I apologize for the delayed posting, folks, but it’s been
a long week for the Shot Caller and family. Was hoping we could
dispense with the chitchat and get right down to business? Thanks,
folks. As always, if you have specific questions regarding players
not specifically mentioned below, please feel free to e-mail me.
I’m able to answer all messages prior to game time on Sunday.
Off we go…
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Donovan McNabb @ DAL –
After laying waste to a couple AFC West pretenders, McNabb and
Co. finally square off against a divisional foe this weekend in
Big D. The ‘Boys better hope he’s feeling better,
too, ‘cuz a grumpy and gimpy Donovan is obviously a very
dangerous Donovan. His numbers since the Week 1 beating in Hotlanta?
Try almost 360 yards/game and ten TD strikes. Ouch, indeed.
2. Peyton Manning @ SF –
Think Peyton and the boys were a little fed up with all the sports
radio scrutiny this past week? That’ll teach ‘em.
He rebounded from a very un-Manning-like three-game stretch to
post typical Manning-like numbers in Week 4 (264 yards and four
scores). This Sunday, he draws a colossally overmatched Niners
squad that has yielded an astounding 368 yards/game through the
air thus far. Parental guidance suggested.
3. Carson Palmer @ JAX –
Palmer and his undefeated Cincy squad make their first and (unfortunately)
last primetime appearance of the season this Sunday night in Jacksonville.
Not coincidentally, it will be their first real test of the campaign,
as well. It’s hard to imagine any team completely containing
the dynamic Bengals at this point but the potential absence of
T.J. Houshmandzadeh makes the job a little easier. We’ll
see what Palmer’s made of this weekend, for sure.
4. Tom Brady @ ATL – We
already know what he’s made of but you can add you-know-what
and vinegar to the list of ingredients, apparently. Brady took
issue with Marty Schottenheimer’s analysis of New England’s
health this past week and is ready to make someone else pay the
price. That someone will be the Falcons this Sunday in Atlanta.
Whatever motivates you, man. You obviously know best.
5. Marc Bulger v. SEA –
Are doctors sure Mike Martz’s heart infection hasn’t
spread to his brain? Just when we thought he’d turned the
corner toward offensive balance, Coach Crazy’s signal-caller
uncorked an eye-popping 62 passes in the Week 4 loss to the G-men.
Not surprisingly, the Rams lost. Still, 40 completions and 442
yards is…well, a heckuva lotta fantasy points. Gotta start
him, especially with that defense performing so poorly.
6. Brett Favre v. NO –
Question his decision-making all you want but don’t ever
question his will or that rocket launcher of a right arm. After
spotting the Panthers a 19-point lead on Monday night, the Ol’
Gunslinger nearly brought his injury-riddled Pack all the way
back with two fourth-quarter scores and a couple two-point conversions.
He may walk away from the game after this season but it won’t
be on account of deteriorating skills. Tell you that much.
7. Jake Delhomme @ ARI –
Favre’s heroics overshadowed a fairly solid performance
by Delhomme in Week 4. Though he only threw for 206 yards, he
also tossed a pair of touchdowns and, more importantly, didn’t
turn the ball over. If he can avoid the mistakes in Week 5, he
should be in for another solid day against a short-handed Cardinals
8. Matt Hasselbeck @ STL –
Speaking of short-handed…. Hasselbeck will be without the
services of his top two wideouts in St. Louis this Sunday. Luckily,
the replacements (Joe Jurevicius and Peter Warrick) are experienced
targets who will still pose problems for a Rams secondary that
hasn’t stopped anyone thus far (255 yards/game and eight
TDs). Start him.
9. Drew Brees v. PIT –
I suspected his breakout ’04 campaign was a fluke but there
was nothing fluky about the way he manhandled the Super Bowl champs
on their home turf last weekend (19 of 24 for 248 yards and two
scores). That gives him two huge performances in a row and the
Bolts a couple of season-salvaging Ws. Make it three in a row
this Monday night as they dispatch of the slightly overrated Steelers
in San Diego.
