Buccaneers at Panthers, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Bucs won last week capitalizing on some unique plays on both sides of the ball (that last "interception" was just weird). But they have learned how to hang around in games and are obviously familiar with Cam Newton. That being said it will take another strong effort from Mike Glennon for the Bucs to be close because Carolina will put points on this defense. Given the Panthers' track record, I'm not sure that's going to be easy.
Mike Glennon, QB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Carolina just had its worst game against a quarterback in terms of Fantasy points allowed last week when Ryan Tannehill made it to 19 points. That's as good as it's been for opposing passers -- no one else has had any better than 17 points this season! Tannehill needed 36 rushing yards to do it, too. Glennon has posted two touchdowns in three of his last four and five of eight starts but couldn't do it at home against the Panthers in a Thursday night game. He attempted a career-high 51 passes in the game but hasn't had more than 23 pass attempts in four games since. Expect Glennon to take some downfield shots like the Dolphins did last week and put up decent yardage but also get pressured a bunch and not necessarily put up big stats.
I'd rather start: Matt Flynn, Matt Ryan, Brandon Weeden
Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Last week was a perfect example of a hot running back with minimal experience going from a cupcake matchup to a very difficult one. Rainey had 35 yards on 18 carries and was bottled up on many of his carries against the Lions and faces another very tough defense in the Panthers. Carolina has allowed just four touchdowns (three rushing) to rushers all year and held the Dolphins to 16 rush yards on 13 carries last week. This is a bad week to trust Rainey -- better weeks are coming.
I'd rather start: Rashard Mendenhall, Dennis Johnson
Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Tiquan Underwood, WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
It'll be a point of emphasis for the Panthers to stop big plays through the air after Mike Wallace was targeted (and effective) on many deep lobs last week. And this Bucs team won last week without Jackson having a nice game, a big development that forces the Panthers to pay attention to Underwood and others. It could lead to some creative playcalling by the Bucs and leaning on Underwood to provide at least the threat of downfield throws.
I'd start Jackson over: Giants WRs, Patriots WRs
I'd rather start over Underwood: Brandon LaFell, Michael Crabtree
Timothy Wright, TE, Buccaneers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
As is the case with pretty much everyone, Wright does well when given enough targets. When he has at least four targets he's delivered at least seven Fantasy points every time except back in Week 4. He tends to get these targets when the Buccaneers run game can't get going and that will be the case this week against Carolina. The Panthers have been susceptible to tight ends in the past, making Wright worth gambling on as a low-end starter.
Flow chart: Greg Olsen > Martellus Bennett > Timothy Wright > Delanie Walker > Garrett Graham
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: My Projection: 22 FPTS
Newton's pretty much a no-brainer, particularly after posting two scores on the Dolphins' tough pass defense last week. Tampa Bay has allowed two or more touchdowns to each of the last seven quarterbacks they've faced including three to Newton back in Week 8.
I'd start him over: Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 3 FPTS
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 2 FPTS
Tampa Bay has allowed just one touchdown to a running back over its last four games -- and it came in garbage time. But the Bucs have given up an average of 124.3 total yards per game to backs over that span. While that sounds nice, the sad reality is that the Panthers split up the run game so much that each one eats at the other two. I wouldn't feel comfortable starting any of these guys.
I'd rather start: Brandon Jacobs, Andre Ellington, Toby Gerhart
Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Of the 11 receivers to catch a touchdown against Tampa Bay (some have caught two), seven were non-No. 1 receivers. That's perfect for those who are tired of starting Steve Smith as well as those looking for a sleeper. LaFell has only scored once in his last six but does have 19 catches on 30 targets in his last four games, so it's not like he's not involved. Both Panthers players are risky.
Low-end WR flow chart: Terrance Williams > Brandon LaFell > Ted Ginn > Cordarrelle Patterson > Steve Smith
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
We might see the Bucs focus on stopping tight ends after allowing two to score on them last week. But Olsen has been money in the red zone, scoring in four of his last five games including two at the goal line. He's remains worth starting.
I'd start him over: Timothy Wright, Antonio Gates
Cardinals at Eagles, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
This is a very intriguing matchup featuring a hot Cardinals team that has scored at least 27 points in each of the last four games (all wins) and an Eagles team that posted at least 24 points in each of the last three games (all wins). But it's been the Eagles winning moderately high-scoring games while the Cardinals have used defense to help blow out some opponents. The Eagles defense has let opponents get back into games, a problem that could rear its head again on Sunday. Philadelphia's going to have to use its fast-break offense for much of the game to really negate the strengths of that Arizona defense.
Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals: My Projection: 17 FPTS
Palmer's been playing a lot better in part because of better protection from his offensive line and better numbers from receiver Michael Floyd. Things are clicking for him even though he's taken 10 sacks over his last four games. The Eagles pass rush has improved (a third of their sacks have come over their last three games) and chances are they'll send some heat after Palmer. Also take note of how Eagles have done against quarterbacks over their last five games: Only one has multiple touchdowns against them (Robert Griffin III in a comeback effort) and the other one that had more than 15 Fantasy points ran for 94 yards (Terrelle Pryor). This is a deceptively good unit, making me take some caution with Palmer this week.
Flow chart: Andy Dalton > Andrew Luck > Carson Palmer > Eli Manning > Mike Glennon
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 5 FPTS
While it's not clear that Mendenhall is the Cardinals' top running back, it is clear he's their guy at the goal line. Ellington has actually played more snaps than Mendenhall in two of the Cardinals last three games but Mendenhall has had more touches in all three and scored more Fantasy points in the last two because of finding the end zone. This is just how the Cardinals operate and Fantasy owners have to adjust. Even though the Eagles have allowed 143.8 total yards per game to running backs over their last six games, they've yielded just two rushing touchdowns and three scores total to backs in that time frame. With Mendenhall and Ellington continuing to split the numbers won't be awesome for either one. Note that Ellington appeared on the injury report on Thursday and could be held out.
I'd rather start: Shane Vereen, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brandon Bolden
Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 9 FPTS
In his last two games Floyd has caught 13 of 18 targets for 297 yards and a touchdown. Those are the highest totals he's had in back-to-back games all year. Expect his yardage to remain solid this week as the Eagles have allowed 200.3 yards per game just to receivers over their last four. But in a weird twist, they've given up just one touchdown to wideouts in those four games. I'd still expect a big dose of work for Floyd, keeping him relevant in Fantasy.
