I will be breaking down every single football game this week. Like on NFL Playbook they break down every single game thats what i did that and my article is long so be ready for a show.
Matchups: Not Crabtree's Time
Six teams have byes in each of the next three weeks, making it more difficult than ever to field a strong fantasy lineup. But a recent string of injuries to impact defenders Kris Jenkins, Antwan Odom, Lofa Tatupu, Antoine Winfield, Aaron Smith, D'Qwell Jackson, Brian Williams, and Pisa Tinoisamoa have improved matchups for some skill players you wouldn't normally consider. Keeping in mind ability, role, opportunity, and team strengths and weaknesses, let's break down Week 7 game by game.
Last Weeks Record (9-5) My Overall Record (16-12)
Let's get cracking...
Denver Broncos (6-0)
1 Sep 13 DEN 12 @ CIN 7 Final
2 Sep 20 CLE 6 @ DEN 27 Final
3 Sep 27 DEN 23 @ OAK 3 Final
4 Oct 04 DAL 10 @ DEN 17 Final
5 Oct 11 NE 17 @ DEN 20 Final
6 Oct 19 DEN 34 @ SD 23 Final
Baltimore Ravens (3-3)
1 Sep 13 KC 24 @ BAL 38 Final
2 Sep 20 BAL 31 @ SD 26 Final
3 Sep 27 CLE 3 @ BAL 34 Final
4 Oct 04 BAL 21 @ NE 27 Final
5 Oct 11 CIN 17 @ BAL 14 Final
6 Oct 18 BAL 31 @ MIN 33 Final
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)
1 Sep 13 JAC 12 @ IND 14 Final
2 Sep 20 ARI 31 @ JAC 17 Final
3 Sep 27 JAC 31 @ HOU 24 Final
4 Oct 04 TEN 17 @ JAC 37 Final
5 Oct 11 JAC 0 @ SEA 41 Final
6 Oct 18 STL 20 @ JAC 23 Final
Seattle Seahawks (2-4)
1 Sep 13 STL 0 @ SEA 28 Final
2 Sep 20 SEA 10 @ SF 23 Final
3 Sep 27 CHI 25 @ SEA 19 Final
4 Oct 04 SEA 17 @ IND 34 Final
5 Oct 11 JAC 0 @ SEA 41 Final
6 Oct 18 ARI 27 @ SEA 3 Final
Detroit Lions (1-5)
1 Sep 13 DET 27 @ NO 45 Final
2 Sep 20 MIN 27 @ DET 13 Final
3 Sep 27 WAS 14 @ DET 19 Final
4 Oct 04 DET 24 @ CHI 48 Final
5 Oct 11 PIT 28 @ DET 20 Final
6 Oct 18 DET 0 @ GB 26 Final
Tennessee Titans (0-6)
1 Sep 10 TEN 10 @ PIT 13 Final
2 Sep 20 HOU 34 @ TEN 31 Final
3 Sep 27 TEN 17 @ NYJ 24 Final
4 Oct 04 TEN 17 @ JAC 37 Final
5 Oct 11 IND 31 @ TEN 9 Final
6 Oct 18 TEN 0 @ NE 59 Final
Minnesota Vikings (6-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
Minnesota @ Pittsburgh
All-Pro CB Antoine Winfield's loss (foot sprain) is a decisive blow to a Vikings secondary that has struggled badly in the past few weeks. Now ranked 24th overall with the sixth-most TDs allowed and seventh-worst YPA against, Minnesota's pass defense won't slow fantasy's No. 3 passer, Ben Roethlisberger…The biggest beneficiary is NFL leading receiver Hines Ward, who Winfield would have shadowed all over the field. Instead, the Steelers' flanker will see a rotation of career liability Karl Paymah, special teamer Benny Sapp, and rookie Asher Allen, who makes his NFL debut.
