Tom Brady/Randy Moss/Wes Welker/Joey Galloway/Ben
Laurence Maroney/Kevin Faulk/Fred Taylor (vs. NYJ)
Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady
picked up right where he left off in 2007 during the opening week’s
contest after missing virtually all of 2008. He hooked up with
his two favorite targets, Randy Moss and Wes Welker, a dozen times
each to finish with 378 yards passing and 2 TDs. Both TDs came
late in the game and both went to TE Ben Watson who has never
quite lived up to his immense talent level, but should now likely
be a hot waiver wire pickup in many leagues where he wasn’t
drafted. Brady did appear to be slightly hesitant in the pocket
at times (with a brace supporting his injured knee), but he definitely
got his groove back in the game’s late stages. The young
and talented Buffalo secondary had no answers for the dynamic
duo of Moss and Welker who combined for 24 catches and 234 yards.
The ancient Joey Galloway finished the contest catchless, but
teams will still need to account for his still better than average
deep speed or get burned while over compensating for Moss and
The new look Jets defense absolutely devastated a very talented
Houston offense in Week 1. They pitched a virtual shut out when
you consider that Houston’s only score came on an interception
(and fumble) return. Darrellle Revis held Andre Johnson to only
4 harmless catches. Revis matched up one on one with him for about
60% of the snaps. When Lito Sheppard got the assignment of covering
Johnson he was usually supported by safety Jim Leonard or a nickel
back in an effort to double team Johnson. It’s likely the
model the Jets will use against Randy Moss this week. The middle
of the Jets defense NT Kris Jenkins, ILB David Harris and ILB
Bart Scott made life a living hell for QB Matt Shaub as they pressured
and hit him all day – including Scott knocking him down
to the ground on the very first series to set the tone. Shaub
was held to only 166 yards passing on the day and was intercepted
by Lito Sheppard. Will reality set in when the Pats come to town?
The Patriots o-line is not what it once was and Rex Ryan’s
blitzing scheme was effective against them back in 2007 as the
Raven’s DC, so while another “shut-out” is unlikely
don’t be surprised if the Jets are able to at least keep
the Meadowlands scoreboard from lighting up like a Christmas tree.
Running Game Thoughts: Last
week I stated that I was just guessing when it came to projecting
the New England RB stats and even after Week 1 is in the books
the statement is still relevant. Against the Bills it was a mix
of Laurence Maroney and Fred Taylor, but Bill Belicheck and his
OCs are famous for handing off to a different ball carriers based
solely on the game situation, during the last couple of seasons.
Maroney looked to have finally learned his lessons from past dog
house experiences and aggressively tried to hit the holes in front
of him instead of dancing around as was his penchant in the past.
Old man Fred Taylor found the endzone in Week 1 at the goal-line,
and was also an effective part of the limited running game. Sammy
Morris was completely left out of the mix and I’m sure he’ll
be finding his way to the waiver wire pool in many leagues where
he managed to get drafted – and then go for 100 and 2 TDs
The Jets were one of the top 7 run defense in 2008 and looked
even better last week holding the dynamic second year player Steve
Slaton to only 17 yards on the ground while forcing him to cough
up the ball in a critical situation. The aforementioned middle
of the Jet defense was all over him and when he tried to take
it outside he was met by equal resistance. Kris Jenkins was a
candidate for defensive player of the year in 2008, before he
once again succumbed to his balky back, and looks primed to be
a contender once again this year. There’s no reason to take
a chance on any NE RB this week in this tough matchup, especially
in light of all the mystery regarding who will actually get the
Tom Brady: 275 yds passing 2 TDs
Randy Moss: 95 yds receiving, 1 TD
Wes Welker: 70 yds receiving
Joey Galloway: 30 yds receiving
Ben Watson: 45 yds receiving, 1 TD
Laurence Maroney: 65 yds rushing
Fred Taylor: 35 yards rushing
Kevin Faulk: 10 yds rushing / 25 yds receiving
Mark Sanchez/Chansi Stuckey/Jerricho Cotchery/Dustin
Thomas Jones/Leon Washington (vs. NE)
Passing Game Thoughts: It’s safe to say that Mark Sanchez
passed his audition last week. While Jet fans start carving his
bust for his spot in the Hall of Fame, fantasy owners need to
temper their enthusiasm a little. It’s true that Sanchez
showed tremendous foot work, arm strength, poise and leadership
in his first NFL game, but teams will now have some game film
on him and it’s still tough to move effectively from college
QB to the NFL with immediate success. Sanchez was an incredible
9 of 10 on third down situations with at least 7 yards from conversion.
He moved well in the pocket when pressured and was able to make
throws from all arm angles. He did at least earn the right to
move from waiver wires to your fantasy backup QB in seasonal leagues
if you want to take the chance that he is “for real”.
Only 4 Jet “receivers” caught the ball on Sunday (Chansi
Stuckey, Jericho Cotchery, TE Dustin Keller and RB Leon Washington)
so Sanchez hasn’t quite mastered reading the entire field,
but he did make mostly good decisions in Houston. Chansi Stuckey
is starting to show a nose for the endzone and is a tough little
receiver who gets the job done. Keller who had a fine rookie season
is one of the new breed TEs that cause matchup headaches for opposing
defenses as they are too big for CBs to cover and too fast for
LBs to keep up with. He has as much upside as any second tier
TE in the league.
As I implied last week Bill Belicheck has way of messing with
quarterbacks’ heads and I’m sure late Monday night
he was already scheming up ways to bring the former Trojan back
down to Earth. The Pats secondary was not very good last season,
as only the Arizona Cardinals allowed more passing TDs than the
27 allowed by New England, and they allowed two passing TDs in
Week 1. Trent Edwards moved the ball well by dinking and dunking
down the field, but never tested them deep. This week that may
change as Sanchez is not afraid to sling it. While the Pats were
able to get to Edwards, the Jets o-line is far superior and should
keep Sanchez upright for the most part. However, I do expect Sanchez
to take a step back this week against New England as Belicheck
just knows how to get things done.
Running Game Thoughts: Thomas Jones was held in check until two
second half 30 plus yard TD runs made his final stat line look
very nice (107 yards, 2 TDs). However in fairness to Jones, in
the first half the Texans really stacked the box looking to make
the rookie QB beat them. Once Sanchez started doing just that
the defense loosened up a little allowing Jones room to run. The
31 year old back looked quite youthful shaking and baking before
turning the corner and beating the secondary downfield on his
two longs runs. Meanwhile Leon Washington showed just how important
he is to the Jets offense as he kept the running game moving while
Jones struggled and was also a nice check down option for Sanchez.
The Jets were very effective running screen passes to Leon (and
others) while Sanchez gained confidence.
The Patriots played the run effectively in 2009 allowing 107.6
yards per games and only 8 TDs on the season. However, even with
a porous o-line backup RB Freddy Jackson was able to gain 57 yards
against a depleted defensive crew in New England. The unit has
now lost LB Jerrod Mayo as well further weakening it. The Pats
surely missed Richard Seymour’s presence on the D-line and
have lost solid veteran linebackers Teddy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel
this offseason. The loss of Mayo for 4-6 weeks just may be the
final nail in the coffin for this once proud defense.
Mark Sanchez: 195 yds passing, 1 TD, 2 Ints. / 20 yards rushing
Chansi Stuckey: 30 yds receiving
Jerricho Cotchery: 45 yds receiving, 1 TD
Dustin Keller: 85 yds receiving
Thomas Jones: 105 yds rushing, 1 TD / 5 yds receiving
Leon Washington: 40 yds rushing / 30 yds receiving
Final Score: Patriots 20 Jets
Marc Bulger/Donnie Avery/Laurent Robinson/Randy
Steven Jackson (vs. WAS)
Passing Game Thoughts: There wasn’t much to like about this
unit heading into 2008 and Week 1 did not change that perception
much. Marc Bulger was expectedly rusty after missing a good portion
of training camp and preseason with a finger injury. Facing a
banged up Seattle secondary Bulger only managed 191 yards passing
without hitting pay dirt. While he hasn’t been the same
QB since former coach Mike Martz made him a piñata (Martz
showed a genuine disdain for leaving in blockers at the expense
of sending players out in pass patterns), he is still capable
when protected. This season his protection should be better with
free agent Jason Brown at center and second overall pick Jason
Smith stepping in at right tackle. The wide-outs did give some
hope to fantasy owners as Atlanta castoff Laurent Robinson finally
lived up to his message board hype and grabbed five balls for
87 yards. Donnie Avery who like Bulger also missed a portion of
camp grabbed six balls for 46 yards. The fact that the Rams should
be playing from behind most weeks gives some value to the duo
and both have enough speed to get behind the secondary when teams
cheat up to contain RB Steven Jackson.
Washington’s pass defense finished 7th in passing yards
allowed (193.4 ypg) in 2008. In Week 1 however, Eli Manning was
able to complete 20 of 29 passes for 256 yards and a TD throwing
mostly to inexperienced WRs. Mario Manningham made DeAngelo Hall
look silly when he juked his way around him down the sideline
for a score when all Hall had to do was bump him out of bounds.
LaRon Landry’s aggressive play helped keep the Skins in
the game and the newly acquired Albert Haynesworth was effective
if not dominant. If the Redskins do not do a better job getting
to the passer than they did last season and in Week 1 this game
may not be the blowout many expect.
Running Game Thoughts: Steven Jackson is one of the more talented
RBs in the NFL today, but the knock against him has been his inability
to stay healthy. Well he’s healthy so far but disappointed
his fantasy owners last week as despite the offseason rhetoric
that he would be the centerpiece of this offense, he only touched
the ball 16 times (despite gaining nearly 4.2 ypc), and he did
not see the ball in the passing game. If the Rams have any hope
of protecting their still subpar defense and winning some games,
Jackson must see more touches.
Washington which was very quietly an extremely tough run defense
in 2007 (finishing 8th in yards allowed with 95.4 yards per game
and only allowing 12 rushing TDs), held a very good Giant rushing
attack in check last week. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined
for only 106 yards on the ground in Week 1. It seemed the Giants
game plan was to avoid running into Haynesworth so they spent
much of their time trying to spring Bradshaw outside. While Jackson
is a powerful runner, he does have the speed to get to the corner
so the Rams may look to go in that direction as well.
Marc Bulger: 240 yds passing, 2 TDs, 1 Int.
Donnie Avery: 90 yds receiving, 1 TD
Laurent Robinson: 75 yds receiving
Randy McMichael: 45 yds receiving
Steven Jackson: 95 yds rushing, 1 TD / 25 yds receiving, 1 TD
Jason Campbell/Santana Moss/Malcolm Kelly/Antwaan
Randle El/Chris Cooley
Clinton Portis (vs. StL)
Passing Game Thoughts: Jason Campbell drew the wrath of Jim Zorn
a couple of times last Sunday after turning over the ball over
with an interception and a fumble. He did show some signs of putting
things together however and gets to face a much softer defense
this week. He was able to find TE Chris Cooley in the endzone
for a TD late in the game to salvage his stat line, but the Skins
had difficulty moving the ball through much of the game. In fact
the Skins passing game was only able to attack the middle of the
field with Cooley and slot WR Antwaan Randle-El, despite the fact
that the Giants starting CB Aaron Ross missed the game. Santana
Moss pulled one of his disappearing acts catching only two balls
and only made his presence felt on the side of CB Corey Webster’s
helmet when the two got into a slap fight.
The Rams were poor against the pass last season giving up 217.2
ypg and 20 TDs through the air. After an aggressive start to 2008
where they forced Matt Hasselbeck into two interceptions they
regressed back to form and allowed Hasselbeck to gain 279 yards
and 3 TDs through the air, including 2 TDs to second year TE John
Carlson. Expect the Skins to exploit this weakness and use Chris
Cooley early and often.
Running Game Thoughts: Clinton Portis struggled last week after
gaining 34 yards on his very first carry, finishing with only
62 yards on the day. However the fact that Steve Spagnola was
the Giants DC last season and is now the Rams Head Coach is the
only connection between the two defenses that couldn’t be
more night and day otherwise. Let’s put it this way, Julius
Jones (yes that Julius Jones) gained 117 yards and scored a TD
The Rams allowed 154.7 ypg and 26 rushing TDs last season and
have done little to improve outside of new defensive schemes -
In fact DT Adam Carriker was placed on IR before the season hurting
the interior line. If you have Clinton Portis you couldn’t
ask for a better matchup.
Jason Campbell: 205 yds passing, 1 TD, 1 Int. / 20 yards rushing
Santana Moss: 55 yds receiving
Malcolm Kelly: 15 yds receiving
Antwaan Randle El: 60 yds receiving / 25 yds rushing, 1 TD
Chris Cooley: 65 yds receiving, 1 TD
Clinton Portis: 155 yds rushing, 2 TDs / 15 yds receiving
Redskins 34 Rams 21
Eli Manning/Dominek Hixon/Steve Smith/Mario
Brandon Jacobs/Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. DAL)
Passing Game Thoughts: Eli Manning (256 yds, 1TD/1 Int.), Steve
Smith and Mario Manningham temporarily put all the “Plaxico
Burress” talk to rest on Monday morning in New York. Eli
spread the ball around to seven different targets but relied heavily
on third year former Trojan Steve Smith who ended the day with
6 catches for 80 yards. Meanwhile former Wolverine Manningham
juked and tiptoed his way down the sideline for a 30 yard TD and
finished with 58 yards receiving. The only dark cloud on an otherwise
sunny passing day was when rookie WR Hakeem Nicks – who
was having a solid day – left the game with a sprained foot
that will keep him out of action for at least two weeks. TE Kevin
Boss should pick up some of that slack and could be a useful player
this week as the Tampa Bay TEs combined for 9 catches, 71 yards
and a TD against Dallas in Week 1.
The Dallas defense ranked 5th in passing yards allowed last season
(187.7 ypg) but did allow 19 TDs through the air. The loss of
safety Roy Williams could actually help the Cowboy pass defense,
as the big safety was always a liability in pass coverage. The
Giants strong o-line will face a bigger challenge than they did
in Week 1 when they line up against a Dallas defense in Week 2
that has amassed a league leading 59 sacks last year and features
Marcus Spears and DeMarcus Ware. With a crowd that may be well
over 100,000 fans in the new stadium and a fierce pass rush Eli
may be rattled into making a few mistakes that could be costly
in what should be a close contest.
Running Game Thoughts: Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined
for 106 yards rushing last week with Bradshaw gaining more yards
on more carries. This may have been due to the Giants offensive
game plan which was to avoid Albert Haynesworth in the middle
of the field and try to run to the outside more. However, Bradshaw
coming off a great preseason did look like the better back regardless,
and should be rostered in all but the shallowest of leagues. In
an NFC slugfest expect the Giants to try and wear down the Cowboy
defense while keeping the Cowboy offense on the sideline by running
both backs a great deal more than they did last week.
Dallas was an above average defense against the run last year
finishing 12th while allowing 106.6 ypg and 11 TDs. They did lose
a few key pieces to their run defense though in DL Greg Ellis
and S Roy Williams. Last week they allowed similar running backs
to the ones they’ll face this week – Cadillac Williams
and Derrick Ward to combine for 159 yards and two TDs. The Giants
line is slightly better than the TB line and neither Ward nor
Williams run with the power of Brandon Jacobs so it stands to
reason that the Giants rushing attack should have some success
Eli Manning: 215 yds passing, 1 TD, 2 Ints.
Steve Smith: 50 yds receiving
Dominek Hixon: 45 yds receiving
Mario Manningham: 35 yds receiving
Kevin Boss: 45 yds receiving, 1 TD
Brandon Jacobs: 85 yds rushing, 1 TD / 5 yds receiving
Ahmad Bradshaw: 75 yds rushing, 1 TD / 20 yds receiving
Tony Romo/Roy Williams/Patrick Crayton/Jason
Marion Barber III/Felix Jones (vs. NYG)
Passing Game Thoughts: The 2008 Cowboys offense started off 2009
just like they did in 2008 looking like a top unit in the league.
Tony Romo who had his best game as a pro – statistically
at least (353 yds and 3 TDs) – looked a lot more comfortable
spreading the ball around to his many weapons than having to keep
a certain WR (who’s initials rhyme with “B.O.”)
happy by force feeding him the ball. Romo has one of the quickest
releases in the league and the ability to leave the pocket to
make plays both of which make it extremely difficult for the opposition
to get and/or keep good coverage on the Cowboy receivers and which
may help neutralize the Giants fierce pass rush. TE Jason Witten
had a somewhat disappointing game but is one of the best TEs in
the league and should start putting up nice numbers soon. Fourth
year WR Austin Miles had a 42 yard TD reception showing why many
thought he was on the verge of stardom this offseason. Meanwhile,
the two starting and much maligned WRs - Roy Williams and Patrick
Crayton – each also scored long TDs of 66 and 80 yards respectively.
It didn’t take Osi Umenyiora long to show the impact that
his return will make to an already dangerous defense. Osi recorded
the “triple crown” for a DE when he sacked, stripped
and recovered Jason Campbell’s fumble – which he returned
for a TD. Chris Canty managed to play after missing most of the
offseason with injury and will face his old team in Week 2. The
Giants pass defense ranked 8th last season allowing 196.2 yards
per game and only 17 TDs and made Jason Campbell look bad last
week despite most of the secondary being banged up. It looks like
Aaron Ross will miss the game again this week and now S Kenny
Phillips is hurting as well which will make things tough for the
Giants against Romo this week.
Running Game Thoughts: Marion Barber was back to his impressive
self after an injury plagues second half of 2008. He rushed for
79 and a TD against the Bucs on his 15 carries. RB Felix Jones
disappointed many owners predicting his breakout, gaining only
22 yards and suffering a thigh bruise which has kept him out of
practice this week. Jones however has great vision and speed which
compliments the take no prisoners approach of Barber well. The
massive Cowboy offensive line should get some credit as well as
they could make any RB look good, however they will all be tested
by the Giants depth on the defensive line this week.
Clinton Portis struggled mightily last week against the Giants
finishing with only 62 yards on the day. New York ranked 7th in
the league in run defense in 2008 and only gave up 95.8 yards
per game and 14 rushing TDs, but as implied above this week they
face a tough test in Dallas. The battles in the trenches could
go a long way in deciding this one and I’m guessing the
Boys eventually take the path of least resistance and attack through
the air where the Giants will be more vulnerable this week.
Tony Romo: 295 yds passing 2 TDs, 1 Int. / 25 yds rushing
Roy Williams: 85 yds receiving, 1 TD
Patrick Crayton: 30 yds receiving
Jason Witten: 75 yds receiving, 1 TD
Marion Barber: 65 yds rushing, 1 TD / 15 yds receiving
Felix Jones: 20 yds rushing / 25 yds receiving
Prediction:: Cowboys 27 Giants 24
Peyton Manning/Reggie Wayne/Austin Collie/Pierre
Joseph Addai/Donald Brown (vs. MIA)
Passing Game Thoughts: It must be nice to trot Peyton Manning
out each and every season for your franchise. In fact the Colts
basically taunt the rest of the NFL about how nice it is by continuing
to employee Jim Sorgi as a backup QB. Manning has consistently
been an elite talent that carries his team into the playoffs each
year. Reggie Wayne now the undisputed No. 1 WR in Indy with the
“retirement” of Marvin Harrison, showed he can shoulder
the load by grabbing 10 Manning passes for 162 yards and a TD
last weekend. Marvin’s heir apparent, OSU alum Anthony Gonzalez,
went down with a knee injury last week so it will be up to a couple
of unheralded youngsters to keep defenses honest for the next
couple of weeks – rookie Austin Collis and second year player
Pierre Garcon. Collie is a nice route runner with sticky hands
who will likely work the slot, while Garcon is built like an Anquan
Boldin and has some real sleeper potential if he earns the trust
of Manning. Dallas Clark has already earned the trust of Peyton
Manning and his role should only increase with this latest news.
My guess is the well oiled machine keeps chugging along.
Miami’s pass defense left a lot to be desired last season
despite the rebirth of Joey Porter wreaking havoc on opposing
QBs. They finishes the year near the bottom of the league allowing
227.8 ypg and 18 TDs. Last week was no different as second year
phenom QB Matt Ryan tore them up for 229 yards and 2 TDs in a
route by the Falcons.
Running Game Thoughts: Joseph Addai did not go quietly last week
after being left for dead by many fantasy owners who were enamored
by the shiny new toy in the backfield, Donald Brown. Addai outgained
Brown 42 yards to 33 yards on the ground (albeit on 6 more carries)
and scored a rushing TD. This situation may eventually cause headaches
for fantasy owners as both backs are capable of carrying the load
and it may come down to the proverbial “hot hand”.
This week could be tough sledding for both though against a strong
Miami run defense, and even with the Gonzalez injury, I expect
the Colts to attack Miami through the air.
Miami’s run defense was stout last season (ranked No. 9
in yards allowed) and in Week 1 where they held Michael Turner
to only 65 yards rushing. NT Jason Ferguson eats up space allowing
Channing Crowder, Joey Porter and Akin Ayodele to eat up ball
carriers. With the Colts line starting to get banged up once again
expect the Colts run game to be mostly ineffective in the Miami
Peyton Manning: 310 yds, 3 TDs
Reggie Wayne: 120 yds receiving, 1 TD
Pierre Garcon: 60 yds receiving, 1 TD
Austin Collie: 40 yds receiving
Dallas Clark: 65 yds receiving, 1 TD
Joseph Addai: 40 yds rushing / 20 yds receiving
Donald Brown: 35 yards rushing
Chad Pennington/Ted Ginn Jr./Greg Camarillo/Davone
Ronnie Brown / Ricky Williams (at IND)
Passing Game Thoughts: Chad Pennington isn’t a gunslinger.
He gets by on smarts and accuracy. Those traits may win NFL games,
but generally not fantasy games. While his lack of arm strength
is somewhat over-rated on fantasy message boards (as it doesn’t
take a rocket arm to get the ball downfield, and his deep ball
accuracy is among the best in the league), his propensity to dink
and dunk has hurt Ted Ginn’s chances of being a fantasy
stud (although I have my doubts that any QB would help accomplish
that). Instead possession WRs like Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess
have become useful point per reception leagues flex players with
Pennington behind center. Anthony Fasano scored 7 TDs last season
and is the only true redzone option in Miami. He may not be the
most consistent fantasy TE, but should be a good bye week filler
with chance to add 6 points on any given week.
The Colts allowed only 6 TDs through the air last season and did
not allow Jacksonville a passing TD last week. It should be interesting
to see if the if the massive Dolphins o-line can deal with the
smaller quicker DEs, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, of the
Colts. Expect Chad to see some pressure at times during the night,
but with his short quick passes it shouldn’t be that much
of an issue. I know that no one reading this is expecting Chad
Pennington to light it up on Monday Night, but if you are forced
to start him, hope that he some how manages to find the endzone
at least once because, its going to be quiet night for Chadwick
and the ‘Phins passing game.
Running Game Thoughts: Everyone touting Ronnie Brown as a bounce
back player in 2009, after a down 2008 while still recovering
from his ACL surgery had to be a little surprised to see him outplayed
by the ancient Rastafarian. It seems Brown (43 yards on 10 carries)
may still be splitting time with Ricky Williams (39 yards on 7
carries), however the Dolphins being behind big most of the game
limited both RB’s touches. Nevertheless the coaching staff
seems to really like Ricky Williams and it may be tough for Brown
to push Ricky out of the picture altogether, so perhaps expectations
should be tempered a little. Ideally the Dolphins would like to
use their talented o-line to overmatch the smallish Colt defenders
and run the ball 30+ times in this contest (which also keeps Peyton
Manning on the sideline), and without Bob Sanders in the line-up
they just may be able to do that.
The Colts are a Jekyll and Hyde run defense depending on whether
or not Sanders is healthy. When he is on the field they are tough
to run on. When’ he’s not, not so much. Unfortunately
for the Colts, Sanders has had issues staying healthy and once
again he is out of action.
Chad Pennington: 190 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int.
Ted Ginn Jr.: 35 yds rec.
Greg Camarillo: 25 yds rec.
Davone Bess: 55 yds rec.
Anthony Fasano: 20 yds rec., 1 TD
Ronnie Brown: 80 yds rushing, 1 TD / 20 yds rec.
Ricky Williams: 40 yds rushing
Prediction:: Colts 30 Dolphins 17
Drew Brees/Marques Colston/Lance Moore/Devery
Mike Bell/Reggie Bush (vs. PHI)
Passing Game Thoughts: That Drew Brees cat is pretty good, eh?
I’ll assume that no one is benching Drew Brees coming off
a 6 TD performance no matter what the match-up shows, but let’s
all realize that the Lions only appear once on the Saints schedule.
Brees is virtually match-up proof, as he is smart, accurate, has
a well equipped arm and has a plethora of weapons, the likes of
which has not been seen since the US/Soviet Cold War. I could
probably list a few more WRs for the Saints above and in the projections
below, but Mike isn’t paying me by the word. Shockey shocked
the fantasy world last week by retuning from a disappointing 2008
marred by injury in a big way – 2 TDs. Marques Colston caught
a TD, but he and Lance Moore likely disappointed their fantasy
owners as Brees’ ability to spread the wealth is what makes
him so good. And spreading it out is just what he did last week
(tossing TDs to Devery Henderson, Robert Meacham and Heath Evans
as well). To further illustrate this point, Brees threw for over
5,000 yards last season and the Saints did not have one 1,000
yards receiver. Amazing stuff there.
The Eagles and their famous blitz packages are probably one of
the few teams in the league that can slow down the high flying
Saints. Jake Delhomme threw four picks against this unit last
week leading the way to a laugher by the Birds. They ranked third
in the NFL in passing yards allowed last season and sacked opposing
QBs 48 times. Don’t be shocked when the Saints don’t
come close to last week’s aerial show.
Running Game Thoughts: Offseason hype-machine Pierre Thomas missed
Week 1 and may have “earned” himself a lesser role
as “pre-season MVP” Mike Bell racked up 146 yards
in his absence and earned the praise of HC Sean Payton. The talk
is that Bell and Thomas will now share carries going forward,
but Bell may earn a larger share this week if Thomas is not 100%.
The Eagle defense was ranked 4th in the league in rushing yards
allowed last season (92.3 ypg) and only gave up 7 TDs on the ground.
In Week 1 they nullified the vaunted Carolina rushing attack,
however it must be noted that Delhomme’s 5 turnovers caused
the game to get out of hand quickly which limited the Panthers
rushing attempts. The Saints have never thought of themselves
as a smash mouth type of team, and are not likely to challenge
the tough Eagle defense on the ground – however Payton may
try and soften them up a little with the hard charging Bell.
Drew Brees: 285 yds passing 2 TDs, 1 Int.
Marques Colston: 65 yds receiving, 1 TD
Lance Moore: 40 yds receiving
Devery Henderson: 60 yds receiving
Jeremy Shockey: 35 yds receiving, 1 TD
Reggie Bush: 20 yds rushing / 30 yds receiving
Mike Bell: 60 yds rushing, 1 TD
Donovan McNabb/Kevin Curtis/DeSean Jackson/Brent
Brian Westbrook (vs. NO)
Passing Game Thoughts: Will he or won’t he? If not, who
will? Those are the questions on fantasy football player’s
minds this week concerning this matchup. Donovan McNabb broke
a rib last week and it’s unknown whether or not he’ll
be able to play in Week 2. If he doesn’t third year QB Kevin
Kolb should get the start, but the Eagles didn’t exactly
send him a vote of confidence when they rushed out to sign former
Eagle Jeff Garcia. If Garcia plays (and isn’t too rusty)
the offense shouldn’t skip a beat. Kolb on the other hand
is a virtual unknown in that he hasn’t looked sharp thus
far in his career but was talented enough to be the Eagles first
pick in the draft (in the 2nd Round) in 2007. DeSean Jackson is
pure dynamite with the ball in his hands, but sometimes get’s
lost in the Eagles spread it out attack and hasn’t yet become
a sharp route runner. Kevin Curtis is always capable of a big
game but also disappears at times. Reggie Brown survived a roster
cut necessitated by Garcia’s signing (Hank Baskett was let
go instead) but hasn’t done much in years. TE Brent Celek
continued where he left off last postseason catching a TD pass
in Week 1 and should develop into a low end TE1 for fantasy purposes,
as he’s a big sure handed target that gets open –
and is a good redzone presence.
The New Orleans defense should be improved a little over last
season, but still gave up 27 points to a bad team lead by a rookie
QB in Week 1. They allowed 221.7 passing ypg last season and 21
passing TDs so they can be quite vulnerable through the air. The
league has announced that they will not enforce DEs Charles Grant
and Will Smith’s suspensions for as long as the Williams
Wall appeal is in the legal system due to the fact that they were
suspended for taking the same diuretic as the Williamses –
so if McNabb does play there is always the risk of a quick exit
if he takes a hard shot. I am projecting this game as if he will
play, but check in at FFToday on Sunday morning to get the real
Running Game Thoughts: Brian Westbrook played better than expected
in Week 1 after missing most of pre-season recovering from an
ankle surgery (he also had knee surgery this offseason). In the
past when healthy he was the most dynamic back in the league but
enters this season at 30 years of age and coming off an inconsistent
2008. Westbrook surprisingly wasn’t pulled much at the goal-line
last season which sat well with his fantasy owners. With his current
backup (LeSean McCoy) being even slighter of build than he is,
that may be the case this season as well, at least until FB Leonard
Weaver gets healthy.
The Saints weren’t all that much better against the run
last season (117.8 ypg allowed) than they were against the pass,
and didn’t do much to help their chances this year besides
hiring Greg Williams as the new DC. Last week the Lions didn’t
get a chance to establish a running game after falling behind
early so we have yet to see if Williams’ schemes will make
any difference this year. Westbrook should be able to help pick
up any slack in the passing game against this defense.
