This week should provide some explosive fantasy performances, but the matchup to watch is the Giants hosting the Ravens, where you know there will be a collision for the ages when Brandon Jacobs is met by Ray Lewis along the goalline. It hurts already.
Since every team has enjoyed its bye already, we're back to the full state of games, so your first stringers should all be available. Knowing this, wide receivers dominate this week's top starters since they'll likely be your toughest weekly decisions the rest of the season. Well, that and there are still some worthy of being used on the waiver wire.
Mark Bradley, WR, Chiefs
There's no coincidence that the Chiefs have been scoring more and losing by less, since incorporating Bradley, late of the Bears, into the offense. With Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez both commanding defensive attention, Bradley has been able to average six catches and over 60 yards per game in his last three contests and even tossed a TD two weeks ago. Kansas City has lost all three games, but have kept them very close, losing by a total of weight points. Look for the much improved Tyler Thigpen to go deep to Bradley, extending his streak of games with a 30-yard pass or longer to three.
Jason Hill, WR, 49ers
Although there's no relation between them, there certainly is chemistry between San Francisco's second-year receiver Hill and it's new (old) quarterback, Shaun Hill. In Monday night's game in Glendale, Hill clearly was the Niners best receiver, making seven grabs for 84 yards. Whenever there's a quarterback change there's usually a receiver who benefits from extensive work on the second unit with the new QB. It appears that the Hills are experiencing just that for Mike Singletary's and Mike Martz's theoretically high-powered offense. With Arnaz Battle and Josh Morgan out this week the Hills will have lots of opportunities to produce at home against the Rams and their NFL-worst scoring defense.
Michael Jenkins, WR, Falcons
The combination of Matt Ryan to Roddy White has been one of the league's most potent this season, but with the rookie QB looking better and better each week, he's started to share the wealth, which has meant improved numbers for the fifth-year Jennings, who stands just 137 yards behind his career high. Since mid-October he's averaging more yards per game and has scored more touchdowns than T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Jerricho Cotchery, Hines Ward and Greg Jennings. He'll be running through a Broncos defense that will be missing D.J. Williams, Nate Webster, Marlon McCree and, likely, Champ Bailey, and should keep his hot streak going.
Bobby Engram, WR, Seahawks
Much of the Seahawks' offensive woes this season can be blamed on the loss of Engram early and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck later. The two have played just one game together this season, connecting for seven of Engram's eight catches and all 61 of his yards in a blowout loss to the Giants. This week they'll be reunited at home against the Cardinals, who have averaged two TD passes allowed per contest, and given up at least two in each of the last four games.
Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers
The old adage is that there are no bad wins in the NFL, but try telling that to Delhomme owners, who last week were victimized by one of the most disappointing single-game performances in recent memory. Carolina's returning quarterback was absolutely dismal against an Oakland team in complete disarray, tossing four interceptions and only one touchdown. The Panthers won the game, but those fantasy owners who had faith in Delhomme didn't. This week the toothless Lions, averaging 30.8 points per game allowed, while giving up the league's third-most passing touchdowns, travel to Charlotte, where the Panthers average 27 points per game and are undefeated. This should give Delhomme a much needed mulligan.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts
While listed as the third receiver on the Colts depth chart, Gonzalez clearly has been Peyton Manning's second pass -eceiving option behind Reggie Wayne, hauling in 38 passes for 438 yards, with at least four catches in each of the last five games. Gonzalez was shut down by the Texans in his worst performance of the year (one catch in just two targets) but expect Manning to get Gonzalez more involved against a very suspect secondary.
Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins
A key component in the early days of the Wildcat offense, mainly as a decoy, Williams has become more of a weapon for the new-look Dolphins, rushing for touchdowns in two of the last three weeks and running over the Seahawks for 105 yards (including a 51 yard scamper) last week. In three of the last four weeks the Raiders run defense has been awful, allowing Thomas Jones (159), Michael Turner (139) and DeAngelo Williams (140) to run wild on them. In the fourth game, the Ravens tandem of Willis McGahee and Ray Rice split carries for 122 yards. Look for Williams and backfield-mate Ronnie Brown to march up and down the field at will this week.
Matt Cassel, QB, Patriots
With no byes left you probably shouldn't be playing Cassel at all, but especially not Thursday against the red-hot Gang Green, who have been harassing quarterbacks to the tune of 31 sacks, second in the NFL, and four interceptions over the last two games. Cassel is already the NFL's most-sacked quarterback and has never played in inclement weather, so the forecast calling for cold rain and sleet in Massachussetts makes him someone to let watch the Thursday night game from your bench.
Donnie Avery, WR, Rams
Following a brief surge after coach Jim Haslett took over, the Rams fortunes have gone back into the gutter. After looking like the second coming of Isaac Bruce against the Pats three weeks ago, Avery has been held to just five catches and 55 yards in the two games since, mainly due to the struggles of Marc Bulger and the absence of Steven Jackson, who is still struggling with a damaged quad. You should sit him even against the Niners.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Broncos
There's been a lot of wishful thinking on the waiver wires this week as owners scramble to pick up the Broncos rookie fullback, whom they're hoping will be the new lead back for the team. However, Denver ranks just 18th this year on the ground, and the 6-foot-2, 250 pound former blocker for Felix Jones and Darren McFadden rushed for only 959 yards in four years at Arkansas, making him the back of last resort. Further clouding the situation is former starter Selvin Young, who, if healthy, will carry the load plus this week's addition of former Bronco TatumBell who looks to get some carries in Atlanta. The most likely scenario is a big game from Jay Cutler and Tony Scheffler, and 35 yards and a goal-line try or two for Hillis as part of a committee. Wait a week to assess the situation better.