Evan Silva

Matchups

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Matchups: Cancel Out Cutler

Friday, September 17, 2010




Arizona @ Atlanta

The Atlanta front five was bullied by the Pittsburgh front seven in Week 1, with only Roddy White emerging for a big fantasy day. And boy did he. Seeing a league-high 23 targets, White hauled in 13 balls for 111 yards, good for 24.1-point week in PPR. Expect it to keep up. White quietly tied Andre Johnson for second in the NFL in 2009 targets. The Falcons move him around constantly, so White will see just as much of Cardinals RCB Greg Toler as he does LCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. ... The Steelers kept Tony Gonzalez quiet last week, but expect a rebound. With SS Adrian Wilson often selling out to blitz, the Cards let Rams tight ends catch eight balls in Week 1.

Matt Ryan, scoreless in the opener, returns home as just barely a top-12 QB. Though Pittsburgh's defense is better than Arizona's, Ryan led the Falcons deep into Steelers territory just once in Week 1 on the heels of a totally uninspiring preseason. ... On the other hand, Michael Turner falls into the category of slow starters who are primed to bounce back. The Falcons' offensive line does have the edge on the Cardinals' front seven in terms of run blocking versus run defense, as DE Darnell Dockett and LB Joey Porter are weak in setting the edge. Turner will be just fine.

At least the targets are there. The intended receiver on 15 of Derek Anderson's 41 throws in Week 1, Larry Fitzgerald managed to catch just three. One went for a 21-yard touchdown, of course, and he's always had a knack for scoring. Fitz led the NFL in per-week touchdown rate among non-running backs last season, and has double-digit TDs in three straight years. You can't bench him. ... Beanie Wells' start-ability is very much touch-and-go. He might be active for a limited role at Atlanta, but you'll want to wait until he's at full strength to use him.

With Anderson and Fitz struggling to connect, Steve Breaston capitalized against the Rams with a 7-132 line. Things certainly are breaking right for the first-year starter. Already D.A.'s favorite underneath receiver, Breaston's targets and snaps will rise with Early Doucet (sports hernia) out indefinitely. Breaston is an every-week starter. ... Consider grabbing undrafted, if high-upside rookie Stephen Williams in 12-team leagues. Moving into the third receiver role, Williams will play in all three-plus wideout sets. It's the formation Anderson had the most success with in Week 1.

4:05PM ET Games

St. Louis @ Oakland

Darren McFadden had a great opener (24 touches, 150 yards, TD), and now has the matchup to sustain success. Already leaky in run defense, St. Louis may be without run-stuffing DT Clifton Ryan (migraines) after letting the Beanie Wells-less Arizona backfield ring up 159 total yards and a score last week. The biggest positive from McFadden's Week 1? Broken tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, the skinny-legged back generated 56 of his 95 rush yards after contact. The absence of LG Robert Gallery (hamstring) hurts, but "DMC" is again a 20-plus touch threat with Michael Bush not expected to play. Consider McFadden a rock-solid RB2 with RB1 upside.

Gallery's loss affects McFadden, but especially hurts Oakland in pass protection. The Raiders' blind-side guard, Gallery is the glue between turnstile LT Mario Henderson and 6-foot-8 rookie Jared Veldheer, badly miscast as a center. Though St. Louis' pass rush isn't stellar, it will at least have some success against this rag-tag front five. Jason Campbell is not a sleeper QB1. ... Zach Miller led Raider non-running backs with eight Week 1 targets, while Louis Murphy ranked second with seven. Miller and Murphy are clearly going to be Campbell's top receivers this season, and Murphy in particular will regularly be a WR3 sleeper. Darrius Heyward-Bey was targeted twice.

Ideally, Sam Bradford's 57 Week 1 pass drops will go down as his rookie-year high. It will mean fewer targets for Mark Clayton on a regular basis, but it's impressive nonetheless that the former first-round pick took over as St. Louis' No. 1 receiver after one week of practice in Pat Shurmur's scheme. He may ultimately accumulate the most value of the Rams' wideouts, but this isn't the week to use him. Clayton played the vast majority of his snaps at split end (LWR) in Week 1, and if it stays that way he'll square off with Raiders RCB Nnamdi Asomugha for most of this one. For some perspective, the Titans didn't target Asomugha on a single pass last Sunday.

Laurent Robinson practiced fully Friday and appears to be over his ankle injury. He's a better bet than Clayton for big plays against Oakland's weak combination of CBs Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson. ... Slot man Danny Amendola should be on benches. He's playing only in three-receiver sets. ... Steven Jackson is Rotoworld's No. 6-ranked running back this week, and for good reason. The Raiders completely sold out to stop the run in Week 1, yet still served up 150 total yards and two scores to Chris Johnson. Fundamentally, Oakland is incapable of winning in the trenches.

Seattle @ Denver

The Seahawks have put together back-to-back fluky openers, outscoring their Week 1 foes 59-6 over the past two seasons. But just as it proved over the course of 2009, Seattle won't be any good. Especially on the offensive line -- which lost terrific pass-protecting RG Max Unger for the season last Sunday -- the Seahawks are among the league's weaker ball clubs. Matt Hasselbeck accounted for three TDs versus San Francisco, but it will likely end up as his season-best game. Mike Williams is disturbingly slow, Deion Branch still can't get open, and John Carlson is a fantasy backup. Even against a talent-deficient Denver defense, don't expect the Seahawks to keep it up.

The fantasy hype Williams generated after T.J. Houshmandzadeh's release was startling. He just isn't a player. Williams dropped two of his six targets in Week 1, and was easily caught from behind on a 35-yard catch, which will likely go down as his biggest play of 2010. It's no wonder that Seattle wants Vincent Jackson. ... The backfield is a nightmare situation for fantasy value. Not only did the offensive line lose Unger, the carry distribution was as follows: Julius Jones 8, Justin Forsett 7, Leon Washington 6. Avoid.

Though they shut down San Francisco's outside receivers last week (Alex Smith did help), the Seahawks' over-the-middle coverage struggled. 49ers TEs combined for 106 yards on 11 grabs. The Broncos don't use pass-catching tight ends, but slot man Eddie Royal could exploit the same weaknesses underneath. Recovered from his early-week toe injury, Royal is a quality WR3. ... Jabar Gaffney has a worse matchup than Royal for this one. Denver's RWR, Gaffney will face off primarily with Seahawks LCB Marcus Trufant. Trufant's terrific preseason carried over into Week 1, as he shut down his side of the field with three pass breakups and a 32-yard pick six.

Brandon Lloyd enjoyed his best game since 2008 last week at Jacksonville, catching five balls for a game-high 117 yards. Unfortunately, Lloyd's snaps will decrease going forward with first-round pick Demaryius Thomas (foot) progressing quickly. Don't bet on consistency from the always-inconsistent receiver. ... Aside from Trufant and FS Earl Thomas in the back end, the Seahawks' most promising Week 1 development came in run defense. Seattle held San Francisco running backs to 39 yards on 18 carries (2.2 YPC). Knowshon Moreno qualifies as a low-end RB2.

4:15PM ET Games

Houston @ Washington

Arian Foster's breakout games took place in Weeks 16 and 17 of last season, when he totaled 242 yards and three touchdowns. So, really, his big Week 1 was in the works for awhile. The real surprise: A Houston team that ranked fourth in the NFL in 2009 pass attempts deciding to run 42 times compared to 17 throws. Don't get used to Foster leading the NFL in weekly workload, but he's an every-week RB1. Entering Week 2, no offensive line in football is run blocking better than Foster's. ... Owen Daniels is playing 40-plus snaps per week again, though his passing game role is to be determined. He was targeted twice on Opening Day. Daniels needs to be benched.

Matt Schaub will throw more going forward, but Washington isn't a favorable matchup. Essentially the same unit that finished as a top-eight pass defense in 2009 held Tony Romo to one TD and 6.0 yards per pass attempt in Week 1. Romo's career YPA is 8.0. Schaub can't be benched, but expectations can't be high, either. SS LaRon Landry is playing like a man possessed. ... The trick is to find which receiver will square off the most with LCB DeAngelo Hall, who is the weak link in Washington's secondary in terms of coverage. Miles Austin (10-146-1) ate Hall alive last week. Andre Johnson played on the offensive right side in Week 1. ... As the opener helped show, Jacoby Jones (six targets) is a good bet to out-produce Kevin Walter (two targets) this season.

This game projects to be high scoring, so it will be hard to bench starters on either side. (Unless their name is Joey Galloway). The Texans' young secondary looked quite vulnerable in the opener. It was against the unstoppable Peyton Manning, of course, but Texans LCB Kareem Jackson has a lot of developing to do, and RCB Glover Quin unraveled against Austin Collie when moving to "cover" the slot in three-receiver formations. Santana Moss will go against Jackson for most of Sunday's game. Dallas Clark caught 11 balls and scored once on Houston last week, boding well for Chris Cooley. Cooley plays a Clark-like role in OC Kyle Shanahan's offense.

Clinton Portis' burst is clearly gone, and Washington's remade line is opening precious few holes. Portis averaged 3.5 yards per carry in Week 1 against Dallas, and it drops to 2.5 if you throw out his hard-charging, 18-yard burst. Portis is the feature back in an offense that may flirt with 30-plus points on Sunday, however, so you could do worse at a flex position in a TD-heavy league. Portis won't get 100 yards in a game all year, most likely, but there are weaker bets to find the end zone.



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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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