Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning @ NE—His
troubles against the Pats have been well documented (3-10 career
record, including playoffs) but they don’t extend into the
fantasy realm. In eleven career regular season starts, Peyton’s
averaging over 260 yards and two scores per tilt, or more than
enough points to put you over the top in Week 9. Give him the
start, as always, and hope last year’s trend-turner against
the archrival Pats was just the beginning.
2. Eli Manning v. HOU—Not
sure I’ve ever had the Manning heirs one-two but you had
to think the day was coming sooner or later, right? While Big
Bro’s back to being his old devastating self, Kid Bro is
making quite the name for himself in the world’s biggest
fishbowl, leading the G-Men back from the brink to an NFC East-leading
5-2 mark in four short weeks. This Sunday, he draws a Houston
team that doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going.
My guess? Going. Start him.
3. Marc Bulger v. KC—I
wasn’t crazy about Bulger when the season began, figuring
the Rams would shelve that Greatest Show crapola and get back
to being a real football team (read: one that runs the football
more than 15 times a game). As it turns out, they’ve managed
to preserve the best elements of Coach Crazy’s scheme while
still incorporating more Steven Jackson. Hard to argue with the
results on Mr. Bulger’s end: five straight 100+ ratings,
a 12-to-1 TD-to-pick ratio, and four 300-yard games in his last
five. That’s called a ringing endorsement, people.
4. Michael Vick @ DET—Two
games does not a season make but if he’s truly turned the
corner, the rest of the NFL better duck. Since popping off to
Chris Carter about his substandard weapons, the fleet-footed one
has thrown for 523 yards and seven touchdowns. Oh, and run for
another 95. He’s probably right about those weapons (four
of those TD tosses have gone to Alge Crumpler) but it may not
matter at this point, especially against the Matt Millen Experience
5. Carson Palmer @ BAL—Carson
and the Bengals were Mike’s latest victims in a super-enjoyable
shootout at the Jungle this past weekend. Trying to keep pace
with Hotlanta, the former Trojan threw for 266 yards and a couple
scores. Not enough for them but probably enough for you. If you’re
dubious of his matchup this week, you should probably consider
his digits against the Ravens first: 312 yards and two scores
per game in four career starts.
6. Rex Grossman v. MIA—I
don’t like much about this Bears team (it’s a hatred
thing) but even a dyed-in-the-wool Packer backer can appreciate
the way they rip another team’s heart out. I mean, there’s
kicking butt and then there’s completely sapping an opponent’s
will to continue…before the first 15 minutes are even in
the books. That’s what Chicago does nowadays. Grossman’s
just the piler-on once that defense does the dirty work. Keep
7. Brett Favre @ BUF—OK,
enough of that nonsense. How ‘bout them Packers? All but
written off by friends and foes alike, the Green and Gold is now
one road W away from evening up their record. The reason? You’re
looking at him. And to think folks thought ol’ #4 had far
outstayed his welcome. He’s on his way to 20+ TDs for the
thirteenth consecutive year and is doing it with Papale-esque
talent at wideout. Invincible, indeed.
8. Jon Kitna v. ATL—Just
so you don’t think I’ve completely dispensed with
journalistic objectivity…. I’ve taken a lot of heat
from Kitna fans (yes, they exist) for not giving him top 10 mention
but I guess he’s earned it. Yes, they’re garbage time
numbers but fantasy GMs don’t really care at the end of
the day. Give him the start against the Falcons and hope he continues
to impress when the outcome’s been decided. That should
be about halftime of this Sunday’s game, for the record.
9. Tom Brady v. IND—Hey,
remember me? The good folks of Minne-soh-ta may not be able to
forget him after a 372-yard, four-TD, primetime punch to the mouth
last Monday night. It’s tempting to jump all over the guy
after such a performance but if there’s a coach who frustrates
fantasy expectations more than Mike Shanahan, it’s Bill
Belichick. What do you really expect, after all, from a head man
rockin’ the convict-caliber sweatshirt and a perma-smirk?
10. Damon Huard @ STL—I
traded for him three weeks back, hoping he’d still be the
man when it came time to cover my bye week. Mission completion!
