Friday, December 02, 2005

NFL WEEK 13 START & SIT!

WEEK 13 "START AND SIT!"

Week 12 saw some stand-out rushing performances. From Charger LaDainian Tomlinson's gaudy 180+/3 TD day to Colt Edgerrin James' 120+ workman-like effort, from Beng' back Rudi Johnson's 110+/2 TD effort to G-Man Tiki Barber's 170+ total yard fantasy bonanza, owners had to be thrilled with these... and other, like performances. However, now comes crunch time! It's Week 13... and some leagues are already starting their Playoffs. Keep in mind that at this point in the season pro franchises may be inclined to follow one of two paths; they may audition young players in order to ascertain their capabilities, or they may lighten their stud athlete's loads in order to give them a pre-Post C' breather. Also, at this point in the season weather WILL be a factor. Make sure to check the reports if you're starting skill position players in potentially inclement climes.

"MUST START QUARTERBACKS"

Peyton Manning: Peeps, Peyton’s poppin’ prodigious point-totals! The perfectly potent passer draws a stupid-bad Tenne’D Sunday, and the Colts look to lock-up their 4th consecutive playoff berth. Of the 28 total TDs scored against ‘em, a statistically ridiculous 22 have been of the passing ilk. Look for WRs Reggie and Marvelous to go OFF, TE Dallas Clark is a solid start, and it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Manning obliterate the Titan Secondary; 275/3 is assuredly in reach.

Carson Palmer: Pittsburgh could prove to be a tough adversary… for RB Rudi Johnson. However, you can bet this week’s paycheck that a D-backfield that was dismantled by Colt QB Peyton Manning last Monday Night will receive similar treatment from Palmer and pals.Look for Palmer and WR Chad Johnson to target young CB Ike Taylor.

Kurt Warner: San Francisco? San Francisco’s … please insert your own adjective for “worse than terrible”… pass D is all that stands between Warner and a 5th 300+ yard passing day. Kurt has posted 260+ passing yards in every tilt but one (Seattle held him under 175 yards passing), and is coming off a fine fantasy afternoon against the Jaguars last Sunday (315/1/2). With skilled receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin lining up alongside him, there are few better fantasy Signal Callers this week. It’s not inconceivable that both Fitz’ and Q’ hang 100+/1 each this Sunday. The team does, however, need RB J.J Arrington to show signs of life. And… can we get some more calls for coach Denny Green’s head? Green has a terrible record developing young talent… and frankly, he’s a terrible game manager.

Jake Plummer: As a Bronco, “Snake’s” bucked his boneheaded ways and has become a much smarter Field General, far less likely to throw the ball into double and even triple coverage. The Chiefs… aside from this past week’s ball-hawkish performance against Tom Brady, have been victimized through the air with regularity. When last Jake plumbed the depths of the KC D (Week 3), he secured a win by playing safe, 152/1 Football. The fact of the matter is, Plummer’s been playing “safe” ball all season. Last week, I successfully predicted his streak o’ pickless passes to come to an end… and it did. This week, I predict that Plummer will have to be a gun-slingin’ hero if his team is to win. The Chief run D has been tighter than a drum, ceding fewer than 90 rushing yards per game, and the swift corps of ‘backers led by rookie Derrick Johnson will be on RB Mike Anderson like white on rice. It WILL be up to Plummer and the passing game to get it done through the air. Allowing 240+ YPG, I see Jake enjoying a solid, 240/2 afternoon. Denver’s troubles were well-documented on Thanksgiving Day, however. Elderly WR Rod Smith is a nice possession type, Ashley Lelie is as consistent as the Stock Market… and then who else is there?

Tom Brady: Looking back at his 4 pick game against the Kansas City Chiefs… in hindsight, Tom wasn’t so terrific. However, the Jets season ended weeks ago… and Tom IS pissed. In games following poor outings, Brady has sick stats. While I don’t have them fresh at hand… just take my word for it. Brady WILL take his frustrations out on NY… and both TE Ben Watson and Deion Branch constitute solid fantasy starts. My “Fantasy Magic-8 Ball” say’s “It’s unclear, but look for 230/3 from Tom Brady.” How does it know???

"SECOND TIER STARTERS"

Trent Green: Denver, much like their opponents the Chiefs, boasts an enigmatic D-Unit. Opposing backs struggle because spee-D, sure-tackling LBs such as Al Wilson and Ian Gold quickly plug up any and all gaps. Quite surprisingly, Shanahan’s “Browncos,” Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren and Mike Meyers have gelled quickly and beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. Coupled with resurgent Trevor Pryce… Shanny’s off-season acquisitions have made for the leagues’ TOP run defense, allowing a meager 79 YPG. Alas, therein lieth’ the good news. The bad? Even with top cover-corner Champ Bailey blanketing opposing receivers, QBs are playing pitch and catch with their receivers. On T-Day, greybeard Drew Bledsoe tossed a pair of scores and notched 232 yards. Look for an aging… but still dangerous Trent Green to do a similar number on KC’s struggling defensive backfield. **NOTE: Bledsoe hooked up with TE Jason Witten with ease on Thanksgiving as the Broncs’ had no answer for the big and physical TE. Tony Gonzalez and Green were probably munching on drumsticks, making note of the same thing. Ergo Gonzo’s a great start Sunday.

Brad Johnson: Mo-Town is singing the blues these days. That is… when their top Corners aren’t retracting their observations and criticisms. CB Dre’ Bly… stand-up and show some sack! You made a statement, a valid one, now be man enuff’ to back it up when it gets a little hot. Ummm, yeah. Anyway, veteran Signal Caller Brad Johnson has proven himself to be a calming influence for the Vikings- both on and off the field. Against Cleveland last week, Johnson hung a P/R of 110.3 on a 207/1/3 day. It was his 2nd P/R in excess of 110 on the season, and Johnson seems to be finding a nice rhythm. Look for the guy to continue carrying the suddenly serious Vikings. Minny’ is making a run at Chicago for the division crown and in so doing… is saving coach Mike Tice’s job. Detroit allowed Atlanta TE Alge Crumpler to post ill (100+/2) numbers on Thanksgiving, and Minnesota’s leading receiver, H-Back Jermaine Wiggins, is a sneaky-good “Flex/TE”
start
based upon the Falc’s phenomenal-phantasy ‘day.


SUSPECT START: Drew Bledsoe: Dallas’s heart-breaking loss to Denver this past week was NOT attributable to a defensive break-down. The team’s running game has struggled in recent weeks, and QB Drew Bledsoe seen his numbers fall considerably. Taking Thanksgiving’s 2 TD, 2 INT game out of the equation for a minute, the old ‘Boy recorded 4 TDs and 4 INTs in 5 weeks (dating back to Week 6), and threw for over 200 yards only once. In those 5 games, Bledsoe floundered against teams such as Detroit, Arizona, and Philly. While New York’s Secondary has proven itself vulnerable, as he was last week (I recommended benching both Plummer AND Bledsoe for Thursday’s game) Bledsoe is a risky start.

SUSPECT START: Eli Manning: The ‘Pokes and Big Blue last clashed during Week 6; a contest that saw Manning post his 3rd worst Passer Rating of the season (70.3). And, not surprisingly, it was one of his worst outings (14 of 29, for 215/1/1) in general. The Dallas Cowboy Secondary has been a team strength; S Roy Williams has cleaned more clocks than Timex this year, and CB Terence Newman is playing the best Football of his career. At best, look for a very middling effort from the younger Mann’ Sunday.


SLEEPER STARTER: David Carr: Last week I was pimpin’ both WR Andre’ Johnson and RB Domanick “Doub’ D’” Davis as “sneaky-good” starts. After all, if ANY team’s Secondary was ripe for exploitation… it was St. Louis’. Well, flash-back! Andre’ Johnson (12/159/1) looked at the Ram D-backs the way a fat man stares at the pies in a “Pie –Eating contest,” and D-freakin’-voured ‘em. RB Domanick Davis (120 total yards, 1 TD) also had a strong fantasy game. This week, Baltimore and their injury-thinned Secondary backfield may well be exploited by the Texan tandem. Although Balty’ is ranked 9th against the pass, they have been gouged through the air of late. If Carr is to take a step forward in his development… it’ll be this week. *NOTE: I like both Johnson and Davis as “Flex” starts. Baltimore has surrendered a shocking 106 points over the course of the last 4 games.


