Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville Jaguars:Leftwich is a smart, high percentage passer who rarely makes mistakes. He will locate Houston FS C.C. Brown this week before the snap to determine what defensive coverage the secondary is playing. When Brown is in the middle of the field, Leftwich will know his receivers should be matched up in man coverage outside. He will put the ball up for grabs to all of his three receivers who average 6'4" in height. He's a starter this week against a secondary that will give up big plays on the perimeter.
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles:Westbrook's speed and versatility will be a big factor against an aggressive but aging defense in Tampa. The Eagles will look to run him between the tackles, using their big O-line to pound the Bucs undersized front. He is also too fast for the nickel back when lined up as a receiver in the slot, and is too quick and elusive in the open field for LB Derrick Brooks. He hasn't put up tremendous numbers the past couple weeks, but this game could mark his return to form.
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers:Smith is the focal point of the offense and Delhomme's first look on nearly every passing down. The Bengals will probably show some over-under coverage against Smith, with Tory James pressing him off the line to shut down the slot screen and his shorter routes, and also have safety Madieu Williams hovering over top of James to help when Smith attempts to get vertical. However, the presence of Keyshawn Johnson, who will run the deep middle, and Drew Carter, who has the speed to stretch the seam, will draw coverage from the safeties, leaving Smith in favorable matchups.
Ben Watson, New England Patriots:Watson is the player who will stretch the field for the Pats, forcing the Bills two young safeties into coverage. He has a significant size advantage however, and has deceptive speed. He's a top 10 choice at TE this week.
San Diego Chargers:NT Jamal Williams stuffs the inside run, OLB's Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips are relentless pass rushers, and the secondary, though the weak link in this unit, haven't had to play in coverage very long. This is one of the top defenses in the league right now.
Brad Johnson, Minnesota Vikings:Johnson will continue to oversee the run first attack and work the short and intermediate passing game off play action fakes. TE Jermaine Wiggins and RB Chester Taylor will be the primary targets, and Troy Williamson and Travis Taylor will run short crossing routes and quick slants that will put the ball in their hands and let them run. But ball-control doesn't translate into fantasy points. Johnson is only a backup.
Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs:The strength of the Chiefs running game this year has been interior runs behind the center and guards. Chargers' NT Jamal Williams makes that near impossible this week. But if he tries to run off tackle, the KC OT's will be overpowered by OLB's Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips. Look for him more as a receiver this week where he can run over smaller defenders out on the perimeter. He won't have his best game this week.
Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers:Ward has been hindered greatly by Roethlisberger's struggles. He's been limited to short possession routes to help get the ball out of Ben's hands. Against the Falcons pass rush, look for more of the same this week. Ward is a borderline #2 receiver this week.
Alge Crumpler, Atlanta Falcons:The Steelers will put the Falcons WR's in single coverage and float Polamalu closer to the line. FS Ryan Clark has the speed to run the vertical seam with Crumpler and essentially shut him down for the afternoon. It won't be a big day for the big man.
Washington Redskins:The Redskins still struggle to get pressure without blitzing, which will leave the secondary in coverage too long, a problem for them all season. Injuries have hit that group as well. This week look for more two deep coverage, but that will cause them to sacrifice the run defense against a Colts rushing attack that has improved by the week. They are not a starting unit.
Sleeper of the Week
Carnell Williams, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:Williams is the Bucs biggest offensive threat and will be key to Tampa's ball control attack this week as they try to keep Philly's high flying attack off the field. He will run left at DE Darren Howard and DT Darwin Walker at the point of attack, but the key will be the O-line's ability to seal off MLB Jeremiah Trotter which will set Williams up one on one with the OLB and allow him to use his breakaway speed and cutback ability in the open field. He's a borderline #1 back this week.
Leon Washington, RB, New York Jets:As we expected, Washington has yet to secure the starting job with the Jets. But, a week after his 100-yard effort against the Jags, while splitting the load with Kevan Barlow, he averaged nearly 5 yards per rush. Expect him to get the ball more and more as the season progresses. Look for weak side runs this week that will try to expose the injuries on that side of the Detroit defensive line, and a group of over aggressive LB's trying to adjust to a new scheme. He's still a third until the Jets make him the feature back and let him carry the load, but he's a great flex option, especially in the bye weeks.