New Orleans (19th) @ St. Louis (27th)
Let the running back carousel spin around again for the Saints. If one of these guys would just get hurt it’d make everyone’s life a lot simpler. Pierre is a must start, Reggie a flex option in non-PPR, and Mike a flex option in PPR. If you’re short on talent you could play either of the last two guys in a pinch. I will be surprised if the Saints put up less than 40 points this week so there should be plenty of touchdowns to go around.
Saints: Thomas +2, Bush +1, Bell +3
This one should get ugly very fast. The best thing about Jackson is the game circumstances don’t affect his usage; ahead or behind you know the Rams are going to involve him in the offense. The St. Louis offense isn’t productive enough to warrant a secondary back to split carries with so there’s no one else to talk about here. Jackson should rack up a lot of yards in this game and if he manages to get in the end zone it’s going to be a big day for him.
Rams: Jackson +2
Cincinnatti (2nd) @ Pittsburgh (1st)
The Pittsburgh defense looks to be back in all its glory. I own Cedric on several teams and I fear this matchup. Hopefully Palmer is able to threaten them in the passing game enough to open up the run. There’s definitely a legitimate possibility, however, that the Steelers could shut them down. Even so you have to play Benson unless you’re super deep at running back because he’s going to touch the ball 30+ times.
Bengals: Benson -3
The Bengals defense has been sneaky good this season; they are finally near the top of the NFL in categories other than “DWI’s” and “arrests on charges of domestic violence.” Don’t be surprised if the Steelers put the ball in the air even more than they have been this year (and that’s a lot). Mendenhall is a serviceable start for you but don’t expect him to carry your team. By the way, Willie Parker is barely touching the football in Pittsburgh.
Steelers: Mendenhall -3
Jacksonville (22nd) @ NY Jets (14th)
The loss of Kris Jenkins, as I’ve mentioned before, has totally neutered the Jets defense that had looked so devastating early on in the season; most notably their ability to stop the run. They aren’t going to spiral into oblivion but I just wouldn’t fear them any more when looking at matchups. Maurice Jones-Drew should be his usual self. I don’t expect a three touchdown game from him but 15 points in PPR sounds about right.
Jaguars: Jones-Drew -1
Thomas Jones is sooooo boring. He deserves so much credit though- still getting it done at an age where all his peers are falling apart. I can’t envision ever sitting him. In this game Shonn Greene might actually be flex starter for you in deeper leagues. You have to think that the Jets will move the football with ease throughout this contest.
Jets: Jones +2, Greene +2
Detroit (17th) @ Minnesota (6th)
Kevin Smith is nothing to get excited about in this matchup and Maurice Morris probably doesn’t even deserve an afterthought. The Vikings will likely commit unspeakable atrocities on the Lions in this game. I don’t bet but sometimes I’m curious about what the “spread” is on some of these blowout contests. Smith is projected for about 10 points in standard PPR. I don’t see there being much of a ceiling beyond that.
Lions: Smith -3, Morris -5
AP is projected for 20+ against the Lions. I would be shocked if he puts up less than 15. The only thing that could hurt him is if they decide to throw the football (which they will be able to do with ease) he might not rack up as many points as he should. Chester Taylor could sneak his way on to your lineup if you need a flex starter in deeper PPR leagues.
Vikings: Peterson +4, Taylor +2
Tampa Bay (30th) @ Miami (5th)
Avoid this matchup like the plague if possible. I wouldn’t start Cadillac or Derrick Ward unless you’re really stuck. The Dolphins defense should take advantage of this opportunity to pad their stats. Don’t expect the Bucs offense to be on the field a whole lot- the Dolphins will chew the clock up with their running game for four quarters.
Buccaneers: Williams -3, Ward -4
There’s nothing not to love about this matchup. As I said above I expect the Dolphins to run the ball and burn the clock all game. Don’t be surprised if Ronnie and Ricky both go for 100 yards and they each get in the end zone at least once.
Dolphins: Brown +5, Williams +5
Denver (8th) @ Washington (25th)
The Redskins are in shambles right now and this game could seal Jim Zorn’s fate. I know Washington’s come out and said Jim Zorn will be the coach the rest of the season but I don’t believe them. Buckhalter got a lion’s share of the touches and started last week. We might be seeing a return to the early season split with Correll getting more looks than Knowshon. They should both be comfortable flex starters in 12 team double flex or deeper.
Broncos: Buckhalter +2, Moreno +1
Denver is coming off back to back losses and will be hungry. You have to love that it will be the Ladell Betts show (if you own him, that is) but don’t be surprised if he, along with their entire offense, gets shut down completely. But hey, you can’t really complain since he is starting at last.
Redskins: Betts -2
Atlanta (24th) @ Carolina (23rd)
We all thought Michael Turner’s heavy workload last season could lead to injury this year. Ironically Turner has stayed completely healthy (although not quite as productive) while his backups have constantly been injured. Neither Snelling nor Norwood has proven themselves to be reliable spellbacks. I’d like to stash them but right now it’s not worth it. Turner should have a field day against Carolina this week.
Falcons: Turner +2
DeAngelo Williams is a no-brainer start but Jonathon Stewart makes it a little tougher on you. It’s nice when you get a game like this where you don’t have to deliberate about it too much- he is projected for around 10 points. Despite their continued struggle to win ball games Carolina’s offense has looked better as of late. The running game has started to resemble what we saw from them last year and expected again this season.
