Must Start: The Top 10
1. Donovan McNabb v. JAX—Philly
fans may think Matt Bryant’s 62-yard howitzer was more providential
than skillful. They’re right. The football gods simply will
not allow a team to win when it scores 14 points for the other
guys (ask Matt Leinart and the Cards). The fantasy gods, however?
They’re smiling on McNabb still after three TD strikes and
a slick 76 rushing yards in Week 7. Expect a similar performance
and a right-the-ship W for the Birds this weekend.
2. Peyton Manning @ DEN—The
Broncos D has handled all comers thus far but they haven’t
faced anyone of Peyton’s caliber. After a near flawless
outing last Sunday (342 yards and four scores), Big Bro is primed
to put Indy in the AFC driver’s seat at Invesco. If the
Denver offense doesn’t get untracked (no 20-point games
to date), he may not even break a sweat doing it. Start him as
3. Eli Manning v. TB—Nobody’s
talking about Kid Bro and the G-Men after Monday night’s
big win in Big D but that should change soon. After a slow start,
New York is now 4-2 and atop the NFC East standings. Manning’s
steady hand is the primary reason they’re back from the
dead and he should continue his winning ways against the similarly
resurgent Bucs on Sunday.
4. Carson Palmer v. ATL—After
a Marv Lewis-imposed week of silence, 85 is yapping again, guaranteeing
two six-point hookups with Carson this weekend against the Falcons
in Cincy. Sure hope Palmer got the memo ‘cuz the once-dynamic
duo has mostly misfired through seven weeks (just one TD). If
they rediscover their rhythm, look out. The Falcons were flame-broiled
by the Roethlisberger/Batch combo in Week 6 (433 yards and 5 TDs).
5. Michael Vick @ CIN—Of
course, it didn’t matter because Vick and the seemingly
anemic Atlanta passing game were busy slow-roasting the Steelers
in the 41-38 shoot-‘em-up at the Georgia Dome (yes, I’m
hungry). If you saw that one coming, you’re obviously smarter
than me. There’s no way Mr. Vick matches his career-high
four TD tosses in the Queen City but he could go for another 200
yards and a couple scores. Don’t forget about those bionic
legs, either. I promise the Bengals haven’t.
6. Rex Grossman v. SF—It’s
been two weeks since Grossman “engineered” the miraculous
24-23 Monday night victory over the Cards. Hey, if he hadn’t
turned it over six times, it wouldn’t have been so miraculous,
right? Chalk it up as an anomaly and get him back in there. The
Niners inarguably possess one of the league’s worst passing
defenses and will struggle to hold the Monsters under 30 points
at Soldier Field.
7. Matt Leinart @ GB—New
offensive coordinator, same old Cardinals. Leinart shoulders most
of the blame for last Sunday’s debacle in Oakland (13 of
32 and two picks) but he shouldn’t get all of it. That wasn’t
exactly the Colts the Arizona D was facing. Regardless, Hollywood
gets a chance to wash that bad taste out of his mouth right away
as the Cards travel to Lambeau in Week 8. Awaiting them is the
league’s most generous pass defense (293.3 yards/game).
If you’re looking for fantasy goldmines…
8. Brett Favre v. ARZ—…dig
no further. In fact, games involving the Pack have been surprisingly
fruitful this season. That’s what happens when you pair
a poor defense with one of the game’s all-time great triggermen,
the Ol’ Gunslinger. I like this game to be in the high 20s
and that means you start as many Packers/Cardinals as you can
get your hands on in Week 8. Well, except for Edge (more on him
9. Marc Bulger @ SD—Bulger
puts his league-best 10-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio on the line this
Sunday as the Rams travel to sunny San Diego for a showdown with
the enigmatic Bolts. What seemed like a tough matchup earlier
this week looks considerably less so after the surprising suspension
of holy terror/pass rushing menace Shawne Merriman. Start Bulger
and hope the Chargers are still feeling sorry for themselves after
a last-second loss at Arrowhead (a last-second loss I predicted,
by the way).
