Must Start: The Top 15
1. Shaun Alexander v. ARI—There
were several disappointing studs in Week 1 but none more so than
this guy. 51 yards and no touchdowns? Against Detroit? Take heart,
Alexander fans. The Cardinals are coming to town and they’re
fresh off a gashing at the hands of Frank Gore in Week 1 (170
total yards and two scores). Expect 150+ and at LEAST two touchdowns
from Seattle’s main man this Sunday.
2. LaDainian Tomlinson v. TEN—Tomlinson
accounted for almost half of San Diego’s offense on Monday
night (149 yards) and also scored his first six of the season.
That makes him one of the not-so-disappointing studs for Week
1. Get your licks in this Sunday, LT owners, ‘cuz San Diego’s
bye week comes early this year (Week 3).
3. Larry Johnson @ DEN—LJ
posted a ho-hum (for him) 148 total yards in Week 1 and didn’t
find paydirt. Then, he lost his quarterback for the game and perhaps
several more. Guess we’re gonna find out if he’s truly
immune to personnel changes and matchups, huh? You can be certain
the Broncos will throw the kitchen sink at him this week at Invesco.
I’m as eager as most of you to see whether it will matter.
4. Steven Jackson @ SF—Jackson
posted almost identical numbers (140 total yards) and, more importantly,
touched the ball 26 times in the Week 1 victory over Denver. If
he does that all year, his owners are gonna be mighty happy. Expect
125+ and his first couple touchdowns at Monster Park this Sunday.
5. Rudi Johnson v. CLE—If
you’re looking for another reason to excuse Carson’s
David Carr-like performance, look no further. No point in chucking
it when Rudi’s rumbling to the tune of 98 yards and a score,
after all. Coincidentally, Johnson’s career averages v.
Cleveland are almost precisely the same (97.3 yds/game and six
scores in seven matchups). You know what to do.
6. Tiki Barber @ PHI—Tiki
tallied a mind-boggling 171 total yards against Indy in Week 1,
the most of any back. Moreover, he made it look easy. Unfortunately,
he lost eight carries and the ever important six to backup Brandon
Jacobs. It won’t be the first time. Then again, who wouldn’t
settle for 150+ every week? He flambéed the Eagles in the
last meeting (195 yards and a touch) so keep riding him.
7. Ronnie Brown v. BUF—I
urged you to be cautious with him and, at least partially, my
concern was warranted. Though he scored twice, he also rushed
for a mere 30 yards on 15 carries. Yes, it was Pittsburgh, but
the Fish will need a lot more out of the passing game to get the
most out of Brown in the long run. In the short term, it’s
nice to know he’s facing a god awful Bills run defense in
Week 2 (183 yards yielded last Sunday).
8. Willie Parker @ JAX—We
learned a couple things about Pittsburgh in the season opener,
as well. First, Fast Willie Parker is more than just fast (as
the Bus-like 32 touches certainly proves). Second, Bill Cowher
is a filthy liar. He had me believing the former Tarheel wouldn’t
get yanked around the goal-line but, sure enough, that’s
exactly what happened early in the 4th quarter. Alas, the fantasy
gods were watching as Charlie Batch promptly flubbed the ensuing
snap. Let that be a lesson to you, Coach!
9. Brian Westbrook v. NYG—“If
he gets 20 touches per contest, he’s a Top 10 back all year.”
So far, so good. Keep starting him.
10. Frank Gore v. STL—Almost
every e-mail I received last week had to do with this guy, which
tells me there were plenty of you out there with pretty high expectations
for San Fran’s meal ticket. Kudos to you folks. I liked
his potential (and even drafted him in the third round in one
league) but wasn’t sold on the guys around him. Not sure
that I am after one week, either, but Gore sure looked awesome
last Sunday. See what he can do against an improved Rams D this
11. DeShaun Foster @ MIN—What
do we make of Foster’s mediocre performance against the
Dirty Birds in Week 1, a team he typically torches? Not much,
actually. The loss of Steve Smith clearly scrambles the entire
game plan so it’s strictly wait-and-see at this point. If
Smith plays, I think Foster goes for triple digits and a score.
If he doesn’t…well, I’m not sure you’ll
want to be tuning in to find out (think Redskins-Vikes redux…only
12. Edgerrin James @ SEA—Coach
Green promised us 25 totes and a few looks in the passing game
for Edge this season and he didn’t disappoint in the opener
(26 carries and three receptions). Sure would have been nice to
see the former Colt grind out a few more yards, though (2.8 per
carry). I’m not convinced Arizona’s O-line is capable
of opening big holes for him but the consistent work and a dynamite
passing game should still make him quite valuable over the long
13. Reggie Bush @ GB—I
was down in the dumps a couple days back trying to cook up some
ways to improve my one winless squad when…knock, knock,
knock. Good morning, Opportunity! Long story short? I parlayed
Willie Parker, Michael Vick, and Chris Chambers into Saint Reginald,
Kurt Warner, and Steve Smith. Yes, I actually traded my boy, Mr.
Vick. Yes, I still respected myself in the morning. That’s
how good I think Reggie is.
