Week 6 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.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Heinz Field
Derek Anderson was plagued by dropped passes just as much as errant passes last week, so he and his receivers better get on the same page here for the Browns to have a chance. Jamal Lewis will be stuffed even with the Steelers losing end Aaron Smith for the season, so the Browns' chances will fall into the hands of Anderson. He'll struggle, especially with the Steelers getting Troy Polamalu back, but he could come through for a garbage touchdown or two. Jerome Harrison might be the best weapon the Browns have since he can exploit blitzes on draw runs and also make a play with the ball in space as a receiver. A trick play or two by the Browns isn't out of the question, either. Who's not to like for the Steelers? Expect to see a more balanced attack from Pittsburgh since they don't have a difficult matchup to worry about, other than neutralizing defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. Rashard Mendenhall should get the majority of rushes even with Willie Parker returning to pitch in, and Heath Miller should continue to be a regular outlet for Ben Roethlisberger. Hines Ward has been a Browns beater over his career and Mike Wallace will continue to see chances deep. Does this leave Santonio Holmes in limbo? He has a get-well matchup here to be sure, but he hasn't been great since Week 1 and seems to be lost in the shuffle in the Steelers offense. He should be useful, but expecting a huge performance seems unlikely -- especially if Pittsburgh doesn't get much of a challenge from Cleveland and has the game in hand by the second half.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Derek Anderson QB Ben Roethlisberger
Jamal Lewis RB Rashard Mendenhall
Jerome Harrison RB Mewelde Moore
Mohamed Massaquoi WR Hines Ward
Mike Furrey   WR Santonio Holmes
Josh Cribbs   WR Mike Wallace
Steve Heiden TE Heath Miller
Billy Cundiff   K Jeff Reed
Browns   DST Steelers
N.Y. Giants at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Superdome
We'll find out what the Giants are made of here. Brandon Jacobs has been struggling and Ahmad Bradshaw tends to dazzle in good matchups; the Saints are rested and healthy up front on defense, so this will present a challenge to the Giants rushers and offensive line. Eli Manning will also find it tough to throw as the Saints' secondary has been stingy. Look for the Giants to try and negate the Saints' blitz efforts with draw plays to Bradshaw and short routes to Steve Smith. If they can slow down the blitz, they can make up some yards on the ground. New York is familiar with Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from his days with the Redskins, but the Giants always ran better than passed in those games. That might change here since the Saints' run defense is stout. As for when the Saints are on offense, some weird dynamics are in play: The Giants have faced inept offenses over the last three weeks, so this will be a big test for their defense, and the Saints have been running far more than passing, so this will be a big test for them too. With Pierre Thomas banged up and Mike Bell an unintimidating figure to the Giants, expect the Saints to throw more than they have been as they try to find matchups against the Giants' safeties. Jeremy Shockey makes sense as a contributor but his lack of yardage is a problem. Reggie Bush and Devery Henderson will probably be regular targets for Brees because they'll have the chance to be open (Bush in the short area, Henderson deeper) when the Giants bring the blitz, and Brees is excellent at delivering big when the blitz is coming on. Marques Colston has been invisible over New Orleans' last two games, and the Giants will definitely key in on him, which could open things up for Brees to find other targets.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Eli Manning QB Drew Brees
Ahmad Bradshaw RB Pierre Thomas
Brandon Jacobs RB Reggie Bush
Steve Smith WR Marques Colston
Mario Manningham WR Devery Henderson
Hakeem Nicks WR Lance Moore
Kevin Boss TE Jeremy Shockey
Lawrence Tynes K John Carney
Giants DST Saints
St. Louis Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
A ray of hope for the Rams this week? The team gets Marc Bulger back at quarterback and saw a glimpse of good play from receiver Donnie Avery late last week, and they'll play against the Jaguars' 30th-ranked pass defense this week. Don't get too excited yet because St. Louis' offense is still very predictable. Steven Jackson will carry the load as usual, and the only receiving threat the Jaguars will have to deal with is Avery, who frankly isn't that much of a threat anyway. Avery was step-for-step with a second-string cornerback when he made his touchdown catch in the final minutes of their blowout loss to Minnesota last week. Avery doesn't seem to be as fast as he once was because of the foot surgery he had this summer. Plus he's playing on grass, which is typically a slow surface for those receivers used to the FieldTurf in their indoor stadiums (10 catches, 97 yards, no TDs this year on grass for Avery). Even the Jaguars' pitiful pass defense should be able to hold him down, especially if the offense builds a lead. Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew essentially called out his offense this week, but he did it at the right time as the Rams' entire defense is bad and Jones-Drew should find holes to wiggle through for long runs. He's been hot and cold this season but has thrived in good matchups like these. David Garrard has too, though quarterbacks against the Rams this season haven't put up dazzling numbers because their running backs do a lot of the work. So even with Mike Sims-Walker expected to be active, it might be just a decent week for Garrard (two touchdowns) and not one where he totals 250 yards. The big stats should be reserved for Jones-Drew.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Marc Bulger QB David Garrard
Steven Jackson RB Maurice Jones-Drew
Kenneth Darby   RB Rashad Jennings
Donnie Avery WR Mike Sims-Walker
Keenan Burton   WR Torry Holt
Randy McMichael TE Marcedes Lewis
Josh Brown K Josh Scobee
Rams   DST Jaguars
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Lambeau Field
With Calvin Johnson banged up and possibly out, much of the game plan will come down on Kevin Smith's shoulders. He's the best offensive weapon the Lions have this week and he'll keep the Packers offense off the field so long as he keeps rushing and catching for first downs. He should be good for 100 total yards even though the Packers have been pretty good against the run. Look for Stafford to trust in Dennis Northcutt more than in previous weeks if Johnson is out because Northcutt's hands are the best of the remaining Lions. He might even draw coverage other than Al Harris and Charles Woodson because he plays in the slot, so he's a decent sleeper. But the Lions' offense (or defense) won't have anything on what the Packers do. Aaron Rodgers loves playing Detroit and should be good for a third-straight 300-yard game. The Packers should come out with a balanced attack, and Rodgers should find time to throw since the Lions' pass rush isn't strong enough to bowl over the Packers' so-so offensive line. Expect Ryan Grant to be heavily involved, especially killing the clock when the Packers have the lead. And everyone knows to expect good totals from Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, but Jermichael Finley is a great bye-week replacement as well since the Lions have struggled with tight ends this season. A good game by Finley this week might signal that Rodgers plans on going to him regularly.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Daunte Culpepper QB Aaron Rodgers
Kevin Smith RB Ryan Grant
Aaron Brown   RB Brandon Jackson
Calvin Johnson WR Greg Jennings
Dennis Northcutt WR Donald Driver
Brandon Pettigrew TE Jermichael Finley
Jason Hanson K Mason Crosby
Lions   DST Packers
Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Paul Brown Stadium
You almost can't help but expect the Texans to throw a lot in this game, even against the Bengals' pesky secondary. Texans coach Gary Kubiak has even said he'll throw it a lot if that's what it will take to win. Houston's offensive line must be up to the challenge of protecting Matt Schaub since the Bengals do come after the quarterback efficiently, but Schaub has been playing very well and utilizing his receiving options nicely. They'll continue to play well, but Steve Slaton is a question mark. He's been awful away from Houston and only topped 20 carries in a blowout win against the Raiders, but the Bengals aren't exactly run-stuffers. Slaton should do well if given the chance, and that's the problem here. He could end up with 13 carries and a handful of catches. Houston has not stuck to the run much this season, so even with the decent matchup there could be some concern over Slaton's production. The Bengals won't have any such worries with their running game as Cedric Benson should continue to produce. Stats indicate that Houston's run defense has improved over its last two games, but they have only seen running backs come at them 32 times over two games! Expect Houston's run defense to struggle as the Bengals will run the ball plenty. The only way Carson Palmer will put up huge numbers is if Houston throws and scores on its possessions. That's a possibility, which could make this a fairly high-scoring game. Palmer might have a stat line like his outing against the Packers, which Fantasy owners should be happy with.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Schaub QB Carson Palmer
Steve Slaton RB Cedric Benson
Chris Brown   RB Bernard Scott
Andre Johnson WR Chad Ochocinco
Kevin Walter WR Andre Caldwell
Owen Daniels TE Daniel Coats
Kris Brown K Shayne Graham
Texans DST Bengals
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Raymond James Stadium
