The winner of Week 9 of the Home Team Challenge gets a Mario Williams autographed Texans football.
Last week, I learned never to pick Ben Roethlisberger over Tom Brady. Or at least, if I should bumble into that mistake again, never to broadcast it over the Internet in a fantasy football column.
If you've learned from your mistakes like me, or if you didn't make mistakes to begin with, you're ready to take home the crown in Week 9 of the free HoustonTexans.com Home Team Challenge. If you set the best lineup among Texans fans this week, you'll win a Texans football autographed by Mario Williams.
With that in mind, here are my weekly recommendations, beginning with two grossly undervalued players:
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RB LenDale White, TEN, 30 points (vs. CAR): It's usually a good idea to ride players on hot streaks, and White has been about as hot as they come. The second-year back has rumbled and tumbled his way to a career-high rushing performance in two consecutive games, with 104- and then 133-yard days in Weeks 7 and 8. With Titans QB Vince Young struggling, White has carried the ball at least 25 times in three straight games, and the all-time leading TD scorer in USC history has found the end zone four times in the past six games. The Panthers' defense has been mediocre against the run, ceding 113 yards (19th in the NFL) and an average of one touchdown per game.
WR Chris Chambers, SD, 24 (@ MIN): In his first game with the Chargers after arriving in a trade from Miami, Chambers caught two passes for 35 yards. Not exactly impressive, that is until you consider that those were two of only seven completions thrown by QB Phillip Rivers, and that one of those completions went for a 14-yard TD. Chambers was also targeted on a deep ball that probably would have resulted in another TD if it wasn't overthrown. It's clear the Pro Bowl receiver is happy in his new home and that the feeling is mutual from the team's end. LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates will continue to give him great opportunities to make big plays, especially this week against Minnesota, which has the league's worst pass defense (288.8 yards per game).
NO THANKS WR Randy Moss, NE, 46 (@ IND): Here's the thing: Moss could get you 25 points, but he's just as likely to get you 10. The problem is, you really never know with the way QB Tom Brady likes to spread the ball around. Moss, for example, has the most receiving yards in the league, but he doesn't even have the most receptions on his team – that distinction goes to WR Wes Welker. Each week, it could be Moss or Welker or even TE Benjamin Watson who has the fantasy explosion. You know you'll at the very least get decent stats with Moss, but decent is not what you want out of the most expensive wide receiver. He also faces the top-rated Colts pass defense, which hasn't allowed a passing TD in the last two weeks and is especially stingy at home. Don't expect that stat to hold past Nov. 4, but two players who are on another explosive offense and cost just a little bit less than Moss have a much more favorable matchup against the Bills' 29th-rated pass defense.
Alternatives: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, CIN, 44 (@ BUF); Chad Johnson, CIN, 43 (@ BUF)
RB Willis McGahee, BAL, 42 (@ PIT): Pittsburgh's run defense ranks fourth in the league (77.7 yards per game) and has only given up one rushing touchdown through seven games – tops in the NFL. And they're playing at home, where Pittsburgh has allowed 19 points combined in its three games this season, with first place in the AFC North on the line. Here's how they've fared against elite running backs at home this season: Marshawn Lynch, 18 carries, 64 yards (when they were really struggling); Frank Gore, 14 carries, 39 yards; Shaun Alexander, 11 carries, 25 yards. The third-leading rusher in the league, McGahee should fare better than the last two, but no running back would be a good play in this particular matchup.
Alternatives: Frank Gore, SF, 38 (@ ATL); LenDale White, 30 (vs. CAR)
TEXANS FANTASY SPIN
If you're looking for a quarterback who defines the word inexpensive this week, Sage Rosenfels (11) is your man. The backup will be making his first start as a Texan and has thrown for gaudy numbers at times in reserve duty this season, though he faces an Oakland defense that ranks third in the league against the pass…Oakland is a lowly 30th in the league against the run at 148.9 yards per game. For fantasy purposes, the problem is that the Texans have not yet announced a decision on playing RB Ahman Green (23)…despite Oakland's strong pass defense, WR Andre Johnson (24) could be a monstrously sneaky play if he starts on Sunday. One of the top receivers in the league before his injury at Carolina, Johnson is currently available at a 10-20 point discount, for cheaper than players like Kevin Curtis (27)and Jericho Cotchery (25)…the Texans' defense/special teams (29) could be in for a solid outing against a Raiders offense with quarterback questions that is 24th in the league in yards per game.