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.
The Browns' injury report this week will again list TE Kellen Winslow, Jr. This time instead of "Out-undisclosed", Winslow will be listed as "Out-pain in the neck." Winslow is healthy enough to play, but the Browns have suspended him for mouthing off about the way his illness was handled. The Browns never said what his illness was and eventually some salacious rumors about swollen private parts filled the information void. Winslow has now identified the illness as a staph infection. There have been other cases of staph infections in Cleveland over the years, which makes the intrigue around the Winslow case ... well more intriguing. Steve Heiden will start in Winslow's place this week against Jacksonville.
The New England running back situation continues to be a mystery. One thing did clear up, however. Laurence Maroney was placed on IR, so you can cut him in all leagues (my colleague Tom Casale predicted as much on our show last week). Sammy Morris had a huge day last week, but he hurt his knee and now he's not practicing. If Morris is plays, he is a great choice against St. Louis. If he's out or too hurt to start then LaMont Jordan could play a big role. Or Kevin Faulk. Do your homework Sunday morning before you play any New England running back. This is starting to look like "Broncos-East."
Saints RB Reggie Bush had his left knee scoped Tuesday. Bush injured the knee returning a punt on Sunday against the Panthers. Bush will be out at least two weeks, but if the reports of cartilage damage are true, it could be a lot longer. Aaron Stecker figures to get some playing time while Bush is out. Deuce McAllister's stock goes way up as he figures to take a more prominent role in the offense.
Barring a setback, Eagles RB Brian Westbrook will return this Sunday against the Falcons. Westbrook broke a couple of ribs against the Redskins in week 6 and has had two weeks off to recuperate. The Eagles are also looking to get WR Kevin Curtis back Sunday. Curtis has not played at all this season, recovering from a sports hernia. This is bad news for Reggie Brown owners. Brown figures to slide into a backup role with Curtis starting opposite rookie DeSean Jackson.
Tampa Bay RB Warrick Dunn suffered a pinched nerve in his back last Sunday and it looks like he will miss this week's game against the Cowboys. Cadillac Williams is not quite ready to come off the PUP list, so that makes Earnest Graham the sole rushing threat against Dallas.
Wide receivers in the news: Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin should be ready to return this Sunday against the Panthers. Boldin missed two games after suffering a sinus fracture against the Jets in week 4. San Diego WR Chris Chambers is back practicing and almost certainly will play Sunday in London against the Saints. Chambers missed two games with an ankle sprain. Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery is nursing a shoulder injury and could be a dreaded game-time decision Sunday against the Chiefs.
In IDP news, the Cowboys placed SS Roy Williams on Injured Reserve, ending his season. The Cowboys will also be without CB Adam "Pacman" Jones for four weeks. The troubled Jones was suspended for alcohol abuse. The Patriots put Rodney Harrison on IR due to a torn quad muscle. This is probably the end for the 35-year old safety.
Kansas City placed both Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard on IR this week. The Chiefs lost their top two quarterbacks to season-ending injuries in last week's 34-10 loss to Tennessee. Tyler Thigpen will start against the Jets with Ingle Martin backing him up.
The news in Kansas City goes from bad to worse. The Chiefs will be without RB Larry Johnson again this Sunday. The team suspended him for off-field infractions. Kolby Smith will get the start for the Chiefs, but he has little value in a game without a viable quarterback to protect him and against a good run-defense.
The Chris Perry experiment is over. Perry did not last even half a season after the Bengals handed him the starting job in training camp. Castoff Cedric Benson replaces Perry as the starter in Cincinnati. Perry should be cut in all formats.
I love what Giants RB Brandon Jacobs has been doing lately. He has six touchdowns in his last four games and he's reeled off 20+ yard runs in four of his six games. Nevertheless, I can't see him doing that against the Steelers' defense. Actually I don't expect much offense at all in the Steelers/Giants game. It's a contest between the best and fourth-best defenses in the NFL. The Steelers will probably go with a RBBC with Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore, neither of which would be a good play against New York.
Sit all your Bears, Broncos, Packers and Vikings this week. All are on a bye. No Matt Forte, Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Aaron Rodgers or Adrian Peterson this week.
Tampa Bay QB Jeff Garcia was outstanding against the Seattle last week, throwing for 310 yards and a TD. Garcia will keep the starting job whether or not Brian Griese is ready to return. Garcia has a good match-up at home against the reeling Cowboys. Wide receivers Ike Hilliard and Antonio Bryant are good plays against the depleted Dallas secondary. Tampa Bay's lack of depth at running back will mean that Graham will get nearly all of the rushing attempts against the Cowboys. Basically, anything in a red and pewter uniform will be a good play on Sunday.
Patriots QB Matt Cassel threw for only 185 yards Monday night, but three of his passes went for touchdowns against Denver. Cassel has another favorable match-up, this time against the 29th ranked Rams defense. Cassel is a decent bye-week replacement for Cutler or Rodgers owners.
San Francisco QB J.T. O'Sullivan has had three bad games in a row. However, those games were against good defenses: New England, Philadelphia and the Giants. Sullivan's job is on shaky ground, but he's in luck -- the 49ers face the Seahawks this week. O'Sullivan had his best game of the year against Seattle in September, throwing for 321 yards and a TD.
Houston RB Steve Slaton and Ahman Green have a great match-up against Cincinnati's 31st ranked run defense. Green has worked his way back from fantasy irrelevance -- Last week he had 14 carries as Slaton's caddie. While Slaton is a great play against the Bengals, Green is at least a viable fantasy option.
Although officially the Jacksonville starter, Fred Taylor, is a second-banana to Maurice Jones-Drew in fantasy. Taylor has been spotty this season, but this is the week that all the stars will be aligned. He is well-rested, coming off a bye and is facing Cleveland's 26th ranked run defense. It's time for Taylor's first touchdown of the season.
The Jets defense is a fantastic play against the Chief's junior varsity team. The Jets will pitch a shut-out against the Tyler Thigpen/Kolby Smith led Chiefs. Jets RB Thomas Jones will have the game of his life against the Chiefs -- even better than his 159-yard romp through Oakland's defense last week.
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!