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Fantasy Roundtable - Week 8

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:

Nate Burleson
Jeff Garcia
Tony Fisher
Various WRs
Clinton Portis
Gonzalez and Kennison
Az-Zahir Hakim
Disappointments from the Preseason Top 50

Nate Burleson

Maurile Tremblay: Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings' offense came to life in the second half against the Packers last week. Nate Burleson had three catches for 37 yards in his first game back from injury. How big a role will he have in the Vikings' offense going forward?

Dave Baker: There are a lot of question marks in Minnesota, even after their late game heroics for the win Sunday. But I don't see Burleson as a question mark. I think he'll be a main component in their offense from here forward. You can certainly debate how good their offense will be, and if it's terrible then Burleson will have little impact, but I like his chances. On Sunday, Burleson had only three catches, but all three were in the second half, all three went for first downs, all three were on scoring drives and two of the three came on key third down plays. His last catch was on 3rd and 8 at the Green Bay 23 yard line and the Vikings scored a touchdown two plays later. Those were key moments in the game and Burleson came through.

Jason Wood: Just as NFL players shouldn't lose their jobs due to injury, a fantasy player isn't going to lose my support due to injury. I touted Burleson as a top 12 fantasy receiver this preseason and I have no reason to doubt he can perform at that level if he's healthy. Assuming he's really back to 100%, I fully expect him to be a consistent fantasy option, and someone that should be in your lineup every week.

Chris Smith: His second half of the season cannot possibly be worse than his first half. Most fantasy owners are down on him right now, and rightfully, so but there is a reason he put together great numbers last year. He is a very talented receiver. I expect him to emerge as the number one threat once again for the Vikings as he shakes off both the rust and the pain. He could be a great guy to target right now.

Cecil Lammey: I expect Burleson to put up solid numbers the second half of the season. Perhaps the comeback win versus the Packers will spark the Vikings’ offense. Perhaps they will rent boats chock full of strippers again. Perhaps Mike Tice has finally learned that he can't be a nice "players’ coach" all the time. These guys are professionals and Burleson has a tremendous work ethic, even if the rest of his team doesn't. He should bounce back nicely in the final 10 weeks.

David Yudkin: I was an avid Burleson backer heading into the season, but I think his time away will hurt him. Others have gotten into the system and will likely get more looks than they would have had Burleson stayed in the lineup every week. And the team's offensive woes may not help. The good news for Minnesota is that their schedule is pretty favorable for the next 7 weeks. Burleson may not be Top 10 going forward, but I think Top 20 is within reach.


Jeff Garcia

Maurile Tremblay: Jeff Garcia was efficient enough to get the Lions their third win of the season this past week. Does he give the rest of the Lions' offensive players a boost, and what are his own fantasy prospects for the rest of the season?

Chris Smith: Before we get too excited about the insertion of Jeff Garcia into the starting lineup, let's remember that he struggled last season to find his game and only tossed ten touchdown passes in his eleven games with the Browns. Sure, Garcia looked better than Harrington in his first action as a Lion, but he also failed to throw a touchdown pass during the game and averaged less than 10 yards per completion. I for one am not prepared to anoint him the best thing since sliced bread. As far as bumping players up due to his presence, I would give mini-bumps up to Mike Williams, Roy Williams and perhaps even Kevin Jones, but until this team proves it can find the end zone on a consistent basis, I will be leery of starting Detroit Lion players on my squads.

Jason Wood: Jeff Garcia is no longer the player that went to three Pro Bowls in San Francisco. That said, the Lions simply needed a new voice in the huddle. I wouldn’t count on Garcia being able to consistently will this team to victory, but I do think he'll spark the team and create some excitement where Joey Harrington clearly wasn't.

David Yudkin: Detroit really had no choice but to go with Garcia. He should do better than Harrington, but I don't see the offense going through the roof. They’ll be better, but not way better. At this point, I am not sure Garcia is in the top half of NFL QBs, talent-wise. His knowledge of the Mariucci system may get him bonus points, but I would not be surprised if the Lions still struggled some.

Dave Baker: I think the insertion of Garcia into the lineup definitely provides a boost to the offense as a whole. When Garcia is healthy, he remains a very solid NFL quarterback and, like with the resurgence of Mark Brunell, it would not surprise me to see Garcia remain very effective from here on out. This should bode well for WRs like Mike and Roy Williams, as well as Kevin Jones, as the threat of a passing offense will keep defenses from flooding the line. As for Garcia's value, I think it's borderline. I don't think I'd count on him as a weekly starter, but he should be a solid backup in a pinch.

