Posted: Wednesday November 8, 2006 9:51AM; Updated: Wednesday November 8, 2006 9:51AM
STEVE MCNAIRRavens AT Titans McNair should be pumped to face the franchise he played for during his first 11 NFL seasons. With Brian Billick calling plays the last two weeks, Baltimore scored 61 points against the Saints and the Bengals, and McNair threw for 404 yards and two touchdowns. The Titans allow nearly two TD passes per game.
BEN ROETHLISBERGERSteelers VS. Saints Roethlisberger threw for 433 yards last week against the Broncos, but he also tossed three interceptions (the third time he has thrown three or more picks in a game this season). Since the high-scoring Saints will make Pittsburgh pay for any turnovers, look for Big Ben to hand the ball off a lot.
JON KITNALions VS. 49ers With TD tosses in six straight games and at least 250 passing yards in five of his last six starts, Kitna is becoming a terrific week-to-week play. Last year against the Niners, current Detroit offensive coordinator Mike Martz's QBs (Marc Bulger and Jamie Martin) combined for 716 yards and three TDs in two games.
ELI MANNINGGiants VS. Bears The younger Manning would normally merit a start against a tough D. But with wideout Plaxico Burress suffering from back spasms and his backup, Tim Carter, all but invisible against the much softer Texans last week, Manning won't have the weapons to attack the Bears the way he would want to.
DREW BREESSaints AT Steelers Over his last three games Brees has thrown for nine TDs, the second most prolific stretch of his career. (He had 10 in three games in 2004.) Expect Brees, buoyed recently by excellent pass protection, to match Jake Plummer's Week 9 performance against the Steelers (227 yards and three TD passes).
BRETT FAVREPackers AT Vikings The Vikings are solid against the pass (eight TDs allowed, nine interceptions in eight games). Also remember that Minnesota coach Brad Childress was with the Eagles when they held Favre to 148 yards per game in their last four meetings. Expect his defensive assistants and players to watch those films this week.
RONNIE BROWNDolphins VS. Chiefs So good to have you back, Ronnie. Brown thrashed the league's most respected D for 157 yards last week. It was his second impressive performance in three games -- not bad for a guy who was on the trading block in many leagues. He'll have an easier go against K.C., against whom he ran for 95 yards and a TD in '05.
THOMAS JONESBears AT Giants Traditionally, time-shares resolve themselves by about Week 8. Chicago isn't so traditional, so Jones owners need to be wary of Cedric Benson, who's making the most of his carries and has as many TDs as his running mate. Plus, New York has held its last two opponents' starting backs to less than 50 yards.
JOSEPH ADDAIColts VS. Bills In the clash with the Patriots last week Addai was called upon 18 times while his nominal time-sharer, Dominic Rhodes, got four touches. More important, Addai got the goal line carries, once the exclusive property of Rhodes. The Colts have shown confidence in Addai, and you should too, especially against lowly Buffalo.
TRAVIS HENRYTitans VS. Ravens The Titans don't figure to challenge Baltimore's stout run defense -- which has allowed 69.2 yards per game -- so Henry can go back to the bench despite having had a few solid games. Moreover, even if the Titans were facing a less formidable foe, you would still have to be aware of backup LenDale White, a threat for PT.
COREY DILLONPatriots VS. Jets Dillon's last two years haven't been his best, but against AFC East-rival New York he has run for four TDs in the last three meetings. Dillon, who bounced back from his near-benching against the Vikings in Week 8 with two TDs against the Colts, is worth gambling on versus the Jets, who rank 30th against the run.
STEVEN JACKSONRams AT Seahawks Forget Jackson's dislocated finger, it's his history against Seattle that should make you think twice about starting him. In five games over three years, he has never cracked 80 yards (he averages 68 as a starter), and he was held to 56 yards in the Rams' 30-28 loss to the Seahawks three weeks ago.
ROY WILLIAMSLions VS. 49ers Williams has either gained 100 yards, caught a TD pass or done both in five of his last six games. His 89.9 receiving yards per game ranks in the top five among all wideouts. As for the Niners, until shutting down the Vikings last week (91 passing yards), they had surrendered 15 passing touchdowns.
LAVERANUES COLESJets AT Patriots Only Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, Marvin Harrison and Javon Walker have 100-yard games this year against the Pats. Coles's performance in Week 2 (six catches for 100 yards and a TD) seems like a long time ago, however. In the next six games he averaged 59 yards and scored but two touchdowns.
ERNEST WILFORDJaguars VS. Texans One benefit of falling on the depth chart: If the backup QB is pressed into service, he's usually very familiar with the other backups. That's the case for Wilford, who connected with David Garrard against the Titans for two TDs and figures to be similarly involved against Houston assuming Garrard gets the start.
KEYSHAWN JOHNSONPanthers VS. Buccaneers In Week 3 Johnson torched ex-coach Jon Gruden for 97 yards and a TD, but that was before the Bucs signed Philip Buchanon to provide secondary depth. (Starter Brian Kelly, who missed that game, is now on IR.) Deep routes still kill the Bucs, but Johnson usually operates across the middle.
MARTY BOOKERDolphins VS. Chiefs The former Bear gathered in a TD for the second straight week, contributing to Miami's unfathomable win in Chicago on Sunday. Kansas City has trouble against second and third receivers, having allowed TDs to the likes of Kevin Curtis, D.J. Hackett and Nate Washington this season.
