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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
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Sep. 24, 2006, 11:03 PM
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Engel: Week 3 wrapup


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Here's a quick-hitting recap of key performances and news from the second week of the NFL season, complete with in-depth fantasy analysis.
Reality for Rex Grossman owners: The bottom line for Rex Grossman and the Bears is that they are now 3-0, and the quarterback threw a key touchdown pass right after the two-minute warning to win the game. But for fantasy owners, there should now be a clear difference between what Grossman can do for the Bears, and what he can do for fantasy teams. A healthy Grossman can certainly lead the Bears to many wins, but he is not going to post great numbers too often. Even coming off his four-TD performance in the second game, it's clear Grossman is no fantasy superstar. He's a good reserve who is worth starting when the matchup is right. In the first two games, Grossman faced defenses which have been very vulnerable in the secondary so far this season, and Chicago's first two opponents clearly did not game plan with Grossman as a major threat in mind. The Vikings came out much more wary of Grossman Sunday, and pressured him often. Grossman threw a pair of interceptions and also made other some questionable throws at times that could have been picked off. Based on one game last week, Grossman was indeed not the next coming of Brett Favre as advertised by some Bears backers. But for fantasy purposes, he isn't terrible, either, and keep him on your roster as a top backup for a better, more established fantasy starter.
Steve Smith returns: If you didn't start Steve Smith this week because you were still worried about his hamstring, don't beat yourself up over it. Just be glad Smith played much better than expected, and now you can be confident starting him going forward, instead of worrying about his status as you may have done for the past three weeks. Smith made an instant impact in his return to Carolina's lineup, catching seven balls for 112 yards when it was thought he might not even play, and if he did, there were major concerns that his effectiveness and production would be limited. But Smith showed that taking off the first two weeks and getting more rest was a great idea for him, even though it may have hurt some fantasy teams in the process. It might be hard to trade Smith right now, because some other fantasy owners will still worry about the recurrence of his hamstring problems. You likely won't be able to sell high on him and might not get proper value in return. So be happy he played well this week, and look forward to using him more for fine production in the near future. If Smith explodes next week against New Orleans, he'll have two fine performances to show, and you'll have the luxury of dealing him away if his health still concerns you, or keeping him for more excellent totals. But you can worry about that next week. Smile and get ready to plug him in for your fourth fantasy game.
Very impressive Portis: Steve Smith wasn't the only prominent fantasy player who eased some health concerns on Sunday. Clinton Portis flashed his best form in his first start of the season, totaling 164 yards from scrimmage and scoring twice as the Redskins stomped the defenseless Texans. Portis' top highlights included a 74-yard catch-and-run early in the game to set up Washington's first score, and a pretty 30-yard TD run near the end of the first half on a draw play. Yes, you do have to consider the opponent, as Houston does have an awful defense. But Portis at least temporarily shed any major doubts about his shoulder problem, and he should at least be a solid starter against better opponents in the near future. How Portis fares next week against Jacksonville could go a long way towards telling how he might perform for the rest of the season if he has no further setbacks. The obvious handcuff, if you can add or deal for him, is Ladell Betts, who rushed for 124 yards and was given the opportunity to take in Washington's first score, a nine-yard run. Betts is a great reserve who padded his numbers well in a blowout.
Little big man: Third on our list of tough guys who overcame health issues to shine in the third week is Brian Westbrook. Listed at only 5-8, 203 pounds, Westbrook has been a source of fantasy concern for several weeks, especially the past two. Yet for the second consecutive game, Westbrook not only played through his knee issues, he played much better than expected. In many cases, it's best to avoid using a player with injury issues, even it appears he might start. I always recommend going with the healthy player over the guy with injury problems. Well, it's clear when Westbrook plays, even if he is not 100 percent, he's a must-start player. He totaled 164 yards and scored three times on just 12 touches at San Francisco. No one in the NFL makes the most of every touch of the ball like Westbrook. His classic speed and explosiveness were on display Sunday (especially on a 71-yard TD run) despite all the worries about his knee. We learned a lesson today. Until Brian Westbrook is listed as out for sure, you don't bench him.
Another big little guy: Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew is listed at only 5-7, 212 pounds, yet he had a breakthrough game in a loss at Indianapolis Sunday. Jones-Drew averaged nearly eight yards per carry and finished with 135 yards from scrimmage. He also scored on a seven-yard TD reception. Fred Taylor can possibly be kept healthy for longer periods with Jones-Drew giving him some breathers. The rookie presents a unique change of pace to Taylor, with speed, the ability to elude defenders when he gets the ball in space, and his willingness to take some big hits. Jones-Drew will likely never be a full-time ball carrier, even if Taylor gets hurt at some point. But he can be a fine flex player who can often make the most of very opportunity to touch the ball, much like Westbrook. Jones-Drew might never be a top fantasy RB like Westbrook, but he can be another small RB who can survive, and sometimes flourish because of his unique skills.
Daunte doesn't look good: Yes, he led the Dolphins to their first win of the season. But Daunte Culpepper demonstrated that fantasy players can't depend on him, until further notice. Culpepper was sacked five times, threw no TD passes and suffered from the same problems he did in the first two games. He didn't get enough protection, his receivers didn't get open consistently, and Culpepper continued to throw some ugly-looking passes. The Dolphins barely edged the inept Titans at home. Culpepper did score on a five-yard run, but he threw for only 168 yards and finished with just five rushing yards on seven carries. Because Culpepper struggled against a team that looked so bad defensively in the first two games, it's clear he shouldn't be used as a fantasy starter again until he suddenly busts out with a much better performance, if that ever happens. Don't cut Culpepper, but don't consider starting him until your other QB has a bye week.
Palmer back on top: When you can post fine numbers against the very best defenses, you're a bona fide fantasy superstar who should never be benched. Carson Palmer was that type of QB before his knee injury in last year's playoffs, and he has fully returned to that form. Palmer lost a fumble, was intercepted twice and sacked six times, yet he overcame adversity to throw four touchdown passes and led the Bengals to an emotional win at Pittsburgh. Palmer was highly admirable in victory, and while the turnovers did hurt his overall fantasy production a bit, it's clear that Palmer has secured his lofty place again among the very elite QBs in fantasy football. Only Peyton Manning might be more dependable for regularly excellent production, and if Palmer keeps playing well, he could arguably rival Manning again as the best QB in fantasy football.
Bad, bad Ben: Willie Parker bounced back from his forgettable second week performance in a shutout loss to the Jaguars, but his quarterback Ben Roethlisberger kept his awful play going against the Bengals. Roethlisberger looked even worse at times on Sunday than he did last Monday night, as it was more than just his health dragging him down against Cincinnati. While his throws looked better at times and he occasionally looked more confident rolling out of the pocket, Roethlisberger's decisions, especially under pressure, were downright difficult to watch. Roethlisberger completed only 18 of 39 attempts, and was intercepted three times. Hines Ward caught only two passes for 17 yards, and none of his receiving partners challenged Cincinnati very much. A questionable pass-catching corps, combined with Roethlisberger's recent health issues and befuddling game management, make him a must-sit player until he shows signs of improving.
Erratic Eli?: It appeared Eli Manning was headed for the worst game of his young career at halftime of Sunday's game at Seattle. He had no TD passes, three interceptions, and his team trailed by 32 points. But in the fourth quarter, Manning not only regained a minor measure of respect by throwing for three TD passes, he also saved the fortunes of many fantasy teams in his obviously futile effort to make the final score look less ugly. When Manning has to play from behind, he certainly can be statistically prolific. When the Giants win, Manning will often be at the front of the charge. There's no question New York was embarrassed on Sunday, even if the final score didn't look as bad as the Giants played for much of the game. But Manning, who did finish with 275 passing yards, showed he can deliver pretty good numbers, win or lose. He'll make the big throws when the Giants win, and he'll pad his numbers nicely when they play catch-up. Sizzling Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck quieted most concerns about his sluggish start by throwing five TD passes against the Giants. Hasselbeck did throw an ill-timed pass under pressure that was intercepted and returned for a fourth-quarter score, but for the most part, he got great pass protection and made terrific reads and accurate throws downfield during the game's most important quarters, the first two. The addition of Deion Branch certainly made the Seattle passing game more dangerous and balanced than ever. Branch caught only two passes for 23 yards, but the Giants simply couldn't account for all of Seattle's receiving weapons, as three different wide receivers caught scoring passes. Darrell Jackson remained Hasselbeck's preferred target, as he caught two TD passes. The amazing receiving depth in Seattle makes Hasselbeck hard to bench in any situation going forward, even against Chicago next week. Shaun Alexander was a disappointment again, with just 47 rushing yards on 20 carries, but the passing game did set him up for a two-yard scoring run. He did get a lot of rest in the second half, as he entered the game with concerns about a sore foot. Seattle's offensive line dominated New York's formidable front four for much of the day, though, and won't be intimidated by the Bears. Expect at least respectable fantasy totals from Alexander next week.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3New Articles Added 9/22/06)

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

Week 3 wrap


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


First of all, before we begin, let's separate fantasy from reality for a minute and wish a speedy recovery for Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms. Nothing said or written about Simms in the past few weeks in this space or anywhere in fantasy is at all relevant today, the day after Simms had emergency surgery on a ruptured spleen. How he managed to play at all on Sunday after he suffered the injury is amazing.

Anyway, I'll wait a day or two to discuss potential new starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and Carnell Williams and well, how it affects the team. Luckily, the Bucs get a bye this week.
***
Honestly, I had no idea Donte' Stallworth was going to be rendered inactive on Sunday. Hadn't a clue. We spent all week talking about the myriad injured, questionable fellas, and then about an hour before the Eagles and 49ers are ready to play, it's announced Stallworth is out. Who knew? I had read the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday morning, watched the requisite Eagles pregame shows, there was no sign of this. He was listed as probable. Ninety minutes before the Panthers played we thought Steve Smith was out. He played!
Anyway for all the good from Sunday, the surprise but good-play quarterbacks going off in the Packers-Lions game, a pair of Redskins running backs loving life and John Kasay nailing one long field goal after another, I checked out some message boards and saw Stallworth owners venting angry words.
Just can't make fantasy football owners happy, no matter what!
What a great Sunday it was in fantasy football. We saw Rex Grossman shut down for much of the game, then lead the Bears back for the win. Now do we believe? Well, kind of. Carson Palmer was great, Byron Leftwich bad and Mark Brunell nearly perfect. Ahman Green scored. Kevan Barlow scored! Two Lions running backs scored!! Oh my!
Let's go game by game:
Jets 28, Bills 20: Impressed by Chad Pennington? He didn't have great stats, but he led his team to the win, despite the fact the Bills had more than 200 more total yards than New York. Really, Jets fans, the win is more important. But I'd stick with Pennington as a fantasy backup, not a clear cut starter. Laveranues Coles delivered a 10-catch performance, impressive since he wasn't a definite to play. Jerricho Cotchery only caught three passes.
Barlow managed to find the end zone, but not much else. Late in the game Cedric Houston got the chance from the five yard line, and scored. Is this a timeshare? Probably not. Barlow was banged up, which he'll probably always be. The Jets just aren't much of a rushing team. Barlow remains not worth the trouble in fantasy, though he must be owned.
J.P. Losman topped 300 yards passing, but he was playing from behind the entire second half, so it's hard to get too caught up in it. Losman did find Roscoe Parrish on a long touchdown pass, and he ran in another score late in the game, but Buffalo's problem remains scoring actual points, not moving the ball. Willis McGahee had a monster rushing game, but those 150 yards on the ground are hollow without a score. I recommended Lee Evans as a play, and he did top 100 yards receiving. This team could get dangerous for fantasy if they could finish drives. As it is, McGahee is on his way to a solid yards season.
Packers 31, Lions 24: This game went pretty much as expected, with defense not much of a priority, and both quarterbacks piling up the numbers. I picked the Packers to win 30-20 and Brett Favre to get three touchdowns, which he did. Not bad at all!
But who could have expected both Ahman Green and Kevin Jones to play well? Other than Green's out-of-place 100-yard effort against the Bears in Week 1, these guys collectively had done little. But Green scored on a reception and made his mark that way, while Jones was very active, topping 120 total yards and scoring a rushing touchdown. What does that mean for future weeks? I wouldn't make Green nor Jones definite plays too often.
Good to see Roy Williams back up his bravado with a big game. Greg Jennings is a guy we've been talking about for weeks, and his 75-yard score will make him owned in a lot more leagues this week, but it will not diminish Donald Driver. Big game next week for Favre and the crew in Philly on Monday night. Important game to gauge this offense.
Colts 21, Jaguars 14: Last year's matchup in Indy went kind of like this, with neither team able to move the ball much. It was the game in Florida that the touchdowns were scored. Peyton Manning did score twice Sunday, though one was on a run. Peyton Manning running the ball? Years ago he used to, fantasy owners counted on it. Manning scored four rushing touchdowns in 2001, and had nine in his first five seasons, but none in the last three. Maybe he's bringing this part of his game back. He might need to, because the Colts running game remains a disappointment. I had this game 24-21 Colts.
Two stories from the Jacksonville side, if you will. One, Byron Leftwich didn't do much, though he did manage to score a rushing touchdown. Very odd. Through the air, however, he was not impressive a bit. Second, the Jags run game looked good, thanks to rookie Maurice Jones-Drew breaking off a few big ones and topping 100 yards. Even Fred Taylor had a presentable game. Don't be shocked if Taylor shares the carries going forward. At the least the Jags can use the excuse they want to keep Taylor healthy, knowing full well they have two weapons.
Dolphins 13, Titans 10: You can officially leave Daunte Culpepper on your bench now until further notice. Well, except for next week when he gets to play an even worse defense.
I didn't expect a tremendous game, but 168 yards is pathetic. But like a number of other passers, he wasn't a total bust because he ran for a touchdown. Don't get the idea Culpepper ran well, though. He did not. Long term this season his value isn't good.
What else here? Chris Brown didn't play, giving Travis Henry a chance to show his stuff. He got plenty of carries, but delivered little. Meanwhile, Kerry Collins probably earned another start next week against Dallas, not that it matters much in fantasy. The Titans stayed in this game, probably because Miami is way overrated, but offer little to fantasy owners.
Just like Culpepper.
Bears 19, Vikings 16: Yes, I was impressed by both teams, really. I watched much of this one closely, and the Vikings could've had this one. I felt better about my pick of Vikings 16, Bears 13. Thought it would end 16-12 until late, when Grossman showed something. Don't blame Brad Johnson or Chester Taylor. Both did fine, though they couldn't score. Ultimately it was Grossman who gave up the go-ahead touchdown, Minnesota's only one, on a horrible interception, but he led them back with a two key fourth quarter drives. I still wouldn't assume he's a must fantasy start, but he's in the top half of quarterbacks. Well, he's right around the midpoint.
No carries for Cedric Benson? What do Bears fans care, they're 3-0. Thomas Jones now has three average games. I think he'll take it. We won't.
Bengals 28, Steelers 20: I pegged this one for Carson Palmer as well, but four touchdowns is a lot to ask for. My point was that Palmer is a weekly play no matter the opponent. In fact, I named five quarterbacks as automatic plays: Both Mannings (um, more on Eli later), Palmer, Donovan McNabb and Tom Brady. This does answer the question about Cincy being able to score on the Steelers, as if it wasn't answered last season when Palmer scored 38 on them in their house.
Anyway, this also answers the question about Willie Parker. Last Monday against Jacksonville was just one of those nights.
Chris Henry and T.J. Houshmandzadeh? Sure, why can't three Bengals receivers be like Peyton's Colts trio was two seasons ago? The question is, is Chad Johnson the team's Brandon Stokley? Both Housh and Henry scored twice this game. More to come for this duo.
Panthers 26, Buccaneers 24: Each team showed how badly it needed the game, to avoid falling to 0-3. But who should we praise for fantasy football? I would never have given up on Jake Delhomme. He looked fine now that he's got Steve Smith back. Keyshawn Johnson was a bigger beneficiary, scoring twice, including the second rushing touchdown of his career.
Did you play Smith? On Sunday morning Chris Mortensen said that Smith was unlikely to play, and I wrote that avoiding Smith was a good idea in fantasy, assuming you had reasonable options. But as the 1 o'clock game time approached, I even changed my mind and went back to activate Smith over Rod Smith in one league. Steve Smith topped 100 yards and while he didn't score, it was impressive nonetheless and showed how much better it makes his teammates. Who expected 112 yards? I just didn't want my second round pick on the bench in case he did something, especially when reports changed that Smith would start.
Well, look what it did for Delhomme and Keyshawn. DeShaun Foster ran hard for 82 yards as well. DeAngelo Williams again looked great on returns, but he didn't get the carries. I named him as a sit based on what coach John Fox said, that he would stick with Foster.
Carnell Williams really didn't run well, and I don't know if it was because of his back problem or the Carolina defense. But those who played him did get a touchdown. I'd still aim to avoid playing him until we see a big rushing game. And the three-game stretch for Joey Galloway is a bit hard to believe. Zero catches, then nine for 161, and one catch here. At least it was a touchdown. Even with this new situation in Tampa, he remains a worthy play.
Redskins 31, Texans 15: Did I underestimate the Redskins, or overestimate the Texans? I think it's Houston's defense. How else does one explain Mark Brunell breaking the NFL record for consecutive completions? Brunell looked terrible the last few weeks. Mark Brunell is now the all-time record holder for consecutive completions! Say it again! Yeah, he was a decent play here, but let's not get too excited for the rest of the schedule.
No, I still won't make Brunell a top 10 fantasy quarterback next week. If Daunte Culpepper has a big day against the dreadful Texans next Sunday then it will tell us just how bad bad Houston is defensively. I still take Grossman and Pennington over Brunell in normal matchups.
Clinton Portis told us early in the week he'd play, which he did. And I was all over this matchup, though I have the guy in only one league. I thought he'd have a big day, start fast and Washington would get a lead and likely sit him. All of it happened. Early on Portis was even better than expected, as he caught a 74-yarder and he got his two touchdowns on the ground. He looked great. Terrific. Glad you stuck with him? Don't be concerned about Ladell Betts running for more yards. It was 31-7, 10 seconds into the final period. Why use Portis up by that much?
Again David Carr has an impressive day statistically, and again I say it's simply because his team was trailing by so much, he got to throw against nickel defenses. But fantasy owners can also take advantage of this. The Texans might have 10 more games like this! Without a running game, and a defense to keep games close, Carr will have problems winning, but not necessarily putting up numbers. Ron Dayne got nearly all the carries. Sam Gado got one. Not sure it matters much who gets the carries next week.
Rams 16, Cardinals 14: I expected each team to score much more than this, so why didn't it happen? Well, these teams just aren't very good, and the six turnovers help prove it. It's why neither of these teams is likely to win half its games, and Seattle will be sitting Shaun Alexander the final two weeks with the division clinched.
Torry Holt, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald all did their thing. Marc Bulger and Kurt Warner didn't throw nearly as much as I figured. Ultimately, Bulger didn't throw a pick, and Warner's last-minute fumble cost Arizona the game.
Final thought is about the running backs. Steven Jackson should have done better. It was a nice matchup for him. And Edgerrin James nearly reached 100 yards, and scored. Is he going to catch the ball more this season? Tough to tell which direction his statistical season is going to do, but I'd still say if he finishes in the top 10 of running backs, it's barely.
Eagles 38, 49ers 24: Impressive offensive performance in the first half by Philly, which aired it out on the first play with a flea flicker. Even without Stallworth, Donovan McNabb was terrific, using seven different receivers. Backup tight end Matt Schobel was uncovered on a fourth quarter play and broke a 60-yarder. Reggie Brown finally got some love, topping 100 yards. And Brian Westbrook is a very, very underrated player.
Why didn't I rank Westbrook in my top 12 overall? Can't see him playing more than 13 or 14 games. He's going to dial it back in practice each week, as Philly aims to keep him healthy. If I thought he wouldn't get hurt, he'd be close to a top five back. His 117 yards rushing is a bit of an aberration, thanks to the 71-yard rumble. But look, how can any Westbrook owner complain. He easily could have missed the game.
Alex Smith impressed me. I watched as Philly's pass rush made things hard for him in the second half, and he not only got up, but made decent decisions. He wasn't picked off. The fumbles would have happened to anyone, the way he was trounced.
Seahawks 42, Giants 30: Deceiving game statistically. Face it, Eli Manning looked awful early on, worse than he did in the Philly game a week before. And this time Eli's big comeback effort wasn't enough. Eli was just that bad, falling behind 42-3. Ugh. Was I wrong about Eli? Giants fans sure think so. While he ended up with decent stats, they are misleading, and we all know it. Hey, just like the Philly game was just one game, so was this. Manning must learn consistency. Even after the Philly comeback I knew that, but figured he'd stop with these miserable performances. Guess not. Still, I'm playing him. You want to say I misread Eli, go ahead, but you know he could easily turn into a top five statistical fantasy quarterback. Is he there yet? Put it this way, after three weeks, Eli has numbers. It's just disconcerting to Giants fans how he's gotten them.
What I take from this game, other than how bad Eli and the Giants were, allowing Matt Hasselbeck to throw five touchdown passes, is that Shaun Alexander just doesn't look the same. He scored his touchdown just a few minutes into the game, then sleepwalked through the rest, getting two yards per carry. Is he hurt? Is it the line? Teams keying on the run and letting Hasselbeck and talented receivers beat them? I don't know, but Alexander has plenty of time to earn top three status.
Deion Branch played, but really, what can one learn in a game like this?
Ravens 15, Browns 14: This proves that the Ravens offense isn't nearly as good as it looked the first two weeks. Maybe it never was that good. Steve McNair has weapons, so I'm not sure I understand this. Jamal Lewis had another favorable result, with 86 yards. Derrick Mason isn't aging. Mark Clayton played the possession receiver role well. And Todd Heap, suddenly questionable over the weekend with an ankle sprain, scored Baltimore's touchdown. So why couldn't the Ravens score more against Cleveland? And really, how did Cleveland score two touchdowns, especially without a running game. Reuben Droughns surprisingly didn't play, leaving behind a mess. Charlie Frye didn't get the win, but performed well. Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow remain interesting fantasy options. If they can get more than 200 receiving yards against the Ravens, they'll have better days.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 7 New Articles Added 9/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 7 New Articles Added 9/25/06)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Swoon Over Miami


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By Tristan 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 -->It's hardly fair to condemn the Dolphins' Daunte Culpepper outright as a mediocre fantasy quarterback based on only three games, but three games is indeed enough time for us to draw some conclusions regarding his value. So far, his return from knee surgery as more of a pocket passer than the scrambler he was in the past hasn't been at all an encouraging one.
Through three games, Culpepper has averaged 226.7 passing yards per contest, with one touchdown compared to three interceptions. His passer rating (73.1) is no better than the one he managed in seven games played in 2005 (72.0), which begs the question, were Culpepper's best years in Minnesota entirely a product of his top receiver, Randy Moss? After all, it seems all too coincidental that Culpepper's three best career seasons (2000, '03 and '04) were all huge years for Moss in terms of touchdowns (15, 17 and 13, respectively).
Culpepper and the other receivers he's played with throughout his career do seem to lack the same rapport he had with Moss, and in 15 games without Moss since the start of the 2004 season, he's averaged 228.2 passing yards, with 16 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. His current top receiver, Chris Chambers, is arguably the best pass catcher Culpepper has worked with since he and Moss were split up following the 2004 campaign, but even Chambers isn't quite the talent Moss was in his prime. Culpepper hasn't come close to making full use of Chambers yet, and he's barely even looking the way of his tight end, Randy McMichael, one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the game.
The bottom line is that if Culpepper couldn't capitalize on so favorable a matchup as a home game against the Titans in Week 3, one has to wonder how much potential he'll have in any game. He gets the Texans in Houston in Week 4, which is effectively a must-perform situation. The Redskins' Mark Brunell set an NFL record for consecutive completions (22) against Houston in Week 3, quieting his critics, and it's not like he's in any better a situation than Culpepper. This is the kind of matchup that should do one of two things: Culpepper succeeding would offer his fantasy owners perhaps their only sell-high opportunity all year; Culpepper failing would place all the blame for Miami's problems on him.
Whatever the result, Culpepper probably isn't in any immediate danger of losing his job, nor should we assume he'll be a fantasy disaster all year. But he's in severe danger of slipping into permanent backup quarterback status, meaning it's a key week in which for him to rebound. I'd hope for a big game, then try to sell him off while he still has some value, because even with a good Week 4, he's looking altogether too shaky so far.
<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
Frank Gore's bruised ribs should be closely monitored during practice this week; the 49ers running back seems more likely to give up most -- if not all -- of his goal-line carries as a result of his health than his fumbling issues. Still, both are factors, which is why Michael Robinson has developed into such a hot sleeper/larger leagues pickup. No one seemed to be talking about Gore's problems holding onto the ball, and his performance sure wasn't a worry, but now that he has hit the first stumbling block of his breakout season, all his faults have suddenly become magnified. I'm not ready to change my stance on Gore; I said a week ago and stand by it today that he should be an every-week No. 2 starter (in any game in which he's healthy enough to play). Why wouldn't I call him more? Simple: His fumbling problems are finally being exposed enough that Robinson indeed could begin vulturing a fair share of his goal-line carries. That doesn't make Robinson a must-add, in my mind, but it does give him a little appeal in TD-heavy scoring systems, and it does make him an intriguing Gore handcuff if you have a deep enough bench to add him.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Michael Clayton, WR, Buccaneers
1 reception, 14 receiving yards, 0 TDs

While no one would recommend new Buccaneers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski in a fantasy league -- nor should they -- it's important to remember that we shouldn't completely dismiss players who have yet to receive a chance at the NFL level. Still, no matter what Gradkowski does for Tampa Bay for as long as he starts, the odds are stacked heavily against his favor, and against that of his receivers. Untested, rookie quarterbacks generally face a long learning curve, and while they're adjusting to the NFL level, their receivers and their teams' offenses as a whole suffer. And browsing the Tampa Bay roster, no player stands out as one whose numbers could suffer more than Clayton, a clear No. 2 to Joey Galloway on the depth chart. Consider that in three games, Clayton has only nine receptions for 110 yards and no scores, despite being targeted 19 times. Now, it's anyone's guess which receiver Gradkowski will pick as his preferred target; Brian Griese's favorite receiver in his Tampa Bay days seemed to be Clayton, while Chris Simms' appeared to be Galloway. But with Gradkowski facing the challenge of adjusting to life at the NFL level, and dealing with an offensive line that shouldn't offer him much time to locate his receivers, he's probably going to look first to his No. 1 man, Galloway (targeted 27 times so far this season), and if Galloway's covered, tight end Alex Smith might be his next look. Clayton's role only seems to decrease each week, and he's looking a lot closer to the struggling sophomore he was in 2005 than the rookie standout he was in 2004.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 7 New Articles Added 9/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 7 New Articles Added 9/25/06)

Buzzing about fantasy


posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


We've always said that fantasy football owners, more than in any other fantasy sport, are way too reactive, and endure the highest of highs when things go well, and the lowest of lows when they don't. Think about it: with only one game per week, a two-point loss lingers for days, especially if it happened by questionable means. And then a miracle win can brighten a week, at least until the next game.

Same thing can happen with individual players. Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn were monsters the first two weeks, had a bad Monday, and now we get questions about their future. It's one game!
When Shaun Alexander got hurt, there were more e-mails and feedback about Maurice Morris than you can possibly imagine. The Monday night buzz, other than the fact that nobody ever wants to see another NFL player on the cover of Madden, was you had to do whatever you could to go get the new Seattle running back.
Good move or bad? Well, it's both.
? Alexander fantasy football owners on Monday morning: C'mon, only 47 yards? What's the matter with this guy? I spent my first pick on this?
? Alexander owners on Monday night: Shaun who? Sorry dear, I'll eat dinner later, I gotta go online and get this Morris guy right now!
? And we look ahead to next Monday: This guy sucks. I could've had anyone get me five fantasy points. Where's Ronnie Dayne?
Yes, that's fantasy football, where the highs are too high, the lows are too low. Morris has a few issues to deal with this week:
? If Alexander couldn't run when healthy this month, why will Morris? He's not better than Alexander.
? Seattle travels to Chicago. Um, that's not a fun place for running backs to play, not against this defense.
? If/when Morris fails to reach expectations that are likely unreasonable, his stock will drop. He's probably wondering why his first game couldn't be against Houston! Where's Ricky Watters when you need him?
Morris was owned in 2.9 percent of ESPN leagues, mainly by Alexander owners who figured they would handcuff their most critical investment. By the end of this week, I'm thinking Morris will be owned in just about every league, on the chance he turns into a terrific fantasy option. There's no harm in adding the guy. The harm is probably in playing him. So good for you if you already owned Morris and got ahead of the curve. It's also smart, whether you owned Alexander or not, to sign Morris this week, as long as you're not dropping a potential superstar.
My prediction on Morris is that you don't see the payoff in your pickup until Week 6 when the Seahawks go to St. Louis. And even then, there's no guarantee Morris has a big game against the Rams. The Broncos didn't in Week 1. Plus, Alexander could make a strong recovery and play that week. Broken bones heal faster than sprains and other tears.
So you're obviously buzzing about Maurice Morris and Shaun Alexander. What else?
(Before we get to the other names, I'm not going to write about the Terrell Owens situation from Tuesday night/Wednesday morning from a fantasy aspect. Well, unless I'm ordered to. Fact is, whatever's going on, it's not my place to judge or predict off-field activity, or to mix what could be, if reports are true, a serious situation not to be confused with what we discuss here. I don't think Owens will play this week, so react accordingly. Hopefully Owens will be OK, mentally and physically, and I mean that. More details will surely come out on Owens' behavior, follow all the news on ESPN.com's NFL coverage.)
And while we're at it, we wish health for Chris Simms, and look forward to discussing his fantasy future in 2007.
? Will the starting QB in Arizona please stand up? On Monday there was a report that the Cardinals would start Matt Leinart in Week 4 against Atlanta, with fumble king Kurt Warner heading to the bench. On Tuesday, Warner apparently got his job back. Maybe he held on to the ball in Monday's practice and that was enough to convince the coaches. Fantasy owners are flocking to Leinart. Should they? How many rookie quarterbacks really succeed in fantasy football? Peyton Manning wasn't a star. Ben Roethlisberger won games for the Steelers, but not for us.
It's true that whoever takes the snaps for Arizona gets the luxury of throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Edgerrin James, but the line is a mess, and probably contributed to Warner's woes. Leinart is more mobile, of course. I mean, my desk is more mobile. But Leinart would still go through the same rookie issues everyone else does. Sign him if you must, but you don't even know if he'll play this week, or anytime soon.
? Speaking of, what about the Titans? For everything I wrote about Leinart, double that for Vince Young. In fact, Tennessee is worse off than Arizona. Travis Henry? David Givens? The schedule, the defense, it's a mess. So I'm not actually saying Young and Leinart will be bad fantasy players, but it's likely they won't be much help to you. It's fun to talk about them and speculate, relive their college days, but Jake Delhomme is a better fantasy quarterback for 2006, without question. As for Kerry Collins, I don't see too many scenarios at this point where he holds fantasy value. Warner, as long as he plays, still does.
? Is Brett Favre reliving his golden years? Not so fast, people. While I was one of the guys to predict Favre would have big games against New Orleans and Detroit, I still view Favre as more of a matchup play. And a Monday night game at Philadelphia is not a good matchup. I was on the sidelines last season when Favre came to Philly in Week 12 and threw a pair of interceptions. Watching a game on TV you can't fully appreciate when a QB is throwing the ball up for grabs. On the sideline, 20 yards away, you can. Favre does look better the last few weeks, certainly more accurate, enjoying an improved running game and a solid No. 2 receiving option in rookie Greg Jennings. But let's not get too excited for this week. After Week 4, he's got the Rams, Dolphins and Cardinals, which is nice, and later in the year the 49ers and Lions again.
? Why all the hatin' on Rex Grossman? We're not really trying to be mean in reference to Grossman, and we understand there's a difference between winning football games, and winning fantasy football games. Grossman might have a Roethlisberger type season and win 13 games, but I'm not sold on him as a fantasy starter. He's at home the next two Sundays against a pair of decent defenses (Seattle, Buffalo), and I wouldn't go out of my way to activate him. He's not a top 10 fantasy quarterback.
? Is Reggie Bush not worth it? No, he's definitely worth it, but the Saints would rather control the clock and win games than alienate Deuce McAllister and watch their top pick run 25 times for big yardage each week. I agree with that line of thinking. And Monday night's game was proof that the Falcons went out of their way to game plan for Bush, and force McAllister or Drew Brees to make plays. New Orleans did score 23 points, but quite a bit of that was the fault of Atlanta's defense. Anyway, Bush hasn't scored yet, but he will. He remains a flex option, at worst, a guy you should play each week. Don't expect a monster performance at Carolina this week, but Bush is worth using. ? Why does every first round pick struggle? In reality, some first rounders every season don't put up the numbers you expect, but the reason you take a LaMont Jordan eighth overall, and not a Frank Gore, is because of the value placed on the players. Jordan was worth more. Sure, you might have felt Gore would be better, but you could get him 45 minutes later. But also, how much separates a first round running back from a third rounder? Experience and durability are factors, as well as a team's fortunes. The Raiders are struggling, to say the least, and Jordan has been affected. The Niners, meanwhile, are scoring points. It's wonderful that you got Chester Taylor in round four while your first rounder Tiki Barber is doing nothing, but that doesn't mean you should've known this on draft day, or you should expect it all season.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 7 New Articles Added 9/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 7 New Articles Added 9/25/06)

Sep. 27, 2006, 3:19 PM
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FFL: Week 4 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 at NYJ
2. Donovan McNabb vs. GB
3. Carson Palmer vs. NE
<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->4. Tom Brady at CIN
5. Marc Bulger vs. DET
6. Matt Hasselbeck at CHI
7. Chad Pennington vs. IND
8. Brett Favre at PHI
9. Drew Bledsoe at TEN
10. Jake Delhomme vs. NO
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER type="block" width="8" height="1"></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 vs. SEA
12. Drew Brees at CAR
13. Michael Vick vs. ARI
14. Kurt Warner at ATL
15. David Carr vs. MIA
16. Steve McNair vs. SD
17. Byron Leftwich at WAS
18. Daunte Culpepper at HOU
19. Alex Smith at KC
20. Charlie Frye at OAK
21. Jon Kitna at STL
22. Brad Johnson at BUF
23. Mark Brunell vs. JAC
24. J.P. Losman vs. MIN
25. Philip Rivers at BAL
26. Damon Huard vs. SF
27. Andrew Walter vs. CLE
28. Kerry Collins vs. DAL

Running Backs
1. Larry Johnson vs. SF
2. LaDainian Tomlinson at BAL
3. Ronnie Brown at HOU
4. Brian Westbrook vs. GB
5. Rudi Johnson vs. NE
6. Steven Jackson vs. DET
7. Warrick Dunn vs. ARI
8. Edgerrin James at ATL
9. Clinton Portis vs. JAC
10. Chester Taylor at BUF
11. Willis McGahee vs. MIN
12. Laurence Maroney at CIN
13. Frank Gore at KC
14. LaMont Jordan vs. CLE
15. Deuce McAllister at CAR
16. Reggie Bush at CAR
17. Jamal Lewis vs. SD
18. Julius Jones at TEN
19. Kevin Jones at STL
20. Ahman Green at PHI
21. Thomas Jones vs. SEA
22. Maurice Morris at CHI
23. Reuben Droughns at OAK
24. Corey Dillon at CIN
25. DeShaun Foster vs. NO
26. Fred Taylor at WAS
27. Dominic Rhodes at NYJ
28. Joseph Addai at NYJ
29. Kevan Barlow vs. IND
30. Ron Dayne vs. MIA
31. Maurice Jones-Drew at WAS
32. Travis Henry vs. DAL
33. DeAngelo Williams vs. NO
34. Leon Washington vs. IND
35. Ladell Betts vs. JAC
36. Michael Robinson at KC
37. Jerious Norwood vs. ARI
38. Marion Barber III at TEN
39. Samkon Gado vs. MIA
40. Jason Wright at OAK

Wide Receivers
1. Marvin Harrison at NYJ
2. Torry Holt vs. DET
3. Chad Johnson vs. NE
4. Steve Smith vs. NO
5. Anquan Boldin at ATL
6. Larry Fitzgerald at ATL
7. Chris Chambers at HOU
8. Andre Johnson vs. MIA
9. Antonio Bryant at KC
10. Donald Driver at PHI
11. Roy Williams at STL
12. Reggie Brown vs. GB
13. Santana Moss vs. JAC
14. Terry Glenn at TEN
15. Laveranues Coles vs. IND
16. Braylon Edwards at OAK
17. Randy Moss vs. CLE
18. T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. NE
19. Keyshawn Johnson vs. NO
20. Darrell Jackson at CHI
21. Bernard Berrian vs. SEA
22. Jerricho Cotchery vs. IND
23. Muhsin Muhammad vs. SEA
24. Greg Jennings at PHI
25. Troy Williamson at BUF
26. Derrick Mason vs. SD
27. Isaac Bruce vs. DET
28. Eddie Kennison vs. SF
29. Marques Colston at CAR
30. Lee Evans vs. MIN
31. Joe Horn at CAR
32. Reggie Williams at WAS
33. Deion Branch at CHI
34. Chris Henry vs. NE
35. Matt Jones at WAS
36. Drew Bennett vs. DAL
37. Keenan McCardell at BAL
38. Michael Jenkins vs. ARI
39. Eric Moulds vs. MIA
40. Marty Booker at HOU
41. Doug Gabriel at CIN
42. Mark Clayton vs. SD
43. Travis Taylor at BUF
44. Bobby Engram at CHI
45. Nate Burleson at CHI
46. Antwaan Randle El vs. JAC
47. Mike Furrey at STL
48. Aaron Moorehead at NYJ
49. Patrick Crayton at TEN
50. Ashley Lelie vs. ARI
51. Devery Henderson at CAR
52. Josh Reed vs. MIN
53. Roddy White vs. ARI
54. David Givens vs. DAL
55. Samie Parker vs. SF
56. Troy Brown at CIN
57. Brandon Lloyd vs. JAC
58. Peerless Price vs. MIN
59. Ernest Wilford at WAS
60. Arnaz Battle at KC

Tight Ends
1. Antonio Gates at BAL
2. Todd Heap vs. SD
3. Tony Gonzalez vs. SF
4. Alge Crumpler vs. ARI
5. L.J. Smith vs. GB
6. Kellen Winslow Jr. at OAK
7. Benjamin Watson at CIN
8. Jason Witten at TEN
9. Randy McMichael at HOU
10. Eric Johnson at KC
11. Dallas Clark at NYJ
12. Chris Cooley vs. JAC
13. Bubba Franks at PHI
14. Jermaine Wiggins at BUF
15. Chris Baker vs. IND
16. Ben Troupe vs. DAL
17. Owen Daniels vs. MIA
18. Daniel Graham at CIN
19. John Gilmore vs. SEA
20. Bo Scaife vs. DAL
21. Dan Campbell at STL
22. Will Heller at CHI
23. Donald Lee at PHI
24. Joe Klopfenstein vs. DET
25. Anthony Fasano at TEN

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

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 7 New Articles Added 9/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 7 New Articles Added 9/25/06)

Sep. 27, 2006, 4:36 PM
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Engel: Will Hasselbeck soar or stumble?


