Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Joseph

Jospeh's Articles

The Shot Caller's Report
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups

In the spirit of democracy and in honor of newly minted Governor Schwarzenegger (isn't America great?), I'd like to pose a question to my loyal readers. All six of them. It's come to my attention that some are confused by the "Must Start" rankings, wondering essentially why I list players who are either injured or on a bye week. To clarify, I always envisioned the Top 10/15 lists as dynamic yet consistent lists of the best available fantasy players on a rolling basis, regardless of specific matchups. I simply felt there should be a weekly accounting of the top fantasy starters, the guys you wouldn't sit unless forced to do so. I figured, perhaps incorrectly, that readers could certainly read between the lines and fill in the gaps with "Should Start" guys or others who faced a particularly susceptible opponent.

So, the question: is this working? Is this the way you want it? I don't write these articles to hear myself talk (though I certainly enjoy that, too) and I'm definitely open to any and all suggestions. I'd like nothing better, in fact, than to hear some feedback on this issue. Please e-mail with comments if you have the time. I (obviously) have time to read them. If I get enough guys/gals wanting a more conventional start/sit list (sans players on bye or on the injured list), I'll change the format. Until then, here are the "Must Start" and "Should Start" players for Week 6.


Must Start: The Top 10 Plus 1

1. Peyton Manning vs. CAR - OK, I'll fess up. I turned it off. Luckily, I had nothing better to do and flipped it back on in the nick of time. 34 of 47 for 386 bones and a couple touches? Against THAT defense? Nothing short of spectacular, folks. The hits keep on coming in the form of a Carolina D that is stout but vulnerable in the passing game.

2. Steve McNair @ NE - Thanks to a paltry ground attack, he's a one-man show in Tennessee (eight TDs against two INTs and a 99.6 rating). That's bad in the long run for Fisher and the boys but good for owners of Air McNair. Faces a ball-hawking Texans D in Week 6.

3. Daunte Culpepper (Bye) - He's slated to return after the week off. Not that he's been missed all that much.

4. Drew Bledsoe vs. CIN - Didn't perform overly well against the Bungles. However, he's got Travis Henry back and faces a Jets pass defense that hasn't been tested. Of course, there's a good chance he could be missing Moulds this week. D'oh! Guess it's time for Josh Reed to emerge, eh? I'm not banking on it.

5. Brett Favre vs. KC - Campaigned O. Coordinator, Tom Rossley, to open up the offense before last week's game. Mission accomplished. He now trails only Peyton with nine touchdowns passes on the year. The thieving Chiefs (10 picks) visit Lambeau hoping to capitalize on his occasional lapses in judgment.

6. Matt Hasselbeck vs. SF - Flopped in his return to Titletown (225 yards, no TDs, and one pick) but should be primed for the Sunday night contest vs. the Niners. He could really use a safety valve (i.e., a tight end) to take some of the heat off. The return of tackle Chris Terry might help, as well.

7. Brad Johnson @ WAS - The defense let him down on Monday night (boy, did they let him down!) but he still put up huge numbers (318 yards and three scores). Returns to his old stomping grounds in Week 6, potentially without the services of Meshawn. That's not a good enough reason to sit him in case you're wondering.

8. Jake Plummer vs. PIT - The Snake's numbers are eerily similar to Johnson's (eight TDs against three picks) but he has a significantly better rushing attack to lean on. Not that he'll need it against a suddenly porous Steelers secondary that's allowing opposing QBs to complete 68% of their passes. Make sure he's gonna play before you start him, though.

9. Patrick Ramsey vs. TB - Joins the Top 10 just in time to face an angry Bucs D that was torched by Manning and Harrison. Uh-oh. Ramsey and The Ballcoach better hope Chucky's gang experiences the inevitable Monday night/big loss hangover.

10. Kerry Collins @ NE - Took a huge step back in Week 5 against the tough Miami D (no TDs and three picks). Still, he has some of the best weapons in the league to work with. The acid test is this week against a fairly crummy New England D that, nevertheless, has tallied 14 sacks and has only allowed two passing TDs all year.

11. Michael Vick (Inj.) - Was he worth a pick in re-draft leagues? You betcha so long as you're still treading water and can afford to be without him until playoff push time.

