Following my best week of recommendations I'm fully amped for a successful beginning to bye weeks. One more yard from Denarius Moore would have given me a 0.500 record for the first time this season but alas I finished at a solid 15-17 instead. Now with six teams on bye this week (Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, Washington) I'm setting my sights higher and shooting for a scintillating 16-10. In these times of need it's more necessary than ever to make the right coaching calls, so I'm upping my game to meet the demand.
Last week I had two of my favorite three come through in Greg Olsen and Eli Manning, while Lance Moore came up just a bit short. My top scores both came Monday night though with Pierre Garcon and Josh Freeman going off. I would expect nice games from them moving forward as well. As for the not-so-pretty-plays, several receivers put up duds including David Nelson, Patrick Crayton and Mario Manningham.
Since I'm raising the bar for the bye week, I've got four locks instead of the usual three, so you've got two backs and two receivers to replace those starters with and not miss a beat. Mark Ingram and Joseph Addai will post their best weeks, while Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones will be sure things in their head-to-head Sunday night matchup, so cash in on these smart starts.
And remember, championships are won in the playoffs, but to get there you've got to take care of the bye weeks.
Tennessee @ Pittsburgh
Matt Hasselbeck (QB) for Titans - Hasselbeck shredded Cleveland, one of the league's top pass defenses, even without Kenny Britt. Without James Harrison's (orbital bone) pass rush to disrupt his rhythm, look for more of the same versus the defense formerly known as the Steel Curtain.
Isaac Redman (RB) for Steelers - Even if Rashard Mendenhall (hamstring) is active for this game, Redman should see a good share of carries. And considering how hapless the pass protection has been thus far, the Steelers may look to pound the ball rather than have Big Ben get knocked out for good.
Seattle @ New York Giants
Sidney Rice (WR) for Seahawks - If it ain't broke don't fix it. Rice has thrown himself back into the top-20 receiver discussion with two outings totaling 188 yards and a touch. One more week like that will put him there.
Victor Cruz (WR) for Giants - Cruz is for real. Two starts, 208 yards and two touchdowns AND he replaced Mario Manningham in two-receiver sets during the Giants' fourth quarter rally against Arizona. He's a playmaker and a threat to score every week.
Cincinnati @ Jacksonville
A.J. Green (WR) for Bengals - Green's talent outweighs his lack of seasoning without a doubt. And the Jags are about to learn that first-hand.
Mike Thomas (WR) for Jaguars - Thomas is the unquestioned go-to option for rookie Blaine Gabbert. In two games together Thomas has 19 targets, nine catches, 128 yards and a TD. Just think how he'll do as they gain chemistry and Gabbert settles in as the starter.
New Orleans @ Carolina
Mark Ingram (RB) for Saints - Carolina has given up 502 yards rushing to the top running back from their opposition in four weeks, with Matt Forte having just hammered them for 205. And with the bye weeks here it's perfect timing for Ingram to have a breakout game.
Darren Sproles (RB) for Saints - See Ingram, Mark. Ingram will get the bulk of the carries, but Sproles will still be the little big-play machine that could.
Oakland @ Houston
Kevin Boss (TE) for Raiders - Houston has been one of the best in the league at getting after the quarterback and hasn't allowed many deep balls. After limiting the blazing Mike Wallace to only 77 yards, they should do fine with the speedy Raiders receivers, which could translate to a busy day for Boss.
Owen Daniels (TE) for Texans - With the absence of Andre Johnson, you can expect two things from the Texans: a heavy dose of Arian Foster and Daniels far outshining the remaining wide receivers.
Philadelphia @ Buffalo
David Nelson (WR) for Bills - The "vaunted" Eagles pass defense has been very generous the past three weeks, allowing 10 touchdowns and nearly 750 yards. While Nnamdi Asomugha has been able to slow down top receivers, others have thrived. Enter David Nelson.
Scott Chandler (TE) for Bills - Philadelphia's run defense has been miserable and as mentioned, the pass D hasn't been much better. Translation: Fred Jackson and Ryan Fitzpatrick will march Buffalo up and down the field, providing numerous red zone opportunities. Enter Scott Chandler.
Kansas City @ Indianapolis
Dexter McCluster (RB) for Chiefs - An already generous Colts' run defense is getting awfully thin up front now that they've lost Eric Foster (ankle) and may be without Drake Nevis (back) as well. It could be just what the doctor ordered for the Chiefs' struggling rush attack. Look for the explosive McCluster to take big advantage.
Joseph Addai (RB) for Colts - A possible low-scoring affair could open the door for more Addai runs. Add in Kansas City's weak run defense and Addai's current 4.6 yards per clip and we may see his first 100-yard effort since last October.
Arizona @ Minnesota
Kevin Kolb (QB) for Cardinals - Minnesota's pass defense is near the bottom in the league, they just gave up 260 and a score to Matt Cassel and Beanie Wells isn't going to score three times every week. One plus one plus one equals a good day for Kolb.
Percy Harvin (WR) for Vikings - It is downright disgraceful that Minnesota has yet to get Harvin an offensive touchdown. He is one of the most dynamic weapons in all of football and this week I have a feeling he'll prove it.
Tampa Bay @ San Francisco
Mike Williams (WR) for Buccaneers - With the Niners' defense simply stonewalling opposing running backs, look for Williams to take advantage of their much shakier secondary. With Josh Freeman stepping his game up last week, it's time for Williams to do likewise.
Michael Crabtree (WR) for 49ers - Tampa's pass defense has been very kind to wide receivers this season, particularly the past two weeks in which they gave up 401 combined yards to three players. Crabtree's foot may still be ailing him, but on Sunday he'll be ailing the Buccaneers secondary.
New York Jets @ New England
Mark Sanchez (QB) for Jets - Three quarterbacks have topped 350 passing yards against the Patriots miserable defense and Jason Campbell was just shy with 344. Sanchez has the perfect matchup to bounce back from that pathetic outing in Baltimore.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB) for Patriots - Don't close the case on The Law Firm just yet. Sure Stevan Ridley is a more explosive runner and will steal some carries, but he's essentially going to replace Danny Woodhead for this week while Woody rests an ankle sprain. BJGE also has a good history versus New York, including a two-touchdown game late last season.
San Diego @ Denver
Kyle Orton (QB) for Broncos - Though Philip Rivers has struggled through four weeks, a visit to Denver could be just what he needs after seeing the Broncos get dissected in three straight games. That could mean a duel and Orton throwing a lot to keep pace.
Willis McGahee (RB) for Broncos - With the Broncos defense incapable of slowing down opposing passing attacks, they may look to employ McGahee early in an attempt to slow down the game. So he'll get solid yardage on the ground until their D blows up that plan and then he'll add numbers through the air.
Green Bay @ Atlanta
Jordy Nelson (WR) for Packers - There should be at least 700 yards through the air in this matchup of passing teams that can't stop the pass. That bodes well for all receivers and Nelson has been one of Aaron Rodgers' favorites this season.
Julio Jones (WR) for Falcons - Jones has posted back-to-back 100-yard games and is threatening Roddy White's status as the most dangerous Falcons receiver. Against the porous Packers pass defense, he should make it three weeks in a row.
Chicago @ Detroit
Dane Sanzenbacher (WR) for Bears - With the Detroit front four living in the Bears' backfield, Jay Cutler will need to get rid of the ball quickly to avoid the wrath of Ndamukong Suh. Sanzenbacher should be in for a busy night on underneath routes.
Jahvid Best (RB) for Lions - This could finally be the week that Best tops five yards a carry! His only other career game doing so came last year at home versus none other than the Bears and Chicago is one of the league's worst against the run, giving up 5.1 per attempt.