Must Start: The Top 15
1. Randy Moss @ HOU - Randy
Moss v. Dunta Robinson might be a good matchup in a few years.
For now, it's the kind of matchup that quickens the pulse of Moss'
owners. Mega-star receiver v. greenhorn corner = big-time fantasy
points. Mark him down for a c-note and a score or two.
2. Isaac Bruce @ SEA - His running
mate usually occupies this slot but after four weeks of 100 yard
games, I'm going with the Reverend for Week 5. He's the only wideout
averaging triple digits per tilt and though he doesn't score very
much, yards mean points. In his case, lots of them. I suspect
the Rams will be flinging it a bunch this weekend as they try
to keep pace with the red hot Seahawks.
3. Marvin Harrison vs. OAK -
His 63 yards per contest is well off his career average but he
still plays with the best QB in football and is still good for
roughly a touchdown per game. This week, he faces an Oakland squad
that is eminently susceptible to the deep ball. The scoreboard
operator will be busy at the RCA Dome which means you want him
lining up for you.
4. Hines Ward vs. CLE - The
switch to Big Ben hasn't harmed his numbers nearly as much as
I thought it would. Though he didn't do much last week, his young
signal-caller is looking better by the week. He draws a Cleveland
D this week that is yielding almost 250 passing yards per game,
about the same number Green Bay's lousy secondary is giving up.
Good enough for me.
5. Derrick Mason @ GB - The
only thing better than facing a Green Bay-like secondary is facing
the actual Green Bay secondary. McNair is still questionable for
the Monday night showdown but Billy Volek isn't exactly chopped
liver. Come to think of it, chopped liver could probably throw
for 300 yards against the Pack's ragtag bunch. I'm joking
6. Darrell Jackson vs. STL -
Shaun Alexander seems to be the only Seahawk finding the end zone
this season but how long can that last? Jackson is the best of
an average receiving corps (you heard me right) so if things get
offensive this Sunday, he should end the drought. They will and
so will he.
7. Torry Holt @ SEA - I wouldn't
be too worried about his three-catch, 28-yard performance last
Sunday night. The Rams could have gone with their backups and
still emerged victorious. Nevertheless, he's fallen behind his
#2 man in production. Until further notice, knock him down a few
but just a few.
8. Reggie Wayne vs. OAK - Holt
and Bruce are certainly a dynamic duo (and have been for some
time) but Harrison and Wayne are giving them a serious run for
their money. Wayne's deep speed is the perfect foil to Marvin's
precision and sure-handedness. When defenses load up on one, the
other guy runs wild. When defenses load up on both
9. Brandon Stokley vs. OAK -
this guy kills them. It isn't often we talk about #3 receivers
in this column but I'll be damned if he doesn't deserve it. His
numbers so far (22 catches, 78 yards per game, three TDs) are
better than most teams get out of their #1 receivers. In fact,
they're better than Harrison's numbers to this point. It would
be tough to start him in front of Marvin but faced with such a
decision, you'd at least hafta consider it. That says something
about his performance to date.
10. Andre Johnson vs. MIN -
Most predicted stardom for Johnson when he left the U for the
NFL. Despite playing for an expansion team, he hasn't disappointed.
He's bigger and faster than 99% of NFL corners and if he had the
kind of help guys like Harrison and Holt get, he'd be a top five
start every week. Actually, he might just get there on his own.
11. Amani Toomer @ DAL - His
stats don't warrant the high ranking but he has a number of things
working in his favor this weekend. First, Dallas is dangerously
thin in the defensive backfield. Second, Jeremy Shockey appears
to be back as a force underneath. Finally, the Cowboys would be
foolish to focus on anyone other than Tiki Barber. Flying under
the radar is a good way to score sneaky fantasy points and Toomer
appears to qualify as a low-flying object this week.
12. Roy Williams @ ATL - I doubt
Denny Green regrets drafting Larry Fitzgerald over this guy but
he may someday
and he won't be alone. The Lions have no running
game and no other threats in the passing game and yet Williams
has still managed to corral 17 passes for 277 yards and FOUR touchdowns.
Imagine what he'll do when he actually gains a little experience.
13. Eric Moulds @ NYJ - I never
said he wouldn't post some numbers. I just didn't think it would
happen last week. Three touchdowns in three weeks tells me I've
underestimated him. Provided his QB stays clean and he gets a
little help from Lee Evans and Josh Reed, he could be in for a
sneaky good season. Give him a look in Week 5.
14. Javon Walker vs. TEN - Donald
Driver's shaky hands and Robert Ferguson's disappearing act make
Walker a pretty inviting start for the present. Though that could
change in a moment's notice, it's hard to argue with 16 yards
a catch and four scores in four weeks. Get him in your lineup
and leave him there until the picture muddies again.
15. Joe Horn vs. TB - Relying
on Saints not named Deuce McAllister is risky business but if
you had to pick a guy that's most likely to come through for you,
it's Horn. He's done it for many years and, save for a stinker
in the desert last week, most of this young season as well. The
matchup isn't ideal but he's not a guy you want on your bench
unless you have several better options waiting in the wings.
Grab A Helmet:
Drew Bennett @ GB - Tyrone Calico
can't seem to shake what ails him so Bennett retains his hold
on the #2 job. Not that he wouldn't have anyway. He's posted solid
numbers (25 catches for 264 yards) and if he ever finds paydirt,
he'll be that much more valuable. The Pack should afford him the
opportunity to do so on Monday night.
David Givens vs. MIA - I may
as well come clean and tell you I avoid Patriots receivers like
the plague. There are simply too many of them and you just never
seem to know who's gonna emerge from week to week. Then again,
that's probably what makes them so great as a unit. Givens is
the most complete receiver of the bunch and not a bad start on
a weekly basis. He's averaging over 80 yards per game so far.
Michael Clayton @ NO - He might
be the first guy in NFL history to score his first touchdown helmet-less
but it certainly won't be his last. Now that the strong-armed
Chris Simms is pirating the ship (groan), we can at least imagine
him getting behind a few DBs for more big plays. Give the rook
a go against an abominable Saints D (26.8 points yielded per game).
Santana Moss vs. BUF - Nine
grabs through three games tells me he's either underachieving
or waiting to break out. I'll bet on the latter and recommend
him against a Buffalo secondary missing the veteran Troy Vincent
Grab Some Wood:
Any Ravens receiver @ WAS -
Even that Hymes character. It doesn't take a math wiz to figure
out that 140-some yards (Boller's per-game average) split multiple
ways equals not much. Don't go there.
Chris Chambers @ NE - Until
the Fish unearth a real NFL quarterback (or even a reasonable
facsimile of one), you don't want anything to do with their receiving
corps. Making matters worse this week, Chambers isn't even a lock
to play. Stay away until something changes in Miami
Any Browns receiver @ PIT -
Have I even mentioned these guys this year? There's a reason for
that. Garcia is struggling mightily but it's not like he has great
targets to throw to. How Morgan, Northcutt, and Davis have managed
to hang on to their jobs for this long is beyond me. It's called
a draft, Butch. You're even allowed to draft receivers!
Laveranues Coles vs. BAL - Despite
no touchdowns, he's actually been pretty solid this year (24 snags
for 291 yards). Unfortunately, he faces a Baltimore D this Sunday
night that was embarrassed by a previously winless Chefs squad
on Monday night. If you think Ray-Ray's gonna stand for that,
you don't know Ray-Ray. Sit him down if you can afford to.
Best of luck, folks!