Grab A Helmet:

Jeff Garcia @ SEA - His 67.4 rating and seven picks have bumped him out of the Top 10 but he seems to be back in synch with TO. Seattle, although decent against the pass, was exposed somewhat against Favre last week. Experienced QBs vs. inexperienced secondaries usually spell trouble in high-profile games and the Sunday nighter in Latteland (aka, Sharpie Bowl II) DEFINITELY qualifies as a high-profile game.

Marc Bulger vs. ATL - Warm up the scoreboard at Edward Jones. Atlanta's secondary is atrocious and Coach Martz has had two weeks to prepare. It's not like Bulger is a stiff, either (88.2 rating and five TD passes in three starts).

David Carr @ TEN - His numbers aren't stellar but he improves seemingly every week and is coming off a bye. The Titans will miss Samari Rolle (bad elbow) dearly in the next month or so, starting in Week 6 as they attempt to contain Andre Johnson.

Tom Brady vs. NYG - His inconsistency makes him a questionable start in general but the G-men are downright crappy vs. the pass. Even after a decent performance against the Dolphins, they still rank 32nd in passing yardage yielded. That would be 32nd as in dead last.

Tim Couch vs. OAK - It's hard to believe the Raidahs have fallen so hard, so fast. Believe it. Couch is coming off a 20 of 25 performance against the Steelers and seems to be playing with fire and desperation. He's a solid play this week against an over-the-hill Oakland bunch.

Grab A Clipboard:

Byron Leftwich vs. MIA - As I predicted (pat, pat), he torched the lame-o Chargers secondary in Week 5. He'll find the sledding a lot tougher against an experienced Miami secondary, however. Expect him to throw for a fair amount of yards but turn the ball over a couple times in his first game as the "official" starter.

Trent Green @ GB - Outside of Gannon and McNabb, he's probably been the most disappointing fantasy signal-caller this year. That is stunning when you consider KC is widely regarded as the NFL top dog through five weeks. The Pack isn't very adept at stopping the run so expect heavy dosages of Priest and only a smattering of Green in Week 6.

Quincy Carter vs. PHI - I'm starting to believe in the guy. However, I'll reserve judgment until he beats a good team. Philly is no great shakes against the pass but Carter is at his best when the pressure is off. Since the Eagles are stalwart against the run, the pressure will definitely be on. I want to be wrong about this one, for the record.

Kyle Boller @ ARI - If you're starting Boller, you need to have your head examined. His best receiver (not including Todd Heap) is Travis Taylor, who has tallied a grand total of 90 yards in four games. Arizona is an easy mark, for certain, but the rook won't capitalize. Not that he'll need to.

Donovan McNabb @ DAL - He's finally winning but last I checked, wins aren't a fantasy category. Stay away until he irons things out and/or finds an NFL-caliber receiver to play catch with. He will, by the way…eventually.

Jeff Blake vs. BAL - He's not terrible but will be without Emmitt (indefinitely) and Bryant Johnson (most likely) vs. the Ravens. Arizona didn't have a lot of weapons to begin with. Find someone else.

Running Backs

Must Start: The Top 15:

1. Priest Holmes @ GB - I'm a notorious Packer homer (or hadn't you noticed?) but I'm not stupid. I'll start him this week and expect at LEAST 100 yards and a touch vs. my boys, who are yielding 120+ yards/game on the ground.

2. Ricky Williams @ JAX - Only a late score saved him from an uncharacteristically poor performance against the Giants. Jacksonville's D is definitely better and very good against the run (3.0 per carry) but he'll get enough touches to overcome that.

3. Ahman Green vs. KC - Packer homer or no, he trails only Priest in fantasy scoring. If you were scared away by the threat of reduced carries, it's time to jump back on the bandwagon. He's a stud and will always benefit from the added attention paid to The Ol' Gunslinger.

4. Jamal Lewis @ ARI - Fresh off a bye week, he faces an Arizona defense that (surprisingly) hasn't given up a run longer than 19 yards this year. That should change since he's averaging 6.5 per carry and leading the league in rushing yardage.

