Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning v. JAX—The
Texans supposedly drafted Mario Williams to put more heat on Peyton.
Somebody get those boys a drawing board! Big Bro exploded for
400 yards and three scores in the Week 2 lambasting at RCA and
now looks forward to a showdown with Jacksonville for early AFC
South supremacy. He’s averaging better than 260+ and two
scores per tilt v. the Jags so you know what to do.
2. Donovan McNabb @ SF—McNabb
is one of two triggermen to post 300+ yards in each of the first
two weeks. Can you name the other? (Hint: his surname isn’t
Manning.) Only problem is that the Eagles are not 2-0, as they
should be. I suspect the Birds will be involved in a lot of high-scoring
games this year as they simply don’t have the ball-control
attack to salt away Ws. That bodes well for Don’s fantasy
3. Carson Palmer @ PIT—Palmer’s
fantasy value has never been in question and he showed us why
against Cleveland, throwing for 352 yards and a couple scores.
The scary part is that he hasn’t yet had a full complement
of receivers to work with. Once the Bengals get TJ (not to mention
CJ) back, good luck stopping them. That goes for you too, Pittsburgh.
4. Kurt Warner v. STL—The
Cardinals can match the Bengals skill player for skill player
but it isn’t gonna matter much if they don’t do something
about an atrocious front five. In fact, I’d be surprised
if the too-patient Warner survives the first half of the season
the way things are going (eight sacks so far). Get him handcuffed
to Matt Leinart sooner rather than later. You’ll thank me.
5. Matt Hasselbeck v. NYG—Seattle
proved how wide the gap still is between them and upstart Arizona
last Sunday, winning convincingly at Qwest Field, 21-10. Unfortunately,
the defense was mostly responsible for the victory. Eventually,
the offense will join the party and I’ve got a sneaking
suspicion it might be this week against a 27th-ranked G-unit.
6. Michael Vick @ NO—The
Dirty Birds have been partying all OVER the NFC South thus far,
racking up 252 and 302 rushing yards, respectively, against Carolina
and Tampa. Seriously, when’s the last time a team not representing
a service academy racked up 5 ½ bills on the ground in
consecutive weeks? Doesn’t hurt that their quarterback was
the fourth best running back (!!!) in Week 2, right behind the
third-best, Warrick Dunn. Time for an “I told you so,”
7. Marc Bulger @ ARI—Why
didn’t anyone tell me I was calling him “Mark”
again this year? I cautioned you before Week 1 not to expect arcade-like
numbers from Bulger anymore and 1/8 of the way through, I seem
to have been spot on (400-some yards and one measly touch). Call
it “I told you so” Part Two. Give him a look against
Arizona’s dubious D but don’t expect miracles.
8. Eli Manning @ SEA—A
miracle is what happened at Autzen Stadium last Saturday. Well,
that or a gross miscarriage of justice. (Go Ducks!) Not to be
outdone, Kid Bro staged a pretty miraculous comeback of his own
against Philly on Sunday, leading the G-Men back from a 24-7 deficit
and an almost certain 0-2 start. Call it the perfect fantasy script:
1) spot opponent huge lead, 2) throw for a bazillion yards in
the comeback attempt, 3) force an extra stanza with a timely eleventh
hour drive, and 4) throw the game-winning TD.
9. Tom Brady v. DEN—Almost
overnight, the Pats have become a two-headed, five-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust
monster, relying on the complementary talents of Corey Dillon
and Laurence Maroney to beat opponents into submission. One of
these days, though, they’ll be forced to lean on ol’
reliable, Mr. Brady. Don’t know why but I think this Sunday
might be one of those days. Expect him to atone for last year’s
10. Drew Brees v. ATL—Who’d
have thought the Saints-Packers pillow fight would yield so many
fantasy studs in Week 2? Not me, apparently. Brees shook off the
ghost of Aaron Brooks (two fumbles and a pick in the first quarter!)
to toss for 353 yards and a couple scores in New Orleans’
stirring victory. Now he takes his 2-0 squad home to the Crescent
City for an NFC South showdown against Hotlanta on Monday night.
Here’s hoping the final score isn’t…
Grab A Helmet:
Ben Roethlisberger v. CIN—…9-0.
