Start & SitOctober 26, 2006

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Week 8

By Nick Hopkins

Many fantasy owners will breathe a sigh of relief this week after enduring two consecutive weeks in which six teams were on a bye. With any luck, Week 8 should be slightly more manageable as only four teams (Miami, Detroit, Washington, and Buffalo) are off, and none of these teams have proven to be offensive powerhouses. Even so, as we approach the midway point of the season, every game will be critical. Once again, the Cafe has compiled a collection of rankings to make your lineup decisions a bit easier.

Our revised system is based on two separate rankings: Risk and Reward. Each player or defense was given a statistical ranking for each of the two categories.

Risk is determined by anything that could negatively affect the player in question’s performance. This includes such things as matchup, situation, and injuries.

Reward is determined by anything that could positively affect the player in question’s performance. This includes such things as talent, matchup, and situation.

The Ranking for the two categories is as follows:

Risk: Score of 0 being the lowest risk, 10 being the highest risk.
Reward: Score of 0 being lowest reward, 10 being the highest reward.


Rex Grossman – CHIvs SF13.73.77.3
Donovan McNabb – PHIvs JAC13.74.38.0
Peyton Manning – INDat DEN13.74.78.3
Jake Delhomme – CARvs DAL13.04.37.3
Carson Palmer – CINvs ATL13.04.37.3
David Carr – HOUat TEN13.04.37.3
Chad Pennington – NYJat CLE12.74.06.7
Philip Rivers – SDvs STL12.74.37.0
Marc Bulger – STLat SD12.75.07.7
Eli Manning – NYGvs TB12.74.77.3
Brett Favre – GBvs ARI12.34.77.0
Michael Vick – ATLat CIN12.05.07.0
Tom Brady – NEat MIN12.05.07.0
Matt Leinart – ARIat GB11.75.06.7
Drew Brees – NOvs BAL11.35.36.7
Vince Young – TENvs HOU11.35.06.3
Charlie Batch – PITat OAK11.05.36.3
Charlie Frye – CLEvs NYJ10.75.05.7
Damon Huard – KCvs SEA10.35.35.7
Brad Johnson – MINvs NE10.05.05.0
Jake Plummer – DENvs IND9.75.35.0
Byron Leftwich – JACat PHI9.76.36.0
Steve McNair – BALat NO9.06.05.0
Ben Roethlisberger – PITat OAK9.07.06.0
Bruce Gradkowski – TBat NYG8.06.74.7
Tony Romo – DALat CAR7.08.05.0
Kyle Boller – BALat DEN6.08.34.3
Seneca Wallace – SEAat CAR5.77.73.3
Andrew Walter – OAKvs PIT5.78.03.7
Alex Smith – SFat CHI5.78.03.7
Drew Bledsoe – DALat CAR3.39.02.3
Matt Hasselbeck – SEAat KC0.79.70.3
Joey Harrington – MIAvs SEA0.00.00.0
JP Losman – BUFBYE0.00.00.0
Jon Kitna – DETBYE0.00.00.0
Daunte Culpepper – MIABYE0.00.00.0
Mark Brunell – WASBYE0.00.00.0

David Carr, HOU (13.0 rating): Carr is finally proving to the NFL that he was deserving of that number one overall pick back in 2002. Carr’s 97.9 QB Rating and 9/4 TD/INT ratio are reasons for confidence, and he is coming off of a two touchdown perfomance in an impressive win over the Jaguars and their once-vaunted defense. Carr should make for a solid start again this week against the Titans.

Drew Brees, NO (11.3 rating): Drew Brees has done an admirable job thus far in New Orleans, but he makes a shaky start against the Ravens. Baltimore’s defense may have given up a couple scores to Jake Delhomme and the Panthers before their bye week, but I would not count on it happening again. With a week to stew on that loss, the Ravens defense should come out firing against Brees.

