Evan Silva

Matchups

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Matchups: Avant to Help You

Friday, December 04, 2009


Everyone should know about Darrelle Revis now. After holding Carolina's Steve Smith to one catch for five yards, picking off two passes, and returning one 67 yards for a touchdown in Week 12, Revis followed up Thursday night with another pick and stifling of a No. 1 receiver. He held Terrell Owens to 31 yards, keeping the previously red-hot Bills wideout in front of him on each of T.O.'s three receptions.

Afterwards, NFL Network's Deion Sanders -- who knows a little something about shutdown corners -- called Revis the best cover man in the league and said he should be an unanimous All Pro along with Green Bay's Charles Woodson. Luckily for the rest of the NFL's pass catchers and throwers, Revis' Week 13 is over.

On to the matchups...

1:00PM ET Games

Philadelphia @ Atlanta

Chris Redman makes his first start since 2007 with Matt Ryan (toe) out indefinitely. Redman performed admirably in relief last week, completing 23-of-41 passes for 243 yards and two TDs, but isn't facing Tampa anymore. Sixth in the NFL in sacks, the Eagles trot out a defense that ranks No. 9 against the pass and No. 3 in interceptions. While Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez are every-week starters (each saw 12+ targets despite Ryan's first-quarter injury last week), Redman is barely a two-QB league option. Expect the usual heavy blitzing from Eagles defensive playcaller Sean McDermott.

Michael Turner hasn't been ruled out, but is doubtful to play on an aggravated high ankle sprain. He was limping badly even before reinjuring it last week and clearly shouldn't have played. Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood rotated evenly after Turner was ruled out of last week's game; both had six yards on three touches following the third-quarter injury, with Snelling losing a fumble. This has the look of an even timeshare against a Philadelphia defense that ranks No. 8 against the run and surrenders under four yards per carry. Avoid Falcons backs in Week 13 if possible.

Coming off a near loss to 3-8 Washington, Philly is likely to rebound. The loss of DeSean Jackson stings, but there isn't an area of Atlanta's defense the Eagles will struggle to attack. The Falcons rank 27th against the pass and 23rd against the run, and have surrendered the most 20+ yards completions in the league. Donovan McNabb is a top-five QB play at the Georgia Dome...Already emerging as a serious red-zone threat, Jason Avant is a good bet to lead Philly in catches. He'll be an every-down receiver, and was seeing just as many targets as Jeremy Maclin in his previous sub-package role...Even Reggie Brown, who will see spot duty at flanker, is worth a WR3 look.

With Westbrook still out, the Eagles used LeSean McCoy (21 touches) as their feature back last week, Leonard Weaver (7 touches) as a 242-pound changeup, and Eldra Buckley at the goal line. Buckley's insertion in scoring position was odd considering he's 5'9/207, and may not stick. He was stymied twice before executing on his third try from a yard out. Either way, McCoy is a safe bet for 100+ yards in this favorable matchup...Despite a drop-filled Week 12, Brent Celek should stay in fantasy lineups. The Eagles showed no concern about his injured hand this week, declaring he would definitely play at Atlanta and signing him to a $33 million extension Tuesday.

Tampa Bay @ Carolina

Weather at Bank of America Stadium (mid-40s temps, light wind, 10% chance of rain) won't be a factor, but this matchup doesn't stack up well for passing. The QBs have seven career starts between them, and the Panthers will ask Matt Moore to "manage" the game as he replaces Jake Delhomme...Steve Smith's ceiling is not only capped by Moore's likely low pass attempts total, but by a matchup with Bucs shutdown CB Aqib Talib. In Tampa's Week 5 meeting with Carolina, Talib shadowed Smith all over the field and held him to one catch for four yards. Note: Keep an eye on Talib's hamstring injury. If he's out, Smith becomes a rock-solid WR2.

Clearly not a fantasy option, Muhsin Muhammad is back on the injury report with more knee woes, and his backup, Dwayne Jarrett, has a sprained ankle. It's hard to imagine Moore topping 175 yards...This is all excellent news for Carolina's running game. Ranked 30th overall, the Bucs' rush defense has shown no improvement since DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for an earth-shattering 282 yards and three TDs on 49 touches against them earlier this season. Williams, whose ankle tweak won't keep him out, is a top-ten RB1. Stewart is a must-start FLEX.

Unlike the Panthers, the Bucs let their passer get aggressive. Quietly emerging as one of the NFL's most impressive rookies, Josh Freeman has averaged 31 attempts in his four starts and is coming off a 250-yard, two-touchdown, turnover-free outing. Unfortunately, Carolina has the No. 3 pass defense in the league. Freeman is a mere low-end QB2 this Sunday...Kellen Winslow remains an every-week starter. Coming off a seven-catch, 81-yard game, the No. 6 fantasy TE has a team-high 32 targets in the last three weeks. The next closest Buc (Antonio Bryant) has 10.

While Bryant confirmed that he is over his knee woes with 91 yards and a TD last week, he ultimately caught only three balls, didn't start the game, and now will face off mostly with Panthers lockdown LCB Chris Gamble. He's barely a WR3...Maurice Stovall starts for Michael Clayton (MCL sprain), but isn't a fantasy option with a difficult matchup and Sammie Stroughter also vying for snaps...The Bucs never did reinstitute their three-headed RB monster last Sunday; Earnest Graham had two touches. Carnell Williams remains Tampa's lead back and the heavy favorite for red-zone work.

St. Louis @ Chicago

In terms of sheer on-paper talent, this game is a severe mismatch favoring Chicago. Which Jay Cutler shows up is anyone's guess, but he offers upside. While the Soldier Field forecast calls for sub-40 degree temperatures, 10MPH winds and a 10% chance of rain won't threaten passing. St. Louis is 22nd against the pass, and most importantly in Cutler's case, has picked off eight passes all year (seventh fewest in the league). While Cutler is always boom or bust, confidently use Greg Olsen and Devin Hester in this matchup. The Rams are porous against TEs and No. 1 receivers.

Matt Forte owners should enjoy a game against the No. 28 rush defense while it lasts. After this, Forte doesn't face a unit ranked lower than sixth against the run for the rest of the fantasy year...In their last three games, Earl Bennett has 11 catches for 98 yards and no scores compared to Johnny Knox's five grabs for 60 yards and one touchdown. Bennett starts and is the slightly better bet for a worthwhile game Sunday, but his fantasy ceiling is limited by the Bears' rotation at split end.

Steven Jackson (back) remains sore and is officially a game-time decision again, but he'll likely play. Allowing S-Jax to start last week on no practice confirms that the Rams aren't worried about him playing through pain. He'll take a pre-game numbing injection before facing a Bears defense that ranks 24th against the run and will be minus its top player on the front seven (Lance Briggs - knee)...Ideally, the Rams won't let Kyle Boller throw 46 passes again for the rest of the season, like he did in Week 12. He's barely a QB2 against Chicago's No. 14 secondary.

Brandon Gibson managed 18 yards with Boller replacing Marc Bulger (leg) in Week 12. In theory, Gibson has a favorable matchup against Bears RCB Zackary Bowman, but Boller's inaccuracy makes him extremely risky without much upside...It's also worth noting that Danny Amendola started over Gibson against Seattle. Amendola won't keep the job long term, but he did tie Donnie Avery with a team-high 11 targets. He's worth light consideration in deep PPR and return-yardage leagues...Avery, the Rams' No. 1 receiver, is only a WR3. It's just very difficult to rely on Boller.


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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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