October 23, 2009
Every Friday during the NFL season we'll review the Yahoo! weekly position ranks. If an expert breaks from the herd, they'll be asked to show their work. We try to focus on names near the start/sit line in public leagues, or on complete acts of lunacy. Let's play the feud…
Yes, Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell(notes) each received 15 carries in the Week 6 win over New York. And yes, Bell is a clear threat to take short-yardage carries. But before you start thinking that those two are now on equal footing, consider these facts:
1. Nine of Bell's carries occurred in the fourth quarter of a three-TD blowout, after Thomas checked out;
2. PT outgained Bell by a healthy margin, 72 yards to 34;
3. Thomas still received six red zone touches against the Giants. He was not automatically lifted near the goal line.
Thomas is still the New Orleans back you'll want to own and start. The Dolphins are a rough matchup in Week 7, since they're coming off a bye and allowing just 76.4 rushing yards per game. But if Miami is focused on stopping the run, then they've already lost. (Not sure if you've heard, but the Saints present a few problems via the air). Thomas will remain a strong play all year. It's not as if Bell has been appointed the Saints' designated touchdown-scorer. PT will have plenty of opportunities to break the plane, too.
Mike Bell - Pianowski rank 15, composite 28
I hate to write anything that breaks up the feel-good story of Pierre Thomas, but here's the bottom line - Bell converted at the goal line last week, Thomas did not (despite multiple chances), and play-callers tend to go with the hot hand when they need a money yard from in close. If I ran the Saints I would have made Thomas my featured guy a year or two ago, but in our numbers racket it's all about reading the tea leaves from the coaches, and it sure looks like Bell is going to be the guy getting those 1 and 2-yard chippies when the Saints get to the opposing goal.
Miami's rushing defense has been excellent on a per-play basis (3.4 YPC), but it's also handed out four scores on the ground. Look for Bell to add to that total, from short distance, Sunday afternoon. Yards are great, but in the fantasy world, touchdowns make the difference. - Pianow
After another banner week, the fantasy population supporting The Capital is bound to grow. Elevated above Patrick Crayton(notes) on the Cowboys depth chart over the bye, Austin is certain to finish with top-15 WR numbers in Week 7, possibly flirting with the top-10. Though Atlanta has yielded just one receiver touchdown this season, the Falcons have occasionally been burned deep. They've surrendered the seventh-most 20-yard pass plays in the league. Advantage Austin.
With corner Brian Williams(notes) done for the season and Roy Williams very iffy, Dallas' premier big-play threat could easily eclipse the 100-yard mark in his second consecutive game. Going forward, he could be to wide receivers what the PT Bruiser was to rushers last season. - Evans
Walter has been sleeping too long. San Francisco is a disciplined defense that has limited TEs to the fewest fantasy points per game (could be an issue for Owen Daniels(notes)). It also has a very good corner in Nate Clements(notes), who will surely lock in on WR Andre Johnson(notes). I expect Johnson to still have a solid game, but an extra few looks could head Walter's way this week because of the attention paid to Johnson and Daniels not enjoying as big a matchup advantage as he usually does. - Funston
While I can understand a certain amount of Maroney skepticism, I cannot understand sending him to the bench now, against the NFC's worst run defense. The Bucs allow 171.7 rushing yards per game and 4.9 per carry, and they'll be primarily concerned with the Pats' passing attack. Sammy Morris(notes) (knee) won't play in Week 7 and Kevin Faulk's(notes) responsibilities aren't likely to change. The rushing workload will be dominated by Maroney and BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes). Don't let this week's waiver prize go to waste. - Behrens
There's not a huge difference between my Mendenhall rank and where my colleagues slot him (they all have him in the low 20s), but it's worth making the distinction that he's a clear starter on my sheet for Week 7. The Vikings front seven is living on its reputation of late; over the last four weeks it ranks 16th in fantasy production allowed to opposing running backs. For the year Minnesota is handing out 3.9 YPC, which is just a shade below the league average. These aren't the Purple People Eaters here, it's a unit that's struggling some; the Rams moved the ball easily (but had trouble scoring) two weeks back and obviously the Ravens offense went off last Sunday.
Mendenhall is finally set as the clear starter in Pittsburgh, he's at home, and he'll probably be looking to run the clock out late (note that the Steelers are currently a 5.5-point favorite). Is it time to put this enigmatic young player in the circle of trust? On my clipboard, that's the call. Mendenhall starts every week until further notice. - Pianow
The Holistic One, who is quite possibly the most overlooked consistency king in fantasy, has produced steady yields this season averaging a ridiculous 5.2 yards per carry and 89.2 total yards per game. He's also plunged into the invisible pool three times.
New Orleans transformation from mediocre to mighty defense is a testament to Gregg Williams' blitz-crazed system. Incredibly stout against the run, they've conceded just 3.7 yards per carry, 100.6 total yards per game and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to backs this season. But because Tony Sparano will likely institute a similar clock-controlling gameplan against the Saints as he did versus Indianapolis, Ricky is certain to rack 15-20 touches, and strong RB2 totals. Based on the dominating play of the Fins' O-line and perplexities of the Wildcat, 70-90 yards and a TD is fathomable. Keep thumping "Redemption Song." - Evans
I love everything about Sidney Rice, except his Week 7 matchup. I've seen enough of PIT CB Ike Taylor(notes) this year (he's shutdown Chad Ochocinco(notes) and Vincent Jackson(notes) already) to know that Rice isn't going to dominate the matchup like he did in going for 176 yards against Baltimore in Week 6. Don't forget that up until this past Sunday, Rice hadn't caught more than five passes or topped 70 yards in a game this season. He's a big-time talent, but one week of huge production doesn't make him a top 20 lock when you have to face Taylor, who at 6-foot-2 eliminates Rice's usual height advantage. - Funston
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