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Week 15 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. You should be able to compare the ratings for the players on your team and make an educated pick on who should start -- and sit -- in your lineup .

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Texans at Titans - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Hello, scoring! Both teams have all sorts of holes on defense and plenty of potential on offense, so there should be plenty of Fantasy heroes here. Surely, Andre Johnson will lobby for the ball so he can show up rival cornerback Cortland Finnegan, but there are other matchups here that are really appealing. Owen Daniels got more involved in the Texans' operation last week and faces a defense that he scored on earlier this season, and Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter will take turns going up against Titans cornerback Jason McCourty, who was abused by Pierre Garcon last week. And then there's Arian Foster, who had over 200 total yards a few weeks back against the Titans. Tennessee has been atrocious against opposing rushers since Week 8 when their front seven began incurring injuries. They've allowed seven touchdowns, 740 rushing yards and 319 receiving yards to running backs in their last six matchups. If you think all the Texans' stars are worth starting, then you should feel the same way about the Titans' studs. Chris Johnson didn't get much of a chance to shine at Houston in Week 12, and judging by the playcalling last week, he should make amends here. His game will open the door for Kerry Collins to build off his nice outing last week and attack a Texans pass defense that has slowed down only one quarterback this season: Rusty Smith. It really helps Collins that Kenny Britt is back and has had a week to work off the rust from his hamstring issue; the two should connect for a big score in this one. Even Bo Scaife is a solid sleeper. If you're in a pinch at quarterback (lost Aaron Rodgers, been dealing with Kyle Orton or other weak options), give Collins a long look.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Schaub QB Kerry Collins
Arian Foster RB Chris Johnson
Andre Johnson WR Kenny Britt
Jacoby Jones WR Nate Washington
Owen Daniels TE Bo Scaife
Neil Rackers K Rob Bironas
Texans DST Titans
Saints at Ravens - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
This should be a fun game. The Saints must have loved watching the Texans come back throwing the football on Monday against the Ravens because it gives them all sorts of potential to do the exact same thing. The longer Drew Brees can keep the Ravens pass rush off of him, the better he'll do throwing the ball (that was crucial for Schaub last week). He's been sacked only 19 times this year and his O-line should protect him throughout the game. Marques Colston is an obvious target, particularly because he plays from the same spot Andre Johnson typically does on the field and should be strong against cornerback Josh Wilson. Where does this leave the running backs? Keep an eye on Reggie Bush -- he tends to get more work in the tougher road games for the Saints and can cool off a pass rush with a quick catch-and-go. Chris Ivory is unlikely to play, meaning that Pierre Thomas could end up with a decent amount of carries. Don't count on him doing well since the Ravens haven't given up a rushing score in five weeks (but they have allowed two passing touchdowns to running backs in that span). The Ravens will lean on their ground game more than the Saints will, partially because that's where New Orleans is most vulnerable. The Saints have allowed either a rush touchdown or 110 rush yards to a team in six of their last seven games, and given how good their secondary has played, you can look to Ray Rice and Willis McGahee to get a lot of work. That secondary is a reason to not trust Joe Flacco in Week 15, but the other side of the coin is that he's great at home and his receivers have been coming through for him. Derrick Mason has been especially strong (23 catches, 277 yards, four touchdowns in his last five) and Flacco will keep eyeballing him because Anquan Boldin is drawing the tighter coverage. The Saints could really make a statement in this game with a win.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Drew Brees QB Joe Flacco
