- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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I think it's obvious.
We need a 24-hour security detail around Jeff Garcia.
Look, my job is to study trends, stats, past performance, upcoming matchups and data to predict the future. And it's patently clear, from all my number-crunching, that stud quarterbacks who date hot chicks are a high injury risk.
Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen. Now Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson. Considering that Jeff Garcia is married to former Playmate of the Year Carmella DeCesare, it's clearly a matter of time before he's in a hospital room watching "One Life to Live." (Ha! Didn't see that plug coming, did you? What can I say? As you can see to the right, I'm on my way to being a soap opera star!)
Whatever religion or higher entity you believe in, that entity is just and wise. You're not allowed to be so physically gifted as to be a starting NFL quarterback, have a smokin'-hot significant other and stay healthy. It's that simple. Maybe two out of three, but not the clean sweep.
Matt Leinart dates Paris Hilton and a really hot USC women's basketball player and, if the Internet is to be believed, half of Arizona, and what's he doing these days? Tim Couch married Playmate of the Year Heather Kozar, and he's not even in football anymore. All he has is a ton of money from his signing bonus and a Playmate wife. Think he's happy? When was the last time A.J. Feeley, he of a long-term relationship with Heather Mitts, was relevant? And every time I hang out with my friend Jenn Sterger, I write a crappy column. OK, crappier.
So what's the flip side of the coin? Well, say what you want about Kurt Warner's wife Brenda, but the dude went from grocery-store bagger to Super Bowl MVP and has hung around the league and stayed healthy a lot longer than anyone thought he would. Oh, and he has been the sixth-best fantasy quarterback this season. Eli Manning married his girl-next-door college sweetheart, and all he did was win a Super Bowl. John Elway did it right. Be a stud quarterback, retire, then marry a former Raiderette.
All of which means those of you who ignored the obvious warning signs of Jinxica Simpson are now looking for a quarterback. Or maybe you just own injured quarterbacks Carson Palmer or Matt Hasselbeck. And the aforementioned Warner and Donovan McNabb are on a bye this week. Chances are you need a signal-caller this Sunday, and I've already managed to use the word "aforementioned." There's nothing left to do but help you out with the replacement.
Pickups of the Week
I'll start at quarterback, and I've listed them in the order I would grab them for the next three weeks. Rankings for this week only will come out Wednesday, but I'll mention good matchups in the individual write-ups. As always, ownership percentages from ESPN.com standard leagues (10 team, 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 Flex) are in parentheses. And I have saved one pickup for the video that accompanies this article; just click and watch. Let's get to it.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans (75 percent): Chances are he is not available in your league, but if he is, he shouldn't be after this week. You have to love a few facts: He passed for almost 400 yards Sunday, his upcoming schedule says Detroit, Cincinnati and Minnesota, and the Texans likely will be playing from behind. Having Andre Johnson to throw to doesn't hurt, either.
Derek Anderson, QB, Browns (72 percent): Well, that game was close, huh? Having more than 300 yards and two scores on "Monday Night Football" (plus a two-point conversion) will keep Brady Quinn on the bench a little longer. Anderson plays at Washington and Jacksonville in his next two games, then at home versus Baltimore in Week 9, so it's not very favorable. Then again, neither was the Giants matchup.
Kyle Orton, QB, Bears (70 percent): He has been mentioned in this column a few times now, so I'll just say that he has the Vikings this week and the Lions after a Week 8 bye, and he has double-digit fantasy points in the past four weeks. Plus, even though Lindsay Lohan reportedly has been quoted as saying she thinks Orton is "super-hot," Kyle hasn't gone there, as far as I can tell. That's a good omen.
Jeff Garcia, QB, Buccaneers (18 percent): Clearly he's living on borrowed time. And he's not gonna win a week for you. But considering he gets the Seahawks at home this week, then plays at the Cowboys, who rank in the bottom half in passing yards allowed per game, and then at Kansas City in Week 9, he could be a serviceable 200-yard, one-touchdown fill-in for you.
Chad Pennington, QB, Dolphins (41 percent): His upcoming schedule (Ravens, Bills) isn't great, but he has been solid the past two weeks and follows those two games with games at Denver and at home versus Seattle in Weeks 9 and 10, respectively.
Brad Johnson, QB, Cowboys (1 percent): Um well he has a Super Bowl ring! There, I said something positive about Brad Johnson. He also has very good weapons to throw to and plays the Rams next. Of course, he draws the Buccaneers to follow (in Week 8), and then he's on the road at the Giants, and I hate him for both of those games. He can't stretch the field and will be blitzed out of his gourd.
JaMarcus Russell, QB, Raiders (47 percent): OK, he was terrible in Week 6. But he had been productive before that, and he is at home three of his next four games, beginning this week against the Jets and their 28th-ranked pass defense.
By the way, I really like David Garrard (77 percent), but he is on a bye this week. But if he is available and you have roster space to stash him away, go for it. After all, he has 49 fantasy points over the past three weeks. Also, Trent Edwards (77 percent) has three nice matchups coming up, and Matt Ryan (47 percent) is on a bye as well but has double-digit fantasy points in three of his past four games and looks really strong.
Finally, I'm not gonna list every single quarterback here, but if you are truly scraping the bottom of the barrel, I rank them this way, at least for this week: Marc Bulger (versus Dallas), Joe Flacco (at Miami), Dan Orlovsky or Drew Stanton (at Houston), Kerry Collins (at Kansas City), Seneca Wallace (at Tampa Bay). Also, as far as I know, none of them have really hot girlfriends/wives.
