Silva's Sunday Forecast: The Best Last Minutes Predictions

Rallo TubbsContributor IDecember 13, 2009

I will be breaking down every single football game this week. Like on NFL Playbook they break down every single game, that's what I did, and my article is long, so be ready for a show.

Last Week's Record (11-6)
My Overall Record (94-38)

The fantasy playoffs kicked off with Thursday night's Browns-Steelers game. Good luck on Sunday and Monday.

Thursday Night Football 

Pittsburgh @ Cleveland
- My Upset

Pittsburgh has dropped four straight, but Mike Tomlin is too good of a coach with too much talent for the losing to continue against 1-11 Cleveland. Thursday night's weather, though, is a big concern for passing.

The Browns Stadium forecast calls for temperatures in the low 20s, a 50% chance of snow, and swirling 30MPH winds. This is where the potential absence of Hines Ward (hamstring) hurts. Santonio Holmes, Limas Sweed, and Mike Wallace are speedy deep-threat types that lack Ward's physicality and over-the-middle skills.

Don't expect many long balls from Ben Roethlisberger despite what would usually be a plus matchup against a Cleveland defense that routinely gives up big plays and ranks No. 26 against the pass.

If Ward is inactive, Wallace will start at flanker with Santonio Holmes at split end. Big Ben's pass attempts total figures to be low, but Wallace is talented enough to use as a WR3. Holmes, coming off his best game all year, will be the featured receiver. Heath Miller has slowed down after a hot first half, managing one game over 38 yards since Week 6. He remains a risky play.

Rashard Mendenhall should see 20+ carries for a fourth straight week. He has an ideal matchup with a Browns defense that ranks 29th against the run, and is without DLs Shaun Rogers (broken leg), C.J. Mosley (broken ankle), and Kenyon Coleman (knee sprain). Mendenhall is an RB1.

Cleveland has shown some offensive spark with Jerome Harrison as its new featured back and Brady Quinn throwing seven touchdowns with no interceptions in his last three games. The Steelers' No. 1 run defense is relentless, however, and has survived the team's four-game losing streak.

Pittsburgh has held opposing starting tailbacks to a weekly average of 58 rushing yards with no touchdowns over the last month. Harrison should dominate Cleveland's backfield ahead of Chris Jennings in terms of touches again, but is a weak bet for more than flex-caliber fantasy production.

While Pittsburgh is vulnerable to the pass (LCB Ike Taylor may be benched, RCB William
Gay is questionable with a concussion, and SS Troy Polamalu is still out), Mohamed Massaquoi has followed up productive efforts with clunkers throughout 2009. The same goes for Quinn, making all Browns passing-game members highly unreliable.

 Browns TE Evan Moore caught all six of his targets en route to an 80-yard Week 13, but the game could easily go down as the best of his career. The former Stanford wide receiver and power forward has good hands and speed, but won't block anyone and is a situational player.

My Pick- Browns

1:00PM ET Games

New Orleans @ Atlanta

The Saints are the best team in the NFL, and Atlanta is suddenly among the worst since losing Matt Ryan and Michael Turner. Already porous on defense, the Falcons lack offensive firepower with their playmakers sidelined.

New Orleans should dominate time of possession and rack up points at the Georgia Dome. Pierre Thomas has 14 touches or fewer in his last four games, but is a good bet for more with Reggie Bush in Sean Payton's doghouse and Mike Bell battling a knee injury.

Payton will ride the hot hand as the Saints pursue perfection, and since Week 11 Thomas is averaging 6.0 yards per touch with one TD compared to Bell's 2.9 with no scores. Consider Thomas an elite RB2.

Robert Meachem has started three straight games and is averaging 78 yards per contest in his last five with seven all-purpose TDs. No longer a fantasy risk, Meachem is a must-start against a Falcons team that's given up more 20+ yard completions than anyone in the league.

Drew Brees should light up the No. 29 pass defense. Marques Colston had six grabs for 85 yards and a score in his last meeting with Atlanta, which is without top CB Chris Houston (hamstring). Devery Henderson has replaced Meachem as the Saints' hit-or-miss wideout. He has two 100-yard games this year, but also turned in efforts of 21, 6, and -2.

Coach Mike Smith's admission that Jerious Norwood is still battling hip woes doesn't bode well for his chances at an increased role. Nor does Norwood's 2.35 YPC average since returning. He's not a good fantasy bet even if Turner (ankle) is out again.

Jason Snelling's per-touch production also leaves a lot to be desired, but he gets the ball in red-zone situations ahead of Norwood and is a superior desperation fantasy play. The Falcons won't announce Turner's status until just before game time. He needs to be in fantasy lineups if active against New Orleans' No. 20 run defense, but probably won't play.

