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Fantasy Roundtable - Week 10

Various staff members will share their views on a range of topics each week in discussion format. Feel free to eavesdrop.

Quick Links to Topics:

Reggie Brown
Waiver Wire QBs
Chris Brown & Reuben Droughns
Andre Johnson
Midseason Awards

Reggie Brown

Maurile Tremblay: Terrell Owens appears to be done for the year. What impact will that have on the rest of the Eagles’ fantasy value, particularly Reggie Brown’s?

Dave Baker: Brown was mostly an afterthought when Owens was in the lineup. With Owens out, there’s a lot to like about Brown, and his five catches for 94 yards and a touchdown last week is reason for hope. Even so, I think that game may have been a bit of an aberration. Brian Westbrook remains a huge target and I think Greg Lewis is next. Brown is certainly in the mix along with LJ Smith after those two guys, but McNabb will likely spread the ball around as he did in the past before Owens' arrival.

Chris Smith: Obviously Reggie Brown's fantasy value rises significantly with the loss of Terrell Owens from the starting lineup. But do not make the mistake of believing that Brown automatically steps into Owens’ spot as the number one guy in the offense. He'll put up a few strong weeks throughout the final half of the season but he'll share numbers with fellow receiver Greg Lewis and the top receiving options will likely be Brian Westbrook and TE L.J. Smith. The Eagles will likely attempt to run the ball more without Owens on the field.

Cecil Lammey: I love Reggie Brown's attitude and work ethic. He has an infectious personality and, from what I hear, is a great teammate. He has the skill set to be successful in the NFL. For being a rookie he is already a good route runner and he knows how to use his frame to shield away from defenders and provide the QB with a good target. He has good hands and can pick up plenty of yards after the catch. Reggie Brown is not the playmaker that Terrell Owens is, but he is more of a team player than T.O. and that's why he has good value from here on. The Eagles are going to keep throwing, and Brown will see plenty of passes in the second half of '05.

Will Grant: Even at 4-4, Philly is still in the playoff hunt. They have played the fewest division games up to this point, and all other division rivals have at least one loss in division. If the Eagles can get it together, they can still return to the playoffs. With the Owens distraction out of the way, Philly can focus on making it back to the playoffs. That's going to require a lot of help from Westbrook, Lewis, L.J. Smith and Reggie Brown. Brown looked great this week, and he has looked strong over the last few games. If the Eagles hope to make it without Owens, they need to redistribute his receptions to other players. Brown has proven he can handle the increased load. Look for Westbrook to catch more dump passes and Smith and Lewis to get a stat bump as well.

Jason Wood: Reggie Brown's value is obviously contingent on T.O.'s fate. That said, we now know T.O. is a goner, which opens the door for Brown to be a starter and playmaker. We caught a glimpse of what he could accomplish in that early TD catch against Washington, but he was much less inspiring as the game went on. As with any rookie in this complex offensive system, he's going to have to be used strategically, and Philadelphia will have to pare down the playbook somewhat. Overall I think his future is bright in Philadelphia and, from a pedigree standpoint, he is the only WR on the roster that actually projects as a future WR1.


Waiver Wire QBs

Maurile Tremblay: There are a number of QBs who have just fallen into (or resumed) the starting job on their NFL team, and who are probably available through waivers in many leagues. Which guys, if any, do you think will have decent fantasy value from here on out: Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson, Cody Pickett, Brooks Bollinger, Chris Simms.

Will Grant: In order, I'd rank them Johnson, Warner, Bollinger, Simms and Pickett. Pickett is simply holding a place for Alex Smith. Simms has the job, but will probably lose it to Rattay or McCown before the season is over. Testaverde has looked horrible since he returned, and Bollinger will probably have the job from here on out. Warner will be the starter as long as he can prove he can win. They have a solid group of WRs, but without a running game, the Cardinals are going to be easy to defend. Johnson takes over just as Burleson is returning from injury. The Vikings are still in the hunt for the division title. With Culpepper gone for the season, Johnson is the clear choice at QB. Another guy to consider for many of the same reasons is Rex Grossman. Orton has won, but struggled against some very weak teams. The Bears have a two game lead on Detroit and Minnesota, but after San Francisco this weekend, they get Carolina, Tampa, Pittsburgh and Atlanta over their next five games. Orton has a 62.9 passer rating and is averaging just 5.3 yards per attempt. When Grossman is healthy, he should get the starting job back to try to help the Bears win the division.

Chris Smith: To me this is an easy one. Brad Johnson is a proven vet who is now the clear-cut starter on a Vikings team that is remarkably still in a playoff hunt in the weak NFC North. After him, Warner is likely the best bet but you cannot ignore his brutally low number of touchdown passes on the season (2 TDs out of 149 attempts). Bollinger is probably not worthy of a starting spot and Chris Simms will have a problem holding onto the starting spot if he cannot steer this team in the right direction. Go with Johnson.

Dave Baker: Warner has the most upside, especially if Boldin is back in time for your league's playoffs. But Warner is also the most likely to be benched again. Brad Johnson is a smart bet since the job is his and he's a steady veteran presence. And Bollinger and Simms have decent value too. If it's a steady backup that's needed (maybe for a bye problem) I'd go with Johnson. But I'd jump on Warner for upside if I had other decent alternatives at QB where the risk is worth it.

Jason Wood: Can I take a pass? In all seriousness, halfway through the fantasy season if you're relying on any of these guys to carry you home you probably aren't a playoff contender anyway. But, as we saw last year with guys like Billy Volek, surprises do happen. Of those listed, I would rank them: 1) Johnson, 2) Warner, 3) Simms, 4) Bollinger, 5) Pickett.


Chris Brown & Reuben Droughns

Maurile Tremblay: Last week's matchup between the Titans and Browns featured a couple of running backs who have very quietly started to come on strong in the last few weeks. Reuben Droughns has 315 yards rushing in the last three games, and Brown has 192 yards rushing and 2 TDs in the last two games. Do you see them as being every-week starters (i.e., top 24 fantasy RBs) over the second half of the season?

Jason Wood: Droughns is VERY compelling in my opinion. Looking at his remaining strength of schedule, it doesn't get much better than that in terms of favorable matchups. Brown has a solid remaining schedule too, but Droughns has one of the easiest series of games in the all important fantasy playoff window. As long as they both stay healthy, I think they've earned the rights to be the main ballcarriers. Travis Henry played his way out of the rotation by getting suspended, and he's new to the team so I'm not sure how much goodwill he had to burn in the first place. Lee Suggs just can not stay on the field, and we know that Romeo Crennel is going to run, run, run and try to keep his team competitive.

Dave Baker: I've always liked Chris Brown as a runner. The only question mark for me was his health. If he can stay healthy, he's a solid option. As for Droughns, it's harder and harder to ignore him. His numbers have been very nice. One interesting point for Droughns is his competition. Cleveland hasn't faced a respectable offense in the last five games. So Cleveland has always been able to stay close and run the ball. Cleveland has some tougher offensive teams later (Cincy twice, Pitt twice, and Oakland). Regardless, Droughns is a good option from here on out. He's been too successful to ignore any longer.

Chris Smith: I agree with Dave in that Chris Brown always had the skills to be a strong fantasy presence if he could shake the injury bug, and he now is running hard and putting up solid numbers. Reuben Droughns is harder to get a read on. He is playing well but has been unable to score even a single touchdown on the season which obviously hinders his potential to put up big fantasy points. Add to that the fact that Lee Suggs is set to return in another couple of weeks, and Suggs is more explosive and capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. That could reduce Droughns’ fantasy value throughout the second half of the season. He is a decent starting option for now but I wouldn't go out of my way to start him.

Will Grant: As the others mentioned, Brown can put up great numbers when he is healthy. However, so can Travis Henry. Brown is worth starting if you have him, but be aware that Henry could step in and steal numbers. RBBC could kill Brown's value as a starter. The biggest knock on Droughns at this point has to be his lack of rushing TDs. He's averaging 4.5 YPC and has over 800 yards from scrimmage so far. But he hasn't crossed the goal line with the ball. In fact, the Browns have only one rushing TD for the entire season. That just KILLS a running back’s fantasy value. A running back with HALF as many yards from scrimmage will outperform Droughns if he crosses the goal line just once per game. As long as Droughns continues to log 100 yards per game, he's worth starting in performance leagues. But without rushing or receiving TDs, he's always going to be a threat to disappoint.

Chris Smith: Brown has been running very well and I would be stunned if Henry really cuts into his production at all unless he can't avoid the injury bug. I believe Brown will continue to get the bulk of the work, and occasionally being spelled by Henry will only help him to stay fresh and hopefully healthy. Henry did next to nothing earlier this season and nothing has really changed to make a believer out of me now that he is back.


Andre Johnson

Maurile Tremblay: For the first time this season, the David Carr-Andre Johnson connection looked pretty good last Sunday. Was it just an unusually good day for Carr (and therefore an aberration), or will he have more games like that now that Johnson is back in the line-up?

Will Grant: Going into this weekend's game, Jabbar Gaffney lead the Texans in receptions. Over the previous three weeks, he had 19 receptions. This week, Johnson was back and Gaffney posted a grand total of 1 grab for 7 yards. Johnson has 145 receptions over the past two seasons, and you can expect that he's going to be the focal point of the passing attack when he's healthy again. I'd be careful though before inserting him back into my fantasy starting lineup because Johnson definitely underperformed over the first three games of the season. One good game doesn't mean you should automatically insert him back into your starting lineup.

Jason Wood: Andre Johnson is a special talent. When a team is averaging less than 200 passing yards per game, and the QB is getting sacked at an historic rate, how on Earth can any WR, regardless of talent, make an impact? Add to that AJ's lingering maladies and I think his absence from the fantasy leaderboard is logically explained. I think we can take last week's performance as an indication that AJ is back and healthy. But does that really solve the bigger issue of the state of the entire offense? I don't see how that can be the case. Unfortunately everyone drafted AJ as their WR1 (or a very solid WR2) and he can't be relied on in that regard. BUT...by now the competitive teams who own AJ have found ways to do without him in their lineups, meaning any semblance of productivity from AJ would be a bonus.

Dave Baker: Well, it wasn't like the Jaguars couldn't get to Carr yesterday. Carr was sacked six times, yet still managed to get off 30 passes. If Carr throws 25+ times in a game, and for over 200 yards, then Johnson's value is huge. I mentioned in a recent roundtable discussion that Johnson is just too talented to stay down for long. I like Carr. His problems have been related to time to throw. Every time I look, Carr is taking a three step drop and still gets hurried. Their line is terrible. But I don't think yesterday is an aberration. Just look at last year as Carr didn't have much more time to throw, yet Johnson had a big season. I like Johnson's prospects from here out.

Chris Smith: I pretty much agree with Dave here. I don't think Carr is in a system that best suits his talents and the swinging gate that is the Texans’ offensive line makes it difficult for him to succeed. If Andre Johnson is healthy, he will get a number of looks throughout the second half of the season and he'll be a viable fantasy starter from this point on.


Midseason Awards

Maurile Tremblay: Every team has now played at least 8 games. Time for us to pronounce the best and worst fantasy picks thus far. Let’s start with the worst. Name your Biggest Bust (for reasons other than injury).

Dave Baker: I think the biggest bust this season has been Kevin Jones. He has only 429 total yards, although he has four touchdowns. But he has never rushed for more than 87 yards in a game this season. Just behind Jones is Jamal Lewis. Lewis has not done anything this year and has only two touchdowns on the year. He is averaging an abysmal 3.0 yards per carry.

Will Grant: I agree with Dave on Kevin Jones. It's hard to argue the guy isn't a bust when he was a late first round/early second around pick and as of now, he's not even a top 25 fantasy back in most performance leagues. Another RB would be Portis, also a first round selection who is currently giving third round value. At WR, Andre Johnson is the obvious choice. Sure he's been injured, but for the first five games of the season he was totally unproductive. Randy Moss is hard to call a “bust,” but he's not generating the late 1st round, early 2nd round value that he should. Reggie Wayne also started off very slow. He had a nice game last week, but before that he wasn't even in the top 100 overall.

