I’m subbing for Mark this week and bringing you my take on the passing matchups. Instead of going with just the passing yards against for the last 6 weeks, I’ve gone to my Statistical Strategery numbers for this week’s matchups. (Which I’ll be posting later today) And to the main event:
Thursday 8:20 PM
Indianapolis (24th) @ Jacksonville (23rd)
The word is good for this week regarding the imminent sittitude of the Colts studs. Can colts be studs? Ok, this isn’t Horse Digest. Jacksonville has been poor defending the pass all season. Reggie Wayne has had two good corners on him the last two weeks and should be able to break out of his slump in prime time against the Jags poor CB’s. Pierre Garcon may not see as many looks this week, but he’s still startable. The Jags have been fairly tough on tight ends, but Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eye.
Colts: Manning +2, Wayne +2, Garcon +1, Clark +1
The Colts pass defense has not been great lately. In the last 8 games their young corners have given up 191 yards a game to wide receivers. That is 32nd or dead last or not good. The problem with facing the Colts is they give you the yardage, but make it tough to get into the endzone. Mike Sims-Walker Jacksonville Ranger is probable to play. After his doubtful status got turned into 100% starting status and then turned into sucking status it’s hard to know how he’ll play, but he’s worth a WR #3 play. David Garrard is a tough nut to crack. His best game recently was against the Jets in New York! He’s too erratic to risk your playoff matchup on.
Jaguars: Garrard -1, Sims-Walker 0, Lewis -2
Dallas (13th) @ New Orleans (19th)
Romo has thrown 7 touchdowns and averaged 316 yards passing in the last 3 games. They aren’t winning, but Romo is still helping fantasy teams. Roy Williams has settled down into an ok receiver, not an elite receiver, an ok receiver. Miles Austin is back near the top of the stud-o-meter and is a must start.
Cowboys: Romo +1, Austin +1, Williams 0, Witten +1
Dallas’ pass defense has been decent, but decent doesn’t stir the jumbalaya in New Orleans. Start them like you were going to before you started reading this.
Saints: Brees +2, Colston +1, Meachem +1, Shockey 0
Sunday 1 PM
Cleveland (14th) @ Kansas City (14th)
Cleveland has a nice matchup, but they usually don’t capitalize on nice matchups. The sometimes mighty Quinn has been amazing for a couple games, but then mostly horrid. He is too inconsistent to even think about starting in your fantasy playoff game. With his inconsistency goes the rest of the team’s inconsistency. Mangini in a bottle is looking to give Cribbs more looks in the backfield which will probably look fairly wildcatty, or wild brownie. If he gets the looks, he’s worth a start. I like him as a WR #3 in this game and if you are in a return yardage league you don’t need me to tell you nothin’.
Browns: Quinn -1, Cribbs +1, Massaquoi -1, Moore 0
Non-Performance Enhanced Dwayne will be playing and has gotten a thumbs up from his coach. It is hard to be really confident in starting him after being off 4 weeks, but he does have a good matchup. Bowe’s return will hurt Mark Bradley the most, but you don’t own him. Chris Chambers has gone from startable to not. With Bowe back he will remain not.
Chiefs: Cassel -1, Bowe +1, Chambers -1
Houston (21st) @ St. Louis (14th)
The Rams recent pass defense numbers are still being inflated by facing some poor quarterbacks. Feel very good about starting Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Sadly they could be sitting on the bench fairly early because the Rams can’t score. Kevin Walter and David Anderson are getting about the same amount of looks and are canceling each other out. I think it’s time to give up on Walter if you haven’t already.
Texans: Schaub +2, Johnson +2, Walter -2
Null threw 5 interceptions last week and Boller didn’t practice due to an illness. Boller may play, but he’s not much better than Null, literally and figuratively. If you take a look at the targets week by week for the Rams wide receivers on a graph it is a pretty funky roller coaster. They’ve got some fantasy quality receivers if only they had a fantasy quality QB.
Atlanta (30th) @ NY Jets (1st)
No matter who starts at quarterback for the Falcons, don’t start him. Matt Ryan did not participate in practice on Wednesday and is questionable right now. The Jets pass defense at home makes the whole Falcons’ passing game extremely questionable. Sadly Roddy White might as well not show up, because his stats at the end of the day will look like he hadn’t. He will get Revis’d, but good. Michael Jenkins did put in a good statistical game last week, but he’s not worth owning. Gonzo is always a start cuz he’s Gonzo.
Falcons: Redman/Ryan -2, White -2, Jenkins -2, Gonzalez 0
Mark Sanchez practiced and if everything goes well he probably will go. His gunslinging ways help the Jets receivers and I think upgrade Cotchery and Edwards against a poor Falcons pass defense. With Clemens in, they just rush, rush and then rush for good measure. Sanchez may also be handing off a lot as well, but he does have a better arm than Clemens. His start still isn’t for sure so keep an eye on that.
Jets: Clemens/Sanchez -2, Cotchery +1, Edwards +1, Keller -2
Miami (18th) @ Tennessee (16th)
Chad Henne has been throwing the ball a lot since the wildcat was disbanded and doing fairly well, but the Dolphins are still a running team. Henne is accurate, tying Pennington’s 17 straight completions, and has a strong arm. They aren’t going to turn him loose unless they get behind like they did to New England where he threw for over 300 yards. If the Dolphins are playing the game they want, Henne will throw for 175-225 yards 1 TD and no interceptions. Not exactly QB 1 numbers, which of course makes it hard to get wide receivers a lot of yards. Bess was doing well in ppr leagues, but got dinged up last week. Keep an eye on his status and reserve him for ppr only.
Dolphins: Henne 0, Bess 0, Camarillo 0
Miami’s pass defense hasn’t been good this season and can be beat. Of course a lot depends on Vince Young’s status. He sat out of practice on Wednesday, but says he could have come back into the game on Sunday. The Titans are a completely different team with Collins behind center. If VY practices Thursday and Friday I’d feel good about starting him, but if he doesn’t practice I would look elsewhere. Kenny Britt is turning into a legitimate #1 receiver and even with Collins he’ll get his looks. Otherwise you can’t really rely on any Titans’ receiver/tight end.
Titans: Young +1, Collins -2, Britt +1
San Francisco (12th) @ Philadelphia (20th)
Alex Smith is frustrating to own. He’s about as on again, off again as you can get. The Eagles have shown some weaknesses in their pass defense of late. Does this mean Alex Smith can take advantage? I think so, but I think his contributions will help Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree more than him, at least fantasy wise. I wouldn’t start Smith in a playoff game in Philadelphia, but I would start his best two targets.
49’ers: Smith 0, Crabtree +1, Morgan, -1, Davis +2
The Niners pass defense is erratic. Last Monday night they shut down one of the best passing offenses in the league. They play with emotion, just like their coach. Will they travel cross country off a emotional Monday night game and play with that same intensity? I don’t think so. McNabb has owned the Niners in his 5 career games against them, averaging 277 yards and 2 TD’s. Jeremy Maclin is hurt so Jason Avant may have some value. Keep an eye on Brent Celek’s injury status, but he should play.
Eagles: McNabb +2, Jackson +2, Avant 0, Celek +1
New England (29th) @ Buffalo (2nd)
The Patriots aren’t clicking on all cylinders and going to face one of the best pass defenses in the league in the house that Ralph built is not the way to get back on track. Moss may be pissed about all this “doggin it” talk, and they may want to knock the talking heads off so I just can’t say you should sit him and you can never sit Wes Welker, but you just can’t feel confident about the situation.
Patriots: Brady 0, Moss 0, Welker +1, Watson -2
The Patriots have been pretty awful in pass defense, but the Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick aren’t exactly passing juggernauts. Lee Evans has been useless this season. T.O. is finding the endzone again and is worth a start against a poor Pats D.
Bills: Fitzpatrick -1, Owens +1, Evans -1
Arizona (22nd) @ Detroit (32nd)
This game should be over before it starts. The Cardinals will want to reassert themselves after an ugly loss to the 49ers and the Detroit Lions are a good team to do that against. The only worry is that the starters will be sitting before the first 2 minute warning, but you have to start the studs. Watch Larry Fitzgerald’s status, but he seems to be fine. I think you can even start Breaston here.
Cardinals: Warner +2, Fitzgerald +2, Boldin +2, Breaston +1
It’s looking like Culpepper will get the start again which isn’t the greatest news you could ever hear. The only player you can think of playing is Megatron. Daunte threw the ball a ton, but has little to no accuracy left. Megatron was targeted a lot, but still had a down game. As long as he’s getting his targets I think you have to start him, especially since they will be down and throwing a lot.
Lions: Culpepper -2, Johnson +1
Chicago (8th) @ Baltimore (5th)
I’m thinking the Bears shot their wad last week against their rival. There is no reason to believe Cutler can go to Baltimore and do anything besides throw interceptions and get sacked. Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu have some skills, but they’re too young to be consistent, especially against the Ravens. Devin Hester hasn’t practiced and even if he does I’d bench him or drop him.
The Bears pass defense has been decent and held down the best fantasy quarterback this year last week, but like I said I expect a let down in Baltimore. That doesn’t mean you go and start Flacco, but Mason is always a solid play. You will see a lot of Ray Rice and company pecking at the dead Bear flesh. I hear Ravens go for the fleshy parts first; think eyes and genitals.
Ravens: Flacco -1, Mason +1, Heap -1
Sunday 4 PM
Oakland (25th) @ Denver (3rd)
Charlie Frye is starting and Zach Miller probably won’t play because of a concussion. Enough said.
Raiders: Frye -2, Anyone else -2
Kyle Orton threw the ball 28 times to Brandon Marshall. That doesn’t leave much room for anybody else to put up any fantasy numbers. Don’t expect the same this week against Asomugha, but he often doesn’t shadow the opponent’s best receiver so he doesn’t shut down single players like Revis does. Play Marshall, just don’t expect insane numbers. Last week they couldn’t run the ball to save their life. This week Moreno should get a lot of carries and Frye will keep the Raiders from scoring so Orton won’t need to pass nearly as much.
Broncos: Orton +1, Marshall +1
Cincinnati (3rd) @ San Diego (26th)
This is an interesting game. The Bengals have been able to win on defense and rushing, but their passing game has yet to really click. I don’t see it clicking in San Diego. The last time the Bengals traveled to the west coast they lost to the Raiders. They will need to slow down the Chargers, by pushing them around in the running game, not trying to go toe to toe in the passing game.
Bengals: Palmer -1, Ochocinco +1
Phil Rivers has been pretty matchup proof this season. The Bengals are tough and don’t expect a huge game, but Rivers has only missed 16 fantasy points once this year. Vincent Jackson got back on track last week and is just too good to bench and Antonio Gates is Antonio Gates.
Chargers: Rivers +1, Jackson 0, Gates 0
Tampa Bay (9th) @ Seattle (31st)
The Seahawks pass defense has been non-existent as of late. Josh Freeman has been throwing like he put his hands up and just don’t care and he must not because many of his passes go to the other team, especially in the red zone. But the Bucs don’t have much of a running game and they do have Antonio Bryant and Kellen Winslow. I expect both to get a lot of looks up in the Emerald City. Start both, for reals.
Buccaneers: Freeman -2, Bryant +2, Winslow +2
Matt Hasselbeck is an injury waiting to happen, Houshmandzadeh is a bust and Nate Burleson is out. Housh may see an uptick in targets, but he’s hard to start the way he’s been playing. Tampa Bay is worse against the run and Talib is a shut down corner so it would behoove the Seahawks to run and run and run with Forsett, not Jones. Can you hear me Mora?
Seahawks: Hasselbeck 0, Housmandzadeh 0, Carlson -1
Green Bay (7th) @ Pittsburgh (11th)
We’ve all heard it, but it’s true; the Steelers pass defense is average without Polamalu. That doesn’t mean that the Steelers blitz packages won’t hurt Rodgers enough to keep him from going off, but it also doesn’t mean you sit him. Donald Driver was held to just 11 yards last week, but the Packers will need to throw to move the ball. I think Driver will get his looks. Jennings just hasn’t been that good this season. We could blame it on the offensive line early, but now even when Rodgers gets him the ball he’ll drop it. He’ll get you 4-5 catches and 50 yards, but asking for more is plain silly.
Packers: Rodgers +1, Driver +1, Jennings 0, Finley +1
The Packers pass defense has been taken over by Chuck Woodson. They are tough and don’t give up much to wide receivers. You need to temper your expectations for Big Ben and company. Santonio Holmes has been playing very well, but will have trouble if Woodson shadows him. All are starts in the right situation, but be careful.
Steelers: Roethlisberger 0, Holmes -1, Ward 0, Miller -1
Sunday 8:20 PM
Minnesota (9th) @ Carolina (6th)
Carolina continues to have a good pass defense so you’ll probably see a lot of Purple Jesus on Sunday. I’m not high on Favre out of the dome against a good defense. Sidney Rice continues to be a stud so it’s very difficult to sit him, so I’d take the easy route and start him. Percy Harvin is still having migraines and has a late start so I would sit him unless we get some good reports. Berrian just can’t seem to get right, he’s been mini-Jennings this year.
Vikings: Favre -1, Rice 0, Berrian -2, Harvin (check injury reports), Shiancoe -2
Matt Moore should get the start again. Steve Smith has been doing fine with him in there, but this week he’ll probably get Antoine Winfield which hurts him a lot. They will have a lot of trouble running on Minnesota so they’ll probably have to throw, so Smith will get his looks, but is a risky play this week.
Panthers: Moore -2, Smith 0
Monday 8:30 PM
NY Giants (27th) @ Washington (17th)
Little Brother had a huge game in a shootout loss last week, but has been inconsistent as usual. The Redskins haven’t been quite as good in pass defense lately. We might be in store for another high scoring game in D.C. so I see Eli as a low QB #1. Steve Smith and the recently promoted Hakeem Nicks make good WR #3 starts. Washington has been tough on wide receivers so I’d be careful about starting Boss.
Giants: Manning +1, Smith +1, Nicks +1, Boss -1
Jason Campbell has turned around his season and gets a pitiful Giants’ secondary to work against on Monday night. I like Campbell, but no receiver is really taking over as a fantasy starter. Fred Davis is probably the closest player right now. Davis has been finding the end zone a lot and in the last 8 weeks the Giants have given up 86 yards a game and 11 fantasy points a game to tight ends. Get Davis in your lineup.
Redskins: Campbell +1, Thomas 0, Moss 0, Davis +2