Must Start: The Top 15
1. Chad Johnson v. CLE—Though
he didn’t lob the initial volley, CJ wasted no time getting
into a war of words with the arch rival Browns earlier this week.
Responding to Kellen Winslow’s boast that Leigh Bodden would
shut him down, Johnson responded the way only he can: “it’s
humanly impossible to stop 85.” That’s DirecTV channel
705 for those of you who don’t live in Ohio.
2. Steve Smith @ MIN—If
you’re reading this on Saturday or early Sunday and he’s
already been declared inactive, don’t e-mail me. I’m
aware he may not play this weekend. It’s called a deadline
and I’m occasionally asked to stick to one. I even occasionally
do it. Stay on top of this situation as you’ll definitely
wanna start him if he’s suited up.
3. Torry Holt @ SF—The
Rams wlll be more balanced this season (I promise) but you wouldn’t
have guessed that by watching their opener last weekend. Bulger
still threw 34 passes and they only ran the ball 25 times. Expect
the reverse to be true this weekend, though that shouldn’t
affect Torry’s bottom line much. He’s a lead pipe
lock for 75-100 yards most weeks.
4. Marvin Harrison v. HOU—One
of these days, Marvin will become the #2 target in Indy. One of
these days. Until such time, he’s still the favored pass-grabber
for the league’s best quarterback. That means he’s
automatically in the top 5 every single week. Start him.
5. Anquan Boldin @ SEA—Larry
Fitzgerald caught more balls last Sunday but Mr. Boldin found
paydirt. Their roles could just as easily be reversed in Week
2, or any other week for that matter. This much I do know: they’ve
both been highly productive v. the Seahawks in the past and with
Edge added to the mix, that isn’t likely to change this
6. Larry Fitzgerald @ SEA—In
other words, take your pick. Fitzgerald has tallied three scores
in four career starts v. Seattle and it’s not hard to envision
him making it four for five (or even five for five) this weekend
in the Emerald City. There’s simply nothing not to like
about the Arizona passing game right now. So start liking it.
7. Chris Chambers v. BUF—If
you’re a matchup analyzer, you’ve likely noticed that
Chambers has scored more touchdowns against Buffalo than any other
squad (six to date). Though he got off to a rough start against
the Steelers, he was the obvious focal point for Daunte in the
passing game. This week, he draws two diminutive (though good)
corners and two rookie safeties. Sure hope you didn’t panic
deal him after Week 1.
8. Terrell Owens v. WAS—TO’s
being praised for side-stepping a potential landmine in Big D
(the budding QB controversy) but for the life of me, I can’t
figure out why. Wouldn’t it have been better to defend Bledsoe,
this week’s starter? Then again, we ARE talking about the
most corrosive locker room presence in NFL history. Even when
he doesn’t say something, he says something. A lot, in fact.
9. Donte Stallworth v. NYG—Wonder
if TO noticed that his replacement in Philly did a pretty good
TO impression in the Week 1 victory over Houston? Too many more
of those performances and I, for one, will start wondering whether
Andy Reid shouldn’t be getting a little more credit here.
He at least deserves credit for standing firm when Owens’
reputation hit the fan last year, no?
10. Reggie Wayne v. HOU—I
never really know what to say about this guy. He’s awfully
good. How’s that for brevity?
11. Plaxico Burress @ PHI—A
mere nine months after abandoning his signal-caller and blowing
off a post-playoff game meeting, Plax said he was sorry to Kid
Bro…sort of. Does this mean he’s finally growing up?
He certainly has the full attention of Manning Jr. in New York’s
passing game and for our purposes, that’s all that matters.
Keep starting him and expect a handful of monster games this season.
12. Hines Ward @ JAX—Charlie
Batch. Tommy Maddox. Kordell Stewart. I’m pretty sure Ward
could produce with Mark Malone under center in Pittsburgh. I’m
talking about TV analyst Mark Malone, not former/alleged NFL quarterback
Mark Malone. Get him in there against the Jags and consider it
an added bonus if the big guy’s back under center.
13. Darrell Jackson v. ARI—Jackson
was supposed to be slated for light duty last Sunday but the ‘Hawks
decided to make things interesting in Detroit, meaning he had
to play a lot more than Coach Mike probably wanted him to. The
good part? He survived. The better part? Help is on the way. The
bad part? His value takes a hit from here on out. What can I say,
people? Change is the only constant in this league.
