Must Start: The Top 15
1. Javon Walker vs. MIN - Go
ahead. Get it out of your system. This might be a total homer
call but it's not exactly coming from left field. Walker leads
the league in receiving yardage and has the third-most touchdown
receptions (seven). He's a matchup nightmare for good corners
and it would be a stretch to call Minnesota's corners even good.
Expect a huge game at Lambeau.
2. Terrell Owens @ DAL - Guess
the honeymoon's over? I've been on the business end of a sideline
butt-chewing and I can tell you that was no motivational speech
he delivered to Don last week. I'm sure the two have long since
kissed and made up but keep an eye on the situation. The cancer
that is T.O. spreads rapidly and aggressively, and could ultimately
affect the bottom line.
3. Reggie Wayne vs. HOU - He
only caught three balls Monday night but one of them went for
a score. Soon thereafter, the Vikes took him away, allowing Marvin
to take the reins. Seriously, how are you supposed to STOP this
offense? It's like the mythical Hydra in that you lop off one
head and another appears in its place. Wayne is more of a game-breaker
than Harrison and should be good for another touch this weekend.
4. Torry Holt vs. SEA - He posted
yet another 100-yard day and a score in the losing effort against
the defending champs last week. This Sunday, he draws a revenge-minded
Seahawks crew bent on keeping the ball away from Bulger and Co.
They'll succeed to some extent but not fully. It could be a high-scoring
affair and if it is, you can expect Holt to be one of the many
5. Andre Johnson @ IND - He's
starting to fade a little bit but the matchup in Indy presents
a fabulous opportunity to get back on track. The Texans will need
plenty of points to keep pace and should get them if this guy
can hook up with Carr for a deep ball or two. He will
no avail, unfortunately.
6. Marvin Harrison vs. HOU -
The emergence of alternative threats (namely, Reggie Wayne) has
made him less valuable than in years past
but not much. He's
still the prototypical route-runner and rarely drops passes he
should catch. He should have a big game against a woefully outclassed
Houston secondary this weekend.
7. Joe Horn vs. KC - Like most
of his teammates, he didn't show up against the Chargers last
week (two catches for 21 yards). That's not atypical Saints behavior
(especially this time of year) but he should make amends against
the awful Chefs D at the Superdome this Sunday. I don't expect
New Orleans to win but 20-30 points isn't out of the question
and Horn should contribute to such an effort with a score.
8. Plaxico Burress @ CLE - He's
turned into one of the best bang-for-your-buck wideouts in the
league. Though he only has 24 receptions this year (three per
game), he's averaging 20 yards per and has found the end zone
four times. Finding the end zone one out of every six touches
makes you a Top 10 guy in my book. How 'bout yours?
9. Darrell Jackson @ STL - He's
on pace for a career year and should benefit from the fact he's
the main target of a shaky receiving corps. When your quarterback
doesn't trust other receivers, you tend to see a lot of balls
thrown your way. He should expect to see plenty more at Edward
Jones this Sunday.
10. Chad Johnson @ WAS - It's
clear the switch to Carson Palmer has negatively affected his
numbers this season. That will change in the future but for the
here and now, it's enough to bump him down the list. He should
still post decent numbers against the 'Skins this weekend-especially
if the Bengals are unable to mount a legitimate rushing attack-but
11. Hines Ward @ CLE - The hilarious
T.O. celebration spoof is enough to earn him a Top 15 nod this
week in and of itself. Priceless stuff. Of course, it doesn't
hurt that he actually put the ball in the end zone, as well
He seems to have taken a back seat to Mr. Burress but that doesn't
mean you should forget about him. He's still a Grade A talent
on a Super Bowl contending team.
12. David Givens vs. BUF - He's
starting to change my perception of New England receivers. Though
Brady still shares the wealth to an almost absurd degree, he seems
to have settled on the athletic and physically imposing Givens
as his go-to guy. The former Domer has tallied 100 yards or better
in three straight contests and might just do so again this weekend
if the Bills are able to stymie New England's ground attack.
