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Week 7 Sleepers


This article is a weekly look at players generally ranked outside the realm of every week starters. The players covered here usually fall into two categories: those with a good matchup or those who have an opportunity to start because of an injury to a teammate. On the other hand, sometimes a player may be considered if he is normally a starter, but has a bad matchup. Each position is covered in descending order beginning with the players who are better gambles and finishing with those who are certifiable reaches. Your mileage may vary, but the idea is to discuss these players and provide you with some analysis that might help you make those difficult lineup decisions a bit easier. Good luck and always keep in mind that your feedback and comments are welcome.


Quarterback

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

QB Mark Brunell - NYJ (at ATL)

Just in case you don’t have enough confidence to start Brunell yet, keep in mind that he’s facing the league’ worst secondary this week, and subsequently, the team that’s allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs. He’s even playing at home. Brunell isn’t a sleeper in the classic sense, but consider this just a friendly reminder. If you are carrying him on your roster, then start him this week unless you are fortunate enough to own Brunell and an ace like Manning, McNabb or Palmer. The 49ers are allowing opponents 365 passing yds/gm with a 69.5% completion rate.

QB Jason Campbell - FA ( FA)

What is one way of predicting success for Jason Campbell this week? When Vinny Testaverde completes 20-of-33 for 206 yards and a TD last week against the same Arizona Cardinals defense that Campbell faces this week, you know things are looking up. Let’s take that to one more level. Gus Frerotte threw for 262 yards, 3 TDs and 3 INTs the prior week against Arizona. In the last four games, Arizona’s opponents have thrown for 206, 262, 244 and 275 yards with 7 TDs and 5 INTs. Campbell’s worst game this year was 190 yards and a TD against the Giants. He’s currently the 16th best QB year-to-date in FBG scoring, so he’s a solid reach to produce among the top 12 or so QBs this week given the matchup.

QB Matt Cassel - TEN (at ARI)

For the second week in a row, Matt Cassel and the Chiefs have an outstanding passing matchup. Last week, Cassel was able to take advantage of the Texans horrific pass defense as he completed 20-of-29 for 201 yards and 3 TDs. The Texans are the worst pass defense in the league, but it might really be a case of 1a and 1b with Jacksonville right on their heels. The Chiefs host the Jaguars this week and it’s a short week for the Jags, who are allowing 277 passing yards, 2.3 TDs and 0.7 INTs per game to opposing QBs. They’re allowing a ridiculous 8.8 YPA and a 66.8% completion rate, so it should be no surprise that opposing QBs have a 110-passer rating against them. Even though Cassel still inspire confidence, the matchup may be too difficult to ignore in a week when Schaub, Manning and the Lions QB (Stafford, Hill and Stanton have all produced stats) are on the bye along with Mark Sanchize. A couple things to consider that could limit Cassel’s numbers. He hasn’t thrown more than 29 passes in a game this year. The Chiefs like to, and prefer, to run the football with Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster. Can’t fault that logic. Secondly, the Jags are a horrible road team. The Chiefs defense is solid and this game may play out in a way that limits Cassel’s pass attempts.

QB Jay Cutler - CHI (vs BAL)

Jay Cutler is coming off a season-best 300 yards passing against the Falcons on Sunday night. Cutler threw a pair of touchdowns and a pair of picks, too, while adding 34 yards rushing. This week, Cutler catches the Bengals at the right time. DE Antwan Odom was having a Pro Bowl season before suffering a season-ending injury last week against the Texans. Needless to say, the Bengals pass rush probably won’t be nearly as effective without Odom coming off the edge. Matt Schaub quickly solved the Bengals defense last week throwing for 392 yards, 4 TDs and an INT on 28-of-40 passing. Schaub completed 70% of his passes. The Bengals secondary played very well in the first month of the season, but with a weakened pass rush, Cutler and the Bears might be able to take advantage of them. Cutler has thrown for at least 236 yards in four of his five starts this year and 2+ touchdowns in four of his five games as well. In their last four games, the Bengals have allowed 281 passing yards, 1.8 TDs and 1.2 INTs per game.

QB Jake Delhomme - HOU (vs IND)

Delhomme threw three interceptions last week in Tampa Bay, but he was still able to record his third straight game of 230+ yards. This week, he’s playing a Saints defense that is allowing 241 passing yds/gm along with 1 TD and 0.8 INTs per game. The Saints are also without two starters in their secondary due to injuries. Last week, JaMarcus Russell was the first QB to face New Orleans this year that didn’t throw for over 200 yards and at least 1 TD (he did neither). Expect Delhomme to continue taking shots deep with Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad against the Saints, only this week he’ll connect.

QB Joe Flacco - BAL (at CHI)

The Bills run defense is awful (allowing 182 yds/gm) and the Bills offense may struggled to move the football, much less score, against the Ravens. For those reasons, Joe Flacco’s upside this week is likely capped this week, but that doesn’t mean he won’t or can’t be useful as a low-end QB1. Here’s the deal. He may not throw more than 25 or 30 passes. Opposing QBs have thrown only 27 passes per game against Buffalo (lowest in the league), but the Bills have sacked the QB only 6 times (2nd lowest), but they’re allowing 2 TDs (4th most) per game and they’ve intercepted only one pass. Furthermore, opposing QBs are completing 68.4% of their passes and collectively have the highest passer rating against Buffalo (114.8). The barriers to success for Flacco are mostly around how the game might unfold, but not at all because it’s a tough matchup. Don’t count on huge numbers, but even with 25 to 30 pass attempts, Flacco should be able to generate around 200 yards and a couple of TDs.

QB Gus Frerotte - FA ( FA)

The more things change in the NFL, the more they stay the same. Year after year, the Chiefs continue to rank at or near the top of the league in passing yards allowed, and more succinctly, fantasy points allowed. Through five games (six weeks), the Chiefs rank 2nd allowing 293 yds/gm and 1.8 TDs/gm with a 64% completion rate. Frerotte doesn’t even have to worry about the crowd noise of playing at Arrowhead because this game is at home in sunny Miami. Needless to say, things are looking brighter for Frerotte, Chambers and McMichael this week.

QB Jeff Garcia - HOU (vs IND)

Garcia enters this week’s game against the Detroit Lions as the 14th ranked fantasy QB (year-to-date using FBG scoring). He’s started all six of the Bucs games without throwing a single interception yet. On the other hand, in three of those games he failed to throw a TD and in two games he didn’t score at all. Garcia doesn’t offer a lot of explosiveness as a fantasy QB like he used to as a more youthful QB of the 49ers, but T.O. and Rice had something to do with that. As a prime sleeper, he doesn’t have a steep downside either. He also has some extra incentive going against one of his former teams (Detroit) this week. The Lions defensively can be a feisty group at home, but they still give up far too many yards and TDs to opponents, so Garcia should be more productive than usual in this matchup. Without a solid ground game, Garcia will be counted on more heavily to move the offense. The Lions are allowing 284 passing yards, 2 TDs and 1.8 interceptions per game. This might be the week when Garcia throws his first pick, but he should also produce enough in both positive areas (yards and TDs) to more than compensate for a potential turnover or two. For reference, Jason Campbell looked like a Pro Bowler two weeks ago against the Lions completing 23-of-29 for 248 yards and 2 TDs – and most of those incompletions were drops by Santana Moss or one of the Redskins receivers.

QB Byron Leftwich - PIT (at CIN)

Leftwich and the Jaguars had two weeks to prepare for this game. The Texans are the #1 matchup for opposing QBs allowing 285 yds/gm, 2.2 TDs/gm and just 0.2 INTs/gm (just 1 INT in 5 games). Opposing QBs are completing 68.6% of their passes against Houston. Given the extra time to prepare and the great matchup, Leftwich could be one of this week’s top performers at the position. Plus, with an extra week to get healthy, Matt Jones should be ready to go giving Leftwich his full repertoire of weapons for the first time in a few games.

QB Matt Leinart - FA ( FA)

After playing the Bears on Monday Night Football, facing the Raiders this week will seem like a leisurely walk in the park for Matt Leinart. Granted, the Raiders problems are less on the defensive side of the ball, but one of the biggest reasons opponents haven’t produced a lot of passing numbers against them is that they simply didn’t need to throw much to beat them. The Raiders pass defense, for those reasons, rank #1 in passing yards allowed, but note that they’ve allowed 1.6 TDs per game and have a league low 6 sacks. If Leinart has time, he should pick the Raiders apart and he has a very good chance to produce numbers that are starter-quality.

QB Josh McCown - CLE (vs DET)

McCown is coming off the bye week, at home with another nice matchup. The Titans have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing QBs – 232 yards, 2.2 TDs and 0.5 interceptions per game – and an alarming 71.9% completion rate. McCown should be able to produce no worse than 200+ yards and a pair of TDs in this game. He’s still a young QB though. He’s prone to mental errors and could always throw a few picks, too. Big Ben threw for 218 yards and 2 TDs in week one against Tennessee. Anthony Wright put up 212 yards, 1 TD and an interception. Actually, Wright and David Carr are the only QBs not to throw at least 2 TDs against them.

QB Chad Pennington - MIA (vs KC)

The Lions are allowing 263 passing yds/gm with 2.2 TDs and just 0.3 INTs per game. They rank as the 3rd best matchup for opposing QBs. The Lions are allowing a league-high 70.6% completion percentage. The Lions LBs are fast, but often are out of position. A savvy veteran like Pennington, when given time to make his progressions, should have no problems finding open WRs and dissecting the Lions defense this week.

QB Tony Romo - DAL (at SEA)

Tony Romo seems to have many things happening around him that could work in his favor heading into this week’s game against the Falcons. The Cowboys had their bye last week, which gave Roy Williams the time he needed to get healthier and rejoin the starting lineup. He’ll be joined by Miles Austin, fresh off his 10-catch, 255 yard, 2 TD performance two weeks ago. Replacing Patrick Crayton with Austin is likely a positive for the Cowboys offense. Crayton lacked the speed needed to stretch the field, but Austin has it. Meanwhile, the Falcons lost CB Brian Williams to a season-ending injury last week and he’ll be replaced by Brent Grimes in the lineup. The Falcons were already allowing 252 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT per game to opposing QBs. While Romo has been a solid fantasy starter over the past few years, he has not been a consistent performer this year, but he looks like a nice play this weekend.

QB Matt Ryan - ATL (vs NYJ)

Matt Ryan has been a borderline fantasy starter so far this season and he has a nice matchup this week against a Cowboys defense allowing 264 yards, 1.6 TDs and just 0.4 INTs per game. All five quarterbacks that have played Dallas have thrown for 220 or more yards and 1 or 2 TDs. Only one of the five threw an interception, and that was Jake Delhomme, who threw two. Ryan has thrown for 2 or more touchdowns in four of his five starts while completing well over 60% of his passes and throwing just four interceptions. The Falcons have done a nice job of protecting Ryan and now that Roddy White has re-emerged as a big play threat to complement Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez, he should produce more consistently as a QB1 in most leagues. In other words, don’t expect to see Ryan again in this column. He’s quickly ascending to starter status and this week could very well earn him that distinction for your team going forward if he hasn’t done that already.

QB Matt Schaub - ATL (vs NYJ)

Matt Schaub’s season has been like a tale of two games. In his first two games, Schaub threw for 390 yards, 1 TD and 5 INTs. In his second two games, Schaub threw for 687 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs. This week, Schaub hopes to continue his impressive run with a uber strong matchup against the Detroit Lions. The Lions have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs, an average of 262 yds, 1.8 TDs and 0.2 INTs per game. The Lions have struggle to mount any semblance of a pass rush and they’ve intercepted just one pass this year. Last week, Gus Frerotte threw for 296 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT each against the Lions. Schaub could very well produce his third straight 300-yard game if it weren’t for the possibility of the Texans going up by 20 points before halftime.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

QB Drew Bledsoe - FA ( FA)

Tracking Drew Bledsoe from week to week is like reading “A Tale of Two Cities”. He has been horrible in games featuring good defenses, yet he produces quality numbers against lesser opponents. Such is the case this week against a Giants defense that, quite frankly, has looked good and bad themselves in different games. In the last two games, the Giants played well defensively limiting the Redskins and Falcons production. Of course, Matt Hasselbeck’s huge game against them skewed their matchup numbers, which might make them something of an anomaly at this stage. They are currently the 6th best matchup for QBs allowing 223 yds, 1.6 TDs and 1 INT per game. Running with Bledsoe is akin to running with bulls in Pamplona. You run the risk of being gored or you could escape unscathed, and you just might get a couple TDs and 200+ yards out of him.

QB Marc Bulger - FA ( FA)

Normally, Marc Bulger would never appear in this column, but this has been anything but a normal year so far. Bulger enters this week’s game ranked an amazingly low 29th amongst fantasy QBs with just 2 TDs and 4 INTs. In four starts, Bulger has failed to throw for 200+ yards in three of those games. I don’t usually reference historical stats or trends because they are mostly irrelevant. However, it might be worth noting that Bulger has thrown for 300 or more yards in four of the last five games he’s played against the divisional rival Seahawks. This year, opposing QBs are averaging 238 yards passing for 0.8 TDs and 0.8 INTs on 21-of-34 passing against Seattle. Bulger hopes to have Isaac Bruce rejoin the starting lineup this week after missing a couple games. With injuries mounting and bye weeks thinning the herd, Bulger is worth a gamble this week even though the Rams offense has been lethargic this year.

QB Jay Cutler - CHI (vs BAL)

You live by the sword and die by the sword with Jay Cutler. He’s being sacked at an unprecedented clip this season, but the Bears continue to throw the ball around with little to no regard to pass protection. Cutler goes up against a Redskins defense that is allowing 311 passing yards per game to QBs along with 1.5 TDs and 0.7 INTs per game. Here’s the rub. If Cutler is able to finish the game, you can count on him having 280 or more yards with 1 or 2 TDs. However, the Redskins knocked Michael Vick out of their game in Week 4 and Cutler is an even bigger risk for injury. The Redskins opponents are averaging 43.8 pass attempts per game (most in the league). They also have 13 sacks and they’ll be looking to pad their stats against the Bears and their frequent seven step drops.

QB Trent Edwards - OAK (vs BUF)

Edwards appears to be on track to start this week for the Bills when they face the San Diego Chargers in Buffalo. Edwards suffered a concussion two weeks ago, but used the bye week to rest and, as of Wednesday; he was back in practice and expected to resume his starting job. The Bills should get Roscoe Parrish back into the lineup, too. The Chargers come into the game allowing 267 yards/gm through the air (most in the league) as well as 1.7 TDs and 1 INT per game. Matt Cassel didn’t fare too well against the Chargers on Sunday night (203/0/1) but his production has been the low point for opposing QBs with all others before him throwing for at least 225 yds and 1 or more TDs.

QB Brett Favre - FA ( FA)

If you’ve owned Brett Favre before, then you know that for every few solid performances he puts together, there is always a 3 or 4 interception game lurking around the corner to burn you. That may be the case this week, but there’s also enough evidence to suggest that he will just continue rolling along buoyed by a strong running game, a solid offensive line and playmakers at every skill position. The Steelers have Troy Polamalu back in the lineup, but that may or may not have had anything to do with Derek Anderson stinking up the joint last week. Prior to Anderson, three of the five QBs to face Pittsburgh have produced 21+ fantasy points while the other two had reasonable production (183-1-0 and 244-1-1). Favre has four straight games of 232 or more yards and 9 TDs in that span against just 2 interceptions. The law of averages suggest that Favre is well overdue for one of his 4-INT outings, so playing Favre may be like playing with fire. On the other hand, he’s been rock solid and he did it last week against a pretty good Ravens defense, so why not ride him and take your chances?

QB Bruce Gradkowski - FA ( FA)

If two games were an adequate sample size, then the Bucs rookie QB would be given carte blanche status as a viable fantasy QB. Despite being a rookie 6th round pick who has been forced into action; Gradkowski is playing more like a poised veteran after leading the Bucs to a come-from-behind victory last week against the Bengals. The Eagles, while an aggressive and dangerous opponent, have allowed 265 yds, 1.3 TDs and 1.3 INTs per game to opposing QBs. They are the 7th best matchup coming into this game.

QB Brad Johnson - FA ( FA)

The Seahawks are the 5th best matchup for QBs allowing 265 yds, 1.8 TDs and 1 INT per game. Last week, Marc Bulger threw for 360 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT against them. In previous weeks, Rex Grossman (232, 2, 0), Eli Manning (275, 3, 3), Kurt Warner (231, 1, 1) and Jon Kitna (229, 0, 0) were all productive (to varying degrees) against the Seahawks. Johnson has thrown for 200+ yards in 4 of the Vikings 5 games with 3 TDs and 3 INTs. A reasonable expectation this week would be in the 220 yard range with 1-2 TDs and probably an INT, too.

QB Eli Manning - NYG (vs DEN)

The Broncos defense is allowing an average of 255 yards/gm with 7 TDs and 4 INTs along with a completion rate of 57.6% and only 8 sacks in six games. Manning has been more productive at home with 6 TDs, 2 INTs and 468 yards against the Cardinals and Rams. Every QB that has faced Denver has thrown for 221 yards or more except Drew Brees (175 yds, 1 TD). Leftwich threw for 240 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. Brunell had 322 yards and 2 TDs. Last week, Tom Brady threw for 299 yards with a TD in Denver. With another strong start likely, Manning is becoming too good to write about in this column.

QB Eli Manning - NYG (vs DEN)

The Cardinals defense was the #1 defensive matchup for QBs going into last week, but then last week they dominated the Seahawks offensive line and Matt Hasselbeck had one of the worst games of his career completing just 10 of 29 for 112 yards and an interception. The Giants pass protect much better than the Seahawks do and Eli Manning is not as likely to get Hasselbeck’d. In the Cardinals’ previous two games, they allowed a combined 750 yards and 6 TDs to Matt Schaub and Peyton Manning. David Garrard threw for 282 yards and 2 TDs against them although most of that was in garbage time. Since Eli injured his foot, his numbers have slumped, but both of their last two games have been blowouts and he didn’t play the full game. Manning should rebound in this game statistically. Interesting stat for Manning: Despite losing Plaxico Burress as his primary downfield threat, Eli is averaging 1.6 yards per attempt more than in any other season of his career. Steve Smith, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks are a handful for defenses and Manning is doing a great job of spreading the football around to all of them.

QB Eli Manning - NYG (vs DEN)

In the last four years, Eli Manning has thrown at least two TD passes in 7 of his last 9 games against the Cowboys, and in 3 of his last 4 games played in Dallas. In those four games, Manning is averaging 261 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT per game. Manning is currently QB9 year to date, but he faces a Cowboys pass defense that is slightly below average as a matchup as QBs, who are averaging a modest 196 yards, 1.4 TDs and 0.4 INTs per game against them. The Cowboys held Brett Favre to just 118 yards and a TD last week and Donovan McNabb to 171 yards and no TDs in Week 1. Manning is no sure thing and you may want to look elsewhere if you have a suitable alternative. The Cowboys are backed against the proverbial wall and you can expect that they will give Manning their “A” game this week.

QB Kyle Orton - FA ( FA)

Orton has been a pleasant surprise for Bears fans and those owners who took a flier on him late in fantasy drafts this year. The former Boilermaker star QB has produced four solid starts in a row (for fantasy purposes) – 268/2/2, 199/3/2, 334/2/0 and 286/1/0. So, even though the Vikings defense is among the better groups in the league, opponents opt to attack them with their passing game rather than try to penetrate the wall that is their defensive line. Expect the Bears to follow suit. The Vikings have allowed opposing QBs an average of 226 yds, 0.7 TDs and 0.7 INTs per game, which means they are slightly below average as a matchup. That didn’t stop Orton from producing against tougher pass defenses like Philadelphia or Tampa Bay though.

QB Carson Palmer - ARI (vs TEN)

All four of the last quarterbacks to face the Bears have produced 16 or more fantasy points (using standard FBG scoring). Matt Ryan (185-2-2), Matthew Stafford (296-1-1), Seneca Wallace (261-1-1) and Ben Roethlisberger (221-1-1) were all solid, but unspectacular against the Bears. For his part, Palmer has been the same – solid, but unspectacular. He comes into this week’s game as the 14th ranked fantasy QB, but he appears to be gaining some momentum with 230-2-1, 271-1-1 and 259-1-1 in his last 3 games. Other than two tough matchups against the Broncos and Steelers, Palmer has produced 16 or more fantasy points in the other four games he played. The Bears aren’t a pushover defensively, despite the mounting injuries at linebacker, but Cedric Benson will be plenty motivated facing the team that cut him and that should give Palmer the balance needed to make plays downfield in the passing game.

QB Chad Pennington - MIA (vs KC)

Peter King reported on Sunday night that Pennington would get one more start to “save his job” from Kellen Clemens. Pennington’s weak arm has been a problem this year and he’s been more prone to turnovers and poor decisions this year to further erode his job security. In five starts, Pennington has thrown for 128 yards or less twice and 225 yards or more twice. Unfortunately, in those two “good” games he threw a combined 2 TDs and 5 INTs. In the first two weeks he produced a total of 291 yards and threw for 4 TDs without an INT. Since then, he has 2 TDs and 6 INTs. Ouch. The good thing to report here is that if Pennington has one game to “save his job” then at least he has a great matchup against the Bengals defense that could help his cause. The Bengals have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to QBs – 259 yds, 2.6 TDs and 1.2 INTs per game. Last week, Damon Huard completed 25 of 35 for 264 yards, 2 TDs and no picks against the Bengals. Pennington is risky, but if he’s got any juice left we’ll find out this week.

QB Jake Plummer - FA ( FA)

Plummer has an outstanding matchup this week against the Giants. NY has allowed 327 yds/gm and 1.4 TDs/gm to opposing QBs with a 65% completion rate. Plummer used to struggle on the road in the past, so this could be a tricky situation for him, but the Giants have been scoring a lot of points at home this year. That means the Broncos will probably need to throw the ball a bit more than they usually do, helping Plummer’s chances. In the last two weeks, the Giants allowed 442 yards and 2 TDs to Marc Bulger (along with 3 INTs though) and 312 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT to Drew Bledsoe. Aaron Brooks even threw for 375 yards, a TD (and 3 INTs). In week one, Kurt Warner has 264 yards, 1 TD and 1 INTs. Plummer could easily “break out” this week for 250+ yards and a couple TDs, but you get the feeling he’ll throw a pick or two along the way.

QB Jake Plummer - FA ( FA)

The Browns aren’t ranked among the best matchups, statistically speaking, for QBs (206 yds, 1.2 TDs and 0.8 INTS per game), but those stats are padded having played the Raiders, who produced an abysmal 68 yards against them in week four. As a better comparison, consider that Steve McNair threw for 264 yards and 1 TD against them in week three. Carson Palmer threw for 352 yards with two TDs (and 2 INTs) in week two. Plummer hasn’t exactly been a model of productivity himself. Don’t expect a lot here, but he should be able to produce at least as many stats as Drew Brees (176 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) in week one and Jake Delhomme (170 yards, 1 TD) in week five.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

QB Kyle Boller - OAK (vs BUF)

Boller is expected to start for the Ravens this week in place of the ailing Steve McNair. He likely won’t have TE Todd Heap in the lineup either. Regardless, the matchup looks enticing even for those of you (like me) who have never been thrilled about Boller as a QB. The Bills are allowing an average of 291 yards, 1.8 TDs and 1.8 INTs per game. Boller has appeared in four different games this year already and he’s completed 63% of his passes (51-of-81) for 471 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Make no mistake, Boller is not a strong play, but he’s worth consideration if you have McNair as a backup and your starter is any number of injured QBs like Vince Young or Kurt Warner (Matt Leinart) or your starter is on the bye. The worst production for a QB in five games against Buffalo was Ben Roethlisberger in week 2 with 21-of-34 for 242 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. All four of the other QBs (Cutler, Brady, Pennington and Romo) threw for 290 or more yards with a least 1 TD. Granted, Romo threw 5 INTs, but that happens about once every blue moon.

QB Sam Bradford - MIN (vs GB)

Bradford is proving to be a fairly reliable, if not consistent quarterback as a rookie despite having little experience within his receiving corp. He is averaging over 200 yards per game with at least 1 TD in 5 of his starts, but true to form as a rookie, he has thrown at least one interception in 5 of his 6 starts, too. This week, Bradford faces a Bucs defense that is allowing 2 TDs per game and 214 yards per game, but here is a statistical oddity for you. They’ve intercepted the most passes (10) while having the fewest number of sacks (4) in the league. Bradford looks like a solid bet for another 200 to 250 yards this week with 1 or 2 TDs, and perhaps the same number of interceptions, unfortunately.

QB Matt Cassel - TEN (at ARI)

Cassel and the Patriots didn’t look very good against the Chargers on Sunday night, but he still threw for 203 yards and ran for another 29 yards, despite throwing 1 INT. This week he faces another soft fantasy matchup for QBs, except this time he’ll be playing back in New England against a Broncos defense allowing 266 yds (2nd most), 1.5 TDs and 0.3 INTs per game. Cassel remains a gamble from week to week, but he stands a pretty good chance of throwing for 200+ yards and at least 1 TD this week considering the Broncos have no pass rush.

QB Matt Cassel - TEN (at ARI)

Cassel hasn’t done anything special this year as a fantasy quarterback. In fact, he has not averaged better than 6.2 yards per attempt in a single game. Yet he has thrown just two interceptions and he has managed to throw 2 touchdowns in three of his last four games despite having a dismal group of receivers to work with beyond Dwayne Bowe. He’s also averaging just over 20 yards per game rushing to boost his fantasy value slightly. He’ll face a Chargers defense with one less day to rest and prepare for a road game against the Chiefs. In their last two games, they’ve allowed Kyle Orton to complete 20-of-29 for 229 yards and two touchdowns (no INTs), and Ben Roethlisberger to complete 26-of-33 for 333 yards, 2 TDs and also no interceptions. The front office showed their displeasure with their defensive performance by releasing starting safety Clinton Hart prior to last week’s game. The Chiefs line isn’t very good, so the Chargers could mount a better pass rush than they have in previous games, but Cassel could also make them pay with his scrambling ability, too. If you need to reach for Cassel this week, don’t feel too bad. He’s a viable sleeper and the Chiefs may be able to generate something on the ground to give him a better than average chance of being useful.

QB Trent Dilfer - FA ( FA)

In Dilfer’s two home starts this year he’s thrown for 278 yards and a TD against the Bengals and 218 yards and 2 TDs against the Bears. Unfortunately, he’s thrown two interceptions in each game, too. The Lions have played two road games and allowed 302 yards, 2 TDs and 3 INTs to the Bucs’ Brian Griese in week 4 and 161 yards and a TD to Kyle Orton. On the season, the Lions have allowed 8 passing TDs and 235 yards per game with 10 interceptions and a 59.8% completion rate. If you don’t get negative points for interceptions, then Dilfer might be worth a shot. There is risk involved. He could be benched in favor of rookie Charlie Frye if he starts off on the wrong foot. HC Romeo Crennel said he would re-evaluate all starting positions this week.

QB Brett Favre - FA ( FA)

You might also consider Brett Favre, if not for nostalgic reasons, as the Vikings go to Lambeau, but the eyes don’t lie and Favre has done little to suggest that he’s worth starting in most leagues. The good news is that his elbow may have “settled down” this week, after flaring up in recent games causing him to throw some wildly inaccurate passes. In other words, he was morphing into Carson Palmer. Also in the good news department, Green Bay has struggled against the other team’s top receivers lately. Calvin Johnson, Santana Moss and Brandon Marshall had huge games against them in the last three weeks. If Favre can right the ship and get the ball to Randy Moss, then anything is possible. Chad Henne managed 231 yards, 2 TDs and an interception last week, while Donovan McNabb (357-1-1) and Shaun Hill (331-2-2) produced excellent numbers in against the Packers in the two games prior. Having seen too many chapters in the Brett Favre saga already, would a stellar performance on Sunday Night Football, complete with drama and story lines galore really be much of a surprise?

QB Jeff Garcia - HOU (vs IND)

It’s still a bit too early to tell whether Garcia or Griese will be the team’s starting QB this week, but our gut instinct says it will be Garcia. Just be sure to stay on top of the situation if you intend to use either of the Bucs QBs this week against the Seahawks soft pass defense that has allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season. The Seahawks are making the long trek cross country to Tampa Bay, which isn’t a good sign for them considering how they’ve played in New York and Buffalo this year (and Matt Hasselbeck will not be playing either). The Seahawks are allowing an average of 240 yds, 1.6 TDs and 0.2 INTs per game to opposing QBs.

QB Joey Harrington - FA ( FA)

It looks like a safe bet that Joey Harrington will start for the Dolphins when they play host to the Green Bay Packers this week. Green Bay is the 2nd best matchup for opposing QBs allowing 293 yds, 1.8 TDs and 0.6 INTs per game. All of the starting QBs that have played the Packers have thrown for 220 or more yards and all but one tossed 2 TDs. Harrington wasn’t particularly impressive last week and it’s hard to get behind the guy for fantasy purposes, but he did throw for 266 yards with a TD and 2 INTs. In two starts this year, Harrington has just 1 TD and 4 INTs with 498 yards. If your league penalizes you for INTs thrown, then Harrington is more of a risk. If not, he’s actually a decent reach.

QB Matt Hasselbeck - FA ( FA)

In the past few seasons, Matt Hasselbeck’s record against the Cardinals is a mixed bag, but this year he should be able to put up some decent numbers. He enjoyed solid pass protection last week with the return of rookie blind side protector and first round pick Russell Okung to the lineup. Marshawn Lynch gives them a physical presence in the backfield that they previous lacked. Finally, the Cardinals defense hasn’t held any of the five quarterbacks that they’ve faced to less than 225 yards and a TD. They’ve managed to picked off seven passes in five games, so Hasselbeck will probably make at least one mistake, but his upside makes him a solid reach this week in most leagues.

QB Shaun Hill - MIN (vs GB)

The Texans defense isn’t a great matchup for opposing QBs, but they definitely aren’t below average either. Every quarterback to face them this year has thrown for 214 yards or more with one exception. You guessed it – JaMarcus Russell. They’ve allowed six passing touchdowns and one rushing against only three interceptions. Meanwhile, Hill and the 49ers finally get their chance to show off their new toy. WR Michael Crabtree finally signed and he spent the bye week working with the team to get up to speed. Having Crabtree in the lineup certainly can’t hurt Hill’s chances to produce this week, but let’s not get carried away either. Hill has exactly one game of 200+ passing yards this year and that was back in the season opener against Arizona. Where Hill isn’t explosive or pretty to watch, he is at least winning games and not turning the ball over (just two INTs). Against an explosive Texans offense, on the road, the 49ers may need to get away from their disciplined run heavy offensive philosophy and threw a little more often than usual. Hill could put up his second 200-yard game this year and find the end zone once or twice to boot.

QB Kelly Holcomb - FA ( FA)

The Raiders are allowing 256.8 passing yards/gm to opposing teams with 1.2 TDs and 0.4 interceptions per game and a completion rate of 59%. The Raiders only have 8 sacks in five games, too. In the last three weeks, the passing yards they’ve allowed are on a downward trend. This might be partially due to improved play, or perhaps, because of the team’s they’ve played, though that doesn’t appear to be the case. After Donovan McNabb lit them up for 365 yards, 2 TDs and an INT, Drew Bledsoe completed just 11-of-26 for 212 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Last week, Drew Brees completed 14-of-20 for 164 yards with 1 TD. The Bills and Kelly Holcomb are not who you want to rely upon for fantasy points most weeks, but they might be semi-productive this week though there’s a distinct amount of risk involved playing across the country against a wounded Raiders team that appears to be backed in a corner.

QB J.P. Losman - MIA (vs KC)

The Patriots defense is allowing 241 passing yds, 0.8 TDs and 0.6 INTs per game to opposing QBs. J.P. Losman is obviously a major reach. He threw for 164 yards with no TDs, but no INTs either, in New England to open the season. He might produce 200 yards and a TD or two, but let’s not overextend ourselves. Losman is not a guy to excited about – even in this matchup.

QB Vinny Testaverde - CAR ( FA)

The Falcons are allowing 245 passing yds/gm, a 62.7% completion rate with 1.5 TDs and 1 INT per game. Of particular concern for Testaverde this week is the Falcons’ pass rush – 2nd in the league with 20 sacks. Testaverde has never been very mobile and he’s certainly not too nimble now in his 40s. It doesn’t help losing Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae either knowing that Pro Bowl DT Rod Coleman is licking his chops at this matchup. On a positive note, the last three QBs that Atlanta faced have thrown for 250 yds or more with a combined 6 TDs and 4 INTs. Actually, save for the Bills, EVERY quarterback that faced the Falcons has thrown for 250+ yards with at least one TD. Make of that what you want, but the list includes McNabb, Hasselbeck, Culpepper, Brady and Brooks. Testaverde probably isn’t as productive as any of those guys, but he’s a far cry from J.P. Losman. He may not make it to 250 yards, but he should throw for at least 1 TD and over 200 yards.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

QB Gus Frerotte - FA ( FA)

Frerotte performed well enough against the Lions last week with 296 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT and this week he faces a Bears defense that has allowed 254 yds, 0.8 TDs and 1 INT per game. The Bears secondary is reeling with injuries though. They activated Zachary Bowman from the practice squad and just about every one of their corners, save for Corey Graham, was either already injured or got hurt in last week’s game.

QB Max Hall - ARI (vs TEN)

Max Hall won over his teammates in their last game despite fumbling the ball after taking a hit near the goal line. Hall showed toughness, leadership and poise despite being the first undrafted rookie to start an NFL regular season game that early into the season. This week, Hall may benefit from the return of Steve Breaston (check his status to be sure), but he will be on the road against an opportunistic Seahawks defense that has allowed just 6 TDs, but intercepted 5 passes and registered 17 sacks. It won’t be easy for Hall, making his first NFL start away from home, but the upside is that all five quarterbacks to play Seattle have thrown for 225 or more yards and three of them threw for two TDs. Despite Hall’s lack of experience, he was able to develop a quick rhythm with Larry Fitzgerald, immediately making him better than Derek Anderson is. He’s still a huge reach, but he might prove valuable as the QB2 in leagues where you start two QBs.

QB Chad Henne - JAX ( FA)

Not a great matchup here, but Henne will have the benefit of playing at home as he did two weeks ago on Monday Night against a good Jets defense. Henne also benefits from one of the league’s best running attacks and a Wildcat offense that keeps defenses on their toes. Henne looked pretty solid against the Jets, but the Saints defense is even better. Henne isn’t asked to do too much as a young quarterback, which limits his fantasy potential, but also shields him from being overexposed. The Dolphins are one of the best running teams in the league, if not the best, which helps keep defenses honest. Henne has completed 66% of his passes so far with 3 TDs and only one interception. Don’t expect that type of production to last. The Saints are one of the best defenses in the league this season and they are opportunistic with turnovers. Henne will probably need to throw the ball 25 to 30 times this week and he could produce 200 yards and a TD or two, but he’s just as likely to turn it over a couple of times. With six teams on the bye this week, it’s conceivable that Henne could be started in deeper leagues or those that require two QBs. In those scenarios, Henne might be a suitable QB2. Otherwise, keep him on the bench, or consider Mark Sanchez against the Raiders.

QB Byron Leftwich - PIT (at CIN)

Joey Harrington was treading on thin ice for the past couple of weeks, and as of Wednesday, ESPN reported that Falcons HC Bobby Petrino is making the switch this week to Byron Leftwich for Sunday’s game against New Orleans. The Saints provide a fairly soft matchup in that they’ve allowed the 5th most fantasy points to QBs – 248 yards, 2 TDs and 0.6 INTs per game. Matt Hasselbeck was productive against them last week despite missing both of his starting WRs. He threw for 362 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. Four of the five QBs to face the Saints have thrown for 2 TDs or more and none of them have thrown for more INTs than TDs. While Leftwich is not Harrington, for comparison’s sake, Harrington threw for 199 yards or more in 5 of his 6 games started with the low point coming in week 5 against Tennessee (16/31-87-0-1). Leftwich probably has less downside than Harrington simply because Petrino just made the switch to him. If Harrington had started and came out of the gate slowly, he would’ve been yanked for Leftwich. As long as Leftwich stays healthy, he should be able to put together something statistically and could prove to be semi-useful during the bye weeks.

QB Carson Palmer - ARI (vs TEN)

Palmer’s arm may be shot, but he has still been able to throw for 300+ yards in two of their three road games this season – both of which were losses. The Bengals go to Atlanta this week facing a pass defense allowing 253 yards and 1.3 TDs per game. They’re also likely to be without top corner Dunta Robinson, who suffered a concussion last week after laying a kill shot on the Eagles DeSean Jackson. The Falcons defense is solid with 11 INTs, but opposing QBs are completing 68.5% of their passes against them for a healthy 7.7 YPA. It’s risky business trusting Palmer and his arm at this point, but he has still managed to throw for 200+ yards and 2 TDs in three of his five games.


Running Back

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

RB Chris Brown - FA ( FA)

With Travis Henry serving his last game of a 4-game suspension, Brown is looking for another strong performance to strengthen his hold on the starting RB job when Henry returns. He faces a Cardinals run defense ranked 5th in most fantasy points allowed – 107 rushing yds, 1.6 TDs, 3 receptions and 29 yds per game. The Cardinals have allowed the most rushing TDs allowed in the NFL. Kevan Barlow is the only starter not to rush for a TD against Arizona. Tiki Barber, Steven Jackson and Shaun Alexander all combined for over 100 yards (Alexander ran for 140 yds with 4 TDs) while the Panthers duo of Stephen Davis (46 rushing yds, 1 TD) and DeShaun Foster (89 yds combined) were also productive. Brown should once again get the bulk of the workload this week, baring hangnail, so look for another strong outing.

RB DeShaun Foster - FA ( FA)

DeShaun Foster needs a big game and this might be the matchup for it to happen for him. The Bengals are allowing 113 yds/gm to opposing RBs on the ground and 50 yds through the air along with 1.2 TDs/gm. Last week, Cadillac Williams ran for 94 yards on 19 carries (almost 5 yards a pop) and in the previous two games Laurence Maroney ran for 125 yards and 2 TDs (Dillon added 67, 1) while Willie Parker ran for 133 yds and 2 TDs (Haynes added 24 yds, too). Needless to say, this will be a telling game for Foster’s owners. He needs a big game here.

RB Ryan Grant - GB (at MIN)

Technically, Grant isn’t a sleeper at all. With that out of the way, I just couldn’t resist the urge to write about Grant’s ridiculously good matchup this week against the Browns. Already one of the worst run defenses in the league, they placed their best inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson on IR this week, which makes the matchup even juicer for Grant’s owners. Grant has been a solid, but slightly underperforming RB2 this year, but he has yet to have a breakout game, much less a 100-yard rushing game. This week that should change. With Brandon Jackson apparently in the doghouse and DeShawn Wynn close to going on IR, the Packers brought in Ahman Green for a workout on Monday. Don’t be surprised if Grant gets the lion’s share of the touches in the Packers backfield this week and continues to catch more footballs, which makes him an even better start.

