though, you can still expect Tatum Bell to rip off a long run or two as he uses his speed to outrun the New England LBs a few times in the second half. The Broncos will also concentrate on containing the running game, and while Corey Dillon might bang his way into the end zone for another score, Laurence Maroney will post only mediocre fantasy totals this week. Tom Brady will benefit much from the attention on the ground game, though, and expect more than one TD pass from him. Start and Smile: Javon Walker, Tom Brady. Watch and Worry: Jake Plummer, Mike Bell.
Green Bay at Detroit: The Packers will try to establish Ahman Green early, but with limited success, as the Detroit defensive line shuts off any open running lanes very quickly. Green should still score on a short TD run, though. Brett Favre will still have to throw often, and while that means good numbers for Donald Driver again, it also means Favre will be intercepted more than once. He won't have nearly the same level of success Rex Grossman did against the Lions last week. Lions RB Kevin Jones isn't an outstanding play against any opponent, but his newfound receiving prowess will assure his owners that he will finish with at least respectable overall numbers. Jon Kitna will sling the ball often this week, with mixed results. Expect more than one TD pass, one to Roy Williams, but a busy Kitna often makes mistakes against any defense. Start and Smile: Donald Driver, Kevin Jones, Roy Williams. Watch and Worry: Favre and Kitna aren't stable starting options because of the matchups. They could easily throw more interceptions than TDs.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis: Manning struggled at home against the Jaguars last year, and Jacksonville looked very impressive on defense against the Steelers. But you can't bench Manning, regardless of matchup, because he will have to throw often with his running game still a work in progress. Dominic Rhodes will have a terrible game against the Jacksonville front four, and Manning will spread the ball around among Marvin Harrison and some of his tight ends. Manning won't have a stellar day, but he'll certainly throw more than one TD pass. Byron Leftwich will take quick drops and throw often to the quickly-improving Reggie Williams, and Leftwich should be good for more than one TD pass as well. A quality passing game should open up wide running lanes for Fred Taylor, who will finish with good yardage numbers. Start and Smile: Byron Leftwich, Fred Taylor, Reggie Williams, Dallas Clark. Watch and Worry: Dominic Rhodes.
N.Y. Giants at Seattle: The Seattle defense will have their hands full, as Eli Manning comes out throwing early and TE Jeremy Shockey makes many important catches. Seattle might contain RB Tiki Barber early, but expect him to bust loose for some long runs in the second half. Manning could get picked off more than once, but big yardage numbers and at least two TD passes will compensate statistically. The Giants will shut down Shaun Alexander early and often, as their front seven dominates for long periods against the run. But expect the Seattle RB to score on at least one short run. Just the presence of newcomer Deion Branch will open up the Seattle passing game more, but Branch likely won't contribute enough statistically to be a good starting option this week. Matt Hasselbeck will throw more than one TD pass, and Darrell Jackson should have another fine game. Start and Smile: Eli Manning, Jeremy Shockey, Matt Hasselbeck, Darrell Jackson. Watch and Worry: It's too early to start Deion Branch. Give him at least one more week to become more comfortable in game action.
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo: The numbers of Chad Pennington should come down a bit here, as the Bills drop extra defenders back into coverage, and their front seven easily handles the Jets running game. New York should score enough to win, but Pennington won't finish with more than 250 passing yards or two TD passes. With Laveranues Coles hurting, Jerricho Cotchery will seize an opportunity to be a prime target. For Buffalo, Willis McGahee will be a workhorse, and will score at least once. J.P. Losman is never a good fanasy play, but he'll find Lee Evans downfield more than once, and Evans should catch a long TD pass while putting a very slow start behind him, at least for one week. Start and Smile: Jerricho Cotchery, Willis McGahee, Lee Evans. Watch and Worry: Kevan Barlow.
Philadelphia at San Francisco: No team can seemingly stop the Philadelphia passing game right now, and it's certainly not going to be the Niners. Donovan McNabb is an obvious must-start, and Donte' Stallworth should have another impressive outing. WR Reggie Brown, however, is dealing with a hamstring problem, so don't automatically assume he's a lock because of the matchup. The Eagles secondary is banged up, so Alex Smith won't hesitate to test them, especially after the Giants threw the ball so effectively overall last week. Smith will be more conservative, though, taking shorter drops to reduce defensive pass pressure while throwing often to Antonio Bryant and giving TE Vernon Davis a chance to make some important possession grabs. A respectable passing game will take some of the attention off Frank Gore, but he will still have to battle hard to finish with respectable final totals. Start and Smile: Donte' Stallworth, Antonio Bryant. Watch and Worry: Reggie Brown.
St. Louis at Arizona: With LT Orlando Pace (concussion) listed as doubtful, Marc Bulger could become more conservative, throwing quick strikes to Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce as the St. Louis passing game is efficient, but not explosive. Fortunately for the Rams, they do face Arizona, so even with Pace not expected to play, Steven Jackson could still have his best game of the year so far. Kurt Warner won't post great numbers, as the Rams try to contain the Cardinals' passing game early, and make Edgerrin James prove he can flash his old form. This game won't be as high-scoring as you would expect, but it's hard to bench top players on either side of the ball. Start and Smile: Steven Jackson. Watch and Worry: Warner won't be terrible, but don't expect monster numbers and don't start him over another top-rated fantasy QB.
Tennessee at Miami: The Dolphins' defense will dominate this day, even if the offense continues to sputter. The Titans are dealing with injuries at RB and terrible play at QB. They have no chance of challenging the Miami defense on the road, especially after the Dolphins were shocked by the Bills last week. Miami will come out ready to simply be adequate on offense, while the defense rules the day. Daunte Culpepper isn't going to have a great game just because of the matchup. He'll try to operate a controlled, mistake-free passing game. That means important throws in the direction of TE Randy McMichael and another TD pass to Chris Chambers, who is no lock for outstanding yardage numbers. Ronnie Brown should be good for more than one score as the Miami defense puts the offense in great position for Brown to ultimately score from short range. Start and Smile: Ronnie Brown, Randy McMichael. Watch and Worry: Chris Brown, Drew Bennett.
Washington at Houston: Houston has a terrible pass defense, but that doesn't mean you should use Mark Brunell over a top-tier fantasy starter. Brunell should throw more than one TD pass, at least one to Santana Moss, and the return of Clinton Portis should help the passing game. But Brunell isn't going to look to air it out, but rather manage the game well and won't suddenly turn the passing game loose. David Carr should actually be the more prolific passer of the two, as he attacks a Washington secondary that has obviously missed injured CB Shawn Springs. Carr will hook up with Andre Johnson often, and Eric Moulds is a viable bye week plug-in option. Don't use Ron Dayne just because he is expected to start. He could split reps with Samkon Gado and the fading Wali Lundy. Avoid the Houston RBs this week. Start and Smile: Santana Moss, David Carr, Andre Johnson, Eric Moulds. Watch and Worry: Ron Dayne. Atlanta at New Orleans: Deuce McAllister won't find as much running room as he did late in last week's win against Green Bay, and his yardage numbers could be disappointing. Reggie Bush will continue to be an open-field threat as a receiver, even if his rushing numbers aren't impressive. Drew Brees should have time to throw, and Joe Horn could have his best game in some time. Atlanta will fire right back, and Warrick Dunn will post very good numbers, with rookie Jerious Norwood being a quality bye week option for some decent fantasy totals. Michael Vick is a good starting option, and look for at least one TD pass and one rushing score in an exciting Monday night affair. Start and Smile: Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Joe Horn. Watch and Worry: Deuce McAllister.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
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Alexander's out


posted: Monday, September 25, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL, Seattle Seahawks


Fantasy football owners hoping to cash in on Shaun Alexander's record-breaking performance from last season are not going to like this news. Alexander is not only off to a slow start, ranking 18th in the league in rushing after three weeks, but now the Seahawks and fantasy owners will be without Alexander for an indefinite period of time after the star running back broke a bone in his foot.

(Hopefully Alexander didn't break that foot filming the Mobile ESPN commercial, in which he slips in his kitchen and John Clayton reports Alexander is questionable for the next game after slipping on a lemon and a weiner dog. OK, back to reality, because if you own Alexander, well, you're not laughing.)
What should a fantasy owner do? Obviously, if your league allows free agent moves on a Monday or Tuesday, you want to get Maurice Morris as fast as you can. But should we really expect good things from Morris if Alexander wasn't having success?
Alexander's slow start this season, with only two touchdowns and a total of 187 rushing yards in three games, was initially blamed on the Seahawks losing left guard Steve Hutchinson, who bolted for the big money in Minnesota. On Sunday Alexander did score a touchdown in the opening minutes of play, but after that was largely ineffective, totaling a mere 47 yards on 20 carries. Matt Hasselbeck had no such worries, throwing five touchdown passes. Is Seattle more of a passing team now? Sans Hutchinson, Seattle gave that big money to franchise back Alexander, who rambled for 1,880 yards and an NFL record 27 touchdowns last season.
Still, those lofty figures didn't guarantee Alexander top status in fantasy football. In probably three out of every four leagues the first overall draft pick was likely the Chiefs' Larry Johnson, who was more productive than Alexander on a per game basis. Big deal. You get Alexander at No. 2, or even a spot later with LaDainian Tomlinson moving up, you felt safe. Alexander was picked second in most ESPN live drafts.
Alexander has been one of fantasy's safest running back options this decade and one of the most durable as well, not missing a game in his career. Basically, if you drafted Alexander, don't blame yourself. It's bad luck, like drafting Derrek Lee or Hideki Matsui this baseball season, others who had never been hurt over a long period of time. You couldn't have known Alexander would get hurt. Don't complain about it. There's a reason fantasy football drafts are generally 15 rounds or more -- it's so you can build up proper depth.
So how long will Alexander be out? Impossible to tell at this point, but if it is less than a month, fantasy owners actually catch something of a break, pardon the pun. This week the Seahawks face the Bears, a team that is generally recognized as having the league's top defense. The Bears did allow Ahman Green to top 100 yards rushing in Week 1, but don't read much into that. It was a blowout and the Packers were safer running the ball than forcing Brett Favre to throw. The last two weeks Chicago had been better against the run. So chances are Alexander wouldn't have had a great day anyway. Then, in Week 5, the Seahawks have a bye. Will Alexander be ready for the Week 6 game against the Rams, a team he normally torches?
Morris is recognized as a change of pace back, a guy who entered this season averaging 200 yards per year in his four year career. Has he ever been the guy? Nope, and while everyone in fantasy will flock to him, remember that the Bears are this week's opponent. Pick Morris up anyway. Just about any starting running back is worth owning in a fantasy league, but there are certainly some you don't want to activate. Morris is likely in that class, though the Week 6 game vs. the Rams will be enticing. In the next few days I expect to receive plenty of mail from Alexander owners whining about their plight. It does no good. I have him as well, and all you can do is move on. He's not out for the season, and the way he was playing, this gives you an opportunity to use someone else since, as we all know, nobody in their right mind would have actually benched the guy. I had the first pick in one draft, and I selected Alexander. Then in round two the injured Steve Smith slipped down to 24. You know what? I'm 1-2, but I'll figure things out. So will you
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
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Sep. 25, 2006, 6:37 PM
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Carroll: Alexander might not miss much time


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By Will Carroll
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Shaun Alexander is out with a broken left foot. Those words alone have some fantasy owners rocking on the floor in the fetal position, mumbling something about LaDainian Tomlinson and Peyton Manning. But what exactly has Alexander out and what does it mean? That's where you can save your season or maybe steal one of the top running backs.
Alexander has been dealing with a foot injury for the last couple weeks. All indications were that it was a mild sprain. Calls made to team sources there earlier today pointed to the injuries on the line and the loss of Steve Hutchinson and not injury were holding their MVP back. Instead, we learned today that Alexander suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left foot during his Week 2 start against the Cardinals. According to both Coach Mike Holmgren at his weekly press conference and medical sources, the fracture is very small and was missed on the initial images. This is in direct contrast to Holmgren's statements earlier in the day saying he expected Alexander to play in Week 4 against the Bears. Asked about the possibility that the fracture could have gotten worse during his Week 3 play or even the practices leading up to it, one orthopedist said "Sure, it could, but it wasn't unstable. The question I would have is whether it's fusing already."