13. Isaac Bruce vs. SEA - He's
cooled off after a hot start but managed to find paydirt last
week against the Pats. He probably won't do that on a regular
basis (especially while his QB is struggling) but he's always
a good bet for 75-100 yards per tilt. You can live with that out
of your #2 wideout.
14. Tony Gonzalez @ NO - Don't
look now but he's starting to put up receiver numbers again
receiver numbers. After a slow start to the season, Trent Green
is looking to him more and more. That can only be a good thing,
especially this week against a horrific Saints defense. Start
him and watch the fantasy points pile up.
15. Jimmy Smith vs. DET - There's
no telling how the switch to David Garrard will affect him but
there's no reason to think he won't still be the #1 target on
any given down. He's averaging over sixteen yards per reception,
more than such luminaries as T.O., Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne, and
Andre Johnson. Now, if he could just score every once in a while.
Grab A Helmet:
Derrick Mason vs. CHI - It's
been a long time since I dropped him out of the Top 15 but the
possible return of Air McNair, strangely enough, worries me. The
Titans' passing attack hasn't been in synch all year and the injuries
and lineup uncertainty aren't helping. Mason is always good for
80 or so yards (hence, the recommendation) but you should temper
the expectations until some sort of stability is achieved.
Marcus Robinson @ GB - The Vikings
looked like Super Bowl contenders after a snappy 4-1 start (what
else is new?). Unfortunately, the injury to Randy Moss has them
looking pretty average of late. You'd think Robinson could step
into the breach and put up some decent numbers but it hasn't really
happened. He might this week if Coach Tice shows a little faith
in his passing game.
Michael Clayton @ ATL - Move
over Roy Williams. Step aside Larry Fitzgerald. Though less talented
than his more celebrated fellow draftees, the LSU alum is looking
like a legit contender for Rook of the Year honors. He's quickly
entrenched himself as the Bucs' go-to and big-play guy and there's
no reason to think he'll relinquish those roles anytime soon.
Start him against a below-average Falcons bunch.
Larry Fitzgerald vs. NYG - Of
course, this guy's gonna have plenty to say about that ROY business
before all is said and done. His spectacular and seemingly effortless
game-winning grab last week proved why he was so highly valued
by NFL draftniks. As he continues to gain experience and, more
importantly, confidence, he should be a demon by year's end.
Brandon Lloyd vs. CAR - To his
credit, he brushed aside the criticism from team "leaders"
Fred Beasley and Kevan Barlow to put up pretty solid numbers last
week (75 yards and a touch). He's probably not experienced enough
to rely on too much just yet but three TDs in four weeks tells
us he's getting there. Don't forget the Niners throw the ball
all over the place
out of necessity.
Grab Some Wood:
Any Baltimore receiver @ NYJ
- It's a classic chicken-or-the-egg scenario: Is Boller bad because
his receivers stink or are the receivers bad because their QB
stinks? I'm betting the answer lies somewhere in between. I really
couldn't care less, though. It's a situation you want to avoid
at all costs. Always.
Laveranues Coles vs. CIN - The
touchdown reception last week was nice. Unfortunately, it was
delivered by feature back, Clinton Portis. How many times do you
think the 'Skins will be able to run THAT play for a score? Coles
won't be a worthwhile fantasy start until Mark Brunell is shoved
aside at QB. Coach Gibbs' stubbornness notwithstanding, that should
happen later this year. Until then, steer clear.
Amani Toomer @ ARI - Have his
skills really diminished that much? After five consecutive 1,000
yard seasons, he's on pace for fewer than 900 this season. That's
not a precipitous dropoff but it's definitely alarming when coupled
with the fact he HAS NOT SCORED yet this season. I wouldn't drop
him just yet but I sure as heck wouldn't start him, either.
David Terrell @ TEN - For a
featured receiver, he sure does throw up some stinky numbers.
Though he's managed to post a couple 100-yard outings, he's also
managed to be shut out on two occasions and shut down (one or
two catches) on several more. He's not worth your time with anybody
under center, especially Craig Krenzel.
Best of luck, folks!