Evan Silva

Matchups

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Matchups: Cancel Out Cutler

Friday, September 17, 2010




Kansas City @ Cleveland

After a 12-touch opener, Jamaal Charles owners are wondering: Will he be getting the ball more? The answer certainly is YES, though the question is irrelevant for Week 2. Charles turned those 12 touches into 100 total yards and a touchdown, and now squares off with a Browns team he lit up for 170 yards and a score last season. Cleveland is also expected to be without DL Shaun Rogers (ankle, hip), who according to Pro Football Focus graded out as the team's best lineman in Week 1. ... The Chiefs' favorite for inside carries remains nominal starter Thomas Jones, who averaged 3.3 yards per touch compared to Charles' 8.3 last Monday night. Jones isn't an option.

The Chiefs' passing game got off to a disturbingly slow start, producing 68 yards through the air against a beatable Chargers secondary in Week 1. Hard rain and a run-first mindset played roles, of course, but Dwayne Bowe refused to fight for in-traffic passes, and had a pair of drops. Don't rely on him yet as more than a WR3. ... Chris Chambers, struggling to separate, was even less visible than Bowe, and was out-produced by rookie TE Tony Moeaki. Until Matt Cassel shows he can consistently complete passes into tight windows -- which may never happen -- Chambers is hands-off in fantasy. Though extremely injury prone at Iowa, Moeaki is a terrific Dynasty stash.

Drawing the Week 1 start and seeing 13 touches to Jerome Harrison's 10, Peyton Hillis emerged as the top fantasy play in Cleveland's backfield. Harrison was also yanked in the red zone after his lone big play of the game -- a 39-yard carry -- in favor of Hillis, who promptly scored a 10-yard touchdown. Not only is Hillis the favorite for touches, he's the heavy favorite for goal-line carries. He's a sneaky flex in Week 2 against a Chiefs defense that will be minus mammoth DE Tyson Jackson (knee). ... Harrison lit up K.C. for an NFL-record 286 rushing yards in Week 15 last year, but the coaching staff clearly sees him as a mere changeup back. Use him at your own risk.

It's too early to call K.C.'s defense legit, but much-improved play from DE Glenn Dorsey and ILB Derrick Johnson, in addition to constant double teams drawn by OLB Tamba Hali in Week 1 leave room for hope. They'll look even better against a Browns offense that plans to either start a hobbled Jake Delhomme (ankle) at quarterback, or scrambler Seneca Wallace. Wallace, the probable favorite to start, can create with his legs at times, but this will continue to be a passing offense to avoid outside of split end Mohamed Massaquoi. Massaquoi, likely to mostly face off with RCB Brandon Carr -- the weaker of Kansas City's young corner duo -- is a worthwhile WR3.

Tampa Bay @ Carolina

With their QB coming off a concussion and miserable first start, the Panthers undoubtedly will renew their run-heavy approach versus a Bucs team against whom they rang up 424 rush yards in two 2009 meetings. Jonathan Stewart's five-carry opener was incredibly disappointing, but he should resume hovering around 12-15 touches and deserves consideration as a flex (not low-end RB2). Carolina's clear-cut feature back in the opener, DeAngelo Williams is confidently an RB1.

I'd normally call a Steve Smith-Aqib Talib matchup worth avoiding in fantasy leagues. Talib, used to "shadow" No. 1 wideouts in 2009, held Smitty to just four receiving yards in Week 5 last year. Whether the Bucs continue to employ the cover scheme while reverting to Raheem Morris' Tampa-2 style remains to be seen, however. And with Smith coming off a terrific 75-yard, one-touchdown opener, he can't be benched. Morris may take a page out of Rex Ryan's book, keeping Talib only on his natural left side in his first game back from suspension. A split end, Smith usually lines up on the opposite end.

Rookie Mike Williams is the real deal, already appearing to overtake Kellen Winslow as Tampa Bay's top receiver. Williams immediately assumed the team's target lead in Week 1, seeing nine (Winslow was next with six) and just narrowly missing out on a six-catch, two-touchdown game, if not for Josh Freeman overthrowing the open first-year wideout for a 33-yard score in the fourth quarter. Carolina, breaking in a new free safety and nickel back, let the Giants go for 8.8 yards per pass attempt and three Eli Manning TDs last Sunday. Williams is a legit every-week WR3.

Freeman continues to progress, though he's only a moderate two-QB league play until he gets over his preseason thumb fracture. Until his accuracy improves, he's a better bet to hit Williams for run-after-catch opportunities than on the fly. ... Carolina's Cover 2 isn't designed to run plug, but the unit came to play in Week 1. Holding Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs to 3.75 YPC combined, the Panthers quietly present a tough matchup for Cadillac Williams. And with the Bucs vowing to increase their other running backs' roles, Williams is only a low-end RB2/flex in this one.

