by Jeff West
October 22, 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 moved Ben Roethlisberger from my watch list (East-West) to my grab list (Heading North).  He did not disappoint.  Roethlisberger plays like a veteran.  He is poised, reads defenses well enough, and throws a nice ball.  He is 4-0 as a starter now and won't lose his job when Tommy Maddox is healthy again.  Deuce McAllister finally did what I've been asking him to do for a couple years now:  score.  In fact, he did it twice in a shoot-out against the Vikes.  Justin McCareins got a chance to be the headliner with Santana Moss sitting out on Sunday.  McCareins did little to inspire any confidence in his owners as he caught a disappointing three passes for 56 yards.

    Last week I felt that Domanick Davis deserved a ride on the pine, and he did, responding with only 25 yards on ten carries and no receptions.  Jon Wells has been carrying the team to wins the past couple weeks and deserves to continue to start after the bye week.  I expected Eric Moulds to have an off day against a tough Miami secondary.  They kept him off the scoreboard and held him to 99 yards on five catches, not enough for a #1 WR.

    A week after I told you to keep an eye on Derick Armstrong, as he appeared to supplant Jabar Gaffney as the #2 WR behind Andre Johnson, Gaffney seized the reins and had the better day.  Whichever receiver emerges as the #2 guy should be a solid receiver as Andre Johnson will continue to get the bulk of the attention.  Finally, I went out on a limb and predicted that Brian Griese could do well against the Rams, but to temper any enthusiasm for the long-term.  Griese looked very comfortable and had decent stats at the end of the game.  Tampa has some favorable match-ups over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on him and don't be afraid to start him if you're desperate.  We've all seen that he can put up big numbers in this type of offense.

Heading North

    I'm convinced.  Brian Griese is throwing the ball well enough and making the correct decisions and now deserves a position as a backup and spot starter on your FF team.  Griese has completed 73% of his passes in two games, has a QB rating of 106, and has thrown three TD passes and only one INT.  Further, he has upcoming games against the likes of the Bears, Chiefs, Falcons, Niners, Panthers, Chargers, Saints, and Cardinals.  Of those teams, only the Panthers have been decent against the pass.

    There was a little more fanfare on the trading deadline than usual this year.  One of the bigger names to move was Keenan McCardell being traded to San Diego.  McCardell has kept himself in shape and San Diego does have a two-week roster exemption before they have to officially allocate a spot to McCardell.  I anticipate that he will not play this weekend, but will be in the starting lineup against the Raiders in week eight.  With defenses keying on LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, McCardell could have an opportunity to put up nice numbers.

    Two seasons ago, Donald Driver burst onto the scene and put up great numbers for fantasy owners who grabbed him off the waiver wire, because no one in their right mind drafted him.  Last season owners expected him to exceed even his 2002 numbers, but he suffered a neck injury early in the season and then struggled to produce the rest of the way.  Now he's finally in a role where he's comfortable.  He's the #2 WR behind Javon Walker, yet he still gets plenty of opportunities.  He's tied for second in the NFL in pass targets (63) and has 11 more than Walker on the season.  The Packers will have Terence Newman covering Walker most of the time, leaving Driver to deal with rookie DBs.  Look for a big game.

Going South

    Chad Johnson tried to take the focus off his poor numbers thus far by sending Pepto Bismol to the Browns' secondary last week.  Instead, the focus was squarely back on CJ again after a disappointing effort in a loss.  Now he gets to lock horns with Champ Bailey and John Lynch of the Broncos.  It won't get any easier after that with a number of tough teams on the remaining schedule.  The fact is, Johnson is still a fantastic receiver, but consistent success is not in the cards this season.

    Yes, I know, he rushed for more than 100 yards last week, which is quite an accomplishment as an NFL RB, but don't expect to see those types of numbers again from William Green anytime soon.  He was fortunate enough to get off to a good start against a terrible Bengal defense and Coach Davis found a way to keep Lee Suggs involved by getting him going in the passing game.  But with four tough contests on the docket (Eagles, Ravens, Steelers, and Jets), the Browns are more likely to use Lee Suggs because of his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

    It's time to give up any hope for Jerry Porter to have the type of season everyone expected.  When Gannon went down and Collins entered the lineup, many thought Porter would finally get the chance to showcase his abilities as a deep threat, yet he's come up as small as the QB in the past couple games.  Former UNC basketball star, Ron Curry, has been getting most of the (limited) glory at wideout instead of Porter.  With Collins playing terribly and the sniping already starting, it might be a good idea to see if he still has any trade value.

East-West

    It looks like the immensely talented Antonio Bryant will finally get a chance to start with the trade to Cleveland.  Bryant got himself into Parcells' doghouse and was playing behind teacher's pets Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson.  Butch Davis is a lot more tolerant of wayward personalities (see William Green) and the Browns need another weapon with Kellen Winslow out for the season.  Keep an eye on Bryant as this move could pay off.

    Najeh Davenport, best known for his exploits in a dorm closet, got ten carries and made 62 yards out of them, including a TD run.  Davenport is nearing full recovery from a hamstring injury and has returned to the #2 role behind Ahman Green.  With Green failing to score since week one, and failing to break 100 yards since week two, and sitting out of practice with a sore Achilles, it might be a great time to grab Najeh if you own Ahman, or keep an eye on him if you don't.

Misdirection

    Daunte Culpepper was generally the first QB selected in FF drafts.  Peyton Manning may have gotten the call ahead of him, but rarely.  Now it looks like Culpepper should have been the first player selected overall.  He is consistently putting up huge numbers and is single-handedly carrying many an otherwise average FF team to the top of the standings.  If your FF QB manages to throw four TDs in a game once in a season, you're probably pretty happy with that.  Daunte Culpepper has thrown five TDs in a game three times now, in only five games!  Randy Moss is questionable for week seven with a sore hammy, but Culpepper owners don't seem to be worried at all.  Week nine features a rare showdown between Culpepper's Vikes and Peyton Manning's Colts on Monday Night Football that is already being talked up by Madden and Michaels.  Culpepper's exploits have gone beyond the magnificent to the downright ridiculous.

    For the past couple weeks I've been reading the weekly columns by Sports Illustrated's Peter King.  It seems he has developed an unhealthy obsession with Terrell Owens.  An unhealthy obsession with trying to discredit Owens, that is.  King has interviewed TO a couple times, including one for HBO's Inside the NFL.  King is making every attempt to stir up a controversy where none exists.  Living in the Philadelphia area, I can tell you that Terrell Owens has been a model citizen.  He has been fantastic with the fans and the local media, giving up copious amounts of his personal time to let Eagles' fans have an opportunity to get to know the real TO, who, by all accounts, is just a regular guy off the field.  King is going out of his way to get Owens to say that he didn't want to go to Baltimore because Kyle Boller is the QB there.  Owens hasn't taken the bait, merely saying that he wanted all along to play with Donovan McNabb.  King published one of his readers' emails in his column in which the reader lambasted Owens for not being a team guy (none of the Eagles players or coaches can say a bad thing about the guy) and not understanding personal sacrifice (Owens was a second stringer all through high school and has worked as hard as anyone to get where he is now).  King affirmed everything the reader said.  The best thing that happened was that Owens said he doubted he would do any more interviews with Peter King.  Thank heavens.

    Finally, I read that former Cardinal offensive tackle, Luis Sharpe, charged with a felony possession of narcotics.  He agreed to a plea bargain that will land him in jail for a minimum of two and a half years.  In response, the NFL imposed a lifetime ban on Sharpe, 43, who has not played in the past ten years.  It's just a tad ironic that the NFL would be so swift to act here, when Jamal Lewis received a two-game suspension for his role in brokering a drug deal.

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