By Dalton Del Don
Lee Evans – Evans recorded five catches for 98 yards against a solid Ravens defense Sunday, so it looks like the switch to Trent Edwards at quarterback may do more good than harm. Evans has had a disappointing season so far, but the Bills schedule has been littered with some of the toughest secondaries in the league. Moreover, Evans has shown a propensity over his career to improve as the season progresses. During the first half of the season, Evans has five touchdowns in 30 career games. During the second half, he has 19 touchdowns in 24 career games.
Brandon Jacobs – Jacobs continues to be bothered by leg issues – something that could remain a theme throughout his career because of his large frame – but he’s been very productive when on the field. He rushed for a career-high 107 yards Sunday and began to see a bigger percentage of the carries in New York’s backfield, including at the goal line. He averages 5.6 YPC, and the Giants’ run blocking has been impressive.
Marion Barber – While everyone is clamoring for Adrian Peterson to be freed from the RB committee in Minnesota, a nearly equal injustice is taking place in Dallas, where the inferior Julius Jones continues to take touches from Barber, though that seemed to lessen Sunday. Barber became the first running back this season to score a rushing touchdown against Minnesota and is now averaging 5.7 YPC. Playing for one of the league’s best offenses and an improving defense, Barber should be protecting a lot of second half leads the rest of the way, leading to more rushing opportunities. In games he’s received 10 carries or more, he’s averaged at least 5.0 YPC an NFL-record nine consecutive times.
Roddy White – White hauled in all eight of his targets Sunday to amass 110 receiving yards and a score. The loss of Byron Leftwich (ankle) isn’t great news, since it appeared his superior arm strength benefited White, but he’s acting as the team’s clear go-to guy and was an eyelash away from another long score (barely stepped out of bounds at the five-yard line). White has been targeted at least seven times in five of the last six contests and has seen at least five looks in every game this season.
Brian Griese – The Bears struggles on defense and running the ball appear to be Griese’s fantasy owners' gain. He doesn’t stretch the field often, but it’s clear this team is going to have to skew toward the pass frequently. The 7.4 YPA is solid, and the fact he’s attempted more than 40 passes during three of his four starts is exactly what you want from your fantasy quarterback.
Brandon Marshall – The loss of Javon Walker to knee surgery means Marshall is the new No. 1 receiver in Denver for the foreseeable future, and it looks like he’s up to the task. The last four games, he’s been targeted an average of 10.5 times. He has the speed to stretch the field and the size to be a force in the red zone. Expect big numbers the rest of the season.
Wes Welker – Wes Welker, Top-10 fantasy receiver? So far, he has been, and the way the New England offense is rolling, there’s really no reason to expect a big decline, especially with defenses focusing on stopping Randy Moss. Welker has four touchdown receptions the last two weeks and has been targeted 27 times over that span.
Earnest Graham – After looking lackluster during his first starting stint, Graham really impressed Sunday, racking up 191 total yards with 13 catches. He has 19 catches the last two games, so he’s going to have serious value in PPR leagues. If Graham continues to run like he did Week 7, the recently acquired Michael Bennett will be limited to nothing more than a change-of-pace type role.
Chris Henry – After being inactive the first six weeks, Henry saw his first game action Sunday and responded by displaying an explosiveness previously missing from Tennessee’s backfield. He totaled 69 yards on just 13 touches and might have carved out a role in the offense even if Chris Brown returns, especially since LenDale White (3.3 YPC) is so utterly mediocre. He’s the Titans’ running back with the most upside.
Jesse Chatman – With news of Ronnie Brown’s season-ending injury, Chatman is thrust into the starter’s role in Miami. While Brown dominated, Chatman hasn’t been bad in his relief role, averaging 5.9 YPC and displaying skills as a receiver. The offense hasn’t been good, but it appears to center around the running back position, so Chatman is a must-add in all leagues and belongs atop your waiver priority this week.
