Must Start: The Top 15
1. Terrell Owens vs. GB - He's
been relatively quiet of late (on the field, of course), which
should have savvy Cheeseheads worried. You can only keep a player
of T.O.'s caliber down for so long and though the Pack is improving
by leaps and bounds on the defensive side of the ball, they don't
have anyone who can consistently shut him down. Not many teams
do. Expect a touch or two in Sunday's marquee matchup.
2. Randy Moss @ CHI - His extended
layoff almost derailed my postseason hopes in one league but his
return means I still have a fighting chance to earn the coveted
playoff berth. After all, once you're in, anything can happen.
Here's something that will almost definitely happen: he'll score
this weekend in Chicago.
3. Reggie Wayne vs. TEN - Peyton
threw six touchdown passes on Thanksgiving Day. That's amazing
enough. More amazing, though, is the fact NONE of them were caught
by Wayne, heretofore Indy's most prolific wideout. What a difference
a week makes? They'll jockey to the end but Marvin now leads Messrs.
Wayne and Stokley in the race to see who can catch more of Manning's
record-setting TD passes. I've still got my money on Reggie.
4. Javon Walker @ PHI - For
the second week in a row, he took a backseat to Donald Driver.
For the second week in a row, he still managed to post decent
fantasy numbers (courtesy of a touch). Favre will always spread
the love around and that means you've gotta live with a few below-average
games. That said, Walker poses a matchup nightmare for Philly's
smallish (not to mention young-ish) corners this weekend. That
makes him a very good play.
5. Isaac Bruce vs. SF - As predicted,
he took advantage of Green Bay's prized rook (Ahmad Carroll) to
notch 170 receiving yards (a league-high for Week 12) and a score.
So, how did said tenderfoot manage to get tabbed as the NFL's
Rook of the Week? The answer (he returned one of Bruce's fumbles
for a score and also picked off Bulger) pretty much sums up St.
Louis' season: nice numbers, lousy results.
6. Antonio Gates vs. DEN - It
SOUNDS easy enough, but defensive coordinators are having a devil
of a time trying to match up with the guy. Linebackers? Too slow.
Safeties? Ditto. Corners? Uhhh, he runs 6'4" and weighs in
at 260. As you can see, the only way he gets lassoed by Denver
(and future opponents, for that matter) is if they double and
triple the heck out of him.
7. Joe Horn vs. CAR - Horn was
his typical productive self in the loss to Atlanta last Sunday,
posting 101 yards and another score. He should tally similar numbers
this weekend in a game that, for all intents and purposes, looks
like a Bayou shootout. Keep starting him, even if you think you
have better options.
8. Andre Johnson @ NYJ - After
a five-week drought, Houston's main playmaker managed to find
the end zone last week. Though that's good news for the Texans,
it's better news for his owners. You never wanna head into the
playoffs (next week, for some) debating whether or not to sit
one of your go-to guys. He looks like a safe play from here on
9. Chad Johnson @ BAL - I promised
he'd redeem himself against his Ohio rivals last week and he did
precisely that, snaring ten balls for 117 yards and a score. That
would normally earn him a top 5 ranking but the Bengals' already
tough schedule is about to get a lot tougher (Baltimore, New England,
Buffalo, and Philly in four of the next five weeks). If you're
in a keeper league, stash him away with Rudi, Carson, and T.J.
Whozawhatsit. The Bengals will be MUCH more productive next year,
thanks to a much softer slate. Heard it here first.
10. Derrick Mason @ IND - Predictably,
the return of Air McNair has been a boon for the former Spartan.
In two games together since the injury, he's averaged over 70
yards and scored two touchdowns. If you're thinking he has a good
chance of continuing that TD streak in the shootout at RCA Dome
you're thinking what I'm thinking. Get him in there.
11. Tony Gonzalez @ OAK - He
may not be scoring like Antonio Gates but he sure is racking up
the yardage. Actually, he's accumulated more (838 yards) than
the former Golden Flash (795) and is still a threat to crack the
century mark on a game-in, game-out basis. After all, he's done
it three times in his last five games. Start him unless you own
Gates, as well.
