Must Start: The Top 15
1. Randy Moss @ PHI –
If the powers-that-be in Minnesota still think a rookie wideout,
a journeyman linebacker, and a seventh round draft choice are
worth the best receiver in the history of the game, I’m
gonna need their number. I’ve got this bridge I’ve
been trying to sell. Hardly used.
2. Terrell Owens v. OAK –
Come to think of it, locker room harmony might be a tad overrated.
NFL games aren’t won beneath the stadium, after all. They’re
won on the pitch, generally by the team fielding better athletes.
I’ve got a hunch most teams would trade peace and quiet
for the opportunity to win a championship. Meet Mr. Opportunity.
3. Chad Johnson @ CHI –
Did someone mention peace and quiet? Sorry. We’re all outta
that. Cincy’s gold-toof’d motor-mouth was at it again
last Sunday, woofing at the Vikes’ defenseless DBs both
before and after he flambéed them for 139 yards and a score.
Only way to shut him up, Chicago, is to shut him down. Good luck
4. Joe Horn @ MIN – Though
considerably more reserved than Johnson, Horn was no less effective,
torching the Giants’ secondary to the tune of nine catches,
143 yards, and a touch. He’s not the deep threat the first
three guys on this list are, but if you need a chain-moving snag
across the middle, you’ve come to the right place. Start
him against that clueless Vikes’ secondary and watch the
points pile up.
5. Torry Holt v. TEN –
The list of sure things at wide receiver is pretty short but he’s
still on it, thanks in large part to a coach who REALLY likes
the forward pass. He’s averaging almost 100 yards a contest
and is always a good bet to hook up with Bulger for a six-pointer.
Get him in there against a Titans secondary that hasn’t
been tested yet.
6. Marvin Harrison v. CLE –
The vaunted Colts passing attack took a day off last Sunday but
the chances of that happening again (especially against Cleveland)
are slim. It’s always tough to figure out who will shine
for Indy but he’s done it for so long, I’m sticking
with him. So should you.
7. Steve Smith @ MIA –
Smith was another disappointing Week 2 start but that had more
to do with Stephen Davis’ effectiveness (and the Pats D)
than anything else. He’s the best weapon the Panthers have
in the passing game and that’s reason enough to give him
a look against Miami’s average back four.
8. Jimmy Smith @ NYJ –
The other Mr. Smith was equally ineffective last Sunday but he
wasn’t alone. The Jags managed only three points against
Indy’s refurbished defense. If Leftwich is healthy, the
ship should be righted this weekend at the Meadowlands. Stick
9. Donald Driver v. TB –
Though most people didn’t notice, he was a top 15 wideout
last season, even playing second fiddle to Javon Walker. Now that
he’s sitting first chair, he should become a regular in
the top 10. Besides, it’s not like the Ol’ Gunslinger
has a plethora of options to choose from, unless you think Robert
Ferguson and Terrence Murphy are gonna set the world on fire.
Yeah, me neither.
10. Darrell Jackson v. ARI –
Recommending a Seattle receiver usually gets me in trouble, but…here
goes. Jackson has feasted on the Cardinals in recent years, averaging
almost 130 yards per matchup (!!!) and a score. Those numbers
aren’t skewed by one monster performance, either. He’s
tallied over 100 yards in each of the four meetings. Once or twice
might be an anomaly. Four times? Nuh-uh. Start him.
11. Larry Fitzgerald @ SEA –
After a phenomenal Week 1, the second-year stud came back to earth
a bit against the Rams, snatching just four balls for 70 yards.
Then again, he also notched two carries for 25 yards, leaving
him just short of three digits for the day. The Cardinals need
the ball in his hands and it appears they’ll try just about
anything to get it there. Suit him up.
12. Laveranues Coles v. JAX
– Chad Pennington doesn’t have the gun to hit him
deep but that should be nothing new for Coles, who spent last
year out-running Mark Brunell’s wounded ducks. He’s
actually pretty good in traffic, too, and that should equate to
good numbers when all is said and done.
