Evan Silva

Matchups

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Matchups: Benching Brady

Saturday, November 13, 2010




Sunday Night Football

New England @ Pittsburgh

Tom Brady has been a QB2 since losing Moss, averaging just 208 yards in his last three games and only once throwing more than a single TD pass since Week 3. In a matchup with arguably the NFL's top defense, Brady's foot sprain is enough reason to consider alternatives if you have strong ones. ... Rob Gronkowski's playing time is headed for decline. A week after struggling as a run blocker and dropping a pass, Gronkowski lost a fumble at the Browns' nine-yard line and was also flagged for a costly third-quarter hold in Cleveland territory with New England in comeback mode. ... One of Aaron Hernandez's two Week 9 TDs was fluky, coming on a tip off Gronkowski, but the rookie saw a game-high nine targets and is finally a staple of the Pats' red-zone offense. He plays too much and is too explosive to not be a TE1 consideration every week.

With Deion Branch off the injury report, Brandon Tate's snaps will continue to decrease. Tate's 3-101-1 Week 8 line proved a fluke last Sunday, as the second-year wideout managed just one catch for 12 yards on four Week 9 targets. Tate has big-play ability, so he could reappear for a few big games down the stretch. But he won't be consistent, and neither will be the rotating, 31-year-old Branch. ... When Wes Welker can only managed 36 yards on four catches against the Browns, you know his fantasy value is in the gutter. He may not be a green-light fantasy play the rest of the way. ... Avoid the Patriots' running game against Pittsburgh's No. 1 run defense. Not only is the matchup impossible, Fred Taylor has a chance to return from turf toe to siphon work from BenJarvus Green-Ellis. ... Danny Woodhead's passing-down role is secure, but he's only getting the ball 11 times a game and has one touchdown in his last four.

Rashard Mendenhall enjoyed a midseason "breakout" of sorts at Cincinnati last Monday night, recording his highest yardage total and yards-per-touch average since Week 3. According to Pro Football Focus, Rocket Rashard generated 66 percent of his yards after contact. The Steelers will have to rely on Mendenhall more heavily going forward due to LT Max Starks' year-ending neck injury. The Pats have also been obliterated by running games in back-to-back weeks, letting up 218 total yards and two TDs to Minnesota backs in Week 8, before Peyton Hillis' 220-total yard, two-score thrashing last week. They've plummeted to 21st in the run defense rankings. ... Heath Miller has cleared 40 yards as many times as he's found the end zone this season: Once.

Starks' injury is a big blow to Pittsburgh's pass protection, but the Patriots aren't a team capable of exposing such weaknesses. New England ranks 24th in sacks and lacks a consistent pass-rush threat from the outside linebacker position. The Patriots' pass defense is 29th overall, so Ben Roethlisberger is hard to sit in fantasy leagues despite back-to-back slow games. ... Deep threat Mike Wallace leads the league in yards per catch and has five touchdowns in his last six efforts. He'll match up with the Patriots' burnable RCB rotation of Darius Butler and Kyle Arrington in this one. Expect a deep bomb or two from "60 Minutes." ... Like Wallace, Hines Ward has found the end zone consistently since Roethlisberger's return from suspension, with three scores in his last four games. Ward is always a good bet for a big game in primetime.

Monday Night Football

Philadelphia @ Washington

Michael Vick rejoined the lineup with a bang in Week 9, accounting for a pair of touchdowns and rushing for 74 yards on top of 218 more passing against Indianapolis' top-seven pass defense. Vick is 100 percent, but the best news for Philadelphia's passing game may be on the offensive line. LT Jason Peters (knee) also returned to action against the Colts, and according to Pro Football Focus didn't allow a single quarterback pressure, stoning RE Dwight Freeney for two sack-less tackles. Vick and DeSean Jackson are going to be stretch-run fantasy juggernauts assuming good health. ... Coming off a 7/109/1 line in Week 9, D-Jax is up to 21 catches for 433 yards and three TDs in Vick's 15 quarters under center. In other words, Jackson has become a safe bet for 100-plus yard games every time both he and Vick step foot onto the playing field.

Coach Andy Reid told reporters this week that Brent Celek's role would grow going forward, but it's becoming hard to believe. Celek was targeted once in Week 9, and has just two catches for eight yards, total, dating back to Week 6. ... Jeremy Maclin was held to a solitary 15-yard grab in Redskins-Eagles earlier this year and has been relatively quiet since Jackson's concussion three weeks ago. Maclin is certainly worth WR3 consideration against Washington's No. 31 pass defense, but he's shaping up as an inconsistent fantasy commodity. He has 83 or more yards in three games this year, but 48 or fewer in the other five. There's been no in between. ... LeSean McCoy posted a season-high 174 total yards against the Skins in Week 4. Only the Colts, Bucs, Bills, and Lions are surrendering a higher yards-per-carry average than Washington this season.

Annually leaky against tight ends, the Eagles have given up five TE touchdowns in their last five games. Jacob Tamme was the latest to gash Philly, hauling in a game-high 11 balls for 108 yards and the score. Chris Cooley is currently the No. 8 fantasy tight end, a ranking that should rise on MNF. ... Struggles for Washington's offense are likely to be evident in the deep passing game, however. Coming off their Week 8 bye, the sack- and interception-happy Eagles defense forced Peyton Manning to play pitch and catch over the middle while abusing his offensive line. Washington's front five is arguably even worse than Indy's (although it's close). Just the No. 21 overall fantasy quarterback, Donovan McNabb is clearly not a standard league fantasy option.

The Skins have allowed 17 sacks in their last four games after giving up six in their first four. It's bad news against Eagles DC Sean McDermott's blitz-happy scheme. ... According to Pro Football Focus, Eagles LCB Asante Samuel is allowing a league-low 29.0 passer rating on attempts in his direction. Santana Moss got a taste of that in Week 4, going catch-less. More numbers on Samuel: 1:5 TD-to-INT ratio against, 46.7 completion rate, and 8.5 yards per reception. Play Moss at your own risk. ... Ryan Torain (hamstring) is tentatively expected back in the lineup, but the Skins' backfield has red flags all over it. The Eagles are allowing just 67.3 rushing yards per game in their last three, stoning both Chris Johnson and Michael Turner. Clinton Portis (groin) also has a chance to play, and Torain was unable to put in a full practice all week. If you've got viable alternatives in early games, use them.


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



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