Thursday, October 27, 2005

WEEK 8 "START AND SIT!"

WEEK 8 "START AND SIT"

"MUST START QUARTERBACKS"


Jake Delhomme: Whilst playing Detroit Week 6, Delhomme took a shot to the noggin' and was knocked woozy. Backup Chris Weinke stepped-up, and guided Carolina to a 21-10 win in what turned out to be quite the cat fight! This week, following a Bye, Jake and his Del-Homey's look to maul Minnesota. Expected to be 100% in command of his faculties, look for the Panther passing game to gut a semi-spineless Viking D. Delhomme has thrown for under 205 yards only once, and has multiple scores in 4 consecutive games. The underwhelming Minny' secondary probably won't slow Jake down. WR Steve Smith is an excellent start, and relative newcomer WR Rod Gardner is a sneaky-good start. Gardner, due to his size and strength, will probably displace Keary Colbert as Carolina's #2 receiver once he throughly masters the playbook.

Mark Brunell: The former Jaguar star looked toothless towards the end of his tenure in Jacksonville. But, Washington Redskin coach Joe Gibbs knows a thing or two 'bout good Quarterbacks, and he apparently saved Brunell from an early retirement. Brunell made this list last week, and although that selection was questioned, the 'Skin QB enjoyed a tremendous day. Of course, Brunell's success came against a High School quality San Fran' Secondary... but the level of competition doesn't factor into fantasy scoring, does it? Brunell will be riding a confidence high Sunday when he dances with divvy' rival Giants. Washington and New York have a storied rivalry, and with each team sporting a 4-2 record... this should be a bare-knuckle brawl. The 'Skin Field General has totalled 12 passing TDs in his past 5 games, and has thrown for 320 yards or better in 2 of his last 3. With NY permitting almost 300 passing yards per, Brunell should enjoy another rock-solid passing day. *NOTE WR Santana Moss has been the most dangerous pass catcher in the league; he's averaging almost 20 YPC, has 110+ receiving yards in 4 of 6 games, and has a long of at least 30 yards in EVERY tilt thus far. Expect Moss to give the G-Men fits.

Drew Brees: Brees, if nothing else, has been "consistently consistent. And, if there's anything fantasy owners respect... it's consistent consistency. Against a Chief Secondary that allows almost 265 passing yards per tilt, Drew stands to post his best game yet. TE Antonio Gates and WR Keenan McCardell are both rock-solid starts, and the smart money says LT notches another receiving score.


"HONORABLE MENTION"

Daunte Culpepper: C-Pepp' pushed aside a listless 1st half, and enjoyed his best game of the season against the Sad-sack Pack' last week. A near flawless (marred by 8 incompletes and a recovered fumble) 280 passing yard, 41 rushing yard, 2 TD, no INT performance saw the giant purple passer post a Passer Rating of 123.1, and win his 8th (career) "NFC Offensive Player of the Week" award. Although the Minnesota O-line sports almost as many holes as a pair of fishnet stockings, the Carolina pass defense has proven itself vulnerable (240+ passing yards per). With 2nd-year RB Mewelde Moore enjoying modest success on the ground, TE Jermaine Wiggins and WRs Nate Burleson, Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor have become a bit more dangerous. The issue here? The Vikings struggle mightily on the road. In fact, all 4 of the Vike' losses came outside of the friendly confines of Minny's Metrodome. Culpepper has tossed 9 of his 12 picks while on the road, and the Viking rushing attack averages just under 75 yards per game when outside the Minneapolis/St. Paul region. IF... and that's a big if, the Minny'O righted itself last Sunday... then 'Pepp will be a fine fantasy start. This game looms large for both Culpepper and his team.

"SUSPECT STARTS"

Brett Favre: Look, I'm not suggesting you bench Favre; NEVER SIT YOUR STUDS!. What I am suggesting, however, is that you temper expectations for the Pack' passer. The Green Bay offense is positively riddled with injuries; RB Ahman Green, nicked up all season, finally went down for good last week with torn leg liggies' (quad' tear), WR Robert Ferguson ruptured a thigh tendon and will be out SO long, he may develop mold, and then there are the injured linemen. While the Pack' should never be counted out of ANY game with Favre at the helm, a surprisingly stingy Cin' City Secondary could easily stymie the cheese wiz'. *NOTE: With virtually no one aside from Practice Squaders' to fill the pass catching vacancies, the Bengals WILL doub'-up on Donald Driver. The most productive Packer pass catcher will have to battle for every reception... and there may not be too many.

