Joe Flacco vs. HOU
Flacco is coming off a fairly solid night in a losing effort to the Steelers and has been consistently good for fantasy owners for most of the season. Flacco has averaged two passing touchdowns in the last seven weeks and has had more than 250 yards in every game but one in that span. This week, Flacco faces a Texans pass defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to the quarterback position and multiple touchdown passes in nine of its last 10 games. Flacco is a must-start and will be one of the better fantasy performers this week.
Knowshon Moreno vs. ARI
Moreno is beginning to flash some of that first-round talent, as he has at least 100 combined yards in four consecutive weeks and has scored three touchdowns. Last week, he broke out with a career-high 161 yards on the ground, and this week he figures to be over the century mark again versus the Cardinals. The Cardinals are giving up the most points to fantasy running backs this season and have allowed at least one rushing touchdown in six straight weeks. Look for another big performance from Moreno to take the pressure off interim head coach Eric Studesville.
LeGarrette Blount vs. WAS
In a tough matchup last week, Blount broke the century mark and score a touchdown in a close loss to the Flacons. This week, the matchup is much easier as Blount faces a Redskins run defense ranked 26th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. The Redskins have allowed at least four yards per carry in eight straight weeks and are on a run of six rushing touchdowns allowed in the last two weeks. Blount should have another productive fantasy week and continue the Bucs drive toward the playoffs.
DeSean Jackson vs. DAL
Jackson is coming off his best game in four weeks and looks to continue to the upward trend this week against the Cowboys. While the Cowboys overall play has greatly improved under Jason Garrett, the pass defense still leaves a lot to be desired, and Jackson should take advantage this week. The Cowboys have given up the most fantasy points to wide receivers this season and lead the Triple Crown race as they have allowed the most receptions, yards and touchdowns this season. Look for Jackson to have a big game in this crucial matchup for the Eagles.
Atlanta Def vs. CAR
The Falcons are nothing special on defense as they are below average in sacks and fumble recoveries, average in points allowed and near the top in interceptions. However, nothing turns the ordinary into extraordinary quite like the Panthers offense. The Panthers continue to be a strong play for fantasy defenses as they are last in scoring offense, 29th in sacks allowed and average 2.5 turnovers per game, which is near the bottom of the league. Look for a nice performance from a team that should be a good one-week start at the fantasy defensive position.
Matt Cassell vs. SD
Cassell was solid, but not spectacular, in a very good matchup last week against a weak Broncos pass defense. This week, Cassell steps up in class against a desperate Chargers team. While the Chargers laid an egg last week against Oakland, the pass defense allowed just 117 yards and one touchdown pass. For the season, the Chargers have given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and in Week 1 versus Cassell the Chargers allowed just 68 yards and a touchdown. While Cassell will be better than that, he doesn’t project to be a good play in this very important week for fantasy owners.
Matt Ryan vs. CAR
Ryan has yet to have a really bad game this season, and while we don’t expect him to be bad this week, it is likely that from a fantasy perspective he doesn’t give you the numbers you need. Despite being 1-11, the Panthers have allowed the fourth fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks all season. They have four interceptions in the last two weeks and have allowed just one touchdown pass in the last three weeks. Ryan may not have to throw a lot as the Panthers run defense (29th in fantasy points allowed) is as poor as the pass defense is good, and the Panthers offense is the worst in the league. Look for efficient but not eye-popping numbers from Ryan.
Cedric Benson vs. PIT
Despite gaining just 49 yards, Benson is coming off one of his best fantasy games of the season after scoring two touchdowns versus the Saints. This week, Benson can expect the same amount of yardage minus the touchdowns versus the Steelers. The Steelers have one of the better run defenses in recent memory allowing just three yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns all season. The Steelers do have some problems with pass-catching backs, but Benson has just 22 catches for 140 yards this season. Look for Benson to struggle and not be a factor for owners this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw vs. MIN
Bradshaw had one of his best games of the season last week, rushing for nearly 100 yards and scoring twice in an easy Giants victory. This week’s matchup will be much tougher as the Giants face a Vikings run defense that is beginning to look like the defense that gave fantasy owners headaches the last five years. The Vikings have allowed the fifth fewest points to fantasy running backs this season, but more important, they are on a five-game run in which they have allowed just 59.6 yards rushing and no rushing touchdowns. If you have depth at running back, consider benching Bradshaw this week.
Mike Thomas vs. OAK
Thomas wasn’t much of a factor as the ground game led the Jaguars in last week’s victory. This week could be much the same as the Raiders are one of the better fantasy pass defenses while struggling against the run. The Raiders have given up the fewest catches to wide receivers in the NFL this season, and the seventh fewest fantasy points to wide receivers overall. Meanwhile, the Raiders are allowing the eighth most fantasy points on the ground. In a game this important the ball will be in MJD’s hands, thus likely rendering Thomas an afterthought this week.