By: Steve DeAngelo
Oakland @ San Diego 4:05 Est
Watching San Diego last week against the Colts last night I came away extremely impressed. They flat-out dominated the Colts. Coming in I was already impressed by their offense, but their defense really showed to me that they are pretty worthy of that #1 ranking. Phillip Rivers is the MVP in my mind . Without Vincent Jackson all year, Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd and Patrick Crayton in and out of the lineup Rivers still gets it done. Despite the Chargers trouncing the Colts last week, Rivers did not throw a TD, expect that to change this week. The Raiders are 5th in pass defense only allowing 186 yards a game but they have let up 21 passing TD’s. Last week Chad Henne picked on corner Walter Mcfadden and he got exposed all day. Expect Rivers to do the same. Malcolm Floyd is still banged up, but should play along with Antonio Gates. Floyd is a decent flex this week. Seyi Arjirotutu could have a nice day as he is the healthiest of the wideouts, I like him much more than Legedu Naanee who returned last week after weeks of being out.
Ryan Matthews looks like he will return this week, but Mike Tolbert will still get more carries after producing back 2 back 100 yd games, Tolbert will also remain the goal-line back. Tolbert has a nice matchup vs the Oakland defense that is struggling against the run ranked 28th overall. Darren Sproles could prove to be a decent low-end flex play in this game due to the injury factor at wideout for San Diego. I would reserve him for PPR leagues only.
The Raiders have been struggling lately with back 2 back losses and it looks like their season is pretty much over. Due to another Bruce Gradkowski injury, Jason Campbell will take the reins back this week against the #1 secondary in the league. Jacoby Ford has had two monster games in the past 3 weeks but I would avoid him this week, because Campbell will probably not have too much time to throw against the Chargers who lead the league in sacks. Darren Mcfadden has been slowing down lately, he is still getting the receiving yards but his rushing numbers have been way down the past 2 weeks with only 16 yards rushing. San Diego is ranked #3 against the run so it doesn’t get much easier. Also the Raiders offensive line has been wearing down, not providing the holes they were earlier in the year. Zach Miller is playing hurt and it shows, he has 17 yards in his past 3 games. Don’t rely on him this week.
St. Louis @ Arizona 4:05 Est
The Cardinals are quite possibly the worst team in the NFL. They aren’t getting it done in any facet of the game right now. Derek Anderson blew up on the media last week after the 49ers loss last week, so it will be interesting to see how he plays this week. I wouldn’t bet on anything special. Anderson is only completing 52% of his passes and has only 7 TD’s to 9 Int’s. Larry Fitzgerald is an extremely risky start because of this, despite his talent. The Cardinals cannot get the ground game going at all either as Beanie Wells has been an absolute bust in Fantasy Football this year. Stay away from all Cardinals in this game.
Watching Sam Bradford he doesn’t look anything like a rookie QB. He is poised under center while delivering the ball with solid accuracy. He will get it done this week against Arizona. After getting his first road win of his career last week in Denver, I expect him to have similar success this week. Danario Alexander had a solid game last week finishing with 95 yards receiving despite only playing 20 snaps. You have to think the Rams would want to get him more involved with his talent. Danny Amendola is the Wes Welker of the Mid-west. He runs excellent routes and is a great ppr play in this matchup. I expect the Rams to be playing with the lead most of the game so that means plenty of Steven Jackson against this 31st ranked Arizona Run D. Expect Jackson to go over 100 yards with at least one score. Bradford is worth a look at QB this week in this matchup, I am expecting 240 yards with 2 TD’s.
Dallas @ Indianapolis 4:15 Est
I give a lot of props to the Cowboys and the comeback they almost pulled off last week against the New Orleans Saints. They came up just a bit short after Malcolm Jenkins stripped Roy Williams clean. Jon Kitna has filled in fairly nicely for Tony Romo with 6 Td’s in his last 3 games also throwing for over 300 yards twice. The Colts have been fairly good against the pass ranked 6th overall with only 13 Passing TD’s allowed. At home Dwight Freeney and Mathis could really disrupt the immobile Kitna. However Kitna should see some success but is a good bet for a couple of turnovers. Dez Bryant refused to talk to the media last week after being held catchless so you can be sure that Kitna will look to get him more involved this week. Miles Austin has been spotty with Kitna at QB and last week wouldn’t have done much without the Reverse run he had for a TD. Bryant and Austin are flex plays to me. Roy Williams got back in the mix last week and I think he is worth a flex start once again. Kitna will probably be playing catch up most of the day so there will be a lot of throwing for him. Jason Witten has been one of the most productive tight ends since Kitna arrived and despite the Colts being top 3 in least points allowed to Tight Ends, he’s a must start.
