Joe Flacco @ Houston
Analysis: Flacco has been solid over the past seven weeks, averaging 267 passing yards and two touchdowns per game. Houston ranks last in the NFL against the pass, so this is a great time to start Flacco, especially coming off of a tough loss to Pittsburgh.
Josh Freeman @ Washington
Analysis: Freeman has been a borderline #1 starter this season, and ranks just outside the top ten in fantasy scoring for quarterbacks. Tampa Bay has to win this week to remain in the playoff hunt. Washington ranks 29th against the pass, and looks like a team that has packed it in. I like Freeman this week.
QB’s With Good Matchups: Jay Cutler vs New England, Mike Vick vs Dallas, Kyle Orton vs Arizona, Peyton Manning vs Tennessee, Phillip Rivers vs Kansas City
Peyton Hillis @ Buffalo
Analysis: This is a fantastic matchup for Hillis. He should shred the Bills, who rank last in the NFL against the rush.
Knowshon Moreno @ Arizona
Analysis: Moreno is coming off one of his best days as a professional. Arizona gives up a ton of points to opposing running backs, and to top that off, Denver’s running backs coach just took over as head coach after Josh McDaniels was fired this week.
RB’s With Good Matchups: Tim Hightower vs Denver, Chris Johnson vs Indianapolis, Michael Turner vs Carolina, Rashard Mendenhall vs Cincinnati, Maurice Jones-Drew vs Oakland, Frank Gore vs Seattle
Anquan Boldin @ Houston
Analysis: Boldin has been inconsistent this season, but had a nice game against Pittsburgh, and now faces a poor Houston secondary that has allowed seven different receivers to eclipse the 100 yard mark.
Earl Bennett vs New England
Analysis: Bennett has averaged 15 fantasy points over the past two weeks in most standard leagues. New England’s secondary has been awful this season. This matchup looks good for Jay Cutler and Bennett owners this week.
WR’s With Good Matchups: Michael Crabtree vs Seattle, Mike Williams (Tampa Bay) vs Washington, DeSean Jackson vs Dallas, Jacoby Ford vs Jacksonville, Brandon Lloyd vs Arizona, Terrell Owens vs Pittsburgh, Reggie Wayne vs Tennessee
Ben Watson @ Buffalo
Analysis: Watson is coming off a terrific performance last week where he caught 10 balls for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins. This week, Watson faces a Buffalo team that has been very generous to opposing tight ends.
TE’s With Good Matchups: Tony Gonzalez vs Carolina, Vernon Davis vs Seattle, Greg Olsen vs New England, Kellen Winslow vs Washington
Atlanta @ Carolina
Analysis: Atlanta has proven they can stop the run. If Carolina is forced to lean on Jimmy Clausen to move the chains, Atlanta’s defense will have a great day.
Defenses With Good Matchups: San Francisco vs Seattle, New Orleans vs St. Louis, Pittsburgh vs Cincinnati, Tampa Bay vs Washington
Matt Cassel @ San Diego
Analysis: Cassel had his appendix removed on Wednesday, and although the team says he’ll return to work this week, start considering other options.
Minnesota QB vs NY Giants
Analysis: It doesn’t matter what Viking QB starts this week, this is not a favorable matchup against the 2nd ranked pass defense in the NFL.
Other QB’s With Tough Matchups: Sam Bradford vs New Orleans, Kerry Collins vs Indianapolis, Donovan McNabb vs Tampa Bay, David Garrard vs Oakland
Marshwan Lynch @ San Francisco
Analysis: Lynch was a beast last week against Carolina, but don’t be fooled. That was Lynch’s first multi-score game since Sept. 21, 2008 against Oakland — a span of 40 games. Lynch has been a non-factor for the 11 games prior to last week’s outburst; he’ll return to Earth this week against a top-10 rush defense.
Mike Goodson vs Atlanta
Analysis: Goodson has been solid the last three weeks, but with the return of Jonathan Stewart, his production will decrease. The Falcons have been stingy against the run so Stewart will have his work cut out for him as well.
Other RB’s With Tough Matchups: Cedric Benson vs Pittsburgh, BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs Chicago, Ronnie Brown vs NY Jets, Brandon Jacobs vs Minnesota, Thomas Jones vs San Diego
Brandon Marshall @ NY Jets
Analysis: Marshall has been a major disappointment this season, with two 100 yard games and only one touchdown. This week he faces off against Darrelle Revis. Bench him.
Danny Amendola @ New Orleans
Analysis: Amendola has been solid for several weeks, but now faces a tough Saints team that needs a win to stay in playoff contention. The Saints have locked-down most opposing receivers and rank 3rd in the NFL in pass defense. This isn’t a good week for the St. Louis offense.
Other WR’S With Tough Matchups: Dwayne Bowe vs San Diego, Sidney Rice vs NY Giants, Santonio Holmes vs Miami, Santana Moss vs Tampa Bay
Joel Dreessen vs Baltimore
Analysis: Dreeseen has been solid, but Owen Daniels is expected to return and will steal some of Dreessen’s catches. Besides that, Baltimore shuts down opposing tight ends as well as any defense in the NFL.
Other TE’S With Tough Matchups: Visanthe Shiancoe vs NY Giants, Tony Moeaki vs San Diego, Brandon Pettigrew vs Green Bay
Dallas vs Philadelphia
Analysis: Philadelphia comes into this game ranked #1 in total offense. I expect another strong game from Michael Vick against a poor Dallas pass defense.
Other Defenses With Tough Matchups: Kansas City vs San Diego, St. Louis vs New Orleans, Detroit vs Green Bay
STEELER FANTASY IMPACT
QB Ben Roethlisberger
Analysis: Roethlisberger showed real toughness last week playing through a foot injury and broken nose. He seemed to have earned a lot of respect from the national media and appears on his way to re-building his tarnished reputation. His stats have been mediocre over the past two weeks, but Ben and the Steelers keep finding ways to win games. Statistically, Ben has had four great games and four mediocre games since his return, so it’s hard to gauge his fantasy value from week-to-week. Cincinnati is a middle-of-the-pack pass defense that can be exploited. I’d feel much better about this matchup if Roethlisberger wasn’t dealing with injuries and possible poor weather conditions, but unless you have another terrific option, you have to start him.
RB Rashard Mendenhall
Analysis: Mendenhall finished with his second-lowest rushing total of the season in week 13 against the Ravens. He carried the ball 19 times for just 45 yards, a 2.4 yards per carry average. Mendenhall will look to bounce back against a Cincinnati team that has allowed an opposing running back to eclipse the 100-yard mark in two of the last three weeks. The forecast is calling for rain and snow on Sunday, which could mean that Mendenhall will have to carry the load.
WR Hines Ward
Analysis: Ward has had a tough stretch. If you take away the Buffalo game, Ward has been nearly invisible over the past six weeks. In his last game against Cincinnati, Ward had three catches for 10 yards and a touchdown. It is hard to rely on Ward right now and I can’t recommend starting him until he shows some consistency.
WR Mike Wallace
Analysis: Wallace had a productive day against Baltimore last week, finishing with five catches for 76 yards. Wallace was unable to go deep, but did catch some quick passes and turned them into nice gains. The Bengals have allowed an opposing receiver to gain 100 yards in two of their last three games.
TE Heath Miller
Analysis: Miller is doubtful for this Sunday’s game after taking a vicious hit to the head last week in Baltimore. Matt Spaeth will start in his place and David Johnson will be the No. 2. Johnson caught three passes for 37 yards last week.