14. Antonio Gates v. TEN—Take
the Chargers, for instance. They shipped Drew Brees to New Orleans
this past summer and cast their lot with two-year splinter-picker-outer
Phillip Rivers. Not a problem if he lives up to expectations.
The problem is that he won’t do that overnight. Expect Coach
Schott to protect his new field general with lots of LT and a
conservative passing attack. Luckily, no matter how conservative
that attack ultimately is, Mr. Gates will still be its heart and
15. Donald Driver v. NO—Not
surprisingly, Don seemed like the only target Favruh was interested
in last Sunday, eventually hauling in seven passes for 96 yards.
I’m betting he’ll be able to do this quite regularly
for two reasons. One, the Ol’ Gunslinger can still sling
it around. Two, the Pack will be playing from behind most of the
season. Expect bigger cushions as the games wear on and, consequently,
increased production from Driver.
Grab a Helmet
Joe Horn @ GB—He was overshadowed
by no-name rook Marques Colston in Week 1 and then publicly called
out by his coach for not playing “particularly well.”
Ouch! Guess the new sheriff’s into negative reinforcement,
huh? I think Horn responds by slicing and dicing the Pack’s
Swiss cheese D this Sunday. Pun totally intended.
Muhsin Muhammad v. DET—Muhammad
pulled that trick last Sunday and looks to repeat this week against
a better-than-advertised Lions group. No way this game is in the
20s but it’s possible Moose will find paydirt, nonetheless.
I said possible, not probable. Give him a looksy.
Antonio Bryant v. STL—Bryant
took advantage of a weak Arizona secondary to post a triple-digit
day last Sunday. Not bad considering the other Niner receivers
look like a Canadian Football League who’s who. I’m
not sure he pulls off another c-note this weekend but if Frank
Gore gets rolling again, anything’s possible. Call him a
strong #3 and, perhaps, a decent #2.
Rod Smith v. KC—He and
Javon Walker disappointed in Week 1 but it’s hard to put
too much of the blame on them. The Snake was downright horrid.
Don’t fret too much since Jake usually rebounds well after
his really bad outings. Don’t forget, as well, that Smith
has accumulated better than 1700 yards against the Chiefs in his
illustrious career. Good matchup. Must win. I like him to have
a very productive day.
Derrick Mason v. OAK—He
and McNair, together again. I doubt we’ll see fireworks
a la 2001-2003 but Mason HAS posted 1000 yards in each of his
last five seasons. Did anyone but him know this? He’s the
classic under-the-radar wideout who makes a bad team decent, a
decent one good, and a good one great. Start him against the Raiders
Grab Some Wood
Roy Williams @ CHI—Is
he serious? Does he honestly believe beyond the shadow of a doubt
that the Lions are going to magically stop being the Lions this
weekend and beat the Monsters at Soldier Field? Time for someone
to remind Mr. Williams that he was outperformed by Mike Furrey
last Sunday. Mike Fudging Furrey!
Randy Moss @ BAL—Randy
says things are “crazy” around Raider nation these
days. Something tells me we don’t know the half of it. Hard
to believe his field-stretching wheels will be put to good use
this Sunday when Aaron Brooks is running for his life on every
snap. Steer clear until something changes (read: Art Shell convinces
bud Gene Upshaw to join him on Oakland’s offensive front).
Joey Galloway @ ATL—The
collar. The big goose egg. Bubkas. However you wanna slang it,
that’s what Galloway produced in Week 1. Nothing. I told
you to be fearful of his prospects this year. I meant terrified.
Laveranues Coles v. NE—On
the other hand, I also told you to avoid Mr. Coles and all he
did was go out and post the very best numbers by a receiver in
Week 1 (eight grabs for 153 yards). Hey, this ain’t rocket
science, folks, and I’m not exactly a rocket scientist,
anyway. I’ll say this, though: if he does that again, I
promise never to list him down here again. Never. Up to you, Lav.
Andre Johnson @ IND—When
a bad passing team adds another weapon to the arsenal (Eric Moulds),
it’s tempting to think there will be a spike in production
for the ultra-talented incumbent (Johnson). Tempting, but not
true. Houston’s offense is a zero-sum unit. That means Johnson’s
already disappointing totals go down this year, especially with
no Dom Davis around to take the heat off in the running game.