Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups
Mercifully, it ends. No, not the Matrix trilogy (too much of a good
thing, perhaps) but our seemingly endless "Name My Column" contest.
I apologize to all for dragging this fiasco out but finally, after
nearly ten weeks of the season, we have an official name and can
move on to bigger and better things…like zeroing in on the fantasy
playoffs. The winner and receiver of a free "FF Today" t-shirt is
none other than (drum roll, please)…Mr. Avery Burke of Madison,
WI. You didn't think I was gonna give it to a Bears fan, did you?
I thank you all very much for submitting suggestions. Some of them
were actually quite good. If we ever decide to change the title
again…well, stop us, would you?
Here are your lineup suggestions for Week 10.
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning @ JAX - It's
probably more appropriate to call them 1A and 1B, but Manning gets
the nod over McNair this week thanks to a favorable matchup. The
Jags are in full rebuilding mode and will attempt to shut down Harrison
and Wayne with rookie corner, Rashean Mathis. Yeah
2. Steve McNair vs. MIA - He's
well-rested and ready for a championship push. No, I'm not kidding.
If anyone can pull it off without the threat of a running game,
it's this guy (a 105.1 rating, 13 TDs, and only three picks). Even
if the Titans ultimately fade, he's good enough to win a championship
for YOU along the way.
3. Daunte Culpepper @ SD - Though
ridiculed mercilessly, Coach Tice was on to something with that
"Randy Ratio" business. When Culpepper ignores his favorite
target--as he did for three quarters last week--the Vikes struggle.
Expect him to make a more concerted effort at locating Mr. Moss
against a toothless Bolts secondary.
4. Marc Bulger vs. BAL - Unless
your league has a draconian interception penalty, stick with him.
He's a yardage machine (378 in a losing effort at The Stick) and
still has plenty of toys to play with. The return of Marshall shouldn't
5. Brett Favre vs. PHI - Broken
femur? Maybe. Broken thumb? No way. The damaged digit makes him
more cautious but a cautious Favre is still more reckless (read:
dangerous) than most NFL QBs. Expect big numbers against a depleted
Eagles D at Lambeau on Monday night.
6. Kerry Collins vs. ATL - Call
it a perfect storm. In a mismatch of epic proportions, the league
leader in passing yardage (2,185) faces Atlanta's turnstile pass
defense (271.3 yds/game). If the struggling McNabb can post a 300-yard
day against them, what sort of damage could Collins inflict? For
mature audiences only.
7. Chad Pennington @ OAK - The
comparisons to Joe Montana are a bit over-the-top but he's certainly
proved (in a short amount of time) that he's a star in the making.
Facing an Oakland team in utter disarray, he could explode this
8. Brad Johnson @ CAR - He shares
the league lead in touchdown passes (16) with Manning and Favre.
That's pretty good company for a guy most consider to be on the
downside of his career. Expect a bunch of yards and perhaps a couple
scores against a Carolina D that is fading fast.
9. Trent Green vs. CLE - He'd
be ranked higher but Cleveland is pretty good against the pass (170.1
yds/games) and downright abysmal vs. the run (129.6 per game and
4.8 per carry). That translates into a big day for Priest and only
a modest day for Green.
10. Jon Kitna vs. HOU - OK, so
he made a liar out of me. That doesn't mean you should relegate
him to the trash heap. He's still throwing to an explosive receiving
corps and faces the second-worst defense in the league this week.
Suit him up again. Trust me this time.
Grab A Helmet:
Matt Hasselbeck @ WAS - His numbers would be a lot better if his
receivers could actually catch the football. Nevertheless, he's
still getting the job done. Shaun Alexander should have a field
day against Washington's weak front so don't expect huge numbers,
just good ones.
Donovan McNabb @ GB - There's no better (or quicker) way to get
well than facing the Falcons, but facing Green Bay can be equally
therapeutic. He'll have plenty of time to throw and might even locate
one of his wideouts in the end zone again. And that's saying something.
Brian Griese @ TEN - His rating through two games is stellar (110.1)
and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to succeed against
a Tennessee secondary yielding oodles of yards (268.8 per game).
If the Titans mobilize all available forces to stop Ricky (they
will), Griese could put up sneaky good numbers in Week 10.
Jeff Blake @ PIT - The grizzled vet has been pretty efficient of
late (166 yds., two scores, and no picks last week) and will continue
to benefit from the emergence of Marcel Shipp. Expect him to find
the rook (Mr. Boldin) for at least one score against a porous Steelers
David Carr @ CIN - All indications point to him playing this Sunday
against the Bengals. Provided he can shake the rust off, he could
have a pretty solid day, especially now that Dom Davis has become
a legitimate threat in the ground game.
