We could have been excused for wondering what was going on after
Week 2 (Willie Parker?) but thanks to some vintage performances
in Week 3 (LaDainian Tomlinson!), all seems to be right in the fantasy
football universe. Well, almost all. There’s still the little
matter of what in the hell is wrong with the freaking Colts. I don’t
pretend to know what’s eating them but I do know that whatever
it is, it makes forecasting the coming week just a little more exciting.
After all, perfection is just a more perfect version of boring and
we don’t spend countless hours on this little hobby ‘cuz
we’re looking to be bored. Know what I’m saying? Probably
not. I’ve kinda stopped listening to myself, too. Let’s
move along to the Week 4 projections.
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Donovan McNabb @ KC –
Though I’m certain there’s a special place in fantasy
hell reserved for those who demote Peyton, the numbers don’t
lie after three weeks. Whereas McNabb has thrown for 964 yards
and eight touchdowns (both league highs), Manning has eked out
a mere 604 yards and two measly scoring strikes. There comes a
time when you hafta follow the points. That time is now.
2. Carson Palmer v. HOU –
If it’s points you’re after, it’s time you hitched
your wagons to the juggernaut known as the Bengals offense. I
told you they’d be good but even I’m a little surprised
at how good they’ve become in such a short period of time.
The light has come on for the former #1 draft pick and with weapons
aplenty at his disposal, he could very well be the most valuable
fantasy signal-caller by year’s end.
3. Peyton Manning @ TEN –
The reigning most valuable signal-caller is in danger of losing
the title if he doesn’t pick things up soon. Consider that
Trent Dilfer, Gus Frerotte, and even his own kid brother have
thrown for more yards (MANY more yards) and that Mark Brunell
and (gasp!) Anthony Wright have thrown the same number of TD passes.
We shouldn’t push the panic button yet but a little of that
old Peyton magic sure would come in handy about now, especially
if you spent a king’s ransom on him at auction.
4. Tom Brady v. SD – Speaking
of magic, did you happen to catch the fourth quarter of Sunday’s
titanic clash at Heinz Field? All he did in that final stanza
was complete 12 consecutive passes for 167 yards and lead his
team down the field for (yet) another game-winning field goal.
It’s time to go on the record with this: Tom Brady will
end up being the greatest QB of all time before he’s through.
And, no, I haven’t forgotten about Joe Montana.
5. Jake Delhomme v. GB –
He ruined an otherwise stellar day (285 yards and three scores)
with a horrific pick on Carolina’s final drive. Fortunately
for his owners, he’s unlikely to make the same mistake this
Monday night against a pillow-soft Pack defense with one turnover
to its credit and precious few playmakers. I mean, he could make
it. The Pack just won’t capitalize.
6. Kerry Collins v. DAL –
Collins is averaging almost 300 yards/game and two TDs per contest
and has yet to throw an interception this season. Remind me again
why the Raiders are 0-3? The schedule hasn’t helped (and
doesn’t get much easier) but so long as that defense keeps
under-performing, he’ll continue to put up huge numbers.
He’s a must-start every week.
7. Marc Bulger @ NYG –
So’s he, though you gotta wonder how much more punishment
the guy can take. Bulger’s been sacked a league-high 15
times and there’s no question the hits have been at least
partially responsible for his relatively high turnover rate. Nevertheless,
so long as he plays for Mike Martz and with Torry Holt, he’s
someone you want lining up for you on Sundays.
8. Eli Manning v. STL –
This kid’s making Sundays a very enjoyable experience again
for the folks in Gotham, and for you too if you happen to own
him. Cross-country road trips to extremely hostile stadiums usually
spell doom for inexperienced quarterbacks, but Eli turned his
into a coming-out party of sorts, lighting up the Chargers to
the tune of 352 yards and two TDs. The boy’s got moxie,
folks. Must run in the family or something.
9. Michael Vick v. MIN –
I’ll tell you what doesn’t run in the family: his
speed. Younger brother, Marcus, is a nice college QB who may even
end up running an NFL squad someday, but he’ll never be
the electrifying athlete his brother is. What does that hafta
do with Mike’s ranking this week? Absolutely nothing. Just
thought you’d like to know he’s a mold-breaking talent
who should never be sitting on your bench.
10. Drew Bledsoe @ OAK –
From mind-blowing speed to…well, considerably less speedy.
Just goes to show you there’s more than one way to skin
a cat in the NFL. Bledsoe has actually been more valuable to this
point than Mike and is coming off a huge performance in San Fran
(363 yards and two TDs). If he enjoyed dinner (the Niners’
lowly defense), he’s gonna love dessert (Oakland’s
equally crummy 11), served right across the bay.
