Evan Silva

Matchups

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Matchups: Take Ryan Off Ice

Friday, October 07, 2011


Kansas City @ Indianapolis

After a Monday night loss in Tampa, the Colts are playing on a short week with three key offensive line injuries. RG Ryan Diem is nursing a high ankle sprain, while promising rookie tackles Anthony Castonzo (ankle) and Ben Ijalana (ACL tear) both have significant, long-term maladies. It's a major concern against a Chiefs defense that pressured Donovan McNabb relentlessly in Week 4. OLB Tamba Hali piled up a whopping 13 hurries and two sacks, putting Hali on pace for 16 in the latter category. Dallas Clark will go to work as a blocker again this week. Clark hasn't topped 46 yards in any game yet, and is a bottom-barrel TE2. ... Curtis Painter's Week 4 stat line doesn't look bad, but he was awful against the Bucs. Consistently missing open wideouts, Painter benefited from a Tampa defense that simply didn't tackle. Per Pro Football Focus, Pierre Garcon alone accounted for 128 of Painter's 281 yards after the catch (46%). With a battered offensive line, make Painter "prove it" before plugging him into two-QB league lineups.

With natural guard Jeff Linkenbach and street free agent pickup Michael Toudouze likely to start at left and right tackle, respectively, it's hard to imagine Painter having time to throw. Painter was either pressured or sacked on virtually every snap against the Bucs after Castonzo, and then Ijalana went down. Tampa left Reggie Wayne singled up with RCB E.J. Biggers, but the declining wideout managed just four catches and 59 scoreless yards on eight targets. Wayne remains the Colts' best bet for receiving production, but fantasy leaguers need to capitalize on his next halfway decent game and trade Wayne to a less-informed owner. He isn't turning the corner. ... Garcon had the best run-after-catch performance of his life in Tampa Bay, but most NFL secondaries know how to tackle better than the Bucs'. Particularly in a matchup with Chiefs LCB Brandon Flowers (zero catches allowed last week), to start Garcon is to chase points. ... Austin Collie is a part-time player and has yet to hit 30 yards in a game. He was droppable several weeks back. ... Delone Carter continues to make a weak case for more work with a 3.55 YPC average, including 2.91 in his last two games. Joseph Addai's clips are 4.60 and 4.53 over the same spans. Addai is a low-upside RB2, but has plenty of job security.

The Chiefs started Dexter McCluster against the Vikings, but it's not a great sign that his snap percentage fell (from 54.4 to 43.8) in a close game. McCluster still played more than Thomas Jones and Jackie Battle, and remains the only K.C. back worth flex consideration. You just can't ever expect a feature back workload. ... The Chiefs talked up Battle this week, which is much more an indictment of Jones than a hint at fantasy relevance for the career special teamer. Perhaps Battle will punch in a goal-line carry at some point, but he's a plodding back averaging 3.04 yards on 51 career attempts. Battle didn't get drafted because he has no short-area burst. Pick him up to see what happens, but don't expect much. ... Here's some decent news for Dwayne Bowe, who I'd still sell high after back-to-back games with a touchdown: No. 1 receivers are averaging five catches for 88 yards with two scores against Indy this season. ... Steve Breaston's 91 yards in Week 4 helped open up the field for Bowe, but don't take them as a sign of things to come independently. Breaston hasn't found the end zone in his last 14 games and is averaging 33.1 yards in his last eight.

Score Prediction: Chiefs 17, Colts 13

Cincinnati @ Jacksonville

Bengals-Jaguars has this week's lowest over-under at a paltry 37 points. Avoid where possible. ... A.J. Green has swapped clunkers with 100-yard games through four weeks, but it's time to give Green's talent its due and lock him into lineups. The payoff is likely to be greater if you use Green every week than try to predict his big games in spot-start fashion. Green leads his team in targets, catches, yards, and receiving touchdowns, and even in a weak passing offense that's a formula for fantasy success. Expectations should probably be checked this week, though, against a Jags Cover 2 squelching big plays. ... Andre Caldwell is getting more targets than Jerome Simpson, despite Simpson's starting job and higher snap percentage. I wouldn't bother owning either. ... The Jaguars have a solid all-around defense, ranking No. 14 against the pass and 16 versus the run. Cedric Benson is averaging over 20 touches a game, keeping him afloat as a respectable RB2. Andy Dalton is an incredibly inconsistent rookie with a tough matchup on the road. ... The fantasy start of the week on Cincinnati's side may be Jermaine Gresham. The Jaguars' zone defense is extremely susceptible over the middle, and opposing tight ends are averaging an eye-popping 10 catches for 110 yards with three touchdowns against them in the past three weeks.

