RotoWire Partners

Game Capsules: Week Four Previews

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for Rotowire.com since 2011 and is most proud of recommending Victor Cruz as a starter in his breakout game against the Eagles. He's a lifelong fan of Notre Dame, the Packers and, unfortunately, the Knicks.

San Francisco (-3) @ St. Louis, Thursday 8:25 p.m.

Comments:
The Rams and 49ers, two teams with plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, were both embarrassed thoroughly in games that should have been significantly more competitive, if not victories. On the short week the teams both enter at 1-2, coming off consecutive losses and desperately in need of a win. For the Rams to get the edge, Sam Bradford badly needs some semblance of a rushing attack to take pressure off his arm. In the past two weeks St. Louis tailbacks have accounted for only 72 yards on 23 carries (3.1 YPC), and it's no coincidence they lost both outings. The foot injury that kept Daryl Richardson out of the Dallas drubbing has limited their most experienced back since he initially suffered the strain in Week 1, and none of the alternatives appear poised to raise the level of this backfield anytime soon. Of course, the once-stout Niners run defense has been pummeled the past two weeks to the tune of 351 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, so there's hope yet for Bradford's help, especially with Patrick Willis (groin) and Aldon Smith (leave of absence) expected to be out. If Richardson, who is set to return, and Isaiah Pead falter again, expect Bradford to continue leading the league in pass attempts. That means Chris Givens, Tavon Austin and Jared Cook are still fringe fantasy starters for this Jekyll and Hyde offense... After the throttling Colin Kaepernick and Co. put on the Packers to open the season, the 49ers offense appears to be more of a Houdini act than Jekyll and Hyde. It was somewhat excusable that they went into Seattle and fell on their collective face, but to have an almost equally miserable showing versus a mediocre Colts defense was downright embarrassing and a sign that there are serious issues in the Bay. Granted Kaepernick was without Vernon Davis who was nursing a sore hammy, it's still very dismaying that he's yet to establish any of the 49ers young targets as a competent threat. Moreover, Frank Gore seems to completely get forgotten in the gameplan in second halves, and it's a trend that is very un-Niner-like given their recent history and beefy, bulldozing offensive line. After witnessing DeMarco Murray steamroll a Rams defense with more speed than size, it would be surprising to see Jim Harbaugh abandon the run so quickly again. Ultimately that may not matter though if Davis (an expected game-time decision) is still out and San Francisco struggles to complete passes. So it's possible Kaepernick will remain winless versus St. Louis and the reigning NFC Super Bowl rep will drop to 1-3.

Prediction: Richardson and Pead combine for 110 total yards in an even split. Bradford passes for 268 yards and touchdowns to Cook and Austin Pettis. Kaepernick finds Davis, who guts it out, for a score in a 236-yard performance, while he also adds 53 with his legs. Gore rumbles for 104 yards and finds paydirt. 49ers 20-17.

Baltimore (-3.5) @ Buffalo, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
What could have been a battle of top-ten fantasy running backs looks to heavily feature the backups - the old man versus the young man. Fred Jackson has been awfully spry for 32 years old as he's quietly reached double figure fantasy points in all three games with either 100 total yards or a touchdown. The 11 touches he saw versus the Jets were the fewest he's had yet and he was still able to top 100 yards against a highly stingy defense. With C.J. Spiller being the opposition's focal point whenever he's on the field and struggling to produce, Jackson's touches and numbers seem unlikely to fall off anytime soon. Though Spiller will play through a thigh injury that forced him from Sunday's loss, he no longer looks matchup proof versus a Ravens defense ranked fourth against the run. EJ Manuel will also have his hands very full considering that Baltimore has yet to allow a single touchdown since giving up seven to Peyton Manning in the season opener... Buffalo has had nowhere near the success that the Ravens have had versus the run. They're tied for dead last in the league giving up an average of 155.0 yards per game rushing, which bodes extremely well for Bernard Pierce, who will likely carry the load even if likely game-time decision Ray Rice (hip) doesn't miss consecutive contests. Pierce has averaged just 2.8 YPC so far this season, but he's done so against three top-10 run defenses and he's managed to score in back-to-back weeks to still make him valuable in fantasy. While Rice will certainly get involved if he's available, it would be an upset for Pierce to not have his best game of the young season. When the Ravens turn to the throw, Joe Flacco will continue to keep looking Torrey Smith's way often. With the way Buffalo has been burned over the top by the likes of Ted Ginn, Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes the last couple weeks, it wouldn't be surprising for Smith to also register his best performance yet after being merely steady so far.

Predictions: Manuel pitches it for 189 yards and is picked off twice, while Jackson and Spiller total 151 yards with the latter finally finding the end zone on a big run. Pierce rumbles for 108 yards and a touchdown as Rice chips in 45 total yards. Flacco connects with Smith and Marlon Brown for TD's in a 283-yard effort. Ravens 30-13.

Cincinnati (-5) @ Cleveland, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Both AFC North foes are coming off stunning victories. For the Browns they managed to go up to Minnesota and post 31 points despite losing Trent Richardson - arguably the team's best player - in a mid-week trade and with third-stringer Brian Hoyer filling in for an injured Brandon Weeden (sprained thumb). It was Hoyer's second career start and he clearly took major advantage. He was fortunate to get Josh Gordon back from suspension, but Hoyer still displayed the poise and chemistry with his No. 1 target and also red-zone monster Jordan Cameron that might warrant his remaining the starter once Weeden returns. At the very least, Hoyer played well enough to allow Rob Chudzinski to not have to rush Weeden back into action. And for those who own Gordon and Cameron, it's safe to say they must be started in all league's for the foreseeable future after seeing them combine for 30 targets, more than 200 yards and four touchdowns. The fact that Willis McGahee, Bobby Rainey and Chris Ogbonnaya were at best an average committee makes the receiving duo even more valuable because the Browns aren't likely to run it very much. With a loaded Bengals defense on the docket though, don't expect the same returns from Hoyer and his favorites... Given that the Packers defense had allowed over 700 yards and six passing scores to Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin the first two weeks, one likely would have assumed that Andy Dalton would need a similarly prolific performance to best Aaron Rodgers. But it was the Bengals defense that stepped up to control the game and allow a wild second-half comeback to give Cinci the W. Dalton wasn't terrible by any stretch, but he did have two costly turnovers and had less than 250 yards for his effort. He was efficient though, and he'll need to remain such versus a Cleveland unit that is tied for third in the league with 12 sacks and will undoubtedly put consistent pressure on him. Fortunately for Dalton, his weapons have expanded this year. Rookie Giovani Bernard looks like a younger, quicker Ray Rice and after piling up 164 total yards and three touchdowns the past two outings, it seems like he's quickly becoming a matchup-proof, must-start in fantasy.

Predictions: Dalton throws for 275 yards and touchdowns to A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham. Bernard tallies 84 total yards and finds the end zone rushing. McGahee leads a Cleveland timeshare with 55 yards on the ground, while Hoyer hits Gordon and Cameron for scores in a 244-yard effort. Bengals 24-14.

Chicago (+3) @ Detroit, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Losing Nate Burleson to a broken arm the receiver suffered in a car crash is a huge blow to a Detroit offense that already has Reggie Bush banged up and typically relies on the pass to move the ball consistently. Burleson leads the team with 19 receptions and has accounted for nearly 25% of Matthew Stafford's 1,020 yards through three games. The Lions are fortunate that Ryan Broyles is finally back from a torn ACL and they will badly need him to step into the No. 2 role opposite Calvin Johnson. Facing a stiff Bears defense though will be a major test of Broyles' conditioning since he only returned to action last week. If the 8th-ranked Chicago run defense makes it difficult for Joique Bell and Bush to get going on the ground though, Broyles figures to see plenty of targets and could be worth a flex in deeper standard leagues and PPR formats... The Lions have been one of the friendliest defenses in the league to running backs, having allowed all three feature backs they've faced to hit at least 13 fantasy points. They've given up six total touchdowns to backs in just three contests, while allowing 4.5 YPC, so Matt Forte could be in line for one of his best games this season. The Bears' do-it-all back has yet to total less than 90 yards despite facing two physical AFC North defenses and has already punched in two goal-line scores after years of floundering from in close. With a more-balanced receiving corps the Bears won't need to rely on Forte and Brandon Marshall to move the ball, but the Lions pass defense has been sneaky good with a 2-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, so it may not be one of Jay Cutler's most efficient performances. Nevertheless, you're never going to bench Marshall and Martellus Bennett remains an excellent tight end option despite the poor Week 3 outing. He's been one of the most targeted tight ends inside the red zone (including league-best four looks inside the 10) and with guys like Jermichael Finley and Greg Olsen on bye Bennett has to be considered one of the top options at the position.

