Sam Sharpe/US Presswire
For Williams, it's about time he got going. While he and the rookie Stewart entered Week 5 with virtually the same number of yards -- Williams led 201 to 197, so each was averaging about 50 yards rushing per game -- only one of these fellas was scoring touchdowns. Combined they had scored four times, all by the rookie. Now Stewart leads Williams 4-3. Williams had all three touchdowns by halftime, including a gift 25-yarder on a screen pass, when the Chiefs apparently forgot such a play existed and didn't cover him at all.
I'm a little surprised how fantasy owners didn't seem enticed by the matchup, but maybe the relatively low number of yards for each player was a concern. The fact that it was well known that tackles Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah would likely miss the game probably didn't help. In the end, though, this wasn't so much about the Panthers as it was the opponent. The Chiefs had already been torched by the Raiders (300 rushing yards in Week 2, 164 by Darren McFadden) and Falcons (186 yards) this season and the only teams that had permitted more rushing yards per game were the Colts and Lions. Fantasy owners on ESPN.com were apparently scared to use Williams and even had concerns about Stewart. While the rookie was activated in 70.9 percent of leagues, Williams was on the bench in 62 percent. I have a league in which I gleefully activated both. That's 37 fantasy points, though only five for Stewart (he lost a point on a fumble). Incidentally, Williams has rushed for 80 or more yards seven times in his career, and the Panthers are 7-0 in those games.
The Chiefs are bad. Really bad. Even as their bye week comes up in a few days, I look forward to who will next be running wild against them. Note to owners of both Titans running backs, the Jets' Thomas Jones and Tampa Bay's duo: After the Chiefs' bye week, you're next up for that Kansas City "defense."
As for the Carolina running backs, you're probably wondering, was anything in this annoying timeshare solved in Week 5? My answer is a resounding no. The Panthers are 4-1 and looking like an eventual playoff entrant, with a balanced offense that clearly doesn't rely too much on either running back, or top weapon Steve Smith, who has yet to break out. The defense, as proved by an embarrassing Larry Johnson performance -- two yards rushing, total -- can stop the run and doesn't struggle against the pass either. Even with this large statistical game, Williams is not on pace for as many as 1,000 rushing yards, and neither is Stewart. Fantasy owners need to get used to this. Once in a while one of these running backs will have a big game, but for the most part, they won't be making your decision any easier. It'll be a weekly guessing game, against good and bad defenses.
My pregame take in the Sunday morning chat session -- I handle the noon-to-kickoff time slot -- was that if the Eagles and Packers felt Westbrook and Rodgers were worth playing, then fantasy owners should feel confident in doing the same. However, most Rodgers fantasy owners didn't want to take the chance on the quarterback's iffy shoulder. Fourteen quarterbacks were started in more ESPN leagues, including Brian Griese and Kyle Orton. Rodgers lost again, for the third consecutive week -- would that Favre guy have lost to Atlanta at home? -- but he proved a worthy fantasy option, passing for 313 yards and three scores. My take: He's a top-10 quarterback and a weekly play, though I do think concerns of his being brittle could be well-founded.
The Patriots went to San Francisco and earned a nice win, and welcomed back the record-setting Randy Moss to the productive fold. Moss began the week 47th in fantasy points, but his owners stuck with him, as only eight wide receivers were started in more leagues. Moss hauled in a 66-yard touchdown pass from Matt Cassel on the team's third drive, a pretty pass across the middle after Moss had beaten Nate Clements and Walt Harris. Considering Moss had managed two plays longer than 10 yards since the Tom Brady injury, this is a significant development.
|This Week In Fantasy Football History|
By Neil Tardy
1991: In the days before the Internet made it easy to tabulate defense and special teams stats like tackles and return yards, fantasy owners focused on the big running backs who feasted on short scoring plunges. They didn't get any bigger than Christian Okoye and Marion Butts. On this week, the Nigerian Nightmare -- whose listed weight was 253 pounds -- turned in one of his top performances of the year, rumbling for 122 rushing yards and plowing in for a pair of touchdowns for Kansas City. The 248-pound Butts also found the end zone twice, recording his only career touchdown reception on the second score. The man on the other end of that pass? Notorious San Diego signal-caller John Friesz.
It only seemed like Art Monk racked up all his awesome numbers between the 20s. In truth, the 2008 Hall of Fame inductee totaled 68 career touchdowns, and twice reached eight scores in a season (including '91). Monk was a great play this week, grabbing TD receptions of 26 and 5 yards.