Indeed the question of fusion is as important as the question of location. Bones heal. It's that simple in most cases, especially with advanced techniques like electrical stimulation and prescription medications that can accelerate the process. Descriptions of the injury paint this as a stress fracture, one that resulted from what had initially been described as a bruise. Given the location, the non-displaced fracture (which means that the bone is more or less in the same line as anatomically normal), it is only the time frame for fusion that is in question. Alexander should be able to play as soon as the bone is fused enough to hold under the stress and workload of an NFL running back. That could be as little as Holmgren's "couple weeks" and as much as the eight weeks we saw Brian Westbrook miss with a more serious Lisfranc fracture. (Westbrook missed only four games due to the season ending but was estimated to be ready in eight weeks.) At this stage, it's impossible to say with any certainty, but the available information suggests more towards the optimistic side of that range. Foot injuries to running backs can be painful injuries, but most recent comparable injuries have had good endings. Westbrook is just one who fully recovered. The database also shows Kevin Faulk as someone who missed time with a broken foot and returned to full function, though his nine-week rehabilitation has to give Seahawks fans pause. It's important to note that Alexander has healed quickly from previous injuries, which include minor knee and ankle injuries. It's one from 2002 that interests me -- he missed no time with a severely bruised foot.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
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Monday, September 25, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> New RB in New England?


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->Sunday night's 17-7 Broncos victory -- a bit of a shocker considering it was played in New England -- might not look like a big night for fantasy stories by virtue of the score alone. Take a closer look at the stat sheet, though; a few things of note stand out:
Corey Dillon got hurt. No shock, really, since Dillon's 31 years old and missed eight games combined from 2003-05. He left in the second quarter with an apparent arm issue, something of concern since he also was seen having his shoulder examined during his Week 2 game. Dillon's health is a big reason so many people are excited about rookie Laurence Maroney, because there's a high degree of likelihood Maroney's going to get a start at some point, perhaps riding a breakout game to the starting role. Maybe it'll happen in Week 4, and it's hard to know since the Patriots are notoriously poor at offering information on their injured players. But while Maroney might be a much-talked-about name this week, there's a reason to be a bit cautious about him, and that's because ?
Laurence Maroney disappointed as a runner. Maroney managed only 18 yards on 12 carries, mostly after Dillon's departure, which marks his first poor performance in the NFL. Sure, Maroney managed five receptions for 61 yards, his first catches of the season, but with his team playing from behind, Tom Brady threw 55 times, something we're not likely to see happen too often. Maroney's fantasy value comes mostly from his contributions on the ground, and he struggled in this one, albeit against a Broncos defense better than its numbers the first two weeks indicated. (Remember, Denver's rush defense ranked second in the league in 2005.) Maroney and the Patriots head to Cincinnati in Week 4, which isn't a bad matchup if Dillon's absent, though keep in mind the Patriots could again wind up passing to play catch-up. Maroney's an exciting one, for sure, but it's games like Sunday's that should offer room for pause regarding his rookie-season upside.
Jake Plummer staked claim to his job. His 50.0-percent completion percentage isn't all that exciting, but the fantasy numbers -- 256 passing yards, 2 TDs, no interceptions -- are. Plummer sure looked like he's getting more comfortable with top receiver Javon Walker, and did just what his team expects of him, making key throws and not turning the ball over. He'll get one more tough matchup in Week 4 (vs. BAL) before hitting the meaty part of the schedule, so wait for him because he's heating up apparently at just the right time.