Why hasn't DeAngelo Williams been a Fantasy stud? He hasn't been given much of an opportunity to be. Through four games he has 59 carries, which is about 15 per game. He did get a season-best 18 carries last week, so maybe the Panthers are waking up and realizing that he needs to be a part of the offense. He should run early and often against the Bucs, who have struggled against the run. Jonathan Stewart will also see some work, and both guys have a shot to score. Jake Delhomme should use plenty of play-action, and Steve Smith should see a good amount of targets. He's got a great history against the Bucs, who couldn't handle speedster Jeremy Maclin last week. Tampa Bay will get a crack at the Panthers' run defense, but they were fairly respectable last week holding Clinton Portis to minimal yardage. Nick Hayden and newcomer Hollis Thomas should continue to make a difference at defensive tackle for the Panthers. It's going to be hard to trust Cadillac Williams this week after he struggled last week, especially with Derrick Ward pushing for his starting job back with the limited reps he gets. Be wary of both running backs, as well as any wide receiver on Tampa Bay since Carolina has been strong against the pass. Kellen Winslow should end up leading the Bucs in receiving yards.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Jake Delhomme QB Josh Johnson
DeAngelo Williams RB Cadillac Williams
Jonathan Stewart RB Derrick Ward
Steve Smith WR Antonio Bryant
Muhsin Muhammad WR Michael Clayton
Dante Rosario TE Kellen Winslow
John Kasay K Mike Nugent
Panthers DST Buccaneers
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Redskins
Sunday, 1:00 pm, FedEx Field
The Chiefs have a tough matchup here: They've been getting better at throwing the ball but the Redskins have been excellent against the pass. Washington has faced subpar offenses for four straight weeks and have allowed one passing touchdown in each game. That doesn't bode well for Matt Cassel, and Larry Johnson has been running in cement recently. This might not bode well for Kansas City, but Washington should find the matchup to its liking. The Chiefs have been trounced by the run, and while they hung in there against the pass for most of their game last week, their secondary is still making mistakes. Expect Washington to be balanced offensively, utilizing Clinton Portis a good deal and then hitting Santana Moss and Chris Cooley off of play action and other passing situations. Moss especially has a chance at having a good outing as the Chiefs' defensive backs aren't especially fast and probably can't keep up with him on long routes.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Cassel QB Jason Campbell
Larry Johnson RB Clinton Portis
Jamaal Charles RB Ladell Betts
Dwayne Bowe WR Santana Moss
Mark Bradley WR Antwaan Randle El
Sean Ryan TE Chris Cooley
Ryan Succop K Shaun Suisham
Chiefs DST Redskins
Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will have a lot on his plate this week against a very good Vikings defense. The Ravens will take their shots with the running game, but it's probably a very good thing that Joe Flacco has been throwing so much because he probably will continue to do that here. Look for Todd Heap to be a primary weapon as teams have been using tight ends and slot receivers up the seams against the Vikings' Cover 2 defense (Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis each had big games against Minnesota). That suggests a big game for Heap, and Derrick Mason might also make some plays as he's a crafty route runner who should be just open enough to make some catches. Any sort of passing efficiency by Flacco will give the Ravens the chance to run as the Vikings safeties won't be able to cheat and drop into run coverage or blitzes. The Vikings will also have their hands full, but they'll see the Ravens cornerbacks as beatable, especially when they go to a four-wide formation. The Ravens will blitz in those instances, but then it will be on Brett Favre to find the open short-area receiver, someone like Visanthe Shiancoe, Percy Harvin or even Adrian Peterson. Sidney Rice also tends to show up in games where Favre throws a lot, so consider him. As for the Vikings' run game, they will not abandon it at all and should actually lean on it. Their run blocking must continue to be good if Peterson is going to be effective, and a lot of his success will be determined by how well the interior linemen cover Ray Lewis; the Bengals' ability to limit Lewis when running the ball made a big difference in how Cedric Benson ran last week. Look for the Vikings to do the same.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Joe Flacco QB Brett Favre
Ray Rice RB Adrian Peterson
Willis McGahee RB Chester Taylor
Derrick Mason WR Sidney Rice
Mark Clayton WR Percy Harvin
Todd Heap TE Visanthe Shiancoe
Steven Hauschka K Ryan Longwell
Ravens DST Vikings
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, 4:05 pm, Qwest Field