Philadelphia @ Detroit

The loss of Matthew Stafford (shoulder) deals a huge blow to Detroit's big-play potential, as the drop-off in arm strength to Shaun Hill is dramatic. But let's not forecast a disappointing year for Calvin Johnson just yet. In Week 1, Megatron was sitting on one target and zero catches prior to Stafford's second-quarter injury. Johnson finished with 10 targets, four grabs and 45 yards, and would've had a 5-70-1 line had his late-game 25-yard touchdown been ruled a catch. Nate Burleson (four targets, one reception) likely is a lost cause. Megatron is an every-week starter.

Despite a run-heavy game plan (as confirmed publicly by Calvin Johnson), catch-first TE Tony Scheffler played over half of Detroit's Week 1 snaps -- something he did just twice all last year in Denver -- and led the Lions in targets. He's on the cusp of TE1 value. ... Jahvid Best's two Week 1 TDs could be construed as fluky considering he totaled 36 yards, but the seven- and four-yard scores were confirmation that he is Detroit's red-zone back. Best's matchup is also improved by the absence of MLB Stewart Bradley (concussion), without whom Philadelphia's run defense looked lost against Green Bay. Overmatched substitute Omar Gaither is Bradley's replacement.

The Detroit front seven isn't a joke anymore, as it proved in an at-times dominant Week 1 effort at Chicago. The Lions still let Matt Forte ring up 201 yards and two scores, though, and now face an invigorated LeSean McCoy. Finally exhibiting decisiveness inside the tackles, McCoy averaged 5.0 yards per carry in Week 1 against a Green Bay club that led the league in run defense last year. Also receiving red-zone carries over Mike Bell, McCoy will be relied upon more heavily with Kevin Kolb (concussion) out. McCoy is a serious threat for 150 total yards and a touchdown.

Kolb may get his job back when healthy, but Michael Vick can toughen Andy Reid's decision in a prime matchup against the NFL's worst secondary. With 100 rushing yards always possible, he's a top-ten QB1. ... Vick's insertion doesn't doom Philly's other skill players, and he'll be an upgrade if you consider how inept Kolb appeared. There are positives all around: Vick has always loved throwing to tight ends, dating back to Alge Crumpler (Brent Celek); Vick is an aggressive and big-armed, if inaccurate passer (DeSean Jackson); and Vick completed his lone TD to Jeremy Maclin against Green Bay. Vick's targets in Week 1: Jackson 7, Jason Avant 7, Maclin 4, Celek 3.

Chicago @ Dallas

The Bears have problems at left tackle. Chris Williams' poor preseason carried over into Week 1, as he was regularly dominated by Kyle Vanden Bosch (game-high 11 tackles) and served up a sack to Turk McBride. With DeMarcus Ware on tap, it's a wait-and-see week for Jay Cutler and the Bears' deep passing game, despite a 372-yard opener. This one has potential for disaster, and deep threat Johnny Knox's primary cover man will be Dallas RCB Mike Jenkins. In Week 1, Knox managed 52 yards against Lions RCB Chris Houston. Jenkins is way better than Houston.

Matt Forte is filling the "Marshall Faulk role" for Mike Martz, and executing brilliantly. Forte caught two touchdowns in Week 1, the first on an 89-yard screen, and the second after Forte beat Julian Peterson on a long 28-yard fade. Forte got 24 touches last Sunday, and will be difficult to bench regardless of matchups. ... Devin Aromashodu, who led the team with ten targets against Detroit, is the Bears receiver to use in this one. He's playing often in the slot, and Cutler will struggle to go vertical at Dallas. Devin Hester (one Week 1 target) and Greg Olsen (37 yards) are bench fodder.

If you didn't catch my drift, I really like the Dallas defense this week. Martz can't help himself from taking deep shots, and DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer will make him pay. ... The Cowboys' running game should be avoided until further notice. Bears MLB Brian Urlacher was among the NFL's most dominant Week 1 defenders, and Dallas' carry split was as follows at Washington: Marion Barber 8-39, Felix Jones 8-38, Tashard Choice 5-18. Barber is the best bet if you're desperate for a flex or low-end RB2, but the workloads are too muddled for any reliability.

Poor playcalling from Jason Garrett mixed with Alex Barron's ineptness resulted in a disappointing Week 1 for Tony Romo. Don't despair. Rather than win, Garrett's priority appeared to be to "break in" Dez Bryant, while taking shots to only Miles Austin. It was an odd, horizontal attack from a Don Coryell disciple. Expect more aggression against a Bears defense that generated no Week 1 push aside from Julius Peppers while playing musical chairs at safety. You already know Austin is a WR1. The Bears let Tony Scheffler loose for six catches last Sunday, boding well for Jason Witten. Bryant (13 Week 1 targets) is an every-week WR3. Roy Williams is bench material.


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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