No. 3 WR flow chart: Harry Douglas > Michael Floyd > Marques Colston > Kendall Wright > Hakeem Nicks
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: My Projection: 21 FPTS
This won't be easy for Foles but the combination of the Eagles using their fast-break offense and a nice semblance of receiving threats should make him effective. The Eagles offense is predicated on getting rid of the ball quickly. That erases any kind of blitz effectiveness the Cardinals draw up. So long as Foles remains on point (and he should continue to be) he should be able to complete a bunch of passes for good numbers. Only one of the last four quarterbacks to take on the Cardinals has posted 20-plus Fantasy points and it was one that had a stud receiver and an aggressive game plan (Case Keenum).
I'd start him over: Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck
Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Four receivers have posted 11 or more Fantasy points on the Cardinals in their last five games, a pretty decent sign that wideouts can have success against them. Playing opposite from DeSean Jackson should lead to more opportunities and stats for Cooper, who has landed at least eight Fantasy points in four of his last six games.
I'd start him over: Giants WRs, Pierre Garcon, Torrey Smith
Jaguars at Browns, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Maurice Jones-Drew must keep coming through for the Jaguars to keep racking up wins. But this week he'll roll against a Browns defense that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown in four straight games. Combine that tough matchup with the likelihood that Chad Henne will struggle to throw a touchdown pass (he has two in his last six games) and I'd bank on a Browns win.
No-brainers: Josh Gordon
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Over their last four games the Browns have not allowed a running back to score and have held opposing ball carries to just 3.3 yards per carry. Only one guy has totaled over 100 yards in those four games (Jamaal Charles, though Le'Veon Bell came close last week). In fact only four backs have had 100 total yards against Cleveland all season. Expect the Browns to focus on MJD given his role as the Jaguars' best offensive weapon.
Flow chart: Donald Brown > Rashad Jennings > Maurice Jones-Drew > Shane Vereen > Pierre Thomas
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 7 FPTS
It's pretty clear what to expect from Shorts going forward: A decent amount of yards on a bunch of catches. Shorts is fine for PPR leagues (seven-plus catches in six games this year) but his lack of touchdowns and inability to find soft coverage make him a depressing start in Fantasy. Stunningly, four of the seven receivers with seven catches against the Browns have under nine Fantasy points on the year.
I'd rather start: Tavon Austin, Eric Decker
Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns: My Projection: 8 FPTS
With Jason Campbell, Cameron was often forgotten. With Weeden he's far more on the radar. In parts of effectively six games Weeden has targeted Cameron 46 times, connecting on 29 of them for 365 yards and two touchdowns. That's marked improvement over Campbell. The Jaguars have allowed eight touchdowns to tight ends this year, tied for third-most in the NFL.
I'd start him over: Jason Witten, Jared Cook
Titans at Colts, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
A win by the Titans puts them in serious position to make a run at the AFC South. The wheels have come off of a Colts defense that played so well at the beginning of the season. Over their last four games they've allowed 401.3 total yards per game and 32.3 points per game while going 2-2. Tennessee has established passing game threats to go with its run game, forcing Indianapolis to prepare for anything and everything. It's enough to believe that the Titans have a real chance to win.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: My Projection: 13 FPTS
About the only good thing about Johnson's disappointing game last week was his touches -- he had 20 carries and three catches. It's proof Titans coach Mike Munchak was blowing smoke about giving other backs carries earlier in the year. Johnson will take on a Colts run defense that has allowed five touchdowns and 121.6 total yards per game to running backs in their last five. Johnson should be in line for a good game as he did when he played the Colts two weeks ago and totaled 20 Fantasy points.
I'd start him over: Giovani Bernard, Alfred Morris
Kendall Wright, WR, Titans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Wright has posted higher receiving yardage totals over the last four weeks, culminating with a 103-yard outing at Oakland last week that included a game-winning touchdown. Two weeks ago against the Colts he caught nine passes for 80 yards. This is a Colts pass defense that has bottomed out, yielding nine touchdowns and 231.6 yards to receivers over their last five games. Wright is more than just a PPR phenom -- he's worth considering in non-PPR leagues as well.
No. 3 WR Flow chart: Michael Floyd > T.Y. Hilton > Kendall Wright > Mike Wallace > Rod Streater
Delanie Walker, TE, Titans: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Walker disappointed last week but he did have nine targets, proof that he's still an involved part of the Titans offense. Indianapolis' pass defense has actually been good against tight ends for much of the year but did give up a late-game touchdown to Walker a couple of weeks ago. In that game Walker caught 10 of 10 targets for 91 yards, both season highs. Walker's in the conversation to start for Fantasy owners if only on the merit of his targets.
Flow chart: Martellus Bennett > Timothy Wright > Delanie Walker > Charles Clay > Heath Miller
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts: My Projection: 19 FPTS Luck is in another tough matchup against the Titans, a team he has yet to connect for two touchdowns against. That was the case two weeks ago when he played them at their place; Luck tends to play better at home. That's the case this week but Tennessee's pass defense has become very good. Only one quarterback all year has posted 20-plus Fantasy points on the Titans. Two others had 18 or 19 points -- one was Luck back in Week 11. Luck needed 31 rushing yards and no turnovers to get even that many as he scored just once. It's becoming pretty clear that defenses will gameplan for T.Y. Hilton, taking away Luck's top weapon. That makes it hard for Luck to dominate given the other options he has. I'm nervous about his chances for a big game even though he's at home.
Flow chart: Andy Dalton > Alex Smith > Andrew Luck > Carson Palmer > Ben Roethlisberger
Donald Brown, RB, Colts: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Trent Richardson, RB, Colts: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Throw out last week's numbers from these guys -- the Colts fell behind early and had to abandon the run. That shouldn't happen this week as the Titans' biggest weakness is against running backs. Tennessee has allowed 11 touchdowns to running backs in its last seven and multiple touchdowns to rushers in five of its last six. And over the Titans' last six games they've allowed backs to average 155.8 total yards per game. I like Brown's chances to make an impact just like he did two weeks ago at Tennessee (94 total yards, two touchdowns).
I'd start Brown over: Steven Jackson, Patriots RBs
I'd rather start over Richardson: Bilal Powell, DeAngelo Williams, Patriots RBs
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The last two weeks have been dreadful for Hilton as quality pass defenses have taken him away from making a big play downfield. Not that Luck hasn't tried -- against Tennessee he was just off in hitting Hilton for a decent-sized play and at Arizona he tried going deep three times, drawing a pass interference call on one of them and missing on the other two (one by a smidge). Only two receivers have scored on the Titans all year and only one has had over 100 yards, thought last week Rod Streater got the closest since Donnie Avery in Week 5.
