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NFL Skinny: Week 7 preview

Brandon Funston
Yahoo Sports

It was an unusually active trade deadline period in the NFL, as Carson Palmer(notes), Brandon Lloyd(notes) and Ronnie Brown(notes) found new, and seemingly more lucrative (for fantasy purposes), homes. One player that didn't get dealt despite rumors of that possibility was Peyton Hillis(notes). But while he's still a member of the Browns, he's no longer a member of my buddy league squad, as I traded him late last week along with Matt Schaub(notes) and Malcom Floyd(notes) for Tom Brady(notes) and Greg Olsen(notes). With Chris Johnson, Frank Gore(notes), Jackie Battle(notes), Ryan Torain(notes) and Ben Tate(notes) already in the fold, getting rid of the Hillis headache while upgrading significantly at quarterback was an easy call. But the interesting part of the deal is that I made a pact with the other owner involved that I would give him his choice of Gore, Battle or Torain (I'd get Hillis back) if Hillis loses the touches battle by a 60/40 split to Montario Hardesty(notes) from Weeks 6-8. However, if Hardesty wins touches by that margin because of injury, the other owner is stuck with Hillis. I clearly don't want to have to give up Gore, and I'm in good shape considering Hillis left early with a hamstring injury in Week 6 – if he misses Week 7 because of that injury, I'm golden. But sometimes you have to get creative and take some unusual chances if you want to make a deal and improve your team.

Alright, let's jump into the Week 7 matchups, Skinny-style (players in parentheses are to be consider chartreuse – somewhere between a green and yellow light):

Total Week 7 green-light plays by position: 10 QBs; 23 RBs; 20 WRs; 14 TEs: 7 Defenses


Matt Schaub, as expected, came up on the light side at Baltimore in Week 6. He has another tough matchup against a Tennessee defense that has allowed more than 228 passing yards just once and has yielded the second-fewest pass plays of 20-plus yards (12). It's unlikely Schaub will get Andre Johnson(notes) back, which lands Schaub in that lackluster mid-teen range in terms of Week 7 QB ranks. Arian Foster(notes) and Owen Daniels(notes) – the Titans have allowed big production to the TE in recent weeks – are the only two safe plays for Houston. … The Texans allow 4.8 YPC to RBs, which makes this about as good a matchup as Chris Johnson has seen this season. And, while CB Jonathan Joseph has been a big boost in the Texans' pass defense, No. 1 WRs have been exploiting the Texans all season long – last week it was Anquan Boldin(notes) (8/132). Nate Washington(notes) is Matt Hasselbeck's(notes) go-to guy now and he's delivered more than 60 receiving yards in every game, even those when Kenny Britt(notes) was still in the picture. Washington should at least keep the 60-yard streak alive, but he should do even better than that. Houston has been one of the three stingiest defenses in fantasy against the TE. That lands Jared Cook(notes) under the caution flag, although his extreme athleticism makes him an acceptable dice roll. If you throw out a big performance by Drew Brees(notes), Houston has been strong against opposing passers. A big help is Houston's ability to dominate time of possession (third-best in the NFL). That has led to only one QB (Brees) throwing more than 35 times against Houston. That limits Hasselbeck's value to fringe starter territory.
Arian Foster; Chris Johnson; Nate Washington; Owen Daniels
(Matt Hasselbeck); Matt Schaub; Jared Cook; Damian Williams(notes); Kevin Walter(notes); Jacoby Jones(notes); Damian Williams
Houston Defense; Tennessee Defense
Ben Tate
Texans: WR Andre Johnson (hamstring)
Titans: None of significance
Headline: New Oilers down old Oilers, Texans halt slide
Final score: Texans 24, Titans 21

