Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups
Week 14 has arrived and in most leagues, that can only mean one thing:
it's officially "go" time. In short order, the wheat will be separated
from the chaff, the cream from the crop, the men (and women) from
the boys. If you're good (or lucky) enough to have made it this far,
pat yourself on the back. I know I have. Countless times. In fact,
I'm starting to feel a little twinge in the old rotator cuff. But
enough about me. How are YOU doing? Need a little help? A little nudge
in the right direction? Some justification for those tough lineup
decisions? Read on. Just remember: the author cannot be held accountable
for hosing up your championship plans…even if he recommended you sit
Chris Chambers last week. D'oh!
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning @ TEN - Save
for one really bad interception, Peyton torched a very good New
England secondary in Week 13 (278 yards and four scores). No reason
he can't put up similar numbers against a Titans group that ranks
31st and 19th in yards allowed and pass efficiency, respectively.
2. Daunte Culpepper vs. SEA -
As is usually the case when Minnesota gets beat, Culpepper's numbers
were stellar (330 passing yards, 70 more on the ground, and one
touch). Since they'll more than likely struggle again this Sunday,
you can expect another huge day from the Vikes' QB
against a vastly overrated 'Hawks pass defense.
3. Matt Hasselbeck @ MIN - Perhaps
that Seattle secondary is just worn out from trying to contain this
guy Tuesday through Friday. Hasselbeck has been white hot of late
(10 TD strikes in his last three games) and should continue his
phenomenal play at the Metrodome.
4. Steve McNair vs. IND - He squares
off against Manning in a crucial divisional contest. Though you
never wanna bet against Peyton, there's no guy I'd rather have under
center in a big game than this guy. Expect him to lay it all out
there to the tune of 250-300 yards and a couple scores.
5. Donovan McNabb vs. DAL - Was
Fiedler that good on Thanksgiving Day or was Dallas that bad? At
the very least, Miami exposed some weaknesses in the Cowboys secondary.
Donovan, like McNair, is a big game quarterback and they don't get
much bigger than a contest that likely decides the NFC East title.
6. Chad Pennington @ BUF - The
Jets' wunderkind is staring at sub-freezing temperatures and a stiff
Buffalo defense (3rd in passing yards allowed) in Week 14. Is that
a good enough reason to sit him? Probably not, but it's worth taking
7. Jon Kitna @ BAL - Len Pasquarelli
(ESPN.com scribe) actually used the words "Jon Kitna"
and "MVP" in the same column earlier this week. The crazy
part? It didn't sound crazy. If my calculations are correct, he's
the third-highest fantasy points getter at the quarterback position.
They BETTER be correct 'cuz I'm starting him over Favre in one of
my playoff tilts (don't tell my Packer buddies).
8. Tom Brady vs. MIA - Still think
that Pats Super Bowl prediction is off base? We'll see. Brady is
working with below-average receivers and backs (way below average)
yet still puts up the numbers. Good enough for me against a bend-but-don't-break
Miami pass defense he lit up once already this year.
9. Marc Bulger @ CLE - His two
biggest yardage days have come out of doors. Nevertheless, he's
thrown for only five TDs and eight picks on the real stuff. Like
the Bills, Cleveland has two things going for it: Jack Frost and
a solid secondary (190.2 yards/game and just 11 touchdowns). Beware.
10. Trent Green @ DEN - Sweeping
a divisional opponent is tough (ask Mr. Favre) but sweeping a divisional
opponent on the road is even tougher. Green's numbers weren't stellar
in the first game (128 yards, two TDs, and a pick) and I suspect
they won't be much better this Sunday at Mile High. I also suspect
the Chiefs will lose their second game, for whatever that's worth.
Grab A Helmet:
Michael Vick vs. CAR - Well, it's about freakin' time! If you managed
to stash him on your bench all year (and you don't have a great
#1 option), now is the time to unleash him on an unsuspecting playoff
opponent. Vick owners got a little taste last week (8 of 11 for
60 yards and a few scampers) and it was enough to make us think
the wait, though interminable, may well have been worth it.
Jake Delhomme @ ATL - Of course, Mr. Vick can't help the woeful
Atlanta secondary much. Delhomme may not be a playoff-caliber QB
but most playoff-caliber QBs don't face Atlanta in the playoffs.
Go with him if you've made it this far.
Brett Favre vs. CHI - He's been throwing interceptions in my nightmares
for almost a week now. Can somebody make it stop? Luckily, the Bears
are coming to town. That can only mean one thing: get The Ol' Gunslinger
in your lineup. He OWNS Chicago.
Jeff Garcia vs. ARI - To say he struggled last week would be an
insult to struggling quarterbacks (are you listening, Mr. Collins?).
Nonetheless, he's facing a Cardinals secondary that gave up 284
yards and two touchdowns last week. To Kordell Stewart. Needless
to say, I like his chances of bouncing back.
Byron Leftwich vs. HOU - You more than likely have a better option
but on the off chance you're doing it with world-class backs and/or
big-time receivers, don't be afraid to stick with the rook. He looked
good against Tampa (224 yards and two scores) and the Jags are playing
with a lot of fire right now. Plus, he's facing a miserable Texans
Grab A Clipboard:
Quincy Carter @ PHI - He continues to make too many mistakes (three
picks and a fumble last week) and will struggle to perform well
against a hot Eagles squad that hasn't lost since
the last time they faced Dallas in Week 6. Is that right?
Brad Johnson @ NO - I still think he's one of the most underrated
signal callers in the NFL but the cards are stacked against him
at the moment. The Bucs are out of the playoffs, team morale is
low, and his receiving corps is a complete shambles. Making matters
worse, the Saints sport a pretty decent pass defense (less than
Anthony Wright vs. CIN - Are you the gambling type? Here's your
QB. Though the Ravens have scored 44 points in two consecutive games
(!!!), Wright is only partially responsible. Turnovers and solid
field position were the keys to victory last week and we can't expect
Cincy to be nearly as obliging.
Jay Fiedler @ NE - Carter's Thanksgiving opponent put on a show
(four total TDs, one on the ground) but will be hard-pressed to
match those numbers at Foxboro. The reason? He's simply not that
good. I was wrong about his teammate last week but I won't be wrong
about this guy in Week 14.
Kordell Stewart @ GB - Don't go getting giddy on me. He WAS facing
Arizona, after all. Kordell's first matchup with Green Bay was forgettable
(201 yards, no TDs, two picks) and this one should be, as well.
If it isn't, don't bother e-mailing me. I'll be busy sucking down
some Thunderbird in a neighborhood gutter.
Must Start: The Top 15:
1. Ahman Green vs. CHI - Now might
seem like a strange time to hand over the top spot to him but, like
Favre, he's made a career out of gouging the Bears. He rushed for
176 yards and a couple scores the first time they met and Chicago's
run defense hasn't improved much since then (121.6 yards/game and
4.5 per rush). Oh, and he's had ten days off.
2. Priest Holmes @ DEN - Not surprisingly,
he tortured the Chargers last week with 186 total yards and two
more touchdowns. That gives him 17 on the season. Unfortunately,
they've all come on the ground
which is odd when you consider
he's a great receiving threat. The Broncos have surrendered just
five rushing TDs all year so something has to give this Sunday.
3. Deuce McAllister vs. TB - He's
only been sub-hundy (in total yards) once this season. It happened
way back in Week 3. That means you've been getting at LEAST ten
points out of him (and usually much more) every single week. I GUARANTEE
he'll do it again this week as the Bucs continue to go through the
4. Jamal Lewis vs. CIN - His team
scored 44 points but only ran 55 plays. That happens when you inherit
the ball multiple times on the opposing team's side of the field.
He's still the best weapon Baltimore has and they'll need him to
come up big in a showdown with the playoff-starving Bengals.
5. LaDainian Tomlinson @ DET -
He's averaging under 20 touches per contest the past five games.
Simply not good enough. Luckily for Tomlinson owners, the kid knows
what to do with the rock when he does get it (namely, run like hell
and score touchdowns). Don't expect a Thanksgiving-esque performance
out of the Lions defense this Sunday.
6. Clinton Portis vs. KC - Coach
Schottenheimer could learn a thing or two from Coach Shanahan. Portis
garnered 34 carries last week (for 170 yards) and looked like he
could have handled 34 more. If Denver stands any chance of pulling
off the upset (they do), he will need to see the ball that much
7. Shaun Alexander @ MIN - Only
one team gives up more than five yards per carry. Purple people-eaters
they most certainly are not. Alexander is coming off a large game
against Cleveland (127 yards and a touch) and should have an absolute
field day in the Metrodump.
8. Stephen Davis @ ATL - Minnesota
gives up all the yards but Atlanta gives up all the touchdowns.
Indeed, the Falcons have yielded 19 rushing TDs this season, most
in the NFL. That's probably not a good thing with Mr. Davis coming
to town. He destroyed them in Week 4 (191 total yards and a score)
and will be hungry to do so again as the Panthers attempt to rekindle
home-field advantage hopes.
9. Marshall Faulk @ CLE - I'll
tell you who's been rekindling a lot lately: this guy. After returning
from fantasy oblivion, Marshall has reeled off three straight 100-yard
games and four touchdowns, to boot. If he keeps the revival rolling
in Cleveland, the Rams just might find themselves playing inside
a lot come playoff time.
10. Fred Taylor vs. HOU - Like
I said, the Jags are playing inspired ball of late and Taylor is
a large part of the reason why. He seems determined to silence his
critics and play a full season, even if it's for a mostly crappy
team. Expect big numbers against a pillow-soft Texans front seven
(134.3 yards/game and 4.3 per carry).
11. Travis Henry vs. NYJ - He
seems like an iffy start every week but always manages to suit up
well. 20-plus carries in six straight games should
assuage any fears you have of him becoming a last-minute scratch.
He's a great start this week 'cuz he faces the abominable Jets run
defense (148.6 yards/game and 4.2/carry).
12. Ricky Williams @ NE - The
matchup is not favorable but Ricky's been better recently. Plus,
he managed to crank out good numbers against an even tougher Dallas
D ten days ago. So long as the Dolphins don't fall far behind (and
they shouldn't), he's a valuable playoff back for you.
13. Edgerrin James @ TEN - Edge
is a valuable playoff back as well, but his matchup is even worse
than Williams'. The Titans have snuffed out some of the best rock-toters
in the league and are now giving up only 75.8 yards/game. If Edge
follows suit, he better score a touchdown or it's gonna be curtains
for his owners.
14. Jerome Bettis vs. OAK - How'd
he get on this list? A matchup recommendation all the way, folks.
The Bus--though better of late--is certainly not a top-tier back
anymore. However, the Raiders are giving up a cool buck-fitty per
game on the ground. That means for at least one week, you could
do much, much worse.
15. Domanick Davis @ JAX - Believe
it or not, the Jags field the second-best run defense in the league
(85.4 yards/game and 3.2/rush). That should mean a seat on the bench
for Mr. Davis. However, he's managed to get his yards against even
the league's best (Tennessee and Jacksonville earlier in the season).
I say you forget about the numbers and give him a whirl. He's brought
you this far.
Grab A Helmet:
Michael Bennett vs. SEA - It's kind of hard to be the feature guy
when your defense puts you in a hole every week. Big comebacks aren't
mounted on the strength of running attacks so Bennett owners better
hope the Vikes don't fall behind yet again (a very real possibility).
T.J. Duckett vs. CAR - The Panthers are stout against the run but
will more than likely be preoccupied with the only guy who can make
the Falcons dangerous, Mr. Vick. That should mean a couple sneaky
runs and maybe even a sneaky touch for Duckett
if you can call
anything a 250+-pound running back does "sneaky."
Tiki Barber vs. WAS - The 'Skins give up over 130 rushing yards
a tilt and don't seem to have the talent to contain Tiki and the
Giants. Of course, any team can be contained once they start mailing
which is exactly what the G-men are doing. I think
Tiki has a little more pride than the others and will manage to
put up good numbers this weekend.
Kevan Barlow vs. ARI - It's hard to believe he hasn't seized the
starting position from Garrison Hearst yet. He gets it by default
this week and should thrive against a Cardinals defense that has
simply stopped playing for its lame duck coach.
