Must Start: The Top 15
1. Steve Smith v. TB—The
vociferous Smith was none too pleased about being ignored in the
Sunday night meltdown at Charlotte two weeks ago, blaming the
conservative second half game plan for Carolina’s demise.
Hard to blame him, though it’s interesting to note the Panthers
are only 6-6 when he tops the 100-yard mark. He’s turned
that trick three consecutive times against the Bucs, nonetheless,
and could (should) make it four straight on Monday night.
2. Torry Holt @ SEA—Last
the Seahawks saw Mr. Holt, he was running rampant through their
secondary to the tune of 154 yards and three scores in the Week
6 thriller at Edward Jones. Hard to believe they’ll let
him duplicate the effort but he’s a guy who always finds
a way to make a difference. The Rams need him to, for certain,
as they’ve now dropped three straight after a promising
start. One more letdown and you might be able to pencil Seattle
in as NFC West champs.
3. Andre Johnson @ JAX—It
hasn’t made a lick of difference in the standings but Johnson
has quietly emerged as the most consistent target in the league,
dipping below the 75-yard mark just once and catching a TD toss
about once every two games. Even more astoundingly, he’s
on pace to snag 130 balls, which would be just shy of Marvin Harrison’s
record 143 (2002). Remember when 100 was considered the gold standard?
4. Marvin Harrison v. BUF—Speaking
of gold standards, there’s Marvin now, fresh off a scintillating
145-yard, two-score effort against the hated Pats. That second
six-pointer was a work of art, fully appreciated only upon further
review. In fact, one couldn’t have blamed Mr. White Hat
if he watched it a few extra times under the hood just to marvel
at Harrison’s perfection. I would have.
5. Terrell Owens @ ARZ—TO’s
probably wishing there were no such thing as instant replay (or
television, for that matter) after dropping a deal-sealing bomb
in DC last weekend. Alas, there he was at the post-game podium,
accepting blame for a loss Cowboys fans should never have had
to endure. I’ll give him credit for being a stand-up guy
but $25 million smacks should mean never having to say you’re
sorry. Save it, buddy…and make sure you catch the next one.
6. Marques Colston @ PIT—Some
knucklehead pundit (who shall remain nameless) handicapped the
ROY race this week and had the gall to pick Joseph Addai as the
odds-on favorite. Joseph Addai? The same Joseph Addai who couldn’t
wrest the starting job away from NFL great Dominic Rhodes? Puh-LEASE!
If Colston keeps it up, he could even challenge the next guy’s
record for rookie receptions.
7. Anquan Boldin v. DAL—It’s
101, by the way, a number Boldin might himself eclipse if he can
somehow manage to pick up the pace a bit in the second half. Believe
it or not, I think the return of Larry Fitzgerald could actually
enhance his chances, providing more single-coverage opportunities
and, potentially, more scoring opportunities, as well. He’ll
need Matt Leinart to improve, no doubt, but I for one think that’s
only a matter of time. This much is for sure: the pressure is
8. Chad Johnson v. SD—The
pressure is officially on. When you mouth off to two consecutive
opponents and then get your lunch (and almost your head) handed
to you by those same opponents, it’s time to do one of two
things: either shut that mouth or start putting some money where
it is. I’ll never be a hater (too entertaining) but a little
less conversation and a lot more production is what’s called
for at the moment.
9. Reggie Wayne v. BUF—He’s
twenty yards short of Andre Johnson’s league-leading 752
and has also found paydirt five times, the same number of times
Marvin has. That means, technically, he’s the Colts’
most productive wideout. We’re probably splitting hairs
here but I’d still take Harrison over the former ‘Cane…by
a nose. Start him as usual.
10. Roy Williams v. SF—Believe
it or not, Williams is only 13 yards behind Mr. Wayne, meaning
he’s now third in the league in receiving yardage. More
importantly, he’s starting to find the end zone with some
regularity (three straight games). The Lions might suck but they’re
obviously capable of scoring points against anyone. Guess it’s
time I gave that Martz crackpot some credit, eh? I’d rather
be blocked in the teeth by…
11. Hines Ward v. NO—…the
best blocking receiver who ever played the game. Sorry. Been working
on my Theismann impression. When he’s not busy dishing out
bone-crunching crackbacks, Ward is usually hauling in footballs,
something he’s done 23 times in his last three games to
the tune of 126 yards per. All may not be well in the Steel City
but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from employing
its favorite sons. Keep starting him.
12. Javon Walker @ OAK—It
isn’t often an opposing receiver marches into Heinz Field
and does what Walker did to the Curtain last weekend (206 total
yards and three touchdowns). Actually, it isn’t often an
opposing TEAM does that…at least, it didn’t used to
be. If I’m the Raiders, I make the running backs beat me
this weekend and throw everything I’ve got at Javon. Best
of luck with that, Coach Shell.
