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Week 9 Fantasy Football Matchups

by | Senior Fantasy Writer
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Arizona Cardinals at Green Bay Packers -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Lambeau Field
Arizona Cardinals
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB John Skelton   Packers have allowed just 2 pass TDs over last three games. Skelton's O-line makes him very vulnerable.
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling   Forget it. Packers have allowed four rush TDs, two 100-yard RBs through eight games.
WR Larry Fitzgerald After some shaky games, Packers pass D has allowed just two pass TDs in their last four. Fitzgerald will draw tough coverage.
WR Andre Roberts Benefits from Fitzgerald's coverage. Has 20 targets in last two games with 7 catches in each.
TE Rob Housler   Only one TE has scored on the Packers over their last six games. Don't like Lewis' chances.
DST Cardinals   The 49ers, Bears and Texans DST have totaled 11 or fewer Fantasy points vs. the Packers. Cards can't be trusted.
Green Bay Packers
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Aaron Rodgers Like you're sitting him. Alex Smith threw 3 TDs vs. ARI on Monday, Rodgers has 30+ Fantasy points in 4 of last 5.
RB Alex Green Seems like he'll remain the Packers' primary rusher. Cards have allowed 4 rush TDs & 118.2 rush yards per game over last five.
RB James Starks Desperation sleeper. Sounds like he'll see some carries this week.
WR Randall Cobb Have to like Cobb's chances to put up numbers after the Niners had two WRs total three touchdowns last week.
WR James Jones Though his stats have cooled, he has 13 catches in his last two games on 19 targets. Worth a look.
TE Jermichael Finley Easy week to sit Finley: Cards third-best in Fantasy points allowed to tight ends.
DST Packers Obvious must start. Each of the last five opposing DSTs vs. ARI have posted 15+ Fantasy points.

With Greg Jennings still awaiting surgery and Jordy Nelson's hamstring keeping his status up in the air, the Packers' passing game can't be considered quite as explosive as normal. That's turned the attention to the run game, which has struggled since Cedric Benson's Week 5 injury. Alex Green has received some compliments from the coaches but there's nothing nice about the 2.4 rush average he's had over his last three games. Worse yet, he's had 20-plus carries per game. Don't be surprised to see the Packers become impatient and give James Starks more than the one carry he had last week against the Jaguars. Either way, the Cardinals hung in there against the 49ers' running backs on Monday and could find the going easier here, forcing Rodgers to ultimately do what he does best and throw.

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Cleveland Browns Stadium
Baltimore Ravens
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Joe Flacco Mixed success for Flacco in career at CLE. Browns have allowed 15 pass TDs this year but zero in last two vs. Luck & Rivers.
RB Ray Rice Browns haven't allowed a TD to RB in their last three, but 3 RBs have totaled 100+ yards in Browns' last two.
WR Torrey Smith Burned the Browns for 97 yards & TD in Week 4 meeting, but that was without Joe Haden. Might be tougher this time.
WR Anquan Boldin Had nine catches vs. CLE in Week 4 for 131 yards but has never scored at CLE. Browns allowing 132.7 yards per game to WRs over last three.
TE Dennis Pitta Browns have cleaned up vs. tight ends (2 TDs allowed, no 70-yard receivers), shut down Gates last week.
DST Ravens After allowing four DSTs to top 12+ Fantasy points, Browns have held last four to 10 Fantasy points or fewer.
Cleveland Browns
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Brandon Weeden Ravens have allowed back-to-back 250+ yard, 2 TD passers since CB Webb's injury. Still nervous to trust Weeden after last week.
RB Trent Richardson Imagine BAL will aim to shut Richardson down, but Ravens have allowed 15+ Fantasy points to RB each of last 4 games including Richardson in Week 4.
WR Josh Gordon Still has value. Weeden will take shots at Gordon in end zone, just missed on a score last week.
WR Greg Little Desperation option. Seems to have reclaimed big role despite case of the dropsies.
DST Browns Only two teams have held Ravens to under 23 points this year. Browns allowing 23.2 points per game.

The Ravens could be in for more than they bargained for in this one. Let's start with Baltimore's troubles on the road: They're 1-2 and averaging 15.0 points per game against the Eagles, Chiefs and Texans. They also couldn't slam the door versus the Browns on a Thursday night game at their place in Week 4. Since that game they've lost Ladarius Webb and Ray Lewis and their offense has averaged 263.3 yards per game. They're familiar with the Browns of course but so are the Browns with them. The difference this time is that the Browns will have cornerback Joe Haden back for this game along with defensive tackle Phil Taylor, both of whom could cause problems for the sluggish Ravens. The Browns have allowed zero touchdowns to running backs and have held opponents to 24, 17 and 6 points over the last three weeks. That could spell a tough day for Flacco if the pressure is on his shoulders at the Dawg Pound.

Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Reliant Stadium
Buffalo Bills
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Gunslinging QB the perfect type of player for HOU defense to harass and intercept. Only 2 QBs have 20+ Fantasy points vs. HOU in 2012.
RB Fred Jackson Texans still have yet to allow rush TD to RB but Jackson could rack up decent stats based on touches. Jackson has 17+ touches in each of last two.
RB C.J. Spiller Spiller still getting 16+ touches per week since Jackson's returned but HOU has allowed just two 100+ total yard running backs all year.
WR Steve Johnson Only elite passing teams have busted the Texans this year. Johnson still has yet to top 90 total yards.
TE Scott Chandler Texans have allowed a TD to TE in four of last five, so there is some hope for Chandler.
DST Bills   No DST has posted more than 11 Fantasy points against the Texans. Pass on the Bills.
Houston Texans
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Matt Schaub So what if HOU runs a lot? Schaub has 2+ TDs in 3 of last 4 w/ 30 or fewer pass attempts. Little risky but still OK to start.
RB Arian Foster Obvious must start. BUF allowed 4 rush TDs in last game. Six RBs have had 10+ Fantasy points vs. BUF.
RB Justin Forsett If Texans build a massive lead, here's the back who will eat up yardage in garbage time.
WR Andre Johnson Receivers have 12 TDs in seven games vs. Bills. BUF has allowed 90+ yards to WR in 3 of last 4.
TE Owen Daniels Bills have allowed 10+ Fantasy points to Gronk and V. Davis, the rest have 4 Fantasy points or less. Still like Daniels this week.
DST Texans Fitzpatrick has been intercepted in four straight, sacked in five straight (7 INTs, 8 sacks). Loving the Texans DST as usual.

Before the bye the Bills had two games where they ran 26 times and threw 33 times on average. Both games were competitive and the Bills won one and lost one. Ideally they'd like to roll out a similar attack against the Texans but chances are their defense won't hold up its end of the bargain. You could roll out any stat about the Bills' run defense and no matter what it's bad news for them (example: They're allowing 5.5 rush yards per carry on the season!). Expect the Texans to come out of the gate with a run-heavy offense. With a decent second-half lead the Bills will have to throw more than they have been and that's when Ryan Fitzpatrick gets them into trouble. Unless Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller make big contributions as receivers (they have 307 receiving yards combined through seven games) they'll only post nominal statistics and not deliver monster stats.

Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, FedExField
Carolina Panthers
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Cam Newton QBs have 299+ yards passing in all but one game vs. WAS, all but two have 2+ pass TDs. Cam is a must.
RB Jonathan Stewart Pretty good starter. WAS allowed 10+ Fantasy points to primary RB in each of last four games.
RB DeAngelo Williams   Can't be trusted. Doesn't play much, has 3 or fewer Fantasy points in each of last three games.
WR Steve Smith Should have best game of season. Redskins have allowed seven 100-yard games & 10 TDs to WRs.
WR Brandon LaFell Good sleeper. Redskins allowing 195.0 yards per game to wideouts over their last three.
TE Greg Olsen Must-start. Washington has given up seven scores to tight ends this year including two last week.
DST Panthers Defense is improving but only two DSTs have posted 10+ Fantasy points vs. WAS this season.
Washington Redskins
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Robert Griffin III Interesting matchup. Panthers' pass rush has come alive, pass D has allowed just one QB to throw 2+ TDs against them all year.
RB Alfred Morris ALF is a must. Panthers allowing 109.1 rush yards to RBs this season, got hammered by Matt Forte last week.
WR Santana Moss Panthers have allowed 4 TDs to WRs in their last five games with four WRs topping 90 yards. Still not seeing even 50 pct. of snaps.
DST Redskins Panthers have yielded 10+ Fantasy points to 4 of last 5 DSTs but it takes bravery to start this depleted unit.