RB Ahman Green - FA ( FA)

In a normal year, Ahman Green would never qualify for this column, but this isn’t a normal year and the NFC North from top to bottom is simply abysmal. The Vikings have allowed 9 runs of 20 yards or more in only five games this year and 7 TDs (2nd most in the league). Opponents are averaging a ridiculous 5 yds/carry against the Vikings with over 32 running attempts per game. Ahman Green might not be 100% yet, but he should easily be healthy enough to rip off a few nice runs and produce his first strong fantasy showing of the 2005 season coming off their bye in week 6. The Vikings have allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing RBs, the 4th most rushing yards and 1.2 TDs per game to RBs.

RB Edgerrin James - FA ( FA)

Edge has been a disappointment in the desert, but it’s not all his fault. This week, maybe he can provide a spark for those teams who burned a first round pick on him. The Raiders are the 2nd best matchup for opposing RBs allowing 130 yds on the ground per game, 39 yds thru the air and a combined 1 TD per game. Three of the five starting RBs who have faced them ran for 100+ yards. Edge needs touches to be effective and the Raiders are allowing more rushing attempts per game than any team in the league (32.8 to RBs alone).

RB Kevin Jones - FA ( FA)

Maybe this is the week that Kevin Jones owners will be rewarded for their eternal patience. The Browns have allowed the 5th most fantasy points to RBs – 131 rushing yards, 6.2 receptions, 42 receiving yards and 1 TD per game. They’ve allowed the 4th most rushing yards (per game) in the NFL. Another bonus for Jones is the expected debut of fullback Corey Schlesinger this week. The Browns have allowed at least one RB each week 100 combined yards except for Ahman Green and his 99 yards in week 2. Watch out for Shawn Bryson or Schlesinger to snake a TD away from Jones in the red zone. Jeremi Johnson, Tony Fisher and Marc Edwards all caught TD passes against Cleveland. Rudi Johnson, Edgerrin James and Thomas Jones each ran for 100+ yards against them. Statistically, Jones has a better than 60% chance of going for 100 yards and slightly less than 50% chance of scoring a TD. This is the week for Jones to start turning things around and making a strong finish like he did in his rookie year. Cross your fingers.

RB Kevin Jones - FA ( FA)

This looks like the week that Kevin Jones will officially be declared as “back”. The Lions are coming off their bye week and Jones was already increasing his game reps and rounding into shape prior to the bye. The Lions face a Bucs team that is allowing the fourth most fantasy points to opposing RBs this year – 29-110-0.8 rushing and 6-44-0.3 receiving. Jones could do damage as both a runner and a receiver in the Lions wide open Mike Martz offense. He’s also a solid threat to find the end zone since the Lions best alternative is Tatum Bell (who recently voiced his desired to be traded or played). Such antics won’t win Bell any favors with the Lions coaching staff and it can only bode well for Jones.

RB Thomas Jones - KC (at MIA)

Between last week’s game against the Bills and this week’s game against the Raiders, Jones’ owners must be pinching themselves. The Raiders are among the best matchups for opposing RBs allowing an average of 30 carries, 132 yards and 1 TD per game, not to mention six receptions and 54 yards per game receiving. After a semi-slow start, Jones has come on strong with 4 TDs in the last three games, not to mention his huge 210 yard rushing effort against the Bills. Look for the Jets to continue riding him this week against the Raiders as they try to shield rookie Mark Sanchez from throwing more interceptions. The Raiders defense did play well last week against the Eagles, but Brian Westbrook still managed 141 combined yards on just 15 touches.

RB Marshawn Lynch - FA ( FA)

Now that Lynch has a couple games under his belt, look for him to breakout against a soft Panthers run defense allowing 119 yards and 0.8 TDs per game to opposing RBs. Last week, Cadillac Williams had a solid outing with 77 yards on 16 carries with a TD against them. Clinton Portis produced 74 yards and 2 TDs two weeks ago against the Panthers. The thing to be leery of with Lynch this week is whether Trent Edwards is able to play or not. If Ryan Fitzpatrick is behind center, the Panthers defense can cheat against the run since Fitzpatrick is seemingly incapable of throwing the ball downfield. If it’s possible, he’s even worse than Edwards at stretching the field. The good news is that he can throw dump off passes as well as Edwards, which is Lynch’s specialty. So, either way, Lynch should be productive as a runner or receiver and he’s a decent bet to get into the end zone, too.

RB Marshawn Lynch - FA ( FA)

Beastmode is about to be seen in Seattle for the first time. Lynch made his debut last week rushing 17 times for 44 yards and a TD. The numbers are not impressive, but the Bears have been tough to run on this year and he still managed double digits for fantasy owners. This week, at home, against a Cardinals defense allowing 138 rushing yards and a TD per game to opposing backs, Lynch is sure to go Beastmode at least a couple of times. The Cardinals have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to RBs. Ladell Betts combined for 70 yards and Jason Snelling produced 186 yards and 3 TDs after replacing Michael Turner after he ran for 75 yards in Week 2.

RB Laurence Maroney - FA ( FA)

This looks like the week we’ll finally see Maroney back on the football field. Please be sure to monitor our new blogger to be sure. Sammy Morris is out for potentially up to a month, so there is an added urgency for Maroney to be in the lineup this week. It’s just about perfect timing, too. The Dolphins are allowing a league high 33 rush attempts per game to opposing RBs for an average of 145 yds/gm. Maroney will probably be spelled by Kevin Faulk and even Kyle Eckel, but if he can tote the rock 20 times, he’ll probably rebound in a hurry with around 100 yards and a probable TD.

RB Darren McFadden - DAL (at SEA)

The only thing holding back Darren McFadden right now is Darren McFadden’s hamstring. He was close to returning in Week 6, but said “It wasn't all the way ready, so there was no reason to risk it.”. As long as McFadden is able to “risk” it this week, he should resume being a low RB1, high RB2, albeit with a bit more risk not knowing for sure if HC Tom Cable will reinsert him as the feature back, or if he will give Michael Bush a healthy number of carries, too. The Raiders have shown no inclination toward a committee approach yet this year, but they haven’t had two healthy backs this year either. Keep an eye on McFadden’s status. If he can let it go in practice, he should be ready to go. If not, or if he’s inactive, then Michael Bush continues to be a low-end RB2 option against the Broncos. Denver did a solid job against the Jets ground game last week, but on the season, they’re allowing 128 yards per game and they’re tied for the league lead with 7 rushing TDs allowed.

RB Dominic Rhodes - IND (at HOU)

Joseph Addai is expected to miss the next 2 to 4 weeks with his hamstring injury meaning that Dominic Rhodes will get the start this week against the Packers, who are allowing 26/130/0.8 and 4/25/0 receiving per game to RBs. Rhodes only managed 73 yards on 25 carries against the Ravens stout run defense, though he was able to bang in a TD. This week, the going should be much better and Rhodes should produce around 80 to 100 total yards again, if not slightly more, and he has a better than average chance of getting into the end zone again. The starting RB against the Packers has run for 100 yards or more in four of their six games.

RB Steve Slaton - FA ( FA)

Last week, Slaton was slowed down by the Dolphins defense after rolling for 124, 116 and 96 combined yards in the three previous games and finding the end zone 4 times in those game. This week, Slaton has an excellent chance to bounce right back with another 100+ yard, 1+ TD performance against the Lions run defense that is allowing 30/153/1.2 and 4/26/0.2 to opposing RBs. There are signs to be wary of though – Ahman Green has actually looked decent in the past couple of games after returning from injury and the Lions, believe it or not, actually did a better than expected job of slowing down the Vikings and Adrian Peterson on the ground last week. Peterson wound up with 111 rushing yards, but he didn’t find the end zone. We’ll take the risk. Slaton should be fine and Ahman isn’t a bad reach as a flex option in deeper leagues either.

RB Fred Taylor - NE ( FA)

If you own Fred Taylor, then you’ve probably had this game circled on your schedule since the beginning of the season (hoping Fred stays healthy long enough to cash in). The Texans are the #1 matchup for RBs allowing 139 rushing yards and 59 receiving yards per game with 1.6 TDs/game. In Taylor’s last game against Houston (2005, week 16) he ran for 101 yards, caught an 11-yard pass and scored a TD.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

RB Jerome Bettis - FA ( FA)

It wasn’t long ago when Jerome Bettis feasted on playing the Bengals twice a year. It’s hard to predict whether the Bus will carry the ball 10+ times this week or only a handful of times. With Ben Roethlisberger expected to start, look for Cowher to keep things close to his chest. The Steelers should be able to run the ball effectively against a Bengals run defense allowing 4.9 yds/carry and 117.2 yds/gm with 4 TDs. Bettis has run for a TD in five of his last six games against the Bengals. A year ago, Bettis ran for 129 yards on 29 carries in Cincinnati, while rushing for 2 TDs on 6 carries with 9 yards in Pittsburgh. The nice thing about gambling on Bettis is that he’s capable of scoring 1 or 2 TDs despite only carrying the ball less than 10 times. After being a spectator last week (Bettis’ words), look for him to be more involved knowing how much he’s feasted on the Bengals in the past. Bill Cowher even accepted blame for not getting Bettis more involved in last week’s loss to the Jaguars. The bottom line is Bettis will be getting the rock more this week. Count on it.

RB Corey Dillon - FA ( FA)

The Bills are allowing 110 rushing yds/gm and 49 receiving yds/gm to opposing RBs with 1 TD/gm. Laurence Maroney is now the stud in the Patriots backfield, but Dillon is still a viable fantasy option, too. He’s rushed for 73, 80, 16, 67 and 45 yards this year with 2 TDs. This is a slightly better than average matchup (Bills are 9th in Pts allowed to RBs) so expect a solid outing from Dillon. In the season opener, Dillon combined for 95 yards against the Bills.

RB Reuben Droughns - FA ( FA)

The Lions run defense seems to be a bit more vulnerable on the road. Overall, they rank 13th in fantasy points allowed. Opposing RBs are averaging 98.8 rushing yds, 0.8 TDs, 7 receptions and 57.4 receiving yards per game. Thomas Jones is the only back to go for 100 yards on the ground against them, but Michael Pittman combined for 126 yards and a TD. Jamal Lewis combined for 112 yards and a TD. Droughns is a solid bet to combine for at least 80 yards this week with about a 50% chance of finding the end zone.

RB Warrick Dunn - FA ( FA)

The Seahawks have struggled badly in their first two ventures to the East. This week, they travel all the way to Tampa Bay and they’ll be without their starting QB. The Bills and Giants both enjoyed success against the Seahawks defense – Marshawn Lynch produced 94 yards and 1 TD; Brandon Jacobs 144 yards and 2 TDs. Even Ahmad Bradshaw (65 yds), Derrick Ward (50 yds) and Fred Jackson (31 yds) put up numbers in limited time on the Seahawks. Against a tougher Panthers defense last week, Dunn produced 133 yds on 25 touches (22 carries, 3 catches) while Graham moved over to FB due to injuries, but still produced 58 yards and a TD. Graham is unlikely to play FB again this week after the Bucs signed free agent Jameel Cook to man that position, but Dunn figures to get about half of the carries anyway. Both players should be more productive than usual this week.

RB Earnest Graham - TB ( FA)

The Bucs acquired Michael Bennett from the Chiefs this week to help them shore up a glaring weakness following the injuries to Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman. Earnest Graham has not been overly productive in their stead rushing for a combined 40 yards on 19 carries the last two weeks against two strong run defenses (Indy and Tennessee). He also caught 6 balls last week even though they went for just 17 yards. The gamble is whether the Bucs will insert Bennett into the mix this week or ride Graham as much as possible until Bennett is more comfortable in the offense. The Lions are the #1 matchup for RBs in terms of fantasy points allowed. The Bucs like throwing the ball to their backs, so look for Graham to be especially productive in that area since the Lions are allowing an average of 8-86-0 to RBs as receivers. As runners, opposing RBs are averaging 25-110-1.2 against them. It would make sense for Graham to continue as the Bucs primary back this week, but it’s not a given. He still looks like a good gamble and a solid reach given the matchup and the likelihood that he’ll see 15 to 20 touches.

RB Earnest Graham - TB ( FA)

The Seahawks have struggled badly in their first two ventures to the East. This week, they travel all the way to Tampa Bay and they’ll be without their starting QB. The Bills and Giants both enjoyed success against the Seahawks defense – Marshawn Lynch produced 94 yards and 1 TD; Brandon Jacobs 144 yards and 2 TDs. Even Ahmad Bradshaw (65 yds), Derrick Ward (50 yds) and Fred Jackson (31 yds) put up numbers in limited time on the Seahawks. Against a tougher Panthers defense last week, Dunn produced 133 yds on 25 touches (22 carries, 3 catches) while Graham moved over to FB due to injuries, but still produced 58 yards and a TD. Graham is unlikely to play FB again this week after the Bucs signed free agent Jameel Cook to man that position, but Dunn figures to get about half of the carries anyway. Both players should be more productive than usual this week.

RB Ryan Grant - GB (at MIN)

The Colts defense is allowing opposing RBs an average of 32 carries, 152 yards and 1 TD per game along with 6/46/0 receiving. If that’s not enough to get Ryan Grant going, then I’m not sure what it might take. Grant has been awful this year no matter how you slice it. He’s carried the ball 106 times with no TDs and averaged only 3.4 yards/carry. He’s not running the way he did a year ago either. Most people that drafted Grant are saddled with him as a RB2/RB3 and have lost a couple of games due while hoping for more production out of their 1st or 2nd round pick. This week is the proverbial last straw. He ran for 90 yards last week on 33 carries, but didn’t look pretty doing it. The Colts can be run on, but the Packers offensive line is playing about equally as bad. Grant’s worth a roll of the dice, but clearly he’s becoming a more desperate reach with every passing week that he fails to run for 100 yards or score a TD.

RB Ahman Green - FA ( FA)

Miami is allowing 28 rushing attempts per game to opposing RBs. While the Dolphins defense is doing a good job of limiting the yards/attempt, Green has a good opportunity to run the ball this week, but what they do with that opportunity is open to debate. The Packers offensive line is slowly improving so Green might be a decent yardage play – just don’t expect any TDs as the Dolphins have been stingy in that area allowing just 1 TD to RBs in the first 5 weeks. Green is expected to start this week, but if he suffers yet another setback with a hammy, then look for Noah Herron to be productive in his stead.

RB Larry Johnson - MIA (vs KC)

After Rashard Mendenhall ran all over the Chargers defense three weeks ago, they regrouped and played reasonably well against the Broncos on Monday night. Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter managed a total of 90 rushing yards and failed to get into the end zone. They brought back DT Ian Scott to help stop the bleeding, but they also had an extra week to prepare coming out of their bye. That won’t be the case this week as they have one less day to prepare and travel considerations. Larry Johnson’s 83 yards rushing last week was his season best. Averaging barely over 50 yards per game with no TDs, Johnson has been a RB2 at best for owners in deeper leagues. He’s a risky start, but the Chargers clearly aren’t the same stout run defenders that they have been over the past couple of years. Johnson is at least worth a gamble as your RB2 or flex.

RB Thomas Jones - KC (at MIA)

While it’s clear that Jamaal Charles has emerged (finally) as the team’s best running back, Thomas Jones still has a healthy role in the Chiefs run-heavy offense. They lead the NFL in rushing with 165 yards per game and they’re also leading the league by running an average of 34 times per game. The Jaguars come to town this week and they may/may not have David Garrard behind center. Regardless, this game could get ugly, and quick. Jones has carried the ball 19 times or more in three of the team’s last four games, producing 80+ yards in all three and scoring in two of them. He has limited upside due to Charles, but he’s also got one of the higher floors among the RB2/RB3/flex range.

RB LaMont Jordan - FA ( FA)

It’s not happening for Jordan and the Raiders so far this year, but he has produced 128, 71 and 60 yards rushing in the last three games with 1 TD. His opponent, the Cardinals, ranks as the 10th best matchup for RBs allowing 89 rushing yds, 61 receiving yds and 1 TD per game.

RB Brian Leonard - FA ( FA)

Leonard will get the starting nod once again this week as Steven Jackson remains on the comeback trail with a groin injury. He’s not expected to return until after the team’s bye week. Last week, as almost everyone expected, Leonard ran into the brick wall that we call the Baltimore Ravens defense. With Gus Frerotte at QB and injuries to their WR corps, Leonard was a marked man against a super tough run defense. Two weeks ago, he produced 102 rushing yards and caught 5 balls for 33 yards against the Cardinals. The Seahawks are a more favorable matchup than Arizona, so expect Leonard to be a solid reach this week as your RB2. The Seahawks are allowing 26-113-0.7 to opposing RBs on the ground and 6-48-0 as receivers.

RB Laurence Maroney - FA ( FA)

It’s hard to put much faith in Laurence Maroney considering how often he has disappointed owners in the past. Yet he has an excellent matchup this week against a Buccaneers defense allowing the second most rushing yards per game to running backs (151), an average of almost 5 yards/carry and a TD/game. That was before they dealt their best young pass rusher, Gaines Adams. Sammy Morris left last week’s game early, but getting injury information out of the Patriots is like reading tarot cards. Even if Morris plays (which seems unlikely) Maroney figures to get more carries after he ran hard last week in the snow and seemed to earn points with Bill Belichick and staff. Last week, the Bucs allowed 110 yards rushing and a TD to Jonathan Stewart and 152 yards and 2 TDs to DeAngelo Williams.

RB Ryan Mathews - PHI (vs SD)

After suffering a rash of injuries the Chargers may be without both starting receivers and Antonio Gates this week and they could lean more heavily on their running game as a result. Luckily, Ryan Mathews is close to 100% again after serving in a limited capacity behind Mike Tolbert before resuming his role as the team’s primary back last week. Tolbert is still getting the important goalline carries, but Mathews could be the focal point of the offense this week, and Tolbert could see some extra touches, but the Patriots defense played tough against the Ravens last week and it won’t be the easiest matchup. The Patriots have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their five games. Cedric Benson has the only rushing TD, while Ricky Williams and C.J. Spiller scored as receivers. Mathews is worth a gamble as a RB2/flex option.

RB Knowshon Moreno - FA ( FA)

After missing three games (hamstring), Knowshon Moreno is back. He is clearly the team’s most talented runner and that was evident last week, but after starting the game with a 14-yar run, he fumbled the ball and then sat on the bench for the rest of the half. With a game under his belt, Moreno should quickly reestablish himself as the Broncos top dog in the backfield against a Raiders defense allowing 5.0 YPC, 141 rushing yards and 1 TD per game to opposing backs. They’ve allowed the most fantasy points to RBs, and outside of facing them again this year, he may not have a better matchup the rest of the way. Frank Gore ran for 149 yards on them last week and Arian Foster rumbled for 187 yards and 2 TDs after sitting out the first quarter. The Raiders won’t get in the way of Moreno having a strong day, but he or HC Josh McDaniels might if he fumbles again.

RB Michael Pittman - DEN (at NYG)

Pittman took on the lead role for the Broncos last week thanks to an injury that sidelined Selvin Young. Pittman ran for 109 yards and caught 3 balls for 16 yards against the Jaguars. This week, whether Young is ready or not, Pittman is expected to continue as the lead back for the Broncos against a Patriots defense that has allowed an average of 24/114/0.8 per game on the ground and 5/32/0.2 receiving to opposing RBs this year. Every starting RB to face the Patriots this year has produced a minimum of 75 total yards; though only 2 have found the end zone (Ronnie Brown 4 times and Frank Gore caught a TD pass). Pittman is the team’s preferred back at the goal line, has caught 2-3 balls in each of the last three games and he should also get the bulk of the carries for the 2nd straight week.

RB Marcel Shipp - FA ( FA)

The Titans are allowing an average of 108.3 rushing yards on 23 carries with 5.8 receptions and 43.2 receiving yards with 1 TD per game to opposing RBs. The Cardinals give up 4.5 yards per carry. Shipp hasn’t been all that productive so far. If there’s a sliver of hope the Cardinals will amount any sort of a rushing attack, then this might be the week to see a little progress in that area. One particularly interesting stat is that Willie Parker, Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James and Chris Perry all caught TD passes against Tennessee. Domanick Davis also produced 43 yards on 8 catches against them; even Jamal Lewis caught 4 balls for 32 yards. In a PPR league, that makes Shipp particularly attractive. Four of the six backs have rushed for 80 yards or more, too. Granted, the Cardinals aren’t exactly a run-first offense, but there’s a good chance they could amount a better attack this week than they’ve been able to muster this year.

RB Antowain Smith - FA ( FA)

The Rams defense is tied with Houston and Arizona for allowing the most rushing TDs in the league (8). Only three teams have allowed more first downs on rushing plays than the Rams. They’ve allowed the 10th most fantasy points. Opposing backs are averaging 23.3 rushing attempts for 104.2 yards with 1.3 TDs per game, not to mention 4.5 receptions and 32.3 yards per game. In the last three games, they’ve allowed an average of 130 rushing yds and 2 TDs per game to Tiki Barber, Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James. Granted, Antowain Smith and Aaron Stecker will split carries and neither one is as talented as those three, but there should be ample opportunity for both to gain some decent yards. Smith might have an upper hand when it comes to scoring a TD, while Stecker could do some damage as a receiver. Depending on your scoring system and league, either one might be a solid sleeper this week.

RB Aaron Stecker - FA ( FA)

The Rams defense is tied with Houston and Arizona for allowing the most rushing TDs in the league (8). Only three teams have allowed more first downs on rushing plays than the Rams. They’ve allowed the 10th most fantasy points. Opposing backs are averaging 23.3 rushing attempts for 104.2 yards with 1.3 TDs per game, not to mention 4.5 receptions and 32.3 yards per game. In the last three games, they’ve allowed an average of 130 rushing yds and 2 TDs per game to Tiki Barber, Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James. Granted, Antowain Smith and Aaron Stecker will split carries and neither one is as talented as those three, but there should be ample opportunity for both to gain some decent yards. Smith might have an upper hand when it comes to scoring a TD, while Stecker could do some damage as a receiver. Depending on your scoring system and league, either one might be a solid sleeper this week.

RB Jonathan Stewart - CAR ( FA)

Last week, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams both topped 100-yards and found the end zone. This week, the Panthers RB tandem may repeat the feat against the Bills, who coming into Week 7 have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing RBs in the league – 32 carries, 167 yards and 1.3 TDs rushing per game along with 5-39-0.2 receiving. Leon Washington produced his best game of the year with 145 combined yards, which is astounding considering that Thomas Jones produced 227 yards and a TD. If you own DeAngelo Williams, you’re looking forward to this week’s matchup. If you own Stewart, you should be as well. Despite a nagging Achilles, Stewart is averaging 5.0 ypc and almost 50 yards per game on the ground. He also has matched his production as a receiver from last year in just five games. The Panthers will undoubtedly be looking to run the ball a lot this week to keep the ball out of Jake Delhomme’s hands, and the Bills secondary. Stewart is a good bet for 15 or more carries, perhaps another 100 yard game and a touchdown in his third straight game. Start him if you own him.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

RB Donald Brown - NE ( FA)

Last week, the Rams couldn’t figure out a way to stop Maurice Jones-Drew as he ran 33 times for 133 yards and 3 TDs. He also caught five balls for 45 yards. David Garrard wasn’t so hot despite throwing for over 300 yards. He failed to throw a TD, but did manage to throw two interceptions. Donald Brown won’t have that problem as Peyton Manning will probably throw for 300 yards, but not have a problem finding the end zone or throwing interceptions. This game has blowout written all over it, even if it’s in St. Louis. The Colts will likely give Donald Brown plenty of touches, too. Two weeks ago, the Vikings Chester Taylor mopped up after Adrian Peterson for 69 yards and a YD. Brown’s biggest workload so far this season was 15 touches against the Cardinals. In a blowout win against the Seahawks, he had 10 touches for 46 yards and a TD three weeks ago. Brown’s big play ability make him even more attractive and the Rams just dealt WLB Will Witherspoon to the Eagles before the trade deadline. That won’t help their struggling run defense any, but it does improve Brown’s lot as a rock solid RB2/flex option this week.

RB Tashard Choice - FA ( FA)

Marion Barber’s quad won’t keep him from playing this week, but he also won’t be 100% for a while and neither will Felix Jones. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said this week that they plan to give the ball to Choice more often going forward as a result. Against the Falcons, we suspect that Choice will be his usual productive self and be worthy of a reach as a RB2/flex option. The Falcons run defense, despite injuries along the interior of their defensive line, have been competitive the last couple of weeks. Against the massive Cowboys offensive line, we like Choice’s opportunity even if Barber is the main back in the stable.

RB Marshall Faulk - FA ( FA)

In four of the Saints’ six games a backup RB on the opposing team had what we might dub a reasonably good day from the perspective of scoring fantasy points. DeShaun Foster produced 56 combined yards. Brandon Jacobs ran for just 5 yards, but crossed the goal line. Tony Fisher combined for 59 yards and the Falcons FB Justin Griffith had 15 yards with a TD reception. Maybe those stats are a bit fluky to generate enough confidence to pencil Faulk into your lineup, but know this much, the Rams have allowed a RB either 100 yards or a TD in every game this year. Faulk is still used semi-frequently in the red zone as a receiver and on draw plays. Obviously, Steven Jackson is a fantastic start this week, but Faulk could get some love, too.

RB Tony Fisher - FA ( FA)

The Vikings have allowed 9 runs of 20 yards or more in only five games this year and 7 TDs (2nd most in the league). Opponents are averaging a ridiculous 5 yds/carry against the Vikings with over 32 running attempts per game. The Vikings have allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing RBs, the 4th most rushing yards and 1.2 TDs per game to RBs. Ahman Green still isn’t 100% and the Packers frequently spell him on third down situations and even occasionally in the red zone. That’s where Tony Fisher factors into the equation. Knowing how soft the Vikings run defense has been so far, Fisher could easily be a factor as Green’s primary backup, especially if Culpepper continues to make bad decisions setting up the Packers with great field position.

RB Justin Forsett - DET (at CLE)

The Cardinals have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to RBs. Ladell Betts combined for 70 yards in Week 5 against Arizona. Ryan Mathews totaled 68 yards and a TD on 10 touches while playing behind Mike Tolbert (103 yds, 1 TD) In Week 4. Jason Snelling produced 186 yards and 3 TDs after replacing Michael Turner after he ran for 75 yards in Week 2. Marshawn Lynch should get about two-thirds of the carries going forward, but in a matchup like this, Forsett is definitely worth a flyer in deeper leagues as a flex option. He’s much more effective in his reduced role and last week they both found the end zone against a tougher Bears defense. This week it could happen again.

RB Chris Ivory - JAX ( FA)

Chris Ivory performed so well last week that the Saints coaches have said they will find a role for him even after Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush return from injuries. If Ivory makes progress as a blocker, the sky is the limit. His speed and playmaking ability stood out in the preseason and it showed up again last week as he produced 175 yards on only 16 touches. The Saints should be able to handle a pesky Browns team at home that may be starting Colt McCoy for the second week in a row. There is no guarantee that Ivory will get all of the touches this week; Ladell Betts got some garbage time carries and Julius Jones also got some looks last week. But at least Ivory showed himself to be the best healthy runner on the team and this week he could get even more opportunity to showcase his wares before Bush and Thomas return.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew - FA ( FA)

The Texans are the #1 matchup for RBs allowing 139 rushing yards and 59 receiving yards per game with 1.6 TDs/game. Fred Taylor will get some love this week, but there should be enough such that Jones-Drew can get in on the fun, too. Interestingly, the Texans have allowed the 4th most rushing TDs and the 3rd most receiving yards to RBs. Those numbers play right into Jones-Drew’s strengths and his role within the Jaguars backfield.

RB Mewelde Moore - IND (at HOU)

With the most recent news on Willie Parker being not-so-favorable, Mewelde Moore all of a sudden is looking like a heckuva nice start this week at home against the Bungles. Parker re-aggravated his sprained MCL after he stepped in a hole on the practice field earlier this week. If he’s unable to go, Moore shoots right back up this list from being a “solid reach” to being a “prime cut” sleeper. Cincinnati is allowing 33/137/1 and 5/33/0.2 per game to opposing RBs this year. Moore filled in nicely for FWP in their last game against a Jags defense that is better against the run than the Bengals. In that game, Moore ran for 99 yards on 17 carries and caught 3 balls for another 17 yards. If Parker is sidelined once again this week, Moore figures to match or better the numbers he produced two weeks ago.

RB Sammy Morris - FA ( FA)

Morris combined for 75 yards and a TD against the Chargers last week while Laurence Maroney and LaMont Jordan were inactive. Morris appears to be taking the lead role, though it’s unclear yet whether Maroney or Jordan will be active this week against the Broncos. Either way, Morris is a decent bet to get another 10 to 15 touches against a defense that has allowed 25/134/1.2 per game rushing and 9/66/0.3 per game receiving. Kevin Faulk is worth a reach as well; especially if Maroney and/or Jordan are inactive, but Morris figures to be the most productive and the better overall bet to find the end zone.

RB Jerious Norwood - STL (vs NO)

The Saints are not a particular good matchup for RBs this year despite their defensive struggles. RBs are averaging 26-96-0.8 and 3-25-0 against them. The key for Norwood is about opportunity. He’s yet to carry the ball 10 times or more in a game this year, so it’s a major reach to expect much more than 50 or 60 yards and, if you’re lucky, a TD each week. Then again, last week he came up large with 87 rushing yards, a TD and 4 receptions for 51 yards. Norwood’s speed and burst to the outside make him a big play threat, but he’s going to be hit and miss until his opportunity grows through a larger role in the offense. Right now, he’s mired behind Warrick Dunn, but that could evolve going forward after his explosive outburst last week.

RB Chris Perry - FA ( FA)

The Steelers have allowed 51.6 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs – fourth most in the league. In the last four games, Domanick Davis produced 33 receiving yards and a TD, Kevin Faulk 71 receiving yards; Tomlinson had 68 receiving yards and Alvin Pearman 35 yards. Perry is starting to encroach on Rudi Johnson’s stature as the Bengals feature back. He’s not going to take his job, but he’s almost on equal footing in terms of playing time and opportunities. Last week, he stayed on the field in the red zone scoring his first TD – even though he’s had 2 others called back so far this year. Don’t be surprised if the Steelers stout run defense plugs the running lanes limiting Rudi’s effectiveness leading to more playing time for Perry. The Bengals haven’t been in a “catch up” mode this year, but if they do get in that situation, then Perry stands to gain a lot of playing time and fantasy stats in the process. This is a unique matchup where the Steelers strong run defense might actually setup an opposing RBs to be more successful.

RB Derrick Ward - HOU (vs IND)

Ward was on the cusp of being a disappointment last week as Brandon Jacobs handled most of the carries for the Giants and Ward produced very little. All that changed at the end of the game when Ward busted loose for a TD as he finished with just 12 yds rushing and two catches for 16 yards. Ward likely won’t see more than 8 or 10 carries again this week and the matchup isn’t particularly better on paper against San Francisco than it was last week against Atlanta. The 49ers are allowing 5-40-0 per game to RBs as receivers, which is one area where Ward has been productive and he’s used more frequently than Jacobs. The 49ers offense has been sputtering along, so there’s a good chance the Giants could get an early lead and run the ball more than usual. The 49ers are allowing 29 rushing attempts per game to RBs, so Ward’s opportunity just might be worthwhile if you need him as a RB2 or flex starter this week.

RB Leon Washington - FA ( FA)

Washington is getting more work each week, but he’s still not the starter. Kevan Barlow could be a decent reach this week now that Shaun Rogers is suspended and Shaun Cody is injured. Washington figures to benefit as well. However, don’t be surprised if Barlow doesn’t get as many touches as Washington does in this game. The Lions defense started out strong against the run this year, but have faded since and without Rogers and Cody, the Jets should be able to exploit them for some big plays on the ground.

RB Kenny Watson - FA ( FA)

Rudi Johnson did not practice on Wednesday, so there is still enough lingering doubt about his availability, or durability if he does play, that Watson warrants consideration as a reach in many leagues. The Jets are certainly a good matchup for RBs allowing 29-1261 on the ground and 4-32-0.3 as receivers. It’s somewhat safe to expect Watson to see around 8 to 12 rushing attempts as a baseline for around 50 to 70 yards. Even if Rudi plays, Watson will likely get some work as a receiver and add 2-3 receptions and 10 to 15 yards. If Johnson doesn’t play, then obviously Watson becomes an even better candidate for your lineup and likely to finish with at least 80+ total yards conservatively.

RB Chris Wells - ARI (vs TEN)

Coming out of their bye week, it would seem like the perfect time to unleash Beanie Wells in their backfield, especially with an inexperienced quarterback like Max Hall. The Seahawks have been solid defensively this year. They held Matt Forte in check (51 yds, 1 TD), while Steven Jackson combined for 124 yards despite being about 70% and playing hurt. Mike Tolbert totaled 90 yards, Knowshon Moreno 118 yards and a TD and Frank Gore had 83 yards in the opener. Of course, we can’t count on Wells getting the bulk of the carries. Tim Hightower won’t go away quietly, it seems, but the Cardinals have shown signs recently by giving Wells the majority of the touches in the backfield. If he is able to get 15+ carries this week, then he should be able to produce 60 to 100 yards and possibly score.

RB LenDale White - DEN (at NYG)

White was nursing a shoulder injury, but with a bye week providing extra time to rest and heal and a ridiculously good matchup on tap this week, he looks like a nice player to roll the dice on. The Chiefs are allowing 34 carries and 179 rushing yards (both league-highs) to opposing RBs each week along with 1.6 TDs/gm (3rd most). If the Titans are able to get out to an early lead, then White should get enough carries that even he could convert them into solid fantasy production at 3 yards a clip. White has a good chance to punch one or two TDs in at the goal line, too.

RB Ricky Williams - FA ( FA)

Ricky Williams and the Dolphins actually have a below average matchup this week, but if you own Ricky how can you resist the allure and nostalgia of playing Ricky against the Saints? The Dolphins have been running the ball as well as any team in the league this year. They’ve been doing it against teams with good run defenses like New Orleans and Williams has been a big part of their success. Williams has been producing consistently from week to week. He gets plenty of touches in the red zone and he remains a solid RB2/flex option despite the below average matchup on paper.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

RB Kevan Barlow - FA ( FA)

See Leon Washington. The Lions defense is vulnerable with both of their starting DTs out this week. Barlow remains the “starter” for the Jets at RB, but that’s not something you want to hang your hat on at the end of the day. At least Barlow is consistent. In five of the six Jets games, Barlow ran for 31 to 45 yards with 11 to 14 carries. He also scored 4 TDs; crossing the goal line in three of the Jets first four games. With Leon Washington working his way into a larger role, Barlow is more of a long shot, but given the matchup he just might be a decent reach after all.

RB Najeh Davenport - FA ( FA)

The Steelers have a perfect matchup for their run-heavy offense this week against a Broncos defense allowing a league high 167 rushing yds and 31 attempts per game. There’s probably enough to go around that Willie Parker will get his and Najeh Davenport will get enough carries to get his, too. As a matter of fact, in week 5 Michael Turner produced 147 yards on 10 carries with a TD compared to LT’s combined 141 yards. In week four, Kenton Keith produced 84 total yards to Joseph Addai’s 146 yards. Davenport has produced 40+ yards in four of his five games so far this year despite not carrying the rock more than 8 times in any one game. He’s also scored 3 TDs in his last three games and produced a combined 96 yards and 2 TDs in week 5 against the Seahawks.

RB Justin Fargas - FA ( FA)

Fargas is one of those few players that you may be able to pick up off your league’s waiver wire and plug right into the lineup this week depending on your level of desperation. Fargas ran hard last week against the Eagles in the second half to further endear himself to Head Coach (and resident tough guy) Tom Cable. Darren McFadden is already ruled out for this week’s game and Michael Bush has fallen behind Fargas on the depth chart. While it’s hard to stomach starting anyone on the Raiders (Zach Miller being the lone exception) Fargas is an intriguing option this week against a Jets defense that is struggling all of a sudden. Making matters worse, they lost NT Kris Jenkins for the season with a torn ACL on Sunday. In their last three games, the Jets have allowed an average of 32-131-1 and 6-61-0 to opposing RBs per game. If you’re in a pinch, grab Fargas off waivers and plug him into your lineup. You could do worse.

RB Ahman Green - FA ( FA)

While I have an incredibly difficult time trusting Ahman Green after watching his struggles over the last two seasons, he has passed the eye ball test the last couple of weeks. He ran eight times for 41 yards and caught a two-yard pass last week against a Miami defense that has allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. By contrast, the Lions have allowed the 3rd most. Green remains a backup to Slaton, and he is by no means in a committee approach either. His value lies in his ability to get a few extra carries this week and possibly catch a few balls or get into the end zone. As a former Packer, Green has a history of abusing the Lions defense. Detroit is allowing 30/153/1.2 and 4/26/0.2 to opposing RBs. There’s a distinct chance the Texans get a lead early and get Green double digit touches for the first time this year.

RB Rudi Johnson - FA ( FA)

Kevin Smith left last week’s game early with a shoulder injury and he didn’t return in the second half. Johnson went on to carry the ball 17 times for 38 yards against a tough Vikings defense. Johnson should get plenty of carries this week, especially if Smith’s shoulder limits his productivity, against a Texans defense allowing the 3rd most fantasy points/gm to opposing RBs – 26/111/1.8 and 4/53/0.4 per game. Johnson carries a significant amount of risk with him with Smith always in the picture and because the Lions are usually behind by a couple of TDs early.

RB Willis McGahee - FA ( FA)

The Bills are atrocious against the run and last week McGahee didn’t see a single touch. Look for that to change this week. The Ravens coaches may or may not have held him back last week in an attempt to trade him. The coaching staff won’t continue to give Ray Rice 30 touches each week. While McGahee may not resume his vulture status as the team’s goalline back, in a game like this, it wouldn’t be a shock to see McGahee with over 10 touches and a TD or two after the game is in hand.

RB Dominic Rhodes - IND (at HOU)

The way the Colts are playing on both sides of the ball, this game could be well in hand by halftime. Rhodes could get some extra work and possibly even play the last few series in this game after Edgerrin James and the Colts offense paste the Texans early (and often). The Texans are the 2nd best possible matchup for RBs allowing 30 rushing attempts, 146.2 rushing yards, 1.4 TDs, 3.6 receptions and 23.2 receiving yards per game. The Texans have allowed the most rushing yards in the league to opposing RBs through six weeks, the 2nd most rushing TDs to RBs (per game) and 4.8 yds/carry.

RB Darren Sproles - PHI (vs SD)

Sproles only touched the ball once in Monday night’s loss to the Broncos, but the plodding of LaDainian Tomlinson continued despite having a bye week to get fresher legs. He simply lacks the juice he had a couple of years ago to get into the second level of opposing defenses on a consistent basis. He goes down too easily for a man of his pedigree, so don’t be surprised if Sproles touches increase this week against a Chiefs defense that allowed a 78-yard run to Clinton Portis last week. Of course, the other side of that coin is the line of thought that if Portis could do it (and he’s washed up) then so could LT2. That’s true, but one must wonder what Norv Turner is thinking when he gives Sproles only one touch despite the painful truth that he’s simply a better fit for the Chargers offense at this point than Tomlinson. He’s just not a featured back. Look for Turner to demonstrate more sanity this week and get Sproles the ball a little more. While he’s still not a great fantasy option, if Portis can break loose for a long TD run, then imagine what an explosive player like Sproles might do with a few more opportunities. If you’re going to reach for a player, at least do it with a player that has as much big play ability and upside as Sproles does.

RB Mike Tolbert - CAR ( FA)

After suffering a rash of injuries the Chargers may be without both starting receivers and Antonio Gates this week. Luckily, Ryan Mathews is about 100% after the team brought him back slowly, having him serve in a limited capacity behind Mike Tolbert. The Chargers could lean more heavily on their running game. Mathews resumed his role as the team’s primary back, but Tolbert continues to get the rock at the goal line. Last week, he had only three carries, but scored. Mathews could be the focal point of the offense this week, and Tolbert could see some extra touches, but the Patriots defense played tough against the Ravens last week and it won’t be the easiest matchup. Cedric Benson has the only rushing TD, while Ricky Williams and C.J. Spiller scored as receivers. Tolbert is worth a look as a low-upside reach in TD-heavy leagues.


Wide Receiver

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

WR Miles Austin - FA ( FA)

The Falcons lost corner Brian Williams for the year last week and now they face a Cowboys passing attack that has the benefit of getting Roy Williams back from injury and an extra week to prepare coming out of their bye. With Miles Austin moving into the starting lineup opposite Williams, he may draw the best matchup in the Falcons secondary. The Falcons probably won’t double Austin as long as Williams and Jason Witten are present, not to mention a formidable ground game. Austin has a decent chance to put up decent numbers just don’t expect another heyday like the one he had in Kansas City two weeks ago.

WR Dwayne Bowe - FA ( FA)

In last week’s article we talked about it being a “do or die” week for Dwayne Bowe. He had a comfortable matchup against a Texans pass defense that is softer than Charmin. If he couldn’t get anything going against them, then he deserves to be benched going forward. Now that Bowe answered the call, it’s time to double down and ride hard with him against the Jaguars this week. As bad as the Texans pass defense has been, the Jaguars are actually allowing more fantasy points per game to opposing WRs. They’ve allowed 25 pass plays of 20+ yards and 8 of 40+ yards – both tops in the league. If the Titans actually had to throw the ball in the second half of Monday night’s game, those numbers would undoubtedly be even worse. We need to remind ourselves that Bowe’s problem isn’t talent as much as he is hamstrung by an offense that prefers to run the football, and when they do need to throw he has Matt Cassel and not a Pro Bowl quarterback like Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers or even Kyle Orton throwing the football. It won’t be a smooth ride with Bowe, but he has another super matchup and several more good ones on deck going forward.

WR Michael Clayton - FA ( FA)

Could Michael Clayton make it two strong weeks in a row? We’ll find out. The Eagles are allowing 12.3 receptions, 172 yards and 1.2 TDs per game to opposing WRs. Last week, Joe Horn produced his best game of the season (6, 110, 2) against Philly while rookie Marques Colston had four catches for 40 yards and a TD.

WR Marques Colston - FA ( FA)

In Colston’s four previous seasons in the NFL, he has never finished below WR35 and he has finished among the top 14 fantasy receivers in three of those four seasons. So far this year, Colston checks in as an underwhelming WR45. His receptions and targets aren’t necessarily down, but his YPC and TDs are without question. The targets and receptions tell us that his role hasn’t changed much and that we should expect the numbers to come around soon enough. I think it happens this week. The Browns Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown have been burned numerous times this year deep. Anquan Boldin abused them for 8-142-3 in Week 3. Terrell Owens had a monstrous 10-222-1 in Week 4. Roddy White followed suit with 5-101-1 in Week 5. Last week, with Ben Roethlisberger back behind center, Hines Ward and Mike Wallace each caught TDs as the Steelers attacked the Browns deep on a number of occasions. Colston doesn’t have a TD or a 100-yard game to his credit yet this year, but look for one of those (if not both) to change this Sunday.

WR Lee Evans - JAX ( FA)

Evans has been one of the biggest busts of this fantasy season through the first six weeks. He’s yet to score a TD and has just one game with more than 2 receptions or 20 yards or more. That’s insane considering his big play ability and overall talent. Considering that I play against him in my main league this week, Murphy’s Law says he’ll break out. The matchup is actually quite good even though the Bills host the Baltimore Ravens. Chris McAllister will be in street clothes and Samari Rolle has been beaten like a rented mule the past couple of seasons. The Ravens are allowing 12-161-1.2 per game to opposing WRs this year ranking them among the top 10 defenses for WRs. Trent Edwards continues to start for the Bills at QB so expect more production out of Roscoe Parrish and Josh Reed, too.

WR Ike Hilliard - TB ( FA)

Hilliard enters this week ranked 38th among fantasy WRs. He caught four balls for 59 yards last week and he’s been targeted at least 7 times in each of the last three games. The Lions, meanwhile, are allowing 14-171-1 to opposing WRs ranking them 8th in fantasy points allowed. Garcia is one of our top sleepers at QB this week so look for Hilliard to enjoy some production as well. Hilliard has produced 49+ yards in all but one game this year and he’s averaging 4.5 receptions for 60.5 yards per game on 6 targets.

WR Matt Jones - FA ( FA)

Matt Jones is like a sleeping giant. He’s been slowed by injury this year, but coming off the bye week against the Texans, who have allowed the 2nd most points to WRs, Jones looks like a great player to insert into the lineup. The Texans are allowing13 receptions for 183 yards and 1.6 TDs per game to WRs – the 2nd most TDs in the league and the 2nd most yards per game. Reggie Williams is Leftwich’s favorite target at the moment, but Jones could be the sneaky play this week.

WR Joe Jurevicius - FA ( FA)

Dallas has allowed the 8th most fantasy points to opposing receivers, or 10.5 receptions, 165.3 yards and 1.2 TDs per game. They are also allowing 13.2 yards per catch, 2nd highest in the league. With Darrell Jackson sidelined, Jurevicius has been an excellent fantasy play. He scored TDs in two games with Jackson on the field and he’s scored in both games with Jackson out of the lineup. To the Cowboys’ credit, they’ve held WRs out of the end zone in each of their last three games – including games featuring Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress. Jurevicius is probably the best bet in terms of a Seahawks WR scoring (though TE Jerramy Stevens is probably on equal footing in that regard). On a positive note, Randy Moss did produce 123 yards and was the fourth straight WR to go for 100 yards against the Cowboys to open the season. The Cowboys are on the road this week, too, so look for Jurevicius to break the Cowboys three game stretch and make it three games in a row for himself with a TD.

WR Johnny Knox - CHI (vs BAL)

After seeing just six targets and catching just two passes for 40 yards in the previous two games, Knox got back on track last week with 11 targets, 5 catches and 120 yards against the Seahawks. Knox is the most reliable receiver on the Bears. On a pass-happy offensive team that should translate to big fantasy numbers, but protection problems have led to a shell-shocked Jay Cutler and inconsistent production for Knox, who goes into this week as WR42 making him a low WR3 despite having the ADP and expectations of a WR2. Against the Redskins, Knox should be able to separate consistently and have another productive afternoon. The Redskins are one of the three friendliest defenses for WRs along with Houston and Jacksonville. They’re allowing the most receptions (18) and yards (210) to WRs along with 1 TD per game. Knox is the most targeted WR on the Bears and the player most likely to take advantage of the matchup.

WR Ashley Lelie - FA ( FA)

The Giants have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing receivers, or 18.8 receptions, 254.2 yards and 1 TD per game. Last week, Keyshawn Johnson went for 120 yards. Against the Rams two weeks ago, four different receivers topped 75 yards. Needless to say, you can glean enough optimism from the Giants defensive (stat) trends to have confidence in Lelie producing a solid game for you this week. It’s been a tough start for Lelie owners, but this week is a prime-time matchup for him to break out of his slump and build on last week’s 3 catches for 81 yards.

WR Greg Lewis - MIN (vs GB)

The Chargers have allowed 22 completions of 20 yards or longer, 12.5 yards per catch and the third most receptions to opposing WRs (14.2). Overall, the Chargers have allowed the 4th most fantasy points to WRs with 189 yds and a TD per game. The opposing #2 receiver has consistently been productive against San Diego, though Keyshawn Johnson (arguably the Cowboys #2 WR) produced 65 yards and 2 TDs against them. Since then, Ashley Lelie had 62 yards, Amani Toomer 84 yards, David Givens 66 yards, Antwaan Randle El 50 yards and Jerry Porter 63 yards. The risk involved with Lewis is two fold. One, McNabb isn’t “right” and two, Terrell Owens and L.J. Smith are getting more of the love and all of the TDs. Lewis is definitely a better play in PPR leagues, but he could also be a solid choice in standard leagues, too, this week.

WR Sidney Rice - SEA (vs DAL)

Rice is well on his way to producing career-best numbers in his third season. Brett Favre certainly has become fond of him as a target in the red zone as well as a deep threat. He’s the biggest of the Vikings receivers and he leads the team in receptions and yards. The Steelers don’t seem like a particularly good matchup, but if Mohammad Massaquoi (5-83-0), Dennis Northcutt (5-70-1), Chris Chambers (4-39-1), Johnny Knox (6-70-1), Andre Caldwell (6-52-1) and Justin Gage (7-78-1) can produce worthwhile stats against them, so can Rice.

WR Steve Smith - FA ( FA)

Steve Smith has flown below the radar this year due to the emergence of Hakeem Nicks as an elite wide receiver, but make no mistake, he’s still among the most consistent receivers in the game, particularly in PPR leagues. Smith has caught four or more balls in every game and produced 70 or more yards in three of his last four games. He comes into this week’s game as WR34; making him a low-end WR3 despite having only one TD in six games. Better yet, he has a knack for having huge games against the Cowboys. His stat lines from the last few games against the Cowboys look like this: 10-134-1, 6-110-0, 5-29-1 and 5-59-0. Don’t sell Smith short. He remains a solid WR3 with more upside than one might expect against a Cowboys secondary that has actually played reasonably well this season.

WR Travis Taylor - DET (at CLE)

The Seahawks are allowing the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs – 12.6 receptions, 183 yards and 1.8 TDs per game. They’ve allowed the most TDs to receivers in the league. Last week, Torry Holt scored 3 TDs and produced 154 yards against them. Granted, that’s Torry Holt and we’re talking about Troy “hands of stone” Williamson and Travis Taylor, but you get the point. In the last three games, the Seahawks have allowed 8 TDs to opposing WRs.

WR Bobby Wade - FA ( FA)

Wade’s status as a sleeper is largely dependent on Sidney Rice being inactive again or not. That said, even if Rice is inactive, Wade would remain on the field as a the team’s third receiver and probably still see a fair amount of targets against a Bears secondary that is scrambling for healthy bodies after finishing last week’s game with Charles Tillman, Nathan Vasher, Danieal Manning and Trumaine McBride all injured. The Bears activated Zachary Bowman and he may be pressed into duty this week depending on who is able to play and who isn’t. A healthier Bears defense was already allowing 17/195/0.7 per game to opposing WRs (5th most fantasy points allowed). It seems as if every receiver that has faced the Bears this year had either his best or one of his best games against them. Wade is the healthiest of the Vikings top three receivers and he has produced 4-71-0, 8-64-0 and 7-75-0 in the last three games. Expect more of the same this week.

WR Kevin Walter - FA ( FA)

Walter caught 4 balls for 98 yards last week as the Texans passed the ball more than twice as much as they ran it against the Dolphins. Walter has 21 catches for 266 yards with 3 TDs through 5 games now, and this week he and the Texans face the Lions in Houston for what appears to be an inviting matchup for all of the Texans skilled players on paper. The Lions are allowing 10 receptions, 179 yards and 1.4 TDs per game to opposing WRs. Walter finished 2007 as WR36 in standard scoring leagues. This year, he’s in the mid 20s and on pace for 9 TDs (3 in 5 games so far). Since the Lions have allowed the 2nd most TDs to opposing WRs, this matchup is about as inviting as it gets for Walter, not to mention the red hot Andre Johnson.

WR Troy Williamson - FA ( FA)

The Seahawks are allowing the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs – 12.6 receptions, 183 yards and 1.8 TDs per game. They’ve allowed the most TDs to receivers in the league. Last week, Torry Holt scored 3 TDs and produced 154 yards against them. Granted, that’s Torry Holt and we’re talking about Troy “hands of stone” Williamson and Travis Taylor, but you get the point. In the last three games, the Seahawks have allowed 8 TDs to opposing WRs.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

WR Donnie Avery - FA ( FA)

The Cowboys are struggling in their secondary once again. With Adam Jones suspended indefinitely and Terance Newman out for a while long, they coming into this game awfully vulnerable against the pass. The Rams offense isn’t scaring anyone these days, outside of Steven Jackson perhaps, but Donnie Avery has shown glimpses of big play ability and he certainly has the potential to emerge as a solid fantasy WR opposite Torry Holt in the second half of this season. Against a banged up Cowboys secondary, Avery definitely has a chance to do something this week. If anything, he’s worth a gamble.

WR Davone Bess - FA ( FA)

It’s not a good matchup by any means, but I noticed going into the Week 6 games that the Steelers had allowed the most receptions to opposing WRs at that time (16 per game). That number fell after the Steelers knocked out two of the Browns top receivers last week, but I still like Bess to continue what he’s been doing consistently for the last three games – catch plenty of passes. Bess has been targeted 28 times in those games for 20 catches, 216 yards and 2 TDs. Bess is blossoming into a potential PPR maven. Bess could continue to see plenty of targets in the short passing game to keep the Steelers pass rush at bay.

WR Marty Booker - FA ( FA)

The Chiefs were absolutely smoked by Santana Moss and Terrell Owens the last two weeks. Before that, Rod Smith and Randy Moss had a house party on their tab. This week that honor is more likely to be bestowed upon Chris Chambers, but Marty Booker isn’t someone you want to overlook either. Booker has always been a dangerous receiver to turn up the field after the catch and break a long TD. The Chiefs have allowed the 6th most fantasy points to WRs with 12.6 receptions, 184.2 yards and 1 TD per game. Opponents have converted 15.6 first downs per game on pass completions against KC – 4th most in the league. Granted, most of the fantasy love has gone to the #1 WR on the opposing team, but Booker matches up well with the Chiefs. Patrick Surtain will probably cover Chambers. That leaves the banged up (and under-sized) Dexter McCleon, or Eric Warfield (should he be activated), to cover Booker.

WR Steve Breaston - NO (at STL)

Steve Breaston has resumed practicing this week for the Cardinals and he is expected to rejoin the starting lineup when they face the Seahawks in Seattle this week. Breaston missed their last two games due to injury, but he was targeted 20 times in the first three games producing 10 or more fantasy points in two of them. The Seahawks are a solid matchup for receivers allowing the sixth most fantasy points for PPR format, seventh most for normal scoring. We don’t know how much rapport he has developed with rookie QB Max Hall, but he’s back, it’s a solid matchup and he’ll see nothing but single coverage all day with Larry Fitzgerald opposite him.

WR Nate Burleson - FA ( FA)

D.J. Hackett might be able to return this week against the Rams while Deion Branch is expected to miss one more week before returning to the Seahawks starting lineup. That means we should expect more solid production out of Bobby Engram as well as Nate Burleson and perhaps even Ben Obomanu. Engram is probably the best bet since he’s been targeted 7 times or more in 4 of their 6 games this year producing 4.7 receptions and 66 yards per game with 2 TDs. Burleson was productive last week and he’s scored 3 TDs in their six games, but he’s also been targeted 41 times to Engram’s 39. Obomanu was part of the lineup last week with Branch and Hackett sidelined. So, watch the blogger. If Hackett is out again, then Obomanu is a solid reach having produced 4-72-1 last week against New Orleans. The Seahawks face a Rams defense that is allowing 10 receptions for 154 yards and 1 TD per game to opposing WRs. That’s about middle of the road, so it’s not great nor is it bad either. The Rams finally have both of their starting corners in the lineup, too. Fakhir Brown returned a couple weeks ago after serving a four game suspension and Tye Hill has been slowed by injury.

WR Austin Collie - FA ( FA)

Last week, Mike Sims-Walker and Torry Holt both topped the 100-yard mark for the Jaguars and their slot receiver, Mike Thomas, caught seven passes for 52 yards against the Rams. Other teams with top passing games that have played the Rams produced similar results. Greg Jennings (2-103-0) and Donald Driver (4-95-1) had solid games despite Aaron Rodgers throwing only 23 times as they got out to an early lead. The Colts may very well do the same thing. Collie has been a hot read for Peyton Manning lately though and he’s been targeted 9 and 7 times in the last two games producing 8-97-2 and 6-6-51 respectively. Anthony Gonzalez won’t be ready to return to the lineup this week, so keep riding Collie while you can.

WR Michael Crabtree - OAK (vs BUF)

In short order, Crabtree went from being a malcontent holdout that was ready to sit out the 2009 season to the starting lineup supplanting Josh Morgan. Crabtree apparently impressed Head Coach Mike Singletary enough to put him into the starting lineup after less than two weeks of practice. He’s obviously a talented kid and opposing receivers have been producing solid results against the Texans this year. Crabtree still plays for a conservative team and, honestly, you’re probably better off seeing what he does before playing him. Then again, Laveranues Coles and his lead feet produced 4-40-1 against Houston last week while Chad Ochocinco went for 5-103-0 and Andre Caldwell 6-57-0. Chansi Stuckey and Nate Washington caught touchdown passes against them despite playing on poor passing teams. If you’re a gambler, you might have rolled the dice on Crabtree during the draft. If you’ve held onto him this long and you’re hit with a bye week dilemma, then why not gamble on Crabtree? The Texans offense has been putting points on the board each week, so the 49ers may find themselves in a position where they need to throw more than they like to and Crabtree is their shiny new toy that they seemingly can’t wait to unwrap.

WR Bobby Engram - FA ( FA)

D.J. Hackett might be able to return this week against the Rams while Deion Branch is expected to miss one more week before returning to the Seahawks starting lineup. That means we should expect more solid production out of Bobby Engram as well as Nate Burleson and perhaps even Ben Obomanu. Engram is probably the best bet since he’s been targeted 7 times or more in 4 of their 6 games this year producing 4.7 receptions and 66 yards per game with 2 TDs. Burleson was productive last week and he’s scored 3 TDs in their six games, but he’s also been targeted 41 times to Engram’s 39. Obomanu was part of the lineup last week with Branch and Hackett sidelined. So, watch the blogger. If Hackett is out again, then Obomanu is a solid reach having produced 4-72-1 last week against New Orleans. The Seahawks face a Rams defense that is allowing 10 receptions for 154 yards and 1 TD per game to opposing WRs. That’s about middle of the road, so it’s not great nor is it bad either. The Rams finally have both of their starting corners in the lineup, too. Fakhir Brown returned a couple weeks ago after serving a four game suspension and Tye Hill has been slowed by injury.