13. Donte Stallworth v. WAS—We’ve
heard barely a peep from Stallworth since Week 2 but he’s
not listed on the injury report this week and even had an extra
seven days to heal up. Will he pick up where he left off? The
Eagles certainly need him to if they have any hope of catching
the Giants in the NFC East. Get him back in there.
14. Darrell Jackson v. STL—After
three consecutive productive weeks, Jackson was inexplicably MIA
on Monday night, tallying a mere 36 yards on five catches. I wouldn’t
read too much into that, though. Three points would have been
enough to beat the Raiders and a steady diet of MoMo in the second
half was the right play. It won’t suffice this weekend,
however, and that means Jackson will be back in the spotlight.
Expect 75 yards and a score as the ‘Hawks and Rams play
“First Team to 35 Wins.”
15. Donald Driver @ MIN—Driver
was just inches shy of snagging his second TD pass of the game
last Sunday when…no, not again! Hard to blame Favre for
looking his way but there is such a thing as going to the well
one too many times. He did it and we, Packer Nation, paid the
price. Let’s hope it doesn’t deter him from finding
Don near the goal line again this Sunday. I said near, not ON,
by the way.
Grab a Helmet
Laveranues Coles @ NE—He
probably deserves some top 15 love but I just couldn’t find
a place for him this week. He’s fresh off a bye and already
has a 100-yard, one-score effort against the Pats in his back
pocket. I don’t think he does it again but it’s not
out of the realm of possibility. Go ahead and start him.
Antonio Bryant @ DET—Bryant
hasn’t tallied 100 yards since Week 2, back when we thought
the Niners might actually be turning the corner toward respectability.
They probably are, but the progress hasn’t exactly been
swift. A win on the road (against anyone) is a surefire way to
speed up that progress. If Bryant goes off, and he’s capable,
the Niners just might be able to pull it off.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh v. SD—I
should have him rated higher than Chad Johnson but I’m just
certain the minute I do that, CJ will blow up for 150 yards and
a couple touchdowns. “What are you waiting for,” ask
Johnson’s owners. Second fiddles don’t get much better
than Houshmandzadeh and a shift to first chair could definitely
be in the offing if he outscores 85 again this weekend.
Joey Galloway @ CAR—Galloway
managed just one reception for eight yards in the first meeting
but he certainly maximized that one grab (it was worth six points).
Now comes the rematch in Charlotte, a game the Panthers desperately
need. If they know what’s good for them, they’ll put
the clamps on Tampa’s only legitimate offensive weapon,
the still speedy Galloway, this Monday night. Not sure they do
Chris Chambers v. KC—How
crazy is it that Chambers has yet to reach even the 70-yard plateau
in a single game this year? So much for the Fish taking that next
step this season, huh? Regardless, he does seem to have developed
a rapport with Joey and is still managing to turn what few catches
he garners into points (four touchdowns to date). I think he does
it again this weekend as Miami attempts to build on the momentum
they gained by beating the big, bad Bears last Sunday.
Grab Some Wood
Randy Moss v. DEN—Moss
accounted for almost half of Oakland’s passing yardage on
Monday night, which is probably the way it should be. Unfortunately,
half of not much is even less. I think the Raiders will be lucky
to throw for 150 yards this Sunday, meaning he could struggle
to produce. When are they gonna let this guy shove off and play
for a REAL team? Inquiring minds (and Moss’ owners) would
surely like to know.
Bryant Johnson v. DAL—The
return of Larry Fitzgerald, even in a limited capacity, probably
spells the end of Johnson’s little run as a viable receiver
option. Actually, that run appeared to end two weeks ago when
he only caught one ball for nine yards in the loss at Lambeau.
Sit him down. You won’t be needing him again anytime soon.
Reggie Williams v. HOU—And
like that….pooph! He’s gone. Two catches in three
games? For 26 yards? Does he really miss Byron Leftwich THAT much?
If I owned him, I’m not so sure I’d be willing to
find out. Sit him down until he does something. ANYthing.
Eric Moulds @ JAX—Moulds
started the season off in fine fashion, racking up 68 yards and
a score against the Eagles. Since then, he’s averaged 40
yards a contest and hasn’t scored once. When the Bills aren’t
willing to resign a guy, that’s probably a good indication
he doesn’t have a lot to offer. Good career but soon to
be past tense. Steer clear.
Antwaan Randle El @ PHI—Santana
Moss was in street clothes last Sunday, leading many to believe
Randle El would step up his game and start justifying that exorbitant
salary. Alas, his stat line was identical to Moss’: zero
catches, zero yards. I wish I were making this up. Go find someone
on the waiver wire. Chances are he’s more productive than
the former Hoosier.