Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Joseph

Jospeh's Articles

The Shot Caller's Report
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups

Sorry for the delay, folks. Have a great Thanksgiving holiday and we'll chat again at our regular time next week.


Must Start: The Top 10

1. Peyton Manning vs. NE - It's an age-old fantasy conundrum: do you go with the best player or the best matchup? When the player in question is Peyton Manning, the choice should be clear. He faces a tough Pats secondary (6 TDs vs. 17 picks) but rarely strings together two sub-par games in a row. Forget about the elbow "twinge," too.

2. Daunte Culpepper @ STL - See what I mean? The Vikes actually play some defense and his numbers go down the toilet. He's still a top-tier QB but he's REALLY something special when that defense places him behind the 8-ball…like they surely will in St. Louis this Sunday.

3. Trent Green @ SD - He's probably not the third-best QB but matchups don't get much juicier than this one. The Chargers' woeful secondary has yielded an eye-popping 26 scores this year against only nine pilfers. Worse yet, they're giving up almost 250 passing yards per game. Outtasite O vs. unsightly D = big fantasy points.

4. Donovan McNabb @ CAR - I promised he'd return to the Top 10 and so he has. There hasn't been a hotter QB over the last four games (over 1000 yards, seven TDs, and no INTs) and now he's facing a Carolina secondary that made Quincy Carter look like a legitimate NFL quarterback last week. Oh, and home field advantage hangs in the balance. Translation? Get Don back in your lineup.

5. Chad Pennington vs. TEN - He was efficient against the Jags but not dynamite (236 yards, one TD, one INT). That doesn't mean he can't help you secure that coveted playoff spot. Only one team (Atlanta) gives up more yards through the air than Pennington's Week 13 opponent, Tennessee. That means we could be in for an aerial display come Monday night.

6. Matt Hasselbeck vs. CLE - Yeah, yeah, yeah. Did YOU expect him to throw for five TDs vs. Baltimore? Didn't think so. He caught fire about this time last year so maybe he's just a late bloomer. We'll be certain after Sunday as he faces a good Cleveland pass defense (177.6 yards/game and only eight TDs yielded).

7. Marc Bulger vs. MIN - He threw four picks against a less-than-opportunistic Arizona secondary last week. What can he do for an encore against the highly opportunistic Vikes (a league-leading 22 picks)? Lucky for you, the mistakes won't bury your fantasy team. We DO need him to start chucking a few more TDs, however.

8. Jon Kitna @ PIT - He's thrown for one less yard than Hasselbeck and the same number of touchdowns (19). In other words, you better believe he's a Top 10 signal caller. I've been starting him in place of Favre for three weeks now…and you all know how much I like Mr. Favre.

9. Tom Brady @ IND - I believe New England (not KC) is the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Why? This guy. He simply wills his team to win when they have no business doing so most of the time. 368 yards and two scores (his totals last week) won't hurt your fantasy bottom line, either.

10. Brad Johnson @ JAX - Bet you didn't know he shares the league lead in touchdown passes with The Ol' Gunslinger (20). Of course, you might expect that out of a guy that's second in total pass attempts (399). Consider this if you think he's an overrated fantasy player: Tampa has run for only THREE touchdowns this year…two of them by the injured Mike Alstott.

Grab A Helmet:

Kelly Holcomb @ SEA - I've been telling you all year the Seahawks secondary is at least a year away. Believe me now? That was Anthony Wright torching them for four touchdowns last week. I don't like Holcomb as a long-term option but he's not a bad start in Seattle this week.

Aaron Brooks @ WAS - There's no question who the Saints' offense revolves around but Brooks has put up some sneaky good numbers all told (2352 yards, 14 TDs, and eight INTs). He's obviously not your best option but he's certainly not your worst, either.

Jake Plummer @ OAK - The Raiders are playing better of late but the Broncos need this one bad. If Portis takes the heat off against a crummy Oakland run defense, expect Plummer to put up nice numbers.

Tony Banks vs. ATL - I can't believe I'm doing this but Carr is expected to sit and the Falcons still can't stop anyone from throwing the football. If Billy Volek can beat them, surely Tony Banks can. I never thought I'd mention Billy Volek and Tony Banks this year…let alone in the same sentence.

Grab A Clipboard:

Steve McNair @ NYJ - Am I out of mind? Just being sensible, is all. You'll more than likely need to set your lineup prior to tomorrow's games and the Titans are nowhere NEAR making a decision on McNair's status for Monday night's contest. Unless you can live with a goose egg from your QB, you'd better not risk it.

Brett Favre @ DET - Green Bay has rushed for over 233 yards PER GAME since Favre broke his thumb. Trust me. If other teams could mount that type of rushing attack, they wouldn't utilize their QBs much, either. Sit him down until somebody figures out how to slow Green and Co. down.

Joey Harrington vs. GB - Bad news first: he threw for four more interceptions last week and currently leads the league with 19. Now, the good news: he led his team in rushing last week with 34 yards. Wait. That's not good news at all. If you're still starting him and still in the playoff hunt (how could you be?), take my advice and sit him down.

Quincy Carter vs. MIA - Only the Patriots have allowed fewer passing touchdowns than Miami this year. Carter looked pretty good last week (d'oh!) but he's not the type of QB that will necessarily build on a big performance. Expect some decent yards but also some mistakes on Thanksgiving Day.

Drew Bledsoe/Kerry Collins vs. NYG/BUF - 10-6. 12-10. 17-14. The winning Lotto numbers? Try the final scores of Buffalo's last three games. There aren't many points to be had when the Bills take the field so why take a chance on big-time underachievers Bledsoe and Collins?

Running Backs

Must Start: The Top 15:

1. Priest Holmes @ SD - As bad as the Chargers are against the pass, they're almost equally inept vs. the run (142.4 per game). That doesn't bode well with KC and The Priest coming to town. Gotta love primetime backs facing bottom-of-the-barrel defenses when playoff berths are at stake.

2. Ahman Green @ DET - Of the roughly 1,000 yards his team has accumulated on the ground the past four games, he's accounted for only 63% of them. Amazingly, he still trails only Jamal Lewis in total rushing yardage and leads the league in total yardage. Don't let the Pack's committee approach scare you away. There's more than enough to go around.

3. Deuce McAllister @ WAS - Unlike Green, he IS the New Orleans offense and has racked up 469 yards and four touchdowns the past two weeks to prove it. Expect that trend to continue as long as the Saints stay in the playoff picture.

4. Jamal Lewis vs. SF - Like I said, he's leading the league in rushing yards (1,361). If Anthony Wright's huge day was just an anomaly (it was), Lewis will resume his role as the centerpiece of Baltimore's attack this week against the Niners.

5. Clinton Portis @ OAK - Though it was to no avail, Portis ripped off almost twelve yards per carry last week against the Bears. Oakland's defense is still eminently vulnerable vs. the run (146.9 yards/game) so there's no reason to think he won't have a big day this Sunday, as well. Now, if he could just score a touchdown or two.

6. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. KC - He's topped the century mark only four times this year but is already over 1,000 yards on the season. In other words, when he has a big day, he has a REALLY big day. KC's run defense is atrocious (4.9 per carry and 133.7 per game) so you can expect big numbers out of Tomlinson again.

7. Marshall Faulk vs. MIN - He's strung together back-to-back 100-yard games and now seems poised to become a difference-maker down the stretch. He jumps from good start to great start against a Minnesota defense that gives up over five yards per carry despite having faced Detroit's anemic rushing attack twice this season.

8. Stephen Davis vs. PHI - The yards were tough to come by in Big D but Davis still managed to grind out 59 of them and a touch. In fact, he's failed to score in only four games this year. Philly's historically stern defense has been more susceptible in '03, as evidenced by Deuce's 184-yard, two-TD effort last week.

9. Edgerrin James vs. NE - Five touchdowns the past two weeks tell me Edge is finding his groove. He faces a stingy New England front seven but will no doubt benefit from the attention paid to Peyton and the passing attack. Start him.

10. Ricky Williams @ DAL - Looked like the Ricky of old against Washington on Sunday night (107 yards and two scores) but now squares off against a scary good Dallas D. Unless Fiedler manages to solve the Cowboys secondary with a second-rate receiving corps (not likely), Williams could struggle to put up big numbers. Hope for good field position and a 1-yard plunge or two.

11. Shaun Alexander vs. CLE - Three of his four 100-yard games have come at home. Though he was an afterthought in last week's shootout, I expect him to take center stage in Seattle vs. Cleveland. Incidentally, the Browns are pretty average, though improving, vs. the run (4.5 per carry and 116.5 per game).

12. Fred Taylor vs. TB - So much for him being gimpy, huh? Taylor carried the ball a season-high 32 times against the Jets. Expect a similar workload against the Bucs as Coach Del Rio attempts to protect his rookie QB from the fierce Tampa pass rush.

13. Domanick Davis vs. ATL - I took some heat for not recommending him last week but I just didn't like the matchup against New England. I DEFINITELY like this week's matchup against Atlanta. The Falcons may be playing better of late but they still give up over 150 rushing yards per game.

