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Week 1 Fantasy Football Matchups

Senior Fantasy Writer
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To prepare you as best we can for your week of Fantasy Football, we've devised this series of previews for each NFL game. We'll give you a taste of what to expect, then rank each significant Fantasy contributor on a scale from 0-5 logos (with five logos suggesting can't-miss; a player or unit without any logos suggests you probably shouldn't start him under any circumstances). The rankings take the matchup into account, but injuries and other significant factors also contribute.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
Thursday, 8:30 pm, Superdome
The Vikings' line is healthy and running back Adrian Peterson is too. He's also got a chip on his shoulder after dealing with fumbling concerns all offseason. There's no better way for Peterson to get some vindication, protect quarterback Brett Favre and keep the Saints' offense off the field than for the power back to work early and often. The Saints' run defense is already down a starting linebacker, so using Peterson should be very attractive for the Vikings, eventually setting up play-action for Favre to connect with Bernard Berrian long and Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe with short range passing. Lest we forget that Peterson scored three times and rushed for 122 yards in the NFC title game loss in January. The Saints couldn't run on the Vikings in that game, and that was when everyone was gassed at the end of the season. Expect the Saints to put the ball in the air more than the Vikings, relying on their most talented weapon, Drew Brees. He'll be hurried by the Vikings' pass rush but is a pro at manipulating defenses that are too aggressive with the blitz. The matchup he'll crave is Devery Henderson or Robert Meachem lined up against cornerback Lito Sheppard. That could cost the Vikings big. Look for Brees to attack the edges with those guys and Reggie Bush, staying away from his bigger targets until he's in the red zone.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Brett Favre QB Drew Brees
Adrian Peterson RB Pierre Thomas
Albert Young   RB Reggie Bush
Percy Harvin WR Marques Colston
Bernard Berrian WR Robert Meachem
Greg Camarillo WR Devery Henderson
Visanthe Shiancoe TE Jeremy Shockey
Ryan Longwell K Garrett Hartley
Vikings DST Saints
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Soldier Field
We're going to get a good idea of how the Lions' offensive line operates in this game. The Bears' defensive line is much better with the addition of Julius Peppers and a healthy Tommie Harris in the middle. Throw in Brian Urlacher back in the middle of the defense, and it's going to be a potentially tough day for the Lions. That said, they do have very talented players, and if Matthew Stafford is going to take steps forward in his production in 2010 he'll need to adjust to things like this every week. It wouldn't be a shock to see the Lions try and negate Peppers with plenty of running -- including draw plays -- as well as screen passes to all of their backs and receivers. Stafford and Calvin Johnson connected for 133 yards last year, so there shouldn't be many worries about that combo here. Stafford has a shot to put up some nice stats. The Bears get what might prove to be their best matchup of the season: Playing at home against a weak Lions secondary and not-quite-ready defensive line. No excuses here, they should put up big totals. Three of Matt Forte's five career 100-yard games have come against the Lions, so he's sure to be involved alongside Chester Taylor. Even Greg Olsen could get a cookie against the Lions' weak safeties.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matthew Stafford QB Jay Cutler
Jahvid Best RB Matt Forte
Kevin Smith RB Chester Taylor
Calvin Johnson WR Johnny Knox
Nate Burleson WR Devin Hester
Tony Scheffler TE Greg Olsen
Jason Hanson K Robbie Gould
Lions DST Bears
Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Raymond James Stadium
There's a lot to like about the Browns' Week 1 matchup at Tampa Bay: Two rookie defensive tackles, suspect outside linebackers, cornerback Aqib Talib suspended and safety Sean Jones starting. Lots of question marks for the Bucs to try and mask, and the Browns have appeared to be efficient offensively this summer. Jerome Harrison is a good candidate to lead the Browns' charge (though he will lose touches to Peyton Hillis ), and tight end Benjamin Watson has a pretty good-looking matchup against the Tampa Bay safeties -- we've seen Jake Delhomme target his tight ends pretty early on. The Bucs have to see this as a potential win, and despite all the wonderful things we've heard about Mike Williams and Josh Freeman this summer, Cadillac Williams is the guy who can deliver the victory. Tampa Bay made a huge statement when they cut Derrick Ward, and it's likely on the coaches' minds to prove that they were right to make that move by spoon feeding Williams. The matchup is great for him, especially if defensive beast Shaun Rogers doesn't play for the Browns. The Bucs can lead the charge with Williams and then change it up with downfield strikes to Mike Williams and tight end Kellen Winslow, who undoubtedly is looking to show up his former team.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Jake Delhomme QB Josh Freeman
Jerome Harrison RB Cadillac Williams
Peyton Hillis RB Kareem Huggins
Josh Cribbs WR Mike Williams
Mohamed Massaquoi WR Sammie Stroughter
Brian Robiskie WR Arrelious Benn
Benjamin Watson TE Kellen Winslow
Phil Dawson K Connor Barth
Browns DST Buccaneers
Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Heinz Field
Tough matchup for the Falcons' offense, tremendous matchup for the Falcons' defense. The Steelers' defense is at full strength and nothing like they were when we last saw them. The Falcons are the type of club to try and run on anyone, but last year Michael Turner was turned back by the likes of Dolphins, Patriots and Cowboys. He scored on two of those 3-4 defenses but otherwise couldn't get much going on the ground. Turner has a history of struggling against really tough, really disciplined 3-4 units, and the Steelers qualify. That's going to leave the game in the hands of Matt Ryan. He's got a good O-line to protect him, but his history in games against top-shelf 3-4 defenses typically has suggested good touchdown production but not much in the way of yardage. Roddy White has the best chance to score. The Falcons' defense is improved and they should feast against a Steelers' offensive line already hurting and a quarterback in Dennis Dixon making his second NFL start. Expect the Falcons to load up the box and slow down Rashard Mendenhall and force the issue with Dixon's arm. The Steelers were in a similar situation in Dixon's first start a year ago against Baltimore and he didn't completely disappoint. But he had a better O-line then and a deeper receiving corps, and those two differences could make for a long game for Pittsburgh. This might be a low-scoring affair, which doesn't help Fantasy owners much.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Ryan QB Dennis Dixon
Michael Turner RB Rashard Mendenhall
Jerious Norwood   RB Isaac Redman
Roddy White WR Mike Wallace
Harry Douglas   WR Hines Ward
Tony Gonzalez TE Heath Miller
Matt Bryant K Jeff Reed
Falcons DST Steelers
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans
Sunday, 1:00 pm, LP Field
Many teams run the ball to keep the ball out of the opposing team's quarterback's hands. The Raiders will run the ball and administer a short-area pass attack to keep the ball out of Chris Johnson's hands. They should be mildly successful as the Titans' linebackers are essentially backups; their two-headed run game of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush should find ways to move the chains, as should Zach Miller against the Titans' safeties. Everything else will be tough for the Raiders, and if the Titans' underrated pass rush can get to Jason Campbell, the Raiders' house of cards will come crashing down. As for Tennessee, expect Johnson to register his 12th straight 100-yard rushing game dating back to last season. The Titans should be able to ride Johnson's coattails and use play-action to hit targets away from Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Expect plenty of running in this game.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Jason Campbell QB Vince Young
Darren McFadden RB Chris Johnson
Michael Bush RB Javon Ringer
Louis Murphy WR Nate Washington
Darrius Heyward-Bey   WR Kenny Britt
Zach Miller TE Bo Scaife
Sebastian Janikowski K Rob Bironas
Raiders DST Titans
Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, 1:00 pm, EverBank Field