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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
The Seahawks easily have the best set of four wide receivers in the league, which seems to make life enjoyable for Matt Hasselbeck. Mike Holmgren told the Seattle Times he used more four-receiver sets than usual in Seattle's dusting of the Giants. After Hasselbeck threw five TD passes against New York, it initially appears he could be headed for a superb fantasy season.
But stop before you deal a top RB for Hasselbeck. The loss of Shaun Alexander alters the look of the offense and should force defenses to make adjustments to defend the passing game first in the near future. Usually, the presence of Alexander would mean Hasselbeck would be assured of not seeing defenses drop extra men back into coverage or having them bring extra pass pressure often. But Maurice Morris simply isn't a major rushing threat, and Seattle's upcoming opponents should be expected to draw up schemes that defend the pass first. The Bears face the Seahawks on Sunday night, and could deliver a blueprint on how to effectively defend the no-Alexander Seahawks.
Without Alexander, Hasselbeck has much less of an element of surprise on play-action fakes and audibles. Look for the Bears to take away the deep ball and possibly employ extra defensive backs in several situations to handle the quartet of Darrell Jackson, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch and Bobby Engram. Hasselbeck might have to settle for more underneath throws, and it's likely he will be forced into more adverse passing situations without Alexander. That will mean more pass pressure and less time to find his key receivers in critical situations. Hasselbeck is no lock to perform better without Alexander. In fact, he'll miss him. Look for less big plays, and some efficient, but not statistically outstanding performances for the most part while Alexander is out. You're going to see more one and two TD games and the three-plus TD performance will be rare and sometimes impossible while Alexander is sidelined.
QB Audibles: Andrew Walter is set to start for Oakland in Sunday's game against Cleveland. Walter struggles with his accuracy and doesn't make consistently good reads, but he can throw the deep ball effectively at times, which could mean slightly better production for Randy Moss. ?If Brad Johnson goes down any time soon, Minnesota could be forced to turn to ex-Jet Brooks Bollinger. Rookie Tarvaris Jackson, who looked good in the preseason, is expected to miss a month after undergoing minor knee surgery.
Running Backs
It has taken some time, and we spent much of the preseason frustrated about the situation. But at least for now, the Denver RB mess has been cleared up, and finally, after a seemingly endless wait for him to emerge as the No. 1 RB, Tatum Bell sits alone at the top of the depth chart. Mike Bell no longer appears to be a threat to Tatum Bell's playing time. Cedric Cobbs is clearly no longer a factor, especially with a sprained ankle. And Ron Dayne is long gone.
Tatum Bell carried the ball a career-high 27 times against the Patriots this past Sunday. "I finally earned their trust," Tatum Bell told the Denver Post about the Broncos' coaching staff. "That's why I'm the starter. I'm going to make them happy they trust me."
According to the Post, Mike Shanahan told Tatum Bell on Saturday night he would no longer rotate series with Mike Bell. Tatum Bell reportedly won the job because of his determination to regain No. 1 RB status when he fell behind Mike Bell on the depth chart in the preseason. He continued to work on his inside running in practices, the area of his game that needed the most improvement. In the past, Tatum Bell had also seemed to fade later in games when given more touches. That was not the case against New England, when he continued to carry and perform effectively in the fourth quarter, when Shanahan gave him the opportunity to help the team protect its lead.
Bell promised to let the coaching staff know when he was tiring, and he came out in the third quarter for a brief spell, and then returned to action with no issues after Mike Bell filled in for four carries. "I know the coaches want to keep me as fresh as possible," Bell told the Post. "I plan on being a four-quarter player and a durable player."
As a regular starter for the team that often produces outstanding fantasy running backs, Bell is finally a must-start fantasy player.
RB Cutbacks: Corey Dillon is considered day-to-day with a neck stinger. It would be hard to imagine any injury that isn't major keeping Dillon from an opportunity to return to Cincinnati and hurt his former team. ? Derrick Blaylock could be inactive again this coming Sunday. ? Even though 49ers back Frank Gore (abdomen) is expected play against the Chiefs, Michael Robinson, who runs well inside, could start to steal goal-line carries from Gore on a regular basis.
Wide Receivers
Because of personal reasons, there is a chance Reggie Wayne could miss Sunday's game against the Jets. Brandon Stokley is battling an ankle problem, and the Colts might have to reach down on their depth chart and have other players step in at wide receiver for a week. Peyton Manning could involve his tight ends more in the passing game if Wayne sits out.
Aaron Moorehead would be in line to get the start if Wayne can't play, and he does know the Colts' system well and has made some big plays in the preseason in the past. But Moorehead, who had back surgery in the offseason, has caught only 17 regular season passes in his NFL career. He would strictly be a desperation option in any fantasy league.
Moorehead could get a few deep looks as a starter, but a Wayne absence could mean Manning would use tight ends Dallas Clark, Bryan Fletcher and Ben Utecht more in the passing game. Rookie RB Joseph Addai could also become busier as a pass-catcher. WR Patterns: With the Terrell Owens issues and Terry Glenn trying to play through a hand injury, Patrick Crayton could become a more important receiver for the Cowboys this week. ... Matt Jones (groin) was used mostly as a decoy last week, but he is expected to be in better health for Sunday's game against the Redskins.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 7 New Articles Added 9/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 7 New Articles Added 9/25/06)

September 27, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Decoy No. 25?


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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, some fantasy leaguers didn't think Reggie Bush would make a major impact this year. "He's just a rookie," the naysayers said. Some strong anti-Bush sentiments suggested he was the most overrated fantasy football player of the season. Many negative comments about Bush flowed into my e-mail box, and I saw many threads with similar views on several prominent fantasy football message boards.
After three games, Bush's numbers aren't great overall. Bush has scored only 23 points in ESPN.com leagues so far, a total that was bettered by three running backs in the third week alone. Yes, Bush's numbers have not been as good as I expected so far. I didn't expect him to blow up every week, but he still hasn't scored a touchdown. Bush is definitely not measuring up to standards in fantasy leagues so far. But that doesn't mean he's not an impact player, and that doesn't mean the trend of statistical mediocrity will continue.
While it isn't showing up in his fantasy numbers, Bush is already an impact player at the NFL level, and he's having a very positive effect on the rest of the New Orleans offense. It was obvious on Monday night that defensive coordinators fear Bush. Every time the Falcons thought he might have a chance to touch the ball, defenders converged in his direction. When Bush actually touched the ball, he drew a crowd, just as he had done in the first two games. Saints coach Sean Payton realizes that defenses already have a lot of respect for Bush, so he is getting the ball to other players who are generating less attention.
On no play was Bush's presence more important and obvious than a double reverse that led to an 11-yard TD run by wide receiver Devery Henderson in the first quarter. Bush, going left, drew three Atlanta linebackers to his side of the field, then handed the ball off to Henderson, who easily sprinted around the right side for the score. When Bush lined up as a receiver, the wideouts had a better chance of getting open. It all worked beautifully for the Saints, but the scheming still frustrated fantasy players overall. When Bush doesn't touch the ball, it gets spread around too much, and only WR Marques Colston (97 receiving yards on seven catches) had a somewhat impressive fantasy day, and that's only because most fantasy leaguers didn't know Colston's name a few months ago.
Drew Brees didn't throw a TD pass and Deuce McAllister didn't score. It's clear that the Saints are establishing a balanced attack that will frustrate fantasy leaguers, because you never know who might get the most catches, carries or scoring opportunities. But with Payton proving his team can beat you in different ways, Bush could start to draw less defensive attention by necessity, and better games should be ahead. The Falcons learned last night that corralling Reggie Bush isn't necessarily the way to contain the Saints. The Saints are 3-0 and upcoming opponents have more to worry about than Bush. Use the Week 2 win over Green Bay as another prime example. Two passing TDs for New Orleans, two rushing scores by McAllister and only 73 total yards for Bush. <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
Published reports first indicated Arizona rookie Matt Leinart was set to take over as the starter for veteran Kurt Warner, who has fumbled five times this season (losing two) while throwing four interceptions in the past two games. But Warner will indeed remain the starter for now. There have been rumors of a Warner hand injury, and fantasy owners might see this switch coming at some point, anyway. Warner has been an unfortunately regular injury risk in recent years, and he is often overrated when healthy based on past production and the talent level of his receivers. So how effective can Leinart be if he gets his chance to play? Leinart, who has been compared to Tom Brady, won't start putting up good numbers right away just because he has Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to work with. Certainly, the pair will help him keep defenses honest, and Leinart does have great poise and accuracy for a young QB. But he also has a shaky offensive line and Leinart isn't very mobile, and he could get sacked often if he holds onto the ball too long. Plus, there will now be more pressure on Edgerrin James to take pressure off Leinart, who does read defenses well, but has to prove he can play under constant pressure at the NFL level in real game situations. You can't bank on Leinart producing outstanding numbers just because of his supporting cast if he does play soon. No matter how good his WRs are, he first must show that inexperience won't be a deterrent.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks
15 carries, 18 yards, 0 TD

He has never carried the ball more than 71 times in a season, and has just one rushing TD in five pro campaigns. Yet Maurice Morris will be the hottest free-agent pickup in fantasy football this week. But don't suddenly expect him to become a surefire fantasy starter just because he replaces Shaun Alexander. Morris is a change-of-pace type RB who could struggle at times, whereas Alexander is ultra-talented and productive, Mike Holmgren adjusted his pass-first West Coast offense to feature Alexander more prominently. Morris is speedy, and can tear off a few good gains on occasion. But he's not much of an inside runner and he won't stack up outstanding numbers with an increased workload. Morris is a better receiver than Alexander, and his pass-catching skills could help him pad his totals to the point where they are respectable every week Alexander is out. But don't expect him to get regular goal-line touches. Those carries could go to fullback Mack Strong. The Seattle offensive line has also been dealing with injuries and has blocked better for the pass than the run recently. So for now, Morris should only be used as a starter if you are desperate for a plug-in, not over a more established RB who is playing at least at a respectable level.
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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 9/27/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 9/27/06)

Sep. 28, 2006, 2:39 PM
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Week 4: 10 things to watch


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, I provide a 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.
Ronnie Brown's workload. Thought I was going to bring up Daunte Culpepper here, didn't you? Sure, Culpepper's performance at Houston bears watching, but that's a cut-and-dry situation. If he capitalizes on the great matchup, like the Redskins' Mark Brunell did last week, then he's back to being a safe matchups play; if he doesn't, he earns a permanent spot on the "risky" fantasy pile. Of greater concern is Brown's performance, because Dolphins coach Nick Saban already has hinted that he wants to lighten his starter's workload, yet he went out and handed the second-year back 26 carries in Week 3. Brown, who hasn't scored since the season opener at Pittsburgh, in which he was a goal-line machine, really could use a standout effort in order to re-establish himself as the workhorse back that helped push him into the first round in most drafts this season. It's a fine matchup for him to snap his streak of nine consecutive games with double-digit carries in which he has failed to top 100 yards; he has averaged only 3.2 yards per carry in his past eight games overall. Long term, Brown's performance has an impact on Culpepper's fortunes, and vice versa, so this is an important game for them to both get back on track.
The Panthers' offense at full health. Steve Smith surprised the fantasy world with his healthy return to the Carolina lineup in Week 3, but one thing that didn't surprise me was that he stepped right back in as a standout receiver. (OK, he was so good, I was a bit surprised.) Ultimately, having Smith back at or close to full health makes the Carolina offense far, far deeper, and with him back, this should be the week Jake Delhomme and his teammates return to elite fantasy status. I'd say Sunday night is too late to buy-low on these guys, but at least we'll know by then how high this team's upside could be.
Kurt Warner's attempt to keep his job. Warner's going to rest comfortably on my bench facing a poor matchup in Atlanta on Sunday, but it's an important game for determining his long-term potential nonetheless. Rumors surrounding Matt Leinart overtaking Warner for his job were swirling all week, and Warner desperately needs to play smart football, avoiding costly turnovers and at least keeping the offense rolling even if his statistics aren't exciting. The numbers aren't important; it's how he plays that should be watched, because we're probably going to get our answer in the next two weeks whether "Warner 2006" is closer to "Warner 2005," who topped 300 passing yards five times, or "Warner 2004," who had lost his job to rookie Eli Manning by Week 11. For his receivers' sake, let's hope Warner winds up a lot closer to the former.
The Jets' running back-by-committee. Kevan Barlow is currently the "starter" for "Gang Green," but that hardly means he has that role locked down for the long haul. His eight games missed in five-plus seasons might not depict him as such, but Barlow is a bit brittle, meaning there should come a time when someone else has to step in and shoulder the load. Why not Leon Washington? He's speedy and elusive, and emerged with big-time sleeper potential with his seven-carry, 25-yard performance in Week 3. Washington should only continue to see his role in the offense expand, and with a strong next few weeks, he could wind up the starter and a nice late-season flex play. Keep an eye on him.
The 49ers' red-zone strategies. Now everyone's talking about Frank Gore's fumbling problems, now that he lost a fumble at the goal line in Week 3 that resulted in a 98-yard touchdown for the Eagles, a play that cost him a rib injury and four weeks of tight end Vernon Davis' season due to a broken bone in his leg. Gore is questionable for Sunday, but should probably play, yet it's anyone's guess whether San Francisco will ever trust him again in goal-line situations considering his health and troubles holding onto the ball. Michael Robinson, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound back, punched the ball into the end zone on 1-yard attempts in back-to-back possessions after Gore's fumble last week, bruising the Philadelphia defenders, and could continue to get looks in those situations to keep Gore fresh. A big week from Robinson in that area would be terrible news for Gore owners, so this is an important game for Gore to redeem himself.
The Cowboys' passing game without Terrell Owens. Though T.O. hasn't been officially ruled out -- or ruled in, for that matter -- of Sunday's great matchup against the Titans, I'm not counting on him playing. It'd be better for him to wait a week and ensure he's at full strength for the game in Philadelphia in Week 5, not that it's my call. Whatever Owens' status, the pressure will be on Drew Bledsoe and his receivers to step up their games, and really, Bledsoe, Terry Glenn and Jason Witten are clearly capable of getting the job done even without the No. 1 receiver in uniform. This is a good week for each of them to shine, demonstrating the underrated depth of the Dallas offense.
The Raiders facing their first favorable matchup. LaMont Jordan owners have been agonizing over his poor performance in the two games heading into the bye, but don't forget, those came against solid defenses in the Chargers and Ravens. Week 4 brings Jordan's and the entire Oakland offense's first game against a woeful defense, that of the Browns, and with a week to get themselves straight, the Raiders should look a lot better in this one. (OK, let's clarify that "a lot better" probably only means "respectable" in Oakland's case.) Andrew Walter gets the start at quarterback, and while he doesn't belong anywhere near a fantasy team, he's going to need to move the ball a lot more effectively than Aaron Brooks did to give guys like Jordan and Randy Moss any chance at consistent production. Another bad game here could put this team in the same class the Jets and Texans were in 2005, and you know how much of an impact those teams' woes had on the individual offensive players.
The Seahawks' offense without Shaun Alexander. For fantasy, the focus the past several days has been on Maurice Morris, thrust into a starting role due to Alexander's foot injury. But Morris might not do a thing for fantasy teams after all, as he's a guy to avoid at Chicago in Week 4, then Seattle has a bye in Week 5, then Alexander could be back as early as Week 6. Plus, the Seahawks lined up in four-receiver sets with regularity last Sunday, and they have one of the game's better quarterbacks in Matt Hasselbeck. In other words, while Alexander is out, this should be a pass-based offense, and there should, indeed, be enough throws to go around that Darrell Jackson, Deion Branch and perhaps even Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram could have some value. Don't be afraid of the receivers this week, and pay special attention to Branch, who's only getting more comfortable in Seattle.
Corey Dillon's health. The Patriots hate talking about their injured players, which is why Dillon's neck stinger gets little to no press. He's not on the injury report for Week 4, and he did participate in practice on Wednesday, but it's anyone's guess just how healthy he really is. Remember, besides his early departure from the Week 3 game against Denver, Dillon also was seen being tended to on the sidelines the week before. This is a 31-year-old running back with a shaky history in terms of health and a young, up-and-coming runner behind him on the depth chart. It's a longshot at best, but what if Laurence Maroney winds up this season's Larry Johnson, emerging as a high-upside midseason starter due to a Dillon long-term injury? (OK, let's call him "LJ lite," to be fair.) Donte' Stallworth's health. His absence in Week 3 was even more surprising than Steve Smith's presence, as Stallworth was probable for the Sunday afternoon game and then wound up a last-minute scratch. That might have been a smart move -- albeit a headache for fantasy -- as the Eagles clearly had enough depth on offense to play it safe with one of their most important receivers. "Headache" is the key word there, though, as Stallworth sure fit that description in his time in New Orleans, where he was wildly unpredictable and inconsistent from week to week. He's questionable for the Monday night game in Week 4, which makes him a shaky start, and as a result it's probably better for fantasy owners to reserve him and simply hope he can play and maintain his torrid early-season hot streak.
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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 9/27/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 9/27/06)

Sep. 28, 2006, 1:10 PM
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Cockcroft: Week 4 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: Broncos, Buccaneers, Giants, Steelers.
<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>Antonio Bryant, WR, 49ers (@KC): Among receivers with 5+ catches, he's 1st in yards per reception (23.4); he also ranks 5th in the league in receiving yards (281). He also has 21 catches for 404 yards and 2 TDs in his last four games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Reggie Bush, RB, Saints (@CAR): Though he's averaging 3.7 yards per carry and 11.3 rushing attempts per game, he's the game's most successful pass-catching RB so far, leading the position in receptions (19) while accumulating 264 scrimmage yards. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Warrick Dunn. RB, Falcons (ARI): He's 2nd in the league in rushing yards (310), which represents his best three-game total to begin a season. He also has 11 100-yard efforts and has averaged 93.9 rushing yards in his last 25 G (postseason incl.). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns (@OAK): He's coming off back-to-back 100-yard receiving efforts for the 1st time in his career, and is averaging 22.6 yards per catch. He also has 26 catches for 467 yards and 3 TDs in his last six regular-season games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Frank Gore, RB, 49ers (@KC): He's 3rd in the NFL in scrimmage yards (381) and is tied for the lead with 3 rushing TDs. He also has 521 rushing yards, 706 scrimmage yards, 5 TDs and a 4.5 yards-per-carry average in his last six games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Andre Johnson, WR, Texans (MIA): He led all receivers in receptions (11) and receiving yards (152) in Week 3, and is 3rd in the league in receptions (20) and receiving yards (207). He also has 74 receptions for 921 yards and 3 TDs in his last 12 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (GB): He leads the NFL in passing yards (960, 320.0 per game) and yards per pass (8.5). He also has 11 300-yard efforts, has averaged 269.2 passing yards with 58 TDs, 18 INTs in his last 29 G (postseason incl.). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Ravens defense (SD): Baltimore has allowed only 20 points combined, second-fewest in the NFL (Chargers, 7), and ranks second in total defense with 197.3 yards per game allowed (Chargers, 173.5). Baltimore is also 1st in interceptions (7). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>L.J. Smith, TE, Eagles (GB): He's second among tight ends in receptions (16) and third in receiving yards (186), has 1 TD, and has 55 receptions for 574 yards and 4 TDs in his last 11 games in which QB Donovan McNabb was the Eagles' starter. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings (@BUF): He leads the NFL in carries (75), and has averaged 91.7 rushing yards with 1 TD in three games. In his last 8 starts, he has 173 carries for 701 yards and 2 TDs, and 26 receptions for 165 yards. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles (GB): He leads the NFL with in scrimmage yards (420) and total TDs (5), has eight 100-yard scrimmage efforts in his last 10 starts, and has averaged 113.0 scrimmage yards with 8 total TDs in those 10 starts. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Kellen Winslow Jr., TE, Browns (@OAK): He leads all tight ends in both receptions (19) and receiving yards (197) and has one touchdown, after having finished the preseason with seven receptions for 59 yards in four games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Bush might not be offering his fantasy owners the numbers they expected as a runner, but he's catching enough passes to be as valuable as a No. 2 fantasy receiver. That's more than enough value to be a useful No. 2 RB or flex option in most weeks, even facing a matchup like the one in Carolina. ... With Reuben Droughns not 100 percent, the Browns will look to air it out in Oakland this week, making both Edwards and Winslow excellent fantasy starts. Even QB Charlie Frye, who has a rushing TD in each of his three games this season, is worth a bye-week fill-in look if you're thin at the position. ... Both Johnson and fellow WR Eric Moulds should be in for big games against the Dolphins' soft secondary. ... McNabb threw for a career-best 464 passing yards and tied a personal best with five touchdowns the last time he faced the Packers, last Dec. 5. He's shaping up as the No. 1 QB play in fantasy leagues for Week 4. ... I'm expecting a low-scoring affair between the Ravens and Chargers this Sunday, so while Baltimore made the hot list, San Diego's defense is also worth fantasy attention in most leagues. </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>Cedric Benson, RB, Bears (SEA): He has only 21 carries for 59 yards (2.8 average) with 0 TDs in 2 G this season, and was inactive in Week 3. For his NFL career, he now has 88 carries for 331 yards (3.8 average) and no TDs in 11 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Chris Brown, RB, Titans (DAL): He has averaged only 36.5 rushing yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry in 2 G this season. He has also gone 17 consecutive G with fewer than 100 rushing yards, averaging 54.4 yards per game during that span. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Kerry Collins, QB, Titans (DAL): He has completed only 46.7 percent of his pass attempts (42-for-90), and has averaged 183.0 passing yards per game with 1 TD. His 6 interceptions rank him 2nd in the league, and he has been sacked four times. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Kevin Curtis, WR, Rams (DET): He has only four receptions for 20 yards (5.0 average) and 0 TDs in 3 G, and has been targeted just eight times during that span. He also has only 14 receptions for 80 yards (5.7 average) and 0 TDs in his last 8 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns (@OAK): Among running backs with 20+ carries this season, he ranks third-worst with 2.4 yards per carry. He has also averaged 52.9 rushing yards per game and 3.0 yards per carry with 1 TD in his last 8 starts. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Eddie Kennison, WR, Chiefs (SF): He has only three receptions for 53 yards (17.7 average) and 0 TDs in 2 G, and has been targeted just seven times during that span. He also has only 15 receptions for 244 yards (16.3 average) and 0 TDs in his last 5 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Brandon Lloyd, WR, Redskins (JAC): He has only three receptions for 26 yards (8.7 average) and 0 TDs in 3 G, and has been targeted just 10 times during that span. He also has only 21 receptions for 212 yards (10.1 average) and 1 TD in his last 9 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Patriots defense (@CIN): New England has allowed 51 points combined in three games, and ranks 20th in the NFL in total defense (326.0 yards per game). The Patriots also have only one turnover (an interception), the fewest of any team with 3 G so far. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts (@NYJ): Though he has 2 TDs in 3 G, his 2.6 yards per carry average is fifth-worst among running backs with 20+ carries. He has also averaged only 3.1 yards per carry with 4 TDs in his last 10 G with at least 5+ carries. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Ben Troupe, TE, Titans (DAL): He has only three receptions for 64 yards (21.3 average) and 0 TDs in 3 G, and has been targeted just 13 times during that span. He also has been held without a catch in three of his last 10 games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals (@ATL): He has averaged a respectable 262.7 passing yards per game, completing 64.1 percent of his pass attempts for 5 TDs, but turnovers have been a problem. He has 4 interceptions and 8 fumbles (2 lost) in 3 G this season. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Roddy White, WR, Falcons (ARI): He has only two receptions for 23 yards (11.5 average) and 0 TDs in 3 G, and has been targeted just 10 times during that span. He also has only 10 receptions for 120 yards (12.0 average) and 1 TD in his last 6 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Big surprise, three Titans made the cold list. Tennessee's reeling offense might as well turn the reins over to rookie QB Vince Young, since he can't be much worse than Collins has been to date. Collins, Brown, Troupe and their teammates face a challenging matchup against Dallas on Sunday, one that should be at least as tough for them to rack up fantasy points as the Week 3 game against the Dolphins. ... I'd try to avoid any defense facing the Bengals, and this week, the Patriots draw the assignment. Cincinnati-New England has all the makings of a shootout. ... Curtis' stock has slipped as St. Louis has shifted its attention to the run this season. He might look like an appealing No. 3 or 4 fantasy WR based on the matchup, but WRs Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce will probably still get the majority of the passes thrown their way. Look to Bruce well before considering Curtis. ... Warner has a great track record in his career against the Falcons, winning all six of his starts and passing for three or more scores in five of those six games, but this game should bring that hot streak to an end. He has had nothing but trouble playing behind the shoddy Arizona offensive line this year and with rumors that QB Matt Leinart is getting close to overtaking him for his job, it's better to try to avoid him in Week 4. </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>Marc Bulger, QB, Rams (DET): He's 21-4 in his career as a starter at home, averaging 267.2 passing yards with 44 TDs and 21 interceptions. He has also averaged 267.3 passing yards with 18 TDs and 7 interceptions in his last 12 home G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Daunte Culpepper, QB, Dolphins (@HOU): He passed for 396 yards, 5 TDs and 0 interceptions in his only career start against the Texans (10/10/04). However, he has also averaged 228.2 passing yards with 16 TDs and 18 INT in his last 15 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Brett Favre, QB, Packers (@PHI): He's 5-2 with a 107.1 passer rating in 7 G on Monday Night Football since 2001, with 18 TDs and 4 interceptions in those contests. Favre also has 680 passing yards, 6 TDs and 1 interception in his last 3 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals (NE): He had 24 carries for 89 yards and two receptions for 25 yards in his only career game against the Patriots (12/12/04). He also has 117 carries for 592 yards (5.1 average) and 7 TDs in his last 5 home G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders (CLE): He rushed for a career-high 132 yards on 25 carries and had 5 catches for 40 yards in his only career start vs. the Browns (12/9/05). He also has 256 scrimmage yards in two career games against the Browns. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints (@CAR): He has 4 100-yard rushing efforts, 159 carries for 639 yards and 5 TDs and 17 receptions for 155 yards in 7 career starts vs. the Panthers. He has also scored 22 of his 36 career TDs on the road, in 34 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Willis McGahee, RB, Bills (MIN): He has 5 100-yard rushing efforts and has averaged 91.4 rushing yards per G and 4.3 yards per carry with 10 TDs in 8 career G vs. NFC foes. He also has 9 100-yard efforts with 11 TDs in his last 15 G at home. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Eric Moulds, WR, Texans (MIA): He went without a catch in his last game vs. the Dolphins (12/04/05), but had 5+ catches and 50+ receiving yards in each of 3 G against them before that. He also has 12 TDs in 21 career G vs. the Bills (postseason incl.) </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Chad Pennington, QB, Jets (IND): He had a maximum 158.3 passer rating in his last start vs. the Colts (11/16/03), with 219 passing yards and 3 TDs. He has 441 passing yards, 6 TDs and 0 interceptions in 2 career G vs. the Colts (postseason incl.). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Steve Smith, WR, Panthers (NO): He has 23 receptions for 323 yards and 3 TDs in his last 3 G vs. the Saints. He has also averaged 5.7 receptions and 78.5 receiving yards with 7 TDs in his last 14 home G, and 6.5-98.5-12 numbers in his last 17 G overall. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: I'm giving Culpepper one more week to prove himself as a useful matchups option, as it's quite the matchup for him in Houston. Remember, Washington's Mark Brunell strolled into Houston a week ago and set an NFL record by completing 22 consecutive pass attempts in a game, while finishing with 261 passing yards and a TD. At the time, Brunell hadn't done a thing to earn his fantasy owners' trust in nearly a full calendar year, which is very much the situation Culpepper is in now. ... Your decision on playing Favre should be based entirely on whether interceptions are penalized in your league's scoring system. I know he has a tremendous track record on Monday Night Football, but that Philadelphia defense could give him fits, leading to a potentially disastrous game in terms of interceptions. He could end up with 300-plus yards and three scores as he could finish with 200 yards, no TDs and three interceptions. Favre is a high-risk/high-reward player for Week 4. ... Play Jordan with confidence as your No. 2 RB. Oakland's giving QB Andrew Walter his first start, and shouldn't rely too much on the youngster as a result. Jordan should be the Raiders' offensive focus, and it's a fine matchup for him. </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): Seahawks at Bears (70 percent), Patriots at Bengals (40) and Packers at Eagles (40). Wind could also reach 15 mpg in Seahawks at Bears, which could have a mild impact on the game. </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): Dolphins at Texans could be in the low 80s. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Weatherproof games (safest playing conditions): Cardinals at Falcons (Georgia Dome), Dolphins at Texans (Reliant Stadium) and Lions at Rams (Edward Jones 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%">Since 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>Morten Andersen, Falcons (ARI): 90 G, 80.6 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.04 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Kris Brown, Texans (MIA): 25 G, 80.0 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 5.08 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jason Hanson, Lions (@STL): 119 G, 83.8 FGpct, 99.2 XPTpct, 6.79 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Olindo Mare, Dolphins (@HOU): 11 G, 82.4 FGpct, 95.2 XPTpct, 5.64 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Neil Rackers, Cardinals (@ATL): 13 G, 94.7 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 6.08 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jeff Wilkins, Rams (DET): 94 G, 83.5 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.59 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 5 New Articles Added 9/27/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 9/27/06)

Sep. 28, 2006, 3:33 PM
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Week 4: Engel's Mailbag


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Chris, Summit, N.J.: Even though I'm a full-fledged believer in the Madden jinx, I just could not pass on Shaun Alexander with my third overall pick this season. Now that he's hurt, I've been offered a deal. I would trade Carson Palmer and DeAngelo Williams for Tom Brady and Tiki Barber. My other quarterback is Marc Bulger, and my other running backs are Jamal Lewis, Willie Parker and Kevan Barlow. I'm thinking Palmer is an elite QB, the downfall of the Patriots begins this year, and Brady struggles without any true go-to receivers.
Engel: First, I would consider your scoring system. If you only get four points for a passing TD, it's not a huge downgrade from Palmer to Brady. Plus, Brady is such a good passer, that in many weeks, he will still post good numbers with what receivers he has. Some QBs don't need outstanding receivers to play well, and Brady is one of them. Deion Branch has missed time in the past with injuries, and David Givens was never dependable. So he has dealt with challenges at receiver before. In a league where passing TDs count for six points, though, I'd consider keeping Palmer more, but you still get a solid QB in return and a top-level RB. When Alexander returns, you can pair him with Barber and deal Brady and possibly Parker for an upgrade at QB if Brady does falter a bit. At the very least, I expect Brady to be respectable and he'll still have trade value down the line. I'd make the deal, because you end up with a great starting RB duo when Alexander returns, and Barber and Parker are a very formidable pair until then. You don't take a major hit at QB and can always use your RB depth to make a trade later on. <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER width="8" type="block" height="1"></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>

Jeff Nicholson, Seymour, Ind.: A team in my league offered me an injured Shaun Alexander for Kevin Jones. I have already picked up Maurice Morris off free agency. Should I make the deal for Alexander while Kevin Jones' stock is somewhat high?
Engel: Jones' stock is never high, even in a league of 14 teams or larger. But it's at a respectable level right now, and any time you can get Alexander, especially at such a bargain price, you have to go for it. Alexander's injury isn't a season-ending one, and you're looking at a major upgrade in quality when Alexander returns. I'm not crazy about Morris, but I don't think Jones will outperform him by much, if at all, while the two are both starting. I'd definitely make the deal, but maintain good depth at the RB position otherwise, because you could get into a situation soon where Alexander might be a game-time decision and you won't know whether to start him or Morris. Acquiring another option who isn't a Seahawk RB is a good move in case you are not sure which one to start at some point.
Donny, San Mateo, Calif.: I have multiple players, including Tiki Barber and Plaxico Burress, on a bye. Which two do I start: from Frank Gore, Julius Jones and Laurence Maroney? I am leaning towards Gore and Jones due to the matchups, but with the way Willie Parker shredded Cincinnati's run defense, I am not so sure. Also, what are your thoughts on Reggie Williams?
Engel: I do like Jones this week, but you are very observant to note the tendencies of Cincinnati's defense. While the front seven is aggressive and the unit as a whole makes many big plays, there are also many times when the defenders overpursue or take questionable angles and miss tackles. Many RBs, especially speedier ones, are good starts against the Bengals. Maroney is a good combination of vision, quickness and strength who should present a lot of problems for the Bengals. Corey Dillon will no doubt be primed to face his former team, and some of that intensity should rub off on Maroney. So I would start Maroney over Jones. While Gore has an abdomen issue, he is expected to play and he's simply been better than Jones overall so far, even with his fumbling issues. I'd pencil in Gore and Maroney for now, but keep Jones ready in case Gore is downgraded. As for Williams, I think he is more reliable this year and is dropping the ball less and handling big hits better than he has done in the past. He's a good matchup-type starter right now, and I'd consider starting him against a vulnerable Washington secondary this week. Of course, that also depends on who your other options are, as Williams shouldn't be used over more established, higher-ranked wide receivers yet. I wouldn't use him over, say Darrell Jackson or Donald Driver.
Javier, Lodi, Calif.: I'm thinking about grabbing Eric Johnson off free agency. Should I drop Benjamin Watson, or Randy McMichael to get him? Both have been disappointing so far.
Engel: In the past, I have advised against carrying two tight ends, because many times you could just stick with one and pick up another just for one-week bye use. But even some of the best, such as McMichael, and guys with predicted upside like Watson and Ben Troupe haven't been dependable. So carrying two to play the matchups isn't a bad idea. But no tight end is going to give you outstanding production regularly, and Johnson is no exception. He's a good add, but Watson should still have a few good outings ahead, and I believe McMichael should improve. Johnson is not an upgrade over who you have right now, especially with only one good week of stats so far this year. I'd stick with who you have, but Johnson is a good add for other owners who don't have a Watson type or only have McMichael and need an alternative without dropping him outright.
Bill, Hartford, Conn.: I have Brian Westbrook and was thrilled by his monster day last week. However, I am very worried about his injury history. Which running backs could I go after in a one-for-one trade, or do you think I should hold onto him? Some of the RBs I would consider would be Tiki Barber, Warrick Dunn, Rudi Johnson, Larry Johnson or Willie Parker.
Engel: I think you should stop being overly concerned about Westbrook when he has proven two weeks in a row that being listed as questionable doesn't mean the same thing for him that it does for other players. For further peace of mind, just do whatever it takes to make sure you have Correll Buckhalter on your roster as insurance. Some other owners might have the same concerns as you, and it would be difficult to get Barber, Rudi or Larry Johnson in a straight-up trade. That deal helps only you and you would at least have to throw in another decent player to get another owner to consider it. Dunn is a bit of a downgrade and Parker's value is high right now. He also might be difficult to acquire in a one-for-one and he should be less consistent than Westbrook if Westbrook continues to play regularly.
Paul Grahn, Santa Rosa, Calif.: I have Donovan McNabb as my QB and L.J. Smith and Chris Cooley as my TEs. I am surprised at Smith's performances, but think that Cooley should start producing soon. When should make the switch to Cooley, if I should at all? Engel: I'm not surprised at all by what a healthy Smith can do, as he does have the pure talent to be one of the best tight ends in fantasy football. He has continued to improve, as he is becoming more of a frequent regular target, whereas he just seemed to be a goal-line guy and occasional target on key downs earlier in his career. Cooley is good to keep on your roster in case his production does improve, but he certainly hasn't earned the right to start over Smith this season. It will take a slump by Smith and more than one good performance in consecutive games from Cooley to recommend a switch
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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 9/27/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 9/27/06)

Thursday, September 28, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Injury Decisions


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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 -->Every Wednesday, many fantasy players start sweating. And they don't stop until sometime on Sunday, or even the following Tuesday, as they often second-guess their decisions. The worries always begin when the NFL's official injury report is released to the public.
If one of your top players is listed as doubtful, he has only a 25 percent chance of playing, so you know you shouldn't use him. Most players who are listed as probable are safe starts, as they officially have a 75 percent chance of playing, even though in many cases it's even better than that. If a guy is listed as probable, there is no real reason to consider benching him.
But what about those guys who are listed as questionable (50 percent chance of playing) or game-time decisions? Those are the ones who drive us crazy until game time on Sunday. Should we start them, and risk getting little or no production at all? Or could our bold move actually reap some rewards? Owners who took the gamble and started Steve Smith, Brian Westbrook or Ahman Green last week are looking smart right now. But I'll venture to say that in most instances, I wouldn't have started any of those guys. When players like that perform well, it simply validates that they should be fine to use the following week. As long as I have a solid backup, I'm not going to risk my fantasy game on a player who could miss a game or give me limited production.
Westbrook might be the one major exception to the rule, because he has clearly proved he can play at a high level while working through his current injury concerns. But when you are in doubt, you should always play the healthy player over the injured guy who is listed as questionable or could be a game-time decision. When you start the healthy player, especially if the two you are deciding between are close in value, you'll have complete peace of mind that there is no risk of your starting choice producing poor totals, sitting out for a good portion of the game, or at worst, sitting on the sidelines and giving you a complete zero. If your injury concern does play and fares well, don't kick yourself. You can just start him with added confidence the following week, and after a good performance, the player shouldn't be as much of a risk the following week.
This week, Reuben Droughns and Donte' Stallworth are among the players listed as questionable, and I'm not going to use either of them unless I'm absolutely desperate or if they are upgraded before game time. I'd rather use another player of equal or lesser value, such as Julius Jones or Bernard Berrian.
This is my decision-making process on players who are questionable and have a clear chance of missing a game. Of course, not everything in fantasy football is absolute, and there are a few exceptions. Each player is an individual case. But when in doubt, always go with the healthy guy. <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
Another issue that often comes into play when dealing with injured players is whether to start their immediate backup or not. Last week, Correll Buckhalter and Vernand Morency were popular pickups when fantasy players were thinking Westbrook or Green might sit out. Again, whether to use the player in question depends on the individual situation. But I always go the conservative route, because unless I know a player is going to start for sure or will get a healthy amount of carries, I'm not going to use him. You might have added 49ers running back Michael Robinson this week, because Frank Gore has an abdomen injury, and could also lose goal-line carries to Robinson, who scored twice on short runs last week. But I'm not about to start Robinson over a more proven player just because Gore is listed as questionable. Most reports have indicated Gore will play this week against the Chiefs, and Robinson has to show me a lot more before I start him over say, Kevin Jones or Fred Taylor, who will very likely get more touches than Robinson. When dealing with injury-related decisions or making a tough call at a flex position, I always go with the player whom I expect to get more touches. I'd always take Kevin Jones over Lee Evans at a flex position because Jones will likely get more touches. It often makes sense to pick up the backup of a player who is a risk to possibly miss a game during the upcoming week. But you shouldn't actually use that player unless it's clear he is going to get a healthy workload. If you gambled with Buckhalter or Morency last week, it turned out to be a bad move. And adding wide receivers who get pushed into a starting role because of an injury can be a good move, but wait until they actually show something before you start them. Many of us, including myself, picked up Drew Carter when Steve Smith was out. I thought Carter had some upside, but it became apparent he only fits well on the Panthers as a third receiver, and he can't produce good fantasy numbers in an expanded role. Many players, especially at receiver, don't perform well just because they are given a chance to play more regularly.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Antonio Bryant, WR, 49ers
Four receptions, 26 yards, 0 TD

After a hot start, Bryant came crashing back to earth last week against the Eagles. His disappointing performance was a bit surprising when you consider that Philadelphia's secondary was depleted by injuries. Bryant has always wanted an opportunity to be a No. 1 wide receiver, and now he has his chance to fulfill that hope with the 49ers, which remain thin on talent at the wide receiver position. Bryant gets upset when he doesn't get the ball, and there could be more frustration in his future. After he had two 100-yard games to open the season, opposing defenses are now much more wary of Bryant and he's going to draw more defensive attention. With Vernon Davis injured, and Arnaz Battle and Bryan Gilmore not major threats at the other wide receiver spots, tight end Eric Johnson is a good pass-catcher, but no gamebreaker. The Niners have proved they can pass the ball effectively, with Bryant as the featured target. Bryant's performance against Kansas City this week could be very telling. Even though the Chiefs look like a friendly matchup on paper, Bryant is going to suddenly look like a much less viable fantasy starter if he doesn't rebound with a good outing.
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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>Jon Kitna, QB, Lions: Don't let one good statistical outing against a bad Packers defense fool you.</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>342</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>18</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>Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: No TDs in first three games. Time to trade for him.</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>24</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>62</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>59</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</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: Facing a former team (TB) is often a motivational tool for some players.</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>Will Heller, TE, Seahawks: Scored vs. NYG, but who didn't? Not worth adding.</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>28</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>8</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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


Trainer's Room
? There were some rumblings that Shaun Alexander was going to try to play this week against the Bears, but tests showed there is still a crack in his foot. Maurice Morris will start as expected on Sunday night, and there are still no indications Alexander will return in the short term.
? Jets WR Laveranues Coles (calf) missed practice on Wednesday and is listed as questionable. Coles was able to play through the injury at Buffalo this past Sunday.
? Titans RB Chris Brown (toe) says he is ready to play this week, according to the Nashville Tennessean. But Brown is certainly a risky play, as are Travis Henry and LenDale White, who should only be used if you are desperate.
? Todd Heap (ankle) is again listed as questionable. He reportedly missed some practice on Wednesday, so it appears too early to panic, especially when he was able to play last week.
? Keenan McCardell (hamstring) is listed as questionable. He missed practice on Tuesday, but Marty Schottenheimer told the San Diego Union-Tribune that McCardell could have played if it was game day. ? Wednesday Box | Tuesday 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 9/28/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/28/06)

Week 4 Game by game


posted: Friday, September 29, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


Is Rex Grossman 16 fantasy points better than Carson Palmer? What about Chad Pennington outscoring Tom Brady by 17 after three weeks? At running back you've got Frank Gore with twice as many points as Reggie Bush, and Ladell Betts doubling up Carnell Williams.