WR Lee Evans - JAX ( FA)

The Raiders are allowing 13.1 yards per catch, 3rd highest in the league. In five games, they’ve allowed 15 receptions of 20 yards or longer and 4 receptions of 40 yards or longer. Overall, the Raiders don’t rank among the best WR matchups in terms of catches or total yards per game, but the way this game looks to unfold, the Bills could be trailing early if they don’t find a way to plug holes in their run defense. Charles Woodson will lock horns with Eric Moulds leaving the explosive Evans to Nnamdi Asomugha. Evans is overdue for this first TD of the season and we like his chances of scoring better with Holcomb behind center as opposed to J.P. Losman.

WR Mike Furrey - WAS (vs SF)

Mike Furrey has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners who grabbed him off waivers a few weeks ago. He’s produced a few big games and this week he could do the same. The Jets allowed 50+ yards to three different Dolphins WRs last week (Chambers, Hagan and Welker). Overall, the Jets are the 8th best matchup for WRs allowing 13 receptions, 176 yards and 0.7 TDs per game.

WR Jabar Gaffney - MIA (vs KC)

Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal have received more attention from the fantasy community this season, which seems odd considering how Gaffney was one of the preseason sleeper darlings. A slow start eroded all of the fanfare for Gaffney while Lloyd started red hot and has not cooled off since, while Royal suffered a groin injury on Sunday and his status remains up in the air for this week. If Royal is unable to play, keep talented rookie Demaryius Thomas in mind as well as another splendid sleeper target given his combination of size and speed. Meanwhile, Gaffney continues to move up in the wide receiver rankings. He has four straight games with 5 or more catches and 50+ yards, but he hasn’t found the end zone since Week 1. This week he faces a Raiders secondary that is allowing 1.2 TDs per game to opposing WRs. With Nnamdi Asomugha likely to shadow Brandon Lloyd more than Gaffney, Gaffney should continue putting up solid, but not spectacular numbers. Even if Asomugha covers Gaffney, perhaps we’re overestimating his impact on the opposing #1 receiver. Michael Crabtree, Malcom Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Clayton and Nate Washington have all caught TDs against the Raiders this season. The only one that didn’t was Andre Johnson, and that’s because he didn’t play.

WR Justin Gage - TEN (at ARI)

Gage has seemingly been Kerry Collin’s favorite target this year, but he was sidelined in week 5 after injuring his knee the previous week. With a bye week to get healthy, Gage is expected to start this week though he did not practice on Wednesday. HC Jeff Fisher said he expects Gage to be ready to play against the Chiefs, who are allowing 11/157/0.8 per game to opposing WRs, but keep an eye on his status just in case. Gage was targeted 6, 7 and 10 times in the first three games producing 2-25-0, 5-59-1 and 5-92-0 respectively. The Chiefs have barely been able to rush the passer this year and Collins should have ample time to setup and hit Gage down the field for some big gains. Justin McCareins also deserves some consideration as a reach, since he’s been the most targeted (31 times) amongst the Titans receivers (compared to Gage with 23 and Bo Scaife with 22).

WR Michael Jenkins - NE ( FA)

The Steelers, perhaps surprisingly so, are the 6th best matchup for opposing WRs this year allowing 13.8 receptions, 176 yds and 1 TD per game. Interestingly, none of the opposing WRs have topped 100 yards receiving against Pittsburgh. Jenkins has been the most reliable amongst the Falcons WRs with 27 targets in five games (no less than 4, no more than 6). So, at least he’s consistent.

WR Michael Jenkins - NE ( FA)

Jenkins appeared to be turning the corner in weeks three and four with Joey Harrington also finally looking like a decent NFL caliber QB. That was then, this is now. In the last two weeks, Harrington faltered and was even replaced by Byron Leftwich in one game. Jenkins also was served up some humble pie with just 1-2-0 and 2-23-0 despite being targeted 5 and 6 times respectively. Here’s the good news. Jenkins has been consistently targeted 8, 6, 5 and 5 times in the last four games. This week’s opponent, New Orleans, is the 6th best matchup for WRs allowing 11-178-1.8 per game. They’re tied with the Bengals for most TDs allowed to WRs, which just happens to be an area of strength for Jenkins (the red zone). He remains a huge reach, but at least this week the opportunity and matchup both look good, so instead of bombing with 1 or 2 catches on his 5-6 targets, perhaps he’ll produce 4-5 catches and a possible TD.

WR Brandon Jones - FA ( FA)

Forget the statistics. Brandon Jones has been coming on over the last few weeks. With Drew Bennett sidelined with a dislocated thumb, Jones could see more balls thrown his way against the Cardinals. On the downside, he could see a little extra coverage, too. Not to mention, McNair could very well lean more heavily on his two tight ends and either Tyrone Calico, Roydell Williams or Courtney Roby. Jones isn’t a slam-dunk to replace Bennett statistically, but he’s in the best position to be productive since Calico still isn’t “right” and Jones is further ahead than his fellow rookie receivers Roby and Williams.

WR Ashley Lelie - FA ( FA)

The Steelers, perhaps surprisingly so, are the 6th best matchup for opposing WRs this year allowing 13.8 receptions, 176 yds and 1 TD per game. Interestingly, none of the opposing WRs have topped 100 yards receiving against Pittsburgh. Lelie has been coming on in recent weeks for the Falcons as a deep threat, but as we all know, the Falcons WRs are not targeted frequently enough to be consistent for fantasy purposes. At least with Lelie we know he’s good for a couple deep passes per game. Maybe he can connect with Vick for a TD in this one.

WR Justin McCareins - FA ( FA)

It’s always fun to play yours guys on Monday Night Football, so why not give McCareins a shot to pick up where he left off last week? Admittedly, this might reek of chasing stats, but McCareins is coming off his first career 100-yard game and it’s a good matchup, too. The Falcons are the 12th best matchup for WRs in terms of fantasy points allowed – 12.8 receptions, 162.3 yards and 0.8 TDs per game. McCareins was ineffective and underperforming through the first five weeks with Pennington at the helm most of that time. Testaverde seems to gives him a better chance to produce than Pennington did.

WR Hakeem Nicks - NYG (vs DEN)

The Giants should be able to take advantage of a good matchup with the Cardinals this weekend, unlike the Seahawks who struggled to protect Matt Hasselbeck. Steve Smith and Mario Manningham have been the most productive of the Giants receivers and they remain the best bets to come up with a big game this week, but Hakeem Nicks is also a strong bet. Nicks has caught a TD in three straight games and he recorded his first 100-yard game of his career last week against the Saints. The Cardinals haven’t allowed much production to opposing team’s No. 3 receivers, but none of the players that they’ve faced measure up to the level of talent that Nicks brings to the table.

WR Dennis Northcutt - FA ( FA)

Antonio Bryant will draw the coverage of Pro Bowl corner Dre’ Bly leaving Northcutt to Andre Goodman. The Lions rank 11th in (most) fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers. They’ve allowed 11.4 receptions, 153.6 yards and 1.0 TDs per game. They’ve allowed 5 completions of 40 yards or longer in as many games. Last week, three different Panthers’ receivers caught a TD against them. Northcutt caught four balls for 60 yards last week, but prior to that his game-highs were 4 catches (week 1) and 39 yards (week 2). If the Browns try to avoid going at Dre’ Bly (which might be a smart decision) then look for Northcutt and their TEs to pick up the slack.

WR Ben Obomanu - FA ( FA)

D.J. Hackett might be able to return this week against the Rams while Deion Branch is expected to miss one more week before returning to the Seahawks starting lineup. That means we should expect more solid production out of Bobby Engram as well as Nate Burleson and perhaps even Ben Obomanu. Engram is probably the best bet since he’s been targeted 7 times or more in 4 of their 6 games this year producing 4.7 receptions and 66 yards per game with 2 TDs. Burleson was productive last week and he’s scored 3 TDs in their six games, but he’s also been targeted 41 times to Engram’s 39. Obomanu was part of the lineup last week with Branch and Hackett sidelined. So, watch the blogger. If Hackett is out again, then Obomanu is a solid reach having produced 4-72-1 last week against New Orleans. The Seahawks face a Rams defense that is allowing 10 receptions for 154 yards and 1 TD per game to opposing WRs. That’s about middle of the road, so it’s not great nor is it bad either. The Rams finally have both of their starting corners in the lineup, too. Fakhir Brown returned a couple weeks ago after serving a four game suspension and Tye Hill has been slowed by injury.

WR Antwaan Randle El - FA ( FA)

Two weeks ago, against the Lions, Randle-El produced 7 catches for 100 yards on 7 targets, but he tweaked his hamstring and sat out the entire second half of the game. He played last week, but produced only 2-30-0 on 3 targets against the Packers in a game that was largely decided by both teams defensive performances. This week the matchup is better against the Cardinals, who are allowing the 7th most fantasy points to WRs, or 12-165-1.2 per game.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

WR Anthony Armstrong - FA ( FA)

Armstrong has now supplanted Joey Galloway as the Redskins starting wideout opposite Santana Moss. In his last three games, Armstrong has produced 9 catches for 187 yards and a TD. Armstrong makes the list this week by virtue of opportunity and because Donovan McNabb is targeting him more each week. He’s been targeted 7 times in each of the last two games. With Chris Cooley’s status in limbo due to a concussion last week, Armstrong stands to see another bump in targets potentially. The Bears aren’t a very good matchup, but the Seahawks’ Mike Williams (10-123-0) and Deon Butler (4-47-1) fared better than expected.

WR Deon Butler - SD (at PHI)

Mike Williams will likely tangle with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie this week given his size and coming off a huge 10-catch game against the Bears. Williams won’t have as much luck, or production, against the talented DRC, which could elevate the number of targets Deon Butler sees on the other side of the field. Butler fared well himself in his first NFL start by catching a TD pass and finishing with 4-47-1. The opposition’s No. 2 or No. 3 receiver has caught a TD against the Cardinals in three of their five games. Williams is obviously a decent sleeper as well given his production last week, but I like Butler’s speed, playmaking ability and matchup a little more this week. Either way, he’s still a reach and someone that is best used as a WR4/flex option in deeper leagues.

WR Antonio Chatman - FA ( FA)

Chatman isn’t the classic statistical matchup play this week since the Vikings (surprisingly?) don’t rank among the league’s worst secondaries. Perhaps it is because teams are gashing them on the ground and don’t need to throw the ball? Regardless, it seems like every time these two teams square off there are offensive fireworks on both sides of the ball. Chatman is a solid threat to score as the Packers third receiver, but he’s a gamble at best. The Vikings are brutal against opposing TEs and the Packers might not have that much love to spread around to make Chatman a worthwhile fantasy play unless you’re in a PPR or 14-team league starting three WRs.

WR Patrick Crayton - SD (at PHI)

The Chargers will be without Malcom Floyd this week against the New England Patriots. Legedu Naanee may be able to rejoin the lineup, but even if he does, I’d rather roll with a pair of players that are not coming off injury who have been reasonably productive in Patrick Crayton and Craig “Buster” Davis. Both players caught TDs last week and picked up the slack for Philip Rivers after Antonio Gates and Floyd left the game. Gates may be able to play this week, but he’ll be less than 100% if he does. The Patriots are a strong matchup allowing the 5th most fantasy points to opposing WRs – 12 receptions, 189 yards and 1.2 TDs per game. The Ravens starting receivers both had productive games against the Patriots last week. Derrick Mason caught eight balls for 100 yards while Anquan Boldin caught four for 63 yards and a TD. Philip Rivers has proven that he can be productive whether he has Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, Chris Chambers or Patrick Crayton and Buster Davis.

WR Andre Davis - HOU (vs IND)

Originally, Andre Johnson was targeting this week as his return date against the Tennessee Titans. Now, it looks like he might not be back until week 11, so Kevin Walter and Andre Davis should continue as the starters in the Texans lineup for the interim. Walter is riding a bit of a hot streak entering this game with 15 targets last week producing 12-160-0. Whoa. He’s in a serious upward trend over the last three games. Think Matt Schaub is paying attention? Walter’s targets go from 3 to 7 to 10 to 15 while his production has gone from 2-17-0 to 6-77-0 to 6-57-0 to last week’s ridiculous breakout. Plus, he gets bonus points from me for being an Eastern Michigan alumnus – no doubt a dubious distinction. Davis, meanwhile, produced only 3-30-0 last week but he also had an apparent TD reversed by instant replay. Davis was targeted 6 times and has been targeted 6, 7 and 5 times in the three previous games since joining the starting lineup. He’s produced consistently as well – 4-70-0, 5-117-1 and 4-79-0 in weeks 3 thru 5. The matchup this week isn’t particularly favorable for the Texans WRs. Tennessee is allowing 11-159-0.4 to opposing WRs. The opportunity might come simply from the fact that Tennessee is tough to run on and the Texans may have no alternative but to open up their offense and let it flow through Schaub, Walter and Davis once again.

WR Craig Davis - FA ( FA)

The Chargers will be without Malcom Floyd this week against the New England Patriots. Legedu Naanee may be able to rejoin the lineup, but even if he does, I’d rather roll with a pair of players that are not coming off injury who have been reasonably productive in Patrick Crayton and Craig “Buster” Davis. Both players caught TDs last week and picked up the slack for Philip Rivers after Antonio Gates and Floyd left the game. Gates may be able to play this week, but he’ll be less than 100% if he does. The Patriots are a strong matchup allowing the 5th most fantasy points to opposing WRs – 12 receptions, 189 yards and 1.2 TDs per game. The Ravens starting receivers both had productive games against the Patriots last week. Derrick Mason caught eight balls for 100 yards while Anquan Boldin caught four for 63 yards and a TD. Philip Rivers has proven that he can be productive whether he has Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, Chris Chambers or Patrick Crayton and Buster Davis.

WR Rashied Davis - FA ( FA)

Rashied Davis and Devin Hester have produced a pair of solid games in a row for the Bears. Coincidentally, those two games are the same ones that Brandon Lloyd has missed since spraining his knee. Davis and Hester face a Vikings defense this week that is far more susceptible in their secondary than they are up front against the run. Davis has produced 10-138-1 in the last two games on 15 targets while Hester produced 11-153-1 on 16 targets. The Vikings have allowed 10/160/0.5 per game to opposing WRs.

WR Malcom Floyd - FA ( FA)

The Chiefs are allowing an average of 10 catches, 173 yards and 1.2 TDs per game to opposing WRs this year. Chris Chambers has struggled gaining separation while Malcom Floyd continues to slowly take over the position. On Monday night, Floyd was targeted 5 times for three catches and 51 yards. That’s not great production for fantasy purposes, but it’s indicative of his big play potential. On the season, Floyd has seven catches for 178 yards (over 25 yds/catch). The Chiefs have been wrought by big plays all season long. Two weeks ago, Miles Austin had the breakout game of the millennium, while Steve Smith of the Giants produced 11-134-2 the previous week, and DeSean Jackson hung up 6-149-1 on them the week before that. Vincent Jackson obviously looks like a great option this week, but don’t overlook Floyd if the bye week or injuries have you searching for another option.

WR Justin Gage - TEN (at ARI)

Brandon Jones was sidelined last week and now Vince Young appears to be questionable as the team’s starter heading into week 7 against his home town rivals – the Houston Texans. With Jones sidelined again this week, Williams appears to be the best bet amongst the sad lot that is the Titans WR corps. Williams has been targeted 6, 5, 3 and 7 times in the last four games producing 4-72-1, 3-37-0, 2-19-0 and 5-44-0 last week. Three of those four games were against teams ranked in the bottom third of the league in fantasy points allowed to WRs. Houston is ranked just above the middle of the league allowing 11-144-1 to WRs. Michael Jenkins caught 2 TDs and produced 6-64 against the Texans in week 4 while teammate Roddy White produced 3-64-0. Last week, the vaunted Jaguars WR corps got 5-38-1 out of Reggie Williams and 4-46-0 out of Dennis Northcutt. Eric Moulds and Justin Gage are also interesting sleepers, if not big-time reaches like Williams, but both players produced last week with Jones out. Moulds had 6-49-0 and Gage 4-82-0.

WR Derek Hagan - FA ( FA)

Hagan almost scored a couple TDs last week in his first NFL start, but he came away empty on those passing plays. He still wound up catching 6 passes for 66 yards, not bad at all. Seven different WRs have scored TDs against the Packers in five games. Overall, the Packers are the 7th best matchup for WRs allowing 10 receptions, 170 yds and 1.6 TDs (2nd most) per game. Hagan could get the starting nod again this week if Marty Booker’s shoulder isn’t sufficiently healed. Look for the Dolphins rookie to be a solid reach if he’s starting.

WR Az-Zahir Hakim - FA ( FA)

The Rams have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs, or 13.7 receptions for 183.2 yards and 1.5 TDs per game. They’ve allowed 22 completions of 20 yards or longer (2nd most). Joe Horn’s status was described as “very questionable” after he re-tweaked his hamstring and Donte Stallworth is day-to-day with his own hamstring injury. If Horn sits, Az-Zahir Hakim will likely start. Either way, with Horn and Stallworth gimpy to various degrees, Hakim and Henderson will once again be among Brooks’ top targets this game in what amounts to a very good matchup. The Rams have allowed 6 TDs to receivers in the last 3 games alone. 11 out of the 12 starting WRs to face the Rams have scored at least 7 fantasy points using standard scoring.

WR Devery Henderson - FA ( FA)

The Rams have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs, or 13.7 receptions for 183.2 yards and 1.5 TDs per game. They’ve allowed 22 completions of 20 yards or longer (2nd most). Joe Horn’s status was described as “very questionable” after he re-tweaked his hamstring and Donte Stallworth is day-to-day with his own hamstring injury. If Horn sits, Az-Zahir Hakim will likely start. Either way, with Horn and Stallworth gimpy to various degrees, Hakim and Henderson will once again be among Brooks’ top targets this game in what amounts to a very good matchup. The Rams have allowed 6 TDs to receivers in the last 3 games alone. 11 out of the 12 starting WRs to face the Rams have scored at least 7 fantasy points using standard scoring.

WR Devin Hester - BAL (at CHI)

Rashied Davis and Devin Hester have produced a pair of solid games in a row for the Bears. Coincidentally, those two games are the same ones that Brandon Lloyd has missed since spraining his knee. Davis and Hester face a Vikings defense this week that is far more susceptible in their secondary than they are up front against the run. Davis has produced 10-138-1 in the last two games on 15 targets while Hester produced 11-153-1 on 16 targets. The Vikings have allowed 10/160/0.5 per game to opposing WRs.

WR Eric Moulds - FA ( FA)

Brandon Jones was sidelined last week and now Vince Young appears to be questionable as the team’s starter heading into week 7 against his home town rivals – the Houston Texans. With Jones sidelined again this week, Williams appears to be the best bet amongst the sad lot that is the Titans WR corps. Williams has been targeted 6, 5, 3 and 7 times in the last four games producing 4-72-1, 3-37-0, 2-19-0 and 5-44-0 last week. Three of those four games were against teams ranked in the bottom third of the league in fantasy points allowed to WRs. Houston is ranked just above the middle of the league allowing 11-144-1 to WRs. Michael Jenkins caught 2 TDs and produced 6-64 against the Texans in week 4 while teammate Roddy White produced 3-64-0. Last week, the vaunted Jaguars WR corps got 5-38-1 out of Reggie Williams and 4-46-0 out of Dennis Northcutt. Eric Moulds and Justin Gage are also interesting sleepers, if not big-time reaches like Williams, but both players produced last week with Jones out. Moulds had 6-49-0 and Gage 4-82-0.

