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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)

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Oct. 10, 2006, 4:04 PM
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Week 6: Waiver Wire Work


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, we help you improve your fantasy 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
Damon Huard, QB, Chiefs (owned in 6.2 percent of ESPN.com leagues): What will it take for some fantasy owners to be convinced he should be added at least as a backup? He has scored 33 points in ESPN leagues in the past two weeks and has thrown two TD passes in each of the past two games, and he has not been intercepted yet. There is still no definitive timetable for the return of Trent Green, and Huard is getting good pass protection while making the right decisions and managing games well. He certainly is no fantasy superstar, but Huard's experience has been a plus since he took over as a starter. With many teams looking shaky at QB (Dallas, Miami, Detroit, etc.), Huard can at least give you respectable numbers. And the Chiefs are in no apparent rush to push Green back into action with Huard playing adequately.
Travis Henry, RB, Titans (30.9 percent owned): He left Buffalo when it became apparent that Willis McGahee was ready to take over as the primary runner, and in his second season with the Titans, the move finally appears to be paying off for Henry. At least temporarily, he has supplanted Chris Brown as the starter, after Brown expressed unhappiness with the organization in the preseason, and then posted disappointing numbers to begin the season. Henry was a major part of a near-upset at Indianapolis last week, as he rushed for 123 yards. Henry injured his ankle, but it's not serious, and he is not expected to miss any playing time. Henry is a good short-term add, but rookie LenDale White (59.8 percent owned) should eventually become the starter, and he's the necessary handcuff to acquire if you are able to add Henry as a starter.
Noah Herron, RB, Packers (0.2 percent owned): Mike McCarthy has maintained that Ahman Green remains his starting running back, and the Packers are hopeful he will be able to return after the bye this upcoming week. While McCarthy and offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski praised Herron for rushing for 106 yards against the Rams, they ideally wanted to have Green on the field to run through more of the open holes that were paved by the offensive line against St. Louis. Herron had only two runs of only 10 yards or more, and it's clear the coaching staff doesn't view Herron as their ideal starter. "Some of those 12-yard runs could be 40-yard runs," Jagodzinski told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "We left some yards out there." Herron could share some carries with Green if and when he returns, but for now, even though they wish Herron could be more explosive, he's their safest choice. Vernand Morency, the first choice to replace Green, was benched because of fumbling issues, and Green continues to be an injury risk. Herron is certainly worth adding, because he should continue to get work in Green Bay out of sheer necessity.
Bryant Johnson, WR, Cardinals (4.1 percent owned): He seems like the obvious add now that Larry Fitzgerald is going to miss two to five weeks because of a hamstring injury. But that doesn't make him an instant fantasy starter. But Dennis Green has yet to fully confirm Johnson will start, and he still might be considering Troy Walters (0.2 percent owned). Johnson dropped a pass in the end zone in Sunday's loss to Kansas City, and hasn't done much when he has been needed to start in the past. He was mostly ineffective when replacing an injured Anquan Boldin at times over the past two seasons. "That's something we'll look at over the next couple of days," Green told the Arizona Republic about how he will replace Fitzgerald. You should add Johnson, but only for reserve depth. Even if he does start this upcoming week, you wouldn't want to use him against Chicago.
Wes Welker, WR, Dolphins (6.0 percent owned): He doesn't start for the Dolphins, but it doesn't matter. He has quickly become much more than just a special teams standout. Welker is emerging as the Dolphins' most dependable receiver. Chris Chambers isn't getting open often enough, Marty Booker isn't reliable, and tight end Randy McMichael has been inconsistent. Welker hasn't scored yet, but it seems to be just a matter of time before he finds the end zone. His nine catches against the Patriots were a definite sign that he will be a featured part of the Miami passing game, especially with Joey Harrington now starting. Harrington is healthier than Daunte Culpepper, and that means more completions, especially to Welker, who seems to shake off man coverages and find open holes in zones. Welker makes tough catches and has breakaway quickness. Grab him now, before his fantasy production rises.
PRIME CUTS
Jon Kitna, QB, Lions (65.5 percent owned): He's not going to hold onto his job for much longer, and even if he does, the results will continue to be sporadic. Kitna threw three interceptions against the Vikings on Sunday, and lost a fumble. Yes, Kitna did have a pair of two-TD games prior to the disaster against the Vikings. And he does have two rushing scores. But the Lions are 0-5 and Kitna always seems to make mistakes that costs his team chances to win. Trade him if you can get anything for him, if not, just get rid of him. There's been no official announcement, but I know we'll see Josh McCown warming up soon.
Brad Johnson, QB, Vikings (49.5 percent owned): When you can add more dependable and less-heralded guys like Huard, why keep Johnson, who can continue to help the Vikings win, but won't post quality fantasy numbers in the process? The Vikings are a run-oriented team with a shaky wide receiver corps, and Johnson's job is to simply manage the game well and protect the ball and move the offense, which he does adequately. But being dependable for the Vikings doesn't mean Johnson helps fantasy teams much. Johnson has only three TD passes this season, and he has been outscored by Charlie Frye and J.P. Losman in ESPN leagues.
Chris Brown, RB, Titans (69.6 owned): He has rushed for barely 100 yards so far this season, and it's already been announced that Brown will be inactive for a second consecutive game at Washington. Brown was thought to be in line to eventually be overtaken by LenDale White, and his injury history also made him a risk. But now it's poor play that has quickly dropped him out of the starting spot in Tennessee. Brown had an average draft position of 79.2 in ESPN leagues, so it's not like you'll be tossing out a prime draft pick when you cut him. Besides, draft position doesn't mean much anymore by this point of the season.
Joe Horn, WR, Saints (91.7 percent owned): We've come to a point in the season where production means a lot more than reputation. Recently, I recommended benching Horn. Now, you simply have to give up on him when you need to get other important free agents on your roster, especially in leagues of 12 teams or less. Horn hasn't reached the 90-yard mark yet and hasn't scored. You're not going to start him any time soon, so swallow hard, drag down to the "drop" option, and hit submit. Troy Williamson, WR, Vikings (30.6 percent owned): Some of you have already cut him loose, but for those who are still hanging on, you can't wait around anymore for him to produce. You have to win now, and it's clear Williamson isn't capable of helping you do that. He hasn't caught a TD pass yet, and while he continues to get a few deep tosses per game, Brad Johnson hasn't connected with him nearly often enough. Williamson is improving, but it's a slow process that isn't showing up in the box scores. Williamson has only 77 receiving yards in his past three games and should be only on keeper league rosters.
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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)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Behind the Numbers


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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 -->None of Denver's top players finished with outstanding totals on Monday night. In fact, the offense struggled for much of the evening. But that was no major surprise against the best defense in the AFC. Yet if we look at more than just the final statistics, there are many reasons to come away impressed with how the Broncos performed against Baltimore.
If you're a fantasy owner of Jake Plummer, Tatum Bell, Javon Walker or Rod Smith, you have to like what you saw Monday night and have high hopes for the rest of the season. Outside of facing the Bears, there could be no tougher test for the Denver offense this season. And they not only passed the test but also served notice that you can confidently start Denver's top skill positions players in many matchups the rest of the way. Plummer threw for just 126 yards and was intercepted once. But he coolly put together the clinching drive, finding Rod Smith for a decisive 4-yard scoring pass.
Plummer had struggled much of the night during a cold rain, wearing a glove for better grip on the ball. But he came through when it mattered most, and talk of him losing his job to Jay Cutler should disappear for now. If he can lead a winning drive against the best defense he'll face this season, Plummer's confidence should rise, as should his totals in the weeks ahead. Smith had been invisible most of the year until Monday night. He caught only four passes for 30 yards, but he showed he is still a key part of the Denver offense, so it's still not quite time to write off the seemingly ageless wide receiver.
Javon Walker caught five passes for just 63 yards, but he played respectably against a tough opponent. Walker clearly has rebounded from his lost 2005 season. Tatum Bell lost an early fumble and did not score but finished with 92 yards. Bell, who had long been unable to nail down the starting job because he wasn't a successful inside runner, didn't finish with awful numbers. And his 12-yard run on the winning drive, during which he carried Ray Lewis on his back, was another clear sign that he has finally arrived as a top NFL runner. Any player who can carry Lewis on his back deserves to be an every-week fantasy starter.
Yes, Plummer looked bad in the first half. The wide receivers posted only adequate numbers, as did Bell. But the Broncos' best offensive players stared into the face of the toughest opponent they will face in 2006 and knocked them down at the most important time of the game. From this point on, things should be looking up for the Denver offense. If it can overcome the elements and the Ravens when it counts, you can expect better offensive production against lesser defenses, especially when the weather isn't an issue. And when the weather is an issue, it's obvious now that the Broncos can still deliver at least respectable final totals on offense. <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
Because the Baltimore offense lines up against its own defense every week in practice, you'd think that no other defensive unit could intimidate or confuse it. Yet it was the Ravens who fared much worse than expected on Monday night. QB Steve McNair had his worst game as a Raven, throwing no touchdowns with three interceptions. You can cite the elements to a degree, but you have to lay a lot of the blame on McNair himself. He made questionable reads and off-target throws in key situations. McNair is not a terrible fantasy QB by any means, and he could rebound from this forgettable performance quickly. But he isn't getting much help from his wide receivers or running game so far, and McNair hasn't been anything better than a fantasy reserve so far. Derrick Mason hasn't been a regular presence in the passing game, and Mark Clayton hasn't improved as hoped. Jamal Lewis has been a mediocre runner early this season. Todd Heap has battled through injuries, so you can't really criticize him much. McNair, though, seems to be carrying a lot of the offense on his shoulders, and he needs his playmakers to step up and perform better in key situations. The Ravens have a great defense, but their offense simply hasn't been much better this year for fantasy purposes. The only apparent difference is that their QB is worth at least a reserve spot in most leagues, while Baltimore QBs usually sat on the free-agent list in the past.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
23 carries, 98 yards, 0 TD

While many Tiki Barber owners are frustrated by his inability to find the end zone, his lack of scoring should seem much less surprising in comparison to Jackson, who has found the end zone just once in the first five weeks. Jackson has posted quality rushing totals, with less than 80 yards in only one game. But he looked like an unstoppable red-zone force in 2005 and was expected to be a scoring machine with more regular carries this season. Jackson, however, has been stopped short of the goal line on a few occasions this year, and he hasn't been able to break off any long runs that could lead to scores. Jackson hasn't played terribly, but he doesn't get around the corners with enough quickness, and he is being met by extra defenders on many inside rushing attempts. Opposing defenses are now very wary of Jackson as a regular rushing force and seem determined not to let him gain momentum and get through the front wall. Once Jackson breaks into the secondary, he can be unstoppable, but he hasn't been getting those opportunities. Defenses aren't letting him gain forward momentum and have made him run laterally, where he is less effective, and have been keying on him near the goal line. The Rams will have to make some adjustments in their schemes to open up more running room for Jackson.
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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>Alex Smith, QB, 49ers: Facing Raiders inflated his numbers, but he's a good fantasy backup</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>165</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>10</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</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>Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: Not his best output, and a risky start every week</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>11</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>33</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>53</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>12</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><!-- <tr><td align=center bgcolor="#555555" COLSPAN=6 class="stathead" colspan="6"> </td></tr> --><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Wes Welker, WR, Dolphins: Seems to be the only reliable pass-catcher on the team right now</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>77</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>12</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Alex Smith, TE, Buccaneers: Could continue to be a factor in suddenly rejuvenated passing game</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>16</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>6</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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


Names Makin' News
? Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald will miss two to five weeks because of an injury to his right hamstring. Bryant Johnson is expected to start in Fitzgerald's place. Johnson is certainly a downgrade in talent from Fitzgerald, so it will be a challenge for rookie Matt Leinart to continue to play well without one of his star receivers.
? Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said Larry Johnson's neck injury wasn't major and there are no indications he will miss any playing time. Johnson is going to be fine, Edwards said, despite some soreness.
? Rod Marinelli told the Detroit Free Press that WR Roy Williams is not seriously injured. He is considered day-to-day with a stinger and pull in his upper back.
? Packers coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Ahman Green remains his starting running back. Offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski said Noah Herron ran hard, but "we left some yards out there." The coaching staff indicated that a healthy Green could have certainly outperformed Herron, who broke off only two runs of more than 10 yards.
? Torry Holt suffered a mild sprain of his right ankle in Sunday's game at Green Bay, but he is expected to play against the Seahawks.
? The Nashville Tennessean reports Chris Brown will be deactivated again this upcoming week. Travis Henry will remain the starter for now, with LenDale White also getting some work. ? Monday Box | Friday Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/10/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/10/06)

Oct. 11, 2006, 11:46 AM
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FFL: Week 6 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. Donovan McNabb at NO
2. Eli Manning at ATL
3. Rex Grossman at ARI
<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->4. Carson Palmer at TB
5. Matt Hasselbeck at STL
6. Marc Bulger vs. SEA
7. Drew Bledsoe vs. HOU
8. Jake Plummer vs. OAK
9. Chad Pennington vs. MIA
10. Drew Brees vs. PHI
<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. Mark Brunell vs. TEN
12. Philip Rivers at SF
13. David Carr at DAL
14. Michael Vick vs. NYG
15. Damon Huard at PIT
16. Steve McNair vs. CAR
17. Jake Delhomme at BAL
18. Jon Kitna vs. BUF
19. J.P. Losman at DET
20. Alex Smith vs. SD
21. Bruce Gradkowski vs. CIN
22. Joey Harrington at NYJ
23. Ben Roethlisberger vs. KC
24. Matt Leinart vs. CHI
25. Vince Young at WAS
26. Andrew Walter at DEN

Running Backs
1. LaDainian Tomlinson at SF
2. Larry Johnson at PIT
3. Clinton Portis vs. TEN
4. Tatum Bell vs. OAK
5. Rudi Johnson at TB
6. Willie Parker vs. KC
7. Tiki Barber at ATL
8. Julius Jones vs. HOU
9. Brian Westbrook at NO
10. Steven Jackson vs. SEA
11. Thomas Jones at ARI
12. Ronnie Brown at NYJ
13. Willis McGahee at DET
14. Carnell Williams vs. CIN
15. Frank Gore vs. SD
16. Deuce McAllister vs. PHI
17. Edgerrin James vs. CHI
18. Kevin Jones vs. BUF
19. Warrick Dunn vs. NYG
20. Travis Henry at WAS
21. LaMont Jordan at DEN
22. Maurice Morris at STL
23. Reggie Bush vs. PHI
24. Jamal Lewis vs. CAR
25. DeShaun Foster at BAL
26. Leon Washington vs. MIA
27. Cedric Benson at ARI
28. Marion Barber III vs. HOU
29. Ron Dayne at DAL
30. Jerious Norwood vs. NYG
31. Kevan Barlow vs. MIA
32. LenDale White at WAS
33. Michael Turner at SF
34. Najeh Davenport vs. KC
35. Mike Alstott vs. CIN
36. Ladell Betts vs. TEN
37. Brandon Jacobs at ATL
38. Michael Robinson vs. SD
39. Musa Smith vs. CAR
40. Tyson Thompson vs. HOU

Wide Receivers
1. Bernard Berrian at ARI
2. Torry Holt vs. SEA
3. Steve Smith at BAL
4. Joey Galloway vs. CIN
5. Chad Johnson at TB
6. Terry Glenn vs. HOU
7. Santana Moss vs. TEN
8. Terrell Owens vs. HOU
9. Javon Walker vs. OAK
10. Andre Johnson at DAL
11. Roy Williams vs. BUF
12. <A href="javascript:newWin('http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/players/fantasy?statsId=5652')">T.J. Houshmanzadeh</A. at TB
13.
Plaxico Burress at ATL
14. Lee Evans at DET
15. Darrell Jackson at STL
16. Anquan Boldin vs. CHI
17. Rod Smith vs. OAK
18. Reggie Brown at NO
19. Laveranues Coles vs. MIA
20. Amani Toomer at ATL
21. Randy Moss at DEN
22. Chris Chambers at NYJ
23. Muhsin Muhammad at ARI
24. Isaac Bruce vs. SEA
25. Marques Colston vs. PHI
26. Hines Ward vs. KC
27. Jerricho Cotchery vs. MIA
28. Antonio Bryant vs. SD
29. Eddie Kennison at PIT
30. Wes Welker at NYJ
31. Derrick Mason vs. CAR
32. Keyshawn Johnson at BAL
33. Deion Branch at STL
34. Drew Bennett at WAS
35. Joe Horn vs. PHI
36. Eric Moulds at DAL
37. Mike Furrey vs. BUF
38. Rashied Davis at ARI
39. Keenan McCardell at SF
40. Hank Baskett at NO
41. Antwaan Randle El vs. TEN
42. Josh Reed at DET
43. Ashley Lelie vs. NYG
44. Kelley Washington at TB
45. Brandon Lloyd vs. TEN
46. Bobby Wade at WAS
47. Eric Parker at SF
48. Mark Clayton vs. CAR
49. Samie Parker at PIT
50. Kevin Curtis vs. SEA
51. Peerless Price at DET
52. Nate Burleson at STL
53. Malcolm Floyd at SF
54. Arnaz Battle vs. SD
55. Ronald Curry at DEN
56. Bryant Johnson vs. CHI
57. Nate Washington vs. KC
58. Derek Hagan at NYJ
59. Michael Clayton vs. CIN
60. Michael Jenkins vs. NYG

Tight Ends
1. Antonio Gates at SF
2. L.J. Smith at NO
3. Todd Heap vs. CAR
4. Jason Witten vs. HOU
5. Chris Cooley vs. TEN
6. Tony Gonzalez at PIT
7. Desmond Clark at ARI
8. Jeremy Shockey at ATL
9. Alge Crumpler vs. NYG
10. Randy McMichael at NYJ
11. Heath Miller vs. KC
12. Alex Smith vs. CIN
13. Eric Johnson vs. SD
14. Jerramy Stevens at STL
15. Chris Baker vs. MIA
16. Joe Klopfenstein vs. SEA
17. Ben Troupe at WAS
18. Bo Scaife at WAS
19. Stephen Alexander vs. OAK
20. Daniel Wilcox vs. CAR
21. Ernie Conwell vs. PHI
22. Owen Daniels at DAL
23. Dan Campbell vs. BUF
24. Courtney Anderson st DEN
25. Will Heller at STL

Defense/Special Teams
1. Chicago at ARI
2. Baltimore vs. CAR
3. San Diego at SF
4. Pittsburgh vs. KC
5. Denver vs. OAK
6. Cincinnati at TB
7. Buffalo at DET
8. Carolina at BAL
9. Philadelphia at NO
10. Washington vs. TEN
11. N.Y. Giants at ATL
12. Atlanta vs. NYG
13. Seattle at STL
14. Dallas vs. HOU
15. Kansas City at PIT
16. New Orleans vs. PHI
17. N.Y. Jets vs. MIA
18. Tampa Bay vs. CIN
19. Detroit vs. BUF
20. Tennessee at WAS
21. Miami at NYJ
22. St. Louis vs. SEA
23. Houston at DAL
24. San Francisco vs. SD
25. Oakland at DEN
26. Arizona vs. CHI
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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 10/11/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/11/06)

Is Berrian for real?


posted: Thursday, October 12, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


OK, it's been five weeks now, and I think we've learned a lot about fantasy football and a certain Bears QB. By now, since the e-mails about me once ripping him are down to nothing, you've figured out I'm on the Rex Grossman bandwagon. Funny thing is, I still feel like I'm alone on that!

I've been debating with others on TV and radio this week about this subject and now, oddly enough, I'm the one defending the guy? Whatever. He's a good play this week against the Cardinals. Most people are good plays against that defense.
Football's top team has been thoroughly analyzed by everyone, and in fantasy we've been over the Grossman angle plenty. You can set your weekly watch by it. So now do you believe in him? Yes, I did last week, I still do. We've also discussed the underrated Thomas Jones. The Bears' defense is scary, so much so that nobody wants to use Matt Leinart this Monday night against it, and Edgerrin James owners should think about benching him, too.
What about Bernard Berrian? I hate to point out the obvious, but this is fantasy's No. 1 wide receiver through five weeks. Is that significant? Some in the fantasy world will view his accomplishments as a fluke and continue to rank 20 other wide receivers ahead of them. Maybe they're right. Me? Let's see.
Here are the current top fantasy wide receivers. Note that Berrian leads the way with 66 points, which ranks tied for 16th overall. Ahead of Berrian are two kickers, two defenses (the Bears have a representative in each), seven quarterbacks (Brett Favre is tied with Berrian) and four running backs (a staggeringly low amount, but a blog for another day).
1. Berrian, Bears, 66 points
2. Torry Holt, Rams, 61
3. Santana Moss, Redskins, 58
4. Greg Jennings, Packers, 56
5. Marques Colston, Saints, 54
6. Keyshawn Johnson, Panthers, 53
7. Andre Johnson, Texans, 52
T8. Reggie Williams, Jaguars, 51
T8. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets, 51
10. Terry Glenn, Cowboys, 50

OK, we've got a few names who we expected to be among the best (Holt, S.Moss, A.Johnson, Glenn), a veteran replacing his teammate who was No. 1 last season (Keyshawn), Berrian and ... rookies. Lots of rookies. Now, we worry about rookies in fantasy sports, that they might wear down, get hurt, whatever. What about wide receivers?
Through five weeks last season, here were the top 10 wide receivers, for comparison's sake. Was last year's crew so surprising? Not at all! It reads as a who's who of the big names at the position.
1. Steve Smith, 83 points
2. Terrell Owens, 83
3. Holt, 79
T4. Larry Fitzgerald, 69
T4. Glenn, 69
T4. Chad Johnson, 69
7. Anquan Boldin, 63
8. Plaxico Burress, 62
T9. Jimmy Smith, 61
T9. Randy Moss, 61

Interesting in that everyone on the 2005 list through five games was a veteran receiver, no real surprises. And most of these guys finished strong, too. Last year's No. 10 receivers, the retired Smith and Moss (only one of them has officially retired, of course) had 61 points, and this year's No. 2 has that same number. Is offense down that much? Well, it's not down, really. But the statistical production of big wide receivers is.
OK, so what should a fantasy football owner do?
Ride out the inexperienced: I'm buying on Berrian, to a degree. No receiver (or running back, for that matter), has more than four touchdowns. But what concerns me about Berrian is his stats are so reliant on the big play, and the big play won't always be there. The Bears schedule is ridiculous, but at some point Berrian won't haul in a 40-yard score. I think Berrian can remain productive, and same with Jennings and Colston. They're legit.
Buy low on the studs: Holt is going to finish the season No. 1, in my opinion. Santana Moss might score every fourth game, but when he scores, oh how he scores. Get Boldin, and Plaxico, and T.O. All will be heard from. If you can steal a top but underperforming receiver from another owner, do it. The Colts' tandem will get there. Steve Smith will do well. History is only a guide for success, but do you really think Chad Johnson will be average much longer?
Don't overthink it: Stop worrying about who is a rookie or who is dealing with a new QB (Joey Galloway) or who was your 13th round pick. Play the best guys, that's the success for winning more often than not. I have Berrian in one league and won't sit him, and I don't care if my leaguemates think it's crazy, or Berrian might not perform in December. Win now.
***
Nice, friendly feedback (and I mean that, this time!) from the Power Rankings, so here are some of the interesting e-mails.
Will: "Hey Eric, Why does it seem like a sin to say LaDainian Tomlinson isn't a top 10 player right now? Michael Turner has destroyed his all important garbage time stats. The RBs should be LJ, Portis, Gore, Jackson, Parker, McGahee, etc. Until LT is productive again I can't see ranking him so high."
Eric: I think we have enough of a track record on LT to know that one game with 36 yards is not going to be a trend. In Tomlinson's other three games, he scored three times and averaged 100 rushing yards. I do like Turner as an occasional flex option, but I don't use him to downgrade LT.
Eric, Brooklyn: "Hey Eric, just thought I'd drop you a line about the power rankings. I think it is a good idea and an interesting feature, but it seems that it is not really that relevant to running a fantasy team, at least as long as you are only ranking the top 12 players. Pretty much all of those guys are going to be in anyone's lineup. The real questions that face owners during the fantasy season is how to rank the lesser known players. When you are dealing with injuries, bye weeks, underperforming players, etc, it would be more helpful to have updated rankings for the lower tiered players. Keep up the good work."
Eric: Thanks for the comment, Eric. Are the rankings relevant? I don't think everything we do needs to be regarded as giving lineup help, some things are for entertainment and to provoke discussion. The general feedback has been so positive -- and I'm not saying you're being negative -- because everyone loves a list, so they can debate who's on it. I don't mind debating its worth, too. Check out Scott Engel's lineup rankings every Wednesday for all the players, even the lower tiered ones, and anyone who feels we're lacking in a certain area of fantasy football recapping or projecting, by all means let us know. Thanks.
AJ Jackson, Los Angeles: "How can you leave Robbie Gould out of your rankings! The guy is single handedly winning me a league. He puts up at least 10 points a week! He is outscoring all wide receivers. Yet, you put the same tired people in each week. LJ, LT, blah, blah, blah."
Eric: The same tired people are the ones who will actually win you the fantasy leagues. While I don't doubt how valuable Gould has been to your team, and all teams that have enjoyed his top 10 stats, it's hard to expect this consistent performance all season. Maybe he does pull a Mark Moseley and score 150 points, who knows. But running backs, and this year the passers, are the lifeblood of fantasy scoring.
Ross, Minneapolis: "I really don't see how Holt can't make the top 12. I know that the power rankings don't take into account past seasons, but has Holt given any reason to doubt that he will achieve the same success he has in the past three years? Is there any safer start at the WR position in the entire league? But my main beef is with LT in the No. 2 spot. I'm an LT owner and I love having him, but giving up carries to Turner is not encouraging. Some LT owners are happy that he is being kept "fresh" for the end of the season, but only 13 carries is going too far. He's still top 5, but No. 2 is a bit high."
Eric: We've been over the LT thing, and yes, I see your point, but I don't know who I would rank higher than him, other than possibly Larry Johnson. But that could change next week. As for Holt, I agree with you that he's fantasy's top receiver, and he's probably No. 13 right now. But remember, I didn't rank any wide receivers in my top 12 prior to the season either. Holt still isn't currently ranked in the top 12 for fantasy scoring.
Jake T: "Maybe you're right on the Portis rating, I'm starting to think you might have been right last week putting him so high. But seriously, Chester Taylor? He put up three points on the Bills and there's apparently not a consistent plan to run him 20+ times a game. Even with the reception yards from the slowly failing Brad Johnson, he still doesn't have a nose for the end zone and is not in my personal top 12."
Eric: Fair points, but I disagree that the Vikings don't have a consistent plan to basically overwork the guy. They do. Taylor could certainly score once or twice this week, but you know the carries are coming.
Barry, New York: He may not warrant official inclusion yet, but Tatum Bell should be on the list. Would you trade Tatum for Chester Taylor? Not if you're smart. Would you trade Chester for Tatum? You would if you traded Marshall Faulk a few years back in a deal for a rookie named Portis and won the league because of it. When Denver has one back getting the carries, that guy deserves consideration for the top 12. Period."
Eric: I was very impressed with the way Tatum Bell ran on Monday night against the Ravens, and with his schedule very intriguing over the next few weeks, I'm guessing Bell is likely to be in the top 12 as soon as next week. He is a terrific buy low choice. OK, tomorrow, it's the Friday game by game preview.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/11/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/11/06)

Oct. 12, 2006, 4:48 PM
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Week 6: 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.
Remember this Titan? Travis Henry was one of fantasy football's best running backs in the 2002-03 seasons in Buffalo, but the next two years, he was nothing but disappointing, averaging 3.6 yards per carry and never once reaching the end zone. This season, however, he seems rejuvenated, perhaps a result of such little usage from 2004-05, with a two-TD game in Week 1 and a 123-yard rushing day in Week 5. That's not enough to call him a "safe" fantasy play, but it's enough to earn him another start at Washington, important in that he really could use a strong performance headed into the bye week. I'd call Henry a useful flex option for Week 6, but watch him play, because he's going to need to perform to hold off a challenge from rookie LenDale White, a sleeper down the road.
Joey Harrington's baaaaaaaack. Scary thought, isn't it? I remember all the Harrington backers from his days in Detroit, but, Harrington fans, in his days with the Lions from 2002-05, he had more interceptions (62) than TDs (60) and only 17 multi-TD efforts in 55 starts. And while some might say he was more effective than Daunte Culpepper in Week 5 at New England, he still threw two picks and didn't throw a TD pass. Culpepper's stock has slipped so far that he's a non-factor in fantasy and a backup in the NFL. The Dolphins will give Harrington until the Week 8 bye to lead the offense, and Ronnie Brown, Chris Chambers and Randy McMichael owners have to be worried. Hey, at least Harrington made better use of McMichael and Wes Welker against the Patriots than Culpepper did, but he needs to keep that up or this quickly will be a lost season, not only for the Dolphins, but for important fantasy guys like the aforementioned three.
The Michael Turner factor. LaDainian Tomlinson owners can't be happy to see Turner so involved in the San Diego offense. LT, a consensus top-three pick in the preseason, has averaged only 14.8 fantasy points per game so far, not a bad number but noticeably short of the 18.8 he managed in 2005. Through four games, he's averaging 84.0 rushing yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry, both his worst rates since his rookie year of 2001. Turner, meanwhile, has averaged 69.3 yards per game, 6.8 yards per carry and 10.3 carries per game, serving as a perfect change-of-pace to Tomlinson. It's a great setup for the Chargers, a run-based offense, but it's not ideal for Tomlinson's owners. The Week 6 game at San Francisco, a great matchup for San Diego RBs, should serve as a perfect example of how these two will be used looking forward. If Turner cracks 10 carries again, it's a sure sign Tomlinson's not going to get the chances to challenge for top-RB fantasy status.
The Bell tolls for thee, Tatum. I included Tatum Bell in last week's "10 Things," and he makes the cut again this time, for an important reason. Bottom line: Week 6 will be the definitive game in Tatum's season, a soft matchup against the Raiders, in a game where he can lock in his starting fantasy status for countless teams. In other words, if you want to "buy low" on him, or buy him at all for that matter, today's the day to get him. Monday -- if Tatum steps up as I expect he will -- is a day too late.
The rise of Leon Washington. Kevan Barlow had been looking like a respectable enough runner and a reliable goal-line option for the Jets of late, but a miserable four-carry, minus-1-yard performance in Week 5 has put his role with the team in question, especially taking into account Washington's breakout 23-carry, 101-yard effort in relief against the Jaguars. New York still isn't sold on Barlow, or Cedric Houston, or Derrick Blaylock, as its starter, and with Washington performing so well of late, he has a golden opportunity to step up and claim the spot this week against the Dolphins. I think he can do it, so pick him up, but he really needs a standout game here.
Arizona's offense without Larry Fitzgerald. Rookie QB Matt Leinart impressed in his first career start, passing for 253 yards and two TDs against a pretty solid Kansas City pass defense in Week 5 and making good use of receivers Anquan Boldin and Fitzgerald, who each caught a TD pass, and Bryant Johnson, who had six receptions out of nine targets. But with Fitzgerald now likely out for Week 6 against the Bears defense -- the NFL's equivalent of a brick wall -- and perhaps longer, Leinart's ability will be put to the true test. Arizona's an offense to avoid this week, but Monday night's game is still one to watch tracking Leinart's continued development. There are good matchups in his future in Weeks 6-7, after all, with games at Oakland and Green Bay, so it'd help with making those matchups more appealing if he can at least move the ball respectably on Monday.
Hail to the new Chief QB. Who would've guessed that by Week 6, Damon Huard, not Trent Green, would be the Chiefs' quarterback, and not only that, that Huard would be a fantasy option worth talking about? I'm not proclaiming him a top starter this week at Pittsburgh, but with 496 passing yards, four TDs and no interceptions in his last two games, he's at least getting the job done, which helps the whole Kansas City offense. What I wonder now is whether Green's going to be able to reclaim his starting job at all once healthy, especially considering his is an injury that's not the easiest from which to rebound. Another solid game from Huard would only make it tougher, though for fantasy, the other thing to monitor is how little the guy is throwing to Tony Gonzalez (one reception and only two targets in Week 5). Gonzalez owners can't be rooting for Huard!
The return of Jerramy Stevens. So many people ask me about Stevens' fantasy value now that he's scheduled to return to action on Sunday, and while I'd call him a tad overrated due to his five TDs in his last six games (postseason included), he's still well worth our consideration taking into account the dearth of quality tight ends. Stevens should step in as a solid, though not extraordinary, option with a week or two of reps to get back to full speed, but his return is actually more important from a fantasy angle in how it could affect the rest of the Seattle passing game. The Seahawks, who had been using a fair share of four-receiver sets, seem much less likely to do so with Stevens back in action, and that'll only hurt the numbers of guys like Deion Branch, Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram. I'd think the latter two will suffer the most in value, but we'll see if that holds true this week.
Exploring that Philly receiver depth. Donte' Stallworth's continued hamstring problems have created opportunities for several promising young receivers, most notably Hank Baskett, who had three receptions for 112 yards and a score in Week 5, and Greg Lewis, who had two TDs of his own in Week 4. Sure, Donovan McNabb's going to keep spreading the ball around, but remember, Lewis was once considered an up-and-comer, while Baskett had earned spots on many sleeper lists in the preseason before the Stallworth acquisition bumped him to backup status. In deeper leagues, you have to think about using lesser-known receivers, and if Stallworth's out again in Week 6, which seems likely, it'll be interesting to see whether either receiver steps up with another strong effort.
Bruce Gradkowski. One game is simply not enough for us to get a read on him, though his 225-yard, 2-TD passing effort at New Orleans in Week 5 was an awfully encouraging sign, especially since he led two drives down 10 points in the second half to give the Buccaneers a temporary three-point lead. (It's not his fault Reggie Bush broke off that long punt return!) Now Gradkowski gets the Bengals, a tougher pass defense, and while I'm not looking at him necessarily as a fantasy option in his own right down the road, his performance still has so much of a bearing on the numbers of guys like Carnell Williams, Joey Galloway and Alex Smith. It's a great matchup for Cadillac, though Gradkowski needs to keep Cincinnati's defense honest to open up running lanes, and don't overlook that Gradkowski targeted Galloway eight times and Smith six last Sunday. He needs to keep up that kind of performance to keep this offense rolling. Got a question or comment? Send them right here, and I'll address them in my column every week. Note: Please be sure to include your full name, city and state with your submission to be considered.
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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 10/11/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/11/06)

