Let me guess ... about 18 seconds into the Monday night game, you were asking yourself: Why don't I have any guys playing in this game?
Good question. After all, if you've followed their season, you've observed most Redskins games have been fantasy-friendly, something that's reflected in their defensive rankings: 25th against the run, 31st against the pass.
Heck, the Eagles are no defensive juggernaut, either. They've been barely average, leading you to conclude the Monday night contest would probably be a high-scoring affair. In fact, five matchups stood out like a sore hamstring last week: Lions vs. Bills, Texans vs. Jaguars, Chiefs vs. Broncos, Seahawks vs. Cardinals and Eagles vs. Redskins. If you played guys strictly from those games, you surely blitzed your opponent more than the Eagles did Monday night.
Similar games exist on this week's schedule and I'm sure I don't need to waste my time pointing them out. Any schedule-analyzing bozo could do that. I'm going to take your quest to make the fantasy playoffs four steps farther -- identifying four teams who will fire so many fireworks in the next three weeks, you'll waltz right into the postseason by simply playing just guys from these clubs.
You'll never guess who they are ...
Tennessee Titans. Here's a fantasy owner's dream: Having a quarterback and/or wide receiver who'll face the three worst pass defenses in the next three weeks. Well, it's a dream come true if you're the proud owner of Vince Young and/or Randy Moss. In fact, the Redskins, Texans and Jaguars are so defensively challenged, there'll be plenty of time for Chris Johnson to be a fantasy superstar while Young relives his college glory days. My suggestion: Grab Young, Nate Washington and Bo Scaife if you can, and see if Moss' owner is willing to deal him for someone who's been less of a headache (which of course means pretty much any player in the league).
Kansas City Chiefs. OK, you could have predicted this one. Not because the Chiefs are an offensive machine. Rather, because I've been trumpeting their once-in-a-lifetime schedule pretty much all season (and they've responded with 35-31, 42-20 and 49-29 scoring affairs in three of the last five weeks). In Arizona, Seattle and Denver, the Chiefs will face three of the five worst run defenses in the league. But also three teams fully capable of matching points with Kansas City. In fact, the Denver game is a rematch of last week's 78-point pinball effort. My suggestion: Grab Matt Cassel and Chris Chambers if you can, and make a lowball offer for Thomas Jones, who is in a bit of a slump (but is about to find the cure).
San Diego Chargers. The Chargers' schedule isn't as juicy as those of the Titans and Chiefs. That's because it includes Indianapolis, which by being average defensively is a whole lot better than any of the aforementioned opponents. But here's the best part about the Chargers (who also face defensive lightweights Denver and Oakland): They're primed for their best offensive outbursts of the season coming off a perfectly timed bye and with previously injured/suspended players joining what has basically been Philip Rivers' one-man show. My suggestion: Grab Malcom Floyd if you can, see if you can pry Vincent Jackson from a (hopefully) desperate owner, and steal disappointing Ryan Mathews by noting news reports early in the week that he's still not 100 percent.
New York Giants. You're unlikely to talk anyone into giving up a Giant ... unless maybe you can talk a temperamental New Yorker (aren't they all?) into giving up on their club in the wake of the Dallas debacle last week. Look at the schedule: the 59-point-scoring Eagles, followed by the defenseless Jaguars and Redskins. I'd say it doesn't get much better than that, but in fact it does for the Titans and Chiefs. My suggestion: Grab Mario Manningham if you can, and inquire about the price on Brandon Jacobs (it should be a low one).
Play him/Sit him
Shaun Hill, Lions. He wasn't just coming off the bench last week, he was resurfacing after suffering a broken arm. His 323-yard performance was remarkable, but I can't give him all the credit. It was testimony to how far the Lions' offense has come. So far, there's no way the Cowboys are going to slow them down.
Joe Flacco, Ravens. Let's be honest: The Ravens would love to give Ray Rice the ball 30 times and Willis McGahee 20 when they can. And that just might be the case when they face the Panthers and their third-string backfield. There won't be a reason to throw against a pass defense that's pretty decent anyway.
Felix Jones, Cowboys. Nobody in their right mind had Jones in the lineup last week against the Giants. And nobody in their right mind will sit him this week against the Lions after his breakout effort. The all-or-nothing speedball is a touchdown waiting to happen against a team that has had it happen to them quite a bit.
Darren McFadden, Raiders. I've got to believe the Raiders didn't enjoy the bye week very much. Sure, a Chiefs loss allowed Oakland to backdoor into a first-place tie. But Pittsburgh's loss to New England assured a fired-up Steelers club is going to pound the Raiders so hard, they might land in fifth place.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets. The Jets need to get back to running the ball, and who better to do that against than the Texans? Yes, Shonn Greene's 20 carries last week are a concern. It probably means LT will get only 25 touches this week, which should be plenty to assure fantasy-friendly numbers.
Brandon Marshall, Dolphins. Two things could possibly happen if you play Marshall in the Thursday night matchup against the Bears. He could have a decent night against the league's top pass defense, which isn't likely. Or he could have you kicking yourself -- again -- for continuing to play him against a monster schedule. The choice sounds obvious, doesn't it?
Dave Del Grande, aka Mr. Fantasy, offers free advice about your fantasy football team via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.