Week 13 Fantasy Football Matchups

To prepare you as best we can for your week of Fantasy Football, we've devised this series of previews for each NFL game. We'll give you a taste of what to expect, then rank each significant Fantasy contributor on a scale from 0-5 logos (with five logos suggesting can't-miss; a player or unit without any logos suggests you probably shouldn't start him under any circumstances). The rankings take the matchup into account, but injuries and other significant factors also contribute.

N.Y. Jets at Buffalo Bills
Thursday, 8:20 pm, Rogers Centre
Great matchup for the Jets as they'll be able to run the ball effectively against the Bills, who struggle against the run. Don't look for the Bills to get much pressure on Mark Sanchez, but for that matter don't expect Sanchez to throw much as the Jets won't risk putting the game in his hands until they have to. Look for Thomas Jones to do well on over 20 carries with Shonn Greene picking up some reps and having a chance to grind down the clock. Buffalo's offense has perked up in spite of its terrible offensive line, but this will be a tough matchup for them. Terrell Owens' success has come lining up to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's right, and that's where he'll find Darrelle Revis covering him. That's bad news for Owens, who will have a hard time shedding him for a long touchdown after he did it in consecutive weeks against lesser experienced corners. The Bills might opt to move Owens around and get him away from Revis, or to just take what the Jets defense gives. Lee Evans and rookie tight end Shawn Nelson might come up with some decent production, but don't expect the Bills to fan out their receivers and try to take advantage of the Jets' lack of cornerback depth. It does look like the Bills will lean on Fred Jackson to run the ball, or at least have him split with Marshawn Lynch. Either way, Jackson should be counted on to have better totals since he'll catch the ball out of the backfield some. He's got a shot at being effective since the Jets' run defense is still under the microscope in spite of their showing against the Panthers last week.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Mark Sanchez QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Thomas Jones RB Fred Jackson
Shonn Greene RB Marshawn Lynch
Jerricho Cotchery WR Lee Evans
Braylon Edwards WR Terrell Owens
Dustin Keller TE Shawn Nelson
Jay Feely K Rian Lindell
Jets DST Bills
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Georgia Dome
DeSean Jackson seems unlikely for the Eagles this week after suffering a concussion, but the matchup is good enough for them anyway. The Falcons' secondary has been exposed -- they've allowed seven touchdowns over their last three games against the Panthers, Giants and Buccaneers. Now Donovan McNabb gets a shot at them and should make good use of sure-handed Jason Avant and turf-burner Jeremy Maclin. His outlook would be brighter if Jackson was active, but McNabb will still do fine. Reggie Brown might make an appearance as the third man in three-receiver sets. Tight end Brent Celek has a bum thumb but should still be fine, and the absence of Jackson opens him up for more catches than normal. LeSean McCoy should also provide a good rushing presence but expect the Eagles to throw plenty. The Falcons will go with Chris Redman at quarterback, and frankly he's not that far of a dropoff from Matt Ryan. His biggest problem is holding on to the ball for too long, and with the Falcons' offensive line banged up he could be pushed into some turnovers. But I like that the Falcons are leaning more on Michael Jenkins, and he'll be locked into single coverage as the Eagles will be forced to put a safety over the top of Tony Gonzalez and another deep on Roddy White's side. If Redman continues to play like we've seen him over the last few years, he'll take some shots downfield but also take what the defense gives him. Look for Gonzalez to get a lot of looks not only because Redman will look his way when he's singled up, but because the Eagles stink against opposing tight ends. All this and there hasn't been a word about the Falcons' run game! It would be a surprise for Michael Turner to play, so expect Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood to split the workload. Norwood was more effective last week and would be the bigger problem for the Eagles because of his speed and versatility, but Snelling will be the one playing near the goal line. However, Snelling will be limited by the Falcons' O-line not being at full strength. That might make all the difference in this game.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Donovan McNabb QB Chris Redman
LeSean McCoy RB Jerious Norwood
