Sorry for the delay, folks. Been a particularly hectic week for
the Shot Caller. If you have any questions about players not mentioned
in the Report, please feel free to e-mail me. I can answer them
up until game time. Sound good? Let’s go...
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Donovan McNabb @ DEN –
You thought Mike Martz liked throwing the football around? Andy
Reid’s Birds aren’t even TRYING to achieve balance
anymore, as a 70-30 pass-run split clearly demonstrates. Though
that assures they won’t return to the big game this season,
it’s definitely a boon for McNabb’s owners. Keep starting
him and hope he begins converting more of those 40+ attempts/game
2. Carson Palmer v. GB –
The biggest game of his young career turned into a nightmare last
Sunday as the buoyant Bengals were blasted by Pittsburgh at the
Jungle. So much for the upstarts seizing control of the AFC North,
eh? All is not lost, however. The Pack and its pint-sized DBs
visit Cincy this weekend and that means Palmer should be able
to play pitch and catch with C.J. and T.J. all day. Keep the faith,
3. Brett Favre @ CIN –
Faith and Favre’s right arm are about all Green Bay fans
have to go on at this point. I doubt the Ol’ Gunslinger
envisioned a 1-5 start when he dragged those old bones back to
Wisconsin this summer, but you shouldn’t expect him to roll
over and play dead. He’s got too much pride and too much
talent to go down without a fight. Expect him to add a couple
more TD strikes to his league-leading total of 14, albeit in another
4. Jake Delhomme v. MIN –
He’s thrown for two or more touchdown passes in every one
of his last four games and now draws a Minnesota secondary that
was riddled by Favre and his makeshift receiving corps in Week
7. Couple that with a timely bye week (which allowed him to heal)
and you have a recipe for success in Charlotte this Sunday. Start
5. Tom Brady v. BUF –
He’s the only QB averaging better than 300 yards per tilt
thus far, something that better change if the Pats hope to repeat
as champs. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand
times: you cannot win championships if you can’t run the
football. Expect another solid day from Brady as New England looks
to separate itself from the AFC East morass.
6. Kerry Collins @ TEN –
He’s only thrown one pick all season (the good news) but
has also tallied only seven TD passes in six games (the bad).
Quite frankly, we expected more. At least he won’t be without
Randy for an extended period of time, something that didn’t
seem so certain a few weeks ago. Give him a go against Tennessee’s
below-average secondary this weekend.
7. Mark Brunell @ NYG –
It took the ‘Skins four GAMES to score 52 points last season,
a feat they accomplished in just four quarters against the hapless
Niners last Sunday. What’s the difference between last season
and this? You’re looking at him. Brunell has already thrown
for 300 more yards than he did all of last season…in three
fewer games. Give him the start against a Giants squad yielding
almost three bills per game through the air.
8. Eli Manning v. WAS –
The Giants can almost afford to give up so much real estate these
days thanks to the emergence of Peyton’s precocious kid
bro. He topped the 200-yard mark only once in ’04 but has
already turned the trick four times in six weeks this season.
He’s also developing quite the reputation for late-game
heroics. Provided he has his favorite target available this Sunday
(Plax Burress), he could be in for another good day.
9. Josh McCown @ DAL –
His numbers against the Titans were nothing to write home about
(12 of 28 for 140 yards and a score) but the one number that matters
most (Ws) ensures he’ll get another start against the ‘Boys
in Big D. For some reason, I suspect he’ll do just fine.
Might have something to do with that talented receiving corps
he’s throwing the ball to. Sure doesn’t have anything
to do with that abominable rushing attack.
10. Drew Bledsoe v. ARI –
Bledsoe’s numbers (13 of 24 for 136 yards and a touch) were
equally pedestrian last weekend but good enough to win the game…if
not for the little matter of a game-altering pick with 14 seconds
left on the clock. Of all the things to do at that juncture of
a football game! Don’t expect a repeat gaffe against the
plucky but under-talented Cardinals secondary this Sunday.
