Commentary

The Big Rotowski: Boldin, Tomlinson climb up rankings

Updated: October 29, 2008, 11:09 AM 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
RANK Name Team Last Week
1 Drew Brees Saints 1
2 Kurt Warner Cardinals 2
3 Donovan McNabb Eagles 3
4 Philip Rivers Chargers 6
5 Jay Cutler Broncos 5
6 Ben Roethlisberger Steelers 4
7 Peyton Manning Colts 7
8 Tony Romo Cowboys 8
9 Aaron Rodgers Packers 9
10 Matt Schaub Texans 12
11 Eli Manning Giants 10
12 David Garrard Jaguars 13
13 Brett Favre Jets 11
14 Trent Edwards Bills 14
15 Derek Anderson Browns 15
16 Kyle Orton Bears 16
17 Jake Delhomme Panthers 17
18 Jason Campbell Redskins 18
19 Matt Ryan Falcons 19
20 Marc Bulger Rams 20
21 Chad Pennington Dolphins 21
22 Matt Cassel Patriots 22
23 Jeff Garcia Buccaneers 23
24 Kerry Collins Titans 24
25 Gus Frerotte Vikings 25
26 Matt Hasselbeck Seahawks 33
27 JaMarcus Russell Raiders 27
28 Dan Orlovsky Lions 28
29 Ryan Fitzpatrick Bengals 30
30 Shaun Hill 49ers 32
31 Tyler Thigpen Chiefs 36
32 Joe Flacco Ravens 34
33 Seneca Wallace Seahawks 29
34 Brad Johnson Cowboys 35
35 J.T. O'Sullivan 49ers 26
36 Brady Quinn Browns 37
37 Matt Leinart Cardinals 38
38 Drew Stanton Lions 39
39 Vince Young Titans NR
40 Troy Smith Ravens NR

Notes: I called Philip Rivers a top-five option last week, then ranked him sixth. D'oh. With the O-line troubles San Diego faces every week, LaDainian Tomlinson can't be relied upon to be his old self every week anymore, his big effort against the Saints notwithstanding. Rivers is sixth in the league in attempts (after being 13th last year) and is still first in yards per attempt. … I'm not freaking out about Ben Roethlisberger's poor day against the Giants; that pass rush is a terrible matchup for a highly mediocre Steelers O-line. But boy, Big Ben really took a pounding. Too many more days like that, and we're going to be talking about injury timetables. … Since missing the Colts game in Week 5 (forever known as the Sage Rosenfels game), Matt Schaub has thrown for 379, 267 and 280 yards, six touchdowns and two picks. Granted, his past two games were against Detroit and Cincinnati. But he's a borderline fantasy starter in all leagues right now. … Brett Favre is what he is. The ungodly media fawning and announcer drivel notwithstanding, he does play pretty well a lot of the time, but he's back to his pre-2007 days, refusing to pass up the temptation of throwing into coverage. Hence Sunday's three interceptions. There's obviously great upside, but I view Favre as a matchup play some weeks. … I've ranked Matt Hasselbeck as though he's got a chance to return in the next week or two. I guess I'm buying into the Mike Holmgren media machine. If he comes back healthy (which is a mighty big if), he'd warrant a higher spot on this list. … The Niners have announced that Shaun Hill will get the start over J.T. O'Sullivan when they return from their bye. But don't be fooled by the numbers: Hill wasn't all that great Sunday until a couple of garbage-time throws. He's a short-pass specialist who'll limit the upside of everything in that offense that doesn't have "Gore" stitched on its jersey.

