By Kyle Fisher
Thomas Jones vs. Dolphins: Jones has struggled early, averaging just 54.5 yards per game. However, Jones has played against the top two rushing defenses in the NFL (Patriots and Ravens). This week he gets a break, facing a Dolphins team that has averaged 178.5 rushing yards allowed per game and 4.6 yards per carry. We still think Jones is a good fantasy back, and this week he gets a chance to show it.
Lamont Jordan vs. Browns: After two weeks Jordan may be the Comeback Player of the Year in fantasy. He ranks fourth in the league in rushing and gets another favorable matchup against a Browns defense that is giving up 171.5 rushing yards per game on five yards per carry. Jordan also has value in that he is good out of the backfield, catching nine passes in two games.
Ronald Curry vs. Browns: Sticking with the Browns theme, Curry has an excellent matchup against a team that has allowed 276.5 yards per game in the air and 10 touchdowns in two games. While Josh McCown is not Ben Roethlisberger or Carson Palmer, he did have a solid outing against a poor Lions pass defense. We thought the Raiders would struggle against the great Denver pass defense, but we see Curry as the main benefactor against a sub-par pass defense.
Braylon Edwards vs. Raiders: This game has all the makings of a shootout. Edwards was outstanding last week against a poor Bengals pass defense and matches up against a Raiders defense that averages 272 passing yards allowed per game. Edwards averages 97.5 yards per game and has caught two touchdowns in his first two games. The Browns looked great on offense last week against the Bengals, and the Raiders are much closer statistically than the stout Steelers defense that shut down the Browns in Week 1.
Cadillac Williams vs. Rams: Williams has struggled on the ground since his great rookie season. He has battled injuries and a less-than-stellar offensive line at times. He helped fantasy players last week by scoring two touchdowns and had his best matchup of the season to date against St. Louis. The Rams rank 25th in the NFL against the run, giving up 137.5 yards per game on 4.2 yards per carry. This is Cadillac's best chance so far to crack the 100-yard mark.
Laurence Maroney vs. Bills: Maroney has yet to have the breakout numbers that many predicted, but the season is still young, and this is Maroney's best matchup yet. Maroney has hardly been terrible, averaging 74.5 yards per game on 4.3 yards per carry. However, he has not had the big games that Patriots stars Tom Brady and Randy Moss have enjoyed. This should be the week where that changes. The Bills are 30th in the NFL against the run, giving up 177.5 yards per game on the ground. If the Patriots get out to a big lead, Maroney should get plenty of carries and have a big game.
Santana Moss vs. Giants: Moss had a nice game against the Eagles on Monday night and goes up against the worst pass defense in the NFL in the banged-up Giants. The Giants are giving up 310 yards per game through the air, and Moss had 103 yards and a touchdown in the only meeting against the Giants with Jason Campbell as the quarterback last season.
Lawrence Tynes vs. Redskins: Tynes is off to a good start, making five field goals in his first two games. The Redskins defense has been especially good in the red zone and has allowed only one touchdown in two games. However, it is tied for second in the league allowing six made field goals in two games.
Minnesota vs. Chiefs: The Vikings defense has a very good matchup against this Chiefs offensive unit. Minnesota is sixth in the league against the run, averaging just 76 rushing yards allowed per game on 3.1 yards per carry. The Chiefs have not shown the ability to move the ball through the air. Minnesota also has the third-ranked scoring defense in the league compared to a Chiefs offense that ranks 31st in scoring.
Edgerrin James vs. Ravens: James has started well this season, averaging 110 yards per game on 4.4 yards per carry. However, this has been against the 49ers and Seahawks, both of whom average 111 rushing yards allowed per game. This week James faces a stiff test against a Ravens defense that is second in the NFL in rushing, allowing just 62 yards per game on 2.5 yards per carry. While James looks to be rejuvenated under coach Ken Whisenhunt, this is not the best matchup for him.
Vernon Davis vs. Steelers: Davis was the chic breakout tight end this preseason. To date, he has not lived up to the billing. Davis has just four catches for 27 yards in two games. The 49ers passing attack has been almost non-existent, averaging just 126 yards per game. Davis faces a Steelers defense that is third in the league in passing yards allowed (148.0), first in sacks (10) and second in quarterback rating allowed (61.1). This could be a long day for Davis and the 49ers through the air.
Warrick Dunn vs. Panthers: Dunn has struggled early in the season, and the matchup doesn't get any better this week. Dunn averaged just 3.0 yards per carry in his first two games. While Carolina struggled against the pass last week, it has been solid against the run to date. Carolina is giving up just 3.4 yards per carry on the ground. Dunn had a rough outing against Carolina in his last meeting, rushing for just 29 yards on nine carries.
Julius Jones vs. Bears: Jones appears to be losing the battle for meaningful carries to Marion Barber and faces a tough Bears run defense. The Bears are giving up just 73.5 yards per game on the ground and lead the league with 2.4 yards allowed per carry. If you have handcuffed the Dallas backs, then Barber is a more attractive play as the Bears are mediocre against the pass, and Barber is getting the goal-line carries.
Marshawn Lynch vs. Patriots: We like Lynch a lot and think he is going to be solid fantasy back, but he wins the Thomas Jones award for tough matchups. Last week, he faced a Steelers defense ranked fifth in the league against the run and had 64 yards on 18 carries. This week, he faces the No. 1-rated defense against the run in the Patriots who are giving up just 56 yards per game on 2.9 yards per carry. It will probably be another tough day for Lynch, but better days are to come.
Matt Schaub vs. Colts: For the same reason we like Owen Daniels this week, we don't like Schaub: Andre Johnson. Johnson has caught all three of Schaub's touchdowns, almost 39 percent of his passes and almost 58 percent of his yards. Quite simply, Johnson might be the most valuable receiver in the NFL after the first two weeks. The Colts have done a good job against the pass, ranking seventh in passing yards allowed at 179.5 yards per game and only one touchdown in two games.
David Garrard vs. Broncos: Garrard has been very good thus far, averaging 238 yards passing per game and one touchdown per game. However, this week he faces the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL, a unit that is giving up just 62.5 yards per game and four interceptions in two games. Expect Jacksonville to try and use both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-drew to move the ball on the Broncos.
Brandon Marshall vs. Jaguars: Marshall has 10 catches and a touchdown in two games. Jacksonville's pass defense is second in the league, giving up just 117 yards per game. The matchup is bad for Marshall because the Jaguars are last in the league against the run, meaning the Broncos will give the Jaguars a heavy dose of Travis Henry with a little Selvin Young. This could severely limit Jay Cutler's need to throw, therefore hurting Marshall's production.
Deuce McAllister vs. Titans: McAllister has a nice 4.4 yards per carry average but is averaging just 10 carries a game. The Titans have vastly improved their defense against the run, ranking seventh in the league. The Titans are still susceptible to the pass as they rank 24th. Look for the Saints to exploit the Titans' weakness through the air. If you have both Saints backs, Reggie Bush looks like the better play, as he is more active in the passing game.