Predictions: Cutler passes for 239 yards and touchdowns to Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Forte racks up 149 total yards and hits paydirt rushing. Bush and Bell combine for 108 total yards with the latter netting a short score. Stafford guns it for 317 yards and connects with Theo Riddick for six. Bears 24-20.

New York Giants (+4) @ Kansas City, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
No opposing head coach knows Tom Coughlin's Giants better than the man that now runs the show in Kansas City, and you can bet Andy Reid is more than happy to welcome the worst scoring defense in football (38.3 points per game) to Arrowhead. The Chiefs have already taken down two NFC East foes and with an undefeated record at stake, Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and an opportunistic defense will no doubt do all they can to keep owning that division. New York's defense has yet to show a single playmaker this season, particularly in the back seven, and they're simply no match for the speed of Charles or Smith's precision passing. The way the G-Men allowed a pedestrian Carolina offense to look like world-beaters does not bode well for the more balanced attack KC will throw at them, even if Dwayne Bowe remains a ghost this week... At some point the Giants will need to give a running back more than the season-high 11 carries David Wilson saw in the Carolina blowout, and versus a Kansas City defense leading the league in sacks and ranking tops in the AFC with nine takeaways, this might just be the week New York unleashes Wilson. While the explosive talent generated just 3.5 YPC versus the Panthers, he did show his special burst with a 17-yard touchdown run that was called back due to holding. The Giants are 32nd in rushing offense and that must change to take pressure of Eli Manning. Teams have just been teeing off against a porous Giants offensive line and it's resulted in Manning taking 11 sacks and throwing eight interceptions. Those drive killers can't happen against a steady Chiefs offense. If Wilson doesn't see 15-plus carries this week expect Manning, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks to once again produce disappointing stat lines as KC hammers New York with blitzes.

Predictions: Smith passes for 254 yards and finds Bowe and Charles for touchdowns. The latter adds 102 yards and a score on the ground as well. Wilson dashes for 92 yards and reaches the end zone, while Manning hits Nicks for a score in a 212-yard performance. Chiefs 24-17.

Pittsburgh (-1) @ Minnesota (in London), Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
The Vikings may have halted many survivor seasons when they shockingly allowed 31 points to a Browns team fresh off the loss of Trent Richardson and with quarterback Brian Hoyer making just his second career start behind an offensive line that had allowed 11 sacks in two games. While that bodes well for Steelers skill players for the first time all season, it also means that the Vikings may have to throw it more than they'd like in another competitive, high-scoring affair. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean any Minnesota receiving weapon is an advisable start. Christian Ponder's 42 attempts last week netted just 228 yards and no scores, and because he spread it around no receiver reached 50 yards. And that was versus a Browns defense ranked 12th against the pass. The Steelers stalwart unit ranks third. With Ponder nursing ailing ribs though, Matt Cassel will get a crack at improving this anemic aerial attack. Unfortunately for Vikes fans, that's hardly an upgrade given that the former Chief has thrown 21 picks and fumbled 14 times in his last 18 games. Obviously Adrian Peterson remains a safe start because he's assured of getting the ball plenty regardless of the game circumstances, but at just 4.1 YPC and with no real threat of the pass he's far from the dominant force he was in 2012... Ben Roethlisberger finally seemed to find time to throw it last week despite an aggressive Bears defense. Of course while that allowed him to turn in over 400 yards and two scores through the air, it also led to four turnovers as he did his usual hold the ball too long until a receiver opens up thing. Given that the Vikings rank 30th in the league with only four sacks, that may work out better for Big Ben in London. If he can keep the turnovers down and continue to feed the big-play-waiting-to-happen Antonio Brown, the Steeler offense may find it's groove against a Minnesota squad that's given up over 30 points every week and allowed even Hoyer to top 300 yards and toss three touchdowns. An effective run game would even help Roethlisberger more than his line finally gelling, and that could be coming in the form of rookie Le'Veon Bell, who will finally make his season debut now that his sprained foot has healed. While the workload distribution is anybody's guess - Mike Tomlin is mum on the starter - it would be a surprise if Jonathan Dwyer didn't also see a healthy share of action given his pass protection skills. Felix Jones has flashed a bit the past two weeks but could be the odd man out after he gave away a costly fumble versus Chicago.

Predictions: Big Ben slings it for 290 yards and hits Heath Miller and Emmanuel Sanders for touchdowns. Bell rushes for only 38 yards as Dwyer upstages him with 60 and a score. Peterson churns out 94 yards and punches one in, while Cassel finds Greg Jennings for his first Viking TD in a 202-yard day. Steelers 27-17.

Arizona (+3) @ Tampa Bay, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
For months it has felt like Josh Freeman was never Greg Schiano's guy and now three miserable performances into the season - all losses - the former first-round signal caller has finally found the bench. Rookie third-round pick Mike Glennon will draw his first start versus a Cardinals defense that lost three outside linebackers to IR and is coming off a beating by the Saints. Of course, Drew Brees is light years ahead of Glennon, and with top targets Vincent Jackson (ribs) and Mike Williams (hamstring) banged up, the Cardinals and their dynamic defensive back duo of Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu figure to have the advantage in this one. Arizona has particularly struggled versus tight ends, but Glennon has none worth noting, so Doug Martin is sure to be featured heavily, and possibly for the first time this season as a pass catcher as well if he becomes the security checkdown man... A Cardinals team that was just stomped in New Orleans may not be poised to take advantage of the Buccaneers' sudden quarterback switch. Starting outside linebackers Sam Acho (broken fibula) and Lorenzo Alexander (foot) as well as Acho's backup Alex Okafor (biceps) were all lost to IR in the Saints contest leaving Arizona woefully thin at the position intended to put the most pressure on opposing passers. On the offensive side Carson Palmer will be dealing with a Tampa defense that's allowed just four touchdowns in three games, including matchups with Drew Brees and Tom Brady. The Bucs are currently tied for third in the league with 12 sacks, due in large part because of tight coverage in the back end led by All-Pros Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson. The presence of Revis alone makes Larry Fitzgerald - still less than 100% with a hamstring ailment - a risky proposition in fantasy. The effectiveness the Bucs stingy defense normally has could even be compounded by the harsh 1 p.m. EST start time for a Cardinals team making the cross-country trek from the desert. With Rashard Mendenhall (toe) also hampered a bit by injury, Arizona is could be in for a long day against a team hungry and ready for its first win.

Predictions: Palmer throws for 230 yards and hits Michael Floyd for a touchdown. Mendenhall and Ellington tally 91 yards in a split backfield. Martin totals 118 yards and punches in two short scores. Glennon pitches it for 182 yards and two interceptions. Buccaneers 14-10.

Indianapolis (-8.5) @ Jacksonville, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
The Jags predictably took a beat-down in Seattle but showed more offensive backbone than expected after scoring a measly 11 points through the first two weeks, including a loss to the Raiders. Though their two touchdowns came in the second half when the game was decided, Cecil Shorts and Maurice Jones-Drew proved that they can still produce despite awful matchups and lopsided scores. Shorts is a must-start for at least one more week until Justin Blackmon returns from suspension, as he's the league-leader with 39 targets thus far. So even though Chad Henne will again take a backseat to Blaine Gabbert, who's lacerated hand has healed, Shorts is a safe bet for double-digit targets in a game that Jacksonville could easily be losing by multiple touchdowns. Jones-Drew likewise will get his touches against an Indy D ranked 26th in rushing yards and yards-per-carry allowed (4.7 YPC)... With the Colts defense bottling up the 49ers offense last week, Andrew Luck dropped back far less than expected. Against the Jaguars 30th-ranked run defense the same result could well be on the horizon. It should be noted, however, that Seattle, one of the league's best rushing teams, torched Jacksonville with five passing scores. Of course, it certainly can't be forgotten that Trent Richardson is now in town. He and Ahmad Bradshaw ripped through a usually bruising 49ers D last week, but Richardson will be called on to do most of the heavy lifting this week with Bradshaw out due to a sore neck. And with T.Y. Hilton also looking highly iffy after spending Friday's practice in a walking boot, it looks like Reggie Wayne and Darrius Heyward-Bey will also be featured extensively in this tasty matchup.

Predictions: Jones-Drew nets 96 total yards and scores on the ground. Gabbert passes for 182 yards, with Shorts tallying 111 of them. Luck finds Coby Fleener and Heyward-Bey for TD's in a 237-yard performance. Richardson bulls his way to 132 total yards and hits paydirt rushing. Colts 27-13.

