Must Start: The Top 15
1. Priest Holmes vs CAR - Green
Bay's O-line flat-out destroyed the Panthers on Monday night.
Unfortunately for Carolina, the Pack fields only the second-best
front five in football. The best? That would be KC's experienced
road graders. The top back behind the top line is a tough matchup
for any ballclub, especially one coming off a tough loss and a
2. Ahman Green vs. CHI - Of
course, it's not like the Pack's line deserves ALL the credit.
As the "miked up" Mark Fields repeatedly proclaimed
on national television, Green is "just so SLIPPERY!"
Yes he is, folks. He also happens to possess great strength and
a soft pair of hands, a lethal combination for opposing defenses.
3. Ladainian Tomlinson vs. NYJ
- He was a non-threat in the passing game last week which is fairly
unusual. No matter. He also toted the rock 26 times for 121 yards
and a score. He gets the Jets this week, a team that may make
the playoffs this year but not because of its defense. Start him
4. Clinton Portis @ NYG - Washington
hasn't seen a Clinton with this kinda moves since Slick Willie
occupied the Oval Office (sorry
too easy). After his electrifying
64-yard jaunt to kick off the season, Portis struggled to find
holes against the Tampa D. That won't be a problem against the
crappy Giants group. Expect him to rip off a few big runs, tally
100+ yards, and score a touchdown (or two).
5. Marshall Faulk @ ATL - Guess
the plan to rest him in the preseason was a wise one, eh? He didn't
score but 145 total yards from scrimmage is nothing to scoff at.
The most encouraging sign was the 5.8 yards/carry which WASN'T
artificially enhanced by a long dash (his longest run was 18 yards).
Get him on the field against the average Falcons D.
6. Curtis Martin @ SD - Señor
De Leon, Mr. Martin. Mr. Martin, Señor De Leon. We can't
expect 196 big ones from him every week but we'd be foolish to
think he's finished. Yeah, I know
7. Fred Taylor vs. DEN - Don't
let Leftwich's last-minute heroics fool you. He struggled against
a tough Bills D. If he continues to do so, the Jags will lean
more heavily on Mr. Taylor in Week 2. In fact, they might just
do that anyway since Denver provided only token resistance to
Priest and the gang on Sunday night.
8. Deuce McAllister vs. SF -
He only managed 16 rushes as the Saints played catch-up all game
long. Even worse, he dropped one of those on the carpet. It's
hard to believe he won't bounce back big against a woefully outmanned
Niners squad in the Superdome.
9. Stephen Davis @ KC - The
Pack hoarded the ball for almost two-thirds of Monday night's
contest. That meant Davis got precious few touches (nine carries,
to be exact). He should get more work against a Chefs front that
clearly hasn't improved AT ALL from last year. Triple digits and
a touch isn't out of the question.
10. Jamal Lewis vs. PIT - It's
eight in the box until he gets a real quarterback. I wouldn't
hesitate to start him if I owned him. Then again, I made sure
I wasn't faced with that dilemma this year. Get my drift?
11. Domanick Davis @ DET - He
totaled 157 yards and two scores in Week 1, firmly entrenching
himself as the star of the show in Houston. Though I still think
he loses carries to Tony Hollings this year, he's definitely on
the uptick for now. Start him against a decent but not great Lions
12. Quentin Griffin @ JAX -
KC's D isn't a good measuring stick but WOW! The diminutive Griffin
racked up 156 yards on a modest 23 carries and found the end zone
three times (narrowly missing a fourth on his one miscue of the
night). He won't duplicate those numbers against a tough Jags
bunch but he's got above-average moves and enough speed to inflict
13. Rudi Johnson vs. MIA - Though
upstaged by the venerable Martin on Sunday, I'd be completely
shocked if Johnson hasn't outpaced him by year's end. The Dolphins
will struggle to keep up with the high-powered Bengals and Rudi
will be asked to salt it away in the second half. He's built for
that kind of work.