14. Eddie George @ NYJ - I've bagged on him all year long and now I eat crow…sort of. He's scored four TDs in his last four games and even managed to top the century mark last week (115 yards). The real reasons I'm recommending him, though? McNair is gimpy and the Jets run defense is horrendous (154.5 yards/game). If you still have him, play him.

15. Anthony Thomas vs. ARI - Conditions should be miserable in Chicago come Sunday. Without a reliable passing attack to lean on anyway, the Bears could turn to Thomas early and often against a Cardinals team that has not performed well on the road.

Grab A Helmet:

Michael Bennett @ STL - He says he's ready to carry the load and Coach Tice seems to believe him. If you're still banking on Moe Williams for your playoff run…well, I warned you.

Tiki Barber vs. BUF - He's averaging almost 120 total yards per game but has only scored three touchdowns. If you can live with 12 points per week in your yardage league, keep him in your lineup.

Corey Dillon @ PIT - Call me skeptical but I still believe he's capable of losing carries (and lots of them) to Rudi Johnson. The Bengals are in the thick of a playoff race so Coach Lewis will undoubtedly ride the hot hand. Though his was pretty toasty last week (18 carries for 108 yards), don't forget that he was facing San Diego.

T.J. Duckett @ HOU - Two of the worst run defenses (OK, defenses…period) square off in Houston this week. With Warrick Dunn on the shelf, you can expect to see plenty of Mr. Duckett. Oddly enough, he's been pretty valuable recently (five touchdowns in four games) even with Dunn getting the lion's share of carries and yards.

Jerome Bettis vs. CIN - He carried the ball a season-high 24 times last week vs. Cleveland. Of course, the Steelers led almost the entire game. If they manage to get on top of the Bengals early, he should see plenty more carries in Week 13. If they don't…well, forget I recommended him.

Brian Westbrook @ CAR - The Panthers are tough to run the football against and Westbrook hasn't cracked the century mark this year. So why is he a good start? In a word: touchdowns. He's only accumulated 100 touches this year but has scored eight times. He's also a threat in the passing game so don't be afraid to play him.

Grab A Gatorade:

Any Detroit RB vs. GB - A few weeks back, it was Reggie Swinton. Last week, it was Joey Harrington. When will a running back actually lead the Lions in rushing yardage? Better question: when will it matter?

Troy Hambrick vs. MIA - He's averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry his last three games…which means his time as the Dallas feature back will be short-lived. Don't expect a breakout performance against the tough Dolphins defense (88.7 per contest).

Curtis Martin vs. TEN - He's bound and determined to make a liar out of me but I still maintain he has very little to offer. This week's opponent, Tennessee, is #1 in the league vs. the run. If he puts up decent numbers, I'll change my mind.

Travis Henry @ NYG - He shouldn't be playing right now and as the Bills fade from playoff contention, he just may not. Risky city, folks. Grab Willis McGahee if you insist on playing a Buffalo back.

Michael Pittman @ JAX - For all their difficulties this year, Jacksonville has been pretty adept at stopping the run (86.2 per game). On top of that, the Bucs seem to have reverted to the backfield-by-committee approach. Stay away unless he reclaims the job.

Any New England RB @ IND - Both Smith and Faulk are capable backs. The problem is figuring out which one Belichick will ride in a given week. If you insist on starting one of them, bear in mind that they've COMBINED for only two touchdowns this season.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Must Start: The Top 15:

1. Torry Holt vs. MIN - For the first time all year, Randy relinquishes the top spot. Or should I say Holt seizes it? He's gone over 100 yards a startling seven times and is well over 1,200 yards on the season. Even with Bruce competing for catches, he's received more looks than any other receiver in the league (approximately 12 per game).

2. Randy Moss @ STL - It's not like he hasn't been prone to stretches of inactivity in the past. Unfortunately, his dormant period is coming at a really bad time this season (as YOU head toward the playoffs). I expect him to snap out of it this Sunday if the Vikes and Rams light up the scoreboard…which they most certainly will.

3. Chad Johnson @ PIT - If there was ever any doubt who makes the Bengals offense go, there should be no longer. Kitna looked for The Oracle an amazing 18 times last Sunday and found him quite regularly…usually for a score (10 catches, 107 yards, three touchdowns). Expect more of the same in Pittsburgh this weekend.

4. Santana Moss vs. TEN - As promised, he hauled in (yet) another touchdown pass last week. Unfortunately, he didn't do much more than that (two grabs for a paltry 13 yards). He should match those numbers in the first five minutes against a Titans secondary that is surprisingly bad.

5. Marvin Harrison vs. NE - After some huge games earlier this year, he's tailed off of late. The gimpy hamstring hasn't helped matters but he's supposedly near 100% for this weekend's titanic tilt with the Pats. Get him back in there.

