Evan Silva


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Matchups: Going Greene

Friday, October 01, 2010

For 6,000-word columns such as this, a "lede" tends to seem superfluous. Let's take a week off from the preamble and cut right to the chase.

1:00PM ET Games

NY Jets @ Buffalo

Shonn Greene has lost his starting job to LaDainian Tomlinson after a slow start. Greene's long gain on the year is nine yards, and he's been outgained by Tomlinson at a yards-per-carry clip of 3.53 to 5.62. The Jets can kick-start Greene's season in a Week 4 matchup with the Bills' No. 27 run defense. Buffalo is without run-plugging DE Marcus Stroud (ankle) and unsung ILB Andra Davis (shoulder), and has also allowed the most rushing TDs in football. Rex Ryan spoke at long lengths this week of the Jets' ability to whip Buffalo on the ground, and they need Greene to get hot to keep winning this winter. ... LT, meanwhile, is a must-start. He's received 33 touches to Greene's 26 in the last two games, and in Week 3 played 26 more snaps than the second-year back.

Dustin Keller is tied for fourth in targets among tight ends, and is second in fantasy scoring. The Bills were ripped for a 9-108-1 line by Patriots TEs in Week 3. Keller is an elite play. ... Despite the Knucklehead Factor, Braylon Edwards is worth a look as a bye-week filler. He's posted back-to-back solid games (5-45-1, 2-87-1), and Buffalo is big-play vulnerable, giving up the NFL's eighth-most 20-plus yard completions. ... Jerricho Cotchery has 64 yards in three games. He's barely worth a fantasy spot with Santonio Holmes due back in Week 5. ... Mark Sanchez has a 6:0 TD-to-INT ratio in his last two games, exhibiting more aggressiveness with an 8.21 yards-per-attempt average. He's settling in as a quality QB2, but don't expect more than 25 throws (200 yards?) with the Jets likely to lean on the run. Sanchez threw five interceptions against the Bills in 2009.

Marshawn Lynch's 79 rushing yards in Week 3 were his second most since 2008. Though he's been somewhat reenergized by his promotion to lead back, Lynch can't be considered more than a desperation start against a Jets team that allows the fewest yards per carry (2.4) in the AFC. ... Fred Jackson has officially bottomed out, seeing four carries last Sunday. He holds very little value at this point, needing a Lynch injury or trade to regain an even semi-substantial role. ... C.J. Spiller found the end zone twice at New England, once on a kick return and again on a short catch. He's making no case for expanded offensive usage, however, with a 3.4 yards-per-touch average.

Rather predictably based on his past in-season insertions, Ryan Fitzpatrick injected life into Buffalo's offense in Week 3. Fitzpatrick holds plenty of real-life value as an NFL backup because he can add a temporary spark. It's just never evolved into sustained success, and the Bills were playing a lackluster Patriots defense. It won't keep up. ... Lee Evans was Fitzpatrick's favorite receiver, seeing eight targets. Roscoe Parrish led the team with five catches for 83 yards on six targets. Look for the split end Evans to square off mostly with new starting RCB Drew Coleman, who replaced rookie Kyle Wilson in the lineup this week. Parrish will face some combination of LCB Antonio Cromartie and Wilson for most of the game. Darrelle Revis (hamstring) won't play.

Cincinnati @ Cleveland

You didn't draft Carson Palmer as a starter -- hopefully -- but he's bottoming out as a weak QB2. A whopping 45.3 percent of Palmer's 707 passing yards and two of his three TDs so far were generated in garbage time of Cincinnati's Week 1 loss to New England. Palmer's intermediate passes are floating through the air, and his accuracy is all over the place. His balls are easy to intercept or bat down. Palmer isn't recommended even in the best of matchups. ... Like Palmer, a huge chunk of Chad Ochocinco's 2010 production came after the Pats built an insurmountable Opening-Day lead. Ocho hasn't scored or topped 44 yards since. It's time to sell on Bengals receivers. Terrell Owens is the No. 55 overall fantasy wideout and a low-end WR3.

Jermaine Gresham has been inconsistent (games of 25/15/59 yards), but the snaps are there. He's playing 80.5 percent of the offensive downs. You could do worse in a bye-week crunch. ... The Browns have been surprisingly stout against the run (3.8 YPC allowed), but it's not stopping teams from trying to run on them. Only five clubs have more rushing attempts against, and Cincy is a safe bet to fall in line with Palmer struggling. Cedric Benson's early-week missed practice isn't a concern. He's averaging 23 touches per game. Browns tackle machine D'Qwell Jackson (I.R.) is definitely out, and DLs Shaun Rogers (ankle, hip) and Kenyon Coleman (knee) are hurt.

The Browns are planning on a game-day decision at quarterback with Jake Delhomme (ankle) back in practice. Delhomme gives Mohamed Massaquoi a better chance at producing, but the Bengals know how to defend him. Matched up with Leon Hall in the teams' last game, Massaquoi had 12 yards. With one catch in his last two games, he needs to stay on benches until he shows something. ... Joshua Cribbs appears to have supplanted Brian Robiskie as the Browns' flanker, at least until Robiskie (hamstring) is 100 percent. With Robiskie out in Week 3, however, Cribbs still barely played 33 percent of the snaps. The Browns refuse to make him a full-time receiver.

Though Jerome Harrison (thigh) is on track to return, Eric Mangini has confirmed that Peyton Hillis will be the Browns' starter and lead back moving forward. He's earned it. Hillis is averaging 5.77 yards per touch, ranks fourth among running backs in catches, and has scored in three straight. Don't doubt him as an every-week RB2. Cleveland's front five is mauling opponents (e.g. Ravens in Week 3), and Hillis is a much better blocker than Harrison, increasing his chances of playing in passing situations. Hillis, who's averaged 5.3 YPC with eight touchdowns in eight career games of eight-plus carries, is currently a top-nine fantasy back. He's a must-start against a Bengals team that ranks in the bottom ten in yards-per-carry average allowed (4.5).

