Commentary

The Big Rotowski: Despite bonehead play, Jackson rises

Updated: September 16, 2008, 4:50 PM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

(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.)

Quarterback Rankings
RANKNameTeamLast Week
1Tony RomoCowboys2
2Donovan McNabbEagles5
3Peyton ManningColts1
4Drew BreesSaints3
5Jay CutlerBroncos6
6Ben RoethlisbergerSteelers4
7Carson PalmerBengals7
8Derek AndersonBrowns8
9Eli ManningGiants11
10Matt SchaubTexans10
11Brett FavreJets12
12Aaron RodgersPackers13
13Philip RiversChargers15
14Kurt WarnerCardinals18
15David GarrardJaguars9
16Jake DelhommePanthers17
17Matt HasselbeckSeahawks16
18Marc BulgerRams14
19Trent EdwardsBills21
20Jon KitnaLions19
21Matt CasselPatriots22
22Jason CampbellRedskins23
23JaMarcus RussellRaiders20
24J.T. O'Sullivan49ers31
25Tarvaris JacksonVikings25
26Kyle OrtonBears26
27Matt RyanFalcons29
28Matt LeinartCardinals27
29Brian GrieseBuccaneersNR
30Kerry CollinsTitans35
31Chad PenningtonDolphins28
32Vince YoungTitans30
33Joe FlaccoRavens32
34Jeff GarciaBuccaneers24
35Brodie CroyleChiefs33
36Damon HuardChiefs34
37Chad HenneDolphins39
38Rex GrossmanBears36
39Gus FrerotteVikingsNR
40Brady QuinnBrowns38
41Shaun Hill49ers37

Notes: The crazy Monday Night Football shootout only reinforced that the Cowboys and Eagles are pass-first teams who should rack up big games for Romo and McNabb on a regular basis. I'm splitting hairs by putting McNabb higher than Peyton Manning, but that offensive line in Indy is scaring me just a little, and it's also notable that Manning can't get to the edge on that traditional Colts sprint-handoff play, which is why Manning is pitching it to Joseph Addai so often. His knee is still bugging him. … I still love Roethlisberger, but only if he's healthy. The announcers Sunday night were calling his injury a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder, and despite the fact Big Ben was throwing the deep ball with a lot of oomph, the worry is enough to bump him down a couple pegs. … The rest of my explanations here are mostly about guys I'm not moving down yet. Palmer stunk against the Ravens, but we can't blame him for stinking in 40 mile-per-hour winds against the Titans, can we? Taking the long view, I think he still winds up a top-10 quarterback, but he has a terrible matchup against the Giants next week. … Yes, I'd still rather have Derek Anderson than Aaron Rodgers. Anderson has had two tough defenses, including the Steelers in a rainstorm. Rodgers has had it pretty easy, especially against the Lions. He's a West Coast quarterback; I don't think he racks up 328 yards passing very often. In fact, if there's one "sell-high" guy in fantasy right now, I think it's Rodgers. Not that he's bad. He's just overhyped. … Garrard has to take a tumble because of that offensive line. It's decimated. … O'Sullivan is starting to look like he might hold onto his job after all.

Running Back Rankings
RANKNameTeamLast Week
1Adrian PetersonVikings2
2Brian WestbrookEagles3
3LaDainian TomlinsonChargers1
4Steven JacksonRams5
5Marion BarberCowboys9
6Joseph AddaiColts4
7Clinton PortisRedskins7
8Frank Gore49ers6
9Marshawn LynchBills8
10Brandon JacobsGiants13
11Ryan GrantPackers10
12Jamal LewisBrowns12
13Willie ParkerSteelers15
14Reggie BushSaints17
15Darren McFaddenRaiders18
16Willis McGaheeRavens14
17Maurice Jones-DrewJaguars16
18Larry JohnsonChiefs11
19Earnest GrahamBuccaneers19
20Matt ForteBears23
21Thomas JonesJets21
22Michael TurnerFalcons22
23Jonathan StewartPanthers26
24Selvin YoungBroncos20
25Julius JonesSeahawks25
26Chris JohnsonTitans32
27Ronnie BrownDolphins27
28Laurence MaroneyPatriots24
29DeAngelo WilliamsPanthers29
30Edgerrin JamesCardinals30
31Kevin SmithLions31
32LenDale WhiteTitans37
33Fred TaylorJaguars28
34Chris PerryBengals33
35Ricky WilliamsDolphins35
36Derrick WardGiants40
37Felix JonesCowboys41
38Sammy MorrisPatriots34
39Tim HightowerCardinals38
40Chester TaylorVikings39
41Darren SprolesChargersNR
42Ray RiceRavens42
43Warrick DunnBuccaneersNR
44Jerious NorwoodFalcons43
45Michael PittmanBroncosNR
46Rudi JohnsonLions44
47Ahmad BradshawGiants47
48Jamaal CharlesChiefs48
49Kenny WatsonBengals50
50Michael BushRaidersNR

