Big Rotowski: Week 7 Ranks

Christopher Harris
Yahoo! Sports

That was kind of funny.

According to my friend Jeremy, none other than Charles Barkley got on Monday Night Football this week and told the gang that, even though he's an Arizona Cardinals fan, and even though the Cardinals were up 20-0, the game wasn't over. (I wouldn't know this, because I TiVo the Monday night game, so I don't have to listen to Joe Theismann.) But according to Jeremy, Tony Kornheiser wouldn't hear of it. There was no way, said Tony K. Arizona was doing just what they should. Keep feeding it to Edgerrin James. Keep pumping in field goals, or dropping punts from the sky. There are only so many possessions left for Chicago to come back. This baby's over.

Oops.

Did you ever get the feeling you were watching a car crash in slow motion? Like, it was the most unexpected thing ever, except it wasn't unexpected at all. These are the Cardinals. They're young and dumb. Quarterback Matt Leinart was good and then he wasn't. The offensive line was good and then it wasn't. James was adequate and then he wasn't. Watching Mike Brown's defensive touchdown, then Charles Tillman's defensive touchdown, then Devin Hester's punt-return touchdown … well, it had that feeling of inevitability about it. Like sitting down to a Nicholas Cage movie and knowing that at some point, you're going to get a really, really, really uncomfortably close shot of his teeth.

Hey, Leinart looked fine. And Rex Grossman looked terrible. But in the end, Tony K. (I'm told) had to eat his words. In Joey Sunshine's MNF booth, no cliché goes un-pummeled, no metaphor goes unmixed, no fact goes unmistaken. And in Arizona, no lead is safe.

On to the Week 7 rankings. Remember: Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans, Baltimore, San Francisco and Tennessee are off this week. As always, you can check back Friday for updates in my weekly rankings, as well as ratings from the other Yahoo! Sports Fantasy experts.

Quarterbacks

Rank

Name

Opponent

Week 6 Rating

1

Peyton Manning

WAS

bye

2

Donovan McNabb

@ TB

1

3

Byron Leftwich

@ HOU

bye

4

Michael Vick

PIT

3

5

Eli Manning

@ DAL

7

6

Tom Brady

@ BUF

bye

7

Matt Hasselbeck

MIN

6

8

Carson Palmer

CAR

2

9

Drew Bledsoe

NYG

4

10

Chad Pennington

DET

12

11

Jon Kitna

@ NYJ

11

12

Brett Favre

@ MIA

bye

13

Jake Delhomme

@ CIN

18

14

Philip Rivers

@ KC

10

15

Mark Brunell

@ IND

14

16

David Carr

JAC

9

17

Joey Harrington

GB

19

18

Brad Johnson

@ SEA

bye

19

J.P. Losman

NE

15

20

Bruce Gradkowski

PHI

23

21

Jake Plummer

@ CLE

16

22

Charlie Frye

DEN

bye

23

Matt Leinart

@ OAK

25

24

Damon Huard

SD

17

25

Ben Roethlisberger

@ ATL

24

26

Andrew Walter

ARI

26

Notes: McNabb has certainly had a better year than Peyton Manning to date, but as they say, past performance does not guarantee future returns. The Redskins’ defense has been mighty hospitable to the past few offenses it's faced, and with CB Shaun Springs just getting back from one injury and Carlos Rogers suffering a new one, I can see Indy scoring some serious points … Leftwich is the fifth-highest-scoring fantasy QB, and faces the second-most-generous defense (Houston) against QBs … I got a few anti-Vick emails this week, asking me why I continue to "hype" a guy who can't throw straight. As I keep saying, rushing yards and TDs are a great deodorant. You'll get no argument from me: he's not a winning NFL quarterback. But the guy is 13th in the league in rush yards per game (more than 80), and leads the league in yards per carry, at 8.7 … Brady probably hasn't been a top-10 fantasy QB so far this year, but the Bills have lost some secondary depth, and Terrence McGee is in the process of being exposed as a kick returner in cornerback's clothing. The Bears and Lions have had huge days via the air against Buffalo over the past two games … Warning signs are up for the Bengals' offense, and I have to admit I contemplated putting Palmer even lower than this, but his receivers are just too good. However, offensive tackle Levi Jones is out for multiple weeks and C Rich Braham is gone, meaning the Cincy O-line should struggle. RB Rudi Johnson has topped 100 yards just once this year, and WR Chad Johnson hasn't scored since getting lit up by Cleveland’s Brian Russell in Week 2. Carolina comes to town with a red-hot defense, having won four straight … Favre is nearing the end of his NFL career, but not the end of his fantasy usefulness, not, at least, when he's got good matchups. Miami is hurt in its secondary: starting CB Travis Daniels is still out, backup CB Andre' Goodman is doubtful with a bad shoulder, another backup CB Michael Lehan left the Jets game with a bad hamstring, and starting SS Traveres Tillman is reportedly about to lose his job. The Packers' air game should be alive and well this week … You have to love the Panthers' commitment to long passes. Delhomme took 10 shots of 15 yards or more against a pretty stout Baltimore secondary, connecting on five of them for 179 yards and two long scores. Tampa Bay tested the Bengals deep and had some success last week; you can expect Carolina to do the same … Carr was really disappointing against Dallas. He was OK for a half, but as the game got tense in the third quarter, he made horrible decisions. He also is too fixated on Andre Johnson, leading me to believe perhaps Carr reads this column … Gradkowski is no mere caretaker; like Delhomme, he took 10 shots of 15 yards or more last week. He was pretty erratic, actually, and made several misreads, but he's a tough kid. You could do worse for a bye-week replacement.

