Every Friday during the NFL season, we'll review the Yahoo! weekly position ranks. If an expert breaks from the herd on a particular player, they'll be asked to show their work. We'll focus on names near the start/sit line in public leagues. Let's play the feud…
On paper, the talent level and effectiveness of Tampa’s defense is not exactly impressive. Gone is Cover 2 architect Monte Kiffin. In is Jim Bates, who has installed an aggressive, run-blitz crazed 4-3 base to confuse and disrupt opponents. Rambo performed marginally in preseason play, at times struggling to establish chemistry. If Romo doesn’t establish a rhythm early, he’s prime plank-walking material, which is why he was slotted at No. 17.
Historically, the Bucs have been a defensive menace at the Ray, especially against the pass. Last season, they yielded just three multi-TD passers in eight home contests. Romo has plenty of reliable weapons (Jason Witten(notes), Marion Barber(notes) and Felix Jones(notes)), but the 12th man combined with the element of the unknown surrounding Tampa’s new scheme tip the scales against the hot blonde squeezer. (Noise)
It's not as if we're giving a ringing endorsement when we rank a player 20th at his position, but my colleagues have really buried McFadden. No, the Raiders haven't defeated San Diego since the Charlie Garner Era. And yes, the Chargers are overwhelmingly likely to win on Monday night – it could get ugly in a hurry, too.
But there's simply no way the Raiders will fail to give McFadden 20 touches in the opener, not after officially naming him the starting running back, and not with Justin Fargas(notes) hurting. McFadden is the
only most explosive weapon in the offense and his versatility makes him a threat at all times, in any situation. When the Raiders abandon the run, he'll still remain useful. We caught a glimpse of his potential as a receiver in the second half of '08, even though McFadden was playing hurt: 3 REC for 50 yards in Week 13, 3 for 68 in Week 15, 5 for 41 in Week 16. (AB)
It's not that I'm dead-set against America's Sleeper, Ray Rice. I realize he's in a good spot as a featured back on a run-first team. I realize Kansas City couldn't stop anyone's running game last year. But I'd like to see a little production first before I totally jump in with both feet.
Did Rice do anything in the preseason that left us all gushing? I see 3.6 yards per carry with a long run of 7 yards. He did have one nifty TD run against the Jets in a prime-time game, but keep in mind Rice never saw the end zone last year as a rookie and Willis McGahee(notes) got most of the goal-line assignments last month. Rice is well-spotted to be a yardage grabber in 2009 and we all know he's handy in the passing game, but it's risky business when it comes to predicting how many times he'll score.
And while we don't want to overreact to preseason results, maybe the Chiefs have fixed some of their run-stopping problems; KC parceled out a mere 3.1 YPC in the practice games, best in the league. Add it all up and I'm content to give Rice somewhere around 100 total yards in the opener, but his scoring chances have to be less than 50-50. If he proves me wrong, I'll make it up to him in Week 2. (Pianow)
Considering that he was often going undrafted, Nate Burleson hasn’t received nearly the love he should have in preseason drafts. He’s just a season lost by an ACL injury removed from a 700-yard, 9 TD season in ’07. And his story this summer has been all about how the ACL injury looks like it never happened. Burleson has a good relationship with QB Matt Hasselbeck(notes) and his speed on the outside is a perfect complement to WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s(notes) across-the-middle savvy. On Sunday, Burleson faces a Rams squad, hurting along the defensive line right now, that allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to WRs in ’08. With WR Deion Branch(notes) likely to sit this one out because of a hamstring injury, Burleson should see plenty of opportunities. I think he’ll find the end zone in addition to picking up 50-70 receiving yards. (Funston)
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