Must Start: The Top 15
1. Steve Smith v. NYJ –
Not to take away from the league’s most prolific wideout
but what happened to all the stars? Randy is ailing, C.J. is sitting,
Holt is recovering, and _____ is…don’t get me started.
At any rate, Smith moves to the top of the heap and will likely
stay there so long as he continues posting 100-yard days and scoring
touchdowns. Mark him down for a similar outing this Sunday against
the crummy Jets.
2. Plaxico Burress v. MIN –
Plax hasn’t scored in a couple weeks but is still putting
up good yardage (82 per game) and now faces a Vikings secondary
minus one of its “top” corners, the absurdly overrated
Fred Smoot. I liked the matchup before Mr. Smoot went down and
like it even more now that he’s out. Start him.
3. Randy Moss v. DEN –
Even a half-strength Randy stays in the top 5 this week with so
many other names out of action. It’s clear he’s not
healthy but that hasn’t stopped him from putting up points.
His one and only grab last weekend went for a mere seven yards.
Fortunately, it was also worth six. Give him a go as it looks
like he’ll play.
4. Santana Moss @ TB –
The other Moss has hit a dry spell of late, as well, failing to
top 100 yards or score in two consecutive outings. That may not
change this weekend against Tampa but the ‘Skins don’t
have many other options in the passing game and neither do you.
Stick with him as he’s bound to bust out soon.
5. Marvin Harrison v. HOU –
Marvin’s a relative rarity these days, a big name who isn’t
hurt, disgruntled, or struggling. In fact, struggling is the opposite
of what he’s been doing lately, as his four TDs in the last
three games clearly prove. Definitely start him against a Texans
squad he got the best of in Week 7 (65 yards and a score).
6. Torry Holt @ SEA –
Holt returns just in time to help the Rams stay in the playoff
hunt and also gets to play with Isaac Bruce for the first time
since Week 3. Hard to tell if the duo will need some time to get
back in the flow but it certainly helps that the Seattle secondary
is exceedingly banged up right now. Expect 75-100 yards and, if
you’re lucky, a touch.
7. Larry Fitzgerald @ DET –
He didn’t find the end zone last weekend but was clearly
Kurt Warner’s favorite target, hauling in eight balls for
102 yards. With Anquan Boldin still out, he should have no trouble
duplicating those numbers against a better-than-you-think Detroit
8. Joey Galloway v. WAS –
At least Chris Simms knows enough to get the ball in Mr. Galloway’s
hands most of the time (83 yards and a touch against Carolina
last Sunday). Now, if he could just stop putting the ball in the
OTHER guys’ hands. Give Galloway the nod against the ‘Skins
this weekend as he should have no problem notching 75-100 yards
9. Jeremy Shockey v. MIN –
The wide receiver pool is thin so we turn our attention to those
other receivers, the bigger ones who occasionally put up receiver-type
numbers. Indeed, Shockey’s been putting up receiver-type
numbers all year (66 yards/game and five TDs) and has also, for
the most part, stayed injury-free. In other words, so far, so
good. Give him the start against Minnesota’s horrendously
10. Terry Glenn @ PHI –
His totals have started to sag since a five-week explosion to
start the season. Guess that’s what happens when opposing
coordinators watch film and get tired of seeing #83 continually
streaking down the sideline for long gainers. He’s still
a threat to score on any play and if the Eagles lose track of
him, could make another big splash on Monday night.
11. Donald Driver @ ATL –
Driver is still kicking himself over the drop-turned-interception
that, arguably, cost the Pack a game last weekend. Don’t
worry, Don. You’re certainly not in danger of losing your
job. That said, it sure would help if you could take the pressure
off an already reeling offense by catching the ones thrown your
way. Expect 75-100 yards and, please, PLEASE, a touchdown.
12. Rod Smith @ OAK –
The Broncos offense is a well-oiled machine right now and nobody’s
been more consistent (save for Jake, maybe) than the 11-year vet,
Mr. Smith. He’s still got a great set of hands and is tough
enough to go over the middle for those much-needed, chain-moving
grabs. Start him against the Raiders, a team he’s scored
more TDs against (nine) than any other.
13. Joe Jurevicius v. STL –
He hasn’t been quite as productive as he was in the first
meeting with the Rams (nine catches for 137 yards and a score)
but has still proven valuable, tallying two touchdowns in his
last three games. Not much has changed in St. Louis secondary
since that game so there’s no reason to suspect Jurevicius
will have a hard time posting good numbers in the Emerald City
this Sunday. Start him.
14. Tony Gonzalez @ BUF –
Another tight end we used to see regularly on this list has finally
started to produce in ’05. ‘Bout freakin’ time,
if you ask me. He’s simply too talented and too much of
a mismatch to be putting up the kind of numbers he was putting
up earlier in the season. In the last three games, he hasn’t
been south of 67 yards, an encouraging sign and more than enough
reason to play him in Week 10.
15. Brian Finneran v. GB –
You thought I was kidding about the shallow talent pool? Actually,
Finneran might be a decent start, anyway, especially with the
Pack and its pint-sized corners coming to town. He’s coming
off two consecutive 90-yard+ outings and even managed to find
paydirt last weekend against the Fish.
Grab A Helmet:
Ernest Wilford v. BAL –
Think maybe the Jags have found a complement for Jimmy Smith?…finally?
He isn’t the biggest wideout they have (that would be Matt
Jones) but he’s no pipsqueak at 6’4” and 223
pounds. That’s the kinda size that can cause opposing defenses
headaches. Baltimore’s eleven is no exception, especially
without the ball-hawking Ed Reed patrolling the secondary.
Eric Moulds v. KC – Moulds
used to be considered gigantic by receiver standards but now is
merely average in a league full of overgrown ball grabbers. Guy
can still catch the rock, though, and do plenty with it once he
does. He’s averaging almost seven receptions and over 70
yards per contest since Kelly Holcomb took over. Not too shabby
for a wideout playing on a run-first club.
Antonio Chatman @ ATL –
Chatman is one of the last of his breed, the starting wideout
that DOESN’T stand six feet or greater. Of course, he wouldn’t
be starting if it weren’t for a ridiculous spate of injuries
in Titletown. Nevertheless, he’s developing into quite the
little slot guy, catching everything thrown his way and even becoming
a go-to option on third down. If you’re stuck this week
at WR (and who isn’t?), give him a look.
Reggie Brown v. DAL –
In other news, the Eagles will actually take the field this Monday
night to play a real live football game. Filling in for the now
departed #1 receiver will be Mr. Brown, a rook coming off his
best game to date, a five-catch, 94-yard, one-TD performance in
D.C. It’s unlikely the kid’ll be overly consistent
in the early going but he’s certainly capable of excelling
at this level. He won’t have much choice, really. The Birds
Deion Branch @ MIA – Branch
has put together a couple of nice games these past few weeks and
now appears to be living up to his billing as Super Bowl MVP.
This week, he draws a Miami secondary that is good but not great.
He and the Pats don’t make a habit of losing multiple games
in a row so you can expect a nice effort from the New Englanders
Grab Some Wood:
It was a REAL stretch coming up with twenty wideouts worth starting.
Suffice it to say I think everyone else is pretty dubious. If
you have specific questions about anyone in particular, please
e-mail me. Be happy to chat about crappy wideouts with you. ;-)
Best of luck, folks!