Running Backs

Rank

Name

Opponent

Week 6 Rating

1

Clinton Portis

@ IND

1

2

LaDainian Tomlinson

@ KC

2

3

Brian Westbrook

@ TB

3

4

Ronnie Brown

GB

10

5

Larry Johnson

SD

7

6

Kevin Jones

@ NYJ

16

7

Edgerrin James

@ OAK

20

8

Willie Parker

@ ATL

13

9

Fred Taylor

@ HOU

bye

10

Tiki Barber

@ DAL

6

11

Carnell Williams

PHI

8

12

Rudi Johnson

CAR

4

13

Tatum Bell

@ CLE

14

14

Julius Jones

NYG

5

15

Willis McGahee

NE

15

16

Chester Taylor

@ SEA

bye

17

Laurence Maroney

@ BUF

bye

18

Warrick Dunn

PIT

9

19

Dominic Rhodes

WAS

bye

20

Corey Dillon

@ BUF

bye

21

DeShaun Foster

@ CIN

24

22

LaMont Jordan

ARI

19

23

Reuben Droughns

DEN

bye

24

Joseph Addai

WAS

bye

25

Maurice Jones-Drew

@ HOU

bye

26

Ahman Green

@ MIA

bye

27

Marion Barber

NYG

28

28

Kevan Barlow

DET

32

29

Maurice Morris

MIN

22

30

Wali Lundy

JAC

NR

31

Leon Washington

DET

27

32

Michael Turner

@ KC

25

33

Brandon Jacobs

@ DAL

31

34

Najeh Davenport

@ ATL

NR

35

Noah Herron

@ MIA

bye

36

Jerious Norwood

PIT

34

37

Ladell Betts

@ IND

37

38

Mack Strong

MIN

35

39

Mike Bell

@ CLE

NR

40

Kevin Faulk

@ BUF

NR

Notes: Granted, the Steelers ran wild on the Chiefs last week, but on the whole, I still like Kansas City's pretty bad rush defense a teensy bit more than Indy's, which is why I put Portis just above Tomlinson … Last week, Westbrook got more carries (16) and fewer receptions (three) than we expect from him. His day in New Orleans was nothing spectacular, but nothing awful. You can't expect him to break a long one every game … Kevin Jones suffered a hip pointer last week, but should be fine to play, and the news that his primary backup, Shawn Bryson, is out for the year, means KJ may be on the field more at the goal line. However, that may not be the best news as he regularly gets stuffed down there. Still, the Jets are the third-easiest defense for fantasy RBs to score on … On Monday night, James carried it an obscene 36 times for 55 yards, the lowest yards-per-carry average of a back who got 30+ touches in the history of the NFL. Yes, the offensive line is terrible, and yes the Bears are great against the run. However, his late-game fumble was a killer; Edge needs to complain less if he's going to cough it up like that. Still, Oakland is dreadful against the rush … Speaking of good matchups, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew should be started in most formats, going against the battered Texans' defense. With DT Seth Payne out for the year, we're down to DE Mario Williams and a group of strangers in the middle … Cadillac has turned in consecutive 100-plus total yard games since the Bucs' bye, including 104 on 22 touches against the "Bingles" last week. He'll find the sledding tougher against Philly, but he'll get every chance to keep his owners happy … Dunn finally got in the end zone last week on a 90-yard TD, the longest in Atlanta history, but outside that one run, he turned 13 carries into 56 yards. Pittsburgh was able to overcome Joey Porter's absence last week, and has no weakness stopping rushers … Marion Barber may actually get more touches this week, which isn't good news for Julius Jones owners. Barber has scored in each of Dallas's last four games, while Jones is stuck at two for the year. Still, Jones is running very well, and you'd have to expect that the split will still be at least 70-30 in his favor … Leon Washington was better than Barlow last week (13 more yards in two fewer carries), but the reins won't be passed to the rookie yet. Despite its injuries up front, the Lions haven't had too much difficulty against the rush, so no Jets RB would appear particularly useful this week, unless you're in a bye-week pickle … As of today, it sounds as though Lundy's going to get another chance to win the starting job against a healing Jags' D. Gary Kubiak sounds like he's about done with Ron Dayne, and may spin the wheel back Lundy's way, though Samkon Gado can steal some touches … Ahman Green is reportedly healthy, and so has his job back from Herron. If it stays that way, Vernand Morency probably becomes the third-down guy, and Herron hits the bench. But if Green misses time, expect Green Bay to go back to Herron as the starter.

