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Fantasy Football start 'em, sit 'em Week 7
2:58 | Fantasy
Fantasy Football start 'em, sit 'em Week 7
Saturday October 24th, 2015

We’ve been dealing with byes since Week 4, but this is the first week of the season that truly tests the skills of the fantasy community. Cincinnati, Green Bay, Denver and Chicago, the four teams on bye in Week 7, contribute regular, locked-in, no-doubt-about-it, starters up and down the fantasy ledger. With all those key players out, many fantasy owners will have to turn to their depth to get a win this week.

The good news for those owners is that if they’ve been mining the waiver wire over the first six weeks of the season, they should be ready to weather the bye-week storm. Players like Stefon Diggs (not totally buying your coach speak, Norv Turner), Theo Riddick and Christine Michael are ready for their close-ups in Week 7 standing in for a Randall Cobb or Matt Forte or Giovani Bernard. These are the kinds of weeks where regular season titles are won. Hopefully your depth is up to the challenge.

• FanDuel  NEW: One-week $2M fantasy league. First place wins $150K and top 90K teams win cash! Sponsored by FanDuel

With that, get all the last-minute news you need to set your lineups with our Week 7 Cheat Sheet.

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (in London)

 

     vs. QB

      vs. RB

     vs. WR

      vs. TE

 Bills

      23rd

       15th

       23rd

       23rd

 Jaguars

      20th

       27th

       15th

       18th

Vegas lines

Bills -4

Over/under 41

Bills o/u 22.5

Jaguars o/u 18

No Tyrod Taylor or Sammy Watkins should mean a lot of LeSean McCoy for the Bills in London. The Jaguars, meanwhile, will almost certainly lean on the passing game, especially if T.J. Yeldon is out because of his groin injury. Whichever team can control that flow will likely come out on top.

Player who could surprise: Robert Woods

Watkins is set to miss this week’s game with an ankle injury. At least he made the trip across the pond, which is more than can be said for Percy Harvin. With those two receivers out, Woods shoots to the top of the depth chart. Even though the Bills will lean on McCoy, E.J. Manuel is going to have to make some plays through the air. Woods should be his favored target.

Player who could disappoint: Allen Robinson

Robinson is in for a matchup with Ronald Darby, which could double as the matchup to watch in this game. He has 13 catches on 21 targets for 158 yards and three touchdowns over the last two weeks, but Darby ranks seventh among corners in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. He held A.J. Green to four catches for 36 yards, and Odell Beckham to five for 38.

Matchup to watch: LeSean McCoy vs. Jacksonville run defense

The Jaguars have been terrible against the run again this year, ranking seventh from the bottom in Pro Football Focus’ metrics. Their formula for winning this game is to slow down McCoy and put the ball in the hands of Blake Bortles. That will be easier said than done.

Injury report

Tyrod Taylor (knee): Out

Sammy Watkins (ankle): Out

Karlos Williams (concussion): Out

Percy Harvin (personal): Out

Kyle Williams (knee): Out

LeSean McCoy (hamstring): Probable

T.J. Yeldon (groin): Questionable

Allen Hurns (ankle): Probable

Allen Robinson (shin): Probable

Julius Thomas (chest): Probable

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

 

      vs. QB

      vs. RB

     vs. WR

      vs. TE

 Vikings

        4th

        12th

        10th

       24th

 Lions

       22nd

        26th

        24th

       25th

Vegas lines

Vikings -3

Over/under 44.5

Vikings o/u 24

Lions o/u 21

The Lions may be 1-5 with their only win coming against the Bears, but it’s still a surprise to see them as three-point dogs at home against the Vikings. The team totals do come out to a half-point higher than the over/under, so there could be more scoring than some expect.

Player who could surprise: Charles Johnson

Stefon Diggs emerged over the last two weeks, catching 13 of his 19 targets for 216 yards. Despite that, as well as Johnson’s underwhelming performance this year, the latter was apparently back ahead of Diggs in three-wide sets in practice, with Jarius Wright in the slot. If Johnson does indeed get his starting gig back, he could take advantage of Rashean Mathis, who has allowed an 81.8% catch rate this year.

