Must Start: The Top 15
1. Randy Moss v. KC –
Though I wasn’t giving the game my undivided attention (toddlers
are a lot of WORK!), I only saw him single-covered one time. The
result? A 73-yard touchdown snag and an early Raiders lead. He’s
a mismatch against every single corner in the league, which is
why two and even three are generally recommended. Expect his Oaktown
debut to be a smashing success.
2. Chad Johnson v. MIN –
My heart skipped a beat (OK, several) when he limped off the field
at one point. Luckily, he was only suffering leg cramps and returned
later in the contest to post solid numbers (nine catches for 91
yards). This week, he draws a questionable Vikings D and its loquacious
corner, the self-proclaimed “Mouth of the South,”
Fred Smoot. What I would give to be a side judge for this baby!
3. Terrell Owens v. SF –
Even with DeAngelo Hall virtually attached to his body, T.O. managed
to shag seven balls for 112 yards Monday night, every one of them
good for a first down. The chemistry between him & Don was
obviously lacking but that will come in time. Expect similar numbers
and a touch this Sunday as he faces his former mates for the first
time since his messy departure.
4. Steve Smith v. NE –
It’s only one week but he appears to have lost none of the
explosiveness he possessed prior to last year’s untimely
leg fracture. In fact, he looks like he might be a dark horse
candidate to snatch the league’s leading receiver title
away from former teammate, Muhsin Muhammad. Expect another big
day against the Pats, especially if he’s playing from behind.
5. Jimmy Smith @ IND –
Two more 1,000-yard seasons and he’ll be all alone in second
place for most 1,000-yard seasons in a career. Were you aware
of this? I’m starting to think he’s a certain Hall
of Famer, something I’d never considered him before last
season. If you’re expecting an imminent downturn in his
production, I hope you’re not holding your breath.
6. Joe Horn v. NYG – He
wasn’t spectacular against the Panthers last week but he
was good enough to keep several drives alive, including the critical
one (the last one…twice). I’m gonna make my first
guarantee of the season, folks, free of charge: he’ll score
at the Meadowlands this Monday night.
7. Brandon Stokley v. JAX –
You probably think I’m off my rocker but picking the Manning
target du jour is tricky business and this guy seems poised for
a big day. Marvin will demand the most attention (thanks to three
TDs in his last two tilts against the Jags) and that will leave
either this guy or Reggie Wayne free to do some damage. I’m
flipping the coin and going with Stokley, fresh off an 83-yard
performance against the Ravens.
8. Larry Fitzgerald v. STL –
He’s shooting up the charts thanks to a monster Week 1 performance
but let’s not get too carried away. Most of his catches
came when the game was well out of reach and it’s unlikely
the Rams will provide him as many opportunities this Sunday. Still,
13 catches for 155 yards and a score means he’s just as
talented as we think he is. Start him.
9. Torry Holt @ ARI –
Unlike Arizona, the Rams actually HAVE a running game (a good
one), but won’t be able to use it much unless the defense
performs up to snuff. If you’re a Holt owner, you’re
hoping it doesn’t. After all, when Bulger throws the ball
50-some times, you can almost bank on Holt topping the century
mark, as he did last week (125 yards).
10. Nate Burleson @ CIN –
I’m not ready to jump ship just yet but it’s clear
after one week that replacing Randy on a permanent basis will
be much more difficult than replacing Randy on a temporary basis.
He’ll still post awesome numbers (eventually) but he’ll
need a little help. A running game would be a good place to start,
Coach Tice. Coach Tice? Anybody home?
11. Marvin Harrison v. JAX –
I said the Jags would be focusing on him. I didn’t say they’d
be able to stop him. As mentioned before, he’s ripped them
for three scores in the last two matchups. That bodes well for
another big game on the Indy fast track this Sunday.
12. Laveranues Coles v. MIA
– It was a quiet day for Jets receivers not named Chris
Baker (Chris Baker???) but that’s bound to change this weekend
with the Fish coming to town. Sure, Miami played a whale of a
game last Sunday, but they really don’t have the talent
to sustain that effort over the course of an entire season. Expect
a solid day from Pennington’s favorite target at the Meadowlands.
