So it’s the third week now, and hope has been restored, light has been located, and what was lost when minds melted and heads asploded after Week 1 has been found. Serenity now, serenity now.
That will last for, oh, 24 more hours. Week 3, ahoy…
The top three favorable matchups
1. Darren McFadden vs. Pittsburgh: Yes, I played this card last week with Shonn Greene. And yes, it failed spectacularly, with Greene only able to get 21 rushing yards on 11 carries against Pittsburgh even in the absence of James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. They’re both out again this week, and Greene’s inability to capitalize last week speaks more to his overall crappiness. McFadden is a far superior runner, and while the Steelers’ run D is still solid with the very capable Jason Worilds and Chris Carter filling in for Harrison, Run DMC should definitely show some life this week after totaling just 57 yards over the season’s first two games.
2. C.J. Spiller @ Cleveland: I’m only giving Spiller and McFadden numbers for the sake of numerical consistency, because really, both matchups here could be equally favorable. You’re aware of Spiller’s absurdity by now and his 364 all-propose yards over just two games, and the Browns are a week removed from giving up 142 yards on the ground to LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick.
3. Michael Bush vs. St. Louis: I enjoy variety in everything from fountain pop to jiffy pop, so it pains to go all RB in the top three this week. But the matchups are just so damn good, as even a hobbling Jamaal Charles was briefly considered for this spot as he’s up against a New Orleans front seven that couldn’t stop a monkey riding backwards on a pig. Bush is even more enticing since his time replacing Matt Forte begins against one of the league’s worst run defenses from last year that’s assumed that title early again this year.
The top three unfavorable matchups
1. Vincent Jackson vs. Dallas: Two weeks ago, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne held both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz to less than 60 yards, and less than 10 yards per reception. And last week despite the Cowboys’ embarrassing showing in the northwest, no Seattle pass catcher had over 50 yards. This won’t end well for Jackson.
2. Adrian Peterson vs. San Francisco: He’s confident, because he’s paid to be confident. But when the 49ers faced an elite rusher last year, Marshawn Lynch’s 107 rushing yards in Week 16 was the outlier, and far from the norm. Ray Rice was held to just 59 yards, while LeSean McCoy had only 18. It took two tries for Lynch to crack the Niners defense too, as on his first attempt earlier in the season he finished with only 33 yards.
3. Tom Brady @ Baltimore: Peyton Manning nearly clinched this spot with his almost equally unfavorable matchup on short rest against a Houston front seven that had 44 sacks last year, and already has six through two games this season. But Brady has lost more battles than he’s won against Ed Reed, and his passer rating of just 57.5 during last January’s playoff game was his lowest rating in a game since two years earlier in the playoffs when it was 49.1 and he threw three picks. His opponent then? The Ravens.
The guy you should bench
Obvious guy says obvious thing and tells you to bench Chris Johnson since he’s only registered 21 more rushing yards than, oh I dunno, you through two weeks, and he’s continually getting rocked behind the line of scrimmage.
Actually, this is a more difficult decision than it appears to be, as Johnson is running against the Lions defense, a mediocre unit on the ground last year after giving up 123.1 yards per game (23rd). Also, since you likely drafted Johnson in the first round, your focus in the mid rounds was elsewhere, meaning your RB3 option could be something much less than appealing.
Still, if it’s possible, sit down CJ, and wait on him. His problems are partly his own doing, but they’re also far out of his control due to the feeble offensive line he’s running behind.
The potential weather concerns
In case you still haven’t mastered cloud psychokinesis even after the 30-minute tutorial we posted last week, I licked my finger and stuck it high into the air to gauge the potential weather concerns for Sunday. After that yielded only public disgust and shame, I then checked the weather reports from people who look at weather radars and the like, as is our regular practice.
There will be 18 mph gusts in Cleveland Sunday, which could mean less Brandon Weeden and more Trent Richardson. In Miami there’s a 50 percent chance of rain that could come with thunder and lightening and such, making Reggie Bush owners smile. And it could get a little gusty in Baltimore too with 13 mph winds.
The stat(s) that will make you happy
Remember those scary times when we thought Maurice Jones-Drew might be unavailable until Week 11, and therefore a fantasy non-factor? Ahhh August ledge jumping. You’re still almost as much fun as September free falling, and December sad turkey binging.
Now the rust is sufficiently chipped away, and MJD enters each week expecting a full workload not necessarily by design, but out of necessity since Rashad Jennings is still out with a knee injury and is listed as doubtful after missing practice Friday. Jones-Drew was able to average five yards per carry against a solid Houston rush defense a week ago, but now against Indianapolis he may run across the country five times, just because he can.
Last year Jones-Drew had 283 rushing yards over two games against the Jaguars’ division rivals, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
The best case scenario for…Jake Locker
Kenny Britt plays like Kenny Britt in his first true game back from his suspension and injury after being limited last week, and Chris Johnson is able to move the pile even a little bit against Detroit’s sound but lesser run defense than the two Tennessee has opposed thus far (New England and San Diego, two teams in the top five in run defense after giving up a combined 208 yards).
There may be some serious star wishing going on here. But if both of those things happen, Locker could be a decent play in deep two QB leagues.
Bold-ish prediction for Locker: 265 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 17 rushing yards
The worst case scenario for…Ray Rice
A strengthened Patriots run defense after the addition of Dont’a Hightower and his 85 tackles (11 for a loss) during his final year at Alabama withstands its first strong test after weak challenges from Tennessee and Arizona over the first two weeks. Rice is still productive, but his per carry average then drops substantially from his early and very lofty pace of 6.4 over the first two weeks, and he fails to score.
Bols-ish prediction for Rice: 78 rushing yards, 43 receiving yards
The guy who’s currently sleeping
Dustin Keller is listed as questionable, but his chances of playing Sunday against Miami took a gut punch when he wasn’t able to practice Friday due to his still sore hamstring. That means this week we have two very deep sleepers on the Jets’ TE depth chart, because some combination of Konrad Reuland and Jeff Cumberland will be filling in again a week after the Dolphins let Raiders tight end Brandon Myers — an equal nobody — catch eight balls for 86 yards to lead the Raiders’ pass catchers in a loss.
Myers’ Week 2 numbers were both easily career single-game highs, as his previous personal best was a three-reception game with 33 yards last year.
The appropriate song lyrics of the week
The 49ers’ run defense doesn’t scare Adrian Peterson. It scares his owners, though, and it scares them real good. That’s because the Niners are all about team above all, suplexes, DDTs, and leg drops.
“Power like the bear, but quick like the cat
Put 2 and 2 together
Put your face on the mat
You count the stars while the ref counts three
Hope you like to look at ceilings
‘Cause that’s all you’re gonna see”
– The Nation of Domination