Saturday, November 12, 2005

NFL WEEK 10 START AND SIT

With apologies, the "Week 10 Start and Sit" blurbs are shortened and the article has, obviously, been released late. Assuredly, this will NOT happen next week! If there are any glaring omissions, than the fault is mine... for wanting to get the piece up in a relatively timely fashion. Again, apologies for the haste.

TEAMS ON BYES: Bengals, Saints, Chargers, and Titans. So... Carson Palmer, Drew Brees, Chad Johnson, Antonio Gates, LaDainian Tomlinson and Rudi Johnson will NOT be able to almost single-handedly win weeks for peeps.

WEEK 10 "START AND SIT"

"MUST START QUARTERBACKS"

Peyton Manning: Peyton was a "Mann" amongst boys this past week. He enjoyed a season-best performance (28/37 for 321/1/3) and helped his club rout the New England Patriots in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football. The win may have a greater impact on the Colts' collective psyche than it will the final standings. There was talk of a "mental block" and that "Peyton and his co-Colts just can't beat the Patriots." After thoroughly thrashing the Pats by a score of 40-21? I'm inclined to believe that the Colts "mental block" has been broken. Now, the leagues' countless pundits and wags are talkin' smack about an "undefeated season." I don't know about that as Indy has a few tough match-ups on the slate, but this weekend... look for RB Edgerrin James to bludgeon the Texans on the ground while Manning and his pass-catching contingent (WRs Marvelous (9/128/2 Sunday) and Reggie Wayne (9/124/1 Sunday), and TE Dallas Clark) air it out and post ill numbers against a sorry Houston Secondary (ranked 18th). Although some are predicting a "let-down" game, Peyton should be able to stack 6's like flap-jacks Sunday.

Eli Manning: Peyton's little brother is rapidly developing into a top-tier Signal Caller. Although Peyton will be the first to admit that Eli is the physically superior (of the 2) QBs it's the mental aspect of the game that Eli must hone. Developing a "Football IQ," recognizing the different coverages, and anticipating what opposing D-Coordinators might do...this is, by far, the most crucial element of a Field General's game. Peyton possesses those intangibles and is rivaled only, perhaps, by Patriot QB Tom Brady. However, I expect Eli will take yet another step forward Sunday against the depleted Viking Secondary. Look for Giant pass-catchers Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey to put a whole lotta' "Oooh!" into the"Big Blue" offense, and if you're in a pinch- WR Amani Toomer should be a solid "Flex" WR start.

Matt Hasselbeck: Although the O has largely been run through All-Stud RB Shaun Alexander, the C-Hawk Signal Caller has enjoyed a very solid and productive fantasy year. Even when top receivers Bobby Engram and Darrell Jackson went down with injuries, 'Beck stepped up and forged a nice rapport with veteran Joe Jurevicius. This week, the Seahawks host the St. Louis Rams and look to keep their 4 game winning streak alive (they've also won 6 of their last 7). Given that the Rams field a bold-faced LIE of a defense... they really look more like a buncha' guys trying to flag down a Taxi than they do a credible defense trying to stop opposing offenses... I wouldn't hesitate to start 'Beck and his pass catching contingent. Sure, Engram is slowly returning fgrom his injury, but he has a shot at being productive in this one. Likewise, "Joey J." should hang another 75+ and find the "6 Point Promised Land" against a Secondary that yields over 240 passing yards per. Look for a high scoring affair, and Hasselbeck should enjoy a solid 225+/2 TD Sunday.


SECOND TIER STARTERS"

Tom Brady: After the Colts administered the Pats' nothing short of an ass-kicking this past week, Tom Brady called his team out onto the floor. He stated what seems fairly obvious to outsiders; the team lacks fire, they don't seem hungry, they lack a sense of urgency, yadayadayada. If the Patriots aren't fired-up to win this week... than they won't be fired up til' next season. Even with the team underperforming around his ears, Brady's been the one constant. The 'Phins have dropped 4 of their past 5 including last weeks' game against Atlanta, wherein Falc' Field General Mike Vick did his best Johnny U. impersonation. If the 'Phins allowed Vick and his sub-par pass-catchers to ignite, then the Patriots deeper corps could blow. Both TEs Watson and Graham could play a role in this one, and while each can catch the ball... Graham seems to be the better pass catcher of the 2. Just check the IR, he's got a banged-up shoulder.
Look for a rock-solid Sunday from New England from Tom Terrific... the sole concern? The run game. With Dillon nicked-up and Pass hobbled, issues abound.

