Posted: Tuesday November 21, 2006 12:43PM; Updated: Tuesday November 21, 2006 12:43PM
MARC BULGERRams VS. 49ers Because of injuries he has played only one full home game against San Francisco, and that was in '03. At the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, Bulger (313.6 yards per game with eight TDs and just one pick indoors this season) takes aim at a Niners D that has given up an average of 33.8 points on the road.
PHILIP RIVERSChargers VS. Raiders Given LaDainian Tomlinson's propensity for destroying the Oakland defense every time he faces it, the efficient Rivers (230.7 yards per game, 15 TDs, five picks) will remain in the background this week while LT carries the ball 30 or so times (his average in his last seven games against the Raiders is 28.9).
TONY ROMOCowboys VS. Buccaneers So this is what Bill Parcells envisioned. With Terry Glenn effective again, Romo has a full complement of quality wideouts, two tight ends who are making hefty contributions and a healthy running attack to keep the defense guessing. All of which is too much for a banged-up secondary to handle.
TRENT GREENChiefs VS. Broncos On Sunday against the Raiders, Green, playing for the first time since being knocked out in Week 1 and without TE Tony Gonzalez (shoulder sprain), served merely as the go-between for Larry Johnson and the football. Don't expect much to change on Thursday against Denver's tough D, especially if Gonzo is out again.
JAKE DELHOMMEPanthers AT Redskins Washington's defense has allowed 20 passing touchdowns in 10 games -- and even with cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers healthy, the Redskins have given up 10 in their last four. Delhomme, meanwhile, has thrown at least one TD pass in seven of his last eight games.
REX GROSSMANBears AT Patriots The most inconsistent QB in fantasy football completes his three-week journey through the Northeast. Since he's facing a New England defense that has allowed only 154.8 passing yards per game to the last four starters it has faced not named Peyton Manning, it's a safe bet which Grossman will show up.
WALI LUNDYTexans AT Jets Lundy may get only a slice of his team's carries, splitting the job with Samkon Gado, but Houston coaches favor Lundy as the Texans' long-term solution in the backfield. And a game against New York provides an ideal platform for RBs with something to prove: The Jets have allowed 13 rushing TDs, most in the league.
DESHAUN FOSTERPanthers AT Redskins Poor DeShaun Foster. He was running splendidly against the Rams last week (7.0 yards per carry) when he went down with an elbow injury. Worse yet, his backup, DeAngelo Williams, racked up 114 easy yards. So even if Foster is healthy, expect to see more of Williams -- which hurts even more.
FRANK GORE49ers AT Rams Gore can gouge St. Louis, even when he's not the go-to guy; in Week 16 last year he tore off two TDs against the Rams coming off the bench. A starter this season, he ran for 127 yards and a touchdown against them in Week 2. Count on another stellar showing against the NFL's second-worst run defense.
THOMAS JONESBears AT Patriots Jones, one of two of the NFL's top 10 rushers who has not had a run of more than 30 yards, will have a hard time cracking a New England defense that is built to contain. The Pats have not allowed a run of more than 21 yards, and they're even tougher on the goal line, having given up just five rushing TDs.
RUDI JOHNSONBengals AT Browns Two things are certain with the Bengals: Chad Johnson will act like a fool in the end zone, and Rudi Johnson will torch Cleveland. Johnson ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns versus the Browns in Week 2, and in his last four games against Cleveland he's gone for 160.5 rushing yards a game and six TDs.
JAMAL LEWISRavens VS. Steelers Lewis went almost untouched on all three of his TD runs against the punchless Falcons on Sunday. Don't expect anything of the sort against Pittsburgh, which hasn't allowed an RB to top 92 yards all year. Lewis hasn't hit that mark against the Steelers since '03; he's averaged 58.2 yards in that five-game stretch.
JOE HORNSaints AT Falcons No quarterback on the planet has been as prolific as Drew Brees, who's totaled 1,605 yards in his last four games. Enter Horn, who looked completely healthy on a 72-yard touchdown romp on Sunday after sitting out two weeks with a strained groin. Moreover, the Falcons' D is without two of its top three corners.
EDDIE KENNISONChiefs VS. Broncos It's usually a wise move to sit a receiver if he's facing Denver, which has one of the league's best cover corners in Champ Bailey. This week Kennison not only has to go up against Bailey, but with Tony Gonzalez banged up, he also may have the added burden of extra defensive attention (read: John Lynch).
DARRELL JACKSONSeahawks VS. Packers Rejoice, all wideouts, when you see Green Bay on your upcoming schedule. The weekly Matt Hasselbeck watch won't impact Jackson, who's reached the end zone in five of his last six games, with Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace at QB. Jackson will burn the Pack, whoever's under center.
ROY WILLIAMSLions VS. Dolphins Miami's defense is on a roll, having given up only four TDs over its last three games -- while scoring three of its own. The Dolphins also haven't allowed a 100-yard receiving game in their last four games, and Williams has neither scored nor had 100 yards receiving in the last two weeks. He'll be wearing a bull's-eye.
LARRY FITZGERALDCardinals AT Vikings How many times have you heard that Fitzgerald was once a ball boy for Minnesota? Well, he finally returns to the Metrodome for the first time as a pro to show the folks in his hometown what Cris Carter and Randy Moss taught him. The Vikings have given up six TD passes in their last two home games.
