Commentary

Ravitz: Eagles and Lions shoot out the lights

Updated: September 25, 2007, 11:46 AM ET
By Nate Ravitz | ESPN.com

"Oh my God! Please tell me I'm not playing against Kevin Curtis this week."

How many of you uttered those exact words on Sunday around 2:30 in the afternoon? OK, maybe not exact. Maybe you were one word off:

"Oh my God! Please tell me I'm not playing against #$%& Kevin Curtis this week."

That sounds more like it. I know I checked all of my leagues and was relieved to find that none of my opponents had been "dumb" enough to play the Eagles wide receiver, but I'll bet many of you weren't so lucky.

Headlines

  1. Eagles explode, but Westbrook injured again

    The best way for a quarterback -- black, white, red or green -- to avoid scrutiny is to play well. Assuming that's true, Donovan McNabb should be able to enjoy his Chunky soup in peace this week. McNabb completed 21 of 26 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns as the Eagles dropped 56 points on the Lions. Kevin Curtis set career highs with 11 receptions, 221 yards and three touchdowns, doing most of his damage in the first half. Amazingly, Curtis' 221 total yards were only tied for best on the team. Brian Westbrook rushed for 110 yards and caught five passes for 111 yards while also scoring three touchdowns. However, Westbrook left the game in the third quarter with injured ribs. Westbrook did not appear to be in serious duress when he left the game, but given the problems he has with his knees, the last thing he needs is another injury to deal with. Correll Buckhalter and Tony Hunt both collected 1-yard touchdown runs after Westbrook left the game; Buckhalter would get most of the carries if Westbrook had to miss any time.

  2. Lions roar! (Well, at least in fantasy.)

    When you're evaluating a quarterback, an interception and three fumbles (two lost) look bad. A five-touchdown loss also reflects poorly. Luckily, Jon Kitna's fantasy owners don't have to pay mind to such meaningless details. Kitna threw for 446 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday and continues to look like a top-five fantasy quarterback. Best of all, Kitna continues to get the ball to all of his wide receivers. Roy Williams caught nine of Kitna's passes for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown. Shaun McDonald continued his surprising play, catching five passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. Mike Furrey tallied only 43 yards but caught five passes for the third straight game and is still a strong option in point-per-reception formats. Calvin Johnson caught two passes for 58 yards but left the game after landing hard on his back on a long reception in the second quarter. If not for the injury, he might have picked up his first career 100-yard game.

  3. A new Whizzinator?

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    With apologies to Onterrio Smith, if Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt isn't careful, fantasy players might start using this less-than-flattering nickname to describe him. (Oh, come on! Like, Ken "The Whizzinator" Whisenhunt, couldn't catch on? It would work in WWE.) Whisenhunt made the odd decision to play quarterback carousel in the middle of Week 3, pulling Matt Leinart in favor of Kurt Warner, not once, but twice on Sunday. After the game, Whisenhunt told the team's official Web site that the change was made because the team had designed some plays for Warner to run in a hurry-up offense. He also said Leinart would remain the starter but did not rule out the possibility that Warner could come on in relief should the Cardinals find themselves facing a large deficit. Hmm. Anyone else think the Cardinals might face some large deficits this season? Anyone else draft Leinart specifically because they thought those deficits would allow Leinart to pile up some passing yardage? Any way you slice it, this isn't good news for Leinart's fantasy value. Rethink this one, Kenny. No one wants to go through life being known as the Whizzinator.

  4. Rams' offense continues to sputter

    The Rams scored 22.9 points per game last season. Through three games this season, they're averaging 10.7 points. What in the name of Trung Canidate is going on here? It's not as though they've had a tough schedule. Their three opponents -- Carolina, San Francisco and Tampa Bay -- ranked eighth, 21st and 32nd, respectively, in scoring defense last season.

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    Despite their moribund defense, the Rams committed dollars and draft picks to their offense in the offseason, signing Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael through free agency and selecting Brian Leonard in the second round of the NFL draft. Those three players have combined for a scant 15 receptions and 154 yards so far. Meanwhile, although Steven Jackson had 115 rushing yards on Sunday, he needed 30 carries at 3.0 yards per rush to do so. More importantly, Jackson still hasn't scored a touchdown and is on pace for fewer than half of the 90 receptions he racked up in 2006. The Rams' schedule is pretty favorable, but Jackson and (especially) Bulger owners have reason to be concerned.

