by Jeff West
October 17, 2004
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    This weekly article will discuss those players "Heading North" (fantasy value is rising), "Going South" (fantasy value is falling), or "East-West" (fantasy value is still undetermined, but worth watching)...

    Last week I said that I expected Andre Johnson to build upon a 115 yard-one TD performance in week four.  He did exactly that with 170 yards and two TDs against the Vikes.  Carr to Johnson could be quite a connection for some time to come.  I also recommended starting David Givens.  The Dolphins limited Tom Brady to 76 passing yards on seven completions, but he connected with Givens four times and included a TD amongst those passes to offset a poor yardage total.  Finally, Roy Williams only managed to catch three passes before leaving the game in the third quarter with an ankle sprain.  He was heavily covered while he was playing as he was the only real threat on the Detroit offense in week five.

    Of the players I told you to avoid, Leonard Henry was at the top of the list.  He only got to touch the ball five times and translated that into a pathetic 10 yards.  Newly acquired RB Brock Forsey got 13 carries despite having less than a week to learn the plays.  Jake Delhomme had a completely mediocre day in a loss to the Bucs.  He only managed 173 passing yards and a single TD, however he did not turn the ball over.  Joe Horn finished the day with four receptions for only 40 yards, but he was able to make it into the endzone once to save his owners from being thoroughly disappointed.

    In week five, I recommended keeping an eye on the Vikes RB situation.  As expected, Mewelde Moore got the start and answered with 182 yards of total offense.  Look for Moore to continue to get the carries in week six, although Moe Williams could cut into the workload slightly.  Another new starter, Chris Simms, had a less exciting day.  He played well until he was knocked out of the game at the end of the first quarter.  It is clear that Simms will be the QB of the future for the Bucs, however it will be Griese leading the Bucs in week six.

Heading North

    He's not putting up big numbers, but he's been effective, and, after all, he is still learning how to play the game on the professional level.  Ben Roethlisberger is 3-0 in his three starts and is beginning to develop a rapport with his offensive players.  He is big and mobile and has a live arm.  These three traits will serve him well as he begins to learn how to run an NFL offense and read NFL defenses.  He's looking like the real thing, so grab him now for your keeper leagues.

    I've never been a big fan of Deuce McAllister.  I think he gets nice yardage totals for his owners, but he's not a closer.  He doesn't score often enough to be considered amongst the elite backs (where many believe he belongs).  I do like his chances over the coming month or so.  He faces a Minnesota defense in week six that allows opposing offenses to run rampant.

    When Justin McCariens came to the Jets from Tennessee in the off-season, there was a belief that he would immediately step into the lineup and possibly even supplant Santana Moss as the top FF producer.  Well, it hasn't happened.  In fact, none of the Jets receivers has done much to excite owners.  Moss is questionable for the week six game against the woeful Niners, so this could be J-Mac's chance to shine for the Jets.

Going South

    Domanick Davis started the 2004 season well, putting up 165 yards rushing and 165 yards receiving (along with two scores) in weeks one and two.  Since then, he has been a shell of his former self, due in large part to a sprained ankle.  He says he was healthy in week five, but was held to 31 yards rushing and 31 yards receiving.  In week six he faces a Titan defense that held Ahman Green in check on Monday night.  They should limit the Houston running game this weekend, forcing David Carr to go to the air instead.  Davis then gets a much-needed bye before tackling two more tough defenses in Jacksonville and Denver.

    Eric Moulds has put together a nice first quarter of a season.  In four games, he has three scores, a 100-yard game, and is getting about 75 receiving yards a game (which puts him in the same company as Randy Moss).  But this week he faces a Miami defense that limited him to five catches for 50 yards and no scores in 2003.  The Miami secondary has been playing far better than the rest of the team and should blanket Moulds all day.

East-West

    David Carr has emerged as a solid FF QB.  Anyone who saw him throw the ball against the Vikes last week will attest to that.  Andre Johnson is developing into a monster receiver.  But quietly, Derick Armstrong has climbed into the #2 WR position on the Texans.  Armstrong is a big (6'2") strong receiver who notched his first NFL 100-yard receiving game last week.  Look for Carr to continue to look his way as he develops confidence in him.  He's probably still available in most leagues, but is worthy of your attention at the very least.

    Yes, he had only three incompletions amongst his 19 passes.  Yes, he kept the ball out of the opponents' hands.  Yes, he had a gaudy 10.2 yards per pass attempt as he led the Bucs to their first win of the year.  Yes, it is far too early to get excited about Brian Griese as a FF QB.  He will start in week six against the Rams and should have plenty of opportunities to throw the ball.  If you're in a real bind and need someone for one week only, you could do much worse.  But it remains to be seen if Griese can recapture some of the success he enjoyed early on in Denver.

Misdirection

    The Tennessee Titans have some surprisingly consistent play-calling.  For example, Derrick Mason and Drew Bennett are the number one and two receivers, respectively, on the team.  In each of the first three weeks, each one was the target of the same number of passes (4, 12, and 8).  In week four when the Titans opened up the passing playbook, Bennett was targeted 16 times to Mason's 14 times, and in week five in a rout of the Packers, Bennett was targeted 8 times to Mason's 6 times.  Offensive Coordinator Mike Heimerdinger keeps both of his starting wideouts equally involved in the game and keeps the defenses honest by preventing them from double-covering one or the other more often.

    The Rams have a high-powered offense featuring such weapons as Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, and the resurgent Isaac Bruce.  In the last two weeks, however, that trio has failed to score a TD despite two Ram wins.  The rushing TDs went to Steven Jackson, Marc Bulger, and Joey Goodspeed while the TD receptions belonged to Shaun McDonald (twice), Kevin Curtis, and Brandon Manumaleuna.  If you own Faulk, Holt, or Bruce, you have every right to be frustrated.

    Here's my short list of coaches who will not return for the 2005 season.  Butch Davis, Mike Sherman, Dave Wannstedt, Jim Haslett, Herm Edwards, and Dennis Erickson.  There are a few no-brainers (Wannstedt and Haslett) and some surprises (Edwards and Sherman) on the list.  Edwards has his team out to a 4-0 start, but the schedule will get harder and the Jets will probably fail to make the playoffs.  Mike Sherman should know that anything less than a playoff appearance is not enough, and the Pack will not make the playoffs this year.

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