- Scott Engel, ESPN Fantasy Games
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On Mondays, we examine news and trends from Sunday's games, and look ahead to the upcoming week.
Stepping in for the injured Walker: Javon Walker is expected to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, and that means Robert Ferguson will likely become Green Bay's No. 2 receiver. But Ferguson does not get open consistently, and it would not be surprising to see Antonio Chatman catch more balls on a regular basis. Ferguson has never lived up to his considerable potential. Donald Driver now loses the luxury of facing No. 2 cornerbacks and could struggle often as a No. 1 receiver for the Packers.
The Denver backfield: Mike Anderson, who has often had unfortunate injury issues throughout his career, now has a rib problem. Tatum Bell was not dependable in relief -- he was not able to convert key opportunities near the goal line and continued to display a tendency to fumble, even though his flub was recovered by Denver. If Anderson can't stay healthy, and Bell continues to look like a standout one minute and an overmatched youngster shortly thereafter, don't be surprised to see Mike Shanahan give Ron Dayne a chance to carry the ball in important situations, especially near the goal line.
Cowher's important quote: Fantasy owners take note of this Bill Cowher quote about Willie Parker following Sunday's game. "I see no reason to make a change at this point," he said. Parker might have a small frame, but he can run inside without fear and will not hesitate to stiff-arm his way to success or challenge much bigger defenders. Parker looks like a must-start player until further notice.
The Minnesota backfield mess: The Vikings' total of 26 rushing yards was their worst in 19 years. Moe Williams started and played the most snaps of any of the team's running backs. Michael Bennett was held to minus-1 yard rushing and Mewelde Moore didn't play at running back at all. Moore's ankle injury during the preseason might have played a major factor in him only operating as a special teamer. So don't give up on him yet as a sleeper, and consider adding Williams as a reserve. He has been useful as a spot fantasy player in the past. It might not be much longer before the Vikings give up on Bennett.
More trouble for Jamal: Ravens RB Jamal Lewis, who entered Sunday night's game with concerns about his ankle, suffered a broken finger on his left hand against the Colts. While Lewis was able to rip off a 25-yard run, for much of the night he did not display his usual authority and explosion, and it was clear he was not 100 percent. While it's difficult to bench Lewis for many other players, it might be a few more weeks before he really looks like his true self. The finger injury is not expected to keep him out next week.
Here are some performances from Week 1 that likely are no illusion, or signs of more good play to come: Joey Galloway totaled 97 receiving yards and should continue to perform well alongside Michael Clayton if he stays healthy. Antwaan Randle El (63-yard TD catch) is Pittsburgh's new big-play man. Plaxico Burress (76 yards, one TD) will catch a lot of big gainers from Eli Manning. Larry Fitzgerald (13 catches, 155 yards, one TD) has served notice that he is ready to have a big year. Patrick Crayton (89 yards, one TD) is definitely worth adding as a free agent. Brandon Lloyd (65 yards, TD) should be a good No. 3 fantasy receiver this year. Byron Leftwich (two TD passes, no interceptions) should be at least a solid fantasy starter, and sometimes he might be spectacular. Rian Lindell (five FGs) is far from dead as a fantasy option. J.P. Losman will certainly move the Buffalo offense well enough to give him a lot of field-goal chances.
Don't believe 'em
Here are some Week 1 performances that might not be matched for a long time, or not very often: Gus Frerotte (275 passing yards, two TDs) will still be plagued by offensive line issues and accuracy problems. Frisman Jackson (128 receiving yards, one TD) is sure to return to obscurity very quickly. Chris Baker (seven receptions, 124 yards, one TD) padded his numbers in extended garbage time. Santana Moss (96 receiving yards) can easily follow up a big game with a quiet outing. Keyshawn Johnson (two TD catches) is still a quality fantasy starter as a No. 3 WR, but don't expect consistency. Joey Harrington (two TD passes, no interceptions) was mostly unimpressive against a soft Green Bay secondary, and he might look much more mistake-prone against better opponents in the future.
The Monday Scout
Here are some observations that go deeper than the numbers: Laveranues Coles was plagued by drops, and Curtis Martin was not a major factor at Kansas City, but look for both players to spur a rebound effort against Miami next week. After a good preseason, Matt Hasselbeck has started the regular season making the same key mistakes at critical times that prevent him from improving. Aaron Brooks did not throw any TD passes Sunday, but he led a game-winning drive and did not throw an interception, positive signs that might lead to better play in the near future. When Antonio Gates returns, the numbers of Keenan McCardell will likely dip, but he has still showed he can be a very good fantasy starter. Kevan Barlow doesn't seem to run well until he gets near the goal line. His ultimate fate could be as a short-yardage back. Trent Dilfer is going to spread the ball around a lot, and no one Browns receiver will likely be reliable. Defensive views: Kansas City terrorized a solid Jets offensive line, and I believe they are for real. Minnesota got good pressure on Brian Griese, but there are still breakdowns happening in the secondary and the LB crew is shaky. Cincinnati is still prone to blown coverages and lapses at LB, but the unit is a fine fantasy start every week because of its playmaking abilities.
1mMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
6hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins