Friday, October 07, 2005

NFL FANTASY "WEEK 5 START AND SIT"

WEEK 5 "START AND SIT"

"MUST START QUARTERBACKS"

Although there are several "very good starts" this week... there are few "must start" Signal Callers. Several of the leagues’ top QBs are enjoying Bye weeks; Giant Eli Manning (the kid is on fire!; He's "en fuego"; he's red-hot"; he's been a heckuva’ sophomore surprise!), Kansas City Chief Trent Green (he's not been the fantasy force many thought he would be. This is due, at least in part, to a marginal receiving corps and a weak O-line that has required an irate TE Tony Gonzalez to stay home and block), Viking Daunte' Culpepper (please, don't get me going. Can we now agree that trading Randy Moss and the whole "addition by subtraction" thing is a crock?) and Oakland "Fader" Kerry Collins (a classic rhythm passer, opponents have prevented him from developing the needed timing ) are all off this week. And, though Eli Manning has been the most productive of the group, complementary skill position players are going to be sorely missed.

Carson Palmer: Talk about your classic cat fights! The Bengals against the Jaguars? What a storyline! Cin’ city’s favorite Football son doesn’t have an easy matchup this week. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that the Jags’ and their 4th ranked pass defense pose a sizeable challenge to the Bengals. However, Palmer has a hot hand, he hasn’t made many mistakes, and few secondaries are deep enough, or talented enough, to cover the bevy of Bengal pass catchers. Cat-quick Chad Johnson, reliable T.J Houshmandzadeh, and emerging Chris Henry are solid starts this week. Keep an eye on 2nd year runner Chris Perry. Due to his rare skills Cincinnati has been lining him up as a receiver, and if Rudi Johnson should fall to injury… Perry would constitute a fine #3 RB or “Flex” play. Look for Rudi Johnson to hurl himself against the Jag’ front 4… and maybe find the end-zone?

Peyton Manning: This week, Peyton Manning will continue making up for lost scores! The San Francisco Forty-Niners are horrendous against the pass… and who better than Manning to exploit that weakness? Whip up the chili and lay in a store of goodies, ‘cause this is going to be a fun one! It wouldn’t be a stunner if Manning, who has never had any compunction about running up the score, hangs a fistful of 6’s. Those of you who have been let down by WR Brandon Stokely and TE Dallas Clark… if ANY week is a good week to run ‘em out, it’s this one! RB Edgerrin James is a lock for a score or 2, probably one as a receiver, and stud DE Dwight Freeney is as good an IDP play as you’ll find anywhere, at anytime. Freeney will be match up against a rookie Niner’ lineman… you can almost pity him, can’t you?

Donovan McNabb: Playing with a painful sports hernia, a condition that would lay a lesser man low, McFabb’ continues to impress, amaze, and stand alone atop the once vaunted QB class of ’99. Remember that group? The “Class of ‘99” includes immortals such as Akili Smith (out of football), Tim Couch (trying to catch on as a backup), and Cade McNown (The Bears haven’t had a legit’ QB since Jim McMahon shuffled on out of Chit-town). The only real “equal” amongst McNabb’s 99’ Q-Brethren would be the Vikings’ Daunte’ Culpepper. He, however, is a whole other story. Look for “DNabb,” who is enjoying remarkable protection from his O-line, to pick apart a very disappointing and overmatched Dallas Secondary. The ‘Pokes don’t lack talent in the defensive backfield, which is what is so surprising. S Roy Williams can lower the boom and is solid in run support, but he continues to bite on “lookoffs” and will frequently take poor angles on receivers. CB Terence Newman has ball skills, but he also demonstrates poor instincts. Look for McNabb and Terrell Owens to hook up at least once, T.O could easily surpass a receiving C-note. RB Brian Westbrook had a very quiet Sunday last week… but he remains a strong play and dangerous receiver out of the backfield. Likewise, TE L.J Smith continues to emerge as a strong fantasy… and real, pass catching weapon.