DONTE' STALLWORTHEagles AT Colts No Philadelphia player is more adversely affected by Donovan McNabb's knee injury than Stallworth, the team's most dangerous downfield threat. Jeff Garcia has never been known for his ability to throw the deep ball (just ask T.O.) and will look to beat Indianapolis with short passes rather than long strikes.
ERIC JOHNSON49ers AT Rams First-round pick Vernon Davis (broken leg) hasn't seen significant action since Week 3, and Johnson has been erratic in relief duty. But Johnson should get one more start before he's benched in favor of a healthy Davis, and the opportunity comes against the Rams, whom he torched for 10 catches and 113 yards in Week 4 of 2004, his last full season.
HEATH MILLERSteelers AT Ravens Miller is in the midst of a miserable slump in which he hasn't topped 34 receiving yards since Week 1, and it's highly unlikely that he'll break out of it against Baltimore. The Ravens have already stymied a pair of Pro Bowl tight ends -- limiting the Falcons' Alge Crumpler to two catches on Sunday and the Chargers' Antonio Gates to four in Week 4.
MIKE VANDERJAGTCowboys VS. Buccaneers The "idiot kicker" gets a matchup even an idiot would love. A week after ending the Colts' perfect season, Dallas hosts Tampa Bay, which is mediocre against both the run (20th) and the pass (18th). With their offense healthy and firing on all cylinders, the Cowboys should run laps around the Bucs -- pausing for the occasional field goal.
ROBBIE GOULDBears AT Patriots For his part, Gould has been perfect this year. (He's 24 of 24 on field goal attempts.) But the Chicago offense has slowed to a crawl, which eliminates those 4-for-4 games Gould enjoyed in September. Also, after a tame day on the FieldTurf at Giants Stadium on Sunday, don't expect such kicker-friendly conditions in Foxborough.
COLTS VS. Eagles Take away Donovan McNabb and what does Philly have? Not much, as it demonstrated in his absence last year. In seven games sans McNabb, the Eagles never scored more than 23 points, and the fill-in QBs threw only five TD passes. They also tossed 11 picks, fumbled nine times and were sacked 23 times. Any D can work with that.
RAVENS VS. Steelers Miller's slump aside, Pittsburgh can still put up points. The Steelers are eighth in the league in scoring (23.9 points a game), and they've been especially hot since they struggled against San Diego in Week 5. In its last six games the team has averaged 29.7 points, and QB Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 291 yards per game.
BEWARE OF BUST
COREY DILLONRB PATRIOTS vs. Bears Don't let the Chicago defense, which is ranked No. 1 overall, dictate every facet of your fantasy plan. If the Bears are vulnerable anywhere, it's against the running game, especially since safety Mike Brown went down with a season-ending injury in Week 6. The weakness was demonstrated recently by poor showings against Frank Gore (111 rushing yards), Ronnie Brown (157) and Tiki Barber (141). Those are the kinds of numbers the lowly Raiders allow, and they're ranked 27th in rush defense. But even when Chicago has been a leaky sieve against the run, it still has had a consistent goal-line defense; none of those three rushers reached the end zone. But Giants bruiser Brandon Jacobs did -- twice -- and Dillon is similarly physical. He doesn't rack up a lot of yards (he averages just 51.0 per game), but he's punishing near the goal line, where he has four one-yard plunges and seven TDs overall.
WARRICK DUNNRB FALCONS vs. Saints The Baton Rouge native must absolutely hate it when the Saints come marching into Atlanta. Dunn hasn't topped 100 yards against the Falcons' division rival since Nov. 16, 2003, and he's never accomplished the feat in the Georgia Dome. Moreover, he had his worst game of the season against New Orleans in Week 3: He was held to 44 yards rushing, and he had two catches for two yards. Michael Vick's recent dedication to the passing game hasn't helped either. Before that, Dunn had averaged 102.2 yards rushing, but in the five games since Vick promised to pass more, Dunn has seen his numbers plummet, to 60.4 a game. The one consolation has been that Dunn is racking up more receptions and receiving yards, but the Saints' defense, which is 11th in the NFL against the pass, has allowed opposing running backs just one receiving TD (and 19.7 receiving yards per game) all year.
IS HE FOR REAL?
FISH OR CUT BAIT?
DEVERY HENDERSONWR SAINTS For the second time in three weeks New Orleans was without one of its top receivers, and for the second time in three weeks Devery Henderson came up big. He had only 110 receiving yards on the year before his 111-yard, two-TD day in Week 9 while filling in for an injured Joe Horn. On Sunday, Marques Colston went down on the opening series, and Henderson had a career-high 169 yards. Although he has been all-or-nothing this year (he has two games with no catches), Henderson's recent hot spell is too good to ignore.
TROY WILLIAMSONWR VIKINGS When he was selected out of South Carolina in April 2005, this speedster drew favorable comparisons with Randy Moss, the player he was drafted to replace in the Minnesota passing attack. But Williamson has failed to duplicate his predecessor's stats even at Moss's discounted Oakland rates, let alone at his All-Pro level with the Vikings. Williamson's three catches over his last three games and his two career TDs (both last season) are sure signs that the hype surrounding his fantasy potential completely outstrips his productivity.