Commentary

Alone on an Island: Down on the Vikings' D

Updated: September 30, 2007, 9:34 AM ET
By ESPN Staff

Wondering what these guys were thinking when they broke from the pack in the
Week 4 rankings? We like to call that being "alone on an island." Here is what our castaways had to say.

Matthew Berry on Chad Pennington
Ranked: 9 Composite Rank: 13.8

It's not that I have a hard problem defending Chad Pennington's ranking this week, it's that I have hard time believing I'm the only guy this high on him. What am I missing? Is his health a concern? Health is a concern with every player. And he gets the Bills, aka the "No team in the NFL gives up more passing yards per game than the Buffalo Bills" Bills. They're giving up an average of two passing touchdowns per game, Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are both healthy, and the Jets' defense is terrible, too. So I expect the Bills to stay somewhat close here and the Jets to continue pressing the action. I foresee a big game for all the Jets this week, including Pennington.

Eric Karabell on the Minnesota defense
Ranked: 10 Composite Rank: 5.8

The Vikings scare me a bit this week, because Brett Favre has had success against them in the past, even at their place. Favre has looked terrific so far, and the lack of a running game is irrelevant this week, since the Vikings stop everyone's running game. Minnesota has shut down Joey Harrington and Damon Huard, but Jon Kitna moved the ball on the Vikes. Favre is going after history, and since he threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns in the dome last year, I dropped the Vikes down a bit. Minnesota's still a starting defense to me, just not as attractive as usual.

Scott Engel on Braylon Edwards
Ranked: 26 Composite Rank: 18.6

While I do believe Edwards is finally starting to tap his full potential as a wide receiver and statistical contributor in fantasy, I also believe certain matchups will still give him trouble. Derek Anderson can be accurate and fit the ball to Edwards in some tight windows, but not against stiffer defenses. The Ravens' defense will be primed to bounce back after a lackluster showing against the pass last week, and stopping Edwards will be a priority. Edwards will still disappoint here and there, as no receiver explodes every week. He was held to 49 receiving yards on three catches in the opener against Pittsburgh, and that's exemplary of what he will do against tougher opponents. Edwards did play well against Baltimore last year, catching a touchdown pass in each meeting, and his improvements have pushed him to top-20 wide receiver status this year. A good performance this week is no given, though. Cleveland's offense still needs to give Edwards more help.

Christopher Harris on Musa Smith
Ranked: 30 Composite Rank: 43

Picking Smith as a possible flex play is mostly about Cleveland's defense. The Browns allow the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs and the most to quarterbacks and wide receivers so far this year. I've got Willis McGahee at No. 5 among rushers for the week, but I like the matchup so much, I'll take Smith, too, just as I'd take Sammy Morris in New England. Not that Smith has gotten the touches Morris has, but he'll get between five and 10 carries, and be the third-down and possibly the goal-line back (he has a rushing TD; McGahee doesn't). The Ravens should be able to pick their offensive poison, and I think they'll choose to use both backs a ton. The possible return of Jonathan Ogden should help, too.

Nate Ravitz on Brandon Marshall
Ranked: 17 Composite Rank: 22.4

I actually loved Marshall before we learned that Javon Walker was a question mark this week. Why? Let's start with the fact that Marshall has caught at least five passes in every game this season, clearly establishing himself as one of the top targets for Jay Cutler. He's coming off the best game of his career, and I expect Sunday's showdown with the Colts to be a high-scoring affair. Figure something in the 37-24 range. Cutler will be throwing the ball plenty to try to keep pace with Indy, and Marshall should easily top 75 yards while getting looks in the red zone.