Evan Silva

Matchups

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Matchups: CJrunshardagainK

Saturday, November 09, 2013


1:00PM ET Games

Buffalo @ Pittsburgh

Le'Veon Bell has posted at least 99 total yards and/or a touchdown in 4-of-5 NFL appearances, and in Week 10 gets a run-blocking boost. RG David DeCastro will return from an ankle injury to punch holes in Buffalo's defensive line. Enjoying a quietly dominant year, DeCastro is the No. 3-rated guard in Pro Football Focus' grades. Expect another heavy workload from Bell versus the Bills' No. 17 run defense. Though a lack of big-play running ability puts a lid on his going-forward ceiling, Bell at very worst is an every-week RB2. ... Chasing Ben Roethlisberger's Week 9 stats into Week 10 will tempt many a fantasy owner, but savvy ones will resist. Philosophically, the Steelers don't want to play shootout football as they did in last week's loss to New England. This is a team that game plans to feature the run and should have success on the ground versus an opponent that won't force Pittsburgh to rack up yardage and points. The Patriots contest marked just Roethlisberger's second multi-touchdown effort in eight games this season. If OC Todd Haley has his way, Big Ben won't drop back to pass more than 30 times this week. And Bell will handle 25-plus touches. ... Ben's target distribution since Le'Veon joined the lineup five games ago: Antonio Brown 52; Emmanuel Sanders 38; Heath Miller 30; Bell 26; Jerricho Cotchery 22; Felix Jones 9.

Brown has at least nine targets in six of Pittsburgh's last seven games and is on pace for 122 catches. He's an every-week WR2 in standard leagues with WR1 value in PPR. Bills top CB Stephon Gilmore has struggled mightily since returning from a broken wrist four games ago, giving Brown a favorable matchup. ... Now entrenched as Pittsburgh's No. 2 passing-game option ahead of Miller, Sanders has been targeted 11 times in each of the past two weeks and is worth a look in WR3 slots. Miller's inability to perform at peak condition on the field has been noticeable, and is benefiting Sanders in the box score. The Bills have allowed league highs in TD passes (20) and 40-plus-yard passing plays. ... Miller clearly isn't past last year's triple-knee ligament tear. I'm not saying he's "done," but he doesn't look 100% physically. Buffalo has allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Averaging an anemic 26.3 yards over his last three games, Miller is likely to pay Week 10 fantasy dividends if and only if he scores a red-zone touchdown. He doesn't appear capable of racking up yards and catches. ... There doesn't seem to be much fantasy buzz on Cotchery despite his 7-96-3 line in last week's shootout with the Pats. It's for good reason. Cotchery is a No. 3 receiver on a philosophically run-first team, and will begin losing snaps to Markus Wheaton sooner rather than later. Wheaton is due back from a finger injury this week.

Week 9 game watchers know C.J. Spiller's ankle woes aren't "behind him" as Bills coach Doug Marrone claimed Wednesday -- he re-tweaked it twice against the Chiefs -- but it's outstanding news for patient owners that Buffalo plans to resume leaning on a back it can now feel confident about from a health standpoint. Spiller was the most dynamic player on the football field in last week's loss to Kansas City, ripping off gains of 61, 29, 27, 12, 9, and 8 among 14 touches. Here is Spiller's run-defense schedule from Weeks 13-16, following a Week 12 bye: Atlanta (20th versus run), Tampa Bay (13th & falling), Jacksonville (32nd), Miami (21st). ... The Steelers give Buffalo's backfield another favorable matchup. Pittsburgh ranks 31st in run defense and has allowed 12 rushing scores through eight games, the second most in football. Between-the-tackles grinder Fred Jackson looked sharp and turned a few "nothing runs" into something against the Chiefs, totaling 99 yards. Jackson will also be a good bet for a goal-line score. He's a quality RB2/flex at Pittsburgh. ... With last week's shredding by Tom Brady as an outlier, the Steelers' 2013 defensive strength has been versus the pass. Dick LeBeau's group is fourth in the NFL in pass defense and has held enemy signal callers not named Brady to a paltry 5:4 combined TD-to-INT ratio. The return of E.J. Manuel's dual threat has a chance to further spark an already productive Bills run game, but he'd be a poor two-QB-league play in his first game back from a five-week knee injury.

Manuel's target distribution on the season: Stevie Johnson 38; Robert Woods 33; Scott Chandler 24; F-Jax 18; T.J. Graham 15; Spiller 11; Tashard Choice 2; Marquise Goodwin 1. ... Johnson is Buffalo's lone stable Week 10 fantasy pass catcher. He will go to work in the slot, where Danny Amendola whipped this same Steelers defense for 112 yards and a touchdown last week. ... The Steelers are just 20th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, giving Chandler a below-average matchup. Chandler has averaged 40.8 yards per game in Manuel's five starts. He’d likely need a close-in touchdown to pay off as a fantasy start. ... Woods (ankle) isn't going to face the Steelers, giving rookie burner Goodwin some Hail Mary WR3 appeal. Consistently outplaying Graham, the third-round pick from Texas has 50-plus yards in three of his last four games. It stood out in Week 9 that playcaller Nathaniel Hackett dialed up repeated shot plays for Goodwin. Setting up bombs with a run-heavy base offense, the Bills are efforting to get Goodwin the rock.

Score Prediction: Steelers 23, Bills 21

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $65,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 10. It's $25 to join and first prize is $8,500. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.



Detroit @ Chicago

The Lions return from a Week 9 bye awfully close to 100% health as a team. The only skill-position players on Detroit's Week 10 injury report are Calvin Johnson (knee), who is fine, and Nate Burleson (arm), who may return in Week 11. Matthew Stafford's matchup is a cakewalk on paper, as he'll do battle with a Chicago defense that ranks 23rd against the pass and 29th in sacks, and is playing on a short week following last Monday's upset win at Lambeau. With an 8:3 TD-to-INT ratio and 365-yard average over his last three games, Stafford owners should be excited. ... Stafford's target distribution during that three-game stretch: Megatron 39, Kris Durham 27, Reggie Bush 20, Brandon Pettigrew 17, Joseph Fauria and Joique Bell 7, Jeremy Ross 3. ... Megatron is a shoo-in top-three fantasy receiver play, but it's worth noting Chicago has historically held him in check. These are Calvin's last four stat lines in Bears games: 4-44-1; 5-72-0; 3-34-0; 7-81-0. I'm not saying to bench Johnson, but doors could open for other Lions pass catchers if the Bears continue that trend. Bush and to a lesser extent Durham would be the logical beneficiaries. Manning the No. 2 wideout role until Burleson's return, Durham is a near full-time player in Detroit's aggressive passing offense. Durham has desperation WR3 attractiveness this week.

Bush has a chance to be a fantasy stretch-run beast. The Bears serve up 4.40 yards per carry and rank 29th in run defense, with ten rushing scores allowed in eight games. Fire up Bush as a top-five RB1. In these clubs' Week 3 meeting, Bush doused Chicago for 174 yards, a touchdown, and a 7.7 YPC average. The Bears' defense has become even more depleted up front since. ... More reason for Week 10 Bush love: In Weeks 6-9, Alfred Morris/Roy Helu, washed-up Brandon Jacobs, and Eddie Lacy/James Starks combined to paste Chicago for 432 yards and seven TDs on 80 carries (5.40 YPC). ... Lightly targeted and only a 30% player in Detroit's offense, red-zone specialist Fauria is a touchdown-dependent fantasy commodity I would never feel comfortable starting. ... Pettigrew's ceiling is limited by his lack of big-play talent, but this is a solid matchup in PPR. The Bears permit the third most receptions in the league to tight ends. ... Although Joique Bell is not much of a Week 10 flex option -- he's now consistently hovering between 5-9 touches per game -- there aren't three better rest-of-season handcuff/stashes than Detroit's change-of-pace back. Bell is versatile and talented enough to be a legit fantasy difference maker were Bush to get hurt. Cling tightly to Bell in the second half of the season, even if it means dropping a WR4.

 

Friday Update: Reggie Bush continues to shape up as one of the premier Week 10 fantasy plays, regardless of position. Chicago will be without every-down LE Shea McClellin on Sunday due to a hamstring injury. They'll turn to late-round rookie David Bass at left end. Bass was cut by the Raiders in training camp. The Lions' offensive line will have no trouble blowing the Bears' defensive front off the ball.

