Must Start: The Top 15
1. Chad Johnson v. GB –
I could TRY to say it better than C.J. but I’m gonna let
him speak for himself: “There are two things for Brother
(Al) Harris this week. The bad thing is, he has to cover me. The
good is, he can save 15% by switching his insurance to Geico.”
You’re still wondering why I love this guy? Priceless.
2. Steve Smith v. MIN –
He leads all receivers with seven touchdowns and trails only Santana
Moss, Torry Holt, and T.O. in yards-per-game. The amazing part
is that he’s done it with virtually no help from his running
mates…until two weeks ago when Ricky Proehl caught approximately
14 balls in a row down the stretch in Detroit. If you don’t
think signal-callers have favorite receivers, rewind the tape
on that one…and be thankful that Jake Delhomme is back in
3. Randy Moss @ TEN –
Randy was a surprise start last weekend and his appearance clearly
buoyed the aimless Raiders. Though he only caught three balls
(for 43 yards), one of them went for a score. In fact, you could
argue his mere presence opened things up for Lamont Jordan and
the Oakland rushing attack. Start him as always against the crappy
Titans this weekend.
4. Terrell Owens @ DEN –
He was forced to resort to singles and doubles against the Bolts
last weekend (seven catches for 53 yards), but still managed to
parlay the small ball approach into a six-pointer. He should find
similar success (though more yards) against a crummy Broncos secondary
5. Santana Moss @ NYG –
Through seven weeks, he’s the league’s most productive
fantasy wideout (conventional scoring). I wouldn’t have
bet a plugged nickel on that happening at the start of the season.
I still suspect he could experience a drop-off at some point but
for now, the D.C. Express is rolling. Keep riding him until things
6. Larry Fitzgerald @ DAL –
He’s now scored in three consecutive contests and is slowly
but surely entrenching himself as a consistent top 10 start. If
it weren’t for his equally productive running mate, he’d
probably be a regular in the top 5. As it stands, he’ll
continue to share the catches and the glory with…
7. Anquan Boldin @ DAL - …this
guy. Boldin was held without a single catch last weekend, no doubt
causing great consternation amongst his owners…and all four
Arizona fans. There’s absolutely no way he gets shut out
in Big D this Sunday so don’t go doing anything rash. He
doesn’t sit unless you own three of the guys in front of
him here. And if you do, what in the heck are you reading this
8. Donald Driver @ CIN –
The Pack has now lost its top two backs and two of its top three
wideouts. The only regular not named Favre left standing? Driver.
There’s no question he’ll be the primary focus of
opposing defenses, too, but that doesn’t diminish his value.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Ol’
Gunslinger, it’s that he loves to spread the ball around,
no matter whom he’s spreading it around to.
9. Plaxico Burress v. WAS –
Burress is still listed as questionable for tomorrow’s contest
and that might be reason enough to give him a break. Then again,
if you’re on the outside looking in on the playoff picture,
you might need to roll the dice and hope he suits up. He’s
scored in four of six games this season and is clearly the #1
threat in the New York passing game.
10. Terry Glenn v. ARI –
I honestly didn’t think choosing between Glenn and MeShawn
would matter this year but, amazingly enough, it does. They’ve
both accounted for multiple touchdowns and have somehow managed
(with the help of Drew Bledsoe, of course) to resuscitate a vanilla
Dallas passing attack. Go ahead and give Glenn the start this
weekend as the Cards won’t be able to handle his downfield
11. Rod Smith v. PHI –
He’s actually thrown up some average numbers of late (save
for a stellar Week 6) but that only tells me he’s due for
a breakout performance. Hard to keep a good man like Smith down
for too long and with the way Philly flings it around, I have
a feeling the clash at Mile High could get wild and wooly. Give
him the start.
12. Kevin Curtis v. JAX –
Torry Holt and Ike Bruce are gonna miss this one, the first time
both have been outta the St. Louis lineup since, well…last
week. Before that, though? I’m sure it was a really long
time ago. If you’re in a pinch and need a sneaky spot starter,
give Curtis a look. He’s scored twice in his last three
games and has become the de facto #1 option for the St. Louis
13. Joey Galloway @ SF –
He doesn’t deserve to get bounced outta the top 10 but the
loss of Brian Griese has me worried about his future. Sure, things
will go smashingly enough against the league’s worst passing
defense this Sunday. What will the Bucs do after that, though?
Give him the start against San Fran and then start thinking about
14. T.J. Houshmandzadeh v. GB –
He was questionable until the opening kickoff last Sunday but
managed to play from whistle to whistle…and quite well,
I might add. He didn’t score but the former Beaver did manage
to snag seven balls (a team high) for 75 yards. He should post
similar numbers this weekend against the Pack’s woefully
15. Joe Horn v. MIA –
Horn’s return was delayed a week but he finally (mercifully!)
takes the field this weekend against the Dolphins in Baton Rouge.
It’s about time, brother. Where you been? It’s probably
best to stay away if you have three really good options at wideout.
If you don’t, however, get him back in there. Guys coming
off long layoffs often appear to be no worse for the wear.
Grab A Helmet:
Hines Ward v. BAL – I
know, I know. He belongs in the top 10. Unfortunately, when your
QB only throws 14 balls a game, it’s unlikely you’re
gonna post stellar numbers. He does the best he can with what
he gets (35 yards on three catches and a score in Week 7) but
we want more out of our top 15 guys. He’s a solid #2 and
a great #3 right now.
Antonio Chatman @ CIN –
Speaking of #2s, meet the new second fiddle for Brett Favre and
the suddenly unrecognizable Pack. Chatman is a diminutive former
punt return guy who’s managed to find a nice, little niche
as a slot guy in Green Bay, tallying three scores already this
season. Of course, it he gets hurt, too, you’re looking
at either Andrae Thurman or Taco Wallace as the #2 guy. I wish
I were making these names up.
Doug Gabriel @ TEN – The
silver (and black) lining of Randy’s brush with the injury
report last weekend? Gabriel was able to get more work with the
first team and ultimately parlayed it into a five-catch, 101-yard
day against the Bills last Sunday. That makes two consecutive
solid games for the former Golden Knight. Give him a look as your
#2 or #3 guy this weekend, as Collins will almost certainly attempt
to spread the wealth against the spotty Tennessee secondary.
Antonio Gates v. KC –
Is there any reason why the Bolts don’t throw it to him
on EVERY play? He can’t be covered by linebackers. He can’t
be covered by safeties. He can’t be covered by corners.
In fact, he can’t be covered by any combination (two or
three) thereof. Just a thought. These are the things you think
of when sitting in an airplane for seven hours.
Grab Some Wood:
In a first for the Shot Caller, I’m not going to single
anyone out as a particularly bad start this weekend. That’s
not to say there aren’t some bad starts out there. It just
means I’ve run out of time and hafta get to press. I’ll
be back slinging mud next week. Until then, zzzzzz…..
Best of luck, folks!