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NFL Barometer: 2006 NFL Barometer-Week 5

Michael Salfino

Michael Salfino

Michael Salfino writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

The Barometer

By Michael Salfino
RotoWire Staff Writer



You guys say you're Jonesing for a new barometer, which I'll take as a compliment. But we often update via the comments (just wait a couple seconds for it to load and be sure to scroll down). Now, without further ado, some last minute movers.


UPGRADE

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Would have like to see some deeper stick throws to make sure he can smoothly transfer his weight while keeping that new left knee straight. But Palmer has been very impressive and even appeared in the Friday game after just three off days. All systems are go, but he's by no means out of the woods as he's still in the infancy of his recovery. The bevy of TD passes ensures he'll be taken in the first three rounds of almost every fantasy draft. You need all those early round picks for RBs and WRs. QBs can be more easily finessed.

Wali Lundy, RB, Texans: Our second-straight upgrade. The cat is out of the bag now, but hopefully you drafted last week when he was still flying under the radar. Now, with Domanick Davis out for the year, Lundy is viewed as the head of a committee. I don't think there will be a committee in Houston. Don't worry about Ron Dayne, as I think his signing is more about Vernand Morency, who dances too much for Kubiak's liking. But, unfortunately, the Texans still have a long way to go on offense (they only generated six plays inside the five to all their running backs last year, second worst behind the Niners).

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: Good job by the update guys catching Del Rio refusing to commit to Jones-Drew as No. 2 back despite the five-foot-seven rookie's stellar summer. There might be an organizational disagreement here, because you don't spend a No. 2 pick on a situational running back. Jones-Drew is worth a gamble late because it's safe to assume the front office is high on him, and circumstances will likely force Del Rio to come around because the Jaguars lack playmakers with Jimmy Smith retired and Fred Taylor on the wrong side of the mountain.

LenDale White, RB, Titans: Of course the Titans can't make up their minds about Chris Brown and Travis Henry. They're both journeymen-type backs. Brown is upright and injury prone. Henry a flash in the pan. Sooner or later they're going to pick Door No. 3 and hope to find, in White, that shiny brand new car!

Joe Horn, WR, Saints: I don't understand the Stallworth trade. It's clear he got under Sean Payton's skin. Horn though is now left standing all alone as No. 1 receiver on a team that's likely to have a very bad pass defense. That means lots of targets and cheap, garbage time TDs if he can stay healthy.

Jerry Porter, WR, Raiders: He's been doing a great T.O. impersonation all summer and has effectively alienated himself from the coaching staff. Art Shell put him in timeout, basically, by bumping him to the fourth WR role. He's moved up after the Doug Gabriel trade. If he learns his lesson, he'll be a nice value about 35 or 40 receivers into your draft.

Doug Gabriel, WR, Patriots: Modest upgrade here. This is all a negotiation. Branch is definitely coming back, it's just a matter of when. Gabriel has to learn a new system and get acclimated, which should take weeks. By that point, the Pats might not even need him as anything more than a No. 3 receiver.


NO CHANGE

Greg Jennings, WR, Packers: Okay, he's on the radar screen. But he's going to be overdrafted everywhere. Rookie receivers are not the way to fantasy glory. They're nice to have as fifth or sixth receivers on the small chance they'll pop right away, but no way Jennings lasts that long now.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Stephen Davis is not likely to ghoul goal-line carries away from Jackson. If your 23-year-old, 230-pound back can't plow it in from the one, what's he doing on your roster? Jackson is one of the five or six running backs that I could actually take in the first round and not feel like racing to the bathroom to throw up. Talk up Davis' signing before your draft and maybe Jackson slides to you.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: Actions speak louder than words, so the chance to get the goal-line carries doesn't matter much if you can't actually convert. Parker is a poor candidate to do so. He's not a pile mover. Speed is his game. And now he'll be exposed with defenses focusing on him while the dreadful Charlie Batch fills in for Ben Roethlisberger for 1-to-3 games.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: I still like him as a rock-solid No. 2 fantasy QB. You might not have used him the first couple of weeks anyway, so the injury shouldn't knock him down the way it does Parker and Hines Ward.

Deion Branch, WR, Patriots: This is playing out exactly like I thought; so, while I'm not downgrading him, you probably should be. He's a No. 4 fantasy wide receiver with a chance to be a solid No. 3. Unfortunately, the WR crop is very thin this year, as it's a transitional year at all the major positions.

Donte' Stallworth, WR, Eagles: Has some upside as maybe a No. 1 receiver at least a 1A with Reggie Brown on a team that's going to have to throw a lot, especially if Brian Westbrook's foot is a problem. But it might take Stallworth a few weeks to get his sea legs; so don't put yourself in a position where you have to count on him early.


DOWNGRADE

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: Have you noticed what a bad year it is at QB? Sure, some will emerge from nowhere, but after the top 10 guys, the dropoff is steep as you have a lot of guys coming off injury and/or on new teams or on teams that aren't going to throw much. With Branch out, the Patriots wide receivers are as nondescript as I've ever seen. I still think Brady is the third-best fantasy QB, but the distance between him and the top guy, Peyton Manning, has grown this summer.

Hines Ward, WR, Steelers: Maybe I'm just at the point where I hate all the players. This happens every Labor Day. But this time, the half-empty outlook seems more reasonable. Are you kidding me with these wide receivers? Sure, Ward still gets early round consideration. But do you want to spend a third-round pick on him and watch Charlie Batch lobbing volleyballs to him for three weeks? Now he's down there in the group with Donald Driver, Darrell Jackson, Plaxico Burress, Javon Walker. Who's happy about getting these guys? Not me. But we have to get somebody, don't we.

Article first appeared 9/4/06