6. Terrell Owens @ BAL - He's scored in his last three games so now we get to see if it really matters who's throwing him the ball. Garcia reclaims his starting job and if he learned anything during his time off, it's that the Niners passing attack positively hinges on getting T.O. the touches.

7. Anquan Boldin @ CHI - He's defying all odds and actually getting stronger as the season goes on (123 yards and two TDs last week). The only thing likely to slow him down this week is Chicago's notoriously dicey weather. Don't let that keep you from starting him, though.

8. Keenan McCardell @ JAX - McCardell returns to Jacksonville and for once, he won't be playing second fiddle to Jimmy Smith…or Keyshawn Johnson, for that matter. Only six receivers have put up better fantasy numbers this year and you just read about them. Still don't think he's an elite receiver? Tsk, tsk.

9. Hines Ward vs. CIN - He's likely hurt you the last couple weeks but don't give up on him just yet. The Steelers aren't out of the playoff hunt and will need him badly if they hope to beat Cincy this weekend. Ward has made a living out of coming up big in huge games.

10. Darrell Jackson vs. CLE - Guess he solved the drop issue, eh? Though not Seattle's most talented receiver, he's clearly Hasselbeck's favorite target. If the 'Hawks pull off another late-season surge, his stock will continue to rise. Be leery of a good Cleveland pass defense, however.

11. Derrick Mason @ NYJ - With McNair still iffy, Mason's stock drops precipitously. Not to mention, the Titans will likely lean heavily on Eddie George this Monday since the Jets are woeful against the run. Sit him down if you can afford to.

12. Isaac Bruce vs. MIN - In case you haven't noticed, he's the only #2 receiver good enough to make this list on a consistent basis. It helps that the Rams throw the ball all over the place but it also helps that Bruce is supremely talented. He found paydirt last week (finally) and I expect him to do so again this Sunday.

13. Steve Smith vs. PHI - The Panthers rely heavily on Stephen Davis but when they do take to the air, Smith is usually the target. Though I'm not a big fan, I can't in good conscience recommend sitting him.

14. Tony Gonzalez @ SD - Hate to keep picking on the defenseless Chargers D, but….

15. Andre Johnson vs. ATL - The Texans may very well stick to Dom Davis and the ground game this weekend but if they DO decide to air it out, Johnson should find some room to roam. Most receivers do against the porous Atlanta secondary (265 yards/game).

Grab A Helmet:

Laveranues Coles vs. NO - The unsettling QB situation in Washington makes him less of a sure thing than usual. That said, the younger Hasselbeck did manage to find him for a score last Sunday night. Will he do so again? Your guess is as good as mine.

Quincy Morgan/Andre Davis @ SEA - I bombed on these two last week but I'm gonna give it one more shot. After all, if Marcus Robinson (!!!) can rack up four TDs against the dubious 'Hawks secondary, shouldn't they be able to do something, as well? If only it were that simple.

Koren Robinson vs. CLE - Hell, let's just cover our bases and recommend every receiver playing in this game, shall we? You all know how I feel about KoRo this year but there's no denying the talent. If Seattle's offense is about to blast off, I suspect he'll be a big reason why. Man, I hope I don't regret this.

Joe Horn @ WAS - He appears to be healthy again and with virtually no help in the passing game (what ever happened to Donte Stallworth?), he should see plenty of opportunities in D.C.

Rod Smith @ OAK - He's flown under the radar for the most part but could emerge as a sleeper playoff stud in the coming weeks. Since Plummer's return (two games ago), he's caught 19 balls for 170 yards and a score. This week, he faces a depleted Oakland secondary.

Grab Some Wood:

Eric Moulds @ NYG - Damaged goods. We know this because he hasn't caught a touchdown pass since Week TWO! It wouldn't surprise me at all to hear he's decided to pull the plug on a wasted season.

Amani Toomer vs. BUF - Collins has thrown it to him 63 times the last five games. He's only connected on 23 of those pass attempts (for one touchdown). Connecting with your best receiver less than 40% of the time is NOT a recipe for success. Steer clear if you have better options.

Plaxico Burress vs. CIN - After showing signs of life against the Niners, Burress pulled a disappearing act (again) vs. the Browns last week. At this point in the season, you can't afford to hope he'll bounce back, even if he stands a fairly decent chance of doing so from week to week.

Chris Chambers @ DAL - He's scored six touchdowns this year (which is nice) but he never seems to get many touches. In fact, he's only caught more than four balls in a game twice. That happens when Ricky Williams touches it almost 2/3 of the time. Sit him down against an awesome Cowboys pass defense (168.1 yards/game).

Good luck, folks!