Donovan McNabb: 245 yds passing 2 TDs, 1 Int. / 15 yards rushing
Kevin Curtis: 70 yds receiving, 1 TD
DeSean Jackson: 70 yds receiving
Brent Celek: 35 yds receiving, 1 TD
Brian Westbrook: 85 yds rushing, 1 TD / 45 yds receiving
Prediction:: Eagles 27 Saints 24
Jake Delhomme / DeAngelo Williams / Jonathan
Steve Smith / Muhsin Muhammad (vs. Atlanta)
Passing Game Thoughts: Jake Delhomme’s performance in the
season opener at home proved to be a disaster. The Eagles defense
swarmed the Carolina quarterback and forced him into throwing
four interceptions. He also lost a fumble near his own end zone
which the Eagles recovered for a touchdown. After being picked
for the fourth time late in the third quarter, head coach John
Fox had seen enough from his starting QB and benched him in favor
of back-up Josh McCown. Delhomme finished the afternoon completing
just 7 of his 17 attempts for 73 yards and zero touchdowns.
Despite Delhomme’s troubles last week he remains the Panthers
starter heading into the second game of the season. Against Atlanta,
Carolina’s offensive line will have to provide much better
pass protection than they had versus Philadelphia in order for
Delhomme to post meaningful stats. The Panthers will also need
to establish their ground game, something they failed to do against
the Eagles, as a means of setting up their air attack.
Running Game Thoughts: If DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart
can’t combine for more than the 72 yards they had on 25
carries (2.9 ypc) last week against Philadelphia, it will be another
long day for the Carolina offense. Their week two opponent however,
the Atlanta Falcons, allowed the Miami Dolphins duo of Ronnie
Brown and Ricky Williams to average a robust 4.8 yards per carry
against them in the opener as the pair rushed for 82 yards on
With that in mind, and in knowing the Panthers offense will only
go as far as their rushing attack can take them, expect to see
a heavy dose of both Williams and Stewart in this contest. If
Carolina ran the ball 25 times in a game they eventually lost
38-10, you can rest assured they will push the 30+ carry mark
in closer contests, which this week’s outing should be.
You can also expect them to do so with more success as long as
the passing game provides a little support.
Jake Delhomme – 180 yards passing / 0 TDs
DeAngelo Williams – 85 yards rushing / 15 yards receiving
/ 1 TD
Jonathan Stewart – 35 yards rushing / 1 TD
Steve Smith – 90 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Muhsin Muhammad – 45 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Matt Ryan / Michael Turner / Jerious Norwood
Roddy White / Michael Jenkins / Tony Gonzalez (vs. Carolina)
Passing Game Thoughts: Matt
Ryan’s performance in the opener was a sign of his continued
progression from last year. Though only in his second season,
the 2008 first round pick out of Boston College already has the
poise of an established veteran within the league.
After a highly regarded rookie campaign, the Falcons wasted no
time in adding to Ryan’s arsenal of weapons this offseason
by acquiring future Hall of Famer, Tony Gonzalez, at the tight
end position. Ryan made quick use of this new wrinkle in the Falcons
offense as he connected with Gonzalez 5 times, for 73 yards and
a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins last week. Ryan also spread
the ball amongst receivers Roddy White (5 catches, 42 yards) and
Michael Jenkins (4 catches, 41 yards), while making use of Jerious
Norwood out of the backfield (5 catches, 49 yards) as he compiled
229 yards through the air with 2 touchdown passes on the day.
As the Falcons prepare to host the Panthers this Sunday one should
expect another solid outing from the second-year signal caller.
In terms of fantasy value however, Ryan may leave his owners wanting
a little more this week dependant upon the number of touchdown
passes he throws.
Running Game Thoughts: The Dolphins may not have been able to
contain Matt Ryan, but they did do a good job of bottling up running
back Michael Turner. Turner carried the ball 22 times in Miami,
but he managed only 65 yards on the ground with his attempts.
And while Jerious Norwood made himself a factor in the passing
game, he never got the opportunity to do much damage on the ground
as he rushed for 7 yards on his 2 carries.
Things should go better for the Falcons rushing attack this week,
however. Their opponent allowed the Eagles tandem of Brian Westbrook
and LeSean McCoy to total 110 yards on 22 carries – an average
of 5.0 yards per attempt. With the straight ahead rushing style
of Michael Turner complimented by Norwood’s breakaway speed,
look for the Falcons ground game to crack the century mark against
the Panthers while punching it into the end zone once or twice.
Matt Ryan – 215 yards passing / 1 TD
Michael Turner – 100 yards rushing / 2 TDs
Jerious Norwood – 30 yards rushing / 30 yards receiving
/ 0 TDs
Roddy White – 80 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Michael Jenkins – 40 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Tony Gonzalez – 60 yards receiving / 1 TD
Prediction:: Atlanta 27, Carolina 17
Matt Schaub / Steve Slaton / Chris Brown
Andre Johnson / Kevin Walter / Owen Daniels (vs. Tennessee)
Passing Game Thoughts: Nothing went right for the Houston Texans
offense during their 2009 debut. In the passing game, Matt Schaub
was sacked twice and knocked to the ground eight more times as
the Jets defense put on an impressive display. As a result, Schaub
completed just 18 of his 33 attempts for a meager 166 yards, with
no touchdowns, and 1 interception. With such little production
from the quarterback position, Houston’s targets in the
passing game failed to produce any meaningful stats. Tight end,
Owen Daniels, was the most productive Texan on offense with his
4 receptions for 44 yards.
For as poorly as the Texans offense performed last week though,
there is some reason to believe they’ll rebound with a solid
outing against the Titans this Sunday in Tennessee.
While the Titans defense is regularly regarded as one of the
better units in the NFL, they failed to live up to that standard
last Thursday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL’s
season opener. Although they stamped out Willie Parker in the
rushing game, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was allowed to throw
for 363 yards while completing 76.7% of his attempts (33 of 43).
While relying on a 4-man rush for much of the game, Tennessee
failed to pressure Roethlisberger on a regular basis, leaving
one to wonder if it was a direct result of Albert Haynesworth’s
departure in the offseason.
If the Titans fail again to pressure the quarterback, Matt Schaub
and the Texans receivers will produce some good statistics.
Running Game Thoughts: If Steve Slaton’s to have a big
day on the ground, it will only come as a direct result of the
Texans opening things up with their air attack. Either that or
he’ll have to break off a long run at some point in the
game to shake up the Titan defenders. For the most part though,
this isn’t an attractive match-up for the second-year back
out of West Virginia.
As was mentioned earlier, for all the troubles the Titans defense
had in defending the pass last week, they did a stellar job against
the run. Pittsburgh running backs Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall,
and Mewelde Moore combined for just 33 yards on 22 carries. When
we combine that with Slaton’s 9 carry, 17 yard output against
the Jets in week one, there is little reason to be enthused about
his prospects this Sunday.
Matt Schaub – 260 yards passing / 1 TD
Steve Slaton – 55 yards rushing / 40 yards receiving / 0
Chris Brown – 10 yards rushing / 1 TD
Andre Johnson – 100 yards receiving / 1 TD
Kevin Walter – 40 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Owen Daniels – 60 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Kerry Collins / Chris Johnson / LenDale White
Justin Gage / Nate Washington / Kenny Britt / Bo Scaife (vs. Houston)
Passing Game Thoughts: Kerry Collins has had some relevant outings
with the Titans since taking over as their starting quarterback
last season, but it’s rare that Tennessee will ask him to
do anymore passing than is necessary for the team to win the game.
He posted notable statistics against the Steelers (244 yards passing,
1 touchdown) as the NFL kicked off its season, but part of that
was due to the struggles of Chris Johnson and LenDale White on
the ground. Had White and Johnson managed better than the 3.7
yards per carry they combined for on the day, it’s likely
Collins production would have been significantly reduced.
Against the Texans defense, a unit that just allowed 107 yards
on the ground to Thomas Jones and yielded 60 more to Leon Washington,
expect the Titans to run early and often with their duo of backs.
As a result, Collins’ production will be limited, although
one of his receivers could end up with stats worthy of a number
three receiver in fantasy leagues. It should also be noted that
tight ends Bo Scaife and Jared Cook have injuries that may prevent
them from playing.
Running Game Thoughts: Titans running backs Chris Johnson and
LenDale White should be frothing at the mouth for the chance to
run wild against the Texans defense this week. Not only did Jones
and Washington total 167 yards on 35 carries between the two of
them versus Houston last Sunday, they also allowed Jones to punch
it into the end zone twice. These numbers coincide with a Texans
unit that ranked 23rd in the league last year against the run
(allowed 122.6 rushing yards per game) and allowed 18 scores via
the ground in 2008.
As an added incentive, the two backs had an extra three days
rest as a result of playing in the NFL’s Thursday night
opener. Needless to say, both White and Johnson can be relied
upon to produce this Sunday.
Kerry Collins – 175 yards passing / 1 TD
Chris Johnson – 110 yards rushing / 20 yards receiving /
LenDale White – 60 yards rushing / 2 TDs
Justin Gage – 70 yards receiving / 1 TD
Nate Washington – 30 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Kenny Britt – 40 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Bo Scaife – 15 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Prediction:: Tennessee 34, Houston 14
Kurt Warner / Tim Hightower / Chris Wells
Larry Fitzgerald / Anquan Boldin / Steve Breaston (vs. Jacksonville)
Passing Game Thoughts: Kurt Warner got off to a slow start last
week, but he managed to salvage the rough outing by finishing
with 288 yards passing and 1 touchdown. The two interceptions
he threw in the game, however, may have offset that production
in leagues that penalize for turnovers. It also couldn’t
have helped that Steve Breaston missed the game with an injured
knee while Anquan Boldin played at less than 100% do to troubles
with his right hamstring. For this weeks contest against the Jaguars,
both receivers are expected to play, but the lingering injuries
could limit their productivity.
All that said, Warner should have a fairly productive outing
against the Jaguars this week. Peyton Manning just got done carving
the Jacksonville unit up for 301 yards passing and a touchdown,
and Warner should prove capable of doing nearly the same. He’s
going to have to considering the Cardinals running back tandem
of Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells did little to prove they can
provide Arizona with the meaningful ground attack they have lacked
for the past few years.
Running Game Thoughts: Although Joseph Addai found his way into
the end zone last week against the Jaguars, Jacksonville did an
excellent job of keeping the Colts running game in check. Addai
carried 17 times in all for just 42 yards (2.5 ypc) while rookie
Donald Brown gained 33 yards on his 11 carries (3.3 ypc). With
that in mind, and in knowing the Cardinals rushing attack has
been amongst the worst in the league for a number of years now,
there is no reason to expect much on the ground in this game from
either Wells or Hightower.
