Fantasy Football This Week

Mike Harmon
Yahoo! Sports

We're only two weeks into the NFL season, but waiver wire activity across all of Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football is already at a fever pitch. I guess if an NFL franchise can fire an offensive coordinator after two weeks, fantasy owners should be tinkering with their blueprint for bringing home the title.

Let's take a look at what's on tap in Fantasy Football This Week .


  • The San Francisco 49ers lost their leading receiver from 2004 without him ever seeing a down of action this year. Eric Johnson was officially placed on IR on Thursday, ending the speculation of when his injured foot would be ready for action. His loss opens the door for a three-way TE rotation in San Francisco, with Steve Bush, Billy Bajema and recent acquisition via waivers Trent Smith in the mix.

  • Michael Vick returned to practice on Thursday, showing quick recovery from a hamstring injury that forced an early departure from last Sunday's game against the Seahawks. Vick has been upgraded to probable for this week's action against Buffalo, but with his ability to scramble hindered, fantasy owners would be wise to look elsewhere.

  • Jets fans and Curtis Martin owners are breathing a quick sigh of relief. Martin has been upgraded to probable for Sunday's tilt with the Jaguars, but don't be surprised if Derrick Blaylock cuts in on his action.

  • Duce Staley went through another full practice as he works his way back from arthroscopic surgery. Willie Parker joins Carnell Williams as the only two backs to register back-to-back 100-yard games to start the season, and Bill Cowher is adamant that Parker is his every-down guy, even if Staley is ready to go.

  • Chris Brown returned to practice Wednesday after missing the second half of Sunday's tilt with a concussion. Brown will be ready to suit up on Sunday barring any setbacks, but the dual backfield with Travis Henry certainly cuts into his value.

  • Byron Leftwich sustained a groin injury when he was bent back awkwardly against the Colts on Sunday. He returned to practice on Thursday and vowed to be in the lineup against the Jets this weekend. The fact that he has been sacked nine times already is disconcerting, and the Jets will bring the heat. I would look in another direction for this week's contest.

  • Rookie sensation Carnell "Cadillac" Williams missed practice Wednesday with his injured foot, but he plans to be ready for the Packers on Sunday. He battled through pain in the second half last week en route to a big performance.

  • The Vikings have a highly important matchup against the Saints this week, and will play it without their No. 1 receiver. Nate Burleson has a sprained posterior cruciate ligament, and may be forced to the shelf for an extended period. Owners should be exploring other receiving options for this week.

  • Bubba Franks has compiled an impressive games played streak (88) since entering the NFL. He's listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay with a bruised left knee. He hasn't practiced this week, and Mike Sherman has openly stated that he does not want to risk losing Franks for an extended period and will be cautious with him. The Packers are still reeling from the loss of Javon Walker in the opener, and will not risk losing Favre's red zone favorite.

  • Tatum Bell shows up on the injury chart this week as questionable with his sprained ankle. Mike Anderson remains the top man in Denver, but this injury opens the door for Ron Dayne to pilfer touches. Be wary of this situation, however, as Mike Shanahan has indicated that he will use multiple backs this week.


  • Terry Glenn, WR, Dal: Glenn has certainly been the apple of Drew Bledsoe's eye through Week 2. He's made nine catches for 199 yards and has been targeted by Bledsoe on 17 occasions. Fantasy owners are banking that this connection keeps rolling in a Week 3 matchup against San Francisco. He and Bledsoe rank as two of most highly sought after players on the waiver wire this week.

  • Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG: He's not going to pile up carries between the 20s, but down low, Jacobs is getting it done. The rookie from Southern Illinois has rushed for 44 yards on nine carries, with two all-important touchdowns. His effectiveness in short yardage situations means Jerome Bettis-like TD output if the Giants continue their early season offensive effectiveness. And that means big dividends for owners in TD heavy or larger leagues.

  • Trent Dilfer, QB, Cle: Owners looking for a backup QB have started to turn to the veteran Dilfer. With Reuben Droughns and the running game struggling, Dilfer will continue to launch the ball. He's completed 63 percent of his pass attempts, and has been using multiple receivers, including TE Steve Heiden and rookie Braylon Edwards.

  • Travis Taylor, WR, Min: Taylor has been one of the few positives out of the horror show in Minnesota through the first two weeks. Taylor has caught 10 balls for 113 yards thus far and was thrown to 13 times by Daunte Culpepper in the embarrassing loss to the Bengals. His role in the offense is likely to increase with Nate Burleson expected to miss time.

  • Chris Perry, RB, Cin: Perry remains the backup for Rudi Johnson, but it's starting to look like Perry's consistency and ability to catch the ball in the passing game may make him a part-time RB and full-time wideout. He's caught nine balls for 70 yards through two weeks, and had a long TD catch negated by penalty. At worst, Johnson owners should add him for insurance. Others may acquire a solid play in their Flex position.

  • Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pit: Roethlisberger has been the model of efficiency, tossing for four touchdowns in just 32 attempts. While Bill Cowher remains dedicated to running the ball, he's letting Roethlisberger go deep with some regularity, and the speedy Antwaan Randle El is making defenses pay.