14. Kevan Barlow @ NO - He coughed
up a crucial fumble in the first quarter against Atlanta and never
got the opportunity to redeem himself. Maybe he can atone for
it this week in New Orleans. With Ken Dorsey at the helm, he's
the only legit option the Niners have. Since Shaun Alexander had
his way against the Saints, it's not unreasonable to think Barlow
15. Edgerrin James @ TEN - Speaking
of coughing up crucial fumbles
ouch! James ruined a solid
effort against the Pats with two big turnovers, one inside the
one-foot line that could have sealed the deal for Indy. He'll
bounce back in Week 2 but will find the going much tougher against
a solid Titans front.
Grab A Helmet:
Corey Dillon @ ARI - The Pats
will be happy with 80+ yards from him every week but will you?
provided he throws in a few touchdowns here and
there. The days of 25-30 carries are over, folks. If he becomes
more efficient (read: does more with less), you'll still want
him. Expect him to oblige in the desert this weekend.
Onterrio Smith @ PHI - The self-proclaimed
S.O.D. sure looked the part against Dallas last Sunday. He flashed
speed, strength, and shiftiness on his way to 139 total yards
and a touch. Too bad you're gonna lose him in a few weeks. Oh,
well. Live in the now and give him a start this Monday night against
a suspect Eagles run defense.
Lamar Gordon @ CIN - It was
hardly surprising he was named the starting tailback just two
weeks after being acquired by the Fish. Believe it or not, he
could actually fill the void (to an extent) left by Ricky's departure.
He's stocky and can get hard yards in the trenches. I wouldn't
hesitate to start him against a Bengals group that almost gave
up two bills to Curtis Martin last Sunday.
Kevin Jones vs. HOU - So he
didn't' have a stellar debut against the Bears. I still believe
he adds a new dimension to the young Lions offense. He is plenty
fast and even has some moves. He'll likely get more opportunities
this week as Mooch looks to ease the loss of Chas. Rogers with
a more robust running attack.
Warrick Dunn vs. STL - It appears
the Falcons will use Dunn as the primary guy and T.J. Duckett
as the grind-it-out guy when they are trying to preserve a lead.
Just one problem: they probably won't be preserving any leads
this weekend. Consequently, Dunn is a solid play against the Rams.
It doesn't hurt that he's also a perfect fit for the West Coast
offense and scored two touchdowns last week.
Grab A Gatorade:
Duce Staley @ BAL - Ugh! Normally,
24 carries and 91 yards out of a mid-round draft pick would be
cause for excitement. Unfortunately, it appears he's going to
cede goal-line duties to the Bus. That's good for Pittsburgh but
bad for you. Making matters worse, Duce faces an angry/ embarrassed
Baltimore bunch on Sunday. No!
Thomas Jones @ GB - The two
touchdowns were a pleasant surprise last week but the 3.2 yards-per-carry
is worrisome. He's facing a better defense at Lambeau and if he
doesn't get rolling early, the Bears won't be able to keep Green
Bay off the field. Translation? He won't get many touches.
Emmitt Smith vs. NE - He's not
the first old-timer to make me look stupid and he certainly won't
be the last. That said, I don't see how on earth he manages to
rack up 90 yards and a score against the defending world champs.
Emmitt shows his age this week as the Cards get lambasted by the
Any Dallas RB vs. CLE - You
know how I feel about Eddie George but now he's even losing carries
to ReShard Lee. I'll be frank: I have NO idea who that is. If
you're like me, you're steering WAY clear of this unsettled situation
and all the anguish it entails.
Chris Brown vs. IND - There's
the anguish caused by an unsettled rotation and then there's the
anguish caused by an injury-prone feature back. Brown is likely
to cause a fair amount of the latter this year as his bum ankle
has already cost him some carries. If he manages to go this week,
he's a great play. Then again, if he manages to go but can't finish,
he could burn you
big time. Gotta ask yourself: how much
uncertainty can you stomach?
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends