You know the drill. Or wait, you probably don’t. Alright then, in this cleverly titled post I offer three of three things.
Three guys who could be just the best
1. Michael Vick (vs. SD): There’s little that’s at all imposing about the Chargers’ defense, especially after the offseason loss of Melvin Ingram. Dwight Freeney is 33 and well past his peak form following only five sacks last year (though in fairness, the early returns were rather impressive, as Freeney had nine quarterback disruptions last week according to Pro Football Focus). They need speed to counter both the tempo of the Eagles’ offense, and the quickness of Vick, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson. Simply put, that element is glaringly absent, which was especially evident last week when the Chargers gave up 346 passing yards and a completion percentage of 75 percent to Matt Schaub, both numbers that were drastic departures from his 2012 totals (250.5 yards per game, and an overall completion percentage of 64.3).
2.Victor Cruz (vs. DEN): Yes, there’s reason for apprehension here after Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie shut down Torrey Smith for much of the Thursday night opener last week. But Cruz’s burning and home run hitting can make him matchup proof when he and Eli Manning are clicking as they should. Cruz faced a difficult mathcup himself in Week 1 while lined up opposite either Brandon Carr or Morris Claiborne, and his rapidly-moving legs proved to be a challenging foe. After posting only 86 yards against the Cowboys over two games in 2012, he accumulated 118 yards on five catches in Week 1, including his third +70 yard catch over the Giants’ last eight regular-season games.
3. Anquan Boldin (@SEA): Boldin had five catches of 20 yards or more last week. How many did he have over 15 games last year? 17. The year before? 15. In fact, deep ballin’ and racking up yards after the catch has never been Boldin’s game, as his money is mostly made through physicality, and precise route running that allows him to find a hole in coverage and be a reliable target. Between 2008 and 2012, Boldin averaged only 12.4 +20 yarders per year, which makes his total through just one game this season in a new offense and with a new quarterback that much more remarkable. With Brandon Browner out, the Seahawks’ main weapon to match Boldin’s physicality is gone.
Three guys who could be just the worst
1. Roddy White and Julio Jones (vs. STL): There’s the injuries (though they’ll both play), but the case for lowered expectations here goes beyond sheer bruising. The Rams secondary was torched regularly and by multiple hands last week against the Cardinals, giving up 80 or more yards to three receivers (Andre Roberts, Larry Fitzgerald, and Michael Floyd). But that screams aberration from a secondary anchored on the outside by one of the league’s best young cornerback tandems in Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan, who combined for seven interceptions last year, and overall the Rams allowed an opposing passer rating of just 83.9. But what’s particularly problematic for fantasy purposes is the lack of scoring through the air given up by the Rams (just 16 touchdowns in 2012), and the lack of time Matt Ryan will have while frantically navigating a collapsing pocket behind a weak offensive line (the Rams averaged 3.25 sacks per game last year with 52 overall, and took Palmer down four times in Week 1).
2. Marques Colston (@TB): Revis Island is a cold and lonely place. Over his last three healthy seasons, opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of just 44.6 when targeting Revis, according to PFF. Toss in the addition of Dashon Goldson, and the Bucs’ secondary isn’t a friendly place. Colston will often post at least average numbers due to sheer volume, with Drew Brees asked to pass so much (he averaged 41.3 attempts per game last year). But this week and in this matchup, Colston has WR3 value at best.
3. C.J. Spiller (vs. CAR): The Carolina run defense is quickly appearing to be legit, as the kids say. There’s a whole lot of lateral speed between Luke Kuechly and Jon Beason, and last week that led to a whole lot of hurt for Marshawn Lynch, who was held to a plodding and thumping 2.5 yards per carry after averaging 5.0 per run last year. Combine that with the reemergence of Fred Jackson following Spiller’s own thumping in Week 1 against the equally scary all SEC SEC SEC Patriots linebackers, and there could be just as much pain for a guy who was often a top five pick just a few weeks ago.
Three sleeper plays
1. Marlon Brown (vs. CLE): Torrey Smith will draw coverage from the human blanket otherwise known as Joe Haden, but regardless, Brown has a slight height advantage over both of the Browns cornerbacks who could line up across from him. Like, say, about eight inches and 30 pounds. That height and leaping ability will be key, and it could lead to a swift uptick in targets with Haden busy shutting down Smith.
2.Fred Jackson (vs. CAR): Yes, I know there are a few sentences above expressing grave concern about the Bills’ run game this week against a tough Carolina front seven. But Jackson’s value primarily lies in his pass-catching ability, especially for you PPR-league kids. That makes him a fine flex option today, with check-down space often open, and E.J. Manuel still regularly relying on safe, underneath looks. Jackson was targeted five times last week, and he turned that into 41 receiving yards and eight fantasy points through the air in PPR leagues.
3. Leonard Hankerson (@GB): Hankerson played more snaps that Josh Morgan last Monday night (33 to 24), and Casey Heyward is still out, leaving a secondary that allowed those five +20 yarders to Boldin playing without its top shutdown option who intercepted six passes and had a passer rating against of 31.1 in his rookie year, which is just stupid. With the focus on Pierre Garcon and his speed on crossing routes, Hankerson could have some deep opportunities after catching five balls for 80 yards last week.