NFL Skinny: Raising Arizona?

Brandon Funston
Yahoo! Sports
Running Back Radar
1st Chair: Chris Brown
2nd Chair: LenDale White, Travis Henry
Skinny: Henry was a semi-healthy scratch on Sunday, with Brown getting the start and White backing him up. White handled just three fewer carries than Brown (12 to 9), but accumulated six more yards on the ground (39 to 33). With rookie Vince Young now at the helm of the offense, expect that White will continue to be worked into the mix, with his time coming at the expense of Henry or Brown. The days of those two running in tandem while White looks on from the sideline appear to be over.
1st Chair: Dominic Rhodes
2nd Chair: Joseph Addai
Skinny: After playing a clear second-fiddle to Rhodes in Week 3, Addai was the most-worked back on Sunday at New York, handling 20 carries (84 yards) to Rhodes' 15 (75 yards). Addai also caught three catches for 15 yards. This is becoming one of the hardest running back situations to put a finger on. For now, consider Rhodes the most playable back against staunch run defenses, with Addai the better play when the opposition is expected to be less resistant against the run.
1st Chair: Kevan Barlow
2nd Chair: Leon Washington, Cedric Houston
Skinny: Houston left Sunday's game on crutches with his knee in a brace, so expect Barlow to split carries with Washington going forward, with Barlow getting the edge in carries, and all the goal-line and short-yardage work.
1st Chair: DeShaun Foster
2nd Chair: DeAngelo Williams
Skinny: Foster and Williams combined for 24 carries and 167 rushing yards on Sunday, with Foster handling two-thirds of the carry load (16 to 8). Foster's carries included a 43-yard touchdown run, cementing his place at the top of this time-share. As good as Williams has looked, expect head coach John Fox to remain loyal to Foster by continuing to split the carries strongly in Foster's favor.
1st Chair: Ron Dayne
2nd Chair: Samkon Gado
Skinny: Actions speak louder than words. So, despite head coach Gary Kubiak's comments leading us to believe that Gado would be mixed into the running plans with Dayne these past two weeks, the fact that Dayne has out-carried Gado 36 to 7 in that span speaks loudest. Dayne is clearly running out front here. As for rookie Wali Lundy, his 15 minutes of fame ended with the preseason – he hasn't handled a carry since Week 2.
1st Chair: Thomas Jones
2nd Chair: Cedric Benson
Skinny: After not handling a carry in Week 3, Benson was worked into a blowout win against Seattle on Sunday, taking 11 carries for 37 yards. Unfortunately for Benson, Jones had his best game of the season, rushing 24 times for 98 yards and two scores. For now, Benson poses no threat to Jones owners.

Also See:Sunday Scene | Damage Report

Emotion ran high in Week 4. At least three players (David Carr, DeShaun Foster and Corey Dillon) celebrated touchdowns by hucking the ball into the stands. And in the case of Dillon, who delivered the pigskin to the fans of his former team, the ball was sent back in classic Wrigley Field fashion. Emotion also got the better of Tennessee defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, who couldn't help but take his cleats to the head of a helmetless Andre Gurode, a Cowboys offensive lineman, not once, but twice. Personally, my Week 4 emotional peak hasn't been reached yet. It will come on Monday night as my fantasy team needs Brett Favre and Donald Driver to hook up early and often. While I wait for that rollercoaster ride, let's take a look at what went down on Sunday:

Week 4 Update: Need-to-know info from the past few days

Matt Leinart had to wait just four weeks before receiving the keys to the Arizona Cardinals offense. But the car he's inheriting, while capable of high speeds, unfortunately has a cracked head gasket, personified by perhaps the NFL's worst offensive line. Leinart made his NFL regular season debut on Sunday. On his second snap, Atlanta DT Grady Jackson cruised unblocked through the Cardinals' line and got to Leinart before he was able to hand the ball off to Edgerrin James. The play resulted in a fumble – and Kurt Warner was probably on the sideline muttering, "Welcome to my world, Matt." In total, Leinart finished 5-for-8 for 48 yards, including a fumble and an interception. Head coach Dennis Green has named Leinart the starter for Week 5 against Kansas City, and beyond.

Despite the offensive line woes, I do think that Leinart is capable of more than what we've seen of Warner in his time in Arizona. For one thing, Leinart isn't completely immobile like his predecessor. He also doesn't hold onto the ball as long and shouldn't take as many sacks as Warner. Leinart has the smarts, the vision and the arm accuracy to hit the ground running. The offensive line is a serious problem that can't be ignored, and dates with Kansas City and Chicago in the next two weeks might be best served by having Leinart ride the fantasy pine. But, if you own him , or plan on bringing him aboard this week, he's going to be an attractive play in Week 7 and Week 8 when then team travels to Oakland and Green Bay, respectively.

  • Week 4 highlighted what has been a bumper crop of breakout receivers. On Sunday, Marques Colston (5, 132, 1), Jerricho Cotchery (3, 65, 1), Bernard Berrian (3, 108, 1) and Reggie Williams (5, 93, 2) further proved their early season exploits weren't a fluke, and each now sits among the top 10 fantasy receivers. While their fantasy availability has shrunk over the weeks, two more receivers emerged on Sunday that will be much more attainable across Yahoo! leagues, and perhaps as valuable. Detroit's Mike Furrey scored twice against St. Louis, where he spent time last season as a free safety. Now a starting receiver in Mike Martz's pass-happy offense, Furrey sits ninth in the league in catches among receivers and 25th in yards (242). He's 99 percent available.