10. Phillip Rivers v. STL—Those
selfsame Chargers are good enough to be undefeated at this point
but aren’t. Why? Not sure but they seem to lack that killer
instinct on the road. A return to the friendly confines of Qualcomm
should reenergize them and a milquetoasty Rams defense shouldn’t
hurt either. Start Rivers and expect 225 yards and a couple scores
Grab A Helmet:
Tom Brady @ MIN—The lack
of buzz surrounding Brady and the Pats these days is almost eerie.
Sure, they’re winning ugly and sure, the competition has
been weak, but this is the Patriots we’re talking about…the
three-time Super Bowl champion Patriots. We’ll learn a lot
about them this Monday night at the Metrodump but it won’t
be anything we shouldn’t already know. To wit? They’re
still a force to be reckoned with, folks.
Ben Roethlisberger @ OAK—Them
too, though Big Ben continues to be plagued by the injury bug.
He’s listed as questionable on the injury report but has
participated in practice and should play this weekend. Too bad
for the Raiders ‘cuz I have a feeling the Curtain’s
gonna drop on Oakland’s nascent winning streak in a big
way this Sunday. Start Roethlisberger but make sure he's playing
David Carr @ TEN—Carr
bounced back from a poor performance in Big D to toast the Jaguars
in Week 7 (224 yards and two scores). Provided the youngsters,
Lundy and Gado, can keep the improving Titans defense honest,
he should have another big day in the Music City. Expect 200+
and another six-point connection with Andre Johnson this weekend.
Jake Delhomme v. DAL—Things
were humming along nicely for the Panthers last Sunday when Delhomme
relapsed, throwing a costly pick in the end zone that killed a
promising drive and Carolina’s hopes of a five-game winning
streak in one fell swoop. That doesn’t mean you should turn
your back on him. It’s just a reality check. He’s
never been a great decision-maker and will need to do better against
the solid Dallas secondary this Sunday night. I think he will,
for the record.
Damon Huard v. SEA—If
Delhomme’s looking for a role model, he should take a look
at KC’s underrated fill-in, Mr. Huard. Though he lacks Jake’s
big play ability, the elder Huard doesn’t put his team in
tough spots and rarely makes the kind of mistake games hinge upon.
Is that good enough this weekend? Better believe it, people. The
Chiefs beat the ‘Hawks in a throwback AFC West special.
Heard it here first.
Grab A Clipboard:
Alex Smith @ CHI—The former
Ute has made great strides in this, his second season, but now
faces the near impossible task of besting a Chicago defense that
has had two weeks to prepare for him. Two DAYS would be too much
lead time for such a crew and, consequently, I suspect Smith will
struggle to generate much of anything in the Windy City this weekend.
Think fewer than 200 yards and at least two turnovers.
Jake Plummer v. IND—It’s
rare for a QB sporting a 5-1 record to be under siege but that’s
the spot The Snake is in after another miserable outing in Cleveland
last weekend (209 yards and two more INTs). Coach Shanny has made
it abundantly clear he won’t hesitate to turn the reins
over to Jay Cutler if Plummer continues to struggle so steer clear
until something breaks, one way or the other. Bear in mind, as
well, that changes at the QB position usually occur during games
and not between them.
Andrew Walter v. OAK—The
other former Sun Devil actually looked pretty sharp in Week 7,
tossing it around for 263 yards and a score before leaving with
a bum hammy in the third quarter of the win over Arizona. The
good news? The hammy’s healed. The bad news? The hammy’s
healed. Pittsburgh ain’t Arizona, a fact that will be pounded
into Walter’s bones repeatedly this Sunday.
Charlie Frye v. NYJ—Another
offensive coordinator bit the dust this week as the Browns jettisoned
the much-maligned Maurice Carthon following another paltry effort
in Week 6. Probably the best thing that could have happened, frankly…to
Carthon. Cleveland is short on talent and even shorter on experience
at the key skill positions, Frye being the most glaring example
of that currently.
Tony Romo @ CAR—Careful
what you wish for, Cowboys fans. First year quarterbacks rarely
lead their teams to the promised land (Ben Roethlisberger notwithstanding).
Can’t wait to see what happens when T.O. decides he’s
being ignored again. Stay tuned…