Must Start: The Top 15
1. Terrell Owens @ DAL –
Randy’s on a bye, which means somebody else ascends to the
top spot this week. No matter how much I’d like that to
be someone else, it’s impossible to ignore T.O. He’s
leading the league in receiving yards and has also tallied a TD
per contest through four weeks. Gotta like his chances of posting
big numbers against old nemesis, Dallas.
2. Chad Johnson @ JAX –
One primetime appearance this season means only one opportunity
for C.J. to shine in front of a national audience. Any chance
he doesn’t take advantage? We’re talking about a guy
with GOLD TEETH here, people. Shinin’ and blingin’
is what 7-11 does best. I’m gonna go ahead and guarantee
another elaborate end zone celebration this Sunday night. Mark
3. Torry Holt v. SEA –
He’s as close to a guaranteed touchdown as you can get outside
of T.O. these days. Of course, it helps when your quarterback
throws the ball more than 43 times per game. With Ike Bruce still
ailing, Holt is the number one option in the red zone…and
the number two option…and the number three option…and
the…. You get the picture.
4. Marvin Harrison @ SF –
That’s a little more like it, baby! Marvin and the Colts
O emerged from their early-season funk to blow up the Titans in
Nashville last Sunday. Specifically, he accounted for 109 yards
and a couple scores in the effort. This week, Harrison draws a
Niners D that will do well to hold Indy to fewer than 30 points.
Translation? He’s a fantastic play.
5. Steve Smith @ ARI –
How he managed only 12 yards against the Pack’s generous
secondary is beyond me. Then again, when you jump out to a huge
lead in the first half, your receivers tend to become less important.
Let’s call it an anomaly and give him another chance this
weekend, shall we? Don’t forget that the Cardinals have
been decimated by injuries in the secondary.
6. Joey Galloway @ NYJ –
Informal poll time: who’s been the more surprising receiver
stud this season, Galloway or the similarly “experienced”
Terry Glenn? As you’ve probably already figured, my vote
is Galloway…but only by a nose. The three touchdowns give
him the edge and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit to see him
tack on another one this Sunday, especially with Cadillac sidelined.
7. Terry Glenn v. PHI –
Not that Glenn hasn’t been equally surprising thus far.
Was anyone really expecting him to average 100 yards per contest
in the usually conservative Tuna offense? Even more impressive
than the per-game totals is his 25 yards-per-catch figure, bested
only by Antwaan Randle-El amongst regular wideouts. Start him.
8. Donte Stallworth @ GB –
If Joe Horn’s healthy, he’s the better start. As of
this writing, however, he’s still listed as questionable.
That makes Stallworth the better pick for now, especially against
a Packers secondary that doesn’t cover well and tackles
even worse. Expect around 100 yards and a score at Lambeau this
9. Jimmy Smith v. CIN –
Smith was the lone bright spot for the Jags last weekend (5 catches,
109 yards, and a score) and though that’s nothing new, we
expected a little more from his associates to this point. They’ll
get there eventually but for now, he’s still the go-to guy
and a good one at that. Keep riding him.
10. Keenan McCardell v. PIT
– Smith’s old running mate managed only one grab last
weekend at Foxboro but in typical McCardell fashion, he made the
most of it (an eleven-yard scoring play). He isn’t Drew
Brees’ favorite target (that would be the next guy), but
he seems to get more than his fair share of looks in the red zone.
Good enough for me.
11. Antonio Gates v. PIT –
If McCardell’s the guy in the red zone, Gates is the guy
everywhere else. He’s tallied no fewer than 80 yards in
his three starts this season and even managed to crack the century
mark for the first time against the Pats last Sunday. Defenses
have had more than enough time to gameplan for him at this point.
The fact they still aren’t able to stop him tells you a
lot about the kind of athlete he is.
12. Anquan Boldin v. CAR –
I still think Larry Fitzgerald is the better receiver but it’s
hard to argue with Boldin’s production so far. In spite
of the uncertainty under center, he’s averaging nearly 100
yards per tilt. If he finds the end zone a few more times, he
could jump into the top 10 by year’s end, no matter who’s
throwing him balls. Give him a go against a Panthers secondary
that was exposed last Monday night.
13. Donald Driver v. NO –
Driver did most of the exposing in Carolina, grabbing six balls
for 92 yards and a score. Unfortunately, he was unable to haul
in the one that mattered most, a 4th down quick-hitter that would
have extended Green Bay’s comeback bid. He’s obviously
Favre’s favorite receiver at this point but he could probably
post better numbers if he demanded less attention from opposing
DBs. You listening, Mr. Ferguson?
