I don't often thank the folks who make this column worth writing
but with Thanksgiving upon us, now seems like as good a time as
any. Thanks, folks! It's been a real blast shooting the football
bull with you this past season and a half. As always, if you have
specific questions about players not mentioned below, feel free
to e-mail me. I'll definitely be able to respond by game time. 'Til
then, your Week 12 recommendations:
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning @ DET - It
isn't often Peyton plays the role of best supporting actor but
that was the case last Sunday in Chicago. While Edge ran over,
around, and through the Bears' overmatched front, his QB completed
just 17 passes for 211 yards and a pick. Oh, and four more touchdowns.
That's a touch almost every four completions. Hope you're not
facing him in the upcoming playoffs.
2. Donovan McNabb @ NYG - Or
him. Don's numbers were eerily similar to Peyton's (18 completions,
222 yards, and four scores) and proof that you always want an
elite signal-caller playing the league's easiest schedule. Believe
it or not, the G-men are one of the tougher teams he'll face the
rest of the way. Not that you'd think twice about starting him.
3. Michael Vick vs. NO - By
comparison, Vick's passing numbers (115 yards and two TDs) were
relatively mundane last Sunday. Of course, he also carried the
ball 15 times (!) for 104 yards (!!!). He draws the league's worst
defense this week and if that doesn't get you stoked, this might:
he faces them again in Week 16 (aka, Championship Week for most
of you). If you're wondering why I drafted him, now you know.
4. Daunte Culpepper vs. JAX
- He hasn't been the same since Randy went down but it appears
he'll have his main man back this Sunday against the Jags. Even
in a limited capacity, Moss makes the Vikes an infinitely more
dangerous group. Expect Daunte to celebrate his return with 250+
yards and at least two scoring strikes.
5. Brett Favre vs. STL - Down
to one healthy back against the Texans (a fullback, at that),
Favre did what Favre's been doing for the better part of 13+ seasons:
he put the Pack on his back and carried them to victory. Though
he only managed one touchdown pass (and two picks), he also threw
for 383 yards (a season high). Look for another huge game (50+
passes and 300 yards) if he doesn't get Batman back next Monday
6. Trent Green vs. SD - Like
Favre, Green threw for a boatload of yards last week (381). Unlike
Favre, he was unable to propel the Chefs to victory. Sounds about
right considering the Pack played Houston and KC, the defending
world champs. Now out of the playoff hunt, Green could make for
a pretty potent spoiler in the weeks to come, starting this week
against the surprising Bolts.
7. Jake Plummer vs. OAK - Speaking
of the playoff hunt, why isn't anybody talking about Denver? Save
for the Pats, no team is better equipped for a postseason run
than the Broncos. They possess a top 10 defense, a shutdown corner,
a chain-moving tailback, and (lo and behold) a quarterback with
playoff experience, albeit limited. I've lobbed a lot of criticism
his way, but Plummer is starting to look like the kind of QB that
can take his team a long way in the second season. Ya' heard it
8. Drew Brees @ KC - If he takes
HIS team deep into the playoffs, it will be the biggest surprise
of the 2004 season. Period. Left for dead after a 1-2 start, Brees
has elevated his game and turned the Chargers into legitimate
contenders. This week, he draws the down-in-the-dumps Chefs and
their 29th-ranked defense. Start him.
9. Tom Brady vs. BAL - The aforementioned
upstarts aside, he's still the gold standard for playoff-savvy
field generals. Though he gets a stern test this Sunday against
the ever-opportunistic Ravens D, it would be unwise to bet against
him, as usual. Expect a modest day (200 yards and a score or two)
and another victory.
10. Marc Bulger @ GB - On paper,
it looks like a pretty sweet matchup for Bulger and his ultra-talented
receiving corps. Then again, if games were played on paper, he'd
be a top three start every week. The fact he isn't tells us a
lot about what kind of QB he is (average) and, by association,
what kind of team the Rams are this season (again, average). Start
him but don't be surprised if he fails to impress.
Grab A Helmet:
Jake Delhomme vs. TB - Only
Matt Hasselbeck has a lower completion percentage amongst regular
starters. Luckily for Delhomme's owners, he's thrown for more
yardage and more TDs than the Seattle signal-caller. That might
not be saying much this year, but it means he's a pretty decent
play for the time being
even against Tampa.
Brian Griese @ CAR - By contrast,
Tampa's guy is completing almost 70% of his passes, good for second
in the league (behind Culpepper) and more than seven percentage
points higher than his career average. I guess it's safe to say
he's found a home?
finally? He draws the stingy Panthers
this week (only six passing TDs yielded thus far) and whoever
gets the best of the matchup, him or Delhomme, will emerge victorious.
Joey Harrington vs. IND - He's
officially been put on notice and needs a big game to maintain
his hold on the job in Detroit. Fortunately, he and the Lions
usually come up big on Thanksgiving. Though it won't be enough
to earn them a victory, Joey should bounce back with a solid game
against the improving, but still questionable, Indy secondary.
Start him if you don't have a better option.
Aaron Brooks @ ATL - In typical
Brooks fashion, he threw for a ton of yards (377), a score, and
three interceptions last week against the Broncos. Oh, and he
again. Though his coach can't, you probably CAN live
with the turnovers and the losses. How long he remains the man
in New Orleans will depend a lot on who succeeds Haslett so start
him (if you must) while you still can.
Steve McNair @ HOU - It wasn't
pretty (209 yards, one TD, and two picks) but it WAS effective.
His Top 10 days are probably behind him but he might still be
an effective starter the rest of the way, especially if Chris
Brown continues to hurt (told you so). Get him in there against
a very bad Texans secondary.
Grab A Clipboard:
Craig Krenzel @ DAL - He's completing
barely 46% of his passes and has now thrown five interceptions
in four career starts. All of which would be fine if he were lighting
up opposing secondaries to the tune of two or three scores a game.
Needless to say, he isn't
and won't. Stay away even though
the matchup looks pretty favorable.
Drew Henson vs. CHI - You like
inexperienced quarterbacks? Pull up a chair. Henson and Krenzel
will bring a grand total of four career starts to the table this
Thanksgiving Day. Since I just told you how many Krenzel has made,
I'm guessing you've already figured out this will be Henson's
first. My advice? Eat lots of turkey during the Lions game and
then snore through this one. Heck, you might not even NEED the
turkey to fall asleep.
Eli Manning vs. PHI - Manning
now has one more career start than Henson under his belt and though
it wasn't a total disaster (nice comeback!), it wasn't exactly
Roethlisberg-ian, either. He was victimized by several dropped
passes, sure, but he also made some rookie-like mistakes that
resulted in costly turnovers. You can expect more of the same
this weekend against a hell-bent-on-pressure Philly squad.
Quincy Carter @ ARI - The Jets
are using a run-first, run-second approach in the wake of Chad
Pennington's injury and that means Carter's value (from a fantasy
perspective, at least) is virtually nil. Don't forget that better
quarterbacks than him have failed to put up good numbers in the
desert this season. Not that he was putting up good numbers anyway.
Patrick Ramsey @ PIT - Ramsey
completed 21 of 34 passes for 162 yards and a pick against the
Eagles last Sunday
and looked like a HUGE improvement over
Mark Brunell. What's that tell you about Washington's quarterback
situation? Unless you're Joe Gibbs, you should have stopped thinking
about Washington's quarterback situation long ago. No.