Kurt Warner – 315 yards passing / 2 TDs
Tim Hightower – 30 yards rushing / 45 yards receiving /
Chris Wells – 30 yards rushing / 0 TDs
Larry Fitzgerald – 130 yards receiving / 2 TDs
Anquan Boldin – 40 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Steve Breaston – 80 yards receiving / 0 TDs
David Garrard / Maurice Jones-Drew
Torry Holt / Troy Williamson / Marcedes Lewis (vs. Arizona)
OPP FF Points Allowed vs. QBs: -19.7%
OPP FF Points Allowed vs. RBs: -9.7%
OPP FF Points Allowed vs. WRs: -26.0%
OPP FF Points Allowed vs. TEs: -26.9%
Passing Game Thoughts: David Garrard’s 2009 campaign got
off to a poor start last week against the Colts. He threw the
ball 28 times, completing just 50% of those attempts, while totaling
only 122 yards through the air. He should have a better outing
this week against the Cardinals, but it’s hard to recommend
him as a starter until we see him produce better than he had in
If the Cardinals passing arsenal allows them to establish a big
lead early in the game, it may force the Jaguars to abandon their
run first approach. Jacksonville’s defensive unit did hold
the Indianapolis Colts to just 14 points last Sunday however,
and with Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston attempting to play through
injuries, the Jaguars might be able to limit the points Arizona
puts up against them as well. If that’s the case, then Garrard
isn’t likely to throw for many yards.
Running Game Thoughts: The Cardinals did an excellent job of
limiting Frank Gore to 30 yards on 22 carries last week, but it’s
doubtful they’ll achieve that level of success against Maurice
Jones-Drew. While Garrard struggled to get anything going through
the air against the Colts, Jones-Drew kept the Jaguars in the
game as he carried 21 times for 97 yards and 1 touchdown. As the
sole playmaker in Jacksonville’s offense following the offseason
departure of Fred Taylor, it’s safe to expect another 20
carries from Jones-Drew this week as he approaches the century
mark on the ground.
Should the Cardinals defense place a stranglehold on Maurice
Jones-Drew, maybe then we can discuss them as one of the better
run stopping units in the league. As of now, a one game sampling
is far from being enough to make that assumption.
David Garrard – 190 yards passing / 20 yards rushing / 1
Maurice Jones-Drew – 85 yards rushing / 40 yards receiving
/ 2 TDs
Torry Holt – 60 yards receiving / 1 TD
Troy Williamson – 40 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Marcedes Lewis – 30 yards receiving / 0 TDs
Prediction:: Jacksonville 24, Arizona 20
Brett Favre / Adrian Peterson / Chester
Bernard Berrian / Percy Harvin / Visanthe Shiancoe (vs. Detroit)
Passing Game Thoughts: In a week 1 game against the Cleveland
Browns that was dominated by the running game, Brett Favre’s
role in the win was minimal at best. He attempted only 21 passes,
and as a result, his tendency to turn the ball over was kept out
of the equation. Games in which he throws only 21 times will be
more the rule this season than the exception, and that trend should
continue this week against a bruised and bewildered Lions team.
This game will be put on the shoulders once again of Adrian Peterson,
leaving the graying QB to rest his aging arm at least another
If Favre doesn’t throw for a score early in the game, chances
are he won’t at all. This should be a conservative game
plan for the Vikings, even though they should get a healthy Bernard
Berrian back from limited action last week. The versatile rookie
Percy Harvin could score his second TD in as many games. Head
coach Brad Childress will utilize Harvin on end-arounds, wide
receiver screens and any other creative way he can dream up. TE
Visanthe Shiancoe may be the team’s leading receiver in
this contest. Although the Lions upgraded their dreaded LB corps
from last year, none of them are capable of keeping up with the
fleet-footed TE. A conservative game plan is in order to be sure,
but if you’re looking to take a chance on a couple of week
2 sleepers, put Harvin and Shiancoe in your line-up.
Running Game Thoughts: I had to chuckle during the fantasy draft
season when a so-called “expert” actually had the
audacity to proclaim Matt Forte fantasy’s top RB. Another
hailed Michael Turner as such. In a word: laughable. Adrian Peterson
should have put all that nonsense to rest last week, as he torched
the Cleveland Browns for 180 yards and 3 scores, including one
ridiculously silly 64 yarder. This guy is in a league by himself.
And the scary part is he could easily duplicate those numbers
this week. After all, this is a defense that gave up 143 yards
to Mike Bell last week.
The biggest weakness on a Lions team that’s full of them
is their defensive line. The greatest strength of the Vikings—besides
their RB—is the offensive line. That’s a great combination
for Peterson owners. You should pencil in 150 yards and at least
2 scores for AP. The Vikings’ running game will toy with
Detroit all game long. There was even a thread on this Web site’s
fantasy forum earlier this week where an owner planned to start
both Peterson and Chester Taylor. While on the surface that may
seem a bit daring, it’s not altogether that far-fetched
a thought. Taylor himself could get a score late in garbage time.
Brett Favre – 165 yards / 1 TD
Adrian Peterson – 165 yards / 2 TDs
Chester Taylor – 45 yards / 1 TD
Percy Harvin – 60 yards rec / 30 yards rushing
Bernard Berrian – 40 yards rec
Visanthe Shiancoe – 55 yards rec / 1 TD
Matt Stafford / Kevin Smith
Calvin Johnson / Bryant Johnson / Casey Fitzsimmons (vs. Minnesota)
Passing Game Thoughts: There were more than a few people on this
Web site that downgraded Calvin Johnson after rookie Matt Stafford
was given the reigns to the offense. The rook’s performance
last week certainly gave credence to that thinking. Stafford had
one or two nice throws, but he struggled mightily through his
first NFL game. His missteps weren’t a huge surprise, especially
considering the aggressive game plan of Saints’ defensive
coordinator Gregg Williams. The young fella was under siege all
day, and that will certainly happen again this week and into the
Besides a 64 yard catch-and-run by Johnson last week, the aerial
game was nonexistent. The Lions almost assuredly will struggle
running the football against Minnesota, meaning Stafford, Johnson
and the rest will have to bail out the offense. Detroit’s
offensive line will have to play better. They surrendered only
one sack last week, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story.
A defender was in Stafford’s face almost every time he dropped
back. With one of the league’s best defensive fronts paying
a visit to Ford Field on Sunday, that doesn’t bode well
for the prospects of a productive outing through the air for Detroit.
Look for a repeat performance by Stafford and crew this week.
Obviously, Johnson is a must-start each week regardless of the
opponent. But don’t be shocked or disappointed if he gives
you another 3-catch gem.
Running Game Thoughts: Kevin Smith had no running room against
the Saints. His reward for such a below-average game: a battle
against a stout run defense. Smith scored on a short run last
week, but he did the most damage as a pass catcher. In a preview
of what should be a trend all year (the Lions behind early and
having to throw the ball to get back in the game), Smith got a
boatload of receptions out of the backfield. His seven receptions
led the team. Look for that to be the case this week too. Minnesota
boasts one of the toughest front sevens in the NFL, and Smith’s
touches will be tougher to come by. But whether on a short run
for a score, or a half-dozen receptions, Smith will get production
Perhaps what’s lost most in Smith’s potential as
a solid RB2 in fantasy football is his vice grip grasp of all
the “money carries” on his team. There’s no
threat of a RBBC here. FB Jerome Felton may steal a TD or two
during the season, as he’s been used as a short yardage
running both in the preseason and against the Saints. But for
the most part, Smith is the bell cow in Motown. That’s great
news for Smith owners. Smith vowed early this week that he will
play much better against the Vikings than he did against New Orleans.
Whether that translates into 40 yards on the ground vs. the 20
from last week remains to be seen. One thing is certain: Smith
is flirting with the “must start” label. He will put
up numbers some kind of way. Put him and keep him in your line-up.
Matthew Stafford – 190 yards / 1 TD / 2 INTs
Kevin Smith – 45 yards / 1 TD / 50 yards rec
Calvin Johnson – 80 yards rec / 1 TD
Bryant Johnson – 45 yards rec
Casey Fitzsimmons – 10 yards rec
Prediction:: Minnesota 31, Detroit 20
Carson Palmer / Cedric Benson
Chad Ochocinco / Laveranues Coles / Andre Caldwell / Daniel Coats
(vs. Green Bay)
Passing Game Thoughts: The last five games in which Carson Palmer
has played (last week’s season opener and the first four
games of last year), he has thrown for only 3 TDs and 6 INTs.
What once was a fantasy QB on the fast track to a perennial top
five finish has now morphed into a #2 QB. Last week’s game
against Denver was underwhelming for Palmer, as he threw no TDs
but tossed a couple of picks. Green Bay’s secondary is as
good as Denver’s—if not better—so he could be
in for another tough outing. They forced Jay Cutler into four
turnovers last week. The Packers’ Atari Bigby will be out,
so for Palmer owners, hope that that will help.
Perhaps the biggest result from last week’s game was the
disappearing act of Laveranues Coles. The free agent pick-up had
a grand total of one reception for 11 yards. Meanwhile, second
year WR Andre Caldwell outperformed Coles, finishing with 6 catches
for 54 yards. Palmer needs Coles to fill the void left by the
departed TJ Houshmandzadeh for the offense to reach its potential.
Coles is going to have a difficult time with this week’s
opponent, however. Going up against the CB duo of Charles Woodson
and Al Harris will be a tall order. Their battle with Chad Ochocinco
will draw the most attention, but he will get his.
Running Game Thoughts: Cedric Benson was one of my sleepers heading
into this season, and he didn’t disappoint in week 1. Benson
was selected in most fantasy drafts as a RB3, and his 76 yards
and one TD was excellent production from that position. Benson’s
success is crucial to the rest of Cincy’s offense against
Green Bay. His powerful, between-the-tackles running style acts
as a good complement to the Bengals’ passing attack. The
Packers’ new 3-4 defensive scheme created four sacks against
Cutler last week, so Benson’s role in keeping the pass rush
at bay is key.
The Bengals will have their hands full on the ground, however.
Green Bay held Matt Forte to 55 yards on 25 carries, so they’ve
adapted quite well to new defensive coordinator Dom Caper’s
new, more aggressive philosophy. Benson has zero competition in
the backfield, meaning whatever kind of production the Bengals
get on the ground will come courtesy of Benson. For those in smaller
leagues, perhaps it’s a bit too early to put Benson in your
line-up, unless of course injuries dictate such a decision. But
those playing in larger leagues, starting Benson this week as
a RB2 is advisable. Keep your yardage totals conservative, but
expecting a short TD run is not out of the realm of possibility.
Carson Palmer – 185 yards / 1 TD / 1 INT
Cedric Benson – 60 yards / 1 TD
Chad Ochocinco – 85 yards rec / 1 TD
Andre Caldwell – 45 yards rec
Laveranues Coles – 35 yards rec
Aaron Rodgers / Ryan Grant
Greg Jennings / Donald Driver / Jordy Nelson / Donald Lee (vs.
Passing Game Thoughts: There are some who tout the Greg Jennings-Donald
Driver receiving tandem as the league’s best. I think there’s
a duo in Arizona that may have a little to say about that. But
suffice it to say, Jennings and Driver are a dangerous twosome.
Driver had a nondescript season debut last week while Jennings
ripped it up. The most intriguing match-up in this game will be
these two against the young and emerging CBs of Cincinnati in
Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall. This defensive tandem held Brandon
Marshall and Eddie Royal to a combined 6 catches for 45 yards
last week. While the Marshall-Royal combo is a notch below Jennings-Driver,
it fully illustrates the lock-down ability of Cincy’s secondary
Aaron Rodgers was many experts’ preseason league MVP. While
he didn’t play a horrible game last week, it wasn’t
one that would lead his resume tape. Other than the 50 yard bomb
to Jennings, his longest completion was 14 yards. He was off on
several passes and often looked like Chicago’s defense had
him flustered. Cincy may not have the defensive reputation as
Chicago, but they can make things rough on Rodgers. I think Green
Bay utilizes more deep throws this game, but the O-line must give
him time to do so. Both Jennings and Driver should have receptions
of more than 20 yards in this one, with Donald Lee working the
underneath routes. Rodgers will bounce back in this game with
a performance worthy of the preseason hype he received.
Running Game Thoughts: Cincinnati did a wonderful job keeping
the Denver Bronco running game under wraps. Allowing only 75 yards
on the ground, the Bengals made QB Kyle Orton be the catalyst
to Denver’s offensive success. Ryan Grant seemed to struggle
at times last week against Chicago, but he made up for his lack
of yards with a short TD. I think this week Ryan will continue
to find running tough to come by. The underrated LB crew of veteran
Dhani Jones, Keith Rivers and rookie Rey Maualuga will fill the
gaps and cut off running lanes for Grant. These athletic ‘backers
will also be in Grant’s hip pocket on short dump-offs as
Back-up RB Brandon Jackson continues to nurse an injury, leaving
DeShawn Wynn to spell Grant. There was a huge drop-off when that
occurred last week, leaving Grant in the game perhaps more than
the team would have liked. Look for Grant to have a similar performance
to last week. He’s never been much of a receiving threat,
so don’t expect much there. A short TD run is possible.
Aaron Rodgers – 245 yards / 2 TDs
Ryan Grant – 70 yards / 1 TD
Greg Jennings – 115 yards rec
Donald Driver – 65 yards rec / 1 TD
Jordy Nelson – 35 yards rec
Donald Lee – 30 yards rec / 1 TD
Prediction:: Green Bay 24, Cincinnati 20
Ben Roethlisberger / Willie Parker / Mewelde
Santonio Holmes / Hines Ward / Heath Miller (vs. Chicago)
Passing Game Thoughts: The low score of last week’s game
against Tennessee didn’t do justice to how big a part the
passing game played. Ben Roethlisberger rebounded nicely after
a slow start, finishing with 363 yards passing. The running game
struggled, but perhaps that was a blessing in disguise for the
defending champs. Roethlisberger is the best offensive player
on the team and putting the ball in his hands and asking him to
do the heavy lifting is not a bad idea. His trademark never-give-up-on-a-play
attitude in the pocket is the calling card for Pittsburgh’s
aerial assault, which, it seems, is becoming a bigger part of
their offensive philosophy.
If that is the case, the Steelers had better come up with a way
to block DE Adewale Ogunleye. His 2 sacks last week set the tone
defensively against Green Bay. WR Santonio Holmes appears to have
picked up where he left off last year. He’s slowly becoming
Pittsburgh’s #1 option, and the Tennessee game is the tip
of the iceberg. Look for Holmes’ battle with Nathan Vasher
to be a good one all afternoon. Hines Ward will continue to work
the short to intermediate routes with perfection, so he’s
a good play as well. So is TE Heath Miller.
Running Game Thoughts: I’m not sure if it was the stubborn
defense of the Titans or the complete ineptness of the Steelers,
but Pittsburgh’s running game was atrocious last week. Running
for 30 yards as a team on 25 carries has not been the Steeler
way. Willie Parker seems a bit off to me, and second year RB Rashard
Mendenhall was a complete non-factor against the Titans. Mewelde
Moore got the bulk of the action behind Parker. Look for Pittsburgh
to try to establish the ground game, but when/if things go south,
don’t be surprised if they dump it altogether and place
the game in Big Ben’s hands.
Chicago’s run defense now has a huge gap in it with the
season-long injury to LB Brian Urlacher. Pittsburgh may attempt
to test out the run-stopping ability of a Bears defense that some
felt was losing some of its luster even before Urlacher’s
injury. This could be a game where Parker can do some damage between
the tackles. That’s not his forte, but it could prove a
viable option in attacking the now-vulnerable Chicago run defense.
Moore should continue getting the 3rd down action, while Mendenhall’s
role apparently is still being defined.
Ben Roethlisberger – 235 yards / 1 TD / 1 INT
Willie Parker – 65 yards / 1 TD
Mewelde Moore – 20 yards rushing / 40 yards rec
Santonio Holmes – 120 yards rec
Hines Ward – 55 yards rec / 1 TD
Heath Miller – 25 yards
Jay Cutler / Matt Forte
Devin Hester / Earl Bennett / Greg Olsen (vs. Pittsburgh)
Passing Game Thoughts: Jay Cutler had a not-so-good debut in
the Windy City. Tossing 4 INTs against a ballhawking defense like
Green Bay will be nothing like trying to figure out the chaos
that is Pittsburgh’s defense. He’s vowed to pick up
is play, but it’s going to be a tall order playing against
a team that seems to drop defenders out of the rafters. Troy Polamalu
won’t be playing, so that should give the brash Cutler a
better opportunity to redeem himself.
Devin Hester is still trying to figure out the nuances of playing
receiver, but while Hester continues to learn on the job, Earl
Bennett is still slowly working his way into the #1 WR position
on the Bears. Bennett could have an okay day. TE Greg Olsen, however,
is the player to keep an eye on. TE Desmond Clark is out indefinitely,
meaning Olsen is the only TE of any significance on the roster.
Olsen will be moved all over the field—in the backfield,
in the slot, out wide—where his athleticism can be put to
proper use. It matters not that he’s playing against Pittsburgh.
Get him in your line-up.
Running Game Thoughts: Chicago was force-feeding Matt Forte the
ball last week, giving him 25 carries. His 55 total yards from
scrimmage left a lot to be desired and certainly wasn’t
what those who used a top 4 pick on him were expecting. Things
go from bad to worse for Forte though, as Pittsburgh’s defense
will be a stiff test for the second year RB as well as the entire
Chicago offense. The Chicago offense revolves around Forte, that
much is certain. They will create ways to get him the ball, so
benching him—even against one of the toughest defenses in
the league—is out of the question.
When players such as Forte struggle on the ground, we normally
look for production via the passing game. But his goose egg in
the reception column last week had to be a tough pill to swallow.
If grinding it out on the ground proves a futile effort, I think
the Bears force-feed him the ball through the air. He has to be
the centerpiece of this offense, and as such, is a valuable member
of your fantasy team.
Jay Cutler – 190 yards / 1 TD / 1 INT
Matt Forte – 65 yards rushing / 1 TD / 30 yards rec
Earl Bennett – 70 yards rec
Devin Hester – 35 yards rec
Greg Olsen – 50 yards rec / 1 TD
Prediction:: Pittsburgh 17, Chicago 14
JaMarcus Russell/Louis Murphy/Darrius Heyward-Bey/Zach
Darren McFadden/Michael Bush (vs. KC)
Passing Game Thoughts: Inconsistency plagues the Raiders passing
attack. QB JaMarcus “Nuke” Russell can wow you at
times with his physical tools. I hear people talking about Jay
Cutler’s and Matt Stafford’s arm strength but neither
of them has anything on Russell. Just when I think I’ve
underestimated him, he misses a wide-open receiver by ten yards
on an out route. I can hear the immortal Bob Ueker… “juuusst
a bit outside” ringing in my ears. Russell was 12 for 30
for 208 yds in the opener. He will not get the Raiders above mediocrity
until he can raise his completion percentage. The Raiders got
a promising performance from rookie Louis Murphy in the opener.
His night should have been better if it weren’t for a questionable
replay overturn of a TD catch that changed the tide of the game.
Murphy could be a fringe WR3 starter this week against a defense
that just surrendered a career high to Joe Flacco. Continue to
ignore top pick Darrius Heyward-Bey until he registers a stat
line. Chaz Schilens remains out but it looks as though Javon Walker
will be activated and returning punts. Hard to say how much he
plays at WR but safe to say he’s irrelevant for now. Zach
Miller is the one constant with 96 yards in week one. Miller should
produce another similar result as Todd Heap showed last week that
TEs could be a factor against the overhauled Chief defense.
Speaking of overhaul, the release of safety Bernard Pollard was
a little bit of a shocker around the league but former Bears stud
SS Mike Brown erased any doubts last week by leading the team
with 12 tackles. Brown was a key member on defense during the
Bears Super Bowl run. He will be a great IDP DB that may be flying
under the radar in your leagues. The Chiefs have a susceptible
pass defense for Russell to exploit if he can hit his targets.
Starting CB Brandon Flowers is expected to return after missing
last week. He should be a welcome relief as his backup, Maurice
Leggette, was severely picked on by Flacco and Co. last week.