"HONORABLE MENTION"

Michael Vick: Nursing sore hindquarters, Slick Vick may lack his usual mobility. However, against a depleted New England Patriot team (Drew Brees was 19/24 for 248 and 2 TDs last week)... a team that sorely misses its hammer, S Rodney Harrison, the Falc' Signal Caller could be a sneaky-good start. Although his injury eventually forced Vick from last week's game against the Vikings, the contest was already well in-hand and his efficiency and accuracy were impressive; 6/9 for 49 yards and a touch'. The outcome of this week’s game will hinge upon the Atlanta run machine. If Warrick Dunn and T.J Duckett can get the ground game going... and after Bolt' back LT hung 134 rushing yards and a pair of scores on the Pats’ last Sunday all indications are "go!" ... the Falcon QB should be able to sting the Pat' Secondary. The concern here is that the Falcon receivers are either developing, ala’ Michael Jenkins, or sub-par… ala’ everyone else! TE Alge Crumpler is a rock-solid start this week for that reason.

Brett Favre: Oh how the mighty have fallen! During his reign of excellence, Packer QB Brett Favre has forced countless defensive coordinators to hit the bottle. And really, who knows how many "Costco" size jugs of Peptol Bismol and Maalox have been drained due to Favre's improvisational ability and "other-worldly" skills! Sadly, casual fans and Football devotees alike now cringe and ache for the Canton-bound Quarterback. A patchwork offensive line (which was further depleted after Monday night's loss to Carolina), a largely ineffective running game (which also suffered a blow when RB Ahman Green left the game with a to-date undisclosed, but likely serious knee injury), and an injury-thinned receiving corps (you betcha'; after a crushing, but unintentional helmet to helmet collision, the pass catching corps lost WR Terrence Murphy to a neck injury Monday) are hurdles that, when combined with age, are insurmountable. Although the "Green Bay Gunslinger" has downplayed the possibility, I state it now as I stated in my pre-season rankings; watch and enjoy Favre’s greatness... because next season? Young Aaron Rodgers will be taking the snaps for a Packer team that will be in a seasons-long rebuilding mode.
Looking no further down the road than this week, though, expect the irrepressible Brett Favre to hang good numbers against the Saint Secondary. Although New Orleans has begun to pull some of the pieces back together, Green Bay is cornered and they’ll pull out all the stops to head off an 0-5 start.
*NOTE: Another pre-season potentiality is becoming a reality. Coming into this season, I was hatin’ on RB Ahman Green… but for good reason. The big back’s burnt. A heavy workload, coupled with the grind of playing through the brutal conditions of Lambeau Field, have cost the not-quite 30 year old at least 2 seasons’ of productivity. If he hasn’t been snagged already, run… don’t walk to the ‘wire, and snatch up hulking Najeh Davenport. The dude’s big, he runs hard, and he might even be a future feature.

Aaron Brooks: The Saints finally did something smart… they’ve prevented their QB from thinking for himself this season. Over the course of his still young career, Brooks has pulled some classic Bisquit-Head” moves. In fact, some might wonder if the guy has to check a toothpaste tubes for instructions. That’s why the Saints decided to funnel the offense through RB Deuce McAllister. McAllister is healthy and he’s run hard However, against the D-back strapped Packers this week… Brooks is a rock solid play; especially with WR Joe Horn back on the field. Look for all 3 skill po’ players to hang nice fantasy numbers against a defensively challenged Green Bay team.

Ben Roethlisberger: Although Big Ben has yet to notch a 300 yard passing day, he's an efficient QB and tends to make his throws count. This week, in what promises to be a great Monday Night match-up, the Steelers lock horns with the San Diego Chargers. The Bolts' may be able to contain "Fast Willie Parker" (who WILL lose touches to both Staley and Bettis; Parker has lost 8 pounds since the start of the season) and the potent Pitt' run game... but they've had issues with the passing game. Giant QB Eli Manning had a huge Week 3 game against them, and Patriot QB Tom Brady threw for 225 yards on them last week. Although the Chargers are hosting the Steelers... look for Big Ben and Hines Ward to make themselves at home. Check on the status of Ward as he’s nursing an injury. Regardless, #2 receiver Antwaan Randle El is in line for a big game. The Chargers should have trouble containing the liquid-elusive El after the catch.

