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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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?
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
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
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!