Week 3 Upgrades/Downgradesby David Dodds and Clayton Gray, Exclusive to
Letwich took a pounding against the Colts and although he finished the game, the injury looked season ending when it happened. He was noticeably limping on every play after the injury. Watch the results of this MRI carefully. If Leftwich can not go, David Garrard becomes a quality waiver wire play.
It's odd to see Hasselbeck with an upgrade as it seems like the Seattle offense is struggling a bit. However, even with the troubles, Hasselbeck has turned in a pair of two-TD games this season. If the Seahawks do crank things up, he could explode. After two weeks, he has 527 passing yards and 4 TDs.
No, he won't face the hapless 49ers again, but with Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper "underperforming", McNabb just might end the season as the top fantasy QB. After two weeks, he has amasses 599 yards and 6 TDs through the air. Wasn't he suppose to be injured this past week?
Orton is probably not going to be a fantasy beast this season, but he is looking very much like a serviceable NFL quarterback. The team is solidly behind him and has many leadership qualities. In college Orton had Heisman consideration early before going down with injury so it should not be much of a surprise that he can play this game. In a small league, he likely has little value. However, in a big league any QB has value. We only see Orton getting better with playing experience.
The entire Bengals offense is hitting on all cylinders, and Palmer has started the season on fire. His 617 yards and five TDs have been enough to carry a fantasy team. He is among the league leaders in passer rating as well with a 107.8 mark.
What happened to the guy that struggled mightily all preseason? The regular season version of Roethlisberger has been excellent. On only 32 pass attempts, he has 472 yards (not bad) and four TDs (excellent) with zero INTs. The most interesting stat for him is that over half of his completions (12 out of 23) have been for 20+ yards. Wow! He leads the NFL with a passer rating of 153.6.
Curtis Martin has a knee strain and is uncertain for Week 3. If Martin can't go, Blaylock would be the team's primary RB.
In July, Davis was an after-thought. This week he scored 3 TDs cementing his role as the starting tailback on the Panthers. After two weeks, he has 158 yards rushing and 4 TDs. DeShaun Foster will get a handful of carries, but the Panthers look like they are convinced that Davis is the better back and 100% healthy. As long as he's on the field, he's a must-start fantasy back.
We still aren't sure of what's going on the Denver backfield (does Shanahan even know?), and we definitely are not sure that Dayne gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling. The fact remains, however, that Dayne was on field (and performing well) for Denver's final drive with the game tied. That alone tells us that HC Mike Shanahan has (gulp) confidence in Ron Dayne.
His stats weren't all that impressive (18 carries for 62 yards) in relief. But the interesting thing here was the team's confidence to keep giving him the rock after Chris Brown left with a concussion. We still think Chris Brown is the better back, but Henry should get work every week too.
Cedric Benson is still around and still getting carries, but Jones is not giving Chicago any reason to go to the rookie. Jones was easily the best back on the field Sunday and should continue as the team's starting RB for the foreseeable future.
Jordan is carrying the ball well, but he is here because of his involvement in the Raiders passing game. If your league awards a point per reception, he might be one of the top half-dozen RBs in the league.
Michael Bennett is supposedly in the doghouse again, so that leaves Moore as the team's starting RB. With the way Minnesota is playing offense right now, that's not particularly exciting, but a starting RB is still a starting RB.
He's not getting the upgrade because of the 111 yards and a TD (although that sure is nice). He's here because HC Bill Cowher made the obvious official on Sunday - Parker will be the team's starting RB even after Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis are healthy.
This is only a slight uptick as we believe he will do nothing more than share time with a healthy J.J. Arrington. However, sharing time is more action than some RBs get, so Shipp does have some value.
The rookie is being fed the ball 20+ times, and he is putting up 100+ yards and scoring every week. What's not to like? There is still a bit of doubt about him holding up all season (already suffered a slight foot sprain), but a healthy Williams is an every-week fantasy starter. After two weeks, he leads all running backs with 51 rush attempts.
Edwards turned in a huge 80-yard TD against the Packers. That is the type of play that could jumpstart his season. He is obviously the most talented WR on the team, and it's only a matter of time before that is reflected in the stats.
He's far from flashy or exciting, but Engram simply catches a lot of passes. Through 2 games he has seen 17 targets.
