That Fantasy Guy returns from an unexpected haiku hiatus to answer your questions in time for the Week 9 kickoffs ...
Matt, Arlington, Va.: Like Cadillac owners everywhere, I was disappointed with Carnell Williams in his return from injury last week against San Francisco. I'm wondering just how well he has recovered, or even if his early-season success was a flash in the pan. My alternatives for the spot in the lineup I'd planned for him to occupy are our very own Jamal Lewis or Chester Taylor. Jamal looked a little better against Pittsburgh last week but his abysmal numbers didn't improve. Chester scored, but I wonder (like many Ravens fans) if Billick will ever really give him more carries. Among the three - Cadillac, Jamal and Chester - who would you start this week? I have to choose one.
I'm understandably gun-shy on Williams after his 20-yard effort against the Niners. I'm hearing he's back - whatever that means - but he's also starting to smell a little fluky. The Bucs worked him hard early, but he's now 20th in rushing yards, behind Ronnie Brown and Reuben Droughns, and has only two TDs - pretty average.
Of course, I'd gladly take average over Jamal Lewis at this point. Still, for this week - and this week only - I'm going to reluctantly recommend Lewis over Cadillac. Why, you wonder? Well, Williams gets a tough assignment against Carolina's No. 2-ranked run defense, and I'm not convinced he's healthy. Plus, I think a light went on for the Ravens last week. They found out that if you back the defense off with an occassional first-down pass, it's not such tough sledding in the box. And wouldn't you know - Lewis actually broke a couple of nice runs. Next stop - end zone.
I wish I could get behind Taylor, because I'm enamored with his talent. I'm just not sure the Ravens like him as much as I do, or convinced they know how to use him.
Philip: I have 3 RBs available for week 9, but I keep swapping them around in my lineup - Kevin Jones, Chris Brown and Jamal Lewis are my three. Right now I have the first two penciled in, but I do feel like Lewis - at home, after a more inspired game last week - might want to continue to prove wrong all those media-types requoting his comments about his contract situation. Who would you start here?
Take it from a media-type who's never wrong - I start by penciling in Jamal. In seven career games against the Bengals, he's never been held under 100 yards. Not once. He's averaged 135.4 rushing yards in those matchups and scored seven touchdowns. The orange and black should be all the inspiration Lewis needs.
After that I take Jones over Brown, because Minnesota is just so generous against the run, and because when the Lions commit to the run, they're actually pretty good. In the four games in which Jones has more than 15 carries, he has gained 385 yards and three TDs. Detroit is 3-0 this season when Jones rushes the ball at least 20 times. Brown's not bad, but too fragile for my taste despite a tempting matchup against Cleveland.
Scott: Who to start? Leftwich against the Texans D or Kerry Collins vs. the Chiefs?
Not saying I don't like Leftwich vs. the Texans - just added him myself after my super-savvy first-round sleeper pick, Daunte Culpepper, didn't quite pan out. But Kerry Collins is to the Chiefs defense what Phil Collins is to sentimental synth-pop - he owns it. Collins (Kerry, not Phil) threw for 560 yards and five touchdowns in two games vs. K.C. last season. Moss or no Moss, he goes off this week. I can feel it coming in the air tonight. Whoah-oh.