They're just numbers, and it's only three weeks, but since you've asked quite a bit lately, and I want to know as well, here are the leaders by position for the first few games. How to deal with these numbers, if you do at all, is the big question. Let's just say, I wouldn't overreact.
Quarterbacks:
Donovan McNabb, Eagles, 68 points
Peyton Manning, Colts, 59
Rex Grossman, Bears, 54
Eli Manning, Giants, 54
Brett Favre, Packers, 52
Chad Pennington, Jets, 51
Michael Vick, Falcons, 50
Alex Smith, 49ers, 46
David Carr, Texans, 45
Jon Kitna, Lions, 44
Charlie Frye, Browns, 44
Notice anything here? Yeah, I sure do! There are 11 quarterbacks above, and literally seven of them were not held in high esteem by fantasy owners on draft day. Where is the Patriot guy with all the Super Bowl rings? Donde esta the guy who just threw five touchdown passes and yearns to return to the big game? Anyone named Jake?
They're not there. Your job as a fantasy owner is to decide if your backup quarterbacks, people like Grossman and Frye, for example, are smarter fantasy plays than the guy you spent the third round pick on, like Matt Hasselbeck and Marc Bulger. And judging by this above top 10 (really, 11), I'd say most fantasy owners are dealing with this quandary.
Only, it's not just at quarterback. Look at running backs, where at least there are more familiar names at the top, but a few big names are absent.
Running backs:
Brian Westbrook, Eagles, 69 points
Frank Gore, 49ers, 48
Rudi Johnson, Bengals, 46
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, 44
Willie Parker, Steelers, 40
Ronnie Brown, Dolphins, 40
Edgerrin James, Colts, 38
Chester Taylor, Vikings, 38
Clinton Portis, Redskins, 37
Steven Jackson, Rams, 36
What's the difference in some of those first-round running backs and ones you stole later? Not all that much. Note that there's no sign of consensus top picks Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson. Be patient. Johnson's doing just fine, and by this time next week there shouldn't be questions about him. Alexander certainly has a chance to play in Week 6. And you thought he didn't have a prayer?
(Of course, many scoring formats are different, and this doesn't take into account having one really big game and one a zero, making you 1-1. But you get the point. Incidentally, if you want to check the leaders yourself, go to your ESPN.com fantasy football team, click on a position, and instead of looking at only the free agents, click all. There they are!)
A lot of people e-mail me and ask why wasn't Parker or Gore or Taylor considered first-round picks. Well, I suppose some people might have regarded them that way, but nobody I knew. If you try to tell me you knew LaMont Jordan or Carnell Williams would be this bad, you're fooling nobody. Some things are just unexpected. Plus, let's not stick a fork in them yet.
Before we get to the games, an e-mail about this topic:
From Neil in New York City: "Eric, I appreciate your FF advice and read you regularly, however I must take issue with your analysis of relative value concerning a draft in your blog entry (Wednesday). I think the fact that you participate in so many leagues de-emphasizes the need to draft a good team as opposed to a smart team. I agree that LaMont Jordan had perceived first round value this season, but as someone who, as a rule, only participates in one league a season, perceived value was not enough to dictate a draft choice. Like in real football, the teams that win championships do so because they draft well; not because they draft smart. Every year there are good and bad picks in every round and at every value; this year Jordan was seemingly a bad pick and this was not hard to see coming. Frank Gore in the first round? If he wasn't going to be there the next time around, go for it. Let someone else steal Jordan. When you only participate in one league, you need to take the guys that will score the most points, not the ones that the magazines recommend."
Now back to me. This is an interesting e-mail and one that represents what I've seen in some other forms as well. But the bottom line is whether you have one fantasy team or 10, you want the best players for your team, scoring system, whatever, and you want the best and smartest value. Frankly, I don't see the difference. This e-mail implies that someone with multiple teams would take bad players because experts told them to. It's easy today to say Jordan was a bad pick, but he wasn't. I'm not going to say I thought he'd be bad. Maybe Neil thought it all along, who knows. Jordan finished No. 7 among all running backs last season in fantasy. He's not old. Doesn't have too many miles on the tires. And Aaron Brooks shouldn't have been a significant downgrade over Kerry Collins to affect Jordan's stats. Jordan rushed for 1,025 yards and nine scores in only 14 games, and no running back had more receptions. How he has no catches at this point is a mystery. Jordan wasn't a sleeper or a bust back in August, he was supposedly safe. There is no perceived first round value. It was legit. But if you wanted to draft Gore in round one, I had no problem with that. The reason you wouldn't have was because you could get him later, which is what value is all about. And that doesn't change, no matter how many teams one has.
And, in my opinion, Jordan will begin to start showing that first round value this week in a nice matchup.
Notables on bye this week: Tiki Barber and all his Giant friends get a week to heal, which they need. I'd look to acquire these guys. Tatum Bell is clearly Denver's No. 1 back, so the bye comes at a bad time. Carnell Williams really needs the week off to heal, and meet his new QB. And Willie Parker might need another bye week in two months, but he gets to rest now.

Falcons 30, Cardinals 16: I like the fantasy owners who e-mailed us Tuesday morning about Michael Vick going back to his old ways as a bad fantasy player. That's the definition of being too reactive. Vick is the same guy, but sometimes his schtick just isn't going to work, like in a Monday night game with the world rooting for the home team, and emotions sky high. Vick comes back strong against a far different defense, with emotions not nearly the same. Arizona just about flipped the switch to go with Matt Leinart. One could presume Kurt Warner will raise his game knowing every dropped fumble could be his last, but really, he wasn't playing badly.
Atlanta should roll, and Warrick Dunn will have a big game along with Vick.
For the Cardinals, Warner is not a recommended play. Edgerrin James and the receivers are.
Worthy plays: Vick, Dunn, James, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin
Not worth it: Warner, Leinart, Atlanta WRs
Bills 21, Vikings 17: Tough home losses for each team last week, and the obvious pick here would be Minnesota, because it appears to be a better team. So I'll take the home team, a little more desperate for a win, and really, I think, ready to blast off offensively. J.P. Losman has been moving the Bills. Lee Evans is close to being a guy you expect to make a big play each week. And Willis McGahee just ran for 150 yards. No, he hasn't scored yet. He will. Owners of McGahee and Evans would play their guys anyway, and Losman owners would not, but I expect Losman to become a worthy play by the end of the season.
For the Vikings, it's all about Chester Taylor. He's always going to be worth playing. Just don't get hurt on your way to those 350 carries, fella.
Worthy plays: McGahee, Evans, Losman, Taylor
Not worth it: Brad Johnson, Troy Williamson
Cowboys 28, Titans 10: Yeah, it's been a crazy week in Dallas this week. Some could view this as a bad thing for Sunday's game, that the team might have been distracted. Well, doesn't distraction come with the territory? Dallas has more talent. Drew Bledsoe and his receivers should have fun. I know Daunte Culpepper and his friends didn't. Bledsoe is better right now.
And one of Drew's friends is Terrell Owens. If he plays, and you might not know this until Sunday morning, I play him. Always play him when he's active. You don't think he has something to prove?
So what if the Vince Young era is starting any week now. I think Kerry Collins wants to play well, but he hasn't. And he won't here.
Worthy plays: All Cowboys, including Terry Glenn and Jason Witten
Not worth it: All Titans

Chiefs 31, 49ers 20: I don't think Trent Green is getting Wally Pipped here by Damon Huard, but I do think if you're in the deep league, or one with two active quarterbacks, you can do worse than play Huard. It was clear the Chiefs put him in situations to succeed, with short, safe passes, and he did fine. Why do we assume Huard is just out of college. He's been in the league. Tony Gonzalez is a fine play (I never would remove him anyway) and Larry Johnson is going to be a monster this week, and quiet his critics. On TV this week I was asked about Johnson being ranked 18th in rushing yards. Um, one off week, one bye week, I'd call that misleading, no?
I've been all over the Eric Johnson signing this week. Don't forget, he had 82 receptions two seasons ago, and Vernon Davis is out a month or more. Alex Smith isn't a terrific play, but he should get some numbers. Frank Gore is a definite play. I know he might lose the goal line carries, but I think it's premature to assume it. I would not play Michael Robinson, unless Gore is out.
Worthy plays: All Chiefs, Gore, E.Johnson, Antonio Bryant
Not worth it: Smith
Colts 38, Jets 14: Sorry, Jets fans, but I can't see this going well. Peyton Manning is always a play, as are his wide receivers. As of now we don't know for sure that Reggie Wayne will suit up, but if he does, play him. And I'd use Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai as flex options. The Colts will move the ball early and often.
I'd probably sit all Jets this week, except Laveranues Coles. Remember, the Colts have a pretty good defense, too. It's true David Carr did some nice things in his blowout loss, so maybe Chad Pennington can match it, but don't bet on it. Avoid the Jets running backs if you can. Maybe Leon Washington and/or Cedric Houston can do something special and push Kevan Barlow to the bench, but it's unlikely any Jets back has success vs. Indy.
Worthy plays: All Colts, Coles
Not worth it: All other Jets
Panthers 26, Saints 10: Letdown game for the road team coming off the big Monday night win. The Saints aren't as bad as last season's 3-13 team, but are they as good as other undefeated squads? The Panthers are a different team with Steve Smith around. I think DeShaun Foster, Jake Delhomme and Smith are mighty fine plays. Those who had Keyshawn Johnson on the bench last week couldn't have known what was about to happen, that he'd rush for a touchdown and catch one. Don't assume he's a terrific play this week. Depends if you would normally go with him.
Lots of discussion this week about how disappointing Reggie Bush has been, but I think his biggest value to the Saints has been as a decoy. Look how Atlanta prepared to stop him. It opened things up for others. But other than Bush, who one of these weeks is going to score and break some big plays, and Deuce McAllister, always a decent play, I'd try to avoid the Saints this week.
Worthy plays: Delhomme, Foster, Smith, K.Johnson, Bush, McAllister
Not worth it: Drew Brees, Saints WRs
Chargers 19, Ravens 13: Nate Kaeding is going to have a big game. I know, I know, why project a kicker as having stats, one can never tell. The Ravens obviously have a good defense, good enough to hold teams down. The Chargers haven't been tested at all, on either side of the ball. I think Philip Rivers can move the team, but ultimately his first test won't result in huge stats.
Baltimore managed one touchdown against the Browns. Jamal Lewis did OK with the yards, but what if he's just this season's Reuben Droughns? I mean, he gives you 70 or so yards each week, should get up to 1,200 or so, but is he going to have any big games, score touchdowns? I can't say I think he will. Your best Raven this year might be Matt Stover.
Worthy plays: LaDainian Tomlinson, J.Lewis, Antonio Gates, Todd Heap, the kickers
Not worth it: Rivers, Steve McNair, WRs other than Derrick Mason.
Texans 24, Dolphins 16: Look, I know I've been saying all week that Daunte Culpepper gets one more chance to prove himself to fantasy owners, but I'm thinking that if push came to shove, and I owned him and had other options, I couldn't do it. Even against Houston. Ultimately it's a decision you've got to make. I don't expect we'll all of a sudden see good stats from him this week. But Ronnie Brown should go off.
I think I might play David Carr and Andre Johnson. One of these weeks the Texans will really move the ball, why not now against a struggling team? I even told someone this week to play Ron Dayne at flex, but their other options were so underwhelming, I felt OK about it. Dayne could rush for 70 yards. Maybe Sam Gado isn't about to get most of the carries after all.
Worthy plays: Brown, Dayne, Carr, A.Johnson
Not worth it: Culpepper. Really.
Rams 27, Lions 21: I'm all for revenge games, but Mike Martz going back to St. Louis doesn't seem the same as say, when Edge goes to Indy or T.O. is in Philly. Martz did get the Lions offense moving last week, and Jon Kitna should do alright. But the Rams have more talent.
I'd actually play most of the offensive weapons on this game. Both running backs should be good. Stop hating on Kevin Jones. He hasn't been that bad, maybe we just have high expectations. Too high.
Worthy plays: Both QBs, RBs, Roy Williams, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce
Not worth it: Nobody
Bengals 34, Patriots 30: There's been plenty of Tom Brady bashing this week, about how he has no wide receivers, how he doesn't look like himself, etc. I do think there's something to both points, but it's not like Brady can't overcome it. I'll take the Bengals to win a close one, because I think this might be the best team in the AFC. But Brady gets his numbers.
There are two relative timeshares here that fantasy owners have been debating for awhile. With the Cincy receivers, I think all three can coexist. Chris Henry is very talented, and you saw what T.J. Houshmandzadeh did. Chad Johnson has nothing to worry about. And in New England, I don't know if either Corey Dillon or Laurence Maroney are going to succeed this week, or in most weeks. Dillon would love to come back to Cincy and play well, but is he 100 percent healthy? Can New England's line help him? Be careful.
Worthy plays: All Bengals, Brady
Not worth it: Patriots RBs, WRs
Raiders 24, Browns 23: I'd like to give the Browns a win, since they probably deserved it against the Ravens last week. Charlie Frye is better than people think, in real life and fantasy, and he definitely has weapons to throw to. Braylon Edwards is legit, so is Kellen Winslow. Reuben Droughns is hurt, I'm told similarly to what Clinton Portis is dealing with. But Droughns hasn't been able to overcome it yet, and he's not on a playoff caliber team.
Would I play LaMont Jordan under any circumstances this week? Nope, it depends what my other options are. But I do think he has a big game. Same with Randy Moss. Andrew Walter might be no Aaron Brooks, which is a good thing. Let's give him a game or two before we judge too harshly. And I'll say the same next week about Bruce Gradkowski. By the way, people who need to know, the first K in his last name is silent!
Worthy plays: Frye, Edwards, Winslow, Jordan, Moss
Not worth it: Walter, Droughns
Jaguars 17, Redskins 14: Jacksonville is a better team than Washington, that's the main thing. That doesn't always result in a win, especially on the road. Both teams have fine defenses, I'm going to take Byron Leftwich to get the win over Mark Brunell.
As for fantasy options, I don't see many here. Clinton Portis is a play, of course, and some people might go with Fred Taylor, which is fine. Maurice Jones-Drew put up the numbers vs. Indy, but I think it's partly an aberration.
Worthy plays: Portis, Taylor
Not worth it: QBs, WRs
Seahawks 24, Bears 22: I know Shaun Alexander is out, at least I think he is. Who knows what changes in the next 48 hours. I know Maurice Morris is ready to play, and he was fantasy's top free agent addition this week. I know Matt Hasselbeck just threw five touchdown passes, and to me, with his weapons, that's the most important thing. Seattle can move the ball on this team. The fantasy question is, of the four wide receivers on the Seahawks, whom do you go with?
Certainly Darrell Jackson is terrific. Deion Branch starts, but I don't think he's a great play. Big difference in Jackson and the other Seattle WRs right now.
Rex Grossman is fine, a decent stopgap quarterback in fantasy. Like a Ben Roethlisberger, Rex will probably win a lot of games, but not necessarily fantasy games. Play him sometimes. In this game, depends who else you have. Not a top 10 option.
Thomas Jones is going to run well this week. I just feel it.
Worthy plays: Hasselbeck, D.Jackson, T.Jones, Muhsin Muhammad
Not worth it: Alexander, Morris, other Seattle WRs, Grossman, Cedric Benson
Eagles 27, Packers 20: Not an easy game, even though Brett Favre seems to be all or nothing over the last calendar year. I don't think he's a good play in Philly, even though the Eagles are clearly banged up in the secondary. The Eagles are just better.
Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook are the best players in fantasy at their positions. Never sit them. Donte' Stallworth is no lock to play, or play well, but if you find he is going to play, use him. Our own Will Carroll makes a good point about Stallworth, listed as questionable: try to have a Packers WR on your bench in case you need to remove Stallworth at the last minute.
Play Favre? I'd try not to. Play Ahman Green? I'd try not to.
Worthy plays: McNabb, Westbrook, Stallworth, Donald Driver
Not worth it: Favre, Green OK, that's a lot. Good luck this weekend and remember our coverage Sunday morning, starting with the Fantasy Focus live on ESPN Radio from 7-9 a.m. ET.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/28/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/28/06)

Sep. 29, 2006, 4:25 PM
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Carroll: Outlook for Alexander, Owens


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By Will Carroll
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Forgive me if I'm a bit bleary-eyed. Storms around the D.C. area made for one bumpy flight and a long night of travel with "Fantasy Show" pals Danni Boatwright and Matthew Berry. Look, if you're going to get stuck traveling, getting stuck with a millionaire supermodel is the best way to do it (and Matthew has his good qualities, too), but it doesn't make for an easy day. Looking around the league this week, there's more and more interesting situations, players who are limited but could play, putting you in danger of the "playing zero" or those who are listed as probable and might end up out as game-time decisions, the dreaded "starting zero." The crystal ball is still cloudy, but good information helps clear the fog some, so as my stage manager Cara often says, stand by! Let's get to it:
There's no "good break," but in a worst-case scenario, breaking the fourth metatarsal is a best-case result. It's a weight-baring bone, but doesn't take the lateral stress or contribute to the burst that Shaun Alexander blows by defenders with. It's painful and he's unlikely to play this week, despite Alexander's spiritual quick fix, but it's not that bad in the long term. The CT scan that found the fracture actually found the "march fracture" to be healing. The body is stitching the bone back together, something that takes three to five weeks to fully fuse, according to Dr. Philip Kwong of Kerlan-Jobe, one of the top foot docs in the world. Dr. Kwong expects that Alexander would use a bone stimulator to speed the healing of this simple break, meaning that with the bye week coming up, Alexander could miss only this week's game.
Ignore the drama if you can and focus on what we know and can see. Cowboys sources have notably clammed up in the wake of Terrell Owens' latest escapades, but video of him practicing shows that the titanium plate isn't keeping him from catching the ball with his hands. As noted last time, Owens has long been criticized for catching "with his body," something that's actually an advantage in this situation. Owens could be motivated to prove something this week and a weak Titans defense could give him ample opportunity to do it. There's no real indication from the Cowboys staff whether T.O. will be in or out, but there are few physical signs that he can't be used in at least a limited role. Right now, my gut feeling is that Owens will play and that will affect Terry Glenn and Patrick Crayton, as well as the running game.
Like many of you, I took a surprise "zero" from Donte' Stallworth last week, so you can bet I'm watching him closely. He'll be a game-time decision again after an MRI showed a Grade 1 hamstring strain. For a guy that used to be called the "human hamstring pull," this is a positive. He'll be a very late game-time decision again this week and even then, he's likely to be limited some by the injury. Don't expect another 20-point outburst this week, though I wouldn't be surprised to see anything in what is sure to be a high-scoring game this Monday. One fantasy play to think about if it's open to you is grabbing Greg Jennings or Robert Ferguson to back up Stallworth. They'll still be able to be slotted in for most leagues since they'll also play Monday night; call it "schedule handcuffing."
Why do I recommend Packers receivers? They'll face a banged-up Eagles secondary. When I say "banged-up," I mean everyone, not just the corners, not just the safeties, but even the nickels and backups are hurting. Most are in the questionable or probable grouping, but I'm sure Brett Favre is going to be testing these guys to see if any of them are limited by injury. Knowing the matchups is one of the biggest differences between winning in fantasy football and trying to figure out why you're not in the playoffs, again.
No one loves the big guys. You won't see offensive linemen on your fantasy team, but if you're going to win, you have to keep your eye on them. While most people watching the Chiefs are worried about Trent Green's return (it's being cited as at least two weeks away, but expect it to go until at least Week 8) or Damon Huard's ability, or wondering if Larry Johnson will live up to being a No. 1 overall pick, they're not noticing that Kyle Turley looks to be out this week. Turley replaced Willie Roaf, making Jordan Black the de facto third stringer and backside protector for Huard. Yes, that's usually a recipe for disaster. With a simplified playbook, my guess is that the conservative Chiefs offense will get more conservative, using Larry Johnson as a battering ram. Around the league, one of the biggest reasons why running backs are having problems is injuries to the line. Watch them as much as you watch your runners.
The NFL seems to be going through a cyclical change, understanding that the 370-carry barrier popularized by Pro Football Prospectus is something that should be watched (right, Shaun Alexander?). Instead of feature backs that put up huge numbers and do everything, there's a slow but steady shift back to specialist backs who can share the load and often have different primary skills. Those backs that go old school, getting all the yards, goal-line touches, and even pass receptions, are becoming fewer and further between. Reuben Droughns was thought to be one, more out of lack of depth than any great skill, but his shoulder could undo that plan. Droughns hung out of last week's game, held out by the coaches, and has the type of shoulder injury that can cost a guy those tough, bruising runs and goal-line power. While he'll likely play, watch to see if Romeo Crennel is using him in the same way that you expected when you drafted him.
Last time Mark Brunell had a cut like this on his elbow, he ended up losing his Jaguars job. You can understand then why he's taking this so seriously. Three stitches aren't much, but it is annoying and a vector for infection. It's also certainly something that could be reopened in the midst of playing football. While the injury shouldn't affect Brunell's actual throwing, it could affect how he calls plays and plays them out. After his record-breaking performance in last week's game, there's little reason to believe he won't be effective this week, even against a much, much tougher defense.
Kickers are a tough lot to worry about. Usually, it's will they or won't they. Either they can get the job done or they fade away, the closers of the football world. Few are worth agonizing over, but Adam Vinatieri might be one of them. Kicking in a dome for a high-scoring team in addition to his noted "clutch" skills (don't get me started), Vinatieri will give it a go on Friday afternoon, but Martin Gramatica is expected to be retained, if only for kickoffs. Vinatieri didn't do anything at practice so far this week to give any indication that he could or could not kick, so everything will come down to Friday's kicking session and maybe longer. It wouldn't surprise me if Tony Dungy made Vinatieri prove himself again on Sunday morning.
Matt Jones played last week, but mostly functioned as a decoy. The big receiver posed big matchup problems for the Colts' DBs, but the groin strain and the Jags' second-half confusion kept him from being a red zone factor as I'd expected. Jones hasn't been as limited by the groin this week in practice, though he is still feeling it according to published reports. Once again, I'd expect that Jones will still be a force near the end zone, where his height is such an advantage. Don't expect much downfield action for the big guy, however. For the many of you that asked, no, I don't know of any injury to Fred Taylor.
The Tennessee back situation is complex now and likely to stay that way. If you think one back will emerge as a worthwhile fantasy option, you're becoming a smaller minority. Chris Brown is expected back this week after missing a game with turf toe, though he's not being asked to take the majority of carries. Travis Henry and LenDale White will also be in the mix. So far, none is healthy or productive enough to seize the role and team sources say no one is really being asked to do so. Jeff Fisher is free to go with the hot hand or in this case, healthiest foot.
Bumps and Bruises: Steve Smith has reported no problems this week after a productive game. Maybe next week, we can get an Injury Report in without Smith! ? Clinton Portis is saying his shoulder is no longer requiring treatment. I'm not sure if that's a good sign or not ? Corey Dillon isn't on the injury report after suffering a stinger last week. Whether he plays or not is in the hands of the coaching staff, not the medical team. ? There's not much info on Desmond Clark yet, but I'm working my sources for more info on his foot injury. I hope to have more Sunday morning. ? Remember when we were told that Jevon Kearse had torn everything in his knee? Not so much. He did have cartilage damage and a fractured tibia, but surgery went very well for him. He's still out for the year, but next year looks much better for Kearse. ? Ravens DB Ed Reed has a minor foot injury, but while he's not practicing, he is expected to play against the Chargers. ? If Rashied Davis ends up a credible fantasy pick, I'm going to get Antonio Freeman to start making my stock picks too. After Jerricho Cotchery and Bernard Berrian, I'm a believer in "Free's Flex."
I'll see you guys on Sunday morning for the last-minute Med Check on ESPN Motion.
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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 9/28/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/28/06)

Friday, September 29, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Stopgap Seven: Week 4


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By Tristan 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.)
Isaac Bruce, WR, Rams (DET): The Lions' secondary has been torn apart by the Bears and Packers the past two weeks, and CB Dre' Bly will have his hands full defending Torry Holt. That should allow Bruce to sneak in with the big game, ? la Greg Jennings in Week 3.
David Carr, QB, Texans (MIA): Houston spent a huge portion of the first three games trailing on the scoreboard, yet Carr was remarkably efficient in playing from behind. He's not making mistakes, and should capitalize on a Miami secondary that has yet to jell.
Charlie Frye, QB, Browns (@OAK): Cleveland's running game is shaky enough that Frye should air it out early and often, and even if he doesn't, he's capable of running for a score. It's a fine matchup, one that shouldn't inspire the turnover issues he has battled so far.
Jon Kitna, QB, Lions (@STL): Mike Martz's offense showed signs of rounding into form in Week 3, and now he leads it into St. Louis, where he coached from 2000-05. Kitna should be the focus, and you can count on Martz being prepared to beat his old team.
Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots (@CIN): RB Corey Dillon's neck stinger isn't supposed to be an issue, but the Patriots aren't always forthcoming about these things. Cincinnati's front seven is shaky, so if Maroney can sneak in double-digit carries, big things should happen.
Eric Moulds, WR, Texans (MIA): Miami CB Travis Daniels should draw the assignment defending Moulds, though he lacks the size and speed to keep up with the Houston No. 2 WR. Expect Carr to make as much use of Moulds as he does Andre Johnson this week.
Michael Robinson, RB, 49ers (@KC): Obviously, his potential is tied entirely to the health of RB Frank Gore, though no matter Gore's status, the 49ers will ease the load on him near the goal line. Robinson should sneak in those situations, and could break a TD again. <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 4: Cardinals QB Kurt Warner is undefeated in his career against the Falcons, but with the focus on him trying to hold off rookie QB Matt Leinart, I'd call his a sit-and-evaluate matchup. Atlanta's defense will be primed to erase the painful memory of a terrible Week 3 performance, and should force Warner into more costly turnovers, which has the potential to knock him from the game early. ? Redskins QB Mark Brunell might look like a hot hand after his standout performance at Houston in Week 3, but Jacksonville's stingy defense should provide him a reality check, returning him to the terrible performer he was in the preseason and the first two regular-season games. ? Seahawks RB Maurice Morris is a must-add for as long as he stands in for injured RB Shaun Alexander -- sadly, it could be for only one game -- but he's also a must-sit against the Bears' fourth-ranked defense. It's actually an ideal situation; he gets a shot to flash his skills while his fantasy owners don't need to fret about whether to use him. It's simply a terrible matchup on paper, even for the league's most talented RBs. ? Chargers WR Keenan McCardell has been limited in practice by a hamstring injury, and he's questionable for Sunday at the Ravens. Considering the matchup, as well as the fact that QB Philip Rivers has attempted only 47 passes combined in two games, McCardell shouldn't be counted on for much fantasy production. ? Jaguars WR Matt Jones has also been limited by a groin injury this week, and while he's expected to play at the Redskins, Jacksonville is likely to lean more heavily on its other talented young receivers as a result.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys
Practiced Thursday, could play in Week 4

I've tried to avoid discussing the T.O. debacle for much of the week, with so much of his story unclear for so long, but it's Friday, and as such, time to talk about his fantasy prospects for the week. Whatever your feelings about the Owens situation, he's nevertheless one of the most prolific scorers of the past half-decade, with 27 touchdowns in his last 30 regular-season games, so whenever he's cleared to play, he has the talent to earn must-start status in all leagues. Now, his broken finger did limit him in his last game, a three-catch, 19-yard effort in Week 2 against the Redskins, and it'll probably do the same this week as he nurses it back to full health. But Owens' opponent this time is the Titans, a secondary that lacks the size and talent to contain him, meaning Owens even at less than 100 percent is still a better potential fantasy scorer than most alternatives. Official word should come either later Friday or Saturday whether T.O. will indeed suit up for the week, and if he does, you can count on him being primed to step up with a big game to quiet his critics. Even if he drops a handful of passes, he should still catch enough to crack double-digit points.
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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>Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: He beat up a quality defense and stacks up well in a possible shootout vs. NE.</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>193</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>5</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>Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: Not a great matchup at WAS, but a sleeper for more work down the road.</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>13</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>103</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>32</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>19</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>T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals: His heel didn't hamper him at all, and it's another nice matchup in Week 4.</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>9</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>94</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>10</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>Kellen Winslow Jr., TE, Browns: He leads his team in receptions (19) and all tight ends in receiving yards (197).</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>92</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>8</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>9</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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


Trainer's Room
? Titans RB Chris Brown (toe) practiced fully on Thursday but remains questionable for Week 4 against the Cowboys. Based on the lack of clarity at the running back position in Tennessee, as well as the poor matchup, Brown should be avoided.
? 49ers RB Frank Gore (ribs) practiced again on Thursday and should be upgraded to probable by Friday. He seems likely to start in Week 4 at the Chiefs, and while RB Michael Robinson could steal some of his goal-line carries, Gore is too talented a runner and the matchup is too favorable to sit him in fantasy leagues.
? Ravens TE Todd Heap (ankle) practiced on Thursday and is expected to start in Week 4 against the Chargers, despite being listed as questionable. Considering how often QB Steve McNair likes to throw to his tight ends, Heap is a must-start.
? Eagles RB Brian Westbrook (knee) missed practice on Thursday and is questionable for Week 4 against the Packers, though he's likely to play. Keep an eye on his status, as he'd be a risky play in the Monday night game should he wind up a game-time decision. WR Donte' Stallworth (hamstring) also sat out Thursday's practice and is questionable for Week 4. He's planning to play, however, though that's another situation where he'd be a dangerous play as a game-time decision since it's a Monday contest. ? 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 9/28/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/28/06)

Sep. 29, 2006, 2:01 PM
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Week 4: 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.
Arizona at Atlanta: Edgerrin James will have to battle hard for yardage this week, but should still finish with respectable overall numbers even if he doesn't find the end zone. CB DeAngelo Hall (calf) is expected to play and could limit the production of Larry Fitzgerald, so Kurt Warner could throw to Anquan Boldin often. The Falcons could get ahead quickly in this one, and Warner could produce mixed results as he plays from behind. The Cardinals could be focused on stopping the run, and that means Michael Vick could surprise them with his arm, especially if Arizona brings their safeties up, leaving TE Alge Crumpler some open room in the middle of the field. Both Warrick Dunn and rookie Jerious Norwood will be factors as Atlanta runs the ball often with a lead in the second half.
Start and Smile: Anquan Boldin, Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn, Jerious Norwood, Alge Crumpler
Watch and Worry: Kurt Warner
Cleveland at Oakland: Braylon Edwards has quickly re-emerged to become a go-to guy for the Browns, and even if the Raiders shut him down early, expect Edwards to catch a TD pass. You can also look for a good day for Kellen Winslow Jr., who should be open over the middle of the field often and will get a few chances to catch a short TD pass if his knee doesn't hold him back. Browns QB Charlie Frye should certainly be good for more than one TD. The Raiders will try to establish LaMont Jordan early, but the Browns will key on him often and force QB Andrew Walter to throw. The Raiders QB will be intercepted more than once, but he can throw the occasionally accurate deep ball, and he'll surprise Cleveland with a TD pass to Randy Moss.
Start and Smile: Charlie Frye, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow Jr., Randy Moss
Watch and Worry: LaMont Jordan
Dallas at Tennessee: The Cowboys will look to throw against a vulnerable, but physical Tennessee defense, and Terry Glenn and Jason Witten will be the featured pass-catchers. Drew Bledsoe will throw more than one TD pass, and wider running lanes will open in the second half for Julius Jones. But Marion Barber will be the guy finishing off a drive or two with short scoring runs. The Tennessee running game will be shut down early, and Kerry Collins will be forced into many adverse passing situations. Drew Bennett will use his height to catch some key passes, but Collins will turn the ball over more than once.
Start and Smile: Drew Bledsoe, Terry Glenn, Jason Witten, Drew Bennett
Watch and Worry: Chris Brown, Travis Henry
Detroit at St. Louis: The Lions secondary has been a major sore point, and the Rams will certainly come out and attack with regular strikes to Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Marc Bulger will take a lot of short drops and fire away en route to at least two TD passes. Steven Jackson hasn't scored yet this year, but a good passing game should put him in position for at least one short scoring run. The Lions will have to play from behind early, and Jon Kitna will struggle and commit turnovers. Kevin Jones will have trouble finding regularly open running lanes, but he'll catch some swing passes when Kitna is in trouble, and should finish with decent, but not outstanding numbers.
Start and Smile: Marc Bulger, Isaac Bruce
Watch and Worry: Jon Kitna
Indianapolis at New York Jets: A banged-up Jets' secondary will be no match for Peyton Manning, who will find Marvin Harrison for at least one TD pass, while also spreading the ball around. TE Dallas Clark and RB Joseph Addai will also catch a few key balls. Manning should be good for at least two TD passes. The Jets will fire right back, though, in what could be a shootout. Chad Pennington will hook up frequently with Jerricho Cotchery, and the Jets QB should also be good for at least two TD passes. With the Jets able to get in the red zone a few times, expect a short scoring run from Kevan Barlow. Leon Washington is a good emergency RB option, and should gain some good chunks of yardage on flat passes from Pennington.
Start and Smile: Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Chad Pennington, Jerricho Cotchery
Watch and Worry: Dominic Rhodes isn't looking like a good fantasy starter against any opponent.
Jacksonville at Washington: The Redskins will still be without CB Shawn Springs, so Byron Leftwich will test the secondary. Expect him to throw more than one TD pass, and Reggie Williams will be his featured receiver. Fred Taylor will work hard for adequate yardage numbers, but Maurice Jones-Drew won't find the same amount of open room he did last week. Look for the rookie to be less of a factor as the Redskins will be aware of him as a threat. Clinton Portis won't have great yardage numbers against a physical Jaguars front seven, and Mark Brunell will find he can't complete too many passes in a row. Most of his 22 completions last week were of the shorter and underneath variety last week, and he's going to look mediocre again this week, while Santana Moss suffers statistically.
Start and Smile: Byron Leftwich, Reggie Williams
Watch and Worry: Maurice Jones-Drew, Mark Brunell, Santana Moss
Miami at Houston: Don't expect a great outing from Daunte Culpepper, as this will be a big day for Ronnie Brown, who should easily race past the 100-yard mark and score more than once. Lee Suggs could also provide some decent numbers in relief work. Miami will look to take pressure off Culpepper with a strong running game, and don't expect more than two total TDs from the Dolphins QB. When Culpepper does go to the air, the Texans will be focused on containing Chris Chambers, so Marty Booker should get open for some important catches. Chambers is still a good bet to find the end zone. Ron Dayne will be stuffed early and often, so David Carr will have to throw a lot, with more than one TD pass, and more than one turnover. Andre Johnson will deliver another impressive outing, and Eric Moulds should haul in a score.
Start and Smile: Ronnie Brown, Chris Chambers, Marty Booker, Andre Johnson, Eric Moulds
Watch and Worry: Ron Dayne
Minnesota at Buffalo: The Bills will focus on stopping Chester Taylor, but will ultimately be worn down by the Vikings' offensive line, and Taylor should score at least once. A strong running game in the second half should set up Brad Johnson for a play-action strike or two to Troy Williamson, who might be kept out of the end zone while finishing with good yardage numbers. Travis Taylor will catch a healthy amount of passes, but won't finish with outstanding yardage totals. The Vikings will have some trouble containing Willis McGahee, but could be another team to keep him out of the end zone. Lee Evans will be shut down by the Minnesota CBs, and J.P. Losman will have trouble finding open receivers.
Start and Smile: Chester Taylor, Troy Williamson
Watch and Worry: J.P. Losman, Lee Evans
New England at Cincinnati: There won't be anything that could keep Corey Dillon off the field in this one, and expect him to score at least once as he returns to sting his former team. Some of his intensity should help fire up RB partner Laurence Maroney as well, and the rookie should also score, although he might not have impressive yardage numbers against an aggressive front seven that will curtail him at times if Maroney tries to get too cute with his cutbacks. Tom Brady should be conservative as New England depends on the running game to win the time of possession battle, and Brady could be limited to just one TD pass. No one can stop the Bengals for sure these days, and Chad Johnson should rebound this week, with Rudi Johnson also piling up big yardage as he tries to overshadow Dillon's "homecoming."
Start and Smile: Corey Dillon. Laurence Maroney, Rudi Johnson, Chad Johnson
Watch and Worry: Any New England receiver other than Doug Gabriel, obviously.
New Orleans at Carolina: Don't look for the Saints to change much offensively, as they will continue to threaten defenses with Reggie Bush, and will use him as a decoy when possible. Bush could have another game with just adequate fantasy numbers, while Deuce McAllister continues to run the ball effectively enough to be a quality fantasy starter. Drew Brees will continue to look for WR Marques Colston as secondaries focus on Joe Horn and Bush. The New Orleans secondary, however, will have much trouble containing the duo of Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson, and Jake Delhomme could have his best game of the season so far.
Start and Smile: Marques Colston, Steve Smith, Keyshawn Johnson, Jake Delhomme
Watch and Worry: Saints defense/special teams
San Diego at Baltimore: Let's get this one out of the way immediately. You don't sit LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, regardless of the matchup. Even if his yardage numbers aren't great, Tomlinson is always a good bet to find the end zone, and if Philip Rivers throws one TD pass, it will be to Gates. Rivers should be ultra-conservative and will simply try to minimize his mistakes in a very tough matchup. Jamal Lewis will have much trouble finding much open running room, and Steve McNair will have to throw often, and could get picked off more than once, even if he delivers a TD pass. His top wideout, Derrick Mason, should benefit from McNair having to throw a lot.
Start and Smile: Derrick Mason
Watch and Worry: Steve McNair, Jamal Lewis
Seattle at Chicago: The Seahawks' offensive line is banged up, and doesn't block as well for the run currently as it does for the pass, so don't expect much statistical production from Maurice Morris. The Bears will likely drop extra men back into coverage against Matt Hasselbeck, who won't have a great day, but he won't be bad enough to bench him. This could be the true coming-out party for Deion Branch, as the Bears focus on Darrell Jackson as Hasselbeck's main passing target. Bobby Engram should catch some important balls against his old team. Thomas Jones will get shut down, and Muhsin Muhammad could be kept quiet, but Seattle's DBs can be burned at times by the deep ball, which means good numbers and a TD for Bernard Berrian. But it won't be a good day overall for Rex Grossman against an opportunistic Seattle secondary.
Start and Smile: Deion Branch, Bernard Berrian
Watch and Worry: Maurice Morris, Nate Burleson, Rex Grossman, Thomas Jones, Muhsin Muhammad
San Francisco at Kansas City: The Niners could come out throwing here, in an effort to take some defensive focus off RB Frank Gore. Antonio Bryant will be very busy, and TE Eric Johnson will make some important grabs. Alex Smith should be good for more than one TD pass and is a quality bye week option. San Francisco will know Larry Johnson is coming, but they won't be able to stop him. Chiefs QB Damon Huard will be conservative, and should throw to TE Tony Gonzalez often. That means he won't throw deep to Eddie Kennison enough, and Kennison's production will continue to suffer while Trent Green is out.
Start and Smile: Alex Smith, Antonio Bryant, Eric Johnson, Tony Gonzalez
Watch and Worry: Eddie Kennison Green Bay at Philadelphia: Brett Favre will certainly attack what is the weakest part of the Eagles defense right now, an injury-weakened secondary. The Eagles will blitz often to protect their DBs, so expect Favre to take quick drops and throw quick strikes to Greg Jennings, and use play-action to get the ball to Donald Driver deep. Favre should throw more than one TD pass, but also will be intercepted more than once. Ahman Green won't post great numbers, but he'll catch swing and flat passes when Favre is in trouble, and his final numbers should be adequate. Brian Westbrook should have another big game, and with Donte' Stallworth hurting. Reggie Brown and L.J. Smith should be major factors in the Philadelphia offense.
Start and Smile: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Brain Westbrook, Reggie Brown, L.J. Smith
Watch and Worry: The condition of Donte' Stallworth.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/29/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/29/06)

