Brad Johnson, Cowboys – Tony Romo is injured, so the keys to the engine are now in Johnson’s hands. But that engine is leaking some oil due to an under performing offensive line and a rushing game that has, to put it mildly, struggled at times. But they still have Terrell Owens, Jason Witten and Marion Barber. Maybe the Cowboys will rally around Johnson. More importantly, maybe the offensive line will remember how to pass protect. If that happens, Johnson will put up Romo-like stats the next three games. If you can get him, and you’re not enamored with your No. 1 QB’s matchup this week, start Johnson against the Rams. The next two weeks, however, Dallas faces the Buccaneers and Giants.
Matt Schaub, Texans – Schaub was somewhat shaky against the Dolphins, as his 71.4 passer rating would suggest, but Fantasy players don’t care about that stat. The stats they care about are 379 yards and a touchdown passing in addition to a rushing score. And this week the Texans host the Lions. Detroit gave up a TD and nearly 300 yards to the pedestrian Gus Frerotte; Schaub should easily meet or exceed those numbers this week.
Philip Rivers, Chargers – Rivers rebounded in a huge way after some mediocre outings, with 306 yards and three touchdowns against New England. If he has a similar performance on the road against Buffalo this week, then Rivers will be back to must-starter status, as New Orleans and Kansas City await.
Matt Ryan, Falcons – Ryan was pretty salty against Chicago, throwing for 301 yards and a TD. He’s not a must-start yet, and after this week’s bye has to travel to Philadelphia in Week 8. But following that game the Falcons are at Oakland and then play host to New Orleans and Denver. He’s worth picking up, and definitely worth starting consideration if your No. 1 QB has bad matchups in Weeks 9, 10 or 11.
Chad Pennington, Dolphins – You can say Pennington’s big day (284, two TDs vs. Houston) was somewhat of a fluke. One TD pass came off a trick play, and the other was a screen. But numbers are numbers, and the Dolphins’ use of the “Wildcat” formation, which led to one of Pennington’s touchdown throws, isn’t going to end anytime soon. So there could be more of those kinds of scores in Pennington’s future. It won’t be advisable to start Pennington against an angry Baltimore defense this week, but he could be worth spot start consideration in Weeks 9 (at Denver) and 13 (at St. Louis).
Peyton Manning, Colts – If you needed 100 percent validation that Manning is back to the old Manning, look no further than his sterling Week 6 performance against the Ravens (271 TDs, three TDs). Big numbers should be in store this week against the Packers. The following week at Tennessee looks like a tough one, but you’re not going to sit Manning, no matter the matchup. And that wasn’t necessarily the case the first few weeks of this season.
Tony Romo, Cowboys – As stated above, Romo’s reportedly going to miss the next three games due to a broken little finger on his throwing hand. Dallas media members have been moaning that Romo “doesn’t look right” or “isn’t having fun” the last few weeks, but Fantasy players have enjoyed the consistent production from a pure numbers standpoint. But they’ll probably have to do without those numbers until Week 11, when the Cowboys play Washington.
Matt Cassell, Patriots – You would think that Cassell would thrive facing a Charger secondary that had surrendered 10 TDs and been made to look like mincemeat. Not so much. Cassell managed only a paltry 203 yards and no scores. He faces the Broncos and Rams the next two weeks, but while those look like games where he should excel, can you trust him? Does his own team trust him?
Carson Palmer, Bengals – It’s not a good sign that the Bengals are consulting with the team doctor of the New York Mets on Palmer’s elbow injury. He missed Week 6 and has already been counted out for Week 7. Just when he had returned to Fantasy relevancy, the signs are pointing to Palmer being shut down for the season. Hold on to him for another week or so if you can spare the roster space just to make sure, but prepare yourself for the worst.