If there's one bit of advice I can pass along this weekend, folks,
it's this: take your Vitamin C! The Shot Caller's been floored by
a nasty cold this week and it's a minor miracle the Report is seeing
the light of day. I'll attempt to answer all e-messages Friday morning
as I'll more than likely be sitting on the pines once again. Don't
tell the boss, though. He thinks I'm slurping chicken soup and resting
up for Monday. As if! Your recommendations for Week 8…
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Daunte Culpepper vs. NYG
- If you're at all chagrined by last week's modest numbers, peek
ahead to championship week (aka, Week 16) and check out the matchup.
That would be the Pack's wobbly secondary on the fast track at
Minny. Feel better? He's gotten you this far and even with Randy
ailing, should take you much farther.
2. Peyton Manning @ KC - He
torched the Chefs for 300 yards and three scores at Arrowhead
in last year's Divisional Playoff. Not much has changed since
January. If anything, Peyton and Co. are even MORE lethal this
season. How lethal? Let's just say he hasn't thrown fewer than
two TD passes in a single game this season.
3. Donovan McNabb vs. BAL -
Opposing QBs have posted a paltry 59.7 rating against the Ravens
top-notch secondary this year. The opposition, though (Maddox,
Palmer, Brunell, Bledsoe), has been anything BUT top-notch. This
week, they face a bonafide MVP candidate in McNabb, fresh off
a huge bounce-back effort in Cleveland last week (376 yards and
four TDs). Unstoppable force meets immovable object, indeed.
4. Byron Leftwich @ HOU - After
three sub-200 yard efforts to kick off the season, Leftwich has
AVERAGED more than 300 yards passing in his last four contests.
Can throwing out of the shotgun really make that much of a difference?
More impressive than the yards is the vastly improved accuracy
(69.6% over the same four games). Start him against a Texans squad
that has yielded a league-worst 14 TD passes.
5. David Carr vs. JAX - Of course,
the only way to keep pace when your defense is giving up lots
of touchdowns is to throw a few yourself. Carr has thrived in
the come-from-behind role this year and could very well be placed
in a similar situation this Sunday. His 9.38 yards-per-attempt
number is still tops in the league.
6. Brett Favre @ WAS - You think
YOU'VE got it rough? The NFL's version of Job has endured no fewer
than three personal tragedies this past year, any one of which
may have been enough to fell a lesser man. Lesser men don't respond
by throwing for 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns, in case you're
wondering. Those numbers place him amongst the top 5 signal-callers
and prove, once and for all, that you should never question the
Ol' Gunslinger's gumption. Play him (and enjoy him) while you
7. Matt Hasselbeck vs. CAR -
It's cool to be down on Hasselbeck right now but those who sit
him this week could regret it. He's been truly awful on the road,
sure (49% complete, three touchdowns, and EIGHT interceptions)
but he's been positively lights out at home (63% complete, four
touchdowns, and no picks). I suspect he'll bounce back with a
solid game against the reeling Panthers at Qwest Field.
8. Tom Brady @ PIT - After a
scintillating World Series run by the Sox, Chowd Nation can once
again turn its attention toward Brady and his equally scintillating
Pats. Though inclement weather kept his numbers down last week,
he still emerged (surprise, surprise) victorious. This week, he
draws a well-rested Curtain and its young superstar-in-the-making,
Ben Roethlisberger. Something tells me he'll be up to the challenge.
9. Trent Green vs. IND - How
does a guy lead his team to an NCAA-like 56 points and not throw
a single touchdown pass? Guess that's what happens when you're
able to dominate on the ground. A ground-only attack won't suffice
against the high-flying Colts this week so you can bet Green will
be asked to take advantage of an equally NCAA-like Indy secondary
(311.5 yards yielded per game).
10. Kurt Warner @ MIN - His
line took a step back last week (6 sacks) but Warner still managed
to put up decent fantasy numbers (270 yards and a touch). He should
find the going much easier against a weaker Vikes unit this Sunday.
He'd better if the G-men stand any chance of keeping pace in the
Grab A Helmet:
Joey Harrington @ DAL - The
1039 yards put him in Boller/Brunell territory but the ten touchdown
strikes place him in more select company. To wit, only Culpepper,
Manning, and Brady have thrown more touchdowns per completion
than Harrington (roughly one out of every ten). Any fantasy player
worth his/her salt knows it's all about the touchdowns.
Chad Pennington vs. MIA - Speaking
of touchdowns, when will he start throwing some? It's nice that
Pennington completes almost 70% of his passes and doesn't turn
it over (only two picks so far) but five passing TDs through six
games is definitely cause for concern. If he doesn't break out
against the Fish this weekend, I'll be officially worried.
Tim Rattay @ CHI - I'd like
him a lot better if he were gonna be playing from behind but that
might not be the case in Chicago this week. The Bears will be
starting Craig Krenzel (see below) and will likely struggle to
keep up with the suddenly dangerous Niners attack. His numbers
might dip a bit but 250 yards and a score or two is better than
you'll get from a lot of guys.
Jake Plummer vs. ATL - Like
Hasselbeck, Plummer tends to play much better at home than on
the road. Unfortunately, like Hasselbeck, he's also prone to some
ghastly interceptions. Though that's never going to change, he's
not a bad start against an Atlanta team allowing opposing QBs
to complete over 68% of their passes (worst in the league). Start
him if you can't do better.
Vinny Testaverde vs. DET - The
Tuna isn't even paying lip service to his running game anymore
and that can only mean scads of passing attempts for Vincenzo
the rest of the way. Provided, of course, the 'Boys don't turn
to (gulp) Tony Romo anytime soon. He'll end up on his back a few
times this Sunday but should still be able to toss it around for
300 yards and a score or two.
Grab A Clipboard:
Kyle Boller @ PHI - If the Ravens
make it to the playoffs with this guy under center, Brian Billick
should be handed the mayorship of Baltimore. The former Golden
Bear has averaged just ten completions per game the last five
contests and hasn't thrown a TD pass since October 3rd. This week,
he draws the undefeated Eagles and Jim Johnson's blitz-crazy defense.
Oh, almost forgot. He'll be without Jamal Lewis again, too. Happy
Drew Bledsoe vs. ARI - A reader
called me out last week for being too hard on Bledsoe this season.
Funny. Haven't heard from him since. Drew's days are definitely
numbered in Buffalo and though it might be tempting to start him
against Arizona, you should know that this is definitely not your
grandfather's Cardinals. They're playing with fire, getting better
every week, and forcing a lot of turnovers (14 takeaways so far).
Craig Krenzel vs. SF - Could
somebody please explain to me why ESPN picked up this game? I
don't know what will be funnier, watching Krenzel play or listening
to Joe Theismann rave about his potential. I swear. The guy could
make Kyle Boller sound like a potential All-Pro. (Wait, that was
three weeks ago.)
Jay Fiedler @ NYJ - Didn't see
that one coming, did you? That makes all of us. Fiedler posted
an astronomical 154.8 rating last week by completing 13 of 17
passes for 203 yards and two scores. If he does it again this
week vs. a much better Jets squad, we MIGHT have to reconsider
his value. Something tells me won't have to do that.
Carson Palmer @ TEN - He rediscovered
The Oracle last week which, quite frankly, is the only way he's
going to be successful this season. Of course, it should be noted
his one touchdown pass cam e on a play where Champ Bailey fell
down. Temper your expectations as he still has a lot of learning