Evan Silva


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Matchups: Play Palmer

Friday, November 18, 2011

1:00PM ET Games

Dallas @ Washington

If the Redskins keep this game close, Dallas' recent defensive performance suggests Washington has the potential -- emphasis on potential -- to enjoy rushing success. Falling from No. 1 in the NFL's run defense rankings to No. 11, the Cowboys have served up an eye-popping 536 yards and three TDs on 85 carries (6.31 YPC) over their last three games. ILB Sean Lee's Week 10 return didn't help much, as Fred Jackson dropped 114 rushing yards on Dallas. Don't count on knowing the Redskins' starting tailback until just before game time, but if it's Roy Helu he'll be worth flex consideration, particularly in PPR. ... Ryan Torain has fallen off a cliff since his 135-yard effort in Week 4. In the ensuing five games, Torain has a pathetic 53 yards on 31 rushing attempts (1.71 YPC). During that same span, Helu has 87 yards on 19 carries (4.58 average). If Mike Shanahan goes with the tailback who gives him the best chance to win Sunday, he will turn back to Helu.

Rex Grossman threw two picks and didn't lead a touchdown drive in his return to the lineup last week, but he at least showed an ability to threaten defenses downfield. The incredibly turnover-prone Grossman is barely a two-QB league option, but I'd feel a bit better about Washington's pass-catching corps with Rex at the helm, as opposed to John Beck. ... Here is Grossman's target distribution on the season among fantasy-relevant players: Santana Moss 39, Jabar Gaffney 37, Fred Davis 36, Chris Cooley 13, Helu 11. ... It's a reminder that Moss should be picked up for the stretch run. He's going to push Davis for the Redskins' team lead in targets over the season's final 5-6 weeks. Shanahan says Moss (hand) could return as soon as Week 12. ... Davis' target total with Grossman is somewhat skewed by the fact that Cooley was still playing when Rex started the first five games. Davis should be fine long term, but it's worth remembering that the Cowboys sold out to stop him in Week 4, double teaming Davis on the majority of snaps and particularly in the red zone. Davis finished with year lows in catches (1) and yards (23). He's a risky TE1 this week.

Tony Romo is on a tear since having fully overcome his cracked ribs. Off the injury report and no longer needing painkillers to play, Romo has completed 42-of-57 passes (73.7%) for 549 yards (9.63 YPA) with five touchdowns and no turnovers in his last two games. These are my personal QB rankings for Week 11: 1) Aaron Rodgers 2) Tom Brady 3) Cam Newton 4) Romo 5) Carson Palmer. ... The Cowboys' passing game could have racked up prolific Week 10 stats if they hadn't taken the air out of the ball in the second half against Buffalo. Dez Bryant led the team in catches and receiving yards during the first two quarters and is a legit top-five fantasy receiver for Week 11. ... As mentioned in this space last week, Jason Witten leads Dallas in targets, catches, and yards when Miles Austin (hamstring) has missed games this season. He again led the team in targets last Sunday. In his last four meetings with the Redskins, Witten has averaged over six receptions for 86 yards a game. ... Romo only targeted Laurent Robinson three times in Week 10, at least partially due to the Cowboys' blowout win. But Robinson secured all three for 73 yards and two touchdowns, showing vertical speed on a 58-yard second-quarter scoring bomb. Robinson is the No. 3 option in the passing game until Austin returns, but he will continue to see constant single coverage and play all of the offensive snaps in an on-fire offense. He's a strong WR3 start.

The Redskins just can't score any points, so it's reasonable to believe that the Cowboys can grab an early lead and rack up rushing attempts with feature back DeMarco Murray in the third and/or fourth quarters. Even throwing out his 253-yard breakout game in Week 7 against the Rams, Murray has pounded his last three opponents for a combined 348 yards on 50 carries (6.96 YPC) and is averaging 143 total yards per game. ... Felix Jones is due back from his high ankle sprain on Sunday, and figures to share change-of-pace back work with rookie Phillip Tanner. These comments from Dallas owner Jerry Jones were especially telling this week: "One thing that comes to my mind is that Murray looks like the more he carries, the more effective he gets. ... Felix has always been a guy that looks like the best way for him to be his best is to inject him in spots."

Score Prediction: Cowboys 27, Redskins 13

Jacksonville @ Cleveland

The Browns rank 30th in offense and the Jags 32nd, so it shouldn't be surprising that this game easily has the lowest projected over/under (34.5 points) of Week 11. Avoid where possible. ... A good NFL running back would have generated far more than the 90 yards on 19 carries Chris Ogbonnaya managed against the Rams in Week 10. The Browns' O-Line consistently cleared mammoth holes on St. Louis, but Ogbonnaya lacks burst to exploit them. Ogbonnaya got a big chunk of his production on a third-quarter run for 32 yards, but has no second gear in the open field and was brought down from behind by Rams SLB Brady Poppinga, who is 32 years old and coming off a torn ACL. Ogbonnaya averaged a typical 3.2 YPC on his other 18 attempts. The expected absence of Jaguars NT Terrance Knighton (ankle) does improve his matchup slightly, but ultimately Ogbonnaya lacks the sheer talent to be more than a desperation fantasy option.

