We’re almost exactly a week removed from the Giants being beaten into the ground behind the woodshed, while Eli Manning was fed his weekly helping of grass (it’s high in protein, I think). Manning was sacked seven times by the Panthers in a 38-0 pummeling, and predictably with that minimal protection and little time to perform basic functions in the pocket like, I dunno, breathe, he did nothing for you, the teary-eyed Manning fantasy owner. Manning finished with only 119 passing yards at a pace of just 5.2 per attempt, while completing 52.2 percent of his passes.
Thankfully, most of you avoided the doom that was Manning last week, as he was started in only 16.9 percent of ESPN leagues. If you’d like to not hate yourself, let’s keep his start rate at about that same level again today.
A matchup against the Chiefs is even less appealing, though Brandon Flowers being out with a knee injury makes life a little roomier for both Manning and Hakeem Nicks, and your sit/start decision with the latter is much easier now after he was targeted just once last week, and finished with zeroes elsewhere. With Manning, though, the decision to keep him saddled to the bench comes back to one simple word: pressure.
Over the first two weeks, Manning was able to at least avoid being completely awful by becoming a yards compiler, passing for a combined 812 yards against Dallas and Denver. In reality, he’s Exhibits A, B, and C for why passing yards are a poor way to measure the quality of a quarterback, because a large chunk of those yards (362) came in garbage time against the Broncos. But a week earlier Manning was still able to finish with 28 fantasy points due to both his yardage and touchdowns (four) despite throwing three interceptions, so there’s recent precedent for Peyton’s little bro being a fine fantasy option even in weeks when his mistakes are plentiful.
The problem with that thinking both last week and this week is time. Specifically, the time to deliver a football deep downfield to compile yards that Manning won’t have.
He’ll be playing behind an offensive line that’s missing two starters due to injury with Chris Snee and David Baas out, while David Diehl is returning from a thumb boo boo and will play in only a limited capacity. So a battered and thoroughly bruised unit which has already given up 22 quarterback hits is going against a Chiefs front seven that leads the league in sacks with 15, 7.5 of which have come from Justin Houston. That’s some serious pain, and it includes six sacks on Michael Vick last week, who plays in front of an equally horrendous offensive line that’s given up 19 QB hits.
Flowers being sidelined helps, but for Manning to pick on Dunta Robinson and get the yardage that will make him relevant, he’ll need time. That’s not something the Chiefs pass rushers give out often.
More stray lineup thoughts and words of warning
- Originally the main matter of discussion in this post was going to be Terrelle Pryor and his impending superhuman day against the Redskins, the not-so proud owners of the league’s 31st ranked pass defense, and they also have the same sluggish front seven that was carved up by the similarly mobile Michael Vick back in Week 1. But Pryor’s brain might not be fully recovered from its scrambling last week, and with conflicting reports regarding his playing status (the San Francisco Chronicle says he’ll be active, while Adam Schefter says otherwise), there’s far too much risk with the Raiders playing in a late kickoff. Sadly, you’ll have to stay away, and for those of you with the manhood to still start Pryor and possibly get a top five performance out of him, you’re all heroes.
- I mentioned this Friday in my Defensive Streaming manifesto (hey, read that too, thanks), but I’ll repeat these A.J. Green vs. Joe Haden numbers again here because they’re rather encouraging: in three games against Haden, Green has 11 catches for 286 yards and three touchdowns.
- SUPER SLEEPER ALERT (the large letters mean this is important): with Miles Austin ruled out due to a hamstring issue, rookie Terrence Williams could easily go all Kevin Ogletree on us in a highly appealing matchup against a Chargers secondary that’s giving up 340.7 passing yards per game, a league worst. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten were already set to go kaboom in this matchup too, but now their Week 4 ceiling is infinitely higher with the likely increase in targets.
- Eventually C.J. Spiller will bust out, and consistently produce performances similar to what we saw in Week 2 (103 rushing yards against the Panthers) and not the combined 50 yards sandwiching that week, including a disastrous nine yards on 10 carries last Sunday. But expect more plodding and sluggishness today against a Ravens defense allowing only 3.2 yards per carry.
- In the other backfield during that game, Ray Rice is expected to play, and he’s certainly the sort of running back who’s difficult to bench if he’s playing. And under normal circumstances we’d be projecting an explosion from a versatile threat like Rice against a Bills defense that’s still doing a sieve imitation against the run, allowing 155.0 rushing yards per game. But since he did only limited work in practice all week and was a true game-time decision, Rice’s workload could be significantly lightened. You’re starting him, but even in this delicious matchup you may only get RB2-type numbers, while Bernard Pierce still maintains flex value. Hell, if you own them both (and if you own Rice, you likely handcuffed Pierce), starting Rice and then flexing Pierce isn’t at all crazy.
- You’re never worried about Calvin Johnson, mostly because he’s Calvin Johnson. But there was a nervous case for decreased expectations this week and possibly numbers that are a little less Calvin Johnson-y if Bears blanket man Charles Tillman was set to shadow him, as Megatron only had five games with less than 100 receiving yards last year, and two of them came against the man known as Peanut. Combined Tillman held Johnson to only 106 yards over two games, including a season low 34 yards in Week 6.n So yes, that’s normally a little scary, but it’s much less so today since Tillman isn’t at full health after missing practice this week with a groin injury, and then even less after it was revealed that he won’t be covering Johnson exclusively.