Big Ben is now frequently calling his plays from the no-huddle. Last week, he ripped up Cleveland for 417 yards with a flurry of crossing routes, exploiting the Browns' weak tackling in the back end. Winfield is a terrific tackler. This is another area where his loss kills...Santonio Holmes will face off with Vikes RCB Cedric Griffin for most of the game. Holmes is often used as a clearing-route decoy, but Griffin doesn't have jets to stay with him. Expect 1-2 big plays...The Steelers will move the football, making new starter Rashard Mendenhall tough to sit. He'll have goal-line chances.
Heinz Field plays host to passing weather Sunday, with mid-50 temps expected, only a 10% chance of rain, and little wind. But Brett Favre isn't even a good QB2 bet. Favre has played just one non-domed game all year: Week 1 at Cleveland, throwing for a season-low 110 yards and one score. Pittsburgh is already tough to throw against (NFL's sixth-lowest YPA allowed)...Sidney Rice has long had star-caliber talent, but won't come close to repeating his Week 6 175-yard career game against Steelers LCB Ike Taylor. Taylor's strength is defending bigger wideouts.
Adrian Peterson is on pace to lead the NFL in rushing again and can't be benched, but it's hard to love him here. While Pittsburgh's loss of LE Aaron Smith boosts A.P.'s matchup slightly, the Vikes may be forced into a lot of "catch up." Chester Taylor plays in all passing situations...Percy Harvin's shoulder injury is recurring. He isn't an option until he shows he's healthy...The rest of the Vikes' passing game is best left avoided. Visanthe Shiancoe will be on the line helping LT Bryant McKinnie block James Harrison, while aggressive Steelers RCB William Gay covers Bernard Berrian.
San Francisco 49ers (3-2) at Houston Texans (3-3)
San Francisco @ Houston
Matt Schaub is fantasy's top QB and has a great chance to stay there because nine of his last 10 games will be played in favorable weather. Seven are in domes, and he has two fantasy playoff matchups on the road against Florida teams...The 49ers are stout against the run (No. 7 overall, only 3.3 YPC against), but can be beaten by the pass as Matt Ryan showed in Week 5 (329 yards, three all-purpose TDs). LCB Nate Clements, who's been called out by the San Francisco media for underperforming, will see Andre Johnson in primary coverage Sunday.
Steve Slaton will struggle on the ground again, but Houston's new pass-heavy system boosts his yardage potential and PPR value considerably. While he's deservedly losing carries to Chris Brown, Slaton has 12 grabs for 161 yards and a TD (WR1 numbers) in his last two games. Any rushing stats are a bonus...Keep Owen Daniels going with 49ers SS Michael Lewis (concussion) likely to sit out and be replaced by Mark Roman, who was benched this offseason. Roman loves to bite on play-action...Kevin Walter remains a fourth option on offense and a weekly fantasy risk.
After a woeful start, the Texans' run defense has been terrific for three games, holding starting RBs to a putrid average of 20 yards per week. Much of the newfound success is thanks to strong safety Bernard Pollard and strong-side linebacker Brian Cushing. Pollard, though, has the flu and Houston's smallish front four doesn't match up well with the Niners' mauling front five, which welcomes 6'6/325-pound right tackle Tony Pashos to the starting lineup. Frank Gore is over his ankle injury and an RB1 against the team allowing the most rushing scores (10) in the league.
Michael Crabtree isn't a fantasy option in his debut. He will start, but Josh Morgan may play more snaps because of his role in one- and three-receiver sets. Crabtree's only hope is that this becomes a pass-happy affair if Houston jumps out to an early lead -- exactly what Mike Singletary and Jimmy Raye will game plan against...While Texans RCB Dunta Robinson covers the Crabtree-Morgan split end rotation, LCB Jacques Reeves will likely draw Isaac Bruce. Reeves, now recovered from his training camp injury, was Houston's top corner in 2008...Vernon Davis is an every-week starter.