Cecil Lammey: As a Kevin Jones' owner, I am thrilled to see Garcia finally get back into the starting lineup. Kelly Holcomb’s success in Buffalo has sparked the Bills’ offense, and I think Garcia could do the same for the Lions. It was evident last week that the Browns had to respect the pass instead of just stacking the line against the run. I think we’ll see the running lines open up a bit for Kevin Jones in the second half of the season. The one concern I have with Garcia is that, given his age, I’m not sure he can take a lot of punishment and stay healthy over the rest of the season.


Tony Fisher

Maurile Tremblay: Ahman Green is done for the year, but he wasn't having a productive season even before his injury. Will Tony Fisher be able to succeed where Ahman Green wasn't, or will the poor run-blocking in Green Bay render him ineffective. Is ReShard Lee likely to get many carries?

Dave Baker: I'd be a little hard pressed to think Tony Fisher succeeds where Ahman Green failed. Even with all those NFL miles on his legs, Green is still more talented than Fisher. I also think that ReShard Lee will cut into his time. Regardless, RBs are gold in the fantasy world and picking up a guy like Fisher can do wonders. Stranger things have happened.

David Yudkin: Fisher has done fairly well in his 3 games as the primary ball carrier. He's averaged 95 total yards per game and scored in two of those games. At this point in the season, there won't be too many players that could be on the waiver wire that should be considered a regular NFL starter for the rest of the season. Granted, the Packers are a bit of a mess right now, but Fisher should be good for 15+ touches per game and has proven to be a viable receiver. I would have no hesitation in picking him up and actually starting him as a RB2 or flex starter if I didn't have two stud RBs. Bye week filler for sure at the minimum. My only concern is that the Packers might opt for a RBBC if they feel Fisher is not an every down back or can't handle a full workload week in and week out.

Jason Wood: At first blush, I have doubts. Tony Fisher wasn't Ahman Green's backup, Najeh Davenport was. But with both Green and Davenport gone, it's Fisher's job to lose. Given his status as the #3 and the state of the offensive line, I just don't think you can expect big things. I'm sure someone will point to Nick Goings' success last year in Carolina as a reason to be hopeful about Fisher. But remember, the Panthers had a swarming defense that allowed them to stay committed to the run on offense; the Packers’ defense has been too porous to think they can give Fisher 20+ touches per game, which he'll need to make a fantasy impact.

Chris Smith: Fisher will get touches (both carries and receptions) and he could surprise as the year wears on if the offensive line can learn to play as a unit and improve their poor run blocking so far. He is definitely a player worth taking a flyer on right now to see what happens. He may develop into a 20-touch per game player and he will have at least marginal fantasy worth if he does.

David Yudkin: Ahman Green was averaging just 3.3 yards per carry and had not managed even a single TD on the season. Granted, the OL had something to do with that, but from the limited exposure I had to Green this year he did not look at all like the guy who had 2,200 total yards and 20 TDs a couple years ago. He really wasn’t playing very well, so it’s not out of the question that Fisher can do better. On the bright side, the Packers don't have a killer schedule, so they should be able to rank better than 30th in rushing from here on out.

Cecil Lammey: I like Fisher's chance for productivity because he is a decent receiver out of the backfield. The run blocking in Green bay is horrible, but the way Favre is passing they may not run very much anyway. Fisher could be a good pickup in point-per-reception leagues. ReShard Lee doesn't have what it takes to succeed in the NFL, but watch out for the new Nigerian Nightmare -- Samkon Gado!!


Various WRs

Maurile Tremblay: Which WR would you most like to have on your roster for the rest of this season? Mike Williams, Antonio Chatman, Eric Moulds, Ashley Lelie, or Amani Toomer?

Jason Wood: Wow...talk about the scrap heap. You have to like Eric Moulds now that Kelly Holcomb has taken over in Buffalo. And Eli Manning has raised his game to a point where even his 3rd receiving option (Toomer) will have a decent game here and there.

Dave Baker: With Plummer looking like he's coming around a little bit, the obvious choice in that group should be Lelie. But I think I'm going to swing over to the Mike Williams fan club. With a new QB in Garcia, Williams made the best of it with five catches for 95 yards. All five catches went for first downs, although he fumbled away the last one. A player like Williams only needs the opportunity, so amongst this group, I'm going to go with Williams.

