5 Matchups to Watch This Week

Most weeks, New York’s Dustin Keller mixes in with the rest of the league’s mediocre fantasy tight ends. Not this week, though. Keller and the Jets offense face a New England defense they toasted in Week 2. In that game, the third-year tight end had seven catches for 115 yards – both season highs. Keller also caught New York’s final touchdown in the 28-14 victory.

The Patriots rank last in the NFL in passing yards allowed (288.4) and have had a particularly difficult time containing opposing tight ends. And Keller has had good success against the Patriots throughout his brief career; he had a touchdown catch in the two team’s first meeting last year, and in Keller’s rookie season of 2008 he had eight catches for 87 yards in a Week 11 overtime thriller. For those fantasy owners debating between Keller and someone else on the roster, the choice is clear this week.

Here are a few other fantasy players facing favorable matchups in Week 13 (all of the players listed are considered backups or ‘fringe’ starters in most fantasy league formats):

Sam Bradford vs. Arizona’s pass defense
Bradford has far exceeded expectations in his first NFL season. Not only are the Rams a contender in the weak NFC West, but Bradford might already be the division’s best passer. This week he’ll square off against a Cardinal team still licking its wounds from an embarrassing loss to San Francisco. Arizona’s pass defense allows almost 250 yards per game and gives up 7.6 yards per attempt. Sounds like the perfect formula for another stellar Bradford performance.

Brandon Jacobs vs. Washington’s run defense
Now that the Giants have anointed Jacobs their No. 1 back, he should reap the benefits against an awful a Redskins run defense. No unit allows more yards per carry (4.9) than Washington, which has made average backs look special this season. The Giants would love nothing more than to pound the football now that December weather is in the air. Last week Jacobs averaged 6.2 yards per carry – a number he might match on Sunday.

Mike Tolbert vs. Oakland’s run defense
Even though he is fresh off a 103-yard effort, Tolbert remains a question mark for fantasy owners. No one is excited about San Diego’s running game these days. This week fantasy owners should set aside their doubts. Tolbert faces a Raiders defense that ranks 28th in rushing yards allowed per contest. Last week Miami’s Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams both carried the ball 20-plus times – that alone should tell fantasy owners plenty. Tolbert has now carried 25 or more times in each of the past two weeks. A third week seems likely.

Steve Smith vs. Seattle’s pass defense
Smith has disappointed fantasy owners all season. The Panthers veteran receiver has just two touchdowns (none since Week 2), and not a single 100-yard game. Perhaps things will take a turn for the better this week. The Seahawks have given up 20 passing scores and are one of just three NFL teams to have surrendered 3,000 passing yards this season. Best yet, the Seattle secondary is susceptible to the deep ball – a Smith specialty.


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