By Michael Salfino
RotoWire Staff Writer
This is post-op (knee surgery) Barometer. We make no promises in our pain-killer induced state other than we'll do our best to continue our bizarre ability to motivate tight ends to heights heretofore unknown with a simple "downgrade."
Leon Washington, RB, Jets: His upside is Warrick Dunn. Don't expect goal-line carries and touchdowns. There will be games where Kevan Barlow (who also ran well last week) gets as many looks. But the former Seminole is very explosive.
Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs: He's not likely to be a guy who single-handedly wins a championship for you. But he got back to basics last week instead of all that tentativeness at the line that we've been seeing. The schedule is not fantasy friendly, I know. But I think he can be a major piece in a championship puzzle in this very bad year for running backs.
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: We said in the summer that his ETA was going to be Halloween, and he's right on schedule in clearly outplaying Dominick Rhodes (5.1 per carry to Rhodes' 3.3). Now if only Tony Dungy would acknowledge the so incredibly obvious.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: Jones-Drew is under 5-foot-7, but his thighs are massive relative to the rest of his body. The rookie is officially the goal-line back for the Jaguars and more explosive than declining, but still competent Fred Taylor.
Wali Lundy, RB, Texans: He's unlikely to be a consistent scorer because the Texans again have offensive line problems and have generated the fewest inside-the-five plays for RBs since the start of the 2005 season.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers: He fumbles every week and hasn't yet ultimately delivered on his many oh-so-close big plays, but I sense a breakout coming. This supposes that the Steelers medical staff is right in labeling Ben Roethlisberger's second concussion in four months "minor" (see below). Cedric Wilson is not explosive enough to complement Hines Ward given the inconsistent Steelers running game.
Corey Dillon, RB, Patriots: I've liked him since the summer as the contrarian response to Laurence Maroney's mostly justified hype. He's consistently scoring. The Patriots are going to win a lot and thus run the ball a lot late. This is a successful running game no matter what Maroney owners think. A change isn't going to be coming without an injury.
Randy Moss, WR, Raiders: Yes, he had too many drops last week and anyone who watched the game heard the announcers rip him mercilessly despite his impressive stat line. But there are even more targets hidden in those drops, and Moss has never had trouble with his hands.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: He'll be up and down but has playmaking ability and a coaching staff that's determined to be aggressive in giving him opportunities. You'll have to match him up, but nothing is guaranteed with a player with his relative inexperience, so he's going to be a very risky start until further notice.
Michael Vick, QB, Falcons: He lacks the accuracy to repeat his pocket efficiency last week (42 percent of incompletions this year are poor throws). If Vick learns to look to throw first after breaking the pocket while his running skills are still intact, he'll be the most dangerous QB ever despite accuracy woes.
Ahman Green, RB, Packers: He popped one big run. That's nice. But the Packers still stink, are still likely to be in catch-up mode most of the time on Sunday, and Green is always subject to the late scratch. So, I see last week as a major selling opportunity for a player who is guaranteed to be a headache.
Chester Taylor, RB, Seahawks: Again, popped a nice run. He's a workmanlike back. But he's bad in short yardage, and the Vikings offense doesn't have the wide receivers needed to consistently work the chains after Taylor's many stuffs.
Matt Leinart, QB, Cardinals: The Raiders are tough against the pass with that 46 defense. This is no joke. Learning to play under this kind of duress is the final stage in playing QB in the NFL. Leinart is now in for a heavy dose of blitzing, but from teams less accustomed to doing it. So, the opportunities for massive scoring strikes are there beginning this week in Green Bay.
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: I knew it was going to take time for him to work his way back after the devastating injury. But this is a lousy time for the Bengals pass protection to collapse. Palmer's limping along in 2006, figuratively and literally. I want a YPA breakout soon, at least eight or nine yards per attempt (which he did regularly in '05).
Darrell Jackson, WR, Seahawks: Loved him in the preseason, but Matt Hasselbeck (sprained knee) is out for three weeks and hoping for big things from unpolished Seneca Wallace is akin to drawing an inside straight.
Byron Leftwich, QB, Jaguars: Maybe he was too hurt to play. But why do he and Jack Del Rio (not the brightest bulb in the coach's toolshed, I know) insist on turning him into a hero when he's hurt? Leftwich is simply not good enough to play at less than 100 percent. Heck, a totally healthy Leftwich may not be as good as David Garrard (who's nothing special, I know).
Reggie Williams, WR, Jaguars: One of the bazillion third-level fantasy receivers who you can never count on. Heck, you often can't count on the second-level ones. But those, you just have to stick with every week and take the good with the bad, otherwise you're going to end up in the sanitarium by Thanksgiving. Guys like Williams you have to mix and match, but there's just no predicting them. Sorry.
Joey Galloway, WR, Bucs: Galloway was a second-level guy, but now he's a third-level one because the QB predictably stinks until further notice. Hey, you had your selling opportunity after Gradkowski's fluky first week. Now, you have to take your lumps with him on your bench (0 catches last week).
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: Maybe I'm overmedicated. Too instinctively contrarian. But what's up with McNabb with the brain farts at the end of halves? This has happened at least a half-dozen times (including the Super Bowl). And why is he throwing up again? I don't think he has his arousal under control. He's too jittery and can't think straight. Need more? Okay, the Eagles are 16th in sack percentage and you normally need to be top five in protecting the QB to keep putting up these kind of fantasy numbers. Accuracy is still a problem with about 17 percent poor throws (about 20 percent worse than average). Finally, I don't like that fantasy playoff schedule (at Washington, at Giants, at Cowboys). Carolina and Jacksonville also loom. I'm bearish about the chances of this being a Manning 2004 run for McNabb and would seriously think about selling.
Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins: He's a bad fit for Joey Harrington. Daunte Culpepper was supposed to be his QB. Chambers doesn't have enough finesse to work in a timing, rhythm offense. I don't see why the Dolphins can't exploit the one-on-one matchups by rolling out a little and throwing it up there for him to make plays, but Nick Saban is in his own world.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: It's sad when boxing takes more care in protecting its athletes than your sport. That's the case in football. Heck, the NFL won't even adapt the recommendations of the American Academy of Neurology, which advises that players like Roethlisberger be held out for one month as soon as they go one week without any symptoms after sustaining two concussions lasting more than 30 minutes but less than 24 hours within a four-month span. And Roethlisberger was totally out both times and carted off the field on Sunday.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs: Oh, Mr. Yardage Boy, what's the matter? Can't score any TDs? I say you, sir, are a mere shadow of the player you once were. I double... No, TRIPLE dare you to score more than one TD this week. (Guess which TE I'm playing this week in my most important league.)
Article first appeared 10/24/06