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Player who could disappoint: Matthew Stafford

The Vikings have allowed the fourth-fewest points per game to quarterbacks and 10th fewest to receivers, holding Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning in check. Stafford did get them for 20.4 points in Week 2, but this is a legitimately tough pass defense. He’s a high-end QB2 for Week 7.

Matchup to watch: Calvin Johnson vs. Harrison Smith

Smith is a safety, but with the combined struggles of Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman, you can bet Smith will be over the top of almost every route Johnson runs on Sunday. While Minnesota’s corners have had issues this year, Smith ranks second in coverage among safeties.

Injury report

Charles Johnson (ribs): Probable

Adrian Peterson (finger): Probable

Joique Bell (ankle): Probable

Eric Ebron (knee): Probable

Calvin Johnson (ankle): Probable

Theo Riddick (groin): Probable

Golden Tate (ankle): Probable

New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts

 

     vs. QB

     vs. RB

      vs. WR

      vs. TE

 Saints

      31st

       28th

       11th

       29th

 Colts

      25th

       20th

       30th

       13th

Vegas lines

Colts -5

Over/under 52.5

Saints o/u 24

Colts o/u 29

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By any measure, both of these passing games have come up short of their preseason expectations. That should turn around this week, as reflected by a game total of 52.5 points. This has the feel of the first truly dominant performance for Andrew Luck this season. He may have been overdrafted, but he’s not a guy who remains quiet all season.

Player who could surprise: Dwayne Allen

We’re all expecting big things from Luck, T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief. On the other side, Drew Brees typically gets his, but he does so with a rotating cast of pass-catchers. These teams have struggled against the run all year, making both Mark Ingram and Frank Gore safe RB2s with RB1 upside. If someone is going to surprise in this game, it will likely be a Colt tight end, and Allen is flying under the radar. The Saints have surrendered the fourth-most points per game to the position this year.

Player who could disappoint: Brandin Cooks

I’m just going to keep putting Cooks as the player to disappoint in Saints games until he proves to me that I need to go in another direction. Brees threw for 312 yards and a touchdown last week, yet Cooks had just four catches for 41 yards. He has had fewer than seven points in standard-scoring leagues in four of his six games this year. Throw in a likely matchup with Vontae Davis and he’s a WR3 at best.

Matchup to watch: Saints run blocking vs. Colts run defense

The Saints have been surprisingly efficient blocking for Ingram and the run game this season, rating sixth in blocking on Pro Football Focus and eighth in overall offense by Football Outsiders’  DVOA. The Saints still live on Brees’ right arm, but Ingram could be a huge factor in this game.

Injury report

Marques Colston (shoulder): Probable

Fantasy waiver wire: Christine Michael, Stefon Diggs worth looks for Week 7

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

 

     vs. QB

       vs. RB

     vs. WR

       vs. TE

Steelers

       19th

         3rd

        20th

        30th

Chiefs

       30th

       10th

       32nd

         8th

Vegas lines

N/A

The Steelers still haven’t announced their starting quarterback for this game, but all signs point to Ben Roethlisberger being out one more week with his knee injury. That means Landry Jones will almost certainly make his first career start. Get ready for a ton of Le’Veon Bell, who could see his first 30-touch game of the year.

Player who could surprise: Albert Wilson

Even if it is Jones under center, the Steelers are going to be able to put up some points against this Kansas City defense. Alex Smith is going to have to make plays in the passing game, but he may not have Jeremy Maclin, who has missed practice until Friday with a concussion. If he is indeed out, Wilson would take over as the No. 1 receiver, though Travis Kelce, who could be in line for a huge game given the Steelers issues with tight ends this year, would still be Smith’s most dangerous target.

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Player who could disappoint: Martavis Bryant

If the Steelers go 3-1 without Roethlisberger, which would be their record since losing their starting quarterback with a win on Sunday, they’d look back at this month as the crucial stretch in their schedule. To do that, they’re going to lean on Bell as much as possible. Bryant is a worthy starter after what he did in his season debut, but he’s not going to be able to rely on huge yards-after-catch plays for all of his fantasy value.

