It was brought to my attention this week -- both by a very distinguished reader named M.L. Baxter Jr., and also by this guy I know who sells veterinary pharmaceuticals on the black market -- that it was unclear if this column simply grouped players into tiers, or if each position was listed in a ranked order as well. And my response to both was ... oh sheesh, I don't think I ever addressed that, did I?
Well, if I learned anything from Mike Singletary this week (other than the downside to de-pants-ing myself in a crowded locker room), it's that it's never too late to address a problem. Yes, each position is not only tiered into three distinct groupings, but they are in fact ranked in order from most to least productive for the upcoming week. I apologize for the miscommunication, and to make it up to you, I've identified a few guys who are absolutely, 100 percent guaranteed to live up to my projections, and I've even provided you with exact numbers to expect for Week 10.
Drew Brees @ AtlantaKurt Warner vs. San FranciscoPhillip Rivers vs. Kansas CityJay Cutler @ ClevelandAaron Rodgers @ MinnesotaChad Pennington vs. SeattleJake Delhomme @ OaklandDavid Garrard @ DetroitPeyton Manning @ PittsburghMatt Ryan vs. New OrleansSage Rosenfels vs. BaltimoreBrady Quinn vs. Denver
Donovan McNabb vs. New York GiantsEli Manning @ PhiladelphiaBrett Favre vs. St. LouisJoe Flacco @ HoustonRex Grossman vs. TennesseeGus Frerotte vs. Green BayShaun Hill @ ArizonaTyler Thigpen @ San Diego
Mark Bulger @ New York JetsMatt Cassel vs. BuffaloTrent Edwards @ New EnglandBen Roethlisberger/Byron Leftwich vs. IndianapolisSeneca Wallace vs. TennesseeKerry Collins @ ChicagoJaMarcus Russell vs. Carolina
Rosenfels: 250 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Filling in for Matt Schaub over the past two seasons, Rosenfels has proven himself to be a more than competent backup. He's played in 11 games over the course of this year and last, and has thrown at least one touchdown in each appearance (18 total). Rosenfels versus Baltimore doesn't seem like a great matchup on paper, but I've got a little secret for you ... the Ravens defense isn't as fearsome as Ray Lewis' eyes make them seem. Over their past three games, they've given up an average of 247 passing yards and have allowed four scoring strikes through the air. The QBs in those games? Pennington, Russell and Derek Anderson. Hardly a murderers' row of renowned signal callers.
The only downside to starting Rosenfels is that while he can spice up your lineup with big yardage numbers and scores aplenty, his judgment can be a bit ... terrible, for lack of a better term. To put it nicely, he turns the ball over like a near-sighted, rookie point guard (19 in those 11 appearances). Still, if you need a bye week replacement, an injury fill-in, or just something to make your lineup a little more palatable, Rosenfels would be a welcome addition to your roster.
Quinn: 200 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
In all fairness, the dismal performance of the Browns offense can't be attributed solely to Anderson. Braylon Edwards has seemingly been on a mission to oust Anderson by coating his gloves with KY Jelly before each game. Kellen Winslow has missed two games and hasn't exactly been "Mr. Productive" when he's been out there, the line has been banged up, and they've faced an incredibly tough schedule.
That said, the Browns needed to make a change, and it couldn't have come at a better time for Quinn. With the Broncos coming into Cleveland, he'll have the full support of his hometown crowd and the benefit of playing against Denver's leaky defense going for him. Quinn's strength dating back to college has been his pinpoint accuracy -- for what it's worth, he's completed 65.4 percent of his passes during seven preseason games -- and the Broncos just happen to be allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete a league-high 70.6 percent of their passes.
There'll be some struggles ahead for Quinn, there's no doubt about that. But this Thursday, at home, in primetime, and against a battered defense with very limited video of him to prepare with, Brady and his bunch are going to put on a fantasy show.