"MUST START RUNNING BACKS"

Larry Johnson: LJ and tribe go on the warpath and will try to saddle the Broncs’. That, my fantasy friends, will be no easy task. Denver fields a top 5 run D… and a bottom 3 passing D. Predicated upon the strength of his inspiring play… and make no mistake, Larry Johnson HAS grasped the feature back reins and… umm, ran with ‘em, he demands to be started each and every week. But again, much like last week… temper your expectations for Johnson as he’ll be running up against perhaps the best ‘backer corps in the league.

LaDainian Tomlinson: The Chargers and their CASH-MONEY runner draw the “Joke-land Raiders” this week. The ‘Faders” are bad against the run (allowing almost a C-Note and 20), worse against the pass (almost 215 per), and the sad and sorry news for them… RB LaDainian Tomlinson (213 total yards, 3 TDs) is a one-man wrecking crew. Bolt’ passer Drew Brees is looking for a bounce-back game after imploding (215, 3 picks, 0 TDs) against the Redskins last week, the Black & Silver will likely have no answer for TE Antonio Gates, and while another Touchdown trifecta is a bit ambitious… LT stacks 6’s like dinner plates. Look for 160 total yards and 2 TDs Sunday.

Edgerrin James: Much like Indy’s unquestioned leader Peyton Manning, Edge’ is a rock-solid start Sunday against the defensively-challenged Titans. James failed to reach the End-Zone for the first time in 8 games last week… look for the heart and soul of the Colt offensive machine to start a new streak Sunday. QB Peyton Manning may direct the Colt O… but there is no question that James is the engine that makes it work! Every phase of the team’s system starts with the run, and the play-action is so damn effective because Edge’ is so damn effective. Look for 115/1-2 Sunday. The Titans have allowed an average of 4 YPC… but of 28 TDs scored against them, only 6 have come on the ground. That may, however, say more about Tennessee’s terrible Air defense.

Steven Jackson: Washington stood idly by as Bolt’ back LaDainian Tomlinson rolled up an ill 180+/3 afternoon on them last week. With San Diego Charger QB Drew Brees apparently unable to distinguish between the teams’ Uni's, it was up to the powerful back to salvage the day. And salvage LT did. This week, with the top 2 Ram QBs sidelined by injury, the same will be asked of physical Steven Jackson. After S-Jax’ struggled to find a rhythm against the Cardinals during the Week 11 tilt, the dude certainly got his groove on last week against the horrendous Texan run D. Oddly, the team was operating from a deficit for much of the game, thus the Rams were forced to go pass-heavy. Nevertheless, last week’s “Must Start” candidate acquitted himself remarkably well, rumbling for 110 yards and a touch’ on 25 totes. This week, against a Redskin team that looked more like a herd o’ human turnstiles against the aforementioned “LT,” look for Jackson to enjoy modest success. With a 3rd-string QB calling St. Louis’s shots the ‘Skins will, naturally, stack the line with a linebackin’ “Welcome Wagon.” It will fall to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to force the Redskins back off the line. Because of Fitz’s relative inexperience… Steven Jackson is an iffy play Sunday.

Shaun Alexander: Against the Packers last week, Phildadelphia stood up and served notice that, as Monty Python once put it, “I’m not quite dead yet.” Well… yeah, you are, and the ‘Hawks will put the final nail in the Eagle coffin… they’ll drive a stake through the softly beating playoff heart… they’ll stomp the still …. you get the point. Allowing 115+ on the ground, look for “Alexander the Great” to hop back on the multi-TD train.

SUSPECT STARTS: LaMont Jordan: Oakland locks horns with San Diego Sunday, and the #2 ranked Bolt’ run D is stin-GY! The Bolts’ did, however, allow Redskin runner Clinton Portis 110 total yards on 30 touches last week. If QB Kerry Collins can get something… ANYTHING going through the air, LaMama’ may find some room to roam. WR Jerry Porter dropped a sure TD pass last week, if both he and Randy Moss can step up their games… Jordan will be an immediate beneficiary.

