Commentary

The Big Rotowski: Week 7 Player Rankings

Updated: July 14, 2008, 5:51 PM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

Week 7 Quarterback Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Tom BradyPatriots@MIA
2Tony RomoCowboysMIN
3Carson PalmerBengalsNYJ
4Peyton ManningColts@JAC
5Matt HasselbeckSeahawksSTL
6Eli ManningGiantsSF
7Ben RoethlisbergerSteelers@DEN
8Jon KitnaLionsTB
9Jason CampbellRedskinsARI
10Jeff GarciaBuccaneers@DET
11Donovan McNabbEaglesCHI
12Brian GrieseBears@PHI
13David GarrardJaguarsIND
14Marc BulgerRams@SEA
15Drew BreesSaintsATL
16Vince YoungTitans@HOU
17Matt SchaubTexansTEN
18Chad PenningtonJets@CIN
19Daunte CulpepperRaidersKC
20Tarvaris JacksonVikings@DAL
21Jay CutlerBroncosPIT
22Cleo LemonDolphinsNE
23Joey HarringtonFalcons@NO
24Damon HuardChiefs@OAK
25Alex D. Smith49ers@NYG
26Kyle BollerRavens@BUF
27Trent EdwardsBillsBAL
28Tim RattayCardinals@WAS

(Bye-Week Notables: Brett Favre, Philip Rivers, Derek Anderson, Vinny Testaverde)

Notes: Carson Palmer isn't playing well. But the good news is: Even when he doesn't play well, his fantasy teams benefit. Palmer forced several throws Sunday against the Chiefs because the Bengals needed to surmount a deficit; as a result, he tossed it 43 times. Things get a lot easier against the Jets' anemic pass rush in Week 7. ... I was tempted to go quite a bit higher on Garcia, but suffice it to say: You should start him.

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The Lions allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and while they're also easy to run against, running isn't what the Bucs do best. Garcia still probably won't go downfield that much, but his downside is limited; he's gone 141 passes without a pick this season. ... McNabb definitely benefited from some obscenely bad Jets tackling early Sunday, but didn't do much after Kevin Curtis's long catch-and-run. He's still (barely) a fantasy starter, but his accuracy is off. ... Griese benefits from the continued absence of Brian Dawkins, but cornerback Lito Sheppard is expected to return for the Eagles in Week 7. ... I may bump Bulger up on Friday if he practices this week. As it is, he's expected to play over the dumbfoundingly bad Gus Frerotte, and Seattle's defense is reeling a bit. ... Brees looked like his old self on Sunday night, but I'm waiting one more game to use him if I've got other options. Atlanta played acceptably well on defense Monday night (their problems lie on offense), and I want to see Brees do it again. ... Vince Young reportedly won't practice this week because of an injured quad, but he hasn't been ruled out for the Houston game. We should know more later in the week; Kerry Collins (ick) would go if VY can't. ... I'm oh-so-tempted to put Pennington higher. He's a stubborn little bugger, and with so many people (including me) talking trash about him, I could see him torching the Bengals. But he's just looked so bad lately. ... Trent Green is practicing for Miami, and I guess there's a chance he comes back and starts over Cleo Lemon. You don't want either guy against the Patriots, anyway. ... Trent Edwards faces a terrible matchup against the Ravens, but it sounds as if he's Buffalo's permanent full-time quarterback, thus mercifully ending the J.P. Losman era. Edwards is calm, while Losman was hair-on-fire. 'Nuff said.

Week 7 Running Back Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Brian WestbrookEaglesCHI
2Adrian PetersonVikings@DAL
3Joseph AddaiColts@JAC
4Ronnie BrownDolphinsNE
5Willie ParkerSteelers@DEN
6Larry JohnsonChiefs@OAK
7Willis McGaheeRavens@BUF
8Frank Gore49ers@NYG
9Clinton PortisRedskinsARI
10Reggie BushSaintsATL
11Maurice Jones-DrewJaguarsIND
12Shaun AlexanderSeahawksSTL
13Travis HenryBroncosPIT
14LaMont JordanRaidersKC
15Thomas JonesJets@CIN
16Edgerrin JamesCardinals@WAS
17Brandon JacobsGiantsSF
18Marshawn LynchBillsBAL
19Kevin JonesLionsTB
20Earnest GrahamBuccaneers@DET
21LenDale WhiteTitans@HOU
22Marion Barber IIICowboysMIN
23Laurence MaroneyPatriots@MIA
24Kenny WatsonBengalsNYJ
25Cedric BensonBears@PHI
26Brian LeonardRams@SEA
27Rudi JohnsonBengalsNYJ
28Ahman GreenTexansTEN
29Warrick DunnFalcons@NO
30Julius JonesCowboysMIN
31Derrick WardGiantsSF
32Chester TaylorVikings@DAL
33Justin FargasRaidersKC
34Fred TaylorJaguarsIND
35Jerious NorwoodFalcons@NO
36Chris BrownTitans@HOU
37Leon WashingtonJets@CIN
38Kevin FaulkPatriots@MIA
39Kenton KeithColts@JAC
40Correll BuckhalterEaglesCHI
41Selvin YoungBroncosPIT
42Najeh DavenportSteelers@DEN
43Reuben DroughnsGiantsSF
44Ladell BettsRedskinsARI
45Ron DayneTexansTEN
46Adrian Peterson.Bears@PHI
47Greg JonesJaguarsIND
48Michael BennettBuccaneers@DET
49Leonard WeaverSeahawksSTL
50Pierre ThomasSaintsATL

(Bye-Week Notables: LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Turner, DeShaun Foster, DeAngelo Williams, DeShawn Wynn, Vernand Morency, Brandon Jackson, Jamal Lewis, Jason Wright)

Notes: I have Minnesota's Peterson second among rushers despite the fact that coach Brad Childress continues to promise he'll split touches between AP and Chester Taylor. Last week, Taylor actually got the ball one more time than Peterson did. Hey, but what matters is what you do when you get it, right? ... For at least one week, it appears I was right about Larry Johnson. He was excellent in the first half against Cincy and only ran into problems once the Chiefs were trying to protect a lead by rushing in obvious run situations. The Raiders are allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing rushers. Speaking of LJ, with Michael Bennett (not ranked as he learns the Tampa offense) headed to the Bucs, Kolby Smith becomes the must-handcuff for Johnson owners. ... Alexander didn't do anything to assuage his owners' fears last week. Against what had been a very easy Saints defense, Alexander looked indecisive. Part of it, no doubt, is a lack of reliable holes from his overrated O-line. Nevertheless, when Leonard Weaver looks better, there's cause for concern. Hopefully the Rams make Alexander right. ... Thanks a lot, LaMont Jordan. I daresay there were precious few fantasy players in this great land who started the "Big Dummy" for his 4 p.m. game Sunday, since he went from "doubtful" to "18 carries" in about five minutes. Those who tried Justin Fargas (or, worse, Dominic Rhodes) were sorely disappointed. Anyway, Jordan doesn't have a fantastic matchup against a surging Chiefs D, but he's been solid all year, so you probably have to start him. ... Edgerrin James is playing very well, but without either of the Cardinals' first two quarterbacks available, he'll be the focus of Washington's defense this week. ... Jacobs may have dinged up his ankle a bit Monday night, but Giants coach Tom Coughlin says he'll be fine. What's not fine is this huge, lumbering back losing goal-line touches to Reuben "The Sandwich" Droughns. ... I know Graham was terrible last week and didn't exactly get a vote of confidence when the Bucs traded for oft-injured and even-more-oft-terrible Michael Bennett. But Detroit's rush defense is just awful. Graham is a decent fill-in if your main guys are on bye. ... Rudi Johnson is reportedly expected to see an "increased workload," but considering he carried it four times Sunday, I'm still not sure what that means. For the moment, I have Kenny Watson higher, but that's subject to change on Friday. ... Sammy Morris is out for at least a month, and Laurence Maroney's groin still isn't a sure thing, so Kevin Faulk gets some love in this week's rankings. I still believe Maroney will play, but as usual, it's going to be very deep into the week before we know anything for sure. ... With Chris Brown hurting, it sounds like rookie Chris Henry (the rusher, not the troubled wideout) will be active for the first time this week. If Brown can't play because of his injured ankle, Henry could make a decent Hail Mary for the bye-decimated.

Week 7 Wide Receiver Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1T.J. HoushmandzadehBengalsNYJ
2Randy MossPatriots@MIA
3Plaxico BurressGiantsSF
4Chad JohnsonBengalsNYJ
5Terrell OwensCowboysMIN
6Marvin HarrisonColts@JAC
7Reggie WayneColts@JAC
8Roy WilliamsLionsTB
9Joey GallowayBuccaneers@DET
10Jerricho CotcheryJets@CIN
11Laveranues ColesJets@CIN
12Larry FitzgeraldCardinals@WAS
13Kevin CurtisEaglesCHI
14Torry HoltRams@SEA
15Patrick CraytonCowboysMIN
16Wes WelkerPatriots@MIA
17Anquan BoldinCardinals@WAS
18Marques ColstonSaintsATL
19Santonio HolmesSteelers@DEN
20Donte' StallworthPatriots@MIA
21Ronald CurryRaidersKC
22Hines WardSteelers@DEN
23Derrick MasonRavens@BUF
24Dwayne BoweChiefs@OAK
25Javon WalkerBroncosPIT
26Roddy WhiteFalcons@NO
27Bobby EngramSeahawksSTL
28Shaun McDonaldLionsTB
29Brandon MarshallBroncosPIT
30Antwaan Randle ElRedskinsARI
31Mike FurreyLionsTB
32Bernard BerrianBears@PHI
33Marty BookerDolphinsNE
34Calvin JohnsonLionsTB
35Darrell Jackson49ers@NYG
36Andre DavisTexansTEN
37Muhsin MuhammadBears@PHI
38Amani ToomerGiantsSF
39Lee EvansBillsBAL
40Dennis NorthcuttJaguarsIND
41Reggie BrownEaglesCHI
42Ike HilliardBuccaneers@DET
43Nate BurlesonSeahawksSTL
44Roscoe ParrishBillsBAL
45Jerry PorterRaidersKC
46Roydell WilliamsTitans@HOU
47Arnaz Battle49ers@NYG
48Mark ClaytonRavens@BUF
49David PattenSaintsATL
50Ted Ginn Jr.DolphinsNE

(Bye-Week Notables: Steve Smith, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicius, Vincent Jackson, Chris Chambers)