Trent Green gets closer to returning every week but I have a hunch
the job is all Huard’s until he struggles, something he’s
only done once (at Pittsburgh) since taking over. Give him the
start in St. Louis as the game could feature lots of points.
Grab A Helmet:
Ben Roethlisberger v. DEN—Big
Ben actually stated this week he would support Coach Cowher if
the latter opted for Charlie Batch in the short term. And if you
believe that…. One could hardly blame The Jaw for making
a switch but we know and he knows that Roethlisberger gives them
the best chance in any given week. Let’s see how he does
back home before proclaiming the sky is falling, shall we? Don’t
forget his two best efforts preceded the debacle in Oaktown.
Tony Romo @ WAS—The Romo
era got off to an auspicious start last Sunday night in Charlotte
as the former Panther (no, not those Panthers) tossed it around
for 270 yards and a score in the ‘Boys season-saving W.
The comparisons to Favruh are fantastically premature but he’s
got some moxie. Gonna be interesting to see how things progress,
especially if you-know-who’s mood ever trends downward (a
lead pipe lock).
Philip Rivers v. CLE—The
Rivers era is only seven games old but you wouldn’t know
it by watching the kid play. He’s poised, accurate, and
not mistake-prone, something green signal-callers usually are.
Put another way, he’s the perfect fit for a San Diego offense
that revolves around someone else. Get him in there against Cleveland
Drew Brees @ TB—Of course,
Brees is proving he was more than just an LT coattail rider. He’s
already topped the 300-yard mark three times thus far, or one
more time than he did all of last year in San Diego. Only problem
is, he’s turning it over at an alarming rate. If he can
cut down on the giveaways and keep finding Marques Colston, there’s
no reason he can’t continue tearing things up as the season
David Garrard v. TEN—Why
anyone would draft Big Swifty and NOT handcuff him to David Garrard
is beyond me. Nevertheless, he’s almost always out there
on the waiver wire when Leftwich goes down, at least in the leagues
I participate in. Does that make him a great start? No. Does it
make him worth considering? Yes, especially when the matchup is
good. It is this weekend and I suspect he’ll improve on
last week’s numbers (just 87 passing yards). Give him a
Grab A Clipboard:
David Carr @ NYG—If Gary
Kubiak wants to build up the confidence of his confidence-challenged
triggerman, he sure has a funny way of showing it. Despite decent
numbers (15 of 21 for 113 yards), Carr got the hook last Sunday
and, not surprisingly, wasn’t too thrilled about it. He
gets the nod again this Sunday but I’d steer clear until
he proves he’s truly Coach Kube’s guy. Don’t
forget: coaches who aren’t used to losing are more apt to
make knee-jerk changes.
Alex Smith v. MIN—If you
didn’t see that one coming, you’ve been sleeping under
a rock this season. The Bears are not to be trifled with and Smith
found out the hard way, ending up on the business end of a 41-10
pounding. Minnesota is no Chicago but they’re better than
they were Monday night and will be jazzed to prove as much as
they return to the field this weekend. I think Smith struggles
as a result.
Jake Plummer @ PIT—There’s
been a Snake sighting! Well, sort of (174 passing yards, one TD
toss, and one TD run). Hope you got a good look ‘cuz he’s
likely to be at large again this Sunday when the Broncos head
to Steeltown. The Steelers are literally one more loss away from
being out of the playoff picture and that means only one thing:
you don’t wanna be the QB standing in their way. Sit him
Andrew Walter @ SEA—Pittsburgh’s
in that predicament because they inexcusably dropped one to Walter
and the dreadful Raiders last Sunday. Don’t blame the defense.
They yielded just six Oakland points and (get this) 98 total yards.
Double-digit yardage? When’s the last time THAT happened?
No, seriously. I need to know. First responder gets to pick a
“Grab a Clipboard” guy for next week. Help me out,
Charlie Frye @ SD—Frye
posted one of his better outings last Sunday, leading the Browns
past the Jets with 141 yards and a score. Too bad those were his
numbers for four quarters instead of two, huh? There simply isn’t
much to like about this Cleveland offense right now and a trip
to sunny San Diego isn’t likely to change that. Wait for
a better matchup or, better yet, next season.