5. Clinton Portis vs. PIT - Racked up 220 total yards and a touch vs. a pretty good KC D in Week 5. Imagine what he'll do against a reeling Curtain at Mile High. If Beuerlein starts, Shanahan might ride him even harder.

6. Stephen Davis @ IND - Forget Dante Hall. THIS guy is the MVP of the league so far. He's averaging 141+ per game, the Panthers are 4-0, and most casual fans couldn't even tell you who the starting quarterback is. What was Daniel Snyder thinking exactly?

7. Shaun Alexander vs. SF - Performed well (20 carries for 102 yards and a score) in a losing effort last week. Unfortunately, he faces a much better run defense on Sunday night. Wait…did somebody say Sunday night? This guy is UNBELIEVABLE on Sunday nights.

8. Fred Taylor vs. MIA - Hope you bet the over on "Fred Taylor - Games Played" at the start of the season. He's been a silver lining for the lowly Jags (nearly 120 total yards/game) but the Miami defense threatens a touch of grey in Week 6.

9. LaDainian Tomlinson (Bye) - How does he only get ten carries against Jacksonville? I know this sounds crazy but if you have a Tomlinson lover in your league, now might be the time to swing a deal with him. The guy is just not reliable. The Bolts lost yet another O lineman last week, as well, so the going is bound to get tougher in the coming weeks.

10. Edgerrin James vs. CAR - He's playing us like Clinton Portis did. We don't like being played, do we? If you have a decent backup, go with him this week. Even if Edge starts, Carolina has given up precisely one rushing TD this year.

11. Deuce McAllister vs. CHI - The Bears are allowing 168.5 yards per game on the ground and Deuce has been the lone bright spot for the Saints. I smell big day for the former Reb in the Superdome.

12. Tiki Barber @ NE - Why aren't the Giants better? It's hard to believe they'll underperform all year and when they do snap out of it, Barber will likely lead the charge. He hasn't been that bad but isn't finding paydirt and, oddly enough, isn't catching many passes out of the backfield. Puzzling, for sure.

13. Travis Henry @ NYJ - Bledsoe's struggles and Moulds' injury make him even more valuable heading into the Meadowlands. Don't count on him getting complacent, either, since Willis McGahee appears ready to start practicing soon.

14. Moe Williams (Bye) - The bye week gives O. Smith time to get more comfortable and Michael Bennett time to recuperate. Roughly translated, that means Moe's days as a starter are probably numbered. Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't milk him for all he's worth until then.

15. Marshall Faulk (Inj.) - He'll never regain his elite status, most likely. Nevertheless, I'd hate to run into him in the playoffs…provided I make it that far.

Grab A Helmet:

Charlie Garner @ CLE - I'll never be a big fan due to his relatively light workload (51 carries so far) but he seems to make the most of his opportunities (5.0 per tote). He DOES need to score more and might just do that against a fairly horrendous Cleveland front seven.

Michael Pittman @ WAS - Alstott is out for the season so if you're still worried about the committee effect, fear not. Pittman is the man for now and is definitely robust enough to carry the load. He's also fairly versatile and is tied with Meshawn for the team lead in receptions (21).

William Green vs. OAK - He's fourth in the league in carries (102 attempts) but way down the list in yards/carry (3.4). He also hasn't found the endzone yet. OK, now for some good news: Oakland is absolutely dreadul against the run (163.4 per game) and Green stands a better than even chance of scoring in Week 6.

Lamar Gordon vs. ATL - If he keeps producing like he has been (4.4 per carry), there could be another public controversy when Faulk returns. At the very least, Gordon gives the Rams another weapon for a playoff run…as if they needed one.

Lamont Jordan vs. BUF - Obviously, you don't start him over more established vets. Coach Edwards is telling anyone who will listen, however, that Jordan is gonna share more of the load with C-Mart starting this week. He's bigger and probably faster and has been used in goal-line situations before. If you're in a pinch, he might be a sneaky producer against the Bills.

Anthony Thomas @ NO - Ever so quietly, he's climbed into the Top 15 in rushing yardage. Moreover, he's doing it with fewer carries (5.9 per run). He looked prematurely washed-up last year but looks like a #1 back again this campaign. Go figure. Incidentally, New Orleans isn't very good against the run.

Grab A Gatorade:

Eddie George @ vs. HOU - See last week's article.

Amos Zereoue @ DEN - If Cowher keeps inserting the Bus in goal-line situations, you can kiss this guy's value goodbye. He's not awful (52+ yards/game) but without the touchdowns, he's virtually worthless.

Antowain Smith vs. NYG - It's tempting to start him after a back-from-the-dead performance against the Titans last week. Nevertheless, he'll probably split carries with Mike Cloud again and faces a Giants front seven that almost completely bottled up Ricky Williams in Week 5. I'd sit him 'til he gets a more favorable matchup.

Ricky Williams (IND) vs. CAR - Speaking of Ricky Williams…no, not THAT Ricky Williams! Indy's version is smaller and shiftier and usually an able replacement for Edge. Unfortunately, he runs into a murderous Carolina D this week that doesn't give up many points.

Stacey Mack @ TEN - The Titans looked pretty shaky against a below-average Patriots running game last week. Nonetheless, their numbers are pretty good on the year. Mack's numbers, on the other hand, aren't (2.9 yards/carry). He's going to continue to share carries with Domanick Davis and Tony Hollings so my advice would be to go in another direction.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Must Start: The Top 15:

1. Randy Moss (Bye) - He's the best athlete the game has ever seen at the receiver position. Of course, since he's a spectator this week, he won't help you. No complaining. You've been spoiled so far.

2. Marvin Harrison vs. CAR - Caution: flammable. He followed up a Herculean effort against the Saints with an equally jaw-dropping performance against the Bucs (11 catches, 176 yards, and two scores). Carolina should offer more resistance but I've said that before. He's the top receiver start this week with Moss on a bye.

3. Terrell Owens @ SEA - Think he'll have a bull's eye on his back? Love him or hate him, he single-handedly makes the Sunday nighter must-see TV. Seattle's pass rush is non-existent so if Garcia has time to find him working over the rooks in the secondary, look out.

4. Laveranues Coles vs. TB - He's quieted down after an awesome start and doesn't have a very good matchup in Week 6. At least, it didn't look like a very good matchup before Tampa's Monday night meltdown. I hafta think the Bucs (who still lead the league in passing defense with a 53.9 rating against) are gonna be angry and in shut-down mode.

5. Hines Ward @ DEN - Did you notice his QB dropped out of the Top 10 this week? Costly mistakes have doomed the Steelers passing offense lately and if Maddox can't turn things around, Ward and Burress might struggle against a solid Broncos secondary.

6. Chad Johnson (Bye) - The emergence of Peter Warrick has made him even more dangerous in the vertical passing game. He gets a much-deserved break in Week 6.

7. Torry Holt vs. ATL - Did you see what Randy Moss did to the beleaguered Falcons secondary last week? Holt is capable of doing the same. His 94 yards per game is good for sixth in the league and he's found the endzone almost once per contest. He'll DEFINITELY find it this week.

8. Plaxico Burress @ DEN - He's starting to slip down the list a bit but only 'cuz Maddox can't seem to find him. Perhaps he should switch jerseys? He faces the one corner in the league (Lenny Walls) who won't be at a significant height disadvantage against him. Just something to think about since he's made a living off of snaring jump balls.

9. Amani Toomer @ NE - Virtually disappeared against the Dolphins (three catches for 38 yards) but will continue to benefit from Ike Hilliard's resurgence and Shockey's domination at the tight end position. Only two teams have been thrown upon more than the Patriots and there's probably a reason for that. Start him.

10. Eric Moulds @ NYJ - He's listed as doubtful for the matchup in New Jersey so you probably want to monitor closely and sit him if you hear nothing else between now and Sunday. When healthy, he's almost a lock for 100 yards receiving and a score.

11. Andre Johnson @ TEN - Opponents are throwing the ball at will on the Titans (234.6 yards per game). Now that Samari Rolle is out (as previously mentioned), the balls could really start flying. I like Carr to hook up with Johnson multiple times in this one, perhaps even for a touch.

12. Donald Driver vs. KC - Looks as though he's fully recovered from a scary bounce off the turf a few weeks ago. Favre went looking for him last Sunday and found him quite often (seven grabs for 72 yards and a score). KC's secondary is opportunistic but occasionally leaky.

