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SI: Time to worry about studs like McNabb, George


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Time to worry about studs like McNabb, George

Posted: Wednesday September 17, 2003 12:28PM; Updated: Wednesday September 17, 2003 1:14PM


By Kirk "Dr. Football" Bouyelas, Special to SI.com

If you watched the Ravens-Browns game this past weekend, you witnessed a remarkable feat by Jamal Lewis. After just 30 rushing attempts, Lewis set an NFL record for rushing yards in a single game with 295 yards, plus he scored twice. In a typical fantasy scoring system, Lewis scored about 41 points. As fantasy owners know, 41 points is huge! But wait -- did you actually start Jamal Lewis this week? I certainly hope so. Lewis would have probably won your game single-handedly after that performance.

Intensive Care Unit

Let's take a look at a few players who are dying in terms of fantasy production and have little hope of recovering.

Donovan McNabb has been sacked 10 times so far this season, and committed six turnovers.


Philly is in a funk. The entire team appears to be sleepwalking through their games. It's downright depressing to everyone who has Donovan McNabb. In the last two games, McNabb has thrown no touchdowns and three interceptions. He's averaging a pitiful 167 passing yards per game. What's going on here? Has the Redskins' Steve Spurrier drugged McNabb's Chunky Soup? Fantasy owners around the country need to know. Well know this -- until McNabb's head clears and he gets his groove back, avoid him like the plague. Start your backup quarterback, unless your backup is Kordell Stewart. Ouch!

Speaking of Kordell Stewart, how long do you think it will be until the Bears go with Chris Chandler or Rex Grossman? Starting the season 0-2, Stewart has failed on almost every level. He is averaging 116 passing yards per game and has a completion rate of 49 percent. While I can almost guarantee that most fantasy owners are not relying on Slash for their starting quarterback needs, they are relying on Marty Booker. Unfortunately, unless Stewart starts producing, Booker's fantasy value will be nil. It might be time to trade Booker before it's too late.

Why would you send your starting quarterback back into a game, knowing he has a concussion? Better yet -- why would you watch him get pummeled into the ground again and again, while everyone watching could see something was wrong? Thanks to Mike Martz, that's what happened to Kurt Warner in Week 1. His reward from coach Martz was a trip to the hot tub and then the bench. Citing the concussion, Martz benched Warner in Week 2 and started Marc Bulger. After Bulger's performance against the 49ers, Martz announced that he was the team's starter for Week 3. The best part -- Martz made the announcement to the public before he told Warner. Such class -- NOT! With Warner benched indefinitely, his fantasy value will take a big hit.

San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson was probably selected in the first three picks in most fantasy drafts this year. The choice was easy for most owners. Last year, Tomlinson racked up 2,172 multi-purpose yards and scored 15 touchdowns. With a year of experience under his belt and a Pro Bowl-caliber fullback leading the way, Tomlinson was primed to improve on the gaudy numbers he posted last year. But wait -- in the last two games Tomlinson has averaged only 90 multi-purpose yards per game. To make matters worse, LT2 has yet to score. Is it officially time to panic? Not yet. However, if Tomlinson has not improved his play within the next couple of weeks, you can officially start to panic.

By the way Eddie George has been playing lately, you'd think he was injured again. George is averaging a measly 2.5 yards per carry and has yet to reach the end zone. Fantasy owners are scratching their heads. Is his toe hurt? What about his knee? No my friends, George is not injured, even though he's playing like he was.

The high-flying Broncos offense has been grounded by the play of Jake Plummer. As such, the production of Broncos' receivers Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey, Ashley Lelie and tight end Shannon Sharpe has suffered greatly. Until Plummer can grasp this offense and improve his play, the fantasy production of the receivers will suffer.

Because of injuries, receivers Joe Jurevicius (knee), Reche Caldwell (wrist) and Jerry Porter (double hernia), will be out for approximately 6-8 weeks. WR/KR Jermaine Lewis (ACL) will be out for the year after sustaining a knee injury on a double reverse.

Recovery Room

The players below have strong vital signs in terms of fantasy production.

Patrick Ramsey is starting to click in the Redskins' offense. In two games, Ramsey has completed 67.7 percent of his passes and a QB rating of 104.3. With the offensive weapons at his disposal, Ramsey could end the year as a top 10 fantasy quarterback.

