My guilt is palpable. Once again, my subconscious is screaming at me to answer some e-mails. So this week's Fun-house takes on a mailbag format, as I tackle questions regarding running back time-shares – which has become oh-so vogue this season – and some of your Week 6 start/sit queries.
NOTE: The Fun-house is on bye next week, but will return the following week.
Funston: Well, so far, Turner's been chipping away to the tune of 10 carries a game, and he's been highly successful in that role – 6.8 yards per carry, third best in the NFL. There's no question that LaDainian Tomlinson is the featured guy here, but Marty Schottenheimer runs the ball so often (fourth-most in the league), LT can still average a healthy 22 carries per game despite losing some touches to Turner. What's been most beneficial for Turner is that Tomlinson puts such a drain on a defense that Turner can come into the game in the fourth quarter fresh and just blow away defenders – more than half (22) of Turner's 41 carries have come in the final period, and he's averaging 7.9 yards per carry on those. I think Turner will get at least 12-15 carries this week against a San Francisco defense allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to RBs. If you have him, you have to strongly consider starting him. If this game gets out of hand early in the Chargers' favor, Turner might out-produce Tomlinson.
Funston: Caddy definitely has better long term value, as he's running unopposed in Tampa, while Jones-Drew is, at best, in a time-share with Fred Taylor. Yes, Jacksonville is a run-heavy team that should be able to keep Jones-Drew busy and effective, but Williams will handle a considerably larger workload, and that is as much a determining factor as anything. That also means that Cadillac will command more in trade, especially after topping the century mark in Week 5, and I have no problem with you exploring that route. I owned this guy in a few leagues last season, and he's nothing if not high maintenance. Frankly, I deemed him more trouble than he's worth and didn't draft him this year. His issues? Durability – he missed two games in his rookie season with injury, and this year and last he's often saddled with some kind of nagging weekly ailment; Inconsistency – In his 18 pro games, he's produced seven 100-yard efforts and seven games of 37 rushing yards or less; Red-Zone Deficiencies – 7 TDs in 18 games doesn't cut it for a guy oft-considered one of fantasy's top dozen backs.
I'd suggest you solicit as many offers as possible for Williams before pulling the trigger, because the latest trades on Yahoo! show that his value is all over the place – example of different deals: Williams for Plaxico Burress and Drew Brees; Williams for Muhsin Muhammad; Williams for Anquan Boldin and Jerricho Cotchery; Williams and Charlie Frye for Philip Rivers (huh?); and Williams for Dominic Rhodes.
I have huge bye week issues this week, so I have to pick someone up. I have to drop either Laurence Maroney, Corey Dillon, Donald Driver, Dominic Rhodes or Chester Taylor. I guess Driver? Or else I can drop Rex Grossman, but then I would have to play Eli Manning at Atlanta. – Dac
Funston: Ouch, Dac, very ouch. You failed to list your other players not up for cut consideration, so I'll assume from this list that RB is where you carry the most depth (you list four RBs here, and only one WR). If you have guys at those positions that you don't list because they are beyond such consideration, then I'd say that Rhodes is the guy to cut. If you are rolling with another top RB and Maroney, Dillon and Taylor, you have a pretty solid core. But, it seems that WR may be more of a depth issue, since only Driver's name is among the fat you wish to trim. Driver's going to rebound from the health hiccup he's going through, and I'd rather ride with him for WR depth than with Rhodes, who probably wouldn't typically see the light of day in your lineup. Plus, I still feel he's going to be de-emphasized in favor of Joseph Addai as the weeks progress.
Funston: Jordan's not going to lose his job to Fargas, but he is going to lose carries to him – Oakland's just the latest team to espouse the virtues of a two-back system. Fargas has opened Art Shell's eyes with his speed and punishing style, which has yielded 9.0 yards per carry. Said Shell, "We've just got to keep him healthy. He's a good change-of-pace guy because he's got good straight-line speed to get out in the open." So there you go, he's a change-of-pace guy, and that's probably worth 8-10 carries a week. Jordan still has value because running the ball is about the only thing the team does well (5.1 yards per carry), and Jordan is going to continue seeing the clear majority of carries. But no Jordan owner likes to see his property infringed upon, and that is what's happening here.
I've got an issue with who to start this week at WR: I have Terry Glenn against Houston, Javon Walker against Oakland, Andre Johnson against Dallas, Steve Smith against Baltimore, and Anquan Boldin against Chicago … (I need to start 3). – Mike, San Jose, CA
Funston: Yahoo! Sports fantasy experts Christopher Harris, Brad Evans and myself will put out our weekly position rankings on Friday, but here's sneak peek at how these guys will stack up against each other in my rankings: 1.) Andre Johnson 2.) Steve Smith 3.) Terry Glenn 4.) Javon walker 5.) Anquan Boldin … just a quick comment – Glenn has, by far, the best matchup here (Houston), and I really like what he's done so far, but something tells me that this is an easy game to feed Terrell Owens the ball and just shut him up for the time being. For that reason, I give Smith just a slight edge in a tough matchup at Baltimore.
