Despite the Oakland Raiders struggles this season, Carson Palmer has been putting up big numbers recently. (Courtesy: Getty Images)
Injuries and bad matchups conspire to make some regular studs look a little dudly, but some dormant role players could wake up.
QB Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders: Against the New Orleans Saints (322.4 yards, 2.11 touchdown passes and 0.56 interceptions vs. quarterbacks per game), any passer is a good play. Palmer has thrown for 298 yards or more in four of his last five and has tossed eight TD passes in his last three.
WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: He has 19 receptions for 336 yards and a touchdown in his last two contests. Megatron should lead the Recepticons against his favorite NFC North opponent from 2011, the Green Bay Packers (15 catches, 293 yards and two TDs in two games). The Pack's beatable pass defense is down a Clay Matthews and a Charles Woodson.
WR Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton's top receiver has just four receptions for 60 yards in his last two affairs. He did notch his first touchdown of the year in one of them, at least. This week, he's due for his biggest game of 2012: He caught seven balls for 106 yards in the season opener against this same awful Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass defense.
RB Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins: Washington has run Morris only 13 times in each of the team's last two tilts (67.5 yards per game). This stud-to-be is still averaging 4.8 yards per carry, however, and the Redskins should look to pound it against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have allowed nearly 100 rushing yards a game and 4.0 yards per carry to backs.
Denver Broncos D/ST: The Broncos lead the league in sacks (31) and are tied for sixth in interceptions. They've also scored four defensive touchdowns and once in each of the last two weeks on special teams. At home against the San Diego Chargers and turnover-prone Philip Rivers, a repeat of Week 6 could be in store.
WR Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears: The nasty San Francisco 49ers aren't fools. Marshall is third in receiving yards (907), second in receptions (67) and third in targets (103). If they take the receiver away, Chicago's QB should be frustrated - or worse if Jason Campbell plays in place of Jay Cutler (concussion).
RB Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos: This 31-year-old didn't look so spry in his last two contests and lost a fumble in three of his last five. He's working on ball security in practice, but the San Diego Chargers still defend the run well (3.7 yards per carry allowed). McGahee hit for just 3.3 per tote in their first meeting and will need to catch several passes to succeed.
WR Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: Johnson caught at least eight balls in each of his three games before Week 10. The Jacksonville Jaguars present another good matchup, but Houston shouldn't need him much. The Texans can dismantle the Jags with their running game and defense, the way they did in Week 2.
QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: Under the fantasy radar, Dalton is 11th in points per game among QBs. The Kansas City Chiefs appear to be pushovers, but that's because of their run defense and their inability to protect the football. Dalton's Week 11 point total may be quite modest.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals: The Atlanta Falcons are reeling a bit from their first loss of the season and may take it out on the Cards. Atlanta has given up less than 150 yards and 0.67 TDs per game to receivers, and they've been notoriously hard on their opponents' No. 1 option.
RB Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers thought Dwyer's hand was hotter than Isaac Redman's in a sloppy Week 10. It's too risky to bring back Rashard Mendenhall (strained Achilles), but Pittsburgh may depend on the run without Ben Roethlisberger (rib and shoulder injuries). The Baltimore Ravens have yielded more than 120 rushing yards and nearly a TD per game to running backs.
WR Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots: Lloyd has quietly - unless you own him - drifted outside the top 36 in fantasy points per game among receivers in pretty much all formats. But the Indianapolis Colts are in the top five in points allowed per game to the position. They'll also be without their most talented cornerback.
TE Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals: In his last three games, Housler has 14 receptions for 141 yards. The nimble 6-foot-5, 250-pound pass-catcher, along with emerging rookie Michael Floyd, should find some room to roam against Atlanta. The Falcons defense is in the top 10 in fantasy points per game allowed to tight ends and will be preoccupied with stopping Larry Fitzgerald.
TE Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts: The New England Patriots have been beatable through the air, and tight ends in particular (66.1 yards and 0.67 TDs per game) have inflicted damage. Fellow rookie tight end Coby Fleener will sit again, so Allen should up his 162 yards from his last three contests.
RB Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams: This explosive rookie has averaged 5.7 yards a carry. The Rams leaned heavily on Steven Jackson in Week 10, but they should again turn to D-Rich against the New York Jets. The Jets' defense has allowed more than 150 total yards and one touchdown per game to running backs. Quick-hitting runners like Richardson have especially hurt them.