As I sat at my computer on Wednesday watching countless takes on the Terrell Owens story – did he or didn't he try to commit suicide – I've come to the conclusion that Terrell Owens is the last person I want to write about in this column. I don't hate Owens (for reasons I can't explain, I'm sympathetic), and I don't blame the media for going into a feeding-frenzy surrounding this latest situation. I'm just sick of the whole circus.
Owens needs to take an Eddie Murray-esque vow of silence with the media. And the media needs to take a hard look at how much it exploits this ripe human subject. Consider how much more hoopla surrounded Owens for mixing supplements with medication compared to San Diego linebacker Steve Foley getting shot down by a police man prior to the season. To me, Foley's the bigger story here, but that storyline is a footnote compared to the novel about to be produced about what went down Tuesday night at Owens' pad. So, let's move on to things I do want to talk about:
Unbelievably, I landed Braylon Edwards in free agency this past week in one of my leagues. Paired alongside a non-factor like Dennis Northcutt, how can you not assume Edwards is going to see a lot of looks the rest of the way? I remember noting the affinity that Frye seemed to have for Edwards when he made his first couple starts last season (just prior to Edwards blowing his knee out). And it looks like they've picked up where they left off. I was an Edwards doubter this summer, simply because I really didn't think he had much chance to come back from the injury and make an impact right away. I was way wrong. And after Edwards put up numbers at Baltimore in Week 3 (116 yards, TD), I think he safely moves from spot-start status to someone that needs to be in your lineup every week.
I'm a little smug after hearing the news that Denver head coach Mike Shanahan wants to roll with a featured back, and not a platoon, with Tatum being his preferred Bell. My money's been on Tatum Bell all along, you see, as has Yahoo! colleague Christopher Harris'. Our other partner in crime, Brad Evans hitched his wagon to the Mike Bell train. And as much as I'd love to go full-gloat on Evans, because he's one of those guys that makes you relish doing so, I know that as soon as I do, Tatum will cough up the rock in a couple crucial situations, rendering this promotion moot. If he holds onto the ball, though, you're looking at a top 10 back.
Speaking of Evans, we do have our share of enjoyable disagreements. It all started this summer when he wouldn't stop yammering on about his "man-crush" for DeAngelo Williams. I'm a fan of Williams, but I liked Laurence Maroney's fantasy prospects better for '06, and I told him so. This brought about our first bet – Williams vs. Maroney. There have been others since, but the latest has him strongly in Greg Jennings' camp, while I favor Minnesota's Troy Williamson – end-of-year fantasy points will decide this one, as well. Again, I don't dislike Jennings – Evans feels he's next to join the rare 1,000-yard rookie receiver class, and I think it's very possible – but Williamson looks like the clear go-to guy in the Vikings aerial attack, whereas Jennings is playing second-fiddle to Donald Driver. In addition, having watched a lot of the Vikings this season, they are taking far more deep shots to Williamson than I ever thought I'd see Johnson take. Jennings has the fantasy point lead right now, but I'd rather have Williamson over the long haul. And this is a decision many fantasy owners may have had to make this week, as Williamson was available in 78 percent of Yahoo! leagues coming out of Week 3, while Jennings was 87 percent available.
Had Matt Leinart truly been named the starter for this week, you could have put me in the camp that believes he would have made an immediate impact. He's not going to take a long time getting comfortable. The guy has an extremely high football IQ, he's played admirably in big-time pressure situations at USC, he sees the field well and shows nice touch and accuracy on his passes. And, what may separate him from Warner most is the fact that he actually has some mobility and pocket awareness. With Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald at his disposal, Leinart would rock-n-roll from the get-go.
Speaking about inexperienced quarterbacks, if I would have told you that Philip Rivers, Rex Grossman and Alex Smith would have yielded the fewest combined interceptions/sacks/fumbles lost (I+S+F – I'm making this abbreviation up) among QBs over the first three weeks, you wouldn't have believed it. Rivers, in two games, has yet to turn the ball over or be sacked. While, in three games, Grossman and Smith have just five I+S+F. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Charlie Frye's 19 I+S+F tally isn't so hard to fathom, although he's been better in fantasy than that number would lead you to believe. Daunte Culpepper is one behind Frye at 18. It's probably not coincidental that 15 of that 18 total have come on sacks. The guy doesn't move at all like he used to. And behind one of the best offensive lines in the league, Carson Palmer, the other big kahuna QB coming off major knee surgery, has been sacked 11 times. Culpepper leads the league in sacks, while Palmer is fourth. Palmer was sacked just 19 times all last season.
Chris Henry is the most added player in Yahoo! leagues for the past couple days. It's a smart group of fantasy football players we have on this site. Henry's a stud. I wish he was, say, starting opposite Donte' Stallworth in Philadelphia, or, well, at least starting somewhere. As QB Carson Palmer said in preseason, he's a Randy Moss type – you just throw the ball up and let Henry come down with it. He's scoring at a ridiculous clip of once every five catches for his career. It's too bad that he'll be relegated to the bench with T.J. Houshmandzadeh healthy again. He still has spot-start fantasy value as a No. 3 in a very good Cincinnati offense, but this guy's talent is going to need a starting gig next season.
I'm down on the Oakland players – who isn't? But, this is a great week to gauge just how low LaMont Jordan has sunk. The team has had a bye week to look at film and come to the realization that it has yet to complete a pass to the guy who led all running backs with 70 receptions a year ago! Oakland also has OT Robert Gallery healthy again, and it faces the Cleveland Browns. If Jordan and company lay an egg in Week 4 after coming in fresh off a bye week and facing a defense that has allowed the fifth-most yards in the league, it's all over but the crying, I'm afraid.
I'm going to stop referring to Marques Colston as a wide receiver, because you'd be silly to not take advantage of his TE-eligibility loophole. And to that point, I'm going to stop respectfully sliding Colston in after the established top five or so at the tight end position in these weekly rankings that myself, Harris and Evans produce for each Friday of the season. Because, fact of the matter is, the top tight ends have been up and down this season, and Colston has not. He scored a touchdown in each of his first two weeks, and he went for 97 yards in Week 3. He's the top fantasy tight end in the game right now and, perhaps, outside of Antonio Gates, there isn't a true tight end I'd rather have than Colston. He's not going away, folks. He looks like he's played in the leagues for years. Even better, Drew Brees looks to him an awful lot.
Raise you hand if you handcuffed T.J. Duckett to your Clinton Portis pick? Yeah, unfortunately, me too. And this after I spent a preseason column writing about Ladell Betts being one of the best "next Larry Johnson" candidates of '06. Somewhere along the way, I was led to believe that the Duckett trade was Washington's way of showing a lack of confidence in Betts, but clearly, if that was the case, it's no longer an issue. I probably waited a week too long, but Duckett has found his way off of all my fantasy squads this week.
I saw the Jacksonville/Indy game in Week 3. I'm aware that Maurice Jones-Drew looks like a burgeoning dynamo. But, frankly, he's probably a little overrated now. Fred Taylor should get a lot of credit for his effort to this point – he's picked up tough yards against tough opponents in true workhorse fashion. Jones-Drew picked up 65 yards on his first four carries on Sunday, three of which came on obvious passing downs. After that, Indy pretty much held him to four yards a carry on his final nine handles. But, I'm not dissing on Jones-Drew, he's oozing with upside. I just think that he'll remain no more than a change-of-pace substitute for Taylor for the present. But, I will say, Taylor has given us little confidence to believe he can take the pounding he's been taking for very long. So, in that regard, Jones-Drew is likely to make an impact, but it won't be right away.