Fantasy Clicks: Eagles Soar to Top of FUR
Donovan McNabb :: Al Tielemans/SI
Last weeks' return of Donovan McNabb underscored just how good this Eagles offense can be. Drew Brees and the Saints may get all of the pub when it comes to explosive offenses, but I contend that Philly has the best fantasy players around -- no fewer than 11 of which deserve spots on your weekly roster. When healthy McNabb is as productive a quarterback as there is and Kevin Kolb showed that he's an excellent insurance policy for McNabb owners. While neither Brian Westbrook nor Shady McCoy is a top notch RB1 anymore, there's no shame as having either as a RB2 or a flex week after week. Among tight ends Brent Celek is fourth in catches, third in yards and that's after Philly's bye week. Even with starter Kevin Curtis sidelined, the Eagles receivers -- long an Achilles' heel of the franchise -- have been nothing short of spectacular with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin earning every-week starter status. Even Jason Avant is worthy of a spot bye-week start. For good measure, Andy Reid's special teams and defense is at the tops of most fantasy scoring systems and David Akers ranks fifth in the league among kickers in scoring with 8.3 points per game.
The Eagles are No. 1. Where do the other teams stand in my overall fantasy usefulness rankings? Check 'em out:
1. Philadelphia Eagles ... Maclin is just the latest of 11 fantasy-worthy Eagles.
2. Indianapolis Colts ... Peyton Manning's receivers (Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garçon, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark) along with both Colts running backs (Joseph Addai and Donald Brown) are good additions to any team. Matt Stover steps in for the injured Adam Vinatieri and shouldn't last long on next week's waiver wires.
3. New Orleans Saints ... The only things keeping Brees' squad from being higher on the list has been the inconsistent availability of running backs Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell and a disappointing campaign from '08 hero Lance Moore. Jeremy Shockey's resurgence has been a pleasant surprise and Marques Colston is back to being one of the league's best.
4. New York Giants ... Little Bro has become a star and brought Steve Smith and Mario Manningham along with him. The defense and kicker Lawrence Tynes are at the top of their respective positions and either head of the running back platoon is useable anytime.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers ... Willie Parker has been, and will continue to be, a non-factor, as has been the overvalued defense (a perfect example of why you should never overdraft a defense), but the rest of his Black and Gold-clad mates have oodles of value. Ben Roethlisberger has taken great strides as a fantasy player, thanks in large part to the emergence of Santonio Holmes as a top-flight pass catcher and a strong early performance by rookie Mike Wallace. Throw in Heath Miller and Hines Ward and you have a very potent attack. Then there's Rashard Mendenhall who, when all is said and done, will be one of the year's top fantasy finds.
6. Minnesota Vikings ... Brett Favre has been spectacular and has made Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice weekly starters. Percy Harvin is electric as is Adrian Peterson, who has been worth every top pick used to get him. The defense is among the league's top and Ryan Longwell is averaging nine points per game.
7. Atlanta Falcons ... In Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons can match top fours with any team. However, the dropoff after that group is precipitous.
8. Arizona Cardinals ... There's no way that you'd have believed that the most valuable Cardinal would be Tim Hightower, but thus far he is. Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston are all weekly starters but Beanie Wells has proven to be nothing more than bench depth.
9. Seattle Seahawks ... With Matt Hasselbeck in the lineup, the Seahawks are sneaky valuable. Two receivers (Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh) a tight end (John Carlson) one running back (Julius Jones) and Hasselbeck are all weekly starters and the defense is sneaking up on the top tier.
10. Baltimore Ravens ... After a blazing start, the Ravens have perched themselves in the middle of the pack. Joe Flacco is still a starter as are Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, but the receiving corps and defense have lost a lot of luster recently.
11. Denver Broncos ... Unlike his old team the Patriots, Josh McDaniels actually has running backs in Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter, who can be used. Brandon Marshall is playing like the best receiver in the league and Kyle Orton is a solid QB2. Plus, for the first time in years, the Broncos' defense is fantasy-friendly.
12. New England Patriots ... I took heat for ranking Tom Brady out of the Top 5 quarterbacks in my preseason rankings and now you see why. He's been tentative and the team around him has deteriorated. Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Stephen Gostkowski must start for you but everyone else, including Brady, has become a week-to-week decision.
13. Cincinnati Bengals ... One of the most surprising success stories of the season have had some solid fantasy contributors (Chad Ochocinco, Cedric Benson, defense) but for the most part the Bengals have been under the fantasy radar. Veteran Laveranues Coles has been a disappointment and Carson Palmer runs hot and cold. Keep an eye on Brian Leonard, who is becoming a receiving force out of the backfield.