WR David Patten - FA ( FA)

Everyone by now should know to start Mark Brunell and Santana Moss every week unless they have a better option than Brunell. However, even David Patten might be able to produce something this week. Every other week, it’s been Moss hogging up all the stats leaving just crumbs for his teammates. This week, against the worst secondary in the NFL, Patten should at least be a consideration. The 49ers are allowing 18.4 receptions, 261.4 yards and 1.6 TDs per game to opposing WRs alone. Opponents have thrown for 86 first downs against them (most in the league, completed 23 passes of 20 yards or longer (1st) and 6 completions of 40 yards or longer (2nd). Look at it this way, both of the starting WRs that have faced the 49ers have either scored a TD or produced 100 yards in every game but one – ironically against the Colts in week 5. If there’s ever a time to play David Patten then this is the week you’ve been waiting for.

WR Antwaan Randle El - FA ( FA)

In the last three games, Randle El caught 5 passes for 87 yards against the Rams, threw a TD and produced 3-34 receiving against the Eagles and produced 4-36-1 against the Cowboys. This week he faces the Browns. He’s not as explosive as he once was, but the Browns corners are vulnerable and Randle El could have another solid game.

WR Marcus Robinson - DET (at CLE)

The Seahawks are allowing the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs – 12.6 receptions, 183 yards and 1.8 TDs per game. They’ve allowed the most TDs to receivers in the league. Scoring touchdowns are Marcus Robinson’s specialty. If you’re in reaching for a long shot this week, look for Robinson. He’s arguably still the Vikings best red zone threat and the Seahawks have a real vulnerability against the pass right now.

WR Mike Wallace - BAL (at CHI)

Wallace is consistently involved in the Steelers offense, but not quite enough to be a fantasy starter. His speed gives the Steelers another deep threat in their offense and he is coming up with big plays nearly every week. The Vikings defense caved in the second half as the Ravens made several big plays through the air. The Steelers will almost certainly struggle to run the football against Minnesota, so look for Roethlisberger to throw often and use play-action regularly. Wallace will probably have a few deep balls thrown his way and the Vikings could be without top corner Antoine Winfield. If Ben Roethlisberger continues to get the leeway to make his own calls and play a hurry-up style of football, then Wallace will continue to be targeted with deep passes and he has a chance to be productive nearly every week.

WR Kevin Walter - FA ( FA)

Originally, Andre Johnson was targeting this week as his return date against the Tennessee Titans. Now, it looks like he might not be back until week 11, so Kevin Walter and Andre Davis should continue as the starters in the Texans lineup for the interim. Walter is riding a bit of a hot streak entering this game with 15 targets last week producing 12-160-0. Whoa. He’s in a serious upward trend over the last three games. Think Matt Schaub is paying attention? Walter’s targets go from 3 to 7 to 10 to 15 while his production has gone from 2-17-0 to 6-77-0 to 6-57-0 to last week’s ridiculous breakout. Plus, he gets bonus points from me for being an Eastern Michigan alumnus – no doubt a dubious distinction. Davis, meanwhile, produced only 3-30-0 last week but he also had an apparent TD reversed by instant replay. Davis was targeted 6 times and has been targeted 6, 7 and 5 times in the three previous games since joining the starting lineup. He’s produced consistently as well – 4-70-0, 5-117-1 and 4-79-0 in weeks 3 thru 5. The matchup this week isn’t particularly favorable for the Texans WRs. Tennessee is allowing 11-159-0.4 to opposing WRs. The opportunity might come simply from the fact that Tennessee is tough to run on and the Texans may have no alternative but to open up their offense and let it flow through Schaub, Walter and Davis once again.

WR Peter Warrick - FA ( FA)

Dallas has allowed the 8th most fantasy points to opposing receivers, or 10.5 receptions, 165.3 yards and 1.2 TDs per game. They are also allowing 13.2 yards per catch, 2nd highest in the league. It’s too early to tell if Bobby Engram will play or not this week as the NFL Injury Report has not been released, but if Engram sits, then Warrick is a decent reach.

WR Roydell Williams - FA ( FA)

Brandon Jones was sidelined last week and now Vince Young appears to be questionable as the team’s starter heading into week 7 against his home town rivals – the Houston Texans. With Jones sidelined again this week, Williams appears to be the best bet amongst the sad lot that is the Titans WR corps. Williams has been targeted 6, 5, 3 and 7 times in the last four games producing 4-72-1, 3-37-0, 2-19-0 and 5-44-0 last week. Three of those four games were against teams ranked in the bottom third of the league in fantasy points allowed to WRs. Houston is ranked just above the middle of the league allowing 11-144-1 to WRs. Michael Jenkins caught 2 TDs and produced 6-64 against the Texans in week 4 while teammate Roddy White produced 3-64-0. Last week, the vaunted Jaguars WR corps got 5-38-1 out of Reggie Williams and 4-46-0 out of Dennis Northcutt. Eric Moulds and Justin Gage are also interesting sleepers, if not big-time reaches like Williams, but both players produced last week with Jones out. Moulds had 6-49-0 and Gage 4-82-0.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

WR Danario Alexander - SD (at PHI)

Alexander also happens to be the hottest waiver wire commodity in many leagues this week, but for good reason. The super-sized receiver has plenty of talent, but he went undrafted mainly because of four knee surgeries. Alexander signed a four-year contract after being promoted from the practice squad, another sign that the Rams knew what they had and perhaps why they didn’t pursuit someone like Vincent Jackson via trade. Alexander made a big splash in his NFL debut last week with a 38-yard TD. He won’t leapfrog the four receivers ahead of him on the depth chart immediately, but it’s a clear sign that Sam Bradford feels comfortable with him. We also like his chances for playing time simply because he’s the only receiver on the Rams roster with his size making him a solid red zone and downfield target. That being said, he’s a huge reach until we get a bigger sample size. It’s unlikely that he will do what he did last week again, but the Rams are facing a Bucs defense that has allowed the 2nd most TDs receptions to opposing WRs per game (1.6). If you’re thin at WR due to bye week and injuries, Alexander is a decent grab off the waiver wire, and someone you could roll the dice on this week.

WR Jason Avant - KC (at MIA)

With DeSean Jackson sidelined this week, expect Jason Avant to start in his place and become a solid 1b as a possession receiver to Brent Celek’s 1a. Chad Hall moves up as the team’s No 3 receiver and he should see more targets as well. Avant is not a special talent, but he’s a solid route runner with good hands and size. The Titans pass rush will almost certainly pose problems for the Eagles, who have allowed the second most sacks in the league. To counteract that, the Eagles may look more to Avant and Celek in the short passing game. Avant caught five balls for 62 yards last week, which is easily his best game of the season. In the Titans last four games, opposing WRs are averaging an astounding 20 receptions for 232 yards and 0.8 TDs. Eight different receivers have caught 6 or more passes in that span, four have produced 100 yard games and nine have produced 50 yards or more. The opportunity is there for Avant, and better yet, he can likely be plucked off waivers if you need an emergency starter.

WR Marc Boerigter - FA ( FA)

Depending on the whether Samie Parker plays or not, Boerigter might see an expanded role this week, perhaps even start opposite Eddie Kennison against the Dolphins. Miami is allowing 12.2 receptions, 157.4 yards and 1.2 TDs per game to opposing receivers. They are the 9th best fantasy matchup for WRs. Of course, watch the weather with Hurricane Wilma creeping up on Florida. This game could be somewhat of a washout if there are high winds and driving rain.

WR Greg Camarillo - FA ( FA)

Camarillo continues to be the Dolphins #1 receiver and they face a Ravens defense that surprisingly played poorly last week, though injuries were a big part of their shortcomings in the secondary. It’s still a very difficult matchup, but Camarillo should be the most targeted of the Dolphins WRs and based on opportunity alone, he’s worth a long shot.

WR Michael Jenkins - NE ( FA)

Jenkins hasn’t been very productive this year with just 16 catches for 202 yards and no touchdowns thru five games, but this week he and the Falcons have a solid matchup against a Cowboys defense allowing 13 catches, 174 yards and 0.8 TDs per game to opposing wide receivers. Since Tony Gonzalez’ arrival, Jenkins has basically been demoted to the team’s fourth option behind Michael Turner, Roddy White and Gonzalez. His production is down, but he remains a viable deep threat with good size. Sooner or later, as teams roll their coverage towards White, or cheat against the run, they’re going to get burned deep by Jenkins. It’s hard to reach for a guy with as little production as Jenkins so far, but he remains a capable player who just doesn’t have the opportunities (targets) that he had in previous year.

WR James Jones - SD (at PHI)

With Jordy Nelson injured, James Jones has emerged as the Packers clear-cut No. 3 receiver. The problem with using Jones, beyond not being a starter on his own team, is that while the matchup is favorable the Packers could easily jump out to a big lead against the Browns and ride Ryan Grant for the majority of the second half. Jones broke free for a long TD last week and finished with 2-55-1 against the Lions. That game played out similar to how this game may unfold. Jones is a big-time reach, no doubt, but the Packers have a big play offense and Aaron Rodgers could easily produce 2 or 3 touchdowns in one half and over 200 yards, then pack it in and run the football in the second half. He’s worth a reach in deeper leagues or TD-heavy leagues in particular.

WR Shaun McDonald - FA ( FA)

McDonald slides into the starting job vacated by Roy Williams, opposite Calvin Johnson. He faces a Texans secondary that has yielded below average production to opposing WRs. Based on opportunity alone, McDonald may be worth a reach, but the Lions have so many questions to answer offensively that he’s a player you’re better off picking up and watching for a week or two before you simply insert them into your lineup. As a reach, however, it’s passable in deeper leagues.

WR Clarence Moore - FA ( FA)

With rookie starter Mark Clayton slowed because of injury, Moore could see a bigger role this Sunday against the Bears. Chicago has allowed 6 TDs to opposing receivers in five games this year (3rd highest per game) and Moore is arguably the Ravens best red zone receiver because of his excellent size and jumping ability. Granted, Todd Heap and Derrick Mason remain the Ravens top targets, but if you’re in a bad way at WR this week, especially if Clayton is limited or can’t play, then Moore is a decent long shot.

WR Peerless Price - BUF (at OAK)

The Patriots are allowing the 5th most fantasy points to opposing WRs this year – 13.4 receptions, 185 yards and 0.8 TDs per game. In their first meeting this year, Reed and Price produced 3-40-0 and 3-25-0 respectively. Last week, Roscoe Parrish broke off a long TD, but later injured his hamstring and left the game. If he’s slowed this week, then Reed and Price have a slightly better chance of producing something noteworthy. It’s a snow ball’s chance in hell, but it’s still a chance just the same.

WR Josh Reed - FA ( FA)

The Patriots are allowing the 5th most fantasy points to opposing WRs this year – 13.4 receptions, 185 yards and 0.8 TDs per game. In their first meeting this year, Reed and Price produced 3-40-0 and 3-25-0 respectively. Last week, Roscoe Parrish broke off a long TD, but later injured his hamstring and left the game. If he’s slowed this week, then Reed and Price have a slightly better chance of producing something noteworthy. It’s a snow ball’s chance in hell, but it’s still a chance just the same.

WR Sidney Rice - SEA (vs DAL)

The Vikings have some talent at WR, but they lack a consistent QB and experience at both positions. They have a strong matchup against the Cowboys this week who have allowed the most fantasy production to WRs in the league (15-182-1.5 per game). They are also without CB Anthony Henry this week. The caveat with this matchup is that much of the reason they are ranked where they are is due to two games against New England and the NY Giants – two of the more explosive pass offenses in the game featuring dangerous WRs like Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress. The Vikings don’t have a Burress or Moss, nor do they have a QB on par with Tom Brady or even Eli Manning. That said, Rice has shown flashes so far as a rookie and Williamson finally popped last week with a 60-yard TD reception.

WR Brad Smith - FA ( FA)

Ok, so here’s a long shot for you. Smith has not produced more than 3 catches in a single game yet this season. He caught 3 for 44 yards and a TD two weeks ago against the Giants, but otherwise he’s produced 1-2-0, 2-36-0 and 3-24-0 in the Jets other games in the last month. Granted, he’s a good bet to run the ball once or twice each week, possibly even throw a pass. This week, he’s a decent reach based simply on the matchup against the Bengals, who are allowing 13-168-1.8 each week to opposing WRs (most TDs allowed). Other slot receivers have been marginally successful against them – Bobby Engram (5-62-1) in week 3 and Wes Welker (3-22-0 and a 27-yard run in week 4).

WR Mike Thomas - HOU (vs IND)

Red flags abound in this game. David Garrard and Trent Edwards both look like they’ll be unavailable, which means they will be going with Todd Bouman on the road in a noisy stadium that can be problematic even for veterans. That said, if there is a player in the Jags passing game that might be worth a reach out of desperation it would be Thomas. Thomas leads the Jags with 41 targets and he’s seen 7+ targets in all but one game. Brandon Flowers has played lights out football this season and he’ll likely matchup with Mike Sims-Walker, which further reinforces why Thomas is the player to consider here. For comparison, MSW has just 18 catches on 36 targets, while Thomas has 29 catches in his 41 targets.

WR Troy Williamson - FA ( FA)

The Vikings have some talent at WR, but they lack a consistent QB and experience at both positions. They have a strong matchup against the Cowboys this week who have allowed the most fantasy production to WRs in the league (15-182-1.5 per game). They are also without CB Anthony Henry this week. The caveat with this matchup is that much of the reason they are ranked where they are is due to two games against New England and the NY Giants – two of the more explosive pass offenses in the game featuring dangerous WRs like Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress. The Vikings don’t have a Burress or Moss, nor do they have a QB on par with Tom Brady or even Eli Manning. That said, Rice has shown flashes so far as a rookie and Williamson finally popped last week with a 60-yard TD reception.


Tight End

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

TE Ernie Conwell - FA ( FA)

The Rams have allowed the 9th most fantasy points to opposing TEs, or 3.8 receptions for 44.3 yards and 0.5 TDs per game. Dallas Clark produced 31 yards on Monday night, which is actually a solid game for him this year (sadly). Jerramy Stevens and Jeremy Shockey produced 65 and 57 yards respectively with a TD each. In week two, the Titans TE combo of Ben Troupe and Erron Kinney yielded 22 yards with a TD and 64 yards respectively. Conwell has been reasonably productive this year, but he’s not been very consistent after a good start. With Joe Horn very questionable, maybe Conwell bounces back this week with a good matchup in this game. The Rams safeties are known more for their hitting than their ability to cover.

TE Bubba Franks - FA ( FA)

If Bubba is able to play this week, he’s an excellent “sleeper” start given how accommodating the Vikings have been to opposing TEs. Heck, Desmond Clark scored a pair of TDs against them last week. Let’s be succinct here. EVERY single stinking tight end to play Minnesota this season has scored a TD, if not two. What else needs to be written here? If Bubba plays, then Bubba’s in your lineup unless you have a rock-solid TE like Shockey, Gates, Heap, Witten, etc.

TE Todd Heap - FA ( FA)

After watching Heap get his bell rung by Brandon Meriweather last week, knowing Heap’s well documented litany of nagging injuries over the years, I immediately assumed that he would be out for the rest of the game, if not this week as well. Needless to say, I was shocked when I flipped back to the Ravens game in the third quarter and saw him catch another pass. Not only did Heap return to the field, but he amazingly seemed no worse for the wear. This week, Heap has an excellent matchup against a Bill defense allowing the most fantasy points to his position – an average of 6 catches, 73 yards and 1 TD per game. Perhaps the Bills worked on that deficiency during their bye week after they allowed 5 TDs in their last three games to Marcedes Lewis (4-54-2), Dustin Keller (4-28-2) and Rob Gronkowski (3-43-1). Forget that Aaron Hernandez also had 6-65-0 and Jermichael Finley ran free for 4-103-0 in Week 2. As long as Heap is able to play this week (he missed practice on Wednesday), he’s someone you want to get into your lineup unless you have a stronger option like Vernon Davis.

TE Aaron Hernandez - FA ( FA)

Last week, I had an email from an astute subscriber asking if I overlooked Aaron Hernandez. They laid out several logical reasons why Hernandez was an excellent sleeper, and I agreed with all of them. Of course, Hernandez didn’t disappoint by catching 4-61-0, unless you consider his two drops as he could’ve finished with even better numbers. So consider this week’s column a make-up, and perhaps the last time he makes this column as he’s quickly blossoming into one of Tom Brady’s go to receivers and a quality TE1 the rest of the way. Gronkowski has the TDs so far, but Hernandez actually has more targets in the red zone than Gronkowski this year, and he has the most targets on the team behind Wes Welker. The Chargers defense is playing outstanding this year, but they’re only average against tight ends allowing 5-52-0.5 per game. After this week, that average will probably go up. I love Hernandez’ size, versatility, athleticism, feet, hands, ability to create yards after the catch and just about everything about his game. The fact that he has Tom Brady throwing him the rock is just icing on the cake.

TE Heath Miller - FA ( FA)

Miller looks like a solid sleeper this week going against a Broncos defense that will undoubtedly be geared up to stop the Steelers highly productive running game. The Broncos are allowing the 4th most fantasy points to opposing TEs, too. Opponents are averaging 5-67-0.6 from the tight end position against Denver though that number has perhaps been unfavorably skewed by two of this year’s most prolific fantasy TEs – Antonio Gates (7-113-1) and Dallas Clark (6-76-2). It also doesn’t hurt that Champ Bailey (quad) is injured and may not be available to play this week (check the blogger and our players in the news feature for updates on his status later this week). Miller has been super consistent this year producing between 2-4 catches each week and 34-46 yards in all but one week (he broke out for 82 yards in week 3) with 2 TDs.

TE Heath Miller - FA ( FA)

Throughout his career, Miller has been a strong TE2 for depth and bye weeks because he is regularly targeted in the red zone by Ben Roethlisberger. This year, the Steelers have transitioned into a pass-happy team and Miller’s role has grown tremendously as his targets have increased dramatically. As such, he’s technically not much of a sleeper heading into Week 7. For those owners that drafted him to be a TE2, he’s probably overtaken the player drafted to be their TE1. Things continue to look bright for Miller heading into this week against a Vikings defense allowing a ridiculous amount of production to opposing tight ends – an average of 7 catches, 86 yards and 0.7 TDs per game. In other words, this is not the week to put Miller on the bench.

TE Zach Miller - FA ( FA)

Miller continues to be a decent week to week option. He’s not quite a player you can just insert into your lineup and forget about the rest of the year, but he offers some upside whenever the situation is more favorable than normal. This week, the Jets represent the matchup and they are allowing 4/45/0.6 per game to opposing TEs (6th highest). Miller has been reasonably productive in the last two games, but prior to that he produced 6-58-0 over three games. HC Tom Cable talked about making changes offensively because of the effort put in by the WRs. Rest assured, that didn’t include Miller.

TE Greg Olsen - CAR ( FA)

Owen Daniels caught two touchdowns against the Bengals last week. While the Bengals corners are playing as well as any tandem in the NFL right now, if they cover Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett well, then it won’t take Cutler long to begin finding Greg Olsen. The Bears reportedly want to get Olson more involved in the offense and the Bengals defense may have lost its edge the past couple of weeks due to injuries. Todd Heap caught seven balls for 41 yards against them two weeks ago and Steve Heiden caught a TD among five catches for 33 yards in Week 4. You’re probably losing patience with Olson if you drafted him to be your TE1, but hang in there. He may be on the verge of putting up more consistent numbers beginning with a nice matchup this week.

TE Jason Witten - DAL (at SEA)

The Giants are the 2nd best fantasy matchup for opposing TEs, so Witten is definitely a guy to start this week. He’s been inconsistent this year – like the rest of the Cowboys passing game – but the Giants are allowing more yardage to TEs than any team in the league (63.4). Witten had mixed results against the Giants last year. In week 6, he produced 5-56-1 and in week 13 he had a paltry 1-5-0.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

TE Courtney Anderson - FA ( FA)

Anderson might be productive enough this week to start for a few reasons. Randy Moss’ injury could mean more targets for Anderson, though that could work both ways, too. Without Moss, defenses might be more honest and Anderson might not have as much room to operate in the middle of the field. The Bills were beaten for 2 TDs by the Dolphins TE tandem of Randy McMichael and blocking specialist Will Heller in week 5. Otherwise, they’ve done a solid job of shutting down opposing TEs for the most part.

