Also See: Sunday Scene
|Running Back Radar
|HOUSTON TEXANS RED HOT
1st Chair: Wali Lundy
2nd Chair: Samkon Gado, Ron Dayne
Skinny: After three weeks on the inactive list, Lundy returned with a vengeance in Week 7. His 93 yards on 19 carries and a TD against a usually stout Jacksonville run defense has likely vaulted him into the Texans starting role, especially after Gado started in Week 7 but managed just 27 yards on 10 carries. Gado and Dayne, who was made inactive this past Sunday, have been underwhelming, and this ray of hope that Lundy has cast on the Houston running game (head coach Gary Kubiak is desperate to establish a ground attack foundation) will certainly make him the soup du jour for at least the near term.
|NEW YORK JETS WARM
1st Chair: Kevan Barlow, Leon Washington
Skinny: With his second 100-yard game in the past three weeks, Washington, it's fair to say, has worked himself into a platoon situation with Barlow. Barlow handles the heavy between-the-tackles lifting, while Washington's quickness is used to work the edges. Said Barlow, referring to himself in the third person, "Kevan Barlow comes in, pounds 'em up, then you put the little scatback in there and he's elusive. He owes me some of his yards because I was softening things up. He owes me like two touchdowns." It's good to see Barlow making light of the timeshare, but I'm sure it threatens him a little to see Washington blowing up.
|INDIANAPOLIS COLTS WARM
1st Chair: Dominic Rhodes
2nd Chair: Joseph Addai
Skinny: While these two backs have settled into a fairly equitable timeshare, it's worth mentioning again that Addai continues to outperform his veteran counterpart. On Sunday, Addai picked up 85 yards on 11 carries while Rhodes managed just 26 yards on 13 carries. For the season, Addai is gaining nearly two yards more per carry (5.1 to 3.3). Colts right guard Jake Scott gushed about Addai after Sunday's victory over Washington. "He's a beast," Scott said of Addai. "He's a great player. You can see it. He's going to be a great one. It's just fun to be blocking for him." Rhodes isn't likely to completely get pushed out of the picture on the go forward, but like water on a rock, he can expect his workload to erode with each passing week.
| Damage Report
An awful interception just before halftime on Monday night was the final nail in Drew Bledsoe's coffin. The Tony Romo era, for however long it will last, began as the third quarter opened and, fittingly, Romo kicked things off with an interception on his first play. Not all things were as ugly as the Dallas QB situation in Week 7, however Seattle is looking at a pretty gnarly blemish. Read on for more Week 7 spin. …
Week 6 Update: Need-to-know info from the past few days
The reports on Matt Hasselbeck
's injured knee, suffered in Sunday's loss to Minnesota, are in, and the prognosis is a 2-4 week recovery period for a second-degree (out of three) sprained MCL – with the likelihood that the outage time will be closer to a month than two weeks. This is the second major blow to the Seahawks' offense – RB Shaun Alexander
has missed the past three games with a fractured foot, although he's pushing to return in Week 8. That would, at least, help offset Hasselbeck's loss by taking some pressure off backup QB Seneca Wallace
Wallace has very little regular-season game experience (28-for-52, 313 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs) and, unfortunately, he makes his first NFL start on the road at the home of the Kansas City Chiefs, one of the toughest venues for an opponent in the league. Making matters worse, the Chiefs have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, so I can't recommend Wallace as an immediate plug-and-play. Wallace is a superb athlete, and many Seattle fans have been lobbying for the team to turn him into an Antwaan Randle El-type weapon. But head coach Mike Holmgren has stuck to his guns with Wallace as Hasselbeck's primary backup since the start of last season, and now he plans to ride him in the lead roll until Hasselbeck's return. Fantasy owners who go the route of Wallace shouldn't be surprised if he delivers some nice rushing numbers to go with some up and down passing stats. In heavily-penalized turnover leagues, I'd look hard for other options, though. With his inexperience and smallish stature, I would be surprise if he finished any of his starts without coughing the ball up via fumble or INT at least twice.
- The top breakout performer of Week 7 was undoubtedly rookie running back Leon Washington, who topped 100 rushing yards for the second time in the past three weeks, except he added his first two career touchdowns in the Jets' 31-24 victory over Detroit. I've had my eye on this guy since Week 3 when he showed up as a blip on the fantasy radar with 52 receiving yards against Buffalo. He's a smaller back, similar to Maurice Jones-Drew in quickness and low center of gravity, although less bowling ball-esque. In addition to his quickness, he catches the ball well out of the backfield and runs with maximum effort – his makeup is very different than that of Kevan Barlow, and that should keep him in line for steady carries in tandem with Barlow. Said Jets RG Brandon Moore, "Leon's running hard, Kevan's running hard. It's a good combination for us right now." Expect Washington to continue to split duties with Barlow, although I'd rather have Washington's upside, even with Barlow getting all the goal-line glory carries. Washington was available in 93 percent of Yahoo! leagues heading into Week 7.