Running BacksOpponentRatingRiskReward
LaDainian Tomlinson – SDvs STL15.73.08.7
Willie Parker – PITat OAK14.73.38.0
Thomas Jones – CHIvs SF13.73.77.3
Warrick Dunn – ATLat CIN13.04.07.0
Tiki Barber – NYGvs TB13.04.77.7
Larry Johnson – KCvs SEA12.75.38.0
Tatum Bell – DENvs IND12.35.07.3
Chester Taylor – MINvs NE12.35.07.3
Ahman Green – GBvs ARI12.05.07.0
Brian Westbrook – PHIvs JAC12.05.77.7
Rudi Johnson – CINvs ATL11.75.37.0
Travis Henry – TENvs HOU11.35.36.7
Reuben Droughns – CLEvs NYJ11.35.06.3
Cadillac Williams – TBat NYG10.75.36.0
Julius Jones – DALat CAR10.76.06.7
Steven Jackson – STLat SD10.75.76.3
DeShaun Foster – CARvs DAL10.35.35.7
Fred Taylor – JACat PHI10.35.35.7
Wali Lundy – HOUat TEN10.35.05.3
Jamal Lewis – BALat NO10.05.35.3
Corey Dillon – NEat MIN9.76.05.7
Maurice Jones-Drew – JACat PHI9.75.75.3
Edgerrin James – ARIat GB9.36.35.7
Leon Washington – NYJat CLE9.36.05.3
Cedric Benson – CHIvs SF9.05.74.7
Joseph Addai – INDat DEN9.06.05.0
Deuce McAllister – NOvs BAL8.76.75.3
Dominic Rhodes – INDat DEN8.36.34.7
Kevan Barlow – NYJat CLE8.36.34.7
Laurence Maroney – NEat MIN8.36.75.0
Brandon Jacobs – NYGvs TB8.06.34.3
Maurice Morris – SEAat KC8.06.74.7
Michael Turner – SDvs STL7.36.33.7
Reggie Bush – NOvs BAL7.37.34.7
Jerious Norwood – ATLat CIN7.06.73.7
Najeh Davenport – PITat ATL7.06.73.7
Marion Barber – DALat CAR7.07.34.3
LaMont Jordan – OAKvs PIT6.77.34.0
Samkon Gado – HOUat TEN6.76.73.3
Frank Gore – SFat CHI6.78.35.0
Musa Smith – BALat NO6.07.73.7
Mike Anderson – BALat NO5.77.33.0
Chris Perry – CINvs ATL5.77.33.0
Lendale White – TENvs HOU5.77.33.0
Noah Herron – GBvs ARI5.77.02.7
Vernand Morency – GBvs ARI5.37.73.0
Correll Buckhalter – PHIvs JAC5.07.72.7
Ron Dayne – HOUat TEN5.08.03.0
DeAngelo Williams – CARvs DAL4.78.02.7
Chris Brown – TENvs HOU4.38.02.3
Jerome Harrison – CLEvs NYJ4.37.72.0
Cedric Houston – NYJat CLE4.08.32.3
Mike Bell – DENvs IND3.78.32.0
Justin Fargas – OAKvs PIT3.78.32.0
Michael Robinson – SFat CHI1.79.31.0
Willis McGahee – BUFBYE0.00.00.0
Kevin Jones – DETBYE0.00.00.0
Ronnie Brown – MIABYE0.00.00.0
Clinton Portis – WASBYE0.00.00.0
Ladell Betts – WASBYE0.00.00.0

Tatum Bell, DEN (12.3 rating): Bell seems to have finally emerged as the feature back in Denver, and that should mean good things for his numbers the rest of the season, especially considering Denver’s reliance on the run game so far. The Colts’ weak run defense has been exposed many times already this season. Denver’s offensive line should have little trouble pushing them around.

Frank Gore, SF (6.7 rating): Gore has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners this season, many of which were looking forward to returning him to their lineups after his bye week. Unfortunately, this week Gore and the 49ers draw a matchup against a Chicago team that has given up the 3rd fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL, and only one rushing touchdown. Couple this with Gore’s inability to find the endzone in the past four games, and it may be wise to leave him on your bench at least one more week.

