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Week 7 Fantasy Football Matchups

Senior Fantasy Writer

Editor's note: Dave Richard breaks down every game from a Fantasy perspective each week with the help of NFL Insider Pat Kirwan, who will provide his unique take to assist owners in their lineup management.

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers -- Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, Candlestick Park
Seattle Seahawks
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Russell Wilson Niners have allowed one passing TD over last three with no more than 193 yards passing per game.
RB Marshawn Lynch Tough matchup. Lynch had success in most recent game vs. SF but has struggled in last two games & Niners will key in on him.
WR Sidney Rice Same logic applies as last week: Seahawks will have to throw. But Niners have allowd 139.8 yards to WRs this year.
WR Golden Tate Desperation sleeper. Last week he had chances to make plays vs. NE. Niners are a tougher challenge.
TE Zach Miller   Desperation sleeper. Niners have given up four TDs to tight ends so far.
DST Seahawks Should be OK though four of six DSTs Niners have faced have scored 10 Fantasy points or less.
San Francisco 49ers
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Alex Smith Had zero touchdowns in two games vs. SEA last year. Only Tom Brady has posted over 20 Fantasy points on Seahawks.
RB Frank Gore No RB has topped 60 rush yards or 74 total yards vs. Seahawks this season. Gore could change that.
RB Kendall Hunter   Can't use him this week but did total 84 yards in last meeting at Seattle.
WR Michael Crabtree Only 4 TDs have been scored by WRs vs. Seahawks' defense. Crabtree has never scored on them.
WR Mario Manningham Had season-high 72 yards last week, remains involved in offense. Low-end consideration only.
TE Vernon Davis You'll start him but Seahawks have done well vs. traditional tight ends, limited Davis to 101 yards in two games last year.
DST 49ers Notched nine sacks, an interception and two special-teams scores vs. Seahawks last year.

Both the Seahawks and 49ers have excellent run defenses -- both are ranked in the Top 10. But neither coach will abandon the run. They know their quarterbacks aren't built to throw 45 to 50 times. The Seahawks are going to watch the tape of the Giants' 34 carries for 151 yards by their running backs and come to some conclusions on how to attack the Niners' front. I expect Marshawn Lynch to get close to the workload and numbers he had the last time they met: 21 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown. San Francisco will also run the ball with left tackle Joe Staley a question mark. Without him, Alex Smith isn't as well protected. -- Pat Kirwan

Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Mall of America Field
Arizona Cardinals
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB John Skelton Too risky to start but he played better on the road last year. Vikies have allowed 3 pass TDs in last 4.
RB William Powell Low-end option. Clearly the best RB for Cards right now but Vikes have held RBs to under 75 total yards over last five.
WR Larry Fitzgerald Should be fine. Typically plays big vs. MIN (his hometown team) & has good history with Skelton.
WR Andre Roberts Has 7 catches for 57 yards, no TDs in last two games. Comparable WRs have been slammed by Vikings.
DST Cardinals Ponder's been starting to turn the ball over but Vikings offense has become fairly explosive. Cards a DST worth settling for.
Minnesota Vikings
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Christian Ponder No QB has had 20 Fantasy points against the Cards this year. Ponder better off left on the bench.
RB Adrian Peterson Bills cracked the code on Cardinals last week, totaling 141 rush yards & 2 TDs. Peterson's a must.
WR Percy Harvin Despite containing Bills WRs last week, Cardinals are susceptible to the deep ball and speedy receivers.
TE Kyle Rudolph Tough matchup. Cards have allowed one TE to score more than 6 Fantasy points so far this year. You'll still probably start him.
DST Vikings Must start. Arizona's offensive issues run deep. Each of the last 3 opposing DSTs vs. ARI have posted 15+ Fantasy points.

The Cardinals need their defense to not only create turnovers but to score, which they are capable of in a game like this one. The Vikings pass rush at home is always tough and should be able to get to John Skelton four or five times at a minimum. The Cards offense has to settle for a short game and hope for yards after the catch. Any attempt to wait for downfield routes could wind up in a sack and Minnesota has 35 sacks in its last 11 home games. If Larry Fitzgerald is going to have a good game, he'll need to catch at least six or seven passes. -- Pat Kirwan

Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Reliant Stadium
Baltimore Ravens
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Joe Flacco Sure, HOU D just let Aaron Rodgers sling six TDs last week, but Flacco isn't Rodgers. Flacco has 2 games w/ 20+ Fantasy points in last 12 road games.
RB Ray Rice You'll still start him but Rice had just 80 total yards in playoff win vs. HOU in January. Texans still have yet to allow rush TD to RB.
WR Torrey Smith Smith is the Ravens' best threat to score on Texans defense fresh off of getting slammed by the Packers. Worth starting.
WR Anquan Boldin Texans have allowed three receivers to top 90 yards in their last two games. Boldin has topped 90 in two of his last three.
TE Dennis Pitta After 31 targets in first three games Pitta's had 11 in his last three. HOU has allowed a TD to TE in each of last four. Tough call.
DST Ravens   No DST has posted more than 11 Fantasy points against the Texans. Without Lewis & Webb it will be hard for Ravens to do well.
Houston Texans
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Matt Schaub Whole new world for opposing QBs vs. BAL with secondary, pass rush depleted. Schaub's not bad.
RB Arian Foster Has at least 100 total yards in each of three career games vs. BAL. Ravens have been awful vs. run.
WR Andre Johnson Caught 8 of 12 passes thrown his way last week, will eventually get going. Dez lit up the Ravens pass D last week.
TE Owen Daniels No tight ends have scored on the Ravens this year, Daniels has never scored on Ravens in his career (one game w/ over 30 receiving yards).
DST Texans Decent starting option. Ravens have allowed 14 sacks, 4 INTs this season.

The lesson learned from the Packers offense for the Ravens is to get in three-receiver formations and force the Texans into a sub-package defense. Brian Cushing is missed most in those sub defenses and the Packers took advantage of the situation. Flacco has an excellent no-huddle attack and if Glover Quin gets up in the box in the sub defense, Ray Rice will run for some big yards. Flacco's road woes aren't as big of an issue for me here -- he has three 300-yard passing games this season and is capable of it again. The Ravens like what they saw when the Texans had to play from behind last week and I would not be surprised to see them come out early with the passing game.-- Pat Kirwan

Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Lucas Oil Stadium
Cleveland Browns
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Brandon Weeden 4 of 5 QBs vs. IND have thrown at least 2 TDs, three have 240+ yards. Weeden should hit those numbers, albeit with some turnovers.
RB Trent Richardson Sounds like he'll play vs. a run D that's allowed 8 rush TDs & 141.0 rush yards per game. Must start.
RB Montario Hardesty   Desperation option. Might get a handful of carries in effort to ease Richardson into workload.
WR Josh Gordon Colts have allowed 5 TDs to WRs in their last three, though no WR has topped 90 yards vs. IND since Week 2.
DST Browns Desperation option. Might pick up a couple of turnovers and a sack vs. Luck but could also yield some big numbers.
Indianapolis Colts
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Andrew Luck 4 of last 5 QBs vs. CLE have thrown 3 TDs! That's enough to make Luck a good rebound candidate after Week 6 nightmare.
RB Vick Ballard Browns allowing 144.2 rush yards per game to RBs. Ballard should have more than 8 carries this week.
WR Reggie Wayne Should see a lot of CB Joe Haden but so did A.J. Green last week & he did amazing. Plenty of targets headed his way.
WR Donnie Avery Last 3 games: 29 targets, 9 catches for 110 yards and no scores. So he plays a lot but just isn't doing a lot with it.
DST Colts Can't use them. Browns offense is perking up & Indy pass rush is deflated.

The two rookie quarterbacks in this game are not afraid to throw 40 times each, so they are both capable of 300-yard games. It really is more about which pass defense presents the biggest problems. The Browns defense has given up 15 touchdown passes but also has 10 interceptions. Cornerback Joe Haden has knocked off the rust following his first game back from suspension and will match up with Reggie Wayne. Indianapolis has played one less game, but only has two interceptions on defense. Six of Andrew Luck's seven touchdown passes are at home so I give him a slight edge over Weeden as far as numbers go. Look for Luck to throw for 300 yards and two touchdowns.-- Pat Kirwan

Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Bank of America Stadium
Dallas Cowboys
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Tony Romo Each of last 7 QBs with 36+ pass attempts vs. CAR have topped 270 yards w/ multiple TDs. Romo has had 36+ pass attempts in 4 of 5 games this year.
RB Felix Jones In 10 career games with 15+ carries has 4 100-yard games and 3 TDs. Matchup is good: Panthers allowing 197.4 total yards to RBs this season.
RB Phillip Tanner Desperation starter. Could get 5-10 carries behind Felix (more if Jones gets hurt).
WR Dez Bryant Must-start. Caught all but 2 targeted passes last week, faces another weak secondary this week.
WR Miles Austin Panthers allowing 137.2 yards to receivers per game. If the Panthers hone in on Dez, Austin will explode.
TE Jason Witten Has caught 19 of 21 targets over last 3 for 200 yards and a TD, making him a Top 5 TE in that span.
DST Cowboys Not worth the gamble. They should struggle to pressure Newton; have just 10 sacks on the year.
Carolina Panthers
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Cam Newton When pressured, Newton struggles. But even with O-line tattered he should evade Cowboys' suspect pass rush. I think he'll play well.
RB DeAngelo Williams Fine as a one-week guy. Dallas is averaging 124.0 total yards to RBs per week.
RB Jonathan Stewart No RB has caught more than 2 passes vs. DAL this year, Cowboys have only allowed 4 total TDs to RBs.
WR Steve Smith Defenses have bracketed Smith to contain him, and the Cowboys have done well vs. WRs in 4 of 5 games.
TE Greg Olsen Expect him to get more involved after just two catches in Week 5. Cowboys have allowed 3 TDs to TEs this year.
DST Panthers   Major sleeper. Unit has 14 sacks, five INTs and two TDs, plus they're getting some starters back.

Every quarterback suffers when they lose their starting center. From the line calls, to the snap, to blocking the midline to pass, it is all different. What makes matters worse is that I believe Kalil is the best center in the NFL. As for good Cam vs. bad Cam, give the defenses some credit for his slow start. In his first five games last year he had seven touchdown passes, nine interceptions, 10 sacks and five rushing touchdowns. This year in his first five games he has four touchdown passes, five interceptions, 13 sacks and three rushing touchdowns. Dallas will study how defenses have contained him and reduce his red zone running threat. That's enough of a factor to make his numbers shrink. -- Pat Kirwan

Green Bay Packers at St. Louis Rams -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Edward Jones Dome
Green Bay Packers
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Aaron Rodgers Rams pass D is dangerous but Dolphins stung them for 2 pass TDs last week. You're starting Rodgers.
RB Alex Green St. Louis run D has come around, allowing 74.0 rush yards per game over last three with 1 TD. Green's OK as a flex.
WR Jordy Nelson Rams have yet to allow a 100-yard receiver and have only yielded 2 TDs to wideouts. That could change.
WR James Jones Eight red zone targets, eight catches, seven touchdowns. Sit this guy at your own risk.
WR Randall Cobb Think he's just getting started. In 3 games where Packers didn't have CedBen rolling Cobb has 20 catches for 261 yards and a TD.
TE Jermichael Finley Rams allowed first TD of the year to a TE last week (Anthony Fasano). Finley has 4 or fewer catches in five straight games.
DST Packers Good choice for Week 7. Rams struggling to run, weak at receiver. DSTs vs. Rams have 9+ Fantasy points in each of last four.
St. Louis Rams
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Sam Bradford Packers had been awful vs. pass until they jammed Matt Schaub in Week 6. Bradford will take shots but can't be trusted.
RB Steven Jackson Packers have held RBs to three rush TD this year, Jackson has zero. Try to sit him.
RB Daryl Richardson Long-term sleeper. Has some explosiveness and will keep getting chances with Jackson declining.
WR Chris Givens Desperation option. Packers have allowed 5 TDs to WRs in last four weeks. Maybe he can catch a bomb.
WR Brandon Gibson Deep sleeper. Seven WRs have had at least 4 catches vs. GB this year. 5 have had at least 7 Fantasy points.
DST Rams The 49ers, Bears and Texans DST have totaled 11 or fewer Fantasy points vs. the Packers. Rams can't be trusted.

Jermichael Finley gets his opportunities, but he doesn't hold on to the ball or always run the right route. He does find time to criticize his quarterback, which is a big mistake. The Rams have pass rushers and cover corners and the place to attack is the middle of the field. Finley and the slot receiver (Randall Cobb) will get targets, but only one of them is playing at a high level right now. I like Cobb to have more production than Finley -- leave the tight end on your bench. -- Pat Kirwan

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Raymond James Stadium
New Orleans Saints
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Drew Brees Bucs have been surprisingly good vs. the pass but Brees is a must. History vs. Bucs is prolific.
RB Darren Sproles Had 99 total yards & TD in last game vs. TB but hasn't had a game that strong yet this year. Bucs have done well vs. RBs catching the ball.
RB Pierre Thomas Desperation starter. I don't buy the Bucs' run defense as strong, but I don't buy the Saints as a running team.
RB Mark Ingram   Of the three rush TDs allowed by the Bucs, none have come from inside the 5-yard line.
WR Marques Colston The good: Has 5+ catches in each of last 5 vs. NO. The bad: Has 1 TD in that span, TB hasn't allowed a TD to WR in three games.
WR Lance Moore Super cool! Moore has 3 TDs in last 5 vs. Bucs including two in Tampa Bay. Call him a low-end option.
WR Devery Henderson   History vs. Bucs stinks, history playing outdoors (1 TD in last 18 games outside) is worse.
TE Jimmy Graham Has TD or 100+ yards in 2 of last 3 vs. TB but Bucs are much improved vs. tight ends. Ankle could limit him but you'll still start him.
DST Saints   Can't use them. Saints have yet to score 12+ points in a week, Bucs have allowed 12+ Fantasy points to DST once all year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Josh Freeman Gotta love him. Saints' pass D is awful, yielding 298.8 pass yards per game with 10 total TDs to QBs. Freeman has 250+ yards in each of last 3 vs. NO.
RB Doug Martin Saints allowing 197.4 total yards to RBs per week, have allowed a 100+ total yard RB in each of last 3. Martin should roll.
RB LeGarrette Blount Saints have allowed 5 rush TDs inside the 5-yard line. Blount could get involved there.
WR Vincent Jackson Must start. New Orleans has given up 8 TDs to WRs with five 90+ yard games allowed.
WR Mike Williams Williams has yet to top 4 catches in a game but has 7+ Fantasy points in 4 of 5 games. Should stay involved.
DST Buccaneers Probably the only bad Fantasy play amongst the prominent Buccaneers.