Coach Mike Martz has named Marc Bulger the starter for this weekend. Bulger is both a proven NFL performer and consistent fantasy producer. He's almost guaranteed to get you 275 yards and two touchdowns per week. I certainly hope you Kurt Warner owners drafted Bulger in the latter rounds of your draft as insurance. If not, then grab him via free agency as soon as possible.

Running backs rarely, if ever, return from an ACL injury after just one year. That seems to ring true with Edgerrin James, who was ineffective and tentative last year. Two years removed from the knee injury, James now looks like his old self. In last week's game against the Titans, James rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown. Look for more of the same in upcoming weeks. Hopefully, the Colts will be able to get Peyton Manning into gear.

Was it a sophomore slump that prevented Dolphins WR Chris Chambers from posting decent numbers last year? I suspect that it was probably poor quarterback play from Ray Lucas after Jay Fiedler was injured. Either way, Chambers is back with a vengeance. He's averaged 105 yards and a touchdown over the last two games. Not bad for a wide receiver playing in a run-oriented offense.

Don't look now, but TE Alge Crumpler is primed for a breakout season. Crumpler has become a favorite target of Falcons QB Doug Johnson and already has the trust of Michael Vick when he returns. If he continues at this rate, Crumpler could finish the year with 800 yards receiving.

Under the Microscope

Under the Microscope examines the recent developments in the league, situations to watch and key matchups to exploit or avoid. Let's take a look under the microscope to see what's up this week.

Cowboys kicker Billy Cundiff may have saved his job for now. After missing an easy field goal and an extra point in Week 1, Cundiff redeemed himself in Week 2 against the Giants, going 7-of-8 in field goals and 2-for-2 in extra points. He also kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime. Coach Parcells may even let him stick around for another week or two.

Kickers come and go in this league. Such is the story of 49ers kicker Jeff Chandler. It seems that the 49ers released Chandler this week and signed Owen Pochman to replace him. Take note of this signing if you relied on Chandler for your kicking duties.

This is the first week of byes. Don't forget that the Panthers, Bears, Cowboys and Eagles are all on a bye week. It would be very embarrassing and quite costly if you started any of these players.

Here's a few of the better game matchups to consider:

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions: The Vikings running game is unstoppable. As a team, Minnesota is ranked third in rushing, averaging 178 yards per game. The Vikings backs are finding success running behind one of the most massive offensive lines in the league. Moe Williams should have a huge game, even if the Vikings peel off some rushing attempts for rookie Onterrio Smith.

St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks: While the Seattle defense is much improved, the secondary has not been effective. The Seahawks are currently ranked 23rd against the pass and have a propensity to break down. Look for Marc Bulger and company to have a productive day.

Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers: There should be nothing to slow Jamal Lewis this week as the Ravens face the 29th-rated Chargers run defense. With the yards the Chargers have given up lately, Lewis might have a chance to break his record.

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins' secondary is allowing massive amounts of passing yards. Last week against the Jets, the Dolphins allowed Vinny Testeverde to throw for 373 yards. If Vinny can do that at age 40, what do you think Drew Bledsoe and the potent Bills passing attack will do to the 'Phins? Bledsoe possibly could post a 400-yard passing game.

Kansas City at Houston Texans: The Texans' defensive line is banged up and the secondary is tied for second in touchdowns allowed with five. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. However, don't be misled by the fact that the Dolphins were looking past the Texans. Don't expect the Chiefs to do that, as they should be able to take the Texans to the woodshed. Priest Holmes is a given, but you may find fantasy gold in the play of Trent Green.

Fantasy Quote of the Week

"They said everything was fine when they X-rayed him [Michael Vick] on Sept. 12 and they took him out of the cast and put a boot on him; it seems like everything's going the way they would like for it to. How far along he is? I don't know. I know he couldn't put a shoe on to take the team picture. If you can't put your shoe on, I don't know what that means with how long that's going to be before he can play. It doesn't sound good, but if it's been four weeks and they were saying six weeks. He's going to have to make a miraculous recovery in the next few weeks and hopefully he does."

-- Coach Dan Reeves, Atlanta Falcons

Fantasy Translation: Vick may not return until after the Falcons' bye in Week 8.

Kirk "Dr.Football" Bouyelas is the co-owner of FantasyAsylum.com. Kirk originally founded Dr.Football five years ago. This off-season, FantasyAsylum.com merged with Komments.com, DrFootball.com and David Grey's Fantasy Football Report.

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