MATT LEINARTCardinals VS. Chiefs
Don't think that the rookie played his way into this job; Kurt Warner fumbledit away. Coach Dennis Green considered naming Leinart the starter for theFalcons game last week, then flinched and went back to Warner. Leinart now getshis first start against the league's No. 2 pass defense (121.7 yards pergame).
CHAD PENNINGTONJets AT Jaguars
His 2006 honeymoon will end against Jacksonville, the same team that finishedhis '05 season with a rotator cuff injury. In that game Pennington threw twopicks, fumbled twice and was sacked four times. With a raging Jaguars defensefacing a porous Jets line, this one could get ugly too.
MARK BRUNELLRedskins AT Giants
It's official: He's no longer a fantasy QB worth starting. Even his NFL-record22 straight completions two weeks ago added up to ho-hum fantasy stats--261yards, one touchdown. Playing New York doesn't help. In his last three startsagainst the Giants, Brunell has averaged 89.7 yards passing.
October 9, 2006
J.P. LOSMAN BillsAT Bears
An overachieving fantasy free-agent pickup can ultimately put your team introuble if you play the hot hand too long. Losman is fumble- and sack-prone,which could be disastrous against the Bears (10 fumbles recovered, 15 sacks).Bench Losman this week, but keep him ready: Buffalo faces Detroit next.
WILLIE PARKERSteelers AT Chargers
San Diego is nearly impossible to run against, so this will be the acid testfor a rested Pittsburgh offensive line that has cleared the way for an averageof 114 rushing yards per game. The most yards any RB has gained against theChargers this year is 35, by the Raiders' Justin Fargas in Week 1.
EDGERRIN JAMESCardinals VS. Chiefs
He has run for more than 100 yards in three of his four career games againstKansas City, but they all came while he was with the Colts. Arizona will havetrouble moving the ball against a Chiefs defense that hasn't allowed atouchdown since the second quarter of the season opener.
TATUM BELLBroncos VS. Ravens
The trick for Denver will be finding a way to get Bell into space so he can usehis speed. Defensive tackles Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata do a great job ofclogging the middle for Baltimore, and the rest of the D is at its best inpursuit. Jake Plummer has to have a great passing day to open it up for Bell.That's not likely.
THOMAS JONESBears VS. Bills
In back-to-back weeks Buffalo has shackled the opponent's No. 1 back, holdingKevan Barlow of the Jets to 31 yards rushing and the Vikings' Chester Taylor to23. Jones got off to a slow start before a 98-yard, two-touchdown game againstthe Seahawks on Sunday. Don't count on a repeat performance.
It's difficult toeven imagine sitting McGahee, who leads the league in rushing (389 yards)through four weeks. (The Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson has a higher per-gameaverage but fewer total yards, having had a bye in Week 3.) But if you havealternatives, this is a good time to let McGahee ride the pine. The Bears'defense may not be No. 1 in the league against the run, but it has heldopposing featured backs to just 65.8 yards per game with no touchdowns.Buffalo's offense is predicated on McGahee's getting chunks of yardage on firstand second down and alleviating the pressure on largely unproven quarterbackJ.P. Losman. With few other options to worry about (unlike in Week 1, whenChicago faced Brett Favre's Packers and gave up 110 yards to Ahman Green), theBears will hold McGahee, who scored his first touchdown last week, to half ofhis 97.3-yard average.
ANTONIO GATESChargers VS. Steelers
Blasphemy, you say? Well, the Steelers' D has an uncanny ability to containtight ends, having allowed only five catches and 56 yards this year. Plus, withPhilip Rivers running a superconservative San Diego offense, Gates hasn't beenmuch of a factor (10 receptions). Play an alternative if you have one.
DALLAS CLARKColts VS. Titans
Where is this guy? The big-play threat is part of a three-man rotation, sharingcatches with Ben Utecht and Bryan Fletcher. Because Marvin Harrison and ReggieWayne will be busy early, staking the Colts to a commanding lead over thehapless Titans, don't expect Clark to be called on much this week either.
JOEY GALLOWAYBuccaneers AT Saints
As if you needed another reason to sit Galloway, who's been all over the board(zero catches, then nine, then one), here are two more: Bruce Gradkowski, theBucs' new starting QB, has thrown only six regular-season passes; and theSaints have allowed only one wide receiver to gain more than 90 yards thisseason.
BERNARD BERRIANBears VS. Bills
His stats are misleading. In Weeks 1 and 2 his fantasy points came almostentirely on long touchdowns. In Week 3 Rex Grossman was without favorite targetDesmond Clark. TE Clark and WR Mark Bradley (another burner) should be backfrom injuries, leaving fewer opportunities for Berrian against Buffalo.
DREW BENNETTTitans AT Colts
With Vince Young at QB for Tennessee, be wary of starting Bennett. Hedisappeared (two catches for 10 yards) in Young's first start on Sunday,because the rookie passer frequently looked for the short, easy tosses to thetight end. Against Indy, the Titans are likely to play it just as safe, callingunderneath routes and going at the Colts' weakness--their run defense.
MIKE FURREY LionsAT Vikings
No one should have been surprised last week that Detroit offensive coordinatorMike Martz knew the soft spots in the Rams' D. Furrey had an eight-catch,82-yard, two-touchdown day against St. Louis and will be a popular pickup, butnew owners missed their chance. Minnesota has held No. 2 wideouts to 45.3 yardsper game.
RIAN LINDELLBills AT Bears
It's unlikely that Buffalo will mount much of an attack against Chicago. TheBears kept the reigning NFC champ Seahawks out of the end zone last week in a37-6 win, and no Bills player would be mistaken for a Matt Hasselbeck, a DeionBranch or any of the other Seattle standouts. Lindell could get a field goaland an extra point or two for Buffalo on Sunday, but he has next to no chanceto score in double digits.
Last week's Washington-Jacksonville game had shaped up as a defensive strugglebut instead turned into a 36-30 shootout. This one looks like a shootout fromthe get-go, with New York in a must-win situation and coming off a bye. Lookfor Eli Manning to carve up the Skins even more than Byron Leftwich did.
WEEK 5 INJURY WATCH
REUBEN DROUGHNS RB Browns (shoulder)
CEDRIC HOUSTON RB Jets (knee)
ORLANDO PACE LT Rams (concussion)
MARCUS STROUD DT Jaguars (ankle)
ADAM VINATIERI K Colts (groin)
For the latest injury news, go toSI.com/football/nfl/injuries.
BYE WEEK Bengals, Falcons, Seahawks, Texans