The Buccaneers have allowed 20-plus fantasy points (default scoring) to five of the six QBs they have faced, with only Donovan McNabb(notes) failing to reach that number. They also don't get to the QB very well (10 sacks in 6 games), which is always welcome news for sitting duck Jay Cutler(notes). But Cutler typically struggles on the road, his receivers don't represent too much of a challenge for the Bucs' secondary (or any secondary) and the matchup (Bucs 13th-most fantasy PPG to RBs) beckons a heavy load for Matt Forte(notes). Gotta love Forte, but temper enthusiasm for Cutler. … Before Week 6, Josh Freeman(notes) ranked 29th in the league in QB Rating. Facing the Saints, he finished with the eighth-best QB rating for the week but, frankly, if he doesn't find Arrelious Benn(notes) wide open for a 65-yard TD on busted coverage, his day ends up looking very ordinary, most likely. And as it was, his fantasy tally (303 yards, 2 TDs) was only the fourth-best against the Saints this season. This is all to say that I'm just not back on board the Freeman bandwagon yet. The Bears have given up some big QB days, but those came at the hands of Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers(notes) and Cam Newton(notes). Freeman is on the bubble of QB fantasy starters this week. Earnest Graham(notes) provided the pleasant production that was suggested here in this space last week and he's a good bet once again as the Bears rank among the top 10 most generous to running backs in terms of both rushing yards and receiving yards. Mike Williams has been on the field for more snaps than any other receiver in the league. And he has just 1 TD and an average of 40 yards per game to show for it. He's a bench-until-signs-of-life entity at this point. The Bucs' passing game production is likely to channel mostly through Kellen Winslow(notes) and Graham this week.
Matt Forte; Earnest Graham; Kellen Winslow
(Josh Freeman); Jay Cutler; Mike Williams; Arrelious Benn; Devin Hester(notes); Tampa Bay Defense; Chicago Defense
Johnny Knox(notes); Chicago tight ends
Dane Sanzenbacher(notes);
Bears: DE Julius Peppers(notes) (knee); WR Devin Hester (chest); TE Kellen Davis(notes) (elbow)
Bucs: C Jeff Faine(notes) (biceps); RB LeGarrette Blount(notes) (knee); LB Mason Foster(notes) (ankle); DT Gerald McCoy(notes) (ankle)
Headline: Forte's big day just enough to carry Bears to win in London
Final score: Bears 20, Buccaneers 19

It's likely that Charlie Whitehurst(notes) will start at QB for Seattle with Tarvaris Jackson(notes) dealing with a pectoral injury. It's not a great situation for Whitehurst to land in against a Cleveland defense that has not allowed more than 255 yards passing to a QB. That said, the Browns have faced, other than Tennessee, the passing equivalent of the Sisters of the Poor. And they'll be without outstanding coverman Joe Haden(notes) for the second straight week, so there's some hope for Sidney Rice(notes) and even Week 5 breakout Doug Baldwin(notes), who has a good rapport with Whitehurst. With the Browns allowing the fifth-most points to TEs and Seattle's offensive line improved greatly from where it was to start the season, I wouldn't be surprised if Zach Miller finally gets into the act this week. The Browns have been a bend-but-don't-break run defense, allowing at least 90 rushing yards to a RB in four of five games. That, at least, makes Marshawn Lynch(notes) intriguing. … Colt McCoy(notes) has been a true fantasy QB middleman, ranking between 12 and 18 in QB fantasy scoring in four of his five games (he ranked 25th in the other game). The Seahawks defense doesn't push McCoy out of the marginal category this week. There's lots of uncertainty regarding the health (hamstring) of Peyton Hillis. But, if he plays this week, he's likely to once again be limited. And even if he doesn't play, and Montario Hardesty handles the load, you can't be excited about either having to face a Seahawks run defense that has allowed the fourth-fewest yards from scrimmage to RBs. The Browns I'm willing to gamble on this week are Benjamin Watson(notes) (sixth among tight ends in targets per game) and Greg Little(notes), who went 6/72 last week after being named a starter. Seattle has lost CB Marcus Trufant(notes) for the season to a back injury, meaning the Seahawks will be very inexperienced in the secondary.
(Marshawn Lynch); (Sidney Rice); (Greg Little); Benjamin Watson
Colt McCoy; Charlie Whitehurst; Peyton Hillis; Montario Hardesty; (Zach Miller); Seattle Defense; Cleveland Defense
Mike Williams; Mohamed Massaquoi(notes)
Doug Baldwin
Hawks: QB Tarvaris Jackson (chest); CB Marcus Trufant (back); TE Zach Miller (concussion)
Browns: RB Peyton Hillis (hamstring); CB Joe Haden (knee); LB Scott Fujita(notes) (concussion)
Headline: Seattle emerges from defensive affair with second straight road win
Final score: Seahawks 17, Browns 16

Philip Rivers(notes) hasn't been quite the fantasy juggernaut we'd hoped, as his per game fantasy average ranks just ninth and he owns a 6/7 TD-to-INT ratio through five games. That said, he's top 4 in completion percentage (67.2), top 6 in passing yards per game (307.2) and he threw for 298 yards and accounted for two touchdowns in a '09 playoff loss to the Jets when last they faced. In a bye week, Rivers will definitely sit among my top 10. Vincent Jackson(notes), however, could be a big casualty of this matchup, likely facing a whole lot of Darrelle Revis(notes) while dealing with a sore hamstring. Forget any Brandon Marshall(notes) comparisons here – Marshall went for over 100 yards against the Jets in Week 6. Jackson does not have the kind of possession game that Marshall offers. Revis shouldn't have any problems keeping V-Jax in check. Look for the Chargers to lean heavily on running backs Ryan Mathews(notes) and Mike Tolbert(notes) in both the running and passing games. The Jets have allowed the sixth-most yards from scrimmage to backs. If Antonio Gates(notes) can return from his foot injury, expect Rivers to waste little time making use of him. The Jets have allowed a healthy 352 yards to TEs, 11th-most in the league. … The Chargers defense ranks among the top 8 stingiest defenses in fantasy to QBs, RBs and WRs. Only tight ends have given them issues, and that's been a problem of the Chargers for years. Dustin Keller(notes) has scored in both of his career meetings with San Diego and his 51 yards on Monday night in Week 6 was a positive sign after two dismal weeks prior to that. Other than Keller, I don't feel that green about anyone from Gang Green – Plaxico Burress(notes) has looked awful (cuttable) in recent weeks. It's hard to sit Santonio Holmes(notes) given TDs in back-to-back weeks, but a 4/60/1 line is about the best you can hope for from him.
Philip Rivers; Ryan Mathews; Dustin Keller; Antonio Gates (health?); NY Jets Defense
(Mark Sanchez(notes)); (Mike Tolbert); Shonn Greene(notes); (Santonio Holmes); Malcom Floyd; San Diego Defense
Plaxico Burress; Vincent Jackson
LaDainian Tomlinson(notes)
Bolts: TE Antonio Gates (foot); RB Ryan Mathews (calf); RB Mike Tolbert (concussion); WR Vincent Jackson (hamstring)
Jets: CB Antonio Cromartie(notes) (groin)
Headline: LT contributes TD against former team in Jets win
Final score: Jets 23, Chargers 21

No doubt, Ryan Torain disappointed fantasy owners in Week 6 with a mere 10/22 rushing line against what had been an extremely generous Philly run defense. It won't be prudent to play the once-bitten-twice-shy card this week with Torain, however. No team allows more than Carolina's 183.3 yards from scrimmage per game to RBs. It's worth giving Torain another chance. I don't want anything to do with whatever QB Washington trots out on Sunday. At this point, Mike Shanahan could quickly pull the rug out from under whatever starter he names. Santana Moss(notes) has more than the QB issue to worry about. Panthers CB Chris Gamble(notes) has been the definition of a shutdown corner. No opposing No. 1 wideout has reached 70 yards against the Panthers, and Gamble has allowed only 8 of 18 targets to be completed against him (that 44.4 completion rate is fourth-best among regular CBs). The one element of the 'Skins' passing game to get behind is Fred Davis(notes). He's basically a receiver in a tight end body and he'll be utilized heavily once again – 6/95 in Week 6. Carolina has allowed the 10th-most receiving yards to tight ends. … Cam Newton and Steve Smith remain ever-green plays. But it's still dicey for Carolina beyond those two. DeAngelo Williams(notes) is a hard one to figure. I'll just say this: if you want to start a RB who hasn't touched the ball more than 13 times in a game, who won't see goal line carries and who has delivered less than 5 fantasy points in four of six games, you are on your own. I remain a bigger fan of Jonathan Stewart's(notes) fantasy potential, and I think he has decent upside this week against a Washington defense allowing 4.5 YPC. Greg Olsen was shut out of the end zone for the first time in four games last week, but he finished with a respectable 5/42 line. Newton loves his tight ends, making Olsen (and Jeremy Shockey(notes)) a viable play every week.
Cam Newton; Ryan Torain; (Jonathan Stewart); Steve Smith; Fred Davis; Greg Olsen; Washington Defense
DeAngelo Williams; Tim Hightower(notes); (Jabar Gaffney(notes)); Jeremy Shockey; Carolina Defense
Washington QB; Santana Moss; Legedu Naanee(notes)
Roy Helu(notes)
Redskins: RB Tim Hightower (shoulder); TE Chris Cooley(notes) (finger, knee); OT Trent Williams(notes) (ankle); G Kory Lichtensteiger(notes) (knee)
Panthers: LB Thomas Williams(notes) (head); S Jordan Pugh(notes) (head); CB Captain Munnerlyn(notes) (ankle)
Headline: J-Stew helps Panthers protect early lead in win over 'Skins
Final score: Panthers 26, Redskins 20