Willis McGahee: “What’choo Talkin’ ‘Bout Willis” has seen his production fall of a cliff. McG’ hasn’t eclipsed the century mark since Week 8, and has accomplished the feat only 4 times all season. Worse still, Willis hasn’t found the ‘6 Point Promised Land” in 5 weeks. Although Miami has been gracious to opposing RBs, allowing them to notch in excess of 120 yards each week, QB J.P Losman hinders McGahee’s productivity. Foes stack the box, forcing Losman to try and beat ‘em. And, aside from a curious 14-3 Week 10 W over KC, the strategy has worked. While I would have a hard time sliding Willis over to “Reserve,” if you’ve got a better option… use him.


"SECOND TIER STARTERS"

Thomas Jones: Green Bay can stop neither the run nor the pass. However, with baby Bear Kyle Orton limited… and it remains to be seen whether or not incumbent QB Rex Grossman will supplant Orton once he’s healthy enough… Chi-Town’s O relies upon a brutish run game. Look for Jones, who ran his butt off against a solid Tampa Bay team last week (123 total yards on 28 touches), to see a lot of work Sunday. A line of 110/2 is NOT out of the question for this grizzled Bear. *NOTE: With Jones still nursing an assortment of nicks and knocks, #2 back Adrian Peterson could see some action.

Rudi Johnson: Pittsburgh will be tough Sunday, especially coming off of a painful loss in front of a national Monday Night audience. However, Edge’ reeled off 110+ in that game and with Carson’s cast of pass catching characters playing lights-out Football… the Steelers will have to allot their defensive resources VERY carefully. Again, keep your fantasy hopes for Johnson modest… but a day of 85/1 is certainly within reach.

Clinton Portis: St. Louis? St. Louis? Look, I still don’t believe that Portis’s slashing style and the ‘Skins blocking style mesh. However, against what is in essence a squad of practice dummies… Portis is an attractive start.

Carnell Williams: People... people, New Orleans allows almost a buck-40 on the ground. ‘Nuff said.

Curtis Martin: New England is just riddled with injuries, and they allow almost 120 rushing yards per. LB Tedy “Wanna” Bruschi is helping to bolster the middle now that he’s back in some semblance of Football shape… but Martin is looking to re-affirm the Jet brass’s faith in him. With all the talk of drafting Reggie Bush, Reggie Bush, Reggie Bush, Martin’s motivated. But then again- C-Mart is ALWAYS motivated. “Gang-Green” is now “Gangrenous;” they are infected and they reek. If QB Brooks Bollinger can force the Patriots to respect the pass… Martin will leap to the advantage.

SLEEPER STARTERS: Jamal Lewis: Wait! This just in: Houston is flat-out bad! Jamal Lewis may well have shaken loose of his fantasy lethargy after last week’s 110+/1 effort. If QB Kyle Boller can minimize his turnovers (he had 3 last week) and make use of WR Derrick Mason and TE Todd Heap, Lewis stands to tattoo the Texans. *NOTE: With Boller back at the helm, TE Todd Heap has regained his Roto-relevance. Fresh off an 80+/2 TD game, there are few better starts at the position this week.

DeShaun Foster: While Foster wasn’t a fantasy juggernaut with 77 rushing yards against the Bills last week… the "fantasy cognoscenti" (those in "the know") took note of a very interesting development; Foster recorded 23 totes to incumbent Stephen Davis’s 6. No doubt, Stephen Davis is stumbling and slowing down. While he still retains a Bloodhound’s nose for the stripe… he no longer possesses wiggle and he has about as much “juke” as George Bush. Foster has soft-hands, a suite of moves, and a 2nd gear. Playing the Falcs’ and their terrible ground defense within the friendly confines of Home this week, look for Foster to hang a C-Note on a unit that permits 115 rushing yards per.

Ricky Williams: Dude! The Bill run D is B-A-D bad, ceding almost a “buck fitty’ plus” (150+) per contest! While sticky Ricky has shared tokes with… I mean “totes,” with rook’ runner Ronnie Brown, Williams has recorded 165 yards over his past 2, and averaged 5 ½ yards per carry (1 TD) over that span. Making the most of his touches, Williams has ripped off long runs of 34 and 23 yards in recent weeks, indicative that his speed is back. Always tough to bring down, Williams and his beard are both great “Flex” starts against a ghastly-bad Bill run D this week.

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