Chris Smith: Mike Williams is a talented youngster but I would be leery of expecting consistent game-to-game production from him at this point. I think the most consistent of the bunch which is what you want in head-to-head fantasy leagues will be Moulds. He will get his 5+ receptions per game and hopefully his yards per catch will increase. He would be my first choice. Lelie has been better over the last couple of games and he would probably be my second choice if you put a gun to my head. He is a scary guy to start on a weekly basis though.

Cecil Lammey: Mike Williams has all the world’s talent and now finally has a decent QB throwing him the ball. Injuries have forced Williams to step into the spotlight and I think he has all the tools to do a wonderful job in a full time role. Roy Williams will come back and that will hurt Mike's numbers, but he will still be more productive than the other receivers if healthy. I like the re-emergence of Eric Moulds now that Kelly Holcomb is playing QB. But if the Bills start losing again, will they pull Holcomb in order to get JP Losman some valuable playing time? Antonio Chatman is in a good situation with a pass happy GB team. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain his play on a consistent basis. Ashley Lelie is too up and down to be relied upon as more than a spot starter. Amani Toomer is not the primary or even secondary receiver on his team. He will pop up in the stats every now and again, but for the most part will be a non-factor in fantasy football.

David Yudkin: I vote Chatman. Green Bay is quickly running out of options, and the worse things get the more they pass. Second choice for me would be Moulds, as he seems to be getting some red zone looks. His yardage still isn't great, so starting him fantasy-wise you really need to hope he gets into the end zone or else you'll be hurting.


Clinton Portis

Maurile Tremblay: Before last week's games, Clinton Portis was the #5 RB in terms of yards from scrimmage per game, but had yet to get into the end zone. Last week he got his usual amount of yards, but also hit paydirt three times. Now that the floodgates are open, is Portis going to start scoring enough TDs to be a top 5 RB over the second half of the season, or was last week just a function of playing against the 49ers?

Cecil Lammey: It was a little bit of both. Sure Portis and the Redskins had their way with the 49ers, as most teams do. But I think that Portis will continue putting up some TDs and could end the year with ten of them. Mark Brunell and super-smurf Santana Moss are making defenses play back and respect the pass. Portis will take advantage when he can.

Dave Baker: With Mark Brunell at the helm, the offense is starting to jell. The team looks like a legitimate contender. And Portis has played well all along. You put those things together and I see no reason why Portis can not move forward as a top RB.

Jason Wood: The 49ers have a way of making any opposing offense look great, but we can't ignore the Redskins’ positive trends on offense. Do I think Brunell can maintain this level of play? Probably not but there's no denying he's already playing at a level few (myself included) thought possible. The offensive line appears to be gaining confidence too, and Portis has always had rare talent. Portis still has zero TDs in five games versus one game with solid TD productivity, don't forget that, but chances are you've started him the entire season and should be seeing the fruits of your labors the rest of the way. I would be surprised if Portis doesn't end the year with 10+ TDs.

Chris Smith: The answer lies somewhere in between his touchdown drought to begin the season and the gluttony of riches that comes from playing the 49ers. Touchdowns are too often tough to predict so I look at how a player is performing and at his opportunities going forward. The Redskins’ offense is beginning to click, and as a result of improved passing efficiency, I expect more and more room for Portis to run going forward, allowing him to finally use his lightning-fast quickness to break open some big runs. Now is a great time to try to get him on your squad. Some owners will be looking to trade him off after the big game. I say try to pry him away from those owners now and reap the benefits.

David Yudkin: At this point I don’t think that Portis has completely turned the corner in terms of his TD drought. SF can make anyone look good. I don't think Portis will go 6 weeks with out scoring again, but I don't think he will average a TD per game like he did in Denver. Washington is playing great offensively right now, and I think at some point they are bound to cool off. Portis and Mewelde Moore have been posting similar numbers up till now, and I think that trend may continue as Minnesota's offense should be picking it up from here on out. If I was forced to guess, I'd give Portis 5 more scores this season.


Gonzalez and Kennison

Maurile Tremblay: Eddie Kennison got off to a good start this year early in the season while Gonzo was largely invisible. In the past two games, however, Gonzalez has resumed his role as the Chiefs' primary receiver, while Kennison has all but disappeared. Is Kennison's value going to be severely decreased now that Gonzalez is back on his game, or have the past couple weeks just been a temporary downswing in his production?

Jason Wood: Nothing in Kennison's history suggests he should be producing at a high level week in, week out. Obviously the Kansas City passing game has been severely stunted through the first seven weeks, so this question is as much about whether we think Trent Green and the entire offense are going to start producing at a high level as much as it is about Kennison directly. Ultimately I think Trent Green is too talented to keep playing this way, and I therefore see Kennison as being a decent, albeit far from studly, fantasy option the remainder of the year.

Dave Baker: I think Kennison is the type of receiver to throw in a clunker now and then. And I'm not sure what has changed with Gonzalez. I tend to think nothing. I think we're just seeing the normal ebb and flow of the KC offense. That being said, I think Gonzalez will be more productive from here forward than he was in the first handful of games. So, I don't think Gonzalez' effectiveness will mean a decrease in Kennison's value as a whole, since both were effective last year.

David Yudkin: Kennison has had some ho-hum games in KC in the past. Last game was his 17th with two or fewer receptions since he came to the Chiefs. I don't think two weeks is cause to panic just yet. The Chiefs' offense this year has been a bit all over the map, and they could easily start airing it out or grinding it out at this point. In short, they have been sporadic and it's hard to know what to expect.

Chris Smith: Kennison will have a few strong games throughout the remainder of the season, but he will have his stinkers as well and that is why he has often frustrated fantasy owners throughout his career. I believe Tony Gonzalez is too talented to be held in check, and he'll have a monster second half of the season. Don't be surprised to see him put up 6-8 touchdowns over the second half of the season.

Cecil Lammey: Welcome to life in the Chiefs’ offense! This could be a bad reality show (is that redundant?). This week! Tony whines and gets the ball more, while Eddie drops more easy ones. But is Eddie doing that to assuage Tony's whining? Oooh, the drama. In all seriousness, the Chiefs’ offense is too inconsistent when it comes to throwing the football. They are in a tough division race and Tony Gonzales should see better production in the second half of the season. With Eddie Kennison you will get a great game or two, and several bad ones. Hopefully, for Kennison owners, he’ll have those great games at the end of the year in the fantasy playoffs.


Az-Zahir Hakim

Maurile Tremblay: The whole Saints' offense has been very frustrating for fantasy owners this year, but Az-Zahir Hakim has now put together three nice games in a row (293 yards and a TD in the past three weeks). Is he just a flash in the pan while Joe Horn is out, or can he maintain decent production over the second half of the season?

Dave Baker: At some point it becomes difficult to ignore the facts. Hakim has averaged almost 100 yards a game receiving in the last three games and has been targeted about 30 times. That's impressive. Still, with Stallworth having a decent season and Henderson likely to be on the field at least some of the time, I remain skeptical about Hakim putting up big numbers after Horn returns.

Jason Wood: Aaron Brooks is the king of "garbage time." The Saints’ defense is porous, they lost their best running back, and the team seems to have a penchant for being in an early deficit. So ultimately I think Brooks' most targeted receivers are fantasy goldmines. If Joe Horn comes back soon, I think the luster fades on Hakim fairly significantly. But until then, you have to think he's a better than average option in leagues that start 3 WRs each week.

Cecil Lammey: The Saint's offense is too inconsistent to be relied upon for anything. Az has put up some decent numbers and has been targeted plenty, but when Joe Horn comes back it's a Horn world.

David Yudkin: In my opinion, Hakim will do well as long as Horn is out. After that, all bets are off. Once Horn returns, I can't help but think that he will get a ton of looks with Deuce out. By the way, Horn averaged 98 yards and a full TD per game in the 4 games when McAllister was out (or barely played) last year. I suspect that that will play out again once Horn returns. Now to change gears, I’ve got a question for the group, if you don’t mind.

Maurile Tremblay: Go for it. I’ll let you throw out the last question of the day.


Biggest Disappointments from the Preseason Top 50

David Yudkin: Out of the top 50 or so fantasy players selected in this year’s drafts, a full 20 of them have been severe disappointments for one reason or another (performance, injuries, etc.). Can any of them make a fantasy impact in the latter part of the season? Who would you try to acquire and why?

QB: Peyton Manning, Daunte Culpepper

RB: Jamal Lewis, JJ Arrington, Michael Bennett, Tatum Bell, Chris Brown, Fred Taylor, DeShaun Foster

WR: Nate Burleson, Ashley Lelie, Joe Horn, Andre Johnson, Darrell Jackson,
Roy Williams, Michael Clayton, Isaac Bruce, Drew Bennett, Muhsin Muhammad

TE: Tony Gonzalez

Jason Wood: The simple answer is: of course they can. While some of these players are doomed to disappoint the entire year, some will pull themselves up by the bootstraps. As an Eagles fan, I can remember two seasons ago when McNabb struggled early. In fact, through Week 8 of the 2003 season, McNabb was the 29th ranked fantasy QB and people were calling for his outright benching. Well, in weeks 9 through 17, McNabb not only rebounded, he was the second best fantasy QB in the league. Getting to specifics, Manning is already playing well again (and is the top rated 4th quarter QB in the league) and Culpepper should benefit from an easy schedule and the return of Nate Burleson. The RBs are a tenuous bunch, I would only have faith in Fred Taylor, assuming he comes back from injury soon. At WR, I think it's a battle of attrition. Tell me who'll be healthy and I'll show you the guys that will have resurgent second halves.