Grab A Clipboard:
Drew Brees vs. MIN - Coach Schottenheimer hasn't decided on a starter
this week. That means Brees isn't a sure thing to get the nod over
his 56-year old backup, Flutie Flakes. If you're in a keeper league,
find someone who still thinks he could develop into a legit NFL
Drew Bledsoe @ DAL - Nobody's playing better defense than Tuna's
Cowboys and Bledsoe hasn't exactly been tearing up the league of
late (six TDs vs. eight picks). Though Moulds is back and purportedly
healthy, you probably wanna go in a different direction.
Rick Mirer vs. NYJ - He's still employed? I don't remember the last
time three teams were down to their third quarterback, but here's
hoping you're not in the same predicament this week. He's a desperation
start at best.
Jake Delhomme vs. TB - Simeon Rice PROMISES Delhomme will be in
for a long day. That may very well be the case if the Bucs manage
to bottle up a gimpy Stephen Davis. Even if they don't, the kid
has shown nothing so far to indicate he deserves a fantasy start
(only 1,394 yards this year).
Patrick Ramsey vs. SEA - Things are unraveling in DC (in a hurry)
and Ramsey will likely pay the price in the near future. That's
provided, of course, he survives long enough to be demoted. It's
kind of hard to improve as a young QB when you spend most games
running for your life.
Must Start: The Top 15:
1. Priest Holmes vs. CLE - Breathe
easy, Priest owners. Week 9 is in the rear-view mirror and you can
go back to dominating your leagues again with fantasy weapon numero
2. Ahman Green vs. PHI - Of course,
technically speaking, this guy is fantasyland's top point-scorer.
As promised, he lost some carries to Najeh Davenport. It didn't
matter as the Pack's road-graders allowed him to tally 187 total
yards and a touch in a huge win over Minnesota last week. He's a
must-start every week.
3. Jamal Lewis @ STL - So is he.
The Jags held him in check last Sunday but he's the only back over
1,000 yards through nine weeks. He's averaging a ridiculous 5.6
per carry and shouldn't have too much trouble matching that number
against a Rams defense giving up 4.6 per tote.
4. Shaun Alexander @ WAS - The
'Skins D looked tough when the season started but things have gone
south ever since. Though Alexander was contained last week, he will
find holes aplenty and, more than likely, the end zone this Sunday.
5. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. MIN
- Charger coaches must have enjoyed watching tapes of Green Bay
running roughshod over the Vikings. Whether Brees or Flutie gets
the nod, Tomlinson will almost certainly be the offensive focus
for San Diego. Expect big yards and a score or two.
6. Ricky Williams @ TEN - Need
further proof that the hogs up front make running games go? Meet
Exhibit A. Williams is not someone you'd ever sit but for a top
three pick, we expected more than 3.4 per carry. He's ranks ninth
in rushing yardage despite leading the league in carries.
7. Stephen Davis vs. TB - The
nagging injuries tell me he's starting to pay the price for a heavy
workload. Nevertheless, he's still getting 30 touches per game and
is only eight yards away from 1,000 on the season. Tampa talks a
good game but couldn't slow him down in the first meeting (33 carries
for 142 yards).
8. Tiki Barber vs. ATL - How does
a guy this talented only have two touchdowns so far? Answer: he
hasn't played Atlanta yet. Expect him to make it three (or four
five) against the woeful Falcons in the Meadowlands.
9. Anthony Thomas @ DET - The
A-Train is back and running with purpose again (111 yards and two
scores last week). Until the Bears find a legitimate solution at
QB, he'll continue to post great numbers. It also helps that he's
played the Lions, the Chargers, and now the Lions again in three
10. Domanick Davis @ CIN - He
was headed for another 100-yard effort against Carolina last week
until he took himself out of the game. That opened the door for
yet another pointless Stacey Mack touchdown. If all goes well (fingers
crossed), the rook should start and keep Mr. Mack on the sidelines
where he belongs.
11. Marshall Faulk vs. BAL - I
can think of better teams to face coming off a long sabbatical,
but Marshall should be OK if Bulger and Co. can stake an early lead.
Besides, he can't do much worse than the nine yards his understudy,
Arlen Harris, accumulated in San Fran last week. Get him back in
12. Edgerrin James @ JAX - He
reacquainted himself with the end zone last week and also racked
up over 100 yards. The Jacksonville D is somewhat stingy against
the run but won't be able to slow down Peyton. That means Edge should
get plenty of carries in the second half.
13. Marcel Shipp @ PIT - If you
doubted the wisdom of Arizona signing Emmitt this past off-season,
take a bow. You were right. Shipp's performance since taking the
reins (two games, 306 yards) ensures he'll be the permanent starter
in the desert, even after Emmitt returns.