Leonard Weaver   RB Jason Snelling
Jeremy Maclin WR Roddy White
Jason Avant WR Michael Jenkins
Brent Celek TE Tony Gonzalez
David Akers K Matt Bryant
Eagles DST Falcons
Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Heinz Field
This should be a decidedly one-sided affair. The Steelers defense should rebound against a Raiders offense that barely has a pulse. Oakland's averaging just under 10 points per game on the road and the combination of a hostile Pittsburgh environment and a pressure-laden Steelers defense will be way too much for Bruce Gradkowski. It is worth noting that the Raiders have been ramping up Darren McFadden's workload, hinting that he could see more than 15 touches in this game. Obviously, no Raider should be starting in Fantasy given their brutal matchup. The opposite is true for the Steelers, who will likely be a bit more run heavy than normal. Ben Roethlisberger appears to be ready to play after missing Week 12, but Rashard Mendenhall has the dream matchup and should be the driving force of the offense. There will be times where Roethlisberger will throw -- the Raiders' secondary showed cracks last week against the deep ball -- and that's where targets like Mike Wallace and Santonio Holmes could end up being valuable. Expect the Steelers to be successful on both sides of the ball.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Bruce Gradkowski   QB Ben Roethlisberger
Darren McFadden RB Rashard Mendenhall
Justin Fargas   RB Mewelde Moore
Chaz Schilens   WR Hines Ward
Louis Murphy   WR Mike Wallace
Darrius Heyward-Bey   WR Santonio Holmes
Zach Miller TE Heath Miller
Sebastian Janikowski K Jeff Reed
Raiders   DST Steelers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Bank of America Stadium
Carolina's run defense has slipped backward after a few weeks of being effective. The Buccaneers clearly aren't afraid to throw -- they're actually doing fairly well with Josh Freeman -- but they'd love to get the chains moving with Cadillac Williams as well. Expect the Bucs to balance the pass with the run in the early going, looking for single coverage on Kellen Winslow and Antonio Bryant. This will also be a nice week for Freeman to take off on some runs -- he might even wind up being the Bucs' leading rusher. Williams has seemingly hit a wall -- he has one carry over 10 yards in his last four games. The Panthers walloped the Buccaneers with the run in their Week 6 meeting and probably will try that formula again here, especially with Matt Moore starting in place of an injured Jake Delhomme. Moore has a decent arm but the Bucs' secondary is actually the strong suit of their defense. So long as the Panthers' offensive line can fend off the Bucs' defensive line, both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart should have a shot at good, if not great, numbers. But along that line of thinking comes the reality of Steve Smith working against a defense familiar with his exploits and with a quarterback with minimal experience. Smith and Moore worked together in 2007 -- they totaled 22 connections for 257 yards and a score in Moore's three starts. Smitty isn't a safe choice this week given all the intangibles, even with Moore practicing with him this week. Look for the Panthers to go heavy on the running.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Josh Freeman QB Matt Moore
Cadillac Williams RB DeAngelo Williams
Derrick Ward   RB Jonathan Stewart
Antonio Bryant WR Steve Smith
Michael Clayton WR Muhsin Muhammad
Kellen Winslow TE Dante Rosario
Connor Barth K John Kasay
Buccaneers DST Panthers
New Orleans Saints at Washington Redskins
Sunday, 1:00 pm, FedEx Field
The Saints were seemingly tested last week at home against the Patriots, but the Redskins will also give them a challenge. You can start expecting some strong efforts from Saints' opponents going forward as everyone they face will want to try and knock them off. But the key word is 'try' -- despite their No. 1 ranking against the pass, they've got some holes in their secondary. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall is hurting and fellow corner Fred Smoot has been an eyesore; it's a certainty that whoever lines up across from Smoot will get a lot of passes thrown his way. That typically is Marques Colston playing to Brees' left, so expect him to lead the charge on offense with Robert Meachem also expected to keep on producing. The Redskins should do enough to hold down the Saints' run game and tight end Jeremy Shockey -- they're strong up the middle, especially if Albert Haynesworth is playing. Washington's game plan will have to revolve around timely passing to win the time of possession battle. They've done elements of that over their last three games and been mildly successful (one win, two three-point losses). Jason Campbell will have to take on the brunt of the workload, spreading the ball around to different receivers. Still, the Saints match up well with the Redskins and will have an edge as their defense is managed by Gregg Williams, who coordinated the Redskins defense for four years until 2008. Williams has to be familiar with Campbell and will undoubtedly find ways to pressure him into turning the ball over. Even playing on a short week on grass on the road, the Saints are just too strong for the Washington defense.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Drew Brees QB Jason Campbell
Pierre Thomas RB Rock Cartwright
Mike Bell RB Quinton Ganther
Marques Colston WR Santana Moss
Robert Meachem WR Antwaan Randle El
Jeremy Shockey TE Fred Davis
John Carney K Shaun Suisham
Saints DST Redskins
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Arrowhead Stadium
The Broncos will be able to have their way here against the Chiefs, who have struggled more against the pass than the run but will still fail to put up much resistence. Their gameplan against the Giants reverted back to being run oriented with a dose of short-area passing (Kyle Orton totaled five deep passes the entire game). Once the game was in their favor they really did a solid job running behind their strong O-line with Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. Imagine the same elements of that plan to work here, albeit with a bit more passing as the Chiefs have allowed back-to-back 300-yard passers and struggle with the deep ball. Look for Brandon Marshall to have a solid game; it helps that he's been a Chiefs nemesis over his last three games (283 receiving yards, five touchdowns). Throw in 11 days of rest and you've got plenty of reason to believe they'll be successful. The matchup isn't nearly as good for Kansas City. K.C.'s best option here is to run with Jamaal Charles, who should find some success so long as he stays involved in the passing game, which he should be. Eventually the Chiefs will need to (or be forced to) pass, and that's when things will get hairy: The Broncos match up very well with the Chiefs receivers and will also have a superb advantage in having Elvis Dumervil come off the edge and put pressure on Matt Cassel. He wasn't sacked last week by San Diego but was taken down seven times in the two matchups prior against the Steelers and Raiders. It shouldn't end well for Kansas City, which has topped 21 points just twice all year (and once with Cassel under center).
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kyle Orton QB Matt Cassel
Knowshon Moreno RB Jamaal Charles
Correll Buckhalter RB Kolby Smith
Brandon Marshall WR Chris Chambers
Eddie Royal WR Bobby Wade
Tony Scheffler TE Leonard Pope
Matt Prater K Ryan Succop
Broncos DST Chiefs
Detroit Lions at Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Paul Brown Stadium
The Lions need the 11 days of rest they'll have before entering this matchup, but it won't be enough to help them pull out the victory. Cincinnati has been lights out defensively and matches up well with the Detroit offense. Expect the Lions to lean on the short-area game and even consider the matchups of backup tight ends Will Heller and Casey FitzSimmons on Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga or safety Chinedum Ndukwe as good ones. They'll also lean on Kevin Smith both as a rusher and as a receiver, though he'll struggle on handoffs. Calvin Johnson might do fairly well since he's bigger than the Bengals' cornerbacks, but they can afford to play a two-deep zone and could keep him from breaking long catches. Matthew Stafford will ultimately have no choice but to throw and thus should turn the ball over a couple of times. The Lions will be hard pressed to score. Meanwhile, Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco said this is the week that the Bengals offense needs to throw the ball. After two weeks of running way more than throwing, Johnson is correct -- but it's because the Lions are dead last against the pass, allowing 281.4 pass yards per game and a whopping 27 touchdowns on the season through the air. The Lions have allowed 300-yard passers in four straight games and 100-yard receivers in three straight games. Considering what the Bengals have done in two games against better NFC North teams already this season (eight passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns) it's very possible they take to the air. That goes double since Cedric Benson will be returning from a hip injury and rookie Bernard Scott has a turf toe, so running the ball will be something they'll likely only sprinkle in.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matthew Stafford QB Carson Palmer
Kevin Smith RB Cedric Benson
