NFL Skinny: Philadelphia Story

Brandon Funston
Yahoo! SportsSeptember 18, 2007
Running Back Radar
1st Chair: Brandon Jackson
2nd Chair: DeShawn Wynn
Skinny: Derrick Ward was the waiver wire prize after Week 1. This week, Wynn is sure to lay claim to that title. The seventh-round pick from Florida picked up 10 carries for 50 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Given fellow rookie Brandon Jackson's modest production through two games as the team's featured back (32 carries, 75 yards, 2.3 ypc), there are reports that Wynn will infringe even more on Jackson's workload in Week 3, with the possibility that he could overtake Jackson on the depth chart in the near future.
1st Chair: Ronnie Brown
2nd Chair: Jesse Chatman
Skinny: It's hard to get a strong grasp of the Dolphins' backfield situation since Brown and Chatman have combined for an average of 16 carries per week. Brown outcarried Chatman in Week 2 (11 to 3), but neither back saw enough work to make an impact. Brown sat much of the second half as Miami again went to the air (Trent Green, who threw 38 times in Week 1, attempted 40 passes on Sunday). Brown played it safe, stating, "Hard to say," when asked if he thought the team has abandoned the run too early in games. The sad part for Brown owners is that the Dolphins have a fairly soft schedule upcoming (at NYJ, Oak, at Hou, at Cle), but the former No. 2 pick from Auburn is basically unusable at the moment. I'll admit, I was one who had visions of Cam Cameron coming to Miami and transforming Brown into at least a poor man's LaDainian Tomlinson. So far, all we've seen is a bankrupt version of LT.
1st Chair: Laurence Maroney
2nd Chair: Sammy Morris
Skinny: Oh, boy! Maroney owners may have a serious problem on their hands. After two weeks, Morris (the cat burglar) has stolen 21 carries from the arms of Maroney, including 10 on Sunday. In one insulting series (for Maroney owners), with New England nursing a fourth-quarter lead late, Maroney carried eight times for 46 yards. Everyone in the stadium knew he was going to get the ball, but Maroney ran tough and used his blocks brilliantly. The drive started at New England's nine-yard line and Maroney almost single-handedly moved the team down to San Diego's three-yard line. So, facing a fourth-and-one at the three, what does Bill Belichick decide to do? You got it, Morris gets his lone carry of the drive, swiping Maroney's deserved touchdown glory. This is definitely looking much like the situation from a year ago, with Morris playing the role of Corey Dillon. That's not what Maroney owners, who made him a late first- or early second-round pick, had in mind.
1st Chair: Derrick Ward
2nd Chair: Reuben Droughns
Injured: Brandon Jacobs
Skinny: There was some thought heading into Week 2 that Droughns might get thrown into the Giants' backfield mix, helping share the load with Ward in Jacobs' absence. That never materialized, however. Ward was the only running back to handle a carry for the Giants in their 35-13 loss to the Packers on Sunday. Ward was impressive, picking up 90 yards on the ground (6.0 ypc) and another 35 through the air. Jacobs is very unlikely to play in Week 3 as he nurses a sprained MCL back to health. In the meantime, it's pretty clear that it's Ward's stage. Start him with confidence in Week 3 against a Washington defense allowing 4.5 ypc.
1st Chair: Ahman Green
Injured: Ron Dayne
Skinny: The situation in Houston's backfield is starting to take shape. Green and Dayne have each carried a combined 31 times through two games. Of Green's 31 carries, 21 have come in the first half. Of Dayne's 31 carries, 27 have come in the second half, including 22 in the fourth quarter. Head coach Gary Kubiak said that Green was cramping in the second half on Sunday, but he also alluded to his preference for using Big Daddy to milk a lead down the stretch. Houston has held at least a two touchdown advantage heading into the final frame in each of its two games. Green owners will have to hope that the Texans keep things a little closer in the second half if Green is going to have a chance to see significant action after halftime.

