M O E W I L L I A M S
Moe Williams will begin the regular season as the No. 1 running back in Minnesota.(Getty Images)
Just a week ago we discussed the disappointing situation in Minnesota surrounding the four-game suspension of Onterrio Smith, due to a substance abuse violation.
At that time, however, it didn't appear as if Smith's presence would be missed that greatly as Michael Bennett was solid in his role as the No. 1 running back for coach Mike Tice.
How quickly things change in the world of Fantasy football.
In a preseason game last Friday against San Francisco, Bennett took a hit by 49ers safety Erik Totten to his right knee. Vikings officials were cautiously optimistic that their starting back was fine, but an MRI exam the next day revealed more damage than initially predicted.
Tice now knows he will not have the services of Bennett for the opening game against Dallas, and it may be wishful thinking for the former Wisconsin track star to be back for the Week 2 Monday night game at Philadelphia.
With Bennett and Smith both on the sidelines, the door has opened for running back Moe Williams. The eight-year veteran was projected to serve as the No. 3 back this season, primarily being used in third-down situations. For the present time, his role has changed drastically.
Williams will now start for the Vikings in Week 1, though his role beyond that point will obviously be determined by the health of Bennett. However, with Smith out the first four weeks, owners of Williams could see some very nice production to start the season from a back that can be picked up in the late rounds of a draft.
Despite being used in a reserve role for most of his career, Williams has shown to be quite production when given the opportunity.
In 2003, Williams was used to a greater degree than ever before. For the year, he ended up with more than twice the carries (174) and receptions (65) than he had ever seen in any previous season.
Williams took advantage of his chances, racking up 1,389 rushing and receiving yards combined and reached the end zone eight times. Not too shabby for a third-down back.
Owners entering the season without a solid No. 2 back or faced with a tough Week 1 matchup could do a lot worse than to pick up or draft Williams and activate him. For example, Williams is definitely a more attractive Fantasy option in Week 1 than Travis Minor or any Miami running back that will be facing the Titans' defense.
In larger leagues, owners should take a look at Mewelde Moore as a reserve. The rookie from Tulane will start the season as the backup to Williams and should see a few opportunities in that role.
J O H N N I E M O R T O N
Johnnie Morton(Getty Images)
Having the No. 2 passing offense in the NFL in 2003, you would think Kansas City would be chock full of attractive Fantasy wide receivers. Furthermore, you would assume the team's No. 1 receiver would be a sure bet to be selected among the top tier of players at his position.
The 2004 season is not starting well for Johnnie Morton.
The 10-year veteran has been out since the second week of training camp when he suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon. It has continued to linger, and it appears the Chiefs front office is beginning to doubt seeing Morton on the field anytime soon.
At the very least, his status for the season opener is very bleak. Coach Dick Vermeil recently told the Kansas City Star, "In my own mind, I've written him off for the opener."
This is a microcosm of Morton's tenure in Kansas City, time that can best be described as disappointing.
In four of the past five seasons in Detroit, Morton was a 1,000-yard receiver. However, since signing with the Chiefs in 2002, the former Southern Cal star has failed to impress.
Granted, tight end Tony Gonzalez has been the No. 1 target for Kansas City quarterbacks for at least five years, but that is no excuse for Morton's poor production. He has only averaged 39 receptions, 568 yards and two touchdowns since leaving the Motor City.
>His absence, combined with the season ending knee injury to Marc Boerigter, has the Chiefs scrambling for viable options at wide receiver.
Eddie Kennison, once the No. 2 to Morton, now takes on the role as the go-to receiver. Special teams superstar Dante Hall for now is the No. 2 option for Trent Green, raising his Fantasy value quite a bit. The No. 3 receiver appears to be an undrafted rookie from Arkansas, Richard Smith, who has had a great training camp.
Morton should still be drafted in most Fantasy formats. However, his lingering injury and lack of production have him falling to a No. 4 spot on rosters.