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Ochocinco, Hasselbeck are strong starts in this week's matchups

Each week, Scott Engel of previews the key fantasy matchups in NFL games.

Washington at Chicago

The Bears are third in the NFL in rushing yards allowed with 84 yards per game, and Ryan Torain does his best work in short space, which does not bode well for the Washington RB. Torain is not elusive, and his physical style will not give him an advantage against the Bears' defensive line. Donovan McNabb will have to throw often, so expect quality production from Santana Moss, and Anthony Armstrong may have a breakthrough game as the Redskins will try to get the ball in his hands more often. McNabb is a sneaky play if you need an alternate QB option this week. The Bears will have their hands full with OLB Brian Orakpo, and Jay Cutler is in for another day of big hits and sacks. Cutler will still put up good numbers, though, as Washington ranks 31st in passing yards per game allowed. Johnny Knox should roll past the 100-yard mark, and Matt Forte will get some opportunities to finish off scoring drives with a TD run.

Cincinnati at Atlanta

The Falcons rank 25th in passing yards per game allowed, and without CB Dunta Robinson, the secondary becomes even more vulnerable. Carson Palmer is a strong bet to throw more than one TD pass, and Chad Ochocinco will seize the opportunity to get back on track. Terrell Owens is also a strong starting option, as the Bengals simply have too much balance in the passing game for the Falcons to handle. Cedric Benson may have to work hard for his yardage, yet will still get some short scoring opportunities. The Bengals allow 111 rushing yards per game, and will be heavily challenged by Michael Turner, who will be the obvious focal point of the Atlanta offense. The Falcons will emphasize ball control, and Matt Ryan will be careful against the Bengals' secondary. He'll still connect regularly with the unstoppable Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez will get open frequently as a result. Ryan is not a recommended starter, but he will get the ball in the hands of his playmakers when it counts.

Philadelphia at Tennessee

The Titans rank eighth in rushing yards per game and will not surrender yardage easily to LeSean McCoy. The Philadelphia RB has played too well to reserve him, but do not expect an outstanding performance. Kevin Kolb will face a ferocious Titans front seven and could be in for a long day, as he faces some consistently adverse passing situations. Jeremy Maclin will draw more defensive attention with DeSean Jackson out. Do not expect Maclin to enjoy another big day. The Eagles rank ninth in passing yards per game and have played the run well recently. This could be a lower-scoring affair as both teams flame out often on drives, and fantasy totals will be negatively affected. Still, there is no stopping Chris Johnson, and Kenny Britt is simply playing too well to justify reserving him.

Jacksonville at Kansas City

The Jacksonville QB issues will put a lot of defensive heat on Maurice Jones-Drew, who could frustrate his fantasy owners again with another less-than-stellar outing. Jones-Drew will have to battle hard for yardage and may be held out of the end zone. The Chiefs do rank 27th in passing yards allowed, yet it's difficult to envision the Jaguars moving the ball efficiently. Only TE Marcedes Lewis should get realistic starting consideration among the Jacksonville pass-catchers. The Jags are notoriously bad against the pass, and Matt Cassel is a strong starting option. He and Dwayne Bowe should continue to build on the momentum they established in Week 6. Tony Moeaki is one of the better fantasy TE starts of the week. A solid passing attack will open up some nice lanes for Jamaal Charles to exploit. Kansas City may build a big lead in this one, allowing Thomas Jones to carry often and build a solid statistical line in the second half.

Pittsburgh at Miami

The Dolphins allow 109.4 rushing yards per game, and the Steelers can use Rashard Mendenhall to effectively pound the ball. Pittsburgh does not want to overwork Ben Roethlisberger in what could be challenging conditions, as the heat often gives the Dolphins an underrated home field advantage. Roethlisberger will still make plays when he has to, and can add significantly to his numbers with one downfield connection to Mike Wallace, who has emerged as a must-start WR2. Roethlisberger will not post outstanding numbers, but he will not hurt his owners, either. Hines Ward and Heath Miller should get some red zone looks that can possibly boost their fantasy totals. The Dolphins will find the Pittsburgh run defense to be unforgiving, and Chad Henne will get hit often as he is forced to shoulder a large offensive load. Henne may be in for a long day and may have difficulty locating Davone Bess regularly. Still, Brandon Marshall presents matchup issues for any secondary and will catch enough balls to contribute adequately to any fantasy cause.

