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Big Rotowski: Week 6 Ranks

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Note: As of Friday, updated Week 6 rankings can be found HERE

Who knew it would take Terrell Owens leaving Philadelphia for the City of Brotherly Love to become the epicenter of fantasy football?

It's true, and (shameless self-promotion ahoy) not just because I have a weekly radio segment with Tim McManus and Pat Callahan on WNTP in Philly. Five weeks into the '06 season, three Philadelphia Eagles properties — Donovan McNabb (No. 1), Brian Westbrook (No. 6) and the Eagles Defense (No. 7) —are in the top-seven in fantasy scoring. And that includes Westbrook missing a game.

But wait. Maybe the new home of fantasy greatness is the Windy City. After all, an amazing four Chicago Bears properties — the Chicago Defense (No. 3), Robbie Gould (No. 4), Bernard Berrian (No. 8) and Rex Grossman (No. 10) — are in the top-10 in fantasy scoring. The only other three fantasy entities in 2006's top-10 to date are the Ravens Defense (No. 2), Jeff Wilkins (No. 5) and Peyton Manning (No. 9).

All right, that's not exactly true. The top-10 to which I'm referring is expressed in terms of total fantasy points, not average points per week, so players who've already had their bye week are at a disadvantage. But even if you add in the five additional entities who've got a higher per-game fantasy average than Grossman (the Falcons Defense, the Chargers Defense, Larry Johnson, Rudi Johnson and Nate Kaeding), you've still got a full 47 percent of the top-15 devoted to Eagles and Bears. Oh my.

In the 12-team Yahoo! Experts draft, Westbrook was the only Eagle or Bear to go in the first round (12th overall); McNabb went (to yours truly) with the first pick of the fifth round, and the next Philly player drafted was Reggie Brown, in the seventh round. And that's nothing compared to the lack of respect the Bears got. Thomas Jones was the first Bears entity picked, with the ninth pick of the sixth round. Muhsin Muhammad went (to yours truly) with the last pick of the eighth round, and the Chicago Defense went in the ninth. Grossman? Undrafted. Berrian? Yeah, right.

And yet here we are. It's a Bears/Eagles world, and we all just live in it. Oh, and yeah, the experts know a lot. Let me tell you.

On to the Week 6 rankings. Remember: Indianapolis, New England, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Green Bay and Minnesota are off this week. As always, you can check back Friday for updates in my weekly rankings, as well as ratings from the other Yahoo! Sports Fantasy experts.

Quarterbacks

Rank Name Opponent Week 5 Rating
1 Donovan McNabb @ NO 2
2 Carson Palmer @ TB bye
3 Michael Vick NYG bye
4 Drew Bledsoe HOU 7
5 Rex Grossman @ ARI 11
6 Matt Hasselbeck @ STL bye
7 Eli Manning @ ATL 4
8 Marc Bulger SEA 3
9 David Carr @ DAL bye
10 Philip Rivers @ SF 22
11 Jon Kitna BUF 14
12 Chad Pennington MIA 8
13 Drew Brees PHI 12
14 Mark Brunell TEN 10
15 J.P. Losman @ DET 23
16 Jake Plummer OAK 16
17 Damon Huard @ PIT 20
18 Jake Delhomme @ BAL 15
19 Steve McNair CAR 19
20 Vince Young @ WAS 26
21 Alex Smith SD 18
22 Joey Harrington @ NYJ NR
23 Bruce Gradkowski CIN 25
24 Ben Roethlisberger KC 24
25 Matt Leinart CHI 28
26 Andrew Walter @ DEN 27

Notes: With Peyton Manning on bye, I don't have to concern myself with rating him against McNabb this week; I've a feeling that at this point, McNabb would win. He's the highest-scoring fantasy player in most formats … Palmer's stats to date don't warrant a placement this high; in standard formats, he's around 25th among fantasy QBs. But the Bengals are coming off a bye and the taste of that awful game against New England has eaten at them for two weeks. Tampa Bay tends not to give up the deep stuff, but if he stays patient (and he will), Palmer can pick the Bucs apart … Vick has 333 rushing yards, three fewer than LaDainian Tomlinson in the same number of games. He's valuable for this reason only; he's simply not a very accurate thrower, but he'll cannibalize TDs like nobody's business … I aimed too high on Bledsoe in Philly last week, so why am I aiming even higher in Week 6? Two words: Houston Texans … The truth is that Hasselbeck may be too high here, as well. He hasn't done much yet in '06, and the Rams have been surprisingly good against the pass. Both St. Louis corners are ailing, though, and after the bye, I'm thinking the 'Hawks may have ironed out some kinks … If Eli Manning can do it this week against a Falcons team giving up the fewest fantasy points to QBs, he's even studlier than seventh … Rivers threw the ball 37 times on Sunday night, the highest total of his career. If the leash is off, the Chargers can throw all day against the Niners … Pennington was awful in Jacksonville, but this is one of those games I think the Jets will win; they were humiliated, and they're coming home … Losman was abominable in Chicago, but the Lions are decimated on defense. They give up the third-most fantasy points to QBs (after Green Bay and Houston) … Gradkowski was excellent against New Orleans; in standard formats, he was tied for fourth among all QBs in points scored. Cincinnati's a lot easier to run against than throw against, though, so I'd temper my enthusiasm for a week, anyway … Am I reading this right? Roethlisberger has zero passing touchdowns? Ouch.

Running Backs

Rank Name Opponent Week 5 Rating
1 Clinton Portis TEN 2
2 LaDainian Tomlinson @ SF 3
3 Brian Westbrook @ NO 11
4 Rudi Johnson @ TB bye
5 Julius Jones HOU 10
6 Ronnie Brown @ NYJ 12
7 Thomas Jones @ ARI 8
8 Larry Johnson @ PIT 1
9 Steven Jackson SEA 4
10 Willie Parker KC 24
11 Carnell Williams CIN 27
12 Willis McGahee @ DET 23
13 Tiki Barber @ ATL 6
14 Kevin Jones BUF 9
15 Deuce McAllister PHI 17
16 Frank Gore SD 7
17 Warrick Dunn NYG bye
18 Tatum Bell OAK 31
19 LaMont Jordan @ DEN 5
20 Edgerrin James CHI 13
21 Travis Henry @ WAS NR
22 Maurice Morris @ STL bye
23 Reggie Bush PHI 22
24 Jamal Lewis CAR 29
25 DeShaun Foster @ BAL 20
26 Leon Washington MIA 39
27 Ron Dayne @ DAL bye
28 Marion Barber III HOU 37
29 Cedric Benson @ ARI NR
30 LenDale White @ WAS 26
31 Brandon Jacobs @ ATL 38
32 Kevan Barlow MIA 21
33 Musa Smith CAR NR
34 Jerious Norwood NYG bye
35 Mack Strong @ STL bye
36 Justin Fargas @ DEN NR
37 Ladell Betts TEN 36
38 Michael Robinson SD 33
39 Samkon Gado @ DAL bye
40 Chris Brown @ WAS 30

Notes: Neither Portis nor Tomlinson set the world on fire last week, but each has what should be a far easier matchup in Week 6. Each should score at least once … I bumped Westbrook down last week over fears about his knee; when you hear the words "microfracture surgery," that'll tend to happen. But I've given up worrying about him. For the time being, I'm going to rank him each week as though he's fine, and advise you to keep an eye on Philly's game-day inactives … Larry Johnson looks as though his neck will be okay, but you have to worry about him going into Pittsburgh to play an angry Steelers team. A short score is always a possibility, though … Parker, Williams and McGahee all take large leaps. In the cases of Parker and McGahee, they change to far softer opponents. Cadillac scared me with talk about back surgery during Tampa Bay's bye, but came back strong in New Orleans last week, to the tune of 20 carries for 111 yards. Mike Alstott vultured a TD, though … Gore carried it 27 times for 134 yards against Oakland, but Michael Robinson got three straight goal-line carries in the second half (he converted none of them). The sledding gets much harder against San Diego … Jordan drops through no fault of his own; Art Shell apparently is trying to write a script called "Return Of Huggy Bear Jr." by playing Fargas more. Jordan got 12 carries against San Francisco last week, while Fargas got eight. Each was successful, but they face a tougher rush defense in Denver … Morris has been dissed quite a bit during Seattle's bye, but I've always liked him. Frankly, if Shaun Alexander stayed out for the year, I think Morris would be a serviceable starter, and the Rams are in the bottom 10 in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs. Still, the Seahawks' o-line has questions to answer … I've got Washington ahead of Barlow, but really, last week's carry totals aren't any kind of indicator; Washington was on the field because the Jets were down by a million early. But if trends mean anything, you have to think that Barlow is falling out of favor, and Washington is insinuating himself into the offense more … Benson posted great numbers last week, though just about all of it came in garbage time. He could be worth a spot start this week simply because there could be quite a lot of garbage time in Arizona, too.

Wide Receivers

Rank Name Opponent Week 5 Rating
1 Torry Holt SEA 1
2 Darrell Jackson @ STL bye
3 Santana Moss TEN 6
4 Terrell Owens HOU 4
5 Chad Johnson @ TB bye
6 Steve Smith @ BAL 2
7 Andre Johnson @ DAL bye
8 T.J. Houshmandzadeh @ TB bye
9 Terry Glenn HOU 12
10 Plaxico Burress @ ATL 5
11 Roy Williams BUF 10
12 Javon Walker OAK 15
13 Anquan Boldin CHI 17
14 Bernard Berrian @ ARI 26
15 Chris Chambers @ NYJ 9
16 Laveranues Coles MIA 7
17 Deion Branch @ STL bye
18 Amani Toomer @ ATL 30
19 Marques Colston PHI 19
20 Jerricho Cotchery MIA 20
21 Isaac Bruce SEA 11
22 Reggie Brown @ NO 22
23 Lee Evans @ DET 42
24 Hines Ward KC 16
25 Muhsin Muhammad @ ARI 27
26 Joey Galloway CIN 28
27 Eric Moulds @ DAL bye
28 Eddie Kennison @ PIT 32
29 Randy Moss @ DEN 29
30 Keyshawn Johnson @ BAL 31
31 Bobby Engram @ STL bye
32 Bryant Johnson CHI NR
33 Drew Bennett @ WAS 34
34 Mike Furrey BUF 36
35 Antonio Bryant SD 35
36 Rod Smith OAK 37
37 Keenan McCardell @ SF 33
38 Wes Welker @ NYJ NR
39 Greg Lewis @ NO 38
40 Michael Jenkins NYG bye
41 Nate Burleson @ STL bye
42 Joe Horn PHI 44
43 Hank Baskett @ NO NR
44 Arnaz Battle SD NR
45 Eric Parker @ SF NR
46 Ronald Curry @ DEN NR
47 Michael Clayton CIN 39
48 Cedrick Wilson KC 48
49 Az-Zahir Hakim BUF NR
50 Derrick Mason CAR 40

