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Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The Big Rotowski: LT, Peyton keep dropping

By Christopher Harris
ESPN.com

Editor's note: These rankings are meant to capture fantasy value from today through the end of the NFL regular season. We'll publish them every Tuesday during the season to help you decide about trades and waiver-wire acquisitions; as such, this list won't always reflect news that comes out later in the week. And remember, every Wednesday you'll find week-specific rankings from all our fantasy football writers.

Quarterback Rankings
RANK Name Team Last Week
1 Drew Brees Saints 1
2 Kurt Warner Cardinals 2
3 Donovan McNabb Eagles 5
4 Ben Roethlisberger Steelers 6
5 Jay Cutler Broncos 3
6 Philip Rivers Chargers 9
7 Peyton Manning Colts 4
8 Tony Romo Cowboys 12
9 Aaron Rodgers Packers 10
10 Eli Manning Giants 7
11 Brett Favre Jets 8
12 Matt Schaub Texans 13
13 David Garrard Jaguars 11
14 Trent Edwards Bills 14
15 Derek Anderson Browns 15
16 Kyle Orton Bears 20
17 Jake Delhomme Panthers 16
18 Jason Campbell Redskins 17
19 Matt Ryan Falcons 19
20 Marc Bulger Rams 21
21 Chad Pennington Dolphins 24
22 Matt Cassel Patriots 23
23 Jeff Garcia Buccaneers 28
24 Kerry Collins Titans 25
25 Gus Frerotte Vikings 26
26 J.T. O'Sullivan 49ers 22
27 JaMarcus Russell Raiders 27
28 Dan Orlovsky Lions 32
29 Seneca Wallace Seahawks 34
30 Ryan Fitzpatrick Bengals 36
31 Damon Huard Chiefs NR
32 Shaun Hill 49ers NR
33 Matt Hasselbeck Seahawks 18
34 Joe Flacco Ravens 31
35 Brad Johnson Cowboys 33
36 Tyler Thigpen Chiefs NR
37 Brady Quinn Browns 38
38 Matt Leinart Cardinals 39
39 Drew Stanton Lions 40
40 Charlie Frye Seahawks NR

Notes: Philip Rivers just keeps throwing the ball down the field. His 8.7 yards per attempt is highest in the league, even better than Drew Brees' 8.5. With the Chargers' running game struggling, Rivers is verging on top-five territory. … It sounds as though Tony Romo is going to try to play sooner rather than later. His status for the Rams disaster was up in the air until game time, and the season could slip away very quickly for the Cowboys if Romo doesn't decide to give it a shot. There's definite risk involved in playing soon; he reportedly could suffer a compound fracture and be done for the year. But I wouldn't bet against seeing Romo in Week 9 against the Giants, at the very least. … Kyle Orton has put together three straight terrific games, and if not for a Marty Booker drop, Orton would've had another long score Sunday. I still can't get him into my top 10, no matter how hard I try. He's Kyle Orton. But after this week's bye, he's got another sweet matchup against the Lions. I'm worried that eventually he goes bad, but for now, you can start him. … Jeff Garcia's good game against Seattle was predictable (in fact, I predicted it), and he should have another nice day against the depleted Dallas secondary in Week 7. Things will get tougher on him eventually, but he's a good matchup play. … With Mike Nolan getting fired, J.T. O'Sullivan had better cozy up to prospective coach Mike Singletary but quick. JTO was awful against the Giants, and looks like a candidate to be replaced sometime after midseason. Shaun Hill would get the nod. … Dan Orlovsky put up big numbers against Houston, but realize that 154 of his 265 passing yards came on two throws to Calvin Johnson, each of which had a lot more to do with Johnson than Orlovsky (one was a Hail Mary just before halftime). … Seneca Wallace doesn't stink as badly as he played Sunday night, but boy, he was awful. He looked ill at ease with Tampa's blitz, and figures to see a whole lot of pressure in the coming weeks. Matt Hasselbeck isn't expected to return from his back troubles any time soon. … The feeling in Cincinnati seems more and more to be that we've seen the last of Carson Palmer this year. … Brodie Croyle is out for the season with a torn MCL. Damon Huard is his backup, but he got hurt at the end of this week's game against Tennessee, so the immortal Tyler Thigpen might be in line for some starts.