My Pick- 49ers
San Diego Chargers (2-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-5)
San Diego @ Kansas City
LaDainian Tomlinson showed improved inside quickness in last Monday night's loss to Denver, but coach Norv Turner's poor red-zone play calling cost him at least one goal-line touchdown, and San Diego's front five struggled against a no-name Broncos line. Still, Tomlinson has some juice left in his legs, which bodes well against a Chiefs team that served up Clinton Portis' first 100-yard rushing game since November 2008 in Week 6, then traded run-stopping rotational NT Tank Tyler before Tuesday's deadline. The old LT isn't coming back, but he is a fine RB2 play this Sunday.
Lacking in foot speed, the Chiefs' secondary is highly susceptible to vertical receivers like Vincent Jackson. V-Jax averaged six grabs for 87 yards with one TD in their two 2008 meetings....Chris Chambers is still the Bolts' starting split end, but Malcom Floyd is rightfully cutting into his snaps heavily. Until one assumes the job full time, however, neither is a worthwhile fantasy bet...There is a 40 percent chance of rain at Arrowhead Stadium, but mid-50s temperatures and very mild winds won't affect the passing game on either side. Play red-hot Philip Rivers every single week.
Look for Dwayne Bowe to go against Chargers RCB Antonio Cromartie for the majority of Sunday. Cromartie, speedy but soft, can handle undersized wideouts like Eddie Royal (zero catches on five targets in their Week 6 matchup), but is severely stretched when asked to cover physical threats like Bowe and Brandon Marshall. Bowe has scored a TD in three of the four games he's been healthy for this season...Bobby Wade is listed as the Chiefs' starting flanker, but rotates evenly with Mark Bradley. Don't expect value to emerge at this position soon.
Larry Johnson is still touchdown-less, but his matchup should appeal to owners needing bye-week starters. Coming off his best rushing game of 2009 (83 yards/23 carries), L.J. faces a Chargers defense ranked 27th against the run with over one TD allowed per week. It's now or never...Matt Cassel is a strong buy-low target, especially in two-QB leagues. He quietly has a solid 7:2 TD to INT ratio and plays a host of weak defenses in the season's second half. After San Diego (10th most YPA allowed, 12th most passing TDs) it's on to a bye, then the Jags (30th against the pass).
My Pick- Chargers
Green Bay Packers (3-2) at Cleveland Browns (1-5)
Green Bay @ Cleveland
The Packers' run defense is a strength. Their No. 16 rank is not indicative of the unit's success because opponents continue to test the front seven (unsuccessfully). Just six teams give up less yards per carry and only two have allowed fewer rushing TDs. Jamal Lewis, coming off an 11-carry, 21-yard game, will be running in place for the second straight week...The Browns are using more Wildcat with Joshua Cribbs at QB, so Jerome Harrison's role has diminished into a little-used "change of pace." He saw five touches last week, is battling the flu, and isn't remotely a fantasy option.
Similar to Oakland's, the Browns' passing game has only one member ever worth consideration in fantasy. It's Zach Miller for the Raiders and Mohamed Massaquoi for Cleveland. Massaquoi, who plays split end, will be covered mostly by Packers RCB Al Harris with safety help from FS Nick Collins. Also considering the moderate forecast for Browns Stadium (temps in the 50s, 20% chance of rain, mild winds), this is a favorable enough matchup to use Massaquoi as a WR3.
Greg Jennings' hip injury isn't expected to keep him out, but be sure to check his status Sunday morning. His matchup is tasty against a Browns team serving up the second most big pass plays (24 of 20+ yards) in the league. Jennings has started slow, but is averaging a career-best 17.9 YPC and will face burnable Browns RCB Brandon McDonald for the bulk of the game...Donald Driver continues to overcome age, averaging 79 receiving yards on five catches per week. He'll get the rolled coverages Jennings normally sees soon enough, however, and is a low-upside play.
Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL in sacks taken. His protection is still a concern, but overachieving rookie left tackle T.J. Lang held his own after replacing Chad Clifton (ankle) last Sunday. That's good news for A-Rodge against a Browns team that gets disruptive ROLB Kamerion Wimbley back from an illness...We know by now that Ryan Grant isn't a "special" back, but he's a borderline RB1 in this matchup. Cleveland is 30th against the run, allows 4.9 YPC (third worst) to opposing ball carriers, and has surrendered nine rushing scores (second most in the league).