Notes: I've followed my cohort Nate Ravitz's assertion that Houshmandzadeh deserves the top spot among receivers, at least with Steve Smith on bye (and with Vinny T the Carolina QB). Housh, as Nate notes, is on pace for 150 catches and 20 touchdowns. That would be some kind of record or something. ... This just in: Plaxico Burress scores a touchdown every game. ... It sounds like Harrison will be OK to go against the Jags. Jacksonville often puts Rashean Mathis on Harrison no matter where he lines up, which sounds good until you watch career tape of those two against one another and see Harrison repeatedly making Mathis look foolish. Suffice it to say the matchup doesn't scare me much, and Marvin's due to go on his annual touchdown safari. ... Galloway is perhaps the least-consistent good fantasy receiver around, and as I mentioned earlier, I wouldn't suddenly expect Jeff Garcia to go commando and fling it 50 yards a pop. But Galloway is a fantastic run-and-catch guy, and I think he'll score on Sunday. ... For the moment I've got Fitzgerald higher than Boldin, but Boldin high enough that I think he'll play. The damper on this is that Tim Rattay would appear to be the Cardinals' quarterback, unless Kurt Warner makes a (dare I say it?) miraculous recovery from a torn ligament in his non-throwing elbow. Washington's defense is quite a bit better this year, though if Rattay remains upright, he'll get some yardage. ... I haven't heard much on Javon Walker, other than that he thinks he'll be able to play against Pittsburgh on Sunday but won't know anything for sure until he's undergone a week of practice. Jay Cutler certainly needs Walker badly. I'm a big booster normally, but I don't trust this knee of his. It sounds like it might be a problem all year. ... Was Santana Moss distracted Sunday because of his injuries? He played one of the worst games a wide receiver has had in 2007, tipping an easy reception for an interception and dropping a reverse that the Packers returned for a touchdown. He told reporters he pulled himself from the game because of a cramp and not because of anything serious, but still, it was a pretty gutless performance. For the moment, I've got Randle El ranked and Moss not, but that'll change if it's clear Moss will play. ... I guess Booker benefits a bit from Chris Chambers getting dealt from Miami to San Diego, but you have to believe the Fins also want to take a long look at Ted Ginn Jr. and Derek Hagan. Booker is ownable in deeper leagues, but I doubt he'll be a consistent contributor. ... Darrell Jackson got himself dropped in my 16-team league, which is quite an insult (Priest Holmes is owned in that league). Alex Smith will probably play against the Giants, which restores some of Jackson's fantasy value, but hey, if an offense steadfastly refuses to throw the ball downfield, I can't blame folks for abandoning even as talented a guy as Jackson. ... There's still a chance Andre Johnson could play this week; in fact, coach Gary Kubiak told reporters Tuesday he was relatively optimistic it could happen. I haven't ranked AJ just yet (and have Andre Davis as my top Texans receiver), but I may change my mind Friday.

Week 7 Tight End Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Dallas ClarkColts@JAC
2Jason WittenCowboysMIN
3Tony GonzalezChiefs@OAK
4Chris CooleyRedskinsARI
5Owen DanielsTexansTEN
6Jeremy ShockeyGiantsSF
7Heath MillerSteelers@DEN
8Eric JohnsonSaintsATL
9Desmond ClarkBears@PHI
10Chris BakerJets@CIN
11Greg OlsenBears@PHI
12Bo ScaifeTitans@HOU
13Marcus PollardSeahawksSTL
14Randy McMichaelRams@SEA
15Vernon Davis49ers@NYG
16Marcedes LewisJaguarsIND
17Alge CrumplerFalcons@NO
18Todd HeapRavens@BUF
19L.J. SmithEaglesCHI
20Alex SmithBuccaneers@DET
21Leonard PopeCardinals@WAS
22Zach MillerRaidersKC
23David MartinDolphinsNE
24Kyle BradyPatriots@MIA
25Sean McHughLionsTB
26Quinn Sypniewski Ravens@BUF
27John MadsenRaidersKC
28Daniel GrahamBroncosPIT

(Bye-Week Notables: Antonio Gates, Kellen Winslow, Donald Lee, Bubba Franks, Jeff King)

Notes: Without Gates or Winslow around, the question became: Dallas Clark or Jason Witten? While I have Clark higher because he has five touchdowns to Witten's four, you can't really go wrong with either. Tony Gonzalez is making a move on the outside, as well. He's gotten 14 and 10 targets in Kansas City's past two games. ... Cooley, too, makes a quality starter. He's scored a touchdown in each of Washington's past four contests. ... Olsen has outpaced Desmond Clark in targets each of the past two games, but not by much, and Clark still looks like a slightly better red zone target. They're both usable, but it's hard not to dream of Olsen as a starter by himself. Bears fans may get that wish as soon as 2008. ... It sounds like Vernon Davis will finally return this week, just in time for Alex Smith not to throw the ball to him. Nevertheless, if Davis comes through practice well this week, I'll probably bump him up to starter-worthy.

