Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups
Gut-check time. The stretch run. The big push. Whatever you wanna
call it, it's officially here, folks. With the bye weeks behind us
and just a few short weeks out front, you're fresh out of excuses.
Don't cry me that injury sad song, either. If I managed to stay in
the hunt minus Michael Vick, surely you can overcome the sudden loss
of studs like Shockey, Harrison, and Davis. Right? Guess we find out
for reals whether you've got that most precious of fantasy football
commodities, the one thing you can't be without if you plan on walking
away with your league's trophy: depth. They say D wins championships.
They were right…sort of. Here's a helping hand if you're starting
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Steve McNair vs. JAX - Air
McNair was his usual brilliant self vs. the Fish (201 yards and
two more scores) but the Titans didn't need him in the second half
of a blowout win. A victim of his own success, perhaps? Unfortunately,
that same scenario could unfold this week against a Jags secondary
that was lit up by Peyton. Root for Jacksonville to keep it interesting.
2. Peyton Manning vs. NYJ - He'll
be sans Marvin Harrison and that should concern you a bit. Why?
The Jets can't stop anyone from running the football. Expect Coach
Dungy to lean heavily on the O-line and Edge in this one
Peyton will certainly get his numbers.
3. Daunte Culpepper @ OAK - Minnesota's
defensive regression has been a real boon for Daunte. If the Vikes
continue to give up points aplenty, he could be in line for some
huge games in the immediate future (370 yards and four TDs last
week). There's no question the aging Raiders are ripe for the picking,
4. Marc Bulger @ CHI - At least
Favre had a decent excuse (inclement weather). What was Bulger's?
We'll give him a mulligan since the Bears are still playing musical
chairs in the secondary and couldn't contain a horrific Lions passing
attack last week.
5. Trent Green @ CIN - Cincinnati's
veteran corners are pretty decent but Green has been on fire of
late (368 yards and three scores last week). With arguably the best
security blanket in football behind him (Priest) and a fantastic
O-line in front of him, he should thrive in the Queen City.
6. Brad Johnson vs. GB - Thanks
to a leaky defense (horrors!), Johnson and the Bucs are firmly up
against it. Of course, defenses don't get much leakier than the
Pack's. He'll have plenty of time to throw and should find plenty
of open receivers (check that: WIDE open receivers) in Week 11.
7. Chad Pennington @ IND - Good
quarterback + bad defense = great start. Great quarterback + bad
defense = fantasy superstar. As long as his defense keeps digging
immense holes, expect Pennington to continue crawling out of them
with big points.
8. Aaron Brooks vs. ATL - Direct
from the eerie statistics department: Brooks and Hasselbeck have
both completed 164 passes in 277 attempts this year. Want weirder?
They've thrown for 13 touchdowns apiece. Want REALLY weird? They've
both run for 92 yards. If there's such a thing as a completely equitable
fantasy trade, this would be it.
9. Matt Hasselbeck vs. DET - Of
course, Brooks would trade his team's four victories for Hasselbeck's
six in a heartbeat. If you're wondering why the 'Hawks signal-caller
sits a spot lower, look no further than a receiving corps that couldn't
catch rain with a bucket
even in Seattle.
10. Jake Plummer vs. SD - The
Snake returns in time to face a Bolts secondary yielding almost
250 yards and two scores per game through the air. Forget about
the gimpy toe and get him back in your lineup. Then smile.
Grab A Helmet:
Donovan McNabb vs. NYG - His receivers still suck eggs but Donovan
seems to be getting his groove back. He'd be even more valuable
if he ventured out of the pocket more often. Luckily, he just might
have to do that against a Giants D leading the league in sacks.
Brett Favre @ TB - The elements shouldn't be a factor in Tampa so
expect Favre to rebound from a miserable performance. Failing that,
Coach Sherman could always opt for the ol' Statue of Liberty play.
I'm telling you
it'll go for a touch!
Jon Kitna vs. KC - There's only one surefire way to beat the Chiefs
and that's to score a lot of points. Believe it or not, Cincy is
capable. If Rudi Johnson can attract some attention in the ground
game, Kitna could have a nice day.
