So, how’s life without Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub treating you? How about Ahmad Bradshaw and Darren McFadden (still), and now Adrian Peterson and Fred Jackson?
To soften the blow of that pain, our fantasy overlords have given us a batch of brutal running back matchups this week. But first, let’s see which healthy quarterback will disappoint us in Week 12.
1. Aaron Rodgers @ DET — It would be nice to write something here about there being no need for concern as Rodgers faces the
dirty hard-hitting Lions. But the only game Rodgers has missed since becoming Green Bay’s starting quarterback came as a result of a hit at the end of a scramble against Detroit last year.
2. Matthew Stafford vs. GB — If the Stafford we saw for three quarters last week shows up, this will be a highly productive turkey day against the league’s second worst secondary.
3. Tom Brady @ PHI — The Eagles secondary is still scary, enough to put Stafford ahead of Brady.
4. Eli Manning vs. NO — The bad Eli surfaced again last week, but he should correct himself quickly this week with his two speed options (Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz) pitted against a secondary that’s allowed seven 40-plus yard completions.
5. Tony Romo vs. MIA — Romo hasn’t thrown an interception in three games, and overall this season over 10 games he’s thrown just seven. During his abbreviated season last year he needed only seven games to throw seven picks.
6. Drew Brees vs. NYG — Brees is on pace to be sacked a career-high 32 times this year, and now he’ll stand in the pocket against a pass rush tied for first with 31 sacks.
7. Ben Roethlisberger @ KC — The Chiefs have given up 42.5 fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last two weeks.
8. Cam Newton @ IND — The only quarterback remotely close to Newton’s blend of arm strength and mobility that Indy’s faced is Josh Freeman, and they let him score one of his two rushing touchdowns this year.
9. Tim Tebow @ SD — Eventually a team will draw up the blue print for stopping Tebow and his unorthodox option offense that’s the devil. But it won’t be the Chargers and their defense that’s allowing 124.4 rushing yards per game.
10. Matt Ryan vs. MIN — More appealing matchups elsewhere knock Ryan down, and maybe a little too far down against a secondary that’s tied for the league lead in passing touchdowns allowed.
11. Philip Rivers vs. DEN — Here’s one simple fact we’ve learned about Rivers and his 2011 season: expect interceptions, and at least two of them per game, his average over the Chargers’ last five games.
12. Mark Sanchez vs. BUF — With the fantasy world still adjusting to life without a few quarterbacks permanently in 2011 (Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel, Jay Cutler), and temporarily (Michael Vick), this is where life becomes difficult. Slotting in a quarterback who’s thrown for over 250 yards only twice here is risky, but Sanchez is facing a defense that’s allowed 35.3 points per game during a three-game losing streak.
13. Carson Palmer vs. CHI — Palmer was sacked four times last week by the Vikings, and somehow Jared Allen wasn’t responsible for any of them. It won’t get any easier this week against Julius Peppers et al. The widespread injuries to Palmer’s receivers are also concerning.
14. Josh Freeman @ TEN — A weak Packers secondary was the right tonic for both Freeman and Mike Williams. Anyone scrambling to fill a void left by Schaub or Cutler could be in a position to ride Freeman’s momentum if you can bring him off your bench.
15. Vince Young vs. NE — The last spot came down to either Young or Ryan Fitzpatrick, and at this point I actually trust a quarterback making just his second start of the season more than Fitzpatrick, who won’t have the support of Fred Jackson, and his top wide receiver will be getting the Darrelle Revis treatment.
1. Matt Forte @ OAK –Forte will be leaned on heavily to help Caleb Hanie through his first start, and the Raiders have been near the bottom of the league all year in yards allowed per carry (5.2).
2. LeSean McCoy vs. NE — Thomas Jones was able to get the corner consistently against New England last week, which means McCoy will be able to run several wind sprints around the entire defense before getting touched.
3. Steven Jackson vs. ARI — The old man had a minor setback last week against Seattle (just 42 yards), but he’ll bounce back nicely this week against a unit that’s third in rushing touchdowns allowed.
4. Rashard Mendenhall @ KC — The matchup is nice, but Mendenhall’s recent production isn’t. He’s scoring, but he’s only averaging 49.5 yards per game since Week 7.
5. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. HOU — Get used to reading this in the spaces below: here’s an elite back with a terrible matchup. Regardless, it’s still a modern NFL miracle that Jones-Drew is second in rushing yards despite dealing with Blaine Gabbert.
6. Michael Turner vs. MIN — He only lost one of them, but it’s still troubling that Turner’s put the ball on the ground twice in his last two games.
7. Arian Foster @ JAC — The case for lowered expectations here is two-fold. First there’s the Matt Leinart factor, and then there’s the underrated Jags run defense.