The Cam Newton I watched at Chicago had some good moments and some bad moments but still mostly resembled the same quarterback I've seen all season -- with one exception. The Panthers are willing to ride with Newton's arm for better or for worse, but they seemed to be more focused on running the football and also keeping Cam's rushing limited. Here's proof: The 11 carries he has over his last two games are his lowest two-game total so far in his career. And the more the Panthers ask Newton to hand off, the fewer stats he can rack up. There's a silver lining in that his matchup at Washington will be the easiest since he took on the Saints in Week 2. Only two quarterbacks haven't thrown multiple touchdowns on the Redskins' porous secondary and the matchups between receiver Steve Smith and cornerback DeAngelo Hall have been priceless. Newton's passing stats should be enough to keep the Panthers in the hunt for their second win, but whatever he can contribute as a rusher will only make his Fantasy stats shine brighter.

Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, LP Field
Chicago Bears
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Jay Cutler Fantastic matchup (Titans have allowed 17 pass TDs, five 250+ passers) but Cutler's had just three games with 16+ Fantasy points.
RB Matt Forte Titans have allowed 189.0 total yards & 4 TDs to running backs in last three. Forte has 90+ yards in each of last three.
RB Michael Bush   After getting 54 carries in first four games, Bush has 13 carries in his last three with no TDs. Not worth the gamble.
WR Brandon Marshall A must. Titans have allowed 4 TDs to WRs in last four weeks. Marshall snapped three-game TD streak last week.
WR Earl Bennett Bennett's a sleeper because of the matchup. Titans have allowed 152.7 yards per game to WRs in last three weeks.
TE Kellen Davis   Worth considering. Tennessee has allowed 6+ Fantasy points to seven TEs in 8 games.
DST Bears Titans haven't allowed double-digit points to DSTs since Hasselbeck started, but the Bears should change that.
Tennessee Titans
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Matt Hasselbeck No QB has tossed 2 TDs vs. Chicago this year. Hasselbeck an easy guy to avoid.
RB Chris Johnson Bears haven't allowed a rush TD to a RB since Week 1 or a 100-total-RB since Week 2. Heck, only two RBs have 20+ touches vs. CHI.
WR Kendall Wright Averaging 6.8 Fantasy points/game over last five with 35 targets in those games.
WR Nate Washington Has four 10+ Fantasy point games & averages 7.4 points/week. Bears have allowed 10 WRs to 7+ Fantasy points including two last week.
WR Kenny Britt Has the most upside but is averaging the fewest Fantasy points of Titans' big 3 WRs. Bears have given up just three 100-yard games to WRs so far.
TE Jared Cook Low-end option. Bears have allowed just two TEs to top 40 yards receiving.
DST Titans Low-end option. Chicago hasn't exceeded 300 total yards in each of last two while allowing 11 sacks in those games.

The Titans offensive coordinator should be commended for ramping up Chris Johnson's carries. With a steady diet of 18-plus carries in four of the Titans' last five, Johnson has at least 100 total yards in all. For now, Fantasy owners will be delighted with that kind of production, and the truth is that he's been able to rack up 100 or more total yards in eight of his last nine games with at least 18 carries dating back to the start of his troubled 2011 season. Keeping Johnson on that workload against the Bears could be a problem -- only two rushers had 13-plus carries against Chicago this year. That's mostly a function of the Bears' defense typically slamming on the run and offenses trying to throw. You can count on Chicago's front penetrating the gaps and pushing Johnson back when he's not hitting the edges. Despite his hot hand, it might be a wise idea to consider other running back options before going with Johnson.

Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Paul Brown Stadium
Denver Broncos
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Peyton Manning Only 3 QBs have passed for 2 TDs vs. CIN, but Bengals haven't faced offense like Denver's yet. Manning should dominate.
RB Willis McGahee Bengals have allowed four rushing TDs in their last three games. McGahee has 19+ touches in 5 of his last 6.
WR Demaryius Thomas Cincy has allowed a 90+ yard receiver in each of last two but has been stingy giving up TD (just four to wideouts).
WR Eric Decker Has scored in four straight (five TDs) with 4+ catches per game. Half of the 8 WRs with 4+ catches vs. CIN this year had 9+ Fantasy points.
TE Jacob Tamme Could be frequent target for Manning with Cincy's deep CB unit. Tight ends have scored in each of last two vs. CIN.
DST Broncos Dalton has been picked off at least once per game this year, sacked 2+ times in 5 of 7 games. Roll with the Broncos.
Cincinnati Bengals
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Andy Dalton 5 of 7 QBs vs. DEN have tossed 2+ TDs but none have 300+ yards (one over 250 yards).
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis Only two starting RBs have topped 100 rush yards vs. DEN this year; everyone else has under 75 rush yards. That sounds like Green-Ellis.
WR A.J. Green You'll start him but DEN has held WRs to one 80+ yard game & one TD over their last four & shut down Saints' WRs last week.
TE Jermaine Gresham Good Week 9 option. Broncos allowed 3 TDs to TEs in last two, six total to TEs on the season.
DST Bengals   No DST has more than 13 Fantasy points vs. DEN, only three have 10+ points. Bengals have one game with over 13 points.

