Fantasy matchups: Garrard, Grant could shine in Week 14

By Derick Moss

THURSDAY

Chicago at Washington
8 pm., NFL Network

SCOUTING THE BEARS

Suit 'em up: Rex Grossman has been better in his second go-around as the starter this season and faces the league's 17th-ranked pass defense. Bernard Berrian didn't have a great game last week, but he's targeted deep each game and seems to have a good relationship with Grossman. Adrian Peterson is a solid No. 2 option and is definitely fun to watch.

Sit 'em down: Desmond Clark has had two big weeks in a row, and Greg Olsen has been quiet. A few weeks before this, it was the other way around. Neither can be trusted as a fantasy starter, and neither can the Bears defense.

SCOUTING THE REDSKINS

Suit 'em up: The once-mighty Bears defense is now 25th against the pass and 27th against the rush, but the Redskins are a team in a fog since the death of Sean Taylor. That said, Jason Campbell had been pretty good until last week, and Chris Cooley is a must-start. Clinton Portis is a little banged up, but should be a decent second option.

Sit 'em down: Antwaan Randle El is hurting and should be benched. Desperate for a receiver? Keenan McCardell will get some playing time this week, but is only a bench option.


SUNDAY

St. Louis at Cincinnati
1 pm. FOX

SCOUTING THE RAMS

Suit 'em up: Normally, you'd start everyone against the Bengals. But Marc Bulger (concussion) hadn't been cleared to play as of Thursday, and Gus Frerotte is out for the season, meaning it could be Brock Berlin. Either way, Steven Jackson will get his fair share of carries.

Sit 'em down: As stated, the Rams QB situation is in flux, so stay away from all the QBs and receivers, with the exception of Torry Holt, with whom you should temper your expectations.

SCOUTING THE BENGALS

Suit 'em up: The Rams defense isn't quite as bad as you might think (20th against pass, 19th against run), but Carson Palmer, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson are safe bets, while Chris Henry is a good flex play.

Sit 'em down: Rudi Johnson is back getting the majority of carries, but he's still no better than a low-end second option. Kenny Watson, however, should be benched. Watch the weather here, too, as it could get ugly.

Dallas at Detroit
1 p.m., FOX

SCOUTING THE COWBOYS

Suit 'em up: Barring some sort of off week no one sees coming, Dallas could win this one in the first half. The usual suspects (Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Jason Witten, Marion Barber) are all good plays, while Patrick Crayton might be a low-end No. 2 receiver.

Sit 'em down: Julius Jones hasn't topped 67 yards all season and has just two touchdowns. Other than that, it's bombs away!

SCOUTING THE LIONS

Suit 'em up: With Detroit's Roy Williams out for the season, Calvin Johnson moves into the starting lineup and is a good No. 2 play this week, as is Mike Furrey, with Shaun McDonald a flex option. Jon Kitna might be playing catch-up all day, meaning he might throw it 40 times.

Sit 'em down: In that same vein, consider benching (or at least downgrading) Kevin Jones, who had a tough week last time out and faces a decent Dallas rushing defense.

Oakland at Green Bay
1 p.m., CBS

SCOUTING THE RAIDERS

Suit 'em up: Justin Fargas has been tremendous, and will face the 12th-ranked run defense this week. He's a good option if he gets 25 touches, which he almost certainly will. Zach Miller has had four nice games in a row and should be targeted plenty Sunday.

Sit 'em down: Josh McCown looks like the starting quarterback, and Andrew Walter could back him up since JaMarcus Russell has never played in snow. Take a pass on the entire Raiders passing game this week.

SCOUTING THE PACKERS

Suit 'em up: The Packers could have a tougher game than you'd expect, but Ryan Grant will have a field day against the Raiders' 30th-ranked run defense. Greg Jennings is too hot to sit, with 10 touchdowns this season.

Sit 'em down: Well, you might not sit him, but downgrade Brett Favre. He's pretty banged up and probably wouldn't play if a) he were any other quarterback in the league and b) backup Aaron Rodgers hadn't pulled a hamstring in practice. Plus, the Raiders are fifth against the pass. Need more evidence? The high on Sunday in Green Bay is supposed to be 23 degrees, with snow and wind. This looks like a 17-10 game.

Miami at Buffalo
1 p.m., CBS

SCOUTING THE DOLPHINS

Suit 'em up: The only Dolphin worth starting, Jesse Chatman, might be a game-time decision. Pick up Lorenzo Booker if you can, because he's got very good speed, can catch the ball out of the backfield and might be a sneaky No. 2 or flex option. Samkon Gado might get carries if Chatman's out, but he's a low-end flex play at best.

