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

Hache Man

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

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

Monday, October 23, 2006
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</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Manning catching fire


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By Scouts, Inc.


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<TABLE class=text11 cellSpacing=4 cellPadding=0 width=552 border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width="100%">Why To Watch
This should be a tough NFC East divisional game, with these two teams playing for second place in the division on Monday night. If the Giants can get a win on the road against the Cowboys, they could easily be 6-2 at the midway point of the season, as their next two games are against weaker opponents. A victory would give them three divisional wins and a huge advantage in any tie breaking scenario.
The Cowboys need a win at home, as the next three games are on the road. The Cowboys are 1-1 in the division and a win would help them keep pace with the Eagles and give them a leg up on the Giants.


When the Giants have the ball
Rushing: The Giants' offensive line is doing a good job of opening up running lanes and giving the Giants' running backs creases to run through. The line is also doing an excellent job of allowing the fewest negative rushing plays in the NFL. Establishing the run early in games should help take some pressure off Eli Manning.
Tiki Barber is coming off a career game vs. the Falcons, rushing for 185 yards on 26 carries. Fellow running back Brandon Jacobs is finally getting a chance to contribute to the offense and has done a solid job of running the football. The Giants are averaging 151 yards a game, placing them tied with Dallas for fourth in the NFL in rushing.
The Giants will have trouble running the ball inside on the Cowboys' 3-4 defense, because of the presence of nose tackle Jason Ferguson. Ferguson cannot be blocked by one blocker and will require a constant double team, potentially freeing up inside linebackers Bradie James and Akin Ayodele.
The Cowboys are giving up less than four yards on first down and will need to stop the run early in the game, forcing Manning to throw. This game will be a good test for both teams, as the Giants run the ball extremely well and the Cowboys are only giving up 67 yards a game.

Passing: Eli Manning has struggled passing the ball early in games and has been part of the problem for the Giants slow start to games. Manning was a dismal 6-of-12 for 60 yards in the first half against the Falcons, with two interceptions and no touchdowns. The Giants' coaching staff needs to find ways for him to improve those numbers, perhaps with a quick, controlled passing attack like they use in two-minute situations where Manning excels.
With Tiki Barber running the ball so well, this should set up play action pass that will hold the Cowboys' linebackers and let the Giants' receivers get open behind them on dig routes. Jeremy Shockey is finally back from the ankle injury that has hampered him this year. He was Manning's favorite target vs. the Falcons and caught a touchdown pass.
The Cowboys need to get a good jam on the Giants' receivers and disrupt Shockey at the line of scrimmage. Cowboy's defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will need to mix in his coverages to help take away the run and provide good coverage on the Giants' receivers. Do not look for Zimmer to bring pressure with dogs or blitzes, as Manning is completing 67 percent of his passes with five touchdowns when teams try to blitz him.

When the Cowboys have the ball
Rushing: The Cowboys want to establish the run, as it will keep the pressure off quarterback Drew Bledsoe and will keep the Giants' offense off the field. Julius Jones and Marion Barber are becoming a good one-two punch, with Barber being the tougher of the two and able to grind out the tough yards. Both backs are averaging over four yards per carry.
The Cowboys like to use the wham play, which is an inside trap they will use on Giants' tackles Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield, who are aggressive at getting upfield. These two players will have to recognize the formation the wham comes out of and be ready to spill any blocks to the linebackers.
The Giants had down a nice job of stopping the run up until the Falcons game, and it was really one long run that hurt their rushing defensive stats. Robbins and Cofield will need to do a good job of holding up the Cowboys' center and guards, and keeping them off Giants' linebackers Brandon Short and <A href="http://sports-att.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?playerId=2842" a Antonia Pierce<>.

Passing: The Cowboys' pass offense revolves around one person -- quarterback
Drew Bledsoe. If the Cowboys' offensive line can give him time, Bledsoe can find his receivers. Bledsoe is averaging just over 200 yards a game, with an average completion of 5.9 yards per pass attempt.
The Cowboys will use play action to get the ball down the field with two- or three-man routes, keeping in a back or tight end to help on the pass rush. Terry Glenn is still Bledsoe's favorite target with 25 catches for 337 yards, and three touchdowns. Terrell Owens is getting better and was able to catch three touchdowns vs. the Texans. Giants' defensive coordinator Tim Lewis has done a good job of getting his players ready to play these last two weeks, and he has a big challenge this week. Lewis will look to the Eagles game for ideas on how to frustrate the Cowboys' passing game. The Giants will play more man to man coverage, with safety help over the top of Glenn and Owens. This will let the Giants' pass rush work the Cowboys offensive line to get pressure on Bledsoe. Lewis will mix in some corner blitzes and all out pressure to test the Cowboys' pass protection.

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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)

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Monday, October 23, 2006
Take 2: Giants vs. Cowboys


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By Scouts, Inc.


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Earlier this week, our scouts filed their advance scouting report on this week's matchup between the Giants and Cowboys. Now they're back with a second look.

The Cowboys are tied for fourth in the league in rushing (with the Giants), averaging close to 152 yards per game. They need to get that same kind of production out of their backs this week against a good Giants' run defense.
The Cowboys interior offensive linemen need to come off the ball and get a good push on Giants DTs Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins, while working up to the second level to get MLB Antonio Pierce, who has been flying around and making plays in the run game.
The Cowboys are a downhill guard-to-guard, inside running team, and need to win inside if they are going to have any success running the ball. The inside running game this week might be better suited for Marion Barber than Julius Jones, as Barber is a tough inside runner who can move the pile.
? In the past few weeks, the Giants have found their pass rush and it could not have come at a worse time for Drew Bledsoe and the Cowboys. The Cowboys' offensive line will need to protect Bledsoe from the Giants' front four of Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Robbins and Cofield, who can all rush the passer.
They also must be prepared for the Giants' blitz package that will bring pressure up the middle in the A-gaps. Bledsoe is only completing 56 percent of his passes when teams blitz him, and he has a tendency to throw interceptions when under duress.
? The Cowboys must run the football on first and second down, and if they have to pass, they should utilize the short to medium passing game to get the ball out of Bledsoe's hand quickly before the rush gets to him. This will get the Cowboys into third and short or medium, an area the Giants' defense is having trouble with.
The Cowboys are converting on 42.7 percent of third downs, while the Giants' defense is allowing opposing teams to convert on 50 percent of third downs. Bledsoe has been completing 63 percent of his passes on third down, with three sacks and three interceptions.
? The Giants are the second best offense the Cowboys' defense will have faced this season (Eagles), and it will be a good challenge for them. First, the Cowboys need to stop the running game of the Giants because Tiki Barber is having a great year.
The Giants are averaging 151 yards per game, while the Cowboys' defense is giving up only 67 yards per game. The Cowboys' 3-4 defense will create problems for the Giants and should not give Barber too many running lanes to run through. They need to stop the Giants' running game on first down and get them into long-yardage situations. Eli Manning is only competing 56 percent of his passes on third down, while the Giants' offense is converting 42 percent of their third downs.
? Manning is having a great year and has looked more comfortable in the pocket than he did last year. He has done a great job of bringing his team back in the second half of games. It has been in the first half of games that Manning and the offense has struggled.
It is always important to start fast and finish strong, but Manning has been starting slowly. In the first quarter, he is completing only 46 percent of his passes with one touchdown compared to four interceptions. The Giants need to hand the ball off to Barber and give Manning some easy short throws until he gets in rhythm.
? The Giants' defense has stepped up its level of play since coming out of the bye with a solid pass rush, and good coverage downfield has led the Giants to move up in total defense the last two weeks. They will need to balance taking away the run with providing safety help on Cowboys' receivers Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens.
The Giants need to keep playing man coverage, which their corners are more suited to play, than the soft zone they were playing earlier in the season. Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis will need to mix in a two-deep zone with some two-deep man coverages that will force Bledsoe to hold the ball, letting the rush get to him.
? Hopefully for the Cowboys, the Giants will not take a page out of the Eagles' game plan and come with some all out pressure up the middle, but do not count on it. The NFL is a copycat league and look for Lewis to bring pressure up the middle with a zone dog and all out blitzes.
He needs to keep Bledsoe off balance and force him to make poor decisions with the ball. His corners will have to keep the Cowboys' receivers in front of them and not give up the big play down the field.

Special Teams
With these two teams evenly matched in a lot of areas, the game could come down to field position and special teams. The Cowboys have the edge in punting with Mat McBriar. McBriar has a net punt average of 41.8 yards, with seven punts inside the opponents' 20 yard line. He has had 14 punts of over 50 yards. The Giants are only averaging 5.6 yards per punt return, but have only had nine opportunities to return punts, which could explain their lack of return yardage.

Matchups
? Dallas WR Terrell Owens vs. New York CB Corey Webster
? Dallas LOT Flozell Adams vs. New York DE Osi Umenyiora
? Dallas RB Julius Jones vs. New York MLB Antonio Pierce
? Dallas SS Roy Williams vs New York TE Jeremy Shockey
? Dallas QB Drew Bledsoe vs. New York pass rush

Scouts' Edge
This game is going to come down to field position, turnovers and who gives up the least big plays. The Cowboys' defense has always given Eli Manning problems and this year should be no exception. It will be up to the Cowboys' defense to slow down the Giants' running game and force Manning into long-yardage passing situations. This game will be a challenge for both teams. If the Giants can find a way to win on the road, they will be back in the hunt for the division title.

Prediction: Cowboys 24, Giants 20

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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)

All Sunday games


posted: Monday, October 23, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


I like the big scoring weeks, like this one and Week 6, better than Week 5. This is different than saying a Broncos or Ravens game is boring (and when they play each other, look out, it really is). Why? Well, when fantasy games are 55-50, like Week 5, kickers and Hank Baskett decide things. I'd prefer to have 110-107 games, like this week. More fun. And more realistic.

Nothing wrong with defensive battles in real life, but in fantasy, gimme the points.
OK, without further ado, the week in fantasy football with one game to go.
Buccaneers 23, Eagles 21: OK, the way things have gone with Philly teams the last few years -- OK, for 23 years -- the fact that Matt Bryant hit the kick didn't really surprise me. I know Bryant's career best was 50 yards. Earlier in the game Bryant nailed a 44-yarder, which seemed improbable since he hadn't hit any of his three previous kicks from more than 40. His season long was 28. So it makes perfect sense that he'd convert a 62-yarder. Seems like a long one, right? Um, yeah, the league record is 63. Matt Bryant. MATT BRYANT!
MVP: Philly's big 1-2 combination of Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook were tremendous, but give the running back the nod for honors. It's quite an accomplishment to top 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game, which Westbrook hadn't done before. McNabb gets credit for a 52-yard scoring pass in the final minute, but in reality, it was a screen pass that the running back broke. McNabb entered the week with 150 fantasy points, a 49-point lead on the next guy (Marc Bulger). He just extended the lead.
LVP: So much for that Bruce Gradkowski momentum, though he probably wasn't a real popular play this week. What about Joey Galloway? How many wide receivers have been as inconsistent as this guy? In three games this season he's had zero or one reception. He also has a 9-catch, 161-yard day and another game with 110 yards and a score. Odd.
Interesting: Tampa Bay wasn't exactly a scoring machine entering the game, and they added no offensive touchdowns here. So Bryant entered the day ranked 33rd in fantasy points. That's right, two Colts kickers were ahead of him, and nearly two Falcons. So if there was an unlikely fantasy hero, it was one owned in 1.9 percent of leagues. Even with the six byes, he wasn't owned. But he kicked a 62-yarder. Of course.
Falcons 41, Steelers 38 (OT): Tremendous offensive game with nearly 900 yards between the teams. So much for Pittsburgh being able to contain Michael Vick. Would you have guessed there would be nine touchdown passes and two receivers would haul in three each? Nah, me neither. Kudos to the Falcons for pulling out the win. Apparently the absence of Joey Porter was pretty important this week, after all. And the fact Vick aimed to throw more. Could've warned us, not that it would have mattered. Who would have believed this?
MVP: Ben Roethlisberger was well on his way, with another accurate performance. He threw three touchdown passes, then got his bell rung and got carted off the field. So we must present Vick with the honors. How unlikely was this? Vick had thrown three touchdown passes in five games, and none in the last three. So naturally, against the world champs, known for defense, he adds four more. Don't tell me you saw it coming. You didn't. Hopefully Roethlisberger can play next week, because he's playing well.
LVP: It's hardly an "I told you so" statement but the reason I waited to include Willie Parker in the Power Rankings (see Wednesday's blog) was exactly for this reason. Big game, defense primed to stop him, and he runs 20 times for 47 yards and fails to catch a pass. Warrick Dunn wasn't much better, really, but at least he scored.
Interesting: Hines Ward and Alge Crumpler each caught three touchdowns. Crumpler hadn't scored since opening week, and Ward entered the game with two scores. Stick with your top players, this is another example. Even when they lose their shoes, they can perform in socks.
Patriots 28, Bills 6: I had given up on the Bills already, but I did expect them to at least put up a fight at home. They didn't. I'm not giving up on Willis McGahee, but this is discouraging. Two field goals? At home? And they outgained the Pats. Not good at all.
MVP: Not a lot of yards from Corey Dillon, but he got the important ones, scoring on two touchdown runs in the first quarter, and neither was a gimme (eight and 12 yards). I didn't think Laurence Maroney was a particularly good play, and 29 yards later it appears that was wise. Of course, had he scored on that kickoff return, rather than take it 74 yards, it would have been a better day!
LVP: Lee Evans caught one pass. The first time he faced the Patriots, he had two. Not good at all, though in fairness, Evans came real close to scoring a touchdown in this game. But he didn't.
Interesting: Doug Gabriel caught a Tom Brady touchdown pass, reminding fantasy owners that he could be the No. 1 option, but it's also possible that deep threat Chad Jackson, the rookie from Florida, could be that guy long term. Jackson entered the game with four receptions, and left with five. But it was a 35-yard score.
Bengals 17, Panthers 14: Not a bad statistical effort for either quarterback, as Carson Palmer bounced back with 240 yards and two scores, and Jake Delhomme did about the same thing. But was either guy really all that good? Doesn't matter, they got fantasy owners 17 and 15 points.
MVP: Steve Smith might just win his game's award each week. Another eight receptions, 126 yards. Of course, T.J. Houshmandzadeh reached the same fantasy total with half the yards, but a touchdown.
LVP: The Bengals managed to give 26 carries to their workhorse running back, but the Panthers weren't as kind to DeShaun Foster. He averaged more yards per carry than Rudi Johnson, but had 42 fewer yards. Johnson delivered a 101-yard effort, and the 10-12 touches Chris Perry were promised didn't happen. Two rushes, three receptions.
Interesting: The wind couldn't have been much fun to play in, but Palmer has failed to get his team 20 points in the last three games. This isn't Daunte Culpepper being immobile or hurting, but that's two more sacks, and Palmer's nearly at last year's total.
Chiefs 30, Chargers 27: An impressive game for a few Chiefs who weren't exactly in good graces for fantasy owners. Larry Johnson ran for only 62 yards the previous two weeks, but more than doubled that total and scored twice. Forgotten tight end Tony Gonzalez caught a 57-yarder early in the game, and finished with 138 yards. His season total for yards entering the game was 187. And Damon Huard either will lose the starting job next week or next season, we still can't tell from these Trent Green rumors, but he threw two touchdown passes on fantasy benches. Huge win for the home team, while the road team's vaunted defense got shredded.
MVP: Let's give the love to Gonzalez, who had been doing nothing for fantasy owners. LaDainian Tomlinson was again a star, throwing a touchdown pass, catching one and totaling nearly as many yards as Johnson, but nobody would have sat these running backs. I know people who were giving up on Gonzo.
LVP: Nobody really. I'm not pleased that Michael Turner was again an afterthought, because I was forced to play him in one league, but that's my fault for not having more depth (and drafting Shaun Alexander and Domanick Davis in that June draft with my first two picks).
Interesting: In some leagues, like one I am in, a missed extra point can really cost a fantasy owner (minus 10 points in that league). Lawrence Tynes ultimately won the game with a 53-yard field goal, but hit the upright and missed a one-pointer. Entering the game only three extra points had been missed this season (Indy, Minnesota, Jets). Stick with Tynes, he's normally worth it.
Packers 34, Dolphins 24: I picked correctly on this one, figuring the struggling road team at least had the pieces in place to knock off the brutal home team. Of course, nobody expected that if one of the quarterbacks would throw for 414 yards it would be Joey Harrington. And he still lost. Daunte, just take the rest of the season off and heal for 2007. Your team is officially toast.
MVP: Dan Marino never threw as many as 62 passes in a regular season game, but Harrington did it. This is why stats can be misleading. Quarterbacks don't often throw for 414 yards unless they're trailing by a lot. Exactly. Don't get too excited about Harrington in fantasy.
LVP: Three options here. The Packers are the easiest team to throw on, sure, but Ronnie Brown has now played seven games, and in three of them he had more receiving yards than rushing yards. That's not good. Chris Chambers was invisible again, netting 29 yards. I say he's tied with Greg Jennings, a very popular play this week, who caught only one pass for 14 yards. At least Brown got double digit fantasy points.
Interesting: Favre was efficient in getting two touchdowns and zero interceptions, with Donald Driver scoring, but the Packer star was Ahman Green, who came back after a few missed weeks to rush for 118 yards and break a 70-yarder for a score. His previous long rush was 14 yards. Good for those people who waited on him, and activated him.
Jets 31, Lions 24: The Lions rarely win, so maybe people aren't noticing, but Jon Kitna entered the day tied for fifth among quarterbacks (with Rex Grossman, by the way) and had another good day. Kevin Jones was ninth among running backs, and he had another good day. And Roy Williams was seventh for wide receivers, and yes, well, at least he scored. And the team lost. Again.
MVP: I'd like to say I'm sold on Leon Washington, but it's hard to tell if he's finally become an every week back. Washington got 20 carries, Kevan Barlow 12, and they combined for three touchdowns. Washington did the real heavy lifting, though, and now has a pair of 100-yard games in three weeks. He should be the main guy. Next week at Cleveland, I'd play him. I remain intrigued at just how consistent the underwhelming Barlow is; with his 49 yards here, he raised his season best for the second straight week, and still has yet to reach 50 yards rushing in a game, despite scoring five times! His longest run of the year is 11 yards, in the opener. Ugh.
LVP: Not much really, though Laveranues Coles was expected to do big things, but Justin McCareins scored the touchdown (his first of the year) and Jerricho Cotchery got the yards.
Interesting: Mike Furrey is always going to be capable of a game like this, with 109 yards and a touchdown, but in fantasy it merely buys him more weeks as a misleading fantasy play. In five of the first six games, he scored in only one of those games, and never topped 82 yards. Be careful.
Texans 27, Jaguars 7: C'mon, how does a defense that good get punctured by an offense that bad? How does dog house entrant Wali Lundy, only playing because Ron Dayne wasn't, rush for 93 yards and a touchdown. David Carr doesn't get picked, and is sacked only once? Horrible. Not sure I'll rely on the Jags again anytime soon. Of course, they go to Philly next week. Not sure how I feel about that.
MVP: Carr threw a pair of touchdown passes, but I can't imagine he was a real popular play, since the last time Jacksonville played it shut out the Jets 41-0. And Lundy was playing more by default than anything else, and if fantasy owners were going to choose a Houston running back, it was going to be Samkon Gado, the announced starter. Andre Johnson gets the nod with another 100-yard day and a score.
LVP: There were conflicting reports about Byron Leftwich on Sunday morning, but I didn't care, I called him a definite sit an hour before game time. Leftwich threw for 125 yards, which is horrible considering the opponent. However, I did expect big things from the Jags' running backs. Fred Taylor did fine, getting 84 yards, Maurice Jones-Drew did little, but at least he scored.
Interesting: Houston ran for 34 yards last week, and no Texans back had topped 60 yards in a game this season. So, of course, the backup running back, really the No. 3 back, does it Sunday. I still wouldn't start Lundy next week unless desperate.
Broncos 17, Browns 7: The big news out of Denver for this one was about Jake Plummer, with reports that Jay Cutler could see playing time in this game, and ultimately get more and more and take over the starting job. Plummer wasn't real good in beating the Browns, but this was the most passes he had attempted, the most completed, but his worst completion percentage. Still, we didn't see Cutler. And we won't the next two weeks with the Colts and Steelers coming. Where do these rumors come from anyway?
MVP: It's time for fantasy owners to stop whining about Tatum Bell. No, he hasn't had that really big game yet. But he ran for 115 yards in this one, the third time he topped 100 yards, and more importantly, he never lets you down. In every game he's reached 69 yards or more.
LVP: Look, the Broncos had allowed one touchdown all season. Why would you have played Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and Reuben Droughns? None topped three fantasy points. This might have been a shutout had Plummer not gotten picked off in the fourth quarter in his own territory.
Interesting: Don't read into who Plummer threw his touchdown pass to. Rookie Brandon Marshall hadn't caught a pass all season. Javon Walker (107 yards) and Rod Smith (69 yards) are still the main guys. Also interesting is Joe Jurevicius, who just seems to score a lot, doesn't he?
Colts 36, Redskins 22: I was stunned that the game was close at halftime, but then Peyton Manning stopped messing around and tossed three third-quarter touchdowns. Why was Mark Brunell still in the game late? I don't know. Maybe Joe Gibbs does. Washington his the bye week at 2-5, and I'll bet Brunell remains the starter when they resume, but should he? Even in trash time Sunday, I would've liked to have seen Jason Campbell play a bit. Why does this matter in fantasy? Well, it will affect Clinton Portis and Santana Moss.
MVP: Manning was very efficient and pretty much toying with the Redskins in the third quarter, and both his main wide receivers scored and ended up with nearly 200 yards. No worries here.
LVP: While Moss did little, it was Portis who was advertised as a terrific play against a defense that hasn't been able to stop the run. Maybe having a Booger to man the line makes all the difference. That's Anthony McFarland (known as Booger), by the way. Portis had his worst game of the season.
Interesting: Indy is likely to keep this running back partnership while they're winning, but Joseph Addai looked much better than Dominic Rhodes, who ran for two yards per carry. Addai nearly reached 100 yards on fewer rushes.
Raiders 22, Cardinals 9: I didn't think it was going out on much of a limb to predict the Raiders would win this one, but I do admit to being surprised at how they did it. Matt Leinart looked very good against the Bears, but couldn't find the end zone against the Raiders? Yuck. I had Leinart outside the top 10 this week at the position, but still, he should have been better.
MVP: OK, this is the third straight week Randy Moss has done something noteworthy in fantasy, and this was his best week. It could have been much better, since he had a few drops as well. He's now scored in three of the last four weeks. Andrew Walter, for those watching, also had his best game.
LVP: Neither running back did anything. Well, LaMont Jordan literally did nothing, because he didn't play. That was the main warning on Sunday morning's Fantasy Focus, even though he was listed as probable. Doesn't it seem odd the Raiders would list him as active, but then not play him? Anyway, what was Edgerrin James listed at? How about the biggest bust of the season, but in what seemed a fortuitous matchup, he keeps busting you.
Interesting: In five games, Jordan topped 71 yards only one time. He probably could have done real well in this game, as Justin Fargas ran for 66 yards and Zack Crockett added 44 more on only eight carries.
Vikings 31, Seahawks 13: This one was tied at the half and ultimately turned on the Matt Hasselbeck knee injury early in the second half, so if you had Seattle winning, don't feel bad, the injury changed the game. Think about it, how many teams could win with Seneca Wallace at quarterback and Maurice Morris running the ball? The teams that lost Super Bowls this decade often stunk the next season, but a good reason why was injuries. Why? I don't know. Bad luck. But give the Vikings credit, even though one touchdown was on a 95-yarder and the backup running back threw another touchdown. It all counts.
MVP: Chester Taylor now owns the longest run in Vikings history, and hey, it all counts. Taylor might have had an otherwise ordinary day, since he ran for 74 yards on his other 25 carries, but, who's counting. Taylor hadn't scored since Week 1, and this was his best fantasy game of the year.
LVP: How badly do Seahawks fans want Alexander back? Morris goes for 49 yards on 17 carries, and that's with a 27-yarder. Hey, it's still more than Edge managed.
Interesting: Darrell Jackson caught a 72-yarder from Hasselbeck, but if Seattle's top quarterback has to miss games, that has to affect Jackson and the other wide receivers. What a shame for Jackson owners. More info on Hasselbeck in the next day or two. OK, best of luck in the Monday night game. I have at least two or three leagues riding on Monday results, but hey, I'd be watching anyway.
 

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.
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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 10/22/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/22/06)

Oct. 23, 2006
Engel: Week 7 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 seventh week of the NFL season, complete with in-depth fantasy analysis.
Silent Cats: The Texans usually seem like a good team to exploit for fantasy points, but that simply wasn't the case in their surprising rout of the Jaguars. Houston controlled time of possession (33:30 to 26:30) and executed a methodical, yet effective, offensive attack.<!--##FRONTSTOP##--> Byron Leftwich tried to play through an ankle injury, and was mostly ineffective, with only 14 completions for 125 yards. Reggie Williams was a non-factor (no catches, one rush for eight yards), and while Maurice Jones-Drew scored on a one-yard run, he totaled only 68 yards from scrimmage. It was a surprisingly limp performance by the Jacksonville offense. The Jaguars need a fully healthy Leftwich to open the offense up, because the team has often been conservative in the past with backup David Garrard at the controls. Leftwich's passes clearly lacked the normal zip and accuracy. If he continues to battle injury problems or plays at less than full health, the Jaguars' offense will continue to sputter and the defense will spend too much time on the field.
Tony Gonzalez re-appears: Many of us had given up on Gonzalez to the point where I was getting questions asking if he should be benched in favor of less accomplished types like Alex Smith and Benjamin Watson. But instead of leaving Gonzalez in to block, the Chiefs finally turned him loose in a classic AFC West shootout with the Chargers. Gonzalez caught six passes for 138 yards, with a long catch of 57 yards. But Gonzalez did not score and still has only one TD catch this year. Gonzalez showed his fantasy owners he can still be a key part of the Chiefs' offense and remains capable of busting out with a big performance at any time. Most players at tight end aren't reliable for regularly outstanding numbers. So there should be more quiet outings for Gonzalez in the weeks ahead. But he could post good numbers at any time, especially in divisional matchups, which often tend to be high-scoring. Don't depend on Gonzalez for regularly above-average production based on one game, but don't cut him loose or give up on him, either. Build your team around running backs and wide receivers, and look to Gonzalez for the occasionally good outing as a welcome bonus.
Starry Steel: Just when he seemed to be in top playing form again, Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out of Sunday's game at Atlanta in the third quarter. He had thrown three TD passes and was not intercepted, displaying his classic confidence, poise and accuracy. Charlie Batch, however, continued to throw well after Roethlisberger left the game in the third quarter, throwing for 195 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. Hines Ward proved he is fully healthy and a must-start fantasy player again, catching eight passes for 171 yards and three TDs. Rookie Santonio Holmes finished with 91 receiving yards, and Nate Washington and Heath Miller both caught scoring passes. Whether Roethlisberger can return to the lineup for Pittsburgh's next game or not, it's clear the passing game is finally starting to click again. Willie Parker was held to 47 rushing yards, but look for more good performances ahead, as the revived air game will open up a lot of running room for Parker. Ward is healthy, Holmes is getting more looks, and Washington has become dependable. Look forward to more good numbers from the Pittsburgh QBs, don't bench Ward, and keep your eye on Holmes and Washington for more improvements.
Vick's breakthrough game? We have been waiting a long time to see such impressive totals from Michael Vick. He threw a career-best four TD passes in an unlikely shootout with the Steelers. Three of his scoring passes went to his favorite target, TE Alge Crumpler. Although he was intercepted twice and held to a ho-hum 40 rushing yards, Vick's totals against a usually impressive defense demand we stand up and take notice. And that's just what opposing defensive coordinators will do. They'll respect Vick's throwing arm, and should give extra attention to Crumpler until Atlanta's wide receivers prove they can make as many important plays as Crumpler. That won't happen any time soon, and Vick will see different looks in the weeks ahead, and his outstanding success might be short-lived. Congratulations to all the Vick owners who benefited from his outing, but I'd be surprised to see him match that TD total again this year. He has only one good pass-catcher, and until his receiving corps improves, you won't see another three or four-TD pass game from Vick in a long time.
Leon is for real: He might not be able to carry 25 times per game. He might have to share some carries with Kevan Barlow. But Leon Washington has clearly emerged as the Jets' No. 1 RB, and he will continue to get 15-plus carries per game, because there isn't a more talented RB on the New York roster. Until this week, Washington had seemed like a risky flex option, as he could break the occasional long run, and his one 100-yard game had come in garbage time in a loss to the Jaguars. But Washington erased any doubts that he will make the most of every carry in a win over the Lions. He rushed for 129 yards and scored twice, including a five-yard run that indicated the Jets will be willing to use him in the red zone at times. Washington is not only speedy, he is very strong for a smaller RB and can break tackles. He is looking like a lock as a flex player and bye week replacement, especially when the matchup is right.
Ahman Green reborn? The Packers' top RB entered Sunday's game without any major concerns about his health for the first time in recent memory. And when he ripped off a 70-yard run in the fourth quarter, Green appeared to make a statement that he can still be the explosive runner the Packers want and need to support Brett Favre. But I'm not about to suddenly buy into any Green rebirth. While a bye week rest appears to have done him some good, Green still looked like a shell of his past self for most of the day, gaining some tough yards, but rarely making tacklers miss like he used to do a few years ago. You can't take away Green's one long run. But I'll need more than one long TD jaunt against a tired, overrated defense to convince me Green is an every-week starter again. I hope he stays healthy, but I still believe his best years are behind him.
Chester Taylor busts out: There should be no doubt that Minnesota's No. 1 RB is a fine fantasy RB after a stellar performance against Seattle. Until this week, a scrappy Seahawks front seven had defused most opposing runners. But Taylor was not to be denied, in his most determined effort of the season. Taylor kept breaking tackles and shaking off defenders, turning seemingly negative runs into positive gains on several occasions. Eventually, Taylor wore the Seahawks down and delivered the message that he has arrived as one of the better RBs in fantasy football. His 95-yard scoring run in the third quarter was the centerpiece of his clear breakthrough performance. Taylor finished with 169 yards on 26 carries, as he continually frustrated the Seattle front seven. Taylor is a must-start player who seems to be getting better as the season goes along.
Sinking Seahawks? Seattle is already without Shaun Alexander, now it seems they have lost Matt Hasselbeck, arguably one of the best QBs in the NFC. Maurice Morris has been mostly ineffective as a replacement for Alexander. Backup QB Seneca Wallace has looked good in the preseason before, but was an instant bust after replacing Hasselbeck. He threw two interceptions and lost a fumble which turned into a Minnesota TD. Wallace overthrew his receivers and wasn't accurate at all. The once-mighty Seattle offense is on very shaky ground. Fantasy owners can only hope Alexander returns soon, because he can certainly take some pressure off the young, but often confident Wallace. If Hasselbeck doesn't miss a considerable period of time, he'll still get the ball to Darrell Jackson and Deion Branch often. But without both Hasselbeck and Alexander, the Seahawks might not be much more potent than the Raiders offensively.
Cardinal hangover: We thought the Cardinals might come out fired up to blow through the winless Raiders after their unforgettable collapse against Chicago. But the gloom lingered for Arizona, and even affected Matt Leinart, who was pressured often, threw no TDs, and was intercepted twice. With no threat of a running game, the Raiders came after the rookie QB very aggressively, and limited his time to locate his best receivers. Not even the usually-hapless Raiders, who seem to be weekly sacrifices for opposing running backs, were a good matchup for Edgerrin James. He finished with only 34 rushing yards, with a long run of nine yards. Until the Cardinals can find a way to breathe at least a little life into the ground game, or Larry Fitzgerald returns, opposing defenses can simply focus on containing the Leinart/Anquan Boldin connection. With little support other than Boldin, Leinart will struggle at times behind a shaky offensive line, without a real running game. He might have shocked the Bears early last Monday, but he hasn't been effective overall in the last six quarters he has played. Leinart should continue to improve if the Cardinals can make their offense less predictable around him. Changes soon in Indy? Dominic Rhodes ended up with more carries than Joseph Addai (13 to 11) in Sunday's win over Washington. But Addai received many more important touches and was on the field for long stretches when the Colts were in the midst of building their lead. Addai outrushed Rhodes, 85 yards to 26. He looked very good at times, picking his holes quickly and making tacklers miss. Addai challenged the Washington defense enough to help Peyton Manning open up the passing game more. It's not overwhelmingly obvious in the boxscore, but it's apparent the Colts are gaining more confidence in their rookie RB, and he could take over the starting job 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 2 New Articles Added 10/22/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/22/06)