10. Ben Roethlisberger @ SD
– I said SLIGHTLY overrated, Curtain fans. His defense (not
to mention his clock operator) let him down in Week 3 but he did
enough to win and that’s saying something for a guy who
is rarely asked to decide games. This week, he draws a San Diego
D that is tough against the run but suspect against the pass.
If Hines Ward is available (questionable with a balky hammy),
you can move him up a few slots.
Grab A Helmet:
Michael Vick v. NE – He’s
not a sure thing at press time but ya’ gotta think he’ll
give it a go with the world champion Pats coming to town. Lucky
for him (and the Falcons), those world champions hardly resemble
the group that walked off the Alltel turf victorious last February.
That’s the thing about injuries. They don’t discriminate.
Give him the nod but make sure he’s fit first.
Brian Griese @ NYJ – A
4-0 record tends to conceal most deficiencies but if I’m
the Bucs, I’m a little alarmed by his numbers so far (a
1-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio). If he’s really the guy that can
lead this team to the promised land, he’ll prove it this
weekend sans the Cadillac. I’m betting he isn’t, for
the record, but he’ll be good enough to lead them to victory
at the Meadowlands against a crummy Jets team.
Jake Plummer v. WAS –
Of course, turnover-prone QBs often make very good fantasy signal-callers
(see Favre, Brett), especially on those rare occasions when they
manage to avoid them. He’s avoided them entirely the past
two weeks and when he does that, the Broncos usually win. They
will again this weekend thanks to another solid performance from
Aaron Brooks @ GB – On
second thought, turnover-prone QBs occasionally make very poor
fantasy signal-callers. Case in point: Mr. Brooks. Fortunately
for him (and his owners), the winless Packers are allergic to
turnovers and don’t put enough pressure on opposing QBs
to force them. He should have plenty of time to throw at Lambeau
this Sunday and that should equate to 200+ yards and a couple
Kelly Holcomb v. MIA –
The J.P. Losman experiment is over for the time being and that
means super-sub Holcomb gets his first start of the season. He
may not be the long-term solution at the position but he instantly
upgrades a moribund Bills unit. Don’t be surprised if he
posts good numbers against an average Fish secondary this weekend.
He’s got the skills and the receiving corps isn’t
Grab A Clipboard:
Alex Smith v. IND – Welcome
to the bigs, kiddo. Don’t get killed.
David Carr v. TEN – This
guy’s taken getting killed to a whole new level this season
and is now on pace to shatter his own NFL record for sacks. Though
that isn’t entirely his fault (he has some mobility), you’ve
gotta wonder if he’s making decisions quickly enough. The
Titans will throw the kitchen sink at him so unless something
changes, he’s likely to spend the better part of this coming
Sunday on his backside again. Steer clear.
Joey Harrington v. BAL –
“Indisputable visual evidence?” Where? Brother Joey
just can’t seem to catch a break these days, as the TD-nullifying
review in Tampa painfully proved. Of course, he still had a chance
to win the game, only to be disappointed when his rookie receiver,
Mike Williams, failed to come down inbounds with another game-winner
on the very next play. Sigh. Sit him down until that black cloud
hovering over the Lions organization moves along.
Mark Brunell @ DEN – The
plucky Brunell is making me look bad at the moment but I’m
willing to stake my reputation on the following prediction: he
will NOT lead the ‘Skins to the playoffs. If it weren’t
for some dunderheaded coaching on Mike Holmgren’s part,
he wouldn’t have even redeemed himself for a terrible fourth-quarter
pick in last weekend’s OT victory. Go ahead and start him
if you think I’m wrong. I promise you’ll be sorry.
Vinny Testaverde v. TB –
You want sorry? Check out the Jets. They’re paying dearly
for the decision to rely on Chad Pennington’s wounded wing
and must now make do with a guy who should probably be driving
a golf cart instead of an NFL offense. He might surprise against
the league’s lesser weights but Tampa and its league-leading
defense is anything but. Stay away for now.