Matchup to watch: Antonio Brown vs. Marcus Peters

This matchup would be a lot more fun to watch if Roethlisberger were healthy, but it will still be one of the best on the field at Arrowhead. Peters is flourishing as a rookie, hauling in three interceptions and rating as Pro Football Focus’ 20th-best cover corner through six weeks. Brown will, of course, give him his toughest route-running test to date.

Injury report

Ben Roethlisberger (knee): Questionable

Jeremy Maclin (concussion): Questionable

Dontari Poe (ankle): Questionable

Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins

 

      vs. QB

      vs. RB

      vs. WR

      vs. TE

Texans

       27th

        23rd

        17th

       22nd

Dolphins

       9th

        19th

        18th

       17th

Vegas lines

Dolphins -4.5

Over/under 44.5

Texans o/u 20

Dolphins o/u 24.5

The Dolphins finally turned in a performance befitting their preseason expectations, a great sign given that it was the first game of the Dan Campbell era. The Titans may have been a willing patsy, but getting the Texans at home isn’t much more of a challenge.

Player who could surprise: Brian Hoyer

Hoyer has ranked ninth and sixth in fantasy points at the quarterback position in the last two weeks, and was 14th in Week 4, despite not starting that game. He’s going to have to throw the ball a lot to keep up with Miami, and could easily volume his way to another QB1 week, especially with DeAndre Hopkins doing his thing on the other end of at least 15 of those passes.

Player who could disappoint: Arian Foster

The fantasy community showered all of its attention on the Dolphins offense last week, but this defense may have found its fastball, as well. Foster has been quietly disappointing since returning from his groin injury, running for just 94 yards on 37 carries the last two weeks. He has made an impact in the passing game, but you don’t want to count on that if you’re a Foster owner.

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Matchup to watch: DeAndre Hopkins vs. Brent Grimes

Hopkins has become an elite receiver right before our eyes, but he’ll have a tough test in Grimes, a corner who season after season rates as one of the best in coverage. We should get to see this battle play out over 15-plus targets on Sunday.

Injury report

Cecil Shorts (hamstring): Out

Arian Foster (groin): Probable

Jadeveon Clowney (ankle): Questionable

New York Jets at New England Patriots

 

      vs. QB

       vs. RB

      vs. WR

       vs. TE

 Jets

        2nd

        1st

         6th

        4th

 Patriots

       26th

        5th

       25th

       14th

Vegas lines

Patriots -9

Over/under 48

Jets o/u 19.5

Patriots o/u 28.5

The Patriots are undefeated and potentially the best team in the NFL, but it’s hard to believe the line is this big. The Jets have an elite defense and an offense that won’t be cowed by the big boys on the other side of the field. This is going to be a close game, with both teams getting at least into the mid-20s.

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Player who could surprise: Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Patriots are the Patriots, but Chris Ivory, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have established themselves as one of the most dangerous trios in the league. With that being the case, why wouldn’t Fitzpatrick have a good game in this crucial AFC East showdown? He has been a bit mistake prone this year, but the Patriots have allowed the seventh-most points per game to quarterbacks, and you can usually bet on the volume being good when trying to keep pace with Tom Brady.

Player who could disappoint: Dion Lewis

Over the last four weeks, LeGarrette Blount has had 47 carries to Lewis’ 18. Lewis makes up for that in the passing game, but Blount has still outtouched him 49 to 34 after including receptions. Over the last two weeks, Blount’s edge is 30 to 21, and we know he’s going to get the ball in short-yardage situations. The game flow may benefit Lewis, but Blount is the better Patriot back to play this week.

Matchup to watch: Julian Edelman vs. Darelle Revis

Revis has played just 34 snaps in the slot this year, so it’s not like we’re going to see these two going at it all game. Still, you can bet Revis will draw at least a few snaps against Edelman, and those snaps will produce arguably the best receiver-corner matchup of the weekend. Remember, these guys saw a lot of each other as teammates in practice last season.

