- Nate Ravitz, Fantasy
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Imagine you woke up from a deep sleep late Sunday afternoon, and you logged onto ESPN.com to check the headlines. Would your thought process go something like this?
Hmm. Daunte Culpepper scores five touchdowns. Kurt Warner leads his team to victory. Morten Andersen kicks four field goals... Wait a minute! What year is it? And if it's 2000, does that mean that Britney is still hot?
To answer the hypothetical, it's 2007 and, unfortunately, no she isn't.
Unlikely trio leads Raiders to win
To win in Week 4, all you had to do was start Daunte Culpepper, Justin Fargas and Jerry Porter. And who among us would have scoffed at that? Making his first start for the Raiders, Culpepper completed only five passes for 75 yards, but he threw for two touchdowns and ran for three. Sunday marked the first time in years that Culpepper's name made the headlines without the words "disgruntled" or "injured" ahead of it. Both of Culpepper's touchdowns went to Jerry Porter, meaning Daunte wasn't necessarily No. 1 on the "surprising performances by perennially disgruntled players" list. Meanwhile, LaMont Jordan was well on his way to a third-straight 100-yard rushing game before leaving for good just before halftime with a back injury. Jordan has battled back problems for a while now, so even if this doesn't knock him out of action, it's going to be a lingering concern. Justin Fargas took over for Jordan and rushed for 179 yards on 22 carries, prompting at least one friend of mine to wonder aloud, "What the hell's a Fargas?" The Raiders have a bye next week; if that doesn't give Jordan enough time to recover, Fargas and the reinstated Dominic Rhodes will battle for action in Week 6 against the Chargers.
Cadillac headed for repairs
The 2007 season came to a screeching halt for Carnell Williams on Sunday, as he suffered a serious right knee injury. The St. Petersburg Times reports that Williams is believed to have torn his patellar tendon; such an injury would definitely end his season and could place his career in jeopardy. Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham split the rushing load following Williams' injury. Pittman carried 15 times for 90 yards and Graham carried 17 times for 48 yards, while also picking up a 1-yard touchdown. Graham and Pittman likely will split carries for the remainder of the season, with Pittman seeing more work in the passing game and Graham probably getting the bulk of the goal-line work.
Griese's first start a disaster
Apparently, Rex Grossman wasn't the problem for the Bears. Little did we know, it's actually "Bears team QB" that really stinks. In his first start for the Meerkats of the Midway, Griese threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns but had one of his three interceptions returned for a touchdown and averaged a pitiful 5.5 yards per pass attempt. On the positive side, he somehow managed to not lose either of his two fumbles. As our colleague Bill Simmons might say, "Good gawd, that's Kyle Orton's music!" That change won't happen anytime soon despite promises from the Orton camp that he'd be willing to regrow his infamous neck beard to make it happen. Griese's presence did have an impact on Muhsin Muhammad, who caught five passes for 49 yards and a touchdown after catching only four passes for 36 yards in the first three games.
Favre breaks record, continues torrid pace
While the mainstream media lauds Favre for breaking Dan Marino's career touchdown record, the fantasy community is more concerned about the fact that Favre is playing like a top-10 or even -- dare we believe it? -- top-five fantasy quarterback. Through four games, Favre is on pace for more than 4,800 yards and 32 touchdowns. To this point, the team's complete lack of a running game hasn't held Favre back. The Packers are getting major contributions from rookie James Jones, sophomore Greg Jennings and new starting tight end Donald Lee. In addition, the offseason departure of Robert Ferguson is the gift that keeps on giving. The bottom line is that Favre has better receiving options now than at any point in the last three years. If I'm redrafting today, these are the quarterbacks I'm taking before Brett Favre: Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Jon Kitna. That's it.
Warner again replaces Leinart
So it looks like the Cardinals now have a full-fledged platoon at quarterback. Kurt Warner is the no-huddle guy, and Matt Leinart is the start-the-game and the kneel-at-the-end specialist. Good times! This situation basically makes both quarterbacks worthless, but it probably has little impact on anyone else on the team. With Anquan Boldin out of the lineup, Larry Fitzgerald caught 11 passes for 123 yards, while unheralded Seahawks castoff Jerheme Urban out-produced starter Bryant Johnson in catching five passes for 53 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Edgerrin James scored for the third time in four games. So much for the concern that he'd lose touchdowns to Marcel Shipp.