Matt Ryan (toe) is another game-day decision. He says he's ready to play, but won't necessarily do more for Roddy White's fantasy value than Chris Redman has. Redman's targeted White an insane 33 times in the last two games. Either way, White is a WR1 in a matchup against New Orleans' still-banged up secondary.

He also had 108 yards and a touchdown in the teams' last meeting. The Saints cover tight ends well, but Tony Gonzalez is the No. 4 overall TE in fantasy and an obvious every-week starter. No other Falcons are worth using. Marty Booker started in place of blocking wideout Michael Jenkins (ankle) last Sunday and caught one ball for four yards.

My Pick- Saints

Denver @ Indianapolis

The Broncos are winning again, taking their last two after a four-game losing streak. And they quietly match up well with a Colts team that is effective passing and stopping the pass, but struggles to run the ball and defend the run.

The Broncos' No. 2 pass defense is legit, and they will keep the game close if Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter continue to run hard after contact. While Reggie Wayne and Peyton Manning can't be benched in fantasy leagues, Pierre Garcon is likely to see a lot of Champ Bailey in coverage. He's not as good a play as usual.

Joseph Addai is averaging a measly 3.7 YPC, but remains the Colts' every-down back because he is so reliable in the passing game and short yardage. Only Maurice Jones-Drew has scored more touchdowns this year. Denver has been a favorable matchup for opposing running backs for nearly two months, so Addai is a top-ten RB1. T

he Broncos are tough on tight ends, but Dallas Clark is always a good bet for a big stat line. He's the No. 3 fantasy TE, behind only Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates. Colts slot receiver Austin Collie found the end zone for the first time since Week 6 last Sunday, but ultimately had only 18 yards. He's not a good option.

The Broncos have transitioned to a run-heavy attack since Kyle Orton tore ligaments in his ankle in Week 10, running the ball a whopping 85 times compared to just 53 passes during their win streak.

They'll likely take a similar approach Sunday because the Colts are tough against the pass but beatable on the ground, ranking 18th in rush defense. While a timeshare with Buckhalter limits Moreno's fantasy ceiling in any given week, the rookie has seen 21 touches in each of the last two games and consistently gets goal-line carries. He's a solid RB2.

Brandon Marshall's production withstands run-first game plans because he is so talented and oft-targeted. Marshall's 19 looks in the past two weeks easily lead the team (Tony Scheffler is next with 10).

Increased vertical route running also gives Marshall a better chance to make big plays. Scheffler is coming off a one-catch game and faces a Colts team that is stingy against tight ends. He's barely a TE2. Eddie Royal hasn't been a fantasy option since 2008.

Orton is only worth two-QB league consideration against an Indy defense giving up the NFL's fourth lowest YPA average (6.3). The Colts have also surrendered the fourth fewest passing scores.

My Pick- Colts

Buffalo @ Kansas City

Matt Cassel retained his starting job after being benched for managing a pathetic 84 yards and two picks on 29 attempts last week, but his outlook isn't better against Buffalo. While the Arrowhead forecast (47 degrees, 10% chance of rain, 10MPH wind) is moderate, the Bills' stifling No. 4 pass defense awaits, and may get back top CB Terrence McGee (knee).

Only the Jets have allowed fewer passing TDs than the Bills this year, and Perry Fewell's unit leads the AFC in interceptions. The Chiefs would be smart to take a run-heavy approach in this one.

Chris Chambers returned to Earth with an 11-yard Week 13. As mentioned above, his matchup is tough. Explore other options. The Chiefs have finally settled on Bobby Wade as their first-team split end opposite Chambers, not that it matters. Dwayne Bowe will immediately resume every-down receiver duties in Week 15.

On either side of the ball, Jamaal Charles is the marquee fantasy play in this game. He impressed coach Todd Haley by playing through some dings last Sunday, and has no competition for carries with Kolby Smith on injured reserve.

Terrell Owens' 36-year-old body should benefit from an extended layoff after the Bills' Thursday night loss to the Jets in Week 13. He's no longer facing Darrelle Revis and is a recommended WR2/3 again.

Ryan Fitzpatrick went back in the tank last week, but can be used in two-QB leagues against a Chiefs secondary that ranks 28th against the pass, has given up the second most touchdowns in the AFC, and allows a whopping 8.0 yards per throw. This is also a good matchup for Lee Evans, but he hasn't topped 50 yards since Week 7. Use him at your own risk.

Despite playing off the bench, Marshawn Lynch (seven touches, 64 yards, one TD) significantly out-produced starter Fred Jackson (16-55-0) last Thursday night. Jackson, however, remains the better fantasy play against Kansas City's porous run defense (No. 27 overall, 4.4 YPC, 13 rushing TDs allowed).