Wide ReceiversOpponentRatingRiskReward
Steve Smith – CARvs DAL14.33.78.0
Anquan Boldin – ARIat GB14.03.77.7
Torry Holt – STLat SD14.04.08.0
Terrell Owens – DALat CAR13.34.37.7
Andre Johnson – HOUat TEN13.34.07.3
Hines Ward – PITat OAK13.34.07.3
Chad Johnson – CINvs ATL13.04.07.0
TJ Houshmandzadeh – CINvs ATL13.04.37.3
Muhsin Muhammad – CHIvs SF12.74.06.7
Bernard Berrian – CHIvs SF12.74.06.7
Plaxico Burress – NYGvs TB12.34.36.7
Marvin Harrison – INDat DEN12.34.77.0
Keyshawn Johnson – CARvs DAL11.74.36.0
Laveranues Coles – NYJat CLE11.75.06.7
Braylon Edwards – CLEvs NYJ11.74.76.3
Donald Driver – GBvs ARI11.35.36.7
Terry Glenn – DALat CAR11.35.06.3
Javon Walker – DENvs IND11.35.06.3
Drew Bennett – TENvs HOU11.04.75.7
Reggie Wayne – INDat DEN11.05.06.0
Reggie Williams – JACat PHI10.75.36.0
Marques Colston – NOvs BAL10.35.76.0
Amani Toomer – NYGvs TB10.35.76.0
Eddie Kennison – KCvs SEA10.05.35.3
Joe Horn – NOvs BAL10.05.35.3
Reggie Brown – PHIvs JAC10.05.75.7
Bryant Johnson – ARIat GB10.06.06.0
Greg Jennings – GBvs ARI10.06.06.0
Isaac Bruce – STLat SD9.76.05.7
Darrell Jackson – SEAat KC9.76.36.0
Deion Branch – SEAat KC9.36.35.7
Joey Galloway – TBat NYG9.36.35.7
Joe Jurevicius – CLEvs NYJ9.35.75.0
Jerricho Cotchery – NYJat CLE9.35.75.0
Randy Moss – OAKvs PIT9.35.75.0
Eric Moulds – HOUat TEN9.05.74.7
Eric Parker – SDvs STL9.05.74.7
Derrick Mason – BALat NO9.06.05.0
Troy Williamson – MINvs NE9.06.05.0
Nate Washington – PITat OAK8.76.04.7
Michael Jenkins – ATLat CIN8.76.35.0
Rod Smith – DENvs IND8.76.35.0
Marcus Robinson – MINvs NE8.36.34.7
Doug Gabriel – NEat MIN8.36.34.7
Keenan McCardell – SDvs STL8.36.04.3
Chris Henry – CINvs ATL8.06.74.7
Troy Brown – NEat MIN8.06.74.7
Hank Baskett – PHIvs JAC8.06.74.7
Mark Clayton – BALat NO7.76.74.3
Michael Clayton – TBat NYG7.37.34.7
Matt Jones – JACat PHI7.36.74.0
Reche Caldwell – NEat MIN7.36.74.0
Santonio Holmes – PITat OAK7.07.74.7
Ernest Wilford – JACat PHI6.76.73.3
Travis Taylor – MINvs NE6.76.73.3
Samie Parker – KCvs SEA6.77.03.7
Chad Jackson – NEat MIN6.77.03.7
David Givens – TENvs HOU6.07.03.0
Justin McCareins – NYJat CLE5.77.33.0
Roddy White – ATLat CIN5.77.73.3
Nate Burleson – SEAat KC5.77.73.3
Dennis Northcutt – CLEvs NYJ5.37.32.7
Donte’ Stallworth – PHIvs JAC5.08.33.3
Brandon Stokely – INDat DEN4.78.73.3
Antonio Bryant – SFat CHI4.78.02.7
Ashley Lelie – ATLat CIN4.08.02.0
Bobby Engram – SEAat KC4.08.32.3
Larry Fitzgerald – ARIat GB2.79.32.0
Arnaz Battle – SFat CHI2.38.71.0
Lee Evans – BUFBYE0.00.00.0
Josh Reed – BUFBYE0.00.00.0
Roscoe Parrish – BUFBYE0.00.00.0
Roy Williams – DETBYE0.00.00.0
Mike Furrey – DETBYE0.00.00.0
Az-Zahir Hakim – DETBYE0.00.00.0
Chris Chambers – MIABYE0.00.00.0
Marty Booker – MIABYE0.00.00.0
Wes Welker – MIABYE0.00.00.0
Santana Moss – WASBYE0.00.00.0
Antwaan Randle El – WASBYE0.00.00.0
Brandon Lloyd – WASBYE0.00.00.0

