By Kenn Ruby
The first game of the post-Cadillac Williams era did not go well for the Tampa Bay rushing attack. Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham combined for just 10 yards on 11 carries, and Pittman suffered a small crack in his fibula. He'll miss six to eight weeks, giving Graham sole possession of the running back job. The Bucs will probably try to find another back elsewhere, but until then Graham will start, and Kenneth Darby will back him up. Williams' knee injury was worse than feared, and some doctors say he won't ever be the same. It looks like it's safe to drop Williams in keeper leagues.
Jamal Lewis was knocked out of the game with a first quarter foot injury Sunday. His replacement, Jason Wright, had 59 yards rushing and 43 yards receiving. The Browns face Miami this week, so if Lewis misses the game, Wright could be a nice sleeper.
With 20 carries for 100 yards Sunday, Brandon Jacobs did not look like someone who hadn't played in a month. A Jacobs fumble was returned for a touchdown, but he later made up for it by getting in the end zone himself. Derrick Ward, who played well in Jacobs' absence the last few weeks, chipped in 56 yards and a score. His playing time will probably diminish when Jacobs becomes the workhorse the Giants envision, but in the meantime he still has a little value.
X-rays of LaMont Jordan's back were negative, but Jordan's been unable to practice since his injury on Sept. 30. When the Raiders take the field again Oct. 14, Dominic Rhodes will be back from his suspension, and Justin Fargas, who had 179 yards in relief of Jordan in the last game, will also be available if Jordan is unable to play.
Kevin Jones didn't touch the ball in the first half Sunday, giving Tatum Bell one last start to show what he can do. The Redskins stifled the entire Detroit offense, however, and Bell carried just four times and had 15 yards to show for it. Jones gave Detroit new life in the second half, catching two passes and earning 48 yards on 11 carries. Bell did not touch the ball in the second half, and with Detroit off this week, the Lions are just about ready to make Jones the full-time running back.
With 121 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, Kenton Keith did not represent any drop from starter Joseph Addai, who missed the Buccaneers game with a bruised chest. The Colts are off this week, and Addai should be back as the feature back thereafter, but Keith could cut into his carries now that he's shown what he can do.
Although Minnesota did not play Sunday, coach Brad Childress reiterated his stance that Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson would split carries, noting that the timeshare will keep both fresh. Although Peterson could still be extremely valuable this year and is one to target in keeper leagues, as long as Taylor is healthy, Peterson's value will be somewhat limited.
Ron Dayne started and carried 16 times for just 40 yards, as the Houston rushing offense never got going in Ahman Green's absence. Dayne carried six times on the opening drive, including a one-yard score, but he only gained seven yards. Backup Samkon Gado wasn't much better, finishing with just 19 yards on eight rushes. Green should return next week, and not a moment too soon.
Travis Henry suffered through a tumultuous week, allegedly failing a drug test (a potential one-year suspension looms) and missing practice with knee and ankle injuries. Selvin Young was ready to get his first career start, but Henry gritted his teeth through 16 carries Sunday. Young carried just once, but he added four catches. The Broncos have a bye this week, giving Henry much needed rest. If Henry isn't available in Week 7, it's unlikely the reason will be physical.
Maurice Jones-Drew - thanks to a 52-yard scoring scamper - had his first decent fantasy game this season. However, despite 82 yards rushing and 30 yards receiving, he's still losing carries to Fred Taylor, and goal-line carries are frequently going to Greg Jones. It's not time to cut Jones-Drew yet, but it's clear that Jacksonville does not see him as anything other than a change-of-pace back.
Even though Brandon Jackson was on the shelf again Sunday, the Packers rushing offense finally showed some signs of life. DeShawn Wynn and Vernand Morency combined for 121 yards on 22 carries, including a 44-yard run by Wynn on the opening drive. Most of the damage was done in the first half, however, and the Packers were unable to get much going after the break. Jackson will probably return next week, further muddying the waters.
Matt Leinart was replaced mid-game by Kurt Warner for the third consecutive week, but this time Leinart left the game with an injury rather than mere ineffectiveness. Unfortunately for him, Leinart has a broken collarbone and could miss the rest of the season. Warner, who passed for one score and ran for another, is now the full-time quarterback in Arizona.
