Fantasy Football By the Numbers: Worry About Delhomme, Graham, Edwards

Craig RondinoneCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 29: Quarterback Jake Delhomme #17 of the Carolina Panthers drops back to pass against the Baltimore Ravens at Bank of America Stadium on August 29, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

It only took one week of NFL action to gray the hair of fantasy football owners.

You should always take a deep breath after the first week of fantasy football and remember that it is only one week. Patrick Crayton is not going to have 2,000 receiving yards, Mike Bell is not winning the rushing title, and Byron Leftwich will not finish with more passing yards than Aaron Rodgers this season, so calm down.

But there are some players that fantasy owners need to be concerned about after Week One. These players were definitely drafted in most leagues, but their poor or non-existent opening-week performances have to make you wonder if these guys will not contribute much in 2009 or if they just had a flukey first week.


Jake Delhomme (Carolina Panthers)

A feeling of deja vu swept over many people while watching Carolina’s train wreck against the Philadelphia Eagles. It brought back memories of the Panthers’ turnover-filled, ulcer-inducing playoff loss against the Arizona Cardinals where Delhomme was the main culprit. He was the king of the calamity again this time, throwing four interceptions before getting yanked off the field like he was a booed comedian at the Apollo Theater.

Delhomme has lost a little off his fastball since having elbow surgery back in 2007. The velocity has not come back yet, which is worrisome.

But what is more worrisome is that his decision-making skills are down near the bottom with Kanye West’s. Delhomme is throwing dying quails into quadruple-coverage, not protecting the ball when he is sacked, and looking as lost as a rookie on the field. If he is not careful Steve Smith might sock him in the jaw.

Carolina’s early-season schedule does not do Delhomme favors—at Atlanta, at Dallas, home to Washington the next three weeks. If Delhomme does not bring in St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan to help him regain his velocity and accuracy, he might not be Carolina’s starting quarterback much longer.


Ernest Graham (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

What happened to Tampa’s three-back rotation system? That seemed to get flushed down the toilet as soon as Cadillac Williams started running like he did about three torn ligaments ago.

Graham was originally supposed to be the tailback on the field for every fifth possession, but that did not happen. Williams had 13 carries for 97 yards, free-agent acquisition Derrick Ward has 12 carries for 62 yards. And Graham? One carry for one yard. Boo-yah!

Supposedly Graham actually told the Tampa Bay coaching staff to keep handing the ball to Williams and Ward because they were doing so well. While his unselfishness will be applauded in most circles, fantasy football owners will boo him heartily. This is why fantasy owners love guys like Brandon Marshall and Terrell Owens. They demand the ball—and touching the ball more often only helps their fantasy owners.

This will likely be a week-to-week nightmare for fantasy owners. There is no telling what could happen next week. Maybe Graham gets 10 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown after Ward feels like being a team guy and takes himself off the field after a one-year loss.

But a healthy Williams and a speedy Ward are better than the average Graham. So while Graham should not be dropped yet in fantasy leagues, you should get the pink slip out of your drawer.


Braylon Edwards (Cleveland Browns)

Fantasy football’s favorite dropper of perfect passes might not drop as many this season, but it will not be because he is using double-sided tape on his gloves or because he has spent countless hours honing his skills.

Edwards had a 16-TD season in 2007 with Derek Anderson throwing to him. Anderson throws a good deep ball. But Brady Quinn is the quarterback now, and Quinn is better-suited in a short passing game rather than being a big-armed missile launcher able to get the ball downfield.

In Cleveland opening loss to Minnesota, Quinn completed 21 passes for 205 yards. He is accurate on passes within the 15-yard range, but outside of that he gets wilder than a pitcher with a bad WHIP. This is the first strike against Edwards.

The second strike is that Edwards has nobody else on Cleveland’s offense that can distract opposing defenses. Slow-stepping Jamal Lewis leads a running game that never makes safeties move up to the line of scrimmage. Tight end Kellen Winslow is now in Tampa Bay. And No. 2 receiver Mike Furrey is a Wes Welker wannabe who only demands single coverage.

This means Edwards should get more attention than your average pastor on Sundays. Teams can put two defensive backs on him regularly without worrying about leaving any of the other Browns in one-on-one matchups because the other Browns deserve no special coverage.

Edwards’ only hopes are that (A) Quinn becomes a better deep passer/Anderson reclaims the job, (B) kick returner Joshua Cribbs becomes Cleveland’s version of Devin Hester and starts playing more snaps on offense, and (C) the Browns will be trailing most of the time, so he can pile up some garbage receptions and catches late in games.

You cannot give up on Edwards after only one bad outing. Receivers with his speed, size and past numbers are harder to find than Jay Cutler fans in Denver. But that does not mean you should assume he will bounce back after his one-catch outing at Minnesota.. It also means you should make sure you have another receiver on your roster ready to step into the lineup if Edwards keeps faltering.