Running Back Rankings
RANK Name Team Last Week
1 Adrian Peterson Vikings 1
2 Marion Barber Cowboys 2
3 Clinton Portis Redskins 3
4 Brian Westbrook Eagles 6
5 Frank Gore 49ers 5
6 Brandon Jacobs Giants 9
7 Steven Jackson Rams 8
8 LaDainian Tomlinson Chargers 4
9 Marshawn Lynch Bills 7
10 Ronnie Brown Dolphins 12
11 Jamal Lewis Browns 13
12 Michael Turner Falcons 14
13 Matt Forte Bears 15
14 Ryan Grant Packers 17
15 Maurice Jones-Drew Jaguars 18
16 Chris Johnson Titans 21
17 Joseph Addai Colts 10
18 Thomas Jones Jets 20
19 Steve Slaton Texans 26
20 Reggie Bush Saints 11
21 Willie Parker Steelers 16
22 LenDale White Titans 29
23 Jonathan Stewart Panthers 22
24 Willis McGahee Ravens 27
25 DeAngelo Williams Panthers 25
26 Larry Johnson Chiefs 19
27 Earnest Graham Buccaneers 23
28 Darren McFadden Raiders 31
29 Fred Taylor Jaguars 32
30 Justin Fargas Raiders 28
31 Julius Jones Seahawks 24
32 Edgerrin James Cardinals 30
33 Michael Pittman Broncos 38
34 Cedric Benson Bengals 43
35 Warrick Dunn Buccaneers 41
36 Kevin Smith Lions 37
37 Sammy Morris Patriots 34
38 Deuce McAllister Saints 44
39 Dominic Rhodes Colts 48
40 Ahman Green Texans 50
41 Tim Hightower Cardinals 39
42 Rudi Johnson Lions 40
43 Felix Jones Cowboys 33
44 Selvin Young Broncos 35
45 Darren Sproles Chargers 42
46 Le'Ron McClain Ravens 46
47 Chester Taylor Vikings NR
48 Leon Washington Jets NR
49 Ricky Williams Dolphins 47
50 Mewelde Moore Steelers NR

Notes: Steven Jackson had a massive fantasy day against the Cowboys, and according to Jim Haslett, the quad injury that scared the fantasy world Monday morning is apparently fine now. Jackson should be good to go against a relatively vulnerable Patriots defense next week. … In the chunks of the Chargers-Bills game I could see (power outages in Buffalo interrupted the network feed), LaDainian Tomlinson looked terrible. His O-line did him no favors, but his quickness, especially on screens and flares, was as lacking as I've seen it this year. That's alarming because Tomlinson told reporters his toe felt good. I expected more, and I have to admit: I'm starting to waver. The Saints have done well in matchups against tough rushers in recent weeks, though they're by no means an elite defense. LT better show us something in London. … Joseph Addai missed a nice matchup against an injured Packers rush defense, and could miss one or two more games with his pulled hamstring. Dominic Rhodes (20 carries for only 73 yards but two touchdowns) likely continues to sub if Addai is out Monday night. … Reggie Bush has already undergone surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and will miss between two and four weeks. Deuce McAllister figures to see an uptick in touches, provided his surgically constructed knees hold up, and Pierre Thomas and Aaron Stecker may pitch in. … Willie Parker stepped in a hole in practice last week (which begs the question: why are there holes where the Steelers practice?), and had to miss his plum matchup against the Bengals. Mewelde Moore filled in admirably, and deserves his spot on this list. Whether Parker will be able to play next week against the Giants is currently up in the air. … Sure, LenDale White's girth is the butt of jokes from his own coach ("LenDale must've eaten a salad this week," said Jeff Fisher), but he's a touchdown machine: His three against the Chiefs gave him eight on the year. He's getting to be a borderline fantasy start most weeks. … Larry Johnson was suspended this past week, and several news outlets have reported that LJ could face discipline from the league for a nightclub incident in which Johnson allegedly pushed a woman. Jamaal Charles would be my favorite over Kolby Smith in Johnson's absence, but neither guy could really be counted on for much as long as they'd split the job. … That's the Julius Jones that Cowboys fans remember. Plus Maurice Morris is back and healthy, really submarining Jones' fantasy value. … It wasn't like Cedric Benson had a good game against the Steelers (14 carries for 52 yards), but it was a heck of a lot better than what Chris Perry had given the Bengals lately. Benson will stay the starter. … Sammy Morris ran hog wild in the first half Monday night against Denver (then again, who doesn't?), but hurt his knee and didn't return after halftime. The field is wide-open with Laurence Maroney out for the season with a bad shoulder and LaMont Jordan missing time with a bum calf, but can Morris stay healthy enough to take advantage? Kevin Faulk and undrafted rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis could be in line to start against the Rams next week. … I've been pitching Ahman Green as a decent flex play the past few weeks, and he rewarded me Sunday with 14 carries for 62 yards and a score against the Lions. Steve Slaton is obviously the main guy, but as long as he's healthy, Green is a drain on Slaton's value.