14. Drew Bennett @ HOU –
Bennett can certainly relate. He’s the only receiver with
any measurable experience for Tennessee and is finding life a
little more difficult without running mate Derrick Mason on the
opposite flank. Lucky for him, he faces a Texans secondary that
is one of the league’s worst (230 yards/game and ZERO interceptions).
Could be a sleeper this Sunday.
15. Rod Smith v. WAS –
He’s been a sleeper since the turn of the millennium, seemingly.
I’m not sure why folks have written him off exactly but
he has never been outscored by Ash Lelie since the two started
lining up together. Never. Bottom line: if you’re choosing
between the two, choose Smith.
Grab A Helmet:
Larry Fitzgerald v. CAR –
Choosing between him and Mr. Boldin is getting more difficult
by the week. They’ve caught almost the same number of passes
and tallied almost the same number of yards. Only difference to
this point is Fitzgerald’s two touchdowns. Boldin appears
to be getting more consistent looks at the moment so we’ll
stick with him as the slightly better choice…but you could
do a lot worse than Larry Fitzgerald as your #2 receiver.
David Givens @ ATL – Deion
Branch has earned more attention on the other side of late and
that makes Givens a more inviting target for Tom Brady at present.
Though not as slick as the Louisville speedster, Givens is significantly
bulkier and no less capable of turning a quick hitter into a big
gain. I like his chances of scoring for the first time this season
against the Falcons.
Reggie Wayne @ SF – You
always gotta like Wayne’s chances of scoring in the Colts’
juggernaut of an offense, but he’s been slow out of the
gates in ’05. Though he finally scored a touch last weekend,
he’s only hauled in 15 balls in four games and has yet to
top the century mark. How much you wanna bet that changes against
the horrendous Niners secondary this weekend? I wouldn’t
bet against him. Tell you that.
Shaun McDonald v. SEA –
Kevin Curtis has the buzz factor going but this guy’s almost
just as productive. After being shut out in Week 3, he bounced
back last Sunday to lead the Rams in receiving with nine catches
for 121 yards. If you’re absolutely hosed at the receiver
position this week, you might wanna go check the waiver wire.
He could very well still be sitting there.
Chris Henry @ JAX – So
could he. The injury to Houshmandzadeh means Henry will likely
get his first start this weekend, a mere five games into his brief
career. Wanna know how he ran by Kelley Washington on the depth
chart? Watch him play this Sunday night. He looks lanky and almost
languid but he’s deceptively fast and has great body control.
If he fulfills his immense potential, the Bengals will easily
have the most dangerous receiving corps in the league before too
Grab Some Wood:
Any Detroit receiver v. BAL
– Critics blame Joey. I blame them. Roy Williams has top
5 talent but drops too many balls on the turf. Mike Williams is
too green. Charles Rogers is…well, too INTO green. They’d
better start helping their besieged QB soon or he won’t
be their QB much longer…and they won’t like his replacement.
Brandon Lloyd v. IND –
Alex Smith owners might be happy with the kid’s promotion
but I doubt Lloyd’s owners are. He could still post decent
numbers as the year progresses but it would be foolish to expect
much at this stage of the game. The kid’s gonna learn a
lot of hard lessons this next month or so, lessons that probably
won’t pay off ‘til next season, for Lloyd and the
Derrick Mason @ DET –
Hard to criticize a guy for following the money but you gotta
wonder what was going through Mason’s head when he signed
up with the Ravens this past offseason. I mean, did he really
think he was gonna be able to turn around the Ravens’ pathetic
passing attack? If I’m the Baltimore brass, I’m inquiring
about Phillip Rivers’ availability right now.
Antonio Bryant v. CHI –
He’s not a bad spot starter when you’re looking for
a bye week replacement but the matchup isn’t all that great
this Sunday. The Bears might be struggling on offense but that
defense is holding things together and keeping them in the NFC
North hunt. He’ll struggle to get much going against an
opportunistic and physical Chicago secondary.
Laveranues Coles v. TB –
The switch to Vinny may pay dividends for the fleet-footed Coles
in the near future but not immediately and not against Tampa’s
long-ball staunching Cover 2. If he’s gonna do any damage,
it’ll hafta be done underneath. Though that could still
net him some decent numbers this weekend, you’d be better
off waiting to see if the chemistry is still there between him
Best of luck, folks!