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Matchup Meter: Sinking Colts may be last-gasp tonic for Johnson


Finally, the day is here. Or, perhaps more appropriate, the right matchup is here. Finally, Chris Johnson should deliver for disappointed fantasy owners.

Johnson belongs to the league's least productive rushing offense (64.3 yards per game), and this week the feature back was the popular pick among SI experts for most disappointing fantasy player so far. Fortunes should change Sunday against a Colts run defense allowing 150.9 yards per game (31st). Five opposing backs have gained 90 or more yards on the unit.

The last time the Titans hosted Indianapolis, Johnson busted free for 179 yards from scrimmage on 30 touches. No one should expect that type of production, but it's no stretch to predict the fourth-year back can deliver his second 100-yard game of the season. That alone would put a huge grin on the faces of those who made Johnson their top pick in fantasy drafts this summer.

These matchups suggest success is around the corner for a number of suspect fantasy starters ...

NY Giants' passing attack vs. Miami's defense

The Dolphins have surrendered two or more touchdown passes to four of the six passers the team has faced this season, including Tim Tebow's pair in the final quarter last week. Only Indianapolis and St. Louis have allowed more passing scores.

Expect a big day from: In addition to Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks, fantasy owners can have confidence in Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard. The Dolphins have proved vulnerable to opposing tight ends so far, and no defense has surrendered as many big plays (seven completions of 40-plus yards).

Denver's rushing attack vs. Detroit's defense

After two devastating losses the Lions must hit the road to face a Broncos team that has found hope in Tebow. In terms of talent, this is no contest, but if there is an area where the Lions are vulnerable it's in defending Denver's rushing attack. The Lions rank among the bottom five in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (129.4) and per carry (5.0).

Expect a big day from: Maybe not a "big day," but Knowshon Moreno should get a boost this week in his attempt to permanently reclaim the starting job from injured Willis McGahee. And Detroit's woes against the run might be enough to sway those considering giving Tebow the start.

San Diego's passing attack vs. Kansas City's defense

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In six games the Chiefs' defense has managed just six sacks while allowing 12 passing scores (tied for third most). Only a few weeks ago, the unit allowed Indianapolis' Curtis Painter to look like a pro (115.8 QB Rating). The last time these teams faced one another, Rivers did not have Antonio Gates at his disposal.

Expect a big day from: It's sad Philip Rivers needs an endorsement to find his way to the starting lineup, but the truth is Rivers ranks 20th in QB Rating and has thrown more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (seven). He should perform well this week; in his last four outings against the Chiefs Rivers has averaged 276.7 yards.

These fantasy stars might need a rest this week due to an unfavorable matchup on the horizon ...

Buffalo's passing attack vs. Washington's defense

Washington's pass defense has held its own through six weeks. The unit has held opposing passers to a QB Rating of less than 80.0 in three of the past four games -- a list that includes Mike Vick and Tony Romo. And only the Jets and Ravens have allowed fewer passing scores than the five Washington has given up.

Who to bench: Chances are, if you own Ryan Fitzpatrick you have another capable quarterback on your roster. Time to give Buffalo's passer a break. This is Fitzpatrick's third consecutive game against an NFC East opponent, and possibly the most unfriendly of the bunch. Other than perhaps Steve Johnson, no Bills receiver is advisable in this game.

Carolina's rushing attack vs. Minnesota's defense

The Panthers have averaged 161.2 yards on the ground over the past four weeks (175 last week). This week that average will experience a significant dip. The Vikings are one of only five defenses allowing fewer than 90 rushing yards per game, and they allow just 3.6 yards per carry -- impressive stats for a team with a 1-6 record.

Who to bench: Neither DeAngelo Williams nor Jonathan Stewart should find their way into your lineup this week.

New England's receivers vs. Pittsburgh's defense

Go down the line and it's clear the Steelers do not give up much ground to opposing receivers. The best an opposing receiver has performed against the league's No. 2-ranked pass defense was in Week 3 (Pierre Garcon had six catches for 82 yards). And the top tight end for opposing teams has averaged 3.7 catches and 38.4 yards (that list includes Dallas Clark's two catches for 12 yards and Marcedes Lewis' two for 29).

Who to bench: It's tough to make an argument to sit Wes Welker -- one of fantasy's most productive receivers so far -- but fantasy owners with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez may want to consider other options.