NFL Skinny: Week 8 preview

I made the remark on several occasions last week that Plaxico Burress(notes) was cuttable. Good to see that Murphy’s Law is alive and well. Burress, of course, scored three touchdowns in Week 7, making him the No. 3 fantasy wideout for the week. But I’m not changing my tune about Burress, who finished with just four catches and 25 yards against San Diego, his fourth week in a row with 42 receiving yards or less. What we learned on Sunday is that he’s still got value as a goal-line receiver – the Scott Chandler(notes) of the WR position. Have fun banking on that every week. Football can make a star of anyone on a given Sunday. But, like good farming, we are looking for sustainable properties in our fantasy commodities.

Alright, let’s jump into the Week 8 matchups, Skinny-style (players in parentheses are chartreuse plays, stuck somewhere between a green and yellow light):

Total Week 8 green-light plays by position: 13 QBs; 18 RBs; 23 WRs; 11 TEs; 11 Defenses

It wasn’t much of a surprise that the Minnesota passing game showed promise in Christian Ponder’s(notes) first start, but I thought Percy Harvin(notes) (who is dealing with a rib injury), not Michael Jenkins(notes), would be the biggest benefactor. Ponder has a decent matchup this week against a Panthers defense that has allowed the fourth-highest QB Rating (96.3). But the problem for owners of the Vikings passing game is that Carolina is Downy soft up front against the run, and teams generally just turn to a run-heavy approach, which makes a ton of sense for the Vikings (see Adrian Peterson). Keep expectations for the Vikings passing game in check. … Cam Newton(notes) and Steve Smith are ever-green plays for Carolina, and the matchup, in terms of fantasy points allowed, favor them this week – LT Jordan Gross(notes) is one of the better blind-side guardians in the league, which will be of extra importance this week against sack specialist Jared Allen(notes). In the running game, Jonathan Stewart(notes) outplayed DeAngelo Williams(notes) for the second straight week and carried 14 times in Week 7, a season-high for a Carolina back this season – he even received goal-line work with Cam Newton on the field! The Vikings aren’t a great matchup for RBs, but Newton has that ability to change how a defense normally operates and that could work again to Stewart’s advantage. I would feel fine rolling out Stewart in a RB2 capacity this week, while Williams remains only a Flex dice role. Greg Olsen(notes) had just a 1/4 line in Week 7, his second straight lackluster game. And Jeremy Shockey(notes) is getting a similar number of targets. Given Olsen’s recent volatility, the division of labor and the tough matchup (Minnesota allows the eighth-fewest fantasy PPG to TEs), he belongs under the caution flag.
Cam Newton; Adrian Peterson; (Jonathan Stewart); Steve Smith; Minnesota Defense
Christian Ponder; DeAngelo Williams; Percy Harvin; Michael Jenkins; Greg Olsen; Jeremy Shockey; Visanthe Shiancoe(notes)
Legedu Naanee(notes); Carolina Defense
Devin Aromashodu(notes)
Vikings: WR Percy Harvin (ribs); G Anthony Herrera(notes) (knee)
Panthers: None of significance
Headline: Peterson runs All-Day long as Vikings edge Panthers
Final score: Vikings 26, Panthers 24

