Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups
Id like to start off by thanking everyone who participated
in the Name My Column promotion last week. We got a
lot of good responses and
some not-so-good ones. Unfortunately,
the boss and I are having a hard time deciding on a winner. We just
dont think any submission really nailed this piece on the
head. The format is probably to blame (my fault) but were
gonna need something more to go on. That means we run it back, people.
Youve got one more week to come up with something brilliant,
something knock-our-socks-off, something that will permanently grace
these pages. Submit
all suggestions to me and I promise (I mean it this time) that
well choose a winner for the Week 10 column. While youre
brainstorming, here are this weeks must start, should start,
and dont start players.
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning @ MIA - Air
McNair takes a breather this week so Peyton inherits the top spot.
He might just keep it, too, if he puts up big numbers against a
tough Miami D. The Fish are yielding heaps of yardage through the
air but very few touchdowns (four in seven games).
2. Daunte Culpepper vs. GB - He
finally threw an interception last week (actually, two of them)
but everyone's entitled to a clunker now and then. Besides, he still
threw for almost 250 yards and a couple scores. If he doesn't match
those numbers against a questionable Packers secondary, you might
have cause for concern. That's a roundabout way of saying "rest
3. Marc Bulger @ SF - The Greatest
Show on Turf is lethal once again and this guy is the reason why.
We expect more than one touch when he throws for 375 bills but who's
complaining (other than TD-only folks)? The Niners won't contain
him any better than they did in Week 2, when he passed for 236 yards
and two TDs.
4. Brett Favre @ MIN - Why isn't
his consecutive starts streak compared to Ripken's more often? I
don't remember Cal Jr. getting decked by 300-lb. headhunters on
a regular basis. He makes it 181 straight Sunday night in a place
he'd just as soon never visit again (the Metrodump). Expect a loss
and some mistakes but also a bushel of yards and at least two scores.
5. Brad Johnson vs. NO - The Saints
are actually pretty decent vs. the pass (187.1 yards/game) but don't
force many turnovers (only seven so far). Not that Johnson, the
consummate pro, commits many. He'll put up a fair amount of yards
and a couple scores at Raymond James.
6. Jon Kitna @ ARI - The Cards
are becoming a tough out at home and the Bengals are on a roll.
In related news, denizens of Hell are bracing for an unusually frigid
winter. If you had the nerve to start Central Washington's finest
last week (240 yards and two TD tosses), congrats. Show me what
you're really made of and do it again.
7. Matt Hasselbeck vs. PIT - The
shackles were finally removed in Cincy and Hasselbeck exploded to
the tune of 347 yards and three scores. Unfortunately, he also threw
three picks. Expect more of the former and less of the latter if
the pathologically conservative Holmgren doesn't rein the kid in
versus an atrocious Steelers secondary.
8. Kerry Collins @ NYJ - I never
said he wasn't capable. I just didn't expect him to go off against
the Vikes in a historically inhospitable stadium. The Meadowlands
can be equally inhospitable
especially for the home teams when
they stink the joint up. Be wary of a letdown in Gotham as the Jets
defend the pass (159.5 yds/game) much better than they do the run
9. Tom Brady @ DEN - Though not
having a great year, Brady has outperformed such luminaries as Gannon,
Bledsoe, and Maddox. He faces a Denver secondary on Monday night
that is pretty efficient but not opportunistic. Expect a decent
game out of him and a touchdown pass or two.
10. Tommy Maddox @ SEA - Try as
I might, I can't bring myself to give up on him. He has the arm,
the weapons, and the motivation (Cowher's right boot). If he doesn't
make something happen against a slightly overrated 'Hawks secondary,
he may be on the way out. I have a feeling he will make something
Grab A Helmet:
Donovan McNabb @ ATL - How far has he fallen? Dan Reeves replaced
his entire secondary for this tilt and I STILL can't recommend Don
without reservations. If ever he was gonna turn the ship around,
it will happen in the Georgia Dome. He might even find one of his
bum receivers open in the endzone.
Chad Pennington vs. NYG - Looked just OK in his return last week
but should be fully up to speed against the G-men in Week 9. When
healthy, he's one of the most efficient QBs around. Santana Moss
is also emerging as a deep threat so look out if those two guys
establish a rapport.
Tim Rattay vs. STL - Banks, Chandler, Kanell, Tuiasosopo, and now
Rattay. Anyone still think the NFL babies its QBs? Believe it or
not, he might be the best of the bunch. He looked good in mop-up
duty vs. Minnesota and the Niners didn't sign him to a three-year
extension 'cuz he's a good guy. If I were in a pinch, I wouldn't
be afraid to start him.
Brian Griese vs. IND - In the least cleverly disguised demotion
of the week, Fiedler took a seat and Griese Jr. took the helm. That's
probably a good thing for owners of Ricky Williams as opponents
will now be forced to respect the long ball. Whether it's a good
thing for owners of Brian Griese remains to be seen. I'm guessing
he'll do a serviceable job but won't win anyone a fantasy championship.
Chris Chandler vs. SD - Normally, this would be an unconscionable
recommendation. Nonetheless, San Diego's secondary is awful (15
TDs yielded) and Chandler is just savvy enough to take advantage.
Don't expect big yards but a couple scores isn't out of the question,
especially if A-Train starts and takes the heat off.
Grab A Clipboard:
Tony Banks vs. CAR - What, Dan Pastorini wasn't available? This
guy got more shots than he deserved to prove he's a legitimate NFL
starter. He failed miserably every time. Nothing has changed except
that he's a little older (not wiser) and playing for a crappier
team. Leave him on the waiver wire where he belongs.
Kurt Kittner vs. PHI - Making matters even worse (is that possible?),
the franchise, Mr. Vick, is behind schedule on his rehab. It's time
the Atlanta brass pulled the plug on this season and handed the
ball to Kittner for good. If you feel like euthanizing your own
squad, do the same.
Aaron Brooks @ TB - His numbers are surprisingly good this year
(1695 yards, 12 TDs, and five picks). However, the Bucs play much
better when they're angry. Since they haven't beaten New Orleans
in almost two years, I'm guessing they'll be angry
will probably struggle as a result.
Danny Kanell vs. NE - His parents could only land nosebleed tix
in Baltimore. Lucky them. Plummer returns in two weeks so if you're
stuck with this guy in the interim, hang in there.
Joey Harrington vs. OAK - Simply put, he has no one to throw the
ball to. Things will get better but probably not this year and definitely
not this week. Go in another direction if you have that luxury.
Must Start: The Top 15:
1. Jamal Lewis vs. JAX - Even
with a rook at quarterback and facing defenses designed to stop
him, Lewis manages 139.6 yards per contest. That's outtasite. If
he scored more touchdowns, he'd be giving Priest a run for his money
as fantasy's golden goose.
2. Ricky Williams vs. IND - He
only tallied 95 total yards against the lowly Chargers and it took
him quite a few touches to do that. Is something wrong? Let's give
him another look now that Griese is firmly established as the starter.
The Colts aren't very good against the run, for the record (4.7
per carry and 131.0 per game).
3. Ahman Green @ MIN - It's not
a good enough reason to sit him (ever) but bear in mind that Packer
coaches are wearying of his fumble-itis and intend to give Najeh
Davenport more carries in the second half of the season. Of course,
Davenport has a reputation for butterfingers, as well, so that plan
could be short-lived.
4. Stephen Davis @ HOU - New Orleans
had no answer for him last week (178 yards and two touchdowns).
They're not alone. The Texans D is even more brutal (31st in the
league) and stands very little chance of slowing Mr. Davis down.
5. LaDainian Tomlinson @ CHI -
If not for a gift touchdown on Monday night (recovered fumble at
the one-yard line), his numbers would have been disappointing. Still,
he's obviously the show in San Diego and will continue to be until
Brees gets some decent protection. Expect heavy dosages of LaDainian
against a Bears squad that can't stop the run (4.7 per carry and
144.3 per game).
6. Shaun Alexander vs. PIT - Steady
as she goes. Alexander is a cinch for 100 total yards every week.
He probably won't give you too much more than that but it's awful
nice knowing what you'll get out of a guy on a consistent basis.
7. Deuce McAllister @ TB - Not
as steady as Alexander but definitely more explosive. He's having
a hard time finding the endzone this year and that's why he hovers
outside the Top 5. Tampa is getting stingier against the run by
the week so he could be in for a long day on Sunday.
8. Clinton Portis vs. NE - The
Pats are tough to run the ball against and have no reason to fear
Danny Kanell. That means Portis will hafta earn everything he gets
on Monday night. Because he's so talented, that'll probably be enough
to warrant starting him. He's no sure thing to score a touch, however.
9. Tiki Barber @ NYJ - He's coming
off a pretty large game against Minnesota (122 total yards and a
touch) and now faces the Jets, a team that can't seem to slow anyone
down on the ground. Even Philly's committee attack racked up almost
200 yards last week. Look out if Tiki is able to hold on to the
10. Domanick Davis vs. CAR - It
happens every single year. A guy comes out of virtually nowhere
and sets the league on fire. Davis is that guy in '03 and there's
no reason to think he'll fade away. He's physically gifted, he has
soft hands, and he's getting the opportunities. Ride him 'til he
IF he poops out.
