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Oct. 23, 2006
Oct. 23, 2006

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Oct. 23, 2006

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Sit 'Em

DON'T LIKE THE MATCHUP

QUARTERBACK

This is an article from the Oct. 23, 2006 issue Original Layout

MICHAEL VICK
Falcons VS. Steelers
For all its struggles, Pittsburgh still has a Super Bowl defense--one thataverages three sacks a game and nearly pitched a shutout against K.C. lastweek. Combine that with Vick's erratic play, and that's enough reason to benchthe QB. He's had only two games that have met a starter's standards.

DAMON HUARD
Chiefs VS. Chargers
Here's a reminder about substitute waiver-wire QBs: Use them if you must, butalways go back to your starter. Surely a few owners benefited from Huard'searly hot hand (four TDs and one interception in his first three starts). Butthe Steelers cooled him off, and the Chargers allow just 146.8 passing yardsper game.

BRETT FAVRE
Packers AT Dolphins
You never know which Favre you'll get in '06: the one who torched New Orleansand Detroit for three TDs apiece or the one who went scoreless with two picksagainst both Philly and Chicago. Bet on the latter in Miami. Nick Saban teachestough D, especially among his speed rushers.

RUNNING BACK

MAURICEMORRIS
Seahawks VS. Vikings
It appears that Shaun Alexander is going to miss at least two more weeks, butMorris is nowhere close to being a suitable replacement (109 yards with noscores in two starting assignments). Plus, Minnesota ranks fourth against therush, allowing only 74.4 yards per game.

WILLISMCGAHEE
Bills VS. Patriots
New England held McGahee to 70 yards and no TDs when these teams met on openingday. The last time the Bills hosted the Pats, he ran eight times for threeyards. McGahee has reached the end zone only once this year and hasn't scoredagainst an AFC East foe in Buffalo's last seven divisional games.

CHESTERTAYLOR
Vikings AT Seahawks
In one of the season's most intriguing matchups, left guard Steve Hutchinsonreturns to Seattle to face the interior defenders he practiced against everyday last season. Hutchinson will ensure that Taylor won't be completely shutout, but his numbers will be below his 84.2 yards per game.

WIDE RECEIVER

KEYSHAWNJOHNSON
Panthers AT Bengals
Who said Carolina needed more than one wide receiver? Since returning from abad hammy, Steve Smith has stepped up his game (189 yards and a TD in lastSunday's win over Baltimore). Meanwhile Johnson has pulled a vanishing act.Expect even less than his Week 5 output (five balls, 46 yards).

NATEBURLESON
Seahawks VS. Vikings
If Nate the Not So Great could switch sidelines, he probably would. He was astarter in Minnesota, but as a Seahawk he's third or fourth on the depth chartand hasn't reached 45 receiving yards in a game. Burleson's a huge stretch as astarting wideout even if Bobby Engram doesn't return from injury.

HINES WARD
Steelers AT Falcons
Before each game Atlanta cornerback DeAngelo Hall promises to deliver two picksand a TD. Once it starts, he shuts down receivers like Ward, who'll get thesame treatment Hall gave to the Giants' Plaxico Burress (four catches, 44yards). Ward hasn't topped 60 yards in a game yet. Give him a breather.

TIGHT END

KELLENWINSLOW
Browns VS. Broncos
Winslow leads all tight ends with 30 catches and is one of the toughestreceivers across the middle. However, he has to line up against a stiflingBroncos defense that has surrendered just one touchdown pass in five games.That TD was thrown by a quarterback who's a far cry from Charlie Frye: two-timeSuper Bowl MVP Tom Brady.

KICKER

LAWRENCETYNES
Chiefs VS. Chargers
Tynes has been hindered by a K.C. offense that has been Jekyll-and-Hyde allseason. The Chiefs have laid out weak defenses such as Arizona's and SanFrancisco's (11 points for Tynes against each) and have lain down to good oneslike Denver's and Pittsburgh's (seven points total). Given that history, Tyneswon't get many chances versus San Diego.

DEFENSE

BENGALS VS.PANTHERS
Ever since Steve Smith's return in Week 3, the Panthers have been on fire,stringing together a four-game winning streak and ransacking the vaunted Ravensdefense for 365 passing yards and two TD passes while allowing one sack. Theball hawking Bengals should get a pick or two from the slinging JakeDelhomme.

BEWARE OF BUST

LARRYJOHNSON
RB CHIEFS
VS.
Chargers

In Week 16 lastyear Johnson ran wild against the Chargers' defense and crafted a fantasticfantasy stat sheet: 32 rushes for 131 yards, four receptions for 48 yards andtwo TDs. The Chiefs' 20--7 win caused the Bolts to miss the playoffs andcertified LJ's status as a No. 1 fantasy draft pick. But in 2006 San Diego'sdefense is third against the run (71.6 yards per game) and has allowed only onerushing TD (to Pittsburgh's Willie Parker, who ranks third in the NFL in thatcategory). Last Sunday the Chargers' defensive front stopped the 49ers' FrankGore, who had entered the game tied for the league lead in total rushing yards,holding him to 55. If Johnson is to enjoy a replay of last year's performanceagainst the Chargers, he'll have to improve on his effort against Pittsburghlast week. Over 15 carries he averaged only 1.7 yards, not what you wouldexpect from a No. 1 draft pick.

FISH OR CUTBAIT?

JAMAL LEWIS

RB RAVENS

Those of you whodrafted Jamal Lewis as a starter gambled that he'd resemble the player who ranfor 2,066 yards and 14 TDs in 2003, not the one who scored three TDs and gained906 yards last year. No such luck. Through six weeks he has run for one TD and58.6 yards per game, which puts him on pace for 938.6 yards. All told, Lewishas reached the end zone 11 times in his last 33 games--not the kind of scoringpunch demanded of a featured back. Hold on to him until Musa Smith becomes theRavens' starter, but don't expect anything more than what you'd get from afantasy reserve.

WEEK 7 INJURY WATCH

AHMAN GREEN
RB Packers (hamstring)

DONALD DRIVER
WR Packers (ribs)

DANTE HALL
WR Chiefs (hip)

JASON WITTEN
TE Cowboys (hamstring)

For the latest injury news, go toSI.com/football/nfl/injuries.

BYE WEEK 49ers, Bears, Rams, Ravens, Saints, Titans

PHOTOG. NEWMAN LOWRANCE/WIREIMAGE.COM (L. JOHNSON)PHOTOBILL FRAKES (VICK)PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (FAVRE)PHOTOROBERT BECK (MORRIS)PHOTOBRUCE KLUCKHOHN/US PRESSWIRE (TAYLOR)PHOTOAL MESSERSCHMIDT/WIREIMAGE.COM (K. JOHNSON)PHOTOJASON BRIDGE/US PRESSWIRE (WARD)PHOTOSTEVE LEVIN/WIREIMAGE.COM (DRIVER)PHOTOJOHN SOMMERS II/ICON SMI (WINSLOW)PHOTODENNY MEDLEY/ICON SMI (TYNES)PHOTOAL MESSERSCHMIDT/WIREIMAGE.COM (LEWIS)