Sorry for the delay, folks. It's holiday shopping season and Mrs.
Shot Caller is threatening to spend every last rainy day dime if
I don't step away from the TV set (not to mention the computer)
and help her out. If you have questions about players not mentioned,
please feel free to e-mail me. I can answer any and all queries
by game time.
your Week 14 recommendations
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning @ HOU - When
425 yards and three touchdowns is considered an "off"
day, you know he's in the midst of a record-breaking season. Peyton
now sits five shy of the magic mark and could very easily reach
it this weekend against a Texans squad that has surrendered a
league-worst 29 TD passes. It's the perfect fantasy storm (record-setting
QB v. awful D), just in time for the playoffs.
2. Daunte Culpepper vs. SEA
- He was badly outplayed by (gulp!) Chad Hutchinson last week
and needs a big bounce-back game to get himself and the Vikes
back on track. Enter the horrifyingly bad Seahawks D coming off
a deflating loss and a short week. Expect Daunte to put up huge
numbers in a game that promises to feature plenty of O and very
3. Donovan McNabb @ WAS - Wait.
I think he just threw another TD pass. Nope, false alarm. Stupid
flashbacks. Don's first HALF against the Pack (303 yards and five
scores) was likely enough to lead you to victory last week. He
probably won't be as successful this Sunday against a tough Washington
D but at this point, can you afford to bet against him? He's ALREADY
set a career high for touchdown tosses.
4. Trent Green @ TEN - The Chefs
have been nothing short of dreadful this year but imagine where
they'd be without Green running the show. Despite questionable
receivers and a decimated backfield, he keeps trucking along to
the tune of 282.7 yards a contest and a stellar 95.6 rating. This
Monday, he draws an equally disappointing Titans group forced
to start two rooks in the secondary. Oh, goody!
5. Michael Vick vs. OAK - Despite
a godawful performance in Tampa, Vick and the Dirty Birds seem
to be the only legit team standing in the way of Philly and a
trip to Jacksonville. That says a lot about the state of the NFC
right now. If he didn't kill your playoff hopes last week, give
him another look against a Raiders squad giving up lots of yardage
and even more points (27.3 per game).
6. Jake Delhomme vs. STL - Predictably,
Delhomme had his way with the Saints last week and now has his
team in position for a playoff berth. Despite just one touchdown,
he completed over 75% of his passes for almost three bills. He
should surpass those numbers this weekend against a St. Louis
team whose defensive numbers are deceiving at best (they've played
Miami, Arizona, and San Fran twice).
7. Brett Favre vs. DET - Hard
as it is to believe, you'd have been better off starting his backup,
Craig Nall, against the Eagles last week. Of course, if you did
that, you should probably be writing this column, as well. Don't
expect a repeat performance on the now-frozen tundra this Sunday.
He's too good not to bounce back against a suspect Detroit team
he spanked in Week 6.
8. Matt Hasselbeck @ MIN - As
promised, Favre's former understudy came up big on Monday night
(414 yards, three scores, and no picks). Unfortunately, it was
all for naught as his 'Hawks stole yet another defeat from the
jaws of victory. Though still perched precariously at the top
of the NFC West trash heap, a loss to Minny likely dashes their
division title (not to mention playoff) hopes. Expect the pressure
to bring out the best in Hasselbeck, if not his teammates.
9. Jake Plummer vs. MIA - Ugh.
After teasing us with some brilliant mid-season performances,
The Snake has reverted to form of late by missing open receivers
and turning the ball over a bunch (four picks against SD). I wouldn't
wanna rely on him heading into the playoffs but he's usually better
at home and is facing a Miami secondary that made Drew Bledsoe
look like Dan Marino last Sunday. If you can stomach the risk,
give him a go.
