Must Start: The Top 15
1. Steve Smith v. WAS—Smith
was his usual stellar self in Week 11, notching 90 yards and a
score as the Panthers hammered the hapless Rams. He even had another
TD taken away by penalty in the first quarter. This week, he draws
a ‘Skins secondary sporting an unsightly 20-3 TD-to-INT
ratio. Start him (duh) and expect another 100-yard outing.
2. Chad Johnson @ CLE—Can
you believe Smith and CJ actually played for the same community
college squad? At the same time? What are the chances a Podunk
CC would produce the NFL’s top two receivers? I’d
give it about the same odds I’d give the Browns to stop
85 this weekend. He’s gone for almost 500 yards and five
scores in his last two games, making up for a season’s worth
of frustration…and then some.
3. Terrell Owens v. TB—Funny
how Owens seems to be making less noise just as the Cowboys are
hitting their stride, huh? Perhaps he CAN be a team player? I’m
guessing that has a lot to do with the Ws so I wouldn’t
give this consummate front-runner too much slack. He’s great
when things are going well and a world-class pain in the neck
when they aren’t. Ride the wave and hope for the best.
4. Reggie Wayne v. PHI—I
solicited your help for an interesting blurb about Wayne and got
precisely one response. Not as easy as it looks, huh? John Allen
of Hotlanta gets his 15 seconds: “In week 8, Reggie went
off on the then pass-dominant Denver Broncos to the tune of 138
receiving yards and three scores. This week, he’ll be tested
again as he goes against the 8th ranked (against the pass) Philadelphia
Eagles. I can hear the band warming up in the pits as Mr. Wayne
straps on the cape and goes superhero this weekend. It can be
musical chairs with the Indy receivers sometimes, but Reggie gets
his game on 2 or 3 times a year and this should be one of those
weeks. Come Monday morning, Reggie’s numbers will be music
to his owners’ ears.” Thanks, John!
5. Darrell Jackson v. GB—Has
anyone noticed he’s leading the league in receiving touchdowns?
This despite the fact he’s been missing his triggerman for
over a month now. I never said this league makes any sense so
it’s probably best to just do what I do: don’t question
anything. You own a guy who scores touchdowns? Start that guy.
Man, this is easy!
6. Torry Holt v. SF—This
guy used to score touchdowns, too…lots of them. In fact,
he was leading the league in that category (or tied for the lead,
at least) up until last week. The crazy part about that is he
hasn’t scored one since Week 6, not coincidentally the same
week St. Louie’s latest tailspin began. If I’m them,
I get back to basics against the Niners this Sunday. That means
lots of Steven Jackson and lots of Torry Holt.
7. Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald
@ MIN—The Cards didn’t need Boldin and Fitz
to be special last week, instead relying on Edge to do most of
the work as they eked out their second W against the equally crappy
Lions. That MO won’t fly at the Metrodump so you can expect
them both to improve on Week 11’s pedestrian numbers. Who’s
the better option? Who do I look like, Kreskin?
8. Marvin Harrison v. PHI—Despite
94 yards on six catches, Marvin lost a critical fumble last weekend,
the first time he’s done so since 2004. Not that it would
have affected your bottom line too much. It’s just so damned
surprising to see him make a mistake. We’ve come to expect
perfection and I suspect he’ll be back to showcasing it
again this Sunday v. the Eagles. Shake it off and get him back
9. Joe Horn @ ATL—Long
time, no see. Marques Colston looks iffy for this Sunday, meaning
somebody’s gonna hafta step into his shoes and carry the
Saints’ prolific passing attack. Why not the guy who’s
been doing it for most of the past six seasons? He’s actually
scored in each of his last three games (he missed two along the
way) and could do so again at the Georgia Dome this weekend. Monitor
the injury reports and get Horn in there if it looks like the
rook won’t go.
10. Plaxico Burress @ TEN—For
the life of me, I’ll never be able to understand why it
takes Kid Bro so long to get Jeremy Shockey involved in ballgames.
Nevertheless, that certainly inflates the value of Manning’s
obvious first choice, the brooding Burress. He’s scored
in three of his last four ballgames and always seems to be the
target when the G-Men get within shouting distance of paydirt.
Keep starting him.
11. Roy Williams v. MIA—If
the phenomenally talented Williams has a tragic flaw, it’s
probably this: he doesn’t really have great hands. Can you
imagine how unstoppable he’d be if he did? Think Chad Johnson
plus 20 pounds and perhaps even another gear. Don’t know
that you can teach a guy how to catch but we can probably live
with the stuff he does pull down. Give him the nod against Miami
12. Andre Johnson v. BUF—It
just occurred to me you could field a pretty good football team
comprised of guys named strictly Johnson or Williams. I’m
talking real football here, not the fantasy version. Think about
it. Chad, Andre, and Roy at WR. Rudi, Larry, and DeAngelo in the
backfield. Brad at QB. OK, forget about the whole Johnson/Williams
thing. I didn’t think it through.
13. Donald Driver @ SEA—Things
started bad for the Pack last week and got progressively worse
after that. Favre went down with an elbow thingy. Rodgers replaced
him and then went down with a broken foot. Meanwhile, the Pats
were scoring every which way on the Green and Gold’s clearly
overmatched defense. Just one of those days, Packer fans. Don’t
take it out on Don.
14. Javon Walker @ KC—Here’s
one guy who might actually be sad to see Jake go (provided Shanahan’s
not jerking our chain on this one too). He’s scored five
times in his last four games and is clearly the target Plummer
is most comfortable with. I know. Not saying much. Still, wideouts
who can score on any given touch are worth starting. Make it happen,
15. Lee Evans v. JAX—The
very occasionally spectacular Evans was nothing if not that last
Sunday, tallying 205 yards and two scores…in the first quarter!
He finished with 265, a career best, and a total that is likely
to have the Evans fan club knocking on my inbox this week. Bring
it on, fellas. There’s nothing I like better than going
back and forth with you all. Might wanna wait and see what he
does this week, however.
Grab a Helmet
Gotta cut it short due to Thanksgiving travel plans, folks. If
you have any other specific questions, feel free to e-mail
me. I’m available again starting Friday and throughout
the weekend. Happy Turkey Day!