Cleveland at New Orleans

Peyton Hillis has become a fantasy must-start as a RB2, and will be the obvious crux of the Cleveland offense, as the Browns try to control the clock as much as possible. Expect at least one TD run from Hillis. Colt McCoy played respectably against a stout Pittsburgh defense last week, and faces another stiff test against the aggressive Saints. New Orleans could pick off the rookie more than once, even if McCoy moves the ball well at times. The Browns have yielded only one rushing TD, yet still allow 120.2 rushing yards per game. Chris Ivory is a respectable staring option if your RB corps is depleted. The Saints' offense is regaining its stride because Ivory is making defenses honor the run again, and Drew Brees will certainly pick apart the Cleveland secondary. Brees will throw at least two TD passes, and Lance Moore and Robert Meachem should both be considered as WR3 starts. Marques Colston does face a vulnerable pass defense, so it's understandable if you want to roll with him again in hopes that he scores for the first time in 2010.

St. Louis at Tampa Bay

The Buccaneers allow a ghastly 157 rushing yards per game, and have little hope of containing Steven Jackson, who is clearly among the best fantasy RBs in the game right now. Jackson has enjoyed more running room as the Rams have displayed better offensive balance this season. St. Louis, though, has scored 20 points in two road games, and Sam Bradford has yet to show he can play as well away from home. Keep St. Louis' receivers reserved this week as many of their pass-catchers are still mostly unproven and Bradford could sputter without his home comforts. The Buccaneers have been very inconsistent on offense, and none of their RBs should be used, regardless of matchup. The one sure thing is Mike Williams, who should be a lock as a WR3 starter in most leagues this week. The Rams have intercepted only five passes, so Josh Freeman will likely not hurt your fantasy team if you are desperate for a QB option this week.

San Francisco at Carolina

The Panthers allow 134.4 rushing yards per game, which is bad news for a team about to face Frank Gore. Look for the San Francisco standout to enjoy one of his best performances of the 2010 season. Even against the Panthers, Alex Smith is not a recommended fantasy play. His decision-making continues to be an issue. Michael Crabtree, however, will make the most of balls thrown his way this week. Any winless team in danger, and the Panthers will ride DeAngelo Williams to any success they can muster. Jonathan Stewart, however, should not be considered for usage, as elusive RBs tend to fare better against the 49ers. Steve Smith may return to action this week, and if he is able to go, start him, as the Panthers will get the ball in his hands often in their attempt to secure win No. 1 in front of the home folks.

Buffalo at Baltimore

The mismatch between the Bills' offense and Ravens' defense is apparent to anyone, even the less experienced fantasy player. The Baltimore defensive line will have its way against Buffalo's blockers, and the Ravens LBs will stuff Fred Jackson repeatedly. Ryan Fitzpatrick is aggressive and gutsy, but will not exceed any expectations this week. Do not use WR Steve Johnson in the hopes of landing a garbage time TD. Ray Rice's owners are overjoyed that he will be facing the league's lowest-ranked defense in terms of rushing yards allowed per game (182.4). Joe Flacco will not get much pressure from a Buffalo front seven that has struggled in its transition to a 3-4 look. Joe Flacco will certainly throw at least two TD passes. Anquan Boldin will be one of the most productive fantasy WRs of the week, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh is a sneaky play in larger leagues, as he will be targeted in the red zone.

