Must Start: The Top 15
1. Steve Smith @ CHI –
The Panthers didn’t really need a passing game last week,
which meant Smith’s numbers predictably fell short of expectations.
Just wish I’d have had the nerve to predict it myself. Oh,
well. He gets back on track this weekend against the Bears, though
anything more than 100 yards and a score would be stretching it.
2. Randy Moss @ WAS –
He’s well off his usual pace thanks to a spate of injuries
suffered earlier in the year. Nevertheless, he still seems to
be good for five or six catches a week. Considering that he scores
about once every six times he touches the ball, you should definitely
start him, especially against a Redskins D that looked pretty
shaky against Chris Simms (!!!) and the Bucs last Sunday.
3. Chad Johnson v. IND –
The Oracle is at it again, folks. Though he stopped short of guaranteeing
a “W” this weekend against the Colts (good move, CJ),
he did promise he “won’t be stopped” by Indy’s
secondary. Nothing like giving an already motivated opponent even
more motivation, huh? Hey, it’s worked before. Start him.
4. Marvin Harrison @ CIN –
The Colts may not NEED to stop Johnson if Marvin continues tearing
things up. He’s gone over the century mark in his last two
tilts and has scored five touchdowns in his past four. If you
needed further proof that the Indy passing game is coming alive,
there you go. Expect another big day in the Queen City, something
along the lines of 75-100 yards and another touch.
5. Plaxico Burress v. PHI –
Unlike Harrison, Plax hasn’t scored in a month. That needs
to change if the Giants hope to take control of the NFC East.
I suspect it will this weekend as the Eagles are a team in disarray
and will spend most of their time trying to slow down Tiki and
the Giants’ top 10 rushing attack. Keep him in there.
6. Santana Moss v. OAK –
Ditto. Moss has been similarly shut out in his last three games
but is still posting enough yards (79 in consecutive games) to
merit #1 WR consideration. This week, he draws an Oakland squad
that is both very generous and very undisciplined. I see him slipping
deep for a long score at FedEx Field this Sunday. Mark it down.
7. Torry Holt v. ARI –
The return of Holt and his running mate, Ike Bruce, wasn’t
the panacea the Rams’ braintrust hoped it would be last
weekend in Seattle. Nonetheless, he did find his way into the
end zone, something he’s done quite regularly since entering
the league some seven years ago. This week, he draws his favorite
NFC West foe, the beleaguered Cardinals. Expect 75-100 yards and
a score in the St. Louis victory.
8. Larry Fitzgerald @ STL –
At what point does Fitzgerald begrudge family friend Denny Green
for dooming him to a life of defeat and despair in Arizona? He’s
putting up nice numbers, sure, and will almost certainly be a
Pro Bowler, but the wins have been (and will continue to be) few
and far between until the Cardinals find a running game…and
a quarterback…and a defense…and a clue. Start him,
9. Joey Galloway @ ATL –
Galloway continues to amaze with his resurrection act, having
now scored in six of his last seven games. Even better? He’s
averaging nearly 100 yards per contest. Give him the start against
the Falcons this Sunday. He should be good for another 100 and,
if you’re lucky, a score.
10. Antonio Gates v. BUF –
He’s gone for 145 and 132 yards in his last two games, respectively.
How many other tight ends are capable of that? I can think of
one, maybe two. Of course, he sweetens the deal by regularly scoring
six-pointers, as well (six on the season). Somebody really needs
to explain to me how the Chargers are only 5-4. Simply doesn’t
11. Donald Driver v. MIN –
Driver’s coming off his third 100-yard game of the season
and now gets a Vikings D he torched for 114 yards in Week 7. There’s
a solid chance the Pack will have Robert Ferguson back for this
one, as well, so you could see Mr. Driver draw more single coverage
than he’s used to of late. Start him and expect nothing
less than 75 yards on Monday night.
12. Rod Smith v. NYJ –
Everyone’s talking about Jake and the two-headed rushing
attack but this guy is the real heart and soul of the new-look
Broncos. He catches everything thrown his way, makes semi-regular
trips to the end zone, and is the league’s best run-blocking
wideout, with apologies to Hines Ward. Give him the start against
a Jets team that might just be mailing it in at this point.
13. Hines Ward @ BAL –
Not that I wish to denigrate Mr. Ward in any way whatsoever. He’s
still one of the most complete players in the NFL and has been
the glue holding this team together as they make do without their
leader, Big Ben. Give him the nod against a Baltimore team that
has lost its way.
14. Joe Horn @ NE – Would
you believe the Pats are fielding the second-worst pass defense
in the league? Perhaps that explains why they’re fighting
for their playoff lives instead of preparing for another free
skate through the postseason. Horn was held in check his last
start but should find plenty of room to roam in the New England
secondary this Sunday. Get him back in there.
15. Roy Williams @ DAL –
How does a guy who’s clearly limping around catch seven
balls for 117 yards and three scores? The Cardinals should be
ashamed of themselves. At least he and Joey appear to have re-established
the connection they shared last season when Williams, a rook,
caught eight TD passes. Start him against Dallas’ decent,
but not great, secondary this Sunday.
As you can probably tell, I’ve been pretty strapped for
time this week, folks. That’s a not-so-cleverly-disguised
excuse for why I won’t be listing anymore wideouts. If you
have specific questions about someone else, please e-mail me.
I’ll be able to answer most questions by game time.
Best of luck, folks!