I would love to see more no-huddle from the Bucs and let them turn Josh Freeman loose, but they have the fewest no-huddle plays in the league. In the last two weeks Freeman has thrown for 627 yards and four touchdowns. Freeman is 2-2 in his last four games against New Orleans with six touchdowns and no interceptions, averaging 37 attempts. The Saints pass rush improved in their last game, but they can still be thrown on. I could see Freeman throwing for at least 250 yards and two touchdowns.-- Pat Kirwan

Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, Ralph Wilson Stadium
Tennessee Titans
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Matt Hasselbeck Deep sleeper. 4 of 6 QBs vs. BUF have had 250+ yards and 2+ TDs. He went touchdownless at BUF last year.
RB Chris Johnson Five RBs have had 10+ Fantasy points vs. BUF including four starters. Johnson's best 2011 game came at Buffalo (153 rush yards, 2 TDs).
WR Kenny Britt Receivers have 11 TDs in six games vs. Bills. BUF has allowed 90+ yards to WR in three straight.
WR Kendall Wright Has 26 catches in last four games, making him a PPR stud. Weird: Only 5 WRs have 5+ catches vs. Bills this year.
WR Nate Washington   Becoming the forgotten man in the Titans offense. Probably shouldn't be used except in desperate situations.
TE Jared Cook Bills have allowed 10+ Fantasy points to Gronk and V. Davis, the remaining TEs they've faced have 4 Fantasy points or less.
DST Titans Titans DST remains among the worst in the NFL, Bills offense could clean up with them.
Buffalo Bills
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Titans have given up 13 pass TDs (at least 2 per week), four 250+ yard passers. Fitzpatrick might not need to throw a ton here but is still serviceable.
RB C.J. Spiller Expect big numbers here. Titans run D has allowed 173.5 total yards to RBs per game. Spiller had 102 yards & a TD vs. TEN last year.
RB Fred Jackson Wouldn't be a shock to see him score. Titans have allowed a TD to a RB in each of last four games.
WR Steve Johnson Titans have allowed four 90-yard receivers in last five games. Johnson scored on them in '11.
TE Scott Chandler Worth considering. Tennessee has allowed 6+ Fantasy points to six TEs in 6 games.
DST Bills Worth a gamble. 4 of 6 DSTs vs. TEN have had 12+ Fantasy points. Bills defense came alive last week.

The running backs are the hot topic in this game, but all three have some challenging variables. I just can't get excited about the Titans running game with Chris Johnson. He has been too inconsistent this season. He has four games this year with 24 or fewer yards, and that makes him difficult to trust. The problem with the Bills' run game is that they split the carries between Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. I believe the Bills at home will have better rushing numbers and should get 30 carries and 130 yards from their top two backs. How that breaks down is a guessing game. -- Pat Kirwan

Washington Redskins at New York Giants -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, MetLife Stadium
Washington Redskins
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Robert Griffin III Every team has thrown for 240+ pass yards vs. NYG, three have 2+ TDs. RG3 can't be benched.
RB Alfred Morris Each of the 4 RBs with 17+ carries vs. NYG this year have had double-digit Fantasy points. Morris has 17+ carries in 4 of 6 games (16 in other two).
WR Leonard Hankerson Was in on WR-best 81 pct. Of Redskins plays in Week 6. If there's a deep sleeper among this group, it's him.
TE Fred Davis Davis has 8+ Fantasy points in 3 of last 4 vs. NYG but matchup is tough. Giants have yet to allow a TD to a TE this year, only one has had more than 60 yards receiving.
DST Redskins   The last four DSTs to take on the Giants have averaged 3.5 Fantasy points. That's a likely projection for the Redskins.
New York Giants
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Eli Manning Eli's last four vs. WAS: One pass TD, one rush TD, no 300-yard games, six interceptions. But the Redskins' pass D is so poor that it shouldn't matter this time.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw WAS run D has limited RBs to 99.3 total yards per game, 4 total TDs on the year. But red-hot Bradshaw has 6 TDs in his last 5 vs. WAS.
RB David Wilson Still worth stashing on benches. Had season-high seven carries last week.
WR Victor Cruz Cruz had 44 yards & no TD in only game he participated in vs. WAS last year. He'll make up for it vs. league's bottom-ranked pass D.
WR Hakeem Nicks Did not look full speed last week vs. SF, might be more of a possession guy until he can regain his speed.
TE Martellus Bennett Make or break week for Bennett. Redskins have allowed 5 TDs to TEs in six games. Problem: He has 9 targets (2 in red zone) in last three games.
DST Giants Only one defense has contained RG3 (Atlanta) and it's the only one to post 10+ Fantasy points vs. WAS. Giants a little risky.

