Commentary

The Big Rotowski: Week 14 Player Rankings

Updated: December 5, 2007, 6:27 PM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

Week 14 Quarterback Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Tony RomoCowboys@DET
2Peyton ManningColts@BAL
3Tom BradyPatriotsPIT
4Brett FavrePackersOAK
5Derek AndersonBrowns@NYJ
6Matt HasselbeckSeahawksARI
7Ben RoethlisbergerSteelers@NE
8Carson PalmerBengalsSTL
9Marc BulgerRams@CIN
10Drew BreesSaints@ATL
11Jeff GarciaBuccaneers@HOU
12Kurt WarnerCardinals@SEA
13Vince YoungTitansSD
14Jon KitnaLionsDAL
15Donovan McNabbEaglesNYG
16Jason CampbellRedskinsCHI
17David GarrardJaguarsCAR
18Eli ManningGiants@PHI
19Jay CutlerBroncosKC
20Rex GrossmanBears@WAS
21Kyle BollerRavensIND
22Tarvaris JacksonVikings@SF
23Trent Dilfer49ersMIN
24Philip RiversChargers@TEN
25Kellen ClemensJetsCLE
26Sage RosenfelsTexansTB
27Chris RedmanFalconsNO
28Josh McCownRaiders@GB
29Brodie CroyleChiefs@DEN
30Vinny TestaverdePanthers@JAC
31Trent EdwardsBillsMIA
32John BeckDolphins@BUF

Notes: The recently anointed Sportsman of the Year, Mr. Favre, is expected to play despite injuries to his nonthrowing shoulder and his throwing forearm. The Raiders have consistently been the second-toughest team against the pass all year, but I have to believe at home coming off a terrible game, Favre will produce. ... The Rams have gotten a lot stingier overall on defense, but losing top corner Tye Hill for the season hurts the effort against Palmer and his band of Bengals. ... Bulger passed his concussion exam, and is cleared to play. ... I've assumed Garcia will play; he swears up and down that's the case. But his back is still the subject of great consternation, and just because he begins a game doesn't mean he's necessarily going to end it. He's a high-upside, risky start in the fantasy playoffs. ... I'm not particularly fond of Warner's matchup. Seattle has stiffened against the pass since the Cleveland game, and Warner will be without Anquan Boldin (while Larry Fitzgerald may not be in peak condition). ... Let's face it: I may be the world's foremost Vince Young apologist. Every time he looks good, I bump him way up. He looked terrific against Houston in Week 13. When he can be a steady, consistent pocket passer, he's got such awesome upside, because teams can't cheat toward the line as much, freeing him up for those patented scrambles and draws. ... Kitna spoke harshly of Dallas' defense when the Lions shocked the Cowboys late in 2006, and the Cowboys remember. The thing that saves Kitna's value, such as it is, is that Mike Martz is living out his own private fantasy of never ever rushing the ball. ... McNabb should return for A.J. Feeley, just in time to face a Giants defense that sacked him 12 times in Week 4 (albeit when Winston Justice was playing left tackle for the Eagles). ... I thought Eli Manning actually played a worse game in Chicago than he did in the four-interception tilt against the Vikings. He saved the Giants' bacon with a fourth-quarter rally, but before that looked gun-shy and inaccurate. ... Grossman makes a sneaky start Thursday against a thoroughly exhausted and undermanned Redskins defense. ... I don't feel great about using him, but Tarvaris Jackson is 28-of-36 for 333 yards, three touchdowns and one pick his past two games. ... Rosenfels will almost certainly start for Matt Schaub, and early indications are that Bobby Petrino is leaning toward Chris Redman.

Week 14 Running Back Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1LaDainian TomlinsonChargers@TEN
2Ryan GrantPackersOAK
3Adrian PetersonVikings@SF
4Earnest GrahamBuccaneers@HOU
5Brian WestbrookEaglesNYG
6Steven JacksonRams@CIN
7Willis McGaheeRavensIND
8Jamal LewisBrowns@NYJ
9Kolby SmithChiefs@DEN
10Edgerrin JamesCardinals@SEA
11Marion BarberCowboys@DET
12Joseph AddaiColts@BAL
13Maurice Jones-DrewJaguarsCAR
14Reggie BushSaints@ATL
15Willie ParkerSteelers@NE
16Adrian PetersonBears@WAS
17Clinton PortisRedskinsCHI
18Justin FargasRaiders@GB
19Brandon JacobsGiants@PHI
20LenDale WhiteTitansSD
21Frank Gore49ersMIN
22Rudi JohnsonBengalsSTL
23Travis HenryBroncosKC
24Marshawn LynchBillsMIA
25Jesse ChatmanDolphins@BUF
26Fred TaylorJaguarsCAR
27Shaun AlexanderSeahawksARI
28Laurence MaroneyPatriotsPIT
29Ladell BettsRedskinsCHI
30Chester TaylorVikings@SF
31Selvin YoungBroncosKC
32Thomas JonesJetsCLE
33Jerious NorwoodFalconsNO
34Maurice MorrisSeahawksARI
35Chris BrownTitansSD
36Julius JonesCowboys@DET
37Ron DayneTexansTB
38Kevin JonesLionsDAL
39Reuben DroughnsGiants@PHI
40Warrick DunnFalconsNO
41DeShaun FosterPanthers@JAC
42Fred JacksonBillsMIA
43DeAngelo WilliamsPanthers@JAC
44Aaron SteckerSaints@ATL
45Kenny WatsonBengalsSTL
46Kevin FaulkPatriotsPIT
47Leon WashingtonJetsCLE
48Kenton KeithColts@BAL
49Adimchinobi EchemanduTexansTB
50Leonard WeaverSeahawksARI

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Notes: I know Albert Haynesworth has returned for the Titans defense, but Tomlinson is hitting his stride. There's no other back I'd rather have for the fantasy playoffs right now. ... Surprise entry at my No. 2 spot: Ryan Grant. I'm not misled by his output against Dallas; his 62-yard touchdown was the result of some terrible Cowboys tackling, and otherwise he amassed 32 yards on 13 carries. But the Raiders rush defense is a king-maker. ... I'll take Graham this week, too, against an abysmal Texans rush defense that's failed to yield 100 yards rushing only once since Week 4. ... McGahee's ankle looked dandy against the Patriots. No worries there. ... Lewis hurt his ribs in the first half against Arizona in Week 13, but returned and should be OK to go. ... Kolby Smith is for real, which once again proves how easy it is to find NFL-caliber rushers. Nothing against Kolby, but this dude was horrible in the preseason, and is a fifth-round rookie. Also, Denver is back to its generous ways against fantasy backs. ... Seattle has allowed nine rushing scores the past five weeks, second-most in football (after Oakland's 10). That makes James a very nice start. ... A month ago, I rated Addai my favorite overall fantasy football player for the season's second half, but that was before injuries and lethargy befell the Colts. I'll admit it: Marvin Harrison's knee has sapped value from just about everyone on this team except Reggie Wayne. ... Bush gets an extra day before the Monday night game, and his leg injury didn't feel nearly as bad in Week 13. Still, he's not 100 percent. ... I'm done waiting for Parker. You have to keep starting him, and McGahee sure made the Pats' rush defense look vulnerable. But something is wrong with the Steelers' run game. Maybe it's nothing that a non-quagmire game won't fix (giggity-giggity), but I've reduced my touchdown expectations. ... The health situation that could affect the most fantasy playoff games this week is whether Portis can play on Thursday. He had to leave in the fourth quarter against Buffalo with an ankle injury, and of course, it's a short week. I haven't heard anything conclusive on the situation, but Ladell Betts would get bumped up to Portis' spot against a shaky Bears rush defense. ... It sounds like Jacobs will return just as Derrick Ward broke his leg, and is out for the year. Still, those relying on Jacobs' health over the season's final four games are due for a letdown. ... Henry won his appeal not because he didn't smoke pot, but because the NFL admitted it made mistakes handling his testing. As such, Henry will be in the NFL's drug program for another year (he was due to be out of it right around now), meaning one more "second-hand smoke" incident, and he's a goner. He's probably the leading Denver back Week 14, but don't assume he's invulnerable. He looked crummy but vultured two touchdowns Week 13 in Oakland. ... I assume Lynch will return, but I'm skeptical he'll get a full load Sunday.

