Must Start: The Top 15
1. Terrell Owens @ NYG - He's
an attention whore of the first degree and since he didn't get
much last week (two catches for 24 yards and a touch), he should
receive plenty this weekend. At least, he'd better if Don knows
what's good for him. Don't forget he lit the G-men up in Week
1 (eight catches, 68 yards, and three scores).
2. Javon Walker vs. STL - When
The Ol' Gunslinger slings it 50 times, you can bet Mr. Walker
is getting his fair share of looks. He did on Sunday night (nine
catches for 88 yards) and should again this Monday, even if Batman
returns to the fold. The NFL game is about capitalizing on weaknesses
and St. Louis, for one, is seriously weak (not to mention thin)
in the defensive backfield.
3. Reggie Wayne @ DET - Remember
that sideline confrontation with Peyton earlier this season? Remember
how I told you not to worry? Wayne has been off the hook of late
(six TDs in the last four games) and should again be able to victimize
a below-average secondary on Thanksgiving Day. Of course, if he
doesn't, Marvin will
or Brandon Stokley
or Dallas Clark
4. Randy Moss vs. JAX - The
plan as of press time is to play him about 25 downs this weekend,
mostly in three-receiver sets. Though I'd feel more comfortable
recommending him later in the week, I don't have that luxury.
If you have two or three good alternatives, go with them. If you
don't, plug Randy back in. At the very least, he should see five
or six balls thrown his way. That's enough for him to do what
he does best: wreak havoc.
5. Isaac Bruce @ GB - The Pack
is vastly improved on defense since Week 5 but still starts a
rookie at one corner (Ahmad Carroll). More than likely, said rook
will be matched up with the Rams' #2 guy, The Reverend, this Monday
night. I can't think of too many better matchups than The Reverend
v. The Rook. Can you? Start him.
6. Andre Johnson vs. TEN - How
much does David Carr like his man, Johnson? Despite being matched
up with Green Bay's other corner (the experienced one), he still
looked Johnson's way eleven times out of 26 total passing attempts.
That's a lotta love for a second-year wideout facing a team's
"shutdown" corner. Johnson should get plenty more attention
against an average Oilers
er, Titans bunch this Sunday.
7. Antonio Gates @ KC - Tight
ends don't belong this high on the list but how can I justify
ranking him any lower? He's tied for the league lead in receptions
(62) and tied for second in touchdown receptions (nine). Pretend
he's an elite receiver (easy) and keep starting him at tight end
8. Muhsin Muhammad vs. TB -
Answer: he's one of the two guys tied with Gates at nine touchdown
receptions. Question: who is the most surprising wideout of the
2004 season? Muhammad has done almost all of his damage since
Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster went down but that only means
it's no coincidence he's been so explosive of late. Those two
aren't expected back 'til next year so you can expect plenty more
fireworks out of the former Spartan the rest of the way.
9. Marvin Harrison @ DET - Fireworks
used to be his specialty but he's been much more subdued this
if you can call 51 receptions and eight touchdowns
subdued. With Reggie Wayne commanding a bigger slice of the pie,
Marvin has been forced to assume the mentoring role he was probably
always destined for. If he's half as successful as Ike Bruce has
been in a similar role, he should be valuable for many years to
10. Torry Holt @ GB - Bruce's
protégé has been all over the map this year, racking
up 100 yards one week and fewer than 30 the next. It's anybody's
guess how he'll fare on the Tundra but he will be squaring off
against a confident and physical corner in Al Harris. That's not
exactly the kind of matchup Holt is best at exploiting. Temper
your expectations a bit but keep him in there.
11. Derrick Mason @ HOU - He
celebrated the return of Air McNair with three catches for 56
yards and a score. Though not special numbers, they were certainly
good enough to help you out at the #2 spot. The #2 spot would
be another good place for him this weekend as he faces a Texans
squad still reeling from a Brett Favre blitzkrieg.
12. Hines Ward vs. WAS - The
Steelers have been hit hard by the injury bug of late. The latest
casualty? Ward's running mate, Mr. Burress. Though that hurts
the Curtain (and Roethlisberger) in the short run, it looks like
a boon for the former Bulldog. Pittsburgh is a run-first team
right now but they'll still pass to keep teams honest and the
one doing most of the catching (for now) will be Ward. Get him
in there if you've been sitting him down.