Tim Rattay vs. PIT - Coach Erickson says Garcia is the man if healthy.
That probably won't be this week, however, so Rattay gets another
chance to strut his stuff. Expect a solid and perhaps brilliant
performance against the crappy Steelers secondary on Monday night
talk of a controversy on Tuesday morning.
Drew Bledsoe vs. HOU - His struggles are well-documented and it
seems increasingly unlikely he'll get back to where he once was.
That said, he could tease us one last time with a sterling effort
against the dubious Houston secondary (243.1 yds/game and 16 touchdowns).
Grab A Clipboard:
Quincy Carter @ NE - The Pats give up a fair amount of yards through
the air but almost no scores (four all year). Carter is starting
to level off (you didn't see this coming?) and you can bet your
bottom dollar Coach Belichick will make his old buddy/nemesis, Tuna,
beat him with a below-average ground game.
Tom Brady vs. DAL - He's coming off a bye week and, before that,
a huge game against the Broncos. Nevertheless, he faces a Dallas
defense that is absolutely suffocating opponents of late (162.4
passing yds/game and a 49% completion rate). He's talented enough
to succeed but if you have a better matchup, go with it in Week
11. This one could be a slugfest.
Kerry Collins @ PHI - The Giants are a disaster right now
and simple. Unless Collins can cut down on his turnovers (questionable),
things could get real ugly real fast. He tossed two INTs against
the pitiful Falcons last week and now faces an improving Eagles
secondary without the services of Jeremy Shockey.
Anthony Wright @ MIA - He hasn't even PLAYED in a game since 2001
but still earned the starting nod over Chris Redman. Ouch! Here's
hoping Mr. Redman has plans for life after football. Expect a lot
of handing off to Jamal Lewis and nothing in the way of production
Kelly Holcomb @ ARI - Opposing QBs haven't fared too well in the
desert this year. Ask Messrs. Favre, Garcia, and Kitna if you don't
believe me. Then again, Holcomb hasn't fared too well anywhere else,
either (a 69.3 rating and seven INTs). Start someone else.
Must Start: The Top 15:
1. Priest Holmes @ CIN - Ho-hum.
Another 150+ all-purpose yards and two touchdowns against the Browns
last week. The only thing he needs to do now is stay healthy. (Knock
2. Ahman Green @ TB - If Stephen
Davis and Deuce McAllister can shred the Tampa D, why can't Batman?
He was a freight train on Monday night against the Eagles (224 total
yards and two TDs) and continues to be the #1 option in Green Bay's
offense (run or pass). Expect nothing to change this week against
3. Deuce McAllister vs. ATL -
Speaking of Deuce, he's had a week off to salivate over the thought
of facing Atlanta's front seven. Though they managed to keep Tiki
out of the end zone last week, the Falcons have still yielded 14
rushing touchdowns on the season. Anyone else smell guaranteed points?
Mark it down, folks.
4. Jamal Lewis @ MIA - Came down
with a case of the Ahmans in St. Louis (two fumbles) but still tallied
over 130 yards and a touch. He's clearly a marked man from here
on out so beware. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him struggle
against a stout Miami front in Week 11.
5. LaDainian Tomlinson @ DEN -
It's been feast or famine for LaDainian this year but mostly feast
of late. Now that Flutie Flakes is in the fold, he could become
even more dangerous. Expect a big day against a fairly average Denver
6. Clinton Portis vs. SD - Even
with Kanell under center, Portis was getting his share of yards.
Now that Plummer is back, he should really begin to hit his stride.
The Chargers are yielding a healthy 4.3 yards per carry on the ground
so another 100-yard outing and a touch or two seems almost certain.
7. Shaun Alexander vs. DET - Though
Mo Morris spells him on occasion (to the tune of 8.5 yards per carry,
no less), Alexander is still a brute who gets most of the meaningful
carries. That may change in the future but it won't change this
year. Ride this durable back down the stretch.
