Fantasy matchups: Fargas, MJD should produce

By Derick Moss

As fall turns to winter, fantasy football analysis increasingly include weather reports.

It should already, anyway, but we're getting close to the time of year when snow and sleet can really impact games. And that's not to mention torrential rain. It can ruin a fantasy football day – ask anyone who watched the Steelers-Dolphins fiasco last Monday and waited for a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass.

But remember, it works both ways – it made the Dolphins defense a fantasy force for at least one weekend. On to the coming weekend (all times EST).


Green Bay at Dallas
8 p.m., NFL Network


Suit 'em up: On paper, this looks like a tough game for Green Bay. Brett Favre has lost all eight of his games in Dallas, but the Cowboys secondary is average, and Greg Jennings and Donald Driver seem to be safe plays.

Sit 'em down: Ryan Grant might be a low-end option this week against a stiff Dallas rushing defense, plus the game might be a shootout with few opportunities to run the ball. And this is a good week to look for another defense if you have the Packers.


Suit 'em up: Yes, Green Bay has two very good cornerbacks, but the Packers have allowed 15 passing touchdowns this season and the secondary is banged up at safety. Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Terrell Owens are great plays, and Patrick Crayton (ankle) might be a sneaky play, especially if Charles Woodson is limited or out.

Sit 'em down: Julius Jones is a fine bench player and insurance for Marion Barber, but he's no fantasy starter. Barber, by the way, projects as a second running back this week in terms of yardage, but his red-zone prowess makes him a solid starter.


San Francisco at Carolina
1 p.m., FOX


Suit 'em up: Run, don't walk, away from your TV set if this game is on. But start Frank Gore, who faces the league's 20th rushing defense, and Vernon Davis, who faces a team that historically struggles in defending the tight end.

Sit 'em down: Trent Dilfer might have been lights-out last week, but two weeks in a row is a lot to expect. This figures to be a very low-scoring game.


Suit 'em up: I can't really recommend any Panther as a starter. Steve Smith is a potential low-end option if Vinny Testaverde starts (check Sunday), Drew Carter is a low-end option as a third receiver and Jeff King can be a No. 2 tight end. But you'd better be in a deep league to consider them. The team's best player might be rookie linebacker Jon Beason.

Sit 'em down: The best news anyone could hope for is that DeAngelo Williams gets a few more carries this week in place of DeShaun Foster, who had minus-5 yards last week on nine carries. This offense proved last week against a shoddy Saints defense that it is absolutely terrible.

Buffalo at Washington
1 p.m., CBS


Suit 'em up: Two teams reeling. But if you're looking for a waiver-wire running back, Fred Jackson might be the Bills starter if both Marshawn Lynch (ankle) and Anthony Thomas (calf) are sidelined.

Sit 'em down: The Bills are going back to Trent Edwards at quarterback, but he's been only marginally better than J.P. Losman. Lee Evans has been swooning and could be in for another long day. Josh Reed is even less a fantasy threat – he might get a catch or two more, but lacks big-play ability.


Suit 'em up: In light of the tragic death of Sean Taylor, it's hard to know what to expect from the Redskins. They have lost three consecutive, and now the season could be getting away from them. But Buffalo is 29th against the pass and 23rd against the run, so Jason Campbell is a solid No. 2 quarterback, Chris Cooley is a top-notch TE and Clinton Portis is a high-end second running back.

Sit 'em down: Even though the Bills struggle against the pass, Redskins receivers Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El are both slowed by injury and too inconsistent to start.

Houston at Tennessee
1 p.m., CBS


Suit 'em up: Ron Dayne averaged 96 yards per game in the last three games, but his value is predicated on two things: The return of a healthy Albert Haynesworth to the Titans lineup (check Sunday) and the health of Ahman Green.

Sit 'em down: While Andre Johnson is too good to sit, Matt Schaub has been inconsistent lately, and the Titans are seventh against the pass. Owen Daniels might be a safer start, but you can do better than Kevin Walter.


