Jon Kitna vs. JAC
Kitna threw two touchdowns in relief of the injured Tony Romo on Monday and looks to be starting for the next 6-8 weeks for Romo. Kitna should look like a starter this week against a Jaguars defense that has given up the most touchdown passes in the NFL (16), ranking 31st in points allowed to the quarterback position. Although the season might be over for the Cowboys, Kitna and the passing game should look like Super Bowl contenders this week.
Ryan Torain vs. DET
Mike Shanahan always finds a guy to run the ball, and Torain has become that guy. Torain has back-to-back 100-yard efforts and looks to make it three straight this week. The matchup makes it a possibility as Torain faces a Lions run defense that ranks last in the NFL in points per game allowed to the running back position. The Lions also rank 30th in yards per rushing attempt at nearly 5.0. Torain once against looks like one of the better plays at running back this week.
Thomas Jones vs. BUF
While fantasy owners have been screaming for coach Todd Haley to get the ball to the more dynamic Jamaal Charles, Jones has averaged 4.7 yards per carry and is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. While in recent weeks Charles has gotten more involved, Jones still has real value this week against a Bills run defense ranked 29th in the league in points allowed to the running back position. The Bills are also 27th in yards per rushing attempt allowed at 4.8. The Bills may be a bad enough run defense that both Jones and Charles can shine, but with 39 carries in the last two weeks, we know Jones will get his touches.
Calvin Johnson vs. WAS
While Megatron started slowly, he has really taken off in his last three games, catching four touchdowns and averaging more than 95 yards a game. Matthew Stafford returns to the fold for the Lions, and he and Johnson couldn't have picked a better time for the reunion as the Lions face a Redskins pass defense ranked 27th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Furthermore, the Redskins have allowed 120 catches to wide receivers, 15 more than any other team. Look for Johnson to continue his ascent up the fantasy receivers ranking with another strong performance this week.
Tampa Bay Def vs. ARI
The Buccaneers rank 20th in fantasy defensive points per game in standard scoring leagues, but could look more like the Steelers or Titans this week against the Cardinals. The Cardinals rank 31st in sack percentage allowed at nearly 10 percent, last in fumbles lost per game at 1.8, 27th in interception percentage and 29th in scoring offense. Tampa should be one of the better plays this week, and is a definitely waiver wire pick up if your defense is on a bye.
Sam Bradford vs. CAR
While Bradford continues to put up solid numbers as a rookie, he has only thrown the ball 45 times in the last two games for just 324 yards. This week's matchup projects similar numbers against Carolina. The Panthers have given up the third fewest points to the quarterback position in large part because teams do not have to throw against them because their run defense is 23rd in points allowed to running backs. With Steven Jackson averaging more than 25 carries the last three games, look for the Rams to keep the ball on the ground. Bradford might be efficient, but he probably won't put up the big numbers needed to start this week, even with all the byes.
Brandon Jackson vs. NYJ
Jackson has become the main guy in the Packers backfield and over the season has received more than 50 percent of the total Packers carries. Jackson has also begun to run the ball much more effectively, as he is averaging 4.5 yards per carry for the season and has averaged 6.3 yards per carry the last three games. With all the byes this week Jackson figures to be in a lot of starting lineups, but the Jets should make Jackson's day miserable. The Jets are allowing the fewest points to running backs in the NFL and have allowed just one rushing touchdown all season. The Jets have also been by far the best pass defense against running backs allowing just 13 catches for 90 yards all season. Jackson may have to be in your lineup, but he may not be much better than your guys on the bye.
Ryan Mathews vs. TEN
Fantasy owners have been waiting for the Norv Turner running game to get going and Mathews to achieve feature back status, but as of yet it hasn't happened. Mathews has averaged 4.7 yards per carry, so the potential is there, but the Chargers have gotten behind so early that the running game has been largely abandoned in several games. This week Mathews should struggle, but it will most likely be due to the players on the other side of the ball. The Titans rank fourth in fewest points allowed to the running back position and along with the Jets and Browns have allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns. Eventually the talented Mathews will be a fantasy stud, but his owners probably will be frustrated at least for another week.
Cedric Benson vs. MIA
With the exception of the Tampa Bay game, Benson has been a below average running back who happens to get the ball a lot. Benson averages less than four yards a carry, and excluding the Tampa Bay effort has averaged a little more than 66 yards a game on the ground. This week the Bengals face a Dolphins run defense giving up the sixth fewest points to running backs in the league. In its last two games, Miami has has allowed just 67 yards a game on the ground. Benson will probably have to be in your lineup with six teams on byes this week, but don't be surprised if he has one of his worst outings of the season.
Hines Ward vs. NO
Ward's play has really picked up since Big Ben retuned to the team. In his two games with Roethlisberger, Ward has tallied 12 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns. This week Ward will get a significant test from a Saints pass defense that has allowed the fewest points to receivers by a wide margin. The Saints at this point are wining the Triple Crown as they have allowed the fewest catches, yards and touchdowns, and they are allowing just over 52 percent completions to receivers. While Ward looks to be a strong option most weeks, it may be a tough night in the Big Easy.