Michael Pittman, RB, Broncos (57 percent): With Selvin Young banged up Sunday, Pittman ran for 109 yards and added 16 yards receiving. That's the good news. The bad is that the Broncos are at New England, who have given up only four rushing touchdowns all season, and then have a bye, so his big value should be short-lived since Young will return soon, as will Ryan Torain.
Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts (12 percent): This is why we say to handcuff your studs. A must-own for any Joseph Addai owner, Rhodes had 73 yards and a score after Addai left last week. Initial reports are Addai should play this week, but you never know.
Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys (0 percent): With the news that Felix Jones will miss time because of a hamstring injury (I heard Jessica looked at him at a team dinner), Choice becomes Marion Barber's backup. With Brad Johnson being, well, Brad Johnson, I expect the Cowboys to run a lot. And against the Rams, they shouldn't have any problems. Choice should get 7-10 touches and should be a decent flex option in 12-team leagues.
Bobby Wade, WR, Vikings (6 percent): As long as Sidney Rice is out, Wade continues to have value. He has 19 receptions over the past three weeks and at least 70 yards in two of them (he finished with 64 yards in the third). While they are at Chicago this week, a tough matchup, if you are stuck, Wade should get you at least five points.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens (55 percent): A must-own for anyone in a point-per-reception (PPR) league, Mason has 19 receptions over the past three weeks and has not had fewer than five in any of those games. I like him on the road at Miami this week.
Others receiving votes
I can't imagine Marques Colston is available in any league, but Jeremy Shockey somehow is unowned in 18 percent of them. I'd be sure to check for both of them in your league. Also, he's on a bye this week, but Marcedes Lewis (19 percent) now has a touchdown in two straight games. Kevin Curtis is also on a bye but should be back after it and is available in 53 percent of leagues. And Donnie Avery (0 percent) had a nice game for the Rams on Sunday, with four receptions for 73 yards.
If you are looking for a bye-week fill-in at defense with the Eagles and Jaguars off this week, the Dolphins (14 percent), at home against Baltimore, and the Chiefs (4 percent), at home and coming off their bye against Tennessee, could be solid. Plus, don't look now but the Saints' defense/special teams (33 percent) have had 13, 9 and 13 fantasy points, respectively, the past three weeks. Now, all those games have been at home, and you can't always expect Reggie Bush to run two punts (or one, for that matter) back for touchdowns. Nonetheless, this unit should be OK at Carolina. If you feel like speculating, Kenny Watson of the Bengals is a guy I have always liked, and with both Chris Perry and Cedric Benson looking terrible, Watson might get back into the starting mix.
And finally, it looks like Shaun Alexander will sign with the Redskins, according to ESPN reports. Feel free to ignore him in fantasy leagues, though, unless you own Clinton Portis, in which case, why not?
Guys I have mentioned in previous columns but who are still available in too many leagues:
Correll Buckhalter (64 percent), Warrick Dunn (49 percent), Kevin Walter (42 percent), Devin Hester (37 percent), Greg Camarillo (14 percent).
Feel Free to Drop
I am not saying you should drop them, but if you are in a roster bind because of bye weeks or injuries, I would be OK with it. There are, in some cases, better options out there. Use your best judgment and see Christopher Harris' rest-of-the-season rankings (his "The Big Rotowski" column) to help your decision as well.
You should be carrying only one tight end, one kicker and one defense; cut the extra. Then, after any obvious scrubs on your team, you can cut Laurence Maroney, Rudi Johnson, Trent Edwards, Sidney Rice, Chester Taylor, Chris Perry, Chris Henry, Patrick Crayton, Marc Bulger, Todd Heap, Arnaz Battle, Bryant Johnson, Robert Meachem, Sage Rosenfels, Chansi Stuckey, Michael Bush, Maurice Morris, Koren Robinson, Andre Hall.
Alex (Orange County, Calif.): Ah, man! This was totally my fault I had Thomas Jones and dropped him for Le'Ron McClain on Saturday! I looked at the Indy matchup and thought "Hmm, the Ravens run a lot, Indy is without Bob Sanders, Jones has to compete with Brett Favre for touches " D'oh! Thank you for your fantasy advice, but it was my stupid decision.
RC Holcomb: Thanks a lot! Upon your recommendation, I dropped Steve Slaton for Le'Ron McClain! McClain had minus-1.5 pts in my league and nearly cost me the matchup! Slaton had a great game. Now I probably can't get him back since he won't clear waivers!
TMR: Sorry, RC, but you deserve it. I never said to drop Slaton; that's just a bad mistake. Yes, I did "love" McClain last week and "hate" Slaton, but those are based on their normal average/expectations. In fact, I ranked Slaton at No. 18 and McClain at No. 20 in my rankings. Be careful with who you drop. Always assume that if you let someone go, you aren't getting them back. Unless it's Jessica Simpson, who keeps showing up. Sigh.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is still going through "Man's League" hoops applications. He might never be done. He appears on Fantasy Football Now, airing Sundays at noon ET on ESPN.com. He is a four-time award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his Cyberfriend
Matthew Berry examines why top quarterbacks are going down like flies, and tells fantasy owners which ones to pick up to replace them.