Lineup calls: Oak-SD edition

BY foxsports • November 9, 2011

They’re back.

The NFL reintroduces the wonder and splendor of Thursday night games this week. Fans will be treated to another prime time game to rival scripted sitcoms and dramas. It’s reality television at its best, a meaningful grudge match pitting the Raiders against the Chargers in San Diego.

You can’t walk a city block in Los Angeles without seeing multiple Oakland car flags, bumper stickers and license plate frames. With office and school closures on tap Friday to commemorate Veterans’ Day, I suspect to see an influx of the silver and black faithful this weekend.

With an early game on tap, I’m rolling out a special edition of Lineup Calls. The klieg lights are warming up to spotlight a pair of QB1-worthy plays and their strong supporting casts.

Click here for Harmon’s Week 10 QBs

Click here for Harmon’s Week 10 RBs

Click here for Harmon’s Week 10 WRs

Click here for Harmon’s Week 10 TEs

Heroes

Philip Rivers threw an early touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson against the Packers, thereby allowing fantasy owners to breathe a quick sigh of relief. That excitement was short-lived, as Charlie Peprah and Tramon Williams returned interceptions for touchdowns late in the first quarter.

Rivers’ final two touchdown passes came in a frantic comeback mode, but they count just the same in fantasyland. He finished the game with 385 passing yards and four touchdowns, his first multi-touchdown performance since Week 2.

He’ll follow it up with a huge home effort against the Raiders this week. Oakland has been unable to sustain pressure on the edge, so Rivers will pass comfortably from the pocket. Oakland opponents have averaged 247 passing yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game. I don’t contend that he finishes the game without errors, but owners should get the week started with a huge point count. I have Rivers ranked third among quarterbacks this week.

I don’t know that I need to belabor the point. Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates are must-starts against the Raiders. Jackson finally broke out of a three-game haze with his three-touchdown performance against Green Bay, and Gates continues to make plays on one leg. Gates may not “look” the same as years past, but he’s still a handful.

Jackson ranks third among my wide receivers this week. Gates is fourth among tight ends.

Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews also rank highly for this matchup against the 29th-ranked Oakland run defense (140 yards and 1.1 touchdowns allowed per game). Mathews was cleared to practice on Tuesday, so he eclipses Tolbert by a few spots and runs back into the back-end RB1 ranks (No. 12). Tolbert appears at No. 16.

Flipping to the opposition for the moment, I’d start Carson Palmer with confidence this week. Sure, he’s still misfiring on occasion (three interceptions) and timing is still being established with his downfield threats. I’m not anticipating that he improves significantly on his 54 percent completion rate from last week, but he’ll work against a less than stellar secondary (15 touchdowns allowed) with multiple speed options at the ready.

To that end, I’ll put two Oakland receivers on the board at late-WR3 and early-WR4 options.

- Jacoby Ford reemerged as a deep threat in Week 9, producing five receptions on six targets for 105 yards with a touchdown. Ford ranks 32nd on my wideout list.

- Denarius Moore led the Raiders with four receptions on 12 targets for 61 yards. He’s particularly worthy of a look-see in PPR leagues. Moore ranks 43rd on my list.

Michael Bush has dominated in place of Darren McFadden the past two weeks. Bush nearly reached 100 rushing yards in back-to-back games, adding two receptions in each game (he rumbled for a touchdown in Week 9). He’ll get another crack at fantasy stardom Thursday night against a San Diego run defense that cedes 120 yards per game. Bush ranks 13th among my Week 10 running backs.

Ninjas

With Malcom Floyd expected to sit again because of his hip injury, rookie Vincent Brown steps into a nice opportunity against the Oakland secondary. Brown was targeted six times in the failed comeback attempt against the Packers and finished the game with four receptions for 79 yards.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh clearly isn’t a world-beating option, but Palmer trusts his field presence and will use him as a safety valve. Houshmandzadeh was targeted four times in Week 9 and logged a single reception for 28 yards. He’s a WR5 option with upside if this game opens up.

Flops

Following a surprising rise to prominence early this season, Darrius Heyward-Bey disappeared in Week 9. He was targeted only once in the Raiders’ loss to Denver. As such, we just can’t trust his role for this Thursday’s game. Information coming out of Oakland has lacked substance regarding the reason for his removal from the game.

Was he injured? Did Palmer have a different comfort level with the other receivers?

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