There should be plenty of passing in this game. The return of Matt Hasselbeck took the Seahawks' offense to a new level last week and should continue to do so here as the Cardinals' secondary has been shredded by opponents and hasn't had the pass rush to try and negate it. If Hasselbeck is throwing, then both T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson should be catching. Furthermore, this should be a good week for tight end John Carlson as the Cardinals have had trouble with tight ends. By the way, Arizona has gotten its run defense down to a science, which means Julius Jones will struggle and more passing for Hasselbeck. Now, take the above statements and apply them to the Cardinals -- they'll have the same exact kind of success. Kurt Warner has dominated the Seahawks when their secondary has been good -- now it's not so good, so it's going to be bombs away. All three of Arizona's receivers should be in line to be productive, and in the case of the Cardinals' running backs, you can always count on Tim Hightower to snag some passes and have a shot at a touchdown.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kurt Warner QB Matt Hasselbeck
Tim Hightower RB Julius Jones
Beanie Wells RB Edgerrin James
Larry Fitzgerald WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Anquan Boldin WR Nate Burleson
Steve Breaston WR Deion Branch
Stephen Spach   TE John Carlson
Neil Rackers K Olindo Mare
Cardinals DST Seahawks
Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders
Sunday, 4:05 pm, Oakland Coliseum
The Eagles have always been prepared when they travel across the country and there's no reason to believe they won't be here. The Raiders cannot stop the run and the Eagles have two running backs in Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy who can burn defenders. Expect the offense to build momentum with them before going over the top to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin for long gains. Those receivers might vanish in the red zone, which is where Brent Celek shines. All of the Eagles' offensive players should get a chance to make plays, and in the case of Maclin and McCoy, could play deep into the game with the second-team offense as the Eagles are expected to build a big lead. The Raiders' offense continues to be a punchline. Expect the Eagles to bring a heavy blitz to JaMarcus Russell to force some turnovers. Oakland is doing very little to challenge defenses, though tight end Zach Miller could continue to produce a semblance of a threat since he's the Raiders' most sure-handed receiver. Expect a blowout.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Donovan McNabb QB JaMarcus Russell
Brian Westbrook RB Michael Bush
LeSean McCoy RB Justin Fargas
DeSean Jackson WR Louis Murphy
Jeremy Maclin WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
Brent Celek TE Zach Miller
David Akers K Sebastian Janikowski
Eagles DST Raiders
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
Sunday, 4:15 pm, Gillette Stadium
The Titans' best bet is to get Chris Johnson going, then use play action to strike against the Patriots. Even with New England getting Jerod Mayo back and maybe even counting on Junior Seau to help slow down the run, Johnson should find some numbers. The Titans need to stay committed to him, even when they're down. That shouldn't be a problem since he's had at least 16 touches in all but one game this season, and the one game was last week. Additionally, the Patriots have struggled with opposing No. 1 receivers over their last two games, so there might be chances for Nate Washington to find some room, though Kenny Britt is also a sneaky choice since he will provide a mismatch against the Pats' corners. When the Patriots have the ball, the expectation is that they'll throw a lot to exploit the Titans secondary. Both of Tennessee's starting cornerbacks are hurt, and with no threat of a pass rush coming after Tom Brady, he'll make more efficient throws than he did last week. Randy Moss and Wes Welker are obvious targets, but tight end Benjamin Watson could also get into the act. Once a lead is built, look for Sammy Morris to grind down the clock and put up some numbers, making him good enough to be a low-end No. 2 option even though the matchup suggests that he'll struggle.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kerry Collins QB Tom Brady
Chris Johnson RB Sammy Morris
LenDale White RB Kevin Faulk
Nate Washington WR Randy Moss
Kenny Britt WR Wes Welker
Bo Scaife TE Benjamin Watson
Rob Bironas K Stephen Gostkowski
Titans DST Patriots
Buffalo Bills at N.Y. Jets
Sunday, 4:15 pm, The Meadowlands
