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Fantasy Roundtable - Week 11

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:

Chris Simms and J.P. Losman
Corey Dillon, Kevin Jones, Cadillac Williams
Greg Jones, Sam Gado, Frank Gore
Donovan McNabb
Matt Jones
Joey Harrington, Roy Williams

Chris Simms and J.P. Losman

Maurile Tremblay: Chris Simms and J.P. Losman both had good games this past week after having struggled in previous starts. Is either guy ready to be a winning QB in this league, or will they continue to have more bad weeks than good weeks over the rest of this season?

Marc Levin: Jon Gruden has a knack for making quarterbacks look good; his system is designed for the QB to excel. I believe the Buccaneers are poised to make their run in the highly competitive -- and very fun to watch -- NFC South. Without a viable backup QB behind him, Chris Simms is finally starting to look comfortable and he is in a QB-friendly system. As for Losman, I believe he had one decent game at home. And he didn't even have all that good a game; he simply cut down on the mistakes. While he threw two TDs, the Bills' defense won that game. The Bills may win more games than they lose from here on out, but in my opinion, JP Losman will not be the reason. Nor will his fantasy statistics be particularly noteworthy. On the other hand, I believe Chris Simms will be in charge of managing an offense that requires the QB to have decent numbers to succeed and he will be responsible for several of his team's victories, in addition to putting up decent fantasy numbers.

Dave Baker: I am more confident in Tampa Bay winning games going forward than Buffalo, regardless of their QB situation. So I envision Simms winning more games the rest of the season. But I believe both quarterbacks will put up more bad weeks than good ones the rest of this season.

David Yudkin: Tampa Bay seems to have an offensive scheme more conducive to passing than Buffalo's. Tampa Bay has averaged 223 passing yards per game and has had 12 passing TDs. Buffalo has averaged 159 passing yards and has had 9 passing TDs. I wouldn't be thrilled to start a QB from either team fantasy-wise, but in deep leagues either one might be an OK fill-in if other options are limited.

Jason Wood: It's way too early in either QB's career to count them out. At one point guys like Rich Gannon and Trent Green were considered journeymen and then went on to be Pro Bowl performers...and in Simms and Losman's cases, they enter the league with considerably better pedigrees. If I'm banking on the rest of THIS YEAR, I give the nod to Simms. That's really a byproduct of my respect for Gruden and his system versus Mularkey and Buffalo's system.

Bob Henry: I agree with Jason's sentiments. I tend to think Losman is a lot more like Rob "SurferBoy" Johnson or Kyle Boller than Rich Gannon, but time could definitely prove me wrong in my assessment. As for Simms, I think he's showing some signs that the light is going on, but that could be a byproduct of playing in Gruden's fantasy friendly offense.  I don't have a lot of faith in either QB in terms of real or fantasy football if they are pitted against a tough defense like Chicago, Pittsburgh or Indianapolis. Simms is a sack waiting to happen, while Losman just runs around a little before the result ends up being the same.

Chris Smith: Very good comments from the other guys. J.P. Losman is still very erratic in his passing. He frequently overshoots his receivers and tends to make poor decisions. He reminds me a lot of Kyle Boller and I am far from convinced that he'll be able to make the leap to a legitimate and consistent starting quarterback over the next few seasons. He is very athletic but that alone doesn't cut it as an NFL quarterback. I am a little higher on Chris Simms. He seems to me to have an edge in the mental aspect of the game which is a big plus for a young quarterback. He also has a long way to go but his understanding of the game in combination with a better touch on the ball and a much better system in Tampa Bay for quarterbacks should make him the stronger player for the rest of this year and he'll fight for playing time in 2006. I expect him to improve as the year wears on.

Corey Dillon, Kevin Jones, Cadillac Williams

Maurile Tremblay: Who will put up the best stats from here on out, Corey Dillon, Kevin Jones, or Cadillac Williams?

