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Week 15 fantasy matchups


Here's a look at key fantasy matchups for Week 15:

Bengals at 49ers

The usually potent Bengals offense has played two straight bad-weather games, but it’s still safe to go with their key players, in this order: QB Carson Palmer, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (who has 96 receptions and 11 TDs), WR Chad Johnson and RB Rudi Johnson. You might get something from RB Kenny Watson. Interesting note: Yet another undrafted RB played well last week, as little-known Dede Dorsey, from Lindenwood College, had four carries for 81 yards.

As usual, the only San Francisco player worth playing is RB Frank Gore. But you have to remember that the 49ers rank last in the NFL at 13.2 points and 235.5 total yards per game. On top of that, they have third-string QB Shaun Hill making his first career NFL start -– although Hill did complete 22 of 27 attempts in a relief role last week.

Jets at Patriots

If there’s one thing you can do against New England, it’s run the football. So you can definitely get something out of RB Thomas Jones here. Remember: the Jets are the last team to beat New England at home (last season, of course).

For the Patriots, you can play all the skill guys. I like them in this order: QB Tom Brady, WR Randy Moss, WR Wes Welker, WR Jabar Gaffney – who has overtaken Donte Stallworth as the third WR option –- and RB Laurence Maroney.

Ravens at Dolphins

This is a tricky game because it's difficult to tell the mindset of either team -- Baltimore is reeling after its blowout loss at home to the Colts, and Miami is staggering along without a win all season. For Baltimore, I think the only guy you can play is RB Willis McGahee, who has played well in recent weeks.

I wouldn't touch anyone for Miami. QB Cleo Lemon gets the start here. If you're really desperate for a RB, you might take a flier on Samkon Gado, who had two TDs last week.

Bills at Browns

Both of these teams are hot –- they were a combined 1-5 after the first three weeks of the season, and all of a sudden this is a game with playoff implications for both. For Buffalo, I like both RBs, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, against a Cleveland defense that ranks 32nd overall. You might get something out of QB Trent Edwards and WR Lee Evans, but remember that wind could be a factor in Cleveland in December.

For the Browns, I think RB Jamal Lewis will have a big game here. I also like QB Derek Anderson, who has 26 TD passes, WR Braylon Edwards, who has 13 TDs, and TE Kellen Winslow.

Titans at Chiefs

For the Titans, the best play is RB LenDale White. Tennessee averages 133.5 rushing yards per game, and is third in the league with 15 rushing TDs. QB Vince Young is playing better of late but the game plan is still to run the ball here.

These teams combined for 87 points the last time they met, but that won’t happen here. Especially with a struggling Chiefs offense. They'll feature another undrafted rookie at RB, Gilbert Harris – but with DT Albert Haynesworth back in the lineup for Tennessee, don’t expect much. It's difficult to imagine anyone else for Chiefs doing well here.

Falcons at Buccaneers

The biggest question you have to ask is what the mood of the Falcons will be after the tumultuous week they've had. Regardless, they only average 14.2 points per game and rank 30th overall on offense. So I don’t know if there are any plays here.

That being said, the best play for Tampa Bay might be its defense. I also like QB Jeff Garcia, RB Earnest Graham and WR Joey Galloway.

Packers at Rams

The Packers have become a running team in recent weeks -– or at least a more balanced team –- so RB Ryan Grant might be the best play here. I like Green Bay's three WRs in this order: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and James Jones. QB Brett Favre is a must-start, but keep in mind that he’s lost two straight games at St. Louis, throwing three TDs and seven INTs in the process.

For St. Louis, I like RB Steven Jackson. I like WR Torry Holt, but only if QB Marc Bulger plays (and it looks as if he will).

Jaguars at Steelers

Jacksonville loves to run the ball, but it’s tough to run on Pittsburgh. They catch a slight break in that DE Aaron Smith went down with an injury, but the Jaguars still need to pass here in order to win. So I like QB David Garrard, and his main targets will be WRs Reggie Williams and Dennis Northcutt. With Smith gone, you still might get something out of RB Fred Taylor, who is having a great year, and Maurice Jones-Drew.

For Pittsburgh, I like QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Willie Parker (it’s difficult to run on the Jaguars, but they also suffered a key injury with the loss of DT Marcus Stroud), and WRs Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes.

