Fantasy Football Week 3: Versus Decision-Maker
So, by now, (already the third week of the 2012 NFL season, somehow), you probably have a pretty decent idea regarding what to expect from your fantasy team.
However, there are always wild cards. We have the rookies (RGIII, of course), the underwhelming (what’s wrong with you, Darren McFadden?), the promising-yet-possible-flash-in-the-pan (really, Martellus Bennett?) and the flat-out failures (Chris Johnson).
So, let’s see what’s in store for this week.
Matthew Stafford (Lions) vs. Andrew Luck (Colts)
As a Matthew Stafford owner, I feel your pain, fellow Matthew Stafford owners. Through two games in 2012, Stafford doesn’t look like the same fella that threw for 41 touchdowns and over 5,000 yards in 2011. While the yardage has been solid (585 yards), he’s thrown just two touchdown passes to go along with four picks. Not exactly the elite start many anticipated.
Andrew Luck’s career has gotten off to a solid start. The draft’s top pick has thrown for 533 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions through Indy’s first two games. Considering he’s been working with Reggie Wayne and essentially a slew of scrubs, those are some impressive numbers, to be sure.
This week, Stafford’s Lions take on the Titans, while Luck and the Colts take on a different AFC South foe in the Jacksonville Jaguars. What do you do?
Don’t overthink it. I know Stafford hasn’t looked good, but few defenses have looked more out-of-sorts through the first two games of the season than that of Tennessee. I’m fully expecting Stafford to come out gunning, involving Calvin Johnson early-and-often. Megatron has yet to find the end zone this year, and that needs to change, pronto.
The Jaguars may not seem too intimidating upon first glance, but they’ve actually done a solid job against opposing QBs so far, having allowed single-digit (standard scoring) points to both Christian Ponder and Matt Schaub. Luck may produce more (as the Colts are more of a pass-happy team than either Minnesota or Houston), but it’s not particularly encouraging.
Stafford gets on track this week against the Titans.
Doug Martin (Buccaneers) vs. Shonn Greene (Jets)
Another rookie, Doug Martin, has gotten off to a promising start, as well. After rushing for nearly 100 yards in his debut against the Panthers, Martin ran for 66 with a touchdown in last week’s shootout against the Giants.
Shonn Greene is still Shonn Greene. He managed to follow up a good 94-yard, TD effort against the Bills with a terrible 11-carry, 23-yard game against the tough Steelers run D in week two.
Martin is facing a Cowboys defense that allowed Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks to terrorize them last week for 182 yards on the ground. Greene is facing Miami, a unit that has been incredibly stingy against the run, giving up just 106 total yards on 49 carries.
There’s always the potential for a touchdown for Greene, as he’s New York’s primary ball-toter, but the matchup clearly favors the rookie Doug Martin here.
Ryan Mathews (Chargers) vs. Michael Turner (Falcons)
All indications are that Mathews will make his regular season debut against Atlanta this week, following a broken clavicle suffered on his first carry of the preseason.
Despite picking up a DUI after Monday night’s win over the Broncos, Michael Turner is expected to start for the Falcons against his former team.
Mathews has been about as frustrating a player as you can find in fantasy over the past couple of seasons, often showing flashes of absolute brilliance, only to follow that up by missing the next four weeks with a nagging injury.
Speaking of frustrating, Turner has gotten just 28 total carries through the first two games, good for 74 yards and a touchdown. Prettay, prettay dreadful. And this matchup against a Chargers defense that has suffocated Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson through each of the first two games isn’t exactly a dream matchup for him.
We have no idea how often Mathews will touch the football if he’s in the lineup Sunday, but, considering the lack of production from backups Curtis Brinkley and Ronnie Brown through the first couple of games, it can be assumed that he’ll get a solid workload. So, if he plays, start Mathews over Turner.
Stevie Johnson (Bills) vs. Denarius Moore (Raiders)
Johnson’s targets have diminished with the emergence of C.J. Spiller as the focal point of the Bills’ offense so far, but he’s still the top target for Ryan Fitzpatrick once Buffalo does take to the air.
Moore returned from a hamstring injury last week, catching three passes for an encouraging 67 yards in the Raiders’ blowout loss against Miami.
Carson Palmer has had to throw a whopping 94 passes through the first two weeks for Oakland, which does bode well for Moore, as it seems highly likely that the Raiders will be once again playing with a deficit against the Steelers on Sunday.
That said, the Bills could be in for a shootout, as well, against a Browns team that looked shockingly good on offense last week against the Bengals.
This one is essentially a toss-up for me, but I’ll give the slight nod to Moore over Johnson. Pittsburgh is notorious for allowing nothing in the running game, so it could be another rough go for Darren McFadden. March on, Denarius Moore.
Michael Crabtree (49ers) vs. Dez Bryant (Cowboys)
Michael Crabtree cracks the column for the second consecutive week, coming off of a six-catch, 67-yard effort in the win over Detroit last Sunday night. Through two games, he’s already reeled in 13 passes, and appears to finally have a defined role in San Francisco’s offense.
Meanwhile, Dez Bryant’s young career as a fantasy enigma continues. Things looked promising following a four-catch, 85-yard game in the opener against the Giants, but he was a complete non-factor in Seattle last week, catching three passes for just 17 yards.
However, for the second week in-a-row, I’m going to tell you to go against Crabtree. Last week it was in favor of Danny Amendola, who, as you may recall, racked up 15 catches for 160 yards and a score.
The Cowboys’ matchup with the Buccaneers this week isn’t to be ignored. Eli Manning torched them for over 500 yards a week ago, as Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz EACH nearly gained 200 yards through-the-air. Expect a similar approach from Dallas, because they have the weapons to enjoy similar success in Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten. Austin leads the team in targets so far, so one would imagine he’ll be drawing the majority of the attention from Tampa’s defense, freeing up space for Dez.
If the 49ers look anywhere near as good this week as they did against Green Bay and Detroit, they’ll be in for an easy afternoon Sunday in the Metrodome. As we know, this means we should see a heavy dosage of Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and co. once SF has a satisfactory lead.
Crabtree is productive (particularly in PPR), but I’d opt for Bryant this week.
Jermaine Gresham (Bengals) vs. Jacob Tamme (Broncos)
Gresham has seven catches for 67 yards so far for Cincinnati, while Tamme has seven for 60 and a touchdown.
Matchups with the ferocious Texans defense aren’t exactly enticing for owners of players going up against them, but Tamme should be a solid play this week. He’s still getting looks from his old buddy Peyton, and, with Houston likely to bring heat against the brick-footed quarterback early-and-often, he’ll need his trusty safety valve.
Gresham could be in for a solid day against the Redskins, but I like Tamme to be a decent producer this week.
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