Suit 'em up: Weird thing: Vince Young is passing as well as he ever has, averaging 269 in three games, but the team has lost all three. But this is a good matchup for him and Justin Gage, who's become his favorite target lately and is a decent second receiver.

Sit 'em down: LenDale White looked like he had turned the corner a few weeks ago, but he could split carries with Chris Brown this week. It's a good matchup, but until they sort the carries out, find other options.

Atlanta at St. Louis
1 p.m., FOX


Suit 'em up: As bad as the Rams have been, the defense is close to average – 12th against the pass and 19th against the run. Joey Harrington is a No. 2 quarterback option this week while Roddy White is a No. 2 option as well. Warrick Dunn has at least 70 total yards in four consecutive games, but doesn't see the end zone enough to be a great option.

Sit 'em down: The talk of Jerious Norwood being the most under-utilized talent in the NFL is getting old. Just bench him. There's also talk of Jason Snelling taking over as the short-yardage back, but ignore it – the Falcons are hardly ever at the goal line.


Suit 'em up: With Mark Bulger out, you can bet Steven Jackson is going to get the ball early and often against the league's 26th-ranked rush defense. It's possible the Rams might run it enough that even Brian Leonard might get enough touches to justify a play.

Sit 'em down: Gus Frerotte will start, which means Bulger owners are in trouble. Atlanta is actually eighth against the pass, and Torry Holt will be hounded by shutdown corner DeAngelo Hall, who talks a big game and usually backs it up.

Seattle at Philadelphia
1 p.m., FOX


Suit 'em up: Philly is 22nd against the pass (though it can rush the passer), so Matt Hasselbeck is a first-tier quarterback while both Deion Branch and Bobby Engram are second-tier quarterbacks in the wake of the D.J. Hackett injury.

Sit 'em down: Seattle is 3-0 since Maurice Morris took over for Shaun Alexander, but Alexander might be the healthier of the two this weekend. The seventh-ranked Eagles rush defense is too solid to take a chance on either Alexander or Morris this week.


Suit 'em up: Is Brian Westbrook the top fantasy running back? Probably. A.J. Feeley will be OK, if only because he'll throw a bunch of short passes to Westbrook. Take a flier on L.J. Smith if you need a tight end this week.

Sit 'em down: Reggie Brown finally caught his second touchdown pass of the year last week. He could be turning it around, but I still like Kevin Curtis a little better.

Detroit at Minnesota
1 p.m., FOX


Suit 'em up: Two teams headed in opposite directions. The Vikings are near the bottom of the league against the pass, but they owned the Giants' Eli Manning last week. Jon Kitna was effective against the Vikings in Week 2, but this might be a tougher matchup. Roy Williams is the top choice as a fantasy receiver, but Calvin Johnson might finally be the team's No. 2 receiving option. could this be his best game yet?

Sit 'em down: Minnesota leads the league in rushing defense, and it's no fluke. Kevin Jones might still be a second-tier running back because he catches passes, but he won't be a breakout player.


Suit 'em up: The team is playing much better these days, but fantasy plays are a question. Adrian Peterson returns this week, but could split carries with Chester Taylor, limiting both players' value. That said, they might both be No. 2 options. Sidney Rice has been hot lately and might be a low-end second choice.

Sit 'em down: Tarvaris Jackson played his best game of the season last week but only threw 12 passes. He has such a limited upside, he's too much of a risk at this point.

Jacksonville at Indianapolis
1 p.m., CBS


Suit 'em up: The Colts are 16th against the run (though they've given up only six rushing TDs), which should mean Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew (who ran for 100 yards against Indy twice last season) are No. 2 options.

Sit 'em down: David Garrard is efficient (no INTs in 209 attempts), but he faces the league's No. 2 pass defense. Reggie Williams has been productive lately, but is a No. 3 option at best.


Suit 'em up: Jacksonville's defense is 28th against the pass, but that's misleading – it's given up 11 touchdowns while picking off 14 passes. That said, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark are No. 1 options, and if you need a waiver wire tight end, try Ben Utecht.

Sit 'em down: Can Anthony Gonzalez put together consecutive strong weeks? He's probably a flex option, at best. Kenton Keith's value depends on Joseph Addai's, so check the latter's health late this week.

San Diego at Kansas City
1 p.m., CBS


Suit 'em up: LaDainian Tomlinson has been very good against the Chiefs rushing defense, and that should continue. Antonio Gates is over his midseason lull, so expect a good game.

Sit 'em down: Philip Rivers had a huge game last week, but the ninth-ranked Kansas City pass defense won't oblige. The same could be said for Vincent Jackson, who has been invisible since Chris Chambers came to town. Consider Chambers a flex play this week.


Suit 'em up: Kolby Smith won't run for 150 yards as he did last week, but San Diego's 21st-ranked rush defense will get a big dose of him. If you need a second quarterback in a pinch, Damon Huard might start if Brodie Croyle is indeed sidelined (it looks like he might be).

Sit 'em down: Dwayne Bowe is still a No. 2 receiver, but he probably won't duplicate his eight-catch, 154-yard game against the Chargers earlier this season. No other KC wideout is worth starting.

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
1 p.m., CBS


Suit 'em up: Sure, it's a lousy game, but these teams played a 31-28 game last time out, so fantasy points can be had. Thomas Jones could be in line for a big day against a bad Miami run defense and is a good bet to snap his scoreless streak.

Sit 'em down: It's true: Miami's defense is ranked third against the pass. Also true: The Dolphins have seen fewer passes thrown against them than any team in the league (that's what happens when opponents can play from ahead). Kellen Clemens wouldn't be a great start, anyway, and with both Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery banged up, he's got fewer options.


Suit 'em up: Lots of talk about Patrick Cobbs getting a potential start, but Jesse Chatman can't be ruled out yet. Check the lineup – whichever back starts is a must-play against the league's 31st-ranked rush defense.

Sit 'em down: John Beck has improved week to week and might even be a No. 2 option this time out, but don't expect too much. Ted Ginn hasn't quite developed the way we hoped, and Marty Booker has more value at this point. Then again, against the Jets defense, anything is possible.

Denver at Oakland
4:05 p.m., CBS


Suit 'em up: Denver faces a defense that's much better against the pass (fourth) than the run (32nd). The problem is, we don't know for sure who'll start in the backfield for Denver. Whomever it is (Selvin Young, Travis Henry, Andre Hall) is a nice play.

Sit 'em down: The Raiders are shutting down most passing games they face, so Jay Cutler's run as a first-tier quarterback is over, for this week anyway. Brandon Marshall is a No. 2 receiving option, but make Javon Walker make plays for a week before starting him. Tony Scheffler had a big game last week, but Oakland shut down Tony Gonzalez the last time out and figures to clamp down on Scheffler, too.


Suit 'em up: Justin Fargas is averaging nearly 100 yards a game, and Denver's 29th-ranked rush defense, while improving, gives him a prime matchup. Zach Miller is a high-end No. 2 play this week.

Sit 'em down: The team has averaged only 20 pass attempts in its three wins, so we can assume it wants Daunte Culpepper to throw as little as possible against the Broncos cornerbacks.

Cleveland at Arizona
4:05 p.m., CBS


Suit 'em up: Hard not to love the Browns offense these days, and it should move it through the air against the 20th-ranked Cardinals pass defense. Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow are all great starts, and Joe Jurevicius could even be a flex play.

Sit 'em down: Joshua Cribbs is a supreme special teams player but hasn't found his way into the offense yet. That's about it — the Browns are going to be in another shootout this week.


Suit 'em up: The Browns are 30th against the pass and have allowed a whopping 25 passing touchdowns, making Kurt Warner a first-tier play, despite his trips to the bench near the goal line. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are both be No. 1 receivers, and Bryant Johnson is a fine flex play.

Sit 'em down: Edgerrin James looks like he's taken a few too many hits, and now he's apparently lost goal-line carries to Marcel Shipp. This is too good a matchup to sit him, but he's a No. 2 play at best, maybe less.

Tampa Bay at New Orleans
4:15 p.m., FOX


Suit 'em up: Earnest Graham will get plenty of carries this week given the Bucs' problems at quarterback, and he's proving to be a low-end running back when given the chance. Joey Galloway has touchdowns in six consecutive games against New Orleans, so take a shot.

Sit 'em down: The Saints defense (unless it plays Carolina) is ineffective against the pass, but the Bucs might be starting Luke McCown at quarterback in place of an ailing Jeff Garcia, who's got a bad back. Even if Garcia starts, he's not going to be able to use his greatest asset – his mobility.


Suit 'em up: On-again, off-again New Orleans seems to be on-again. Reggie Bush got a chance to rest some this week after getting fewer touches than usual in a blowout of Carolina last week. Marques Colston has at least 85 yards receiving in five consecutive games and is a good play even though he'll be defended by Ronde Barber. This is a tough matchup for any quarterback, but Drew Brees is a decent play at home against anybody.

Sit 'em down: No Saints receiver other than Colston is consistent enough to consider, and Eric Johnson is splitting time with Billy Miller. Neither is a good play this week.

New York Giants at Chicago Bears
4:15 p.m., FOX


Suit 'em up: With Brandon Jacobs likely out again, Derrick Ward is the likely starter and will get a good matchup against the Bears' 27th-ranked rush defense. Reuben Droughns could get the goal-line carries, however, and is a flex play. Jeremy Shockey is a fine play against a team that's getting beaten by tight ends lately.

Sit 'em down: What to make of Eli Manning? He faces the 23rd-ranked pass defense, but he played an even worse one last week and threw four picks. Consider him a No. 2 option, but look for a better starter. Plaxico Burress has nursed a bad ankle all season, and now his knee is hurting, too.


Suit 'em up: Rex Grossman gets the start and will be a low-end No. 2 quarterback against the 11th-ranked passing defense. Bernard Berrian is quickly becoming the team's go-to receiver, especially with Grossman under center, and might be a No. 2 receiver.

Sit 'em down: Go ahead and play Adrian Peterson, but against the No. 8 rush defense, he shouldn't be more than a low-end second option or flex option. Muhsin Muhammad is having a bad year, and he isn't getting any younger.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
8:15 p.m., NBC


Suit 'em up: Something's got to give. The Bengals are the league's third-ranked passing attack going against the No. 1 pass defense. The return of Chris Henry has sparked the offense, and Carson Palmer is finally going downfield with authority. If the weather's decent, Palmer and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are No. 1 options, with Chad Johnson being a low-end No. 1 option and Henry a low-end No. 2 option.

Sit 'em down: Rudi Johnson? Kenny Watson? DeDe Dorsey? Only Watson figures to have much value this week, but it's best to stay away from them altogether.


Suit 'em up: The Steelers offense has sputtered lately, but the Bengals might cure that. Willie Parker torched them for 126 yards and a touchdown just five weeks ago, and will be a big threat again Sunday. Hines Ward had two touchdowns in that game, and with Santonio Holmes hurting, he'll be the top receiving threat again.

Sit 'em down: Holmes (ankle) might be a game-time decision, and his replacement, Nate Washington, is a flex option at best. Start the Steelers defense, but this won't be its highest-scoring week.


New England at Baltimore
8:30 p.m., ESPN


Suit 'em up: A lot of talk this week about the Eagles providing a blueprint for beating the Pats. Don't buy it. Start Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker every game.

Sit 'em down: What happened to Laurence Maroney? He scored his first touchdown last week, but he also sat on the bench the first half. The Patriots play about four running backs, and until they sort it out, none is more than a flex option, unless Maroney regains his prominent role.


Suit 'em up: Willis McGahee is having the best season few talk about. He's scored touchdowns in six consecutive games and has been very consistent. The Ravens will look to feed him plenty this week. Derrick Mason is on pace for 112 catches this year and is a great start in PPR leagues and a solid No. 2 option in most others.

Sit 'em down: Don't waste your time with Kyle Boller or any other Ravens offensive player. Baltimore has scored eight offensive touchdowns in five games, and McGahee has five of them. And this is not the week to start the Baltimore defense.

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