K U R T W A R N E R
Kurt Warner is the Giants' new starting quarterback. (AP)
The New York Giants put its future on the backburner this weekend, and decided to take a chance on a former two-time MVP whose fall from stardom has become legendary in Fantasy Football.
Coach Tom Coughlin announced that veteran Kurt Warner -- not No. 1 overall selection Eli Manning -- will be the team's Week 1 starter. The decision came after Friday's preseason loss to the New York Jets. Manning completed 4-of-14 passes for 20 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions in the contest, and looked rattled when under pressure. Warner was much more productive than his rookie counterpart, as he completed 82 percent of his passes and looked poised and confident in the pocket.
Coughlin's decision wasn't difficult when you compare the two quarterback's preseason numbers. Warner has completed 21 of 29 passes for 224 yards and one interception, while Manning has completed 20 of 42 passes for 228 and two interceptions. The one notable statistic (or lack thereof) is touchdowns. Neither Warner nor Manning has thrown for a score in three exhibition games. In fact, No. 3 quarterback Jesse Palmer has thrown the only touchdown pass for the G-Men this preseason.
It would appear that Warner's value will rise, but it's difficult to promote a signal-caller who has thrown four touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his past seven starts. A true Cinderella tale, the chance that Warner's pumpkin will turn back into a coach is slim indeed. Furthermore, there's little room for error or consistent production behind an offensive line that is, well, offensive.
Coughlin is soured with the current state of the line, which is riddled with injuries and question marks. Left tackle Luke Petitgout looked awful against the Jets, and the line as a whole suffered several breakdowns during the loss. The injured back of left guard Barry Stokes is another issue, as is the effectiveness of Solomon Page, who joined the team last week. This makes for what could become a very bad situation for Warner, who has battled injuries and an acute case of fumbilitis over the past two seasons.
Another factor that limits Warner's value is the hostile New York media. The Giants won't be a contender in the NFC, so a few Warner interceptions or fumbles will put the media on attack...and Manning under center. It's difficult to envision a scenario where the rookie wouldn't get a chance to start this season, so Warner's hold is temporary at best.
Based solely on his past successes and the slim potential for a miracle comeback, Warner is worth a late-round selection as a reserve in leagues with 12-plus teams. But when you consider the number of solid quarterbacks and what seems to be a tenious spot atop the depth chart, it's not advised to utilize Warner in a prominent role.
M I C H A E L B E N N E T T
Michael Bennett(Getty Images)
It was a nightmarish scene for owners who drafted Michael Bennett. During the third quarter of Friday's preseason game against San Francisco, Bennett endured a low hit from 49ers safety Erik Totten and suffered an injured right knee. He was able to walk off the field on his own power, but an MRI revealed a sprain of the medial collateral ligament that will sideline him for up to one month.
That means Bennett will miss the Vikings' Sept. 12 regular-season opener against Dallas. It might also cause the former Wisconsin Badger to miss games at Philadelphia (Sept. 20) and against Chicago (Sept. 26).
With backup Onterrio Smith expected to serve a league-imposed four-game suspension, the Vikings will be forced to turn to a familiar face for support. Veteran Moe Williams, who started seven games last season while Bennett was shelved with an injured foot, is expected to get the call from coach Mike Tice. Rookie Mewelde Moore and Larry Ned will also see an increase in carries, but Williams will shoulder most of the load.
Fantasy Football owners can do a lot worse than to use Williams as a starter while Bennett is out, either as a No. 2 running back or flex-position player. He rushed for a career-high 745 yards last season, and was extremely effective in the first three games. Williams compiled 10 receptions, 387 all-purpose yards and one touchdown during those contests and went on to post a productive campaign.
The potential for Bennett to miss two or three games -- or what could be one-fourth of the Fantasy season -- hurts his value in drafts. In fact, up-and-comers like Kevin Jones, Lee Suggs, Chris Brown and Quentin Griffin should move past him on rank lists. As a result of Bennett's absence, Williams now warrants middle-round consideration.
P R E S E A S O N N O T E S
Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms continued to impress this weekend, completing 11 of 13 passes for 145 yards in a win over the Miami Dolphins. Simms has now completed 70.5 percent of his passes in three preseason games. ... Rams running back Steven Jackson had a huge game against Washington this past weekend, rushing for 125 yards on 25 carries with one touchdown. The rookie remains behind Marshall Faulk on the depth chart, but his upside is incredible. ... Former league MVP Rich Gannon has been flawless in three preseason starts and appears to be back to 100 percent health. He could be a steal in the middle to late rounds in leagues with 12-plus teams. ... Ravens running back Chester Taylor appears to have moved ahead of Musa Smith for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. He rushed for 117 yards on 10 carries against Detroit, and scored on runs of 84 and 10 yards.
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