Evan Silva

Matchups

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Matchups: Miles Evokes Smiles

Friday, September 24, 2010




Tennessee @ NY Giants

A week after flashing 2008 form by bottling up Carolina's Double-Trouble backfield for 74 yards on 21 carries (3.5 YPC), the Giants reverted to their 2009 ways in Week 2, as the far less talented Colts ground game gashed them for 161 yards and a score on 36 totes (4.5 YPC). The G-Men were dropping seven into coverage, but they've yet to earn recognition as a stout defense. Chris Johnson can't be benched. ... Kenny Britt reappeared for a 5-41 line in Week 2 after a catch-less opener. Six of his seven targets came via Kerry Collins, however, and Britt is still only playing in three-receiver sets. You can't drop Britt's talent, but he's not playing enough to be start-worthy.

Vince Young returns from his surprise Week 2 benching as Tennessee's clear-cut starter. The Giants have faced two completely opposite passing offenses (Carolina, Indianapolis) so far, so it's difficult to gauge the effectiveness of their pass defense. Either way, it's a wait-and-see week for V.Y., who hasn't responded well to past benchings. ... Titans WR/TE targets on the year: Nate Washington 13, Britt 7, Justin Gage 6, Bo Scaife 6. Washington, who's scored in back-to-back weeks, remains the Titans' only usable receiving option in fantasy leagues. And he's only a WR3.

Hakeem Nicks admits his ankle wasn't 100 percent in Week 2, but his ridiculous talent still shined through enough to whip Colts top cornerback Kelvin Hayden down the right sideline for a 31-yard touchdown, giving Nicks his fourth score of the season. The 2009 first-round pick is now off the injury report and 100 percent. He'll retake his every-down split end role (and high-upside WR2 status) with Mario Manningham moving back into a situational deep threat role. Manningham isn't a fantasy option in this one. ... Through two weeks, the Titans rank No. 1 in pass defense. Their safety play is light years ahead of where it was last year, with FS Michael Griffin returning to his 2008 Pro Bowl form and Chris Hope bringing physicality. Eli Manning is a mere low-end QB1.

New York's Steve Smith hasn't taken a backseat to Nicks just yet, pacing the Giants in catches (9) and targets (17). Despite the unfavorable on-paper matchup, Smith remains a solid WR2 in PPR leagues. He's more of a WR3 in non-PPR. ... As if his lack of productivity wasn't enough (3.3 YPC, no touchdowns), Brandon Jacobs' helmet-throwing debacle will likely land him in coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse for the foreseeable future. Don't be surprised to see Danny Ware play ahead of him on Sunday. ... Ahmad Bradshaw is averaging 19.5 touches for 91 yards per game with one touchdown. The Titans have been more vulnerable on the ground than in the air so far.

Detroit @ Minnesota

Not that you need convincing to use Adrian Peterson, but he led all running backs with 33 touches in Week 2, and will be the centerpiece of Minnesota's offense going forward. Through two weeks, Detroit has permitted a whopping 437 total yards and five TDs to opposing RBs. Peterson is on pace for 64 receptions, which would be a career high. ... A.P. handcuffers should note that Albert Young was a healthy scratch last week. Rookie Toby Gerhart has taken over as Peterson's clear-cut backup and had five touches against Miami. ... Visanthe Shiancoe has led the Vikes in targets in two straight weeks, looking more athletic in the open field than ever. He's an every-week TE1.

The imploding Bernard Berrian isn't even a WR3 option in his most favorable matchup all year. He just doesn't fight for the ball. Two of Berrian's five targets were picked off by former first-round bust Jason Allen in Week 2. At least he made an effort to tackle Allen after the second. And Berrian wonders why Brett Favre won't throw to him. With a knee injury, he's totally hands off. ... Percy Harvin is expected to play despite recurring hip and migraine issues. Harvin possesses major upside any time he's on the field. He also presents risk. Until we see a hint of consistency, he's a mere WR3. ... Favre is off to one of the slowest starts of his career, but remains hard to sit against the Lions, even with no receivers. Only 2-of-32 teams have given up more passing yards.

Losers of 21 straight on the road, the Lions enter this one with a new offensive centerpiece. NFL TD leader Jahvid Best caught more passes (9) than any tailback in football last week. The Vikes' run defense remains stout (3.7 YPC allowed), but looks vulnerable on the perimeter after giving up nearly half of their Week 2 rushing yards to Ronnie Brown on a 51-yard run off left tackle, and with WLB Ben Leber nursing a bad back. Lions coach Jim Schwartz knows a mismatch when he sees one, and Best is his best way to exploit them. There isn't a hotter running back going. ... The Eagles took Tony Scheffler out of last week's game by shadowing him with a defensive back. The result? A fluky seven-catch, 108-yard outing for Brandon Pettigrew. Don't expect that to keep up.

Calvin Johnson will see lots of double coverage going forward -- especially with Nate Burleson out (high ankle sprain) -- but he's at least producing with Hill under center. Since replacing Matthew Stafford at halftime of Week 1, Hill has targeted Megatron 20 times in six quarters, producing eight hookups for 95 yards and a touchdown. It should be 9-120-2, of course. The Vikes remain beatable in the secondary, with CB Chris Cook set to make his NFL debut ... Hill did much of his Week 2 damage (335 yards, two TDs) in garbage time. He's a two-QB league option. ... Bryant Johnson will start for Burleson. Johnson was perhaps the NFL's worst starting receiver in 2009.

