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Week 16 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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Panthers at Steelers - Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
It wouldn't be a surprise if the Panthers unloaded the playbook here and tried some unconventional plays against the Steelers. Sure, they've done a nice job with their run game lately but the Steelers should be able to handle Jonathan Stewart and their offensive line. If that's the case, wouldn't it at least be fun for John Fox to call for some razzle-dazzle to keep the Steelers on their toes? Granted, that's not really in Fox's character, but if anyone has nothing to lose, it's him. Tough to trust any Panthers playing on the road on a short week against a motivated defense. Expect the Steelers to keep things steady on the ground, especially after getting away from it last week in a disappointing loss. Rashard Mendenhall should post strong stats against the Panthers' woeful run defense, opening the door for Ben Roethlisberger to use play-action and find Mike Wallace deep. Wallace will lock up with second-year cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who is receiving lots of praise for hanging tough with some big receivers lately but still gave up nine catches for 125 yards to Larry Fitzgerald last week. You have to like that matchup for Wallace. Otherwise, Carolina's pass defense hasn't been bad, partially because teams just choose to run all over the field against them, so that combined with the perceived lack of opportunities could limit the upside for Wallace, Roethlisberger and Hines Ward.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Jimmy Clausen   QB Ben Roethlisberger
Jonathan Stewart RB Rashard Mendenhall
Mike Goodson RB Isaac Redman
Steve Smith   WR Mike Wallace
David Gettis   WR Hines Ward
Brandon LaFell   WR Emmanuel Sanders
Jeff King   TE Heath Miller
John Kasay K Shaun Suisham
Panthers DST Steelers
Cowboys at Cardinals - Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Only twice this season have the Cardinals not allowed an opponent to total 100 rush yards or score on the ground. During a recent three-game homestand the Cardinals yielded 473 rush yards and four touchdowns to running backs. As such, expect the Cowboys to come out running, maybe a little more than you'd typically expect from them. Normally it would be fine to just ride the running backs, but between a shin injury to Felix Jones and the Cardinals potentially having a shot to put up some points, the Cowboys are going to have to rely on their pass game to some extent. Jon Kitna has thrown two touchdowns in each of his last two games, and while the Cardinals' pass defense has yielded just two touchdowns in four weeks, that's more of a by-product of their poor run defense than anything else. Arizona has a shot to throw here -- teams have targeted the matchup of a speed receiver on Cowboys safety Alan Ball, and it wouldn't be a shock to see quarterback John Skelton try and manufacture such a matchup. Each of the Cowboys' last three opponents (and eight of the last nine) have thrown multiple touchdowns, and Skelton showed last week that while he has some growing to do he can still lock in on Larry Fitzgerald and produce some first downs that way. Skelton is going to have to get the job done because the Cardinals' run game just can't be trusted right now. Tim Hightower struggled in a cakewalk matchup last week, partially because he only had six carries (Beanie Wells had eight). Dallas' run defense has floundered lately but should still be able to contain the Arizona backs here.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Jon Kitna QB John Skelton
Tashard Choice RB Tim Hightower
Felix Jones RB Beanie Wells
Miles Austin WR Larry Fitzgerald
Sam Hurd   WR Steve Breaston
Jason Witten TE Stephen Spach
David Buehler K Jay Feely
Cowboys DST Cardinals
Ravens at Browns - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