The Browns are getting the Jags at a good time with "Pot Roast" Knighton unlikely to play and top cornerback Rashean Mathis going on injured reserve this week. Cleveland's lone passing-game fantasy consideration remains Greg Little, who's coming off his most productive performance of the season (6-84) and continues to maintain a stranglehold on Colt McCoy's targets. Here is McCoy's target distribution since Cleveland's Week 5 bye: Little 44, Joshua Cribbs 24, Ben Watson 22, Evan Moore 13, Mohamed Massaquoi 10, Jordan Norwood 10. Little again led the Browns in targets in Week 10. ... Massaquoi's anticipated return from post-concussion symptoms would cut into Cribbs' playing time. ... Moore did not receive a single Week 10 target. ... Watson hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 4 and is averaging 32 yards a game during that span.

The Jaguars rank dead last in the league in passing offense, and it's not even close. They're 32nd in completions, completion rate, passing yards per game, yards per pass attempt, 20-plus yard completions, and quarterback rating. And this week, they are facing the NFL's No. 1 pass defense. It's very difficult to imagine using any Jaguars pass catcher in this game. ... Jason Hill has a total of five yards on one reception in the last two weeks. I am aware that Hill had a fluky little run where he scored a touchdown in three of four games between Weeks 5-8. I also think you are pretending if you believe he's a fantasy option. ... Over the past three games, Marcedes Lewis and Mike Thomas have combined for 87 yards on 11 catches. Combined. Neither has scored a touchdown, and Lewis finished Week 10 with -4 yards. ... The forecast is brighter for Maurice Jones-Drew. Opposing tailbacks have touched up the Browns' collapsing run defense for 549 yards and three rushing touchdowns on 98 carries (5.60 YPC) across the last three games.

Score Prediction: Browns 17, Jaguars 7

Cincinnati @ Baltimore

The Bengals' loss of top CB Leon Hall to a ruptured Achilles' figures to weaken their pass defense significantly, but not enough to push Joe Flacco into QB1 territory. I watched Ravens-Seahawks twice this week, and came away with the impression that Flacco has lost his confidence. He was wildly inaccurate outside the numbers, consistently missing Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin down the sidelines. Flacco's 29 completions consisted largely of dump-offs to Ed Dickson (10-79-2), Dennis Pitta (4-49), and running backs in the flats. Flacco didn't make a single big-time throw the entire game. Ultimately, he targeted Smith and Boldin a combined 17 times. Together, they produced five catches for 50 yards. Flacco is a two-QB league option only, and I'm skeptical he'll ever make the leap to fantasy starter without a major surge in downfield accuracy. ... For Dickson, the question is whether this can become a trend. Dickson saw a career-high 14 targets at Seattle, with Flacco throwing a season-most 52 times. In this game, my bet would be against Dickson. Since Week 3, the Bengals have held opposing tight ends to an average of four catches for 40 yards per game. Only one tight end has scored a touchdown against Cincinnati during that span.

It's fair to be wary of Boldin and Smith after Week 10, but they should at least be open frequently on Sunday. Hall was easily Cincinnati's top cover corner, and the Bengals will now resort to some combo of Pacman Jones and Kelly Jennings opposite declining veteran Nate Clements. Boldin remains WR2/3 material, while Smith is a low-end WR3. Even if Lee Evans (ankle) finally returns, he'd be eased into three- and four-receiver sets. ... Ravens playcaller Cam Cameron ought to be embarrassed after getting Ray Rice only 13 offensive touches in Week 10, although Rice saved his fantasy day with a touchdown pass to Dickson. The last time Cameron ignored his top playmaker -- in Week 6 at Jacksonville -- Rice bounced back with 25 touches in the next game. While the Bengals' No. 2-ranked defense has been stout against the run this season, Rice has had historical success against it. In his last four matchups with Cincinnati, Rice has three touchdowns and a robust 4.53 YPC average. All told, he has averaged 118 total yards per game.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Cedric Benson was held to 131 yards and no touchdowns on 44 carries (2.98 YPC) in two matchups with Baltimore last year. This season, the Ravens' top-four run defense is allowing an NFL-low 3.27 yards a carry. Ray Lewis' (toe) absence wouldn't present enough of a downgrade to make Benson trustworthy; the Ravens still have 340-plus pounders Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody to clog the middle. ... A.J. Green is not expected to play after hyperextending his knee on last week's touchdown catch over Troy Polamalu. The Bengals lack consistency throughout the rest of their passing game, so this is going to have a big impact. Even on plays where Green has not caught passes this year, he has commanded a safety over the top. The Bengals' offense isn't going anywhere this week. ... Andy Dalton gets another brutal matchup against Baltimore's No. 6 pass defense. No NFL team has allowed fewer passing touchdowns, and only the Jets and Texans are holding opposing quarterbacks to lower passer ratings. Without Green, Dalton will struggle to keep his pass catchers afloat. ... No tight end has found pay dirt against the Ravens all season, and they've held players at the position to just 297 combined yards on 28 receptions through nine games. It's a three-catch, 33-yard average. I'd have very little faith in Jermaine Gresham this week. ... Held catch-less in Week 10, Jerome Simpson was outplayed by Andre Caldwell and undrafted free agent fourth receiver Andrew Hawkins. Avoid the situation.

Score Prediction: Ravens 20, Bengals 3

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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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