Engel's Mailbag: Lineup Advice

Noble (Austin, Texas): This week, should I play Peyton Manning versus Oakland, or should I go with another quarterback, maybe Derek Anderson or Matt Hasselbeck? The matchup worries me with the Raiders strong pass defense and Joseph Addai figuring to run the ball nearly every play against the weak run defense. At running back, I have Willie Parker, Jamal Lewis, and Earnest Graham. I can only start two.

Engel: I would not worry about the matchup when you have Manning, especially against a pass defense that is overrated. You don't bench your superstars in the fantasy postseason, and guys like Manning become superstars because they post good numbers against all types of opposition. Manning threw four touchdown passes in Week 13, when he faced another "tough" matchup against the Jaguars. The Oakland defense is fifth in the NFL against the pass, but opponents don't throw on the Raiders as much as they could because the Raiders allow 150.4 rush yards per game. Brett Favre, at less than 100 percent, threw two long touchdown passes against Oakland. Jon Kitna threw three touchdown passes against the Raiders Week 1. Manning will get the job done no matter the matchup right now. He is rolling, with two consecutive four-touchdown outings and 11 scoring passes in his past three games. Oakland has only faced two top-ranked quarterbacks this season, Favre and Derek Anderson. Much of their passing stats have come as the result of the scheduling and opponents choosing to run on them so often. Manning will have his way against Oakland, and the matchup does not favor the Raiders. Oakland will not generate enough of a pass rush to bother Manning, and the Colts offense is more diverse than to simply run Addai constantly. You are giving the Raiders too much credit and you should simply keep Manning active and watch him continue to flourish. The Oakland defense won't prevent Manning from imposing his will on them. At running back, Lewis and Graham are both playing very well and have friendly matchups. They are better for touchdowns than Parker, too. Use Lewis and Graham. They have combined for eight rushing scores in their past four games combined, while Parker has only two rushing touchdowns in 2007.