Notes: You can't have the No. 1 player in fantasy be questionable for two straight weeks because of a bad toe. Tomlinson is still a must-start (until you hear he's definitely not playing), but he's not the surest thing out there right now. Plus he has a clear handcuff in Sproles. … Barber is most efficient back in football from the one-yard line. I still worry he'll get hurt, but I'm again willing to admit I had him too low to begin the year. … I thought about dropping Addai further, and I don't expect him to do much against the Jags this week. That offensive line is really banged up. Still, history suggests some goal-line bunnies will come. … I was the voice of warning about Grant last week, and his hammy could continue to limit him. Still, these are season rankings, and I think for the season, he'll produce. … McFadden had a great day, but watch out for his turf toe. For this ranking, I've assumed it won't be a problem, but just ask LT owners how that can go. … This is where I wanted to have Larry Johnson all along. He looked dreadful against the Raiders. Tentative. Lumbering. I'd be very worried were I heavily invested in LJ. … Graham broke off a career-long run against the Falcons, but Dunn really is playing a lot. … Stewart is looking more like a starter by the week. He's already the Panthers' goal-line back, for sure. … Chris Johnson may not get the goal-line touches in Tennessee, but he's easily eclipsed White as the better fantasy play.

Wide Receiver Rankings
RANKNameTeamLast Week
1Terrell OwensCowboys1
2Reggie WayneColts2
3Larry FitzgeraldCardinals4
4Braylon EdwardsBrowns3
5Andre JohnsonTexans5
6Plaxico BurressGiants7
7Calvin JohnsonLions9
8Brandon MarshallBroncos12
9Randy MossPatriots8
10Anquan BoldinCardinals14
11Santonio HolmesSteelers11
12Steve SmithPanthers13
13T.J. HoushmandzadehBengals10
14Greg JenningsPackers19
15 Chad JohnsonBengals15
16Torry HoltRams17
17Dwayne BoweChiefs22
18Roddy WhiteFalcons18
19Jerricho CotcheryJets16
20Roy WilliamsLions20
21Marvin HarrisonColts21
22Lee EvansBills23
23Donald DriverPackers24
24Hines WardSteelers25
25Wes WelkerPatriots26
26Santana MossRedskins27
27Chris ChambersChargers28
28Marques ColstonSaints6
29Eddie RoyalBroncos31
30Laveranues ColesJets34
31Anthony GonzalezColts36
32DeSean JacksonEagles37
33Patrick CraytonCowboys33
34Ronald CurryRaiders29
35Vincent JacksonChargers38
36Bernard BerrianVikings30
37Justin GageTitans39
38Bryant Johnson49ers47
39Joey GallowayBuccaneers32
40Isaac Bruce49ersNR
41Muhsin MuhammadPanthers40
42Mark ClaytonRavens46
43Kevin WalterTexans48
44Matt JonesJaguarsNR
45Reggie WilliamsJaguars42
46Sidney RiceVikings35
47Bobby EngramSeahawksNR
48Reggie BrownEagles45
49Javon WalkerRaiders43
50Deion BranchSeahawksNR

