Commentary

The Big Rotowski: Week 16 Player Rankings

Updated: December 19, 2007, 9:12 PM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

Week 16 Quarterback Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Tom BradyPatriotsMIA
2Brett FavrePackers@CHI
3Tony RomoCowboys@CAR
4Peyton ManningColtsHOU
5Derek AndersonBrowns@CIN
6Ben RoethlisbergerSteelers@STL
7Matt HasselbeckSeahawksBAL
8Kurt WarnerCardinalsATL
9Carson PalmerBengalsCLE
10Drew BreesSaintsPHI
11David GarrardJaguarsOAK
12Donovan McNabbEagles@NO
13Jeff GarciaBuccaneers@SF
14Jon KitnaLionsKC
15Vince YoungTitansNYJ
16Marc BulgerRamsPIT
17Eli ManningGiants@BUF
18Philip RiversChargersDEN
19Brodie CroyleChiefs@DET
20Todd CollinsRedskins@MIN
21Trent EdwardsBillsNYG
22Sage RosenfelsTexans@IND
23Tarvaris JacksonVikingsWAS
24Shaun Hill49ersTB
25Chris RedmanFalcons@ARI
26Jay CutlerBroncos@SD
27Chad PenningtonJets@TEN
28Kyle BollerRavens@SEA
29Matt MoorePanthersDAL
30Josh McCownRaiders@JAC
31Cleo LemonDolphins@NE
32Kyle OrtonBearsGB

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Notes: Romo's thumb is the big story Saturday night. As of this writing, he hadn't done much more in practice than lob lollipops, but right now I believe he'll play in Carolina, and play well. The Panthers did a fine job shutting down the Seahawks this past week, but Dallas' pass offense is light years away from West Coast, and Carolina has still allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks. … Warner isn't playing all that well, but the Cardinals are very willing to throw in the red zone (witness two scores in Week 15 to obscure tight ends), and Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are both going to play against the reeling Falcons. Warner does have 10 fumbles on the season, and is riskier than he should be considering how much he passes, but still, he's eminently startable. … Brees showed his midrange side against the Cardinals, and threw nine fewer passes than his average, but the Saints are primarily a passing team, so even a game against an Eagles secondary that's playing its best right now isn't enough to keep you from starting the Saints' signal-caller. … McNabb hung Pam Oliver out to dry on her report that he's contemplating life after Philly, but how could he not be? The Eagles have good coaches and Brian Westbrook, and that's it. The O-line is old, the front seven is below average and the receivers are complementary parts. Obviously, teams get good fast in the NFL, so it's possible Philly surprises me, but I think the Eagles are rebuilding next year. McNabb has a really good chance of being somewhere else, and the Eagles are dumb for not giving Kevin Kolb a look. But they won't, and McNabb has a super-tasty matchup against the terrible Saints pass defense. … Garcia didn't do anything against the Falcons, but don't hold it against him: The defense and special teams each scored early, the score was 14-3 six minutes in, and there wasn't much reason to throw. Clearly, Earnest Graham is the more valuable property, but the Niners have allowed eight touchdown passes and picked off just four balls in their past five games. … I have Croyle as high as I do strictly because the Lions have quit on defense. The Chiefs have to realize Croyle isn't the guy long term, but they let him throw it 43 times this past week, and he did zip in a few nice long ones. … Rosenfels could very well be a starting quarterback in my 16-team league's title game Sunday (if Romo can't go). The Colts are missing a ton of people up front, but the corners and Bob Sanders are OK, which means as well as he played last Thursday, I can't endorse ol' Sage.

