It turned into a short week practically overnight, folks. That means
we dispense with the small talk and get right down to business.
If you have questions about anyone not covered in the Report, please
e-mail me by game time Friday night. I won’t be available
the rest of the weekend. Sound good? Off we go…
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning @ HOU –
So I guess he CAN flip the switch whenever he feels like it? Faced
with an early 17-0 deficit, the unflappable Peyton rallied his
boys for 45 points in the final three quarters Monday night, laying
waste to the hapless Rams in the process. This Sunday, he draws
an equally hapless Texans squad stretched way too thin by injuries.
Expect no mercy as the Colts remain comfortably undefeated.
2. Donovan McNabb v. SD –
Don and Co. have had two weeks to stew over the debacle in Dallas
and must now prepare for a dangerous Chargers squad hell bent
on keeping the Broncos within arm’s reach. Though he could
certainly use a little help from the league’s worst rushing
attack (64.2 yards/game), he probably won’t get it. Translation?
Expect 40+ attempts and another huge day at the Linc. He’s
all they’ve got right now.
3. Brett Favre @ MIN –
The Pack looked to be dead and buried after an 0-4 start but just
one butt-kicking performance and two short weeks later, they’re
looking like a serious contender for the NFC North crown. Favre’s
the reason why, as usual. Well, him and the fact the NFC North
might be the worst division in NFL history. Forget about his past
troubles in Minneapolis and start him.
4. Mark Brunell v. SF –
Speaking of dead and buried…surprise! I obviously broke
out the shovel a tad too soon and for that I owe Mr. Brunell an
apology. All he’s done since taking over the reins in Week
2 is throw for over 290 yards a game and nine touchdowns (against
two INTs). The ‘Skins aren’t winning anymore (expected)
but it isn’t because of him (unexpected). Give him the nod
against the league’s worst pass defense.
5. Carson Palmer v. PIT –
He hasn’t thrown a pick in over a month. He hasn’t
completed less than two-thirds of his passes all season. His QB
rating hasn’t dipped below 100 since LAST NOVEMBER! If you’re
looking for the next great fantasy signal-caller, look no further.
It’d sure be nice if he could get T.J. Houshmandzadeh back,
but he seems to be doing just fine with the weapons he has.
6. Josh McCown v. TEN –
Denny Green isn’t endearing himself to fantasy nation with
his refusal to announce a starter this week, but if I were a betting
man, I’d wager it’s McCown. He’s thrown for
over 375 yards in two consecutive contests and seems to have developed
a great rapport with his superstar receivers. Might take a huge
leap of faith to start him but if you’re struggling, what
do you have to lose?
7. Eli Manning v. DEN –
Though Eli took a step back last week against Dallas (14 of 30,
a pick, and a fumble), he also made two huge throws when the Giants
needed them most, sending the game to overtime. That tells me
we shouldn’t worry too much about the sub-par performance
overall. This week, he draws a Denver defense that ranks near
the back of the pack vs. the pass. Shake it off and keep him in
8. Matt Hasselbeck v. DAL –
It only took three years but he and the ‘Hawks finally look
like legitimate contenders for NFC supremacy. Though much of the
credit should go to a great offensive line and Shaun Alexander,
it would be foolish to discount Hasselbeck’s newly discovered
consistency as a factor in Seattle’s success. He’s
only thrown one INT in the last four contests (all wins) and is
still a guy who can hurt you if you give him time to throw.
9. Jake Plummer @ NYG –
“Plummer” and “consistency” used to be
antonyms in the NFL lexicon but thanks to four error-free efforts
since the Week 1 disaster in south Florida, he’s back in
the top 10. How long he stays there depends almost entirely on
how careful he is with the football. If he avoids the mistakes
this weekend, he could be in for a huge day against the Giants’
31st-ranked pass defense at the Meadowlands.
10. Drew Bledsoe @ SEA –
Same goes for him. Bledsoe was uncharacteristically sloppy against
the G-men last week (one pick and two fumbles), but still managed
to throw for over 300 yards and a score in the victory. He welcomes
back an old friend this weekend (Peerless Price) and definitely
has the weapons to keep up with the high-powered Seahawks in the
Emerald City. Start him.
Grab A Helmet:
Ben Roethlisberger @ CIN –
If you ever wondered what life would be like for the Steelers
without Ben Roethlisberger, now you know: very, very grim. Big
Ben is back in the fold this weekend and not a moment too soon
for the Curtain faithful. A visit to the Queen City looms and,
for a change, a lot is riding on the outcome. Get him back in
Daunte Culpepper v. GB –
Oddly enough, a lot will be riding on the outcome of Sunday’s
Packers-Vikings tilt, as well, which seems strange to say about
a matchup of 1-4 teams. Though the loser is almost assured of
a sub-.500 mark, the winner positions itself nicely for a run
at the NFC North title. Can Culpepper emerge from his season-long
swoon and keep the Vikings’ ship afloat? Buh-dum-Dum! I’ll
be here all week, folks. Try the lutefisk.
Michael Vick v. NYJ –
Though skewed by a partial appearance in Week 4, the fleet-footed
one is still averaging only 121 passing yards a game, placing
him behind such luminaries as David Carr and Kyle Orton. Why,
then, does he get the recommendation? He’s also averaging
over 56 rushing yards per contest, better than guys like Stephen
Davis, Kevin Jones, Ahman Green, and Brian Westbrook. The rules
simply don’t apply when it comes to him.
Drew Brees @ PHI – More
than a few eyebrows were raised when the Bolts traded for A.J.
Feeley this week. Fortunately, the ramifications of that deal
won’t be felt ‘til next season when (my guess) Brees
is dealt to the highest bidder. For this campaign, at least, he’s
the guy San Diego has pinned its hopes on. Not a bad choice, either,
if his last four games are any indication (205 yards/game, six
TDs, and one pick). Keep starting him.
Aaron Brooks @ STL – It
was only a matter of time before the occasionally brilliant Brooks
put up good numbers (259 yards and two scores), but I was definitely
a bit surprised to see him do it against the Falcons. What wouldn’t
be surprising at all is if he duplicated the performance against
the Rams’ woeful secondary this Sunday. If you drafted him
with the intention of spot-starting him, this is the spot.
Grab A Clipboard:
David Carr v. IND – Earning
millions of dollars to sit on your bum all day usually means you’ve
made it in America. Not in Houston and certainly not if your name
is David Carr. The league’s most sacked signal-caller faces
the league’s most sack-hungry defense this Sunday in a game
that could be the season’s most lopsided. You’d probably
even be better off with…
Any Detroit QB @ CLE –
…one of these guys. Mooch has been mum on the subject all
week but if Jeff Garcia is healthy, he’ll be the man. Not
that it’s going to matter. The Lions’ O-line is almost
as bad as the Texans’ and the much-ballyhooed weapons that
folks were drooling about in the preseason have proven to be either
unreliable (Roy Williams), ineffective (Kevin Jones), or both
(Charles Rogers). There is simply nothing good about the Detroit
offense right now and an over-the-hill triggerman isn’t
gonna change that.
Alex Smith @ WAS – He’s
had two weeks to digest a decidedly inauspicious debut (74 yards
and four picks) and will now try to show improvement against a
Washington defense that rates among the league’s best (280.4
yards yielded per game). Though he can’t possibly be that
bad in D.C. this Sunday, he doesn’t have the experience
or the weapons to be much better…yet. Not unless you’re
really hard up.
Kyle Orton v. BAL – The
other rookie signal-caller has shown glimpses thus far but, predictably,
makes too many mistakes (ten turnovers in five games) and rarely
makes the big play (no completions over 30 yards). This week,
he draws the ever-stingy Ravens D, a tough matchup for even the
most seasoned of vets. Steer clear.
Anthony Wright @ CHI –
The over/under for Sunday’s contest is a ridiculously low
30.5 at press time, which actually sounds high when you consider
who’s lining up under center for both squads…and who’s
lining up across from them While Orton’s struggles stem
from a lack of experience, Wright’s can be ascribed to a
lack of talent. It all adds up to a 13-10 snoozer, no matter how
you slice it. Stay away.