Grab A Gatorade:
Any Detroit RB vs. SD - Gasp! Shawn Bryson actually scored a touch
last weekend! He then promptly took a seat as Olandis Gary got his
standard reps. This situation is a disaster and if you made it to
the playoffs by starting either of these guys (even once), I wanna
know. Don't B.S. me, either. I'll know you're lying.
Corey Dillon/Rudi Johnson @ BAL - They each got 11 touches last
week and neither scored a touchdown. Thanks a lot, Coach Lewis.
Stay away since the Bengals face a Ravens squad that has given up
only five rushing scores on the season.
Any Dallas RB @ PHI - The Cowboys' leading rusher on Thanksgiving
Day? Try Quincy Carter. You don't need these guys to win your league
so don't even bother. Dallas' 2004 opening day start likely plays
for someone else this year
or in the college ranks.
Anthony Thomas @ GB - Thomas appears to be over his bout with pneumonia
but faces a well-rested (and angry) Packers team that isn't terrible
against the run. His 110-yard effort in the first matchup is a bit
deceiving as well, since he got most of them on a 67-yard touchdown
burst. Sit him down unless you don't have a better option.
Michael Pittman @ NO - Inexplicably, he's losing goal-line carries
to Thomas Jones. Don't waste time wondering why. It's too late for
that. Sit him down and move on. You'll be much happier.
Must Start: The Top 15:
1. Randy Moss vs. SEA - After
a one-week hiatus, Randy returns to the top spot. It may have been
garbage time in St. Louis but 10 catches, 160 yards, and a touch
still look goods on the fantasy scoresheet. Besides, if Minnesota's
defense doesn't improve (in a hurry), there could be plenty more
garbage time to come.
2. Torry Holt @ CLE - He went
over 100 yards again last week but didn't find the end zone. In
fact, that's two weeks running without a touchdown for the Rams'
#1 weapon. Cleveland is no slouch against the pass so three straight
doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility. Then again, neither
does a score or three.
3. Chad Johnson @ BAL - The
stingy Ravens had no answer for him in Week 7 (130 yards and a TD).
They shouldn't feel too bad, though. Most teams don't. Expect another
big day from The Oracle.
4. Marvin Harrison @ TEN - Provided
he's healthy, Peyton's #1 guy will never fall out of the Top 5.
He managed 88 yards and a score last week and should have no problem
duplicating those numbers against a sieve-like Tennessee secondary
5. Terrell Owens vs. ARI - The
Niners will have revenge on the mind when they tangle with Arizona
this week. So long as Garcia bounces back from a putrid performance
last week (he should), T.O. will be good for 100 yards and a touch.
Better pack some earplugs just in case, though.
6. Santana Moss @ BUF - His touchdown
string was broken at seven games but he still tallied 90 yards in
limited opportunities on Monday night. Though the Bills have been
strong against the pass, I expect Moss to find paydirt this Sunday.
7. Hines Ward vs. OAK - He's coming
off a huge game against the Bengals (13 catches, 149 yards, and
a score) and is not the type of player to lay down even though the
season has gone down the tubes. With nothing but pride on the line,
expect him to exude oodles of it.
8. Darrell Jackson @ MIN - Here's
an idea, folks. Make sure I haven't actually ranked him in the Top
10 before chastising me for never doing so. You just can't win sometimes,
I tell ya'. Jackson is deserving of the spot whether I think so
or not thanks to two huge games in a row (248 yards and four TDs).
Minnesota's lax defense offers another opportunity for fantasy riches
so suit him up.
9. Derrick Mason vs. IND - Opposing
QBs are completing 64% of their passes against the Colts. That's
good enough for 32nd place in a 32-team league. McNair will be hurling
it early and often and when he's not looking for Justin McCareins,
he'll be looking for this guy
just as he did on Monday night
(11 catches, 133 yards, and a touch).
10. Steve Smith @ ATL - All eyes
will be on Michael Vick but Delhomme and Smith could very well steal
the show against a horrible Falcons secondary (253.3 yards/game).
The Panthers' #1 target caught five balls for 80 yards and a score
last week and there's no good reason he can't do so again.
