Is there a crazier week of football than Week 2 in the NFL? I've
been participating in football pools since Forrest Gregg was prowling
the pitch in Green Bay (COACH Gregg, that is) and I can't honestly
remember the last time I bested 60% in the second week of the season.
There are probably statistics to support these results but as to
WHY exactly heavy favorites go down while seeming also-rans play
like Super Bowl contenders? Search me. Maybe it has something to
do with simple desperation on the part of teams attempting to ward
off the dreaded 0-2 start (an NFL death sentence). Then again, maybe
it's nothing more than basic adjustments in personnel and strategy.
Coaches are fond of saying, after all, that there's more improvement
between the first and second weeks of a season than at any other
time. Whatever it is, it makes forecasting player performance a
dicey proposition. That's a roundabout way of saying I'm REALLY
glad Week 2's in the rear view mirror. How 'bout you? Let's press
on. Here are recommendations for Week 3.
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Daunte Culpepper vs. CHI
- Despite relentless pressure and several drive-killing penalties,
Culpepper had a shot-a good shot-at THREE rushing touchdowns Monday
night. He wussed out on one, fumbled away another, and had the
third one nullified by a holding penalty. Of course, he DID throw
for the most yards in Week 2 (343) and also a score. He's still
your main man, in other words.
2. Michael Vick vs. ARI - It's
a little late for draft advice but I can't help myself. When you
get a chance to draft the best athlete in the league, you draft
him. I waited 'til the third round and would have kicked myself
(hard) had I missed out (I didn't). Quarterbacks who can rush
for a c-note simply don't come around very often. Make that never.
3. Peyton Manning vs. GB - Two-fitty
and a couple scores is almost pedestrian for him but it likely
led you to victory this week. He has so many options in the passing
game and when Edge is running strong, look out. Though he may
be missing his chief rock-toter, he should still have scads of
time to pick apart a Pack D that simply can't get pressure on
provided the Colts' D can keep Batman off the field,
4. Donovan McNabb @ DET - He
looks to be in total command of Andy Reid's offense and that spells
trouble for a Lions squad sporting the 25th ranked defense in
the league. In the only battle of unbeatens this week, expect
McNabb to post big numbers and lead the Eagles to an uncharacteristic
5. Matt Hasselbeck vs. SF -
Struggling against the Bucs is nothing to be embarrassed about
(still) and Hasselbeck should make amends in Week 3. The Niners
are battling but are still woefully out-manned against most opponents.
The Seahawks are better than most opponents. Get him in there.
6. Aaron Brooks @ STL - He fumbles
more than Ahman Green (we'll get to that) but there's no getting
around the numbers on Sunday (279 yards and three scoring strikes).
The loss of Deuce will make the Saints even more reliant on this
unreliable signal-caller. Can he handle the load? Guess we'll
find out Sunday, huh?
7. Steve McNair vs. JAX - We're
two weeks in and he's thrown exactly one TD (against one pick).
Maybe he misses McCareins and Calico more than we thought? More
likely, the emergence of Chris Brown has made the Titans a versatile
ball club again. Not sure what to expect against a TOUGH Jags
D but I wouldn't sit him down if I owned him.
8. Marc Bulger vs. NO - Mike
Martz will never level with us but he's gotta be just a teensy
bit concerned about his quarterback's propensity for turning the
ball over. Apparently not content with throwing the ball to the
other team (he did that, too), Bulger simply handed it to them
on Sunday. Though I like his matchup with New Orleans, my patience
is wearing VERY thin.
9. Jake Plummer vs. SD - This
is a matchup play all the way. You all know how I feel about the
Snake but he gets the generous Bolts secondary in Denver this
week. Mike Shanahan's high percentage passing attack vs. a team
that's only forced 13 incompletions (in TWO games!) looks like
trouble. If it looks like trouble and smells like trouble
Don't forget he's a threat to run on almost every play.
10. Brett Favre @ IND - Aye-yay-YAY!
The Pack was flat as could be against the hated Bears and nobody
was flatter than Fav-ruh. He threw two horrendous interceptions
and only 250 yards and a touch made his numbers respectable from
a fantasy perspective. Call me a homer if you'd like but there
simply aren't a lot of great QB options this week and he faces
a Colts D that doesn't defend the pass well at all (306 ypg and
a 66.7% completion percentage).
Grab A Helmet:
Trent Green vs. HOU - I cautioned
you to sit him down last week and that turned out to be pretty
good advice. He's been awful so far and is still looking for his
first TD pass of the year. Why the recommendation then? The Chiefs
rarely lose at Arrowhead (let alone twice in a row) and Green's
primed for a pride game. Expect him to reverse field this weekend
and break the TD-less streak against a questionable Texans D.
Vinny Testaverde @ WAS - In
case you hadn't noticed, he's leading the league in passing yards
(677) and attempts (85) and it's not even all that close. He's
still Vinny (meaning he'll throw some picks) but you can't argue
with 300+ and a touch or two. Hop on the gravy train while the
gettin's good. He's not gonna play forever, after all
David Carr @ KC - At this rate,
Michael Vick's gonna lose the 'fro before Carr shears his beautiful,
black mane (the wife's description). Perhaps he could spare us
all a pony-tailed signal-caller by finding Andre Johnson more
often. The losses and INTs obscure a 71.2% completion rate and
an 89.8 passer rating, numbers that tell us he's ready to bust
out. I think.
Jeff Garcia @ NYG - I'm officially
out of my gourd. He's the lowest-rated starter in the NFL and
will now be without the services of a key "soldier"
(the younger, louder Kellen Winslow). Then again, the G-men have
given up six passing TDs (most in the league) and do not scare
anyone on the defensive side of the ball. He's a veteran and,
like Trent Green, was likely embarrassed by his effort on Sunday.
Expect a bounce-back game in Jersey, though nothing too special.
Kurt Warner vs. CLE - He hasn't
been remarkable this year but he did look pretty good on Sunday
and hasn't thrown a pick through two weeks. Toomer, Hilliard,
Shockey, and the emerging Tim Carter (not to mention Tiki) are
an above-average group of receivers. Give him a go if your regular
guy is on bye or you don't like your other matchups. You could
Grab A Clipboard:
Kyle Boller @ CIN - Much worse,
as it turns out. The Ravens scored 30 points on Sunday and Boller
was responsible for precisely none of them. This is news? I can't
imagine any of you are relying on him but if you are, stop it.
Joey Harrington vs. PHI - I'm
an unabashed Joey lover but if you watched the Monday night blitz
fest, you know he's gonna be feeling the heat this Sunday against
Jim Johnson's Eagles D. Though Roy Williams is a big-league weapon
(told you so), Joey is still making some questionable decisions.
He threw one pick against Houston and had another nullified by
penalty. Sit him down if you can afford to.
Rex Grossman @ MIN - His deficiencies
are hidden (barely) by a mammoth O-line and a suddenly resurgent
Thomas Jones. Nevertheless, he continues to make stupid mistakes
and couldn't manage to find his best receiver, David Terrell,
last Sunday for even a token reception. The Metrodome makes mice
out of better men (think Favre) so there's no reason to think
Grossman will fare any better in his first visit as a starter.
Ben Roethlisberger @ MIA - He's
gonna be a great QB some day (great, not good) but that day won't
be this Sunday in Miami. Carson Palmer looked lost against the
veteran Fish D and it's difficult to envision Big Ben faring any
better. Take a pass.
Byron Leftwich @ TEN - Is there
such thing as a bad 2-0 team? The other MAC product has led the
Jags to an improbable start but hasn't looked good in the process.
Aside from being a statue, he's only completing 50% of his passes.
Frankly, I expected better. You should expect worse against a
bummed-out Titans team rife with experience on defense.
Patrick Ramsey vs. DAL - Since
there are so many awful QB matchups this week, I'll give you a
bonus sit-down free of charge. Ramsey almost single-handedly squandered
opportunities with poor decisions and crappy tosses on Sunday.
He's not only rusty. He's bad. If you're thinking of starting
him against a stellar Cowboys unit, think again. The 'Boys OWN
Washington and Ramsey doesn't seem capable of reversing that trend.