The Bengals offense is flying sky high right now, and Houshmandzadeh is a big part of it - see the two TDs (one rushing) against the Vikings. As long as Cincinnati is cruising, Houshmandzadeh is an excellent option. He has 15 targets in two weeks which is excellent considering his WR #2 status.
There's a conventional wisdom that says players will generally do what players will generally do, and Mason is a case study. Mason generally catches a lot of balls and a decent amount of TDs. Even on the anemic Baltimore offense, Mason is on pace for 96 catches and eight scores. Generally, that's pretty good.
We initially thought the move to the rookie QB might kill Muhammad's production this year, but now think Orton will be fine. Muhsin will get his.
He didn't find the endzone (hard to do when your team has only one scoring drive), but Taylor looked like the best Viking on the field Sunday. If Burleson misses some time, Taylor would be the team's top receiving threat. Even if Burleson does not miss time, Taylor rarely draws any double teams (which is exactly what Culpepper needs right now).
Officially, we weren't worried about Gates, but it was nice to see him back on the field in his expected role of "leading Chargers receiver".
Seeing a journeyman like Heiden perform so well makes us wonder what Kellen Winslow, Jr. could do in this offense if he could stay healthy.
He leads all TEs with 14 receptions through two games. Outside of Chris Chambers, he is the only other Dolphin seeing any targets. His 18 targets through 2 weeks leads all TEs.
It is evident that Smith is indeed ready to take the next step into the upper echelon of fantasy TEs. He was huge against the 49ers.
The Cardinals offense is pretty good between the 20s and bad in the redzone. That makes Rackers a great fantasy PK.
This unit made Joey Harrington look like, well, Joey Harrington. Even better than the five INTs and two sacks were the two return TDs (one off an INT and one off a punt return). This is an excellent fantasy defense right now.
The Bengals absolutely flattened Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings while forcing seven turnovers and two sacks. Even better news for the Bengals is an upcoming schedule of Chicago and Houston. Plus, they still have two upcoming dates with the Ravens offense.
The Buccaneers defense has started the season very well. They manhandled the Bills on Sunday and allowed a mere 147 yards of total offense.
This is not an outstanding unit, but they are a bit better than we expected. There are a few games on their schedule (49ers twice, Redskins at home, and Houston on the road) where it would be a good move to start the Cardinals defense.
After two games, the Chiefs defense has throttled a decent offense (Jets) and slowed down a very good offense (Raiders). The last time that could be said we could watch Derrick Thomas in a Chiefs uniform. Is it coincidence that another Derrick (Johnson) is in town?
No, Jacksonville doesn't have a stellar offense, but the Colts held them to a FG and pummeled Leftwich all game long (getting six sacks on the day). This defense is very much for real.
We were wrong about this being a horrible unit. The pass defense is OK, but the run defense is very good. A downside, however, is their very tough schedule.
If San Diego keeps losing (very possible with the Giants, Patriots, Steelers, Raiders, Eagles, Chiefs, and Jets coming up next), it would not be a surprise to see San Diego work Philip Rivers into the action.
The Texans have been so bad on offense that they have already fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and installed offensive line coach Joe Pendry. In an understatement, we aren't sure that move is enough.
Last week we thought Culpepper had hit rock bottom with five turnovers against the Buccaneers. This week, he showed no improvement with five INTs against the Bengals. Culpepper did get a rushing TD, but he and the rest of the Minnesota offense is in disarray. Culpepper won't be this bad all season, but it sure is hard to have confidence in him right now.
The Chiefs are a running team with a pretty solid defense. Green has 437 yards and zero TDs thus far. With both Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes looking good and the defense keeping the games close, this team is not playing from behind like in year's past.
The Bears have a good defense, but five INTs are just nasty. Harrington is fortunate that Jeff Garcia is on the shelf. He has several more weeks to right the ship, but it's hard to be excited with Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Carolina on tap (after a week three bye).
Leftwich got beaten up by the Colts defense. It will take a lot to keep him out of a game, but a battered quarterback is not high on our list of quality starters.
He simply is not clicking right now. After only one TD on the season, he must improve before we'll be confident in starting him.
Anderson is (apparently) still the starting RB in Denver, but it was disconcerting to see him on the sidelines for the team's game-winning drive. HC Mike Shanahan said that it was planned to rest Anderson and keep his carries low, but we've never heard of a coach planning to rest his starting RB with the game on the line.
