MATCHUP OF THEWEEK
No team hassacked or intercepted the Patriots quarterback more in his career than theBills--yet no team has allowed more passing yards or TDs to him. Who will comeout on top in Week 7?
The Super BowlXXXVI champion Pats got Buffaloed in the 2003 opener, but they've since won sixstraight against their AFC East rivals, including a 19--17 squeaker in Week 1.In those six games Brady has averaged 237.6 passing yards and a little morethan two TDs. In '02 Brady threw for 328 yards and three TDs against the Bears,then under current Bills coach Dick Jauron.
AND THE BILLS' DEFENSE
Before a Week 5pasting in Chicago, Buffalo's defense had been fairly respectable, especiallygiven how much time the unit spent on the field. The Bills had held opponentsto an average of 16.3 points and a little more than one TD pass (with oneinterception) per game. In his last two meetings with Brady, Fletcher-Baker has24 tackles, an interception and a fumble return for a touchdown.
In Week 1 the Bills got three sacks and one pick. Brady eked out 163 passingyards but boosted his fantasy numbers with two TD throws. No New Englandwideout had more than two catches that day, but Troy Brown and Doug Gabrielsince have emerged as downfield threats. Bet on Brady; bench the Bills.
THE INSIDE MAN
With a feebleline, and the coach and his top back butting heads, Arizona's running game isgrounded
CARDINALS RUNNINGback Edgerrin James spoke for many fantasy owners when he publicly griped abouthis team's strategy after a 23--20 loss to the Chiefs in Week 5. Jamescriticized his coaches for not calling more running plays in the second half,when Arizona led by 10 points. The Cardinals kept throwing, the clock keptstopping, and the Chiefs came back.
Comments likethat don't bode well for those owners hoping for improved production from Jamesin the coming weeks. Coach Dennis Green doesn't trust Arizona's running game,and he has openly blasted his offensive linemen on several radio shows. Greenhas already changed his starting line three times--mostly because of injuriesdating back to training camp--and James has paid the price for that lack ofcontinuity. Through five games James had just 343 rushing yards and twotouchdowns.
Second-year wide receiver Troy Williamson was the obvious go-to option for theVikings this season, considering that he was Minnesota's first-round pick inthe 2005 draft and that the team lost wideout Nate Burleson to free agency inthe offseason. But Williamson, who caught 24 passes for 372 yards and two TDsas a rookie, has yet to live up to expectations. His hands are his biggestproblem right now; he has dropped six passes in his first five games. With just18 catches for 256 yards and no TDs, Williamson has given little indicationthat he'll become more consistent anytime soon. So if you're waiting for him tobreak out, it may be a long vigil.
I THINK ...
... you shouldjump on the young running back bandwagon
Look at all theyoung turks on the rushing yardage leader board: Steven Jackson, Frank Gore,Julius Jones, Tatum Bell, Chester Taylor. It's a weird year when, near thehalfway mark of the season, a guy like Gore is a few long runs ahead of RudiJohnson, Clinton Portis and--sakes alive!--Larry Johnson.
These youthfulguys aren't flukes, either. When coaches get into Week 6, they're not thinking,"Well, I had Corey Dillon figured for 300 carries back in August, and he'sonly had 68 through five games, so I've got to ratchet up his carries and cutdown on Laurence Maroney's." The NFL is a classicwhat-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, and, if anything, Bill Belichick isgoing to lean more heavily on the explosive Maroney and less on the ploddingDillon the rest of the way. This will continue to be a two-headed monster, andthere will be days when Dillon gets 16 or 18 carries. But it's very tellingthat through five games a rookie Maroney has 10 more carries than the trustedveteran. Belichick sees the greatness in Maroney, and he also sees that in 78carries he hasn't fumbled, and he's averaging 4.3 yards per rush.
Another example:Though Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai had 35 and 33 carries, respectively, inthe Colts' last two games, look at the consistency of Addai's weekly yards perrush over the past four games: 5.1, 5.0, 4.2, 4.8. He's got more explosion andspeed than Rhodes, and Tony Dungy will rely on him more than Rhodes down thestretch.
Savvy fantasyowners, especially those who drafted two running backs from the same team, willtake this trend into account when configuring their lineups and when weighingtrade options. Go with the hot hand. Belichick, like many coaches, has alwaysbeen a veteran's guy. But when the kid is clearly playing better than theveteran, he's going to play the kid. You should too.
He impressed his new teammates with two TD catches in a win over the Rams.
The second-year man has two 100-yard games and a TD in four of six games,making him a weekly must-play.
He doubled his career touchdown output (from two to four) in just threequarters with Kyle Boller at the helm.
Through two games he has a one-to-four touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Was on the field often but had just one touch and no yards in a rout of the49ers.
That loud whine you hear is Carr's once-league-leading QB rating plummeting toearth.
Read Peter King's 10 Fantasy Things I Think I Thinkand analysis from David Sabino at SI.com/fantasy.
BOB ROSATO (BRADY)
AL KOOISTRA/WIREIMAGE.COM (FLETCHER-BAKER)
JONATHAN FERREY/GETTY IMAGES (JAMES)
SHUFFLING CARDS Personnel shifts on the line have James muttering and sputtering.
HOWARD SCHATZ (CHADIHA)
MICHAEL VALERI/WIREIMAGE.COM (BELICHICK/DILLON)
BELICHICK & DILLON
DOUGLAS JONES/ICON SMI (GORE)
JERALD PINKUS/WIREIMAGE.COM (BRANCH)