Updated: Sep. 30, 2006

Week 4: Injury updates around the NFL


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By John Clayton
ESPN.com
Archive
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Here is the latest news on key injuries going into Week 3 of the 2006 NFL season. For more injury information, check out The Briefing Room from Scouts Inc., and Will Carroll's fantasy Injury report
. <OFFER><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=430 border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000">AFC East</TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Buffalo Bills: Once again, linebacker Takeo Spikes had a minor setback in his return from a hamstring injury. Spikes missed Friday's practice after the hamstring didn't feel as good as it did on Thursday. Spikes will be a game-time decision, but will probably be missing his third consecutive game. Safety Matt Bowen (shoulder) and cornerback Kiwaukee Thomas (back) participated in the full practice Friday but remain questionable. It will be a game-time decision for Bowen, but odds are against it. Thomas is expected to play. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins had everyone on the field for all three practices since Wednesday. Cornerbacks Travis Daniels (ankle) and Eddie Jackson (toe) practiced and will be able to play. They've been probable all week. Nick Saban kept guard Joe Berger (foot) and linebacker Derrick Pope (hamstring) as questionable, but they could be available after practicing all week. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
New England Patriots: Cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who is listed as questionable because of a wrist injury, wasn't present at the media access portion of practice, leading most to believe he has a decent chance of missing Sunday's game against Cincinnati. Bill Belichick will have to decide Saturday whether Hobbs makes the trips. If Hobbs is out, the Patriots won't have two of their best three cornerbacks. Randall Gay went on the injured reserve list earlier this week and the team signed veteran Hank Poteat. Wide receiver Chad Jackson (hamstring), tackle Nick Kaczur (shoulder), safety Eugene Wilson (hamstring) and safety Artrell Hawkins (thigh) are questionable and missed a portion of practice. Wilson will be a game-day decision and an important one because of how thin the Patriots' secondary is. Hawkins has an outside chance to play because he's had a couple weeks to heal his thigh injury. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
New York Jets: The Jets should have guard Pete Kendall (thigh), wide receiver Laveranues Coles (calf) and safety Kerry Rhodes (thigh) starting for Sunday's game against the Colts. They have kept all three of those players as questionable, but each did some work Friday to try to get ready for the game. Safety Derrick Strait remains questionable with a thigh injury along with wide receiver Tim Dwight (hamstring). Those two players could miss the game. Cornerback David Barrett is questionable with a thigh injury but he should play. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->

<!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=430 border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000">AFC South</TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Houston Texans: Center Mike Flanagan didn't practice Friday and remains very questionable for Sunday's game against the Dolphins. Cornerback DeMarcus ***gins is out with a foot injury. Defensive end Antwan Peek did a little bit at practice Friday despite a groin injury. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Indianapolis Colts: From the list of 19 injuries, defensive tackle Corey Simon (knee) and safety Bob Sanders (knee) are out and wide receiver Brandon Stokley (ankle) and cornerback Nick Harper (ankle) aren't expected to play after missing practice Friday. Harper and Stokley remain listed as questionable. Even though right tackle Ryan Diem didn't practice Friday and remains questionable, Tony Dungy expects him to start. Diem has a thumb injury. Adam Vinatieri did some kicking Friday and expects to be on the field Sunday. Linebacker Gary Brackett was upgraded to probable from questionable with a thigh injury. Linebacker Freddie Keiaho (knee) and tight end Ben Utecht (groin) were also upgraded from questionable to probable Friday. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Jacksonville Jaguars: Cornerback Rashean Mathis practiced Friday after missing two days with a knee injury. Though listed as questionable, Mathis is expected to play Sunday against the Redskins. Defensive end Marcellus Wiley (groin) and fullback Derrick Wimbush (knee) haven't practiced all week and are listed as doubtful. They won't play. Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud didn't do a lot of his sore ankle Friday. He was upgraded Thursday from questionable to probable. Guard Chris Naeole will also play despite a knee injury that lists him as probable. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Tennessee Titans: The Titans hope to have one of their three injured guards healthy for Sunday's game against the Cowboys, and the guard with the best chance will be Benji Olson, who's questionable with a calf injury. He did some work in practice Friday. Guars Zach Piller (ankle) and Eugene Amano (ankle) are questionable and didn't practice, but there is some hope of having them do something on Saturday. If Olson or another guard can't play, the Titans could move tackle Jacob Bell to guard and start David Stewart at tackle. Out is tight end Erron Kinney with a knee injury. Defensive tackle Robaire Smith did a little work Friday on his hamstring injury and has an outside chance of playing. He's listed as questionable. Halfback Chris Brown has practiced all with despite a toe injury. Though listed as questionable. Brown is expected to play. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->

<!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=430 border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000">AFC North</TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens upgraded tight end Todd Heap (ankle), guard Ed Mulitalo (elbow), linebacker Bart Scott (foot) and wide receiver Demetrius Williams (elbow) from questionable to probable Friday. That left three players as questionable -- safety Ed Reed (foot), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (back) and defensive end Terrell Suggs (thigh) -- but they are all expected to play. Ngata and Reed did some work. Suggs didn't do much but he's told friends he will play. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Cincinnati Bengals: Defensive tackle Sam Adams (knee) and left tackle Levi Jones (knee) practiced Friday and should be able to play. They are probable. Tight end Reggie Kelly was ill and missed practice Friday but he's expected to play. He's listed as probable. Out are center Rich Braham (knee), safety Dexter Jackson (ankle) and wide receiver Tab Perry (hip). Linebackers A.J. Nicholson (ankle) and Rashad Jeanty (foot) didn't practice Friday and remain doubtful. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Cleveland Browns: The Browns made a lot of changes to their lengthy injury report Friday. They ruled out defensive end Nick Eason (ankle) and cornerback Gary Baxter (pectoral). They had been questionable. Wide receiver Joe Jurevicius is questionable with a rib injury and most likely will sit out. He did some work Friday but he's a game-time decision. Linebacker Willie McGinest didn't practice Friday and is questionable with a calf injury. He may try to play. Halfback Reuben Droughns plans to play even though he's questionable with a shoulder injury that sidelined him last week. Defensive end Orpheus Roye practiced and should play despite being questionable with a shoulder injury. Guard Cosey Coleman was upgraded to probable with a hand injury. Safety Brian Russell was upgraded to probable with an elbow injury. Tight end Kellen Winslow missed Friday's practice with a knee injury, but he expects to play despite being listed as questionable. The Browns added safety Justin Hamilton as questionable with an ankle injury. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->

<!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=430 border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000">AFC West</TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Kansas City Chiefs: Left tackle Kyle Turley missed practice again Friday with his bad back and is questionable. Expect Jordan Black to start at left tackle. Turley has missed practice all week and was downgraded to questionable on Thursday. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Oakland Raiders: The bye week allowed the Raiders' offensive line to get healthy. Robert Gallery is back at left tackle after missing a game with a calf injury. Jake Grove is starting at center, but he has a tough assignment going against former Raiders nose tackle Ted Washington. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has recovered from a foot injury that sidelined him against the Ravens. Out is quarterback Aaron Brooks with a shoulder injury. Linebacker Grant Irons is questionable with a back problem. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
San Diego Chargers: Defensive end Igor Olshansky continues to practice with a knee brace and has a chance to play in Baltimore. He's questionable. Guard Kris Dielman has been practicing with his hamstring injury and should be able to start. Wide receiver Keenan McCardell has practiced all week with a hamstring injury that lists him as questionable and will start. Tight end Ryan Krause (hamstring) and tackle Leander Jordan (neck) didn't practice Friday and have missed three days of practice this week. They remain as questionable. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->

<!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=430 border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000">NFC East</TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Dallas Cowboys: Terrell Owens did all the coaches asked of him during Friday's practice, so Bill Parcells saw enough to take him on the trip to Nashville. Parcells didn't change Owens' status on the injury report. He's listed as questionable. Parcells planned to meet with coaches regarding who will be active and who will be inactive and planned to take extra players in case of injury. The final decision on Owens' playing status will come on Saturday. Owens is coming back from surgery to fix a broken ring finger on his right hand. He's practiced the past two days and did some work Wednesday after being in the hospital because of a reaction to pain pills. Owens is the only injured Cowboy. <TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles are getting healthier as they practice for Monday night's game against the Packers. Safety Brian Dawkins returned to the practice field Friday. He's questionable with a concussion. Halfback Brian Westbrook is still questionable with a sore knee but he is fine. Wide receiver Donte' Stallworth remains questionable with a hamstring injury, but he did some work Friday. Andy Reid is going to assess cornerbacks Rod Hood (heel) and Lito Sheppard (ankle). They are doubtful, but they still have time to do some work and have their statuses upgraded.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Washington Redskins: Quarterback Mark Brunell practiced Friday with his elbow injury, so he will start Sunday against the Jaguars. Joe Gibbs said Thursday Brunell, who missed two days of practice, should be ready for the game, and Brunell confirmed that by practicing Friday. Cornerback Shawn Springs ruled himself out of the game with groin and abdominal problems. Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a practiced with his calf injury and will return to the starting lineup after missing a game.</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->

<!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=430 border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000">NFC South</TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Atlanta Falcons: Jim Mora didn't change the injury report. Defensive end John Abraham remains questionable with a groin injury and didn't practice Friday. Having missed three weeks of work, it appears he will have to miss his third consecutive game. Middle linebacker Ed Hartwell worked for a second day. He's coming off a knee injury. The team lists him as questionable, but Mora has yet to decide whether to play him this week or give him another week to rest knowing the Falcons' have a bye next week. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall practiced for a second straight day on his sore calf and will play. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Carolina Panthers: John Fox didn't change the Panthers injury report, which already lists middle linebacker Dan Morgan (concussion) and tight end Mike Seidman (foot) as out. Center Justin Hartwig (groin) and safety Shaun Williams (foot) missed practiced Friday and haven't practiced all week. Though listed as questionable, neither player is expected to play. Right tackle Todd Fordham practiced again after being upgraded to probable with his shoulder injury. He should be available. Cornerback Ken Lucas (neck), halfback Nick Goings (thigh) and wide receiver Steve Smith (thigh) practiced all week. All their injuries are better than they were a week ago when all three played against the Tampa Bay. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
New Orleans Saints: It will be a game-time decision for wide receiver Devery Henderson, who is questionable with a shoulder injury and didn't practice the past two days. Cornerback Fred Thomas practiced the past two days and will play with a hip injury that lists him as questionable. Linebacker Danny Clark missed Friday's practice and is questionable for the Falcons game because of a hip injury. Safety Bryan Scott is out with a thigh injury. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->

<!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=430 border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000">NFC North</TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Chicago Bears: The Bears downgraded wide receiver Mark Bradley from questionable to doubtful because of an ankle injury that has sidelined him all week. Tight end Desmond Clark didn't practice again Friday on his sore foot. He's probably going to miss the game, but this will be a game-time decision. Safety Chris Harris is questionable with an ankle injury but he has practiced all week. The Bears placed wide receiver Airese Currie on the injured reserve list because of a foot injury. The bad news is the Bears are down to four healthy receivers plus the injured Bradley. The Bears still have roster space available. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Detroit Lions: The Lions aren't certain that cornerback Fernando Bryant will be healthy enough to play on his ankle injury. He's listed as questionable and could miss his second consecutive game. The bigger worry is along the offensive line. Starting right tackle Rex Tucker can't practice because of a sore knee and his backup, Barry Stokes, may only be available for limited duty after doing some work in practice Friday. That leaves rookie Jonathan Scott likely to make his second start. Rick DeMulling is expected to start for left guard Ross Verba, who is questionable with a hamstring injury and hasn't practiced much all week. Verba and Tucker probably are both going to miss the game. Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers is probable with a knee injury but he will play. Out are safety Kenoy Kennedy (foot) and linebacker Alex Lewis (knee). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Green Bay Packers: The Packers added halfback Ahman Green to the injury report Thursday with rib and hamstring problems. He's probable, but he also didn't practice Friday so his status will have to be watched through the weekend. Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was upgraded from doubtful to questionable. He has an ankle injury. Defensive end Aaron Kampman practiced Friday and he's probable. Cornerback Will Blackmon didn't practice and remains questionable. Guard Jason Spitz practiced despite a thigh injury. He's questionable but has a good chance of playing. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Minnesota Vikings: Defensive tackle Pat Williams was upgraded to probable from questionable. He's practiced all week with an ankle injury. Linebacker Ben Leber is wearing a brace on his sore knee and remains questionable. He didn't do much Friday. It will be a game-day decision, but it's more than likely he might miss the game. Halfback Chester Taylor is fine with an ankle injury. He's listed as probable. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->

<!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=430 border=0><TBODY><TR><TH style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000">NFC West</TH><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Arizona Cardinals: The only injury concern for the Cardinals is linebacker James Darling, who missed all week with a calf injury. He's listed as questionable. Tight end Fred Wakefield is probable with a sore back but practiced all week. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
St. Louis Rams: Left tackle Orlando Pace was downgraded to doubtful from questionable because of his concussion. Don't expect him to play. The Rams are considering moving guard Adam Goldberg to left tackle. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers won't have guard Larry Allen (knee) and tight end Vernon Davis (broken fibula). Halfback Frank Gore was upgraded to probable Friday after being questionable with a rib injury. Also upgraded to probable from questionable were halfback Maurice Hicks (ankle) and tight end Delanie Walker (shoulder). Wide receiver Taylor Jacobs is questionable with a hamstring injury and he probably will miss the game. Halfback Michael Robinson is probable with a shoulder injury and should be able to go. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=426>
Seattle Seahawks: Out for the Seahawks are running back Shaun Alexander (foot), tight end Jerramy Stevens (knee), defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs (knee), guard Floyd Womack (knee) and defensive end Joe Tafoya (knee). Guard Chris Gray (knee) and right tackle Sean Locklear (knee) practiced Friday and despite being questionable, they were cleared to start. Cornerback Jordan Babineaux is questionable with a concussion and didn't do anything Friday. This will be a game-day decision. Safety Ken Hamlin, probable with a shoulder injury, is fine. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/29/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 9/29/06)

Martz returns home in new role


posted:September 30, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Detroit Lions


When the Detroit Lions travel to St. Louis to play the Rams, one individual on the Lions charter flight will have a variety of emotions stirring inside. Former Rams head coach Mike Martz will wear Honolulu blue and silver inside the Edward Jones Dome as Detroit's offensive coordinator. No individual will want a victory more on a personal level than Martz.

Martz's departure from St. Louis was anything but pleasant. In his tenure as head coach of the Rams, he led one of the top offenses in the NFL, coached three consecutive league MVPs and got the team back to the Super Bowl. In 1999, as offensive coordinator, Martz led an explosive Rams offense that won the Super Bowl. Martz had tremendous success, posting a 54-33 record directing the league's top-ranked offense three consecutive seasons (1999-2001). But his health failed him, and he was hospitalized during the 2005 season, after which he was fired.
After only three games in Detroit, it is too early to determine whether Martz can duplicate his offensive successes with the Lions. Quarterback Jon Kitna is posting some impressive numbers, but Jon he has not yet led his team to victory. The Lions have struggled to put points on the board, and personnel changes have been the norm.
As Martz installs and teaches his complex system, he is dealing with more than just a learning curve. The Lions' offensive line has been banged up, receivers have been signed and cut, and the team has been undergoing serious attitude adjustments to overcome the mentality that accompanies years of losing.
Martz also is undergoing adjustments, transitioning back to being a coordinator after having been a successful head coach. Losing the control he had as the top guy can be a tough test of patience in today's era of immediate gratification and instant results. Martz would have liked to have had his offensive unit operating much like his former Rams teams by now, rather than the inconsistent group he will bring to St. Louis on Sunday.
Coincidentally, upon his return to St. Louis as a coordinator Martz will line up his Lions offense opposite a Rams defense that also is headed up by a former head coach in Jim Haslett. Haslett was released after six seasons as the head coach in New Orleans, the last of which was perhaps the most challenging season in recent NFL memory. Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Saints were forced to relocate to San Antonio, Texas, and play every game of the 2005 season essentially on the road. Haslett had a successful run in New Orleans, winning 45 games and posting the first play off victory in franchise history.
A defensive-minded head coach, he now is a defensive coordinator. Haslett is an intense competitor, and this new role will challenge his patience as he retools the Rams defense and injects some attitude. That showed in the Rams season-opening victory over Denver, in which St. Louis held the high-octane Broncos to a single touchdown and created five turnovers. The Rams won in a game in which their offense didn't score a touchdown. In last week's win over Arizona, Haslett's defense created four more turnovers to help win another low-scoring contest.
Offenses traditionally take longer to install and get in sync than defenses, so it's not surprising that Haslett's impact as a coordinator has been more immediate than Martz's. While the timing, circumstances and location of the game will give the emotional edge to go to Martz, the coach's emotions don't score points. The players' execution of the coach's system does. In a league where coaches spend countless hours in rooms filled with professional egos, and where loyalty is paramount, it is always interesting when a former head coach finds himself serving under another leader. Give first-time head coaches Rod Marinelli in Detroit and Scott Linehan in St. Louis credit for having the self-confidence to hire former head coaches to their staffs.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/30/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/30/06)

Monday, October 2, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Bear's New Market


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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 -->While much of the attention -- fantasy-wise -- was centered on Seahawks RB Maurice Morris, making his first start of the season following the loss of RB Shaun Alexander to a broken foot, the real story of Sunday night's game came from across the field. Bears RB Thomas Jones, a solid weekly No. 2 option in 2005, seemingly reclaimed that status by running 24 times for 98 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks.
Jones split his carries evenly between the halves, with 12 for 42 yards and a score before the half, so it's not like he capitalized on a bigger workload in garbage time in a 37-6 game. Cedric Benson had eight of 11 rushing attempts in the third quarter or later, after the Bears had mounted a 21-point lead, so really, Jones' performance might have been even better had the score been closer. He didn't break any big plays but did get the goal-line carries and the bulk of the early-game work, ensuring Benson won't be an issue at any point soon.
QB Rex Grossman isn't a fantasy standout, but he's keeping defenses honest, which helps open running lanes for Jones. To this point, defenses had been stacking their fronts to shut down Jones and the running game, but now that Grossman has demonstrated he can make key plays, things should only improve for Jones looking forward. He should be a No. 2 option most weeks, with more performances like this one in him.
What else did we see Sunday night? Morris wasn't a desirable fantasy starter on Sunday, and his stats backed up the "avoid" label, as he managed only 35 yards in 11 rushing attempts. (For the record, Benson's 37 yards in 11 attempts were nearly identical.) Morris won't be a top RB option while Alexander is sidelined, but he's speedy enough to beat a defense like the Rams, whom he'll face in Week 6, after Seattle's bye. Alexander's return that week sounds questionable, so keep Morris around on the hopes he'll be a useful flex play.
Back to the Bears, don't overlook WR Bernard Berrian's three catches for 108 yards and a score. His weekly totals should be wildly inconsistent all season, but he and Grossman have developed a nice rapport, and Berrian right now looks like the preferred big-play target in the offense. Those types can be awfully frustrating to own in fantasy, since they're incredibly unpredictable -- think Donte' Stallworth's days in New Orleans -- but there are usually a fair share of quality matchup plays on their schedules. Berrian should find quite a few games where he's an ideal No. 3 option, like in Week 6 at Arizona, for instance. <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
Patriots WR Doug Gabriel got his first start of the season in Week 4, in a game I'd call surprisingly lopsided, and managed a solid four receptions for 57 yards and a score. Those aren't overwhelming fantasy numbers, but that he was targeted by QB Tom Brady eight times is encouraging. Gabriel could be the short-term favorite for Brady, and a popular fantasy addition or trade target in the next week or two as a result, but I can't tell you how many times I've heard people talk up yet another receiver ready to step up as the fantasy standout in New England. Deion Branch, David Givens, David Patten, Troy Brown, whoever it has been, none of them has become a trustworthy No. 1 or 2 fantasy WR, not in a Patriots uniform at least. Fact: The last Patriots receiver to top 1,000 yards receiving was Brown (1,199 in 2001). Fact: The last Patriots receiver to catch at least eight touchdown passes was Ben Coates (nine in 1996). Most astonishing fact: The last Patriots receiver to achieve both feats in the same season was Stanley Morgan in 1986 (1,491 and 10)! In other words, Gabriel's worth a look as a No. 3-4/matchups type, but he might not be far off joining the sell-high class. ? Sticking with receivers, Jaguars WR Reggie Williams seems to be quickly taking over the top target title from WR Matt Jones, who has done little but nurse groin problems all season. Williams, like the aforementioned Berrian, could be a big-play type with a few standout games sandwiching some poor ones, but so long as Jones remains limited, that's the type of player well worth weekly fantasy consideration. Remember, there is a fair share of favorable matchups on the Jacksonville schedule this season, including two games apiece against the Texans and Titans, so Williams could quietly approach a 1,000-yard, 8-TD season, which would be quite a breakout.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars
7 carries, 16 rushing yards, 0 TD

With rookie Maurice Jones-Drew racking up back-to-back solid fantasy performances, Taylor could be facing the first serious threat to his job security since Stacey Mack put the pressure on him in 2001-02. Jones-Drew didn't outperform Taylor as a runner -- he had three carries for three yards by comparison -- but he did as a pass catcher, with three receptions for 53 yards and a score. Taylor had only one catch for seven yards, which has come to be the norm for him over the years; in only 11 of his last 29 games has he caught three or more passes. Health is also an issue, as the main reason the Jaguars are working Jones-Drew into the offense more in recent weeks is to keep the veteran fresh. Week 4 wasn't the kind of effort that should make fantasy owners worry too much about the Jacksonville running game as a whole, as few people would have trusted either back as anything more than a flex option (if that), but it did continue to demonstrate the team's plan to work Jones-Drew in more as the season progresses. This is another of the ever-increasing number of running back-by-committees in the making, and the unfortunate truth to this one is that given a choice, Jones-Drew should be the more exciting one long term thanks to his upside. Taylor doesn't seem durable to be a consistent scoring threat, and he'll always be a risk to get hurt again, in which case the job will land fully in the rookie's hands.
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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>Marc Bulger, QB, Rams: Helps Rams beat former coach Mike Martz; it's Bulger's 9th consecutive home W</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>328</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>-1</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>Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs: There's that game his owners wanted! He had seven 100+ yd, 2+ TD G 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>30</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>101</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>41</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>Santana Moss, WR, Redskins: His 4th G of at least 130 receiving yds, 2 TDs since joining Redskins in 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>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>138</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>8</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>35</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: Has scored in 3 straight G; has 8 TD, averaged 52.4 receiving yds in his last 10 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>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>60</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>12</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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Lineup Shuffling
? Due to QB Kurt Warner's third consecutive poor showing in Week 4, the Cardinals will give rookie QB Matt Leinart his first NFL start in Week 5 against the Chiefs. Leinart at least has two of the game's most talented WRs with which to work in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, but his inexperience probably won't make him much more effective a fantasy option as Warner was the first four weeks. Leinart's value outside of keeper formats is limited, and Boldin's and Fitzgerald's numbers will take a slight hit.

Trainer's Room
? Jets WR Laveranues Coles suffered an apparent shoulder injury on the team's multi-lateral, multi-fumble final play of Week 4. His status as of late Sunday was unclear, so his health should be monitored the next several days. If Coles misses any time, it would affect adversely the fantasy value of QB Chad Pennington, though WR Jerricho Cotchery would get a slight boost moving into the No. 1 receiver role.
? Packers RB Ahman Green (hamstring) is likely to play in Week 4 at the Eagles, but that's hardly a good matchup for a running back at less than 100 percent. Philadelphia seems likely to force the Packers into passing situations often on Monday Night, and Green should be spelled by RBs Noah Herron and Vernand Morency to keep him fresh. ? 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 2 New Articles Added 9/30/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/30/06)

Oct. 2, 2006, 2:32 PM
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Week 5: Horn, Seahawks and Norwood


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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
It's time to bench Joe Horn, and stop expecting the rebound campaign many of us were looking for this season. Preseason reports said Horn appeared healthy and rejuvenated, and was ready to develop a good on-field relationship with new quarterback Drew Brees. The Saints have been a great early-season success story, even though they lost to Carolina yesterday. But Horn simply hasn't been a major part of that success, especially from a statistical perspective. The Saints have used Reggie Bush to challenge defenses, and surprising rookie Marques Colston has started to draw the attention of defenses, but Horn still can't seem to get open regularly. And when he does catch the ball these days, he doesn't do much with it after the catch like he used to do. Injuries and age seem to have caught up to Horn. He caught five balls for only 63 yards on Sunday. He has yet to reach the 90-yard receiving mark in any game this season. Horn was outscored, in fantasy, by Peerless Price and Malcolm Floyd this week. The Saints spread the ball around a lot on offense, and that also hurts Horn's chances of being the featured target he was in the past. You shouldn't cut Horn outright, because he still will occasionally post decent numbers when you need a bye week fill-in. But pull Horn out of your starting lineup for sure. After four weeks, it's definitely time to give up on some guys no matter what they have done in the past. Horn is one of the bigger names on that list. It's clear that Colston is the top receiving threat for New Orleans now, even if many defenses still give Horn the respect of a No. 1 receiver. Horn might continue to face the other team's top cornerback often, and that means more mediocre fantasy performances are on the way. When he faces zone coverage, don't expect Horn to do too much after the catch if he finds a soft spot in the coverage.
Injury Fallout
It's clear the Seahawks certainly were not the same team without Shaun Alexander on Sunday night. Even though Seattle tried to employ their much-mentioned four wide receiver sets, Chicago's vaunted defense was able to drop extra defenders back into coverage while their defensive line dominated the night. Without the threat of Alexander, the Bears let their defensive front stop backup Maurice Morris often, while concentrating more on defending the passing game in the defensive backfield. Matt Hasselbeck was forced into many adverse passing situations, and the Bears put tremendous pressure on him. No matter the level of the opponent, the Seahawks simply lacked their usual offensive balance, and the Bears knew what was coming. Alexander isn't expected to return until at least the seventh week of the season. The Bears exposed the Seahawks without Alexander, and you can bet the Rams will follow a similar defensive blueprint in the sixth week, following Seattle's bye. Maurice Morris isn't geared towards being a featured running back, and the Seahawks seem predictable on offense. No matter the depth of their pass-catching corps, they will be easier to prepare for until their No. 1 RB returns. Hasselbeck can't use audibles and play-action fakes effectively, and it's also apparent that Hasselbeck will force the ball in many instances when his team starts to fall behind. Alexander might not have posted great numbers if he were able to play Sunday night. But he certainly would have allowed Seattle to keep Chicago guessing more, and Hasselbeck would have been able to deliver a TD pass or two and would have finished with more than just four ESPN fantasy points.
Preparing for Changes
The Cardinals will switch to rookie quarterback Matt Leinart next week, and there already are concerns that the numbers of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin will suffer. Kurt Warner, though, wasn't getting them the ball with enough accuracy often, and even if Leinart has to play from behind a lot, he could deliver the ball with better precision often, despite the expected mistakes he'll make during the most important points of games. There should be more concerns about the Arizona running game than the receivers at this point, especially with the QB change. Edgerrin James rushed for a season-low 41 yards on Sunday, and will no doubt face more defensive attention in the short term, as opponents will expect James to run often in an effort to keep pressure off the young quarterback. James also will be a safety receiver for Leinart, and you can be sure defenders will be aware of that as well. Not only are James' numbers disappointing so far, maybe even more than originally expected, but the great possibility of extra defensive attention behind a shoddy offensive line is making James look like anything but a must-start option in the weeks ahead.
Reality Strikes
I was one of the big Reggie Bush backers in the preseason, but now he's heading to my bench until he starts to give me just more than mediocre stats. We all know how much talent Bush has, and he actually looks like a wide receiver many times when he breaks loose for a reception. But opposing defenses simply won't let Bush get past them to break into the open field for big plays, and every defense seems focused on swarming towards Bush every time he catches the ball. As a runner, Bush hasn't been able to elude defenders enough, and he was held to only 22 yards on 11 carries by Carolina. I'm not starting Bush again until he proves he can turn his all-around skills into at least consistently respectable fantasy totals. He dances and jukes too much as a runner and isn't breaking tackles enough, even when he gets the ball in space. Bush eventually should explode and have some big games. But I want to see it happen first before he returns to my starting lineup.
Scout's Notebook ? Despite Seattle's offensive struggles on Sunday night, Deion Branch started to show he is a quick study and is fitting well in the Seattle offense very quickly. Branch caught three passes for 57 yards, and now is a good time to buy low on Branch before he starts to become an even more integral part of the Seahawks' passing game. Branch is finding soft spots in zones and is already shaking off man coverage. In the weeks ahead, especially when Alexander returns, Branch should start to emerge as a prime target for Hasselbeck. The Seahawks do have great receiving depth, but need to identify their most important targets, and that should soon become Darrell Jackson and Branch, with Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram assuming clear secondary roles in the passing game.
? Atlanta rookie Jerious Norwood scored on a 78-yard TD run and finished with 106 rushing yards against the Cardinals. There are reports that the Falcons want to get Norwood more playing time, but we have been hearing that since the preseason. There is no doubt Norwood can make big plays whenever he touches the ball, but he only carried the ball six times on Sunday. You simply can't start Norwood until you actually see him get more touches. What's being said, and what actually happens offensively is often two different things in the NFL. Coaches and team sources often indicate intended strategies in an effort to keep their upcoming opponent off balance in their game preparation. I'm not saying Norwood won't become a more important part of the Atlanta offense very soon. But I'll wait to actually see him get more reps before I consider starting him.
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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 9/30/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/30/06)

Love the late games!


posted: Monday, October 2, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


The early games on Sunday were kind of exciting as a fan, but fantasy owners weren't impressed. Julius Jones and Larry Johnson had decent days, but their teams won embarrassing blowouts. The close games offered little on the ground.<!--##FRONTSTOP##--> Drew Brees was the only quarterback who put on a show, the only 1 p.m. ET passer to approach 300 yards, yet alone smash the figure.

So then we look at the late game slate and see the expected Jags-Skins defensive battle, and winless teams in Oakland. There's the mighty Bengals waiting for an opponent seemingly on the way down, and we're left relying on someone like Jon Kitna? How would the fantasy day be salvaged?
The top three fantasy quarterback performances came in late games, and all Kitna, Tom Brady and Charlie Frye combined for was eight more scores, and were top 10. Santana Moss won the day and probably the week with a monster game. Laurence Maroney served notice. Only four late games Sunday, but the two games with 75 and 66 points were tremendous for fantasy. And they were just fun to watch.
Alright, let's get to all of them.