Marc Levin: With Dillon looking like he is hurt again, and having battled a lot of injuries all year, I will eliminate him. Anyway, the team seems content to ride Brady's arm and use the run to offset the pass, rather than what they did in 2004 when Dillon was a workhorse for them. Cadillac looked explosive to start the year, but he has been very slow to come back from injury, and he faces some difficult defenses down the stretch (ATL, CHI, NO, CAR, NE, ATL, NO). The two New Orleans games are the only easy run defenses on his schedule, and he appears to be losing some touches to a healthy Mike Alstott at the goal line. By default, Kevin Jones will be the best of the three. Outside of Pitt in week 17, he has a very nice fantasy playoff schedule (DAL, ATL, MIN, GB, CIN, NO, PIT). Finally, Kevin Jones is much more integral to the Lions' weekly game plan than Cadillac currently is to his team, or an injured Dillon is to the "plug and play" Pats.

Jason Wood: I'm honestly baffled at Cadillac Williams. Either he's still nowhere close to healthy but is gutting it out or his confidence has really been shaken because he looks NOTHING like the back who had everyone abuzz in the first few weeks of the season. To see Mike Alstott get three short yardage TDs this week really put the nail in the coffin of my expectations for Caddy. For Gruden to use Alstott in the key short yardage role in place of his touted rookie (whom Gruden gushed about during the preseason) tells the story. That leaves Kevin Jones and Corey Dillon. I'll presume Dillon comes back and is healthy enough for the remainder of the season and cast my vote his way. That said, if Dillon doesn't recover as expected, I would probably lament owning any of these guys.

Chris Smith: While the news is that Cadillac Williams is healthy, I just don't buy into it. I think he is attempting to gut it out and it is affecting his play. If he can get healthy, I believe he can find the success he enjoyed earlier in the season but he is a question mark right now. I believe Dillon will be hit and miss all season as the Patriots are relying on the arm of Brady to lead them to victory. Much like Williams though, if Dillon can get healthy he can be a difference maker. Kevin Jones is the enigma of the trio. There is no reason why he can't be performing at a higher level but just doesn't appear capable to put up consistently strong numbers. Add to that Mooch's penchant for using RBBC and a mediocre offensive line when it comes to run blocking and I don't really like Jones going forward either. If I have to pick one of the three, I'm going with Williams who will definitely get his touches down the stretch if he can get healthy. At least he's shown this season he can get the job done while Jones has been a huge disappointment.

Dave Baker: Last week I chose Kevin Jones for midseason Bust of the Year, but I actually like him the best of the guys you mentioned. He's the healthiest, and that goes a long way for me right now.

David Yudkin: I am no Jones supporter, but I think Dave is on the right track. Dillon has not shown the ability to stay on the field this year and the Pats' OL took another hit this week with Koppen being placed on IR. That makes two rookie starters and a replacement center playing next to each other. Hardly an ideal situation. Williams also seems to have lingering health issues. After scoring 53 fantasy points in the first 3 weeks of the season, he's produced only 6 since then. At the very least, Jones has played every game so far. If nothing else, I'd rather start a guy that will be in the lineup than someone that is a game time decision every week or a RB that plays one down and then has to sit the rest of the game.

Bob Henry: All three players have some soft spots in the remaining schedule, but ultimately this one comes down to health. Kevin Jones is healthy. The other two, not so much. That said, part of the reason that Jones is healthy is the ongoing baby glove treatment that Mooch is using with him. A quote from Mooch's press conference following Sunday's win over Arizona underscores the ground swell of contempt the Lions fan base has for Mooch. "Kevin will get his carries," Mariucci said. "He's certainly a good back. He'd love the ball 30 times a game, like any good back would." That is fine, but then he went on to add the following. "Shawn Bryson is worth his weight in gold." ...and the beat goes on. Unless Caddy and Corey make tremendous strides regarding their health and production, I'd still reluctantly say that Jones is the best bet.