Matt Ryan(notes) has thrown for more than 1 TD pass in just one of six games. And Atlanta is clearly going back to more of the ground-and-pound style of last season – Michael Turner(notes) has 69 carries over the past three games after just 42 totes in the first three games. Against a Lions defense that has held all QBs faced, save Tony Romo(notes), to 1 TD pass or less and less than 260 passing yards, Ryan is easily benchable. You'd be hard-pressed to find another leading man at any of the skill positions for either team that doesn't warrant at least chartreuse consideration. Matthew Stafford(notes) is the No. 6 fantasy QB. Turner and Jahvid Best(notes) are top 10 RBs – if Best can play after suffering concussion symptoms in Week 6, you'll want to use him (otherwise, Maurice Morris(notes) is your man). Calvin Johnson(notes) and Roddy White(notes) are top 20 WRs. And Tony Gonzalez(notes) and Brandon Pettigrew(notes) are top 10 TEs. In a six-team bye week, most owners can't afford to turn their noses at any of those guys. Nate Burleson(notes) also deserves serious start consideration. He scored a TD last week and, with CB Brent Grimes(notes) likely tasked with trying to stop MegaTron, there's a good chance that Burleson will draw coverage often from highly combustible corner Dunta Robinson(notes), who has allowed the highest completion percentage in the league (80.0; 24-of-30) among CB regulars. As for Julio Jones(notes), coming back from a hamstring injury against a tough Lions defense (Lions allow second-fewest pass plays of 20-plus yards) in a likely run-heavy attack, I'd prefer to keep him on my bench another week.
Matthew Stafford; Michael Turner; Calvin Johnson; Jahvid Best (health?); Roddy White; Tony Gonzalez; Brandon Pettigrew
Matt Ryan; (Nate Burleson); Julio Jones; Detroit Defense
Harry Douglas(notes); Atlanta Defense
Maurice Morris
Falcons: WR Julio Jones (hamstring);
Lions: RB Jahvid Best (concussion)
Headline: Stafford airs it out as Lions rebound from Week 6 loss to down the Falcons
Final score: Lions 31, Falcons 24

Tim Tebow(notes) was fantastic for fantasy purposes as a starter the final three weeks of '10, throwing for 4 TDs and rushing for 3 scores. It's the rushing potential that is the driving force behind his fantasy value. He's like what Michael Vick(notes) used to be in Atlanta before Philly really accentuated his throwing abilities. With Brandon Lloyd off to St. Louis, identifying the likely standouts in the passing game is a bit of a crapshoot. But if you look at Tebow's track record outside of Lloyd's contributions, running backs and tight ends have shown positive signs – while Willis McGahee(notes) is going to handle a heavy carry load, Knowshon Moreno(notes) could get steady work as a dump-off option for Tebow. I fear for Eric Decker(notes) a bit given Tebow's inability to run a traditional passing game – he has a slow release, takes too long with his reads and often lets the play breakdown into on a schoolyard scramble type of situation. I'm running Decker under the caution flag for now, while I have Moreno and TE Daniel Fells(notes) down as sleepers. I'm excited for WR Demaryius Thomas'(notes) eventual contributions – he's a potential beast if he can stay healthy. I just think it'd be jumping the gun to rely on him this week. … The Dolphins are an offensive mess, but Matt Moore(notes) isn't completely hopeless and he's got a great matchup in which to exploit the talents of Brandon Marshall this week ‐ Denver allows the most fantasy points to QBs and second-most to WRs. That said, the Von Miller(notes)-led Broncos defense has been vastly improved against the run compared to last season. But a Reggie Bush(notes) neck injury likely means a heavy workload for rookie Daniel Thomas(notes), who was able to handle 15 carries against the Jets while coming off a hamstring injury. The workload should lead to respectability for Thomas.
Tim Tebow; Willis McGahee; (Daniel Thomas); Brandon Marshall
Matt Moore; Eric Decker; Davone Bess(notes); Miami Defense; Denver Defense
Reggie Bush; Eddie Royal(notes); Anthony Fasano(notes)
Knowshon Moreno; Daniel Fells; Brian Hartline(notes); Demaryius Thomas
Broncos: WR Eddie Royal (groin); WR Demaryius Thomas (finger, Achilles)
Dolphins: RB Reggie Bush (neck)
Headline: Big day from Marshall spoils Tebow's return to Florida, Dolphins get first win
Final score: Dolphins 24, Broncos 20

