- Scott Engel, ESPN Fantasy Games
Every week in the Engel Eye, I'll take a look at some key performances from Sunday. We'll determine which players are ones to keep watching, and I'll pinpoint emerging trends.
The real Rams? St. Louis finally won its first game of the season and in the process gave hope to owners of its top fantasy options. With running back Steven Jackson finally back and seemingly 100 percent and the passing game boasting a healthy stable again, the Rams found the offensive groove that had eluded them in the first half of the schedule. The offensive line played respectably and got help from the tight ends, and St. Louis was able to establish a solid ground game; Jackson rushed for 76 yards and a score, and the Rams as a team rushed for 133 yards. St. Louis showed signs of life on offense before their Week 9 bye, and the extra week of rest allowed Marc Bulger to get healthy, along with a deep receiving crew that had been banged-up during the first half of the season. Bulger had his best fantasy output of 2007, throwing for 302 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Jackson also added a touchdown pass, and Isaac Bruce, Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael all scored. Torry Holt didn't score but caught eight balls for a season-high 124 yards. The Rams have gotten past the multiple injury issues at the skill positions that plagued them during their first eight games, and the offensive balance has returned with Jackson back in the lineup. St. Louis will have to score often in the weeks ahead, because its defense will force the offense to keep pace. Thankfully, owners of Bulger, Jackson and Holt can now look ahead with renewed hope. McMichael also has the potential to finish well and is worth picking up if you need help at tight end. He is owned in only 55.7 percent of ESPN leagues.
Ride with Roethlisberger: In the first half of Sunday's Browns-Steelers showdown, Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson continued to show fantasy owners that he is for real. Anderson, who has been quieting his naysayers regularly, threw three touchdown passes in the first half to give the Browns a 15-point second-quarter lead. However, Anderson was pressured and rattled in the second half and failed to lead his team to another score. The second half belonged to Ben Roethlisberger, who threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, an exciting 30-yard scramble that gave the Steelers their first lead of the day. Enough about Anderson. It's time to give Roethlisberger props for his rise to fantasy prominence. He ended up with 29 fantasy points against the Browns, second-most of any player this week heading into the Monday night game. Roethlisberger has delivered more than 20 fantasy points in three of his past four games and ranks fifth among quarterbacks in ESPN standard scoring with 136 points. It's time to truly consider Roethlisberger an elite fantasy quarterback. He has put a disappointing 2006 season behind him and has picked up where he left off after a very promising 2005 campaign. Roethlisberger makes great use of all his weapons and might lead his fantasy owners to a championship this year. Outside of a major challenge at New England in Week 14, he should provide his owners with fine weekly numbers the rest of the fantasy season.
7hDianna Russini and Adam Schefter
2dESPN Fantasy staff
5dFantasy Football Insiders
6dDavid M. Hale