Evan Silva

Matchups

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D-Will will get the pill

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Darren McFadden was a bust (and got hurt) despite an ideal on-paper matchup in Week 4. However, we hit it right on Matt Forte, Nate Burleson, Mike Sims-Walker, and LaDainian Tomlinson. Let's build on that momentum and get straight to Week 5.

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1:00PM ET Games

Cincinnati @ Baltimore

Coming off his least productive week of '09, Cedric Benson is headed for a long stretch of difficult matchups. In their next five games, the Bengals face Baltimore twice, Pittsburgh, and Chicago with Houston mixed in. The Ravens lead the NFL in run defense and are surrendering a league-low 2.6 yards per carry. Cincinnati will have to pass to move the football...That's asking a lot of Carson Palmer, but he's accounted for seven touchdowns in his last three games and Baltimore's secondary is beatable. Ranked 23rd against the pass, the Ravens continue to give up big plays (15 of 20+ yards; third most in the league) and their 7.8 YPA allowed is third worst in the AFC.

The Bengals nearly fell to a surprisingly inspired Browns team in Week 4, and stay on the road Sunday. It's time for coordinator Bob Bratkowski to involve Chris Henry heavily. The 6'4" wideout is a mismatch for Baltimore's small corners, and Henry has long fared well against the Ravens (248 yards, two TDs on 12 catches in four career meetings)...Re-implementing Henry, however, would cut into Laveranues Coles and slot man Andre Caldwell's targets...The No. 6 overall fantasy receiver through four weeks, Chad Ochocinco will benefit from Baltimore's susceptibility to long passing plays and what projects to be a throw-heavy game plan from Bratkowski.

Cincinnati doesn't use Leon Hall as a "shadow" corner, instead keeping him on the right side of the formation. That means Hall will mostly go against Ravens LWR Mark Clayton. Avoid Clayton, while red-hot Derrick Mason (six-catch, 103-yard, one-TD average since Week 2) is a must-start against risk-taking LCB Johnathan Joseph...With coverage liability Roy Williams at strong safety, the Bengals have allowed opposing tight ends to average 7 catches for 62 yards per game in the first four weeks. Todd Heap lacks a monster upside, but is a strong bye-week replacement.

The Bengals have yielded just four passing TDs so far, but that will catch up to them. Their pass defense ranks 26th overall, no team is surrendering more big plays through the air, and Baltimore has good enough offensive tackles to contain NFL sacks leader Antwan Odom, whether or not LT Jared Gaither (neck) plays. Stick with Joe Flacco...Willis McGahee still gets the red-zone work, but Ray Rice is a top-12 fantasy back in non-PPR leagues through four weeks. They're worth starting together at this point. Rice has a clear upper hand in terms of both yardage and touches.

Minnesota @ St. Louis

The Rams enter Week 5 with no pass rush and a battered secondary. SS James Butler will miss another game with a knee sprain, his replacement Craig Dahl has a concussion, and top CB Ronald Bartell (quads) isn't close to 100%. While he'll surely take a run-first approach, coach Brad Childress is giving Brett Favre plenty of leeway (35 throws per week since the opener) and he's responded with seven TDs in his last three games. The Vikings will not struggle to move the football, giving Favre the opportunity to throw for more scores. More two-tight end sets and power formations would affect slot receiver Percy Harvin's target total, but don't hesitate to use Favre as a bye-week QB1.

Bernard Berrian landed on some fantasy waiver wires after his catch-less opener, but a slow start should've been expected. He missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury and his QB didn't report until mid-August, causing obvious chemistry problems with the timing-reliant deep threat. Berrian, however, has increased his yardage output each week since (46, 56, 75) and hooked up with Favre 16 times in his last three games, including once for a score on Monday night. Favre has plenty of arm strength remaining, and Berrian is a top-20 option in this matchup.

Steven Jackson's 24 touch-per-game average is saving his value as St. Louis adjusts to musical chairs at QB and being minus top wideout Laurent Robinson. Owners may be disappointed in Jackson's lack of touchdowns, but the all-purpose stud is playing quite well and ranks 16th overall among non-PPR backs. Expect a slew of swing passes and dump-offs for Jackson on Sunday as St. Louis tries to avoid the Vikings' immovable interior. The "box" will be stacked, for sure, but Jackson has exhibited the ability to generate considerable yardage no matter the situation.

Rams receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton are both battling sore hamstrings and do not resemble fantasy options against Minnesota's No. 12 pass defense with Kyle Boller under center. The Vikes also lead the NFL in sacks (16). Avery will spend most of his time against Pro Bowl CB Antoine Winfield, while Burton draws RCB Cedric Griffin. Neither is likely to top 50 yards...If you are searching for a sleeper TE, Randy McMichael is worth a look. Minnesota has given up a per-game average of eight catches for 95 yards and a touchdown to opposing tight ends so far, with Robert Royal, Jermichael Finley, and Vernon Davis (twice) all finding the end zone against them.

Tampa Bay @ Philadelphia

Philadelphia comes off its bye with Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb healthy. They're both must-starts against Tampa's No. 31 overall defense. Clearly, Bucs coordinator Jim Bates has lost his touch...Talk of an even timeshare with rookie LeSean McCoy shouldn't scare Westbrook owners, at least for two more weeks. The Bucs are 30th against the run, while Week 6 opponent Oakland is 26th. Sell Westbrook high after that...Only Tennessee and Detroit have given up more passing touchdowns than Tampa Bay. McNabb isn't losing his job to Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick.

FS Tanard Jackson's (suspension) return will boost Tampa's backend, but not necessarily right away. Jackson didn't practice during his time off, needs to get in playing shape, and may have communication issues with SS Sabby Piscitelli for the next few games. Start Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson with oozing confidence...The arrow is pointing down on Kevin Curtis, however. While Jeremy Maclin isn't a threat to his starting job yet, Curtis' health problems have lingered and appear to have cost him explosiveness. A Maclin-Curtis rotation is possible the rest of the way.

Antonio Bryant's 44-yard, one-touchdown effort in Josh Johnson's starting debut was somewhat promising, but realize that's his ceiling going forward. Johnson averaged a putrid 4.8 yards per attempt and preferred dumping off to going downfield. Bryant and Michael Clayton are purely outside-the-numbers receivers in coordinator Greg Olson's scheme. Kellen Winslow had just 21 yards on two catches last week, but the Pro Bowl tight end remains the best bet for production among Bucs pass catchers until Johnson gets aggressive in the vertical passing game.

Carnell Williams put his lingering knee soreness aside in Week 4 to total a surprising 99 yards on 20 touches. That came against an underachieving Washington run defense, though, and the Eagles have been much more stout with a 3.6 YPC average against (eighth in the NFL) to the Redskins' 4.3 (20th). Olson promises to use Williams more going forward, even with Derrick Ward (knee) coming back, but that's more likely to get Cadillac injured than spark the Bucs' going-nowhere offense.


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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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