By Mike Beacom
December 20, 2012
Michael Turner has a good chance to score a rushing touchdown in his sixth straight game when he faces the Lions in Week 16.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Falcons have tried to nudge Michael Turner from the featured running back role; it just hasn't happened. Turner has been more reliable than Jacquizz Rodgers and is too valuable in short yardage situations. This week, Turner could bring back memories of past seasons with a big day against a suspect Lions defense.

Detroit's front wall may have recognizable names but it hasn't been effective in stopping the run. The Lions' run defense has given up 4.6 yards a carry and has been scored on 12 times.

? Number to know: 5 -- The number of rushing scores the Lions have allowed the past two weeks combined to Arizona and Green Bay -- two of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL.

? Expect a big day from: Turner may never again have a "huge" day for fantasy owners, but considering Atlanta should gain control of this game early, he might see enough work to produce his third 100-yard game of the season.

Play on

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

St. Louis' passing attack vs. Tampa Bay's defense

It's easy to pick on the Buccaneers because they have consistently failed to stop the pass this season. The secondary allows 310.6 yards a game -- 23.6 yards more than any other defense -- and ranks second to last in touchdown passes allowed (27). And no team has been thrown on as much as Tampa Bay (39.7 attempts per game).

? Number to know:8 -- The number of players who have caught at least one touchdown against the Buccaneers in the past three games combined.

? Expect a big day from: Danny Amendola looked sharp in his first week back from injury in Week 15 and should have another solid performance. Fantasy owners may also want to consider Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens as flex options; Gibson has been solid in back-to-back games (17 targets, 176 yards), while Givens' big-play ability could produce results against a defense giving up 8.1 yards per attempt.

Indianapolis' rushing attack vs. Kansas City's defense

Last week the Chiefs allowed two backs to have big days -- Oakland's Darren McFadden (110 yards) and Mike Goodson (89). Nothing new. The Chiefs give up an average of 136.4 rushing yards a game -- 27th in the NFL -- and 4.6 yards per carry.

? Number to know: 18 -- The number of runs of 20 or more yards the Chiefs defense has allowed this year, most in the league.

? Expect a big day from:The Colts are without Donald Brown and Delone Carter, and Mewelde Moore coughed up a key fumble last week. That leaves Vick Ballard, who will see plenty of carries this week in a game Indianapolis should put away early. Ballard is coming off his first career 100-yard game and has averaged 4.5 yards or better in four of his last five games.

Back off

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

Cleveland's rushing attack vs. Denver's defense

Over the past eight weeks, only one running back has gained more than 60 yards rushing against the Broncos. The list of those who have tried and failed includes Ray Rice, Darren McFadden and Doug Martin. Denver has given up just 3.6 yards per carry this season and ranks second in yards allowed per game (91.0).

? Number to know: 5 -- The number of rushing touchdowns that Denver has allowed this season, second fewest.

? Who to bench: It might be tough to stick Trent Richardson on the bench for fantasy crunch time, but at least consider this: His weekly rushing total has declined six straight weeks. Couple that with a tough Denver defense and you have something to think about.

Cincinnati's rushing attack vs. Pittsburgh's defense

There has been a lot to love about BenJarvus Green-Ellis lately, we know: Four 100-yard games and three touchdowns over the past five weeks. But his hot streak is about to be snapped. The Steelers have allowed just two 100-yard backs all season and rank fourth in yards allowed per game (92.7). Pittsburgh is one of six teams allowing fewer than 4.0 yards a carry.

? Number to know: 24.9 -- The average number of rushing attempts for Pittsburgh's opponents this year, tied with Chicago for sixth fewest.

? Who to bench: Let history help you decide. In four career meetings against the Steelers -- three with New England, one with Cincinnati -- Green-Ellis has averaged 3.9 yards without a touchdown.

San Diego's passing attack vs. New York Jets' defense

Both of these teams are in a funk, but at least the Jets have a defense that can keep them competitive in most contests. The pass defense has been particularly strong this season. It ranks among the top five in the league in completions allowed, yards per attempt, yards per game and QB Rating.

? Number to know: 54.5 -- The completion percentage of quarterbacks who have faced the Jets this season.

? Who to bench: Um, all of the above. Antonio Gates was once the league's most dominant tight end; now he's a fringe fantasy starter. Philip Rivers? No way. The only player worth putting in your lineup is Danario Alexander, and he was shut out last week by Carolina.

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