Tatum Bell was the rushing standout. He didn't score, and he didn't break off any long runs, but Tatum was the better of the two Bells on Sunday night, with 27 carries for 123 yards, compared to Mike's four for 12. Mike's still seemingly a bit limited by his finger injury, but this game was a Tatum showcase, and he sure looked up to the task. He'll get the tricky Week 4 matchup against the Ravens, but a strong game there could cement his status as the go-to guy and a reliable No. 2 fantasy option each week. <STYLE> .headshot { visibility: visible; padding: 0px 5px 4px 0px; float: left;} .bottom { font: 10px verdana, san-serif; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; background: #006633; padding: 5px; } </STYLE>BETWEEN THE LINES
Other thoughts from the Sunday games: I fully expected QB Eli Manning to sometimes flash his big-play potential but also scatter in the occasional mistake this season, but what I didn't expect was for him to do so much the latter in the first half of his games, and so much the former in the second half of his games. His Week 3 was yet another such instance of a poor first half (a disastrous 8-for-16, 65-yard, 3 INT effort) followed by a rally in the second (16-for-20, 210 yards, 3 TD), and one can only hope Eli and the Giants' coaching staff can help steer him through the problems that have been leading to such poor performances coming out of the gate. I'd hardly call him the kind of guy who only racks up gaudy garbage-time numbers, like Aaron Brooks seemed to do in his final years in New Orleans, and rather think this is a case of him working out the final kinks in his game. Watch Eli play and it's clear he's going to be an every-week fantasy stud, like brother Peyton, in the very near future. I just think it could take another five to 10 games before he hits that groove, though he'll be good enough for fantasy even in these shaky times. ? I still can't believe how little the Rams seem to trust Steven Jackson in the red zone, despite the fact that he's more the focal point of the offense this season than ever before. St. Louis had seven plays from within the Arizona 10-yard line on Sunday, and five times called a passing play. Granted, Jackson's two rushing attempts went for minus-6 yards combined, but put this together with how little he was used in these roles in the first two games and it's a bit of a worry for his long-term value as a No. 1 fantasy RB. It looks like it's going to be awfully tough for him to crack double-digit scores this season.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
18-for-39 passing, 208 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT

It's still a little early to downgrade Roethlisberger as a fantasy asset, since he's only two regular-season games removed from his offseason motorcycle accident and the emergency appendectomy he needed shortly before the season's kickoff. But one thing's for certain: Roethlisberger has plenty of work to do before getting back to the promising, high-upside passer he seemed to be in last year's postseason. He's making poor reads, bad decisions with his throws and often waits too long to locate his receivers. In fact, his Week 3 numbers might have looked even worse had he not racked up 113 yards on 20 attempts after Cincinnati mounted an 11-point lead with a little over seven minutes to go in the game. Roethlisberger hasn't looked at all like the efficient, consistent passer he was in his first two NFL seasons, nor does he really seem close to that model as of yet. Fortunately, he now has the bye week to rest, after which point he could be one week healthier and one week readier to pick up where he left off late last season. Keep an eye on that Week 5 game at San Diego, though; another poor effort could mark Roethlisberger as someone too mistake-prone to be a trustworthy fantasy option, even when facing quality matchups.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 3</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Brett Favre, QB, Packers: Now how do you feel about the DET secondary? (269.0 yds, 2.3 TD allowed/G)</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>passYDS</TD><TD>passTD</TD><TD>INT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>340</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>-5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>27</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: If only he can stay healthy; he's on pace for 2,240 scrimmage yds, 27 TD.</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>ATT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>8</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>117</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>47</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>33</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><!-- <tr><td align=center bgcolor="#555555" COLSPAN=6 class="stathead" colspan="6"> </td></tr> --><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Keyshawn Johnson, WR, Panthers: Steve Smith's healthy return means less defensive attention on Keyshawn.</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>97</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>9</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>21</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Todd Heap, TE, Ravens: Now has 5-plus receptions in 10 of his last 15 G, and 7 TD in his last 9 G overall.</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>36</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>9</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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<!-- begin also see2 -->Surfin' the Scoreboard


Trainer's Room
? Bears TE Desmond Clark left Sunday's game with a sprained left foot. His status for Week 4 against the Seahawks is unclear. Clark has been one of the more surprising early performers, though he's not going to step up with big games nearly as often as he did in the first two games, when QB Rex Grossman was going off.
? 49ers TE Vernon Davis suffered a cracked bone in his left leg and will miss four weeks. TE Eric Johnson, who stepped up with solid fantasy numbers in Week 3, should get a few more passes thrown his way, and is a useful bye-week fill-in in larger leagues.
? 49ers RB Frank Gore suffered a strained abdominal muscle in Week 3, and will be questionable for Week 4 at the Chiefs. RB Maurice Hicks also suffered a sprained ankle but will be probable for Week 4's game. Keep tabs on Gore's progress in practice this week, but his injury could allow RB Michael Robinson to sneak in as the goal-line back, as Robinson had two touchdowns in the Week 3 game.