Kansas City needs more pass rush moving forward and it was a good
sign that former DE Tamba Hali was able to get some pressure and
record a sack from his new OLB position despite going against
a formidable Raven O-line. I don’t see Hali being able cover
McFadden in pass routes.
Running Game Thoughts: Darren McFadden and Michael Bush make
a great thunder and lightning combo if you can forgive the overused
metaphor. Both made quick decisions and finished their runs with
good forward lean. The Raiders offensive lines were able to impose
their will on the Charger front and the Chiefs are not as good.
They surrendered the most RB FPTs last week. The Raiders will
run and run often. McFadden has a chance for a great day and should
be a top RB this week. Bush’s role is not as secure with
the return of Justin Fargas. It remains to be seen how much Fargas
will play but his touches will limit Bush more than McFadden.
Treat Bush as a risky flex option despite the good matchup until
we see how the carries shake out.
To defend the run safety Mike Brown will move up to the line
for a 8-man front. He and LB DeMorrio Williams will make many
tackles but it will likely be four yards past the line of scrimmage.
It’s interesting to note that the Chiefs most talented LB
Derrick Johnson is currently not starting and is listed as a third
string MLB despite being a OLB his entire career. Former Patriots
veteran Mike Vrabel and converted DE Tamba Hali are staring at
OLB in the new 3-4 scheme. They need Johnson on the field. He
intercepted a pass and returned it 70 yds in limited action Sunday.
JaMarcus Russell: 195 yds/1 TD/1 INT
Louis Murphy: 65 yds
Zach Miller: 90 yds/1 TD
Darrius Heyward-Bey: 25 yds
Darren McFadden: 90 yds/35 yds rec/1 TD
Michael Bush: 40 yds/1 TD
Matt Cassel/Dwayne Bowe/Mark Bradley/Sean
Larry Johnson/Jamaal Charles (vs. OAK)
Passing Game Thoughts: It appears Matt Cassel is ready to make
his Chiefs debut. One of his strengths however is his ability
to make plays on the move so he may be less effective if his knee
affects his mobility. His best target, WR Dwayne Bowe, will have
a tough matchup against CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Cassel may have trouble
getting the ball downfield. He needs WR Mark Bradley and third
down RB Jamaal Charles to have big games. Bradley had a strong
Sunday with four catches for 73 yds. Bradley needs to keep it
up with newly signed Bobby Wade signed and vying for his job.
The Chiefs were praised for staying with the Ravens for three
quarters but two scores were setup by a blocked punt and interception.
Keep in mind their offense was anemic and Croyle was sacked three
times. Look for the Chiefs to exploit the Raider LBs poor discipline
against the short middle routes. They get too deep. Jamaal Charles
could have a big day slipping out of the backfield on underneath
routes in a similar fashion to Sproles last week.
The last minute surprise addition of Richard Seymour was a dramatic
spark for the Silver and Black. He was all over the field and
will wreak havoc on a weak Chief offensive line creating penetration
and collapsing Cassel’s pocket. Paired with Greg Ellis and
Gerard Warren Cassel will need his mobility to buy time in the
pocket or roll out. The Raiders are most vulnerable in the middle
of the field with unproven safeties but the Chiefs no longer have
a Tony Gonzales at TE to exploit it.
Running Game Thoughts: This will be a good measuring stick for
the viability of Larry Johnson as a fantasy back moving forward.
No one expected him to find success against the Raven run stuffing
D. The Raiders seemed to keep LaDainian Tomlinson in check but
he did gain 46 yds on only ten carries. Johnson will look to improve
his current two yds per carry average. His success will depend
on his offensive line.
The Oakland defensive front won the physical battle against the
Chargers offensive line. I think they can duplicate it against
KC. Richard Seymour is a dominant force and is playing for a payday
since he will be a free agent come 2010. More importantly, his
experience may be just the leadership the Oakland defense is lacking.
LBs Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard will fill the lanes to clean
up after Seymour and co. redirect the point of attack.
Matt Cassel: 235 yds/1 TD
Dwayne Bowe: 70 yds
Mark Bradley: 80 yds/1 TD
Bobby Engram: 40 yds
Larry Johnson: 70 yds rushing/20 yds rec/1 TD
Jamaal Charles: 30 yds/40 yds rec
Prediction:: Raiders 21 Chiefs 17
Matt Hasselbeck/T.J. Houshmandzadeh/Nate
Julius Jones (vs. SF)
Passing Game Thoughts: The key here for Matt Hasselbeck will
be taking care of the football. He can get away with two INTs
against the overmatched Rams but in a potential grinder versus
the Niner’s, possessions will be more limited and crucial.
The Matchup between TE John Carlson and MLB Patrick Willis will
be telling. Carlson is a big target and will be leaned on to keep
drives alive. WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh will catch his 6-8 balls
but I don’t like his chances to put up big numbers against
a physical corner like Nate Clements. Too much speed there to
find many openings. If the Seahawks are to get big chunks with
the pass, they have a better chance with Nate Burleson vs. Shawntae
Spencer. Both WR is extremely fast and both may struggle if Hasselbeck
doesn’t have enough time in the pocket for their routes
The Niner’s pass rush is more talented than St. Louis’
and they will look to take more advantage of the missing Seattle
LT Walter Jones and C Chris Spencer. DE Ray McDonald and OLB Parys
Haralson both create pressure off the edge and will be speed problems
for the Seahawk line. They need Manny Lawson to step up for their
D to reach the next level though. New S Dashon Goldson is a coverage
minded safety and will be heavily involved in keeping the Seahawks
form big strikes.
Running Game Thoughts: Julius Jones turned his opener around
by hitting a seam for 62 yds and pay dirt. Before that, the Rams
had held him in check. That’s the strength of Jones. He
has speed when in open space and is capable of hitting big plays.
His limitation is that he’s not a grinder. After the game
was in hand, Edgerrin James was called in to grind out the clock
in the 4th quarter in the same stat-limiting role Marion Barber
used to play in Dallas. Jones will benefit from the pass threat
of Hasselbeck but I still think the league’s best MLB Patrick
Willis, with apologies to DeMeco Ryans, will keep him from hitting
the homerun. Treat Jones as a borderline RB2 for week two despite
an improved rushing offense overall for Seattle.
Matt Hasselbeck: 250 yds/2 TDs/1 INT
T.J. Houshmandzadeh: 60 yds
Nate Burleson: 65 yds/1 TD
John Carlson: 70 yds/1 TD
Julius Jones: 75 yds rushing/20 yds rec
Edgerrin James: 20 yds/1 TD
Shaun Hill/Isaac Bruce/Josh Morgan/Vernon
Frank Gore (vs. SEA)
Passing Game Thoughts: With an impressive win over Arizona QB
Shaun Hill is now 8-3 as a starter. He fits their system as a
conservative manager that isn’t careless with the ball.
That said he is not going to carry your team a trophy anytime
soon. It appears veteran Isaac Bruce is may squeeze out one more
year as the top WR in the offense. Josh Morgan is not there yet
despite the preseason love coming in. As expected, it looks like
TE Vernon Davis will be a bigger factor. His five catches is a
good sign of things to come. He is needed this week to take advantage
of the banged up Seattle LBs.
Seattle lost starting LB Leroy Hill to a potentially long-term
groin tear and Lofa Tatupu is nursing a hamstring but expected
to go. Will Herring is a solid replacement for Hill though and
they may not lose too much other than depth. The hawks did a good
job of getting pressure on Bulger and limiting their questionable
secondary to exposure. They will duplicate that again but could
be vulnerable if Hill gets outside the pocket to buy time and
make big conversions.
Running Game Thoughts: Frank Gore was unable to find room to roam
against the Cardinal front. Not good for a team that is built
around a power running game. RT Adam Snyder needs to improve his
play with a difficult assignment in DE Cory Redding. Redding is
a disruptive force. Gore may find better holes on the left side.
I think they will continue to struggle against better fronts until
they can get a little more diverse in play calling and at least
threaten to stretch the field with Morgan.
Shaun Hill: 220 yds/1 TDs/1 INT
Isaac Bruce: 70 yds
Josh Morgan: 60 yds/1 TD
Vernon Davis: 45 yds
Frank Gore: 65 yds rushing/20 yds rec/1 TD
Prediction:: Seattle 21 San Francisco 20
Brady Quinn/Braylon Edwards/Mike Furrey/Robert
Jamaal Lewis (vs. DEN)
Passing Game Thoughts: Maybe Brady Quinn is a better game manager
than Derek Anderson is but he is not as lucrative in our fantasy
world. He has yet to show the capability of taking shots downfield.
This does not play to Braylon Edwards’s strength. In order
for Edwards to succeed, he is going to have to become very efficient
in the redzone as his big play ability is severely hampered with
Quinn. The benefactors of Quinn’s dump down mentality will
be TE Robert Royal and possession WR Mike Furrey. Both should
rack up catches but little yardage.
The Bronco defense seems to match-up well with Cleveland’s
offense. They can put CB Champ Bailey on an island to control
Edwards and free up LBs and safeties to blitz and confuse Quinn.
The Denver LBs speed versus the solid young offensive line of
the Browns is the determining factor in who wins.
Running Game Thoughts: Jamaal Lewis didn’t post big stats
against Minnesota but his 5.2 yard average seems impressive. The
Browns need to impose their size on the smallish Denver front
in order to win. This should be a great size versus speed battle.
I like Lewis to get many carries and post a solid stat line but
in a losing effort. It’s worth noting that Lewis is listed
as questionable along with his backup James Davis. Keep an eye
on them this week to make sure they see action.
The lack of a big play threat will allow S Brian Dawkins to squeeze
the line of scrimmage. He’s an excellent playmaker and will
be a difference maker. He’s the type of physical presence
that can thwart the run success of Cleveland.
Brady Quinn: 180 yds/1 INT
Braylon Edwards: 60 yds
Mike Furrey: 55 yds
Robert Royal: 40 yds
Jamaal Lewis: 90 yds rushing/2 TDs
Kyle Orton/Brandon Marshall/Eddie Royal/
Knowshon Moreno/Correll Buckhalter (vs. CLE)
Passing Game Thoughts: Denver should be able to build a solid
passing attack under the coaching of Josh McDaniels but they are
not there yet. They will continue to improve but their ceiling
is lower with QB Kyle Orton. Orton is capable QB but not dynamic
in the mold of Tom Brady or Jay Cutler. I’m not sure the
combo of Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal can become the Moss
and Welker of the West or even the Marshall and Royal of 2008.
