Best of the Rest: Leinart back in the doghouse

Continuing my previous article “Rising and Falling: The Barbarian Unleashed!”, here is a list of some of the players who saw the field over the weekend and how their play may or may not have affected their draft status…

Falling Down

Matt Leinart (QB-ARI): 4 of 12 for 24 yards, 3 INT –  ESPN is reporting that Kurt Warner will be named the starter for Arizona on opening day after Leinart had another poor outing in preseason. Completing 25% of your passes and nearly having as many interceptions as completions is not the way to earn the coach’s trust. On the plus side, maybe Leinart can spend more time partying with all his celebrity friends now, while Warner studies game tape. At this point, Leinart should be no where near one of your cheat sheets going into draft day.

Carson Palmer (QB-CIN): 11 of 16 for 105 yards – Palmer looked like a broken man as he left the field on Saturday…well a man with a broken nose at least. While his stats weren’t that bad considering that his starting receivers were out…and their primary backups were out…his broken nose could be reason for concern. It appears that he’ll be ready for the season opener, but these injuries are starting to pile up for the Bengals offense…

James Hardy (WR-BUF): 0 receptions – With Trent Edwards out of this one, J.P. Losman focused all his energy on getting his old pal Lee Evans the ball, while failing to utilize the teams new redzone weapon. If Losman becomes the quarterback at some point this season, I think Hardy’s value takes a hit, but he’s still a decent sleeper pick in the last rounds of your draft.

New York Giants (DEF): Losing Michael Strahan to retirement may have hurt the G-Men a bit, but losing the team leader in sacks, Osi Umenyiora, for the season with a ligament tear in his knee could prove to be disastrous for this defense. If they can’t get pressure on the opposing quarterback like they did last season, don’t expect another Superbowl victory.

Quinn Gray (QB-IND): 8 of 16 for 158 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT – Considering these stats were padded by a 94 yard TD bomb, Gray played terribly. Not that it has much impact on your fantasy draft though…I just felt like sharing it with everyone.

Santana Moss (WR-WAS): 1 reception for 5 yards – He’s too inconsistent to make it onto my fantasy roster and this performance pretty much shows what he can do when he’s on an “off” week. While he may get the yards to warrant a WR3 play, his three touchdowns leave much to be desired.

Tatum Bell (RB-DET): 4 rushes for 9 yards, plus 2 receptions for 12 yards – With his buddy Kevin Smith running the ball well, don’t expect to see a whole lot of Bell this season unless he drastically improves on these numbers.

Rising Up

Chad Pennington (QB-MIA): 11 of 15 for 94 yards, 1 TD – Pennington should be just what the doctor ordered for Miami. He’s not going to win them a championship, but he should play good enough to win them more than one game. He’s looking decent in preseason so far, but should not find his way onto a fantasy roster outside of a 10+ team, 2 QB league at this stage in the game.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart (RB-CAR): Williams (9 rushes for 101 yards, 1 TD) and Stewart (10 rushes for 100 yards, 1 TD) – I guess I would consider both of the running backs for the Panthers as “rising” after their performances in this one, but if both continue to play well, it makes for a tricky situation for fantasy managers. At this point you’re drafting Stewart a little ways ahead of Williams, with the hope that DeAngelo returns to his normal, disappointing self when the season starts. While the Panthers would love to see both guys playing great, it doesn’t really help the decision making process for us!

Dennis Northcutt (WR-JAX): 3 receptions for 39 yards, 1 TD – Lots of questions at the receiver position in Jacksonville could make Northcutt the most consistent option for Garrard this season.

Dustin Keller (TE-NYJ): 3 receptions for 43 – Keller led the team in receptions and receiving yards in this one, showing that Favre is taking a liking to the rookie…as should you.

Dwayne Jarrett (WR-CAR): 4 receptions for 40 yards – After a nearly non-existent rookie campaign last year, could this be a sign that Jarrett is ready to step up and show that USC players are not all busts? I’ll need to see more before I believe it, but I’m thinking of picking him up off free agency in one of my leagues as a sleeper and seeing if he does anything.

Javon Walker (WR-OAK): 4 receptions for 60 yards – It’s a Javon Walker sighting!

