The Big Rotowski: Falcons keep surging up rankings
Editor's Note: These rankings are meant to capture fantasy value from today through the end of the NFL regular season. We'll publish them every Tuesday during the season to help you decide about trades and waiver-wire acquisitions; as such, this list won't always reflect news that comes out later in the week. And remember, every Wednesday you'll find week-specific rankings from all our fantasy football writers.
Notes: With no healthy running backs in Denver, Jay Cutler will have to continue to throw as he did Thursday in Cleveland, when he chucked it 42 times for 447 yards. He's still a vexingly inconsistent player, but he's been fantasy gold an awful lot this year. Matt Ryan just continues to impress. It seems like he makes one incredibly tight stick throw every week, and more often than not, they go for touchdowns. He's still got accuracy problems on the occasional deep ball, but he's a courageous kid who's disproving the axiom about rookie quarterbacks. I'm still nervous starting him against very good defenses, but the rest of the time, bombs away. Ben Roethlisberger played terribly against the Colts, almost single-handedly blowing that game (and ruining a lot of fantasy days in the process). He's got 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the year, and a quarterback rating below 80. Blame it on injuries if you must, but he's one of the most disappointing players in fantasy. Trent Edwards has regressed big-time. There's no doubt that as his O-line has struggled, he's played worse, but to my eyes, he just hasn't been the same guy since his concussion against the Cardinals. He's a tough guy to start right now. After last week's panic, it appears Kyle Orton will try to play in Week 11. If he makes it through the week without incident and plays Sunday, he'll spring higher on this list. Brady Quinn won't throw it down the field that much or make tons of high-risk throws, but his brand of ball control is just what the Browns need after a couple of months of Derek Anderson madness. Quinn is a nice matchup play right now, with the upside to be more than that. I want to be excited about guys like Joe Flacco and Tyler Thigpen; they've each played very well the past two weeks. I guess maybe as the fantasy regular season winds down, my ranking them this "low" (which of course isn't low at all considering where they began the year) is a warning not to get away from your best players when it matters most, no matter how tempting the shiny new guy is. Thigpen does have a sweet matchup against the Saints on Sunday, though. I've officially given Marc Bulger his walking papers. Until Steven Jackson is back healthy, there's no way you can start Bulger. Daunte Culpepper reportedly will get another crack at the starting gig in Detroit this week, but Drew Stanton will play more this year, for sure.
|Running Back Rankings|
Notes: What did Clinton Portis do during his week off to deserve a demotion? He refused to heal, that's what. His sprained knee may have him questionable for this week's game against Dallas, and one wonders if his extremely high usage during the season's first nine weeks is rearing its head. Brandon Jacobs is a beast, and if we're not going to penalize Kurt Warner because we're worried he might get hurt, it no longer makes sense to penalize Jacobs for his injury past. He's super-solid despite a not-so-friendly schedule the rest of the way. Ronnie Brown has that peach of a schedule for most of the remaining season, but with Ricky Williams playing so much this past week, it no longer looks like a fait accompli that Brown will be a 20-carry-a-game guy. He should produce, but beware of Williams. I actually wanted to drop Marshawn Lynch and Steven Jackson lower. Lynch hasn't looked good in a month, and the Bills' offense simply looks better when Fred Jackson plays, while Jackson needs to prove he's entirely healthy before you start him. But it's important in a list like this not to overreact to current trends. These guys still have big upside. Willie Parker's shoulder is the subject of much speculation. Strangely, FWP told ESPN's own Bob Holtzman that nobody has told him he has a torn labrum, and that he hadn't even heard the story until this past Sunday morning. Parker thinks he's going to play in Week 11, but you have to believe that Mewelde Moore is going to continue to be a presence in that Pittsburgh backfield. Frankly, Joseph Addai looked awful against the Steelers, and the Colts seemed to move the ball much better when Dominic Rhodes was in. Rhodes also scored the winning touchdown Sunday. Things get a lot easier on the Colts beginning this week against Houston, and I do expect Addai to bounce back. But don't be surprised if Rhodes continues to be a big part of the offense. So much for the demise of Willis McGahee. Ray Rice did, indeed, start Week 10's game in Houston, but almost immediately ceded time to McGahee. The Bucs say Earnest Graham's knee is all right, but there are suddenly a whole bunch of healthier rushers in Tampa. Warrick Dunn should be able to play in Week 11, and Carnell Williams is also practicing with the team. Graham owners have to be a bit concerned that he could wind up doing more blocking. Derrick Ward has 490 rushing yards on 89 carries, good for a 5.5 yards-per-carry average. Ahmad Bradshaw, who isn't listed here, has 205 yards on 36 carries, for a 5.7 yards-per-carry average. This just in: the Giants' O-line is the best in football. Ryan Torain is out for the year with a torn ACL, and the Broncos basically don't have a starting running back. Peyton Hillis seems likely to get the call this week against Atlanta, though Denver did go with an empty backfield (and three tight ends) a lot in Week 10. Selvin Young may come back in a couple weeks from a bad groin.
|Wide Receiver Rankings|
|29||Roy E. Williams||Cowboys||32|
|47||Ted Ginn Jr.||Dolphins||NR|
Notes: Wow, Sage Rosenfels was terrible against the Ravens. It should get a little better for him against the Colts, but still, I probably shouldn't leave Andre Johnson at the No. 1 spot. I hadn't hiked Anquan Boldin to his customary spot in the top 10 because I wasn't sure he would stay healthy with all that jaw surgery he had, but Monday night sold me. In an otherwise crummy day for the Saints on Sunday, Marques Colston was terrific, easing his owners' concerns with seven catches for 140 yards. He's the man in New Orleans; don't be distracted by Lance Moore's big-yardage numbers. Moore caught a meaningless Hail Mary at game's end. Lee Evans has followed up seven straight games of 65 receiving yards or more with two games of 63 yards total. Last week's effort against New England was particularly unsettling, because the Pats really just schemed to take Evans entirely out of the game. Great receivers don't allow that to happen. Randy Moss has had to reinvent himself as a short-yardage slant-and-out specialist here in the Matt Cassel era. He's still very good, and a threat to score every week. But even when he gets open deep, as he did once against Buffalo this past week, Cassel tends to underthrow him. Vincent Jackson is Philip Rivers' best target, bar none. He's huge and fast, and is finally showing some good hands. He's an every-week starter. Mark Bradley has been in the thick of the (relative) offensive renaissance in Kansas City, and can be added in deeper leagues. The big worry when it comes to Bradley is how injury-prone he is. For as long as he's healthy, though, he's intriguing. We do have to see if the Chiefs go back to their running ways, as Larry Johnson returns in Week 11.
|Tight End Rankings|
Notes: Kellen Winslow blew the Browns' final series in last Thursday's game with a drop, but had a monstrous game in Brady Quinn's first start: 10 catches for 111 yards and two scores. Quinn is going to be more of a ball-control specialist than Derek Anderson, which could be to Winslow's big-time benefit. Tony Scheffler had some bad games when he was healthy at the beginning of the season, but now he's back from his groin injury and was also pretty big in that Thursday game, catching four passes for 92 yards. He's safe as a deep-league starter. There's the Dustin Keller many projected to begin the year: six catches for 107 yards and a score. You're not getting that every week, but he's a Dallas-Clark-esque full-time pass-catcher waiting to happen. Kevin Boss has scored in three consecutive games and has become a real red-zone option in that potent Giants offense. He also caught a season-high six balls last week. Todd Heap had a massive game just when everyone had written him off. It's probably best to stay away until Heap can string some healthy and productive games together.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.