Every Friday during the NFL season we review the Yahoo! weekly position ranks. When an expert breaks from the herd, they're asked to show their work. We try to focus on names near the start/sit line in public leagues, or on acts of complete lunacy. Let's play the feud…
There's a curious lack of respect for Addai in the rankings this week, as my colleagues have all slotted him in the low-20s. That's basically where we had him during the preseason when the entire industry was bullish on Donald Brown(notes). But after 11 games, Addai ranks ninth in fantasy scoring among the running backs. He's already scored 10 touchdowns this season and he's thrown for another. If we include the passing TD, then Addai has only failed to find the end zone in two games all year. Few backs have been as reliable.
Brown isn't practicing at the moment due to chest and shoulder injuries, so Addai figures to receive 20-plus touches against Tennessee in Week 13. (He averages 18.2). The Titans have allowed 4.3 yards per carry this season and they've given up nine touchdowns to opposing backs, so you don't need to treat them as if...well, as if they're the 2008 Titans. Start Addai with confidence; he's been an every-week contributor this year. -AB
What’s to like about the most turnover-prone (and seventh-most sacked) quarterback in the league? Well, for one thing, he’s playing at home, and Soldier Field has clearly been a preferred environment for the much-maligned gunslinger. Cutler has eight TD passes, one TD run and just three interceptions in five home games. In six road contests, he’s accounted for eight TD passes, but at the price of 17 INTs and a fumble lost.
Of course it also helps that his Sunday opponent (St. Louis) ranks 23rd in the league in picks (8) and 29th in sacks (18) – in other words, Cutler shouldn’t be forced into too many rash decisions and he’s less likely to pay the ultimate price when he is. Cutler said this week that he accepts responsibility for Chicago’s 4-7 record and knows that he can play better. There’s not going to be a much better opportunity for him to prove it the rest of the way. -BFunRyan Grant(notes) - Pianowski rank 18, Y! composite RB rank 26
I sense most people are afraid of Baltimore's name-brand defense (especially when it comes to running the ball), but fear not, Grant is a much safer pick than you realize. He's quietly stepped up his game this year, bumping his YPC to 4.3 and improving as a receiver. Grant's also scored three times in his last six games and while that won't get him into the Pro Bowl, there's been improvement in his red-zone running of late.
At the end of the day Grant gives you the safety of touches; he's handled the ball 21 times or more in five of his last six games. By volume alone, he should give us a workable final line. -Pianow
Alex Smith - Evans rank 12, Y! composite QB rank 16
Hopefully Smith has stocked up on the Old Spice, because he’s finally becoming "a man." Maturing right before fantasy fans’ eyes, the former No. 1 pick is finally starting to tap into his potential. Credit the playmakers around him, his advancements in coverage reads and Jimmy Raye for opening up the playbook. Thriving in shotgun spread formations, Smith has tossed five touchdowns to just two interceptions over his past three games. This week, the Gold Panner should once again yield instant riches.
The Hawks have performed admirably on defense at home, but they’ve still surrendered seven aerial touchdowns in five contests. More alarming, they’ve allowed 274.2 yards per game and 13 scores to quarterbacks since Week 9, equal to the most fantasy points conceded. Assuming Raye remains open-minded Smith should be good for 220-250 yards with 2-3 touchdowns. Consider him a borderline starter in 12-team leagues. -Noise
The Tampa Bay backfield is seemingly in a constant state of flux with Derrick Ward(notes) and, lately, Earnest Graham(notes) looming as threats to Williams’ workload. But one thing you can count on from Williams is 11-plus touches, each and every Sunday – he’s reached that threshold in 10 of 11 games. And given that fact, here’s another one worth mentioning: There have been 11 running backs that have handled the ball at least 11 times against Carolina this year, and not one of them has failed to score 10 fantasy points in standard formats. Caddy already counts amongst that group, having turned 16 carries into 77 yards and a TD against the Panthers back in Week 6.
Simply put, Carolina is a bad rush defense (4.5 YPC allowed) and where the game is played (home or road) hasn’t really made a difference. Admittedly, Williams hasn’t posted great yardage numbers this season. But he’s found the end zone in two of his past three games and I give him good odds at finding pay dirt again this weekend against a defense that has allowed the second-most TDs to running backs. -BFun
There's a sneaky balance to Chambers' spot this week - he's good enough that the Chiefs will probably target him more than anyone else, but not so talented that the Broncos will be forced to devote Champ Bailey(notes) to Chambers every snap. Chambers has quietly given us 319 yards and three scores in his four Kansas City games, and for whatever reason Arrowhead Stadium is a house of horrors for the Broncos when they're asked to come here in December (a 1-16 run). Look for Chambers to get in on the fun Sunday, probably when Bailey is on the other side of the field. -Pianow
The last time Washington was confronted with a lopsided paper matchup (Week 10 versus Denver. And, before you ask, yes, I realize this is a rickety example, but I'm convinced the Washington defense is better than advertized) they rose to the occasion. Although Carlos Rogers(notes) was abused by Brandon Marshall’s(notes) double moves, they limited Kyle Orton(notes) and Chris Simms(notes) to a combined 206 passing yards. Of course, offensively speaking, the Broncos are a group of My Little Ponies compared to the juggernaut Saints, but the ‘Skins boast a solid secondary, even minus DeAngelo Hall(notes). On the year, only four wideouts have surpassed the 80-yard mark against them.
Colston is an exceptional wideout, but due to his lack of top-end speed and Drew Brees’(notes) socialist passing philosophy, he can disappear. If the Saints choose to pick on Rogers, speed demons Devery Henderson(notes) and Robert Meachem(notes) could be the point of emphasis. This could be Colston’s sixth mediocre outing of the season. -NoiseRobert Meachem - Behrens rank 24, Y! composite WR rank 32
OK, wait. Did Brad really just cite the Denver game as evidence that Washington's defense can rise to the occasion? The Broncos' passing game absolutely punished Washington's secondary in Week 10 when Kyle Orton was at the controls. Orton threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns in the first half before limping off with an ankle injury – and he should have had a third long TD, but he misfired to a wide open Eddie Royal(notes). Washington's defense was utterly lost…but then Chris Simms entered the game in the second half and soiled the sheets (metaphorically).
The 'Skins pass defense is a paper tiger. It is not to be feared. Sure, Washington has limited opponents to just 170.4 passing yards per game, but the NFL schedule-makers are largely responsible for that achievement. Check the early season slate through Week 6: NYG, STL, DET, TB, CAR, KC. The 'Skins found a way to contain such luminaries as Marc Bulger(notes), Josh Johnson(notes), Jake Delhomme(notes) and Matt Cassel(notes), but that hardly makes them a defense to avoid at all costs. They're next-to-last in the NFL in interceptions and their best cover corner, DeAngelo Hall, probably won't play in Week 13 due to a knee injury. Don't worry about the matchup.
But that's enough about Washington. Let's get to Meachem, a player who currently ranks 19th in per-game fantasy scoring at his position. (Colston is tenth). It's certainly true that the Saints have a diversified portfolio of offensive weapons, but THEY'RE SCORING 37.0 POINTS PER GAME. Don't over-think this thing. Meachem has scored touchdowns in five of his last six games. Again, I've actually slotted him lower than his year-to-date fantasy scoring rank. He's a starter in three-receiver leagues, no question. -AB
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