The Bills are scrapping the no-huddle at the worst possible time: The Jets are coming off a tough Monday loss, so they're on a short week (and ornery). The no-huddle would actually be perfect here to keep the Jets defense honest and to wear them down. Granted, the Bills weren't able to really implement the offense after a couple of weeks because the O-line is so terrible and Trent Edwards pretty much went to his check-down receiver on every play. Don't expect anything strong from any Bills this week as the Jets have a huge advantage on defense both against the run and the pass. If you haven't mustered up the courage to sit Terrell Owens or Lee Evans by now, you should this week as Edwards will be pressured all game long. Marshawn Lynch is a fair option after the Dolphins ran all over the Jets, but we're reasonably sure that head coach Rex Ryan will demand a better performance from his front seven and that could make Lynch's day miserable. Buffalo is getting a couple of good defenders back this week in linebacker Paul Posluszny and safety Donte Whitner, but the defense is still in trouble. Look for the Jets to lean on their run game initially, then take to the air. If Jerricho Cotchery is out, that could make life tough on Braylon Edwards since the Bills will roll coverage his way. Leon Washington might break some runs or short catches, David Clowney might make a deep catch or two, and Dustin Keller could pop out of his shell for a couple of gains if Cotchery is out. But expect Sanchez to be handing the ball off a lot.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Trent Edwards QB Mark Sanchez
Marshawn Lynch RB Thomas Jones
Fred Jackson RB Leon Washington
Terrell Owens WR Braylon Edwards
Lee Evans WR David Clowney
Shawn Nelson   TE Dustin Keller
Rian Lindell K Jay Feely
Bills   DST Jets
Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, 8:20 pm, Georgia Dome
The Falcons might have found a replacement for defensive tackle Peria Jerry in free agent Thomas Johnson, but the Bears will be sure to test him with Matt Forte. Whether or not Forte gets going, Jay Cutler will still be throwing a lot. The Falcons' cornerbacks have been tested a bunch but still rank low -- the unit is the second-worst among pass defenses that have played four games. Look for Cutler to ultimately throw a lot to his primary targets, possibly in an effort to keep up with the Falcons' offense. Johnny Knox should be healthy after a shin injury and could be useful in three-receiver sets. The Falcons got great play out of their offensive line last week and will be in for a tougher street fight against the Bears' front this week. Michael Turner should score but not have huge yardage totals as Chicago has done well against the run and should get linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa back to help clamp down on Turner. Where the Falcons might really thrive is throwing the ball. Tony Gonzalez is probably salivating over his matchup against rookie safety Al Afalava, and that's sure to be a go-to matchup for Matt Ryan. The Lions really exploited the Bears' safeties with Brandon Pettigrew and Will Heller a couple of weeks back, so Gonzalez should be busy. The Bears have also struggled with speed receivers, so Roddy White should be counted on for another good week. Both quarterbacks might wind up with as many as three touchdowns.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Jay Cutler QB Matt Ryan
Matt Forte RB Michael Turner
Garrett Wolfe   RB Jerious Norwood
Devin Hester WR Roddy White
Johnny Knox WR Michael Jenkins
Greg Olsen TE Tony Gonzalez
Robbie Gould K Jason Elam
Bears DST Falcons
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
Monday, 8:30 pm, Qualcomm Stadium
Kyle Orton might be popular enough to run for mayor in Denver, but this matchup is made for Knowshon Moreno. Even if Correll Buckhalter comes back to pitch in some reps, Moreno's speed and quickness should be no match for the Chargers' D-line or linebackers. A steady diet of running the ball, while uncharacteristic for the Broncos, would keep the chains moving and Philip Rivers on the sidelines. Remember, the Broncos will try to tailor their game plans each week to their opponents' weaknesses, and there's no doubt that the Chargers' biggest weakness is run defense. The run can set up Orton to connect with Brandon Marshall and even tight end Tony Scheffler, if healthy, can contribute against the Chargers' iffy linebackers. LaDainian Tomlinson had an extra week to rest his ankle, so the Chargers will be sure to trot him out and see if he can get going against the Broncos. We've doubted Denver's run defense for weeks, but with the Chargers O-line a mess and Tomlinson not exactly proving that he's a stat machine, this matchup might not be so good for San Diego. Expect Rivers to eventually start passing, though that may not be so good either as Denver has a good enough secondary. The best outlet might just be Darren Sproles, who can get open in space and take off. He won't be covered by any of the Broncos' best defensive backs and could make a couple of plays. He's a sneaky Fantasy option this week. As for Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates, they have the potential for good games but are far from locks to do well against the Broncos' defense.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kyle Orton QB Philip Rivers
Knowshon Moreno RB LaDainian Tomlinson
LaMont Jordan   RB Darren Sproles
Brandon Marshall WR Vincent Jackson
Eddie Royal WR Chris Chambers
Tony Scheffler TE Antonio Gates
Matt Prater K Nate Kaeding
Broncos DST Chargers
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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