Arizona at Seattle

Rookie QB Max Hall is confident and has some promise, but his offensive line will unravel in the unfriendly, vociferous surroundings of Qwest Field. Look for Hall to find himself in many adverse situations, and he will get hit often as the aggressive Seahawks tee off on him. Seattle's LBs have done a terrific job against the run, and Beanie Wells is a risky start. Do not use Tim Hightower, as his role and any remaining appeal is diminishing. Larry Fitzgerald remains a must-start, as the Cardinals will have to play some catch-up. Divisional games can sometimes be close contests, but the Seahawks will outclass the Cards while spawning quality fantasy totals. Marshawn Lynch will shine in his home debut against a Cardinals defense that is allowing 140.8 rushing yards per game. Matt Hasselbeck will have some time to throw, and will connect with Mike Williams and John Carlson. Hasselbeck will throw more than one TD pass, and Deon Butler is worth the start as a bye week filler as he continues to grow as a pro.

Oakland at Denver

With an unsettling QB situation and the need to keep the Denver offense off the field as much as possible, Raiders RB Michael Bush will be a very busy ball carrier. Start Bush with confidence, as the Broncos surrender 127.7 rushing yards per game. How effective Darren McFadden can be, though, remains to be seen, so play it safe and keep him reserved. Zach Miller will certainly be productive no matter who is throwing the ball for the Raiders this week. Oakland's run defense is worse than Denver's, as the Raiders allow 149.5 yards per game. Knowshon Moreno is a good RB2 start after returning to action last week. In the passing game, Kyle Orton's diversity of targets will certainly challenge the Raiders secondary. Expect Orton to throw at least two TD passes, although Brandon Lloyd may be denied the deep ball. Eddie Royal will be a prime TD target if Lloyd faces Nnamdi Asomugha too often.

New England at San Diego

The disappointing Chargers will be fired up for this one, and Philip Rivers is a prime starter as he faces a vulnerable New England secondary. Patrick Crayton will be his favored weapon, and is highly recommended as a WR3 this week. The Patriots also allow 109.6 rushing yards pr game, so expect at least adequate totals from Ryan Mathews. Mike Tolbert will certainly see some opportunities to score from short range. The Chargers allow 91.5 rushing yards per game, so do not expect outstanding numbers from Benjarvus Green-Ellis, and Danny Woodhead is a sparkplug, yet he will prove to be unreliable for fantasy purposes. The Chargers also rank first in passing yards per game, so Tom Brady may not deliver one of his better performances. Wes Welker should get strong starting consideration against any opponent, as the Pats will still devise ways to get him loose. Deion Branch, however, may let fantasy owners down after an impressive return to his old team last week.

Minnesota at Green Bay

The main storyline is obvious, and Brett Favre will be ready to give his best effort against his former team under the national spotlight. Still, the Packers will bring a lot of pressure, and Favre may not perform as hoped and may take a lot of hits. Randy Moss will be the benefactor if Favre throws a TD pass, but Percy Harvin is a boom-or-bust option. He can score any time he touches the ball, but Harvin may not catch the ball frequently enough to be a major factor, and is a risky start who should not be used over more dependable WRs. Adrian Peterson will score at least once, though, as it will be his job to keep pressure off Favre. Aaron Rodgers has been dealing with protection issues, but Minnesota has not been able to get after the passer consistently. Rodgers will outgun his Packers predecessor, and Greg Jennings should be plugged in this week. Donald Driver will also be a quality starter in PPR leagues.

New York Giants at Dallas

The Cowboys will prove to be a dangerous opponent for the Giants, as Dallas desperately needs a win and faces a familiar rival on Monday night. Eli Manning will muddle through an inconsistent performance and will be intercepted more than once. Hakeem Nicks should rebound from a quiet Week 6 outing, but Steve Smith has been a disappointment and is no longer a top fantasy starter. Ahmad Bradshaw should be locked into lineups as a RB2 regardless of opponent, and Brandon Jacobs is a consistent TD threat. Tony Romo, however, will outperform Manning, and Miles Austin should be expected to deliver a stellar performance. Roy Williams should definitely be started as a WR3. Felix Jones is also a top flex option as he will try to carry the Cowboys' offense out of the doldrums.

For more from Scott Engel, visit, which offers a full suite of fantasy advice, from insider insights and matchup breakdowns to IDP recommendations.

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