Flow chart: Pierre Garcon > Michael Floyd > T.Y. Hilton > Marques Colston > Golden Tate
Coby Fleener, TE, Colts: My Projection: 10 FPTS
There's no doubt about Fleener's role now: He's the Colts No. 2 receiver behind Hilton and the go-to guy on short- and mid-range passes. Fleener had enough work to get 107 yards at Tennessee a couple of weeks ago, making him just the second tight end to get double digits in Fantasy points against the Titans. He'll have a shot to get close again.
I'd start him over: Jordan Reed, Jason Witten
Patriots at Texans, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Eventually there's going to be a game where the Texans buckle up and play close for four quarters. It would be hard to believe this would be it given their performances in their last four home games against the Rams, Colts, Raiders and Jaguars. Houston needs to establish the run to hang in this one -- that's an area the Patriots have clearly struggled in containing. I'm just not sure they have the horses to do it with.
Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Ridley's third fumble in as many matchups could lead to a serious demotion. He already saw his numbers dip over three consecutive games and going back to a Week 1 fumble was limited in his workload for weeks before breaking out. Given the number of running backs on the roster I'd bet on Bill Belichick using Ridley, Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount in the physical running back role, canceling each other out. That leaves Vereen as the only moderately reliable choice to trust in the Patriots backfield. It all stinks because the Texans have given up an average of 4.86 yards per carry over their last three games. They've also allowed a rushing touchdown in each of their last two -- one from a yard out and one from 80 yards out.
I'd start Vereen over: Cardinals RBs, Texans RBs
Flow chart: BenJarvus Green-Ellis > Brandon Bolden > Toby Gerhart > Stevan Ridley > Jonathan Stewart
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 5 FPTS
When you recognize the mess that is the Patriots receiving corps you'll realize why Edelman had the opportunities he had last week. Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins haven't been reliable and Danny Amendola isn't running routes that will get him killed. Enter Edelman, who has already had some success with Brady this year but has also been involved with the Pats offense for several seasons. He was routinely left open and made plays against the Broncos. Houston's pass defense has been stingy about the amount of yards they've allowed but not the number of touchdowns (11). Neither Patriots receiver evokes much confidence to put up numbers because Edelman hasn't consistently been involved and Amendola, while being consistently involved, has been a major disappointment.
I'd rather start: Tavon Austin, Eric Decker
Dennis Johnson, RB, Texans: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Ben Tate, RB, Texans: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Coach Gary Kubiak says he's sticking with Tate as his primary rusher this week but I bet we see more of Johnson, provided he gets off to a decent start. Last week it was crystal clear that Johnson was the faster back of the two, proving he was a great fit for the running scheme the Texans use. I don't have a ton of confidence in either back for a number of reasons -- the Texans could play from behind and not run a lot, and they'll split reps with each other (the hunch is that Tate gets goal-line work, Johnson picks up third downs), and there's not a lot of trust to go around here. Both are worth a bench spot but Johnson is the one I'm more excited about.
I'd rather start: Shane Vereen, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Here's a stat you'll be stunned by: Johnson has never had 10 or more Fantasy points in a game against the Patriots. In five career meetings he's had 95 yards twice, under 40 yards and a touchdown once and two stinkers. You can bet on Bill Belichick assigning Aqib Talib to Johnson with safety help behind him. This could be a tough week for Johnson.
Flow chart: Keenan Allen > Anquan Boldin > Andre Johnson > Pierre Garcon > T.Y. Hilton
Garrett Graham, TE, Texans: My Projection: 7 FPTS
You might rather start Heather Graham over Garrett Graham but the reality is that the matchup is pretty decent for him. The Patriots have allowed a touchdown and thus 10-plus Fantasy points to a tight end in each of their last two games, coinciding with the injury suffered by Steve Gregory. Expect the Texans to challenge the Pats secondary there. Case Keenum has not had a problem throwing to Graham (team-high nine targets last week).
Low-end TE flow chart: Timothy Wright > Delanie Walker > Garrett Graham > Antonio Gates > Charles Clay
Dolphins at Jets, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
If the Jets take care of the ball and not turn it over they'll be in a position to win handily. The Dolphins' offensive line is on fumes and it could collapse just about everything they do on offense. It's worth giving the Fins credit for hanging in there against the Panthers last week but the Jets are far more familiar with them and have good defensive talent to at least challenge Miami.
Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 5 FPTS
It took an injury to Daniel Thomas for Miller to land more work but it's still happening. The problem is Miller will run behind a rag-tag offensive line and into the teeth of the best run defense in the NFL. The Jets have allowed 128 yards to running backs in their last two games total. Miller will struggle, making this golden opportunity more like fool's gold.
I'd rather start: Dennis Johnson, Brandon Jacobs
Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Wallace and Ryan Tannehill not only hit on one deep bomb for a touchdown last week but came close on several more. I expect the Dolphins to order some deep shots to Wallace considering how poorly the Jets have played against the bomb over their last couple of games. Overall they've allowed three touchdowns to receivers -- all on passes of 30 yards or more. Two were hung on Jets rookie corner Dee Milliner, who also allowed a 40-yard catch two weeks ago at Buffalo. The other was on Antonio Cromartie, who also gave up a 60-yard bomb last week at Baltimore. Wallace has a chance and should be in the No. 3 receiver conversation.
Flow chart: Harry Douglas > James Jones > Mike Wallace > Percy Harvin > Danny Amendola
Charles Clay, TE, Dolphins: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Clay's a nightmare to trust because some weeks he'll score with ease and others it's like he's invisible. The Jets have allowed six touchdowns to tight ends this year but none in their last two games. Clay did have seven targets last week and could win matchups against the Jets linebackers and safety Ed Reed.
Low-end TE flow chart: Garrett Graham > Antonio Gates > Charles Clay > Heath Miller > Rob Housler
Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The matchup is a dream for Ivory, who got hurt last week but is on track to play this week. The Dolphins have allowed 11-plus Fantasy points to a running back in nine of their last 10 games (the Panthers broke the streak last week). On the year the Dolphins are allowing 107.4 rush yards per game to running backs with 10 rushing touchdowns allowed. Ivory should flourish.
