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New England, Pittsburgh, Miami, Seattle
- Eli Manning vs. Houston—The Texans pass D is like gasoline on an open flame–explosive for opposing quarterbacks and receivers. Don’t expect Eli to be any different. Little Manning should come out and post a more-than-serviceable game against Houston. Also expect No. 10 to get old favorites Steve Smith and Kevin Boss heavily involved in this game.
- Sam Bradford vs. Detroit—Coming off 289 yards and two TDs versus Seattle last week, the rookie now draws the lowly Lions. Bradford is playing at a very high level for a youngster and seems to be learning and improving right before our eyes. There’s no reason to think Bradford won’t be a plus starter for you if you’re looking for someone to fill in for Tom Brady this week.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Jacksonville—Admittedly, this is more of a leap of faith. But Fitzpatrick has taken the Bills QB job by the reins and is quickly developing a nice connection with wideouts Steve Johnson and Roscoe Parrish. If you’re buried at quarterback or play in a two-QB league, you’ll want to take a look at Fitz. Oh, I almost forgot. On top of everything else, the Jaguars defense allows 47 percent more fantasy points against opposing quarterbacks than the NFL average.
- Jamaal Charles vs. Indianapolis—If you’ve been considering benching JC Superstar, think again. The same way I told you not to lose hope in Maurice Jones-Drew in this column last weekend, I am telling you to keep the faith in Charles. First of all, he has the Colts’ pathetic rush defense next on the docket. Indy is the same team that allowed Arian Foster to explode onto the fantasy football scene in Week 1 and let Drew get his mojo back last week. Second, Charles is a big-time talent and talent eventually wins out in the NFL. Lastly, the Chiefs are trying to remain the last unbeaten team in the league and Charles gives them the best chance to do so. Stick with your boy.
- Ryan Mathews vs. Oakland—It’s time for the rookie to start living up to the hype. So far, the severely over-drafted runner has been significantly outplayed by Mike Tolbert…from Coastal Carolina. Seriously? This just won’t do in the world of A.J. Smith and his ego. He did not trade up to draft Mathews only to have an in-house guy take the job. Right or wrong, Mathews gets his chance to be the true feature back in San Diego this week against the Raiders. You have to love the way it all sets up for him if you’re a Mathews fantasy owner. Oakland has the third-worst defense in the league versus opposing fantasy running backs. Sounds like a multiple touchdown kind of game to me.
- Fred Jackson vs. Jacksonville—Jackson makes for a workman type flex play or a decent emergency RB2 this week if you’re trying to find a replacement for Rashard Mendenhall, Ronnie Brown, or even the injured Darren McFadden. The trade of Marshawn Lynch makes F-Jax an unsexy, yet productive fantasy option once more. If you had him in 2009, you know exactly what I mean. He’ll lose more touches to C.J. Spiller as the season progresses but should be a nice matchup play until Spiller takes over.
- Michael Bush vs. San Diego—The bottom line is, when Michael Bush starts football games and is the primary ball carrier, he puts up huge numbers. On the four occasions this situation has arisen, Bush has run for over 500 yards and scored four touchdowns. Get the point? With Run DMC officially out this week, Bush smells like a must-start.
- Steve Smith(Giants) vs. Houston—This is a "get right” week for the man who led the NFL in third down receptions in 2009. It’s time for Eli’s favorite receiver to become Eli’s favorite receiver again and, at least temporarily, justify his preseason ranking. Smith has still been an acceptable PPR player, but don’t be surprised to see an end zone visit for him against the Jaguars.
- Percy Harvin vs. New York Jets—The Favre-to-Harvin connection started clicking prior to the bye week. Now, with an extra week of preparation, more work together, and a certain Pro Bowl receiver making his return to the Vikings organization, it’s okay to expect big things from Harvin again. Randy Moss will definitely take the focus off the second year wideout, allowing him to catch underneath passes and make some things happen against the blitz-happy Rex Ryan defense.
- T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. Denver—Peaking ahead on the schedule, Housh has the Patriots and Bills the next two weeks and, including this matchup with Denver, should start to resemble his old self again. Houshmandzadeh should be able to exploit the rookie cornerbacks for the Broncos and keep the momentum of last week’s game-winning touchdown rolling.
- Steve Johnson vs. Jacksonville—Johnson seems to have clearly become Ryan Fitzpatrick’s guy. The new Bills signal caller definitely looks for him on scoring plays and that has led to touchdowns in consecutive games. No great shakes for a Colts receiver or a Saints receiver, but pretty good stuff for anyone on the Bills roster. If you haven’t picked up on the theme yet, the Jaguars defense is pretty bad and Stevie has a nice shot to make it three games in a row.
