By Michael Salfino
RotoWire Staff Writer
Let's see which bums we're throwing out with a downgrade, who will "hold" their seats and who rides an upgrade into the final "four more weeks" of the fantasy regular season.
Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: I was wrong about him. He does have a nose for the end zone. His YPC is low (3.9) and he's been spotty, but I think he's been a bright spot for the Steelers. He can carry the load and maintain his explosion. I think he should be used more in the passing game because he is very explosive when given a chance on screens. Alas, the Steelers have given that third-down role to Najeh Davenport and his owners would rather see Davenport stealing these plays than those on the goal line; but a lot of yards are being left on the table.
Javon Walker, WR, Broncos: According to ProFootballReference.com, Walker is on his way to smashing Steve Smith's 2005 NFL record for highest percentage of passing yards held by one receiver (44.8 percent). Currently, Walker has 48.3 percent of all the Broncos passing yards. And that doesn't include 120 more yards on the ground.
Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys: Dropped a bomb last week that would have salted a win. But there's a bunch of statistical support for this offense under Tony Romo (third fewest three and outs, for one). Expect Dallas to be high flying going forward and for Owens to be the major beneficiary. He falls asleep at meetings, I know. But if you didn't chuckle at the end zone celebration when he used the ball as a pillow, you've become as cold and humorless as the refs and the NFL rules committee.
Damon Huard, QB, Chiefs: Never saw this coming. But he's playing like you'd hope Trent Green to play (11 TDs, 1 picks, 8.0 YPA), so why put in Green to replace him when Green hasn't played since the first half of Week 1? I wouldn't be happy about starting him, but if I had to, it wouldn't be something that would cause me worry. The yards are likely to be more miss than hit because LJ is really rolling now, and the defense is okay.
Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks: Looked great against an okay Raiders defense that might have been demoralized by the offensive horror show (seven sacks in the first half). Shaun Alexander is out another week at least, and Morris is worth starting in deeper leagues in the near term because Seneca Wallace has been mediocre, which is much better than I thought.
Justin Gage, WR, Bears: He might not be suitable to replace speedy Bernard Berrian, but there was a time a while back when people thought that he had the size and athleticism to be a star. He gets a chance now to be the primary downfield weapon for Chicago and will be seeing lots of single coverage.
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins: Did you know the Dolphins were fourth in lowest percentage of three-and-out drives? Keeping drives alive is imperative for a back you'd like to start. The defense is also good enough. But Brown still struggles down near paydirt. He did pick a
great game to show the form that many expected from him out of college. He's been a hit or miss player to date, so I wouldn't make a heavy wager that he's really turned a corner. Uncharacteristically hedging, I know. But I can't make this player (or team) out.
Ahman Green, RB, Packers: I liked him in the preseason because the Packers had imported the Broncos, zone-blocking running game (which serves one-cut runners like Green very well). But then I went off him because of the nagging injuries. Now, he's reeled off three 100-yard games in a row. I'd sell him now that you can get a nifty return. Maybe for a disappointing Chad Johnson, for example.
Joey Galloway, WR, Bucs: QB Bruce Gradkowski and the Bucs are a joke, going three-and-out on 38 percent of the their drives (worst in football). Galloway's two TDs last week are not a sign of things to come.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: The stats are nice. But there's an
alarming lack of efficiency in his game. And still way too many mistakes (14 picks in sevens starts). Ultimately, Roethlisberger owners are going to need a whole lot more quality because it's
unreasonable to expect 50 attempts a game. There is lots of statistical evidence this Steelers team has badly underachieved on both sides of the ball, so I think they will be the team going forward that most thought they'd be in August. This means less passing for Big Ben.
Randy Moss, WR, Raiders: Well, so much for Randy. I can't watch the
Raiders anymore. Art Shell (head coach) and Jackie Slater (offensive line coach) are better right now (I'm half serious) than what the Raiders are fielding on that so-called offensive line. When you can't protect, you have no downfield passing game. So, how is Moss making any plays?
Rex Grossman, QB, Bears: I don't want to overstate this. Maybe Bernard Berrian
won't be out too long or maybe Gage will be good. But, for now, the Bears have lost their key weapon to attack the third level of the defense. That's what you need to have a big-league NFL passing game. One guy to occupy the safeties (had been Berrian), another to attack the middle hash (Clark) and another to make the chain-moving plays underneath (Muhsin Muhammad). If defenses no longer feel threatened deep, they can really smother the other receivers and use the safeties
to blitz, mix more man and zone and generally make the field a lot smaller (and the reads a lot harder) for Grossman.
Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Can we say he's a bust? Or does that get us thrown into Guantanamo or something? After minus-five yards on 11 carries last week, Bush is averaging 2.5 yards per pop. And he's not doing much at all with all those catches either (6.8 yards per
Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals: He has value. The Bengals might turn it around offensively. But it just as likely might be a blah year for Carson Palmer, who has altered his mechanics to protect his surgically repaired knee. The Bengals are 27th in percentage of three-and-out drives.
Reggie Brown, WR, Eagles: Here's your NFL leader in drops (seven). The Eagles are about average in three-and-out percentage, not what you look for from a supposedly dominant unit. Brown's rep is as a No. 1 receiver right now, but he can easily slide all the way down to fourth
option now that Donte Stallworth is healthy.
Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks: On and on it goes with the broken foot. Now he's out for Week 10. I thought the initial prognosis was overly optimistic, but this is now longer than the most dire predictions. Is he going to go full speed when he comes back, or will he split carries like Larry Fitgerald is splitting plays at No. 1 receiver for Arizona this week?
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins: He's likely going to be a game-time decision at best and has never been a quick healer. Moss is a tightly wound guy and really relies on his explosion to generate the separation needed to overcome his lack of size, so anything less than 100 percent of Moss is not likely to be good enough to start.
Article first appeared 11/7/06