The Ravens deployed Ray Rice last week to carry them to victory, and the same plan should be in effect here. Cleveland's run defense continues to deteriorate while its pass defense improves, and the Ravens should follow along. Look for another big game from Rice, opening up the passing lanes for Joe Flacco. The dilemma here is whether or not Flacco can put up another three-touchdown game against these Browns. Last time they played Anquan Boldin erupted for all three scores and the Browns are going to be sure to try and take him away with cornerback Joe Haden and a two-deep safety formation. That opens things up underneath for a returning Todd Heap, not to mention Rice, so there could be a little disappointment with Boldin. Only one receiver, Andre Caldwell (on underneath routes), has tallied more than 80 receiving yards against the Browns over the last seven weeks. Hard to ignore that. It will be hard for the Ravens to ignore Peyton Hillis after he gutted them for 180 total yards (144 rushing) and a score in Week 3. If you've watched Hillis the last few weeks, you've seen defenses bail out against the pass and do whatever it takes to slow down Hillis. You can be sure the Ravens will do the same thing and take their chances against Colt McCoy, which means we could see another week of lowered numbers from the burly running back compared to what's expected. Last week we correctly identified Brian Robiskie as a player who would benefit from bad coverage, and he could be the guy again this week to pay off for the Browns through the air. Robiskie has been seeing more playing time and his targets have been up, and a matchup against either Chris Carr or Lardarius Webb gives him an edge (he's five inches taller than both). Even with an optimistic view of Robiskie, the Browns offense will have to reach into its bag of tricks to put up more points than the Ravens in this one.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Joe Flacco QB Colt McCoy
Ray Rice RB Peyton Hillis
Willis McGahee RB Mike Bell
Anquan Boldin WR Brian Robiskie
Derrick Mason WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Todd Heap TE Benjamin Watson
Billy Cundiff K Phil Dawson
Ravens DST Browns
49ers at Rams - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Troy Smith returns under center for the 49ers, which is a positive for them given Smith's 3-2 record as a starter and his familiarity with the Rams defense from a big Week 10 win. The Niners can use Smith as a game manager more than anything else and rely on their run game. Not that Brian Westbrook has been amazing, but it's more apparent that the Rams' run defense is flawed and costing them big. The 49ers would be wise to lean on Westbrook (Anthony Dixon should play but is dealing with an ankle injury) and otherwise challenge the Rams' secondary with mid-range throws. The ascension of Josh Morgan is coming at the perfect time for the Niners as St. Louis' defense doesn't have the personnel to handle all three of the Niners' receiving threats. Of course, that would mean Smith would have to make good reads in order to take advantage, something that isn't a given. We've seen defenses try and take away Steven Jackson in recent weeks, thus forcing Sam Bradford to throw. It's been working, as the Rams have lost two straight and only kept it from three straight losses by getting past a bad Cardinals team. Since a 36-point win at Denver, the Rams have scored no more than 19 points in each of their last three. In those three games Bradford has not thrown a single touchdown and has totaled five interceptions. He's seeing more pressure put on him and he's losing safe target Danny Amendola as teams are covering him up and not letting him catch what's being thrown his way. Jackson is sure to get the ball a lot as the Rams lean on him to take some pressure off of Bradford, but if St. Louis is going to take this game Bradford will have to win it for them. He's got the matchup to do it -- the 49ers have given up eight passing touchdowns over their last three games and were completely exposed by Vincent Jackson last week. Brandon Gibson is no V-Jax, but he might have to step up and help Bradford.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Troy Smith QB Sam Bradford
Brian Westbrook RB Steven Jackson
Michael Crabtree WR Danny Amendola
Josh Morgan WR Brandon Gibson
Vernon Davis TE Daniel Fells
Jeff Reed K Josh Brown
49ers DST Rams
Patriots at Bills - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Assuming the winds cooperate, the Patriots will get away with whatever they want to here. You're starting all of your Patriots of course, but here are some notes: The Bills secondary is at full strength and have given up just three passing touchdowns over their last four games. Wes Welker hasn't scored on Buffalo since becoming a Patriot (seven matchups with one 100-yard game). The Bills haven't allowed a tight end to score on them since Week 9. The Bills run defense, however, has been exploited in some fashion in each of the last five weeks. It wouldn't be a shock to see BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead both score on the Bills, and there's room to be encouraged by Rob Gronkowski given his play on the road. Ultimately, the Bills will have to throw in this one, and the Patriots must take the matchup