by Jim O'Dell
October 7, 2005
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    Can you believe the NFL season is already four weeks old?  It seems like the off season goes by so slowly, then, the season finally arrives and BAM!  It just flies by us!  So far, the season has many surprises.  Tampa Bay and Cincinnati are 4-0?  The Redskins are 3-0?  Is Minnesota really that bad without Randy Moss?  Does Indianapolis really have a defense now instead of their cheerleaders dress up as football players?  The season has had some strangeness to it, not only from a football perspective, but a fantasy one as well.  We will take a look back at the first "quarter" of the season and look at some of the highs and lows of weeks 1-4.

Quarterbacks:  Do you realize there are tow guys on a 5,000 yard plus pace right now?  After four weeks, Donovan McNabb and Mark Bulger have throw for 1,333 and 1,312 yards, respectfully.  McNabb has 11 touchdown throws to go along with all that yardage as well.  Donovan has the better chance to eclipse the 5,00 yard mark, more so than Bulger, since the Rams offensive line can keep him vertical (he's been sacked 16 times already, 10 more than McNabb).  Who would have thought Eli Manning would have more touchdown passes (9) than his brother Peyton (6)?  Eli has the Giants at 3-1 and has played better and better each week, including a four touchdown performance last week.  Peyton Manning and the Colts have been slow to flex their offensive muscles so far, relying on their new and improved defense.  By season's end, look for the older Manning to outgun his little brother, but Eli's stats won't be that bad either.  Carson Palmer has shown improvement in each of this years in the league, and this year, he has broken out into a premiere fantasy quarterback.  He has a 9-2 td/int ratio (same as Eli) and has thrown for over 1,000 yards as well, leading the undefeated Bengals.  This is his year to shine.  Others have not fared so well.  I, for one, thought that this would be Joey Harrington's year to shine as well.  So far, he and his fellow Lion's have underachieved.  Harrington has just three td passes along with five picks, and a measly 500 yards.  Trent Green is having a sub-par year as well.  Some of that can be blamed on injuries to his offensive line, keeping TE Tony Gonzalez in on passing downs to help protect him.  Dante Culpepper is having a miserable season so far.  The loss of Moss and injuries to his new #1, Nate Burleson as well as a lack of a running game has hampered Culpepper so far this year.  Another young slinger I thought would have a good fantasy season was Kyle Boller, but injuries have kept him on the sideline for the last three weeks.  A few middle of the pack guys I expect to heat up as the season progresses are Jake Plummer, Drew Brees, and Jake Delhomme.  Look for Aaron Brooks and Matt Hasselbeck as well to kick it into a higher gear.

Running Backs:  No one has been more surprising so far this young season than rookie Carnell Williams has been.  He is third overall in rushing, leading the Bucs to an undefeated record.  He'll have to work hard to pass #1 and #2 though.  Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson have been their normal fantasy studs, rushing for 455 and 450 yards and six and eight touchdowns, respectively.  Although he only has one score, Edgerrin James has been a workhorse for the Colts, no pun intended.  Look for him to continue on towards a fine fantasy season.  A lot of people wrote him off before the season started, but Thomas Jones is quietly having a nice fantasy start, with four touchdowns and 276 yards.  There is much turmoil in Cheeshead Land, and Ahman Green is right in the think of it.  He is only averaging 51 yards a game and has no touchdowns.  Don't expect for things to get better anytime soon.  Curtis Martin has also not seen the end zone yet, and with the injury to Chad Pennington , things look bleak for the Jets season.  Another back yet to find paydirt is Domanick Davis.  The Texans are having all sorts of trouble scoring this season.  Minnesota's running game is abysmal, thanks in part to coach Tice and his running back by committee.  Michael Bennett, Mewelde Moore and Moe Williams have yet to get on track there. The jury is still out of several backs, including the likes of Mike Anderson, LaMont Jordan, Stephen Jackson ,and Ronnie Brown, who now may share time with Ricky Williams in Miami.

Wide Receivers:  No one is lighting it up this season like Terrell Owens.  Despite the dispute at the beginning of the season with Donovan McNabb, the duo have lit up opposing secondaries for 506 yards and four scores.  I predict TO will have huge final stats, like 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns.  Another NFC East wideout is having a great start, and that's Plaxico Burress.  He has quickly become the go to guy for Eli Manning.  Everyone expected Randy Moss to have stellar stats this year, and so far, he has not disappointed fantasy owners.  Torry Holt is also having another fine season, as Mark Bulger's "big play" man.  Steve Smith is Jake Delhomme's favorite target, and a big reason my fantasy teams is 4-0.  Look for Smith to bet one of the league's best stories and a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.  The dynamic duo of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are both off to great starts for the struggling Cardinals.  Look for them to help turn around their slow start. I was one who expected a break out year for Ashley Lelie , but so far it has not happened.  Drew Bennett is also not clicking well with Steve McNair.  I am sure he is hoping for the return of Billy Volek as the Titans starting QB.  Maybe Bennett will hire Tonya Harding to whack Air McNair with a pipe soon.  Joe Horn has been nagged with injuries so far this year.  And let's not forget the season ending injury to Javon Walker.  Michael Clayton has been suffering from the sophomore slump, as has Nate Burleson.  Guys whose seasons are still muddled are Eric Moulds and Lee Evans in Buffalo, who could benefit from the change in quarterbacks this week.  Also, Brandon Lloyd has been a yo-yo this season, very up and down from week to week.

So, with four weeks under our belt, the NFL has once again shown us it is anything but predictable.  I hope your draft picks are panning out so far.  Only time will tell!  We'll check back in another four weeks for the Second Quarter of the season.

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