Fantasy player matchups: Graham should produce

By Kyle Fisher

Good Matchups

Earnest Graham vs. ATL

Graham has provided some stability in the Buccaneers running game. Last week he had 137 combined yards and a touchdown against Arizona and has averaged 133.3 total yards in his last three games. The Falcons are 23rd against the run, allowing 121.2 yards per game. Look for Graham's solid play to continue.

Derek Anderson vs. BAL

Anderson came out of nowhere to be one of the better fantasy quarterbacks this season. In his first matchup against the Ravens earlier this year, he threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens have struggled mightily against the pass in their last two games, surrendering 274 yards to Carson Palmer and five touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger. With the Ravens' strength being run defense, look for Anderson and the Browns to move the ball through the air.

Ryan Grant vs. CAR

Grant had a great game against one of the premier run defenses last week, gaining 119 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. The Packers had struggled running the ball, but since Grant was inserted into the lineup, the Packers have improved tremendously. The Panthers have had trouble stopping the run, especially lately, allowing almost 120 yards per game on the ground in their last three games. Look for the Packers defense to play well against Carolina, giving Grant plenty of opportunities to run the ball.

Jackson was seen as a possible MVP candidate in fantasy at the beginning of the season. But injuries and poor line play have stopped Jackson and ruined both the Rams' and Jackson's season to this point. This week he gets a break as he plays against a team he has dominated in his career. Jackson has averaged almost 140 yards per game in his career against the 49ers. The 49ers defense is 25th against the run, surrendering almost 125 yards per game. The Rams have begun to get healthy and have shown signs of life on offense, scoring 57 points in their last two games, and we see Jackson beginning to turn his season around this week.

Frank Gore vs. STL

Gore, like Jackson, is another preseason fantasy MVP candidate whose numbers haven't met expectations. For Gore, injuries and a lackluster passing game have slowed down one of last season's best fantasy running backs. Gore has a good matchup this week as he plays a Rams run defense that surrendered two touchdowns to him earlier this season and that has given up the third-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL. Gore has averaged 102.5 yards per game and 1.5 rushing touchdowns in his last four games. Expect the 49ers to give the ball to Gore early and often.

LenDale White vs. DEN

White is battling a sore toe and injured knee but expects to play against Denver on Monday. The sore toe, plus the fact that the Titans fell behind early, limited White to just eight carries for 12 yards last week against a tough Jaguars defense. This week, White gets to run against the 31st-ranked run defense in the Broncos, who are allowing 151 yards per game on 4.8 yards per carry. As long as White doesn't get re-injured or the Titans don't fall too far behind, look for White to again get 25-plus carries and be productive for fantasy owners.

Chester Taylor vs. OAK

With Adrian Peterson out this week, Taylor will start and face a Raiders defense that is 29th against the run, surrendering 144.2 yards per game and a league-high 13 rushing touchdowns. While Taylor is not Peterson, he is averaging more than five yards a carry this season and should be very productive running behind one of the better run blocking units in football.

Edgerrin James vs. CIN

The Edge has been quiet recently, running for just 75 yards in his last two games. This should change against a Bengals defense that is giving up 135 yards per game on 4.7 yards per carry, the worst run defense James has faced all season. Look for Edge to break out and potentially have his best rushing game of the season.

Packers Defense vs. CAR

The Packers have been solid on defense all season and last week shut out the Vikings. This week, they match up against a Panthers offense whose season was essentially over when quarterback Jake Delhomme was lost for the year. The Panthers don't have a reliable quarterback and have scored just 27 points in their last three games. Expect their struggles to continue.

Bad Matchups

Thomas Jones vs. PIT

With all the talk about how bad the Jets have been, one might be surprised that Jones is 11th in the NFL in rushing with 606 yards. However, Jones has yet to score a rushing touchdown and that will be difficult against a Steelers team that has yielded just two rushing touchdowns while ranking first in the league against the run. Look for Jones to struggle mightily this week.

Steve Smith vs. GB

Smith's status as an elite receiver was lost when Jake Delhomme went down for the season. Smith had four touchdowns and 271 yards in two full games with Delhomme this season. However, Smith has not been the same with David Carr, Vinny Testaverde or Matt Moore throwing him the ball. He has just 94 yards with no touchdowns in his last three games, and we don't see that changing against a good Packers secondary.

Joey Harrington/Byron Leftwich vs. TB

Statistically, Harrington is having his best season in the NFL. He had an efficient game last week, throwing for 192 yards and a touchdown. Byron Leftwich might start, but he is still dealing with ankle injury. This week, Harrington, if he doesn't sit in favor of Leftwich, faces one of the NFL's better pass defenses. The Bucs are third in pass efficiency allowed (70.9), third in yards allowed (173 per game) and have given up the fewest passing touchdowns in the NFL (6). Expect a tough day for whichever Atlanta quarterback starts.

Kevin Jones vs. NYG

Jones had three solid games in a row before last week's minus-4 yard performance against Arizona. Jones aggravated a foot injury last week but does not appear on the Lions injury report at press time. This week, Jones matches up against a Giants defense that is not only ninth in the NFL against the run but also has challenging corners. Look for John Kitna and Co. to go to a more pass-oriented offense to attack the Giants, limiting Jones' touches in the running game.

Travis Henry/Selvin Young vs. TEN

At press time, Henry was still battling a knee injury and had not practiced. Whoever gets the majority of carries will have a tough task against a Titans defense that ranks fourth in the NFL against the run. It looks as though Albert Haynesworth will play for the Titans, which makes this a poor matchup for either Henry or Young. Without Haynesworth, the Jaguars gashed the Titans for 166 yards last week. With Haynesworth in the lineup, the Titans are giving up less than 70 yards a game.

Washington Defense vs. DAL

The Cowboys have almost become the Patriots of the NFC as far as offense is concerned. They simply have too many weapons to play against a fantasy defense. Last week against a hot Giants defense, the Cowboys put up 31 points while the Redskins defense surrendered 379 total yards and four touchdown passes to the Eagles. Expect Tony Romo and the rest of the Cowboys' weapons to have a good day against the Redskins.

Cedric Benson vs. SEA

In a very good matchup for Benson last week he had 72 yards and a touchdown but averaged a measly 2.6 yards per carry. This week Benson is facing the NFL's 10th-ranked run defense in Seattle, which looked very good on Monday night in shutting out the 49ers and has allowed just 12.2 points in five home games this season. With Rex Grossman back at the controls for the Bears this may be a game where Benson is not the only Bear who struggles on offense.

Kansas City Defense vs. IND

Peyton Manning had his worst game in recent memory with his performance against the Chargers last Sunday. However, that was in San Diego where the elements were against him. Now the Colts are back home, and at press time Dallas Clark looks like he might be available. Look for the Colts to bounce back and have a big offensive performance in a place where they have averaged 33 points a game this season.

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