Falcons 32, Cardinals 10: Hope you didn't play Kurt Warner. Can't imagine he gets another chance. Matt Leinart got the call and didn't do any better. Now the fantasy question has to be, what's the impact on the Arizona wide receivers? Well, we have all week to deal with that.
Game fantasy MVP: Michael Vick ran for and threw for 100 yards. But Jerious Norwood, for those lucky enough to have flexed him, broke off a 78-yard score. Honestly, when Warrick Dunn moves on, it won't be a big deal. But six carries, that's why Norwood owners don't know if they can play him, because he doesn't touch the ball enough yet.
LVP: Thanks, Kurt, now grab that clipboard. It's Leinart's turn. Another top 10 quarterback from August bites the dust. And while many of you love Leinart, he'll end up struggling as well. Book it.
Interesting: As good as Vick looked, repeatedly driving the team, he never actually got the team in the end zone. Norwood broke the long one and Warner provided an interception for a score. So you thought the Morten Andersen signing was a joke? Five field goals later (and the team had a sixth), it's clear it's not. Andersen's not a bad fantasy option.
Bills 17, Vikings 12: I called this game correct as well, with each member of the Buffalo big three doing fine, but nothing special. The Vikings should concern fantasy owners a bit, with their lack of offense.
MVP: So Willis McGahee can't put the 150-yard game together with a touchdown effort. So what. He's consistent and under the radar a top 10 back. I'd deal for him.
LVP: Take a look at Chester Taylor and his carries game by game, culminating with today, and it's not a good sign. He started with 31, then it was 24, 20 and Sunday's 10. Yikes. Guess he's no longer a weekly play no brainer.
Interesting: I had to play Brad Johnson in a few leagues, due to bye week issues, and he ended up OK with the yards and one score. But the Vikes' offense has scored one touchdown the last 13 quarters. I won't be playing Johnson next week if I can help it. He's a stopgap for fantasy, and likely, for the Vikings as well.
Cowboys 45, Titans 14: Well, there were two big storylines in this game, as Dallas rolled to a rout (T.O. and Vince). Just wait until Tuesday, after the Eagles play and T.O. starts riling up the Philly phans. And you think you were sick of Terrell Owens this past week?
MVP: Yep, T.O. did just fine, leading the team in receiving yards. And if that finger wasn't broken, maybe he would have caught a touchdown pass (he dropped it). But Terry Glenn is playing far better, and he's the one who hauled in a pair of touchdown passes. And kudos to Julius Jones for a terrific game as well.
LVP: I almost feel bad for Vince Young, being thrown into the fire like this, but you've got to get experience. He'll make some plays, but he's going to be a turnover machine this season.
Interesting: Two things, one of them Mike Vanderjagt, who's not going to be employed by the Tuna all season if he keeps missing 26-yard field goals. The other is, Travis Henry was made an inactive player, which I expect to continue if LenDale White can continue to look promising. Let's see what he does with 20 rushes, OK?
Chiefs 41, 49ers 0: Guess this answers our questions about the 49ers, eh? I like all the talk this week about Michael Robinson, the former Penn State QB who apparently, it was announced, would become the goal-line back. Now how many times did San Fran approach that goal line?
MVP: Some people are probably disappointed that Larry Johnson only rushed for 101 yards. He did score twice! I have to admit, if you had told me he would get 30 carries, I would have expected closer to 200 yards. But numbers are numbers.
LVP: Not a great game for Frank Gore, who began the week as fantasy's No. 2 running back, but won't end it there. But 65 yards isn't nothing. Check out Chester Taylor. But Alex Smith gets the LVP for his 92 yards passing. Um, that was his total. And two picks. I don't want to see him regress, so let's call it a bad day.
Interesting: Nice game if you played the Chiefs defense, not only registering the shutout, but getting the Dante Hall punt return. And for the second straight week, Damon Huard was very accurate. Great stat: first and second-year QBs are 2-18 in their first visit to Arrowhead Stadium.
Colts 31, Jets 28: I watched much of this one, and while I'd like to say I thought the Jets would win, and I rooted for it down the stretch, it was so painfully obvious Peyton Manning would drive the team for a winning score, I even called out "sneak!" before he did it. But how could this game have been this close? Can't blame the Colts' run game, with both backs reaching 75 yards and scoring. Really, it was Peyton who didn't look good, though he did finish with a pair of touchdowns.
MVP: There was little difference between the stats of Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes, but each time Addai breaks even with the veteran, it's a victory for him. Addai ended up with five more carries and caught passes. But stop waiting for him to be the full-time back. It's a timeshare.
LVP: Not much to choose from in a game with 59 points scored. Leon Washington was a popular pickup this week, but he didn't get enough run. How about the Colts' defense, and special teams? Martin Gramatica should be out of work by ... Wednesday.
Interesting: Kevan Barlow is a scoring machine! The guy continues to do little with his carries except score, which I guess is what matters most. In his four games he has scored four touchdowns, but never topped 42 yards! His yards have gone 35, 42, 31 and 35. Good luck against the Jags next week.
Panthers 21, Saints 18: Didn't take long for Carolina to salvage its season. The team is 2-0 with Steve Smith, 0-2 without him. It's not a coincidence. But he's not the game MVP, nor is a Panther. Smith caught 10 passes and still left enough for Keyshawn Johnson to have a decent day.
MVP: Terrific day statistically for Drew Brees and his clear-cut, no doubt about it new fave wide receiver Marques Colston. Brees threw for 349 yards, quite a bit of them on an 86-yarder to Colston, who a lot of people are enjoying as a tight end (he's really a wide receiver). Whatever the case, the Saints are moving the ball through the air when today they didn't do much on the ground.
LVP: OK, so at what point will I stop endorsing Reggie Bush? Probably now as an automatic play, but the kid definitely has skills. Don't trade him for less than value, it's still early. But it's silly to think that four defenses have keyed only on him, and that's why he's struggled rushing. He's got more receiving yards than rushing, and he will be a star. This season.
Interesting: It was a 100-yard game for DeShaun Foster, but I think a bit misleading. Oh, as a Foster owner I'm not complaining, but he broke off a 43-yard touchdown run on his final play to salvage another disappointing performance. He had 62 yards and no scores before that. Remember that when you want to trade for him.
Ravens 16, Chargers 13: Pretty big day for answering questions about certain players, and Philip Rivers really didn't pass the test. He did have a chance to win the game for San Diego in the final minute, though. Maybe he's more of a Ben Roethlisberger type? These are two quality defensive teams fantasy owners should stick with.
MVP: Not too much to like here, with the two quarterbacks barely combining for 300 yards, two of the three touchdown passes going to unowned receivers, and Jamal Lewis regressing. LaDainian Tomlinson did OK, under the circumstances. No Raven had more catches or yards than Todd Heap, so he gets the nod.
LVP: Steve McNair threw two touchdowns, Rivers one. So it has to be Rivers, since he had built up so much momentum. Sure, this is a tough defense, but Rivers still has to topple one.
Interesting: First bad game for Jamal Lewis, who had neatly rushed for between 70 and 86 yards the first three weeks. He's worth sticking with.
Texans 17, Dolphins 15: I predicted this one for the home team, and with David Carr finding Andre Johnson that appears the only way Houston can have success. Of course, is that really the big story of this game from a fantasy angle?
LVP: Let's just start with the Daunte Culpepper story, yet again. Sorry, Culpepper owners, he's just faced Tennessee and Houston and come away with a 1-1 record and little for fantasy. I do think his recovering knee will get stronger as the season goes on, but his next few games are at New England and the Jets. Can't play him there. And while we're at it, should we reassess Ronnie Brown? He was the team's leading receiver, but 49 yards isn't special, and he hasn't scored since Week 1.
MVP: Andre Johnson topped 100 yards for the third time this season, and with 400 yards in four games, well, even non-math majors can figure out that pace.
Interesting: Ron Dayne didn't do much, yet again, but what are the Texans waiting for in giving Samkon Gado significant work? Maybe they're finding that his six carries for nine yards is what he's going to do long term.
Rams 41, Lions 34: Tremendous offensive display, with the Rams scoring five touchdowns, Detroit four. Both quarterbacks moved the ball well. Two Rams receivers topped 100 yards. Each running back was effective. No losers here.
MVP: Marc Bulger should get the nod for his three touchdown passes and 328 yards, but how about that much maligned Kevin Jones? Fantasy owners seem to hate this guy, but he's not playing badly at all, and he scored two more touchdowns Sunday. The next three weeks should be lower scoring games against the Vikings, Bills and Jets, but Jones warrants a play.
LVP: Can't find one. If you keep playing Kevin Curtis, then it should be you. Maybe Roy Williams owners are angry at Mike Furrey for his two touchdowns, while Roy had none, but Roy had a big game nevertheless.
Interesting: The last time Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce each had 100 yards receiving in the same game? It was Week 2 in 2004, a long, long time ago. Also, next Sunday's Lions-Vikings game could get moved to Monday night so as to avoid conflict with a potential Game 5 between the Twins and A's. How does this affect fantasy? Tougher to get a read on questionable players before the Sunday deadline when they have an extra day of prep.
Patriots 38, Bengals 13: Stunning turn of events when it was 6-0 into the second quarter and the announcers kept pointing out how unhappy Tom Brady was. Puh-leeze. Brady wasn't the star of the game, but he kept the team together, as did Reche Caldwell, who somehow got up after that helmet to helmet hit. Pats aren't dead yet. But we're certainly wondering now how the so-called best team in the AFC could get spanked like that at home, aren't we?
MVP: Laurence Maroney will do great things this season regardless of how many carries Corey Dillon gets. The Patriots realize they have a potentially special running back, but Dillon can still play. It's true that Dillon only got his touchdown because the Pats made him get it, repeatedly giving him the ball at the one until he crossed it on fourth down, whereas Maroney might have scored two or three plays earlier. So what. Make 'em both happy, the team is 3-1 now. Maroney rushed for 125 yards and scored twice. Dillon got to show off for the franchise that couldn't have cared less when he was forced to bolt.
LVP: I kept waiting for Carson Palmer to throw a touchdown pass, but he never did. He did move the team and I remain unconcerned about his ride to being one of the top three quarterbacks in fantasy this season. I still do, however, have concerns that Brady will get there.
Interesting: Those who played Chris Henry should have sat him down, since the ESPN football experts told you Sunday morning he was likely to be rendered inactive for his off-field transgressions during the week. Henry would have been a worthy fantasy play. He should be worth it after the bye week, assuming he stays out of trouble.
Browns 24, Raiders 21: How did the Raiders get out to a 21-3 lead in the second quarter and then cough the game away? That's irrelevant for our purposes; what really matters is that a first round pick you figured was a bust had a big game. The Raiders scored an offensive touchdown! Boy, they really do need Aaron Brooks back, don't they?
MVP: Critical game for LaMont Jordan and his owners, and Jordan came through with 128 yards and a score, getting nearly half his yards on one play. Misleading? Maybe a little, since Jordan and his pals did nothing in the second half, but he will be a worthy play at San Francisco next Sunday.
LVP: Andrew Walter would clearly get the nod, somehow finishing with a lame 68 yards, but unless you actually own him, which I'm guessing very few of you do, you don't care. You do, however care about the wide receiver who was formerly a first round pick. Randy Moss scored a touchdown, but that five-yarder was his lone catch. It's sad.
Interesting: How bout some love for the Brownies? Hey, I had Charlie Frye active in one league, and Reuben Droughns (100 yards, but of course, no scores) in another. I think Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow are weekly plays at this point. The Browns just won their first game, but this offense is kind of underrated, no? Could you play Frye at Carolina next week, knowing what Brees did Sunday to the Panthers? Cleveland's got weapons!
Redskins 36, Jaguars 30: I don't see how anyone could have seen this offensive outburst coming, I just don't. Byron Leftwich hadn't played well. Mark Brunell hadn't done anything in a game not involving the Texans defense. Santana Moss just embarrassed a terrific defense for three touchdowns. There's no way he or Clinton Portis should've been sat, but everyone else, they probably were. That means a lot of people had points rotting on their bench.
MVP: For the second straight season, the best fantasy Moss plays on the East coast. Santana Moss only caught four passes, but he scored on three. Portis ran hard again and topped 100 yards, on his way to a 1,500-yard season again, at least. Amazing back and forth game.
LVP: Except for this guy, Fred Taylor, who delivered a brutal statistical game reminiscent of that negative yard day he had last year at Tennessee while he was hurt. The Jags basically abandoned the run in the second half, so Taylor couldn't recover. His backup Maurice Jones-Drew did not pass him on the depth chart, however. He did break a short pass for a long touchdown, but he was stopped running the ball as well.
Interesting: Drew Bledsoe, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning had combined for two touchdown passes and five interceptions against the mighty Jacksonville defense the first three games. So how does, who the Jags deemed done in 2003, throw for 329 and three scores? Consider it one of those days and be wary of starting most of your Jets next Sunday. OK, that's it for Sunday's early games. We'll cover the Seahawks-Bears and Monday night's battle in another blog.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/30/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/30/06)

Oct. 2, 2006, 9:29 PM
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Engel: Week 4 wrapup


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Here's a quick-hitting recap of key performances and news from the fourth week of the NFL season, complete with in-depth fantasy analysis.
Warner done as a starter: After the Cardinals dropped their third consecutive game, head coach Dennis Green confirmed rookie Matt Leinart will be his starter next week against Kansas City. Warner's early-season struggles continued, as he fumbled twice, losing one, and was intercepted once before Leinart replaced him with 13 minutes remaining in a loss to Atlanta. Leinart also a lost a fumble and threw an interception. Meanwhile, the numbers of the top Arizona wide receivers continued to be disappointing, as Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin combined for 108 receiving yards and neither scored. Leinart does have a lot of promise, but his experience, plus the continued shaky pass protection of the offensive line, could really continue to hurt the Cardinals' offense in the weeks ahead. Fitzgerald and Boldin might look like risky starters because of the QB change. But it's clear the Cardinals are going to play from behind often, which means Leinart should throw to them quite often in the weeks ahead, and Fitzgerald and Boldin remain top starting options. Leinart is too unproven to use as a fantasy starter, but he is a smart, young QB and worth adding as a reserve if you need QB help in a league of 12 of more teams.
Miami Dullfin: For the second consecutive week, the Dolphins' passing game mostly sputtered against what seemed like a favorable opponent. Last week, Miami looked unimpressive at home against the Titans, and in their Sunday matchup with the normally vulnerable Texans, Daunte Culpepper endured the same old problems that have plagued him throughout the early weeks. Culpepper was sacked five times and pressured often, even though he frequently worked out of the shotgun. Culpepper threw for 249 yards, but tossed only one late TD pass. Chris Chambers did catch that scoring toss, but finished with only three catches for 28 yards. If Culpepper can't deliver more than 13 fantasy points against the Texans, he should be pinned to your bench until further notice. Culpepper's performance was proof that some players simply shouldn't be used as a starter because they have a friendly matchup.
The Indianapolis duo: It doesn't appear that a clear leader will emerge for the Colts' No. 1 RB job anytime soon. Both veteran Dominic Rhodes and rookie Joseph Addai played well in the Colts' thrilling 31-28 win over the Jets. Addai scored the first rushing TD of his pro career, and finished with 99 total yards from scrimmage. Rhodes scored on a six-yard run, his third rushing TD of the season. He continues to be a dependable short-yardage back for the Colts despite a smallish frame that has been vulnerable to injuries in the past. Addai hasn't quite blossomed to the level expected yet, and Rhodes is continuing to be dependable for the Colts in many key situations. Both are decent flex options. Addai should eventually become the clear starter, but that might not happen anytime soon. The Indy RBs look like they are headed for a time share for many weeks ahead.
Owens draws attention: Despite all the controversy he attracts off the field, what is important to fantasy owners is all the attention Terrell Owens draws when he is on the field. Owens was able to play with a plate on his broken hand, yet he still caught five passes for 88 yards. That's encouraging for owners of Owens, but Terry Glenn's fantasy owners enjoyed watching him score as Owens drew extra defenders and Glenn faced single coverage. A fine passing game also opened up the running game, as Julius Jones rushed for 122 yards and a TD, and Marion Barber and Tyson Thompson also scored. Like him or not, when Dallas has Owens, it gives the offense more balance. A minor concern, though, is that Bledsoe threw for just 179 yards and was intercepted once by Tennesssee, not the most formidable opponent. Bledsoe did throw two TD passes, but his owners might have expected better numbers is a seemingly favorable matchup, and Bledsoe certainly isn't a surefire top starter with Owens in the lineup.
Kansas City surprise: No one expected the Chiefs to dominate the 49ers like they did, especially with Damon Huard running the Kansas City offense. But Huard proved he can manage a game respectably, and put the ball where his receivers can make plays and do more work for him. Huard stunned the Niners with 208 passing yards, two TDs and no interceptions. Eddie Kennison showed he is still a viable starter with Trent Green out, as he caught six passes for 86 yards, including a 34-yard TD reception. And further pleasing owners of Larry Johnson, Huard performed well enough to keep the Niners from keying on Johnson too often. Johnson relieved his owners of any major concerns, as he scored his first two rushing TDs of the season and finished with 142 yards from scrimmage. There are no real reasons to worry about Johnson, as Huard has proved he can keep defenses honest, at least when the matchup is right.
They left their hearts in San Francisco: The 49ers seemed to be in a funk that lingered from their decisive loss to the Eagles last week. Very early in the year, it appeared Frank Gore was ready to become a top fantasy RB, and Alex Smith was quickly starting to emerge as a respectable fantasy option. Fumbling problems and injuries have lowered Gore's appeal a bit recently. Gore lost yet another fumble in the loss at Kansas City, and finished with only 65 rushing yards. While his yards per carry continue to look good (he carried 14 times), Gore hasn't been dependable for the Niners, and he doesn't appear to be quite the lock as a No. 2 fantasy starter he was two weeks ago. Smith was awful under the pressure of playing from behind, as he threw for only 92 yards, threw two interceptions, and fumbled once. Smith should only be used as an emergency bye week option until he proves himself further.
Kevin Jones rises again: Where do we draw the line with this guy? First, we thought he was a future fantasy standout, and he let us down. By this season, many of us had given up on him, and here comes Jones looking like an improved all-around player and tougher runner. Jones has now rushed for three TDs in his past two games, including two scores on Sunday in an exciting contest at St. Louis. One of Jones' scoring runs was a pretty 35-yarder in which he showed off strength, quickness and big-play ability. So is Jones suddenly looking like a must-start fantasy option again? I wouldn't recommend him as a top starter and would still consider benching him in a tough matchup, but it's apparent he can at least deliver respectable totals, even if he will never be as explosive as some experts once thought. He'll be a solid, but unspectacular fantasy RB.
Patriot party: Two New England players had major performances of note in a somewhat stunning rout of the Bengals. RB Laurence Maroney had a breakthrough performance, rushing for 125 yards and two TDs. He had a long run of 41 yards and one of his scores came on a 25-yard run. Maroney was stuffed at times in the first half, but eventually, he showed he was a great package of vision, toughness, and nifty moves, plus a very effective stiff arm in the open field. Even though Maroney doesn't start, he gets enough touches to be an outstanding flex player and a fine starting option as a No. 2 RB when the matchup is right. Doug Gabriel, who showed flashes of promise as a deep receiver in Oakland in the past, caught a TD pass from Tom Brady for the second consecutive week. He has quickly emerged as a Brady favorite and should be a regular No. 3 starter as a fantasy wide receiver.
Reggie's for real: He's no longer a bust. Reggie Williams has definitely become Jacksonville's best wide receiver from a fantasy perspective. Williams had been a major disappointment until this year, and then showed some signs of possibly improving in the preseason and at the very beginning of the 2006 season. But Williams totaled only eight receiving yards against the Colts last week, and doubts started to surface about him again. But Williams, who had heard knocks about dropped passes and the inability to absorb big hits, made some important grabs against the Redskins. He finished with 93 receiving yards on five receptions, including TD catches of 33 and 21 yards. On one of the scoring passes, Williams took a hard hit, but still scored. It's time to believe in Williams and give him regular starting consideration. Redskins revival: I must admit, the performance of Mark Brunell last week, in which he completed a record-setting 22 passes, didn't really impress me. Many of Brunell's completions were of the flat and underneath variety against a rather soft Houston defense. Little did I know the game against Washington would propel Brunell to a truly impressive performance against a much better opponent. Brunell threw for 329 yards and three TDs, and was intercepted just once by his former team. All of his TD tosses were to Santana Moss, who finished with 138 receiving yards on just four catches. Moss had not scored in the first three games, but quelled some worries about a mediocre start. I'd still like to see one more quality performance from Brunell before I'm fully sold on him again, but he has at least regained my backing as a quality fantasy reserve. But it appears the Redskins' receiving corps might finally starting to become more comfortable with each other as a unit, and the rumored threats of Brunell possibly getting benched have pumped some new life back into him, at least temporarily.
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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 9/30/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 9/30/06)

Oct. 2, 2006, 1:46 PM
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Week 5: Injured defenders make a difference


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By Jason Langendorf
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Most years a handful of surprises among fantasy defense/special teams units shakes up the rankings and allows commitment-shy owners to play the field for a while before settling down.
But with most of the NFL's projected top defenses chugging along as expected and the Seahawks, Bengals and Falcons approaching Week 5 byes, the pickings are fairly slim a month into the season. Under the circumstances, a normally viable unit's value could hinge on a seemingly minor flaw -- say, a single player injury. Here are four to consider moving forward:
Panthers LB Dan Morgan
Morgan has been sidelined since a concussion knocked him out of the Atlanta game in Week 1. It stands to reason that Carolina missed the speedy Morgan when the D was rung up for 252 rushing yards by the Falcons and, a week later, was gouged by Minnesota for 140.
<TABLE class=text11 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=300 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER width="8" height="1" type="block"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>FIVE DEFENSES WORTH KEEPING 1. Seahawks: Don't sell high. Chicago was just a bad game, and the remaining schedule is as good as it gets.
2. Falcons: The rushing and red-zone D have been insanely good. The sack and turnover numbers will only get better.
3. Cowboys: The early schedule masks how effective the D has been, and the return teams have punch.
4. Vikings: Three brutal matchups have prevented this unit from unlocking its playmaking potential. Temporarily.
5. Saints: Carolina punked their run D, but some playmakers and a ball-control offense make them deep sleepers.
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But there's more to the story. The Panthers still are adjusting to a front line that includes a pair of 340-pound rhinos (DTs Kris Jenkins and Maake Kemoeatu) and a linebacker corps that is missing unheralded star LB Will Witherspoon. The Falcons snuck up on the Panthers with their spread option attack in the opener, and Carolina mistakes allowed the Vikings to hang around and run it 35 times in Week 2. WR Steve Smith's hamstring injury, which bogged down the Panthers' offense and prompted an unusual number of three-and-outs, probably was more damaging to the defense than losing one of its own would have been.
Carolina has little depth behind Morgan, but this isn't the first time the team has been forced to carry on without him. LB Adam Seward limits what the Panthers can do in their cover 2, but his strength and in-line speed make him more than serviceable as Morgan's replacement on running downs. The Panthers have allowed opponents fewer rushing yards every week, holding Tampa Bay and New Orleans to 64 and 63 yards, respectively. More sacks and takeaways are sure to come, especially with Cleveland and Baltimore up next.
Colts DT Corey Simon
Last season, after an acrimonious split with Philadelphia, Simon joined Indianapolis and quietly keyed a much-improved run defense despite being in pretty sloppy shape. Trimmed down and with the benefit of a training camp with the Colts, he was supposed to be the anvil inside that changed transformed this defense from an opportunistic vulture of a unit into a legitimate predator.
But a slow recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery performed just before the start of the regular season has put Simon out of rotation -- and left the Colts' run D spinning its wheels. Depth isn't bad, but Indy's front seven probably is the NFL's lightest and certainly doesn't hold up well to punishing power run games. Even less-than-punishing ground attacks (the Texans' and Jets') have topped 100 yards against the Colts, wearing down linebacker-size DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis and denying this unit big-play chances.
I doubt Simon can turn the tide on his own. His size and interior penetration can force opposing backs wide and put the rangy Colts defenders in chase mode, instead of into so many take-on situations. But Simon tends to wear down even on his best days, and the injury layoff might mean he'll be wheezing through another season in poor condition. The Colts will feast on opponents with weak run games, crummy offensive lines and/or inexperienced quarterbacks (hey there, Tennessee), but a post-Week 6 bye barrage of Washington, Denver and New England should force fantasy owners to seek alternatives.
Eagles CB Lito Sheppard
Though he went to the Pro Bowl last season, Sheppard might be only the third-best cornerback on his own team. Fellow starter CB Sheldon Brown is unquestionably Philadelphia's top cover man, and even CB Roderick Hood was pushing the overrated Sheppard before the latter suffered a nasty ankle injury in Week 1.
Still, Sheppard's experience can't be overstated, especially in a scheme that routinely puts stomach-turning pressure on the corners to hold up in man-to-man coverage. He isn't perfect -- Sheppard is undersized and takes too many chances -- but he gives coordinator Jim Johnson enough peace of mind to blitz like a madman. The Eagles' front four is putting steady heat on quarterbacks, even without DE Jevon Kearse, but the team will need extra rushers when some of its upcoming opponents (most likely Dallas, Tampa Bay and Washington) lean on max-protect schemes to keep their passers clean.
Sheppard reportedly practiced Saturday and was considered likely to play against Green Bay in the Monday night game. Hood and safeties Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis also were dealing with injuries, so even Sheppard's return won't ensure that Eagles opponents are kept in lockdown. But thanks to Johnson's aggressiveness and a series of upcoming matchups against iffy offensive lines, expect this unit to make a lot more plays than it gives up.
Redskins CB Shawn Springs
A groin injury has delayed the start of Springs' season and pared down the blitz packages of pressure-obsessed coordinator Gregg Williams. It went largely unnoticed, but Springs had a fantastic 2005 season -- maybe a career best -- that helped give Williams the freedom to send linebackers, safeties and, occasionally, other cornerbacks after opposing quarterbacks.
As far as we're concerned, though, even a healthy Springs might not be enough to salvage Washington's defense. The Redskins' 35 sacks in '05 ranked in the bottom half of the league. The team regularly pressured opponents, but it lacked finishers who contributed enough to fantasy owners' bottom line. On the whole, this unit is old, thin and lacks the same experience and discipline that departed LB Antonio Pierce helped instill -- and that is crucial to the success of the scheme.
Washington's offense is roping the D into more shootouts, and the secondary has holes that can be exploited. CB Kenny Wright is often overmatched at nickelback, and he's a sitting duck filling in for Springs in the starting lineup. Safeties Sean Taylor and Adam Archuleta are playmakers, but their aggressiveness gets them into trouble against a hard play fake or a good double move. Tennessee (Week 6) has some potential, but I don't see another start-worthy matchup for the Redskins' D/ST until at least Week 11, against Tampa Bay.
TWO CENTS, AND THEN SOME ...
I know he's been a nightmare, but I still think folks who sell QB Daunte Culpepper low will be sorry. He's in a funk, and I can't fully explain his too-frequent hesitation within the offense. But I'll bet he comes around as his mobility returns, he gets more comfortable in the scheme and coordinator Mike Mularkey figures out what plays suit Culpepper best. ... Repeat after me: Rookie fantasy running backs good, rookie fantasy quarterbacks bad. If you're ignoring RBs Maurice Jones-Drew, DeAngelo Williams and Jerious Norwood to chase QBs Vince Young and Matt Leinart in your league, you can't be helped.
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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 10/2/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/2/06)

Tuesday, October 3, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Running Into Trouble


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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 -->Prior to this week, Brian Westbrook's knee and Ahman Green's hamstring weren't enough of an issue to keep them out of action. In fact, Westbrook looked like the ultimate exception to my fantasy rule that I always go with the healthy player over the injured guy. Westbrook had played through his injury issues early in the year, twice when he was listed as questionable, and he played very well.
But Westbrook was held out of Monday night's game against the Packers, and if you left him in your lineup for this week expecting him to vault you to a victory, you lost the gamble. Green, whose 2005 season was ruined by a quadriceps issue, missed the game as well, a week after he had played and delivered respectable fantasy totals against the Lions.
So how do you avoid getting whacked with another big zero on a Monday night, especially when there are bye weeks and a usual lack of quality talent on the free agent list this year? The apparent lesson learned on Monday night is you have to stay conservative. A player listed as questionable or a game-time decision is a boom-or-bust option that simply shouldn't be risked. Yes, Westbrook might play through the problem in his next game, and could explode again. But there's a nearly equal chance you'll get a zero if he sits out. You simply can't risk not getting any points at all.
Green isn't capable of producing great fantasy numbers anymore, so it's not worth the gamble at all if he isn't listed as probable. At least with Westbrook, he could have a big day if he plays. Green's best years are clearly behind him, and you could have players on your bench that might give you close to his production in any given week. To avoid such situations in the future, you have to make the commitment to avoid the questionable or game-time decision guy before Monday night. Put in a healthier starter and you'll know your fate by Sunday night, instead of sweating until Monday night.
Having the handcuff to a player like Westbrook and Green isn't always an ideal answer, either. The Eagles' running game was clearly much less effective without Westbrook last night, and Correll Buckhalter didn't look like the same player he was in the preseason. Vernand Morency played respectably, but for every decent Morency performance, there will be an overall stinker like Buckhalter (49 rushing yards, one lost fumble and a botched exchange) when you use a reserve who hasn't seen much game action. It's another gamble you should try to avoid. Adding the backups to an injured guy is always a great move, but depending on them when they haven't done much yet this season is another story.
The best answer to solving the issue, especially when it creeps up on a Monday night, is to have a decent backup who should get some touches and won't force you to decide between Green and Morency at 7:30 on a Monday night. If you can use a Maurice Jones-Drew or Jerious Norwood on a Sunday instead, that's a better option than hoping Green might play or his backup will be effective. Don't put the fate of your team into a game-time decision that could backfire as it did this week. Make sure you have running back depth that is just more than your handcuff players. Making a minor trade to get a good possible emergency starter isn't a major move, but it could be a critical one at any time. <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
When teams don't have their top running backs, it obviously affects their quarterbacks, so also keep that in mind when making difficult lineup decisions in the future. If you're deciding between Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb, or Brett Favre and Rex Grossman, the guy that has the better matchup often gets the call, but a key injury to a running back can also help you make a more educated decision. Without Westbrook, the Eagles didn't have a reliable ground attack, and their passing game sputtered in the first half. Against a better defense than Green Bay's, the Eagles could have struggled all night long, but McNabb simply attacked the vulnerable Packers' secondary with more deep throws in the second half and ultimately ran the ball himself to put the game out of reach. Against a more formidable opponent, Philadelphia won't necessarily be able to abandon the running game without Westbrook and succeed. McNabb's numbers could suffer in future games without Westbrook. As for Favre, the Eagles didn't seem threatened by Morency, who played just as well as Green could have if he were available. Green doesn't run much harder than Morency these days, but he still commands more respect from opposing defenses because of his past reputation. Philadelphia clearly came into Monday night's game ready to take away the deep ball and get pressure up front to protect their injury-depleted defensive backfield. Defending the running game seemed to be a secondary concern, as Morency simply wasn't perceived as a major threat to the defense. Favre threw no TD passes and was intercepted twice, as he had to throw the ball in most key situations. Without its top running back and a formidable backup that can actually conjure up major defensive concerns (such as DeAngelo Williams or Michael Turner), teams become more predictable on offense and throw more often. Matt Hasselbeck was certainly very predictable in how he was going to move the ball on Sunday night. Maurice Morris doesn't strike fear into the hearts of most defenses. A missing No. 1 RB can often mean a more difficult outing for the QB.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Vernand Morency, RB, Packers
26 carries, 99 yards, 0 TD

We got our first good look at what Morency can do in extensive action on Monday night. There had been flashes of big-play promise in the preseason with Houston. Then there was praise from the Green Bay coaching staff about how well Morency fit in with their new zone-blocking system after playing in a similar style of running the ball with the Texans this year before he was traded. Morency added 19 receiving yards, and his final numbers weren't bad at all. He displayed good vision, quick feet, and some cutback moves and the willingness to work for extra yards. But he is only an adequate inside runner, and the Green Bay offensive line isn't going to open the holes necessary for him to use his speed. Ahman Green might not be able to bust loose for many big runs anymore because his best years are behind him. Morency simply has to battle hard for yardage when he plays, because his offensive line will often lose many wars at the line of scrimmage. Morency was stuffed on four consecutive one-yard runs to finish the game. You can blame his blockers for not getting the proper push. Morency might deliver decent totals again if he is pressed into action, so keep him on your roster or acquire him if you have Green. He would likely produce better numbers on a better team, but he is a decent plug-in if you know in advance Green isn't going to start for sure. If Green is a game-time decision, using another RB is usually a better option to avoid the headaches.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 4</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Great time to buy low on him after disappointing outing</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>245</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders: Not a must-start, but can still produce in friendly matchups</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>20</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>128</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>13</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>21</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>Mike Furrey, WR, Lions: Burned his old team, but still has more to prove</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>82</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</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>Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins: Still no TDs, but had an encouraging outing</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>70</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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


Names Makin' News
? Frank Gore has now fumbled in four consecutive games. But Mike Nolan told the San Francisco Chronicle that Gore will keep his starting job. Gore has a very friendly matchup against Oakland coming up in the fifth week.
? According to the Bengals' website, Chad Johnson confirmed that the shoulder injury that caused him to leave Sunday's game was to his right shoulder, which he injured in the second game. Johnson was able to return, and the injury does not appear to be serious.
? Donte' Stallworth had to leave Monday night's game because of a lingering hamstring problem. He caught only one pass for 26 yards before he left the game.
? Reggie Brown left Monday night's game in the third quarter after re-injuring his right shoulder. With both Philadelphia's top wide receivers hurting, Greg Lewis caught two TD passes against Green Bay. ? Monday | <A href="http://insider.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/OutOfTheBox?gameDate=20060928">Friday | 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 10/2/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/2/06)

Oct. 3, 2006, 1:48 PM
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Carroll: Favre, Westbrook injuries analyzed


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By Will Carroll
ESPN Fantasy Games

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With so much going on this week -- great football matchups, the start of the baseball playoffs, and "The Fantasy Show" -- I was looking forward to what looked like a light week. I'd love to have one week where no one was injured, where the conduct of the game didn't lead to broken bones and torn ligaments. The crux of my work is that the sport is made better by keeping the best talent available. Too many games are lost to injury, something that is often preventable or at least reducible. The "Monday Night Football" slugfest changed all that, populating my report today with more than enough injuries to keep things hopping.
So, let's get to it:
If I understood Joe and Tony last night on "MNF," Packers quarterback Brett Favre has some sort of consecutive game streak going. Of course, I might also think that Brett Favre saved the game, defeated the Germans, and blew back a hurricane with his powerful right arm if I didn't use the TiVo to rewind to make sure I heard them right. Favre is human and actually showed it when he left Monday's game with a stinger. Michelle Tafoya did a great job of explaining that while the Packers were calling it a head injury, Favre was pointing to his shoulder. Both were right; Favre had a "stretch" stinger. As I detailed last week with Corey Dillon, a stinger occurs when the nerve bundle that comes through the shoulder and arm is either stretched or compressed. When Favre was hit in the head, it moved far enough to stretch the nerves. It's not considered serious and, like Dillon, Favre is fully expected to be back on the field next week.
Packers running back Ahman Green is dealing with a hamstring strain serious enough to keep him off the field Monday, but is this in any way related to his quad problems from last season? The answer is likely yes. The quad and hamstring are opposing muscles, the body's form of push and pull. When there is any significant imbalance in the strength of these muscles, there's an increased chance for injury. Strength coaches watch for these type of imbalances, altering workouts to keep this from happening, but rehab can change who is watching and what a player is able to do. Slight alterations in gait from any leg injury can result in cascading problems, the stage thatGreen appears to be. While Green's hamstring strain is considered moderate, expect him on the long end of the expected recovery as the team attempts to make sure the next cascade is prevented.
The Packers also seem to be without WR Robert Ferguson. The No. 3 WR left last night's game with a foot injury, something some reports are saying could be a fracture. Ferguson was injured on a return, but as yet, there are no solid reports of a diagnosis. This is definitely an injury to look for later this week, since the Packers are likely awaiting a reduction in swelling in order to get good images. The emergence of Greg Jennings has pushed Ferguson down most fantasy lists, but this should mean even more targets for Jennings and Donald Driver, especially in absence of a credible running game.
The knee is grinding. That's the simplest explanation for what's going on with Eagles running back Brian Westbrook. While Eagles coach Andy Reid said at his post-game presser that the team is unsure of the exact cause for Westbrook's swollen, painful knee, the MNF crew gave us a good clue with their video of Westbrook warming up before calling it a day. Westbrook would run, stop and "stretch" out the knee. What he was doing wasn't stretching; he was taking pressure off the knee. Clearly from these shots, Westbrook is in pain even from light running and weight bearing. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, this is the type of thing that becomes a management situation, but this is descending quickly. Even a week off isn't giving Westbrook time to heal and get back to an effective state. I spoke with doctors about the possible causes and, currently, we don't have enough information to make a distant diagnosis. It is clear that Westbrook is going to be a very risky RB to have on your fantasy team. When healthy, he's a stud, but it's impossible to say when or how often he'll be that healthy.
Donovan McNabb ran more last night, not just because Correll Buckhalter mixed up the stick-um and the butter. By the end of the game, he was down a couple receivers, leaving his best option as himself. McNabb lost Donte' Stallworth early in the game after Stallworth's hamstring began to tighten up again. Stallworth already was limited, showing hesitation as he made any sort of cut or stop. The Eagles also lost Reggie Brown later in the game after he reinjured his right shoulder on a tackle out of bounds. Brown sprained his shoulder on the play, a recurrence of his injury from Week 3. The injury is threatening to become chronic, so watch to see when Brown returns from practice this week.
The Eagles DBs were already beat up going into the game and they come out even worse. Lito Sheppard and Roderick Hood were out and the rest of the available players seemed to drop like flies throughout the game. Sean Considine got the best of a big collision, but his initial reactions to the hit showed that he's still feeling that back problem. Brian Dawkins was slow to get up a few times while Michael Lewis, the only healthy guy back there, was having a field day on Favre's errant passes. The short week should be a big negative for getting this crew healthy, something that has to have Dallas thinking that Terry Glenn and -- oh that other guy, his name escapes me -- could have a big day in Philly this Sunday.
I'm hoping that K.C. Joyner gets a chance to take a look at Steve Smith's game tape this week. Smith gets most of his value from YAC and to this untrained eye, it appeared that he was getting more separation from the coverage this week than he was last. This makes sense, given Smith's report that he was "coasting" at "75 percent or so" last week. If Smith can be this productive at less than full-go and manage to avoid a recurrence of the hamstring strains that kept him on the bench until Week 3, he'll have plenty of time to defend his title of No. 1 overall fantasy WR. The big news on the injury front is that Smith reported no soreness after the game. The longer he goes without a recurrence, the better. By Week 8 or so, we should be able to forget this happened.
Here's one for you to try at home. Stand up straight, and then fall to your side. Land solidly on your shoulder. Now, do it again. Take a couple more hits to your shoulder. How does it feel? Probably much like Chad Johnson's shoulder. Johnson took another hard shot to the shoulder making a "tiptoe" catch on the sidelines. While not serious in and of itself, Johnson did virtually the same thing last week. These shots do add up in addition to the normal hits any WR takes during a tackle or even blocking. Adding this to the uncertain future of Chris Henry makes one take a hard look at just how valuable Bengals like Carson Palmer and Rudi Johnson will be over the next few weeks.
The Jets left last weekend's heartbreaking loss minus one of their RB trio. Cedric Houston left the game on a cart, unable to put any weight on his knee. Houston was injured near the goal line when Dwight Freeney dove through low and struck his planted foot, hyperextending the knee. While Freeney's hit wasn't intended to hurt Houston, it's a hit that would be looked at much more seriously if it had been to a QB. Sources tell me that Houston left the game on crutches with a "huge knee." I'll assume that means significant swelling. The Jets haven't given any indication as to the severity, but imaging tests are likely to be the key to this one.
The Jets are also quiet on what happened with Laveranues Coles. On that "Stanford Band" play at the end of the game, Coles was seen thrashing about in pain after being slung to the ground by a couple Colts defenders. There was no good look at Coles just after the play, but his reaction -- flailing his arms and legs -- gives us some information. Players in any sport tend to grab at the injured part to protect and stabilize it. It's instinctual and informative. Coles was clearly in severe pain for at least a short time, making me think that he landed on something, perhaps his tailbone. Keep an eye to make sure this isn't as transient as the Jets want us to think when Coles returns to practice -- or doesn't. Any limitation for Coles would cut severely into Chad Pennington's value.
The Ravens might be 4-0, but they're starting to appear vulnerable due to injury. The biggest injury they have is to OG Edwin Mulitalo, who tore his triceps during Sunday's win over San Diego. Mulitalo is done for the season and likely headed for surgery. The triceps is key for any lineman since its function is to push. Surgery has a high success rate for this type of problem so it's likely that Mulitalo can return in 2007.
The kickoff collision between the Lions' Frank Davis and the Rams' Paul Smith was one of the most violent you'll ever see. In fact, I was reminded that the NCAA exists because the flying wedge kickoff return was killing players in the pre-helmet era. I can see how given the carnage in the collision at the start of the second half, sending both players to the hospital (and ironically, to the same hospital room, according to the Detroit Free-Press.) Both players should be OK, but watching Smith spit blood as he walked off the field is just another reminder that there's a fine line between ending up in this column and ending up in the obituaries. Bumps and Bruises: Don't get too excited about new Tampa QB Bruce Gradkowski. The Bucs have Luke McCown coming off the PUP list after Week 6. ? John Abraham gets the bye at just the right time. He'll be back on the Falcons' defensive front in two weeks. ? Ravens tackle Orlando Pace is still feeling the effects of the concussion, leaving him questionable at this stage for next week's game. ? Jaguars receiver Matt Jones also will use the bye to heal up, though his de facto absence really has opened the door for one-time bust Reggie Williams. ? Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri insists he could have kicked on Sunday, but was held out by the coaching staff due to wet conditions at the Meadowlands. The concern is still with his plant ankle, so this is lingering. ... Leigh Bodden missed much of the Browns' game on Sunday with a sprained ankle. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer questioned if Bodden had a high ankle sprain, something that would crush the Browns' pass coverage coming into a game with the Panthers
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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 10/2/06)

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Oct. 3, 2006, 3:21 PM
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Week 5: Waiver Wire Work


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, we help improve your fantasy outlook 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
Charlie Frye, QB, Browns (owned in 13.9 percent of ESPN leagues): Trying to find a decent fantasy backup quarterback isn't an easy thing these days, especially in larger leagues. Frye is strictly a pickup for depth, but he can certainly give you decent fantasy numbers when the matchup is right. He now has Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Joe Jurevicius to throw to. Frye threw three TD passes against Oakland and he's a good add if you've been suffering with Daunte Culpepper or Ben Roethlisberger to this point, and need another option. Frye has more experience than Matt Leinart or Vince Young, and you should simply have him in case your starter gets injured or you need a bye week fill-in and there isn't much else out there. Home dates against the Broncos and Jets in the seventh and eighth week of the season could produce adequate totals if his running game holds up. He threw for 298 yards at home against Baltimore, so don't dismiss him. I'd rather have Frye than a rookie QB or an unproven risk like Andrew Walter.
Jerious Norwood, RB, Falcons (25.9 percent owned): His 78-yard TD run against Arizona was another eye-opener, and he should be a hot pickup this week. There is talk coming out of Atlanta that the Falcons want to get Norwood more carries, but you should take a wait-and-see approach before starting him. Norwood hasn't carried more than 10 times in a game yet. The upside is certainly apparent, as Norwood's fine preseason led to T.J. Duckett being shipped out of town. He's a fine addition, but don't consider putting him into your starting lineup until his workload increases. One long run against a bad defense isn't enough to use him over a more dependable player yet. Like Leon Washington of the Jets (1.5 percent owned), Norwood has a lot of promise, but isn't guaranteed touches.
Vernand Morency, RB, Packers: (6.6 percent owned): If Ahman Green continues to battle a hamstring problem or other injury problems, Morency will be the main man for the Packers. He isn't going to produce terrific fantasy totals, because the Green Bay offensive line fights an uphill battle on every play. But Morency has good vision, and uses his quickness and smarts to gain necessary yardage in some key situations. Morency won't be able to get loose to display his speed often behind a shaky line, but he's not afraid to fight for yards and he's comfortable in the Packers' zone-blocking rushing offense. Morency is by no means an ideal fantasy starter. But if Green continues to miss games, Morency will make a decent flex player and decent bye week or injury replacement.
Mike Furrey, WR, Lions (1.6 percent owned): The former defensive back understands Mike Martz's offense, because he spent the first two seasons of his career in St. Louis. That gave him an advantage over players with bigger name value who simply couldn't grasp the schemes or execute them properly, such as Mike Williams and Charles Rogers. When Corey Bradford didn't fit in as expected, either, Furrey stepped in and showed he can be a good emergency possession target. He really stepped up his game against his former team this past Sunday, catching eight passes for 82 yards and two TDs. Furrey still must prove he can post respectable fantasy totals on a regular basis, but he's worth adding if the Rams game proves to be a springboard to a surprisingly productive season.
Doug Gabriel, WR, Patriots (9.9 percent owned): He's quickly becoming Tom Brady's favorite new target, so snatch him up now. Gabriel is clearly the best mix of talent and experience that New England has at wide receiver. He has caught 10 balls and scored twice in the past two games. Gabriel showed occasional big-play promise in the past with the Raiders. Gabriel will be facing several teams in the weeks ahead that he can get deep on, and he should be a regular scoring threat for many weeks to come. The Dolphins, Jets, Colts and Packers are among the teams Gabriel might burn in the upcoming weeks. Not only is he a must-add player, you should consider putting him in your starting lineup immediately if you have been struggling to find another quality option at wide receiver.
PRIME CUTS
Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals (94.2 percent owned): His fumbling problems and overall inefficiency have caused him to lose his job to a young QB again. Some experts assumed Warner would have a good year because he had a few quality statistical outings in terms of yardage last year. But that was when the Cardinals had even less of a running game than they do now, and Arizona played from behind in many of those performances. Now, the Cardinals are more interested in winning with a possibly more balanced offense or building for the future, instead of flinging the ball endlessly in the air in futile attempts to keep up with the opposition. If Warner can't lead the Cardinals to wins now, then Leinart will get his chance to learn in game action while the team builds for the future. Warner could be stuck to the bench for awhile.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bears (77.3 percent owned): Unless you play in a keeper league, you will be waiting, and waiting, and waiting for him to take over the starting job. And that's clearly not going to happen any time soon. The Bears have a formula for great success right now, and that obviously doesn't include Benson as anything more than an occasional ball carrier. Thomas Jones turned up the level of his play in the statement win over Seattle, and he has clearly distanced himself from Benson in the race for playing time. Don't waste a spot on your bench with Benson that you could be using on a more statistically productive player.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: (54.9 percent owned): He hasn't been a goal-line force so far, with just one TD run in the Giants' first three games. He's also not an obvious or fully necessary handcuff to Tiki Barber, who has shown no apparent signs of wearing down yet. The Giants will also not hesitate to throw the ball in the red zone. Jacobs isn't getting enough important touches to help most fantasy teams, even as a reserve. Players like Benson and Jacobs have name value, but you can't afford to wait for them to produce up to their potential. It might not happen this season at all.
Nate Burleson, WR, Seahawks (70.8 percent owned): While he started against the Bears, his hold on the job has become very shaky, as Deion Branch has quickly emerged as a regular target for Matt Hasselbeck. Burleson should fit nicely as a third option and prime speed receiver in Seattle's passing game, but he likely won't catch enough balls to help most fantasy teams. Burleson has just one TD reception this season, and he has caught only more than one ball in a game only once this season. Eric Moulds, WR, Texans (56.4 percent owned): Don't hold onto him based on his past reputation. Moulds has only one TD catch and his best seasons are well behind him now at 33 years old. He's the much-needed complement the Texans have been seeking for Andre Johnson, and he does still command the respect of opposing defenses. But respect and reputation don't necessarily mean anything more than mediocre fantasy totals.
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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 10/3/06)

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Power rankings feedback


posted: Wednesday, October 4, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


By now we're all well aware of the amazing Tom Brady story, how this sixth-round pick out of Michigan suddenly became a Super Bowl hero (multiple times) and changed the fortunes of a franchise. But back in early 2001, when Drew Bledsoe got hurt and Brady was summoned, there weren't many believers. Go back and look up the articles. The Pats were done, and nobody in fantasy football needed to learn Brady's name.