After giving up 41 points to Houston at home last week, it’s clear the Titans aren’t quite who we thought they were. Of course, the Colts offense is a far cry from that of Houston’s, and there’s no sustaining element to match what Arian Foster(notes) brings to the table. The Colts foolishly brought Joseph Addai(notes) back from his hamstring injury last week, a week or two earlier than most everyone expected. So it’s not a huge surprise that he left Week 7 after two carries because of his hammy. Delone Carter(notes) and Donald Brown(notes) should see the bulk of the carries again, and it’s not a bad matchup on paper – the Titans allow the fifth-most fantasy PPG to RBs. But most of that damage was sustained last week as Foster and Ben Tate(notes) combined for more than 50 fantasy points. I expect the Titans to be fired up after last week’s embarrassment, and I wouldn’t bank on Carter as more than a Flex play, while Brown should be considered even dicier than that. The Colts passing game has been a mess the past couple weeks, and Tennessee has been solid at limiting pass production in fantasy, although its weakness has been against tight ends (fourth-most fantasy PPG allowed to TEs). That said, Dallas Clark(notes) was held without a catch in Week 7, so relying on him to take advantage of the matchup is an iffy proposition. … The Colts are the most generous fantasy run defense, so there’s hope for Chris Johnson this week. He’s been a terrible disappointment, thus far, as he’s turned into a dancing machine behind one of the worst run blocking offensive line units in the league, and fans have started to call for more of backup Javon Ringer(notes). It should be noted, though, that Johnson’s strength of schedule, based on fantasy points allowed to RBs, has been the toughest of any RB to date. With Indy and Carolina on tap in the next three weeks, he finally catches a break. It’s now or never for Johnson. As for the Titans’ passing game, the Colts’ Cover-2 has been extremely friendly to QBs and WRs, so Matt Hasselbeck(notes) and Nate Washington(notes) appear ripe for a rebound. And it never takes much to convince me that TE Jared Cook(notes) is a worthy flier. He’s scored twice and is averaging 58 yards in his past three games.
(Matt Hasselbeck); Chris Johnson; (Nate Washington); (Jared Cook); Tennessee Defense
(Delone Carter); Pierre Garcon(notes); Reggie Wayne(notes); Damian Williams(notes); Dallas Clark
Curtis Painter(notes); Indianapolis Defense
Javon Ringer; Donald Brown
Colts: RB Joseph Addai (hamstring)
Titans: WR Damian Williams (head)
Headline: Titans defense rebounds, Colts offense remains stuck in the mud
Final score: Titans 27, Colts 12

The Dolphins are averaging 10.5 points in two games under the direction of QB Matt Moore(notes). Brandon Marshall(notes) has managed to corral 170 of Moore’s 401 passing yards in that span, with six catches in each game, so he’s still viable. But Miami WRs haven’t scored since Week 2, so you can’t be overly excited about any part of the Dolphins passing game. As for the running game, I also wouldn’t be optimistic about Daniel Thomas(notes), despite a healthy amount of fantasy points allowed by New York. The Giants have made rush defense a focal point during the bye and they are finally getting healthy. Also, the Giants have made the prevention of big plays in the passing game a high priority this season, going with a lot of nickel coverage. But that shouldn’t be necessary against Miami, so Thomas should expect to see a heavier box than usual from the Giants. … The Dolphins haven’t been particularly good in fantasy in any facet of defense. They’ve been particularly kind to QBs and TEs, but you can feel good about playing any of the Giants that you normally have in your starting mix. And Jake Ballard(notes) has to be in that equation as he’s averaging 64 yards and has scored twice in his past three games. Brandon Jacobs(notes) is hoping to return from a sprained MCL, but he’s not likely to get more than a handful of carries, if he plays at all. Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) owners shouldn’t sweat his return just yet.
Eli Manning(notes); Ahmad Bradshaw; Hakeem Nicks(notes); (Brandon Marshall); (Victor Cruz(notes)); Jake Ballard; NY Giants Defense
Daniel Thomas; Reggie Bush(notes); (Mario Manningham(notes)); Davone Bess(notes); Anthony Fasano(notes)
Matt Moore; Brandon Jacobs; Miami Defense
None of significance
Dolphins: None of significance
Giants: RB Brandon Jacobs (knee)
Headline: Eli throws the book at still winless Dolphins
Final score: Giants 30, Dolphins 16

The Jaguars are fighting for last place in fantasy PPG at QB, WR and TE. Your only fantasy consideration for the Jaguars remains “The Gangster of Love,” Maurice Jones-Drew(notes). In very deep leagues, Jason Hill(notes) can be argued as a flier based on his production with QB Blaine Gabbert(notes) – 70 YPG and two scores in his past three games. But, obviously, it’s a reach. … If you harbored any remaining doubts that Jacksonville was a legit defense heading into Week 7, its Monday night performance against Baltimore should have erased those. Obviously Arian Foster owners needn’t be overly concerned. But I don’t have warm feelings for Matt Schaub(notes) and the Texans’ receivers against a Jaguars defense allowing the second-fewest pass plays of 20-plus yards. The Jags do have issues against tight ends, so this could be another one of those games like we saw against Oakland a couple weeks ago where Schaub leans heavily on Foster, Owen Daniels(notes) and Joel Dreessen(notes) in the passing game. But don’t expect the results to be as lucrative this time around. Schaub is a mediocre play this week, and I wouldn’t want to roll the dice on the receiver crapshoot that is Kevin Walter(notes) and Jacoby Jones(notes). Of course, if Andre Johnson(notes) returns (hamstring), Schaub suddenly looks a lot better. Stay tuned.
Arian Foster; Maurice Jones-Drew; Andre Johnson (health?); Owen Daniels; Houston Defense
(Matt Schaub); Ben Tate; (Jason Hill); Kevin Walter
Blaine Gabbert; Mike Thomas(notes); Jacoby Jones; Marcedes Lewis(notes); Jacksonville Defense
Joel Dreessen
Jaguars: OT Eugene Monroe(notes) (shoulder)
Texans: WR Andre Johnson (hamstring); FB/TE James Casey(notes) (pectoral); S Danieal Manning(notes) (leg)
Headline: Texans turn up the heat on Gabbert, claim fifth victory
Final score: Texans 24, Jaguars 13

It’s a rough week for the Cardinals, having to travel (likely without Beanie Wells(notes)) to Baltimore after the Ravens floundered at Jacksonville on Monday night. Baltimore showed earlier in the season after a loss to Tennessee that it can rebound with the best of ‘em. The Ravens are among the top two in shutting down opposing QBs, RBs and TEs. Receivers have a little better luck against the Ravens, but you can’t expect much more than the 4/78 line Larry Fitzgerald(notes) offered up against Pittsburgh last week. … I’m a big proponent of most of the Ravens’ offensive skill position players this week. Arizona doesn’t get after the QB well, always a big plus for the big arm of Joe Flacco(notes), and the inexperienced secondary is still getting routinely burned – third-most pass plays allowed of 20-plus yards. Anquan Boldin(notes) should be fired up to face his old team, and Torrey Smith’s(notes) deep-ball ability should be dialed up a few times. Flacco has just 1 TD pass in his past three games, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t have at least a couple scoring tosses this week. The Ravens have talent at the tight end, but Ed Dickson(notes) or Dennis Pitta(notes) hasn’t produced more than 5.1 fantasy points since Week 1. There’s likely to be better options available at TE in your league’s free agent pool.
Joe Flacco; Ray Rice(notes); Anquan Boldin; Larry Fitzgerald; (Torrey Smith); Baltimore Defense
Kevin Kolb(notes); Early Doucet(notes); Ed Dickson
Alfonso Smith(notes); Arizona tight ends; Arizona Defense
Ricky Williams(notes)
Cardinals: RB Beanie Wells (knee)
Ravens: FS Ed Reed(notes) (neck); CB Jimmy Smith(notes) (ankle); WR Lee Evans(notes) (ankle)
Headline: Ravens down the Cards with big plays on ground and through the air
Final score: Ravens 31, Cardinals 14

