Must Start: The Top 15
1. Randy Moss v. SD - Despite having caught fewer than five balls per game, Randy has totaled over 100 yards (well over) in three of his first four contests. Imagine what he'd be capable of if the Raiders actually made an effort to get him the rock more often. I don't see why that's so difficult, actually. You throw it up. He catches it. I mean, everyone knows they're throwing it to Steve Smith in Carolina, too, but...
2. Steve Smith @ DET - ...nobody seems to be able to stop him. He's grabbed more than 60% of Delhomme's completions thus far, a percentage that, should it continue, would make him easily the most productive wideout in the league. Don't believe me? Muhsin Muhammad led the league in receiving last season while accounting for only 29% of Carolina's receptions. Again, do the math.
3. Chad Johnson @ TEN - Loved the CPR routine, C.J. (pure gold, baby!), but we REALLY could have done without the whining after the game. Please tell us you didn't mean that? You're the fun diva, the one we look forward to watching every week. If we wanted brooding and bitching and public back-stabbing, we'd just watch T.O. Come on, bro. You're better than that.
4. Torry Holt @ IND - He hasn't tallied fewer than 12 fantasy points (conventional format) in any game this season. I don't know about you but I can live with a guaranteed 12 every week from my #1 wideout. Hell, I could almost live with a guaranteed 12 from my #1 running back! Expect more of the same in Week 6 as Holt and the Rams fall behind early on Monday night.
5. Marvin Harrison v. STL - This guy used to offer guaranteed points but after a couple of clunkers so far this year, he's starting to look like a risky play. The matchup is certainly sweet but it looked even sweeter last Sunday. His totals against the Niners? Two catches for 14 yards. Period. I suspect he shakes it off to the tune of 80 yards and a score this Monday. In fact (drum roll, please), I'm gonna go ahead and guarantee that six. 4-1 on the guarantees so far, folks…for whatever that's worth.
6. Plaxico Burress @ DAL - Can't tell you how glad I am to see him again. Burress left a gaping hole in my receiving corps last week but returns this Sunday to face a Dallas secondary that doesn't match up well with the Giants' talented receiving corps. Provided Eli gets enough time to throw, Plax could be in for a huge afternoon. Get him back in there.
7. Terry Glenn v. NYG - On the other side of the ball, the Giants secondary will be equally outmanned against the resurgent Cowboys passing attack. Glenn is likely to be marked by a guy named Curtis DeLoatch this Sunday, an oversized CB with good strength but questionable wheels. If you're thinking Dallas might send the vet out on a few fly patterns, you're probably thinking what Bill Parcells is thinking. Start him.
8. Antonio Gates @ OAK - He's averaging over 85 yards per contest through five weeks and four games. That's roughly the same average carried by your fearless columnist's favorite wideout, Chad Johnson. How in the world can he NOT be in the top 10? Don't forget we're talking about a TIGHT END here, and not a wide receiver.
9. Santana Moss @ KC - I panned his QB (once again) so I should probably hedge my bets by giving the other half of Washington's productive hook-up a little love. This way, I can't lose. See how that works out? Go ahead and start him against a very poor KC secondary this weekend.
10. Joe Horn v. ATL - "Come hell or high water," said Horn this week when asked about his chances of suiting up against the Falcons. Um, Joe? We know it's just a figure of speech and all, but…. He's always managed to rise above his quarterback's deficiencies so I feel pretty comfortable giving him the nod in San Antonio this Sunday. Besides, it's not like the Saints are gonna have much success running the ball.
11. Joey Galloway v. MIA - Galloway has never even averaged 70 yards per game in his ten-plus seasons. This year, he's on pace for well over 80 per contest. Guess it's never too late to make your mark on the game, eh? Keep riding the wave against Miami's average secondary.
12. Rod Smith v. NE - Of course, another way to make one's mark is to post above-average numbers EVERY SINGLE YEAR, a la Mr. Smith in Denver. He's rarely spectacular but he's almost always steady. Give him a go against New England's ragtag secondary this weekend. You could be looking at 70-80 yards and a score.