8. Edgerrin James vs. NYJ - He
disappeared against the Jags last week but Jacksonville's run defense
has been underrated all year. Not so the Jets. It would be difficult
to underrate a defense that gives up over 150 yards to Tyrone Wheatley,
Justin Fargas, and Zach Crockett.
9. Stephen Davis vs. WAS - He's
listed as probable on the injury report but you'll pardon me for
being a bit gun-shy after last week's eleventh hour pullout. He
trails only Jamal Lewis in yards/game (124) so he's a must-start
if he suits up, especially against a flimsy Redskins front he will
no doubt relish destroying.
10. Ricky Williams vs. BAL - He
seemed destined for a big year after some huge early-season games.
It's safe to say he's been a disappointment ever since. Will he
turn it around in time to help you out? Not unless the Dolphins
get some help in the trenches and Dan Marino decides to come out
11. Travis Henry vs. HOU - Don't
blame him for the Bills' struggles. He's been pretty solid of late
(almost 124 yards per game in his last three) and now squares off
against an overmatched Texans D. He should get a ton of carries
and I, for one, would be shocked if he doesn't find the endzone
at least once.
12. Marcel Shipp @ CLE - The Steelers
pretty much contained him last week and you can expect more teams
to zero in on this backfield bruiser as the season progresses. Nevertheless,
Cleveland's run defense is a joke (4.7 per carry) so they probably
don't have the manpower to slow him down. If the Cards jump out
to a lead and need to hold it, they'll ride herd on Mr. Shipp.
13. Marshall Faulk @ CHI - Carried
the ball 20 times in his return to the starting lineup
a paltry 48 yards. No matter. He found paydirt twice. The Bears
surrendered only 17 rushing yards last week but still give up over
120 per game on the season. It doesn't take a math wiz to figure
out they're capable of giving up many more.
14. Fred Taylor @ TEN - Does he
belong higher? Sure. Unfortunately, he's facing a Titans defense
that totally contained him in Week 8. If he doesn't carry the ball
more than nine times, he'll struggle again. For him to accomplish
that, Jacksonville's D will need to rise to the occasion.
15. Anthony Thomas vs. STL - The
Rams have forced a ton of fumbles this year and that seems to have
masked a general inability to stop the run (4.5 per carry). Since
Chicago has no other way to attack them, expect Thomas to get a
lot of opportunities in Week 11, regardless of how lopsided the
score ultimately becomes.
Grab A Helmet:
Domanick Davis @ BUF - Just when it seemed he might be headed for
a sub-par day, he broke off a 51-yarder and scored a few plays later.
The best part? He wasn't replaced by Stacey Mack on the goal line.
Thank you, Coach Capers.
Moe Williams/Michael Bennett @ OAK - I figured Moe's days as the
meal ticket were numbered. Little did I know he would emerge at
wide receiver (11 catches, 126 yards, and two scores last week).
What the hell? It's hard not to think Bennett's workload will increase
but whoever gets the majority of carries will be a good play against
the crummy Raiders.
Rudi Johnson vs. KC - Think Coach Lewis has some confidence in this
guy? NFL running backs do NOT carry the ball 43 times. Period. Something
tells me Dillon's injury will linger (a classic face-saving technique)
and that Johnson will assume the role of feature back for this season
and beyond. Just a hunch.
Michael Pittman vs. GB - 50 yards rushing and 47 receiving last
week. Weren't those his Week 9 numbers, too? Consistency is a good
thing in fantasy ball and you can even expect him to find the end
zone against a vanilla Pack D this Sunday.
Tyrone Wheatley vs. MIN - He's not fancy. He's not even fabulous.
He's simply a workhorse who can keep the Raiders defense off the
field for large stretches of time. Garner is iffy (back issues)
so if Wheatley gets the call again, expect a lot of carries and
a lot of yards against a suddenly suspect Vikes D (5.3 rushing yards
Grab A Gatorade:
Kevin Faulk vs. DAL - He's been a pleasant surprise for Pats fans
this year, if not exactly for fantasy owners. Regardless what you
think of him, he's losing time to Antowain Smith and would be unlikely
to do much against the superb Cowboys defense even if he weren't.
