|Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets|
Yikes! After an opening week where yours truly was clicking on all cylinders, Week 2 went over like a fart in church. Let me quickly review my picks from last week, a set of players that can only be termed as “a major flop.”
Leon Washington: Just 58 rushing and 18 receiving yards, with no end zone trips
Mike Bell: 17 carries for 86 yards and a TD, before getting hurt
Nate Burleson: Although he was targeted 10 times, only hauled in 4 grabs for 46 yards
Earl Bennett: Just 2 catches for 22 yards total
Ben Watson: 3 grabs for 23 total yards
Steven Jackson: 17 carries for 104 yards, but no touchdowns
Jonathan Stewart: 65 rushing yards, 14 receiving yards
Darren Sproles: Held to just 26 yards on the ground, but had 7 catches for 124 yards and a receiving TD
Bernard Berrian: Just 46 receiving yards on 6 catches
Owen Daniels: 6 catches, including 1 TD grab, for 72 total yards
So after a week where I considered myself 8-for-10 for Week 1 accuracy, my percentage went down the toilet this past week. I’m giving myself credit for Mike Bell (heck, I’m not God, I can’t predict injuries), and chalk up Stewart and Berrian on my side too. Still, a 3-for-10 week isn’t what you want from a self-proclaimed “fantasy guru.”
But hey, let’s put that awful performance in the past, shall we? Let’s turn our attention to Week 3, a week where if you’re 2-0 in your fantasy league, you’re thinking to yourself, “This could finally be my year, schedule the parade!” Whereas, if you’re looking at an 0-2 deficit in this young season, you may be at the point where it’s, “If I don’t win this week, I’m giving up and trading my studs for draft picks next year!” And if you’re 1-1 like our hometown team, this week is where we separate the contenders from the pretenders.
A look now at my High Five and Low Five fantasy performers for Week 3.
Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on…well…me again. Last week, I had Sproles in my Low Five, as I figured he’d struggle against the always tough Ravens defense. He did not. So this week, I’m jumping on the Darren Sproles bandwagon, as he faces a Miami Dolphins team who, on a short week, will be flying cross-country for this matchup…never a good thing to have to do, especially for an 0-2 team looking to right the ship. I like Sproles this week with or without LaDainian Tomlinson in the lineup, as I think LT’s ankle boo-boo will limit his involvement with the offense, if he even suits up.
Hightower’s another running back facing a team on a short week, as the Cardinals host Indianapolis on NBC’s Sunday night game. Indy’s run defense has struggled in the opening two weeks, but their pass defense is among the league’s best. All signs point to a heavy dose of Tim Hightower in the Cards’ plans, both on the ground and through the air, as the second-year back leads the league with 15 receptions by a running back.
You could almost consider this week’s tilt in Tampa a home game for Eli Manning and the Giants, as I’m sure Raymond James Stadium will be packed with retired ex-New Yorkers turned Floridian old folks home dwellers. Manning’s Week 2 was a stellar one, as he led the G-Men past the Cowboys in prime time, putting a damper on the unveiling of the mammoth new Cowboys Stadium. With two new WR toys emerging as Eli’s go-to guys, in Mario Manningham and Steve Smith, the Giants’ passing attack should continue its winning ways against a weak Bucs’ D.
I could have chosen anyone on the offensive side of the ball in Baltimore this week, and they would’ve made me look like a genius, guaranteed. Until the Browns show me anything this season, I’ll be focusing on their opponents each and every week. This week’s lucky team: The Ravens. Flacco will throw. McGahee and Rice will run. And judging by last season, where in the two games vs. Cleveland, he hauled in 13 grabs for 178 yards, Derrick Mason will catch. If you have to start a formerly retired, now un-retired player on your fantasy team this week, start Mason. That other guy in Minnesota can do without your attention for a week.
What I just said about the Browns…yeah, go ahead and consider it a “ditto” for the Rams. St. Louis has scored just 7 points through the first two weeks of the year, averaging just 246 total yards of offense. Awful, with a capital “A”. On the flip side, while the Packers’ defensive rankings look mediocre on the surface (15th vs. the pass, 18th vs. the run), the Pack share the league lead with 6 INTs thus far, and facing Marc Bulger and the Rams, that turnover number should increase greatly this week. Not to mention, Green Bay will be trying to avenge last week’s humiliating home loss to the Bengals, who just put up 31 points at Lambeau Field in front of the Packer faithful.
“Wha-wha-what? Chris Johnson? The Chris Johnson that ran wild against the Texans last Sunday, burning them for nearly 300 all-purpose yards, including 3 scores…you want me to sit him? I spent my first round pick on him, fool!” And that might be what I deserve to be called come Monday: a fool. But I do not like Chris Johnson this week against that Jets defense that we Pats fans know all too well by now. The Jets’ have allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league thus far, along with shutting the door on the end zone, not allowing a TD on the ground thus far. This Jets-Titans battle will be nasty, and will be low scoring, but don’t bet on CJ leading your fantasy team to victory this week.
Across the field from Johnson on Sunday will be Thomas Jones, who will face a Titans’ rush defense that has yielded under 2 yards per carry to their first two opponents. While Jones did have some success against Tennessee last year, rushing for 96 yards and catching a TD pass, this season Jones has been losing touches to Leon Washington even more so than last season. I would sit Jones this week, look to your bench for a better matchup.
After a rough debut with his new team in Week 1, Cutler’s Bears rose to the occasion last week, eeking out a big win at home over the defending champion Steelers, 17-14. Despite the win, Cutler and the Bears’ offense still isn’t clicking like it should, and the lack of a reliable receiver has hurt Cutler and led to his soft start. Add to the equation this week’s opponent, the Seahawks, who have held opposing QBs to a lackluster 71.9 passer rating, 146.5 passing yards per game, and is one of just four teams who haven’t given up a passing TD yet this year. You may have thought you drafted an every-week fantasy starter in Cutler, but if you’ve got a viable option on your bench, give him careful consideration.
With other options emerging for the Giants’ air attack in Manningham and Smith, tight end Kevin Boss seems to be lost in the shuffle in New York. Boss has been targeted just 5 times through the first two games, hauling in 4 passes for 75 yards. Boss is no longer a reliable starter for your fantasy TE spot. Time to look elsewhere, as several other options at the position have emerged. At this point, I’m starting guys like Heath Miller, Dustin Keller, and Brent Celek over Boss.
At first, when you look at this week’s matchups, the Cowboys’ defense may look like a favorable fantasy choice, as they face Jake Delhomme and the woeful Carolina Panthers, who can’t seem to get out of their own way on offense. However, I’m staying away from Dallas this week. The ‘Boys are the only team in the league with no interceptions or sacks thus far this season, and the fact they’re giving up a dreadful 303 passing yards per game (worst in the NFC) is definitely cause for concern. I’m also thinking on Monday Night Football, this is a great chance for Delhomme to rise to the occasion and prove all his doubters wrong. I think he does it.