Sit 'em down: You've got to do better than John Beck in your playoff matchup this week. Or Ted Ginn Jr. Or Marty Booker. Or Sammy Smith, or Jimmy Cefalo or Don Strock.

SCOUTING THE BILLS

Suit 'em up: Marshawn Lynch might miss Sunday's game (it's not official yet), but his backup, Fred Jackson, would be a No. 2 option if he gets a start against the league's worst run defense.

Sit 'em down: Trent Edwards has one touchdown pass and five picks, and the weather might be more conducive to running the ball this week. So sit him and consider Lee Evans a flex play.

Tampa Bay at Houston
1 p.m., FOX

SCOUTING THE BUCCANEERS

Suit 'em up: Is Earnest Graham a No. 1 running back? For this week, yes, as he's facing the 25th-ranked rush defense and the quarterback situation is a bit in flux. Joey Galloway is a classic feast or famine fantasy player.

Sit 'em down: Jeff Garcia (back) says he'll play, but the Texans pass rush (particularly Mario Williams) will tee off on him, especially if his back limits his mobility. Luke McCown would actually be a safer play if he's named the starter this week, but no more than a No. 2 quarterback.

SCOUTING THE TEXANS

Suit 'em up: Sage Rosenfels starts this week, but faces the fourth-ranked pass defense. Andre Johnson, however, is just too physically imposing for any cornerback in the league. Ron Dayne's nice run could continue this week if the Texans can keep it close -– and every Bucs game seems to be close.

Sit 'em down: Ahman Green is trying to play, but he shouldn't be in your lineup even if he comes back. Kevin Walter and Andre Davis have lost most of their value since Johnson's return, though Owen Daniels might be a low-end No. 1 option.

San Diego at Tennessee
1 p.m., CBS

SCOUTING THE CHARGERS

Suit 'em up: Albert Haynesworth is getting healthy again, but LaDainian Tomlinson is a must-start every week. This Titans defense can be very tough, however, so don't expect four touchdowns. Antonio Gates is also a must-start and will be better than he was last week (one catch).

2007 NFL Network Schedule

  • Dec. 6: Chicago at Washington
  • Dec. 13: Denver at Houston
  • Dec. 15: Cincinnati at San Francisco
  • Dec. 20: Pittsburgh at St. Louis
  • Dec. 22: Dallas at Carolina
  • Dec. 29: New England at N.Y. Giants

Sit 'em down: Philip Rivers is inconsistent and this is a tough matchup for him. Take the Chargers passing game down a notch this week, meaning Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson are only flex options.

SCOUTING THE TITANS

Suit 'em up: His team hasn't been winning like he'd hoped, but Vince Young is playing well and is finding his groove in the passing game, making him a good option against the 22nd-ranked San Diego pass defense. Justin Gage is averaging 5.5 catches and 80 yards per game in his last four, coinciding with Young's hot streak. Take a chance on Gage.

Sit 'em down: LenDale White has a bad shoulder and hand, and won't get back to his 100-yard ways any time soon. In fact, Chris Brown's a better fantasy play, and he's only a flex option.

Carolina at Jacksonville
1 p.m., FOX

SCOUTING THE PANTHERS

Suit 'em up: The Panthers (finally) found all kinds of ways last week to get the ball to their best player, Steve Smith, including lining him up at quarterback. He's a No. 2 receiver going forward, though his quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, is a low-end No. 2 quarterback.

Sit 'em down: DeShaun Foster is a little dinged up. He'll likely play Sunday, but he's a bad option against the No. 8 run defense. DeAngelo Williams has more ability and upside, but he's no option unless Foster is out.

SCOUTING THE JAGUARS

Suit 'em up: David Garrard is facing the league's 10th-ranked pass defense, but he's been so good lately, he can still be a low-end No. 1 quarterback, especially since the Panthers offense won't control the ball much. Maurice Jones-Drew is a little better fantasy play than Fred Taylor, but both may be No. 2 options against Carolina's 17th-ranked run defense. Marcedes Lewis has been very good lately, and the Panthers always struggle against tight ends. The Jags defense is also a great play this week.

Sit 'em down: Even though Ernest Wilford is emerging as the go-to receiver, Garrard spreads the ball around so well none of the receivers can be trusted with more than a flex start.