  5. Rudi hurts owners, then himself

    If Rudi Johnson is your No. 1 running back, you probably -- quite literally -- wish he hadn't bothered to suit up on Sunday. Johnson rushed for only 9 yards on 17 carries before leaving the game with a bum hamstring. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury, but Kenny Watson played well in relief, gaining 60 yards and getting into the end zone on only nine carries. With Kenny Irons out for the season and Chris Perry apparently attending the Ki-Jana Carter school of running backs, Watson is the unchallenged No. 2 running back for the Bengals and is worth an immediate pickup pending further information on Johnson.

Player Tracker

Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos: He's owned in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues, but after a seven-catch, 133-yard performance in Week 3, that ownership number will surge.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons: He might be legitimate. I'd be willing to drop an Eddie Kennison or a Muhsin Muhammad to find out.

Jeff King, TE, Panthers: This only matters if you're in a 16-team league, but King has 13 catches in three games.

Dwayne Bowe: The rookie scored for the second straight game while catching five passes for 71 yards.

Reggie Brown, WR, Eagles: No more excuses.

Carolina Panthers defense: One sack and no takeaways against Joey Harrington and the Falcons. Simply put, they have no business being in anyone's starting lineup, Julius Peppers notwithstanding.

Jesse Chatman, RB, Dolphins: So much for the running back platoon in Miami. Chatman had no carries and no receptions in Week 3.

Rex Grossman, QB, Bears: He threw one interception in Week 1, two in Week 2 and three in Week 3. How long can the trend continue before Brian Griese gets his shot?

Kevin Jones and Tatum Bell, RBs, Lions: How will the carries be split now that Jones has returned? Does it really matter? All Detroit running backs combined have just 42 carries through the first three games.

Studs and Duds

Quarterbacks

Stud: Donovan McNabb (381 yards, 4 TDs)

Honorable Mention: Tom Brady (311 yards, 4 TDs)

Dud: Marc Bulger (116 passing yards, 0 TD, 3 INTs)

Dishonorable Mention: Rex Grossman (195 yards, 0 TD, 3 INTs)

Running backs

Stud: Brian Westbrook (221 total yards, 3 TDs)

Honorable mention: Ronnie Brown (211 total yards, 3 TDs)

Dud: Ahman Green (16 total yards)

Dishonorable mention: Larry Johnson (37 total yards)

Wide receivers

Stud: Kevin Curtis (221 yards, 3 TDs)

Honorable mention: Anquan Boldin (14 catches, 181 yards, 2 TDs)

The "Lee Evans Honorary" Dud: Hines Ward (1 catch, 2 yards)

Dishonorable mention: Lee Evans (1 catch, 7 yards)

Tight ends

Stud: Jason Witten (6 catches, 90 yards, 1 TD)

Dud: Randy McMichael (2 catches, 13 yards)

Kickers

Stud: Matt Stover (4 FGs, 2 PATs)

Dud: Jason Elam (0 FG, 2 PATs)

Team Defenses/Special Teams

Stud: Philadelphia Eagles (8 sacks, 3 takeaways)

Dud: San Diego Chargers (2 sacks, 0 takeways, 31 points allowed)

Training Room

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

J.P. Losman left in the first quarter with a knee injury that was later diagnosed as a Grade 1 sprain, according to the AP. Rookie Trent Edwards, a third-round draft pick, is in line to be the Buffalo starter while Losman is out, which should be at least a couple of weeks. However, look for the Bills to add a veteran this week. The only other quarterback under the team's control is practice squad member Kevin Eakin, formerly of the Fordham University Rams and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL.

Ahman Green came out of the game in the first quarter with a left knee injury. Green missed 11 games in 2005 with a right knee injury. The Texans were already without Ron Dayne, so Samkon Gado got some work, carrying six times for 12 yards and a touchdown.

The Texans also lost rookie Jacoby Jones to a separated shoulder, according to the team's Web site. With Andre Johnson already out, the team's receiving corps is extremely thin. After starter Kevin Walter, the only other receivers on the team are journeyman Andre Davis and return specialist Jerome Mathis, and Davis injured a finger in the game.

Cadillac Williams sat out the last three possessions. It was unclear whether he had aggravated his rib injury, the Bucs were just being cautious, he was benched for a lost fumble, or some combination of the three. Meanwhile, Earnest Graham ran for two touchdowns. I've said it before: Graham will get a lot of work -- perhaps more than Michael Pittman -- if Williams goes down.

