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Matchup Meter: Panthers' Williams might cast aside past nightmares


Sometimes fantasy owners need to be gutsy -- borderline crazy, even. It's Week 13 -- a week when crazy things are supposed to happen -- so why not bet on a long shot? Why not bet on ... DeAngelo Williams? (Cue: screams of horror).

The Panthers' running back is expected to get the start this week in place of Jonathan Stewart, who is nursing a high ankle sprain. Williams has failed to deliver this season, perhaps because he has never carried the ball more than 15 times in a game. Now, though, the Panthers have no choice but to feed him, as quarterback (and leading rusher) Cam Newton is also on the injury report (wrist).

Williams faces a Chiefs defense ranked 24th against the run, giving up 4.5 yards per carry. It's the same unit that made Knowshon Moreno look good last week and made BenJarvus Green-Ellis look like a Pro Bowler the week before.

• Number to know: 14 -- The number of 20-yard runs opposing backs have logged against the Chiefs this year, tied for most in the league.

• Expect a big day from: Maybe "big day" is asking too much, but fantasy owners should at least expect Williams' most productive day of the season. That should make him worth a start.

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

Arizona's rushing attack vs. New York Jets' defense

No fantasy back should fear the Jets. Opponents have racked up 359 carries against New York's "other team" this year. With that, they've averaged 4.4 yards per carry and scored 12 rushing touchdowns. Last week, New York allowed a combined 139 yards to New England's duo of Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.

• Number to know: 142.8 -- The average number of rushing yards per game the Jets allow; only Buffalo and New Orleans allow more.

• Expect a big day from: The Cardinals are limiting Beanie Wells in practice this week, but most expect they'll give him a healthy workload on Sunday. Fantasy owners could be in for a treat.

Jacksonville's passing attack vs. Buffalo's defense

The Bills' pass defense is not awful; it's just not very good. Opposing passers have a 90.5 QB Rating and average 7.3 yards per passing attempt. And let's not forget this is the same unit that helped Mark Sanchez and Alex Smith looked pretty darn impressive earlier in the year.

• Number to know: 3 -- The number of touchdown passes Buffalo has allowed to tight ends in the past four games.

• Expect a big day from: Chad Henne and Marcedes Lewis can barely justify taking up roster spots at this point, but both are intriguing plays this weekend. Henne has been hot in two starts (six touchdowns), and Lewis' numbers are on the rise. In a meeting with Buffalo two years ago, Lewis caught a pair of scores.

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

New York Giants' rushing attack vs. Washington's defense

The Redskins are rarely mentioned as one of the best run defenses, but they rank near the top of the league in several categories. They've allowed just seven rushing touchdowns and 4.1 yards per carry. The opposing team's leading rusher has averaged 52.0 yards per game over the past five weeks.

• Number to know: 240 -- The number of times opponents have run the ball against the Redskins this year, tied for fewest in the league with Houston.

• Who to bench: In the first meeting between these teams, New York gained just 3.4 yards per carry, and Ahmad Bradshaw managed just 43 yards on the ground. Bradshaw will have the backfield mostly to himself this week, but that doesn't mean he'll please fantasy owners.

Baltimore's passing attack vs. Pittsburgh's defense

Maybe Pittsburgh's offense is falling apart, but not the defense. It has ranked No. 1 against the pass for much of the year (165.7 yards a game), and is the only unit giving up fewer than 6.0 yards per passing attempt. Opposing passers are completing 56.0 percent of their attempts for a QB Rating of 77.7.

• Number to know: 79 -- The most yards an opposing receiver has gained in Pittsburgh's last 10 games.

• Who to bench: Sit Joe Flacco and consider sitting Torrey Smith if you have other options. Smith caught just one pass for seven yards in the Week 11 meeting with Pittsburgh.

Tampa Bay's rushing attack vs. Denver's defense

The Broncos' front seven is not without flaws (or the occasional poor performance) but most weeks it has been one of the league's best. It is one of nine units allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards a game, and Denver has allowed just four carries of 20 or more yards and no carries of 40-plus yards.

• Number to know: 3.6 -- The average number of yards Denver's defense has allowed per carry, tied for second in the league.

• Who to bench: Sorry, Doug Martin lovers, but this could be a week to forget. The rookie back has been productive but inconsistent. He gained just 50 yards against a so-so Atlanta run defense last week, and gained 68 yards on 19 carries against a good San Diego unit two weeks before.