1 Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers
Unless Brett Favre decides to do some scratching before late August, this guy shouldn't bother sitting down. While Brett continues to sit in Mississippi, his former understudy from Cal will remain under bitter scrutiny unless he's able to lead the Pack to victory in every game — and that's just maybe. Unfortunately, this year's schedule is no hayride. And even if Favre, whose $12 million price tag would require restructuring or the firing of current players, goes elsewhere (the moon?), Rodgers will be second in QB popularity...behind rookie Brian Brohm.
2 Roy Williams, safety, Dallas Cowboys
On a roster that includes lover boy quarterback Tony Romo, egomaniacal receiver Terrell Owens and champagne-room-hot-seat visitor Adam Jones, Roy's rise to this occasion is extraordinary. But Cowboys fans (not to mention the X-and-O experts of TV) no longer think it's cute that Roy occasionally crushes a running back at the cost of providing horrible pass coverage. His remedy for this rise of critical caterwauling was losing weight in an effort to become speedier. If that doesn't work, Williams can always head back to Burger King and look for work as a linebacker.
3 Chad Johnson, wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
Despite catching 93 passes for a career-high 1,440 yards and eight touchdowns last season, Ocho Cinco made the list because of his performance off the field. By the way, he also recently had surgery, but the procedure corrected a bum ankle instead of a busy mouth. Since the Bengals checked in at 7-9 last season, Johnson has been reminding the planet that he'd prefer working for another franchise. Chad, who showed up for mini-camp, will be scrutinized for locker-room-disruption potential if he's not traded and expected to lead his team to the Super Bowl if he is. Admittedly, the guy is quite a dancer.
4 LaDainian Tomlinson, running back, San Diego Chargers
Yeah, I've lost my mind, but did find someone else's. I'm pretty sure this borrowed mind belongs to a Chargers' fans embittered by L.T.'s decision to sulk on the sideline while his team lost a playoff game to the hated New England Patriots. Tomlinson's Q-rating wasn't helped by teammate Philip Rivers who, when L.T. and his knee surrendered after two carries, continued pitching with his own problematic knee. So even though Tomlinson, who now works without Michael Turner, probably will live up to his billing as top fantasy buy in the NFL, his good name may not be restored until he runs for 200 yards during a playoff showdown on one leg.
5 Matt Forte, running back, Chicago Bears
I know what you're thinking, but Rex Grossman's seat burned to the ground more than a year ago. Forte, a rookie second-round pick from Tulane, finds himself as the lead back in an offense that returns only four players who scored more touchdowns last season than middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. With a mediocre offensive line, Grossman and Kyle Orton in a battle for the QB spot, and Marty Booker vying with return superstar Devin Hester for the nod as go-to wide receiver, Forte should feel quite cozy with a bull's-eye on his back.
6 Jake Long, offensive tackle, Miami Dolphins
His chair has been rendered blisteringly hot by a contract ($57 million with $30 million guaranteed) that makes the rookie from Michigan the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. Hey, his supporters can blame inflation for Jake having a much larger bank account than Anthony Munoz — sort of like the listed value of contemporary, top-grossing movies being assisted by the escalating price of tickets. Anyway, Long could be worth every penny if he's able to protect quarterbacks who aren't exactly pocket savvy and lack elite, coverage-beating receivers. But the team president should be easy to please, right?
7 Donovan McNabb, quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
In a town whose fans would ask Santa Claus, 'What have you done for us lately?' the guy suiting up at quarterback never feels comfortable sitting down in Philly. With understudy Kevin Kolb learning more of the playbook every day, the pressure on McNabb will intensify. But he could keep Philly happy by handing the ball to Brian Westbrook and flipping it to rookie DeSean Jackson. Here's some good news: the offensive line returns intact. Here's some bad news: Eagles quarterbacks were sacked 49 times last season.
8 Matt Ryan, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons
Even the commissioner isn't happy with this rookie's contract ($72 million over six years with $34.75 million guaranteed). So with money and circumstance pushing Ryan into duty before he may be ready, the kid from Boston College has no top-flight receivers to find downfield and a career back-up stepping in at running back. The offensive line, which gave up 47 sacks last season, may not be much help either. Matt might find the going easier if he avoids spending some of that loot on a puppy.
9 Matt Leinart, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals
Thanks to a hot tub party and the versatility of cell phone cameras, we've almost forgotten how poorly the former USC Heisman Trophy winner performed in the five games before his injury last season. To be fair, Leinart's rumored body-fat percentage — a speculative call made during a sighting at a local gym last year — was nowhere near as high as his quarterback rating (61.9). If Leinart has twice as many picks as touchdown throws again this season, Arizona fans will be treated to another home stretch of watching Kurt Warner drop the football in the red zone.
10 Reggie Bush, running back, New Orleans Saints
Once hailed as the most electrifying prospect to come down the pike in years, the former USC Heisman Trophy winner sits at 22nd on Fox Fantasy magazine's list of running backs to draft. In two years as a pro, Bush has averaged a modest 3.7 yards per carry with his longest run from scrimmage listed as 22 yards. Legendary teammate Pierre Thomas averaged 4.8 in spot duty last season and mixed in a 24-yard scamper in only 52 rushing attempts. Oh, that's right — Reggie was being used as a decoy.