Matchup Meter: Raiders, Saints are friendly faces for opposing offenses
Torrey Smith loves the big play. Last year, as a rookie, Smith ranked among the top 15 in yards-per-reception and averaged 34.4 yards on his seven touchdown receptions. Lately, though, opposing defenses have closed off Baltimore's down-field passing lanes; Smith has averaged just 11.5 yards per reception over the past month and his average yards-per-touchdown this year has been slashed in half, to 17.2.
The Raiders' defense is in the business of giving up the big play, though. Just look at the long gainers receivers have collected against Oakland over the past five games: Vincent Jackson (64) and Mike Williams (37); Dwayne Bowe (46); Cecil Shorts (42); Roddy White (26) and Julio Jones (25); and Demaryius Thomas (40).
Oakland's pass defense has allowed 14 touchdowns in eight games and ranks first in passing yards allowed. It's a secondary the Baltimore passing attack should pick apart.
• Number to know: 8.2 -- The number of yards Josh Freeman averaged per attempt in last week's win over the Raiders.
• Expect a big day from: Fantasy owners can expect to see Smith haul in a deep ball (or two). It could also be a big day for Joe Flacco, who has averaged 180.3 passing yards and thrown just three touchdowns over his last four games. The Raiders' secondary will serve as a parachute for Flacco's plummeting fantasy stock.
Last week, LeSean McCoy added his name to the long list of backs who have done well against the Saints' run defense this season. Drum roll, please ... McCoy, McGahee, Martin, Mathews, Benson, Charles and Morris. Mm, sounds like a tasty matchup for Michael Turner this week. The Saints rank last in rushing yards allowed per game (176.5). Opponents have run the ball 33.3 times per game.
• Number to know: 12 -- The number of carries of 20-plus yards that New Orleans has allowed this season.
• Expect a big day from: Fantasy owners have grown tired of trying to get a read on Turner, who has been up and down all season. This week's outlook: Up, way up. Turner should steamroll a Saints defense giving up 5.3 yards per carry.
It's not so much that New England's pass defense ranks so poorly in a number of categories -- the eye opener is that the Patriots have let so many mid-level starters have success. Russell Wilson passed for 293 and three touchdowns; Mark Sanchez put up 328 yards on 28-of-41 passing; and Flacco had 382 yards and three touchdowns.
• Number to know: 281.1 -- The number of passing yards New England is giving up per game. It's an improvement from last year (293.9), but the Patriots still rank among the bottom five in the league.
• Expect a big day from: Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown too many interceptions in his last three games against New England -- he's also thrown for a ton of yards (average of 342.0) and eight touchdowns, including four in the two teams' meeting earlier this year. Not too shabby. Fantasy owners holding Fitzpatrick may want to give him the nod for Week 10.
Tampa Bay allows the fewest rushing yards in the NFL, just 77.3 yards per game. The unit has shut down Jamaal Charles and DeMarco Murray, and last week Darren McFadden gained just 17 yards on seven carries before suffering a high ankle sprain.
• Number to know: 22.5 -- The number of carries that opponents average against the Buccaneers.
• Who to bench: Ryan Mathews has averaged just 70 yards a game in six games this season -- hardly the No. 1 back fantasy owners projected him to be this past summer. This week Mathews could hit rock bottom.
There is very little the Texans' defense does not do well. The run defense has yet to give up a touchdown and the secondary ranks among the top five in the league in yards allowed per game and per attempt. It probably helps to have a front four capable of creating pressure (25 team sacks). Excluding Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, quarterbacks who have faced Houston this year have thrown a combined five touchdowns and nine interceptions.
• Number to know: 54.5 -- The completion percentage that Houston has allowed opposing passers.
• Who to bench: Jay Cutler is not in the same league as Rodgers and Manning. He could struggle mightily in the most anticipated matchup of Week 10.
Leading rushers who have faced St. Louis this season have averaged 16 carries and 67 yards in eight games. And the Rams have denied three of their last four opponents a rushing touchdown. The Rams rank first in the league in both rushing yards allowed per game (105.5) and yards allowed per carry (4.2).
• Number to know: 2.9 -- The number of yards Frank Gore averaged per carry in games against St. Louis last season. Gore gained just 82 yards on 28 attempts and didn't score a touchdown (or catch a pass) in either meeting.
• Who to bench: Gore hasn't scored a touchdown in San Francisco's last three games and has been held to fewer than 70 yards rushing in four of the past six. It might be wise to sit him down for this contest.