Hines Ward, PIT (13.3 rating): Ward had his first big game of the season last week against the Falcons, totaling 171 yards and three touchdowns. He connected on touchdowns from both Roethlisberger and backup QB Charlie Batch; so whether Big Ben returns to the field this week against the Raiders or not, you can still look for a good performance from Ward. The only possible risk involved would be the Steelers getting ahead quickly and getting away from the passing game, but Ward should still have an opportunity to put up some numbers.

Deion Branch, SEA (9.3 rating): Branch officially arrived in Seattle two weeks ago with two touchdowns against the Rams, but with Matt Hasselbeck out this week for Seattle’s game against an underrated Kansas City defense, Branch should not be in your starting lineup. The same worries also apply to WR Darrell Jackson, but he will most likley remain the focus of Seattle’s passing game, and is still startable in most leagues.

Tight EndsOpponentRatingRiskReward
Alge Crumpler – ATLat CIN14.04.08.0
Antonio Gates – SDvs STL13.73.77.3
Tony Gonzalez – KCvs SEA12.74.37.0
Jeremy Shockey – NYGvs TB12.34.77.0
Kellen Winslow – CLEvs NYJ11.74.36.0
Todd Heap – BALat NO11.35.06.3
LJ Smith – PHIvs JAC11.04.75.7
Desmond Clark – CHIvs SF11.05.06.0
Jason Witten – DALat CAR10.75.05.7
Heath Miller – PITat OAK10.75.05.7
Owen Daniels – HOUat TEN9.75.75.3
Dallas Clark – INDat DEN9.36.35.7
Ben Watson – NEat MIN9.35.75.0
Bubba Franks – GBvs ARI9.05.34.3
Jermaine Wiggins – MINvs NE8.76.35.0
Alex Smith – TBat NYG8.36.34.7
Bo Scaife – TENvs HOU8.06.34.3
Kris Mangum – CARvs DAL8.06.74.7
Chris Baker – NYJat CLE7.76.34.0
George Wrighster – JACat PHI7.76.74.3
Daniel Graham – NEat MIN7.37.04.3
Stephen Alexander – DENvs IND7.06.73.7
Ben Troupe – TENvs HOU7.06.73.7
Reggie Kelly – CINvs ATL6.37.03.3
Itula Mili – SEAat KC6.07.33.3
Ben Utecht – INDat DEN5.78.03.7
David Martin – GBvs ARI5.37.32.7
Jeb Putzier – HOUat TEN5.37.32.7
Jeremy Stevens – SEAat KC5.37.73.0
Courtney Anderson – OAKvs ARI5.07.52.5
Anthony Becht – TBat NYG4.38.02.3
John Gilmore – CHIvs SF4.37.72.0
Eric Johnson – SFat CHI4.08.02.0
Adam Bergen – ARIat GB3.38.72.0
Bryan Fletcher – INDat DEN3.08.31.3
Marcus Pollard – DETBYE0.00.00.0
Dan Campbell – DETBYE0.00.00.0
Randy McMichael – MIABYE0.00.00.0
Chris Cooley – WASBYE0.00.00.0
Mike Sellers – WASBYE0.00.00.0

Desmond Clark, CHI (11.0 rating): Desmond Clark has been a suitable fantasy tight end this season, and should have another opportunity to put up some good numbers this week against a soft San Francisco defense.

Dallas Clark, IND (9.3 rating): Dallas Clark has managed three touchdowns playing in the explosive Colts offense, but has yet to record more than 41 yards in any of the Colts’ six games so far. He faces the stingy Denver defense this week, which has still only allowed two touchdowns through the air on the season.