Trent Green suffered a Grade 3 concussion against the Texans. When you consider how serious his concussion was last year, it's a safe bet that Green will not be back any time soon. Cleo Lemon becomes the new starter, but Lemon and the Miami passing offense aren't great bets these days.
Joey Harrington has been a pleasant surprise for Atlanta this season, but he had trouble moving the ball against Tennessee on Sunday, completing 16 passes in 31 attempts for a mere 87 yards. Byron Leftwich replaced him in the fourth quarter but was even worse. Leftwich blew a chance to tie the game despite having first-and-goal from the one-yard line. Harrington will be back in the starting lineup this week, but only as the lesser of two evils.
When Damon Huard left the Jacksonville game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury, Kansas City had no points and just 193 yards of offense. Brodie Croyle led the Chiefs on a 70-yard scoring drive, capped by a touchdown pass. Huard will miss the upcoming game, but even against Cincinnati's shaky defense, Croyle is not worth picking up.
Although he was officially active for Sunday's game, Marc Bulger did not play and could miss another game or two while recuperating from broken ribs. Gus Frerotte started and threw for three touchdowns, but was also picked off three times. Although the Rams offense showed signs of life against Arizona, Frerotte will have his hands full against the Ravens this week.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
A sore groin kept Santana Moss on the sidelines Sunday, giving James Thrash a rare start. Thrash had just two catches for 11 yards, but both Antwaan Randle El (seven catches for 100 yards) and tight end Chris Cooley (four catches for 26 yards and a touchdown) had nice games in Moss' absence. Randle El left the game with a hamstring injury, so Thrash's value could increase this week. Keenan McCardell, Brandon Lloyd and Reche Caldwell are candidates to start against Green Bay if both Moss and Randle El sit.
Anthony Gonzalez started Sunday in place of Marvin Harrison (sprained knee) and responded with seven catches for 71 yards. He'll move back to the third wide receiver role when Harrison returns after the bye week.
Andre Davis and tight end Owen Daniels once again led the Houston passing attack Sunday with Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones sidelined. Daniels had six catches for 96 yards, Davis had four catches for 79 yards, and Kevin Walter pitched in with five receptions for 67 yards. Johnson and Jones should be back soon, and it will be interesting to see what Houston does with the weapons they now possess when the receiving corps gets crowded again.
Eddie Kennison returned Sunday, but he aggravated his hamstring injury and left the game after being targeted only once. Kennison has not caught a pass this season. Rookie Dwayne Bowe, who caught four passes for 70 yards, looks like the No. 1 wide receiver in Kansas City.
Santonio Holmes joined Hines Ward on the list of walking wounded after pulling his hamstring while warming up before the Seattle game. Nate Washington (three catches for 26 yards) and Cedrick Wilson (five catches for 69 yards) started, but with Holmes and Ward expected back in Week 7 after a bye this week, Washington and Wilson will be back to being fantasy non-factors very soon.
Deion Branch sprained his foot in the loss at Pittsburgh and will miss two games. Bobby Engram becomes the No. 1 receiver by default. Nate Burleson and Ben Obomanu will contribute while Branch and D.J. Hackett (who will probably miss at least one more game) sit out. With the Seattle offense struggling, none of their receivers make good fantasy plays right now.
Drew Bennett and tight end Aaron Walker were in the starting lineup against the Cardinals, with Bennett catching a 16-yard touchdown pass. Bennett replaced the injured Isaac Bruce, and could be in line for more scoring opportunities in the near future. Walker replaced the underachieving Randy McMichael, but only caught one pass and watched as McMichael hauled down a key touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. McMichael should start again soon.
Anquan Boldin missed his second game in a row Sunday, and replacement Bryant Johnson capitalized with six catches for 80 yards. The real benefit to Boldin's absence has been Larry Fitzgerald, who has 20 catches 259 yards in the last two weeks. Boldin should return this week, but there's no reason Fitzgerald shouldn't keep playing like one of the best receivers in the league.