New York Giants at Philadelphia
1 p.m., FOX

SCOUTING THE GIANTS

Suit 'em up: The Giants are banged up everywhere on offense. The Eagles are only 19th against the pass, but Eli Manning is not a No. 1 quarterback right now, and only Jeremy Shockey is a must-start. If Reuben Droughns is available in your league, snag him now (and think about joining a tougher league next year). Brandon Jacobs will be a late-week decision.

Sit 'em down: After a terrific start, Plaxico Burress has only one touchdown and one game with more than 50 yards in his last six games (both came against Minnesota). He's really hurting and might be just a flex option if you're deep at receiver. Check Jacob's status, but the Eagles are ninth against the run, so he might not be worth starting even if he plays.

SCOUTING THE EAGLES

Suit 'em up: Brian Westbrook is probably the most valuable back in fantasy football, and should be started even against the Giants' No. 5 run defense. Donovan McNabb is likely back this week, and he'll face a secondary missing two safeties and banged up at cornerback. L.J. Smith might be a No. 1 option considering those safety problems.

Sit 'em down: While Kevin Curtis is a low-end option, Reggie Brown nor any other Philly pass-catcher is worth starting. Correll Buckhalter looked sharp last week, but he's only a backup; let's not get carried away.

Arizona at Seattle
4:05 p.m., FOX

SCOUTING THE CARDINALS

Suit 'em up: The good news? Kurt Warner lost the brace on his left elbow. The bad? Anquan Boldin (toe) and Larry Fitzgerald (groin) are both injured and should be monitored. Even worse? Seattle is 14th against the pass. Consider Warner a No. 2 option and maybe Leonard Pope and Bryant Johnson sneaky second options.

Sit 'em down: Edgerrin James bounced back with 114 yards last week, but that was against Cleveland. Seattle's 14th-ranked run defense is more of a challenge, though James' previous 100-yard game came in Week 2 against the Seahawks.

SCOUTING THE SEAHAWKS

Suit 'em up: Matt Hasselbeck is a No. 1 option this week against the 24th-ranked pass defense of Arizona, while Bobby Engram might get a slight edge over Deion Branch. With D.J. Hackett out again, Nate Burleson is a flex option.

Sit 'em down: Yes, Shaun Alexander scored last week, but Maurice Morris looked like the better runner. Still, coach Mike Holmgren will probably give Alexander four times as many touches as Morris, whom you can bench. Alexander is a low-end No. 2 option against a solid (11th) Cardinals run defense.

Minnesota at San Francisco
4:05 p.m., FOX

SCOUTING THE VIKINGS

Suit 'em up: Well, Adrian Peterson didn't take long to regain his form, and he'll be a force against the weak Niners defense. Need a quarterback? Tarvaris Jackson is playing better than ever (though he's no more than a second option), and Sidney Rice should merit some consideration as a flex option at wide receiver.

Sit 'em down: Bobby Wade has been the primary receiver for much of the year, but he has just one touchdown. Troy Williamson seems like a bust all the way around, and he might not even play Sunday, to boot.

SCOUTING THE 49ERS

Suit 'em up: This is a team in real trouble, as last week's debacle in Carolina would confirm. Minnesota is last in the league against the pass, but it's been better lately (ask Eli Manning). Take a chance on Vernon Davis, and consider Arnaz Battle a low-end second option (consecutive games with a TD), but don't waste your time with Trent Dilfer, who'll probably throw his fair share of interceptions this week.

Sit 'em down: Frank Gore is usually the Niners' only fantasy option, but this week he has a tough matchup against the league's best rushing defense.

Pittsburgh at New England
4:15 p.m., CBS

SCOUTING THE STEELERS

Suit 'em up: They haven't exactly been great the last month, but the Steelers should give the suddenly human Patriots a game. If the Ravens can score on the Pats, so can the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger might be back as a No. 1 option this week, but Hines Ward is a second option if only because he'll have Asante Samuel on him. Santonio Holmes is a decent flex option, maybe even a low-end second receiver.

Sit 'em down: Willie Parker remains a decent play, but you'd hope he would have done better than 3.2 yards per carry in his last three games against the Jets, Dolphins and Bengals. And he still has just two touchdowns this year. The Pats watched Willis McGahee run wild on them, but they'll shore that up, one would think. Don't expect good yardage totals from the Steelers defense, either.

SCOUTING THE PATRIOTS

Suit 'em up: The Patriots pulled one out to beat Philly two weeks ago, but they were just plain lucky to beat Baltimore last week. Tom Brady and Randy Moss are, of course, No. 1 options, and Wes Welker is a No. 2 this week. If they lose, it will be because they give up at least 30 points, because this offense is going to score on everyone.