F-Jax starts, gets the football more often, and Fewell confirmed he would remain the team's lead back after the game. Lynch also saw just one touch in the final two quarters against the Jets. Lynch is merely a flex option, while Jackson is a low-end RB2.

My Pick- Chiefs

Detroit @ Baltimore

The Ravens need something -- anything -- to get their passing game going. A Lions pass defense that ranks dead last and has given up an NFL-most 28 touchdowns is seemingly what the doctor ordered.

Joe Flacco, though, is still hardly a confident fantasy start with a 2:6 TD to INT ratio in his last six games, a nagging ankle injury, and No. 2 receiver Mark Clayton (knee, hamstring) appearing unlikely to play. Flacco posted a season-low 3.8 YPA and threw a season-high three interceptions last week against Green Bay. Despite the ideal matchup, Flacco is only a QB2.

Ray Rice is coming off a season-low 71-yard effort. The Ravens' insistent use of Willis McGahee at the goal line also limits Rice's upside. While the Lions' run defense is better than most people think, this is still a favorable matchup overall. You're not going to sit Rice against Detroit. With Clayton hobbled, Derrick Mason is positioned to be a target monster.

The M&T Bank Stadium forecast (low-40s temps, 6MPH winds, 40% chance of rain) isn't a big concern. Mason should be in lineups. Todd Heap's 52 yards in Week 13 were his most since Week 1. You can do better.

The Lions have given in, opting to rest Matthew Stafford's injured left shoulder in favor of Daunte Culpepper. The Detroit media is vehemently pulling for Drew Stanton to play ahead of C-Pepp, though, and he could easily be on a short leash.

Calvin Johnson ripped apart the Bengals' double teams last Sunday for 123 yards and a touchdown on six catches. He's open even when he's covered, and isn't on the injury report this week. Despite Stafford's deactivation, make sure to start Calvin against a Baltimore secondary that has struggled to stop big receivers all season.

Detroit gets no production from its pass catchers after Calvin and Kevin Smith. Bryant Johnson, Dennis Northcutt, and new first-team TE Will Heller are all completely off the fantasy radar.

A motivated Smith ran with improved acceleration last week, racking up 100+ yards and a TD on 18 touches. But the effort did more to convince us that the Bengals are vulnerable to the run without NT Domata Peko (knee) than consider Smith a good RB2 down the stretch. He doesn't have a single favorable matchup left on the fantasy schedule (@ BAL, vs. ARZ, @ SF).

My Pick- Ravens

Cincinnati @ Minnesota

There's a fine line when assessing how patient running backs should be when reading blocks and exploding through holes, but it's safe to say Adrian Peterson hasn't been patient enough while averaging 3.0 YPC in his last three games. Good news: this problem is fixable, and Vikes RBs coach Eric Bienemy is one of the best.

Expect A.P. to rebound against a Bengals run defense that is porous with NT Domata Peko (knee) out of the lineup. Struggling Kevin Smith rang up 104 total yards and a touchdown on them last week. The Bengals defend tight ends well, keeping Visanthe Shiancoe as a high-risk play. He remains highly touchdown dependent in fantasy.

Sidney Rice has been matchup proof all year, so a bout with stellar Bengals CBs Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph shouldn't stop owners from using the NFC receiving leader. After a 275-yard, two-touchdown outing in Arizona, Brett Favre returns to the Metrodome, where he has a 16:1 TD to INT ratio in six games this season. Favre is an every-week fantasy starter.

Bernard Berrian resumed struggling against the Cardinals (36 yards) and will square off mostly with Hall, who is Cincy's No. 1 corner. He's a must-sit. The Bengals lack an effective slot corner and will likely address the position in 2010 free agency. Exploit this matchup with Percy Harvin while he's hot. And assuming he plays (illness).

While Cedric Benson's usage (38 touches) in his Week 13 return from a two-game hip injury confirmed there will be no committee in Cincinnati, he managed just 3.1 YPC against Detroit and now faces Minnesota's No. 3 run defense.

The Vikings' loss of MLB E.J. Henderson doesn't help Benson because thumping replacement Jasper Brinkley is a true run stopper. You can't sit your studs in the fantasy playoffs, but this is an unfavorable matchup. Larry Johnson didn't play a snap until the 6:11 mark in the third quarter last week. He's not even a good "handcuff."

Carson Palmer should've had a bigger day last week, but Daniel Coats dropped an easy short touchdown and the Bengals went run-heavy against the Lions. Still, fantasy football comes down to baseline production, and Palmer isn't a QB1 any longer with two TDs in his last four games. There are better options in standard leagues.

Chad Ochocinco busted out of his four-game funk with a dominating 137-yard, one-touchdown effort last week and has a favorable stretch-run schedule. He's a WR1/2 indoors against Minnesota's No. 21 pass defense. Andre Caldwell and Laveranues Coles continue to cancel each other out. Caldwell didn't catch a pass last week.

My Pick- Vikings

Miami @ Jacksonville

The Fins' scrapping of the Wildcat in favor of a pro-style offense is benefiting Chad Henne. He played in a similar system at Michigan for Lloyd Carr, and capitalized on his newfound comfort zone with a career-high 335 yards and two TDs against a stout Patriots pass defense in Week 13.

Expecting Henne to finish the year with QB1-caliber stats might be too bold considering his supporting cast, but his outlook has certainly improved. While some showers are expected at Municipal Stadium, the rest of the forecast (low-70s temps, 7MPH winds) isn't a concern. Henne is an ideal two-QB league play against the Jaguars' No. 23 pass defense.

Ted Ginn Jr. and Greg Camarillo technically remain Miami's starting wideouts, but Davone Bess started in a three-receiver set last week and continues to play the most snaps. It also helps that teams don't game plan for Bess because he is small, runs only underneath patterns, and lacks homerun-hitting speed.

On pace for nearly 80 receptions, Bess will be single covered by Jacksonville and is an every-week WR3 in PPR leagues. The rest of the Fins' pass catchers are off limits until they show signs of consistency. Don't bet on it happening. Ricky Williams has at least 20 touches in each of his last four games. As usual, he's a borderline RB1.

Mike Sims-Walker has just 58 yards in his last two games. It was a good sign, however, that he got open enough for David Garrard to target him a team-high eight times last week, and the Fins play lots of man-to-man coverage in the secondary.

MSW should see single teams against a Miami pass defense that ranks 24th and allows a league-high 8.3 yards per throw. Use Sims-Walker if he's active, but closely monitor his calf injury on Friday. He was a late addition to the injury report.

Garrard's numbers at home are QB1-worthy (9:4 TD to INT ratio with 277 yards-per-game average). He's worth starting consideration in this favorable matchup.

NFL touchdowns leader Maurice Jones-Drew presents a statistical mismatch for a Fins defense that's allowed 14 rushing scores through 12 games. While MoJo's 82-total yard effort in Week 13 was relatively weak for him, he's showing no signs of slowing down.

Jones-Drew throttled through Houston's front seven for numerous late-game first downs to clinch the win. Marcedes Lewis is losing snaps and targets to rookie Zach Miller. Avoid Jaguars tight ends. Torry Holt remains scoreless in 2009 and has topped 37 yards once since Week 6. He's barely a WR5.

My Pick- Jaguars

NY Jets @ Tampa Bay

The Tampa forecast calls for a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms, but temps in the mid-70s and only 6MPH winds. We won't go overboard and recommend to sit the Bucs' receivers and quarterback because of the weather. Darrelle Revis is a far bigger factor.

While there is some concern that he may "shadow" Kellen Winslow -- Tampa Bay's leading receiver -- Revis is more likely to be on red-hot flanker Antonio Bryant. The Jets have not used Revis to cover tight ends this year, and Bryant has 207 yards and a TD on eight catches in his last two outings. Expect Winslow to lead the Bucs in targets. Tread very lightly when considering Bryant a quality WR3.

While it's impossible to not be enamored with Josh Freeman's ability, we couldn't in good faith recommend him as a two-QB league play against the NFL's No. 1 pass defense. Freeman has seven TDs, but 12 turnovers since taking over as Tampa's starting QB in Week 9.

Carnell Williams was featured in the backfield last week, seeing 19 touches for 106 yards compared to Derrick Ward's 49 on eight chances. He's clearly the best RB option in Tampa Bay, but isn't facing Carolina's No. 26 rush defense anymore. Cadillac's upside is roughly 70 yards.

Thomas Jones continues his cake late-season schedule against a Bucs defense that ranks 31st against the run, has surrendered 13 rushing scores in 12 games, and allows the highest yards-per-carry average in the NFC.

Expect a decidedly run-heavy game plan from the Jets with Kellen Clemens replacing Mark Sanchez (knee) under center. Shonn Greene isn't a fantasy option, but his role is becoming consistent as a 10-12 carry-per-game back. Considering the awesome schedule and Jones' age (31), Greene is worth owning as a late-year lottery ticket.

A run-first approach and Clemens' passing ineptness severely curtail the odds of Dustin Keller, Braylon Edwards, or Jerricho Cotchery making a big impact in this one.

Also hurting the Jets' receivers: Bucs shutdown CB Aqib Talib is likely to square off mostly with Cotchery; Edwards practiced with Clemens for the first time in their lives this week; and Keller has underperformed even with Sanchez at QB.