Aaron Brooks: I listed him as an "Honorable Mention" (I gotta' come up with a different heading. "Honorable Mention" is just... weak)candidate against the Rams last week, and he came through with 258 total yards and 2 TDs. This week Brooks faces-off against the Dolphins, and this one's a little tough to assess as Miami's Injury Report is dotted with significant "Questionables." If talents such as Seau, Taylor, Madison and Schulters are sidelined... Brooks will be an "average" fantasy start. However, Joe Horn's naggy Hammy' will leave him a step slow, and the run game isn't exactly dynamite with Aaron Stecker sidelined and Antowain Smith left to carry the mail. Although he probably won't fall as flat as a sewer cap... don't look for Brooks to "trip the pass fantastic."


"MUST START RUNNING BACKS"

LaDainian Tomlinson: A stout Eagle unit proved Tomlinson to be mortal last week. Held to 7 rushing yards on a stupid-dumb 17 rushing attempts, LT had the worst game of his CAREER. This week, though, Kansas City is the foe. And while KC holds opponents to under a C-Note a game, their Secondary is allowing almost 265 yards per... and Tomlinson will run roughshod over the Chiefs. Look for a pissed-off LT to tee-off on an unprepapred KC.

LaMont Jordan: The Raider offense has been floundering, stud Running Back LaMont Jordan had been begging for the ball, and team owner Al Davis had begun to question the wisdom of his coach. Therefore and with nothing to lose, a beleagured Norv Turner turned the O over to brutish LaMont Jordan, and the former Jet responded fan-freakin-tasticly! Jordan hit the Touchdown Trifecta on 28 totes, and notched a C-note and change. The Raiders' feature creature added 40 receiving yards on 4 receptions for good measure. This Sunday, against Tennessee, the Black & Silver will look to their feature runner to build upon his breakout game.

Stephen Davis: Davis lacks burst, his top-end speed has diminished, his best game (81 yards) came Week 1 against New Orleans, and he has rushed for 160 total yards in his last 4 games, COMBINED. So what on G-d's green earth makes him a "must start?" A weak Viking D-unit that seemingly shuns contact with opposing runners renders Davis a sure-fire starter. Human turnstiles the Viking 'backers are, opposing backs have averaged 140+ on the ground. While Davis no longer gobbles up the yards, he still has a Bloodhound's nose for the end-zone. My "Fantasy Magic 8-Ball," which I haven't broken-out in a while, says ... "80+ rushing yards and a pair of 6's for Davis on Sunday."

Clinton Portis: Portis hasn't been nearly as effective in a Washington Uni' as he was in Denver's duds. However, last Sunday Portis broke out of his scoreless streak in dramatic fashion; 19 carries, 101 yards, 3 TDs. Look for 'Skin slinger Mark Brunell to push the G-Men back off the line, thus providing Portis with some breathing room. Once the elusive back finds himself in space, a Giant D that will (most likely) be without LB Carlos Emmons will find Portis as hard to tackle as smoke.


"HONORABLE MENTION"

Reuben Droughns: Reuben Droughns, you say? Reuben Droughns of the BROWNS? Yes, I say. Running against the worst defensive unit in the league... a unit that permits an ill 165+ rushing yards per, "Boobin" Reuben's about as solid a play as you'll find anywhere this week!

Domanick Davis: It isn't easy playing for the worst team in the league. It's even harder when your forced to run behind the worst offensive line in the bidniss'. Still, when you collect a weekly paycheck that is the equal of several nations' "GNP," you're expected to do what you've gotta' do. In this instance, "Doub' D" is expected to run his little tush' off against a Cleveland unit that permits opposing runners almost 140 yards per game. While Davis has eclipsed the century mark but once this season, he fell but 2 yards shy of the mark last week against a stout Indy' squad... AND crossed the stripe. Due to a "passing game" that is such in name only, the Texans have re-committed themselves to the run. If Houston has ANY chance to win a game this season it'll be this one, and the outcome will ride upon Davis's shoulder-pads. Imagine, a winless Texan team is FAVORED to beat a 2-4 Cleveland team.
*NOTE: Just check Sunday's injury report as Dom's got a slight twist in his wrist.