John Kasay (K-CAR): 4/4 FG, 5/5 XP – Not bad fantasy output from the K position (17 points) if it’s the regular season and he’s on your roster.

Jon Kitna (QB-DET): 9 of 11 for 98 yards – Another solid performance from Kitna…can he carry it over into the regular season? I think the addition of the guy below will make the running game more of a threat in Detroit, so I expect a better year from Kitna as the defenses don’t key on the wide receivers.

Kevin Smith (RB-DET): 10 rushes for 45 yards, 1 TD – The team needs big things out of the rookie and it appears that he’ll be given all he can handle. He’s a decent RB3 for your fantasy squad at this point.

Kurt Warner (QB-ARI): 2 of 4 for 40 yards – Warner has apparently won the competition for the starting quarterback job in Arizona…again. He always makes a viable fantasy start when he’s playing, but banking on him to survive the entire season as your team’s quarterback is a bit risky at this point.

Marc Bulger (QB-STL): 18 of 25 for 182 yards, 2 TD – Now here’s the Bulger of old…but I don’t trust it at this point. I’m still not drafting him and he’ll need to turn out a few more solid performances before I believe that he’s really back and this wasn’t just a ghost of the Rams past.

Ricky Williams (RB-MIA): 12 rushes for 47 yards – With Ronnie Brown out in this one, Williams continued to pound the ball for Miami. Even if Brown is healthy, expect to see a heavy dose of Ricky all season long. The issue now is that without taking him too early in your league’s draft, Ronnie Brown owners are going to miss out on this mandatory handcuff as he’s being earlier and earlier with every passing day.

Robert Meachem (WR-NO): 4 receptions for 71 yards – Nice sleeper draft pick here, and along with Jeremy Schockey, Brees should now have some decent targets in the passing game to complement Marques Colston and Reggie Bush.

Steve Smith (WR-CAR): 4 receptions for 60 yards, 1 TD – As with Brandon Marshall, it’s a pity that he has to sit out the first two games. His chemistry with quarterback Jake Delhomme is right where it left off and you just have to wait it out for the rewards to kick in.

Steve Smith (WR-NYG): 4 receptions for 37 yards – The other Steve Smith makes a good sleeper pick as the other receivers on the team battle injuries.

Ted Ginn, Jr. (WR-MIA): 3 receptions for 29 yards – Should be the leading receiver for Pennington’s Dolphins this year.

Tim Hightower (RB-ARI): 10 rush for 52 yards, 1 TD – If you get Edge, make sure to get Hightower. I was able to pick him up in the last round of a recent draft, but that may have been because the Edge owner was clueless. Hightower has scored a touchdown in all three preseason games now and should be an end zone threat all season, even with a healthy Edgerrin James.

Stayin’ Put Update

Adrian Peterson (RB-MIN): 12 rush for 21 yards, 1 TD, plus 3 receptions for 11 yards – Low yardage, but still found the end zone and was utilized in the passing game. He’s still my number two running back on draft day.

Anquan Boldin (WR-ARI): 3 receptions for 54 yards – Seems that the contract issues aren’t affecting his game play too much, so you can expect a big year out of Boldin as long as he stays healthy.

Brett Favre (QB-GB): 9 of 12 for 96 yards – Looking solid…just waiting for the regular season to make a true assessment.

Kansas City Quarterbacks: 16 of 33 for 131 yards, 3 INT – Don’t draft any quarterback with the abbreviation “KC” next to them.

Jake Delhomme (QB-CAR): 11 of 19 for 159 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT – Appears to be back in the rhythm of things and healed from his elbow surgery.  Feel confident drafting Delhomme as your QB1…and feel even better when Steve Smith returns in week three.

Lee Evans (WR-BUF): 5 receptions for 44 yards – When Losman is the quarterback, Evan shines. However, Trent Edwards is the starter going into the season…

Rashard Mendenhall (RB-PIT): 15 rushes for 79 yards, 2 fumbles lost, plus 2 receptions for 15 yards – More rumblin’, bumblin’ and fumblin’ for the rookie. If he can’t hold on to the ball, don’t expect the coach to hand him the rock in the end zone.