Peyton Manning might have been in the film room for 80 hours this week after the brutal loss to San Diego. Manning should have an easier time against the Cowboys secondary who hasn’t played well all year. Still, without a proper run game it’s hard for Manning to be as effective as we’ve seen him in the past. The Absence of Austin Collie has also hurt. Blair White is worth a flex start again this week as he will be matched up with Orlando Scandrick and that’s a matchup Manning will look to exploit. Reggie Wayne is questionable but should play and probably will be matched up with Terrance Newman who hasn’t looked himself all season. Garcon and Manning still can’t seem to connect with consistency but I think Garcon makes for a decent #2 WR this week and could find the endzone while being matched up with Mike Jenkins. Jacob Tamme has been a fantasy monster since he stepped in for Dallas Clark and that won’t stop this week, it will never stop as long as Manning is throwing him the ball.
People doubted the effectiveness of Joseph Addai but we are truly seeing it right now as Donald Brown has failed to fill his role averaging only 3.3 YPC. Donald Brown is not worth a start because he isn’t racking up yards and Javarris James is taking away the goal-line carries.
Carolina @ Seattle 4:15 Est
This is probably the worst game of the week with two lowly teams battling it out. Seattle actually is still in the division race in the NFC west because that division is brutal and it will be a shame if they are hosting a playoff game. Matt Hasselback is a shell of his former self and is not worth starting this week at all against an underrated Carolina secondary. Marshawn Lynch stinks he has had good matchup after good matchup and still can’t do anything. The only player worth starting for Seattle is Mike Williams as a flex, because Hasselback will probably target him 10+ times.
The Panthers finally got the ground game going last week, as Jonathan Stewart returned from his concussion and had 12 carries for 98 yards averaging 8.2 YPC. I expect him to keep it up this week against a struggling Seattle run D now ranked 21st overall after once being ranked in the top 3. That Panthers are going to be running early and often in this game, Stewart could see 20 carries, he’s a #2 back this week and should go over 100 yards with a TD. Mike Goodson will be relegated to passing downs and he’s a decent flex in PPR leagues only, he did see 10 targets last week. It’s a shame Steve Smith is being wasted in Carolina playing with an inept rookie QB, but he might be able to make some noise this week against a terrible Seattle secondary ranked 30th in the league. Still Smith hasn’t had a 100 yard game all year and hasn’t scored since week 2 so you probably want to avoid him if you can.
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay 4:15 Est
Huge matchup here as both teams need to win this game. Atlanta took the first matchup and now the Bucs will try to avoid the sweep while playing in their backyard. Matt Ryan didn’t have a great game last week with only 1 TD but he should improve on that a bit this week. I expect 2 TD’s and around 220 yards from Ryan against T.B’s 9th ranked Pass D. Tony Gonzalez had a nice game last time vs Tampa Bay ( 8-72) and should enjoy similar success this time around. Roddy White in all lineups of course while no other Falcons wideout is consistent enough to rely on. Michael Turner should get his 20+ carries again this week and should go over 100 with a TD. He impressed me last week going over a 100 against an underrated Packers Run D.
Josh Freeman hasn’t been putting up big fantasy numbers but they have been decent. I expect him to bode fairly well this week against the Falcons secondary ranked 27th. Look for 230 yards and 2 TD’s with some bonus rushing yards. Mike Williams will match up with Dunta Robinson and last time out he burnt Robinson on a slant route that went for a 50 yard TD. If Atlanta continues to play cover o (no safety help) look for Freeman to exploit that matchup again with Williams. Williams is a solid #2 WR this week. Kellen Winslow was quiet last time vs Atlanta so don’t expect much from him, although he will be targeted in the redzone. LeGarrette Blount is running with force but the Bucs need to feed him the ball more, he had 1 carry in the 2nd half last week. This isn’t a great matchup vs an Atlanta run D ranked 6th overall and only having allowed 4 Rushing TD’s all year. He could sneak a TD but don’t expect many yards. He’s a decent flex this week.