I'd start him over: Le'Veon Bell, Steven Jackson
Bears at Vikings, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Vikings have to wind up Adrian Peterson and let him run over this defense, even if its getting healthier with the return of Jay Ratliffand Stephen Paea on the D-line. By doing that they can take smart shots downfield to tight end John Carlson and rookie speedster Cordarrelle Patterson, giving Minnesota a chance at an upset victory over the Bears. I might not only expect a big dose of Peterson but also a good amount of work from Toby Gerhart.
Josh McCown, QB, Bears: My Projection: 20 FPTS
McCown should be dynamite. Minnesota has allowed five straight opponents to throw for over 230 yards and tally two touchdowns from their quarterbacks. It's going to be an uphill struggle for the Vikings even though they did a little addition by subtraction by cutting A.J. Jefferson this week. McCown has posted 22-plus Fantasy points in two of three starts -- it was the home game in a tornado against the Ravens where he couldn't pull off the feat. Gotta give him a pass for that one.
I'd start him over: Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Robert Griffin III
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Despite eight targets last week Jeffery just couldn't get it going, catching four passes for a measly 42 yards. But he did have two end-zone targets, so it's not like he's falling out of favor or slowing down. Non-No. 1 receivers have caught half of the six touchdowns allowed to the position over the Vikings' last five games and four receivers in that five-game span have posted 10-plus Fantasy points. Jeffery had an awful game last time against the Vikings but should see weaker coverage by the Minnesota corners and have plenty of chances to play well.
I'd start him over: Vincent Jackson, Giants WRs, Torrey Smith
Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Vikings have allowed three touchdowns to tight ends over their last four games and nine total on the season (the second-highest amount in the NFL). Bennett had two of those touchdowns back in Week 2 and could be in line for another after scoring last week. He has 21 targets over his last four games, including the home game against the Ravens in deplorable conditions.
I'd start him over: Timothy Wright, Delanie Walker
John Carlson, TE, Vikings: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Carlson is a deep sleeper this week as Chicago's safeties and linebackers have played poorly for several weeks and the Vikings could use play-action in the red zone to get Carlson some numbers. The Bears have allowed seven-plus Fantasy points to three of the last five tight ends they've faced. Carlson has seen at least five targets in each of his last four games.
I'd rather start: Garrett Graham, Charles Clay
Falcons vs. Bills, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET
The game is indoors in Toronto, not your typical outdoor windfest in Western New York. I'd expect both teams to play hard but the matchup favors the Bills. Atlanta's defense has struggled mightily, especially against the run. That plays into what the Bills want to do -- expect a big dose of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller to not only pace the offense but also set up the deep pass play.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: My Projection: 16 FPTS
After a brutal start the Bills have settled down against the pass, allowing two touchdowns through the air in their last three games. A secondary that's finally gelled and entering the game at mostly full strength combined with a strong pass rush will make things hard on Ryan. If anything has helped Ryan it's that he's starting to connect with Darius Johnson, giving the Falcons enough receiving threats to put pressure on defenses. It's not enough to trust Ryan in Fantasy play.
I'd rather start: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Flynn
Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Buffalo has allowed just four total scores to running backs this season but two of them have come in their last two games. The Bills have allowed 127.3 total yards per game to rushers in their last three games. Jackson merely needs enough work (along with a good start) to have a chance to have an effective stat line for the second week in a row.
Flow chart: Ray Rice > Donald Brown > Steven Jackson > Rashad Jennings > Patriots RBs
Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Douglas has six-plus catches in five of his last six, proof positive he's the Falcons' top target. Roddy White doesn't have six grabs in a game this year. Darius Johnson, meanwhile, has 15 targets in his last two games. That's a problem because he's taken work away from the other Falcons receivers. The Bills have allowed 16 touchdowns to receivers, six in their last five games but just one in their last three. And only one receiver has had double-digit Fantasy points against the Bills in their last three. Douglas is the only Falcons wideout I'd trust.
Flow chart: Anquan Boldin > Andre Johnson > Harry Douglas > Pierre Garcon > Marques Colston
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: My Projection: 9 FPTS
We've seen teams put a priority on Gonzalez in the red zone, using two defenders on him. That's likely to continue here, making him a tough call for Fantasy. Helping his cause is a Bills defense that has struggled against tight ends even though the rest of the pass defense has been much improved. Buffalo has given up four touchdowns to tight ends in its last five games including two to Jimmy Graham.
I'd start him over: Greg Olsen, Martellus Bennett
EJ Manuel, QB, Bills: My Projection: 17 FPTS
The Falcons are the only defense in football that has allowed multiple touchdowns to every quarterback they've faced. That would put Manuel in the bye-week quarterback conversation, but there are no quarterbacks on bye. Manuel has just two games this season with two passing touchdowns -- last week and Week 1 -- but the Falcons' lack of a pass rush will provide Manuel some chances to throw deep. The only thing that could hurt Manuel's numbers is a big effort from the run game, which would take the ball out of Manuel's hands. Even with much in his favor, you'd have to be pretty desperate to start him.
Flow chart: Andrew Luck > Carson Palmer > EJ Manuel > Matt Ryan > Robert Griffin III
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: My Projection: 13 FPTS
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: My Projection: 10 FPTS
After a week of rest, the Bills running backs have a fantastic matchup on a fast surface -- the perfect set of factors to make for a big game. Remember, the Bills prefer to run -- it's the basis of what the coaches want from the offense. Plus they probably want to give Jackson and Spiller some big games. Atlanta has allowed five scores on the ground and 156.0 rush yards per game to backs in its last five.
I'd start Jackson over: Andre Brown, Frank Gore
I'd start Spiller over: Le'Veon Bell, Steven Jackson, Pierre Thomas
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Robert Woods, WR, Bills: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Both receivers should offer a nice shot in the arm for the Bills and in the case of Johnson be a decent Fantasy choice. The Falcons have allowed 170.0 yards per game and three touchdowns to receivers in their last four. With a minimal pass rush on E.J. Manuel and a propensity to attack deep, the Bills receivers carry some intriguing value for Week 13.
I'd start Johnson over: Nate Burleson, Keenan Allen
Low-end WR flow chart: Emmanuel Sanders > Brandon LaFell > Robert Woods > Brian Hartline > Ted Ginn
Rams at 49ers, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET
The Rams have pulled off some impressive wins this year but this one is going to be tough. Normally they play the Niners tough, putting resources into slowing down Vernon Davis and taking their chances elsewhere in the offense. But the return of Michael Crabtree will spread a secondary already low on talent even thinner. San Francisco should continue to rev up its pass game to help them land another division win.
No-brainers: Vernon Davis
Zac Stacy, RB, Rams: My Projection: 10 FPTS
On Friday it looked as if Zac Stacy had a chance to get cleared and play. If that's the case then he's a good No. 2 Rushing option. San Francisco has not been perfect against backs, giving up a pair of touchdowns and 4.0 yards per carry to rushers over its last three. Stacy has done well in tough matchups before.
Flow chart: C.J. Spiller > Alfred Morris > Zac Stacy > Maurice Jones-Drew > Shane Vereen
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The biggest issue I have with Austin is his workload. He saw a big jump in playing time last week vs. the Bears but still only had three touches. Even with his amazing speed it's tough to trust players like this when they only get a few chances. The flipside is that the Rams would be stupid not to try and give Austin some more chances given his ability to make plays, so he's worth a gamble if you're weak at receiver or against a Fantasy team that is set to put up a lot of points. The Niners have allowed five plays of 30-plus yards in their last five games.
Flow chart: Percy Harvin > Rod Streater > Tavon Austin > Terrance Williams > Brandon LaFell
Jared Cook, TE, Rams: My Projection: 5 FPTS
While the Rams are one of three teams to have a tight end score on the Niners this season, Cook wasn't the one to score it. Lance Kendricks was on his only catch of Week 4. But Cook has re-emerged as a regular in the offense under Kellen Clemens -- he's caught 15 of 26 targets in his last five games for 197 yards with two scores, both of which have come in the Rams' last three games. If we assume the Rams will play from behind then Cook should see a good amount of targets. I'm not so sure he'll score though -- he has never scored in consecutive games.
I'd rather start: Antonio Gates, Heath Miller
Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers: My projection: 20 FPTS
Kaepernick threw two touchdowns against the Rams in his Week 4 matchup against them, and that was without two receivers he'll have for this game. He posts good Fantasy numbers in solid matchups and this one qualifies. Even though the Rams have allowed just two quarterbacks to toss two touchdowns over their last six games they'll play with a depleted secondary that has allowed over 350 passing yards in each of their last two games.
I'd start him over: Josh McCown, Andy Dalton
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: My projection: 12 FPTS
Gore's last two games have been disappointing because of three consistent factors: A lack of touchdowns, a lack of carries and a poor rushing average. Gore only has four games this year with over 4.0 yards per carry, enough to realize he needs work in order to be helpful in Fantasy. Fortunately he's taking on a defense that allowed him to get over 150 yards and a touchdown back in Week 4. The Rams have allowed at least one running back to get at least 11 Fantasy points in three straight games, giving up five touchdowns and 4.1 yards per carry over that span.
I'd start him over: Danny Woodhead, Chris Ivory, C.J. Spiller
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Rams continue to offer plentiful stats to receivers -- at least one has posted 12 Fantasy points in four of their last five. That bodes well for Boldin, who has exploited weak secondaries in each of the last two weeks. Getting Michael Crabtree back on the field might cost him some targets but it'll also mean less coverage tilted his way. With at least six targets in eight of his last nine games, Boldin should continue to put up some good numbers.
I'd start him over: Pierre Garcon, Marques Colston
Broncos at Chiefs, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
With both defenses banged up this should be a very different game than the 27-17 game we saw two weeks earlier. Kansas City's pass rush is zapped with injuries keeping Justin Houston out and Tamba Hali at less than 100 percent. Combined they have 20 sacks, so you should count on Peyton Manning having plenty of time to throw downfield. But Alex Smith could do the same -- he's thrown five touchdowns in his last two games and will take on the Broncos down two defensive starters with a third, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, banged up. Even with the return of Champ Bailey, there's a strong chance Kansas City can stay close.
Montee Ball, RB, Broncos: My Projection: 8 FPTS
It'll take another touchdown for Ball to be helpful in Fantasy. The good news is that he's scored in half of his last four games. The better news is that he could see more work because of Moreno's injuries potentially limiting him. The best news is that Kansas City's run defense hasn't been great -- they've allowed four rushing touchdowns to backs (five total) in their last two games. Ball had two of them. If you're in a pinch he could be nice.
No. 3 RB Flow Chart: Shane Vereen > Pierre Thomas > Montee Ball > BenJarvus Green-Ellis > Cardinals RBs
Wes Welker, WR, Broncos: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Welker had eight catches for 72 yards in his last game against the Chiefs -- his best numbers over his last three games. Despite getting 24 targets in those last three he has 15 catches for 124 yards and no touchdowns. That's not Welker-like. But without that Kansas City pass rush, Manning will be able to pick his poison and that could make for easy throws to Welker. I'd keep him in lineups.
I'd start him over: Victor Cruz, Keenan Allen
Eric Decker, WR, Broncos: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Decker's been in a big slump, catching just 13 of 22 targets for 170 yards and no scores over his last four games. You never want to sit a guy who has potential for a score in a good offense like the Broncos but it's becoming increasingly harder to trust him as anything more than a third receiver. Here's a factor: Decker has one red-zone target in his last four games. Of the eight touchdowns the Chiefs have allowed to receivers this year, half have gone to non-No. 1 receivers. I'd assume Decker continues to struggle.
I'd rather start: James Jones, Mike Wallace
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: My Projection: 20 FPTS
Would you believe Smith has 26 and 27 Fantasy points in his last two games? It's true. It's also true that the Broncos have allowed 26-plus Fantasy points to quarterbacks in their last two and 20-plus Fantasy points in 6 of their last 9 games. Smith threw for 230 yards and two scores and ran for 52 yards on the Broncos two weeks ago. With the Chiefs starting to evolve offensively and throw downfield more, Smith is a candidate for another solid game.
I'd start him over: Carson Palmer, Matt Ryan
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Be it because of the Broncos secondary being banged up or playing from behind, it seems like the Chiefs will throw plenty against Denver. That bodes well for Bowe, who has come alive lately. He has scored in each of his last two games and caught 16 of 33 targets for 175 yards in his last three. The Broncos have allowed three touchdowns to receivers in their last two games (one to Bowe) but just 125.3 yards per game to wideouts over their last four. Could be another week for Bowe to score but get around 50 to 60 yards.
I'd start him over: Michael Floyd, T.Y. Hilton
Bengals at Chargers, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
The Chargers have boasted a solid run defense for much of the season but it's dropped off lately. Over their last four games the Bolts have given up seven rushing touchdowns and 5.3 yards per carry to running backs. Their deficiencies there have to be caught by the Bengals coaching staff -- dedication to the ground game would help Cincinnati win.
No-brainers: A.J. Green
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: My Projection: 20 FPTS
The Chargers secondary is ripe for the picking again. After allowing 10 passing touchdowns in their first five games of the year, they went on a three game stretch where they didn't allow even one passing touchdown. Well, that's history as they've allowed eight in their last three games (many to tight ends, which Dalton targets for touchdowns fairly often). Moreover, the Bolts have given up over 260 pass yards in five straight. That should bode well for Dalton, who has two-plus scores in five of his last six games and three-plus scores in four of those five. The only catch is that he has multiple interceptions in three straight games too.
I'd start him over: Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger
Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 13 FPTS
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 8 FPTS
With the Chargers run defense struggling it only would make sense to have these running backs get involved heavily in the game plan -- at least until it's obvious the Bengals need to throw on about every down. San Diego has allowed a running back to gain 10-plus Fantasy points in four straight games. I'd figure that bodes better for Bernard than Green-Ellis considering he's had more work outside of clock-killing situations than his veteran teammate.
I'd start Bernard over: Andre Brown, Chris Ivory
I'd rather start over Green-Ellis: Rashad Jennings, Maurice Jones-Drew
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Before the Chiefs lost their pass rushing duo last week Rivers was 9 of 13 for 81 yards with no touchdowns. After, Rivers was 18 of 26 for 311 yards and three scores. It details just how important it is for Rivers to have time to throw -- something he might not have a lot of in this game. The Bengals pass rush has remained strong even without defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Since his injury they've given up three passing touchdowns in effective two-and-a-half games, albeit they played some lesser quarterbacks. This stat is weird: The Bengals have allowed just four quarterbacks all year to get to at least 20 Fantasy points -- but all four came on the road (at Chicago, at Cleveland, at Buffalo, at Detroit). With the ground game in flux because of Ryan Mathews' injury, Rivers might throw a ton.
Flow chart: Cam Newton > Russell Wilson > Philip Rivers > Nick Foles > Andrew Luck
Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Woodhead will do his thing against a Bengals defense that has averaged 38.7 pass yards per game to running backs. That's not great and neither is the fact that the Bengals have given up just one receiving score to a running back all year. That's in addition to giving up just two rushing touchdowns -- a strike against Mathews, who seems prepared to play. But if Rivers is going to throw a lot then Woodhead's going to be a factor. Seventeen percent of Rivers' throws have gone to Woodhead, that's third-best on the team. I wouldn't be shy about starting him.
No. 2 RB flow chart: Frank Gore > Danny Woodhead > Alfred Morris > Donald Brown > Ryan Mathews > Ben Tate
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Allen re-emerged as the go-to guy for Rivers last week in the shootout at Kansas City. He caught 9 of 12 targets, matching season highs. In each game with at least six catches this year Allen has topped 100 yards and scored in three of them. But the matchup is a toughie as the Bengals have allowed just seven scores to wideouts all year (but one in each of their last two games). They also have allowed over 100 yards to just two of the six receivers who have caught six passes against them. Four receivers with double-digit targets have caught less than six balls against the Bengals this year including two in the last two weeks. This isn't a lay-up for Allen.
Flow chart: Steve Johnson > Dwayne Bowe > Keenan Allen > Anquan Boldin > James Jones
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Gates might be slower but he's not less involved in the Chargers offense. No one on the team has more than the 89 targets he has. The problem is he's extremely touchdown dependent -- even with the targets. He has only two games this year with more than 75 receiving yards. Cincinnati has allowed five tight ends to score on them this year with only one in its last four games. And only one tight end (Jordan Cameron) has had more than even 50 yards against the Bengals. With youngster Ladarius Green emerging in the offense, your best bet for Gates to do well is for him to score.
I'd rather start: Timothy Wright, Delanie Walker
Giants at Redskins, Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET
The Redskins need to figure out a way to keep Robert Griffin III from imploding again, but I don't know if this is the right matchup for it. The Giants defense has looked great against bad passing offenses and good against a great one in the Cowboys last week. But they've had a hard time with quarterbacks who run -- Michael Vick had 79 rush yards in a half against them back in Week 5 and Terrelle Pryor scored on the ground in Week 10, as did Cam Newton in Week 3. Would the Redskins throw in more running plays for RG3? I'm not so sure they would.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants: My Projection: 15 FPTS
The Bears. The Vikings. The Eagles. The Raiders. The Packers. The Cowboys. Each of the Giants' last six games have been really good matchups and yet Manning has struggled in them all, getting two touchdowns in just one game. He's also had a hard time against the Redskins even when their defense has been as bad as it is now. Manning's offensive line continues to lose starters, too. It's just too tough to trust him even in a fantastic matchup (the Redskins have allowed two-plus touchdowns by quarterbacks in 7 of 11 games).
I'd rather start: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Weeden
Andre Brown, RB, Giants: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The Giants offense has come to lean on its running backs as much as possible. Brown's come through in a major way since coming off of short-term IR, posting at least 90 total yards per start with two games over 100 rush yards. That's in time for a matchup against a Redskins defense that has actually improved in terms of slowing down backs -- they've giving up just 3.3 yards per carry in their last five. But they're still allowing plenty of touchdowns -- six to running backs in their last five. Brown should get a big dose and do well with it. Jacobs could plunge one in from a yard out.
I'd start Brown over: Alfred Morris, Le'Veon Bell
I'd start Jacobs over: Stevan Ridley, Ben Tate
Victor Cruz, WR, Giants: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Rueben Randle, WR, Giants: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: My Projection: 7 FPTS
These guys are hard to trust, even in a fantastic matchup against a beleaguered secondary. Since Cruz scored on the Chiefs in a mammoth Week 4 he's had 34 catches on 59 targets for 428 yards and no scores. Nicks has been even worse, collecting 30 grabs on 51 targets over his last six games for 390 yards and no touchdowns. Randle has had the touchdowns -- six in his last seven games -- but he's done it on 21 catches (35 targets) for 362 yards. Cruz has back-to-back games with over 100 yards against the Redskins but has one touchdown in four career meetings. Nicks has one game over 10 Fantasy points in his last five against Washington with no touchdowns. Randle barely has any history with the Redskins. Maybe the most important thing to note: The Redskins have allowed a wide receiver to score in eight of 11 games, giving up 181.8 yards per game to receivers.
I'd start Cruz over: Dwayne Bowe, Keenan Allen
No. 3 WR Flow chart: Eric Decker > Rueben Randle > Cecil Shorts > Hakeem Nicks > Terrance Williams
Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins: My Projection: 16 FPTS
Griffin has looked awful in tough matchups and that's what we're expecting here. The Giants held their own against Tony Romo last week and have kept each of the last five quarterbacks they've faced to under 20 Fantasy points. You might suggest that four of the last five passers the G-Men have taken on are awful, but what has Griffin shown us in the last few weeks that suggests he's a complete, competent passer? I will admit that getting Jordan Reed back will help him out, but I believe there is a chance the Redskins will pull Griffin if he gets off to a terrible start.
I'd rather start: EJ Manuel, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Morris is going to be a part of a lot of lineups but this is not an easy matchup for him. The Giants have allowed three straight running backs to tally nine or more Fantasy points but all three caught some passes to help get them there. Morris doesn't do much of that. What Morris does do (or wants to do) is score touchdowns, but the Giants have allowed just one running back to score over their last six games, holding guys like Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy and Eddie Lacy out of the end zone. Morris might have a hard time being great against this unit.
Flow chart: Chris Ivory > C.J. Spiller > Alfred Morris > Ray Rice > Le'Veon Bell
Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins: My Projection: 9 FPTS
It's becoming clear that defenses are doing what they can to corral Garcon to keep him from being an effective weapon for the Redskins. His two most recent games with success came against teams that struggle against the pass (Washington and Minnesota). His two most recent games with no success came against defenses that are solid against the pass (Philadelphia and San Francisco). Garcon is going to get his targets but not many are deep -- in fact a lot of them come on crossing routes or comeback routes. He's averaged under 12 yards per catch in all but three games this season. The targets and catches will be there but the Giants have allowed just eight touchdowns to receivers this year -- none in their last five games.
No. 2 WR flow chart: Anquan Boldin > Harry Douglas > Pierre Garcon > Marques Colston > Kendall Wright
Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins: My Projection: 10 FPTS
After Jason Witten blasted the Giants for two touchdowns last week, and considering just how desperate the Redskins offense is for receiving help, you should count on Reed being a factor. Big, playmaking tight ends like Julius Thomas, Brent Celek and Jason Witten (twice) have done well against Big Blue.
I'd start him over: Tony Gonzalez, Jordan Cameron
Saints at Seahawks, Mon., 8:40 p.m. ET
We got a glimpse earlier this year at how out of sync the Saints seem to be when they play outdoors. When they wrestled with the Jets in New Jersey Brees threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns but also turned the ball over twice. One would argue the matchup at Seattle will be even tougher -- it's a loud stadium with a much better all-around defense -- but there are holes in that secondary that Brees will test.
Darren Sproles, RB, Saints: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Seahawks have allowed just two rushing touchdowns all year at home -- both came in garbage time. Overall they've given up just five rushing touchdowns and only allow 3.9 yards per carry on the year. And only one running back has had over 80 total yards against them in five home games this season. Sproles could be a factor if the Seahawks spend too many resources trying to cover up their depleted secondary -- Brees will go to him if the safeties play too far back. Still, I'd try and find other options.
I'd rather start: Donald Brown, Steven Jackson
Marques Colston, WR, Saints: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Saints are going to play the matchups with their receivers, aiming for the guys lined up against cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell. Colston is the only one worth starting this week and while he might not evoke much confidence given the Seahawks defensive scheme, he will likely see a bunch of targets as the Saints should have a hard time running the football. Colston's size against Lane and Maxwell -- if he can find coverage against them and not Richard Sherman -- would give him a big advantage.
I'd start him over: Hakeem Nicks, Danny Amendola
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: My Projection: 21 FPTS
There's no doubt that this is a tough matchup for Wilson but it's not impossible. True, the Saints have allowed just three quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdowns against them with only two of them getting over 20 Fantasy points. But the Saints secondary is still in a state of flux following the season-ending injury to cornerback Jabari Greer. Expect the Seahawks to go after him, and expect them to find ways to get Percy Harvin involved in the offense more than the one catch he had two weeks ago. The Seahawks offense could make a big statement against the Saints.
I'd start him over: Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick
Percy Harvin, WR, Seahawks: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The matchup is scary: Not only has New Orleans allowed just eight touchdowns to receivers this year but only once have receivers scored in the same game. Only five receivers have posted 10-plus Fantasy points on the Saints all year. But Harvin has too much potential to be ignored and the Seahawks will take some downfield shots with Tate. Both are significant boom-or-bust Fantasy options.
Flow chart: Michael Floyd > Golden Tate > Mike Wallace > Percy Harvin > Eric Decker
Packers at Lions, Thu., 12:30 p.m. ET
The Packers have to stress an error-free gameplan for Matt Flynn to follow or else they'll hand over the division lead to the Lions. Normally that would mean running the ball a lot but the Lions have been really good at slowing down running backs. If Detroit's offense takes advantage of its matchups when it has the ball then it could mean the Packers will play from behind, and that's when Flynn could start turning the ball over.
Matt Flynn, QB, Packers: My Projection: 17 FPTS
Flynn subs in for the Packers against a Lions defense that has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in six straight games with 290-plus yards in four of those. Last week he worked a very basic version of the offense and with a short week to prepare for this game probably won't have a lot added to his plate. He's not expected to pick up a ton of stats.
I'd rather start: Josh McCown, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Jarrett Boykin, WR, Packers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
James Jones, WR, Packers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
If the Packers had a capable quarterback then these guys' projections would be through the roof. Detroit has allowed multiple touchdowns to receivers in five straight games with three wideouts catching two. Of the 12 touchdowns allowed over the last five games, half have gone to non-No. 1 receivers. And the Lions are giving up 220.8 yards to receivers over that five-game span. It's juicy, even with Flynn and his popgun arm starting for the Packers.
I'd start Boykin over: Torrey Smith, Keenan Allen
I'd rather start over Jones: Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright
Nate Burleson, WR, Lions: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Burleson dove right in last week with 91 percent of the snaps and 10 targets, catching seven for 77 yards and a touchdown. The Packers pass defense is porous, yielding six touchdowns and 182.3 total yards per game to receivers in their last four. Stafford is expected to take advantage of the focused coverage on Calvin Johnson and continue targeting Burleson. I like him as a No. 2 receiver given the matchup.