Week 16 Running Back Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1LaDainian TomlinsonChargersDEN
2Steven JacksonRamsPIT
3Ryan GrantPackers@CHI
4Joseph AddaiColtsHOU
5Earnest GrahamBuccaneers@SF
6Brian WestbrookEagles@NO
7LenDale WhiteTitansNYJ
8Adrian PetersonVikingsWAS
9Fred TaylorJaguarsOAK
10Willis McGaheeRavens@SEA
11Brandon JacobsGiants@BUF
12Jamal LewisBrowns@CIN
13Kolby SmithChiefs@DET
14Willie ParkerSteelers@STL
15Marion BarberCowboys@CAR
16Maurice Jones-DrewJaguarsOAK
17Marshawn LynchBillsNYG
18Laurence MaroneyPatriotsMIA
19Edgerrin JamesCardinalsATL
20Rudi JohnsonBengalsCLE
21Frank Gore49ersTB
22Clinton PortisRedskins@MIN
23Kevin JonesLionsKC
24Ron DayneTexans@IND
25Dominic RhodesRaiders@JAC
26Aaron SteckerSaintsPHI
27Jerious NorwoodFalcons@ARI
28Selvin YoungBroncos@SD
29Chester TaylorVikingsWAS
30Adrian PetersonBearsGB
31Thomas JonesJets@TEN
32DeAngelo WilliamsPanthersDAL
33Samkon GadoDolphins@NE
34Travis HenryBroncos@SD
35Reggie BushSaintsPHI
36Shaun AlexanderSeahawksBAL
37Fred JacksonBillsNYG
38Julius JonesCowboys@CAR
39Maurice MorrisSeahawksBAL
40DeShaun FosterPanthersDAL
41Warrick DunnFalcons@ARI
42Leon WashingtonJets@TEN
43LaMont JordanRaiders@JAC
44Ladell BettsRedskins@MIN
45Kenny WatsonBengalsCLE
46Reuben DroughnsGiants@BUF
47Darius WalkerTexans@IND
48Kenton KeithColtsHOU
49Kevin FaulkPatriotsMIA
50Chris BrownTitansNYJ

Notes: Steven Jackson looked just terrific against Green Bay, racking up 143 rush yards, and justifying his No. 2 overall selection in drafts this August (albeit too late). Is there a chance the Steelers shore up what ailed them against Jacksonville? There is. But in my mind, the probabilities are higher that Jackson continues his late-season roll. … I don't want to love Ryan Grant, because honestly, he's not this good. But defenses have to think pass-first against the Packers, and the Bears are down to rookies and street free agents on their D-line. … I have LenDale White rated highly, but beware the returning Chris Henry. There's dual potential for carry thefts in Tennessee again, though I'm hopeful White will get it rolling against the bad Jets rush D and do his damage early. … Jacobs returned from his near-disastrous late fumble against Chicago to be the best Giant on the field versus Washington Sunday night. He was imposing and pretty quick, and he gets a beaten-down Bills rush defense. The only concern is a possible tweaking of his ever-injured hammy. Keep an eye on him. … Oh, for heaven's sake: The Chiefs are talking about using Larry Johnson again? Eesh. I can't believe LJ will be back, but Kolby Smith's owners have to tune their antennae to the KC Web sites. Smith ran tough and effectively, if not explosively, against the Titans' ground D, and gets a far softer opponent in Detroit Sunday. … I know it's scary to have Jones-Drew this high, but Fred Taylor is higher, and frankly I think MJD is due for a score or two against the poor-tackling Oakland D. … Edgerrin James has eclipsed 100 yards once since Week 2, and has 17 or fewer carries in three of his past four, but the Falcons should give Arizona the opportunity to remember its early-season promises to become "Pittsburgh East" in smashmouth style. … I've guessed Rhodes will get the start over Jordan, though that won't be decided until the end of the week. Jordan has burned an awful lot of bridges by running his mouth. He won't be back by the Bay in 2008. … Stecker has been a fantasy star each of the past two weeks, but I've got him rated in flex territory because I've assumed Bush will return. If Bush misses this game, Stecker deserves to be well inside the top 20. … How many times in 2007 have I ranked Norwood above Dunn? And how many times have I written that finally this would be the week Atlanta's coaches would realize Norwood's the better player? Now Bobby Petrino is gone, and Emmitt Thomas saw proof that Norwood should be his back. I still think they'll split, but Norwood borders on flex-worthiness. … DeAngelo Williams scored a long touchdown against Seattle, but he didn't run particularly well before that. However, he did get 15 carries to Foster's 18. That kind of split makes Williams more valuable.