13. Jeremy Shockey @ NE - Somebody get a sock. He's an offensive juggernaut on the field and equally offensive off it. Luckily for him, John Q. Public generally excuses those who produce. He most definitely produces.

14. Joe Horn vs. CHI - Only averages 10.7 per catch but catches a lot of balls. The numbers for the Bears' secondary are pretty deceiving since nobody really needs a passing attack to beat them.

15. Keenan McCardell @ WAS - He's always had the talent but has been overshadowed everywhere he's gone. If Johnson sits, he becomes the show vs. Washington. Heck, he was pretty much the show last week (four catches for 106 yards and three touchdowns).

Grab A Helmet:

Bobby Shaw @ NYJ - Normally, I wouldn't dare recommend a Bills receiver other than Moulds. That said, Mr. Moulds will most likely sit this week. Somebody (anybody) has to step up and Shaw has the most experience. He's also very sneakily put up some good numbers so far (20 catches, 284 yards, and two scores).

Derrick Mason vs. HOU - He's tied for the league lead in receptions (33) but only has one score. Why? Justin McCareins, Drew Bennett, and Tyrone Calico are hoarding the big plays. Regardless, Mason is the most steady of the Titans receivers and could score against a Texans team that forces turnovers but also gives up big chunks of yardage through the air.

Santana Moss vs. BUF - Coach Edwards used the bye week to shake things up in the Big Apple. He started at wideout where the electrifying Moss will replace Curtis Conway. He's definitely too slight (5'10", 185 lbs.) to be a possession type or an end-zone leaper but he's a threat to score from anywhere on the field (16.9 per catch and a long score) at any time.

Isaac Bruce vs. ATL - Holt will get his yards but there will be plenty left over for Bruce. He's already tallied 23 catches for 310 yards on the year and will likely score against the lowly Falcons.

Rod Smith vs. PIT - He should probably creep back into the Top 15 soon. Soon might even be next week after he's had the opportunity to face the Steelers secondary. The only thing keeping him out so far has been an early season aversion to end zones.

Ashley Lelie vs. PIT - He's a HUGE play waiting to happen (22.1 yards per catch) and we all know Pittsburgh has been susceptible to the huge play. If Plummer sits, both he and Smith become a little less desirable…but only a little.

Kevin Johnson/Quincy Morgan vs. OAK - Picking the right Browns receiver can be a real crapshoot. But you already knew that. Johnson has far and away the most receptions (28) and yards (278) and has been a Couch favorite in the past. Morgan has possibly the most upside of the group. They're both solid starts this week because the Raiders defense is abominable.

Peerless Price @ STL - That wasn't so difficult, was it? Of course, I sat him down last week after the rocky start. Sigh. He's a good start against St. Louis…I guess.

Grab Some Wood:

Reggie Wayne vs. CAR - Don't misunderstand me. He's a good receiver (22 grabs for 287 yards). Unfortunately, he teams with a guy who's out of this world. Facing a great Carolina D this week, he's an iffy play.

Curtis Conway vs. BUF - See Moss, Santana.

Robert Ferguson vs. KC - You've probably been sitting him anyway but just in case, he's really not making an impact. He's ostensibly the starter opposite Driver but usually ends up with similar numbers to Javon Walker, if not worse. That's probably because he's strictly a possession receiver and Favre looks to other guys in the red zone.

Rod Gardner vs. TB - We all know what happened to Tampa on Monday night and we all know it ain't happening again. Not that Gardner is primed to take advantage, anyway. He's caught only eight balls in the last three weeks although, to be fair, one was for a score.

Any Carolina receiver @ IND - If it's any consolation to him, Steve Smith isn't the only "marginal" receiver playing for Carolina. In fact, calling these guys marginal would be an insult to marginal receivers. Stay away as Stephen Davis IS the Carolina offense.

Any Philly receiver @ DAL - Wanna know why Donovan is struggling? Check out the Eagles receiving corps. James Thrash has long been overrated, Todd Pinkston is too skinny, and Freddie Mitchell is a TOTAL bust so far. Not hard to figure why Duce and Co. usually end up picking up the slack.

Once again, good luck, folks!