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The Skinny: Griese, Warner and more

Matt Romig
Yahoo Sports
POSITION HOT SEAT
CHICAGO BEARS (QB) HOT
1st Chair: Craig Krenzel
2nd Chair: Jonathan Quinn
Skinny: Krenzel didn't turn the ball over Sunday and was efficient in handing the ball off to Anthony Thomas. Despite completing only 46 percent of his passes as a starter, Krenzel is unbeaten as a professional. Chicago hasn't asked him to do much yet, so we're not sure what he's capable of. He'll keep this job barring a dramatic rookie collapse.
NEW YORK GIANTS (QB) HOT
1st Chair: Kurt Warner
2nd Chair: Eli Manning
Skinny: The New York Daily News reported Monday that coach Tom Coughlin considered benching Warner during Sunday's loss to Chicago. Warner threw two interceptions and was sacked seven times by a relentless Bears pass rush. Warner has already been named the Week 10 starter, but the mere fact that it needed to be mentioned is noteworthy. Warner is on pace for 66 sacks this season.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (QB) HOT
1st Chair: Jay Fiedler
2nd Chair: A.J. Feeley
Skinny: Fiedler didn't finish a game he started for the third time this season. This time it was a neck/shoulder stinger that sidelined him. Feeley replaced him against Arizona and promptly had an interception returned for a touchdown. If you're keeping score: that's two touchdowns to his own receivers and three to the opposition. Fiedler should be back behind center following a bye week but things could change dramatically in Miami should a coaching change occur in the interim.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (RB) HOT
1st Chair: Sammy Morris
2nd Chair: Travis Minor
Skinny: Minor had a season-high 11 carries for 90 yards in Sunday's loss against Arizona. The two backs split carries almost evenly in the first half, but Morris held a 9-5 advantage in crunch-time carries and scored a touchdown. Miami racked up 168 yards on the ground against the Cardinals, so Coach Dave Wannstedt will likely continue giving both backs 10-plus tries. If he's replaced before Week 11 as rumored, only time will tell how his replacement will budget the carries.
DALLAS COWBOYS (QB) WARM
1st Chair: Vinny Testaverde
2nd Chair: Drew Henson
Skinny: It didn't contain the phrase "diddly-poo," but Bill Parcells' post-game press conference Sunday was one of the most negative in recent memory. He didn't spare anyone, including his Dallas coaching staff. Sure to take his share of the heat is Testaverde, who has turned the ball over seven times in the last two weeks. With the playoffs nearly out of reach, Dallas area columnists are already calling for the debut of Henson, the team's quarterback of the future. Look for that to happen if Vinny doesn't right the ship by Week 11.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (RB) WARM
1st Chair: Tyrone Wheatley
2nd Chair: Amos Zereoue
Skinny: Wheatley started Sunday and scored two touchdowns in Oakland's 27-24 win at Carolina. Neither team ran the ball effectively. Carolina averaged 2.1 yards per carry while Oakland managed 2.5. Yardage-wise you got what you should expect each week from Wheatley: 50-70 yards on 15-20 carries. With three touchdowns in the past two weeks, he may well make a run at his career-high total of nine touchdowns. Zereoue has just six total yards on his last 13 carries.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (RB) WARM
1st Chair: Emmitt Smith
2nd Chair: Troy Hambrick
Skinny: Smith scored his sixth touchdown of the season Sunday despite averaging fewer than 3.0 yards per carry for the second consecutive week. Hambrick gained 62 yards on his first carry but would rush the ball only three more times and not at all after halftime. As long as Smith stays healthy and the team remains competitive, don't expect an expanded role for Hambrick.
BUFFALO BILLS (RB) LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Willis McGahee
2nd Chair: Travis Henry
Skinny: Right now your only concern with McGahee is his durability. He's carried the ball 67 times in the past two weeks. Prior to being named "co-starter" in Week 8, he had 61 career carries. And the yards haven't come without a price. He's averaged a hard-earned 3.7 yards per rush this season. Henry is unplayable at this point but a high-risk cut when you consider McGahee's injury history.
Sunday marked Week 3 of fantasy football PhD. No, The Skinny isn't taking graduate courses in rotisserie sports. In this case, PhD is short for "post high-def." As in: it's been three weeks since my brother's high-def big screen shorted out. His record at the time was 5-1. This week's loss will drop him to 5-4. Coincidence? Probably, but even fantasy owners know you don't mess with a winning streak. Same chair, same TV, same lucky shirt – it's that simple. Personally, I'm hoping for a quick repair job. The bar tabs are cheaper at his place. What – you thought I cared about how his team fares? On to Week 9:

