Each week, we will look at each defensive match-up to determine which key offensive players will have the best and worst games. The opportunity is there for players that have been underachieving to break out of their slump. Will it happen or will they continue to reside in the gutter?
Jacksonville @ Tennessee
While Jacksonville is and always will be a run first team, David Garrard has had respectable stats this season. He is getting some solid support from his receivers; Torry Holt and Mike Sims-Walker. The Jaguars face the Titans in week eight after they allowed six touchdowns to Tom Brady. While I do not expect six touchdowns from Garrard, he will have a solid day against a Titans pass defense who allows an NFL worst, 310 yards per game. I also like Holt and Sims-Walker and I expect a solid day from then as well. I cannot leave out Maurice Jones-Drew as he is a solid threat as a receiver out of the backfield.
St. Louis @ Detroit
I would have never thought I would see Marc Bulger and the Rams up here, but any team facing the hapless Lions deserves to be here. Bulger has not been very good this season and his receiver are paying the price and I seriously doubt anyone has Bulger on their roster. However, the Lions do give up 310 yards per game and have allowed 17 passing touchdowns. If you are in a bind and need a QB or WR to fill a hole, Bulger and Avery should be serviceable options.
New Orleans vs. Atlanta
Drew Brees struggled through the air for the better part of the game against Miami this past Sunday, but he did manage to pull out a win when it mattered. Brees should get back on track this week as the Saints face the Falcons who allow 250 yards per game. While it should be a no-brainer, Brees is a must start. However, it is hard to recommend which receiving option will be best this week as Brees, like Brady, hits whatever receiver is open. However, I do like Marques Colston as Brees go-to option and Jeremy Shockey around the red zone.
Bad and Ugly
Oakland @ San Diego
Now that JaMarcus Russell has finally been benched, Bruce Gradkowski is now at the helm. Gradkowski was the starting QB for the Buccaneers and played fairly well, but he had decent receiving options. While Gradkowski is a better option over Russell, he is still going to have his hands full against the Chargers. The Chargers allow 137 yards per game through the air are very good at getting to the QB. The only decent receiving option is Zach Miller, but hopefully you have better options as he has seen more downs than ups this season.
San Francisco @ Indianapolis
There has been a change at QB in San Fran with Alex Smith taking the helm at QB. Smith had a decent game against the Texans, but he has a much tougher match-up against the Colts who allow 179 yards per game. While I would not recommend Smith, I would recommend Vernon Davis who has been on fire as of late and 50/1 is not out of the question.
Arizona @ Carolina
Kurt Warner had an off game last week against a solid Giants defense and he has an even tougher match-up against the Panthers who allow 149 yards per game. On the flip side, the Panthers are horrible against the run, so I doubt Warner will need to pass in order to come out with a victory. Unless you really need him, I would look for other options. However, you really need to start your top pick in Larry Fitzgerald as he will still be a serviceable option.
NYG @ Philadelphia
Both teams are in the top five in the NFL against the pass and are dead even against the run, so this will be a very interesting game. With that said, I like both Eli Manning and Donovan McNabb as they both play each other very well. On the Giants side of the ball, it seems as though Hakeem Nicks is coming into his own and Manning looks to him often, while the other receiving options take what is left. On the Eagles side, I like DeSean Jackson as I see him getting back into the mix and also Brent Celek. McNabb may be hurried at times and will look to Celek to dump of passes.
San Diego vs. Oakland
LaDainian Tomlinson has shown improvement over the past two weeks and while he has not broke 100 yards, he is starting to look like his old self. The Chargers face the Raiders in week eight and they allow 169 yards per game and have given up 11 touchdowns, which is most in the NFL. I look for L.T. to score his first 100 yards game of the season and score his second touchdown. If you have L.T. on your bench, now is the time to plug him in your lineup. I also like Darren Spores as he should have a solid day in relief.
Houston @ Buffalo
Steve Slaton has struggled at times on the ground; however, owners are keeping him in the lineup due to his receiving skills. He was 341 yards on the ground and 304 yards through the air. Like Tomlinson, this is the week that Slaton can score his first 100 yards game. The Texans face the Bills who allow 172 yards per game, which is worst in the NFL. Needless to say, Slaton is a solid play this week and he is even more attractive in PPR leagues.
Chicago vs. Cleveland
Matt Forte is deep in a “sophomore slump” and while I thought he was out of it when the Bears faced Detroit in week 4, he fell back down the ladder over the past two weeks. Most of you have him stashed away on your bench and now is the time to plug him into your lineup. If he cannot get it going this week against the Browns who allow 170 yards per game on the ground, then he is a lost cause and deserves to be dropped.
Bad and Ugly
Carolina @ Arizona
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both had their best game of the season against the Buccaneers in week 6, but the Bills defense held them in check last week. They both had the opportunity to build their stats over the past two games, but they failed to capitalize. They have a tough match-up this week when they face the best run defense in the NFL. The Cardinals allow 67 yards per game and have given up only three rushing touchdowns. Williams would be the only RB I would start as he has the ability to be a decent receiver out of the backfield, but keep your expectations low.
NYJ vs. Miami
Thomas Jones has been solid over the past two games, but he struggled in his first meeting with the Dolphins in week 5, but he did score two touchdowns. However, Miami’s run defense has improved since then and while I expect similar rushing yards (42), I do not expect the Dolphins to allow two rushing touchdowns. I would only start Jones as a flex option at best, unless you are being bitten by the bye week bug.
Baltimore vs. Denver
Ray Rice has yet to see a top notch run defense, but he will get his chance this week as the Ravens face a Broncos defense who allow 79 yards per game and have given up only two rushing touchdowns. I would expect to see an even split between Rice and Willis McGahee, something we have not seen over the past few weeks. It seems when a RB struggles, the coaching staff goes to the bench and that is what is going to happen in this game. If you have better options, then I would go with them as I am a little leery of Rice this week.
St. Louis @ Detroit
Ah, the battle of weak offensive teams who could not stop the run if their life depended on it. The Rams give up 135 rushing yards per game and 11 touchdowns, while the Lions give up 134 yards per game and five touchdowns. I like both Steven Jackson and Kevin Smith this week as I expect this game to be ultimately decided on the ground. I expect to see Jackson score his first touchdown of the season and Smith is in line for his second 100 yard game of the season.