Running Back Rankings
RANK Name Team Last Week
1 Adrian Peterson Vikings 1
2 Brian Westbrook Eagles 4
3 Clinton Portis Redskins 3
4 Marion Barber Cowboys 2
5 Frank Gore 49ers 5
6 LaDainian Tomlinson Chargers 8
7 Brandon Jacobs Giants 6
8 Steven Jackson Rams 7
9 Marshawn Lynch Bills 9
10 Ronnie Brown Dolphins 10
11 Jamal Lewis Browns 11
12 Michael Turner Falcons 12
13 Matt Forte Bears 13
14 Ryan Grant Packers 14
15 Chris Johnson Titans 16
16 Steve Slaton Texans 19
17 Joseph Addai Colts 17
18 Maurice Jones-Drew Jaguars 15
19 Reggie Bush Saints 20
20 Thomas Jones Jets 18
21 Willie Parker Steelers 21
22 LenDale White Titans 22
23 Jonathan Stewart Panthers 23
24 DeAngelo Williams Panthers 25
25 Willis McGahee Ravens 24
26 Earnest Graham Buccaneers 27
27 Larry Johnson Chiefs 26
28 Justin Fargas Raiders 30
29 Fred Taylor Jaguars 29
30 Julius Jones Seahawks 31
31 Michael Pittman Broncos 33
32 Darren McFadden Raiders 28
33 Edgerrin James Cardinals 32
34 Cedric Benson Bengals 34
35 Warrick Dunn Buccaneers 35
36 Deuce McAllister Saints 38
37 Ahman Green Texans 40
38 Tim Hightower Cardinals 41
39 Mewelde Moore Steelers 50
40 Kevin Smith Lions 36
41 Rudi Johnson Lions 42
42 Felix Jones Cowboys 43
43 Dominic Rhodes Colts 39
44 Leon Washington Jets 48
45 Sammy Morris Patriots 37
46 Le'Ron McClain Ravens 46
47 Derrick Ward Giants NR
48 Kevin Faulk Patriots NR
49 Ricky Williams Dolphins 49
50 Chester Taylor Vikings 47

Notes: LaDainian Tomlinson looked more like himself in London; perhaps crummy food and no sun agrees with him! (Sorry, my legion of British readers.) LT's foot finally looked, to my non-medical eyes, like it didn't hurt when he tried to cut on it, and the results were there, albeit against a Saints defense that can stop either the run or the pass, but not both at the same time. … For the second straight week, Ahman Green looked better than Steve Slaton, but Slaton is going to get the most work as long as the Texans are winning. It also doesn't help Green's cause that he had to leave the game with a leg injury (which turned out to be a cramp). Slaton's short-term value takes a hit because of Green's re-emergence, but he actually rises in these rankings because I don't think Green can stay healthy for the rest of the season. … It wasn't Maurice Jones-Drew's fault that he converted 12 carries into 29 yards against the previously not-so-good-against-the-run Browns. There just weren't any holes. You'd have thought that the Jaguars would have shored up their makeshift O-line during their bye and come back fresh. You'd have been wrong. Reserve guard Chris Naeole broke his hand during pregame warmups Sunday, which didn't help. MJD had better produce over the next two week in road games against the Bengals and Lions, because after that he's got the Titans and Vikings. … Darren McFadden didn't play Sunday because of his toe injury, and it's pretty clear at this point that this is something that's going to bother him at least well into November. For now, Justin Fargas has more value, and will show it against worse defenses than the Ravens. Next week against the Falcons could be a good start. … As of this writing, it appeared that Deuce McAllister and others who have been busted for taking water pills (which can be used to mask steroid use) won't have their hearings with the league until mid-November, and even then, it's not clear what'll happen. That at least gives McAllister a couple of nice matchups when the Saints return from their bye (against Atlanta and Kansas City), though Reggie Bush will start working his way back into action soon. … Outside two Nate Washington bombs (each for a touchdown, though one was called back by a holding penalty), the main Steelers' offensive highlights Sunday belonged to Mewelde Moore, who ran it 19 times for 84 yards and a 32-yard score against the Giants. Mike Tomlin says Willie Parker will come back and play this week, but he said that last week, too, and didn't even list FWP on the injury report until Friday. Moore is going to have a role in this offense no matter what. … And while Leon Washington's fantasy numbers this week were plumped by his 60-yard scamper on which the Chiefs momentarily decided not to tackle, the Jets have to be considering using Washington more frequently. He's looking like a nice pickup for Thomas Jones owners.

Wide Receiver Rankings
RANK Name Team Last Week
1 Brandon Marshall Broncos 1
2 Larry Fitzgerald Cardinals 2
3 Andre Johnson Texans 4
4 Reggie Wayne Colts 3
5 Greg Jennings Packers 5
6 Steve Smith Panthers 6
7 Roddy White Falcons 9
8 Lee Evans Bills 11
9 Plaxico Burress Giants 7
10 Terrell Owens Cowboys 8
11 Calvin Johnson Lions 10
12 Randy Moss Patriots 12
13 Santana Moss Redskins 15
14 Dwayne Bowe Chiefs 14
15 Anquan Boldin Cardinals 19
16 Braylon Edwards Browns 16
17 Laveranues Coles Jets 18
18 Hines Ward Steelers 20
19 Jerricho Cotchery Jets 21
20 T.J. Houshmandzadeh Bengals 23
21 Marques Colston Saints 13
22 Santonio Holmes Steelers 17
23 Wes Welker Patriots 22
24 Donald Driver Packers 24
25 Bernard Berrian Vikings 25
26 Marvin Harrison Colts 26
27 Roy E. Williams Cowboys 31
28 DeSean Jackson Eagles 32
29 Vincent Jackson Chargers 29
30 Donnie Avery Rams 46
31 Eddie Royal Broncos 30
32 Chad Johnson Bengals 27
33 Chris Chambers Chargers 33
34 Kevin Walter Texans 34
35 Anthony Gonzalez Colts 35
36 Kevin Curtis Eagles 36
37 Lance Moore Saints 38
38 Steve Breaston Cardinals 42
39 Antonio Bryant Buccaneers 37
40 Torry Holt Rams 28
41 Muhsin Muhammad Panthers 39
42 Greg Camarillo Dolphins 40
43 Derrick Mason Ravens 44
44 Isaac Bruce 49ers 41
45 Matt Jones Jaguars 48
46 Shaun McDonald Lions NR
47 Bobby Engram Seahawks 49
48 Joey Galloway Buccaneers NR
49 Sidney Rice Vikings NR
50 Antwaan Randle El Redskins NR

Notes: Anquan Boldin is back, and despite missing two games with a broken face, he leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns with seven. The Cardinals have apparently given up any pretense of a running game, and will easily be able to support the fantasy relevance of Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston. … Since the legal system is currently having its way with Santonio Holmes and his marijuana cigars, it's hard to know what to do with him. The Steelers didn't seem overly inclined to use him this week, and it's also uncertain whether charges will be handed down quickly. The NFL might not be able to step in until the law does. For now, I've ranked Holmes as though he'll miss another game or two the rest of the way, but his status could vary wildly depending what happens. … Reggie Brown was inactive this week as Kevin Curtis returned to the Eagles' starting lineup. But DeSean Jackson maintained his status as Philly's best fantasy wideout, as I believed he would. A tandem of Jackson and Curtis is short on size, but can get the job done. … Coming out of the University of Houston, Donnie Avery was considered extremely fast but very raw, and what we've seen out of him during his emergence the past three weeks hasn't done anything to undo that perception. However, those who criticized the Rams for making Avery the first receiver taken in April didn't acknowledge that the kid has really good ball skills. Marc Bulger underthrew Avery almost every time he targeted him, but Avery made nice plays, and made the Patriots' overwhelmed secondary look stupid. He's clearly the deep threat in the St. Louis option, while Torry Holt has become a possession receiver like Keyshawn Johnson was late in his career. … Two weeks ago, Mike Furrey had six catches for 89 yards. This week, Shaun McDonald gets five catches for 68 yards. There's no real rhyme or reason yet with the Lions' second receiving option. I guess for the moment, McDonald gets the edge.

