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NFC South Player Analysis
Matt Wilson, FantasySharks.com, Staff Writer

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs Cincinnati Bengals)

QB Josh McCown: McCown kicked off his second go-round as Tampa Bay's starting triggerman with three consecutive favorable matchups, but he will get a reality check this week in the form of a tougher matchup. The Cincinnati Bengals have allowed only 223.3 passing yards per game and just three touchdown passes during the last month. Ratchet down your expectations for McCown or look for a passer with a better matchup. ( 217 yds pass with 1 TD and 1 Int; 12 yds rush )

QB Mike Glennon: As long as high-priced veteran Josh McCown is playing solidly, don't expect to see Glennon back on the field anytime soon. ( 63 yds pass with 1 TD; 4 yds rush )

RB Charles Sims: It looks like Sims is going to share early-down touches with Doug Martin in a three-headed backfield that includes Bobby Rainey handling third-down duties. A re-energized Cincinnati Bengals defense has yielded only 64.5 rushing yards per contest and no rushing touchdowns to enemy running backs during the last two weeks. Based on Sims' anticipated small workload and a tough matchup, he is a weak all-around play. ( 41 yds rush; 3 catches for 21 yds )

RB Doug Martin: Even though Martin is penciled in as Tampa Bay's starting tailback, he is operating in a committee with Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey. It looks like Martin will split early-down carries with Sims while Rainey handles the third-down duties. Since Week 11, the resurgent Cincinnati Bengals defense surrendered only 64.5 rushing yards per game and no rushing touchdowns to enemy running backs. Because of his predicted workload and the matchup, consider Martin a weak play. ( 30 yds rush; 2 catches for 12 yds )

RB Bobby Rainey: He is operating as Tampa Bay's third-down back in a committee backfield that features Doug Martin and Charles Sims splitting the early-down touches. Facing a severely reduced workload and going against a resurgent Cincinnati Bengals defense that gave up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to the running back position during the last two weeks, Rainey is a weak play. ( 15 yds rush; 3 catches for 24 yds )

RB Mike James: ( 13 yds rush; 1 catch for 2 yds )

WR Vincent Jackson: Fantasy owners shouldn't chase Jackson's 100-yard outing from last week (it was just his second 100-yard game of the year), because it happened against a porous Chicago Bears secondary. Jackson also draws a much tougher matchup this week against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that surrendered the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts during the last month. Consider Jackson a weak play. ( 5 catches for 72 yds )

WR Mike Evans: The Cincinnati Bengals defense has yielded the eighth-fewest fantasy points to enemy receivers during the last month, but Evans, who has scored in four straight games, is obviously way too hot to sit. Fantasy owners, however, should dial down their expectations a bit for Josh McCown's go-to guy. ( 5 catches for 73 yds and 1 TD )

WR Louis Murphy: Don't get too excited about Murphy's 100-yard game from last week. It happened versus a super-leaky Chicago Bears secondary, and Murphy, who is a slot receiver, occasionally will rack up a fluky large fantasy outing. He is way too inconsistent to trust, especially against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that ranked a stingy eighth in fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers during the last four weeks. ( 2 catches for 26 yds )

WR Russell Shepard: ( 1 catch for 3 yds )

WR Robert Herron: ( 1 yd rush; 1 catch for 3 yds )

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins: As of late Wednesday morning, Seferian-Jenkins (back) was looking iffy to play in Week 13 against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that ceded the third-fewest fantasy points to enemy tight ends during the last month. We'll leave his projections alone for now. Check back for an update later in the week. ( 3 catches for 24 yds )

TE Brandon Myers: If Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back) is unable to suit up, the veteran Myers is expected to start. However, he would be a weak play versus a Cincinnati Bengals defense that allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts during the last four weeks. We'll provide an update when it's warranted. ( 1 catch for 14 yds )

TE Luke Stocker: ( 1 catch for 3 yds )

PK Patrick Murray: Consider Murray a weak play versus a Cincinnati Bengals defense that yielded the eighth-fewest fantasy points to enemy kickers since Week 9. ( 2 XPs, 1 FG )

Def Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay has been playing a little better in recent weeks, but this unit still is not good enough to trust as a starting option against a productive and efficient Cincinnati Bengals offense. During the last month, the Buccaneers allowed 19.3 points per game. They also averaged 3.3 sacks and 1.8 takeaways per outing. The Cincinnati offense has really picked it up in the last two weeks. The Bengals have scored 23.5 points per game while giving up only one sack and committing just one turnover. ( 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Fumble )



New Orleans Saints (vs Pittsburgh Steelers)

QB Drew Brees: The must-start Brees won't get his shot at what has been an injury-depleted Pittsburgh Steelers secondary that surrendered an average of 232.67 passing yards and 2.0 touchdown passes per contest during the last month. Strong safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor are both expected to return. Don't worry about Brees. The Saints triggerman will be throwing a ton as usual. ( 351 yds pass with 3 TDs and 1 Int; 4 yds rush )

RB Mark Ingram: Fantasy owners need to temper their expectations for Ingram against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that surrendered an average of 62.67 rushing yards per game and only one rushing touchdown during the last four weeks. Pierre Thomas is healthy again, but it looks like the Saints will continue to give Ingram the bulk of the early-down touches. ( 70 yds rush and 1 TD; 3 catches for 23 yds )

RB Pierre Thomas: A now-healthy Thomas has returned to his role as the Saints' top passing-down back. New Orleans apparently plans to keep giving Mark Ingram the bulk of the early-down touches, but the passing-down plays clearly belong to Thomas. Consider him a weak play against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs during the last month. ( 21 yds rush; 5 catches for 37 yds )

RB Khiry Robinson: As of late Wednesday morning, there was no official word about the Week 13 playing status of Robinson (forearm), who has missed five consecutive games. Check back for an update later in the week. ( 31 yds rush; 1 catch for 6 yds )

RB Travaris Cadet: With a healthy Pierre Thomas returning to his role as New Orleans' top passing-down back, Cadet slides back down the depth chart. No fantasy appeal here. ( 4 yds rush; 3 catches for 21 yds )

WR Marques Colston: As expected, the absence of Brandin Cooks (thumb surgery) has cleared the way for Colston to handle a more critical role in the New Orleans passing attack. Last week, the ninth-year pro hauled in just his second scoring pass of the season. Consider Colston a decent WR3/flex option play versus a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that ranked 15th in fantasy points allowed to enemy wideouts during the last month. ( 6 catches for 75 yds )

WR Kenny Stills: While operating in the 'Brandin Cooks' role for the New Orleans offense last week, Stills racked up career highs in targets (nine) and catches (eight) to go along with 98 receiving yards. The second-year pro's new role makes him a decent fantasy WR3 play versus a Pittsburgh Steelers defense ranked 15th in fantasy points given up to opposing wideouts during the last month. ( 5 catches for 62 yds )

WR Robert Meachem: ( 1 yd rush; 2 catches for 33 yds )

WR Joseph Morgan: ( 1 yd rush; 3 catches for 33 yds )

WR Nick Toon: ( 1 catch for 14 yds )

TE Jimmy Graham: The must-play Graham draws a favorable matchup versus a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that has surrendered the ninth-most fantasy points to enemy tight ends during the last month. ( 7 catches for 78 yds and 1 TD )

TE Ben Watson: ( 1 catch for 13 yds )

TE Josh Hill: ( 1 catch for 13 yds )

PK Shayne Graham: During the last four weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense ranked 15th in fantasy points allowed to enemy kickers. Consider Graham a decent play. ( 3 XPs, 2 FGs )

Def New Orleans Saints: The Pittsburgh Steelers offense occasionally allows sacks and commits more turnovers than the elite offenses do, but the New Orleans defense isn't good enough to exploit what looks like a favorable matchup on a paper. During the last month, the Saints surrendered an average of 24.5 points per game. They also notched 2.5 sacks and 1.0 takeaway per outing. In the same time span, the Steelers scored 25.67 points per game. They also yielded 3.33 sacks per outing and committed 2.0 turnovers per contest. ( 2 sacks, 1 INT )



Atlanta Falcons (vs Arizona Cardinals)

QB Matt Ryan: The Falcons triggerman draws a very challenging home matchup. During the last month, the Arizona Cardinals defense surrendered an average of 198.3 passing yards per game and just three touchdown passes. If you need big points from the quarterback position this week, Ryan is not going to come through for you. ( 256 yds pass with 2 TDs and 1 Int; 6 yds rush )

QB T.J. Yates: ( 18 yds pass )

RB Steven Jackson: The touchdown-dependent lead dog in Atlanta's committee backfield looks like a very weak play against an Arizona Cardinals defense that yielded just 72.8 rushing yards per game and only one rushing touchdown during the last four weeks. ( 48 yds rush and 1 TD; 2 catches for 15 yds )

RB Jacquizz Rodgers: Rodgers hasn't touched the ball more than six times in a game since Week 1. He is waiver-wire material. ( 17 yds rush; 3 catches for 17 yds )

RB Devonta Freeman: Even though Antone Smith (broken leg) has been lost for the season, the Falcons don't seem interested in giving Freeman extra touches. The rookie ball carrier lacks fantasy appeal. ( 12 yds rush; 2 catches for 13 yds )

WR Julio Jones: With only one 100-yard outing and just one touchdown grab in his last six games, Jones has been mired in mediocrity. Don't expect a huge rebound outing this week. The Arizona Cardinals defense has surrendered the fewest fantasy points to the receiver position during the last month. In addition, Jones likely will have to contend with shadow coverage from standout Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. It looks like Jones owners will have to dial down their expectations yet again. ( 8 catches for 93 yds )

WR Roddy White: White's matchup against an Arizona Cardinals defense that yielded the fewest fantasy points to enemy wideouts during the last four weeks obviously is a toughie. However, White still should see plenty of action since Cardinals standout cornerback Patrick Peterson is expected to shadow Julio Jones. Temper your expectations for White a bit this week. ( 5 catches for 50 yds )

WR Harry Douglas: Atlanta's slot receiver has amassed six catches for 60 yards in his last three games. Douglas shouldn't be on your fantasy radar for any reason. ( 3 catches for 34 yds )