Oct. 12, 2006, 10:18 AM
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Cockcroft: Week 6 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: Browns, Colts, Jaguars, Packers, Patriots, Vikings.
<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>Bernard Berrian, WR, Bears (@ARI): He has scored a TD in 4 of his 5 G this season, and has topped 89 yards receiving 3 times so far. He leads the NFL with 5 receptions of 40+ yards, and is the leading WR in fantasy points (66). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Broncos defense (OAK): The Broncos have allowed only 1 TD all season, fewest in the league, and their 8.5 points allowed per G rank them 2nd. Plus, they've won 6 of their last 7 G at home (postseason incl.), allowing only 69 points combined. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Marc Bulger, QB, Rams (SEA): He has the longest active streak for consecutive pass attempts without an interception (214), and has averaged 285.7 passing yards with 6 TDs in his last 3 G. He has 9 TDs in his last 6 G during the error-free streak. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers (CIN): He has 2 100-yard receiving G and 2 TDs in his last 3 G, with 14 receptions for 279 yards and 2 TDs in those contests. He also has 6 100-yard receiving G and 12 TDs in his last 18 regular-season G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Terry Glenn, WR, Cowboys (HOU): He has 16 receptions for 209 yards and 3 TDs in his last 3 G, and 37 receptions for 622 yards and 6 TDs in his last 9 G. He also has 4+ receptions in 12 of his last 19 G, and 60+ receiving yards in 11 of his last 19 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Todd Heap, TE, Ravens (CAR): He has 6 TDs in his last 8 G, and 4+ receptions in 7 of his last 9 G. Also, in his last 11 regular-season G, he has 51 receptions for 545 yards (10.7 average) and 8 TDs, catching at least 2 passes in each of those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Steven Jackson, RB, Rams (SEA): He's the NFL leader in scrimmage yards (649) and is tied for the lead in rushing yards (465). He also has 3 100-yard rushing G, 776 rushing yards, 1,001 scrimmage yards and 3 TDs in his last 10 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (@NO): He has passed for 288+ yards and 2+ TDs in each of his 5 G this year, and has averaged 320.4 passing yards with 11 TDs and 1 interception in those contests. He also leads all players in fantasy points (133). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Willie Parker, RB, Steelers (KC): He has 4 100-yard rushing G in his last 6 G, and in those contests, he has 128 carries for 590 yards (4.6 average) and 4 TDs. He has also rushed for 190 yards and 3 TDs in his last 2 G, scoring at least once in each. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Ravens defense (CAR): The Ravens have yet to allow more than 14 points in a G this season, and rank 2nd in the NFL in total defense (219.6 yards per G). They're also tied for 1st in interceptions (9), and rank 2nd in total turnovers (14). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: QB Rex Grossman has quickly become a reliable fantasy option, but it's as much due to his own success as it is his rapport with Berrian. For so long as these two continue to perform as top-10 players at their respective positions, they're must-starts regardless of the matchup. ... Defense is winning more fantasy teams than normal this season, and if there's going to be a shutout this week, the Raiders-Broncos game at Denver is as good a bet as any. The Broncos aren't earning many fantasy points on turnovers, but they won't hurt you in the points allowed category. ... With most defenses focusing their attention on WR Terrell Owens, Glenn has been left open much more often than expected this season. He's one of the most underappreciated fantasy WRs so far, and should explode against the terrible Houston secondary. </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>Mark Clayton, WR, Ravens (CAR): He has been held without a TD reception in his last 6 G, and he has only 20 receptions for 186 yards and no scores in 5 G this season. Fortunately, though, he has been targeted 32 times during that span. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Alge Crumpler, TE, Falcons (NYG): He has been held without a TD in each of his last 3 G, and has only 1 TD in his last 9 G, during which time he has 26 receptions for 372 yards. He has been targeted 18 times in his last 2 G, however. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Joe Horn, WR, Saints (PHI): He has yet to catch a TD pass this season, and has averaged 3.8 receptions and 54.2 receiving yards in 5 G. He actually hasn't caught a single TD pass in his last 15 G, with only 53 catches for 705 yards during that span. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders (@DEN): He has only 1 TD in 4 G this season, and has been held to 71 yards or fewer rushing in 6 of his last 9 G. During that span, he has 165 carries for 639 yards (3.9 per carry, 71.0 per G) and 3 TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens (CAR): He has 30 carries for 77 yards (2.6 average) in his last 2 G, and has been held without a TD in his last 4 G. He has been held to fewer than 90 rushing yards in 14 of his last 16 G, averaging 61.5 yards per G in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Keenan McCardell, WR, Chargers (@SF): He has yet to catch a TD pass in 4 G this season, and has failed to score in his last 6 G overall. He has only 10 receptions for 113 yards in his 4 G, and he has been targeted only 13 times during that span. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Steve McNair, QB, Ravens (CAR): He has passed for 323 yards, 2 TDs and 5 interceptions in his last 2 G, and he has 6 interceptions compared to 4 TDs in his last 4 G. He has averaged 187.0 passing yards with 7 TDs and 8 interceptions in his last 9 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers (KC): He has 2+ interceptions in his last 3 G, and has averaged 189.7 passing yards with 0 TDs and 7 interceptions in those contests. He also has 12 interceptions in his last 8 G, dating back to Week 17 of 2005. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Seahawks defense (@STL): The Seahawks have allowed 67 points and 699 net yards in their last 2 G, and they failed to record a turnover in Week 4 against the Bears. They currently rank 21st among defenses in fantasy points (24) this season. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Hines Ward, WR, Steelers (KC): In 3 G since Roethlisberger's return to the lineup, Ward has 8 receptions for 95 yards and 0 TDs. Fortunately, however, he has been targeted 25 times during that span. He also has only 2 TDs in his last 7 regular-season G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Three Ravens make the cold list, and I expect them to stay there this week against an underappreciated Panthers defense. Granted, Baltimore's poor recent numbers have been fueled partially by a tough schedule, but they could also be attributed to McNair's problems heading up the offense of late. ... WR Marques Colston has been QB Drew Brees' preferred target this season, and with Horn's slump dating back to the middle of last season, he's at best a matchups option now. This isn't a good one for him, either. ... Jordan could quickly become a non-factor on Sunday if the Broncos mount an early lead. At least he's catching enough passes to be a useful No. 2 or flex option most weeks, and most of his owners have to use him, but I wouldn't expect big things. ... Roethlisberger doesn't belong near a fantasy lineup until he has a standout game. (And by standout, I'd be talking multiple TD passes and 200-plus yards.) </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>Laveranues Coles, WR, Jets (MIA): He has a TD catch in 3 consecutive G vs. the Dolphins, with 13 catches for 183 yards and 3 TDs in those contests. He also has 32 receptions for 451 yards and 7 TDs in 8 career G vs. the Dolphins. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Warrick Dunn, RB, Falcons (NYG): He has 37 carries for 247 yards (6.7 average) and a TD in his last 2 G vs. the Giants. He has also averaged 93.0 rushing yards, 109.7 scrimmage yards and has 2 total TDs in his last 10 home G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Darrell Jackson, WR, Seahawks (@STL): He has 34 receptions for 514 yards and 6 TDs in 8 career G vs. the Rams (postseason incl.). He also had 12 receptions for 128 yards and a TD in his last G vs. the Rams, in the 2005 postseason (1/8/05). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Randy Moss, WR, Raiders (@DEN): He has 21 receptions for 310 yards and 1 TD in his last 3 G vs. the Broncos. He also has 4+ receptions in each of his last 4 G vs. AFC West foes, with 22 receptions for 280 yards and 1 TD in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys (HOU): He has 8 100-yard receiving efforts, 118 receptions and 13 TDs, and has averaged 102.1 receiving yards per G in 17 career G vs. AFC foes. He has scored a TD in 5 of his last 6 contests against AFC foes. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals (@TB): He has is a perfect 6-0 in 6 career GS vs. NFC foes, and has passed for 3 TDs in each of his last 4 G against them. In those contests, he averaged 254.3 passing yards with 12 TDs and 4 interceptions. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Chad Pennington, QB, Jets (MIA): He's 30-for-49 passing (61.2 percent) for 190 yards, 5 TDs and 0 interceptions in his last 2 G vs. the Dolphins. He has also averaged 216.2 passing yards with 17 TDs and 8 interceptions in his last 11 home G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos (OAK): He has averaged 201.7 passing yards with 8 TDs and 4 interceptions, while rushing for 112 yards and 2 TDs, in 6 G vs. the Raiders as a member of the Broncos (2003-06). He has also averaged 236.4 passing yards with 36 TDs and 16 interceptions in 24 home G during that same span. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins (TEN): In his last 6 G vs. AFC foes, he has averaged 92.8 rushing yards and 126.3 scrimmage yards with 3 TDs. He has also averaged 94.3 rushing yards with 11 TDs in 17 home G as a member of the Redskins (2004-06). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Rod Smith, WR, Broncos (OAK): He has 10 TD in his career vs. the Raiders, his most against any opponent. He also has 12 receptions for 240 yards and 2 TDs in his last 3 G vs. them, including 7 catches for 190 yards and 1 TD in 2 home G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Even with the Seahawks using a fair share of four-receiver threats, it's clear Jackson is still QB Matt Hasselbeck's preferred target. Seattle-St. Louis should be a shoot-out, meaning this should be one of Jackson's better games of the year. ... If anything can cure Owens' funk, it's a matchup against the Texans. Houston's secondary lacks the speed to keep up with receivers of his talent. ... The next couple of days are a fine time to buy low on Palmer, who has gotten off to a sluggish start this season, at least fantasy-wise. He's still a top-five QB at worst, though, and should begin the slow road back to that status with this week's game. ... I'd actually argue that Portis' matchup against the Titans vaults him to the top of the RB rankings for Week 6. It's that favorable. </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): Bills at Lions could be in the low 40s. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Hot temperatures (80 degrees or higher): Bengals at Buccaneers and Bears at Cardinals could be in the low 80s. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Weatherproof games (safest playing conditions): Bills at Lions (Ford Field), Giants at Falcons (Georgia Dome), Eagles at Saints (Superdome), Seahawks at Rams (Edward Jones Dome) and Bears 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>David Akers, Eagles (@NO): 8 G, 64.3 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 5.50 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Morten Andersen, Falcons (NYG): 91 G, 81.1 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.15 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Josh Brown, Seahawks (@STL): 7 G, 73.7 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.86 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>John Carney, Saints (PHI): 60 G, 86.2 FGpct, 99.2 XPTpct, 8.05 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jay Feely, Giants (@ATL): 41 G, 76.7 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.00 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Robbie Gould, Bears (@ARI): 3 G, 100.0 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 8.00 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jason Hanson, Lions (BUF): 121 G, 84.0 FGpct, 99.2 XPTpct, 6.80 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Rian Lindell, Bills (@DET): 4 G, 66.7 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 5.25 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Neil Rackers, Cardinals (CHI): 15 G, 91.3 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 6.07 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jeff Wilkins, Rams (SEA): 95 G, 83.4 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.66 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 1 New Article Added 10/11/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/11/06)

Oct. 12, 2006, 4:15 PM
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Week 6: Engel's Mailbag


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Kevin, Boston: On my team I have Ronnie Brown, LaMont Jordan, Randy Moss, and Chris Cooley. Even with Jordan and Moss playing on the Raiders, I have stuck with all four players due to their enormous potential. Is it time to start finding ways to trade them or should I hold onto them and prey for a quick turn around?
Engel: Name value, past production, and potential to rebound at this time of year are not major factors anymore after five weeks. We know who is likely to produce and who is unlikely to rebound, as in Oakland's players. You can't depend on Jordan and Moss. Cooley is clearly a disappointment. Only Brown, who can post decent yardage numbers and score a respectable amount of TDs, can remain in your starting lineup. You're not going to get much for the other three on the trade market. And there's not much hope any of them will turn things around any time soon. What you need to do is package Jordan and Moss with other players in separate deals that can bring you new starters. You need to overhaul your roster if you want to entertain any real thoughts of a turnaround. No one is going to take Moss alone and give you much, but if you can offer another top player with him, maybe you can work a two-for-two deal that brings you a better WR. Or, you can target underperforming players who have a better chance of rebounding. Now is the time to buy low on Chad Johnson and Shaun Alexander if possible. Offering Jordan and a WR better than Moss if you have it could bring you a Johnson type in return, along with another RB who might get fewer touches than Jordan, but could have more upside. Of course, you'll have to find a team in your league with clear RB needs who has the depth to move a WR better than Moss.
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER height="1" width="8" type="block"></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>

Greg, Seattle: We have been working on a blockbuster trade in an eight-team league. More than the trade itself, and the players involved, I was hoping for your take on veto etiquette. Both parties accepted the trade, and other teams quickly vetoed. It was my impression that vetoes were to be reserved for grossly unfair trades, and were not to be used in order to block teams from improving themselves. Personally, I think if it is a willing buyer/willing seller, it should go through, barring a huge imbalance. This trade in particular, I have Steven Jackson, Laveranues Coles and Muhsin Muhammad going for Shaun Alexander and Terrell Owens.
Engel: I think the trade was vetoed because the perceived value of Owens and Alexander is still very high, while Jackson has only scored once, Coles is hurting, and Muhammad hasn't been dependable. But Alexander is injured and Owens hasn't performed up to expectations, so I don't personally think the deal is veto worthy. I don't think there is any conspiracy here to prevent either team from improving. But I think the teams that vetoed the deal believe you need to give up more for two guys who still have superstar reputations. Including a WR better than Coles, if you have him, could push the deal through. My views on veto etiquette are that trades should only be vetoed when they are clearly unfair. Where a team is in the standings or what needs either team has doesn't play into whether a trade is fair or not. In your example, I think some minor tinkering to upgrade at WR on your side or a downgrade at WR on the other side could make the deal happen.
Robert, Gainesville, Fla.: I have Rudi Johnson and Clinton Portis at RB. Then I have Ahman Green. Who is a better No. 4 RB going forward: Noah Herron, Ron Dayne, or Cedric Benson? Also, is Jamal Lewis for Antonio Bryant a fair trade?
Engel: Green's health continues to be an issue, so you might be looking at Herron as the obvious replacement and clear No. 3 RB. If Green stays healthy enough to play, Herron won't get enough carries to be a major factor. Dayne is the starter for Houston now, but he's mediocre and could eventually be surpassed by Samkon Gado on the depth chart. Benson will at least get some part-time carries and occasional goal-line chances. He's your best No. 4 option and can outplay Dayne statistically, even with less carries. Herron will be your clear No. 3 RB, or mostly a non-factor. As for the trade, Lewis is mediocre and Bryant is inconsistent. Neither player is dependable for above-average fantasy production. Lewis is ho-hum every week, and Bryant is boom-or-bust. It's fair, but neither team will be getting much of an upgrade, and will just be filling needs with less than-ideal options, it seems.
Kevin, Weymouth, Mass.: I drafted risky this year and it caught up to me fast. Daunte Culpepper, Randy Moss, Ronnie Brown, LaMont Jordan, Chris Cooley, and Roy Williams were all in the starting lineup. I also had the good fortune to draft Jake Delhomme as a backup and Chester Taylor. How can I save my season?
Engel: Delhomme and Taylor are going to be respectable starters for you the rest of the way, so you need to surround them with more solid options. You can start by cutting Culpepper and picking up the best available QB on free agency, even if it's just Bruce Gradkowski. Brown and Taylor actually give you a quality backfield duo. It's not a pair of superstars, but you can win with them. Williams should continue to play well if he stays healthy. The key is to get a better No. 2 WR and TE. You can try getting rid of Jordan for a WR, sending one Raider to a team that has clear RB needs. Then you can dump Moss for a decent TE. With a lineup of Delhomme, Brown, Taylor, Williams and a new WR and TE, you should contend for a playoff berth. You might get rid of Jordan or Moss for less than their perceived initial value, but if you fill your two most glaring needs, you'll do just fine. Use the RB to get the WR who is more dependable than Moss, who can bring you at least a decent TE in return.
Chad, Reno, Nev.: When is it a good idea to just accept a loss? For example, in Week 6, I have seven players on a bye, and if Shaun Alexander doesn't come back, then I will have only one available RB in a league that starts two and a flex. Should I just take a loss, try to make a trade, or pick up fill-ins on the wire? My team is fairly solid right now, and I am afraid that by trading or dropping players my long-term success may suffer.
Engel: Such a scenario also applies to many fantasy teams in the sixth week. But you can't worry about the longer term when you need to win now. One certain loss could mean missing the playoffs, by a win or points tiebreaker, and then there will be no future to ultimately plan for. Your opponents could be dealing with the same issues, so you must outwork them on the free agent list. Cut backup kickers or defenses to make extra room on your roster if you have to. Or, you can swing some minor deals. Last week, I picked up Travis Taylor, he scored, and now he's back on free agency. I made a minor deal for Leon Washington that paid off. Don't sacrifice any major players. But make some moves to give yourself the best possible chance to win. Study the matchups and trends, and strengthen your team for one week with nifty pickups and lower-level trades.
Robert, Knoxville, Tenn.: I play in a league that starts three wide receivers. I have Andre Johnson, Muhsin Muhammad, Reggie Brown and Keyshawn Johnson. Which one would you bench this week? I also picked up Reggie Williams. Would he be a must start after his bye over any of these guys? Engel: Andre Johnson is clearly your best starter, and I would never bench him. Brown has been dependable for the most part and will remain Donovan McNabb's No. 1 WR with Donte' Stallworth out, further increasing his value. This week, you have to like Muhammad against Arizona, over Keyshawn, who faces the Ravens. Williams has clearly arrived as a dependable starter, and you can rotate him and Keyhawn each week next to Brown and Andre Johnson. Muhammad shouldn't be used unless he has a good matchup and is needed to fill in for a bye or injury, as is the case this week. If Muhammad has a good outing, you can consider dealing him with Keyshawn to fill another need, or package Brown and Keyshawn to upgrade even more at receiver. If you can find a team with a top WR who need better depth at the No. 2 and 3 spots, you could make a trade to have another outstanding receiver next to Andre Johnson, while making Williams a solid No. 3 WR.
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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 10/11/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 10/11/06)

Thursday, October 12, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Fix Your Flex


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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 -->It often becomes a difficult decision to pick who to start between two players of similar value at the same position. In many leagues, it's even more challenging to decide who to start between players at two different positions. The "flex" position offers fantasy players more options than at another position, but also raises more questions when setting lineups on a regular basis.
In most leagues that feature the flex, the final decision of who to start usually comes down to a running back or wide receiver. When the two players have different values, the decision isn't so difficult. But when they are seemingly close in value, how to choose who to start? Should you use Wes Welker, who can make a lot of catches, especially with Marty Booker out, or Kevin Jones, who is coming off a disappointing performance?
In all cases involving the running back and wide receiver, it comes down to a simple case of who gets more touches. And in the majority of running back versus wide receiver decisions, the running back usually wins. Simply put, running backs are often guaranteed more touches, while wide receivers aren't. Every time a running back takes a handoff, he can produce positive statistics. Wide receivers like Welker might be targeted often, but fantasy players don't get points for targets. If a starting running back only gets 10 carries, that likely means a disappointing day. Ten catches for any receiver is a very productive outing. RBs are guaranteed more touches if they are featured backs, and they will usually get many more chances to gain yardage and score than the average WR involved in a flex decision, who usually isn't a top-15 or even top-20 player at his position.
Any running back who starts for his NFL team and gets regular carries should usually be used over a wide receiver who isn't a top pass catcher for his NFL team. Jones isn't an elite fantasy RB, but he should always get the call over a guy like Welker, who likely won't get anywhere near the amount of touches Jones will in most weeks. Of course, nothing in fantasy football is absolute, and there will be exceptions. It's hard not to start Terry Glenn (vs. Houston) over DeShaun Foster (vs. Baltimore). There are indeed instances where an outstanding matchup for a wide receiver is worth the gamble because of the huge potential for production, when it appears the RB faces a very tough defense and is due for a tough statistical outing.
Another example of when a receiver should be used over the running back is when the RB isn't a regular ball carrier for his team. Players like Jerious Norwood and Marion Barber III are just as risky plays as any wide receiver, because they aren't guaranteed a quality amount of carries. A solid starting wide receiver for an NFL team, such as Javon Walker or Isaac Bruce, should usually be activated over a part-time NFL RB. When making your final flex decision, it always comes down to who will get the most chances to touch the ball and/or score. Starting NFL RBs usually wins out when it comes time to make the final call, but every situation is unique and can be dictated by matchups or where a player appears on his team's depth chart. A starting NFL receiver might not get the call over a starting RB, but he will often get the call over the No. 2 RB on an NFL team. <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
Making the flex decision becomes even more difficult in a week where there are six NFL teams on a bye. It doesn't seem like anyone is going to have an ideal lineup this week, so you simply want to maximize the amount of possible touches and production at every position. In such a week, part-time and backup running backs step to the forefront, and become necessary plays because you know they will at last get a respectable amount of field time. Players like Cedric Benson and LenDale White begrudgingly become starters in a week like this one, because there is a good chance they will get 8-10 touches, and in the case of Benson, they might even score. Using a RB who gets a limited amount of action is a better option than some of the desperation-type WRs you might see on your free agent list. It might seem like a good idea to use Peerless Price or Josh Reed because they face the Lions. But players like Price and Reed waste away on the free-agent list for good reasons. They are a highly risky play against any opponent, and you can bet J.P. Losman will be looking for Lee Evans when it counts most. When you are looking for the desperation flex option this week, the part-time RB should get the call over the wide receiver who has done mostly nothing all year, or will be stepping into a primary role for the first time this season. This is no time to take a chance on Bryant Johnson, especially against Chicago.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Hank Baskett, WR, Eagles
Three receptions, 112 yards, 1 TD

Baskett was one of the big surprises of the preseason, as he went from undrafted free agent, to unwanted in Minnesota, to a possible starter for the Eagles, who acquired him in a trade with the Vikings during the spring. Baskett looked very good in training camp and exhibition play and seemed poised to assume a prime role in a depleted receiving corps. But when the Eagles acquired Donte' Stallworth, Baskett's chance to have the sequel to "Invincible" based on him faded away, as did his playing time. But with Stallworth now battling a hamstring problem, Baskett finally re-emerged to catch an 87-yard TD pass in the emotional win over the Cowboys last week. Baskett's a good free-agent addition as wide receiver insurance in case Stallworth misses more playing time. But he won't be a dependable starter, because Donovan McNabb will continue to spread the ball around a lot. McNabb could easily look for Greg Lewis over Baskett at any time. Baskett makes for a nice story, but that doesn't mean he should be in your lineup after just one outstanding regular-season performance. Lewis caught a pair of TD passes in Week 4, and then disappeared again. The same vanishing numerical act could be pulled by Baskett at any time.
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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>Marc Bulger, QB, Rams: Has yet to throw an interception, but opportunistic Seattle secondary awaits.</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>220</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>10</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>Travis Henry, RB, Titans: Still has determination, quickness and inside running strength.</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>19</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>123</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>10</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>13</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>Arnaz Battle, WR, 49ers: Good outing was illusion created by bad Oakland defense.</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>37</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>15</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Benjamin Watson, TE, Patriots: Hasn't scored yet or met expecations.</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>33</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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


Training Room
? Chiefs RB Larry Johnson (neck) missed practice on Wednesday, but he is listed as probable, and is expected to work out on Thursday.
? Titans WR Drew Bennett missed practice on Wednesday because of an ankle injury. He is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Dallas.
? Falcons RB Jerious Norwood (shoulder) is listed as questionable, but he was able to practice on Wednesday, a good indicator that he should be able to play against the Giants.
? Ravens TE Todd Heap (ankle/leg) is listed as questionable, but has been able to play through his injury issues so far this season and has not missed a game yet.
? Lions WR Roy Williams (neck stinger) is now listed as probable for Sunday's game against Buffalo. He was initially considered doubtful. ? Wed Box | Tue Box | Mon Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/12/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/12/06)

Friday game by game


posted: Friday, October 13, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


I've seen too many e-mails this week from fantasy football owners panicking about the fact there are six teams on bye this week. While I won't go so far as to say when you draft your team back in August you should make key decisions based on bye weeks, you should at least consider them to some degree, but never use them as a crutch.

I do pay attention to bye weeks when I draft, and maybe it breaks a tie between two players I look at for round eight, but the point is, this isn't the week to complain, as if there is a good time. Are both your starting RBs off this week, say Chester Taylor and Corey Dillon? Did you have a backup QB for when Peyton Manning had to sit? Really, I've heard so many complaints about this week, but who is really off that is killing your fantasy team? Only a pair of top 10 quarterbacks from draft day, a few timeshares at running back, you couldn't prepare for this? Week 3 was worse with two of fantasy's top three picks!
Next week is the only other time six teams will be on bye, and it's another week that shouldn't kill fantasy teams too much. Oh sure, you'll miss the top two defenses, and Robbie Gould owners will need to replace their kicker, but there's no QB you can't live without. The top two running backs for yards (Steven Jackson, Frank Gore) won't play, but you'll live.
The point is, bye weeks are hardly an excuse for losing a fantasy football matchup. It's lame. Sure, I've had to pick up a free agent or two for this week, but losing Reuben Droughns and Donald Driver is no big deal. Take a look now at future bye weeks and make sure your bench is stocked for the occasion. Why is Dom Davis still owned in so many leagues?
So, only 13 games to break down this week. Let's go.
Rams 23, Seahawks 20: I know what you're thinking, that the Seahawks are the defending NFC champs, they're coming off a bye and they swept the Rams last season. So what? It's a different team now, and the offensive line isn't the same. The running back isn't the same (this week, anyway). And assuming that a team coming off a bye plays better is wrong. All evidence proves there's no difference.
The Rams, meanwhile, are underrated. Records after five weeks can be misleading, and while the Rams are 4-1 but could easily be 2-3, this is an improved team. Marc Bulger is a fantasy start every week now, so are Steven Jackson and Torry Holt.
Who's a must play on Seattle? I'd expect two touchdowns from Matt Hasselbeck, maybe one to each of the starting wide receivers. Yep, I'd use Deion Branch, even though the Rams have played well defensively (except the Lions game). Maurice Morris should get 15 carries, but he's still not recommended.
Worthy plays: Both QBs, S.Jackson, all four starting WRs
You can do better: Morris
Giants 24, Falcons 16: First of all, Eli Manning is good for a touchdown or more every week. His streak stands at eight straight games, which doesn't seem like much, but it is. Second, there's got to be some urgency with this team. Unlike Seattle, they've been embarrassed this season. They're in a tougher division. They hate their coach. I can see the Giants coming out strong. Tough schedule or not, this is a quality team.
Michael Vick is a top five fantasy quarterback so far, and as long as he keeps on running, he'll stay that way. No, his passing stats aren't special, but he gets the total yards. You just have to change the way you look at him. If you own him, he's worth playing. Quarterbacks move the ball on the Giants. Just avoid the Atlanta wide receivers. Some of you are waiting for Ashley Lelie to break out. I don't see it coming anytime soon, not in this offense.
Worthy plays: Both QBs, starting RBs, Plaxico Burress
You can do better: Atlanta WRs, Jerious Norwood
Cowboys 38, Texans 24: Do you really think Drew Bledsoe is a bad quarterback? I don't. He has a few games like the Philly one every season, the problem is he's already got two games with three interceptions and the bye outta the way, so his totals aren't good at all. But he's not the 27th best QB in the league, no matter what his rating is. If you own Bledsoe and think you need to sign a Bruce Gradkowski or Jon Kitna for this week, I don't agree. Bledsoe has a big game, one of the biggest for quarterbacks this week, and so does Terrell Owens. How many teams have more to prove than Dallas?
How is David Carr the best quarterback in the NFL for passer rating? It doesn't hurt when you get to play while trailing. Carr did play well in these games, including the win over the Dolphins, and he's a worthy foe for a Dallas defense that got lit up by big plays last week. I'd play Carr and Andre Johnson, arguably one of the top three QB-WR combos in the game this season.
Worthy plays: Both QBs, Julius Jones, Terry Glenn, Owens, A.Johnson
You can do better: Houston RBs
Bills 31, Lions 10: I'd like to give the Lions a win at some point, but I can't do it this week. I've been paying close attention to Buffalo for awhile, because I keep waiting for J.P. Losman to have his decent play show up in the stats. This is the week. Detroit is so easy to pass on, watch Losman top 200 yards and get two scores. And Willis McGahee, to me, is a weekly play. He is third in the NFL in rushing yards. Touchdowns drive the bus in fantasy, and McGahee will get his, maybe seven or eight this season, maybe two in this game.
This could be it for Jon Kitna, who would take the fall for the team's winless start. In reality, Kitna is second in the NFL in passing yards. That's not bad? He's also second in sacks, and the No. 1 guy has already been benched (Daunte Culpepper). Don't run out and sign backup Josh McCown. He'll have the same problems.
Worthy plays: Losman, McGahee, Lee Evans, Roy Williams (if he plays)
You can do better: Kitna, Kevin Jones (he might not play as well)
Eagles 34, Saints 30: We know the Eagles are going to score. They're scoring on everyone. Are the 4-1 Saints legit? I think they are, with enough offensive weapons to make big plays and keep the team in games. Drew Brees has played well, Deuce McAllister has run well and Marques Colston has caught well.
As for Reggie Bush, my stance hasn't changed. He was a good play the first month as well as last week. It took the punt return touchdown to show fantasy owners that he can break a big play at any time. Why can't he do something like this again this week, but on a screen pass? He can. To me, you don't choose who to play in fantasy based on stats alone. You also look at their potential to make a little play into a big one. Bush can do that. Assume the rushing yards won't be there, but five or six receptions at a minimum, and maybe he breaks one.
Ultimately, it's tough to pick against Philly the way it moves the ball. Just be careful about their wide receivers. Donovan McNabb is just as likely to pick one you don't have active. Is Hank Baskett going to catch an 87-yarder again? I guess he could, but I doubt it.
Worthy plays: McNabb, Brian Westbrook (he'll play), Reggie Brown, Brees, both Saints RBs, Colston
You can do better: Other Philly WRs, Joe Horn
Bengals 27, Buccaneers 17: Like the Cincy-Cleveland game from earlier this season, you've got the powerful Bengals offense ready to explode, and the other team led by the young quarterback trying to stay in the game. Give Bruce Gradkowski credit for a fine Week 5 game, and he could do it again. In fact, the Bucs should move the ball. Carnell Williams should get decent yardage, but the Bucs seem to make silly mistakes. The Bucs are a team that constantly produces fantasy questions. The answers are, play Cadillac and Joey Galloway always, and consider Gradkowski an occasional play.
Worried about Carson Palmer and pals on the road? Not a bit. And don't take Chad Johnson out of the lineup. Yes, he's not doing much. No, we won't be having this one-sided conversation next week.
Worthy plays: All Bengals, Cadillac, Galloway
You can do better: Gradkowski
Redskins 27, Titans 3: I know the Redskins got walloped last week, and the Titans are showing signs of progress. But I can see Mark Brunell really enjoying this one, like he did against the Texans a few weeks back. Do the Titans play decent defense? It seems like it, but those who watched Peyton Manning struggle against them say a lot of it was Peyton's fault. I'll go with that.
Vince Young and Travis Henry are not to be relied on in fantasy this week. The Colts can't stop the run. The Redskins can. I've seen in a number of leagues already how Henry has been passed up for other running back backups, like Michael Turner and Correll Buckhalter. Honestly, Ladell Betts might be a better play for when the Redskins are up big and go to their backup.
Worthy plays: Brunell, Clinton Portis, Santana Moss
You can do better: Titans, Betts
Panthers 16, Ravens 9: I don't see why this game will be much different than the Monday night game in Denver. The Ravens don't move the ball enough. If Tatum Bell doesn't fumble that ball early on, would Baltimore have scored? Carolina has played better of late, they have more weapons. Sit your Ravens again.
But play your Panthers in the right spots, even though I don't expect a big game for Jake Delhomme or many points. You never sit Steve Smith. He's had big games before against top defenses. He only needs one big play to make it worth your while. I'd play DeShaun Foster, too. He's going to get all the carries with DeAngelo Williams out.
Worthy plays: Foster, S.Smith
You can do better: Delhomme, all Ravens, except Matt Stover!
Dolphins 27, Jets 20: Joey Harrington should get noticed after this one, though it might be a bit misleading. Even with one good game, and I think he will be good, he's going to remain largely inconsistent this season. Ronnie Brown and his owners should enjoy themselves, and I'd even go with underachieving Chris Chambers.
The Leon Washington pickup you made this week might work out, but then again, the Jets do intend to give Kevan Barlow the start and the majority of the carries. Why? Did you think Leon was the next Larry Johnson? I wouldn't play either Jets RB this week, but do expect Chad Pennington and his receivers to be pretty good. Last week's Jets game, just write it off.
Worthy plays: Both QBs, R.Brown, Chambers, Wes Welker, Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery
You can do better: Jets RBs
Steelers 23, Chiefs 17: I think it's too bad football fans are giving up on Ben Roethlisberger. Sure, he hasn't looked good, and he has reasons to look that way, but I just think he needs more time and the opportunity to face a lesser defense. This is the week. He's not an obvious play, but not the worst one. He's going to throw a touchdown pass.
Heard some rumors this week about Trent Green, both positive and negative, some that he'd be back any week now, others that his season was over. I don't know what to believe, but I do know that Damon Huard has played very well, leading the team to a few wins and throwing nary an interception. Impressive, eh? Even against the Steelers Huard can have success. Philip Rivers did.
Will Larry Johnson play? I guess this will be a popular topic Sunday morning, but I think he will.
Worthy plays: Both QBs, starting RBs, Hines Ward, Eddie Kennison
You can do better: Nobody really. How about Tony Gonzalez?
Chargers 35, 49ers 17: Time to grab Michael Turner. LaDainian Tomlinson owners think they have a right to complain about their top pick, but it could be far worse. Try owning Shaun Alexander! What's he going to deliver this week? LT is not going to be overused, especially when few backs with six years experience have this much mileage on the tires. The Chargers are thriving and Turner is an asset. Marty Schottenheimer doesn't care about your fantasy team, he likes splitting the carries. Regardless, LT remains a solid play every week, but Turner's not a bad option at all for the 49ers.
Frank Gore is tied for the league lead in rushing yards, and while there's still some concern about who will get the goal line carries for this team, Gore could certainly look a lot like Tiki Barber and get to double digit touchdowns even if he doesn't get the one-yard plunges. Alex Smith has been a consistent fantasy performer except for one nasty game, getting 15, 15, 16 and 17 points. I'd use him here but, ultimately, expect the Chargers to run with ease and make Smith play while trailing.
Worthy plays: Philip Rivers, both SD RBs, A.Smith, Gore
You can do better: All WRs
Broncos 28, Raiders 10: Looks like the prime time games this weekend might not be the most compelling. The Raiders are arguably the worst team in football, and Denver doesn't allow points. Now how are the Raiders going to win? I'm not sure I'd even play the top Raiders, so to speak, in LaMont Jordan and Randy Moss. Not a good week ahead.
Tatum Bell is going to run wild. Really wild. And the schedule is kind for the next few weeks after as well.
Worthy plays: T.Bell, Jake Plummer, Javon Walker, Rod Smith
You can do better: M.Bell, all Raiders
Bears 30, Cardinals 13: I think Matt Leinart is a worthy fantasy addition, but I wouldn't play him this week. What more do we need to see about teams playing the Bears? The QBs run for their lives. Running games are stuffed. Wide receivers do not make big plays. Points do not get scored. Sit your Cardinals, including the guy tied for the No. 10 spot among running backs this season, Edgerrin James. Yeah, you thought he was much worse than that, didn't you? Well, this is not that bad. But he's not likely to still be in the top 10 next week.
Rex Grossman should be good for two more scores, probably one to the No. 1 receiver in fantasy, Bernard Berrian. In one of my leagues, which is played off-line, most owners assumed Berrian had already been signed. He hadn't. Got picked up yesterday. Thomas Jones is a good bet to top 100 yards and while I understand why some owners would flat out dump Cedric Benson, this isn't the week to do it. Watch him score again and then you could try to deal him. This is going to be Jones' job all year, but Benson has a Michael Turner type matchup and could get 10 fourth-quarter carries alone.
Worthy plays: Bears
You can do better: Cardinals other than Anquan Boldin, a play every week. OK, everyone have a nice weekend and we'll be back blogging on Sunday morning with the latest news from the fantasy football world. Remember we do the Fantasy Focus on ESPN Radio every Sunday morning live from 7-9 a.m. ET, and you can ask questions there. Plus, Scott Engel holds a chat session from 11-12 ET, and there's the Will Carroll ESPN Motion segments filmed on Sunday mornings as well. See you then.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/12/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/12/06)

Friday, October 13, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Stopgap Seven: Week 6


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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.)
Broncos defense (OAK): Though the Broncos haven't been earning their fantasy teams bonus points for turnovers much this season, they did manage three interceptions in Week 5. Denver dominates at home, so this could be an ugly effort from Oakland.
Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks (@STL): Though Morris was a must-avoid in Week 4 against the Bears, he should be in for a much better game against the Rams. Expect somewhere in the ballpark of 15-17 carries, perhaps 80-plus yards and a score.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (@SF): Though I'm not the biggest believer in Rivers, since San Diego averages only 26.8 pass attempts a game (third fewest in the NFL), this is a fantastic matchup for him. San Francisco's defense puts little pressure on opposing QBs.
Alex Smith, TE, Buccaneers (CIN): Bruce Gradkowski did throw effectively enough to his deep threats in Week 5, but it's clear he's going to target Smith pretty often. The Bengals, incidentally, have allowed 24 catches and 2 TDs to tight ends in four games.
Michael Turner, RB, Chargers (@SF): The Chargers shouldn't have much trouble racking up points at San Francisco, so there's no need for them to push LaDainian Tomlinson too hard. Turner should get double-digit carries facing this favorable matchup.
Leon Washington, RB, Jets (MIA): He's coming off a 23-carry, 101-yard rushing effort in Week 5, and could soon lay claim to the starting RB role. Washington might be the best fit on the roster, and I'd play him expecting he'll be inspired for a breakout game.
Wes Welker, WR, Dolphins (@NYJ): Though he was once more appealing for his special-teams play, Welker is finally getting in quality work in the passing game, as new QB Joey Harrington targeted him 12 times in Week 5. He's well worth No. 3/4 consideration. <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 6: Steer clear of both of the quarterbacks in the Panthers-Ravens affair in Baltimore, as those are two quality defenses, the Ravens' Steve McNair has looked awfully shaky of late, and the Panthers' Jake Delhomme generally struggles to move the ball effectively in road contests against stiff defenses. ... I'd also avoid almost anyone on the Oakland roster, as it could be quite an ugly game at Denver this week. Most notably, RB LaMont Jordan, while too good for most owners to sit, should be in for another disappointment. Keep in mind that in his last nine road games, he has 160 carries for 511 yards (3.2 per carry, 56.8 per game) and no scores. ... Cardinals RB Edgerrin James goes up against the Bears' defense, the league's No. 3 defense overall (234.6 yards per game allowed) and No. 1 in terms of points per game allowed (7.2). With his shaky offensive line and a rookie QB in Matt Leinart still adjusting to life in the NFL, James should be in for a quiet Monday Night performance. ... Steelers WR Hines Ward has seen his numbers suffer terribly as a result of QB Ben Roethlisberger's poor performance of late. He has gone three straight games without a touchdown, and seems likely to extend that streak against an underrated Kansas City secondary. ... It's a wise move to pick up Cardinals WR Bryant Johnson in the hopes he can step up with better numbers in Weeks 7-8, but for Week 6, steer clear of him against the Bears. (Think of this as a similar strategy to picking up RB Maurice Morris before the week he faced Chicago.)


THE BOTTOM LINE
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-->Mike Bell, RB, Broncos
Cedric Benson, RB, Bears
Daunte Culpepper, QB, Dolphins
It's time to give up on these guys!

There comes a point to the fantasy football season, usually right around now, five or six weeks into the year, when it comes time to let go of those prime preseason picks. Sure, players like Bell, Benson and Culpepper are tough to cut since they were likely fifth-to-seventh round picks for your team, but after the quarter point to the season, draft status is irrelevant. What is relevant with these three is that their stock has slipped to the point where it's one battle for them to return to starting status in the NFL, and entirely another for them to become useful fantasy commodities again. Bell, who unfortunately lost his chance to start due to a finger injury early in the season, is now buried deep enough on the depth chart that he has only fringe value as a handcuff to Tatum Bell. Benson, who entered the preseason the Bears' starting running back, is only getting garbage-time carries, and not enough of them at that. Culpepper, whom many believed was due for a bounce-back year, has performed so poorly that Joey Harrington has overtaken him for his starting job. Don't hold out hope that any of these three have fantasy potential for the season's second half, because they'd either need an injury to a starter or a surprise turnaround for that to happen. We're deep enough in the season where it's better to use their roster spots on a useful pickup than hang onto them hoping for more impressive numbers down the road.
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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>Rex Grossman, QB, Bears: He has passed for 232+ yards and/or 2+ TDs in each of his 5 G this season</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>182</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>15</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints: Has 61 carries for 334 yds and 1 TD, and 7 catches for 37 yds, in last 3 home 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>15</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>123</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>8</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>18</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><!-- <tr><td align=center bgcolor="#555555" COLSPAN=6 class="stathead" colspan="6"> </td></tr> --><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Hank Baskett, WR, Eagles: He'll be an interesting No. 3/4 if Donte' Stallworth (hamstring) sits again as expected</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>112</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>6</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>19</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Ernie Conwell, TE, Saints: Decent game, but has only 11 catches for 80 yards and 1 TD 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>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>14</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>7</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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


Trainer's Room
? Titans WR Drew Bennett (ankle) missed a portion of Thursday's practice and is questionable for Week 6. Considering he has only two receptions for 10 yards in his last two games, Bennett is someone to avoid this week anyway.
? Jets WR Laveranues Coles (calf) was limited in practice on Thursday and is questionable for Week 6 against the Dolphins. He might hang around the injury report the next several weeks, but so long as he's cleared to play before Sunday, keep him active.
? Seahawks WR Bobby Engram (flu) missed Thursday's practice and is questionable for Week 6. If he's forced to sit out, it'd clear up a bit of Seattle receiving logjam, since TE Jerramy Stevens is due back this week, but WR Nate Burleson would presumably be the one who steps up as the No. 3 man.
? Ravens TE Todd Heap (ankle) was limited in practice on Thursday and is questionable for Week 6 against the Panthers. He has been on the injury report before this season and has yet to miss a game, so while he bears watching, he should be fine for this week. In fact, he might be the best fantasy option on Baltimore's roster.
? Lions WR Roy Williams (neck) missed a second consecutive day of practice on Thursday, though both times, he has been absent for personal reasons, not the injury. He hasn't been downgraded for Week 6 at Buffalo, however, and is expected to practice Friday and play on Sunday, in which case he'd be a must-start. ? Thu Box | Wed Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/12/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/12/06)

Oct. 13, 2006, 5:13 PM
Week 6: 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.
Buffalo at Detroit: It will be difficult for the Lions to control the ball with the running game, as RG Damien Woody (foot) is out, and<!--##FRONTSTOP##--> LG Ross Verba (hamstring) and RT Rex Tucker (knee) are listed as questionable. Kevin Jones will have to fight hard for yardage, and Jon Kitna could be forced into several adverse passing situations that result in big hits, sacks and turnovers. Willis McGahee also could have trouble finding many openings against a stiff Detroit run defense early, but he'll eventually start to see some running room later in the game and should score. An efficient passing game should take some of the focus off McGahee. J.P. Losman will connect with Lee Evans often, and veteran Peerless Price will get some important looks against a very vulnerable Lions secondary.
Start and Smile: Lee Evans
Watch and Worry: Jon Kitna
Carolina at Baltimore: It will be a major struggle for the Panthers to get their running game established, which means Jake Delhomme could face heavy pass pressure, especially on third downs. No defense can contain Steve Smith, but don't expect great production from him, and receiving partner Keyshawn Johnson won't get open often. The Panthers are without injured MLB Dan Morgan again, so Steve McNair will try to exploit the middle with a healthy amount of tosses to TE Todd Heap and WR Derrick Mason, who isn't afraid of making the tough catch. This won't be a high-scoring affair, as Ravens RB Jamal Lewis really doesn't have the explosion to challenge the Panthers' front seven. McNair won't throw more than two TD passes, but he's a good bye week filler and should outperform Delhomme.
Start and Smile: Todd Heap
Watch and Worry: Jake Delhomme, DeShaun Foster, Keyshawn Johnson
Cincinnati at Tampa Bay: Carnell Williams should be a major factor here, as he is looking healthy again, and the Buccaneers will want to control the ball and take pressure off rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski, who will play conservatively against an opportunistic Cincinnati secondary. Williams should roll up some good yardage numbers against a suspect Bengals' run defense, and while Gradkowski should locate Joey Galloway on key downs, the young passer will only deliver limited statistics. DE Simeon Rice is battling a shoulder injury, and is listed as questionable. That can only weaken a Tampa Bay pass rush that won't be too effective against a solid offensive line, and Carson Palmer will have much time to throw and locate Chad Johnson. Kelley Washington is a good emergency start as he steps in for the suspended Chris Henry as a third receiver. Rudi Johnson should bang his way to good numbers in the second half as the Bengals protect a sizable lead.
Start and Smile: Carnell Williams, Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson, Chad Johnson
Watch and Worry: Gradkowski
Houston at Dallas: This one seems simple enough from the Dallas perspective. The Texans won't offer enough of a pass rush, so Drew Bledsoe will have time to throw, and should locate Terry Glenn often. The Texans might be too concerned with Terrell Owens, which leave Glenn and TE Jason Witten as Bledsoe's preferred targets. Julius Jones will see a lot of open running room, especially in the second half, and Marion Barber III will score at least once from short range. The Texans will have to throw often to keep pace, and David Carr will throw more than one TD pass, but also will be intercepted more than once. Andre Johnson should get loose for more than one big play, but RB Ron Dayne will be a non-factor again as the Texans abandon the run while trying to stay with the Cowboys on the scoreboard.
Start and Smile: Drew Bledsoe, Julius Jones, Terry Glenn, Jason Witten, Andre Johnson
Watch and Worry: Ron Dayne
Kansas City at Pittsburgh: The Chiefs will be careful not to overwork Larry Johnson after he suffered a neck injury last week, and Damon Huard likely will exhibit a controlled passing game that features more of TE Tony Gonzalez, but Kansas City will sputter often on offense. The Steelers will continue to struggle with the passing game, as CB Ty Law locks up Hines Ward, who will have another disappointing outing. Ben Roethlisberger will continue to have trouble locating open receivers. Willie Parker, however, will challenge the Kansas City LBs with his speed on the edges, and should be good for at least one TD run.
Start and Smile: Tony Gonzalez, Willie Parker
Watch and Worry: Damon Huard, Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward
Miami at N.Y. Jets: The Dolphins don't want to put too much on the shoulders of Joey Harrington, so expect Ronnie Brown to carry often and get in the end zone at least once. When Harrington does go to the air, he tendss to telegraph his reads at times, so some passes intended for Wes Welker will be possible turnovers, but Welker should still finish with solid numbers. Jets RB Leon Washington could have some trouble finding open running room against the physical Miami front seven, but you can still look for him to break a big play or two on screen or flat passes. Chad Pennington will take quick drops and attack the Miami secondary with an efficient short passing game. Laveranues Coles is banged up, so expect Jerricho Cotchery to be Pennington's best pass-catcher.
Start and Smile: Ronnie Brown, Jerricho Cotchery
Watch and Worry: Joey Harrington
N.Y. Giants at Atlanta: Giants WR Plaxico Burress could be limited in yardage against CB DeAngelo Hall, but he could still use his height to catch a short TD pass. With Hall able to cover Burress effectively one-on-one, Amani Toomer could face some extra defensive attention. Eli Manning might be limited to more underneath throws and could look for Tiki Barber often on flat and swing passes. Manning should throw more than one TD pass, but his yardage numbers won't be outstanding. The Giants will be primed to contain the Atlanta running game, and Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood could have much trouble finding open running room. Michael Vick could break off a few good gains, but he doesn't have the receiving weapons to challenge the New York secondary.
Start and Smile: Tiki Barber
Watch and Worry: Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn, Jerious Norwood
Oakland at Denver The Broncos should have an easy day running the ball, and Tatum Bell should rip off more than one long run and score at least once. Jake Plummer won't have to be overworked, but he will be effective, and look for him to throw more than one TD pass, one to veteran Rod Smith. The Raiders will have to abandon the running game early as they fall far behind. Andrew Walter will throw more than one interception, and CB Champ Bailey will keep Randy Moss in check. When Walter isn't on his back, his best receiving option should be WR Ronald Curry.
Start and Smile: Jake Plummer, Tatum Bell, Javon Walker, Rod Smith
Watch and Worry: LaMont Jordan, Randy Moss
Philadelphia at New Orleans: Even though the Eagles will be without Donte' Stallworth again, Philly will rely heavily on their passing game against a vulnerable New Orleans secondary. Donovan McNabb will throw at least two TD passes, one to TE L.J. Smith. As for the wide receivers, only Reggie Brown is dependable. The Saints will respond with heavy doses of Deuce McAllister, who should help the Saints control time of possession and stay in the game. Reggie Bush will continue to draw a crowd any time he touches the ball, and Joe Horn won't be much a factor now that issues are less of an issue in the Philadelphia secondary.
Start and Smile: Reggie Brown, L.J. Smith, Deuce McAllister
Watch and Worry: You never know which Philly WR other than Brown will play well when Stallworth is out, so don't depend on Hank Baskett or Greg Lewis.
San Diego at San Francisco: There is a buzz among some of the San Diego players that they would like to see Philip Rivers throw the ball more, and you could see him open things up more this week. That means Antonio Gates will get a lot of looks, and Keenan McCardell will come back to life statistically. Malcolm Floyd has also become a preferred red zone target for Rivers. The Chargers could shut down Frank Gore early, and Alex Smith will come down from his good outing last week against the Raiders. Smith will turn the ball over more than once, and Antonio Bryant will produce limited numbers, while Arnaz Battle disappears.
Start and Smile: Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates
Watch and Worry: Alex Smith, Antonio Bryant, Arnaz Battle.
Seattle at St. Louis: Rams CB Fakhir Brown (ankle) is questionable, giving the Seahawks even more reason to attack the St. Louis secondary. Matt Hasselbeck will take quick drops and hit Darrell Jackson and Deion Branch often. Maurice Morris won't post great yardage numbers, but a fine passing game will give him a chance to score in the red zone. The Rams will respond with Steven Jackson, who has given the speedy, but not always physical, Seattle front seven some problems in the past. Jackson should sail past the 100-yard mark and score at least once. Marc Bulger hasn't thrown an interception yet this season, but an opportunistic Seattle secondary should pick him off more than once, while limiting WR Isaac Bruce to only underneath catches.
Start and Smile: Matt Hasselbeck, Darrell Jackson, Deion Branch, Steven Jackson
Watch and Worry: Isaac Bruce
Tennessee at Washington: The Titans are dealing with several key injuries on offense, but expect Travis Henry to continue to run well as he tries to carry a sorry team on his back. The Titans are without an injured David Givens, and Drew Bennett is hurting, so Vince Young will have to scramble often and won't do much statistically. The Titans will try to shut down Clinton Portis early, but he'll bust loose for some longer runs in the second half. Mark Brunell will have success throwing both underneath and over the top, and he should connect with Santana Moss for more than one TD pass. Even against the Titans, though, no other Washington receiver is dependable.
Start and Smile: Travis Henry, Mark Brunell, Santana Moss
Watch and Worry: Vince Young Chicago at Arizona: You can see how this one will go. Rex Grossman will attack the Arizona secondary with deep shots to Bernard Berrian, and at least one mid-range TD to Mushin Muhammad. Thomas Jones will be fired up to face his former team and should score at least once, and Cedric Benson will run it in once during garbage time. The Bears will make Edgerrin James a non-factor early, and rookie QB Matt Leinart will be in for a long night with minimal run support and no Larry Fitzgerald. Anquan Boldin, however, should pad his stats well in garbage time.
Start and Smile: Rex Grossman, Thomas Jones, Bernard Berrian, Muhsin Muhammad
Watch and Worry: Matt Leinart, Edgerrin James
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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 10/12/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/12/06)

Oct. 13, 2006, 5:30 PM
Carroll: Fitzgerald, Culpepper, Shockey


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By Will Carroll
ESPN Fantasy Games

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I want to introduce a new term today. Sure, you've already had to figure out terms like "cascade," "medhead," and "hyperdorsiflexion" so far this season, but this one's going to be useful. We all know that fantasy football is different from real football. "On a fantasy basis" is going to be my new term for dealing with the differing effect of injuries for real and for fantasy. Let's say that you have Shaun Alexander as your running back and that, as your top pick, you're eager to get him back. He's scheduled to play in Week 7, but we're still a bit unsure how that foot will hold up. He's likely to be a bit slower, split the carries to even the load, and to carry a higher risk of setback. So while he's playing, you're going to hear me say that on a fantasy basis, he won't be back until Week 8. (By the way, Alexander is definitely out for this week, despite all of the prayers his fantasy owners sent to Seattle.) Think of the difference as fantasy production, which is sometimes difficult to judge. Todd Heap has played a couple weeks where he was definitely limited, but his size makes him a good red zone target and in a year of terrible TE production, getting that TD from him can be make or break for fantasy teams. Knowing the difference could be the difference for your team. <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER height="1" width="8" type="block"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>[FONT=Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif]Will chatted on Friday afternoon. Check out his answers to your questions!
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Let's look at the latest injury news:
After watching The Fantasy Show last night, you know more about Larry Fitzgerald's hamstring injury and about my arts-and-crafts skills. Fitzgerald was reported to have significant swelling and a palpable tear, classic signs of a Grade II tear, one that I felt would keep him out for four weeks on a fantasy basis. Team sources tell me that Fitzgerald is on a 24/7 rehab plan that is very aggressive. Remember, Fitzgerald has never had a significant injury before, so we don't know if he'll grade out as a quick healer. In combination with the Cards medical staff, this looks to be shortening up the cycle. I still think this is one of those injuries that will linger a bit, affecting him even when he comes back, much along the lines of Steve Smith. Let's hope he doesn't taunt us for a couple weeks with a "will he or won't he?" At least this is some positive news, though negative if you dropped Fitzgerald or picked up Troy Walters.
I like bringing the good news; I so seldom get to do it. You'll remember me saying that the Eagles medical staff was going to have to somehow get ahead of the pain and swelling that was showing up in Brian Westbrook's knee each week. When they didn't get him back for Week 4, it looked bad, but that missed week appears to have allowed the staff to get the knee back under their control. Not only did Westbrook play and play well, his knee came out so well that he's been able to practice this week. All this sunshine doesn't mean the clouds can't come back. Westbrook is still a risky player and one you have to at least consider selling high, though. For me, in a world where Tomlinson, Johnson, and Alexander aren't automatics, it's tough to make a deal with a guy who can put up the big points for a solid team.
The Dolphins are now listing Daunte Culpepper as doubtful with a knee injury. Yes, this is the same knee that he had surgically repaired and that was miraculously ready for Week 1. Culpepper and the Dolphins insisted throughout the preseason that there was no problem, and that he was moving well and had no setbacks. Now that he's the backup to Joey Harrington, Culpepper's reconsidering his earlier comments. There's no way to tell how much is revisionist history and how much is the normal cover-ups we see each week in the NFL. Culpepper was the polar opposite of Carson Palmer in the preseason, confident and ready where Palmer seemed full of self-doubt and concern. Now, they've swapped places somehow. There's nothing I can see from week to week that's changed with the knee. Sure, Culpepper has been banged up, taking a lot of hits in the pocket, but I don't see that being a problem of mobility as much as indecision. Ron Jaworski broke this down on the Show a couple weeks ago, so I'll stick with the master's assessment. (Is Ron Jaworski the Martin Scorsese of game film?) If you're a Culpepper owner, it's time to dump him.
The Giants had Jeremy Shockey checked this week to see if his screw was loose. That's fact, not pejorative. Shockey had a screw inserted in his foot a couple years back and doctors were worried it was loose or worse, had broken. Images showed that there's no problem with the screw and no break apparent in the foot. Most reports had the pain high in the foot, nearer the ankle, and that's much worse than the metatarsal area we've learned about through Shaun Alexander. Shockey is likely to be limited this week and could even be called a game-time decision. Don't expect much production, even if the fiery TE is able to play.
Donte' Stallworth is making progress. That's good, that's good, but is that enough to get him back on the field this week? That remains to be seen. The motivation to play against his former team doesn't appear to be strong enough to get past the lingering hamstring problems. Stallworth was running on the side at Thursday's practice, but Andy Reid is well known for wanting to see his players take contact and failing surety, he'd rather play with the backup. Hank Baskett is the likely beneficiary if Stallworth is out and he's certainly opened eyes with his play. It's more likely that we'll see Stallworth back next week after a full week of work, but this is a chronic problem for Stallworth.
If there's one diagnosis to dread in fantasy, it's "high ankle sprain." That's the report on DeAngelo Williams. A lot of people figured that between Williams' breakaway speed and DeShaun Foster's usual health problems, that Williams would be the feature back by midseason. Now, Williams just hopes to be back on the field by midseason. High ankle sprains can linger and take between two and four weeks to come back from. For speed players, the return to level is longer, so this is one that could linger. It is a chance to buy low on Williams if you have the roster spot to burn for a couple weeks now that the heavy bye weeks are almost over.
The Chiefs and Larry Johnson come into Pittsburgh this week. That doesn't look like a good matchup, but with Joey Porter out, it becomes a lot better. Porter's injury reduces the pursuit that's such a big part of the Steelers D and while the team is expected to adjust by putting Troy Polamalu up into the box, the long-haired hitter hasn't been the holy terror he was last season while recovering from a series of injuries. Even with Kyle Turley out again this week, the Chiefs' line up the middle is still very solid. I'm more worried about Dante Hall. The speedy Aggie is still sore with a vague hip injury -- sources conflict -- but his game is all speed. That downgrades the Chiefs D/ST a bit, but shouldn't affect the offense much.
I've received a lot of questions regarding Troy Vincent this week. The Bills DB was placed on IR earlier this season, but progressed enough from a severely strained hamstring that the Bills released him. The Injured Reserve list has some very specific conditions under which it can be used and one of the lesser known provisions is that if a player is placed on the list and can then pass a physical during the year, he must be released. It's not clear if Vincent actually took a physical or whether the Bills simply acceded to Vincent's wishes and released him. There are several teams interested in Vincent's services, but before they sign him, they'll definitely have him take that physical. The popular Vincent is free to sign with any team other than the Bills, by rule. Bumps and Bruises: Curtis Martin? He's eligible to come off the PUP list after Week 6 and could try practicing with the team. Sources tell me that Martin will get every chance to play from the coaching staff, but that they're not optimistic. ... LenDale White has found a new way to keep himself out of the lineup. He's got flu-like symptoms and could be inactive on Sunday, pushing Chris Brown into the backup role. ... Evidently this virus is going around. Bobby Engram is also questionable this weekend after having been sick all week. ... Have you noticed that Roy Williams missed practice this week? If so, you need a hobby. He's out for personal reasons, not an injury. He's scheduled back on Friday and should play on Sunday. ... Jerramy Stevens isn't listed on injury reports this week, an interesting little fantasy nugget, as he comes back from knee surgery. He could help Matt Hasselbeck and fantasy owners looking for something, anything from the TE position. ... Reports indicate that Shawn Springs is likely to miss another week of football while he recovers from abdominal surgery and a couple setbacks. ... If Albert Pujols was a football player, what position would he play?
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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 10/13/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/13/06)

Wide receivers on parade


posted: Monday, October 16, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


That's what we've been waiting for, Torry, Roy and Horn. You too, Mr. Smith, and T.O. as well. Wide receivers had put up such miserable stats overall through the first five weeks, especially among the big names, that people were starting to think that kickers and defenses were actually worth more, and that Bernard Berrian might finish the season as fantasy's top wide receiver.

One wide receiver began the week ranked in the top 28 among all players. One.
Wide receivers got their revenge in Sunday's early games alone. Boy, did they.
The Week 6 leaderboard is littered with huge numbers, with quite a few quarterbacks throwing three touchdown passes. But that's not as noteworthy as the fellows they threw them to.
Consider the short list of wide receivers who had topped 21 ESPN fantasy performance points in the first five weeks of the season (only four players), compared to this week, and as you can see, this was some kind of week.
Donte' Stallworth, Week 1: 6-141, TD, 22 points
Amani Toomer, Week 2: 12-137, 2 TD, 25 points
Javon Walker, Week 3: 3-130, 2 TD, 27 points
Santana Moss, Week 4: 4-138, 3 TD, 35 points

That's it, four names in five weeks, and even these players hadn't been so reliable. Stallworth has barely played since. Toomer and Moss have had only one game of note.
OK, what happened this Sunday? Here's the list of wide receivers who topped 21 ESPN fantasy performance points in just the early games alone. It topped the entire season list!
Torry Holt, 8-154, 3 TD, 35 points
Reggie Brown, 6-121, TD rec/rush, 27 points
Steve Smith, 8-189, TD, 26 points
Joe Horn, 6-110, 2 TD, 25 points
Mark Clayton, 5-101, 2 TD, 24 points
Terrell Owens, 5-45, 3 TD, 22 points
Roy Williams, 10-161, 2 TD, 22 points

And then in the late games, Laveranues Coles (5-106, 2 TD, 24 points) joined them. So are five weeks of underproduction just forgotten in a bunch of Sunday early games? Well, maybe. What's interesting to me is that the above list of seven names are, mainly, names you know, and at the same time, among fantasy's bigger question marks.
In order, some thoughts:
? Holt shouldn't surprise you. He was the No. 2 fantasy WR coming in, and having a nice season. He loves playing Seattle. You should never, ever sit him. I still think he finishes the season No. 1 at the position, unless Carolina's Smith just goes off.
? Brown is Philly's top guy, whether Stallworth plays or not. He made a few big plays against the Saints, and got credit for a 15-yard touchdown run. Donovan McNabb clearly spreads the ball around, but Brown is his top choice.
? Smith can take a game over like no other wide receiver, and when he told reporters this was the first week he actually felt 100 percent since returning from his hamstring injury, that was pretty significant. But to do that on Baltimore? Wow!
? Horn had gone 16 consecutive games without a touchdown, and he hadn't reached double digits in fantasy points all season, so this was a bit surprising. Drew Brees was getting him four or five catches per game, nothing special. Marques Colston wasn't forgotten in this game, but Horn was the star.
? Clayton is the most surprising name on the list. Maybe it took Steve McNair leaving with injury to change Clayton's fortunes. He had only one game all year with more than three fantasy points, but as soon as Kyle Boller came in, Clayton mattered again. Something to watch if Boller sticks around.
? Owens was an easy one to predict. I figured Drew Bledsoe would hit him twice for scores, which he did. Then Tony Romo entered in trash time and found him again. Why was Owens playing in trash time and not Bledsoe? Who's running this team, anyway? More big games are coming, unless the Cowboys lose soon and T.O. combusts.
? Williams is clearly one of the most talented receivers in the game, and basically the only option for Jon Kitna (Mike Furrey is doing OK, but this is Williams' team). What Williams did, his line, it looked like something Carolina's Smith would do.
I don't want to give the impression it was only wide receivers doing the fantasy damage. Last week, if you scored 100 points, that was a lot. Remember, 20 points was worth the third best fantasy performance in Week 5. Only McNabb and the Jags defense topped it. This week, in the early games alone, 15 players (no defenses) reached 21 or more points, and in the late games, LaDainian Tomlinson delivered the fantasy performance of the week with 37 points and two others joined him in topping 21 points. That's more like it!
OK, on to all the exciting games:
Saints 27, Eagles 24: Painful one for Philly fans, because the Eagles fought back from a 17-3 halftime deficit and the team couldn't have known that when it punted the ball away with more than eight minutes remaining that it wouldn't get the ball back. It didn't. Credit Brees, who managed a 16-play drive to win it on the final play. He threw for 275 yards and three scores and appears to be the main difference between this team and last year's brutal one. Reggie Bush is nice, of course, and having a running game helps, but this shows just how bad Aaron Brooks was, no?
MVP: Philly's Brown and the Saints' Horn had similar days for total points, so let them share the award. Difference is that most weeks Horn will be the team's No. 2 WR to Colston, while Brown won't be. Stallworth, the former Saint, could play next week, or the Human Hamstring Pull, as our own Will Carroll calls him, could miss more time.
LVP: For the first time this season Brian Westbrook did not score in a game he played in. A sign of things to come? Proof he's too hurt to thrive? Hardly. Just one of those days. He still managed seven fantasy points, which isn't much in a monster week for scoring, but it's more than others managed.
Interesting: This is the third time I've seen basically all of Bush's carries, and I don't know what it is, but he doesn't hit the holes as well as Deuce McAllister does, and when he runs outside, he doesn't outrun people. But when he catches the ball, he makes things happen. He averaged 2.3 yards per rush, and when McAllister had to leave the game, it was Aaron Stecker getting carries. And how about McAllister catching six passes to Bush's four?
Giants 27, Falcons 14: Huge rushing day for Tiki Barber, with 185 yards, but again his owners are just going to complain because he didn't get into the end zone. Brandon Jacobs did. Solid road win for the Giants when they really needed it. As bad as the G-men have played, they trail first place Philly by only a half game.
MVP: Barber now has 300 yards rushing in his last two games, but let's give some props to tight end Jeremy Shockey. We knew he'd play, but most people figured he'd be so limited with his foot problem that he wouldn't deliver much. Eli Manning wasn't real pretty in this one, but he did continue his touchdown pass streak (now at nine games) and found Shockey on two short TD passes. Tiki owners will just say those would have been Jacobs touchdown runs anyway!
LVP: Plaxico Burress had to contend with DeAngelo Hall, so it was no big surprise he delivered only four receptions for 44 yards.
Interesting: I know Michael Vick continues to produce decent fantasy stats, but it still looks odd to see no games this season with more than 154 passing yards and a 50 percent completion rate. He now has two rushing touchdowns and more rushing yards than way too many running backs, though Warrick Dunn (146 yards, 90-yard TD) isn't one of them.
Cowboys 34, Texans 6: Predictable blowout with Drew Bledsoe finding T.O. for a pair of touchdowns, though not a lot of total yards. Look, Bledsoe's not losing the job to Tony Romo. Bill Parcells is smarter than that. And Romo's 2-for-2 effort and TD pass doesn't change that. Enough already!
MVP: Nobody entered Week 6 with more than four touchdowns rushing or receiving. Know how many touchdowns T.O. has now? Um, four (though others do have more now).
LVP: I knew Ron Dayne wouldn't do much. (He didn't.) I knew Andre Johnson would do something. (He did.) But for David Carr to throw for only 128 yards and get pulled, didn't see that coming. Still, his job is safe. Hard to believe he led the NFL in passer rating entering the week. Tells us a lot about that stat, no?
Interesting: Not that anyone's counting, but that's three straight 100-yard rushing games for Julius Jones, and the game before that he had 94 yards. Has any other top 10 runner gone so unnoticed? (Blame T.O. No, really, in this case, blame T.O.)
Lions 20, Bills 17: No team should have to be in the same sentence with the Raiders for futility, so I am pleased the Lions and Buccaneers finally got victories. I'm not too surprised at anything the Lions did, with big stat games from their big three, but with their pass defense, how could J.P. Losman not have done better? That surprised me. Yeah, he got two touchdowns, but he didn't play well.
MVP: Kevin Jones was brutal last week, rushing for eight yards, then he left with a concussion. Needless to say, his owners weren't excited about playing him Sunday. Instead, Jones got his most carries of the season and most yards. I'd use him next week at the Jets.
LVP: Willis McGahee didn't do much. In games against real good defenses, we can accept his 80 total yards. Again, it's not nothing, but it's average. When's he going to have really big games? And Losman was a disappointment, again.
Interesting: Still using Mike Furrey? He's scored in one game this season, and has averaged three receptions and 40 yards in three of the last four weeks. Don't overrate him.
Seahawks 30, Rams 28: Huge win for the Seahawks on the road, getting a 54-yard field goal by Josh Brown on the final play to win it. He's the real life MVP of the game, with two other field goals of 49 yards. But when both quarterbacks throw three touchdown passes, well, fantasy owners aren't looking at the kicker.
MVP: As a Holt owner, I figured he would do well, and mid fourth quarter he was at a solid two scores and 87 yards. Fine with me if it ended there. Holt started the game quickly, then had a quiet second half until that final 67-yard scoring play. As a result, he was fantasy's Week 6 winner for points until LT ran along.
LVP: Can't find fault with anyone, really. Maurice Morris wasn't great, but 74 yards isn't nothing. His fumble just about cost the team the game. Shaun Alexander could return next week, though I'm betting he needs more time.
Interesting: Marc Bulger is pretty underrated, wouldn't you say? Another three scores and 360 passing yards. This was his first interception of the season, but he remains a top five QB in fantasy. Matt Hasselbeck had more to prove, and got his own three scores and drove the team for the winning field goal.
Bucs 14, Bengals 13: Strange game. The Bengals looked pretty good earlier this season, but sans Chris Henry the team is 0-2 and Carson Palmer has only one touchdown pass. It's probably nothing. C'mon, New England was sputtering and trailing in that game, and the Bucs were winless. It's meaningful. Best team in the AFC? Maybe at some point, but Palmer has four of those seven touchdowns in one game.
MVP: That Bruce Gradkowski looks pretty legit, eh? He ties Carson Palmer for fantasy points but gets the victory head to head, throwing a pair of touchdown passes. Wait, was that a Michael Clayton sighting? What, both Claytons managed to score? It was a crazy week!
LVP: Palmer wasn't exactly spectacular, not in a week where so many quarterbacks did well (10 passers topped him before Sunday night), but Rudi Johnson gets the game honors for only 52 yards on 17 carries. I definitely expected more. Maybe the Bucs are back. It's not too late.
Interesting: Michael Clayton entered the game with 10 catches and no scores, then he catches six passes? Also, that other Alex Smith now has eight catches and two scores in two weeks.
Titans 25, Redskins 22: Horrible loss for the Redskins against a winless team with a rookie quarterback. Ugh. How could things get worse? I had said that the Titans weren't nearly as bad defensively as people thought in lieu of the Colts game, but with Mark Brunell getting shut down, it's hard to tell. He's not exactly on his way to 4,000 yards. Anyway, enough of Washington. They're cooked in the NFC East. How about those Titans!
MVP: Still think Travis Henry owners are to be laughed at? I don't. All Henry did was explode for 178 yards and a score, his biggest game in quite a long time. I know someone who missed out on Michael Turner and had to settle for Henry. Look up what Turner did and you'll realize how lucky that owner is. Moving forward, you've gotta buy in to Henry. Chris Brown only dressed because LenDale White didn't. Then again, do you think Henry will be the team's main ball carrier in December?
LVP: The difference between Brunell and Clinton Portis for fantasy owners? The Redskins lose a terrible, awful game and Portis at least got in the end zone twice. Brunell passed for only two more yards than Henry ran for. Ugly.
Interesting: And we haven't even mentioned Vince Young! Same line as Brunell without the interception, and he led his team on more scoring drives. Impressive, but don't get carried away in fantasy. This victory goes to the defense and Henry.
Panthers 23, Ravens 21: How do you explain this one? The Ravens can definitely defend, but Jake Delhomme goes off for 365 yards and Steve Smith still hasn't been covered. No team had scored 23 points on the Ravens this year. But what is more amazing, that the Panthers did this, or that Ravens fans want Kyle Boller to start the next game?
MVP: Can't make Boller the game MVP because nobody in fantasy had him active. I mean, we've seen enough of the guy in fantasy, I'm quite certain, and if Steve McNair is too hurt to play next week, those who sign Boller are likely to be disappointed if they activate him. We'll let Smith and Delhomme share top honors.
LVP: Nice work out of the running games. I recommended both DeShaun Foster and Jamal Lewis are clear sits anyway, and they combined for 99 yards, though, in fairness, Lewis could have used about double the carries since he averaged 4.6 yards per carry. His backups were useless, with Mike Anderson gaining seven yards on six runs. Carolina's DeAngelo Williams would have been a nice change of pace, had he dressed.
Interesting: Don't get too excited about Mark Clayton. Watch the highlight of his 62-yard touchdown and you see a crazy, tipped pass. Other than that, he had four catches for 39 yards, quite in line with the rest of his underwhelming campaign. That's why looking solely at stats isn't enough to evaluate performance.
Jets 20, Dolphins 17: The right team won, since the Dolphins are just not a very good squad right now, but Joey Harrington did make things very interesting in the fourth quarter, when he was down 20-3. A few more yards for Olindo Mare on the final kick and the game goes extra time. Harrington still isn't much of a fantasy play, but he is making the team more competitive, and his running back enjoyed his finest outing of the season.
MVP: Ronnie Brown had scored three touchdowns this season, but in those games he rushed for 30 and 39 yards. Not real impressive. In this one Brown ran for 127 yards and scored his touchdown late. I'm still not convinced Brown is going to have quite the season I expected, but as first round picks go, he's not the worst.
LVP: Those who played supposed upstart Jet Leon Washington got 58 yards, but yearn for more carries. Those who believed the Jets when they said Kevan Barlow was still the main ballcarrier got another boring 45 yards, but this time no scores. Barlow is darn consistent, if you think about it. In five of his six games he's rushed for between 31 and 45 yards. That's gotta be hard to do. You'd think at some point he'd break one. I mean, his season high for yards was this game with 45. What did Warrick Dunn do, break a 90-yarder on one play, and Barlow's season best for a game is 45?
Interesting: Has Harrington really been any better than Daunte Culpepper? Harrington has one touchdown and four picks, with an average of 249 yards in two games. Culpepper, in three of his four games, averaged 256 yards and had two touchdowns, three picks. So basically, Harrington has not been better, but because there are no expectations on him, nobody cares and he's getting celebrated. Very odd.
Steelers 45, Chiefs 7: That's pretty much what I wrote down for Ben Roethlisberger before the weekend, two touchdown passes. Granted, this is just one game, and we can't really tell if Ben is back to his normal 2005 self, but he sure looked good. Why didn't the Chiefs show up? Weird. I expected more.
MVP: As good as Ben was, Willie Parker put on the bigger fantasy show with two first half touchdowns and better than 100 yards, even leaving plenty of time for backup Najeh Davenport to break off a 48-yarder en route to 78 yards. It was so Tomlinson-Turnerian (well, until this week, I guess), both RBs doing well. Parker might go back and forth on his good and bad performances all season, but I maintain you need him active every week. Would you prefer him or Willis McGahee right now?
LVP: Sure, he did end up with a touchdown, and it was the defending champs and a solid defense, but Larry Johnson now has 62 yards rushing, in two weeks. That's not good enough no matter what the state of the offensive line is. Maybe Herm Edwards needs to call him names. Nobody on Kansas City was very good, and if you're still paying attention, that's 11 catches in the last four games for Tony Gonzalez, and no scores. Nice.
Interesting: I wrote about Tiffin product Nate Washington in the recent ESPN The Magazine as a guy owned in fewer than 1 percent of leagues to watch. Well, that was a 47-yard scoring pass play. Watching now?
Chargers 48, 49ers 19: Demolition game for poor Alex Smith, who saw his defense allow 35 first-half points. Let's not berate him, for he knows not what the other side of the ball will do from week to week.
MVP: What, you were expecting Lorenzo Neal? All LaDainian did was score four touchdowns. You gonna complain about the yards? FOUR TOUCHDOWNS! And, as we're about to see, he had no comp.
LVP: Sure, Frank Gore didn't do much, but think about the one guy for this game everyone was talking about all week. Wasn't Frank. Wasn't Philip Rivers, who looked terrific by the way. Michael Turner was a very popular flex play this week, and looking at the final score, most people who didn't watch would have expected Turner did great things. The last time the Chargers had a blowout win, back in Week 2, Turner burned for 138 yards and a 73-yarder. Even last week in the win over Pittsburgh, it was he, not LT, who had 56 yards. So what happens this week? One carry, no yards. Still no word about injury playing a role, but there has to be something here, no?
Interesting: I thought the San Diego D was a great play, too. Turns out Alex Smith got a few scores and the Chargers allowed more first half points than they had allowed in any full game all season. No matter. They got the win. OK, I'll cover the Broncos-Raiders game and Monday night in Tuesday's blog. Enjoy your Monday.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/13/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/13/06)

Oct. 16, 2006, 10:34 PM
Engel: Week 6 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.
T.O.'s "big" day: Usually, a three-touchdown performance is nothing to pick apart. Many fantasy leaguers expected a big day from Terrell Owens against the Texans, and got what they wanted. So why complain? Well, there's certainly no reason to be unhappy with three scores, but the quality of the opponent and Owens' other numbers indicate it could be awhile before he delivers such large fantasy totals again. Owens caught five balls for 45 yards, and his 21-yard scoring reception in the third quarter was his longest catch of the day, leaving him with only 24 receiving yards on his four other catches. Owens still is running sloppy routes, isn't getting open deep often enough, and doesn't look fully comfortable in the Dallas passing game. Now is the time to trade Owens to fantasy owners who might think this was his "breakout" game as a Cowboy. Owens still doesn't look like the major playmaker he used to be, and while we can't discredit his three scores, there are apparent signs that he will still struggle against other teams. Unload Owens this week, before the luster of his inflated statistical outing against a bad opponent wears off.
Deion Branch earns his wings: With a long holdout and missed playing time now behind him, Branch has quickly become a top target for his new team. Branch caught six passes for 76 yards and scored twice in Seattle's shootout with the Rams. He also carried the ball one time for an additional 19 yards. Unlike many other players who miss games or preseason time, Branch is showing no signs of being rusty, and has fit in quickly with his new teammates. He has clearly become a favored target for Matt Hasselbeck, as Branch is catching all types of passes to build good fantasy numbers. He makes the shorter grabs and turns them into important gains, and he also gets behind the secondary to give Hasselbeck another downfield target. Branch and Darrell Jackson are quite a pair of starting receivers for Hasselbeck, who threw three TD passes with no interceptions. Both receivers can play well and should not cut into each other's numbers in a major way, as Jackson also caught four passes for 94 yards, and hauled in a 42-yard TD reception. Hasselbeck is looking like a must-start player with a great receiving duo, and Branch makes many key catches and should be a regular scoring option in a very potent passing game. Branch has better receiving talent surrounding him than he did in New England, and he should be a lock in your lineup as a No. 2 fantasy receiver. He could post better numbers on a week-to-week basis in Seattle than he did in New England.
Joe Horn awakes: I must admit, I thought Horn was no longer a useful fantasy player. Heck, the numbers entering Sunday's game against the Saints backed me up. Horn had only 271 receiving yards in his first five games, and had no TD receptions, after scoring just once last season. But just when I had given up on him for good, Horn reappeared in a "statement" game for the Saints, in which they beat the Eagles and erased any real lingering doubts that they are a true contender in the NFC. Horn finished with 110 receiving yards on six catches, including a 48-yard scoring reception. While Horn's performance proves he isn't quite dead yet from a fantasy perspective, I'm not about to recommend plugging him into your lineup on a regular basis. Opposing defenses have started to account more for a reborn Deuce McAllister, the surprising Marques Colston, and we all know what a crowd Reggie Bush draws every time he touches the ball. After a big week, opponents might start to pay more attention to Horn again, and his production could slip again. It will take more than one good performance to convince me Horn has really bounced back to his old form.
Mark Clayton explodes: Ever since he came out of Oklahoma last season, we heard how the Baltimore Clayton (not to be confused with Tampa Bay's Michael) was very polished for a young pass-catcher, and would make his presence quickly felt at the pro level. But we had only seen flashes of promise from Clayton until Sunday, and simply not enough fantasy production. Many fantasy owners had given up on Clayton, as he was owned in only 17.9 percent of ESPN leagues entering the sixth week of play. But those who used Clayton out of desperation in a week in which six NFL teams were on a bye, were rewarded with what might be viewed as Clayton's breakout performance if he can build on it. The second-year wideout caught five passes for 101 yards and two TDs, including a 62-yarder. Clayton caught both scoring passes from Kyle Boller after an injured Steve McNair left the game vs. Carolina. Clayton had not been impressive statistically early in the season, as McNair didn't quite look comfortable with his new team, and it affected the numbers of Clayton, who had only 186 receiving yards and no TD receptions entering Sunday's game. While Clayton does have the natural ability to build on his success against the Panthers, McNair could hinder his numbers again when he returns to action, and Boller has always been frustrating as a regular starter. Because of his QB situation, Clayton won't deliver fine fantasy performances on a regular basis, and should only be added as a backup.
Don't depend on reserve RBs: The aforementioned byes caused many fantasy owners to make some desperation lineup moves, and will do so again next week. A lot of fantasy players started Ladell Betts and Michael Turner, hoping blowout wins for the Redskins and Chargers would result in good "garbage time" production for the main backups to Clinton Portis and LaDainian Tomlinson. I thought it was a good desperation strategy myself. But those of us who used Betts and Turner learned a valuable lesson. Always go with the players who start and get more guaranteed field time for their respective teams over reserves who aren't guaranteed reps. Betts only carried twice and lost two yards as the Redskins were shocked at home by Tennessee. What's worse for those who started Turner, the Chargers did indeed roll past San Francisco. But Turner carried just one time for zero yards, as Tomlinson enjoyed a four-TD day and left little doubt that he will get the majority of the important carries to the point where Turner is a major fantasy risk. Tomlinson scored his fourth TD in what was supposed to be Turner time, with San Diego clearly well ahead in the fourth quarter. When you're searching for a backup RB or flex fill-in when your starter has a bye, always go with players who will start for their teams over those who might not see the field much, and may only do so in a blowout, because No. 2 NFL RBs who don't operate in a clear time share aren't quality fantasy starting options.
The Tiki TD issues: The Giants scored 27 points on Sunday. Tiki Barber was a huge part of a winning effort at Atlanta. Yet he still didn't find the end zone. Brandon Jacobs scored on a two-yard run, only the second rushing TD for the Giants this season. Barber did appear to score once, and as fate would have it, his TD run was challenged and reversed. But how can you possibly look for negatives from a guy who rushed for 185 yards and added 42 receiving yards? Even without any TDs, Barber was still the third-highest scoring fantasy RB of the week in ESPN leagues, totaling 22 points. Barber has three 100-yard rushing outings in the Giants' first five games. In only one week has he failed to record double figure fantasy points this season. The Giants are a pass-first team. That will continue to hurt Barber's TD production. But he continues to look absolutely amazing as a runner, and a few TDs should naturally come in the weeks ahead. Barber is showing no apparent signs of age or slowing down, and you should continue to expect great yardage production while hoping for a few bonus scores in the week ahead. Barber is a threat to break off a long TD run every week.
Travis Henry, the Second Coming: In 2002-03, Henry was one of the best RBs in fantasy football. But fumbling problems and the ascension of Willis McGahee led to a silent 2004, and a move to Tennessee, where he was a non-factor last season. But Henry has magically reappeared over the past two games to revive a previously mediocre Titans running game, and was a key performer as Tennessee upset Washington to earn its first win of the season. Henry is looking like the same strong, determined and ultra-tough runner he was three years ago. He ran for 178 yards and a TD on Sunday, while playing with a rookie QB and a shaky supporting cast. Henry hasn't lost his ability to fight for every yard and often win, especially near the goal line. The Titans may be a bad team, but Henry is still a darn good No. 2 fantasy RB. Plug him into your lineup as a regular starter and don't expect him to lose a starting job he has craved to seize since he joined the Titans last season.
Cincinnati sputters: Suddenly, the Bengals aren't looking very impressive on offense. Carson Palmer can't seem to connect with Chad Johnson regularly, especially in scoring situations. Offensive line issues are bogging down the running game as well. Rudi Johnson was held to only 52 rushing yards by Tampa Bay on Sunday, and without the support of a high-quality running game, Palmer was put into adverse passing situations in which the Buccaneers took away the big play for most of the game. Palmer threw only one TD pass after throwing none in his previous outing. The Bengals also appear to be hurting without the suspended Chris Henry, who gave Palmer a terrific weapon from the No. 3 receiver spot. Chad Johnson caught six passes for 99 yards, but fantasy owners want better numbers and more TDs. With the Bengals' top starters underperforming, you probably won't get proper return for them in a trade right now. Only T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who caught 10 balls for 102 yards and a TD, seems to be playing at the accustomed high level. Palmer, Rudi Johnson and Chad Johnson aren't playing terribly. But none of them can be considered must-start fantasy options until they start to raise their levels of statistical production again.
The Pennington-Coles connection: Each of them has dealt with health issues this year, and have left fantasy players with doubts about their abilities to perform consistently. Neither Chad Pennington nor Laveranues Coles inspired much confidence after a terrible performance at Jacksonville last week. But the pair regained the confidence of fantasy players on Sunday. Pennington threw two TD passes vs. Miami, both to Coles. One was for 58 yards and the other was for 22 yards. Coles has worked through injuries recently, and is playing well. The Jets don't have a dependable running game and Coles doesn't have any complements of major note, as Jerricho Cotchery has been erratic. But Pennington already has eight TD passes and Coles, his favorite target, has three of them. You can expect the pair to hook up for quite a few more scoring connections this season when the matchup is right. The real Roethlisberger: Suddenly on Sunday, the Ben Roethlisberger we're familiar with returned. No longer did he look tentative and ineffective. The solid mechanics were back. The quick, confident setup and release was back, as was the accurate downfield throws. As he did so often last year, Roethlisberger made good use of all his best targets. He threw a TD pass to his usual favorite, Hines Ward, and he also tossed a scoring pass to Nate Washington, who has earned more reps this season. Roethlisberger also threw a 50-yard pass to rookie Santonio Holmes. While one good game isn't a reason to write Roethlisberger in as a regular fantasy starter in larger leagues yet, all signs were positive, and he should start to perform well on a more consistent basis in the near future. If he continues to play at a respectable level, Roethlisberger should soon be a viable starter again in leagues of 12 teams or more.
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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 10/13/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/13/06)

Monday, October 16, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Denver's Colder Than it Seems


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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 outcome of Sunday night's Oakland Raiders-Denver Broncos game might not have been surprising. After all, it was a home game for the Broncos, winners of 12 consecutive regular-season games at Invesco Field at Mile High entering Week 6, and the opponent was the Raiders, 0-4 and the owners of league's weakest offense.
Predictably, Denver won a game that only seemed close on the scoreboard, though the 13-3 tally, if you think about it, does raise an important question: Is this Broncos team really as good as people think? Denver's defense does lead the league with only one touchdown allowed all season, and its 7.4 points allowed average ranks second, with a chance to squeak into first should the Chicago Bears surrender nine points or more on Monday. But while that might suggest Denver's defense is suddenly a worthy every-week start, be careful not to push it into that status. Sure, the Broncos defense dominates at home, with only a combined 12 points allowed and all seven of the team's turnovers generated in three games, but look at the team's next four home opponents: Colts (Week 8), Chargers (Week 11), Seahawks (Week 13) and Bengals (Week 16). Considering Denver didn't force a single turnover and had a combined nine fantasy points in two road games in Weeks 1 and 3, it's not like this is the most consistent defense to count on in fantasy.
Here's the other problem: While the defense ranks among the leaders, the offense ranks among the league's worst. With Sunday's game, Denver's offense has now averaged 12.4 points per game, and that ties the team for second-worst in the NFL (Buccaneers). Only the winless Raiders have had more trouble scoring than the Broncos, and that's a big change from a team that scored 20-plus points in seven of eight regular-season home games and ranked seventh in the league in points per game (24.7) in 2005.
New starting running back Tatum Bell has hardly been the problem; he managed 23 carries for 83 yards and his first touchdown of the season on Sunday. Maybe his performance in Week 6 demonstrates that he won't quite settle as a top-five fantasy RB, but he's still a potential top-10 player.
It's quarterback Jake Plummer, though, who has been woefully inconsistent. Sunday's game was the third time this season that he has failed to complete a TD pass, and while he wasn't intercepted and kept the offense moving early in the contest, one has to wonder how much longer the team's defense can keep the focus off Plummer's mediocre play. One bad game in which the Broncos actually lose could resume talk about rookie Jay Cutler taking over, so Plummer, Javon Walker and Rod Smith owners still have something to worry about. I'd look only to Bell, Walker and the defense as viable fantasy plays at this point, and if Plummer can't turn this thing around with a favorable matchup in Week 7 (at Cleveland), there could be some problems ahead for Denver. <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
Speaking of quarterback changes, a key exercise for fantasy owners when teams turn that role over, be it by injury or coach's decision, is which players get most affected by the move. Remember, there's a bit of favoritism with quarterbacks regarding preferred receivers, and sometimes, the quarterback's talent itself dictates a change in the game plan. Since Damon Huard took over as the Chiefs' starter in Week 2, for instance, Tony Gonzalez has only 11 receptions for 106 yards and no scores, stuck serving in more of a blocking role due to the team's offensive line problems. In Tampa Bay, Bruce Gradkowski has been making much more use of TE Alex Smith than Chris Simms did, and he's still throwing to Joey Galloway every bit as much as Simms did in the past. In Miami, Joey Harrington has now completed 14 passes for 156 yards to Randy McMichael in two weeks as the starter, and he's actually getting Chris Chambers the ball a lot more effectively than Daunte Culpepper ever did. McMichael, incidentally, at the rate he's being thrown to, seemingly has to break off a TD reception soon, doesn't he? And in Baltimore, Kyle Boller, with his strong (yet erratic) arm, was able to locate Mark Clayton five times for 101 yards and two scores in Week 6, yet he threw only three times to Derrick Mason and didn't complete one of those attempts.


THE BOTTOM LINE

LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders
23 carries, 60 rushing yards, 0 TDs

If you're wondering what a switch for the Broncos from Jake Plummer to Jay Cutler might mean for a player like Tatum Bell, well, Jordan's your worst-case scenario. What happens when a team is so woeful on offense that it regularly falls perilously behind on the scoreboard before halftime? The workhorse running back suffers, which is why Jordan now has four games of 81 or fewer yards from scrimmage and no scores this season, which are terrible fantasy numbers from a consensus first rounder. Now, Denver's offensive line is quite a bit better than Oakland's -- quite a bit better -- and the Broncos aren't nearly as likely to slip into the team funk that the Raiders have, but when a team hits a slump on offense, sometimes, there's no telling the limits of the impact on the individual players' numbers. In Jordan's case, it's understandable that he wouldn't find as many running lanes and would be easier for opponents to defend this year, but what's so troublesome about his season is that he has been nowhere near as capable as a pass catcher as he was in 2005. He has only seven receptions, on pace for 22, a huge drop-off from the 70 passes he caught last season. Jordan should have better weeks, like the Week 7 against the Cardinals, Week 13 against the Texans or Week 14 at Cincinnati, but that's a pretty limited schedule for fantasy success. This team's not going to get much -- if any -- better, meaning Jordan's a No. 2 RB option at best, and a mediocre one facing tough defenses.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 6</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Marc Bulger, QB, Rams: Snapped his no-INT streak and lost at home, but has 8 passing TD in his last 3 G</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>passYDS</TD><TD>passTD</TD><TD>INT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>360</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>26</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers: So much for the Michael Turner factor; Turner had 1 carry in a 29-point 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>71</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>64</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>37</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>Torry Holt, WR, Rams: Has 7 TDs, 3 100-yard G in his last 5; ties for best single-week point total by a WR</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>154</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>13</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>Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants: His 1st career 2-TD G, but Tiki Barber owners can't like his red-zone targets</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>6</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>55</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>6</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>17</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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


Trainer's Room
? Ravens QB Steve McNair left the Week 6 game against the Panthers with a concussion and a sprained neck he suffered when he was sacked late in the first quarter. With a bye week in Week 7, McNair should be fully healthy in time for the Week 8 game at New Orleans, though with QB Kyle Boller performing so well in relief of McNair (226 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT), a quarterback controversy could be in order. When McNair's under center, TE Todd Heap seems to benefit the most, while WR Mark Clayton seems to be helped the most by Boller starting, so keep tabs on McNair the next week or so.
? Lions RB Kevin Jones suffered a hip pointer in the second quarter of the Week 6 game against the Bills, though he was able to stay in the game and top 100 yards rushing after getting a pain-killing injection. Jones was in some pain after the game, but considering he rebounded nicely this week after suffering a concussion late in Week 5, he should be fine for Week 7 at the N.Y. Jets, which is a standout matchup for him.
? Titans QB Vince Young suffered an ankle injury on one of his six runs in Week 6 at Washington, but was able to complete the game. He should be fine for Week 8 against the Texans -- Tennessee's bye is in Week 7 -- and that might actually be a time to consider him if you're desperate at the position. Of course, Week 8 only has the Bills, Dolphins, Lions and Redskins on their byes, so most fantasy teams shouldn't be in that position. ? 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 4 New Articles Added 10/13/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/13/06)

Oct. 16, 2006, 4:44 PM
Looking ahead: Who is the real Kevin Jones?


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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
Just call him Mr. Fantasy Frustration. We never know what to fully expect from Detroit running back Kevin Jones. First, he was billed as a fantasy superstar, and then he was a fantasy bust. Now, he's become unpredictable on a weekly basis. In the fourth week, Jones rushed for two TDs against the Rams, and many fantasy leaguers started him with confidence against Minnesota in the fifth week. Jones responded with only eight rushing yards, and was benched again this week by a lot of fantasy players. Those who benched him could only vent more frustration, as Jones, playing behind an injury-depleted offensive line, rushed for 127 yards and a TD. He also caught six passes for 36 yards. Jones is easily the most inconsistent RB in fantasy football.
So what should we expect from him the rest of the way? How about at least decent overall numbers every week, with some added receiving totals as a bonus? In most weeks, Jones will pad even mediocre rushing totals with respectable receiving stats. He has improved as a pass-catcher and in most weeks, he won't embarrass you from the No. 2 RB slot. Jones is running hard this year, but an inconsistent passing game and unreliable blocking always threaten to drag his rushing numbers down in any given week. The Lions won't move the ball consistently with Jon Kitna at quarterback, and there is always the great possibility that the Lions will play from behind and abandon the running game. So 100-yard rushing outings aren't going to be a regular occurrence from Jones. But he has improved as an all-around player, and his versatility will usually lead to at least adequate fantasy totals. Jones has already totaled 597 yards from scrimmage in six games. That's a pretty reliable fantasy RB, and you can forget his eight-yard stinker last week, when you consider he averages nearly 100 yards from scrimmage every week and has scored four times already.
Injury Fallout
The Seahawks are without Shaun Alexander for another two weeks, and it's clear Maurice Morris is no major threat to any defense. Morris doesn't break tackles often or run inside with authority, but he does have good vision and speed, which sometimes leads to decent gains. Overall, Morris isn't capable of posting anything better than mediocre fantasy numbers. Morris rushed for only 74 yards on 23 carries at St. Louis, and also lost a key fumble late in the game that nearly cost Seattle a win. Seattle faces the Vikings next Sunday, and the formidable Minnesota front wall will certainly stuff Morris often, and you shouldn't expect him to score. The Vikings are allowing only 74.4 rushing yards per game, so it isn't a great matchup for Morris, and Seattle will have to rely on its passing game again. You can look for Matt Hasselbeck to continue to throw often, especially with Deion Branch starting to fit in very well. For Alexander's owners, the news is a big disappointment after there were reports Alexander could return to action as soon as this upcoming week. You'll simply have to wait patiently for his return, and you can be more confident he will play well when he comes back. It's apparent that the Seahawks don't want to rush him back into action, and more rest and a cautious approach should mean he will be in prime playing form when he returns. Alexander's extended absence is not good news, but his return ultimately might be worth the wait.
Preparing for Changes
There have been no indications publicly, but you have to expect some changes at running back for the Texans soon. Ron Dayne rushed for only 14 yards on 10 carries in a loss to Dallas, and was stoned more than once in short-yardage situations by the Cowboys. He failed to punch the ball into the end zone from the one-yard line early in the game. It's common knowledge that the Houston offensive line isn't a quality unit, and Dayne didn't hesitate to spread some of the blame to his blockers.
"It's tough when you have to run through your guys and theirs," Dayne told the Houston Chronicle. "It's tough when there are eight or nine in the box and guys are not getting the push." Dayne did also say it was his fault as well for not converting short-yardage opportunities, and he needs to work on that in practice. "It eats at your manhood when you can't get three feet," guard Chester Pitts told the Chronicle.
Backup running back Samkon Gado said the Texans have had extra meetings and walk-throughs to improve the running game. But the next possible answer should be for Gado to get into the lineup over Dayne. He is a quicker RB who runs with more authority and can break tackles and display some necessary quickness that Dayne doesn't seem to have. The Texans didn't deal for Gado to have him sit on their bench behind the always-disappointing Dayne. Don't be surprised if you see Gado's workload increase very soon, or if he is named the new starter in the near future.
Reality Strikes
Leon Washington might be the most talented RB on the Jets roster right now, and he certainly has the most upside. He runs hard for a smaller back, can break tackles, and is a threat to break loose for a big run on any carry. But New York isn't about to hand him a full-time job. Washington led the Jets with 58 rushing yards against the Dolphins Sunday, but Kevan Barlow had the most carries, with 13. At this point, it seems that the Jets have settled on a time share between Barlow and Washington. Even though Barlow has posted mediocre and sometimes very low rushing numbers, he does have the ability to convert short-yardage opportunities, especially near the goal line. And the Jets seem reluctant to overwork Washington, who might not be able to take the pounding of being a regularly featured runner. By using Barlow, the Jets can also ensure that they keep Washington fresh to challenge defenses with his speed later in games. But with a limited workload and not many chances to score in the red zone, Washington should only be on fantasy rosters as a reserve for now.
Scout's Notebook ? Some fantasy owners seem ready to "sell high" on Reggie Brown after his outstanding performance against the Saints on Sunday. Brown caught six passes for 121 yards and a TD, and also scored on a 15-yard run. I say don't mess with success. Brown has clearly emerged as the top receiving target for the very prolific Donovan McNabb. His performance should make you keep him unless you get a chance to land another top player. Don't be quick to part with Brown. Not only does he make important possession catches, he can also beat defenders with his quickness and open-field smarts, as evidenced on his 60-yard scoring reception against New Orleans.
? Some fantasy leaguers also seem disappointed by the performance of Tatum Bell, who rushed for 83 yards and a TD against the seemingly defenseless Raiders. Most of his owners were obviously expecting better statistical production, but Bell surely will have some better outings ahead. If you find a Bell owner in your league who wants to move him because he didn't rush for at least 150 yards against the Raiders, pry him away. Now is a great time to "buy low" on Bell, who is destined for better outings even if last night's performance didn't quite meet expectations. You can bet Bell was also a bit disappointed by his outing as well, and that could spur him to improved performances in the near future.
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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 10/13/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/13/06)

Oct. 16, 2006, 2:55 PM
Week 6: The Saints are for real


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By Jason Langendorf
ESPN Fantasy Games

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At what point is it OK to accept an NFL team as being "for real?" Four games? That's a quarter of the regular season, the equivalent of 41 games in baseball. Were we still dismissing the Tigers as an out-and-out fluke after 41 games last June? (And if you were, it's time to reassess.)
How about six games? That's more than a third of the season and plenty of time for every team to have faced at least one rough-and-tumble matchup that was capable of exposing it for a fraud. Chicago has walked over some patsies on its way to 5-0, but it topped a solid division rival on the road in Minnesota and destroyed Seattle, the reigning NFC champs. The undefeated Colts have had some trouble with also-rans (the Titans and Jets) but dispatched playoff-caliber opponents in the Jags and Giants. <TABLE class=text11 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=300 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER height="1" width="8" type="block"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>FIVE DEFENSES TO START IN WEEK 7 5. Raiders (vs. Cards): The matchup is one-of-a-kind favorable in a very bad week for defense/special teams.
4. Cardinals (@ Raiders): For the record, start any team above Division I-AA against Oakland QB Andrew Walter and the boys.
3. Packers (@ Dolphins): We'd like the matchup better at Lambeau, but the Dolphins are far from flawless in Miami.
2. Patriots (@ Bills): Bills QB J.P. Losman has one TD, four picks and night terrors to show for three appearances vs. Pats.
1. Broncos (@ Browns): Big plays have been disappointing, but Browns pass 'em out to opposing Ds like candy.
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I don't want to get all Sean Salisbury on you, but it's time to accept the Saints as contenders (and their fantasy players as being legit). And you want to know why? Coaching and line play. It sounds like a cheesy throwaway line, but those elements are the difference between 3-13 and 13-3 in the NFL. And New Orleans just might single-handedly prove the theory.
QB Drew Brees, RB Deuce McAllister and WR Marques Colston have been fantastic, and WR Joe Horn and RB Reggie Bush haven't exactly been slouches. Even the Saints' defense/special teams unit has been starter-quality on a few occasions this season. The team takes care of the ball, converts on third downs and wins the time-of-possession battles. And not only will it continue, it could get better. New Orleans has yet to come close to its potential in the red zone, and Bush could have a strong second half as he learns to get downhill sooner and set up defenses for big plays, rather than trying to score on every play.
Sean Payton has been magnificent in his first stint as an NFL head coach, putting a young Saints offensive line in positions to succeed. Payton uses a lot of misdirection to force hesitation on the part of the defense and create angles for blockers in the run game. The protection has been solid, in part because the Saints often keep tight ends and/or backs in to block, but also because Payton keeps Brees on the move with rollouts, bootlegs and floating pockets that keep pass rushers guessing and force them to do a lot of chasing.
On defense, the personnel and attitude have changed more dramatically than the scheme. DT Hollis Thomas has helped the run D and added much-needed depth. Rookie FS Josh Bullocks and even SS Omar Stoutmire have given the team a far sturdier last line of defense. The linebackers are a little faster and lot more reliable than in the past. Since Week 1, LB Scott Fujita has played like someone set his jock on fire. And even the incumbents appear more disciplined and technically sound. DE Charles Grant has played with more focus, giving the Saints a pair of scary bookend pass rushers (along with stud Will Smith) that have allowed journeyman DT Brian Young to produce like the second coming of DT Warren Sapp.
The schedule isn't friendly coming out of next week's bye, but Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati all have shown cracks. Bush and the Saints D/ST will be case-by-case starts, but Colston and Horn will be tough to sit in any of those matchups. The Steelers game (at Pittsburgh) could be a little ugly for Brees, but he's a go in the other matchups, including Baltimore. McAllister could be slowed by the Ravens and Steelers, but his goal-line potential and receiving ability make him worth a look nonetheless.
TWO CENTS, AND THEN SOME ...
Don't start lining up at the waiver wire to grab WR Mark Clayton and QB Kyle Boller just yet. In case you didn't see the highlights, 76 of the yards and two of the TDs the duo hooked up for against Carolina came on the flukiest of fluke plays, a pair of deflected balls that floated into Clayton's hands but that were intended for those of a teammate.
Until further notice, start any warm body that Denver rolls out onto the field at tailback. No disrespect to RB Tatum Bell, but the Broncos' offensive linemen are what make the offense go. They are extremely well-coached and combo block (scraping off a defensive lineman to pick up a linebacker) as well as any line in the league. Even against stacked alignments and huge fronts like Oakland's and New England's, the undersized Denver blockers consistently churn out yardage -- and not just the linemen, but the tight ends and receivers. Protection problems and the absence of deep threat WR Chris Henry have bottled up Cincinnati's offense. The Bengals are using more quick-hitting pass routes to cover up for problems on the offensive line, but that has been only so effective because RB Rudi Johnson hasn't been getting holes to help put QB Carson Palmer in favorable down-and-distance situations. Hard to believe C Rich Braham (knee) means that much to this offense, but his line calls, toughness and experience have been missed. He could be out for at least another week, and on Monday OT Levi Jones -- already nursing a gimpy ankle -- will have an MRI on the knee injury that knocked him out of the Tampa Bay game.
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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 10/16/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/16/06)

Really repulsing Rex


posted: Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


I think the problem is Monday night. Its torturing fantasy owners. Every Monday afternoon, I get e-mails, I get phone calls, I see people at the post office, and they all say something like "Yeah man, I only need three points from Edge tonight and I win," or "I've got Rex going tonight, I'm up two points, and my opponent has nothing. It's over! Victory is mine!"

Um, not so fast.
Dennis Green obviously put on quite an anger management show after his Cardinals somehow lost a 20-point lead on fumble recoveries, a punt return and missed field goals. Painful.
Fantasy owners aren't too pleased today either. But here's the point: Fantasy owners are seldom pleased on Tuesday morning if they had players in there Monday night with a game in doubt. We'll get into last night's shocking repercussions in a minute, but consider the first five Monday nights in fantasy.
Week 1: Two games to disappoint! Nothing stunning in Vikes-Redskins, except Clinton Portis actually played and scored, when most of us had him benched. That cost people games. Then in Chargers-Raiders, not knowing how bad Oakland would actually be, if you needed just three points from fantasy first-rounder LaMont Jordan, you got only two. Also, if you needed five from Randy Moss or Aaron Brooks, you got only four. Hey, the Raiders were only a 3 point dog. You figured their stars would do something.
Week 2: OK, another shutout? If your opponent had the Jags defense, you couldn't have been pleased to see that against the champs. But also, nine total points? Twenty yards rushing from Willie Parker? Big Ben Roethlisberger wasn't a great play, but one fantasy point? Who could you have played instead? Basically, if you had a lead in fantasy entering this game, you held it.
Week 3: Momentum is a beautiful thing, and the country was rooting for the Saints in their first true home game in a calendar year, but most Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn fantasy owners got burned here. I know a guy who had both Vick and Dunn and only needed 15 points total, but they combined for 14. Hey, everyone has a story. There was one offensive touchdown in this game, by the generally ignored Devery Henderson. No fantasy winners here either!
Week 4: The problem in this Philly-Green Bay game was the starting running backs didn't actually suit up! Brian Westbrook was the top running back in fantasy entering the game, but an hour before the game, with little weekend notice, he's in street clothes. Ahman Green sat as well. I saw hundreds of angry e-mails on Tuesday morning about this one. But then there were the owners who entered this game up a few, and their opponent only had Vernand Morency, or hastily added him minutes before the game. No problem, right? Morency rushes for 99 yards.
Week 5: Another stinker with the road team scoring just a field goal, and the home team not exactly breeding fantasy monsters. There's a guy here in the office who had the Denver defense in one league, trailing by a few points, and in another league his opponent had the Denver defense, trailing by a few points. The Broncos scored in the middle, enough for him to lose both matchups. Man, fantasy can just kick ya in the gut sometimes.
And now we get to last night, with Rex Grossman entering the game as the No. 3 player in all of fantasy, one mere point behind Peyton Manning. So how did Grossman do against a team that couldn't stop anyone? A week earlier Damon Huard had thrown for 288 yards and two scores at Arizona. Grossman, meanwhile, was on fire. Thomas Jones was running well. Bernard Berrian was the No. 1 receiver in fantasy football. All were terrific plays. I'm not going to lie to you. I thought they'd go off; I had them active, too.
? Grossman ended up with a minus seven points in ESPN performance leagues, the single worst game for a fantasy quarterback this season! So let me make the point another way: You could have entered the Monday night game leading your opponent by six points, and with Grossman still about to play, and neither fantasy team had anybody else playing. And you lost. And Grossman had averaged 18 fantasy points per week. Now, it's one thing for your quarterback to play poorly. Take David Carr this week (please). Carr was brutal. Threw for 128 yards and two interceptions. And still he ended up with two fantasy points. Not negative seven. What Grossman did to fantasy teams on Monday that entered the game with a lead and left with a loss, despite their opponent not doing anything at all, is torture.
And we should add, it's never a bad strategy to sit any players in action on the Monday night game when you have a lead. You've won the week. Only thing that can go wrong is negative points. We'll call it the Grossman rule for now. I've never seen anything like it in fantasy.
If you had played Kurt Warner over Rex Grossman last night, you would have gained seven points. If you had played Fran Tarkenton over Grossman, you would have gained seven points. I'm glad none of my matchups was decided by this. It's hard to believe.
? Jones scored four fantasy points. Four. The previous two weeks he had 33. And in Week 6 alone, three other players named Jones trumped him. You know about Kevin Jones and Julius Jones. How about Tennessee wide receiver Brandon Jones doubling Thomas Jones' meager score?
? Berrian had scored in four of the five games, and in the last four weeks his low mark for receiving yards was 70. In five weeks he had averaged 13 fantasy points. No receiver had been better. And now he was facing the Cardinals. Berrian scores three fantasy points.
? The Bears defense, as always, was a fine play and they ended up, in a roundabout way, delivering enough fantasy points to help teams.
? Matt Leinart wasn't supposed to be a good play, but obviously, if you led by 10 points heading into the game and your opponent had Leinart, you lost. We'll get into the Leinart love fest some other time, but suffice to say, the kid certainly looks legit. And again he gets two early touchdowns, and in the final minute drives his team into field goal range.
? Neil Rackers should rent in Phoenix, not buy. But fantasy owners did get double digits from him. Clearly he's not the same guy from last season. Robbie Gould is the new Rackers!
? Edgerrin James, I'm sure you know by now, had the worst rushing performance for the amount of carries he received, in NFL history. He got 36 carries, ran for 55 yards. It's remarkable. Would you have given J.J. Arrington a few more touches? Look, he would've done no better. It's the offensive line. It's offensive. In fantasy, James managed a miserable three points, but I can't say I expected much more anyway.
? Viva Anquan Boldin! He's the star of the night with 19 fantasy points. And this you can look up, I never would have sat him.
So, because we want to be consistent in our blog delivery of recapping games...
Bears 24, Cardinals 23: I still can't believe a team trailed by 20 points and without any offensive help whatsoever, made up the deficit. Despite how well the Arizona defense played (or you can choose to rip Rex for this), I'd still play most fantasy options against the Cardinals and sit most against the Bears. Next week the Cards are in Oakland. LaMont Jordan isn't a lock to do something, but he's gotta be worth using. Big letdown game for Arizona.
MVP: Boldin doesn't need Larry Fitzgerald to be a good play, he always is. But to do that against the Bears, yeah, that is surprising.
LVP: We've been over this, Grossman delivered the worst fantasy performance of the year, maybe in a decade considering where he was ranked and all the hype.
Interesting: Leinart's next two games are at Oakland and Green Bay. Still left the rest of the season are Detroit, St. Louis and at San Francisco. He should be picked up and stashed away, at worst.
Broncos 13, Raiders 3: I called Denver's 13-3 win over Baltimore a week before on Monday night boring, and got negative feedback. Sure, I like a good defensive battle. Was Broncos-Raiders a good defensive battle? No, it was not. The Raiders can't move the ball. LaMont Jordan looks frustrated, a talented player who doesn't get to catch the ball and has nowhere to run. Nobody ever talks about how the Broncos can't move the ball either, because they've allowed one touchdown the entire season. Now that's impressive. But note that in fantasy, the Broncos defense isn't dominating in fantasy like the Bears and Ravens is; Denver's D is ranked sixth, right between the Falcons and Saints.
MVP: Only one player even delivered a decent fantasy performance, but fantasy owners were disappointed that Tatum Bell didn't do more! Hey, at least he scored.
LVP: Time to cut Jake Plummer? It doesn't appear this situation is improving, buoyed by the fact the defense never gives up anything. As long as Plummer hands off properly to Bell and doesn't get picked off, Mike Shanahan doesn't care if he throws for 102 yards.
Interesting: Randy Moss caught a 51-yarder and had 86 yards overall. Consider that his longest catch previously was 22 yards, and this is improvement. I'd play Moss against the Cardinals, though, if he wants to be traded today and isn't, things could get a little more ugly, in a Jerry Porter sort of way.
***
I want to discuss the Mark Clayton situation, since so many readers have sent feedback on it. I wrote in the Sunday night/Monday blog that Clayton had become relevant, but I also wrote that his touchdown was a total fluke. Yes, I saw the highlights, and much more than that. What I should have written was "touchdowns" and not touchdown. Clayton did actually play better with Kyle Boller, but make no mistake, the results were total fluke. Both touchdowns were tipped and not even intended for him. Just want to clarify for those emailing me, I am well aware and didn't want to either mislead anyone or give the impression I hadn't seen the action. Is Mark Clayton any more valuable in fantasy today than he was a week ago? Not really. A lot of people will likely be fooled, but then again, I don't to discount that Clayton has ability and could become a fantasy option at some point.
By the way, shouldn't the question be asked: What's worse, the Raiders skipping Leinart or the Texans ignoring Reggie Bush? Tuesday has been Power Rankings day, but we'll just get to it tomorrow.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/16/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/16/06)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Rex Is All Wrong


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By Scott Engel
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->While the Bears did manage a miraculous comeback on Monday night, you can't give Rex Grossman credit for it. The Bears may be reveling in victory, but some owners of Grossman are as mad as Dennis Green was in his postgame press conference on Monday night.
Green was left groping for answers after Arizona's embarrassing meltdown, and Grossman's owners are still trying to understand while the suddenly "reborn" Bears quarterback looked very Ryan Leaf-like against one of the NFL's most vulnerable defenses. Grossman finished with a seemingly unreal total of -7 points in ESPN.com leagues, as he threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles. He didn't throw a single TD pass and totaled only 148 passing yards.
Football is definitely a game of emotion, and a fired-up Arizona defense played over its heads in a rare chance to perform in front of a national audience and a big crowd. The Chicago offensive line appeared to have no answer for Arizona's tremendous pass pressure. Plus, you must also give credit to Arizona's coaching staff, at least for fine defensive game planning.
The Arizona secondary did a fine job of neutralizing the Chicago wide receivers, paying extra attention to Bernard Berrian, and hitting the Bears pass-catchers very hard many times when they did get into position to catch the ball. The Chicago receivers actually seemed knocked off their game by an unusually physical Cardinals secondary. Berrian caught only two passes for 31 yards, but Grossman missed him on more than one occasion when Berrian did get open. Ultimately, you can't blame anyone or anything for Grossman's terrible outing as much as Grossman himself. He made bad reads, overthrew receivers and refused to adjust when Arizona took away the deep ball. Grossman continued to throw downfield often instead of taking what the defense would give him underneath, and made many bad throws in the process.
Grossman certainly isn't a bad fantasy QB, and an upcoming bye week should give him some time to gather himself and return to the field with improved numbers. But last night's performance was a clear indicator that Grossman is not an elite fantasy QB. I'm not saying Grossman is terrible by any stretch. He certainly isn't as incompetent as he looked on Monday night. But let's consider that outside of his four-TD outing against Detroit in the second week, Grossman has not thrown more than two TD passes in a game, and he has one or less scoring passes in three games. He also doesn't have a 300-yard passing game this season. Grossman is a good fantasy QB, but he's not great. He'll rebound from last night's awful outing, but now fantasy players can sit back and realize he isn't a superstar. <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
While Grossman didn't play a real part in Chicago's victory, Matt Leinart can't shoulder much of the blame for Arizona's devastating loss. In fact, if not for the impressive rookie QB, the Cardinals would have never mounted a lead in the first place. Against the league's most sinister defense, Leinart left little doubt that he can handle major pressure at the NFL level. He didn't try to do too much and took what the defense gave him, while remaining poised and confident in the pocket. Leinart was not flustered when he was flushed out of the pocket, and he coolly put together a possible game-winning drive. Leinart made great use of top target Anquan Boldin (12 catches, 136 yards, one TD), while spreading the ball around enough to keep the Chicago secondary off balance. Leinart finished with 232 passing yards, two TD passes and no interceptions. He did lose a critical fumble, but bounced back to put his team into position to win, only to see Neil Rackers miss a field goal and put the loss in the books. Leinart performed admirably without the support of a quality running game, playing behind a suspect offensive line. Leinart certainly has to be considered a quality fantasy starter in many leagues, especially for owners who don't have passers like Donovan McNabb or Marc Bulger. There's not too much to prove after a guy stared into the face of the league's best defense and doesn't blink. Leinart might have a few scattered down performances, but it's apparent you can count on him for at least solid fantasy numbers in most weeks.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals
36 carries, 55 yards, 0 TDs

The final statistical line leaves you shaking your head, rubbing your eyes, and second-guessing your decision to draft him. But you can't kick yourself in retrospect for drafting James, because no one expected his numbers to look as baffling as they did on Monday night. But the reality is, never in the history of the game, has a running back carried so many times while averaging under two yards per carry in a game. Overall, James doesn't have a 100-yard rushing game yet this year, and he has only scored twice. You can lay heavy blame on the Arizona offensive line, which has been dominated regularly on a weekly basis in running situations. And while the Arizona passing game continues to fare well, opposing defenses certainly are still gearing up to stop James every week, and succeeding. James may now regret his move to Arizona. Fantasy players certainly do, and can't consider him a regular starter anymore. Don't be too hopeful if you try to deal him, because you won't find many takers unless you can get rid of him in a package. Just make sure you have other options at RB right now, because you can't depend on James in any matchup.
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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 10/16/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/16/06)

Oct. 17, 2006, 4:22 PM
Week 7: 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
Matt Leinart, QB, Cardinals (Owned in 29.8 percent of ESPN.com leagues): Only 6 percent of ESPN.com fantasy players added him last week, but after his impressive outing against Chicago, he could be the hottest free agent in fantasy football this week. Without the support of a quality running game or a sturdy offensive line, plus the absence of one of his top receivers (Larry Fitzgerald), Leinart proved he can be a solid fantasy starter. He took quick drops, made crisp throws and was not intimidated by the best defense in the NFL. Leinart's offensive line is a liability, but his fast grasp of the offense and its strengths means he knows to get rid of the ball quickly to his best targets, like Anquan Boldin. He'll also throw enough to Bryant Johnson and Troy Walters so defenses don't fully lock onto Boldin on every play. Leinart is making the best of his adverse surroundings, and he should continue to post at least adequate numbers on a regular basis. If you didn't get him before last week because of his inexperience, do it now if you can.
Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Buccaneers (5.1 percent owned): Can you believe I'm really recommending two rookie QBs as pickups? Neither can I, but Leinart and Gradkowski have both played well enough to earn spots on fantasy rosters. In fact, both of them deserve regular starting consideration if you don't have an elite or top-level fantasy passer. Obviously, Gradkowski doesn't have the upside of Leinart, but you can't ignore the fact that the Tampa Bay rookie has thrown four TD passes and only one interception in consecutive starts, Gradkowski is managing games well, taking care of the ball well, is making smart, accurate throws under pressure and is delivering quality fantasy totals. There are no indications yet that Gradkowski can't at least be a respectable starter for now.
Wali Lundy, RB, Texans (8.3 percent owned): He was a hot story during the preseason, then quickly fell out of favor when the regular season started. But Ron Dayne has been a disappointment, and that's no major surprise. The Texans seem reluctant to turn their ground game over to Samkon Gado, who is clearly the best RB on the roster, and ran well behind a shaky offensive line in Green Bay last year, and could do the same in Houston. So Lundy might get another chance to be the Texans' No. 1 RB, and that means you should at least add him as a reserve. I wouldn't expect much from him, but you have to add him in case he makes the most of an opportunity to play often again.
Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks (28.8 percent owned): Some fantasy owners passed on him, figuring Shaun Alexander would be able to return by the seventh week of the season. But with word that Alexander will miss at least two more games, Morris becomes a must-add player for sure. No one knows for certain just how much time Alexander might actually miss overall. So that means Morris will remain Seattle's regularly featured RB in the near future, especially since he doesn't have much on the depth chart behind him. You can't leave a guy who gets regular carries sitting on the free agent list. Morris is an adequate fantasy player at best, but his workload makes him a decent flex player and top bye week fill-in.
Alex Smith, TE, Buccaneers: (16.2 percent owned): Many fantasy owners don't have a trustworthy tight end, so Smith's recent string of decent fantasy production suggests he is a fine gamble. Smith has scored seven points in ESPN.com leagues in three consecutive games, and he's become a regular target for Gradkowski in the red zone. Smith's ability to get open in goal-line situations is starting to pay more dividends, and he could soon emerge as a more regular target for Gradkowski in other key passing situations, further boosting his fantasy production.
PRIME CUTS
Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins (73.4 percent owned): His recent record-breaking performance against Houston was the biggest illusion since Brian Bosworth masqueraded as an NFL linebacker. Brunell threw underneath and flat passes against a bad defense, which never really challenged him. Brunell has thrown only one TD pass in the past two games, and there has been talk his starting job could be in jeopardy. Brunell simply isn't reliable, and his receiving corps seems even less dependable than it was in 2005. Santana Moss is less consistent, Chris Cooley had produced less, and the newcomers haven't made the expected impact.
Ron Dayne, RB, Texans (53.4 percent owned): He might have blown his last opportunity to revive his disappointing NFL career, as he fizzled in a chance to seize a starting job with Houston, and now the Texans appear ready to give Lundy another chance. There have also been reports of a Dayne knee injury, and his offensive line hasn't helped him much, either, but it is once again apparent that Dayne should never be trusted as a fantasy player, and any mentions of him getting increased playing time can only lead to more disappointments.
Drew Bennett (80.8 percent owned): He's played through some injuries, but Bennett lacks quality complements, and doesn't get open often enough. Bennett has scored only once this season and it doesn't look good for him to produce much better with a rookie QB running the offense and Travis Henry now becoming the clear focal point of the mostly conservative Tennessee game plan.
Rod Smith, WR, Broncos (80.0 percent owned): I thought his TD reception against Baltimore would spur a turnaround, but I was certainly wrong. Smith's age is clearly starting to show, finally. He hasn't totaled more than 44 receiving yards in a game and has only one TD reception. Denver's offense is not explosive, and Tatum Bell and Javon Walker are the only surefire fantasy starters on the team. Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens (85.2 percent owned): This is the third name receiver you have seen me recommend in this installment of Waiver Wire Work. That's because name value and past production won't win games for you at this point. Guys like Marques Colston and Greg Jennings will really help you win. Mason has no TD receptions this season and only three in the past two years. He was shut out by Carolina and has scored more than five ESPN.com fantasy points in a game just once in 2006.
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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 10/17/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/17/06)

Tiki, Power Rankings


posted: Wednesday, October 18, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL, New York Giants


Before we get to the Power Rankings, a list which will include Tiki Barber, let's discuss the interesting news of the day, that the star Giants running back intends to retire when the season ends. Do you believe it? Barber apparently isn't satisfied with merely leading the NFL in rushing, he has other goals in life. Go figure!

How does this affect fantasy football? Well, for the purposes of trying to win in 2006, it doesn't, but Tiki is one of the most sought after players in keeper leagues as well. Back in the summer, our own sage Scott Engel listed his top 100 keepers, and Barber was ranked 14th. Too high? Too low? Well, I would have made Tiki a top 10 pick, since he was generally viewed as the No. 4 option to go in drafts. I play for now and figure if a guy is good this season, will he automatically slip so far the next? Scott had Tiki ninth among running backs, and with the info we have now, I wouldn't keep Edgerrin James or LaMont Jordan over him.
Tiki is, to me, a young 31, with not nearly as much mileage on the tires, so to speak, as Curtis Martin or other older backs had. There is ample evidence that running backs on the other side of 30 tend to suffer a steep decline, however. Another of our sage writers Tristan Cockcroft discussed the typical age progression of running backs in his summer article and concluded nobody was in danger of doing what Martin did last year, and hitting the wall to quite that degree. Not Tiki, nor Corey Dillon, Warrick Dunn, etc.
Tiki Barber would be one of the top keepers in any fantasy league for 2007. It's not only that he's leading the league in rushing, but he apparently solved his fumbling problem a year ago and there's no indication the Giants are getting tired of him. He's a key part of the team. But knowing this potential news, whether Tiki retires or not, has to affect how a keeper fantasy owner thinks.
If you're out of the race already and own Tiki, wouldn't you trade him? Absolutely. He is, after all, 31, and could be a full-time TV analyst this time next year.
If you're in the race and own Tiki, would you deal him then? I always play for the now, but it certainly has to be considered. Tiki is currently ranked 30th among all fantasy players, and 11th among running backs. Why isn't he doing better? Despite all the yards, he has not scored a touchdown. But he will.
Among the running backs who have scored touchdowns are Mack Strong, Najeh Davenport, Kenny Watson, Cedric Houston, Anthony Thomas, Tyson Thompson, Ran Carthon, and Chargers reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. But that's just Tiki being unlucky. He scored last year, he could easily approach eight or nine scores this year, still.
Brandon Jacobs, meanwhile, has scored a touchdown, and it sure looks like he could handle a full workload should he become the main back. There's no telling for sure the Giants would automatically go with him, however, but I think the burly Jacobs could be a nice fantasy sleeper next season. If you own Tiki in a keeper league, you should have Jacobs on your squad just in case, for this year and next.
Bottom line on this, players make statements all the time that they don't follow up on. Should Tiki Barber really retire in March, and you have him on your team, then you'll find another keeper. In most leagues you don't need to decide keepers until late in the summer anyway. But as always, when an athlete speaks, the public, and fantasy owners, listen.
***
The big story in fantasy football this week was the performance of Rex Grossman. Here are a few e-mails on the topic, then we'll see where Rex lands in the Power Rankings. Last week he was sixth.
Jason, Washington DC: "In our private league, where interceptions are -3 and incompletions -1, Grossman ended up -23. He took a team that was winning by 19 points, and lost the game for him, even though Edge (on the other side) gained his owner only three points. It was the single most amazingly bad fantasy football performance ever. It was actually worse than Culpepper's first couple games last year, and I never thought I'd see anything worse than that. By the way, if you are winning, and your opponent has no players left, it is common sense that you should deactivate anyone who might cost you points. I would always do this with a defense or a QB, whose stats can fluctuate wildly (in our league at least)."
Barry, Chicago: "Eric, I enjoyed your blog about Rex Grossman's terrible night and wanted to share my amazing story. Entering MNF, I held a 165-142 advantage. I would be playing Grossman, my competition had the Edge. As you know, Edge had a historically bad night and totaled only five points. No problem right? Well, in our league interceptions go for a negative six, which led to a 147-146 defeat. As you alluded to, I could have started Brian Griese and still won by 18 points. Luckily, I am a Bears fan and was able to fall asleep."
Bobby, Brockton, Mass.: "My ode to Rex Grossman. I needed 10 points to win. Bud Light needs to make a commercial for "Mr -10 points Fantasy Football Quarterback Guy." Where others just stop at zero, you (I) persist to push boundaries never before seen on the land of Fantasy Football. Bench player, injured reserve, empty roster spots, no! You will have none of that, for you the goal is total ineptness. Mr. -10 point Fantasy Football Quarterback Guy."
Well done, people, well done. And there were hundreds more.
Grossman leaves my top 12, but not because I am giving up on him. There have been bad performances over the years, yes, but this one was special. Whereas Rex was the No. 3 player in fantasy when Week 6 began, and only one point out of second, now he is tied for 11th with Jon Kitna and Clinton Portis. So Grossman still has fancy season totals and he still is the tied for fifth among quarterbacks. You throw out the four-TD game and the four-INT game and we're left with a pretty good fantasy option, one who also misses the "other five" section, but that's more because I don't have any other QBs there either.
Going heavy with the running backs again this week, and two receivers enter the fray.
1. Donovan McNabb, Eagles (previously 1)
2. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers (2)
3. Clinton Portis, Redskins (4)
4. Steven Jackson, Rams (7)
5. Larry Johnson, Chiefs (3)
6. Torry Holt, Rams
7. Brian Westbrook, Eagles (8)
8. Peyton Manning, Colts (9)
9. Frank Gore, 49ers (10)
10. Tiki Barber, Giants (12)
11. Steve Smith, Panthers
12. Marc Bulger, Rams

Just missed: Tatum Bell, Broncos; Rudi Johnson, Bengals (5); Chester Taylor, Vikings (previously 11); Bears D; Shaun Alexander; Willis McGahee;
Thoughts: McNabb now has 150 fantasy points, 49 more than the next guy, who is Bulger. Think about that, he has one-third more fantasy points through six weeks than anyone else. He's dominating the fantasy football world. He remains No. 1. Tomlinson didn't get the yards, but four scores is quite a few when one considers that through five weeks, no running back or wide receiver had more than four scores all season! The Chiefs' Johnson drops just a bit, but not far, with the equally safe Portis and Rams' Jackson easing past him.
Got a problem with Holt? I don't. He should've been in there before. Steve Smith is now tied for 11th among wide receivers (with teammate Keyshawn Johnson), despite playing in only four games. And Bulger has better stats than Peyton, but based on history, and the fact the bye this week will even the field, Bulger finishes the top 12.
I really wanted to leave Bulger out and go with a running back, but Denver's Bell, while being good, is never great (blame Jake Plummer?), Cincy's Rudi is the big dropper from five to out, but could easily get back in when we see that offense revive itself, and the Vikes' Taylor has to leave as well, as unfair as that might be since he was on bye. He can attribute this to the wide receivers forcing him out. So those are the Week 6 Power Rankings. Discuss. Feedback is always welcomed.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/17/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/17/06)

Oct. 18, 2006, 4:06 PM
Carroll: McNair, Alexander, Green


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By Will Carroll
ESPN Fantasy Games

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The quest to learn more about the relationship between injuries and the NFL takes some interesting twists. A reader e-mailed asking whether some teams are just more physical than others. After seeing the Texans come out of Sunday's game with almost their entire roster on the injury report, I can understand why some people might think that, but is there any evidence? Using the injury database built by Pro Football Prospectus that covers the last 10 years, the answer is ... maybe. Injuries do tend to come in bunches, but teams themselves don't appear to have any discernible, consistent effect. One AFC exec I spoke to about it pointed to Denver; he suggested their zone-blocking scheme should show a pattern. While Denver does seem to cause slightly more injuries than other teams over the 10-year period, it's not so apparent that the Broncos are actually the cause. One would expect to see knee injuries, but instead it's mostly muscular problems. I think there's something here, but thus far I haven't found the pattern yet. There's nothing provable, aside from the realization that there's likely a tipping point at which medical staffs become overwhelmed and injury prevention breaks down. If you have ideas, be sure to drop me an e-mail or stop by my Friday chat.
Lots of injuries this week, so let's get to it:
The bye week couldn't come at a better time for Steve McNair. He had his head and neck injured in a violent, strangely constructed QB sandwich between two Panthers. McNair's head was hit and at the same time forced down (chin towards chest, or hyperflexion). Ending up with both a concussion and a sore neck -- and an abrasion where the face mask hit his neck -- McNair looked groggy and unstable walking off the field. He was holding his nose, leading one trainer I know to tell me that he'd been hit so hard that his sinuses drained. If John Madden can say "slobberknocker," can I say "snotknocker"? Concussions are always interesting and tough to hold to any timetable, but the bye week gives McNair a chance to get back before the next game. Watch for him to be back at practice when the Ravens come back to gauge any limitations.
Shaun Alexander is making progress, but his foot still hasn't healed enough to get back into games. Recent bone scans are reported to show a continued nonunion -- what's being called a "small crack" -- in the fourth metatarsal. He'll need both complete healing and a stable union before he'll be cleared to practice. The stability is the key here. Alexander needs to be able to cut or at least round the corners. I think the healing pace is normal, but I'm concerned about the psychological effect on Alexander. Running backs often unconsciously limit themselves from doing things they can do after an injury. ACL rehabbers often tend to run "straight ahead," limiting the cutting that they don't have confidence in. The first time you see Alexander plant on that foot and accelerate, you'll know this episode is behind him. I'm just not sure when that will be.
Bye weeks can be a godsend to many teams. Ahman Green went through a full practice on Monday and will have his limitations removed later this week. While he's not 100 percent, he's close enough that barring a setback, Green is going to return to his feature role. Even so, the Packers are likely to take some carries from Green in order to keep him healthy and to continue developing Noah Herron. Green's hamstring problem is something that can recur, though the bye week rest gave him a (no pun intended) leg up on staying healthy the rest of the way. Remember, the hamstring injury is likely related to last year's quad tendon strain and that history isn't going anywhere.
Remember way back when we all thought the Bengals were the class of their division and a team ready to go deep into the playoffs? What was that, two weeks ago? Time flies in the fickle world of fantasy football, a place where "what have you done for me lately" is the motto chiseled into memory. I thought that Rudi Johnson had a chance to become an elite back, on par with Tiki Barber or Edgerrin James, but we're learning that the offensive line has more to do with RB points than many thought. Sure, James is the test case in Arizona, moving from a great line in Indy to a not-so-great one in Glendale, but it's not like the Colts backs have set the world on fire either. So when Levi Jones goes down, adding to the problems of a reshuffled Bengals line, you definitely have to wonder what that does to Johnson or Carson Palmer's backside. Looking at the play-by-play log, Johnson had only one play running behind left tackle after losing Jones, a gain of just one yard. Prior to that, Johnson only ran left twice, so the effect might be minimized, though I'll leave the heavy game analysis to KC Joyner. Jones will need his knee scoped and should miss the better part of a month on average.
So the story is finally coming out. Laveranues Coles injured his hand during that wacky lateral play against the Colts and has played through it. We still don't know what the injury was exactly, though his reaction and the mechanism of injury suggest some form of dislocation. Despite this, it's easy to look at his results over the past couple weeks and say that it doesn't matter. Yes, it's worth knowing about and worrying about, but it's not affecting his play. We have to note the injury and the risk of exacerbation more than we need to worry about its effect on his current production. Coles is proving that he can be effective despite injuries this season and yes, that is also a skill.
The PUP list sounds cute and cuddly, but it's not. It can be a friend to many teams who get players back and get roster relief while they're waiting. Curtis Martin is making progress and has stayed in "game shape," according to one source, while on the PUP. In the next week or so, Eric Mangini and his staff will take a good look at Martin to see if he'll be able to play. Don't expect him to be an immediate solution at RB for the Jets. Even if activated, it's unlikely that Martin will return to the feature role and may even be inactive for a while. The same holds true for Luke McCown. His return is far less important with the emergence of Bruce Gradkowski in Tampa. The same holds true for Chris Perry, who has had physical woes in Cincy. It's important to remember that a team has three weeks before having to make a roster decision on a PUP player, so none of these should have an immediate fantasy impact.
It's never good to face Peyton Manning with a beaten-down secondary. The Redskins got Shawn Springs back in a limited role, but still felt like they could improve themselves by signing Troy Vincent. Vincent, you'll remember, was placed on the Injured Reserve by the Bills, then released at his request. Both Springs and Vincent could help cover any limitation that Carlos Rogers has this week. Rogers broke this thumb and had screws inserted Monday to stabilize it. Get this -- he's expected to play on Sunday. That's the kind of thing you only see in pro football, the type of response that makes you shake your head in a combination of amazement and mocking derision.
Everyone wants edge rushers. In the NFL, finding an edge rusher is like finding gold or having Danni Boatwright sit next to you on a plane. Maybe not that good, but close. The Falcons have two edge rushers, but both are hurt, something that can devastate a defense. John Abraham played last week, but was limited and didn't respond well, his groin tightening up as he neared his 20 play limit set by the coaching staff. Abraham is likely to be limited again this week, dulling his impact on the edge. At the other end of the defense, Patrick Kerney is not only picking up the extra blockers that Abraham usually gets met with, he's injured as well, leaving the game with a moderate hamstring strain. Add in a mix to Rod Coleman up the middle as well as the continued wait for Ed Hartwell's return and you can see that the Falcons' D-line is in a bit of an injury morass. If you read this as a good thing for Willie Parker, you're exactly right.
If you've seen Steve Smith lately, you'll know that he looks healthy now. He's running free and clearly separating from the DBs covering him. Last week, I finally saw the burst that we saw last season. (Admittedly, I only saw highlights of Smith in Week 5, so I could be a week late to this party.) Smith's hamstrings remain some concern, but he's proven healthy, and health is a skill. DeAngelo Williams isn't as lucky. The Panthers confirmed that Williams has a high ankle sprain and will miss around a month. Even then, the high ankle sprain has a high level of recurrence and can even go chronic on a player. For a speed player like Williams, this could be a devastating injury if he's not allowed to heal completely. Bumps and Bruises: I'm watching Jags RB Maurice Jones-Drew. He's been playing like we were told Reggie Bush would, but he missed practice Monday. No word on what the injury is. ... The Colts continue to discuss the Corey Simon case, insisting there is no differential diagnosis, while Simon's teammates continue to wonder why the Colts are so insistent about not paying him. ... It looks like Robert Ferguson is done for the season. The foot injury that shelved him was discovered to be a Lisfranc fracture, a more serious problem than originally thought. ... Deuce McAllister had some hamstring cramping during Sunday's game. Keep an eye on this -- muscle pulls following knee surgery are common. Why? Increased weight lifting and workouts during rehab can rebalance muscles and change the gait. ... Jerramy Stevens didn't play this week due to continued concerns about the stability of his knee post-surgery. Stevens reported that the knee "felt odd" after practicing, and the last-second decision to keep him out could recur. ... Adam Vinatieri and the Colts insist he'll play this week. I'm at a point where I'll believe it when I see it.
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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 10/17/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/17/06)

Oct. 18, 2006, 12:33 PM
FFL: Week 7 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. WAS
2. Donovan McNabb at TB
3. Eli Manning at DAL
<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->4. Matt Hasselbeck vs. MIN
5. Jake Delhomme at CIN
6. Chad Pennington vs. DET
7. Philip Rivers at KC
8. Byron Leftwich at HOU
9. Carson Palmer vs. CAR
10. Tom Brady at BUF
<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]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. Brett Favre at MIA
12. Matt Leinart at OAK
13. Drew Bledsoe vs. NYG
14. Jon Kitna at NYJ
15. Ben Roethlisberger at ATL
16. Joey Harrington vs. GB
17. Bruce Gradkowski vs. PHI
18. Mark Brunell at IND
19. Jake Plummer at CLE
20. Brad Johnson at SEA
21. Michael Vick vs. PIT
22, J.P. Losman vs. NE
23. Damon Huard vs. SD
24. David Carr vs. JAC
25. Andrew Walter vs. ARI
26. Charlie Frye vs. DEN

Running Backs
1. LaDainian Tomlinson at KC
2. Larry Johnson vs. SD
3. Willie Parker at ATL
4. Tiki Barber at DAL
5. Tatum Bell at CLE
6. Clinton Portis at IND
7. Ronnie Brown vs. GB
8. DeShaun Foster at CIN
9. Brian Westbrook at TB
10. Kevin Jones at NYJ
11. Julius Jones vs. NYG
12. Rudi Johnson vs. CAR
13. Willis McGahee vs. NE
14. Carnell Williams vs. PHI
15. Edgerrin James at OAK
16. LaMont Jordan vs. ARI
17. Corey Dillon at BUF
18. Laurence Maroney at BUF
19. Chester Taylor at SEA
20. Fred Taylor at HOU
21. Maurice Jones-Drew at HOU
22. Warrick Dunn vs. PIT
23. Maurice Morris vs. MIN
24. Dominic Rhodes vs. WAS
25. Reuben Droughns vs. DEN
26. Ahman Green at MIA
27. Kevan Barlow vs. DET
28. Leon Washington vs. DET
29. Joseph Addai vs. WAS
30. Marion Barber III vs. NYG
31. Brandon Jacobs at DAL
32. Wali Lundy vs. JAC
33. Najeh Davenport at ATL
34. Noah Herron at MIA
35. Michael Turner at KC
36. Jerious Norwood vs. PIT
37. Ladell Betts at IND
38. Mike Alstott vs. PHI
39. Nick Goings at CIN
40. Ron Dayne vs. JAC

Wide Receivers
1. Steve Smith at CIN
2. Roy Williams at NYJ
3. Anquan Boldin at OAK
4. Marvin Harrison vs. WAS
5. Reggie Wayne vs. WAS
6. Reggie Brown at TB
7. T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. CAR
8. Laveranues Coles vs. DET
9. Santana Moss at IND
10. Chad Johnson vs. CAR
11. Reggie Williams at HOU
12. Greg Jennings at MIA
13. Joey Galloway vs. PHI
14. Andre Johnson vs. JAC
15. Javon Walker at CLE
16. Terrell Owens vs. NYG
17. Darrell Jackson vs. MIN
18. Deion Branch vs. MIN
19. Randy Moss vs. ARI
20. Amani Toomer at DAL
21. Plaxico Burress at DAL
22. Terry Glenn vs. NYG
23. Donald Driver at MIA
24. Chris Chambers vs. GB
25. Lee Evans vs. NE
26. Hines Ward at ATL
27. Braylon Edwards vs. DEN
28. Keyshawn Johnson at CIN
29. Jerricho Cotchery vs. DET
30. Doug Gabriel at BUF
31. Wes Welker vs. GB
32. Bryant Johnson at OAK
33. Eric Parker at KC
34. Rod Smith at CLE
35. Eddie Kennison vs. SD
36. Mike Furrey at NYJ
37. Ernest Wilford at HOU
38. Michael Clayton vs. PHI
39. Derek Hagan vs. GB
40. Samie Parker vs. SD
41. Keenan McCardell at KC
42. Troy Williamson at SEA
43. Hank Baskett at TB
44. Eric Moulds vs. JAC
45. Travis Taylor at SEA
46. Ronald Curry vs. ARI
47. Troy Brown at BUF
48. Nate Washington at ATL
49. Santonio Holmes at ATL
50. Nate Burleson vs. MIN
51. Marcus Robinson at SEA
52. Greg Lewis at TB
53. Joe Jurevicius vs. DEN
54. Troy Walters at OAK
55. Antwaan Randle El at IND
56. Brandon Lloyd at IND
57. Malcolm Floyd at KC
58. Josh Reed vs. NE
59. Chad Jackson at BUF
60. Ashley Lelie vs. PIT

Tight Ends
1. Antonio Gates at KC
2. L.J. Smith at TB
3. Randy McMichael vs. GB
4. Jeremy Shockey at DAL
5. Kellen Winslow Jr vs. DEN
6. Tony Gonzalez vs. SD
7. Alge Crumpler vs. PIT
8. Alex Smith vs. PHI
9. Chris Cooley at IND
10. Dallas Clark vs. WAS
11. Heath Miller at ATL
12. Chris Baker vs. DET
13. Jason Witten vs. NYG
14. Jermaine Wiggins at SEA
15. Benjamin Watson at BUF
16. Daniel Graham at BUF
17. Courtney Anderson vs. ARI
18. Marcus Pollard at NYJ
19. Jerramy Stevens vs. MIN
20. Bubba Franks at MIA
21. George Wrighster at HOU
22. Bryan Fletcher vs. WAS
23. Itula Mili vs. MIN
24. Donald Lee at MIA
25. Ben Utecht vs. WAS

Defense/Special Teams
1. Pittsburgh at ATL
2. Jacksonville at HOU
3. San Diego at KC
4. Denver at CLE
5. Indianapolis vs. WAS
6. Philadelphia at TB
7. Seattle vs. MIN
8. N.Y. Giants at DAL
9. Cincinnati vs. CAR
10. Carolina at CIN
11. New England at BUF
12. Atlanta vs. PIT
13. Buffalo vs. NE
14. Miami vs. GB
15. N.Y. Jets vs. DET
16. Tampa Bay vs. PHI
17. Dallas vs. NYG
18. Minnesota at SEA
19. Arizona at OAK
20. Green Bay at MIA
21. Cleveland vs. DEN
22. Washington at IND
23. Detroit at NYJ
24. Kansas City vs. SD
25. Houston vs. JAC
26. Oakland vs. ARI
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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 10/17/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/17/06)

Oct. 18, 2006, 3:20 PM
Engel: Hasselbeck, Herron and Berrian


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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.
Quarterback
With Shaun Alexander expected to miss at least two more games with a foot injury, it's clear that the burden of carrying the Seattle offense now falls on Matt Hasselbeck. And he is certainly ready to handle the pressure. Hasselbeck went through the extremes in his past two games in terms of opponents, facing the ultra-tough Bears defense before tearing up a shoddy St. Louis secondary.
Hasselbeck started slowly against the Rams, with only six completions in the first half, but he eventually finished with fine numbers, throwing for three TDs and 268 passing yards. Maurice Morris hasn't offered much run support in Alexander's place, and the Seattle offense looked predictable in the loss at Chicago and for much of the first half at St. Louis. But once the Seahawks at least attempted to run the ball to keep the Rams honest in the second half, Hasselbeck was able to buy more time to throw.
Newcomer Deion Branch has quickly become an integral part of the passing game, and trustworthy Darrell Jackson has remained healthy. Nate Burleson hasn't done much statistically, but his speed does force defenses to pay attention to him, and opponents should continue to have a hard time containing the Seahawks multiple weapons. Morris' yardage numbers have been mediocre, but with Hasselbeck ready to hand off to him at any time, and even to fullback Mack Strong on occasion, defenses can't fully ignore the ground game. Morris does have the speed to earn a few good gains here and there, which is enough to prevent the opposition from not honoring the run game.
Tight end Jerramy Stevens could finally return from a knee injury this week against the Vikings, adding yet another dimension to the passing game. Stevens is a big target who gives Hasselbeck another option over the middle. Morris won't be able to effectively run the ball against Minnesota, but Seattle will certainly give him enough touches to maintain a good offensive balance. The passing game won't be productive if Seattle doesn't at least attempt to run for decent totals, even if the overall result isn't good. After facing the Bears and re-establishing himself against the Rams, Hasselbeck should be able to post quality fantasy totals against any opponent. The adjustment period to playing with Alexander seems to be over, and now Hasselbeck can simply focus on being the crux of the offense while taking advantage of what might be the best receiving corps in the NFL.
QB Audibles: Joey Harrington should have finished with better numbers against the Jets this past Sunday, but he was hurt by five dropped passes, including one in the end zone that should have been caught by Randy McMichael for a TD. ... Texans head coach Gary Kubiak told the Houston Chronicle there was no reason to read anything into his benching of David Carr late in Sunday's loss to Dallas. There appears to be no real chance of Sage Rosenfels threatening Carr's playing time yet.
Running Back
Ahman Green has been able to make it through practice early this week without any issues, leaving little doubt that he will start at Miami. It appears the bye this past week has allowed Green's hamstring to heal better. That means Noah Herron, who was a hot free agent addition recently in many leagues, will return to a reserve role behind Green.
There is a possibility Herron could be used as a change-of-pace runner to keep Green from getting overworked, but even that is not a certainty. Herron rushed for more than 100 yards in place of an injured Green in the fifth week of the season, but the coaching staff talked about how Green could have broken off more long runs if he were healthy. Herron doesn't even have a lock on the backup job. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently reported Vernand Morency remains in the RB mix despite his apparent fumbling problems in limited action overall.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy, however, said that Herron does deserve a shot at more playing time after his performance against the Rams. Herron does understand that Green is the Packers' clear No. 1 RB, but he also understands Green Bay's zone-blocking schemes and can gain the tough yards even if he doesn't have the speed the coaching staff ideally wants.
"It's just a little disheartening that people are thinking somebody else could have done that, too," Herron said of his performance against St. Louis. "I was out there that day and nobody else. They're not going to take anything away from me."
Herron, who has always consulted former teammate Jerome Bettis for advice, told the Sentinel that he learned from Bettis that you can overcome a lack of classic speed with good vision and quick feet. Herron is also confident in his ability to run between the tackles. "You have to work with what you got. That's a big thing I learned from (Bettis)."
Herron might not appear to be in line for quality playing time this week, but that doesn't mean you should cut him from your fantasy roster. If he gets another chance to play regularly, he'll make the most of his abilities, and he appears to be the obvious handcuff to Green right now, who remains an injury risk. Morency isn't out of the picture, but Herron has been more impressive when given the chance to play often.
RB Cutbacks
The Newark Star-Ledger reports Cedric Houston (knee) is getting close to returning. It will be interesting to see if he fits into the Jets' RB situation when he returns, as he can run for better yardage than Kevan Barlow when he is healthy and has the opportunity to play. ... Chris Brown was not traded as hoped by the player and his agent, and seems destined to stick on the Tennessee bench for the rest of the year with the re-emergence of Travis Henry and the promise of LenDale White.
Wide Receiver
While much of the negative offensive focus on Monday night was on Rex Grossman, it must be noted that Bernard Berrian delivered his worst numbers of the 2006 season. Berrian, who outside of Marques Colston, is arguably the biggest surprise sleeper at wide receiver, caught only two passes for 31 yards. So was the Berrian that we saw earlier this season just an illusion? Have opposing defenses found a way to contain him?
Stop there. Berrian's performance was hardly a disappearing act. Grossman overthrew him on what could have been an easy TD reception on the first drive of the game. It wasn't the only time that Grossman overthrew him, and he also underthrew him and simply missed his target many times when looking in Berrian's direction. Berrian was the one Chicago wide receiver who wasn't fully intimidated by a surprisingly physical Arizona defense. He was open often despite being double-covered and jammed regularly. Don't panic about Berrian's performance. He'll rebound quickly. WR Patterns: Javon Walker said Denver's offensive improvements could begin by getting him the ball more. Walker has clearly put a lost 2005 season behind him and is making the most of every catch, playing well despite Rod Smith not being much of a presence as his receiving partner. "Give me the ball. I want the ball," Walker told the Denver Post. "I don't think I've been as big a part of the offense as I can be."
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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 10/17/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/17/06)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Promising Panther


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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 -->Panthers running back DeShaun Foster might not have been one of the more popular fantasy picks of the preseason, picked 47th on average overall and 24th at his position. But with the news that rookie DeAngelo Williams, his primary backup, will miss one month with an ankle injury, suddenly Foster has become someone well worth watching for fantasy.
It shouldn't be any surprise that Foster wasn't a popular fantasy pick in the preseason; he's one of the most brittle players in the game, missing 31 games combined his first four years in the NFL, including his entire rookie year of 2002 with a knee injury. Plus, those of you who watched Williams flash his incredible speed in the preseason surely believed that a player with his upside wouldn't have much trouble overtaking a guy like Foster who, in 377 rushing attempts from 2003-05, only five times broke off a run of 20 or more yards.
Still, as many NFL teams tend to do, the Panthers stuck with the more experienced Foster coming out of training camp, and so far, health has hardly been a problem. He has started all six of Carolina's games, and is on pace to carry the ball a career-best 304 times. And in two of his past three games, he has topped 100 rushing yards, which isn't bad.
Really, Foster has gotten a bad rap for his shaky injury history, but the talent's there for him to be a weekly No. 2 fantasy option, regardless of matchup. He's not that much less speedy than Williams, he hits the holes effectively and does a fine job breaking tackles, and the fact that he catches enough passes for 35-40 given a full season is an added benefit for fantasy owners. The Panthers do face a bit of a challenging schedule for a runner, but even if Foster is only an 80-yard type with touchdown potential each week, that's not a bad player to have, and at least we know now that the job's entirely his for at least three more games.
As for Williams, while his value is now mostly confined to keeper leagues, he'll remain a useful handcuff option to Foster if your league allows you a deep bench. Williams seems much less likely to emerge as a starter before next season now barring a Foster injury, but with that always a concern, he's a smart player to keep around for now, or to snatch off the free-agent list if his owner gives up on him due to his ankle problem. <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
While Bears QB Rex Grossman endured a disastrous Week 6, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger finally turned around what had been a miserable season to this point. He completed 16 of 19 passes (84.2 percent) for 238 yards and two touchdowns, but more importantly, he wasn't picked off once after throwing seven interceptions combined in his first three games. While Roethlisberger doesn't seem like he'll be the focal point of the Pittsburgh offense, since the Steelers are and should remain a run-based offense, he's looking sharp and confident enough to be a lot closer to the consistent, efficient passer he was in his first two NFL seasons. One game still doesn't strike me as the type of game that will cure everything that ails Roethlisberger, but it's enough to look at him as a matchups type once more, with attractive plays in Weeks 8 (at Oakland), 10 (vs. New Orleans) and 11 (at Cleveland) coming up in the near future. Plus, another game or two of strong performance with little to no mistakes could make him someone to consider even when the matchup is a bit more challenging. Roethlisberger remains a guy to keep on hand as a backup, and there's a chance he could be one of the second half's biggest sleepers if he can continue to show the improvement he did in Week 6.


THE BOTTOM LINE

David Carr, QB, Texans
15-for-27 passing, 128 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT

It seems like people have been sitting back forever, waiting for Carr to finally develop into that standout weekly fantasy option. Perhaps it's his No. 1 overall draft pick status -- he went to the Texans with the first pick in 2002 -- because among the quarterbacks picked first overall the past decade-plus are Drew Bledsoe (1993), Peyton Manning (1998), Michael Vick (2001), Carson Palmer (2003) and Eli Manning (2004), and all of those at one point or another have been reliable fantasy players for extended periods. Of course, Tim Couch (1999) also made the list, which helps demonstrate that not every top prospect pans out. Carr's still young enough -- he's 27 -- to make that leap forward at some point, and with seven touchdowns, two interceptions and an average of 216.3 passing yards in his first four contests, it seemed like this year might have been the time he finally became a consistent, quality passer. Unfortunately, he went right back to his old shaky ways in Week 6, with a season-worst 55.6 completion percentage and two interceptions, and things probably won't get any better in Week 7 as Carr battles the Jaguars. Maybe someday, if Carr actually winds up on a team with more support from his offensive line and a running game that inspires some fear in its opponents, he'll become a more interesting fantasy type, but this season, it seems he's again only a bye week fill-in, at best.
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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 10/17/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/17/06)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Rex Is All Wrong


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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 -->While the Bears did manage a miraculous comeback on Monday night, you can't give Rex Grossman credit for it. The Bears may be reveling in victory, but some owners of Grossman are as mad as Dennis Green was in his postgame press conference on Monday night.
Green was left groping for answers after Arizona's embarrassing meltdown, and Grossman's owners are still trying to understand while the suddenly "reborn" Bears quarterback looked very Ryan Leaf-like against one of the NFL's most vulnerable defenses. Grossman finished with a seemingly unreal total of -7 points in ESPN.com leagues, as he threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles. He didn't throw a single TD pass and totaled only 148 passing yards.
Football is definitely a game of emotion, and a fired-up Arizona defense played over its heads in a rare chance to perform in front of a national audience and a big crowd. The Chicago offensive line appeared to have no answer for Arizona's tremendous pass pressure. Plus, you must also give credit to Arizona's coaching staff, at least for fine defensive game planning.
The Arizona secondary did a fine job of neutralizing the Chicago wide receivers, paying extra attention to Bernard Berrian, and hitting the Bears pass-catchers very hard many times when they did get into position to catch the ball. The Chicago receivers actually seemed knocked off their game by an unusually physical Cardinals secondary. Berrian caught only two passes for 31 yards, but Grossman missed him on more than one occasion when Berrian did get open. Ultimately, you can't blame anyone or anything for Grossman's terrible outing as much as Grossman himself. He made bad reads, overthrew receivers and refused to adjust when Arizona took away the deep ball. Grossman continued to throw downfield often instead of taking what the defense would give him underneath, and made many bad throws in the process.
Grossman certainly isn't a bad fantasy QB, and an upcoming bye week should give him some time to gather himself and return to the field with improved numbers. But last night's performance was a clear indicator that Grossman is not an elite fantasy QB. I'm not saying Grossman is terrible by any stretch. He certainly isn't as incompetent as he looked on Monday night. But let's consider that outside of his four-TD outing against Detroit in the second week, Grossman has not thrown more than two TD passes in a game, and he has one or less scoring passes in three games. He also doesn't have a 300-yard passing game this season. Grossman is a good fantasy QB, but he's not great. He'll rebound from last night's awful outing, but now fantasy players can sit back and realize he isn't a superstar. <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
While Grossman didn't play a real part in Chicago's victory, Matt Leinart can't shoulder much of the blame for Arizona's devastating loss. In fact, if not for the impressive rookie QB, the Cardinals would have never mounted a lead in the first place. Against the league's most sinister defense, Leinart left little doubt that he can handle major pressure at the NFL level. He didn't try to do too much and took what the defense gave him, while remaining poised and confident in the pocket. Leinart was not flustered when he was flushed out of the pocket, and he coolly put together a possible game-winning drive. Leinart made great use of top target Anquan Boldin (12 catches, 136 yards, one TD), while spreading the ball around enough to keep the Chicago secondary off balance. Leinart finished with 232 passing yards, two TD passes and no interceptions. He did lose a critical fumble, but bounced back to put his team into position to win, only to see Neil Rackers miss a field goal and put the loss in the books. Leinart performed admirably without the support of a quality running game, playing behind a suspect offensive line. Leinart certainly has to be considered a quality fantasy starter in many leagues, especially for owners who don't have passers like Donovan McNabb or Marc Bulger. There's not too much to prove after a guy stared into the face of the league's best defense and doesn't blink. Leinart might have a few scattered down performances, but it's apparent you can count on him for at least solid fantasy numbers in most weeks.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals
36 carries, 55 yards, 0 TDs

The final statistical line leaves you shaking your head, rubbing your eyes, and second-guessing your decision to draft him. But you can't kick yourself in retrospect for drafting James, because no one expected his numbers to look as baffling as they did on Monday night. But the reality is, never in the history of the game, has a running back carried so many times while averaging under two yards per carry in a game. Overall, James doesn't have a 100-yard rushing game yet this year, and he has only scored twice. You can lay heavy blame on the Arizona offensive line, which has been dominated regularly on a weekly basis in running situations. And while the Arizona passing game continues to fare well, opposing defenses certainly are still gearing up to stop James every week, and succeeding. James may now regret his move to Arizona. Fantasy players certainly do, and can't consider him a regular starter anymore. Don't be too hopeful if you try to deal him, because you won't find many takers unless you can get rid of him in a package. Just make sure you have other options at RB right now, because you can't depend on James in any matchup.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 6</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: Will continue to carry the Seattle offense while Shaun Alexander sits out</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>passYDS</TD><TD>passTD</TD><TD>INT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>268</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>22</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>26</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Keep him out of your starting lineup until he starts to run more effectively and does more with the ball in his hands</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>11</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>25</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>35</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>5</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>Roy Williams, WR, Lions: Should remain a fixture in your fantasy lineup as long as he stays healthy</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>10</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>161</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>17</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</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>Randy McMichael, TE, Dolphins: Re-emerging as a top player at his position with Joey Harrington looking for him often</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>72</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>12</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
? The Houston Chronicle reports Wali Lundy will get another chance at RB with the Texans' running game sputtering. Ron Dayne has a knee injury, but Gary Kubiak admitted he was thinking of bringing Lundy back into a prime role, anyway. Lundy played well at times during the preseason and is worth adding to your bench as a free agent, but he isn't fast or elusive enough for a to produce good numbers regularly.
? Packers RB Ahman Green (hamstring) was able to practice on Monday and is expected to return to the starting lineup on Sunday. It remains to be seen whether he will share a few carries with Noah Herron, as the Packers might use Herron to prevent Green from getting overworked.
? Ravens QB Steve McNair (concussion, neck sprain) is expected to be able to play after the upcoming bye. A week of rest should allow him to return to the starting lineup on October 29. ? Monday Box | Friday Box | Karabell's Blog





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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 10/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 10/18/06)

