Nov 12, 2011
The halfway point of the season is already behind us and we are coming down the stretch in the fantasy regular season. Now is not the time to get cute. If you need to make a bold move to get back in it, do it. Time is running out in a hurry.
And now, my thoughts on Week Ten…
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
We know the Falcons like to like Michael Turner carry their offense, and while that is certainly possible in this game, they’ll have to throw it and throw it well. Julio Jones had a very Randy Moss-like 3/131/2 with scores of 50 and 80 yards last week, but we haven’t seen much consistency out of their passing game all year. However, Jones is the type of player they’ve lacked in recent seasons, but his big-play ability is what can allow them to get back into games quickly, which was a missing ingredient for last year’s team. The Saint passing attack should be fine since the Falcon pass rush hasn’t been very good and their secondary looks beatable. What this means is a possible fantasy bonanza, and we could certainly use one. A key to this game could be the play of Tony Gonzalez as a chain-mover and RZ threat. Look for the Falcons to use Gonzalez to go after Roman Harper, who’s been a liability in coverage all season.
Tennessee Titans at Carolina Panthers
I’m not ready to buy back into Chris Johnson just yet, but he can certainly start to build a little more goodwill up if he can take advantage of a poor Panther run defense. He wasn’t able to take advantage of a beatable matchup against the Colts a couple of weeks ago, but did play better in the loss to Cincinnati last week. The Titan passing game has been far from dangerous and a hobbled Nate Washington won’t help matters, although Damian Williams could. He’s caught 4 passes in each of his last two games and did score last week. He’s a big target for Matt Hasselbeck, but does face an improved Panther run defense. Coming off their bye, it’ll be interesting to see if the Panthers try to get their running game more involved, although they may not be interested in doing so with how well Cam Newton is playing.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
I can’t take much away from how well the Bengals have played in the first half of the season, but now they’ll truly be tested with two games against the Steelers, a trip to Baltimore, and a meeting with the AFC South-leading Texans in four of their next five games. The Steelers may not dominating the opposition with their defense, but they are still one of the best units in the league and you can bet DC Dick LeBeau will be coming after the rookie, Andy Dalton. However, that would not cause me enough concern to even think about benching A.J. Green. The Steelers continue to rely on their passing game and while we know Mike Wallace is an every-week starter, Antonio Brown may not be there yet, but he’s certainly turning into a player you can trust each week.
St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns
We don’t have to spend much time on the Browns. They are officially the worst fantasy NFL team in the league. The only thing that remotely interests me is the use of Josh Cribbs since he hinted their may be an increased role for him this week. He was already starting at WR with Mohammed Massaquoi out, but he may also seen time in the backfield. At this point, the Browns should be trying anything and everything to get something going. Sam Bradford and Brandon Lloyd could form a nice connection down the stretch, but as we saw last week, the two are still working on getting on the same page. Mark Clayton was activated off the PUP list this week and could play. Considering how thin the Rams are at receiver, if he proves he’s healthy, it wouldn’t surprise me to his see him play an important role in the team’s passing attack.
Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys
Miles Austin is part of the group of high-end talent to serious frustrate fantasy owners with lingering injuries that are keeping them from being reliable, productive options on a weekly basis. That’s opened the door for Laurent Robinson to start, but in terms of contributing, Robinson has done so with or without Austin on the field. In just six games (1 start) with the Cowboys, Robinson has 24/368/2 on just 33 targets and ranks 29th among WRs with 8.1 FPG. I’d be happy to have him in my lineup with nothing threatening about this matchup. If you’ve stuck with DeMarco Murray, it’s paid off nicely, but if you decided to sell him off to improve another area of your team, it’s understandable. The Cowboy run defense has faltered in the last two games, and they’ll be tested once again when Fred Jackson comes to town. Jackson was slowed by the Jets last week, but I believe he’ll pick it back up this week, even if the Cowboys get Sean Lee to play through his wrist injury.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Here’s the gameplan for the Jaguars: give it to Maurice Jones-Drew until he can’t run anymore. MJD’s owned the Colts for entire career and their run defense is definitely beatable. Once again, you can stay away from the Colt RBBC even if Joseph Addai is out. Dallas Clark is out, but don’t expect Jacob Tamme to set records like he did in the second half of last year. There’s really nothing more to say about this game other than I hope to avoid seeing much of it.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
The Broncos took the Raiders by surprise last week with their read-option offense, and while I wouldn’t rule out it working again this week, I believe the Chiefs will at least be better prepared to defend it. Tim Tebow can’t run a conventional NFL offense, so this is what the Broncos have had to resort to in an effort to move the football. Early returns are good, but I doubt they can have sustained success. The Chiefs crashed back down to Earth with an embarrassing loss last week and yet they still remain right in the hunt in the wide-open AFC West. Steve Breaston is quietly having a very productive month and should be able to keep it going against a beatable Broncos secondary.
Washington Redskins at Miami Dolphins
Reggie Bush helped the Dolphins get into the win column for the first time last week after nearly running for 100 yards yet again. Daniel Thomas looks to be fully healed from his hamstring injury, so the Dolphins have a decision to make in terms of how they decide to split up touches. Brandon Marshall may only have 2 TDs, but he’s tied for 7th in receptions (46) and 9th in yards (644). I don’t think he’ll have much trouble with DeAngelo Hall and Matt Moore showed last week can actually be decent when given a chance. Mike Shanahan said earlier in the week that Ryan Torain would only run when Roy Helu was tired and then refused to name Helu the starter. They should have Tashard Choice available for the first time this week, as it appears he’s over his shoulder injury. Shanahan also talked about rookie WR Leonard Hankerson and keeping him in the starting lineup, but that’s because this team may be in evaluation mode. Let’s just hope John Beck can get rid of the ball in a timely manner and find Fred Davis a bit more often this week.
