|Blount Happy to Be Back on the Field||Observations From Day Three of Patriots Training Camp||Connelly’s Top Ten: RIP Cecil the Lion||David Krejci: The Most Interesting Man on the Bruins|
I don’t like to toot my own horn…usually. But when you’re clicking on all cylinders right from the start, I don’t think it should go unnoticed. So let me just quickly look at last week’s article and see how I did…
Matt Hasselbeck: 279 passing yds. (good for 8th best last week), 3 TDs, 2 INTs
Fred Jackson: 57 rushing yds., 83 receiving yds., and a TD
Eddie Royal: just two catches for 18 yds., no TDs
Minnesota D/ST: 268 yds. against, 20 pts., 1 INT, and 5 sacks
New Orleans D/ST: 27 pts., but just 231 yds. against, and 3 INTs
Eli Manning: 256 passing yds., 1 TD, 1 INT, and a fumble
Chris Johnson: No TDs, 57 rushing yds.
Larry Johnson: No TDs, 20 rushing yds.
Steve Slaton: 17 rushing yds., 35 receiving yds., no TDs, and a fumble
Jamal Lewis: No TDs, 57 rushing yds.
Ok, so maybe I missed on Eddie Royal and the Saints defense. But otherwise, 8 out of 10 ain’t too stinkin’ bad. Not a bad way to kickoff the year.
And so we shift our focus to the NFL’s second week. A lot of great matchups this week, and a lot of tough decisions to make in the fantasy world. Let’s dive in to some names you should focus on before the action gets rolling Sunday.
Last week, I was criticized a bit for picking Fred Jackson, who was pitted against our beloved Pats’ defense. How’d that work out? This week, I’m picking the young Jets’ back with a similar style, Leon Washington. Washington’s pass-catching ability should lean towards a productive week against a New England defense that’s still finding its way. Yes, Thomas Jones will take some carries away from Washington, but he’ll still get enough touches to make him worthy of a start in your fantasy league.
With Pierre Thomas questionable for Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, you have to consider Mike Bell as a player with definite upside this week. After a week that saw Bell run wild over Detroit, posting 143 yards on the ground, second only to Adrian Peterson, Bell won’t fly under the radar any longer. If he’s still available on the waiver wire, snatch him up. Philly’s defense can be tough, but I see Bell having a productive day on Sunday.
Burleson has emerged as QB Matt Hasselbeck’s favorite target, as Week 1 saw Burleson haul in a team-high 7 catches for 74 yards and a TD in Seattle’s 28-0 win over the Rams. This week, the ‘Hawks face off against the 49ers, a team that Hasselbeck should shred again. If your fantasy team is thin at the receiver spot, take a chance on Burleson.
It’s rare that I pick anyone on a team that faces the always tough Pittsburgh defense. That just shows how highly I think of Chicago’s Earl Bennett. Bennett, a teammate of new Bears’ QB Jay Cutler back in their Vanderbilt days, has developed an early on-field rapport with Chicago’s new franchise quarterback. Bennett was 5th amongst all receivers in targets last week, and with Pittsburgh losing their All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu to injury, there’s a hole that Bennett should fit through nicely.
The general thought is that Watson’s Week 1 performance, a game that saw him catch two fourth quarter touchdowns that helped the Pats to their improbable Monday night win over the Bills, would be an anomaly, and that he couldn’t possibly keep this pace up. And don’t get me wrong, he won’t keep this pace up. But this week, I still see Watson as a better option than most at the tight end position. Watson has caught a TD pass in each of his last two games vs. New York, and now that he’s got the hot hand, Brady could continue to look his way. If you’ve got one of the “Big 4″ on your team, a.k.a. Gates, Witten, Gonzalez, or Dallas Clark, then obviously start them, but otherwise, consider the Pats’ #84 as a favorable option this week.
Sure, you probably spent your late first round or early second round pick on the Rams’ feature back. But this week, you’ve got to seriously consider looking elsewhere to fill your starting RB slot. Jackson, against a weaker Seattle front seven, could only muster 67 yards on the ground last week on just 16 carries. Facing Albert Haynesworth and the improving ‘Skins D this week doesn’t bode well.
After that awful performance last week, I’m staying away from all things Panther until further notice. In two games vs. Atlanta last season, Stewart put together just 70 rushing yards on only 20 carries and one TD. I see Carolina falling behind early here, forcing them to abandon the ground attack and relying on the total mess that is Jake Delhomme to get them back in it. Stay away from Panthers this week.
With LaDainian Tomlinson officially ruled out for Sunday’s game with Baltimore with an ankle injury, the workload falls to Darren Sproles, the shifty little back who although he has a ton of upside, I’m still not starting him this week. While the Ravens did give up 24 points to a weak Kansas City offense last week, their problem wasn’t on the ground, as they bottled up Chiefs’ RB Larry Johnson, limiting him to just 20 yards. Sproles may seem like a decent starting option, but don’t take the bait.
No catches last week for Berrian, who due to a slight hamstring injury and Brett Favre’s absence from most of training camp, hasn’t had an opportunity to develop a comfort level with his new QB. Favre faces a Detroit defense this week that’s arguably the worst in the NFL. They gave up 6 TD passes last week to Drew Brees and the Saints. Favre is no Drew Brees though, we know that. Favre will continue to be a game manager, keeping the ball on the ground with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, with less of a focus on the air attack. Keep Berrian on your bench this week, even though it’s tempting to start anyone who faces the Lions.
Houston looked pretty dreadful last week against the Jets defense. It doesn’t get any easier this week either, as the Texans face division rival Tennessee. Daniels has a lousy history against the Titans, with no TDs in his last six games vs. Tennessee, having topped 50 yards receiving just once in that span. Look elsewhere for your starting Week 2 TE, as Daniels isn’t your man.