Aaron Brown   RB Larry Johnson
Calvin Johnson WR Chad Ochocinco
Dennis Northcutt   WR Laveranues Coles
Will Heller TE J.P. Foschi
Jason Hanson K Shayne Graham
Lions   DST Bengals
St. Louis Rams at Chicago Bears
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Soldier Field
The Rams have a chance here. Granted, their offensive line is down two starters, but so might the Bears defense after leaders Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman suffered injuries last week. Chicago's defense got worn down last week by Adrian Peterson and should suffer a similar fate at the hands of Steven Jackson. But the Rams have a developing receiving corps that shouldn't be overmatched here at all: Donnie Avery's speed will be something the Bears will have trouble with, and Danny Amendola is emerging as a short-area threat similar to Wes Welker. Kyle Boller is prone to making mistakes and he'll struggle to make good choices in the face of the Bears' pass rush. But a lot of handing off to Jackson and play-action passing should be enough for the Rams to move the chains and put some points on the board -- remember, they've put up at least 17 points in three of their last four games, which isn't entirely bad considering how they started. Chicago's offense, on the other hand, has been just as brutal. Given the play of the Bears' offensive line, there's a realistic chance that Matt Forte won't be able to follow in the footsteps of the last two rushers who faced the Rams. Forte doesn't have blazing speed and is a fairly big target, so between that and the Bears' inconsistent O-line the Rams might be able to limit his ground gains and get what they'd probably be willing to take on: Jay Cutler passing the ball. Cutler's confidence in his receivers is clearly down, and even with the Rams ranking 22nd vs. the pass they've posted some quality outings against Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Cutler and the Bears have struggled in the red zone this season. With the Rams' safeties good enough to handle Greg Olsen, the receivers will have to step up big time to aid Chicago's chances to score. The Rams have a chance to score the upset.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kyle Boller QB Jay Cutler
Steven Jackson RB Matt Forte
Kenneth Darby   RB Kahlil Bell
Donnie Avery WR Devin Hester
Danny Amendola WR Earl Bennett
Randy McMichael   TE Greg Olsen
Josh Brown K Robbie Gould
Rams DST Bears
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Lucas Oil Stadium
The Titans have gained plenty of momentum for this matchup, and they'll need it. When they took on the Colts in Week 5, Chris Johnson had just nine carries and the passing game was led by Kerry Collins. This time will certainly be different -- Johnson will remain the lead dog in the Titans offense. But the Titans' receiving threats have been developing, and they have been the key to Vince Young's success this season. They'll be a handful for the Colts, whose defense has been beaten but still comes up with key stops in every single game. To break that, the Titans will strike with a big dose of Johnson along with safe, simple passing to take advantage of the Colts' attention to Johnson. Tennessee had a hard time scoring in the first 2009 matchup against Indianapolis; the Titans won't here even if cornerback Kelvin Hayden returns. But that said, Indianapolis will score more points than Tennessee. Even with the Titans' secondary healthy and the front seven playing as well as it has all season, the Colts have too many weapons for the Titans to cover. Dallas Clark consistently has been a prominent target for Indy against Tennessee but Reggie Wayne has been limited. The difference might continue to be Pierre Garcon, who has seemingly "gotten it" from Manning and has emerged as a dangerous receiver. With Joseph Addai chipping away on the ground, this all should be more than enough to eventually force the Titans to throw the ball and make them one dimensional -- and that's when the Colts' defense is at its best.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Vince Young QB Peyton Manning
Chris Johnson RB Joseph Addai
LenDale White   RB Donald Brown
Kenny Britt WR Reggie Wayne
Nate Washington WR Pierre Garcon
Lavelle Hawkins   WR Austin Collie
Bo Scaife TE Dallas Clark
Rob Bironas K Matt Stover
Titans DST Colts
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
The Texans were one of the first teams to expose the Jaguars' secondary as a flawed area and they'll surely go after that area again. Expect Matt Schaub to throw at least 40 times, and with Jacksonville's problems there you can also count on Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter to come up with good performances (Walter actually outperformed Johnson against the Jaguars in Week 3). Houston's run game is unpredictable, and the Jaguars have been pretty good against the run. There's a chance the Texans could abandon the run until they build a sizable second-half lead. Don't expect anything surprising from the Jaguars here as they'll lean on Maurice Jones-Drew as always. MJD had a monster effort against the Texans in Week 3 (147 total yards, three touchdowns) but the Texans' run defense has been on the rise as linebacker Brian Cushing has been steadily improving. Jones-Drew should get some numbers but eventually the Jags will have to pass. Mike Sims-Walker has played his best ball at home, and the Texans secondary isn't anything special, but with no one besides him to attract more than single coverage, it's going to be hard for David Garrard to have a dazzling day. Tack on the Houston pass rush and blitz schemes and it could be a disappointing week for Jacksonville.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Schaub QB David Garrard
Steve Slaton RB Maurice Jones-Drew
Chris Brown RB Rashad Jennings
Andre Johnson WR Mike Sims-Walker
Kevin Walter WR Torry Holt
James Casey TE Marcedes Lewis
Kris Brown K Josh Scobee
Texans DST Jaguars
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Land Shark Stadium
As upset as Randy Moss and Tom Brady must be after getting whooped in New Orleans, they can't help but get excited for this matchup. Earlier this season Brady topped 300 yards and Moss had well over 100 with a touchdown as the Dolphins secondary couldn't keep up with them or Wes Welker's short-area domination. That's going to continue this week. The Dolphins defense is caving in as evidenced by last week's annihilation at Buffalo, so it's unlikely that Brady, Moss, Welker and Laurence Maroney will let you down -- especially following a loss. The Patriots have scored at least 26 points in their games following a loss this season with Brady throwing for at least 275 yards and Moss either scoring, getting over 100 yards or a touchdown (or both) in each game. It won't be pretty for the Dolphins when they have the ball, either. Miami is sure to run the ball as much as it can since it's the team's strength and it has the horse to do it in Ricky Williams. But the Patriots will know that's coming and they'll limit him much like they limited running backs all season. The Patriots want the Dolphins to throw, and unlike last week, they should do very well against the pass here as Chad Henne isn't Drew Brees and Davone Bess and Brian Hartline aren't Marques Colston and Robert Meachem. Steer clear of the Dolphins' offensive players as much as possible.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Tom Brady QB Chad Henne
Laurence Maroney RB Ricky Williams
Kevin Faulk RB Lex Hilliard
Randy Moss WR Davone Bess
Wes Welker WR Brian Hartline
Benjamin Watson TE Anthony Fasano
Stephen Gostkowski K Dan Carpenter
Patriots DST Dolphins
San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns
Sunday, 4:05 pm, Cleveland Browns Stadium
San Diego should have no problem running roughshod over a Cleveland defense that lost its best defender, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, to injury last week. The Chargers' offensive line is improving and might get better with tackle Jon Runyan and center Nick Hardwick entering the fray possibly as soon as this game. LaDainian Tomlinson has a fabulous matchup and should continue his strong play. Vincent Jackson has been invisible over the last three weeks and has been eclipsed by Antonio Gates for the team lead in receiving yards. The matchup is good for Jackson yet again but it's obvious that his rib injury is bugging him and that Philip Rivers is taking what the defense gives him. Jackson has only been targeted 14 times over his last three games, a sure sign that defenses are keying in on him. But at the same time, Gates has seen his stats improve. Both should do well in theory against the Browns considering their up-and-down secondary. The Browns offense is such a mess right now that even with several Chargers starters missing it's hard to expect Cleveland to compensate. Tight end Michael Gaines might cash in with safety Eric Weddle out of action, and Mohamed Massaquoi has a chance to put up a couple of big catches. Jerome Harrison is expected to see as much if not a little more work than Chris Jennings with Jamal Lewis (concussion) out, but will it even matter?But that's about it, frankly. The Chargers defense is good enough to overpower the Browns offense.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Philip Rivers QB Brady Quinn
LaDainian Tomlinson RB Jerome Harrison
Darren Sproles RB Chris Jennings
Vincent Jackson WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Malcom Floyd WR Chansi Stuckey
