Evan Silva

Last Minute Decisions

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Cards Not Taking Chances

Saturday, December 20, 2008




Week 16 Matchups to Exploit

Lance Moore @ Lions
Time: 1:00ET


Moore's fantasy stock took a significant hit when Reggie Bush returned from his initial knee injury in Week 13. Moore dominated while Bush was out, going for 383 yards and five touchdowns on 25 catches between Weeks 8 and 12. Now that Bush's season is over, Moore is likely to rebound in a major way. He plays in the slot and will have no competition for targets at that position. Only helping Moore's cause this week are two factors; 1) the game is played inside at Ford Field, and 2) the only thing New Orleans has left to play for is Drew Brees eclipsing Dan Marino's mark for the most passing yards in a season. Brees needs to average 378 in each of his last two games to do it. Though the Saints could theoretically run it down Detroit's throat all day, coach Sean Payton is more likely to take a pass-heavy approach. The Lions' pass defense is the worst in the league, lost starting free safety Dwight Smith to a broken ankle in Week 15, and will likely be ripped apart by Brees on Sunday. Moore will be just one of the many beneficiaries.

Isaac Bruce @ Rams
Time: 1:00ET


As noted in Saturday's morning news, Bruce is six catches short of 1,000 for his career and needs 60 yards to pass Tim Brown for second place on the all-time receiving list. Coordinator Mike Martz realizes the significance of Sunday's game for Bruce, and as a fellow St. Louis transplant is sure to call plays Rev. Ike's way early and often. With Frank Gore (ankle) uncertain to play, look for Bruce to be the 49ers' featured player on offense. It doesn't hurt that the Rams are playing musical chairs in the secondary, replacing SS Corey Chavous with special teamer Todd Johnson, and could have communication problems in the back end. St. Louis is easy to beat with the pass, the game is indoors, and Bruce will be getting the football a lot. He's a shoe-in WR3 and strong flex play in the matchup. Martz won't take it easy on the Rams.

Antonio Gates @ Bucs
Time: 1:00ET


Gates had been having a slow go of it lately, but bounced back with seven grabs for 78 yards in Week 15 against Kansas City. He's likely to stay strong at Tampa Bay. With Malcom Floyd shut down for the week due to a collapsed lung, the Chargers have 4-5 extra targets to spread around. Many of Floyd's looks came in the red zone, which is where Gates is at his best. He's also looking for records. Gates can become the fastest tight end in history to reach 50 touchdowns with a score this week. He's been stuck on 49 career TDs for five weeks. Gates is also 28 receiving yards short of 5,000 and can become the second fastest tight end to reach that number, behind only the original Kellen Winslow. The weather in Tampa will be favorable for passing, San Diego still has an outside chance to win the AFC West, and Gates has a lot to play for.

Brandon Jacobs vs. Panthers
Time: 8:15ET


Jacobs is listed as questionable on the injury report, but he will start against Carolina in a battle of potential NFC No. 1 playoff seeds. The Panthers are expected to be minus top run-stuffer Maake Kemoeatu (ankle). This is a significant loss for a rush defense that is already struggling. Kemoeatu (6'5/350) was the reason Carolina felt comfortable trading All-Pro NT Kris Jenkins to the Jets in the offseason. The Panthers get very small up front without Kemo, likely having to use starting LE Tyler Brayton inside and usual nickel rusher Charles Johnson as an every-down player. That all makes Jacobs' matchup highly favorable. Confidently have Jacobs in your fantasy lineup for Sunday Night Football and expect 20 touches. For The Train, that usually translates to a touchdown or two.

Week 16 Matchups to Avoid

Jason Witten vs. Ravens
Time: Saturday 8:15ET


The Cowboys have their important passing-game pieces intact with Roy Williams' foot improving, situational deep threat Miles Austin back from his knee injury, and turmoil in the locker room put on the back burner. What they don't have is a legitimate answer for Baltimore RE/ROLB Terrell Suggs. Dallas realizes that LT Flozell Adams is vulnerable to speedy edge rushers and will need help to offset the Ravens' franchise player, who has a sack in each of his last three games. Martellus Bennett could be put on the line to help Adams, but that's unlikely because Bennett isn't a polished blocker. With the running game highly unlikely to be effective Saturday night, look for the Cowboys to run a spread with Williams, Patrick Crayton, and Terrell Owens split out in three receiver sets and Witten to stay at home as an in-line tight end and sixth lineman. Witten is always difficult to sit in fantasy leagues, but it could be hard for him to top 50 yards in this one.

Chris Johnson vs. Steelers
Time: 1:00ET


It's easy to bet on the Steelers shutting down running backs, but with word that the Titans may "limit" Johnson's usage because the AFC South is already in hand, the rookie would be difficult to rely on in fantasy championships. Johnson is in his first year, already has nearly 300 touches under his belt, and the Titans want to ensure that he doesn't hit a rookie wall before the important games start. Johnson only got 13 carries last week and has been bottled up by the NFL's top defenses before (61 yards vs. MIN in Week 4, 44 yards @ BAL in Week 5, 8 yards @ CHI in Week 10, 46 yards vs. NYJ in Week 12). Johnson may only get 8-10 touches on Sunday and is a risky play in all leagues.

Reply Absolutely Not to the Following Questions

> Will the Lions win this week?

> Is PT Cruiser a cool nickname for Pierre Thomas?

> Does anyone have a prayer against Heath Ledger for Best Actor this year after his role in Dark Knight?


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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