Oct. 23, 2006, 12:01 PM
FFL: Chat Wrap


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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 -->Douglas Columbus Ohio: Would a s. jackson for carson trade be a good move with only kitna on my roster now, portis and jordan are my other backs. thanks
Scott Engel: (11:01 AM ET ) Good morning everyone!
I think Kitna is good enough for you to win with, while you can't depend on Jordan and need to keep Jackson - don't make the deal
Steve - Fincastle, Virginia: Can we expect Daunte Culpepper back anytime soon or is Joey Harrinton entrenched as the Dophins QB?
Scott Engel: (11:02 AM ET ) I wouldn't expect Culpepper back anytime soon, and I would be careful about when you use Harrington
Matt (Tiger Town, MI): Whats the status of Big Ben, I finlly got a good week out of a QB and would love to have one healthy for once.
Scott Engel: (11:03 AM ET ) Nothing for sure yet. It's too early to tell. Most injuries aren't clear by Monday morning.
marc (DC): How hurt is Greg Jennings? Also is Jacksonville's Defense a safe bet for the rest of the year? Thanks a ton!
Scott Engel: (11:05 AM ET ) Too eraly to tell on Jennings, as it's only the morning after. Jax's D is obvioulsy not safe - they are up and down
Brian (Rochester, NH): When is Chad Johnson going to play like we all know he can?
Scott Engel: (11:06 AM ET ) When the line starts giving Palmer better protection. That might take a few more weeks
Bill, Pittsburgh: I'm shopping for WR because I'm really hurting at the position. I have some offers for one of my RBs. In what order do you like these guys for the rest of the year Driver, Glenn, Coles or Chad Johnson. Thanks
Scott Engel: (11:07 AM ET ) Coles, CJ, Glenn, Driver - Coles has been th emost dependable overall so far, so don't overlook that fact
Jason (Orlando): Why can't the Dolphins seem to get Chambers the ball? He faced double coverage as the no.1 WR all last year and still put up big numbers. Is it time to bench him?
Scott Engel: (11:09 AM ET ) He did not put up big numbers consistently last year - he inflated his final numbers with some big late games - you should rotate him in and out of the lineup depending on the matchup
Chris (Franklin Park, NJ): Hi Scott: Too early to tell for Hassleback too? Thanks
Scott Engel: (11:10 AM ET ) Yes - you won't get much answers on a Monday morning on injuries, especially in a case like Hasselbeck, when he hasn't even been tested yet. Rumors have said two or more weeks, but those re completely unconfirmed
Luke (Nashville): Scott Chester Taylor or Portis the rest of the year? Thanks
Scott Engel: (11:11 AM ET ) I would stick with Portis when he is healthy and if he avoids injuries
Mark (Philly, PA): Is there any hope for Edge? I drafted him in the 2nd round thinking I got good value. Amazingly he does not even seem like a top 20 back now. Maybe the schedule gets better or Minnesota trades Zona Hutchinson?
Scott Engel: (11:13 AM ET ) Hutchinson has a seven-year deal. No dice. And if Edge can't run on the Raiders, I see little hope for him the rest of the way
Matt (Detroit Rock City): What kind of QB do you think I could get with Ronnie Brown as bait, Palmer maybe? Right now I'm stuck with Big Ben, Carr and Brunell
Scott Engel: (11:15 AM ET ) You can't target a specific player in trade - target a specific team or two in your league that has a clear RB need and has good QB depth that appeals to you - the guy who has Palmer may not need a RB, so scout other rosters instead of just thinking about who you might want. You have to identify a compatible trade partner, not just a player
Jesse (Boston): What was up with Jordan yesterday?
Scott Engel: (11:16 AM ET ) His back tightened up on him in pregame warmups, even though he was not inactive
GC (West Hartford, CT): WIth the Skins at 2-5, do you think there is a chance they will eventually shut down Portis? I do not want to be left with one of my best backs on the bench come playoff time. Should I trade him if this is the case?
Scott Engel: (11:17 AM ET ) I wouldn't create worries where there aren't any - there is no word of that happening
Kyle (Ardmore, PA): If someone were to tell me Vick would throw for 4 TDs against Pitt then I would have asked them what they were smoking. Is Vick now more than a matchups guy? How would you rank him compared to Delhomme & Leinart.
Scott Engel: (11:19 AM ET ) I think defenses will now respect him more as a thrower and pay more attention to Crumpler. Vick's other receivers won't get the job done, and he will still eb up and down. I think Delhomme will be more dpendable and Vick and Leinart might perform on a similar level the rest of the way
Sam (STL): Scott! My league is in uproar. Managers are calling a trade that moved Ronnie Brown, Delhomme, and A. Bryant for Holt and S. Alexander unfair and want it overturned. I thinks its a fair trade. Your thoughts?
Scott Engel: (11:20 AM ET ) If Alexander was healthy, it would be unfair, but it's not. I'm with you.
GM (TX): Just traded S. Moss and R. Bush for Maroney and J. Horn. Good Deal?
Scott Engel: (11:22 AM ET ) I think Bush and Maroney will perofrm evenly, and Moss and Horn are both not dependable - I don't think either side made out clearly better
Kyle (MD): I desperately need a QB and have offered Boldin, Maroney, and Trent Green (cleared to practice now) for Bulger and K. Johnson. Fair trade?
Scott Engel: (11:24 AM ET ) I think if you can afford to part with Boldin, and the other team could use Maroney, it's certainly fair
Jay, TN: Wali Lundy, resurgence in Houston for the rest of the year, or still a committe with Gado and Dayne?
Scott Engel: (11:25 AM ET ) Dayne is out of the picture - but Lundy has to sustain the success, or Gado could pass him soon
Keith, Philly: What kind of WR receiver can I look for when dealing Leon Washington? Randy Moss, Berrian?
Scott Engel: (11:27 AM ET ) One outstanding game won't get you Berrian - maybe Moss, though. See which other teams have RB needs and who they have - just don't target who you want - making a deal is about findinga team that has the need for what you are offering
dan (Minn): Is phillip rivers surpassing tom brady as a weekly play now or should I make the determination on who starts based on matchups? Thanks
Scott Engel: (11:28 AM ET ) Right now, I'd go with Rivers, but Brady could start to play very wella gain as Chad Jackson improves
Rob(Revere,MA): Is hines ward for real again or is Atlanta just that bad of a pass defense?
Scott Engel: (11:30 AM ET ) That was a statement game for Ward. he is clearly healthy now, and looking like a must-start player again
Joe C (Rocktown, NJ): Will Jamal Lewis ever play like he did a few years ago?
Scott Engel: (11:30 AM ET ) No - his line isn't as good, and he doesn't run with the same authority and busrt anymore
Tim (Indy): Smart move to pick up Lundy and trade him while his value is high?
Scott Engel: (11:32 AM ET ) I don't think his value is too high yet - it will take more than one game. Everyone else in your league could be thinking about getting him off waivers, too.
Bill(Mass): I got offered Bledsoe and D. Jackson for Brees and Moulds. My WR's now are Walker, Wayne, Glenn and Mould's and my QB is McNabb(yet to have his bye). What do you think?
Scott Engel: (11:33 AM ET ) I think Brees will be more dependable than Bledsoe, and your WR crew is strong enough - just make sure you get a good one-week sub for McNabb
Chris (Philadelphia): Will Grossman get me Tatum Bell?
Scott Engel: (11:34 AM ET ) Maybe not after his awful performance against the Cards - but if he rebounds next week, his trade value should rise again
Lloyd (PA): Peyton Manning is my team's QB and I dropped my back-up Carr to pick up Joe Horn. So now I have no back-up QB. I was thinking of picking up Vince Young in the hopes that at the end of the season, if Manning is sitting, than I would have a descent QB to use. The only other QB I would want would be Huard or Green. Do you think Young will produce in the future?
Scott Engel: (11:36 AM ET ) I don't think you should be depending ona rookie QB in the weeks of your fantasy playoffs - you should get Carr back or get both Huard and Green
Philip, TX: I've been offered a trade where I give up Javon Walker and get Chad Johnson, should I take it?
Scott Engel: (11:37 AM ET ) I think Johnson will eventually score more, so I would do it
Jon(Ossian, IN): I was offered Grossman for Green. Good Trade?
Scott Engel: (11:39 AM ET ) If its Trent Green, yes - you have no health worries with Grossman - but it might not be deemed fair by your league, because no one knows if and when Green will return
Nate (NJ): What can we expect from Branch with Hasselbeck out?
Scott Engel: (11:40 AM ET ) He'll catch more balls and make less big plays as the passing game becomes miore conservative
Jordan (NY): Drop Big Ben (I have Delhomme) for a bye-week TE (for Cooley) or play without a TE? I have no one else to drop as my worst bench players are Jennings and Maroney and Delhomme is off next week.
Scott Engel: (11:42 AM ET ) Never leave yourself with an open lineup spot - drop Roethlisberger then just get the next-best one-week sub for Delhomme the following week
Mike, Atlanta: Drop SEA DEF and pickup MINN? With Hasslebeck and Alexander out I don't see how they can move the ball.
Scott Engel: (11:43 AM ET ) I think Wallace can be steady enough in regular play, but Minnesota has a stronger line and will play in lower-scoring games
jerod Texas: Where was Maroney yesterday? I was expecting a big day.
Scott Engel: (11:44 AM ET ) He's struggling with his inside running - I think sharing carries is huring him, as he needs regular work to get into a rhythm
Tim (NJ): What was the deal with Galloway? Did he get shut down or injury? Is just a match-ups guy?
Scott Engel: (11:45 AM ET ) Not every receiver has a good game every week. B epatient with Galloway and he will rebound.
Tony (NJ): Whos a better keeper, Leinart or Rivers? I currently start Bulger and want to tarde one of my backups.
Scott Engel: (11:46 AM ET ) I like Rivers better because he will be more dependable in the shorter term. You could start Rivers now or later with great confidence. Leinart might be less consistent
Greg (Lansdale): How reliable is Dunn for the remainder of the season- his O-line keeps dropping. Trade him while his stock is high or ride the wave??
Scott Engel: (11:48 AM ET ) I have no real issue with the way Dunn is performing. Keep him and don't mess with success
Eric NYC: Should I just give up on Ruben Droughns, yesterday was painful to watch...
Scott Engel: (11:48 AM ET ) I would bench him until he starts to look like he is in better health, but I would not cut him
Tim (Indy): I just traded Brady and F. Taylor for Plummer and Rudi Johnson. I am now banking on Grossman, but I thought this deal made sense for me. Was I right?
Scott Engel: (11:50 AM ET ) I think Rudi should score more than Taylor, so eventually, the deal will work out in your favor as long as Grossman stays healthy
Matt,MPLS : Doesn't Dunn peter out in the second half of the season? His last three years second half stats are dismal compared to his first half stats.
Scott Engel: (11:52 AM ET ) That's a valid point, as he is a smaller back. But every year is different, and I wouldn't trade a guy on past numerical trends. I'm sure the Falcons are aware of it and will use Jerious Norwood to keep him fresh
Tim (Towson): Hey Scott. Since Week 1, my QB rotisserie (Warner, Pennington, Brunell, Leinart) has gotten me no more than 1 touchdown each week. I'm planning on starting Leinart this week (@GB) and then Losman the next few (GB, @IND, @HOU) until Trent Green hopefully returns. Is this a plan that can win, or am I better off trading for a top-10 QB?
Scott Engel: (11:54 AM ET ) I don't think you need a top QB - just a dependable one - trading for a Brees or Rivers should ease your concerns
Julie (Petoskey, MI): I don't mind Brad Johnson's schedule during playoff time (except Chicago) - but gotta get to the playoffs! Only have Johnson and Gradkowski - should I off Gradkowski and pick up Huard or Frye to use for a few weeks? I know - sad QBs!
Scott Engel: (11:55 AM ET ) No matter who Johnson plays, he will be conservative - I'd cut Johnson and get Huard and rotate him with Gradkowski
Paul (Mpls): Do you see Alexander coming back in wk8/9 and providing a great second half? I'm still in the top 8 (playoffs) of my league and think I could wind up with the championship
Scott Engel: (11:56 AM ET ) It all depends on how much more quickly his foot heals - we won't know for at least another week
Paul (Mpls): Should I drop Chambers at this point? I really thought he would have a breakout year. R. Smith, C Jackson and C Henry are all available.
Scott Engel: (11:58 AM ET ) None of those guys will outperform Chambers the rest of the way - I would only start Chambers when the matchup is right, though.
Ross DC: buzzer beater! Should I trade F Taylor for Kitna? My other RBs: CTaylor, JJones, TBarber. My other QB: Pennington. Thanks!
Scott Engel: (11:59 AM ET ) It might not get Kitna for you - be prepared for the other guy to ask for another player - Kitna ranks fifth among ESPN QBs
Willis (Penn): Will Travis Henry have a good rest of the season or were the last 2 weeks a one time deal?
Scott Engel: (12:00 PM ET ) He's for real and running well - I wouldn't worry about him losing his job.
Thanks a lot everyone!
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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 10/22/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/22/06)

Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals
13 carries, 34 rushing yards, 0 TD
Things don't seem to be getting any better for James, who suffers the misfortune of running behind one of the weakest offensive lines in football this season. And while his Week 7 performance probably doesn't bother his fantasy owners any more than any of the six before it, it should, because it's a lot more troubling. This was the first game for the Cardinals under new offensive coordinator Mike Kruczek, who, by the way, was previously the team's quarterbacks coach. One week is hardly the ideal representation of what Kruczek's impact will be on the offense, but now James owners have to worry not only about his terrible yards-per-carry average (2.7) but also about his season low in touches (14) -- 11 fewer than in any of the previous six weeks -- in the first game of the Kruczek era. Go ahead and say it's because the Cardinals played from behind all day, but folks, this team has lost each of its past six games by a combined 52 points, yet James averaged 24.4 rushing attempts in Weeks 2-6, a rather healthy total. Maybe things go right back to normal for him in Week 8 at Green Bay, or perhaps the bye week helps fixes things for him and the team, to a point. But it seems like the more time James has to get acclimated to the Arizona offense, the further he gets from actually being acclimated. I can't see him returning to form as more than a No. 2 fantasy option, and until he has that standout game, he'll be a concern against stronger opponents.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/22/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 2 New Articles Added 10/22/06)

Oct. 23, 2006, 1:49 PM
Week 7: Patience with Leinart


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By Jason Langendorf
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Football followers are as fickle as my kids:
Daddy, I don't want chicken for dinner. But we had chicken just last week and you ate it. I didn't like it. But you told me you did. No, I didn't. But you had three helpings. Uh-uh. Well then. Um, OK.
And so it is with Arizona QB Matt Leinart and his fans/critics. First, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in college football history gets poked and prodded by personnel men during the summer evaluation process, to the point that they simply have to find something wrong with him. Then, the BMOC-turned-draft bridesmaid sours more opinions with a brief holdout and fails to beat out QB Kurt Warner for the Cardinals' starting job. No wonder the pretty boy fell to No. 10.
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5. Jaguars: I haven't seen the tape yet, but I'm guessing no DT Marcus Stroud, DE Reggie Hayward or LB Mike Peterson helped Houston.
4. Falcons: How did Atlanta stop RB Willie Parker with no DT Rod Coleman or DE John Abraham? I dunno, but I like RBs Rudi Johnson and Kevin Jones the next two weeks anyway.
3. Bills: They looked solid against the Pats, but they couldn't afford to lose DT John McCargo, rookie or not. There's just no depth inside. 2. Redskins: CB Shawn Springs is back, but an injury to CB Carlos Rogers means the Kenny Wright Cook-off continues. 1. Lions: DT Shaun Rogers is overrated? Really? Detroit run D before Sunday: 94.3 rushing yards allowed per game. Against the lowly Jets: 221 yards and three TDs.
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But when Warner cracks, Leinart has a solid starting debut. And after a for-the-ages follow-up performance against Chicago, all lingering doubts about his readiness are eradicated. Leinart, after all, is no typical rookie. He is different. He is exceptionally polished. He has played in big games before. He is unfazed by pressure. He can leap tall buildings in a single bound, cure the common cold and rid my TV dial of the Lifetime channel with a twitch of his nose.
Then comes Oakland. Leinart spits the bit against an unfathomably bad Raiders team, and of course ... it's to be expected. One week he has the whole of the NFL kingdom at his feet, the next he's a pauper in the streets. But Leinart is a rookie, after all. He was bound to come back to earth/hit the wall/get exposed. Look, this is the NFL we're talking about. The National Football League. You aren't in southern California anymore, kid. That's not Texas/Notre Dame/Oklahoma out there. (Mandatory chuckling in the booth ensues.)
OK, stop. Just stop it. And I'm not just talking to you TV color analysts, who are now inducing actual physical pain on viewers. Writers, sports-talk DJs, fans, scouts, anyone who pays a modicum of attention to the NFL seems possessed by the urge to rush to judgment -- and then completely ignore that first verdict while rushing to a new one. Too many things happen every week in the NFL that don't make sense, but we aren't willing to throw up our hands once in a while and say, "Well, we just don't know." Much better to make a statement, no matter how ill-informed, than to have nothing to say at all. Better to be a flip-flopper than a wishy-washer.
Well, I'm here to tell you: I don't know. No one does. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty sure I have an idea about plenty of things, including this Leinart fella. I know the wretched track record of rookie NFL quarterbacks. I realize Arizona's offensive line can neither protect nor run block well enough consistently to give any passer sufficient time in the pocket or put him in favorable game situations. I have a handle on Leinart's tools and experience, and I even believe proof of his leadership and heart and nerve are all but indisputable. I get the impression he had problems when the Bears bagged their Cover 2 and played more man-to-man late in Week 6. I'd also say the Raiders, who play a great deal of man-to-man and have an emerging cover stud in CB Nnamdi Asomugha, were a deceptively tough matchup for Leinart at this stage of the game. I'd surmise that he'll have far more luck, at least in the short term, against teams that play zone and don't blitz and allow him to rely on his head more than his legs and arm.
But it's all educated guesswork. And lest you think I'm a closet Cardinals fan/critic (yeah, I wrote about 'em in this space not long ago), here are some others that we were -- and are -- equally clueless about: QB Michael Vick, RB Larry Johnson, San Diego's defense, QB David Carr, WR Mike Furrey, TE Tony Gonzalez, QB Mark Brunell (again). And that was just Week 7.
The point is this: Don't overreact to what you think a single game tells you. Take it in, process it, file it away. Start your stars every week and approach everything else with caution. In other words, Miami QB Joey Harrington (414 yards against Green Bay) probably isn't ready to start reeling off 400-yard games willy-nilly. But with a human turnstile at cornerback and the NFL's worst pass defense after six weeks, the Packers safely can be deemed a strong fantasy matchup for opposing quarterbacks and pass-catchers.
Unless, of course, your quarterback happens to be Leinart. See, the Cardinals travel to Green Bay in Week 8. And the Packers (wouldn't you know it?) favor man-to-man schemes in the secondary. My head hurts. I must lie down now.
O-LINE OBSERVATIONS
The so-called "Hutchinson Bowl" vindicated Minnesota's decision to lure OG Steve Hutchinson away from Seattle with a boatload of cash in the offseason. The Seahawks have more problems than a Pro Bowl guard could solve on his own, but the thrashing of QB Matt Hasselbeck (knee) and a total of 53 rushing yards on 21 carries illustrates just how far Seattle's offense has fallen since last season. RB Maurice Morris, who doesn't get downhill nearly as well as injured RB Shaun Alexander and lacks his power, will struggle as long as opponents keep getting penetration. ... Washington's play-calling baffles me. The Redskins have a big, strong offensive line, an elite feature back and a quarterback who'd have trouble throwing from the back line at the county fair dunk tank. Yet against Indianapolis in the first half Sunday, QB Brunell dropped back 16 times while the Redskins had just 11 rushing attempts (including a 6-4 pass-run ratio on first downs). Washington never trailed by more than a TD before the third quarter, but coordinator Al Saunders kept putting the game in Brunell's hands. And when the Redskins did run, Portis curiously was sent wide more often than up the gut. That isn't the way to beat an undersized, speedy Colts defense. Similar matchups await, but Portis won't have it any easier if Washington doesn't get more aggressive -- especially if QB Jason Campbell eventually replaces Brunell.
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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 10/22/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 10/22/06)

Oct. 24, 2006, 2:50 PM
Carroll: Roethlisberger, Hasselbeck updates


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Slow week, huh? No time for an intro, so let's get right to the injuries:
Matt Hasselbeck was lucky when his knee got rolled up. If you watch the video, he was turned, taking the brunt of the force on the outside of his leg. That force taxed his medial collateral ligament, and if you're going to sprain your knee, the MCL is the one you'd pick, if forced. Even when completely ruptured, the current medical convention is not to repair it, as was done in Daunte Culpepper's case. OK, bad example. The sprain was described by Mike Holmgren as a Grade II, so the given three-week time frame is, if anything, a bit conservative. According to doctors from Kerlan-Jobe, one of the top orthopedic hospitals in the country, Hasselbeck's knee shouldn't pose any problem when he comes back, especially if braced. "It will, of course, affect his mobility but should not affect his drop-back or passing ability." I won't be surprised if we see Hasselbeck on the practice field as early as next week.
Concussions are cumulative. Ask any boxer. Ben Roethlisberger has just suffered his second significant concussion in less than four months and neither was of the "bell rung" variety. Roethlisberger was down on the ground for better than five minutes; for part of that time he appeared to be either unconscious or what one doctor I spoke with called "altered." (That's a fancy word for what my high school football coach Bob Newton called "knocked goofy.") Under the guidelines of the Cantu scale, one of three major concussion recovery guidelines and the one I prefer with the 2001 revisions, Roethlisberger should miss at least two weeks, and that's only if he did not actually lose consciousness. If he did, he should miss a month. On top of that, these words in the guideline probably matter more: "consider terminating season." The NFL and the Steelers in particular do some good work in trying to treat and prevent concussions. Now it's time to see if they'll use what they've learned. No matter how long Roethlisberger is out, Charlie Batch is a must-have handcuff or a nice bye-week pickup in most leagues.
Speaking of concussions, Trent Green has been cleared to practice. Instead of a red jersey, Green is likely to have Secret Service protection and air bags during his first week of practice. This isn't going to be an immediate comeback. Green said as much himself this week, pointing to a couple weeks down the road without noting that he's only been cleared for non-contact drills. The problem is that when football players get on the field, even with restrictions, they have a tendency to just want to play football. On top of that, coaches see players playing and wonder why they can't just play in games. Assuming Green can make it through practices this week without any setbacks, I believe that he'll be cleared to take contact the following week. That would put him on pace for a return in the Nov. 5 game. Damon Huard's play doesn't appear to be a factor here, so we'll all be watching Green's results for guidance on when he'll be back in fantasy rosters.
I don't think it's letting the cat out of the bag when I tell you that teams lie about injuries. I don't think it's mean or even intentional in most cases. Coaches are the ones that give info out to the media, translating and spinning all at once despite an obvious lack of comfort with the material. Most reporters don't cover injuries either, making their questions a bit tangential in many cases. You don't go to press conferences for straight answers. Why discuss this when looking for a return date on Larry Fitzgerald? Because my sources were better than anything given out by the team. A Grade II strain of the hamstring takes a certain amount of time to heal, and then the player has to return to his previous level of function. Given the information we had on Fitzgerald, which didn't include any evidence of him healing faster or slower than normal, it's no surprise to see that he won't be back until after the bye. "But he's questionable," I can hear you saying. I'll point back to the first sentence and tell you that in the unlikely event that Fitzgerald sees the field this week, he'll be a decoy.
The Redskins took the loss in last week's game to the Colts, but the game may be even more costly due to injuries. While everyone saw Santana Moss go down hard with a hamstring strain, it appears to have looked worse than it was. MRI showed that the strain was a mild one, a Grade I+ strain according to one source. That means that there's no significant tearing in the muscle, meaning that if he responds to treatment, Moss could play this week. Muscle strains, especially to the hamstrings of muscle-bound guys like Moss, can be recurrent, so this is definitely something to watch for. However, the lead is buried here because the more significant injury occurred with Clinton Portis. Portis left the game with what looked like a bruise, but replays showed that someone's knee came down on Portis' leg in such a way that his ankle was compromised. Portis now has been diagnosed with one of the most dreaded conditions for a runner -- the high ankle sprain. Portis was seen coming back to Washington in a walking boot, so keep an eye on this. High ankle sprains can linger and take more than a month to heal completely. I'm told that Portis doesn't think this is too serious, but last I checked, none of his characters have been doctors. If you don't have Ladell Betts handcuffed, now might be the time to do it. Both have the bye week to heal.
Greg Jennings is one of the first guys that Antonio Freeman told me about and the first one to really pay off. Jennings came into Green Bay, a place Free knows pretty well, and immediately established himself as Brett Favre's No. 2 option. Now, Jennings is down with a moderate ankle sprain and looks to be out for this week's game. Jennings is a complete WR, so he's not one of the speed guys that could have this ruin a month. The Packers are very short of receivers now, so look for them to go to more TE routes and rely on Ahman Green and Noah Herron to take the load. Jennings should be back quickly and without long term effect, though you'll need to look elsewhere on Sunday.
It took about 10 seconds for me to fire out an e-mail to "The Fantasy Show" producers after watching LaVar Arrington go down in Monday night's game. It only took that long because my laptop was charging and I had to walk over to the desk. Arrington is done for the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon and you could see from the reactions of the trainers and Arrington himself that there was no question what the injury was. When the Achilles pops, it's very clear. If you look down at your own heel, you can clearly see where the Achilles is, pressing against the skin at the back of the lower leg. When it ruptures, it's simply not there, usually retracting due to the muscular tension. If you squeeze the Achilles (put your thumb on the tendon and fingers over the shin), the foot will drop slightly, the test to confirm an Achilles rupture. Arrington will have the tendon reattached surgically and should return next year. There's a high return rate for this surgery, though it is tough for an aging player to come back from any injury. This will force some reshuffling for the Giants LB corps, something that should affect their run defense. Watch this in matchups, especially over the next few weeks.
I have no idea what happened to Gary Baxter. Usually, if I see an injury, I can get a pretty good idea what happened. With the Browns CB, watching it on tape over and over still has me stumped. Baxter went down while he was backpedaling and you can see his left leg buckle, but he grabs his right knee. Tests showed that he ruptured both patellar tendons, something I can only recall seeing once. Wendell Davis, a WR for the Bears, did a jump stop on the legendarily bad Philly turf and -- as anyone that remembers it will tell you -- suffered an immediate and visible rupture of both tendons. The mechanism of injury for these two couldn't be more opposite, but the result is much the same. Baxter had been suffering with various injuries, something that could factor in here. He'll have surgery and will miss at least a year and even then, it's not clear he'll ever recover enough to return to his previous level. Once again, the Browns become a very good matchup play if your QB or WR is heading to Cleveland.
The Raiders have enough troubles without adding injuries to the mix. LaMont Jordan was the one player that was worth a fantasy play. Instead, Jordan was an active zero, not taking a carry or touching the field after shaking off the trainers in warm-ups. The back spasms reported late last week appear to be lingering enough to keep Jordan off the field. Since they were aggravated by catching passes, it probably affects Jordan more than most RBs, who aren't as involved in the passing game.
The team will work on getting the pain-spasm cycle under control early this week, so look to see if Jordan is full-go once practice gets going. Any limitation would force him out of most fantasy lineups. His loss will also affect Randy Moss, since teams won't need to respect the run. At this stage, the Raiders are a fantasy wasteland -- you don't even want your guys going against their unnoticed defense.
At least Chargers LB Shawne Merriman isn't using his time under steroid suspension to take care of other business. His suspension, reportedly for the use of deca-durabolin, is impossible to excuse. Deca is one of the steroids that has been in use for decades and one that is easily detectable even by primitive testing, let alone the sophisticated procedures used in pro sports. The "tainted supplement'" excuse doesn't hold, especially given the NFL's policy of approving supplements. I'm sure the Washington Post article claiming that nandrolone was found in several supplements will be brought up, but all those supplements were pulled from the market more than a year ago. The Chargers' defense drafted Luis Castillo after he tested positive at the NFL combine, so there appears to be something of an organizational problem, one that the Chargers should be forced to address.
Instead of wondering aloud how the team will deal with a linebacker shortage, I wonder how the NFL gets away with a steroid scandal without the same outrage baseball takes for steroids. Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is comparable to Merriman in terms of early-career achievement; Howard was the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year (and this year's home run champ), while Merriman was the 2005 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year (and also made the Pro Bowl). If Howard tested positive, what would the reaction be? I doubt the headline would be "Phillies short of first basemen." Bumps and Bruises: Shaun Alexander will begin practicing this week, but he will not play until the team gets to Oakland in two weeks. ... No one is talking much about a report that Laurence Maroney was one of several players in line for X-rays after this week's game in Buffalo. According to every source I spoke to, there's nothing wrong with Maroney. ... In a bad week for ACL injuries, Mike Doss blew his out and his season is done. The Colts are hoping Bob Sanders will be back soon. ... The Colts head to Denver this week, where the ACL goblin nailed Matt Lepsis. His season is done. O-line problems might keep Jake Plummer on the field longer. His mobility is an asset that Jay Cutler can't match. ... Donte' Stallworth will be back at practice, Eagles sources tell me, but they're waiting to see if he can get through the week without a setback for his chronic hamstring. ... Ben Roethlisberger wasn't the only QB knocked around this weekend. Charlie Frye also took a concussion, so watch this situation. Sacks are a massive indicator for future injury to QBs. ... Daunte Culpepper is out until after Miami's bye, but the knee is fine, according to team sources.
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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 10/22/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 10/22/06)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Ready for Romo?


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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 Tom Brady era began in New England when Drew Bledsoe was benched, and it seems like Bledsoe's run as a starter in Dallas could be over as well. But no one is expecting Tony Romo to come in and lead the Cowboys to Super Bowl glory, and it's even questionable how useful he will be as a fantasy starter and how stable the Dallas offense will be under his guidance.
There have been no official announcements from Bill Parcells, but the talk coming out of Dallas is that when Bledsoe was benched after a mostly nightmarish first half on Monday night, that he won't get his job back, and Romo will likely start Dallas' next game at Carolina on Sunday night. The switch had long been rumored, but now it seems like the Cowboys have no choice but to make the change. An immobile veteran behind a shaky offensive line, Bledsoe was a sitting target for ferocious opposing pass rushers, especially the aggressive Giants' front line.
Bledsoe was an inconsistent fantasy starter, because for all his weaponry, he didn't have the mobility to buy extra time in the pocket, and his decision-making was very questionable for such an experienced passer. At no time was his thought process more confounding than when he threw an interception near the goal line late in the first half that cost Dallas a chance to take the lead. Fantasy owners of the Giants defense, however, watched with glee as CB Sam Madison picked him off en route to an 18-point night for the unit in ESPN leagues.
Fantasy owners must wonder what to expect from Romo as a regular starter. His very first pass was one of three interceptions he threw, but he also tossed two TD passes, one to Terrell Owens. Fantasy owners shouldn't completely pre-judge Romo based on his performance on Monday. He was thrown into a difficult situation in which his team was already on its heels, and he has not had the proper preparation with the first-team offense yet. Romo has looked good in the preseason, but regular season play is certainly different, and even if Romo does succeed, it should take some time.
Don't assume that Romo will fail as Dallas' starter because he was erratic in what seemed like a no-win situation on Monday night. Given some time, say a game or two to settle in as a starter, he should at least be respectable for fantasy purposes. He has two very good wide receivers, a quality running game, and he can buy more time to throw with his feet than Bledsoe can. All it will take for Romo to play at least adequately is some in-game reps. As we have seen from players like Damon Huard and Charlie Batch this year, backup quarterbacks aren't necessarily downgrades. And in the case of the Dallas QBs, a more mobile and promising passer could be an upgrade. If Bledsoe does somehow remain the starter, it might not be for long. <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
A switch to Romo could also mean a change in the production of the Dallas receivers. If anything, the move could be a big positive for Terrell Owens. Yes, Owens has been partly to blame for some of his disappointing outings this season. He has been slow to adjust to the new offense and has been covered well at times. But in many instances when he was open, Bledsoe simply didn't have the time to get him the ball, or made a questionable read. Owens' three TDs against Houston last week were much a product of playing a weak opponent, but you bet Romo will lean heavily on Owens to help him move the ball. Owens will make the most of an opportunity to tell his new QB that he can be his main target, and Romo might honor Owens' calls to get the ball more. Now is a good time to trade for Owens, given the switch. But Bledsoe also had a longtime, on-field relationship with Terry Glenn, and Romo doesn't have that same comfort level with Glenn. Romo could lock onto Owens more and Glenn could be targeted less. As for tight end Jason Witten, there are no guarantees a QB change will help his production. He likely will be needed to stay in and block, as the Dallas offensive line still needs all the help it can get.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys
13 carries, 30 rushing yards, 0 TD

More support from the running game than what was given on Monday will be needed if Romo is to succeed as a starter if he gets the job. Jones was not much of a factor Monday night, as the Giants jumped ahead early and Jones quickly became a non-factor. Jones saw a string of three consecutive 100-yard games come to an end, as the New York defensive line dominated and stuffed the run when Dallas wasn't throwing the ball. Don't get down on Jones after the bad outing, though. Opposing defenses likely won't pay extra attention to him as Romo should be able to keep defenses honest right from the beginning as a starter. And Jones has proven he can roll up some good numbers despite Dallas' QB problems. You can look for Jones to quickly get back past the 20-carry mark, as the Cowboys might lean on him initially to take some pressure off their inexperienced new starter. Romo will need Jones to play well to avoid regularly adverse passing situations, and he'll likely get the needed production. But Jones only has two TD runs this season, and even if he rebounds quickly from his off night, Marion Barber III will remain a threat to take his goal-line carries.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 7</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Joey Harrington, QB, Dolphins: His numbers don't fully reflect how truly erratic he was against a bad Green Bay defense</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>414</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>-3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>20</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Tiki Barber, RB, Giants: Brother Ronde has more TDs, but you can't sit this yardage machine</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>27</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>114</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>32</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</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>Mike Furrey, WR, Lions: Despite another promising outing, he's not dependable and remains a risky option</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>109</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>13</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>16</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins: Has scored in two consecutive games, and is re-emerging as a scoring threat</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>REC</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TARGET</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>42</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>12</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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Names Makin' News
? Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck will miss at least three weeks with a sprained right MCL. Seneca Wallace will start in his place. Meanwhile, RB Shaun Alexander (foot) is targeting a Nov. 6 return. The Seattle Times reports that Alexander is healing well, but needs more time to rest.
? Aaron Brooks still is not ready to return from a pectoral injury. Andrew Walter (hamstring) has been cleared to play and will remain the starter for the Raiders at QB.
? While rumors persist about a QB switch for the Broncos, the Denver Post reports that Jake Plummer will remain the starting QB. The Broncos are 5-1, and Mike Shanahan appears reluctant to make a change with the team winning games.
? The Houston Chronicle reports that Wali Lundy is not guaranteed to start against Tennessee. But even if Samkon Gado starts, Lundy could still see the majority of the carries. ? 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 10/22/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 6 New Articles Added 10/22/06)

Oct. 24, 2006, 4:26 PM
Week 8: 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
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys (Owned in 1.5 percent of ESPN leagues): While there has been nothing official announced about a QB change in Dallas, there are already reports that Romo is expected to be installed as the Cowboys' new starting quarterback. It makes a lot of sense for Dallas to make the change, so don't be surprised if and when it happens. Romo is more mobile and can operate more efficiently behind a questionable offensive line, and poor decisions by Drew Bledsoe might have earned him his seat on the bench. Even if Bledsoe somehow keeps the job, he'll be on a short leash. Romo could eventually be a quality fantasy starter once he starts to get more work with the first-team offense.
Seneca Wallace, QB, Seahawks (0.1 percent owned): He didn't look good overall in relief of Matt Hasselbeck Sunday, and Wallace is small and can get passes batted down or tipped at the line of scrimmage. But he is very athletic, and has looked good in the preseason before, and now will have time to get comfortable as a starter. Wallace throws well on the run and has the potential to throw accurate deep balls. He does have a high-quality receiving crew as well. Wallace won't post outstanding numbers, but he is a good add if you are hurting for help at QB or have to start two players at the position.
Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders (1.5 percent owned): When LaMont Jordan's back tightened up on him before Sunday's game against Arizona, Fargas was suddenly pushed into a prime role. Fargas wasn't anything better than mediocre and had no scores. But he could continue to get a lot of work if Jordan has trouble staying healthy, and Fargas was already in line to get more touches, as Art Shell seemed to be impressed with his potential. He could be just a change-of-pace RB when Jordan is available, but he'll continue to get more work if needed. Fargas isn't a strong runner and Zack Crockett could be used more in short-yardage situations when Jordan is out, but Fargas does have the speed to break a long run at any time, and you simply can't leave a possible starting RB on the free agent list when he is available.
Chad Jackson, WR, Patriots (5.6 percent owned): He has seemingly put some early-season injury issues behind him, and now is becoming a more integral part of the New England passing game. The Patriots have intended to make Jackson become more involved in the offense recently, and he served notice that he could become one of Tom Brady's favored targets with a 35-yard TD reception against the Bills Sunday. Jackson is a great combination of size and speed, and he plays with a QB that can get him the ball often even while he learns on the job. Jackson may lack experience, but Brady will get him the ball whenever he gets open. Brady makes good use of any receiver who has some talent, and Jackson will catch his eye and get the ball whenever he can create some space for himself.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers (7.0 percent owned): He makes rookie mistakes, runs sloppy routes, and has been slow to get used to the pro game. But the Steelers won't wait for him to mature more, and want to get him involved in the offense now. They are designing plays to get Holmes the ball, and they will continue to throw to him, especially when he can get deep. Holmes isn't going to catch every ball thrown his way, and he'll likely continue to struggle on shorter routes. But he can certainly get deep, and he's going to get the ball every time he beats a defensive back by a few steps. Pittsburgh isn't going to ignore him as he learns, and he'll be targeted often, with some quality results every so often.
PRIME CUTS
Drew Bledsoe, QB, Cowboys (94.9 percent owned): It's just a matter of time before he officially is pinned to the bench. It might only be days before that happens. Even if he starts again at some point this season, you can't depend on him for consistent production, even with his good-looking receiving crew.
Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos (79.2 percent owned): The Broncos are winning games, so a switch to rookie QB Jay Cutler might not happen in the near future. But the Broncos have been conservative on offense, and Plummer simply isn't getting the job done statistically. Plummer has thrown only four TD passes this year, and none in three games.
Jerious Norwood, RB, Falcons (30.8 percent owned): For those of you still holding onto him in yearly leagues, let go. While Norwood can occasionally break loose for the big run, he's not getting enough touches to be a consistent fantasy contributor, even as a flex option.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, N.Y. Jets (67.5 percent owned): He looked like a big sleeper early on, but now opponents respect him and give him more defensive attention. Cotchery hasn't been able to break loose for any big plays recently, and his numbers will continue to be mediocre as he operates as a strict possession receiver. Cotchery has not scored in the past three games and he has only one 100-yard game this year. Keenan McCardell, WR, Chargers (66.4 percent owned): He is no longer a major part of the offense. McCardell has no TD catches yet, and he has failed to total 70 receiving yards in a game. Stop waiting for him to come around.

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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 10/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/24/06)

QBs, Power Rankings


posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


The most important position on the football field, most would argue, is that of the quarterback. You think the position battle over the starting right defensive end in Dallas (there isn't one, incidentally) would be making this much news? Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo,<!--##FRONTSTOP##--> Matt Baker or Roger Staubach, no matter who throws the passes in Dallas, it's big news, and it won't really go away.