A little help here? I jabbed these forks in my eyes during the
4th quarter of Monday night’s coma-thon and…almost
got ‘em. Whew! There we go. Anyway, as I was saying….
Byron Leftwich @ IND—…I
didn’t know football could be such a soporific. I mean,
I like bone-crushing hits and even the occasional defensive struggle,
but would it have killed these guys to score A TOUCHDOWN? Still,
gotta hand it to Big Swifty. He looked as good as a guy can look
throwing for zero TDs and a pick. Give him the nod against Indy
this Sunday. His career rating v. the Colts is a stellar 100.7.
Chad Pennington @ BUF—Mr.
Trivia Answer (see D. McNabb) has defied the naysayers to post
two 300-yard days in his first two starts back from a devastating
shoulder injury. You can count me among those naysayers, incidentally.
Though I’m still not convinced he can continue to excel,
ya’ gotta like the returns so far. In other words, ride
the hot hand.
Daunte Culpepper v. TEN—That,
or you could opt for the ice-cold hand of Mr. Culpepper in hopes
that it soon becomes hot. There’s coming back from an injury
by storm (Pennington) and then there’s what Daunte has done:
one TD, three picks, countless poorly thrown balls, and (most
importantly) no Ws. You get one more week, big boy. After that…
Alex Smith v. PHI—…it’ll
be time to start focusing on the next wave of difference-makers
at the position. Hard as it is to believe after last season (one
TD v. eleven INTs), Smith is fast becoming one of those guys.
He won’t tally too many multiple TD days yet but he’s
no longer turning it over and is averaging close to 260 yards
a contest. Expect more of the same against Philly this Sunday.
Rex Grossman @ MIN—OK,
OK. I’ve been too hard on the guy. Not sure two games (against
Green Bay and Detroit, no less) is enough to convince me he’s
turned the corner, though. Kyle Boller was reportedly turning
the corner late last year and look where he is. Give him the start
against the Vikes but don’t be at all surprised if he fails
Grab A Clipboard:
Chris Simms v. CAR—Talk
about failing to impress. The Bucs and Raiders have COMBINED to
score nine points through the first two weeks. Didn’t these
two franchises play in a Super Bowl recently? Maybe the league
should contract Oaktown and let Chucky pick over his old squad’s
leftovers. That should be good enough to get the Bucs to 4-12,
yes? OK, maybe not.
Kerry Collins @ MIA—4-12
seems like a stretch at this point for Jeff Fisher’s Tennessee
train wreck. Reading between the lines of Wednesday’s war
of words, it appears the Titans hated Billy Volek more than they
liked Kerry Collins. Volek’s recent trade also tells me
the Vince Young era starts sooner rather than later. Bottom line:
they have no illusions about winning in Nashville anytime soon.
Neither should you if you’re employing either of these guys.
Charlie Frye v. BAL—Romeo
Crennel’s already defending his young field general, trying
to shift blame to his receivers and just plain dumb luck. Sorry,
Romeo. The Shot Caller’s not buying it. Give Frye the boot
if you’ve been playing him, especially against a Ravens
D that has recaptured its cheeks-clenching ferociousness.
David Carr v. WAS—For
a change, some good news out of Houston: Carr has thrown four
TDs and no INTs in his first two tilts. Now, the bad news: he’s
still getting dumped at an alarming rate (nine sacks to date)
and has accumulated most of those TDs in garbage time. Nothing
wrong with garbage time, mind you, but one has to play long enough
to reach it. If he keeps getting creamed, he just may not one
of these days. Be leery.
Mark Brunell @ HOU—Notice
anything peculiar about this list? Try adding up the collective
victories of these six signal-callers. Simply put, bad QB play
= bad team. It’s an incontrovertible football fact, folks.
Aaron Brooks v. Nobody—Bad
QB play + torn pectoral muscle = better team? Brooks (mercifully)
will be out for a while. That means he can’t utterly destroy
your championship hopes. Then again, if anyone were capable of
losing a few fumbles and tossing a few picks in street clothes,
he’s it. After all, he lost two fumbles before completing
a single pass last Sunday! Let’s never speak of Aaron Brooks