THE MATCHUP GAME
Last week was hit and miss. Warner lived up to expectations and so did Peyton Manning. Calvin Johnson did his due diligence and Forte racked up the second half yards. But Graham laid a big fat one and Schaub and Orton got hurt. Last week was a low scoring affair all around in fantasy. I'm going to look at the top matchups at the three main skill positions and see what we have going this week.
This week looks like a good week for sub-par QB’s. The worst five defenses vs. the pass face Tyler Thigpen, Chad Pennington, Kerry Collins, David Garrard, and Brett Favre. Yeah, I know Brett Favre on the whole is a great QB, not sub-par, but I wouldn’t feel safe starting him in most weeks. So in the matchup game for QB’s this week there are few no brainers. So what do we have? A couple no-brainers!
Drew Brees is as no brainer as it gets. The guy could be on the Raiders and throw for 400 yards and 3 TDs. This week he gets an Atlanta team that is about middle of the pack vs. the pass. They give up 205 yds a game and a TD, but that is against the normal, and Brees is abnormal. The only real QB’s they’ve faced are Rodgers, Delhomme and McNabb. They held McNabb in check, but Delhomme and Rodgers averaged 300 yds and 2 TD’s. Brees has had no problem in the past playing in the Georgia Dome and should easily have 300 yards and 2-3 TD’s.
The only other no brainer is Kurt Warner. It is really a toss up between Brees and Warner for the number one spot this week (and the year). Warner gets to be at home where his passer rating is 106 compared to 87.5 away. And you saw what he did away last week! He’s playing San Francisco at home and last year he only threw for 484 yards in the same situation. I think you can count on another great game here.
Aaron Rodgers showed me a lot by going into Tennessee last week and throwing for 314 yards and a TD. They lost, but this is fantasy so nobody except cheeseheads care. Rodgers looked good in week one @ Minnesota and should have another good game in the dome. Minny’s pass D has been run of the mill, giving up 232 yards a game. I also like Rodger’s nose for the goalline with three rushing TD’s so far this year. If he can get you 250-300 yards and 2 TD’s he’s a top 5 QB this week.
Other good options: Chad Pennington, David Garrard, Matt Ryan, and Philip Rivers
Be afraid, very afraid: Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, and the other Manning
This week we have some nice matchups for RB’s, but there are only a few that look like statistical locks, e.g. a real life maybe! There are some purely rotten run D’s this year. There are eleven Defenses that give up 120 or more yards per game on the ground. But the worst of the worst is KC. Last week I hyped Earnest Graham because he was facing them and of course KC had their best game statistically vs. the run. That goes to show you that playing the matchups can be risky no matter how bad the D is.
But this week is a little different for the KC run defense; they face LaDainian Tomlinson on the road. Now in years past the letters LT struck fear into the hearts of defenses, but this year has been another story. With only 5 TD’s which have come in 3 games and a 3.9 per carry average, he has come back to earth. This seems mainly due to his toe injury. But now it looks like all signs point to a great game. In his game before the bye he totaled 170 yards vs. New Orleans and looked good doing it. And then he has a week to rest and gets to play KC who has given up 182 yards a game on the ground and this is after giving up 81 to Tampa Bay last week!
Adrian Peterson has been playing well, but not All Day well. The last game against Houston went a long way to alleviating my fear of him possibly being hurt or slowing down a bit. He looked quick and ripped off some long runs. Green Bay has been a Jekyl and Hyde defense this year by giving up nothing through the air and a ton on the ground. Minnesota should continue this trend.
DeAngelo Williams has been good this year, but has also been a fantasy manager’s nightmare due to his committee status. Jonathon Stewart has taken touchdowns and carries away from each week. It is still early in the week, but Stewart’s foot is in a boot and not the good kind. If Stewart can’t go, Williams is a top five back vs. the Raiders. The Raiders are a perfect team to start running backs against. They don’t score much, which means the opposing team is always ahead or very close and they end up not needing to risk throwing against the only good player on the Raiders, Asomugah. Add to that the Raider’s 157 yards per game given up on the ground and you have a dream matchup. Now this all goes out the window if Stewart starts. They will both be good starts against a poor D, but that elite status slips a bit.
Other good options: Frank Gore, Jamal Lewis, Tim Hightower, and Thomas Jones
Be afraid, very afraid: Matt Forte, Ryan Grant, Steven Jackson (appears to be out), and Joseph Addai (you know why)
Kurt Warner owners love the three-headed wide receiver monster in Arizona, but Boldin and Fitzgerald owners don’t. You know there will be yardage and touchdowns, but who gets them? If you are in a salary cap league you are even more perplexed because you have a choice. Usually the best choice is to take a player without all that competition, but the way Warner has been playing it is impossible not to make the Sophie’s choice of Fantasy Football. I went Fitz last week and Boldin got the TD. So this week I say take both.
Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald will go off at home vs. San Francisco. They aren’t the worst team in the world vs. the pass, but Warner trumps most any team and SF is no Pittsburgh. I look for Fitz to get a TD this week just because Boldin got his last week, but I have a feeling Boldin will get one also, and Breaston, and Hightower, and some scrub or two.
Roddy White has been amazing this year. With a rookie QB, nobody thought he would have anything like the year he is having. Last week he was blanketed by Asomugah and still had five receptions. And the Falcons also ran the ball over 50 times! That won’t happen this week. New Orleans has a better rush D (18th) than pass D (25th). And Brees will put some points on the board, which will keep the Falcons throwing.
Many of the big WR’s have tough matchups. Steve Smith has Asomugah on him and Andre Johnson has the Ravens. Both are for sure starts, but I don’t think they are going to go off. Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler are scaring me. They looked to be a fantasy duo of decadence, or something, but they are head cases. Well Cutler is and Marshall looked human vs. a bad Miami pass D. They are also start at any cost types, but in your big money matchup games I think I’m going with Matt Jones. Now, if he’s in prison be sure to sit him, but against a bad Detroit pass D I see a big game. Would I actually start him over Marshall if I had the choice? No, but in matchup games sometimes you have to play for differential and Jones is my pick this week.
Other good options: Derick Mason, Braylon Edwards, Marques Colston, and Donald Driver:
Be afraid, very afraid: Reggie Wayne, Lee Evans, and DeSean Jackson,
Weather: This looks like a pretty calm week weather-wise. Games in California, Arizona, and domes make for a clean fantasy slate. If anything major comes up in the next couple days I’ll update here.
Be sure to ask any fantasy related questions in the comments. I'll do my best to answer them and I'm sure your fellow BTSC'ers would chime in as well. Good luck all!