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Week 16 Wide Receiver Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Randy MossPatriotsMIA
2Marques ColstonSaintsPHI
3Braylon EdwardsBrowns@CIN
4Terrell OwensCowboys@CAR
5Reggie WayneColtsHOU
6Torry HoltRamsPIT
7Greg JenningsPackers@CHI
8Hines WardSteelers@STL
9Larry FitzgeraldCardinalsATL
10T.J. HoushmandzadehBengalsCLE
11Chad JohnsonBengalsCLE
12Brandon MarshallBroncos@SD
13Andre JohnsonTexans@IND
14Wes WelkerPatriotsMIA
15Plaxico BurressGiants@BUF
16Bobby EngramSeahawksBAL
17Joey GallowayBuccaneers@SF
18Roddy WhiteFalcons@ARI
19Deion BranchSeahawksBAL
20Shaun McDonaldLionsKC
21Donald DriverPackers@CHI
22Anquan BoldinCardinalsATL
23Santonio HolmesSteelers@STL
24Reggie WilliamsJaguarsOAK
25Steve SmithPanthersDAL
26Kevin CurtisEagles@NO
27Calvin JohnsonLionsKC
28Anthony GonzalezColtsHOU
29Patrick CraytonCowboys@CAR
30Lee EvansBillsNYG
31Jerricho CotcheryJets@TEN
32Chris HenryBengalsCLE
33Roydell WilliamsTitansNYJ
34Reggie BrownEagles@NO
35Derrick MasonRavens@SEA
36Bernard BerrianBearsGB
37Isaac BruceRamsPIT
38Arnaz Battle49ersTB
39Santana MossRedskins@MIN
40Dwayne BoweChiefs@DET
41Justin GageTitansNYJ
42David PattenSaintsPHI
43Jabar GaffneyPatriotsMIA
44Chris ChambersChargersDEN
45Kevin WalterTexans@IND
46Ronald CurryRaiders@JAC
47Mike FurreyLionsKC
48Ernest WilfordJaguarsOAK
49Nate BurlesonSeahawksBAL
50Jerry PorterRaiders@JAC

Notes: I love TO on national TV against the Panthers, and if Romo were right, I'd have Owens No. 1. … Holt is very high here, in part because Pittsburgh corner Ike Taylor has a dinged-up knee, and in part because the Steelers have struggled to put pressure on the quarterback. … Marshall needs to stay out of the news; he had legal troubles related to DUI case, and now he apparently got into a yelling match with a Broncos coach. Still, he's too scary a red zone threat not to start. … Chris McAlister is gone and Samari Rolle is doubtful, so both Engram and Branch are tremendous plays. The Ravens are out of serviceable defensive backs. … Donald Driver over Marques Colston for the Pro Bowl is the most egregious error made at any position. From a fantasy perspective, from a real-life perspective, it doesn't matter. … Anthony Gonzalez is still owned in only one-third of ESPN.com leagues. If you need a receiver for your championship game, I bet he's the best guy on your waiver wire. … Laveranues Coles got knocked out for the year by a training table falling on his foot, so Cotchery has to get a bump up. … Who'd have thought that in Week 16's fantasy football rankings, Shaun McDonald would be higher than Calvin Johnson, and with good reason?

Week 16 Tight End Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Jason WittenCowboys@CAR
2Antonio GatesChargersDEN
3Kellen WinslowBrowns@CIN
4Donald LeePackers@CHI
5Tony GonzalezChiefs@DET
6Tony SchefflerBroncos@SD
7Dallas ClarkColtsHOU
8Chris CooleyRedskins@MIN
9Owen DanielsTexans@IND
10Heath MillerSteelers@STL
11Vernon Davis49ersTB
12Greg OlsenBearsGB
13Eric JohnsonSaintsPHI
14Desmond ClarkBearsGB
15Marcedes LewisJaguarsOAK
16Alge CrumplerFalcons@ARI
17Chris BakerJets@TEN
18Zach MillerRaiders@JAC
19Kevin BossGiants@BUF
20Bo ScaifeTitansNYJ
21Robert RoyalBillsNYG
22Randy McMichaelRamsPIT
23Brent CelekEagles@NO
24Visanthe ShiancoeVikingsWAS
25Daniel WilcoxRavens@SEA
26Alex SmithBuccaneers@SF
27Ben UtechtColtsHOU
28Billy MillerSaintsPHI
29Kyle BradyPatriotsMIA
30Jeff KingPanthersDAL
31Will HellerSeahawksBAL
32Justin PeelleDolphins@NE