After a relatively solid first half in his second career start (12-of-24 for 165 yards, one touchdown), Blaine Gabbert imploded in the final two quarters of last week's loss to the Saints. Constantly missing open receivers, Gabbert closed out 4-of-18 for a pathetic 31 yards with an interception. It's scary to think how poorly he might perform against a Bengals team that leads the league in defense and ranks No. 3 against the pass, coming off its near-total shutdown of a previously red-hot Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bengals' defense is a recommended streamer play. ... Mike Thomas is the lone Jags pass catcher worth considering in fantasy leagues, as his 19 targets in Gabbert's two starts easily lead the team. (Next closest is Jason Hill with 12, and Hill has caught three for 39 yards.) Thomas is a weak WR3, but he's at least an option. ... Marcedes Lewis finally had more pass routes than blocking plays in Week 4, but it translated to 38 yards on three catches. Telling is that those were both season-highs for Lewis. ... Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging 21 touches a game and ranks 12th in fantasy running back scoring. Jones-Drew has a very tough matchup with a Bengals defense yielding a league-low 3.10 yards per carry, but it's hard to imagine ever sitting MJD. Jones-Drew's own yards-per-rushing attempt average has risen in four consecutive weeks.

Score Prediction: Bengals 20, Jaguars 10

New Orleans @ Carolina

Among Week 5 over-unders, only the Sunday Nighter has more projected scoring than Saints-Panthers. Start 'em. ... Drew Brees is the No. 3 fantasy QB through four games, behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Carolina is surrendering an NFC-high 8.55 yards per pass attempt. ... Jimmy Graham has seven touchdowns in his last seven games, and his yardage total has jumped every week this year. No NFL tight end has more 20-plus yard plays. Start him every chance you get. ... Returning from a collarbone fracture, Marques Colston played just 20-of-81 snaps (24.7%) against the Jaguars in Week 4. With that rate certain to rise, the rest of the Saints' receivers will become less predictable in fantasy. ... Lance Moore's playing time was most affected by Colston's return. A 56.9% player with Colston out in Week 3, Moore dipped to 40.7% at Jacksonville as he played only on passing downs. That doesn't make him waiver wire fodder, but Moore is going to be inconsistent. ... Devery Henderson is back to WR5/6 status after a one-target, no-catch Week 4 game. ... Robert Meachem (76.5 snap percentage, 6 targets, 4 catches, 59 yards) can maintain WR3 value despite Colston's return. Meachem's been a borderline every-down player all season.

Darren Sproles is averaging just 10.25 touches per game, but it's notable when he's on pace for 1,432 total yards and 12 TDs. Coach Sean Payton game plans for Sproles to be in space virtually every time he handles the football. He's a strong flex play, particularly in PPR. ... Mark Ingram still leads the Saints in red-zone touches (14), but Sproles had three last week to bring his season total to nine, and Pierre Thomas got two, including a carry at the Jags' two-yard line. Thomas now has four on the year. It's worth noting that Ingram -- not Sproles or Thomas -- was in the game during FB Jed Collins' surprise one-yard score on New Orleans' opening Week 4 possession. Ingram motioned out of the backfield, lining up in the slot and watching as Collins punched it in. (Collins played extensively only because No. 2 TE David Thomas was inactive with a concussion.) Ingram remains Payton's clock-killing back of choice, and the first-rounder has led the backfield in touches every game this season. Despite Ingram's slow start, it's hard to imagine benching him against a Panthers defense that ranks 31st versus the run and is permitting 5.18 yards per carry.

Continuing to defy logic, Cam Newton scored 32.5 standard-league fantasy points at Soldier Field in Week 4 and is locked in as a top-ten QB1. Matchups go out the window when he's averaging 34 rushing yards and a rushing score per game, on top of the third most passing yards in football. Newton is Carolina's goal-line back, having scored all four of his TDs inside opposing five-yard lines. Neither Jonathan Stewart nor DeAngelo Williams has found the end zone. ... It's early to call Stewart the Panthers' designated passing-down back when he and Williams have combined for just one third-down touch in the past two weeks. But there's little doubt that Newton is more comfortable throwing to Stewart. J-Stew has 15 catches for 159 yards (10.6 average) in the last three games, compared to D-Will's 40 yards on six receptions (6.7). Stewart is averaging 4.56 yards per carry to Williams' 3.86. The two rotate evenly and don't get scoring chances. Stewart is the preferred fantasy "hold" because he's such a better player.

Steve Smith tore the lid off the Bears' Cover 2 and currently ranks second in the NFL in receiving yards (530, 132.5 per-game average), first in yards per reception (22.1), and first in 20-plus yard catches (12). Don't bet on the Saints' 19th-ranked pass defense stopping him. ... I love starting tight ends against the Saints because DC Gregg Williams' scheme puts linebackers and coverage liability SS Roman Harper on them. In the last two weeks, New Orleans has allowed Jaguars and Texans tight ends to combine for 14 receptions, 254 yards, and three touchdowns. Jeremy Shockey (concussion) appears unlikely to play and may be strictly a blocker if he does because of a broken finger. Greg Olsen is shaping up as a top-five tight end start. He's currently eighth at the position in fantasy points. ... Brandon LaFell played a season-best 55.7 snap percentage in Week 4, but saw just six targets compared to starter Legedu Naanee's 11. Both had four scoreless catches. LaFell needs to formally pass Naanee on the depth chart to be a reliable fantasy option.

Score Prediction: Panthers 28, Saints 27

 

 


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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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