10. Aaron Brooks @ DAL - Speaking
of risk, Brooks wrote the book on it
and then penned a sequel
on inconsistency and unfulfilled potential. Despite better-than-average
receivers, a stud RB, and a porous D (the perfect fantasy equation,
it would seem), he's thrown only 16 TD passes in 12 games. So
why the recommendation? He faces a very un-Parcells-like Dallas
D giving up almost 250 yards and over two touchdown passes per
Grab A Helmet:
Vinny Testaverde vs. NO - Thanks
to the emergence of Julius Jones, the 'Boys are starting to look
at least somewhat Parcells-ian on the offensive side of the ball.
Nobody benefits more from the resurgent running game than Jones'
owners and, surprisingly enough, Vinny. He's always been better
as a supplementary weapon and, facing a terrible Saints D, should
post solid numbers this Sunday in Big D.
Drew Bledsoe vs. CLE - Bledsoe
may have thought he was still playing for the Tuna last week as
he went circa-1996 on the usually stingy Dolphins (277 yards and
four scores). I wouldn't count on him doing that the rest of the
way but the matchup with Cleveland is awfully enticing. Go ahead
and start him if you managed to make the playoffs with him at
the helm. Of course, I'll need to know if you actually did that.
Billy Volek vs. KC - Shootout
alert! Volek fills in for the injured McNair again in a game that
promises to look a lot like last Monday night's game (read: points
aplenty). He wasn't half-bad against Indy (269 yards and three
TDs) and should find the KC secondary just as accommodating.
Carson Palmer @ NE - The matchup
appears unfavorable but anybody who completes 29 of 36 passes
for almost 400 yards and three scores against Baltimore (!) (and
wins (!!) deserves the benefit of the doubt. At the very least,
he'll be forced to chuck it more than 40 times this weekend. Though
several of those passes could end up in the wrong hands, I'm betting
several more (two or three) could end up in the right ones (Chad
Johnson's). Give him a go if you can't do better.
Tom Brady vs. CIN - On second
thought, if you're the risk-averse type, you should probably just
stick with Mr. Two-time Super Bowl MVP. His numbers were down
last week thanks to a whole lotta running (50 attempts) and a
lopsided score. The game should be better this week (no, seriously)
and I gotta think he's gonna take a few shots against a susceptible
and young Bengals secondary.
Byron Leftwich vs. CHI - Amazingly,
he hasn't thrown for more than two TDs in a single game this year.
In fact, he's only pulled that trick twice. Nevertheless, he seems
poised to have a pretty big game against a Bears team that simply
doesn't have the talent to compete with most teams. Not to mention,
SOMEbody's gotta put the ball in the end zone for the Jags since
it clearly isn't gonna be Fred Taylor
Grab A Clipboard:
Chad Hutchinson @ JAX - Leftwich's
adversary this Sunday is coming off one of those head-scratcher
performances that leaves you asking yourself: where the hell did
THAT come from? I don't know where the 213 yards and three TDs
came from but I know where they're going: bye-bye. You'd have
better luck catching lightning in a bottle than getting a duplicate
performance from Mr. Hutchinson.
Patrick Ramsey vs. PHI - See
above. Then check out who he's playing. There's no WAY you made
the playoffs starting Ramsey on a regular basis and now is not
the time to start doing that.
Kyle Boller vs. NYG - You know
how I feel about projections but at this point in the season (just
four games to go), they're probably pretty accurate. His projected
TD total? Nine. NINE!!! Nein.
Eli Manning @ BAL - Lucky for
Boller, he won't be the worst QB on the field this Sunday. That
dubious honor will belong to Peyton's kid bro, whose numbers in
three-plus games leave MUCH to be desired (485 yards, one TD,
five picks, and a 41.3% completion rate). Better days lie ahead
but don't expect miracles this season and especially not against
the Ravens in Baltimore.
Luke McCown @ BUF - The other
kid bro, McCown, actually looked pretty good last week against
the Pats (277 yards and two scores). Nonetheless, it's awfully
dicey relying on rookies this late in the campaign, especially
when they're starting just their SECOND pro game
the Bills' stellar D. You get the picture. Find someone else.