It's going to be hard to trust Knowshon Moreno in this game. He didn't play this offseason because of a significant hamstring injury, and he even admitted this week that he'll need a little time to get used to the speed of the game. The Jaguars run defense was improved this offseason, and their combination of Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu could be difficult for the Broncos' interior O-line to handle. They also added Kirk Morrison to a pretty good group of linebackers, so running might not be the best way for the Broncos to operate. Passing, however, should be good, especially against the Jaguars' very suspect safeties. That said, Denver doesn't have much in the way of slot presences beyond Eddie Royal, and Fantasy owners aren't about to trust him in Week 1. Perhaps they'll use Jabar Gaffney in the slot and keep him away from Jags cornerback Rashean Mathis to move the chains. Kyle Orton doesn't stand to put up big stats despite this matchup. As for Jacksonville, they've done nothing to improve the offense but should find the going good on the ground. Look for a heaping dose of Maurice Jones-Drew to pace Jacksonville, but David Garrard could have a hard time against a talented Broncos secondary.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kyle Orton QB David Garrard
Knowshon Moreno RB Maurice Jones-Drew
Correll Buckhalter   RB Rashad Jennings
Jabar Gaffney WR Mike Sims-Walker
Eddie Royal WR Mike Thomas
Daniel Graham   TE Marcedes Lewis
Matt Prater K Josh Scobee
Broncos DST Jaguars
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Reliant Stadium
Peyton Manning should throw early and often here. The Texans secondary has rookie Kareem Jackson starting and will be without blitzer Brian Cushing, so it's an optimal time for Manning to connect with his receivers. Reggie Wayne might look especially appealing as he could see a lot of Jackson lining up against him. If safety coverage rolls toward Wayne to help the rookie, it could lead to a field day for Dallas Clark and potentially slot receiver Austin Collie. Joseph Addai has scored in each of his last four against Houston though his yardage has been spotty -- with the Colts' O-line not at full strength vs. a healthy Texans' front, that trend could continue. Houston should have the confidence to bring a balanced attack after a strong preseason by their offensive line and running back Arian Foster. The Texans might figure they have an edge rushing against the Colts' front seven thanks to their line. Of course, the Texans can also match firepower with the Colts and throw the ball if need be, and it's safe to assume that they'll put the ball up. They're likely expecting to play a high-scoring game. The focus for the Texans will be to not make mistakes and to rely on the ground game to help set up the pass. Look for plenty of points here.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Peyton Manning QB Matt Schaub
Joseph Addai RB Arian Foster
Donald Brown   RB Steve Slaton
Reggie Wayne WR Andre Johnson
Pierre Garcon WR Jacoby Jones
Anthony Gonzalez WR Kevin Walter
Dallas Clark TE Owen Daniels
Adam Vinatieri K Neil Rackers
Colts DST Texans
Carolina Panthers at N.Y. Giants
Sunday, 1:00 pm, New Meadowlands Stadium
Expect a lot of running. That's what the Panthers do best, and that's where they've flourished against the Giants specifically. Last year Jonathan Stewart was a one-man wrecking crew, bashing the G-Men for over 200 rush yards and a touchdown and in 2008 DeAngelo Williams piled up over 100 yards with four touchdowns. Both Panthers backs are appealing based on the history alone, but take a look at the Giants' interior D-line and linebackers and Carolina's cats look even better. Williams is a lock to impress and Stewart should pitch in while knocking his rust off (around 12 touches, nothing huge). Note that this does leave Steve Smith in a tough spot; between him coming off of a broken arm and the Panthers' inability to throw well, this isn't a good time to count on him. The Giants have a pair of beast backs of their own, and both of them should put up numbers. The Panthers' defensive line is a big question mark, and middle linebacker Dan Connor isn't exactly battle-tested. The Giants would be wise to soften them up with Brandon Jacobs and then let Ahmad Bradshaw work his magic. Jacobs could easily score a goal-liner. Eli Manning could have some trouble with the Panthers' quality starting cornerbacks but Carolina has no depth beyond Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall, so finding matchups for the receivers to exploit -- particularly the big-bodied Hakeem Nicks -- shouldn't be a problem. Tack on a limited Panthers pass rush that should allow Manning plenty of time to throw, and the Giants should have a quality game.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Moore QB Eli Manning
DeAngelo Williams RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Jonathan Stewart RB Brandon Jacobs
Steve Smith WR Steve Smith
Dwayne Jarrett   WR Hakeem Nicks
Brandon LaFell   WR Mario Manningham
Jeff King   TE Kevin Boss
John Kasay K Lawrence Tynes
Panthers DST Giants
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Gillette Stadium
Tough spot for the Bengals to begin 2010, but they'll get a chance to test out their improved passing game. Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens will face inexperienced corners in Devin McCourty and Darius Butler. And not only is the New England secondary green, but its pass rush is a big question mark. Carson Palmer shouldn't get harassed, and that could spell trouble for the Pats. The Bengals can negate any sort of troublesome front seven of the Patriots with their mean O-line and Cedric Benson rushing 20-plus times. He's got a nice matchup. The game looks to be harder for New England as the Patriots don't have as strong of an offensive line as in the past (no Logan Mankins), and the Bengals' starting cornerbacks are pretty talented. But Bill Belichick can find weaknesses in any team, and we suspect he'll attack the Bengals' safeties with a heavy dose of middle-of-the-field passing. That's right up Wes Welker's alley, and it could open the door for rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to contribute right away. And by hitting the mid-range passes there, the Bengals' pass rush can't routinely bug Tom Brady. Randy Moss should find a way to get his, too, but this could be a breakout week for the Pats' new tight ends.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Carson Palmer QB Tom Brady
Cedric Benson RB Fred Taylor
Chad Ochocinco WR Randy Moss
Terrell Owens WR Wes Welker
Jermaine Gresham TE Rob Gronkowski
Mike Nugent K Stephen Gostkowski
Bengals DST Patriots
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Ralph Wilson Stadium
The Dolphins' recent history of running on the Bills is well-documented, and it should continue here. Last season Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams each had a 100-yard effort against Buffalo in two games while totaling four touchdowns. Even with the Dolphins hoping to establish Brandon Marshall in their offense, you have to figure they're going to run the rock early and often against a Bills' weak run defense already down a couple of starters in its first game as a 3-4 unit. Marshall should get involved, as might tight end Anthony Fasano via the play-action pass. Not a bad matchup for Chad Henne, though there are better Fantasy options out there. The Bills will go with Trent Edwards at quarterback and C.J. Spiller at running back -- one is certainly more appealing than the other. Edwards doesn't have great targets and won't be able to take advantage of the Dolphins' reeling secondary. Spiller, though, might be able to crack a couple of runs against a Dolphins defense that is starting two rookies in the front seven. Look for the Bills to establish Spiller and then try to go over the top to Lee Evans when the Fins are expecting the run. Also, keep an eye on receiver Roscoe Parrish -- if the Bills use him like the Patriots use Wes Welker, he could end up being of use this year (but not this week).
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Chad Henne QB Trent Edwards
Ronnie Brown RB C.J. Spiller
Ricky Williams RB Fred Jackson
Brandon Marshall WR Lee Evans
Brian Hartline WR Roscoe Parrish
Anthony Fasano TE Jonathan Stupar
Dan Carpenter K Rian Lindell
Dolphins DST Bills
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams
Sunday, 4:15 pm, Edward Jones Dome
Figure this to be a fifth preseason game for the Cardinals. Really, the Rams' secondary and pass rush shouldn't be much of a problem for the Arizona offense, and their run defense isn't expected to hamper the Birds either. Thus, expect the Cardinals to use this opportunity for Derek Anderson to gain some more experience with the first-team offense, namely Larry Fitzgerald. At the same time they should be in a position to really pound the football. With Beanie Wells dealing with a knee injury, much of the workload could fall on Tim Hightower, who has a touchdown in three of four career games with the Rams. We like him a lot. St. Louis' situation is the exact opposite: This is a difficult matchup for them all the way around. Steven Jackson will be the constant for the Rams, though the Cardinals will drop safety Adrian Wilson toward the line of scrimmage and dare the Rams to throw in non-obvious passing situations. With the Rams adding potentially their best receiver in a trade this week, there could be some struggles for rookie Sam Bradford and his receivers. Until some stability is established, no one from the Rams other than Jackson should be considered worth starting in Fantasy.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Derek Anderson QB Sam Bradford
Tim Hightower RB Steven Jackson
Beanie Wells RB Kenneth Darby
Larry Fitzgerald WR Laurent Robinson
Steve Breaston WR Danny Amendola
Early Doucet   WR Mark Clayton
Ben Patrick   TE Daniel Fells
Jay Feely K Josh Brown
Cardinals DST Rams
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, 4:15 pm, Lincoln Financial Field
It wouldn't shock us if the Packers picked up where they left off and came out gunning against the Eagles. Philadelphia's secondary is big on names but not necessarily stringent discipline. Look for the Packers to try and get Jermichael Finley one-on-one with a safety (especially rookie Nate Allen) or Greg Jennings alone on cornerback Ellis Hobbs and pick up chunks of yardage. What about Ryan Grant? If the Packers build a lead, he typically lands 20 carries and a good chance to be productive. Look for that scenario. The Eagles should be equally feisty through the air, though they'll have some trouble on the ground. The Packers' run defense should be up to snuff after an up-and-down preseason, and LeSean McCoy might have to make his impact via the pass. Kevin Kolb will also have to deal with the Packers' pass rush, and if the game gets one-sided he might end up having to throw almost exclusively. That should especially benefit DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek, though end-zone visits might not come too easy for the Eagles in this one.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Aaron Rodgers QB Kevin Kolb
Ryan Grant RB LeSean McCoy
Brandon Jackson   RB Mike Bell
Greg Jennings WR DeSean Jackson
Donald Driver WR Jeremy Maclin
Jermichael Finley TE Brent Celek
Mason Crosby K David Akers
Packers DST Eagles
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, 4:15 pm, Qwest Field
Frank Gore's mostly incredible history against the Seahawks should continue again in Week 1. Seattle's D-line is very much in rebuilding mode and their linebackers don't have a sustained pedigree for being run stuffers. Gore has had one bad game in his last four against Seattle, and with the 'Hawks getting young fast on both sides of the ball, the 49ers should be able to lean on their run game (that means some work for Anthony Dixon, too). Remember, Vernon Davis (knee) and Michael Crabtree (neck) aren't quite 100 percent. The Seahawks' best bet to beat the 49ers? Their offensive line is a mess, their quarterback is ancient, their receivers are either brittle or inexperienced and their running backs are good players caught in the middle. My hunch is that they'll lean on Justin Forsett and Leon Washington, possibly also trying to find mismatches involving John Carlson and Golden Tate. But it's hard to trust Seahawks here unless you're looking for players to put up some numbers in garbage time.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Alex Smith QB Matt Hasselbeck
Frank Gore RB Justin Forsett
Anthony Dixon RB Leon Washington
Michael Crabtree WR Mike Williams
Josh Morgan   WR Deion Branch
Vernon Davis TE John Carlson
Joe Nedney K Olindo Mare
49ers DST Seahawks
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Sunday, 8:20 pm, FedEx Field
A month ago, this game looked like an easy win for the Cowboys. Now it might not be so easy because the Dallas offensive line has been hammered by injuries. That evens the matchup for the Redskins, namely their run defense vs. the Cowboys' rush attack, but there's still the issue of Tony Romo and his receivers. In the past, Romo has been hot and cold against Washington, but this is a new Redskins regime led by Jim Haslett. They'll likely try to pressure Romo through the weaknesses in his line, forcing him to make quick decisions. That's a good strategy, especially since Romo has passed for over 300 yards in each of his three Kickoff Weekend starts with a total of eight touchdowns. The belief here is that Romo's receiving corps will be too much for the Redskins to handle, namely Miles Austin against cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers. Also look for Dallas to try and rope safety Reed Doughty into single coverage and reap the rewards. The Redskins offense could be out of sync after not playing with Donovan McNabb over the last couple of weeks. This matchup is especially bad for McNabb -- he's never had great numbers against the Cowboys and he'll be taking them on with a weaker supporting cast. We suspect the Redskins will try and mix Clinton Portis runs with McNabb taking shots to his tight ends (yes, both Chris Cooley and Fred Davis) along with deeper shots to Santana Moss. Like the Cowboys vs. Doughty, look for the Redskins to find matchups they like against Dallas safety Alan Ball and try to move the chains. This might end up being a low-scoring game with both defenses looking good -- if that's the case, kicker David Buehler is a tremendous sleeper.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Tony Romo QB Donovan McNabb
Marion Barber RB Clinton Portis
Felix Jones RB Larry Johnson
Miles Austin WR Santana Moss
Roy E. Williams WR Anthony Armstrong
Jason Witten TE Chris Cooley
David Buehler K Graham Gano
Cowboys DST Redskins
Baltimore Ravens at N.Y. Jets
Monday, 7:00 pm, New Meadowlands Stadium
If you go by what last year's stats and this year's hype suggests, the Ravens won't be able to throw or run against the Jets. But if you review the Jets' games against strong, efficient offenses with capable offensive lines, you'll see that they gave up some points -- mostly through the air. Peyton Manning threw for 377 yards on them in the playoffs, Tom Brady put up 310 yards against them in the regular season and on occasion good, versatile backs such as Ronnie Brown, Pierre Thomas and Maurice Jones-Drew found room to run and score on Gang Green. Joe Flacco might not be established like Manning or Brady, but he's got an amazing receiving corps that might help him get close to their level. Also, the Ravens have a versatile back in Ray Rice, who should be good enough to total at least 100 total yards, though scoring is a risky call since he loses goal-line reps and the Jets defense is healthy. The Jets are susceptible to short-area passing, and the addition of T.J. Houshmandzadeh along with guys like Derrick Mason and Todd Heap give Flacco some sure-handed targets. What about Anquan Boldin? Call me crazy, but the Ravens didn't bring him into the fold to watch the action. Even if Darrelle Revis is draped all over him, expect Boldin to see several targets -- I don't see the Ravens scared of throwing in Revis' direction, at least not at first. I think the Ravens find ways to score while the Jets struggle. It's a good matchup for the Ravens, who are healthy enough in their front seven to put the clamps on Shonn Greene and force Mark Sanchez to throw. Baltimore's secondary is messy, but without Santonio Holmes to really cause headaches (he's suspended), they should match up well with the Jets. It's a tough week to start anyone from New York -- only teams with massive offenses and solid tight ends have done a number on the Ravens, which means Dustin Keller is as close to a sleeper as you can get.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Joe Flacco QB Mark Sanchez
Ray Rice RB Shonn Greene
Willis McGahee RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Anquan Boldin WR Jerricho Cotchery
Derrick Mason WR Braylon Edwards
T.J. Houshmandzadeh WR Brad Smith
Todd Heap TE Dustin Keller
Billy Cundiff K Nick Folk
Ravens DST Jets
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Monday, 10:15 pm, Arrowhead Stadium
In two games with the Chiefs last season the Chargers averaged 40 points with Philip Rivers totaling five touchdowns and 585 yards with no interceptions. The Chiefs added playmaking safety Eric Berry to their mix, but he's the only difference between last year's weak Chiefs defense and this year's version. That spells success for Rivers, even without Vincent Jackson (169 yards, one TD in two games vs. Kansas City). The matchup to watch will be Berry vs. Antonio Gates, but keep an eye on Darren Sproles here as he's got a pretty healthy track record against Kansas City. He'll get involved, and the Chiefs will get the first look at rookie Ryan Mathews, who has a favorable matchup and should see 20 touches easy. Expect the Chiefs to be crafty to find a way to win, leaning on their two-headed rushing attack to take some pressure off of Matt Cassel, who threw two touchdowns and four interceptions in two games against San Diego last year. Cassel is also expected to utilize the short pass with the likes of Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster receiving some easy targets. That will call off the Chargers' blitz and give them a chance to strike downfield. This could end up being a closer game than previous Chargers-Chiefs tilts, but much of it will depend on how well Kansas City holds on to the ball.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Philip Rivers QB Matt Cassel
Ryan Mathews RB Jamaal Charles
Darren Sproles RB Thomas Jones
Malcom Floyd WR Dwayne Bowe
Patrick Crayton WR Dexter McCluster
Legedu Naanee   WR Chris Chambers
Antonio Gates TE Tony Moeaki
Nate Kaeding K Ryan Succop
Chargers DST Chiefs

