Evan Silva


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Matchups: Donnie Ball is Back

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NY Giants @ New Orleans

Few wideouts are as boom-or-bust as Devery Henderson, in both real life and fantasy. But he always has the potential to go off, and his Week 6 matchup is swell on paper. With shutdown CB Corey Webster on Marques Colston and the Saints' ground game unlikely to be overly productive against a relentless Giants front seven, Henderson will spend most of his time against Terrell Thomas. Thomas, who many teams considered better fit to play safety coming out in the 2008 draft because of mediocre speed, doesn't have the wheels to stay with New Orleans' top deep threat.

Colston is a risk against Webster, as owners of Dwayne Bowe, Roy Williams, Antonio Bryant, and Santana Moss will attest...Use Jeremy Shockey against a Giants team that's allowed a tight end to be its opponent's leading receiver in each game since losing SS Kenny Phillips...Saints RBs should be avoided with a difficult matchup, Pierre Thomas batting a lingering hamstring injury, and Mike Bell recovered from his MCL sprain. It's anyone's guess as to which back will get the most carries...Drew Brees is always a must-start in the Superdome. Expect a pass-first game plan.

Eli Manning's foot injury will not threaten his availability, but a stingy Saints secondary keeps him as a low-end QB1. Only the Broncos and Colts have allowed fewer passing TDs (3), and no team has more picks (10). Still, he's hard to sit in the domed environment...Steve Smith is an every-week starter. His precision routes should give Saints rookie nickel back Malcolm Jenkins fits in the slot...Mario Manningham's value is on the down slope. Hakeem Nicks is simply a better all-around talent. This is a rotation, and both are more likely to help the Giants more than fantasy owners.

Brad Morgan was right to predict in his Red Zone Report that "Brandon Jacobs' touchdowns will come." Ahmad Bradshaw has been terrific, but Jacobs has received all but two of the Giants' goal-line carries this year and the coaching staff indicated this week that it will make a concerted effort to get Jacobs going. He's a strong bet for his second TD of the year in what figures to be a high-scoring game. The return of blocking TE Kevin Boss (ankle) will also help Jacobs' cause.

4:05PM ET Games

Arizona @ Seattle

Arizona's offseason moves (use of top draft pick on Chris Wells, passing of playcalling duty to ex-Steelers OC Ken Whisenhunt) pointed to a conversion from a pass-first offense to a balanced attack. The change hasn't been realized, as the Cards rank 11th in the league in pass attempts and 31st in carries. Whiz allows Kurt Warner to audible out of running plays whenever he sees an eight-man front, and Arizona is leading the NFC in passing offense. That's good news for Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and particularly the consistency of No. 3 wideout Steve Breaston.

Of course, it's terrible news for Wells. The 31st overall pick is averaging seven carries a game with no catches. He doesn't pick up blitzes well, or know the pass routes. Tim Hightower is this team's feature back going forward...60-degree temps, virtually no wind, and only a 30% chance of rain won't slow the Cardinals' up-tempo attack, and neither will Seattle's defense despite its Week 5 shutout of Mike Sims-Walker-less Jacksonville. The Seahawks are getting healthier with DE Patrick Kerney (groin) due back, but this has proven to be a mediocre unit even at full strength.

Seattle's No. 1 concern on either side of the ball remains at left tackle. They'll start '07 undrafted free agent Kyle Williams there in just his sixth NFL appearance. Williams, who was shuttled between the practice squad and active roster earlier this season, will square off with Cards ROLB Chike Okeafor. Luckily for Williams, the declining pass rusher is 33 and has one sack all year. Protection woes will catch up with Matt Hasselbeck, but probably not this week...Keep your Seahawks running backs benched. The Cardinals have the No. 1 run defense in the league.

Arizona can't stop the pass, though. Only six teams have fewer sacks, and the Cards' pass defense ranking has plummeted to 32nd in the NFL. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, coming off back-to-back big games, will see struggling LCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in primary coverage while Nate Burleson goes against RCB Bryant McFadden. The Seahawks play the Cowboys, Lions, and Cardinals again in their next three games, so their wideouts will be worth relying on in fantasy for awhile.