After laying waste to the Colts last week, the schedule gods have smiled again on New Orleans, offering up a road game against the Rams. I doubt we’ll see another 62-7 score here, but it will likely be ugly, nonetheless. After all, the Rams are coming off a defensive performance in which it allowed 253 rushing yards to Dallas rookie DeMarco Murray(notes). If Saints rookie Mark Ingram(notes) can’t play in this game (bruised heel), Darren Sproles(notes) and Pierre Thomas(notes) are even more delectable. And then there is the matter of a Rams pass defense that has yielded the second-most fantasy points to WRs – Viva, Marques Colston(notes)!Brandon Lloyd(notes) was targeted 12 times in his first game with St. Louis last week, twice as much as any other Rams receiver. He finished with a 6/74 line. The Saints have a talented secondary, but you’d expect the Rams will have to turn to the passing game quickly in this contest. I like Lloyd for something similar to last week’s production. Whether Sam Bradford(notes) (ankle) plays or not, Lloyd is the only other Rams player other than Steven Jackson that I’d risk starting.
Drew Brees(notes); Steven Jackson; Darren Sproles; (Pierre Thomas); Marques Colston; (Brandon Lloyd); Jimmy Graham(notes); New Orleans Defense
Mark Ingram (health?); Lance Moore(notes); Robert Meachem(notes); Danario Alexander(notes)
St. Louis quarterbacks; St. Louis tight ends; St. Louis Defense
None of significance
Saints: RB Mark Ingram (heel)
Rams: QB Sam Bradford (ankle)
Headline: Sproles has field day as Saints keep Rams out of win column
Final score: Saints 33, Rams 10

Pittsburgh has been among the best in fantasy at limiting the opposition’s passing game. But this is Tom Brady(notes) and company and, truth be told, the Steelers haven’t faced a QB who currently ranks among the top 12 in fantasy PPG. This is a game where all those defensive injuries for the Steelers could finally bite them big-time. The threat of Brady should soften up the Steel Curtain on the ground, and I always tend to like BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes) when the Pats are playing a heavyweight opponent. BJGE had 87 rushing yards against a much stauncher Pittsburgh run defense last season. … You have to love the Steelers passing game against the worst pass defense in the league. If Hines Ward(notes) sits this one out because of a sore ankle, elevate the stock of Antonio Brown(notes) and Emmanuel Sanders(notes) even more. I’m not as bullish about Rashard Mendenhall(notes), who laid an egg against Arizona in Week 7 (13/32). The Patriots haven’t allowed more than 83 rushing yards to an RB this season. And their issues with RBs exploiting them through the passing game don’t really help Mendenhall, who is averaging just one catch per game. One thing about Mendenhall that is encouraging is that he’s been solid in his two home contests, scoring a TD in each and averaging 106 rushing yards. Still, he’s an RB2 for this week, in my mind.
Tom Brady; Ben Roethlisberger(notes); (BenJarvus Green-Ellis); Mike Wallace(notes); Wes Welker(notes); Antonio Brown; Aaron Hernandez(notes); Rob Gronkowski(notes)
(Rashard Mendenhall); (Deion Branch(notes)); (Heath Miller(notes)); Pittsburgh Defense
New England Defense
Emmanuel Sanders; Danny Woodhead(notes)
Patriots: LB Jerod Mayo(notes) (knee)
Steelers: QB Ben Roethlisberger (knee); WR Hines Ward (ankle); NT Casey Hampton(notes) (shoulder); OLB James Harrison(notes) (eye)
Headline: Brady outguns Big Ben as Pats win barn-burner
Final score: Patriots 34, Steelers 30