Chris Smith: I think Woodrow pretty much nailed this one. Without question, some of these players will find a way to elevate their play and regain a place in starting lineups. Right now, if injuries don't play a role, I believe both quarterbacks are a lock to rebound (and are already in the process of it). At running back, D. Foster, C. Brown and T. Bell are in position to have strong second halves. All the WRs have a shot if the situation improves (injuries for some, quarterback ineffectiveness for others). And Tony Gonzalez will finish strong. He is too talented not to.

Dave Baker: I think there's a lot to like about some of those guys you mentioned. At QB, the Colts’ offense is just too good to think that Manning will not put up good numbers from here out. And I still think Culpepper will have a good year. But I don't think you can get either one cheaply. And despite their poor production, Lewis, Bell and Taylor will be tough to acquire in trade. Before Sunday's game, I would have thought Gonzalez could be stolen, but I doubt that now. The players I like are the ones that can be had very cheaply, and then you're talking Andre Johnson and Michael Clayton. It's hard to like Johnson this year, I know. Between his injury and the Texans’ pathetic play on offense, many will give up on him. And Carr, in six games, has never thrown for more than 200 yards -- and he's thrown for less than 100 twice. Ugh. But for the price, I think Johnson could be had and there's a solid chance he will turn things around in the second half. He's just too talented for me to think won’t end up with respectable numbers this year. As for Clayton, it's puzzling to me that he only has four receptions in the last three games and he's being targeted less and less. But like Johnson, some have given up on Clayton and I think Clayton is a very smart player who does everything well. I also like the change at QB, as it could mean more looks his direction.

Cecil Lammey: I agree with the comments that Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper have already started to turn things around, and should be solid in the second half of the season. Culpepper’s second half schedule is much easier and the Vikings are still in the hunt for the division race. I’d stay far away from Jamal Lewis, JJ Arrington, and Michael Bennett. They are all looking like busts this year. Injury concerns would also keep me away from Chris Brown, DeShaun Foster, and Fred Taylor. So the only RB in that group I really like is Tatum Bell. He’s got a shot to be the Broncos’ featured back during the fantasy playoffs. At WR, Nate Burleson is the guy who jumps out at me; now that he’s healthy, he’ll be in a position to rack up some decent stats. Isaac Bruce, Darrell Jackson, and Joe Horn could all do well once they come back from their respective injuries – although age may be catching up to Bruce and Horn. At TE, Tony Gonzalez won’t really break out unless and until the Chiefs’ offense as a whole returns to form.

David Yudkin: Manning will be fine, and I like Culpepper’s second-half schedule. The real busts this season are at RB. I agree with Cecil that Jamal Lewis, JJ Arrington, and Michael Bennett all look fairly worthless. Tatum Bell is making plays, but Mike Anderson is still getting the majority of the carries in Denver. Chris Brown, DeShaun Foster, Fred Taylor – none of those guys really excite me at this point. At WR, I think the best rebound candidates are Isaac Bruce, Nate Burleson, Joe Horn, and Darrell Jackson. Andre Johnson is totally hopeless at this point. The Texans’ offense just isn’t the right environment for him. Tony Gonzalez’s six-year string of Top 2 finishes at TE is in jeopardy. He should have a good second half of the season, but a lot of TEs are having good seasons this year, so he’s got a ways to climb before he threatens to finish near the top.

Maurile Tremblay: I agree with the general sentiment here: Manning and Culpepper will be fine, Jamal Lewis, JJ Arrington, and Michael Bennett will continue to be busts, etc. But two guys nobody has mentioned who I think could come on strong toward the end of the year are DeShaun Foster and Muhsin Muhammad. With Foster, his health is always a concern. But he is a more explosive runner than Stephen Davis in Carolina, and should see his workload increase down the stretch. And Muhammad’s productivity has been limited due to the Bears’ QB situation so far, but I think Kyle Orton will continue to improve over the second half of the season and start to feed the ball to Muhammad more effectively. And that’ll wrap us up for today. We’ll do it again next week. See you then.

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