Must Start: The Top 15
1. Priest Holmes @ TB - If you're
in a fantasy hoops league and you own Kevin Garnett, you know
what's it like to have Priest. Simply put, there isn't a more
devastating force in the fantasy football universe. His 13 rushing
touchdowns are six more than the next closest competitor's and
put him on pace for a mind-boggling 30 this season, five better
than Emmitt's record of 25. I don't know about you but I wouldn't
bet against him.
2. Shaun Alexander @ SF - Not
surprisingly, Coach Holmgren's back-to-basics approach manifested
itself as 32 carries (and 195 yards) for Alexander last week.
With the passing game in seeming disarray, you should expect more
of the same against the Niners this Sunday. After all, why mess
with success, right?
3. Tiki Barber vs. CHI - Ron
Dayne was healthy but inactive for last week's contest in Minnesota,
which means Commandant Coughlin is putting all his eggs in Lightning's
basket. Good idea. The former Wahoo has been nothing short of
spectacular this season, racking up over 100 yards and a touch
in every game but one thus far.
4. Jamal Lewis vs. CLE - You've
already experienced the downside of Lewis' shady personal life.
Now, the upside. He's been sitting on the sidelines for two weeks
and should be geeked for a matchup with his favorite punching
bag, the Browns' front seven. Get him back in there.
5. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. NO
- Nobody deserves the Ws more than L.T. He's toiled in relative
futility (though not obscurity) since he entered the league and
is finally reaping the rewards of his immense talent. He's not
100% yet but that's no reason to sit him down. Following this
week and two weeks of rest, he should be primed for a monster
6. Reuben Droughns vs. HOU -
His numbers tailed off a bit last week but that had more to do
with the large early deficit than anything else. Coach Shanahan
knows the Broncos can't rely on The Snake to win games for them
and a solid rushing attack, led by Droughns, is the key to avoiding
such a scenario. The former Duck should have plenty of success
against a scrappy but undertalented Texans bunch (4.7 yards per
7. Deuce McAllister @ SD - In
years past, a matchup with the San Diego D would have been cause
for celebration. No longer. The Chargers' stout front seven is
currently leading the league in run defense and has put the clamps
on several stud backs this year. Deuce should still find room
to roam but if his D isn't able to put the kibosh on Brees and
the suddenly explosive Bolts O, he may not get many opportunities.
8. Curtis Martin @ BUF - Martin
is one of the few backs to have had success against San Diego's
revamped group this year. That should come as no surprise, though,
as he's pretty much flattened every opponent to date
one. The rematch with Buffalo's monstrous D-line should be fun
to watch if you're a fan of strength vs. strength football. Count
on C-Mart to make amends for his one average performance in Orchard
Park this Sunday.
9. Edgerrin James vs. MIN -
Edge was non-existent in the running game last week but compensated
with 90 receiving yards in the shootout at Arrowhead. The Colts
are in for another shootout this Monday night (when aren't they?)
so that same scenario could play out again. Of course, anytime
there's a shootout, there's a pretty good chance your #1 rock-toter
will score. He will, unlike last week. I promise.
10. Willis McGahee vs. NYJ -
Well, that settles one running back controversy, eh? It was only
the Cards but the former Cane made his coach look pretty smart
last week. Though he could have trouble getting a lot of carries
should the Jets control the clock this Sunday (as they usually
do), he'll probably see enough to pick up 75-100 yards and a score.
If not, don't worry. He's the man until further notice.
11. Rudi Johnson vs. DAL - He's
the man, as well, and the only hope Cincy has of being potent
on offense, which makes it all the more surprising he's never
touched it 25 times in a game this season. If I were Marv Lewis,
I'd give him the rock 'til he's exhausted and hope for the best.
12. Duce Staley vs. PHI - Think
Duce will be amped to face his former mates in the marquee game
of the week? Yeah, me too. He may not score (that's the Bus' department)
but he should be good for another c-note against a surprisingly
average (and undersized) Eagles front.