13. Keenan McCardell @ OAK - What is this, an AARP convention? McCardell seems to have gone missing since his fast start but I suspect that has a lot to do with the play of L.T. and Antonio Gates. There should be more than enough fun to go around in Oakland this week, meaning he's a good start as your #2 man. Think 50-70 yards and a score and you'll be on the right track.
14. Deion Branch @ DEN - Just when you think David Givens might be the favored target in New England., here comes Deion Branch again. I swear Tom Brady does this to screw with us. OK, that's probably giving him too much credit. Still, I know you've thought it, too. Branch looks like a good start against Denver's questionable back four, whether Champ Bailey plays or not. Go ahead and start him.
15. Joe Jurevicius v. HOU - Everyone's talking about how short-handed the 'Hawks receiving corps is but who was really worth owning outside of Darrell Jackson, anyway? It's about time Hasselbeck had a reliable target to throw the pigskin, too, and Jurevicius definitely fits the bill. He's huge, runs good routes, and most importantly, can catch the damn thing when it's thrown his way. That's more than you can say about most of the pretenders Seattle's trotted out at the position these past few years.
Grab A Helmet:
Drew Bennett v. CIN - He's almost as big as Jurevicius but even more talented. Only reason he ends up here and not up there is because of who he plays for…and who he plays with. McNair isn't the problem but those guys on the other side of the field (Brandon Jones, Tyrone Calico) sure aren't pitching in much. Luckily, Tennessee's tight ends are picking up the slack and making it easier for Bennett to get open.
Chris Henry @ TEN - T.J. Houshmandzadeh has been downgraded to doubtful for Week 6, meaning the rook gets another chance to showcase his stuff for Cincy's hot rod of an offense. He certainly held his own last week, snagging three balls for 85 yards and a crucial late score. He's technically behind Kelley Washington on the depth chart but that doesn't mean a whole lot. Henry is the better choice against Tennessee's crappy defense this Sunday.
Michael Jenkins @ NO - Brian Finneran was the main man last weekend but Jenkins appeared to be Mr. Vick's favorite target through the first few games. Now that the fleet-footed one is back, it's probably time to re-insert the former Buckeye as your #3 guy. He's facing a Saints secondary that was roasted by Favre and the Pack last week and could score if isolated in one-on-one coverage.
Reggie Wayne v. STL - The Rams were lit up by Matt Hasselbeck and the 'Hawks last Sunday, precisely one week after being torched by Eli Manning and the Giants. Come to think of it, they haven't really stopped anyone from throwing the football effectively this season. All the more reason to start as many Colts receivers as you can get your hands on. Brandon Stokley would probably work, as well.
Grab Some Wood:
Any Detroit receiver v. CAR - Your best option appears to be Kevin Johnson this weekend, Detroit's receptions leader through four games. Reread that sentence if you're still wondering whether you should start any Lions.
Any Houston receiver @ SEA - There's only one Texan worth starting, historically, and even he (Andre Johnson) has been a total disaster this year. Fortunately for the other guys, Mr. Johnson won't be playing this weekend. Unfortunately, David Carr will be. No way, folks.
Laveranues Coles @ BUF - Coles surprised last week, hauling in six balls for 89 yards in the shocker at the Meadowlands. However, we shouldn't get too carried away with his performance. He will be facing a much stiffer opponent this weekend (Buffalo and its #1 ranked pass defense) and doesn't play in the kind of offense that tends to produce great fantasy numbers. This one has all the makings of a 13-10 bore-a-thon.
Hines Ward v. JAX - He's not a lock to play, first of all, and even if he does, it may not be with Ben Roethlisberger. Too many variables for my taste. Go with your next-best guy and wait for Ward to get healthy. Shouldn't be too much longer. He's one of the league's tough guys.
Best of luck, folks!