Bill Barnwell


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Redskin Rebound?

Friday, November 02, 2007

It's a sad week for fantasy offenses -- both Miami and St. Louis have bye weeks, meaning that two of the weakest defenses in football are left on the sidelines licking their wounds and celebrating the only weekend all fall they'll have any prayer of not allowing any points.

Fortunately, we still have the Jets to pick on.


Our matchups column starts in Washington, where Jason Campbell gets to play the worst pass defense in football, the Jets. When we say the Jets are the worst pass defense in football, it's not by a particularly small margin, either -- the difference between the Jets and the next team (Cleveland) is further than the distance between Cleveland at 31 and the Vikings at 25. This is a terrible pass defense, and while bringing in rookie LB David Harris will improve their awful rush defense, he can be expected to struggle in pass coverage. Either way, Campbell's a great start this week.

Speaking of the Browns, they'll be facing Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks on Sunday in a game that's likely to end up a shootout. Hasselbeck's a must-start this week.

If you were thinking of starting any of the Carolina quarterbacks this week, don't. They're up against the top-ranked pass defense of the Titans. Much like the Jets, the Titans have a gap between them and #2 -- the second-ranked Patriots are closer to seventh-ranked Kansas City than first.

The Patriots and Colts are ranked two and three in pass defense. I suspect that, after this week, those numbers will not be the same.

Washington is #4, which means that Kellen Clemens is a poor play on Sunday. In this year's Pro Football Prospectus, I wrote that the Clemens era might be closer than anyone expected -- figuring that Chad Pennington would get hurt, not benched for "poor play". If his lack of arm strength somehow causes David Barrett to not be able to cover anyone, then Pennington's to blame, but otherwise, he represents an excellent target to acquire in keeper leagues. He'll be a starter somewhere next year, and in the right offense (Minnesota if they add a receiver, for one), he'd be an excellent quarterback.

Running Back

The #1 Vikings go up against LaDainian Tomlinson this week. Does that mean you should bench Tomlinson? No. He gets the ball too frequently, especially close to the end zone, for him to be a benchable player. Don't expect big things, though -- a line similar to Brian Westbrook's from last week is about all you should expect.

In four games against the Ravens as a starter, Willie Parker has rushed, on average, for a shade over 43 yards per game. He has one touchdown in those four games. If you feel the need to play Willie Parker because he's led your team to the division lead, well, go right ahead. But don't say I didn't warn you.

On the other hand, Pittsburgh's rush defense is third-ranked, so don't think too many nice things about Willis McGahee, either. Expect a similar-quality day out of McGahee.

We pretty much nailed LenDale White's performance last week, and while most places referred to it as a coming-out party for White, it was about 85% the Oakland defense. This week's beneficiary is...someone on Houston. We're just not sure who. Could it be Ahman Green? Ron Dayne? Adimchinobi Echimandu? Whoever starts is going to pick up chunks of yardage against a defense selling out against the pass and flailing against the run.

Denver's rush defense made the Packers' rushing attack look great last week, a hard task for most teams. After losing Jarvis Moss at practice for the rest of the season, their line got even weaker. Opening up a spot for Simeon Rice is a bad thing for this rush defense, not a good one. Kevin Jones will have his second consecutive 100-yard game.

Wide Receiver

Go ahead and start your Washington receivers. Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El are definite plays this week.

Likewise, get your Seahawks receivers in there. That means Bobby Engram, the definitely-returning D.J. Hackett, and even Nate Burleson in deep leagues.

Keep the Panthers out of your lineup, unless they're Steve Smith, who will see his catches, but not often enough to make him a must-start.

The one bright spot in a dire 49ers season has been their performance (4th) against the other team's wide receivers, which means that Roddy White is probably in for a mediocre game. Of course, he's a Falcon, so mediocrity might be an improvement on how things are going at this point.

San Diego's wideouts are excellent plays against a struggling Minnesota pass defense. While Chris Chambers might not be ready yet, he's worth a shot for his touchdown potential in deeper leagues; Vincent Jackson is finally worth a chance this week.

Tight End

Sit: Jeff King (CAR), Owen Daniels (HOU), Reggie Kelly (CIN)
Start: Vernon Davis (SF), Donald Lee (GB), Robert Royal (BUF)

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