Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning v. SD –
If the Colts attain perfection this season, they will definitely
have earned it. After a dominant victory on the road against a
game Jacksonville squad, they draw the equally spirited (and much
more talented) Chargers this Sunday. I’m betting they won’t
want to run the risk of facing San Diego again and a win here
would almost guarantee that. Expect Peyton to go wire-to-wire
as Indy secures “W” number fourteen.
2. Carson Palmer @ DET –
The most valuable fantasy signal-caller this season (arguably)
was completely derailed in Week 14, horrible timing for those
who rode his golden arm into the fantasy playoffs. Call it dumb
luck as gale-force winds and an almost prevent-like Browns D conspired
to hold him down. He’ll have no problem bouncing back at
the climate-controlled Ford Field this Sunday, especially if the
Lions “fans” decide to switch allegiances again in
3. Kurt Warner @ HOU –
Warner was only so-so against the ‘Skins last week, tallying
a nice 255 yards but throwing for only one score and an accompanying
pick. He should easily top those numbers this weekend against
a Texans squad that simply isn’t talented enough to win
ballgames right now. Keep starting him and expect something in
the neighborhood of 275 yards and two TD strikes.
4. Drew Brees @ IND –
He posted career highs in completions and attempts last Sunday
and also had a hand in all three of San Diego’s scores (one
rushing). Unfortunately, the Bolts did the unthinkable and lost
the ballgame, making this week’s matchup with undefeated
Indy a must-win. Good luck with that, guys. Hard to believe this
team isn’t going to make the playoffs but that shouldn’t
discourage you from starting all the studs, Brees included.
5. Matt Hasselbeck @ TEN –
I told you to be cautious with him last week, reasoning that he
might not get enough work to be overly productive. Guess I’m
batting .500, eh? He certainly had a reduced workload (yanked
in the fourth) but managed to toss four touchdowns before the
early exit, in addition to 226 yards. Give him the start against
a Titans squad that has yielded 26 passing TDs this season, tied
with San Fran for worst in the league.
6. Eli Manning v. KC –
It was another up-and-down day for Kid Bro in Week 14. Though
he managed to top the 300-yard mark and score twice (once with
his legs), he also turned the ball over three times. Lucky for
him, the turnovers didn’t prove costly. They certainly would
this weekend with KC’s high-octane attack coming to town.
If he avoids them, the Giants win. If he doesn’t, they don’t.
That simple, folks.
7. Trent Green @ NYG –
Why would giving the Chiefs extra opportunities be a poor idea
these days? They’ve averaged better than 32 points per game
since laying an egg in Buffalo five weeks ago and seem to be hitting
on all cylinders. Coming off a league-best 340 yards in Week 14,
Green should have another strong showing against New York’s
eminently bendable, though not necessarily breakable, secondary.
Stick with him.
8. Tom Brady v. TB – He’s
listed as questionable as of press time but will probably play,
especially with a playoff clinch hanging in the balance. Though
uncharacteristically mistake-prone of late (six turnovers in his
last three), he’s still leading the league in passing yardage
by a significant margin. If he’s able to solve the tough
Tampa D, he could post solid totals.
9. David Garrard v. SF –
It doesn’t appear the Jags will get Byron Leftwich back
anytime soon and that means Garrard is the guy. Trust me when
I say that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s still
raw as a passer but has a cannon for an arm and is a tank when
he breaks containment. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least
to see him throw for 200+ yards and a couple scores against Frisco’s
crummy secondary. Failing that, he could also run one in. Give
him a look if you don’t have better options.
10. Jake Delhomme @ NO –
My NFC fave looked like anything but last weekend, getting smoked
by a more determined and more disciplined Tampa crew, in Charlotte
no less. If the Panthers have any hope of living up to expectations,
they’d better right the ship this weekend in Baton Rouge.
I think they do as Delhomme throws for 200+ and two scores.
Grab A Helmet:
Jake Plummer @ BUF – After
a blistering start, the other Jake has cooled off of late, failing
to throw more than one TD in a game since late October. Not that
it’s affected Denver’s fortunes much, as they’ve
only lost once in that same span. Don’t expect huge numbers
the rest of the way but don’t expect disaster, either. He
isn’t asked to carry the team (and doesn’t try to
anymore) and that means he should perform admirably through the
final three weeks.
Drew Bledsoe @ WAS – Bledsoe’s
been all over the map this season, topping the 300-yard mark three
times but also dipping below 200 yards several times. The one
constant? Touchdowns. He’s thrown at least a score in every
contest but one this campaign (Week 11 against Detroit) and has
thrown multiple TDs five times. That bodes well for this weekend’s
showdown with the hated ‘Skins in DC. Start him.
Chris Simms @ NE – I’m
still not crazy about the guy but I’ll give him credit for
knowing his role in the conservative Tampa Bay scheme: don’t
turn the ball over. After a rocky start, he’s played virtually
error-free ball the past month, giving the Bucs a legit chance
at playing this January. This week, he draws a New England D giving
up nearly 250 yards per game through the air. If you’re
looking for a sneaky starter in Week 15, he might be your guy.
Gus Frerotte v. NYJ –
Then again, it might be him. Replaced by Sage Rosenfels in the
Week13 comeback vs. Buffalo, he returned in Week 14 to lead his
boys to the improbable win over San Diego. It’s doubtful
Frerotte will still be under center next season but we’ll
worry about that bridge when we get to it. For now, he’s
a better-than-average play against the woeful Jets at home.
Ben Roethlisberger @ MIN –
Hard as it is to believe, the Vikes may actually have a better
chance of making the playoffs than Pittsburgh right now. The Steelers
can change all that with a victory. If Big Ben is able to play
through his injuries and keep it away from an opportunistic Minny
secondary, they just might get it. I suspect he will, though it
will go down to the wire.
Grab A Clipboard:
Ryan Fitzpatrick v. PHI –
He was a popular pickup a few weeks back but those who resisted
the temptation knew better than to extrapolate from a big-time
performance against the league’s worst squad. Since that
stirring come-from-behinder, the Harvard grad has managed to throw
six picks and no touchdowns, making him even less valuable than…
Alex Smith @ JAX – …the
guy who hasn’t found the end zone once this season. He doesn’t
have much help but no touchdowns? Not even in garbage time? There
are inauspicious debuts and then there’s what Smith has
done in San Fran. The silver lining, of course, is that the Niners
still have a shot of securing the first pick in next April’s
draft, as well.
Kyle Orton v. ATL – Despite
Orton’s play, the Bears were considered a lock to make the
playoffs a few weeks back. Now? I’d say they’re about
a 50-50 shot. You can only rely on your defense for so long. Eventually,
you need to get something going on O. 138 yards/game and a touchdown
pass every other week from your QB isn’t gonna cut it. That
goes for you, too. Find someone else.
Todd Bouman v. CAR – The
Aaron Brooks experiment appears to be over in New Orleans (call
me prophetic) and that means Bouman gets a chance to show his
stuff the rest of the year. He’s certainly capable but with
only four career starts under his belt, is no better than the
rooks from a fantasy perspective. Sit him down against Carolina’s
ferocious pass rush.