Back to Romo … despite the INT on his first throw, he did have some nice moments. He followed the pick by completing 10 of his next 15 passes for 119 passing yards, a TD pass and a two-point conversion run. But, unfortunately, pass No. 17 looked as ugly as anything Bledsoe could conjur, burping up the ball to Giants DT Fred Robbins
at the last moment before the pass rush enveloped him – his second INT of the game. Then, not long after that, pass No. 23 was thrown behind WR Patrick Crayton
and rookie free agent CB Kevin Dockery
returned it 96 yards for a TD, sealing a Giants victory. Bledsoe owners will still want to add Romo, as he's likely to get a chance to prove himself in the lead role. But his fantasy value won't far exceed what Bledsoe has delivered thus far. Romo is more mobile, so give him the decisive edge there, but his inexperience will result in turnovers – he showed that on Monday night with a few ill-advised throws in addition to the three that landed in the hands of Giants. If you own Bledsoe and add Romo, you probably won't be much worse off than where you were at heading into Week 7.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues
QB – Jon Kitna, Det
Kitna returns to this spot once again. I'm not quite sure why fantasy owners hold the likes of sideline acts Trent Green, Daunte Culpepper, Kurt Warner and Steve McNair in a higher percentage of leagues thank Kitna, but such is the case. Kitna now ranks second in the league in passing yards and eighth in TD passes. He's also one of six QBs to rush for at least two TDs. Oh, and for the umpteenth time, I'll remind fantasy owners that he's under the direction of Mike Martz. That has resulted in Kitna throwing a league-high 264 times, thus far. He was available in 66 percent of leagues heading into Week 7, and that's just wrong.
RB – Wali Lundy, Hou
Since I gushed about Leon Washington above, I'll let Lundy get some time in the spotlight here. His 19 carries for 93 yards and a TD on Sunday were a revelation for a Houston offense desperate to get something – anything – going on the ground. The Texans' schedule is littered with run softies the rest of the way, so Lundy has an opportunity to further make an impact. Six of Houston's remaining 10 games come against teams that currently rank among the bottom seven in the league at stopping the run. After riding some fantasy buzz during the preseason (when he emerged as the team's likely starter), Lundy had been kicked to the curb in 98 percent of fantasy leagues heading into Week 7. Go get him.
WR – Mike Furrey, Det, WR
Furrey, who's also been in this spot before, came into this past weekend available in 49 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He emerged from Sunday with nine catches for 109 yards and a TD as Kitna's most popular target. In this pass-happy attack, Furrey has seen the 15th-most pass looks in the league, and his per game production over the past four weeks places him among the top 20 fantasy wideouts.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player valuesNate Washington
, Pit, WR – In his past three games, Washington has scored twice and has averaged 63 receiving yards. Cedrick Wilson
suffered a leg injury in Week 7, so Washington and rookie Santonio Holmes
could be in line for even more attention in the passing game.
, SD, TE – If you watched San Diego on Sunday, you wouldn't have known there was another receiver on the field besides Gates the way QB Philip Rivers
honed in on him. Gates was thrown to 15 times in the game, and he now has TDs in three straight contests – he's back.
, GB, WR – Driver has nursed injuries for a few weeks, and his production suffered accordingly, but he looked healthy again on Sunday, catching 10 passes for 93 yards and a TD. WR Greg Jennings
could be out in Week 8 with an ankle injury, which would thrust Driver even further into that go-to role.
, Oak, WR – With a score on Sunday, Moss has managed to find pay dirt in three of his past four games. In the past two weeks, he's been targeted a lofty 26 times.
, SD, RB – After spending the first four games of the season stealing LaDainian Tomlinson
's thunder, averaging 10 carries and 69 rushing yards, Turner has just five carries for 18 yards combined over the past two games – much to the relief of LT owners.
, Mia, WR – Joey Harrington
throws for 414 yards, and Chambers is the recipient of just 29 of them? That's crazy, and it furthers sheds light on how far his stock is falling. He has yet to compile more than 60 yards in a game this season and, despite being the target of the fourth-most passes in the league, he has caught a mere 43 percent of those looks (28 of 65).