Injury report

Eric Decker (knee): Probable

Brandon Marshall (calf): Probable

Dion Lewis (abdomen): Questionable

Cleveland Browns at St. Louis Rams

 

       vs. QB

       vs. RB

      vs. WR

       vs. TE

 Browns

        24th

        30th

       21st

        15th

 Rams

        3rd

       22nd

       7th

        9th

Vegas lines

Rams -6

Over/under 42

Browns o/u 18

Rams o/u 24

This game has a real chance to turn into the most boring affair of Week 7, without a ton of fantasy star power on either side. There could, however, be one saving grace, so long as you aren’t going up against a certain rookie running back who should dominate this game.

Player who could surprise: Todd Gurley

No one will be surprised when Gurley lights up the Browns defense, which has allowed the third-most points per game to running backs and is 31st in Football Outsiders’  DVOA. What could be a surprise, however, is just how bad he makes them look. Gurley has rushed for at least 140 yards in both of his starts this season. He could approach, or surpass, 200 on Sunday.

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Player who could disappoint: Josh McCown

Outside of Gurley, there isn’t anyone in this game who is a slam-dunk starter in standard fantasy formats, making it a challenge to say someone will be a true disappointment. McCown has turned into a reliable play in two-QB leagues, though, so his matchup with a pass defense that is eighth in DVOA and fifth in pass rush could leave his owners wanting a whole lot more.

Matchup to watch: Rams offensive line vs. Browns run defense

The Rams are just in the middle of the pack in run blocking according to Pro Football Focus, but every team that has faced the Browns this year has pushed them around. If the Rams do that, we could be looking at a historic day for Gurley.

Injury report

Joe Haden (concussion): Out

Gary Barnidge (ankle): Probable

Tavon Austin (thigh): Questionable

Chris Long (knee): Out

Alec Ogletree (ankle): Out

Atlanta Falcons at Tennessee Titans

 

       vs. QB

       vs. RB

       vs. WR

       vs. TE

 Falcons

         6th

        31st

         4th

        26th

 Titans

       17th

        7th

       13th

        27th

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Vegas lines

Falcons -6

Over/under 48

Falcons o/u 26.5

Titans o/u 21.5

The Falcons are laying six points in this game, but their team total is just five points higher than Tennessee’s. The Titans’ defense is better than you realize, ranking ninth in overall DVOA, though they have been much better against the pass than the run. That’s bad news with Devonta Freeman in town.

Player who could surprise: Dorial Green-Beckham

Green-Beckham took a major step in his development last week, playing 40% of the Titans’ snaps for the first time this season. He’s going to enjoy an expanded role for the rest of the year, and has already shown a proclivity to take advantage of his opportunities. Even though Zach Mettenberger will start in place of the injured Marcus Mariota, Green-Beckham can be a surprise player this week.

Player who could disappoint: Devonta Freeman

Look, you’re starting Freeman with confidence, as you should every week for the rest of the season. The bottom line, however, is that he’s not going to continue putting up 25-point games with regularity. He has to slow down at some point, and this Tennessee defense has surrendered the seventh-fewest points per game to running backs. The advanced metrics don’t like the Titans nearly as much against the run, but that doesn’t mean they’re a pushover. The Falcons do boast the best run blocking in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.

Matchup to watch: Julio Jones vs. Titans secondary

The Titans rank eighth in pass coverage and second in DVOA against No. 1 receivers, but they don’t have one corner who really stands out in coverage. This unit gets it done as a group, and it will have to bring that mentality to the field Sunday to slow down Jones.

Injury report

Roddy White (foot): Probable

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Redskins

 

      vs. QB

       vs. RB

      vs. WR

       vs. TE

 Buccaneers

       21st

        21st

       28th

        2nd

 Redskins

      11th

        9th

      22nd

        10th

Vegas lines

Redskins -3.5

Over/under 43

Buccaneers o/u 20

Redskins o/u 23.5

So this is what it takes for Washington to be favored by more than a field goal? A visit from the lowly Buccaneers? Call me crazy, but I like the road team. In a game like this, I’ll take the team that actually has some firepower on offense.