The most important position in fantasy football, we've been told for years and years, has been that of running back. Even though top quarterbacks routinely score more points than running backs, the fantasy owner can start two (or three) of the latter, and normally only one of the former. Thus it is that someone can justify drafting Willis McGahee or Kevin Jones over Peyton Manning.
We can argue that this is no longer your father's fantasy football, and quarterbacks are more important now. How many running backs can we really rely on at this point? Who is a must start, whatever that is? A quick peek at the season scoring leaders tells us one quarterback is lapping the field and six of the top 10 players are those who pass the ball for a living.
Will it finish that way? Um, yeah, it probably will, or if it changes, it will go more in the direction of passers. Last season, in what was a bit unusual since we've never seen three running backs top 20 touchdowns at the same time, the position produced the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 players, but then it was quarterbacks in nine of the next 10 spots.
Quarterbacks never mattered less, it was just that it was tough to tell how much of a difference there would be in the top ones. Good for Peyton Manning, he's No. 2 currently, and a lot of people think he will eventually catch Donovan McNabb for the top spot. But, will Marc Bulger, Jake Delhomme and, gosh, Rex Grossman, be that much worse?
You've got to have a good quarterback if you're going to win in fantasy. I won't say you can't prevail if you've been going with Charlie Frye, because there are always exceptions, just like a McNabb-led team might be 2-5. So who can you trust?
If I own one of these quarterbacks, I play them pretty much regardless of opponent, weather, whatever: McNabb, both Mannings, Bulger.
These guys are normally safe plays: Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Michael Vick, Delhomme, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Grossman.
And these injured QBs are safe, when healthy: Matt Hasselbeck, Ben Roethlisberger, Trent Green.
Class by himself: Jon Kitna (he's No. 5 overall, but can you call him safe?)
Matchup plays: Chad Pennington, Brett Favre, Alex Smith, Matt Leinart, Bruce Gradkowski.
Hard to trust: Mark Brunell, David Carr, Byron Leftwich, Damon Huard, Brad Johnson, Vince Young.
Not worth it: Jake Plummer, Dallas QBs, Oakland QBs, Frye, J.P. Losman, Steve McNair, Joey Harrington.
And who are we buying and selling from it?
Top Buys:
? Palmer: Tell the guy in your league who has him that "he's only the No. 19 QB" and you can get him cheap. Hey, at least you know they won't clinch anything, so he'll be in there for Week 17. Main problem with Palmer is the Bengals close with Indy, Denver and Pittsburgh.
? Brady: Only has three more fantasy points than Palmer, and certainly Brady's owners aren't pleased. Look at Tom Terrific's schedule, with the Jets, Packers and Lions, and then in the fantasy playoffs it's Miami, Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee! Plan ahead!
? Grossman: Well, I just choose to believe that players will have bad games, and Rex did that against the Cardinals. Otherwise, he's been very good, and even the tough games on the Bears schedule are against teams one can throw against.
? Rivers: As good as he's been, he's still only tied for ninth at the position, but I think he's going to get better. And the Chargers schedule is very attractive for him, except for two Denver games. Rivers gets three of the final four games at home, and Week 17 vs. Arizona.
Top Sells:
? Vick: I do trust him, and even before the unexplainable four-touchdown game against the Steelers, he was consistently producing fantasy points because of his legs. I just can't see him finishing as the No. 3 QB in fantasy. He still has fewer passing yards than Kurt Warner and Steve McNair, as well as both Dolphins QBs! Of course, in fairness, Vick has run for as many yards (441) as the other top 15 quarterbacks in fantasy!
? Kitna: It's a wonderful story, the former Bengal QB going to the Lions and piling up lofty yardage totals while his team is constantly trailing. The Lions still stink, and while Kitna could pass for 4,000 yards under these circumstances, the Lions could also change the offense on a whim.
? Brunell: He's the No. 7 QB overall because of the Week 4 against the Jaguars. Nope, I can't explain that magical day either. I can explain that Jason Campbell is weeks (maybe days) away from becoming the next Tony Romo and starting for an NFC team.
? Leinart: I do like Leinart and think he has a big future ahead of him, and there will be weeks I recommend him, but I think fantasy owners are clouding their judgment a bit on what he'll bring statistically. He's a rookie. Not like Rivers, who is playing for the first time but in his third year, but a natural rookie. His college career and off-field life has made him a media darling. And he threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter against the big, bad Bears and should have won the game. But he's a rookie. His value is likely to exceed actual production. You can get a lot for him, even after the loss to Oakland. Leinart might finish in the 10-15 range among QBs if he plays real well, but he's going to make mistakes and, more importantly, his team will make more. Leinart has to overcome what is an ugly situation with the coach, and at running back, where Edgerrin James has nowhere to run, isn't happy about it, and is dealing with reality that he left an unbeaten team that can win a Super Bowl for a team that might win three games. Yes, the Cards still have to play Dallas, at Minnesota, at St. Louis, Seattle, Denver and finish at San Diego. Ouch.
***
The main argument about last week's Power Rankings was that I not only left Willie Parker out of the top 12, but excluded him from the "just missed" group as well. Did I make a mistake? Well, I actually thought about what I was doing, and stuck with the omission. Parker owners, Steelers fans or just those who felt wronged wrote in, which is terrific. Power Rankings are meant to be fun and elicit comments. Really, fantasy football is supposed to be the same, but, that's a blog for another day.
Why did I leave Parker out? Did I think he'd have a bad game at Atlanta? Not really. I thought Parker would do well, actually. He entered the game with five touchdowns. In three of his five games he had topped 100 yards, and in two of them he scored twice. What was Parker doing wrong?
Well, nothing. He's a terrific player and a fine fantasy option, I just didn't have room for him among the top seven backs in the actual Power Rankings, or in the second list, where five other backs were. Would I rather draft Parker today, or Willis McGahee? After thinking about it, I don't know. I'm not the biggest McGahee fan today, either! But Chester Taylor, Rudi Johnson, Tatum Bell, yeah, I have to take them.
Anyway, Parker didn't join the top 12 this week either, though he certainly might at some point. Remember, if all we wanted to do was list the top 12 scorers for the season, we'd just read off the point leaders.
1. Donovan McNabb, Eagles (previously No. 1)
2. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers (2)
3. Larry Johnson, Chiefs (5)
4. Brian Westbrook, Eagles (7)
5. Peyton Manning, Colts (8)
6. Steven Jackson, Rams (4)
7. Torry Holt, Rams (6)
8. Clinton Portis, Redskins (3)
9. Tiki Barber, Giants (10)
10. Steve Smith, Panthers (11)
11. Tatum Bell, Broncos (NA)
12. Chester Taylor, Vikings (NA)
Just missed: Marc Bulger, Rams (was 12); Rudi Johnson, Bengals; Kevin Jones, Lions; Warrick Dunn, Falcons; Bears D. (Dropped out: Frank Gore, 49ers (was 9).
How & Why: For the record, McNabb has 177 fantasy points in seven games, while Peyton Manning has 120 in six games, so the gap between the top two quarterbacks is not as extreme as it seems. Thing is, you just know the Colts will have their division wrapped up a week or two into December, and then Jim Sorgi is on parade the final week. With Philly, McNabb will be out there, even if he eats some bad sushi and leaves it all out there on the field yet again (I have no idea what he ate, either Sunday in Tampa or back in the Super Bowl; they're calling it dehydration). Still, I have three running backs between McNabb and Peyton, for now. Ultimately, I think McNabb will not finish No. 1 on this list, but it will be LT or LJ.
Portis drops a bit, not so much from one tough game against an unbeaten team, but the Redskins are a mess, there's likely a QB change in the future, which either will hurt Portis or won't change things much. It can't help, and rumor has it Portis is banged up heading into this bye week. Tiki still hasn't scored, but nobody has more rushing yards. Two new entries to the list are running backs, as Denver's Bell doesn't have monster games, but every week is a nice outing. Taylor just broke a 95-yarder. The carries are consistent. For now he's ahead of Rudi Johnson, though I expect that to change.
This is the first time Kevin Jones is mentioned in a Power Rankings blog. Are you aware he's the No. 4 running back for fantasy this season? Stunning news! And it's because he's catching the ball. He actually has seven more receptions than Westbrook. Like the Parker argument from last week, show us a bit more Mr. Jones, and you'll make the list.
Off the just missed list is Shaun Alexander. I tried, I really tried to stick with him, but at best he's going to return in Week 9, and there are no guarantees of his performance even then. How many weeks will he give fantasy owners before your playoffs? This list has to be about performance, to some degree. So Atlanta's Dunn makes it instead.
OK, those are your Power Rankings, discuss.
It's the Wednesday before Week 8, in most leagues you've got six weeks before the playoffs. Don't leave any roster spots open, get depth for the coming weeks, and trade wisely. The trade deadline in ESPN leagues, incidentally, is Wednesday, Nov. 22, just before you gorge yourself on turkey. Plenty of time left!
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/24/06)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Leon Gets the Green Light


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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 -->Among the countless options the Jets considered at running back heading into this season, did anyone expect Leon Washington to become the team's most reliable? Such a statement back in late August might have seemed only slightly less absurd as the thought that Curtis Martin, out all season thus far due to a knee injury, would be the go-to guy in Week 8.
Of course, Martin's now on the mend, perhaps back in a couple of weeks, so stranger things have happened. But with Washington rushing 20 times for 129 yards and two scores in Week 7 against the Lions, it seems he's the most suited to handling the bulk of the work, and the best bet of the bunch for fantasy the remainder of the season. He now has two 100-yard efforts in his last three games, averaging 96.0 rushing yards during that span.
Still, Washington has only 71 rushing attempts in seven games, while Kevan Barlow has 79. Barlow also has five touchdowns compared to Washington's two, appearing the more reliable option in the red zone. Washington might be the primary back these days, but it's seemingly a two-to-one timeshare, with the one-third that Barlow receives the short-yardage carries. In a sense, the Jets' backfield is quite a bit like the Cowboys' split between Julius Jones and Marion Barber III, with Barber in the Barlow role.
Therefore, consider Washington a useful No. 2/flex option in most weeks, getting around 15 carries a game and being a strong play when the matchup is right. Barlow, meanwhile, is still worthy of flex consideration when the matchup is right, and on the Jets' schedule, the Week 8 at Cleveland, Week 12 against Houston and Week 13 at Green Bay games seem to qualify as that. Neither, however, seems all that likely to be the every-down back unless the other gets hurt, so be reasonable with your expectations.
As for Martin, it's still quite a longshot that he'll return this season, if at any point in his career, and be a useful fantasy player. His knee problem surely has caused him to lose a step, and there's no guarantee it's completely healed. Unless you're in a deep league with an awfully extensive bench, Martin's not even worth keeping on your roster. <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
We've already seen several quarterback switches that were performance-related this season, from the Dolphins' move from Daunte Culpepper to Joey Harrington, to the Cardinals' move from Kurt Warner to Matt Leinart, to the Cowboys' move from Drew Bledsoe to Tony Romo this past Monday night. And interestingly, the Broncos' Jake Plummer might have been considered the favorite to be the next quarterback to lose his job, if not for his team's 5-1 record and first-place standing in the AFC West. Really, Plummer has been one of the least effective quarterbacks in the league through six games, with a 60.4 passer rating that ranks him fifth-worst among QBs (at least 14 pass attempts per team games), 164.0 passing yards per game, four touchdowns and seven interceptions. In fact, if not for his team's success in spite of his performance, you could be sure the calls for rookie Jay Cutler would be much louder today. Plummer faces one of his toughest assignments all season against the Colts this week, one in which he could finally be exposed as a quarterback who has done nothing to deserve retaining his starting status, so all eyes should be on the game in Denver on Sunday. He's not performing nearly well enough to activate, and I wouldn't activate him in any week until he does more than simply offering his Broncos wins. (For the record, that Denver's winning with him at the helm could be the one thing that saves his job.) Who knows, maybe Cutler could do better getting Javon Walker and Rod Smith the ball consistently, but conventional thinking suggests it's a bad idea for a contender to turn to an untested rookie QB. Keep Plummer around, because he's one of the most fortunate starters around, and I think he'll get every chance to straighten himself out the next few weeks. (Whether he actually does it, well, that's another matter entirely.)


THE BOTTOM LINE

Byron Leftwich, QB, Jaguars
14-for-28 passing, 125 yards, 0 TD, 0 interceptions

Though Leftwich claims his sore left ankle wasn't the cause for his poor performance on Sunday, watching him play, it's hard to believe that he was 100 percent. Facing an extremely favorable matchup against the Texans -- a team that made Mark Brunell look like a standout -- Leftwich struggled all day to locate his receivers, and even when he did, he was terribly inaccurate with his throws. Frankly, I was a bit surprised the Jaguars didn't turn to David Garrard at some point in the game, which when you think about it, isn't a ringing endorsement of Garrard, at one point in the preseason considered a possible contender for the starting job. Leftwich is going to need to make some serious adjustments in practice this week to get himself straightened out, though to be fair, without Matt Jones in the lineup, his receiver corps is a bit thinner, and that has had an effect on his performance. Leftwich remains a matchups type, and there are some favorable ones in his immediate future, including Week 9 against the Titans and Week 10 against the Texans, but keep tabs on his and his teammates' health the next 10 days. He won't be trustworthy enough, nor will guys like Reggie Williams and Ernest Wilford, if things don't improve soon.
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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 10/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/24/06)

Oct. 25, 2006, 1:32 PM
FFL: Week 8 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 vs. JAC
2. Eli Manning vs. TB
3. Peyton Manning at DEN
<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->4. Marc Bulger at SD
5. Brett Favre vs. ARI
6. Rex Grossman vs. SF
7. Philip Rivers vs. STL
8. Chad Pennington at CLE
9. Jake Delhomme vs. DAL
10. Carson Palmer vs. ATL
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER height="1" type="block" width="8"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>[FONT=Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif]We rate players based on possible fantasy production each week, taking into account past production as well as matchups. These are not overall player rankings, but rather a list of who you should start for the upcoming week. Top superstars will rarely get moved out of the prime spots, as they should not be benched unless injured. Most players with an unclear injury or starting status for the upcoming week will not be included. All four major offensive positions and defense/special teams units are ranked. [/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>11. Drew Brees vs. BAL
12. Michael Vick at CIN
13. Tom Brady at MIN
14. Charlie Batch at OAK
15. David Carr at TEN
16. Matt Leinart at GB
17. Damon Huard vs. SEA
18. Byron Leftwich at PHI
19. Charlie Frye vs. NYJ
20. Jake Plummer vs. IND
21. Steve McNair at NO
22. Bruce Gradkowski at NYG
23. Brad Johnson vs. NE
24. Vince Young vs. HOU
25. Alex Smith at CHI
26. Seneca Wallace at KC
27. Tony Romo at CAR
28. Andrew Walter vs. PIT

Running Backs
1. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. STL
2. Larry Johnson vs. SEA
3. Brian Westbrook vs. JAC
4. Willie Parker at OAK
5. Tatum Bell vs. IND
6. Tiki Barber vs. TB
7. Warrick Dunn at CIN
8. Travis Henry vs. HOU
9. Steven Jackson vs. SD
10. Rudi Johnson vs. ATL
11. Ahman Green vs. ARI
12. Thomas Jones vs. SF
13. DeShaun Foster vs. DAL
14. Chester Taylor vs. NE
15. Carnell Williams vs. NYG
16. Deuce McAllister vs. BAL
17. Edgerrin James vs. GB
18. Frank Gore at CHI
19. Leon Washington at CLE
20. Corey Dillon at MIN
21. Julius Jones at CAR
22. Wali Lundy at TEN
23. Maurice Jones-Drew at PHI
24. Reuben Droughns vs. NYJ
25. Laurence Maroney at MIN
26. Reggie Bush vs. BAL
27. Fred Taylor at PHI
28. Jamal Lewis at NO
29. Maurice Morris at KC
30. Dominic Rhodes at DEN
31. LaMont Jordan vs. PIT
32. Joseph Addai at DEN
33. Brandon Jacobs at TB
34. Cedric Benson vs. SF
35. Marion Barber III at CAR
36. Justin Fargas vs. PIT
37. Jerious Norwood at CIN
38. Nick Goings vs. DAL
39. Najeh Davenport at OAK
40. Samkon Gado at TEN

Wide Receivers
1. Steve Smith vs. DAL
2. Torry Holt at SD
3. Bernard Berrian vs. SF
4. Anquan Boldin at GB
5. Andre Johnson at TEN
6. Donald Driver vs. ARI
7. Hines Ward at OAK
8. Reggie Brown vs. JAC
9. T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. ATL
10. Marvin Harrison at DEN
11. Laveranues Coles at CLE
12. Plaxico Burress vs. TB
13. Chad Johnson vs. ATL
14. Reggie Wayne at DEN
15. Terrell Owens at CAR
16. Darrell Jackson at KC
17. Marques Colston vs. BAL
18. Randy Moss vs. PIT
19. Javon Walker vs. IND
20. Deion Branch at KC
21. Joey Galloway at NYG
22. Amani Toomer vs. TB
23. Joe Horn vs. BAL
24. Bryant Johnson at GB
25. Keyshawn Johnson vs. DAL
26. Braylon Edwards vs. NYJ
27. Eric Parker vs. STL
28. Donte' Stallworth vs. JAC
29. Terry Glenn at CAR
30. Reggie Williams at PHI
31. Muhsin Muhammad vs. SF
32. Drew Bennett vs. HOU
33. Doug Gabriel at MIN
34. Nate Washington at OAK
35. Isaac Bruce at SD
36. Eddie Kennison vs. SEA
37. Derrick Mason at NO
38. Mark Clayton at NO
39. Antonio Bryant at CHI
40. Jerricho Cotchery at CLE
41. Joe Jurevicius vs. NYJ
42. Santonio Holmes at OAK
43. Rod Smith vs. IND
44. Keenan McCardell vs. STL
45. Michael Jenkins at CIN
46. Rashied Davis vs. SF
47. Chad Jackson at MIN
48. Michael Clayton at NYG
49. Hank Baskett vs. JAC
50. Eric Moulds at TEN
51. Troy Williamson vs. NE
52. Bobby Wade vs. HOU
53. Samie Parker vs. SEA
54. Marcus Robinson vs. NE
55. Ashley Lelie at CIN
56. Ruvell Martin vs. ARI
57. Malcolm Floyd vs. STL
58. Travis Taylor vs. NE
59. Ernest Wilford at PHI
60. Ronald Curry vs. PIT

Tight Ends
1. Antonio Gates vs. STL
2. Jeremy Shockey vs. TB
3. Todd Heap at NO
4. Tony Gonzalez vs. SEA
5. Alge Crumpler at CIN
6. Kellen Winslow vs. NYJ
7. Heath Miller at OAK
8. Desmond Clark vs. SF
9. L.J. Smith vs. JAC
10. Jason Witten at CAR
11. Benjamin Watson at MIN
12. Dallas Clark at DEN
13. Owen Daniels at TEN
14. Bo Scaife vs. HOU
15. Ben Troupe vs. HOU
16. Alex Smith at NYG
17. Jermaine Wiggins vs. NE
18. Jerramy Stevens at KC
19. Chris Baker at CLE
20. Courtney Anderson vs. PIT
21. Joe Klopfenstein at SD
22. Bubba Franks vs. ARI
23. Eric Johnson at CHI
24. Reggie Kelly vs. ATL
25. Ernie Conwell vs. BAL

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

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/24/06)

Oct. 25, 2006, 7:31 PM
Engel: New QBs, Kevin Jones and top WRs


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each Wednesday, we take a quick-hitting, fantasy-style look at some of the most important stories and trends at the three critical positions in fantasy football.
Quarterbacks
Tony Romo and Seneca Wallace are taking over as starting QBs this week, and we have already heard negative talk and assumptions about how both the Dallas and Seattle offenses will suffer because of their inexperience. But just because a QB hasn't started yet this season is no reason to assume he will be a failure. I've heard more negative talk about Wallace. But as many other passers have proved this season, all a guy may need is more work with the first-team offense to play well. Don't assume Romo or Wallace won't play well this season when you consider how other backup QBs who have been pressed into service from the bench have performed so far. Other than these QBs, only Andrew Walter has played extensively after coming off the bench, and he is the only obvious fantasy failure in the group.
Damon Huard: He has thrown two TD passes in three of his past four games. Huard has 52 points in ESPN leagues in the past four games. He has thrown only one interception this season.
Charlie Batch: He threw three TD passes in the season opener against Miami, totaling 22 points. Batch threw two more scoring passes in relief work last week, finishing with 17 points.
Joey Harrington: Yes, he has been erratic, but he has also padded his totals when playing catch up. Harrington has totaled 30 fantasy points in his past two games.
Vince Young: I wouldn't start him, but he hasn't been terrible, and he certainly is useful in two-QB formats. Young already has three 10-point fantasy performances this season, with two of them coming in his past two games. He has thrown or rushed for a score in each one of those games.
Matt Leinart: His struggles against Oakland last week were a surprise, because he had looked good against the Bears. Leinart threw four TD passes in his first two starts, totaling 33 points, and should rebound in a big way against the Packers this week.
Bruce Gradkowski: He's been a big surprise and a good game manager for Tampa Bay. He also threw two TD passes in each of his first two starts, and has moved the offense more efficiently than Chris Simms did. The rookie totaled 30 fantasy points in his first two starts.
Running Backs
He certainly hasn't looked like an elite RB, but Kevin Jones has played well enough to be ranked fourth among RBs in ESPN leagues. With 91 points, he has outscored Clinton Portis, Ronnie Brown, Steven Jackson, Tiki Barber and Chester Taylor. He has nearly doubled the output of Reggie Bush and has scored more than twice the totals of LaMont Jordan and Jamal Lewis. Jones' average draft position in ESPN leagues was 32nd overall, 12 spots behind the heralded Bush.
With the Lions on a bye week, fantasy owners of Jones might find they will suddenly appreciate his production even more. Jones has scored 40 points in his past two games, and hasn't scored less than 18 points in four of his past five games. His newfound receiving skills have made him a solid all-around player despite Detroit's struggles. Last week, Jones caught six passes for 57 yards and a TD. Jones has already caught 37 passes for 266 yards, while he totaled only 289 receiving yards in his first two NFL seasons.
Also, Leon Washington has scored 39 points in his past three games, including 24 last week, and Travis Henry has scored 36 points in two games prior to last week's bye. Meanwhile, after he scored 25 points against the Bengals in Week 4, on the strength of two rushing TDs, rookie Laurence Maroney has scored only five points in his past two games. Maroney is suddenly struggling with his interior running, and should be benched until he starts breaking tackles with more consistency.
Wide Receivers
This season, it has become much more challenging to pinpoint who the elite receivers are in fantasy football. In a recent conversation with fantasy writer Tristan Cockcroft, we suddenly found ourselves halted after naming the top four wide receivers. We seemed to agree that Steve Smith, Torry Holt, Bernard Berrian and Roy Williams were the top four entering Week 7. But who was No. 5?
Was it Reggie Brown? Andre Johnson? After some careful reflection, we decided on Anquan Boldin. But who really are the best wide receivers in fantasy football right now? It's not easy to come up with a top five, and when making blockbuster trades, it's good to know who the best are. In terms of pure fantasy points, the current ESPN top five is Holt, Reggie Brown, Darrell Jackson, Laveranues Coles and Andre Johnson.
My top five after eight weeks?
Smith is now healthy and unstoppable again, and the clear No. 1. Holt is second, because no one is more dependable at such a high level. Berrian is my surprise third, as he can break the big play or make the tough catch for fine fantasy numbers. Williams is fourth, because he clearly is an elite wideout when healthy. And Boldin should gain a firm hold on fifth as Matt Leinart rebounds from an off week and he has a big game against Green Bay. But who is sixth? That becomes a battle between Reggie Brown and Andre Johnson, and a healthy Hines Ward could soon occupy the sixth spot for good. Feel free to send me your current top six WRs here and I'll publish some of the responses next week. Right now, I'll go with Brown, who is the top target for the outstanding Donovan McNabb.
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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 10/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/25/06)

Oct. 26, 2006, 1:31 PM
Week 8: 10 things to watch


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, I provide my list of 10 things I'm watching on game day, so you'll be prepared for some of the week's biggest developments in advance of them happening.
The Bears coming out of hibernation. For those of you who watched Chicago's Week 6 Monday Night game, you saw a team that for 43 minutes couldn't get anything done on either side of the ball, then for the final 17 minutes dominated only on defense. Say whatever you will about the defense's performance, but the offense, for 60 minutes, was miserable. Quarterback Rex Grossman completed only 14 of 37 passes (37.8 percent) for 148 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions, running back Thomas Jones ran 11 times for 39 yards (3.5 average) and the offense recorded only three points. Both Grossman and Jones are better than that, and with the bye week to think about it, they should be better facing another extremely favorable matchup against the 49ers, the league's bottom-ranked defense in points allowed (32.3 per game). Still, while it's easy to say that on paper, this is a no-brainer of a matchup, players like Grossman and Jones have to perform, not make the kinds of mistakes or bring the type of sloppy play they did in Week 6. I'd go ahead and activate them, as well as guys like Bernard Berrian, Muhsin Muhammad and Desmond Clark, figuring the Bears are destined to rebound, but if they don't, it's going to raise a huge number of questions about the team's offensive cogs looking forward.
Tony Romo's first career NFL start. Is it really fair to criticize Cowboys coach Bill Parcells for giving quarterback Drew Bledsoe a quick hook in Week 7? It was a division game in which Bledsoe looked awful -- as he has for much of the season -- and the Cowboys are starting to approach their make-or-break point. As a result, Romo gets the start this week in Carolina, a decision obviously designed to breathe new life into the team. Fantasy owners should steer far clear of Romo in his first couple of games under center, but how he performs is absolutely important to track. If you watched the Monday Night game, you saw how Romo can get his talented receivers the ball, even if he does look inexperienced and therefore mistake prone. He needs to keep doing that -- the getting his receivers the ball part -- but then again, I'd also say a guy like Terrell Owens needs to do a better job avoiding drops to ensure the offense continues to go smoothly. Watch that Dallas-Carolina game, because it'll reveal an awful lot about the future of the Cowboys' offense.
Ben Roethlisberger's health. It's a real shame that Roethlisberger suffered another concussion in the Week 7 game, because at the time, he was in the midst of an impressive hot streak, with five touchdowns compared to no interceptions in his past two games. It sounds like he could be able to play on Sunday in Oakland, and while everyone points to the Raiders' No. 1 ranking against the pass as well as Roethlisberger's questionable health as a reason to avoid him, I think this is a bit of an intriguing matchup if he gets the start. Whether you plan to use him or not, and I wouldn't be afraid to if I lacked a top-notch quarterback, keep an eye on how he bounces back from this latest setback. Remember, a lot of athletes have a much tougher time rebounding from second concussions than you think; it's awfully risky for teams to keep trotting these types out there to take the big hits.
The great Jay Cutler debate. Bledsoe lost his starting job in Week 7, and I'd say if there's a long-time starter who could get the hook in Week 8, the Broncos' Jake Plummer is as good a bet as any. When you think about it, the only reason he's still starting is that the team is winning, but if the Denver offense gets exposed at any point as not potent enough to keep pace with the better teams in the league, you know he's going to be the scapegoat. Indianapolis is an offense that could be the one that exposes Plummer as inadequate to lead these Broncos to postseason glory; after all, the Colts are going to be one of the Broncos' biggest contenders for the AFC championship come January. And for that reason, if there's any week I'd say the calls for Cutler could become a serious threat, this is the one.
Seattle's second-team offense. The Seahawks haven't been particularly lucky in the injury department this season, losing running back and defending MVP Shaun Alexander to a broken foot in Week 3 and now quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to a sprained knee in Week 7. You know how everyone points out how those Super Bowl runner-up teams seem to always miss the playoffs the following season? Well, one of the primary reasons for that trend is that a lot of those teams seem to battle comparable health issues, and when you lose two key players like this, it's tough, even for a team as deep as Seattle, to stay competitive. Seneca Wallace gets the start in Week 8, though he looked shaky in relief of Hasselbeck last Sunday, and whether he can keep getting the ball to Darrell Jackson and Deion Branch will ultimately determine whether the Seahawks provide much of anything to a fantasy owner until Alexander returns to 100 percent health. I'd keep every Seattle player not named Darrell Jackson reserved in Week 8 if possible, then keep tabs on how the team's second-string offense (it effectively is that now) performs against the Chiefs.
Power outage in San Diego? The Chargers are another team suffering through player absences, though in San Diego's case, they're not all health-related. LB Shawne Merriman is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's steroids policy, though he'll get to play the next two weeks while he appeals the ruling, while LB Shaun Phillips is out for at least the next two weeks with a calf injury. Fortunately for San Diego, it seems the two will at least get to scatter their absences, Phillips the next two weeks and Merriman the four games after that, but make no mistake, these are the kinds of things that could have quite an adverse effect on the team's performance. Kansas City racked up 134 yards and two scores on the ground in Week 7, though San Diego won't face a player of Larry Johnson's caliber every week. In Week 8, it's St. Louis and Steven Jackson battling the banged-up Chargers, which really isn't all that much better a matchup. Don't look at San Diego's defense as a must-play right now, and while it's still talented enough to consider if you lack a quality alternative, this is a real show-me game for the team.
Lord Byron's balky ankle. Those of you who caught Byron Leftwich's Week 7 performance against the Texans are well aware how shaky and erratic he looked as a passer, and it's hard to imagine he was actually playing the game at full health. Even coach Jack Del Rio admits to that now, and on Wednesday, Leftwich and backup David Garrard split reps in practice, a real worry for Leftwich owners because Garrard's the kind of player with the potential to overtake a less-than-healthy player and lock down the starting job for himself. Whoever starts isn't going to warrant fantasy consideration in Week 8 at Philadelphia, but it's a good game to get a read on whichever quarterback plays. Once Matt Jones returns to health, things should get a lot better for the Jacksonville passing game.
Time for takeoff. The Jets' Leon Washington has looked like the team's most effective runner in his limited action this season, with two 100-yard rushing efforts in his past three games, and two scores in Week 7 alone. Even though Kevan Barlow is still lurking to steal the goal-line carries, Washington is a player getting enough touches to be a useful matchups type, and there aren't many better than a Week 8 game against the Browns. This is a perfect chance for Washington to keep up the hot streak, making him a useful No. 2 RB option, and I'd pay special attention to how he's used in the red zone. If he can sneak in another score in such a situation, it might cement his status as the go-to guy all the time.
Losing his Edge? It's doubtful that Edgerrin James had any idea that life in Arizona would be anywhere near as difficult as this, but coming off a Week 6 performance in which he set an NFL record for most carries for a player who averaged under two yards per carry, and a Week 7 effort in which he managed a season-low 14 touches, his status as a useful fantasy option each week is really reaching its breaking point. A matchup at Green Bay, against the league's bottom-ranked defense, could cure what ails him, but it's still not going to change the fact that his porous offensive line creates few running lanes for him. Fortunately, Arizona's coaching staff knows it has to get James, such a key to the offense, the ball more than 14 times a week, especially with Dennis Green's job potentially on the line on Sunday. James will be the focus in this one, so this game should tell us a lot. Michael Vick at his peak. Surprisingly, Vick is coming off a career high in passing touchdowns (4) in Week 7 ... Come to think of it, that's really not all that surprising since he has been so much more effective as a runner in recent memory. Now the question is, was Vick's performance against the Steelers a sign of growth, or was it merely an aberration? I'd lean more towards the latter, but with Vick, it's really anyone's guess. He's so terribly inconsistent, which is why a game like his Week 8 assignment at Cincinnati is so important to track. Will he go right back to being a non-factor as a passer? Or will be repeat his solid effort and establish himself as a much more trustworthy weekly play? We shall see...
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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 10/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/25/06)

Oct. 26, 2006, 1:09 PM
Cockcroft: Week 8 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: Bills, Dolphins, Lions, Redskins.
<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>Tiki Barber, RB, Giants (TB): He has topped 100 yards rushing in three straight games, totaling 76 carries for 422 yards (5.6 per carry, 140.7 ypg) in those contests. And while he has yet to score a TD this season, he has averaged 144.8 scrimmage ypg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Broncos defense (IND): The Broncos have won 13 consecutive regular-season home games, averaging 11.0 points allowed in those contests. They also lead the NFL in fewest points allowed (7.3) and rank 4th in total defense (272.0 ypg). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Reggie Brown, WR, Eagles (JAC): He has a receiving TD in each of his past three games, totaling 14 receptions for 277 yards (19.8 per catch, 92.3 ypg) in those contests. He also has a TD catch in five of the seven games this season, averaging 69.9 receiving ypg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Travis Henry, RB, Titans (HOU): He has 51 carries for 301 yards (5.9 per carry, 150.5 ypg) and one TD in his last two games, both of which were 100-yard rushing efforts. He has 72 carries for 361 yards (5.0 per carry. 120.3 ypg) in his three starts this season. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Darrell Jackson, WR, Seahawks (@KC): He has five TDs in his past five games, totaling 28 receptions for 476 yards (17.0 per catch, 95.2 ypg) in those contests. He also has 3+ catches in each of his past 17 G (playoffs incl.), and 5+ receptions in 15 of those games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Andre Johnson, WR, Texans (@TEN): He has 8+ receptions in each of his past 4 games, totaling 37 receptions for 434 yards and two TDs in those contests. He also has eight 100-yard efforts in his past 12 games, averaging 6.8 catches and 85.0 yards during that span. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (JAC): He has 2+ passing TDs in each of his seven games this season, averaging 307.3 passing yards with 16 TDs and five interceptions for the season. He also has 12 carries for 124 yards (10.3 average) and three TDs in his past four games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (STL): He has two passing TDs in each of his past three games, totaling 842 yards, six TDs and two interceptions in those contests. Rivers also has a passing TD in each of his six games this season, and he's eighth in the league in passer rating (96.3). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers (@OAK): He has 2+ passing TDs in each of his past two games, completing a total of 32 of 41 pass attempts (78.0 percent) for 476 yards, five TDs and zero interceptions in those contests. He has 200+ passing yards in four straight games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Leon Washington, RB, Jets (@CLE): He has 100-yard rushing efforts in two of his past three games, totaling 54 carries for 288 yards (5.3 per carry, 96.0 ypg) and two TDs in those contests. He has also averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his last five games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: I have a feeling Barber, having announced his intentions to retire at season's end, is going to offer maximum effort each week for the remainder of the season. (I know, I know, who are we to think any player offers "less than maximum" effort in any game, but anyone who has ever played a sport has to know how it's possible for a player to step things up from peak level when he really wants.) In a game like the "Barber Bowl," Tiki should be particularly motivated for a great performance. ... An interesting note regarding the Colts-Broncos game: There are only three stadiums in which Colts QB Peyton Manning has played and not thrown a TD pass, and Denver's Invesco Field is one of them. In his two career starts there -- one was the Week 17 game in 2004 in which he barely played -- he has passed for 235 yards, no scores and one interception. It's something to keep in mind if that Colts offense is scaring you from using the Broncos' defense this week. ... This is a fine matchup for Henry, but I'd think about selling high on him afterward (if possible and if the offer's right). He'll get the Jaguars, Ravens and Eagles the three games after this one. ... Seahawks QB Seneca Wallace makes all of his team's receivers riskier fantasy plays, but he did target Jackson eight times after coming on in relief of the injured Matt Hasselbeck. That's encouraging enough to keep Jackson active in all formats. ... Roethlisberger's health -- he's recovering from a concussion -- should be closely monitored in advance of Sunday's game. It's a decent matchup for him, and with him finally seeming to get things straightened out, he'd be a useful option if cleared to play. </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>Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns (NYJ): He has 80 carries for 257 yards (3.2 per carry, 51.4 ypg) and one TD on the season. He also has 197 carries for 621 yards (3.2 per carry, 56.5 ypg) and one TD in his past 11 games, only once topping 100 rushing yards. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Bubba Franks, TE, Packers (ARI): He has only 12 receptions for 123 yards and zero TDs in six games this season, being targeted only 26 times in those contests. Also, in his past 11 games dating back to last season, he has 20 receptions for 188 yards and zero TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals (@GB): He has failed to average 4.0 yards per carry in any of his seven games this season, averaging 2.7 yards per carry and 61.7 ypg for the season. He also has 49 carries for only 89 yards (1.8 average) in his past two games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Brad Johnson, QB, Vikings (NE): He has averaged 216.5 passing yards with four TDs and four interceptions in six games this season, never topping 12 fantasy points in a single game so far. He also has three interceptions and three fumbles in his past three games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Keenan McCardell, WR, Chargers (STL): Though he's getting more throws sent his way of late, he still has failed to catch a TD pass in his past eight games. During that span, he has only 32 receptions for 338 yards (10.6 per catch, 42.3 ypg) and zero TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Steve McNair, QB, Ravens (@NO): He has averaged 109.0 passing yards with two TDs and six interceptions in his past three games, totaling 10 fantasy points in those contests. He has also averaged 168.7 passing yards with seven TDs and nine interceptions in his past 10 games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks (@KC): In his three games since taking over the starting job from Shaun Alexander, he has 51 carries for 158 yards (3.1 per carry, 52.7 ypg) and zero TDs. He has also averaged 3.0 yards per carry in his past 11 regular-season games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos (IND): He has averaged 139.0 passing yards with two TDs, three interceptions and a fumble in his past three games. He has also averaged 195.4 passing yards with 12 TDs and 14 interceptions in his past 16 games (playoffs incl.). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts (@DEN): Though he has three TDs in six games this season, he has only 92 carries for 299 yards (3.2 per carry, 49.8 ypg) in those contests. He has also averaged only 3.1 yards per carry and 30.4 scrimmage yards in his past 20 games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Troy Williamson, WR, Vikings (MIN): He has only nine receptions for 95 yards and zero TDs in his past four games, despite being targeted 24 times in those contests. He's also mired in a 16 game TD drought, during which time he has 34 receptions for 480 yards. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Both Droughns and James have favorable matchups this week, but their cold spells are disconcerting enough that neither should be considered more than a No. 2 option for Week 8. James should receive a heftier workload than his 13 carries from Week 7, but don't forget he has yet to manage a 100-yard game all season. ... Coming off a concussion, McNair is too risky to be considered in most fantasy leagues facing a tougher matchup than you'd expect in New Orleans. The Saints are a perfect 3-0 at the Superdome, have outscored their opponents, 74-48, there, and have held teams to only 185.7 passing ypg there. ... Plummer could easily be the next quarterback to get an early hook from his game, assuming the inconsistent Indianapolis defense frustrates him as much as most every other team has done to this point. Until he turns his season around, he should assume a cozy seat on your bench for the foreseeable future. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">HISTORY LESSON</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">The following players have tremendous recent track records against their scheduled opponents, making them more appealing fantasy options for this week.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Drew Bennett, WR, Titans (HOU): He has 5+ receptions in four of his past five games vs. the Texans, totaling 22 receptions for 311 yards and three TDs in those contests. He also has 18 receptions for 209 yards (11.6 per catch, 69.7 ypg) and two TDs in his last three home games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Marc Bulger, QB, Rams (@SD): He set career highs in both passing yards (453) and passing TDs (4) in his only career game vs. the Chargers (11/10/02). He has also averaged 271.0 passing yards with 23 TDs and 13 interceptions in 13 career games vs. AFC foes. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers (DAL): He has averaged 246.5 passing yards with six TDs and three interceptions in four career games vs. the Cowboys (playoffs incl.). He has also averaged 217.4 passing yards with 27 TDs and 16 interceptions in his past 19 home games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Ahman Green, RB, Packers (ARI): He has 238 scrimmage yards and one TD in his past two games vs. the Cardinals. He has also notched each of his last four 100-yard efforts in home games, averaging 108.4 scrimmage yards and 4.8 rushing yards per carry in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Rex Grossman, QB, Bears (SF): He's a perfect 3-0 in home games this season, completing 52 of 85 passes (61.2 percent) for 703 yards, eight TDs and zero interceptions in those contests. He has also topped a 100.0 passer rating in each of those games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Steven Jackson, RB, Rams (@SD): He has 100+ rushing yards in each of his past three games vs. AFC foes, totaling 72 carries for 410 yards (5.7 per carry, 136.7 ypg) and one TD in those contests. He also has five total TDs in his past nine road games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Bears (SF): He has two career three-TD games, and both came vs. the 49ers (12/18/99 and 11/14/04). He also has four 100-yard receiving efforts in 11 career games vs. the 49ers, totaling 65 receptions for 837 yards and nine TDs in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys (@CAR): He has nine TDs in 12 career games vs. the Panthers, totaling 58 receptions for 928 yards (16.0 per catch, 77.3 ypg) in those contests. In his past five games vs. the Panthers, he has 30 catches for 533 yards and four TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals (ATL): He has averaged 243.4 passing yards with 17 TDs and six interceptions in eight career games vs. NFC foes, with a 7-1 record in those contests. He also has 2+ passing TDs in five of his past six games against NFC teams. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars (@PHI): He has 120+ rushing yards in four of his past five games on the road vs. NFC foes, and has 100+ yards in seven of his past 13 games vs. NFC. In those 13 games, he has averaged 110.1 rushing yards and 127.7 scrimmage yards with four TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Leave their Week 7 performance aside, because the Texans' defense was facing a Jaguars QB, Byron Leftwich, who was hardly himself last week. The bottom line is that the Texans' secondary can make any team's passing game look good, which is why Bennett, and perhaps even Titans QB Vince Young, might be in line for solid efforts. ... This is an important game for the Bears' offense, coming off a shaky performance in Arizona the week before their bye. Grossman is a talented enough quarterback to capitalize on a favorable matchup, so go ahead and get all your Chicago players back into your active lineup. ... Bulger's and Jackson's numbers should help reinforce their status as must-starts even against the San Diego defense. Remember, the Chargers did struggle against the Chiefs in Week 7, perhaps a result of all their off-the-field distractions on the defensive side of the ball. </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): Jaguars at Eagles (60 percent), Buccaneers at Giants (60) and Jets at Browns (40). Each game could see mild wind. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Cold temperatures (40 degrees or lower): Cardinals at Packers could be in the mid-to-upper 30s; 49ers at Bears could be in the low 40s. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Hot temperatures (80 degrees or higher): None. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Weatherproof games (safest playing conditions): Ravens at Saints (Superdome), Patriots at Vikings (Metrodome). </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>John Carney, Saints (BAL): 61 G, 86.4 FGpct, 99.2 XPTpct, 8.07 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (@MIN): 1st career G indoors. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Ryan Longwell, Vikings (NE): 27 G, 86.7 FGpct, 98.4 XPTpct, 8.11 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Matt Stover, Ravens (@NO): 14 G, 75.0 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 4.71 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 4 New Articles Added 10/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/25/06)

