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Weekly Matchups: Strong Plays, Weak Plays Week 17

Kyle Fisher

Kyle Fisher

Kyle Fisher writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.


STRONG PLAYS

Eli Manning vs. WAS

While Manning threw four interceptions last week, he still broke the 300-yard barrier and threw two more touchdowns. Manning should find the Redskins secondary a little friendlier than last week's misadventure in Green Bay. The Redskins rank 29th in fantasy points allowed to the quarterback position and have allowed at least 266 passing yards in each of their last three games. With a lot of elite quarterbacks resting or playing limited minutes this week, Manning looks to be one of the better plays in Week 17.

Ryan Mathews vs. DEN

Mathews will receive the bulk of the workload for the Chargers in this week, and fantasy owners who have been burned by him may reap some benefits in their championship game. Mathews has been very pedestrian in the last three weeks, averaging less than 60 yards a game. However, with Mike Tolbert out and facing the Broncos run defense in Week 17, Mathews is poised for his best game of the season. The Broncos are the worst fantasy run defense in the NFL and have given up five rushing touchdowns in the last three weeks while surrendering 141 yards per game. Look for Mathews to begin 2011 the way many thought he would start 2010.

Steven Jackson vs. SEA

Jackson hasn't broken the century mark since Week 13 but has scored touchdowns in each of his last two games. Perhaps no player has more on his shoulders in the biggest game of the season for the Rams, but Jackson has the matchup to shine in the spotlight. The Seahawks ranks 28th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and are coming off last week's 185-yard rushing performance to the Buccaneers. Look for Jackson to get the ball a lot in this winner-take-all contest and have one of his better outputs of the year.

Brandon Marshall vs. NE

The Patriots will most likely be on cruise control as they have clinched the best record in the AFC. Still, even at full strength, this looks to be a favorable matchup for Marshall, who is finally clicking in the Dolphins offense. Marshall has 21 catches for 208 yards in the last two weeks and faces a Patriots secondary ranked 25th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. While Marshall wasn't as a big a fantasy stud as most expected, he could end the season with three straight 100-yard games, which could make things very interesting in 2011.

Atlanta Def vs. CAR

The Falcons are by no means an elite fantasy defense, but other than Tom Brady not throwing an interception, the most sure thing in 2010 has been to start the defense playing the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have been the easiest team for fantasy defenses to score upon in 2010, and in the teams' first meeting, Carolina scored just 10 points while having two turnovers and giving up five sacks. With Atlanta needing a win to clinch home-field advantage, expect an all out effort for enough of the game to make this a solid play.

WEAK PLAYS

Josh Freeman vs. NO

Freeman was one of the big fantasy stars last week, throwing for five touchdowns against the Seahawks. This week, Freeman's task will be much more difficult against the Saints. The Saints are giving up the second fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and have held their last two opponents to less than 200 yards passing. Expect Freeman to have modest numbers in this huge road contest for the Bucs.

Peyton Hillis vs. PIT

Hillis has really been stymied the last four weeks as he has failed to get into the endzone and has only broken 59 yards once. Expect more of the same in a Week 17 matchup against the run-stopping Steelers. The Steelers have given up the fewest fantasy points on the ground in the NFL and haven't allowed 100 yards to a team this season. Hillis had a great 2010 and was a tremendous value to his owners this season, but don't expect him to be much help in your championship game.

Ryan Torain vs. NYG

Unlike Hillis, Torain has ended the season with a bang. In his last three games, Torain has scored twice and averaged 117.3 combined yards per game. This week, Torain faces a tough matchup in a Giants team that will need a win and help to make the playoffs. Despite the late-season collapse, the Giants have only allowed an average of 66.5 yards per game and two touchdowns in their last four games to running backs. Look for Torain to feel the wrath of Big Blue in the Redskins season finale.

Dwayne Bowe vs. OAK

Bowe has been perhaps the most productive receiver in the NFL this season with a league-leading 15 touchdown catches. Last week, Bowe had another huge outing against the Titans going for 153 yards and a touchdown. This week, Bowe faces a tough matchup in the Raiders, who have given up the sixth fewest fantasy points to receivers in the league. While Bowe is too good to sit, his team may be careful with him as the Chiefs have already clinched a first-round home playoff game.

Johnny Knox vs. GB

Knox has either been really good or really bad this season and his last two games have been really good. Knox has six catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns. This week, Knox and the Bears have little to play for against a must-win team in division rival Green Bay. The Packers have allowed the fourth fewest points to wide receivers in the NFL and held Bears receivers to just 131 yards and no touchdowns in their earlier matchup. Look for the Bears to be cautious with their starters, meaning Knox may get limited snaps in this tough matchup.