Evan Silva


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Matchups: Benching Brady

Saturday, November 13, 2010

4:05PM ET Game

Kansas City @ Denver

A week after winning FedEx Ground Player of the Week with a league-high 238 total yards, Jamaal Charles was limited to 10 carries compared to Thomas Jones' 19 in Week 9 against Oakland. Coach Todd Haley attributed Charles' otherwise inexplicable diminished usage to a big hit that resulted in Charles banging his shoulder on the field. Charles returned, averaging 6.7 yards per touch compared to Jones' 1.68, so Kansas City almost certainly would've won the close game had running back roles been reversed. Look for Haley and OC Charlie Weis to make up for it this week. Charles isn't on the injury report, and in his last game against the Broncos reeled off 262 total yards and two touchdowns while averaging 10.36 yards per carry. This season, Denver has allowed the most rushing scores in football and permits 4.60 YPC.

Charles is the premier play in Kansas City's backfield, but Jones should still see 12-15 carries. Lacking big-play ability and a passing game role, however, Jones is a low-end flex play despite the favorable matchup. ... Champ Bailey had a Week 9 bye to shake off any lingering injuries from the season's first half. The Chiefs have no wide receiver threats outside of Dwayne Bowe, so he can safely expect to be shadowed by the Broncos' shutdown corner. ... The writing is on the wall for Weis and Haley's Week 10 game plan, as Denver is a top-eight team against the pass but 31st against the run. With expected temperatures in the 30s-40s at Invesco Field and snow in the weekend forecast (at least for Saturday), look for a run-heavy attack from the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense. Sit Matt Cassel ... Tony Moeaki came alive with nine targets, six catches for 63 yards, and a touchdown overturned on replay last week. The Broncos struggle against tight ends and the Chiefs are unlikely to get the ball to Bowe, making Moeaki at least worth a desperation look.

Chiefs-Broncos threatens to play out crazily because the teams are polar opposites. In theory, Kansas City should dominate possession time with its run game while Denver, as usual, has the most success when it goes to pass. Coach Josh McDaniels, however, was adamant this week to reporters that Knowshon Moreno could be his featured player in Week 10: "We'd like to get him going, you know what I mean. That's an important part for us coming off the first half of the year. We didn't get that phase of our team going." McDaniels, of course, was speaking of the Broncos' 32nd-ranked rushing offense. Healthier than ever after the Week 9 bye, Moreno may have to wait another week for his breakout game with the Chiefs ranked ninth against the run and allowing just 3.84 yards per carry. Moreno is still a very good bet for a strong finish to the season.

The Broncos remain a pass-first team. Only five QBs have more attempts than Kyle Orton, and only Philip Rivers has hit more big plays. Orton's 40 20-plus yard completions rank second in football, and his nine connections of 40-plus tie Rivers for the NFL lead. Keep starting Orton until he slows down. ... With his head start Thursday night, Roddy White temporarily overtook Brandon Lloyd for the NFL lead in receiving. Lloyd only needs 56 yards to re-pass White, and my guess is that he'll come close to doubling the margin. Lloyd does most of his damage down the left sideline, which matches him up with Brandon Carr. Carr is the weaker of Kansas City's corners. ... Slot man Eddie Royal and flanker Jabar Gaffney offer less upside this week. Royal hasn't topped 37 yards since Week 4. Gaffney will square off with shutdown LCB Brandon Flowers.

4:15PM ET Games

St. Louis @ San Francisco

With Troy Smith under center, the 49ers are targeting a ball-control offense. This involves slightly increased playing time for Anthony Dixon and Brian Westbrook, but Frank Gore remains the offensive centerpiece. In Smith's 49ers debut, the team compiled a 42:19 run-to-pass ratio with 11 of Smith's 19 attempts intended for running backs or tight ends. Gore is averaging 5.86 yards per carry in his last three games, and now faces off with a Rams team whose run defense ranking (No. 7 overall) is deceiving. St. Louis permits 4.27 YPC -- an average to below average number -- and is mixing and matching personnel. WLB Larry Grant has been supplanted in the starting lineup by Giants castoff Bryan Kehl. "In the box" SS James Butler (ankle) won't play Sunday.