Thursday, October 26, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Kicking Games


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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 -->For the most part, a strong crew of running backs and wide receivers should make your fantasy team a winner. You don't need a superstar quarterback, just a solid one, and you really can't depend on tight ends or defensive units for consistent production in most cases. The least important part of your lineup should be your kicker. Either you have a top one or you don't, and if you don't, you shouldn't drive yourself crazy trying to find that kicker who will help you win more consistently. He's not going to be on your free agent list.
You simply can't spend much time overanalyzing your kicker position or carrying two guys and fretting about the matchups each week. If someone has Robbie Gould or Jeff Wilkins, the two leading scores at their positions in ESPN leagues, they're likely not going to trade them away if all you can offer them is a lesser kicker in a package deal. A few kickers, like Gould and Wilkins, can win fantasy games for you if you have them. If you don't, you should be depending on the rest of your lineup or making moves to strengthen other positions. Guessing between Jay Feely and Josh Brown every week won't help much.
If you have two kickers of similar value, there's no reason to carry two of them, especially if one or both of their bye weeks have passed. Even if you don't have a top kicker, rotating them every week is not an answer if they have similar values. Playing the matchups with kickers is often not a highly useful exercise. You should stick with one guy the rest of the way if he has been giving you respectable production. It's often very tricky to predict when any middle-of-the-road kicker will have a big day.
Players like Feely and Shayne Graham stack up a lot of extra points when the quarterbacks on their teams get into a groove. Feely made only two field goals in his first three games and has eight in his past three. Trying to predict when he will get that 13-point day is a major challenge. If the Giants have a friendly matchup, that could mean more extra points and less field goals. And a tough matchup could mean limited possibilities for either field goals or extra points.
Even Gould, who leads all kickers with 80 points, will have his unpredictable off days. He totaled only six points, with just one field goal, against Arizona in his most recent game. And who would have thought that Gould would be the top kicker in fantasy football right now? If you have him, great for you. If you don't, there's nothing wrong with sticking with Dave Rayner or Ryan Longwell the rest of the way. As long as your kicker benefits from a decent offense, you should just plug him in for good for the rest of the season and worry more about the rest of your lineup. <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
Like the kicker position, tight ends can drive a fantasy owner crazy. If you don't have a top player, you're simply not going to get quality production, and anything you can get from the position can seem like a bonus. And if you don't have Antonio Gates or Todd Heap, it's going to be pretty difficult to try to land them in a package deal without sacrificing a very prominent player at another position. After all, the other owner is the one who will take the downgrade from Jeremy Shockey to Alex Smith, and is it really worth sacrificing a top RB or WR to get a player at a position in which even the best guys aren't fully dependable? I think not. Even Gates, the best player at the position, started the season slowly with three single-digit fantasy performances in ESPN leagues. Alge Crumpler is second overall in scoring at the position, yet needed a 29-point outburst last week to get there, his first double-digit performance of 2006. If you have to start Heath Miller or Benjamin Watson every week, and they are frustrating you, don't think that other owners aren't dealing with frustration as well. When you spend a high pick on Gates and he starts slowly, that's certainly frustrating. If you don't have an elite TE and need to rotate Jerramy Stevens and Owen Daniels, don't think that their lack of solid production is what is costing you wins. No one seems to get dependable production from the tight end position, and double-digit performances are simply bonuses that frame the performances of your running backs and wide receivers.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Donald Driver, WR, Packers
10 receptions, 91 yards, one TD

Driver has certainly adjusted well to the departure of Javon Walker, which has pushed him back into a prime role as a No. 1 target for Brett Favre. But with rookie Greg Jennings hindered with an ankle injury, and Robert Ferguson out, Driver is facing the prospects of being Favre's only dependable target this week, and even against the Cardinals, the situation will present challenges. Driver will certainly draw more defensive attention, and could face a lot of double-teaming this week. But he has been producing too well to bench him, especially against Arizona. There are always the possibilities of blown coverages and breakdowns in the Arizona secondary. And Favre certainly won't shy away from throwing into traffic, and will try to thread the ball into small windows to his best receiver. Driver might attract more attention from the Cardinals this week, but that doesn't mean Favre won't look in his direction much less. In fact, he could try to hook up with Driver even more than usual.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 7</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Chad Pennington, QB, Jets: Disappointing totals last week, but he's been reliable overall</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>189</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Wali Lundy, RB, Texans: Re-emerging as Houston's top RB, but has much more to prove</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>93</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>15</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>16</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>Javon Walker, WR, Broncos: Conservative gameplan is hurting his potentially excellent fantasy production. Only two TDs so far, both in one 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>9</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>107</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>13</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>10</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Reggie Kelly, TE, Bengals Don't expect him to be a consistent producer in the Cincinnati 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>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>34</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>5</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>9</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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


Trainer's Room
? Raiders RB LaMont Jordan (back) missed practice on Wednesday and is listed as questionable. Art Shell said he is unsure if Jordan will be able to play, and he will rotate Justin Fargas, Zack Crockett and ReShard Lee if Jordan is unable to go against Pittsburgh.
? Eagles TE L.J. Smith is listed as questionable. The team's official site reported that he participated in Wednesday morning's walk-through before missing the afternoon practice. Donte' Stallworth (hamstring) participated in a full practice and is listed as probable.
? Ravens QB Steve McNair (concussion) is listed as questionable, but he participated in a full practice on Wednesday and is expected to start against the Saints. ? 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 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Week 8 game by game


posted: :houra October 28, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


I received a trade offer the other day, and the other owner tried to convince me I should deal him Tatum Bell and Philip Rivers for Edgerrin James and<!--##FRONTSTOP##--> Reggie Bush. My first thought, after wondering if this guy actually believed this was my first time in a fantasy league, was to check the recent news. Who knows, maybe Edge got released by the Cards and the Colts took him back. Or maybe Deuce McAllister suddenly quit football, Bush scored two touchdowns last week and the Saints were facing the Temple defense this week.

I get odd trade offers all the time, some from people who don't know me, others from friends who think one of my kids is running the team. Regardless, one theme in the trade talks keeps coming up, and frankly, it's ridiculous.
"But this guy was my first round pick, so why isn't this fair?" Or, this one: "C'mon, Bell was like your ninth-round pick, your fifth running back, you don't need him!"
By Week 8 of the fantasy football season, your draft is likely two months in the rear view mirror, if not a lot more. Draft position couldn't be more irrelevant. Oh sure, it's fun to look back and see where players went, debate the top steals and busts, make fun of the guy who drafted Domanick Davis in round two, you know.
So why do people still use draft position as a tool to convince someone to make a trade? Honestly, I don't care in Week 1 where I drafted a player, let alone Week 8! It's my team, no matter how the parts all came together, be it in trade, keepers, drafting or finding free agents.
Unless you've been living in a cage, you're aware Tony Romo is starting for the Cowboys this weekend. But did you know Romo is the fourth active quarterback who will start this weekend to not be drafted? That's right, Romo was a free agent signing by Dallas, a diamond in the rough, though the jury is still out.
(By the way, isn't the whole notion that a guy who went undrafted is a nobody but someone who does get selected is so much better flawed? Tom Brady did get drafted, but few believed he'd be anything special. How many rounds are in the draft? Seven? Brady did get drafted, but there's no reason Romo can't succeed, just because that undrafted tag is on him. It is ludicrous. Marques Colston is another example. He was selected about four picks before the draft ended. He's having a terrific season. But the official draft difference between him and an undrafted guy is just a technicality.)
So Romo will start this weekend, along with Jake Delhomme, Jon Kitna and Damon Huard. None of them were drafted. But Ryan Leaf was. High. Real high. And just a few years ago, in the Eli-Rivers-Ben draft, J.P. Losman went in round one. But Delhomme, who has played in a Super Bowl, wasn't taken.
Just like real life draft status couldn't mean less once you join the team and start playing, fantasy football leagues are decided by actual statistics, not whether you trade for or accrue the most first-round picks. Among the top 12 in ESPN live drafts this season are Shaun Alexander, James, LaMont Jordan and Ronnie Brown. Brady was the No. 23 pick, so just outside round two. Meaningless. Your team would stink right now, stink on ice.
Anyway, Romo was undrafted. Losman was a first-round pick. You know who I'd rather have when both are playing (Losman is on bye this week)? It's probably Romo, the one who is about make his first-ever start.
And Bell was my ninth-round pick in that league. And Edge was the other guy's first pick, seventh overall. And you know what? I'll take Bell. Definitely.
On to all the Week 8 games:
Ravens 22, Saints 20: I know what these teams have looked like so far, but you know there are going to be upsets every week, I'm going to start with this one. The Ravens have won their past four games coming off byes, and Jamal Lewis has averaged 112 yards in his past three games indoors. Now, I realize these Ravens have lost two straight, but they were 4-0, thanks to their defense, and they can win this game. There's a reason the Saints, at home, are such a slight favorite; it's because the Ravens are a good team.
For Baltimore: Lewis began the season with 78, 70 and 86 yards. The last three games he's rushed for 34, 43 and 41 yards. I understand that alone makes you concerned about playing him, and yeah, I'd be surprised if he tops 100 yards in this one, but I'll use a similar reasoning I did on Ben Roethlisberger; his first three games he had to play at Jacksonville, vs. Cincy and at San Diego. Then he gets going. Lewis just had to face San Diego, Denver and Carolina. Was that easy? Just throwing that out there if you own Lewis and your No. 2 RB isn't special. As for other Ravens, McNair isn't necessarily a good play, nor are his receivers.
For New Orleans: Before you fire off that e-mail to me that Deuce didn't quit football (from the first paragraph), yes, I know. McAllister is not a great play this week, but if you own him, he's probably one of your top three running back options. As for Drew Brees, he could get the yards, just like Delhomme did a few weeks back. But there are far better options.
Giants 24, Buccaneers 10: The Barber twins meet again, and who knows, that might not happen again on the field. Will Ronde Barber have the same success against Eli Manning that he did against Donovan McNabb? Eli has been known to make mistakes, and McNabb has the second-best interception rate among active throwers. I don't expect Ronde to pick off Eli twice, let alone bring 'em back. The Giants torched the Dallas quarterbacks, now they get to meet a rookie. That's the key to the game.
For the Giants: Tiki enters the game with two fewer touchdowns than his brother. I'll give Tiki a score in this one and more than 100 yards rushing. Give Brandon Jacobs a touchdown as well, and Eli, who has the longest streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass, gets one. Hey, Peyton just had four touchdowns, when will Eli do the same? Not this week. But you still play him for the one or two scores and 220 yards.
For Tampa Bay: Carnell Williams might not be the best play, since the Giants have been stout against the run, but he should be able to get 70 yards. Only problem could be, like the Monday night Dallas game, the Bucs have to throw more and abandon the run. I would not play Bruce Gradkowski in this one. Joey Galloway should get decent numbers, though.
Eagles 30, Jaguars 10: I see a trend with Jacksonville. One is the road record, with three losses in three attempts, including the uncalled for 27-7 defeat in Houston. The other is, Byron Leftwich is hard to rely on, especially if he's not 100 percent healthy, which it looks like. Philly has a pass rush, and at 4-3, with three losses on the final play, look for a fast start, finally.
For Philly: Never sit McNabb, Brian Westbrook or, finally, Reggie Brown. The return of Donte' Stallworth could affect Brown, but don't read a ton into the first few games when Stallworth played. Really, both wide receivers can be successful.
For Jacksonville: Try to avoid Leftwich if possible. It's not just the matchup, or the injury. In three of his past four games he's failed to reach even 150 yards passing. And this isn't Michael Vick with the legs. Don't look for Fred Taylor to have a great day, either. [Editor's note: Since Eric wrote the blog, Leftwich has been ruled out for the game, and David Garrard will start. He doesn't come recommended either.]
Bears 31, 49ers 6: Sorry, fans of Alex Smith and Frank Gore, and no, I cannot explain that Monday night game, but this remains an unbeaten team playing at home against an inexperienced passer. I don't think it will be competitive.
For Chicago: Rex Grossman bounces back with a pair of touchdowns, one to Bernard Berrian, and both Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson find lots of room to run.
For San Francisco: Smith's going to be a good one, but not this week. And Gore ran all over Oakland in Week 5, but in three of his past four games he hasn't topped 65 yards. And there's no need to discuss the goal-line carries this week. Blowout.
Bengals 24, Falcons 17: I know Vick put on a show against a very good defense last week, but I want to see him do it on the road. He's always been better at home. He's going right back to his running ways this week. Carson Palmer isn't having a great season at all, but he's got a chance to throw a few touchdowns here. You know, Vick was great this past week. But the Pittsburgh quarterbacks threw five touchdown passes!
For Cincinnati: Palmer gets two touchdowns and 275 yards, and Chris Perry is more of a factor than he was the week before. Not a bad flex play, should get four or five receptions, and he might break one. Don't let that stop you from playing Rudi Johnson, however. And even if Chris Henry does play, don't sit Chad Johnson or T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
For Atlanta: I'd play Vick and Warrick Dunn as per normal, and expect Vick to do what he was doing before last week. Dunn has actually been more consistent. Other than Alge Crumpler, are there any other Falcons you'd want to play anyway?
Packers 27, Cardinals 20: So what's it going to be, Brett Favre, one of those game where you don't get picked off, or not? Favre has confined his five interceptions to three games, but really, he's had only two bad games. Last week wasn't terrific, with 206 yards, but no interceptions, two touchdowns, we'll take that. The bigger story is, can the Cardinals bounce back? Losing to the Bears the way they did is horrible, but that Raiders game might be worse. Plus, this franchise is 5-30 in its past 35 road tilts.
For Green Bay: Favre should do just fine against this defense. I mean, Andrew Walter did pretty well, why won't Favre? Figure on two touchdowns, 250 yards at least. Ahman Green comes off rushing for 118 yards, I'd figure he could do that again.
For Arizona: Matt Leinart was not good at Oakland, but I think he can throw for two touchdowns. The Packers are not nearly as bad defensively as people think, and yes, Leinart is a rookie, but he's a rookie who has four touchdown passes in the first quarter already. Now he just needs to do something in other quarters. As for Edgerrin James, by this point, don't you know what you're getting? Maybe instead of 30 yards rushing he gives you 75. And play Bryant Johnson along with Anquan Boldin, too.
Texans 19, Titans 14: I like the David Carr connection with Andre Johnson, and think it's going to do well in this one. Some people view Carr in a negative way, as his shiny passer rating is because his team normally trails. But Carr has helped fantasy owners, topping 200 yards in five of six games. Neither of these teams are very good, but someone has to win.
For Houston: Carr should top 200 yards, and Johnson has regularly been topping 100 yards. Be careful about Wali Lundy. I'd call him a decent play ordinarily, since the Titans allow the fourth-most fantasy points per game to running backs, but there's no guarantee Lundy is the main ball carrier.
For Tennessee: You know which team is the most forgiving against the run? Yep, it's Houston. Play Travis Henry. As for Vince Young, I know it's a favorable matchup, but don't play him, unless you want 175 yards.
Chiefs 24, Seahawks 21: I know the Chiefs are favored by more, and mainly because nobody trusts new Seattle quarterback Seneca Wallace. Would I play him in fantasy? Well, I wouldn't make him a top play, but there are other QBs I'd rank below him. Huard has been impressive, and he sat on NFL benches for years. I think this is going to be a close game.
For Kansas City: Huard could get a touchdown or two, but his main job is to hand off to Larry Johnson. If Chester Taylor can break off a 95-yarder, Johnson can, too. I sometimes play Eddie Kennison in the league I have him in, but he's not a safe No. 2 receiver.
For Seattle: Wallace is going to surprise people, just a hunch. Maurice Morris will not, and it's more of a hunch. Play Darrell Jackson, and Deion Branch as well. Seattle will move the ball.
Chargers 31, Rams 28: High-scoring game similar to what these teams did the last time they played. Really, I know San Diego has a nice defense, but who's going to sit three of the top players in fantasy, Marc Bulger, Steven Jackson and Torry Holt?
For San Diego: Play Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson, of course, but not Michael Turner. Just not enough carries the past few weeks. Keenan McCardell could be a decent No. 3 receiver, even though his season hasn't been impressive.
For St. Louis: They'll move the ball. Play Isaac Bruce, too.
Jets 24, Browns 14: I like the Jets. No, they haven't beaten a good team yet (Tennessee, Buffalo, Miami, Detroit) but hey, Cleveland's not a good team either. I'm surprised the Browns are favored.
For Jets: Chad Pennington last topped 200 yards in Week 4, but he should be worth a touchdown, possibly two. Leon Washington needs to be in fantasy lineups. He's topped 100 yards rushing in two of the past three games. But Kevan Barlow, with five touchdowns this season, remains a flex option, even without the yards. Also, Laveranues Coles has to play each week in fantasy. Jerricho Cotchery, not so much.
For Cleveland: Can't recommend any Browns this week. Charlie Frye makes too many mistakes. Braylon Edwards hasn't done much lately. Reuben Droughns has topped 65 yards rushing only once. Sit 'em all.
Colts 20, Broncos 10: The ride ends for Jake Plummer and his Broncos this week. I know Denver doesn't give up touchdowns, but this is Peyton Manning we're talking about. Lost in this Bronco lovefest are two facts: One, Plummer has played horribly, and this could become the Dallas QB situation fast. Two, the Broncos haven't exactly shut down good offenses. The past three weeks it's been the Ravens, Raiders and Browns. Yuck.
For Indy: Ignore the team the Colts are playing. Manning never sits, nor do those wide receivers. And I'd use Joseph Addai as well. This might be the game that cements him as the No. 1 back.
For Denver: Tatum Bell plays, and should get decent yardage, but don't view Indy as an easy team to run against. The Colts have had a bye week to figure things out, and they acquired Anthony McFarland to clog the middle. Bell gets 75 yards and possibly the Denver score, but nothing bigger.
Steelers 23, Raiders 7: Bounce back game for the Steelers defense, as it shuts down the Oakland running game and Andrew Walter. Walter is not Michael Vick.
For Pittsburgh: Fast Willie Parker has really been inconsistent. Three games over 100 yards, and the other three have been 20, 57 and 47 yards. This game will be one of the good ones. And no matter who the Steelers QB is, I'd play them. Yep, go with Ben Roethlisberger.
For Oakland: Doesn't much matter to me if LaMont Jordan does play, I wouldn't use him against the Steelers. Randy Moss is the only Raider to play here, figure on 70 yards, maybe he gets the touchdown. That's about it.
Cowboys 31, Panthers 24: Surprise! I'm actually on the Tony Romo bandwagon this week, to some degree. Why can't Romo have success? He's in the league for a reason. He's got weapons. He's got a running game. And he's got all week to prepare, get snaps, meet his teammates. How many QBs can enter a game at halftime and have success? Didn't seem fair. This Sunday night, Bill Parcells will look like a genius.
For Dallas: I think Romo's advantage will be in avoiding the mistakes Drew Bledsoe made. I know, I know, Romo made brutal interceptions against the Giants. This game his goal is safer passes, some rollouts, and Julius Jones and Marion Barber pound the ball. Play both of them, expecting Jones to top 100 yards and Barber to reach the end zone, as well as both Dallas wide receivers to catch meaningful passes from Romo. No, really.
For Carolina: DeShaun Foster should approach 100 yards as well, and Delhomme is a reasonably safe play this week, and most weeks. Play both Carolina receivers as well. Keyshawn Johnson is the type who should step up against his former team.
Patriots 20, Vikings 13: Close game on "Monday Night Football", with Tom Brady leading his team from behind with a few touchdown passes. Don't bet on either running game doing all that much. I trust Bill Belichick to make sure Chester Taylor doesn't do that to his team.
For New England: I'd expect Brady to top 200 yards, which he hasn't done since Week 3, and Doug Gabriel and Chad Jackson to get key catches, maybe each scores a touchdown again. As for the running game, Laurence Maroney has not run the ball well the past two weeks, and Corey Dillon really hasn't done much all season except score. He's no Kevan Barlow, but check the comparison, it's not as large as one would think.
For Minnesota: Taylor needs to play, of course, and he should have a decent game, but remember, subtract that 95-yarder and last week wasn't really last week. Don't use any other Vikings; Brad Johnson is just not worth it. OK, best of luck this weekend, we'll be back on Sunday morning with late-breaking news, a chat, a blog, and a partridge in a pear tree.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Oct. 28, 2006, 5:27 PM
Carroll: Roethlisberger, Huard and Alexander


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By Will Carroll
ESPN.com

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Fantasy football isn't very sophisticated if compared to investing, but there are lessons to learn from the money managers. If you think of your team like an investment portfolio, you might get some new ideas on how to win. For me, injuries and health make risk management a key to roster management. Others might disagree, preferring to concentrate on the on-field matchups or projections. The broad overview you can gain by absorbing all the information you can and distilling it through your fantasy mind is not just an advantage anymore; you have to do it just to keep up. As fantasy football moves towards a more sophisticated model with everything from variations on portfolio theory to hedging, injury analysis has to be a big part of your weekly assessment. Don't overlook anything on your way to a championship.
Let's get to the injuries:
Concussions are confusing injuries. At heart, they are a very simple trauma to the brain, one with largely accepted consequences, timetables, and tests. If you read Peter Keating's brilliant piece in this week's ESPN The Magazine, you'll know that "largely accepted" is the money phrase. Football players put themselves out on the field with a known risk and hanging around players for very long will show you that they're the worst offenders for forcing themselves back onto the field after an injury. I hope that my concerns for Ben Roethlisberger are overblown. He's a proven quick healer, plays well upon return, and according to Ron Jaworski, he gives the Steelers a significantly better chance for winning. Given that the Steelers have one of the top medical staffs in the league and that Roethlisberger has passed every test, medical and field-level, so far, it's hard to make a convincing argument against Roethlisberger taking the field. I just worry, much like I will when Trent Green comes back, that each next hit might end up the last hit of their career. The Steelers also get Joey Porter back this week after missing a couple games with a hamstring strain. He should help a defense that looked exposed last week against the Falcons turn back into a fantasy option.
There's late news that Damon Huard has a strained groin and is unlikely to play on Sunday. Huard has been solid in relief of Green -- who's still a couple weeks away but looking good in practice -- so this injury would put rookie Brodie Croyle on the spot. This isn't as bad as it sounds. First, Huard could respond to rest and treatment over the 48 hours before the game. He'll move into the training room and see what transpires. I'll have more on this as we get more details. This is probably the lead on Sunday's Med Check.
Rudi Johnson has been running more like Rudy Huxtable lately. Could a lingering back injury be the problem? He missed practice this week but looks to be ready to play. There's no real details that I've been able to dredge up on the back -- where? when? how? -- so we'll work in the abstract. I'd expect Chris Perry to see more touches as he works his way towards a timeshare while Marvin Lewis continues to give Johnson chances to re-establish himself as the feature back. That's a fantasy landmine, much like the return of Chris Henry. You're taking a big chance of a playing zero with any of these on your active roster.
Shaun Alexander has said for a while that he's felt ready to play. He's been running on a treadmill this week, but the big test is likely to come next week. Assuming he is medically cleared after yet another set of "pictures" as Mike Holmgren calls them, Alexander will be back at practice next week and could play in a game as soon as Week 9. The Seahawks have also been encouraged by the progress made by Bobby Engram. It looks as if the medication for his thyroid condition is helping and he could be available as soon as next week.
The dreaded turf toe is attacking the Broncos. Heading into a big AFC game with the Colts, Tatum Bell is worried more about making sure that the toe doesn't get worse than he is with trying to run over the porous Colts defense. Bell is likely to lose some touches to that other Bell, Mike Bell, though the toe doesn't figure to limit him greatly. It's tough to tell what Mike Shanahan might do and in combination with the injury factor, Tatum Bell is now a riskier play than most expected on what should be a very good matchup week for the RB.
You could ask Roethlisberger what he thinks of the Falcons rush without John Abraham, but I'm not sure he remembers much of it. Abraham has been limited much of the season, but depth and system allows the Falcons to adjust. After surgery to repair an abdominal wall tear, something directly related to the groin problems that have slowed him much of the season, Abraham will miss a couple more weeks but gains some certainty that he will be able to return this season with effectiveness. He's out a minimum of three weeks after the "minor" surgery. Bumps and Bruises: The Eagles have Donte' Stallworth in this week's gameplan, but as a fantasy option, he's still very risky. Not only could he have a setback with the hamstring, he hasn't proven that he's back to being the No. 1 option yet. ? Larry Fitzgerald won't be back until after the bye. It's a smart, safe play. ?Greg Jennings has a small chance to play this week, but he's a sure thing for next week. ? The Colts are coming and going -- Mike Doss is on the IR, but they get Bob Sanders back to try and stop the Denver running attack. ?David Givens had the pin removed from his thumb this week and could play. It's more likely that he'll be back in the mix for next week. ?Don't expect Osi Umenyiora on the field for Sunday's game. The hip flexor has kept him off the practice field through today. The Giants will have Plaxico Burress available despite yet another injury, this time to his heel.
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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 10/26/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

October 28, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Stopgap Seven: Week 8


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=762 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=552><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->The rough-and-tumble NFL can take a toll on your fantasy team's depth, so if you're looking particularly thin at a position, consider the following players who are a little more under-the-radar as starters. (I'll list my Stopgap Seven each Friday all season.)
Cedric Benson, RB, Bears (SF): He's once again being hyped, and is expected to get more work in the offense this week. This could be one of those games in which the team gets 40 total carries, which would be plenty for Benson to rack up sneaky numbers.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets (@CLE): He has been up-and-down all season, but is still an integral part of New York's underrated pass attack. Laveranues Coles' calf could limit him this week, in which case Cotchery should capitalize with extra throws sent his way.
Charlie Frye, QB, Browns (NYJ): The Jets' defense, at least statistically, appears softer against the run, but with Chad Pennington capable of racking up points for New York, Frye's going to need to throw often to keep pace. He shouldn't have many problems.
Bryant Johnson, WR, Cardinals (@GB): Since Matt Leinart took over as Arizona's quarterback, Johnson has 11 receptions for 186 yards and a score. He's getting plenty of work with Larry Fitzgerald out, and now he battles the Packers' bottom-ranked secondary.
Wali Lundy, RB, Texans (@TEN): The starting job in Houston is once again all his, and facing the Titans' bottom-ranked rush defense, he has to realize this is his chance to excel and lock down the role permanently. Expect him to be more than up to the task.
Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Bears (SF): He hasn't been nearly as accomplished a fantasy factor since his career year in Carolina in 2004, but he's still capable of offering useful numbers facing weaker defenses. It's a fine matchup for him to nab several catches.
Saints defense (BAL): The Saints don't strike many as a reliable defense, but this is a fine matchup. New Orleans ranks eighth in the league in points per game allowed at home (16.0), while Baltimore's offense is 20th in points per game scored on the road (15.0). <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 8 ? Byron Leftwich, QB, Jaguars (@PHI): His ankle is limiting him and there's a good chance we'll actually see some of David Garrard this week. Leftwich is a less-than-100 percent quarterback facing the league's leading defense in sacks (25), which means nothing but bad news. ? Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos (IND): If the Colts mount an early lead and Plummer can't keep up, Jay Cutler could actually see some time in this game. Indianapolis' defense ranks No. 3 against the pass. ? LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders (PIT): His cranky back is destined to bother him whether he plays or not, and there's no way you should be using a nicked-up back against the Steelers' ninth-ranked rush defense. ? Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks (@KC): The matchup looks fine on paper, but with the untested Seneca Wallace starting at quarterback, things could be awfully shaky for the entire Seattle offense in a road game at Kansas City. ? Antonio Bryant, WR, 49ers (@CHI): It's not so much his potential or his matchup specifically that makes him unappealing. What does is the fact that the Chicago defense should put QB Alex Smith under constant pressure, making it awfully tough for him to locate Bryant often enough to make a big impact. ? Falcons defense (@CIN): The Falcons usually do a good job putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but if Week 7 was any indication, the team's not in peak form right now. The Steelers tore up this defense through the air, whether it was Ben Roethlisberger or Charlie Batch, and this Bengals offense is a bit deeper than Pittsburgh's.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Michael Vick, QB, Falcons
18-for-30 passing, 232 yards, 4 TDs, 2 interceptions

Could there be a more frustrating fantasy option than Vick? He's so terribly inconsistent as a passer, with his Week 7 performance representing a career high in passing touchdowns (4), but in the three games before that, he averaged 148.0 passing yards and failed to complete a TD pass. Last week, no one seemed to believe in Vick as a fantasy option against the Steelers, and he excelled. This week, fantasy owners could be back on the bandwagon, but will he reward their faith or continue to confound those who still believe in him as a potential top-10 quarterback? A matchup at Cincinnati, against the 13th-ranked Bengals pass defense, one that has more interceptions (9) than touchdowns allowed (7), might seem a bit threatening on paper, but I'd argue Vick's worth the gamble for this one. Cincinnati's defense is a bit banged up, and it's not particularly good at reining in tight ends, ranking second-worst in the league in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. (In total, the Bengals have surrendered 31 receptions for 272 yards and four touchdowns to tight ends in six games.) Vick shouldn't have any problem locating Alge Crumpler once again, and when that connection is going well, he's a good play in fantasy.
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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 10/26/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Oct. 28, 2006, 4:01 PM
Week 8: 10 things to watch


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

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Each week, I provide my list of 10 things I'm watching on game day, so you'll be prepared for some of the week's biggest developments in advance of them happening.
The Bears coming out of hibernation. For those of you who watched Chicago's Week 6 Monday Night game, you saw a team that for 43 minutes couldn't get anything done on either side of the ball, then for the final 17 minutes dominated only on defense. Say whatever you will about the defense's performance, but the offense, for 60 minutes, was miserable. Quarterback Rex Grossman completed only 14 of 37 passes (37.8 percent) for 148 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions, running back Thomas Jones ran 11 times for 39 yards (3.5 average) and the offense recorded only three points. Both Grossman and Jones are better than that, and with the bye week to think about it, they should be better facing another extremely favorable matchup against the 49ers, the league's bottom-ranked defense in points allowed (32.3 per game). Still, while it's easy to say that on paper, this is a no-brainer of a matchup, players like Grossman and Jones have to perform, not make the kinds of mistakes or bring the type of sloppy play they did in Week 6. I'd go ahead and activate them, as well as guys like Bernard Berrian, Muhsin Muhammad and Desmond Clark, figuring the Bears are destined to rebound, but if they don't, it's going to raise a huge number of questions about the team's offensive cogs looking forward.
Tony Romo's first career NFL start. Is it really fair to criticize Cowboys coach Bill Parcells for giving quarterback Drew Bledsoe a quick hook in Week 7? It was a division game in which Bledsoe looked awful -- as he has for much of the season -- and the Cowboys are starting to approach their make-or-break point. As a result, Romo gets the start this week in Carolina, a decision obviously designed to breathe new life into the team. Fantasy owners should steer far clear of Romo in his first couple of games under center, but how he performs is absolutely important to track. If you watched the Monday Night game, you saw how Romo can get his talented receivers the ball, even if he does look inexperienced and therefore mistake prone. He needs to keep doing that -- the getting his receivers the ball part -- but then again, I'd also say a guy like Terrell Owens needs to do a better job avoiding drops to ensure the offense continues to go smoothly. Watch that Dallas-Carolina game, because it'll reveal an awful lot about the future of the Cowboys' offense.
Ben Roethlisberger's health. It's a real shame that Roethlisberger suffered another concussion in the Week 7 game, because at the time, he was in the midst of an impressive hot streak, with five touchdowns compared to no interceptions in his past two games. It sounds like he could be able to play on Sunday in Oakland, and while everyone points to the Raiders' No. 1 ranking against the pass as well as Roethlisberger's questionable health as a reason to avoid him, I think this is a bit of an intriguing matchup if he gets the start. Whether you plan to use him or not, and I wouldn't be afraid to if I lacked a top-notch quarterback, keep an eye on how he bounces back from this latest setback. Remember, a lot of athletes have a much tougher time rebounding from second concussions than you think; it's awfully risky for teams to keep trotting these types out there to take the big hits.
The great Jay Cutler debate. Bledsoe lost his starting job in Week 7, and I'd say if there's a long-time starter who could get the hook in Week 8, the Broncos' Jake Plummer is as good a bet as any. When you think about it, the only reason he's still starting is that the team is winning, but if the Denver offense gets exposed at any point as not potent enough to keep pace with the better teams in the league, you know he's going to be the scapegoat. Indianapolis is an offense that could be the one that exposes Plummer as inadequate to lead these Broncos to postseason glory; after all, the Colts are going to be one of the Broncos' biggest contenders for the AFC championship come January. And for that reason, if there's any week I'd say the calls for Cutler could become a serious threat, this is the one.
Seattle's second-team offense. The Seahawks haven't been particularly lucky in the injury department this season, losing running back and defending MVP Shaun Alexander to a broken foot in Week 3 and now quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to a sprained knee in Week 7. You know how everyone points out how those Super Bowl runner-up teams seem to always miss the playoffs the following season? Well, one of the primary reasons for that trend is that a lot of those teams seem to battle comparable health issues, and when you lose two key players like this, it's tough, even for a team as deep as Seattle, to stay competitive. Seneca Wallace gets the start in Week 8, though he looked shaky in relief of Hasselbeck last Sunday, and whether he can keep getting the ball to Darrell Jackson and Deion Branch will ultimately determine whether the Seahawks provide much of anything to a fantasy owner until Alexander returns to 100 percent health. I'd keep every Seattle player not named Darrell Jackson reserved in Week 8 if possible, then keep tabs on how the team's second-string offense (it effectively is that now) performs against the Chiefs.
Power outage in San Diego? The Chargers are another team suffering through player absences, though in San Diego's case, they're not all health-related. LB Shawne Merriman is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's steroids policy, though he'll get to play the next two weeks while he appeals the ruling, while LB Shaun Phillips is out for at least the next two weeks with a calf injury. Fortunately for San Diego, it seems the two will at least get to scatter their absences, Phillips the next two weeks and Merriman the four games after that, but make no mistake, these are the kinds of things that could have quite an adverse effect on the team's performance. Kansas City racked up 134 yards and two scores on the ground in Week 7, though San Diego won't face a player of Larry Johnson's caliber every week. In Week 8, it's St. Louis and Steven Jackson battling the banged-up Chargers, which really isn't all that much better a matchup. Don't look at San Diego's defense as a must-play right now, and while it's still talented enough to consider if you lack a quality alternative, this is a real show-me game for the team.
Lord Byron's balky ankle. Those of you who caught Byron Leftwich's Week 7 performance against the Texans are well aware how shaky and erratic he looked as a passer, and it's hard to imagine he was actually playing the game at full health. Even coach Jack Del Rio admits to that now, and on Wednesday, Leftwich and backup David Garrard split reps in practice, a real worry for Leftwich owners because Garrard's the kind of player with the potential to overtake a less-than-healthy player and lock down the starting job for himself. Whoever starts isn't going to warrant fantasy consideration in Week 8 at Philadelphia, but it's a good game to get a read on whichever quarterback plays. Once Matt Jones returns to health, things should get a lot better for the Jacksonville passing game.
(Friday Note: David Garrard has been named the Jaguars' starter for Sunday, giving him his first chance to show what he can do at the helm of the team's passing game. He's every bit as worthwhile to watch as Leftwich might have been, but steer clear of your members of the Jaguars passing game facing the shaky matchup.)
Time for takeoff. The Jets' Leon Washington has looked like the team's most effective runner in his limited action this season, with two 100-yard rushing efforts in his past three games, and two scores in Week 7 alone. Even though Kevan Barlow is still lurking to steal the goal-line carries, Washington is a player getting enough touches to be a useful matchups type, and there aren't many better than a Week 8 game against the Browns. This is a perfect chance for Washington to keep up the hot streak, making him a useful No. 2 RB option, and I'd pay special attention to how he's used in the red zone. If he can sneak in another score in such a situation, it might cement his status as the go-to guy all the time.
Losing his Edge? It's doubtful that Edgerrin James had any idea that life in Arizona would be anywhere near as difficult as this, but coming off a Week 6 performance in which he set an NFL record for most carries for a player who averaged under two yards per carry, and a Week 7 effort in which he managed a season-low 14 touches, his status as a useful fantasy option each week is really reaching its breaking point. A matchup at Green Bay, against the league's bottom-ranked defense, could cure what ails him, but it's still not going to change the fact that his porous offensive line creates few running lanes for him. Fortunately, Arizona's coaching staff knows it has to get James, such a key to the offense, the ball more than 14 times a week, especially with Dennis Green's job potentially on the line on Sunday. James will be the focus in this one, so this game should tell us a lot. Michael Vick at his peak. Surprisingly, Vick is coming off a career high in passing touchdowns (4) in Week 7 ... Come to think of it, that's really not all that surprising since he has been so much more effective as a runner in recent memory. Now the question is, was Vick's performance against the Steelers a sign of growth, or was it merely an aberration? I'd lean more towards the latter, but with Vick, it's really anyone's guess. He's so terribly inconsistent, which is why a game like his Week 8 assignment at Cincinnati is so important to track. Will he go right back to being a non-factor as a passer? Or will be repeat his solid effort and establish himself as a much more trustworthy weekly play? We shall see...
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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 10/26/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Oct. 28, 2006, 9:10 AM
Cockcroft: Week 8 Statbook