Donald Lee, TE, Packers: He's now caught four passes in every game this season and, with 16 catches for 172 yards, is on pace for a 64-catch, 688-yard, 4-touchdown season. That basically makes him a healthy L.J. Smith.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings: Six catches, 75 yards and a touchdown don't prove that he's arrived, but they're a strong hint that he should be owned in deep leagues.
Jeff King, TE, Panthers: This only matters if you're in a 16-team league, but King has 13 catches in three games.
Andre Davis, WR, Texans: Five catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. The Texans might have finally found a complement to Johnson.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: Sometimes stats don't tell the whole story, and this is one of them. Lynch is averaging only 3.8 yards per carry this season, but playing in the putrid Buffalo offense, he deserves a half-yard bonus.
Carolina Panthers defense: They made this list last week, yet they're still owned in 75 percent of ESPN.com leagues. Another week with zero sacks and zero interceptions gives them a total of two and zero, respectively, for the season.
All St. Louis Rams: This is a bad football team. Really bad.
Studs and Duds
Stud: Tony Romo (339 yards, 3 TDs, 1 rushing TD)
Honorable Mention: Daunte Culpepper (2 passing TDs, 3 rushing TDs)
Dud: Donovan McNabb (138 yards, 0 TD, 3 fumbles)
Dishonorable Mention: Marc Bulger (114 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT)
Stud: Ronnie Brown (207 total yards, 1 TD)
Honorable mention: LaDainian Tomlinson (155 total yards, 1 TD)
Dud: Thomas Jones (55 total yards)
Dishonorable mention: Willie Parker (66 total yards)
Stud: Patrick Crayton (7 catches, 184 yards, 2 TDs)
Honorable mention: Santonio Holmes (6 catches, 128 yards, 2 TDs)
Dud: Marvin Harrison (1 catch, 8 yards)
Dishonorable mention: Ronald Curry (1 catch, 16 yards)
Stud: Dallas Clark (6 catches, 76 yards, 2 TDs)
Stud: Morten Andersen (4 FGs, 2 PATs)
Team Defenses/Special Teams
Stud: New York Giants (12 sacks, 1 takeaway, 1 TD)
Dud: Baltimore Ravens (0 sacks, 1 INT)
Quick thoughts on injuries not covered elsewhere. For detailed injury analysis, check out Stephania Bell's injury blog.
Unless your name is Arnaz, you really shouldn't care about Alex Smith's shoulder injury. And if your name is Arnaz, life is pretty good, right?
Marvin Harrison left with a knee injury. He's pretty much been the Cal Ripken of wide receivers, so I'm optimistic that he'll be OK.
I'm also not worried about Joseph Addai's shoulder, but Kenton Keith looked good enough to start getting some regular work.
The Charlotte Observer reports that Jake Delhomme might need surgery on his injured elbow. This strikes me as bad news for Steve Smith. It's not that Delhomme is that good, it's just that he's not that David Carr.
Chester Taylor is back, but Adrian Peterson has played so well that there's no way he'll get less than 50 percent of the carries. Taylor broke a 37-yard run but gained only three yards on his other seven attempts. However, Taylor's presence will likely hurt Peterson's production in the passing game. The rookie caught seven passes in the two games that Taylor missed and just one on Sunday.
Ronnie Brown is on pace for 992 receiving yards and more than 2,000 total yards. I'm stunned.
Somewhere out there in fantasy land, there's a guy who lost to Kevin Curtis in Week 3 and Culpepper in Week 4. If that doesn't make you want to hang up your fantasy jockstrap, I don't know what does.
Shaun McDonald is on pace for 84 receptions.
Mike Furrey is on pace for 80.
Mike Williams is on pace for eight.
Charles Rogers is on pace for none.
Julius Jones' rushing touchdown was his second in the last 13 regular-season games. Not bad for a third-string running back, not good for a starter.
If I was supposed to be encouraged by Mark Clayton's three catches, I'm not. Not in a game when Steve McNair threw the ball 53 times.
Five early trends for Week 5
Edgerrin James is averaging 117 rushing yards per game in his last three against the Rams.
Isaac Bruce had at least 75 yards in both games against the Cardinals last year.
Philip Rivers had a pair of touchdown passes in both games against the Broncos last year.
Larry Fitzgerald has five touchdowns in his last five games against the Rams.
DeShaun Foster scored in both games against the Saints last year while tallying a combined 184 rushing yards.
Nate Ravitz is an editor and analyst for ESPN.com Fantasy
2hTristan H. Cockcroft