Must Start: The Top 15
1. Steve Smith v. DAL—If
there’s really any doubt who the best receiver in the NFL
is, they should be laid to rest this Sunday night when alpha dogs
Smith and TO square off in a juicy primetime matchup. My money’s
on Smith, the guy who single-handedly makes Carolina a Super Bowl
contender. All he’s done since returning from the early
season hamstring injury is average 115.2 yards/game. If you’re
scoring at home, that’s almost 20 yards more per game than
he averaged last year when he set the league ablaze.
2. Terrell Owens @ CAR—To
be fair, Owens has some experience averaging over 100 yards per
contest, as well. In fact, he did it just last year (and also
in 2000). Of course, nobody remembers that because…well,
you know why. He’s a quarterback killer and a clubhouse
cancer, yes, but the dude can play. That’s all I’m
willing to give him, now or ever.
3. Anquan Boldin @ GB—The
Packer corners are press coverage specialists but can definitely
be had by a guy Boldin’s size. After all, how you gonna
press a tight end masquerading as a split receiver? Expect tons
of looks and plenty of connections with young Leinart as the Cardinals
attempt to outgun Favruh’s Green and Gold this Sunday.
4. Chad Johnson v. ATL—Seriously,
now. Was there even a CHANCE he was gonna shut his cakehole the
same week he appeared on the cover of SI? Never one to disappoint
the media, “Ocho Cinco” was at it again on Wednesday,
putting his rep (not to mention his gold mohawk) on the line by
guaranteeing two scores against future Fatburger employee-of-the-month,
DeAngelo Hall. Man, is this a comedy sketch or a football game
we’re talking about? I’ll tell you who won’t
be laughing: Johnson’s owners if he doesn’t put his
money where his mouth is this Sunday. Must see TV, people. Be
there or be square.
5. T.J. Houshmandzadeh v. ATL—Keep
an eye out for Johnson’s straight man while you’re
at it, the guy who’s actually been supporting the Cincy
passing game while 85’s been busy alternately moping and
yapping. TJ hasn’t dipped below 60 passing yards yet and
has scored in three of his four games thus far. Hey, those are
the kinda numbers Johnson was supposed to be putting up, weren’t
6. Andre Johnson @ TEN—Wrong
Johnson but we’ll take it. Andre 2006 has posted four 100-yard
games already this season, most in the league, and is finally
starting to look like the dynamite pass-shagger the Texans expected
him to be when they plucked him with the third overall pick back
in 2003. Tennessee’s defense is suspect so you know what
7. Marvin Harrison @ DEN—This
guy has more 100-yard games to his credit than you can shake a
stick at and has already turned the trick twice in ’06,
though not since Week 2. No matter. He’s finally rediscovered
the promised land (three scores in his last two) and should find
it again this weekend in Denver. Top 10 ‘til he hangs ‘em
8. Torry Holt @ SD—Him,
too. Nobody’s been hotter of late (not even Steve Smith)
and if you don’t believe me, put THIS in your pipe and smoke
it: he’s scored seven times in his last five games and hasn’t
been kept out of the end zone since Week 1. Of course, the 154-yard,
three-TD effort in Week 6 doesn’t hurt, but…. Automatic
as they come.
9. Donald Driver v. ARZ—The
loss of Greg Jennings means Driver is now the only healthy receiver
on Green Bay’s roster who’s caught more than two career
passes. Two! If you think he might be in line for a few looks
from #4 this weekend, you’re absolutely correct. The lack
of a legit second receiver shouldn’t hurt him against the
10. Bernard Berrian v. SF—Like
most of the Chicago offenders, Berrian did precious little in
the Week 6 win over Arizona. In fact, you could argue the Bears
were more likely to score when their DEFENSE took the field. Nevertheless,
he was a whisker’s width away from scoring on the game’s
very first play and should get some prime opportunities to do
so again v. the Niners this Sunday. Get him back in there.