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

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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: Bills, Dolphins, Lions, Redskins.
<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>Tiki Barber, RB, Giants (TB): He has topped 100 yards rushing in three straight games, totaling 76 carries for 422 yards (5.6 per carry, 140.7 ypg) in those contests. And while he has yet to score a TD this season, he has averaged 144.8 scrimmage ypg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Broncos defense (IND): The Broncos have won 13 consecutive regular-season home games, averaging 11.0 points allowed in those contests. They also lead the NFL in fewest points allowed (7.3) and rank 4th in total defense (272.0 ypg). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Reggie Brown, WR, Eagles (JAC): He has a receiving TD in each of his past three games, totaling 14 receptions for 277 yards (19.8 per catch, 92.3 ypg) in those contests. He also has a TD catch in five of the seven games this season, averaging 69.9 receiving ypg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Travis Henry, RB, Titans (HOU): He has 51 carries for 301 yards (5.9 per carry, 150.5 ypg) and one TD in his last two games, both of which were 100-yard rushing efforts. He has 72 carries for 361 yards (5.0 per carry. 120.3 ypg) in his three starts this season. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Darrell Jackson, WR, Seahawks (@KC): He has five TDs in his past five games, totaling 28 receptions for 476 yards (17.0 per catch, 95.2 ypg) in those contests. He also has 3+ catches in each of his past 17 G (playoffs incl.), and 5+ receptions in 15 of those games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Andre Johnson, WR, Texans (@TEN): He has 8+ receptions in each of his past 4 games, totaling 37 receptions for 434 yards and two TDs in those contests. He also has eight 100-yard efforts in his past 12 games, averaging 6.8 catches and 85.0 yards during that span. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (JAC): He has 2+ passing TDs in each of his seven games this season, averaging 307.3 passing yards with 16 TDs and five interceptions for the season. He also has 12 carries for 124 yards (10.3 average) and three TDs in his past four games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (STL): He has two passing TDs in each of his past three games, totaling 842 yards, six TDs and two interceptions in those contests. Rivers also has a passing TD in each of his six games this season, and he's eighth in the league in passer rating (96.3). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers (@OAK): He has 2+ passing TDs in each of his past two games, completing a total of 32 of 41 pass attempts (78.0 percent) for 476 yards, five TDs and zero interceptions in those contests. He has 200+ passing yards in four straight games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Leon Washington, RB, Jets (@CLE): He has 100-yard rushing efforts in two of his past three games, totaling 54 carries for 288 yards (5.3 per carry, 96.0 ypg) and two TDs in those contests. He has also averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his last five games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: I have a feeling Barber, having announced his intentions to retire at season's end, is going to offer maximum effort each week for the remainder of the season. (I know, I know, who are we to think any player offers "less than maximum" effort in any game, but anyone who has ever played a sport has to know how it's possible for a player to step things up from peak level when he really wants.) In a game like the "Barber Bowl," Tiki should be particularly motivated for a great performance. ... An interesting note regarding the Colts-Broncos game: There are only three stadiums in which Colts QB Peyton Manning has played and not thrown a TD pass, and Denver's Invesco Field is one of them. In his two career starts there -- one was the Week 17 game in 2004 in which he barely played -- he has passed for 235 yards, no scores and one interception. It's something to keep in mind if that Colts offense is scaring you from using the Broncos' defense this week. ... This is a fine matchup for Henry, but I'd think about selling high on him afterward (if possible and if the offer's right). He'll get the Jaguars, Ravens and Eagles the three games after this one. ... Seahawks QB Seneca Wallace makes all of his team's receivers riskier fantasy plays, but he did target Jackson eight times after coming on in relief of the injured Matt Hasselbeck. That's encouraging enough to keep Jackson active in all formats. ... Roethlisberger's health -- he's recovering from a concussion -- should be closely monitored in advance of Sunday's game. It's a decent matchup for him, and with him finally seeming to get things straightened out, he'd be a useful option if cleared to play. </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>Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns (NYJ): He has 80 carries for 257 yards (3.2 per carry, 51.4 ypg) and one TD on the season. He also has 197 carries for 621 yards (3.2 per carry, 56.5 ypg) and one TD in his past 11 games, only once topping 100 rushing yards. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Bubba Franks, TE, Packers (ARI): He has only 12 receptions for 123 yards and zero TDs in six games this season, being targeted only 26 times in those contests. Also, in his past 11 games dating back to last season, he has 20 receptions for 188 yards and zero TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals (@GB): He has failed to average 4.0 yards per carry in any of his seven games this season, averaging 2.7 yards per carry and 61.7 ypg for the season. He also has 49 carries for only 89 yards (1.8 average) in his past two games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Brad Johnson, QB, Vikings (NE): He has averaged 216.5 passing yards with four TDs and four interceptions in six games this season, never topping 12 fantasy points in a single game so far. He also has three interceptions and three fumbles in his past three games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Keenan McCardell, WR, Chargers (STL): Though he's getting more throws sent his way of late, he still has failed to catch a TD pass in his past eight games. During that span, he has only 32 receptions for 338 yards (10.6 per catch, 42.3 ypg) and zero TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Steve McNair, QB, Ravens (@NO): He has averaged 109.0 passing yards with two TDs and six interceptions in his past three games, totaling 10 fantasy points in those contests. He has also averaged 168.7 passing yards with seven TDs and nine interceptions in his past 10 games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks (@KC): In his three games since taking over the starting job from Shaun Alexander, he has 51 carries for 158 yards (3.1 per carry, 52.7 ypg) and zero TDs. He has also averaged 3.0 yards per carry in his past 11 regular-season games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos (IND): He has averaged 139.0 passing yards with two TDs, three interceptions and a fumble in his past three games. He has also averaged 195.4 passing yards with 12 TDs and 14 interceptions in his past 16 games (playoffs incl.). </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts (@DEN): Though he has three TDs in six games this season, he has only 92 carries for 299 yards (3.2 per carry, 49.8 ypg) in those contests. He has also averaged only 3.1 yards per carry and 30.4 scrimmage yards in his past 20 games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Troy Williamson, WR, Vikings (MIN): He has only nine receptions for 95 yards and zero TDs in his past four games, despite being targeted 24 times in those contests. He's also mired in a 16 game TD drought, during which time he has 34 receptions for 480 yards. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Both Droughns and James have favorable matchups this week, but their cold spells are disconcerting enough that neither should be considered more than a No. 2 option for Week 8. James should receive a heftier workload than his 13 carries from Week 7, but don't forget he has yet to manage a 100-yard game all season. ... Coming off a concussion, McNair is too risky to be considered in most fantasy leagues facing a tougher matchup than you'd expect in New Orleans. The Saints are a perfect 3-0 at the Superdome, have outscored their opponents, 74-48, there, and have held teams to only 185.7 passing ypg there. ... Plummer could easily be the next quarterback to get an early hook from his game, assuming the inconsistent Indianapolis defense frustrates him as much as most every other team has done to this point. Until he turns his season around, he should assume a cozy seat on your bench for the foreseeable future. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD width="100%">HISTORY LESSON</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="100%">The following players have tremendous recent track records against their scheduled opponents, making them more appealing fantasy options for this week.</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Drew Bennett, WR, Titans (HOU): He has 5+ receptions in four of his past five games vs. the Texans, totaling 22 receptions for 311 yards and three TDs in those contests. He also has 18 receptions for 209 yards (11.6 per catch, 69.7 ypg) and two TDs in his last three home games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Marc Bulger, QB, Rams (@SD): He set career highs in both passing yards (453) and passing TDs (4) in his only career game vs. the Chargers (11/10/02). He has also averaged 271.0 passing yards with 23 TDs and 13 interceptions in 13 career games vs. AFC foes. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers (DAL): He has averaged 246.5 passing yards with six TDs and three interceptions in four career games vs. the Cowboys (playoffs incl.). He has also averaged 217.4 passing yards with 27 TDs and 16 interceptions in his past 19 home games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Ahman Green, RB, Packers (ARI): He has 238 scrimmage yards and one TD in his past two games vs. the Cardinals. He has also notched each of his last four 100-yard efforts in home games, averaging 108.4 scrimmage yards and 4.8 rushing yards per carry in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Rex Grossman, QB, Bears (SF): He's a perfect 3-0 in home games this season, completing 52 of 85 passes (61.2 percent) for 703 yards, eight TDs and zero interceptions in those contests. He has also topped a 100.0 passer rating in each of those games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Steven Jackson, RB, Rams (@SD): He has 100+ rushing yards in each of his past three games vs. AFC foes, totaling 72 carries for 410 yards (5.7 per carry, 136.7 ypg) and one TD in those contests. He also has five total TDs in his past nine road games. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Bears (SF): He has two career three-TD games, and both came vs. the 49ers (12/18/99 and 11/14/04). He also has four 100-yard receiving efforts in 11 career games vs. the 49ers, totaling 65 receptions for 837 yards and nine TDs in those contests. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys (@CAR): He has nine TDs in 12 career games vs. the Panthers, totaling 58 receptions for 928 yards (16.0 per catch, 77.3 ypg) in those contests. In his past five games vs. the Panthers, he has 30 catches for 533 yards and four TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals (ATL): He has averaged 243.4 passing yards with 17 TDs and six interceptions in eight career games vs. NFC foes, with a 7-1 record in those contests. He also has 2+ passing TDs in five of his past six games against NFC teams. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars (@PHI): He has 120+ rushing yards in four of his past five games on the road vs. NFC foes, and has 100+ yards in seven of his past 13 games vs. NFC. In those 13 games, he has averaged 110.1 rushing yards and 127.7 scrimmage yards with four TDs. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>TRISTAN'S TAKE: Leave their Week 7 performance aside, because the Texans' defense was facing a Jaguars QB, Byron Leftwich, who was hardly himself last week. The bottom line is that the Texans' secondary can make any team's passing game look good, which is why Bennett, and perhaps even Titans QB Vince Young, might be in line for solid efforts. ... This is an important game for the Bears' offense, coming off a shaky performance in Arizona the week before their bye. Grossman is a talented enough quarterback to capitalize on a favorable matchup, so go ahead and get all your Chicago players back into your active lineup. ... Bulger's and Jackson's numbers should help reinforce their status as must-starts even against the San Diego defense. Remember, the Chargers did struggle against the Chiefs in Week 7, perhaps a result of all their off-the-field distractions on the defensive side of the ball. </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): Jaguars at Eagles (60 percent), Buccaneers at Giants (60) and Jets at Browns (40). Each game could see mild wind. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Cold temperatures (40 degrees or lower): Cardinals at Packers could be in the mid-to-upper 30s; 49ers at Bears could be in the low 40s. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Hot temperatures (80 degrees or higher): None. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Weatherproof games (safest playing conditions): Ravens at Saints (Superdome), Patriots at Vikings (Metrodome). </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>John Carney, Saints (BAL): 61 G, 86.4 FGpct, 99.2 XPTpct, 8.07 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (@MIN): 1st career G indoors. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD>Ryan Longwell, Vikings (NE): 27 G, 86.7 FGpct, 98.4 XPTpct, 8.11 ppg. </TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD>Matt Stover, Ravens (@NO): 14 G, 75.0 FGpct, 100.0 XPTpct, 4.71 ppg.</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Oct. 28, 2006, 6:06 PM
Week 8: Fantasy Matchups


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By Scott Engel
ESPN.com

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Every week, we preview all 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 Green Bay: The Cardinals will bring out some new looks on offense and might try to firmly establish what has been a disappointing running game so far. Edgerrin James should get a lot of touches and will get some shots at scoring, and he should finish with decent fantasy totals. Matt Leinart should be efficient, but don't expect great numbers as the Packers double up on Anquan Boldin and push Bryant Johnson around with physical coverages. Johnson still might score, but he could see a limited number of catches. With Greg Jennings hurting, Green Bay should rely on its running game, and Ahman Green should score at least once as he gets a heavy workload. Brett Favre will be a risk to throw more than one interception as he tries force the ball to Donald Driver, who still will have a productive day even as he gets targeted often.
Start and Smile: Ahman Green, Donald Driver
Watch and Worry: Greg Jennings (ankle) could be limited even if he plays.
Atlanta at Cincinnati: A banged-up Cincinnati offensive line could get a reprieve here against an Atlanta defensive line that is dealing with its own injury problems and will be without DE John Abraham again. Carson Palmer should have time to throw in this one, and he will look to T.J. Houshmandzadeh often. CB DeAngelo Hall will battle often with Chad Johnson, and Houshmandzadeh could benefit from Johnson facing Atlanta's top cover man. Rudi Johnson should find the end zone as the Bengals move the ball well. Cincinnati's front seven will give up much yardage to Warrick Dunn, who should easily roll past the 100-yard mark. Michael Vick should buy much time to throw, and although TE Alge Crumpler should score, don't expect another huge outing as the Bengals pay extra attention to him and try to make the other receivers beat them.
Start and Smile: Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Warrick Dunn
Watch and Worry: Michael Jenkins and Ashley Lelie won't produce much even if Crumpler gets the most attention from the Cincinnati pass defense.
Baltimore at New Orleans: The Ravens will try to establish Jamal Lewis early in an effort to control time of possession and take some pressure off Steve McNair. The Ravens could exhibit a conservative approach in the passing game, and that means limited production for WRs Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton. McNair should still look to TE Todd Heap on important passing downs. Deuce McAllister will have to fight hard for yardage against a physical defense but should still find the end zone. Reggie Bush will be corralled often as a receiver and won't do much after the catch. Drew Brees should take what the defense gives him, and he'll throw underneath often. Joe Horn won't get loose for any big plays, but Marques Colston should be busy as a possession target.
Start and Smile: Todd Heap, Marques Colston
Watch and Worry: Steve McNair, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Reggie Bush, Joe Horn
Dallas at Carolina: The Cowboys might come out looking to take the focus off Tony Romo, and that could mean an early dependence on the running game. Julius Jones, however, could struggle to produce good results. Romo might face some adverse passing situations, which could produce more than one TD pass but also is likely to lead to more than one interception. Terrell Owens will be targeted often by Romo and should score at least once. Former Cowboy Keyshawn Johnson should be primed to face his old team, and could catch a lot of passes, but don't expect a score. Jake Delhomme still will be targeting Steve Smith for the scores, and the pair could hook up more than once for TDs. DeShaun Foster could produce limited yardage but will get some chances to score in the red zone.
Start and Smile: Terrell Owens, Jake Delhomme
Watch and Worry: Julius Jones
Houston at Tennessee: Both teams should be able to run the ball effectively here, but it's Travis Henry who will shine the most. Even against the Texans, the Titans will ride with the rejuvenated Henry while maintaining a conservative approach with rookie QB Vince Young. Don't expect big numbers from Young, and Drew Bennett will post only adequate fantasy numbers. The Texans will run the ball well enough with Wali Lundy after opening up the passing game early. David Carr should come out throwing, and Andre Johnson should have one of his best days of the season. Eric Moulds also should be targeted by Carr in the red zone.
Start and Smile: David Carr, Andre Johnson, Travis Henry
Watch and Worry: Vince Young, Drew Bennett
Indianapolis at Denver: A great passing game meets a tough defense in this one, and Peyton Manning will be busy without much run support. Dominic Rhodes will be stuffed early and often, and Joseph Addai won't find much open running room. Manning should throw at least two TD passes as he simply will have no choice other than to air it out. The Broncos will continue to look conservative offensively, and Tatum Bell could have a big day as Denver uses him to control time of possession as much as possible. When Jake Plummer does go to the air, he should find Javon Walker for what now seems to be a rare passing TD.
Start and Smile: Tatum Bell, Javon Walker
Watch and Worry: Dominic Rhodes, Joseph Addai
Jacksonville at Philadelphia: With DT Marcus Stroud (ankle) not expected to play, the Jaguars are more vulnerable as they won't get much pressure on Donovan McNabb, who often seems unstoppable no matter what defense he faces. It will be another disappointing week for the Jacksonville defense as McNabb hooks up often with Reggie Brown and Brian Westbrook rolls up more big yardage numbers. The Jaguars will lean on the running game as David Garrard simply tries to manage the game well, and you should see Maurice Jones-Drew score at least once, possibly on a reception he breaks for a big gain.
Start and Smile: Reggie Brown, Maurice Jones-Drew
Watch and Worry: Garrard won't open up the passing game very much, and it's best to see how Donte' Stallworth plays in his first game back before activating him. Play it safe and sit Stallworth this week.
N.Y. Jets at Cleveland: Look for Chad Pennington to attack the Cleveland secondary early, and the New York QB should be good for more than one TD pass, as he spreads the ball around among different receivers. A good passing game should open up some wide running room for RB Leon Washington, and he should score at least once. The Browns will counter with a pretty good running game, and Reuben Droughns should accumulate some respectable fantasy numbers with a lot of carries. Charlie Frye will be good for more than one TD pass, and while Braylon Edwards is the one who will stack up good yardage numbers, Joe Jurevicius is the one who will get the red zone looks.
Start and Smile: Chad Pennington, Leon Washington, Kellen Winslow
Watch and Worry: Even in this seemingly friendly matchup, Kevan Barlow isn't a reliable option, especially with the emergence of Washington.
Pittsburgh at Oakland: Expect a big day from Willie Parker as he rips off large chunks of yardage early in the game and gets a lot of work as he and Najeh Davenport protect the lead and work the clock in the second half. The Oakland secondary might limit the production of Nate Washington and Santonio Holmes, but no defense will have it easy with Hines Ward now that he is apparently healthy again. The Raiders will have to shelve the running game early, and Andrew Walter will make more than one turnover even if he can find Randy Moss for a score.
Start and Smile: Willie Parker, Hines Ward
Watch and Worry: LaMont Jordan, Justin Fargas, Nate Washington, Santonio Holmes
St. Louis at San Diego: Steven Jackson will have to work very hard for his yardage in this one even if he does manage to find the end zone. The Rams will lean on their crisp passing game, and you'll see Marc Bulger hooking up with Torry Holt often. LaDainian Tomlinson will continue to roll, and a fine running game will allow Philip Rivers time to throw and he should use play-action fakes effectively. Look for the San Diego QB to throw more than one TD pass, and if you're desperate for receiving help this week, consider Keenan McCardell, who could catch one of Rivers' scoring tosses.
Start and Smile: Marc Bulger, Isaac Bruce, Philip Rivers
Watch and Worry: The San Diego defense could surrender a lot of points and passing yardage.
San Francisco at Chicago: Bears QB Rex Grossman will come out fired-up and ready to put a bad performance against Arizona further behind him, and if he doesn't get rattled by the blitz, Grossman should hook up with Bernard Berrian often, and for at least one score. Cedric Benson could see an increased workload and might score on a late TD run, but Thomas Jones will still be the No. 1 RB and could roll up some quality yardage totals. The Bears will look to take Frank Gore out of the game early, and Alex Smith will wilt under heavy pressure on a regular basis.
Start and Smile: Rex Grossman, Thomas Jones
Watch and Worry: Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Antonio Bryant
Seattle at Kansas City: With the QB situation uncertain, the Chiefs will rely heavily on Larry Johnson, who eventually should wear down the Seattle defense on his way to a 100-yard rushing day and at least one score. CB Marcus Trufant will lock up Eddie Kennison in what could be a relatively low-scoring affair. The Seahawks won't be able to establish much of a running game with Maurice Morris, and Seneca Wallace will be forced into many adverse passing situations and could make more than one turnover. But he also will lean heavily on Darrell Jackson, who should finish with good numbers while the production of Deion Branch suffers for a week as he adjusts to yet another new QB.
Start and Smile: Darrell Jackson
Watch and Worry: Eddie Kennison, Maurice Morris, Deion Branch
Tampa Bay at N.Y. Giants: New York CB Sam Madison (hamstring) is hurting, so Bruce Gradkowski might take short drops to avoid pressure and throw often to Joey Galloway, who can take a short pass at any time and turn it into a long gainer against the Giants' secondary. Gradkowski, though, still could be in for a long day as the Giants contain Carnell Williams and force the Tampa Bay QB to throw too often. Eli Manning should strike early for more than one score, and Tiki Barber will pad his usually outstanding yardage numbers as the Giants work the clock for much of the second half. New York will move the ball well, and Brandon Jacobs should score on a short TD run.
Start and Smile: Joey Galloway, Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress
Watch and Worry: Bruce Gradkowski, Carnell Williams New England at Minnesota: The Patriots will find their two-pronged running attack neutralized by a strong Minnesota defensive line. Corey Dillon won't get opportunities to score near the goal line, and Laurence Maroney will disappoint in his return to the site of his college glory days. Tom Brady will have to spread the ball around to keep the Patriots' offense moving, and he'll operate an efficient short passing game. Benjamin Watson could finally deliver a truly impressive performance. Chester Taylor will be brought down to earth after a big week, and the Patriots will force Brad Johnson to throw, meaning he could struggle to move the offense with an injury-depleted receiving crew.
Start and Smile: Ben Watson
Watch and Worry: Corey Dillon, Laurence Maroney
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Oct. 28, 2006, 9:11 AM
FFL: Week 8 Lineup Rankings


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By Scott Engel
ESPN.com

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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 vs. JAC
2. Eli Manning vs. TB
3. Peyton Manning at DEN
<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->4. Marc Bulger at SD
5. Brett Favre vs. ARI
6. Rex Grossman vs. SF
7. Philip Rivers vs. STL
8. Chad Pennington at CLE
9. Jake Delhomme vs. DAL
10. Carson Palmer vs. ATL
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER type="block" height="1" width="8"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>[FONT=Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif]We rate players based on possible fantasy production each week, taking into account past production as well as matchups. These are not overall player rankings, but rather a list of who you should start for the upcoming week. Top superstars will rarely get moved out of the prime spots, as they should not be benched unless injured. Most players with an unclear injury or starting status for the upcoming week will not be included. All four major offensive positions and defense/special teams units are ranked. [/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>11. Drew Brees vs. BAL
12. Michael Vick at CIN
13. Tom Brady at MIN
14. Charlie Batch at OAK
15. David Carr at TEN
16. Matt Leinart at GB
17. Damon Huard vs. SEA
18. Byron Leftwich at PHI
19. Charlie Frye vs. NYJ
20. Jake Plummer vs. IND
21. Steve McNair at NO
22. Bruce Gradkowski at NYG
23. Brad Johnson vs. NE
24. Vince Young vs. HOU
25. Alex Smith at CHI
26. Seneca Wallace at KC
27. Tony Romo at CAR
28. Andrew Walter vs. PIT

Running Backs
1. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. STL
2. Larry Johnson vs. SEA
3. Brian Westbrook vs. JAC
4. Willie Parker at OAK
5. Tatum Bell vs. IND
6. Tiki Barber vs. TB
7. Warrick Dunn at CIN
8. Travis Henry vs. HOU
9. Steven Jackson vs. SD
10. Rudi Johnson vs. ATL
11. Ahman Green vs. ARI
12. Thomas Jones vs. SF
13. DeShaun Foster vs. DAL
14. Chester Taylor vs. NE
15. Carnell Williams vs. NYG
16. Deuce McAllister vs. BAL
17. Edgerrin James vs. GB
18. Frank Gore at CHI
19. Leon Washington at CLE
20. Corey Dillon at MIN
21. Julius Jones at CAR
22. Wali Lundy at TEN
23. Maurice Jones-Drew at PHI
24. Reuben Droughns vs. NYJ
25. Laurence Maroney at MIN
26. Reggie Bush vs. BAL
27. Fred Taylor at PHI
28. Jamal Lewis at NO
29. Maurice Morris at KC
30. Dominic Rhodes at DEN
31. LaMont Jordan vs. PIT
32. Joseph Addai at DEN
33. Brandon Jacobs at TB
34. Cedric Benson vs. SF
35. Marion Barber III at CAR
36. Justin Fargas vs. PIT
37. Jerious Norwood at CIN
38. Nick Goings vs. DAL
39. Najeh Davenport at OAK
40. Samkon Gado at TEN

Wide Receivers
1. Steve Smith vs. DAL
2. Torry Holt at SD
3. Bernard Berrian vs. SF
4. Anquan Boldin at GB
5. Andre Johnson at TEN
6. Donald Driver vs. ARI
7. Hines Ward at OAK
8. Reggie Brown vs. JAC
9. T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. ATL
10. Marvin Harrison at DEN
11. Laveranues Coles at CLE
12. Plaxico Burress vs. TB
13. Chad Johnson vs. ATL
14. Reggie Wayne at DEN
15. Terrell Owens at CAR
16. Darrell Jackson at KC
17. Marques Colston vs. BAL
18. Randy Moss vs. PIT
19. Javon Walker vs. IND
20. Deion Branch at KC
21. Joey Galloway at NYG
22. Amani Toomer vs. TB
23. Joe Horn vs. BAL
24. Bryant Johnson at GB
25. Keyshawn Johnson vs. DAL
26. Braylon Edwards vs. NYJ
27. Eric Parker vs. STL
28. Donte' Stallworth vs. JAC
29. Terry Glenn at CAR
30. Reggie Williams at PHI
31. Muhsin Muhammad vs. SF
32. Drew Bennett vs. HOU
33. Doug Gabriel at MIN
34. Nate Washington at OAK
35. Isaac Bruce at SD
36. Eddie Kennison vs. SEA
37. Derrick Mason at NO
38. Mark Clayton at NO
39. Antonio Bryant at CHI
40. Jerricho Cotchery at CLE
41. Joe Jurevicius vs. NYJ
42. Santonio Holmes at OAK
43. Rod Smith vs. IND
44. Keenan McCardell vs. STL
45. Michael Jenkins at CIN
46. Rashied Davis vs. SF
47. Chad Jackson at MIN
48. Michael Clayton at NYG
49. Hank Baskett vs. JAC
50. Eric Moulds at TEN
51. Troy Williamson vs. NE
52. Bobby Wade vs. HOU
53. Samie Parker vs. SEA
54. Marcus Robinson vs. NE
55. Ashley Lelie at CIN
56. Ruvell Martin vs. ARI
57. Malcolm Floyd vs. STL
58. Travis Taylor vs. NE
59. Ernest Wilford at PHI
60. Ronald Curry vs. PIT

Tight Ends
1. Antonio Gates vs. STL
2. Jeremy Shockey vs. TB
3. Todd Heap at NO
4. Tony Gonzalez vs. SEA
5. Alge Crumpler at CIN
6. Kellen Winslow vs. NYJ
7. Heath Miller at OAK
8. Desmond Clark vs. SF
9. L.J. Smith vs. JAC
10. Jason Witten at CAR
11. Benjamin Watson at MIN
12. Dallas Clark at DEN
13. Owen Daniels at TEN
14. Bo Scaife vs. HOU
15. Ben Troupe vs. HOU
16. Alex Smith at NYG
17. Jermaine Wiggins vs. NE
18. Jerramy Stevens at KC
19. Chris Baker at CLE
20. Courtney Anderson vs. PIT
21. Joe Klopfenstein at SD
22. Bubba Franks vs. ARI
23. Eric Johnson at CHI
24. Reggie Kelly vs. ATL
25. Ernie Conwell vs. BAL

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

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 10/26/06)

Oct. 28, 2006, 9:11 AM
Week 8: Waiver Wire Work


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By Scott Engel
ESPN.com

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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
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys (Owned in 1.5 percent of ESPN leagues): While there has been nothing official announced about a QB change in Dallas, there are already reports that Romo is expected to be installed as the Cowboys' new starting quarterback. It makes a lot of sense for Dallas to make the change, so don't be surprised if and when it happens. Romo is more mobile and can operate more efficiently behind a questionable offensive line, and poor decisions by Drew Bledsoe might have earned him his seat on the bench. Even if Bledsoe somehow keeps the job, he'll be on a short leash. Romo could eventually be a quality fantasy starter once he starts to get more work with the first-team offense.
Seneca Wallace, QB, Seahawks (0.1 percent owned): He didn't look good overall in relief of Matt Hasselbeck Sunday, and Wallace is small and can get passes batted down or tipped at the line of scrimmage. But he is very athletic, and has looked good in the preseason before, and now will have time to get comfortable as a starter. Wallace throws well on the run and has the potential to throw accurate deep balls. He does have a high-quality receiving crew as well. Wallace won't post outstanding numbers, but he is a good add if you are hurting for help at QB or have to start two players at the position.
Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders (1.5 percent owned): When LaMont Jordan's back tightened up on him before Sunday's game against Arizona, Fargas was suddenly pushed into a prime role. Fargas wasn't anything better than mediocre and had no scores. But he could continue to get a lot of work if Jordan has trouble staying healthy, and Fargas was already in line to get more touches, as Art Shell seemed to be impressed with his potential. He could be just a change-of-pace RB when Jordan is available, but he'll continue to get more work if needed. Fargas isn't a strong runner and Zack Crockett could be used more in short-yardage situations when Jordan is out, but Fargas does have the speed to break a long run at any time, and you simply can't leave a possible starting RB on the free agent list when he is available.
Chad Jackson, WR, Patriots (5.6 percent owned): He has seemingly put some early-season injury issues behind him, and now is becoming a more integral part of the New England passing game. The Patriots have intended to make Jackson become more involved in the offense recently, and he served notice that he could become one of Tom Brady's favored targets with a 35-yard TD reception against the Bills Sunday. Jackson is a great combination of size and speed, and he plays with a QB that can get him the ball often even while he learns on the job. Jackson may lack experience, but Brady will get him the ball whenever he gets open. Brady makes good use of any receiver who has some talent, and Jackson will catch his eye and get the ball whenever he can create some space for himself.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers (7.0 percent owned): He makes rookie mistakes, runs sloppy routes, and has been slow to get used to the pro game. But the Steelers won't wait for him to mature more, and want to get him involved in the offense now. They are designing plays to get Holmes the ball, and they will continue to throw to him, especially when he can get deep. Holmes isn't going to catch every ball thrown his way, and he'll likely continue to struggle on shorter routes. But he can certainly get deep, and he's going to get the ball every time he beats a defensive back by a few steps. Pittsburgh isn't going to ignore him as he learns, and he'll be targeted often, with some quality results every so often.
PRIME CUTS
Drew Bledsoe, QB, Cowboys (94.9 percent owned): It's just a matter of time before he officially is pinned to the bench. It might only be days before that happens. Even if he starts again at some point this season, you can't depend on him for consistent production, even with his good-looking receiving crew.
Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos (79.2 percent owned): The Broncos are winning games, so a switch to rookie QB Jay Cutler might not happen in the near future. But the Broncos have been conservative on offense, and Plummer simply isn't getting the job done statistically. Plummer has thrown only four TD passes this year, and none in three games.
Jerious Norwood, RB, Falcons (30.8 percent owned): For those of you still holding onto him in yearly leagues, let go. While Norwood can occasionally break loose for the big run, he's not getting enough touches to be a consistent fantasy contributor, even as a flex option.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, N.Y. Jets (67.5 percent owned): He looked like a big sleeper early on, but now opponents respect him and give him more defensive attention. Cotchery hasn't been able to break loose for any big plays recently, and his numbers will continue to be mediocre as he operates as a strict possession receiver. Cotchery has not scored in the past three games and he has only one 100-yard game this year. Keenan McCardell, WR, Chargers (66.4 percent owned): He is no longer a major part of the offense. McCardell has no TD catches yet, and he has failed to total 70 receiving yards in a game. Stop waiting for him to come around.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 9 New Articles Added 10/28/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 9 New Articles Added 10/28/06)

Oct. 30, 2006
Engel: Week 8 wrapup


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ESPN.com

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Here's a quick-hitting recap of key performances and news from the eighth week of the NFL season, complete with in-depth fantasy analysis.
Michael Vick, fantasy star? After his amazing performance against the Steelers, Vick served notice that it was no fluke, and he might have finally shed the stigma of being a statistical underachiever. Vick looked terrific again against Cincinnati, throwing for 291 yards and three TDs. Vick got great pass protection and spread the ball around well, as he did throw one TD pass to favorite target Alge Crumpler, but also tossed scoring passes to Michael Jenkins and FB Justin Griffith. Many opponents have come into games recently not expecting Vick to beat them by throwing downfield with so much success, and have been focused on containing the Atlanta running game while trying to prevent Vick from throwing on the move. Now that Vick is showing he demands more respect as a pure passer, defenses will have to try to stop him with different methods. Right now, however, there seems to be no sure way of stopping Vick, so keep him in your lineup while he stays hot.
Seneca steps in: Seneca Wallace became the latest backup quarterback to prove that passers who come off the bench shouldn't be immediately judged as inferior. After a full week of practice with the Seahawks' first-team offense, Wallace played well overall, despite throwing two interceptions. Wallace did throw for 198 yards and three TDs, and proved he can certainly be a quality fantasy starter if needed. Wallace is small, but he has a very strong arm, is very comfortable in the Seattle offense, and isn't intimidated easily. He came into a hostile environment at Arrowhead Stadium, stood firm in the pocket when he had to, and also threw well on the move. The production of his wide receivers did suffer, though, as he spread the ball around, and Darrell Jackson's 49-yard TD catch came when CB Ty Law fell down. Still, Wallace certainly wasn't a flop, and he is a decent stopgap starter if you need one. He also helped the Seahawks rediscover Jerramy Stevens, who made a key third-down reception and hauled in his first TD pass of the year.
Against the wind: As feared, heavy wind gusts hurt the passing games of the Giants and Buccaneers at the Meadowlands. It was more of a fantasy factor from New York's perspective, as most owners likely chose to sit Bruce Gradkowski on the road against a tough, physical front seven, regardless of the conditions. Gradkowski was ineffective as expected, throwing for just 139 yards and no TDs. But the performance of Eli Manning was certainly disappointing, as he threw for 154 yards and just one TD on a seven-yard pass that became a work of art by Plaxico Burress. Many of Manning's deeper throws were incompletions, as he overthrew his intended targets when they got open downfield. Credit Burress for helping out with great catches on the TD and in a few other instances, as he made fine adjustments all day to wind-blown balls. He finished with seven receptions for 86 yards. Manning threw underneath often and while the elements clearly hurt his numbers, expect him to post much better totals against Houston next week if the weather doesn't affect him in a similar manner.
Jamal Lewis shows up: Before Brian Billick took over the playcalling, Lewis was complaining he wasn't getting enough work. With Billick calling the shots in an impressive win over the Saints, Lewis looked like a reliable workhorse again. He carried 31 times for 109 yards, becoming a major focal point of an efficient Baltimore offense. Is this the real Lewis, and can we expect him to be dependable for the rest of the year now? Well, it will take much more than just one good outing for Lewis to fully regain the confidence of most fantasy owners. But it was an encouraging performance, as Lewis clearly benefited from the opportunity to work himself into a positive rhythm by carrying often. Billick still has a lot of confidence in Lewis, which is great for Lewis' fantasy owners. Lewis faces the usually vulnerable Cincinnati run defense next week, so he could deliver another solid outing,
Matt Leinart continues to sputter: You can't simply just look at a matchup and assume that a given player will have an outstanding game. Sure, we all know the Packers have a shaky pass defense, but that doesn't mean it will always be exploited. Leinart has struggled on the road, and delivered another disappointing performance away from home when many of us thought he could perform better against the Packers. The rookie has thrown only one TD pass in the past two games, both on the road, and he has been intercepted three times. Leinart hasn't done well against man-to-man coverages and his play isn't being helped by the absence of Larry Fitzgerald. Bryant Johnson and Troy Walters have been unsuitable replacements and Anquan Boldin has been the clear focus of opposing defenses in the passing game. Hopefully, a bye week and the return of Fitzgerald in Week 10 at home against Dallas can help Leinart's outlook, but he should be headed back to your bench for the next two weeks because of the bye and the need to prove himself again. Recently, Leinart has lost his luster and doesn't look like a quality starter against any opponent.
The Chicago RB picture: We kept hearing all week how Cedric Benson was going to get more work, and wondered if that would lower the appeal of Thomas Jones. Yet Jones proved he is still definitely the Bears' No. 1 RB, as he carried 23 times for 111 yards and scored on a picturesque seven-yard run in which he reversed his field and then found the end zone. Benson carried only eight times for 26 times, but scored on a one-yard run and gave the signal he will continue to be a factor in many of Chicago's short-yardage situations. Ultimately, the Bears had hoped the two RBs would complement one another well, and that seems to be the case now. Look for them to continue to co-exist well, with Jones being the better play for more touches and still some chances to score, while Benson should steal some, but not all of the goal-line carries.
Philly fizzles: The Eagles' top-ranked offense was somewhat shockingly shut down by a Jacksonville team that had trouble containing the Texans the week before. The Jaguars, missing top players like LB Mike Peterson and DT Marcus Stroud, still came in determined to erase the specter of their loss to Houston while meeting the challenge of facing the Philadelphia offense head-on. The secondary contained the usually prolific Eagles wide receivers and the Jaguars refused to let up any big plays, as Donovan McNabb often couldn't find any open targets downfield on several important occasions. When he did get a chance to hit Brown deep at one point, McNabb overthrew him. A bye week should give the Eagles another week to regroup and allow more rest for top stars like Brian Westbrook and Donte' Stallworth, who have battled injuries. McNabb threw for only 168 yards and no scores, and while the wind was a factor, it wasn't close to the conditions in New Jersey. Expect the Eagles' offense to bounce back quickly after the bye week.
What happened to Travis Henry? It seemed like a matchup made for easy fantasy success. The rejuvenated Henry against the seemingly defenseless Texans. But the results weren't anywhere near what most of us expected, as Henry was held to 29 rushing yards on 15 carries. Houston came in focused to stop the Tennessee running game, and got the job done. While they didn't win the game, the Texans showed us that the Titans need to develop more offensive balance before we can trust Henry on a regular basis. Vince Young threw a TD pass and ran for another, but better opponents will continue to key on Henry often and put games in the hands of Young, who won't always perform well when Henry is contained and he has to throw often. Henry has suddenly gone from reborn RB to shaky fantasy option again. LenDale White rushed for 35 yards on seven carries and could soon seriously threaten Henry's playing time.
Jets fly low: For much of the season, the Jets' offense has been efficient, and looked good entering a matchup with the Browns. But rookie Leon Washington, who had been a hot option for this week, posted disappointing numbers. He was held to 51 rushing yards and lost a fumble. Washington was held down by a physical Cleveland front seven. Meanwhile, Chad Pennington threw for 108 yards with no TDs and was intercepted twice. On many of his timing passes, his touch was often inaccurate, and he also faced frequent pass pressure. A finely-tuned New York offense was thrown of its rhythm and pacing. The Jets have a bye in Week 9, but things won't get any easier when they face the Patriots on the road in Week 10. Ben looks bad again: It's becoming very apparent that unless Ben Roethlisberger is fully healthy, we can't count on him to deliver decent fantasy numbers. Coming off a concussion, Roethlisberger's decision-making and timing looked almost as questionable as it did when he first stepped on the field for the first time during the regular season. Roethlisberger threw only one TD pass and was intercepted four times by Oakland's unheralded pass defense. Roethlisberger was looking better before he suffered the concussion last week, but now it looks like fantasy players should bench him until he proves himself all over again.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 9 New Articles Added 10/28/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 9 New Articles Added 10/28/06)

