Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups
I apologize for the abbreviated version, folks, but my baby daughter
has decided to join the family a week and a half early. In fact,
by the time you read this, she'll likely be helping her daddy prep
for the upcoming championship weekend. Trust me. He needs all the
help he can get. If you have specific lineup questions, please e-mail
them to me. I should be back in front of a computer no later than
Friday afternoon. Thanks for your understanding and, as always,
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning vs. DEN - If
you faced him last week, you're probably not playing this week.
If you face him this week, good luck. Denver's pass defense is pretty
good but also ultra-conservative (a league-worst eight interceptions
this year). Peyton should shine again.
2. Trent Green @ MIN - How does
13 TD passes against two interceptions sound? Those are Green's
numbers over the last six games. Oh, almost forgot. He threw for
over 300 yards in four of those contests, as well. He's a phenomenal
start indoors against a suspect Vikings D.
3. Daunte Culpepper vs. KC - That
suspect D should yield plenty of KC points and that means Minnesota
will need Culpepper to go nuts again. Fortunately for his owners,
he usually does when the Vikes are playing from behind. Expect him
to rebound from a sub-par game in the Windy City, albeit in a losing
4. Matt Hasselbeck vs. ARI - He
seems like the perfect championship start. He's putting up big numbers
this year and Arizona hasn't stopped anyone of late, not even (gasp!)
Kordell Stewart. One caveat, though: he threw only 19 passes in
the first meeting between these teams. If Shaun Alexander is enough
to bludgeon the hapless Cards, Hasselbeck's numbers could be slightly
5. Marc Bulger vs. CIN - That
Marvin Lewis D is starting to give up some serious points (29.0
per in the last four games). Luckily, Kitna & Co. are picking
up the slack. Bulger directs the second-highest scoring home offense
in the league (34.6 points/game) so I gotta think he'll have some
success this weekend.
6. Brett Favre @ OAK - Favre doesn't
get out to the Left Coast very often (I should know) but when he
does, he usually lights it up. Is it the weather? Hard to tell.
The matchup in Oakland is definitely a good one for him, regardless.
The Raiders aren't rolling over and dying but they still don't play
very good defense (29th in the league).
7. Donovan McNabb vs. SF - Remember
that "lateral" he threw to Correll Buckhalter for a score
on Monday night? Cost me a playoff game. Sigh. No matter. It's a
dynasty league and I'm feeling pretty good about McNabb for next
year. If you're still alive, forget about next year and live in
8. Jeff Garcia @ PHI - He has
nine touchdowns (six passing, three running) in his last TWO games.
That's pretty amazing, even if you consider six of them came against
an atrocious Arizona team. The Eagles aren't the Cardinals but they're
not exactly Dallas or Tampa, either (19th in the league in total
defense). Expect Garcia to put up some decent numbers at the Linc.
9. Jon Kitna @ STL - Like Green,
Kitna also has 13 TD passes over the last six games (against three
INTs). The two differ only when it comes to yardage. Of course,
that's irrelevant if you're in a TD-only league. Even if you're
not, it's hard to overlook a guy that doesn't turn the ball over
much and has two viable weapons in the passing game (Chad Johnson
and Peter Warrick).
10. Michael Vick @ TB - How do
you advance to your championship game when Vick puts up NEGATIVE
numbers? Face someone who's dumb enough to start Tim Hasselbeck.
True story, folks. I'm putting him right back in the lineup even
though his matchup with Tampa is less than ideal.
Must Start: The Top 15:
1. Priest Holmes @ MIN - Only
Atlanta has given up more rushing touchdowns than Minnesota (19)
this year. Can you say dream matchup? Priest visits the Metrodump
with 22 TDs under his belt. I GUARANTEE he'll add at least another
to go along with 100+ yards this weekend.
2. Ahman Green @ OAK - Not to
be outdone, the Raiders have given up 18 rushing touchdowns on the
season. Even better for Green owners, they're giving up almost 150
yards per game, good for 32nd (aka, last) in the league. Batman
should run wild at Network Associates and make Shot Caller a league
champion in the process.
