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Is Oakland receiver Jacoby Ford worth a start On Thursday night?

Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson raved about speedy receiver Jacoby Ford in the offseason, saying he had the potential to be a standout No. 1 receiver.

Ford did show his knack for racking up big yards in just a few catches last week against Denver’s suspect pass defense. In Carson Palmer’s first start as the Oakland QB, he targeted Ford six times and the former Clemson standout pulled down five of them for 105 yards and a score.

The two get another solid matchup Thursday night as San Diego has allowed the second-most points per game to fantasy receivers over the last three weeks and fourth most to QBs in that time.

Sunday was the breakout game of the season for Ford, who had battled a hamstring injury earlier in the season and entered the game having a total of 114 yards on 11 catches in five games of action. His performance against Denver is what we want to see more of but we’re just not sure which Oakland receiver will show up and lead the charge from week to week. Will it be rookie Denarius Moore, the guy trying not to be a first-round bust in Darius Heyward-Bey or will it be Ford?

All we know is Ford is a playmaker.

He broke out as a rookie in the middle of last season with games of 6-148 and 4-108 in Weeks 9 and 12, but had no more than three catches, no more than 47 yards receiving and no scores in the final five games.

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You hate to say “I want to see more from Ford before I start him,” but with this week’s matchup you will find yourself saying “I’m glad I went with the numbers and started Ford.”

The Chargers, after allowing two receiving touchdowns in the first five weeks, came out of the Week 6 bye and have allowed seven in the last three games. Only Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson has gone over 100 yards, but the Chargers are being spread out.

Nelson went 5-105-1 last Sunday, while teammate Greg Jennings posted a 6-46-1 line. In the previous week against Kansas City, rookie Jonathan Baldwin had his coming-out party with five catches for 82 yards and a score. Teammates Dwayne Bowe (4-62) and Steve Breaston (3-42) were also able to make a fantasy dent. And in Week 7, the first week off the bye, New York Jets receiver Plaxico Burress had just four catches for 25 yards, but three of the four catches went for scores against San Diego.

I see Ford performing more like Nelson.

 Both San Diego and Oakland allow over 19 points per game to fantasy receivers and over 20 points per game to fantasy quarterbacks for the season. San Diego is strong against the run (fifth-best against fantasy RBs for the season), and that means Ford MUST produce in the passing game for the Raiders to succeed. He also gives you return-yardage potential in leagues that award such points.

And if you are looking for a shootout, the Raiders have allowed at least one TD pass in five of their eight games, and have surrendered two in one game on three occasions. It is worth noting that no one receiver has two TDs in a game against Oakland.

I’m expecting a shootout, and I think Ford will be at the forefront of that for the Raiders. Start him with confidence, and don’t be the owner who’s waiting for him to put it together before he’s in your lineup. The matchup says play him now.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter