Harris: Week 3 player rankings
|Week 3 Quarterback Rankings|
Notes: Hasselbeck's collision with Shaun Alexander cost Seattle a close win in Arizona, and he hasn't set the world ablaze through two weeks, but man, how can you not like his matchup with the Cincy defense? We'll get a sense of exactly how good the Niners' defense is after this week. I've still got Roethlisberger ranked high because I don't trust Walt Harris. Santonio Holmes could be in for another big day. Bulger got his brains beaten in against the Niners,
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|Week 3 Running Back Rankings|
|23||Marion Barber III||Cowboys||@CHI|
Notes: The going may not be much smoother in Green Bay for Tomlinson, but he deserves to be on top simply because of the weekly upside. It'll all go away against Kansas City in Week 4. Again, Alexander deserves the hike because of his opponent. He'll still be running with the splint on his hand, but he looked much better in the second half last week. It's hard to argue for too many guys being in the top 10 who I don't list above. I suppose LaMont Jordan has the best case, especially considering his 159 yards rushing at Denver last week. And I know Cleveland isn't very good on defense. Still, I'd have a very hard time bumping any of the folks ahead of him. Larry Johnson owners have to endure one more week of pain (OK, maybe two, since the Chargers are up next), but life will get better. LJ could score against Minny, but I don't see him getting many yards. Give Cadillac Williams a gold star for gutting out a rib injury last week, and doubling his touchdown total from last season in one game. Considering the third-year Bucs runner had nine carries for 8 yards in the first half, the fact that Jon Gruden gave it to Caddy 15 more times in the second half (for 53 yards) is a good sign. Benson was good against the Chiefs last week, and was almost stellar. He was about 6 inches from evading an ankle tackle and logging his first score of the year. He'll be even better against Dallas Sunday night. Jones-Drew's mysterious X-rays after Sunday's game scare me. As of this writing, the Jags haven't announced anything, but for the moment I put Fred Taylor higher. They've pretty much split carries anyway, and Denver's rush defense isn't what it once was. I was assaulted by e-mails from Cleveland about 30 seconds after the Browns' win ended last week, with folks telling me (in language too blue to reprint here) what a moron I was for not respecting Jamal Lewis. Well, tell you what, folks. You go ahead and start Jamal every week, and I'll take the 19 guys ahead of him on this list, and we'll see how things shake out by season's end, eh? Regardless, though, Lewis is a good start this week against a middling Oakland rush defense. Don't get scared by Thomas Jones' start. Pats and Ravens, Ravens and Pats. Marion Barber isn't getting all of Dallas' carries. Yet.
|Week 3 Wide Receiver Rankings|
|37||Antwaan Randle El||Redskins||NYG|
Notes: Well, I guess I officially buy the Randy Moss hype. The Bills don't have anyone to stay with Moss, so they'll have to double-team him, but that hasn't worked yet this season. I stand by my assertion that New England will spread it around too much (eventually) for Moss to get 15 TDs. But this week, he looks good. Owens has a terrible matchup against the Bears, but don't sit your wide receiver studs. Driver's the only guy getting open for Green Bay. I don't like the Packers' offense much at all, but Favre has targeted his No. 1 wideout 24 times already this season. That's tied for fourth in the NFL. Fitzgerald was impressive making his 40-yard grab last week, and it was good to see Matt Leinart go deep again for a change. Baltimore is so much tougher against the run than they are the pass, so here's hoping the Cards don't beat their head against a wall. Curry should bounce back against Cleveland this week. You can't blame him when Josh McCown only completes eight passes in an entire game. I toyed with having Santana Moss a lot higher. In the end, it doesn't really matter, as long as he's in the top 20, because he should start in all leagues. The Randle El distraction looked like it was over in Philly Monday night, and Moss looked explosive. Berrian is the clear top target in Chicago's offense, outdistancing Muhsin Muhammad. He'll get free against the Cowboys. Deion Branch owners exhaled last week. I'm hanging in there with Reggie Brown. He hasn't gotten open a whole lot, and when he has, McNabb has usually missed him. It's worrisome to see Kevin Curtis get more red-zone looks, but that'll even out. Detroit is ripe for the picking. I'd sit Evans in a 12-team league this week. When J.P. Losman's under duress, he's a mess, and he'll be pressured against New England again. After Week 3, however, I'd consider buying low on Evans. Welker is the second-most valuable receiver in New England, because Donte' Stallworth's skill set seems redundant with Moss'. Keep an eye on Brandon Marshall. He's looked much better in his second season, and is no longer just an end-zone guy. He's on the way up.