Week 14 Wide Receiver Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Terrell OwensCowboys@DET
2Braylon EdwardsBrowns@NYJ
3Reggie WayneColts@BAL
4Randy MossPatriotsPIT
5Torry HoltRams@CIN
6Chad JohnsonBengalsSTL
7Marques ColstonSaints@ATL
8T.J. HoushmandzadehBengalsSTL
9Greg JenningsPackersOAK
10Bobby EngramSeahawksARI
11Larry FitzgeraldCardinals@SEA
12Joey GallowayBuccaneers@HOU
13Andre JohnsonTexansTB
14Wes WelkerPatriotsPIT
15Roddy WhiteFalconsNO
16Deion BranchSeahawksARI
17Hines WardSteelers@NE
18Patrick CraytonCowboys@DET
19Donald DriverPackersOAK
20Bernard BerrianBears@WAS
21Calvin JohnsonLionsDAL
22Derrick MasonRavensIND
23Brandon MarshallBroncosKC
24Plaxico BurressGiants@PHI
25Kevin CurtisEaglesNYG
26Chris HenryBengalsSTL
27Mike FurreyLionsDAL
28Justin GageTitansSD
29Laveranues ColesJetsCLE
30Dwayne BoweChiefs@DEN
31Steve SmithPanthers@JAC
32Shaun McDonaldLionsDAL
33Sidney RiceVikings@SF
34Bryant JohnsonCardinals@SEA
35Isaac BruceRams@CIN
36Arnaz Battle49ersMIN
37Anthony GonzalezColts@BAL
38Lee EvansBillsMIA
39Donte' StallworthPatriotsPIT
40Santana MossRedskinsCHI
41Jerry PorterRaiders@GB
42Nate BurlesonSeahawksARI
43Muhsin MuhammadBears@WAS
44Kevin WalterTexansTB
45Chris ChambersChargers@TEN
46Brandon StokleyBroncosKC
47Reggie BrownEaglesNYG
48Amani ToomerGiants@PHI
49Reggie WilliamsJaguarsCAR
50Joe JureviciusBrowns@NYJ

Notes: Chad Johnson has pushed beyond his teammate Houshmandzadeh on this list again. Suddenly Carson Palmer has rediscovered "7-11," having targeted Johnson more than Housh in each of the past two games. Johnson also seems to be the new primary red zone target. They're both great options against the Rams, of course. ... Engram started in only about half of ESPN.com leagues Week 13. Get with the program, people! Engram ranks 17th in fantasy points (tied with Roddy White) among receivers for the year, and he's second in targets in the entire NFL over the past five weeks, just one behind Braylon Edwards. He's a starter in all leagues. ... I've ranked Fitzgerald as though he'll be able to go with his balky groin. If he can't, Bryant Johnson zooms about 15 spots up this chart. ... Galloway proved me wrong in Week 13; I contended that because Luke McCown was Tampa's quarterback, Galloway wouldn't turn in a big day. Seven catches and 159 yards later? Oops. ... In these rankings, I've guessed Santonio Holmes won't play because of his high-ankle sprain, though the Steelers have said they're hopeful (that's what they said Week 13, too). Maybe I should have Hines Ward higher, but I've got a feeling Ben Roethlisberger spreads it around a little more against New England. ... I keep saying this, but watch Bernard Berrian. He's a free-agent-to-be, has a healthy receiver schedule the rest of the way (@WAS, @MIN, GB, NO) and is clearly on the same page as Rex Grossman. ... With Roy Williams out (possibly for the season), Calvin Johnson takes over as the Lions' top target. He's getting healthy at the right time, and makes a very promising start against a Dallas secondary suspect against balls down the deep middle (Brett Favre's hopeless Thursday-night heaves notwithstanding). Furrey gets the start opposite Megatron, and McDonald is startable in deeper leagues, too. ... Burress is just the 26th-leading fantasy receiver over the past five weeks, a far cry from his six-game touchdown streak to begin the year. ... As Vince Young's accuracy goes, so goes Gage. As I said last week, he's the only Titans pass-catcher without serious hands issues, and he's a top-20 fantasy receiver the past three weeks. ... Sidney isn't the first guy named Rice to visit San Francisco as an up-and-coming receiver, but he's still too callow for me to rely on in the fantasy playoffs. ... In the same game, I'd have Battle higher, but I'm worried about his ankle. He might not play.

Week 14 Tight End Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Kellen WinslowBrowns@NYJ
2Antonio GatesChargers@TEN
3Jason WittenCowboys@DET
4Dallas ClarkColts@BAL
5Jeremy ShockeyGiants@PHI
6Chris CooleyRedskinsCHI
7Donald LeePackersOAK
8Owen DanielsTexansTB
9Benjamin WatsonPatriotsPIT
10Tony GonzalezChiefs@DEN
11Alge CrumplerFalconsNO
12Heath MillerSteelers@NE
13Marcedes LewisJaguarsCAR
14Tony SchefflerBroncosKC
15L.J. SmithEaglesNYG
16Zach MillerRaiders@GB
17Leonard PopeCardinals@SEA
18Vernon Davis49ersMIN
19Greg OlsenBears@WAS
20Desmond ClarkBears@WAS
21Eric JohnsonSaints@ATL
22Randy McMichaelRams@CIN
23Jeff KingPanthers@JAC
24Bo ScaifeTitansSD
25Chris BakerJetsCLE
26Ben UtechtColts@BAL
27Quinn SypniewskiRavensIND
28Alex SmithBuccaneers@HOU
29Will HellerSeahawksARI
30Robert RoyalBillsMIA
31Reggie KellyBengalsSTL
32Jerramy StevensBuccaneers@HOU

