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Friday, November 2, 2007
Alone on an Island: Bench Driver?

By ESPN Staff

Wondering what these guys were thinking when they broke from the pack in the
Week 9 rankings? We like to call that being "alone on an island." Here is what our castaways had to say.

Matthew Berry on Donald Driver
Ranked: 29 Composite Rank: 13.4

Trust me, I want to be higher on Donald Driver. I've been as big a Driver guy over the last few years as you get. But a few things concern me here: four straight games without a touchdown and four straight games under 60 receiving yards. His yards-per-catch average is lower than the averages of Greg Jennings, James Jones and Donald Lee. And then you look at his matchup this week. The game is at Arrowhead, the Chiefs give up fewer than 200 yards passing per game, and only three teams in the NFL have allowed fewer passing touchdowns this year than Kansas City. You know, the more I write this, I'm beginning to think I ranked him too high.

Eric Karabell on Bobby Engram
Ranked: 48 Composite Rank: 33.4

The fact that D.J. Hackett is back and starting is enough for me to drop Engram way down the rankings. It's probably too large a jump, I admit, but Engram wasn't really performing like a No. 1 wide receiver to start with, though he did have a big game against New Orleans. With Deion Branch nearly ready to play, though not this week, Engram is close to becoming Seattle's No. 3 receiver, at best

Scott Engel on Marques Colston
Ranked: 24 Composite Rank: 14.4

I do not believe I have Colston ranked very low to the point where he is not useful. He is certainly getting targeted more often recently, and his play is on the upswing again. He is useful as a regular starter in leagues larger than 12 teams. I wouldn't put him back in the top 15 again just yet, though. He is coming off a big game but needs to display more consistency. I also keep in mind that Drew Brees tends to distribute the ball around, and Colston isn't going to play well every week. Defenses still have a lot of respect for him, and after his big game last week, he is sure to draw extra defenders this week.

Christopher Harris on Chris Chambers
Ranked: 34 Composite Rank: 21.2

I called Chris Chambers over Vincent Jackson last week, Chambers' first with San Diego, so this isn't a case of me liking VJ instead of CC. This rating for Chambers is based on how the Vikings have played in the secondary lately. Not that they've suddenly been terrific or anything, but Brad Childress has basically decided he doesn't want to get beaten deep any longer. Minnesota's safeties are playing somewhere in East Winnipeg on most downs, and they've proved difficult to get behind (the Eagles resorted to a flea-flicker last week). As such, tight ends have been the way to go against the Vikings (over 13 fantasy points per game allowed to the position in the past month, and that includes L.J. Smith hobbling around last week), and San Diego just happens to have the best one around. I like Chambers as a flex this week, but I think Philip Rivers will do most of his damage using Antonio Gates.

Nate Ravitz on New England Patriots defense
Ranked: 27 Composite Rank: 13.0

One of the toughest things to do in fantasy football is to sit down one of your studs when he has a bad matchup. In this case, we're talking about a team defense, and that should make sitting it down a little easier to stomach. To this point, the Patriots have been the highest-scoring team defense in the game, and there's really no one else close. However, consider how team defenses score points: by forcing turnovers and sacking the quarterback. The Colts have given up only five sacks and turned the ball over only five times all season. I know all about Peyton Manning's track record against Bill Belichick-coached teams, but things have been better for him lately. Bottom line: If you check your waiver wire, I'll bet you'll find at least one better option than the Pats this week.