Jake Delhomme suffered an apparent elbow injury while trying to throw his vaunted forkball. David Carr completed 3 of 4 passes for 56 yards after replacing Delhomme.

Hines Ward took a number of hard hits and eventually left with a lower leg injury. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Ward had a "bone bruise." Cedrick Wilson and Nate Washington will see more action if Ward misses time.

Vernon Davis left with a right knee injury. Davis was having his best game of the season, catching four passes for 56 yards.

Josh McCown left with a foot injury and was replaced by Daunte Culpepper. It's good to see Culpepper back on the field, if for no other reason than it disproves the rumor that he was eaten by JaMarcus Russell.

Quick observations

Irony is a cruel mistress. In the league drafted for ESPNEWS Fantasy Insider, Stephania Bell -- our injury expert -- owns Brandon Jacobs, Andre Johnson and Rudi Johnson. In related news, I had lunch with Stephania last week and came away with a sprained ankle.

All three of Laveranues Coles' touchdowns this season have come from within the 10-yard line. If Chad Pennington continues to target him near the goal line, Coles should easily top his career high of seven touchdowns in a season.

Chris Chambers has tallied at least 90 yards in all three games this season. It's only the second time in his career that he's recorded at least 90 yards in three consecutive games.

Reuben Droughns is still alive! Droughns picked up two goal-line touchdowns, depriving Derrick Ward. It's probably safe to say that Droughns will fade back into obscurity when Brandon Jacobs returns. As it is, he's worth picking up only in very deep touchdown-only leagues.

Despite the injury to J.P. Losman and the jokes above, I'd trade for Lee Evans right now. His schedule begins to get easier this week, and his value will never be lower.

Although Larry Johnson was completely stuffed by the Vikings, the fact that he carried the ball 24 times was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, he draws the Chargers in Week 4.

A lot of people thought it was a fluke when Marion Barber III scored 16 touchdowns last season. Well, after three games this season, he has five.

I'll be honest: I didn't think Ronnie Brown had it in him. While his monster game should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism, Brown has a relatively clear road ahead of him. His next three games are against the Raiders, Texans and Browns.

In the ESPNEWS Fantasy Insider league, Ken Daube offered me Darrell Jackson straight up for Ronald Curry. I turned him down.

Dating back to last season, Willie Parker has four straight 100-yard games and has hit the century mark in six of his last seven.

Kyle Boller "relieved" Steve McNair in the fourth quarter, apparently because coach Brian Billick was concerned about McNair's groin. I'd better not let my boss know that my fingers are starting to bother me, lest they bring Tristan Cockcroft out of the bullpen.

There was nothing wrong with picking up DeShawn Wynn off waivers last week, but if you started him against the Chargers, you got what you deserved.

Brian Westbrook leads the NFL in total yards with 514.

Second is LaMont Jordan with 471.

Third is Chad Johnson with 444.

Negative Nate

Laurence Maroney picked up his first 100-yard game of the season, but the two numbers that jump out at me are zero and zero. Those are how many receptions and touchdowns Maroney has this season. It's tough to be a No. 1 fantasy back when you don't catch passes and you don't score.

Another day, another one-catch performance for Donte' Stallworth. I actually think Stallworth is droppable in shallow, 10-team leagues.

People got way too excited about Ben Roethlisberger after that four-touchdown game in Week 1. He's thrown two touchdown passes since then. He's a No. 2 quarterback; a good No. 2, but a No. 2 all the same.

Boo! That's for you, Reggie Brown. Boo!

Hiss! That's for you Steve Smith. Hiss!

Did you know that Smith has one catch for 10 yards in his last two games against the Falcons?

DeShaun Foster has seven 100-yard rushing games in his career, and four of them are against the Falcons. To put that another way, he's topped the 100-yard mark in four of his eight career games against Atlanta and in only three of his 42 games against everyone else. Don't expect another big game anytime soon.

Five early trends for Week 4

  1. Brett Favre has thrown at least two touchdown passes in seven consecutive games at the Metrodome.

  2. Donald Driver is averaging 156 yards in his last three trips to the Metrodome, scoring in all three games.

  3. Jon Kitna threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns at home against the Bears last season.

  4. Roy Williams has two touchdowns in his last three games against Chicago and has tallied at least 70 yards in each game.

  5. Steve Smith has four straight 100-yard games against the Buccaneers.

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.