Oct. 19, 2006, 12:28 PM
Week 7: 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.
Mark Brunell's last stand? It's a tough time to be a Redskins fan, with the team now 2-4, 1.5 games behind the 3-2 Cowboys and Giants (and 2 games out of first place) and headed to Indianapolis to play the 5-0 Colts, winners of 15 of their last 17 home games (playoffs included), in Week 7. As a result, it's no surprise we're hearing chatter that the Redskins should replace Brunell with a younger, fresher quarterback like Jason Campbell, if only because the season's slipping further away, and there will soon come a point where the team might as well see what it's got for 2007 in Campbell. The problem with that, for fantasy, however, is that a move to Campbell isn't going to strengthen the offense, at least not in the short term, and for owners of Santana Moss and Clinton Portis, it's a real concern. Brunell will be put to the test this Sunday, in a game where he will almost assuredly be forced to play catch-up, and if he's not effective in doing so, it could cost him his job. For Moss' and Portis' sake, it'd be nice to see Brunell bounce back, but I'm beginning to think a switch to Campbell is coming ... soon.
Drew Bledsoe's last stand? OK, so that headline doesn't work as well, but Bledsoe's in somewhat similar a situation to Brunell, with a younger quarterback garnering attention as a possible replacement option in the new future. We all remember the rumors that Tony Romo might unseat the veteran for his job in the preseason, and it didn't happen, but with Bledsoe looking somewhat erratic to this point, the Romo talk could surely return before long. Let's say Bledsoe's on a longer leash than Brunell, but a Monday Night game against the division rival -- and 2005 playoff team -- Giants is a key one in which he needs a successful outing. A switch to Romo sure wouldn't appear to help the numbers of Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn, so if you have them, you have to be rooting for Bledsoe on Monday.
The return of Wali Lundy. Remember this name? Another sleeper people were talking about for much of the preseason, Lundy entered the regular season as the leading man in Houston's running back-by-committee picture, but an 11-carry, 32-yard Week 1 start later, he fell out of favor with the team and was even listed as a healthy scratch the past two games. Of course, while Lundy failed to impress, neither Ron Dayne nor Samkon Gado has done much to warrant starting consideration since then, either, and with Dayne now battling a knee problem, Lundy has another chance to show the team -- and us -- what he can do given the bulk of the work. I'm not at all convinced he'll offer useful enough statistics for fantasy facing the Jaguars, but watch him play, because a strong effort could make him a nice second-half sleeper. After all, Houston's schedule does have a fair share of lighter matchups down the road, including Week 8 at Tennessee, Week 12 at the N.Y. Jets, Week 13 at Oakland and Week 14 against the Titans, so this would be an ideal time for Lundy to do enough to claim the full-time role, making him a nice flex play in those later weeks.
Matt Leinart's continued development. He seems to have taken up permanent residence in this column, but watch Leinart play and you'll understand why he's the kind of guy you should be watching each week. He has already achieved a first: He's the first player in NFL history to record two or more passing touchdowns in the first quarter of his first two career starts, and as we saw Monday night, he's poised enough to keep his cool even facing the stiffest of matchups. Let's not pin all of the Cardinals' late-game problems in Week 6 on Leinart, because he really did a good job. More important, however, is that while on paper, his next two matchups -- Week 7 at Oakland, Week 8 at Green Bay -- look fantastic, this week's game is going to serve as the ultimate test of his guile, whether he can put such a poor team effort behind him and help lead his team to a bounce-back effort. If he has a standout game, as he sure could, it'd be a great sign for him looking forward.
The Edge against the Raiders. Sticking with the Arizona theme, Edgerrin James "achieved" another NFL record for the team in Week 6, setting a new mark for most carries (36) by a player who managed worse than a 2.0 yards per carry average in the game (he finished at 1.5). How much do you think he misses running behind that Indianapolis offensive line? James has received precious little support from his O-line in Arizona, and I can't see that changing this season. Unfortunately, the problem with that is that it limits him to No. 2 fantasy RB status, and risky even as that, as he has yet to post a standout effort even facing the weakest of defenses. The bottom line: James has to step up against Oakland in Week 7, because otherwise, it's going to be hard not to call this a lost season for him.
Larry Johnson, bust of a No. 1 overall pick. He's another first-round pick who fits the "bust" classification, though what hurts with Johnson is that he was most teams' No. 1 pick overall, or at worst the third pick in your draft. Still, in what's being considered a "bad" season for Johnson, he's fourth in the league in yards from scrimmage (631) and tied for seventh in total touchdowns (4), so it's not like he has been a must-sit, either. He's better than this, no doubt, and it's games like this, against the third-ranked Chargers rush defense, in which a standout effort could help Johnson recapture his superstar status. He'll remain in your lineup every week, of course, but the worry here is that Kansas City's banged up offensive line is hurting his chances for big games, something that might linger all year.
Conservative Carson. The Bengals entered the 2006 season considered one of the game's most potent offenses, but through five games, two things are clear: Cincinnati's a team that can be beaten, and the passing game isn't quite as consistent as it was a year ago. Carson Palmer hasn't been airing things out nearly as much as he did in 2005, with his best games this year the ones in which Chris Henry was on the active roster (he's currently suspended). Palmer only seems to have chemistry with T.J. Houshmandzadeh these days, but he's going to need to open things up before long if the Bengals want to mount a serious playoff push. This isn't the best of matchups for him, but Palmer's the kind of guy who should be able to overcome challenging ones ... so long as he's not playing this conservative game.
Big Ben back on track? Ben Roethlisberger finally stepped up with his first strong performance of the 2006 season in Week 6, and it's one to build on, as he cleanly handled a Kansas City secondary that had enjoyed its share of strong outings earlier in the year. He seemed more confident, more relaxed in the pocket, and didn't feel like he had to make the big play to win games, but rather relied on the short, efficient pass attack we came to know him for in the past. Roethlisberger's not going to be a fantasy stud playing that kind of game, but he won't hurt you, which is a useful No. 2 QB type to sub in when the matchup is right. This week, he faces the Falcons on the road, which should provide him another challenge. If he's up to the task, you can call him a "safe" fantasy play once again.
Ahman Green's health. We all saw what Noah Herron can do given the bulk of the carries in Week 5, but with a week's rest due to the bye, the veteran Green should be healthy enough to reclaim the role in Week 7 at the Dolphins. Still, keep in mind Green's not getting any younger, and with guys like Herron and Vernand Morency around to press him for carries, Green doesn't have a great deal of job security. I don't think he's going to lose his job outright, by any means, but this could be another of those teams that resorts to a running back-by-committee picture in future weeks, kind of like the one Jacksonville seems to be utilizing to keep Fred Taylor fresh. Green hasn't looked all that healthy even when he has played this season, so I wouldn't let Herron go just yet. There's a good chance that he'll get another chance or two to start before the year is out. Good ol' fashioned football in Dallas. Sometimes, it's fun merely to list something to watch strictly as an NFL fan, and it sure looks like we'll have a good game to watch on Monday Night, as the division rival Giants and Cowboys square off in Dallas. It's a battle of 3-2 teams, and a game I'm expecting winds up a shoot-out, a high-scoring affair. Of special note: I'm curious how Terrell Owens follows up his three-touchdown game, because in addition to his injury issues so far this year, I think the fact that opposing defenses have been blanketing him more often has also contributed to his somewhat shaky start (before Week 6, of course). This game should be a good representation of what could happen in weeks following T.O.'s best efforts; I have a feeling Terry Glenn could be open enough to rack up huge numbers in Week 7, and perhaps the two will merely alternate who has the better week. Either way, I think both players should be fun to watch on Monday.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 10/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 10/18/06)

Oct. 19, 2006, 10:06 AM
Cockcroft: Week 7 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: Bears, 49ers, Rams, Ravens, Saints, Titans.
<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>Broncos defense (@CLE): The Broncos lead the NFL in scoring defense (7.4 points per G allowed) and rank 10th in total defense (293.4 net yards per G). They have also allowed 7 or fewer points in each of their last 4 G (19 points total). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Lee Evans, WR, Bills (NE): He has 7+ receptions in each of his last 4 G, totaling 32 receptions for 373 yards and 1 TD in those contests. He also has 66 receptions for 928 yards (14.1 per catch, 66.3 per G) and 7 TDs in his last 14 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals (CAR): He has recorded 94+ receiving yards in each of his last 3 G, totaling 23 receptions for 291 yards and 3 TDs in those contests. He also has 59 receptions for 739 yards and 8 TDs in his last 9 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars (@HOU): He has scored a TD in each of his last 3 G, totaling 29 carries for 165 yards (5.7 per carry, 55.0 per G) and 2 TDs and 7 receptions for 85 yards (83.3 scrimmage yards per G) and 2 TDs in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jaguars defense (@HOU): The Jaguars have 2 shutouts in their last 4 G, and rank 6th in the NFL in fewest points allowed per G (14.8) and 7th in total defense (281.2 net yards per G). The Jaguars also rank 2nd in the league in interceptions (9). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys (NYG): He has 3 consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts, totaling 71 carries for 328 yards (4.6 per carry, 109.3 per G) and 1 TD in those contests. He has also averaged 103.3 rushing yards with 4 TDs in his last 7 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Matt Leinart, QB, Cardinals (@OAK): He's the only player in history to throw for 2 TDs in the 1st quarter of each of his 1st 2 career GS, and he has 485 passing yards, 4 TDs and 1 interception in those G. He had 33 fantasy points in Weeks 5-6. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (@TB): He has passed for 2+ TDs in each of his 6 G this season, and has averaged 308.2 passing yards with 13 TDs and 2 interceptions in those contests. He's not only 1st in fantasy points (150); he leads the league by 49! </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Willie Parker, RB, Steelers (@ATL): He has run for a TD in each of his last 3 G (5 TDs total), and has 5 100-yard efforts in his last 7 regular-season G. In those 7 G, he has rushed 149 times for 699 yards (4.7 per carry, 99.9 per G) and 6 TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Roy Williams, WR, Lions (@NYJ): He has 3 100-yard receiving efforts and 2 TDs in his last 3 G, totaling 27 receptions for 445 yards (16.5 per catch, 111.3 per G) in those contests. He has also vaulted up to 7th among WRs in fantasy points (66). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: While the Broncos generally play better at home than on the road, it'll sure help that they'll be facing the league's most turnover-prone quarterback, the Browns' Charlie Frye. Frye has nine interceptions and three fumbles this season, making Denver's D a top play. ... There's no guarantee the Jaguars will mount a handy enough lead early enough to make proper use of both Taylor and Jones-Drew in Houston, but I still think each player should be able to notch double-digit carries and be a useful No. 2/flex option. ... Leinart's going to be a risky play his entire rookie season, but there aren't many better matchups for him than a road assignment against Oakland's shaky secondary. He's making good use of WR Anquan Boldin and should be every bit as successful this week as he has been the past two. ... Expect the Steelers-Falcons game to be a running back showcase, as Pittsburgh should find it much easier to move the ball effectively on the ground against Atlanta, while Atlanta's entire offense is based on the run. Parker and RB Warrick Dunn should be in everyone's fantasy lineup this week, and most for that matter. </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>Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins (@IND): He has averaged 206.5 passing yards with 5 TDs and 3 interceptions in 6 G this season. Plus, if you go back to last season, he has averaged 174.8 passing yards with 16 TDs and 11 interceptions in his last 16 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Buccaneers defense (PHI): The Buccaneers rank 25th among defenses in fantasy points (25), 18th in points allowed per G (20.8) and 19th in total defense (324.4 net yards per G). They have also recorded only 1 interception, tied for worst in the league. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns (DEN): He has 185 carries for 588 yards (3.2 per carry, 58.8 per G) and 1 TD in his last 10 G, and has averaged 76.0 scrimmage yards in those contests. He also has only 3 TDs in 20 G since joining the Browns. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs (SD): Since QB Damon Huard took over as KC's starter, Gonzalez has 11 receptions for 106 yards and 0 TDs in 4 G. He also has only 40 receptions for 449 yards (11.2 per catch, 49.9 per G) and 1 TD in his last 9 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Ahman Green, RB, Packers (@MIA): He has failed to score a rushing TD in his last 10 G, and in those contests, he has 159 carries for 563 yards (3.5 per carry, 56.3 per G). He has averaged 88.7 scrimmage yards with 1 TD in those 10 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals (@OAK): He's coming off a game in which he recorded the most carries (36) in NFL history for a player who averaged fewer than 2.0 yards per carry (1.5). He has also failed to top 100 yards in any of his last 9 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks (MIN): He has made 2 starts this season, and combined for 34 carries for 109 yards (3.2 average) and 0 TDs in them. In fact, in his last 8 G with 8+ carries, he has totaled 101 carries for 327 yards (3.2 average) and 1 TD. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos (@CLE): He has averaged 155.0 passing yards with 3 TDs and 5 interceptions in 5 G this season, adding two fumbles. He has also combined for 208 passing yards with 1 TD and 1 interception in his last 2 G. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Rod Smith, WR, Broncos (@CLE): He has averaged only 3.2 receptions and 27.2 receiving yards with 1 TD in 5 G this season, and in his last 8 G (postseason incl.), he has 32 receptions for 395 yards (12.3 per catch, 49.4 per G) and 2 TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Troy Williamson, WR, Vikings (@SEA): In the 3 G since his 102-yard effort in Week 2, he has 8 receptions for 77 yards and 0 TDs. He has also gone 15 consecutive G without a TD, with 33 receptions for 462 yards (30.8 per G) in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: The Colts' opponents have had a far easier time moving the ball on the ground than through the air this season, so expect RB Clinton Portis to be Washington's workhorse in Week 7. Brunell, especially coming off that miserable effort at the Giants followed by a so-so one against the Titans, is too risky to trust except when the matchup is rather favorable. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the week he officially loses his starting job. ... With so much offensive-line trouble, the Chiefs have had to use Gonzalez far too often in a blocking role the past calendar year, which severely impacts his fantasy production. He's too talented a pass catcher to drop, but I'd expect only ordinary numbers from him until the team begins to get a little healthier, if it does this year. ... James makes the list, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't play him. His inclusion is more a representation of his No. 2 fantasy RB status at this stage of the season. He's clearly not worthy of No. 1 status, even this week. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">HISTORY LESSON</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">The following players have tremendous recent track records against their scheduled opponents, making them more appealing fantasy options for this week.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Tom Brady, QB, Patriots (@BUF): He has passed for 2+ TDs in 5 of his last 6 G vs. the Bills, averaging 237.7 passing yards with 13 TDs and 4 interceptions in that 6-G span. He's 10-1 and has passed for 19 TDs in 11 career starts vs. the Bills. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>David Carr, QB, Texans (JAC): He has passed for a TD in each of his 8 career G vs. the Jaguars, and has topped 219 passing yards in 5 of his last 6 G against them. He has averaged 223.9 passing yards with 8 TDs and 5 interceptions in his career vs. the Jaguars, and has also added 32 carries for 122 yards and 3 TDs in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Corey Dillon, RB, Patriots (@BUF): He has rushed for 100+ yards and/or a TD in 5 of 7 career G vs. the Bills, totaling 125 carries for 573 yards (4.6 per carry, 81.9 per G) and 5 TDs in those contests. He also has 3 TDs in his last 3 G vs. the Bills. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers (@KC): He has scored a TD in each of his 4 career G vs. the Chiefs, and has a total of 24 receptions for 338 yards and 7 TDs in those contests. Last year alone, he had 14 catches for 197 yards and 4 TDs in 2 G vs. KC. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals (@OAK): He has 2 100-yard rushing G and 3 TDs in 3 career G vs. the Raiders, totaling 76 carries for 343 yards (4.5 per carry, 114.3 per G) and 14 receptions for 106 yards (149.7 scrimmage yards per G) in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs (SD): In his 2 career GS vs. the Chargers, he has 49 carries for 177 yards and 2 TDs, and 12 receptions for 163 yards and 2 more TDs. He also has 473 scrimmage yards and 5 TDs in his last 4 G vs. the Chargers overall. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys (NYG): He has 30 receptions for 487 yards and 6 TDs in 5 career G vs. the Giants (postseason incl.). He also has 15 career TD catches on Monday Night Football, 2nd-most all-time, 11 of which have come in his last 8 G; in 19 career G on MNF, he has 88 receptions for 1,298 yards and 15 TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants (@DAL): He has a receiving TD in 3 of his last 4 G vs. the Cowboys, totaling 14 receptions for 201 yards and 3 TDs in those contests. He also has 13 catches for 141 yards and a TD in 3 career G on Monday Night Football. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars (@HOU): He has 2 100-yard rushing G and 3 TDs in his last 5 G vs. the Texans, totaling 80 carries for 388 yards (4.9 per carry, 77.6 per G) in those contests. He had 101 yards and a TD in his last G vs. HOU (12/24/05). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys (NYG): He has 3 TDs in his career vs. the Giants, his most against any opponent, and has 22 receptions for 234 yards in 6 G vs. them. He also has 26 catches for 303 yards and 3 TDs in 6 career G on Monday Night Football. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: There's no way I'd start Carr against the Jaguars' defense, but his track record against Jacksonville needs to be noted. I'd do my best to avoid him and take a quarterback with a more favorable matchup coming off a better last game, but if you're a big believer in things like a player's history against his opponent, there are your facts in black and white. ... T.O., Shockey and Witten all make the cut from the Monday Night Giants-Cowboys game, a contest I fully expect to be a shoot-out. I'd start most everyone on either offense, but especially all the key cogs in either team's passing game. ... Taylor is coming off a 21-carry, 111-yard effort against the Jets in Week 5, and this is a comparably strong matchup for him. The Jaguars' use of Maurice Jones-Drew to spell the brittle veteran has only helped preserve him, so Taylor should remain a solid No. 2 option when the matchup is right, as it is this week. </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): Chargers at Chiefs (40 percent). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Cold temperatures (40 degrees or lower): Chargers at Chiefs could be in the low 40s. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Hot temperatures (80 degrees or higher): Packers at Dolphins and Eagles at Buccaneers could be in the low 80s. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Weatherproof games (safest playing conditions): Steelers at Falcons (Georgia Dome), Jaguars at Texans (Reliant Stadium) and Redskins at Colts (RCA 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%">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>Morten Andersen, Falcons (PIT): 92 G, 81.1 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 7.10 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Kris Brown, Texans (JAC): 26 G, 80.6 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 5.08 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Nick Novak, Redskins (@IND): 2 G, -- FGpct, -- XPTpct, 0.00 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jeff Reed, Steelers (@ATL): 3 G, 83.3 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 6.67 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Josh Scobee, Jaguars (@HOU): 6 G, 60.0 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 6.50 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Adam Vinatieri, Colts (WAS): 17 G, 94.9 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 9.12 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 6 New Articles Added 10/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 10/18/06)

Thursday, October 19, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> The Search for Perfection


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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 -->Part of the fun of playing fantasy football is we can often act as our own general managers/coaches, who we often second-guess on Mondays. But we also find ourselves second-guessing our own decisions as well, especially after a loss. In retrospect, we always seem to kick ourselves a few times per year for not making the right decisions.
But as Matt Leinart and Rex Grossman proved on Monday night, nothing in fantasy football or the NFL is fully predictable, and we'll always be in for surprises. It would be nice if we could set the same lineup every week and not have to wrestle with tough decisions the rest of the way. But even when the bye weeks pass, we'll be faced with many challenges. Instead of trying to create the perfect roster through blockbuster deals, there's nothing wrong with going with solid starters at any position and rotating them depending on matchups or hot streaks.
You don't have to own a lineup full of superstars to field a championship contender. A good fantasy owner works well with what he has, and tries to submit the best possible lineup every week even if some positions are clearly stronger than others. For example, if your quarterbacks are Byron Leftwich and Ben Roethlisberger, you don't need to trade for Marc Bulger to settle your QB position. You can simply rotate Leftwich and Roethlisberger depending on the matchups, or who is playing better of the two.
I often get questions asking me "who will be better for the rest of the season" between two players, as many fantasy leaguers just want to plug in one guy for the rest of the year and not worry any more. Well, there are rarely, if ever, cases when you can simply depend on a group of starters for the rest of the year with minimal concerns. You'll always have to deal with injuries and some down performances for almost any player. Tackling these situations and submitting your lineup with little or no second-guessing of your own moves is all you can do. Once your lineup is set, you can just hope for the best results, and realize you can't control what actually happens on the field.
There's nothing wrong with rotating Reggie Williams and Amani Toomer at your second receiver spot for the rest of the season. And if you make the wrong call in a given week, don't kick yourself for it. If you had Chad Johnson or Reggie Wayne instead, there are no guarantees that they wouldn't have had an off week, either. If you have a good core of two to three guys you can depend on regularly, you can build the rest of your roster around them and still win a lot of games. Your lineup doesn't have to be perfect at every position for your team to be a big winner. Trust your own management skills, do your homework, and you should continue to have good success overall. <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
Having too many standout players, especially in leagues of less than 12 teams, can be as frustrating as having a lineup of seemingly unreliable players in a 14- or 16-team league. You never know which guy will explode for better numbers, and leaving some players on the bench sometimes seems downright wrong. While you don't need to have a perfect lineup at every position in some standard leagues, you don't want to keep too many superstars in a smaller league. If you have Bernard Berrian, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Marvin Harrison in a league that allows only two starting receivers, and Carson Palmer is disappointing you at quarterback, you should use your depth to make a deal to improve your QB situation. You shouldn't hold onto all three guys with the fear that you'll trade the wrong guy away. If you can't make a trade to make your lineup decisions easier, you'll simply have to do one of two things every week. First, you can decide on two guys to use as your regular starters, while halting any second-guessing of yourself. Go with Houshmandzadeh and Harrison every week, and don't beat yourself up in retrospect if Berrian has a good week. Or, you can rotate the starters, the same way an owner with shaky selections in a larger league must do. Every fantasy owner in any league of any size will have to deal with tough lineup decisions. When you realize that part of your job as a fantasy owner will always be to make challenging choices, and embrace that approach, you'll be much more confident before every game and less distressed on Tuesdays.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins
Five receptions, 60 yards, 1 TD

This was supposed to be a breakthrough season for Miami's top wide receiver, but just like his team, Chambers has been a major disappointment. His 60 receiving yards was his highest total of the season to date. Chambers has caught only three TD passes so far, and his scoring catch against the Jets came during a desperation drive late in the game. Much of Chambers' lack of consistency and can be tied to the same QB issues that have plagued him throughout his career. Daunte Culpepper's struggles are well-documented, and really, how much better is Joey Harrington than Jay Fiedler was a few years ago? Actually, Harrington might be no better than Fiedler was before he was run out of South Florida. Chambers came on strong at the end of last season, though, and with Wesley Welker improving, Randy McMichael re-emerging and rookie Derek Hagan showing some promise, the Dolphins' receiving crew could be improved later in the season as the unit becomes more reliable overall. The Dolphins could play catch-up in many games, and with other pass-catchers taking pressure off him, another strong statistical finish isn't out of the question for Chambers, especially when the Dolphins are eliminated from playoff contention and begin to play looser.
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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 10/19/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/19/06)

Game by game starts/sits


posted: Friday, October 20, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


Love the feedback on the Wednesday Power Rankings, which shows just how intense people can get about a mere list of fantasy players. The discussion ranges from complimentary to angry, from friendly to threatening, and then there are those people who are just plain frustrated. The teams that own half the top 10 want to know how they're still 2-4. Well, I don't know why. The teams that own Willie Parker and don't see his name want to know if I hate the Steelers. Um, no. And then are those who want certain players out, like Frank Gore and Marc Bulger, but don't have replacements for them.

That's fine, actually. I read all the feedback and appreciate the words positive and negative. And yes, I am aware that if Donovan McNabb has 150 points and the next best total is 101, that he's not one-third better, but one-half. Clearly I wasn't a math major (nor were any of the editors who backread the blog that day!).
Before we go game by game like every other Friday, here are some of the e-mails.
Dave, NY, NY: "Where is Fast Willie Parker in these ranks?? There is no way he shouldn't at least be listed under the just missed section since you have Willis McGahee and Chester Taylor there. FWP has the third most RB touchdowns (5) and is averaging 87 yards and a touchdown per game with a couple of receptions as well. Willie is getting the same yardage per game as these two and killing them in the TD category. You have to give him strong consideration."
Eric: Agreed, Parker does deserve strong consideration. This is a big week for him, I was just trying not to overreact to a two-touchdown game and push out others. We can't discount guys like McGahee, Taylor and Rudi Johnson either.
James, D.C.: "I agree with your rankings for the most part, but I was wondering how you can have Tiki Barber in the rankings and not Rudi Johnson. The Bengals offense can only get better, meaning better stats for Rudi than he has had the last three weeks. Plus Tiki in my opinion won't score more than five TDs. Rudi will score at least eight more."
Eric: Rudi's going to score at least eight more? I suppose he could, but let's remember, Tiki scored nine touchdowns last year, mostly on longer runs, and he is leading the league in rushing. And if he's serious about hanging up the cleats, then he has no reason to hold back.
Jim, Montclair, NJ: "The season is only six weeks old, but the Bears defense has been more valuable than every player except Donovan McNabb and LaDainian Tomlinson in my two 12-team seasonal leagues. The team that drafted Chicago is in first place in both leagues (6-0 and 5-1). In one league, the team with the Bears drafted Cadillac Williams and Dominick Davis with the first two picks and is still undefeated thanks to the Bears. I know it is a simplistic look, but the teams that drafted McNabb are 3-3 in both leagues. (One of those teams has Larry Johnson and Brian Westbrook to boot.) The teams that drafted Tomlinson are 1-5 and 2-4, respectively. Statistically, if you compare these players to the average starter at their position, McNabb leads at plus 11 per game played, Tomlinson is next at plus 8, and the Bears are third at plus 7. One could argue that the Bears belong at No. 2 because they have been more consistent than Tomlinson. I don't expect the Bears to continue to average 22 fantasy points per game, but it is time to give them their due. By the way, I would drop Gore from the rankings, not Bulger."
Eric: Always enjoy reading a fine crafted, thoughtful e-mail. Jim might be correct. He certainly backs up his opinion. The Bears D has been dominating, and those who own it are ... well, I'm not going to say it. I thought McNabb owners were likely doing well. Enjoy it. Maybe in a few more weeks I'll be ready to rank a defense.
Scott, Boston: "How is Shaun Alexander in the just missed section? Just because he was a top 3 pick? The guy has hardly played, and when he did, he wasn't very good. I don't think he should be there just because he's Shaun Alexander."
Eric: I thought about dumping him out when the news came out that he'd miss at least a few more weeks. Here's why I keep Alexander in that section: He's still potentially one of the biggest difference makers in fantasy as soon he steps back on the field. I don't view Power Rankings as merely a list of point scorers. You can get that from the leaderboard.
Sandy, Chicago: "Love the rankings, Eric, question about Frank Gore though. I see the potential for him to be on the list with his number of touches, but don't you think what generally separates players that make the top 12 is their ability to score? Granted Tiki hasn't scored yet, but he's got the track record to give you some confidence that he'll get in. With Gore, he hasn't been in the end zone in a month due to both his fumbilitis and the whole offense's red zone ineptitude. Don't you think he should show some more consistent scoring before he's in?"
Eric: I don't want to assume that Gore won't score touchdowns. All we've been told, and it's not even official at this point since it happened three weeks ago, is that Michael Robinson would play a role near the goal line. So that makes Gore precisely like Tiki! Gore is 13 yards off the rushing lead (Tiki). He's ranked sixth at running back, so clearly he has talent. I'd prefer to keep him ranked and then react when convinced he doesn't deserve it.
***
Steelers 24, Falcons 16: Yep, I'm buying into the Ben Roethlisberger comeback performance last week. Blame the Chiefs if you like, but that defense had been playing well. I still think Roethlisberger's problem was a lack of a preseason and the fact his first few games were the Jags, Bengals and Chargers. I like Roethlisberger for a pair of scores in this one, and more importantly, I think the Steelers are going to keep winning. Look at this schedule: Other than Denver in Week 9, their schedule is favorable, and the next eight weeks could be a 6-2 streak, at worst.
For Pittsburgh: Play Ben and enjoy 200 yards and two scores. Willie Parker and Hines Ward always play. Nate Washington is not a bad No. 3 receiver this week.
For Atlanta: Boy, the Giants kind of figured out Michael Vick last week, didn't they? So will the Steelers. A normal 150 yards passing, 75 yards rushing, maybe one score, are coming. Warrick Dunn gets 100 yards, but, again, doesn't score. Sit the receivers, always.
Patriots 27, Bills 13: I've tried to wait for the Bills, and J.P. Losman, to figure things out, but to lose to the Lions, that's it, I'm done. I won't stop playing McGahee. Remember a few years back when Curtis Martin ran for 1,300 yards but only scored twice? Then the next year he scored 12 times? Maybe McGahee is on his way to a similar plight. Play him anyway. New England is a better team, and in their case, I think the bye week helps. Don't look at Week 1, the close 19-17 game, and think the Bills are in good shape.
For New England: Tom Brady only has one game with more than 220 yards passing, but I expect he'll top it this week. Laurence Maroney over Corey Dillon, but both should be relevant. Like the Cincy game. As for receivers, Doug Gabriel as a No. 3 WR type.
For Buffalo: McGahee is worth it, even if it's only 70 yards and he doesn't score. That's still some fantasy points. And Lee Evans is a solid No. 2 receiver. You know how many receptions he is off the league lead? Just four.
Bengals 23, Panthers 20: Many fantasy owners are going to sit Carson Palmer this weekend, but I don't think that's wise. Yes, he hasn't been great. But this isn't a Daunte Culpepper thing, with his knee a mess and his confidence shattered. I'll stick with Palmer, his running back and his receivers. And a home victory is coming, even though Carolina has won four straight.
For Cincy: Palmer gets a pair of touchdowns, one to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who enjoys the fact Chad Johnson is always double teamed. And Rudi Johnson might not do much more than 75 yards, but he remains a worthy start in virtually every league.
For Carolina: Never sit Steve Smith. In any scenario. And really, I still like Jake Delhomme in this one. DeShaun Foster is the same as Rudi this week, nothing special, but not a zero either.
Chargers 34, Chiefs 10: Sorry, Damon Huard owners, but that Week 6 performance was surprising based on his first few weeks. San Diego allowed 19 points to the 49ers last week, and that was a season high. I don't think the Chiefs will do better. At least if Larry Johnson was running well I could see something, but he's struggling.
For San Diego: Philip Rivers is a top 10 quarterback, like it or not. Who cares where you drafted him? He's worth it now. And the schedule has very few road blocks. And of course, you never sit LaDainian. As for Michael Turner, I never thought he'd get only one carry last week. I'd bet he gets 10 this week, especially when it's another blowout, but he's dangerous to rely on for fantasy.
For Kansas City: I'd still play Johnson, but I don't see big stats coming. You know, everyone blames Huard, and the offensive line, but is it possible Johnson is playing hurt? I know, all running backs are hurt in some way. I don't play other Chiefs in this one, even Tony Gonzalez, really.
Packers 17, Dolphins 16: This might not be real pretty, two one-win teams facing off, but who would you rather trust, Brett Favre or Joey Harrington? OK, maybe you trust neither of them, but the Dolphins, their season high for points is 17!
For Green Bay: I could see Favre getting 275 yards and a pair of scores. I doubt Ahman Green or his main backup Noah Herron are in for big games. Play Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. One or both could score against this defense.
For Miami: Ronnie Brown is just about the only one you want in fantasy active. The Dolphins are like the Chiefs! They've got a first round running back who can't explode. The QB situation isn't pretty. The tight end can't make plays. Ugh. Your call on Chris Chambers, but don't play him on reputation.
Jets 26, Lions 20: I'll go with Chad Pennington and Laveranues Coles. I don't know how either one is doing it, with Pennington coming off his shoulder problems and Coles playing through a number of injuries. There's no running game. The Jets are well coached and opportunistic. Oh, and how many road wins do the Lions have the last few years? Three? Four? Yuck.
For Jets: I'll play Pennington and Coles, and certainly think about Jerricho Cotchery as the No. 3 WR type. Choosing between Leon Washington and Kevan Barlow isn't pleasant. Maybe Barlow finds the end zone, but if he doesn't, then you know all you're getting is three or four points, and that's not worth it.
For Detroit: Kevin Jones is in for at least 75 yards and possibly a score, as he's having an underrated season. Jon Kitna will get his yards, like always, and you're nuts if you sit Roy Williams.
Eagles 27, Buccaneers 21: I'm really tempted to pick the home team, because Philly has lost both its games in the fourth quarter and because it couldn't run the ball. But when the Bucs won at home against Cincy last week was it a great defensive performance, or the struggling Bengals not scoring? Philly will move the ball. The question is, can they stop teams? I do like Bruce Gradkowski, but I have to think the Eagles figure out a way to stop him in the fourth quarter. Of course, he might have two or three scores by then.
For Philly: Obviously, Donovan is king, never sit him, and frankly, I wouldn't trade him either. This might keep going. Brian Westbrook wasn't great against the Saints, having his worst receiving game as a starter, but you play him. And I think Reggie Brown is a worthy play. As for Donte' Stallworth, I'm guessing he sits again.
For Tampa Bay: Carnell Williams is in that Rudi-DeShaun class of No. 2 running backs you should play each week. He might not get in the end zone. I guess I'm predicting a pair of Gradkowski touchdowns, maybe a return or defensive score. Play Joey Galloway and in an odd way, I think Michael Clayton does something.
Jaguars 27, Texans 10: Don't forget about those Jags, who won a 41-0 decision over the Jets the last time they laced 'em up. I could see this one going in a similar direction. That's not going out on a limb, but other than the Redskins game, the Jags have played terrific D.
For Jacksonville: Byron Leftwich is worth it, and if you have to choose, you must take Fred Taylor over Maurice Jones-Drew. It doesn't mean Taylor will always outperform his backup, just that the odds are with it. And I doubt Matt Jones plays this week. The Jags should run the ball very well. Both backs could be worth it.
For Houston: Andre Johnson is it. Can't play David Carr or any of the running backs.
Broncos 23, Browns 13: The thing about that wonderful Denver defense is that, in general, it hasn't been forcing many turnovers. Well, this week Charlie Frye is the opponent, so there should be some mistakes coming. Man, giving a team 13 points against the Broncos, that's something!
For Denver: Tatum Bell might never go off like I keep expecting, but his typical 80 yards is still worth it. Play him this week, and most weeks. Other than him, Javon Walker is the only other Bronco position player to look at. Of course, how often will Jake Plummer look at him? Sit Plummer in all fantasy formats.
For Cleveland: Can't really authorize any Browns this week. Reuben Droughns isn't likely to have much success.
Colts 31, Redskins 7: I just can't see this one being close, not with Washington sputtering and coming off a miserable home loss, and the team being beat up. Mark Brunell could lose his starting job after this one, or, I suppose, he could do what he did to the Jags and go nuts. I doubt it. I'll take the Colts in a rout.
For Indy: Which running back to play? I still think Dominic Rhodes is the better back for fantasy for now, but like the Jags this week, both could be worth playing in a blowout. It's risky, really, to go with either. As for the passing game, if you have to ask...
For Washington: Based on how teams have been running with ease at the Colts, Clinton Portis appears a great play. He is. He always is. That's why the Colts dealing for Anthony MacFarland makes perfect sense. Santana Moss? If you have him, you're likely going to play him, but I don't expect much.
Raiders 21, Cardinals 20: Hey, they've gotta win a game sometime, right? Well, officially the Raiders don't have to win. They do have Houston at home later this season. Part of picking the Raiders to win is realizing how awful the Cardinals must feel this week after blowing the Monday night game.
For Oakland: I think LaMont Jordan and Randy Moss still have fantasy value, though not nearly as much as they did back in August. But how can you simply give up on them? Now do I discount that swarming Arizona defense from Monday? You know, the one that forced previously solid Rex Grossman into an historically bad outing? Remember the Monday night game a few weeks back when the Saints could do no wrong? Exactly. This one is on the road. One game shouldn't change everything. Jordan tops 100 yards and scores, and Andrew Walter hits Moss for a score. But I wouldn't use Walter.
For Arizona: Matt Leinart is worth starting, figure he gets two touchdowns. Now how can I make Edgerrin James a worse play than Jordan? I just don't see James getting it done. Give him 75 yards, and three yards per carry this time. Hey, that's better than last week! And Anquan Boldin never sits.
Seahawks 27, Vikings 14: Huge kick by Josh Brown to win that game last week, monstrous. Changed a season around. Seattle could have been 3-2, with a division loss, and knowing Shaun Alexander's return would be pushed back more. Now the Seahawks turn it up a notch against a team that, unlike the Rams, doesn't move the ball as well.
For Seattle: It's all on Matt Hasselbeck, his starting receivers and Brown. Hasselbeck gets three scores, with Darrell Jackson and Deion Branch both having big games. Maurice Morris wasn't horrible last week, he did get 74 yards. He could do it again, I suppose.
For Minnesota: As you might have noticed, the only Viking I keep recommending is Chester Taylor. Enough of Brad Johnson and Troy Williamson. Taylor should get plenty of touches, enough to be worth a fantasy play.
Cowboys 34, Giants 31: Finally, a worthy Monday night game! No shutouts here. No 12 punts. Two quarterbacks who haven't exactly been treated nicely by the media ready to air things out. Put simply, everyone's going to be worth playing in this one. Jay Feely misses a 45-yarder as time runs out. Poor Eli.
For Dallas: Drew Bledsoe is not going to play badly, and he's not losing the job to Tony Romo. Give him three scores in this one, two to Terry Glenn, one to that other fellow. And then after the game, T.O. complains that Glenn one-upped him, even though the team won. And Julius Jones is, really, a weekly play.
For Giants: Eli also gets three touchdowns, with Plaxico Burress finding his way back after an off week. And lost in this Tiki Barber retirement talk is the fact he might be even more motivated to go all out, though I think he plays hard no matter what. Give him 125 yards in this one and, finally, a touchdown! OK, best of luck to all in Week 7, and check in with us on Sunday morning for more updates.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/19/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/19/06)

Oct. 20, 2006, 3:15 PM
Week 7: 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 Oakland: Don't buy too much into the fact that Oakland has a good pass defense on paper (133.8 yards per game allowed), because most teams run the ball very successfully against the Raiders. The Cardinals' offensive strength is clearly the passing game, and Matt Leinart will be good for more than one TD pass again. If the Bears can't stop him, the Raiders have little chance of containing Anquan Boldin. Edgerrin James could still struggle yardage-wise, but expect him to convert at least one short scoring opportunity. An aggressive Cardinals front seven will constantly harrass Andrew Walter, but he could still get off one scoring pass to Randy Moss. LaMont Jordan will get a lot of defensive attention up front, and don't expect outstanding numbers from the Oakland RB. Start and Smile: Matt Leinart, Anquan Boldin. Watch and Worry: Andrew Walter.
Carolina at Cincinnati: No defense can fully hold down Steve Smith, so while the Panthers might exhibit a very successful running game, the production of DeShaun Foster will allow Carolina to open up the deep passing game as well. Jake Delhomme will use play-action passes to hit Smith for at least one score, and the Panthers' QB should throw for more than 250 yards with more than one TD pass. The Bengals will try to control the clock with Rudi Johnson, but he'll have trouble finding a lot of openings behind a banged-up offensive line. Carson Palmer will have to throw a lot in key situations, which will bring mixed results, but he'll also get the ball to Chad Johnson often. Expect Johnson to re-acquaint himself with the end zone this week, even against a tough secondary. Start and Smile: Jake Delhomme, DeShaun Foster, Steve Smith, Chad Johnson. Watch and Worry: Rudi Johnson.
Denver at Cleveland: Look for Denver's offensive line to dominate here, opening up big holes for Tatum Bell, who could deliver one of his best statistical days of the season. Jake Plummer won't have to throw enough to post impressive yardage numbers, but a fine ground game should set him up for a play-action TD pass. With CB Champ Bailey handling Braylon Edwards, Charlie Frye will have few places to go with the ball, and you can expect more than one turnover from the Cleveland QB. Reuben Droughns will be fired up to face his former team, and should post quality yardage totals, even if he doesn't get in the end zone. Droughns could help the Browns stay close early, but the Broncos should pull away via Bell in the second half. Start and Smile: Tatum Bell. Watch and Worry: Charlie Frye, Braylon Edwards.
Detroit at N.Y. Jets: The Lions will continue to rely on yeoman work from Kevin Jones, who will bang his way through the New York front seven and should find the end zone at least once. A good running game should allow Jon Kitna some time to throw, and while he's always a risk to make more than one turnover, he'll continue to hook up often with Roy Williams, and the pair should connect for at least two scoring passes. The Lions' run defense will be further weakened without suspended DT Shaun Rogers, so Jets RB Leon Washington could break off a few considerable gains. But the Jets' main focus will be attacking the always-vulnerable Lions secondary, and that means Chad Pennington will hook up regularly with Laveranues Coles, while also rediscovering Jerricho Cotchery. Start and Smile: Kevin Jones, Roy Williams, Chad Pennington, Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery. Watch and Worry: Even against the Lions, you can never count on Kevan Barlow.
Green Bay at Miami: Both teams could throw the ball effectively at key points in this one, as each side is dealing with injuries in the secondary. The Miami defensive line will overpower Green Bay's blockers, and should render Ahman Green ineffective for most of the day. That will force Brett Favre to throw often, with some key completions and scores to Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, but he'll also take some big hits and will turn the ball over more than once. The Dolphins should be able to establish Ronnie Brown early, giving Joey Harrington time to throw. You can never expect great production from Harrington, but he should find Chris Chambers for a score, and he'll continue to connect with TE Randy McMichael on a regular basis. Harrington should be good for more than one TD pass, even if his yardage totals aren't outstanding. Start and Smile: Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Ronnie Brown, Chris Chambers, Randy McMichael. Watch and Worry: Ahman Green.
Jacksonville at Houston: The Jaguars will attack the shaky Houston secondary. And Byron Leftwich should throw at least two TD passes, one to Reggie Williams, who should have a fine day. A quality passing game should open up some wide holes for Fred Taylor, who should finish with good yardage numbers. Maurice Jones-Drew will get more than one opportunity to score from short range. The Houston running game will be lifeless again, forcing David Carr into many adverse passing situations. Expect Carr to be sacked often, and he will make more than one turnover. Even if Carr struggles, expect Andre Johnson to catch enough passes to finish with good totals. He could pad his numbers as the Texans play catch-up. Start and Smile: Byron Leftwich, Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew, Reggie Williams. Watch and Worry: David Carr, Wali Lundy.
Minnesota at Seattle: Most teams have found Seattle to be tough against the run, but the Minnesota offensive line, led by ex-Seahawk guard Steve Hutchinson, should win most battles with a smallish defensive front. Chester Taylor will finish with good numbers and should find the end zone. But Brad Johnson doesn't have the weaponry to challenge the Seattle secondary, and WR Troy Williamson could get shut down by CB Marcus Trufant. Travis Taylor could catch a few underneath passes and might finish with decent totals. The sturdy Minnesota defensive line will shut down Maurice Morris early, and Matt Hasselbeck will throw a lot, with more than one TD pass, but he could also throw more than one interception. This won't be a high-scoring affair, and Deion Branch and Darrell Jackson will finish with good, but not great numbers. Start and Smile: Chester Taylor. Watch and Worry: Brad Johnson, Troy Williamson, Maurice Morris.
New England at Buffalo: The Patriots should dominate with the running game here, using multiple tight-end sets to blow Buffalo's front four off the ball. Laurence Maroney should start to rip off some long runs in the second half as the Bills' fronts even wears down, and Corey Dillon should score again. Tom Brady will stay conservative, and he might not be able to hook up with Doug Gabriel for the big play, as Gabriel draws extra attention from the Buffalo secondary. The Patriots will hone in on Willis McGahee, who will have to fight for every yard, and will be held out of the end zone. But when the Pats are focusing on the run, Lee Evans could burn them with a deep catch or two. Start and Smile: Laurence Maroney, Corey Dillon, Lee Evans. Watch and Worry: Doug Gabriel.
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay: The Eagles' passing game has been unstoppable, and Donovan McNabb will attack the Tampa Bay secondary regularly. Expect another fine outing from Reggie Brown, who should surpass the 100-yard mark and score at least once. McNabb will look to TE L.J. Smith with success in several key situations. Bruce Gradkowski will take short drops and hit Joey Galloway often, while continuing to look for TE Alex Smith near the goal line. Carnell Williams will be very busy, as the Buccaneers use the running game to try to keep the Philadelphia offense off the field as much as possible. Start and Smile: Donovan McNabb, Reggie Brown, L.J. Smith, Joey Galloway. Watch and Worry: Don't expect another good game from Michael Clayton.
Pittsburgh at Atlanta: The Falcons will get chewed up by the running game much like they were last week by the Giants. Expect a few long runs and at least one TD from Willie Parker. Ben Roethlisberger will have the pressure taken off of him, but he'll have to spread the ball around, as Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall will lock up Hines Ward often. The Falcons don't have the receivers to challenge the Pittsburgh secondary, so the Steelers' front seven won't allow Michael Vick to break free for too many prolific scrambles. It could also be a down day for Warrick Dunn, who will face extra defensive attention from a physical front seven. Start and Smile: Willie Parker. Watch and Worry: Hines Ward, Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn.
San Diego at Kansas City: The Chargers will establish the running game early behind LaDainian Tomlinson early, setting up Philip Rivers for some play-action success. Look for Rivers to spread the ball around a lot, as Eric Parker and Keenan McCardell might not be open regularly. Look for the Chargers to key on Larry Johnson early, forcing Damon Huard into many adverse passing situations. Huard will have much trouble moving the ball except when he dumps off to Johnson. In the battle between players who have often been considered the best at their positions, the Chargers' stars will play better. Tomlinson will outrush Johnson, and Antonio Gates will definitely produce better numbers than Tony Gonzalez. Start and Smile: Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates. Watch and Worry: Damon Huard, Eddie Kennison, Tony Gonzalez.
Washington at Indianapolis: The Redskins will lean heavily on Clinton Portis, who should roll up some good totals against a vulnerable Indianapolis run defense. Mark Brunell will operate a conservative passing game as the Redskins try to control time of possession. The Redskins' secondary has been a sore point this season, and the Washington front four won't be able to generate much pressure on Peyton Manning. His top receivers, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, could both have big days. Dominic Rhodes should also get some chances to score near the goal line. Santana Moss, however, could burn the Colts a few times as the Redskins try to stay close. Start and Smile: Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Dominic Rhodes, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne. Watch and Worry: You simply can't trust Brunell. New York Giants at Dallas: No defense can seemingly stop Tiki Barber, and he'll roll up more good numbers, even if he doesn't score. Eli Manning could throw more than one interception in a hotly-contested road game, but he'll make a lot of underneath completions and will look for Plaxico Burress in the red zone. Expect more than one TD pass from Manning. The Cowboys will use Julius Jones to take some pressure off Drew Bledsoe, but the Dallas QB will still take a lot of hits. He won't have the time to locate Terrell Owens often for the big play, and should connect with Terry Glenn more often when he can get rid of the ball. Start and Smile: Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress. Watch and Worry: Drew Bledsoe.
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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 10/19/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/19/06)

Friday, October 20, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Stopgap Seven: Week 7


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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 -->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.)
Marion Barber III, RB, Cowboys (NYG): He's been one of the most effective red-zone weapons this season, converting 4 of 9 chances within the 10-yard line for TDs. Dallas should move the ball effectively on Monday, so expect Barber to get a shot or two to score.
Bryant Johnson, WR, Cardinals (@OAK): In QB Matt Leinart's two starts, Johnson has 8 receptions for 99 yards and 1 TD, but more importantly, he has been targeted 16 times by Leinart. Johnson is a fine stand-in while WR Larry Fitzgerald is out.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars (@HOU): Even though he's not a starter, he's doing enough with his chances to make a decent impact when the matchup is right, with 250 scrimmage yards and 4 TDs in his last three games. He's a nice flex play this week.
Jon Kitna, QB, Lions (@NYJ): He fits the mold of the matchups QB perfectly, and if that's the case, this is a perfect matchup for his type. The Jets' defense ranks 30th in total defense (370.0/G), and should be overmatched by WRs Roy Williams and Mike Furrey.
Matt Leinart, QB, Cardinals (@OAK): If Johnson's a good play, then Leinart is too. He's the man getting the ball to Johnson (and WR Anquan Boldin and others) consistently, and he looks awfully poised for a rookie. Now, he hits the meaty part of his schedule.
Wes Welker, WR, Dolphins (GB): The switch to QB Joey Harrington has sure helped Welker, who has 15 receptions for 133 yards the past two weeks, being targeted 21 times combined. Now, Miami faces the league's bottom-ranked secondary (275.8).
Ernest Wilford, WR, Jaguars (@HOU): With WR Matt Jones (ankle) unlikely to play, Wilford steps up as the starter across from Reggie Williams. Don't be surprised if Wilford racks up surprising numbers with the Texans focusing on defending Williams. <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 7 ... Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins (@IND): This could be the game in which he finally loses his grip on the starting job, perhaps an ugly effort as he's forced to the air playing catch-up. ... Michael Vick, QB, Falcons (PIT): He's simply not getting the job done as a passer, and that Steelers defense, it can stop people on the ground. Vick's shoulder could also limit him somewhat this week. ... Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns (DEN): The Broncos have been exceptional on defense this season, and even though this is a home game for Droughns against his former team, I can't see him taking advantage at one of the tougher defenses in the league. ... Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks (MIN): He's only worthy of flex consideration if you're thin on alternatives, and even then, I'm not expecting much from him this week. Minnesota's run defense is one of the more underrated units in the league. ... Eddie Kennison, WR, Chiefs (SD): Expect the Chiefs to pound the ball on the ground this week, making Kennison much less of a factor in the offense. San Diego puts a lot of pressure on opposing QBs, which will make it tough for Damon Huard to locate him often. ... Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs (SD): Avoid Gonzalez for similar reasons to Kennison, though in Gonzalez's case, he's too important to the Chiefs as a blocker to be sent out on enough short routes to make a big statistical impact.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Jerramy Stevens, TE, Seahawks
Set to make 2006 debut in Week 7

Fantasy owners have been waiting all season for Stevens to return from a knee injury, hoping to get back one of the game's more encouraging tight ends the latter part of 2005, when he had 23 receptions for 224 yards and five touchdowns in his final seven games (postseason included). And Week 7 sure looks like it, his first game action of the regular season, though it's hardly the best of matchups for him. His injury is the type that should take some time for him to get fully comfortable, and as a result it'd probably be better for Stevens owners to leave him on their sidelines to see how he looks in his first couple of games back. Plus, a game against the Vikings isn't a favorable matchup for Stevens. Minnesota has allowed only eight receptions for 58 yards and one touchdown combined to tight ends in five games, ranking fourth-best in the league in terms of fewest fantasy points accrued by the position. Stevens will have better weeks ahead, and if his owner let him go due to his injury, he's well worth a pickup today, but for Week 7, keep him reserved and use the game to see how quickly he gets integrated back into the Seattle passing game.
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</TD><TD colSpan=5>Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Has passed for 2 TDs in each of his last 2 G; has averaged 212.8 passing yards</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>334</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>23</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Kevin Jones, RB, Lions: He's 2nd among RBs in receptions (31) and 5th in scrimmage yards (597)</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>23</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>127</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>36</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>Steve Smith, WR, Panthers: He has 67 receptions for 916 yards and 6 TDs in his last 8 G (postseason included)</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>189</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>26</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>L.J. Smith, TE, Eagles: Leads the NFL in 20+ yard catches (6), is tops in receiving yards among TEs (335)</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>48</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>10</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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Trainer's Room
? Jets WR Laveranues Coles (calf) missed a portion of Thursday's practice and remains questionable for Week 7 against the Lions. He's expected to play, though his missed time this week makes him someone to check back on a little in advance of gametime, scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday. So long as he's cleared to play, he's a must-start.
? Texans RB Ron Dayne (knee) is apparently healthy enough to play in Week 7 against the Jaguars, but the team is leaning towards holding him out anyway. RBs Wali Lundy and Samkon Gado are expected to share the workload, pushing Dayne to No. 3 on the depth chart. None of the trio is worth activating for this week regardless.
? Packers RB Ahman Green (hamstring) practiced for a second straight day on Thursday and should play in Week 7 at the Dolphins. However, the Packers do have plans to limit his workload on Sunday, which makes him a much less attractive fantasy play. Consider him only as a flex option if you're thin on alternatives.
? Eagles WR Donte' Stallworth (hamstring) missed a portion of Thursday's practice and remains questionable for Week 7 at the Buccaneers. He's unlikely to play, and even if he did, he'd be a risky play coming off such a lengthy absence. Reggie Brown remains the Eagles' best fantasy option at WR, and is the only ideal start of the bunch this week. ? 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 5 New Articles Added 10/20/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 5 New Articles Added 10/20/06)

Updated: Oct. 21, 2006
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Henry's hard work, perseverance pays off


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By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com
Archive
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Only a few days after Travis Henry had authored the best performance of his six-year NFL tenure last Sunday, the Tennessee Titans tailback phoned one evening this week to discuss the game that he feels may have resurrected his football career.
And, surprise, it wasn't last week's upset victory over the Washington Redskins, a splendid outing in which Henry rushed for a career-best 178 yards, equaled his NFL high of 32 carries and scored on a 2-yard touchdown run.
Nope, arguably the most memorable game of Henry's career, a moment he now regards as a galvanizing event, came two weeks earlier, in an Oct. 1 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
In a short span, Henry has gone from the inactive list to being the Titans' feature back.



Don't bother to check Henry's numbers from that Dallas game, because he didn't play, not a single down.
"I was in the locker room, getting taped up and getting my pads, and they came and told me I was 'down' [deactivated], and didn't have to dress," recalled Henry. "So there I was, with about 20 family members and friends who had come up [from Florida] for the game, and I'm not even going to play. First time in my career, except for injuries, a team had put me down. I hurt my ego. It hurt my pride. I was shocked, and believe me, that doesn't even start to explain my emotions. It was, like, 'Whoa, what's going on here?' On that day, I made up my mind that, when I got another chance, I would be like a man on a mission."
Elevated to the starting lineup the following week against Indianapolis -- it isn't often in the NFL a tailback goes from not playing at all to starting the next game -- Henry rushed 19 times for 123 yards in the Titans' near-upset of the Colts. His performance against the Redskins boosted his two-week output to 51 carries for 301 yards and a touchdown.
That's only 34 yards fewer than Henry gained on the ground in the entire 2005 season. And it's one more touchdown than the former University of Tennessee star scored in the 2004 and 2005 seasons combined. In four games this season, Henry has rushed for 383 yards, more than he gained in either '04 or '05.
Henry's consecutive 100-yard games are his first back-to-back century outings since late in the 2003 season, when, playing for the Buffalo Bills, he ran for 113 yards against the Giants on Nov. 30 and then completed the New York daily double by gashing the Jets for 169 yards on Dec. 7. His 4.7-yard average is 0.7 yards better than his career mark and 0.3 yards superior to his best season, when he ran for 1,438 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2002.
Because the Titans have a bye this weekend, Henry can't add to his impressive numbers until the Oct. 29 home game against the Houston Texans. He's all but counting the hours until that matchup.
"How can I not be excited?" Henry said. "I mean, I feel reborn, honestly. I feel like a rookie again, you know, with that same level of excitement. Things seem new and fresh to me again. I prayed to Jehovah for another chance, my prayers were answered, and now I'm trying to make the most of it. I'm showing people that I can tote the rock 30 times if they want me to, run for 100 yards every week, be the back I was until the last couple years. I feel like I'm on my way to being an elite back in this league again."
And, if that's the case, Henry could be on his way to becoming a wealthy back again, too.
His contract with the Titans, which pays him a minimum base salary of $585,000 this seasons, runs through the 2009 campaign, and tops out at a modest base salary of $1.034 million in the final season. But there are so-called "escalators" which could dramatically raise the salaries based on Henry's performance and, ESPN.com has learned, one key stipulation that could really boost his earning power. Henry's contract has a clause which stipulates that, if he scores one touchdown this season, the Titans owe him an $8 million bonus next spring. He has scored three touchdowns already this season, the clause has been triggered.
And so, come next spring, Tennessee management essentially has three options: Pay the $8 million bonus, renegotiate the contract or release Henry, making him an unrestricted free agent. Henry would like to stay in Tennessee, where former starter Chris Brown has become an afterthought and second-round draft pick LenDale White hasn't proved himself ready to move into the No. 1 tailback role. But venturing into the free-agent market, particularly in a spring in which the unrestricted pool is pretty thin and the 2007 draft class at tailback might be one of the shakiest in years, might not be all that bad.
"Teams always need running backs," Henry said. "So while my preference is to stay here, well, that really isn't in my control, is it? The thing I can control is how hard I work, how hard I run, how many yards I keep putting up. If I keep playing the way I've played the past two games, things will be just fine. I'll be back to where I want to be in terms of belonging among the best backs again."
If he reaches that esteemed subset, Henry will have accomplished something that many NFL observers felt was beyond him after three straight lean seasons. If there is any positive, Henry noted, it's that he got so few carries in that three-year stretch, he's now running on fresh legs.
Even before Henry moved South, in the 2005 trade that sent him from Buffalo to Tennessee, things were kind of going south in his career. The Bills invested a first-round draft choice on tailback Willis McGahee in 2003 and, even after Henry ran for 1,000-plus yards in 2002 and 2003, it was obvious by 2004 that the former University of Miami star was going to be the Buffalo starter. In '04, his final season with the Bills, Henry started just five games and gained only 326 yards.
With his new team in 2005, Henry couldn't bump Brown from the starting lineup, and then the league levied a four-game suspension against him for a repeat violation of the substance abuse policy. Henry posted a career-worst 88 carries, started just one game and failed to score a rushing touchdown for a second straight season.
Once confident in his abilities, even Henry said he began to have doubts after last season that he could pull his game together again.
"Yeah, all kinds of things float through your mind," Henry said. "I would pray and say, like, 'Why have I been forsaken like this?' I definitely brought some of the problems on myself with the suspension. There is no one to blame for that but me. And then, in the offseason, I just decided I was going to 'man up' and get back to being a good player. I worked the hardest I've ever worked in any offseason."
Staying in Nashville for nearly the entire offseason, Henry went through the Titans' conditioning program and then, having finished that session, would head over to a gym owned by former University of Tennessee teammate Will Bartholomew for a second workout. In camp, buried on the depth chart behind Brown, White and Jarrett Payton, he fought through the temptation to give up, and worked even harder.
Six weeks into the season, two weeks into being a starter again, it seems the efforts have paid handsomely. And if Henry literally is paid handsomely next spring, he'll know the day on which his comeback really began to take off.
"That day they sat me down against Dallas a few weeks ago," Henry said, "was one of the toughest and most embarrassing times ever for me. But it provided me that last little bit of motivation I needed. Every time I carry the ball now, I come back to the huddle thinking about that day, and how much it hurt personally. I don't ever want to go back to that again."

Around the league

? One way or another, it seems, Oakland owner Al Davis is determined to get some money back from suspended wide receiver Jerry Porter. When Davis granted permission this summer for Porter and agent Joel Segal to seek a trade, he made it conditional on the six-year veteran returning $4 million of the bonus he collected as part of the new contract he signed in 2005. But a trade was never completed. Now, in suspending Porter for "conduct detrimental to the team," the Raiders will seek to recover a portion of the bonus.
Porter's contract includes standard default language that permits Oakland to go after the bonus if he is unavailable to the club because of a suspension. Which, of course, he now is. The NFL Players Association has filed a grievance on Porter's behalf, as anticipated, and will argue that the four-game sanction is too harsh. Union attorneys should be able to make a pretty compelling presentation on that front. Whether they'll be able preclude the Raiders from collecting on the default clause in the contract, though, remains to be seen. In the meantime, Porter remains a guy without a team and, despite being under contract to the Raiders through next season, a player whose future is pretty murky.

? In terms of finances, veteran agent Frank Bauer has a stock line he uses when a player-client brings up money matters: "Your performance determines your future." We don't know if Bauer has used the line on his most notable coaching client, Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears, but it's certainly apropos bit of advice. The NFL's lowest-paid head coach with a salary of about $1.4 million, Smith is in the third season of a four-year contract. Having compiled a record of 22-17, taken the Bears to a division title in 2005, and with the team currently undefeated, one would think Chicago management would be eager to upgrade and extend Smith's deal. But the Bears have dragged their feet, preferring to wait until Smith compiles more of a body of work in his first head coaching gig, and the delay is almost certainly going to cost them.
With every victory, even ugly ones like the Bears managed on Monday night, Smith's price rises. If the Bears keep winning, that price tag, given the manner in which coaching salaries have spiraled upward in recent seasons, could get north of $5 million annually. Bauer sat down with team president and CEO Ted Phillips at the league meetings at Orlando in March, but there haven't been any substantive discussions in the seven months since. It's unfathomable that Chicago ownership would allow Smith to go into 2007, the final year of his contract, without an extension. But how's this for a twist: What if, as this season plays out, Smith decides to gamble and eschews all contract negotiations with the Bears? He would go into the 2007 campaign, possibly coming off a deep run into the playoffs or even a Super Bowl title in 2006, as a pending free agent. It won't come to that, because that's not the way Smith or Bauer operate, so expect an extension to be hammered out next spring. And expect it to be a big one.

<!--------------------------START PLAYER CARD------------------><TABLE class=tableheadFixWidth cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=200 align=right><TBODY><TR class=stathead><TD class=whitelink colSpan=2>Anthony McFarland</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow align=right><TD align=left>
Defensive tackle
Indianapolis Colts

Profile</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow><TD align=middle><TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=1 width=190 bgColor=#ffffff border=0><TBODY><TR class=stathead align=middle><TD align=middle colSpan=5>2006 SEASON STATISTICS</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND: #bcbcb4" align=right><TD width="17%">Tot</TD><TD width="17%">Solo</TD><TD width="17%">Ast</TD><TD width="17%">Sack</TD><TD width="17%">FF</TD></TR><TR align=right bgColor=#999999><TD>8</TD><TD>6</TD><TD>2</TD><TD>0</TD><TD>0</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE MINI-PLAYER CARD ENDS HERE--------------------->
? Seems the Indianapolis Colts had some competition this week when they acquired defensive tackle Anthony "Booger" McFarland from the Tampa Bay Bucs for a second-round choice in the 2007 draft. The Seattle Seahawks, who already have one of the deepest defensive tackle collections in the NFL but are always looking to upgrade, were also in the bidding for the eight-year veteran. Which makes sense. Once upon a time, Seattle team president Tim Ruskell was part of the Tampa Bay personnel staff that chose McFarland in the first round of the 1999 draft, and knows him well. The Seahawks, though, were not inclined to surrender the second-round choice Tampa Bay was seeking for McFarland, and so Bucs general manager Bruce Allen consummated the trade with Indianapolis instead.
It's a deal that's a bit pricey for the Colts, but given their continuing struggles to stop the run, it was one that team president Bill Polian had to complete. Actually, the trade was finished by his son, Chris Polian, the Colts' vice president of football operations, who had been working the phones hard in an attempt to land a veteran tackle. Indianapolis will pay the balance of McFarland's base salary of $4.5 million for this season, or about $2.9 million. His base salary for the remaining two seasons of his contract then jumps to $5.5 million for 2007 and $6.85 million for 2008. Those are pretty big swallows, so expect Colts officials, who really didn't have time to address contract issues as the clock moved toward Tuesday's 4 p.m. trade deadline, to approach McFarland and his agent about restructuring. Expect, too, that McFarland will ramp up his game some with his new team. There were those in Tampa who felt his production waned after Warren Sapp departed the Bucs, and those suggestions are justifiable, particularly in light of how much McFarland was being paid.
But the trade should give McFarland, who went from a team headed nowhere to a viable Super Bowl contender, with new motivation. And playing again for Tony Dungy, his head coach in Tampa Bay for the first three seasons of his career, won't hurt. Because the Colts essentially play the same Cover 2-based scheme that Dungy first introduced in Tampa, there won't be any transition period for McFarland, and he figures to be a part of the Indianapolis tackle rotation on Sunday, when the Colts play host to the Washington Redskins. The Colts, by the way, had thrown a lot of lines into the trade waters, seeking a tackle to help their run defense. And that included a very casual inquiry about Albert Haynesworth of the Tennessee Titans, who would not have been available to help anyone's defense until he finishes his league-imposed five-game suspension.

? One veteran Tampa Bay defender who was on the trade block last week, but wasn't dealt, is cornerback Brian Kelly. But just because the ninth-year pro is still with the Bucs doesn't mean his future in Tampa Bay is secure. Fact is, it's anything but, and it's hard to imagine Kelly, one of the most underrated corners in the league, back with the Bucs in 2007. Kelly, who has missed three games this season because of a degenerative condition in a toe, probably needs surgery, and will likely finish the season on injured reserve. The fact he is currently viewed around the NFL as damaged goods was one factor in him not being traded. Tampa Bay management is aware that Kelly wants his contract upgraded and, having awarded fellow cornerback Ronde Barber an extension this summer, isn't of a mind to do a deal.
Perhaps the wise thing for Kelly to do is have the surgery now, begin his rehabilitation, then wait for the Bucs to determine that to do with him. If he's not released, he'll be healthy again for 2007, and ready to prove to the Tampa Bay coaches that he's capable of regaining his past form. If the Bucs do release him in the spring, and his toe is no longer an issue, Kelly will attract attention as a free agent. As we've noted in this space in the past, only about a zillion times, teams are always looking for cornerbacks.

? Washington coach Joe Gibbs (dare we actually use the term beleaguered to describe the Hall of Fame sideline boss?) reiterated this week that there are no current plans to bench slumping quarterback Mark Brunell. But we're picking up whispers from reliable sources that the Redskins are moving closer to readying third-year veteran Jason Campbell to take over the starting spot. "Sooner rather than later," one source suggested this week. There has been a suspicion that, if the Redskins fell out of playoff contention, Gibbs might start preparing for the future at quarterback. Even if that future might not include Gibbs, who is now 19-21 in his second incarnation as the Redskins' coach and could opt for retirement if Washington doesn't rally and salvage this season.
Of course, defining "out of playoff contention" is a tricky deal. Even if Washington loses at Indianapolis on Sunday, and falls to 2-5, one could still argue the Redskins aren't entirely out of the postseason chase. At some point, however, the Redskins have to make a decision on Campbell and his future. And at some point, it seems, the future must translate into the now. Washington made a big investment to land Campbell with the 25th overall selection in the 2005 draft. The Redskins traded three draft choices that year to Denver to acquire an extra first-round slot because they had fallen so hard for Campbell and his enormous physical potential. But the former Auburn star hasn't yet thrown a regular-season pass, and it's hard to develop your game running the scout team every week. Brunell fooled his critics in 2005 by fashioning a terrific comeback season. But the 14-year veteran looks old and slow and, at times, indecisive. He might not have another comeback in him at this point in his career. Which could mean the Campbell Era actually commences in the next month or so.

? Speaking of the Redskins, was there any doubt that owner Dan Snyder, who's made a habit out of overpaying for underachieving players, would jump out and sign Troy Vincent after the 15th-year veteran defensive back was released by Buffalo last week? Vincent and his representatives spoke about how his biggest priority was to sign with a legitimate playoff contender. The Redskins might not qualify, at least not the way they're playing right now, but there's little doubt Snyder offered Vincent more money than anyone else.
No one figured Vincent would get much more than a one-year, minimum contract, but Snyder signed him to a three-year deal. And what do the Redskins get in return? Well, maybe a decent nickel defensive back, although a lot of people in the league feel Vincent is in decline and won't be much help to the Washington secondary. There are also people who joked this week that Washington is the perfect place for Vincent, who is president of the NFL Players Association and viewed in some quarters as one of the league's consummate politicians.

<!--------------------------START PLAYER CARD------------------><TABLE class=tableheadFixWidth cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=200 align=right><TBODY><TR class=stathead><TD class=whitelink colSpan=2>Leonard Little</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow align=right><TD align=left>
Defensive end
St. Louis Rams

Profile</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow><TD align=middle><TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=1 width=190 bgColor=#ffffff border=0><TBODY><TR class=stathead align=middle><TD align=middle colSpan=5>2006 SEASON STATISTICS</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND: #bcbcb4" align=right><TD width="17%">Tot</TD><TD width="17%">Solo</TD><TD width="17%">Ast</TD><TD width="17%">Sack</TD><TD width="17%">FF</TD></TR><TR align=right bgColor=#999999><TD>21</TD><TD>19</TD><TD>2</TD><TD>5</TD><TD>3</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE MINI-PLAYER CARD ENDS HERE--------------------->
? After signing linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa to a five-year extension last week, St. Louis rookie coach Scott Linehan noted that veteran defensive end Leonard Little was the next target of Rams management for a possible contract add-on. Toward that end, the Rams huddled Monday with Little's agent, Chad Speck, and made no progress at all toward an extension. Little is in the final season of his contract, earning a base salary of $3.8 million, and is eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring.
"I think that both sides understand we're very far apart," Speck told ESPN.com. "Given the gap, I think my position is that I'll wait for them to come to me now [for any further discussions]."
A ninth-year veteran, Little is the Rams' best upfield pass rusher, and has rung up 66 career sacks, including three seasons of 10-plus. But there have been off-field problems, multiple DUI arrests, and league sanctions, and those are going to be a factor in negotiations. Plus, Little turned 32 this week, and some St. Louis officials are more than a little wary of his age. Rams officials apprised Speck that, absent a contract extension, they will use the franchise tag to keep Little from bolting after this season. Whether that's posturing or not, well, Speck and Little are willing to sit back and find out. "We'll consider our options when it happens," Speck said.

? While second-year linebacker and 2005 defensive rookie of the year Shawne Merriman continues to get most of the attention on the top-rated San Diego defense, fellow linebacker Shaun Phillips actually has more sacks. With six sacks, third-year veteran Phillips leads Merriman by one-half sack, and as the "other" half of the Chargers' fierce outside pass rush, the former Purdue star is creating all kinds of matchup problems for opponents' offensive coordinators. It took a tragedy, the shooting of linebacker Steve Foley, to get Phillips onto the field full time. But the onetime situational rusher, who notched 11 sacks in part-time duty over the first two seasons of his career, is certainly making the most of his opportunity.
"He might not be quite as explosive with his first step [as Merriman] is, but he is a natural rusher, no doubt," said Baltimore Ravens' star left tackle Jonathan Ogden. "Everyone concentrates on Merriman, but you'd better pay some attention to that other guy, too."
It's hard to understand how Phillips dropped into the fourth round of the 2004 draft, where the Chargers' personnel department was smart enough to toss out a safety net and stop his plummet. After all, Phillips had 14? sacks his senior season at Purdue, and 33? sacks during his college career. Sure, he was a hybrid defender, but there are enough 3-4 teams now, the defensive scheme for which Phillips is best suited, that someone should have snatched him up earlier. One scout went back and checked for us this week, and noted that Phillips had run in the 4.7s in his auditions before the 2004 draft.
"But still, looking back, he was a pure rusher and shouldn't have lasted [into the fourth round]," the scout agreed. "He has what I call 'sack knack,' you know, just that innate ability to get around the corner and close on the passer. He's long and rangy, long arms, and uses his hands pretty good. A lot of people missed on him."

? Jim Fassel was canned this week as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens by head coach and longtime buddy Brian Billick, who will now call the plays himself. No matter the personal opinions of Fassel, the numbers rung up by the Baltimore offense during his tenure were not impressive, and made Billick's decision to fire him a justifiable one. In 22 games under Fassel's stewardship, the Baltimore offense scored two or fewer touchdowns 18 times. It managed one touchdown or less in 14 of those 22 games. Just twice did the Ravens score more than three offensive touchdowns on Fassel's watch. That said, the Ravens haven't historically been a whole lot better under Billick's guidance in general. Billick was head coach for 96 games before Fassel arrived, and the Ravens' offense scored two touchdowns or less in 68 of those outings. During Billick's entire tenure, 118 games, Baltimore has tallied two touchdowns or less on offense in 86 outings, or 72.9 percent of the time.

? University of Georgia defensive end Quentin Moses, who went into the season rated either as the No. 1 or No. 2 senior prospect at his position by most NFL personnel chiefs, is having a miserable season, and his poor production and lack of effort has not escaped the notice of league talent evaluators. Moses has 21 tackles, including seven tackles for losses, but just one sack. He posted a team-high 11? sacks in 2005, which helped boost him up most early lists for the 2007 draft. But beyond his pedestrian numbers, scouts feel that Moses' lax play is what is most glaring, and some personnel people have suggested it's almost as if he is trying not to get hurt, to protect his draft interests. Said a college scouting director from an NFC franchise that would like to find a young, developing pass rusher in next year's draft: "He plays for the 'Dawgs, but he's playing like a dog right now. Somebody needs to light a fire under his ass."

? In case anyone cares, former Carolina and Seattle right offensive tackle Chris Terry was removed from the NFL's suspended list this week, and is technically eligible to resume his once-promising career. It's doubtful, though, even as much as teams always need tackles, that Terry will ever return. A second-round choice of the Panthers in the 1999 draft, he experienced off-field problems with multiple spousal abuse incidents, and was released by Carolina, where he had been a starter for three-plus years, during the 2002 season.
The Seahawks claimed Terry on waivers and he became their starter late in 2002, prompting the team to award him a five-year, $19 million contract following the season. After signing the contract, though, Terry appeared in just 18 more games before the Seahawks, weary of his various off-field issues, released him in March 2005. Terry has been serving a suspension for a violation of the NFL personal conduct policy and is said to have undergone extensive counseling during his hiatus from the league. But he's 31 now, and not even a r?sum? that includes 80 career starts is apt to be tempting to even the most tackle-needy team.

? Given the conspiracy-theorist climate in which we live, when a player leaves an NFL team for "personal reasons," as Carolina Panthers veteran cornerback Reggie Howard did on Thursday, it creates all kinds of suspicions over the reasons for the departure. We're not about to breach any confidences here, but suffice it to say, there is nothing sinister about Howard's decision to leave the team. It was, indeed, for personal, family-related reasons that Howard felt he needed his immediate attention back home in Memphis. Was the seven-year veteran frustrated by his status as the No. 4 cornerback, behind starters Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas, and rookie Richard Marshall? Absolutely. Angry at being used only on special teams of late? For sure. But those were not contributing factors to Howard leaving the team.

? League owners will meet on Tuesday in New Orleans and, while the agenda will focus primarily on business issues, there is one interesting proposal from the competition committee that could change the NFL's trading habits. The committee is kicking around the idea of creating a February window, of either one or two weeks, during which trades could be consummated before the start of the March free agency period. As things currently stand, a moratorium is in effect from the time of the trade deadline in October until the start of the new "league year," in March.
The proposal for some sort of February trade period, commencing a week or so after the Super Bowl and ending a week or two before the start of free agency, would allow teams to shop veteran players under contract, but who don't fit into their plans for the following season. As we've noted here before, the volume of trades has increased dramatically over the past three years, and this appears to be an effort to fuel the trading spree even more. The only item on which owners are scheduled to actually vote during the one-day meeting in New Orleans is on the proposal for playing regular-season games overseas. There is some support for playing two games, not just one, in a foreign venue.

The list: No one should have been overly surprised when Arizona coach Dennis Green fired offensive coordinator Keith Rowen the day after the Cardinals' ignoble collapse last Monday night. Green is only in his third season with the franchise and already is working on his third offensive coordinator, Mike Kruczek, and his third offensive line coach now. In less than three seasons, Green has now dumped seven position coaches. The roll call, alphabetically, of Cardinals assistant coaches whose heads have rolled: Robert Ford (wide receivers), Everett Lindsay (offensive line), Kevin O'Dea (special teams), "Deek" Pollard (defensive line), Rowen (offensive coordinator), Alex Wood (offensive coordinator), and Bob Wylie (offensive line).

Stat of the week: Having absorbed a career-worst seven body slams last week, Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick has now been sacked 160 times in his career on 1,619 "dropbacks." That's an average of one sack every 10.1 "dropbacks." In contrast, Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, who was never mistaken for a roadrunner during a storied career, was sacked 271 times on 8,629 "dropbacks." Once every 31.8 "dropbacks." So much for Vick's elusiveness in the pocket, huh? In his 56 regular-season starts, Vick has been sacked three or more times in 29 games. That includes seven games in which he was sacked five or more times.