11. Fred Taylor @ BAL - The Ravens
have only allowed three rushing TDs all year so it might be a stretch
to expect Taylor to score. Then again, it's Week 9 and he's still
playing. Isn't that a good enough reason to put him on this list?
12. Michael Pittman vs. NO - He's
as dangerous in the passing game as he is toting the rock and he
faces a 'Nawlins squad that got steamrolled by Stephen Davis last
week. I expect big things out of him as a result.
13. Charlie Garner @ DET - The
touchdown problem (only two so far) could be resolved this week
against a pitiful Detroit defense. Coach Callahan won't put too
much on Tuiasosopo's shoulders either, so he's a good start in the
14. Edgerrin James @ MIA - He's
turning into an enigma, of sorts. He can still move the football
(104 yards last week) but often becomes a second option in the red
zone, which stands to reason when your quarterback is named Peyton
Manning. If you're thinking of sitting him against a stellar Miami
D, I won't try to dissuade you. He's still a better option than
15. Anthony Thomas vs. SD - He's
not a lead pipe lock to play but if he does, you gotta start him.
The Bolts are giving up 4.4 yards per carry and Chicago doesn't
have a better option on offense. Check the injury report before
making a final decision.
Grab A Helmet:
Marcel Shipp vs. CIN - San Francisco was pretty good against the
until last week. Shipp pulverized them for 165 yards and
could do the same against a Cincinnati defense that is good but
not great (120.9 yards per game).
Rudi Johnson @ ARI - Speaking of Cincinnati, the Corey Dillon saga
got even weirder last week as he missed the Seattle game due to
multiple car wrecks (one he was involved in and another he witnessed).
He's officially listed as questionable so if he sits (likely), Johnson
becomes a tempting option.
Garrison Hearst vs. STL - The Cardinals shut him down but his numbers
have been stellar all year long (515 yards and three scores on the
ground). If the Rams jump out to a big lead, he may be neutralized
again. Still, Rattay is relatively inexperienced and Coach Erickson
may want to lean on a strong running game to help him out.
Moe Williams vs. GB - The already crowded backfield becomes even
more crowded with the return of Michael Bennett. That means this
may be the last week you wanna use Moe. The crippled Green Bay front
can be pushed around, though, and since Bennett will need some time
to get acclimated, Williams is still a decent option.
Correll Buckhalter @ ATL - It doesn't appear Westbrook will play
so Buckhalter likely gets the nod. Good thing for him because Atlanta
is a fun team to run the ball against (149.7 yards per game).
Grab A Gatorade:
Marshall Faulk @ SF - He's back but don't assume he'll pick up where
he left off. At least, not yet. The Rams intend to use him sparingly
since Arlen Harris has proven to be a very capable fill-in. Wait
a week or two.
Curtis Martin vs. NYG - The end is nearing for Martin and even though
he still puts up decent numbers (110 yards last week), he's losing
goal-line carries to Lamont Jordan. That is never a good thing.
T.J. Duckett vs. PHI - You're probably tempted to start him as long
as Kittner is under center. That's not a bad idea most weeks but
Philly is stout against the run (3.0 per carry and less than 100
per game). He's an iffy start at best in Week 9.
Any Detroit RB vs. OAK - For the second consecutive week, the Lions
face a horrible defense. For the second consecutive week, I implore
you to resist the urge to start Gary or Bryson. The committee approach
doesn't work for most teams. Why would it work for Detroit?
Onterrio Smith vs. GB - He has a bright future in the league but
he's got way too much competition right now. He could steal a carry
or two (maybe even a touchdown) but you don't wanna count on that
as you head down the homestretch.
Must Start: The Top 15:
1. Randy Moss vs. GB - His numbers
against Green Bay alone would comprise a career for lesser receivers.
Expect nothing to change on Sunday night as Culpepper will look
to him early and often
and deep. Gulp!
2. Torry Holt @ SF - I promised
he'd score last week and he did. If you're keeping track at home,
that's 3-0 for yours truly on guarantees this year. I probably wouldn't
be going out on a limb to predict another score but let's play it
safe and say he'll put up 100 yards at the very least.
3. Marvin Harrison @ MIA - Miami
isn't a favorable matchup, even for someone as great as Harrison.
Still, there's no reason to sit him. He'll get his yards and, with
any luck, a touchdown as well.
4. Chad Johnson @ ARI - Like his
more famous cousin (Meshawn), he's one cocky mofo. Unlike his more
famous cousin, he backs it up most of the time. Though he had me
worried, a 53-yard catch and sprint sealed the deal against the
'Hawks last week. Expect another big play (or two) in the desert.
