Look west to the Chargers-Bills match-up for plenty of points this weekend.
-by Braden Gall ( @AthlonBraden on twitter)
Start These Quarterbacks:
Philip Rivers, San Diego (Buffalo)
Rivers has had seven games with multiple interceptions, six games with one touchdown or less and no 300-yard games since Week 9. Yet, he is coming off his best showing of the season (22/28, 294 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT) and should be able to chuck around it around against a defense that has allowed 31.4 points per game during its current five-game losing streak.
Rex Grossman, Washington (New England)
Since taking over — for the second time — as the starter, Grossman has been serviceable. He has averaged 260 yards per game and has produced five touchdowns in four games since being inserted back into the lineup. The Pats still rank last in pass defense at 310 yards per game allowed, and Washington should need to throw plenty in this one.
Carson Palmer, Oakland (at Green Bay)
Green Bay ranks 31st in the NFL in pass defense, and while they create turnovers (23 INT), they also give up plenty of fantasy points (22 TDs). Palmer used garbage time to score big points last weekend, and with a receiving corps getting healthier by the day, he should be able to do the same again this weekend.
Bench These Quarterbacks:
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (Carolina)
The Falcons quarterback is coming off his worst performance of the season (50.6 QB rating) and shouldn’t be needed much against the Panthers' matador rushing defense — ranked 27th in the league. Ryan posted a pedestrian 163-1-0 line in the 31-17 win over Carolina earlier because the Falcons ran the ball 35 times. Expect Michael Turner to get all the points this weekend.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (Indianapolis)
In a convincing 24-10 win over Cleveland last weekend, Flacco was needed for 10 completions, 158 yards and no touchdowns. Baltimore ran 55 times with Ray Rice and Ricky Williams for 290 yards against the 31st-ranked rush defense. The Colts are ranked 30th and have allowed more rushing touchdowns than any team in the league. Flacco won’t be needed at all.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (Houston)
The Texans' revamped defense has been nothing short of amazing in 2011. They are third in the NFL against the pass at 183.4 yards per game and have a nasty 12:17 TD:INT ratio as a team. And Dalton is showing signs of the rookie wall: three touchdowns, three interceptions over his last three with three games of less than 200 yards in his last six. His passer rating has been under 80 in three of his last four as well.
Start These Running Backs:
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo (at San Diego)
The former Clemson dynamo is finally proving to be useful. He has 39 touches in two games as the starter for 172 yards against two quality defenses (NYJ, TEN). He also scored for the first time since Week 1. He should get 12-17 carries and 3-6 receptions and around 100 yards from scrimmage in what could be a high-scoring game.
Toby Gerhart, Minnesota (at Detroit)
If All-Day doesn’t play, Gerhart is your man. The Lions have been missing a few pieces along the defensive line and have struggled against the run — and Gerhart is likely the Vikings' only hope to keep this one close. The former Heisman runner-up had his best career game last weekend: 21 carries, eight receptions and 133 yards from scrimmage.
Ricky Williams, Baltimore (Indianapolis)
No one has allowed more rushing scores (17) than the Colts, and Baltimore is clearly looking to run their way to a No. 1 seed. The Ravens ran 55 times for 290 yards last weekend and will get both Rice and Williams plenty of touches this weekend.
Brandon Saine, Green Bay (Oakland)
James Starks is likely to be out this weekend, and Saine brings a totally different skill set to the table than Ryan Grant. Saine is an excellent receiver and should get 8-12 touches in garbage time this weekend.
Bench These Running Backs:
Beanie Wells, Arizona (San Francisco)
Just because Patrick Willis is out of the Niners lineup, that doesn’t mean that Wells should be in yours. This is a “Next Man Up” type of team, and the top-rated rush defense will still be nasty this weekend. The 49ers still have yet to allow a rushing touchdown all season and are down to 71.8 yards allowed per game (1st in NFL).
Donald Brown, Indianapolis (at Baltimore)
It only took him three years, but the former first-round pick is finally living up to the hype. I just can’t buy into it this weekend. Baltimore is No. 2 in the league against the run at 88.8 yards per game, and the Ravens will control the clock like they did last week (55 hand-offs).
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati (Houston)
The Texans have not allowed a rushing touchdown to a running back since Week 8 and have allowed only two players to top the century mark all season. Benson is what he is: He performs well when he should (Cleveland, Buffalo, Indianapolis) and struggles when he should (Pittsburgh twice, San Francisco). Houston is good.
LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay (at Jacksonville)
Against a terrible rushing defense, Blount dropped arguably the most head-scratching, gut-wrenching fantasy performance of the season on owners last weekend. His 11 total touches and 19 total yards were a massive disappointment. I don’t care who he plays, that performance was unforgivable. And the Jags aren’t all that terrible against the run: 11th at 4.1 yards per carry and 14th in yards allowed (111.6 per game).
Start These Wide Receivers:
Nate Burleson, Detroit (Minnesota)
Quick, which Lions wideout has scored the most fantasy points over the last month? It ain’t Megatron. Burleson is No. 12 in fantasy over the last four weeks with 25 catches, 278 yards and one score. And the Lions should have their way against the Vikes.
Stevie Johnson, Buffalo (at San Diego)
Without Fred Jackson to take 25 touches per game, Johnson has flourished on the fantasy gridiron. In fact, Brad Smith deserves a look this weekend as well. Ryan Fitzpatrick will need to throw to keep pace with the Chargers — who won’t be slowed by a Bills defense that has allowed over 30 points per game during the five-game losing streak.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco (at Arizona)
Crabs is rated as the No. 16 receiver in fantasy over the last month and has had at least five receptions in five of his last seven games. He is averaging 90 yards per game over his last three and should get plenty of targets against the 25th-rated pass defense.
Damian Williams, Tennessee (New Orleans)
With Nate Washington potentially sitting on the bench, Williams figures to be the top target of Matt Hasselbeck. And the Titans will have to throw to keep up with the high-flying Saints. As the No. 26 fantasy WR over the last month, Williams is already nearing WR2 status as it is.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City (at NY Jets)
Revis Island strikes again. And with Kyle Orton still dealing with dislocated digits, it looks like Tyler Palko will still be the one trying to throw the ball for Kansas City. This isn’t a good sign.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota (at Detroit)
This one carries with it a very large “IF.” If Christian Ponder does not play — and it is Joe Webb under center — then downgrade Harvin significantly. He has been crushing defenses lately with Ponder, so ignore this IF the rookie is on the field.
Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis (at Baltimore)
The Ravens have allowed just seven touchdowns to opposing receivers all season, and prior to his big Week 13 showing against the worst secondary in the NFL, Garcon had been coming up short: 9 rec., 86 yards, 0 TD in three games.
Eric Decker, Denver (Chicago)
You cannot ignore the four touchdowns in six games, but you can’t ignore the nine total receptions over the last five games. Tim Tebow isn’t throwing much, and it appears that Demaryius Thomas (and his vastly superior physical ability) has caught the eye of the quarterback when he does throw. Play at your own risk against a stingy Bears defense