Wide Write: Cowboy Blues

If you think you’re having a bad week, look on the bright side — you could always be Wade Phillips. Since the weekend started, the Cowboys’ head coach has seen his Pro Bowl quarterback (Tony Romo) break the pinky on his throwing hand, his speedy rookie running back (Felix Jones) injure his hamstring, his punter (Mat McBriar) break his foot while getting a punt blocked for a touchdown in overtime, his best cornerback (Terence Newman) have sports hernia surgery, and his backup corner/punt returner ("Pacman," er, Adam Jones) get suspended indefinitely (at least four games) after getting in a fight with his own bodyguard. That’s enough to make even the legions of Cowboy-haters out there have some sympathy for America’s Team. OK, maybe not.

On the bright side, the Cowboys did acquire talented wideout Roy Williams from the Lions, but they gave up draft picks in the first, third and sixth rounds to get him. No pressure, Wade. Take your time winning that Super Bowl.

It’s time to get to this week’s fantasy picks, which feature a trio of quarterbacks, running backs and receivers that aren’t your classic must-starts in the fantasy world.


Marc Bulger, Rams — Bulger returned to his starting role last week in the surprising win over the Redskins, and didn’t exactly fill up the stat sheet with his 15-for-26, 136-yard performance. This week could be different, as Bulger and the Rams host the Pacman-less, Newman-less Cowboy defense. Look at this week as a walk down Memory Lane to a time when the Rams used to score points once in awhile. Got Donovan McNabb or Kurt Warner, and need a one-week sub? Bulger could fit the bill.

Jake Delhomme, Panthers — Hey, did you know that the Saints have improved from 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed in 2007 to 21st this year? Their secondary is where passes go to die ... or at least not get completed for quite as many yards as they used to. Delhomme has averaged 240 yards passing since Steve Smith returned from his suspension in Week 3, and he’s in a great spot to put up some good numbers again this week. As we’ve mentioned before, Wide Write’s headquarters is a mere mile or two from Jake’s home, and we’ve seen him everywhere from a local church to a preschool Christmas recital. We LOVE including him in the weekly selections.

Chad Pennington, Dolphins — Again? Yep. Chad’s got a 98.9 quarterback rating, for crying out loud! He’s averaging 220 yards and a touchdown per game! Furthermore, he’s not afraid of the banged-up yet top-ranked Ravens’ defense! Bring it on, Ray Lewis!

Running Back

Steve Slaton, Texans — We can’t imagine what planet you might be on that wouldn’t have you starting Slaton already, but consider this a reminder. The speedy Slaton has become the feature back for the Texans, and has rushed for 343 yards and three touchdowns in five games, along with another 103 yards and a TD receiving. This week, the Lions and their 31st-ranked rushing defense come to Houston. In baseball parlance, Slaton’s a home-run hitter, and we’re betting on a longball or two this Sunday.

Derrick Ward, Giants — The 49ers visit the Meadowlands this week, and after Monday night’s debacle in Cleveland, the Giants should be really PO’d. Ward is clearly the team’s second back behind the rhinoceros-like Brandon Jacobs, but everyone has committees now, right? Ward averages just under nine carries per game, but his weekly yardage totals are 39-58-80-40-101. If your bench is weak or hurt, and you have one of this week’s big bye-week backs (Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Turner, Brian Westbrook), a flier on Ward could pay off. He’s gotta get in the end zone sometime, right?

LenDale White, Titans — We’re big believers in the idea that there aren’t many easy road wins in the NFL, and even bad teams step up once in awhile. With that said, the Chiefs are allowing a league-worst 182 rushing yards per game. To put that in context, we ran a computer simulation, and discovered that a defense with a front four of Alan Colmes, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Greta Van Susteren would give up 177 yards a week. Clearly, the Chiefs are terrible, and goal-line vulture White (five TDs in five games) could be a big beneficiary.

Receiver (WR/TE)

Antwaan Randle-El, Redskins — We’re not huge fans of Randle-El’s, but he gets just enough looks to be a nice bye-week fill-in. Randle-El is on pace for a career-high 72 receptions, and he’s caught at least three passes in every game this season. If you need to replace Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson or Roddy White this week, Randle-El is less of a risk for a goose egg than a lot of other free agents and bench receivers. You must be frothing at the mouth after reading that endorsement.

Jeremy Shockey, Saints — A lot of fantasy owners tossed Shockey aside after he suffered a sports hernia in Week 3, and he’s unowned in almost a third of FOXSports.com fantasy leagues. This one is pretty simple: Shockey had 16 receptions in three games before getting hurt, and Drew Brees has been throwing the ball around like he’s the official QB in a kids’ game of two-hand touch. Say it with me: Shock-EEEEEEEEEEEE!

Steve Smith, Giants — Shockey’s former teammate has become quite the security blanket for Eli Manning. The second-year wideout is tied with Plaxico Burress for the team lead in catches with 22, and 18 of those grabs have come in the last three games. When Manning can’t find Burress for a big play, his next look is usually for Smith. That doesn’t make Smith a star, but if you’re the safety net receiver for the most potent offense in the league, you have a decent chance to give your fantasy owners some points.

Finally, don’t forget your byes this week — the Cardinals, Falcons, Jaguars and Eagles are taking a siesta.

John Halpin covers fantasy sports for FOXSports.com, writing a morning fantasy blog Sundays through Fridays and baseball columns once or twice each week, depending on the season. His "Wide Write" appears every Thursday during the NFL season on FOXNews.com. Send him an e-mail at jhalpin37@gmail.com.

For more fantasy sports coverage, visit FOXSports.com/fantasy.