That all changed really quick. Now Brady is one of the best players in the game, and in our world, one of the top quarterbacks off the draft board.
Is Bruce Gradkowski the next Brady? What about Andrew Walter, Charlie Frye and Damon Huard? Of course nobody is going to predict Super Bowls or MVP awards for these guys, but the inclination for football fans and fantasy players is to rip new quarterbacks before they get a chance.
When Trent Green got hurt, Huard still didn't become valuable, though he was relevant. This is a guy who was drafted a decade ago! He's 33. He's not some kid like Alex Smith, he's hung around a while, and for a reason. No, he doesn't have much in the way of career numbers, so when he started in Week 2 at Denver, nobody wanted to bet on the Chiefs being competitive, and nobody in fantasy wanted Huard.
People feel differently now, eh?
Huard has completed 35 of his 46 passes in the last two games, and hasn't thrown an interception. Does this make him a fantasy force? Nope, but Huard is going to be a popular sleeper play this week against the Cardinals. I say, good for him. It's hard to remember now, but Trent Green himself was actually in this situation once upon a time. He was unproven, but Washington gave him a chance, then it was Dick Vermeil in St. Louis. He ended up hurt in the preseason, creating another Cinderella story: Kurt Warner.
We've been discussing this theme of how fantasy owners are way too reactive, and part of that is assuming a player just can't perform at a high level with the basis being that said player has never done it before. What if Bruce Gradkowski does have game? Or, eventually Tony Romo? What about Jason Campbell in Washington?
Here are QB situations fantasy owners don't seem to care about, but it's possible they might need to.
Kansas City: Huard has been more effective than expected, and he should perform well this week against a bad Arizona defense. Then you're going to want to avoid him with Pittsburgh and San Diego on the docket. But what if Huard does OK? Green is coming off a concussion and he's not exactly a kid. His return has been pushed back a few times. What if Green doesn't get the job back? Also, Tony Gonzalez owners figured Huard would use him more than Green did, but that hasn't happened yet. Huard hasn't been scared of the pass rush, doesn't throw passes with his eyes closed, he's been capable. So fantasy owners shouldn't be viewing the Chiefs offense different than they did with Green playing.
Cleveland: Nobody has more interceptions than Frye does, which is a pretty good reason to be wary of him I admit, but Frye also threw for three touchdowns last week, an impressive 298 yards against the powerful Ravens defense the week before, he clearly has weapons to deal with, and the job is his. The schedule is not kind to the Browns, which would normally scare a fantasy owner, but it shouldn't. It also means Frye gets to play from behind and throw more. I like Frye in the top half of quarterbacks for this week at Carolina (you saw how many yards Drew Brees had vs. the Panthers last week) and would consider him a worthy fill-in guy. And go get Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow if you still see them available. They've got game, and Frye is able to find them.
Tampa Bay: So far Gradkowski has thrown six passes. He's a sixth-round pick out of Toledo, and while few give this next point much credence, we did mention this guy a few times in the preseason because he was piling up the yards. In fact, Gradkowski was fifth in yards, behind Romo, Matt Cassel, Jay Cutler and J.P. Losman. Does Gradkowski's 511 yards passing prove anything other than he got lots of playing time, much of it against reserve defenders? Yes it does. It proves that Jon Gruden saw something in him, and believes he can step in and compete at a high level. The Bucs could turn to Tim Rattay, who at least has starting experience. I don't want to assume Gradkowski will fail. I've been telling people not to dump Joey Galloway or stick a fork in Carnell Williams. Tampa Bay is obviously struggling, and while it's certainly possible Gradkowski pulls an Andrew Walter (68 yards, ugh), I don't see it. I wouldn't start the guy, but Chris Simms did not play well the first three games at all, Gradkowski probably won't be any worse.
Oakland: The things I wrote about Gradkowski above I was saying about Raiders sophomore Walter (third round pick in 2005), who isn't off to a promising start. But the Raiders aren't either, and this kid shouldn't be blamed. Credit Frye for throwing on the Ravens, but don't rip Walter for struggling against the same team in Week 2. What did you expect? The Raiders will start Aaron Brooks as soon as he's ready, but in what's looking like a 3-13 type season, that might be a mistake. Walter would be wise to use his weapons more, like Randy Moss (only one catch last week, though it was a touchdown) and LaMont Jordan (arguably as good as Brian Westbrook catching passes). Sit him in fantasy until he shows something, which he very well might do against the 49ers.
Tennessee and Arizona: The rookie quarterbacks have officially taken over, and in each case probably earlier than we expected. Kurt Warner is leading in the bust of the year votes, and Matt Leinart gets the start this week. Vince Young has already started. These are heralded rookies with lots of talent, but in reality, they are not in any better situation to succeed than some of the guys listed above, like Gradkowski. They're all inexperienced at this level. Fantasy owners know the names Leinart and Young, for obvious reasons, so they keep picking them up and starting them. That's a mistake. I won't assume Leinart and Young fail this season, but it's likely whatever successes they have statistically (and in win-loss record) will be lesser than the safe, veteran guys fantasy owners keep ripping and benching (like Jake Plummer).
Others: Alex Smith was probably played by too many owners in Week 4, and he burned you with a disastrous outing at Kansas City. He's still a bit raw, and you'll have to guess correct when you play him. This week would likely be a good time to use him. Is the jury still out on Philip Rivers? I don't think so. I trust him. He didn't have great numbers at Baltimore, but I think he can have some success Sunday night vs. Pittsburgh.
And by the way all you Rex Grossman fans, I have nothing at all against him or the Bears, so you're wasting energy complaining about it. I actually said on TV yesterday that I do trust the guy and consider him a top 10 fantasy quarterback. Do I call him the best, or No. 3, which is where he's ranked? Nope. When is it enough games to believe? Hard to tell. It's been four games with him, three of them impressive enough statistically, and certainly he has the weapons, the fabulous defense and the enticing schedule. Yes, I believe to a degree, but can we stop with the MVP talk?
***
Feedback on Tuesday's blog has been tremendous, and certainly opinionated. I welcome it, but I think some of you should be reminded that we're talking about fantasy football here, and Power Rankings in general are meant to be discussion starters, theories to be debated on e-mail and around the water cooler. They're totally subjective, and if you disagree, that's OK, but it doesn't make me the enemy if I leave Grossman out of the top 12. It's possible you could have 12 different names in your top 12, I suppose. That's what makes them interesting.
Here's some of your feedback, with my thoughts.
Chris Cantzler, Columbus, Ohio: "Hi, Eric. Love your columns and just read your Fantasy Power Rankings. I'm curious about two of your just missed guys, Edgerrin James and Frank Gore. Even as a Gore owner, I'm not sure he hasn't already had his 15 minutes of fame. If he has lost goal-line duties (and who knows since they haven't been there recently) and if he continues his fumbling pace, won't he likely play himself out of a job in fantasy and real life? Edge now gets a rookie quarterback to go with his swiss cheese offensive line. Would you really rather have those guys going forward than Laurence Maroney, a now clear No. 1 Tatum Bell, or (shudder) Kevin Jones?"
Eric: I think Gore is certainly in danger of going from fantasy's biggest RB surprise the first few weeks to Lee Suggs territory if doesn't play well or loses opportunities, but I want to make sure Week 4 wasn't a negative aberration. If I had done these rankings before Week 4, Gore would have been top 12. And when it comes to Edge, I honestly don't think Leinart's going to hurt him. Edge is the No. 12 ranked running back after a month, so let's not totally rip the guy. He has been somewhat productive. I have to wait on Maroney and Tatum Bell until I see more, but yes, both are in the discussion. One has to weigh potential with past accomplishments and some players are just going to be left out for now. What if Bell fumbles this week and Mike Shanahan loses his patience with him? Could easily happen.
Neil, Pearl River, NY: "Eric, I am an avid reader of your fantasy columns, and generally agree with your analysis. However, after reading your list of Fantasy Power Rankings, I was shocked not to see Torry Holt's name in the top 10, never mind absent from the almost made it list. Holt has averaged 300 fantasy points over the past three years and has finished in the top 5 at his position during that three year span, from 2003-2005. What is your logic here? And he's in the top three again so far this year! Marc Bulger is beginning to come around under the new offense. I just think it's a fallacy to put Gore's name, or even Willis McGahee ahead of Holt in terms of fantasy value so far this year."
Eric: Fair point, and Holt is certainly deserving of top wide receiver status. In fact, if I could do them rankings over, I'd probably put Holt in place of Santana Moss in the just missed category. But fantasy football is won by running backs, and if McGahee and Gore play to a high level, they will score more points than Holt and be bigger factors. That's the game. I know how good Holt has been in his career, and in the first month. He's currently tied with two others (Bernard Berrian and Marques Colston) as the No. 3 WR so far (behind S. Moss and Andre Johnson). Maybe that's my point in a nutshell; as terrific as Holt has been he's tied with basically two newcomers for position. That doesn't happen at running back, it's tougher to succeed. Fair points, appreciate the feedback.
Jake, Chicago: "You say that your FFL Power Rankings take into account what players have accomplished, but also what you expect them to still do. My question: Why would we want to know what you think the end of the year leaderboard will look like? We can't trade for retroactive production. You should spend your time working on more accurate projections for the rest of the season and give us those."
Eric: Well, we do spend much of our time in predictive mode looking ahead to the coming week, and for the rest of the season telling you who we like long-term. If Power Rankings were just based on what people had done in four weeks, then all you'd have to do is look at the leaderboard. How is that fun? This makes you think a bit, and creates banter.
Jake T., Round Rock, Texas: "You state that you are basing your rankings on what's happened and what you expect, I sure hope it pans out with you dumping Clinton Portis at No. 4. Personally, I think he's going to be a top five back, but nowhere close to where you rank him overall, he's proven to be too brittle."
Eric: You might be right, but I had Portis ranked No. 5 overall back in the preseason, before he hurt the shoulder, and I still regard him as a top player. Look how effective he's been in limited time? The doctors tell us Portis can play all season through the injury, I believe them. In retrospect, Portis should probably be around 7 or 8 in my rankings, but if it spawns good discussion, so be it!
Ron, Honolulu: "Being a Giant fan I love that you have Tiki Barber still a top 12 guy even with his slow start. But as a fantasy fan I have to say Eli Manning should be the Giant on the list. Every Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Barber catch comes from Manning. Once Sinorice Moss is on the field for a period of time more will happen. I like Palmer and both Mannings along with Steve Smith to break into the RB club of your top 12. And by the way Frank Gore is the Chris Shelton of fantasy football." Eric: Well, this proves I'm not the only one who thinks well of Eli Manning. It's a bit premature to give him top 12 status, above a Carson Palmer and Tom Brady, but he will have some big games. As for the Gore-Shelton comment, that could be very prescient. Gore owners better hope that's not the case!
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/3/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/3/06)

Wednesday, October 4, 2006
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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 -->Remember that point, earlier this season, when 49ers RB Frank Gore looked on the verge of a huge breakout, the kind of year that earns a player No. 1 weekly starter status and wins a fair share of fantasy championships for his owners? It's funny how quickly things change in the NFL; as Week 5 approaches, Gore's value is back in the questionable category.
One might wonder how a guy who rushed for 214 yards and three scores the first two weeks of the season combined could possibly have seen his stock slip so drastically in only two weeks' time. But while Gore is a promising young runner, the kind of guy who regularly racks up quality yardage totals after contact, there is one aspect of his game in which he's considerably lacking: his ability to hold on to the ball.
Through four games this season, Gore has committed four fumbles, one in each contest. Plus, his fumbles have proved awfully costly. The 49ers' opponents have scored a combined 20 points in the resulting drives immediately following a recovery of a Gore fumble, and twice, he lost the ball within two yards of his opponents' goal line. In other words, he has also cost his team two potential touchdowns, which is why RB Michael Robinson has become such a popular sleeper pickup as a goal-line back.
Coach Mike Nolan told the San Francisco Chronicle that Gore needs to hold the ball higher on his torso to reverse his fumbling problems, and perhaps that'll help. It's not like Gore's the first running back to battle a case of fumble-itis; the Giants' Tiki Barber once had nothing but trouble holding on to the ball, losing six fumbles each in 2002 and 2003. But after changing the way he carried the football, Barber seemed to cure those woes, and in his last 35 regular-season games, he has fumbled only six times, losing only three.
Keep an eye on how Gore fares in his ball-control ability in the next couple of weeks, as the amount of attention on this glaring weakness in his game probably has him an intriguing buy-low candidate right now. Remember, even with his fumbling problems taken into account, he's the sixth-ranked running back in terms of fantasy points (53). That's an impressive rating, and it does back up his status as a solid weekly No. 2 RB option. <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
This sure hasn't been much of a season for running backs, has it? It's not that the entire group has lacked value, but through four weeks, or roughly a quarter of the season, the position lacks a clear-cut standout and most of the players you picked in the draft could be considered underachievers. In fact, taking a look at the cumulative statistics, only one running back, the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson, has averaged 100 rushing yards or better, and he's at 100.0 through three games. That puts him on pace for exactly 1,600 yards, and while I know most people consider 1,000 yards the benchmark for a good season, I'd call 1,600 yards the benchmark for a superstar fantasy season. And that's what we all aim for, right? I think Tomlinson will get there, but it's incredible to think no one else is on pace for the 1,600-yard club, after 13 players got there the past four seasons combined. (Five others averaged better than 100 yards per game during that span, but fell short of the mark due to a few missed contests.) That puts 2006 on par with 2001, a season in which only one player, Edgerrin James, managed better than 100 yards per contest, and he played only six games. That doesn't mark this as a poor year for running backs. After all, 24 players are on pace to crack the 1,000-yard rushing plateau, and that's not bad by any means. But what it does indicate is that we have yet to determine which members of this year's class are the ones who are going to stand up and lead their teams to a fantasy championship. Someone's going to do it, if not several someones, so it's prime time to buy low on some of these elite backs who might actually have their owners concerned. I'd look to Larry Johnson, Steven Jackson, Tiki Barber and Willie Parker as players you might actually be able to get now, but not in a couple of weeks. Plus, who's to say it won't be Tatum Bell or Laurence Maroney who steps up as a top-five kind of guy? Pounce now, because if you have running back problems, no better time than now to address them.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Daunte Culpepper, QB, Dolphins
23-for-39 passing, 249 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 INT

Looking at Culpepper's raw numbers, one might say that he enjoyed his first "successful" performance of the 2006 season. While it's true that his numbers are hardly poor, they're also nothing exceptional, which is an issue since most every other quarterback in the league tore up the Texans' secondary in the first three weeks of the season. Instead, while a guy like Mark Brunell managed a record-setting 22 consecutive completions against Houston in Week 3, Culpepper's fantasy point total against Houston in Week 4 wasn't even good enough to rank him among the top 10 at his position. No, he finished 14th, meaning guys like Rex Grossman, Damon Huard and Charlie Frye were all better fantasy starters. Brunell rode his game against the Texans to a big effort against the Jaguars in Week 4, but I'm not nearly as convinced Culpepper can parlay his performance into a standout one in New England on Sunday. He's still erratic with his passes, and looking at him throw, he seems too conservative, as if he's trying to hide the fact that he's not quite 100 percent. Miami faces far too many defenses the rest of the year that should frustrate Culpepper, meaning at this stage, he's bye-week fill-in material at best. There should be better things ahead once his knee fully heals, but let's face it, it often takes a full year of game action to come back from the type of surgery he had. In other words, he might not be "great" again until 2007.
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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 10/3/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/3/06)

October 4, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Running Into Trouble


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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 -->Prior to this week, Brian Westbrook's knee and Ahman Green's hamstring weren't enough of an issue to keep them out of action. In fact, Westbrook looked like the ultimate exception to my fantasy rule that I always go with the healthy player over the injured guy. Westbrook had played through his injury issues early in the year, twice when he was listed as questionable, and he played very well.
But Westbrook was held out of Monday night's game against the Packers, and if you left him in your lineup for this week expecting him to vault you to a victory, you lost the gamble. Green, whose 2005 season was ruined by a quadriceps issue, missed the game as well, a week after he had played and delivered respectable fantasy totals against the Lions.
So how do you avoid getting whacked with another big zero on a Monday night, especially when there are bye weeks and a usual lack of quality talent on the free agent list this year? The apparent lesson learned on Monday night is you have to stay conservative. A player listed as questionable or a game-time decision is a boom-or-bust option that simply shouldn't be risked. Yes, Westbrook might play through the problem in his next game, and could explode again. But there's a nearly equal chance you'll get a zero if he sits out. You simply can't risk not getting any points at all.
Green isn't capable of producing great fantasy numbers anymore, so it's not worth the gamble at all if he isn't listed as probable. At least with Westbrook, he could have a big day if he plays. Green's best years are clearly behind him, and you could have players on your bench that might give you close to his production in any given week. To avoid such situations in the future, you have to make the commitment to avoid the questionable or game-time decision guy before Monday night. Put in a healthier starter and you'll know your fate by Sunday night, instead of sweating until Monday night.
Having the handcuff to a player like Westbrook and Green isn't always an ideal answer, either. The Eagles' running game was clearly much less effective without Westbrook last night, and Correll Buckhalter didn't look like the same player he was in the preseason. Vernand Morency played respectably, but for every decent Morency performance, there will be an overall stinker like Buckhalter (49 rushing yards, one lost fumble and a botched exchange) when you use a reserve who hasn't seen much game action. It's another gamble you should try to avoid. Adding the backups to an injured guy is always a great move, but depending on them when they haven't done much yet this season is another story.
The best answer to solving the issue, especially when it creeps up on a Monday night, is to have a decent backup who should get some touches and won't force you to decide between Green and Morency at 7:30 on a Monday night. If you can use a Maurice Jones-Drew or Jerious Norwood on a Sunday instead, that's a better option than hoping Green might play or his backup will be effective. Don't put the fate of your team into a game-time decision that could backfire as it did this week. Make sure you have running back depth that is just more than your handcuff players. Making a minor trade to get a good possible emergency starter isn't a major move, but it could be a critical one at any time. <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
When teams don't have their top running backs, it obviously affects their quarterbacks, so also keep that in mind when making difficult lineup decisions in the future. If you're deciding between Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb, or Brett Favre and Rex Grossman, the guy that has the better matchup often gets the call, but a key injury to a running back can also help you make a more educated decision. Without Westbrook, the Eagles didn't have a reliable ground attack, and their passing game sputtered in the first half. Against a better defense than Green Bay's, the Eagles could have struggled all night long, but McNabb simply attacked the vulnerable Packers' secondary with more deep throws in the second half and ultimately ran the ball himself to put the game out of reach. Against a more formidable opponent, Philadelphia won't necessarily be able to abandon the running game without Westbrook and succeed. McNabb's numbers could suffer in future games without Westbrook. As for Favre, the Eagles didn't seem threatened by Morency, who played just as well as Green could have if he were available. Green doesn't run much harder than Morency these days, but he still commands more respect from opposing defenses because of his past reputation. Philadelphia clearly came into Monday night's game ready to take away the deep ball and get pressure up front to protect their injury-depleted defensive backfield. Defending the running game seemed to be a secondary concern, as Morency simply wasn't perceived as a major threat to the defense. Favre threw no TD passes and was intercepted twice, as he had to throw the ball in most key situations. Without its top running back and a formidable backup that can actually conjure up major defensive concerns (such as DeAngelo Williams or Michael Turner), teams become more predictable on offense and throw more often. Matt Hasselbeck was certainly very predictable in how he was going to move the ball on Sunday night. Maurice Morris doesn't strike fear into the hearts of most defenses. A missing No. 1 RB can often mean a more difficult outing for the QB.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Vernand Morency, RB, Packers
26 carries, 99 yards, 0 TD

We got our first good look at what Morency can do in extensive action on Monday night. There had been flashes of big-play promise in the preseason with Houston. Then there was praise from the Green Bay coaching staff about how well Morency fit in with their new zone-blocking system after playing in a similar style of running the ball with the Texans this year before he was traded. Morency added 19 receiving yards, and his final numbers weren't bad at all. He displayed good vision, quick feet, and some cutback moves and the willingness to work for extra yards. But he is only an adequate inside runner, and the Green Bay offensive line isn't going to open the holes necessary for him to use his speed. Ahman Green might not be able to bust loose for many big runs anymore because his best years are behind him. Morency simply has to battle hard for yardage when he plays, because his offensive line will often lose many wars at the line of scrimmage. Morency was stuffed on four consecutive one-yard runs to finish the game. You can blame his blockers for not getting the proper push. Morency might deliver decent totals again if he is pressed into action, so keep him on your roster or acquire him if you have Green. He would likely produce better numbers on a better team, but he is a decent plug-in if you know in advance Green isn't going to start for sure. If Green is a game-time decision, using another RB is usually a better option to avoid the headaches.
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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 10/3/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/3/06)

Oct. 4, 2006, 12:52 PM
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FFL: Week 5 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. TEN
2. Donovan McNabb vs. DAL
3. Marc Bulger at GB
<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->4. Eli Manning vs. WAS
5. Jake Delhomme vs. CLE
6. Tom Brady vs. MIA
7. Rex Grossman vs. BUF
8. Drew Brees vs. TB
9. Drew Bledsoe at PHI
10. Brett Favre vs. STL
<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. Chad Pennington at JAC
12. Byron Leftwich vs. NYJ
13. Mark Brunell at NYG
14. Alex Smith vs. OAK
15. Steve McNair at DEN
16. Brad Johnson vs. DET
17. Jon Kitna at MIN
18. Daunte Culpepper at NE
19. Jake Plummer vs. BAL
20. Ben Roethlisberger at SD
21. Damon Huard at ARI
22. Charlie Frye at CAR
23. Andrew Walter at SF
24. Matt Leinart vs. KC
25. Philip Rivers vs. PIT
26. Vince Young at IND
27. J.P. Losman at CHI
28. Bruce Gradkowski at NO

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

Wide Receivers
1. Steve Smith vs. CLE
2. Torry Holt at GB
3. Marvin Harrison vs. TEN
4. Reggie Wayne vs. TEN
5. Terrell Owens at PHI
6. Santana Moss at NYG
7. Roy Williams at MIN
8. Antonio Bryant vs. OAK
9. Bernard Berrian vs. BUF
10. Randy Moss at SF
11. Terry Glenn at PHI
12. Greg Jennings vs. STL
13. Plaxico Burress vs. WAS
14. Anquan Boldin vs. KC
15. Larry Fitzgerald vs. KC
16. Laveranues Coles at JAC
17. Donald Driver vs. STL
18. Keyshawn Johnson vs. CLE
19. Isaac Bruce at GB
20. Amani Toomer vs. WAS
21. Marques Colston vs. TB
22. Chris Chambers at NE
23. Muhsin Muhammad vs. BUF
24. Reggie Williams vs. NYJ
25. Hines Ward at SD
26. Troy Williamson vs. DET
27. Javon Walker vs. BAL
28. Derrick Mason at DEN
29. Reggie Brown vs. DAL
30. Eddie Kennison at ARI
31. Braylon Edwards at CAR
32. Jerricho Cotchery at JAC
33. Joey Galloway at NO
34. Donte' Stallworth vs. DAL
25. Drew Bennett at IND
36. Doug Gabriel vs. MIA
37. Joe Horn vs. TB
38. Rod Smith vs. BAL
39. Lee Evans at CHI
40. Mike Furrey at MIN
41. Ernest Wilford vs. NYJ
42. Travis Taylor vs. DET
43. Arnaz Battle vs. OAK
44. Mark Clayton at DEN
45. Marty Booker at NE
46. Joe Jurevicius at CAR
47. David Givens at IND
48. Marcus Robinson vs. DET
49. Eric Parker vs. PIT
50. Cedrick Wilson at SD
51. Antwaan Randle El at NYG
52. Reche Caldwell vs. MIA
53. Michael Clayton at NO
54. Josh Reed at CHI
55. Kevin Curtis at GB
56. Brandon Lloyd at NYG
57. Peerless Price at CHI
58. Wes Welker at NE
59. Bryan Gilmore vs. OAK
60. Koren Robinson vs. STL

Tight Ends
1. Todd Heap at DEN
2. Tony Gonzalez at ARI
3. Jeremy Shockey vs. WAS
4. Antonio Gates vs. PIT
5. L.J. Smith vs. DAL
6. Desmond Clark vs. BUF
7. Kellen Winslow Jr. at CAR
8. Jason Witten at PHI
9. Heath Miller at SD
10. Chris Cooley at NYG
11. Eric Johnson vs. OAK
12. Benjamin Watson vs. MIA
13. Randy McMichael at NE
14. Dallas Clark vs. TEN
15. Jermaine Wiggins vs. DET
16. Ben Troupe at IND
17. Joe Klopfenstein at GB
18. Daniel Graham vs. MIA
19. Bo Scaife at IND
20. Bubba Franks vs. STL
21. Chris Baker at JAC
22. Courtney Anderson at SF
23. Alex Smith at NO
24. Bryan Fletcher vs. TEN
25. Ben Utecht vs. TEN

Defense/Special Teams
1. Chicago vs. BUF
2. Pittsburgh at SD
3. Baltimore at DEN
4. Indianapolis vs. TEN
5. New Orleans vs. TB
6. San Diego vs. PIT
7. Carolina vs. CLE
8. Minnesota vs. DET
9. Jacksonville vs. NYJ
10. Philadelphia vs. DAL
11. New England vs. MIA
12. N.Y. Giants vs. WAS
13. St. Louis at GB
14. Detroit at MIN
15. Miami at NE
16. Washington at NYG
17. Buffalo at CHI
18. Dallas at PHI
19. Denver vs. BAL
20. Cleveland at CAR
21. Tampa Bay at NO
22. Kansas City at ARI
23. N.Y. Jets at JAC
24. San Francisco vs. OAK
25. Arizona vs. KC
26. Green Bay vs. STL
27. Oakland at SF
28. Tennessee at IND
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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 10/3/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/3/06)

Oct. 4, 2006, 4:46 PM
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Engel: Can Matt Leinart be successful?


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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
The Cardinals' switch to rookie QB Matt Leinart doesn't appear to be a temporary one. Head coach Dennis Green reiterated on Monday that his decision to promote the rookie to the starting slot isn't a short-term maneuver. "If we didn't think he could carry his own water, we wouldn't play him," Green told the Arizona Republic.
Green made it clear that the QB change and any other adjustments he might consider aren't just to shake things up. "That's why you don't make them that often or make them just to make them," Green told the Republic. The Republic also reported that the team's original plan was to have Leinart back up Kurt Warner for the entire 2006 season. But the turnover-prone Warner said he and other offensive players might have been pressing to make things happen. Green said he won't put too much pressure on Leinart initially.
"We'll do the best we can to try and create an atmosphere where he can go out and let some other guys make some plays, too" Green told the Republic.
Leinart has been advertised as the most poised and pro-ready quarterback in the rookie class. He has a great pair of wide receivers, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. But that doesn't mean you should consider starting him in your fantasy league. Leinart is going to have to deal with the same offensive line issues Warner did. The shaky blocking has continued to make the running game unreliable, and Leinart is in a bad position as an inexperienced passer who won't have consistent time to throw. As he adjusts to the speed of the pro game in the regular-season setting, Leinart will get hit hard often and could make some ill-advised throws as he faces constant pressure.
The initial assumption might be that Leinart could fare well statistically because he has great receivers to throw to, and the Cardinals will play from behind often. But the receivers don't make the QB a viable starter when the passer needs to learn on the job in many adverse situations. Green has indicated he might also make some changes on the line. Adding Leinart as a backup in a larger league is a good move, but don't expect Fitzgerald and Boldin to catch a healthy amount of passes from him and raise his value. Other negative factors surrounding Leinart will limit his fantasy appeal.
QB Audibles: Reports out of Miami indicate that despite his early struggles, Daunte Culpepper is in no danger of losing his job to Joey Harrington anytime soon. ? Aaron Brooks (pectoral strain) will not play against the 49ers this Sunday, and there is still no solid timetable for his return, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Running Backs
Despite his breakthrough performance against Cincinnati this past week, there are no clear indications yet that Laurence Maroney will definitely surpass Corey Dillon as New England's primary running back. The Patriots appear comfortable with the duo sharing carries, as the two ball carriers have been able to keep defenses off-balance with different running styles and the ability to stay fresh late in games because each player isn't getting overworked.
It would seem that with Maroney's upside and quick success, the older Dillon, whose best seasons are definitely behind him, would get pushed into a lesser role. But Dillon still battles hard for tough yards and is still a very effective goal-line presence. Maroney came out of college with doubts about his ability to run inside, but he has worked closely with Dillon, and there have been obvious results. Maroney has not only been a terrific outside runner, but he has displayed outstanding vision and cutback moves on some inside runs. He has also been very hard for opposing defenses to stop near the goal line. Maroney has more of a burst than Dillon, and is a great complement for Dillon's purely physical style.
Fantasy leaguers might continue to be frustrated by the fact that neither player will get the bulk of the carries or regular goal-line work, but each RB has made the most of a split workload so far. Both backs are fine flex players, and Maroney can indeed be a quality No. 2 fantasy RB when the matchup is right. Much like the Tatum Bell/Mike Anderson time share in Denver last year, this is a situation in which a younger, more explosive runner can co-exist with a proven veteran, and both can produce good numbers often. With the Patriots not having many reliable targets in the passing game, they'll continue to run the ball often. The situation has worked out well so far, so don't expect any major changes in playing time for either Maroney or Dillon anytime soon. But if Dillon does get injured, Maroney has certainly showed he can play at quite a high level, and he would be a must-start as a No. 2 RB if he is pressed into more service.
RB Cutbacks: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said a second quarter fumble that was credited to Brett Favre on Monday was apparently Vernand Morency's fault, and nearly got him benched. Mike McCarthy still has no update on the status of Ahman Green, who has two tender hamstrings. If Green continues to miss time, Morency should continue to start after just missing the 100-yard rushing mark at Philadelphia. Behind Morency on the depth chart is Noah Herron, who has also demonstrated some problems holding on to the ball in brief appearances this season.
Wide Receivers
In the preseason, Roddy White was often mentioned as a sleeper candidate. I was one of the White watchers, as he showed glimpses of big-play ability in his rookie season, and no other Atlanta wide receiver seemed poise to finally step forward and become a more dependable target for Michael Vick. But White has been a big disappointment so far. He has yet to catch a TD pass and only has a total of six receptions so far in 2006.
White has lost his starting job to newcomer Ashley Lelie and it doesn't appear he will get it back in the near future. Lelie has impressed the Atlanta coaching staff with his blocking, which is no big surprise, considering he came from Denver, where he was able to keep a starting job for some time in a running-back heavy system. The Falcons also put a heavy emphasis on the ground game.
"Everyone knows Ashley can stretch the field," Falcons coach Jim Mora told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He can fly. The one thing that was a question for us when we were making the trade was what kind of blocker he would be for us in the run game, and he's done a nice job."
Lelie does have deep speed, but he has never been a consistent pass-catcher, and he won't be a dependable fantasy contributor on a Falcons team that will still focus mainly on the running game. Lelie caught two passes for 61 yards last week, but he has yet to find the end zone and still hasn't shown any real willingness or ability to make regular possession grabs. Just because he is starting, doesn't mean he will help your fantasy team. WR Patterns: Robert Ferguson is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Rams, and Koren Robinson is expected to step into the No. 3 receiver slot for Green Bay. Donald Driver has rib and hip problems and will be listed as questionable, so Robinson could even be forced to start if both Ferguson and Driver miss the game.
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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 10/5/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/5/06)

Thursday, October 5, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Trade Talk


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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 -->No matter what your record is, there are always methods of improving your team. Free-agent additions rarely make a major impact, so only trades can really change the look of your team in a significant manner. But it's not as simple as it might seem. There are important angles to consider when you are trying acquire players to fill your needs or improve your squad.
You can't just think about your own needs. If you really want to convince another owner to make a deal with you, you must be aware of his or her needs as well. Good trades that attract other owners fill needs on both sides. You can't just decide to target a certain player and go after him just because you want him. And you can't just start offering a player to other owners without knowing what will really make them pull the trigger.
Right now, a lot of fantasy owners would love to have a guy like Torry Holt. He's dependable and regularly productive at the often unpredictable wide receiver position. But you just can't blindly offer three of your bench players for Holt. That only helps your side, and won't make the other owner want to deal with you. And you can't offer up Carson Palmer if the other owner already has Donovan McNabb. Again, that doesn't help the other owner and gets you nowhere.
The key to finding a good trade partner is identifying your areas of strong depth and the weak areas of another team. If Holt's owner has a glaring need at running back, and you have three starting-caliber RBs, your talks should center on those positions. If you need wide receiver help, and you have Rudi Johnson, Willie Parker and Laurence Maroney, peruse the rosters in your league to find teams with good WR depth and obvious needs at RB. Don't just go after Marvin Harrison because you want him. Identify the teams in your league that can afford to deal WRs and see which wideouts on their rosters will help you the most. Don't target specific players in trades. Target specific teams. If you can't get Holt or Harrison, move on to talks with another team who has another desirable receiver.
And if you are looking to get rid of Maroney because you think his value is high, don't just wonder "who can I get for him?" Don't offer him to the owner of Greg Jennings just because you like Jennings. Again, take a look at the rosters in your league and start making offers to teams with RB needs. Being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of other teams in your league is a quick, smooth route to getting deals done. <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
Many times, the first reaction to dealing with a disappointing player is to try to get rid of him. You want to trade away Randy Moss or Carnell Williams because he is frustrating you. But trading players who might be injured or aren't playing well is not going to be easy to do. Other owners in your league are certainly aware that these guys aren't performing up to expectations, and why would they want to take on your problems and make them their own? You're not going to find much of a market for guys like Moss or Cadillac. And if you try to trade Brian Westbrook, you likely won't get proper value in return right now. Why does another owner want to worry about his knee? That's your problem, not his or hers. You just can't expect to trade a player away for much of anything when he has been a bust or is injured. You will rarely fool another owner into taking your problem player. The best way to rid yourself of a problem player is to include him as part of a package deal. In a two-for-two or three-for-three deal, you can compensate for the low perceived value of a Moss or Cadillac by including a player from another position with good value. You won't be able to deal Moss for Darrell Jackson in a one-for-one if you want to improve at WR. But if you have good RB depth, you can package Moss and a guy like Maroney for Greg Jennings and Chester Taylor, whose value seems to be dropping. If you're willing to take on another possible problem player and can deal from depth to improve the outlook at your original position of concern, you have a good chance of getting something done. You'll plug in Jennings for Moss, and Taylor can go to your bench.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers
19-for-29 passing, 169 passing yards, 2 TD, 0 INT

When Steve Smith sat out early in the season, Delhomme's owners were nearly ready to toss him onto the trash pile. Delhomme clearly missed his favorite target, as he scored only 10 fantasy points in his first two games. While Keyshawn Johnson was a viable target, Drew Carter didn't challenge defenses as a starter, and Keary Colbert remained invisible. Now that Smith is back, though, Delhomme is suddenly looking like a quality fantasy starter again, having scored 25 fantasy points in his past two games. Delhomme has only one 200-yard passing game so far this season, but if Smith stays healthy, Delhomme's numbers will continue to be very respectable, and he'll have a few outstanding statistical performances with the duo of Smith and Johnson to throw to. Delhomme could be good for more than two TD passes against Cleveland this week, and the buzz that surrounded him before last year's NFC championship game could return very quickly. With rookie RB DeAngelo Williams playing behind brittle DeShaun Foster, there's little chance his running game will desert him anytime soon, and he'll continue to play well at the center of a balanced offensive attack.
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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 10/5/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/5/06)

