MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
Carolina's 5'9" mighty mite has been a giant points producer this season.
But what will happen when he faces the aggressive, almost airtight defensive
schemes of coordinator Jim Johnson?
Since being sidelined for the first two games with a hamstring injury, Smith
has either scored a touchdown or had at least 100 receiving yards in eight of
nine games. And he has proved to be more than just a deep threat. Lining up in
the slot or split wide, Smith has often been Carolina's go-to guy on
intermediate routes, reverses and trick plays.
LITO SHEPPARD AND
THE EAGLES' DEFENSE
A solid cover corner who mans the right side, Sheppard has been bothered by a
bad hip. Still, he will see most of the action against Smith, with occasional
help from fellow corner Sheldon Brown. Thanks to those two--and Johnson's
reliance on the blitz-- Philadelphia's D is among the league's stingiest in
allowing passing TDs (10) and passing yards per game (180.5).
Though Sheppard & Co. have excelled in coverage, the Eagles have struggled
to get to the quarterback recently, producing just six sacks in their last six
games. Without more pressure it won't matter how good the coverage is on Smith;
he'll eventually get open for big gains.
THE INSIDE MAN
Texan Hold 'Em
Yes, Houston has
problems, but that doesn't mean that Andre Johnson's stats will suffer
who�are concerned about production from top receivers on bad teams need
not worry about the Texans' fourth-year man Andre Johnson, who is bouncing back
from a disappointing 2005 (career lows of 688 yards and two touchdowns). Rookie
coach Gary Kubiak has made Johnson a top priority in the offense. As one team
source says, "I don't want to criticize what we've done in the past, but
Gary came in with the attitude that Andre should have 100 catches a year. We've
moved him around more than we ever have, and this staff has just found ways to
get him the football."
The presence of
11-year veteran Eric Moulds has helped Johnson, who caught 10 balls for 98
yards and a TD against the Jets on Sunday. Moulds (49 catches for 510 yards)
may have lost a couple of steps, but he's still dangerous enough to keep
defenses from doubling Johnson on every play. Through Sunday, Johnson led the
NFL with a career-best 84 receptions and was on pace to eclipse his '04 career
highs of 1,142 yards and six TDs. As long as Houston's line can provide
adequate protection for quarterback David Carr, Johnson should remain a
reliable performer through the fantasy playoffs.