11. Plaxico Burress v. TB—Burress
waited only five plays to make his mark in the most recent Monday
nighter, hauling in a Kid Bro dart for the game’s first
score in New York’s eventual victory. He didn’t do
much else (only one more catch) but didn’t really need to.
Keep starting him and hope the Bucs can turn this one into a shootout.
12. Hines Ward @ OAK—Did
somebody say shootout? Pittsburgh and Atlanta staged the unlikeliest
of them last Sunday at the Georgia Dome and Ward capitalized,
posting career bests in both yardage (171) and touchdowns (three).
Alas, amazingly, it wasn’t enough. He won’t do that
again in Oakland (and won’t need to) but should be in line
for 50-75 more yards another six-pointer at the Black Hole.
13. Laveranues Coles @ CLE—He’s
listed as questionable (again) but played through the injury last
week and should do so again this Sunday. Though I think the Jets
will have more success on the ground, there’s no reason
to think he won’t be targeted several times against a suspect
Browns secondary and that’s a good enough reason to give
him the nod again in Week 8.
14. Reggie Wayne @ DEN—Like
Marvin, Wayne seems to be heating up as the season progresses,
tallying two TD grabs in his last two ballgames. Points may be
somewhat tougher to come by at Invesco this weekend but we’re
still talking about the Colts here. Start him and hope Denver’s
too worried about Harrison to prevent Wayne from going off.
15. Javon Walker v. IND—What
Denver SHOULD be worried about is that offense. Yuk with a capital
“Y.” Walker’s one of the few bright spots but
needs a more consistent signal-caller to truly maximize his ability.
I don’t think that’ll happen this season. Next year?
You better believe it. Hope you’re stashing Jay Cutler away
for that rainy day.
Grab a Helmet
Darrell Jackson or Deion Branch @ KC—The
switch to Seneca Wallace has Jackson and Branch owners worried…and
they probably have a right to be. Nevertheless, the former Cyclone
has been in the system for several years and has posted some solid
numbers in the preseason. Translation? The train isn’t careening
off the tracks just yet. Will they put up the same numbers they
were putting up with Hasselbeck at the helm? Let’s not get
Reggie Brown or Donte Stallworth v.
JAX—Stallworth has finally been given the green light
to play which means those who have benefited from his absence
(Brown’s owners) should probably ease up on the expectations
a bit. Still, we know Donovan’s gonna throw for somewhere
in the neighborhood of 250 yards. Always has, always will…and
it never seems to matter who’s catching them. These two
are the best candidates and should both produce in Week 8.
Reggie Williams @ PHI—Ouch.
There’s no question Byron Leftwich wasn’t himself
last weekend but there didn’t appear to be anything wrong
with Williams. Well, aside from the fact he caught ZERO passes
in the Week 8 shellacking at Houston. I’m go out on a limb
and say he can’t possibly be that unproductive this Sunday.
Plus, games involving the Eagles tend to get wild. Expect something
like 50-75 yards and, perhaps, a score.
Keyshawn Johnson v. DAL—In
a story apropos of absolutely nothing, Keyshawn is apparently
fed up with his cousin, Chad Johnson’s, trash-talking. Mr.
Kettle? Meet Mr. Pot.
Bryant Johnson @ GB—This
Johnson (not related) doesn’t say much of anything but is
finally letting his game do some jawing. Since Larry Fitzgerald
went down, he’s racked up two 80-yard days and even scored
once against the seemingly score-proof Bears D in Week 6. If Keyshawn
is The Godfather (excellent), and Chad Johnson’s Part II
(more excellent), Bryant is Part III (not excellent but still
Grab Some Wood
Keenan McCardell v. STL—More
like Caddyshack 2 these days. He isn’t option #1 (Antonio
Gates and/or LT) and isn’t even always #2 (Eric Parker).
Steer clear of the Chargers wideouts for now. They’re either
too old, like McCardell, or too unproven (everyone else).
Travis Taylor v. NE—Iron
Any Atlanta receiver not named Alge
Crumpler @ CIN—Leonard Part 6.