Matthew Stafford(notes) injured his ankle in Week 7, but head coach Jim Schwartz labeled him “day-to-day” and it appears there’s a good chance he’ll play at Denver. Good news for Calvin Johnson(notes) owners, obviously, although MegaTron can rise above both the matchup and the quality of his QB. Denver presents a nice matchup for the passing game, save tight ends – many quality TEs have underperformed against the Broncos this season. Also, the Von Miller(notes)-led Broncos have been outstanding against running backs, having yet to allow a rushing TD. With Maurice Morris(notes) and Keiland Williams(notes) splitting carries evenly last week, there’s no reason for optimism for either back this week. … The pre-Week 7 analysis of Tim Tebow(notes) was spot-on. We all preached the likelihood of ugly-but-effective fantasy production and, even though we had to wait until the fourth quarter, Tebow delivered as expected. Throw matchups out the window with the King of the Playground. That the Lions allow the seventh-fewest fantasy PPG to QBs isn’t relevant to Tebow’s game. But Tebow’s style, as I suspected, looks like it will kill WR Eric Decker(notes). Tebow doesn’t mesh well with Decker’s style, which involves running solid routes and being able to get open quickly – Tebow takes forever to set, survey and release the ball, most often preferring to break from the pocket in scramble mode. But Tebow likes throwing to his tight ends, and Daniel Fells(notes), who I touted as a sleeper last week, delivered against Miami with a TD and 31 yards. Tebow also looks to his RBs in the passing game, and that will benefit Knowshon Moreno(notes) this week as Willis McGahee(notes) is out with a hand injury. The Lions have also allowed a healthy 5.0 yards per carry, so Moreno could pick up meaningful yards on the ground, as well.
Matthew Stafford; Tim Tebow; (Knowshon Moreno); Calvin Johnson; Detroit Defense
Eric Decker; Nate Burleson(notes); Daniel Fells; (Brandon Pettigrew(notes)); Denver Defense
Maurice Morris; Keiland Williams; Eddie Royal(notes)
Demaryius Thomas(notes); Lance Ball(notes)
Lions: QB Matthew Stafford (ankle); RB Jahvid Best(notes) (concussion); CB Chris Houston(notes) (back)
Broncos: RB Willis McGahee (hand); DE Robert Ayers(notes) (knee); DE Elvis Dumervil(notes) (ankle)
Headline: Stafford gets last laugh against Tebow as Lions escape Denver with last-second victory
Final score: Lions 24, Broncos 23

I’m not going to tell you how the Redskins backfield situation will play out on Sunday now that Tim Hightower(notes) is out for the year. It’s a good matchup for the Washington ground attack, to be sure. But so was the Philly matchup a couple weeks back, and that turned sour. And, although the Redskins ran well in a cherry matchup last week, it was Hightower and not Ryan Torain(notes) who did the damage, much to the dismay/surprise of Torain owners. Perhaps Torain will get another featured shot this week. Maybe it will be Roy Helu(notes) who steps up. I have no idea what kind of curveball Mike Shanahan has planned for us this week. And don’t let anyone fool you by telling you that they know how things are going to play out. Start Redskins RBs at your own risk – same as it ever was. The Bills are a generous defense all around, so the John Beck(notes)-led passing game should provide some production – Bills allow top 12 fantasy PPG to QBs, WRs and TEs. With Santana Moss(notes) (hand) out several weeks, Jabar Gaffney(notes) joins Fred Davis(notes) as the two obvious receiving options that stand to gain from this matchup. … For a team averaging 31.3 points per game, there’s not many obvious fantasy starts for the Bills. Fred Jackson(notes) has been as good as it gets at RB. And Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) and Stevie Johnson(notes) have been solid more often than not. But the Redskins have been a solid defense this season across the board, and especially against the pass – WRs have scored just 2 TDs against the ‘Skins and opposing signal-callers have just a 78.4 QB Rating, eighth-worst in the league. Go-to wideouts have fared well against the Skins from a yardage standpoint, but secondary options like David Nelson(notes) have come up small time and again.
(Ryan Fitzpatrick); Fred Jackson; Stevie Johnson; (Jabar Gaffney); Fred Davis; Buffalo Defense
(John Beck); (Ryan Torain); (David Nelson); Anthony Armstrong(notes)
Scott Chandler; Washington Defense
Roy Helu
Skins: RB Tim Hightower (knee); WR Santana Moss (hand); TE Chris Cooley(notes) (knee, finger); LB London Fletcher(notes) (hamstring); QB Rex Grossman(notes) (pneumonia)
Bills: LB Shawne Merriman(notes) (Achilles)
Headline: Fred Jackson fabulous yet again as Bills hand Skins third-straight loss
Final score: Bills 27, Redskins 20