Robbie Gould – CHIvs SF14.32.77.0
Jason Elam – DENvs IND12.34.36.7
Shayne Graham – CINvs ATL12.34.06.3
Nate Kaeding – SDvs STL12.34.06.3
Adam Vinatieri – INDat DEN12.34.77.0
Jeff Reed – PITat OAK12.04.06.0
Jay Feely – NYGvs TB12.04.36.3
Jeff Wilkins – STLat SD12.05.07.0
John Kasay – CARvs DAL11.74.36.0
John Carney – NOvs BAL11.74.36.0
Kris Brown – HOUat TEN11.74.76.3
Mike Nugent – NYJat CLE11.34.05.3
Neil Rackers – ARIat GB11.34.76.0
Dave Rayner – GBvs ARI11.34.76.0
Lawrence Tynes – KCvs SEA11.34.76.0
David Akers – PHIvs JAC11.34.76.0
Josh Brown – SEAat KC11.04.75.7
Rob Bironas – TENvs HOU10.74.35.0
Josh Scobee – JACat PHI10.75.36.0
Matt Stover – BALat NO10.74.75.3
Stephen Gostkowski – NEat MIN10.74.75.3
Ryan Longwell – MINvs NE10.34.75.0
Morten Andersen – ATLat CIN9.75.35.0
Matt Bryant – TBat NYG9.75.35.0
Mike Vanderjagt – DALat CAR9.75.75.3
Phil Dawson – CLEvs NYJ9.35.04.3
Sebastian Janikowski – OAKvs PIT7.36.33.7
Joe Nedney – SFat CHI6.07.33.3
Michael Koenen – ATLat CIN2.79.01.7
Rian Lindell – BUFBYE0.00.00.0
Jason Hanson – DETBYE0.00.00.0
Olindo Mare – MIABYE0.00.00.0
Nick Novak – WASBYE0.00.00.0

Nate Kaeding, SD (12.3 rating): With the defense banged up, the Chargers are going to rely more on their offense to get the job done against St. Louis. This should be a high scoring game, and that almost always benefits the kickers.

Mike Vanderjagt, DAL (9.7 rating): Vanderjagt has been less than stellar this season, and with a quarterback change for a game against the Panthers in Carolina, I would not expect his opportunities to improve.

Team DefenseOpponentRatingRiskReward
Chicagovs SF15.73.08.7
Pittsburghat OAK14.73.38.0
Carolinavs DAL13.04.07.0
Baltimoreat NO12.34.36.7
New York Giantsvs TB12.34.06.3
Kansas Cityvs SEA12.05.07.0
Indianapolisat DEN11.75.06.7
New Orleansvs BAL11.34.76.0
Philadelphiavs JAC11.04.75.7
New Englandat MIN11.05.06.0
New York Jetsat CLE10.74.35.0
Arizonaat GB10.75.36.0
Houstonat TEN10.35.35.7
Minnesotavs NE10.35.35.7
San Diegovs STL10.35.35.7
Seattleat KC10.35.05.3
Cincinnativs ATL10.05.35.3
Green Bayvs ARI10.05.35.3
St. Louisat SD9.75.75.3
Dallasat CAR9.35.34.7
Atlantaat CIN9.35.75.0
Jacksonvilleat PHI9.06.05.0
Tennesseevs HOU8.76.04.7
Denvervs IND8.76.35.0
Clevelandvs NYJ8.36.04.3
Tampa Bayat NYG8.36.75.0
Oaklandvs PIT6.37.03.3
San Franciscoat CHI5.07.32.3

New Orleans (11.3 rating): The Saints defense could be a sneaky play this week against a Ravens offense that has struggled all season. I don’t see the firing of offensive coordinator Jim Fassel as being the cure for what ails them, and they will either be starting a banged up Steve McNair or turnover prone Kyle Boller at quarterback. If the Saints are sitting on your league’s waiver wire and you need a defense, give them a look.

San Diego (10.3 rating): The Chargers will be without sack-leader Shaun Phillips and defensive lineman Igor Olshansky in their front four, as standout linebacker Shawne Merriman appeals a four game suspension for steroid use. They have to face a Rams offense that has averaged over 30 points a game in their last three. Leave them on the bench if you can.

Special thanks to dream_017, Kilroy1872, knapplc, NittanyLions, logan, mattb47 and SwiperNoSwiping for their rankings and involvement this week.
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