Chris Smith: I’ll name one player from each major position (QB, RB, WR). Culpepper is the biggest bust at QB, even before his injury. He was a consensus top quarterback and he failed to live up to the hype. His 6 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions was an accurate reflection of his 2005 fantasy impact and he was a disastrous pick for any fantasy owner who selected him within the first three rounds. At RB, I’ll disagree with Dave’s and Will’s picks of Kevin Jones and instead go with Jamal Lewis. He is averaging a brutal 3.0 yards per carry and has only one rushing touchdown on the year. He has been a huge disappointment and has been reduced to nothing more than a depth player on most owners’ fantasy rosters. Finally, at WR my pick is Michael Clayton. While a number of players have disappointed at the receiver position this year, the biggest disappointment has been second year receiver Michael Clayton, who only has 25 receptions for 275 yards on the season and has yet to score a touchdown. Nobody expected him to tumble so far after a tremendous first season in the NFL.

Jason Wood: I’m tempted to go along with Dave’s and Will’s pick of Kevin Jones. He’s a consensus top ten pick who just hasn’t produced. But I actually think Daunte Culpepper is the even bigger bust. He was terrible before he got hurt, and he won’t have a chance to redeem himself this year.

Maurile Tremblay: How about Best Value?

Dave Baker: Best value is tough. Thomas Jones has been the best value play at RB. He has rushed for over 100 yards four times and scored six times. And he was taken pretty late in most drafts. At WR, Santana Moss and Joey Galloway have been huge. Both were taken very late in drafts. Moss has 856 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Galloway has 731 yards and six touchdowns. But my best value is going to go to Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe was undrafted even in some deep leagues. But halfway through the season he has over 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Will Grant: For RBs it's Lamont Jordan. He's a top 5 RB now, and he was probably taken in the late second or early third round. Warrick Dunn and Stephen Davis are both performing much better than many people thought they would. At WR my pick is Steve Smith. He was a late fourth round pick and is on pace to finish as the number one fantasy receiver. In addition to Moss and Galloway, whom Dave mentioned, Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson have also been nice values, having benefited from Drew Bledsoe's revival.

Chris Smith: At QB I’ll go with Mark Brunell. He was an afterthought at best in fantasy drafts but he has emerged as a legitimate fantasy threat and is a valuable starter on most rosters. Honorable mention to Drew Brees. At RB, Thomas Jones is the man. The Bears drafted Cedric Benson early in round one, but it has been the veteran Jones who has carried this team to a great start. He has rushed for 753 yards and 6 touchdowns on the year. Honorable mention to Fast Willie Parker. At WR, there is a three-way tie for first place. Steve Smith has been remarkable (903 yards and 9 touchdowns); Santana Moss has been explosive (856 yards and 5 touchdowns) while Joey Galloway looks 24 again (731 yards and 6 touchdowns). Honorable mention to Kevin Curtis (534 yards and 4 touchdowns).

Jason Wood: The best value has been Steve Smith, for the reasons Will and Chris mentioned. He’s been so spectacular this year, he has to get the nod over Thomas Jones and Santana Moss, who would be next on my list.

Mike Herman: How about the Golden Boot Award?

Chris Smith: That’s got to be Neil Rackers. Rackers has kicked nine more field goals than any other kicker this year (26 for 26 on the season). He has been a fantasy juggernaut from the kicker position.

Mike Herman: Good choice.

Maurile Tremblay: A few more for those TD-only leagues? How about the “All He Does Is Score Touchdowns” Award?

Chris Smith: Rookie Brandon Jacobs (RB, NYG) has scored 5 times on only 26 carries this season.

David Yudkin: Surprisingly, there are a few other candidates as well. Mike Sellers (TE/FB, WAS) has 5 TDs on 10 touches, and Kyle Johnson (FB, DEN) has 5 TDs on 12 touches.

Maurile Tremblay: And the “He Can’t Score A Touchdown To Save His Life” Award?

Chris Smith: This one goes to Reuben Droughns, who has 145 carries for 645 yards, but hasn’t found the end zone at all. He is the only RB in the top thirty without a score.


Maurile Tremblay: That’s a wrap. Winners of our midseason awards can contact David Dodds about a complimentary FBG subscription in 2006. Meanwhile, I’ll see you guys back here again next week.

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