Oct. 5, 2006, 3:16 PM
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Week 5: 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.
Rookie watch: Vince Young. It's his second career NFL start, and while Young has no business being anywhere near a fantasy roster, it's games like these that are well worth using to scout a player who by all rights could be a top-five QB two to three years from today. He's going to make his share of mistakes this and most weeks, but games in which a quarterback is asked to throw all day to help his team keep pace on the scoreboard are ideal ones for us to get a glimpse of what kind of passer Young might someday be. Long-term, I think he'll wind up as a more appealing version of Michael Vick, with the scrambling ability but better faith in his arm. There will be better weeks for us to get a read on Young as a runner, but for your future scouting, this game against the Colts is a good one to monitor his passing ability.
Rookie watch, take 2: Matt Leinart. While Young's starting status isn't particularly relevant to the 2006 fantasy season, Leinart's is. He'll be making his first career NFL start on Sunday against the Chiefs, and again, while he doesn't belong in anyone's fantasy lineup, Leinart's progress is absolutely worth watching. After all, he has two of the league's most talented young receivers with which to work in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, and even if Leinart never makes a fantasy impact this year, he'll have a profound effect on the numbers of both receivers. Pay special attention to Boldin's and Fitzgerald's numbers, because there's a chance they could slip into matchups status with Leinart under center.
Rookie watch, take 3: Bruce Gradkowski?! That's right, Gradkowski is also a rookie, though it sure doesn't seem like it since he was a seventh-round pick in the 2006 Draft and a little-known backup to open the season. Now, with Chris Simms seemingly out for the year, Gradkowski's getting a shot to start. Hey, at least the move had some good timing, before the bye week. The bye allowed him to take extra reps in practice. Still, with such limited time to learn the offense, he's a high-risk player, meaning the Buccaneers' offense could suffer the most of any of the three teams now employing new, rookie quarterbacks. But who are we to say Gradkowski won't succeed? He's mobile at least, and the team's clearly going to adapt its offense to compensate for his shortcomings, so it's important to keep an eye on his performance against the Saints to see how much it's going to impact useful commodities like Joey Galloway and Carnell Williams.
Frank Gore's fumblitis. I'm sure this sounds like a broken record by now, but Gore's fumbling issues must be watched, because they could cost him his job -- or at least a portion of it -- if he doesn't show improvement in the next two weeks. He has lost a fumble in each of his four games this season, but Oakland's defense isn't the type that should cause him trouble in that area. After that, the schedule only gets tougher for him, with games against the Chargers and Bears, so this is a key week in which for him to rebound.
Tatum's time. If all Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was trying to do by naming Mike Bell his starting running back in the preseason was light a fire under Tatum Bell, then Mike, mission accomplished. Tatum, in his fourth career NFL start and 32nd career game in Week 3, finally received a career-high 27 carries and dashed for 123 yards in a road game against the Patriots. Now he's the team's primary back, no longer rotating series with Mike Bell, as he did in the season's first two weeks. Tatum has incredible upside, the kind that could allow him to contend for top-five fantasy RB status, but the knocks on him over the years were that he's a bit brittle and he's not much of a blocker. What Bell really needs on the "Monday Night Football" stage in Week 5 is a standout game, in his first real opportunity as a primary back and in a home game against the Ravens' top-ranked rush defense. He's got the talent to do it, but needs to perform and soon, because Shanahan is not the type of coach to be patient if Bell's slow to adapt to his increased role.
Some guy called "T.O." visits some city somewhere. At least that's what I'm told; I think I heard something about Terrell Owens returning to Philadelphia on Sunday for the first time since leaving the Eagles following the 2005 season. That's a huge storyline, because the added motivation of beating his old team could help spawn a hot streak that'll return him to his former top-five fantasy receiver status, not to mention the boost that would provide the Dallas offense. Even if it doesn't, this is the kind of game that's simply fun to watch. And as a football fan, what's wrong with some good old-fashioned football?
Passing of the Packer RB baton? Ahman Green isn't the healthiest of players these days, as he's now 29 years old and coming off an injury-plagued season, which is why the emergence of Vernand Morency in Week 4 is an important development to track. He managed 26 carries for 99 yards in place of Green, all against a tough Eagles' defense, and will see his role in the offense expand, mainly to keep Green fresh. There's a good chance we're on the verge of having another team employ a running back-by-committee, which is terrible news for Green owners. But what if Green's hamstring doesn't allow him to play in Week 5, and Morency steps in with another standout effort against the Rams? There could be some interesting sleeper potential in him, ? la Samkon Gado a year ago.
Tiki's tumble. Tiki Barber owners surely are aware of it, but the player considered a consensus top-five pick in the preseason has gotten off to only a so-so start, ranking only 26th at his position in fantasy points with 34. Part of the problem for Barber's early struggles is his team's defensive problems; the Giants have fallen behind badly in each of their last two games and abandoned the running game. He's clearly capable of better -- much better -- than this, but New York desperately needs to get its defense straightened out so the real Barber truly can shine. Otherwise, this could be quite an up-and-down season for Barber, Eli Manning and the rest of their Giants teammates.
Charlie, Browns QB. Charlie Frye never will be confused for a top-tier fantasy quarterback, but in a season where several relative no-names have stepped up with respectable early-year performances, Frye has been one of the more impressive success stories to date. He has displayed remarkable toughness for a man who will continue to take repeated hits, and is unfazed by the pressure of having to air it out when playing from behind. Plus, Frye has two of the league's better up-and-coming pass-catchers with which to work in Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr., which help his long-term chances. Frye's probably never going to be a reliable every-week fantasy option, but it's games like these, on the road in Carolina, in which his skills should shine. Mending the Eagles' broken wings. Philadelphia's offense has done nothing but dominate through four weeks, with an NFL-high 426.5 total yards per game average and 117 points, good for second in the league. However, while the Eagles are soaring in the first quarter of the season, they're also dealing with far more injuries than you'd like to see in a team this early in the year. Brian Westbrook's knee is beginning to look like an injury that could linger; Donte' Stallworth's hamstring appears likely to sideline him for Week 5; and Reggie Brown has a shoulder problem that could limit him. All three players warrant close attention in their next couple of games to ensure they'll be able to sustain their early-season paces, and the concern here is that lingering health problems could adversely affect the offense as a whole before long. While it's tough to shop players performing this well, most Eagles players could qualify as ideal sell-high candidates based on these concerns.
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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 10/5/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/5/06)

Oct. 5, 2006, 10:48 AM
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Cockcroft: Week 5 Statbook


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
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 -->FFL Statbook: Week 5

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: Bengals, Falcons, Seahawks, Texans.
<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>Bears defense (BUF): Chicago has allowed 1 TD or fewer in 8 consecutive home G, the longest streak in the NFL. The team also leads the league in fewest points allowed (29) and ranks in the top 10 overall in total fantasy points (60, 10th) this year. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos (BAL): Among RBs with 50+ carries this season, he's the NFL's leader in yards per carry average (5.1). Plus, in his last 16 regular-season G, he has 218 carries for 1,169 yards (5.4 per carry, 74.1 per G) and 8 TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Bernard Berrian, WR, Bears (BUF): He leads the NFL with 4 receptions of 40+ yards, is tied for 5th with 6 receptions of 20+ yards and is tied for 1st in TD catches (3). He also has 25 receptions for 538 yards and 3 TDs in his last 9 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns (@CAR): He has 75+ receiving yards in each of his last 3 G, with 15 receptions for 301 yards and 1 TD in those contests. He also has 32 receptions for 542 yards (16.9 average) and 3 TDs in his last 7 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Rex Grossman, QB, Bears (BUF): He has a passing TD and has 232+ passing yards in each of his 4 G this season. He's 3rd in the league in total fantasy points (73), and has averaged 265.3 passing yards with 8 TD and 3 INT for the season. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Todd Heap, TE, Ravens (@DEN): He has a TD reception in each of his last 3 G and 8 TD in his last 10 G overall, and has 48 receptions for 524 yards in those contests. He also leads all tight ends in TDs (3) and is 2nd in receptions (19). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Willis McGahee, RB, Bills (@CHI): He's the NFL's leader in rushing attempts (99) and yards (389), and has 54 carries for 228 yards and a TD in his last 2 G. He has also averaged 24.2 rushing attempts and 100.4 yards in his last 5 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (DAL): He has thrown for 2+ TDs and 288+ yards in each of his 4 G, averaging 312.0 yards with 9 TDs and 1 interception. He also has run for 86 yards and 2 TDs, and is the league's leader in fantasy points (103). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Willie Parker, RB, Steelers (@SD): He's coming off a 133-yard, 2-TD rushing performance in Week 3, and has 114 carries for 533 rushing yards (4.7 per carry, 106.6 per G), 4 100-yard efforts and 3 TDs in his last 5 regular-season G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Steve Smith, WR, Panthers (CLE): He has double-digit fantasy points in his 2 G this season, with 17 receptions for 199 yards and 1 TD in those contests. He also has 10 100-yard receiving G and 13 TDs in his last 18 regular-season G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Roy Williams, WR, Lions (@MIN): He has back-to-back 100-yard receiving G, and 58 receptions for 884 yards (15.2 average) and 8 TDs in his last 12 G. He's also 5th in the league in receptions (25) and 4th in receiving yards (384) this season. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Kellen Winslow Jr., TE, Browns (@CAR): He leads all tight ends in receptions (22) and is 2nd in receiving yards (228) and 2nd in TDs (2). In 6 career NFL starts, he has 27 receptions for 278 yards (10.3 average) and 2 TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: I included Bell and McGahee on this list, because while their matchups look poor on paper -- Bell faces the Ravens' top-ranked rush defense (63.2 ypg) and McGahee faces the Bears' 7th-ranked rush D (80.8) -- they're getting enough touches each week to be must-starts, even if it's as a No. 2 or flex option in a fantasy lineup. Expect 20 carries for each, which is enough work for them to offer respectable yardage totals and a good chance at a score. ... Carolina's offense is a whole lot deeper now that Smith is back in the lineup, but the Panthers' defense has still had its troubles holding back opposing offenses. In a game in which Cleveland and Frye will need to air it out to keep pace with the potent Panthers attack, Frye's an interesting bye-week sub, while Edwards and Winslow should be kept active. ... Parker's matchup against the Chargers' second-ranked rush defense (66.0 ypg) isn't an easy one by any means, but keep in mind San Diego hasn't exactly faced any elite running backs in three games. Well, Oakland's LaMont Jordan (Week 1) could be called "elite," but he didn't receive any support from his quarterback or offensive line, so that's not a great example. Parker's a speedy type who should present a challenge for the Chargers, and he should be kept in as a No. 2 fantasy RB. </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 (@IND): He has failed to crack the 100-yard rushing plateau in any of his last 19 G, and has failed to score a TD in 7 consecutive G. He also has 98 carries for 295 yards (3.0 per carry, 36.9 per G) in his last 8 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins (@NE): Since his 2-TD effort in Week 1, Brown has 53 carries for 209 yards (3.9 per carry, 69.7 per G) and 0 TDs in 3 G. He has failed to top 100 yards rushing in his last 12 G, averaging 50.2 yards in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Michael Clayton, WR, Buccaneers (@NO): He has 9 receptions for 110 yards (12.2 per catch, 36.7 per G) and 0 TDs in 3 G, despite being targeted 19 times. He also has 41 receptions for 482 yards and 0 TDs in 17 G dating back to the start of 2005. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Daunte Culpepper, QB, Dolphins (@NE): He has yet to have a 2+ TD G passing this season, and in his last 11 G overall, he has averaged 226.6 passing yards with 8 TDs and 15 interceptions. He has also been sacked an NFL-high 21 times this year. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Kevin Curtis, WR, Rams (@GB): He has 6 receptions for 45 yards (7.5 per catch, 11.2 per G) and 0 TDs in 4 G, and has been targeted only 10 times all season. He also has only 16 receptions for 105 yards (6.6 average) and 0 TDs in his last 9 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns (@CAR): His 100-yard rushing effort in Week 4 was his first in 9 G and 4th in 19 G since leaving Denver. Even with it included, he has only 167 carries for 523 yards (3.1 per carry, 58.1 per G) and 1 TD in his last 9 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Bubba Franks, TE, Packers (STL): He has 9 receptions for 89 yards (9.9 per catch, 22.2 per G) and 0 TDs in 4 G, despite being targeted 18 times. He also has 17 receptions for 154 yards and 0 TDs in his last 9 G dating back to last season. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Keenan McCardell, WR, Chargers (PIT): He has 6 receptions for 76 yards (12.7 per catch, 25.3 per G) and 0 TDs in 3 G, and has been targeted only 8 times all season. In fact, QB Philip Rivers didn't throw the ball in his direction once in Week 4. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Panthers defense (CLE): Carolina ranks 22nd in the league in fantasy points (20) and total defense (341.5 yards per G), and 16th in points per game allowed (19.5). The Panthers have allowed 16+ points in each of their four G this season. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos (BAL): He's currently 29th among quarterbacks in fantasy points (21), having managed to complete only 44 of his 86 pass attempts (51.2 percent) for 567 yards, 2 TDs and 4 interceptions in 3 G this season. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers (@SD): He has averaged only 1.5 fantasy points in his 2 G this season, completing only 35 of 71 passes (49.3 percent) for 258 yards, 1 TD and 4 interceptions. He now has 6 interceptions in his last 3 regular-season G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Rod Smith, WR, Broncos (BAL): He has 11 receptions for 94 yards (8.5 per catch, 31.3 per G) and 0 TDs in 3 G, despite being targeted 21 times. He also has 17 receptions for 196 yards and 0 TDs in his last 5 G, dating back to last season. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Don't even think about using your Titans this week, any of them. Tennessee at Indianapolis could wind up the most lopsided game of the entire season, and even if you point to the fact that the Colts' defense has been inconsistent so far, the Titans are going to have to rely heavily on the pass just to keep pace. Brown is a terrible play, and QB Vince Young should make many more mistakes than TD passes. ... Don't look at the Broncos' stunning victory at New England in Week 3 as a good representation of what might happen when Miami comes to town on Sunday, nor should you consider that QB Daunte Culpepper has 2 TD passes in each of his two career games against the Patriots. Miami's offense is struggling mightily, unable to beat a Houston defense that hasn't threatened anyone this season, and the Patriots will be ready to contain the team to make up for its embarrassing last home game. ... The Chargers simply don't throw throw the ball enough to make good use of McCardell, averaging only 23.3 pass attempts per game, second fewest in the NFL. Still, it's a little shocking that he wasn't targeted a single time in Week 4, which makes his matchup against the Steelers even less appealing. ... On paper, a game against the 1-3 Browns might make the Panthers' defense an attractive fantasy option. But, as mentioned before, Carolina has had a lot of trouble defensively, and QB Charlie Frye and his blossoming young receivers should be able to rack up a decent amount of points against the Panthers. Don't assume this is a standout effort in the making. </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>Drew Bledsoe, QB, Cowboys (@PHI): He has won each of his last 3 GS vs. the Eagles, passing for 781 yards, 5 TDs and 1 interception in those contests. He has also averaged 206.6 passing yards with 14 TDs in 10 road G with the Cowboys. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins (@NE): He has 40 receptions for 453 yards and 5 TDs in his last 9 G vs. the Patriots, adding four carries for 83 yards in those contests. He also has 34 receptions for 471 yards and 5 TDs in his last 5 G vs. AFC East foes. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins (@NYG): He has a TD reception in 3 of 4 career G vs. the Giants, totaling 14 receptions for 95 yards and 3 TD during that span. He also has 26 receptions for 267 yards and 4 TDs in his last 7 G vs. NFC East foes. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens (@DEN): He has a rushing TD in each of his 3 career G vs. the Broncos (postseason incl.), totaling 87 carries for 322 yards (3.7 per carry, 107.3 per G) and 4 TDs in those contests. He also has 64 receiving yards in those games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Santana Moss, WR, Redskins (@NYG): He has 2 100-yard receiving G and 6 TDs in 3 career G vs. the Giants, totaling 19 receptions for 315 yards in those contests. He also has 31 receptions for 657 yards and 5 TDs in his last 7 G vs. NFC East foes. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys (@PHI): He returns to Philadelphia for the first time since leaving the Eagles following the 2005 season; in 11 career games at Lincoln Financial Field, he has 58 receptions for 876 yards (15.1 average) and 11 touchdowns. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins (@NYG): He has 302 scrimmage yards and 3 total TDs in his last 3 G vs. the Giants; he also has 3 consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts vs. NFC East foes, and 9 total TDs in 12 career G vs. NFC East foes as a Redskin. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars (NYJ): He has 90 carries for 359 yards (4.0 per carry, 119.7 per G) and 2 TDs in 3 career G vs. the Jets, and had a career-high 95 receiving yards against the Jets on 9/29/02. He has also scored 32 of his 52 career TDs in home G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Benjamin Watson, TE, Patriots (MIA): He had a TD reception in each of his 2 G vs. the Dolphins in 2005, totaling 5 receptions for 76 yards and 3 TD in those contests. The 3 TDs represent three-quarters of his entire career TD total of 4. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts (TEN): He has a TD reception in each of his last 4 G vs. the Titans, totaling 18 receptions for 313 yards and 4 TDs in those contests. He also has 56 receptions for 745 yards and 2 TDs in his last 10 home G (postseason incl.). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Owens' return to Philadelphia is one of the biggest stories of Week 5, and I can't help but feel it's going to mean a high-scoring shoot-out. That means I'd avoid both of the defenses, but I'd also look to most anyone on either offense as a viable fantasy starter. Bledsoe, Owens, WR Terry Glenn and TE Jason Witten are must-plays, while across the field, QB Donovan McNabb, TE L.J. Smith and any of the receivers deemed healthy in advance of game time are well worth using. ... I'm not expecting nearly as impressive an outing for Lewis against the Broncos as the ones he had earlier in his career, but he'll still be a focal point of the Baltimore offense in Week 5. After all, Denver's defense has allowed only one passing touchdown all season. ... Though Doug Gabriel seems to be emerging as QB Tom Brady's preferred receiving target in New England, Watson's career numbers against the Dolphins shouldn't be overlooked. Miami's defense has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season (7.8 per game), and tight ends have scored two TDs against it. Brady has a tendency to spread the ball around, so Watson's every bit as good a bet to lead the team in the receiving categories as anyone on the roster. </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): 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): Chiefs at Cardinals could be in the low 80s. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Weatherproof games (safest playing conditions): Buccaneers at Saints (Superdome), Lions at Vikings (Metrodome), Titans at Colts (RCA Dome) and Chiefs at Cardinals (Cardinals Stadium). </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>Rob Bironas, Titans (@IND): 3 G, 71.4 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.33 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Matt Bryant, Buccaneers (@NO): 8 G, 66.7 FGpct, 90.9 XPTpct, 6.25 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>John Carney, Saints (TB): 59 G, 86.1 FGpct, 99.2 XPTpct, 8.08 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Martin Gramatica, Colts (TEN): 21 G, 70.3 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 5.76 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jason Hanson, Lions (@MIN): 120 G, 83.9 FGpct, 99.2 XPTpct, 6.82 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Ryan Longwell, Vikings (DET): 26 G, 86.2 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 8.12 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Neil Rackers, Cardinals (KC): 14 G, 95.0 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 5.93 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Lawrence Tynes, Chiefs (@ARI): 2 G, 100.0 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 8.50 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Adam Vinatieri, Colts (TEN): 17 G, 94.9 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 9.12 ppg.</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/5/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/5/06)

Friday, October 6, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Stopgap Seven: Week 5


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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.)
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts (TEN): He's no longer available in many leagues, but if you scooped him up, this is a fine week to play him. Colts-Titans is a huge mismatch, and there should be enough carries to go around that he could approach Week 4's 20 again.
Colts defense (TEN): Indianapolis' defense has struggled through four weeks, but the team's slowly beginning to get healthy, which should improve matters. Expect the Colts to mount an early lead, then press Titans QB Vince Young into committing a few picks.
Charlie Frye, QB, Browns (@CAR): This might not seem the greatest matchup for Frye, but Carolina's defense has been susceptible to the pass. He'll have to throw often to keep pace with the Panthers, and at least he has three solid pass catchers at his disposal.
Doug Gabriel, WR, Patriots (MIA): I'm not entirely sold on him in the long term, as Tom Brady will keep spreading the field, but right now Brady sure seems to be riding the hot hand. Nothing wrong with sticking with Gabriel while he's getting 6-8 throws a game!
Brad Johnson, QB, Vikings (DET): At this point, almost any quarterback scheduled to face the Lions is a must-play. Detroit has allowed 10 TDs compared to no interceptions in four games, and Johnson is a skilled enough passer to make good use of the matchup.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars (NYJ): The Jaguars have begun lining him up in the slot, which increases the chances that he'll get the receptions to make up for the weeks in which he gets under 10 carries. Regardless, this is a good matchup for him as a runner.
Troy Williamson, RB, Vikings (DET): If Johnson's a good play, Williamson's a fine one as well. Lions CB Dre Bly could be matched up with him, which might scare off some owners, but even Bly has been overmatched by comparable receivers to Williamson. <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 5: Dolphins QB Daunte Culpepper had a respectable 249-yard, one-TD effort in Week 4 at Houston, but that's not enough to put him back in the "safe" fantasy category. Those who look at his two 2-TD games in his career against the Patriots might be fooled into thinking he'll be successful at New England again this week, but I won't be one of them. ... Ravens QB Steve McNair is coming off a 2-TD game against the Chargers in Week 4, but a trip to Denver is an awfully challenging matchup. The Broncos have allowed only one touchdown all season, best in the league. ... If I'm such a believer that the Colts will run away with Sunday's game against the Titans, there's no way I could count on a strong game by Tennessee RB Chris Brown. He shouldn't be much of a factor at all, doesn't get enough carries to make much of an impact when the matchup is good anyway, and is in real danger of being overtaken by rookie RB LenDale White on the depth chart. ... Most of Bills RB Willis McGahee's owners don't have the luxury of enough depth to reserve him, but if you're stocked with great alternatives, I'd think about it. Heck, I'd avoid almost anyone facing the Bears in any week, so long as I had another 15-plus-carry RB with a decent or better matchup to sub in. (Think DeShaun Foster, not Marion Barber.) That also means I'd steer clear of WR Lee Evans this week. ... Ravens WR Derrick Mason should only improve his chemistry with McNair with time, but this isn't a good week for that connection. If McNair's going to move the ball successfully against the Broncos, it's going to be by leaning heavily on his tight ends. That means Mason would need one big catch to make a noticeable fantasy impact, which seems unlikely.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Reggie Bush, RB, Saints
11 carries, 22 rushing yards, 0 TD

The spotlight can sometimes be a terrible thing for an athlete, especially in the case of a young one still learning the intricacies of the professional game. Bush, one of the most hyped rookies to come around in years, has drawn plenty of attention from football fans, but remember, his name value also means he gets a lot of attention from opposing NFL defenses as well. Opponents seem to key on him a fair amount when he carries the ball, and it doesn't help that Bush spends too much time looking for the home-run play instead of going with the opportunities that he's given. He's averaging only 3.3 yards per carry, a disappointing rate, and he has yet to earn more than 15 carries in any of his four games, playing behind Deuce McAllister on the depth chart at running back. That leaves Bush to have to make the big plays on the receiving side, and he hasn't let us down at all in that area so far, with 23 receptions for 187 yards. In other words, he's getting enough touches to make a noticeable impact, but it'd be nice to see him do better in the running game and finally reach the end zone for once. A matchup against the Buccaneers this week won't make him any more likely to finally notch that first NFL touchdown, so steer clear of him outside of at your flex position. McAllister should be the better play for Week 5.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/6/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/6/06)

McNabb, and everyone else


posted: Monday, October 9, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


How low scoring was Week 5 in fantasy football? Well, let's just say there are going to be a lot of close, low scoring games in fantasy football this week. It's possible the Monday night game could provide big numbers, but the Ravens are involved. Really, what are the chances? Can you see Steve McNair throwing for 300 yards? Or<!--##FRONTSTOP##--> Jake Plummer?

How bad was it in comparison to other weeks?
In Week 1, five players had 22 or more points, led by Frank Gore.
In Week 2, 10 players and a defense had 22 or more points, seven of them quarterbacks.
In Week 3, seven players scored 22 or more, with Brian Westbrook getting 35.
And in Week 4, seven players and a defense scored 24 or more, and two of them reached 35.
So that's 29 players in four weeks to reach at least 22 points, and some topped 30. This week? Um, well, there's Donovan McNabb and the Jaguars defense and that's it. McNabb scored 28 fantasy points with his big day against the Cowboys, and the Jags got a shutout. Third place? Um, there's Fred Taylor and another defense, then future Hall of Famers Damon Huard, Robbie Gould and Hank Baskett. I'm not making this up. Win this week 56-52, and that's OK. Last week with all the points I had a team score 122 points, and it lost. It happens.
The win is the important thing, and I think there's some irony in that all week long, all the attention was on Terrell Owens and the Philly fans, how would he be treated, what would T.O. do after he scored, etc. It's nuts. And then we fast forward to the fourth quarter and see Owens yelling at his coaches and teammates, and there's McNabb scoring all the points and getting the win. Just get the win.
Let's go through the games, starting with the big one, since after that there's not a ton of fantasy scoring to discuss.
Eagles 38, Cowboys 24: The big story in fantasy was not Owens or McNabb leading into the game, but whether Brian Westbrook would or would not play. He did play, but didn't look like himself, which isn't surprising. He missed last week, and as soon as the win was secure, there was immediate (and, according to Westbrook himself unsubstantiated) conjecture that Westbrook would have his troublesome knee scoped this week and sit the next three games, then return in Week 10. It makes sense, if it happens. Can Westbrook go on like this all season, not practicing and playing in pain? The Eagles are 4-1, not a safe 4-1, but the way McNabb is playing, maybe it's wise to get Westbrook fixed for December. More on this story to come in the next few days.
MVP: Not only was McNabb the MVP of this game, he's the MVP of the season in the NFL so far. Who else? Sure, the Colts and Bears haven't lost, but you think Peyton Manning or Rex Grossman are more valuable? Manning doesn't have the numbers. Grossman has the best defense. It's McNabb. He entered the week a startling 26 fantasy points ahead of anyone else, and best I can tell with quick math, that lead will now be 39 points over the next guy, Grossman. If you have McNabb, you'd better be 4-1, at least.
LVP: Well, this isn't personal, but for all the pregame talk, Owens caught only three passes, and dropped plenty more. Drew Bledsoe was no prize either with three interceptions, but at least he ran for a score. Nothing to worry about here, as Dallas can clearly move the ball effectively and Bledsoe, 100-yard rusher Julius Jones, a pair of receivers and tight end Jason Witten all have significant fantasy value.
Interesting: Donte' Stallworth was inactive again, but at least fantasy owners had enough of a hint that would happen going in. Who's this Hank Baskett fella? It's a great story, but in reality the Philly wide receiver crew is a shared situation. Baskett caught the 87-yard touchdown, but last week Greg Lewis scored twice and next week there might be another hero. Philly wide receivers are much like New England's, you shouldn't depend on them in fantasy, yet the team wins. I could write yet again that McNabb was a top five fantasy quarterback for years before Owens showed up, but you know this already, right? Right?!?
Chiefs 23, Cardinals 20: Solid effort for newbie Matt Leinart, who completed his first six passes, two for touchdowns, and drove the team to what could have been a game-tying field goal in the final seconds. Can't blame Leinart for this and if you haven't cut Kurt Warner yet, do it this week. He's not getting this job back. Maybe the Redskins end up trading for him, who knows.
MVP: Damon Huard continues to be very effective in not only the short game, but the entire game. This week he had only 12 incompletions and only McNabb threw for more yards. Impressive. I've been saying for more than a week that it wouldn't surprise me if the Chiefs aren't rushing Trent Green back, but everyone in the know tells me that's crazy, that the minute Green is cleared to return, he starts. Huard has played pretty well, hasn't he? Of course the schedule gets tougher the next few weeks, and nobody wants Green to have a setback, but don't ignore Huard on your waiver wire if the reason is because you think he's lose the job any week now. Might not happen.
LVP: Tony Gonzalez owners are angry yet again, as their difference making tight end is making no difference at all. One catch? One stinkin' catch? C'mon, Ernie Conwell and Visanthe Shiancoe had more catches. Who? Exactly. If Huard was bad, which he's clearly not, then he would be leaning more heavily on Gonzalez. But that's not happening. Gonzalez isn't even a guaranteed start any more. Sad.
Interesting: Check out the starting running backs here and it's odd but, Edgerrin James is the one who did OK, and Larry Johnson did not, even though Johnson had more points. Johnson's expectations remain through the roof, but without the offensive line's help, he's just not the same running back. Last week he needed 30 carries to get to 101 yards in a blowout win, and this week he gets 2.3 yards per carry, with none reaching 10 yards. And there's no indication he's hurt. He did break a 78-yard reception and, on a separate play, catch a touchdown. Great. Now he's Reggie Bush? Can't deal him, just gotta wait. And Edge did exactly what we expect, but to reach double digit fantasy points, his owners aren't angry. Odd.
49ers 34, Raiders 20: I'm pleased Alex Smith bounced back with a nice game. No, his yards don't knock you out, but he threw only four incompletions and had three touchdowns, impressive numbers. He didn't over-rely on Antonio Bryant, either. Nice game. He's making strides, and Week 4 looks like a blip. As for the Oakland quarterbacks, do you think Aaron Brooks even wants to come back and play?
MVP: Frank Gore had some impressive numbers in this one. The most impressive? The number zero, for the fumbles. He rushed for 134 yards and caught the ball, and Michael Robinson offered little, including at the goal line.
LVP: What Raiders would you pick here? The quarterbacks? Who, in their right mind, would have used a Raider QB? LaMont Jordan did OK with 71 yards on too few carries. Randy Moss scored again. It's probably Bryant, Robinson and Eric Johnson from the San Fran side.
Interesting: Before you get any ideas about using the 49ers defense in fantasy, since they did have four interceptions Sunday, note that this was the last ranked fantasy defense entering the week, having not picked off any passes and having allowed the most points in the NFL.
Jaguars 41, Jets 0: OK, I was wrong. I don't know why the Jets played right with the Colts through and through, but the Colts handled the Jags, and then the Jets couldn't even score at Jacksonville. And it was ugly. Chad Pennington threw three interceptions. Fred Taylor looked like Jim Brown. How could the Jets have been so competitive, maybe surprisingly so, then done this? Were they Yankees fans?
MVP: Taylor rushed for 111 yards and scored, and similar to the situation in New England, the older guy is going to keep getting the carries. Maurice Jones-Drew scored twice on short runs, but there's room for both guys in fantasy lineups.
LVP: This is the second time this season a dominating defensive effort in a shutout still featured the losing team having a surprise 100-yard rusher. The first time was Week 1 when Ahman Green did it on the Bears. But for Leon Washington to do it, what does that say about Kevan Barlow? And just when so many fantasy owners were convinced that Barlow was worth playing, since he had scored four touchdowns in the first four games. Nobody had more. Now it looks like Barlow, who was really Mr. Negative with four carries for minus one yard and one reception for another minus yard, is bench material for the Jets, and you. Go get Washington.
Interesting: I had Byron Leftwich in a league and while the two touchdowns are nice, man, I needed more than 140 yards. I find irony in Leftwich and Tom Brady each throwing for the same amount of yards and touchdowns. Every so often Leftwich has a big game, like Brady, but more often than not it's just about the victory.
OK, and now to the 1 p.m. ET games.

Bears 40, Bills 7: OK, this one was pretty bad, so why I thought the Bills would make this competitive, I don't know. I thought J.P. Losman had shown improvement this season. The Bills defense had done a good job. But the Bears steamrolled them. It was embarrassing, 40-0 until the final minute. And that just angered those with the Bears D in fantasy. Oooh, that shutout would have been sweet.
MVP: Can someone give this Robbie Gould guy some credit? I checked the fantasy leaderboard after the early games and it was led by the Vikings defense and a kicker, Gould. Ol' Robbie is now 17-for-17 in field goal attempts after nailing four more Sunday. Remember Neil Rackers from last year? Gould's gonna smash those numbers. It's either Gould or the defense for MVP honors; Rex Grossman, who I finally called a weekly play a few days ago, didn't need to do much, but sprinkled two touchdowns in with his 182 yards.
LVP: I didn't expect much more from Willis McGahee, so his 50 yards is no big disappointment (it is nice to see the four receptions). It's gotta be Losman, who had a negative fantasy day until the touchdown pass to Lee Evans. But it's impossible to judge Losman based on the opponent. Who would have played Losman anyway in this one?
Interesting: Thomas Jones owners need not worry than Cedric Benson had more fantasy points; Jones did all the heavy lifting and topped 100 yards rushing for the first time, looking very good. Then the sophomore got the second-half carries and his second touchdown (he also scored in the second quarter). This is still Jones' job. And don't bet against the Bears at home, where they have outscored opponents 111-20.
Rams 23, Packers 20: Finally, it's an intermediate day for Brett Favre, after two very good games with identical stats of 340 yards and three scores, and two miserable efforts against good defenses in which the Packers didn't score a touchdown. Here Favre got 220 yards and a score, perfectly mediocre. It's about time! What did we learn? Nothing. Favre's worth it under the right circumstances, that's about it.
MVP: Rather than pick another kicker, which is the reasonable thing to do (Jeff Wilkins entered the day with more points than Gould, and had 11 points in this one), let's focus on Marc Bulger. He had the same amount of yards as Favre, but a pair of touchdowns. Most people expected more, actually. But kudos to Bulger for still not throwing an interception. Not a one all season. Who would have guessed that?
LVP: Once fantasy owners knew that Ahman Green wasn't going to play, Vernand Morency became the hot replacement. And why not? All he did was rush for 99 yards on Monday night football a week ago. But Morency fumbled on the first drive, and then it became the Noah Herron show, with the third-string back topping 100 yards on the day and earning a first-quarter touchdown. Keep an eye on Green, because if he doesn't play, it sure appears Herron is the option. Morency was started by too many people, and managed 15 yards.
Interesting: Last week Bulger managed to find both of his main wide receivers enough to get Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce over 100 yards receiving. This week he throws his 18 completions to nine different receivers, with nobody topping three, and the only guy topping 40 yards receiving being Tony Fisher. Yuck.
Colts 14, Titans 13: Pathetic. Give credit to Tennessee for not only making this a game, but a game they could have won. Vince Young rushes for an early score and it's 10-0 at the half. A winless team on the road beating the undefeated Colts? Hard to believe. Maybe this defense is better than people thought. Should we reevaluate Daunte Culpepper after the Titans shut him down? Um, no.
MVP: I don't know when the Titans will settle on a starting running back, but it sure looks like Travis Henry is having a better season than Chris Brown, who didn't even dress for the game. Henry ran for 123 yards and looks like a legit flex running back, at worst, if we know he's the starter. Is it me or doesn't it seem like teams are running on the Colts at will? The Jags went wild on them two weeks ago as well.
LVP: It's a disappointing game for just about every Colt to some degree, but at least the top wide receivers scored, and the running backs had some yards. Dominic Rhodes ran for 84 yards, Joseph Addai 62. Other backs did worse. But for Peyton Manning to only get 166 yards, that's far lower than expected. Chalk it up to a bad day or next time your fantasy stars play Tennessee do we have to remember the Titans?
Interesting: You say Vince Young had a big game? Well, there wasn't much doubt he could run. But 68 yards passing doesn't get it done. If it was 168 yards, maybe the Titans would have won. Young is not a good fantasy play, still.
Vikings 26, Lions 17: The final score is certainly misleading, as it was 17-3 Lions into the final quarter, and 17-16 with only a few minutes left. Then Jon Kitna got back to his old tricks sharing the ball and the score got out of hand. The Lions just aren't real good.
MVP: The Vikings defense ended up a nice play, with 20 points in ESPN leagues thanks to Kitna fumbling a ball on his own one and then the late interception return for a score. But Kitna did deliver two touchdowns, so he was worth playing, more so than Brad Johnson was (depending on how you count interceptions).
LVP: Raise your hand if you played Kevin Jones? Ten carries for eight yards? Kitna ran for eight yards on his lone carry! Looks like Jones is firmly back in the fantasy doghouse. In fairness, he did leave with a concussion, but ultimately it's tough to trust him.
Interesting: Even when they were trailing, the Vikings were able to do what they want to do with Chester Taylor, and he finished with 26 carries and a season-high 123 yards. That's ball control. But the passing game has to be more of a threat for times when sure-handed QBs are the opposition.
Patriots 20, Dolphins 10: In reality, the Dolphins didn't fare any better without Daunte Culpepper than they did with him playing poorly. Joey Harrington threw 41 times, which is only two more times than Culpepper did last week. Now what happens to the quarterback situation next game? It's Culpepper, assuming he's healthy. But the Dolphins didn't lose because of Harrington.
MVP: Sticking with the running theme of the fantasy day, few players had outstanding statistical games. The Pats scored two touchdowns, but we can't present Troy Brown or Heath Evans with awards. Tom Brady gets 140 yards? Yawn. We've gotta leave this blank.
LVP: After last week, when he rushed for 125 yards and two scores, most Laurence Maroney owners had him in the lineup. That was a mistake. Hey, I would have played him as well, but Maroney did little, needing an 11-yard run on his final carry just to average more than two yards per carry. Sure, Corey Dillon only rushed for 45 yards, but Maroney was treated like a fantasy superstar this week. Ah, the life of fantasy rookies.
Interesting: Ronnie Brown continues to anger his fantasy owners who made him a first round pick. Just 39 yards? At least he got into the end zone, which is more than the New England backs managed.
Saints 24, Buccaneers 21: What did Reggie Bush do differently in this game? He got the ball thrown his way more times, ultimately ending up with 11 catches. He wasn't a factor rushing the ball. Oh yeah, he broke a punt return for a score to win the game. That's what we expected from Reggie Bush. One play, late in the game resulted in his first pro touchdown, and now fantasy owners are happy. But in reality, it was the same Bush. If you think you can live with that in your lineup, what would have been 80 total yards and no scores until late, keep him active.
MVP: Deuce McAllister is the star of the game statistically with his 123 yards, 57 coming on one play early on, and a 24-yard TD scamper. Still, McAllister only got 15 carries, which is about his average. Can you believe the Saints are 4-1?
LVP: Rookie Marques Colston entered the day with 51 fantasy points, only four behind the leader among wide receivers, Santana Moss. Colston doesn't get any closer with this game, three catches for 38 yards. Really, Drew Brees had a very short passing game, averaging only five yards per completion. Joe Horn wasn't much better.
Interesting: So that Bruce Gradkowski performance wasn't nearly as bad as you thought, was it? Look, the kid was drafted, he obviously has some ability. He's an NFL quarterback. I had to play him in one league, and I did the research, I thought he'd be OK, which he was with 225 yards and two touchdowns. Joey Galloway caught a touchdown early and later a 52-yarder for another 100-yard day. He appears all or nothing, but as I said a week ago, Gradkowski will help his stats. Even Carnell Williams had a big day with 111 rushing yards. How did Tampa lose this game? Oh that's right, on a punt return by some rookie.
Giants 19, Redskins 3: I saw every wobbly Mark Brunell pass in this one, and it was painful. Even my kids started asking who the Redskins backup was. No turnovers in this game by either team, and the Giants held the ball for so much longer, it was methodical, and boring. Just the type of game the Giants needed.
MVP: Again, I don't want to pick a kicker. And Jay Feely could have done more. Eli Manning played smart, accumulating 256 yards and hitting Plaxico Burress on a touchdown pass. No turnovers. Smart. And no quarterback in the early games had within 20 passing yards of Eli.
LVP: Brunell was terrible. But more people played Santana Moss, who had only three receptions for 39 yards. Other than the big Moss game with three scores, he's been, well, Mark Clayton. Not good.
Interesting: Tiki Barber rushed for 123 yards. In Weeks 2 and 3 against the Eagles and Seahawks, he ran for a total of 115 yards. Not that it matters, he's never going to be on a fantasy bench anyway, right? Right?!?
Panthers 20, Browns 12: Yet another game devoid of statistical goodies. One offensive touchdown. That's it. What is there to say about this game? The Browns defense is clearly better than we expected a month ago. But all Charlie Frye could do was get Phil Dawson four field goals.
MVP: Keyshawn Johnson had more yards than Steve Smith, and scored the game's offensive touchdown. That's all it takes. Don't read much into this, Smith was healthy and still remains a top notch fantasy receiver. He did drop three passes, including one in the end zone, however.
LVP: I expected more from the combo of Frye and Braylon Edwards. Kellen Winslow caught eight passes, so he didn't disappoint.
Interesting: DeShaun Foster owners remained cool on playing him, even after last week's 105 yards, which followed up an 82-yard performance. Why fall in love with the guy for fantasy if DeAngelo Williams is just going to overtake him? Well, Williams left early with an ankle injury, and Foster ended up with season highs in carries and yards (106 yards). Foster's looking underrated. More on Tuesday from the Chargers-Steelers game and Monday night.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/6/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/6/06)