Wide Receiver Rankings
RANK Name Team Last Week
1 Brandon Marshall Broncos 1
2 Larry Fitzgerald Cardinals 2
3 Reggie Wayne Colts 3
4 Andre Johnson Texans 4
5 Greg Jennings Packers 5
6 Steve Smith Panthers 6
7 Plaxico Burress Giants 8
8 Terrell Owens Cowboys 7
9 Roddy White Falcons 10
10 Calvin Johnson Lions 12
11 Lee Evans Bills 15
12 Randy Moss Patriots 11
13 Marques Colston Saints 9
14 Dwayne Bowe Chiefs 14
15 Santana Moss Redskins 16
16 Braylon Edwards Browns 13
17 Santonio Holmes Steelers 18
18 Laveranues Coles Jets 19
19 Anquan Boldin Cardinals 20
20 Hines Ward Steelers 22
21 Jerricho Cotchery Jets 17
22 Wes Welker Patriots 21
23 T.J. Houshmandzadeh Bengals 23
24 Donald Driver Packers 25
25 Bernard Berrian Vikings 27
26 Marvin Harrison Colts 24
27 Chad Johnson Bengals 29
28 Torry Holt Rams 26
29 Vincent Jackson Chargers 33
30 Eddie Royal Broncos 31
31 Roy E. Williams Cowboys 28
32 DeSean Jackson Eagles 32
33 Chris Chambers Chargers 30
34 Kevin Walter Texans 35
35 Anthony Gonzalez Colts 36
36 Kevin Curtis Eagles 39
37 Antonio Bryant Buccaneers NR
38 Lance Moore Saints 47
39 Muhsin Muhammad Panthers 42
40 Greg Camarillo Dolphins 43
41 Isaac Bruce 49ers 41
42 Steve Breaston Cardinals 46
43 Reggie Brown Eagles 45
44 Derrick Mason Ravens 48
45 Josh Morgan 49ers NR
46 Donnie Avery Rams NR
47 Mike Furrey Lions NR
48 Matt Jones Jaguars 38
49 Bobby Engram Seahawks 34
50 Malcom Floyd Chargers NR

Notes: Have a little more faith in Marques Colston. He didn't catch a single pass in his return against the Panthers, and had two drops, whereupon he was benched in what turned into a blowout. Hopefully he'll get in game shape this week. Within a few weeks, I have hopes he'll be back to his dominant self. … Laveranues Coles jumps ahead of his teammate Jerricho Cotchery in my estimation. Cotchery came out of the Jets game this weekend in the first half because of injury, and while he did return, he only made one catch (for zero yards) all day, although he did get seven targets. Coles had out-targeted him in New York's previous two games, and was by far the more effective player Sunday. … I also have Vincent Jackson ahead of Chris Chambers. Chambers is probably faster (when he's healthy), but Jackson is so much bigger and is finally looking like the physical receiver we were promised a couple years ago. As Antonio Gates struggles, Jackson can fold into Gates' role even when Chambers does get his ankle right. … After Sunday night's impressive effort, the Bucs announced that Antonio Bryant will remain their No. 1 receiver even after Joey Galloway returns to health (whenever the heck that'll be). Bryant will probably be inconsistent, but he put on a show against Seattle. … Josh Morgan has replaced Bryant Johnson in the 49ers starting lineup. Morgan looked like a playmaker against the Giants, though he did drop what should've been an easy big-yardage catch. … Mike Furrey got eight targets Sunday (compared to Calvin Johnson's four), and appears to have the advantage right now on Shaun McDonald. McDonald started and did see six targets, but caught none. … Matt Jones has been suspended for three games by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy, and he drops on the receiver list accordingly. He still might have the most value of any Jags receiver, though; it's unclear if Mike Walker is healthy, and neither Reggie Williams nor Jerry Porter has made an impact in '08. … Bobby Engram is supposed to be a quarterback's security blanket, but he's had eight targets and one catch in his past two games combined. It's hard to foresee much value for him unless Matt Hasselbeck comes back.