13. Clinton Portis @ DET - Sure
hope money buys you happiness. Portis left a great situation (Denver)
for a terrible one (Washington) and there's no relief in sight
until the 'Skins find a legitimate starter at quarterback. This
week, he draws a stingy Lions front (3.5 yards/carry) that is
also forcing a ton of cough-ups, Portis' specialty. Beware.
14. Michael Pittman vs. KC -
If he gets a bunch of touches in the running game this week, you
can assume the Bucs have kept it close. If he doesn't
they didn't. Either way, he'll be a factor in the passing game
and that makes him a good enough start for most of us.
15. Emmitt Smith @ MIA - He's
59 yards shy of 18,000 and nothing motivates the venerable Emmitt
like milestones. This week, he squares off against a Dolphins
front that simply spends too much time on the field. The result?
They're giving up 4.8 yards a carry and close to 150 a game. Emmitt
is (still) good enough to duplicate those numbers come Sunday.
Grab A Helmet:
Jerome Bettis vs. PHI - Thanks
in large part to lousy draft position, I've been using him as
my #2 back in a dynasty league all season. Know what? I could
be doing worse. He won't get you many yards but his nose for the
goal line is still strong. Expect a touch or two out of him this
week as his massive O-line should have no problem pushing around
an undersized Eagles group.
Marshall Faulk/Steven Jackson vs. NE
- Believe it or not, teams are having a lot of success running
the football against New England's formerly formidable front,
as well. Then again, the real problem is figuring out who exactly
will get the most touches for St. Louis. I imagine Coach Martz
will split the carries right down the middle again, meaning Faulk
and Jackson should both get opportunities to score. Forced to
choose, I'd take Faulk
by a hair.
Tyrone Wheatley @ CAR - First
New England, now Carolina. Where have all the great run defenses
gone? Wheatley's return means the Raiders can finally employ a
power running attack. He didn't do much last week but did find
the end zone and should do so again this weekend.
Corey Dillon @ STL - After last
week's last-minute scratch, I wouldn't dare recommend him to those
of you in need a sure thing. If you're in a bind, however, or
simply the gambling type, give him a go. He might play and if
he does, he's an instant Top 15 guy.
Grab A Gatorade:
Kevan Barlow vs. SEA - He teamed
up with longtime adversary Fred Beasley this week to call out
the younger, "bling-blinging" Niners for lack of commitment.
That's rich. I'm sure the Niners don't have more important things
to do than sling mud at each other prior to a key divisional battle.
Here's an idea, Mr. Veteran: rush for 100 yards every once in
a blue moon before presuming your younger teammates actually CARE
what you think.
Any Minnesota RB @ IND - When
is too much talent a bad thing? When you're a fantasy owner trying
to lead your squad to the playoffs, of course. I doubt Mike Tice
cares what we want (stability) but I'm quite certain he won't
give it to us
at least not this week. Though Moore, Bennett,
and Smith are a great trio, none is good enough to lead your squad
to victory without sufficient carries. Making matters more complicated,
the rook MIGHT miss Monday night's game. Let the situation sort
itself out before casting your lot with one of these three.
William Green/Lee Suggs @ BAL
- Unlike the group in Minny, I actually LIKE this platoon situation
and think they can both be productive in the long run. Unfortunately,
they're facing the Ravens this week. Even if you can figure out
who's gonna get the most touches, it would be unwise to rely on
either of them to break out in the Charm City. Did I mention Ray
Lewis is most likely hopping mad?
Kevin Jones vs. WAS - He won't
be a factor until he gets a steady diet of carries and that's
unlikely to happen until he earns the full faith of Coach Mooch.
Even if he has, the matchup isn't a good one this week. The 'Skins
held the potent Pack rushing attack to 88 yards last week and
it wasn't for lack of effort on Green Bay's part (28 attempts).
Stay away for now.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends