Evan Silva


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Matchups: Here's Johnny

Thursday, October 14, 2010

4:15PM ET Game

Dallas @ Minnesota

Felix Jones may not be in on the first snap of the game, but he's assumed lead back duties in Dallas by a clear margin. Jones' 19 touches in Week 5 (compared to "starter" Marion Barber's six) were the most by a Cowboy back in any game this season. He also entered on the second snap of the contest, playing the majority of early downs while Barber concentrated on passing-down work. The arrow is pointing up for Jones. He'll be an excellent buy low if the Vikings' top-nine run defense holds him in check. He has one of the more favorable running back schedules in the league, especially for the fantasy playoffs (@ IND, vs. PHI, vs. WAS, @ ARZ). ... Jason Witten is catching fire with an average of six catches for 64 yards per game in his last three. He'll continue to take on a prominent role with Dez Bryant (ankle) at significantly less than 100 percent.

Bryant has all the talent in the world, but so far he's unable to stay healthy. He also hasn't found the end zone as a receiver. Bench him until he breaks out. ... Roy Williams is benefiting from constant single teams and Bryant's inability to play a full snap count. Williams has three TDs and an average of six catches for 102 yards in his last two games. He definitely won't keep it up, but is at least worth WR3 consideration until Bryant overcomes the injury bug. ... You know a receiver is one of the best in football when he beats double coverage. Coming off a nine-catch, 166-yard, one-score effort in which he played the entire game with a safety over the top, Miles Austin is a top-three NFL wideout. ... The Vikings lost RCB Cedric Griffin for the year last week, and will replace him with Lito Sheppard. Tony Romo has five touchdowns in his last two games.

The media has made the story of Brett Favre (elbow) potentially missing his first career start a much bigger deal than it is. There's a reason the Vikings scaled back his reps this week, and it's not because they're counting on him missing games. He's resting the elbow to play. Favre threw for three touchdowns and 264 yards in his first game with Randy Moss, against the Jets' league-best pass defense and despite an awful first three quarters. He's an every-week starter from here on out. ... Moss, the No. 15 fantasy receiver through five weeks, may actually do more to help Percy Harvin's cause than his own in Minnesota. Harvin was the most dangerous player on the field last Monday night, and gets to play much more often in his natural slot position with Moss out wide.

The Cowboys' defense is good all around, but they're most leaky on the ground. Dallas' 4.5 yards-per-carry average allowed is the seventh highest in football, and observers of Vikings-Jets may have noticed big holes in New York's defense on numerous Adrian Peterson runs. It's the Moss effect. A.P. ripped off 5.7 yards per touch and 4.9 yards per carry against a Jets defense that surrenders 3.07 YPC to everyone else. ... It appears Visanthe Shiancoe will be most adversely affected by the Moss move. A hamstring injury isn't helping, but Shiancoe took a big backseat to Moss and Harvin, catching two passes for 28 yards. Wait for something substantial before using Shiancoe again. ... Bernard Berrian played 12 snaps in Week 5. He wasn't targeted once.

Sunday Night Football

Indianapolis @ Washington

The Chiefs slowed Peyton Manning in Week 5 with constant nickel and dime packages. It's not in aggressive Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to employ such tactics, so expect more blitzing than five- and six-man fronts. Manning should go deep plenty. ... Behind Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon is the Colts' top vertical threat. Finally healthy and playing a full complement of snaps (92.4 percent of the downs last week), Garcon is a recommended WR2 at FedEx Field. ... Austin Collie did labor through Week 5 due to a foot injury, but played 54-of-79 snaps. Collie practiced more this week than last, indicating that he's getting healthier and will see even more playing time Sunday. Washington ranks 30th in pass defense. Their secondary isn't that bad, but teams are attacking them in the air. The Colts lead the NFL in pass attempts and will follow suit.

Dallas Clark returns from a 20-yard game in which Kansas City used brackets to make him a non-factor. A rare drop didn't help Clark, but he's still a top-five fantasy tight end. You use him every week. ... Like Collie (foot) and Garcon (hamstring), Joseph Addai (shoulder) is "questionable" on the injury report but practiced fully Friday and will start against the Skins. Particularly with Donald Brown (hamstring) expected to be inactive, Addai is a weekly threat for 20-plus touches and all goal-line work. Shoot, he handled the ball 22 times last week despite leaving in the third quarter due to shoulder soreness. On pace for a career-high 57 receptions, Addai is an every-week RB2 regardless of format.

This game sets up as a potential shootout. Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan have turned Santana Moss from one of the least consistent commodities in fantasy football into a top-14 receiver who's caught fewer than six passes in one game all year. Look for Moss' second TD of 2010 against an Indianapolis pass defense that hasn't come close to its usual standards. Two of the Colts' top three safeties are either done for the year (Melvin Bullitt) or until December (Bob Sanders), and nickel back Jacob Lacey is questionable-to-doubtful with a foot injury. ... Tight ends traditionally have success against Indianapolis' Cover 2. Losing next to nothing to Fred Davis (four catches, three targets on the season), Chris Cooley should exploit a defense that allowed a Marcedes Lewis touchdown in Week 4 and Tony Moeaki to lead the Chiefs in receiving in Week 5.

Boding well for Ryan Torain is his effectiveness in the passing game. Torain caught four passes last week and protected well. He won't be a difference-making rusher after so many surgeries sapped his burst, but every-down backs are hard to find, and Torain qualifies. Keiland Williams is only a situational passing-down back. Consider Torain a low-end RB2 with touchdown potential against Indianapolis' 29th-ranked run defense. The Colts' front seven is extremely leaky, serving up 4.8 yards a carry and a rushing score per game. ... Anthony Armstrong is an interesting prospect. He can fly, which is what Shanahan is looking for in a bookend for Moss. Armstrong is still rotating with nominal starter Joey Galloway, but McNabb has made fantasy options out of much worse receivers in his career (e.g. Freddie Mitchell, Todd Pinkston, Reggie Brown).

Monday Night Football

Tennessee @ Jacksonville

Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging 3.98 YPC despite having faced just one team that ranks better than 24th in run defense. Last week at Buffalo, MJD (19-84) was even out-produced by debuting rookie Deji Karim (15-70) on a per-carry basis. Making matters worse for Jones-Drew is Jacksonville's inability to create lanes. According to Pro Football Focus, Jags RG Uche Nwaneri ranks 57th out of 72 qualifying guards in run blocking, while LG Justin Smiley is 44th. C Brad Meester has held his own, but to jump-start the running game the Jags might have to increase Karim's role. With 4.37 speed and superior initial burst, Karim is a better bet to reach the perimeter than Jones-Drew at this point. Monday night's matchup is difficult against Tennessee's No. 11 run defense. The Titans have allowed one rushing score in five games and surrender a modest 4.2 yards per carry.

Mike Sims-Walker's problem isn't that he's in the doghouse. He's just not being treated like a No. 1 receiver. Possession wideout Mike Thomas leads the Jags in targets and yards, and Marcedes Lewis in touchdowns. Sims-Walker will continue to be a hit-or-miss option going forward, though Monday's date with Cortland Finnegan is enticing. Finnegan was burned over and over by Miles Austin in Week 5. ... With back-to-back legitimately good games, David Garrard has returned to strong QB2 status. He's currently No. 8 in fantasy points at the position, and Tennessee has plummeted to 27th in the pass defense rankings. The best news for Garrard is his improved protection. Second-year OTs Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton are looking like dead-on hits for GM Gene Smith. ... Lewis is piling up touchdowns while averaging 38.4 yards per game. I prefer tight ends with more upside. The scoring pace definitely won't keep up.

The Jaguars' defense is a long bomb waiting to happen. Jacksonville has served up the most 20-plus yard completions in football, including an incredible eight that have gone for 40 or longer. The Titans are a run-heavy team in nature, but Kenny Britt needs to stay in lineups as a WR3 with upside. Having scored a touchdown in three straight games, Britt now faces off with a Jags team that also leads the NFL in passing scores allowed. It's a big-time mismatch on paper, with Britt as the favorite. ... Nate Washington has clearly been unseated by Britt as the Titans' No. 1 receiver, Washington falls to desperation WR3 play going forward. ... Justin Gage (hamstring) won't play.

Just when it looked like Chris Johnson was really struggling, be broke out for 132 yards and two touchdowns last week against Dallas. Johnson ranks second to only Antonio Gates in TDs accounted for, and Jacksonville gives up the second most rushing scores in the league. CJ2K had 239 yards and two touchdowns in his last date with the Jags. ... Vince Young is running less this season (his year high is 30 rushing yards) while averaging 19.2 pass attempts for 137 yards per game. The matchup is right, but you're counting almost entirely on Young throwing for multiple scores to use him as a fantasy starter. For this reason, he's just barely a top-12 QB play.

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

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