Adrian Peterson: Believe the Hype
Greetings, fantasy footballers! For those of you stopping by "Wide Write" for the first time, here are the ground rules. For quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers/tight ends, we'll list the following categories each week:
GOOD: A player who gave you stats over and above what you expected in the most recent week's game. Even when LaDainian Tomlinson gets 198 yards rushing and four touchdowns like he did on Sunday, he probably won't appear here unless nobody else had a big week. You expect the big games from L.T., right? Same goes for Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, etc.
BAD: Anyone here is fair game — a quarterback who threw four interceptions, a running back who totaled nine carries for 11 yards, etc. If you're mad at one of your fantasy players, so are we. But only one guy gets the weekly (dis)honor.
THIS WEEK'S PLAY: This section will feature more questionable players than surefire fantasy starts for the upcoming week. The way my picks have been going lately, I've considered employing the George Costanza "whatever thought comes to mind, do the opposite" strategy, but instead I'll play like a streak shooter in basketball. Even when I miss 20 times in a row, I'm going to keep firing until the shots start to fall.
GOOD: Brian Griese, Chicago
I had a feeling about this guy — read this if you don't believe me. The Bears had enough weapons to score 427 points in 2006 — tied with the Colts for second in the NFL — and Griese was bound to put up decent numbers after replacing Rex Grossman.
In a losing effort against the Vikings, Griese completed 26 of 45 passes for 381 yards and three touchdowns, along with a pair of interceptions. Everything seems to point to more good numbers from Griese — wide receiver Bernard Berrian is healthy, kickoff specialist Devin Hester caught an 81-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter on Sunday and rookie tight end Greg Olsen is becoming a force. Unless you have a stud QB, Griese should probably start for you unless he's facing a very tough opponent.
Honorable mention: Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle (26-43, 362 yards, 2 TD); Damon Huard, Kansas City (25-35, 264 yards, 2 TD)
BAD: Vince Young, Tennessee
I hate to include an injured player here, but you didn't want a blank space, did you? Thanks to some tremendous running skills, you probably drafted Young as a starter, and that's not working out so well.
When he left midway through the third quarter of Sunday's game with an injured quadriceps, Young had just 120 yards passing, six yards rushing, a fumble and an interception. For the season, he has 703 yards passing and 129 yards rushing in five starts, with four combined TDs and six pickoffs. Young's injury is being called day-to-day, and you should make sure he's 100 percent healthy before considering him for another start.
THIS WEEK'S PLAY: Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay
Garcia has been playing solid football for the Bucs, throwing for 1,188 yards in six games with a 103.6 rating and five touchdowns against no interceptions.
This week, Garcia faces the Lions, who have allowed a putrid 155 points in five contests and are 30th in the NFL with 263.6 passing yards allowed per game.
Also, remember that the Bucs have no running game to speak of, meaning that almost every yard they gain will have to come through the air. Unless your QB is an every-week play like Manning, Brady, Romo, etc., Garcia looks to be a good start on Sunday.
GOOD: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota
Peterson's nickname is A.D., which stands for his childhood moniker of All Day (as in, "he can run All Day"). A.D. announced his fantasy superstardom Sunday with an electrifying 224-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Bears, with the scores going for 67, 73 and 35 yards. Though just a rookie, Peterson leads the NFL with 607 rushing yards despite splitting carries with veteran Chester Taylor.
Though LaDainian Tomlinson is the current top fantasy running back, he's atypical of a guy you'd normally want in that position. Pre-L.T., you always looked for a stud back who was fast enough to break the long runs, and enough of a bruiser to knock people over at the goal line.
That's Peterson — it's as if God created him to be on your fantasy team. Next year, if you have anything lower than the second pick in your draft, you're going to have trouble getting him.
By the way, one Vikings fan blog has nicknamed Peterson "Purple Jesus," which I think I like better than "All Day." You have to be really good to pull off a nickname like that.
Honorable mention: Maurice Jones-Drew (12 carries, 125 yards, 2 TD)
BAD: Rudi Johnson, Cincinnati
After missing a game with a hamstring injury, Johnson was activated for Sunday's game against the Chiefs. Fantasy owners around the country who had taken Johnson in the first round of their drafts breathed a sigh of relief. Then their fantasy linchpin put up a four-carry, eight-yard performance. Don't hurry back so fast next time, OK, Rudi?
THIS WEEK'S PLAY: Thomas Jones, New York Jets
The Bengals' defense can't seem to stop anyone (29th in the league against the run), so this play depends on whether you think they're finally going to step up and take a stand or continue their subpar play.
I'm not as optimistic about their chances as I am about the resurgence of Jones, who broke through with a 130-yard day against the Eagles last week.
Jones was a second- or third-round pick in many drafts, but he started slow this season thanks to a calf injury, frustrating many fantasy owners. The Bengals appear to be the perfect opponent for a back who's hitting his stride. If Jones is on your roster, make sure he's in your lineup this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
GOOD: Wes Welker. New England
Every week, Tom Brady must feel like he's a kid playing against the worst team in his Pop Warner league, as a bunch of terrific receivers run around with their hands up yelling, "Tom! TOM! I'm open! THROW IT!"
Welker was this week's New England receiving lottery winner, catching 11 passes for 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Cowboys. He narrowly edged out teammate Donte Stallworth, who had seven receptions for 136 yards and a score. If you haven't seen the Pats, they're not bad.
Honorable mention: Stallworth, New England; Kevin Curtis (5 receptions, 121 yards, 1 TD); Kevin Walter, Houston (12 receptions, 160 yards)
BAD: Santana Moss, Washington
Moss wasn't content to be invisible with his no-catch, no-yard performance. Nope, he also had to fumble a ball that the Packers returned for a touchdown, and then bench himself — you read that correctly — because he didn't want to "let the team down any more than (he) already did."
You'd have been better off if Moss had taken another week off to heal his injured groin, instead of letting his active status sucker you in to starting him like I did. Ugh.
THIS WEEK'S PLAY: Calvin Johnson, Detroit
Johnson is the Adrian Peterson of wide receivers, and he should become a monster any time now.
The No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft has struggled so far, with just 11 catches for 192 yards, and he's been hobbled recently by an injured back.
Johnson did catch four passes in each of his first two games this season, and reports from Detroit indicate that he got healthier during the Lions' bye week. Check Johnson's playing status over the weekend before making any final decisions, but if he plays, he should start to showcase his immense talents soon.
John Halpin covers fantasy sports for FOXSports.com, writing a morning football blog Sundays through Thursdays and baseball columns once or twice each week, depending on the season. His "Wide Write" will appear every Tuesday during the NFL season on FOXNews.com. Send him an e-mail at email@example.com.