Evan Silva


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Matchups: Miles Evokes Smiles

Friday, September 24, 2010

Oakland @ Arizona

As noted by Pro Football Focus, Derek Anderson didn't complete a single throw of 10-plus yards in Week 2, showing even worse accuracy than in the opener. D.A. isn't long for the starting job. ... Larry Fitzgerald continues to hog targets, saving his value. He ranks second in the league with 27. Fitz may see a good amount of Nnamdi Asomugha on Sunday, but it's not like you can bench him. He scored a touchdown in Week 1 and had seven catches for 83 yards in Week 2. ... I jumped the gun on Steve Breaston last week, calling him an every-week fantasy starter after his 132-yard Week 1 performance and with Early Doucet (sports hernia) out for the foreseeable future. Breaston saw fewer targets than Stephen Williams in Week 2 and now has a knee injury.

Beanie Wells (knee) is fully expected to make his 2010 debut in a home game against a Raiders club that's been gashed for 312 total yards and three touchdowns by opposing running backs in the first two games. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, however, indicated late this week that he plans to "ride the hot hand," and Wells is the favorite to have it over the far less talented Tim Hightower. Wells certainly is a risk, but his return is also enough to make Hightower an awfully weak bet. If Wells exhibits his trademark burst and power early on, he'll be impossible to take off the field.

Raiders coaches have made it abundantly clear that Michael Bush's return from a fractured thumb will have little impact on Darren McFadden's already league-leading workload. Bush was held out of all passing-game drills, and is ticketed for no more than 10 carries as a battering ram off the bench. Expect this to last, barring a McFadden breakdown or unanticipated production drop. McFadden ranks second in the league in rushing through two games, and Arizona's run defense is anything but stout. The Cards surrendered Jason Snelling's 182-total yard, three-touchdown breakout in Week 2. And Michael Turner had 75 yards on eight carries (9.4 YPC) before that.

Bruce Gradkowski's targets after replacing Jason Campbell: Darrius Heyward-Bey 9, Louis Murphy 7, Zach Miller 2. This is not to say that Heyward-Bey is primed to become a fantasy starter, or that Miller will bust. But it's a situation to track. ... Murphy busted loose for six catches, 91 yards, and a TD in Oakland's Week 2 win over St. Louis. The matchup was gravy, but he's going to be an every-week WR3 until Heyward-Bey shows consistency. Gradkowski is not afraid to throw downfield, and Murphy gets vertical in a hurry. He'll see lots of Cards LCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in Week 3, but DRC has been anything but a shutdown corner this year.

Indianapolis @ Denver

Colts 2009 leading tackler Clint Session (hamstring) is not expected to play in a matchup that would've been ideal for Knowshon Moreno. Moreno, unfortunately, won't capitalize after straining his hamstring in Friday's practice. Correll Buckhalter will start out of veteran deference, but Laurence Maroney is a better bet for touches. Newly acquired, Maroney picked up the Broncos' scheme quickly as a former pupil of coach Josh McDaniels in New England. McD knows Maroney's strengths, and he's a sleeper RB2 if you're desperate. The matchup is highly favorable. Buckhalter is averaging just 2.0 yards per carry and appears to be on his last legs.

Waiver darling Demaryius Thomas is just now rounding into shape after foot injuries cost him the entire offseason. It's scary to think how good he'll be once he's ready. Thomas played just 22-of-77 snaps last Sunday, but was virtually unstoppable. The rookie entered midway through the second quarter and was thrown to relentlessly by Kyle Orton, with four of Orton's first five passes intended for Thomas. Owners may want to hang tight until Thomas becomes a full-time player, but that's the direction he's headed. ... Eddie Royal posted a 5-65-1 line against the Seahawks, but only played four more downs than Thomas, while Jabar Gaffney (70 snaps, 2-15 line) saw the most playing time. Inconsistent Brandon Lloyd (42 snaps, 3-53) rounds out the receiver rotation.

I heard an unnamed analyst claim that Michael Vick is playing the best football of any quarterback through two weeks. Vick is doing well, but Peyton Manning is playing better. Amid offensive line struggles, Manning ranks No. 1 in fantasy points with a 6:0 TD-to-INT ratio and 344 passing yards per game. The Broncos don't have the pass rush to exploit Indy's line woes, and Manning's matchup is further improved by injuries to CBs Champ Bailey (heel) and Andre' Goodman (thigh). ... Pierre Garcon has faded badly, taking a big backseat to Austin Collie and now battling a hamstring injury. Garcon missed Thursday and Friday's practices and probably won't play.

Dominating in the slot, Collie is the No. 4 fantasy receiver and an every-week WR2. ... Reggie Wayne is No. 3 among wideouts. He would normally be "shadowed" by Bailey, but Bailey isn't close to 100 percent after hardly practicing this week. ... Dallas Clark is just barely inched out by Antonio Gates for the top spot among tight ends. This offense is money this year. ... Joseph Addai is questionable with a knee injury. With the light flipping on for 2009 first-round pick Donald Brown (88 yards, TD, 17 touches in Week 2), the Colts don't have to worry about pushing Addai if he's not at full strength. Addai is a very low-end RB2. Brown is worth a look as a flex.

Sunday Night Football

NY Jets @ Miami

Dolphins running backs follow up a tough matchup against Minnesota with an even tougher one against the Jets. Rex Ryan's team has held opponents to 101 yards on 55 carries (1.8 YPC), and outside of Ronnie Brown's 51-yard run, he and Ricky Williams managed just 59 yards on 23 rushing attempts (2.6 YPC) in Week 2. Brown looks terrific after offseason Lisfranc surgery, but this is a red-light fantasy matchup. ... Anthony Fasano went catch-less against the Vikings after producing 25 percent of Miami's receiving yards in the opener. He isn't an option against the Jets.

Jets CB Darrelle Revis' deactivation has quite a few implications, but none greater than for Fins split end Brandon Marshall. Marshall is now expected to be "shadowed" by Antonio Cromartie, whom Marshall whipped religiously when the receiver was a Bronco and the cornerback was a Charger. Marshall's biggest line against "Cro" was 18-166-1 in Week 1 of 2007. Cromartie just doesn't play with enough physicality to contain arguably the AFC's best after-catch receiver. ... Chad Henne needed to complete just nine passes to beat the turnover-prone Vikings in Week 2, but will have to throw quite a bit more to best the Jets. Davone Bess remains a viable PPR WR3.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dolphins LCB Vontae Davis was targeted nine times in Week 2 and gave up just 23 yards while grabbing an interception. RCB Jason Allen picked off Brett Favre twice and is also covering well. Particularly with Braylon Edwards' role up in the air after a DWI, Mark Sanchez and Jets receivers are hands off for this one. ... The beneficiary could be Jets tight end Dustin Keller in the slot and down the seam. Keller is coming off a seven-catch, 115-yard, one-TD game, and caught eight balls for 76 yards and another score in his last bout with Miami.

Though not to the extent of the Jets, the Dolphins' run defense has been stout, keyed by the aggressive and relentless play of new NT Randy Starks. Miami is permitting just 3.7 yards per carry. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene received 15-plus touches apiece in Week 2, though, and can be used as low-end RB2/flex plays. At least the workloads are consistent (or more consistent than expected for Greene after his nightmare opener). And coming off wins over Buffalo and Minnesota, the Dolphins have yet to face an offensive line nearly as good as the Jets'.

Monday Night Football

Green Bay @ Chicago

Mike Martz is already working magic in Chicago. The Bears lost LT Chris Williams to a hamstring injury early in last week's game, inserted Frank Omiyale, and took apart Dallas with short-to-intermediate throws. Jay Cutler was fantastic, evading pressure and pinpointing passes to Johnny Knox, Greg Olsen, and Devin Hester. Cutler's got the best playcaller in football on his side, and renewed self confidence. He's a matchup-proof starter until proven otherwise. ... Unfortunately, Devin Aromashodu went from the Bears' target leader in Week 1 to a special teamer in Week 2. After three drops in the opener, he was yanked from three-receiver sets in favor of Earl Bennett. Aromashodu can stay on deep league rosters, but Bennett is the new favorite for snaps in the slot.

After a one-catch opener, Devin Hester led Chicago in Week 2 targets and may see a bigger role with Aromashodu out of the equation. Bennett won't command Cutler's attention like Aromashodu did. This just isn't the week to use Hester. As a sometimes slot receiver who often plays flanker, Hester's primary coverman will be Charles Woodson. Johnny Knox, squaring off with RCB Tramon Williams for most of the game, is the better bet. ... Martz is using Greg Olsen just as he did Vernon Davis -- as a vertical tight end for whom plays are called situationally. Olsen will make big plays on occasion, but he's a TE2 at best. ... Matt Forte is the No. 4 fantasy back thus far. He's hard to bench against a Green Bay team that looks softer against the run this year than last.

Brandon Jackson will get better, but he was underwhelming to say the least in his first start since 2007. He scored on a goal-line carry, but a 2.8 YPC average against Buffalo won't cut it. You can't use him against a Bears team allowing the fewest yards per carry in the league (1.4). ... Jermichael Finley had 103 yards against the Bills, but that's only the beginning. His speed and dominance over the middle are unparalleled in football. Finley has the potential to rip the top off the Bears' Cover 2 defense. ... Though Marshawn Lynch-to-Green Bay rumors persist, Packers GM Ted Thompson has zero history of making such moves. Lynch is also the Bills' new starting tailback, and Buffalo will require a premium pick (third-rounder?) to trade him. It ain't happening.

Whereas he squared off with then-RCB Zackary Bowman much of last season, Greg Jennings will now primarily go against Charles Tillman this year, as the Bears flipped their cornerbacks' sides. Neither is playing shutdown coverage, though, so you'll have to keep Jennings going. ... Aaron Rodgers has accounted for five touchdowns through two games to grade out as the No. 5 fantasy quarterback thus far. ... The Packers are scaling back Donald Driver's weekly snaps as he comes off dual offseason knee surgeries. He's only playing 64 percent of the downs, compared to Finley's 86.4. Finley will wind up as Rodgers' go-to guy over the middle and underneath. Jennings is the vertical route runner.

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