Wide Receivers

Rank

Name

Opponent

Week 6 Rating

1

Steve Smith

@ CIN

6

2

Marvin Harrison

WAS

bye

3

Roy Williams

@ NYJ

11

4

Darrell Jackson

MIN

2

5

Terrell Owens

NYG

4

6

Andre Johnson

JAC

7

7

T.J. Houshmandzadeh

CAR

8

8

Laveranues Coles

DET

15

9

Anquan Boldin

@ OAK

12

10

Chad Johnson

CAR

5

11

Santana Moss

@ IND

3

12

Plaxico Burress

@ DAL

10

13

Reggie Williams

@ HOU

bye

14

Reggie Wayne

WAS

bye

15

Chris Chambers

GB

14

16

Randy Moss

ARI

28

17

Terry Glenn

NYG

9

18

Javon Walker

@ CLE

16

19

Lee Evans

NE

23

20

Greg Jennings

@ MIA

bye

21

Deion Branch

MIN

17

22

Reggie Brown

@ TB

22

23

Joey Galloway

PHI

26

24

Amani Toomer

@ DAL

18

25

Hines Ward

@ ATL

24

26

Donald Driver

@ MIA

bye

27

Jerricho Cotchery

DET

19

28

Keyshawn Johnson

@ CIN

30

29

Matt Jones

@ HOU

bye

30

Doug Gabriel

@ BUF

bye

31

Travis Taylor

@ SEA

NR

32

Eric Moulds

JAC

27

33

Bryant Johnson

@ OAK

32

34

Mike Furrey

@ NYJ

36

35

Braylon Edwards

DEN

bye

36

Wes Welker

GB

38

37

Troy Williamson

@ SEA

bye

38

Rod Smith

@ CLE

33

39

Michael Clayton

PHI

47

40

Eddie Kennison

SD

29

41

Ernest Wilford

@ HOU

bye

42

Derek Hagan

GB

42

43

Keenan McCardell

@ KC

37

44

Michael Jenkins

PIT

40

45

Hank Baskett

@ TB

43

46

Troy Brown

@ BUF

bye

47

Nate Burleson

MIN

31

48

Eric Parker

@ KC

45

49

Marcus Robinson

@ SEA

bye

50

Nate Washington

@ ATL

NR

Notes: Week 6 was huge for a lot of big-name receivers: Torry Holt, Coles, Owens, Steve Smith, Roy Williams, Boldin, Darrell Jackson, Houshmandzadeh and Chambers all scored in double-digits in just about every format. All but Holt have return engagements this weekend … Smith may not have all of his "burst," but that's all the main reason he's my co-MVP (with McNabb) through six weeks. The Panthers were dead without him in Weeks 1 and 2, and now have won four straight with him. He's "only" scored twice in his four games, but he's averaging more than 100 yards receiving per game, and he still seems to be able to beat just about any safety/corner combo in the league … Roy Williams leads the NFL in receiving yards (Smith is sixth in two fewer games), and was unstoppable against Buffalo last week. Why the Bills insisted on using Terrence McGee on Williams is another matter entirely (perhaps Nate Clements's quad was still sore), but things should also go well for Johnson in New York this week … Andre Johnson was targeted 16 times last week; Williams was targeted 17 times; and Boldin received a ridiculous 19 targets … This is the first week I've got Houshmandzadeh above Chad Johnson. Do I think Housh is the better receiver? I'm not sure. But I am sure that defenses are paying more attention to 7/11 than they are to Housh, and that spells more looks for Housh (14-to-11 last week), and more quality targets, as well. I'd expect to see DBs Chris Gamble and Mike Minter on Johnson this weekend, and a lot of Housh running against Ken Lucas. I like those odds … How does Santana Moss get targeted three times in Week 5, and then 16 times in Week 6? I'll tell you how: someone informed Mark Brunell where his particular bread is buttered … Reggie Williams climbs ever higher. His lofty status this week has a lot to do with the Texans, but really, he's caught three fewer passes than Wilford and Matt Jones put together. What more evidence do we need that he's The Guy? … Chambers should have a great matchup against Green Bay this week, and the TD against the Jets was swell. Still, one wonders how happy Chambers is getting seven passes thrown his way by Joey Harrington, while Hagan and Welker got 11 and 10, respectively. Perhaps the fact that Harrington worked with the second team all through camp has something to do with this? … Randy Moss is back from purgatory; he actually seemed moderately interested in the Broncos game last week, to the tune of five catches for 86 yards. Still, he's got those alligator arms in the middle of the field … I'll like Jennings more than Driver until I see Driver run routes at full speed, with less concern for his damaged ribs. Driver is one tough dude, and I suspect that many players wouldn't be suiting up with the injury he's had this year, but against St. Louis two weeks ago, he was little more than a short-route receiver (six targets, three catches, 24 yards), while Jennings ran downfield (10 targets, five catches, 105 yards). If it seems like Driver is healthy, these guys will flip-flop … I've got Matt Jones on this list as though he'll play, but if he doesn't practice, expect a big bump-down on Friday … Who's No. 1 in Minnesota? Your guess is as good as mine. Travis Taylor has eight targets in each of his last three games, while Williamson got nine, nine and then four in Week 5. A changing of the guard would be significant, as Seattle is beatable via the air.

Tight Ends

Notes: The only more cursed owners than Shockey's are Tiki Barber's, which explains why Shockey got two goal-line scores while Tiki remains TD-free for '06 … Winslow is expected to play despite the passing of his brother last week … We have a Chris Cooley sighting! While Cooley did have a couple bad drops early in the year, I don't think his to-this-point-lame fantasy season is terminal. He's still getting looks in the 'Skins offense (between four and eight targets every week this year), and these things run in cycles. I still think he'll end the season with about five scores … There are several beneficiaries of the switch from Daunte Culpepper to Joey Harrington, and McMichael is one of them. McMike has had 21 passes thrown his way in the last two weeks under Harrington, as opposed to 17 in the four games prior. He hasn't scored yet, but has 14 catches under Harrington compared to 10 (in twice as many games) under Culpepper … In retrospect, I knew I had Alex Smith (the tight end, not the quarterback) too low last week; Cincinnati gives up a lot of points to tight ends, but I was mad at the kid from Stanford for winning the Madden 2006 NFL players tournament. I was rooting for Mark Clayton in the finals. OK, none of that's true (though Smith did beat Clayton in Madden Bowl '06). I hope I've remedied the mistake this week. Philly isn't as susceptible to tight ends, though … While everyone has complained about Cooley, Witten has been one of the most disappointing players in fantasy. In non-PPR leagues, he's the 27th-highest-scoring guy at his fantasy position, with an average of three catches for 33 yards per week, and no scores … Stevens was rumored to be ready to play last week, but told Mike Holmgren his knee was "feeling a little odd." I've got him listed here as ready to go, but be sure before you start him (and before you berate me with emails about him).

Kickers

Notes: Man, am I a sucker, or what? I've got Vinatieri No 1. again? What a dope. Here's hoping the bye healed his balky crotch … The two best fantasy kickers so far this year, Robbie Gould and Jeff Wilkins, are off this week, so there'll probably be some owners looking for fill-ins. (John Carney and Matt Stover would easily be on a list of top-10 kickers, too.) I'm trying not to over-think the whole kicker thing. Go with guys in good-weather situations or domes, and guys whose offenses can move the ball. Other than that, it's random … Vanderhoozit is two-for-two from beyond the 40, and benefits whenever Drew Bledsoe decides to spaz out in the red zone. That's good enough for me. Plus, if Terrell Owens is a sure thing to showboat on Monday night, isn't Vanderhoozit, too? … Josh Brown was a full-grown man last week. "Hey, Josh, do us a favor, willya? Go out there and kick a 49-yarder to win the game? Oops. Wait. No, let's make it a 54-yarder." Brown is only eight-for-12 on the season, but he made three from beyond the 40 last Sunday.

Defenses

Notes: The top two fantasy defenses, Chicago and Baltimore, are off this week, and some of the other good defenses (Carolina, Dallas) have match-ups against potentially scary offenses. I found it easier to compile the middle of this list than the top … The Steelers overcame the loss of Joey Porter for one week, though they take a step up in class against the Atlanta running game this week. The truth is, though, that stopping the run is one thing Pittsburgh can do, and for that reason, I think they match up well against the Falcons … I've relented a bit on the Denver D. Yes, the Broncos have won the last two weeks by twin 13-3 scores. Yes, they're setting records galore for fewest TDs allowed. But they've still only got four interceptions (three of which came in one game), have only forced four fumbles, and only have 10 sacks, tied for 25th in the league. Plus, the Denver offense is struggling, which puts a ton of pressure on the defense. Still, the unit has a solid matchup in Cleveland, and has only allowed one single TD all year. That's pretty good … Trouble in D.C., and it's nothing to do with Republicans. The Redskins defense has created only eight turnovers (tied for 25th) and 11 sacks (tied for 21st), and is giving up the ninth-most points in the league (22.5 per game). And they travel to Indy this week. Ruh-roh.

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