Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning @ DAL—It’s
almost as if Peyton and the Colts are bored with regular season
play, like they’re trying to see how conservative/lackluster
they can be and still get away with it. His three least productive
days this season have come against the Jets, the Bills, and the
Titans. Lucky for you, he gets the Cowboys this weekend, a more
worthy foe. I suspect he rises to the occasion in what should
be an entertaining afternoon affair.
2. Donovan McNabb v. TEN—Donovan’s
Week 10 numbers got an unexpected boost when league statisticians
ruled Reggie Brown’s catch/fumble/hook-and-ladder a deflection,
instead crediting Correll Buckhalter for a 55-yard TD reception
and, more importantly, McNabb for the toss, meaning he officially
tallied 257 yards passing and two touchdown passes last week.
As if the faceoff v. Tennessee wasn’t an early enough present
for his owners. Merry Christmas!
3. Carson Palmer @ NO—It
was only a matter of time before Carson got in the Christmas spirit,
surprising his owners last week with 440 yards and three scores.
Unfortunately, that Cincy D did him one better on the generosity
front, yielding a staggering 42 points to San Diego…after
halftime. If this keeps up (lots of O, non-existent D), he might
just be the most valuable fantasy signal-caller down the stretch.
It certainly looks like it may this weekend at the Superdome so
you know what to do.
4. Drew Brees v. CIN—Read
that last paragraph and give me one good reason why you shouldn’t
start Drew Brees in Week 11. Pay special attention to that 42
points part. Still waiting for a reason….
5. Ben Roethlisberger @ CLE—Isn’t
it ironic that Roethlisberger’s fantasy fortunes have skied
just as his team’s fortunes have plummeted? He’s never
thrown for anywhere near 3,000 yards in a season but is now on
pace to break the franchise record for passing yards in this,
his least successful campaign. This is no run-of-the-mill franchise,
either, current record to the contrary. Keep starting Big Ben
and hope the bizarro Steelers keep piling up points.
6. Marc Bulger @ CAR—3,
2, 1, 0…kablooey! The countdown to St. Louis’ eventual
destruction? Well, yeah, but also Bulger’s respective TD
totals the past four weeks. He can’t throw fewer than zero
so there’s nowhere to go but up, right? Expect him to get
back on track this Sunday against the Panthers, a team he (oddly
enough) has never faced.
7. Eli Manning @ JAX—I
told you he wouldn’t crack 150 yards last week but, surprisingly,
didn’t get any hate mail about it. Too bad ‘cuz I
just LOVE writing those “I told you so” nastygrams
Monday morning. Wouldn’t worry too much about his performance
(it was the Bears, after all) but his inability to find Jeremy
Shockey should at least be troubling. I mean, who else besides
Plax Burress does he think is capable of producing in the Giants’
8. Tom Brady @ GB—I told
you he rarely strings together bad games but I guess there’s
a first time for everything, huh? New England needs a W in the
worst way and their best chance of getting one at Lambeau is by
letting Brady air it out against Green Bay’s second-to-last
pass defense. Don’t be surprised if he posts a 300-yard
day and throws for two or three touchdowns this Sunday.
9. Brett Favre v. NE—Kinda
like Favre did last week at the Metrodump (347 yards and two scores).
Seriously, could anyone watch that game and NOT come away thinking
the Ol’ Gunslinger still has plenty of gas in the tank?
He’s still got some mustard on that fastball, tell you that
much. The Pats have given up only seven TD tosses all season but
I suspect it could be more like nine or ten after Week 11. Start
10. Phillip Rivers @ DEN—In
fact, New England is second only to Denver in TD passes yielded,
meaning Rivers could be in for a rough day at Invesco. On the
other hand, he’s handled pretty much all comers thus far
and is, after Peyton, the least turnover-prone field general in
the league. Not to mention, he’s coming off a huge performance
in Cincy (338 yards and three scores), one I expect him to build
upon as the Bolts tangle with their division rivals this weekend.
Grab A Helmet:
Tony Romo v. IND—Funny
how the young Turks seem to be the most consistent producers this
year. Like Rivers, Romo has been nothing if not steady in his
three starts, throwing for no fewer than 270 yards and also tallying
touchdowns in each of his outings. If not for a meltdown in D.C.,
the ‘Boys would be 3-0 under his stewardship, further proof
that Tuna’s timing on the QB switch was impeccable, as usual.
Expect lots of production as Dallas attempts to keep up with Indy
Jon Kitna @ ARZ—That’s
“Kitna” with an “Sh.” Everyone’s
favorite underdog reminded us why he’s an underdog last
week, managing just 202 yards and a score in the loss to San Fran
at Ford Field. That to go with his two turnovers, his 14th and
15th of the season. If you’re wondering why I’m always
reluctant to give him his due, there you go. Can we ease up on
the “Where’s Jon?” missives now?
Rex Grossman @ NYJ—The
Bears have now cornered the market on unusual touchdowns, notching
their second field goal TD return in as many years last week.
Who else even has one? Unlike last year, the offense is capable
of producing the more conventional variety, as well, something
Grossman did thrice to bury the G-Men. I’d be more excited
if he’d driven the squad 80 yards to do it, but why quibble?
A touchdown pass is a touchdown pass is a touchdown pass.
Steve McNair v. ATL—For
a guy supposedly on his last legs, he sure does get the job done,
huh? After spotting the Titans a 26-7 lead, the former Titan led
his new squad all the way back to a scintillating W, throwing
three TDs in the process and looking every bit like the man who
used to command Tennessee’s once high-powered attack back
in the day. If you don’t think Kyle Boller was holding back
Baltimore’s offense, you’re not paying attention.
Keep starting McNair.
Michael Vick @ BAL—“Here
we go again,” say Atlanta fans. “Not so fast,”
says I. Mike is starting to look more like an athlete who happens
to be a quarterback instead of vice versa (again) but that really
hasn’t hampered his production from a fantasy perspective.
More than halfway through the season, he’s still a top five
point producer, thanks mostly to those 72.2 rushing yards/game.
I’m not crazy about the matchup this weekend but he’s
a tough guy (for me, at least) to sit down.
Seneca Wallace @ SF—It
appears Matt Hasselbeck is one more week away but I suspect he
could play this Sunday if the ‘Hawks really needed him.
Though they do in the long run, Seneca’s given them the
luxury of being patient. His QB rating has improved in each of
his last three games and opposing defenses are now having to game
plan against his slipperiness, a dimension Hasselbeck doesn’t
really bring to the table. Give the former Cyclone one more start
and then take it from there.
Grab A Clipboard:
David Carr v. BUF—Nobody
was more surprised than me when the Texans stepped up and punched
the Jags in the mouth last Sunday, completing the improbable sweep
of their once-promising division mates. On the down side, Carr
didn’t have a lot to do with that victory, at least from
a statistical standpoint. He’s actually gone three games
now without a passing TD and that should be a good enough reason
to sit him down as we head toward the playoffs. Do it.
J.P. Losman @ HOU—There’s
very little chance you’re worried about the playoffs if
you’re starting Losman. He’s completed only 16 passes
in his last TWO contests, or exactly the number of completions
Carr tallied in his less-than-prolific Week 10 outing. Worse yet,
he’s been outgained on the ground by Jon Kitna this year.
If that doesn’t convince you to sit him down, I’m
not sure what would.
Charlie Frye v. PIT—The
Steelers are clearly susceptible in the secondary right now but
I’m just not certain Frye is the kind of QB to take advantage
of that fact. He has precisely three 200-yard games to his credit
this year and also turns the ball over about twice as often as
he scores with it. Young, old, or somewhere in between, that’s
not good. Keep sitting him or, God forbid, start sitting him.
Jason Campbell @ TB—The
former Auburn triggerman finally (finally!) makes his NFL debut
this Sunday, as the Redskins officially pull the plug on ’06
and the Mark Brunell era, all in one fell swoop. Though Campbell
will no doubt be a waiver wire darling, I’d be surprised
if he’s starting for any fantasy contenders this week. His
career totals? Zero-for-zero, zero yards, and zero TDs. I realize
you hafta start somewhere, but….
Andrew Walter @ KC—…we
all know what happens when greenhorns see the field for the first
time. It usually ain’t pretty and occasionally doesn’t
get much prettier as the season progresses. Don’t forget
that Walter has prototypical size and a cannon arm, too. A lotta
good it’s done HIM through ten weeks, huh?
Brad Johnson @ MIA—Do
you realize Johnson has precisely two more touchdown tosses than
the aforementioned Walter? Perhaps it’s time for him to
go the way of Mr. Brunell. Trust me: if the Vikings had a ready
option behind him, they’d 86 him faster than you can say
“Tarvaris Jackson.” Steer clear of Bull this weekend.