? Buccaneers QB Chris Simms had his spleen removed following Sunday's game, after apparently rupturing it in the second quarter after he took a few hard hits. He's out for two to three months, meaning fantasy owners shouldn't expect him back this season at all. Simms' absence will thrust QB Bruce Gradkowski into the starting role, but more important, it'll probably have an adverse effect on the fantasy totals of RB Carnell Williams and WRs Joey Galloway and Michael Clayton. ? Friday Box | Thursday Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
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Sep. 25, 2006, 1:50 PM
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Week 4: Walker, Brunell and more


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each Monday afternoon, the Fantasy Scout takes an early look ahead to the coming week and beyond. We give you the early lowdown on players to watch and consider emerging trends that will affect your fantasy strategy, even before the "Monday Night Football" game!
Player Spotlight
Entering Sunday night's game at New England, there appeared to be no reason to expect major fireworks from the Denver passing game.<!--##FRONTSTOP##--> Javon Walker is still in his first year back from a major knee injury, and his quarterback Jake Plummer was struggling to the point where Broncos fans were calling for him to be replaced by a rookie. Walker had 120 receiving yards in his first two games, and had done nothing to convince his fantasy owners he was on the verge of recapturing the form that had made him an elite fantasy receiver in Green Bay. At New England, though, Walker proved his recovery from last year's injury was complete, as he busted loose and helped his QB stave off some critics, at least temporarily. Walker finished with 130 receiving yards and scored twice, including an 83-yard TD reception that clearly showed Walker is back in his best form.
Plummer found Walker downfield, and Walker then split two defenders and took off for the end zone, showing off the classic open-field awareness and breakaway ability that made him a highly-coveted fantasy wideout before his 2005 season was wiped out. Walker has dealt with health problems, unhappiness with his old team, a trade, and an up-and-down preseason. But he has put all the negativity behind him and Sunday night was his showcase to prove he can still be a must-start fantasy player. Walker is not only sleek, quick and smart, he has a knack for making the tough catch, and often makes it look pretty. He has superb awareness, concentration and body control. It will take more than one game like last night's to convince some fantasy owners that Walker has re-emerged as a top fantasy receiver. For those who still have doubts, though, you can still use him as an excellent No. 2 fantasy receiver going forward.
Injury Fallout
The 49ers were no match for the Eagles on Sunday, and lost a lot more than an opportunity to show they can hang with the NFC's stronger teams. Both running back Frank Gore and tight end Vernon Davis suffered key injuries. As he tried to finish off a potential scoring drive in the third quarter, Gore not only lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, he also suffered an abdomen injury, and the strain already has him listed as questionable for the Oct. 1 game at Kansas City. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that no one is actually sure how long Gore will be out. Gore has fumbled twice at the goal line in the past two games. Rookie Michael Robinson was able to punch the ball in from the goal line twice on Sunday. The former college QB appears to be in line for more playing time at RB, and looks like a viable fantasy addition. Robinson does have limited RB experience, but he can battle for tough yards and has the speed to stack up some decent yardage numbers against weaker opponents. The Chiefs won't be a major test for him if Robinson plays often next week, and if he doesn't look capable of carrying too often, he and Maurice Hicks conceivably could split some carries in Gore's place. Davis told the Chronicle he will miss four weeks with a calf strain and fractured right fibula. Davis has been an early disappointment, and Eric Johnson, who always has looked like a quality fantasy option when healthy, caught seven passes for 87 yards and a TD Sunday and is a fine free agent addition if you need help at tight end.
Preparing for Changes
The Jets' running back picture has been adjusted, and two runners stood out as prime options for New York after the Buffalo game, while another could get a chance to re-establish himself. Kevan Barlow started against the Bills, and while he only rushed for 31 yards on 12 carries, Barlow definitely is a quality short-yardage runner. He scored New York's first TD, on a three-yard run. Barlow will be a decent flex player for his scoring potential as long as he stays healthy. Rookie Leon Washington showed the burst and big-play potential that could earn him a decent amount of touches every week, and he's worth a look if you're hurting for RB depth. Washington set up Barlow's score, as he took a screen pass for 47 yards. Washington also carried seven times for 25 yards. If Barlow avoids injuries, he and Washington could end up sharing carries. But Barlow limped off the field in the fourth quarter and lost an opportunity to score twice. Cedric Houston scored on a five-yard run while Barlow went to the sidelines, and it could be Houston who shares some touches with Washington if Barlow misses any time. Derrick Blaylock was deactivated on Sunday and appears to be out of the mix for now.
