Week 3 Fantasy Football Notes

September 23, 2008

With Week 3 now in the bank, we can now begin drawing a few conclusions based on some early trends. The big conclusion one fantasy league has caused me to draw is to trust my brain, not my gut. Despite having Michael Turner ranked higher than Jamal Lewis and Philip Rivers ranked higher than Matt Schaub, I ended up with Lewis and Schaub on my squad when the other player was still on the board at the time. So, I guess the lesson there is to trust your work when you actually take the time to do it rather than make rash decisions based more on perceived value of players by the masses. But, at least Schaub is on my bench with Jay Cutler tearing it up. I can’t say the same for my RB situation…

 

The biggest trends I like to look at involved defenses – who is giving up what to who. Let’s take a look at a handful of defenses and see what conclusions we can draw:

 

I’ll start with Buffalo. The surprising Bills are 3-0 and a legit contender in the AFC East. Part of the reason for this success lies on the defensive side of the football. Buffalo has given up just one touchdown to a running back this season and feature backs are averaging less than 50 yards per game on the ground through three games. The passing defense has also been good, giving up just a hair over 170 yards per game and only two scores in three contests. However, I’m more sold on the run ‘D’ than the pass ‘D.’ Seattle has proven its ability to run the ball the last two weeks with Julius Jones (I definitely didn’t see that coming), Oakland can pretty much ONLY run the ball, and Jacksonville’s got arguably the best one-two running back punch in the game. Its to the point now where if I’ve got a borderline starter – Edgerrin James in Week 5, for example, he’s not getting in my lineup. The jury is still out on the pass, though. JaMarcus Russell is awful so far, and Matt Hasselbeck had just Nate Burleson to throw to in Week 1. Plus Jacksonville’s not exactly an aerial assault waiting to happen.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, I’m starting anyone and everyone against the Lions. A non-feature back has scored in all three games thus far, and Detroit has ceded six rushing touchdowns overall. That’s not to mention the 123+ yards per game feature backs are averaging against the Lions. Matt Forte owners should be licking their chops for Week 5…

 

As for pass defenses, Tennessee has been the cream of the crop thus far with just one touchdown pass allowed and seven interceptions. The talent the Titans have faced at quarterback can be questioned some, but besides a couple of meetings with a hobbled Peyton Manning, old Brett Favre, new Aaron Rodgers and ordinary Derek Anderson, Tennessee simply doesn’t face much that they can’t handle. In short, this team will continue to be a fantasy force that can score points any week.

 

The Colts fall into the mirage end of this equation, giving up just 149 passing yards per game without a touchdown allowed through three weeks. But I’m not giving Indy a ton of credit for shutting down Kyle Orton and Tarvaris Jackson. David Garrard is a little better, but the Jags were simply too good on the ground in this one. If the Colts continue to put up good numbers against the pass, its only because they are having so much trouble against the run that no one even tries to pass. I expect Schaub, Rodgers, Kerry Collins, Ben Roethlisberger, Rivers, et al to have a bit more success in the coming weeks.

 

An under-the-radar iffy pass defense resides in Denver, where the Broncos are giving up 326 yards and two scores per game through three weeks despite being undefeated. Those numbers would be even more inflated if not for the Raiders being included among Denver’s three opponents. Tyler Thigpen likely won’t do much next week, but after that you could probably use Brian Griese, Garrard or even Matt Cassell in the coming weeks as emergency starters should you need one.

 

That’s enough defense for now, I feel like ragging on the Lions. Jon Kitna is getting progressively worse, and Roy Williams has yet to be good. Sure, he caught a touchdown pass in Week 1, but there is plenty to be worried about here. Roy is catching fewer than three balls per game and has yet to hit the 50-yard mark while Calvin Johnson is emerging as the top target in Detroit. Williams has been a must-start receiver the last few years, but if Roy doesn’t do something against Chicago and Minnesota out of the bye week, he’s simply no longer on that list. 

Week 2 Fantasy Highlights

September 16, 2008

After two weeks I’m sitting at .500 overall in my five fantasy leagues, settling into the fantasy mediocrity I’ve experienced since the start of the baseball season. Here are my observations from Week 2…

 

DeSean Jackson is an idiot. He’s no doubt talented, but that “fumble” to erase his touchdown was classic. When a guy is that cocky two games into his NFL career, just wait until he is established. Philly’s going to need a new stadium to fit his ego. As for his fantasy value, don’t get overly excited after two straight weeks with six catches and more than 100 yards. Reggie Brown will be back soon and Kevin Curtis will follow shortly thereafter, relegating him to No. 3 on the depth chart at best, with Greg Lewis, Jason Avant and Hank Baskett also vying for Donovan McNabb’s attention. Jackson still keeps some fantasy value because of his return abilities, but once the Eagles are playing with a full deck, a few catches for 50 yards will be considered a good day.

 

For those in tight end mandatory leagues, it appears you’ll want to keep your eyes on the Chargers’ schedule. No, not because Antonio Gates is a stud — although that is nice. You’ll want to watch San Diego because after two weeks it has given up 17 catches for 192 yards and three touchdowns to the tight end position. If Dante Rosario and Tony Scheffler are this tough on the Chargers, those of you working the waiver wire weekly to fill the position may want to grab whoever is going against San Diego that week.

 

Tim Hightower is opening some eyes in Arizona as the heir apparent to Edgerrin James. Although I’m excited about his future, I’m not hopping on the Hightower bandwagon just yet. Yes, he’s scored in two straight weeks, but he’s not getting many touches and he’s played against the 49ers and the Dolphins — two defenses I’m not exactly fond of. Relying on Hightower as anything more than a desperate bye week fill-in or emergency injury replacement — barring a James injury or demotion — is a bad idea.

 

Speaking of bad, the Cincinnati Bengals are in rough shape. I’m benching my Bengals again this week, but its more because of the defense. They have faced the Ravens and Titans thus far and get the Giants this week. When Cincy gets the Bengals in Week 4, I’ll give T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Johnson/Ocho Cinco and Carson Palmer another shot. If they can’t do it against the Browns, then I may hit the panic button. Yes, I know if you drafted Palmer you did it as a starter, but he’s not the only high-end QB you should bench this week…

 

Drew Brees has faced Denver seven times in his career, although never as a member of the Saints. New Orleans goes to Denver this week after the Broncos have allowed five touchdown passes the first two weeks of the season. But the Broncos have Brees’ number. In those seven games, Brees has a 64.4 QB rating, averages 157.7 yards per game, and has tossed just two touchdowns while throwing five interceptions. In other words, if you’ve got a decent backup option, use him.