Sit 'em down: Laurence Maroney had his best game in months last week, but he isn't getting enough touches to be more than a flex option at this point. Heath Evans is vulturing goal-line runs from him, and Kevin Faulk is getting as many snaps as Maroney. None are recommended options this week.

Cleveland at New York Jets
4:15 p.m., CBS

SCOUTING THE BROWNS

Suit 'em up: Start 'em all. Derek Anderson, Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards are great plays this week, while Jamal Lewis is a second option and Joe Jurevicius is a flex play. Considering the Jets' injury woes, the Browns defense might be an OK (not great) option if you're desperate.

Sit 'em down: Hard to find Browns to sit this week, but hopefully you weren't counting on Josh Cribbs or Tim Carter.

SCOUTING THE JETS

Suit 'em up: Thomas Jones might find a seam and makes for a nice RB2 option. The Jets passing game is hamstrung, however, so take a look at Brad Smith as a potential flex option off the waiver wire.

Sit 'em down: With Laveranues Coles questionable and Jerricho Cotchery out, Kellen Clemens won't have many options, even against the Browns.

Kansas City at Denver
4:15 p.m., CBS

SCOUTING THE CHIEFS

Suit 'em up: Kolby Smith has looked great as a fill-in for Larry Johnson, and gets a solid matchup against a soft Broncos front seven this week. Tony Gonzalez should lead the team in catches again Sunday.

Sit 'em down: It could be Brodie Croyle, it could be Damon Huard. Who cares? Don't start either against the Denver cornerback tandem. Dwayne Bowe is no more than a flex option this week.

SCOUTING THE BRONCOS

Suit 'em up: Denver's backs are all healthy again, which means Travis Henry will be the top runner, followed by Selvin Young. Consider Henry a No. 2 running back against a weak and beaten up Chiefs run defense. Brandon Marshall is a solid second option despite the tough Chiefs secondary.

Sit 'em down: Jay Cutler has been wildly inconsistent, and faces the seventh-ranked pass defense on Sunday. Javon Walker has been nothing like his former self since returning from injury, so look elsewhere for receiving help.

Indianapolis at Baltimore
8:15 p.m., NBC

SCOUTING THE COLTS

Suit 'em up: Peyton Manning has snapped out of his mini-slump, and Reggie Wayne is a Top-5 wide receiver. Dallas Clark is a No. 1 option, and Ben Utecht is a No. 2.

Sit 'em down: You won't sit Joseph Addai, but downgrade him a notch against the Ravens, who are weaker against the pass than the run. Kenton Keith is a non factor this week, and Anthony Gonzalez is too streaky to be more than a flex play.

SCOUTING THE RAVENS

Suit 'em up: It's hard to see how Baltimore will recover after its Monday Night meltdown. But Willis McGahee is running extremely well and will get his fair share of carries against a suspect Colts run defense. Derrick Mason is a consistent winner in PPR leagues.

Sit 'em down: Kyle Boller will be tested by an underrated Colts secondary, and he has few deep threats at receiver. Todd Heap is a game-time decision, but he'll be a bad option against Bob Sanders and the quick Colts defense even if he plays.


MONDAY

New Orleans at Atlanta
8:30 p.m., ESPN

SCOUTING THE SAINTS

Suit 'em up: Drew Brees fares pretty well against the Falcons, and Marques Colston is just too good to sit, even if he is hounded by DeAngelo Hall all night. Devery Henderson is enough of a deep threat to be a nice flex play.

Sit 'em down: Go ahead and downgrade Reggie Bush, if you haven't already, but he's worth starting this week. David Patten, Lance Moore and Terrance Copper are not realistic options during a playoff run.

SCOUTING THE FALCONS

Suit 'em up: Chris Redman starts, and he's actually got a chance to be the best of the Falcons' bad quarterback trio this year. He also is the guy that can return Alge Crumpler to top-tier status. Coach Bobby Petrino has said this before, but he wants to get the ball to Jerious Norwood more. He certainly ought to. Take a chance on Norwood as a flex play. Roddy White is a fine No. 2 option, maybe even low-end No. 1 given the matchup.

Sit 'em down: If Norwood is going to get more touches, they'll come at the expense of Warrick Dunn, who might only be a flex option this week. Joe Horn's 38 yards receiving last week were a season high, if you can believe it. Stay far, far away.

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