Player who could surprise: Mike Evans

No one will be truly surprised by a huge game from Evans. After all, this is a guy who had nearly 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie. The big game is coming sooner or later. Like we talked about with Todd Gurley a little earlier in the column, Evans has the ability to put up a monster this week. Washington is in the bottom half of the league in pass coverage and doesn’t have a healthy corner who can stay with Evans. The team’s pass rush has been good this season, but they’ve still allowed the 11th-most points per game to receivers. Evans breakout game is right around the corner.

Player who could disappoint: Alfred Morris

Matt Jones is expected to return from his toe injury this week, which puts him back in the league’s most frustrating timeshare. Morris had the backfield all to himself last week, and all he did with the opportunity was run for 21 yards on 11 carries. If you continue to invest in this backfield, allow me to sell you a desk, upon which you can bang your head. Seems like you’re kind of thing.

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Matchup to watch: Doug Martin vs. Washington run defense

Through the first four weeks of the season, Washington boasted one of the stingiest run defenses in the league. In the two games since, Devonta Freeman and Chris Ivory have combined for 299 rushing yards, two touchdowns, and 94 receiving yards. Martin could give them fits this week.

Injury report

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder): Out

Chris Thompson (back): Doubtful

DeSean Jackson (hamstring): Out

Chris Culliver (knee): Out

DeAngelo Hall (toe): Out

Jordan Reed (concussion): Questionable

Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Raiders

16th

11th

14th

32nd

Chargers

7th

32nd

3rd

19th

Vegas lines

Chargers -4

Over/under 47

Raiders o/u 22

Chargers o/u 26

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The Raiders aren’t a terrible team by any stretch of the imagination, but this is a really bad matchup for a team that has had trouble against the pass all year. Given the way Philip Rivers is playing, both the line, as well as San Diego’s team total, feel low. That could, however, mean plenty of volume for Derek Carr and Amari Cooper.

Player who could surprise: Ladarius Green

The fantasy community is all over Antonio Gates, as it should be, but Green remains a key player in this offense. Even if Gates plays this week, Green is worth a start in most fantasy formats. He still played 70.2% of the snaps last week, catching three passes for 35 yards and a score. Green is one of the big playmakers in San Diego. The Chargers will continue to find ways to get him and Gates on the field together.

Player who could disappoint: Latavius Murray

This is undoubtedly a great matchup for Murray, whom the Raiders will have to ride to win this game. The Chargers rank 30th in rush DVOA, 31st in Pro Football Focus’ rush defense metric, and have allowed the most points per game to backs. Unfortunately, if the Oakland defense can’t slow down Rivers and the San Diego passing game, Murray may not have a chance to exploit this matchup.

Matchup to watch: Amari Cooper vs. Jason Verrett

Verrett immediately became one of the best corners in the league as a rookie last year, and has carried that over into his second season. Cooper is already among the best route runners in the league in his first year. With these two in the same division, this will be just the first of what will be plenty of great showdowns.

Injury report

Latavius Murray (shoulder): Probable

Antonio Gates (knee): Questionable

Keenan Allen (hip): Questionable

Melvin Gordon (ankle): Questionable

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Cowboys

15th

29th

9th

5th

Giants

13th

24th

12th

28th

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Vegas lines

Giants -3.5

Over/under 45.5

Cowboys o/u 21

Giants o/u 25

Where were you when the great Christine Michael Takeover of 2015 began? Will we all be asking ourselves that one day? Maybe not with Matt Cassel under center. The Giants feel like one of the safer bets on the slate this week.

Player who could surprise: Rashad Jennings

No matter how you slice it, Jennings has been a disappointment this year, even when you consider the mundane expectations he carried in draft season. This can finally be a game in which he makes good for his fantasy owners. The Cowboys have allowed the fourth-most points per game to running backs and are below average in every metric that measures rush defense. If the Giants can get ahead, Jennings may be able to pound the Cowboys into submission.

Player who could disappoint: Jason Witten

By all accounts, this is a great matchup for a tight end. The Giants have allowed the fifth-most points per game to the position, and Witten himself burned them for 60 yards and a pair of scores in Week 1. That, of course, was with Tony Romo at the helm. I don’t trust anyone in the Dallas passing game with Cassel manning the controls. Given the depth at tight end, you can likely do better.

