Must Start: The Top 15
1. LaDainian Tomlinson @ KC—Four
TDs is mighty nice but I’m here to tell you he won’t
do it again the rest of the year. Why? Because nobody does! Well,
nobody not named Shaun Alexander, that is, who happens to be inactive
this week. Look for something like 75-100 yards and two scores
at Arrowhead as the Bolts look to up their mark to 5-1.
2. Clinton Portis @ IND—Portis
and the ‘Skins were inexplicably waxed by the previously
winless Titans last Sunday and things are now starting to look
pretty grim in our nation’s capital. A loss in Indy this
weekend and they’ll be staring at 2-5 and likely oblivion
in the tough NFC East. Only one way to prevent that from happening?
A healthy dose of Mr. Portis. The Colts are dreadful against the
run (5.2/carry and 166.8/game) and, unlike the Bears, can’t
score when they don’t have the ball.
3. Brian Westbrook @ TB—The
Eagles appear to be handling him with care since he missed the
Week 4 Monday nighter against Green Bay. That should be neither
surprising nor particularly discouraging. Yes, it means fewer
touches but it also means he’s more likely to finish the
season. Tampa’s been none too stout against the run thus
far so he should find plenty of running room this weekend. Keep
4. Tatum Bell @ CLE—Bell
didn’t explode against the Raiders (83 yards) but he did
score once and did carry the ball 23 times. In fact, he’s
averaging about that many carries over the last three contests.
Who said he’d never be a 20-carry back? Oh, yeah. That was
me. Start him against Cleveland’s dubious front seven (143
yards/game) this Sunday.
5. Larry Johnson v. SD—Johnson
hasn’t tallied 83 yards in the last two games combined,
at least not on the ground. He is, however, the most prolific
pass-catcher at the position (54.8 receiving yards per). Forget
last week. The Chiefs were out of it early and couldn’t
afford to pound him between the tackles. He should bounce back
this week in a game the Chiefs must have if they hope to contend
in the AFC West. Believe it or not, I think they’ll get
6. Ronnie Brown v. GB—Brown
busted out of a season-long slump against the Jets last Sunday,
tallying 127 yards and a touch in the loss at the Meadowlands.
This week, he gets the rebuilding Pack, a team that really doesn’t
do much of anything well, though the numbers tell us they’re
OK against the run. I think Miami gets ahead early and uses the
former Tiger to salt away that elusive second W.
7. DeShaun Foster @ CIN—Predictably,
Foster had a rough outing against the stout Ravens in Week 6.
Luckily for the Panthers, Baltimore DIDN’T have an answer
for his teammate, Steve Smith. I’m not sure Cincy will have
an answer for either of them this weekend and that means you should
definitely get the former Bruin in your lineup. He should be good
for 100 yards and a score.
8. Rudi Johnson v. CAR—The
Bengals will counter with the Johnsons, CJ and Rudi, in hopes
that the Panthers are equally clueless against their potent attack.
Though there’s been nothing potent about Rudi’s game
of late (no more than 65 yards in his last three), I have a feeling
that will change this weekend. Mark him down for 85 yards and
9. Tiki Barber @ DAL—Tiki’s
bombshell announcement has keeper leaguers scrambling but it probably
doesn’t affect his value in the short term. If anything,
ya’ gotta think he’ll be even more explosive than
usual, hoping to go out with a bang, so to speak. Many more games
like last week (227 total yards) and the Giants will be begging
him to stick around another year.
10. Cadillac Williams v. PHI—Things
are looking up in Tampa, though not the kind of up that is likely
to lead to a playoff berth. Not that Caddy’s owners care.
They’d be happy with another effort like the two he’s
recently put up (125 and 104 yards, respectively, in his last
two games). Give him the nod and hope the Bucs are able to keep
it close enough for him to stay involved.
11. Julius Jones v. NYG—He’s
averaging a whopping 178.5 yards/game in his career v. the
Giants. The sample size is low (two games), but…178.5! Worth
a start in my book, even if he loses precious goal-line touches
to top-notch poacher Marion Barber III.
12. Kevin Jones @ NYJ—The
other other Jones seems to have finally turned the corner of late,
racking up four scores and plenty of yards in his last four tilts.
This week, he draws a Jets team that flat-out can’t keep
opposing rock-toters out of the end zone. Expect him to find paydirt
once (and maybe twice) at the Meadowlands this Sunday.
13. Edgerrin James @ OAK—1,
0, 0, 1, 5, 1, -1, 0, 1, 12, 0, -1, 2, -2, -1, 0, 1, -2, 2, -1.
Some secret mathematical array that explains Arizona’s colossal
failure? Well, almost. Try Edge’s last 20 carries Monday
night. Take the five and 12-yard scampers out and it totals 1
yard. Eighteen carries, one yard. No offensive coordinator on
earth is gonna fix that in a week. Oakland might, though.
14. Willie Parker @ ATL—FWP
got off to a reasonably slow start this season but has since turned
on the jets, scoring five times in his last three games and topping
the century mark twice in that same span. Coach Cowher is threatening
to use Najeh Davenport more (and for good reason, if you ask me)
but we’ve heard him say that before. Keep an eye on it and
keep starting Parker. He’s virtually a lock for 75 yards
and a red zone look this Sunday in Hotlanta.
15. Willis McGahee v. NE—His
touches are way down the last two weeks and the Bills have lost
both games (to the Bears in Week 5 and to the Lions in Week 6).
Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they probably
need the ball in his hands more often. Coach Jauron has promised
20-30 touches in Week 7 but the Pats have stoned him before. That
means he barely cracks the top 15.
Grab A Helmet:
Laurence Maroney or Corey Dillon @
BUF—This tandem was pretty ineffective the last time
we saw them (in South Florida) but they murdered the Bills in
Week 1 and should do so again this Sunday at Orchard Park. Feel
free to start either back as they should both garner 15 carries
in Week 7.
Dominic Rhodes or Joseph Addai v. WAS—This
duo is little less productive but no less dangerous, especially
against a Redskins team that was embarrassed by Travis Henry in
Week 6 (173 yards). Rhodes seems to be the designated TD-maker
at the moment but Addai is more explosive and obviously the long-term
answer at the position. You’ll just hafta wait a year for
him to shed the running mate.
Kevan Barlow or Leon Washington v.
DET—Hey, maybe this tag-team thing isn’t so
bad after all, huh? You wouldn’t wanna start these guys
every week (maybe not even most weeks) but they’re not bad
in a pinch and the Lions aren’t exactly a top-notch opponent.
Good against the run? Well, not bad. Barlow’s the goal-line
guy but Washington’s capable of breaking a big one. Try
either at the #3 spot if you’re stuck.
Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew @
HOU—And one more for good measure. Taylor gets most
of the looks still and is always capable of scoring, as he did
in the Week 5 shellacking of New York. Jones-Drew, on the other
hand, is a big play waiting to happen and has already scored four
times in his brief career. In case you hadn’t noticed, that’s
tops among rookie running backs. Start either one against Houston’s
sad sack defense this Sunday.
Grab A Gatorade:
Wali Lundy or Samkon Gado v. JAX—Speaking
of those sad-sack Texans, here’s a pair you definitely do
NOT want to lean on. Houston is likely to place Ron Dayne on the
inactive list for Week 7, essentially because they’ve discovered
what every fantasy baller and casual football fan has known for
quite some time: Ron Dayne is never, ever the answer. Neither
is Lundy nor Gado, unfortunately. Keep looking.
Reuben Droughns v. DEN—Droughns
has been a major disappointment thus far, averaging barely over
50 yards in four starts to date. This week, he squares off against
the squad that jump-started his unlikely rise to meal ticket status,
the Broncos. Though it’s tempting to think he might rise
to the occasion, don’t. Be tempted, that is. Denver’s
D is as stingy as they come and the Browns will be lucky to notch
double digits in this Sunday snoozer.
LaMont Jordan v. ARZ—Your
bust of the year front-runner, folks. So long as the Raiders are
unable to move the ball through the air, he will struggle to move
it on the ground. Don’t kid yourself, either. The Raiders
will not be able to move the ball through the air against an Arizona
D that stiffed the Bears last Monday night. Let’s just hope,
for the Cardinals’ sake (and for the sake of Denny Green’s
sanity), that it doesn’t come down to a Neil Rackers FG
Ahman Green @ MIA—Mike
McCarthy has intimated that Green will hafta share the load with
Noah Herron and Vernand Morency the rest of the way. Not a bad
idea since the former Cornhusker doesn’t seem to be able
to handle the 20+ touches he used to receive on a steady basis.
Steer clear of Green Bay’s backfield situation. Too crowded
and too average to warrant much consideration at this point.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends