Big Rotowski: Week 2 Ranks
By Christopher Harris
September 13, 2006
I had Jeff Wilkins at No. 4. I had Jeff Wilkins at No. 4!
All right, it wasn't my greatest week. Sure, I had some nice calls, like bumping Kurt Warner up to third among quarterbacks, insisting that Donovan McNabb should be a top-five signal-caller, jumping early on the Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook trains, and launching Donte' Stallworth above his receiving teammates. But Torry Holt as the top wideout wasn't my best moment, and Steve Smith at No. 4 was just silly. Um, yeah, and who was that moron who ranked the St. Louis Defense 32nd out of 32?
We learned a lot in Week 1, didn't we? Carson Palmer may actually have the diminished value many predicted in '06, but not because of his bad knee. Rather, the Bengals are evidently going to knock out 16 starting quarterbacks this year, enabling Palmer to spend his afternoons handing the ball off. Shaun Alexander will have days where his offensive line can't open holes the size of John Madden for him to run though. Brett Favre and the Packers are going to, um, stink.
Anyway, let's take a look at my Week 2 rankings. As always, you can check back Friday for updates in my weekly rankings, as well as ratings from the other Yahoo! Sports Fantasy experts.
Notes: At the moment, I've written these ratings as though Ben Roethlisberger (appendectomy) won't play, but there are rumblings in Pittsburgh that the extra day (the Steelers play on Monday night) may help Big Ben convince his coaches to let him start against Jacksonville. I'll revisit the issue later in the week … What a shame there's no more Manning vs. Manning hype this week, huh? … Bulger played a nice, tidy game against Denver last weekend, but couldn't punch it in the end zone. Don't expect that to be a problem against the Niners … Warner was sharp against San Francisco, and Seattle's pass defense isn't its strong suit. But he has to come down a little this week … From the Let's-Not-Get-Carried-Away Department: Plummer was truly terrible against the Rams, but it's a bit early for all the Jay Cutler talk. Hopefully for Plummer owners, that stinker is out of the way, and Jake can get his head on straight. His Week 1 mistakes were mostly mental, though he was burned at least twice by receiver gaffes. The Chief secondary is inconsistent … From the Let's-Not-Get-Carried-Away Department, Part Deux: Pennington was a great story last week, but Tennessee is in a shambles. The Patriots should present a better test, especially if Tedy Bruschi returns. New England CB Ellis Hobbs was one of this week's most talked-about players for the job he did against Buffalo last week … Should Delhomme still be this high? It's a good question. Steve Smith is as questionable as ever, and I like Minnesota's pass defense. I'm giving John Fox at least another week, though. He's a really good coach … Carr's as high as he is because he got some semblance of protection on maybe half his drop-backs last week, which is (believe it or not) an improvement. Presumably Houston will be far behind, and need to throw.
Notes: The Big Three stay in the first three slots for another week, if only because two of them (Tomlinson and Alexander) have what look like sweet matchups. Denver's rush defense looked bad against the Rams (4.5 yards per carry), but I expect them to tighten up … Buffalo doesn't seem to have fixed its defensive-line issues yet, so Ronnie Brown is bumped up … Gore is just a little bottle of thunder, eh? Then again, he does have two pretty nice matchups to start the year. Can't say I think he's going to be a top-10 fantasy back for the season, but he'll certainly look like a tradable commodity to his owners after Week 2 (though be careful of the injury to OT Jonas Jennings) … Parker is trapped in a Catch-22: he needs the ball a lot to finally find a hole through which to break a big one, but the times where he doesn't break a big one, he takes big-time punishment and doesn't gain anything. One does wonder whether he can hold up … Portis got 10 carries on Monday night to Betts' eight, and reported no ill effects. Still, the shoulder has to be tender, and Dallas's rush defense allowed 2.4 ypc in Jacksonville … James is a recipe for disaster this week. Seattle allowed 38 yards on 17 carries on the road last weekend, and Arizona's offensive line looks weak. It should be a raucous crowd cheering on the 'Hawks for the first time since the Super Bowl … Maroney looked so much better than Dillon in Week 1, it seems just a matter of time before the rushing ratio swings in the rookie's favor. For now, they're a straight platoon, but when the Patriots needed a key drive late, they turned to Maroney … Mike Bell's finger injury may or may not keep him out (ew, bone pushing on fingernail, ew), but in my mind Tatum Bell is still on his way to taking away this job for good. Tatum was crummy in the first half, but again, when Denver needed a comeback, they used him … Hated Jordan's opening-night matchup with the Charger run defense. Hate the road tilt against Baltimore even more. Be patient; there are better games coming.
Notes: Steve Smith, we hardly knew ye. Fool me once, shame on me, etc. I'm not starting him until I'm sure he's starting. Check back much later … Harrison and Wayne should have another field day against Houston. The Fitzgerald/Boldin combo probably has to be downgraded just a bit. Again, that hostile Seattle environment … Ward jumps way up, as his hamstring seems no longer to be an issue, and Charlie Batch was comfortable getting him the ball … Driver also makes a sort of incongruous (Lambeau) leap. I don't think Brett Favre will be overly effective all told, but I do think he'll try and shut up his critics, which could lead to a couple scores. He looked for Driver 11 times in Week 1 … Houshmandzadeh is supposedly fine to play, but make sure he practices this week before you start him … Randy Moss takes a beating this week. He had a fine stretch in that Monday night game, but otherwise looked as lost as he claims to feel. He also threw the ball at a defender out of bounds, and cost his offense 15 yards, which just about halved its production … I like Stallworth and Brown against Giants corners Sam Madison and Corey Webster. Donovan McNabb will need time, and the pass rush will certainly be more fierce than it was in Houston. But the Eagles can still be effective through the air … Roy Williams guarantees notwithstanding, I expect another low-scorer in Chicago this week … Matt Jones was the guy Byron Leftwich looked for when things got rough against Dallas. He, too, totaled 11 targets. It'll be interesting to see whether Ike Taylor gets matched up on Jones all night. If not, look for the huge Jones to feast … Bennett set the mark for most targets in Week 1 with 17. Given the state of his hands, that probably isn't a recipe for overall success, but his owners can't complain. That San Diego's pass defense looked good against Oakland means absolutely nothing. It's still not what the Chargers do best.
Notes: Gonzalez got 12 targets last week, most among tight ends. Seven of these came after Damon Huard came in for Trent Green with about five minutes left in the third quarter. To me, that means Huard will look to Gonzo a lot this weekend … Those who believed Heap would benefit from Steve McNair's old tight-end-loving ways were right. Heap and Winslow were second among tight ends with nine targets in Week 1 … Watson is still the best pass-catching threat the Patriots have. And truthfully, that will be the case even if they do acquire Jerry Porter … Miller was a big star on Thursday night (though he was obviously out-of-bounds on his long TD), but lost in the shuffle is the fact that he was targeted only three times, which explains why I lowered his ranking. If Big Ben returns, I'd move Miller up … Vernon Davis looks terrific, but note that Eric Johnson is still getting a few looks in San Francisco … Wiggins was open all night against the Redskins, and the Monday Night crew's foaming notwithstanding, Wiggins ate Sean Taylor's lunch on several plays. Loved seeing that … I've got Lewis listed here, but if he can't play again, I'd pretty much just substitute George Wrighster in the same place on this list. The Jags actually threw to Wrighster in the Dallas game, and to me that indicates they've got a lot of plays ready to go for Lewis, and didn't want them to go to waste … Maybe it was just Green Bay's defense, but Desmond Clark was open on every single pass play in Week 1. And that's only barely hyperbole. All told, he was targeted eight times, and caught five passes for 77 yards. He's only been targeted that much twice in the last two seasons, and never racked up that many yards doing so. Glorified tackle, indeed.
Notes: Vanderjagt has supposedly been cleared by the training staff, so I expect he'll actually play against the Redskins, but be sure he's definitely in before starting him. Bill Parcells seems about at his wits' end with him already … Vinatieri was obviously just fine against the Giants, and he'll kick his first home game in a dome this weekend … Carney is the week's biggest mover. Who knew he was still in the league?
Notes: I'm trying not to get irrationally exuberant about the Ravens defense, but Tampa Bay isn't nearly as bad as they looked last week. Ray Lewis and Adalius Thomas were the two most impressive players on the field, and first-rounder Haloti Ngata returned an interception 60 yards. He's a nosetackle, folks … Jacksonville will be hurt by the loss of Reggie Hayward, who has 29 sacks over the last three seasons. They've got some depth with which to cover Hayward's injury, but anyone else going down will be a problem … The Giants look like a major leaper on this list, but really, they were simply very low last week because they hosted Peyton and the boys. It's going to be tough heading into Philly, but this pass rush can still be a wrecking ball … Denver's D wasn't all that terrible in Week 1; the main problem was the five turnovers. With Damon Huard helming the Chiefs and the media storm surrounding Jake Plummer, this is one of the more predictable reactionary blowouts of the season. Broncos win big … Atlanta should be higher on this list, but I don't know the status of John Abraham yet. If he's healthy, bump them up … Yes, the Chargers shut out the Raiders. And yes, they should easily handle the Titans. But don't be surprised if Tennessee gets some work done via the air … That the Rams are still ranked only 21st after a really nice display last weekend (and in Week 2 they play the Niners) reminds me of college football's ranking system. If you start out at 32nd, there's only so high you're going to go in a single week, I suppose.
Christopher Harris is a Fantasy Sports Writers Association award-winning columnist and beagle-owner who has written about fantasy sports for SportsIllustrated.com, NBA.com, and TalentedMrRoto.com. Send Christopher a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Wednesday, Sep 13, 2006 3:41 pm, EDT