Matchup to watch: Odell Beckham vs. Cowboys secondary

The Cowboys are primarily a zone coverage defense, but they’re going to have to find someone who can stick with Beckham. If a defense gives a guy like him zones to attack, he’ll pick it apart.

Injury report

Dez Bryant (foot): Doubtful

Odell Beckham (hamstring): Questionable

Rueben Randle (hamstring): Probable

Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Eagles

14th

2nd

27th

6th

Panthers

5th

17th

5th

11th

Vegas lines

Panthers -3.5

Over/under 46

Eagles o/u 21.5

Panthers o/u 25

Wind the calendar back two weeks and imagine someone told you that one of these teams would be undefeated when they met in Week 7. Not many would have thought the Panthers would be the perfect outfit. Vegas seems to still be disbelieving, if the line is to be taken at face value. There’s still widespread faith in the Philadelphia offense.

Player who could surprise: Jonathan Stewart

Stewart turned in four largely uninspiring efforts before his two-touchdown game a week ago, but even in that one he needed 20 carries to amass 78 yards. The Eagles run defense is for real, ranking second in DVOA and fifth by Pro Football Focus’ standards. Still, if the Panthers get ahead in this game, they’re going to trust Cam Newton and Stewart to bring home a victory. Stewart could finish as a top-20 back despite the brutal matchup.

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Player who could disappoint: Sam Bradford and Jordan Matthews

This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has been paying attention. The Panthers have one of the very best pass defenses in the league. The Eagles, meanwhile, have been at their best when running the ball effectively. Their three wins have come in the only three games they’ve established a presence on the ground. They’ll lean heavily on DeMarco Murray in this game, and that will come at the fantasy expense of Bradford and Matthews.

Matchup to watch: Greg Olsen vs. Connor Barwin

Barwin is one of the best coverage linebackers in the league, allowing just one reception in 63 pass coverage snaps. He gets his greatest test of the season on Sunday night in Olsen, one of the premier tight ends who doubles as his team’s most dangerous weapon in the passing game.

Injury report

Nelson Agholor (ankle): Out

Kiko Alonso (knee): Out

Riley Cooper (knee): Questionable

Josh Huff (knee): Probable

Baltimore Ravens at Arizona Cardinals

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Ravens

32nd

8th

31st

3rd

Cardinals

8th

6th

19th

1st

Vegas lines

Cardinals -9

Over/under 48.5

Ravens o/u 20.5

Cardinals o/u 28.5

I’m not sure how high this line would have to be before I started worrying about the Cardinals, but -9 isn’t it. Carson Palmer is going to have a field day against a defense that has made Josh McCown and Colin Kaepernick look like they could be opposing each other as Pro Bowl starters. Get your Cardinals active in this one.

Player who could surprise: Michael Floyd

Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown are understandably ranked higher than Floyd most everywhere this week, but the big receiver out of Notre Dame is just as liable to go off against Baltimore’s atrocious pass defense. Floyd was this close to scoring three touchdowns last week, though me managed to stay in bounds for just one. Still, he played a season-high 75% of the team’s snaps last week, and continues to inch back toward the standing he once had in this offense. Again, the Ravens aren’t going to be able to slow down Palmer on Monday night. Get all these Cardinals active.

Player who could disappoint: Steve Smith

If the Cardinals do what everyone expects them to, the volume should be there for Smith. He’s probably the only human alive who could shake off a broken back to catch seven passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, as he did a week ago. The fact remains, however, that he’s not at 100% and the Balitmore secondary features some great coverage players in Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson and Tony Jefferson. This could be a tougher week than it appears.

Matchup to watch: Steve Smith vs. Patrick Peterson

Even taking everything said above into account, any time two famously brash, skilled trash talkers like Smith and Peterson get together on the field, it’s going to be the best individual matchup of the game. You’ll wish the ESPN broadcast would devote a split screen to these two whenever the Ravens have the ball.

Injury report

The official injury report for Monday Night Football isn’t available until Sunday, but John Brown is the only player whose status could be in question. He missed Friday’s practice because of a hamstring injury.

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