Monday, October 9, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Where the Rivers Throws


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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 -->It's kind of fitting that Sunday night's game pitted two 24-year-old, 2004 first-round quarterbacks against each other, because the more I watch the Chargers' Philip Rivers throw, the more I feel like I'm watching a newer version of the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger.
Oh, I know what you're thinking ... Roethlisberger has been a fantasy disaster all season, with two more interceptions on Sunday to bring his season to seven compared to zero touchdowns -- ZERO! -- while averaging only 189.7 passing yards in his three games since returning from his offseason motorcycle accident and early-season appendectomy. But the Roethlisberger to whom I compare the 2006 Rivers is not the Roethlisberger of this year, one who waits too long to locate his receivers, then more often than not makes an ill-advised throw. No, Rivers is shaping up as the kind of quarterback Roethlisberger was from 2004-05, when he was actually a pretty efficient passer.
Look at the similarities: Pittsburgh's offense, in 2004-05, was hardly a pass-friendly one, averaging only 23.0 pass attempts per game in those two seasons, and ranking dead last in the category in each year. Still, with the poised, proficient Roethlisberger under center, the Steelers nevertheless ranked in the top 10 in the league in fewest interceptions in each year, and finished a decent 19th (20) and 15th (21) in the league in touchdown passes in 2004 and 2005. That's a remarkably good performance for a guy in a conservative offense, which speaks volumes about Roethlisberger's talent ... and I do think it's still in there somewhere, hiding. Meanwhile, San Diego's offense, this season, has averaged only 26.8 pass attempts per game, which isn't dead last by any means but is also in the bottom half of the league. Rivers, though, has five TD passes compared to two interceptions, which are pretty good numbers for a guy on a team that leans so heavily on the run.
Of course, any comparison to Roethlisberger 2004-05 has to come with the postscript that he was hardly a "great" fantasy player. Sure, he had 12 multi-TD games, but his better performances were vastly unpredictable. About the greatest appeal with Roethlisberger was his tendency to avoid costly mistakes that hurt your fantasy team, which when you think about it qualifies a guy to be a perfectly respectable backup. When those bye weeks strike, it's a nice feeling to know that your stand-in quarterback at the very least won't hurt you, and that description sure fits Rivers. He's a smart passer, and even one with a little upside.
Plus, as we saw on Sunday, those "safe" types can often step up with a nice outing on occasion, like Rivers' 242-yard, 2-TD effort despite the bad matchup against Pittsburgh. He's sure rounding into peak form quickly, so don't underrate him as a solid No. 2 type. <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 5 was a bit of a lower-scoring week, and as a result of that, some of the lesser-known names who snuck up on the fantasy points list are suddenly Monday's most-asked-about names. Should you add them? At No. 5, Eagles WR Hank Baskett (19 fantasy points) capitalized on the absence of WR Donte' Stallworth (hamstring), earning his second NFL start and grabbing three passes for 112 yards and a score. Baskett might seem like a no-name right now, but he shouldn't. Remember, before Stallworth was acquired, he was sneaking up a lot of preseason draft lists as one of the more appealing sleepers around, and really, people only forgot his name because of Stallworth's huge Week 1. I wouldn't forget about Baskett. He was targeted six times Sunday, a healthy total, and can only benefit from the fact that most other Eagles receivers are a bit less than 100 percent. ... Bears K Robbie Gould (tied for fifth with 19) is now the league's leader in points (66), five ahead of the Rams' Jeff Wilkins. Granted, I normally say "who cares about kickers," but every year, someone steps up with the "Kicker Year From Nowhere," and this season, it's Gould. He's at 73.6 percent owned right now, but that should be 100 by Week 6. ... Finally, Packers RB Noah Herron cracked the top 10 at No. 9 (18), taking advantage of starting RB Vernand Morency's fumbling problems to step in for 20 carries for 106 yards and a score in relief on Sunday. Of course, it's a battle that could all go for naught if RB Ahman Green returns healthy after the Week 6 bye, but if you're looking for the Green handcuff, Herron's looking like your man. He's the better blocker of the two backups, and many times, NFL teams turn to the more "complete" player when making these kinds of decisions.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins
12-for-22 passing. 109 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT

Among the most frustrating things in fantasy is a guy with nothing but up-and-down performances all season. You know the type: He's cold, earning a spot on the most-dropped list, then he has a big game, maybe two, beginning to regain the trust of fantasy owners and winding up back on the most-added list. Then, right when it seemed safe to trust him again, he posts another stinker of an outing. Doesn't that sound an awful lot like Brunell's 2006? Sure, a lot of people assumed his hot streak -- tearing up the woeful Texans in Week 3 and then carrying that into an impressive performance against a much better Jaguars defense in Week 4 -- would easily carry into the Week 5 game at the Meadowlands, but apparently not. Somehow, these Redskins are building a history in road games against the Giants, and it's not a good history. Last year, in Week 8, they got stomped, 36-0, and this year, they lost again (though they weren't "stomped"), 19-3. The common denominator: In both games, Washington's streaky offense made a good -- not great -- Giants defense look exceptional. Brunell simply isn't the efficient, consistent passer he was with the Jaguars in the late 1990s, and fantasy owners need to learn that while he's OK as a bye-week sub in certain matchups, by no means is he to be trusted on a regular basis. Interesting fact: In Brunell's five games before the 2005 disaster at New York, he averaged 284.4 passing yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. Counting that game against the Giants, he averaged 163.1 yards with four TDs and six interceptions in his next seven contests. That's right, with Brunell, cold spells sure seem a lot likelier to linger than hot streaks.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 5</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: Ho hum, another week, another big game; 2 in a row as fantasy's top scorer</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>354</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>28</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars: Don't forget, he's still starting! His 3rd 100-yard G in 4 tries vs. NYJ (117.5/G)</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>21</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>111</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>32</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>20</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>Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers: QB Bruce Gradkowski didn't hurt him; he was targeted team-high 8 times</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>110</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>8</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</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>Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: His owners hope San Diego's Week 5 commitment to the passing game continues</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>55</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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


Trainer's Room
? Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald left Week 5's game against the Chiefs with a hamstring injury, and after the game he said he felt the hamstring pop, while coach Dennis Green termed it a "fairly serious" injury. It sounds as if Fitzgerald is going to miss some time, and if that's the case, consider picking up WR Bryant Johnson, who would stand to start across from WR Anquan Boldin. QB Matt Leinart did a much better job than expected in his first career start on Sunday, and Johnson was targeted eight times in the second half of the game after Fitzgerald's departure, which is an awfully promising sign.
? Chiefs RB Larry Johnson suffered a strained neck late in Week 5's game at the Cardinals when Arizona CB Antrel Rolle grabbed his facemask. Johnson left under his own power but will require an MRI on Monday to determine his status. RB Dee Brown would likely step in as the Week 6 starter if Johnson misses any time, and while he'd hardly be an appealing play against the Steelers, hey, a starting RB is a starting RB in fantasy.
? Lions RB Kevin Jones suffered a concussion on the team's final drive of the team's Week 5 game at the Vikings, while WR Roy Williams left in the team's first drive due to a back stinger. Losing both players could prove disastrous for Detroit, especially since RBs Shawn Bryson and Brian Calhoun would presumably have to share the running workload if needed for Jones, while WR Mike Furrey would receive a lot more defensive attention. WR Az-Zahir Hakim would step up to start alongside Furrey if Williams misses any time.
? Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams suffered a sprained ankle on his first carry of the Week 5 game against the Browns, and had to be carted to the locker room. His status for Week 6 is unclear, but if the injury is serious, expect RB Nick Goings to see a handful more carries behind RB DeShaun Foster, with RB Eric Shelton serving as the No. 3. ? 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 1 New Article Added 10/6/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/6/06)

Oct. 9, 2006, 1:13 PM
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Week 5: Was Giants-Skins misleading?


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By Jason Langendorf
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 -->One of the most difficult things about my job is determining what constitutes a trend. Just like you and me, NFL players and coaches have bad days. And when a few of them coincide in one locker room, you occasionally get a steaming, stinking slag heap of a game from a quality team.
Quantifying the effect of home field, weather and favorable and unfavorable individual matchups are tough enough. But what about elements like focus, motivation and discipline? When one NFL contest constitutes 1/16th of a season -- 10 games in MLB or five in the NBA -- the impulse is to draw some sort of conclusion. Even when there's none to be had. <TABLE class=text11 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=300 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER height="1" type="block" width="8"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>FIVE DEFENSES TO EXPLOIT IN WEEK 6
5. Lions: Bills QB J.P. Losman could be a sneaky start, along with WRs Peerless Price and Roscoe Parrish.
4. Bengals: Hold off on Gradkowski, but consider RB Carnell Williams, WR Joey Galloway and TE Alex Smith a go.
3. Raiders: Oakland's D isn't terrible, but Denver will make it look that way. QB Jake Plummer and WR Rod Smith are in play.
2. Texans: Holy schniekes, are the Cowboys in line for some serious self-therapy at Texas Stadium this week.
1. Titans: Watch QB Mark Brunell get well (again) at home. RB Ladell Betts could be this week's Jones-Drew.

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And that's where I was after Sunday's Redskins-Giants game. Washington's offense was phenomenal in Weeks 3 and 4, with RB Clinton Portis getting healthy and opening things up downfield for WR Santana Moss. New York's pass rush had sputtered early in the season, and the secondary isn't good enough to keep receivers covered for more than a blink or two. But instead of a game marking the second coming of the apocalypse for the Giants, everything suddenly clicked. Or maybe they just fell apart for the Redskins.
At any rate, the middle of New York's defense -- what I considered its soft spot going into the season -- continued to hold strong as some dude named DT Barry Cofield (a fourth-round pick out of Northwestern) helped stop up Washington's formidable interior run game. DEs Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora suddenly were getting to the quarterback -- on their own, via four-man rush, no less. Coordinator Tim Lewis didn't have to blitz as frequently, allowing for maximum personnel in coverage, and New York's veteran defense wasn't fooled by all of the Redskins' pre-snap movement.
Of course, it's important to note that Washington stayed within a field goal until two seconds before halftime. The Redskins' blitz missed QB Eli Manning by an eyelash on a big throw to WR Amani Toomer, which set up a field goal. If not for one bad step (or with a little help), FS Sean Taylor might have batted away WR Plaxico Burress' TD catch. The difference between the two teams' third-down numbers and scoring was a matter of inches.
I will say this: I'm not sold on New York's D, and I still think Washington's is only about a player away. Sure, the Giants' early schedule was a killer. The remade secondary is bound to get better with time. And if Lewis continues to dumb down the scheme, mistakes can be minimized and gimmicks like the no-huddle won't be too harmful. But New York faces playoff-caliber clubs on the road the next two weeks, and Atlanta QB Michael Vick and RBs Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood will test the gap discipline of LBs LaVar Arrington (a freelancer) and Gerris Wilkinson (a rookie).
The Redskins need a healthy CB Shawn Springs. True, they also need more depth up front to keep their aging linemen fresh, and they can't afford another injury anywhere. But the effect Springs would have -- blanketing opposing No. 1 receivers and knocking CBs Carlos Rogers and Kenny Wright down a rung -- could make the difference between a handful of sacks and a turnover or two per game. That's how close the D was against New York. And the Giants' offense, lest we forget, ain't half bad. Trouble is, Springs has been slow to come around and Washington still has Indianapolis, Dallas, Philadelphia (twice), Carolina and Atlanta on the schedule before Week 14. After next week (at home against Tennessee), you might want to consider cutting bait.
TWO CENTS, AND THEN SOME ...

I'm telling you, don't get sucked in by kid QBs Matt Leinart and Bruce Gradkowski. I understand the urge, especially with QBs Chad Pennington, Daunte Culpepper and Ben Roethlisberger playing poorly. Just resist. Chew some Nicorette or something. A rookie passer in his second and third NFL games, especially after a strong debut, is like Nuke LaLoosh catching big-league opponents the second time around. Advanced scouting reports can be a nasty weapon. ...
What happened to that tight end revolution prophecied by so many? Through five weeks, Owen Daniels, Daniel Wilcox and Chris Baker have scored more than Tony Gonzalez and Jeremy Shockey. Bo Scaife has better numbers than Chris Cooley and Jason Witten. Before the season I warned about using high picks on Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. Folks who waited to grab a Kellen Winslow or L.J. Smith in the waning moments of their drafts are feeling fat and sassy right about now. ...
Lots of whining about running back platoons going on these days. But the rules are the same for all of us. Besides, karma can be a wonderful thing. RB Cedric Benson burned me Sunday (RB Thomas Jones' 11-point output by all rights should've been 24), but RB Leon Washington showed me the love. The lucky sap who owns and started both RB Fred Taylor and RB Maurice Jones-Drew surely had to unwind with a Marlboro after Jacksonville's rushfest Sunday. Stay on top of the league and use trends to your advantage. Raging against two-back offenses sounds like grandpa grumbling about that rassa-frackin', consarned high-definition whatchamajigger. It's called progress. Get used to it.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/6/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/6/06)

Oct. 9, 2006, 5:31 PM
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Engel: Week 5 wrapup


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Here's a quick-hitting recap of key performances and news from the fourth week of the NFL season, complete with in-depth fantasy analysis.
T.O. not in the flow: So much for the talk that Terrell Owens would thrive on controversy. Good defensive preparation by the Eagles overcame Owens' desire to sting his former team on Sunday. Owens didn't catch a pass until the third quarter, and he finished with only three receptions for 45 yards. Drew Bledsoe did look in Owens' direction often in the second half, but the Eagles' defensive backs frustrated him with physical coverage, denied the deep routes and didn't let Owens get behind the secondary. In the first half, Owens didn't catch a pass, as he was well-covered in both single coverage and double-team situations. Owens hasn't appeared to be open much for anything but underneath or shorter passes in the past two games. His classic big-play ability hasn't been on display for most of this season, and Owens isn't a definite fantasy starter by any means. The constant pressure on Bledsoe Sunday didn't help, but Owens simply isn't doing enough to get the ball, or making much happen when he does catch it. It appears all the extra attention he is drawing to himself is detrimental, especially on the field.
Arizona awakes: Rookie QB Matt Leinart earned instant respect in his first NFL start. Playing behind the same shaky offensive line and with the same "lesser version" of Edgerrin James that seemed to drag down the passing game under Kurt Warner, Leinart looked much better than the former fantasy superstar. He made only one turnover, managed the game well, especially for a first-year player, and most importantly, he helped Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald rediscover the end zone (Keep an eye on Fitz' status as he left the game with a hamstring injury). Leinart immediately established himself with a 49-yard scoring pass to Boldin. Leinart displayed the poise and confidence that many experts said made him look better than the average rookie. His inexperience might still hurt him at times in the weeks ahead, but Leinart has demonstrated he can pump some needed life back into the Arizona offense. If he can continue to make defenses respect the passing game, Leinart will be a fine fantasy backup who can also help James face less defensive attention while giving the RB more opportunities to score from short range. Leinart does seem aware of the shortcomings of his blockers, and seems prepared to make quick decisions instead of absorbing several big hits and sacks as Warner did.
Chester Taylor re-establishes himself: Fantasy owners of Taylor were becoming concerned about the Minnesota running back entering the season's fifth week. His number of carries had been dropping every week since the opener, and he rushed only 10 times for 23 yards at Buffalo last Sunday. Taylor was beginning to elicit worries that he couldn't handle the pounding of being a regularly featured RB, especially after an ankle problem seemed to be a factor against the Bills. But against one of the most physical defensive fronts he might face this year, Taylor showed he is still worthy of being a regular No. 2 fantasy RB. The Lions had become notorious for making opposing runners battle hard for yardage, but Taylor banged and slashed his way through the front seven for 123 yards on 26 carries. He also added 31 receiving yards. Taylor is strong, determined and versatile. If you benched him this week because of the disappointing outing against the Bills, his performance against Detroit proves any concerns you had about Taylor should have been temporary, and no longer apply.
Nearly a shocker: The Titans actually controlled the first half in an eventual loss at Indianapolis, as they controlled the clock with a surprisingly effective running game. Travis Henry ran for 123 yards, his first 100-yard game in a Tennessee uniform. Rookie LenDale White rushed for 48 yards on eight carries, and showed a lot of promise, as he bounced off many tacklers and fought hard for extra yardage. Chris Brown was inactive, and the feisty Henry showed much of the strength and authority he used to display as a Buffalo Bill a few years ago. He'll be a good free-agent addition this upcoming week, but White was very impressive at times and could still end up as the No. 1 RB at some point later this year. Meanwhile, the Colts' running game wasn't a major threat, and the Titans sat back and defended the deep ball for much of the day. Eventually, the Tennessee defense cracked, but the team does now offer some hope in the running game, and won't necessarily be a weekly pushover anymore. Green Bay's new starting RB?: When Ahman Green was deactivated, many fantasy owners rushed to plug in Packers backup Vernand Morency, who had rushed for just under 100 yards on Monday night against the Eagles. But Morency nearly was benched against the Eagles when he lost the ball on an exchange with Brett Favre. The turnover was credited to Favre, but nearly cost Morency playing time against Philly. Ultimately, Morency was sat down Sunday against St. Louis when he again fumbled in the first quarter. Noah Herron took over, and rushed for 106 yards and a TD on 20 carries, and caught five balls for 20 yards. Herron is a compact, strong runner with good vision and quick feet. If Green continues to miss time, Herron could keep a firm hold on the No. 1 RB job. Add him this week, especially if you are a Green owner. Despite all the recent public ravings about Morency from the coaching staff, he appears to have lost his chance to play regularly in Green's place for the time being.


Brilliant Bernard: For as much talk as there was of Muhsin Muhammad developing a fine on-field relationship with the improving Rex Grossman, it's clear the Bears' resurgent QB definitely has another favorite target. And it's not just because defenses respect Muhammad so much because of his reputation and past achievements. Opposing defenders already have started to pay more attention to Bernard Berrian, and still can't seem to stop him, anyway. I originally thought Berrian was just a speedster who wouldn't consistently challenge defenses. But he has proved a skeptic like me wrong, and has surprised fantasy players everywhere. When he isn't getting deep, Berrian is making tough catches over the middle and on key downs, even as opposing defensive backs hang all over him. No one saw it coming, but the Bears now have a must-start fantasy receiver, and it's a guy who wasn't even drafted in most leagues. Berrian has now caught four TD passes in five games, and has totaled only less than 70 receiving yards in a game just once this year.
Return of the Cadillac: Just when he was disappointing us so much that we couldn't confidently put him in our lineup as even a flex player anymore, Carnell Williams resurfaced in a loss to New Orleans. Maybe the bye week helped get some needed rest from recently reported back problems. The solid play of rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski certainly helped Williams, as the New Orleans defense had to respect the Tampa Bay passing game, especially after Gradowski threw a first quarter scoring toss to the ultra-reliable Joey Galloway. Williams rushed for 111 yards on just 20 carries, as he appeared smoother and sleeker than he did before the bye. But Mike Alstott scored Tampa Bay's only rushing TD of the day and will continue to play the "vulture" role. It is a good time to sell high on Cadillac this week, because he hasn't been dependable so far in his pro career. Williams can certainly be very productive at times, but injuries and inconsistent statistical contributions have dragged his value down overall. He'll need much more than just one good outing to fully regain my endorsement as a top fantasy RB.
The New Orleans RB report: Sunday's performance by Deuce McAllister was impressive, and proved he has indeed recaptured much of the form that made him a top fantasy RB before he was injured last year. McAllister rushed for 123 yards, including a 24-yard scoring run. While there is no doubt McAllister can still run effectively inside, he showed off more speed and elusiveness, especially in the open field, than he did in past weeks. McAllister is definitely running with increased confidence and isn't hesitating to use cutback ability to make defenders miss. Don't hesitate anymore to use him as your No. 2 RB. Rookie Reggie Bush scored on a 65-yard punt return, but his individual fantasy numbers weren't thrilling, again. While he caught the ball 11 times, Bush finished with just 63 receiving yards and added just 23 rushing yards on nine carries. Bush is starting to look more like a wide receiver who gets backup RB numbers as a minor bonus. When any player catches the ball 11 times and doesn't score on offense, it's a definite concern. Bush continues to draw a crowd any time he touches the ball on offense, and he's a risky starter until he starts to break loose more often as a runner or receiver.
Those maddening Miami Dolphins: Joey Harrington certainly was no major upgrade over Daunte Culpepper in his first start for the Dolphins. Harrington was healthy, but he often looked indecisive and made the same questionable type of reads that cost him his job in Detroit. Harrington threw no TD passes, was intercepted twice, and dragged down the play of his teammates. Chris Chambers finished with just 29 receiving yards. Ronnie Brown rushed for only 39 yards as he seemed to face large gangs of defenders on every carry. Brown did score once, but the Miami QB problems are certainly affecting his production, as he is simply a main focus of the defensive game plans every week. On one positive note, Randy McMichael finished with 84 receiving yards on six catches, as Harrington looked for him often. Little man, big plays: He's listed at just 5-7, so it doesn't appear, at least on paper, that Jaguars rookie Maurice Jones-Drew would be a major threat to any defense, especially in goal line situations. But Jones weighs 212 pounds and has the strong lower body of a true NFL running back. Using his legs, Jones can push his way through any pile, and he also has great speed in open space. Jones-Drew might never get regular carries, but he has now become a prime offensive weapon for the Jaguars. Jones-Drew is a threat to score any time he touches the ball, from anywhere on the field. Jones-Drew scored on runs of six and four yards against the Jets, a week after he took a reception 51 yards for a score. Jones-Drew now has four total TDs this season. He is quickly becoming one of those fantasy RBs who is very difficult to keep out of your lineup even if he gets a limited amount of touches each week.
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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 10/9/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/9/06)

Another Power Rankings


posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


The Power Rankings from last Tuesday were received kindly (in general) by the users, but it took me only a week to realize that it's tough to do a Power Rankings when so few players really deserve inclusion in the top 12.

I'm not going to go on another Donovan McNabb rant, but look at the ESPN performance leaders after five weeks. It's a blowout. Not even close. Last week I ranked McNabb third. If he keeps playing like this, how can't he be first? Well, he is this week. I don't even feel like burying the lead, so to speak, and teasing you. McNabb has to be No. 1.
The big question is, does anyone else, other than of course the other greatest quarterback in the league, Rex Grossman, deserve to be in the top 10? Peyton Manning and Grossman are 44 and 45 points behind McNabb, second and third respectively on the leaderboard, and top 10 choices for our rankings. Anyway, last week I had nine running backs in the top 12. LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson went 1-2, and look what they rushed for this weekend. They each rushed for 36 yards? How sad. (At least they both caught the ball). This is a 1-2?
The rest of the top 12? Clinton Portis was OK, but his team managed one field goal. Willis McGahee did little, which was expected. Steve Smith did little, which wasn't. Peyton Manning nearly suffered the most embarrassing regular season loss of his career, but for fantasy, at least he scored twice.
You can tell me that all these guys, and Shaun Alexander as well, shouldn't be in the Power Rankings, and I can understand the thought. But look at this crazy fantasy football season. Who does belong? You'll pick the popular names from a truly underwhelming Week 5 and feel good about it, but they have question marks. (Look, maybe your team topped 100 points, but only one fantasy football player even topped 20 points this week, one. The first four weeks the average was seven per week. It was a low scoring week, even if your team managed to do fine thanks to the defense and Robbie Gould!)
You want Fred Taylor in? Fumblin' Frank Gore or Damon Huard? How about Hank Baskett? Anyway, I'm going to stick to the plan of running backs being a major part of the top 12. I still think these guys will be winning fantasy leagues. It certainly doesn't appear to be the wide receivers, not with a pair of defenses and a pair of kickers trumping any wide receiver in fantasy. That's hard to believe.
1. Donovan McNabb, Eagles
2. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
3. Larry Johnson, Chiefs
4. Clinton Portis, Redskins
5. Rudi Johnson, Bengals
6. Rex Grossman, Bears
7. Steven Jackson, Rams
8. Brian Westbrook, Eagles
9. Peyton Manning, Colts
10. Frank Gore, 49ers
11. Chester Taylor, Vikings
12. Tiki Barber, Giants

Just missed: Torry Holt, Shaun Alexander, Steve Smith, Willis McGahee, Bears D

How & Why: LT and LJ remain the top two running backs, with better days to come. Portis actually did OK considering the team result, and Rudi didn't play, so he shouldn't drop. Grossman enters the top 6. Look, he's got to be there, the way he's playing, and with the schedule ridiculously easy. I have concerns about Philly's Westbrook making it through the entire season. I still think there's a minor surgery in his immediate future. Gore and the Vikes' Taylor enter the fray, and really, some of you will complain they aren't ranked even higher. They might get there soon.
Only two receivers even make the just missed list, and it's Holt being added. He probably should have been there last week as well. But the e-mails about Holt's last five years are missing the point. All that matters is this season. Edge leaves the list, sorry to say.
So there are the Week 5 Power Rankings. Discuss.
***
? Got a few e-mails about our reaction to the Reggie Bush game. My original point on Bush was that nothing really changed in fantasy. He didn't run the ball well. He did catch the ball well. And while it was nice seeing him break a punt return for a game-winning touchdown, that didn't help most fantasy owners, since the points are credited to the team defense. But it did go to show that Bush is capable of breaking a play at any time, he just hasn't done it on offense yet. In reality, he's going to be a terrific player, but he didn't help most fantasy teams in Week 5 any more than he did in previous weeks.
? Also got plenty of e-mails from McNabb-led fantasy teams that not only aren't 4-1, but are 1-4 or worse. OK, I admit that one player shouldn't carry a fantasy team, and even if you've got by far the best player in the league, you could be getting very little from the rest of your team, or losing simply by bad luck. But McNabb wasn't your first round pick, you should have other talent around him. It's a guy you got in round four or five in most leagues. Wouldn't it stand to reason you'd have picked a few running backs in those early rounds? Yes, but as we've established, they could stink. So, my bad for assuming a fantasy team with McNabb, who has the best start for a QB through five weeks in NFL history, would be struggling. In this crazy season, McNabb could be scoring 30 for you, and the rest of the team not matching it, so anything is possible.
? While most of us would admit that bye weeks are a drag, though they do make even the laziest of owners at least check their lineups, note that this week and next it's not just four teams playing golf, but six. So there are only 13 NFL games this weekend. That lowers the available pool of fantasy options even more. This week there's not a ton of fantasy talent sitting, but Peyton Manning, Tom Brady (and each team's running back platoon) and Chester Taylor are reliable names. Just wait until Week 9 when McNabb owners have to find another option!
***
On to the fantasy recap of the Sunday night and Monday night games.
Chargers 23, Steelers 13: The big story after this one was not really the fine play of Philip Rivers, but the continued struggles of Ben Roethlisberger, who threw two more interceptions and didn't find the end zone, making it zero touchdowns and seven picks. That does not make for a good passer rating, nor is it attractive for the fantasy owner. I'm not going to write that I saw this coming. I didn't. Of course we all knew about Big Ben's tough offseason, self-inflicted or not, but I did assume a guy who manages a game rather than throwing 40 times would be able to succeed even if he's a step slower, or a little less bold. Still not sure what the deal is. Could it be that the Steelers have faced Jacksonville, Cincinnati and San Diego, three of the better teams in the AFC and all with strong defenses, and this is why Roethlisberger is struggling? I think that's the problem, frankly. Anyone who screams for Charlie Batch isn't watching the game. Things don't get much easier for the Steelers, with an underrated Chiefs D this week and then Atlanta, but if you own Roethlisberger, don't cut him. We've already seen how streaky he and his team can be, haven't we?
MVP: We'll give proper credit to Rivers, who is not nearly as big a surprise as people think. What held him back was Drew Brees and his coach. Rivers was in the same draft as Big Ben and Eli Manning, so he should be good. Only a lack of experience holds him back, not ability. Rivers threw two touchdown passes and accrued 242 yards, coming back from a below average stat game in Baltimore. Rivers is a better fantasy option than Roethlisberger.
LVP: Fantasy owners who drafted Tomlinson don't like seeing him get only 13 carries, with Michael Turner getting 11, but this could be a trend that continues. Tomlinson did not run well, which we can attribute to the opposing defense, but he did haul in eight passes. He's not Reggie Bush. He's better. But if you entered Sunday night only needing eight points from LT, sorry, you didn't get it.
Interesting: Lost in the fact the Steelers starting QB isn't doing much is the fact his receivers are taking the hit as well. Hines Ward does have a touchdown reception, but Batch threw it. Same deal with Heath Miller, who continues to be played in fantasy despite a misleading line that includes 168 receiving yards. Um, 87 of them came on that one play with Batch, and really, how did everyone miss that he touched out of bounds? And no No. 2 receiver has emerged, though Nate Washington has potential to.
Broncos 13, Ravens 3: Wake me when it's over. Oh, it did end? What time was that? Bo-ring. This game did tell us something about misjudged players, though, while taking away one of the unbeatens. It's about defense this year, folks. The Ravens have the fifth most fantasy points in the game, while the Broncos are 12th in fantasy, despite allowing only one touchdown all season. (In fantasy, it's also about the turnovers.)
MVP: What am I thinking when Tatum Bell fumbles on the first drive? Uh oh, just when I'm starting to recommend him he coughs the ball up on national television. But Bell did have a nice game with 92 yards and he didn't shy away from contact, either. Just ask Ray Lewis. With a terrific schedule approaching, Bell is about to take off.
LVP: Sure, the Ravens were 4-0, but Steve McNair wasn't the reason, at least not statistically. Can't rely on a late fourth quarter drive every week. McNair threw mostly short passes and got picked off three times. He remains a backup fantasy QB, at best.
Interesting: Is Derrick Mason a bit overrated as well? Could be. He ended up with the same Week 5 stats as T.O. (3 recepts, 45 yards) and if you look at his season, he has only one game with more than 50 yards and he still hasn't scored! Ball control and late drives are one thing, but Mason isn't a safe start at all. OK, more blogging tomorrow. Get those waiver wire pickups ready!
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/9/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/9/06)

Oct. 10, 2006, 3:59 PM
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Carroll: Fitzgerald, Westbrook and other injury news


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By Will Carroll
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Here's a quick lesson for everyone today: a tear and a sprain are the same thing. Even better, a tear and a strain are the same thing. A sprain is a torn ligament, while a strain is a torn muscle or tendon. Yes, the words sound confusingly alike and to this day, I'll still confuse them occasionally, but better descriptions help everyone understand injuries better. I don't expect anyone to bust out a "Grade II+ medial collateral sprain of the left knee," but knowing that a "torn MCL" is probably the same thing helps. Don't be confused by these interchangeable terms and certainly don't be the guy asking "Is it sprained or torn?" The NFL is anything but transparent about injuries and I understand why it feels the need for controlled and standardized information, reducing the "insider" nature of some info. The fact is, though, that gamesmanship has never been shown to have any real advantage. The Pats never won an extra game because Tom Brady is always listed as probable, and the obsessive nature of NFL coaches has seldom left them with a situation they didn't game plan for the prior week. The NFL could stand for more transparency, enforced or otherwise, even if it puts me out of a job.
There are a ton of injuries this week, so let's get to it:
Larry Fitzgerald is without question one of the top 10 WRs in the league. That means a lot of wailing and rending of garments occurred in the fantasy world when "Fitzgerald -- torn hamstring" went across the Sunday ticker. While details of just how serious the tear is are not publicly known, the indications are that it's a Grade II tear, palpable without needing any surgical intervention. It should heal without undue problem, but Fitzgerald's healthy career gives us very little to go on. The medical staff in Arizona doesn't show any decided tendencies on return time, so we're left with the broad range of two to four weeks with my guess being toward the end of that range. Losing Fitzgerald makes for some interesting fantasy decisions, but don't go making changes without facts. Studies by Pro Football Prospectus show that coverage by defensive backs is much less personnel driven than most think. The best cover corner is as likely to have his matchup chosen by position or scheme than he is by a decided head-to-head shutdown play. That's important to know for fantasy owners. You don't figure that Anquan Boldin, more a No. 1a WR than true No. 2, will get significantly more looks or even shift from his normal sets. Even Bryant Johnson, a guy who's not great by most measures like balls caught and yards after the catch, doesn't become a great fantasy play. Also, remember that the Cards have an easier second half and Matt Leinart will be getting more experience. Fitzgerald remains a solid fantasy option and if you have room on your roster, this might be a good time to steal him.
I'm loving the term "permanent maybe," so Geoff Reiss deserves the credit for coining it. Brian Westbrook is the poster child for this -- great when healthy, but there's no way aside from being Andy Reid to know when that is. Westbrook looked great on Sunday, a week removed from not even being able to keep pressure on the knee in warm-ups. Indications from Philadelphia are that the knee isn't as serious as some have speculated, though the symptoms still speak to meniscus problems. It's a tough play for Philly and the idea that a quick surgical fix (he'd miss two or three weeks after a "scrape and tape") isn't being considered makes me think it's a bit more complex. So what's a fantasy owner to do, aside from e-mail me begging for more info on Saturday night? (Thanks to all 124 of you that did so.) It's hard to get value for Westbrook in a trade, he doesn't handcuff well, so I'd hang my hat on the fact that the Eagles' medical staff seems to have used the missed week to get a handle on the swelling. That's right, I'm saying hang on to Westbrook.
It was a very scary moment for Larry Johnson, the Chiefs, and fantasy owners when a brutal face-masking left Johnson lying motionless for a few moments on Sunday. Johnson was lucky and his only aftereffect seems to be soreness. He had some imaging done on Monday, but according to all sources and reports, Johnson will be ready to go for practice this week. I'd love to see some sort of breakaway face masks in place, to prevent the next situation coming out much worse for the player than Johnson. Funny to think that Johnson is the best among the "automatic three" of Johnson, Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson so far this season, and even he's a disappointment. At least he'll have the chance to improve, something we didn't know for a few chilling seconds.
Did any Lions fans have Charles Rogers flashbacks? My initial thought on seeing Roy Williams take a vicious hit was that when he grabbed for his arm, he'd broken his collarbone. You can tell a lot from a player's reaction to injury. They tend to grab at the affected spot, though with the collarbone, it's usually to the affected side's wrist or elbow. The reason is that by supporting the arm, it takes the pressure off the collarbone and reduces pain. The body knows that instinctively. Williams doesn't have a broken collarbone, just a nasty stinger as the result of that Darren Sharper hit. He'll be ready to go this week in practice.
About 10 minutes after the start of Sunday's game, I got a text message from Antonio Freeman. He was telling me how he'd picked up Noah Herron and expected a big day. Thanks for hooking a brother up, Free ? 10 minutes late! Herron did have a big day, but don't overlook the fact that Ahman Green's two weeks off have given his hamstring time to heal up. He's expected back at practice this week and barring setback, should be back in the starting lineup In Week 7. Green seems to be at the stage in his career where he'd benefit from having a change-of-pace guy like Herron able to take a series or two during the game, so Freeman's pickup still looks smart. Since Free clued me in on Bernard Berrian and Greg Jennings already, I'm always listening.
The Jags' defense took a big hit when it lost Mike Peterson for the season. Peterson tore his pectoral (chest) muscle and will need surgery to repair the damage. He is expected to hit the IR. The Jags may have the bye week coming at the best possible time, giving Marcus Stroud extra time to heal up and be ready to hold down the middle of the line. With Peterson out, the Jags' vaunted run stopping and speed to the edges will be reduced, though that hardly makes them ineffective. It just gives those RBs matching up against the Jags a difficult task rather than a near-impossible one. The team has a favorable schedule over the next few weeks, so watch for Jack Del Rio and his staff to make adjustments on the fly.
"Explosive movement." That's what Daunte Culpepper needs to work on, according to Nick Saban. I'd have guessed he'd need to work on not throwing interceptions, but I'm just the injury guy. Culpepper's benching is more about decisions than his knee or shoulder, but what of this Saban mandate and what is "explosive movement"? That's a very good question. Calls to Miami seeking clarification went unanswered at deadline, so there's no clarity to be found there. Plyometrics are the first thing that come to mind, but given Culpepper's weight loss during his rehab, that doesn't sound like something that would really benefit the Miami QB. Culpepper has been beat up with all the sacks he's taken, but I'll leave it to Jaws to tell me if it's because of the line or Culpepper's lack of explosive movement when a DE is bearing down on him at Mach 2.
Jeff Fisher has been channeling Mike Shanahan lately, if you can channel a guy who's alive and still, at last check, a "coaching genius." As Matthew Berry says, Shanahan is the devil, constantly tormenting fantasy owners with his running back roulette. Fisher is doing much the same thing, interchanging his three RBs with no discernible pattern. None of the three has been healthy -- Chris Brown and Travis Henry both have turf toe while LenDale White has an ankle sprain and an adipose issue. (Yeah, look it up.) Brown was the odd man out, inactive for last week's game and now it appears that Brown may just be out. Henry's mild ankle sprain last week shouldn't affect him and the continuing hope of the Titans to transition to White appears to be moving forward.
Kickers continue to be problematic. Adam Vinatieri has been anything but "Automatic Adam" in Indy. Perhaps one of those Boston curses he left in his wake took. Vinatieri was ready to go as late as 10 a.m., when I do my Sunday morning med checks, but the Colts had already pulled the trigger on Martin Gramatica, re-signing him for handling kickoffs after Vinatieri looked rough going long at Saturday's practice. If you consider that kickers are really only as good as their opportunities, Vinatieri would be a disappointment anyway because the Colts have had very few FG chances and fewer-than-expected PATs. Vinatieri remains a game-time decision this week as this continuing saga suggests a more serious injury than the Colts have reported.
It was neat to see John Lynch on the bench, mic-ed up and talking with the medical staff. While the doctors went straight for his surgical scar, hoping that the area wasn't compromised, Lynch had no question what he had. "Just a stinger," he told them, describing the pain as going all the way down into his hand. Stingers, as we've seen, aren't much problem in the short term and a player like Lynch, a human heat-seeking missile, expose themselves to many stinger-inducing situations. The transparency of this one was great to see, though I'm sure Lynch would rather we not have had that moment. Bumps and Bruises: Shaun Alexander will be back at the radiologist, checking to see if his foot is healing up. Faith healing aside, Alexander sounds to be on track for a comeback in Week 7. ? Looking for some TE help? Jerramy Stevens returns this week for the Seahawks after multiple knee surgeries. ? Don't expect Donte' Stallworth back this week, despite "progress" with his severe hamstring strain. ? Kevin Jones suffered a mild concussion at the end of this week's game. Without most of his offensive line, that's no surprise. He has to be downgraded as long as his line is comprised of mostly backups. ? Brandon Stokley injured his knee in Sunday's game. Give part of the blame to his chronic ankle and part of the blame to the sticky Indy turf. ? Torry Holt shouldn't have much problem playing with a mild ankle sprain. ? DeAngelo Williams can't push DeShaun Foster for the starting job if he's on the sidelines with a sprained ankle. Foster's safe for another couple of weeks as Williams recovers.
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