14. New York Jets ... Mark Sanchez has been as good as anyone could've hoped from a rookie quarterback and the addition of Braylon Edwards should only make his numbers get better. Tight end Dustin Keller has been a forgotten man but should start picking up more targets soon. The running back committee should get a bit more crowded as Shonn Greene gets more acclimated into the offense. Keep an eye out for David Clowney who's been an August All-Pro but showed his regular-season potential against the Dolphins (four catches, 72 yards).
15. Houston Texans ... Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are big-time players while Steve Slaton is starting to show signs of being a top back. Jacoby Jones has been a surprise scoring touchdowns in three consecutive games and he's sure to be available in your league.
16. San Diego Chargers ... A stunning stat: The Chargers rank dead last in the NFL with 53.8 rushing yards per game. It doesn't help LaDainian Tomlinson or Darren Sproles fans but Vincent Jackson has been one of the league's best.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars ... Which Jaguars show up? Are they the 300-passing yards for David Garrard team that has made a fantasty stud out of Mike Sims-Walker? Or are they the shutout at the hands of the mediocre Seahawks defense last week? Even Maurice Jones-Drew has not been at the top of his game this year, ranking 12th in the league in rushing.
18. Dallas Cowboys ... Miles Austin's big game aside, the Cowboys aren't anywhere as good a fantasy squad as everybody expected. Only Austin and Tashard Choice has exceeded expectations while Marion Barber, Tony Romo and Roy Williams have been busts so far.
19. Green Bay Packers ... Where has Greg Jennings been? Aaron Rodgers' numbers have suffered while his favorite receiver has been slowed by injuries and double coverage. Ryan Grant is on the verge of oblivion. Jermichael Finley has stepped up as a tight end and Mason Crosby is a solid kicker.
20. Miami Dolphins ... A prime example of a good offense with limited fantasy value. Ronnie Brown is the only no-brainer starter on the entire squad although you'll be hard pressed to find a much better flex player than Ricky Williams (assuming that his ankle injury isn't serious). Of the receivers, Davone Bess is the most consistent, but with Chad Henne now running the show, Ted Ginn could finally realize some of his potential.
21. Washington Redskins ... Clinton Portis, Chris Cooley and Santana Moss have been steady and Jason Campbell has matched the touchdown totals of Romo and Warner. However, there's not much else to talk about on a team poised for rebuilding.
22. Tennessee Titans ... Chris Johnson is one of the best in the game but the malaise that is evident in the team's 0-5 record can also be seen in the fantasy stats. Of the rest of the squad, only Kenny Britt has been a pleasant surprise.
23. Chicago Bears ... A trade for Terrell Owens would make this a much more interesting bunch and would elevate Jay Cutler's value. In the meantime, Matt Forte has struggled and the receiving corps has been mediocre at best., although Johnny Knox is explosive and also helps boost the value of Chicago's defense/special teams.
24. Detroit Lions ... Simply put, they're not as bad as they could be. Kevin Smith and Calvin Johnson (although injured) are solid starters while Brandon Pettigrew is playing himself into fantasy consideration at tight end. Bryant Johnson is serviceable but neither of the backup running backs, Maurice Morris and Aaron Brown, are worthy of your time.
25. San Francisco 49ers ... Now that the Falcons deflated the Niners defensive value, the lone stud left is Frank Gore who should be healthy enough to play in Week 7. Michael Crabtree won't have enough of an impact to ever see time in your '09 lineup so don't waste a roster spot on him.
26. Carolina Panthers ... Beyond DeAngelo Williams, the Panthers are just not full of fantasy assets. Jake Delhomme's troubles have rendered Steve Smith as average and Jonathan Stewart has been invisible.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ... Cadillac Williams has seized control of the running back committee and Josh Johnson is entertaining is not a true fantasy asset. Antonio Bryant isn't reliable enough to play every eek, but Kellen Winslow is getting there.
28. Buffalo Bills ... This is an offense hurtling out of control. Trent Edwards has squandered countless chances to prove that he's a true NFL starter, while the only fantasy stud on the squad, Fred Jackson, lost his cache when Marshawn Lynch returned.
29. St. Louis Rams ... You have to feel for Steven Jackson who would be a superstar on a team with more talent. He and possibly Donnie Avery are the only Rams to own, with Jax the only one to regualrly start.
30. Kansas City Chiefs ... A frustrating bunch, these Chiefs. Dwayne Bowe is just about the only one you'd use on a regular basis and even he's not a slam-dunk decision.
31. Cleveland Browns ... A fantasy wasteland where even the promising Jerome Harrison isn't worth using as long as Jamal Lewis lingers. Mohamed Massaquoi would be a good receiver with any semblance of a quality quarterback throwing to him.
32. Oakland Raiders ... Who would you start from the Raiders? Nobody? Me either.
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