Matchup Meter: Redskins offer Ponder path to fantasy stardom
Fantasy owners can't seem to decide whether to fall in love with Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder. The second-year signal caller has a 95.5 QB Rating and a favorable touchdown-to-interception ratio, but he has not yet pulled everything together in a single game. Perhaps this is the week Ponder will get over the hump.
The Vikings face a Redskins defense that has been riddled with injuries and ranks 31st in passing yards allowed per game (328.6). Only one opposing passer has failed to throw for 300 or more yards against Washington this year, and Josh Freeman was as close as it gets (299).
• Number to know: 13 -- The number of passing touchdowns the Redskins have allowed in 2012, more than any other defense.
• Expect a big day from: Ponder and Kyle Rudolph make up one of the league's best young quarterback-to-tight end combinations. So far it's produced four touchdowns, all from within the red zone. There is a good chance Minnesota's duo will add to that total in Week 6.
The Raiders allow the ninth most rushing yards per game (128.5) and have helped two backs gain 100 or more yards in four contests this season. That includes Miami's Reggie Bush, who gained 172 yards against the Raiders in Week 2.
• Number to know: 5.9 -- The average number of yards Oakland gave up to Denver's Willis McGahee in Week 4. In 2011, the Broncos back averaged 8.2 yards on 20 carries against Oakland. Those performances account for two of McGahee's most productive days in recent years.
• Expect a big day from: Michael Turner has been somewhat unpredictable this season (103 yards against Carolina, 3.7 yards per carry last week against Washington) but he should do well against a Raiders team that has allowed five rushing scores in four games.
Tennessee ranks in the league's bottom five in touchdown passes allowed (12) and has given up 7.9 yards per attempt. The unit does not generate many sacks or interceptions.
• Expect a big day from: Ben Roethlisberger had five touchdown passes when he faced Tennessee last year. He's a smart play, but so is tight end Heath Miller, who has been a scoring machine so far (and caught one of Roethlisberger's scores in the 2011 meeting).
Many teams have tried to run on the Dolphins this season, but no team has found success. Miami limited Arian Foster and Ben Tate to a combined 2.7 yards per carry, kept Darren McFadden to 22 yards, and last week limited the Bengals to 19 attempts.
• Number to know: 2.7 -- The average number of yards Miami allows per rushing attempt. The Dolphins are the only NFL defense to hold opposing rushers under 3.0.
• Who to bench: Steven Jackson has been what most fantasy owners probably expected -- a mid-level No. 2 back in standard leagues. This week he'll fall short. No team defends the run as well as Miami, and Jackson has struggled against defenses not nearly as good.
Philadelphia is among the leaders in opposing QB Rating and completion percentage, and only one passer (Eli Manning) has posted more than 250 yards passing against the Eagles this season. The pass defense is a big reason why Philadelphia has not imploded (although the Eagles offense is doing its best to try).
• Who to bench: Those fantasy owners possessing a strong backup quarterback may want to consider giving Matthew Stafford the week off. He has thrown just three touchdowns so far, and that does not match up well against an Eagles secondary that is stingy near the goal line.
What to think of the Patriots backfield? Hard to say. This week, however, no matter how much faith you have in Stevan Ridley, it might be good to keep him off the lineup card. The Seahawks are tough against the run. In fact, in two of five games this season someone other than the opposing team's featured back has led his team in rushing (Andre Roberts, Cam Newton).
• Number to know: 55 -- The most rushing yards any player has gained against Seattle this season (Steven Jackson on 18 carries).
• Who to bench: Ridley and Brandon Bolden have both been incredibly effective this year, and it will be difficult for fantasy owners to justify sitting Ridley. But unless New England grabs an early lead (Seattle defends the pass well, too) neither back will see anywhere near the amount of work they've had in recent weeks.