- Jeremy Shockey vs. Arizona—Shockey, as Jon Gruden likes to say, is a joker. He is a wild card type player who the Saints look to utilize when the matchup is right. The Cardinals D has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. I’d say that qualifies as a good matchup. Expect Brees to find Shockey for a TD and for him to be a nice bye week fill-in for Aaron Hernandez, John Carlson, and/or Heath Miller.
- Kevin Boss vs. Houston—The Texans give up 97 percent more fantasy points to TE than the league average. Also, see Eli Manning above.
- Saints D/ST vs. Arizona—The Cardinals are starting a rookie quarterback, Max Hall, who doesn’t even project as the team’s QB of the future. Rookie quarterbacks usually translate to sacks and turnovers, and sacks and turnovers translate to fantasy points. It’s easy math. You don’t have to be John Nash to figure it out.
- Panthers D/ST vs. Chicago—Don’t expect 10 sacks from Carolina, but it’s okay to plug them in as a matchup play versus an obviously weak Bears offensive line and it definitely helps that Jay Cutler is still a little woozy form his encounter with Giants and will not be making an appearance. Todd Collins does not, under any circumstances, scare anyone.
- Tony Romo vs. Tennessee—The Titans are a top 10 defense against opposing fantasy quarterbacks and wide receivers. The Cowboys offensive line is not the strength of the team while Tennessee’s defensive line attacks the QB relentlessly with their depth. Expect a low scoring game. Low scoring games are not conducive to great fantasy starts from your quarterback.
- Kyle Orton vs. Baltimore—If you follow me on Twitter (@FantasyBuddha) then you already know what a fan I am of Orton and his ability to direct the pass-happy Josh McDaniels system. This week, however, the Ravens and their top-ranked defense against opposing fantasy quarterbacks play host to Orton. Fantasy football is a matchup driven game and this matchup does not favor Orton and the Broncos.
- Ray Rice vs. Denver—Ray Ray is not the man he was in 2009. With the additions of Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the Baltimore offense has changed. And not in a favorable way for Rice. Fantasy owners are beginning to utter the “B word” when it comes to him. Rice’s downward trajectory compares sadly to Matt Forte’s 2009 certified bust of a season. Both guys were coming off huge seasons and were drafted in the top half of the first round in almost every fantasy football league. Forte didn’t even live up to the PPR hype and now it looks like Rice won’t either. The Broncos are sneaky good against the run and held Chris Johnson to 53 yards last week. It just doesn’t sound like the week for Rice to bounce back to me.
- Joseph Addai vs. Kansas City—Speaking of downward trajectories, Addai’s once mighty fantasy value has been in a freefall since the end of the 2008 season. Addai still makes for a decent flex play, but he hasn’t topped the 100-yard rushing mark in Indianapolis’ last 29 games. That’s a scary number, folks. With Addai also banged up, there are a lot of more attractive options out there right now.
- Michael Crabtree vs. Philadelphia—I just don’t like Crabtree as a fantasy option this season. The diva wide receiver has burned many fantasy owners so far and I can’t see it changing this week. Even with Eagles Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel out for this week’s game. Crabtree comes off as selfish with no desire to earn greatness because he already views himself as great without having accomplished anything at the NFL level to back it up. I understand that NFL players have to be confident to be successful, but they also need to work hard and be team players too. Until that happens with Crabtree, I’ll steer clear.
- Brandon Lloyd vs. Baltimore—Lloyd has done everything he can possibly do to finally become the player that many expected him to be way back in San Francisco. He has a strong rapport with Kyle Orton and has worked hard to become a better route runner. That being said, he draws the Ravens this week and it’s easy to see a letdown coming. With Lloyd, I feel like I’m from Missouri. He still has to “show me”.
- Tony Moeaki vs. Indianapolis—Moeaki has been a great surprise for the Chiefs thus far and should get much better as the season continues to unfold. This game against the Colts may be a bump in the road. Indy’s D is the best in the NFL in terms of shutting down fantasy tight ends. Expect Moeaki to be too busy blocking for the Chiefs stud running backs to make a splash for your fantasy team this week.
- Colts D/ST vs. Kansas City—If the Colts don’t get sacks and force turnovers, then they simply are not fantasy viable. With Todd Haley and Charlie Weis calling mostly running plays, sacks and turnovers should be in short supply for Indianapolis versus the Chiefs. This should be a game in which the Chiefs eclipse 200 yards rushing and give the Colts all they can handle.