Glenn Graham's fantasy football picks

December 22, 2005|By GLENN GRAHAM

Play of the week

Carson Palmer, Cincinnati vs. Buffalo -- The third-year quarterback has been good all season and especially in the home stretch. Coming off last week's 274-yard, three-touchdown performance in Detroit, Palmer has now thrown 17 touchdown passes in his past seven games and at least two in six of them. The Bills' pass defense has steadily declined this season, and the Bengals are still hoping to earn a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

Position analysis

Quarterback

Starting nod -- Tom Brady, New England at New York Jets. Brady has the Patriots in playoff form, evidenced by the impressive work in last week's 28-0 win against Tampa Bay. He threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns, with the Patriots showing a good mix of pass and run.

Other solid options -- Jake Plummer, Denver vs. Oakland; Trent Green, Kansas City vs. San Diego; Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle vs. Indianapolis.

Take a seat -- Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh at Cleveland; Drew Bledsoe, Dallas at Carolina; Eli Manning, New York Giants at Washington.

Running back

Starting nod -- Thomas Jones, Chicago at Green Bay. The Bears turned to their workhorse even more in last week's frigid cold at home against Atlanta and he responded with a 91-yard, one touchdown effort. Look for him to carry the load again in Green Bay against a Packers defense that couldn't handle Ravens back Jamal Lewis on Monday night.

Other solid options -- DeShaun Foster, Carolina vs. Dallas; Jamal Lewis, Ravens vs. Minnesota; Corey Dillon, New England at New York Jets.

Take a seat -- Willis McGahee, Buffalo at Cincinnati; Reuben Droughns, Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh; Fred Taylor, Jacksonville at Houston.

Wide receiver

Starting nod -- Darrell Jackson, Seattle vs. Indianapolis. Returning to the lineup for the first time since Week 4, Jackson had a solid six-catch, 72-yard effort that included a touchdown against Tennessee last week. He should be even more productive Saturday at home against an Indianapolis defense that likely will rest a number of key starters.

Other solid options -- Rod Smith, Denver vs. Oakland; Hines Ward, Pittsburgh at Cleveland; Keenan McCardell, San Diego at Kansas City.

Take a seat -- Laveranues Coles, New York Jets vs. New England; Drew Bennett, Tennessee at Miami; Terry Glenn, Dallas at Carolina.

Tight end

Starting nod -- Randy McMichael, Miami vs. Tennessee. After making a touchdown catch in each of the first four games, McMichael has one in the past 10, leaving him with 51 catches for 505 yards. He could make amends Saturday with the Dolphins host the Titans, who yielded 53 receiving yards and a touchdown to Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens last week.

Other solid options -- Chris Cooley, Washington vs. New York Giants; Todd Heap, Ravens vs. Minnesota; Heath Miller, Pittsburgh at Cleveland.

Take a seat -- Dallas Clark, Indianapolis at Seattle; L.J. Smith, Philadelphia at Arizona; Jermaine Wiggins, Minnesota at Ravens.

Kicker

Starting nod -- Jeff Wilkins, St. Louis vs. San Francisco. With all the Rams' injuries, Wilkins has been their most reliable source of offense in recent games. Against a 49ers defense that ranks last in the league, the Rams should spend time in the red zone to give Wilkins more chances Saturday.

Defense

Starting nod -- Cincinnati vs. Buffalo: After clinching their first division title since 1990 last week, the Bengals will keep rolling with the underachieving Bills in Cincinnati on Saturday. The Bengals' defense has a league-high 42 take-aways, with three of its 30 interceptions coming in last week's 41-17 win at Detroit.

Last week's tab

Play of the week -- Domanick Davis, Houston: DNP.

QB -- Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle: 21-for-27 285 yards, 3 TDs.

RB -- Tike Barber, New York Giants: 249 total yards, 2 TDs.

WR -- Jimmy Smith, Jacksonville: 70 total yards.

TE -- Antonio Gates, San Diego: 29 total yards.

K -- Josh Brown, Seattle: 4 PATs for 4 points.

Defense -- Jacksonville: 1 interception, 2 sacks. glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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