WR Devin Hester: ( 2 yds rush; 2 catches for 25 yds )

WR Eric Weems: ( 1 catch for 4 yds )

TE Levine Toilolo: He hasn't caught more than two passes or amassed more than 30 receiving yards in a game since Week 6. Toilolo remains a country mile away from fantasy relevance. ( 1 catch for 14 yds )

TE Bear Pascoe: ( 1 catch for 1 yd )

PK Matt Bryant: Consider Bryant a decent play versus an Arizona Cardinals defense that ceded 8.0 points per game to enemy kickers during the last month. The Falcons will struggle against the Bengals in the red zone, which means more field goal attempts than extra point attempts for Bryant. ( 2 XPs, 2 FGs )

Def Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta looks like a weak play as usual. During the last four weeks, the Falcons gave up an average of 20 points per contest. They also notched 2.33 sacks and 2.67 takeaways per game. In the same time span, the Cardinals scored 21.33 points per game. They also yielded 2.0 sacks per contest and committed only 1.3 turnovers per outing. ( 1 sack, 1 INT )



Carolina Panthers (vs Minnesota Vikings)

QB Cam Newton: Coming off a bye week, Newton will square off against a Minnesota Vikings defense that allowed an average of 263.33 passing yards and 2.0 touchdown passes per game since Week 9. The Vikings are considered mediocre, but they have played opponents tough at home. Consider Newton to still be a high-end fantasy play this week. ( 232 yds pass with 2 TDs and 1 Int; 33 yds rush )

QB Derek Anderson: ( 15 yds pass )

RB DeAngelo Williams: Since Week 9, Williams has averaged a lackluster 12 combo touches and 45.33 combo yards per contest with no touchdowns scored. The Minnesota Vikings defense, during the last month, yielded an average of 112 rushing yards and 1.0 rushing touchdown per contest, but Williams won't receive enough touches in Carolina's unpredictable committee backfield to exploit the favorable matchup. He is a weak play. ( 56 yds rush; 2 catches for 23 yds )

RB Jonathan Stewart: Although he has been a more effective runner than DeAngelo Williams, Stewart continues to operate as his backup. During the last four weeks, Stewart has averaged just 11 total touches and 48 total yards per contest with one touchdown scored while operating in the Panthers unpredictable committee backfield. Based mainly on his predicted workload, Stewart looks like a weak play against a Minnesota Vikings defense that allowed 112 rushing yards and 1.0 rushing touchdown per game during the last month. ( 38 yds rush; 2 catches for 16 yds )

RB Mike Tolbert: After sitting out since Week 4 due to a hairline leg fracture, Tolbert is expected to return against the Minnesota Vikings. He probably will be on a snap count while operating in the Panthers' unpredictable committee backfield. Tolbert obviously lacks fantasy starter appeal. ( 14 yds rush; 1 catch for 10 yds )

RB Fozzy Whittaker: With Mike Tolbert (leg) back on the field, Whittaker slides down the depth chart and back to fantasy irrelevance. ( 7 yds rush; 1 catch for 10 yds )

WR Kelvin Benjamin: The talented rookie receiver leads the Panthers in receiving yards and touchdown grabs. Consider Benjamin a strong play versus a Minnesota Vikings defense that ranked 23rd in fantasy points allowed to enemy wideouts during the last month. ( 6 catches for 78 yds and 1 TD )

WR Jerricho Cotchery: The 32-year-old possession wideout hasn't benefited statistically from starting opposite of talented rookie Kelvin Benjamin. During the last month, Cotchery hasn't amassed more than four catches or more than 60 receiving yards in a game. He also hasn't hit pay dirt this season. Despite a plus matchup against a Minnesota Vikings defense that ranked 23rd in fantasy points ceded to opposing wideouts during the last four weeks, Cotchery lacks fantasy appeal. ( 4 catches for 46 yds )

WR Philly Brown: ( 2 yds rush; 3 catches for 27 yds )

WR Brenton Bersin: ( 1 catch for 11 yds )

TE Greg Olsen: Olsen hasn't found the end zone since Week 6, but he remains the close second option in the Carolina passing attack behind Kelvin Benjamin. Even though the Minnesota Vikings have yielded the 11th-fewest fantasy points to enemy tight ends during the last month, Olsen still deserves a spot in your starting lineup. Consider him a solid play. ( 5 catches for 65 yds )

TE Ed Dickson: ( 1 catch for 9 yds )

TE Brandon Williams: ( 1 catch for 3 yds )

PK Graham Gano: Consider Gano a weak play versus a Minnesota Vikings defense that yielded only 5.67 points per game to opposing kickers since Week 9. ( 2 XPs, 1 FG )

Def Carolina Panthers: Carolina is a weak play versus a reasonably productive Minnesota Vikings offense that doesn't make as many mistakes as you'd expect with rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater under center. During their last four games played, the Panthers gave up an average of 26.3 points per contest. They also racked up 2.0 sacks and 1.3 takeaways per outing. Since Week 9, the Vikings have scored 21 points per game while yielding 2.0 sacks per contest. They also have committed just two turnovers. ( 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Fumble )



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