Playing an athletic quarterback with real run skills always presents a problem for any team. My guess would be that the Giants will contain rush Robert Griffin III and try and keep him in the pocket and not trigger his escape skills. St. Louis and Cincinnati beat the Redskins even though RG3 ran more than 10 times in each game. The Giants will need a separate game plan for RG3, but it starts with minimizing Alfred Morris and the run game first. Keep in mind RG3 has only thrown for 273 yards and one touchdown in the last two weeks. -- Pat Kirwan

Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders -- Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Coliseum
Jacksonville Jaguars
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Blaine Gabbert   Desperation starter because of the matchup. Raiders allowing 323.7 pass yards to QBs over their last three.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew Oakland-born kid playing his first game back home ever! Has scored in previous two games vs. OAK. Raiders run D allowing 111.8 rush yards per game.
WR Justin Blackmon Raiders allowing 182.2 pass yards to WRs through five games. Blackmon has a chance as a one-week starter.
WR Cecil Shorts   Deep sleeper. Jags coaches have been talking him up, Raiders pass defense pretty shaky.
TE Marcedes Lewis Raiders have allowed four TDs to TEs in their last four games. Lewis a deep sleeper.
DST Jaguars   Desperation option. Raiders have exceeded 20 points once this year, but Jaguars allowing 27.6 points per game.
Oakland Raiders
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Carson Palmer Great starting choice. Jags have allowed 240+ yards & 2 TDs in each of last three games. Palmer is averaging 286.8 pass yards per game with 6 TDs.
RB Darren McFadden Should be a huge day for McFadden. Jags have allowed six rush TDs, 185.0 total yards per game to RBs.
RB Mike Goodson Desperation option. Has earned about 5-7 touches per game, could get more based on favorable matchup.
WR Denarius Moore Jaguars have allowed 3 TDs, 190.5 yards to WRs in last two games. Moore should flatten them.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey Can't trust him yet, though if there was ever a game for him to get going in, this is it.
TE Brandon Myers Jaguars have been surprisingly good vs. tight ends but are down a starting safety. Myers not a bad one-week option.
DST Raiders Very solid one-week replacement. DSTs vs. Jaguars have posted 19+ Fantasy points in 3 of last 4.

The running back is always tied to the quarterback and with that in mind Darren McFadden should have a better day at home than Maurice Jones-Drew. Carson Palmer knows how to get the ball in McFadden's hands better than Blaine Gabbert can for MJD. McFadden the receiver is the difference and could be the target of 10 passes to go along with 20-25 carries. McFadden hasn't had big numbers yet but this is a game where that could turn around.-- Pat Kirwan

New York Jets at New England Patriots -- Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Gillette Stadium
New York Jets
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Mark Sanchez   Pats' secondary is suspect & Sanchez threw two TDs last week but it would take major stones to roll with him.
RB Shonn Greene Coming off a monster but has never had consecutive 100-yard games, has 1 TD in career vs. NE. Pats have allowed just one 100-yard game & 2 TD to RBs.
WR Stephen Hill Rookie is a good deep-ball threat for Jets to attack Patriots with. He's a sleeper.
WR Jeremy Kerley Desperation sleeper. Has 130 yards and no scores in his last three games.
TE Dustin Keller Four TEs have scored on the Pats over the last four weeks but Keller is a risk given his legs. He has 2 TDs in 8 career games vs. NE
DST Jets   There isn't a DST yet to exceed 10 Fantasy points vs. the Pats and the Jets aren't expected to be the first.
New England Patriots
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Tom Brady You're starting Brady but Jets have allowed just one pass TD since Revis' injury. Brady had 300+ yards in two meetings vs. NYJ last year with 4 TDs.
RB Stevan Ridley Jets' stomping of Vick Ballard last week doesn't mean their run D is strong. They've allowed 7 TDs to RBs this season.
RB Danny Woodhead Not sure he'll see as much work given the matchup. Pats could run with Ridley and throw downfield with their receiving threats.
WR Wes Welker We'll see if they stick Cromartie on him, but you'll start him anyway. Has posted 9+ Fantasy points in 4 of last 6 vs. Jets.
WR Brandon Lloyd Jets' pass D is solid vs. WRs. No TDs since Week 2, no 100-yard wideouts allowed all year.
TE Aaron Hernandez Jets kept him under wraps last year (97 total yards, no TDs in 2 games) but will have trouble trying to cover him with secondary depleted.
TE Rob Gronkowski Jets signed LaRon Landry specifically for this matchup. Gronk's been off for three straight games but expectations remain high.
DST Patriots Jets QBs have been picked off six times, sacked 11 times, scored under 24 points four times. Patriots a decent option.

Last week the Jets played a porous Colts defense without their leading pass rusher, Robert Mathis (five sacks). With the offense jumping out to a lead it was academic for Shonn Greene to have a big game and Mark Sanchez lead the Jets to their third win. But playing against the Colts at home is not the same as playing the Patriots on the road. In the last three weeks no team has rushed for 100 yards, averaged 4.0 yards per carry or scored a rushing touchdown on the Patriots. Shonn Greene will probably have a mediocre day and Sanchez will have to throw a lot more than the Jets would like. In the past Sanchez is 3-4 against the Patriots averaging 192 yards per game, completing 57 percent of his passes with one or two touchdowns and an interception. I see Sanchez having that kind of day in Foxboro.-- Pat Kirwan

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals -- Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, Paul Brown Stadium
Pittsburgh Steelers
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Ben Roethlisberger Bengals' recent pass stats look good but 3 of last 4 opposing QBs have been rookies. Ben struggled vs. CIN last year but expectations higher this time.
RB Jonathan Dwyer Cincy's run defense has struggled over last two games (3 rush TDs, 146 rush yards) but Dwyer has shown nothing this season to inspire confidence.
WR Mike Wallace A must start even though the Bengals secondary has allowed just four WRs to get at least 9 Fantasy points. Wallace has 8+ Fantasy points in each of last four vs. CIN.
WR Antonio Brown Has never scored on the Bengals in three tries. Does have 7 catches in 3 of last 4 games. Still worth starting.
TE Heath Miller Tight ends have scored in Bengals in 2 of last 3 games. Miller hasn't scored on Cincy since 2008. Maybe he's due.
DST Steelers Good enough to start but a risk nonetheless. Unit has posted 10+ Fantasy points just twice all season.
Cincinnati Bengals
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Andy Dalton 3 of 5 QBs vs. PIT have posted 2+ TDs, something Dalton's done in 4 of 6 games. Not the best QB this week but still start-worthy.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis Has averaged 3.0 yards per carry over last five games. Steelers should hold him down but opposing RBs have posted 11+ Fantasy points in each of last 3 vs. PIT.
WR A.J. Green Obvious must-start. Steelers have allowed 5 pass TDs to WRs so far this year; Green scored in both games vs. PIT in '11.
TE Jermaine Gresham Has been hot, worth starting. Steelers have allowed TD to TE in 3 of 5 games; Gresham has yet to exceed 40 yards in a game vs. PIT.
DST Bengals Each of the last four DSTs vs. PIT have posted 5 Fantasy points or fewer. Not a good week for the Bengals DST.

When did you ever hear of a Steelers defense giving up 100 yards per game on the ground? That has been the case over the last 22 games. Furthermore, cornerback Ike Taylor has struggled in coverage and teams are not afraid to go after him anymore. He is targeted 10 times a game and he can't hold up. Without Troy Polamalu this team has produced a .500 record, and age and injury has really hurt the Steelers as well. With all that being said the offense is strong enough and there is still enough fight in the defense to win the division, but they aren't the Steel Curtain right now. The Bengals' offense has a chance. -- Pat Kirwan

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears -- Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Soldier Field
Detroit Lions
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Matthew Stafford Hard to trust. Needed overtime to post first big game of 2012 last week and has never posted 20+ Fantasy points vs. CHI.
RB Mikel Leshoure Tough matchup. Bears haven't allowed a rush TD to a RB since Week 1, haven't allowed a 100+ total-yard RB since Week 2.
RB Joique Bell Desperation option. Lions could very well fall behind and use Bell to supplement hurry-up offense.
WR Calvin Johnson Obvious must-start but matchup is tough. Bears have allowed WRs to score three times, land 100+ yards just twice through five games.
WR Nate Burleson Risky one-week option. Might score but Bears have allowed one WR per team to over 60 yards. Don't like Burleson's chances.
TE Brandon Pettigrew Only tight end to score on Bears defense was Jason Witten, and he scorched them. Perrigrew hasn't topped 40 yards in last 4 vs. CHI with one TD in that span.
DST Lions Last three DSTs to face Bears didn't top 10 Fantasy points, but they weren't great DSTs. Lions aren't great either (one game with over 10 Fantasy points).
Chicago Bears
Pos. Name Rating Comment
QB Jay Cutler Only 3 QBs have attempted 30+ passes vs. DET, all had 2 TDs & 21+ Fantasy points. Cutler's last 3 vs. DET stinks but the matchup can't be denied.
RB Matt Forte Obvious must-start. Lions have allowed 10+ Fantasy points to 3 of last 4 starting RBs.
RB Michael Bush Risky option. Lions have only allowed one rush TD this season. Not sure Bush can land a goal-line plunge.
WR Brandon Marshall Lions allowing 158.6 yards per game to receivers so far, though with three TDs. Marshall should be productive.
WR Devin Hester   Should be given a chance to do some damage, but still can't be trusted outside of return-yardage leagues.
TE Kellen Davis Sneaky sleeper this week. Lions nearly allowed TDs to Brent Celek last week, have been iffy vs. tight ends overall.
DST Bears 4 of 5 DSTs vs. Lions have posted double-digit Fantasy points. Bears' DST the hottest unit in Fantasy.

