Week 6 brings a new series of questions to the table. The injury bug hit in full force this past week, forcing owners to find suitable replacements on the waiver wire for Deuce McAllister and a bevy of starting tailbacks.
As I read through the comments this week, a few themes emerged. When will the Colts get on track, and what's wrong with Peyton Manning? My colleague Brandon Funston addressed that question on this week's edition of Yahoo! Sports' NFL This Week .
A number of other quarterbacks take center stage for this week's trip into the mailbag, as owners want to know about Marc Bulger's prospects against those very Colts, whether Mark Brunell can keep his recent string of solid fantasy performances alive, and who's the better call between Matt Hasselbeck and Kerry Collins. Don't worry, I'll address questions about top tight end plays and receiver calls as well.
Let's open some mail.
It's hard not to plug in Gonzalez in this spot, considering how early you would have had to select him on draft day. I'm intrigued to see how different the Kansas City offense looks coming out of the bye week with the return of Willie Roaf to the lineup. However, I suspect his return does more for the running game with Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson looking to get back on track for big yards. Washington is stingy against the pass, having allowed a mere 178 yards passing per game and three total touchdowns. While the Chiefs may look to get Gonzalez more involved this week, it's a tough call against the Redskins.
I'd look to Troupe this week against Cincinnati. He's become a big target for Steve McNair, at a clip of 5-6 looks per week. In Week 5, Troupe was targeted 10 times and has already scored three touchdowns. He'll lose out on Looks to fellow TE Erron Kinney between the 20s, but it's his game in the red zone. The Bengals defense has been one of the surprises of the season, allowing only 188 yards per game and a shade under one touchdown. The key for the Titans will be to get the ground game rolling with Chris Brown. If they are able to move the chains a la Fred Taylor a week ago, Troupe will find room to operate over the middle.
I suffer from anxiety because of fantasy football and I'm feeling it right now. I don't know whether to start Marc Bulger or Jake Delhomme at QB. Bulger plays a tough defense, but has done wonders for me all year, and Delhomme plays a decent defense and has been inconsistent … So what should I do? Should I mention that I'm in second and play the first-place team? — Jake in Wisconsin
Though it doesn't look good on paper, I'd run with Bulger this week against the Colts. This game smells of an aerial war, with Peyton Manning and the passing attack looking to take advantage of a weak Rams defense. As such, Bulger will need to keep up. He's averaging 329 passing yards per game and 43 attempts per game. The absence of Mike Martz means that St. Louis will try to establish the run with Steven Jackson, but they'll find the going tough against a stout Indy run defense (104 yards per game, zero touchdowns). Another big day for Bulger is in the offing.
The Panthers will continue to push the running game with Stephen Davis (although it's possible that DeShaun Foster is unavailable for action). Additionally, the Detroit defense has played well in two home starts. Remember, they pitched a shutout to Brett Favre back in Week 1. I don't believe they'll be able to stop Delhomme, Steve Smith and company in the same manner, but I don't see a big day in their future, either. The reliance of the Panthers on a balanced attack makes Bulger the pick in this spot.
Marc Bulger, Mark Brunell or Steve McNair? Leaning towards Brunell because I'm worried about Indy picking and sacking (fumbles) Bulger and KC looks very weak against the pass. Standard Yahoo scoring .— Dan from Illinois
As I wrote above, I like the prospects of Bulger against the Colts for the fact that the Rams will pass early and often, even if Torry Holt gets held out. However, I think Brunell is set for a big week against the Chiefs. The Chiefs rank 30th against the pass at 273 yards and 1.5 passing touchdowns per game. Conversely, the Chiefs are allowing only 94.5 rushing yards per game and have surrendered only three rushing touchdowns thus far. That means another tough day at the office for Clinton Portis, and with the Chiefs expected to get the offense back on track after a bye week, Brunell will approach his current average of 41 pass attempts.
You may find yourself in a tough spot this week as the clock ticks toward kickoff on Sunday. Willie Parker will still be in the mix for carries against the Jaguars, but the specter of Jerome Bettis certainly limits his value. Bettis tallied 17 carries against Parker's 10 in his first game back on Monday night, and it's highly possible that scenario occurs again in what is expected to be a tight game. Bill Cowher clearly wanted his reliable veteran back in the game at crunch time. I expect for that to happen again.
As for Benson, the idea of him starting against the bottom-ranked Vikings defense (178 rushing yards per game) is certainly juicy. However, it's a difficult call as of this moment, as Thomas Jones hasn't been officially ruled out for this contest with his knee injury. But, even if he does give it a go, I suspect that you'll see more of Benson this week and that he and Benson will split the workload. With a more attractive matchup against a Minnesota team in disarray, I'd run with the rookie Benson.
Let's start in Oakland. Jerry Porter has certainly frustrated a great number of fantasy owners who expected a monster season opposite Randy Moss. Thousands of owners dumped him to the waiver wire heading into the Week 5 bye. That move seems premature given his past success and the fact that the Raiders still have the dreaded "P" word "potential" hanging out there. The maturation of Kerry Collins (zero interceptions thus far) has hurt the fantasy value of his receivers, as he's not reckless as he's been in the past. No risk, no reward. But, I think this is a good spot for Porter against the Chargers this week. The Chargers allow 240 passing yards and nearly 1.5 touchdowns per game.
With that said, I'd still turn to Kevin Curtis against the Colts. The Colts defense is strong, but the Rams will come out throwing. And, with the injuries to Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, Curtis remains in a starting slot. That means more Looks for him again this week. He's averaged over eight Looks per game thus far and has scored in two of the past three games.
I enjoy watching "NFL This Week" and I have done the unthinkable. I won a league a couple of years ago because of one Ahman Green but have now dropped him in favor of Jerome Bettis. I have Edgerrin James, Thomas Jones, Steven Davis, and now Bettis. Do you think it's absolutely crazy to dump Green? By the way, who will occupy Cris Carter's shoes next season when he becomes coach of the Minnesota Vikings? — David in Taegu, South Korea
First off, I'll let Cris know that you've officially put his name in the hat for the Vikings gig should Mike Tice be relieved of his duties. I have no idea how strong his interest is in joining the coaching ranks, but I know he certainly has his thoughts on the sub-par efforts of Minnesota to date. Perhaps we'll get him to field this one on next week's show?
As for your question on Green, it's awful difficult to release a player who is the unquestioned starter for a team. I would have tried to shop him in the trade market first, but what's done is done. He's failed to reach 100 rushing yards in 10 straight games, and has yet to find the end zone this year. Additionally, he's still nursing a knee injury and runs behind an offensive line that's still trying to find its way. Add to that a young defense, and you have the reason that Brett Favre is throwing 37 passes per game.
With the Steelers, you know that Bill Cowher will rely heavily on the running game and that they're not going to get blown out. As such, the running game will never take a backseat to Ben Roethlisberger and company. The Bus is always in the mix around the goal line, and his Week 5 performance showed he still has quick feet between the 20s. I think your move is just fine, as all four of your backs provide possibilities for fantasy payoffs. The same can't be said for Green right now.
Should I start Eli Manning against Dallas after his bye week, or should I start Steve McNair after his breakout game? — George in York, PA
I'm sticking with young gunner Eli Manning this week against the Cowboys in Dallas. McNair is a safe pick, as you know you're getting in the range of 200 yards and a touchdown pass each week. However, he's not likely to turn in a monster performance against Cincinnati. I think Byron Leftwich showed where the ceiling was in last week's 23-20 Jacksonville win. I do believe there's a shot for the Giants to put up points. I don't expect this one to be as wide open as the big game he had against St. Louis, but I expect Manning to turn in a 250-yard, two-performance. The Cowboys proclivity to give up the deep ball will be tested by the new power combo of Manning and Plaxico Burress, and the Dallas defensive front has been solid against the run (95.8 yards per game with only two touchdowns).
Should I start Matt Hasselbeck against the pitiful Texans or Kerry Collins against the Chargers this week? — Chris in Louisville, KY
You're in an enviable position this week, as both Hasselbeck and Collins have solid matchups in their sights. I like the Seahawks to score points against the Texans. Joe Jurevicius and Jerramy Stevens have filled in admirably for starters Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram and should have fine games again this week. But I fear Shaun Alexander stealing the TD thunder away from the passing game this week. He scores in bunches, and a shot at the winless Texans on the national stage Sunday night is attractive for this All-World tailback.
Therefore, I'm looking at Collins against the Chargers. The Raiders are looking to get Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, and the passing game clicking in full gear. San Diego has been stellar against the run, having allowed a shade under 94 rushing yards per game. That means that Collins will take to the air, where San Diego has been susceptible to big plays and defensive lapses. Collins is averaging a solid 272 yards per game and 1.5 passing touchdowns per week, and has turned starting tailback LaMont Jordan into a threat in the passing game. This game has all the elements to become the shootout of the week, and that means a huge day for Collins.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in this week. I appreciate the notices of the goings on in your respective leagues, the trials and tribulations faced as you march to the league title, and of course, hearing of the decisions that have you agonizing over the waiver wire. Remember, it's all about finding that missing piece to the puzzle to take your lineup from good to great. And, that's just a waiver wire pickup or trade away.
Good luck this week!