Antonio Gates TE Michael Gaines
Nate Kaeding K Phil Dawson
Chargers DST Browns
Dallas Cowboys at N.Y. Giants
Sunday, 4:15 pm, Giants Stadium
The Giants are beat up defensively and that will suit the Cowboys just fine. Over the last two weeks we saw the Falcons and Broncos gain good yardage on the ground against the G-Men, who are without their best tackler in Antonio Pierce for the rest of the season. The Cowboys like to throw but they'll certainly take advantage of the Giants' sinking run defense here. The hunch is that they'll rotate Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice until one proves to be the most consistent, then they'll turn the reps over to Barber to kill the game clock in the second half. The Cowboys should throw as well -- their Achilles heel is that they can't help but throw -- and they should do fine. Jason Witten might have a shot to come close to replicating last week's 100-yard game as the Giants have struggled of late with tight ends. Miles Austin should also be a candidate to get hot again in the second half. The Giants' offense is in neutral as their offensive line is banged up, their run game is non-existent and their passing game is fairly limited because of Eli Manning's foot -- which is clearly hampering him. The Cowboys' pass rush should do very well here in forcing some turnovers because of the Giants' line; the Broncos had three last week with two by Elvis Dumervil. Protecting Manning will be key for the Giants but it doesn't seem likely that the line can hang with the Cowboys. Between that and making sure that receiver Steve Smith doesn't burn them again for a big game as he did in Week 2, Manning will have a hard time putting up good stats.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Tony Romo QB Eli Manning
Marion Barber RB Brandon Jacobs
Felix Jones RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Miles Austin WR Steve Smith
Roy E. Williams WR Mario Manningham
Jason Witten TE Kevin Boss
Nick Folk K Lawrence Tynes
Cowboys DST Giants
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, 4:15 pm, Qwest Field
Frank Gore has been the catalyst for the 49ers in recent matchups against the Seahawks though he's been inconsistent for the most part this season. His best game came against them at home in Week 2 when he broke two long touchdowns and finished with 207 rush yards. The Niners will obviously use him but the 'Hawks haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Gore crushed them -- a span of nine games. Their defensive line won't have a tough matchup against a so-so 49ers O-line; figure Gore to score but not to run roughshod. Alex Smith has an equally good matchup though the Seahawks have been pretty good at limiting opposing tight ends. Look for Vernon Davis to reverse that trend; remember, the Seahawks didn't see these 49ers in Week 2 -- they saw the gang commanded by Shaun Hill, who is now the backup. Smith, Davis and Michael Crabtree have the chance to do fairly well. As for the Seahawks, this is the perfect matchup for them to come home to after a three-game road trip. During the trek the passing game deteriorated (one touchdown through the air) and the offense would have been punchless altogether if not for running back Justin Forsett. Expect the Seahawks to give him around 15 carries but focus on the Niners' weakness: pass defense. There's no excuses for Matt Hasselbeck to have a good week here as the 49ers have been awful against opposing quarterbacks and receivers. If the Seahawks are going to win and keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the receivers will have to deliver. The matchup suggests it will be easy for them to do so.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Alex Smith QB Matt Hasselbeck
Frank Gore RB Justin Forsett
Glen Coffee   RB Louis Rankin
Michael Crabtree WR Nate Burleson
Josh Morgan   WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Vernon Davis TE John Carlson
Joe Nedney K Olindo Mare
49ers DST Seahawks
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, 8:20 pm, University of Phoenix Stadium