Clemens' horrible pocket presence and fear of going deep seemingly give Keller or Cotchery the best chance at a decent fantasy day, but there are no guarantees.

My Pick- Jets

Green Bay @ Chicago

With Al Harris done for the season, the Packers are letting Charles Woodson shadow opposing No. 1 receivers. Woodson, a surefire All Pro along with Darrelle Revis, held Derrick Mason to 13 yards on two grabs in Week 13 and Calvin Johnson to 10 yards on two catches the week prior.

With Bears No. 1 wideout Devin Hester battling an injured calf, the Packers may stick Woodson on Greg Olsen for much of Sunday's game. Woodson has been used on tight ends before this season, guarding Kellen Winslow and Jason Witten in Weeks 9 and 10.

The Packers picked off Jay Cutler four times in their last meeting. The Soldier Field forecast (37 degrees, 10MPH winds, 30% chance of snow) isn't a big concern, but Green Bay's No. 3 pass defense is.

Sit Cutler this week. Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox's rotation limits their numbers too much for either to be usable against the Pack. Hester is also a poor option at less than 100%, and may not even play. Matt Forte's workload is in decline and Green Bay is fourth against the run. He's unlikely to have another big game until Week 17 against the Lions.

While there isn't a strong fantasy bet on Chicago's side, the opposite is true for Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is the No. 2 overall player in fantasy (behind Chris Johnson) and No. 1 QB. Chicago's boom-or-bust secondary has given up 21 passing scores in 2009 -- sixth most in the NFL. Donald Driver needed a TD to save his 31-yard Week 13, but is an every-week starter.

Jermichael Finley is being featured in goal-to-go situations. He consistently draws single coverage because Driver and Greg Jennings command so much attention. The Bears are not good at defending tight ends.

Jennings has been a disappointment in '09, often running clearing routes for Driver, Finley, and James Jones to dominate underneath. Jennings did lead the Pack in targets last week and should've had 100 yards (he finished with 77), but had two big drops. The good news is Jennings burned Chicago for 106 yards and a touchdown in their Week 1 meeting.

 Jennings is a strong WR2 play. The Bears have plummeted to 25th against the run, are giving up 4.4 YPC, and are dealing with injuries to MLB Hunter Hillenmeyer (elbow) and WLB Lance Briggs (knee). Safely expect Ryan Grant to bounce back from his 41-yard Week 13. Green Bay should win big.

My Pick- Packers

Carolina @ New England

Directly at the root of the Patriots' recent struggles is their inability to generate pass rush. Their 20 sacks are fourth fewest in the league. However, a team quarterbacked by Matt Moore won't take advantage.

The Panthers showed no confidence in Moore in his first start of 2009 last Sunday, often opting to run the ball on third-and-longs. Steve Smith is sure to face constant double teams with Pats top CB Leigh Bodden pressing him at the line and S Brandon Meriweather checking him over the top.

The Foxboro weather (37 degrees, 8MPH winds, 20% chance of rain) won't limit Smith's numbers, but Carolina's run-heavy approach and Moore's lack of aggressiveness will.
The rest of the Panthers' passing-game members are not options. Muhsin Muhammad has no speed, is 36, and is battling more knee problems.

Carolina uses a rotation at tight end. Jeff King, Dante Rosario, and Gary Barnidge are all hands off. DeAngelo Williams returns from his slight ankle sprain at 100 percent, and will likely immediately resume lead back duties ahead of Jonathan Stewart.

Stewart showed well in his first career start, gaining 126 yards and scoring once on 21 touches against the Bucs, but is only a FLEX option again. D-Will is an RB1.

Laurence Maroney's Week 13 usage should be a major concern for his fantasy owners. While he did pace New England's backfield with 14 touches, Maroney got the football just twice after halftime in a tight game against Miami.

He was also outgained by Sammy Morris (65 yards to Maroney's 49). Despite a terrific matchup against Carolina's No. 26 rush defense, Maroney is an extremely risky fantasy bet. Morris is completely healthy again and Fred Taylor (ankle) is due back soon. More than likely, Maroney's time as a quality fantasy play is coming to an end.

With Dolphins slot corner Nathan Jones hurting in Week 13, Wes Welker burned Jason Allen for most of his 167 yards on 10 catches. Carolina has a top-six pass defense, but lacks answers for Welker's quicks and over-the-middle fearlessness.

Randy Moss vs. Chris Gamble is the matchup to watch in this one. Moss has eight TDs in his last seven games. Ben Watson remains a fantasy non-factor. He went catch-less last Sunday.

