Fantasy Pickups of the Week:

NFL Skinny: Week 7 Preview

Brandon Funston
Yahoo Sports

Please, NFL, don't give us another Jacksonville game in prime time. I find inept passing offenses incredibly hard to watch. Fortunately, the remaining prime-time schedule shows just one more game that could be tough on the eyes – San Francisco at Arizona. Hopefully, though, Mike Singletary will still be coaching and Alex Smith will still be starting for the 49ers. The drama that unfolds between those two can certainly makeup for the sorry Arizona passing attack.

Alright, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take a look at the task at hand. Here's my early take on how Week 7 will play out. …

Note: Detroit, Indianapolis, NY Jets and Houston are on bye in Week 7

Week 7 Preview
A snapshot of each Week 7 matchup

CINCINNATI BENGALS @ ATLANTA FALCONS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
BENGALS – 4.4 YPC | 6.2 YPA
FALCONS – 4.2 YPC | 7.7 YPA

What to watch for: Since allowing more than 100 rushing yards to Rashard Mendenhall(notes) and Tim Hightower(notes) in the first two games of the season, ATL has been downright stingy to opposing backs on the ground. CIN RB Cedric Benson(notes) went into his bye a week ago after a strong 23/144 line vs. TB in Week 5 and you can figure he'll get his 20 carries. I'm guessing they won't be that productive, however. In standard scoring leagues, my guess is Benson finishes with less than 10 fantasy points. ATL allows a Completion Rate of 68.9%, second-highest in the league. CIN QB Carson Palmer(notes) has been all over the place, but he has thrown for 345-plus yards in two of three road games and ATL just allowed 326 passing yards to PHI QB Kevin Kolb(notes) last week. I'd back Palmer as a top 12 fantasy QB play this week, and there's optimism for all of his receiving options. … CIN allows 4.5 YPC and does not present a problem, on paper, for ATL RB Michael Turner(notes). However, the ATL passing game is a bit tricky. CIN has done a solid job of taking out the opposing team's No. 1 WR. But ATL WR Roddy White(notes) is one of the most matchup-indifferent WR plays you'll find, and I'll probably never list him as anything but green here. Just know that there is more downside for him than usual this week. TEs have performed well against CIN for years, and 2010 is no exception. ATL TE Tony Gonzalez(notes) is a safe option. CIN has allowed the fourth-lowest Comp% (57.0), but it counts Jimmy Clausen(notes) and Seneca Wallace(notes) amongst the group of QBs it has faced, so take the solid pass defense numbers with a grain of salt. That said, CIN has a talented defense that does a good job of creating turnovers. ATL QB Matt Ryan(notes) feels like a caution flag this week as Turner could be leaned on heavily to the exclusion of the passing game.

Michael Turner, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Terrell Owens(notes), Carson Palmer
Matt Ryan, Cedric Benson, Chad Ochocinco(notes), Jermaine Gresham(notes), Atlanta Defense
Cincinnati Defense, Michael Jenkins(notes)
Sleeper: Jordan Shipley(notes), Jason Snelling(notes)
Key Injuries: ATL CB Dunta Robinson(notes) (head); ATL LB Sean Weatherspoon(notes) (knee)
Prediction: Atlanta 23, Cincinnati 17
WASHINGTON REDSKINS @ CHICAGO BEARS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
SKINS – 4.7 YPC | 7.1 YPA
BEARS – 3.5 YPC | 6.0 YPA