14. Fred Taylor vs. IND - The
Jags could very well fall behind early but Taylor is a threat in
the passing game, as well. If they do manage to keep it close, he
could inflict some damage against a questionable Indy run defense
(120.5 per game and 4.6 per carry).
15. Curtis Martin @ OAK - Only
Atlanta has given up more rushing touchdowns than Oakland so Martin's
chances of finding paydirt are, for once, pretty good. He'll get
his fair share of yards, too, since the Raiders are yielding over
150 yards per game on the ground. Beware the Lamont Jordan factor,
Grab A Helmet:
Travis Henry @ DAL - The guy who wants his job (Willis McGahee)
is expected to see some action this weekend. That has GOT to motivate
Henry, who managed to rush for 124 yards in the blowout loss at
KC two weeks ago. Dallas' D is formidable (83.3 rushing yds/game)
but he's good enough to overcome and put up decent numbers, regardless.
Charlie Garner vs. NYJ - In case you hadn't noticed, Oakland is
a shambles right now. That means no Raider, not even Garner, should
be considered a must start. Nonetheless, with Mirer under center,
you gotta think he'll see a fair amount of opportunities this week.
How else does Callahan plan on moving the ball up and down the field?
Michael Bennett @ SD - He won't get a ton of touches but something
tells me Coach Tice wants to familiarize him with the end zone again
in hopes it will become habit-forming. The Vikes are gonna need
him down the stretch and if last Sunday's game is any indication,
he hasn't lost one nanosecond of that blazing speed.
Troy Hambrick vs. BUF - There's no way he's getting out of Tuna's
doghouse after two giveaways last week but the 'Boys don't have
many other options at the position. Besides, he still managed to
run for over 100 yards and a couple scores. That's all WE care about
Michael Pittman @ CAR - He gained nearly 100 all-purpose yards and
grabbed a touchdown reception last week. Alas, it wasn't enough.
If Tampa has any hope of winning the NFC South, they'll need Pittman
to continue racking up the yardage both on the ground and through
the air. He's certainly capable of doing that.
Grab A Gatorade:
Eddie George vs. MIA - His final effort before the bye was vintage
George (88 yards and two scores) but you shouldn't expect similar
numbers against a tough Fish run defense (79.0 per game). In fact,
you shouldn't expect similar numbers in any game the Titans don't
win convincingly. He's purely a salt-it-away back at this point
not a very good one.
Corey Dillon vs. HOU - If he's not careful, he could soon join George
on the list of past-their-prime feature backs. He never seems to
be healthy (questionable this week again) and even when he reportedly
is, he's not performing (five yards on seven carries last week).
Stay away until he does something worth noticing.
Jerome Bettis vs. ARI - Are you detecting a pattern yet? Like George
and Dillon, Bettis seems to be on the downslope of his illustrious
career. Though still a bowling ball near the goal line, he can no
longer count on getting the red zone opportunities since the Steelers'
offense, in general, is struggling.
James Jackson @ KC - He filled in admirably for Nate Newton
William Green last week but he probably won't see enough touches
to make a difference in Week 10. The Chiefs can be pushed around
a bit but it usually doesn't matter since they're playing from out
front most of the time. Try someone else unless you're in dire straits.
Must Start: The Top 15:
1. Randy Moss @ SD - He looked
frustrated Sunday night and probably had good reason to be. After
an effortless 43-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter, he hardly
saw the ball again. That must change this week since the Bolts have
nobody capable of marking him.
2. Torry Holt vs. BAL - Opposing
defenses simply don't have an answer for Holt and the Rams passing
game. His 978 receiving yards lead the league and he's tied with
Randy for most touchdown receptions (nine). The return of Marshall
will make it even more difficult for teams to focus on shutting
down Holt and Bruce. Not that they were doing a very good job of
3. Marvin Harrison @ JAX - He
posted modest numbers last week (six catches for 60 yards) against
a vetreran Dolphins secondary. Jacksonville's secondary should not
be considered top-notch. Expect him to return to prominence in a
big way this weekend.
4. Chad Johnson vs. HOU - The
Cards kept him out of the end zone but he still managed a respectable
75 yards receiving. He also made another scintillating sideline
grab that was upheld via replay. He's making a habit out of that
and should post big numbers against a terrible Texans D.
5. Santana Moss @ OAK - He jumps
from the ranks of the unranked to #5 in one week. Why? Chad Pennington.
Moss is clearly the favorite target of New York's young signal-caller
and can get deep on nearly anyone, especially a geriatric Raiders
6. Amani Toomer vs. ATL - The
Falcons are giving up a staggering 9.2 yards per catch. Toomer is,
statistically speaking, the deepest threat of them all (20.0 per
snatch). Remember what I said about a perfect storm?
