The Rams defense could be a strong fantasy play this week if it can duplicate its performance from the first meeting with Arizona.
Don't worry – we're not going to start this column with a lame Thanksgiving theme. No list of “turkeys,” no list of things we're thankful for, no Black Friday references – nothing like that. In fact, we're just going to go straight to the main course because you're probably already sick of leftovers at this point. (Sorry...had to do one.)
Here are some key numbers to know about every contest this week, plus a sleeper, stumbler, stud or injury concern to watch out for with a brief explanation why. Note that the "studs" are guys who are either better than most owners realize or established stars who owners might be foolishly thinking about sitting.
Rams at Cardinals
Stat to know: The Rams' defense disappointed last week, but they're still a solid play against the Cardinals, who are allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to D/STs (9.2). When these teams met in Week 5, St. Louis recorded nine sacks, recovered a fumble and limited Arizona to three points.
Injury: RB Beanie Wells, toe (Expected to play for the first time since Week 3).
Broncos at Chiefs
Stat to know: Ronnie Hillman is expected to start and get the bulk of the carries for the Broncos, but Lance Ball should also get around 8-10 touches. Against a Chiefs' defense allowing 20.4 FPPG to RBs (sixth most), both are in play as at least flex-backs.
Injury: WR Dwayne Bowe, neck (Bowe's a risky play even if active, as Denver is allowing the seventh-fewest FPPG to WRs).
Bills at Colts
Stat to know: Both the Colts (26) and Bills (29.9) rank in the bottom seven in points allowed per game. Expect plenty of scoring in this one, making all relevant players, with the possible exception of Donald Brown, decent fantasy starts.
Injury: RB Fred Jackson, concussion (Expected to play, but C.J. Spiller will still start and get the bulk of the touches).
Steelers at Browns
Stat to know: In five career games in which Charlie Batch has started, Mike Wallace have averaged 58.6 yards and has three total TDs. With the Browns allowing 26.5 FPP G to WRs (tied for fifth most), Wallace can still function as a WR3 in most leagues.
Stumbler: Steelers D/ST (Steelers rank 26th in fantasy points; Browns allowing just 5.4 FPPG to D/STs).
Raiders at Bengals
Stat to know: Both the Bengals (9.3) and Raiders (8.9) rank in the top six in FPPG allowed to TEs. Both Jermaine Gresham and Brandon Myers have averaged at least 8.4 fantasy points over their past three contests, so both are solid options this week.
Stumbler: QB Carson Palmer (In 14 career “cold-weather” games, Palmer has averaged under 200 yards a game and has a 22:20 TD-to-INT ratio).
Seahawks at Dolphins
Stat to know: The Dolphins have the 27th-ranked pass defense (266.3 yards per game), but they're only allowing 18.8 FPPG to QBs (tied for 18th). Even more important is that Russell Wilson has an 11:0 TD-to-turnover ratio at home and a 4:8 ratio on the road. He's not a great play this week.
Sleeper: K Steven Hauschka (Dolphins allowing eighth-most FPPG to Ks).
Falcons at Buccaneers
Stat to know: The Bucs have the top-ranked run defense (81.8 yards allowed per game), but they have also allowed seven rushing TDs. Michael Turner tends to be a touchdown-or-bust player anyway, so going against the league's best run defense doesn't really affect his fantasy value as it would other backs.
Stumbler: WR Mike Williams (9.3 fantasy points the past two games; Atlanta allowing third-fewest FPPG to WRs).
Vikings at Bears
Stat to know: If Jay Cutler is active, he's a decent boom-or-bust option against a Vikings' defense allowing the third-most FPPG to QBs (23.1). Cutler has four games with 21-plus fantasy points this year, but he also has three full games with fewer than 10 fantasy points.
Injury: WR Percy Harvin, ankle (Harvin's a must-start if active, as he's leading all WRs in touches this year).
Titans at Jaguars
Stat to know: The Jaguars and Titans are both allowing 24 FPPG to RBs, tied for second most. Chris Johnson should continue his recent hot streak, and Jalen Parmele is worth a shot as an RB2 or flex play after getting 27 touches last week.
Sleeper: TE Marcedes Lewis (Titans allowing third-most FPPG to TEs).
Ravens at Chargers
Stat to know: Torrey Smith had just one catch for seven yards last week, but he still received a solid seven targets. It's also worth noting that he scored in three of his previous four games before last week. Expect a much better performance against a Chargers' defense allowing 23.3 FPPG to WRs (tied for 13th).
Stud: RB Ryan Mathews (Ravens allowing 10th-most FPPG to RBs).
49ers at Saints
Stat to know: It's usually risky to trust a quarterback in his first road start, especially in a noisy dome, but Colin Kaepernick should be just fine against a Saints' defense allowing the most FPPG to QBs (25.9). He should keep Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis involved, too.
Stumblers: New Orleans' RBs (Don't know how carries will be divvied up with Darren Sproles expected back; 49ers allowing fewest FPPG to RBs).
Packers at Giants
Stat to know: Both the Giants (26.3) and Packers (24.2) are in the top 10 in FPPG allowed to WRs. James Jones, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are all in play for the Packers, and Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks should be started for the Giants. Nicks has been especially good against the Packers in his career, posting 346 yards and five TDs in three games.
Stumbler: RB James Starks (averaging 3.2 yards per carry; Giants allowing sixth-fewest FPPG to RBs).
Panthers at Eagles
Stat to know: Cam Newton has averaged 20.7 fantasy points over his past three games; the Eagles have allowed at least 19.5 fantasy points to QBs in their past five games, including two 30-point performances. Newton and his receivers should have good performances.
Sleeper: Panthers D/ST (Panthers rank ninth in D/ST fantasy points over the past four weeks; Eagles allowing the most FPPG to D/STs).
Matt Lutovsky is a fantasy football writer for Sporting News' Fantasy Source. You can read more of his work on the Fantasy Source football homepage.