Must Start: The Top 15
1. Torry Holt v. KC—Somebody
finally put the clamps on Mr. Holt in Week 8, holding the explosive
wideout to just 48 yards on five catches. That’s the first
time he’s scored fewer than eight fantasy points (standard
performance format) all season. I’d put a sizeable amount
of money down that it doesn’t happen again and definitely
not this week. The Chefs are fresh off a thrashing at the hands
of Seneca Wallace (!!!) and do not appear to have the secondary
to keep him in check this weekend.
2. Terrell Owens @ WAS—Much
to the delight of T.O. (and his owners), Tony Romo looked 81’s
way early and often in the Sunday nighter at Charlotte, ultimately
resulting in nine grabs for 107 yards, his first triple-digit
outing of the campaign. In fact, T.O. was so excited he…fell
asleep in several team meetings this week. A coach’s dream,
I tell you.
3. Andre Johnson @ NYG—The
Texans are unsettled at quarterback and pretty much everywhere
else but the Prudential rock in ’06, at least, has been
this guy. He’s tallied better than 75 yards in six of his
seven contests thus far and has scored in four of them, including
his last two. Houston will be playing from behind again so you
can expect David Carr (or whoever ends up playing QB) to look
his way all day long.
4. Marvin Harrison @ NE—The
Colts played decoy with Marvin last weekend, allowing Reggie Wayne
to go bonkers on the other side of the field. If you think Coach
B is gonna let that happen again, you don’t know Coach B.
I’m no soothsayer (quite the opposite, some might say) but
I think Harrison’s the main man again this Sunday night.
Think something along the lines of 80-100 yards and a touch as
the Colts best the Pats (yes, mark it down).
5. Chad Johnson @ BAL—I
can tell you one guy’s picture you’re NOT going to
see next to the definition of “chastened” in the dictionary.
The mohawk-less Johnson was at it again early this week, calling
out (of all people) Ray Lewis. If I said I was gonna hit Lewis
in the mouth, I’d probably end up…OK, probably shouldn’t
go there. Needless to say, Lewis laughed it off. We’ll see
if he’s still laughing this Sunday when 85, who’s
averaging almost 100 per in his last eight against the Ravens,
6. Marques Colston @ TB—If
you penciled in Reggie Bush or Laurence Maroney for rook of the
year, time to get out the eraser. It’s this guy…by
a landslide. He’s averaging over 82 yards and almost a TD
per tilt and went absolutely bananas on the Ravens last weekend,
racking up 163 big ones and two six-pointers in the 35-22 defeat.
To think I bid $0 for him after Week 1…and secured him.
An auto-start until further notice.
7. Reggie Wayne @ NE—Speaking
of going bananas, yikes! I actually hold the distinction of having
faced him, Larry Johnson, and Tom Brady in three separate leagues
last week, the three top scorers at their respective positions.
Guess a little know-how and a fancy column can’t by a guy
luck, huh? Of course, I could have drafted these guys, as well.
Instead, I was busy stocking up on…
8. Donald Driver @ BUF—…guys
like Driver. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
He’s Favre’s only legit target ‘til Greg Jennings
returns and that means he’ll get most of the attention when
#4 drops back to wing it. That should be good enough for 70-75
yards and a score at Orchard Park this Sunday. Good enough for
9. Darrell Jackson v. OAK—Don’t
look now but DJax, minus Shaun Alexander/Matt Hasselbeck and plus
Deion Branch, is on pace for a career year up in the Emerald City.
Through seven games, he’s averaging better than 82 yards
and has already tallied six TDs, just three shy of his best mark
(nine in 2003). The Raiders pass defense looks good on paper and
occasionally even on the field, but I think they get lit up on
the primetime stage this Monday night. Jackson will likely be
the ignition source.
10. Roy Williams v. ATL—Williams
followed up a brilliant Week 6 performance (ten catches for 161
yards and a score) with a two-catch, 29-yard effort against the
Jets in Week 7. That’s called maddening inconsistency (his
trademark), suffered only because he turned one of those two snags
into six points. If he does it again this Sunday (the six points
part), we probably won’t care how many balls he does or
doesn’t catch. Give him the nod.
11. Alge Crumpler @ DET—People
often ask me why I never mention TEs in this section, even though
(ostensibly) it’s supposed to be the top 15 receivers, regardless
of position. Frankly, it’s because nobody deserves the honor.
Only one TE ranks in the top 25 in yards/game and it’s not
Antonio Gates (try Gonzo). What distinguishes Crumpler this week
is Mike Vick’s affinity for him. He’s scored four
times in the last two games and is still the fleet-footed one’s
favorite-est target in the red zone. Start him, as always, even
as a flex guy.
12. Lee Evans v. GB—Where
you at, Evans fans? Hello? Anybody home? Come on back now. I was
only kidding. He’s not THAT bad. I mean, the Pack can’t
possibly hold him to just one catch and ten yards like the Pats
did two weeks ago, can they? Expect something more like 50-75
yards and, perhaps, a score this Sunday.
13. T.J. Houshmandzadeh @ BAL—He’s
cooled off slightly after a blistering start but is still averaging
84.4 yards a game and has scored four times, despite missing two
contests in the early going. If you’re scoring at home,
that’s 20 yards per and two scores more than CJ, the former
Beav (take THAT, SC!) who commands most of the attention in the
Queen City. Not saying he’s better. Just pointing out the
obvious. We’ll see if it stays that way as the season progresses.
14. Bernard Berrian v. MIA—Berrian’s
been doing a little cooling off himself of late, tallying just
72 yards in his last two outings. Then again, when you’re
up 41-zilch at halftime, there isn’t much need to go deep
with your homerun guy. I’m not sure there will be this weekend,
either, but if the Fish hang tough, you can bet the Bears will
eventually try and spring him for a long ball. Cross your fingers
if you own him.
15. Hines Ward v. DEN—It
was a forgettable day for the Curtain in general but not so much
for those interested in the individual numbers (us). Though he
didn’t score, Ward did haul in eight balls for 81 yards.
Not a bad day’s work when you consider Big Ben spent most
of his time throwing it to a receptive Oakland secondary. Shake
it off and give Hines the nod this weekend. I promise they won’t
be as bad playing at home.
Grab a Helmet
Eddie Kennison @ STL—Kennison
returns to face the franchise he once quit on in a pivotal game
for both the Missouri franchises. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend
a Chefs receiver but he’s been pretty decent of late and
is still the only legit weapon other than Tony Gonzalez in the
passing game. Perhaps KC could snap up Matt Millen when the ax
falls this offseason? Guy knows how to draft receivers, right?
Doug Gabriel v. IND—I’ve
made it clear (I think) the Pats will return to grind-it-out football
this Sunday night but I should probably add a caveat: only if
they’re able to (read: they don’t fall way behind).
If they’re not, Gabriel could very well be the beneficiary
of several good looks. He’s very talented and seems to have
gained the confidence of Tom Brady in a short period of time.
Plus, it doesn’t appear Reche Caldwell will be able to go.
Slot him in as your #3.
Chris Henry @ BAL—It isn’t
often a #3 receiver merits a looksy (remember Brandon Stokley?)
but this guy is no ordinary #3 receiver. He’s tall, fast,
reliable (on the football field, that is), and playing in one
of the most talented offenses in the league. Provided he keeps
his gats in the safe and steers clear of the jailbait, he could
turn out to be quite a find the rest of the way. Consider him
a great #3 if you can stomach the risk.
Jeremy Shockey v. HOU—It
doesn’t appear Plax Burress will be able to go and that
means the G-Men are down to Amani Toomer and Shockey as legit
weapons in the passing game. I wouldn’t normally recommend
an unreliable tight end (aren’t they all?) but I think this
special set of circumstances makes him a good play this Sunday.
Expect 50 yards and a score against the Texans.
Joey Galloway v. NO—The
usually reliable Galloway dropped several easy ones last Sunday,
essentially burying a Bucs squad that abandoned the run after
two series. This week, he gets a chance to bounce back against
a team he lit up in Week 5 (110 yards and a score). I think he
does so as the Bucs lick the suddenly susceptible Saints at Raymond
Grab Some Wood
Troy Williamson @ SF—21
career games, two career touchdowns…neither of which he
scored this season. Didn’t the Vikes draft him to replace
former speed merchant/touchdown machine, Randy Moss? I’d
say the jury’s still out…WAY out.
Randy Moss @ SEA—Speaking
of Mr. Moss, is he even a top 30 WR these days? Guess that move
to the left coast didn’t do the guy any favors, did it?
Don’t expect a return to glory anytime soon, unless Oakland
decides to deal him away for more help along the front lines (not
Drew Bennett @ JAX—He’s
caught six balls for 93 yards since Vince Young took over, which
would sound a lot more impressive if the rookie had taken over
just last week. Unfortunately, it’s been over a month now,
meaning Bennett’s done precisely squat in his last three
starts. If you’re expecting that to all of a sudden change
when Tennessee heads to JVille this Sunday, you’re sorely
mistaken. Find someone else.
Rod Smith @ PIT—The bell
finally seems to be tolling for the venerable Smith. Despite no
apparent diminishment of speed or ability, he’s become an
afterthought in the Denver offense, an offense that really can’t
afford to forget about anyone as it scrapes together all the points
it can muster. Sit him down until Jake remembers him or, better
yet, Jake gets replaced.