Associated Press Writer
It's hard to believe a guy who's been cut or benched for the likes of Jake Plummer, Rex Grossman, Chris Simms and Jay Fiedler could come back and become a solid quarterback.
But Brian Griese has overcome those devastating blows to his ego to become quite the fantasy football find in just three starts for the Bears - his fourth team since 2002. He's thrown seven TDs and averages nearly 300 yards. He's had some interceptions, but few as mindboggling or hideous as Grossman's.
The 32-year-old Griese also has a huge experience edge on Grossman. He's put up a couple 20-touchdown seasons as well as a few 3,000-yard seasons in his career, and he's played for QB gurus such as Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden and Norv Turner.
That's all well and good for real football, but Griese has even more in his favor from a fantasy standpoint: The Bears aren't running well or playing defense. Cedric Benson has been a flop, and the once-feared defense is allowing all sorts of points and yards.
It all adds up to a decent quarterback launching a ton of balls to a good receiving corps, with little threat of a running play or benching. It's fantasy perfection.
As you wonder what Mike Ditka makes of the Bears playing defenseless, run-free football, here's a look at some players to start in Week 7, some to avoid, and a few long shots who just may pan out:
-Well, well, look who decided to show up. Drew Brees' inept play helped put the Saints - not to mention thousands of misguided fantasy owners - in a deep, deep hole. But he looked like his old self last week and faces the bumbling Falcons.
-Outside of one monster game, Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb hasn't looked quite right. But he faces a softer-than-usual Chicago defense, and I'm certain if I keep saying McNabb will be good then he'll come through for my fantasy team.
-Washington's Jason Campbell has scored in four straight games. He faces an Arizona defense that last week was picked apart by 43-year-old Vinny Testaverde just days removed from a retirement regimen of watching TV and running errands
-OK, so Kyle Boller and the Ravens offense aren't good, but the odds are long that the Bills' 31st-ranked pass defense flukes its way into another five-interception day. The Bills have allowed an NFL-high three 300-yard passers.
-Jeff Garcia has been just decent, but Detroit is a defensive disaster. Plus, Garcia may want to prove he's not the offensive disaster he was with Detroit in 2005.
-It is silly to suggest a start for the Jets' Chad Pennington (6 TDS, 6 INTs), but everybody should get a start time against the Bengals.
Please, in the name of Jim Miller, don't start these guys:
-Even though Marc Bulger and however many ribs he has left are back this week, the winless Rams are such a mess that Bulger's a bad start even against Seattle's soft defense.
-When did Vince Young and the Titans get so boring? Many will overlook his horrid stats to think he'll put on a big show in his hometown of Houston.
-Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger is playing well, but he'll just hand off against the Broncos and the NFL's worst run defense that's allowing nearly 190 yards a game.
-Come on, NFL, is it really fair to make the winless Dolphins play the unstoppable Patriots? Despite the ethical questions, look for Miami's Ronnie Brown to provide his usual shame-saving stats.
-Likewise, watch the inactive lists Sunday morning and start whoever's running for the Patriots, even if it's that Heath guy. The Dolphins are allowing about 170 yards rushing and an NFL-high 10 TDS, and they've chosen this week to start the rebuilding process.
-Frank Gore and the 49ers haven't done squat offensively and face a punishing Giants defense that's led a four-game win streak. But Gore has had two weeks to rest, he's due for a big game, and the Giants are due for a bad one.
-The Jets finally decided to use offseason investment Thomas Jones last week, and he went over 100 yards. He may get 40 carries and perhaps a TD against the Bengals, who only stop the run by leaving receivers uncovered.
-How far has Seattle's Shaun Alexander fallen when he's on the sideline while a random fullback gets the fourth-quarter carries? Even with his 2.4 yards a carry the past two weeks, he should timidly tiptoe through the Rams with great success.
-Is Buffalo's Marshawn Lynch ever going to face a weak run defense? The Ravens may stop him often, but he'll also catch some passes.
-Here's something you never say at Chester Taylor's house: ``So, Chester, how's that job share thing going?'' He had more carries than Adrian Peterson last week, but even the Vikings must see that Taylor's best position is on the bench.
-It may seem nutty to bench Travis Henry, but a beat-up Denver line may be no match for the healthier Steelers. Henry has scored only one TD, and has been held under 70 yards in two of his past three games.
-Where has Dallas' Marion Barber gone? It is cool to watch him punch guys as he runs down the field, but he hasn't scored in three games. He faces the Vikings, the only team not to allow a rushing TD.
-Laveranues Coles had just one catch last week, and the Jets seem to have lost the ability to pass. They'll feel better when they see the Bengals, who have allowed more TD passes (13) than everyone but Cleveland.
-It's too easy to say Dallas' Terrell Owens will light up the Vikings' NFL-worst pass defense, so throw in No. 2 receiver Patrick Crayton, too. He's scored four times in his past three games.
-Don't just pick up the Saints' David Patten, but throw him into your starting lineup. Seven weeks in, and the Falcons still have that ``What are we doing here?'' look about them.
-Tennessee's Derrick Mason is going for about eight catches and only 70 yards a game, but Buffalo's already allowed four 100-yard receiving games.
-Remember way back when Lee Evans used to catch TDs for Buffalo? Here's a wild guess that his scoreless streak ends. (If not, don't cut him; he didn't score in six of his first seven games last year.)
-Maybe Atlanta's Roddy White will be so eager to avoid another rah-rah college-type speech from his coach that he'll exploit the shaky Saints secondary.
-Bench Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin against a Redskins defense that has allowed only two TD passes, an NFL-low. The Cardinals this week boast the twin QB threat of Tim Rattay and Tim Hasselbeck. (Apparently Kent Graham and Dave Brown were unavailable.)
-In case you're that fantasy owner who checks your roster once a week, here's a public service announcement: Chris Chambers was traded to the Chargers, who aren't playing this week.
-Speaking of Chambers, his departure means more playing time in Miami for Ted Ginn Jr. If you're weighing the merits of the Cleo Lemon-to-Ginn connection, your fantasy team is in some trouble.
DON'T FORGET THE BYE WEEK: Carolina, Green Bay, Cleveland and San Diego are off, meaning this is the only week you want to face the owner who drafted LaDainian Tomlinson.
Pick up these guys if they're available in your league: RB Michael Bennett (new back in Tampa), WR David Patten (113 yards), RB Jerious Norwood (Falcon with a pulse), QB Cleo Lemon (4 TDs), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (more playing time), WR Kevin Walter (whoever he is, he just had 160 yards).
Here's the best and worst of last week's projections:
Big Hits: I predicted success for Brian Griese (381 yards, 3 TDs), Derek Anderson (4 TDs), Cleo Lemon (4 TDs), Adrian Peterson (224 yards, 3 TDs), Maurice Jones-Drew (184 total yards, 2 TDs), Matt Hasselbeck (362 yards, 2 TDs) and Bobby Engram (113 yards). I expected failure for Shaun Alexander (35 yards) and James Jones (0 catches).
Big Misses: I expected more bad things for Drew Brees (2 TDs) and Amani Toomer (TD). I saw big things happening for Torry Holt (33 yards), Dwayne Bowe (46 yards) and Vincent Jackson (5 yards). I thought Kurt Warner's aging body would last beyond the first quarter.

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