Find someone else.
Troy Hambrick @ NE - Tuna got a little bristly when the media asked
him about this guy's status earlier in the week. That means he's
irritated. Expect Mr. Hambrick to see some carries in the first
half but few in the second. He's in the doghouse for coughing up
too many pigskins and he's likely to stay there.
Eddie George vs. JAX - Something tells me he'll score a B.S. touchdown
(after a turnover maybe?) but I'm sticking to my guns: he's finished.
The Titans will continue spelling him with Chris Brown. Facing a
tough Jags front seven, he wouldn't be a good play anyway.
Any Detroit RB @ SEA - Did you miss that part about 17 total rushing
yards for the Lions last week? That was against the Bears. Not the
'85 version, either. This team doesn't have a CLUE how to run the
Trung Canidate @ CAR - You shouldn't be starting him anyway but
just in case, NO! He shared carries with Rock Cartwright last week
and despite two more touches, gained 47 fewer yards. The Canidate-as-feature-back
experiment is over, folks. Here's hoping you never panned for that
fool's gold to begin with.
Curtis Martin @ IND - As long as the Jets have a ghost of a chance
of making the playoffs, he'll see time. Coaches are weird that way
(read: extremely unrealistic). Still, the New York brass are already
giving Lamont Jordan more carries and Martin is about seven games
away from running back oblivion. Thank him for all the help over
the years and move on.
Must Start: The Top 15:
1. Randy Moss @ OAK - He put up
huge numbers last week (11 catches, 120 yards, and a score) and
wasn't even the most effective receiver on his own squad. Which
begs the question: how can two guys combine for 22 catches and 240
yards receiving and end up on the business end of a 42-28 thrashing?
Pray for shoddy defense when he plays 'cuz catch-up mode renders
2. Torry Holt @ CHI - The Greatest
Show took a breather last week but still pulled out the "W."
Expect the sailing to be significantly smoother against Chicago
this week. The Bears simply don't have the talent to slow this circus
3. Santana Moss @ IND - Despite
playing catch with Vinny most of the year, he's seventh in total
receiving yardage (726 yards). Just more confirmation that speed
kills in the NFL. Expect another big day on the turf in Indy.
4. Chad Johnson vs. KC - He just
got a $25 million raise. Think he can afford a muzzle now? Love
the talent, love the confidence, not so crazy about the predictions.
He'll be a marked man this week and for that, we gotta bump him
down a spot. Hate to do it, but
5. Derrick Mason vs. JAX - He's
the preferred target of my #1 QB. How could I rank him any lower?
He'll continue to lose red zone opportunities to the youngsters
but his yardage totals are good enough and consistent enough to
make him your #1 receiver. The touchdowns are gravy.
6. Joe Horn vs. ATL - Something
tells me the Saints offense is about to explode. Of course, that's
easy for me to say when they're facing the Falcons. How Atlanta
managed to hold the G-men to seven points is beyond me. There's
zero chance they duplicate the effort against a well-rested New
7. Terrell Owens vs. PIT - He
seems to be thrilled with the play of Timmy Rattay and that's half
the battle with T.O. Long as he's happy, he's a Top 5 talent. Something
else that should put a smile on his face this week: the Steelers
8. Hines Ward @ SF - He's no longer
losing touches to his highly overrated running mate. That means
Mr. Ward could explode in the second half, especially since the
Curtain needs all the wins it can muster. Expect 80-100 yards and
at least one touchdown on Monday night.
9. David Boston @ DEN - Not surprisingly,
Flutie's emergence translated into a re-emergence for Mr. Boston.
There's no question he's the top receiving threat for the Bolts
and the experienced signal-caller is smart enough to recognize that.
His good numbers could very well continue for the rest of the season.
10. Eric Moulds vs. HOU - He's
not 100% healthy and that's a major cause for concern. Still, he's
facing a Texans secondary that isn't very good. If Bledsoe gets
some time and Henry moves the chains (and Moulds actually plays),
he could find paydirt. No promises but I like his chances.