Seattle (-3) @ Houston, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
In what could be a Super Bowl preview, the Texans will be greatly tested on both sides of the ball by one of the few teams league-wide that exceeds their physicality with an overpowering will-to-win style. For Houston to have a shot at posting enough points against a defense that's allowed just 9.0 per game so far, Matt Schaub will have to make smarter decisions and good reads from start to finish. A costly pick-six in each of the last two games nearly had the Texans entering this brutal matchup at 1-2. Hopefully for Schaub's sake All-Pro Andre Johnson will be available and not especially limited by a badly bruised shin that's got him looking like a game-time decision. If Johnson were unavailable, or little more than a decoy, Houston will have to lean heavily on the legs of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Either way though, this game will not be won by a one-dimensional offense, so the backs, Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins all need to step up against a loaded Seattle team on a mission... Russell Wilson made it look extremely easy tossing four touchdowns last week in a yawner against Jacksonville, but that was a glorified practice session compared to what J.J. Watt and the Texans D will throw at him in Houston. Wilson's performance will likely land somewhere in a middle ground between that cakewalk and the dreadful performance he turned in the week prior versus San Francisco. While Seattle's defense has the goods to turn in this win with little help from its offense, plenty of Marshawn Lynch beasting it up should be expected for the chains to keep moving.

Predictions: Foster and Tate contribute 108 total yards, with the All-Pro vet nabbing a short score. Schaub finds Owen Daniels in the end zone in a 213-yard effort. Lynch rushes for 94 yards and a touchdown, while Wilson throws scoring strikes to Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin in a 280-yard day. Seahawks 24-17.

New York Jets (+4) @ Tennessee, Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Comments:
The Titans and Jets are both surprises at 2-1 and it's no coincidence that those second wins came with their young quarterbacks turning in the best performances of their careers (though that's not saying much considering it was Geno Smith's third game). Jake Locker ran like a stallion while protecting the ball and making the right reads and accurate throws from the pocket. Both young signal callers took advantage of their matchups with defenses ranked among the bottom five in the league in yards allowed, but the good feelings and strong production from those contests could turn ugly in a hurry. Locker he faces a highly aggressive Jets defense that's been dominant versus the pass thus far, allowing just a 47.3% completion rate to opposing QB's while taking them down for 12 sacks. And unfortunately for the Tennessee offense as a whole, New York has been almost equally tough versus the run, holding opponents to 3.2 YPC. Chris Johnson likely won't find much breathing room facing a stifling front seven... Smith twice burned the Bills deep for scores but may not have the benefit of the big play versus a Titans secondary that's allowed a long completion of only 34 yards in three games. That doesn't mean Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill won't be productive after break out performances, but a confusing Gregg Williams defense that disguises its blitzes well could stifle Smith and lead to poor reads and throws, so they remain risky options at best. Bilal Powell on the other hand looks like a borderline No. 1 running back this week. With all the tailback injuries league-wide - including to teammate Chris Ivory (hamstring) who will likely sit - Powell is among the few feature backs who are safe bets for 20-plus carries. A Titans run D giving up 4.4 YPC makes for a promising follow up to Powell's career game (149 rushing yards versus Buffalo).

Predictions: Powell totals 115 yards and scores rushing. Smith hooks up with Holmes for a touchdown in a 218-yard outing. Locker passes for 195 yards and adds 40 rushing but fails to find the end zone. Johnson nets 78 on the ground. Jets 14-9.

Philadelphia (+10.5) @ Denver, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

Comments:
The thin Denver air could leave both defenses lined up for the oxygen tanks at halftime in what has the potential to be the highest scoring game of the season. A dreadful Eagles pass defense will get burned by Peyton Manning and his many toys, but a Broncos unit that's suspect in the back seven and still without a consistent pass-rush doesn't figure to fair much better against Michael Vick and the Philly speed if they don't pressure the QB the way Kansas City did a week ago. The Eagles have faired better versus the run as they've allowed 4.0 YPC versus the likes of Alfred Morris, Ryan Mathews and Jamaal Charles, but with Manning spreading them thin, Knowshon Moreno should have a bounce back performance and Ronnie Hillman could contribute some nice runs in a tandem. As always, none of Denver's top four targets should be benched in any format... If Vick protects the ball from an opportunistic Broncos defense tied for the league lead with six INT's he'll have himself a big fantasy day. A road victory is an extreme longshot though since Vick simply doesn't have the weapons around him to keep pace with Manning, who may be able to score at will on this defense. The Broncos top-ranked run defense will be greatly tested, however, against LeSean McCoy. The Eagles' phenom has been unstoppable as he's generated 514 yards from scrimmage and two scores in just three games, so last week's ankle tweak and the Denver D are nothing to sweat.

Predictions: Vick rushes for 48 yards and pitches it for 296 with scores going to DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant. McCoy totals 128 yards and snags a rushing TD. Moreno runs for 75 yards and a touchdown, while Manning connects with Demaryius Thomas (2), Wes Welker and Julius Thomas in a 358-yard day. Broncos 41-24.

Dallas (-2) @ San Diego, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

Comments:
Ryan Mathews scored on the Chargers' first play of the season and has since totaled just 175 yards on 47 touches while registering 3.6 YPC and losing a fumble. Getting a Dallas defense that's second in the league versus the run can't possibly instill any confidence in his owners that a big game is coming up. Granted the Cowboys ranking is skewed by matchups with the Giants and Rams - the 32nd and 29th rushing offenses respectively - it has to be noted that they stymied Jamaal Charles as well, limiting the superstar to 3.4 YPC in Week 2. Philip Rivers sits at second to only Peyton Manning with a 116.2 passer rating and has completed a whopping 78.9% of his passes the past two weeks, but he could be in for a rude awakening if Mathews can't get going versus Dallas. After seven scores in two games, Rivers threw for less than 200 yards and just one TD last week as he clearly felt the absence of Malcom Floyd (neck). His lanky deep threat isn't expected back just yet, so Eddie Royal, Antonio Gates and a disappointing Vincent Brown will compete for underneath work in an attack that can't stretch the field. Against a Dallas defense sitting at second in the league with 13 sacks, expect another dink and dunk performance to leave Rivers owners and San Diego short on yards and points... In three games No. 1 receivers have destroyed the Chargers' dead-last pass defense to the tune of 29 grabs for 470 yards. With Miles Austin likely to be out with the return of his hamstring woes, Dez Bryant could be in line for a field day should his back not limit him. Either way, Tony Romo has his best matchup to date this season. And coming off a monster performance with over 200 total yards and a score, DeMarco Murray should keep the good times rolling versus a San Diego defense that's almost as miserable versus the run, allowing 5.1 YPC.

Predictions: Murray racks up 134 total yards and catches one of Romo's three touchdowns, as the others both go to Bryant in a 365-yard day for the QB and 174-yard effort for the WR. Rivers pitches it for 280 yards and finds Gates and Brown for scores. Mathews adds 55 rushing while Danny Woodhead chips in 81 total yards. Cowboys 30-23.

Washington (-3) @ Oakland, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

Comments:
Pushing to get a meaningless score in a blowout loss to Denver, Terrelle Pryor cost himself and his owners possibly the best matchup he'll face all season by getting concussed on a scramble. The 32nd-ranked Redskins defense will roll into town from across the country giving up an average of 333.0 yards through the air and 155.0 on the ground. With Pryor unable to go, Matt Flynn will look to take advantage in his first start since Week 17 of the 2011 season, his final game as a Packer. In that outing he set Green Bay franchise marks for a single game with 480 yards and six touchdown passes. Despite the juicy matchup, a ton less has to be expected of Flynn. He should find some success as a more traditional, accurate pocket passer than Pryor, but he doesn't have the weapons to put up anywhere near those numbers. Additionally, the Raiders weak offensive line could put him in some dicey situations with outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo providing a strong pass rush. Darren McFadden of course looks like a fantastic start versus the Skins run D, while the explosive Denarius Moore and versatile Marcel Reece are at least flex starts in deeper leagues... While the Redskins allow the highest passer rating to opposing QB's at 120.1, the Raiders are an extremely close second at 120.0 allowed, due largely though to Peyton Manning's ridiculously efficient game on Monday Night Football. Robert Griffin, who's gone for at least 320 yards in each week thus far, is certainly capable of keeping that streak alive against this defense. He may not need to though if Alfred Morris keeps chugging along at the pace he's hit after a shaky Week 1. In the past two games Morris has averaged 6.4 YPC and a heavy does of downhill running could be exactly what the Redskins need to finally start fast and build a lead. Pierre Garcon is still well worth a start though, as RGIII is going to do damage, but he's the only receiving option that's been consistent enough for fantasy use.

