The pregame shows for the Philadelphia Eagles-Atlanta Falcons Sunday tilt will be talking all about a player owned in 7.5 percent of ESPN standard leagues, a quarterback who has fewer fantasy points than Tarvaris Jackson, Brian Hoyer and Dennis Dixon. Heck, Michael Vick has only four more points than you and me this season!
Sure, it will be interesting to see how the home crowd greets their former, disgraced hero when Andy Reid runs Vick out there for one of those misguided Wildcat plays -- it's not working; including passes, Vick has a double-digit gainer on one play all season -- but fantasy football owners have quite a bit to watch in this game. The Falcons are without their starting quarterback in Matt Ryan, and the Eagles are likely to be missing concussed wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
I can tell you fantasy owners don't seem very concerned about Roddy White or Tony Gonzalez, and as I wrote in an earlier blog this week, I don't think they should be. Briefly, Ryan was not playing well, and while all we've got to go on with Chris Redman is his small sample size performance in 2007 and in relief of Ryan in Week 12, I don't see much dropoff. You're not playing Redman, just the weapons. I'll also be very interested to see how the carries are divided up, assuming Michael Turner can't play. I want to see Jason Snelling get opportunity, but like in Seattle with this ridiculous Julius Jones-Justin Forsett situation, I'm thinking loyalty is going to play a major role in giving Jerious Norwood lots of run.
For the Eagles, it's a bit simpler. Jason Avant has already been emerging, and Jeremy Maclin plays a lot like Jackson anyway, a smallish fellow who seems to often be open deep. I just think people are overrating how productive Avant and Maclin will be this week. There are no guarantees. The Eagles offense is more balanced now, and I don't think Donovan McNabb even knows from play to play what he's going to do.
Here are other players I'm keeping close tabs on this weekend, the watch list, if you will.
Carson Palmer, Bengals: Seems to me quite a few people are counting on him to put up numbers against the Detroit Lions. ESPN Fantasy projected no quarterback for more points. I cautiously ranked Palmer ninth, because a week ago he didn't need to throw very much against the similarly awful Cleveland Browns, and didn't.
Jay Cutler, Bears: Just a lightning rod of hate in the fantasy community, but even the haters can't deny the attractive matchup with the awful St. Louis Rams. Sorry to keep using the word awful, but look around the league. There's a lot of awful. I don't think Cutler will be awful this week. Even if he gets picked off twice, I think two or three touchdowns and 300 passing yards are possible. I'd say Matt Forte is being watched by many as well.
Kurt Warner/Matt Leinart, Cardinals: This is obviously something to watch Sunday morning, as it could depend on how Warner feels when he rolls out of bed. It kind of did last week. I don't really like the matchup against the Minnesota Vikings regardless, but I certainly don't like it for other Cardinals if you're relying on Leinart.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Received a text message from a buddy today. "So Peterson was caught doing 109 mph? Maybe if he had given my fantasy team more than 109 a few more times I'd be playoff bound." OK, so Peterson is only the No. 3 running back in fantasy scoring. Sorry, can't call that a bust. The Cardinals were the top team against running backs in fantasy about a month ago. Now they're 19th-best. Enjoy this one, as the complaining stops.
Chris Jennings, Browns: Jamal Lewis went away quietly and without fanfare, and certainly fantasy owners haven't enjoyed owning him the past few seasons. Thank Lewis for that incredible 2,000-yard campaign, though. What Chris Johnson is doing now, that was Lewis in 2003. Anyway, Brady Quinn can't throw incomplete passes on every down, so someone has to run it. On TV Thursday I said Jennings or Jerome Harrison could be the next Jamaal Charles, in theory. That would make Lewis into Larry Johnson, I suppose. I don't think Jennings will do that, but it's worth watching.
Marion Barber, Cowboys: Pretty much anytime I hear his name mentioned it's by a Barber owner whining about a lack of production. Barber's best game this season came against the New York Giants, Sunday's opponent. I thought Barber ran pretty well the past two weeks. I expect a nice game here.
Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars: Great stat on him. He has 20 fantasy points in road games, 84 points in home games. He's at home the next three weeks.
Robert Meachem, Saints: The second-most added player in ESPN leagues this week, he's become a scoring machine. The Redskins can defend, though, so this would be an inopportune time for Meachem to stop scoring.