Evan Silva


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Matchups: Immediate Dividends

Saturday, November 27, 2010

1:00PM ET Games

Jacksonville @ NY Giants

Ahmad Bradshaw's "demotion" will be temporary according to starter-for-now Brandon Jacobs, and in terms of role it figures to have little to no impact. With the G-Men down both starting wideouts, OC Kevin Gilbride is going to lean heavily on his backfield. The Jags' No. 19 run defense looks only slightly below average on paper, but the unit has allowed the second most rushing scores in the NFL. Two of Jacksonville's key run defenders are also on this week's injury report: DT Tyson Alualu has been limited with a knee ailment, while WLB Justin Durant's shoulder is hurting. Bradshaw's see-through benching was done to send a message about his ball security after he lost his fifth fumble of the season in Week 11. Expect him to respond positively and see 15-plus touches. Jacobs could turn out to be even more valuable this week in non-PPR leagues.

Owners of Hakeem Nicks (leg, out indefinitely) and Steve Smith (pec, out through Week 13) are scrambling, but turning to fill-in starter Derek Hagan wouldn't be wise. Mario Manningham will be the primary beneficiary of the starters' multi-week absences, as Gilbride turns to a run-first game plan that uses vertical shots as a change of pace. Jacksonville is susceptible to the long ball, having allowed the second most 20-plus yard completions in the AFC and the second most of 40-plus in the league. While Hagan, Duke Calhoun, Travis Beckum, Kevin Boss, and newly acquired Michael Clayton are canceling each other out, Manningham will be doing the real damage. ... It's hard to sit Eli Manning against the No. 28 pass defense, but his attempts will be down and he's lost quite a bit of playmaking ability in the supporting cast. Looking elsewhere isn't a crazy idea.

Stunningly atop the AFC South, the Jags have played just two games against top-19 defenses. In them (@ SD, vs. PHI), David Garrard has combined for a 1:5 TD-to-INT ratio and averaged 139 passing yards. The Giants rank second in total defense and are likely to dial up heavy pressure against a Jacksonville offense that may be without blind-side protector Eugene Monroe (concussion), and also poses little downfield threat without Mike Sims-Walker (ankle). MSW's absence was glaring in Week 11, as a previously white-hot Garrard committed four turnovers and completed just 58.8 percent of his throws against a beatable Browns pass defense. Sims-Walker practiced some this week, but is not expected to play. ... MSW's loss has benefited Marcedes Lewis and Mike Thomas. Thomas saw a game-high 10 targets in Week 11, graduating to every-week WR3 status with a touchdown for the third straight game. Lewis was next with eight targets and ranks second in fantasy points among tight ends.

Maurice Jones-Drew labored through his first seven games with a 3.78 YPC and one rushing TD. Mixing in a Week 9 bye to rest his legs, MJD has exploded for a 4.97 clip in the last month, and three touchdowns. Jones-Drew hasn't faced a run defense as tough as New York's top-five unit yet, but few backs are as difficult to stop when they're in a groove. Jones-Drew's passing-game production has also spiked, and the G-Men are vulnerable to running backs in open space. Felix Jones burned Perry Fewell's defense for a 71-yard touchdown on a screen pass in Week 10, and LeSean McCoy took a toss-sweep 50 yards to the house against them last Sunday night.

Minnesota @ Washington

We saw it two years ago in St. Louis with Jim Haslett, last year in Buffalo with Perry Fewell, and now in Dallas with Jason Garrett. Though always likely to be short-lived, "sparks" are the norm immediately after in-season head-coaching changes. Interim coach Leslie Frazier has observed the offense all year, and is likely to favor a ball-control, run-first approach as most defensive minds do. In the Vikings' three wins this season, Adrian Peterson averages 24 touches and has been heavily involved in the passing game. During the Vikings' last three games, he's averaged just 18.3 touches. Expect a renewed emphasis on the ground attack against the Redskins' No. 27 run defense. Washington is allowing the highest yards-per-carry average (5.08) in the league. A.P. is also sure to benefit from the absence of run-stopping Skins SS LaRon Landry (Achilles).

Brett Favre will remain the Vikings' starting quarterback with a long leash -- we knew two years ago that Tarvaris Jackson isn't a solution -- but it would take quite the leap of faith to use Favre outside of a two-QB league despite a favorable matchup with Washington's No. 29 pass defense. He has a 4:13 TD-to-turnover ratio in his last five games. ... Favre forced ten targets to Sidney Rice in the contract-year receiver's Week 11 return, a move that appeared to instill confidence in Rice as the game progressed. Ultimately, having Rice back is more likely to help than hurt Percy Harvin, but until we see living proof consider both WR3s. This week's matchup is certainly attractive enough for both to be worthwhile starts. ... Bernard Berrian is off the fantasy radar as his groin continues to act up. ... While the Redskins allow the third most fantasy points to wide receivers, they allow the fifth fewest yards to tight ends. Visanthe Shiancoe is a low-end start.

Santana Moss poured 106 yards and a touchdown on a stout Tennessee pass defense last week, bringing his season average to seven catches for 89 yards per game when he doesn't face the Eagles. The Vikings have been obliterated by the pass recently, particularly down the left sideline. Rookie RCB Chris Cook had to be benched last week. Moss is moving all around the formation, so he should see plenty of face time against Cook and the similarly burnable Asher Allen in this one, assuming Moss' hamstring allows for it. He was held out of Thursday's practice. It's a situation to monitor heading to Sunday. ... Like Favre, a declining Donovan McNabb remains only a two-QB league consideration even in the best of matchups. McNabb ranks 19th among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring.

Chris Cooley ranks third among tight ends in receptions, trailing only Jason Witten and Brandon Pettigrew. The touchdowns will come. Cooley remains an every-week starter. ... With Ryan Torain (hamstring) ruled out and Clinton Portis on I.R., Keiland Williams is lined up for another 20-plus touches. Owners should not have lofty expectations, however. The Vikings rank seventh against the run, and only four teams surrender fewer yards per carry. The Skins are also banged up on the line. C Casey Rabach will try to play through a torn MCL. Don't be surprised to see practice squad call-up James Davis get a healthy dose of work Sunday.

Green Bay @ Atlanta

Pass pro is always a concern against the Packers, who rank fourth in the league in sacks and are led by NFL sack leader Clay Matthews (on pace for 18.5). The Falcons' line, though, looks up to the task. Matt Ryan has been sacked just twice in his last four games, a span that includes 160 drop-backs. Ryan also continues to dominate at home, throwing 11 of his 18 touchdowns passes at the Georgia Dome. This matchup appears difficult on paper, but don't shortchange the No. 7 fantasy QB in a potential shootout. ... Throw out a Week 8 game in which he missed significant snaps due to a knee injury, and Roddy White is averaging nearly 10 catches for 131 yards with five touchdowns in four home games this season. A declining Charles Woodson won't stop him.

Our game charter noticed Tony Gonzalez battling a hip or "side-area" injury in Atlanta's Week 11 win over St. Louis. Though Gonzo isn't on the Week 12 injury report, it's another red flag for the 34-year-old. Gonzalez, who's topped 46 yards in just 2-of-10 games, now squares off with a Packers defense that's allowed two touchdowns to tight ends all year. ... Michael Turner posted his second highest rushing yardage total of the season in Week 11 and scored for the fifth time in his last four games. Green Bay's defense as a whole has improved over the last month, but is still permitting 4.52 yards per carry -- the seventh most in the league. Keep trotting out The Burner.

Due in part to lack of production from their tight ends, the Packers intend to increase usage of five-receiver sets, making Aaron Rodgers that much more dangerous. On a tear with seven passing scores since Week 8 and no turnovers since Week 7, Rodgers is likely to rip through a Falcons defense that ranks 24th against the pass. ... Falcons RCB Dunta Robinson hasn't looked the same since his midseason concussion-inducing collision with DeSean Jackson. He's given up touchdowns to Bucs rookie Mike Williams and middling Rams wideout Brandon Gibson in the last three weeks. It's good news for Greg Jennings, who leaped to No. 9 in the fantasy receiver ranks with a 7/152/3 eruption against Minnesota in Week 11. He's one of the NFL's hottest wideouts.

Donald Driver (quadricep) returned to the starting lineup against the Vikings, but didn't adversely impact James Jones. In fact, Jones' snap percentage increased coming off a Week 10 bye. As the Packers continue to play more receiver-friendly offense (i.e. the five wides), Jones will flirt with every-down status. He's a rock-solid WR3 with upside at the Georgia Dome. ... Though he's got his job back, Driver still can't practice fully and isn't making big plays in the slot. His snap count in Week 11 was identical to Jones'. Jones' yards-per-catch average is 15.3 to Driver's 10.6, so it's not hard to differentiate between their fantasy values. ... The Falcons are considerably more stout against then run than the pass, which plays to the Packers' strengths. But it won't help Brandon Jackson, who appears to be in danger of losing short-yardage and goal-line work to emerging rookie Dimitri Nance.

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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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