The Big Rotowski: Romo, T.O. take major tumbles
(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: Tony Romo's broken pinkie will reportedly have him sitting four games, which will lead someone in pretty much every fantasy league in existence scrambling to the waiver wire. Unfortunately, Brad Johnson doesn't figure to be much of a fantasy option. He's the Human Checkdown, and is unlikely to go deep unless defensive backs run into one another or get distracted by cheerleaders or something. As the weeks pass, you'll see Romo's ranking rise little by little; after all, he should be fine for the fantasy playoffs. Trent Edwards is reportedly recovered from his Week 5 concussion, and will play this week for the Bills against San Diego. Matt Hasselbeck has already been declared out for a Week 7 game against the Bucs. Seneca Wallace will play in his place. Hasselbeck's problem reportedly isn't the knee he injured against the Giants, but rather a bulging disk in his back. That sounds bad. For the moment, I think you hang onto him, but the news could get worse. Matt Ryan made a couple of bad mistakes that the Bears didn't punish him for in Week 6, and he definitely benefited from Chicago's litany of injured corners. But he played great. He should be owned in all leagues, even though he's still just a spot-start. Kyle Orton nearly matched Ryan pass-for-pass, and the days of Ron Turner's arch-conservative ways are gone. Orton wasn't all that accurate against Atlanta, but he was clutch and didn't commit turnovers. Carson Palmer is already out for Week 7, and is visiting a Mets team doctor who specializes in Tommy John surgery. Uh-oh. Ryan Fitzpatrick is his backup, but played terribly against the Jets. Wait a couple more days to hear something for sure, but it's sounding like a lost year for Palmer. Reports among Lions beat writers are that Jon Kitna may have played his last game for Detroit. According to MLive.com, the Lions are being very secretive about Kitna, and may be planning on trading him or putting him on IR because of his back. Dan Orlovsky has a big arm but isn't particularly accurate, and shouldn't be owned in fantasy leagues.
|Running Back Rankings|
Notes: Brian Westbrook gets a bye to sort out his broken ribs and injured ankle. I have to believe he'll start Week 8; if he doesn't, it'll be time to drop him further. Joseph Addai left Sunday's game with a hamstring tweak, and Dominic Rhodes had one huge run with Ravens hanging off him, a run that one had to wonder if Addai could make. Regardless, Tony Dungy says Addai's problem isn't serious, and he should return next week. Watch the injury reports, though. Willie Parker is expected back against the Bengals in Week 7; he likely won't match the production from his first two games, but he's a fantasy starter. Willis McGahee came out of Sunday's game in the third quarter and didn't return. What looked like a sweet matchup against the Colts turned terribly sour, as McGahee managed just 18 yards on eight carries. Physically, he doesn't seem right, and the Ravens seem to have really fallen out of love with him. Kevin Smith hurt his shoulder against the Vikings and didn't return. Rudi Johnson may start next week, but we know how this movie ends. I'd rather not use either guy. Selvin Young could return in time for Monday night's game against the Patriots, as his groin injury isn't considered serious. In his absence, though, Michael Pittman rushed for over 100 yards; it was the first time in eight games a Denver running back did so.
|Wide Receiver Rankings|
Notes: A few receivers stood out for their ridiculous play and/or opportunities in Week 6. Andre Johnson and Brandon Marshall got 19 and 18 targets, respectively. In particular, Johnson was an absolute beast, basically winning the Texans their first game single-handedly. Roddy White was absolutely everywhere for the Falcons, showing his best hands and concentration maybe ever. Tony Romo's injury throws Terrell Owens down the list, as he doesn't have nearly as much chance of catching a long pass from Brad Johnson. But he can still catch-and-run, which is why you don't think about benching him. Marques Colston should return from his thumb injury this week against the Panthers, and immediately goes back into every starting lineup on Earth. Lance Moore should stay on as the Saints' second receiver. Calvin Johnson scored a touchdown in Week 6, but only got seven targets from Dan Orlovsky. There's trouble brewing, but he's such an ascendant talent, you have to keep using him. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is the possession guy for Cincinnati, so with Ryan Fitzpatrick potentially settling in for a long stint as Bengals quarterback, Housh isn't rendered completely worthless. And Fitzpatrick did his best to keep Chad Johnson involved, too, getting him six targets. But some of that came in garbage time, and I don't trust the Bengals' offense to go downfield without Carson Palmer. Reggie Brown missed Week 6 with a bad groin, and DeSean Jackson reasserted himself. He's not a lock to be a starter in mid-sized leagues, but if you play with a flex, Jackson is a good option. Bobby Engram takes a hit with Matt Hasselbeck out. How does your sure-handed slot guy have zero catches (and only four targets) if you're Charlie Frye? Anquan Boldin could return after the Cardinals' bye, but Steve Breaston has earned a place at the table regardless. In his past three games, Breaston has 27 targets, 24 catches and 301 yards. He'll have fantasy value as Arizona's third receiver.
|Tight End Rankings|
Notes: I don't downgrade Jason Witten at all. Brad Johnson loves to check to secondary receivers. Tony Scheffler's injury is reportedly not a sports hernia, which is very good news for his fantasy owners. It's a groin problem, and it might allow him to play as soon as Monday against New England. Jeremy Shockey seems less certain to play in Week 7 against the Panthers than his teammate Marques Colston, but I give him a pretty good chance of getting in there. Apparently, his surgically repaired groin is all right, but he's just not in football shape yet. A week after I gave up completely on him (and a week after Mike Martz said he didn't think he was a very good pass-catcher yet), Vernon Davis logged six catches for 75 yards against the Eagles. He'll be inconsistent, but he clearly flashed what made him a first-round draft pick.
Notes: The Ravens had their corners exposed against the Colts; the fact that Frank Walker looked bad against Reggie Wayne wasn't that much of a surprise, but the fact that Chris McAlister got torched by Marvin Harrison was alarming. The Bears can stuff the run with the best of them, but as long as they've got so many wounded defensive backs, they're going to be tough to start. Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman could both miss next week's game. The Patriots need to cut ex-Bengals corner Deltha O'Neal. Until they do, I wouldn't use them in any fantasy league. The Cowboys are also really hurting at corner. Terence Newman is hurt, and Anthony Henry was embarrassed by the Cardinals this week. I'm not getting carried away by the Colts' fine effort Sunday. Yes, they bore down and stopped the run against a quarterback who couldn't hurt them, and in retrospect, doubting that was a mistake. And Robert Mathis looked great schooling ancient Willie Anderson on the Ravens O-line. But things get harder as soon as this week against the Packers.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.