Grab A Helmet:
Daunte Culpepper @ ATL –
Now that’s a little more like it, Big Fella! The competition
was weak (an average, road-weary Saints squad) but 300 yards,
three TDs, and no picks are still music to his owners’ ears
after a horrid start to the season. The going will be a lot rougher
in Hotlanta this Sunday (ask Don McNabb) but I suspect he’ll
be OK or, at the very least, not as bad as he was in Weeks 1 and
Brian Griese v. DET –
You wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere near me when his
potentially game-altering fumble was whistled dead late in the
third quarter. Then again, the Pack wouldn’t have been in
such a precarious position if they’d managed to bottle up
Joey Galloway earlier in the game. Bottom line? He’s doing
what he has to do for a team built around solid defense and a
fantastic running game. That’s good enough for you, too.
Drew Brees @ NE – Speaking
of fantastic running games! Brees isn’t the star attraction
in San Diego but he’s good enough to hurt people when L.T.
is running wild. He tuned up for the showdown in Foxboro with
a nifty 19 of 22 performance and two scoring strikes. If he does
it again this Sunday, the Bolts could pull off the upset in New
Byron Leftwich v. DEN –
It wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, but the Week 2 victory
against New York was an important one for Leftwich and the young
Jags. They could very well have let one get away (to an inferior
team, no less) but they didn’t, despite their best efforts.
In the end, it was Leftwich’s brilliant game-winning strike
that finished the Jets off. He’s almost there, folks.
Trent Green v. PHI – He
almost made a liar out of me but managed to (finally) toss a scoring
strike on a poorly thrown ball late in the fourth quarter of Monday
night’s massacre in Denver. He’s gonna hafta play
better against the Birds or the Chefs are gonna be sitting at
.500 and wondering what happened to that once promising start
to the season.
Brett Favre @ CAR – The
way things are going, the Pack might be able to draft ANOTHER
successor to the Ol’ Gunslinger come next April. It’s
clear he misses his favorite target, Javon Walker, but that hasn’t
stopped him from putting points on the board, regardless. If you
can live with the absurdly high turnover rate (seven INTs so far),
you’ll probably be rewarded with top 10 numbers the rest
of the way. He still knows how to chuck it.
Grab A Clipboard:
J.P. Losman @ NO – Something
tells me Mike Mularkey isn’t too keen on suffering through
another rebuilding season, which means Losman could be one or
two crappy performances away from headset duty. At least he draws
the dubious Saints secondary in Week 4 after tough matchups against
the NFC South’s finest, Tampa and Atlanta. Trying to stay
positive here, folks.
Aaron Brooks v. BUF –
New Orleans is anything but the NFC South’s finest, thanks
in large part to this guy’s exasperating turnover habit.
He has seven giveaways through three games and seemingly morphs
from talented flame-thrower into absolute basket case when pressured.
Though I think the Saints will win their first real “home”
game, I’m doubtful he’ll be able to avoid a below-average
day against the tough Bills secondary.
Joey Harrington @ TB –
I’d settle for average from my boy Joey at this point. He’s
had two weeks to reflect on a potentially ruinous performance
against the Bears and will now hafta regroup against one of the
NFL’s best defensive units. Opportunistic secondary + mistake-prone
signal-caller = easy sit-down. Hate to do it to you, brother,
but we’ve got some fantasy games to win.
David Carr @ CIN – Like
Joey, he’s had a couple weeks to stew over a shaky start
to the ’05 campaign. Unlike Joey, he doesn’t have
even a halfway decent performance to fall back on. His numbers
after two games? 237 yards, one TD, three picks, and 13 sacks.
Not much he can do about that last part but staying upright may
be the least of his worries against a pilfer-happy Bengals secondary
playing with a lot of confidence.
Mark Brunell v. SEA –
His Week 2 numbers told us one story (291 yards, two TDs, and
a shocking “W”). Our eyes told us a different one.
For 56 minutes, he was the same old liability under center, continually
taking sacks and missing open receivers. Though he deserves credit
for leading his squad to the improbable victory, he won’t
lead them to many more playing the way he did. Trust me on this
one and sit him down. You’ll thank me later.
Brooks Bollinger @ BAL –
“Yeah, Vinny? What’s happenin’, buddy? Long
time, no see! Hey, you’re not gonna believe this, but….
Yeah, again. I know, I know. You warned us. Anyway, you busy for
the next couple months?”