7. Derrick Mason vs. MIA - Veteran
or not, the Dolphins secondary is yielding big yards this year (251.0
per game). Of course, they're also pilfering a lot of passes (14).
Since INTs don't count against the intended receiver (though they
probably should sometimes), you wanna go with McNair's favorite
8. Hines Ward vs. ARI - He racked
up 66 yards and a touch in a losing effort against the 'Hawks last
week. Which means you shouldn't sit him even though the Steelers
are struggling mightily.
9. Laveranues Coles vs. SEA -
He finally broke through for a score last week. Of course, he only
totaled 27 yards receiving. We just can't get a huge game out of
him. Expect solid numbers again and maybe even another touch against
a Seattle team that doesn't rush the passer very well.
10. Eric Moulds @ DAL - Amazingly,
he has just one touchdown this year. But you probably already knew
that if you own him. He should be 100% healthwise so it's not inconceivable
he'll end the drought this weekend against the Cowboys. Unfortunately,
it's also conceivable that he won't.
11. Donald Driver vs. PHI - Some
are openly questioning whether he'll ever repeat his 2002 numbers.
If he doesn't, it will only be due to Favre's development of other
targets (i.e. Javon Walker). He's still got amazing ability and
even managed to break off a 45-yard run last week
Packer coaches are looking for more ways to get him the ball.
12. Keenan McCardell @ CAR - Keyshawn
actually had a big day for once but Johnson went looking for McCardell
with the game on the line. He found him for a late touch that kept
Tampa in it temporarily. Expect that trend to continue for the rest
of the season.
13. Chris Chambers @ TEN - As
suspected, he's emerged as a favorite target of Griese's. He tallied
56 yards and a score against the Colts last week and could duplicate
those numbers against a dubious Titans secondary. In fact, I'm going
on record as saying he WILL duplicate those numbers
expect to hear about it if he doesn't.
14. Ike Hilliard vs. ATL - Toomer
won't hog all the fun against Atlanta's taxi squad secondary. In
fact, one could argue that Hilliard's been the more valuable fantasy
commodity this year (six TDs to Toomer's three). You can't lose
15. Tony Gonzalez vs. CLE - He's
scored three more touchdowns than Eric Moulds this year, which is
pretty darned good for a tight end. Expect him to be utilized more
heavily in the second half as Vermeil attempts to preserve Priest
for a Super Bowl push.
Grab A Helmet:
Jeremy Shockey vs. ATL - Atlanta is so bad that even a third Giants
receiver merits the starting nod. Yards will be bountiful and easy
to come by so the only question is who will ultimately find the
or better yet, who won't.
Javon Walker vs. PHI - Coming off a huge game vs. the Vikings, Walker
appears to have emerged as a viable option for Favre
He's big, fast, and very athletic. Expect him to find some holes
against a patchwork Eagles secondary on Monday night.
Isaac Bruce vs. BAL - When your quarterback throws for 260 yards
per game, you expect to catch a little love now and then. Unfortunately,
Mr. Bruce catches most of his love between the twenties (just one
touch so far). Will that change? We can only hope so but his yardage
numbers alone make him worth starting in most leagues.
Reggie Wayne @ JAX - Another #2 receiver worth starting in fantasy
leagues. Unlike Bruce, Wayne is finding paydirt quite often (five
TDs so far). Against a Jacksonville secondary that is iffy at best
and terrible at worst, he could be in for another large day.
Anquan Boldin @ PIT - Scored his first touchdown since Week 1 last
week against the Bengals. He's likely to continue that streak against
a shabby Steelers secondary in Week 10.
Grab Some Wood:
Any Philly receiver @ GB - Call me a homer but I don't see the Eagles
receiving corps doing much against a veteran (albeit iffy) Packers
secondary. After all, these guys have caught precisely ONE touchdown
this year. How is that possible??? McNabb will do his damage with
the backs and L.J. Smith.
David Boston vs. MIN - If Brees starts, forget about it. If Flutie
starts, he might have a chance. The guy didn't last this long in
the NFL by not identifying his most dangerous targets. To be safe,
you should probably sit Mr. Boston, regardless.
Travis Taylor @ STL - For a #1 receiver, he's doing a pretty good
impression of a #3 guy (just 39.3 receiving yards per game). He
might get better as Boller becomes more comfortable in the pocket.
Then again, he might just remain mediocre like most ex-Gator receivers
not named Ike Hilliard.
Plaxico Burress vs. ARI - Now comes word that he intends to get
more physical with corners he claims are manhandling him. Brilliant.
Think the refs won't be watching him like a hawk this week? Steer
clear until the Pittsburgh mess gets sorted out and Burress stops
saying retarded things.
Any Bears or Lions receiver vs. DET/CHI - No explanation necessary.
Do NOT start a receiver who's playing in this game.
Good luck, folks!