My Pick- Packers
Indianapolis Colts (5-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-6)
Indianapolis @ St. Louis
St. Louis lost its most athletic tackler when it sent Will Witherspoon to Philadelphia at Tuesday's trade deadline. The move improves Joseph Addai and Donald Brown's matchups, as the Rams will now insert 32-year-old journeyman Paris Lenon at weak-side linebacker with 2008 seventh-round pick Larry Grant at "WILL." This is after Maurice Jones-Drew gutted the Rams for 178 total yards and three TDs last week. Consider Addai an RB2 and Brown a high-upside FLEX.
Anthony Gonzalez (knee) will sit again, giving Pierre Garcon his fifth straight start. The Rams' secondary is banged up with top CB Ronald Bartell coming off a concussion, nickel back Justin King nursing a groin pull, and SS James Butler perhaps back from a knee injury. Peyton Manning could shred the unit in Tom Brady-Titans like fashion at the Edwards Jones Dome. Garcon is a respectable WR3 play, while sure-handed rookie slot man Austin Collie is a legitimate top-25 receiver option. There's next to no chance St. Louis slows down Dallas Clark or Reggie Wayne.
Marc Bulger showed improvement in his last two appearances, completing 70.7% of his passes with a solid 7.34 YPA. It won't continue against a Colts secondary that gets back shutdown LCB Kelvin Hayden from a hamstring injury, may return SS Bob Sanders (knee), and has allowed an NFL-low two passing TDs...The Rams' acquisition of Brandon Gibson in the Witherspoon deal was a deserved and direct indictment of unproductive No. 2 receiver Keenan Burton. Burton may not be long for the league...Rams TEs Randy McMichael and Daniel Fells are now rotating evenly.
Donnie Avery's matchup was highly favorable last week, but he went down with a hip injury after catching an early TD. He's battled an assortment of ailments since being the top receiver drafted in '08, and is emerging with an injury-prone label. He's questionable for Week 7 and a weak play at less than full strength...The Colts claim they waived NT Ed Johnson for performance and failing to make his prescribed weight. Either way, the loss can't hurt Steven Jackson's matchup. Johnson started each of Indy's first five games, helping them rank a relatively sturdy 14th against the run.
My Pick- Colts
New England Patriots (4-2) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6)
New England vs. Tampa Bay (in London)
Wembley Stadium got a reactionary reputation for low scoring and bad weather when the Giants squeaked by the Fins 13-10 in 2007. The notion was nixed in 2008, with New Orleans and San Diego combining for 77 points. Don't expect a baseball score in this one, as the forecast is mostly fair (high 50s, 20% chance of showers) save for 18MPH winds. Of course, not even a snowstorm can stop the Patriots' offense. Play Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker against a Bucs defense allowing the biggest YPA (8.5) in the league and the third most passing touchdowns (13).
New England will also be successful on the ground. The Bucs already rank 31st against the run, and NT Chris Hovan is battling an ankle injury. The Gaines Adams trade moves Greg White, or "Stylez G.," into the lineup at weak-side end. White is a poor run defender. With Sammy Morris (knee) and Fred Taylor (ankle) out, Laurence Maroney will start. Risk-taking owners can also give BenJarvus Green-Ellis a long look. He's the Patriots' best short-yardage/goal-line back left and could play extensively if 1) Maroney struggles early, or 2) the Pats jump out to a big lead (likely).
Predicting that a team will have to play "catch up" is always a gamble, but the Bucs simply can't keep up with the Pats' offense. If New England dominates time of possession, though, it won't matter. Every Bucs skill player is a risk, including Kellen Winslow. Pats FS Brandon McGowan has routinely shut down tight ends since entering the lineup early this year. Winslow is more athletic than any TE McGowan has faced, but K2 remains boom or bust...Antonio Bryant's fantasy production has fallen each week since Josh Johnson took over at QB. Keep him benched.
