By Michael Salfino
RotoWire Staff Writer
Rex Grossman, QB, Bears: Statement game versus Seattle. On the surface, the Bears don't seem aggressive enough as they've passed 42 percent of the time on first down (38 percent last year). But Chicago throws 57 percent on first down during the first half (about average). Expect that number to increase.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans: Johnson has caught 78.9 percent of his targets, the best rate of any receiver with more than 25 (the Giants Amani Toomer is 20-for-25). David Carr has been very efficient. The Texans will play from behind. Houston also hasn't been able to run near the goal line, while Carr is four-for-four converting inside-the-five passes into TDs.
Kevan Barlow, RB, Jets: The Jets have 13 run plays inside the five-yard line and have converted seven thanks mostly to Barlow. Cedric Houston is out four weeks, at least, so one threat is removed and the other, Leon Washington, is viewed by the team as a change-of-pace threat.
Mike Furrey, WR, Lions: Nice story. He was in on the goal-line and targeted on fades. So, there was nothing fluky about the scores. The Lions offense is showing signs under Martz, as the Rams defense isn't bad.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs: Did you know that Damon Huard comes up "Damn Hard" in the spell check? I found that out the damn hard way. Huard showed he can be competent and the Chiefs offense passing game looked to be in peak Vermeil form against the admittedly lowly Niners. But Trent Green is coming back.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: DeShaun Foster was outplayed until he popped that late run. Foster is great on those plays but can't get four yards when you need it. I think Williams can, and Fox seemed to trust Williams more late in that game.
Roy Williams, WR, Lions: He should keep his mouth shut overall and especially when it comes to Mike Williams starting, as he seems determined to play Keyshawn Johnson to Furrey's Wayne Chrebet. But Williams has Hall of Fame ability and is in the right offense.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints: Wow. Where did this guy come from. He showed flashes at the combine, in my opinion. I was surprised when he slid on draft day, given his size and speed. Manage your expectations, but he's worthy of starting now in most leagues.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: Well, his 27 carries answered the shoulder concerns for now. We'll see how he does this week. But you should rank him pretty much where he was prior to the injury (a top-10 pick). Ladell Betts is good and will continue to get carries, but even the best backs only get 70-to-80 percent of rushing attempts.
Vernand Morency, RB, Packers: Ahman Green is on the downside and could go at any time. The Packers haven't had an inside-the-five carry yet, but if you're looking for some cheap running back depth, Morency is it.
Correll Buckhalter, RB, Eagles: Brian Westbrook is never healthy. His knee is likely to need to be drained again, and that just doesn't sound good. Buckhalter isn't much and the Eagles rarely throw, but they'll be sitting on some leads and will eventually run it in from in-close without fumbling first.
Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins: Well, he made some downfield throws against Jacksonville. I wouldn't be a buyer. His struggles on those routes have been long documented, and I need to see more than one game's worth of evidence to discount them. But give him his due (thanks to the fabulous Santana Moss).
David Carr, QB, Texans: He's got eight TDs (seven passing). The Texans can't seem to run it from in close, as Carr has accounted for all five of their inside-the-five scores. The Texans can't play pass defense, more good news for Carr owners (garbage-time scores and passing a-plenty).
Drew Brees, QB, Saints: He's a very good player. Reggie Bush will make explosive plays in the passing game soon enough. I'm not yet a believer in the defense, so expect Brees to continue to throw a lot. The running game can't get any traction, either, which also boosts opportunity.
LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders: Sunday's 128-yard, one-TD performance is not likely to be matched unless the Raiders can generate a passing game. Oakland's 3.01 YPA (including sacks) is by far the worst in football. The Raiders have two snaps inside the opposing five (no runs).
Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts: This is the first time Harrison has gone four straight games without a TD since the end of the 1999 season. But he started slow last year and is second in the league in targets (times thrown to) with 46.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: He has 15 passing plays over 25 yards already (Alex Smith is second with 10). But he's already faced three of our rotten pass defenses plus the Giants (22nd in YPA allowed). Starting receivers Reggie Brown and Donte Stallworth have shoulder and hamstring woes, respectively.
Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings: He's been stuffed 13 times, second most to Willis McGahee. The schedule is looking less friendly than it seemed in August. But his toughest stretch is behind him, and last week (10 carries for 23 yards) was likely a low.
Lawrence Maroney, RB, Patriots: I know he's a great talent. He excites us all. But Corey Dillon can still be effective and will have an important role on a team that's likely to continue to win and thus resist major changes, which brings us smoothly to...
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: Yes, he's better than Rhodes. I'm sure the Colts know it. But why rock the boat and lose a veteran? The Colts are winning 14 games whether or not they have a RB committee.
Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts: He'll get his goal-line carries, as Indy has run 13 times against just three passes inside the five (six scores, two by Peyton).
Frank Gore, RB, Niners: He's fumbled in four straight games. And he went three straight losing a fumble on the opposing goal line. Rookie Michael Robinson is expected to get goal-line carries going forward.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: His season started promising, but he hasn't really been healthy since 2005. He's likely to be a guy you'll have to get Sunday updates on every week, and that's a lousy way to spend your morning.
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: Marty Schottenheimer's explanation for the lack of passing last week and all year (I'm paraphrasing): "I'm not not throwing because of our QB. Heavens no. He's great! I would just rather win low-scoring games because I keep hearing how defense wins championships (right after I say it)."
Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals: Why is his job safe? Isn't he to the running game at least what Kurt Warner is to the passing game? Matt Leinart is likely to struggle even with those receivers - even quarterbacks who wound up in the Hall-of-Fame didn't do much in their first seasons with very few exceptions.
Daunte Culpepper, QB, Dolphins: When you can't light up either the Titans or Texans in back-to-back weeks, you are officially reeling. Culpepper has two TD passes. Sound the alarms!
Randy Moss, WR, Raiders: Playing as if he's totally uninterested. He's not finishing his routes even when he's the primary receiver. The Raiders are averaging 3.01 per attempt (sack adjusted). Stop and think about that number for a moment. Who's going to be the Calvary? Aaron Brooks? Stop.
Article first appeared 10/3/06