It's amazing what questions you get when you just ask

Quick hitters

  • Kansas City's Holmes will miss his fourth straight game this week, fueling speculation that the consensus No. 1 fantasy pick in 2004 won't be back this season. The fact that Holmes – who still leads the NFL with 14 rushing TDs – isn't even testing his injured knee at this point doesn't bode well for a return. And, at 4-8, the Chiefs don't have much to play for. K.C. will make do with a backfield combo of Derrick Blaylock and diaper dandy Larry Johnson, who broke out in Week 13 for 118 yards on 20 carries. Add him if you can.

  • Last week I touched on Buffalo's big turnaround, and the corresponding ascent of Willis McGahee. There's a similar scenario playing out in Carolina, where there's no quit in the Panthers and no stopping Muhsin Muhammad or Nick Goings. Muhammad has 462 yards receiving and six touchdowns in the last four games, all Carolina wins. No WR in the game has been a better fantasy play over the past four weeks. Goings, meanwhile, is one of only two backs (along with Edgerrin James) to top 100 yards rushing in each of the past three games. He's been the fourth-best fantasy RB over that time period.

  • A few other notes on recent production. In the past three weeks:

    * Brian Westbrook has scored more points than any other fantasy RB, followed by rookie Julius Jones. Tiki Barber ranks 25th in that span, Deuce McAllister 31st, Faulk 38th.

    * Two receivers from Indianapolis (Marvin Harrison, Brandon Stokley), Cincinnati (Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh) and Oakland (Ronald Curry, Jerry Porter) all rank in the top 10 in scoring. The combined scoring of Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in the last three games wouldn't crack the top 20.

    * Peyton Manning has passed for more TDs (13) than David Carr, Michael Vick, Byron Leftwich or Chad Pennington have for the season.

    * Kerry Collins is third in scoring among QBs. Carson Palmer is fourth (with nine TDs and a 71.1 completion percentage), Tom Brady 22nd and Jake Plummer 23rd.

    Starting nod

    Quarterback: Aaron Brooks, New Orleans – Brooks has at least one TD pass in all but one game this season. He catches a break this week against a Dallas defense that gave up 398 passing yards against Seattle on Monday night.

    Running back: Corey Dillon, New England – 100 or more rushing yards in six of his last seven games, and he needed just one carry in the second half to hit 100 on the nose in Week 13. His former team in Cincy, which ranks 31st against the run, doesn't have a chance of stopping him; Julius Jones, Dallas – Off to a great start (five TDs in two games), facing a sorry defense. I like this matchup.

    Wide receiver: Derrick Mason, Tennessee – Facing a K.C. defense that's given up 1,014 passing yards and 6 TDs through the air in its past three games. Drew Bennett hogged all three Titans' TD catches last week. Derrick's due; Antonio Bryant, Cleveland – The Dallas castoff has two TDs and is the first Browns receiver to go over 100 yards receiving in back-to-back games since 1989. The way the Browns' running game is shaping up, he should make it three straight.

    Tight end: Jermaine Wiggins, Minnesota – It'll be touchdowns all around when the Vikes face Seattle's disastrous defense.

    Kicker: Josh Scobee, Jacksonville – Who are we kidding? Just pick a kicker. I just felt like mentioning the 60-yard bomb Scobee kicked at the end of the game last week vs. Pittsburgh. Unbelievable. Would have been more unbelievable if he had made it.

    Defense: Denver – Somebody please explain how the Dolphins scored 32 points last week. No way that happens again.

    Ravens report

    Good news for Heap and Taylor. The Giants have given up four touchdowns to tight ends in their last three games, so a healthy Heap should be good for roughly six catches, 75 yards and a TD. That's a conservative estimate. On the ground, New York has given up two TDs to featured backs in four of its last five games. Chester Taylor is set up for a nice day against the league's 26th-ranked run defense.

    On the flip side, no Giant stacks up favorably against a Ravens defense that has absorbed some well-deserved criticism this week. Jeremy Shockey has 10 catches for 99 yards and 1 TD in three games since Eli Manning took over at quarterback. The lack of a credible passing attack has also hurt Tiki Barber, who's riding a three-game touchdown drought and is coming off his worst outing of the season (15 carries, 38 yards vs. Washington). Amani Toomer? Don't even think about it. But, for a cheap laugh., you can try saying his name like Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Kindergarten Cop.' Do eet!

    Dave Alexander is a sports producer at baltimoresun.com. Send questions or comments to dalexander@baltimoresun.com
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