  • Michael Bennett, RB, Min: Is he the starter this week or not? After losing two fumbles in the debacle against Cincinnati, fantasy owners couldn't care less. Bennett has carried the ball just nine times in two games.

  • Lee Evans, WR, Buf: Evans followed up a three-catch, 68-yard performance in Week 1 with a weak two catches for 12 yards against the Buccaneers. That was enough for fantasy owners to kick Evans to the curb, as they expect continued growing pains from first-year starter J.P. Losman.

  • Ronnie Brown, RB, Mia: Brown wishes he'd made the same splash on the NFL that former running mate Carnell Williams has in Tampa Bay. Through two weeks, Brown has carried the ball 34 times for 92 yards (2.9 average). The specter of Ricky Williams' return to the game in Week 5 has owners diving from the bandwagon.

  • Matt Stover, K, BAL: Stover is but one of the many problems with the Ravens attack heading into their Week 3 bye. The offense has been dismal, allowing opponents prime field position and putting the defense at a huge advantage. When they have moved the ball, Stover has failed to convert. He's only 1-for-4 on field goal attempts, and PATs are no sure things. Find Shayne Graham, Rian Lindell or another option on the waiver wire.

  • Charles Rogers, WR, Det: Rogers has been virtually non-existent through the Lions first two outings. He's tallied four catches for 62 yards, but Joey Harrington is certainly fixated on second-year man Roy Williams. Simply being on the field is clearly not enough for fantasy owners. Joey Harrington's miserable outing against Chicago (five interceptions) weighed heavily on owners minds and caused them to jettison him from their rosters as quickly as a Texans offensive coordinator.

  • Jake Delhomme, QB, Car: The Panthers' rededication to Stephen Davis and the power running game have owners soured on QB Jake Delhomme and his passing options. Delhomme has just one TD against three interceptions in the first two weeks after racking up 29 scores a season ago. Keary Colbert is another favorite on the chopping block, as he was held without a catch against the Patriots last Sunday.


Brian Griese, QB, Tam
Griese gets the opportunity to light up a Green Bay secondary that has already surrendered multi-TD games to Joey Harrington and Trent Dilfer. With Cadillac Williams expected to play and move the pile, the defense won't be able to contain Michael Clayton, Joey Galloway and TE Alex Smith. I'm looking for 225 and two scores against the Packers.


Reche Caldwell, WR, SD
Caldwell was a late-round pick in many drafts, with owners expecting Drew Brees to repeat the magic of '04 and for Caldwell to build on the fast start he had before succumbing to a season-ending injury. He caught one ball for nine yards in the opener versus Dallas, and reports have his knee acting up and potentially sidelining him for an extended period.

Carson Palmer, QB, Cin: The expectations for the Heisman Trophy winner were huge coming into 2005, and he's delivered in a big way thus far. Palmer stands second only to Donovan McNabb with five touchdown passes, and leads the NFL with 617 passing yards. He has begun the ascension from the tweener role of starter/bench QB to the game's elite. Palmer and company will face a big test this week when they travel to Chicago to face an amped up, ball-hawking defense.

Thomas Jones, RB, Chi: Jones followed up a dismal Week 1 performance against Washington by rolling to seven yards per carry, 158 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns against the Lions. With Cedric Benson still working to learn the offense (his 16 carries were an effect of the score and Jones running wild), Jones will continue to be the man in Chicago. In Week 3, he and the Bears offense will attempt to top the feeble effort put forth by division rival Minnesota a week ago.

Joe Jurevicius, WR, Sea: Jurevicius may not rack up the receptions and yardage, but it's hard to argue with touchdown receptions in two straight games. This start hearkens back to his 2003 season, when he caught two touchdowns in the season opener, including an athletic, diving grab that nearly cost him the rest of his season. Matt Hasselbeck clearly trusts his hands in the red zone, something he hasn't been able to do with many receivers.

Stephen Davis, RB, Car: Clearly, one of Davis's touchdowns was subject to great media speculation and debate about instant replays near the goal line. Bottom line was an additional six points for the Panthers and for owners who banked on him to shoulder the load against New England. Davis has shown no ill effects from the injury that ended his '04 campaign and tied for fifth among backs with 25 touches in Week 2.

Santana Moss, WR, Was: He didn't haul in many passes, but two bombs late in Monday night's game against Dallas have made him a legend in that series' history and an enemy to Cowboys fans nationwide. Moss finished the game with five catches for 159 yards, barely besting Dallas wideout Terry Glenn for the week's top honors. Concern over the QB tandem of Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey left him undrafted in many leagues, but big plays in prime time made him a popular waiver wire addition this week, even with a Bye week on tap.

Chris Chambers, WR, Mia: On the positive side, Chambers has been thrown to 24 times in two games. Now for the reality check. He's caught eight passes for a mere 61 yards and zero touchdowns. Those aren't exactly No. 1 receiver numbers. After an explosive 2003 season, Chambers has been reduced to a No. 4 fantasy option.