Rashard Mendenhall(notes) broke out of his funk in a big way in Week 6 (23/146/1). And while he averaged just 3.5 YPC if you take away his 68-yard run against Jacksonville, a matchup against an Arizona defense that we last saw getting rolled over for 3 TDs by Adrian Peterson in Week 5 should give no cause for pause in regards to Mendenhall. The matchup, frankly, favors all facets of the Steelers offense, as Arizona allows the 12th-most yards per game. In addition to Ben Roethlisberger(notes) and Mike Wallace(notes) being attractive options, I'm calling for a breakout performance from Antonio Brown(notes), who doesn't have much to show for being the 23rd-most targeted WR to this point. The matchup is good for Brown and Wallace is dealing with a hamstring tweak, so he could be somewhat limited, which would only help Brown's cause. … The Steelers are allowing an uncharacteristic 4.6 YPC to RBs. Beanie Wells(notes), who has scored in all four games he's played in, is a definite green-light play. As for Larry Fitzgerald(notes), he's still ever-green, but he's scoreless in his past two games and was just 4/66/0 against Minnesota in Week 5 before heading to the bye. Steelers CB Ike Taylor(notes) has been excellent in coverage – his completion percentage allowed of 17.2 (5-of-29) is just ridiculous and easily the best among corners, according to Pro Football Focus. Taylor has uncommon size for the corner position and he represents a strong challenge for Fitzgerald. Another 4/66 type of effort might be in the Cards for Fitzgerald.
Ben Roethlisberger; Rashard Mendenhall; Beanie Wells; Larry Fitzgerald; Mike Wallace; Pittsburgh Defense
Early Doucet(notes); Hines Ward(notes); Heath Miller(notes)
Kevin Kolb(notes); Todd Heap(notes); Arizona Defense
Antonio Brown
Steelers: WR Mike Wallace (hamstring); G Doug Legursky(notes) (toe); S Troy Polamalu(notes) (head)
Cardinals: TE Todd Heap (hamstring)
Headline: Big Ben throws three TD tosses as Pittsburgh hands Cardinals fifth-straight loss
Final score: Steelers 31, Cardinals 20

Until Carson Palmer can acclimate to his new Oakland digs, expect Oakland to be even more run-heavy than usual. We don't yet know if Palmer or Kyle Boller(notes) will start this week, but figure it'll be a whole lot of Darren McFadden(notes) and a substantial side serving of Michael Bush(notes) no matter who is behind center. The one good thing is that emerging wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes) didn't skip a beat when Boller replaced the injured Jason Campbell(notes) late in the second quarter last week against Cleveland. DHB caught 4 of Boller's 8 completions for 52 yards, more than half of Boller's passing yardage total (100). DHB is rolling, and you should keep rolling with him in this undaunting matchup. … Oakland allows the third-most fantasy points to RBs, so those that spent a pretty penny on Jackie Battle after his big Week 5 performance should be eager to get him in their lineups. Dwayne Bowe(notes) is No. 4 among WRs in fantasy PPG over the past five weeks. He should thrive against a now Nnamdi Asomugha(notes)-less secondary. And Matt Cassel(notes), coming off a 4-TD pass performance, is certainly a valid option against an Oakland defense that has allowed 12 TD passes, the most in the league.
(Matt Cassel); Darren McFadden; Jackie Battle; Dwayne Bowe; (Darrius Heyward-Bey)
(Michael Bush); (Steve Breaston(notes)); Jacoby Ford(notes); Kevin Boss(notes); Oakland Defense
Oakland QB; Denarius Moore(notes); Leonard Pope(notes); Kansas City Defense
Michael Bush
Chiefs: RB Jackie Battle (head)
Raiders: QB Jason Campbell (collarbone)
Headline: Oakland ground attack buries KC
Final score: Raiders 27, Chiefs 19

Minnesota allows the 10th-most fantasy points to RBs, but that's a result of having allowed 320 yards and 2 TDs through the air to the position. On the ground, RBs are averaging less than 3.5 YPC. Neither James Starks(notes) or Ryan Grant(notes) has been able to get things going the past couple weeks and the Packers haven't generated much production from throwing to their RBs this season. Both backs seem like lackluster plays this week. This should be all about Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. In addition to Greg Jennings(notes), Jordy Nelson(notes) and Jermichael Finley(notes), James Jones(notes) looks like a solid play. He's scored in three straight games and had double-digit fantasy points against the Vikings in both meetings last season. … Christian Ponder(notes) showed some promise in his short stint replacing Donovan McNabb in Week 6. He starts this week and I think that'll be a positive move for Percy Harvin(notes), who caught Ponder's first two NFL completions for a combined 35 yards. Ponder is accurate and shows nice zip on shorter routes, so he should be able to utilize Harvin on those underneath, sideline-to-sideline crossing routes that McNabb was ill-suited for. With Green Bay allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to WRs, Harvin is the one Viking outside of Adrian Peterson that I can get behind this week.
Aaron Rodgers; Adrian Peterson; Greg Jennings; Percy Harvin; (Jordy Nelson); Jermichael Finley; Green Bay Defense
Christian Ponder; James Starks; Visanthe Shiancoe(notes); Minnesota Defense
Ryan Grant; Donald Driver(notes); Michael Jenkins(notes)
James Jones
Packers: CB Sam Shields(notes) (concussion)
Vikings: RT Phil Loadholt(notes) (knee); C John Sullivan(notes) (concussion)
Headline: Ponder shows promise, but Rodgers too much for Vikings as Packers move to 7-0
Final score: Packers 28, Vikings 17

Sam Bradford(notes) is dealing with a high ankle sprain on his left leg, and that makes his participation on Sunday an iffy proposition. This is a brutal matchup for St. Louis, a team that has allowed the most sacks (22). Whether it's backup A.J. Feeley(notes) or a hobbled Bradford behind center, this is not a time to mine the Rams passing game, even Brandon Lloyd. Steven Jackson, who rose above a tough matchup last week at Green Bay (125 YFS), is the only Ram I'd consider starting this week. … Dallas is also dealing with an injury to a key player as Felix Jones(notes) is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with an ankle sprain. It's a great opportunity for rookie DeMarco Murray(notes) to step up as the Rams allow the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs. Tashard Choice(notes) likely will figure into the mix, as well, but Murray has greater upside potential. As bad as the Rams are against RBs, they are even worse against WRs – worst in fantasy, in fact. Miles Austin(notes) and Dez Bryant(notes) are no-brainers. The interesting fact about the Rams defense is that they allow the fewest fantasy points to TEs. In fact, the Rams were second-best in fantasy against TEs last season and have allowed just 5 TDs to the position in their past 30 games, including zero this season. It's understandable to play Jason Witten(notes) this week, just understand that there's serious downside.
Tony Romo; Steven Jackson; (DeMarco Murray); Miles Austin; Dez Bryant; (Jason Witten); Dallas Defense
Tashard Choice; Brandon Lloyd; Lance Kendricks(notes)
St. Louis QB; Brandon Gibson(notes); St. Louis Defense
Greg Salas(notes)
Rams: QB Sam Bradford (ankle); RB Cadillac Williams (thigh); OT Rodger Saffold(notes) (leg)
Cowboys: RB Felix Jones (ankle); G Bill Nagy(notes) (ankle);
Headline: Cowboys build big early lead, coast to their third win
Final score: Cowboys 30, Rams 13