Cleveland @ Baltimore

Multiple tweeters have expressed concern that Ray Rice may be in for a "mediocre year" with no touchdowns through two weeks. Rice does lose goal-line carries to Willis McGahee, which is the primary reason he wasn't considered closer to Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson in fantasy drafts. Expect a breakout game against the Browns. Coach John Harbaugh is on record as saying Rice will receive a season-high workload in Week 3, and Baltimore will dominate in its home opener against an inept Cleveland team. The Browns rank 25th in run defense, and were exposed by Chiefs running backs for 164 total yards last Sunday. The Ravens' line is far better than Kansas City's, and Rice is a much better runner than Week 2 feature carrier Thomas Jones.

Joe Flacco will undoubtedly improve on his Week 2 four-pick implosion, but he's got a long way to go to realize his alleged breakout year. His mechanics, particularly on short touch throws, are all off kilter. Harbaugh is poised to go run heavy against a Browns team playing the pass well (2:3 TD-to-INT ratio against), so Flacco should only be viewed as a QB2 until he shows something. ... Anquan Boldin is still an every-week starter. Among Baltimore receivers, he's dominating targets with 18, while Derrick Mason (11) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (10) are all but canceling each other out. Todd Heap has 17, though 11 came in the opener and he had a mere 35 yards in Week 2.

The Browns will really struggle to generate first downs in the Ravens' home opener. Week 2 starting tailback Jerome Harrison (thigh, wrist) is questionable, and Baltimore won't struggle to bottle up the non-elusive running styles of Peyton Hillis. Hillis might score if the Browns get down to the one-yard line, but you can't bank on that happening. Baltimore hasn't allowed a rushing TD yet. Should Harrison not play, James Davis would take his role in the value-draining committee.

Seneca Wallace draws another start with Jake Delhomme (high ankle sprain) still out indefinitely. Wallace has never started a game against the Ravens. Make sure to use their fantasy defense. ... Hillis and Ben Watson are tied for the team lead in receptions (7), while backup TE Evan Moore leads the way in yards (87), with all of them coming in the opener. Mohamed Massaquoi had one catch for nine yards in Week 2. Joshua Cribbs might start if Brian Robiskie (hamstring) can't, but Cribbs is averaging 4.5 offensive touches per week. Avoid the Browns' receiver/tight end corps.

Cincinnati @ Carolina

I was startled this week to notice a column on a competing website forecast the demise of Steve Smith due to Jimmy Clausen's insertion. Foolishness. The writer must not have seen Matt Moore play in Weeks 1 and 2. The Panthers have done a terrific job of double-coverage prevention on Smith's behalf, working him often in the slot, where double teams are nearly impossible. He's scored in back-to-back games, and both TDs came on slot routes. ... Clausen may struggle as all rookie quarterbacks do, but his strength is delivering the ball to the open man. Clausen led the nation in passer-efficiency rating among pro-style QBs last year, completing 68 percent with a 28:4 TD-to-INT ratio. It took five minutes for Clausen to rack up as many completions in Week 2 as Moore did in three-plus quarters. And all Smith needs is completions. He'll do the rest.

He's not a fantasy option yet, but the arrow is starting to point up for Jonathan Stewart. His carry total jumped from five to eight in Week 2, and he out-produced DeAngelo Williams per-attempt (5.4 to 3.2). Stewart is fighting for touches. They're not all the way there yet, but they're coming. ... Though he's yet to find the end zone, D-Will needs to stay in lineups even against a formidable Bengals front seven. Williams is getting the ball 18 times a game, and is far and away the best bet for catches in Carolina's backfield. The Panthers will lean on Williams in Clausen's first start.

Carolina is allowing just 3.0 yards per carry while getting impressive play from no-name DTs Derek Landri and Ed Johnson, but it's doubtful to last. The inexperienced, undersized front four is bound to tire, forcing LBs Jon Beason and Dan Connor to make more of their tackles downfield. Keep Cedric Benson going. ... Jordan Shipley needs a Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens injury to be a fantasy starter, but he's certainly roster-worthy in PPR leagues. He's got five catches in back-to-back games. ... After a six-catch, one-touchdown opener, Jermaine Gresham confirmed he'll be another inconsistent rookie tight end with just 15 yards in Week 2. He's a fantasy reserve.

A stout unit in 2009, Carolina's back four has disappointed in 2010. Despite matchups with the less-than-stellar passing offenses of Tampa and New York (NFC), the Panthers surrendered a league-high five touchdowns through the air and an 8.0 yards-per-pass attempt average, way up from 6.6 last season. DC Ron Meeks should get it figured out (he doesn't lack talent), but it's worth striking while the iron his hot. Chad Ochocinco is playing like he's in a contract year (he is) as the No. 8 fantasy receiver so far. Terrell Owens has been steady, hauling in 10 balls for 110 yards. ... Carson Palmer is still a mid-range QB2. He ranks 16th among QBs in fantasy points.


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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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