Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery skipped practice on Wednesday. The sore hamstring that hindered him last Sunday (1 catch for 4 yards) could force him out of Sunday's game against the Bills. David Clowney would start for Cotchery. Clowney had 4 receptions for 72 yards against the Dolphins Monday night.
Detroit WR Calvin Johnson hurt his knee early in last week's Steelers' game. He was unable to practice on Wednesday or even walk normally. The news was not all bad for Detroit -- Matt Stafford returned to practice and split QB snaps with last week's starter, Daunte Culpepper. Stafford's knee will probably be well enough by Sunday to play against Green Bay. However, without Johnson, Stafford is not a fantasy consideration.
Denver RB Correll Buckhalter is practicing again after sitting out last Sunday with an ankle injury. Unfortunately for Buckhalter, rookie Knowshon Moreno performed well in his place, rushing for 88 yards against the Patriots. Buckhalter's touches will be sporadic against San Diego on Monday night.
Steelers RB Willie Parker practiced without limitations on Wednesday. He will suit-up against the Browns on Sunday. Normally Parker would be a great play, but you have to wonder if he will assume a much lesser role with Rashard Mendenhall fine performance. Mendenhall is a better choice against Cleveland than Parker. IDP leaguers: Troy Polamalu returns after missing four games with a knee injury.
I thought LaDainian Tomlinson would bounce back from a disappointing 2008 season. Sorry! The early returns are not good: two games played and only 70 yards rushing. LT owners will have another rough week as he faces the Denver defense this Sunday. The undefeated Broncos have the No. 2-ranked defense in the NFL.
Seattle RB Julius Jones has slipped into a familiar pattern: starting the season strong and then tapering off. Jones has been lousy in back-to-back games. His combined line for Weeks 4 and 5 is 23 rushes for 59 yards and a 2.6-yard average. This week he faces an Arizona defense that's been surprisingly good against the run and gosh-awful against the pass. The Cardinals' defense is ranked No. 1 against the run and No. 32 against the pass -- that's hard to do. Seattle's game plan will be pass-heavy, making Jones a non-factor. Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck and his receivers will feast on Arizona's defense. Hasselbeck, WR Nate Burleson, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh and TE John Carlson are the strong plays.
All the strong plays for this week are updated daily by our own Mighty Max, so make sure to check them out.
Remember to rest all your Cowboys, Colts, Dolphins and 49ers this week: it's their bye week.
Eagles rookies WR Jeremy Maclin and RB LeSean McCoy are getting progressively greater roles in the Philadelphia offense. Last Sunday, Maclin started for the injured Kevin Curtis and put up huge numbers against Tampa Bay: six receptions for 142 yards and two TDs. Maclin is a great play against Oakland's weak defense even if Curtis plays. McCoy's touches were on a par with Brian Westbrook's last week, which is a great sign for McCoy owners and a disturbing omen for Westbrook owners. However, against Oakland everyone is a strong play. Last week they surrendered 110 yards to another backup running back, the Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw.
The Panthers running game has been a disappointment this season, but this is the week that they break out. Starter DeAngelo Williams and backup Jonathan Stewart are facing one of the worst defenses in football in Tampa Bay.
Attention Peyton Manning owners: Do you need a quarterback this week? Try St. Louis' Marc Bulger versus the Jacksonville 30th-ranked defense or Washington's Jason Campbell versus the Chiefs' NFL-worst defense. Denver's Kyle Orton has a tougher match-up (San Diego) than Bulger or Campbell, but he has more weapons. Orton threw for 330 yards against the Patriots last week including 2 TD passes to WR Brandon Marshall. Marshall has now scored in three straight games.