Predictions: McFadden piles up 155 total yards with a rushing score, while Flynn passes for 244 yards and touchdowns to Reece and Brice Butler. Griffin hooks up with Garcon and Josh Morgan for TD's in a 254-yard day. Morris rumbles for 121 yards rushing and punches in the decisive score. Redskins 27-24.

New England (+1.5) @ Atlanta, Sunday 8:30 p.m.

Comments:
The Falcons gave a valiant effort in a gut-wrenching loss to Miami. With a banged up defense missing Sean Weatherspoon and Kroy Biermann and an offense without Steven Jackson (thigh) and only a shell of Roddy White, they put themselves in position to steal a road win versus a tough Dolphins team. Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling both stepped up in a big way to total 204 yards and a touchdown, and the pair figures to again be featured prominently to soften a beefy Patriots defense and keep Tom Brady off the field by extending drives. Snelling saw five fewer touches last week but that number could be reversed as the bigger back might be needed more against a powerful New England front seven. While the backs will be crucial to moving the chains consistently, the Falcons will not have a chance if Matt Ryan cannot find someone besides Julio Jones - the league's leading receiver - to pressure the defense down the field... The Patriots offense could be a juggernaut again in the near future. For the Falcons' sake, they had better hope that likely game-time decisions Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) and Danny Amendola (groin) are game-time scratches. If Gronk or Amendola is able to put in a full game, Tom Brady's weapons will be plentiful once again. Each game his rookie wideouts make strides, as evidenced by Kenbrell Thompkins' first two career touchdowns last week, and the eventual additions of his best two receiving threats will seriously open up the offense. Stevan Ridley also stands to benefit greatly from their returns, as defenses will constantly have to be prepared for the pass when Gronkowski is on the field. Gronk keeps linebackers on their heels at the snap, so Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden will all see bigger running lanes that stay open longer. Of course, this weekend may not see those changes come to fruition even if the two do suit up. The possibility of limited snaps or rust makes Gronk and Amendola highly risky fantasy options should they give it a go. Moreover, given the Sunday night kickoff, if they're status isn't clarified until game-time you would need an alternative option on either the Falcons, Saints or Dolphins in the event either was inactive.

Predictions: Brady slings it for 298 yards and touchdowns to Bolden, Julian Edelman and Aaron Dobson as the Pats rest Gronk and Amendola one more week. Ridley and Blount combine for 85 yards on the ground. Ryan passes for 246 yards and a score to Tony Gonzalez, as Snelling and Rodgers prove the difference with 162 yards between them and rushing TD for Snelling. Falcons 26-24.

Miami (+6.5) @ New Orleans, Monday 8:30 p.m.

Comments:
The only battle of the unbeaten gets a primetime slot to showcase the up-and-coming youngster Dolphins invading the home of the old-hat, cagey Saints. But New Orleans has some new tricks with a Rob Ryan defense that's flying all over the field looking to create chaos. The key to this game may well be how Ryan Tannehill responds to that defense - especially if he continues to be sacked at a higher rate than any QB in the league (14 through three games). Offensively, we know just what New Orleans will do: pretend they want to run the ball for a minute or two, fail at that pretty miserably (Drew Brees has their only ground score) and then unleash Brees' arm on an all-too-suspecting defense that's incapable of stopping it. A dominant Jimmy Graham, steady Marques Colston and slippery Darren Sproles remain - along with Brees of course - the only real fantasy options in town until further notice... Lamar Miler hasn't carried the ball more than 14 times in a game yet, but this could be the time to start feeding the explosive speedster. New Orleans has been relenting 5.3 YPC, the second-most in the league, and Miami could sure use a consistent ground game in this matchup to keep Brees' arm off the field. So it's Miller time. Potentially. Any type of two-score deficit will likely end happy hour early and result in plenty of Tannehill dropbacks. When he's not been getting sacked, the second-year signal caller has been pretty smart with the ball, so if he makes quick reads and takes what the defense gives him an upset could be on hand,

Predictions: Pierre Thomas and Sproles tally 92 total yards with the mighty mite finding the end zone. Brees passes for 344 yards and touchdowns to Graham and Lance Moore. Tannehill hits Mike Wallace and Charles Clay for TD's in a 255-yard display, while Miller dashes for 101 yards and a score. Saints 27-24 in OT.