Denver @ Tennessee

Kyle Orton ranks second in the league in passing yards, but take it with a grain of salt. He's faced the submissive secondaries of Jacksonville (No. 29 pass defense), Seattle (No. 30), and Indianapolis (20), and now squares off with Tennessee's top-five unit. Only the Ravens, Bengals, and Eagles are allowing fewer yards per pass attempt than the Titans, and Jeff Fisher's team has given up a league-low one passing touchdown through three games. If Orton does play well, sell him high. He's a notorious fast starter and slow finisher. ... Per Pro Football Focus, these are the rotating Broncos' receiver snaps from Week 3: Jabar Gaffney 70, Brandon Lloyd 63, Eddie Royal 43, Demaryius Thomas 28. You'll have to bench Thomas until his role stabilizes.

Lloyd is getting lots of playing time and capitalizing, easily pacing the Broncos with 339 receiving yards. Gaffney, Denver's target leader, is next with 189. With Eddie Royal perhaps set to lose some offensive snaps due to his growing return role, only Lloyd and Gaffney are viable WR3s. ... Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) is not expected to play, with Laurence Maroney in line for another start. Just don't be surprised if Denver turns to Correll Buckhalter early if Maroney struggles out of the gate. Maroney amassed 24 rushing yards on 12 carries (2.0 YPC) last week against a poor Colts run defense, and was stuffed relentlessly at the goal line. Use him at your own risk.

Kenny Britt is a part-timer, but he's got to be headed for a major role. The 2009 first-round pick's Week 3 TD perfectly displayed Britt's physicality and ability to "go get it," as Giants CB Terrell Thomas had him draped in the back of the end zone on the 13-yard strike. Britt will pass Justin Gage (10 targets to Britt's 9 on the year) on the depth chart eventually, though he's a risky fantasy start until he enters two-receiver sets, especially against a pass defense as talented as Denver's. ... Nate Washington continues to lap the field in targets (18). For now, he's the only Titan worth a solid WR3 play. ... Avoid Titans tight ends. Starter Bo Scaife has 80 yards through three games.

The Titans have spoken of lessening Chris Johnson's load with more Javon Ringer. Frankly, C.J. owners should hope for it. He has a league-high 75 carries, dangerously putting him on pace for 400. Few players could hold up on that usage. ... Either way, Johnson will put Denver's defense in its place this week. The Broncos are tenth in the league against the run, but have faced two rushing offenses ranked 24th or worse, and Jacksonville's struggling unit. ... Vince Young's completion rate (69.8) and yards-per-attempt average (7.9) look great, but the Titans have yet to let him throw more than 17 times in a game, and he's got four turnovers versus three touchdowns. Broncos CBs Champ Bailey and Andre' Goodman are off the Week 4 injury report.

Carolina @ New Orleans

His completion rate up to 76 percent after a 30-for-38, three-score performance in Week 3, Drew Brees has found his zone. Dominant at the Superdome, his roll won't be slowed by a Carolina team that's yielded the fifth-most passing TDs in football. ... Lance Moore managed just 23 yards in the first two games, so his 6-149-1 line in Week 3 came out of nowhere. Consistency is elusive for Saints WRs behind Marques Colston, but Moore is probably a better bet than Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson until Reggie Bush (fractured fibula) returns. Moore can dominate in the slot, and he catches everything. ... Opposing tight ends have averaged 3.7 catches for 54.7 yards with no touchdowns against the Panthers through three games. Despite Jeremy Shockey's 8-78-1 "breakout" in Week 3, he's just barely a bye-week option at fantasy football's deepest position.

Marques Colston hasn't scored or topped 67 yards in a week yet, eliciting some concern from his owners. He still leads one of the NFL's best offenses in targets, however, and the Saints may opt to attack deep a Panthers defense that's generated a league-low two sacks. Colston's primary coverman Sunday will be Panthers RCB Richard Marshall, who supports the run but is susceptible to the long ball. ... Chris Ivory swiped several short-yardage chances from Pierre Thomas against Atlanta, but a second-half lost fumble and an aggravated knee injury won't help the undrafted rookie's cause. Ivory is worth owning in all fantasy leagues, but only as a "handcuff" for Thomas. Avoid the situation if Thomas (ankle) misses the game. In that scenario, Ladell Betts is expected to be featured with Ivory maintaining a mere "niche" role off the bench.

Jimmy Clausen's abysmal starting debut featured checks to third-down back Mike Goodson as opposed to deep shots to Steve Smith. It's worth noting that Goodson, David Gettis, and Brandon LaFell ranked 1-2-3 on the team in targets, and all three practiced extensively with Clausen on the second-string offense in camp. Clausen's rapport with Smith is bound for improvement, if only because he's now practicing with Smith and the first-teamers. Panthers coaches are like fantasy owners -- they want the ball going to Smitty. It was a primary focus in practice this week, and Carolina will have to throw and throw often to keep up with the Saints. Keep Smith in your lineup.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart received an equal amount of touches in Week 3, with Stewart executing on a third-quarter goal-line carry. After being "eased in" for Weeks 1-2, J-Stew's recovery from offseason heel surgery appears to be complete. Williams remains a good bet for slightly more touches, but both backs are quality options with the bye weeks in effect. The Saints rank 30th in the league in run defense, and are surrendering a rushing touchdown per game. The real kicker for this backfield will be the eventual return of mauling RT Jeff Otah (knee).

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