Monday, October 30, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Tony's Crew


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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 -->Drew Bledsoe, better make sure that seat of yours on the bench is comfortable. On Sunday night, Tony Romo, the unknown, undrafted, untested quarterback making his first career NFL start, made Cowboys coach Bill Parcells look good for his decision to make a switch at the position midway through the Week 7 contest. Now it's Romo's job to lose, and judging from Sunday's performance, he's nowhere near ready to hand it over.
Sure, for fantasy, the numbers weren't that extraordinary. Romo completed 24 of 36 passes for 270 yards, one touchdown and one interception, good for 15 fantasy points. Still, 15 isn't a bad number for a bye-week or injury sub, and it did rank him 11th among quarterbacks, tied with the Giants' Eli Manning and ahead of the Chargers' Philip Rivers (14) and Jets' Chad Pennington (11), guys you'd never have sat this week.
But what's important to gather from Romo's performance was his poise facing a challenging assignment at Carolina. While he did make that one costly interception, one which resulted in a Panthers touchdown on the very next play to put Carolina up 14-0, Romo didn't crack under the pressure of playing from behind, rallying his team to 35 unanswered points in the final three quarters. He also completed passes to six different receivers, helping Terrell Owens notch his first 100-yard receiving game of the season and tight end Jason Witten nab his first touchdown and a season-high six receptions.
By no means does this mark Romo as a safe, reliable fantasy pick. At best, he's worth a pickup to stash on reserve for depth, perhaps slotting in based on the matchup in a desperate circumstance. He has a strong arm, but while gaining experience is bound to make the occasional mistake, and don't forget, he has some tough defenses ahead to face.
What it does do is keep the value of guys like Owens, Terry Glenn and Witten stable, and it ensures that there should be enough running lanes open most weeks for Julius Jones and Marion Barber III to succeed. Glenn's value as the No. 2 receiver seems likely to be a little less in the Romo era, though, while Witten's gets a noticeable boost, as demonstrated on Sunday. Don't fret about your Dallas offensive players, because it seems Romo should be at least as effective at the helm as Bledsoe was to begin the season. <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
Maybe it's a little early to be thinking about the fantasy postseason, but with most leagues' trade deadlines rapidly approaching -- in ESPN leagues, it's Nov. 22 -- I think it's time to start thinking about the teams that might go into "shut-down mode" with their starters after clinching early playoff spots. With the Bears' and Colts' victories in Week 8, both teams are now 7-0 and potentially on their way to three-game leads in their divisions pending Monday Night's outcome, and each team has a two-game lead on any other team in its conference. It's something to think about if you're mulling trades for Chicago or Indianapolis players, because there's a greater chance their studs might miss a little time in Weeks 16-17 than the typical team. It shouldn't be a deal-breaker, but keep it in mind. ... Like Tatum Bell's performance in Week 3, Colts RB Joseph Addai's 17-carry, 93-yard performance in Week 8 should cement his status as the starter and go-to guy for the rest of the season. He has averaged 5.3 yards per carry in four games in October and remains on pace for only 199 carries for the season, meaning his legs should still be pretty fresh. I don't see Addai in the long term -- I'm talking seasons, not weeks -- ever being a contender for No. 1 overall RB contender, but I also see sleeper potential as a top-10 player at his position from Week 9 forward. ... When considering your weekly matchups, don't forget to take into account where the game is being played. A home game is often a noticeable advantage to certain teams, yet a lot of people seem to overlook it. Case in point: The Giants have now surrendered six points and 338 yards combined in their past two home contests. Their next two games, incidentally, are at home, against the Texans and Bears. Boy, how that Week 10 game against Chicago could be an interesting one.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos
13 carries, 27 rushing yards, 0 TDs

Just when it seemed clear which Bell in Denver was going to be the most reliable fantasy option the remainder of the season, and perhaps a top-10 player overall with some luck, Tatum Bell went ahead and offered up a stinker like this. In four previous games as the go-to guy, he totaled 93 carries for 413 yards (4.4 per carry, 103.3 per game) and two scores, each time topping 83 yards on the ground. Two of the games (Week 3 at the Patriots, Week 5 against the Ravens) even came against top-10 rush defenses, and considering Tatum entered Week 8 averaging 5.1 yards per carry for his NFL career, it's no wonder everyone was suddenly on his bandwagon. But despite going up against an Indianapolis rush defense ranked 31st, he managed the worst yards-per-carry average (2.1) of his NFL career (in games where he had any touches, of course), and afterward, it was revealed that much of the reason Mike Bell was in there running wild for 131 yards and two scores on 13 carries after halftime is because Tatum admitted his turf toe injury was limiting him. So on came Mike, in a breakout performance for him, and now the battle of the Bells is on once again in Denver. Turf toe injuries do have a tendency to linger, meaning Tatum's status as the elite fantasy back is indeed in jeopardy, and if you're one of the dozens who cut Mike thinking his time was done, it's time to snatch him back up. He's clearly capable of excelling behind that vaunted Denver offensive line for as long as he's needed to spell Tatum.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 8</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Michael Vick, QB, Falcons: Has 523 passing yards, 7 TDs in his past two G; now he faces the Lions' poor pass D</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>291</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>55</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>28</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs: It's his 1st career 4-TD G; he has 658 scrimmage yards, 10 TDs in his past five 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>39</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>155</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>26</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>4</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>41</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>Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: He has scored in three straight G and now has back-to-back 100-yard efforts</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>138</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>33</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Desmond Clark, TE, Bears: On pace for 59 catches, 894 yards and seven TDs, all of which would set career highs</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>86</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>8</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>20</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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


Lineup Shuffling
? Texans coach Gary Kubiak said after the Week 8 game at the Titans that QB David Carr would remain his starter, despite his three turnovers that led to QB Sage Rosenfels coming on in relief. Carr would be facing a poor matchup at the Giants in Week 9, however, and shouldn't be trusted in fantasy leagues the way he has been playing.

Trainer's Room
? Saints RB Reggie Bush left the Week 8 game against the Ravens in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, though X-rays taken afterward were negative. He was limping on the sidelines after leaving the game, and should be able to play in Week 9 at the Buccaneers, though with his so-so performance so far, it might be best to reserve him. Any missed time by Bush would help boost RB Deuce McAllister's fantasy stock.
? Chiefs coach Herm Edwards confirmed after the Week 8 game against the Seahawks that QB Trent Green (concussion) would reclaim his starting job once healthy. Green appears on track to return either in Week 10 or 11, so if you're a QB Damon Huard owner, be prepared to see him return to his old backup role soon.
? Packers RB Vernand Morency left the Week 8 game against the Cardinals in the fourth quarter with a lower back injury. His status for Week 9 at the Bulls is unknown, but if he's sidelined, it'll help make RB Ahman Green a stronger weekly consideration. RB Noah Herron would presumably step up as the No. 2 option if Morency misses time. ? 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 9 New Articles Added 10/28/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 9 New Articles Added 10/28/06)

Stars come out in Week 8


posted: Monday, October 30, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


Sometimes it's not about the little people, your third wide receiver or which kicker you choose. Those are the questions we get the most in the fantasy department. Eric, I really need to win this week, because I'm playing my brother's girlfriend's plumber. So, Reggie Bush or Jerious Norwood?

Get those all the time. But sometimes, you just need your main guys to do something special, give you a chance to win. And when they don't play well, well, you're in trouble.
Oh sure, Thomas Jones, Fred Taylor and Ahman Green got it done, but they aren't every week stars. Drew Brees and his receivers rocked. A pair of under the radar tight ends scored twice in the early games.
But this week it was about the big names. Larry Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson went off. Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook did not. Michael Vick stepped up again. Carnell Williams did not, again. You own those Eagles, it would have been tough to win. You needed something from them. You played Eli Manning and Tiki Barber, you needed more. It's tough to tell week to week, but fantasy owners can definitely be held hostage by their stars. If they don't perform, good luck.
I debated the quarterback situation for one of my teams up until the deadline, finally sticking with Eli in what I knew was not going to be a great game, not with the wind blowing the way it was at Giants Stadium. Eli finds Plaxico Burress early and ... well, that was it! But it didn't matter what Eli did, because the running backs on that team were Deuce McAllister and Warrick Dunn. They tried, of course. But that team, it's done. Or Dunn.
Philadelphia entered Week 8 leading the NFL in yards per game, and just a shade away from the most points per game. McNabb led fantasy in points, and it wasn't real close. Westbrook was tied for being the top running back. Separating my personal anger of the Eagles failing to score a touchdown at home against a reeling opponent that was 0-3 on the road, think about the fantasy implications. McNabb delivered single digit fantasy points, about half the points Houston backup Sage Rosenfels managed. Seneca Wallace had three more touchdowns than McNabb. Brandon Jacobs not only outscored Westbrook, but he outrushed him! So did two Jaguars, two Giants and two Packers. OK, does that give you context how disappointing the Eagles were?
Jaguars 13, Eagles 6: Give credit to the Jaguars. They benched their quarterback, whether it was due to injury or poor play, we might never know. Byron Leftwich watched as David Garrard played a perfect game. Why throw when the defense lets you run for more than 200 yards. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew looked terrific. Garrard threw for 87 yards, but the game was never in doubt. My question is, does Leftwich play next week? Should he?
MVP: Taylor topped 100 yards rushing for the second time in three games, and might have had a Larry Johnson type game had a second quarter 54-yard touchdown run not been called back. Taylor has a favorable schedule the next few weeks against the Titans and Texans. And please, stop worrying about the carries Drew gets; if it keeps Taylor fresh, so be it.
LVP: It's a tie between Philly's two stars. McNabb's previous worst fantasy game was 17 points, and he had reached 24 or more points five times. Guess fantasy owners got greedy. Westbrook had a seven-point game in Week 6, so this was a bit better.
Interesting: Donte' Stallworth returned for the first time since Week 4, and caught 56 yards worth of passes, but to no avail. McNabb barely looked at his wide receivers, bringing back the days prior to Terrell Owens. Running backs and tight ends caught 13 of the 18 completions. What does this mean for fantasy? Reggie Brown can't be a No. 1 fantasy receiver, regardless of Stallworth's status, not if McNabb can have games like this.
Bears 41, 49ers 10: Easiest game on the schedule to predict, as Chicago acted like an angry team, even though it was still unbeaten. But that Monday night game against Arizona, in which the defense had to save the day, the Bears talked about it like it was a loss. So they took care of poor San Fran early with three first-quarter touchdowns. Alex Smith never had a chance. The Bears scored 41 points before the half.
MVP: Welcome back, Rex Grossman. My only concern entering the game was whether it would be such a blowout and so easy to run the ball that Grossman would throw 20 times and Brian Griese would do the handing off in the fourth quarter. Instead, Grossman delivered three touchdowns, though none to Bernard Berrian. If you had tight end Desmond Clark active, good for you. I was fortunate to sign him off free agency in a pair of leagues on Sunday morning. Sometimes you need a little luck, too.
LVP: Berrian certainly didn't deliver, but Smith wasn't real good. Hey, if you couldn't see that one coming...
Interesting: Frank Gore is why stats are misleading. Until he broke off the 53-yarder, he was en route to an average day. Instead, his 12 carries net him 111 yards, the same total as Thomas Jones. Hey, it counts the same, but we know how they got there. At least Gore didn't fumble.
Falcons 29, Bengals 27: Alright, I'm buying on Michael Vick now. I know it's only two weeks, but it's against two good teams, the Bengals and Steelers, and it's seven touchdown passes. He passed for 291 yards, on the road, outdoors, and even ran enough to be relevant there with 55 yards. What a weapon, and certainly worthy of fantasy attention as he appears headed for top five QB status this season.
MVP: It's Vick again, clearly, but let's give some props to the other quarterback, last year's No. 1, as Carson Palmer threw a pair of touchdowns and got all three big receivers to 70 yards or more. Chris Henry certainly helps this offense, and Chad Johnson scored for the first time since Week 2.
LVP: Is it not interesting that Vick's top two passing games, dominant passing games, coincide with a second straight poor rushing game from Warrick Dunn? Hey, if you own Vick and Dunn on the same team, you didn't think they were going to each rush for 100 yards every week, did you? Now neither of them are getting close, but the team is winning.
Interesting: Guess it's time to stop expecting Chris Perry to play a major role, though it could still happen. But Perry cannot be blamed for the continuing struggles of Rudi Johnson. Sure, he scored, salvaging your fantasy game, but 46 yards isn't special. In his past five games he's topped 65 yards rushing one time.
Packers 31, Cardinals 14: Another predictable one, as I had the Packers scoring 27. The Cardinals again looked terrible, allowing not only one, but two Packers running backs to top 100 yards. Last time that happened? Brett Favre was in high school that week.
MVP: Ahman Green scored two touchdowns, which he hadn't done in nearly two seasons. Green entered this game with one rushing score. But I predicted Green would have a big day (load up when playing Arizona, people). Vernand Morency? Arizona clearly has more problems than Edgerrin James, who by the way had his best fantasy day of the season. Maybe there's some value there yet.
LVP: Matt Leinart threw two first-quarter touchdowns in that Bears game, but since then he's looked every bit like a raw, erratic rookie. He didn't get picked in this game until late, but four sacks and 61 yards passing in the first half, that's terrible. More importantly, since Leinart wasn't regarded as a great play this week, it's two straight weeks of nothing by Anquan Boldin.
Interesting: Favre threw 29 interceptions last season, making his other contributions for fantasy owners meaningless (20 TDs, nearly 4,000 yards). Now Favre is making smarter reads, and in the Packers' three wins, he's got six touchdowns, no interceptions. He only has five interceptions in seven games overall, putting him on pace for his cleanest season in a decade. And you think he's retiring after this 6-10 season? C'mon!
Titans 28, Texans 22: Fifty points were scored, and starting quarterbacks David Carr and Vince Young combined for 200 yards passing. So, you figure, Travis Henry and Wali Lundy must have gone nuts. Well, not really. Sage Rosenfels and Owen Daniels? Weird fantasy game.
MVP: Well, I doubt anyone had Rosenfels in the lineup (if you did, e-mail me with a link, but really, c'mon), so how about Daniels, the tight end who entered the week fairly relevant, ranked tied for 13th at the position, but owned in a mere 11.5 percent of leagues. True story, I actually signed him on one team Sunday 10 minutes before game time. Next week I might stick with Daniels over Chris Cooley.
LVP: Just when we thought we could trust Travis Henry, he averages 1.9 yards per carry. LenDale White got some early yards, but Henry had his chances. You want weird? Texans had 427 total yards, Titans 197. And two quarterbacks who threw for only 87 yards passing won Sunday.
Interesting: Some Texans fans had been complaining that I wasn't giving Carr enough credit. One astute reader pointed out that much of his fancy passer rating was fashioned in the first quarter. Well, that makes sense. In this game Carr did complete 15 of 21 passes, but turned the ball over three times, a truly Bledsoian performance. Guess that makes Rosenfels into Tony Romo, though Carr will continue to start. This is why some fantasy leagues use team quarterbacks, as overall, Houston delivered 299 passing yards and three scores.
Chiefs 35, Seahawks 28: Definitely a winnable game for the battered, road Seahawks, who continue to struggle running the ball, and stopping the run. Larry Johnson didn't break off a 95-yarder, but he did score four touchdowns. Seneca Wallace made mistakes, but how many QBs can win when the defense permits 499 total yards?
MVP: Well, Michael Bennett did run for 38 yards. Of course, the guy ahead of him on the depth chart had 181 total yards and scored four touchdowns. LJ is back.
LVP: Why do people keep assuming Maurice Morris will "figure things out" and become a good play? And why do these same people assume Shaun Alexander will be fine?
Interesting: There were a number of fantasy heroes in this game, with Damon Huard topping 300 yards when there was a serious Brodie Croyle threat, Tony Gonzalez topping 100 yards and Darrell Jackson scoring. But Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens caught a touchdown pass and looks like a nice second-half play. He's available in more than half of ESPN's leagues.
Ravens 35, Saints 22: I took a chance in predicting Baltimore in this one over America's team, and feel pretty good about the result, with the Ravens winning on the road and Jamal Lewis bouncing back from a tough schedule with a big game. Of course, Drew Brees made things far more interesting with a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns. Who does he think he is, Donovan?
MVP: Brees threw for 383 yards and three scores (with three picks as well), but wide receivers Marques Colston and Joe Horn were also very productive, getting 289 yards and all the scores. I figured Colston would be worth playing, but Horn looks reborn the past few weeks. Guess that's how things go when there's no running game.
LVP: Hate to keep highlighting the team that lost, but 27 yards rushing from Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush is barely more than Steve McNair ran for. Bush, we expect this from, since he hasn't rushed well all season, but McAllister was averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Bush? Four receptions for five yards, 16 yards rushing and a costly interception. Not pretty. Stick with Deuce in future weeks.
Interesting: McNair isn't held in high regard in fantasy, but this three-touchdown game might change that 57 percent ownership. McNair only threw six incomplete passes and even rushed for a touchdown. He ran for a touchdown only once in 2004 and 2005. What's interesting about Brees is that the Saints have only two losses, and he's passed for 383 and 349 yards in those games. If you think the Saints might lose the next two weeks at Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, don't sit the New Orleans QB!
Giants 17, Buccaneers 3: Workmanlike win for the Giants, who flexed defensive muscle again. This is not the same team that made the playoffs last season with Eli putting up late-game heroics. The Giants have won four straight games due to that pass rush and defense, holding the Bucs and Redskins to a field goal each and forcing the Cowboys to give up on their QB.
MVP: Not much here in a game where neither team moved the ball well, but Plaxico Burress delivered another double digit game with 86 yards and a score. Tiki Barber and Eli Manning were disappointing, but Plaxico now has five touchdowns in seven games. He might end up in double digits. Meanwhile, Eli continues his TD game streak, but can we get more than one?
LVP: At least Tiki got 88 total yards. On a day with the wind blowing, Carnell Williams stalled after some bounceback games, getting a mere 20 yards rushing, 16 on one play. In the end he had 54 total yards, so he's not much different than Tiki.
Interesting: Honestly, I don't have too many doubts that Brandon Jacobs could handle 20 carries per game, and score double digit touchdowns per season. He's averaging more than five yards per rush, and has scored three straight games. And this isn't a guy getting five yards per game. He's averaging 45 yards the past three weeks.
Chargers 38, Rams 24: Lots of numbers to enjoy here, with Marc Bulger putting up big stats again and Steven Jackson scoring, but still the Chargers won by two scores. This line was deceiving, with the Chargers favored by 10. Most of you figured it would be close and the Rams could cover. Well, it was relatively close, but the Rams didn't cover. Two touchdowns doesn't seem like much, does it?
MVP: Two of the scores came early, and you could tell Tomlinson was on his way to a monster game after not topping 100 yards rushing since Week 1. Still think this guy is a fantasy disappointment?
LVP: No obvious choices here. Philip Rivers would have done more had there been a need to throw more, but you'll take 206 yards and a score. This was the worst game of the season for Torry Holt, who had scored in five consecutive games.
Interesting: Even Michael Turner got into the act Sunday, or it would have been another four-score game for LT. Turner appeared to be in the dog house the past few weeks, falling out of favor as a fantasy flex play after the breaking off a 73-yarder and running for 138 yards in Week 2. Turner still hasn't caught a pass since that week, and even with his five touches Sunday, it's a bit odd a guy averaging seven yards per touch has only 10 of them the past three weeks.
Browns 20, Jets 13: Nah, I can't figure out Chad Pennington either. I thought he was a relatively safe play in this one, but instead he barely tops 100 yards. How can that be? How can Leon Washington do nothing and Pennington be that bad? How can Reuben Droughns carry 33 times for 125 yards, when he has only one game all season with more than 18 carries and 65 yards? The Jets are a .500 team, that's how.
MVP: I can't say Droughns is a weekly play. Normally we tell fantasy owners to rely on any running back who carries that many times, but can we expect this many touches normally?
LVP: Pennington's past two road games have been losses in Cleveland and Jacksonville, with no touchdowns, five picks and 179 yards, total. That's bad. But he's been so bad, maybe we need to reconsider using Laveranues Coles weekly. Only 40 yards, but at least that's more than Braylon Edwards (21 yards).
Interesting: New York's lone official touchdown came when Justin Miller brought a kickoff back 99 yards. Do you care in fantasy? Well, the otherwise below average Jets defense gets those points, and that's three touchdown returns for Miller in his past nine games.
Raiders 20, Steelers 13: Well, I can say I'm glad I didn't play Ben Roethlisberger, though my concern was that the concussion would hold him back. I don't think that was it. He was just erratic, after two solid games. Are we going to see inconsistency all season? I won't rip the Raiders defense, for it has actually played well much of the season. It's been the offense. It was bad against Pittsburgh as well, but Big Ben threw a pair of picks that got returned for scores. Reminds me of the Bucs-Eagles game last week, in which Tampa Bay couldn't score a touchdown, but won anyway. Ah, such fond memories. I don't know about Ben, though I don't want to waffle on his value. If I knew he would have played this game, I would have used him, absolutely. Nobody would have said otherwise. Big Ben did top 300 yards, but 197 of them came after it was 20-6.
MVP: Not much to choose from here, unless you played the Raiders defense, which I doubt. Willie Parker has been mainly all or nothing this season, but this was in between, with 83 yards and a receiving touchdown. Amazingly, he nearly matched Oakland's total yards.
LVP: Pick a Raider. You never would have used Andrew Walter, but five completions, 51 yards? Randy Moss had a nice streak going and it ended with a thud, with 20 yards on two receptions. LaMont Jordan played, but it sure looks like Justin Fargas has passed him on the depth chart, though Jordan has had back problems. How did Pittsburgh not win this one?
Interesting: Hey, there was a Jerry Porter sighting! The unhappy receiver did catch one-fifth of Walter's completions, but alas, that means he caught one pass. Porter should be owned in fantasy, but, and I can't believe I'm writing this, you might need to wait for Aaron Brooks to return for Porter to have value.
Colts 34, Broncos 31: Best game of the day, and further proof that you never, ever, ever sit Peyton Manning, even if the opponent doesn't allow touchdowns. Manning had no trouble moving the ball after the half, finding Reggie Wayne for three touchdowns, and a two-point conversion. Why play favorites? Marvin Harrison owners aren't pleased!
MVP: The wrong Bell takes the cake here. I can't say it strongly enough, but Tatum Bell was in my Power Rankings, he was getting 80 yards per game, he was finally trusted by fantasy owners. He was. And now, we have the same ugly timeshare thing from the preseason. What did Tatum do wrong? He stunk Sunday. That's it. One game might erase a month of fine games. A Bell did run wild against the weak Colts run D, but it wasn't Tatum, it was Mike, who had become a forgotten player in fantasy. Admit it, you owned him, and when he rushed for 39 yards on 15 carries since Week 1, you gave up. I gave up. And then I watch as Mike Bell runs for 136 yards and two scores (all but one yard in the second half). Mike Shanahan is the devil, again.
LVP: It took awhile, but it might be time to stick a fork in Dominic Rhodes. Joseph Addai carried 17 times for 93 yards, a solid effort all around including five receptions, but Rhodes ran three times for zero yards. Looks like the rookie finally won the job. Of course, the Broncos were allowing nothing and you probably were wise enough to sit Mr. Rhodes down. I'll bet three out of every four Tatum Bell owners had him active. That's 27 yards on 13 carries, or 109 fewer yards than Mike Bell, who had only two more rushes. Nice.
Interesting: You don't need to be told how good Peyton Manning is, but to go 32-of-39 and get 345 yards, score at will in the second half against that defense on the road, it's quite an accomplishment. Manning owns the Broncos. And for those who were tired of playing Reggie Wayne, it was a mistake to sit him. I didn't think he'd do this, but that's 260 yards and four scores in two weeks. OK, phew, that's Sunday's action heading into the big Tony Romo game. We'll sum up his performance and Tom Brady and his pals in Tuesday's blog.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 9 New Articles Added 10/28/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 9 New Articles Added 10/28/06)

Oct. 30, 2006, 4:53 PM
Week 8: Rookie Report


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By Scott Engel
ESPN.com

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5. A certain regular fantasy starter in yearly leagues already, and a top keeper player.
4. Adequate fantasy starter with outstanding keeper promise.
3. Occasional yearly starter who should become a very good keeper league player.
2. Showing signs of promise, but not a recommended starter yet despite much keeper appeal.
1. Should not be used in yearly leagues. A keeper player only.
[/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Here's an updated, fantasy-style look at the impact rookies of 2006, with rankings for both yearly and keeper formats at the three major fantasy positions. Only rookies who have logged considerable playing time so far or could see more action in the near future are listed.
Quarterbacks Matt Leinart (3): He started well but has struggled recently. Must show he can play better on the road and when facing man coverages. Could rebound when an injured Larry Fitzgerald returns and gives him another quality option besides Anquan Boldin.
Vince Young (3): He plays in a conservative offense and doesn't have outstanding receivers. But Young has started to deliver respectable numbers, and can be a good bye week replacement or injury substitution. He's making good decisions and has already become a dangerous TD threat when he runs.
Bruce Gradkowski (3): When the matchup is right, Gradkowski can give you decent fantasy numbers. He takes quick drops, sets himself quickly, and is very poised for a young passer. Not an outstanding fantasy player by any means, but he's been much more reliable at times than expected. Gradkowski has earned a "3" rating so far, but must work to keep it. I'm not sold on him despite some pretty good early performances.
Jay Cutler (1): His rating could rise if he replaces Jake Plummer at some point, but that might not be soon. He had a good preseason, but the Broncos are continuing to win with Plummer and won't make a switch when they are playing well overall. Cutler would breathe some life into the passing game, but Mike Shanahan isn't about to mess with a winning formula to play a rookie. The conservative approach on offense is working for Shanahan, even if fantasy players don't like it.
Running Backs
Maurice Jones-Drew (4): He has become a very pleasant surprise. Jones-Drew might only be listed at 5-7, but he's one of the strongest smaller backs you'll ever see, and his powerful lower body has been the main reason he has become such an effective short-yardage and goal-line runner. Jones-Drew can also catch passes and break loose for big plays any time he touches the ball. The Jaguars have been careful not to overwork him, and as a result, Jones-Drew has been a threat to deliver a big play or score whenever he gets a carry or catches a pass.
Leon Washington (4): He has at least temporarily earned a "4" rating, but he needs to keep playing well to remain a regular fantasy starter. Washington has been another of the "smaller back" surprises, as he has run very well inside while threatening to break loose for a long run at any time. Washington does share some carries with Kevan Barlow, but he has clearly become the Jets' No. 1 RB. He needs to sustain his momentum, though, and has to keep scoring to remain a dependable fantasy starter.
Joseph Addai (3): He is starting to get more reps recently, but Addai has been brought along slowly in his first pro season. Addai should continue to improve from a statistical perspective as the year goes on, and he should be a more integral part of the Indianapolis offense soon, even if he's not a focal point like Edgerrin James was. Some occasional TDs will soon start to accompany quality weekly yardage totals.
Wali Lundy (3): He was hot preseason sleeper, then lost his job, and now has regained it and has been making the most of his second chance so far. Lundy is running well again, but still must prove he can perform well over an extended period without wearing down. He's a shaky "3" who still has some questions surrounding him a long-term option, and his keeper status is still unclear. Can he be anything more than an occasionally productive RB? We'll have to wait and see.
Laurence Maroney (3): At times, he has flashed some major promise, and has briefly looked like the most exciting runner in the rookie class. But Maroney hasn't been able to maintain any consistency, and after looking like an improved inside runner earlier this year, he hasn't been able to get through the front seven very often recently. When he's on his game, Maroney is an amazing blend of speed and power. But he hasn't been able to bust loose for many good runs recently, and should be benched until he starts to run more successfully inside and breaks tackles with more regularity again.
Reggie Bush (3): His rating could drop soon, because he hasn't been much of a factor as a runner, and he isn't breaking loose when he catches passes. Now Bush has an ankle injury as well. He is simply drawing too much defensive attention every time he gets the ball. Until the Saints start to devise more ways of getting him the ball in open space, he's going to be nothing more than mediocre for statistical purposes.
LenDale White (2): When he has gotten a chance to play, White has shown the ability to quickly gain momentum, break tackles and get to the second level of defenders. But he has been overshadowed by the recent resurgence of Travis Henry, even after passing Chris Brown on the depth chart. It seems to be just a matter of time before he passes Henry on the depth chart, though, and White has great keeper league potential. He could have a few good games at the end of the 2006 season.
Mike Bell (2): He earned the starting job in the preseason, then lost it to a determined Tatum Bell. Now that Tatum Bell has a nagging turf toe problem, Mike Bell has temporarily re-emerged as a viable fantasy option. But a healthy Tatum Bell will be highly motivated to regain his full workload, and Mike Bell can't be relied on for regular success. Mike Bell could make the most of extended playing time if he is needed, but he could be pushed back to the bench at any time. Mike Bell has a lot of potential in yearly leagues when he plays, but his keeper value is unclear, as he could ultimately remain behind Tatum Bell on the depth chart for some time. In the near future, though, he could split some time with Tatum Bell again, making Mike Bell at least worth consideration as a short-term flex option.
Jerious Norwood (2): He's going to be explosive and exciting very soon, but Warrick Dunn remains Atlanta's No. 1 RB for now, and the Falcons are starting to throw more successfully, leaving very few touches for Norwood. He could start on quite a few other NFL teams, but for now, he is not getting enough touches to be useful in most yearly fantasy leagues.
DeAngelo Williams (2): Early in the year, it looked like he had a real chance of threatening DeShaun Foster's playing time. But improved play from Foster, plus an ankle injury, have dimmed Williams' outlook for this season. When he returns to action, it will likely be as a change-of-pace RB. Still, he has a lot of promise from the keeper perspective and could start to make a serious move for more playing time in 2007.
Michael Robinson (1): There was some talk of him becoming a featured goal-line runner a few weeks ago. But Frank Gore has re-established himself as a solid starter, and Robinson's keeper appeal is shaky as well. He's not even a solid "1" as far as the ratings go.
Wide Receivers
Marques Colston (5): He has easily been the biggest surprise sleeper of 2006. Colston was not considered fast or quick enough to be an NFL wide receiver, yet he had such a good camp, he made Donte' Stallworth expendable. Colston is catching nearly everything thrown to him, even after defenses have adjusted to give him more attention. He is a regular TD threat and has earned must-start status is yearly fantasy leagues. Reggie Bush draws more defensive attention, but Colston makes many of the important plays for New Orleans.
Greg Jennings (5): If he was healthy, I might rank him ahead of Colston. Jennings has become an instant fantasy standout as a perfect target for Brett Favre. He's quick, runs good routes for a first-year player, catches the ball well in stride, and can bust loose often for additional yards after the catch. Jennings fits into the classic Green Bay receiver mold of the Favre era, and conjures up memories of Robert Brooks in his prime. He also is willing to make tough catches over the middle, and he'll be a good safety valve and dependable wideout for Aaron Rodgers or whoever else takes over after Favre retires.
Chad Jackson (2): Injuries stunted his progress early. But he's the best pure combination of size, speed and natural ability on the New England roster, and the Patriots have vowed to get him more involved in the passing game recently. Jackson caught a TD pass last week and has the privilege of playing with Tom Brady, so he has a lot to offer for the rest of the season and in the future. If he doesn't blossom in 2006, he could become a quality fantasy starter by next year.
Santonio Holmes (2): He's made some rookie mistakes so far and was slow to pick up the playbook and the finer nuances of the pro game. But the Steelers continue to push him to become an integral part of the passing game, and while he is still learning, Holmes has had several plays designed for him, and he has become a frequent deep target. By next season, he could become a regular big-play threat for Ben Roethlisberger. He's not anywhere near reliable yet, though.
Derek Hagan (1): When injuries forced him to play more regularly for a short time, he showed off some good possession skills and a lot of potential as a smooth route runner. But he likely won't be useful this year, and he probably won't amount to anything more than a No. 3 receiver at best for the Dolphins.
Maurice Stovall (1): He hasn't been a factor this year except for a few occasional red zone chances to score. Eventually, though, he could become a very important receiver for the Buccaneers, especially as a TD target.
Sinorice Moss (1): A quadriceps injury has rendered him useless. We'll have to wait until 2007 to see him possibly become another favorite deep target for Eli Manning, and with all the missed time this year, he might not be useful in fantasy leagues until at least 2008.
Hank Baskett (1): He was one of the surprises of the preseason. And he could still eventually become a quality deep target for the Eagles. He's worth holding onto in keeper leagues.
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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 10/30/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/30/06)

Oct. 31, 2006, 2:53 PM
Carroll: Alexander, Bush and T.Bell


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By Will Carroll
ESPN.com

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There's nothing scarier than the injury report. A team often thinks it can do nothing about it, that they're falling victim to bad luck, curses, karma, or worse. In the salary-cap era, there's little more important than making sure that the limited money that can be spent ends up on the field rather than on the IR. In baseball, we've got years of data. Football doesn't have the same data base, but it's easier to deal in weeks and base salaries than in baseball system of days and dollars. There and likely in football, the decision to reduce injuries is a simple one of commitment and resources. No team wants more injuries, but too few are actually doing something about it.
Let's get to the injuries:
Monday always was going to be the big test for Shaun Alexander. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, next Monday's going to be big as well. Alexander had more scans and images done on his broken foot and the healing wasn't complete, forcing him to miss one more week. The good news is that his running didn't exacerbate the problem or slow the healing, meaning that "one more week" is a solid timetable. With that said, Alexander still hasn't made cuts or taken contact, so there's plenty of room for a setback. The Seahawks tend to be conservative, so don't read too much into this, but Matt Hasselbeck is now on target to miss four games rather than two, delaying his return from a moderate MCL sprain. Mike Holmgren says that he's targeting Hasselbeck to return for the Nov. 19 game in Week 11, a far cry from the three weeks forecast after the injury. There doesn't appear to be any change and there hasn't been time for a setback, so it appears that it's simply a function of the organization's longstanding conservative approach to rehab. Keep an eye on this one so you're not surprised if the QB comes back more quickly than expected.
My pal Aaron Schatz had a great line about Ben Roethlisberger, comparing him to an old TV set. "You smack him on the side once and the picture clears up. Everything's good. You smack him again and everything goes back to being fuzzy. Roethlisberger looked really fuzzy against the Raiders, making one inexplicable throw after another." Aaron's dead on. While we have no way of knowing what's inside Roethlisberger's head -- and frankly, I don't want to -- the results were apparent. The cause, however, was not. I can't say whether it was Ben's post-concussion fuzziness, the effects of the motorcycle crash, a flawed gameplan, or a solid defense. In a small sample size like one game, there's no certainty to be found in the stat line. Instead, we have to take every possible variable into account and the most simple, most apparent one is that Roethlisberger wasn't ready, despite passing the mental and physical tests presented to him by the medical and coaching staffs. We'll see where the ongoing saga goes this week and how that affects the fantasy numbers of the Steelers offense.
As Roethlisberger tries to play through multiple concussions, Trent Green is still trying to come back from one big one. Green still isn't cleared for contact at deadline, but sources in Kansas City tell me that the next step will be a full practice. Yes, he practiced last week and looked good enough to have some team members questioning whether he would be active for their game, but he didn't take contact. This is a bit of a misnomer; QBs don't take contact in practice. You've seen the red jerseys they wear. So how does a "contact practice" work for a QB? "It doesn't," one NFL executive told me. "The QB might get bumped or accidentally knocked down, but no one's going to take a shot at him." That leaves practice as a poor indicator for how Green will do once people hit him with bad intentions. Simply put, I have no idea how Green will play, but neither does anyone else, including the Chiefs.
The Saints are too much of a feel-good story to get bogged down in injuries. There's some intrigue surrounding the mild sprain of Reggie Bush's ankle, with some thinking that the Ravens targeted the rookie and others thinking that Bush used the injury as a way to get off the field. Bush did dodge tackles, lying down a couple times rather than getting blown up, but this has always seemed the smarter strategy to me. X-rays were negative and Bush says he should be ready for next week, but as we know, players are often the worst judges of their health. I talked to Dr. Philip Kwong of Kerlan-Jobe, one of the top foot and ankle guys in the world. He told me that a mild (Grade 1) sprain takes 1-to-3 weeks to recover fully from, but football players don't wait for full recovery. Expect Bush back on the field for the next game with only slight limitations. His fantasy effect is more apparent in the numbers for Drew Brees and Deuce McAllister anyway, so a small injury shouldn't change anyone's opinion on Bush's output potential. Reports on ESPN.com, quoting the Newark Star-Ledger, have Curtis Martin calling it a season due to chronic knee problems. If you've been reading my columns here or even last season, you won't be surprised by this outcome. Martin was on the PUP list with a bone-on-bone condition much like those that ended the career of Terrell Davis and rendered Stephen Davis into an injury-prone fantasy question mark instead of a feature back. Both players and officials in the report thought that Martin would retire and given the injury, there's little chance that Martin could make any mark on the field. There's no way to regenerate the cartilage short of experimental techniques, at least until cartilage regrowth techniques are legally protected and more viable options become available.