Drew Brees, QB, SD: Last season, Brees posted nearly four touchdowns for every interception. Through two games to start '05, he's tossed two TD passes to Keenan McCardell and has been picked off three times. He's completed only 57 percent of his passes, has a rough schedule ahead, and has an upset superstar in LaDainian Tomlinson. Tomlinson had recorded a catch in every game he played over four seasons ... and has yet to catch one in 2005.

Daunte Culpepper, QB, Min: I would be remiss to assemble any kind of list about negative performances and leave off unquestionably the single-most disappointing fantasy player of the young 2005 campaign. Culpepper has yet to throw a TD pass and has already thrown eight … that's right, eight interceptions. He threw only 11 in 2004, and 11 in the year before that! Clearly the losses of Matt Birk and Randy Moss have a greater impact than imagined, and the running game has been non-existent (if only The Whiz, Onterrio Smith, were still around).

Jamal Lewis, RB, Bal: Coming off of his offseason prison stay, expectations were high for Lewis to rip off to a monster season akin to that of 2003. Ravens fans and fantasy owners are praying that the extra week of practice during the Bye week helps them to find the offensive playbook that's been AWOL for two weeks. His current 2.2 yards per carry average ranks last among every-down backs.

Andre Johnson, WR, Hou: Johnson becomes the poster boy for the train wreck that is the Houston offense right now. David Carr can't finish "one Mississippi" before eating turf, and the line play has rendered Domanick Davis ineffective on the ground. Johnson has seven catches for 38 yards in two contests to begin the season. Look for the new coordinator (the former line coach) to utilize three-step drops and get the ball out of Carr's hands. At least then Johnson will have a chance to make a play, and to again become a fantasy force.


Each week, we'll examine the work of the short yardage and backup running backs that pounce on goal line opportunities:

  • T.J. Duckett, Atl: Warrick Dunn will always do the dirty work between the 20s and leave it for the big man to clean it up. Duckett has rushed 12 times for 33 yards thus far, with two touchdowns. This story will read the same as last year's version.

  • Mike Alstott, Tam: Cadillac Williams' foot injury forced him to the sideline and kept his day from getting huge. Though it's easy to dismiss this as a one-time occurrence due to the injury, Williams owners must be ready for the possibility that Alstott becomes a regular goal line and short yardage thief.

  • Brandon Jacobs, NYG: Jacobs appeared in the "Buzz Index" section above due to the number of owners looking for their own Bettis-type runner for those pesky Bye weeks. Sure, it's a feast or famine proposition, but two touchdowns in the first two games and a 4.9 rushing average warrant at least a bench slot.

  • Ran Carthon, Ind: With the other Indy backups sidelined, the son of former Giants back Maurice Carthon capped a 17-play drive with a six-yard scamper for the game's only TD. It's not expected to be a recurring role at the moment, as the play's timing coincided with Edgerrin James needing a breather during the lengthy drive.

  • Anthony Thomas, Dal: He didn't see any goal line carries in Week 2, but his two carries for zero yards in brief relief of Julius Jones were less than inspiring.

Tight Ends: Surveying the Safety Valves

  • Steve Heiden, Cle: Heiden has been a favorite target of Trent Dilfer's through the first two weeks. He's tallied 14 looks and registered a 100-yard game and a score in Week 2. With the Indianapolis offense expected to awake from a sluggish start to the season, Dilfer and company will be playing catch up against the Colts. And that spells big opportunities for the TE.

  • Randy McMichael, Mia: Say what you will about the rest of the offense; Randy McMichael makes plays. He's caught 14 balls through two games with two touchdown receptions. McMichael has established a rapport with QB Gus Frerotte and will continue to be a focal point of the offense. It would appear that his preseason struggles of dropped passes are fully behind him.

  • Jerramy Stevens, Sea: Itula Mili has been out with a digestive problem and is likely to miss this week's game versus Arizona. Stevens has caught three passes in both of the Seahawks' games, and appears to be on pace to become the impact player everyone expected on draft day in 2002. He has been targeted by Matt Hasselbeck 12 times in two games and is expected to be a big factor in the offense going forward.

  • L.J. Smith, Phi: You have to be excited when you catch nine passes for 119 yards and a score and the coach says he wants to involve you more! Smith has been thrown to 17 times in two games and has already achieved one-third of his reception output for 2004. Facing an inexperienced Raiders defense on Sunday, Smith should put up another big day.

  • Chris Baker, NYJ: Everyone rushed to the waiver wire to replace those second-tier tight ends after Baker tallied seven catches for 124 yards and a score against the Chiefs. They were rewarded for their faith with a single catch for three yards in Week 2. The Jets face a top-tier defense when they host the Jaguars on Sunday.

There are only two players that have tallied back-to-back games with 100 rushing yards to start the season: Willie Parker and Carnell Williams. Similarly, only two players have opened the year with two games of 100 receiving yards. These guys are a bit more high profile: Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. They'll face off this week when the Raiders visit Philadelphia.

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