13. Deion Branch @ PIT –
Corey Dillon’s slow start has put a lot of pressure on Tom
Brady and his unsung receiving corps. Luckily for Brady, his unsung
receiving corps is pretty good. The best of the lot, Branch, has
already caught 15 passes this season, putting him on pace to shatter
previous career marks for receptions and yardage. If he can throw
in a few end zone trips, he could become a regular #1 option.
14. T.J. Houshmandzadeh @ CHI
– He’s already a #1 option, despite the fact he’s
the #2 guy in Cincinnati. If you recall the type of numbers Peerless
Price put up in Buffalo as Eric Moulds’ sidekick, you should
have a pretty good idea where Houshmandzadeh will end up by year’s
15. Plaxico Burress @ SD –
This former sidekick is now the main man in the Big Apple and
is quickly becoming Eli Manning’s favorite target. If not
for a penalty, he’d have scored another touchdown on Monday
night to go with his score from Week 1. He looks to be a great
matchup against San Diego’s diminutive corners so get him
in your lineup.
Grab A Helmet:
Antonio Gates v. NYG –
It’s not fair to blame the Chargers’ poor start on
his Week 1 suspension but ya’ gotta wonder if they’d
be sitting 0-2 if he’d been available for that potential
game-winning drive against Dallas. Regardless, he’s back
in the fold now and appears to be no worse for the wear (6 catches
for 80 yards in Week 2).
Rod Smith v. KC – Keep
on truckin’, old soldier. It’s early yet but the wily
vet is on pace for yet another 1,000 yard season. In fact, he’s
been around so long, he’s already tallied a 1,000 yard season
against the Chiefs…and then some (1,575 yards on 104 career
receptions). Expect nice numbers on Monday night.
Michael Clayton @ GB –
Clayton has never faced the Pack but there’s a first time
for everything. He’ll like what he sees…I can tell
you that. Ask Braylon Edwards.
Donte Stallworth @ MIN –
I’m a Joe Horn owner and I can’t tell you how many
times I had to wait for a glimpse of the numbers on Monday night
to see if it were him (#87) or Stallworth (#83) hauling in the
pass. The similarly constructed Saints put up almost identical
numbers against the G-men, combining for 17 receptions and over
280 yards. If they do it again, you can bet your bottom dollar
the Vikes will be sitting in the NFC North cellar come Monday.
Here’s hoping they don’t have company.
Muhsin Muhammad v. CIN –
Was I too quick to write him off this season? Perhaps. Is he gonna
put up the numbers he posted last year? No. If you can live with
more modest totals and fewer touchdowns, go ahead and start him.
If you selected him to be your #1 guy, on the other hand….
Grab Some Wood:
Any Buffalo receiver v. ATL
– See Losman, J.P.
Nate Burleson v. NO –
My Culpepper recommendation was lukewarm (at best) so don’t
go getting too excited about Mr. Burleson. He’ll probably
be the beneficiary of any improvement on Daunte’s part but
that isn’t the sure thing it seemed to be last weekend.
The Vikes’ leading receiver against the Bengals? Try Travis
Taylor. Yeah, THAT Travis Taylor. Steer clear.
Reggie Wayne v. CLE –
He’s gonna blow up one of these weeks and I’m not
even convinced that won’t happen this week, but….
Do you really wanna play the guessing game this early in the season?
There are plenty of other options. Wait ‘til he gets back
Chris Chambers v. CAR –
Same story for him. He’s already exploded once (Week 1 against
Denver) but followed that up with a dud at the Meadowlands (three
catches for 21 yards). Until he gets paired up with a better QB,
he’s gonna drive you nuts. Trust me. I took a late-round
flier on him in our redraft league (good decision) and decided
to suit him up last week (bad decision). Make it easy on yourself
and go in a different direction.
Best of luck, folks!