Notes: Holt leads the NFL in targets and has scored in four consecutive weeks, so he makes an ultra-worthy No. 1 … Darrell Jackson had a rough game in Chicago before Seattle's bye, complete with two drops (one of which could've been a touchdown), but he's as healthy as he's going to be all year, and playing against banged-up Rams corners … Owens' punkishness need not be reiterated here. Suffice it to say that Houston does not have a Lito Sheppard to control T.O. the way Philly did. I still think you have to rate him highly, and even a little more highly than his red-hot teammate Glenn … Same goes for Chad Johnson and Houshmandzadeh. Housh has been far more productive because defenses key on 7/11, but Johnson is too talented not to score seven or eight times over the rest of the year. Cincinnati is another angry team coming off a bye looking to explode … Roy Williams sounds like his back or shoulder is okay, and that he'll play. But we've seen quite a lot of injury-list shenanigans this year, so be sure on Sunday morning … With Larry Fitzgerald out, Boldin gets the limelight on Monday night. Matt Leinart was very controlled and patient in his first start, but he won't have that luxury against Chicago; still, Boldin is the kind of security-blanket possession guy who can save the kid a lot of grief … I believe, Mr. Berrian! I believe! … Time to make me look smart, Deion Branch … In retrospect, despite Chicago's excellent defense, I had Evans too low last week. He was targeted a league-high 14 times in Week 5, and caught nine passes for 94 yards and a garbage-time TD. Against an injured Detroit defense, he's startable … Now's the time to trade Randy Moss. He's scored in consecutive weeks, but folks who aren't paying attention may not have noticed how little he's trying. He could've scored at least one other time against the Niners on Sunday, but simply seems not to care. A week with Champ Bailey isn't going to increase his value … Bryant Johnson replaced Fitzgerald, and he looked fine catching six passes for 82 yards after Fitz left last week against the Chiefs. But Johnson has done this before. He's a perpetual tease from whom far more was expected than his classmate, Boldin. You should probably pick him up, but against the Bears, don't expect miracles … Welker looked like an absolute force for Miami last week; Joey Harrington targeted him 12 times, and Welker, looking like Wayne Chrebet with more speed, caught nine for 77 yards. Marty Booker is out, and Harrington likes Welker.

Tight Ends

Rank Name Opponent Week 5 Rating
1 Antonio Gates @ SF 5
2 Marques Colston
PHI
2
3 Todd Heap CAR 6
4 Alge Crumpler NYG bye
5 L.J. Smith @ NO 9
6 Tony Gonzalez @ PIT 7
7 Jeremy Shockey
@ ATL
1
8 Heath Miller KC 4
9 Desmond Clark
@ ARI
13
10 Eric Johnson SD 8
11 Chris Cooley TEN 11
12 Randy McMichael @ NYJ 22
13 Owen Daniels @ DAL bye
14 Ben Troupe @ WAS 15
15 Alex Smith CIN 18
16 Bo Scaife @ WAS 23
17 Jason Witten
HOU
14
18 Chris Baker MIA 17
19 Daniel Wilcox CAR NR
20 Ernie Conwell PHI 25
21 Joe Klopfenstein SEA 19
22 Itula Mili @ STL bye
23 Kris Mangum @ BAL NR
24 Stephen Alexander OAK 24
25 Courtney Anderson
@ DEN
28
26 Leonard Pope CHI NR

Notes: I'm sorry I doubted you, Antonio. Nice TD catch Sunday night, by the way … The Colston hate-mails have slowed to a trickle. Thanks for asking … Shockey gets bumped down a bit because of his persistently balky ankle. Still, you have to play him unless you're sure he's inactive on Sunday … McMichael was one of Joey Harrington's primary targets last Sunday. McMichael was targeted nine times, which tied Kellen Winslow for most among tight ends. The most he'd been targeted in any other game this year was six … Me thinks Norm Chow read the press clippings this offseason, and decided that if everyone thought the Titans were going to emphasize the tight end, he'd confound them and ignore the tight end. Scaife and Troupe each received one target in Week 5 … Witten is long overdue for a score. He registered six TDs in each of the last two seasons, but is on pace for only 52 catches and zero scores right now. Covering the tight end is one of the few things the Texans defense has done well this year … Wilcox makes his debut on this list because he's a good red-zone threat, and Carolina is susceptible over the middle. Heap is certainly the primary guy, but when he draws attention, Wilcox can be open … Mili should be back this week, marking the end of the Will Heller Era in Seattle … Too bad the Bills don't really use the tight end as a pass-catcher. The Lions continue to be the worst in football limiting the tight end, fantasy-wise. Go long, Robert Royal!