They will catch plenty of passes but need to create yards after
the catch in order to reach their previous levels. Either way,
Denver must find away to get them going coming off a miserable
performance against the Bengals.
CB Brandon McDonald remembers all too missing a tackle allowing
a 93 yard TD pass to Brandon Marshall last season. He and fellow
CB Eric Wright both had poor showings last year and look to make
amends. The Browns do not have a dominant pass rush in year past
but did register three sacks on Favre despite the limited chances.
They need to be strong in coverage and tackling to prevent another
poor showing. They have yet to be tested since Minnesota barely
needed the forward pass to beat them in the opener.
Running Game Thoughts: Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno
are expected to split carries. They need to get outside to find
success with giant nose tackle Shaun Rogers clogging up the middle.
I like Moreno to have the bigger game since he has the better
speed and agility. That said younger RBs tend to struggle more
against the 3-4 defenses, which Cleveland incorporates.
MLB D’Qwell Jackson is a tackling machine but needs his
OLBs to keep containment when Denver tries to get outside. Safety
Abram Elam will not be able to help on runs as much as in Minnesota
with the threat of Marshall and Royal on the outside. They should
be out to prove they are better than their “posterizing”
they got from Adrian Peterson last week.
Kyle Orton: 220 yds/1 TD
Brandon Marshall: 70 yds/1 TD
Eddie Royal: 60 yds
Knowshon Moreno: 60 yds rushing/35 yds rec
Correll Buckhalter: 40 yds/1 TD
Prediction:: Denver 23 Cleveland 14
Joe Flacco/Derrick Mason/Mark Clayton/Todd
Ray Rice/Willis McGahee (vs. SD)
Passing Game Thoughts: Flacco went wacko on the Chiefs last week
throwing for 307 yards and 3 TDs. I think he mirrors Ben Roethlisberger
a little bit. Both are big, have strong arms, have quick feet
for their size, and both came into great situations with great
defense and running games. It looks like Flacco will also keep
getting a greater amount of passing opportunity. I like his match-up
here. If the Raiders can have some success through the air on
the Chargers than certainly Flacco can with a much better receiving
core at his disposal.
Sand Diego could not generate much disruption against the Raider
line. Shawn Merriman is not the explosive player of old. We'll
see if as the season progresses, he can get back to form. For
now, the Chargers are suffering in the trenches. They were less
physical than the Raiders and Baltimore has a very good young
line that may duplicate the effort. TE Todd Heap could have another
good game given the Chargers struggle to control TEs. Antonio
Cromartie likes to gamble and get picks but can be beaten when
over aggressive. Look for WR Mark Clayton to get behind the defense
for a big play or two.
Running Game Thoughts: Between the 20’s, this is a Ray
Rice offense. He will get the yards and catches in bunches. Once
in scoring position it Willis McGahee gets the nod. He vultures
two scores from an otherwise nice day by Rice. As a result, Rice
makes for a much better PPR starting back then standard scoring
leagues. Both will continue the pattern this week as the Ravens
should be able to have some room to run against the no longer
dominant run defense of the Chargers. The Ravens need to establish
the run early to open the passing routes or they could struggle
The ability of NT Jamaal Williams to tie up blockers creates
a lot of freedom for MLB Stephen Cooper. He is a good tackler
and excellent IDP option. He needs some help from his fellow LBs
to help slow the Raven rush. Safety Eric Weddle is unbelievable.
He is always around the ball and a real bright spot for an aging
defense. It’s never a good sign when your safety racks up
so many tackles because it means the D-Line isn’t.
Joe Flacco: 225 yds/1 TD/1 INT
Mark Clayton: 60 yds
Derrick Mason: 70 yds
Todd Heap: 60 yds/1 TD
Ray Rice: 65 yds/30 rec
Willis McGahee: 35 yds/1 TD
Phillip Rivers/Vincent Jackson/Chris Chambers/Antonio
Darren Sproles/LaDainian Tomlinson (vs. BAL)
Passing Game Thoughts: Phillip Rivers needs a big game here.
He got off to a slow start against the Raiders but showed his
savvy in the late 4th quarter drive for a game winning score.
With a formidable run defense the Chargers are going to need to
move the ball in the air. The loss of C Nick Hardwick is big.
The Ravens are terrific in the middle with Kelly Gregg and Haloti
Ngata and may struggle to keep them at bay. They may have to double
them, which will free up Ray Lewis to roam and make plays. The
Chargers will need to shorten up their routes. Quick hits to Sproles
in space on the edges and a lot of looks to Gates may be in order.
Gates will have a tough matchup with safety Ed Reed, both elite
players at their position. Chris Chambers was nowhere to be found
last week. Legedu Naanee outshined him. Naanee had two crucial
tough catches in the final minutes to aid the Chargers comeback.
Keep an eye on that position battle to see if Chambers continues
to be outplayed.
Running Game Thoughts: I think L.T. plays despite his tweaked
ankle. I don’t like his chances of having a good game. Aside
from him not being at 100 percent, his offensive line is banged
up and the Ravens are good at shutting down the running game.
Part of Tomlinson’s lack of fantasy greatness is Sproles’
role as the third down man. In his heyday, Tomlinson was extremely
versatile and accrued a lot of points off receptions. If he continues
as a two down back, his ceiling is limited regardless of his skill.
Phillip Rivers: 270 yds/2 TDs/1 INT
Vincent Jackson: 80 yds
Chris Chambers: 40 yds
Antonio Gates: 50 yds/1 TD
Darren Sproles: 30 yds/40 yds rec
LaDainian Tomlinson: 40 yds/20 rec/1 TD
Prediction:: Ravens 23 Chargers 20
Byron Leftwhich/Antonio Bryant/Michael
Clayton/Kellen Winslow, Jr.
Cadillac Williams/Derek Ward (vs. BUF)
Passing Game Thoughts: Michael
Clayton woke from the dead to become this week’s hot waiver
wire pickup. Clayton who had the third best fantasy season for
a rookie WR in the last 15 years grabbed 5 balls for 93 yards
in Week 1. The talent is there and the situation just may be conducive
to him maintaining some value this season. The Tampa Bay passing
game wasn’t as ineffective as many pundits guessed as Byron
Leftwich threw for 276 yards and a TD to TE Kellen Winslow, Jr.
Antonio Bryant dealt with a banged up knee for most of the preseason
and was manly ineffective in Week 1 and remains a question mark
for Week 2.
Buffalo’s passing defense was ranked 13th in yardage allowed
last season (204.4) and only gave up 14 TDs through the air. In
Week 1 they allowed Tom Brady to throw for 378 yards and two TD’s,
but before Brady’s late game magic they were effective in
keeping the Patriots from going downfield. CB Leodis McKelvin
was effective as a rookie, and if it wasn’t for a bonehead
mistake in deciding to run the last Pats kickoff out of the endzone,
and fight for extra yardage before fumbling he may have been a
hero instead of the goat. DE Aaron Schoebel got to Brady in the
late stages of the game, but the Buffalo pass rush was mostly
ineffective. The Bills will need to apply some pressure so they
can get to Leftwhich and his notoriously slow delivery.
Running Game Thoughts: The story
of the year in the NFL could be the return of Cadillac Williams
from his myriad of injuries some of which were considered to be
potentially career ending. He showed tremendous burst and speed
for a back with his history. He combined with fellow backfield
mate and free agent acquisition Derrick Ward to form a formidable
running game – they accrued a combined 159 yards and two
TDs on the ground.
The Bills were ranked 22nd against the run last season. LB Paul
Posluszny was once again lost for the season, the second time
during his three year career, and that certainly cannot help an
already poor unit. The Patriots were effective running the ball
against the Bills but used their aerial attack more keeping the
final rushing stats to a minimum.
Byron Leftwhich: 235 yds passing 1 TD
Antonio Bryant: 25 yds receiving
Michael Clayton: 60 yds receiving, 1 TD
Kellen Winslow: 85 yds receiving
Cadillac Williams: 75 yds rushing
Derrick Ward: 55 yds rushing, 1 TD / 35 yds receiving
Trent Edwards/Lee Evans/Terrell Owens/Shawn
Fred Jackson (vs. NE)
Passing Game Thoughts: Trent
Edwards (212 yds, 2 TDs) looked effective running the no-huddle
offense, but must learn to trust his arm and his WRs enough to
start throwing the ball downfield to his two talented WRs or this
offense will struggle. He dinked and dunked his way down field
and is a smart (He did go to Stanford afterall) and accurate QB.
The much maligned (by me last week) Bills o-line did an adequate
job, although Edwards was sacked 4 times.
The Tamp Bay Buccaneers were one of the most feared defenses for
years, but age caught up with them and they are trying to start
over. Last season they were the 4th ranked pass defense from a
yardage perspective (187.3 ypg), but that stat is a little deceiving
since their 23 passing TDs allowed were amongst the league’s
worst. Tony Romo had a filed day last week against this declining
unit as he tossed 3 TDs that exceed 40 yards in length.
Running Game Thoughts: Fred
Jackson was the best offensive player on the field for the Bills
last week. He gained 57 yards on the ground and 83 yards and a
TD receiving the ball. He runs with great determination, and his
vision is outstanding. He wasn’t given many holes but he
found the ones that were there and got through them quickly. He
is startable for fantasy owners at least until Marshawn Lynch
comes back in Week 4, and after that he may still be worth a spot
start or two based on his usage in the passing game.
The Buccaneers ranked 19th in rushing yards allowed last season
(118.8 ypg) but like their passing stats this one is relatively
incongruous with their real value as they only allowed 8 rushing
TDs on the season. Marion the Barbarian found the endzone last
week against TB, but the boys were too busy lighting up the air
to really concentrate on running the ball.
Trent Edwards: 225 yds passing, 2 TDs, 1 Int. / 10 yards rushing
Lee Evans: 80 yds receiving
Terrell Owens: 45 yds receiving, 1 TD
Shawn Nelson: 15 yds receiving, 1 TD
Fred Jackson: 85 yds rushing / 55 yds receiving
Prediction: Bills 20 Buccaneers