Matthew Stafford may have looked 'rusty' last week, but he turned it up a notch when the game was on the line. Down 13 points in the fourth quarter he went 12 for 18 for 161 yards and a touchdown. Stafford wasn't sacked once in 45 pass attempts on the road in Philadelphia. He knows the Bears defense well with their 'mug' looks and Tampa 2 coverage schemes. Last year he called 92 pass plays in two games with mixed results: Three touchdowns and five interceptions but only three sacks. Mikel Leshoure should help reduce the number of pass plays Stafford will have to run, but he will still go to Calvin Johnson a lot. Last year he was targeted 25 times with 12 receptions and 211 yards, but only one touchdown in the two games against the Bears. The uncertainty around Stafford could make him someone to consider depending on what other quarterbacks are at your disposal. -- Pat Kirwan

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Player News
Texans' O'Brien: WR DeAndre Hopkins can 'be one of the best'
by Dave Peters |
(12:28 am ET) Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is very encouraged by the performance of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last season, per ESPN. O'Brien went as far as to say that Hopkins can be one of the best.

"He had a really productive year," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "The thing that we really like about Hop and that we want him to continue to do is his work ethic. He’s a hungry player. He works every single day. He came into the spring a year ago and he was learning the offense and thinking out there, then all of a sudden you could see all the work he put in and learning, he just took off."

Due to the departure of wide receiver Andre Johnson, the progression of Hopkins will be under the microscope as he is now the focal point of the passing offense.

"We just want to see him continue and progress," O'Brien said. "We think he can be one of the best, we think he is one of the best. We have a lot of confidence in him and we’re looking forward to seeing him progress when the offseason program starts."

In two years with the Texans, Hopkins has reeled in 128 receptions for 2012 yards and eight touchdowns.

Giants won't rush WR Victor Cruz back to the field
by Dave Peters |
(12:12 am ET) Although Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is hopeful that wide receiver Victor Cruz will be ready by training camp, the team will not rush him back, reports ESPN.

"I shouldn't say this, because medically I really don't have a definite answer, but by training camp hopefully, even if it's just to bring him," Coughlin said. "We're not going to just throw him to the wind. He'll work his way through. But I hope that would be the target."

Cruz tore his patellar tendon in week six of the 2014 season, causing him to miss the rest of the year. Coughlin is hopeful that he'll return to be the player that he was before the injury.

"I think he'll be the player that he was, and hopefully better," Coughlin said of Cruz. "But as far as when, I would be careful of what I would say there. Hopefully it's the first game. But if it isn't, you know we've done that one before. We just went through it. But I'm hoping it would be."

The former undrafted free agent has tallied 264 receptions for 3,963 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford to take more chances through the air
by Dave Peters |
(3/31/2015) Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's system for the first time last season. The team plans on taking more chances down the field in Stafford's second season in the new offense, Lombardi said, according to the team's official website.

“In his second year (in the offense) he’s going to be that much more comfortable,” Lombardi said.

“We’ll be able to tailor the offense a little bit more to what he likes and what he’s good at. I thought he played smart football and sometimes to a fault. We’ll look for him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football.”

Although Stafford didn't take many shots down the field, he did throw a career-low 12 interceptions in 2014. 

The former first overall draft pick has thrown for 21,714 yards with 131 touchdowns and 85 interceptions during his six-year career.

Colts OLB Robert Mathis plans to be ready for training camp
by Dave Peters |
(3/31/2015) Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is not ready to run yet, he told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL. Mathis added that he plans to be ready for the start of training camp.

“It’s not going as fast as I would like to, but we are getting well and we should be clicking in camp,” Mathis told Sirius.

Mathis was suspended for the first four games of last season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy. He then suffered a torn achilles, forcing him to miss all 16 games of the 2014 season.

During his 11-year career with the Colts, Mathis has collected 487 total tackles, 111.0 sacks, 15 passes defensed and 48 forced fumbles.

Lions TE Eric Ebron has been working out with Matthew Stafford
by Dave Peters |
(3/31/2015) Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said that tight end Eric Ebron has been working out with quarterback Matthew Stafford in Atlanta this offseason, reports the Detroit News. Lombardi also said that the plan is to have Ebron be the No. 3 weapon in the passing game this year.

Ebron, 21, finished his rookie season with 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. 

Cowboys' Tony Romo: DeMarco Murray asked me to take a pay cut
by Brandon Wise |
(3/31/2015) Eagles running back DeMarco Murray was really hoping to remain with the Cowboys this offseason. So much so, he asked quarterback Tony Romo to take a pay cut to remain with the team, Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning News.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."

Giants QB Eli Manning wants to take offense 'to another level'
by Dave Peters |
(3/31/2015) Giants quarterback Eli Manning is entering the second year in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system. Manning is ready to take the next step now that he is familiar with the system, reports the NY Daily News.

““This year will be a much easier transition, knowing that we have been through so much of it already,” said Manning, who recently had been working out at Ole Miss with some of their receivers and alumni. “It’s definitely a different starting point. I feel good about it. I feel that I have a good understanding of it.

“But there is still room to grow and that is why I try to keep it as fresh in my mind as possible. Looking at old game-plan sheets and calling plays in my head – throwing routes with receivers trying to call out plays to myself, so you don’t let it slip away. It was new last year and it wasn’t something I have been doing for 10 years, so you want to keep it fresh and go through your reminders and all your checks. So when we come back I haven’t taken a step backwards and have to re-learn things. It is still all there. There will be new stuff and we will be taking it to another level.”

Manning has started all 16 games in each season since 2005, throwing for 39,755 yards with 259 touchdowns and 185 interceptions.

Saints TE Josh Hill wants to grow into new role
by Dave Peters |
(3/31/2015) After trading trading Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, tight end Josh Hill is ready to step into his new role with the Saints, according to the team's offical website.

“I think it might open a few opportunities for me as I continue to grow in my role and just do everything they ask me to do,” Hill said when asked about the trade of Graham to the Seahawks.

Hill recognized that Graham helped him transition from college to the professional level.

“It’s a big difference, especially coming from a smaller school and a smaller city," Hill said. "He was always there for me. We became pretty good friends over the past few years so it will definitely be different without him.”

Head coach Sean Payton believes that Hill is ready to step up.

“Josh Hill is a player that we value a lot," Payton said last week at the NFL annual meeting. "He’s not on anyone’s fantasy first three rounds, I promise you, but he’s a real good tight end. He’s versatile in the running game, in the pass receiving game, a special teams player.”

Hill, heading into his third year in the NFL, has recorded 20 receptions for 220 yards and six touchdowns. 

Cowboys QB Tony Romo excited about this offseason
by Dave Peters |
(3/31/2015) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is excited about what the offseason holds for him, according to ESPN.

“This is the first offseason where I’ve been able to kind of get after it this early and be able to kind of improve in a lot of different areas that I think you aren’t able to until you get healthy enough to attack it,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday. “I’m just excited about that, really.”

Romo, 34, is encouraged by the fact that he is able to do a lot of different things during the offseason process while working out.

“Now I’m able to do that while actually doing functional strength training through different versions of squats,” Romo said. “I’m not putting anything on my back and doing stuff like that but you are doing a lot of single-leg stuff and different things that I started getting into during the season that helped a lot. Now it’s nice to be able to do that in the offseason.”

Romo has thrown for 33,270 yards with 242 touchdowns and 110 interceptions in his 12-year career. 

WR Dwayne Bowe looks to revitalize himself with Browns
by Dave Peters |
(3/31/2015) Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is looking to revitalize his career now that he has joined the Browns, reports ESPN. Bowe was cut by the Chiefs in the middle of March.

"I have a chance to revitalize myself," Bowe, 30, told via telephone Tuesday. "Just sit back and watch."

Browns general manager Ray Farmer has familiarity with Bowe from their time with the Chiefs. The two sat down and watched tape from the 2010 season when he racked up 15 touchdown receptions.

"Him knowing what I can do, seeing me in practice, making crazy plays, splitting the safeties, he knows I still can do that," Bowe said. "I couldn't showcase that last year. He was pulling up old plays, saying, 'We are going to use you just like that.' Moving around, going on motion, trying to hit the deep ball, trying to break plays."

The 30-year-old wideout appreciated his time with the Chiefs and he has no regrets.

"It's been up and down, but it's been fun," Bowe said. "I don't regret nothing. People can talk about the NFL and playing wide receiver -- I feel I still have a good four more years in me."

Over his eight-year career, he has totaled 532 receptions for 7,155 yards and 44 touchdowns.