3. LaDainian Tomlinson @ PIT -
Joe Horn got all the pub but this guy got all the yards. All the
yards as in the MOST receiving yards of any player (not just any
receiver) last week. Has Coach Schottenheimer finally figured out
how to utilize him? LaDainian owners can only hope so since he faces
a lackluster Curtain D this Sunday.
4. Jamal Lewis @ CLE - He had
no problem grinding out yards against the crummy Raiders front (125
to be exact) but couldn't find his way into the endzone. Bummer.
Chances are pretty good he won't be shut out again in Cleveland.
5. Shaun Alexander vs. ARI - Arizona
isn't terrible against the run (114.6 per game) but probably doesn't
stand a very good chance of slowing down Alexander and a HIGHLY
motivated Seahawks squad. Expect him to get a lot of work in a game
Seattle simply must win...and will.
6. Deuce McAllister @ JAX - If
you saw the final before you browsed the box score, you were probably
disappointed. You'd think he could score at least once in a rout
of that magnitude. Nevertheless, 145 total yards is better than
a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. He needs to break a three-game
TD drought in Jacksonville, though.
7. Marshall Faulk vs. CIN - As
mentioned previously, the Bengals are starting to give up lots of
points and even bigger chunks of yardage, mostly on the ground (4.6
per carry and 129.4 per game). The Rams need to keep pace with the
Eagles for home-field advantage so Marshall should have a nice day.
8. Clinton Portis @ IND - He'd
be right behind Holmes and Green if he were 100%
but he isn't.
In fact, he's still officially listed as questionable. Muddying
the waters is the fact Denver has a capable backup in Mike Anderson.
Do you roll the dice? Search me.
9. Edgerrin James vs. DEN - Like
Lewis, he gathered plenty of yards but no scores in the big win
over Atlanta. If Denver mobilizes to slow down Peyton (they have
to, don't they?), Edge should have a pretty big day. At the very
least, you can expect 80-100 yards and a score or two.
10. Fred Taylor vs. NO - Though
you couldn't have guessed it last week, the Saints are pretty feeble
vs. the run (4.6 per carry and 136.6 per game). Taylor was neutralized
in Foxboro but will have no trouble finding room to run in Week
16. He's a great start if you're still breathing.
11. Kevan Barlow @ PHI - Lost
in the hubbub over Philly's long winning streak is the fact they
don't defend the run very well (4.5 per carry and 127.8 per game).
Indeed, Ricky and the Dolphins gashed them for 177 rushing yards
on Monday night. Barlow is capable of doing the same as he tallied
over 150 total yards to go along with two scores last week.
12. Jerome Bettis vs. SD - Blame
the blizzard for his modest output in New York. San Diego can't
slow anyone down and if Maddox manages to get something going in
the passing game (he will), the Bus should find plenty of room to
roam. It might be his last home game, too. Just another factor to
13. Ricky Williams @ BUF - He's
gone over the century mark four of the last five games, an encouraging
sign when you consider the competition has been pretty stiff (Baltimore,
Dallas, and Philly). Oddly enough, Buffalo qualifies as stiff competition
with a defense that ranks 7th against the run and 2nd overall.
14. Thomas Jones vs. ATL - You
don't think "workhorse" when you think Thomas Jones but
34 carries and 134 yards (his totals last week) say otherwise. Facing
a Falcons D that gives up boatloads of yardage, he could be the
sneaky start of the week and a championship game MVP.
15. Travis Henry vs. MIA - For
the second consecutive week, he faces a very solid run defense.
That's not a good enough reason to sit him down, though. He's likely
your #2 back if you've made it this far and 80-100 yards is pretty
good production from a #2 back. Keep him in the lineup.