Week 7 Kicker Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Nick FolkCowboysMIN
2Stephen GostkowskiPatriots@MIA
3Adam VinatieriColts@JAC
4Matt StoverRavens@BUF
5Kris BrownTexansTEN
6Jeff ReedSteelers@DEN
7David AkersEaglesCHI
8Jason ElamBroncosPIT
9Jay FeelyDolphinsNE
10Shayne GrahamBengalsNYJ
11Jason HansonLionsTB
12Neil RackersCardinals@WAS
13Ryan LongwellVikings@DAL
14John CarneyJaguarsIND
15Morten AndersenFalcons@NO
16Rob BironasTitans@HOU
17Robbie GouldBears@PHI
18Lawrence TynesGiantsSF
19Shaun SuishamRedskinsARI
20Josh BrownSeahawksSTL
21Jeff WilkinsRams@SEA
22Sebastian JanikowskiRaidersKC
23Matt BryantBuccaneers@DET
24Olindo MareSaintsATL
25Joe Nedney49ers@NYG
26Mike NugentJets@CIN
27Dave RaynerChiefs@OAK
28Rian LindellBillsBAL

(Bye-Week Notables: Mason Crosby, Nate Kaeding, John Kasay, Phil Dawson)

Notes: Akers missed what were perhaps the two ugliest kicks of his career Sunday, but with the Eagles regularly stalling deep in the opponent's territory, he'll keep getting chances. ... Who are the first candidates to kick in a blinding snowstorm? How about Jeff Reed and Jason Elam this week in Denver? Which begs the question: How many times have World Series games been canceled on account of blizzard? Who's got custody of Bowie Kuhn's short-sleeved shirt, anyway? ... John Carney gets a big nod from me if only because of his sneaky onside kick Sunday, which he himself recovered.

Week 7 Defense Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1BaltimoreRavens@BUF
2New EnglandPatriots@MIA
3PittsburghSteelers@DEN
4New YorkGiantsSF
5WashingtonRedskinsARI
6Tampa BayBuccaneers@DET
7ChicagoBears@PHI
8PhiladelphiaEaglesCHI
9SeattleSeahawksSTL
10TennesseeTitans@HOU
11Kansas CityChiefs@OAK
12HoustonTexansTEN
13DallasCowboysMIN
14MinnesotaVikings@DAL
15BuffaloBillsBAL
16OaklandRaidersKC
17New OrleansSaintsATL
18JacksonvilleJaguarsIND
19IndianapolisColts@JAC
20DenverBroncosPIT
21AtlantaFalcons@NO
22DetroitLionsTB
23ArizonaCardinals@WAS
24CincinnatiBengalsNYJ
25St. LouisRams@SEA
26New York.Jets@CIN
27San Francisco49ers@NYG
28MiamiDolphinsNE

(Bye-Week Notables: Green Bay, San Diego, Carolina, Cleveland)

Notes: It gives me the shudders to rank the Giants this high; I still don't like their back seven very much, but it's hard to argue with the results. True, they've benefited from some sweet matchups over the past few weeks, but it's not hard to imagine them walking all over the Niners offense on Sunday. ... Ditto Washington, which hasn't been anywhere near my top five all season. Upon review of Sunday's game in Green Bay, however, I was impressed at the pressure that once-beleaguered front line got on Favre & Co., and getting rid of Adam Archuleta was one of the smartest things Redskins owner Dan Snyder ever allowed his coaches to do. (Signing Archuleta? Another story entirely, right Bears fans?) ... Neither do I enjoy endorsing Seattle's mediocre defense as a starting unit for Week 7, but the matchup says "go." Sure, Marc Bulger is back, but Seattle's real troubles rest with stopping the run, and Steven Jackson isn't close to ready. ... Normally I have the Vikings quite a lot higher, but the secondary in Minnesota has fallen apart lately. Antoine Winfield & Co. seem to be far more concerned about helping in run support than, like, covering people.

Don't forget to read The Breakdown on Fridays for more detailed thoughts on every team and every game.

Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com.

You can e-mail him here.

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