Reggie Bush RB Ray Rice
Pierre Thomas RB Willis McGahee
Marques Colston WR Derrick Mason
Lance Moore WR Anquan Boldin
Robert Meachem WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Jeremy Shockey   TE Ed Dickson
Garrett Hartley K Billy Cundiff
Saints DST Ravens
Browns at Bengals - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Colt McCoy is expected back for the Browns, but it doesn't really matter who is under center here. Peyton Hillis has seen his stats get stuffed over the last two weeks by the Dolphins and Bills (the latter being a major shocker), but he remains the key force in the Cleveland offense. The expectations remain high for Hillis against a Bengals run defense that will be overmatched by the Browns' offensive line, an issue they didn't have last week with the Steelers' sagging front five. Cleveland is conservative with their pass attack, but teams have not shied away from taking shots at the Bengals, specifically their safeties and cornerback Jonathan Wade. Benjamin Watson might be easier to trust in Fantasy than receiver Brian Robiskie, but both could stand to benefit from the weak coverage (Mohamed Massaquoi will likely draw cornerback Leon Hall in coverage, and if Johnathan Joseph returns for the Bengals then Robiskie will be in for a fight). The Bengals offense tends to play better when they get Cedric Benson rolling, and that should be part of their plan here. Cleveland's run defense did a number on Benson in Week 4 but has started to bend a little bit over the last five weeks, giving up an average of 132 rush yards per game. If Benson can gain ground then Carson Palmer won't have all the pressure on his shoulders against an opportunistic Browns pass rush that is sure to attack him much like the Steelers did last week. Palmer threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns in his first game this year against the Browns but they've come alive against the pass thanks to rapid growth by rookies Joe Haden and T.J. Ward in the secondary. This will be a big test for the Browns as Terrell Owens exploded for 222 yards and a touchdown in the earlier meeting. Haden will see a lot of him. There's a chance for T.O., Chad Ochocinco and even Jermaine Gresham to help.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Jake Delhomme QB Carson Palmer
Peyton Hillis RB Cedric Benson
Brian Robiskie WR Terrell Owens
Mohamed Massaquoi WR Chad Ochocinco
Benjamin Watson TE Jermaine Gresham
Phil Dawson K Clint Stitser
Browns DST Bengals
Jaguars at Colts - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
The whole world knows what the Jaguars are going to do in this game: Run the football. It's so obvious that they could run play-action on their first play from scrimmage and trick the Colts' front seven. Teams never like to be this predictable, but the only 11 guys who can do something about it are on the Colts' defense, and they haven't been able to stop anyone on the ground (well, there was Cedric Benson in Week 10 and Laurence Maroney in Week 3). Maurice Jones-Drew should post his seventh-straight 100-yard game here and perhaps his third straight game with a rushing and receiving touchdown against the Colts. His history against them is unreal. And if the Colts are honed in on him, as they should be, David Garrard will have some opportunities to throw to targets in single coverage. Marcedes Lewis isn't a bad guy to ride with at tight end; he scored earlier this year against the Colts and Indy has given up six touchdowns in five games to tight ends. That's not a typo. Now you know it's obvious what the Jaguars will do on offense, and it's just as obvious what to expect from the Colts' offense: Passing, passing, passing. Jacksonville's pass rush is in the tank, its pass defense is a joke. Peyton Manning should have a monster afternoon hitting all of his targets. If there's a gimme matchup, it's whoever can get single coverage against defensive back Don Carey, who was abused by the Raiders last week even though he picked off a pass. Austin Collie is expected back, which means Manning's totals will be even better, but counting on him to help your team is about a week too premature.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
David Garrard QB Peyton Manning
Maurice Jones-Drew RB Javarris James
Rashad Jennings RB Donald Brown
Mike Thomas WR Reggie Wayne
Mike Sims-Walker   WR Pierre Garcon
Marcedes Lewis TE Jacob Tamme
Josh Scobee K Adam Vinatieri
Jaguars   DST Colts
Redskins at Cowboys - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
A late-week change puts Rex Grossman under center for the Redskins for the rest of the season as head coach Mike Shanahan wants to see what he has in the passer. He can't look at his past film? Grossman is a slightly worse version of McNabb: Just as strong of an arm but even more inaccurate. His presence will hurt the Redskins passing game even though he's knowledgeable of the Shanahan's offensive system. The Cowboys have a pass rush ready to harass the veteran, just as they did in Week 1 to Donovan McNabb (171 yards, no touchdowns). Expect Washington to take some downfield shots like the Eagles did last week, but it's hard to expect Grossman to play well. Ryan Torain will assuredly pick up a big chunk of the offensive workload with Grossman in there, and Dallas' run defense has been pretty poor for three straight weeks. There could be room for Torain to get off to a hot start and put up some nice yardage, but don't expect the Cowboys defense to struggle like the Buccaneers' banged-up defense did a week ago. Washington's pass defense has actually not allowed a lot of stats; only Michael Vick last week has thrown a touchdown against them since Week 11. Expect the Cowboys to keep a balanced approach, running the ball with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice and passing with Jon Kitna. Jason Witten has become a must-start again in Fantasy and is a problem for the Redskins, and Miles Austin has 19 catches for 238 yards and a touchdown in his last two games against the Redskins. Austin's tough to trust because he's been so cold and fluky with his production lately, but he should still be a factor here based on his past production.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Rex Grossman QB Jon Kitna
Ryan Torain RB Felix Jones
Keiland Williams   RB Tashard Choice
Santana Moss WR Miles Austin
Anthony Armstrong WR Roy Williams
Chris Cooley TE Jason Witten
Graham Gano K David Buehler
Redskins DST Cowboys
Cardinals at Panthers - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
You don't need to be a graduate of Fordham or Notre Dame to know there's going to be a lot of running in this one. Both teams are in the bottom 10 vs. the run and have allowed 37 total touchdowns to running backs on the season (18 by Arizona, 19 by Carolina). And both run games take pressure off of both young quarterbacks, another positive for the teams. If there's an edge in the passing game it goes to the Cardinals, just because Larry Fitzgerald is on their side. Just expect big games from Jonathan Stewart, Mike Goodson, Tim Hightower and a real sleeper -- Beanie Wells.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
John Skelton QB Jimmy Clausen
Tim Hightower RB Jonathan Stewart
Beanie Wells RB Mike Goodson
Larry Fitzgerald WR Steve Smith
Steve Breaston WR Brandon LaFell
Jay Feely K John Kasay
Cardinals DST Panthers
Lions at Buccaneers - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Don't look now, but the Lions run game has gotten a spark just in time for a delicious matchup against the banged-up Buccaneers. In two games against the Bears and Packers -- two solid run defenses -- Detroit's running backs totaled 266 yards on 57 carries (4.6 avg.). It's a cinch that the Lions will test the Bucs' depleted front with Jahvid Best and Maurice Morris, and both have some potential. Tampa Bay's secondary isn't very healthy, either, and you can be sure that Calvin Johnson won't be hounded and harassed like he was last week. Brandon Pettigrew should also enjoy soft coverage. Put it this way: If Donovan McNabb can have his best game of his lousy season against this Bucs defense, so can the Lions' starting quarterback (Drew Stanton for now, but Shaun Hill could get the nod). Tampa Bay has allowed two passing touchdowns to each of the last three passers it has faced -- there's legitimate value here. Tampa Bay also will enjoy a great matchup, especially on the ground against the Lions. Expect LeGarrette Blount to lead the Bucs' charge with the run game the primary mover of the chains. It's worth noting that since their meltdown against the Patriots the Lions have only allowed one passing touchdown, and Josh Freeman has one passing score in each of his last three. It just points to the Tampa Bay run game being all the more significant.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Drew Stanton QB Josh Freeman