Reality Strikes
Mark Brunell set a new NFL record by completing 22 consecutive passes to begin the game against the Texans. But the pretty-looking record doesn't suddenly make him a quality fantasy starter again. Brunell finished with 261 passing yards, a number that was inflated by a 74-yard catch-and-run by Clinton Portis. Brunell threw only one TD pass. Yes, he led Washington to a win, and quieted some talk about a possible benching. But for fantasy purposes, Brunell is still nothing more than a fantasy reserve. Most of Brunell's completions, especially early in the game, were swing passes, flat passes and underneath throws. Outside of Portis, no Washington receiver finished with more than 50 receiving yards. After the 74-yarder to Portis, which was Brunell's first completion, 14 of 21 Brunell's next completions were for less than 10 yards, and 18 of 21 were for 14 yards or less. Don't let the record snow you. Brunell is still a mediocre fantasy QB.
Scout's Notebook
? Time to trade your Lions if you can after they performed rather well statistically against the mostly defenseless Packers on Sunday. Jon Kitna threw for 342 yards and two TDs, but he still had trouble locating open receivers at critical times and will be pressured more often against better opponents. You might not get much for him, but you could sell Kitna off to a team that is very thin at QB. Kevin Jones totaled 125 yards from scrimmage and scored, and he's not looking terrible. But he's certainly not dependable and you can spin him as a versatile guy with newfound receiving skills to a team in desperate need of an RB. Roy Williams caught seven passes for 138 yards, and his talents are undeniable, but he has a shaky QB and no other quality receivers around him, so sell high on him now.
? More on Steve Smith: After watching some more tape of him on Sunday, it's clear to me that Smith does lack some of his classic explosion. But Smith did a great job of getting open often against Tampa Bay, and proved he is more than just a deep guy. Smith used his experience, moves, smarts and polish to find openings in the defense. He obviously prepared well for game day, and even if he's not 100 percent, his great all-around skills will continue to make him a must-start while he is available. ? While I'm not sold on Rex Grossman as a top fantasy QB (he is a good NFL QB right now, there is a difference), WR Bernard Berrian now gets my endorsement. I thought Berrian was just a speed guy who could only catch deep balls, and would disappear when opponents tried to take away his opportunities to get behind the secondary. But the Vikings robbed Berrian of downfield opportunities for most of the day on Sunday, and he still finished with a respectable six catches for 70 yards. Berrian can run good routes and will make key catches on shorter patterns. He should be a regular starter as a No. 3 fantasy WR
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Hache Man

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Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3New Articles Added 9/22/06)

Sep. 25, 2006, 1:44 PM
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Week 4: Patriots struggle and other defensive news


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By Jason Langendorf
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Shock and dismay. Pain and frustration. Not the names of the street free agents the New England Patriots plan to sign to compete with their current starting linebackers -- although I wouldn't put it past Bill Belichick.
They're about the only words fit for print that can describe the reactions of Belichick, Patriot Nation and any fantasy owner who banked on the sustained defensive genius of the last NFL dynasty. We all knew the Pats were old. We knew they'd miss some dearly departed teammates. We had no clue they'd look so, well ... average.
That was my impression as I watched Denver's offensive line, fullbacks and tight ends dismantle the Patriots' front seven Sunday night. It was a masterful performance, and it didn't take me long to realize I'd underestimated the 2006 Broncos. (I'll have more on that Friday.)
<TABLE class=text11 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=300 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER type="block" height="1" width="8"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>FIVE DEFENSES TO OWN FOR WEEK 4 1. Falcons: The damage to Arizona's offense could be irreparable after a weekend in the Dome.
2. Eagles: Overlooked by many on draft day. Not after the Packers visit the Linc.
3. Cowboys: This D hasn't yet hit its stride, and Collins and Tennessee are the perfect jump-off point.
4. Dolphins: I know I just ripped the DBs. But Carr still has to face a pretty ferocious Miami front seven.
5. 49ers: In a deep league, San Fran (12 sacks in three games) could be a sneaky fill-in vs. Kansas City and QB Damon Huard.
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But these were the Patriots and this was Foxborough. Opponents aren't supposed to pull masterful performances out of their hats, not even those with wily veteran linemen who have played together for years. And if you think 17 points isn't much for a defense to give up against a playoff-caliber offense that's clicking, you'd be right -- except that it could have been much worse.
