October 17, 2008
Every Friday during the NFL season, we'll review the Yahoo! weekly position ranks.
If an expert breaks from the herd on a particular player, they'll be
asked to show their work. You're encouraged to discuss the wisdom or
lunacy of these opinions in comments.
Frank Gore (Big Noise rank: 19; Yahoo! composite rank: 9).
Frank Gore has been anything but a fantasy bore this season. The consistency king has tallied at least 11 fantasy points per game in every contest, which has vaulted him into the Y! RB top three. But the G-Men, coming off a humiliating defensive display in Cleveland, will have Gore lined up in the crosshairs. At the Meadowlands (vs. Was, Cin and Sea), New York has yielded just 3.4 yards per carry and one touchdown to visiting backs. Overall, they've surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to plowshares. Of course, Gore is unbenchable in any format, but in hostile territory and facing an aggressive, physical Giants D hungry for redemption suggests he could flounder for the first time this year. Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 66 rushing yard, 4 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns.
Dwayne Bowe (Behrens rank: 15; Yahoo! composite rank: 27).
There simply isn't a bad week to start a guy who's third among all receivers in targets per game (11.2). Yes, Tennessee has been remarkably stingy (172 passing YPG, one TD), and no, I'm not optimistic about Brodie Croyle. But Bowe's workload is just too great to ignore. What's the floor for a player who gets 11 targets per game? In his worst weeks, he'll still give you five or six fantasy points. You can't rank a player like that outside the top 25.
Greg Jennings (Funston rank: 12; Yahoo! composite rank: 6).
opponent, Indy, allows the fewest fantasy points to WRs. Admittedly,
it's played only one legit passing offense (Houston), but Tony Dungy's
defense has been shutting WRs down for years – just six 100-yard
receivers allowed in the past 54 regular-season games. One of the
designs of Cover-2 zone that the Colts run is to limit the impact of
speed receivers that like to work deep. Jennings fits that bill, as he
makes his hay on deep passes - his 19.2 ypc average is fifth-best in
the league. If Jennings were more of a factor in the red zone (just
three red zone targets), I'd feel better about his chances this week.
He may sneak in a long grab at some point, but I wouldn't bet on
anything more than that, thus my ranking of him outside the top 10.
Hines Ward (Funston rank: 4; Yahoo! composite rank: 12).
I mentally sliced this Pittsburgh/Cincinnati game up a few different ways, and each time Ward jumped out at me. First, I think you have to take the history card into account. Normally, it's an overrated stat, but these two teams play each other twice a year, and personnel hasn't changed that drastically in recent years. Ward scored twice in each meeting last season and has 13 TDs in 17 career games against the Bengals. Also, the Bengals have allowed the fewest pass plays of 20-plus yards this season, and allow just 6.1 yards per catch, sixth-best in the league. If Big Ben's deep ball is taken away, a short passing game is going to favor Ward heavily over teammate Santonio Holmes. Finally, with Willie Parker out, I'd expect Ward to be even more active in the red zone - no WR sees a higher percentage of his team's red zone targets.
Trent Edwards (Pianowski rank: 17; Yahoo! composite rank: 11).
Before all of upstate New York gets on my case, please take the time to understand my Buffalo Stance. I'm a believer in this Bills outfit, and I give them a good chance to take down the Chargers this week, in part because it's one of those funky "body clock" games where a West Coast team has to play at 10 a.m. body time. I've also been very impressed with the growth Edwards has shown this year; he's clearly one of the most improved quarterbacks in the game. That all said, Edwards still looking for his first 2-TD game of the season, he's coming off a concussion two weeks back, the Chargers have fixed their leaky pass defense after a dreadful opening to the season, and the Buffalo brain trust will probably stick with a conservative game plan this week, looking to shorten the game and keep San Diego's more explosive offense off the field. I see a reasonable floor with Edwards in this spot, but I can't get excited about the upside.
Derrick Mason (Big Noise rank: 11; Yahoo! composite rank: 26).
Derrick Mason's favorite Rolling Stones album must be "Sticky Fingers." Despite playing in an ultra-conservative offense, Baltimore's "Wild Horse" has cranked out a respectable 5.4 receptions and 66.2 yards per game this year. Yes, his toes have yet to cross the chalk, but this could very well be the week. Miami's interior defense has performed spectacularly, limiting opposing backs to just 3.6 yards per carry and 80.4 rushing yards per game. Because of the Fins' stalwart trench play, Joe Flacco's kid gloves will have to be discarded in order for Baltimore to move the chains effectively -- advantage Mason. Miami has surrendered twenty 20-yard pass plays (second most in the NFL), eight wideout touchdowns and the most fantasy points to receivers this year. The 34-year-old PPR machine has only netted three red-zone targets in five games, but he still possesses enough speed to break loose for a sweet score. Fearless Forecast: 8 receptions, 86 yards, 1 touchdown
Santana Moss (Behrens rank: 8; Yahoo! composite rank: 15)
Sure, he's been quiet for a couple weeks, but Moss is still eighth in the NFL in receiving yards (443) and tenth among WRs in targets (48). He's healthy, too, and his team faces Cleveland in Week 7. Statistically speaking, the Browns defense has been better than expected against the pass, but weather conditions (Pittsburgh in Week 2) and the quality of opposing quarterbacks (Joe Flacco in Week 3, Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 4) have heavily influenced those numbers. The Redskins are coming off a surprising loss and they're playing at home, where conditions should be ideal. Expect Moss to return to usefulness.
Bo Scaife (Pianowski rank: 10; all others 15 and up).
While Scaife won't get to the Pro Bowl without a ticket, he's still one of the more underrated pass grabbers at the position, a smart zone buster with reliable hands. Only nine tight ends average more yards per game than Scaife in 2008, an impressive feat when you consider the conservative scheme in Tennessee, the quarterback change, and the time-share Scaife deals with. Kansas City has been decent marking opposing tight ends to this point in the year, but the schedule has helped significantly - three of their opponents offer next-to-nothing from the position. Kerry Collins is more comfortable throwing between the numbers these days, and that means No. 80 is going to be involved this week. If you're not blessed with a stud at this position, you could do a lot worse. I feel confident Scaife can get you 50 or more yards this week, or a score, or both.