Jahvid Best RB LeGarrette Blount
Maurice Morris RB Cadillac Williams
Calvin Johnson WR Mike Williams
Nate Burleson WR Arrelious Benn
Brandon Pettigrew TE Kellen Winslow
Dave Rayner K Connor Barth
Lions DST Buccaneers
Chiefs at Rams - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
The Chiefs are a running team, and they're sure to use Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones plenty in this one, but after watching the Saints overpower the Rams' banged-up secondary early on last week, you have to believe that Todd Haley and Charlie Weis will order some passing and lean on Dwayne Bowe. Obviously that plan works better with Matt Cassel under center than Brodie Croyle; with Cassel, the Rams can't stack the box to stop the run and have to respect the pass. Bowe should rebound, especially since he's facing a St. Louis pass defense that's given up six touchdowns to wide receivers over their last three games. The Rams' run defense continued to decline last week and should struggle to contain Charles. Speaking of declining run defenses, Kansas City has sagged over their last couple of games and got steamrolled by Knowshon Moreno and the Chargers' trio. That will give the Rams confidence to attack with Steven Jackson, and he can lead the way until they have to throw in the second half. Opposing passers have thrown multiple touchdowns in three of the last five against Kansas City. There's concern that Bradford has hit a rookie wall after going scoreless in his last two games; his completion percentage has cooled off as well. The Chiefs could find the going easier if they build a lead and unleash pass rusher Tamba Hali on Bradford, who has been sacked seven times over his last three games, the most of any three-game span he's had all year.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Brodie Croyle QB Sam Bradford
Jamaal Charles RB Steven Jackson
Thomas Jones RB Kenneth Darby
Dwayne Bowe WR Danny Amendola
Verran Tucker   WR Brandon Gibson
Tony Moeaki TE Daniel Fells
Ryan Succop K Josh Brown
Chiefs DST Rams
Eagles at Giants - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
The Eagles capitalized on Giants turnovers and gave Michael Vick plenty of opportunities to make plays against the Giants four weeks ago. Expect Vick to have a big hand again this week for the Eagles as they've lived and died with him all year, but it might come on the ground. Going back to their game against Philadelphia, the Giants have done well against the pass and have given up just one passing touchdown in their last four (Vick didn't have it). Where the Giants struggle is with speed -- all but two of the rushing touchdowns they've allowed all year were delivered by speed demons. Vick can use his speed out of the pocket to either run for first downs or throw deep, and judging by the way DeSean Jackson burned Dallas last week and Washington a few weeks back, it could be the Giants' turn on Sunday. It would be a surprise if the Eagles offense was shut down here. The Giants have been running the ball incredibly well with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, steamrolling the Redskins and Vikings in consecutive weeks for a grand total of 419 rush yards and six touchdowns (on 58 total carries!). That's unheard of! The Eagles' run defense has been on-and-off all season, but it's safe to expect them to be off here with the loss of run-stopping linebacker Stewart Bradley with a dislocated elbow. Look for a lot from Jacobs and Bradshaw, and the Giants need it since their receiving corps is depleted. Eli Manning can play off of his rushers for gains with Kevin Boss and Hakeem Nicks -- enough to make his stat line good, but with the ballhawking Eagles pressuring him on passing downs, the opportunity for turnovers exists.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Michael Vick QB Eli Manning
LeSean McCoy RB Brandon Jacobs
Jerome Harrison   RB Ahmad Bradshaw
DeSean Jackson WR Hakeem Nicks
Jeremy Maclin WR Mario Manningham
Brent Celek TE Kevin Boss
David Akers K Lawrence Tynes
Eagles DST Giants
Bills at Dolphins - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Things get tougher for the Bills without Lee Evans to help draw coverage away. Now Miami's safeties won't have to always play two-deep zone and can focus on keeping Steve Johnson under wraps. With two rookie receivers to play in place of Evans, expect Buffalo to lead with the run game. That's not where the matchup is favorable for Buffalo -- the Dolphins have been getting much better in defending the run. Buffalo will give Fred Jackson plenty of opportunities along with C.J. Spiller, though there's no promise either one will put up nice numbers. The sleeper in the bunch is David Nelson, a rookie with great route-running skills and Ryan Fitzpatrick's eye (12 targets, two touchdowns over the last three weeks). What's the cure for Chad Henne coming off of one of the worst games of his career? How about 25 to 30 handoffs to Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams? The Dolphins should copy what Buffalo's opponents have done all year; run the ball early and often. Brown and Williams have plenty of potential this week, and it could end up hurting the stats of Brandon Marshall and the rest of the Dolphins offense. Marshall scored last week and the case can be made to start him without concern since the Bills' pass defense isn't very good (but better than their run defense), but he's been unreliable all season and going with him in lineups now is a risk.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB Chad Henne
Fred Jackson RB Ronnie Brown
C.J. Spiller RB Ricky Williams
David Nelson WR Brandon Marshall
Steve Johnson WR Davone Bess
Jonathan Stupar   TE Anthony Fasano
Rian Lindell K Dan Carpenter
Bills DST Dolphins
Falcons at Seahawks - Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Seattle's defense won't have an answer for what the Falcons bring to town. No one is running better than Michael Turner, who is just mauling defenses, and that should continue here. Roddy White has been involved in the Falcons' offense but not in the red zone -- that should change here if only for the Falcons to re-establish him as a guy defenses must dedicate extra bodies for. The Seahawks have allowed at least three passing touchdowns to three of their last four opponents with the lone passer not having any luck being Jimmy Clausen. Matt Ryan should throw two touchdowns in his sleep and not touch the ground once (unless he's diving for yardage). Seattle will be challenged, but there's reason for some optimism: Atlanta's run defense has been slashed by the Bucs and Panthers lately (314 rush yards, two touchdowns in two games) and can be taken advantage of. It would be a surprise if the Seahawks offensive line moved around the Falcons' defenders and gave Marshawn Lynch room to operate, but based on how porous they've been it seems logical for them to at least try. The Falcons might know this and try to make a statement by shutting Lynch down. Another Seattle hope: Matt Hasselbeck will get Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu back. The Falcons have been making strides against the pass and going after Brent Grimes hasn't worked out for teams like it used to. Grimes will get a lot of Williams this week and Hasselbeck is sure to lean on him. There will be a lot of passing for the Seahawks -- not only should they play from behind here, but the Falcons are among the best in the league in terms of time of possession.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Ryan QB Matt Hasselbeck
Michael Turner RB Marshawn Lynch
Roddy White WR Mike Williams
Michael Jenkins WR Ben Obomanu
Tony Gonzalez TE Chris Baker
Matt Bryant K Olindo Mare
Falcons DST Seahawks
Broncos at Raiders - Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
We might see Kyle Orton's last start of the year here. It's clear something is off with his game, and with Nnamdi Asomugha expected to be all over Brandon Lloyd, he's going to have to go in another direction. Oakland has been burned by the deep ball, something Eddie Royal used to be reliable for. Knowshon Moreno has been the only constant in the Broncos offense and he's got a great matchup against the Raiders. He'll give the Broncos something, but if they fall behind and can't run in the second half, the Raiders will lock up another win. This is a week the Broncos would be wise to utilize a tight end, but they've been thin at that position all season long. Tough to count on Broncos in this one. The Raiders haven't won pretty ... well, except in