Observers of Jay Cutler's Week 7 groin tear are likely shocked he'll be starting just three weeks after the fact. An injury like Cutler's is subject to aggravation, so a run-first game plan from coach Marc Trestman is most probable in Cutler's first game back. It can't hurt that Matt Forte is on a tear, and Week 10 opponent Detroit is vulnerable on the ground. The Lions' No. 14 run defense surrenders 4.74 yards per carry, the fifth highest clip in football. As usual, Forte is an elite RB1. ... While playing him this week feels like too-risky business, Cutler needs to be grabbed in all leagues where he was dropped. Pre-Week 7, Cutler was on pace for career highs in touchdown passes (32), completion percentage (65.9), and passer rating (95.2). He was the No. 6 fantasy quarterback on the season. If Cutler avoids setbacks this week, fantasy owners should feel comfortable leaning on him as an every-week QB1 down the stretch. Chicago's leaky defense will create shootout situations, and two of the Bears' opponents during the fantasy playoffs (Dallas, Philly) rank in the 30s against the pass. ... Here is Cutler's target distribution on the year: Brandon Marshall 62; Alshon Jeffery 52; Martellus Bennett 45; Forte 38; Earl Bennett 16; Michael Bush 4.

Even if Trestman calls this game conservatively, the Bears are capable of aerial success versus a shaky Lions backend. 26th against the pass, Detroit ranks an incredibly disappointing 30th in sacks despite impressive on-paper defensive line talent. It's an appetizing matchup for go-to guy Marshall, who enters this one with four touchdowns over his last four games. ... Bookend Jeffery is the clear No. 2 option in Trestman's passing attack and shredded Detroit for a 5-107-1 stat line when these teams met in late September. Fire up Jeffery as a WR2/3. With Cutler restored under center, there won't be a week the rest of the season where Jeffery isn't a recommended start. ... The Lions have allowed the fifth most receptions and 11th most yards in the league to tight ends. Martellus is a quality, if back-end TE1. ... Trestman has been putting on a weekly playcalling clinic, and Chicago's offense should soon resume firing on all cylinders. Forward-thinking stashers should have Michael Bush rostered because he would be an every-down back in an explosive offense if Forte went down. I'm not saying Forte will go down; I'm saying there's always that possibility. He hasn't played a full 16-game schedule since the 2010 season.

Score Prediction: Bears 30, Lions 27

Cincinnati @ Baltimore

Andy Dalton entered Cincinnati's Week 9 matchup with Miami seemingly on fire. Dalton crashed back to Earth in the Dolphins' upset victory, re-exposing himself as a quarterback incapable of high-level performance over a sustained stretch. Essentially a souped-up Trent Dilfer, Dalton is a passer whose talent limitations must be overcome by his teammates. Now on the road to face a Ravens defense that ranks third in the NFL in sacks per game and has held enemy quarterbacks to seven touchdown passes over its last seven games, Dalton would ideally be treated as a high-end to middling QB2 rather than a standard-league starter. ... Dalton's target distribution the last four weeks: A.J. Green 45, Marvin Jones 26, Mohamed Sanu 20, Jermaine Gresham and Giovani Bernard 19, Tyler Eifert 15, Andrew Hawkins 2, BenJarvus Green-Ellis 1. ... Jones would've had a much bigger Week 9 box score if not for Gresham's holding penalty that negated a 50-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Jones is still the No. 1 overall fantasy wideout over the past five weeks. As long as Jones is being targeted like the No. 2 option in Cincinnati's passing game, I'll support him as a solid WR3 play. ... Another reason for Jones optimism is Baltimore's historical ability to hold Green in check. Green has faced the Ravens three times in his career. These are his stat lines: 2-26; 5-70; 2-26. You're obviously starting Green as an every-week WR1, but Jones could benefit on the off chance Baltimore's defense sells out to stop Cincinnati's best offensive weapon.

Sanu dropped two of his nine targets against the Dolphins and could be headed for a permanent reduction in playing time. The second-year receiver has been ineffective all season long. There is no question Jones is a better option out wide. ... Still working back into the mix after missing the season's initial eight weeks with an ankle injury, slot man Hawkins was targeted twice versus Miami. Hawkins has big-play explosiveness, but he is going to struggle for consistent usage in the Bengals' spread-the-wealth passing attack behind Green. ... It's impossible to justify either Eifert or Gresham as more than a mid-level TE2 when neither has reached 70 yards in any game this season. Baltimore has allowed the second fewest receptions in the league to tight ends. ... The fantasy community has called for Bernard's role to increase at Green-Ellis' expense all season. It hasn't happened yet, and we can't expect that to change during the stretch run. Although Bernard is going to play against the Ravens, his Week 9 rib scare won't instill coaching-staff confidence the smallish rookie is capable of handling a full-time workload. "Some of these guys, it's important for them to be fresh, fast,” explained OC Jay Gruden this week. “That's the way he is. He needs to have full stamina.” Bernard remains an attractive RB2/flex play, especially in PPR leagues. Facing the Ravens' top-eight run defense, Green-Ellis should be safely stationed on fantasy benches.

 

Friday Update: Gresham (groin) missed a second straight practice Friday and is listed as questionable for Week 10. TE1 streamers should keep an eye on the situation. Eifert will be an intriguing bye-week or injury-crunch filler against Baltimore if Gresham does not play.

I've noticed a lot of worry around fantasy land regarding Torrey Smith. He's strung together three relatively slow games, with one touchdown on the season. Smith is still coming off a five-catch, 78-yard Week 9 performance, and I think he's far likelier to pick it up than flatline the rest of the way. The hot stretch could begin this week. Cincinnati's pass defense is depleted, having lost top cornerback Leon Hall (Achilles') and interior pass rusher Geno Atkins (ACL). Joe Flacco is going to have more time to dial up downfield shot plays, which are Smith's bread and butter. He's a good bet to outrun 35-year-old LCB Terence Newman for a bomb. ... Carved up by Ryan Tannehill two Thursday nights ago, the Bengals suddenly pose a plus matchup for Flacco. This is a unit minus very arguably its two best defenders. Flacco has been a 2013 fantasy dud -- he's on pace for a 20:18 TD-to-INT ratio and has hit 300 yards in just two of his last seven games -- but this is a good week to use him in two-QB leagues. ... Flacco's target distribution since Marlon Brown returned from a hamstring injury three games ago: Brown 20; Smith and Jacoby Jones 18; Ray Rice and Tandon Doss 13; Dallas Clark 11, Ed Dickson 5; Deonte Thompson 4; Bernard Pierce 3.

The Ravens are playing three-wide offense with Jones and Smith outside, and Brown handling the slot. At 6-foot-5, 216, Brown creates Colstonian matchup problems inside the numbers. Brown's production has been frustratingly inconsistent week to week, but the targets and playing time are there, and his Week 10 matchup is too versus 33-year-old Bengals slot CB Chris Crocker, a converted safety. View Brown as a low-end but usable WR3. ... Situational deep threat Jones has yet to reach 50 yards in a game this season. He's waiver fodder in 10- and 12-team leagues. ... Cincinnati is allowing the seventh fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Drop-machine Dickson is no longer involved in the passing offense, while 34-year-old Clark is predictably fading. ... If Ray Rice fantasy owners can still sell him on name value, doing so now would probably be their best option. A Baltimore run-blocking group that lost LG Kelechi Osemele to year-ending back surgery isn't going to get better. And it appears Rice's early-season hip injury wasn't solely to blame for his shortage of pre-bye production. He struggled yet again coming off the Week 8 open date, managing 17 yards on 11 carries in last Sunday's loss to the Browns. It's crystal clear on tape that Rice's running ability is evaporating. He has very little chance to be a stretch-run fantasy difference maker. He's just a flex option against Cincinnati's top-ten run defense. ... Although Bernard Pierce also has struggled, I wouldn't be surprised to see more of him moving forward. Not only do the Ravens need to figure out whether Pierce is their lead back of the future, at this point they simply can't lean on Rice as a bellcow.

Score Prediction: Ravens 20, Bengals 17


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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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