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore 8:20 Sunday Night
Another huge divisional matchup as the Steelers look to avenge their early season loss where they didn’t have Big Ben. Big Ben will play in this matchup despite a messed up ankle and you have to wonder how mobile is he gonna be in this matchup. Will he be able to extend plays like he usually does? I think the Ravens get the best of him, but Ben should still finish with over 220 yards and a couple of TD’s, but probably a couple of turnovers as well. Mike Wallace should be able to exploit CB’s Josh Wilson or Chris Carr whoever ends up matching up with him. The Steelers will be able to throw against this Ravens secondary and both Wallace and Hines Ward should see some nice success, despite Ben’s bum ankle. Heath Miller should be on benches this week as the Ravens are #1 in defending tight ends. With Ben hurting Rashad Mendenhall will be called upon to take some pressure of the pass game. Mendenhall is running hard, but the Steelers offensive line really isn’t opening up too many holes. The Ravens should be able to contain Mendenhall and hold him under 90 yards. The Ravens have only let up 5 TD’s on the ground so odds are Mendenhall won’t see the endzone.
Joe Flacco has been rock solid in his 3rd year with 18 TD’s to only 8 picks while completing 63% of his passes. He threw for 256 and 1 TD last time out against Pittsburgh, but I think he will improve on that this week. Look for 2 TD’s and about 250 for Flacco. Derrick Mason started real slow, but has come on and now has 4 TD’s on the year and is a reliable flex play every week. Anquan Boldin hasn’t produced to his draft spot with only 2 100 Yd games all year and he hasn’t had one since week 3. Also he only has 6 TD’s and 3 of them came in one game. Remain patient with him, he will produce and is due for a big game, it may come this week. Fred Jackson ran for over 100 last week vs Pittsburgh so why can’t Ray Rice? Rice historically has been pretty good against Pittsburgh and even though he might not see 100 yards rushing, I think he will have over 100 total yards and will be a nice play in PPR leagues. Almost forgot to mention Todd Heap who has been hot lately with 4 TD’s in his last 6 games. Pittsburgh is middle of the pack in defending tight ends but have been exploited by Ben Watson and Rob Gronkowski. Expect Heap to have a nice day with over 50 yards and a possible score.
Jets @ Patriots 8:30 Monday Night
Easily the best game of the week goes down on Monday Night Football. Rex Ryan wants to kick Bill Belichick’s ass and so does Belichick and he probably has game-planned more intensely for this game than any other game this season. How will the Jets defend Tom Brady and this Patriots offense. Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis shouldn’t find many holes against the #4 run d in the league so don’t expect much from him. I am expecting Darrelle Revis to cover Deion Branch most of the day so Branch should be left out of lineups. Wes Welker could be double teamed or the Jets might roll zone coverage at him to prevent him from getting over the middle. The fact is the Jets match up well with these wideouts so I wouldn’t expect big things from either Branch or Welker. The matchup the Patriots will probably look to exploit is Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez who went over 100 yards last time against the Jets. The Jets safeties aren’t good at covering tight ends and it doesn’t help that they lost their signal caller Safety Jim Leonhard for the year. Look for Hernandez to get back in the mix this week. One of these tight ends will probably do some damage. Danny Woodhead makes for a decent flex play in PPR leagues as he will probably be sneak some catches on this Jets defense. I expect the Jets to contain this Pats offense for the most part, look for Brady to finish with around 200 yards and maybe 1 or 2 TD’s.
On the other side, I expect Mark Sanchez and Co. to find some success throwing the football. Jerricho Cotchery returns this week which should help the offense but not your fantasy lineups. Look for Santonio Holmes to get open against Rookie Devin McCourty. Holmes should finish with around 6 catches for 80 yards and a possible score. Braylon Edwards has been inconsistent so it’s hard to guess what he will do. He’s still worth a flex play. Dustin Keller abused this Patriots secondary in week 2, so expect Belichick to try to take that away from Sanchez, but I still think Keller will have a big game as the Jets know they need to get Keller involved more.
Shonn Greene and Ladainian Tomlinson are kind of canceling each other out right now as neither has seen a 100 yard game in weeks. Both are low-end flex plays this week as I think the Jets will really try to pass the ball on this 32nd ranked Patriots Secondary.