Commentary

Alone on an Island: Defending rankings

Updated: September 16, 2007, 10:33 AM ET
By ESPN Staff

Wondering what these guys were thinking when they broke from the pack in the Week 2 rankings? We like to call that being "alone on an island." Here's what our castaways had to say.

Matthew Berry on Reggie Brown
Ranked: 34 Composite Rank: 22

My reason for ranking Reggie Brown so low this week is a concern for both Donovan McNabb and the matchup. With McNabb's mobility limited, I expect the Redskins to try and blitz more. Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot are all very solid in single coverage. McNabb struggled against the Packers and Brown wasn't looked at very much at all (only one reception). Other than Brian Westbrook, no receiving threat on the Eagles really stands out to me as being a favorite target of McNabb in this game and I have a tough time ranking a guy who is not a clear-cut No. 1 or elite No. 2 as any higher than mid-30s. Which is what I did.

Eric Karabell on Bernard Berrian
Ranked: 44 Composite Rank: 31

I don't trust Rex Grossman. I know this isn't breaking news, but I think the problems Grossman faces hurt his wide receivers, especially Berrian. While Muhsin Muhammad isn't used in fantasy much, Berrian is, as his owners expect big numbers. Ultimately, Muhammad had better 2006 stats! Since scoring touchdowns in four of his first five games last season, what has Berrian done? Yes, it's a better matchup for the Bears this week, and I admit dumping Berrian out of the top 40 seems extreme, but I'll take the safer Reggie Brown, Mike Furrey and Wes Welker. Their quarterbacks can find them. I think the Bears are going to struggle to score points even in friendly matchups

Scott Engel on Deuce McAllister
Ranked: 11 Composite Rank: 18

I certainly do not believe the New Orleans running game is as limp as it looked in the opener, and McAllister is set to rebound as the Saints establish the running game early against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay's pass defense looked quite good in the first week, and Seattle found more success using their running backs. I believe the Saints will lean on the same model initially this week, especially since they need to reestablish their two best offensive players, McAllister and Reggie Bush. The Saints faltered in the opener because they lost touch with their ground attack, and that is not going to happen again. McAllister is set for 100-plus yards and at least one touchdown.

Hector on Jay Cutler and Javon Walker
Ranked: NR (Cutler); 45 (Walker) Composite Rank: 15 (Cutler); 16 (Walker)

We are not so "Mile High" on the Denver passing game this week. We realize last year was last year, but let's not forget that Oakland had the No. 1 pass defense in 2006. Last week, the Raiders held Jon Kitna to under 300 yards of passing, and that's an offense that tilts nearly 2-to-1 in favor of the pass. Coach Shanahan prefers a more balanced attack, and last week Jay Cutler barely crossed the triple-century threshold against a fairly lackluster Bills defense. We still think the duo of Cutler to Javon Walker will reach paydirt, and we're by no means suggesting they're not a talented tandem. It's just that for this week against this opponent, there are far better options available to you.

Christopher Harris on Ronnie Brown
Ranked: 18 Composite Rank: 24

It looks like I'm the only one who believes in Ronnie Brown as a fantasy starter this week against Dallas. I grant you, Brown's 11 carries for 32 yards against a relatively lightly regarded Redskins defense was alarming, as were seven pirated carries (for just 15 yards) by Jesse Chatman. The thing is: Chatman's knee is bruised, and when we did these rankings, he had yet to take to the practice field. He may play -- he practiced Friday and is listed as Probable for Sunday -- but I don't see the carries getting split so evenly. Also, having watched both Derrick Ward and (briefly) Brandon Jacobs excel against the Cowboys last week, I think Brown will have more room to run and, significantly, catch the kind of screens Cam Cameron likes to run. Brown's too talented not to be a focal point of this offense, and Dallas will be so busy trying to shore up their bad secondary, they'll fail to account for the second-year man enough to give Brown a good fantasy day.

Nate Ravitz on Jon Kitna
Ranked: 3 Composite Rank: 10

Jon Kitna averaged 259 yards in two games versus Minnesota last year. Yes, he had only two touchdowns against six interceptions in those games, but the additions of Calvin Johnson and Shaun McDonald have made the Detroit passing attack even more potent. Kitna proved that by overcoming two trends last week: He succeeded on the road, where he'd struggled last season, and also posted big fantasy numbers against what had been the No. 1 pass defense in football in 2006. I expect at least 250 yards and two touchdowns for Kitna, and given the fact that the Lions won't be able to run the ball and probably won't try, he could go for 350 and three or four scores.

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