By Kyle Fisher
Gore is one of the many fantasy stars from last season who has struggled this season. Gore averages just 62.3 rushing yards per game and has scored just three rushing touchdowns. This week Gore has a nice matchup against a Falcons defense that ranks 23rd against the run, allowing 126.4 yards per game on 4.3 yards per carry. The schedule has not been Gore's friend as all but one of the defenses he has faced this season have ranked in the top-15 against the run. Gore gets a break this week and could have his best game of the year.
LenDale White vs. CAR
When the season began, White was a huge question for the Titans. Fast forward to mid-season and White is by far the most effective offensive player on the Titans roster. He is coming of consecutive 100-plus yard games and has a nice matchup against a Panthers defense that is 19th against the run and has surrendered seven rushing touchdowns. White has become the workhorse for the Titans with the injury to Chris Brown and Chris Henry being used as a change-of-pace back. Expect another 25-plus carries that should result in another 100-plus yard game for White.
While all the hype has surrounded fellow rookie running back Adrian Peterson, Lynch has quietly put together a nice season. He is 10th in the league in rushing and faces perhaps his best matchup of his young career. The Bengals rank 28th against the run, giving up 139 yards per game. With J.P. Losman returning as the starting quarterback for Buffalo, expect the Bills to use a heavy dose of Lynch.
Kevin Jones vs. DEN
Two weeks ago the Lions had no running game. Now, Jones has become a viable fantasy weapon again. In the last two weeks, Jones has 38 caries for 181 yards and two touchdowns with eight receptions. This week Jones plays a Broncos defense that is last in the league against the run and allowed 104 yards to Packers running back Ryan Grant. Expect the Lions to continue to run the ball more as John Kitna has been sacked more than any other quarterback in the league, and the Lions know Kitna must remain healthy for them to have a shot at the playoffs.
Since Javon Walker's injury, Marshall has been Jay Cutler's go-to-guy. Marshall quietly has three consecutive games of 70-plus yards receiving against three of the better defenses in the league (Chargers, Steelers and Packers). This week, he faces the 30th-ranked Lions pass defense that has allowed the third-most passing touchdowns (13) in the league and is giving up 258.3 yards per game. Look for Marshall to have a good day on the turf at Ford Field.
Rivers had one of the more efficient games from a quarterback all season last week. Despite completing just seven passes for 130 yards, Rivers threw three touchdowns. Expect Rivers to have a big day against a Vikings defense that is great against the run but last in the league against the pass, allowing 288.3 yards per game. While Rivers might not reach that total, he is worthy of a start this week.
Hasselbeck played well in his last two games, throwing for four touchdowns and more than 278 yards per game. The Browns have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, ranking 31st in yards allowed and tied for last in the league with 18 passing touchdowns allowed. With Shaun Alexander struggling, look for Hasselbeck to take advantage of the Browns through the air.
DeShaun Foster vs. TEN
Foster averaged less than 3.2 yards per carry in his last three games and clearly appears to be affected by the loss of starting quarterback Jake Delhomme. Don't expect things to get easier this week, as he faces the NFL's top-ranked run defense. The Titans allow just 64.3 yards per game on the ground with just three rushing touchdowns. Expect a long day for Foster.
Larry Johnson vs. GB
Johnson bounced back in the last two weeks, rushing for 100-plus yards and a touchdown in each game. However, these were against the Bengals and the Raiders, teams ranked 28th and 30th, respectively, against the run. This week Johnson is matched up against a Packers defense that is 11th in the league against the run, surrendering just 98.4 yards per game with only two rushing touchdowns allowed. Depending on your roster, Johnson may still be a starter, just don't expect the same production he has given you the last two weeks.
McGahee is having a nice bounce back season as is on pace to rush for more than 1,400 yards this season. However, this week he faces a Steelers defense that does not usually allow running backs to pad their stats. The Steelers give up just 77.7 yards per game, fourth in the league, and are No. 1 in rushing touchdowns allowed with one. McGahee has just one game of less than 75 yards rushing this season. This week could be the second.
Marion Barber III vs. PHI
Barber owners have to be frustrated as he is one of the more productive per-carry running backs in the league. However, he averages just 12 carries a game, which limits the damage he can do fantasy wise. Barber faces an Eagles team that he has struggled against and that plays good run defense. The Eagles are eighth in the league against the run, giving up just 90.4 yards per game and have surrendered just two rushing touchdowns. Last season, in two games, Barber carried 13 times for 25 yards and a touchdown. While it might not be that bad this season, this may be a week to find better options.
Derrick Mason vs. PIT
Mason has been valuable in point-per-reception leagues this season, as he is tied for second in the league with 56 catches. However, in his last four games against the Steelers, Mason has struggled, averaging just 4.5 catches per game for 46.5 yards per game and no touchdowns. Even in point-per-receptions leagues, Mason might struggle this week.
Roethlisberger is having his finest season in the NFL. He ranks fourth in touchdown passes with 15 and has the fourth-highest passer rating in the league among active quarterbacks. However, Roethlisberger has historically struggled against Baltimore. He has passed for more than 200 yards twice in five career meetings and has thrown seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. Because of bye week, fantasy owners might not have other options, but if you do, it's worth considering.
Denver Defense vs. DET
The Broncos are last in the NFL against the run, and while they are rank sixth against the pass, their quarterback rating allowed is the worst (106.3) in the NFL. It's also worse than every active quarterback except Tom Brady. The Broncos also have just six interceptions and are 19th in sacks with 14. Fantasy owners should be able to find better options this week.
Indianapolis Defense vs. NE
The Patriots are playing offense like most have never seen. While the Colts do have the NFL's top-ranked pass defense, expect it to be tested early and often by Tom Brady and company. Unless something drastically changes, like a major injury to Tom Brady, you simply cannot play the Indianapolis defense against the Patriots. That is just asking for trouble.