Join SI.com's James Quintong in a discussion of some of the latest news in football, baseball and other sports and how it relates to fantasy teams and leagues.
10/04/2006 05:22:00 PM
Wednesday news and views
Donte Stallworth may miss the matchup against Terrell Owens because of a hamstring injury that seems to come back every year.
A hodgepodge of fantasy football notes for a rather quiet week so far -- especially with Terrell Owens' return to Philadelphia still looming. Most of the injuries that are looming have either been lingering for a while or don't seem all too serious.
Many of this week's pressing injuries all come from the Monday night game. Brett Favre looks to be ready to go despite suffering head and shoulder injuries, but Donald Driver is banged up with hip and rib injuries. And Robert Ferguson has a foot injury, although Koren Robinson seems to have stepped in for him nicely in the offense. And who knows what to make of Ahman Green's hamstring problems that made him a surprise scratch, foiling many fantasy matchups.
On the Eagles' side, neither Brian Westbrook nor Donte Stallworth practiced on Wednesday, and it's looking less likely that either will play. We've seen what they can do when they're healthy, unfortunately, fantasy owners have to deal with too many weeks like this where we're never sure what to expect. They're two of the most aggravating players in fantasy football because of their propensity to get hurt just as they're putting up big stats.
Among other injuries to watch this week: -- Jeremy Shockey's ankle is still bothering him, but the Giants did mention that they won't be benching him for his comments about the coaching staff after the Week 3 thrashing by the Seahawks. -- Matt Jones is now dealing with a hamstring injury, in addition to a groin injury. It's best to keep him benched for now, especially with Reggie Williams emerging as Jacksonville's No. 1 wideout. -- Laveranues Coles is still battling a calf injury; however, that hasn't stopped him from playing the past few weeks and continuing to produce. He does have an interesting matchup against the Jaguars this week. -- Daniel Graham has a knee injury and is questionable. He's a marginal fantasy play to begin with, but can have nice numbers on occasion. That could mean a few more looks for Ben Watson as well as third tight end David Thomas. However, Tom Brady may be looking more at Doug Gabriel to be his No. 1 target. -- Jermaine Wiggins is also questionable with a hamstring injury. He faces a nice matchup against the Lions and would be worth starting (especially if you have Alge Crumpler on a bye week) if you can guarantee he's healthy.
While the circus surrounding T.O.'s return to Philadelphia will make it the game to watch, what other matchups are you looking forward to this weekend because of the potential for major fantasy points?
Peyton Manning's Colts taking on the Titans seems ripe for plenty of points, especially with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne still itching for their first touchdown of the season. After finding his way last week, Larry Johnson could be in for big numbers against the Cardinals.
And to show how much fantasy football can affect viewing habits, that seemingly awful-looking Raiders-49ers matchup is intriguing if only to see what Frank Gore, Alex Smith and even LaMont Jordan can put up. I'm sure it's a popular choice for people in knockout pools as well.
Donovan McNabb had a hand in all four Eagles touchdowns.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
If you were looking for this game to give you the necessary points to win a matchup this week, you were probably out of luck unless you had Donovan McNabb or possibly Greg Jennings. First off, both Ahman Green and Brian Westbrook were held out of the game with their lingering injuries. That opened the door for Vernand Morency, Correll Buckhalter and Ryan Moats to see playing time. Morency (26 carries, 99 yards) and Buckhalter (88 total yards) both were decent, which will be helpful in upcoming weeks although I'm sure it didn't do much for you on Monday night. They just have to be careful with the fumbles.
As for the quarterbacks, it was a vintage McNabb performance, throwing for 288 yards and two scores, and running for 47 more with two TDs on the ground -- the first time in his career that he had multiple rushing TDs. And he did this without Westbrook, not to mention losing his top two wideouts, Donte Stallworth (hamstring) and Reggie Brown (shoulder), to injuries during the game. Keep an eye on their status for this week, because Greg Lewis (who caught both of McNabb's TDs) and Hank Baskett could see more playing time. It could also mean more looks for L.J. Smith.