8. Micheal Bush vs. CHI — McFadden will likely miss at least one more game, and Bush has 236 rushing yards over the last two weeks.
9. Marshawn Lynch vs. WAS — Beast mode has been activated to the tune of a touchdown in six straight games for Lynch, and 332 rushing yards since Week 9.
10. Willis McGahee @ SD — There’s an element of risk here with McGahee’s recent battle with a hamstring injury that held him to just 18 yards last week. But with the poor matchups elsewhere, he’s worth that risk against the 23rd ranked run defense.
11. DeMarco Murray vs. MIA — Don’t worry about Felix Jones too much yet. He had only 3.6 yards per carry last week on five carries.
12. Ray Rice vs. SF — Rice is certainly among the RBs facing a tough defense, but his performance last week against Cincy gives reason for hope. The 49ers have the league’s top unit against the run, but the Bengals are third and Rice had 24 fantasy points against them with 104 rushing yards.
13. Frank Gore @ BAL — Ray Lewis might be out again, and Gore is still limited in practice with an ankle injury. He’ll play, though, and despite their daunting front, the Ravens still let Cedric Benson score twice last week.
14. DeAngelo Williams @ IND — A 73-yard day is busting out by Williams’ now knee-high standards. He did that on just 10 carries, and now Williams will rumble(?) against the league’s second-worst run defense.
15. LeGarrette Blount @ TEN — Where the hell did that come from? I’m not about to overreact and vault Blount too high based on one week, but his torching of the Packers–who are allowing just over 100 rushing yards per game–was very encouraging as we chug towards the stretch run with the trainer’s room filling up.
16. Cedric Benson vs. CLE — Benson has run into concrete walls over the past two weeks (Pittsburgh and Baltimore), but that ends with a defense allowing nearly 140 yards weekly.
17. Kevin Smith vs. GB — Speaking of overreacting, let’s be careful with Smith after his 201 all-purpose yards last week and three touchdowns. I’m comfortable with him this high, though, especially against an aggressive front seven kept honest by Stafford throwing bombs on a feeble secondary.
18. Shonn Greene vs. BUF — Greene is healthy, but he falls because of uncertainty surrounding how the Jets will distribute touches after Joe McKnight’s impressive performance.
19. Beanie Wells @ STL – Wells still gets ranked in the top 15 because St. Louis has the worst run D in the league., but two weeks ago his wobbly knee held him to just 20 yards against the same defense.
20. Ryan Grant @ DET — If James Starks sits out, Grant will be a nice option to pull off your bench if you’re scrambling to replace Peterson or Jackson.
1. Calvin Johnson @ DET — Here are some fun numbers for Johnson owners. Johnson’s facing one of the two secondaries coughing up more than 280 passing yards per game, and he’s only had one game with less than 80 yards.
2. Mike Wallace @ KC — For one half Monday night the Chiefs held one of the league’s most lethal passing offenses in check. Then they were Gronked.
3. Andre Johnson @ JAC — With Rashean Mathis out Johnson should excel, even if he’s at 80 percent and with Leinart at quarterback.
4. Victor Cruz @ NO — Cruz is producing at a consistently elite pace, and at a bargain price since he was snatched off the waiver wire in most leagues early in the season. He has 25 receptions for 402 yards over New York’s last four games.
5. Roddy White vs. MIN — There’s still some uncertainty surrounding Julio Jones’ nagging hamstring. If he sits out again, then White should easily build off of his season-high 147 yards last week against a secondary allowing eight yards per reception.
6. Jeremy Maclin vs. NE — Maclin was a full participant in practice Wednesday, and should have a highly productive day against a Patriots secondary that’s lacking in talent and healthy bodies.
7. Steve Smith @ IND — Newton’s fallen back to earth, and Smith is right behind him. Between weeks 7 and 8 Smith had 243 receiving yards, and following Carolina’s Week 9 bye he’s had just 74.
8. Marques Colston vs. NYG — Colston had a season-high 113 receiving yards last week against an Atlanta secondary allowing only 15 passing yards per game more than the Giants.
9. Greg Jennings @ DET — Green Bay’s new-found love for spreading the ball around has taken a hammer to Jennings’ fantasy value. The Packers have scored 125 points since Week 9, and Jennings has just 84 yards over that stretch.
10. DeSean Jackson vs. NE — Jackson shed the protective boot on his injured foot today, and he was walking without a limp. By ranking him this highly I’m thinking/hoping he plays, because this matchup is delicious for both Philly receivers.
11. Hakeem Nicks @ NO — Injuries, and the emergence of Cruz and tight end Jake Ballard has forced Nicks’ production to drift into the second tier of wide receivers. For now, he’s a high-end WR2.
12. Anquan Boldin vs. SF — Baltimore’s trying to get the ball into Rice’s hands more often, which led to only one catch for Boldin last week.
13. Vincent Jackson vs. DEN — Last time Jackson met Champ Bailey in Week 5 the result was just 34 receiving yards.
14. Larry Fitzgerald @ STL — Fitgerald’s inconsistencies lately have reflected Arizona’s inconsistent offense. In two of Arizona’s last four games he had a combined 84 yards, and in the other two he had 244.
15. Wes Welker @ PHI – Welker’s now had less than 50 yards in four of his last five games.
16. Dez Bryant vs. MIA — Vontae Davis shut down Stevie Johnson last week, but that was also partly the result of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s wayward ways. Romo isn’t having that problem.
17. Brandon Marshall @ DAL — Marshall did little last week, but of the 613 passing yards Matt Moore’s thrown during Miami’s three-game winning streak, he’s been on the receiving end for 207 of them.
18. Laurent Robinson vs. MIA — Robinson’s yardage has been inconsistent while he’s filled in for Miles Austin, but he’s scored five times in four games.
19. Santonio Holmes vs. BUF – Holmes’ one-week reign as Mark Sanchez’s favorite target lasted, well, one week. He had just 39 yards last week, after getting 93 the week before.
20. Stevie Johnson @ NYJ – Despite Fitzpatrick’s struggles, Johnson’s still the primary target in Buffalo’s offense, and he could be leaned on more with Jackson gone.
1. Rob Gronkowski @ PHI — Unfortunately, we have to assign numbers to these players, and those numbers give us something to argue about. This is the one time I’d love to cop out and just call Gronk and Jimmy Graham 1 and 1 (A). Sigh.
2. Jimmy Graham vs. NYG — Gronkowski and Graham have combined for five touchdowns and 369 receiving yards in their last two games.
3. Antonio Gates vs. DEN — Can I have a 1 (B) too? Gates is averaging nearly 60 receiving yards per game, and has a touchdown in three of his five games since he returned from a foot injury in Week 7.
4. Tony Gonzalez vs. MIN — Gonzo has a touchdown in three straight games.
5. Vernon Davis @ BAL — Davis has a mini touchdown streak of his own going too, with scores in his past two games. Last week the Ravens allowed Jermaine Gresham to catch three passes for 48 yards, with one controversial long touchdown reversed.
6. Jason Witten vs. MIA — The production uptick we all expected for Witten with Austin out finally came last week when he had 85 yards and a touchdowns, which was his highest yardage total since Week 4.
7. Jermichael Finley @ DET — Finley’s been another victim of Rodgers’ new policy of equal ball-touching opportunitties, and he had just one catch last week.
8. Owen Daniels @ JAC — Here’s to hoping that Daniels retains his value and becomes the proverbial safety value and outlet for Leinart as he gets comfortable.
9. Brent Celek vs. NE — My wide receiver rankings clearly show that I’m confident Maclin and Jackson will be healthy. But if one or both are hobbled, Celek will benefit again.
10. Aaron Hernandez @ PHI — Gronk gets more attention because he enjoys running over humans and then landing on his head. But Hernandez is still averaging 52.2 yards per game.
11. Greg Olsen @ IND — Indy’s weak rush defense could lead to a game dominated by the run, giving Olsen a goal-line opportunity.
12. Brandon Pettigrew vs. GB — Pettigrew’s red-zone presence keeps him reasonably high, put he simply isn’t getting many deep looks.
13. Fred Davis @ SEA — In the three weeks after Washington’s Week 5 bye Davis averaged 89.6 receiving yards per game. Since that run his yardage has been cut by more than half to 39.7.
14. Jake Ballard @ NO — Ballard had four straight 50-plus yard weeks, but over the Giants’ last two games he has 84 yards.
15. Dustin Keller vs. BUF — Keller’s had at least 40 receiving yards in four of his last five games.
1. Mason Crosby @ DET
2. Jason Hanson vs. GB
3. Matt Bryant vs. MIN
4. Nick Folk vs. BUF
5. Alex Henery vs. NE
6. Nick Novak vs. DEN
7. Stephen Gostkowski @ PHI
8. Sebastian Janikowski vs. CHI
9. Olindo Mare @ IND
10. Dan Bailey vs. MIA
1. Pittsburgh Steelers @ KC
2. Atlanta Falcons vs. MIN
3. Cincinnati Bengals vs. CLE
4. Houston Texans @ JAC
5. New York Jets vs. BUF
6. Chicago Bears @ OAK
7. Denver Broncos @ SD
8. New York Giants @ NO
9. Baltimore Ravens vs. SF
10. Washington Redskins @ SEA