It's championship week for most of you and if you're still reading
this column, I have just one question for you: why? You obviously
know what the heck you're doing. Trust your gut and bring home that
trophy. Of course, if you still need a pep talk or someone to bounce
ideas off of, I'm always here. I'll answer all e-mail inquiries
by game time Friday afternoon. Sound good? 'Til then, here are your
Week 16 recommendations. Happy holidays, folks!
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning vs. SD - The
gap may be closing but at the end of the day, there's no one you'd
rather have in a must-win fantasy match than Peyton. Though he's
"only" thrown six TDs in his last three games, he's
still a lock for better than 250 yards and rarely turns the ball
over. Bottom line? He's the best option you have.
2. Daunte Culpepper vs. GB -
A botched extra point by the Lions has Culpepper and Co. thinking
division title again. Though that may not be a good thing (the
loser gets the NFC West champ), it's still better to be playing
at home come playoff time. Expect Daunte and the Vikes to seal
the deal this Friday against a Pack secondary that simply doesn't
match up against Minny's talented receivers.
3. Billy Volek vs. DEN - He's
AVERAGING almost 400 yards and over three TD tosses per game since
taking over for the injured McNair, news that should have reached
you even if you've been holed up in a cave this past month. The
opposing defenses have been weak (Indy, KC, and Oakland) but Denver's
once-formidable eleven hasn't exactly been setting the world on
fire of late, either. Expect 45+ attempts, 300+ yards, and at
LEAST two scores this Sunday.
4. Trent Green vs. OAK - You
want efficiency? Despite throwing the ball just 19 times last
week, Green completed 16 passes for 224 yards and three scores.
Oh, by the way? That's the third consecutive game in which he's
tallied three touchdown passes. The run started in Oakland four
weeks ago and continues against those selfsame Raiders at Arrowhead
this weekend. The over/under is a ridiculous 59 points, but if
I were a betting man
5. Kerry Collins @ KC -
go with the over. In fact, only a slew of turnovers will prevent
this game from ending up in the seventies. Green faces the woefully
short-handed Raiders secondary but Collins draws the just-plain-woeful
Chefs bunch ((286 yards/game). Coming off a 371-yard, five-TD
effort, I like his chances of posting large numbers again this
Saturday, albeit in a losing effort.
6. Drew Bledsoe @ SF - I was
pretty hard on him earlier this season but five wins and a potential
playoff berth later, he's still kicking. Though the numbers don't
lie (just 19 touchdowns in 14 games), he's definitely performed
better against the league's weaker sisters. San Fran is the weakest
of the weak. An added bonus? He'll likely be without the services
of Travis Henry and Willis McGahee this Sunday, meaning he'll
need to air it out more than usual.
7. Jake Plummer @ TEN - I finally
warm up to the guy, I finally jump on his bandwagon, I finally
start giving him some top 10 love, and THIS is how he repays me?
By throwing for one touchdown and eight interceptions in his last
three tilts? I SHOULD banish him to fantasy oblivion but I've
got a sneaking suspicion he'll rebound this week against a putrid
Tennessee secondary. He'd better or the once-promising Broncos
will be watching from home come January.
8. Drew Brees @ IND - When's
the last time a starting QB (for the winning team, no less!) threw
six passes in a game? Under the circumstances, Brees was quite
productive (85 yards and a score). Nevertheless, he'll need more
production than that if he hopes to keep pace with Peyton and
the Colts this Sunday. Expect him to wing it more like 25-30 times
to the tune of 225 yards and two scores.
9. Byron Leftwich vs. HOU -
Like Brees, Leftwich was hampered by the elements (bitter cold)
in Week 16. Then again, like Brees, he also managed to post pretty
decent numbers (121 yards and two scores). The Jags return to
balmy Jacksonville this weekend to face a Texans team that still
leads the league in TD passes yielded (31). Expect Mr. Leftwich
to be much more prolific as a result.
10. Donovan McNabb @ STL - Does
the injury to T.O. make THAT much of a difference? In a word,
yes. I don't care who you are. If your top three receivers are
Todd Pinkston, Freddie Mitchell, and Greg Lewis, you're gonna
struggle. Only Brian Westbrook's ability in the passing game keeps
Don in the top 10. Hope you had a backup plan.
Grab A Helmet:
Jake Delhomme @ TB - Jake and
the Cats were done in by the superhuman Mr. Vick last week (best
play of the year, by far), but-thanks to a Tampa loss-are still
firmly in control of their own destiny. He won't throw for 340
yards against the Bucs' stout secondary but 200+ and a couple
scores is certainly doable. In fact, he's already done it (213
yards and two TDs in a Week 12 win).
Matt Schaub @ NO - He won't
put up Vick-like numbers in the running game (duh) but could potentially
put up better numbers through the air. He's patient, accurate,
and best of all, doesn't make a lot of mistakes, especially for
a rook. Facing New Orleans' generous secondary, he could surprise
with some solid numbers (200+ and a couple scores) this Sunday.
Aaron Brooks vs. ATL - I highly
doubt you've made it this far with Brooks under center but if
you have, he might just lead you to the promised land. He's coming
off one of his better games of the year (169 yards, two scores,
and no picks) and seems to have more options in the passing game
now that Donte Stallworth has (finally) emerged. Give him another
Brett Favre @ MIN - His thumb
is hurting again and, coming off a very short week, that has to
concern the Pack's brain trust. Nevertheless, it could get wild
in the Metrodump and he'll likely need another vintage day to
salvage an NFC North crown. Expect a bunch of yards, a couple
scores, and (alas) some damaging turnovers on Christmas Eve.
Joey Harrington vs. CHI - There's
no WAY you made it this far with Joey at the helm but if you're
short-handed, he's not the worst option. He's coming off his best
game of the year (361 yards and two TDs) and seems to have rediscovered
Roy Williams, easily his best target. If he avoids the turnovers,
he could be in for a pretty productive day.
Grab A Clipboard:
Chad Hutchinson @ DET - After
a solid first outing, Hutchinson has reverted to form the past
two weeks, demonstrating why he should not be a starter in this
league (or any other, for that matter). He has the measureables
(good size, strong arm) but doesn't make good decisions and isn't
very accurate. Making matters worse, he doesn't have a legitimate
receiver to throw the ball to. No.
Kyle Boller @ PIT - He managed
only 98 yards (and no touchdowns) in the first matchup with Pittsburgh
and though that was a long time ago (Week 2), not much has changed
since then. Pittsburgh is still awesome and Boller is still
The Ravens will need points from their defense if they harbor
any hope of knocking off the AFC's top dog.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. BAL -
The wins keep piling up for the Steelers' young signal-caller
but the numbers keep getting shakier and shakier. Though he threw
for over 300 yards last week, he also turned it over twice. All
of which tells me he's not immune to rookie mistakes. All things
being equal, you don't wanna rely on rookie QBs-even good ones-come
crunch time. It's crunch time.
Ken Dorsey vs. BUF - He's thrown
five touchdowns since taking over for Tim Rattay but has also
thrown four picks. Translation? He's a risky play. Besides, if
you've made it this far, you don't need to worry about guys like
Ken Dorsey. So, stop worrying
and sit him down.
Luke McCown @ MIA - There's
an outside chance Kelly Holcomb will play this weekend but if
he doesn't, the Browns are stuck with McCown. You're not the Browns.
You're a championship contender looking for big points from the
QB position. Keep looking.