Brett Favre kept on flinging the ball around, but this time he got picked off twice by an Eagles secondary missing two top players (Lito Sheppard, Roderick Hood). Favre will have those huge games from time to time (like the previous two weeks) and then tail off (like Monday night). At this point, your guess is as good as mine in figuring out what he'll do against the Rams this week; although he does look like he will start -- the late injury he suffered didn't appear to be serious. However, it does look like rookie Greg Jennings (5 catches, 86 yards) has become a steady part of the Packers passing attack. He's at least a good No. 3 fantasy receiver.
Laurence Maroney rushed for 125 yards and two TDs against the Bengals despite sharing time with Corey Dillon.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Once again, the dreaded running back-by-committee spits out the two good performances that might've been merged together to form one amazing outing. So let's take look at what happened with some of the committee situations on Sunday and what it means down the line:
-- New England: The exception to the rule this week as Laurence Maroney rumbled for 125 yards and two scores sharing time with Corey Dillon, who had 67 yards and a score (a lot of it late as the Patriots squeezed out clock). They could both be in for big things against the Dolphins on Sunday.
-- New Orleans: Deuce McAllister had just 39 yards on 11 carries but a TD, while Reggie Bush rushed for just 22 yards on the same number of carries but did add four more catches for 48 yards. Bush still hasn't scored a TD and his total yards have decreased each week (139, 73, 72, 70). But he's great in point-per-reception leagues.
-- Carolina: DeShaun Foster put up 105 yards on just 16 carries, much of it on a 43-yard run late. However, DeAngelo Williams also had the big plays, rushing for 62 yards on just eight carries. They both have a chance at big things against Cleveland on Sunday, which allowed LaMont Jordan to wake up.
-- Atlanta: Warrick Dunn has tailed off in recent weeks, going for just 99 the past two weeks (including 55 on Sunday). Meanwhile, Jerious Norwood broke 100 yards in limited action, including an 80-yard score. Somehow Dunn doesn't have a rushing TD, while Norwood (who was silent last week) does. Dunn is still the guy, but in the right matchups, Norwood has some value. Just don't expect a repeat of the Cards' game.
-- Indianapolis: Another example of waiting for the right matchup to play the tandem. Joseph Addai had a solid 84 yards and a score on 20 carries (plus 15 receiving yards), while Dominic Rhodes went for 75 and a score of his own. The Jets have struggled against the run, so this was the week to play either of them if you had the chance. Addai probably has the slight edge for better numbers down the stretch, but the Colts seem to be OK in sharing the load. And this week against the Titans is another good spot to use either of them.
-- New York Jets: Kevan Barlow does have four touchdowns, but he hasn't broken 50 yards in a game yet. Cedric Houston did average more than four yards a carry (12 carries, 49 yards) but hurt his knee in the game. That could mean some more snaps for Leon Washington. Derrick Blaylock is out of the mix for now.
-- Tennessee: This time Travis Henry was the running back scratched and Chris Brown started, going for just 33 yards on 12 carries. LenDale White had nine carries for 39 yards. Nothing really special anywhere here, but White might be used more now that Vince Young is the starting quarterback.
-- Chicago: Cedric Benson did get more looks this week (11 carries, 37 yards) but that was partly because the Bears had a big lead. However, Thomas Jones finally showed something with 98 yards and two TDs after struggling all year long.
-- Houston: Ron Dayne got the bulk of the carries, but 22 rushes for 58 yards isn't much to write home about. Samkon Gado had nine yards on six carries, so he isn't taking the starting job just yet.
-- Jacksonville: The running game was nonexistent with Fred Taylor going for just 16 yards and Maurice Jones-Drew rushing for only 3. However, Jones-Drew had a very nifty 51-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, and he could be a decent part of the passing game, especially with Matt Jones gimpy the past couple of weeks.
