Thursday, September 18, 2008

Time to hit the panic room

Ever see that movie "Panic Room?"

Jodie Foster's house has this tricked-out, burglar-proof room with four-inch-thick steel doors and security monitors where she can hide and keep tabs on the bad guys in case of a home invasion.

I have a similar room in my house, except mine has DirecTV's NFL package on the screens. It's where I go when I'm panicking about my fantasy teams, and I felt compelled to lock myself in there this past weekend after watching a few frightening performances.

I'm out now, I've analyzed their performances, crunched the numbers, and I'm ready to tell you if it's really time to panic about these guys:

Larry Johnson is not a happy camper in Kansas City after he received just 12 carries (and rushed for just 22 yards) in Sunday's loss to the Oakland Raiders. Johnson accuses the franchise of phasing him out, although critics would argue the Chiefs had to bench him and start throwing the ball once they were down by two scores and the Raiders had shut down the run.

Is this just a case of LJ being his usual disgruntled self? Coach Herm Edwards says he'd like Johnson to touch the ball 20-25 times a game, and we saw that in Week 1 (22 rushes for 74 yards against a good New England Patriots run D). I expect to see a similar workload this week at Atlanta, but I also have concerns about a passing game no one respects and an offensive line that's a shadow of its former run-blocking self. In other words, if Johnson's one of your starting RBs, I hope you have some good alternatives for later in the season.

Cleveland Browns QB Derek Anderson looks nothing like the Pro Bowl quarterback of a year ago, having thrown just one touchdown and two interceptions with a dismal 57.1 QB rating. Part of that can be blamed on the remnants of Hurricane Ike, which created less-than-ideal conditions in Sunday night's game and made Anderson's counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers, look almost as mediocre.

I'm not ready to declare Anderson's 2007 season a fluke yet. Last time I checked, he still has Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow to throw to, and the forecast for this week's game in Baltimore looks clear. I'm not looking for a replacement QB for at least two more weeks - after the Ravens, Anderson plays the Cincinnati Bengals, who he torched for five TDs in Week 2 last year.

Matt Hasselbeck's another struggling QB, but you can hardly blame him now that the Seattle Seahawks' receiving corps has been decimated. The team's lost Bobby Engram, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson, Seneca Wallace and Logan Payne to injury and replaced them with Billy McMullen, Courtney Taylor, Keary Colbert and Koren Robinson - not exactly the most reliable group of pass-catchers.

I don't particularly like any of those guys for fantasy purposes, although Robinson, a former Seahawks No. 1 draft pick, is intriguing. Still, I'm willing to bet Hasselbeck makes them look like stars this week against the lowly St. Louis Rams. The schedule gets tougher from there, so you'll want to have a spot starter in place, but I believe Hasselbeck can weather the storm and still be a viable No. 1 once Engram and/or Branch returns.

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