Punts: Detroit Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, suspended this week for four games for violating the NFL's steroids and related substances policy, will use the time off to rehabilitate from knee surgery. Slowed by a balky right knee that had limited his work in practice, Rogers had an arthroscopic procedure this week that he hopes will reduce the discomfort he has experienced all season. ? Talk about silly. The Detroit defensive linemen have now adopted the ill-conceived plan used by offensive linemen in Denver and Atlanta, the one where they don't speak to the media. Instead, they designate a spokesman for the unit every week. Hey, guys, that's really worked out well for the linemen in Atlanta and Denver, who don't get voted to the Pro Bowl or All-Pro teams because no one knows who they are. The Lions' defensive linemen might want to think about whether their silence really is golden. ? Houston first-year coach Gary Kubiak appears to be ready to make another change at tailback in an effort to boost the NFL's worst rushing offense. Ron Dayne, who started the past three games, probably won't even dress for this Sunday's home contest with Jacksonville. It appears that rookie Wali Lundy and second-year veteran Sam Gado, acquired from Green Bay in a trade last month, will handle the running chores. ? The emergence of second-year cornerback Eric Green, who had quite a coming-out party for the Cardinals last Monday night, has really given Arizona a terrific, physical secondary. Strong safety Adrian Wilson, often touted in this space, is already a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Cornerback Antrel Rolle will be a good one, too. But Green, who had three vicious tackles and three pass breakups on Monday, is a nasty guy who is starting to garner plenty of attention, too. ? Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin has 299 receptions in the first 46 games of his career and is a lock to set the record as the fastest player in league history to 300 catches. Lionel Taylor of Denver is the current record holder, having taken 54 games to notch 300 catches. ? Note to all those Notre Dame fans worried about the NFL calling on coach Charlie Weis: There is a huge difference between "feelers" to a coach and legitimate interest. Seems that Weis, who last season signed a 10-year contract with the Irish, had the ol' propaganda/posturing machine working overtime this week. ? Looks like maybe Philadelphia officials knew what they were doing in delaying any contract extension talks for strong safety Michael Lewis, who can become an unrestricted free agent next spring. The fifth-year veteran, a starter since the second half of his rookie season, is really struggling in coverage this season and allowed two touchdown passes this week. Lewis hasn't been demoted from the starting lineup, but he will split time with Sean Considine this week. Even defensive coordinator Jim Johnson acknowledged this week that Lewis has lost confidence in himself.
The last word: "It's obvious that we're officiating contact on the quarterback different than we did 20 years ago. But this is a different day and age and, if we're going to lean, we're going to lean on the side of protecting the quarterback. ? The question has been put to the competition committee, and question has been put to the clubs, and what we're doing is basically following their guidelines to protect [quarterbacks]. It's an area of the game that involves judgment and involves safety, and we'll live with the judgments that are made by our referees." -- NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, discussing the dubious roughing-the-passer call on Cincinnati defensive end Justin Smith last week, a penalty that kept alive Tampa Bay's late, game-winning drive.
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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 10/20/06)

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Oct. 21, 2006
Carroll: Leftwich, Fitzgerald updates


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By Will Carroll
ESPN.com

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In Week 7, no player is healthy. NFL players take car-crash level collisions over and over, in games and practice. Even with a week between games, there's not enough time to recover completely. Players don't decline at the same rates however; some recover quickly, some avoid the biggest, most damaging collisions, while others degrade before our eyes. One guy I've been watching is Michael Vick. His style and the offense run by the Falcons seem to be exposing him to more big hits this year than in the past and he's feeling it. There are lots of other players around the league like this, guys who are taking on more of a role, taking more carries or catches, and their ability to stay or return to effectiveness will go a long way towards determining if they're stars or burnouts. Health is a skill, one that some players simply don't possess and other realize can fade. If you don't think Tiki Barber is thinking about this when he discusses retirement, you're fooling yourself. (Of course, if you note that his agent is also looking for a contract extension, you're cynical but smart.) Speed, smarts, hands, quickness -- the list of skills that we look for in football players includes this, but has to start with health.
Let's get to the injuries. <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]Will chatted on Friday afternoon. Check out his answers to your questions!
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Byron Leftwich is today's big story, showing up with an ankle problem. Yes, it's the same ankle that was broken last season. Could this be related? Sure, but it's not likely. The story on how this happened hasn't come out yet, but it's serious enough that the team sent him for an MRI. Leftwich is going to be a game-time decision and between now and then, he's going to move into the training room. Leftwich has a history of being able to play at a high level despite pain. He's immobile when healthy, so it's not like he's going to be limited further by the injury. Be sure to have a backup at the ready, perhaps even David Garrard. I'll be sure to get the scoop in time for this Sunday's last minute Med Check.
I'm sure you heard this last night on "The Fantasy Show" but Larry Fitzgerald is out for the Raiders game. Despite his desire to play, his physical ability doesn't match up. The Grade II strain of his hamstring will not only keep him out this week, it's likely to keep him out of the bigger fantasy game with Green Bay a week later. That means that Fitzgerald likely won't be back until after the bye week, giving him the four weeks off that I expected. This isn't a Steve Smith situation. While a significant strain, the Cards did a great job in making sure that the injury didn't get worse. Keeping him out until he's fully healthy is the smart play for a team that's beginning to realize that they're not a contender. Fitzgerald is too important a component of the next winning Cards team to risk him on a fading season.
Despite all the prayers that fantasy owners are sending to Seattle, Shaun Alexander is still at least two weeks away. While the bone in his foot is healing, it is reported that there is still a visible non-union in the bone. Until that is completely healed and in-line, Alexander won't be able to even get on the field. Don't be fooled by his own self-reporting; Alexander feels good, but the absence of pain isn't a good indicator of function. The worst part is that we have nothing to go on. In the 10 years my database holds, no running back has this same injury. If fantasy football is about managing risk and finding value, the great unknown is your enemy. Look for Alexander to be back to practice in two weeks. Even then, I'd watch closely, even letting him play one game to get a better gauge on his abilities and limitations. If someone's willing to give you similar upside when trying to buy low on Alexander, let them.
The Bears defense can single-handedly win games, but word around their facility is that they're worried. Mike Brown is the "real center of the defense," one source told me, not Brian Urlacher, and his loss to a torn ligament in his foot could be devastating. The stats back up Lovie Smith's fears; the defense hasn't been dominating without Brown on the field. In fact, you could describe it as ordinary without him. Brown is a solid cover guy, but is also one of a new class of human heat-seeking missles in the defensive backfield. As effective as they can be, they also tend to hit so hard that they take a lot of punishment themselves. Brown has yet to show that health is a skill he owns. It might be time to think about "selling high" on the Bears defense despite their record points pace.
Reports from Philly have Donte' Stallworth getting closer to a return. How close? He's being included in the game plan, according to one team source. While he's yet to fully participate in practice, Stallworth has been amping up his running and doing drills, leading to some speculation that he could take on a limited roll, perhaps serving as a decoy. Hank Baskett is the better fantasy play, even with Stallworth in the lineup. Baskett's big body is a good match for the Philly passing game even with Stallworth back. Be careful with the Eagles offense. We already know that Brian Westbrook is a risky back with his chronic knee problems (though it's a very positive sign how he came out of the turf game), but the entire offense aside from Donovan McNabb appears to be set up as a spread-the-wealth system, good for reality but bad for fantasy. Remember, pay for consistency and opportunity.
Ever ask yourself "what more can go wrong?" only to figure out that there is that one more thing and it just ruins your day? Someone in Oakland made that mistake. With everything going against them already, now the Raiders are dealing with an injury to one of their few fantasy options. LaMont Jordan missed practice on Wednesday with a lower back problem, but returned on Thursday. No report by deadline on his Friday action, but with Justin Fargas still dealing with shoulder issues, the Raiders can't afford for Jordan to be limited at all. Back injuries can be anywhere on the continuum between nothing and career-ending. This looks to be very minor unless it's allowed to escalate.
Noah Herron established himself as a solid option while Ahman Green was out, but the Packers know that he's not a workhorse back. Will he take some carries away from Green when he comes back this week from the hamstring strain? Sure, but don't think of this as a negative for Green. He's been banged up a lot and 20-25 carries might keep him healthier this season than 30. Where Herron does take value away is in points per reception leagues. Green's no longer a must-start back, but he can still be a solid No. 2.
Here's a good use for the time missed for a substance suspension -- knee surgery. Lions DT Shaun Rogers had his knee scoped to clear up some minor damage that he'd been playing through for most of the year. He'll be back and ready to go by the time his suspension lapses. Rogers was suspended for a non-steroid supplement, one that his agent has said was in an over the counter product. While this is normally a fairly flimsy excuse, several people I spoke with in the supplement industry think it's possible. "Maybe a thiamine derivative," said Justin Londergan, the editor of Mind & Muscle Magazine. Without access to the complete list of banned substances, it's impossible to tell exactly what substance might have led to the ban and thus, the plausibility of the excuse. Athletes are responsible for what they put in their body and with the NFL's "approved supplements" policy, there's no excuse for having to use this excuse. Paired with the toe problem that will keep Shaun Cody out at least another week, the Lions are way down on the defensive front. Add in a banged up secondary and you can see why Chad Pennington is a must-start this week.
Trent Green has cleared his head enough to go to a Motley Crue concert. I'm not sure if his taste in music should make us question the long-term effects of the concussion, so let's focus on where Green is with his return. I've long said that fantasy owners would need to start thinking about Green around Week 8 and this looks to be correct. He's been throwing the ball for a week and could be cleared for practice next week. I spoke with Dr. Vernon Williams, Director of Neurology at the Sports Concussion Institute at Centinela Freeman Hospital in Marina Del Rey, Calif., who broke down the various standards for return from concussion. Given what we know about Green's injury and his current symptomology, a return to practice seems right on schedule. Green is reported to be having no symptoms -- no headaches, loss of balance, and no amnesia -- at this stage and has passed the timetables of the Colorado and Cantu standards for concussion. I'll continue to question whether Green should come back; at 36, he's got a family and a long life ahead of him. A second concussion could be devastating. Bumps and Bruises: Miami WR Marty Booker is expected back this week. He's practicing, though not taking contact. He's likely to see limited action when he returns ... Looking for a WR pickup? Joe Jurevicius is back for the Browns and with Dennis Northcutt out, he's a better fantasy option. The big WR is owned in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues ... Igor Olshansky of the Chargers will miss a month after having his knee scoped. The DE earlier had a minor knee sprain; that laxity might have cascaded into this cartilage problem ... Roscoe Parrish is an emerging speed player. Hamstring strains affect speed players more, so watch him in the short term ... Matt Jones is likely out this week. If he does play, he'll likely be in his decoy role with the off-chance of red zone targets.
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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 10/21/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/21/06)

Updated: Oct. 23, 2006

Whispers from around the NFL


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Pro Football Weekly

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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 -->? After the Rams failed to make much progress last week in efforts to extend the contract of DE Leonard Little, it looks more likely that Little, an unrestricted free agent at season's end, is destined to receive a franchise tag late next February.
? We're hearing that Raiders offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, who had been out of coaching since 1999 before being brought back by Art Shell, is way too predictable and lacking in imagination in his play-calling. Two opposing defenders recently called Walsh's schemes "high school stuff."
<!--------------------------START PLAYER CARD------------------><TABLE class=tableheadFixWidth cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=200 align=right><TBODY><TR class=stathead><TD class=whitelink colSpan=2>Cedric Benson</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow align=right><TD align=left>
Running Back
Chicago Bears

Profile</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow><TD align=middle><TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=1 width=190 bgColor=#ffffff border=0><TBODY><TR class=stathead align=middle><TD align=middle colSpan=6>2006 SEASON STATISTICS</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND: #bcbcb4" align=right><TD width="17%">Rush</TD><TD width="17%">Yds</TD><TD width="17%">TD</TD><TD width="17%">Rec</TD><TD width="17%">Yds</TD><TD width="17%">TD</TD></TR><TR align=right bgColor=#999999><TD>47</TD><TD>148</TD><TD>2</TD><TD>3</TD><TD>22</TD><TD>0</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE MINI-PLAYER CARD ENDS HERE--------------------->? Don't be surprised to see RB Cedric Benson getting more carries earlier in games when the Bears return from their bye. In two tight games against the Vikings and Cardinals, Benson has gotten lost in the flow of the game and totaled only one carry. Meanwhile, we hear starter Thomas Jones had trouble getting to the edge and making even one defender miss vs. Arizona.
? During the bye week, Saints QB Drew Brees headed back to Birmingham, Ala., where he had offseason shoulder surgery and completed his grueling rehab. Rest easy, Saints fans, Brees says his shoulder "feels great." Brees told PFW he was in town to visit some family and "just say 'Hey' to some of those people that helped me with the shoulder."
? Sources in New Orleans tell us TE Ernie Conwell's latest knee injury, a medial meniscus tear suffered in Week 6, is to the same knee he injured Oct. 30 of last year. That knee injury sidelined Conwell for the rest of the season. Conwell had arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus tear during the Saints' bye week, and he should miss only a few games.
? We hear the toe injury that has been bothering Buccaneers CB Brian Kelly all season is similar to the injury that forced CB Deion Sanders into an early retirement. Kelly, 30, will almost certainly need surgery on the toe at some point, we're told, but the 30-year-old is holding off for now and hoping rest can heal the injury enough to let him return to the field this season. But we hear the Buccaneers are growing impatient and could decide to put Kelly on the injured-reserve list any day.
? We're told Panthers WR Steve Smith is finally healthy after suffering injuries to both hamstrings in the preseason. Sources tell us Smith has his extra gear back to sprint past defenders, and his confidence has returned.
? Panthers CB Reggie Howard has left the team for "family reasons." While details of Howard's departure have not been released, we hear he could miss the rest of the season. But we're told from an on-the-field standpoint, Howard's loss isn't a very big blow. Howard was a modest free-agent signing who was beat out by rookie Richard Marshall for the nickel CB job. Howard played mostly on special teams.
? We hear the Falcons aren't too worried about replacing starting LG Matt Lehr, who was suspended four games for violating the league's steroid policy. Our sources indicated Lehr is the weakest O-lineman of the starting five, but he does have a fan in QB Michael Vick because the two played together at Virginia Tech. Tyson Clabo, a practice-squad player last year, has taken Lehr's starting spot. We hear the Falcons have been grooming Clabo for the past two seasons to eventually replace Lehr.
? Our Niners sources believe a hamstring problem that has kept CB Shawntae Spencer from getting down in his normal crouch is primarily responsible for his shaky play so far this season. Spencer had one of the worst games of his career in Week 6 against San Diego, but we hear he remains entrenched as a starter because the drop-off in talent behind him is so severe.
? When Mike Nolan indicated last week that second-year OL Adam Snyder could possibly challenge Jonas Jennings for the starting LT job, in addition to pushing the erratic Kwame Harris at right tackle -- a potential change that's been in the making for a while now, according to our sources -- we're told the Niners' head coach was basically sending a message to Jennings, who has started only 7 of 23 games because of assorted injuries, including a wrenched right pinkie that wasn't even broken.
? There are some daily observers of the Niners who believe C Eric Heitmann has quietly played well enough so far this season to warrant Pro Bowl consideration.
? Wondering why the Seattle defense has been giving up the deep ball more frequently after seeming to fix that problem last season? We hear one reason is the free-agent departure of Marquand Manuel, who was considered a first-rate on-field communicator who almost never made assignment mistakes.
? We're told the Cardinals are excited over what the future holds for CBs Antrel Rolle and Eric Green, who had their best game as a professional tandem against the Bears, combining for six tackles and four passes defensed. Said one team insider: "I doubt very strongly that you'll find two better corners in terms of tackling."
? With fourth-round rookie Gabe Watson holding his own in a starting role, and reserve Chris Cooper proving to be just as reliable as he was in his previous stint in Seattle, we hear the Cardinals hardly feel compelled to rush back regular starting NT Kendrick Clancy from his ankle injury.
? According to our Colts sources, there was absolutely no denying the extra spring in the step of every Colt defender in practice last week after the acquisition of DT Anthony McFarland from the Bucs.
<!--------------------------START PLAYER CARD------------------><TABLE class=tableheadFixWidth cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=200 align=right><TBODY><TR class=stathead><TD class=whitelink colSpan=2>Javon Walker</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow align=right><TD align=left>
Wide Receiver
Denver Broncos

Profile</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow><TD align=middle><TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=1 width=190 bgColor=#ffffff border=0><TBODY><TR class=stathead align=middle><TD align=middle colSpan=6>2006 SEASON STATISTICS</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND: #bcbcb4" align=right><TD width="17%">Rec</TD><TD width="17%">Yds</TD><TD width="17%">TD</TD><TD width="17%">Avg</TD><TD width="17%">Long</TD><TD width="17%">YAC</TD></TR><TR align=right bgColor=#999999><TD>29</TD><TD>495</TD><TD>2</TD><TD>17.1</TD><TD>83</TD><TD>117</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE MINI-PLAYER CARD ENDS HERE--------------------->? Broncos WR Javon Walker may be looking to get even more involved in the offense, but his presence in Denver after coming off major knee surgery is earning notice around the league. "I don't know if he's all the way back (from the injury), but he looks pretty darn good to me," one AFC assistant coach told PFW. "You are definitely aware of that guy. He's a lot bigger, more physical than you might think. He's a big rascal."
? One major issue that goes under the radar with all of Jake Plummer's passing woes in Denver is how little the tight ends have been involved in the offense. Entering Week 7, Stephen Alexander and Tony Scheffler had a combined seven catches for a team that has generally had a heavy reliance on the position. Scheffler, an athletic rookie who had everyone excited in training camp, isn't separating from defenders as well as expected.
? One NFL source close to the action labeled the current situation in Oakland "as disjointed as any Raider team I've ever been around."
? While a lot is made about how they don't have a No. 1 option, the Chargers appear content with their assortment of solid No. 2-type wide receivers, especially Eric Parker, who has emerged of late and easily earned the trust of QB Philip Rivers with his sharp routes, great hands and fearless approach to going after the ball.
? Despite months of speculation, Chargers LB Donnie Edwards was not dealt before the trade deadline. But there is virtually no chance he'll be back with San Diego next season. Edwards' complaints about being underpaid (despite a $3.55 million base salary in '06) have worn thin on general manager A.J. Smith, who knows he has quality LB depth and isn't about to shell out a hefty extension for a 33-year-old linebacker.
? With SS Mike Brown on the sideline, the Bears went 4-10 in 2004 and got torched by Steve Smith in the 2005 postseason. However, we hear the Bears are a lot more confident they can weather this year's season-ending injury. They believe they have enough playmakers elsewhere on defense and enough depth in the defensive backfield to withstand this significant loss.
? The Packers are aware that they'll need their backup running backs to play a role in keeping Ahman Green healthy, but we're told Vernand Morency is firmly in the doghouse due to his propensity for putting the ball on the turf. Noah Herron remains No. 2 on the depth chart.
<!--------------------------START PLAYER CARD------------------><TABLE class=tableheadFixWidth cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=200 align=right><TBODY><TR class=stathead><TD class=whitelink colSpan=2>Ernie Sims</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow align=right><TD align=left>
Linebacker
Detroit Lions

Profile</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow><TD align=middle><TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=1 width=190 bgColor=#ffffff border=0><TBODY><TR class=stathead align=middle><TD align=middle colSpan=6>2006 SEASON STATISTICS</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND: #bcbcb4" align=right><TD width="17%">Tot</TD><TD width="17%">Ast</TD><TD width="17%">Solo</TD><TD width="17%">FF</TD><TD width="17%">Sack</TD><TD width="17%">Int</TD></TR><TR align=right bgColor=#999999><TD>58</TD><TD>42</TD><TD>16</TD><TD>0</TD><TD>0</TD><TD>0</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE MINI-PLAYER CARD ENDS HERE--------------------->? WLB Ernie Sims was seen screaming in pain due to a Week 6 elbow injury and was sent for an MRI early in the week, but the impressive rookie was back on the practice field Wednesday with a simple brace. We're told head coach Rod Marinelli gushes about the way the No. 9 overall pick handles himself, playing all out on every snap.
? Detroit may be a different team when it takes the field after its Week 8 bye. The Lions could potentially have five starters back from injury, including two on the offensive line.
? It appears WR Mike Williams is all but done in Detroit. Despite brief flashes of effort that earned him limited activity in Weeks 3 and 5, he has been otherwise deactivated on game day. We're told offensive coordinator Mike Martz and QB Jon Kitna both refused to comment on the situation last week.
? Word is Jets WR Laveranues Coles' underrated toughness is keeping him on the field as he battles a painful wrist injury that was originally hurt on the last play of the Week 4 loss to the Colts. Coles has been on the Jets' injury list with a calf injury, but we hear that's a smokescreen for his aching wrist, which will likely be a problem for the rest of the season.
? We hear that Dolphins first-round draft pick Jason Allen is still not ready to step onto the field. In fact, he may not play anything more than special teams this season. Allen has yet to make up for the time he lost during his contract holdout in training camp and had a further setback in the preseason when coach Nick Saban bounced him back and forth between safety and cornerback. For now, he's strictly learning the safety position.
? Now that C Dan Koppen has been signed to a long-term contract extension, the only other free agents of note for the Patriots are CB Asante Samuel and TE Daniel Graham. However, we hear that Samuel's and Graham's agents haven't heard much of anything from the team and there are no plans to talk about new deals any time soon.
? The Bills jumped at the chance to pick up ex-Rams DE Anthony Hargrove for a 2007 fifth-round pick, believing that they got great value for the former 2003 third-round pick, our sources tell us. Hargrove reunites with Bills DL coach Bill Kollar, who coached him into a starter who had 6.5 sacks last year in St. Louis. Buffalo believes Hargrove will help maximize the effort of all four players in the team's DE rotation.
? Browns head coach Romeo Crennel indicated that C LeCharles Bentley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first practice of training camp, might not be ready for the start of the 2007 season. Crennel said he's been told that "this is an injury that is going to take some time. It is going to be at least a year before we know anything. On that patellar tendon, the way they did the reconstruction, the flexion in the knee had to be immobilized for a while. ... Now, they are working on getting the flexion back. That is one of those things that's slow. Gradually, it comes along. He hasn't been able to run or anything like that. I can't say if it is on schedule or not. They just said it's going to be a long process."
? Bengals OL coach Paul Alexander spent Cincinnati's Week 5 bye teaching Eric Steinbach on the finer points of playing center, but Steinbach is now back at left guard after an injury to LT Levi Jones forced the Bengals to shuffle their line. Nevertheless, Alexander is intrigued by Steinbach's potential in the middle. "I think he's a wonderful guard," Alexander told PFW. "He could be just as good or better at center."
? The way we hear it, the Steelers want rookie WR Santonio Holmes to keep playing with confidence. We're told the team is downplaying Holmes' two fumbles on punts vs. Kansas City in Week 6. The Steelers are using Holmes more and more, and they do not want him doubting himself.
? Bengals LB Ahmad Brooks made his debut in the middle in Week6, and we're hearing his teammates were very impressed with his play. Brooks, who was a star middle linebacker at Virginia, notched 11 tackles filling in for Brian Simmons, who was out with a neck injury. However, a source close to the club notes that the coaching staff was more restrained with its praise of the rookie.
? The way we hear it, the Ravens are hoping CB Samari Rolle steps up his play after the bye. Rolle has been picked on by opposing offenses early this season. While Rolle has perhaps lost a little speed to age, there's a sense around the club that he's still an above-average player.
? Titans WR Brandon Jones told PFW that a lot more teams have been playing man coverage since QB Vince Young took over. "That's what you want to see (as a receiver)," Jones said. "I think (teams) think they can get away with it because of Vince (being green), but he is starting to show what he can do."
? Regarding who might replace Ernie Accorsi as Giants general manager, Accorsi told PFW last week: "They asked me my opinion. I have made my recommendations, and I am sure they will again. George Young taught me that when he was the general manager -- and I succeeded him: 'Stay out of it.' That's their decision."
? Sources in New York say the Giants really have been impressed by NT Barry Cofield, who at 303 pounds isn't ideal for the position. He has been exceedingly professional for a rookie, something head coach Tom Coughlin clearly loves, and has handled one of the toughest positions on the defense well.
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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 10/21/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/21/06)

Oct. 23, 2006, 2:30 PM
Looking ahead: Kitna, Wallace and Harrington


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each Monday afternoon, the Fantasy Scout takes an early look ahead to the coming week and beyond. We give you the early lowdown on players to watch and consider emerging trends that will affect your fantasy strategy, even before the "Monday Night Football" game!
Player Spotlight
The Lions have won only one game, and much of that can be blamed on a defense that can't seem to stop anyone. Their quarterback, Jon Kitna, however, is a curious subject. He doesn't play well enough to lead the team to victory, yet he doesn't play badly enough to be considered the team's major problem. A switch to Josh McCown or Dan Orlovsky wouldn't be an improvement at this point, and Kitna is playing well enough to keep the Lions competitive, even if they often lose in the end.
I have been calling Kitna erratic for weeks and have expected him to lose his job as the Lions search for a switch that will help their outlook. But Kitna has continued to be "good enough to lose with" for the Lions, while posting good fantasy numbers in the process. Kitna is turnover-prone and often makes questionable decisions under pressure. He throws passes into tight coverages and takes big hits while ignoring the pass rush until the last possible second. Yet, just like he did in the past with Seattle and Cincinnati, Kitna makes enough plays to keep him on the field. For what he lacks in arm strength and pure ability, Kitna tries to compensate with steely confidence and a fiery approach. And his refusal to be intimidated or listen to criticism has led to him delivering another respectable fantasy season overall. He is fifth in ESPN leagues in QB scoring, and has registered double-digit fantasy points in five consecutive games.
Kitna totaled 19 fantasy points against the Jets on Sunday, and has thrown six TD passes in his past three games. Kitna has a bye in Week 8, so you might realize that you actually miss him from your lineup. He won't lead the Lions to more than a few wins this season, but Kitna continues to play well enough to keep his job and will remain a quality fantasy starter while he does. Maybe he's not doing much in the NFL win column, but Kitna can certainly take your team to the postseason in fantasy football.
Injury Fallout
It is unclear how much time Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will miss with a knee injury, and fantasy owners should start considering how Seneca Wallace might look as a starter in his place. Wallace was erratic after replacing Hasselbeck in Sunday's loss at Minnesota. He threw two interceptions and fumbled twice, losing one. He had no run support and was pressured heavily, and missed his intended targets badly on a few occasions. But with at least a full week of work with the first-team offense, Wallace, who has played well in the preseason before, could keep the offense playing respectably, even if he won't match Hasselbeck's production. Wallace is undersized at 5-11, 196 pounds, and must use his athletic ability to move around and find open receivers.
But he can be accurate and he does throw a good deep ball when he can break the pocket and buy time to find his receivers. Wallace lacks the experience and classic build to be a regularly efficient passer. But the Seattle passing game won't necessarily sputter regularly under his guidance. Wallace will try to buy time with his feet and will continue to look for Darrell Jackson often, while not hesitating to look for Deion Branch downfield. Fortunately, Wallace has two outstanding receivers who will get open all over the field and help him. Jackson and Branch will help Wallace by catching many more underneath throws and making important possession grabs for Wallace. While Wallace won't be anything more than an adequate fantasy starter, if that, don't assume the numbers of his best two receivers will drop in a major way. Look for Jackson and Branch to step up, help Wallace keep the chains moving, and use their considerable skills to occasionally break loose for some good gains. Don't send Jackson and Branch to your bench just yet.
Preparing for Changes
We all seemed to think that Tom Brady would see his production fall without Deion Branch, and it has overall. Yet many of us got locked into thinking that the Patriots would become a two-headed rush monster, with Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney leading the way. As much as I like Maroney, though, and still expect him to become a star at some point, it's becoming more apparent that he isn't dependable yet, and Brady is going to have to find reliable options at wide receiver in order to keep opposing defenses from keying on the run game. That process evolved more on Sunday, when Brady began to use tight end Benjamin Watson more efficiently, while continuing to make Doug Gabriel his preferred big-play man.
But rookie receiver Chad Jackson, who finally appears to be healthy, is the guy who truly could become a focal point of the passing game very soon, and the Patriots haven't made it a secret that they intend to get him more involved offensively. Jackson caught a 35-yard TD pass on Sunday, and with his good size and speed, he could be primed to become a top target for Brady. The New England passing game finally might be starting to come together again, so get Jackson and Gabriel on your roster if you still can. Keep in mind that in his best years recently, Brady spread the ball well among a few targets. He appears to be on the brink of re-establishing the passing game with the trio of Jackson, Gabriel and Watson. The New England air game is about to take off again, and Brady's numbers could start to rise again in the near future, while more running room opens up for Dillon and Maroney.
Reality Strikes
While Joey Harrington did throw for 414 yards, he was intercepted three times by the Packers, and he's a risky start in any matchup. Chris Chambers caught only two passes for 29 yards and was not a factor in a matchup that was seemingly made for him to produce good numbers. Ronnie Brown was held to only 59 rushing yards. While matchups often make some players good starting choices, some players shouldn't start for you even if they do have a favorable matchup. Harrington should be used only if you are desperate, as the yardage totals didn't fully reflect how badly Harrington played for much of the day. Chambers scored a late desperation TD against the Jets the week before, but he continues to disappear on a frequent basis. You can't trust Chambers in any matchup, it seems, and you should bench him until he starts to improve. Brown has played well enough overall to keep him in the starting lineup and should add some more TDs in the weeks ahead. Wes Welker has yet to catch a TD pass, and while rookie WR Derek Hagan is showing some promise, he should be added to your roster only as a reserve. There doesn't seem to be a fully reliable fantasy starter on the Dolphins roster right now. Brown and TE Randy McMichael are providing adequate production, but after the Dolphins could manage only two offensive scores against Green Bay, it's apparent that none of their top offensive players can be relied on. Harrington and Chambers should stick to your bench unless you are desperate. Harrington would have finished with much worse numbers against a more respectable defense. His 30 points in the past two games might be the biggest illusion of all in ESPN leagues.
Scout's Notebook
? Houston's Wali Lundy rushed for 93 yards and a TD in Sunday's upset victory over Jacksonville, but his hold on the starting RB job is anything but firm. Lundy ran well as the Texans milked their lead against a surprisingly tired Jaguars defense, but it will take more than just one good outing for him to remain the primary ball carrier. Lundy is a small and quick back who isn't afraid of contact, but he lacks the strength and power of Samkon Gado, who will still get some carries. Lundy isn't elusive or cut out to be a regularly featured RB. If his play starts to slip again at any time, Gado finally could get his chance to take over the top spot on the depth chart for good. ? Keep an eye on Pittsburgh rookie WR Santonio Holmes. The Steelers really are pushing him to become much more involved in the passing game, even while he makes some mistakes. Holmes has caught seven passes for 149 yards in his past two games. The Steeler coaches certainly have been designing more plays for him in recent weeks, and he is getting more looks downfield. The Pittsburgh QBs won't hesitate to throw to him when he gets a step or two behind a defensive back.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
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Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/21/06)

What's wrong with the Seahawks?


posted: Monday, October 23, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Seattle Seahawks


I know Matt Hasselbeck was knocked from Sunday's game against the Vikings in which the Seahawks lost, so go ahead and give me the excuses, but my real concern is why are the Seahawks looking so poor on defense? This is a defense that, on paper, was expected to be better than the defense that took them to the Super Bowl last season. The addition of linebacker Julian Peterson, the maturation of Lofa Tatupu and the return of safety Ken Hamlin had the Seahawks looking to run away with the NFC West. But in their past few weeks, they have given up a lot of big plays that no one would have expected them to be giving up this year.



I am not counting them out of the NFC playoff race because it is still too early to be talking playoffs, but many people have been saying the Seahawks are a lock for the NFC West title. Now I am not sure about you guys, but you cannot win games and become dominant when you let teams run for 95-yard touchdowns against your defense. As I looked at the Seahawks' defense on that one play in particular, it looked like the defense was waiting for the next guy to make the play instead of being aggressive and swarming to the football. This is something I have noticed in recent weeks, but did not want to allude to earlier in the season, because I expected the Seahawks to correct these issues before they came to light. But now I think the time is right make notice of this issue. I recently had a chat with some Seahawks' fans who were chastising me as to the factor the 12th man plays in the Seahawks dominance in the Northwest. I use this game as an example as to why I see a team such as St. Louis Rams being capable of beating the Seahawks. Players win games, not the crowd. I give respect to the fans and credit them for being a huge factor in certain situations. But let's keep our focus on the games, the players are where it starts and stops.

Unless the Seahawks get their act together and start playing better defense, they are going to be in for a long season and potentially miss out on a potential playoff spot. Now they may be without Hasselbeck for a few weeks (pending MRI results) and will need their defense to take charge due to injuries sustained on the offensive line, Shaun Alexander and now their All-Pro quarterback. I am not counting the Seahawks out as the team to beat in the NFC West, but if they do not get their act together on defense, this division could again become wide open.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/21/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/21/06)

Bengals in AFC North driver's seat


posted: Monday, October 23, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns


What happened around the AFC North this weekend?


Cincinnati
The Bengals offense went three and out on each of their first four drives before getting into any kind of a rhythm. On the fifth drive the Bengals looked like an entirely different team and capped it off with a 16-yard touchdown to TE Reggie Kelly. They finally looked like the Bengals' offense. Cincinnati also took more vertical shots down the field, which opened running lanes for Rudi Johnson.

The Bengals have only had one game so far this year-at Pittsburgh-when they had Chad Johnson, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry all in the lineup. Next week, Henry is scheduled to come back from his two game suspension. Having these three should help aid what ails Cincinnati's passing attack. There isn't a more talented threesome in the league and with all three of these dynamic players on the field, Carson Palmer's job of finding favorable mismatches becomes much easier. After what Pittsburgh did to Atlanta through the air, don't be surprised if the Bengals' passing game blows up next week at home vs. the Falcons.

This was a big win for the Bengals, who are tied for first in the division. They could now be in the driver's seat.

Cleveland
The Browns were dominated at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against the Broncos. They couldn't run the ball or protect Charlie Frye, allowing five sacks. On defense, they allowed the Broncos to sustain long drives and dominate the time of possession. There is no way around it, Cleveland has to get better on both of their lines if they are to ever have success.

Starting CB Gary Baxter injured his left knee in the first half and it didn't look promising for a quick return. Although most of his problems have been out of Baxter's control, he no longer can be someone that Cleveland can count on. They will need to address cornerback as a higher priority than they had probably hoped in this upcoming offseason.

With Dennis Northcutt inactive, the Browns began incorporating Josh Cribbs more into their offense. They need to do more of it, even when Northcutt returns. The Browns need to build for the future and Cribbs has much more upside than the aging Northcutt. If Cribbs gets more experience and continues to grow as a player, he can become a legitimate third wide receiver by the end of the season. Cleveland will be strong at the position with Braylon Edwards as their top guy, Joe Jurevicius as an acceptable No. two, Cribbs as a third and Northcutt as their fourth-if Northcutt factors in at all for next year.

Pittsburgh
First off, Troy Polamalu was everywhere yesterday. Everywhere.

The Steelers are beginning to incorporate first round pick Santonio Holmes into their offense and he is showing big play ability both as a wide receiver and returner. It won't be long until he is Pittsburgh's full time starting wide receiver opposite Hines Ward. He still needs to work on his ball security, as his fumble on his first punt return led to an immediate Atlanta touchdown, but he has big play ability, which has sorely been lacking on the perimeter.

Ben Roethlisberger looked great. He threw accurate strikes and his arm has a lot of snap. He threw with fantastic confidence, stepping into his throws and playing fearless football. He is also showing outstanding rhythm, while he's on the same page as all of his receivers and is spreading the ball around extremely well. Roethlisberger handled the blitz extremely well. Then, in the middle of the third quarter, he took two hits to the head on the same play and was apparently knocked out. It is too early to speculate on how this will affect Roethlisberger, who has had so many obstacles to overcome since winning the Super Bowl, but he looked like the quarterback from last year before the injury. Charlie Batch looked great in relief and Pittsburgh shouldn't have any problems beating Oakland with Batch at the helm-he is one of the best backups in the league without question.

Ward also looks to be back in a big way from his hamstring issues. He was quicker and more explosive than in previous weeks, as evidenced by his 70-yard touchdown against DeAngelo Hall where he ran away from several defenders. Ward's speed doesn't look to be a problem; in his visit back home to Georgia, Ward was on fire.

The Steelers' coverage teams have been awful all year and were toasted yesterday repeatedly. The special teams in general have been poor, which is uncharacteristic for a Bill Cowher coached team and has been a major factor in Pittsburgh's 2-4 record.

One of the differences in this game was discipline. Atlanta made very few mental errors, while Pittsburgh's discipline was shaky-at best. They had far too many fumbles, self-abusive penalties and poor special teams' discipline. Pittsburgh has been getting killed in the hidden yardage department.
The defense was put in far too many difficult positions, especially early in the game, but overall, Pittsburgh's defense wasn't up to the challenge and really hasn't been most of the year. The defense has allowed far too many big plays all year. They struggle to get off the field on key third downs and haven't made enough big plays of their own. They just don't make the big stop that great defenses make or bail the team out when they need it. After that emotional and back-breaking loss, Pittsburgh's playoff aspirations are in big trouble.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
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Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/21/06)

McFarland a steal for the Colts


posted: October 23, 2006 | Print Entry

The second-round pick the Colts gave up last Tuesday for defensive tackle Anthony McFarland may have been a bargain. Where would the Colts be without him? McFarland, despite arriving midweek, started and was on the field for about 40 plays Sunday in the Colts 36-22 victory over the Redskins. Defensive tackle Montae Reagor was in a hospital because of a car accident that caused a head wound. Without McFarland, the Colts would have been severely undersized and undermanned at defensive tackle. The Colts entered the game giving up 167 rushing yards a game. They gave up 114 Sunday.

? It took until the fourth quarter of their boring 17-7 victory over the Browns for the Broncos defense to give up their second offensive touchdown of the year, an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Joe Jurevicius. The game was under control, but they have now only surrendered two touchdowns in 65 opposing offensive possessions. The Broncos limited the Browns to only 165 yards of offense. Next Sunday, though, the Broncos get the supreme test. Mike Shanahan has been stocking his defense for three years trying to stop the Indianapolis Colts. That will be the true test of the defensive improvement.
? The four-game steroid suspension of Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman really comes at a horrible time for the team. Linebacker Shaun Phillips is expected to be out four to six weeks with a calf injury. They've lost linebacker Steve Foley for the season. The only outside linebacker of note is Marques Harris or Nick Speegle, which might the Chargers move Tim Dobbins or Donnie Edwards to the outside.
? You kinda sensed injuries would be catching up to the Jacksonville defense. Once considered one of the soundest and toughest defenses in football, the Jaguars have holes. First, the season-ending losses of linebacker Mike Peterson and defensive end Reggie Hayward has taken away their speed and pass-rushing. Marcus Stroud's lingering ankle problems sidelined him Sunday and allowed the Texans to gain 131 yards on the ground with Samkon Gado as the main back. Even Texans quarterback David Carr came out of the game upright. He was sacked only once and had a 110.4 quarterback rating. ? Another key injury to follow this week involves Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour. The Patriots aren't saying how bad he's hurt, but he's hurt. Patriots safety Rodney Harrison jumped over a pile and landed on his arm while it was planted into the game. "It took a good, square shot on it," Seymour told reporters after the game. "We'll see how it feels in the morning. Obviously, I think it will be pretty sore." Seymour was already playing with a wrist injury, but this is considered more serious. The Patriots visit the Vikings next Monday.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/21/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/21/06)

Patriots quietly keep winning


posted: October 23, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: New England Patriots


Somehow, it's happening again.
The league's quietest 5-1 team ­- a team off to its second-best start since 1997 ­- is New England. The Pats are back to doing what they do. You know, winning ugly, winning with injuries, winning with contributions from unknowns and retreads. Winning, period.

Sure, those five wins have come against the Bills (twice), Jets, Dolphins, and Bengals. The Pats' lone loss was a decision at home to Denver. But that seems like a while ago, doesn't it? That was back in the "Why is Tom Brady sulking so much and how does his body language affect the team" days.

Brady and his receivers are starting to click. He threw touchdowns to both Doug Gabriel and rookie Chad Jackson on Sunday. The throw to Jackson ­- a 35-yard corner route ­- was perfect. The throw to Gabriel wasn't. Brady rolled right from the 5 and threw across his body into coverage. It had pick written all over it -- and Brady knew it -- but Gabriel came back to the ball and plucked it for a score, in the process doing what seemed unimaginable in New England early in the year: A wide receiver making a play for Brady.

But the reason why the Pats have started 5-1 isn't necessarily their offense. They had massive pass protection problems exposed for the second time this year against the Bills. And while he seems to produce at least one big play a game, rookie Laurence Maroney has gained only 67 yards on his last 26 carries. The reason why the Pats have been able to survive uneven offensive performances is because of their front seven. Yeah, J.P. Losman makes a lot of front sevens look good, but during their past three games, the Pats have allowed 71, 62 and 75 yards rushing. Those numbers have come against good backs: Rudi Johnson, Ronnie Brown and Willis McGahee.

Sure, we don't know exactly how good New England is. We'll know more the next two weeks, when the Pats play in Minnesota and host the Colts. But New England's schedule is very favorable. Games against the Bears and Jag loom large, but sandwiching those matchups are teams like the Jets, Packers, Lions, Dolphins, Texans, and Titans -- opponents just underwhelming enough that the Pats could head into January with a bye, with double-digit victories, and under the radar once again.
 
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