It wasn't so long ago that the Cardinals run defense was one of the best in the league. But they've allowed a 100-yard rusher in four of their last five games. Granted, three of these rushers are DeAngelo Williams, Steven Jackson and Chris Johnson, but Adrian Peterson is certainly in their class. The Vikings will likely be balanced here, utilizing Peterson as they always do but also looking for holes in the Cardinals secondary, which has consistently ranked low all season because of their aggressive nature. Peterson was their primary weapon in last season's meeting (28 carries, 165 yards) but the Vikings threw for their touchdowns in that matchup. That might happen again here. Bernard Berrian has been coming on for the Vikings, and between him getting better and the rest of the Vikings' receiving corps, it's going to be very hard for the Cardinals to properly match up. We might once again see Percy Harvin find gaps in the secondary and take advantage of mismatches since it's unlikely that the Cardinals will peel off Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from covering Sidney Rice to shadow Harvin. Expect Brett Favre to make some great connections to Harvin if he's covered by nickelback Ralph Brown and to Visanthe Shiancoe as well. Rice should also do fairly well -- this Cardinals secondary was eaten alive by T.J. Houshmandzadeh when he was covered by Rodgers-Cromartie and Rice should be up to the task of being the usual high-reception, high-yardage target for Favre. The Cardinals will have to throw themselves when they have the ball, but it might not matter who is under center for them. Arizona's offensive line isn't bad, but they'll have their hands full with the Vikings' front four led by Jared Allen. Certainly the Cardinals will have an edge throwing the ball if Kurt Warner is there, but he's going to have to make quick decisions and get the ball away quickly. That suggests ho-hum games for Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin; if Warner doesn't have time to wind up, he'll never connect deep with either one of them. Furthermore, the Vikings' secondary might get back Antoine Winfield, which would further hinder the Cardinals' pass game. Minnesota has allowed one 100-yard wide receiver all season (Nate Burleson, Week 11, exactly 100 yards). Fitzgerald was limited to five catches and 52 yards when he played the Vikings last season, due in part to the Vikings' pass rush bearing down on Warner. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the same thing here as the Cardinals slowly lose their grip on the NFC West lead.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Brett Favre QB Matt Leinart
Adrian Peterson RB Tim Hightower
Chester Taylor RB Beanie Wells
Sidney Rice WR Larry Fitzgerald
Percy Harvin WR Anquan Boldin
Bernard Berrian WR Steve Breaston
Visanthe Shiancoe TE Ben Patrick
Ryan Longwell K Neil Rackers
Vikings DST Cardinals
Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers
Monday, 8:30 pm, Lambeau Field
The Ravens' aren't expected to change their plans much: Ray Rice will remain the focal point of the offense. But they probably can't help but take notice of where Charles Woodson is and attempt to steer passes away from him. The last three receivers to take the majority of reps across from Woodson (Calvin Johnson, Josh Morgan/ Isaac Bruce, Miles Austin) totaled eight catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. Derrick Mason plays on both sides of the field, though -- his touchdown last week came from the left side -- and he's not necessarily going to be erased by Woodson. The onus will again be on Tramon Williams to limit the Ravens' receivers on the left side, and he'll surely have help behind him. The Ravens' best bet? Go with a three-receiver set not including Todd Heap and spread the Packers defense out. That might end badly for them if they put a linebacker on Heap. He's a sleeper this week if you're needy for tight end help. Also, if the Ravens run out of that formation, the Packers will have trouble getting off the field. Now, when the Packers have the ball they should be able to throw to both of their receivers quite easily. The Ravens' starting cornerbacks are rookie Lardarius Webb and Domonique Foxworth with nickelback Frank Walker -- that's beatable. Look for the Packers to give Aaron Rodgers extra protection up front (might mean more Donald Lee than Jermichael Finley, or more two-tight end sets) so he can get passes off cleanly to his receivers. The Ravens' haven't allowed tons of yardage through the air this year (one passer with over 300 yards; two if you count Peyton Manning's 299 yards) but they haven't played many strong passing teams, either. In four games against the Chargers, Patriots, Colts and Vikings (1-3), the Ravens have allowed 1,271 passing yards and seven touchdowns. In their other seven games they've fared much better, but the Packers are decidedly a passing team. That should spell a good week for Rodgers and his wideouts but not his tight ends or running back Ryan Grant.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Joe Flacco QB Aaron Rodgers
Ray Rice RB Ryan Grant
Willis McGahee RB Brandon Jackson
Derrick Mason WR Donald Driver
Mark Clayton WR Greg Jennings
Kelley Washington   WR James Jones
Todd Heap TE Jermichael Finley
Billy Cundiff K Mason Crosby
Ravens DST Packers
Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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