Also See:Sunday Scene | Roto Arcade: Injuries

Owning 12 teams, I knew it wouldn't take long before I suffered my first heart-breaking loss. It happened on Monday night when Donovan McNabb's final pass attempt of the game against Washington went in and out of the hands of my receiver, Kevin Curtis. The would-be catch and subsequent six yards would have given me the two points needed for victory. Instead I suffered a one-point loss. Honestly, though, it was invigorating to be on the edge of my seat once again, screaming at the television, cursing Donovan McNabb's name, and everything else that goes into a nail-biting fantasy contest. It's really the best of what this game is all about. Even though I manage a dozen teams, and this particular team probably lands No. 12 on my priority list, fantasy football rarely fails to get me fired up. The peaks, valleys and lapses of logic make it easily the best ride at the fantasy theme park. Let's take a look at where the roller-coaster took us in Week 2:

The Good: All things Cleveland and Cincinnati. In reality, some could say that Sunday's Bengals/Browns tilt was a disgustingly ugly display of defense (which is the only way to describe a 51-45 result). But, in fantasy, it was a thing of pure beauty. After the Cowboys and Giants served up a full plate of fantasy production in Week 1 (a combined 80 points), the Bengals and Browns offered up an all-you-can-eat buffet with a 96-point outburst. The teams combined for 727 passing yards and 11 TD passes. Carson Palmer threw for 401 yards and six TD passes alone. Chad Johnson was on the receiving end of 209 of those yards and two touchdowns. T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Cleveland's Braylon Edwards also crossed the goal line twice. Jamal Lewis rushed for 216 yards, 155 of which came in the second half. Pretty much everyone involved with this game, besides the defenses, made a major impact in fantasy leagues.

The Bad: Donovan McNabb. For the second straight week, McNabb was as smooth as a rusty gate throwing the ball. He completed 28-of-46 passes on Monday night, but most were of the dink and dunk variety. McNabb did not complete a pass of 20-plus yards against Washington as most of his deeper pass attempts were wildly off the mark. After two games, McNabb has just one touchdown pass and 424 passing yards, landing him 22nd among QBs in Yahoo! default scoring. He obviously is transitioning slowly back to the speed of the game after missing the final six weeks of '06 with a torn ACL that he spent the offseason rehabilitating. If it wasn't already set in stone well in advance, you'd think the schedule gods were sympathetic to McNabb's slow start. His next three opponents (Det, @ NYG, @ NYJ) each rank among the eight most generous defenses to fantasy QBs, thus far. Help is on the way, McNabb owners.

The Ugly: The Big Three. As in, LaDainian Tomlinson, Steven Jackson and Larry Johnson, the consensus top three picks in this year's fantasy drafts. After two weeks, LT ranks just 18th among RBs in fantasy points, while LJ clocks in at 25th and S-Jax at 34th. Last year at this time, each back had at least twice as many points. In Tomlinson's case, things should get better quickly. Starting the year off by facing Chicago and New England was a bitter reward for finishing with the league's best record a year ago. He won't face another truly terrifying run defense until Week 9 when the Chargers travel to Minnesota. Johnson and Jackson, however, could continue to struggle. Johnson, in particular, seems to have drawn the short straw. He'll face Minnesota, (at) San Diego and Jacksonville in the next three weeks before the schedule finally releases its death grip. Jackson is struggling with the problems on the offensive line. OT Orlando Pace is out for the season with a shoulder injury and OG Richie Incognito, who sat in Week 2, is likely to miss a couple more games with a high ankle sprain. Jackson travels to Tampa Bay next week – the Bucs allowed New Orleans backs just 89 rushing yards last week at their house.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Jake Delhomme, Car, QB – So what if Derek Anderson did in one game what it took Delhomme to do in two, six TD passes is still an impressive number. Delhomme's half dozen scoring tosses (three in each game) tie him for second in the league behind Palmer. When Delhomme and Steve Smith are fully healthy, it's a beautiful thing to watch.

David Garrard, Jac, QB – Garrard has played like an experienced veteran in his first two games, having yet to commit a turnover. In the process, he's averaged 238 passing yards and thrown a TD pass in each game. Also, his 47 rushing yards ranks him fourth among QBs (tied with Tony Romo). You don't want to play him in Week 3 (at Denver), but as the No. 10 QB in fantasy points, he makes for a nice plug-n-play option after his Week 4 bye.

Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ, WR – I made the last-minute mistake of benching Cotchery in favor of Demetrius Williams in one of my leagues and it proved costly. Elliott Yamin look-a-like Kellen Clemens connected with Cotchery for seven receptions and 165 yards. Mr. Sticky Fingers caught a healthy 65 percent of intended passes last season and is right back on that pace this season (13-of-20).

Chris Chambers, Mia, WR – Despite the pinball machine passing numbers being put up in Cincinnati on Sunday, Chambers managed to see as many passes as any receiver in the league in Week 2 (16) – he caught nine of those passes for 109 yards. It took Chambers five games last season to reach the yardage total he's amassed in two weeks in '07 (201). The whole odd-year good/even-year bad theory about Chambers is silly. But it doesn't make it any less compelling. The fact that Chambers is doing so well this year has more to do with the accurate arm of QB Trent Green and the fact that Miami's running game is so bad that the team is forced to air it out early and often.

Shaun McDonald, Det, WR – Call him a No. 4 receiver if you will, but the numbers tell a different story. McDonald ranks 21st among receivers in pass targets (17), 12th in receptions (13), 16th in receiving yards (161) and 14th in fantasy points (22, tied with Marvin Harrison and Laveranues Coles, among others). Having played under Mike Martz in St. Louis, McDonald understands the Lions' offense, one that has attempted, on average, 10 more passes per week than any other team in the league (46). Forget about where McDonald sits, in theory, on the Lions depth chart and go pick this guy up.

Edgerrin James, Ari, RB – It's like an early-2000s flashback seeing James at the top of the RB fantasy leaders. James has a slight "edge" on Oakland's LaMont Jordan (another success story) for fantasy's top back through two weeks, scoring twice and averaging 110 yards on the ground. New head coach Ken Whisenhunt promised to bring with him a stronger ground attack, and that's definitely showed up in the early going. James has been a workhorse, averaging 25 carries a week. And having watched both his outings, he's earned every one of those yards.

Carnell Williams, TB, RB – The Cadillac showed the toughness of a Hummer on Sunday. Not exactly known for his durability or intestinal fortitude, Williams surprised owners in Week 2 by suiting up with bruised ribs and then victimizing the New Orleans run defense for two touchdowns. He managed only 61 rushing yards on 24 carries, but who cares? You have to give him credit for toughing the rib injury out and finding pay dirt twice, doubling his TD total from a year ago.

Clinton Portis, Was, RB – I was among many that were scared off by Portis' knee tendonitis on draft day. But after watching him run for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the first two games, I'm left wondering, "What knee tendonitis?" Portis looks like a spring chicken, so far, and he seems to only be benefiting, at least health-wise, from backup Ladell Betts handling nearly 40 percent of the load.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Fred Taylor, Jac, RB – Where has the not-so-long-ago vaunted Jags rushing attack gone? Through two games, Taylor and MoJo have combined for 184 yards from scrimmage and no touchdowns. Last season, the two tallied more fantasy points than their current total (16) in one game 13 times.

Thomas Jones, NYJ, RB – A calf injury and the Jets' inability to stay competitive with the opposition early in games have contributed to a meager 109-yard two-game rushing total. There is immediate hope for TJ, however, as the Jets' schedule softens considerably as five of their next seven opponents rank among the half dozen most generous run defenses in fantasy, thus far.

Reggie Bush, NO, RB – Pondering whether to take Bush or Jones-Drew early in the second round of my fantasy drafts seems rather silly looking back at it now. Bush has been nearly as fruitless as MoJo, so far, averaging less than 60 yards from scrimmage with no touchdowns through two games. His fantasy owners will have to hope he follows a similar path as last season when he scored eight touchdowns in the final eight weeks.

Jerious Norwood, Atl, RB – While it seems inevitable that he'll pass Warrick Dunn on the depth chart eventually, Norwood's first two weeks have gone to waste as he's failed to top 10 touches in either game. The fact that Dunn scored a touchdown and did reasonably well on Sunday (13-for-50) against Jacksonville won't do anything to help Norwood's cause.

Larry Fitzgerald, Ari, WR – Chemistry has been an issue for Fitz and QB Matt Leinart. Despite being the seventh-most targeted receiver through two games (22), Fitzgerald has just 10 receptions, 107 yards and 0 TDs to show for it. In Yahoo! default leagues, he's currently the 51st-ranked receiver.