12. Torry Holt vs. SF - I told
you he could go for 100 yards on Monday night
or 30. How
'bout somewhere in between (50)? He's been, to put it mildly,
a little inconsistent this year. That should come as no surprise,
though, since his squad has been equally erratic. Keep playing
him and hope the return to the Edward Jones fast track improves
13. Donald Driver @ PHI - The
most productive fantasy duo is (big shock) Reggie Wayne and Marvin
Harrison. The second-most productive duo? Javon Walker and this
guy. Believe it or not, thanks to Driver's stellar play of late,
the gap is closing
in a hurry. If you're a fan of #2 wideouts
putting up #1 numbers, Don's your guy. Expect another big day
at the Linc this Sunday.
14. Muhsin Muhammad @ NO - He
ceded the limelight to his understudy, rookie Keary Colbert, last
week, but should be primed for a return to center stage this Sunday.
The Saints field perhaps the worst defensive secondary in football
OK, forget "perhaps." The Saints field the
worst defensive secondary in football. Period.
15. Alge Crumpler @ TB - Hard-core
readers know this is the first time I've EVER placed three tight
ends in the top 15. It's not a gimmick, either (read: they're
not paying me). They've earned it with stellar play and numbers
that could easily be mistaken for those of an elite receiver.
Crumpler, specifically, has tallied four touchdowns in his last
three starts and has clearly emerged as Mr. Vick's favorite target.
Unless you own Gates or Gonzalez, start him.
Grab A Helmet:
Michael Clayton vs. ATL - The
three touchdowns might elicit a tepid response from fantasy geeks,
but the 75 yards per contest likely raises a few eyebrows...in
a good way. He is, after all, just a rook and though Tampa has
other weapons (namely, Michael Pittman), he's managed to become
the go-to guy in the passing game, and in short order. Get him
in there against a Falcons squad that gives up plenty of yardage
through the air.
Brandon Stokley vs. TEN - I
don't normally recommend starting more than one wideout from the
same team (too many hands, not enough footballs), but have you
ever stopped to wonder how you'd fare if you started THREE from
the same squad? If they happened to be named Wayne, Harrison,
and Stokley, I'm betting you'd fare pretty well. Gimme a holler
if you've tried/are trying this. I'm curious. Oh, and keep starting
Jerry Porter vs. KC - I waited
him out, waited him out, waited him out, and finally
him on the bench last Sunday. Way to go, Shot Caller. Next time
I need some advice, I'll be sure to lose your number. This week,
Porter draws a KC squad giving up over 30 points a game in its
last five. That makes him a good bet to score some more points.
Santana Moss vs. HOU - Well,
look who decided to join the party. After a fairly forgettable
first eleven weeks, Moss chimed in with 109 yards and a touch
in the desert last Sunday. Not too shabby considering the Jets
only produced 13 points. The late word says Chad Pennington will
give it a go so you can probably expect more like 20-30 points
and maybe even another score from Santana.
Jimmy Smith vs. PIT - He's been
fairly well contained the past two weeks and now draws a Curtain
squad that is laying the wood to opposing Os. Does that mean you
should sit him down? No. Does that mean you should adjust your
expectations accordingly? Sure, it does. He probably won't give
you #1 wideout numbers this week so playing him at your #2 or
#3 spot would be advisable.
Grab Some Wood:
Nate Burleson @ CHI - It could
have been just a coincidence but the return of Randy Moss seems
to have spelled the end to Burleson's brief stint as a viable
fantasy wideout. He'll continue to get some looks (and maybe even
some meaningful ones) but banking on him as we head down the stretch
seems like a bad idea. Just a word of caution if you've been using
him on a weekly basis.
Any Giants receiver @ WAS -
I can smell a 10-7 ballgame from all the way across the country
and this matchup in our nation's capital smells like one for certain.
I mean, seriously: who's going to score in this game? I put the
over/under on total QB completions (both teams) at 25. Place your
bets, place your bets!
Any Redskins receiver vs. NYG
- See above. Then, sit Lav Coles and STOP waiting for him to "bust
Roy Williams or Larry Fitzgerald vs.
each other - Earlier in the year, this looked like one
of those marquee rookie matchups (a la LeBron v. 'Melo), the kind
that would provide Stu Scott a serious shot at breaking his own
"boo-yah" record. Alas, things haven't gone according
to plan since then. Detroit is foundering and the Cards are counting
on a former Wolverine (not the good one) to lead them to victory.
If you're looking forward to Giants v. Redskins, you're gonna
love Cards v. Lions.
Best of luck, folks!