Thud. That was the sound of the bottom falling out on my fantasy football team and smacking me right upside the head.
Week 3 of the 2008 NFL campaign was the tall, cool glass of hemlock we feared it would be and saw yours truly plummet from first place to third faster than you can say "Willie Parker."
Earnest Graham's 12 carries against the Bears resulted in a not-so grand total of 16 yards and Parker parlayed his 13 rushing attempts into a you're-killing-me-Smalls 20 yards -- while LenDale White and his two touchdowns sat on our bench. Torry Holt hasn't had a quarterback capable of getting him the ball, Tony Romo picked a bad time to be average (and enough with the red-zone interceptions already) and Jason Witten has put up decent numbers but still hasn't reached the end zone.
The news wasn't any better Tuesday, when the Steelers announced that Parker had sprained his left knee against the Eagles and has already been ruled out of Monday's game with the Ravens. Losing Parker for one week, even two weeks, wouldn't be the end of the world, so my fingers are crossed that he'll be good and ready to go by Week 6, when Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati to face the Bengals. If not, we're gonna be in a world of hurt because depth isn't exactly a strong point.
Even with my top running back shelved indefinitely and lackluster production from my No. 1 receiver, it's too soon to blow up the roster, especially when it's unclear how long Parker will be sidelined. We have 14 weeks to go and a lot can happen between now and December.
Besides, it's nothing a couple Romo-to-Witten end zone completions, the Graham of weeks 1 and 2 and a big day from Holt (please, Trent Green, get him the ball) can't fix.
Rocky Mountain High
If you loaded up on Broncos on draft day, congratulations on winning the fantasy lottery and don't expect the clock to strike midnight anytime soon for a number of reasons.
Quarterback Jay Cutler (73 for 108 for an AFC-leading 914 yards and eight TDs), who looks every bit the second coming of John Elway, has emerged as one of the league's premier gunslingers, combining with receiver Brandon Marshall (24 catches for 321 yards and two TDs ... in just two games) to form arguably the NFL's best pass-catch combination.
Cutler has also spread the love, too, consistently hooking up with both rookie wideout Eddie Royal (18 catches,
194 yards, two TDs) and tight end Tony Scheffler (11-168-2).
Denver's success hasn't been limited to the air, either. Running back Selvin Young has carried 26 times for 179 yards (a staggering 6.9 yards-per-carry average) and a TD, Andre Hall has 117 yards on 23 carries (5.1 yards per carry) and four of Michael Pittman's 19 carries this season have produced touchdowns.
Even kicker Matt Prater, this season's Nick Folk and Mason Crosby rolled into one, has turned into a fantasy giant, going 5 for 5 on field goal attempts (with a long of 52) and 13 PATs -- all numbers that figure to grow exponentially because of the opportunities Denver's seemingly unstoppable offense promises to deliver.
And why should those with a vested interest in anything Denver assume the gravy train will continue? A schedule littered with defensive cupcakes, including the Patriots (who were frosted and had sprinkles poured over them by Ronnie Brown last week), Browns, Jets, Chargers and two games against the inept Chiefs, who would call a two-victory season a success at this point. And they still get the Raiders at home.
I had to marry a Cowboys fan.
OUR WEEK 4 LINEUP -- QB: Tony Romo (vs. Redskins); RB: Earnest Graham (vs. Packers) and LenDale White (vs. Vikings); WR: Chris Chambers (at Raiders) and Torry Holt (vs. Bills); TE: Jason Witten (vs. Redskins): K: Nick Folk (vs. Redskins); Steelers (vs. Ravens).
Stu Rosenberg's fantasy sports column runs Fridays. He can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.