I know I'm going to do this every week. And I know this feels like work. But I will be okay. And I hope I can transfer this advice so you can be okay.
The top 5 guys who are for real.
1. Cedric Benson (RB-Cin) The Packers were supposed to be this stout defense. They were supposed to shut down the Bengals. That didn't happen. Cedric Benson looked spectacular this week. He ran hard and ran well. I'm not saying he's a must start RB1, and he does have 4 games where you would be nigh suicidal to run with him. But that being said? He's gone from nearly out of football to on-field redemption, Thomas Jones style.
2. Laurent Robinson (WR-St. L) Somehow, you get the sense that Donnie Avery might not be the #1 receiver when the going gets tough. Not his fault. But either he's not healthy, or Laurent Robinson's receiver skills have developed trust with the quarterback who can't do it anymore. He's a lottery ticket play for this week. But he's strong as a WR3 right now, and maybe a WR2 in the second half.
3. Mario Manningham (WR-NYG) That sound you hear is the rush of everybody going to make a waiver claim on him. It never was a question of physical gifts with Manningham. And considering that he has the big trust in Manning? He's going to get some numbers this year. Sorry about your luck on a hot start if you need a WR.
4. Willis McGahee (RB-Bal) In this world of the running back tag team? The tag partner that you want is the one who gets the score. And Ray Rice? He's not getting the scores. Never let it be said that I'm not willing to admit when I'm wrong. But like when DeShaun Foster kept the Panthers starting job over DeAngelo Williams? Willis is the most improtant Raven runner.
5. Steve Smith (WR-NYG) Why? Because Hakeem Nicks is good, but with the physical gifts of Manningham, he's going to be lost in the shuffle. Or he's going to take a bite out of Manningham. One out of the two. Steve Smith is going to be a consistent, trusted force.
The top 5 Plug-ins
1. Kevin Kolb (QB-Phi) Kansas City has struggled with quarterbacks of competency this season. It doesn't even matter if Westbrook isn't healthy. You need an emergency QB? Pick up the Kolb Salad.
2. Tashard Choice (RB-Dal) If Barber is unable to go, you can expect to see Felix Jones with around 35-40 percent of the carries. And he could bust a big run off of the Panthers. However? Tashard is going to get the duration of the carries. And he is going to be hyperproductive. He ran hard and well versus the Steelers, Giants, and Ravens while Dallas collapsed around him. You need a runner? Obvious pun goes here.
3. Denver Defense You and I know that you have no reason to keep Denver's defense in a real scenario. But they've actually been pretty good so far. Now it's more scheduling gods than talent. But a game against JaMarcus Russell can cure all ills. I'd start them over the Colts or maybe the Cowboys or Chargers.
4. Nate Burleson (WR-Sea) Nobody really trusts Nate Burleson. He had a good week one. And disappeared in week 2. Suddenly? He's back on the wire in the wake of the Manningham/Smith/Sims-Walker based gold rush. If you missed on that and need someone to go this week? Burleson can help. The Bears can be thrown on.
5. Lynell Hamilton (RB-NO) Buffalo can be run on. Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas are hurt. You can safely keep Reggie Bush as the #3 WR/Sweep specialist. And that means Lynell gets all the run between the tackles. Watch this space, if Pierre is healthy? Never mind. But rush to grab him if he starts.
Five guys I have a bad feeling on...
1. Ryan Grant (RB-GB) Why? Because with Clifton out? The Packers line is in shambles. And if he tries to come back and he's limited? Then the Packers best running offensive value gets destroyed.
2. Carnell Williams (RB-TB) Why? Because his story was good but with three straight against the NFC East? The clock may strike midnight.
3. Donovan McNabb (QB-Phi) Why? Because he isn't anything beyond a marginal starter until Week 13. Sure, he could surpass projections, but it's a toxic environment for McNabb. Garcia, Kolb, and Vick are all people that Iggles fans have an affinity for.
4. Randy Moss (WR-NE) After the Bye? Five out of his next six games are really bad matchups. He's bound to get out on a bit of a run before the bye. You can shunt him off on some WR-starved team for great value.
5. Greg Olson (TE-Chi) It's kind of representative of the Bears in general. We have nothing established for the Bears. Not to say that they aren't a bad team, but they are a team where Cutler's running it by committee. And the supposed superstar may be doomed because of it. That being said? I'm not going to panic dump him until after Week 8. But it is a personal bad feeling.