5. Isaac Bruce @ SF - Holt's second
fiddle is good enough for first chair on your team. Hopefully, Bulger
will realize he's good enough to catch a TD every once in a while,
6. Hines Ward @ SEA - When Maddox
isn't throwing the ball to opposing defenders, he's usually throwing
it to this guy. Ward tallied 90 yards and a pair of scores against
St. Louis and could duplicate those numbers against a Seattle secondary
that is a year away from being great.
7. Terrell Owens vs. STL - With
Garcia on the shelf, it might seem logical to bump T.O. down a notch
or two. I think that would be a mistake. Young QBs often rely on
#1 receivers and there's no question who the #1 receiver in San
Fran is. Just ask him.
8. Joe Horn @ TB - He's been a
touchdown machine so far (six on the year) and Brooks is running
out of options with Stallworth hobbled. Tampa isn't a good matchup
but somebody will catch something this week and it will more than
likely be Mr. Horn.
9. Jimmy Smith @ BAL - Leftwich
is experiencing the usual growing pains but doesn't have many options
aside from Smith. He can still get deep (a 49-yard TD grab last
week) and will likely put up better numbers as the kid matures.
10. Amani Toomer @ NYJ - Would
you believe he's averaging more per catch (19.7) than any other
receiver on this list? Hilliard took away the scoring opportunities
last week but Toomer is still the main man and Collins' favorite
11. Donald Driver @ MIN - The
numbers say he doesn't belong in the Top 15 but the upside says
he does. He's still relatively young and also had a week off to
(finally) get healthy. Expect a big night at the Metrodome in (alas)
a losing effort.
12. Keenan McCardell vs. NO -
Keyshawn sniped a score but McCardell was clearly the go-to guy
last week (six catches for 68 yards). New Orleans gives up plenty
of touchdowns (12), too, if not a ton of yards through the air.
13. Steve Smith @ HOU - Ever since
I jumped on the bandwagon and called him "marginal," he's
gone nuts. Guess he showed me, huh? He'll probably add insult to
injury vs. a Texans secondary that's truly awful against the pass.
14. Laveranues Coles @ DAL - He
belongs in the Top 5 but I won't put him there until he finds the
endzone again. That isn't likely to happen this week against the
top-ranked (!!!) Dallas D. Yes, you heard me right.
15. Chris Chambers vs. IND - With
Griese in the fold, his stock increases exponentially. Teams that
focus on Ricky (and who wouldn't?) will likely pay the price when
this guy goes deep
especially now that his QB can reach him.
Grab A Helmet:
Jerry Porter @ DET - He adds an entirely new dimension (speed) to
a Raiders attack that sorely needed it. Facing a pitiful Detroit
secondary on Sunday, he could explode
provided Tui can get
him the ball.
Darrell Jackson vs. PIT - The Steelers are a sieve on defense right
now, decent numbers to the contrary. Next to Toomer, he's averaging
the most yards per catch (19.1) of anyone with more than 20 catches.
Expect big things this Sunday, maybe even a long touchdown grab.
Terry Glenn/Joey Galloway vs. WAS - Take your pick here but one
of these guys will score a touchdown against the reeling Redskins.
Glenn seems to be the receiver du jour but Galloway is just as capable
and a better deep threat.
Peerless Price vs. PHI - Call me a glutton for punishment but he's
suiting up for my squad this weekend. Brian Finneran should take
some heat off and the Eagles aren't very good vs. the pass (236.2
Todd Heap vs. JAX - He got jobbed by the replay gremlins last week
but is fast becoming Boller's most reliable target. He's also facing
a Jaguars secondary that doesn't provide much in the way of resistance
(221.3 yds./game and 12 touchdowns).
Santana Moss vs. NYG - It shouldn't have taken so long to make him
an integral part of the passing game but there's no use lamenting
that fact now. He faces a Giants secondary that is both hurting
and susceptible to big plays, Moss' specialty.
Grab Some Wood:
Plaxico Burress @ SEA - Has anyone noticed he could pass for Darius
Miles, the Cavs' waif-ish shooting guard? Unfortunately, he's putting
up Miles-like numbers of late (one snatch for six yards last week).
Worse yet, he's questioning Cowher's play-calling. You don't mess
with the dean of NFL coaches and get away with it
Koren Robinson vs. PIT - I must be insane since he faces the horrendous
Steelers secondary this week. Call it reverse psychology. He simply
must contribute more to be considered a viable option in fantasy
Any Denver receiver vs. NE - The Pats have yielded only three TD
receptions this year and it seems unlikely Kanell will break that
trend. Smith and Lelie will instantly become good options two weeks
from now so if you can afford to sit them down until then, do it.
Any New England receiver @ DEN - Don't get me wrong. These guys
can play. Unfortunately, that's precisely the problem. Brady likes
spreading the rock around and when the rock gets spread around,
individual stats suffer.
Good luck, folks!