What to watch for: WAS RB Ryan Torain(notes) topped 100 yards and scored twice in Week 6. Don't expect an encore. Against IND, WAS was able to absolutely overpower the Colts at the line of scrimmage and the Colts' tackling was feeble. The CHI defense will not be close to the level of pushover that IND was. The Bears allow just 3.5 YPC and they induce a negative-yard or no-yard gain at a rate of 36.6%, seventh-best in the league. A straight-liner like Torain is liable to finish with a line similar to that of SEA RB Marshawn Lynch(notes) last week (17/44). Lynch scored a TD, and whether or not Torain does this week will be the difference between whether he's a non-factor or not. CHI has faced QBs Aaron Rodgers(notes), Tony Romo(notes), Eli Manning(notes), among others, and has allowed just 3 TD passes through six games. And it should be noted that CHI LB Lance Briggs(notes) is expected to be back in action this week after missing Week 6. WAS QB Donovan McNabb(notes) does not have more than 1 TD pass in any game this season and has a meager 72.4 QB Rating in two road games. Bath him in yellow this week. The only WAS player I feel good about is WR Santana Moss(notes). Go-to guys have done a pretty good number on CHI this season, with four WRs having caught at least eight passes against the Bears this season. Moss has been at least solid in five of six games, and I'm expecting more of the same. … CHI hasn't converted a 3rd down in its past two games. The O-line is cheesecloth, having allowed 27 sacks. CHI gets negative yardage or no-yards on 41.4% of its plays – only ARI and CAR have worse percentages. So, while WAS has allowed the most Yards from Scrimmage per game this season, how can you feel good about CHI right now? Well, HC Lovie Smith thinks that returning to a more balanced approach (CHI threw 47 times and ran just 12 times against SEA in Week 6) is needed. If that's the case, peak-and-valley RB Matt Forte(notes) looks like he might reach lofty heights this week against a WAS defense allowing 4.7 YPC. And, while the passing game may be dialed back, you should be able to count upon CHI WR Johnny Knox(notes) getting his usual deep opportunities. He's caught a pass of 26-plus yards in five of six games. I'm bullish on Forte and Knox, and bearish on the others.

Santana Moss, Matt Forte, Johnny Knox, Chicago Defense
Ryan Torain, Donovan McNabb, Jay Cutler(notes), Greg Olsen(notes), Chris Cooley(notes), Washington Defense
Anthony Armstrong(notes), Devin Hester(notes)
Sleeper: Chester Taylor(notes)
Key Injuries: WAS TE Chris Cooley (concussion); WAS LB Perry Riley(notes) (foot); CHI LB Lance Briggs (ankle)
Prediction: Chicago 20, Washington 18
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ TENNESSEE TITANS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
EAGLES – 4.2 YPC | 6.4 YPA
TITANS – 4.1 YPC | 6.6 YPA

What to watch for: It sounds like TEN QB Vince Young(notes) will be able to play through knee and ankle injuries he suffered on Monday night in Week 6. That said, I wouldn't expect him to do much more than hand the ball off to NFL-carry leader RB Chris Johnson. PHI is fast on defense, gets after the QB and is good at forcing turnovers. PHI also has three players among the league's top 22 in Passes Defended. I wouldn't bank on a TD in a fifth straight game for WR Kenny Britt(notes). In fact, if any Titan will step up in what is likely to be a very conservative passing game, I'd bet on TE Bo Scaife(notes), who is coming off a 4/53/1 performance on MNF. PHI has allowed the fifth-most FAN PPG to TEs. … TEN is the fourth-stingiest fantasy defense against RBs, but it sits at that ranking because it has allowed just 3 TDs to RBs this season. PHI RB LeSean McCoy(notes) has the kind of versatility that OAK RB Darren McFadden(notes) utilized in rolling up 95 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards against TEN in Week 1. We've also seen RBs Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) and Felix Jones(notes) enjoy nice success against the Titans, so I wouldn't shy away from Shady. It's also hard to sit WR Jeremy Maclin(notes), who now ranks fourth in fantasy at the WR position. He takes on an even bigger role this week given the likelihood that WR DeSean Jackson(notes) will sit this one out. TEN has allowed seven WRs to top 75 receiving yards in the past four games, and you know PHI will be throwing the ball. But you can bet QB Kevin Kolb will be looking heavily to his short and intermediate range options as TEN is leading the league with 24 QB sacks. Look for RB McCoy and TE Brent Celek(notes) to figure heavily. I can see Kolb finishing with similar numbers to his performance at SF on MNF a couple weeks ago (21-for-31, 253 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 4 sacks, 1 fumble lost).