It’s going to be a tough chore for a Browns team that could muster just six points at home last week against Seattle to mine usable fantasy production on the road this week against the second-best scoring defense (16.2) in the league in San Francisco. Peyton Hillis(notes) might be able to return this week from a hamstring injury, but who cares? No team is giving up fewer fantasy points to RBs than the 49ers. Frankly, I’m all-out on Browns this week. … I’m also all-out on 49ers other than Frank Gore(notes) and Vernon Davis(notes) – the Browns have had problems especially against tight ends. But the Joe Haden(notes)-led Browns pass defense has been as good as anyone at shutting down QB and WR fantasy production. And the 49ers certainly don’t have the kind of QB and WRs to transcend the matchup.
Frank Gore; Vernon Davis; San Francisco Defense
Greg Little(notes)
Alex Smith; Colt McCoy(notes); Peyton Hillis; Montario Hardesty(notes); Benjamin Watson(notes); San Francisco WRs; Mohamed Massaquo; Cleveland Defense
Evan Moore(notes); Kendall Hunter(notes)
Browns: RB Peyton Hillis (hamstring); WR Mohamed Massaquoi(notes) (concussion); TE Benjamin Watson (concussion); G Shawn Lauvao(notes) (knee)
Niners: WR Braylon Edwards(notes) (knee)
Headline: Gore, 49ers grind out fifth-straight victory
Final score: 49ers 21, Browns 13

Seattle is hurting in the secondary having lost corners Marcus Trufant(notes) and Walter Thurmond(notes) for the season in recent weeks. Seattle can dial up the pressure on the QB at home, but Cincy has been great in pass protection (11 sacks allowed in six games) and Andy Dalton(notes) makes quick decisions. The Bengals are more equipped (receivers A.J. Green(notes) and Jerome Simpson(notes)) to take advantage of the Seahawks’ injuries in the secondary than the Browns were. While I think Bernard Scott(notes), filling in for the suspended Cedric Benson(notes), is not worth much thought this week against one of the best run defenses in the league, I like most parts of the Cincy passing game. … Marshawn Lynch(notes) is dealing with back spasms and he’s questionable this week. It’s not a very good matchup for Beast-Mode to begin with, as the Bengals are tied with Seattle in fantasy PPG allowed to RBs (11th-fewest). If Lynch can’t go, Leon Washington(notes) is a sleeper play because he’d be involved in all aspects of the offense (return game included). As for the passing game, it looks like we’ll be spared another Charlie Whitehurst(notes) start. Tarvaris Jackson(notes) hopes to return from his pectoral injury, but it’s not a good matchup for the ‘Hawks passing game, either. The Bengals allow the fifth-fewest fantasy PPG to QBs and WRs. Jackson has topped 200 passing yards in just one of five starts, so steering clear of all Seahawks is not a bad idea this week – as if the three points they scored last week didn’t already cause owners to flee the scene.
Andy Dalton; A.J. Green; (Jerome Simpson); (Jermaine Gresham(notes)); Cincinnati Defense
Marshawn Lynch (health?); Bernard Scott; Sidney Rice(notes); Doug Baldwin(notes); Seattle Defense
Tarvaris Jackson; Mike Williams; Zach Miller
Leon Washington; Andre Caldwell(notes)
Bengals: Cedric Benson (suspension); LB Rey Maualuga(notes) (ankle)
Seahawks: CB Walter Thurmond (fibula, ankle); QB Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral); RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
Headline: Dealin’ Dalton takes advantage of depleted Seattle secondary, Bengals win fourth straight
Final score: Bengals 21, Seahawks 17