Notes: Witten gets the top spot over Gates. He has a ridiculous 28 targets the past two weeks, and the Panthers have allowed four touchdowns to tight ends in their past five games. … I have to admit, I was rooting for Winslow to get the AFC's second Pro Bowl nod over Gonzalez, but in all fairness, Gonzo has been better the second half of 2007, and their overall numbers are almost identical. Stupid snow bowl. … Scheffler takes a great big jump after his nine-target, seven-catch game in Houston. Could this be a little high for him? Maybe. But watching that Texans game, I thought Jay Cutler smartly checked down more than he'd ever done, and that'll be a winning strategy against Antonio Cromartie and the rest of the Chargers' secondary. … Chris Baker sure did just get a lot of money from the Jets (three years, $5.4 million), but he backed it up with a terrific eight-catch performance in New England, including a couple that showed great hands I didn't know he had. He certainly benefits from Chad Pennington getting the starting nod.

Week 16 Kicker Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1Nick FolkCowboys@CAR
2Mason CrosbyPackers@CHI
3Stephen GostkowskiPatriotsMIA
4Jeff ReedSteelers@STL
5Shayne GrahamBengalsCLE
6Josh BrownSeahawksBAL
7Phil DawsonBrowns@CIN
8Nate KaedingChargersDEN
9Jason HansonLionsKC
10Robbie GouldBearsGB
11Rob BironasTitansNYJ
12Neil RackersCardinalsATL
13Kris BrownTexans@IND
14Adam VinatieriColtsHOU
15Rian LindellBillsNYG
16Jason ElamBroncos@SD
17Lawrence TynesGiants@BUF
18John KasayPanthersDAL
19Jeff WilkinsRamsPIT
20Ryan LongwellVikingsWAS
21Matt BryantBuccaneers@SF
22David AkersEagles@NO
23Mike NugentJets@TEN
24Matt StoverRavens@SEA
25Joe Nedney49ersTB
26Sebastian JanikowskiRaiders@JAC
27Shaun SuishamRedskins@MIN
28Martin GramaticaSaintsPHI
29Josh ScobeeJaguarsOAK
30John CarneyChiefs@DET
31Jay FeelyDolphins@NE
32Morten AndersenFalcons@ARI

Week 16 Defense Rankings
RANKNameTeamOpponent
1New EnglandPatriotsMIA
2SeattleSeahawksBAL
3Tampa BayBuccaneers@SF
4JacksonvilleJaguarsOAK
5Green BayPackers@CHI
6MinnesotaVikingsWAS
7San DiegoChargersDEN
8TennesseeTitansNYJ
9DallasCowboys@CAR
10IndianapolisColtsHOU
11PittsburghSteelers@STL
12New YorkGiants@BUF
13ArizonaCardinalsATL
14DetroitLionsKC
15BuffaloBillsNYG
16St. LouisRamsPIT
17ChicagoBearsGB
18New OrleansSaintsPHI
19Kansas CityChiefs@DET
20WashingtonRedskins@MIN
21New York.Jets@TEN
22BaltimoreRavens@SEA
23San Francisco49ersTB
24ClevelandBrowns@CIN
25PhiladelphiaEagles@NO
26CincinnatiBengalsCLE
27OaklandRaiders@JAC
28DenverBroncos@SD
29AtlantaFalcons@ARI
30HoustonTexans@IND
31CarolinaPanthersDAL
32MiamiDolphins@NE

Notes: It was kind of fun ranking defenses for Week 16, because I basically could pick which substitute quarterbacks I thought were worst. Seattle is way up there because Kyle Boller is dreadful and partway concussed. Tampa is third because as nice a story as Shaun Hill is, I worry that secondary will eat him alive. The Packers stay high because Kyle Orton is awful. The Vikings having to face resurgent Todd Collins somehow fails to instill fear. The Titans can all but forget defending anything beyond 15 yards thanks to Chad Pennington. The Cowboys get their training camp mate, rookie Matt Moore. The Colts ride the purple Sage. And the Cardinals buy some insurance against Chris Redman. … Meanwhile the oft-startable Eagles D should ride pine against the Saints, Mario Williams and the red-hot Texans D shouldn't tempt you against Peyton and the boys, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Miami isn't a good start in New England.

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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