11. Jimmy Smith vs. HOU - Leftwich
has found his comfort zone and it's usually inhabited by this guy.
Smith went nuts vs. the Bucs (10 catches, 136 yards, and one TD)
and has to be licking his chops at the prospect of facing a Texans
D yielding 243 passing yards per contest.
12. Keenan McCardell @ NO - Charles
Lee may be the hot free agent snag of the week but he's a distant
second value-wise to McCardell. With Keyshawn catching a studio
tan and Jurevicious whirlpool wading, expect Tampa's #1 threat to
get plenty of attention from Brad Johnson.
13. Anquan Boldin @ SF - The Niners
have surrendered 18 passing touchdowns this year which places them
in some pretty questionable company (Houston and Detroit). Though
they managed to shut down Boldin in the first meeting, they might
be hard-pressed to do it again. He's the only rookie other than
Dom Davis worth starting as the playoffs begin.
14. Tony Gonzalez @ DEN - I'd
be willing to bet almost all of his owners are still playing right
now. He caught only four balls last week but maximized profit by
virtue of two touchdown grabs. If only I owned him in all of my
leagues instead of just one.
15. Isaac Bruce @ CLE - Talk about
your triple threats! The Reverend caught three balls (for 49 yards
and a touch), ran it once (for 14 more), and even completed a 41-yard
strike in the win over Minnesota. Guess the Rams are committed to
involving him in every way imaginable.
Grab A Helmet:
Peerless Price vs. CAR - Vick enters the game and almost instantly,
Peerless catches three passes. It's been a long, tough road for
his owners this season, but the patience may finally pay off. Price
is getting the nod in my playoff matchups and he should in yours,
Laveranues Coles @ NYG - He probably shouldn't be your #1 option
anymore but he's a serviceable #2 guy and a valuable #3 (if you're
that deep). Besides, how many other #2/#3 receivers get 10 or more
looks a game? Answer: not many.
Javon Walker vs. CHI - The Pack's receiving corps is largely unreliable
but at least Walker manages to find the end zone a lot. He's caught
only 28 balls this season but almost ¼ of them (six) have
gone for touchdowns. If you value the scores over the yardage, he's
Chris Chambers @ NE - Gimme a break already! Prior to last week's
explosion, he'd managed precisely one huge game so far this year.
Still (as I mentioned last week, mind you), he DOES find pay dirt
a lot. That's usually good enough to make a guy worth starting.
So, start him
and get off my back.
Justin McCareins vs. IND - Like Walker and Chambers, he's more of
a quality guy than a quantity guy. He's never caught more than five
passes in a game but he's still managed to score one touchdown in
each of his last four contests. That means he's an up-and-comer
who can definitely help you in the playoffs.
Koren Robinson @ MIN - For once, he didn't let us down last week.
No doubt you were hoping he'd crack the Top 15 but I can't recommend
him that highly
yet. Explosive he is. Reliable he is not. Give
Grab Some Wood:
Joe Horn vs. TB - He's still getting respect in fantasy circles
but it's time to cut bait for this season. Seriously. He's totaled
146 yards in his last four games and hasn't even sniffed the goal
line. How bad would it be to lose a playoff game 'cuz you thought
Horn was "due" for a breakout game? Just don't.
Andre Johnson @ JAX - His quarterback is hurting and the backups
(Mike Quinn and Dave Ragone) are ghastly. Expect Coach Capers to
put the ball in Dom Davis' hands most of the time.
Terry Glenn @ PHI - Quincy Carter has thrown five picks and no Tds
in his last two road games. Not coincidentally, the Cowboys were
shut out in both games. Philly is certainly better than Tampa and
almost as good as New England so the Dallas offense (Glenn included)
could struggle again.
Eddie Kennison @ DEN - For a guy who doesn't do much (five catches
for 59 yards the past two weeks), he sure had a lot to say about
this week's matchup in Denver. Chad Johnson can get away with it
'cuz he's good. Kennison? No such luck.
Eric Moulds vs. NYJ - He made it through a whole game for once.
Unfortunately, his numbers were painfully pedestrian (five catches
for 66 yards). At this point, he's simply not worth the hassle.
Good luck, folks!