Marc Levin: Dillon's health problems are worrisome, for sure, and that is the obvious reason he is a question mark. That said, at this point in the season, even if Dillon were 100% healthy, the inconsistency of the Pats ground game makes me prefer Jones. The Pats are ranked near the bottom of the league in carries, yards, and YPC - and that is not due to Dillon being unhealthy. The OL woes hurt the ground game significantly more than the pass, and the team will win on Brady's arms, not the running game's legs. If it were not for the seven TDs he has run this year, Dillon's fantasy numbers would be pathetic; when healthy, he still wasn't getting yardage. While Jones is not looking much better, and he doesn't have the TDs, he is at least healthy and is clearly still a focus of the team's offense.

Greg Jones, Sam Gado, Frank Gore

Maurile Tremblay: Who will put up better stats from here on out, Greg Jones or Sam Gado?

Bob Henry: Tucan Sam, but only because I think Gado has a better chance to carry the load for the next 7 games. When Fred Taylor comes back, I’d expect him to get the carries over Greg Jones, and Gore will be splitting carries with Kevan Barlow.

Marc Levin: What Bob said. Unless Fred Taylor is out longer than expected, Gado's opportunities (and his apparent ability to take very good advantage of those opportunities) will likely outstrip Jones' and Gore’s opportunities for the rest of this year.

Jason Wood: This is really a discussion about playing time more than ability. I can't see how anyone isn't impressed with what Greg Jones has done spelling Taylor, particularly since he was "relegated" to fullback duties supposedly this year. If Gado, Jones and Gore were all guaranteed to be the starters for their respective squads from here on out...I would give Jones the nod.

Chris Smith: I agree that Gado is clearly in the better situation right now over both Gore and Greg Jones although the word is Gore is going to see more playing time from this point on. The 49ers offense is a train wreck though and I wouldn't want to rely on any offensive player in San Fran which of course takes Gore out of the running for this season. If Greg Jones gets the playing time, he is a very nice starter this year. He has proved (much like Droughns did last year) that former tailbacks slotted into the fullback position can thrive in the NFL if given a shot.

David Yudkin: Green Bay has so few options at RB that Gado wins this by default. The Jags and Niners still have other healthy and unhealthy options, so Jones and Gore may only get a small piece of the pie instead of the whole thing.

Dave Baker: This game is all about opportunity. Gado is the one with the best opportunity, so he gets my vote.

Donovan McNabb

Marc Levin: Donovan McNabb has a very favorable schedule the rest of the year, including a three game home stand against some pass defenses that can be exploited: @NYG, GB, SEA, NYG, @STL, @ARI, WAS. Is this a good time to target him in a trade since he can be had fairly cheaply? Or given the loss of Terrell Owens and the multiple injuries McNabb has sustained, are fantasy owners better off avoiding him? Is there a risk that the Eagles will find themselves out of the playoff hunt down the stretch and take McNabb out of action?

Will Grant: Monday night’s loss was tough. McNabb really looked hurt down the stretch. That shot that he took on the interception didn't look very hard, but he landed hard and could not have continued. Opposing defenses have to know that pounding on him is going to take its toll. McNabb could have a few good games, but he could also take one solid shot and be done for the season. I think that risk is too great to go into a fantasy playoff with McNabb as your main QB. As far as the NFL playoff race goes, the Eagles are going to be in it to the end. Even with the loss to Dallas, they are only 2 games out of first place. There are still 7 games left. If they can string together a couple wins, I think they're going to be right back into it.

Marc Levin: I agree he looked like he was struggling due to injury, and there was an emphasis on the run in the Monday night game. The two may be related: if the team can establish the run game, they can protect McNabb from taking hits. But I can't help loving their upcoming schedule. I believe that as long as the Eagles are in contention, it will take a lot more than McNabb's current injuries to sideline him. In all, though, and especially after watching the Monday night game, I agree with you, Will. If he can be bought low enough and you are hurting for a potential top ten QB, McNabb could be a good buy low candidate; but he comes with a pretty decent risk factor for either injury or for Andy Reid changing to a run-based game plan to protect him from further injury. He really was struggling on Monday night to get good velocity on his throws. It was like he was locked at the hips and shoulders on every fourth quarter throw.

Maurile Tremblay: His health is a bigger issue than the loss of T.O. McNabb has put up great fantasy numbers in the past without T.O., but that was when he was a legitimate threat to get points on the ground. His rushing TD on Monday night notwithstanding, McNabb isn't the dual threat right now that he used to be. As long as he plays, and as long as the Eagles attempt 35+ passes a game, McNabb will be a decent fantasy option. But he's not a stud. Not right now. QB is the easiest position to fill of the main three (RB, WR, QB), so I wouldn't give up very much to acquire McNabb right now when there are plenty of other candidates (Warner, Simms, Harrington, etc) who may not be a huge drop-off from McNabb and can be acquired off waivers or in a very cheap trade.

Jason Wood: As an Eagles season ticket holder and noted Philly homer, I certainly have a strong opinion on this one. Bottom line, McNabb isn't (and hasn’t been) himself this year and that's simply not going to change for the better until he has offseason surgery. I honestly believe that his groin injury could signal a decision to shelve him soon and have the requisite surgery on his hernia. At 4-5, if the Eagles don't beat New York this week, they're all but eliminated from the playoff picture (given where they stand in the NFC East) and are already long gone from their preseason goal of a Super Bowl crown. From that perspective, I just can't believe that picking up McNabb is the smart play for the stretch run. You may get him for a discount if his current owner is worried, but then again those worries seem well founded at this juncture.

Will Grant: I didn't think about it, but Jason has a point here. McNabb is out for the game with the Giants, and a loss there almost certainly puts them out of the playoff hunt. With the Giants and Cowboys both holding the tie-breaker, Philly wouldn't have much chance.

David Yudkin: I have McNabb and couldn't give him away for a half eaten, stale box of Cracker Jacks. His numbers have consistently slipped as the year has progressed; there's his plethora of bumps, bruises, and abrasions; and the hole left from T.O.'s departure will be impossible to fill. I'm thinking McNabb will struggle to get on the field from week-to-week, let alone hang 30 fantasy points on the scoreboard. Favorable schedule or not, I wouldn't feel all that confident in starting McNabb, if for nothing else the very real possibility that he has to come out early in the game and getting stuck with a handful of fantasy points.

Matt Jones

Maurile Tremblay: Matt Jones had his first 100-yard game as a receiver last week against the Ravens. What's his outlook for the rest of the year? Could he be the Jaguars' leading receiver the rest of the way, or is Jimmy Smith still going to be the man for at least another half season?

Bob Henry: The Jags have an excellent schedule as far as passing matchups go. Leftwich should be a top 10 QB the rest of the way in my estimation. However, I don't know that Jones will be consistent from a fantasy perspective. One week, it will be Smith. The next week it might be Jones. Then it might be Wilford. Heck, we haven't even seen much Reggie Williams, yet. I suspect he'll have one solid game before the season is over, too.

Marc Levin: I see this as being similar to the Ernest Wilford discussion we had a few weeks ago. Jack Del Rio said in a recent press conference that the Jaguars need to know that they are more than just Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith. The team has definitely found several offensive threats over the last few weeks -- Wilford, Matt Jones, and Greg Jones have all made significant contributions. That said, I can't imagine consistency from any Jaguar receiver given the way their defense is playing. I believe we will see some more good games from all of the Jags receivers - but whether that will be Jones, Wilford, Smith, or even Williams on any given week is a crap shoot.

Dave Baker: I don't see Matt Jones as yet being a mature enough NFL receiver to make a big impact down the stretch. As you might have imagined ahead of time, his talent alone will cause some nice games, but consistency is lacking. Look for the Jaguars to spread the ball around a bit.

David Yudkin: As with some of the other WRs we've discussed the past few weeks, I doubt Jones will merit being a regular fantasy starter the rest of the way. But for fantasy owners with guys that have been banged up or with flex spots, players like Jones are about the best thing available on the waiver wire that could potentially score some points. As others have mentioned, the Jags are hitting a potential good stretch of their schedule, but they also have been sharing star-of-the-game honors from week to week. I doubt that will change from here on out, but Jones may have another big yardage game or a few more TD to make him worthy of starting in start 3 or 4 WR leagues.