Tight End Rankings
RANK Name Team Last Week
1 Jason Witten Cowboys 1
2 Antonio Gates Chargers 2
3 Kellen Winslow Browns 3
4 Tony Gonzalez Chiefs 4
5 Owen Daniels Texans 6
6 Dallas Clark Colts 5
7 Chris Cooley Redskins 7
8 Greg Olsen Bears 9
9 Zach Miller Raiders 11
10 John Carlson Seahawks 12
11 Tony Scheffler Broncos 8
12 Heath Miller Steelers 10
13 Vernon Davis 49ers 14
14 Jeremy Shockey Saints 13
15 Todd Heap Ravens 15
16 Anthony Fasano Dolphins 16
17 Bo Scaife Titans 19
18 L.J. Smith Eagles 17
19 Dustin Keller Jets 18
20 Visanthe Shiancoe Vikings 20
21 Donald Lee Packers 23
22 Marcedes Lewis Jaguars 21
23 Benjamin Watson Patriots 22
24 David Martin Dolphins 30
25 Alge Crumpler Titans 24
26 Alex Smith Buccaneers 25
27 Desmond Clark Bears 26
28 Dante Rosario Panthers 28
29 Robert Royal Bills 29
30 Ben Utecht Bengals NR

Notes: Tony Scheffler didn't play Monday night. … John Carlson was eminently quiet (along with the entire Seattle offense) until garbage time, when he caught a nice little play-action touchdown. Heck, in a season of disappointing tight ends, we'll take it where we can get it. … Jeremy Shockey reportedly blasted the Saints in a postgame interview Sunday for mishandling his groin injury, and said he suffered through a lot of pain against Carolina. However, he did make the trip to London, and is likely to be questionable for Sunday. He's a hard guy to rely on at this point, but the Saints did target him seven times. … Surprise! Vernon Davis had a hellaciously bad drop against the Giants that really hurt the Niners' comeback chances. … Bo Scaife just quietly continues to be a big part of the Titans offense. He's a nice bye-week fill-in, though Tennessee isn't passing much in the red zone. … David Martin got four targets (and four catches) to Anthony Fasano's three targets (and two catches) in Sunday's game. Fasano is still the starter, but we're watching.

Defense Rankings
RANK Name Last Week
1 Tennessee 2
2 Pittsburgh 3
3 NY Giants 1
4 Philadelphia 5
5 Baltimore 6
6 Tampa Bay 7
7 Carolina 8
8 Buffalo 11
9 Minnesota 4
10 San Diego 10
11 Chicago 9
12 Jacksonville 12
13 New England 13
14 Miami 16
15 Green Bay 14
16 NY Jets 18
17 Indianapolis 17
18 Oakland 19
19 Dallas 15
20 Arizona 20
21 Houston 21
22 Washington 23
23 Atlanta 24
24 New Orleans 25
25 St. Louis 31
26 San Francisco 26
27 Seattle 22
28 Denver 27
29 Cleveland 29
30 Cincinnati 28
31 Kansas City 30
32 Detroit 32

Notes: The Giants' issues at corner reared their heads again Sunday, as Aaron Ross was temporarily benched. The pass rush hasn't been as consistent lately (though Justin Tuck responded to recent criticism with two sacks and two forced fumbles); that obviously has a tendency to expose flaws in a secondary. … What the heck was that, Vikings? I know Kyle Orton is have a shocking run right now, but they couldn't get a pass rush going against suspect Bears tackles and couldn't cover your grandmother. The preseason's consensus No. 1 fantasy defense is reeling. … The Bears drop some, too, but they get a bit more of a free pass than Minny, simply because anyone could see this coming. So many of their corners are hurt. One assumes eventually these guys will return to health; for now, it's tough to start this unit, though. … The Dolphins D has been a nice story, but it looked pretty old and beat up in the middle in Sunday's loss against the Ravens. In particular, Jason Ferguson's injury really crippled the run defense. This is still a surprising unit, but temper your enthusiasm. … As I said they'd be, the Cowboys corners were a disaster against the Rams. Terence Newman will miss at least a couple more games, and I wouldn't hold my breath for Pacman's return. This looks like a problem without a solution.

Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.