I'd start him over: Marques Colston, Harry Douglas
Raiders at Cowboys, Thu., 4:30 p.m. ET
The Raiders defense has been good against lesser quarterbacks but bowled over by the better passing games. The Cowboys passing game ranks 12th in the league in yardage and fourth in passing touchdowns so I'd consider them solid. Dallas should attack downfield while mixing in the run game in an attempt to overpower Oakland and force the Raiders to become one-dimensional with rookie Matt McGloin under center.
No-brainers: Dez Bryant
Rashad Jennings, RB, Raiders: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Raiders will likely stick with Jennings as long as possible. He's turned out to be better than I thought, getting at least 100 total yards in each of his last four games with two touchdowns and an average of 22 touches per. The matchup is terrific for him as the Cowboys have been run over for 191.5 total yards per game to running backs over their last four. They've also allowed right total touchdowns in those four games. The only thing stopping Jennings from a very good game is Darren McFadden, who is expected to return and take some snaps.
I'd start him over: Shane Vereen, Pierre Thomas
Rod Streater, WR, Raiders: My Projection: 8 FPTS
In two games with Matt McGloin we've seen Streater catch 11 of 17 targets for 177 yards and a touchdown. That includes 93 yards against the vaunted Titans defense. The Cowboys have given up 22 passing touchdown but just half to receivers. He's still the most likely option in the Raiders pass game.
Flow chart: Mike Wallace > Percy Harvin > Rod Streater > Eric Decker > Danny Amendola
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: My Projection: 23 FPTS
The Raiders have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five games, all to top-shelf quarterbacks like Romo. The depth of Dallas' receiving corps really benefits Romo in that he always has someone to throw at, be it a veteran like Miles Austin or a rookie like Terrance Williams. Romo has had multiple touchdowns in every single Thanksgiving game he's started.
I'd start him over: Cam Newton, Russell Wilson
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: My Projection: 12 FPTS
The Raiders run defense is improved from earlier in the year but they're still giving up 123.8 total yards per game to rushers over their last four, but with just two scores allowed. Running backs tend to play better on short weeks against tired defenses and Murray has 10-plus Fantasy points in four of his last five. This one's pretty obvious.
I'd start him over: Frank Gore, Alfred Morris
Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Maybe I've been blinded by Williams' touchdown production to notice his lack of work: Williams has two or fewer catches in four straight games and five of his last six. But last week was the first time he had fewer than five targets since mid-October. There's no coincidence it came the same week Romo welcomed back Miles Austin and leaned on Jason Witten in the red zone. Williams is still my favorite Cowboys receiver not named Dez and of the Raiders' 13 touchdowns allowed to wideouts this year, nine went to non-No. 1 options. It seems so obvious to write him off but there's something telling me he'll still have some value.
Flow chart: Tavon Austin > Cecil Shorts > Terrance Williams > Robert Woods > Michael Crabtree
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Witten has four touchdowns this season against the Giants, two in the Cowboys' other nine games. I don't know how many targets he'll get because the Cowboys might not need to throw a ton to upend the Raiders. Oakland did a nice job last week against Delanie Walker but it struggled in its previous two games, allowing three scores to tight ends. Witten continues to be worth starting.
I'd start him over: Greg Olsen, Antonio Gates
Steelers at Ravens, Thu., 8:30 p.m. ET
It's going to be interesting to see just how much the Ravens try and attack the Steelers run defense considering the injury to nose tackle Steve McLendon. He had been a decent part of their unit slowing down running backs; without him they're running thin on the defensive line, especially if Brett Keisel is still sidelined. The last time the Ravens had a favorable matchup for their running backs we saw Ray Rice look like, well, Ray Rice. On a short week against a Steelers defense that hasn't been consistent against the run all year, we might see the guy we used to know make an impact on the ground.
No-brainers: Antonio Brown
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: My Projection: 17 FPTS
Let's start here: Roethlisberger hasn't thrown two-plus scores against the Ravens in the regular season since 2007. And the Ravens have allowed only three quarterbacks to land multiple scores in a game against them with only one quarterback getting more than 18 Fantasy points since Peyton Manning opened the season with seven scores. So even though Roethlisberger has been rolling, the short week and tough matchup make him a risky Fantasy choice compared to previous weeks.
I'd rather start: Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, EJ Manuel
Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Bell totaled 99 yards on the Ravens back in Week 7, which represents what's been an average game for Bell (and for most backs). Since that game the Ravens have allowed two receiving touchdowns to running backs but nothing on the ground. Baltimore is also averaging just 56.0 rush yards to running backs per game in their last four since seeing Bell, who did run for the second-most yards on the Ravens this season.
Flow chart: C.J. Spiller > Alfred Morris > Le'Veon Bell > Ray Rice > Steven Jackson
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Baltimore's pass defense has looked great the last two weeks, but that's in part because they played in a tornado at Chicago and played with the Jets' weak pass game. Sanders has very much been a boom-or-bust type of receiver, owning four games with nine-plus Fantasy points and four with three or fewer. He's not a great third receiver for Fantasy but if you think the Steelers will play from behind then he's someone worth considering. But assume you can find better options.
I'd rather start: Giants WRs, Cecil Shorts
Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Miller scored on the Ravens back in Week 7 but fumbled and really didn't do much else. Yet the five Fantasy points he had in the game was the third most the Ravens allowed to the position between that game and Week 12 (their last five). This time around I might pass on Miller.
I'd rather start: Antonio Gates, John Carlson
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Only three of the 11 quarterbacks to play the Steelers have topped 19 Fantasy points. Flacco hasn't posted that many against the Steelers since early September 2011. Find someone else.
I'd rather start: Robert Griffin III, Eli Manning
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Steelers run defense looked great last week against a bad Browns run game but still allowed six touchdowns to backs in their previous four games to backs, allowing 4.3 yards per carry in that span. They'll also play this game with a banged up defensive line to go with their thinned out linebacker corps. It's a risk to call Rice even a decent start but I'd give him a chance to do moderately well on a short week.
I'd start him over: Donald Brown, Pierre Thomas, Maurice Jones-Drew
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 10 FPTS
First the bad news: In five career games against the Steelers Smith has one game with a touchdown, and it was the only time he had more than six Fantasy points against them. Now the good news: The Steelers pass defense has hit the wall. A receiver has posted at least 20 Fantasy points (that's standard scoring!) in three of Pittsburgh's last four. It's been dominant, big-play receivers who have torched them in each of the last two weeks. Expect the Ravens to take some shots with Smith.
No. 2 WR Flow chart: Jarrett Boykin > Victor Cruz > Torrey Smith > Steve Johnson > Dwayne Bowe