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NFL Barometer: 2006 NFL Barometer-Week 15

Michael Salfino

Michael Salfino

Michael Salfino writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

The Barometer

By Michael Salfino
RotoWire Staff Writer


UPGRADE

Thomas Jones, RB, Bears: Bears insiders know he's simply better than Cedric Benson. Yet outsiders expect Benson to vulture more and more carries.

Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals: Caught 11 of his 12 targets last week. Cincy averaged 22 yards every time they threw to Johnson, about twice what you hope for on a good day.

Marques Colston, WR, Saints: A seventh rounder from Hofstra is now the all-time NFL leader in receiving yardage through nine games (869 yards).

Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins: Washington is breaking in a QB who's never started (Jason Campbell), and forgotten T.J. Duckett has been promised significant snaps with Clinton Portis (hand) out indefinitely. Still, Betts will start and likely get the majority of the team's carries.

Patrick Crayton, WR, Cowboys: The Terry Glenn injury seems worse than they're letting on. The way Tony Romo is playing, any Dallas receiver is attractive. Combine that with the extra attention (there's no such thing as true double coverage anymore) that Terrell Owens is drawing on most plays, and you have a nice No. 3 fantasy receiver. Of course, if Glenn bounces back and plays, Crayton is not worthy of starting in any format. Yes, I'm a little gun-shy after touting Justin Gage last week.

Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers: It was a series of fortunate events for Floyd, who will suck up a lot of waiver-wire money this week. He's got a bum ankle and was helped by an early injury to Eric Parker (one catch). Also, the Chargers were down big pretty much the whole game,
which resulted in a deemphasized running game. I wouldn't waste the time or money, but how can I deny the upgrade?

Billy McMullen, WR, Vikings: The only receiver who has shown he can make a play this year is Marcus Robinson, who is always hurt. Why not put McMullen out there in favor of lead foot (Travis Taylor) or stone hands (Troy Williamson)? Yes, even if the brother McMullen gets
extensive action, the Vikings and Brad Johnson stink (Minnesota has 20 snaps inside the opposing 10, scoring just three times).

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: This guy is really good, but in a bad situation for a fantasy QB because Tomlinson is making like Priest Holmes in his prime this year. The Chargers have 50 plays inside the 10. Sounds great for Rivers so far. But 36 of them are runs. Plus the
yardage is going to be hit and mostly miss.

Ernest Wilford, WR, Jaguars: He continues to be David Garrard's favorite target. Yes, that's like being my mother-in-law's favorite recipe. But you can sneak him in as a No. 3 receiver if (A) Byron Leftwich stays out, (B) Matt Jones stays invisible and (C) Reggie Wiliams stays stinky.

Vince Young, QB, Titans: When your best game as a rookie is last week against the Ravens, you get an upgrade. Young hinted at the run/pass double threat that was supposed to vex defenses. He hurt his leg on his last scramble, which should have won the game. So, check his
status.

Brett Favre, QB, Packers: The Packers defense should be a lot better based on third-down efficiency and other key defensive stats. So, this isn't as shoot-out situation for QBs, as it might appear. But Favre is playing very well of late, limiting turnovers and rekindling his connection with the player below.

Donald Driver, WR, Packers: Driver 8(0). Double D. Showed burst I didn't think he had last week when he split the Minnesota safeties for 80 yards. He's not likely to stand up to the pounding he'll get as the No. 1 receiver, so enjoy it while it lasts. Also, don't expect Greg
Jennings (ankle) to be 100 percent anytime soon.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Wow. See what happens when you get a little protection and can find your playmaker? I don't for a minute think he's all the way back. That won't happen until next season at the earliest. But he's plenty good enough when his line allows
explosive plays to Ocho Cin... I know, it's too tired; so, I'll refrain.


NO CHANGE

Mike Bell, RB, Broncos: Things I'll never understand: quantum physics, string theory, women and Mike Shanahan. Can't I give up on figuring them all out? Now, Mike Bell is going to "play a lot" after being deactivated last week in favor of a guy who impressed in practice (Damian Nash)? Whatever. The Broncos have ran well for one half all year, so who cares?

Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts: Tony Dungy is either too nice or too stupid because Rhodes is too crappy to keep getting touches in favor of Joseph Addai. But the Colts just continue to skate by. This week, at Dallas, expect the A-game and, thus, much more Addai.

Steve McNair, QB, Ravens: McNair is a good guy to start if you know he's going to be down 20 points to a crappy pass defense. Until then, visit the blackjack table, where the gambling odds are much better.


DOWNGRADE

Eli Manning, QB, Giants: He's lost Amani Toomer, is locked into Plaxico Burress (10 targets last week), and ignores Jeremy Shockey (two targets). Manning now must make due without left tackle Luke Petitgout (broken leg).

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: The Cards are poor on first and third downs, and Fitzgerald (hamstring) won't be 100 percent until 2007.

Marc Bulger, QB, Rams: All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace is gone for the year, as is the likelihood of continued big plays in the Rams passing game.

Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos: Shanny said he played him too much last week because Tatum's too turf toes are too sore. Say that 10 times fast. Tatum needs to see North Dallas Forty and learn how to suck it up with the help of modern medicine.

Lee Evans, WR, Bills: The Niners, Texans and now Bills are famous this year for giving up and/or playing to cover as opposed to win. Evans gets three catches for 38 yards on the Bills first drive in Indy and then the Bills simply refuse to pass the rest of the way. Shouldn't
you try to score on every possession against a superior opponent instead of playing it close to the vest? Oh, right, not when you have J.P. Losman. But whose idea was that?

Michael Vick, QB, Falcons: I didn't like what I saw Sunday. Yes, there were some drops, but that's a fact of life. Not enough intermediary throws, which is where you need to operate when you present such a serious running threat. The deep safeties aren't distracted by the run option, but the second level of the defense is. So, that's where the void is created. He's still very good in fantasy, but I thought he turned the corner in reality, and he hasn't.

Willis McGahee, RB, Bills: He's a waste of time now, I know, but I wanted an excuse to note that the Bills are averaging minus yardage on their 13 rushes inside the opposing 10.

Article first appeared 11/14/06