Chris Smith: The emergence of Wilford and Jones is great news for Byron Leftwich but I don't see Jones being able to put up these numbers on a consistent basis this year. He is at best the third option in the passing attack.

Joey Harrington, Roy Williams

Maurile Tremblay: The Joey Harrington-Roy Williams connection that looked so promising before the season started finally came alive last week as Harrington threw for 231 yards and three touchdowns, all to Roy Williams. Is this going to be a combination we'll be seeing for years to come, or is Harrington's future in Detroit still precarious?

Will Grant: Forget Philly, I'd love to see Favre under center in Detroit! The only starting QB in the NFL with a lower passer rating than Harrington is Kyle Orton. (I'll let you count the 49ers when they finally pick a starting QB.) Harrington has consistently underperformed at QB, and I'd be very surprised to see him in Detroit next season. Roy is clearly a talented WR, but he can't seem to stay healthy, and will frustrate you given the high draft pick he's going to command. Their division is wide open, and even though Chicago has a 2 game lead on everyone, their next 5 games are going to be really tough. Anything can happen...

Bob Henry: No idea there, Maurile. I'll say this much though. If Jeff Garcia played and put up those numbers, then Mooch wouldn't be able to contain himself at the post-game press conference. He'd be pie-eyed and giddy. Joey has a great game and Mooch couldn't even make the leap to giving Joey the nod for next week, despite the fact that the vision we have of Garcia is throwing one of the ugliest interceptions in recent memory that lost the game against the Bears. The Lions are a three ring circus. They build an offensive line but have no skilled players, then they draft all skilled players and have no line. I'd be shocked if the Lions don't make a play for a veteran QB via free agency. Someone like Kitna or Brees. Garcia's goose is cooked. Joey will never be successful in Detroit. He may figure it out elsewhere and do all right, but with the Lions offensive line and Mooch as the coach, Joey doesn't stand a chance here.

Marc Levin: I will not put any eggs in Harrington's basket based on one good game. We may not even see this combination the rest of this SEASON if Garcia gets healthy and Harrington reverts to form. As for Roy Williams, whoever is slinging the ball in Detroit will likely be finding Roy Williams for a lot of touchdowns over the course of the next few years.

Dave Baker: I no longer see Harrington as a viable long term candidate as the Lions starting QB. So while I like the future for Roy Williams, it's very likely with a different QB.

Jason Wood: Personally I think the entirety of the Detroit regime will be shown the door this offseason, with Harrington and Mooch key components of that purge. One game by Harrington does not erase the many MANY examples we've had of his ineptitude.

David Yudkin: I have no faith in starting anyone from the Lions this year. It's too risky. Williams' explosion was great for those that stuck by him--except they would have been disappointed in every other start. However, Williams’ big week was potentially wasted as many fantasy owners had him on the bench last week. The Lions will not be fortunate enough to face Arizona every week, and certainly Detroit's offense has been chugging along on square wheels this year. So bottom line, I don't see this as anything other than an anomaly. I doubt Williams will fare anywhere near as well against the Cowboys this week.

Chris Smith: We have all seen Joey Harrington do this before. He teases us with a solid week of football only to collapse completely over the next few weeks. But he has put together two pretty solid weeks in a row and I don’t think Jeff Garcia did any better in the games he started. Garcia is at best a stop-gap measure. If Mooch is desperate to keep his job he will likely turn to Garcia but the better play for the organization in the future is to run with Harrington to see once and for all if he can get it done with his best receivers healthy and in the game. I have next to zero confidence in the Lions’ offense for the rest of the season regardless of who is at the helm at quarterback. Way too inconsistent for my liking.

Maurile Tremblay: Thanks guys. Enjoy this weekend’s games and we’ll see you back here next week.

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