The Patriots have allowed one rushing TD all year, and the prospect of New England getting ahead early or dominating the possession battle reflects poorly on Carnell Williams' Week 7 outlook. Cadillac is playing well (4.3 YPC, on pace for career highs in catches and touchdowns) but he won't be usable for another five weeks. After this one, the Bucs play Green Bay (previously discussed), Miami (third in run defense), and New Orleans (fifth vs. run) before visiting Atlanta.
My Pick- Patriots
Buffalo Bills (2-4) at Carolina Panthers (2-3)
Buffalo @ Carolina
Bills DT Kyle Williams (shoulder) is out, upgrading a beautiful matchup for DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. One of the few members of Buffalo's front seven that has played well, Williams was tied for second on the team in tackles. Run-stopping S Donte Whitner (ankle) also appears doubtful. Williams and Stewart are both must-starts against a Bills defense that already ranked dead last against the run. Thomas Jones gutted them for a Jets record 208 yards with Leon Washington pouring on 145 total yards in Week 6. Both members of "Double Trouble" can get theirs.
Question of the week: Will Steve Smith get back on track? Very likely, especially since the Bills will have to sell out with 8-9 defenders in the box Sunday. More loading up to stop the run will lead to fewer double teams over the top. Expect CB Terrence McGee to shadow Smith all over the field in man-to-man coverage. McGee is a good all-around corner, but Smith can beat any DB in the league one on one, and the conditions for passing will be very favorable (65-70 degree temps, next to no wind or chance of precipitation)...Still, continue to avoid Jake Delhomme.
Not that he was playing well, but Trent Edwards' (concussion) loss will crush the Bills' offense. Noodle-armed backup Ryan Fitzpatrick is easy to game plan against because he can't beat anyone vertically. Terrell Owens will remain a non-factor against Panthers LCB Chris Gamble, while Buffalo's tight ends are all banged up...Lee Evans is a low-upside WR3 option, but at least showed rapport with Fitzpatrick last week (4-68-1). T.O. had just 13 yards. Evans is only the 40th fantasy receiver overall, but has an easier matchup against Panthers RCB Richard Marshall.
Marshawn Lynch also takes a hit with Fitz under center. Lynch's workload will rise with Fred Jackson weaned off tailback duty and taking on more special teams work, and a matchup with Carolina seems favorable. However, the Panthers will bring SS Chris Harris down around the line of scrimmage all day, and OLBs Thomas Davis and Na'il Diggs will be able to "cheat" rather than drop into coverage. While it would be irresponsible to recommend benching Lynch against the NFL's No. 29 run defense, Stewart on Carolina's side has a higher Week 7 "ceiling."
My Pick- Panthers
New York Jets (3-3) at Oakland Raiders (2-4)
NY Jets @ Oakland
All-Pro NT Kris Jenkins' ACL tear significantly weakens the Jets' front seven, forcing undersized 2007 undrafted free agent Mike DeVito into the lineup at end, where he'll replace new nose man Sione Pouha. But this isn't suddenly a tasty matchup for Oakland's running game. The smart money is on Rex Ryan out-scheming Tom Cable, who indicated this week that he'll turn to Justin Fargas at lead back with Darren McFadden (knee) out. The box will be stacked for Fargas, who isn't talented enough to overcome his sub-par teammates and depleted offensive line.
Don't be surprised if Darrelle Revis locks onto Raiders TE Zach Miller. The Broncos used top CB Champ Bailey on Antonio Gates often in Week 6, and Revis shadowing either of Oakland's unproductive wideouts would be wasteful. Jets coach Rex Ryan also shares a bond with Denver defensive boss Mike Nolan. Both are former Ravens defensive coordinators...JaMarcus Russell showed slightly improved touch last week in a fluky win over Philadelphia, but don't think he'll suddenly come around. His quarterback rating when throwing to wide receivers is 18.0.