Andre Johnson, Texans:
When news came down that Matt Schaub would miss the start with an illness and Sage Rosenfels would start, Johnson's owners couldn't have been pleased. How many owners sat their top wide receiver and missed nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown? That's 19 fantasy points; in three prior games, AJ totaled 16 points.
Larry Johnson, Chiefs:
Fantasy owners knew better than to expect 100 yards from LJ anymore, but to be able to count his total rushing yards on one hand -- well, two fingers -- is sad. The Chiefs weren't competitive at Carolina, but Johnson did enter the day third in the NFL in rushing and averaging 4.8 yards per carry. To get a mere seven chances and produce two yards is a stunner.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons: We keep discussing the league's rushing leader, but hey, he finally did something away from home and against a decent defense, netting 121 yards and a score. Can't think of a good reason to ever sit him.
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys: Nice to see him get some touches, after missing Week 4, and best of all, he did something with them. Jones broke a 33-yarder for a touchdown and ended up with 96 rushing yards. He's back to being a flex option.
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins: OK, so it wasn't five touchdowns, but those were the Chargers he beat up for 125 yards and yet another of those single-wing formation rushing scores. It's time to trust Brown again.
Domenik Hixon, WR, Giants: Steve Smith (Giants) owners didn't like hearing Hixon named to start with Plaxico Burress out, and Hixon stepped up with 102 yards and a touchdown. Remember the name if Amani Toomer starts to act his age.
Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Panthers: Steve Smith (Panthers) owners saw Muhammad get more fantasy points than their guy yet again. With D.J. Hackett appearing irrelevant, Muhammad could start earning weekly No. 3 WR status.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: Since the easy Rams win in Week 1, McNabb has three touchdowns in four weeks and barely 10 points per game. What's so great about that, especially considering there's bound to be a season-ending injury at some point?
Chris Perry, RB, Bengals: Not that I expected a huge game at Dallas, but to see him splitting carries with newcomer Cedric Benson so soon wasn't a positive development. Perry did have a touchdown called back, but will he get more chances in future weeks?
Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots: I suppose it's a good sign he dressed for the game at all, but 2.6 yards per carry isn't going to get him more touches. Plus, now he's behind Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk if he wants a goal-line rush.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: There's nothing wrong with a punt-return touchdown, but getting one reception was not a good sign. Reggie Brown is back, and Kevin Curtis is next, meaning Jackson could lose his starting slot.
Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals: Honestly, I don't know what I was waiting for. I won't wait any longer.
Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts: Maybe he's healthy, maybe he isn't, but he looks slow, and 19 fantasy points in four games doesn't excite.
We were told Jon Kitna was pulled at halftime due to back spasms, but the Lions were losing big anyway, so who knows if he just got pulled? Backup Dan Orlovsky suffered a high ankle sprain and should miss a few weeks, so if Kitna needs to miss time, Drew Stanton would get the call. And then there was Matt Schaub, who was ill. For a while, Sage Rosenfels was playing really well, but assuming Schaub feels OK, he should start next week.
The Broncos get their own paragraph, as Eddie Royal, Selvin Young and Tony Scheffler each left early, with Royal spraining an ankle, and Young and Scheffler straining their left groins. Michael Pittman could be in line for more carries, and Brandon Stokley would benefit if Royal misses time.
At wide receiver, Anthony Gonzalez suffered a concussion and could miss the Week 6 matchup against the Ravens. He wouldn't have been a good play anyway. The Seahawks got Deion Branch back and promptly watched him leave with a left heel injury. No word on how long he will be out, if at all. Chris Chambers was having a decent afternoon, but then suffered a lower leg injury in the third quarter and didn't return.
Peyton Manning welcomes the Baltimore Ravens, a team he has had success against. Manning threw four touchdown passes against the Ravens last season, and in five career meetings he has averaged 284 passing yards and totaled 11 touchdowns.
While LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for only five yards against the Patriots in January before leaving hurt, he has had big success against New England overall. Including playoffs, LT has seven touchdowns in six career matchups, with a 200-yard rushing game and two others topping 100 yards.
Jake Delhomme has beaten the Buccaneers seven of the eight times he faced them as a Panther, and in the past six meetings he has 11 touchdowns against three interceptions. Don't worry about how well the current Bucs seem to be defending the pass.
Carson Palmer has faced the Jets twice in his career, and the Bengals have scored 62 points in those games. Palmer has three touchdown passes in those games, while Chad Johnson has averaged 101 yards.