Philadelphia @ Oakland

There were three hot waiver pickups at wide receiver this week: Miles Austin, Donnie Avery, and Jeremy Maclin. My bet is that Maclin attains the most value the rest of the way, while Avery has the biggest Week 6. Maclin's matchup simply isn't any good. While he's certain to start with Kevin Curtis (knee) a probable inactive or backup at best, the former Mizzou Tiger will usually be on the left side of the offensive formation. That's Raiders RCB Nnamdi Asomugha's territory.

DeSean Jackson is the much stronger play as he looks to put his one-catch, one-yard Week 5 behind him. Raiders LCB Chris Johnson doesn't have speed to stay with Jackson, who Donovan McNabb already admitted he'll make a serious effort to re-involve...Oakland is weak down the seams with the strong early-season play of safeties Tyvon Branch, Hiram Eugene, and Michael Huff fading. Continue to use Brent Celek...A committee with LeSean McCoy is cause for long-term concern in Brian Westbrook's case, but not when he's facing Oakland's No. 31 run defense.

As mentioned last week, there's little to say about Oakland's passing offense. JaMarcus Russell isn't even an option in two-QB leagues, Louis Murphy is poised to lose snaps to Chaz Schilens (foot) and was already unproductive, and Darrius Heyward-Bey has caught two of 20 targets on the year. Zach Miller is the lone player worth fantasy consideration, but may block often Sunday. Despite the tragic passing of former DC Jim Johnson, the Eagles haven't stopped bringing heat. Rookie coordinator Sean McDermott's defense blitzes more than any team in the league.

Darren McFadden will miss another game, and the struggles of Oakland's rushing offense will continue. While it was determined that Michael Bush is the fill-in starter and will get goal-line carries (he scored from five yards out last week), he saw just 13 touches to Justin Fargas' 12. Until McFadden, LG Robert Gallery (fractured fibula), and RT Cornell Green (calf) return -- which won't be this week -- the Raiders will struggle to move the football on a weekly basis.

4:15PM ET Games

Buffalo @ NY Jets

At some point, it's on the quarterback. Trent Edwards' protection has been poor, but his play isn't any better. He's scared in the pocket, especially to go downfield, and can't sense the pass rush. In addition to a new coaching staff, the Bills will be looking for a QB after the season...The Jets will likely assign LCB Darrelle Revis to Terrell Owens while RCB Lito Sheppard will cover Lee Evans for most of the game. Sheppard hasn't played in a month due to a quadriceps strain. Evans is the best fantasy bet at receiver for Buffalo if you have the mental toughness to use him.

Miami made the Jets' run defense appear vulnerable on Monday Night Football, but Rex Ryan's unit will be back for vengeance. The Bills' soft, undersized offensive line simply doesn't match up well with Jets NT Kris Jenkins and company. Browns NT Shaun Rogers consistently rag-dolled Bills LG Andy Levitre and C Geoff Hangartner in Week 5. While Marshawn Lynch still finished with a solid week (125 total yards), he was most productive in the receiving game. Consider Lynch a FLEX play. Fred Jackson and his declining role make him a non-factor in this one.

The Meadowlands forecast calls for a 70% chance of showers and 18 MPH winds. While Braylon Edwards will be impossible to sit for the rest of 2009, his quarterback needs to be benched. Mark Sanchez is still the most impressive rookie skill player in the league, but the Jets will focus on the run game in this weather...Edwards will likely match up with Bills RCB Drayton Florence for most of Sunday. Florence, a zone corner, won't be able to run with Braylon...Dustin Keller surprisingly blocked for most of Week 5, but now faces a Bills team that is very poor in tight ends coverage.

Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) is very unlikely to play, thrusting "Mr. August" David Clowney onto the first team. Clowney has blinding speed, but isn't much of an option because his game is so dependent on timing. We'll guess six targets and two catches for 37 yards...The even Thomas Jones-Leon Washington timeshare continues. Jones has 76 touches on the year to Washington's 67. Jones has more fantasy value because he gets goal-line carries, but Washington is always a decent FLEX play in PPR leagues. He has 12 receptions to Jones' two.

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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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