Cardinals at Saints

This is a big game for both teams and it could be a shootout. For Arizona, I like these players in this order: QB Kurt Warner, RB Edgerrin James and WR Jerheme Urban (another undrafted rookie who had a big game last week). If WR Larry Fitzgerald plays, he shoots to the top of this list.

For the Saints, I like QB Drew Brees, and WRs Marques Colston and David Patten –- who has come on strong of late, plus RB Aaron Stecker. Note: New Orleans is the only team below .500 that has scored more points than they’ve allowed.

Seahawks at Panthers

QB Matt Hasselbeck has been tremendous since Seattle decided to be a pass-first team. Seattle passes almost 80 percent of the time now, so you can play its top receivers. With RBs Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris splitting the limited carries, it’s hard to expect much from them. Also, Seattle’s defense is a pretty good play here. In each of the last four weeks, the Seahawks have had either four takeaways or four sacks. They rank second in sacks for the season, and first in interceptions.

For Carolina, it looks like QB Vinny Testaverde is out. They might get a few catches out of WR Steve Smith, but the running backs haven’t done much in splitting the carries and you shouldn’t expect much here.

Colts at Raiders

I like the Colts’ skill players in this order: RB Joseph Addai, QB Peyton Manning, WR Reggie Wayne, TE Dallas Clark, and WR Anthony Gonzalez. Last week I liked Gonzalez to be the main receiving threat but this week it’s back to Wayne.

For Oakland, RB Justin Fargas is the only play. Keep in mind that Indianapolis will be without three defensive starters.

Lions at Chargers

You have to wonder what mood offensive coordinator Mike Martz is in this week, as he goes pass-heavy one week and run-heavy the next. You’d be rolling the dice here with RB Kevin Jones, who played well last week but hadn’t done much for several weeks prior. The best plays would be QB Jon Kitna and WRs Shaun McDonald and Calvin Johnson. Note: Kitna has been sacked 112 times in the last 29 games. In contrast, Peyton Manning has been sacked 29 times in his last 100 games.

For San Diego, I like QB Philip Rivers and TE Antonio Gates (especially after what Dallas TE Jason Witten did against Detroit last week). You have to play RB LaDainian Tomlinson, but remember that FB Lorenzo Neal is out and that could be a factor.

Eagles at Cowboys

Philadelphia RB Brian Westbrook is a solid play in what could be a high-scoring game. He’s getting more touches every week. QB Donovan McNabb has played well against the Cowboys –- he has 21 TD passes in 13 games. You might get something out of WR Kevin Curtis, and TE L.J. Smithy usually plays well against Dallas.

For Dallas, I like QB Tony Romo, who has had seven straight games with a passer rating of 100.0 or better. I also like WR Terrell Owens and TE Jason Witten. If the Eagles double Owens, then WR Patrick Crayton could have a big game. RB Marion Barber has 11 TDs -– nine rushing, two receiving.

Redskins at Giants

This is a pretty even matchup statistically. The Giants allow 96.1 rushing yards per game, but I still like RB Clinton Portis here, along with WR Santana Moss and TE Chris Cooley, whose 26 TDs since 2004 are the most of any NFC tight end in that time. QB Todd Collins makes his first start since Dec. 14, 1997.

For the Giants, QB Eli Manning plays well against Washington. I like RB Brandon Jacobs, but keep in mind he’s been fumbling lately. WR Plaxico Burress is coming on. Against a blitzing Redskins defense, this might be one of those games where TE Jeremy Shockey is blocking more than he’s out in the pass patterns.

Bears at Vikings

For Chicago, QB Kyle Orton starts for the first start since the 2005 season finale (also against Minnesota). Orton won nine of 11 games as the starter in 2005 and then was inactive all of 2006. The Bears are 31st in rushing and the Vikings lead the NFL in rushing defense, so Orton and WR Bernard Berrian are the only plays here.

For Minnesota, RB Adrian Peterson should have a big game. He's 17 yards short of the NFL rushing lead, and he averages 6.1 yards per carry. If he wins the rushing title and maintains that average, it would equal Barry Sanders' mark for the highest average per carry of an NFL rushing champ. QB Tarvaris Jackson has played well the last couple of games and has managed to hook up with WR Sidney Rice on some big plays.