Byron Leftwich: A curious candidate to be sure, but Lefty's been playing surprisingly good ball, has 10 TDs in his past 6 games, and the Baltimore D has been playing poorly. The concern here, as it is with Brady and the Pats... the Run game. RB Fred Taylor has been shelved this week due to an ankle injury. Look for FB Greg Jones to again fill-in for Fast Freddy. G-Jo' did a fine job in Taylor's stead when forced into week 6 action, I'd expect Jones to, at least, force the Ravens to respect the notion of the run. Leftwich may not be as strong a start as some of the other Signal Callers... but against a Balty team that is in a free-fall, you could do far worse.

Michael Vick: The first time I've suggested Vick as a starter. But, frankly, I'd trot my grandma out against the Packer Secondary. While the Pack' aren't abysmal, to be perfectly honest, TE Alge Crumpler, WR Brian Finneran, and RB Warrick Dunn will give them all they can handle. Add Vick's moves and athleticism to the mix... and you've got a recipe for a Packer tragedy on your hands.

Jake Plummer: Plummer hasn't tossed a pick since Week 2 and been something just short of brilliant this season. This week, against a generous Oakland D (22nd ranked pass D, ceding 220 YPG), look for "The Snake" to lash out at his opponent and bite 'em hard. With an astoundingly consistent run game supporting him, Plummer and his pass catchers should hang gaudy diggies' Sunday.

Jake Delhomme: Jake and his "Del-Homeys" take on a soft Jet squad Sunday. It's not that the Jet D is soft... no, LBs Vilma and Hobson head a promising group. Coach Herm Edwards is soft, though, and his players seem to take on that element of the coaches personality. The Jets, once they have a foot on a foes' throat, don't squeeze. They need to. Injuries aside, the Jets have made mistakes... along with curious coaching decisions, that are Edwards' responsibility. Anyway, the Delhomme to Steve Smith connection continues to thrive... and at worse, Delhomme is a solid #2 QB Sunday.

"MUST START RUNNING BACKS"

Edgerrin James: James posted another solid all-around game this past week (34 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD) , and is enjoying a "phe-freakin-nomenal" season! Short of RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander, there isn't a more productive fantasy back in the game right now. I don't wish to lapse into hyperbole, but this Houston club fields a largely fictitious defense and hemorhages ground yards at the rate of almost 160 per game. With Peyton "manning" the air attack, look for Edge' to do the Texans ugly on the ground. The veteran runner should gouge his floundering foes for 150+ total yards without breaking much of a sweat, and notch another pair of scores with equal ease.

Tiki Barber: Without going into the whole "Barber is the most under-rated, least heralded Running Back" thing... well, he is. Sure, Tiki had a relatively "quiet" game last Sunday. But, "quiet" constituted a "grind-it-out" effort wherein Barber helped to keep the chains moving against a tough group of Linebackers, and recorded 100+ combined yards in the process. It's not unreasonable to believe that Barber's "off game" was directly related to his 204 yard effort against NY's divison rival Redskins the week prior.
This week, Tiki and Co. draw a soft Minnesota Viking team. The Vikes' are coming off of a win, but that win came against a weak Detroit team. Meanwhile, Minnesota has more holes than the Titanic; they cede almost 130 rushing yards per tilt, and the pass defense is consistently riddled by opposing Signal Callers. Tiki's found the End-Zone at least once in 5 of 8 contests, has 4 games of 100+ total yards, and I'd expect yet another 135+ total yard/1-2 TD game.

Shaun Alexander: What more can you say 'bout the prolific 'Hawk back? Named the Week 9 "Offensive Player of the Week" a 173 yard, 2 TD day with a 7+ YPC average will garner you such baubles, I guess. Dude has only 2 games with rushing totals UNDER 95 yards, he's notched 3 games of 140+ yards, and he's already banked 14 TDs. On pace for a 2000/28 season (can his numbers be a little more ridiculous?), the Rams and their 25th ranked run defense don't promise to do much to stop "Alexander the Great's" reign of rushing terror. Sunday, I'd expect Shaun to set up shop in the Ram 'E-Zone. 130 yards and 2-3 TDs sound about right.

Larry Johnson: As I wrote a week and change or so ago, chief Chief back Priest Holmes' season is over... and likely, his storied career as well. A Hall of Fame back? A case can be made for Holmes, but right now... the only thing that matters is that Larry Lil' J." Johnson IS the back of the future. If you managed to handcuff yourself at the season's start... bravo! Johnson has been breathtakingly productive. If not... and you're in a "Keeper" league, try and trade for him. Relatively durable and as slick as teflon, Johnson has more wiggle than a bowl of Jell-O. Even against Buffalo this week, LJ's a "Must Start."

Warrick Dunn: Again, the clear-cut team MVP and... predicated upon how far this team goes, a candidate for league MVP, Dunn has a home game against a tissue-paper thin Packer D. Dunn runs well on turf, he always runs well at home, and he gets both Sunday. Although burly back T.J Duckett is likely to return, Dunn should still receive the bulk of the carries. G-Bay surrenders almost 110 rushing yards per, and with Vick looking more and more like an NFL Signal Caller every week... look for Dunn to be the prime beneficiary.

