Player matchups: Daniels, Chambers should shine

By Kyle Fisher

Good matchups

Owen Daniels vs. JAC
Since Andre Johnson has been out, Daniels has become Matt Schaub's No. 1 receiver. He currently leads the team with 24 catches for 293 yards. He has a good matchup against a Jacksonville defense that struggled last week against Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez, who caught eight passes for 100 yards. Jacksonville has been stout against the run since giving up 282 yards to Tennessee in Week 1, so expect Houston to try to move the ball through the air.

Larry Johnson vs. CIN
Normally starting Johnson is a no-brainer. However, this season he has struggled mightily, rushing for just 275 yards on 3.3 yards per carry and no touchdowns. He is 22nd in the league in rushing. However, this could be the week that Johnson finally produces. The Bengals are 29th in the league against the run, surrendering 152 yards per game on 5.3 yards per carry.

Chris Chambers vs. CLE
Even with backup Cleo Lemon starting for the Dolphins, Chambers should see targets. Chambers struggled the past two weeks, catching just four passes. But that was against a Raiders defense (No. 7 in QB rating allowed at 74.7) and a Texans defense (No. 15 in passing yards allowed) that are much better against the pass than this week's opponent. Chambers plays a Browns defense that is 31st against the pass, giving up 267 yards a game and has surrendered a league-leading 15 touchdowns. This should be the game where Chambers breaks out of his slump.

Jamal Lewis/Jason Wright vs. MIA
Lewis is questionable with an injured foot, so check the injury report before deciding who to start. The better play would be Wright because he is healthy. Wright had a decent effort last week going for 59 yards on 15 carries and posting four catches for 43 yards against a tough Patriots defense. Whoever gets the bulk of the carries has a nice matchup against a Dolphins defense that is 31st in the league against the run and has allowed a league-leading eight rushing touchdowns.

Derrick Mason vs. STL
Mason is leading the NFL in catches with 44 but is averaging just 8.5 yards per catch. This week he matches up with a Rams defense that struggled against top-notch receivers Steve Smith and Larry Fitzgerald, and even Patrick Crayton burned them. While Mason may be a step below these receivers, he should catch enough passes to be worthy of a start, especially in points-per-reception leagues.

Kurt Warner vs. CAR
Warner has been very good in his relief appearances this season and now will start as Matt Leinart is out for the year. Warner has a quarterback rating of more than 100 and averages a solid 8.4 yards per attempt. Warner faces a Panthers defense that is just 24th against the pass, surrendering 233.6 yards per game, and has yet to face a team that has the passing credentials of the Cardinals.

Matt Hasselbeck vs. NO
The entire Seahawks team was dreadful last week at Pittsburgh. This week Hasselbeck faces a Saints team coming off a tough home loss to the Panthers. The Saints are the worst team in the NFL in terms of passer rating allowed at 114.7 and have allowed eight passing touchdowns. That rating is more than six points higher than Peyton Manning's 108.6 rating. Look for Hasselbeck and the Seahawks to get back on track this week.

Brian Griese vs. MIN
While Griese had a rough first start, he was solid in his second start against the Packers. Griese is averaging 250 yards per game and two touchdowns per game. This week he faces a Vikings defense that is 30th in the league against the pass, allowing 266.8 yards per game. The Vikings are the best team in the league against the run, so look for the Bears to try to move the ball through the air.

Greg Olson vs. MIN
Olson caught his first of what is expected to be many touchdowns in the NFL last week. The Bears are trying to get Olson more involved in the offense, as he is an explosive playmaker at tight end. Against the Vikings' 30th-ranked pass defense, look for Olson to be a major target for Brian Griese and the Bears.

Bad matchups

Cedric Benson vs. MIN
As good as the prospects look for the Bears passing game, they look just as bleak for Benson and the running game. The Vikings rank first in the NFL against the run, allowing a paltry 62 yards per game and have not allowed a rushing touchdown. Benson has been a bust so far this year. Expect that trend to continue this week.

Brian Leonard vs. BAL
Leonard was very productive last week, rushing for more than 100 yards and catching five passes against the Cardinals. This week he faces a much tougher task against a Ravens defense that is giving up just 66.6 yards per game on 2.9 yards per carry. While Leonard appears to be a good play in most weeks while Steven Jackson is out, this is not a good matchup for him.

Greg Jennings vs. WAS
Jennings has come back nicely from his early-season injury, as he has caught touchdown passes in is first three games. This week Jennings faces a Redskins defense fresh off a dominant performance against John Kitna and the Lions passing game. The Redskins rank eighth against the pass and have allowed just two passing touchdowns. Green Bay and Detroit have similar offenses in that neither runs the ball well. Expect Jennings to have a tough day against one of the better pass defenses in the NFL.

Ahman Green vs. JAC
At press time it appears that Green will play against the Jaguars. This may not be the best defense to return against. Since giving up 282 yards to the Titans in Week 1, the Jaguars have surrendered just 46.3 yards per game on the ground. Don't expect the Texans to have much success on the ground and instead look to the air to attack the Jaguars.

Thomas Jones vs. PHI
Jones continues to face tough run defenses every week and continues to struggle as a result. For the season, he has just 290 yards on 3.3 yards per carry in five games. Jones faces an Eagles defense that is surrendering just 74.5 yards per game at a 3.4-yard per carry clip. Jones looks like he is in for another long afternoon.

Jeff Garcia vs. TEN
One of the biggest surprises in the early season is the play of the Titans defense. It ranks third against the run and is No. 1 in the league in passing rating allowed at just 59.7. The Titans have surrendered just two touchdowns while picking off seven passes. With Tampa's injuries in the run game and the Titans propensity to play ball control offense, don't expect Garcia to put up big numbers against the much improved Titans defense.

Justin Fargas vs. SD
Fargas was great in his last game against a poor Dolphins defense, rushing for 179 yards. Fargas might get the start but also must deal with the return of Dominic Rhodes. Plus, he is matched up against a Chargers defense that finally played like last year's team. This defense held the high-powered Broncos rushing attack to just 72 yards on 20 carries. While the Raiders do rank first in rushing, much of this has come at the expense of poor run defenses. In fact, in three of the four games, the Raiders have played the NFL's 30th-, 31st- and 32nd-ranked run defenses. The Chargers rank 10th against the run and look to continue digging themselves out of an early-season hole.

Atlanta defense vs. NYG
Atlanta had a good game on defense against the mistake-prone Titans. In this week's matchup they face a much more explosive Giants team that is averaging 24.6 points per game and 342 yards per game. With the return of Brandon Jacobs, the Giants have their full complement of weapons and have averaged 35 points a game in the two games he has played this season. This is by far the most explosive team the Falcons have seen all season.

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