-- Dallas: Julius Jones' job isn't in jeopardy, not after burning the Titans for 122 yards and a score. However, Marion Barber (Maroney's teammate at Minnesota) is making a play to get extra looks after going for 55 yards and a score on just nine carries, plus an 18-yard catch.
LaMont Jordan entered the game with just 55 rushing yards. He more than doubled that on his one touchdown run, en route to a 100-yard game.
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
The late games provided not only a lot of drama with close games, they were also high-scoring, meaning plenty of fantasy points to be had to make up for any deficits you might've seen in the early contests.
Of course, the one game that wasn't a barnburner was the best game going in. The Patriots ran wild over the Bengals, as Laurence Maroney went for 125 yards and two scores while Corey Dillon burned his old mates for 67 yards and his own score. Carson Palmer did throw for a bunch of yards but two fumbles killed his momentum. But while New England's running game is moving along nicely, the passing game is finding its way with Doug Gabriel looking to be Tom Brady's top target now.
Mark Brunell is turning things around as well. After last week's 22 straight completions against the Texans, Brunell burned the very good Jaguars defense for three touchdowns, plus two longballs (great if your league gives bonus points for long scores). Plus, he finally got Chris Cooley involved (four catches, 70 yards) after the tight end did nothing all year. Meanwhile, Jacksonville's offense is so Jekyll and Hyde it's ridiculous. Last week against the Colts, the ground game went nuts while the passing game was quiet. This time it was the other way around, even before Byron Leftwich had to rally the Jags to force overtime. Either way, Maurice Jones-Drew is making plays for Jacksonville, and Reggie Williams is clearly the top wideout now.
Maybe it shouldn't be surprising that a battle between a Mike Martz team and Martz's former team was going to turn into a shootout. It was classic Torry Holt-Isaac Bruce twin 100-yard games. Both Kevin Jones and Steven Jackson are solid run/catch threats, and somehow Mike Furrey -- a defensive back for the Rams last year -- has become the Lions' second-best receiving threat. It was a fun game to watch, especially if you were looking for some late points.
Welcome back, Joe Jurevicius. The veteran wideout returned from a rib injury to catch a touchdown and give Charlie Frye another weapon to go along with the emerging Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow. In fact, the Browns-Raiders game was a sort of welcome back party for both Reuben Droughns and LaMont Jordan, who had been awful all year until both had 100-yard games.
As for the air attack in that game, Frye had three TD passes but two picks, including a crazy one in the end zone late in the game reminiscent of the one against Baltimore last week. Andrew Walter only had 68 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in place of Aaron Brooks. The one TD did go to Randy Moss, but that 5-yard score was his only grab of the game. Still stay away from the Raiders passing attack, even against the Niners next week.
Matt Hasselbeck did miss having Shaun Alexander out there (backup Maurice Morris wasn't much of a factor Sunday), as he seemed even more flustered than usual by the Bears' really tough defense without his top running back (even at less than full speed) behind him. Meanwhile, Rex Grossman continues to put up solid numbers each week, and this time Thomas Jones finally lived up to preseason expectations. If Chicago can do that against a very good Seahawks defense, the future will be bright across the board.
Interesting list of inactives this week. Adam Vinatieri is still hurting, so that's understandable. But the Bengals benched Chris Henry for disciplinary reasons, and the Titans sat Travis Henry instead of Chris Brown, who was inactive last week. The Titans eventually got better production out of LenDale White, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him eventually take over the regular job somewhere down the line this year.
Matt Leinart didn't start, but he did indeed make his NFL debut against the Falcons. But he'd probably like to forget it.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
Vince Young had a modest debut as a starting quarterback. Within a few hours, Matt Leinart was right behind him on the field, taking over after Kurt Warner turned the ball over too many times again. Of course, Leinart proceeds to turn it over himself in his first two series, including his second play. Still, the future is bright for Leinart, and throwing him into the fire at the Georgia Dome in mid-game wasn't necessarily the best way to begin a career.
