Commentary

Ravitz: Shootout at the OH corral

Updated: September 17, 2007, 6:08 PM ET
By Nate Ravitz | ESPN.com

Bill Belichick sure lives a charmed life, doesn't he? As penalty for the videotaping scandal, his team loses a first-round pick that it doesn't need (the Pats own San Francisco's first-round pick) and he's fined $500,000. Within days, ESPN's Michael Smith reports that the Patriots extended Belichick's contract through at least the 2013 season. Then, to top it off, O.J. Simpson rides in on his white horse to kick Belichick off the front page of the NFL's new Crime and Punishment magazine. Some guys have all the luck.

Headlines

  1. Browns win Ohio shootout 51-45

    If you'd told me Sunday morning that 96 points would be scored in this game, I probably would have guessed a final score of 62-34 in favor of the Bengals. Instead, the Browns... excuse me... the Derek Anderson-led Browns dropped 51 points on everyone's favorite Week 2 sleeper defense. Anderson completed 20-of-33 passes for an astonishing 328 yards and an astounding five touchdowns. About the only thing Anderson didn't do was hit a game-winning home run for the Indians. Suffice to say, Brady Quinn's first NFL start will be pushed back at least a couple of weeks. Although it seems crazy to even ask the question, we must: Does Anderson have fantasy value going forward? Stranger things have happened ... but not much stranger. Anderson came into the game with six touchdown passes and nine interceptions in his first 145 throws in the NFL, and the Browns, well, they're still not very good. Meanwhile, anyone who thought that Carson Palmer might struggle without Chris Henry helping to spread defenses out is feeling pretty silly right about now; Palmer has eight touchdown passes in his first two games.

  2. Saints stifled again

    It's officially time to worry. We were all willing to write off the Saints' collective Notre Dame impression in Week 1, but few imagined they would struggle to score points on the Buccaneers. Instead, Drew Brees looked awful for the second week in a row, and the Saints simply couldn't put long drives together; they had three three-and-outs and one three-and-fumble in the first half. About the only good news for the Saints is their favorable schedule over the next several weeks: Five of their next seven games are at home, and the road games are at San Francisco and Seattle. If you can stomach the risk, now might be a good time to try to trade for Brees or Reggie Bush.

  3. Texans' Johnson has big game, leaves with injury

    Nate Ravitz can be seen on Fantasy Football Now, ESPN.com's free live-streaming fantasy football pregame show, every Sunday at 12 p.m. ET.

    He can also be heard hosting the Fantasy Focus football podcast every weekday. Download or subscribe to the podcast on our fantasy pages or by clicking here

    Andre Johnson caught 103 passes for 1,147 yards last season, and the only thing that kept him from fantasy stardom was a lack of touchdowns. He scored only five in 2006 and has never scored more than six in his four-year NFL career. Finally paired with a competent quarterback, Johnson found paydirt in Week 1 and caught seven passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Unfortunately, that's not where the story ends. Johnson left the game early in the fourth quarter with a sprained left knee. He will be re-evaluated on Monday. Hopefully, he'll be healthy for the Week 3 matchup against the Colts, which would be a good test. Johnson has never tallied as many as 60 receiving yards in seven career games against Indianapolis.

  4. Jaguars... or kittens?

    Although the Jags picked up the win over the hapless Falcons, their running game continued to disappoint. Fred Taylor carried 16 times for only 56 yards, and Maurice Jones-Drew was held to 31 yards on 11 carries. Taylor and Jones-Drew combined for an average of 130 rushing yards per game last season but have a total of just 135 rushing yards through two games this season. Jones-Drew is clearly suffering from the first ever case of Fantasy Hall of Fame hangover, but Taylor has no such far-fetched excuse. Is either Jones-Drew or Taylor a guy to target in trade talks? It says here that the answer is no. In the next eight weeks, the Jaguars have five road games and a bye. That slate doesn't feature any games that are especially worrisome, but then again we didn't think we had to worry about the Jaguars being able to run on Tennessee or Atlanta, either.