As mentioned before, I'm chalking up Oakland's Week 6 win as a fluke. The Raiders shocked the Birds with blitzing (Al Davis teams never blitz) and ran successfully while lighting up linebacker Jeremiah Trotter in coverage. The Jets will pound it down Oakland's throat with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, both red hot after dropping an amazing 370 total yards on Buffalo. Jones is a very strong RB2, while Washington is an ideal FLEX in any format...Dustin Keller's production is way down, and he's a weak fantasy bet against the improved Raiders safeties.
Mark Sanchez hasn't had a truly good game since Week 1 and is even off the QB2 radar, but he should have enough success against Oakland's No. 16 pass defense to support a big day for Braylon Edwards. The Raiders' strict use of Nnamdi Asomugha on the defensive right makes it easy for opponents to simply put their top wideout on the other side. With Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) out, Edwards has been playing on the right side of the formation anyway. He's a strong WR2 in favorable conditions (70-degree temps, mild wind, little chance of rain).
My Pick- Jets
Atlanta Falcons (4-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-2)
Atlanta @ Dallas
Miles Austin's promotion onto the first team not only magnifies his fantasy outlook, it helps the rest of Dallas' skill players. Ex-starter Patrick Crayton's drops and inability to separate made it easy for defenses to blitz Tony Romo while double teaming Roy Williams. Atlanta's loss of LCB Brian Williams (torn ACL) also drastically improves Austin's Week 7 matchup. With Chris Houston assigned to Williams, Austin will primarily square off with former NFL Europe cornerback Brent Grimes. Austin is faster, and has a considerable size advantage (6'3/215 to Grimes' 5'10/185).
Playing in Jerry Jones' dome is a plus for both sides' passing games (which, in turn, is also good for both passing games). Williams, Romo, and Jason Witten are quality plays against a Falcons secondary that not only introduces Grimes as a starter, but breaks in Chevis Jackson at nickel back. Back-end communication issues are likely...Atlanta stifled Matt Forte in Week 6, but both Tashard Choice and Marion Barber are more explosive. Barber had a bye to rest his quads and should be near full strength. Expect a 60:40 timeshare in favor of MB3, with Felix Jones returning kicks.
The Falcons use Tony Gonzalez as a matchup weapon. In Week 6, he saw 22 snaps at wideout, four at H-back, and 25 as an in-line tight end. He's fantasy's No. 8 overall TE and a terrific play in what should be a high-scoring game. It doesn't hurt that Cowboys SS Gerald Sensabaugh will play with a cast on his hand...Ryan is an obvious top-five QB1 and Roddy White a top-15 WR playing indoors against the Cowboys' No. 26 pass defense. Dallas' secondary isn't really that bad, but doesn't generate enough pressure (two sacks per game). That's fine by Ryan, who hasn't been sacked in four weeks.
The Cowboys' front seven is among the healthiest in the league, but Michael Turner is on pace for 20 rushing TDs, with six in his last four games. The Falcons certainly will make a concerted effort to get Turner more carries after he saw just 13 last week...Michael Jenkins continues to be Turner's best friend as a running-game wideout. The unselfish receiver averages just 40.4 receiving yards per week while sacrificing himself as a downfield blocker.
My Pick- Falcons
Chicago Bears (3-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)
Chicago @ Cincinnati
The year-ending loss of RE Antwan Odom (Achilles) is an uppercut to the chin of a Cincy defense that opened 2009 appearing much improved. The NFL sacks leader with eight entering Week 6, Odom will be replaced by talented but raw rookie Michael Johnson, who has just 11 tackles and no sacks to this point as the Bengals' oft-used third end. He'll be far easier for Bears LT Orlando Pace to block than Odom would've been...Jay Cutler has at least two touchdowns in each of his last four games and is an obvious must-start against the Bengals' 28th-ranked pass defense.
Johnny Knox has found the end zone in every game since Week 1, but that pace is unsustainable and his yardage totals are inconsistent due to a rotation with Earl Bennett. Greg Olsen and Devin Hester, who will mostly match up with Bengals RCB Johnathan Joseph, are likely to be 1-2 on the Bears in receiving...Matt Forte is just the No. 29 fantasy back so far, but at least gets the ball 21 times a game. A pass-first approach from Chicago is likely because Cincinnati is more beatable through the air, but Forte is very strong in the receiving game. He can't possibly be benched.
There won't be a more motivated player in the league Sunday than Cedric Benson. Bears GM Jerry Angelo was right to cut Ced-Ben in June of 2008 considering his poor commitment, production, and string of arrests, but Benson carries a grudge. Coming off a 44-yard, one-TD effort against an improving Texans defense, Benson is at worst a mid-level RB2 versus a Bears club that ranks sixth against the run but surrenders one rushing score per game...Rookie Bernard Scott has seen just one carry since his 41-yard Week 4 and is not an emerging threat to Benson's workload.
Paul Brown Stadium presents another favorable passing setup. There's no chance of rain, little wind expected, and temps will be in the 60s. Still, the Bengals will feed Benson the rock against his old team, limiting Carson Palmer's upside. It's hard to expect more than 28-32 throws against a Bears defense barely surrendering over one passing TD per game and allowing 6.4 YPA (ninth best average)...That shouldn't stop owners from starting Chad Ochocinco, the No. 7 overall fantasy WR. He'll see a lot of Bears RCB Zackary Bowman, who's been burned all season.
My Pick- Bears
New Orleans Saints (5-0) at Miami Dolphins (2-3)
New Orleans @ Miami
The Saints used an impressive 39:30 run-to-pass ratio in last week's drubbing of the Giants, but figure to go pass heavy at Miami. The Fins are third against the run and 18th against the pass, while allowing the second highest YPA in the league. Drew Brees is poised for another big game against the team that signed Daunte Culpepper over him in the 2006 offseason. Only a 30% chance of rain and temps in the 80s are in the forecast for LandShark Stadium...Marques Colston will likely see a ton of rookie RCB Sean Smith in coverage and is fantasy's No. 8 overall receiver.
Lance Moore got it together with his first game over 38 yards in Week 6, but it's hard to suddenly consider him reliable. With so many options, the Saints are almost forced to weed one receiver out of the box score each game. It was Devery Henderson last week. Who's to say it won't be Moore this week?...Pierre Thomas got his fair share of red-zone carries against New York, but didn't execute. Mike Bell did and has the "hot hand" in short yardage. Expect Sean Payton to ride Bell in scoring situations going forward as Reggie Bush and Thomas are featured between the 20s.
New Orleans is fifth in run defense, but the likely absence of SLB Scott Fujita (calf) will sting. At 6'5/250, he's easily the club's biggest linebacker and will be replaced by 6'0/233-pound college free agent JoLonn Dunbar. The Dolphins love running to the strong side in the Wildcat. Expect success for Miami's No. 1-ranked ground attack...The risk is that New Orleans jumps out to an early lead, but that wouldn't hurt Ronnie Brown. Highly effective in the passing game, Brown figures to take over as the Fins' full-time "hurry-up" back following Patrick Cobbs' ACL tear.
The Saints remain stout against the pass, making big plays (NFL-high 11 picks) while allowing the fourth-fewest yards per throw. It's not a recipe for Chad Henne to have success. Henne will likely dump off to Davone Bess, his backs, and Anthony Fasano rather than take downfield shots to Ted Ginn Jr., who will mostly be covered by RCB Tracy Porter with Saints FS Darren Sharper in "help" coverage...No Dolphins wideout is recommended this week, though Bess will be a candidate for 6-8 catches should Miami fall behind. Greg Camarillo, the club's designated blocking wideout, is unlikely to play often if this turns into a shootout.