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
James Harrison scheduled for Cardinals physical Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:35 pm ET) Free agent linebacker James Harrison is scheduled to take a physical for the Cardinals Friday, the Arizona Republic reports.

While it appears the sides are working towards a deal, it "isn't a foregone conclusion" Harrison signs with Arizona. He visited the Cardinals Wednesday.


Wes Welker cleared to travel with team
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:33 pm ET) Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker has been cleared to travel with the team for Thursday's preseason finale against the Cowboys, the Denver Post reports.

Welker is recovering from a concussion and has yet to be cleared to engage in contact. He was wearing a more-padded helmet when he took the hit that led to his third concussion in the last 10 months. The receiver's status for Week 1 is still up in the air.


Titans work out a trio of kickers
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:53 pm ET) Veteran kickers Garrett Hartley, Jay Feely and Rian Lindell all worked out for the Titans, reports the Tennessean.

49ers undecided about No. 3 receiver
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:38 pm ET) Quinton Patton, not Steve Johnson, served as the 49ers' third receiver Sunday against the Chargers, notes the Sacramento Bee. Coach Jim Harbaugh told the paper that he hasn't decided who will fill that role during the season.

Johnson told the paper he's still working to build chemistry with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.


Jurrell Casey gets lucrative four-year extension
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:35 pm ET) Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey signed a four-year contract extension worth $36 million, including $20.5 million guaranteed, his agent told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Casey had 10.5 sacks and 55 tackles last year.

Morris Claiborne expected to miss entire preseason again
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:23 pm ET) Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne probably won't play in Thursday's preseason finale, marking the second straight preseason in which he has not played a down, reports ESPN.com. Claiborne missed this year's preseason opener with knee tendinitis and the past two games due to a sprained AC joint in his shoulder.

Claiborne returned to practice this week, but likely will be held out against the Broncos. "Just not worth the risk to go backwards," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said.

Mark Ingram 'healthy, fit and decisive'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:17 pm ET) Saints running back Mark Ingram, a 2011 first-round pick, "is ready to put together his best NFL season," reports the team's website. "Ingram is healthy, fit and decisive as a runner."

Ingram has rushed for 148 yards on 21 carries (7.0 ypc) this preseason while catching two passes for 27 yards and scoring two touchdowns. "We saw a snapshot of the player Ingram could be at the end of last season," the website said. "He looks even better than he did then."


Cowboys claim Jemea Thomas
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:01 pm ET) The Cowboys claimed rookie defensive back Jemea Thomas off waivers from the Patriots. Thomas was a sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech.

Pete Carroll: Paul Richardson is 'very consistent'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:51 pm ET) Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said rookie wideout Paul Richardson has "done really good stuff" and been "very consistent on the practice field," reports the Seattle Times.

"He shows that he understands the offense and can make adjustments to the routes and can read things and all that," Carroll added. "It’s always hard for all those young guys to be exactly right all the time. They’re going to miss some things, which he’s done in really typical fashion. But he has shown toughness, he’s shown route running ability, he’s caught tough balls underneath, he’s got open deep. We really think he’s got a chance to help us, so we’re real excited about his progress."


Report: Tom Brady 'not happy' with Logan Mankins trade
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:11 pm ET) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was "not happy" with the trade of guard Logan Mankins to the Buccaneers, reports Bleacher Report's Jason Cole. He added that Brady had an "emotional reaction" to the move, which landed New England tight end Timothy Wright and saved the team more than $5.7 million.

 
 
 
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