"SHOULD SIT QUARTERBACKS"

Matt Hasselbeck: The C-Hawk Signal Caller seems to be on the rebound from a somewhat disappointing ’04 campaign. After a stellar ’03 (3,841/26/15) season, owners (and the Seattle fan base) had Hasselbeck pegged as a top 7 fantasy field general and expected the guy to jump to the land of the “elite.” However, that leap resulted in a resounding and disappointing “thud.” ‘Becks’ owners were left to consider a step-back (3,382/22/15) season. This year, Hasselbeck has been good for at least 240 passing yards in each game, he’s thrown TD passes in all but one game, he hasn’t thrown a pick since week 1, and all in all… he’s been a rather steady fantasy presence. This coming week, though, owners will have to consider the following. “Seahawks down, Seahawks down!” WRs Bobby Engram and Darrell Jackson are both injured and are expected to miss Sunday’s game against St. Louis. Normally, this is a game that would have Hasselbeck and his owners licking their respective chops. But, with an injury riddled pass catching corps… look for RB Shaun Alexander left, Shaun Alexander right, and Shaun Alexander straight ahead. Those of you who have been let down by your TEs, this could be a good week to pickup and start the gigantic Jerramy Stevens.

“MUST START RUNNING BACKS”

Deuce McAllister: Serving as the focal point of the Saint offense, McAllister has been somewhat erratic to date. McAllister’s like “the girl with the curl;” when he’s good… he’s very good, and when he’s bad… On a far more positive note, Deuce shook loose and enjoyed a breakout rushing game against a stout Bill D last week; 130 yards on 27 totes. He did not, however, find his way into the end-zone.
But Sunday, against a Green Bay team that MUST have some sort of allergy to tackling, the Saint ball carrier is an excellent start. Deuce will catch a few balls out of the backfield (for those of you in “points per reception” leagues)… and he should be able to wear down the Packer line. In what should be a high scoring affair, McAllister should easily break 100 yards rushing and notch a TD or 2.

Shaun Alexander: Alexander is a fine start Sunday… but he may well be a one-man show. The Hawks, without WRs Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram, will be forced to go to the ground early and often. In addition, the smart money say’s an aggressive Ram D will form a stacked box welcoming party for Alexander. The Seattle passing game should be able to do just enough to force a poor Ram pass D back on its heels, thus giving the productive runner a little breathing room. Although he won’t record a career day, Shaun Alexander remains a solid start.

LaDainian Tomlinson: Tomlinson has positively feasted on the defenses that have been geared to stop him. This week, though, LT will face his stiffest challenge yet; a voracious, swift, sure-tackling Pittsburgh D. Week 3 saw Tomlinson cut through the Giant run defense with relative ease, and last week the Patriots were unable to slow the record setting Bolt’ back down. Much like the aforementioned Shaun Alexander, Tomlinson’s matchup is somewhat less than ideal… still, are you really gonna’ sit your likely 1st overall draft pick?

Edgerrin James: Although Manning will make ‘Frisco’s “Monster Park” “Petyon’s place” on Sunday… RB Edgerrin James will do his part to make the place “homey” for the prolific QB. The Niners’ are better against the run than pass… especially if stud LB Julian Peterson has surmounted his tugged hammy’, still, Edge’ is a versatile weapon… and a load to bring down. A better “yardage league” runner due to the fact that he still doesn’t get the Goalline totes, Edge’ has a combined 328 rushing yards and 2 scores in his last 3 games. Look for James to crack 150 total yards on Sunday, and I’d expect him to notch a score or 2 for good measure.

Warrick Dunn: Dunn is an under-rated real, and fantasy commodity. He may surrender his G-line carries to the far larger, more physical T.J Duckett, but between the 10’s… Dunn is as elusive as a drop of water on waxed paper. Dunn particularly nimble on plastic grass, plays at home this week. Just compare his “Away” diggies’ to his “Home” ones; Away: Week 2 against Seattle: 54 rushing yards. Away Week 3 against Buffalo: 97 rushing yards. HOME Week 1 against Philadelphia: 117 rushing yards. HOME Week 4 against Minnesota 126 rushing yards and a TD. As the Patriots limp on into Hot-lanta, look for Dunn to hang some solid fantasy numbers. Likewise, stablemate T.J Duckett should notch himself a Goalline carry or 2 and is a very solid play himself.

