Fresh off a 3-0 weekend and brimming with self-confidence, the Shot
Caller returned to his utility closet-office this past week only
to be greeted by a curious co-worker/league mate and the following
hand grenade of a question: "Do you write a column for the
FF Today website?" Uh-oh. I suppose it was only a matter of
time, really, but the cat is most certainly outta the bag. I have
now officially been placed in the awkward and unenviable position
of attempting to win a league title while simultaneously assisting
those who intend to keep me from doing so. Talk about your conflicts
of interest! Suffice it to say I would NEVER stoop so low as to
dish out bogus advice in order to secure the office championship
that's what you were thinking. Between you and me and the goal post,
thoughIt was awfully tempting.
Here are your Week 2 recommendations.
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Daunte Culpepper @ PHI -
He tallied almost as many touchdowns (five) as he did incompletions
(six) against the Cowboys. Not hard to figure how he's the highest-rated
passer after one week of play, is it? Daunte looks supremely poised
in the pocket and is even spreading the ball around a la the Ol'
Gunslinger (completions to nine different receivers on Sunday).
That means he's maturing into an all-world QB. Look out.
2. Peyton Manning @ TEN - Not
including his own two carries, the Colts ran the ball 40 times
in Foxboro (against 29 passes). Does that mean we should expect
less from Peyton and Co. in the passing game this year? Hardly.
You take what the defense gives you and it seems unlikely Tennessee
will give Edge and the Indy backs as much room to roam as New
England did. Peyton is a great start in a game the Colts cannot
afford to lose (and won't).
3. Chad Pennington @ SD - C-Mart
stole the headlines but Pennington was razor-sharp in his first
opening day start. What else is new? The guy's completed over
two-thirds of his career passes and can also boast of a two-to-one
TD-to-INT ratio. Newsflash: he's an upper-echelon NFL signal-caller
RIGHT NOW! Forget about the future.
4. Michael Vick vs. STL - The
numbers weren't staggering but those who watched him against the
Niners know he played within himself for the most part, demonstrating
laser-like precision and good decision-making skills for the most
part. And to think some wondered (aloud) this preseason whether
Matt Schaub is a better fit for this offense. Patently ridiculous,
my friends. Stick with Vick in '04.
5. Steve McNair vs. IND - Fourteen
pass attempts? We'll give him an "incomplete" for his
Week 1 performance in South Florida but we're expecting more-MUCH
more-against the awful Colts secondary. Keep your eyes peeled
for any news on Chris Brown's status as a healthy Brown means
less from McNair (and vice versa).
6. Marc Bulger @ ATL - I'm bearish
on him at the moment and it has everything to do with his inability
to avoid big mistakes. He's lucky a second pick in Sunday's game
was called back (defensive holding) since the Cards took it 90
yards the other way for an apparent score. If he doesn't cut down
on the boneheaded plays, he won't achieve the kind of success
he's capable of achieving. Neither will you. Beware.
7. Donovan McNabb vs. MIN -
His scrambling TD toss to T.O. was a thing of beauty and perhaps
(Philly fans hope) a sign of things to come. I'm still worried
about his other targets (what other targets?) so I'm not shooting
him up the list just yet. I do, however, own him in one of my
dynasty leagues so don't go callin' me a hater (you know who you
8. Tom Brady @ ARI - Corey Dillon
owners were probably aghast after the Pats' first series last
Thursday night. Eight straight no-backs sets? Though Dillon eventually
got some touches, Brady threw more passes (38) than all but three
QBs last week (three losing QBs, mind you). Make no mistake about
it: Charlie Weis intends to control the ball with a short passing
game. That means you want Brady.
9. Brett Favre vs. CHI - Like
McNair, he was emasculated by a conservative game plan in Week
1. That tends to happen when your backs are running ROUGHSHOD
over the "best front seven in football." Batman and
Co. should do the same against an unspectacular Bears front but
I still see Favre taking advantage of the strong running game
and throwing for a few scores.
10. Matt Hasselbeck @ TB - Tampa's
gonna stink this year but don't blame a still-stalwart defense.
Sure, Portis got his yards but the 'Skins weren't able to do a
thing through the air last week. I suspect Hasselbeck will have
a little trouble navigating the airways, as well
if Shaun Alexander is unable to go.
Grab A Helmet:
Drew Brees vs. NYJ - Didn't
he start off last year with a bang, too? Brees may not have much
to work with at wideout but he does have a luxury tailback lining
up behind him every week. He looked sharp in Houston (209 yards
and two touches) and could post big numbers at home this week
against a Jets team that struggled to contain the very inexperienced
Aaron Brooks vs. SF - I took
a little heat for not including him last week so I may as well
give you my general take on Mr. Brooks to avoid future confusion.
I like him. I don't love him. He puts up solid numbers but makes
precious few game-altering plays. Start him if you can live with
200-some yards and a touchdown on the average.
A.J. Feeley @ CIN - He paid
dearly for one poorly thrown ball against the Titans (a second
half pick-six) but performed admirably overall. Though there's
no such thing as job security in Miami, he's been assured he won't
be yanked like his cohort, Mr. Fiedler, if things get off to a
rocky start. With a rookie CB on one side of the field and two
experienced receivers at his disposal, that seems unlikely. He's
a sneaky play this week.
David Carr @ DET - There was
talk of a playoff push in Houston this offseason but an opening
day loss to the Bolts might disabuse some of that pipe dream.
That said, Carr wasn't as bad last Sunday as his numbers might
indicate. He completed 76% of his throws (tops in the league for
starters) and will be facing a Lions secondary sans its best corner
('Dre Bly). Look for Mr. GQ to hook up with Andre Johnson for
at least one scoring strike.
Carson Palmer vs. MIA - Forget
the game-clinching INT. This kid is gonna make Marvin Lewis look
pretty smart this year. He can make all the throws (especially
the deep ones) and can even tuck and run (well, mind you) when
he has to. He may throw a pick against the savvy Fish secondary
but 300 yards and two or three scores is not out of the question.
Grab A Clipboard:
Trent Green vs. CAR - Eddie
Kennison's numbers were skewed by a long catch-and-stumble (and
fumble) early on but overall, the deficiency at wideout was obvious
in Denver. Tony Gonzalez faced constant double-teaming and couldn't
find any room to negotiate. Expect better numbers from Green in
Week 2 but nothing groundbreaking. Why? Because Priest Holmes
is gonna go Ahman Green on a suddenly susceptible Carolina D.
Rex Grossman @ GB - As promised,
he's the worst starting QB in the league so far (43.4 rating).
Though well protected by a veteran line, he tends to lock on to
his receivers and, even worse, isn't all that accurate when he
does sling it to them. I'm not saying he'll NEVER become a legit
NFL QB but I AM saying it won't happen this year.
Brad Johnson vs. SEA - Short
the disgruntled McCardell and injured Galloway, Johnson is almost
completely bereft of weapons at receiver. The result? He's gonna
have a hard time improving on his pedestrian Week 1 numbers (4.57
lowest in the league). Did I mention he's almost
as immobile as Vinny Testaverde?
Jake Plummer @ JAX - His decision
to go southpaw at the start of the second half, though hilarious,
was characteristic of his decision-making skills in general: poor.
The resulting interception got KC back in the game and COULD have
cost the Broncos a big win. It didn't but there will come a time
(soon, perhaps) when it does. The Jags play good defense and it
wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see the Snake struggle
Kyle Boller vs. PIT - Teams
are loading up to stop Jamal Lewis and why shouldn't they? Boller
has shown no ability to make them pay for such a one-sided approach.
Until he does, expect the Ravens to continue struggling.