Chris Johnson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Tennessee Defense, Philadelphia Defense
Kevin Kolb, Jason Avant(notes), Bo Scaife, Kenny Britt
Vince Young, Nate Washington(notes)
Sleeper: Javon Ringer(notes)
Key Injuries: PHI WR DeSean Jackson (concussion); PHI QB Michael Vick(notes) (chest); TEN QB Vince Young (knee, ankle)
Prediction: Philadelphia 24, Tennessee 21
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
JAGS – 4.2 YPC | 8.8 YPA
CHIEFS – 3.7 YPC | 6.9 YPA

What to watch for: With the exception of TE Marcedes Lewis(notes), all bets are off on the JAC passing game. If you watched that Monday night train wreck in Week 6, you know of what I speak. JAC WR Mike Thomas(notes) did manage an 8/88 line against the Titans, but he has 1 TD in 77 career catches. There's no upside for the WRs no matter if it's David Garrard(notes) (concussed in Week 6), Trent Edwards(notes) or Todd Bouman(notes) at QB. And, frankly, although I won't be so bold as to yellow flag RB Maurice Jones-Drew(notes), it's pretty apparent that he'll be facing stacked boxes until the passing game proves that it can be a sustainable threat, which won't happen this Sunday. MoJo is going to find it tough to pick up rushing yards against a KC defense that allows just 3.7 YPC, but I'll green light him because I think JAC will pull its head out and realize that he is one of the league's best receiving RBs and it is high time he's employed more heavily in that manner – KC allowed RB Frank Gore(notes) to catch nine passes for 102 yards in Week 3. … I know that the JAC defense and United Airlines share the same "Fly the friendly skies" slogan, but I'd be only cautiously optimistic about the KC passing game this week. The Chiefs have already faced some soft pass defenses and yet QB Matt Cassel(notes) has yet to throw more than 29 times, and he's only once topped 201 passing yards. In even the best of circumstances, I don't think you can ever call Cassel a green light. In three of the past four games, KC RBs Jamaal Charles(notes) and Thomas Jones(notes) have combined for 31-plus carries. This week should be more of the same.

Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Dwayne Bowe(notes), Maurice Jones-Drew, Marcedes Lewis, Kansas City Defense
Matt Cassel, Tony Moeaki(notes)
Jacksonville QB, Mike Sims-Walker(notes), Mike Thomas, Chris Chambers(notes), Jacksonville Defense
Sleeper: Dexter McCluster(notes)
Key Injuries: JAC QB David Garrard (head)
Prediction: Kansas City 27, Jacksonville 14
PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ MIAMI DOLPHINS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
STEELERS – 2.7 YPC | 6.7 YPA
DOLPHINS – 4.1 YPC | 7.0 YPA

What to watch for: These two teams met with playoff implications on the line in Week 17 of last season. And although I think that 30-24 result is probably too high of a score to expect this time around, I do see the main fantasy components on the PIT side delivering in a similar manner. QB Ben Roethlisberger(notes) has breathed the expected life into the passing game and now WRs Mike Wallace(notes) and Hines Ward(notes) become regular chartreuse options, if not better. My guess is that PIT will strive for a nice run/pass balance, but Big Ben may be leaning more to his conservative route options like Ward and TE Heath Miller(notes) in a tough environment against a MIA team that gets good pressure on the QB. I'll green light Ward and Miller and push Wallace under the caution flag – MIA has allowed the seventh-fewest pass plays of 20-plus yards. … Sitting RBs against PIT is obvious, especially platoon RBs from the ninth-worst backfield in fantasy. But don't discount WR Brandon Marshall(notes). PIT has been much better than average against opposing WRs in fantasy, but much of that has to do with facing CLE, TEN and TB in three of its five games. ATL WR Roddy White went for 13/111 against PIT in Week 1 and BAL picked up a combined 16/197/1 from the WR trio of Anquan Boldin(notes), Derrick Mason(notes) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh(notes). I'd stick with the Marshall Plan this week. But I'm steering clear of the rest of the Dolphins.

Brandon Marshall, Rashard Mendenhall, Hines Ward, Heath Miller, Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Defense
Ronnie Brown(notes), Chad Henne(notes), Davone Bess(notes)
Ricky Williams(notes), Anthony Fasano(notes), Miami Defense
Sleeper:
Key Injuries: PIT DE Brett Keisel(notes) (hamstring); MIA LB Karlos Dansby(notes) (knee)
Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Miami 16
CLEVELAND BROWNS @ NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
BROWNS – 4.0 YPC | 8.0 YPA
SAINTS – 3.9 YPC | 6.6 YPA

What to watch for: CLE operates the second-worst offense in the league (14.7 PPG) but RB Peyton Hillis(notes) has managed to make himself unbenchable in fantasy leagues regardless of his situation. He's scored in five of six games and had more YFS (90) against PIT in Week 6 than any previous RB this season. Hillis, however, is not the only relevant fantasy commodity for this anemic offense. TE Benjamin Watson(notes) is the No. 5 fantasy TE for the past five weeks, outscoring pillars of the position like Dallas Clark(notes), Tony Gonzalez and Chris Cooley, among others, in that span. He clicked particularly well with rookie QB Colt McCoy(notes), who looks like he'll get the start in NO, going for 6/88/1 in Week 6. NO has allowed the seventh-most FAN PPG to TEs. … For NO, only QB Drew Brees(notes) is a sure thing. The backfield is a convoluted mess. But I think you can think of it as a lower-middle class version of what NO had last year if you plug Chris Ivory into the Pierre Thomas(notes) role, Ladell Betts(notes) into the Reggie Bush(notes) role and Julius Jones(notes) filling that milkman role of Mike Bell(notes) (seven of his nine carries in Week 6 came in the second half after NO had a big lead on TB). Of the three, you want Ivory, but the upside is limited because of the backfield usage patterns. And, let's face it, CLE is not as bad a run defense as TB, who let Ivory run up and downfield in Week 6. NO WR Robert Meachem(notes) is starting to find his mojo, having caught TD passes of 35-plus yards in each of the past two. There's a good chance he'll keep it rolling on Sunday against a CLE defense that is yielding 12.6 yards per completion, fifth-most in the league. But, frankly, there's upside here for anyone in the NO WR corps to step up and grab, and it is not easy to predict who it will be. I'm casting most all of them in chartreuse light this week, but awarding only Meachem green light status.

Drew Brees, Robert Meachem, Peyton Hillis, Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Defense
Chris Ivory, Marques Colston(notes), Lance Moore(notes), Ladell Betts
Cleveland QBs, Cleveland WRs, Cleveland Defense
Sleeper: Julius Jones
Key Injuries: CLE WRs Joshua Cribbs(notes) and Mohamed Massaquoi(notes) (concussions); NO CB Jabari Greer(notes) (shoulder)
Prediction: New Orleans 27, Cleveland 12
ST. LOUIS RAMS @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
RAMS – 4.4 YPC | 6.8 YPA
BUCS – 5.3 YPC | 7.1 YPA

What to watch for: TB is one of just three teams in the league allowing more than 6.0 yards per play. It is allowing a league-worst 5.3 YPC, a fact NO RB Chris Ivory is now well aware of. It is easy to imagine STL going more run-heavy than usual with RB Steven Jackson and using play action to burn TB deep. We've seen this happen often this season against TB – league-high 1.4 pass plays of 40-plus yards allowed per game. The deep ball recipient could very well be Week 6 man of mystery, rookie Danario Alexander(notes). He caught a 38-yard TD pass from QB Sam Bradford(notes) against SD and he'll surely be a big part of the receiving mix on Sunday. … For fantasy purposes, it doesn't get much worse than the TB backfield platoon which has not produced one RB currently among the top 40 RBs in fantasy. If I was in a desperate spot, I might consider Cadillac Williams given the matchup and the fact that RB Earnest Graham(notes) is not completely healthy and RB Kareem Huggins(notes) is out for the year. STL has been a bit shaky on the road in pass defense, allowing an average of 21.5 FAN PPG (standard scoring) to the QBs of OAK and DET. QB Josh Freeman(notes) has reliable weapons in WR Mike Williams and TE Kellen Winslow(notes) and I think, with a sprinkling of Caddy mixed in out of the backfield, he'll will ultimately deliver his fourth game with at least 20 FAN PTS – I'm putting him down as a green light, but consider him to have more of a chartreuse hue.