My Pick- Saints
Arizona Cardinals (3-2) at New York Giants (5-1)
Sunday Night Football
Arizona @ NY Giants
New York will be out for blood after its Week 6 blowout loss. Giants defensive boss Bill Sheridan scaled back his blitzing, used "off" coverage (cushions), and paid for it at New Orleans. Arizona employs a similarly pass-heavy offense, but doesn't go downfield as often as the Saints. Kurt Warner will be hurried all night. Slow-legged Cardinals RT Levi Brown is no match for Giants LE Justin Tuck's freakish athleticism, and Jints RE Osi Umenyiora has a bone to pick after not even registering a hurry last Sunday. He'll square off with Cards LT Mike Gandy in another mismatch.
Larry Fitzgerald remains a must-play. The Cards use him just like the Saints do Marques Colston, who dropped 8-166-1 on the Jints last week...Anquan Boldin (ankle) is questionable and a risk if he's active. Look for Steve Breaston to play more downs. Breaston has been hot since missing Week 1 and is a top-20 WR option no matter Boldin's game-day status...Tim Hightower faces a tough Giants run defense and is a poor fantasy bet, even with Beanie Wells battling a hip injury. Arizona will struggle to move the ball, and Hightower averages 3.1 YPC. He doesn't make anyone miss.
Light winds, temperatures in the 60s, and no chance of precipitation are in the Meadowlands forecast. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are worthwhile RB2s, even against a Cards defense that ranks No. 1 against the run. The Giants will not struggle to move the football...Still, Arizona is 31st against the pass and Eli Manning is the ninth-best fantasy QB in the league. With Hakeem Nicks coming on and both Mario Manningham and Steve Smith continuing to play at a high level, Eli should be in lineups playing at home.
Manningham, whose back/ribs issue won't affect his status, and Nicks remain in a rotation that makes them hard to confidently recommend in a given week. Nicks exploded for 114 yards and a TD in Week 6, at least partially because Manningham's snaps were down due to the injury. Still, consider Smith a WR2 and both Mario and Nicks WR3 options. The Giants use plenty of three-wideout sets and this matchup is favorable...Kevin Boss returned from his high ankle sprain in Week 6 to register 18 yards. He hasn't topped 41 since the opener.
My Pick- Giants
Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) at Washington Redskins (2-4)
Monday Night Football
Philadelphia @ Washington
Now several weeks removed from his ankle injury, Brian Westbrook's workload is set to increase. It's deserved, as Westbrook is averaging 5.71 yards per touch to LeSean McCoy's 4.47. McCoy is a very good "1" portion of the likely "2-1" committee and will someday be the Eagles' every-down back, but isn't a fantasy option here. Westbrook's quicks will cause fits for the Skins' heavyweight front seven, which starts aging DLs Phillip Daniels and Cornelius Griffin.
After a fluky, nightmarish Week 6 loss to Oakland, Philadelphia's offense is likely to get back on track. The Skins rank third in the league in pass defense, but RCB DeAngelo Hall (who will likely be on Jeremy Maclin for most of Sunday) is burnable and the weather at FedEx Field (temps in the 60s, 0% chance of rain, only 10MPH winds) won't hinder passing. Get Donovan McNabb, Brent Celek, Maclin, and DeSean Jackson rolling against the intradivision Redskins.
Washington welcomes new playcaller Sherm Lewis back to the league after a five-year layoff. He has very little knowledge of the Skins' personnel after two weeks with the franchise. The idea of Lewis suddenly playing a major role in game planning and decision making is questionable to say the least. Don't expect more than 10 points from Washington on Sunday...Philadelphia's blitzes will return after they were surprisingly put on the backburner last week against Oakland. Skins replacement tackles Stephon Heyer and Mike Williams will be confused.
All Redskins skill players are major risks. Santana Moss will likely struggle to get open downfield as Washington's protection collapses. Clinton Portis has no burst, and Philadelphia's defense will improve all around with newly acquired Will Witherspoon at middle linebacker...Chris Cooley owners can lean on the fact that Green Bay's tight ends were highly productive when Lewis was the Packers' offensive coordinator from 1992-1999. He coached the likes of five-time Pro Bowler Keith Jackson and three-time Pro Bowler Mark Chmura.
My Pick- Eagles
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