<
>

Ask the Gamer

Brandon "The Gamer" Funston takes your fantasy questions every week. E-mail him your question.

Doc, Ruston, LA: I think you do a good job each week and have helped me out plenty! I was wondering which running back and quarterback to start this week: Terrell Davis or Antowain Smith, and Brian Griese or Chris Chandler? Thanks for you help each week ...

Gamer: I don't think I've said it yet this year, but I like Terrell Davis this week. Davis hasn't played Seattle in the past two years, but he does have a streak of six straight 100-yard games against the 'Hawks. More importantly, he averaged almost five yards on 20 carries last week against a pretty stingy Miami run defense and came away from the game without an injury to note. Smith could have a good day against Cleveland, but he's inconsistent. Although he's had three 100-yard games in his last five, the other two games he combined for just 64 yards on less than three yards per carry.

Jon Gorman, Indianapolis, IN: Needing to fill one running back position and one flex position (RB/WR). Who are my best options to fill the two spots with Bettis likely out: Eddie George, James Stewart, Emmitt Smith, Michael Bennett, Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala or Jerry Rice?

Gamer: Jerry Rice's name glows like neon among this group. After choking to Arizona in Week 12, expect the Raiders to come out pissed off this week vs. Kansas City. The Chiefs haven't given up a lot of fantasy points to receivers, thus far, but that is mainly because teams can torch them on the ground instead. Oakland isn't the type of team to power out wins on the ground. In the past five weeks, leading rusher Charlie Garner has averaged just 14 carries a games, while QB Rich Gannon racked up an amazing 15 TD passes. I expect Gannon will continue his prolific ways this week. Look for the Raiders to hammer the Chiefs and for Rice to chip in with strong fantasy numbers.

As for your running back slot, why not Eddie George against a Minnesota team that has allowed the most fantasy points to running backs? A RB has scored a TD against the Vikes in each of the past six weeks. Contrast that with Emmitt Smith's opponent, the New York Giants, who have given up just three rushing TDs to running backs all year.

Chris Fuamatu Ma'afala may wind up starting this week, but I don't see him getting many more carries than Amos Zereoue and that should hurt his potential.

Chris, Palatine, IL: After this past weekend, none of my QBs look like they can gather any more points than the AstroTurf they play on. Who would be the best to start this week - Alex Van Pelt or Kordell Stewart? Also, can you pick out a couple of favorite receivers for this weekend out of this group - Chris Chambers, Eric Moulds or Peerless Price, Kevin Dyson, MarTay Jenkins?

Gamer: I'm not high on Stewart this week, and it's not because I think he stinks (which I do) or because I'm in denial that he's actually a decent fantasy player this year (I admit he is). I just don't have a good feeling about him against the New York Jets. The Jets have held every quarterback they've faced, save Alex Van Pelt (ironically), to less than 250 yards passing. And they've stopped some big-name slingers (Jeff Garcia 141 yards, 1 TD -- Kurt Warner 215 yards, 1 TD -- Aaron Brooks 164 yards, 0 TD). And with the possible absence of RB Jerome Bettis, it is not likely that the Jets will overplay the run. I'd definitely give Van Pelt the nod this week. He's going to bounce back this week at home vs. a Carolina team that can't stop anyone.

While Van Pelt should have a good day, picking which receiver he will lean on between Moulds and Price is kind of a crapshoot. Miami's Chambers has five TDs in the past four weeks and faces a very susceptible pass defense in the Indianapolis Colts. I'd gamble on Chambers.

At quarterback, Chandler is a question mark this week. He has an ankle sprain and head coach Dan Reeves expects him to play if he can practice tomorrow (Wednesday). Given Chandler's injury history, I wouldn't touch him this week. At least with Griese you know you are going to get at least a TD pass -- he's thrown at least one in every game this year.

David, NY,NY: Quick & Dirty -- Tony Gonzalez vs. Oakland or Marcus Pollard vs. Miami?

Gamer: Tony Gonzalez had this to say after last week's loss to Philadelphia: "I've got to do better than that. I don't care if the ball is thrown way over my head. I don't care if it's tipped right in front of me. I'd like to think I could make that catch. I don't care. I've got to do better than that. We've all got to do better than that." Here's my quick and dirty opinion: You got to love when the top scoring fantasy tight end challenges himself to step it up. I wouldn't go against him this week.

Drew, Boston, MA: I have two decisions to make this week. First, which two RBs do I start between Dominic Rhodes, Shaun Alexander and Stacey Mack. Second, with Jimmy Smith in one of the receiver slots, I need to decide between Kevin Dyson and J.J. Stokes for the other. Can you help me make a couple of good decisions?

Gamer: Despite five TDs in the past five weeks, I'm not taken with Stacey Mack. Besides the fact that I think he's an average-to-below average NFL running back, I don't like the low amount of carries he gets. Whereas Dominic Rhodes and Shaun Alexander have averaged 22 carries and 23 carries respectively the past five weeks, Mack has yet to have a game of more than 18 carries. Go with the guys who get the work.

At receiver, I'll take Dyson. Tennessee is airing it out much more and Dyson is reaping the benefits -- four TDs, two 100-yard receiving games in past five weeks. Stokes has been more busy of late, as well, but he's really just a possession receiver with less of the game-breaking potential that Dyson possesses. Besides, Terrell Owens says that his four dropped passes in the last meeting against the St. Louis Rams weighs on his mind and that he plans to make amends this week. I think he'll take center stage on Sunday, while Stokes sits in the backseat again.