that one game at Denver in Week 7. Look for a lot of Darren McFadden from Oakland against a Denver run defense that's had the doors blown off it since Week 5. Jason Campbell won't be much of a hero this week compared to last week, but we should see him continue to lean on Zach Miller and maybe take a couple of deep shots to Jacoby Ford (two drops last week). It's enough to give the Raiders a semblance of a passing game, but they won't need it. If the Cardinals beat the Broncos at home with John Skelton under center and giving Tim Hightower a bunch of carries, then the Raiders can do the same thing. Last point: It's clear that Raiders owner Al Davis doesn't like the Broncos, and nothing would make him happier for his team to shovel dirt on Denver's season.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kyle Orton QB Jason Campbell
Knowshon Moreno RB Darren McFadden
Lance Ball   RB Michael Bush
Brandon Lloyd WR Louis Murphy
Eddie Royal WR Jacoby Ford
Daniel Graham   TE Zach Miller
Steven Hauschka K Sebastian Janikowski
Broncos DST Raiders
Jets at Steelers - Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
What an awful time for Mark Sanchez to make his first career start in Pittsburgh. He's thrown an interception in eight straight games (12 total in the span) and hasn't tossed a touchdown since Santonio Holmes caught one against the Bengals on Thanksgiving night. Holmes serves as Sanchez' most likely target here -- the guy would have had a game-winning touchdown last week but he dropped the ball. Expect a better effort from Holmes against his former team and against a defense he practiced against for years. The rest of the Jets' offense is unlikely to produce, including LaDainian Tomlinson, who hasn't scored since Week 6 and hasn't had 100 total yards since Week 11. Tomlinson and Shonn Greene are unlikely to be Fantasy heroes against the Steelers' awesome run defense. While the Jets' run defense is nothing to sneeze at either, here's a reality: Only two teams haven't run the ball 20 or more times on them this year. You'd think that number would be higher given the Jets' rep vs. the run, but it's not. Compare it against the Steelers or Bears' run defenses. That high number means teams aren't afraid to run on them, or are running on them because they have a lead on them and want to pull out a victory. That bodes well for Rashard Mendenhall's opportunities, and he's not totally awful this week. The big key for the Steelers is how their O-line plays -- the hunch here is that they struggle with the Jets' front but combat it with a lot of short-range passes. With Darrelle Revis locked in on Mike Wallace, Ben Roethlisberger should give a slew of targets at Hines Ward, who is crafty enough to get open against Antonio Cromartie. Don't be shocked to see the running backs targeted more than usual, and don't be stunned if the Steelers eyeball the Jets' safeties as backup-turned-starter Eric Smith will miss the game. Pretty much anything the Steelers can do to score enough points to win and keep Ben Roethlisberger healthy is what we'll see.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Mark Sanchez QB Ben Roethlisberger
LaDainian Tomlinson RB Rashard Mendenhall
Shonn Greene RB Mewelde Moore
Santonio Holmes WR Hines Ward
Braylon Edwards WR Mike Wallace
Dustin Keller   TE Heath Miller
Nick Folk K Shaun Suisham
Jets DST Steelers
Packers at Patriots - Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Awful spot for the Packers, going up against the hottest team in the league likely without their starting quarterback. If Aaron Rodgers somehow plays, he's got the stuff to keep his receivers involved against the Patriots' secondary. If he's out, the game's over. Matt Flynn is a cheap version of Rodgers without the experience or arm strength. Green Bay's offense will be tailored for him to throw short early and often, a basic principle of the West Coast offense, but the Patriots are going to still put pressure on him and probably disrespect the Green Bay run game a little bit by not dropping safeties into the box (unless they're blitzing). What does this mean for Greg Jennings? He's still the most likely Packer to score, and after last week's gaffes he could step up and find the end zone again. You'd be more comfortable starting him if Rodgers was under center. The Patriots won't have it easy here -- they're