By Kyle Fisher
LenDale White vs. KC
White got back in the good graces of fantasy owners with a 110-yard, one touchdown performance in last week's lost to the Chargers. The Chiefs are just 25th against the run and surrendered 156 yards last week to the Broncos Selvin Young. Look for the Titans to attempt to control the game on the ground with White getting the bulk of the carries.
McGahee struggled last week, netting just 45 yards against the Colts. Much of this stemmed from the Ravens being down early and having five turnovers. This week, the Ravens running back faces the NFL's worst run defense. The Dolphins have given up 155.4 yards per game and their 16 rushing touchdowns surrendered is the second worst in the NFL. Miami gave up 224 yards rushing last week so McGahee should have a field day.
Jamal Lewis vs. BUF
Lewis continued his bounce back season with 118 yards rushing and two touchdowns scored last week against the Jets. While the Bills have a poor all-around defense (18th against the run, 28th against the pass), weather could play a factor in this game. The forecast calls for snow showers for both Saturday and Sunday, so look for both teams to keep the ball on the ground and for Lewis to benefit.
It seems ages ago when Brees was a leading candidate for fantasy bust of the year. During his first four games this season, Brees was well on his way to winning that title. However, other than that guy in New England, perhaps no quarterback in the league has been hotter than Brees recently. In the last three weeks, Brees has thrown eight touchdowns and only one interception at an average of almost 256 yards per game. Arizona had has trouble stopping the pass as evidenced by its 24th-ranked pass defense and surrendering four touchdown passes to Matt Hasselbeck last week. With Reggie Bush done for the year, look for the Saints to rely on Brees and the passing game even more than they already have.
Earnest Graham vs. ATL
Graham ran for 102 yards and a touchdown in an earlier meeting this season against the Falcons, and with all of the off-field issues that have happened to team turmoil this week, it wouldn't surprise us if Graham had another big effort. The Falcons are just 27th in the league against the run and haven't slowed many teams this season. This game should be no different.
Ryan Grant vs. STL
Where did this guy come from? The hot name on a lot of sleeper boards this year was a Packers running back but his name was Brandon Jackson. Jackson has long since disappeared from the minds of fantasy owners, but Grant has become one of the hotter backs in the league. He torched the Raiders for a career-high 156 yards last week and faces a Rams unit that, while not as bad as the Raiders, still allows 115.7 yards per game on 4.3 yards per carry and gave up almost 100 yards to Rudi Johnson last week. We see Grant's magical ride continuing this week.
Rivers might have the best matchup for any quarterback who is not an obvious start. Rivers played poorly for a majority of the game against the Titans, but he played well when it counted and led the Chargers to victory. Rivers has certainly had a down year, but he has thrown six touchdown passes in his last three games and has his best matchup of the season against a Lions defense that gives up 266.8 yards per game and the second-most touchdowns passes (26). If you don't have stud quarterback starting for your roster, Rivers might be good for this week.
Vince Young vs. KC
Young reverted to the quarterback that many fantasy owners would consider the biggest bust of 2007. Young threw for just 121 yards and two interceptions in a loss to the Chargers. The overall matchup is not favorable for Young this week for several reasons. One, the Chiefs are much better against the pass than against the run. Therefore, expect a heavy dose of LenDale White. Second, and perhaps more important, the Chiefs do not have a dynamic offense likely to produce a big lead that in turn forces Young to pass to keep up. When Young has been productive in fantasy terms, the Titans have always been way behind. The Titans are content for Young to throw only when he absolutely has to, and that probably will not happen in this matchup.
Thomas Jones vs. NE
Jones was held to just 42 yards in a Week 1 loss to the Patriots. If the Partriots, as has been much speculated this week, run up the score it could limit Jones' production. Jones quietly has almost a 1,000 yards rushing, but his fantasy value is limited by just a single rushing touchdown. While the Patriots have struggled somewhat against the run recently, don't expect Jones to produce like Willie Parker or Willis McGahee.
Smith has had a down year due to the Panthers not having a quarterback. When Jake Delhomme went down in Week 3, Smith's season as a productive player was essentially over. Smith has not caught a touchdown since Week 6, and coincidentally that was his last 100-yard receiving game. Smith was having a Randy Moss-type season with Delhomme but has been an afterthought since Delhomme's injury. Kurt Warner threw for a lot of yards against the Seahawks last week but also threw five interceptions, and Carolina has no one on the roster with near the talent of Warner. The Seahawks are still the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense in passer rating allowed, so expect Smith to have a tough time getting the ball.
Clinton Portis vs. NYG
Portis has struggled in his last four weeks, averaging less than 50 yards a game. The Giants surrendered 60 yards and a touchdown to Portis in Week 3, but Portis has averaged just over 63 yards a game with two touchdowns scored in his last four meetings against the Giants. The Giants are seventh in the league against the run and have only allowed seven touchdowns rushing this season. Expect Portis' slump to continue at least for another week.
Edgerrin James vs. NO
James, much like Portis, has struggled lately. James has only one 100-plus yard rushing game since Week 2 and has averaged just 62.5 yards per game in his last six games with only two touchdowns scored. The Saints are eighth in the league against the run, allowing just 97.2 yards per game and six rushing touchdowns. In what could be an air-show between Drew Brees and Kurt Warner, James might not make much difference. While he used to be great pass-receiving back, James has caught only 16 passes this season.
Kolby Smith vs. TEN
Smith might have been a two-week flash in the pan. In an extremely favorable matchup against the Broncos last week he burned fantasy owners by gaining just 12 yards in 13 carries. This week, he faces a Titans defense that, while not the run-stopping force it was a month ago, is still a formidable unit as long as Albert Haynesworth is on the field. Smith's two productive games were against a below-average Chargers run defense and a terrible Raiders run defense. Expect Smith to find it tough going so long as Mr. Haynesworth is on the field.
Philadelphia defense vs. DAL
Philly has long been considered one of the NFL's better fantasy defenses. This season the Eagles have a decent-but-not-great defense that is in a tough spot against a Cowboys offense that would get all the publicity were it not for that team outside Boston. Dallas scored 38 points, had 435 yards with just one turnover and did not give up a sack in Philadelphia earlier in the season. We expect similar production from a Cowboy offense that is second only to the Patriots.