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Weekly Matchups: Strong Plays, Weak Plays Week 14

Kyle Fisher

Kyle Fisher writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.


Carson Palmer vs. GB

Palmer has performed fairly well since joining the Raiders in Week 7. Since Week 9, he has scored at least 15 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues in all but one game, and his averages have put him in the company of quarterbacks likes Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers and pre-injury Matt Schaub. Palmer should have some fantasy value this week in his matchup against the Packers. The Packers have given up the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and have allowed multiple touchdowns and more than 300 yards in three of their last five games. Palmer might have a few interceptions this weekend but should be a nice overall play.

Ryan Mathews vs. BUF

The darling of fantasy drafts last season might have finally put it together. Mathews has broken 100 yards in each of his last two games and has a very favorable matchup this week versus the Bills. The Bills have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs and have been especially bad lately. The Bills have averaged 24 fantasy points allowed to running backs in the last five weeks. That average would make them the worst fantasy rushing defense in the league over a full season. Look for Mathews to have another big day as his owners might finally be seeing the payoffs that were so hyped last season.

Rashard Mendenhall vs. CLE

This has been far from a banner season for Mendenhall, who hasn't broken 100 yards since Week 6. Still, he has scored five touchdowns in his last four games and has the matchup this week against the Browns that might finally get him over the 100-yard plateau. The Browns have surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this season and are coming off a 292-yard, two-touchdown performance at the hands of the Ravens. Look for Mendenhall to be big this week as the Steelers ground game gets going.

Santana Moss vs. NE

Moss is having his worst season since 2002 but was targeted 12 times last week in a loss to the Jets and should benefit from the suspension of tight end Fred Davis. The difference is Moss should be able to do a lot more with his targets this week than he did against the tough Jets pass defense. The Patriots have given up the most points to fantasy wide receivers this season, and with New England's offense in high gear, expect a lot of passing by the Redskin as they try to keep up. That should bode well for Moss, who could have his best game of the season this week.

Pittsburgh DEF vs. CLE

While the Steelers seem an obvious choice each week, the numbers suggest you might have been better off having them on the bench much of the season. In standard scoring leagues, the Steelers rank only 13th in total fantasy points behind such fantasy unknowns as the Texans, Broncos and Bengals. This week, the Steel Curtain should be in full effect in an excellent matchup with Cleveland. The Browns have broken 20 points just twice all season and have allowed an average of three sacks per game the last seven weeks. Look for the Steelers to be an elite defense this week as the Browns will struggle again.


Ben Roethlisberger vs. CLE

Roethlisberger ranks just 12th in average fantasy points among quarterbacks and likely won't improve on those numbers this week. While the Browns are bad against the run, they have one of the better pass defenses in the league. The Browns have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks all season and have allowed only three touchdown passes in the last eight weeks. Depending on your depth, Roethlisberger might actually need to be on your bench during this crucial week.

Willis McGahee vs. CHI

McGahee took advantage of two very favorable matchups in the Chargers and Vikings and has been one of the better waiver-wire pickups this season. This week, though, should be tough for McGahee as he faces the Bears. The Bears have allowed the sixth-fewest points to running backs this season and have allowed just 55.3 yards a game to running backs in the last seven weeks. Look for McGahee to be very limited this week as the Broncos continue their improbable push to the playoffs.

Cedric Benson vs. HOU

Benson is the perfect player for matchup articles as he always seems to be on the cusp of starting or sitting every week. Benson is 20th in average fantasy scoring for running backs with at least 100 carries this season and has a matchup this week that suggests that number will drop. The Texans are the third-toughest fantasy rushing defense, allowing an average of just 63.5 yards per game to running backs in the last six weeks. With a good matchup next week, look for Benson to be back in his owners good graces in Week 15.

Dwayne Bowe vs. NYJ

Bowe hasn't gotten in the endzone like he did last season as he has just four touchdowns and hasn't scored since Week 5. Bowe continues to be frequently targeted, ranking fourth in the league with 109 targets, but averages fewer than eight yards per target. Look for the tough times to continue this week as he faces Darrelle Revis and the Jets. The Jets rank as the third toughest fantasy defense for wide receivers, and with Bowe being the unquestioned No. 1 option, expect a lot of Revis Island this week.

Owen Daniels vs. CIN

Daniels was a prime breakout candidate at the beginning of the season but the injury to Matt Schaub has really curtailed his upward swing. Daniels hasn't broken 32 yards since Week 8 and has a very tough matchup this week against the Bengals. The Bengals are the fourth-toughest defense against tight ends and have only give up one touchdown since Week 1. Expect another tough week for a player that began the season with so much promise.