Laurence Maroney – While it was nice to see him back on the field, Maroney was limited to just six touches Sunday. He didn’t appear to reinjure his groin and was likely resting during the second half because of the score. With Sammy Morris (chest) sidelined and such a potent passing attack, Maroney does have some nice potential over the second half of the season.
Marty Booker – He didn’t put up great numbers Sunday, but that was against a tough New England secondary, and Booker should act as the team’s No. 1 receiver with Chris Chambers now traded. More looks should lead to better numbers.
Kurt Warner – Warner gutted it out Sunday and managed to throw two touchdowns against a very tough Washington secondary. The Cardinals have a bye in Week 8, so hopefully he’ll come back close to full strength when the team plays the Buccaneers in Week 9.
Marc Bulger – The last three games he’s played, Bulger has posted quarterback ratings of 35.6, 42.7 and 38.0 with a 0:7 TD:INT ratio. Apparently, the two weeks of rest did little to help his performance, which was just plain brutal Sunday. He shouldn’t be anywhere near starting lineups, and at this point, might not even be rosterable in most fantasy leagues.
Jon Kitna – Kitna hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since Week 4, getting just 5.2 YPA in the process. Lack of protection has been a major problem in Detroit, leading to fewer chances downfield. Teammate Roy Williams has suffered a similar loss in fantasy value as a result as well.
Marques Colston – Maybe he’s more injured than he’s letting on, but something is clearly amiss with Colston. To call it a “sophomore jinx” would be trivial, and save for Week 6, he’s still targeted heavily. Still, it’s disconcerting that the Saints passing game has gotten on track two weeks running, and Colston has very little to show for it.
Ahman Green – Running backs do not age well. Green, now 30, hasn’t averaged more than 3.5 YPC since Week 2 and has only reached pay dirt once this season. Even when healthy, he simply can’t be trusted in fantasy leagues at this stage of his career.
Warrick Dunn – Similar to Ahman Green, Dunn is now a 32-year-old back running on his last legs. Just because coach Bobby Petrino has been stubborn to bench him doesn’t mean you should do the same with your fantasy team. He’s getting a paltry 3.1 YPC and looks like a shell of his former self.
Daunte Culpepper – The knee is almost certainly hampering him more than he’s willing to admit, as Culpepper just doesn’t look right. With losses continuing to mount in Oakland, expect the JaMarcus Russell era to begin sooner rather than later.
Tatum Bell – With Kevin Jones reclaiming the starting role, Bell didn’t receive a carry Sunday, taking a backseat even to T.J. Duckett on the running back depth chart. He’s now failed to impress, running in Mike Shanahan and Mike Martz systems, both typically conducive to big numbers from the position. He looks like a career backup at best.
Tarvaris Jackson – Jackson set the quarterback position back a few years with his performance Sunday, which featured a total of six completed passes. TRoy Williamson led Vikings receivers Sunday with 25 yards. The last two weeks, Jackson’s completed 36 percent of his passes at 4.9 YPA. He doesn’t have great receivers to throw to, but he does have a strong running game behind him. Jackson just isn’t ready to be an NFL starter.
Donovan McNabb – McNabb’s only thrown two picks and his overall season numbers aren’t bad, but here’s someone clearly in decline. If you take away a Week 3 aberration vs. the Lions’ leaky defense, McNabb has just three touchdown passes in five games, while averaging 5.9 YPA. If you can still use his big name and MVP-like performance last year, go ahead and try to deal this relic.
Shaun Alexander – The proverbial nail has officially been inserted into Alexander’s coffin. The last four games, he’s averaged 2.7 YPC, including two home contests with New Orleans and St. Louis – two of the league’s softer defenses. He hasn’t scored since Week 2 and looks slow and indecisive. There’s no debate about whether he should be in your starting lineup; the only question remains whether he even deserves a roster spot on your fantasy team.
Article first appeared 10/21/07