CHAD JOHNSONBengals VS. Chargers As QB Carson Palmer struggles with his mechanics, Johnson's numbers suffer. The outspoken one was muted again against Baltimore, catching a mere four passes for 32 yards. San Diego's league-leading pass rush surely won't let Palmer get too comfy, which will mean another frustrating day for Johnson.
OWEN DANIELSTexans AT Jaguars The Jacksonville front four will ratchet up the pressure, which means that Texans QB David Carr will be looking for a quick release. That usually means more balls for the tight end. Daniels, a leggy rookie from Wisconsin, has been a favorite target for Houston QBs under duress, and he already has one TD against the Jags this year.
JEREMY SHOCKEYGiants VS. Bears Here's a stat line Shockey can only dream about: four catches, 41 yards and a touchdown. No tight end has hit any of those marks against the Bears this year. (Opposing team's starting tight ends are averaging 16.5 yards.) Nickelback Ricky Manning Jr. has been a hawk -- he has four picks -- and Chicago's linebackers are speedy enough to tail Shockey.
JOHN KASAYPanthers VS. Buccaneers The last time these teams met, in September, they chased each other up and down the field, stopping just long enough for Kasay to boot four field goals, each longer than 45 yards. Tampa's D hasn't improved much since, especially with nagging injuries slowing corner Juran Bolden. That could mean more scoring chances for Kasay.
NICK NOVAKRedskins AT Eagles When Novak was signed to spell injured kicker John Hall, he became one of those rare midseason additions who might help a fantasy team. Sure enough, after kicking a 47-yard game-winner against Dallas, Novak made a name for himself. But he has also missed three of five kicks in his last two games, including a 35-yarder -- so his is not a name worth remembering.
FALCONSVS. Browns A good fantasy game from Atlanta typically involves a few sacks, some picks and a low score by its opponent. That shouldn't be too difficult here, even without defensive end John Abraham (groin injury). Cleveland QB Charlie Frye has gone down 29 times this year and is second in the NFL in picks; his team puts up a terrible 16.46 points per game.
CARDINALSVS. Cowboys Arizona has cobbled together excellent fantasy stats through turnovers -- the Cards are second in the NFL in fumble recoveries and have nine interceptions. But Dallas has had a swagger on offense lately, and QB Tony Romo has been protective of the football, with one pick in two starts. In this game, tough D isn't in the Cards.
BEWARE OF BUST
BRANDON LLOYD WR REDSKINS AT Eagles Lloyd's performance against Dallas last week (two catches for 26 yards) wasn't anything to get terribly excited about. But it could have been, and that's what's intriguing. In his first game as Washington's feature wideout (Santana Moss sat out with a bad hamstring, an injury that is likely to persist), Lloyd got a starter's allotment of passes thrown his way. Problem is, they didn't all show up on the stat sheet. There was the dazzling 37-yard grab he made over cornerback Anthony Henry that was called back because of a holding penalty at the line of scrimmage. Lloyd also had a shot at a deep option pass thrown his way by Antwaan Randle El, but he was interfered with, again negating a prospective gain. Against the Eagles, who have played just three games with their ideal defensive backfield in place -- and likely won't this week -- expect Lloyd to make the most of whatever comes his way.
DAMON HUARD QB CHIEFS AT Dolphins Kansas City coach Herm Edwards has sworn that he'll return Huard to the bench as soon as starting QB Trent Green recovers from a concussion. We suggest that you make the same move, but a little earlier. Huard has been a fine fill-in for Green, peaking with three TDs against the Rams last week. But he'll have to elevate his play even more to repeat that performance against a tough Miami pass defense that's coming off a huge statement game. Against Chicago last week the Dolphins were ferocious, sacking QB Rex Grossman three times. They allowed one TD, but that was overshadowed by their picking off Grossman three times. The Chiefs present an offense similar to the Bears': a dangerous tight end and a slew of B-level receivers complementing a dedicated running game. Since such an attack didn't pose much of a problem for Nick Saban's defense on Sunday, Huard could be in trouble this week.
IS HE FOR REAL?
FISH OR CUT BAIT?
DAVID GARRARDQB JAGUARS Garrard's three-touchdown, 177-yard dismantling of the Titans (and his mistake-free showing against the Eagles a week earlier) puts him on some fantasy radar screens. (This despite coach Jack Del Rio's vehement reaffirmation of Byron Leftwich as his starter.) However, Garrard's performance against Tennessee is the best you can expect from the fifth-year backup, especially while leading a ground-dominated offense like Jacksonville's. Even if all the chips fall Garrard's way, he's not worth picking up unless injuries have left you desperate.
CHAD PENNINGTONQB JETS It's no coincidence that Pennington's shaky performance two weeks ago in Cleveland (11 of 28 with two interceptions) occurred with breezes gusting up to 25 mph. Although he's been surprisingly effective this year (1,558 yards, nine TDs, eight interceptions), Pennington's throwing arm, twice reconstructed, will be severely tested when winter gales are howling, especially in the New Jersey wind tunnel he calls home. With the Jets' next five games to be played outside and in cold weather, it's becoming too risky to count on him to lead your team.