Thursday night's game was a good one, depending on who you had from the Broncos or the Browns. Brady Quinn looked good and Jay Cutler had a career-high game. Eddie Royal racked up a ton of points. The Broncos backfield was depleted, but when you're that effective through the air, it apparently didn't matter very much. I enjoyed watching the game, but I was playing against Jay Cutler this week, so I had difficulty cheering him on.
Here's what the experts are watching for this weekend.
Steven Jackson is officially OUT. Darby will get the start.
LaDainian Tomlinson is ranked #1 this week as he faces a Chiefs defense that allowed him to score and run over 100 yards in the last 3 contests. The Chiefs this year are worse than the Chiefs that let him run free before. Expect a big game from LT.
Every ranking after LT has mixed results. Some see Adrian Peterson as a solid #2 while others see Mewelde Moore as the 2nd best RB this week. Overall the Nerd sees Peterson as #2 this week with Moore falling in at #25. I take issue with the #25 ranking with Moore taking on the Colts. My personal opinion is that you'll probably see him finish in the Top 10-15.
Brian Westbrook claims the #3 spot this week. Some experts see him as low as #13 this week, but considering that he's getting healthier and he had 140 total rushing/receiving yards against the Giants last time, he's sure to still put up numbers this week.
Frank Gore comes in at #4 against the Cards this week. If the 49'ers expect to win this game, they need to get Gore involved in both the rushing and the short passing game. He had a big game against them last time and the experts expect more of the same.
Tim Hightower comes in at #6 this week as he's taken over the primary-back duties in Arizona. San Francisco will have a tough time stopping him.
The Nerd sees Ronnie Brown at #7 this week and he should have a solid day against Seattle.
Turner the Burner should have no trouble reaching the century mark this week against New Orleans and he claims the #8 spot.
Jamal Lewis didn't meet quite the expectation that the experts thought he would although he still had a very decent day with a TD.
Thomas Jones follows at #10 and he's been on a roll lately. He's got a great matchup against St. Louis which has a very difficult time stopping the run. They rank 29th in the NFL against the run and that means good news for TJ owners.
Matt Forte comes in at #12 and you have to start him, but don't be surprised if he doesn't live up to the ranking the experts predict. The Titans are very good at stopping the run. That defensive line is simply massive and he could very well struggle.
Ray Rice grabbed 176 yards for Baltimore last week, and while he most likely won't repeat that performance this week, he's headed for fantasy points in the absence of Willis McGahee (and the 16th ranking this week).
Ryan Grant lays claim to the #22 spot this week and I'm inclined to disagree with the experts. Too high of a ranking against the 2nd best rush defense in the league. I hope I'm wrong.
Kevin Smith and Kevin Faulk grab the 23rd and 24th spots. Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan are sidelined so Faulk's value goes up a bit, but not enough to put him in the Top 20.
You may be surprised to see Steve Slaton at #27, but I agree with the experts on this one. Baltimore hasn't allowed a 100-yard game yet and nobody expects Slaton to achieve the century mark either.
The Top 5 are interchangeable, but the experts were a bit off on the Cutler projection. Warner, Brees, Pennington, and Rivers should all have great games and 300+ yards should be par for the course.
The bottom half of the Top 10 is hard to disagree with (one exception). Rodgers will play through the shoulder problem and should slice his way through the Vikings secondary. Garrard gets to play Detroit (do I need to say more?). Favre faces the league's 28th-ranked pass defense in the Rams. Seeing Peyton at #9 is difficult to accept. I think he's destined to finish further down the line as he faces one of the best defenses in the league.
Eli Manning falls to number 15 this week with McNabb ahead of him at #12. Does this mean that the experts think that the Eagles will fare better than the Giants? Tough call. I think the Giants D is much better and I wouldn't be surprised to see the final outcome be the reverse of the predictions, but that's just my opinion.
The Nerd rankings for QB's at 16-20 show Joe Flacco, Sage Rosenfels, Brady Quinn, Tyler Thigpen, and Matt Cassel. If they all follow Brady Quinn's Thursday night example, they'll do just fine. Sleeper Alert: I think the experts will be surprised with Tyler Thigpen's performance this weekend. He faces the San Diego secondary which has not been able to prevent opposing offenses from racking up yards through the air. Thigpen also has Dwayne Bowe who has been a consistent target.
Reports seem to indicate that Big Ben Roethlisberger will play this week with his injured right shoulder. The experts don't seem to find him in a healthy position as he lands at #21 this week. Bulger's at #22 without Steven Jackson to keep the defense honest so he'll need to go to the air. The Jets have 29 sacks this year and I guarantee we'll see Bulger on his back at least once.
I'm not going to spend much time on the Top 10 WR's this week. They're all solid plays. Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White, Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans, Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith, Andre Johnson, Greg Jennings, Calvin Johnson, and Laveranues Coles claim the Top 10 rankings. Noticeably absent is Eddie Royal who produced well above his projected #21 position would indicate. The experts are not always right and they were wrong on Royal.