seriously or else Ryan Fitzpatrick will carve them up much like Matt Flynn did last week. Perhaps Flynn's three touchdowns woke up the Patriots secondary and will force them to play more disciplined. Despite giving up a long touchdown last week, Devin McCourty is not the weak link in the New England pass defense. Kyle Arrington, who had an interception-return for a touchdown last week, is the easier target, and with David Nelson lined up on that side of the field, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him score in his fourth straight game. If the Bills are passing it could be an issue for Fred Jackson, who has one career touchdown (a catch, not a run) in six games against the Patriots but does own three 100-total-yard efforts. Earlier this season he barely played against them; this week he could end up with a dozen carries and a half-dozen receptions.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Tom Brady QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
BenJarvus Green-Ellis RB Fred Jackson
Danny Woodhead RB C.J. Spiller
Deion Branch WR David Nelson
Wes Welker WR Steve Johnson
Rob Gronkowski TE Jonathan Stupar
Aaron Hernandez TE David Martin
Shayne Graham K Rian Lindell
Patriots DST Bills
Redskins at Jaguars - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Even though Rex Grossman popped for 322 yards and four touchdowns last week, the Redskins are expected to try and keep it on the ground more this week with Ryan Torain. Torain didn't get much of an opportunity on the ground last week against the Cowboys but should find the matchup against the Jaguars more to his liking. Grossman will also dig the matchup just like pretty much every quarterback has against Jacksonville this season, and the fact that he's able to connect with Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong more than Donovan McNabb ever could makes him all the more intriguing. He's hard to trust, even with last week's big game, but the matchup definitely is favorable. The Redskins should put up a decent amount of points. The Redskins lost two defensive line starters to injury this week, and their replacements shouldn't make for a big improvement in their run defense. The Colts were able to stunt Maurice Jones-Drew's run game pretty early on last week and it forced the Jaguars to throw the ball (three second-half carries for MJD). Don't expect the Redskins to follow suit, even though they know it's coming, because Jones-Drew should be able to make positive gains regularly thanks to his offensive line winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. The matchup is also good for Marcedes Lewis, especially after Kellen Winslow and Jason Witten dominated the Redskins in consecutive weeks.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Rex Grossman QB David Garrard
Ryan Torain RB Maurice Jones-Drew
Keiland Williams   RB Rashad Jennings
Santana Moss WR Mike Sims-Walker
Anthony Armstrong WR Mike Thomas
Chris Cooley TE Marcedes Lewis
Graham Gano K Josh Scobee
Redskins DST Jaguars
Lions at Dolphins - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
It's a good thing Shaun Hill has been resting for a couple of weeks because he's going to have to throw a lot here. The Dolphins' run defense has really come on strong and aside from giving up big games to Chris Johnson and Matt Forte, they've played great since Week 6. No one's expecting big things from Maurice Morris anyway, so the onus will be on the passing game. You have to like Calvin Johnson's matchup against Vontae Davis, who will get help, and everyone else on the Lions has a shot to rack up some yardage on underneath stuff, especially if the Dolphins stick to a nickel defense and take one of their inside backers off the field. I'd be stunned if Lions rushers totaled 20 carries, and I'd be stunned if Hill didn't have a chance to put up good stats. Brandon Marshall re-emerged last week and is a safe bet this week against Detroit's corners. Just check out how Mike Williams did last week against the Lions and expect similar numbers for Marshall. You'd think the Dolphins would cling to their run game to take further pressure off of Chad Henne, but they haven't done that outside of that win at Oakland and could find themselves in a similar pattern here. Remember, Miami's offensive line is banged up and Ronnie Brown typically isn't getting the reps you'd expect for whatever reason, so assume that Henne will throw a lot. That only helps Marshall (and Davone Bess), both of whom should piece together another decent week.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Shaun Hill QB Chad Henne
Maurice Morris RB Ronnie Brown
Jahvid Best   RB Ricky Williams
Calvin Johnson WR Brandon Marshall
Nate Burleson WR Davone Bess
Brandon Pettigrew TE Anthony Fasano
Dave Rayner K Dan Carpenter
Lions DST Dolphins
Jets at Bears - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Mark Sanchez's shoulder is sore. LaDainian Tomlinson is seemingly running in mud. Santonio Holmes will play with turf toe. Don't even mention 'toe' to head coach Rex Ryan. It's clear that the Jets are not in the best of shape even though they're coming off of a big win at Pittsburgh thanks in large part to their defense and to the Steelers' playcalling. Don't expect a renaissance from the offense here. Sure, the Bears are playing on a short week, but they've been lights out against mediocre run games (the Jets officially qualify) and should be able to put enough pressure on Mark Sanchez to force some turnovers. Sanchez can't be trusted, and even with his receivers putting up moderate numbers lately, they can't be expected for huge stats either. The Jets' offense, excluding the kicker, has scored six points in their last three games and have been in a tailspin since the Patriots exposed them in Week 13. The Bears' offense clicked on Monday at the Vikings, but their matchup here is going to be tougher to exploit. The Jets' run defense did crack last week against Rashard Mendenhall, so it wouldn't be a shocker to see Chicago give Matt Forte and Chester Taylor a decent amount of work. Otherwise, Jay Cutler will have to be up to snuff on the Jets' blitz schemes and focus on the center of the field. Greg Olsen got more involved last week with four receptions and could wake up here against the Jets' safeties. Likewise for Earl Bennett, who was targeted four times last week. This shouldn't be a high-scoring game, but the Bears defense has a big edge given the Jets' weaknesses.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Mark Sanchez QB Jay Cutler
Shonn Greene RB Matt Forte
LaDainian Tomlinson RB Chester Taylor
Santonio Holmes WR Earl Bennett
Braylon Edwards WR Johnny Knox
Dustin Keller TE Greg Olsen
Nick Folk K Robbie Gould
Jets DST Bears
Titans at Chiefs - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Kerry Collins has five touchdowns in his last two games and Chris Johnson is back to tearing up defenses like we've come to expect. Expect the latter Titan to have his way with a Kansas City run defense that's been pasted by Knowshon Moreno, Steven Jackson and the Chargers' power duo of Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews in recent weeks. The matchup to watch otherwise is Kenny Britt with Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers, whose play has run hot and cold lately. The rest of the matchups for Collins are a wash, which means there's no easy exploitation like he had against the Texans last week. Still, Britt will be the receiver he leans on here since he's the most athletic of them all. Like the Titans, look for the Chiefs to stay on the ground and not have to throw more than 25 or 30 times, with the idea being to keep the pressure off of Matt Cassel. The Chiefs really don't like to lean on him if they don't have to, but they will in play-action situations, especially at the goal line where tight end Leonard Pope has touchdowns in two of his last three. Does that mean another bad week for Dwayne Bowe? Don't be surprised if his yardage is limited since he'll get Cortland Finnegan in his face; the two went head-to-head in 2008 with Finnegan holding Bowe to 86 yards on seven catches (albeit with a worse quarterback). You still have to like Bowe's red-zone chances but the Finnegan factor could limit his already dwindling targets.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kerry Collins QB Matt Cassel
Chris Johnson RB Jamaal Charles
Javon Ringer   RB Thomas Jones
Kenny Britt WR Dwayne Bowe
Nate Washington WR Verran Tucker
Jared Cook   TE Leonard Pope
Rob Bironas K Ryan Succop
Titans DST Chiefs
Colts at Raiders - Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
Something tells me this is going to be tough for the Colts. Offensively they should be fine but it's clear as day that Peyton Manning isn't quite the same passer without Austin Collie. Expect Reggie Wayne to see a lot of Nnamdi Asomugha, which isn't exactly a good thing. Manning might opt to pass away from Wayne, just as he did the last time he faced the Raiders (four targets, three catches for Wayne), and chase the matchups down the middle of the field and to his right with Pierre Garcon matched up on Stanford Routt. Sure, the matchup looks plenty good for Donald Brown, but the Raiders have allowed just 2.9 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns to running backs in their last five at home. Brown might have broken out last week at home against Jacksonville but will find the going a bit tougher this week. The Raiders' response? Run, run, run. Indianapolis will know it's coming, much like they did last week against Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars, but the Raiders might not give up as easily. Furthermore, they have a good offensive line and certainly a quarterback who can throw a quick dart to any of his speedy playmakers. If the Raiders' goal is to win the time of possession battle with a big dose of the run, they could pull off the upset and keep their playoff hopes alive. Don't discount it -- they did the exact same thing to the Chargers recently and to the Broncos twice and came away with wins. Given that plan, McFadden and Michael Bush are the only reliable stat producers Fantasy owners should trust.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Peyton Manning QB Jason Campbell
Donald Brown RB Darren McFadden
Dominic Rhodes   RB Michael Bush
Pierre Garcon WR Louis Murphy
Reggie Wayne WR Jacoby Ford
Blair White WR Johnnie Lee Higgins
Jacob Tamme TE Zach Miller
Adam Vinatieri K Sebastian Janikowski
Colts DST Raiders
Texans at Broncos - Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
It's good that Arian Foster is healthy because he's a lock to have a strong game against the Broncos' terrible run defense. Having to account for Andre Johnson keeps a safety back at all times, and Denver's front seven has been brutalized of late. By the way, go back and check Johnson's last game against the Broncos and you'll see that Champ Bailey didn't cover him much. That should remain the case here, which is all the better for Houston. There's extra motivation for the Texans offense here as head coach Gary Kubiak used to play in Denver and would probably like to not just win a game but garner some attention from Broncos owner Pat Bowlen with his play calling since it appears Kubiak is not a lock to keep his job in Houston in 2011 and his old team could knock on his door. His players should help him put his best foot forward. Tim Tebow is expected to lead the charge for Denver, and the matchup couldn't be better for him as Houston's pass defense is flat-out rotten. Here's where things get interesting: If Knowshon Moreno is also out, there's a chance Tebow could land plenty of rushes on top of his pass attempts. The busier he is the better given the opponent and the matchup, so owners should consider him a viable starting option if Moreno is indeed out. Naturally, this means Brandon Lloyd is in play again this week (someone has to catch the ball) and Jabar Gaffney could end up playing a role here too given the matchup.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Schaub QB Tim Tebow
Arian Foster RB Lance Ball
Derrick Ward   RB Correll Buckhalter
Andre Johnson WR Brandon Lloyd
Jacoby Jones WR Jabar Gaffney
Owen Daniels TE Richard Quinn
Neil Rackers K Steven Hauschka
Texans DST Broncos
Chargers at Bengals - Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
It wouldn't be a surprise if we saw a complete redux of the Chargers' Week 15 play here. With plenty of time to prepare for a Bengals defense that's banged up and not motivated, it would make sense for the Chargers to attack early on with the pass and then kill the clock with their run game. Look for Vincent Jackson to line up to Philip Rivers' right and take advantage of the coverage the Bengals apply there. Then again, Jackson could just as easily square off with Leon Hall on the other side of the field and do damage that way. The Bengals won't have an answer for Jackson or Rivers, who shouldn't get touched. Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews should both get a good amount of work. The Bengals' best bet here is Cedric Benson; with Terrell Owens gone for the year it's going to be easy for the Chargers' cornerbacks to take on the rest of Cincy's receivers (Chad Ochocinco might not even play), so expect the run game to benefit. Save for a brilliant showing against the Chiefs two weeks ago, San Diego has struggled against the better run teams in the league, so Benson has a chance here. The rest of the Cincy offense? Don't count on them against this pass defense.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Philip Rivers QB Carson Palmer
Mike Tolbert RB Cedric Benson
Ryan Mathews RB Brian Leonard
Vincent Jackson WR Chad Ochocinco
Kelley Washington   WR Andre Caldwell
Randy McMichael TE Jermaine Gresham
Nate Kaeding K Clint Stitser
Chargers DST Bengals
Giants at Packers - Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
The Giants will end up being fairly balanced offensively so long as they don't fall too far behind, which is a possibility here. Green Bay's front seven has been banged up and has been gashed by the Falcons, Lions and Patriots in three of its last four overall, so look for New York to lean on its pair of running backs to get a hold of the game clock as well as move the chains. Ahmad Bradshaw appears to be the better option for the Giants after Brandon Jacobs struggled last week. The key for Eli Manning will be passing under pressure as the Packers will chase him down much like they chased Tom Brady last week. That's a tall order for the Pack as Eli typically gets rid of the ball before taking a sack, but very often he'll throw an errant pass that leads to a takeaway. The Packers will count on those. Look for Manning to follow Brady's plan from last week and attack the matchups. Last week Manning made a mint by going after Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson (who gave up all three touchdowns to Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks). There's not much when your primary opposing corners are Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, but Manning could end up leaning on Nicks as a short- and mid-range receiver as well as tight end Kevin Boss, who has scored in three of his last four and will see a Packers pass defense that's given up touchdowns to tight ends in four straight. The Packers get Aaron Rodgers back, which typically means they'll throw a ton. Rodgers might be a little shy to take off and run after getting concussed two weeks ago, but he's ultimately a playmaker with plenty of weapons and should be productive as long as he can get past the Giants' pass rush, which is a big factor of course. Rodgers will take Greg Jennings in single coverage against Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas all game long and should also find crossing routes to his liking as the Giants really struggled containing players free in the middle of the field. If James Jones remains on the outside as expected, Donald Driver should make an impact from the slot against the Giants' Cover-3 look.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Eli Manning QB Aaron Rodgers
Ahmad Bradshaw RB Brandon Jackson
Brandon Jacobs RB John Kuhn
Hakeem Nicks WR Greg Jennings
Mario Manningham WR Donald Driver
Derek Hagan   WR James Jones
Kevin Boss TE Andrew Quarless
Lawrence Tynes K Mason Crosby
Giants DST Packers
Seahawks at Buccaneers - Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Thanks to injuries across the Bucs' defense, this matchup is pretty good for the Seahawks, namely Marshawn Lynch against a battered run defense. The only concern here is whether or not Lynch gets the opportunities necessary to piece together a big day. He's averaging 18.8 carries in Seahawks wins, 9.3 carries when the Seahawks lose. Seeing as how there's a realistic chance the Seahawks fall behind (thanks in part to their defense), there's some risk in playing the matchup and going with Lynch. You can't expect huge numbers, but a touchdown with some decent yardage isn't so bad. Matt Hasselbeck will continue to start at quarterback for the Seahawks against a Bucs defense that has allowed at least 200 pass yards to four straight quarterbacks with seven touchdowns allowed through the air in that span. Nice numbers, but Hasselbeck's recent play has been too, uh, awful to count on. So because there's no guarantee Hasselbeck will play well or even finish the game, owners should be less than confident in Mike Williams or Ben Obomanu. The matchup is much better for the Bucs, who have the luxury of playing at home against a team that traveled over 2,500 miles and brought with them an awful defense. Seattle has improved against the run, limiting Michael Turner last week, but it should still have its hands full with LeGarrette Blount here. Where they will really struggle is against the pass -- last week Matt Ryan went to town with several deep lobs and the Buccaneers can do the exact same thing with their wideouts. Whether Marcus Trufant plays or not, Mike Williams is an easy guy to roll with, but don't discount Arrelious Benn, who has five 20-plus-yard catches on the year, including three in his last three games.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Hasselbeck QB Josh Freeman
Marshawn Lynch RB LeGarrette Blount
Justin Forsett   RB Cadillac Williams
Mike Williams WR Mike Williams
Ben Obomanu   WR Arrelious Benn
Chris Baker   TE Kellen Winslow
Olindo Mare K Connor Barth
Seahawks DST Buccaneers
Vikings at Eagles - Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
There are so many variables with the Vikings offense that it's hard to have reliable expectations for any player on the team. Let's assume that Joe Webb and Adrian Peterson play -- the opposite of last week but certainly a plausible scenario given Brett Favre's injuries and Peterson taking last week off with a thigh injury. Peterson will take on the bulk of the work, but the Eagles will also know this and key in on him. Where the Vikings could get smart is by mobilizing Webb and creating easy screen and short-area pass opportunities for him -- kind of like how the Eagles used Michael Vick once upon a time. In theory that could help Peterson's receiving totals along with Visanthe Shiancoe's and Percy Harvin's, but it remains to be seen if they'll go that way. Peterson, if he plays, has that big-play potential you like, but if he's not practicing leading up to the game then he's probably not a safe bet. Have a back-up plan in place if you are going to count on Peterson, and don't fear limiting it to another running back if you can plug in Peterson as a flex this week. As for Sidney Rice, the outlook isn't good since it will be easy for the Eagles to take him away and take their chances with the rest of the Minnesota offense otherwise. There's also concern that the Vikings defense will go into a shell given that the season is over. You saw them deflate last week against the Bears and the week prior against the Giants, so it could happen here. That said, it's easy to fall in love with all the Eagles' speedy skill-position players, especially DeSean Jackson. He loves playing in prime time and after watching Johnny Knox burn past the Vikings secondary last week, he's got to be salivating. Jeremy Maclin is equally attractive, and you pretty much know what to do with Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. This should be a blowout win for the Eagles -- even David Akers is a must-start.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Joe Webb QB Michael Vick
Adrian Peterson RB LeSean McCoy
Toby Gerhart RB Jerome Harrison
Percy Harvin WR DeSean Jackson
Sidney Rice WR Jeremy Maclin
Visanthe Shiancoe TE Brent Celek
Ryan Longwell K David Akers
Vikings   DST Eagles
Saints at Falcons - Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET | Fantasy Preview
Even with the Falcons' sagging run defense, the feeling here is that the Saints will live or die with Drew Brees. His history against Atlanta is fabulous and his receiving corps remains diverse and overpowering. Marques Colston will see plenty of cornerback Dunta Robinson (part of the reason the Falcons signed him was to cover Colston), but it's hard not to like him. The newest weapon Brees has leaned on is Jimmy Graham, the explosive rookie tight end. Atlanta's struggled with tight ends this year and Graham's numbers -- 29 targets, 20 catches, 266 yards and three touchdowns in his last six -- speak for themselves. Lance Moore got hot last time against the Falcons and while we've expected him to lose playing time with Reggie Bush back, it hasn't happened. He's scored in three of his last four and has at least five catches in eight games this season. Brees should lean on these guys as well as his running backs to produce a big stat line, and it only helps him that the Falcons' pass rush can be contained. The Falcons have a great weapon to battle back with in Michael Turner, who has an equally impressive history in the rivalry. It only makes sense for the Falcons to lean on him and Jason Snelling to move the chains and keep Drew Brees off the field. The Saints are fresh off of being humiliated by Ray Rice but shouldn't have an answer for Turner this week either. You also have to like Matt Ryan playing at home; the Saints' secondary has been outstanding this season but Jabari Greer isn't likely to play at full strength (if at all) and the Falcons will line up Roddy White on his side and try to exploit the matchup (they did it last week against the Seahawks and thrived). Tony Gonzalez should also have a good shot to play well; he had his best game of the year against the Saints in Week 3.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Drew Brees QB Matt Ryan
Pierre Thomas RB Michael Turner
Reggie Bush RB Jason Snelling
Marques Colston WR Roddy White
Lance Moore WR Michael Jenkins
Jimmy Graham TE Tony Gonzalez
Garrett Hartley K Matt Bryant
Saints DST Falcons
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Player News
Jets backfield takes shape following Johnson signing
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) With the Jets signing Chris Johnson on Wednesday, the rest of their backfield should start to take shape, reports the New York Daily News.

The report says Johnson and Chris Ivory will work as a tandem, and Bilal Powell will be the No. 3 running back. Mike Goodson is expected to be released before the start of the season.


Chris Johnson excited for 'fresh start'
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) New Jets running back Chris Johnson's two-year deal is worth $8 million with another $1 million in incentives, reports Pro Football Talk. Johnson was scheduled to make $8 million for the Titans in 2014 alone before he was released.

Meanwhile, Johnson told the Tennessean that he's looking forward to this opportunity with the Jets.

"I have a fresh start. Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder," Johnson said. "I know a lot of people are doubting me. I want to prove everybody wrong who has doubts in me."


Bengals sign punter T.J. Conley
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) The Bengals signed free agent punter T.J. Conley on Wednesday. 

Conley punted in 16 games for the Jets in 2011. He averaged 42.7 yards on 92 punts, and his 38.8-yard net average was the highest in Jets history. He had 32 inside-20 kicks with just six touchbacks, and his plus-26 differential on inside-20s to touchbacks ranked tied for third in the NFL.

Conley did not play in the 2012 or 2013 regular seasons. He was with the Jets in the 2012 preseason and with Cleveland in the 2013 preseason.

Conley will challenge incumbent Kevin Huber for the starting job, but most likely he won't make the final roster.


Chris Johnson signs two-year deal with the Jets
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) The Jets have signed running back Chris Johnson to a two-year deal, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. 

Johnson told reporters on Tuesday he was taking free agency one day at a time and added that he had other visits planned, but the Jets must have made him an improved offer to lock up the one-time 2,000-yard running back. 

Johnson has totaled at least 1,400 yards in each of his last four seasons with the Titans since running for 2,006 yards in 2009. He also scored 10 touchdowns in 2013 (four receiving). 


Clay Matthews says it's thumbs up for training camp
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said he's diligently rehabbing his injured thumb, comparing it to a torn ACL rather than a typical bone break. As part of the injury he also had surgery on his forearm, which got damaged when he re-injured the thumb late last season. But he told USA Today that he'll be ready for the start of training camp, though he'll miss offseason workouts. 

Mike James resumes running and cutting
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) Buccaneers running back Mike James is working his way back into football shape after breaking his left ankle last season. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he's been running and cutting and is aiming to get back to full strength and speed. Asked if he would be ready for the team's April minicamp, James said he and the team are "taking everything day by day." 

Josh Freeman signs with Giants
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) The Giants have signed quarterback Josh Freeman, reports FOX Sports.

Freeman spent last season with the Buccaneers and Vikings. His only appearance for Minnesota was against the Giants, and he completed 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception.

Freeman will try and make the final roster for the Giants as a backup to Eli Manning, who is coming off ankle surgery this offseason. The Giants also have Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib on the roster.


Rob Gronkowski will 'take his time' coming back
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will "take his time and then take more time" coming back from a torn ACL suffered last season, a source told Bleacher Report

Gronkowski's heart was questioned last year when he took his time coming back from forearm and back procedures. This year he might not care how long he takes as he wants to practice patience in his rehab. 

The knee injury happened in December of last year. Usually it takes nine months to come back from an ACL injury without incident. That would mean he'd be ready to hit the field by late August. 


Haloti Ngata turned down extension with Ravens
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) Looking to free up cap space earlier this offseason, the Ravens offered a "lucrative, long-term" deal with defensive lineman Haloti Ngata so that he wouldn't cost $16 million in cap space. Ngata, 30 years old with two years left on his current deal, wasn't willing to take the extension, NFL Network reports. 

Report: Ravens planning to add two running backs
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) The Ravens are aware of what's been going on with Ray Rice this offseason but were planning to add a pair of running backs this offseason anyway. NFL Network reports that they now believe that one of those two might have to start depending on what happens with Rice. 

The veteran running back had a horrible 2013 season (under 1,000 total yards) and then was indicted on a third-degree aggravated assault charge when he struck his then-fiancee and current wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino. 


 
 
 
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