This may be the booze that's still filtering through my system after a weekend spent tailgating at the Georgia/Florida game talking, but I've got this weird feeling that the Bears will upset the Titans this weekend. I guess that would mean Grossman has a serviceable day ... It may make you uncomfortable to see McNabb placed so low, and that's fine. You won't hurt my feelings by not taking my advice, but just know that he only had three games last year where he failed to throw for at least 200 yards, and two of them came against the Giants ... If you're a fan of surprising stats, I've got a doozy for you ... the Colts have given up just two passing touchdowns on the year. That's what happens when you can't stop the run ... Just in case you forgot, Culpepper hasn't been a viable NFL QB since 2004, although "Megatron" does have a bit of "The Freak" in him ...
Adrian Peterson vs. Green BayLaDainian Tomlinson vs. Kansas CityMichael Turner vs. New OrleansFrank Gore @ ArizonaBrian Westbrook vs. New York GiantsMarshawn Lynch @ New EnglandThomas Jones vs. St. LouisChris Johnson @ ChicagoMatt Forte vs. TennesseeDeAngelo Williams @ OaklandJamal Lewis vs. DenverWillie Parker vs. IndianapolisBrandon Jacobs @ PhiladelphiaTim Hightower vs. San FranciscoLenDale White @ ChicagoRonnie Brown vs. SeattleJamaal Charles @ San DiegoSteve Slaton vs. BaltimoreKevin Faulk vs. BuffaloRyan Grant @ Minnesota
Deuce McAllister @ AtlantaMaurice Jones-Drew @ DetroitJonathan Stewart @ OaklandRay Rice @ HoustonWillis McGahee @ HoustonPeyton Hillis @ ClevelandRyan Torain @ ClevelandAaron Stecker @ AtlantaKevin Smith vs. JacksonvilleBenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. BuffaloLe'Ron McClain @ HoustonJerious Norwood vs. New OrleansJulius Jones @ MiamiMaurice Morris @ MiamiLeon Washington vs. St. LouisFred Jackson @ New England
Joseph Addai @ PittsburghDominic Rhodes @ PittsburghSteven Jackson @ New York JetsAntonio Pittman @ New York JetsMewelde Moore vs. IndianapolisCorrell Buckhalter vs. New York GiantsRicky Williams vs. SeattleRudi Johnson vs. JacksonvilleFred Taylor @ DetroitSelvin Young @ ClevelandJustin Fargas vs. CarolinaDerrick Ward @ PhiladelphiaDarren McFadden vs. Carolina
Lynch: 21 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown.
This is really just more of a reassurance prediction for those Lynch owners out there. He's coming off a week in which he set career lows in every possible rushing category (16-yards on nine carries for an average of 1.8 yards-per-attempt), and is entering a matchup against a good Patriots defense. Throw in the alarmingly increased involvement of Fred Jackson in the offense, and I've noticed some "Beast Mode" enthusiasts wavering in their confidence of the dreadlocked runner.
The worry is unwarranted.
For starters, Lynch missed most of the second quarter last week because of nausea and light-headedness (hangover?), and he was facing one of the top rush defenses in the Jets. With Edwards and the passing game struggling over the past few weeks, the Bills will send their revved-up Porsche SUV of a running back crashing into the Patriots line time-and-time again. And as we allegedly know, Lynch never stops after hitting somebody.
Hillis: Eight carries for 30 yards and a touchdown to go along with five catches and another 40 yards through the air.
Before you write Hillis off as the next Patrick Cobbs, hear me out. With Michael Pittman and Andre Hall out for the year, and Selvin Young still dealing with a gimpy groin, much of the fantasy focus is being directed at Ryan Torain, and that's understandable.
Or is it?
In reality, injuries have limited Torain to just one football game in the last year, and very little time on the practice field. Pittman said Torain's "going to have to shake off the rust fast," and Cutler commented on the difficult challenge he'll face in trying to get prepared for a larger workload. Considering that Mike Shanahan has been using a committee approach all year, there will be some opportunities for Hillis, the rookie fullback out of Arkansas who burst onto the scene with seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown last week. His versatility has been the subject of praise from both Cutler and the coaching staff, and Hillis actually led the Razorbacks in receiving during his senior year while being used at numerous positions.
For those of you that have been around fantasy for awhile, the name Brad Hoover may ring a bell. I'm not saying ... I'm just saying.
Lewis is a great guy to have lurking on your roster as a possible RB2/Flex player. He's yet to top 90 yards, but has only been below 50 once. He's a reliable, steady, grind-it-out back that can be counted on to put up double-digit points in the right matchup. Like this Thursday against Denver with a first time QB behind center ... James didn't have a single carry of 30 yards or more in his two-and-half seasons as a starter for the Cardinals. Hightower accomplished the feat in his first ... Slaton put up 116 yards and a touchdown against the Titans and 118 total yards against Minnesota. He'll find a way to be productive against Baltimore ... I'm not sure if Addai is still hurt or has just developed a case of the "Maroney's", but he looked incredibly unsure about hitting the hole last Sunday against the Patriots. Rhodes looked like the better runner, though neither is startable against Pittsburgh.
Marques Colston @ AtlantaBrandon Marshall @ ClevelandAnquan Boldin vs. San Francisco|Larry Fitzgerald vs. San FranciscoAndre Johnson vs. BaltimoreCalvin Johnson vs. JacksonvilleGreg Jennings @ MinnesotaRoddy White vs. New OrleansRandy Moss vs. BuffaloBraylon Edwards vs. DenverTedd Ginn Jr. vs. SeattleLaveranues Coles vs. St. LouisJerricho Cotchery vs. St. LouisReggie Wayne @ PittsburghDwayne Bowe @ San DiegoPlaxico Burress @ PhiladelphiaDerrick Mason @ HoustonLee Evans @ New EnglandSteve Smith @ Oakland
Wes Welker vs. BuffaloBernard Berrian vs. Green BaySantonio Holmes vs. IndianapolisChris Chambers vs. Kansas CityVincent Jackson vs. Kansas CityEddie Royal @ ClevelandDonald Driver @ MinnesotaMuhsin Muhammad @ OaklandHines Ward vs. IndianapolisLance Moore @ AtlantaGreg Camarillo vs. SeattleTorry Holt @ New York JetsMichael Jenkins vs. New OrleansDonnie Avery @ New York JetsKevin Curtis vs. New York GiantsDeSean Jackson vs. New York GiantsSteve Smith @ PhiladelphiaNate Washington vs. IndianapolisRashied Davis vs. TennesseeAnthony Gonzalez @ PittsburghIsaac Bruce @ Arizona
Shaun McDonald vs. JacksonvilleReggie Brown vs. New York GiantsSteve Breaston vs. San FranciscoMarvin Harrison @ PittsburghKoren Robinson @ MiamiBobby Wade vs. Green BayAmani Toomer @ PhiladelphiaDevin Hester vs. TennesseeMark Clayton @ HoustonKevin Walter vs. BaltimoreBobby Engram @ MiamiDevery Henderson @ AtlantaJavon Walker vs. Carolina
Colston: 10 catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
Forget about Atlanta's shutdown of the Raiders. The entire Oakland squad is like a high-school senior sitting in seventh period on the Friday before spring break; just waiting for the bell to ring so they can get the hell out of town. The Falcons are a mediocre defensive unit at best. Also forget Colston's subpar performance since returning from a thumb injury. He's now had an extra week to get back in-step with Brees and is ready to re-establish himself as one of the premier receivers in the game.
So what happens when an angry dominator with a point to prove goes up against something with a false sense of self-confidence? Have you ever seen a bull that's been shocked by a cattle prod attack a rodeo clown? It's not pretty. And it's not going to be pretty when Colston repeatedly out cuts, out runs and out muscles Atlanta defenders for an entire afternoon. Unless of course you're a Colston owner. Then it will be the long-awaited, much anticipated, very deserved, beautiful beat down of a performance that you expected when you spent a high pick on the Saints star over two months ago. Your patience will finally be rewarded.