Kickers

Rank Name Opponent Week 5 Rating
1 Robbie Gould @ ARI 7
2 Jeff Wilkins SEA 2
3 Nate Kaeding @ SF 4
4 Shayne Graham @ TB bye
5 John Carney PHI 3
6 Matt Stover CAR 5
7 John Kasay @ BAL 6
8 Lawrence Tynes @ PIT 9
9 Mike Vanderjagt HOU 12
10 Jason Elam OAK 18
11 David Akers @ NO 15
12 Jay Feely @ ATL 16
13 Josh Brown @ STL bye
14 Morten Andersen NYG bye
15 Rian Lindell @ DET 17
16 Jason Hanson BUF 20
17 Joe Nedney SD 11
18 Neil Rackers CHI 14
19 Olindo Mare @ NYJ 21
20 Jeff Reed KC 27
21 Sebastian Janikowski @ DEN 25
22 Rob Bironas @ WAS 28
23 Nick Novak TEN NR
24 Kris Brown @ DAL bye
25 Mike Nugent MIA 24
26 Matt Bryant CIN 26

Notes: Gould is a much-publicized 17-for-17 in field-goal attempts; of course, only one of them has really mattered: a 49-yarder in the fourth quarter of a tight game against Minnesota. Still, they don't pay for mattering … Can I get an 'amen,' now that we can spend a week not worrying whether Adam Vinatieri's crotch hurts? … Some games just scream "15-12," don't they? Is Carolina/Baltimore one of those? Could be … Elam goes from kicking against Baltimore to kicking against Oakland. That's a relief … After making 40 out of 42 in 2005, Rackers has made only six of nine in '06. He's 24th among fantasy kickers. Please, please, please don't draft kickers high. Or keep them … Novak won the audition to substitute for the injured John Hall in Washington. Tennessee will give up fantasy points to kickers (11th-most so far this year), but do you really want your fantasy fate resting with a guy who hasn't tested his foot in a big-league game all year? … Nice use of a second-round pick by the Jets on Mike "Noodge" Nugent, huh? He's two-for-four in '06, and that's after 16-for-22 in '05. That's almost as cool as paying a first-rounder for Sea-Bass.

Defenses

Rank Name Opponent Week 5 Rating
1 Chicago Bears @ ARI 1
2 Baltimore Ravens CAR 2
3 San Diego Chargers @ SF 3
4 Philadelphia Eagles @ NO 8
5 Cincinnati Bengals @ TB bye
6 Dallas Cowboys HOU 9
7 Carolina Panthers @ BAL 5
8 St. Louis Rams SEA 7
9 Atlanta Falcons NYG bye
10 Pittsburgh Steelers KC 6
11 Kansas City Chiefs @ PIT 10
12 Buffalo Bills @ DET 20
13 Denver Broncos OAK 17
14 New Orleans Saints PHI 15
15 Seattle Seahawks @ STL bye
16 Washington Redskins TEN 16
17 New York Jets MIA 14
18 Miami Dolphins @ NYJ 24
19 San Francisco 49ers SD 19
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers CIN 26
21 Arizona Cardinals CHI 21
22 Houston Texans @ DAL bye
23 New York Giants @ ATL 22
24 Detroit Lions BUF 28
25 Oakland Raiders @ DEN 18
26 Tennessee Titans @ WAS 27

Notes: The Eagles' secondary is getting healthier, and with that comes an ability to stop teams from going deep – Man, am I scientific, or what? It doesn't hurt that the Philly offense is putting a ton of pressure on opposing teams by scoring so much … I loved what I saw in the Carolina game against Cleveland last week, and I'm sure the Panthers D will be worth starting. But there are some offenses that just don't take enough chances to result in huge defensive plays, and Baltimore's is one of those. Man, they're boring … Buffalo jumps up, if only because of the relief of getting out of Chicago. Rookie first-rounder John McCargo is out with a broken foot, but he wasn't playing that much anyway. Detroit's offense has been extremely generous to fantasy defenses, turning it over nine times and allowing 19 sacks in five games … For as long as offenses stay away from Champ Bailey, the Broncos defense may not produce huge numbers, but they're allowing 8.5 points per game, second-best in the league. They haven't generated much in the way of sacks or turnovers yet, but the Raiders are coming to town. Give 'em time.