Use Tom Brady with confidence, despite his absence from some practice this week due to the birth of his second child. Sam Aiken's 81-yard touchdown last week was the first of his career. It was also his only catch of the game.

My Pick- Patriots


Seattle @ Houston

The Reliant Stadium roof is likely to be closed Sunday, setting the stage for a high-scoring affair between two pass-first offenses. The quarterbacks on both sides are banged up, but slated to start.

Matt Schaub's passing wasn't inhibited by his first-quarter left shoulder dislocation last week, and he likely would've had an extra touchdown had OC Kyle Shanahan not foolishly called for a fourth-quarter halfback pass deep in the red zone with the game hanging in the balance.

Confidently use Schaub and Andre Johnson against Seattle's No. 25 pass defense. Kevin Walter hasn't scored since Week 3. He's an effective blocking and possession receiver, but a weak WR3 in fantasy, even with a favorable matchup.

Avoid Houston's backfield because Seattle defends the run decently and the Texans have no clear-cut lead runner. Chris Brown will start, but Ryan Moats saw nearly double the touches last Sunday.

Coach Gary Kubiak also indicated that rookie Arian Foster will take Steve Slaton's (neck, injured reserve) old role in the offense, further complicating the situation. Wait and see on Texans RBs this week, and use whichever back gets the most action at St. Louis in Week 15.

With just two passing TDs in his last three games and a sore throwing shoulder, Matt Hasselbeck is only a two-QB league option. Houston defends the pass well (6.8 YPA against).

Worth noting: the Texans took wideouts Mike Sims-Walker (1-12) and Torry Holt (2-24) out of last week's game, making Jags TE Zach Miller and slot man Mike Thomas beat them.

Houston's pass rush is weak, but their corners come to play. Bench T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who is shaping up as a $40 million bust. Signings like that cost Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell his job. Nate Burleson has been highly inconsistent since a hot start to the season, and hasn't scored since Week 5. He's a risky WR3.

John Carlson's value has evaporated with a combined 23 yards since Week 10. He isn't blocking well either, costing him playing time. Carlson played 24% of Seattle's offensive snaps in Week 13.

The Seahawks claim that Justin Forsett's eight touches in Julius Jones' (25 touches) return last Sunday were due to Forsett's thigh injury. We'll find out this week because Forsett isn't on the injury report.

Jim Mora says he wants to use Jones and Forsett in a committee, but bench them both against a Texans run defense that held Maurice Jones-Drew to 3.1 YPC last week.

My Pick- Texans

4:05PM ET Games

Washington @ Oakland

Is there really fantasy hope for the Raiders and Redskins' skill players? Maybe. Chris Wesseling detailed new playcaller Sherm Lewis' impact on Washington's offense in this week's Waiver Wired, and Bruce Gradkowski has six TDs in his last three starts.

While Gradkowski gets pluses with Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot) likely out again and a fairly favorable forecast at The Coliseum (53 degrees, 12MPH winds, 40% chance of rain), his hot run is more likely to end over the next two weeks, when the Raiders face the Redskins and Broncos' top-five pass defenses.

The Skins continued their stranglehold on TEs in the last two games, holding Brent Celek (4-33) and Jeremy Shockey (4-47) in check. It's difficult to get excited about Zach Miller. Louis Murphy is coming off a season-best 128-yard, two-touchdown game. The kid has starting-caliber ability, but has teased us too often before.

Despite Heyward-Bey's absence, Murphy doesn't even start in the base offense over Johnnie Lee Higgins. Chaz Schilens is the best bet if you're dying to use a Raiders wideout. He is the team's lone every-down receiver.

Oakland's backfield has become a week-to-week crapshoot. Justin Fargas is currently the starter with Darren McFadden as his change of pace, but Michael Bush could reenter the mix at any time and LG Robert Gallery's season-ending back injury is sure to hurt the ground game.

There's a better chance that Washington's offensive surge is for real than Oakland's, but it would still be hard to rely on any Skins player in the crucial fantasy postseason. Before his 100-yard, two-touchdown shocker in Week 13, the best fantasy game of Devin Thomas' career was for three catches, 45 yards, and a touchdown in Week 6.

Santana Moss has been maddeningly inconsistent all year and is likely to see the most of Nnamdi Asomugha on Sunday. Jason Campbell has never been trustworthy as more than a QB2. Use all Redskins at your own risk.

The Skins have promoted RB Quinton Ganther into the starting lineup, replacing Rock Cartwright. Cartwight will go back to kick returns. A four-year pro, Ganther has 28 career touches as mostly a special teamer and sometimes-fullback.

The 5'10/215-pounder runs in the high 4.5s-4.6 range. He has a favorable matchup versus Oakland's' No. 30 run defense, but his career sample size is simply too small for us to predict what he's going to do.

The Raiders are a top-five team against tight ends, according to Football Outsiders. Fred Davis is another big fantasy gamble.

My Pick- Redskins

St. Louis @ Tennessee

Steven Jackson won't set enough records to "prove" it, but he's quietly having one of the all-time best seasons for a RB. Last week, the Bears played virtually every snap with 8-9 men in the box.

On the game's first play, CB Zackary Bowman was pulled and replaced by Josh Bullocks, putting three strong safeties on the field (also Al Afalava and Kevin Payne).

Despite the ridiculously lopsided game plan, S-Jax put together his 10th game of 100+ total yards this season. Sunday, he faces a Titans run defense that allows 4.2 YPC and has given up 11 TDs through 12 games.

Kyle Boller continues to crush the fantasy viability of St. Louis' pass catchers. Managing a measly 113 yards on 32 attempts last week, Boller was unable to support a single receiver of more than 38 yards.

Safely keep Brandon Gibson on benches, if not waiver wires altogether. Donnie Avery will play Sunday's game through a dislocated shoulder, but has never been effective at less than 100 percent.

Despite Tennessee's vulnerable pass defense, Avery isn't a fantasy option either. No matter who starts at quarterback, Tennessee will employ a run-early and run-often game plan. The Titans indicated that they'll take such an approach by limiting Chris Johnson's practice reps this week.

Expect fantasy's No. 1 player to run wild on a St. Louis defense that permits a whopping 4.6 yards per carry, has given up 17 rushing touchdowns, and ranks 28th overall. The over/under for C.J.'s total yardage should be set somewhere around 175, with his TD total at two.

As well as Vince Young has played during the Titans' 5-1 run, his potential absence due to a knee injury wouldn't hurt (or help) the receiver corps. Even if Kerry Collins is under center, Kenny Britt is going to be the go-to guy.

Nate Washington will be the deep threat, and Justin Gage will be the No. 3. The latter two aren't options while battling injuries, but Britt should be in lineups as a WR3. The exciting rookie has scored a touchdown in three straight.

Bo Scaife is emerging from the pack of Titans tight ends with 14 catches for 162 yards and a TD in his last three outings. With Jared Cook (concussion) likely out for Sunday's game, you could do worse than Scaife as a TE1.

My Pick- Titans

4:15PM ET Game

San Diego @ Dallas

While Atlanta-New Orleans is close, no game this Sunday sets up to be as high scoring as Chargers-Cowboys at the Jerry Jones dome. Thus, it will be difficult to bench players on either side. Coming off a 392-yard bombshell, Tony Romo is hot with at least 309 yards and two touchdowns in each of his last two games.

Miles Austin has resumed WR1 status with an earth-shattering 17 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns over that same span. He will mostly be covered by Chargers LCB Quentin Jammer, who is dealing with nagging hamstring and toe injuries.

Jason Witten still blocks in goal-line situations, but the yardage is back. He has an amazing 19 grabs for 263 yards in his last two efforts. The Bolts are very vulnerable to tight ends, especially with FS Eric Weddle (knee) out.

Marion Barber has continued to disappoint, but he will get the ball on the goal line and is a good bet for his first TD since Week 6.

It doesn't hurt that San Diego lost NT Ogemdi Nwagbuo to injured reserve on Wednesday. Roy Williams has been too inconsistent to use as more than a WR3. He'll mostly square off Sunday with Antonio Cromartie.

Philip Rivers hasn't thrown a pick since Week 8 and has 10 TDs in his last five games. Dallas' pass defense has fallen to 20th overall, and easily could've been torched for 400 yards last week had Eli Manning been able to hit open receivers streaking down the field. Rivers can make all the throws Eli can't.

Vincent Jackson has been quiet for five weeks, but has too much talent to keep struggling. The Cowboys will have to focus more on Antonio Gates after Gates' 167-yard Week 13. V-Jax will see lots of LCB Terence Newman, who's had an up-and-down year.

LaDainian Tomlinson has been "that guy" this year -- the player that is not good in real life, but is good in fantasy. With eight touchdowns in his last six games (despite a 3.3 yards-per-carry average), Tomlinson has earned every-week RB2 status.

The Cowboys are stout against the run (No. 9 overall and just five rushing touchdowns allowed all year), but LT's ability to execute on the goal line makes him a fantasy difference maker, even if his rushing yardage ceiling is around 70.

My Pick- Chargers

Sunday Night Football

Philadelphia @ NY Giants

Brian Westbrook (concussions) is out again, so the Eagles will continue to use a committee of Leonard Weaver and LeSean McCoy in the backfield. While Weaver is coming off an excellent game (100 total yards, TD on just seven touches), McCoy remains the better fantasy play in all leagues.

