by Jeff West
September 10, 2003
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"Heading North" Ė Players whose fantasy value is rising

    All the talk in the off-season focused on Priest Holmes.  Was his career over?  Should he even be drafted?  Will he get a new contract?  He answered a lot of questions in the pre-season, but on opening day he showed off with more than 180 total yards and two TDs.  Many owners let him slide in the draft and are kicking themselves now as they watched LaDanian Tomlinson run for 34 yards.  Fortunately I passed on Priest in favor of Portis, so Iím still feeling good.

    The Tennesee Titans displayed an impressive array of receivers in their win over the Raiders.  Derrick Mason still is the go-to guy, but he will be helped by the likes of McCareins, Calico, Bennett, Schifino, Wycheck, and Kinney.  Steve McNair will be the obvious recipient of the fantasy benefits with so many viable targets.  Eddie George may also reap the rewards if the defenses have to pay more attention to the Titan passing game.

    Alge Crumpler is making a statement that he deserves to be among the top tier of tight ends.  With Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe slipping from those ranks, there may be room for one more along with Shockey and Heap.  Doug Johnson seems to be able to find Crumpler in positions that allow him to use his athleticism to make plays.  By the time Vick comes back, Alge should be fully integrated into the game plans.

    Despite all the Kevan Barlow hype in the offseason, it seems that Garrison Hearst has no plans to hand over the reins just yet.  He is still the better receiver and blocker, two reasons he is on the field so often, and there is no indication that he cannot continue to run the ball effectively.

    Keep an eye on the Buffalo Bills defense.  Donít count on a shutout every week, but there are a lot of good playmakers at every level of the defense.  You should count on quite a few turnovers, a fair amount of sacks, and a score once in a while.

"Going South" Ė Players whose fantasy value is slipping

    Brett Favre had a terrible opening day and lost three of his receivers to injury.  The person who this will hurt most is Ahman Green.  He has already exhibited his sweaty fumbilitis, but now he will be expected to carry even more of the load.  With upcoming games against Detroit, Arizona, and Chicago, the Packers will look to run-run-run the ball.  Donít be surprised if all this work leads to another Ahman injury.

    With all the expectations and hype surrounding Kurt Warner, it was justified to think he would last more than one game.  Six fumbles, one interception, and one concussion later, he finds himself on the bench.  Unless Bulger is horrible, donít expect to see Warner back on the field.

    Curtis Martin looks a bit older this season and seems to be running through the sand from the hourglass that is his career.  He averaged just three yards a carry and had his TD vultured by LaMont Jordan who had six carries for zero yards.  Martin also faces a very tough schedule in the coming weeks.

"East-West" Ė Players whose fantasy value is still undetermined

    There was a lot of hope that Jake Plummer would become a legitimate number one fantasy QB after changing uniforms.  His team won handily over the Bengals, but Plummer completed only twelve passes while tossing three interceptions.  Iíve already seen Jake waived in one of my leagues, but it is still much too early to tell if he can be productive under Shanahan or not.

    The hottest player on the waiver wire this week has to be Anquan Boldin of the Cardinals.  Despite all the rookie hype of Charles Rogers, who caught two TDs along with his 38 yards, it was Boldin who stole the show.  He also had two TDs, but that was amongst his ten catches for 217 yards.  Boldin should be a nice receiver for the team, but remember that the team is the Cardinals, so his fantasy value takes a bit of a hit right there.

    The Houston Texans offense played a very good game against the tough Miami defense.  David Carr was efficient, with one TD, no interceptions, and no sacks taken.  Stacey Mack ran the ball effectively and kept the clock running.  Corey Bradford, Andre Johnson, and Jabar Gaffney each had more than 70 yards in receptions.  The Texans bear some watching to see if they can keep it up, although a tough schedule does not play to their favor.

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