Do you think I should just drop Daunte Culpepper? – Jason, Columbus, OH
Funston: Yeah, Jason, I'd drop Daunte. Right now, he's got the excuse that he's not all the way back from a knee injury and he needs some rest. But, most of us remember that Culpepper was a dung pile last season in Minnesota prior to his ugly knee injury (6 TDs and 12 INTs in 7 games). Without the benefit of Randy Moss, I think the jury is out on Culpepper, especially now that the knee has robbed him of running skills that produced 2,491 rushing yards and 29 rushing TDs in his 81 regular season games in Minnesota. As a passer, he throws a good deep ball, which is the main reason he and Moss clicked so sensationally, but I've always been leery of his short-range throwing skills. With defenses sacking him at a record-setting pace prior to his benching, he just doesn't have time to work deep to Chris Chambers like many, including myself, envisioned. Looking at percent-owned numbers from Yahoo! leagues, I see guys like Jon Kitna, Matt Leinart and David Carr available in a vast majority of those leagues – actually, in Carr's case, he's owned in a little more than half the leagues. I'd prefer any one of them to Culpepper.
I am having a hard time deciding which QB to play in Week 6. I have Damon Huard, Matt Leinart, and Bruce Gradkowski to choose from. They all face tough defenses – any suggestions? – Russell, Williamston, SC
Funston: Russell, my advice would be to double-down on Gradkowski. You simply can't start Leinart, with his sieve of an offensive line, against Defensive Player of the Year candidate Tommie Harris and the rest of the Bears defense. And I don't see Huard doing a whole lot of positive at Pittsburgh. The Steelers are currently fifth-best at sacking the quarterback, and a ton of QB pressure in a hostile environment against a team fighting to save a season is something Huard hasn't faced yet. He's been enjoying softies San Francisco and Arizona the past two games. Let's not forget that Huard was good for just 133 passing yards and 0 TDs at Denver in Week 2. I see this week's performance falling closer in line with the Denver game than the past two.
That leaves Gradkowski, and I think he'll be fine at home versus Cincinnati. The Bengals have struggled to stop the run, so their focus should be in shutting down Carnell Williams. That should open up play-action for Gradkowski who, despite being a sixth-round pick, has a skill set that meshes well with Tampa Bay's West Coast attack. Gradkowski threw a ton in college, he's accurate, he's mobile and he sees the field well.
Hey Brandon, who would you start Week 6, Steven Jackson or Warrick Dunn? I would like to think Seattle is gonna shut down St. Louis, but the Giants also looked good last week against Portis and Washington … I'm stuck. Please help! – Scott, Chicago, IL
Funston: I agree, it's a tough call, but I'd opt for Steven Jackson, the NFL's co-leader in rushing yards. He's got a healthy Orlando Pace back along the front line and he has no obvious threats to steal carries. In Dunn's case, Jerious Norwood looks too good to not give him at least 8-10 touches, plus Michael Vick is calling his number an increasing amount. Consider that Dunn has cornered just 53 percent of Atlanta's rush attempts, while Jackson has commanded 80 percent of the Rams' carries. Chicago exposed Seattle a bit in the running game in Week 4, and I think Jackson can have success against them, as well.
Funston: Sometimes, deals like these can bite you in the butt. Gore, in my opinion, is the best fantasy player of the bunch. So, if you deal him and replace him with Foster, who has durability issues and – when DeAngelo Williams returns from an ankle injury – time-share issues, how much of an upgrade do you get at QB and WR with Brady and Brown? New England has leaned heavily on the run this year with the defections of receivers Deion Branch and David Givens – the Pats lead the league in rushing attempts. This emphasis on the running game has contributed to Brady sitting currently at just 15th in passing yards, although he does have a healthy 8 TD passes. Among fantasy QBs, I'd rather have Donovan McNabb, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Marc Bulger and Carson Palmer. Then, I'd say that you could put Matt Hasselbeck, Rex Grossman and Jake Delhomme in a group that is on a level with Brady. So, if you are running with any of these guys, Brady isn't a significant upgrade. Go through the same check down with Reggie Brown? Is this a guy you are definitely going to play every week? If Brady and Brown aren't going to offer a serious upgrade at their positions, I think you hang onto Gore.