Given the recent match-up article written by Ray Flowers earlier in the week, I’d like to avoid the redundancy of a full-blown fantasy football game capsule piece. Instead, I’ll simply go through each match-up and cite a player or two who I think could find a fair amount of success this Sunday (and Monday). I may agree with Ray on some and I may disagree on others, but you should get the full spectrum of necessary information needed to set your lineup for optimal points. And if we skipped over someone you may have a question about, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or email. I’ll be happy to answer your questions. But in the meantime…
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
After watching DeAndre Hopkins break out for 117 yards and a touchdown last week, there is little doubt that Matt Schaub will find his rookie receiver early and often this week, exploiting the fact that the Ravens rank 25th in the league against opposing teams’ No. 2 wide receivers. With Andre Johnson playing but still recovering from the concussion he suffered last week, he will draw enough coverage to leave Hopkins in one-on-one match-ups most of the time and make him a favorite option for Schaub.
With Ray Rice listed as doubtful for this game, Bernard Pierce actually makes for a decent start as a RB2/Flex against a Houston defense that has given up almost 100 rushing yards per game through the first two weeks.
Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins
While all eyes will be watching to see if Reggie Bush plays in this game, you should be watching for the potential explosiveness in the Lions passing game as the Skins have given up an average of 311 passing yards with six touchdowns already. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson should be crushing it this weekend. I’m sure Nate Burleson will see a bunch of action as the Skins try to double team Megatron, but this seems like a perfect game for him and Stafford to break out.
San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans
How quickly everyone forgets after just two games gone by this season. With 35 interceptions over the last two seasons, Philip Rivers was a cautionary tale in fantasy. Now after seven touchdowns to one interception after two games, suddenly everyone’s asking about picking up Rivers and talking about the Chargers passing attack as if it’s been completely resurrected back to the days of Kellen Winslow and Wes Chandler. But this is 2008 throwback Eddie Royal we’re talking about and this is a relatively inexperienced Vincent Brown and this is…yes…still Philip Rivers. Matching up against a very tough Titans defense, the only one I really like is Antonio Gates. The Titans play the receivers real tough but are vulnerable to the tight end, against whom they rank 20th in the league. I’m not saying Rivers won’t succeed, but let’s rein it in before engraving a Comeback Player of the Year trophy.
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees and Marques Colston haven’t connected yet this season but fantasy owners might not have to wait much longer as quarterbacks are sitting with a 104.4 rating against the Cardinals and averaging 286 passing yards against them. On top of that , The Cardinals rank 29th against number one receivers and are allowing an average of 104.2 yards to them.
While Stepfan Taylor and Alfonso Smith are considered the next-in-line runnings backs for the Cards, keep an eye on Andre Ellington. He’s a great pass-catching back with dynamic speed and the Cards seem to be eager to get him into the mix. He had a nice little showing last week on a 36-yard TD catch and the Saints rank 17th in the league against running back pass plays. No guarantees, but I’m just sayin’…
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots
While everyone is talking about Tom Brady versus Revis Island and the rest of the Tampa secondary, let’s talk about what the Pats are going to do to counter it. How about a heavy dose of Stevan Ridley and a shortened up passing game tailored for Julian Edelman’s style of play? If you send out Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson to occupy the corners and safeties, then you’ve got Edelman, tight end Zach Sudfeld and yes, Ridley handling the short passing game.
Meanwhile, the Pats are fiving up an average of 132.5 rushing yards per game, so perhaps it’s time Doug Martin came out to play.
Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings
Wilis McGahee or not, it’s real hard to see the Browns being effective here on offense. It’s possible that the Vikings take this match-up a little lightly and let Brian Hoyer get away with a few passes he shouldn’t be allowed to make, but overall this one should be pretty one-sided with a whole lot of Adrian Peterson ruining the numbers for the Browns’ run defense.
New York Giants at Carolina Panthers
You look at the defensive numbers of each of these teams and fantasy folk have to be champing at the bit to get this one started. While Eli Manning should be chucking the ball downfield to Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, Cam Newton is likely to counter with a potentially more efficient short game utilizing tight end Greg Olsen and, from out of the backfield, DeAngelo Williams.
Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals
We’ve spent so much time raving about Aaron Rodgers over the years, that when discussing a match-up, it’s a natural inclination to talk about him. But not today. The only thing I really care about that involves Green Bay is a shoddy pass defense that ranks 30th in the league and allows an average of 359 passing yards per game. This could be a lot of A.J. Green, a fair amount of Jermaine Gresham and a splash of Giovani Bernard. Pretty sure this is just the type of game you want Andy Dalton active for if your other QB has a poor match-up.
St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys
While the Cowboys have the edge in the ground game, this one could simply come down to whose pass defense gets burned the most. Neither one has been able to contain the opposition through these first to weeks and both teams have an array of receivers with which to attack. Get your receivers active in this one – Dez Bryant, Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Miles Austin and yes, both tight ends. Deeper league owners may also want to give Austin Pettis a look, but only if you’re really short on receivers.
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
Running room might be tough to come by for both teams as opposing run defenses here are each holding the opposition to an average of under 90 yards per game. That means it’s coming down to the passing game and that immediately gives the edge to the Falcons, right? Maybe. But the Falcons pass D hasn’t looked too good over these first two weeks and Ryan Taannehill has actually looked much better than expected. With Mike Wallace and Charles Clay joining Brian Hartline in the passing attack, the Fins could actually keep this one real close. Perhaps a bust off the week call for Julio Jones is needed here as well.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
Don’t look now, but the Jets defense seems to be on the rise lately, ranking in the top eight in both pass and run defense. That could mean a rough day for the Bills running back tandem and a long day for EJ Manuel. Meanwhile, if the Jets are going to expose a weakness in the Bills’ defense, it’s likely to happen against a run D that has allowed an average of 141.5 rushing yards per game. Fantasy owners would love to see either Chris Ivory or Bilal Powell to step up into the lead role, but this could be a tandem effort with each being worthy of a flex play in deeper leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
After seeing what the Sea Chickens did to the Niners last week, is there any Jaguar you would even consider starting this week? Yeah, me neither. But I will say that this game has Marshawn Lynch’s name written all over it.
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have a lot to prove this week after they were systematically dismantled last week. With Vernon Davis a game time decision, this should be all about Anquan Boldin and Frank Gore this week. The Colts pass defense is middle of the road and their run D gives up 136 yards per game on the ground.
For the Colts, it should be interesting to watch. The Niners defense is fairly solid against both the pass and the run, but with Trent Richardson giving the Colts a new look, whether he takes a lot of snaps or he doesn’t, it could be a long afternoon for the home team. If the pass rush can contain Andrew Luck though, then he’ll end up having an even longer day.
Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are giving up nearly 120 yards per game on the ground which could mean a strong day for Matt Forte. Obviously then that opens things up for the passing game and that means more fun from Brandon Marshall and likely Martellus Bennett.
With little or no ground game of which to speak and the pass blocking up the middle ruined by the loss of Maurkice Pouncey, it’s hard to get excited about anyone from Pittsburgh’s offense right now. Heath Miller returns, but only in a very limited presence.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Surprisingly, the Raiders defense looks fairly strong against both the pass and the run, but it’s hard to have much confidence in them knowing they will have to stop Peyton Manning and his ridiculously talented group of weapons. I see a big lead in the first half for Peyton and then a whole lot of Knowshon Moreno in the second half. The opposite likely for Darren McFadden who could see his team abandon the ground game to play catch-up in the second half.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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