By Michael Salfino
RotoWire Staff Writer
Halloween Barometer heading into this week's NBC's Chiller Theater Sunday Night special of Godzilla vs. King Kong, I mean "Manning vs. Brady."
Donte' Stallworth, WR, Eagles: This is the week to buy Eagles. Philly still throws the most (66 percent of plays, Miami is second at 64 percent) and the now healthy Stallworth has the most upside among Donovan McNabb's WR targets.
Michael Vick, QB, Falcons: The odds of him playing better than ever two weeks in a row totally by chance are decidedly against. If he maintains a downfield focus while scrambling, he will reinvent the position.
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: New QB (Tony Romo), new second option in Dallas (Witten, eight targets last week). Sorry Terry Glenn (six targets).
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers: Finally, a rushing yardage breakthrough. Now, we can put off talk of a decline related to that impossibly heavy and historic workload until 2007.
Owen Daniels, TE, Texans: He got a fair share of targets even when David Carr was in the game. He's out there running patterns on third downs. The Texans are rotten defensively (worst in the NFL in yards allowed per drive), so they'll have to keep throwing.
Michael Jenkins, WR, Falcons: Only four targets, I know, but if Vick has turned the corner, Jenkins will get a lot of quality looks against secondaries with one eye on the QB.
Chris Henry, WR, Bengals: The Bengals are going three-wide a lot on first down. But there are complaints now among the RBs and linemen that the Bengals need to "play tougher." That means they want to run more and get the fullback back on the field. Which way the internal struggle goes will determine Henry's prospective value. But coaches hardly ever resist calls to for more "manliness" with the running game.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs: He's a force, though Larry Johnson gets all the TDs (zero scores since Week 1). You know, I've owned LJ forever in a keeper league and reaped these amazing benefits and had to have my wife tell me last week that that thing he does with his fingers is putting the "L" and the "J" together. (Yes, I do this with him after he scores when a home-league game is riding on it.) I thought all this while he was saying he was a diamond or something. Oh, right, Tony the Tiger. Well, Gonzalez' value is no longer tied to Trent Green's return. The TDs will come. He just needs to figure out how to sign a "T" and a "G."
Mike Bell, RB, Broncos: Now that's what I was talking about in August! Seriously, who can figure this mess out. More on the situation below in the Tatum downgrade. But Mike showed everything you can possibly show in the team's biggest game of the year. I think his downside now is about 10 carries a game and all goal-line looks. (Remember, Tatum only had one score inside the five this year.) The upside? Well, Shanahan told Phil Simms BEFORE the game that Mike was the Bell that best fit his system.
Desmond Clark, TE, Bears: I love Rex Grossman and the kick-ass Bears (on pace for best point differential since the 1942 Bears – 9.8 YPA, baby). You've got to think about starting him in leagues where tight ends aren't even required. I'd like to see more than 39 targets, but, remember, Clark was limping around for weeks with a foot injury that's now healed.
Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants: Yes, he was a dog. But maybe he isn't anymore. The size and talent has always been there. Maybe the desire and work ethic has followed now that he's working out in sweats before every game with Eli Manning just like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne do with Peyton.
Dallas Clark, TE, Colts: I guess Brandon Stokley is coming back. Having Stokley in the slot makes the Colts much more explosive. But Clark did a nice job as a possession receiver in the slot and showed the speed to threaten teams down the seam versus Washington. The targets haven't been there. But New England, Dallas, Philly and Cincy are coming up, and Peyton will very likely have to go pedal to the medal in all those games.
Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns: Your Aunt Millie would look nifty between the tackles versus the Jets. Remember, the Browns entered Week 8 at a pitiful 3.0 per carry.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: I'm not going to toot my horn here for last week's downgrade. That wasn't a one-week deal, but for the rest of the season. McNabb and the Eagles offense will bounce back. But he's going to live and die with the big play, and it might be more difficult getting air yards with the wind whipping up in the Northeast in November and December. McNabb lacks the accuracy to consistently work the underneath game against good defenses.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens: So, this is Brian Billick's plan: get out of the defense's way and pound the ball with Lewis? That's great if you get a couple of defensive TDs every week. But Lewis is hollow now like those cicada shells that stay stuck on the tree trunk and only imitate life.
Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys: He's swift and shifty, but doesn't score or generate enough total yardage with Marion Barber coming in for all short, goal-line and third-down plays.
Travis Henry, RB, Titans: Well, that Henry buzz didn't last long, did it? In addition the poor results, LenDale White was effective – the worst of all possible combinations for Henry owners.
Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos: Turf toe can be crippling or no big deal. So, I'm not going to stand in judgment of Tatum other than to take him at his word that he couldn't perform last week to the extent he basically asked to be replaced. That's an injury that takes about six months to heal (if it ever does). Plus, it's official now, Mike Shanahan will never commit to Tatum long-term because he doesn't fit his system according to Shanahan himself.
Chad Pennington, QB, Jets: Sunday was the worst game ever for a healthy Pennington. Well, except for maybe the playoff game against the Raiders in '03. But the Browns had an injury-decimated secondary. The Jets don't throw nearly enough on first down (38 percent) or near the goal line (just seven of 31 inside-the-10 plays). And the silliness with converted QB Brad Smith on third downs and near the goal line has got to stop. It's only going to work now if you pass with him, and why would you pass with Smith over Pennington?
Eli Manning, QB, Giants: The Giants have become much more run oriented in recent weeks. The weather sure didn't stop the pitiful Bruce Gradkowski and the Bucs from throwing last week. Also bearish for Eli is the Giants playcalling tendencies near paydirt, 16 runs and six passes (five TDS) inside the opposing 10.
Article first appeared 10/31/06