Matt Cassel (Kansas City): One quarterback not getting the respect he deserves is Cassel, who has thrown for 18 touchdowns versus four interceptions. Much of that production is because of Dwayne Bowe’s emergence as a solid wide receiver. Either way, Cassel has a nice matchup against Seattle, which ranks in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.
Mark Sanchez (New York): Last week, Sanchez, battling a calf injury, threw for 315 yards with three touchdowns and one interception against Houston. That performance gives Sanchez three straight weeks with at least 27 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. Consider Sanchez a low-end No. 1 fantasy quarterback against a Bengals defense that got torched by the Bills’ Ryan Fitzpatrick to the tune of 316 yards and four touchdowns last week.
Mike Tolbert (San Diego): Tolbert continued his breakout 2010 season with an impressive performance Monday night against Denver, with 111 rushing yards with a touchdown. Look for similar numbers against a Colts run defense that allows the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Darren McFadden (Oakland): McFadden has been quiet the last two weeks, totaling 103 rushing yards with zero touchdowns. Granted, Week 11 was against Pittsburgh. McFadden should return to form against a Dolphins’ defense that allows 113 rushing yards per game. Based on the matchup, McFadden is a low-end No. 1 running back.
Steve Johnson (Buffalo): Like Tolbert, Johnson is having a breakout 2010 season, with 728 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Although Johnson faces the Steelers, he is a must-start from now on. The Steelers rank 22nd in pass defense and have allowed five passing touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in their past five games. So, Steve Johnson, “Why So Serious?”
Vincent Jackson (San Diego): Jackson is back after serving a three-game suspension and signing his contract late. This is great timing because Patrick Crayton (wrist) is out, Antonio Gates is still battling a foot injury, and Malcom Floyd tweaked his hamstring. Jackson will benefit by having the league’s leading passer in Philip Rivers and going against a Colts defense allowing 208 passing yards per game.
David Garrard (Jacksonville): Garrard looked terrible last week, with 254 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. The Jaguars’ offense will stall a little with Mike Sims-Walker out. This week, Garrard faces a Giants defense that allowing 14 fantasy points per week.
Fred Jackson (Buffalo): Jackson has been solid in his past three games, with four touchdowns and back-to-back 100-yard games. This week, he faces a Steelers defense allowing 63 rushing yards per game and a total of four touchdowns on the ground. Only the Patriots’ BenJarvus Green-Ellis has managed to go over 50 rushing yards against the Steelers. Look for other options at the running back position this week.
Beanie Wells (Arizona): Wells had eight carries for 39 yards last week against Kansas City. Wells’ knee continues to be a burden and the Cardinals continue to use a two-back system. In Week 12, Wells faces a Niners defense that ranks ninth in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.
Brandon Marshall (Miami): It’s unclear if Marshall will play this week against Oakland (top five pass defense) because of a hamstring injury. Marshall hasn’t recorded double-digit fantasy points in standard leagues since Week 6. The Dolphins’ offense is a mess, led by quarterback Tyler Thigpen. Keep Marshall on your bench and hope he’s ready for the playoffs.
Johnny Knox (Chicago): Knox continues to be Cutler’s favorite target, with five catches for 55 yards on eight targets last week. But the attention hasn’t translated to fantasy production. The yards are there but the touchdowns are not (one for the year). Expect corner Asante Samuel, who leads the NFL with seven interceptions, to be defending Knox, who is more of a flex option against the Eagles.