11. Laveranues Coles @ CAR - Finally!
He caught five balls for $1.25 and a touch against the 'Hawks last
week. As long as Ramsey has time to throw, he'll shine. Unfortunately,
Carolina's front is just a wee bit better than Seattle's.
12. Steve Smith vs. WAS - All
right already. I was wrong. So was everyone else, too. He's a big-time
receiver and deserves the jack. The more comfortable Delhomme gets,
the more valuable he'll become for you.
13. Tony Gonzalez @ CIN - Caught
seven balls for 70 yards and a touch last week. In case you haven't
noticed, most tight ends don't put up those kinda figures. Now that
Shockey is sidelined, he's the #1 man at the position again
he wasn't already.
14. Keenan McCardell vs. GB -
He's criminally underrated by most but he's probably a legit #1
receiver at this point. He's accumulated as many yards as Amani
Toomer and has three more Tds to boot. Isn't Toomer a #1 receiver?
My point exactly.
15. Jimmy Smith @ TEN - The Titans
are rolling but don't credit that to a secondary yielding an AFC-worst
259 yards/game. When Kevin Johnson joins him on the opposite side
(not this week, alas) he might even become more dangerous.
Grab A Helmet:
Amani Toomer @ PHI - He drops out of the Top 15 this week but only
because his quarterback is struggling mightily. The Eagles play
tough defense but can be victimized by the deep ball. That's Toomer's
specialty and I suspect he'll nab a long one this Sunday, maybe
even for a score.
Isaac Bruce @ CHI - He only caught two balls for 13 yards against
the Ravens last week. That's not good enough and Coach Martz knows
it. Expect the Rams to lay the wood at Soldier Field this week and
Bruce to put up much better numbers.
Justin McCareins vs. JAX - There's no truth to the rumor I haven't
mentioned him this year because his name is too hard to spell. He
flies under the radar a bit but Derrick Mason owners certainly know
who he is. He averages almost 17 yards per catch and has snagged
three touchdowns so far.
Reggie Wayne vs. NYJ - If Harrison sits (I'm assuming he will),
Wayne becomes a great start. Hell, he's a pretty good start even
when Starvin' Marvin plays (five scores this year). Peyton threw
for 347 yards last week and might need just as many this week against
the resurgent Jets.
Keyshawn Johnson vs. GB - The Packers tend to struggle against bigger
receivers (see Randy Moss) and this Sunday's game will have a playoff-like
feel. Meshawn has been coming on recently and there's no reason
to think he'll slow down against the questionable Pack secondary.
Rod Smith vs. SD - The Snake hasn't played in a month so I'm reluctant
to put him back in the Top 15. That said, I wouldn't think twice
about playing him against an atrocious Chargers secondary. Of course,
I can't do that 'cuz I don't own him in any of my leagues.
Grab Some Wood:
Travis Taylor @ MIA - An easy one. You shouldn't be playing him
anyway but with Anthony Wright at QB and the Dolphins on the other
side of the field, he'll be a non-factor.
Peerless Price @ NO - Patience, people. Don't let those rumors of
Vick's impending return go to your head. He can't do anything with
Kittner at QB. That means you sit him for at least one more week.
Donald Driver @ TB - It pains me to say it but he's just not making
a difference right now. A number of factors are at play here (injuries,
namely) but until Favre and Co. straighten things out, it's probably
best to put him on your bench.
Darrell Jackson vs. DET - It seems he's allergic to footballs. Though
he'll probably right the ship some day, his quarterback is likely
losing confidence in him. Sit him down and make him earn it before
you reinsert him.
Plaxico Burress @ SF - What a train wreck. He dropped a sure touchdown
pass last week and also committed a foolish offensive pass interference
penalty. Guess that's what happens when you PUBLICLY ANNOUNCE you're
going to get more physical with cornerbacks.
Andre Johnson @ BUF - They don't call it the rookie wall for nothing.
He's officially hit it and hit it hard. You don't wanna rely on
greenhorns as you make your stretch drive. Unless you're in a keeper
league, look for receiver help elsewhere.
Good luck, folks!