- Christopher Harris, Fantasy
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Notes: Rarely does a mismatch like Giants/Dolphins come along that meets blowout expectations; nobody's operating under the assumption that the Giants are a truly elite team, and they absolutely could have a letdown in London. But I don't care: You still have to love Eli Manning's potential this week. As you'll see, I've even got Amani Toomer very high in the receiver rankings. That Miami secondary is injured and awful. I can honestly say this is the first time I've ranked Eli ahead of his big bro. ... Roethlisberger was terribly spotty in the first half against Denver last week, but Cincinnati's pass defense is there to be shredded. ... Griese is playing pretty well. He seems to hit one long throw a game, and otherwise it's just enough dink-and-dunk to make him usable. Detroit's defense has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the last five contests. ... I'm not in full panic mode over Kitna. Mike Martz hasn't suddenly changed his stripes; that Tampa game was kind of a fluke. The Bucs dominated time of possession but still trailed, so whenever the Lions got the ball, it was incumbent upon them to burn clock. Just when you think MartzBall has turned conservative, he'll unleash the hounds. ... Brees has won two straight for New Orleans, but he didn't look as strong against Atlanta as he did in Seattle. He missed some throws and made a few poor decisions, things he never seemed to do in '06. I'm still waiting to start him if I've got an alternative. ... Vince Young will play in Oakland. Wait, is that a good thing? After decent days in Weeks 2 and 3, Young submitted games of 2 and zero fantasy points, respectively, thereafter. The Raiders have allowed among the fewest points to opposing quarterbacks. I'm benching him if I can. ... I won't be surprised to hear Josh McCown is starting for Culpepper if he's healthy enough. Boy, Daunte stinks. His lack of mobility is really hurting him, and he's so wildly inaccurate, it's like he's Quinn Gray West.
Notes: Tomlinson will go batty this week. Houston has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing backs over their last three games, and LDT is red-hot. ... Lynch didn't produce massive numbers against the Ravens, but boy, the kid runs hard. I love him this week against a Jets' front four that seems beyond listless. ... I feel good about jumping aboard the LenDale White Express early. He has four touchdowns in six games, and has carved out a very nice role for himself, even if Chris Brown does return to action. There's nothing wrong with being Jeff Fisher's battering ram. Fisher employs the ram a lot. ... Addai evidently will continue to lose carries to Kenton Keith, which caps his fantasy value a bit. Nevertheless, I don't think this will turn into a Dominic-Rhodes-style situation, so for me Addai is still a No. 1 rusher. ... I'm assuming Jones-Drew comes away from his knee sprain Monday night perfectly fine. If not, Fred Taylor would jump. ... I've spent about a month talking bad about Benson; he hasn't topped 67 yards in five games. He has a banged-up knee, but should play in a sweet match-up against the Lions. Of course, last time out against Detroit, he carried it 15 times for 50 yards and no scores. Honestly, I'm waiting for the Bears to use their Adrian Peterson more, but for now, you have to start Benson. ... Gore toughed it out against the Giants with a bad ankle, and he'll go against the Saints. New Orleans is fourth-best against opposing fantasy backs over the last month, so it's no picnic, but Gore is always a better-than-even chance to punch one in. ... Steven Jackson returns, and it's against a weak Cleveland rush defense. Of course, he'll be running behind one of the most injured O-lines in recent history. I think he'll produce well enough to start, but we'll certainly know more about his potential for the rest of this year after Week 8. ... Henry has badly bruised ribs. He should play, but I'd be surprised if he gets a full accompaniment of carries Monday night. ... I called Graham's big day last week, but I'm not so sanguine about him facing a riled-up Jaguars defense. That said, Michael Bennett probably isn't stealing too many touches yet. ... When last we left "As The Panthers Turn," DeAngelo Williams was posting 121 yards rushing, though most of those came on a late garbage-time run. DeShaun Foster, meanwhile, was busy carrying it 17 times for 43 yards, and in his last three games, has a 3.2 yards-per-carry average. For now, Foster's the starter and deserves the higher ranking. For now. ... Chatman, it should go without saying, needs to be owned in all leagues. Against the Giants in London, he's a marginal No. 2 RB start, but he'll have better days. The Miami O-line has been the team's lone bright spot. ... I haven't given up on Maroney yet. The Pats know they'll need him against the Colts, Ravens and Steelers. So they're easing him ever so gently back into action.
Notes: Burress doesn't practice, but it doesn't matter. Sure, Plax didn't score for the first time last week, but he figures to swallow that Miami secondary whole. ... Wayne put on a show Monday night. With Harrison playing fewer snaps than expected, it was left to Robin to make up for Batman's absence. Peyton Manning threw it Wayne's way 13 times, and Reggie caught nine of 'em. ... Minnesota "held" Dallas to 253 yards passing last week, which was actually a minor victory. Expect Philly's short aerial game to take its toll on a sub-par group of safeties, which sounds like a perfect recipe for another big Kevin Curtis run after catch. ... I've given in. For as long as the Patriots go Air Coryell on everyone, Welker and Stallworth should be in your starting lineup. ... Colston has just four catches the last two weeks, a fact at least partly attributable to his bad back. He'll play against the Niners, but he'll get attention from Nate Clements. ... If I had any guts, I'd rank Hilliard ahead of Galloway. Ike has 28 catches in his last four games, while Joey has 14. Um, that's double. Of course, Hilliard is benefiting from plentiful Galloway double-teams, and one of these guys runs like the wind while the other runs like, well, me. That and the fact that the Jags play a lot of man forces me to put Galloway a bit higher. ... I can all but guarantee this is the highest I've ever ranked Amani Toomer. But who'll cover him Sunday? The disgraced Jason Allen will be starting again in Miami's secondary, now at strong safety (making him one of the least-strong strong safeties in the biz), Lance Schulters (remember him?) was just signed off the street, and there isn't a corner on this roster who can cover a decent receiver one-on-one. ... Andre Johnson sits again, allowing Andre' Davis to keep his starting gig for a couple more weeks. I know Kevin Walter has out-produced Davis lately, but Walter was on his way to a poor day before Houston rallied late. The Texans' offense is designed to get AJ this ball, and AD is in that role for now. ... Chambers makes his Chargers' debut, and my logic says if Norv Turner had been happy with Vincent Jackson as his No. 1, he wouldn't have made this move. So Chambers gets the higher slot for now.
Notes: At some point, haggling over the Nos. 2 and 3 spots in a position rank is so much hot air, but I pushed Dallas Clark above Kellen Winslow this week, by sheer dint of the fact that Clark is in Gates Country as far as being used like a wideout. ... Heath Miller scored twice last week, and Cincy is notoriously vulnerable to tight ends, especially considering their linebacker problems. ... McMichael is McRising a bit. That's largely due to a good match against Cleveland, who allows the third-most fantasy points to tight ends. ... Benjamin Watson should be out again, so Kyle Brady once again should be a threat in the red zone. ... Donald Lee has had fumbling issues in the past, but with Bubba Franks hurt, Lee has a chance to be a starting fantasy tight end soon. Denver is also vulnerable to the tight end, as the three scores (two by Miller, one by Matt Spaeth) they allowed to Pittsburgh's group last week illustrates. ... Zach Miller got nine targets against Kansas City last week, catching four for 48 yards. Only the idle Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez got more looks at this position in Week 7.
(Bye-Week Notables: Baltimore, Dallas, Seattle, Kansas City, Arizona, Atlanta)
Notes: I found myself apologizing for rating the Giants fourth among fantasy defenses last week, and they turned in the second-best score of the week. So I'm not apologizing for putting them first against the Lemon/Chatman/Booker Dolphins in London. ... The Titans were on their way to another decisive defensive performance before Sage Rosenfels went nutty in the fourth quarter last week. You know how earlier I mentioned how poorly Daunte Culpepper is playing? Expect that to matter here. ... The Saints mustered 18 fantasy points on defense two weeks ago, but just four against a shaky Atlanta offense last week. However, the Niners have allowed opposing fantasy defenses to score 17 or more points against them in three of San Francisco's last four contests. ... The Steelers dip below the Starter Mendoza Line this week, in part because Cincinnati's offense has posted some very big games against them in recent years, and in part because the unit has looked less-than-vicious in its last two roadies, at Arizona and at Denver. ... Believe it or not, the Browns could make a passable bye-week defense, given the fact that they get to rush the passer against the worst offensive line around. St. Louis will probably score some, but Cleveland will generate some fantasy points. ... Giants first, Dolphins 26th. Gee, I wonder who I'll pick to win that game.
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Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com.
You can e-mail him here.
Christopher Harris provides his player rankings and rationale for Week 8 of the NFL season.