Week 12 matchups to exploit or avoid

Posted Nov. 23, 2011 @ 11:47 a.m.
Posted By William Del Pilar

The bye weeks are finished, so you won't have to worry about losing players for that reason. A reminder to check out Pro Football Weekly's rankings, proven against the competition to be the one of the best in the industry.


QB Philip Rivers, Chargers (vs. Broncos)
Rivers may have the attention of the national media, but that's because of his league-leading 17 interceptions. He has a four-game average of 327 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. Those are elite numbers. The Broncos are allowing 249 yards and 1.8 TDs per game over the past four weeks to opposing QBs. Rivers can exploit this matchup.

RB Cedric Benson, Bengals (vs. Browns)
Benson's numbers are lacking of late with a four-game average of 16.5 rushing attempts for 58.3 yards and 0.8 TDs. Those numbers are reflective of playing Steelers in Week 10 and the Ravens in Week 11, but the Browns are not either team. They're allowing 162.3 rushing yards and one TD per game to opposing backs the past four weeks. Nothing like the Steelers and Ravens, who he took advantage of without MLB Ray Lewis to score two TDs. This is a matchup he can exploit.

RB Joe McKnight, Jets (vs. Bills)
With Tomlinson suffering a setback in practice earlier this week, the door is opening for McKnight to see playing time. Last week he went for 16-59-0 rushing and 6-62-0 receiving on seven targets, showing he's a dual threat. The Bills are allowing 148.5 yards from scrimmage and 1.25 total TDs per game to opposing backs over the past four weeks. It may not matter, as Shonn Greene (ribs) is scheduled to play, but Greene isn't posting elite numbers and we can see the team going with the hot hand. McKnight will also play on passing downs and can exploit this matchup.

WR Pierre Garcon, Colts (vs. Panthers)
Garcon's been horrible of late with a two-game average of three catches for 26 yards and no TDs, but the Panthers are allowing 150.3 yards and one TD per game in their last three games to opposing WRs. Opposing offenses have attacked the Panthers through the air more often and Garcon can exploit this.

WR Titus Young and Nate Burleson, Lions (vs. Packers)
This could be a shootout on Turkey Day with all receivers having a great game. Last week Young went 2-14-1 on three targets and has a three-game average of 4.3 catches for 51.3 yards and 0.7 TDs. Burleson is playing even better and went 7-63-1 on seven targets and has a two-game average of 7.5 catches for 73 yards and 0.5 TDs. The Packers are allowing 144 yards and 1.7 TDs per game the past four weeks to opposing WRs. Both players can exploit this matchup.

TE Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers (at Titans)
Winslow's starting to come around following a great Week 10, when he had 9-132-0 on 11 targets. He has a four-game average of five catches for 54.8 yards and 0.5 TDs. The Titans are allowing 70.5 yards and 0.5 TDs per game the past four weeks to opposing tight ends. Combine that with QB Josh Freeman continuing to improve, and Winslow can exploit it.


QB Carson Palmer, Raiders (vs. Bears)
Palmer came back to earth last week, throwing for only 164 yards and one TD in his first game without an interception. He now has a three-game average of 265 yards and two TDs with 1.3 interceptions. He's facing a Bears team allowing 274 yards, one TD and 2.3 interceptions per game over their last three games to opposing QBs. The Bears are going to come out hard defensively, knowing they have to carry this team with Jay Cutler out. Teams now have film on Palmer as a Raider and defenses will create better schemes to defend him. If you can, avoid this matchup.

RB Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, Bills (at Jets)
A few teams have been able to run against the Jets, but not often. Right now they have it going against opposing RBs, only allowing 90 yards from scrimmage and zero total TDs per game in their last three games. Jackson is suffering from a calf injury and has yet to practice. His backup, Spiller, went 3-2-0 rushing and 2-18-0 receiving on four targets last week. He just can't get it done as a back, and it won't be surprising to see him playing at WR with Donald Jones (ankle) out 3-6 weeks. The Jets are desperate for a win; Jackson needs to be 100 percent to face the Jets and Spiller has no value. Avoid this matchup if you can.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (vs. Texans)
The Texans' defense believes it has to step it up to make up for the loss of QB Matt Schaub and will step it up to stop MJD. The last time MJD faced the Texans in Week Eight, he saw 19 utilizations for 74 yards from scrimmage and one TD. Those are serviceable numbers if you have to play him, but with the Texans only allowing 75.7 yards from scrimmage and 0.3 total TDs per game to opposing RBs over their last three games, avoid this if you can.

RB Jackie Battle, Chiefs (vs. Steelers)
Battle went 8-33-0 rushing and 1-3-0 receiving on Monday night against the Pats and has seen a drop in touches, as he's now in an unofficial timeshare with Dexter McCluster (8-39-0). With the Steelers only allowing 67.7 rushing yards and 0.3 TDs per game over their last three to opposing RBs, it will be tough for him to produce. Avoid this matchup.

WR Kevin Walters and Jacoby Jones, Texans (at Jaguars)
It's not like Walters or Jones took advantage of the extra targets without Andre Johnson (hamstring) playing. Johnson has practiced this week and will play, lessening their value. The last two games have been terrible for Walters with a two-game average of one catch for 5.5 yards and zero TDs on one target. Jones is Mr. Inconsistent with 87 yards and a TD in Week 10 and 28 yards in Week Nine. The Jaguars are allowing 108.7 yards and 0.3 TDs per game to opposing receivers in their last three. With QB Matt Leinart starting his first game, the team will lean on the rushing attack, and Johnson is 100 percent and will probably monopolize the WR targets. Avoid this matchup.

WR Andre Caldwell, Bengals (vs. Browns)
A.J. Green (knee) is not sure he'll play this week. He was a game-day decision last week, despite being doubtful. In his place, Caldwell went 3-63-1 on nine targets and may start again, but the Browns are only allowing 80.8 yards and 0.5 TDs per game the past four weeks to opposing WRs. Caldwell has big-play ability, but this matchup and his previous three weeks, averaging four catches for 26 yards and 0.3 TDs, makes it tough. If Green plays, Caldwell's value drops. But facing a tough Browns defense and considering his inconsistencies, avoid this matchup.

TE Jermichael Finley, Packers (at Lions)
We understand most can't bench Finley, but some were lucky enough to draft a Tony Gonzalez or have secured an Aaron Hernandez-type player as their No. 2. Finley has a four-game average against the Lions of 3.5 catches for 36 yards and 0.5 TDs, which is not great and a current four-game average of 2.8 catches for 38.5 yard and 0.5 TDs. If you have a high-end No. 2, you should consider avoiding this matchup.