Notes: Marshall caught 18 passes in Week 2, tied for second-most in a single game in NFL history. … Calvin Johnson haters: any questions? … Boldin scored three times, but Fitzgerald was the real difference-maker, as usual. After a quiet Week 1, Fitz racked up 153 receiving yards, including a 75-yarder. … Bowe recovered nicely from a drop-laden opener. Unfortunately, Tyler Thigpen was throwing him the ball most of the day. Damon Huard had a neck injury. … I had to find the breaking point where I could put Colston, who's out another five games because of thumb surgery. He'll likely rise a little bit each week over the next month. … DeSean Jackson was known as an immature player in college, and evinced his knuckleheadedness for the world to see on Monday Night Football, dropping the ball before crossing the goal line on a long pass. What a dolt. However, he's the best thing the Eagles have going in the receiving corps right now. … Galloway sprained his foot in Week 2, and was using crutches after the game. He doesn't seem likely to play next week. … Meanwhile, the Niners' receivers take a step up. Bruce looked rejuvenated (how many times in his career has someone written that?), while Bryant Johnson is making up for lost time by being really unpleasant to tackle after the catch. … Matt Jones is the Jags' top target for the moment. Maybe that'll change when Jerry Porter can play, or maybe Jones will head to prison because of cocaine charges. But he's ownable in deep leagues right now. … I'm through speculating which receivers might save Matt Hasselbeck. Now I'm ranking the injured guys, each of whom should be back around Week 5 or 6.

Tight End Rankings
RANKNameTeamLast Week
1Jason WittenCowboys2
2Antonio GatesChargers1
3Kellen WinslowBrowns3
4Tony GonzalezChiefs4
5Chris CooleyRedskins7
6Jeremy ShockeySaints6
7Dallas ClarkColts5
8Owen DanielsTexans8
9Tony SchefflerBroncos14
10Heath MillerSteelers9
11Todd HeapRavens11
12Vernon Davis49ers10
13Donald LeePackers12
14Greg OlsenBears13
15L.J. SmithEagles17
16Randy McMichaelRams18
17Zach MillerRaiders22
18Alge CrumplerTitans15
19John CarlsonSeahawks28
20Benjamin WatsonPatriots20
21Dustin KellerJets23
22Kevin BossGiants19
23Anthony FasanoDolphins24
24Dante RosarioPanthers26
25Robert RoyalBills21
26Desmond ClarkBears25
27Marcedes LewisJaguars27
28Bo ScaifeTitansNR
29Ben UtechtBengals16
30Alex SmithBuccaneers29

Notes: I've taken the plunge from Gates to Witten, the plunge I wanted to take this summer, but was too chicken to go through with. It's not like Gates was bad against the Broncos, but he's not himself, and Witten is just a force. The top four guys continue to separate themselves from the field, though. … I was decidedly not part of the Scheffler Bandwagon at our rankings summit this spring, and that turned out to be wrong. Yeah, Nate Jackson is playing, and yeah, Scheffler makes mental errors, but owning any starting piece of that Denver pass offense is starting to look mighty smart. … Miller led the Raiders in catches Sunday. With two! … Carlson seems like a very logical target for the Seahawks, now that Logan Payne is out for the year and Seneca Wallace is out for a couple weeks. … Utecht apparently took a heavy blow to the chest in Week 2, and is highly questionable for Sunday's game. I'm not going to be surprised to hear that he's out for a long while.

Defense Rankings
RANKNameLast Week
1Minnesota1
2NY Giants3
3New England4
4Green Bay5
5Pittsburgh8
6Tennessee10
7Chicago11
8Baltimore9
9Jacksonville6
10Dallas7
11San Diego2
12Tampa Bay13
13Buffalo14
14Philadelphia15
15Carolina18
16Oakland17
17Indianapolis16
18Seattle12
19NY Jets19
20Arizona20
21Houston21
22Washington22
23New Orleans23
24Denver24
25San Francisco25
26Atlanta26
27Cincinnati27
28Cleveland29
29Miami28
30Kansas City30
31St. Louis31
32Detroit32

Notes: The Chargers are my big dropper here. I'm not ready to say the problem is Shawne Merriman, though his absence doesn't help. The fact is that two consecutive opponents have marched up and down the field against San Diego, to the tune of 62 points in two games. The corners aren't making plays, and the team has registered two sacks in two games. … Meanwhile, the Titans are getting unbelievable play out of their defensive line. You know about Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch, but Tony Brown and Jevon Kearse (yeah, him) are playing well, too. … The Bears limited the Panthers to 216 total yards in their second straight road game, and nobody's special teams are better. … Maybe it's just that the offense is inconsistent, but the Seahawks' defense didn't make many plays in either of their first two games. When you make J.T. O'Sullivan look like Steve Young, time to suck it up.

Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.