The first cause of dysfunction in the Bengals' offense is in its running game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis started the season hot against the Ravens and has nosedived since, averaging roughly 3.0 yards per carry from Week 2 on. You'd think the Bengals will re-tool the run game but they just don't have the talent to push Green-Ellis. Making matters worse this week is the Broncos' run defense, which has allowed just two 100-yard rushers and three rushing touchdowns. Regardless, with the Cincinnati run game largely ineffective the offense falls on the shoulders of Andy Dalton. Against the Steelers we saw Dalton completely fold as they schemed to contain A.J. Green and collapse the pocket. The Broncos could follow a similar game plan and force Cincinnati to either lean on their other targets or succumb to sacks and turnovers. If the Bengals could find a third receiver, or solve Green-Ellis' running issues, their offense would have a dramatic turnaround.

Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, EverBank Field
Detroit Lions
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Matthew Stafford Jags have allowed 2 TDs to QBs in each of last five. Stafford has 250+ yards in 6 of 7 games.
RB Mikel Leshoure Jags run defense has gotten tough (1 rush TD to RBs in last five). Lions' run game might become two- or three-headed.
RB Joique Bell Might not be so bad in PPR formats since it looks like he'll work passing downs.
WR Calvin Johnson The matchup is easy: Jaguars have allowed 6 TDs, 164.8 yards to WRs in last four games. But Calvin's knee could keep him at half-speed, if not out of the game entirely.
WR Titus Young Should have some easy opportunities in single coverage against weak Jaguars pass defense. Good No. 3 WR.
WR Ryan Broyles Doesn't play in every three-receiver set for Lions but will get some action. Five targets last week.
TE Brandon Pettigrew Jaguars have been surprisingly good vs. tight ends; Pettigrew has yet to exceed 7 Fantasy points in a game.
DST Lions Each of last four DSTs to play Jaguars have had 11+ Fantasy points. Even without Woodson they should play well.
Jacksonville Jaguars
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Blaine Gabbert Desperation option. Lions have allowed 2 TDs in 4 of last 6 games, Gabbert coming off of just his 300-yard game.
RB Rashad Jennings Lions have allowed at least 100 total yards to 3 of last 4 starting RBs they've faced. Jennings has topped 100 total in each of last two.
WR Cecil Shorts Lions have given up 527 yards and three TDs just to WRs in their last three games.
WR Justin Blackmon   Can't trust him. Had a career-best 67 yards last week. Could match it this week.
TE Marcedes Lewis   Score by Zach Miller last week broke a three-game scoreless streak vs. tight ends for Lions.
DST Jaguars   Lions' offense starting to roar: 2 of last 3 DSTs vs. DET posted 4 Fantasy points. Lions avg. 407.6 total yards per game.

After a slow start, the Jaguars run defense has started to round into form. I noticed their defensive line really stepping up at Oakland a couple of weeks ago and they did the same thing at Green Bay last week. So while they're ranked low against the run the reality is that they've given up 309 rush yards on their last 74 carries by running backs (a 4.1 average). That's not great but it's an improvement. The Lions are averaging about the same yards per carry over their last four games but they've run the ball less than 20 times in three of those four games. After Matthew Stafford's first great game of 2012 it's not likely that the Lions will morph into a run-based offense, especially against a Jags pass defense that's been beaten up by Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers in consecutive weeks. Throw in Joique Bell and Kevin Smith starting to eat away at the passing downs and you can't expect Mikel Leshoure to have an outstanding game unless he breaks several long runs.

Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Lucas Oil Stadium
Miami Dolphins
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Ryan Tannehill Can't use him but 5 of 7 QBs vs. IND have thrown at least 2 TDs, four have 240+ yards.
RB Reggie Bush Colts run D has allowed 8 rush TDs & 147.6 total yards per game. Despite limited production, Bush is worth another start.
RB Daniel Thomas Played much of second half last week, especially after Bush fumbled. Could sneak a goal-line TD.
WR Brian Hartline Solid sleeper if he plays. Colts have allowed 8 TDs to WRs in their last four, though no WR has topped 90 yards vs. IND since Week 2.
TE Anthony Fasano Desperation option. Only catch last week was for a TD, Colts have been strong vs. opposing tight ends.
DST Dolphins Expect a number of sacks, maybe an INT, but only 2 DSTs vs. IND have totaled 10+ Fantasy points.
Indianapolis Colts
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Andrew Luck Though only one QB has 2+ TDs vs. MIA this year, Fins giving up 300.1 pass yards per game. Luck avgeraging 271.3 pass yards per game at home with 2 TDs per game.
RB Donald Brown Expectations are low. Miami hasn't allowed a rush TD since Week 1, allowed their first 100+ total yard RB last week.
RB Vick Ballard Sure to lose snaps with Brown back in the swing of things. Can't be trusted for standard Fantasy use.
WR Reggie Wayne MIA has allowed 197.5 yards per game to WRs over last four games with 5 TDs. Wayne has never scored on Dolphins.
WR Donnie Avery   Has 4 catches in each of last three games for no more than 60 yards & no TDs. Can't count on him.
TE Dwayne Allen Colts TEs have totaled 44 targets over last five games. No TE has scored on Miami but four have had 60+ yards against them.
DST Colts   Colts defense is weak, can't be trusted even though DSTs vs. MIA have posted 10+ Fantasy points in four of last five weeks.

It's been a while since we've seen a big game from Reggie Bush or Brian Hartline, but the Dolphins' formula for winning three straight has been to rely on its defense. Miami's offense has totaled 17, 17 and 23 points during their three recent victories all while Bush and Hartline have been rather pedestrian (one touchdown scored between them in those games). While the Dolphins might prefer to stick to that plan the Colts have been dangerous at home, scoring nearly 22 points per game at Lucas Oil Field. The problem for the Colts is that their defense is completely out of whack and talents like Bush and Hartline should capitalize. Don't lose sight of the fact that the Dolphins overcame matchups against the Bengals, Rams and Jets, three teams with good defensive coaches that likely focused on slowing down the Miami playmakers first. The hunch here is that the Colts' brain trust won't come up with a good plan to keep the Dolphins' fast men down for long.

Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks -- Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, CenturyLink Field
Minnesota Vikings
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Christian Ponder Seahawks have become shaky vs. QBs, allowing two 350+ yard, 2+ TD passers in the last three. Not sure Ponder is worth starting but he might be serviceable.
RB Adrian Peterson You'll start AP anyway but Seahawks have allowed 2 TDs and 109 total yards per game to RBs.
WR Percy Harvin Lions used slot receivers to tear up Seahawks last week. Bodes well for Harvin, who's a must start anyway.
TE Kyle Rudolph Might have to keep blocking to protect Ponder from pass rush, plus SEA is strong vs. TEs.
DST Vikings Two of last three DSTs vs. SEA posted under 9 Fantasy points. Vikes have scored under 4 Fantasy points in 2 of last 3.
Seattle Seahawks
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Russell Wilson One-week sleeper. MIN secondary struggling, down a starting CB. Vikings have allowed 19+ Fantasy points to QBs in each of 3 road games.
RB Marshawn Lynch Must start. Vikes have allowed 134.0 rush yards per game over last two with 3 total TDs to RBs.
WR Golden Tate Ride the trend: Vikings have done well vs. No. 1 WRs but awful vs. No. 2s. Tate's a very sneaky sleeper this week.
WR Sidney Rice Sure to draw tough coverage. Has yet to score in consecutive games as a Seahawk (17 games).
DST Seahawks Each of last three DSTs to play Vikings have had 13+ Fantasy points. Seahawks should rebound this week.