14. Jamal Lewis v. OAK—Lewis
was solid if not spectacular last weekend, notching 78 yards and
a score on 18 carries. This week, he draws that train wreck of
a squad, Oakland, in Baltimore’s home opener. I already
told you they’ll win. The only question is how. If I know
Brian Billick, it will involve a healthy dose of Lewis and a smattering
of Mike Anderson. Oh, and a whole truckload of defense. Anyone
else smell shutout?
15. Warrick Dunn v. TB—Week
1 was full of surprises but, for my money, nothing was more shocking
than Atlanta’s 252 rushing yards against Carolina. That
would be the same Carolina everyone’s touting to represent
the NFC in the Super Bowl. As usual, Dunn was the workhorse for
the Falcons, racking up 132 yards. Things don’t get any
easier against his former team this Sunday but that’s what
we thought last week, too.
Grab A Helmet:
Carnell Williams @ ATL—Speaking
of the Bucs, what the hell? Isn’t Jon Gruden a Mike Holmgren
disciple? Shouldn’t he know how to craft a game plan by
now? I’m no genius but I’m pretty sure getting the
ball to Cadillac more than 13 times is a must-do for Tampa every
single week. Let’s hope Chucky does exactly that this weekend
at the Georgia Dome.
Willis McGahee @ MIA—The
good news? Buffalo scored a rushing touchdown. The bad news? McGahee
didn’t score it (try Anthony Thomas). Though the former
Hurricane wasn’t terrible at Foxboro, tallying 94 total
yards in the near-miss v. the Patriots, he certainly didn’t
look like the “best running back in the NFL.” Yes,
I’m going to use that against him all year long.
Chester Taylor v. CAR—Only
LT touched the ball more in Week 1 than Chet, an encouraging sign
for those (like me) who thought Minny’s running game might
not be as good as advertised. It’s even more encouraging
when you consider his coach, Brad Childress, presided over one
of the least run-oriented offenses in ’05, Philadelphia’s.
Sounds like somebody learned a thing or two about balance this
Fred Taylor v. PIT—The
other Taylor, the fragile one, was his typically productive self
in the Week 1 upset of Dallas, cranking out 115 total yards (74
of them on the ground). He may not fare as well this weekend v.
Pittsburgh (who does?) but he’s been surprisingly efficient
v. the Curtain in his career (almost 100 yards and a score per
game). He’s probably the only recommended start for the
Jags offense in Week 2.
Deuce McAllister @ GB—Deuce
put up the second quietest good performance of Week 1 (see below)
with 90 yards on 22 carries. Get used to it, bud. There’s
only one back anyone in New Orleans wants to talk about these
days and it ain’t you. That, incidentally, is not a bad
thing for McAllister’s owners (think good value guy).
Ahman Green v. NO—Green
was responsible for easily the quietest good performance of Week
1 with 132 yards on 23 touches in the trouncing at Lambeau. I
watched every single second and still couldn’t believe my
eyes when I dragged myself over to the laptop to check the boxscore.
He won’t do that every week, unfortunately, but he may this
week against New Orleans’ below-average front seven.
Tatum Bell v. KC—The diabolical
Coach Shanny continues to vex fantasy GMs with his “I can
win with my MOM at running back” smugness, but at least
he’s done us the favor of naming a starter for Week 2. You’re
looking at him. Of course, you won’t be looking at him very
long because the other Bell is slated to rotate in every other
series. Go with the upside guy…if you dare.
Laurence Maroney or Corey Dillon @
NYJ—I don’t think I’ve ever listed this
many “Grab a Helmet” backs but how can I leave this
devastating duo off the list? Dillon is the sage veteran with
the Super Bowl ring and the impressive resume. Maroney’s
the young turk with speed to burn and a TBD date with fantasy
stardom. Don’t think too much about it. Start either Pat
and expect 75 yards and a score.
Grab A Gatorade:
Lamont Jordan @ BAL—In
spite of myself, it’s hard not to feel just a tad bit sorry
for Jordan, seemingly the only sane person working for Team Dysfunction
these days. Randy Moss has lost his mind. Jerry Porter has lost
his soul. Art Shell has lost his team. And it’s only Week
2! Can’t wait to see if Aaron Brooks loses that “aw,
shucks” grin after he gets sacked 59 times this Sunday in
Chris Brown @ SD—I’ve
never liked this guy and I’m certainly not going to start
liking him now that the Titans are spelling him with Travis Henry
in goal-line situations. With apologies to Oakland and Green Bay,
Tennessee might be the worst team in the league. That means you
don’t want anything to do with their backfield mess, especially
against San Diego. Ask Lamont Jordan.
Kevin Jones @ CHI—Well,
he was certainly more involved in the passing game (five catches
for 45 yards). Too bad he’s not A RECEIVER! Stop waiting
for this guy to “bust out.” As it stands now, he couldn’t
bust his way out of a paper bag.
Clinton Portis @ DAL—I
could really be setting myself up here but I’m just not
sure he’s ready to carry the ball 25 times a game, as has
been reported. Put it this way: if you can live one more week
without your #1 draft pick, do it. If not, what have you got to
lose? Start him and hope for the best.
Any NY Jets RB v. NE—Reason
#347 not to get too worked up over Week 1: Kevan Barlow has more
touchdowns than Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson…combined.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends