Rising and Falling: The Barbarian unleashed!

Week three of the preseason has recently become the week where coaches get a longer look at the players they expect to form their starting roster come opening day. With this in mind, it’s important to look at the players who are stepping it up this week, as it could be a key indicator of how they will play when the season starts. Below you’ll find a list of the players who’s fantasy status is “Rising”, “Falling”, or “Stayin’ Put” based on Saturday’s preseason action…

Rising Up

Marion Barber (RB-DAL): 13 rushes for 75 yards and 1 TD, plus 2 receptions for 9 yards – Marion the Barbarian seems to be answering the question of whether or not he can handle the bulk of the carries this season, after splitting them with Julius Jones last year. Rookie backup Felix Jones (see “Falling” below) did not look especially sharp in this one, and with Barber’s knack for finding the endzone, I see no reason why the team would not lean heavily on him throughout the season.

Aaron Rodgers (QB-GB): 18 of 22 for 193 yards and 1 TD – After his poor performance last week, this was a great performance from Rodgers against a Denver pass defense that is supposed to be pretty good.

DeSean Jackson (WR-PHI): 4 receptions for 67 yards, plus a punt return TD – This kid is starting to look like the real deal. Having him as your WR4, or maybe even WR3, going into the season, would not be frowned upon.

Donovan McNabb (QB-PHI): 13 of 17 for 180 yards and 1 TD – He keeps losing receivers, but keeps getting it done. Rookie DeSean Jackson (below) seems to be one of his new favorite targets though…and I’m sure they can find some other receiver to line up opposite him.

Greg Jennings (WR-GB): 4 receptions for 42 yards – The key here is that Rodgers is developing chemistry with Jennings, as he completed the four passes to him in just over one quarter of play…imagine if it was an entire game?

J.T. O’Sullivan (QB-SF): 7 of 8 for 126 yards and 1 TD – Apparently he has won the quarterback competition in San Francisco…but that’s not saying a whole lot in terms of fantasy relevance.

Kevin Walter (WR-HOU): 6 receptions for 61 yards and 1 TD – While Andre Johnson played in this one, it was Kevin Walter who stepped up and showed that he is in regular season form with quarterback Matt Schaub. Even when Johnson gets back in sync with Schaub, Walter should still put up some solid numbers…I mean he had 800 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns last season!

Kyle Orton (QB-CHI): 10 of 17 for 147 yards and 2 TD – As with “Sully” above, winning the starting job in Chicago isn’t something that most fantasy team managers are going to care a whole lot about.

Matt Ryan (QB-ATL): 15 of 21 for 102 yards and 1 TD – Showed some flash that made him a first round draft pick this year, but he’s still not fantasy relevant at this point (unless you’re in a two quarterback league).

Patrick Crayton (WR-DAL): 3 receptions for 39 yards and 1 TD, plus 1 rush for 11 yards – He looks solidly entrenched as the starting receiver opposte T.O. and Romo looks for him often. He should put up some WR3 stats this year for your team if you draft him.

Rashied Davis (WR-CHI): 4 receptions for 58 yards and 2 TD – Kyle Orton seems to be comfortable with Davis, so we’ll have to see how he does in the final preseason game (and early in the regular season). If the Orton to Davis connection continues, he could be a potential mid-season sleeper.

Steve Slaton (RB-HOU): 10 rushes for 44 yards – With “starter” Ahman Green sitting out the entire preseason and having injury history in general, Slaton seems to be stepping it up with the thoughts of starting for this team at some point in the year.

Falling Down

Ahman Green (RB-HOU): DNP – Ugh…he won’t play in the preseason and who knows how long he can stay healthy when the season starts. Drafting Green in the first 10 rounds of your draft could be considered a “reach” at this point.

Alex Smith (QB-SF): 6 of 17 for 83 yards and 1 TD – The former first overall pick has lost his job to an aging journeyman…talk about disappointment.

Andre Johnson (WR-HOU): 0 receptions for 0 yards – He was back on the field for over a quarter, but was unable to make a catch. It looks like it’ll take a little bit for AJ to get on the same page with quarterback Matt Schaub. Let’s hope he can get in some good reps at practice and can make a few catches in next weeks preseason match.

Felix Jones (RB-DAL): 5 rushes for 10 yards and 1 fumble lost, plus 2 receptions for 4 yards and 1 fumble lost – Losing two fumbles and rushing for a 2 yard per carry average aren’t going to impress the head coaches. Barber is the number one running back in this offense at this point, with Jones a seemingly distant second.

Tom Brady (QB-NE): DNP – Don’t get me wrong…while I have Brady and Randy Moss as “Falling”, I’m still taking them as the top quarterback and wide receiver in my draft. However, the fact that Brady hasn’t played in the preseason and Moss hasn’t done anything noteworthy, coupled with the fact that there is very little chance of repeating their otherworldly performance from last season, makes me question how much distance you want to put between these two and the second ranked players at their respective positions.

Randy Moss (WR-NE): 1 reception for 6 yards, plus 1 rush for -5 yards – See above…

Vince Young (QB-TEN): 9 of 18 for 102 yards and 1 INT – I’ve never been a fan of Vince Young and these types of performances are not going to help change my mind. He should not be starting for a fantasy team in 10-12 team leagues at this point, but he could prove me wrong when the season opens.

Stayin’ Put Update

Brandon Marshall (WR-DEN): 2 receptions for 71 yards and 1 TD – Why o why did you have to go and get suspended?! Marshall had a great, acrobatic catch for a touchdown in this one and shows what he will be capable of in the regular season…we have to wait 2 or 3 weeks to see it.

Brian Westbrook (RB-PHI): 9 rushes for 39 yards, plus 1 reception for 19 yards

Chris Johnson (RB-TEN): 11 rushes for 35 yards, plus 2 receptions for 23 yards – Our sleeper pick showed his versatility in the passing game in this one, starting in place of LenDale White, who was taking the game off.

Donald Driver (WR-GB): 2 receptions for 33 yards and 1 TD

Frank Gore (RB-SF): 8 rushes for 51 yards

Jay Cutler (QB-DEN): 6 of 13 for 115 yards and 2 TD – That’s making the most out of your completed passes!

Laurence Maroney (RB-NE): 5 rushes for 18 yards

Matt Forte (RB-CHI): 11 rushes for 44 yards

Matt Schaub (QB-HOU): 15 of 27 for 166 yards and 1 TD

Michael Turner (RB-ATL): 5 rushes for 16 yards – More Turner than “Burner” in this one.

Selvin Young (RB-DEN): 6 rushes for 42 yards – Solid 7.0 yards per carry average shows that Young is ready for the start of the season…but goal line vulture Andre Hall is still getting carries, so don’t get too optimistic.

Terrell Owens (WR-DAL): 4 receptions for 43 yards – Would have had better stats in this one if Romo hadn’t overthrown him in the endzone. He’s ready for the regular season.

Tony Romo (QB-DAL): 15 of 19 for 166 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT