I haven’t seen the tape yet, and this time I’m a little worried. Perhaps it’s the drain that the Red Sox are putting on all of us in the New England area, their struggles at the plate rubbing off on everyone. Whatever it was, got off to an uncharacteristic start with some “catgotmytongueitis” last night. Quickly recovered to put in what I thought was another good segment for the show and Barry Manilow was waiting for me on the car radio to start the ride home. Always a welcome sound for my ears! And as usual it was a good show, especially since there was talk about my Rhody Rams!! Even though half the talk wasn’t good…I’m kidding of course…well, about some of the above…I think.
In any case, since there are so many changes afoot in the NFL this week, figured we should talk about their fantasy impact.
San Francisco QB – The rookie Alex Smith has been named the starter, replacing Tim Rattay. I’m disappointed by the move, mainly because if you saw the game the 49ers played last Sunday night, Johnny Unitas wouldn’t have stood a chance given the amount of time (or more appropriately, the lack of time) that Rattay was given. I stopped counting how many times Rattay was sacked before he finished his 5 step drop into the pocket. I still think Rattay has the skills to be the starter in the NFL, apparently those in San Francisco don’t agree. The change here is going to be a disaster. Sure, it’ll give the kid some reps for next year, but the Niners have some difficult matchups coming up, starting with this week against Indianapolis. Smith is going to struggle, and I’d suggest running away from this situation, and all San Francisco fantasy players.
Pittsburgh RB – Sorry to say, but the Willie Parker ride is coming to a sudden stop. New England found a way to bottle him up, and now not only is Duce Staley coming back, but Jerome Bettis is also on the horizon. I see Parker getting 1st and 2nd down action, then Staley coming in for 3rd down. Not good for anyone’s fantasy production. In another week or so, Bettis will be taking away goal line carries from both. Until one or more of these three get hurt, I’m not sure any of them are going to be viable fantasy starters.
Kansas City RB – This was supposed to be a 50-50 split for Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson, and that seemed to pan out when both guys were viable fantasy starters in week one (90+ total yards for both, each getting at least one touchdown). Things have already moved to a 66-33 split in favot of Holmes, and now word is that Dick Vermeil thinks that Holmes gets better the more work he gets, so look for that split to go even moreso in Holmes’ favor. Johnson hasn’t been a viable starter the past couple weeks anway, now it looks like he’ll have to wait for Holmes to be hurt before being a fantasy starter again.
Carolina RB – Stephen Davis got into the end zone three times in week two, so his overall numbers are slightly inflated, but he is getting the bulk of the ground work in Carolina. Like every year, we’re all waiting for him to get hurt so DeShaun Foster can take over full time. That still could happen, but in the meantime, it looks like Davis is going to get the majority of the carries. However, it is a slight majority in that not only is Foster in the mix, but Nick Goings and Brad Hoover have also seen some spot duty. The Panthers need a healthy Davis AND a healthy Foster, neither have been injury free for a whole season. I see this as both Davis and Foster being a viable RB2 and bye week fill ins for us fantasy leaguers. Davis getting the ground work, Foster getting more of the work thru the air.
Tampa Bay RB – Mums the word in Tampa Bay regarding the health of Cadillac Williams. It was puzzling to see the Bucs use the rookie a staggering 37 times in week 3, and they paid the price in seeing him hurt in week 4. Michael Pittman is a more than capable fill in, so expect Tampa Bay not to rush their prized rookie back onto the field until he’s ready. Pittman, if Williams doesn’t play, is a viable fantasy starter so pick him up if he is available. Williams owners will have to wait to hear that he’s a definate go for the game before getting him in their lineup.
New York Jets QB – Apparently, Joe Namath was not in football shape, so the Jets had to dig up the next oldest former player to be their starting QB. Vinnie Testaverde is back, and believe it or not I think this will help the Jets offense. I wouldn’t run back putting all your Jets back in the starting lineup (including Curtis Martin), but Vinnie will have more arm strength than Chad Pennington, and he is a veteran in the league so he knows how to play. Expect the Jets to ease him back into things slowly, then open up the offense in a couple weeks once he gets comfortable.
Buffalo QB – Who would have thought the Bills would regret the loss of Drew Bledsoe? JP Losman clearly was not ready to assume the starting role, and perhaps it wasn’t wise of the Bills to hand things over to him after he spent most of last year out with a leg injury. They turn things over to Kelly Holcomb, at least for the time being. Aside of Willis McGahee, you’re probably not playing anyone else from the Bills anyways so I would continue to take a wait and see approach with the new offensive leadership. I don’t see Holcomb as being a fantasy force, but perhaps he can get the Bills offense back on track.
And one more thing…GO RED SOX!