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

  • Five weeks ago, Buffalo was a fantasy wasteland. The team was 0-4, Drew Bledsoe had been sacked 18 times and their most valuable fantasy commodity, Travis Henry, had yet to score a touchdown. Does anyone recognize this team now? Was a yet-to-be-aired episode of "Pimp My Ride" featuring the Buffalo offense taped after Week 5? You must admit – even Xzibit and the West Coast Customs crew would be impressed by this transformation. Bledsoe hasn't been sacked in two weeks, Willis McGahee has added a few horsepower to the running game and Eric Moulds (targeted 10 times Sunday) remains his old reliable self.

But the newly modified accessory with the most fantasy relevance is Lee Evans. With three receptions of more than 45 yards this season, Evans was already on the radar as a big-play threat. Sunday he showed he can be converted into a possession receiver on the fly. He caught a four-yard touchdown pass that put the Bills up for good and also hauled in a 27-yarder on Buffalo's final drive that allowed them to kill the clock. He was targeted seven times on the day (six in the second half) and finished with five catches for 64 yards. He's probably available in your league and makes a decent speculative add as Buffalo is desperate to find a reliable No. 2 option opposite Moulds.

  • Tired of promos for "My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss?" Well, now you know what it feels like to share cube space with The Skinny, who spent the good part of last week telling anyone who would listen that Brian Griese was in for a huge second half. Sorry friends: Griese's 296-yard, two-touchdown performance Sunday only added fuel to the fire. Let's not forget that Jon Gruden already turned one journeyman quarterback into a league MVP. Griese and Rich Gannon are very different quarterbacks, but the parallels between Griese in 2004 and Gannon in 2002 are striking.

In 2002 Gannon leaned heavily on Charlie Garner, a role being played in Tampa this year by Michael Pittman, who has 322 total yards and four touchdowns in the past two weeks. Jerry Porter emerged for Oakland in 2002 much as Michael Clayton has exploded onto the scene for the Bucs. He has at least 80 yards or a touchdown in four of his last five games. Tim Brown, of course, was present for both resurrections. If you're at all worried about your starting quarterback's matchups in the playoff weeks, sign Griese now if only to own him for his Week 15 feast against New Orleans.

  • Coach Tom Coughlin admits he almost made the move. After Kurt Warner threw two interceptions and killed two more drives with fumbles, Coughlin considered benching Warner in favor of rookie Eli Manning. It would have been Manning's first game action since Week 1. Warner turned the ball over only twice in the season's first five weeks. The team was 4-1 at the time, and there was little public pressure to play Manning. Since then, Warner has fumbled eight times, thrown three interceptions and been sacked 18 times. New York has lost two of three.