TE Chris Baker - SEA (vs DAL)

Baker has three games with usable fantasy stats and three clunkers. This week, we’re leaning on the productive side of the Chris Baker gambling experiment. The Lions are the 5th best matchup for TEs allowing 4.2 receptions, 44.2 yards and 0.8 TDs per game. We went with the great Robert Royal to score against the Lions last week, when in fact, it was the #2 TE on the Bills (Ryan Neufeld) that scored. Look for Baker to be a decent reach this week.

TE Chris Baker - SEA (vs DAL)

The Bengals are a solid matchup for almost any offensive fantasy (skilled) position, and TE is certainly not an exception. Opponents are averaging 5-57-0.6 against the Bengals. Baker is currently the 17th ranked TE heading into this game despite not catching more than 3 balls in a single game this year. He’s not frequently targeted, but he gets some love around the goal line, so his fantasy value is skewed upwards a tad as a result of his 2 TDs.

TE Kevin Boss - FA ( FA)

Boss hasn’t been very productive this year with no TDs in five games despite having caught 6 TDs last year among 33 receptions. This week the Giants may need to throw the ball more than they usually do as they play the high-powered Cardinals offense. All five tight ends that have played against the Cardinals this year have produced 40 or more yards, three of them caught 5 or more passes and two caught TDs.

TE Brent Celek - PHI (vs SD)

With DeSean Jackson out, Brent Celek’s targets and catches should go up. Celek has been steady all season with 3 or 4 catches in each of the last five games, scoring in two of the last three. The Titans defense that loves to bring the heat and tackles extremely well, so look for plenty of short passes to Celek, Jason Avant and delayed screens to LeSean McCoy.

TE Dallas Clark - FA ( FA)

The Texans aren’t your typical “good matchup”. They allow an average of 4.2 receptions for 37 yards and 0.4 TDs per game to opposing TEs ranking them 20th in fantasy points allowed, but they are 11th in terms of receptions allowed. Clark has been hit and miss this year, but largely a collective “whiff” compared to his pre-season expectations. I’m not one to lean on the old adage that a player is “due”, unless we’re talking baseball and situational statistics, but we’re not. Clark remains a gamble at best each week. Manning isn’t even a great start this week, but chances are the Texans will be defending the run vigorously once Edge starts running downhill against them. That could lead to Clark sneaking into the secondary for his first TD of the season. Manning seems to do a good job of getting his receivers their just rewards, and Clark’s are long overdue.

TE Dallas Clark - FA ( FA)

The Redskins are allowing the 8th most fantasy points to opposing TEs – 4.5 receptions, 44.5 yards and 0.3 TDs per game. Unfortunately, they were ranked much higher until the last two games when they did a good job of limiting the Giants and Titans TEs to almost no production. The Redskins could be a tougher matchup than those averages indicate, but Clark is almost always worth the gamble knowing Peyton Manning is chucking the rock to him.

TE Eric Johnson - FA ( FA)

Johnson has appeared regularly in this column for the simple fact that there aren’t many TEs to go around in the NFL, he’s been somewhat consistent and effective and he’s ranked outside of the top 15 or so TEs based on year-to-date FBG scoring. So, against a Falcons defense allowing 4-52-0.2 per game to opposing TEs, you might have guessed that he’s make another appearance this week. Jeff King, Owen Daniels and Jeremy Shockey have all produced 56 yards or more against the Falcons this year with 4 or 5 receptions each. Johnson has 23 receptions in 5 games on 30 targets, which means at 6 targets and 4.6 receptions per game, he’s a big enough part of the offense that he makes a strong backup and a super bye week plug-in. He also caught his first TD of the season last week.

TE Heath Miller - FA ( FA)

When it comes to Heath Miller, we need not dig too deep in the realm of statistical analysis and oddities to determine that he’s a strong sleeper, or perhaps more realistically he has resumed his status as a low-end TE1 for the rest of the season now that Ben Roethlisberger is back running the show for the Steelers. In Ben’s first game, he successfully revived the fantasy seasons of Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and Miller in one fell swoop by completing TD passes to all three. The Dolphins are not a bad matchup either, allowing 5-59-0.5 per game to TEs, but it doesn’t take statistics to reaffirm something we already knew. Roethlisberger loves to target his big tight end in the short passing game and also in the red zone.

TE Robert Royal - CLE (vs DET)

Leave it to Ben Watson. He’s surely in my dog house now. He went out and broke a perfectly good string of super productive TEs that have played over their heads against the Chargers this season. So, this week we turn to Robert Royal to bring balance back into the universe. The Chargers, despite Watson’s goose egg last week, STILL have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing TEs – an average of 6 catches, 73 yards and 0.8 TDs per game. Royal isn’t consistent enough to use in most leagues, but he’s worth a gamble this week.

TE Bo Scaife - CIN (vs PIT)

The Chiefs are actually one of the stingiest defenses in the league, at least statistically, against opposing tight ends. They’ve allowed a scant 2-25-0 to them this year on average. The tight end with the most production against them through 5 games is none other than Daniel Graham with 3 catches and 29 yards in week four. That being said, it’s not like the Chiefs have played many teams that feature tight ends heavily in their passing game. Let’s take a look – New England (week one) with David Thomas (blech!), Oakland (Miller had 2-24-0), Atlanta (Justin Peelle or Ben Hartsock? C’mon!) and Carolina (King had 2-17-0 last week). Denver is the only team that regularly utilizes their TEs with Oakland being a possible exception, except they have their own struggles completing passes to any of their receivers, much less Zach Miller. Scaife, on the other hand, is arguably the Titans most reliable receiver, and certainly someone that Kerry Collins has looked to frequently enough to warrant reaching for him this week in a starting capacity. Scaife has caught 3 or more ball in 4 of the Titans’ 5 games. He’s averaging 4 catches and 45.2 yards and he hauled in 7-72-0 in their last game on 8 targets.

TE Ben Watson - BAL (at CHI)

The Patriots have an excellent matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers struggling pass defense this week. They are also without their No. 3 receiver Julian Edelman and they waived veteran Joey Galloway. That means special-teams captain Sam Aiken becomes their No. 3 receiver, or does it? Look for Ben Watson to play a larger role this week and get some targets instead. The Bucs have been beaten for numerous big plays this year and Watson still has enough wheels to get open downfield and keep the safeties from crowding the line of scrimmage. A week ago, Bill Belichick stressed to the team their lack of big plays this year. Look for them to break a few more this week and Watson looks like he could be a sneaky play and be part of that.

TE Ben Watson - BAL (at CHI)

After years of being a fantasy tease, perhaps all Ben Watson needed was a change of venue. Through six games in a Browns uniform, Watson is on pace for career highs in catches and yards. He enters this week as TE9 year to date and he easily leads the Browns in targets (44), catches (29), receiving yards (318) and TDs (2). What’s not to like? The matchup this week is just as favorable, if not for the uncertainty that comes with having Colt McCoy make his second NFL start. If McCoy was a drawback, it didn’t seem to affect Watson in a bad way last week. Of course, it was also partially because James Harrison single handedly dismissed two of the Browns top three receivers with bone jarring hits. Watson finished with season highs of 6 catches and 88 yards with a TD as a bonus. This week’s matchup is much more favorable as the Saints are allowing 6-71-0.3 per game to opposing TEs.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

TE Jermichael Finley - FA ( FA)

The Browns aren’t a very good matchup, statistically, for opposing tight ends, but Finley is sort of a rare breed of cat. He’s an athletic marvel with his size and ability to function more as a receiver in the open field to create mismatches for nearly any defense the Packers face. Teams have been marginally productive with their tight ends against the Browns, so Finley is definitely worth a gamble considering his ability to bust big plays. Heath Miller produced 5-80-1 last week against the Browns, while the unflappable combo of John Paul Foschi (3-44-0) and Dan Coats (4-36-0) produced decent numbers against them in Week 4. With D’Qwell Jackson out for the season, the Browns run defense became even weaker, which means the Browns may need to use their safeties more to help stop the run. Look for the Packers to make them pay with play-action passing and targeting Finley in the middle of the field.

TE Jermaine Gresham - ARI (vs TEN)

Carson Palmer’s arm is an obvious concern for the Bengals, despite what they say publically, but it may also be a feather in the cap of Jermaine Gresham’s owners. Palmer’s inability to attack teams vertically may continue to lead to more targets for the Bengals talented rookie tight end on intermediate and underneath routes. The Falcons are also a solid matchup allowing 6-51-0.3 to opposing TEs. The Falcons also have a solid pass rush, so look for Palmer to target Gresham often on tight end screens, delays and other short routes to offset their pass rush and use it against them at times.

TE Dustin Keller - FA ( FA)

It’s difficult to consider a player with a grand total of 6 catches this year for even spot-start duty as a TE, but that’s exactly what I’d consider Keller for this week. He has only 6 catches, but 2 of them went for TDs. Last week, he caught another TD but it was nullified by a penalty on the Jets. The Raiders are also one of the better matchups in the league for TEs allowing 5/61/0.6 per game. Opposing TEs have scored in 3 of the last 4 games against the Raiders, too. Last week, the Saints got some serious production out of Billy Miller (3-53-0), Mark Campbell (3-37-1) and Sean Ryan (2-7-0) – a combined 8 catches. Keller won’t get all the targets since Bubba Franks or Chris Baker see playing time as well, but Keller has shown a knack for getting open around the red zone. Because of that, and with Favre at QB, he’s worth a flier in deeper leagues.

TE David Martin - BUF (at OAK)

See Bubba Franks. If Bubba plays, Martin might still be worth a look in deeper leagues or those geared heavily towards TDs. If Bubba doesn’t play, then David Martin needs to be in your lineup barring the presence of a rock-solid TE like Shockey, Gates, Heap, Witten, etc. Every starting tight end to play Minnesota this season has scored a TD, if not two. What else needs to be written here? If Bubba plays, then Bubba’s in your lineup and Martin’s a strong consideration. If Bubba doesn’t play, then Martin is the man and Donald Lee becomes a consideration in deeper leagues.

TE Randy McMichael - SD (at PHI)

With Randy McMichael on injured reserve, Klopfenstein once again has an opportunity to show he what he can do in a starting capacity. In his first two games since McMichael’s injury, Klopfenstein hasn’t exactly lit it up; 1-8-0 vs Buffalo (2 targets) and 2-10-0 vs Washington (3 targets). The Rams offense has struggled mightily this year with various injuries (Avery, McMichael, Bennett, Leonard, etc), Bulger getting benched, then reinstated as the starter and a coaching turnover to boot. Ironically, injuries to the Cowboys secondary, along with Adam Jones’ suspension, may give Klopfenstein and the Rams passing game some breathing room, providing the offensive line can protect Bulger long enough to find his receivers, and it might be Klopfenstein’s best chance to produce some meaningful stats yet this season. Make no mistake, he’s a long shot and I suspect you’d have to be fairly desperate to even consider reaching this far, but it’s plausible in deeper leagues.

TE Tony Moeaki - CHI (vs BAL)

Despite having a wonderful matchup against the Texans poor secondary, Moeaki only caught two passes for 21 yards as Jake O’Connell and Leonard Pope popped up out of nowhere and even Mike Vrabel stole his thunder making one of his hallmark goal-line TD catches on a bootleg. This week, the Chiefs once again face a horrible secondary and Moeaki is not a player you want to overlook unless you have another more formidable option. Moeaki is still either first or second on the team in targets, catches, yards and TDs.

TE Leonard Pope - PIT (at CIN)

The Cardinals rookie tight end is slowly emerging as the team’s best TE and it might not be too long before he’s making more of a name for himself in fantasy leagues. The Raiders are the 10th best matchup for TEs allowing 3.2 receptions and 23 yards per game, but the tell-tale statistic is 0.8 TDs per game. Four different TEs have scored TDs against them in five games.

TE L.J. Smith - FA ( FA)

Smith returned to action last week for the first time since re-injuring his groin in week two. He didn’t fare particularly well, mind you, as he caught just one ball for 8 yards on two targets. He’ll play again this week, barring any unforeseen setbacks, but he again won’t be 100% yet. There’s a chance that he could be somewhat productive against a Bears defense that has been prone to TEs this year allowing 5 catches, 58 yards and 0.3 TDs per game. Those are solid numbers for TEs, especially if we consider that the Vikings TEs were shut out by the Bears last week. To be fair, the Bears numbers have been elevated having faced TEs Gates, Gonzalez and Witten already this year.

TE Quinn Sypniewski - FA ( FA)

For those of you, like myself, that own Todd Heap this year it might be a blessing in disguise having Heap sit out this week. He hasn’t practiced yet this week at the time of this writing and it would be a surprise if he’s active and in the lineup after last week’s debacle. The good news is that none of us will be riding false hope with Heap if he’s inactive. If you have the roster space, consider acquiring Quinn Sypniewski and playing him instead. In leagues with tighter rosters, that might not be possible without cutting a player of more value at another position. Still, it’s a good matchup for Sypniewski if he’s in the lineup against the Bills. Buffalo is allowing 5-49-0.6 to opposing TEs and Sypniewski has been marginally productive when replacing Heap in the lineup. Since Heap’s hammy flared up midway through week 4, Sypniewski produced 12 receptions for 72 yards and a TD despite starting only one of those three games.

TE Ernest Wilford - FA ( FA)

Like Matt Jones, Wilford has been a sleeping giant this year. He’s just disappeared from the fantasy landscape while Reggie Williams emerged to the forefront. The Texans, who Wilford dominated in two games last year, have allowed the 2nd most points to WRs - 13 receptions for 183 yards and 1.6 TDs per game to WRs. Last year, Wilford produced 4-89-1 and 4-118-1 against Houston. Could he resurrect some of that charm this week?

TE George Wrighster - NYG (vs DEN)

The Texans are allowing 4.8 receptions and 43.8 yards per game to opposing TEs (though just 1 TD in five games). Wrighster is averaging 5.4 targets per game and 3.4 receptions for 28.2 yards per game with just 1 TD. He’s definitely a long shot and we suspect he’ll begin to lose some stats to Marcedes Lewis, the team’s talented rookie TE and first round pick. For now, anyway, he’s still worth a reach if you’re other options are thin.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

TE John Carlson - FA ( FA)

Don’t look now, but it looks like John Carlson is doing his annual swoon after getting off to a somewhat promising start in the first weeks. In the last two games, Carlson seemingly disappeared with box scores of 1-15-0 (3 targets) and 2-21-0 (4). Perhaps last week, the Seahawks made a concerted effort to get Mike Williams the ball and they may have seen something on tape as they picked on Charles Tillman repeatedly. This week, they face a Cardinals defense allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing TEs (or 5-60-0.8 per game). In their last three games, the Cardinals have been beaten repeatedly by TEs. Jeremy Shockey (3-30-1), Antonio Gates (7-144-2) and Zach Miller (4-64-1) all caught TDs against them. Given Carlson’s disappearing acts in the past, it’s hard to start him with much confidence, but the matchup is favorable so maybe Carlson is this week’s Mike Williams.

TE Fred Davis - NE ( FA)

It’s a strong week for tight end sleepers overall. There are a number of others worth a look with Antonio Gates injured, Dallas Clark, Dustin Keller and the Lions tandem of Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler all on the bye. Those that have carried TE1 value or consideration this year with good matchups include Visanthe Shiancoe and Marcedes Lewis. Other deeper reaches include Bo Scaife, with a favorable matchup against the Eagles, and perhaps the one with the most intrigue is Fred Davis, a proven low-end TE1 when Chris Cooley is out. Cooley’s status is unclear at this time after suffering another concussion last week. If he doesn’t go, then Davis is definitely worth a look and he’s probably available off waivers after barely sniffing the field in the first month of the season. The Bears aren’t a great matchup statistically because they haven’t allowed a TD to a tight end this year, but they are averaging six catches for 59 yards.

TE Michael Gaines - FA ( FA)

Michael Gaines dropped what could’ve been a long TD pass last week against the Ravens. This week, we’ll see if he or Kris Mangum can hold onto the ball and possibly score a TD or make a couple big plays with the Bengals committing their coverage to stopping Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson (not to mention the run). The Bengals are the 3rd best matchup for TEs allowing 5.6 receptions, 52 yards and 0.6 TDs per game.

TE Doug Jolley - TB ( FA)

There was some talk in the past week or so about Doug Jolley seeing more playing time. We’ll see. He seemed to be emerging the previous two weeks before pitching a goose egg against the Bills last week. This week, the Falcons are the opponent. They’ve allowed the 8th most fantasy points to TEs, or 3 receptions for 47.7 yards and 0.5 TDs per game. The Patriots torched the Falcons with both of their TEs scoring TDs against them in week 5. Chris Baker remains in the fold, too, but he’s done next to nothing since abusing the Chiefs secondary in garbage time week one. Jolley is obviously a stretch. Sometimes, desperate situations call for desperate tactics. Starting Jolley would definitely fall under that category.

TE Donald Lee - FA ( FA)

See Bubba Franks and David Martin. It’s pretty simple. Every starting tight end to play Minnesota this season has scored a TD, if not two. If Bubba plays, then Bubba’s in your lineup and Martin’s a strong consideration. Leave Donald Lee alone. However, if Bubba doesn’t play, then Martin is the man and Donald Lee becomes a strong consideration in deeper leagues. If you’re desperate, Donald Lee isn’t a bad option if Franks is out.

TE Robert Royal - CLE (vs DET)

Teams have been able to throw the ball on the Ravens and the Bills passing game has worked Royal and the other Bills TEs (mainly Michael Gaines) more consistently into the offense this year, especially since Trent Edwards took over a couple weeks ago. The Ravens have done a nice job against TEs this year, but Royal, Roscoe Parrish and Josh Reed are all benefiting as targets in the short passing game while Edwards cuts his teeth against NFL defenses. Royal should benefit once again this week, so consider him if you’re in dire straits.

TE Sean Ryan - FA ( FA)

Throughout his career, Sean Ryan has largely been an extra blocker wherever he has gone in the NFL. Due to the lack of tight end options in Kansas City this year, Ryan has somehow emerged as their most viable option. In six games, he has 14 catches for 135 yards and 2 TDs. Let’s put that into perspective. In six games, he has doubled his career numbers accumulated over the last four seasons playing for five different teams. Prior to this year, Ryan had career totals of 14 catches, 112 yards and no TDs. This week, Ryan has a chance to sneak in another touchdown or at least make a few catches against a Chargers defense allowing four catches, 58 yards and 0.8 TDs per game to opposing tight ends. Sean Ryan isn’t nearly as athletic as Tony Scheffler or Heath Miller, but those two put some things on tape for the Chiefs coaches to possibly exploit this week. Scheffler produced 6-101-1 against the Chargers on Monday night while Miller caught 8 balls for 70 yards and 2 TDs against them two weeks ago.

TE Ben Watson - BAL (at CHI)

Watson is turning into one of the bigger teases in recent years at the TE position. He’s like a poor man’s Vernon Davis, though that’s probably giving too much credit to Davis. Watson had an excellent matchup last week, but was targeted only twice and he came away empty handed. With just three receptions on the season, Watson is an incredibly bad reach, but it’s all about the matchup. The Broncos are allowing 5/62/0.3 per game to opposing TEs.




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