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Thursday night thunder?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - More like a small firecracker.

The matchup between the undefeated Arizona Cardinals and the 2-2 St. Louis Rams may prove to be fun to watch, but it isn't likely to produce a deluge of fantasy points. It's a battle between two struggling offenses which are still searching to find their niche.

The visiting Cardinals are 31st out of 32 NFL teams in total offense, manufacturing just 271 yards per game. They have yet to produce as much as 300 yards in any game this season. Obviously, defense has led the Cards to their 4-0 record and they rank third overall, yielding just 15.2 ppg.

Quarterback Kevin Kolb had his best fantasy production of the season last week (20 points), throwing for 324 yards and three touchdowns, but he was sacked eight times and threw two interceptions in the 24-21 overtime win against Miami. He'll face the Rams' 11th-ranked pass defense and, at this point, can't be trusted to produce fantasy-worthy quarterback points on a consistent basis.

St. Louis has proven to be vulnerable to the run, which should mean Ryan Williams is a viable option, but he, too, has yet to prove to be reliable. He had a solid day against Philadelphia in Week 3, but last Sunday, with Beanie Wells out of the lineup, Williams only produced two fantasy points on 13 rushes for 26 yards.

He was missing in action for most of the second half as the Cardinals played catch-up and Williams is not part of the no-huddle offense. Still, against a Rams defense which is yielding 135.2 yards per game on the ground, we think Williams might be worth the gamble.

The one constant on the Arizona offense is wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. He may just be the most physically gifted player in the league, so the Cardinals' brain trust is always trying to get him the ball. Despite mediocre quarterback play, "Fitz" is eighth in targets (40) and 23rd in wide receiver points (35). When healthy, he's always a must start.

Fitzgerald's talent attracts plenty of the defense's focus, which sometimes allows the Cardinals' other starting wideout, Andre Roberts, to excel. Roberts has 15 receptions for 229 yards and four touchdowns this season, but did most of the damage last week and hasn't been consistent enough to put in fantasy lineups.

Start the Cardinals defense, as not only is it good, but it has forced 15 turnovers. In addition, there is always the possibility Patrick Peterson will return a punt for a touchdown, something he did four times last season.

The Rams offense is not much better than Arizona, producing just 287 yards per game through the first four contests.

Steven Jackson has been a good and sometimes great fantasy back over his career, but he's rarely been healthy over the past few years. He's limping again, this time from a groin injury, and is averaging just 60 ypg this season. Jackson has been limited in practice this week and we can't recommend him to fantasy owners.

The Rams have won both their home games and quarterback Sam Bradford has been solid in the two contests, throwing for 265.5 yards per game with a 64.6 percent completion rate and a 92.5 QB rating versus 175 ypg, 58.3 completion rate and 66.7 QB rating on the road. If your quarterback is injured, struggling or on a bye, Bradford could be a low-end option.

Only Danny Amendola has been a reliable receiver for Bradford and he is certainly worthy of a spot in your fantasy lineup. He's been targeted 44 times and has hauled in 31 balls for 351 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The remainder of Bradford's receiving corps - Brandon Gibson, Steve Smith, and rookies Brian Quick and Chris Givens - have yet to show they have significant fantasy value. None of the four should be in your lineup this week.

One of the Rams' best weapons this season has been kicker Greg Zuerlein. The 24-year-old rookie is perfect from the field, hitting all 12 field goal attempts and five extra points. In Week 4, he converted four field goals, including two from bonus range. In the perfect indoor conditions of the Edward Jones Dome, Zuerlein is a must-start.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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