Grab A Helmet:
Ben Roethlisberger v. BAL –
When your QB throws the ball 14 times, you don’t expect
much in the way of production. That is, unless your QB is the
preposterously efficient Ben Roethlisberger. He does more with
less (100 attempts all SEASON) than any signal-caller in the league.
If you’re scoring at home, that’s one TD pass for
every 10 attempts, far and away the best ratio in the league.
Byron Leftwich @ STL –
Fresh off a restful bye week, Leftwich and the Jags travel to
St. Louis this weekend, where they’ll face a Rams D that
is still trying to figure out how to stop somebody. Only San Fran
has given up more points at this stage and that’s AFTER
Washington hung half-a-hundred on the Niners last week. Matchups
aren’t everything, but… .
Jake Plummer v. PHI –
The notoriously mistake-prone Snake hasn’t turned the ball
over since Week 2 (!), which goes a long way toward explaining
why they’re sitting in the AFC West’s catbird’s
seat. To stay there, they’ll need a gem from Plummer at
Mile High this weekend. Philly isn’t the giant they used
to be but they’re still good enough to go on the road and
beat anybody. Ask KC if you don’t believe me.
Drew Brees v. KC – Of
you could just ask the Bolts. San Diego had last weekend’s
contest at the Linc all but wrapped up until a special teams gaffe
in the later stages did them in. The result (a devastating 20-17
loss) dropped the Chargers under .500 again and rendered this
week’s tilt v. the Chefs a must-win. They might be the best
3-4 team in the history of football, but that won’t mean
much if they can’t start putting teams away.
Daunte Culpepper @ CAR –
Predictably, Daunte’s favorite opponent brought out the
best in him last week (280 yards and two scores), but that isn’t
why he’s on this list. He’s on this list because Chris
Chambers turned an otherwise horrible night into a fantasy gem
thanks to a garbage time 77-yard scoring grab. Confused? Don’t
be. All you need to know is that the Shot Caller gambled some
column space on the Dolphins’ inconsistent wideout and lost.
Grab A Clipboard:
David Carr v. CLE – Well,
that’s certainly one way to keep your quarterback from smashing
the all-time sacks record. Despite trailing most of the day, Carr
threw the ball a mere nine times against Indy last Sunday, an
indictment of Houston’s O-line play if ever there was one.
He’ll need more opportunities than that to become a legit
fantasy starter and likely won’t get them until the protection
up front improves. Translation? Sit him down.
Jeff Garcia v. CHI – Lions
fans are giddy about the switcheroo at QB but that doesn’t
mean you should be. Though he did run one in for the decisive
score in Cleveland, he didn’t throw a single touchdown pass
and only led his team to 13 points against a poor Browns squad.
This week, he draws a Chicago D that is making things very tough
on opposing offenses. Expect a return to normalcy (no TDs and
a couple turnovers) at Ford Field this Sunday.
Anthony Wright @ PIT –
Kyle Boller is reportedly a week away from returning to the lineup
in Baltimore. Just the fact that the Ravens are excited about
his return should tell you all you need to know about how Wright
has fared in his absence: not well. Sit him down against a stellar
Curtain that has yielded just four TD passes this season.
Alex Smith v. TB – You
could count on one hand the number of rookie signal-callers who
have merited fantasy attention in the history of the league…and
he’s not one of them. Still looking for his first career
touchdown pass, Smith draws a refreshed Tampa bunch that has given
up a league-low two thus far. I’m betting he’ll have
as many TD tosses as the other rookie named Alex Smith (the Bucs’
tight end) after this one: zero.
Kyle Orton @ DET – Orton
is further along than his classmate, but only because he’s
started since day one and doesn’t play for the league’s
worst squad. That isn’t a good enough reason to play him,
especially with Thomas Jones and the rushing attack getting most
of the attention. Steer clear.