Vernon Davis was injured early in Smith's first start, but is 100 percent after a Week 9 bye and figures to reemerge as the Niners' go-to receiver. Despite Davis' injury, 42 percent of Smith's targets so far have gone to tight ends. Davis' matchup also got a boost with Butler out. ... Michael Crabtree caught Smith's lone scoring pass prior to the off week on a 28-yard bomb over the top of Broncos CB Andre' Goodman. In the 49ers' new setup, it appears Crabtree will run more vertical routes with the heavily-utilized running game and dump-offs to tight ends setting up the long ball. Crabtree's value projects to suffer some in PPR leagues, but he'll be the best bet for big passing plays on San Francisco's roster. Crabtree has touchdowns in three of his last four games.

In terms of yards-per-carry average allowed, only four teams have a stingier defense than the 49ers. San Francisco was similarly stout a season ago, holding Steven Jackson to a scoreless 142 combined rushing yards in their two meetings. S-Jax's consistently monstrous workloads carry him, however -- he's averaging 25.8 touches per game since Week 3 -- and Jackson has fresh legs coming off St. Louis' Week 9 bye. No back in the league gets the ball more, which always makes S-Jax impossible to sit. ... Sam Bradford is only a QB2 until his receiver corps starts making plays downfield, but does have a favorable matchup for two-QB league purposes. Rams RT Jason Smith (concussion) is back healthy, and the 49ers rank 20th against the pass. They're also in the bottom half in the league in yards-per-throw and passing TDs surrendered.

Danario Alexander (knee) isn't due back until Week 11 at the earliest. ... Chris Wesseling went on record this week to predict a breakout game for Laurent Robinson. The Rams' best vertical threat, Robinson is finally recovered from nagging injuries that plagued him during the season's first half. Bradford has shown the ability to make wideouts better than they actually are (the true sign of a franchise QB), so Robinson makes for an ideal stretch-run stash. ... Danny Amendola is averaging a paltry 8.4 yards per reception, but the slot receiver still racks up points in PPR leagues. He's also found pay dirt in two straight. ... If Robinson doesn't emerge as Bradford's top downfield receiver during the stretch run, Brandon Gibson is the next best bet. Though an inconsistent player, Gibson played all but four of the snaps in St. Louis' last game and led the team with 67 receiving yards.

Seattle @ Arizona

Seattle has totaled 10 points and been outscored by a margin of 64 since losing Russell Okung to a second high ankle sprain during Week 7. Over that span, Marshawn Lynch has 20 carries for 55 yards without a touchdown. Alleged "No. 1 receiver" Big Mike Williams has a scoreless three grabs for 52 yards. Other factors have contributed to Seattle's offensive woes, of course, but Okung's absence has very arguably been the biggest. Coach Pete Carroll admitted Friday that Okung's ankle is still "not quite right," making Seahawks skill players risky and low-upside fantasy bets across the board regardless of what appears to be a favorable matchup with Arizona's No. 30-ranked defense. ... Matt Hasselbeck returns from his concussion as the No. 27 overall fantasy quarterback and without his blind-side protector. He's barely even on the two-QB league radar.

Williams had a season-high 11 catches for 87 yards and his lone touchdown of the year in the Seahawks' Week 7 game against these same Cardinals. Hasselbeck's return gives "BMW" some hope as a borderline WR3 start, but his shortage of quick-twitch athleticism makes Williams easy to defend if opponents game plan to stop him. He's certainly not someone to get excited about. ... Lynch has 61 carries as a Seahawk. Two of them have totaled 68 yards, and he's averaging 2.03 YPC on the other 59. The Cardinals do rank 28th against the run, so perhaps this is the matchup Lynch has needed to bust the slump. It's just difficult to bet on without Okung for another game.

Beanie Wells continues to battle knee swelling, and it kept him out of practice for the majority of this week. The same thing happened prior to Week 9. Wells went on to receive one carry for -2 yards. Asked to describe Wells' situation and role for Week 10 on Friday, coach Ken Whisenhunt replied "it'll be like last week." Wells isn't a fantasy option. ... Tim Hightower will draw a second straight start, this week against a collapsing Seahawks rush defense. Since losing mammoth LE Red Bryant (knee) and NT Colin Cole (ankle) two weeks ago, Seattle's run defense ranking has fallen from 2nd to 19th. A middling talent, Hightower will lose work to Wells as well as LaRod Stephens-Howling, but has a favorable enough matchup to be worth a look as a desperation flex.