13. Jimmy Smith @ MIN - Smith
is the one doing ALL of the catching in Jacksonville and that
isn't likely to change until another threat emerges. He was slowed
down last week (two catches, 29 yards) but now faces a Minny D
giving up lots of yards and lots of points in the passing game.
It sounds like a matchup tailor-made for a Shot Caller guarantee,
dontcha think? I do. Mark it down.
14. Chad Johnson vs. CLE - He's
foregoing the pranks this week and "just playing football."
That's probably a good thing since the last meeting with Cleveland
didn't go according to plan. One thing I know about "7-11":
he expects more (much more) from himself than we do from him.
Don't be surprised if he atones for that earlier miserable performance
with a huge game this Sunday.
15. Joe Horn @ ATL - His quarterback
might not be a winner but he sure does throw for a lot of yards
on a semi-regular basis. That's a good enough reason to start
Horn, the best target the Saints have. He's good for more than
80 yards per contest and scores roughly once every two games.
This would be that second game.
Grab A Helmet:
Michael Clayton @ CAR - Were
you aware he has the eighth-most receiving yards in the league?
This despite playing the first four games with Brad Johnson (remember
him?) at the helm. He's simply the most accomplished of the rookie
wideouts right now and though Larry Fitzgerald has time to overtake
him, it doesn't seem likely at this point. Stick with the former
Tony Gonzalez vs. SD - I hate
agreeing with Coach Vermeil (whiner), but Gonzo is definitely
receiving some unfair treatment these days. Though you gotta question
why Trent Green was throwing into double-coverage in the first
place, you must certainly question why there was no flag thrown
on that fateful play (the end zone pick on Monday night). He'll
continue fighting through the double-teams and the grabbing and,
if the league office actually listens, may even see more daylight
as we head down the homestretch. That would be a good thing.
Donald Driver vs. STL - Favre's
former #1 had another huge outing last Sunday night, snagging
ten balls to the tune of 148 yards and a pretty score. Though
he'll likely take a backseat to new #1, Javon Walker, this coming
Monday, he will never be totally ignored. Nobody ever is in Green
Bay's spread-it-around attack. That makes him worth starting when
the matchup is good.
Ashley Lelie vs. OAK - He's
scored a touchdown in five of the last six games now and is quickly
emerging as one of the top deep threats around. How deep? Well,
those same five touchdowns have gone for an AVERAGE of 35.8 yards.
That's pretty deep. Expect another long one in this Sunday's bloodbath
Eddie Kennison vs. SD - In the
interest of full disclosure, I should probably tell you I don't
like Eddie Kennison. I'm not talking Eddie Kennison, the person,
here (don't know the guy). I'm talking Eddie Kennison, the player.
I think he's too unreliable and wildly inconsistent. That said,
he's been on a pretty good roll of late (324 yards and three scores
in his last three tilts). If you don't have better options, give
him a look. You could probably do worse.
Grab Some Wood:
Any Browns receiver @ CIN -
Actually, you could DEFINITELY do worse. If you're starting Dennis
Northcutt or Antonio Bryant, we need to have a chat. They shouldn't
even be backups to your backups. Are we clear on this?
Santana Moss @ ARI - He's had
precisely one big game this year (in Week 9 against Buffalo).
I'm betting you drafted him expecting to get more than one big
game out of him. It's too late in the season to hope against hope,
which is exactly what you'd be doing with Quincy Carter at the
helm. Cut him loose if you haven't already.
Peerless Price vs. NO - Full
disclosure time, take two: he used to be my favorite fantasy receiver.
Period. Ever since the move to Atlanta, he's been, without question,
my most disappointing performer. I don't honestly know what's
wrong but he and Mr. Vick have obviously developed no chemistry
in two years together. They may still build something in the future
but I can't hold out any longer. Sorry, P. It's a "what have
you done for me lately?" kinda league.
Laveranues Coles @ PIT - It
only SEEMS like I'm picking on him. Truth be told, he's not getting
any help this season. He won't get much more this weekend as the
Redskins square off against (arguably) the AFC's best. Cut him
loose or sit him down if you're in a keeper league. Better days
lay far, far ahead.
Have a great Thanksgiving, folks!