Panthers: Williams +2, Stewart +2
Buffalo (32nd) @ Tennessee (18th)
Marshawn Lynch is projected for almost 11.5 and he could be better than that in this game. The Bills line is clearly in shambles but it hasn’t affected their ability to run the football all that much so far. Trent Edwards is supposed to be back in this game but I expect them to lean heavily on the rushing attack. I would feel nervous about starting Fred Jackson unless you really need to. He could make a nice keeper for next season.
Bills: Lynch +2, Jackson 0
Could this be the week that LenDale White is relevant again? Playing him is clearly a roll of the dice since he’s done nothing this season but if you’re going to take a chance why not do it against the last ranked run defense? Chris Johnson should be an absolute MONSTER in this game.
Titans: Johnson +4, White +2
4 PM Game
Kansas City (28th) @ Oakland (29th)
We’re all really curious to see how this split between Jamaal and Kolby is going to shake out. This game should answer a lot of those questions for us. The Raiders can’t do anything well, especially stop the run. I think you have to put Charles in there unless you’re really loaded and I can see Smith working his way in too if you need the help. If Smith is still on waivers and you have room I’d pick him up.
Chiefs: Charles +3, Smith +2
The Fargas/Bush combo was not all that great to begin with. Now McFadden’s supposed to be back in the mix breaking up the touches even further. You really don’t want to own any of these players unless you can help it. This week makes it particularly tough for you since the Chiefs are a weak rush defense. I can’t upgrade any of these players even with the great matchup because it’s hard to say how the touches are going to be split up.
Raiders: MacFadden 0, Fargas 0, Bush 0
Philadelphia (10th) @ San Diego (26th)
The Chargers rush defense is very soft; the Eagles should b able to run the ball at will against them. Which means Andy Reid will probably dial up 90% pass plays. Westbrook is good to go in terms of the concussion but he also has a nagging knee injury that could possibly keep him out of this contest. He has been in and out of practice this week. Pay attention to the injury report and play him accordingly. McCoy is a must start regardless.
Eagles: McCoy +3, Westbrook -1
I see the Chargers testing the Eagles battered secondary in this contest from the get go. LT is a must start unless you are uber deep at RB. I’m upgrading Sproles slightly (relative to his value) because the Chargers should look to get him involved in the screen game in order to slow down Philly’s pass rush.
Chargers: Tomlinson -1, Sproles +1
Dallas (11th) @ Green Bay (9th)
Marion Barber is the only one of these players you can feel good about starting in this game. It’s hard to trust Felix Jones health and his touches aren’t that heavy to begin with. Choice was featured in the Cowboy’s version of the “Wildcat” last week so that helps his value out but doesn’t make it enough for him to be a comfortable start.
Cowboys: Barber 0, Jones -2, Choice -2
Ryan Grant continues to defy all odds and put up big numbers. I really felt like stashing the guys behind him was a great play up until recently. Now it looks like that’s a strategy to use only in case of injury. The Cowboys defense is fairly solid against the run but you have to think the Packers will try and attack via the ground game to slow that devastating pass rush down. Grant might get a lot of work in this game.
Packers: Grant 0
Seattle (11th) @ Arizona (3rd)
Julius Jones is projected for just less than 9 points and I don’t see him being much better than that. The Cardinals could put up scary time of possession numbers in this contest. I loves me some Justin Forsett as a stash and one of the running backs that could be a second half sleeper but leave him on the bench in this contest.
Seahawks: Jones -2, Forsett -4
This game should be chalk full of touchdowns wire to wire for the Cards. Beanie Wells might chew up solid yardage in this one- he looks better and better running the football. Tim Hightower should continue his PPR studliness and is definitely a flex starter even in standard formats.
Cardinals: Wells +1, Hightower +2
Sunday Night Game
New England (20th) @ Indianapolis (14th)
This is the game I’m most looking forward to watching on Sunday. New England should be very pass-heavy in this contest to take advantage of the severely depleted Colts secondary. That bodes well for Kevin Faulk and in PPR he could be a good spot starter for you in deep leagues. Laurence Maroney is the only real ball-carrier right now and has scored a lot of touchdowns the past few weeks. He should be a starter for you.
Patriots: Mauroney +1, Faulk +3
The Patriots have struggled more to stop the run than you’d have thought so far. Joseph Addai has become an absolute must-start in all formats. Despite Donald Brown’s recent bouts with injury I like him in the second half of ’09. If you need to lean on him in this contest he could be serviceable.
Colts: Addai +2, Brown +1
Monday Night Game
Baltimore (7th) @ Cleveland (31st)
If you own Ray Rice be wary of the projections for this game. They are spotting him almost 25 in PPR right now and that is tough to get even against such a horrible defense. What I’m telling you is not to complain if he puts up 15. Willis McGahee continues to be less relevant by the week. In this game I can see playing him because there should be touchdowns and yards a-plenty available for all.
Ravens: Rice +4, McGahee +3
Must be Jamal Lewis is looking to get cut just like Larry Johnson because now he’s out there publicly complaining about his coach and the organization. I just don’t see anything positive happening in this game but maybe he’ll sneak in the end zone on accident. If you have better options go with them. Jerome Harrison continues to be a pretty good stash and a great keeper for 2010.
Browns: Lewis -3, Harrison -3