Snap, Crackle and Pop is a weekly column that reviews the major injuries (Snap) and then projects both busts (Crackle) and sleepers (Pop) for the coming week.
What a shame. Houston TE Owen Daniels was on his way to a career year before knee surgery landed him on Injured Reserve. Daniels finishes 2009 with 40 catches for 519 yards and 5 TD. Joel Dreessen replaces Daniels in the starting lineup. Dreessen is not fantasy material.
Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin was M.I.A. in practice again. Don't expect to see him at any Wednesday practices for the foreseeable future. Boldin will have to rest his sore ankle as much as he can and save it for Sundays. Making things worse for Arizona, Steve Breaston is also hurt -- Breaston's sore knee limited him in practice. Expect Boldin and Breaston to play but at less than 100 percent against Chicago.
It's beginning to look like a lost season for Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez. The third-year receiver hurt his knee in Week 1 and has not been seen since. The original timetable was for Gonzalez to come back after the bye. Indy's bye was two weeks ago and Gonzalez' knee is no better. Rest or surgery are the only options for Gonzalez. There will be no rush to bring Gonzalez back before he's ready since replacements Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon are performing so well.
Detroit WR Calvin Johnson is practicing and has a much better chance of finally playing this Sunday in Seattle. The knee injury cost him two games. RB Kevin Smith was held out of practice on Wednesday with a shoulder injury. Check the Friday practice report to make sure Smith is back before considering him against Seattle. If healthy, Smith is no better than a flex option.
Eagles RB Brian Westbrook missed the rout of the Giants last week. He was held out due to a concussion the week before. He should be good to go against Dallas on Sunday. Westbrook will share carries with rookie LeSean McCoy as he has done for much of the season. Westbrook has had 15 carries in his last three games. McCoy has had 25 carries in those same games.
The injury news is a moving target. Be sure follow the practice reports on Friday and the up-to-the-minute advice from our super computer, Mighty Max.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan had a rough time last week against the Saints. True, he passed for 289 yards, but he was picked off three times and had one TD. Ryan has cooled off since a hot start to the season. He has a 5:7 TD to interception ration since week 6. Ryan faces a bad team this Sunday, but one with a good defense. Washington has the 2nd best pass defense in the league.
Kurt Warner is a shell of the quarterback that led Arizona to the Super Bowl last season. He has an 11:11 TD to interception ratio and only an 81.5 QB rating. Warner is no longer an automatic fantasy start. The injuries to Boldin and Breaston are part of the problem. Warner is not a good play on the road this week in Chicago.
Two of the best defenses square off on Monday night when the Steelers visit Denver. Downgrade all the running backs. In fact, it's hard to make a case for any of these guys: Rashard Mendenhall, Willie Parker, Correll Buckhalter or Knowshon Moreno.
Six more teams have their bye this week, though with the exception of Minnesota, they won't make a big dent in your fantasy lineups. The Bills, Browns, Jets, Raiders and Rams join the Vikings on the couch.
Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles gets the start in Jacksonville for the suspended Larry Johnson. Charles has performed well in limited opportunities over the course of two NFL seasons. His career numbers: 473 rushing yards on 90 carries for a 5.3-yard average plus 41 receptions for 392 yards. Against a poor run defense, like Jacksonville's, Charles is a good sleeper. In point-per-reception leagues, Charles is a great sleeper.
49ers QB Alex Smith was good against the Texans and then had a tough time against the Colts in his two starts. Things will be a lot easier for him this week against Tennessee's putrid pass defense. Smith's favorite targets will be TE Vernon Davis and rookie WR Michael Crabtree.
Giants WR Hakeem Nicks will start Sunday against the Chargers. Nicks is one of their few healthy wide receivers -- Mario Manningham, Sinorice Moss and Domenik Hixon have various aliments. Nicks has improved steadily this season and has had at least four catches in each of the last four games. RB Ahmad Bradshaw was electric in the early part of the season but has since faded due to a broken foot. RB Brandon Jacobs has reasserted himself and has a favorable match-up against the San Diego defense.
Fred Davis will be the Redskins' tight end while Chris Cooley rehabs his ankle. Cooley might not return this season so don't hesitate to grab Davis off of waivers. Davis had 8 receptions for 78 yards and a TD against Philadelphia in Washington's last game. Davis faces Atlanta on Sunday. The Falcons pass defense is ranked 31st in the NFL.
John Rakowski is a senior writer for SportsGrumblings.com, a fantasy sports portal. John is a 2007 winner of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for journalistic excellence, for his "Snap, Crackle and Pop" column. Please visit Sports Grumblings for all your fantasy football needs, so you can DOMINATE your league this season!