For Harmon rankings: QB , RB , WR
Did you curse your television when Dwayne Bowe fumbled near the San Diego red zone last night? That was a pretty good drive for the Chiefs, and they were finally showing some life. That turnover was symbolic of everything that has beset the efforts of this Kansas City squad all year. Even on well-thrown passes (completed, in this case), bad things are happening. Just look at the ball that deflected off of Dexter McCluster's hands and was returned for a touchdown. It's a snowball that rolls downhill into a weapon of destruction.
I'm glad I wasn't one of the pundits that drank the Kansas City Kool-Aid. Oh, wait. I sipped it, too.
Romeo. Romero. Wherefore art thou discipline, Romeo?
Sigh. Let's get into the remaining 13 matchups in this week's wide receiver edition of "Lineup Calls."
Heroes (Exclude Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Victor Cruz, Mike Wallace, Percy Harvin, Marques Colston, Roddy White, Reggie Wayne, Demaryius Thomas and Julio Jones)
Steve Smith at WAS
Smith's slip and touchdown miss are two of the most-talked about plays out of the Week 8 loss to Chicago. He also finished the game with 118 yards, thus outperforming expectations against the Bears.
If Cam Newton is going to post a huge game, then Smith is going to be right in the mix with a huge effort. The Redskins have allowed 227.4 receiving yards and 1.25 receiving touchdowns to wide receivers this season. I see a high-scoring game developing here. Thus, I ranked Smith all the way up at No. 5 this week.
Andre Johnson vs. BUF
Johnson hasn't been "Johnson" for much of the 2012 season. This is a prime opportunity coming out of the Bye for Gary Kubiak's offense to open things up and put up a huge point total (Lester Jean, anyone?). Seriously, the Bills' secondary has been atrocious, receiving little support from the highly-heralded arrivals on the defensive front. As a result, I'm anticipating that Matt Schaub runs a balanced attack against Dave Wannstedt's defense and feeds on the Bills' futile attempts to slow the Houston ground game. The Bills have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
Jeremy Maclin at NO
Should I just point to the opponent and drop the proverbial microphone? OK, I'll dig a little deeper. The Eagles have not been a consistent offense, by any means, and have been very loose with the ball. I don't expect that to stop altogether. However, this is a terrible defense that has been gashed by opposing runners and quarterbacks alike. The Saints have allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers.
LeSean McCoy will set the tone on the ground early, leaving Michael Vick to lay the ball out deep to his talented, speedy receivers. Maclin's caught 17 passes in the past three weeks, and I'm targeting another 100-yard game here. I ranked him 16th this week.
Larry Fitzgerald at GB
Fitzgerald is quietly pacing toward another 100-reception season. He hasn't had explosive games or frequent romps into the painted grass, but he's amassing catches and yardage. The Packers have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season and are playing without veteran safety Charles Woodson. His absence opens up opportunities for John Skelton, provided that the offensive line doesn't become a turnstile.
Denarius Moore vs. TB
Moore has become the go-to receiver for Carson Palmer. He's scored touchdowns in three consecutive games, the first Raiders player to do so since 2008. The Buccaneers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Quarterbacks have completed 63% of their pass attempts, and injuries and suspensions have depleted the secondary.
Palmer has averaged 277.3 passing yards this season. Look for him to connect with Moore 6-8 times this week.
Eric Decker at CIN
Decker's not putting up huge yardage numbers each week, but he's scored in four consecutive games (five total touchdowns) and has become a trusted option for Peyton Manning. I recognize that the Bengals have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, but this is a difficult, balanced attack to navigate.
Look for Willis McGahee to get started against the weak Cincinnati run defense, thereby opening opportunities downfield. I like the Cincinnati secondary, and it's gotten healthy of late, but the Denver offense is rolling.
Randall Cobb vs. ARI
Cobb posted a small yardage count in Week 8 (five receptions for 28 yards), but he found the end zone for the fourth time. With Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson (DNP on Friday) sidelined, Cobb retains a huge role in this matchup against the Cardinals.
Following a strong start to the season, the Cardinals have fallen off markedly. Everyone remembers Alex Smith's near-perfect night in Week 8. Though the Packers can't run the ball like the 49ers, the pass rush should give the Packers field position all day long.
Titus Young at JAC
Young caught all nine of his targets last week, including two touchdowns, as Matthew Stafford's arm awakened in the comeback win over Seattle. Young steps into a more prominent role this week with Calvin Johnson slowed because of an injury (DNP this week). Fantasy owners anticipated big things from Young in what was expected to be an explosive Detroit offense. Following a slow start, that breakout game against Seattle might kickstart this unit.
The Jaguars have allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Young sits in the No. 32 slot for me this week.
Sleepers Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. TB
As mentioned above, the Buccaneers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers and have been susceptible to the deep ball this season. He's a boom-or-bust option, but the matchup is right. Heyward-Bey caught a single pass in Week 8 against the Chiefs, a 32-yard touchdown. He caught four passes for 85 yards against the Jaguars in Week 7. I ranked him at No. 33 this week.
Andre Roberts at GB
Roberts has been targeted 20 times in the past two weeks, drawing much of John Skelton's attention while opponents blanket Larry Fitzgerald. He's on the board for a WR3 play this week against the injury-depleted Green Bay secondary.
Cecil Shorts III vs. DET
Throw it up and let him make plays. Shorts III has delivered multiple big plays for the Jaguars this season, and we're starting to see Blaine Gabbert growing more confident each week. The Lions will likely be without Louis Delmas at safety. As a result, the Jaguars may take a few shorts downfield to open up the ground game for Jennings. He's on the board as a WR3 this week.
Brandon LaFell at WAS
LaFell posted two big plays and stretched the field against the Bears. This followed a touchdown reception in Week 7 against the Cowboys. With strong performances against two top-ranked defenses, I'll put him on the board for a sneaky spot play this week against the woeful Washington pass defense.
Flops Dez Bryant at ATL
Bryant posted a huge game in Week 8 and nearly put the Cowboys and fantasy owners over the top in the back of the end zone. Alas, his fingers came down out of bounds and the comeback fell short. Bryant's been affected by a hip injury this week.
The Falcons have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season (four touchdowns).
Kenny Britt vs. CHI
Britt's been inconsistent for fantasy owners since returning from injury. Owners have not been able to count on impact deep balls from Matt Hasselbeck despite improved work on the ground that should have opened up the downfield game. This is not the spot to get Britt back in the lineup. I expect Tennessee to turn to the short passing game, and perhaps you can find some YAC after a quick slant route. However, he'll be contending with the strong Chicago cornerbacks, who have won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Month honors.
Torrey Smith at CLE
Smith gets a matchup with Joe Haden coming out of the Bye week. When last these teams met, Haden was serving his suspension and Smith found the end zone early. Joe Flacco has struggled on the road this season, and has had issues in Cleveland historically. He's no better than a WR3 option.