Must Start: The Top 15:
1. Randy Moss vs. KC - Two high-octane
offenses + two crappy defenses = shootout city in Minneapolis this
Saturday. Even with a few duds this season, Moss is averaging over
100 yards and almost one touch per game. There's absolutely no reason
to think the 28th-ranked Chiefs D will slow him down.
2. Torry Holt vs. CIN - He's averaging
even more yards per game than Randy (108.4) but has fewer touchdowns
(11). Of course, Randy doesn't have to share catches with Ike Bruce.
Neither, for that matter, will Holt if the gimpy Reverend is forced
to sit (high ankle sprain). He's a great start as usual.
3. Marvin Harrison vs. DEN - I
promised you vintage Marvin and he came through with a vintage performance
(seven catches, 117 yards, and two scores). He might have trouble
matching those numbers against a decent Denver D but come on
you really consider sitting him? Lemme answer that one for you:
4. Chad Johnson @ STL - You'd
think an ex-Duck might harbor some bitterness toward an ex-Beaver
who's been fined more money than most of us make in a year. You'd
be wrong. As the irrepressible receiver said of himself this week,
"that's just Chad." God, I love players who use the third
5. Terrell Owens @ PHI - He's
hitting his stride just in time for championship week. Though I
expect the Niners to struggle a bit in Philly, he should be able
to put up decent numbers (and maybe even a score or two) against
an average Eagles pass defense. Besides, who else is Garcia gonna
throw it to?
6. Hines Ward vs. SD - The setup
may not be ideal (read: nothing to play for) but San Diego seems
to bring out the best in an opponents' passing game (a mind-boggling
33 TDs yielded this year). Maddox and Co. should make up for a poor
effort in the snow with a big day at Heinz in Week 16.
7. Darrell Jackson vs. ARI - Arizona
hasn't won on the road. Seattle hasn't lost at home. Call me crazy
but I smell "total butt-kicking" this Sunday. If butts
do indeed get kicked, you can expect Mr. Jackson to be one of the
kickers. He's the most reliable of a generally unreliable group.
8. Derrick Mason @ HOU - Whoever
lines up under center will certainly know where to find this guy.
Now that teams are forced to reckon with Justin McCareins, Mason
is finding even more holes in opposing secondaries (over 111 yards
receiving/game in his last three). It goes without saying the Texans
are lousy vs. the pass (239.1 yards/game). Keep him in your lineup.
9. Keenan McCardell vs. ATL -
His numbers have been disappointing in the past month but that has
a lot to do with the emergence of Thomas Jones and a reliable running
attack. The tonic? A league-worst Falcons pass defense (249.4 yards/game).
McCardell should find the end zone this Saturday.
10. Joe Horn @ JAX - Most will
remember him as the guy who placed the most expensive three-second
call in history. We'll remember him as the guy who slayed many a
championship contender in Week 15. Don't expect similar numbers
this week as his gratuitous act likely earned him a great, big bull's
11. Anquan Boldin @ SEA - The
change in signal-callers doesn't seem to have affected his production.
In fact, only Moss and Holt have more receiving yards this year.
The problem, as always, is that he doesn't catch enough touchdown
passes. Don't expect that to change with Josh McCown running the
12. Tony Gonzalez @ MIN - If it's
touchdowns you're looking for, look no further. Gonzo has scored
four of them in his last three games and should find paydirt again
this weekend facing a porous Vikings secondary.
13. Steve Smith vs. DET - Another
game, another 50+ receiving yards. All we need him to do now is
find the endzone again
which he should do against a beleaguered
14. Santana Moss vs. NE - He picked
a heckuva time to fall off the face of the earth. Games in blustery
Buffalo and snowy Jersey haven't helped and now comes a visit from
the big, bad Pats. He stays in the Top 15 on potential alone.
15. Jimmy Smith vs. NO - The return
to balmy Jacksonville should work wonders for Leftwich and the Jacksonville
passing attack. Smith only caught two balls in Foxboro last week
but made the most of them by tallying 73 yards. Expect a solid day
from him in Week 16.