going up against a defense that's been mostly good against the run and with two very good cornerbacks in Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams. Doesn't matter. Look for Tom Brady to use his weapons in the slot a lot against the Packers' outside linebackers. This includes both tight ends, by the way. The only receiver who is still tough to figure out is Deion Branch, but this is one time it's worth it to just ride the wave and enjoy the rewards. However he's doing what he's doing, making the most of his opportunities, it's good for him, for Brady and for his Fantasy owners. The run game could also have success, especially going to the left side as Packers starting end Cullen Jenkins and outside linebacker Frank Zombo will both miss the contest.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Flynn QB Tom Brady
Brandon Jackson   RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
James Starks   RB Danny Woodhead
Greg Jennings WR Deion Branch
Donald Driver WR Wes Welker
Andrew Quarless TE Aaron Hernandez
Donald Lee   TE Rob Gronkowski
Mason Crosby K Shayne Graham
Packers DST Patriots
Bears at Vikings - Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
It looks like this game will be played outdoors at the University of Minnesota's football stadium. It's great for the Vikings that they won't have to fly for a home game, but it's still going to feel like a road game for a team that is used to playing indoors. The Bears just played in a blizzard last week, so playing in sub-degree temperatures is like a picnic. Chicago has been run-heavy for several weeks now (last week notwithstanding) and will take some stabs against the Vikings run defense much like the Giants did last week. If Brandon Jacobs can break a 70-plus-yard run, then you can be sure Matt Forte will try too. Another reason to do it: Improved play by the Vikings secondary, though Chicago attacked in the red zone with its tight ends and was successful in Week 10 and could consider the same plan here. The feeling here is that Earl Bennett is Jay Cutler's most trusted receiver, especially after Johnny Knox had a fumble returned for a touchdown last week. The matchup is a challenging one for the Vikings, who are unsure of who will start for them at quarterback. If it's Tarvaris Jackson with a case of turf toe, he'll be hobbled in the pocket and the Bears will deck him. If it's Brett Favre with his laundry list of injuries and swollen right hand, he'll be hobbled and the Bears will deck him. If it's rookie Joe Webb, the Vikings will have to run a very basic game plan while utilizing Webb's speed. Webb is a project-type quarterback with good skills but very, very raw. No matter what, the outlook isn't pretty for Sidney Rice or Percy Harvin. Now, if the passing game won't be respected by the Bears, then you know the running game will. That's not good for Adrian Peterson, who was held to 75 total yards and no touchdowns on 17 rushes and four catches back in Week 10. Obviously, Peterson is going to be the key player in the offense, which means he'll get a lot of opportunities. For him to completely struggle, he'd have to not break any long gains, not get into the end zone and not have much in the way of rushing lanes. That's a tough trifecta to imagine for him, which is why he's still a good Fantasy option this week. Remember, he's played well against tough defenses without a good quarterback before -- but throw in a banged-up offensive line and a potential knee tweak suffered last week and it gets dicey.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Jay Cutler QB Joe Webb
Matt Forte RB Adrian Peterson
Chester Taylor RB Toby Gerhart
Earl Bennett WR Sidney Rice
Johnny Knox WR Percy Harvin
Greg Olsen TE Visanthe Shiancoe
Robbie Gould K Ryan Longwell
Bears DST Vikings
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Player News
Kickoff returns still in Percy Harvin's future
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:15 am ET) Seahawks fans have waited a long time to see Percy Harvin in a regular role in the offense, but it might not happen quite to the level they might have wanted. Harvin is "slated" to return kickoffs for the Seahawks this season according to the Seattle Times, meaning that his role might not be as full-blown offensively because he'll be working on the play before first downs as a return man. 

