By Matt Kroeger
Maybe I’m completely oblivious, but did anyone else notice that the Browns are playing the Dolphins this week? Cleveland vs. Miami again…only on the gridiron and not the hard court. Talk about a coincidence. Thursday, the Miami Heat smashed the Cavs in Cleveland in such effortless domination. Can the Browns make up for the humiliation that came at the hands of Cleveland’s estranged son? Probably not. Peyton Hillis needs his Han Solo, Colt McCoy, for them to have a shot. But you never know.
QB: Tim Tebow (DEN). There’s been a lot of talk about the Broncos starting/playing Tebow, and I think it’s inevitable at some point. You know, because their team sucks. What’s disappointing is that the offense has actually played pretty well. The only problem is that Josh McDaniels is in love with the pass. Moreno has been running the ball with gusto since his injury, but they prefer to let Orton air it out 40 times a game, and he’s done admirably so far. They just can’t win any games. That said, at some point the Broncos are going to have to play Tebow, yes? If they fall way behind to the Chiefs, I think it’s a high possibility we will see the Mile-High Messiah (can we all agree this was the best nickname out there?) on Sunday. Also, what are the odds McDaniels is fired during halftime? First quarter? Gotta be high right?
Other options: Sam Bradford (STL, playoffs!), Jimmy Clausen (CAR), Jon Kitna (DAL)
(Last week: Cassel vs. SEA…22-32, 233, 4 int)
RB: Chris Johnson (TEN). Five yards…five yards last week. Chris Johnson, arguably the best running back in football, ran for five yards on seven carries in a home loss against the Houston Texans. If CJ doesn’t take that personally, I don’t know what will. I don’t even know who the Titans are playing this week (I’m told it is the Jaguars), but there is no way he runs for less than 100 yards. Fisher is going to feed him the ball, and Johnson is going to trounce through the opposing defense like a snowplow.
Other options: Jonathan Stewart (CAR), Jamaal Charles (KC, he will be here every week until he gets more carries), Bernard Scott (CIN, I have a good feeling about this one)
(Last week: Tolbert vs. IND…26 rush, 103 yds, 1 td)
WR: Blair White (IND). Collie is questionable, so White should get time in the slot. I expect Reggie Wayne to have a monster game, but White should get his fair share of grabs as well against a crappy Dallas pass defense. Hopefully, Peyton can get his rhythm back.
Or…the Colts will continue this suckfest. Ware and the other Dallas pass rushers will take advantage of the lack of Colts run game and sack Manning over and over again. Peyton will get flustered (as he has been the past several weeks) and throw up three more ducks to be easily intercepted. The 6-6 Colts never recover and definitively fall out of the playoff race once and for all.
Hopefully, Colts nation will be relieved on Sunday with a ferocious, dominant win. I think what all Indy fans want the most, though, is for Peyton to show some freaking emotion and leadership on the field. Get your guys in line. Refuse to lose. Get fired up. I’m not saying you have to channel your inner-Rivers and bitch out your teammates, but one thing I actually respected about Brady during the Pittsburgh game was that he was not going to let his team lose that game. He was visibly embarrassed after the pitiful Browns loss, and he responded in a big way. And right now, Brady is the MVP of the league. Obviously, that fluctuates wildly from week to week, but if Manning wants to salvage this season and a sliver of his self-respect, he will step up. And hopefully get the ball to Blair White!
Other options: Derek Mason (BAL), Terrance Copper (KC), Brandon LaFell (CAR)
(Last week: Rice vs. WAS…1 rec, 20 yds, BOOOO)
QB: Brett Favre (MIN). They shut down Big Ben last week. If they could do that to the Steelers’ QB, there is no chance Favre does well, especially if AP is out.
Other options: Jay Cutler (CHI, just a hunch), Aaron Rodgers (GB), Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
(Last week: Roethlisberger vs. BUF…22-33, 246 yds)
RB: Ray Rice (BAL). Against the best rush defense in the NFL? No thanks. 20 yards won’t cut it like it did in the first matchup between the Ravens and Steelers. I understand that Rice is an Always-Start guy, but if you have a viable option on the bench, I might consider using him. But then of course, Rice will probably reel in about 12 passes for a ton of yards just like Fred Jackson did last week, consequently lowering my Fantasy Advice Prowess from -285 to -400.
Other options: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE), Darren McFadden (OAK, boy he’s fallen off a cliff), Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC)
(Last week: Fred Jackson vs. PIT…12 rush, 59 yds, 5 rec, 104 yds, 1 td)
WR: Wes Welker (NE). I think this matchup takes the cake for Teams-Playing-Each-Other-That-I-Hate-The-Most. It’s right up there with Sox-Yankees, Lakers-Celtics-Heat (choose 2 of 3), and Coach K vs. greedy townspeople after his pot of gold.
Other options: Dez Bryant (DAL), Greg Jennings (GB), Vernon Davis (SF)
(Last week: Roddy White vs. GB…5 rec, 49 yds)