Your Week 9 recommendations, sans the fanfare. As usual, I'll attempt
to answer all e-messages by game time. Have a great week, people,
and don't hesitate to write if you're having problems deciding which
way to go this weekend.
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning vs. MIN -
This probably isn't earth-shattering news but he's the perfect
fantasy signal-caller right now. His offense can't be stopped
and his defense can't stop anyone. Expect zillions of points and
more absurd numbers when he tangles with the equally explosive/generous
Vikes this Monday night.
2. Daunte Culpepper @ IND -
He, on the other hand, needs to get back to being a little less
generous and a lot more explosive. It certainly hasn't helped
he's been missing the best receiver/field-stretcher under the
sun, but it's not like he doesn't have other capable targets.
If Daunte really wants to show us what he's made of, he'll post
large numbers against an atrocious Indy secondary, regardless
who plays (or doesn't).
3. Marc Bulger vs. NE - If football
games were contested between the twenties, he'd be an All-Pro.
Alas, it's red-zone production that ultimately defines a quarterback.
Amazingly, Bulger has only two multiple-TD games thus far, a pitiful
number when you consider he's playing for Mike Martz. Expect him
to make it three this weekend against a Pats team missing BOTH
its starting corners.
4. Donovan McNabb @ PIT - Predictably,
he found the going pretty rough against the suffocating Ravens
D last week (219 yards and a touch). Surprisingly, he could struggle
to do much better against a vastly improved (and confident) Steelers
bunch this Sunday. He has an elite weapon at wideout but not much
else if Brian Westbrook sits again. You heard it here first, folks:
there won't be an undefeated team left after Week 9.
5. Tom Brady @ STL - The quickest
way to go from undefeated to formerly undefeated? Try 43 passes
against just FIVE rushing attempts. Though it could do wonders
for Brady's fantasy numbers, that kind of imbalance will almost
always get you beat in the NFL. Belichick and Co. know this but
might be forced by the hand if Corey Dillon is forced to sit again.
6. Aaron Brooks @ SD - No team
has yielded more completions than the Chargers this season (24.3
per game). That has more to do with their league-leading run defense
than anything, but still means you want quarterbacks who oppose
them. For all his foibles, Brooksy is still pretty good at racking
up yardage and keeping it out of opponents' hands (at least via
the air). He should be good for 250+ and, with some help, a couple
scores at Qualcomm this Sunday.
7. David Carr @ DEN - He's thrown
a touchdown pass in every game but one thus far (the first) and
has yet to throw for fewer than 225 yards in a single contest.
In other words, he's one of the steadiest plays you can make on
a weekly basis. Though he'll likely explode at some point this
season, you're better off expecting the same ol' 10-15 points
he gives you every week.
8. Drew Brees vs. NO - I'm guessing
you've probably noticed he's thrown 11 touchdowns (and just one
INT) since I proclaimed him dead prior to Week 4. A mulligan,
please? It's not like he has a wealth of talent at receiver, either.
Maybe it's time we just gave the guy his due. I can tell you this:
if I owned him, he'd be starting this week against the unsightly
Saints secondary (289.1 yards/game).
9. Chad Pennington @ BUF - His
19 attempts on Monday night were a season low. Naturally, he parlayed
them into his most prolific outing so far (189 yards and three
scores). Go figure. The Jets are still a run-first (and second
third) team but that doesn't mean Pennington won't be a worthwhile
starter here and there. Try him this week against a Buffalo team
he lit up for 300 yards earlier this season.
10. Vinny Testaverde @ CIN -
For a change, the Cowboys ran fewer passing plays than running
plays this past weekend. Not that it affected Vinny's bottom line
much (19 of 24 for 235 yards and three TDs). He'll always turn
it over but if your league doesn't penalize the picks too harshly,
give him a go. He's remarkably productive for a guy his age. One
note of caution: the 'Boys will probably sit him when they drop
out of the playoff hunt (sooner, not later) so use him while you
Grab A Helmet:
Ben Roethlisberger vs. PHI -
What could I possibly say that hasn't already been said about
the kid? He's big, strong-armed, mobile, and unflappable in the
face of pressure. In other words, he's the new gold standard for
incoming signal-callers. All that aside, he may not be the next
great FANTASY quarterback
at least not this year. He'll give
you good numbers but he's only gone over 200 yards once so far.
Just something to think about.
Jake Plummer vs. HOU - He went
over 200 yards twice in the same GAME last week
some. Can't say as though I saw that one coming. Of course, you
never really know what to expect from The Snake. This much I'm
sure of: he won't throw for 500 yards this week. 250 and a score
or two? That's more like it.
Jake Delhomme vs. OAK - The
other Jake has proven to be even less reliable than his notoriously
unreliable namesake. A decimated backfield and receiving corps
is largely to blame but so is his occasionally misplaced confidence.
In fact, he reminds me of another young gunslinger who used to
do too much when his team struggled. They Panthers won't this
week against a brutal and bickering Raiders crew so he's a safe
Trent Green @ TB - After two
sub-par outings to start the year, Green has been positively en
fuego (72% completion rate and nine TDs). He should cool off a
bit against the always-tough Bucs but will always benefit from
having Priest running behind him. Continue to start him.
Matt Hasselbeck @ SF - He's
thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, which should tell you
all you need to know about Seattle's chances of reaching the Super
Bowl this season. That said, he usually feasts upon his new division
mates, the Niners. Seattle will run the ball a lot this weekend
and will have lots of success. With the pressure off, Hasselbeck
should be good for another 200 yards and a touch or two.
Grab A Clipboard:
Kyle Boller vs. CLE - The good:
he finally tallied over 200 yards passing last week. The bad:
he threw only his third touchdown pass of the season (against
one pick). The ugly: he's still Kyle Boller. Rumor has it Anthony
Wright could take his job when he gets healthy. Count on it if
the Ravens are still in the playoff hunt.
Jay Fiedler vs. ARI - Miami
is already out of the playoff hunt and bad quarterback play is
just one of the many reasons why. He could put up decent numbers
here and there but will continue to turn the ball over a lot and
will never threaten the 300-yard mark. Translation? Not enough
upside and too much downside.
Craig Krenzel @ NYG -Try too
much downside and NO upside. Krenzel is better suited to a backup
role but since the Bears have no other options, he's the man.
I'm betting you have better options. Much better.
Mark Brunell @ DET - I finally
had the opportunity to watch him for a whole game last week and
I gotta tell you: he's worse than I thought. His inability to
hit receivers in stride and his alarmingly poor arm strength will
continue to hamper the 'Skins' offense for the rest of the year.
If you're smart, you won't let it hamper yours.
Kerry Collins @ CAR - Arm strength
has never been Collins' problem but he certainly knows a thing
or two about inaccuracy. His interception percentage (4.9%) is
the worst in the league and he doesn't compensate by throwing
a bunch of touchdowns (just four in five starts). In other words,