Steven Jackson: Jax' has been VERY tough on opposing defenders of late. With Bulger fresh off of injury and back at the helm, and both Holt and Bruce likely back at the 1 & 2 receiver slots (also both return from injury), Seattle should receive a steady diet of the powerful Ram back. Jackson runs with great pad level, he's got great burst, nice vision, his receiving skills are improving, and most importantly... he finsishes his runs. Look for a productive Sunday from the 2nd year man... 90/2 would not be too ambitious.



"SECOND TIER STARTERS"

Willis McGahee: "What'choo Talkin' 'Bout Willis" will dance with the Kansas City Chiefs and their top 10 ranked run D (94.6 YPG) this weekend. Although McGahee would appear to be an iffy start, keep in mind that the Chiefs' 26th ranked pass defense surrenders a butt-load of passing yards each week (to more precisely define "butt-load," it's almost 261 passing YPG), thus QB Kelly olcomb and Wideouts Lee Evans and Eric Moulds should help ease some of the offensive load placed upon the Buff' back. Further, even when opposing defenders are braced to stop him, McGahee has run with success. The fact of the matter is, the Bill feature back has now fully recovered from his horrific knee injury (suffered as a Collegiate athlete)? and his full suite o' skillz' are on display for all to see. McGahee has quick feet- feet that are always moving, and he's an awesome blend of speed, power, and moves

Tatum "Chips" Bell: Bell should be a "Must Start" back, but in an effort to keep the explosive 2nd-year runner quick, fresh, and healthy, coach Shanahan has limited Tatum?s touches to 12-15 per game. With a dynamic complement of shifty moves and the ability to accelerate with all the speed of a Ferrari, Bell can hit the hole the moment it develops, jump to "ludicrous speed" (Spaceballs the Movie, anyone?), and score from virtually anywhere on the field. The Bronc' back has recorded long runs of at least 30 yards in every game but 2, and has notched 5 TDs in his last 4 games. Against an Oakie' run D that allows 115+ rushing yards per, Bell's a rock-solid start.

Duce Staley: The Steelers, facing Cleveland this week, will again be without QB Ben Roethlisberger. Likewise, RBs Willie Parker (ankle, out) and Jerome Bettis (knee, cleared to play) are both injured. With QB Charlie Batch stewarding this team... rest-assured, coach Bill Cowher and his jaw will go run heavy. Look for Staley to get the totes between the 10's, and Bettis should see some G-Line work. Enough to render him a solid spot-start anyway. *NOTE: If ANY Steeler receiver will be a factor, it'll be TE HEath Miller. Big Money has been "cha-ching" dependable, and if the Steelers are forced to pass while in the Red-Zone... Miller will get the look.

Greg Jones: Fred Taylor's got an ankle injury and has been ruled-out for Sunday's game. In his place steps FB Greg Jones. Jones was drafted by the team as a runner, but forced into a Full Back role. When given opportunity, however, Jones has stepped-up to the plate. Week 6 at Pittsburgh, Jones rumbled for 77 yards and a score on 18 carries. Look for a solid... but not spectacular game Sunday against the Ravens and their 10th ranked run D (98+ YPG).

Samkon Gado: Who the hell is Samkon Gado, you ask? Why... he's the former unemployed athlete turned starting Pack' back, of course! Gado, forced into action by a combination of injuries and miscues last week, ran for 62 yards and a touch' on 18 carries against the Steelers. Although he's an unknown quantity... look for Gado to run hard. He will want to impress both his team and any other teams that are watching. Atlanta's been vicimized on the ground (118 YPG, ranked 18th), and Gado has a shot at another 70-ish yard, 1-2 TD day.

LaMont Jordan: Jordan isn't faced with a patty-cake run D; Denver is awfully stingy against the run due to an astoundingly swift and sure-tackling group of 'backers. However, Denver CAN be hurt through the passing game, as they surrender over 240 passing yards per. And, with Kerry Collins' pass catching contingent... the Bronc' backers' may be forced back off the line in order to better defend against the pass. Any breathing room will allow Jordan a crack... and once LaMont finds a seam, he can burst through it like water through a dam. Jordan is a big back, make no mistake. He is, however, remarkably nimble and fast for a man of his size, and he's rapidly developing into one of the best all-around runners in the game. Jordan can catch the ball coming out of the backfield, he can pick up the blitz with an ease that belies its difficulty, and he possesses a fine Football IQ. It wouldn't surprise if LaMont Jordan, like both Tatum Bell and Larry Johnson, head the next crop of "elite" backs.

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