In Gus we trust. The Vikings quarterback is just one of the unlikely heroes who will show up big this week's fantasy scoresheet. Let's take a look at the field.
Gus Frerotte, QB, Vikings: Coming off his best game of the year with 222 yards, a touchdown and (finally) no interceptions, the journeyman passer gets the plum of all assignments, facing the Lions, a team in disarray that has allowed 662 yards and five TD passes in two home games against division rivals Aaron Rodgers and Kyle Orton. Also aiding Frerotte's long-term prospects are the return of all-world tackle Bryant McKinnie from suspension last week, the first time the Vikes lost no sack yards in a game this season; and a receiving corps bolstered by the improving health of Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice.
Jason Campbell, QB, Redskins: We thought that Campbell would thrive in Jim Zorn's offensive system, but never imagined that he'd turn into one of the most efficient passers in recent history. He hasn't had a huge game yet (321 yards, 1 TD vs. New Orleans is the closest), but St. Louis, even with new coach Jim Haslett in place, is a great opponent against which to break the schneid. Campbell's NFC East quarterback compadres Donovan McNabb and Eli Manning each threw for three TDs when facing horned helmets. Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El will also thrive against one of the leagues leakiest secondaries.
Matt Cassel, QB, Patriots: Amazingly for a USC quarterback, Cassel will be making his first start as an adult in Southern California, and although the Chargers have one of the league's best collection of defensive players, they've given up the most passing yards and touchdowns thus far. Look for Cassel to feed Wes Welker and Randy Moss a steady diet of balls and also don't be surprised to see tight end Benjamin Watson make an impact.
Le'Ron McClain, RB, Ravens: When playing without safety Bob Sanders the Colts can simply not stop the run, and against Baltimore on Sunday Sanders will be watching from the sidelines again. That should mean a big day for the Ravens runners, especially the brute of a back, McClain, who has become one of the league's top goal-line specialists, scoring touchdowns in each of the last three games including scored versus the tough Steelers and Titans in the last two.
Thomas Jones, RB, Jets: Before the bye week Brett Favre's Jets lit up the Cardinals for six scores through the air, but following the bye week look for coach Eric Mangini's bunch to re-establish Jones and the running game against a Bengals defense that has been steamrolled for 171.0 yards per game, fourth most in the NFL. An added bonus is the sage advice for New York's offensive line supplied by Alan Faneca, who has faced his old AFC North rivals 20 times.
Devin Hester, WR, Bears: Already the best return man on the planet, Hester is developing his receiving skills enough to now be considered a weekly fantasy threat. Last week he had a career high five catches against the Lions and has now caught touchdowns in two straight games. The Falcons (3-2) have been much better than expected on both sides of the ball but have been very beatable through the air, allowing nine TD receptions in five games. Look for the red-hot Kyle Orton to hook up with Hester for a score (and tight end Greg Olsen) again this week.
Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks: Following two straight big games against division rivals, Jones was quite chatty, yet pedestrian, against the World Champs on the East Coast last week. Back at home Jones will be able to back up his blather, facing the Packers who have allowed 100-yards rushing with a touchdown to four of the five starting tailbacks they've faced, with the lone exception being Kevin Smith of the Lions.
Johnnie Lee Higgins, WR, Raiders: Quick -- who is the Raiders top wide receiver this season? Prior to the season there's no way in hell that you would've guessed Higgins, but the speedy special teams maven tops the Silver and Black wideouts in catches (five tied with Ashley Lelie) and yards (119) while averaging 23.9 yards per catch. Although new head coach Tom Cable is known for stressing the run, you'd better believe that he'll appease Al Davis by stretching the field, and he has no better weapon to do it than Higgins. That said, the Raiders and Higgins especially has a very favorable matchup against the Saints, who have made fantasy stars out of Arnaz Battle and Bernard Berrian the last two weeks and are without starting cornerback Tracy Porter, who went on injured reserve this week.
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: Addai is on a three-game scoring streak in which he's crossed the goal-line four times, but has the toughest assignment in the league going up against the brutal Baltimore Ravens. Start him if you must, but if you're on the fence about starting someone from your bench, don't hesitate to pull the man who was likely your top pick.
Domenik Hixon, WR, Giants: Hopefully you followed the advice to play Hixon for his coming out party last week, when he caught four balls for 102 yards and a TD playing in place of the suspended Plaxico Burress in a half before being knocked put of the game with a concussion. He's still someone to hold onto, but with the return of a very motivated Burress, plus the head injury, it's best to keep the iffy Hixon on your bench. However, he will be heard from again.
Cardinals defense: The last time these two teams faced each other was in 2006, when Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton combined for 200 yards and two touchdowns; Tony Romo, making his third career start, threw for 308 yards, and Marion Barber and Julius Jones combined for 110 yards and a score. Both teams are in the top 5 in scoring (Dallas 2nd, Arizona 5th) and this game shapes up to be a shootout, which doesn't bode well for the team playing without Anquan Boldin.
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