Glenn Graham's Fantasy Football Picks

The Kickoff

September 07, 2006|By GLENN GRAHAM

PLAY OF THE WEEK

LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego at Oakland -- All the fantasy draft talk centered around the big three running backs: Kansas City's Larry Johnson, Seattle's Shaun Alexander and Tomlinson. Round 1 goes to Tomlinson, who shows he's more than ready to carry the Chargers' offensive load while quarterback Philip Rivers settles in. Up against a vulnerable Oakland defense on the Monday night stage, expect Tomlinson to rack up plenty of total yards and find the end zone.

POSITION ANALYSIS

QUARTERBACK

STARTING NOD -- Kurt Warner, Arizona vs. San Francisco. Warner and the league's most talented receiving tandem - Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin - will provide offensive fireworks as the Cardinals welcome the 49ers to their new stadium. The veteran quarterback averaged 270 passing yards in 10 games last season, and the addition of running back Edgerrin James could enhance the passing game.

OTHER SOLID OPTIONS -- Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle at Detroit; Carson Palmer, Cincinnati at Kansas City; Tom Brady, New England vs. Buffalo.

TAKE A SEAT -- Michael Vick, Atlanta at Carolina; Brett Favre, Green Bay vs. Chicago; Brad Johnson, Minnesota at Washington.

RUNNING BACK

STARTING NOD -- Tiki Barber, New York Giants vs. Indianapolis. Finally getting some respect in fantasy drafts, Barber, 31, will continue to showcase his versatile skills as a runner and receiver. Accounting for 2,390 total yards and 11 touchdowns last season, Barber will again be the focal point in the Giants' multifaceted offense. With second-year runner Brandon Jacobs the Giants' primary goal-line option, Barber will have to break some long runs to consistently produce touchdowns.

OTHER SOLID OPTIONS -- DeShaun Foster, Carolina vs. Atlanta; Reuben Droughns, Cleveland vs. New Orleans; Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia at Houston.

TAKE A SEAT -- Julius Jones, Dallas at Jacksonville; Willis McGahee, Buffalo at New England; Kevin Jones, Detroit vs. Seattle.

WIDE RECEIVER

STARTING NOD -- Chad Johnson, Cincinnati at Kansas City. How will Johnson get around the NFL's new touchdown celebration rule? Find out Sunday at Kansas City. With Palmer looking healthy and sharp, Johnson should pick up where he left off last season when he caught 97 passes, including nine for touchdowns.

OTHER SOLID OPTIONS -- Torry Holt, St. Louis vs. Denver; Boldin, Arizona vs. San Francisco; Javon Walker, Denver at St. Louis.

TAKE A SEAT -- Hines Ward, Pittsburgh vs. Miami; Joey Galloway, Tampa Bay vs. Ravens; Keenan McCardell, San Diego at Oakland.

TIGHT END

STARTING NOD -- L.J. Smith, Philadelphia at Houston. Smith was on pace for an 80-catch season until quarterback Donovan McNabb was injured last season, and finished with 61 catches for 682 yards and three touchdowns. McNabb is back and healthy, and Smith will get the ball plenty in the Eagles' opener.

OTHER SOLID OPTIONS -- Chris Cooley, Washington vs. Minnesota; Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City vs. Cincinnati; Ben Watson, New England vs. Buffalo.

TAKE A SEAT -- Jason Witten, Dallas at Jacksonville; Randy McMichael, Miami at Pittsburgh; Dallas Clark, Indianapolis at New York Giants.

KICKER

STARTING NOD -- Neil Rackers, Arizona vs. San Francisco. Who better to start with than last year's top kicker, who converted 40 of 42 field-goal attempts and finished with 140 points? The Cardinals should spend most of the afternoon in the red zone against the 49ers, giving Rackers ample chances.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

STARTING NOD -- Carolina vs. Atlanta. The Panthers have one of the NFL's top front lines, led by end Julius Peppers, who finished with 9 1/2 sacks. Last season, the Panthers had 38 turnovers - 23 interceptions and 15 fumbles - and 45 sacks. Catching up with the elusive Vick is their first order of business.

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