No, Marcel Shipp didn't set the world on fire, but it's worrisome to see a struggling rookie miss a game due to illness only to have his backup perform well. Still, Arrington appears to be a favorite of HC Denny Green, so the rookie will get his looks when healthy.
Bell is nicked up (again) and sits behind Mike Anderson and Ron Dayne. If the doghouse get's any bigger, he might consider moving his bigscreen TV in there. He still has game-breaking speed, but has an uphill battle to get enough carries to show what he is capable of.
Brown has to be one of the most frustrating players in the game. He is talented and the unquestioned starting RB on his team, but he simply succumbs to injury after injury (the latest is a mild concussion). Brown will likely continue as the starting RB, but it would be considered a minor miracle if he plays 60 minutes on any Sunday.
Brown is in the middle of a four-week window to show the Dolphins that Ricky Williams was not needed. He has responded with 101 total yards in two games. He'll need to crank it up against New Orleans and Atlanta to keep Williams on the bench.
Dillon's a guy that you can't bench because he could score a pair of TDs against anyone. However, he looked quite ordinary against a Panthers defense that was without Kris Jenkins. Further, the Patriots schedule looks tough with the Steelers, Chargers, and Falcons coming up. Through 2 games, Dillon has just 99 yards on 37 carries. All of a sudden, Corey looks very old.
The entire Packers team is struggling badly - even worse for Green is that Najeh Davenport is stealing several carries. RBs that share carries for bad teams rarely live up to expectations.
We definitely are not yet ready to bail on Jones, but things are not looking good in Detroit. Harrington is playing horribly right now, and the schedule (Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Carolina) is not tasty. He has the talent and supporting cast to be a star in this league, but wants lead back Schlesinger back in a big way.
Lewis simply looks horrible right now. He is not in game shape and looks slow to us. He is clearly not even close to the back who gained 2,000 yards. Through 2 games this season, he is the 43rd ranked RB. With virtually no offense to speak of, teams are stacking the box against Lewis. His 57 yards on 26 carries says it all.
He has struggled a bit to open the season, and now we find out that he suffered a strained knee in the first quarter against the Dolphins (note that he kept playing and finished with 31 carries). That has us a bit worried - maybe THIS is the year the Martin doomsayers will be correct?
In the preseason, it looked like Moats could make an impact this season. However, all of the talk out of Philadelphia is that he has been slow to pick up the offense, and he hasn't even been active for a game. It looks like Moats will need Brian Westbrook to miss time to see action. Even then, it's likely that Lamar Gordon would be the more active player.
Bryant looked good in camp, but he is simply not able to be an NFL #1 WR. Braylon Edwards is and will be just that for the Browns before the season progresses much further.
Burleson has struggled in the role of go-to WR. Now, he has a sprained knee. Lots of question marks here. Like Daunte Culpepper, it's hard to get excited about Burleson right now.
Johnson was supposed to join the elite fantasy WRs this season. After two games, he has totaled seven catches for 38 yards and zero TDs.
This is the second straight week that Kevin Johnson has caught more balls than Rogers (eight to four on the season). Roy Williams, Mike Williams, and Marcus Pollard have caught TD passes. In a crowded group of receivers, Rogers seems to be the odd man out.
Jimmy Smith is not ready to give up his role as primary WR, and Fred Taylor is running strong. The Jacksonville offense simply isn't strong enough to support a third viable fantasy option.
The Colts passing game was bound to struggle at times this season as defenses schemed more against the pass, but we are particularly disappointed in the number of looks Clark is getting (only three targets after sitting week one).
It is always to your advantage to own a kicker on a high powered offense. In Edinger's case, you might want to wait until the "high powered" part comes back to the Vikings offense.
Our best advice regarding Hanson is to not start him on the road - the Lions simply stink it up away from home. Of course their next three homes games are against Baltimore, Carolina, and Chicago, so they could stink it up at home too. Hmmm, after more though, our best advice is that Hanson is not an appealing option anywhere right now (especially since he's ailing).
The Ravens offense is terrible right now, and Stover is getting few opportunities.
They weren't horrible against the Titans, but the 2005 version of the Ravens defense is not inspiring.