In New England, Doug Gabriel has positioned himself as the team's go-to receiver the past two weeks. He missed Week 1 with a hamstring injury, and didn't record a catch in Week 2 as he was slowly worked into the offense. But he's been targeted a team-high 19 times in the two games since, tallying 122 yards and two TDs. Gabriel is a burner with the skills to develop into a complete package. On the go forward, expect his role to grow and for the team to look for him deep more than it has thus far. A buzz pickup in preseason after he was traded from Oakland, Gabriel still can be had in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

  • Terrell Owens' return to action on Sunday, coming off a broken hand and an accidental drug overdose, went off without a hitch. He hauled in a respectable five passes for 88 yards, and he also had a ball thrown to him in the end zone that was first ruled a TD but was overturned by another referee – from the replays I saw, it looked like it actually may have been a legit catch. Owens' presence certainly benefited Terry Glenn, opening things up for the veteran to score twice on passes from Drew Bledsoe. Between the lines, there is no arguing that Owens has a positive affect on the Cowboys, and his fantasy owners. No question, those owners long for the off-the-field stuff to just go away. But with Philadelphia on the Cowboys' schedule for Week 5, those wishes will be folly for at least another week.

For all the Week 4 injury news, including Laveranues Coles' ill-fated involvement in the Jets' lateral-laden final play against the Colts, be sure to check out Christopher Harris' Damage Report.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues
QB – David Carr, Hou
Efficiency has defined Carr's season, thus far. After four games, Carr is the surprise NFL leader in QB Rating (108.9) and Completion Percentage (73 percent). He has accounted for eight scores (7 TD passes, 1 TD run), while throwing just two picks – only Peyton Manning and Jake Delhomme have fewer INTs among QBs that have started four games. He's still eating turf more than you'd like to see – his 15 sacks are second-most in the league – but when Carr is able to move the offense into the red zone, the team's struggles running the football (3.2 yards per carry) has Carr looking to find pay dirt through the air – Carr has the team's only rushing TD, while TD passes to Andre Johnson (2), Eric Moulds (1), Owen Daniels (2) and Mark Bruener (2) have accounted for the team's remaining offensive touchdowns. Carr is still available in 51 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

RB – Kevan Barlow, NYJ
While I like rookie Leon Washington's chances to work his way prominently into the Jets' backfield mix, Barlow should be good for at least half of the backfield workload no matter how this situation evolves. And, more importantly, Barlow should continue to own exclusive rights to goal-line carries. Barlow scored twice on Sunday, giving him four rushing TDs in four games – all of his scores have come from five yards out or less. Cedric Houston, who has the only other rushing TD for the Jets (a five-yarder), hurt his knee in Week 4, eliminating any worry for the time being of Barlow losing any short-yardage glory carries. With Chad Pennington masterfully piloting the Jets' offensive attack – through Sunday, the Jets were the fourth-highest scoring team in the league – Barlow should continue to see scoring opportunities, even if the yardage is meager. Consider Barlow as a plug-n-play during the next four weeks of the bye season – he's available in 65 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

WR – Reggie Williams, Jac
With two touchdowns on Sunday, Williams now sits among the top 10 fantasy scorers at the wide receiver position, and he's still available in 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues. With Matt Jones nursing a groin injury, Williams, not Earnest Wilford, has been the object of quarterback Byron Leftwich's attention. For the season, Williams' 33 pass targets ranks 16th among receivers, and is tops on the Jaguars. Although slow for the position, he's a big body with good hands, which should afford him continued looks in the red zone.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Drew Brees, NO, QB – With two 300-yard passing performances in his past three games (349 yards and a TD pass on Sunday), Brees has been gobbled up in Yahoo! leagues (ownership at 94 percent). Brees' value has been bolstered by the development of rookies Reggie Bush and Marques Colston.

Jerious Norwood, Atl, RB – Norwood banged up his shoulder on a special teams play in the 1st quarter on Sunday, but he returned in the third quarter and took a handoff 78 yards for a score. His size and blazing speed are making Warrick Dunn look older and older. Norwood is the future of this backfield, but he's not too much of a threat to Dunn just yet.

LaMont Jordan, Oak, RB – A bye week and the Cleveland defense were just what Jordan needed to finally get on track. After picking up just 55 yards on 29 carries in his first two games, Jordan spent the off week challenging his teammates to step it up, then he backed up his words with 20 carries for 128 yards and a TD on Sunday.

Mark Brunell, Was, QB – Brunell was written off for dead in fantasy after a fruitless first two games, but he's averaged 294 passing yards and has thrown four TD passes with only one interception in his two most recent performances – 329 passing yards and 3 TDs on Sunday.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac, RB – Jones-Drew's work as a receiver out of the backfield has netted him seven catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in the past two weeks. He's forcing Jacksonville to expand his role.

Keenan McCardell, SD, WR – Although he played, a sore hamstring contributed to McCardell's 104-game reception streak coming to an end in Week 4. He has just six catches for 76 yards through three games.

Mark Clayton, Bal, WR – A popular sleeper on draft day, Clayton has yet to score in four games, and finished with less than 40 receiving yards for the third time this season on Sunday. He's also combined for -17 rushing yards on three carries.

Chris Henry, Cin, WR – Henry was inactive Sunday stemming from his involvement in teammate Odell Thurman's arrest this past week and subsequent NFL suspension. This guy has so much talent, but he's representing that he has nothing but rocks between his ears.