by Jim O'Dell
October 11, 2006
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    Well, the NFL season is now five weeks old, and there sure have been some interesting things happen so far.  Several rookies came into the NFL this year with a chance to make an immediate impact.  Several veterans were coming off serious injury and had something to prove.  A few stars even changed teams in the offseason.  Now, let's take a look back at the "first quarter" of the NFL season from a fantasy standpoint.

QuarterbacksDonovan McNabb is right now the leading candidate for fantasy MVP.  He is having a career year, coming off a poor season and an injury, plus losing his best receiver.  He's shrugged it all off and has carried the Eagles and many fantasy teams to the top of the standings.  Right on his heels is Peyton Manning, no surprise there.  He has the Colts undefeated and is atop the stat leader-board too.  Carson Palmer, fresh off his bye week, looks to turn the corner and hopefully cut down his interceptions and get back in the groove.  Rex Grossman is also having a fine start to his season and has the Bears 5-0.  Look out '72 Dolphins.

I thought for sure Daunte Culpepper would rebound this year, getting a fresh start in Miami.  Not so.  Kurt Warner is having trouble in Arizona and was replaced this week by rookie Matt Leinart.  Kerry Collins looked horrible and was replaced by Vince Young in Tennessee.  Aaron Brooks is another guy who was awful and got hurt, and replaced.  Drew Bledsoe has not looked all that impressive in big D, and people are calling for Tony Romo.  And let's not forget Chris Simms.

A few young guys who I really like are Charlie Frye in Cleveland, Alex Smith in San Francisco, and Leinart in Arizona.  Look for them to have decent but not spectacular numbers.

Running BacksCan you tell me, without cheating, who leads the NFL in rushing yardage?  If you said Frank Gore, nice call.  I loved this guy from day one, even if he is a University of Miami grad.  If he stays healthy, look for Gore to have a break out season.  Stephen Jackson is taking advantage of no Marshall Faulk and less passing and is having a fine start of the year.  Reggie who?  Deuce McAllister is running just fine in the Big Easy, his knee showing no ill effects.  Julius Jones is also having a nice beginning to 2006.  Rudi Johnson has four scores already and has had his bye week to boot.  Look for him to top the rushing chart by season's end.

Last year's rushing champ Shaun Alexander is another story.  He's got a cracked bone in his foot and may not run again this year.  Cadillac Williams, until yesterday, was invisible as well.  Edgerrin James changed uniforms and no longer has the luxury of playing with the game's best offense, and his numbers prove it.

A few young guys have impressed me so far after five weeks.  Patriot's rookie Lawrence Maroney looks to be the future in New England.  Reggie Bush can do it all, and scored his first touchdown this week on a punt return.  Joseph Addai is coming along slowly in Indy, but look out next year.

Wide Receivers:  What can you say about Marvin Harrison that hasn't already been said?  The guy is just great.  It helps to have Peyton Manning as your QB, but the guys just keeps doing it year in and year out.  Laveranues Coles is happy to have Chad Pennington back for the Jets.  He's second overall in receiving yardage.  Andre Johnson sure has loved having Eric Moulds line up on the opposite side of the field in Houston.  Who is Bernard Berrian?  Only Rex Grossman's deep threat.  If he's still on your leagues waiver wire, quit reading this article now and go get him.  Greg Jennings is the best rookie wideout so far this year, giving Brett Favre a nice new target.

Injuries and poor play have hampered several big names so far this season. Steve Smith missed the Panther's first three games but is coming on now.  Randy Moss has pretty much given up on the Raiders season and will not put forth an effort this year.  Chris Chambers needs someone to get him the ball in Miami.

Guys who will come on in the next quarter are Plaxico Burress in New York, Javon Walker in Denver and Anquan Boldin in Arizona.  Remember all the guys who wrote Reggie Williams off?  Looks like he's getting the last laugh.

    So, with the season five weeks old, there have been a few surprises, both good and bad.  One thing I have been impressed with are some team defenses, most noteably Chicago, Denver, Baltimore, and New Orleans.  How's your team looking?  Hopefully, better than mine!  Anyways, we'll see you in four weeks for the next installment, the "Second Quarter" of the season.

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