Harvin has a career 28.2-yard kick-return average and delivered a sweet kick-return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVIII last February. 


Coach says Antonio Brown is smarter and smoother
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:55 am ET) Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann told the official team website that top wideout Antonio Brown has improved this offseason to the point where he's more polished and wise to the playbook than he's ever been. 

"He doesn't really look like the same guy. He's made a transition," Mann said. "He's very confident. He's matured. He understands the concepts. He's smoother. His body language is different. He's just a different guy. He's matured a lot."

Brown caught 110 passes for 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns last season. 


Coach describes Dri Archer as 'ace in the hole'
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:50 am ET) Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann told the official team website that rookie running back Dri Archer has already made strides as a receiving threat on top of working as a change-of-pace back on handoffs. 

"We feel like he can be our ace in the hole, or the joker, since we can use him in various positions," Mann said. "We can move him around. We can utilize his running ability by lining him up as a running back, and he also has receiving skills. I think it's up to coach (Todd) Haley and the offensive staff to put him in places where he can succeed. I think he's going to be a weapon for us."

Archer tallied 10 total touchdowns and 854 total yards on less than 100 touches at Kent State last season. 


Coach describes Martavis Bryant as fast red-zone threat
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:47 am ET) Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann told the official team website that rookie wideout Martavis Bryant could contribute right away, especially when it comes to touchdowns. 

"He's a big guy, different from what we've had, as far as his length," Mann said. "We feel like we can utilize his talents in the red zone. He has a big reach. He has good speed. So we can use him in various ways, as far as cleaning things out. He's also a deep threat. He does have the speed."

Bryant played alongside Sammy Watkins at Clemson. He's 6-foot-4 and 211 pounds with "legit" 4.4 speed according to offensive coordinator Todd Haley. He could end up helping the Steelers out if he can prove worthy of playing time in training camp. 


Lance Moore can 'probably' take over for Cotchery
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:43 am ET) Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann told the official team website that he thinks ex-Saints wideout Lance Moore has a shot to fill the slot for the team, replacing Jerricho Cotchery. 

"What he can do, and from what I've seen so far, he can probably fill the void that we had after losing Jerricho Cotchery," Mann said. "We have a couple of other guys we are looking at (in that role). We might have to jerry-rig a few things to get the blocking aspect of it, but as far as the passing game, I think we are going to be fine."

Moore had caught at least six touchdowns in each of his last three seasons prior to 2013 when he scored just two. Cotchery scored 10 touchdowns last year in that role for Pittsburgh. 


Steelers working on Darrius Heyward-Bey's confidence
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:36 am ET) Steelers receivers coach Richard Mann told the official team website that he's focused on getting Darrius Heyward-Bey to feel better about his game heading into the season. Heyward-Bey has posted one decent season since being taken seventh overall by the Raiders in 2009. He's competing for playing time with the Steelers this summer. 

"What we are doing with him is just trying to get his confidence up," Mann said. "He has speed. He has talent. We'll teach him what to do, and hopefully we can put him in a position to succeed with his speed and intelligence. We will take advantage of what he does best."


From camp to the season, Chris Johnson will face limits
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:31 am ET) New Jets running back Chris Johnson will be kept on a "pitch count" in training camp because he's coming off of torn meniscus surgery. ESPN not only reported that but echoed the sentiment that the Jets will use a running back-by-committee approach even with Johnson joining the team. New York is expected to experiment with the playing time of Johnson, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell during the preseason. 

Johnson has had at least 251 carries in each of his first six seasons with the Titans, posting over 1,000 rushing yards in all of them. He's also had at least 1,400 total yards in each of his six seasons. All of that might be in jeopardy given the Jets' plans. 


Emmanuel Sanders thinks he'll catch at least 80 passes
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:21 am ET) Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders believes that he can catch at least 80 passes thanks to the new style of offense that he's in, ESPN's John Clayton reported. 

Sanders' career high in receptions is 67, coming last year with the Steelers. They spent the first half of the season playing conservatively until they employed the no-huddle and began throwing it more. Sanders had four touchdowns in his last six games and 36 grabs in his last nine games. 


Jimmy Smith cited on misdemeanor charge
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/13/2014) Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was cited by police Saturday night for failing to follow an officer's orders. The misdemeanor charge came after police responded to a report of a woman passed out in a restaurant bathroom in Towson.

The woman was vomiting into a bathroom sink when police arrived. Smith was with the woman and "refused to obey an officer's repeated orders to leave the bathroom," police said.

Smith became the fifth Raven to get in trouble with police this offseason.


Chris Harris targeting midway point of preseason
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, who's coming back from ACL surgery, told ESPN he expects to be cleared for full participation by the midway point of the preseason. Harris said the exact timetable hinges on his upcoming visit to his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

"I’m doing everything, there’s really nothing I can’t do right now," Harris told the network. "I still have to go see Dr. Andrews at the end of the month and get checked up and he’ll pretty much let us know the plan from there."

Harris had 65 tackles and three interceptions last year before getting hurt in the playoffs.


 
 
 
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