This is an article from the Oct. 30, 2006 issue
Steelers AT Raiders
Big Ben's bad luck continued on Sunday, when he suffered a concussion in thethird quarter against the Falcons after throwing three TDs. Even if he'scleared to play, he's not a good option against Oakland, whose defense isporous against the run but has a punishing pass rush led by end DerrickBurgess.
Cardinals VS. Packers
Ranked at the bottom of the league against the pass, Green Bay allowed JoeyHarrington to throw for a whopping 414 yards last week. The woeful Cardinalsline, however, won't be able to keep the solid Packers pass rush off Leinart,who was 13 of 32 for 203 yards with two picks against the Raiders.
Jaguars AT Eagles
Hampered by a sore left ankle, Leftwich was terrible against the Texans,completing 14 of 28 passes for 125 yards--the lowest passing total againstHouston since Week 15 of 2004. Things won't be any easier againstPhiladelphia's defense, which limited the Bucs to 104 yards through theair.
Jaguars AT Eagles
The 5'7" rookie has wrested a chunk of the rushing duties from Fred Taylorand has had 13 carries twice. But they came against the Colts (then 27thagainst the run) and the Jets (25th). Despite a TD against the Texans onSunday, he gained only 10 yards. Don't count on him getting too many rushes atPhilly.
Patriots AT Vikings
Same situation, different team. Maroney was gaining ground on the incumbent,Corey Dillon; Maroney peaked with 125 yards rushing and two TDs against theBengals in Week 4. But it's hard to rest a back who runs for two scores in thefirst quarter, which is what Dillon did against the Bills last week.
Cardinals AT Packers
Any owner who drafted Emmitt Smith in 2003 or '04 knows this much: Arizonasimply isn't good at running the ball. Smith gained only 3.3 yards per carryduring his two-year stay in the desert, while Edge has averaged 2.7 in hisseven games. Don't look for things to improve for James anytime soon.
Colts AT Broncos
Denver's defense has allowed only two touchdowns (both passing) in '06, andChamp Bailey and Darrent Williams are cover cornerbacks who can guard bothWayne and Marvin Harrison. Wayne has just two TD catches this year, and in twocareer games at Invesco, Peyton Manning has not thrown for a score.
Seahawks AT Chiefs
Going up against his former Patriots teammate, five-time Pro Bowl cornerback TyLaw, won't be easy, especially with QB Matt Hasselbeck out with a sprainedknee. And Arrowhead Stadium is not a favorite stop for visiting wideouts: Thelast one to score there was Randy Moss, in Week 8 of 2005.
Raiders VS. Steelers
He has been suffering from a bad case of alligator arms, failing to go all outfor passes, and has let catchable balls slip though his hands. Even after his129-yard game against the Cardinals--his most yardage since Week 1 of2005--don't expect the brazen Moss of old to reappear against the ruggedPittsburgh D.
Patriots VS. Vikings
He leads his team in catches, but that's largely because Tom Brady threw a lotof short balls to him early in the season. Now that Brady is gettingcomfortable taking deep shots to his wideouts (Chad Jackson scored on a 35-yardcatch last week) and the running backs are gobbling up goal line carries (CoreyDillon had two red zone touchdowns), Watson will become an afterthought.
Buccaneers VS. Giants
He was wonderful against the Eagles, but Giants Stadium is not exactlykicker-friendly. Had he tried that 62-yarder there during this windy October,it might have landed on the New Jersey Turnpike. Bryant may have been a monsterlast week--he was 3 for 3, plus two extra points--but he started the season asa crummy fantasy kicker, and that's how he'll end it.
Baltimore's defensive problems can be traced to its sputtering offense. Becauseof iffy quarterback play, the once top-ranked defense has had to spend too muchtime on the field. New Orleans has a methodical attack--it ran an eight-minutedrive against Philly in Week 6--and will find ways to capitalize.
"ReliableRudi" is suddenly anything but, and fantasy owners thinking he'll find hisold form this week should think again. Johnson started the season with a bang,averaging 120.5 yards and scoring three TDs in his first two games. Since thenhe's been strangely quiet, especially where it counts the most: the red zone.While he did rush for 101 yards against the Panthers last week, he was againscoreless. Facing first-and-goal on the three-yard line late in the game,Johnson got one crack at the end zone before coach Marvin Lewis opted to passfor the TD instead. Lewis's decision to throw in that situation is a bad signfor anyone who depends on Johnson as a first-string running back. Another badsign: the Atlanta D. Other than Tiki Barber, no back (from a group thatincludes DeShaun Foster, Cadillac Williams, Deuce McAllister, Edgerrin Jamesand Willie Parker) has rushed for a TD or gained more than 81 yards against theFalcons.
WEEK 8 INJURYWATCH
For the latestinjury news, go to SI.com/football/nfl/injuries.
Bills, Dolphins, Lions, Redskins
FISH OR CUTBAIT?
It's not oftenthat you'd drop a healthy player who was ranked No. 1 at his position in thepreseason. But as good as Rackers was in 2005--he led all fantasy kickers--hehas been dismal in '06. Last year he missed only two of 42 kicks and made sixof seven field goals from 50 yards or more. This season he has already missedsix field goals in 18 attempts, including two decisive last-second boots, andhas gone 0 for 4 from long range. In seven games he has scored in doublefigures just twice. Since Rackers needs to be replaced for Arizona's bye inWeek 9, consider making a permanent change now.