|Week 3 Tight End Rankings|
Notes: Given the way they're used in their respective offenses, I'm almost willing to say Gates and Winslow deserve to be 1-2 every week. The way Philip Rivers is looking for Gates on every pass play is almost silly, except all Gates does is get open. He's well nigh uncoverable in the middle of the field. I have Witten too high here, but what can I say, he's got 143 yards receiving. He's performed. Whether you've got him fourth or 10th, he starts every week. Shockey is the second-most-targeted tight end in football (after Gates), but anyone who watches Giants games knows how suspect Shockey's hands can be, especially in big spots. If he could channel half the energy he spends talking and gesturing into catching, he'd be a Hall of Famer. The Giants have given up the most fantasy points to tight ends of any team in football through two weeks (a ridiculous 17.6 points per game in ESPN.com standard leagues), which bodes well for Cooley. Expect Owen Daniels to be the top target in Houston's offense if Andre Johnson can't play with his strained PCL. Daniels should have a big game, though of course, these things are awfully hard to predict on a single-game basis for tight ends. Dallas Clark was immense for the newly conservative Peyton Manning last week. Nine targets and seven receptions is sweet. When teams play back and dare the Colts to put together long drives, now Manning is content to do just that, which gives Clark a ton of value. Less talking, Vernon Davis. More catching. Watch out for Pollard against the Bengals' D, which is historically suspect against tight ends, and which has allowed more than 10 a game to the position so far this year.
|Week 3 Kicker Rankings|
Notes: Week-to-week kicker rankings are already a little bit of a sham, and I've gone renegade cowboy a couple weeks early this season, trying to inject some of the early kicker results into the hierarchy before any statistical significance has been reached. Elam's two game-winners certainly help, as does his Mile High kicking status. Reed has been very good, while Vinatieri has been exceedingly shaky, yet they're both in my top five. Graham seems healthy, Crosby seems like the reincarnation of a young Ryan Longwell, and good ol' Shaun Suisham is making kicks left and right. Is having Olindo Mare this low this early pure foolishness? Maybe. Matt Prater got himself cut by the Falcons, who brought back Morten Andersen.
|Week 3 Defense Rankings|
Notes: The Cowboys have scored the most points in football through two weeks, but I think they'll find the sledding much tougher against Chicago. Even if they do put up some points, sacks and turnovers are still likely for the Bears. I've been waxing rhapsodic about the San Diego defense for a month, and that's how they repay me? Jamal Williams hyperextends his elbow, Shaun Phillips bruises his quad, Matt Wilhelm never gets in the game after hurting his calf in warm-ups, and for the second straight time in a game against New England, Shawne Merriman disappears into the locker room for mysterious reasons in the second half? Eesh. One thing's for sure: Quentin Jammer isn't as good as I wrote just a few weeks back. I still like the aggressiveness, but there's work to do. The Chiefs might be a one-week play against Minnesota, regardless of whether Tarvaris Jackson or Kelly Holcomb plays. KC will load up against Adrian Peterson, put their corners on islands, and dare the Vikings to throw deep, just like the Lions did last week. I was sorely tempted to put San Francisco into the top 12, because they've been an excellent fantasy defense through two weeks. I just want to see 'em do it on the road, against a good offense like Pittsburgh's, before I truly believe. Guess I was a bit wrong hyperventilating about the Bengals' D against Cleveland, eh?
Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.
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