Steven Jackson, Mike Williams, Josh Freeman, Kellen Winslow
Sam Bradford, Danny Amendola(notes), Carnell Williams(notes), St. Louis Defense
Daniel Fells(notes), Tampa Bay Defense, Sammie Stroughter(notes), Brandon Gibson(notes)
Sleeper: Danario Alexander
Key Injuries: TB RB Earnest Graham (hamstring); TB RB Kareem Huggins (knee); STL CB Ronald Bartell (wrist); STL CB Justin King(notes) (hamstring); STL LB Na'il Diggs(notes) (knee)
Prediction: St. Louis 20, Tampa Bay 17
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ CAROLINA PANTHERS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
49ERS – 3.9 YPC | 7.0 YPA
CATS – 3.8 YPC | 6.1 YPA

What to watch for: SF finally got a win in Week 6, but it was ugly. SF QB Alex Smith completed less than 50% of his passes last week and goes against a CAR defense allowing the fifth-lowest Comp% (57.2) in the league. And the Panthers are typically much tougher at home, having allowed just one QB to top 225 passing yards in their past 10 home contests. I'm not going to considering Smith or WR Michael Crabtree(notes) this week. CAR has allowed just one WR to top 11 FAN PTS this season. For the Niners, it's RB Frank Gore and TE Vernon Davis(notes). … CAR QB Matt Moore(notes) returns to the starter role for the Panthers, but this is of no concern to us for as long as WR Steve Smith is out with an ankle injury – and it sounds like he still is. Frankly, you can't have confidence for anyone employed by an offense averaging a league-low 10.4 PPG. Especially when it is going against a SF defense that has allowed the ninth-fewest YFS per game (312).

Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, San Francisco Defense
DeAngelo Williams(notes), Carolina Defense, Michael Crabtree
Alex Smith, Josh Morgan(notes), Jonathan Stewart(notes), Carolina QBs, Carolina WRs
Sleeper:
Key Injuries: SF TE Vernon Davis (knee); CAR WR steve Smith (ankle)
Prediction: San Francisco 17, Carolina 14
BUFFALO BILLS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
BILLS – 4.8 YPC | 7.6 YPA
RAVENS – 4.3 YPC | 6.2 YPA

What to watch for: Only the NYG and SD allow fewer YFS per game than BAL (278.8). Only ARI and CAR produce fewer YFS per game than BUF. When it comes to Bills this week, there's nothing to see here. Keep moving, people. … BUF has allowed no fewer than 34 points in each of its past four games. It allows the second-most FAN PPG to RBs, making RB Ray Rice(notes) a slam dunk and backup RB, and former Bill, Willis McGahee(notes) an interesting sleeper. BUF also allows the most FAN PPG to TEs. If TE Todd Heap(notes) can come back from a vicious hit from NE DB Brandon Meriweather(notes) in Week 7 (and it's looking good, so far), he's someone you have to consider strongly. And in really deep leagues, backup TE Ed Dickson(notes) could be a sneaky play – you have to think that even if Heap does play, he'd exit early if/when BAL builds a sizeable lead. BAL may not throw it much in this contest, because they won't have to, so I'd trust only QB Joe Flacco(notes) and WR Anquan Boldin and leave re-emerging WR Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh on the bench.

Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Defense
Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Fred Jackson(notes), Lee Evans(notes)
Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes), Steve Johnson(notes), C.J. Spiller(notes), T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Buffalo TEs, Buffalo Defense
Sleeper: Willis McGahee, Ed Dickson
Key Injuries: BAL TE Todd Heap (shoulder); BAL S Tom Zbikowski(notes) (heel); BAL S Ed Reed(notes) (hip)
Prediction: Baltimore 30, Buffalo 14
ARIZONA CARDINALS @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
CARDS – 4.3 YPC | 7.0 YPA
HAWKS – 2.9 YPC | 7.4 YPA

What to watch for: ARI has allowed 41 points in each of its past two road games. SEA, having scored 58 points in two home games, is brimming with confidence after a statement win on the road at CHI in Week 6, showing a tough, balanced offense and a blitz-happy defense. It's clear that RB Marshawn Lynch will be a big part of the SEA offense, and he should be good for another 15-20 carries against an ARI defense that will be much more accommodating (4.3 YPC) than CHI was. ARI has also been fairly generous to WRs and after being targeted 15 times by QB Matt Hasselbeck(notes) last week, it would be hard to sit down WR Mike Williams this week. The matchup is not bad for Hasselbeck, either, but he hasn't topped 242 passing yards this season and has just 5 TD passes in five games. Good matchup or not, you have to think conservatively about his prospects in week 7. … Count on SEA to continue bringing the pressure on ARI rookie QB Max Hall(notes). He'll, no doubt, being dialing up hot routes for WR Larry Fitzgerald(notes) often. Fitzgerald should be a solid PPR option this week as SEA DBs aren't that big and don't excel in press coverage. SEA has been straight-up staunch against the run and RB Beanie Wells(notes) doesn't look like he stands much of a chance this week. But RB Tim Hightower is interesting because of his receiving skills out of the backfield. SEA has allowed 40-plus yard receiving to a RB in four of five games. But ARI hasn't tapped into Hightower's receiving skills much this season and I'd prefer to steer clear of both RBs in this one.

Marshawn Lynch, Mike Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Seattle Defense
Deion Butler, Justin Forsett(notes), John Carlson(notes)
Arizona Defense, Max Hall, Beanie Wells, Ben Patrick(notes), Steve Breaston(notes), Ben Patrick
Sleeper: Brandon Stokley(notes), Tim Hightower
Key Injuries: SEA CB Kelly Jennings(notes) (hamstring); ARI WR Steve Breaston (knee); ARI WR Stephen Williams(notes) (back)
Prediction: Seattle 26, Arizona 16
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS @ SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
PATS – 4.0 YPC | 7.6 YPA
BOLTS – 3.7 YPC | 6.1 YPA

What to watch for: There's definitely more of a spread-the-wealth feel to the NE offense now that WR Randy Moss(notes) is gone. Interestingly enough, there were as many players that had a carry for NE last week (6) as there were that caught a pass (6). The NFL's top-scoring offense scored just 23 points in its first game without WR Randy Moss in Week 6, but it got the win and it was the most points against BAL this season. QB Tom Brady(notes) threw it 44 times against the Ravens, and that's probably going to be a typical pass attempt number for him. Nothing has changed here in regards to how much emphasis NE puts on throwing the ball. It's just a more controlled, efficient approach with WRs Deion Branch(notes) and Wes Welker(notes) working the short and intermediate areas with RB Danny Woodhead(notes) being used liberally out of the backfield. TE Aaron Hernandez(notes) is the field stretcher, although WR Brandon Tate(notes) (4 targets, 0 catches in Week 6) could still develop into something worthwhile in that regard eventually. SD allows the fewest YFS per game and ranks as the second-toughest unit in fantasy against opposing WRs, but it has faced just one team (STL) that ranks in the top 20 in passing. The Chargers struggle against TEs, a long-time soft spot of this attacking defense. I'm feeling especially good about TE Aaron Hernandez this week, and moderately optimistic for Welker and Branch. … SD will be without WR Malcom Floyd(notes) and TE Antonio Gates'(notes) services are not guaranteed as he's dealing with a sprained toe. Head coach Norv Turner has talked up the fact that rookie RB Ryan Mathews(notes) is his guy and now is a great time to put his money where his mouth is. NE has been decent against the run, but the threat of QB Philip Rivers'(notes) arm should keep NE from loading up against the run, especially if Gates can play. I'm guessing Rivers will have a modest day, with either Buster Davis or Patrick Crayton(notes) stepping up big in Floyd's absence. But I think Mathews finally has his day in the sun, getting 20-plus carries and his first 100-yard game as a pro. Of course, RB Mike Tolbert(notes) remains likely to vulture any goal-line glory carries that might arise.

Tom Brady, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Antonio Gates
Deion Branch, San Diego Defense, Mike Tolbert, Patrick Crayton
Benjarvus Green-Ellis(notes), Brandon Tate, New England Defense, Legedu Naanee(notes)
Sleeper: Danny Woodhead, Buster Davis, Darren Sproles(notes)
Key Injuries: SDG TE Antonio Gates (ankle); SD WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring); SD PK Nate Kaeding(notes) (groin); SD WR Legedu Naanee; NE S Jarrad Page(notes) (calf)
Prediction: San Diego 23, New England 21
OAKLAND RAIDERS @ DENVER BRONCOS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
RAIDERS – 5.0 YPC | 7.3 YPA
BRONCOS – 4.4 YPC | 7.1 YPA

What to watch for: It looks likely that QB Kyle Boller(notes) will be behind center for OAK on Sunday. DEN is not the best team to go fishing for passing production in fantasy as it is, but Boller has 50 INTs and 21 fumbles lost in 60 career games and has thrown for more than 210 yards just twice in his past 19 games. Other than star TE Zach Miller, you shouldn't waste your time with the OAK passing game. RB Michael Bush(notes) would be attractive if RB Darren McFadden misses another week with his hamstring injury. DEN has allowed 4.4 YPC and OAK should be able to run with success, and run often. But if McFadden returns, it would be a bit tough trying to put a finger on how the platoon might work in Run-DMC's first game back. If both play, put them under the caution flag. But I'll rank Bush as a green light for now, assuming that McFadden rests one more week. … Fantasy owners' eyes light up when they see their RB facing OAK (or at least they should). OAK allows 5.0 YPC and DEN RB Knowshon Moreno(notes) returned from injury last week to put up a respectable 12/48 line against a NYJ defense allowing just 3.6 YPC. Moreno is healthy and had two solid games against OAK last season. Feel good basking him in green this week. QB Kyle Orton(notes) is expected to continue giving up some goal-line work to rookie QB Tim Tebow(notes). Not ideal, but not damning to Orton's value. Orton has 6 TD passes of 13 yards or more this season and he has the second-most passing yards in the league. Giving up some goal line work won't be the end of the world for Orton, who hasn't had a bad game yet. WR Brandon Lloyd(notes) is unbenchable, even if he draws OAK CB Nnamdi Asomugha(notes). And if WR Eddie Royal(notes) can't play with his sore hamstring (I'm guessing he won't), consider WR Jabar Gaffney(notes) more than good to go as well.

Knowshon Moreno, Kyle Orton, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Michael Bush, Zach Miller
Denver Defense
Daniel Graham(notes), Oakland Defense, Kyle Boller, Louis Murphy(notes), Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes)
Sleeper: Demaryius Thomas(notes)
Key Injuries: OAK QB Jason Campbell(notes) (knee); OAK QB Bruce Gradkowski(notes) (shoulder); OAK RB Darren McFadden (hamstring); DEN WR Eddie Royal (groin)
Prediction: Denver 24, Oakland 13
MINNESOTA VIKINGS @ GREEN BAY PACKERS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
VIKES – 3.8 YPC | 5.9 YPA
PACK – 4.5 YPC | 6.5 YPA