The Pats' special teams units pinned Denver inside its 5 on three occasions, but it never fazed the Broncos. New England's defense put a little pressure on QB Jake Plummer and did an excellent job of hemming him in, to the point that Denver all but gave up on rollouts and bootlegs by the second half. Still, the Pats had no sacks or takeaways. The Broncos averaged 4.2 yards per rush, 8.5 per pass and converted a very respectable 7 of 16 third downs.
So what happened? New England obviously missed FS Eugene Wilson after he left the game because of a leg injury. WR Javon Walker's second touchdown of the night came when the Pats were in cover 2, and Wilson's replacement, James Sanders, didn't get to the sideline in time and blew the tackle on Walker after he arrived. Wilson is a key cog in this unit, an extremely versatile defender and one of the few good veteran Pats who doesn't require a walker and extra fiber in his diet.
Here's what concerned me more: the front seven. Always a strength of recent Patriots defenses, the linebackers looked crotchety and ineffective against the Broncos. Denver's blockers are excellent technicians, but the offensive line also is the league's lightest. Using mostly two-gap techniques designed to tie up blockers and snuff the run, DE Richard Seymour (310 pounds), DE Ty Warren (300) and DT Vince Wilfork (325 in his dreams) should have been able to keep the linebackers clean. Too often they didn't, as LB Tedy Bruschi seemed to get caught up in traffic a lot and LB Junior Seau was routinely blocked (when he wasn't doing his modified Elaine Benes after one of the two decent stops he made all night).
The Pats seem to have a WR Deion Branch hangover, and the offense hasn't done enough to give the D adequate rest and chances to play with a lead. Still, I can't help but feel Belichick has lost a little of his magic. With ancient veterans and little depth behind them, there is zero room for injuries. And even some of the healthy vets appear over the hill. The Pats aren't creating much pressure, and they seem reluctant to blitz -- probably because of a suspect secondary. I might have chalked Sunday up to just a bad game in a long season, but I went back to watch the tape of the Week 2 Jets game and came away even more concerned.
The Pats almost exclusively used one-gap techniques and stayed in a 4-3 against a New York offense with a weak run game and green offensive linemen. They created some pressure on QB Chad Pennington, but probably not as much as they should have. New England's linemen aren't natural penetrators, and the defense lacks the cover men to blitz regularly. Pennington and WR Laveranues Coles torched them for a TD on one of the rare occasions the Pats sent extra rushers. The 3-4 can create tricky pressure and force mistakes, but a good offensive line (say, Denver's) can find the rushers and the Pats seem reluctant to put their linebackers in too many potentially dangerous pass-coverage situations.
Bottom line: New England's defense seems to be neither fish nor fowl, and Belichick and his staff might be powerless to change things. They could have all kinds of trouble coming up with big plays and keeping the score down against the likes of Cincinnati (Week 4) and Indianapolis (Week 9). But it's the more harmless-looking offenses (Minnesota, Jets and Green Bay) that might really expose this unit. I'd say we can't assume anymore that the Pats will bounce back simply because they're the Pats.
TWO CENTS, AND THEN SOME ...
Plummer is nothing short of confounding. How can a quarterback look so positively out of his league one week and then deftly dissect a well-coached, veteran defense the next? (Don't get me started on QB Mark Brunell.) I will say this about Plummer: He made very few bad decisions Sunday, even when the Pats managed to keep him mostly stuck in the pocket and out of his comfort zone. He was dropped in a lot of leagues out there, and you could do worse for a No. 2 fantasy quarterback.
I don't know if WR Steve Smith was doing his version of rope-a-dope or if he's just that tough, but fantasy owners shouldn't be ready to fall back in love with QB Jake Delhomme after Smith's surprisingly sudden and productive return to Carolina's lineup. The offensive line has some issues, and Delhomme becomes a turnover machine when he faces regular pressure. QB Kerry Collins' line against Miami after just a few weeks in Tennessee and virtually no prep time in camp and preseason: 19-for-33, 269 yards and a TD. Holy moses, is that Dolphins secondary overmatched. I'm not kidding when I say every opposing quarterback through Week 17 could be start-worthy in standard leagues against Miami, including QBs David Carr and J.P. Losman.
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