DeMarco Murray ran wild against the Rams in Week 7 (253 rushing yards). The Eagles aren’t as atrocious against the run as St. Louis, but that’s only because it jumped on Washington early in Week 6, forcing the Redskins to go away from the run. Otherwise, Philly has been horrible against the run. You have to be realistic with expectations for Murray, but a 100-yard encore is certainly reasonable. The strength of the Philly defense is its secondary. Only one WR has topped 68 yards against the Eagles. That creates obvious concern for Miles Austin(notes) and Dez Bryant(notes), though I’d still trust Austin because of his fantastic rapport with Tony Romo(notes). But the likely big star for Dallas in the passing game will be Jason Witten(notes), who almost always has something to say in this matchup – he’s averaged over 68 yards in 15 career meetings with Philly, scoring in each of the past three. … This is not a good matchup for LeSean McCoy(notes), as Dallas allows the third-fewest fantasy PPG to RBs. But Michael Vick(notes) changes the complexion of defenses and you typically have to just have faith in Vick, McCoy, DeSean Jackson(notes) and Jeremy Maclin(notes) because of the potential for the offense to go off. Vick creates space for the offense and that makes it ripe for big plays – the Eagles have a robust 35 plays from scrimmage of 20-plus yards in just six games.
Michael Vick; Tony Romo; DeMarco Murray; LeSean McCoy; DeSean Jackson; Jeremy Maclin; Miles Austin; Jason Witten
Dez Bryant; Brent Celek(notes); Philly Defense; Dallas Defense
None of significance
Cowboys: RB Tashard Choice(notes) (shoulder); RB Felix Jones(notes) (ankle)
Eagles: LT Jason Peters(notes) (hamstring); DE Trent Cole(notes) (calf)
Headline: Andy Reid goes to 13-0 following bye week as Vick leads Eagles to narrow victory
Final score: Eagles 29, Cowboys 27

Philip Rivers(notes) continued his downward spiral in the passing game last week, throwing for just 179 yards and 2 INTs. In the past five weeks, Rivers ranks just 20th among QBs (with at least four starts) in fantasy PPG. His Week 7 performance was particularly bad, as his passes looked like they were struggling with the earth’s gravitational pull. And Rivers just didn’t make many good decisions. With Antonio Gates(notes) back (he survived his return in Week 7 no worse for the wear), Rivers is always a threat to explode. But Rivers failed to throw a TD pass against KC in Week 3, and there hasn’t been a whole lot since then to make you think that this is the week he goes off – also worth noting that the blind-side starters on his offensive line are health concerns this week. I’ll put my trust in Gates and the rushing attack (Ryan Mathews(notes) had 149 YFS and 2 TDs in the Week 3 meeting), but I’m leery about Rivers and his WRs. … The Chiefs scored 28 points last week, but that was a direct result of the Oakland QBs, who allowed two Pick-6 INTs, and 6 INTs in total. The Chiefs’ passing game wasn’t much of a factor as Matt Cassel(notes) threw for just 161 yards and 0 TDs. Cassel managed only 176 yards in his Week 3 meeting with San Diego, but he did hook up with Dwayne Bowe(notes) and Leonard Pope(notes) for TD passes. Bowe is an ever-green play, but everyone else for KC is an inauspicious play this week. The Chargers are among the top 9 stingiest defenses in fantasy to the QB, RB and WR positions. And KC mostly ignores the TE with Tony Moeaki(notes) out for the year. And it’s disconcerting that Jackie Battle(notes) had to cede 10 carries to Dexter McCluster(notes) last week. Once again, head coach Todd Haley gets a big, “Whatever” for his backfield management.
Ryan Mathews; (Mike Tolbert(notes)); Dwayne Bowe; Antonio Gates; San Diego Defense
(Philip Rivers); (Jackie Battle); (Vincent Jackson(notes)); Steve Breaston(notes); Kansas City Defense
Matt Cassel; Malcom Floyd(notes); Kansas City tight ends
None of significance
Chargers: LB Larry English(notes) (foot); RB Ryan Mathews (thumb); RB Mike Tolbert (hamstring, hand); WR Malcom Floyd (hip); OT Marcus McNeill(notes) (neck); LG Kris Dielman(notes) (concussion)
Chiefs: None of significance
Headline: Chargers backfield too much as Chiefs fall at home on Monday night
Final score: Chargers 27, Chiefs 17