Monday night double dip: Fantasy clicks
Aaron Rodgers: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
If you believe in Tony Kornheiser's hyperbole, the whole world was watching Aaron Rodgers last night. That's a little too far, but it's probably fair to say the majority of the Green Bay, Wis., metropolitan area tuned in, along with two- or three million other Americans. So, either way, it was still a big night for Rodgers.
What did we learn? The Packers might have played it a little more conservative than the Favre days, but Rodgers looked up to the part. He finished a cool 18-of-22 for 178 yards and a touchdown, plus one more on a sneak. (For the record, Rodgers' first touchdown of '08 -- and second of his career -- was a positively Favrelike flip to backup fullback Korey Hall.) Going forward, Rodgers makes a great fantasy backup and occasional starter when the match-up is right.
Other Packers did their usual thing: Ryan Grant looked healthy while pounding out 92 yards on the ground that included a 52-yard burst to set up the winning touchdown. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver combined to catch nine passes, and looked every bit as reliable as last season.
As for the Vikings, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson's first-half numbers were putrid: 2-for-7, 16 yards and zero passing first-downs. Meanwhile, all-world rusher Adrian Peterson rumbled for 75 yards in the opening two quarters. So, (channeling inner Kornheiser) if you're coach Brad Childress, why throw? Seriously, why?
Oh. Because you're trying to win the game. Or something like that.
So, the Vikings came out in the second half and tried chucking the ball all over the place. Jackson threw a late touchdown to second-year receiver Sidney Rice, but spent most of the night looking overmatched. His interception on the Vikings' final drive ended any chance for a miracle comeback. (It would not have as big as this miracle comeback.) If you're looking for a final verdict, Jackson is not a viable fantasy option, unless you play in a 32-team league.
But Peterson? Just your run-of-the-mill 19 thundering carries for 103 yards and a score against an entire night of eight-man fronts. Yeah, he's pretty good.
Unless you live under a rock, or are a bigger idiot than this guy, I'm sure you've heard the Tom Brady injury news. Those who pinned their fantasy hopes and dreams (and, possibly, finances) on the quarterback are still probably in a state of shock. What can you do to snap a Brady owner out of their funk? Well, you could send them one of these. (They look ridiculous, but trust me, they're delicious.) But it's probably more fun to send this, and if they're within earshot, listen for the sound of face meeting keyboard in frustration.
Nate Burleson: Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI
Tough week in Seattle. First the 'Hawks got waxed by the Bills in Buffalo, and now receiver Nate Burleson is out for the year with a knee injury. Add that to Bobby Engram, who's out until October with a cracked shoulder, and Deion Branch, who's probably still two weeks away, and you've got a mess in the Seattle receiving corps. Currently the top three receivers are some guys named Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent and Logan Payne. I can't even guess who might emerge as Matt Hasselbeck's favorite target, so maybe it's best to just throw the names in a hat and see who you pull out.
Matt Cassel, QB, Patriots. (loudly groaning) He's The Man in New England for at least a week. As of this writing rumors are swirling around Chris Simms and Tim Rattay jetting to Foxborough, Mass., for a tryout. For now, Cassel's the guy Brady owners should target. With Randy Moss and Wes Welker on the outside, I think Cassel might be slightly more than a mediocre fantasy starter. (But still a fantastic karaoke singer.) Sunday will be Cassel's first start since high school, which when you think about it, is completely ridiculous. I mean he's a professional quarterback, but somewhere arrived at that point without starting an actual game at any level since the Clinton administration. Consider me skeptical.
Kerry Collins, QB, Titans. Tom Brady wasn't the only quarterback to get hurt in Week 1; Vince Young has a torn MCL and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Time once again for the Kerry Collins show in Tennessee, and he could give you better numbers than Young, who threw for a miserly 110 yards and two picks on Sunday.
Le'Ron McClain, RB, Ravens. Sounds like a name fit for John McCain's crazy cousin, but McClain came out of nowhere to rush 19 times for 86 yards on Sunday (which is probably what you'd expect John McCain's crazy cousin to do, if he had one). With incumbent Willis McGahee still recovering from knee surgery and rookie Ray Rice surprisingly ineffective -- although they did split carries -- McClain becomes the guy Willis owners should look to add immediately.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans. We were hyping the jitterbug Johnson pretty heavily this preseason, and he didn't disappoint in Week 1, going for 127 total yards and a touchdown. He's probably available in shallow leagues only, but if he's somehow still out there, you want him.
Matt Jones, WR, Jaguars. Yep, this is the same Jones who had some, uh, off-field issues last summer. With the Jags running game going nowhere on Sunday, quarterback David Garrard threw the ball 35 times, targeting the 6-6 Jones on 10 occasions. Jones finished with six catches for 80 yards, and makes for a decent play going forward as fellow wideout Reggie Williams remains hobbled by a (presumably) minor back injury.
Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Panthers. Could one of the preseason's most dynamic offenses continue the magic when playing a game that counts? Yes. Yes it could. Muhammad was targeted a whopping 15 times by Jake Delhomme on Sunday in San Diego, finishing with six catches. The Week 2 match-up against the resurgent Bears won't be easy, but let's remember the Chargers were supposed to have one of the best Ds in football, and Carolina still moved the ball. Muhammad will still be the team's No. 2 receiver when Steve Smith returns from suspension in Week 3, but will remain worthy of a roster spot.
Eagles, DST. The Rams are no longer "The Greatest Show on Turf," but the Eagles impressively slammed the door on Marc Bulger and Co. in a 38-3 laugher. (The Rams had 109 yards through three quarters. 109!) The Eagles face Dallas in Week 2, which is unappealing, but this defense is going to be useful going forward.
1) Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals. Things are just a mess in Cincy. If you move Palmer now, you could still get full value based on the big name. But you better move fast.
2) Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers. He's still an attractive rookie. But he's going to spend most of his Sunday's on the bench unless Willie Parker gets hurt.
3) Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals. He reached 100 yards on Sunday, making his value higher than it will be most weeks. See what you can get, then grab James' rookie understudy, Tim Hightower, who scored in Week 1.
4) Vincent Jackson, and 5) Chris Chambers WR, Chargers. Both Jackson and Chris Chambers benefited from QB Philip Rivers' uncharacteristically big day. See if you can flip one for a receiver who struggled on Sunday (Laveranues Coles, Santonio Holmes), but has the potential to quickly snap out of it.
More on those soaring Philadelphia Eagles. Donovan McNabb threw three more touchdowns on Sunday, giving him 174 for his career. He's just five behind the franchise's all-time leader for TD passes. Who is it?
We had many great responses to my call last week for your interesting/exciting/over-the-top draft stories. Scott from Gainesville, Fla., described a hilarious auctioneer, who knew nothing about football, at his league's draft. On the other end of the spectrum, John from Delmar, Del., berated Comcast for his failed high-speed connection at an inopportune time, sticking him with a Gore/L.J. backfield. (That tandem didn't look too bad on Sunday, so maybe today he's feeling a little better.)
Possibly the funniest draft room belonged to none other than Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who even supplied a video of the main event on his blog. It's well worth checking out. Thanks again to all of you who submitted stories.
Former Eagles great and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski is the Eagles all-time leader in touchdown passes with 179-- a record that McNabb will likely break in the coming weeks.
At long last, SI.com has a fantasy football game, complete with all of the drafts, waiver wires, stats and analysis you need. Take the grand tour here and sign up a league. Heck, sign up two leagues if you want. We'll be waiting.