The Cardinals will stick with Derek Anderson rather than continue the quarterback musical chairs, which appears to have allowed Larry Fitzgerald to find a rhythm. Fitz has turned in his best two fantasy efforts of the season in back-to-back weeks, combining for 179 yards and two scores on 13 catches. The Seahawks rank 30th against the pass. ... Steve Breaston was all but eliminated from Week 9 by Antoine Winfield, catching three balls for 28 yards on six targets. Breaston has played in five games this season. In two of them, he's had 132 or more yards. In the other three, he hasn't topped 41. The matchup is right this week, but Breaston defines inconsistency.

Dallas @ NY Giants

The Giants lost two key offensive linemen this week, with C Adam Koets (torn ACL) going on I.R. and LG/LT David Diehl out indefinitely with a torn hamstring. Diehl has struggled in protection all year and Koets was a swing-type reserve, so the losses shouldn't be felt with impressive rookie LG Mitch Petrus and successful reclamation project LT Shawn Andrews now fixtures in the lineup. Eli Manning is the No. 6 overall fantasy quarterback and a must-start against a bumbling Cowboys defense that's allowed the second most passing scores in the NFL and the third most yards per pass attempt. ... Hakeem Nicks destroyed Dallas' struggling corners for two touchdowns and 108 yards on nine catches just three weeks ago, and also reached pay dirt in his lone 2009 game against the Cowboys. No receiver in the league has more fantasy points at the halfway mark.

Steve Smith is not expected to play after straining his pectoral in Thursday's practice, thrusting Mario Manningham into the starting lineup at flanker. Recall that Mario's 10-150-1 breakout game in Week 3 of 2009 came against Dallas with Nicks out. The Cowboys' pass defense has reached a new low, so Manningham is flirting with WR2 value heading to Sunday. ... Time will tell whether Jason Garrett can get the Cowboys to play hard, but the rush defense has already thrown in the towel. Dallas ranked fourth in the league against the run last season and now stands at 24th, allowing 4.4 yards per carry. Ahmad Bradshaw retook goal-line back duties from Brandon Jacobs in Week 9, scoring from two and four yards out in the first quarter. Jacobs will stay involved as a change of pace, but Bradshaw is an RB1. Jacobs is no longer a good bet for weekly touchdowns.

The Cowboys' backfield should continue to be avoided against New York's No. 2 run defense, but shakeup is imminent. After getting exposed relentlessly in pass protection last week at Green Bay, Felix Jones was yanked for a combo of Marion Barber and Tashard Choice. Jones wasn't involved in a single Garrett playcall in the final 12 minutes, which isn't good news for his playing time going forward with Garrett now the Cowboys' head coach. It's hard to imagine Jones seeing a big role Sunday. ... It wouldn't be a surprise if by Week 11 we're calling Tashard Choice the Dallas fantasy back to own. With Marion Barber averaging 2.97 YPC for the year and Jones' snaps in free fall, Choice has the best shot at feature back duties in the final eight games. Garrett all but confirmed in press conferences this week that significant lineup changes are in the works.

Jon Kitna's targets since replacing Tony Romo in Week 7: Jason Witten - 27; Dez Bryant - 26; Miles Austin - 23; Roy Williams - 10. ... The only Cowboy who's yet to quit, Bryant hauled in a sterling 90 percent of his game-high 10 Week 9 targets and has been a WR1 since Kitna took over. The rookie has three touchdowns in his last three outings, averaging seven grabs for 75 yards per game. Bryant's yardage totals have risen in five straight weeks, and his roll shouldn't slow with Austin drawing the double teams. ... Austin is such a beast after the catch that he's very difficult to bench, but it's natural to have some concern in this one. The Giants held Austin to 38 yards on three grabs three weeks ago. ... Witten, on the other hand, posted a 9/95/1 line in said game, with most of the production coming via Kitna. Witten leads all tight ends in receptions.

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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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