Fantasy owners wouldn't mind a change to Manning. Warner's real-life success hasn't translated into fantasy. Minimizing mistakes doesn't light up the StatTracker, and that's what Warner has been good at – at least until Week 7. Coughlin has already named Warner as his Week 10 starter, but his leash is as short as it's been all year. Another group that wouldn't mind a change: New York wide receivers. Through Week 9 they have accounted for one touchdown.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • David Garrard, QB, JAX
    Byron Leftwich will miss at least one start and probably several. The timing of his injury before a bye week works to the advantage of Garrard, who gets a full week of reps and then some with the starting offense in advance of next week's game against Detroit. We don't know much about what this kid is capable of – but we know he's confident and athletic. In his first NFL game back in 2002 he rushed for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Last year he appeared in one game and completed 9-of-12 passes with one touchdown.
  • Jesse Chatman, RB, SD
    Curiously, Chatman is available in well above half of Yahoo! leagues. That means at least 60 percent of LaDainian Tomlinson owners are passing on a valuable insurance policy that is just a mouse click away. Chatman led San Diego in rushing Sunday and is now averaging a ridiculous 7.2 yards per carry. Sure, Tomlinson has a bye week to rest his injured groin, but right now you can't afford not to back him up with Chatman.
  • Shaun McDonald, WR, STL
    With Dane Looker nursing a bum knee, McDonald has excelled as St. Louis' No. 3 wideout. He was targeted a modest five times in Week 9 and finished with 3 receptions for 33 yards in the loss to New England. Despite the dip in production Sunday, he still has three touchdowns in his last five games. he also handles punts for the Rams which adds additional value in leagues that credit return yards.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Santana Moss, WR, NYJ – In an effort to awaken Moss from his season-long slumber, the Jets tried something drastic Sunday. They threw to him. Moss was targeted a season-high nine times and he responded with six catches for 157 yards and a score. Justin McCareins also scored Sunday, proving these two can co-exist on fantasy rosters.
Ken Dilger, TE, TB – Dilger scored for the second time in his last three games Sunday and was quarterback Brian Griese's second-favorite target (thrown to seven times) after Michael Clayton.
Johnnie Morton, WR, KC – Morton caught six passes for 69 yards and a touchdown Sunday. After going 13 games without a touchdown, Morton now has at least 100 yards or a score in three of his last four games.
Jerome Bettis, RB, PIT – Bettis' longest run from scrimmage Sunday, a graceful 24-yard scamper, came on his 30th carry. Are there any original "Bus has something left in the tank" jokes out there?
Josh McCown, QB, ARI – After back-to-back road tests against tough pass defenses, McCown gets to stay home in four of the next six weeks. Chemistry with Larry Fitzgerald has survived Anquan Boldin's return.
Boo Williams, TE, NO – In last week's Fantasy Forum, Yahoo!'s own Mike Harmon tagged Williams as the tight end to watch in the second half. Sunday he was targeted eight times by a struggling Aaron Brooks. The two hooked up five times for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Drew Brees, QB, SD – In five home games, Brees has thrown 15 touchdowns against only two interceptions. Next week's road foe, Oakland, has allowed a league-high 19 touchdowns through the air.
Kevan Barlow, RB, SF – Scored his fourth touchdown of the season Sunday, but managed just 27 yards on his last 12 carries. Why the upgrade? Next week San Francisco faces a Carolina team that has allowed a league-worst 13 rushing touchdowns.
Jabar Gaffney, WR, HOU – Gaffney extended his streak of games with at least five catches and 80 yards to three on Sunday. Next up: a fantasy-friendly matchup against Indianapolis.

Travis Henry, RB, BUF – Henry was limited to four touches Sunday. If this is what being a "co-starter" is like, how would a full-blown demotion take shape? A trade to the Montreal Alouettes, perhaps?
Larry Johnson, RB, KC – Showed some versatility by catching four balls for 38 yards, but could muster only 21 yards on 10 carries given nearly a full half to showcase his talents.
Marty Booker, WR, MIA – Enjoyed a mild breakthrough Sunday with four catches for 91 yards, but left with a high ankle sprain that may sideline him for two-to-six weeks.
Kevin Jones, RB, DET – As a team, Detroit is averaging a league-low 3.2 yards per carry. Jones didn't help that average when he picked up just 20 yards on 12 carries Sunday.
Donte' Stallworth, WR, NO – Stallworth did not start Sunday and didn't catch a pass in a blowout loss at San Diego. This is particularly disconcerting when you consider that the Saints had plenty of chances to use three-receiver sets after trailing 20-7 at half and 36-7 in the third quarter.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Eyebrow-raising numbers
7.5 Average number of second-half pass attempts for Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh's last four wins. The Steelers have thrown 7, 6, 13 and 4 times after the break in those games. Imagine the type of fantasy numbers Big Ben could put if Pittsburgh was involved in weekly shootouts.

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