Ginn Jr.: Five catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.
One week he's on the cusp of becoming the dynamically gifted fantasy performer that everyone has expected. The next, he's on your league's waiver-wire. Two weeks ago, he popped off for seven catches and 175-yards. Last week it was three catches and 38 yards, so he might just be available in your league right now. In fact, if he is, go pick him up. Like, immediately. Go on, I can wait ... just don't get sidetracked googling inappropriate images (I know, it's tough).
Alright, you back?
Now let me fill you in on how you just pulled a fast one on your league mates. Ginn's long-term value for this season is spotty, that's been established, but this week against Seattle he's got a serious shot at a career day. I could cite the Seahawks' 258 average passing yards-per-game allowed, or the 13 touchdowns against only three interceptions as reasons for why Ginn is in store for a big game, but those numbers don't tell the whole story. No, the important figures are the league-highs in completions of over 20 yards (30), and passes covering 40-plus yards (8).
That susceptibility for giving up the deep ball is exactly what makes "Speedy Ginnzalez" a prime candidate to not only break the 100-yard barrier, but to hit pay dirt for the first time all season.
In case you missed Marshall's quote about Joey Porter, it bears repeating: "We hear stories floating around the league all the time about him, as far as him being in nightclubs, dancing with his shirt off like a girl, or in the playground getting beat up back in California ... he's soft." I know that's not fantasy related, but other than when Kris Jenkins called out Warren Sapp for having a stinky soul, it's my favorite all-time NFL diss. Couldn't help but mention it ... It's hard to find exact stats on this, but the last four true "number one" receivers to play against Oakland (Chambers, Mason, Cotchery, and White) have combined for just nine catches and 99 yards. Basically, whoever's matched against Nnamdi Asomugha is in for a tough day. That doesn't bode well for Steve Smith this week ... Clayton's four catch, 87-yard game last week was the first time he's been over 40 yards all season. I'll pass.
Antonio Gates vs. Kansas CityKellen Winslow vs. DenverDallas Clark @ PittsburghJeremy Shockey @ AtlantaOwen Daniels vs. BaltimoreTony Gonzalez @ San DiegoMarcedes Lewis @ DetroitKevin Boss @ PhiladelphiaBo Scaife @ Chicago
Greg Olsen vs. TennesseeVisanthe Shiancoe vs. Green BayZach Miller vs. CarolinaDesmond Clark vs. TennesseeAnthony Fasano vs. SeattleJohn Carlson @ MiamiBrent Celek vs. New York GiantsDonald Lee @ MiamiDavid Martin vs. SeattleDustin Keller vs. St. Louis
Alge Crumpler @ ChicagoBilly Miller @ AtlantaRobert Royal @ New EnglandVernon Davis @ ArizonaTony Scheffler @ ClevelandChris Baker vs. St. LouisTodd Heap @ HoustonBenjamin Watson vs. BuffaloMatt Spaeth vs. IndianapolisMichael Gaines vs. JacksonvilleL.J. Smith vs. New York Giants
Shockey hasn't done anything to warrant your belief in him, but there's something about this Saints/Falcons matchup that just screams 400 passing yards. Surely it wouldn't be a shock if Shockey went for 80 yards and a touchdown ... Any tight end that is at least somewhat involved in their offense is worth consideration against Detroit. A guy like Lewis, who's essentially the Jaguars number two receiving target, is definitely worth a start ... Since I called Boss out two weeks ago for being nothing but an over-hyped, waste of a tight end, he has seven catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns. My bad "K-Bo" ... I really don't know what to make of last week's out-of-nowhere game from Celek. He'll either have another 100 yard day, or fail to register a single catch against the Giants. My money's on the donut.