What to watch for: It hasn't been hard to sell the drama for MIN the past few weeks. We had WR Randy Moss' return to MIN a couple weeks ago on MNF vs. the NYJ. Then we had Desperation Bowl last week between MIN and DAL. Now we get Brett Favre(notes) taking a trip to his former Lambeau Field home. He was great in his return to Lambeau last season, throwing 4 TDs without a turnover. Unfortunately, he's not the same guy he was a year ago. He is still great in spurts, but he too often looks disconnected, like he's simply going through the motions. He's also produced a 53.7 QB rating in the 4th quarter this season compared to a 111.2 mark in the final frame in '09. GB is allowing the seventh-most FAN PPG to QBs, but a lot of that has to do with rushing yards allowed to Michael Vick, Jay Cutler and Shaun Hill(notes) (combined 193 rushing yards). In the past five games GB has 7 INTs and has been league average against QBs in fantasy. I'm not convinced Favre will have another happy homecoming. I'm expecting RB Adrian Peterson to handle the rock 25-30 times as MIN tries to grind out a win in a conservative fashion. … Even though GB RB Brandon Jackson(notes) has played well the past two games, MIN should have little trouble handling the GB running game – it has only really had trouble with the NYJ running game, thus far, and that's understandable for any defense. Last season, QB Aaron Rodgers threw it no less than 37 times in each of his two meetings with MIN. He's without TE Jermichael Finley(notes) and WR Donald Driver(notes) is dealing with a sore quad which could be an issue on Sunday night. Rodgers is going to have to lean on WR Greg Jennings(notes), and WRs Jordy Nelson(notes) and James Jones(notes) could also see significant work along the lines of what we saw last week – both finished with more than 60 yards.

Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings, Green Bay Defense
Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Percy Harvin(notes), Minnesota Defense, Donald Driver
Brandon Jackson
Sleeper: Jordy Nelson , James Starks(notes)
Key Injuries: GB WR Donald Driver (quad); GB RT Mark Tauscher(notes) (shoulder); GB LB Brady Poppinga(notes) (knee); GB LB Clay Matthews(notes) (hamstring); GB LB A.J. Hawk(notes) (groin); GB CB Al Harris(notes) (knee); MIN SS Husain Abdullah(notes) (head)
Prediction: Green Bay 27, Minnesota 23
NEW YORK GIANTS @ DALLAS COWBOYS

Key Stats
(Defense)
:
GIANTS – 3.5 YPC | 6.3 YPA
BOYS – 4.2 YPC | 7.2 YPA

What to watch for: The NYG have shut the doors on RBs Matt Forte, Arian Foster(notes) and Jahvid Best(notes) the past three weeks. So, while RB Felix Jones is starting to feel the workload love in DAL, he can be consider no more than a cautionary tale this week. Figure that QB Tony Romo takes to the air around 40 times, a mark he's surpassed in three of five games. He gets decent protection (1 sack or less in all but one game) and he has, for my money, the best collection of receiving talent in the league. And even though it's a tough matchup, I'd give strong consideration to all regulars of the DAL passing attack. … NYG RB Ahmad Bradshaw has yet to have a game in which he's delivered less than 89 YFS. He's a pint-sized beast and DAL has not been a slam-the-door-shut defense against the run (4.2 YPC). Feel good about Bradshaw once again. DAL has been better than average against the QB and WR positions in fantasy, but you kind of throw that out the window when it comes to NYG/DAL matchups. NYG WR Steve Smith lit up DAL like a Christmas tree last season, topping 100 yards in each meeting, and he's gaining steam with 70-plus yards in three of his past four games. I think he'll be the color of money once again. WR Hakeem Nicks(notes) came up small last week, but he's still a top 3 fantasy WR and has too much upside to bench. I tend to think this will be a high-scoring affair – four of the past five meetings have produced no less than 49 points – and I'm inclined to think favorably of the entire NYG starting offensive contingent, with the exception of TE Kevin Boss(notes).

Tony Romo, Miles Austin(notes), Jason Witten(notes), Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith, NY Giants Defense
Roy Williams, Dez Bryant(notes), Felix Jones, Dallas Defense
Marion Barber(notes), Kevin Boss
Sleeper: Mario Manningham(notes)
Key Injuries: DAL QB Tony Romo (thumb); DAL G Kyle Kosier(notes) (Achilles); NYG PK Lawrence Tynes(notes) (ankle); NYG DE Mathias Kiwanuka(notes) (neck); NYG LB Keith Bulluck(notes) (toe)
Prediction: NY Giants 26, Dallas 24

Note: YPC stands for Yards Per Carry; YPA stands for Yards Per (Pass) Attempt

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