He dropped 92 yards and a score on the Giants in their last meeting and will almost certainly resume leading the Eagles in touches Sunday night. DeSean Jackson returns from his concussion and will immediately retake every-down receiver duties. He will also return punts.

The Giants' No. 7 pass defense rank looks good on paper, but they have plenty of holes. Donovan McNabb owners should use their QB1 with confidence. He threw for three touchdowns against New York earlier this year and has his No. 1 receiver back. The Giants have struggled to stop tight ends all year.

Brent Celek is a must-start. Jason Avant would've had a huge fantasy day in Week 13 had a touchdown not been called back and the Eagles not rested him for the entire fourth quarter. He's a WR3 option against the Giants. Jeremy Maclin's plantar fasciitis is not costing him explosiveness or production. He led the Birds in receiving last week and is a WR2/FLEX play.

Eli Manning left a boatload of yardage on the field in Week 13 against Dallas. 14MPH winds and a 90% chance of rain are in the forecast for Sunday's game, which won't help his already awful accuracy. He's only a QB2 against Philadelphia's top-ten pass defense.

Hakeem Nicks is slowly beginning to overtake Mario Manningham as the Giants' primary split end. Nicks played ahead of Manningham in many two-receiver sets last week. Still, the two remain rotational players, which makes it very hard to prodict which is going to have a better fantasy game in any given week.

The Giants' lone every-down receiver, Steve Smith is the No. 12 overall wideout in fantasy. He's an every-week starter. The Eagles rank seventh against the run and permit fewer than 4.0 YPC, but Brandon Jacobs routinely gives their relatively undersized front seven fits. Jacobs also is showing improved speed.

He burned the entire Cowboys secondary on his 74-yard touchdown last week. Get him in lineups. Ahmad Bradshaw (ankles) and Danny Ware (concussion) will both be active Sunday, though neither is a fantasy option.

Safely keep Kevin Boss reserved in all formats. He'll be blocking all game against an Eagles team that blitzes more than anyone in the league.

My Pick- Eagles

Monday Night Football

Arizona @ San Francisco

The 49ers upset Arizona in their Week 1 meeting, but both teams have undergone fairly dramatic changes since. San Francisco, in particular, runs an entirely different offense.

A spread team now, the Niners are getting elite production from tight end slot receiver Vernon Davis and quality passing from Alex Smith (7:1 TD to INT ratio in his last three games).

The ability to spread out a defense with Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan out wide, and Davis and Jason Hill at the inside slots gives them an edge against a Cardinals defense that ranks 30th against the pass and is thin on cover men. Smith is an intriguing low-end QB1 if you're searching for options.

Not a great sign: Frank Gore played every single snap in last Sunday's loss to Seattle, but got just nine carries. Good news: There's a very real chance that OC Jimmy Raye will recommit to the run this week, getting Gore more action out of the shotgun, where he's been effective per-play. Better news: Gore is still getting plenty of touches overall because he's used so heavily in the pass game.

Gore has five touchdowns in his last six games. He has to be in fantasy lineups against a Cardinals run defense that's fallen to 12th overall while giving up a generous 4.4 yards per carry.

Whether it's because of Tim Hightower's thumb injury or because he's simply the superior runner, Chris Wells appears to have overtaken the lead spot in Arizona's backfield. Hightower's catches are way down (just six catches in his last three games), and Wells saw nearly double the touches Hightower did in Week 13.

While neither is a strong fantasy bet against San Francisco's top-five rush defense, better matchups are on the way. Assuming Wells continues to get the most work this week, he should be played with confidence at Detroit and versus St. Louis later this month.

A knee injury kept Steve Breaston out of Cards-49ers earlier this year.
seemingly give Arizona a new advantage, but Breaston has been a non-factor at receiver of late with only five grabs for 34 combined yards in his last three games. Kurt Warner (hip) is not even on the Week 14 injury report.

You won't find many better QB1 plays as Warner takes on San Francisco's No. 27 pass defense. The 49ers will use Shawntae Spencer to follow around Larry Fitzgerald, giving Anquan Boldin an ideal matchup on the opposite side against 32-year-old 49ers LCB Dre' Bly. Boldin has been nothing short of dominant lately and looks poised to keep it up.

My Pick- 49ers

Pick Summary

Browns over Steelers

Packers over Bears

Chiefs over Bills

Vikings over Bengals

Texans over Seahawks 

Saints over Falcons

Colts over Broncos

Patriots over Panthers

Jets over Bucs

Jaguars over Dolphins

Ravens over Lions 

Redskins over Raiders 

Titans over Rams

Chargers over Cowboys

Eagles over Giants 

49ers over Cardinals


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