Rudi Johnson: The Cincy' run game hasn't lived up to expectations. However, the fault is not Johnson's. If you wish, blame a passing game that's as explosive as rocket fuel. The Bengs' have a scary-good offensive arsenal, and it all starts with a pO-tent passing game. In this teams' case, the run complements the pass... as opposed to say Pittsburgh, where QB Ben Roethlisberger throws the ball 12 times an afternoon. Johnson hasn't recorded 20 carries since Week 3, and he had a mere dozen last week. Still, after vocalizing his displeasure over lack of use and against an injury-riddled Packer team, look for Rudi to be more than a mere ornament this week. After shakin' shakin' my "Magic-8," I see 90 ground yards and a score.

Steven Jackson: Coach Mike Martz, suffering from a serious heart infection, will sit out the remainder of the season. How this will affect the team remains to be seen, for few coaches possess Martz nerve and "chutzpah." Now, lifelong assistant Joe Vitt sits behind Martz's desk... and that dude is SO low profile, rumor has it he doesn't even cast a shadow. However, if you can maintain NFL employment for 26 or so years... you're doing something right. My bet is that Vitt will run the offense through physical RB Steven Jackson. Jax' has become a much more polished product; he finishes his runs, he's improved his receiving skills, and he can pick up the blitz.If backup QB Jamie Martin can provide the Rams with some semblance of a passing game, than Jacksonville will have a hard time allotting its defensive resources. While the Ram runner probably won't have a career day... he should still manage to find the' Zone at least once.

Willie Parker: Parker or Bettis.... Bettis or Parker? While it's not quite the "chicken or egg" dilemma, it's no less damning a question. The issue is particularly poignant for those owners who managed to handcuff themselves to both Pitt' runners. Bottom line, Bettis had one "big" 54 yard, 1 score week. While he may be a solid start for those in yardage leagues... "Fast Willie" is probably a better start against a Balty' unit that will be without stark ravin' Ravens LB Ray Lewis and S Ed Reed. Parker sandwiched a pair of 110+ yard, 1 TD outings around 3 subpar, scoreless games. While the Ravens may be wounded without their top 2 defensive playmakers... they're far from punchless.


"SUSPECT STARTS"

Brian Westbrook: Until Westy' proves himself a worthwhile start... why trot him out? League observers feel the Broncos field the quickest and most effective group of backers' in the league. Coach Andy Reid's always gone pass-heavy, but with Westbrook totalling 9, 6, and 10 carries over the course of the last 3 games...the will of Phil' has redefined run-conservative! With the Eag' run game already struggling AND forced to play at Mile High... Westbrook's a risky start at best. Still.. I have a sneaky suspicion that, as the Philly' back hasn't even sniffed the end-zone since Week 3, the coaching staff will try and get Westbrook across the white stripe.

Tatum "Chips" Bell: Bell is, undoubtedly, the Bronc' future feature. However, at this point in his career... and with Mike Anderson as a stablemate, Bell's value varies from week to week and from opponent to opponent. This week, Denver dances with a ballsy' Eag' D. And, with LB Jeremiah Trotter manning the Philly' middle and making a world of run stuffing difference... the more physical, North/South running Anderson wil probably enjoy greater success. If you can run right at a backer' like Trotter... you can defuse his greatest strength; his speed. Look for Bell to hit around 65 on the "rush-ometer."

Willis McGahee: "What'choo Talkin' 'Bout Willis" had, by far, his worst start of the season last week. After providing Oakland with fine bulletin board fodder, McGahee was held to 50 rushing yards on 16 carries. This week, McGahee opposes a rather run-generous, 26th ranked Patriot D. Why the suspect start rating? Former stud LB Tedy Bruschi suffered a stroke and hasn't hit the field since. However, Bruschi is attempting a heroic comeback, there's a slight chance the run specialist plays this weekend... and even if he doesn't, look for his moxie to rub-off on his teammates. Further, look for the Pat' brain-trust to find a way to pressure QB Kelly Holcomb, thus limiting the run game's effectiveness. While it wouldn't be a shocker if McGahee finds the end-zone, look for Nwe England to get all kinds of physical with him.

Jamal Lewis: I'm wasting no breath on this one. The Pitt' D is naugehyde-tuff aghainst the run... and "J-Lew" lacks his trademark burst and has a noticeable lack of heart. With backup RB Chester Taylor averaging over 6 yards per touch... how long until Billick gives him the feature back job? Concerns in Raven camp abound that Lewis may NEVER regain his top back form. At this point... that's not inconceivable.

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