Matchup Meter: Vikings, Rams defenses adopt spirit of charity
Vikings defense has given up 18 touchdown passes, second-worst in the NFL
Rams are allowing 150.6 rushing yards per game and 5.1 YPC this season
No opposing running back has rushed for 100 yards in a game vs. the Falcons
Suddenly, Carson Palmer is relevant again. The veteran signal caller was beaten up in his first appearance for the silver and black, but rebounded with a pair of fantasy gems (631 yards and five touchdown passes in the past two weeks combined).
This week, Palmer will feast on a Minnesota defense that has given up 18 touchdown passes (only Indianapolis has allowed more). The Vikings' Achilles heel has been the big play, having allowed eight completions of 40 or more yards. And to make matters worse, Minnesota will be without cornerback Antoine Winfield (broken clavicle).
The Raiders have one of the AFC's most exciting young receiving corps, as three receivers have recorded a 100-yard game at some point this year. Of them, Denarius Moore offers the most potential this week. Palmer threw to the rookie almost exclusively last week after Jacoby Ford was lost to an injury. Fantasy owners can expect more of the same against Minnesota.
These matchups suggest success is around the corner for a number of suspect fantasy starters ...
Seattle's rushing attack vs. St. Louis' defense
Last week, Cleveland unknown Chris Ogbonnaya gained 90 yards on St. Louis -- one more letdown for the league's worst run defense. The Rams give up 150.6 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. They're also one of three teams to allow four or more carries of 40-plus yards.
Expect a big day from: Marshawn Lynch is starting to gain momentum, with 100-yard efforts in each of the past two weeks. Expect the fringe fantasy starter to keep his hot streak alive against the woeful Rams front seven.
Buffalo's passing attack vs. Miami's defense
Don't let the past two weeks fool you -- the Dolphins pass defense is one of the NFL's worst. It's the unit responsible for having allowed Tim Tebow's best fantasy passing performance of 2011, and the unit that allowed Tom Brady to rack up 517 yards in Week 1. Miami ranks 25th in passing yards allowed per game, and 27th in opponent QB Rating.
Expect a big day from: It's been a hard road for Ryan Fitzpatrick of late. In the last two games the Bills passer has five interceptions and just two touchdowns. Miami could be the cure. The Buffalo receiving corps is a bit banged up after the loss to Dallas, but if Steve Johnson (shoulder) suits up, fantasy owners should find a place for him in their lineup.
These fantasy stars might need a rest this week due to an unfavorable matchup on the horizon ...
Philadelphia's receivers vs. N.Y. Giants' defense
New York is one of nine NFL defenses with more interceptions (11) than touchdown passes allowed (10), and the only unit to have reached the 30-sack mark. The Giants make life miserable for opposing passers, which, in turn, makes life miserable for opposing receivers. In games played at MetLife Stadium this season, opposing quarterbacks have completed just 58.9 percent of their attempts.
Who to bench: Of course, the Giants defense is only one reason why fantasy owners should be concerned. Michael Vick's status is cloudy, DeSean Jackson's apology hardly has him out of Andy Reid's doghouse, and Jeremy Maclin is nursing a bum shoulder. Things are ugly in Philadelphia right now; stay away.
Tennessee's rushing attack vs. Atlanta's defense
Over the past two weeks the Falcons have allowed a total of just 124 rushing yards (37 carries). Nothing new, really. This season, Atlanta has given up fewer than 4.0 yards per carry, and only Cincinnati and San Francisco allow fewer rushing yards per game. No opposing back has gained 100 yards on the Falcons.
Who to bench: Chris Johnson's success may be short lived. A week after punishing the Panthers with a season-best 130 yards, the Titans up-and-down back must now face a defense that has allowed just three carries of 20-plus yards.
San Francisco's passing attack vs. Arizona's defense
Opponents have not racked up respectable passing numbers against Arizona. The Cardinals secondary has given up just nine touchdowns (tied for fourth fewest) and has limited opposing passers to an 82.1 QB Rating. And over the last three games, quarterbacks have thrown five interceptions without a single touchdown against Arizona.
Who to bench: Still love Alex Smith? Fantasy owners are beginning to trust the 49ers quarterback after seeing him guide his team to seven consecutive victories. An eighth win is on the horizon, but Smith's arm won't be responsible for it. As for Michael Crabtree, forget it.