“HONORABLE MENTION”

Thomas Jones: With a 1-2 record, the Bears maintain hopes of being competitive in the sorry NFC North. Rookie Kyle Orton grasped the reins of the team when Rex Grossman was felled by a broken ankle. Initially, the cub QB looked okay, completing approximately 60% of his passes… until the Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The wheels came off the cart in that one, and Orton completed a mere 17 of 39 passes with a butt-ugly 5 picks. RB Thomas Jones, a near afterthought entering the season, has been a stud fantasy back. Entering this tilt, Jones is averaging 4.6 per carry, he’s recorded 100+ rushing yards twice, and has crossed into the “6 point promised land” 4 times. This week, against an iffy Brown squad, Jones is a reasonable #2 RB/”Flex” start. Do not be surprised if rook’ runner Cedric Benson receives double-digit carries. The Bears… if they have any hopes at all, rest upon Jones’ shoulder pads…. And the staff will want the physical back to stay as fresh as possible.

Jamal Lewis: So many league observers expected the brooding Balty’ back to reclaim his place as a top 7 NFL Running Back. So far, that hasn’t happened. Although last weeks’ game against the NY Jets was his most productive yet… that’s not saying much. Lewis DID score, but he still averaged less than 3 yards per. If the guy is ever to get his groove on, it’ll be this week, against this Detroit Lion team. Several team observers feel that Lewis was never able to fully rehab’ his injured ankle… and that may well be the case. “J-Lew” isn’t cutting with his usual precision, and although he has maintained his straight-line speed… it seems as if he shirks contact. Before we speculate any further let’s see how this game, a critical game for the Ravens, shakes out.

Stephen Davis: Coming off a serious… arguably career threatening knee injury, Davis has been a remarkable productive real and fantasy weapon. Although the Panther back has yet to crack a 100 in a game, TDs in 4 of 5 games, and multiple scores in 2 of those 4 more than offset any yardage concerns. Against a surprisingly porous ‘Zona D, look for another 85 rushing yards and a pair of 6’s.

“SHOULD SIT RUNNING BACKS”

Curtis Martin: This is one Jet who should be grounded Sunday. Need I rattle off the reasons? The dude, another 1 man act, is hobbled by a knee injury that kept him from practicing all week. Martin is averaging a scant 2.8 YPC, he has YET to crack 75 yards rushing… for cryin’ out loud, C-Mart has yet to score! And perhaps the best reason of all… Curtis and Co. face a VERY good Tampa Bay squad. *NOTE: As expected, Vinny Testaverde will be, again, under Center for the Jets. Little known fact, Testaverde played High School ball with Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln… or “Link” to friends and teammates, was played TE).

Kevin Jones: The question shouldn’t be “why not KJ?” More appropriate would be.. “why PLAY KJ?” Jones, averaging a hair over 3 yards per and with a single score, has disappointed the many fans and owners who thought he’d “cross into the blue” and become an elite runner. This week, against a snarling Baltimore unit, the D-troit runner ain’t gonna satisfy anyone’s fantasy “jones.”

Willis McGahee: McGahee is faced with a huge “Mc-Problem!” Opposing teams have caught on to the fact that young QB J.P Losman is about as dangerous as a loaded banana. Losman is taking his lumps, that’s fore sure, but the QB’s barely throwing for more than 100 yards per game. Given his ineffectiveness, foes are throwing everyone but team owners into the box. After a strong showing at home Vs. Houston, the Bills have gone into a wild tailspin. A decent Miami franchise will be tough to beat.
Benching McGahee might be difficult if he’s your top back… and he might even find the end-zone. But, if you have alternative starters, it’d probably be sound strategy to use ‘em.

Julius Jones: Another disappointing “Jones” boy. But Julius isn’t faced with the litany of offensive issues that Kevin is. The ‘Pokes have received admirable play from their aged QB, Drew Bledsoe, and the WRs have out-performed expectations. The run game has coach Bill Parcells gnashing his teeth, however. “JJ” has yet to break 100 yards rushing, and he seems to be on an every other week scoring jag. If that’s so… then Jones is due for a score Sunday. That’s the bright news. The bad news? Against an improved Philly run D… Jones will find creases and holes hard to come by. LB Jeremiah Trotter makes a world of run-stuffing difference.

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