13. Donald Driver v. CLE –
The loss of running mate Javon Walker means Driver resumes his
old role as go-to receiver for the Pack this weekend. Though he’s
certainly capable of picking up the slack, it would help if either
Robert Ferguson or Bubba Franks pitched in some. Give him a look
against a bad and potentially short-handed Cleveland secondary.
14. Deion Branch @ CAR –
David Givens doesn’t appear to be 100% healthy right now,
meaning Branch will be the favored target of Mr. Super Bowl MVP
for the time being. He kicked things off in grand style last Thursday
night with seven catches for 99 yards and a score. Though picking
Pats receivers can be a crapshoot, I think he’s a safe bet
to post good numbers in Carolina this weekend.
15. Rod Smith v. SD –
Like Jimmy Smith, he’s one of those cagey vets who always
seems to slide undetected into the middle rounds of fantasy drafts.
Why? Perception. Unfortunately, perception doesn’t win championships.
Numbers do and he has plenty to back him up, including a seven-catch,
90-yard showing in Week 1. Forget Ash Lelie. Grab the Denver receiver
who’s been there/done that over and over again.
Grab A Helmet:
Plaxico Burress v. NO –
Eli’s new toy showed everyone what he’s capable of
against the Cards on Sunday, hauling in five balls for 76 yards
and a score. If the younger Manning has time to throw, you can
bet he’ll take a couple of shots deep to Plaxico. I’m
betting they’ll connect at least once against a susceptible
T.J. Houshmandzadeh v. MIN –
7-11’s sidekick showed everyone why the Bengals are gonna
be tough to stop this season, grabbing five passes for 75 yards
in the Week 1 blowout at Cleveland. He’s bigger and faster
than most #2 receivers, which means he’s a matchup nightmare
for diminutive corners like Antoine Winfield. Start him.
Derrick Mason @ TEN –
Now that Kyle Boller is injured, it’s safe to recommend
Ravens receivers again. Though Anthony Wright isn’t the
long-term answer at QB, he’s no worse than Boller and potentially
even better, thanks to a set of legs that will get him out of
trouble when protection breaks down. Expect a solid day from Mason
as he squares off against his former mates at Adelphia.
Keenan McCardell @ DEN –
The return of Antonio Gates should mean more modest numbers for
McCardell but how modest remains to be seen. He’s used to
playing second fiddle, after all, having worked as Jimmy Smith’s
running mate in Jacksonville for several years. Keep him in your
lineup if you don’t have a more reliable option.
Keyshawn Johnson v. WAS –
I know I’m breaking my own rule here but it’s hard
to overlook Meshawn’s stellar first week against San Diego
(75 yards and a couple TDs). He doesn’t have game-breaking
speed but he always seems to thrive in Coach Parcells’ offense
and if he’s good enough for the Tuna, he’s good enough
Grab Some Wood:
Charles Rogers @ CHI –
If and when Coach Mooch decides to let the lid off the Lions thoroughbreds,
Roy Williams will be the primary beneficiary. Rogers will hafta
wait and may even end up the #3 guy if Mike Williams matures more
quickly than expected. He’s off to a good start after grabbing
a TD toss in Week 1. Don’t forget about Rogers but wait
‘til he shows you something.
Andre Johnson v. PIT –
He’s a 1,000-yard season waiting to happen but he needs
someone to consistently get him the ball. I’m not sure that
someone will be David Carr at this point. Until improvement is
made, you should probably cut your losses and sit the super-talented
Texans wideout, especially when teams like Pittsburgh come to
Any Buffalo receiver @ TB –
Don’t get me wrong. I love the Losman kid and I think he’s
gonna be a star in this league before too long. For now, however,
he’s being asked to merely not lose games. That means you
should probably steer clear of his targets, Moulds and Evans,
for the time being. He’ll get there, folks. These things
Any Washington receiver @ DAL
– Call it the Kyle Boller rule. If your quarterback puts
up Boller-type numbers, you shouldn’t be starting any of
his prospective receivers. Brunell is definitely capable of doing
a Kyle Boller impersonation this week in Dallas. In fact, his
QB rating last year was actually worse than the Baltimore signal-caller’s.
Need I say more?
Best of luck, folks!