Let's hope this week's Thursday night game is bit more watchable than last week's after school special starring Jay Cutler as Ryan Leaf. Here are a few matchups I like on Thursday.
Steve Smith -- The Panthers have re-established their identity as a running team (finally), but that plays to the strength of the Miami defense. On the flip side, the Dolphins have young corners who might bite on a double move and allow a big play.
Ricky Williams -- Carolina is 25th against the run, allowing 128.1 yards per game, and Williams should expect a full workload with Ronnie Brown sidelined. With a short week to prepare for the Wildcat, Williams is a strong option.
11/17/09 - Dear Diary,
Obviously it's tough to get excited about the Browns-Ravens Monday nighter, but I just spent an hour with my daughter listening to the Glee soundtrack and playing with her baby dolls, so I'll take anything I can get to feel more masculine. I also intend to drink nine beers and hammer up some drywall.
Here are my starts for the week.
Brett Favre -- Even the biggest Favre supporters wouldn't have predicted 17 TDs and three picks through nine games. After torching the Lions (not exactly a huge accomplishment), Favre faces a Seattle defense allowing 273 passing yards per game and nine TDs in their last four games.
Eli Manning -- The Falcons are struggling against the run, so look for them to load up to stop Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. That should give a rested Manning some opportunities against a secondary allowing 264 passing yards per game and 10 TDs over the last five contests.
Ben Roethlisberger -- Kansas City allowed Oakland to throw for 113 yards. At the current conversion rate, Roethlisberger should be able to throw for 746 yards in this one. OK diary, that might be high, but he'll have a good game.
Rashard Mendenhall -- After listing Mendenhall as a sit for two straight weeks (with a 50 percent success rate), I'm extending the olive branch by recommending him. It doesn't hurt that the Chiefs give up 141.3 rushing yards per game and have allowed opposing RBs to rush for at least 92 yards in five of six games.
Knowshon Moreno -- He had a nice bounce-back game with 97 rushing yards against Washington, and with Kyle Orton injured, the Broncos should lean more on the run against the Chargers.
Bernard Scott -- The shifty Jamaal Charles racked up 117 total yards and a score against the Raiders. Scott has some wiggle as well (ask the Pittsburgh kick coverage team) and runs behind a much stronger offensive line. Cedric Benson may try to play, but I like Scott as a flex option against Oakland.
Kevin Smith -- With high draft picks and pride (I guess) at stake, the Browns and Lions will hook up on Sunday. I'll take my chances with Smith against a defense allowing 166.4 rushing yards per game.
Beanie Wells -- Yes diary, I know we left Week 7 thinking Wells had finally overtaken Tim Hightower after a big game against the Giants. Here we are after Wells outplayed him again (by a wide margin). I can only assume Ken Whisenhunt actually watches game film, so Wells should see an increased workload against St. Louis.
Donald Driver/Greg Jennings -- The 49ers are strong against the run, which means Ryan Grant will have a tough time moving the chains. Without Nate Clements though, the 49ers have struggled against the pass, so look for Aaron Rodgers to air it out early and often.
Santonio Holmes -- After a slow start, Holmes has 13 catches and 181 yards the past two weeks. Roethlisberger targeted him 14 times last week, and Kansas City is completely inept in the secondary.
Sidney Rice -- There were times Lions defenders weren't even in the picture during Rice's big-play bonanza on Sunday. While Seattle will put up more resistance, you saw how many passing yards they're giving up lately, right?
Steve Smith -- No diary, I'm not intoxicated and listing the same guy twice. I mean the Giants' Steve Smith. The New York version hit a lull in the middle of the season but has eight catches in each of his last two games. As I mentioned with Eli, I think the Giants can make some big plays in the passing game.
Dustin Keller -- This week's Owen Daniels replacement has 14 catches and 134 yards in his last two games. He caught a TD in the first matchup with New England and had eight catches for 87 yards last November against the Pats. Is it possible I'm just trying to talk myself into this one? Absolutely.
Greg Olsen -- Cutler is force-feeding him the ball and the Eagles have allowed at least 70 yards to opposing TEs in five of their last six games. They've also surrendered five TDs over that span.
11/18/09 - Dear Diary,
Before this season the notion of Larry Johnson playing for the Bengals was a punch line, but given the way the Bengals have played this season, I'm giving them a free pass. Too bad it took so long, because when I lived in the Queen City, the Bengals were a football follies video without the narration and cool music.
Here are this week's sits.
Jay Cutler -- Cutler and prime-time games go together as well as John Daly and sobriety. Or the Browns and touchdowns. Or JaMarcus Russell and completions. Or JaMarcus Russell and salad. I think you get the idea, diary.
David Garrard -- This came in my e-mail today: "Hi Andy, it's me, David Garrard. I'm sorry I always stink when you recommend me and play well when you don't. Be sure to remind people I've thrown for just seven touchdowns in nine games, and I'm playing a Buffalo defense giving up the fewest points to opposing QBs. And please stop calling my house."
Tony Romo -- Last week Kyle Orton became the first QB to throw for multiple TDs against Washington this season, and the Redskins promptly broke him. You've been warned, Romo. I also expect an increased focus on the run after Dallas gave their trio of RBs just 11 carries last week.
Matt Ryan -- At this point, he's somewhere between Geovany Soto and Matt Forte on the sophomore slump continuum. He just can't be trusted in fantasy leagues right now, especially against the Giants and without Michael Turner.
Joseph Addai -- With nine TDs in nine games, Addai is one of fantasy's more pleasant surprises. However, he has yet to rush for more than 65 yards in a game. Throw in a finger injury, the return of Donald Brown last week, and a fifth-ranked Ravens run D, and I'm looking in another direction.
Ladell Betts -- OK diary, he proved me wrong last week but let's see if he can do it again. In their last eight games, the Cowboys have held opposing RBs under 100 rushing yards six times and have allowed just one TD.
Jamaal Charles -- It won't take long for Charles to realize he's not playing the Raiders anymore. Look for the Steelers top-ranked run defense to keep him bottled up.
Ryan Grant -- Grant's best games tend to come against the league's poorest run defenses and third-ranked San Francisco doesn't exactly qualify for that distinction. He's still getting most of the carries but will struggle to find running room.
Marshawn Lynch -- He has one TD, hasn't rushed for over 43 yards in his past three games, hasn't broken 70 rushing yards all year, and has basically split carries with Fred Jackson the past two weeks. Throw out the game where Chris Johnson went nuts against them, and Jacksonville has been solid against opposing RBs.
Michael Crabtree -- The rookie had two catches for 23 yards on San Francisco's first drive against the Bears, then had two for 25 the rest of the game. The talent is there, but the consistency isn't.
Derrick Mason -- Heading into last week's game, the Colts secondary had allowed just one TD. And Derrick Mason, you sir, are no Randy Moss. The normally reliable PPR option has 10 catches in three games, and Joe Flacco struggled against Cleveland. Yikes.
Terrell Owens -- With the firing of his coach, the spiteful T.O. we've come to know and love resurfaced via Twitter. If only the T.O. who could actually contribute on the football field would show up.
Mike Sims-Walker -- MSW made a nice play on a 26-yard TD last week, but outside of that he was limited to two catches and 23 yards. Two weeks ago he had two catches and nine yards. Buffalo has given up just two passing TDs and just one since Week 4. You likely don't have better options (I know I don't), but don't count on a big game.
Fred Davis/Zach Miller -- My first two Owen Daniels replacements combined for three catches and 35 yards the past two weeks. I hate them both this week, and forever.
Visanthe Shiancoe -- Sure he has six TDs, but he's been held under 30 yards six times. So he needs to score to have value, and Seattle has given up only two TDs to opposing tight ends (just one since Week Three).
Until tomorrow, diary...
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