I not only told you that Tatum Bell was a risky play last week, I ate my own dog food, picking up Mike Bell. Mike Bell didn't disappoint, putting up 25 fantasy points after Tatum Bell asked out at halftime. Tatum Bell admitted that the turf toe was more significant than he let on prior to the game. Still, his usage pattern in the second half indicates that Mike Shanahan didn't understand the significance either. With Mike Bell sucking down oxygen on the sideline, Tatum Bell was asked to take carries late in the game and twice, the toe caused problems. On the first carry, the toe didn't allow Tatum to get his foot solidly planted and he slipped. On the second carry, he got a good push off a cut and the pain buckled his knee and he went to the ground. Without a good third back -- Cedric Cobbs was unavailable with an ankle injury -- the Broncos were at the mercy of a bad toe. Tatum remains a risky play, both due to the toe and Shanahan's tendencies to play the hot hand, or, with running backs, is that the hot foot?
The Redskins spent much of their bye week just trying to get healthy. Three of their key offensive contributors were in the training room over their break, hoping to be ready for the next game. Things look good for Santana Moss. There's been no setback with his mildly strained hamstring and if he can make it through Sunday without a problem, we can move on from worrying about his leg. Clinton Portis is a tougher one. We'll need to see him on the practice field and out of the walking boot he had on before we'll know what to expect from him this week. At the very least, Portis owners need to know that Ladell Betts pairs well with Portis. (Reader Paul Swydan doesn't like the term "handcuff" and neither do I, so I'm appropriating the Starbucks phrase here.)
I'm also watching Mark Brunell. Aside from concerns that Joe Gibbs might push the vet aside for Jason Campbell in hopes that the younger, more mobile guy might pull a Tony Romo for the Redskins, Brunell also is dealing with a strained intercostal muscle, which is being called a rib injury and some other bangs and bruises. It's interesting to note that Brunell has lost his biggest skill, his mobility. Few players at any position can lose a primary skill and make the adjustments necessary to remain effective. In fact, I can't think of a good example at the QB position. I think that makes the transition to Campbell inevitable, making him a good bench pickup if you need some depth and have the roster room.
Greg Jennings sat out Sunday's game, as expected. The sprained ankle won't keep him out for next week, assuming no setbacks, and he should go right back to the No. 2 slot in Green Bay. His absence opened things up for David Martin, a TE who was one of few healthy targets for Brett Favre. Wait to see if Martin's jaw is broken before adding him. He had a breakout game in the absence of other options in Green Bay, but the injury and the return of Jennings would reduce his fantasy value for all but the really desperate.
LaMont Jordan continues to be limited by a mid-back injury, rendering him a fantasy trap. The consensus first-round pick has been a sound disappointment all season long, being dragged down by the wretched play of the Raiders, though the team appears to be turning around slightly. Jordan's injury negates any team-level gain and until cleared up, puts him not only on the fantasy bench, but might push him off some rosters altogether. At the midpoint of the season, each fantasy owner should know where their team is and adjust accordingly. Jordan's risk negates his possible second-half resurgence for all but the dominant and the desperate. Those mid-pack teams that are facing five weeks of must-win to make the playoffs can't afford an anchor like Jordan. Back injuries, whether structural or muscular, linger and affect play. The location of this injury seriously affects Jordan's ability to catch passes, a big part of his pre-season value. Bumps and Bruises: Both Chester Taylor and Mewelde Moore left Monday's game with stingers. Neither should be serious, nor is there any pattern to this other than mere coincidence. ? Kick returner Tyson Thompson of the Cowboys is done for the season. He'll need surgery to fixate his broken ankle. The injury was suffered on a hit out of bounds. ? The Chargers know that they have to keep LaDainian Tomlinson fresh and healthy. This week's game shows that they understand that Michael Turner is the key to that plan. ? Montae Reagor won't be back in uniform this week as he recovers from a fractured orbital bone suffered in a game day car crash. ?Since I had so many e-mails about this, let me address the concept of risk. Risk doesn't necessarily mean "don't play this guy." It means that there's a reduced likelihood of a positive result or, conversely, an increased likelihood of a negative result. You can't base decisions just off risk, otherwise no one would go to Vegas or buy a lottery ticket. Risk is just one part of the information you need to make an informed decision about your roster. Damon Huard? Well, if you took his risk and his matchup into consideration, you probably missed out on his big day, but you might not have made the wrong decision. Yes, it's possible to be right and wrong all at once, one of the beauties of fantasy football.
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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 10/30/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/30/06)

Oct. 31, 2006, 12:59 PM
Week 8: Biggest Disappointments


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By Jason Langendorf
ESPN.com

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With most NFL teams having tucked eight games under their belts by the end of Monday, we've essentially reached the midpoint of the 2006 season. Anyone else want a do-over?
I'm getting the business from all angles for a couple of my teams that might as well be used as case studies in how not to draft a fantasy football team. In my buddies league, I get an annual cheap thrill from keelhauling some guys I grew up with who turned into doctors and lawyers. Only now my team stinks and I'm dealing with the predictable fallout. In one pseudo-celebrity/experts league, Benjamin Watson's Monday heroics were just enough to make me think I might avoid falling to 2-6 before having my heart torn out yet again. My executioner this week? Ickey Woods. Shoot me now. Please.
Anyway, all that angst got me thinking: Who were fantasy's most heinous first-half disappointments -- and did any of them have a legitimate chance to salvage something for their owners down the stretch? What follows are the 10 biggest busts through Week 8:
10. Jamal Lewis, Ravens
Lewis is a different runner than the guy who ran for 2,000 yards three years ago. Yes, Baltimore's line is falling apart, but Lewis has been tentative and too easily brought down. For a runner with his combination of power and speed in an offense that now has some semblance of a passing threat, his numbers have been unacceptable.
Second-half prognosis: Grim. Coordinator Jim Fassel's ouster isn't likely to help Lewis, and the presence of Mike Anderson and Musa Smith give the Ravens alternatives to consider. Anderson still runs hard and has quality goal-line power, but Smith is the better all-around back and long-term prospect. Consider stashing him in deeper leagues.
9. Rudi Johnson, Bengals
Johnson has Round 1 ability, but something is missing. Receptions, for one -- but that should come as no surprise. The more serious problem has been Cincinnati's poor overall blocking up front. Not only have the absences of linemen Rich Braham and Levi Jones bruised the run game, but Carson Palmer's weakened protection has led to more reserved game plans and more frequent eight-man fronts from opponents.
Second-half prognosis: OK. Johnson could produce at least as well as he has to this point, especially with Palmer and the passing game starting to click. But he's facing a rough stretch, including two games against Baltimore and a Week 16 matchup at Denver. With Braham and Jones likely out for at least another few weeks, don't expect a big turnaround.
8. Randy Moss, Raiders
Terrell Owens and Chris Chambers deserve some consideration here, but both have been almost palatable -- and offer hope for the future. Not so for Moss. He's going through the motions, and even then only about half the time. Andrew Walter might make a nice NFL quarterback someday, but he looks like a slower, more easily rattled Drew Bledsoe right now -- and that's saying something. He isn't getting the time to throw deep, and Moss is an indifferent (and soft) short and intermediate route runner.
Second-half prognosis: Stick a fork in him. Oakland's O-line won't get good enough before season's end to help Moss, and the possible healthy return of Aaron Brooks in the coming weeks isn't exactly the cavalry riding into town.
7. Reggie Bush, Saints
Consider this: Seattle's Maurice Morris, who had all of seven carries in the first two weeks and currently is nursing a 2.9 rushing average, has outrun Bush. To be fair, the rookie has stayed busy and flashed some big-play pop as a receiver and return man, but even tepid experts expected more from Bush than what he's shown so far. The scary thing is, coach Sean Payton has been brilliant in deploying Bush and maximizing his touches in an offense that also includes Deuce McAllister. Is this as good as it gets?
Second-half prognosis: I'm cautiously optimistic. A sprained ankle might keep Bush out in Week 9, but probably not longer (if at all). New Orleans has at least a handful of matchups that favor the run game, and it's hard to imagine a ball carrier with Bush's dazzling athleticism being held without a TD from scrimmage for another eight games.
6. Chad Johnson, Bengals
Rudi isn't Cincinnati's only Johnson who has suffered. Chad -- or Ocho Cinco, if you please -- has his owners pleading no mas. Week 8 was a start (78 yards and a TD), but the Bengals' inability to get Johnson freed up downfield for big plays and scoring chances has frazzled those who saw him as a safe second-round pick.
Second-half prognosis: Promising. Carson Palmer seems to be getting his groove back, and through it all he never has stopped looking Johnson's way. Even if the line doesn't firm up (and it already looks better than it had in the season's first month or so), CJ could take off down the stretch while facing a bevy of leaky secondaries and man-to-man defenses.
5. Drew Bledsoe, Cowboys
Kurt Warner and Bledsoe should start a support group, even if membership will be thin. I mean, exactly how many cement-footed NFL passers with feeble protection and a moody superstar teammate undermining their efforts are out there?
Second-half prognosis: We've lost the patient, doctor. Tony Romo would have to make Dallas long for the days of Ryan Leaf before coach Bill Parcells would consider re-inserting Bledsoe into the lineup. The offensive line just isn't nimble enough to give him time, and the move would practically be an open invitation for Terrell Owens to poison team chemistry. Silver lining: Romo looked competent enough in his first two games of significant regular-season action to merit a look from recovering Bledsoe owners.
4. Carnell Williams, Buccaneers
Williams has bypassed the honeymoon period he graced his owners with as a rookie and dived directly into the chronically banged-up and torpedoed-by-my-offensive line mode. Few runners are as tough as Cadillac, especially when you consider his size. But not only has he been held back by a blocking crew plagued by youth, injuries and mediocrity -- Williams isn't getting the ball near the goal line or in the passing game.
Second-half prognosis: This situation stinks. The Bucs have one of the worst second-half schedules a running back could face, and the defense's stumbles no longer keep the run game viable for four quarters. Even if Williams gets well, owners can't be as optimistic about his surroundings.
3. Edgerrin James, Cardinals
James still has rare power and vision, and he has greater, steadier value because of his versatility as a receiver. But there's a reason people go to Arizona to retire -- and it ain't just the sun and golf. The Cardinals, quite simply, can't block. And James no longer has the explosiveness to make his own fortune in the open field or after the catch. It can be argued that the Matt Leinart-for-Warner swap has created slightly improved opportunities for James, but the results say otherwise.
Second-half prognosis: Edge is cooked. He'll have a better second half than first, if only thanks to Leinart. But the schedule won't offer any noticeable relief, and it's doubtful Arizona's O-line will get appreciably better. James still will put up no better than fourth- or fifth-round fantasy back numbers.
2. LaMont Jordan, Raiders
Never, ever forget the impact of the offensive line and the passing game on a back's value. And good health. Oh, and an honest effort. Seriously, Jordan has taken a bad situation and turned it into something apocalyptic. He doesn't seem to be running as hard this year, and though injuries have been a factor, his half-hearted wave at a lateral that San Francisco parlayed into a TD in Week 5 typifies his season. Oakland's offensive line actually showed a little spunk against Pittsburgh, but Jordan (back) essentially was MIA for the second week in a row.
Second-half prognosis: Yuck. Oakland rarely visits scoring territory, and Jordan's receptions have all but disappeared in a scheme almost devoid of check-downs. Think about picking up Justin Fargas, a powerful, explosive slasher whose ability has been obscured by injuries to this point. The Raiders could start evaluating the young guys soon.
1. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks
Backs who are punished like Alexander was worked the last few years tend to go bust. But in retrospect, how could any sane owner let a healthy, in-his-20s runner coming off a 27-TD season slide past the first three picks? Workhorses LaDainian Tomlinson and Tiki Barber were no less likely to sputter, yet everything that could have gone wrong for Alexander has. The offensive line desperately misses guard Steve Hutchinson (and has been further compromised by injuries and suspensions), the passing game got off to a slow start, and a foot injury sidelined Alexander just when things started getting good.
Second-half prognosis: There's hope. Even with Matt Hasselbeck hobbled and the O-line in poor shape, Alexander could deliver the sort of production we had come to take for granted from him. He's expected to miss another week, but in Week 10 he could kick off a cakewalk of weak run defenses in St. Louis, San Francisco (twice), Green Bay and Arizona. If you've hung in this long, don't quit on him now.
Some Week 8 O-line and defense observations:
Dallas' offensive line isn't blocking any better for Tony Romo than it was for Drew Bledsoe, so what gives? Right tackle Marc Colombo had an excellent game against Carolina's Julius Peppers on Sunday, but the fact is Romo is getting the ball away quicker and buying himself time in and outside the pocket. I wouldn't go so far as to say he's worth a roster spot in standard leagues just yet, but I do like how the change has helped Jason Witten. The Cowboys' tight end hasn't been asked to block as often since Bledsoe was replaced, and he could be Romo's new best friend. Young quarterbacks can thrive with a big, sure-handed, over-the-middle target as a security blanket. ... I've been saying all season that the Raiders have a solid defense. And Chris Carr, who housed an interception working as a dime back late against the Steelers, gives them good potential in the return game. If Aaron Brooks returns to, uh, stabilize the offense, the Raiders' D/ST could have some legs in the second half.
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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 10/30/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/30/06)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Brilliant Brady


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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 -->Entering Monday night's game, it seemed like Tom Brady had been reduced to just a good, but not outstanding, fantasy quarterback. That was understandable, because he had been working with a depleted receiving crew all year long. His best and most accomplished pass-catcher, Deion Branch, is now a Seahawk, and frequent big-play target David Givens has been a nonfactor with Tennessee.
Considering those losses, especially Branch, it might have actually seemed impressive that Brady was able to deliver four consecutive double-digit point outings in ESPN leagues. But on Monday night, facing what many NFL experts deemed a sturdy defense, Brady proved that no matter who his receivers are, he can still carry the offense and deliver terrific fantasy numbers at any time.
Some quarterbacks need quality receivers to help them post fine totals. Then there are the rare passers who are so efficient, they make their receivers look better, and it's the privilege of the pass-catchers to work with them. Brady is certainly the latter. No matter who his receivers are, he's going to get the job done. He'll get the ball there when it has to be, and it's just the job of any New England receiver to catch it. Brady's accuracy and timing go unrivaled by most NFL quarterbacks.
Using 10 different receivers, Brady turned in the best performance of his 2006 season, throwing for 372 yards and four TDs, with just one interception. He tied for the lead among QBs in ESPN leagues this week with 28 points (with Michael Vick), spurring many fantasy teams to come-from-behind victories on Monday night. Owners who started Brady and thought they had long odds of winning their games on Monday night are no doubt rejoicing this morning. Instead of challenging the tough Minnesota run defense, the Patriots came out intending to throw the ball, and couldn't be stopped. Brady got terrific protection and was clearly in tune with his revamped receiving crew, which has come together as a unit.
So where does Brady go from here? Can he keep this up? Is he a must-start player again? While another four-TD performance might not be in the cards for Brady again this season, last night's outing was a clear signal that Brady is capable of the big game at any time. More importantly, he has made the full adjustment to his new receivers by now. So if you don't get amazing performances from Brady every week, you can still look for more than one TD pass in many games. Brady won't always be statistically explosive, but he will at least be dependable. And a QB who is always reliable and sometimes great is one who should always be in your starting lineup. <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
We've established that Brady has reasserted himself as one of the better QBs in fantasy football, but that doesn't mean any of his wide receivers will suddenly become regular fantasy starters. As most experienced fantasy players know, Brady spreads the ball among a few or several targets when he is on top of his game. It's quite amazing that New England didn't have a 100-yard receiver on Monday night. But while none of the Patriots' wide receivers had a great individual performance, tight end Benjamin Watson finally had the promising performance many of us had been waiting for. Watson led the Pats in receiving yards and caught a 9-yard TD pass. Many tight ends are statistically erratic, so even if Watson doesn't perform well every week, it's becoming apparent that he is becoming a more integral part of the passing game and should be a regular starter in most leagues. Reche Caldwell caught seven passes for 84 yards and a TD, and he should at least be added as a free agent in larger leagues. Doug Gabriel finished with 83 receiving yards and is a good No. 3 receiver in many leagues, while Chad Jackson scored for the second consecutive game; even though he has caught just one pass in each of the last two games, both have been TD receptions. He's a great add for depth. The Patriots don't have any outstanding wide receivers, but a few of them are definitely useful.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings
10 carries, 22 yards, 0 TDs

Coming off the best game of his career, Taylor had his worst game of the season. Like Brady, Brad Johnson tried to come out throwing, but he had much less success. When Taylor did get chances to carry, he was often met by several defenders, and when the Vikings quickly fell behind, they had to mostly abandon the running game. Taylor did catch three passes for 27 yards, but it certainly was a disappointing performance after fantasy leaguers thought Taylor had delivered his breakthrough game at Seattle the week before. Expect Taylor to bounce back quickly, as the Vikings go back to depending on the running game to help them win games. The Vikes tried to surprise New England with their passing game and it didn't work, and in the process, they got away from what they do best offensively. Look for Taylor to put Monday night behind him quickly next Sunday at San Francisco. Taylor is a determined runner with great instincts who battles well for extra yardage, and his great work ethic and often unstoppable motor will pay off again next week. If you don't own Taylor, now is a good time to buy low on him.
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<TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><TBODY><TR><TD class=stathead align=middle bgColor=#555555 colSpan=6>Week 8</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Rex Grossman, QB, Bears: Quickly came off the bye and put a forgettable Monday night outing behind him</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>252</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>3</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>0</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>Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals: Totaled 27 touches overall and should continue to shoulder a heavy workload</TD></TR><!-- inline box score --><TR class=colhead><TD>ATT</TD><TD>rushYDS</TD><TD>recYDS</TD><TD>TD</TD><TD>FPTS</TD></TR><TR class=evenrow vAlign=top><TD><NOBR>24</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>84</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>25</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>16</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=tablehead cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3><!-- <tr><td align=center bgcolor="#555555" COLSPAN=6 class="stathead" colspan="6"> </td></tr> --><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Darrell Jackson, WR, Seahawks: He has scored in three straight games and remains a must-start despite the QB change</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>64</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>11</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>1</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>14</NOBR></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff colSpan=5 height=3></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff>
</TD><TD colSpan=5>Owen Daniels, TE, Texans: Has been a regular red-zone target and should continue to be a quality starter</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>99</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>13</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>2</NOBR></TD><TD><NOBR>21</NOBR></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

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Trainer's Room
? Shaun Alexander (foot) has been ruled out for the "Monday Night Football" game against Oakland (doctors have yet to clear him to play). He has been running but has not started to make cuts. Maurice Morris will start again, and he has been mediocre in Alexander's place.
? Raiders QB Aaron Brooks (pectoral muscle) has been cleared to practice, but Andrew Walter will remain Oakland's starting QB, at least for the game against Seattle. No matter who starts for Oakland, neither QB is worth using in most fantasy leagues. Brooks should get a chance to start again soon, though.
? Reggie Bush (ankle) said his injury was an aggravation of a sprain from the season opener, but he expects to play against Tampa Bay. Bush added that the sprain has continued to linger since the first week. Some owners might think the injury has contributed to Bush's disappointing outings, but a lot of defensive attention has been a primary reason for his lack of overall success. ? 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 10/30/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/30/06)

Still plenty of time in fantasy


posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


On Monday, Dec. 5, 2005, the day after the Steelers lost 38-31 to Cincinnati, the general media proclaimed the team done. And why not -- with the unbeaten Colts and Denver and New England playoff-bound, why expect anything from this 7-5 bunch?

A month ago, on Sept. 27, the day after baseball's Cardinals lost their seventh straight game, this time to the Padres, everyone was sticking a fork in them. And why not -- with the dominant Mets approaching 100 wins, why expect anything from an 80-76 team, even if the Cards did make the postseason?
Today, I get an e-mail from someone named Tony, whose team entered last night's fantasy football game with a 25-point lead, and Corey Dillon still left to go, while all his opponent had left was Tom Brady. Yeah, "that's all."
Well, you know how that worked out. Brady goes off, and poor Tony lost by one stinkin' point. And now Tony's Yellow Orangutans (hey, I don't come up with these) are 4-4. Tony thinks he's done. You probably agree.
Tony, meet Ben Roethlisberger, circa 2005. And Jeff Weaver a month ago. The Steelers didn't lose again. They finished 11-5, slipped in as a wild-card entry, and slipped out as Super Bowl champs. The Cardinals? Complain about Detroit's fielding all you want, but the 83-78 Cardinals, with a worse record than five teams that missed the playoffs entirely, got hot at the right time and won the World Series.
So, is Tony done at 4-4?
Well, the fantasy regular season in most leagues has five more weeks left. Why can't Tony win all those games? Unlike real life, where Tony LaRussa and Bill Cowher surely motivated their players to play better, we can't do that in fantasy. No matter how many darts you throw at your Edgerrin James poster, it won't make him play better. He might play better, but I'm certain you're not the reason.
The point is, you put your best players out there and hope for the best. Make a trade, sign a Tony Romo, hope your players all of a sudden get hot, whatever it is, real teams make playoff runs, and so do fantasy teams. Most of us have a story about how we just all of a sudden ran off key wins and qualified for the playoffs. And once you're in, anything can happen. I've had 7-6 teams that were scoring 50 points per game make the playoffs, then get hot and not lose again, and I'll never forget having Warren Moon in back-to-back seasons, going unbeaten in the regular season, but falling in the playoffs. Works both ways.
Regardless, don't give up on your .500 fantasy teams, or on some of the interesting real .500 (or so) teams. Carolina and Philly aren't done. Baltimore and Atlanta, for example, aren't safe. Your 7-1 fantasy team should be playoff-bound, but prepare for the playoffs, they won't necessarily be a cakewalk. And Tony, 4-4 isn't the end.
But you might want to upgrade Corey Dillon anyway, though.
***
Patriots 31, Vikings 7: Did I expect Bill Belichick was going to try to run the ball on a defense that stifles the run? Nope, but did I expect Dillon to get only three carries for 5 yards? Uh, c'mon! Tom Brady had a plan and executed it early and often for his best day of the season, by far. Interesting stat: Each team ran the ball 15 times.
MVP: Clearly it's Brady, who ends up actually topping the Week 8 performance of Peyton Manning, barely. Brady had thrown two touchdowns in four other games, but with low yardage totals, fantasy owners were complaining. Can't complain now! Brady vaults up to the No. 10 spot for the season. Sit him? Not now. Can't wait for this Sunday night's game vs. Peyton.
LVP: You wouldn't have played Brad Johnson anyway; I mean, the guy is barely owned in fantasy. But Chester Taylor sure is, and coming off his monster game in Seattle, in which he broke off a 95-yarder, this one hurts. Taylor actually gained more yards receiving than rushing. Was it a one-game blip, or a sign of things to come? I think Belichick is smart enough to realize the Vikings can't pass the ball a lick. Be worried if other teams figure it out.
Interesting: If there's one New England wide receiver in fantasy lineups, chances are good it is Doug Gabriel. He played well, catching 83 yards worth of passes, but three other receivers (and a tight end) caught touchdown passes. Don't worry, Gabriel clearly remains a top option. Troy Brown and Reche Caldwell aren't major threats to him. Gabriel and Benjamin Watson can coexist. What about the hotshot rookie Chad Jackson? Well, he makes things happen, and his rate of receptions to touchdowns (6-to-3) is unheard of. But he doesn't get thrown at enough to be a safe fantasy starter, or to worry Gabriel owners.
Cowboys 35, Panthers 14: As I wrote on Sunday morning in the blog, I bought into this Tony Romo craze and not only added him in multiple leagues before his first start, but had to play him in one league. I ultimately lost that matchup anyway, but Romo blew away my other options. It was only 15 fantasy points, so let's not call him the next Vick yet, but this week he's in Washington, and there are other nice matchups to come. Oh, and he's got Terrell Owens. Just in case you weren't aware.
MVP: Unlike the situation with the Giants, with Tiki Barber getting all the yards but Brandon Jacobs scoring the touchdowns, a pair of Cowboys running backs are doing touchdown dances. Marion Barber, now popular as a flex option, has scored six times in the last six games, quite an impressive feat considering he's got 52 carries all season. Julius Jones is very underrated, averaging nearly 90 yards rushing per game, and with this touchdown, he's scored three times. No, he doesn't catch the ball (only three receptions all season), but so what! This running-back tandem works.
LVP: Can't blame DeShaun Foster, since he found the end zone. Can't blame Steve Smith, though he did very little receiving, because he ran in for a score. What happened to Jake Delhomme? He had thrown seven touchdowns in his previous four games, and fantasy owners were clearly trusting him. Now? He and another trusted QB, Donovan McNabb, are on their bye. And it's a good time for one.
Interesting: With Drew Bledsoe at the helm, Jason Witten was spending his time blocking. In five games, he caught 16 passes, and in no game did he top 51 yards. Now with Romo? That's 152 yards in two weeks, and his first touchdown. You don't think that's significant in a season with the highest-scoring fantasy tight end averaging nine points? OK, coming Wednesday, it's the Power Rankings. There's going to be a change at the top, I can assure that. No Eagles bias here.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/31/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/31/06)

Week 9 Power Rankings


posted: Wednesday, November 1, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


Stop beating yourself up, there was no way to see that nasty Donovan McNabb game coming. How could you have known? McNabb was averaging 24 fantasy points per game, and then, in a home game against a reeling team that was winless on the road, and without key defensive players and the starting quarterback, Philly doesn't even score a touchdown. Didn't get all that close, either.<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->

<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]Welcome to November! Here are the last few blogs of October.
--A Happy Halloween for Brady; a .500 record doesn't make it too late
--Week 8 wrapup: Stars come out
[/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>So McNabb's stock drops quite a bit, eh? But should it? This isn't college football, where it's far better to have that bad game early on, rather than near Thanksgiving, when it can kill your ranking. McNabb is having a monster season, the best in fantasy football. He had a bad week. He just had it this past week, so it's fresh on your mind.
Other players have had bad weeks, you know. Let's take a look at the current top 10 for season points, and their best and worst weeks:
1. McNabb, 186 points: Best (35, Week 4); Worst (9, Week 8)
2. LaDainian Tomlinson, 158 points: Best (41, Week 8); Worst (6, Week 5)
3. Peyton Manning, 147 points: Best (31, Week 7); Worst (12, Week 5)
4. Larry Johnson, 147 points: Best (41, Week 8); Worst (8, Week 6)
5. Michael Vick, 131 points: Best (28, Week 8); Worst (10, Week 3)
6. Brian Westbrook, 126 points: Best (35, Week 3); Worst (7, Week 6)
7. Marc Bulger, 122 points: Best (27, Week 4); Worst (8, Week 1)
8. Drew Brees, 106 points: Best (23, Week 8); Worst (7, Week 3)
9. Bears D, 106 points: Best (22, Week 1); Worst (6, Week 3)
10. Tom Brady, 105 points: Best (28, Week 8); Worst (8, Week 2)

OK, so that's the season top 10. What does all that mean in relation to McNabb? My point is, take a look at the best weeks for this group of 10. While you're not pleased with what the pair of Eagles did in Week 8, I'd point out that they have no chance when compared to the others.
Week 8, as noted in the Sunday night/Monday morning blog, really was a time for the stars to come out. Half of this top 10 had their best week of the season in Week 8! Manning is on fire, the Bears' D hasn't dropped off at all and Bulger keeps playing well. So basically, every member of the this top 10 is playing well, except for the two Eagles!
And that, my friends, is no reason to panic when it comes to analyzing McNabb or Westbrook, or to overrate the good of the other players. I still think Vick, despite seven touchdown passes in two weeks, is a sell-high option. Do you think he'll keep throwing three or four touchdowns per week, and the Falcons will ignore the run? That's not exactly a prescription for playoff success, is it? I'm not being negative on Vick, I also view McNabb, Westbrook, Brees and Brady as sell-high guys. Also, a defense has never finished in the top 10 in fantasy points; I doubt it occurs this season.
Fantasy football owners are very reactive, as opposed to what we see in other fantasy sports. There's only one game per week, so when you see Brady throw four touchdown passes, you might be tempted to trade the farm to go get him. That's not wise. And while I would try to see what someone might offer for McNabb, don't take less than value. He remains the top player in fantasy football, with only one bad game for the season.
It just happens to have occurred a few days ago.
***
Quick story, then the Power Rankings. A trade went down in one of my leagues last night, and as the commish, I was the first to see it. There is no veto process in this league, nor should there be. Personally, I don't prefer to be in leagues where trades can be overturned. Everyone has an agenda or bias, and ultimately it causes needless argument. Then again, when a lopsided trade occurs, it might not please you, but we're all adults, we should all be responsible for our teams, good or bad.
What really rankles us when we see a bad trade is this: Why couldn't we have robbed the other team?
I know you're thinking this, so admit it. In this league of mine, Steven Jackson essentially got dealt for Tony Romo. That's it. One guy needed a quarterback, badly, and he dumped off his first-rounder for a quarterback with one career start. I see the e-mail and of course, I'm not pleased. But am I angry at the fellow who stole the Rams' running back? Not at all. Congrats to him, I suppose he'll be passing me in the standings real soon. Instead, I'm wondering how I couldn't have been informed Jackson was available for a song!
Might this trade end up working out for both teams? It might not seem possible, but I suppose it is. I've been all over Romo's bandwagon, I even played him in a few leagues in Week 8. I do think he'll be good. But his value isn't on par with the top passers yet. Had Jackson been dealt for Tom Brady I would have winced, and Brady is ranked 10th overall! Jackson isn't!
I know it sounds odd to discuss relative value that way, but Jackson remains worth a lot. And it's not like he just had his McNabb week; Jackson, the No. 14 player in ESPN fantasy leagues, just had his second-best week of the season, with 84 yards rushing and a score, for 19 fantasy points. He's playing well, having scored in three of four games. Really, this trade could have been worse, I suppose. No matter who Jackson was dealt for, sensible or not, it's natural for other owners to wish they were the team getting him. You, the readers, might say this is exactly why there needs to be trade review, but you can never turn it on in Week 9 of a season. Rules are rules.
So what made the Jackson owner, who does have running back depth, move him for a quarterback who still has a lot to prove when he could have received more elsewhere?
It doesn't really matter, does it? All that matters is, I didn't get to do it. And I've gotta keep playing Cadillac. Oh well.
***
McNabb needs to leave the top spot in the Power Rankings, but I'm hardly giving up on him. He ends up behind Peyton Manning because, if I were drafting today, I would select the Colts' quarterback over the Eagles' one. I imagine you would, too. The season leaders are a nice guide, and they can help you in trade talks and evaluating talent, but ultimately it comes down to who is going to score fantasy points moving forward, and even before Week 8, I wrote more than once I didn't expect McNabb to finish the season No. 1 in fantasy. I didn't think Manning would catch him so soon; it's not likely to happen this week, but it should happen in time. Manning trails McNabb by 39 points, and with McNabb on a bye, figure the lead is down to 10 or so points by this time next week. So it's not really out of the ordinary to rank Manning as the top QB.
Of course, he's not No. 1 overall, though.
1. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers (2)
2. Larry Johnson, Chiefs (3)
3. Peyton Manning, Colts (5)
4. Donovan McNabb, Eagles (1)
5. Steven Jackson, Rams (6)
6. Tiki Barber, Giants (9)
7. Brian Westbrook, Eagles (4)
8. Torry Holt, Rams (7)
9. Marc Bulger, Rams (out)
10. Steve Smith, Panthers (10)
11. Michael Vick, Falcons (out)
12. Kevin Jones, Lions (out)

Just missed: Clinton Portis, Redskins (was 8); Rudi Johnson, Bengals; Frank Gore, 49ers; Chester Taylor, Vikings (was 12); Bears D
Dropped out: Tatum Bell, Broncos (was 11); Warrick Dunn, Falcons
Why: I think we're going to see the LT-LJ connection at the top much of the season, which, in retrospect, should never have been doubted. Why Tomlinson over Johnson? No reason. They're close in value, both should be terrific, and worth just about whatever you have to pay (within reason). Then come the top two quarterbacks, and despite the negatives, with Peyton likely to have some trouble this week in a house of horrors (New England) and likely to be holding a clipboard in Week 17, and McNabb having to endure a tougher second-half schedule, I'll rank them ahead of any other running backs.
I still think Barber will find the end zone at some point, and by attrition he moves up a bit. Look, he's healthy, Westbrook is not. Entering the dirty dozen is a Lion, which I know sounds odd, but Jones is ranked fifth among running backs, has had his bye week, catches enough passes to be able to overcome bad days and has been consistent. Vick enters the top 12 as well; I appreciate how well he's been playing.
Portis and Taylor leave the list, though I expect Taylor to find his way back in at some point. Just a tough Monday night against a team intent on stopping him. Of course, if other teams figure out Brad Johnson can't beat 'em, maybe Taylor will have a tough second half. Portis comes off his bye week, but it's likely his stats will suffer some from the quarterback situation in Washington.
Denver's Tatum Bell also leaves the top 12, and the just-missed list, because this turf toe injury is going to cost him playing time. He was terrific heading into Week 8, and now, with Mike Bell taking advantage of the injury, you just know this is again, unfortunately, a time-share. Atlanta's Dunn is done as long as Vick keeps throwing the ball like this. OK, those are your Power Rankings through eight weeks. Let's hear what you think!
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/31/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/31/06)

Nov. 1, 2006, 12:30 PM
FFL: Week 9 Lineup Rankings


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By Scott Engel
ESPN.com

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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. Eli Manning vs. HOU
2. Peyton Manning at NE
3. Rex Grossman vs. MIA
<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->4. Michael Vick at DET
5. Marc Bulger vs. KC
6. Tom Brady vs. IND
7. Philip Rivers vs. CLE
8. Brett Favre at BUF
9. Drew Brees at TB
10. Carson Palmer at BAL
<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. Jon Kitna vs. ATL
12. Damon Huard at STL
13. Tony Romo at WAS
14. Steve McNair vs. CIN
15. J.P. Losman vs. GB
16. David Garrard vs. TEN
17. Seneca Wallace vs. OAK
18. Bruce Gradkowski vs. NO
19. Alex Smith vs. MIN
20. Brad Johnson at SF
21. Mark Brunell vs. DAL
22. Charlie Frye at SD
23. David Carr at NYG
24. Vince Young at JAC
25. Ben Roethlisberger vs. DEN
26. Jake Plummer at PIT
27. Andrew Walter at SEA
28. Joey Harrington at CHI

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

Wide Receivers
1. Torry Holt vs. KC
2. Roy Williams vs. ATL
3. Bernard Berrian vs. MIA
4. Terrell Owens at WAS
5. Marques Colston at TB
6. Andre Johnson at NYG
7. Plaxico Burress vs. HOU
8. Reggie Wayne at NE
9. Hines Ward vs. DEN
10. T.J. Houshmandzadeh at BAL
11. Chad Johnson at BAL
12. Marvin Harrison at NE
13. Darrell Jackson vs. OAK
14. Lee Evans vs. GB
15. Santana Moss vs. DAL
16. Donald Driver at BUF
17. Randy Moss at SEA
18. Joey Galloway vs. NO
19. Joe Horn at TB
20. Eddie Kennison at STL
21. Isaac Bruce vs. KC
22. Deion Branch vs. OAK
23. Javon Walker at PIT
24. Michael Jenkins at DET
25. Doug Gabriel vs. IND
26. Amani Toomer vs. HOU
27. Greg Jennings at BUF
28. Chris Chambers at CHI
29. Muhsin Muhammad vs. MIA
30. Chris Henry at BAL
31. Terry Glenn at WAS
32. Eric Parker vs. CLE
33. Reggie Williams vs. TEN
34. Derrick Mason vs. CIN
35. Antonio Bryant vs. MIN
36. Braylon Edwards at SD
37. Mark Clayton vs. CIN
38. Mike Furrey vs. ATL
39. Reche Caldwell vs. IND
40. Chad Jackson vs. IND
41. Troy Williamson at SF
42. Keenan McCardell vs. CLE
43. Ashley Lelie at DET
44. Michael Clayton vs. NO
45. Travis Taylor at SF
46. Matt Jones vs. TEN
47. Troy Brown vs. IND
48. Drew Bennett at JAC
49. Rod Smith at PIT
50. Nate Washington vs. DEN
51. Joe Jurevicius at SD
52. Brandon Lloyd vs. DAL
53. Kevin Curtis vs. KC
54. Samie Parker at STL
55. Eric Moulds at NYG
56. Santonio Holmes vs. DEN
57. Antwaan Randle El vs. DAL
58. Roscoe Parrish vs. GB
59. Marty Booker at CHI
60. Bobby Wade at JAC

Tight Ends
1. Alge Crumpler at DET
2. Jeremy Shockey vs. HOU
3. Antonio Gates vs. CLE
4. Todd Heap vs. CIN
5. Tony Gonzalez at STL
6. Desmond Clark vs. MIA
7. Kellen Winslow at SD
8. Benjamin Watson vs. IND
9. Chris Cooley vs. DAL
10. Jason Witten at WAS
11. Randy McMichael at CHI
12. Owen Daniels at NYG
13. Dallas Clark at NE
14. Jerramy Stevens vs. OAK
15. Heath Miller vs. DEN
16. Alex Smith vs. NO
17. Courtney Anderson at SEA
18. Eric Johnson vs. MIN
19. Jermaine Wiggins at SF
20. George Wrighster vs. TEN
21. Bo Scaife at JAC
22. Joe Klopfenstein vs. KC
23. Ben Troupe at JAC
24. Tony Scheffler at PIT
25. Bryan Fletcher at NE

Defense/Special Teams
1. Chicago vs. MIA
2. N.Y. Giants vs. HOU
3. Baltimore vs. CIN
4. Jacksonville vs. TEN
5. San Diego vs. CLE
6. Minnesota at SF
7. Pittsburgh vs. DEN
8. Denver at PIT
9. Atlanta at DET
10. Cincinnati at BAL
11. New Orleans at TB
12. Dallas at WAS
13. Indianapolis at NE
14. Buffalo vs. GB
15. Washington vs. DAL
16. New England vs. IND
17. Seattle vs. OAK
18. Tampa Bay vs. NO
19. Detroit vs. ATL
20. Green Bay at BUF
21. Oakland at SEA
22. Tennessee at JAC
23. San Francisco vs. MIN
24. Kansas City at STL
25. Cleveland at SD
26. St. Louis vs. KC
27. Miami at CHI
28. Houston at NYG
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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 10/31/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 10/31/06)

Wednesday, November 1, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Buy-Low Candidates


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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 -->Trading is all about getting the best value for your players, and among the better trading strategies is to target players whose perceived value is low due to recent poor play. Such players are often called "buy-low" candidates, and here are four I'd go get right now:
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: That coach Tony Dungy says he plans to keep splitting the rushing workload between Addai and Dominic Rhodes should only serve to keep down Addai's trade value, but don't buy the talk. Addai continues to see his role in the offense increase, while Rhodes' performance only worsens each week. Maybe Rhodes' eventual role is goal-line back, but I still see Addai getting enough carries to have No. 2 RB upside.
Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins: Maybe he hasn't done anything to warrant the top-10 receiver status he achieved on draft day, and maybe he lacks the top-notch quarterback throwing him the ball. But hasn't that been the case his entire career? What's important is that Chambers is a phenomenal second-half player. In 2005, he had all three of his 100-yard efforts and eight of his 11 TDs from Week 10 on, and in 2004, he had all four of his 100-yard efforts and five of his seven TDs in his final 10 games. Chambers regularly heats up as the weather cools in November and December (OK, only slightly in South Florida), and while Joey Harrington might be erratic, he's capable of getting Chambers the ball.
Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers: Coming off a disappointing Week 8 performance and headed into the bye week with his team only at .500, Delhomme might not have the trust of many of his fantasy owners right now. He's hardly an elite quarterback even at his best, but he's also one of the more reliable ones. With a week off, a lot of people might forget that he averaged 235.5 passing yards and had seven TD passes from Weeks 4-7.
Willis McGahee, RB, Bills: He's sixth in the league in carries per game (21.4) despite Buffalo being outscored by 53 points on the season, which speaks volumes about his importance to the offense. McGahee's numbers might be disappointing, but he's also faced a somewhat tough schedule so far, one that only gets better the rest of the season. He faces four bottom-10 rush defenses in the next seven weeks, including the Colts (Week 10), Texans (Week 11), Jets (Week 14) and Titans (Week 16). <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
He's not starting, not yet, but Raiders WR Jerry Porter is well worth a pickup this week. Coach Art Shell seems to be slowly warming to him, and with none of the Oakland receivers not named Randy Moss doing that well, Porter could quickly emerge once again as the team's No. 2 man, and perhaps a matchups play in fantasy leagues. Don't forget, he averaged 70 receptions for 970 yards and seven scores the past two seasons. ... I'd also make sure to get Titans RB LenDale White, if he's available in your league. Travis Henry once again showed us in Week 8 why he's not an every-week kind of back, failing to capitalize on a favorable matchup against the Texans, while White is considered the future of the franchise at the position. It might take until the latter third of the season before White is ready to take over as a 15-20-carry back, but I think he'll get there before season's end. ... WR Larry Fitzgerald's projected return in Week 10 should do wonders for the development of rookie QB Matt Leinart. Sure, Leinart has looked shaky of late, but that's to be expected of a quarterback in his situation. Remember, even the Mannings and Donovan McNabb weren't all that reliable in their first seasons. I'm not saying Leinart will be a weekly start by any means, not this season, but there are some useful matchups for him down the stretch, including Week 11 against the Lions, Week 13 at the Rams and Week 16 at the 49ers. If Fitzgerald's return after the bye helps him out, I'd think about him as a second-half sleeper.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
25-for-37 passing for 301 yards, 1 TD, 4 interceptions

Concussions are not an easy thing for a player to recover from, and in Roethlisberger's case, boy has he had to deal with his fair share of them this season. It was one thing for him to recover from the one as a result of his accident this summer, but this second one, it sure seemed to limit him in Week 8 at Oakland. He didn't perform quite as poorly as he did in his first two games of the season -- he combined for 349 yards, no TDs and five interceptions in those -- but he made four mistakes, two of them rather costly as they were returned for Oakland touchdowns. In fact, Roethlisberger passes directly resulted in all three TDs in the game, two by Oakland, one to Willie Parker. Roethlisberger shouldn't be in any jeopardy of losing his starting job, at least not so long as he's healthy enough to play, but each time he suffers a setback, it seems to push him right back to where he was when he was first rejoined the lineup in Week 2. And with concussions one of the riskiest injuries to recur, there's no guarantee Roethlisberger will ever get right this season. He has better games ahead, so long as he can avoid more nasty hits, but this is a high-risk, high-reward player for the remainder of the season. His true big breakout might not come until 2007.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 11/1/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 3 New Articles Added 11/1/06)

Thursday, November 2, 2006
<SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://ai059.insightexpressai.com/adServer/adServer.aspx?bannerID=7560"></SCRIPT> Another Fall in Foxborough?


