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The Big Rotowski: Week 16 Player Rankings

Notes: Romo's thumb is the big story Saturday night. As of this writing, he hadn't done much more in practice than lob lollipops, but right now I believe he'll play in Carolina, and play well. The Panthers did a fine job shutting down the Seahawks this past week, but Dallas' pass offense is light years away from West Coast, and Carolina has still allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks. … Warner isn't playing all that well, but the Cardinals are very willing to throw in the red zone (witness two scores in Week 15 to obscure tight ends), and Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are both going to play against the reeling Falcons. Warner does have 10 fumbles on the season, and is riskier than he should be considering how much he passes, but still, he's eminently startable. … Brees showed his midrange side against the Cardinals, and threw nine fewer passes than his average, but the Saints are primarily a passing team, so even a game against an Eagles secondary that's playing its best right now isn't enough to keep you from starting the Saints' signal-caller. … McNabb hung Pam Oliver out to dry on her report that he's contemplating life after Philly, but how could he not be? The Eagles have good coaches and Brian Westbrook, and that's it. The O-line is old, the front seven is below average and the receivers are complementary parts. Obviously, teams get good fast in the NFL, so it's possible Philly surprises me, but I think the Eagles are rebuilding next year. McNabb has a really good chance of being somewhere else, and the Eagles are dumb for not giving Kevin Kolb a look. But they won't, and McNabb has a super-tasty matchup against the terrible Saints pass defense. … Garcia didn't do anything against the Falcons, but don't hold it against him: The defense and special teams each scored early, the score was 14-3 six minutes in, and there wasn't much reason to throw. Clearly, Earnest Graham is the more valuable property, but the Niners have allowed eight touchdown passes and picked off just four balls in their past five games. … I have Croyle as high as I do strictly because the Lions have quit on defense. The Chiefs have to realize Croyle isn't the guy long term, but they let him throw it 43 times this past week, and he did zip in a few nice long ones. … Rosenfels could very well be a starting quarterback in my 16-team league's title game Sunday (if Romo can't go). The Colts are missing a ton of people up front, but the corners and Bob Sanders are OK, which means as well as he played last Thursday, I can't endorse ol' Sage.

Notes: Steven Jackson looked just terrific against Green Bay, racking up 143 rush yards, and justifying his No. 2 overall selection in drafts this August (albeit too late). Is there a chance the Steelers shore up what ailed them against Jacksonville? There is. But in my mind, the probabilities are higher that Jackson continues his late-season roll. … I don't want to love Ryan Grant, because honestly, he's not this good. But defenses have to think pass-first against the Packers, and the Bears are down to rookies and street free agents on their D-line. … I have LenDale White rated highly, but beware the returning Chris Henry. There's dual potential for carry thefts in Tennessee again, though I'm hopeful White will get it rolling against the bad Jets rush D and do his damage early. … Jacobs returned from his near-disastrous late fumble against Chicago to be the best Giant on the field versus Washington Sunday night. He was imposing and pretty quick, and he gets a beaten-down Bills rush defense. The only concern is a possible tweaking of his ever-injured hammy. Keep an eye on him. … Oh, for heaven's sake: The Chiefs are talking about using Larry Johnson again? Eesh. I can't believe LJ will be back, but Kolby Smith's owners have to tune their antennae to the KC Web sites. Smith ran tough and effectively, if not explosively, against the Titans' ground D, and gets a far softer opponent in Detroit Sunday. … I know it's scary to have Jones-Drew this high, but Fred Taylor is higher, and frankly I think MJD is due for a score or two against the poor-tackling Oakland D. … Edgerrin James has eclipsed 100 yards once since Week 2, and has 17 or fewer carries in three of his past four, but the Falcons should give Arizona the opportunity to remember its early-season promises to become "Pittsburgh East" in smashmouth style. … I've guessed Rhodes will get the start over Jordan, though that won't be decided until the end of the week. Jordan has burned an awful lot of bridges by running his mouth. He won't be back by the Bay in 2008. … Stecker has been a fantasy star each of the past two weeks, but I've got him rated in flex territory because I've assumed Bush will return. If Bush misses this game, Stecker deserves to be well inside the top 20. … How many times in 2007 have I ranked Norwood above Dunn? And how many times have I written that finally this would be the week Atlanta's coaches would realize Norwood's the better player? Now Bobby Petrino is gone, and Emmitt Thomas saw proof that Norwood should be his back. I still think they'll split, but Norwood borders on flex-worthiness. … DeAngelo Williams scored a long touchdown against Seattle, but he didn't run particularly well before that. However, he did get 15 carries to Foster's 18. That kind of split makes Williams more valuable.

Notes: I love TO on national TV against the Panthers, and if Romo were right, I'd have Owens No. 1. … Holt is very high here, in part because Pittsburgh corner Ike Taylor has a dinged-up knee, and in part because the Steelers have struggled to put pressure on the quarterback. … Marshall needs to stay out of the news; he had legal troubles related to DUI case, and now he apparently got into a yelling match with a Broncos coach. Still, he's too scary a red zone threat not to start. … Chris McAlister is gone and Samari Rolle is doubtful, so both Engram and Branch are tremendous plays. The Ravens are out of serviceable defensive backs. … Donald Driver over Marques Colston for the Pro Bowl is the most egregious error made at any position. From a fantasy perspective, from a real-life perspective, it doesn't matter. … Anthony Gonzalez is still owned in only one-third of ESPN.com leagues. If you need a receiver for your championship game, I bet he's the best guy on your waiver wire. … Laveranues Coles got knocked out for the year by a training table falling on his foot, so Cotchery has to get a bump up. … Who'd have thought that in Week 16's fantasy football rankings, Shaun McDonald would be higher than Calvin Johnson, and with good reason?

Notes: Witten gets the top spot over Gates. He has a ridiculous 28 targets the past two weeks, and the Panthers have allowed four touchdowns to tight ends in their past five games. … I have to admit, I was rooting for Winslow to get the AFC's second Pro Bowl nod over Gonzalez, but in all fairness, Gonzo has been better the second half of 2007, and their overall numbers are almost identical. Stupid snow bowl. … Scheffler takes a great big jump after his nine-target, seven-catch game in Houston. Could this be a little high for him? Maybe. But watching that Texans game, I thought Jay Cutler smartly checked down more than he'd ever done, and that'll be a winning strategy against Antonio Cromartie and the rest of the Chargers' secondary. … Chris Baker sure did just get a lot of money from the Jets (three years, $5.4 million), but he backed it up with a terrific eight-catch performance in New England, including a couple that showed great hands I didn't know he had. He certainly benefits from Chad Pennington getting the starting nod.

Notes: It was kind of fun ranking defenses for Week 16, because I basically could pick which substitute quarterbacks I thought were worst. Seattle is way up there because Kyle Boller is dreadful and partway concussed. Tampa is third because as nice a story as Shaun Hill is, I worry that secondary will eat him alive. The Packers stay high because Kyle Orton is awful. The Vikings having to face resurgent Todd Collins somehow fails to instill fear. The Titans can all but forget defending anything beyond 15 yards thanks to Chad Pennington. The Cowboys get their training camp mate, rookie Matt Moore. The Colts ride the purple Sage. And the Cardinals buy some insurance against Chris Redman. … Meanwhile the oft-startable Eagles D should ride pine against the Saints, Mario Williams and the red-hot Texans D shouldn't tempt you against Peyton and the boys, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Miami isn't a good start in New England.

Don't forget to read The Breakdown on Fridays, for more detailed thoughts on every team and every game.

Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com.
You can e-mail him here.