Terrell Owens did indeed play this week, but Terry Glenn still looks like Drew Bledsoe's receiver of choice, scoring a couple of early touchdowns. However, T.O. did have a close call in the end zone with a receiving score in the first half that was eventually overturned.
Speaking of the Cowboys, the running game looked very sharp with the 1-2 punch of Julius Jones and Marion Barber. That may have something to say about the Titans defense, though.
Larry Johnson has found his way back into the end zone after a long drought (for him, at least), although the yards-per-carry is still a bit of a concern. However, he's playing more of a role in the passing game, which helps his stats out once again. A handful of other running backs saved themselves with decent performances catching the ball out of the backfield, especially if you give a point-per-reception: Ronnie Brown, Edgerrin James, Reggie Bush.
Damon Huard looked very good on Sunday, which is a positive sign since Trent Green may not be back for a few more weeks. It was good to see Eddie Kennison play like a No. 1 receiver; however, the 49ers defense is rather porous, especially against the pass. On the other side, Alex Smith's run of good luck ended this week against a surprisingly good Chiefs defense as he failed to throw for 100 yards and had two picks.
It's hard to figure out Daunte Culpepper. The final stats looked reasonably good, thanks to a desperation drive late in the game, but he could've done so much better against the Texans. Feel free to find other options if you have them. And as for the sack watch with Culpepper and David Carr, they each went down five times. But Carr came up big again and actually got Andre Johnson to break 100 yards with a score.
Speaking of beefing up stats late, that's what Peyton Manning did in the fourth quarter, although his Colts won the game on his QB sneak -- the second straight week he's scored on a run. Indianapolis did do a decent job establishing the ground game with Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes each rushing for at least 74 yards with a TD. Still, for the Colts, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne seem to be everywhere except in the end zone.
Do the Falcons know how to finish at the goal line? It was nice to see Morten Andersen kick five field goals, but Warrick Dunn needs his scores. It's weird to think that Kevan Barlow (four) has more rushing touchdowns that Dunn (none). Heck, backup Jerious Norwood now has more scores after breaking off a 78-yarder in the third quarter. You can't expect to have that type of play every week.
The Ravens-Chargers game did live up to defensive expectations, and it took until the final play of the game for Philip Rivers to suffer his first sack of the season. Not bad for San Diego's offensive line, although it spent much of the time trying to establish the ground game. However, Steve McNair found the right time to rally Baltimore and showed he can click with tight end Todd Heap. On the other hand, the Chargers really bottled up Jamal Lewis, forcing McNair to make plays.
Buffalo's run defense keeps on improving after the Patriots had their way in the opener. The Bills held Chester Taylor to just 23 yards on the ground, forcing Brad Johnson to throw a lot (although he did find Marcus Robinson, inactive last week, for another score). That resulted in two Buffalo picks -- enough for decent games from Willis McGahee and J.P. Losman, who continues to click with Lee Evans and even got a touchdown out of Peerless Price.
Steve Smith's return has the Panthers playing with more confidence across the board. That includes Jake Delhomme and DeShaun Foster, who ran through a decent Saints ground defense for a 100-yard game, not to mention some big gains from DeAngelo Williams. This week, the RB timesharing didn't work as well for New Orleans, although Deuce McAllister scored and Reggie Bush struggled (including a fumble). Drew Brees did have another 300-yard game, breaking the mark with a long TD to the emerging Marques Colston late in ghe game.
And of course, the most pressing fantasy question from the early games: How do you score the Jets' attempt at reprising Cal-Stanford in the final play against the Colts? According to the official NFL stats, it appears Chad Pennington gets credit for an 8-yard pass to Leon Washington, and that's it. All the laterals are lost fantasy yards, but the Colts do get credit for a fumble recovery that eventually ended the game.