Tight End Rankings
RANK Name Team Last Week
1 Antonio Gates Chargers 2
2 Tony Gonzalez Chiefs 4
3 Kellen Winslow Browns 3
4 Owen Daniels Texans 5
5 Dallas Clark Colts 6
6 Jason Witten Cowboys 1
7 Tony Scheffler Broncos 11
8 Chris Cooley Redskins 7
9 Greg Olsen Bears 8
10 Zach Miller Raiders 9
11 Heath Miller Steelers 12
12 Jeremy Shockey Saints 14
13 John Carlson Seahawks 10
14 Vernon Davis 49ers 13
15 Anthony Fasano Dolphins 16
16 Bo Scaife Titans 17
17 L.J. Smith Eagles 18
18 Dustin Keller Jets 19
19 Todd Heap Ravens 15
20 Visanthe Shiancoe Vikings 20
21 Donald Lee Packers 21
22 Marcedes Lewis Jaguars 22
23 David Martin Dolphins 24
24 Alge Crumpler Titans 25
25 Alex Smith Buccaneers 26
26 Desmond Clark Bears 27
27 Benjamin Watson Patriots 23
28 Dante Rosario Panthers 28
29 Robert Royal Bills 29
30 Billy Miller Saints NR

Notes: As of this writing, it was unclear how bad Jason Witten's ribs are, though X-rays were reportedly negative. Wade Phillips didn't sound overly enthusiastic about his tight end being able to play against the Giants next week, especially considering Dallas has a bye thereafter. … Kellen Winslow was suspended, then un-suspended, and everyone involved came out looking like a first-class dunce. Regardless, he didn't play last week, and while all parties are (finally) saying the right things, one gets the idea that Winslow might be plying his trade elsewhere next year. … Tony Scheffler is expected back from his groin injury this week. … Vernon Davis' benching by Mike Singletary has gotten huzzahs of praise from the media; but of course, these are the same talking heads who kept singing the praises of Davis and his limitless potential up until, oh, I don't know, last Saturday. I don't think Singletary will hold this against Davis, because the organization is paying the kid too much money. But I keep going back to a teammate of Davis' from last year who said that Davis was the least mentally prepared football player he'd ever been around. … Todd Heap might still have a good game or two left in those legs, but I don't think he needs to be rostered in fantasy leagues any longer. I'll reiterate what I said last week: He looks ungodly slow, and I was wrong about him during the first month of this season.

Defense Rankings
RANK Name Last Week
1 Tennessee 1
2 Pittsburgh 2
3 N.Y. Giants 3
4 Philadelphia 4
5 Baltimore 5
6 Tampa Bay 6
7 Carolina 7
8 Minnesota 9
9 Buffalo 8
10 Miami 14
11 Green Bay 15
12 Chicago 11
13 Jacksonville 12
14 San Diego 10
15 New England 13
16 Washington 22
17 Indianapolis 17
18 N.Y. Jets 16
19 Dallas 19
20 Oakland 18
21 Houston 21
22 Arizona 20
23 Atlanta 23
24 St. Louis 25
25 New Orleans 24
26 Seattle 27
27 San Francisco 26
28 Denver 28
29 Cleveland 29
30 Kansas City 31
31 Cincinnati 30
32 Detroit 32

Notes: Jason Ferguson suited up for the Dolphins on Sunday despite his rib injury, and though he didn't make a tackle, he played well otherwise and offered a morale boost. When he's in there to plug up the middle, the Dolphins are a different defense, and are pretty usable against all but the most explosive offenses. … The Packers got healthier during their bye week, and given the shaky-looking options I had ranked ahead of them last week (hello, Chargers!), Green Bay is looking better by the game. … I guess we all underestimated the importance of Shawne Merriman. The Chargers still get sacks (17, tied for ninth in the league), but don't generate enough consistent pressure to cover for Antonio Cromartie, who's not playing at full speed. A lot of defenses look burnable against the Saints, but boy, that was a revolting display. … The Cowboys are going to be in super-rough shape on defense for at least one more week. Now Anthony Henry is out, so the Giants won't see any of Dallas's top three corners next week. Look out below. Terence Newman may be back after the team's Week 10 bye.

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

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