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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 -->Most of us are well aware of the historical struggles of Peyton Manning when he goes to Tom Brady's house. Over the course of his storied career, Manning has viewed Foxborough as a nightmarish location.
Manning is only 2-7 against the Patriots during the Bill Belichick era, and has thrown 14 interceptions in those games. He has a 3-10 record all-time vs. New England, and at Foxborough, he has thrown 11 touchdown passes with 13 interceptions in six career games. Yet, despite all the negative history on the road against the Patriots, Manning finally slayed the demons that seemed to surround him there last season. He threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns with just one interception at New England last November. If you add in two postseason defeats, it was Manning's first win at Foxborough in eight attempts.
For the second consecutive season, Manning is leading an undefeated Colts team into New England. But which Manning will we see? The one who has played well below expectations in many games against New England, or the guy who threw for 345 yards and three TDs on the road against a usually stingy Denver defense last week? Some of you might actually be thinking of benching Manning if your other option is a passer like Rex Grossman or Marc Bulger. Those guys have been putting up good numbers regularly and have much friendlier matchups.
But no matter who he faces, you simply can't bench Manning, even after the Patriots looked so good on defense last week against Minnesota. Manning is no Brad Johnson, and you can't sit your best players when you are making an important push for a fantasy playoff berth. Manning is a fantasy superstar. And fantasy superstars deliver the good numbers against all types of opponents. The Colts might not win the game. But Manning is not intimidated by Brady and his denizens anymore. Past history doesn't matter, and every game in the NFL is unique. This isn't baseball or NASCAR, where we can lean heavily on past results to help us predict outcomes.
Manning carries the Indianapolis offense, and don't expect his team to lay down and not offer a major challenge to the Patriots. While Belichick is a masterful game planner, and he will likely use the running game to control the clock, how can he possibly disguise his coverages well enough at this point of Manning's career to the point where it will overly confuse the Colts QB? He can't fool Manning or throw him off anymore. Manning is simply too experienced for that, and his performance last season against the Pats proved you're going to have to stop him, not confuse him, to beat him. Ultimately, the Patriots could still make the clutch defensive plays to beat Indianapolis. But along the way, Manning will get his numbers, and you can expect at least two TD passes as he slugs it out with Brady on the scoreboard. Keep Manning active, or you will miss another inspired performance that will lead to fine fantasy totals. <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 Peyton Manning should deliver his second consecutive quality performance, there might be only one better starting option this week, and that is his younger brother. After he threw only one TD pass against Tampa Bay last week, some of Eli Manning's fantasy owners might be a little skeptical about starting him if they have another top-level option, again, like a Grossman or Bulger. But Sunday's forecast for the home game against Houston calls for winds of 11 mph, according to the Weather Channel's website, and there is only a 10 percent chance of precipitation. So there might only be one better fantasy option at QB than Peyton Manning this week. That should be Eli Manning. Most owners don't have both, but the Peyton rule should apply to Eli this week. Don't bench him. You shouldn't consider benching your top players during these crucial weeks of the season. Don't outthink yourself. There doesn't seem to be a better matchup than Eli against the Texans. Houston has allowed 224.1 passing yards per game, worst in the AFC. Forget last week, which was a windblown aberration. I'd start Eli Manning over any other QB in fantasy football this week. The Texans have no hope of getting a pass rush, and this one could get ugly quickly, as Eli throws at least three TD passes en route to building a early and large lead.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Bernard Berrian, WR, Bears
Five receptions, 41 yards, 0 TD

All of a sudden, one of fantasy football's biggest early-season surprises has cooled off. Berrian has scored only seven fantasy points in his past two games, and has not scored since Week 5 at Buffalo. Rex Grossman is still throwing the ball very effectively, but he is spreading it around more. With opposing defenses now respecting Berrian more and trying to take away the deep ball from him, Grossman is finding other open receivers. But against the Dolphins this week, Berrian should get back on track against a shaky secondary. Those who have watched Berrian closely this season know he isn't just a speed receiver anymore. He does make the tough possession grabs as well, and will fight for extra yards after the catch. There's a good chance Berrian will get open for a deep ball or two when the Miami secondary breaks down or suffers a miscommunication. And even if Berrian can't break loose for the big gainers, he'll be ready to haul in a scoring pass in the red zone. Most wide receivers go through a spell where they don't perform up to expectations for a game or two. Now is a great time to buy low on Berrian before he re-emerges with another good game this week.
</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 11/2/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 11/2/06)

All the games previewed


posted: Friday, November 3, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


As a football fan, this should be a terrific weekend for a few reasons. One, it doesn't get too much better than Colts-Patriots, one of those regular season games that can define a season (if there is such a thing) and bring you back to why you love the sport. Two, this is November, it's cold, football weather, and hopefully somewhere it will snow (c'mon, Buffalo, where's the precipitation?) And three, the Eagles are on a bye. As an Eagles fan, this is good news. No last-minute losses this week. No Brian Westbrook limping. No on-the-field vomiting. Phew.

I've heard everyone compare Peyton Manning and Tom Brady all week, analyze which one they'd rather have in real life and why, and it generally comes down to the stats vs. rings argument. In fantasy there's really no argument, because, well, it's stats vs. rings. Peyton consistently gets the stats, and fantasy football is a game based on stats, not Brady winning Super Bowls or Ben Roethlisberger going 13-0 as a rookie. Oh, I know Brady actually had more fantasy points than Peyton in Week 8, but that's one week. Just one.
I maintain that all the fantasy owner can really do is go with his best options, which we aim to help you with, and we all hope for the best. If you happen to make a bold guess this week, like sitting Manning for Bruce Gradkowski, and the Tampa Bay quarterback just happens to toss four touchdown passes while Peyton pulls an Andrew Walter, then good for you. Of course this happens occasionally. The stars don't always come out. That's why we play the game; if we knew what precisely would happen each Sunday, now how much of a game would it be?
Play the percentages, go with your top players, check out matchups (but don't overrate them), and always look to improve your team. And you pray. In the end, someone with Billy Volek might knock you out of the playoffs anyway (nah, I'm not still bitter about that at all) and your season ends without a title. Or you could slip into the playoffs at 7-6 and run the table. Happens in one of my leagues every season.
I get a lot of mail, and among the buzz topics this week:
--I'm crazy for recommending Michael Vick as sell high. (Of course, if he plays poorly this week, nobody will remember that.)
--I'm crazy for putting (insert name here, but generally Tiki Barber or Rudi Johnson) in the Power Rankings. (Of course, if Tiki scores this week, nobody will remember that.)
--I'm crazy for hating on Donovan McNabb and must be biased. Do I not remind you every week which team I root for? (Of course, when McNabb does fail to finish the season No. 1 overall, nobody will remember that.)
--I'm crazy for saying a .500 team can still win a fantasy league. (Trust me, it happens all the time. Last season nearly half of the No. 1 seeds in fantasy didn't make it out of the first round. Someone has to be beating them, and it's generally the hot team. Of course when your .500 team doesn't lose again, you won't remember that.)
--I'm just crazy. (Of course, you may be right, I may be crazy. Apologies to Billy Joel for stealing his line.)
On to the crazy games:
Falcons 24, Lions 20: I'd look silly if I wrote Vick would have a bad game. I think he'll be good again, especially against a team that just doesn't stop the pass well. This game is perfectly suited for Vick and Alge Crumpler. Two weeks still isn't much of a sample size (wow, seven touchdown passes!), no matter how decent the defenses he's faced, but it's clear this is a different Vick, motivated to do this.
For Atlanta: I'll predict two touchdown passes for Vick, and 70 yards rushing. Detroit is just not a very good defense. Be careful about Warrick Dunn, though. He hasn't done much these past two weeks, really, has been average in four of five weeks. Only once has he reached 70 yards rushing. I don't expect a ton of yards here. And Crumpler is it for Atlanta receivers. Now, I don't use Michael Jenkins.
For Detroit: The Lions big three should be able to move the ball. They've done it all season. Jon Kitna is a top 10 fantasy quarterback, Kevin Jones is fifth among running backs, and our strange pals Hector & Victor rank Roy Williams as the top wide receiver this week. Now who would call them crazy? Expect Jones to have a good day, even if half the value is catching the ball. Kitna gets two scores.
Ravens 23, Bengals 21: Going with the home team in this one, because it plays better defense and the road team is in some disarray. Cincy allows points, and the last time the Bengals hit the road, they lost to Tampa Bay. I don't think the Ravens' offense is really any better now that Jim Fassel is gone, but sometimes change just works.
For Baltimore: Steve McNair is going to be a popular play this week, coming off three scores, but I don't expect more than one touchdown. Jamal Lewis should come close to 100 yards against this defense. And, as always, the only Ravens receiver of note is the tight end. Stop wasting your time on Derrick Mason.
For Cincy: The problem with this team's receiver corps is that all three are legit plays, but you don't know which one will do something. I have a league in which I will play Chris Henry, and another I'll leave T.J. Houshmandzadeh in there. Chad Johnson is talented, of course, but could he be the team's third-most talented receiver? If you have any of these guys, don't be afraid to play them because of the potential timeshare, or the opponent. Any of them could be fantasy worthy. I'll go with Henry. He makes the big plays. Rudi Johnson can be productive, leave him in and expect 75 yards, possibly a score. Chris Perry isn't taking his touches away yet. Oh, and play Carson Palmer, but he might get only one touchdown.
Cowboys 31, Redskins 10: Blowout game, with the more talented team romping and continuing to flex its newly found muscles. Is it possible Mark Brunell plays well and keeps his job? I suppose, but it seems like even the team knows this is coming. And don't overrate the team coming off a bye week; the Redskins are still battered.
For Dallas: Play everyone! Tony Romo should get two touchdowns, both his receivers will be involved (yes, even Terry Glenn) and both running backs are legit. Julius Jones gets the yards and possibly a score, and Marion Barber has scored six touchdowns the past six games. Not a fluke.
For Washington: Clinton Portis should be in the lineup for real, so you should play him, but what are the chances he has a big game, especially being banged up? Sit everyone else, including Santana Moss.
Packers 24, Bills 10: I haven't seen this discussed much, and maybe it's a stretch, but when Brett Favre wins this game he'll have a .500 team. And in a messy conference with other wild card teams only a game ahead of that, the Packers could be playoff bound! So what if they're 2-4 in the conference, and haven't beaten a good team, is Buffalo any good?
For Green Bay: Favre has three straight double digit fantasy games, this should be his fourth. He hasn't topped 220 yards since Week 3, but to end up between 180 and 220 yards each week, at least that's something. Look for the Packers to establish the run again, with Ahman Green a worthy play for 75 yards, maybe a score. I'd stick with Donald Driver as a good play, but not Greg Jennings, even though the rookie is likely to be in uniform.
For Buffalo: I'm tired of this team, aren't you? Never play J.P. Losman, use Lee Evans only because if there ever is a touchdown, he should be involved, and as for Willis McGahee, he has averaged eight fantasy points the past three games. I can't predict a good game for him until we see something. Give him 60 yards, that's it.
Giants 24, Texans 6: Another blowout game, with the Giants' defense taking care of matters against an offense that needed Sage Rosenfels to revive it last week.
For New York: I'm going to keep predicting Tiki Barber will score a touchdown until he does. This is the week! Eli Manning hasn't reached 200 yards in any of the past three weeks, and won't in this one either, because the Giants will run, run, run. Eli gets one score, 180 yards. Brandon Jacobs is a decent flex play for his 40 yards and a touchdown. He's done this three straight games.
For Houston: Sorry, don't like anyone. Wali Lundy has become the main running back, but the Giants are shutting offenses down. David Carr? No way. Play Andre Johnson on the theory that if Houston does score, and Carr does get to 200 yards, Johnson plays a big role. And when Carr is bad again, will we see Sage make things interesting? Nope. Do that two weeks in a row and you've got a QB controversy, and there shouldn't be one here.
Chiefs 31, Rams 27: Upset special, with lame-duck QB Damon Huard running out of time to prove that he should remain the starter. You know what? It doesn't matter what he does, Trent Green will get to start based on loyalty. Kansas City has looked a lot better since that Pittsburgh blowout, beating the Chargers and Seahawks. Here comes an unlikely road win.
For Kansas City: Huard hit 300 yards last week, and he might do it again, unless it becomes clear Larry Johnson can do it all himself. Figure Huard gets two touchdowns and Johnson two more, and Eddie Kennison scores in a place he used to play.
For St. Louis: They'll move the ball as well, and there's never a reason to sit Marc Bulger, Steven Jackson or Torry Holt. Each should thrive in this game, with Bulger reaching 300 yards, and the other two threatening to reach 100 yards.
Bears 35, Dolphins 10: Our third blowout, and real predictable. The way Chicago is playing, how can Joey Harrington compete? The only difference from last week, when the Bears put up 41 in the first half vs. San Francisco is, this one's in Florida. So they only get 21 by the half.
For Chicago: Rex Grossman is a solid play with two touchdown passes, Bernard Berrian gets back into the scoring column and both Bears running backs register touchdowns. Thomas Jones, as always, is the smarter play, but Cedric Benson could be a flex contender.
For Miami: Sit 'em all. Even Ronnie Brown, who has topped 70 yards rushing only twice all season, isn't a good play.
Saints 20, Buccaneers 10: I just don't think the Bucs have much to offer, even in a winnable game like this. And I do think the Saints are beatable. Drew Brees gets his numbers each week, but he's lost two of his biggest statistical efforts. It comes down to Bruce Gradkowski, who played well initially, but hasn't the past few weeks.
For New Orleans: Gotta stick with what works, so expect Brees to reach 250 yards and score twice, Deuce McAllister to get 75 yards, and Marques Colston to have a big day. Joe Horn has had two straight big games, but I won't bet on a third. Sit Reggie Bush. If this injury doesn't convince you he's average statistically (so far), what will?
For Tampa Bay: I have Carnell Williams on multiple teams, and I just can't stomach it anymore. He sits, even for the likes of Brandon Jacobs and flex wide receivers like Chris Henry. I mean, his best game is 12 fantasy points. Enough already. BUST! And sit the other Bucs as well. Joey Galloway is no less maddening. Nice work outta Philly losing to this bunch.
Jaguars 14, Titans 7: I'm not buying that Jacksonville is "back" after winning in Philly last week. Jacksonville ran the ball all day against a team that looked beaten and unmotivated early. Tennessee is hardly a great team, but it has won two straight, can potentially control the clock and is decent defensively. This seems like a lively upset possibility, even though the last time the Jags were home, they beat the Jets 41-0. I'll stop short of the upset, but it should be interesting.
For Tennessee: Sometimes you've got to zig when everyone else zags. Travis Henry comes off a brutal game. The game before he ran wild. I see him as a surprise play who gets near 100 yards, maybe he gets the team's score. Hey, we didn't expect it against the Redskins, either. I wouldn't play any other Titans, including Vince Young.
For Jacksonville: I'm not a Byron Leftwich fantasy fan anymore, and I didn't think he should get the start. But really, while David Garrard wins games and will start, his arm isn't a threat. Shut down Fred Taylor and you can beat this team. Give Taylor OK numbers, like 70 yards and a score. Don't use any Jags receivers. The QB doesn't matter, it's a trick.
49ers 16, Vikings 13: Upset special, because Minnesota is just not that good of an offensive team. Chester Taylor will bounce back, assuming the Vikings don't trail again early. Nobody expects the 49ers to win this game. Everyone assumes the Vikings bounce back on short rest and having to travel? Well, I think they're not quite as good as people think.
For San Francisco: Alex Smith has looked dreadful his past two games, but has anyone pointed out those were against the Chargers and Bears? Would I go out of my way to play Smith in fantasy? Probably not, but he should get a touchdown or two. Frank Gore has to meet a tough run defense that New England essentially avoided, but don't assume he ends up with only three rushes, like Corey Dillon. Gore ran well against the Bears, topping 100 yards. I'll give him 75 yards.
For Minnesota: The only Viking I would play, and this has been the theme for a month, is Taylor. He should have a good day, but that doesn't always equal a victory. I would not use Brad Johnson just because of the matchup.
Chargers 34, Browns 9: Yep, there's no Shawne Merriman this week. Doesn't matter. LT is in the house.
For San Diego: Never, ever, ever sit LaDainian Tomlinson. Another big game is coming. Michael Turner I'd sit, but I can see him getting double digit carries. Might be a flex option. Philip Rivers will pile up the yards and get two touchdowns. Win-win for the Chargers. Merriman who?
For Cleveland: Sit 'em all. Reuben Droughns went from 12 carries to 33 last week, which certainly contributed to his best game of the season. But the Chargers should grab an early lead and Charlie Frye will be throwing a lot. And he'll be throwing to the other team.
Steelers 24, Broncos 21: The proud Cowhers still have something left of their season, and while it's unlikely Ben Roethlisberger can lead them back to the playoffs, I think people have been too reactive with him, like a yo-yo after good and bad games. Ben played very well in Weeks 6 and 7. Then he played poorly at Oakland, a team that, surprisingly has played fine defense much of the season. Was it Roethlisberger's concussion that made him throw four picks? Or was it a bad game against an underrated defense? Whatever the case, he gets the win. I can't see Pittsburgh falling to 2-6.
For Pittsburgh: Roethlisberger does enough to win, which means 230 yards and two scores. He's not going to be a popular fantasy play, nor should he be, but he's a better option than his QB opponent, that's for sure. Willie Parker needs to get the tough yards, and I could see 60 yards and a score. Hines Ward is worth playing.
For Denver: Can't choose between the Bells? Sit 'em both. Tatum Bell is battling turf toe, and not a good option. Might he play well? It's possible, but consider that the Steelers have a ton to play for, I doubt it. And Mike Bell has been inconsistent. Sure, that was a huge second half against Indy. Teams run on Indy all the time. Meanwhile, teams try to pass on Pittsburgh (see Vick) and I can't see Jake Plummer doing that. Denver's favored, I think the home team wins.
Patriots 28, Colts 24: Nothing against Peyton Manning, I just trust Bill Belichick more, especially in a home game. He's got a healthy defense, and a fine, young running back ready to explode. This is the week. Manning and Brady make the pregame news, and Laurence Maroney gets Monday's headlines.
For New England: I think both Maroney and Corey Dillon are solid plays, with both a touchdown possibility. The past few weeks Brady has thrown the ball. This week he goes back to 180 yards and a score, and hands off a lot. If Mike Bell can do that in one half of play, then Belichick is going to run the ball, a lot. Don't expect any of Brady's wide receivers to be great plays. If you have to choose one, I still stick with Doug Gabriel.
For Indy: Of course you play Peyton Manning, and he'll accumulate decent enough stats to be worth it in fantasy. So will his receivers. I do think Joseph Addai is a better play than Dominic Rhodes, and Addai worthy of a fantasy start. What a game this should be.
Seahawks 24, Raiders 17: Seneca Wallace vs. Andrew Walter. Just what the TV execs had planned! Wallace isn't a bad quarterback, and the Oakland defense is better than people think. I'll still take the home team, in a messy affair, but don't look for many fantasy options here.
For Seattle: Darrell Jackson has reached every week status, no matter who the QB is. Deion Branch isn't there yet, I wouldn't expect big stats in this one. Wallace could get 200 yards and a score, but he's likely to turn the ball over at least once. As for Maurice Morris, really, haven't you seen enough?
For Oakland: Randy Moss is about the only Raider I'd play. Don't waste your loyalty on LaMont Jordan. In January we'll look at his numbers and collectively say they're brutal, but really, nobody saw it coming. It's Week 9. We see it coming now. OK, have a great weekend and we'll see ya Sunday morning.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 11/2/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 1 New Article Added 11/2/06)

All the games previewed


posted: Friday, November 3, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


As a football fan, this should be a terrific weekend for a few reasons. One, it doesn't get too much better than Colts-Patriots, one of those regular season games that can define a season (if there is such a thing) and bring you back to why you love the sport. Two, this is November, it's cold, football weather, and hopefully somewhere it will snow (c'mon, Buffalo, where's the precipitation?) And three, the Eagles are on a bye. As an Eagles fan, this is good news. No last-minute losses this week. No Brian Westbrook limping. No on-the-field vomiting. Phew.

I've heard everyone compare Peyton Manning and Tom Brady all week, analyze which one they'd rather have in real life and why, and it generally comes down to the stats vs. rings argument. In fantasy there's really no argument, because, well, it's stats vs. rings. Peyton consistently gets the stats, and fantasy football is a game based on stats, not Brady winning Super Bowls or Ben Roethlisberger going 13-0 as a rookie. Oh, I know Brady actually had more fantasy points than Peyton in Week 8, but that's one week. Just one.
I maintain that all the fantasy owner can really do is go with his best options, which we aim to help you with, and we all hope for the best. If you happen to make a bold guess this week, like sitting Manning for Bruce Gradkowski, and the Tampa Bay quarterback just happens to toss four touchdown passes while Peyton pulls an Andrew Walter, then good for you. Of course this happens occasionally. The stars don't always come out. That's why we play the game; if we knew what precisely would happen each Sunday, now how much of a game would it be?
Play the percentages, go with your top players, check out matchups (but don't overrate them), and always look to improve your team. And you pray. In the end, someone with Billy Volek might knock you out of the playoffs anyway (nah, I'm not still bitter about that at all) and your season ends without a title. Or you could slip into the playoffs at 7-6 and run the table. Happens in one of my leagues every season.
I get a lot of mail, and among the buzz topics this week:
--I'm crazy for recommending Michael Vick as sell high. (Of course, if he plays poorly this week, nobody will remember that.)
--I'm crazy for putting (insert name here, but generally Tiki Barber or Rudi Johnson) in the Power Rankings. (Of course, if Tiki scores this week, nobody will remember that.)
--I'm crazy for hating on Donovan McNabb and must be biased. Do I not remind you every week which team I root for? (Of course, when McNabb does fail to finish the season No. 1 overall, nobody will remember that.)
--I'm crazy for saying a .500 team can still win a fantasy league. (Trust me, it happens all the time. Last season nearly half of the No. 1 seeds in fantasy didn't make it out of the first round. Someone has to be beating them, and it's generally the hot team. Of course when your .500 team doesn't lose again, you won't remember that.)
--I'm just crazy. (Of course, you may be right, I may be crazy. Apologies to Billy Joel for stealing his line.)
On to the crazy games:
Falcons 24, Lions 20: I'd look silly if I wrote Vick would have a bad game. I think he'll be good again, especially against a team that just doesn't stop the pass well. This game is perfectly suited for Vick and Alge Crumpler. Two weeks still isn't much of a sample size (wow, seven touchdown passes!), no matter how decent the defenses he's faced, but it's clear this is a different Vick, motivated to do this.
For Atlanta: I'll predict two touchdown passes for Vick, and 70 yards rushing. Detroit is just not a very good defense. Be careful about Warrick Dunn, though. He hasn't done much these past two weeks, really, has been average in four of five weeks. Only once has he reached 70 yards rushing. I don't expect a ton of yards here. And Crumpler is it for Atlanta receivers. Now, I don't use Michael Jenkins.
For Detroit: The Lions big three should be able to move the ball. They've done it all season. Jon Kitna is a top 10 fantasy quarterback, Kevin Jones is fifth among running backs, and our strange pals Hector & Victor rank Roy Williams as the top wide receiver this week. Now who would call them crazy? Expect Jones to have a good day, even if half the value is catching the ball. Kitna gets two scores.
Ravens 23, Bengals 21: Going with the home team in this one, because it plays better defense and the road team is in some disarray. Cincy allows points, and the last time the Bengals hit the road, they lost to Tampa Bay. I don't think the Ravens' offense is really any better now that Jim Fassel is gone, but sometimes change just works.
For Baltimore: Steve McNair is going to be a popular play this week, coming off three scores, but I don't expect more than one touchdown. Jamal Lewis should come close to 100 yards against this defense. And, as always, the only Ravens receiver of note is the tight end. Stop wasting your time on Derrick Mason.
For Cincy: The problem with this team's receiver corps is that all three are legit plays, but you don't know which one will do something. I have a league in which I will play Chris Henry, and another I'll leave T.J. Houshmandzadeh in there. Chad Johnson is talented, of course, but could he be the team's third-most talented receiver? If you have any of these guys, don't be afraid to play them because of the potential timeshare, or the opponent. Any of them could be fantasy worthy. I'll go with Henry. He makes the big plays. Rudi Johnson can be productive, leave him in and expect 75 yards, possibly a score. Chris Perry isn't taking his touches away yet. Oh, and play Carson Palmer, but he might get only one touchdown.
Cowboys 31, Redskins 10: Blowout game, with the more talented team romping and continuing to flex its newly found muscles. Is it possible Mark Brunell plays well and keeps his job? I suppose, but it seems like even the team knows this is coming. And don't overrate the team coming off a bye week; the Redskins are still battered.
For Dallas: Play everyone! Tony Romo should get two touchdowns, both his receivers will be involved (yes, even Terry Glenn) and both running backs are legit. Julius Jones gets the yards and possibly a score, and Marion Barber has scored six touchdowns the past six games. Not a fluke.
For Washington: Clinton Portis should be in the lineup for real, so you should play him, but what are the chances he has a big game, especially being banged up? Sit everyone else, including Santana Moss.
Packers 24, Bills 10: I haven't seen this discussed much, and maybe it's a stretch, but when Brett Favre wins this game he'll have a .500 team. And in a messy conference with other wild card teams only a game ahead of that, the Packers could be playoff bound! So what if they're 2-4 in the conference, and haven't beaten a good team, is Buffalo any good?
For Green Bay: Favre has three straight double digit fantasy games, this should be his fourth. He hasn't topped 220 yards since Week 3, but to end up between 180 and 220 yards each week, at least that's something. Look for the Packers to establish the run again, with Ahman Green a worthy play for 75 yards, maybe a score. I'd stick with Donald Driver as a good play, but not Greg Jennings, even though the rookie is likely to be in uniform.
For Buffalo: I'm tired of this team, aren't you? Never play J.P. Losman, use Lee Evans only because if there ever is a touchdown, he should be involved, and as for Willis McGahee, he has averaged eight fantasy points the past three games. I can't predict a good game for him until we see something. Give him 60 yards, that's it.
Giants 24, Texans 6: Another blowout game, with the Giants' defense taking care of matters against an offense that needed Sage Rosenfels to revive it last week.
For New York: I'm going to keep predicting Tiki Barber will score a touchdown until he does. This is the week! Eli Manning hasn't reached 200 yards in any of the past three weeks, and won't in this one either, because the Giants will run, run, run. Eli gets one score, 180 yards. Brandon Jacobs is a decent flex play for his 40 yards and a touchdown. He's done this three straight games.
For Houston: Sorry, don't like anyone. Wali Lundy has become the main running back, but the Giants are shutting offenses down. David Carr? No way. Play Andre Johnson on the theory that if Houston does score, and Carr does get to 200 yards, Johnson plays a big role. And when Carr is bad again, will we see Sage make things interesting? Nope. Do that two weeks in a row and you've got a QB controversy, and there shouldn't be one here.
Chiefs 31, Rams 27: Upset special, with lame-duck QB Damon Huard running out of time to prove that he should remain the starter. You know what? It doesn't matter what he does, Trent Green will get to start based on loyalty. Kansas City has looked a lot better since that Pittsburgh blowout, beating the Chargers and Seahawks. Here comes an unlikely road win.
For Kansas City: Huard hit 300 yards last week, and he might do it again, unless it becomes clear Larry Johnson can do it all himself. Figure Huard gets two touchdowns and Johnson two more, and Eddie Kennison scores in a place he used to play.
For St. Louis: They'll move the ball as well, and there's never a reason to sit Marc Bulger, Steven Jackson or Torry Holt. Each should thrive in this game, with Bulger reaching 300 yards, and the other two threatening to reach 100 yards.
Bears 35, Dolphins 10: Our third blowout, and real predictable. The way Chicago is playing, how can Joey Harrington compete? The only difference from last week, when the Bears put up 41 in the first half vs. San Francisco is, this one's in Florida. So they only get 21 by the half.
For Chicago: Rex Grossman is a solid play with two touchdown passes, Bernard Berrian gets back into the scoring column and both Bears running backs register touchdowns. Thomas Jones, as always, is the smarter play, but Cedric Benson could be a flex contender.
For Miami: Sit 'em all. Even Ronnie Brown, who has topped 70 yards rushing only twice all season, isn't a good play.
Saints 20, Buccaneers 10: I just don't think the Bucs have much to offer, even in a winnable game like this. And I do think the Saints are beatable. Drew Brees gets his numbers each week, but he's lost two of his biggest statistical efforts. It comes down to Bruce Gradkowski, who played well initially, but hasn't the past few weeks.
For New Orleans: Gotta stick with what works, so expect Brees to reach 250 yards and score twice, Deuce McAllister to get 75 yards, and Marques Colston to have a big day. Joe Horn has had two straight big games, but I won't bet on a third. Sit Reggie Bush. If this injury doesn't convince you he's average statistically (so far), what will?
For Tampa Bay: I have Carnell Williams on multiple teams, and I just can't stomach it anymore. He sits, even for the likes of Brandon Jacobs and flex wide receivers like Chris Henry. I mean, his best game is 12 fantasy points. Enough already. BUST! And sit the other Bucs as well. Joey Galloway is no less maddening. Nice work outta Philly losing to this bunch.
Jaguars 14, Titans 7: I'm not buying that Jacksonville is "back" after winning in Philly last week. Jacksonville ran the ball all day against a team that looked beaten and unmotivated early. Tennessee is hardly a great team, but it has won two straight, can potentially control the clock and is decent defensively. This seems like a lively upset possibility, even though the last time the Jags were home, they beat the Jets 41-0. I'll stop short of the upset, but it should be interesting.
For Tennessee: Sometimes you've got to zig when everyone else zags. Travis Henry comes off a brutal game. The game before he ran wild. I see him as a surprise play who gets near 100 yards, maybe he gets the team's score. Hey, we didn't expect it against the Redskins, either. I wouldn't play any other Titans, including Vince Young.
For Jacksonville: I'm not a Byron Leftwich fantasy fan anymore, and I didn't think he should get the start. But really, while David Garrard wins games and will start, his arm isn't a threat. Shut down Fred Taylor and you can beat this team. Give Taylor OK numbers, like 70 yards and a score. Don't use any Jags receivers. The QB doesn't matter, it's a trick.
49ers 16, Vikings 13: Upset special, because Minnesota is just not that good of an offensive team. Chester Taylor will bounce back, assuming the Vikings don't trail again early. Nobody expects the 49ers to win this game. Everyone assumes the Vikings bounce back on short rest and having to travel? Well, I think they're not quite as good as people think.
For San Francisco: Alex Smith has looked dreadful his past two games, but has anyone pointed out those were against the Chargers and Bears? Would I go out of my way to play Smith in fantasy? Probably not, but he should get a touchdown or two. Frank Gore has to meet a tough run defense that New England essentially avoided, but don't assume he ends up with only three rushes, like Corey Dillon. Gore ran well against the Bears, topping 100 yards. I'll give him 75 yards.
For Minnesota: The only Viking I would play, and this has been the theme for a month, is Taylor. He should have a good day, but that doesn't always equal a victory. I would not use Brad Johnson just because of the matchup.
Chargers 34, Browns 9: Yep, there's no Shawne Merriman this week. Doesn't matter. LT is in the house.
For San Diego: Never, ever, ever sit LaDainian Tomlinson. Another big game is coming. Michael Turner I'd sit, but I can see him getting double digit carries. Might be a flex option. Philip Rivers will pile up the yards and get two touchdowns. Win-win for the Chargers. Merriman who?
For Cleveland: Sit 'em all. Reuben Droughns went from 12 carries to 33 last week, which certainly contributed to his best game of the season. But the Chargers should grab an early lead and Charlie Frye will be throwing a lot. And he'll be throwing to the other team.
Steelers 24, Broncos 21: The proud Cowhers still have something left of their season, and while it's unlikely Ben Roethlisberger can lead them back to the playoffs, I think people have been too reactive with him, like a yo-yo after good and bad games. Ben played very well in Weeks 6 and 7. Then he played poorly at Oakland, a team that, surprisingly has played fine defense much of the season. Was it Roethlisberger's concussion that made him throw four picks? Or was it a bad game against an underrated defense? Whatever the case, he gets the win. I can't see Pittsburgh falling to 2-6.
For Pittsburgh: Roethlisberger does enough to win, which means 230 yards and two scores. He's not going to be a popular fantasy play, nor should he be, but he's a better option than his QB opponent, that's for sure. Willie Parker needs to get the tough yards, and I could see 60 yards and a score. Hines Ward is worth playing.
For Denver: Can't choose between the Bells? Sit 'em both. Tatum Bell is battling turf toe, and not a good option. Might he play well? It's possible, but consider that the Steelers have a ton to play for, I doubt it. And Mike Bell has been inconsistent. Sure, that was a huge second half against Indy. Teams run on Indy all the time. Meanwhile, teams try to pass on Pittsburgh (see Vick) and I can't see Jake Plummer doing that. Denver's favored, I think the home team wins.
Patriots 28, Colts 24: Nothing against Peyton Manning, I just trust Bill Belichick more, especially in a home game. He's got a healthy defense, and a fine, young running back ready to explode. This is the week. Manning and Brady make the pregame news, and Laurence Maroney gets Monday's headlines.
For New England: I think both Maroney and Corey Dillon are solid plays, with both a touchdown possibility. The past few weeks Brady has thrown the ball. This week he goes back to 180 yards and a score, and hands off a lot. If Mike Bell can do that in one half of play, then Belichick is going to run the ball, a lot. Don't expect any of Brady's wide receivers to be great plays. If you have to choose one, I still stick with Doug Gabriel.
For Indy: Of course you play Peyton Manning, and he'll accumulate decent enough stats to be worth it in fantasy. So will his receivers. I do think Joseph Addai is a better play than Dominic Rhodes, and Addai worthy of a fantasy start. What a game this should be.
Seahawks 24, Raiders 17: Seneca Wallace vs. Andrew Walter. Just what the TV execs had planned! Wallace isn't a bad quarterback, and the Oakland defense is better than people think. I'll still take the home team, in a messy affair, but don't look for many fantasy options here.
For Seattle: Darrell Jackson has reached every week status, no matter who the QB is. Deion Branch isn't there yet, I wouldn't expect big stats in this one. Wallace could get 200 yards and a score, but he's likely to turn the ball over at least once. As for Maurice Morris, really, haven't you seen enough?
For Oakland: Randy Moss is about the only Raider I'd play. Don't waste your loyalty on LaMont Jordan. In January we'll look at his numbers and collectively say they're brutal, but really, nobody saw it coming. It's Week 9. We see it coming now. OK, have a great weekend and we'll see ya Sunday morning.
 
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