Matt Jones from Jacksonville rises to #11 this week amid his league problems. He's been very consistent and he'll be missed sorely if he faces disciplinary actions. Braylon Edwards missed the mark at #12. Marques Colston is expected to have a decent game and claims the #13 spot. Derrick Mason and Reggie Wayne claim the 14 & 15th spots.
Dwayne Bowe is Mr. Consistent and I think he'll do better than his #16 position and could possibly be a Top 10 this week.
Vincent Jackson hits #17 this week. He's had a TD in each of the last 3 games even with Chris Chambers in the game. He's still a good option.
Bernard Berrian falls in line at #18 against an improved Packer secondary with a tough matchup against veteran Charles Woodson who actually practiced this week.
Greg Camarillo from Miami hits #19 this week and benefits from Chad Pennington's high ranking. I think he'll perform better than his ranking indicates. He had a career-high 11 receptions last week which is great for PPR-leagues and Pennington seems to like him a lot.
Interesting to see Randy Moss fall all the way down to #20. Cassel is a matchup quarterback and he doesn't have a very good matchup this week, so Moss's value drops. Who would have thought prior to the season that Moss would barely make the Top 20?
Isaac Bruce sees his ranking this week at #22. He has the potential to go up, however his YAC needs to improve. It will be interesting to see what effect Shaun Hill has on his value.
Hines Ward is not accustomed to being at #23, but Ben Roethlisberger's poor performance as of late brings Ward's value down. Santonio Holmes presence doesn't help either, but Ward is still Ward and worth playing for big-game potential.
Donnie Avery has emerged as a decent WR2/3. With Steven Jackson out, the experts think the Rams will be forced to throw a lot and Avery should see some of those targets. I'm starting him in one of my leagues, so my fingers will be crossed.
Things get interesting further down the line. Of note are Kevin Curtis at 26, Plaxico Burress at 27, Donald Driver at 28, Muhsin Muhammad at 33, Chris Chambers at 34, Wes Welker at 35, DeSean Jackson at 41, Marvin Harrison at 45, and Amani Toomer at 46. If the experts see McNabb as a solid play, surely Curtis and Jackson should be beneficiaries. Welker falls into the same problem as Moss. Harrison and Toomer have tough matchups. Most interesting is Plaxico Burress and Donald Driver. Plaxico has the talent to be in the Top 10 consistently, but his off-field antics hurt his value considerably. It must have been the new contract. He no longer has anything to play for. Driver is underrated in my opinion. He's a magnet for Rodgers when Jennings faces double coverage and his performance last week against the Titans shows his big-play and consistency abilities.
There's pretty solid consensus on the Top 5 this week. Kellen Winslow already over-performed this week to the delight of owners who started him. Antonio Gates easily claims the #1 spot across most of the Nerd's sources. Anthony Fasano has been ranked as high as #2 and as low as #9 this week, but the consensus has him at #4 this week.
Tony Scheffler was projected to be the 22nd most productive TE this week and the experts were proved wrong. I watched the game, and even though I'm not a doctor (I don't even play one on TV), it was painfully obvious that he was in pain. He turned in a great performance none the less.
Donald Lee of Green Bay hits lucky 13 this week and should perform at that level. Rodgers gives him consistent looks and the passing game will be on display in Minnesota this weekend.
Opposite of Lee will be Visanthe Shiancoe of the Vikings. If Berrian sees trouble with Woodson or Harris covering him, Shiancoe could benefit from shorter passes, particularly on third downs.
John Carlson shows up at #15 this week and I think that's a little optimistic. Don't get me wrong, he's talented, but he's a lower performing TE. Yes - that's my opinion. I have to start him this week as he's my backup for Jason Witten. I started him last week and we all know how my week went.
Spots 16 and 17 are occupied by Derek Miller of Oakland and the infamous Jeremy Shockey of New Orleans. To see Shockey behind someone like Miller is a disappointment to all those who drafted him high enough to choke a horse. Shockey is probable for this weekend and none of the experts expect anything other than a mediocre performance. Miller faces a completely different problem though. Unlike Shockey catching passes from Drew Brees, it's tough to put up decent numbers when you don't have a decent QB throwing.
Everyone seems to agree on Jacksonville's Defense this weekend, so I'll leave that alone. After all, it's Detroit that they'll be facing.
The Jets come in at #6 against a Rams offense without SJAX.
The strong Pittsburgh D falls all the way to #12 this week facing Peyton and company. I have a hard time believing that the Steelers aren't up to the challenge. I'd say differently if the 2008 Colts were like the 2007 Colts, but they're not.
Believe it or not, I don't take too much issue with the experts this week with their Defensive rankings. This season, we've seen much more variance on the accuracy of Defensive rankings than on any other position, but these all look pretty good on paper.
I'll wrap this up with my favorite football saying. Everything looks good on paper, but on any given Sunday...
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