Notes: At this point in the year, you shouldn't have too many internal debates about your starting tight end. ... Tony Gonzalez would much rather see Damon Huard in there than Brodie Croyle, but that's not going to happen, so I've bumped Gonzo down a few notches. ... Crumpler got 12 targets and caught seven passes Week 13, both season highs, so you'd have to believe he'd be glad if Chris Redman gets the call. ... Marcedes Lewis got a vulture score in Indianapolis, and as I said this past week, he's about the only tight end game in town for a Jacksonville offense that likes to play close to the vest. ... I got asked this week in a chat who is my favorite Miller: Zach or Heath. I still have to rank Heath higher, though he's been ice-cold through the sloppy Steelers games. Rookie Zach is making a fine impression in Oakland. ... I know Des Clark was the man both in overtime against Denver and Week 13 against the Giants, but I've decided to stay away from the Chicago tight end situation altogether without Brian Griese in there.

Week 14 Kicker Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Nick FolkCowboys@DET
2Rob BironasTitansSD
3Mason CrosbyPackersOAK
4Jeff ReedSteelers@NE
5Matt StoverRavensIND
6Shayne GrahamBengalsSTL
7Stephen GostkowskiPatriotsPIT
8Josh BrownSeahawksARI
9Kris BrownTexansTB
10Adam VinatieriColts@BAL
11Jason HansonLionsDAL
12David AkersEaglesNYG
13Jason ElamBroncosKC
14Robbie GouldBears@WAS
15Neil RackersCardinals@SEA
16Phil DawsonBrowns@NYJ
17Nate KaedingChargers@TEN
18Lawrence TynesGiants@PHI
19John KasayPanthers@JAC
20Jeff WilkinsRams@CIN
21Ryan LongwellVikings@SF
22Sebastian JanikowskiRaiders@GB
23Shaun SuishamRedskinsCHI
24Josh ScobeeJaguarsCAR
25Joe Nedney49ersMIN
26Morten AndersenFalconsNO
27Rian LindellBillsMIA
28Matt BryantBuccaneers@HOU
29John CarneyChiefs@DEN
30Olindo MareSaints@ATL
31Mike NugentJetsCLE
32Jay FeelyDolphins@BUF

Week 14 Defense Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1JacksonvilleJaguarsCAR
2MinnesotaVikings@SF
3Green BayPackersOAK
4SeattleSeahawksARI
5Tampa BayBuccaneers@HOU
6IndianapolisColts@BAL
7New YorkGiants@PHI
8San DiegoChargers@TEN
9TennesseeTitansSD
10DallasCowboys@DET
11PhiladelphiaEaglesNYG
12New EnglandPatriotsPIT
13ChicagoBears@WAS
14BuffaloBillsMIA
15WashingtonRedskinsCHI
16New OrleansSaints@ATL
17DenverBroncosKC
18PittsburghSteelers@NE
19HoustonTexansTB
20New York.JetsCLE
21BaltimoreRavensIND
22CincinnatiBengalsSTL
23St. LouisRams@CIN
24MiamiDolphins@BUF
25CarolinaPanthers@JAC
26San Francisco49ersMIN
27Kansas CityChiefs@DEN
28ArizonaCardinals@SEA
29ClevelandBrowns@NYJ
30AtlantaFalconsNO
31OaklandRaiders@GB
32DetroitLionsDAL

Notes: Another week, another weird top of this list. The Vikings continued to perform well for me against Detroit, so I'll give 'em another nod against the Niners. The Jags scored negative fantasy points against the Colts (to the surprise of few), but I won't hold that against them when they play the limping Panthers. Seattle, Tampa Bay and Indianapolis are all in the top six all because I'd rather avoid the one-game defensive meltdown in your fantasy playoffs that can occur because of a bad matchup. ... Steelers, Ravens, Patriots and Bears are all outside my top 11. Eesh.

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.