Christian Ponder has two passing touchdowns in four games this season. It might come as no surprise to learn that Kyle Rudolph has scored in each of those four games. Similarly, in the games Rudolph hasn't scored in, Ponder has struggled. If we are noticing it, you better believe NFL coaches are too, and we've seen defenses force the Vikings to either keep Rudolph in as a blocker or take Rudolph away with tight coverage. How many times did we see Ponder throw in Jerome Simpson's direction with Simpson in single coverage last week? Defenses will gamble on that one-on-one matchup rather than leave the gigantic Rudolph against a smaller defender. Enter the matchup at Seattle, which will already be uncomfortable for a young passer like Ponder. The Seahawks have the safeties and linebackers to cover Rudolph on pass routes as well as the pass rushers to keep him on the line to protect Ponder. I've been a huge proponent of Rudolph since the summer but I just don't see how he'll contribute outside of a possible goal-line catch against Seattle.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Oakland Raiders -- Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, O.co Coliseum
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Josh Freeman Freeman's hot but only two QBs have had 250+ yards and 2+ pass TDs vs. OAK. The rest have struggled.
RB Doug Martin Raiders have been on-again, off-again vs. the run, haven't been great two weeks in a row. Martin's hot and the Raiders are due for a regression.
WR Vincent Jackson Familiar with Raiders from days with Chargers but never had a monster game in Oakland. WRs have 1 TD in each of last 4 vs. OAK.
WR Mike Williams OAK has allowed 153.75 yards on average to WRs over last four. Williams has 12+ Fantasy points in 2 of last 3.
DST Buccaneers Three of the last four DSTs to play OAK have posted 10+ Fantasy points. Bucs have 13+ Fantasy points in 2 of last 3.
Oakland Raiders
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Carson Palmer Bucs have allowed 250+ yards to 6 of 7 opposing QBs but only two have 2+ TDs. Palmer has only one game with 2+ TDs.
RB Darren McFadden Tampa Bay has allowed rush TD to RB in 5 of last 6. McFadden has 11+ Fantasy points in 3 of last 4.
WR Denarius Moore Receivers averaging 200.3 yards per game in last 3 vs. TB with a TD in each. Moore should keep up his hot streak.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey Decent sleeper. Has 8+ Fantasy points in each of last two games, Raiders should continue to throw a bunch.
TE Brandon Myers Bucs have allowed just three TEs to get 7+ Fantasy points. Expect mediocre numbers from Myers.
DST Raiders Risky. Raiders have posted 11+ Fantasy points in each of last three. But Bucs have scored 28+ points in each of last three.

The loss of Carl Nicks is a whopper for the Bucs in every way imaginable. He provided experienced veteran leadership in the huddle and was solid as a run blocker and pass protector. The Bucs allowed the fifth fewest sacks with Nicks and Doug Martin ran especially well to Nicks' side over the last three weeks. The roster shuffle might result in guard Ted Larsen rejoining the starting lineup after getting benched earlier this season for poor play. This comes as the Bucs prepare to play at Oakland against a Raiders defense that has done a nice job attacking the line of scrimmage of late, totaling three sacks in each of their two. Already down three starting linemen from the start of the year, the Bucs' offense could look a lot different starting with this matchup.

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants -- Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, MetLife Stadium
Pittsburgh Steelers
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Ben Roethlisberger Every team has thrown for 240+ pass yards vs. NYG, five have 2+ total TDs. Giants have allowed 2+ pass TDs in every 2012 home game. With run game in rough shape Big Ben is going to throw plenty.
RB Isaac Redman Wish Jonathan Dwyer was healthy. Redman had horrible rushing average in every game he played previously this year, might make more of a dent as a receiver out of the backfield.
WR Mike Wallace New York allowing 193.0 yards per game to WRs in last four with 4 TDs. Wallace has 9+ Fantasy points in 3 of 4 road games.
WR Antonio Brown Should get more work with run game sputtering. Giants have allowed eight WRs to land 7+ Fantasy points in last four games. Brown has 7+ Fantasy points in 5 of 7.
TE Heath Miller Giants have yet to allow a TD to a TE but gor ripped for 167 yards last week by Jason Witten.
DST Steelers The last five DSTs to take on the Giants have averaged 4.7 Fantasy points. Steelers D has had one good road game this year.
New York Giants
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Eli Manning Good, not great. Steelers pass defense has held each of last three QBs to 1 TD. Manning has 0 or 1 pass TD in each of last three.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw Primary RBs haven't scored on the Steelers since McFadden in Week 3. Steelers allowing 78.3 rush yards per game over last three.
RB Andre Brown Steelers have allowed a short-yardage rush TD in 2 of last 3. Brown might be a 'TD-or-bust' candidate.
WR Victor Cruz Steelers have allowed TD to WR in each of last three & 5 of last 6. Cruz has TD in each of last three at home.
WR Hakeem Nicks Nicks has 53 or fewer yards with no TDs in 4 of 5 games. This isn't the week to expect a huge breakout though he is on the mend.
TE Martellus Bennett Steelers haven't allowed more than 6 Fantasy points to a TE since Week 1. Bennett has under 6 Fantasy points in 4 of last 5.
DST Giants Each of the last six DSTs vs. PIT have posted 9 Fantasy points or fewer. See if you can find a better DST.

The Giants have won three straight but Eli Manning's totals haven't been great in any of them. One factor is that he hasn't thrown as much as he did in his first four games. Against the 49ers and Cowboys, two teams with excellent pass rushes, Manning threw 28 and 29 times, respectively. Against the Redskins Manning attempted 40 passes and came away with 337 yards but just one score. All three matchups were tough for Manning. The games against the Niners and Cowboys meant lots of pressure on Manning, which he avoided in part because he didn't drop back too often (one sack in both games combined). As for the Redskins, they've always found a way to challenge Manning and they did for most of the game until Eli hit Victor Cruz on a bomb for a long touchdown. Take that away and the Redskins would have upended the Giants. Like the Niners and Cowboys, the Steelers boast a menacing pass rush in a 3-4 front. They've played much better lately and should come up with a scheme to contain Victor Cruz and a less-than-100 percent Hakeem Nicks. I would expect Manning to throw more than 30 times here as the Steelers can put up points, but that doesn't guarantee big numbers. One last thing: The Redskins' defense is supposed to be built like the Steelers', except the Steelers have more talent.

Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons -- Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, Georgia Dome
Dallas Cowboys
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Tony Romo Only one QB has thrown 2 TDs vs. ATL, only two have 250+ yards. Romo can help or hurt by throwing all over the place.
RB Felix Jones Falcons have allowed 138.0 total yards per game to RBs with 3 TDs over last three, but will Felix get enough touches?
WR Miles Austin Falcons have given up 100+ yards to a WR just once all season, only four WRs have 80+ yards.
WR Dez Bryant Only four receivers have scored on the Falcons through seven games. Dez has scored in just one game this season.
TE Jason Witten You'll start Witten but just one TD allowed to TEs in the Falcons' last six games.
DST Cowboys   Only two DSTs have posted 10+ Fantasy points against the Falcons, a mark the Cowboys hit just once over last four games.
Atlanta Falcons
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Matt Ryan You'll start Ryan but Cowboys have held all but one QB to 1 pass TD or less, only one has 250+ pass yards.
RB Michael Turner Positive for Turner: Each of last 5 rush TDs allowed by DAL have been from 3 yards or closer from the goal line.
WR Roddy White Only 3 WRs have posted 70+ yards against Cowboys but two have been big, physical WRs. It's Roddy's turn to put up numbers.
WR Julio Jones Cowboys have been stingy in allowing the big play (just six pass plays of 30+ yards allowed all year). Jones hasn't scored 10+ Fantasy points in back-to-back games this year.
TE Tony Gonzalez Only two TE s have posted 7+ Fantasy points vs. DAL and none since Week 2. Gonzalez has 5 Fantasy points or less in 3 of last 4.
DST Falcons DSTs have scored on the Cowboys in three of their last four with 6 sacks & 10 INTs in those games. Falcons look good.

Take one look at how the Cowboys have operated for the last two weeks, and for much of Jason Garrett's tenure, and you can safely assume that they'll throw the football whether they have to or not. Felix Jones was the rare Fantasy running back who had over 10 carries and scored a touchdown and still didn't have even six Fantasy points last week. Nobody fears either him or Philip Tanner. Garrett knows that and unless the run game surprises everyone the Dallas offense will fall into Tony Romo's hands. He nearly led Dallas to an improbable come-from-behind victory last week against the Giants if not for Dez Bryant being ruled out of bounds on a long touchdown catch, so he has the chops to throw effectively. However the Falcons' pass rush has been a nice surprise and the secondary hasn't skipped a beat without Brent Grimes patroling a sideline. Playing in a loud Georgia Dome in prime time against an undefeated Falcons team that will surely find ways to put up points of their own, Romo could have another game with a lot of yards and a lot of turnovers but not necessarily a lot of touchdowns.

Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints -- Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Philadelphia Eagles
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Michael Vick Each of last 4 QBs vs. NO have tossed 300+ yards, all but one QB vs. NO in '12 have 2+ total TDs. Vick should shine.
RB LeSean McCoy Saints allowing 182 total yards per game to RBs over last four including a 100+ total yard RB in each.
WR DeSean Jackson A must. Saints giving up 214.1 yards per game to wideouts. Seven receivers have 90+ yards against them on the year.
WR Jeremy Maclin New Orleans has allowed 11 TDs to wideouts in their last four games including three last week.
TE Brent Celek Saints' TE defense beginning to crack as they've allowed 70+ yards to TEs in each of last two.
DST Eagles   Saints have been tough on DSTs, plus Eagles have 16 Fantasy points in their last four combined.
New Orleans Saints
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Drew Brees Four of last five QBs to play PHI have 2+ TDs against them. Brees has 16 TDs in last five.
RB Pierre Thomas Should fill in admirably for injured Darren Sproles. Capable of 15-plus touches vs. Eagles' run D that allows 136.0 total yards per game to RBs.
WR Marques Colston Seven WRs have 9+ Fantasy points against the Eagles in their last five. Colston has 10+ targets in each of last four.
WR Lance Moore Back in the dome! Six WRs have 80+ yards vs. PHI in their last five games. Should get more involved with Sproles out.
TE Jimmy Graham Tough matchup for Graham but you'll start him. Eagles have yet to allow 9+ Fantasy points to a tight end. Graham should be the first.
DST Saints   Five of seven DSTs vs. PHI have posted 11+ Fantasy points, but NO has yet to exceed 11 Fantasy points.

The decision to stick with Michael Vick was a wise one for Andy Reid. Benching him for rookie Nick Foles would have reeked of desperation and change for the sake of change, two factors a team with playoff hopes should never have. The best news is that Vick should put up some numbers so long as he doesn't fumble the ball away. The Saints are allowing 317.0 pass yards per game and have allowed multiple passing scores in all but two matchups this year. Also helping the Eagles' cause is a battle of wits between Reid and Steve Spagnuolo, who is the Saints' defensive coordinator. Vick blasted Spagnuolo's defense in St. Louis last season for a couple of touchdowns and a lot of rushing yards, and that defense might have been as good as the one he's running now in New Orleans. Vick has completed 62.4 percent of his passes in his last four games but for just 6.5 yards per attempt. That number should be significantly higher against a sloppy Saints pass defense. With so much to play for, Vick should be counted on to come up big.

Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers -- Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, Qualcomm Stadium
Kansas City Chiefs
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Matt Cassel   Chargers have allowed 2+ pass TDs in 4 of last 5 but Cassel has four 2+ TD games in his last 15 games.
RB Jamaal Charles Charles has 14+ Fantasy points in games following each of his last four when he had less than 12 carries & no TDs. Bolts got ravaged by Trent Richardson last week.
RB Peyton Hillis   Not a safe bet: Chargers have allowed just 5 total TDs to RBs, none from inside the 5-yard line.
WR Dwayne Bowe Nine WRs have posted 8+ Fantasy points on the Bolts this year; Bowe has TD in 2 of last 3 vs. SD.
DST Chiefs Chargers posted 37 points on Chiefs in earlier 2012 meeting & 20+ points in 5 of 7 games. Can't trust this DST.
San Diego Chargers
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Philip Rivers Six of seven QBs vs. KC have 2+ TDs including Rivers in Week 4. Rivers has 2 TDs in 3 of last 4 but his arm seems suspect.
RB Ryan Mathews Should do well after limited snaps in last game vs. KC (remember Jackie Battle?). Chiefs have allowed 177.6 total yards to RBs in their last three.
WR Malcom Floyd Risky play but Chiefs have allowed 10 TDs to WRs this year including five in their last two games.
TE Antonio Gates KC's coverage on tight ends has been solid over their last four, starting when they shut out Gates in second half of Week 4.
DST Chargers Every DST vs. KC has posted at least 11 Fantasy points, three have found the end zone. The Bolts are a sleeper.

There's a mix of trouble hampering San Diego's passing game. One key factor is that the receiving corps hasn't panned out like Norv Turner had hoped and it's not getting any better. Eddie Royal won't play, Robert Meachem might sit out with a hamstring injury and that leaves Malcom Floyd, Danario Alexander and ex-Charger Seyi Ajirotutu among the wide receivers. If Meachem is out, expect the Chargers to run a lot of two-tight end sets and get a guy like Dante Rosario more involved. Rosario had five targets on 29 snaps last week after getting eight snaps in Week 6, seven in Week 5 and 16 in Week 4 against these Chiefs. The second tight end helps the offensive line block the Chiefs' pass rushers and provides a sneaky short-area and red-zone target for Rivers, and we've seen Rosario do well in that role before. Rookie Ladarius Green might also get involved but chances are the Chargers will lean on veteran help if their receiving cupboard is bare.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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