With Delone Carter(notes) and Donald Brown(notes) splitting up carries while Joseph Addai(notes) is out, it's hard to get excited about the Colts backfield against the seventh-stingiest defense in fantasy to RBs. But the Saints have allowed 5.5 YPC to RBs, and they've benefitted from having the fourth-fewest carry total against them. Saints DT Sedrick Ellis(notes) is a premier run stuffer, and he poses a problem for a between-the-tackles type like Carter. But versatile weapon Donald Brown makes an interesting flyer, and it wouldn't be surprising to see his workload increase given that he's averaged 5.6 YPC on 13 carries over the past two weeks, with a run of 16-plus yards in each game. The Saints have an experienced secondary, but they can't seem to stop getting burned by the big plays – their 5 pass plays of 40-plus yards allowed is the second-most in the league. Pierre Garcon(notes) has been Curtis Painter's(notes) big-play weapon, and his go-to guy – averaging more than 9 targets in the past four games. While Reggie Wayne(notes) is still serviceable, all the upside sits with Garcon. And certainly Dallas Clark(notes), coming off a 6/53/1 performance, is a solid option against a Saints defense that is one of only two teams to have allowed more than 400 receiving yards and at least 4 TDs to TEs. … The Colts have allowed at least 12 fantasy points to a RB in five of six games. There's clear opportunity for the Saints backs. Of course, because of his extreme role in the passing game, Darren Sproles(notes) (11 targets last week) is a must play for PPR leagues, and very viable in standard set-ups. But this could be a big week, in particular, for Mark Ingram(notes). He's actually outproduced Sproles in standard set-ups in each of the past two weeks. And he's been the milkman that Sean Payton has turned to when the Saints are nursing a lead, which is likely to be the case on Sunday night. As for the passing game, the Colts are giving up huge numbers to WRs – fourth-most in fantasy. Marques Colston(notes) is a strong play. And you're not even considering benching Jimmy Graham(notes) after four consecutive 100-yard games.
Drew Brees; (Curtis Painter); Mark Ingram; (Darren Sproles); Pierre Garcon; Marques Colston; (Reggie Wayne); Jimmy Graham; (Dallas Clark); New Orleans Defense
Delone Carter; Pierre Thomas(notes); Lance Moore(notes); Robert Meachem(notes)
Austin Collie(notes); Indianapolis Defense
Donald Brown
Colts: RB Joseph Addai (hamstring); CB Jerraud Powers(notes) (hamstring)
Saints: None of significance
Headline: Ingram scores twice as Saints keep Indy out of the win column
Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Jacksonville's defense remains much improved compared to last year's squad and it has held some good QBs in check, most notably Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger (both under 15 fantasy points). For a mid-level, and maddeningly inconsistent, fantasy entity like Joe Flacco(notes), your best bet is to look for better options first this week. Obviously you're playing Ray Rice(notes), and Anquan Boldin, coming off an 8/132 performance against Houston, has to be strongly considered. But the Raven I think looks better than usual is Ed Dickson(notes). His 7 targets per game average ranks eight among tight ends. And Jacksonville has allowed the eight-most fantasy points to tight ends, including 100-yard games to Dustin Keller and Jimmy Graham. … Mike Thomas(notes) remains heavily targeted in the Blaine Gabbert(notes) era, and Jason Hill(notes) has scored TDs in each of the past two games. But the fact remains that Jacksonville has produced the fewest QB fantasy points, second-fewest WR points and fourth-fewest TE points. And this is not the matchup where that trend takes a turn for the better – the Ravens have allowed the second-lowest QB Rating. I'm singing the same old song and dance for the Jags again this week – MoJo or no go.
Ray Rice; Maurice Jones-Drew(notes); (Anquan Boldin); (Ed Dickson); Baltimore Defense
Joe Flacco; Mike Thomas; Torrey Smith(notes)
Blaine Gabbert; Jason Hill; Marcedes Lewis(notes); Jacksonville Defense
Dennis Pitta(notes)
Ravens: WR Lee Evans(notes) (ankle)
Jags: DB Derek Cox(notes) (groin); LT Eugene Monroe(notes) (shoulder)
Headline: Ravens defense overwhelms Gabbert in national spotlight
Final score: Ravens 26, Jaguars 13
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