  5. Giants starting quarterback is... Eli Manning!

    The joke was on all of us. The past week featured rumors of just about everyone but Eli Manning starting for the Giants. Jared Lorenzen and Anthony Wright were the most common names tossed around, and the ESPN fantasy edit staff actually had a spirited debate over the merits of Charlie Frye after a false report that the Cleveland castoff had been traded to the Giants. Instead, the guy known as "Cooper's little brother" played with nothing more than an extra pad on his shoulder and threw for 211 yards, one touchdown and one interception before leaving the game when the outcome was no longer in question. Manning didn't appear to be limited, and he should be a viable fantasy starter going forward.

  6. Patriots destroy Chargers as Moss doubles up

    Randy Moss' monster performance in Week 1 didn't exactly convince our panel of experts heading into Week 2. Yours truly was the only one who ranked Moss in the top 10 among wide receivers, and if you think I'm bragging about that, feel free to check out my Jon Kitna ranking. Moss caught eight passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns and probably would have had a bigger game if the Pats hadn't taken a 24-0 halftime lead. Meanwhile, with his second-straight three-touchdown game, Tom Brady is poised to challenge Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer for top fantasy quarterback honors this season.

  7. Kitna injured, but Lions continue to fly

    Although my Fantasy Football Now (Live on ESPN.com every Sunday at noon!) prediction of 300 plus passing yards and at least two touchdowns for Jon Kitna didn't come to fruition, anyone in a "Team QB" league didn't mind. Kitna missed a significant portion of the game with a concussion but still threw for 248 yards and a touchdown, while J.T. O'Sullivan added 148 yards and a TD. Rookie Calvin Johnson scored for the second straight game, and Shaun McDonald (7 catches, 71 yards) proved that Week 1 was no fluke. Johnson and McDonald represent a massive upgrade over the Lions' third and fourth receivers last season and are a big reason why I consider Kitna an elite fantasy quarterback this season. In my eyes, Kitna has achieved "start-regardless-of-matchup" status, along with Peyton Manning, Brady, Palmer and Jessica Alba.

  8. Packers Diner now serving "RB Surprise"

    Before Week 2, my list of reasons to avoid Packers rookie Brandon Jackson included the following: (1) He averaged 3.3 yards per carry in the preseason. (2) He averaged 2.7 yards per carry in Week 1. (3) The Packers don't have a very good offensive line. My list did not include: He might lose carries and touchdowns to DeShawn "don't call me Spergon" Wynn. The undrafted rookie had touchdown runs of 6 and 38 yards while tallying 50 yards on 10 carries. Jackson managed a scant 35 yards on 17 carries. In terms of yards-per-carry, Wynn was having an even worse day than Jackson before breaking free for the 38-yard TD, but the bottom line is that Jackson continues to do nothing to dissuade the coaching staff from giving Vernand Morency a long look just as soon as he's healthy, assuming that's sometime during the Bush administration.

Player Tracker

James Jones, WR, Packers: The rookie caught all four passes thrown his way for 75 yards. He should get more targets in the future.

Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans: We'll see if Andre Johnson's injury is serious, but don't wait for bad news before picking up Jones.

Derrick Ward, RB, Giants: His first career start nets 125 total yards. He looks legit, so much so that he should continue to get carries when Brandon Jacobs returns.

Glenn Holt, WR, Bengals: After Tab Perry went down with an injury, the rookie caught five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. Holt could be the No. 3 receiver for the Bengals until Chris Henry completes his suspension and is worth a look in 14-team leagues.

Bobby Engram, WR, Seahawks: Nate Burleson may be the No. 2 receiver in name, but Engram gets more consistent looks from Matt Hasselbeck and is especially valuable in point-per-reception formats.

Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins: It's amazing what playing with over-the-hill Trent Green instead of never-had-a-hill Joey Harrington can do for a receiver.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: Through two games, Davis has four catches for 27 yards. The potential is still there, but I don't know why you'd start Davis over Jason Witten or Benjamin Watson right now.

Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots: No pass receptions and no touchdowns. Maroney is a No. 2 back, not a No. 1.

Reuben Droughns, RB, Giants: With no Brandon Jacobs, Droughns caught one pass and received nary a carry. There's no reason to own him right now.

Lions medical staff: Let me get this straight. In an age in which there's more attention than ever on head injuries, the Lions put Jon Kitna back into the game when he suffers what he would later call the worst concussion of his career?

Patrick Crayton, WR, Cowboys: I'm glad that he's tough enough to return from a gruesome finger injury, but how about a catch every once in a while?

Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys: Jones may have been a good value on draft day, but the bottom line is he isn't as good a football player as Marion Barber III, and it looks like the Dallas coaching staff knows it.

Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints: With a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Reggie Bush was stuffed and then Mike Karney was not. Where was Deuce? Only Sean Payton knows. McAllister can't be a viable No. 2 running back if he doesn't get consistent goal-line work.

Dominic Rhodes, RB, Raiders: LaMont Jordan isn't giving that job up.

Studs and Duds

Quarterbacks

Stud: Carson Palmer (401 yards, 6 TDs)

Honorable Mention: Jake Delhomme (307 yards, 3 TDs) Note: Derek Anderson was ineligible for this award based on the fact that he was in exactly zero starting lineups outside of the Anderson family's AFC North-only league.

Dud: J.P. Losman (154 passing yards, 0 TD)

Dishonorable Mention: Tarvaris Jackson (169 yards, 0 TD, 4 INT)

Running backs

Stud: Jamal Lewis (215 rushing yards, 1 TD)

Honorable mention: Rudi Johnson (151 total yards, 1 TD)

Dud: Tatum Bell (14 rushing yards)

Dishonorable mention: Maurice Jones-Drew (41 total yards)

Wide receivers

Stud: Steve Smith (8 catches, 153 yards, 3 TDs)

Honorable mention: Chad Johnson (11 catches, 209 yards, 2 TDs)

Dud: Lee Evans (2 catches, 17 yards)

Dishonorable mention: Ronald Curry (2 catches, 12 yards)

Tight ends

Stud: Kellen Winslow (6 catches, 100 yards, TD)

Dud: Vernon Davis (2 catches, 23 yards)

Kickers

Stud: Jeff Reed (4 FGs, 2 PATs)

Dud: Nate Kaeding (0 FG, 2 PATs)

Team Defenses/Special Teams

Stud: Minnesota Vikings (4 sacks, 5 takeaways, 1 TD)

Dud: Cincinnati Bengals (0 sacks, 51 points allowed, 554 yards allowed)

Training Room

Quick thoughts on injuries not covered elsewhere. For detailed injury analysis, check out Stephania Bell's injury blog.

Plaxico Burress limped off the field in the second quarter after apparently aggravating his ankle injury, but he was able to return to the game.

Tarvaris Jackson suffered a groin injury. To add insult to injury: He stinks.

Quick observations

LenDale White had a better game than Chris Brown. That situation is going to frustrate fantasy owners all season long.

Joey Galloway should play the Saints every week. He now has nine touchdowns in his past six games against New Orleans.

There's no quarterback controversy in New York, but if the Jets don't turn their season around, the argument to play Chad Pennington over Kellen Clemens gets weaker.

The first Denver rushing touchdown of 2007 goes to... Cecil Sapp. Congratulations Travis Henry owners.

Brandon Marshall had another solid game, with five catches for 82 yards, plus a touchdown that was called back for a penalty.

You should have benched Ronald Curry in the matchup against Champ Bailey. But as a No. 3 starter, you should play him just about every other week.

Negative Nate

Cadillac Williams scored two touchdowns. Matthew Berry thinks he's a top-15 running back this year. I don't buy it. Then again, I wouldn't buy those ties.

I also don't buy Roydell Williams...

... or Nate Burleson

... or Joe Jurevicius

Philip Rivers should not have been drafted as a top-10 quarterback. I'd rather have Vince Young, Brett Favre or Jay Cutler.

Donte' Stallworth won't catch five touchdown passes this season, but he will have two or three big games and kill the owners who start him the week after those big games.

Five early trends for Week 2

  1. Lee Evans had only three catches for 35 yards in two games against the Patriots last year. For his career, Evans averages just 40 yards per game against New England and has never scored a touchdown against the Pats.

  2. In five career games against the Giants, Santana Moss has topped the 100-yard mark three times and had two three-touchdown games.

  3. Plaxico Burress has only one touchdown in four career games against the Redskins while averaging fewer than 50 yards per game.

  4. Clinton Portis had 184 yards in two games against the Giants last season.

  5. Laveranues Coles has nine touchdowns in 11 career games against the Dolphins.
Nate Ravitz is an editor and analyst for ESPN.com Fantasy

Nate Ravitz is the deputy editor for ESPN.com Fantasy and co-hosts -- along with Matthew Berry -- the Fantasy Focus baseball and football podcasts.