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles
Just when I start to get excited about the Eagles, they forget how to tackle again and can’t figure out the puzzle that is Earl Bennett. A matchup against the Cardinals is exactly what they need. They should be able to attack through the air with ease and let LeSean McCoy do his thing on the ground. Instead of using Nnamdi Asomugha in a variety of different roles, just put him on Larry Fitzgerald and make a banged up Beanie Wells beat you. The Eagles could probable let Wells run wild all day and still win this game, but we’ll see if they get back to basics in an effort to stay in the mix in the NFC. John Skelton gets another start, but unlike last week, he’ll face a more consistent pass rush with a better secondary. I wouldn’t expect the Cardinals to put up much of a fight in this one.
Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This may not be the popular opinion, but I believe the Texans are the best team in the AFC. They continue to play great defense even without Mario Williams, they run the ball about as well as anyone, and when Andre Johnson comes back they will see their passing game add a dynamic element once again. This team can win any way they need to and as we’ve seen in recent weeks without Johnson, Arian Foster and Ben Tate can carry their offense, especially against inferior teams, like the Buccaneers. We’re at the halfway point of the season and are still waiting for the Bucs to put the pieces together on offense. Josh Freeman was better last week, but before we can even think of calling this team anything more than decent, he’ll need to be more consistent. A solid performance against a damn good Texan defense would certainly go a long way.
Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks
So Joe Flacco has now played well in six straight quarters and the team has won their last two games. While the Seahawk defense has been solid, they should be beaten by Flacco if he’s on his game. That “if” is what separates the Ravens from being considered legit Super Bowl contenders. Can we see Flacco progress and show some consistency in his game for once? Torrey Smith may be a dangerous deep threat, but he’s not really what the team wants to be their #2 receiving threat. He has a spot on this team, but the Ravens could use a reliable receiver to make plays in the short and intermediate area besides Anquan Boldin. Maybe there’s still a chance Ed Dickson could be that guy, but inconsistency has kept him from being a reliable option for Flacco. Marshawn Lynch has decided to run forward more often and is picking up yardage at big chunks. What a concept! He gashed what was a solid Cowboy run defense last week, but let’s see how he does against one of the better units in the league this week.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
It doesn’t seem like many believe the Lions are going to head into Chicago and sweep the Bears. Color me skeptical when it comes to the Bears. I refuse to believe their pass protection issues have been solved and that theory will be put to the test in this game. Jay Cutler played one of his best games against the Lions back in Week Five, when he had almost no time to throw all game and still managed to complete 28/38 for 249 yards and a TD in the loss. The Lions will have Cutler running for his life again and with just one reliable WR in Earl Bennett, I don’t see how he’s going to throw it well enough to win. Matt Forte is obviously the difference and will be the best player on the field besides Calvin Johnson. Forte has been able to carry this offense all year and has been too much to handle for good defenses and bad ones. He is the reason the Bears are where they are this season and should be in the MVP conversation with Eli Manning and obviously, Aaron Rodgers. The Lions haven’t gotten much love coming off a beatdown of the Broncos before their bye week. I know the passing game has been up and down, but I doubt the Bear can repeat their performance of last week in this game. I don’t trust their secondary, but I do trust their rushing defense and that’s why I don’t expect the Lions to get much going on the ground. Well, that and because their lead runner will probably be Maurice Morris.
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
I’d picked the Giants to win this game earlier in the week assuming they’d have Hakeem Nicks back, and while it looks like that will be the case, Mario Manningham may not be able to play after being added to the injury report on Saturday as questionable with a knee injury. Eli Manning has gotten it done almost every week for the most part this season and if he’s got a full complement of receivers, I believe he can have success against this great 49er defense. They may be great up front, but I’m not sold on their secondary. The Giants will have to throw it well to win on the road because I expect nothing significant out of Brandon Jacobs. I fully admit to being wrong about him going against the Patriots last weekend, but we’re talking about a 49er group giving up just 53 yards on the ground in their last four games and ZERO rushing TDs on the season. I don’t see Jacobs as the one to buck that trend. We’ve seen the 49ers win games ugly by running the ball and letting their defense carry them, but we’ve rarely seen them win on the arm of Alex Smith. If they Giants can get up early and force Smith to throw, I think the 49ers will be in trouble, especially since Smith will struggle under the pressure the Giants can bring with their front four.
New England Patriots at New York Jets
While talking to Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet), Patriot beat writer for the Boston HeraldI, on Sirius/XM Fantasy Football on Saturday afternoon, I asked him how he thought the teams would change their gameplan from what they did in Week Five when the Pats ran over the Jets, who used 6 and 7 DBs to attempt to stop the passing game. He thought the Jets would stick to a similar plan this week and hope to execute better when it came to stopping the run. It does make sense, especially since BenJarvus Green-Ellis continues to deal with a toe injury and has done very little since that last meeting against the Jets. Darrelle Revis is expected to see even more of Wes Welker this time around and as Welker acknowledged this week, he’s seen defenses be more physical with him lately and Revis isn’t afraid to do that. The Jets may have lost their last matchup with the Patriots, but that was the game that we started to see a re-commitment to the ground game. They haven’t lost since. Shonn Greene should figure to play a big factor as a way to set up the play action and help setup calculated shots down the field at the vulnerable Patriot secondary.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Christian Ponder gets just the third start of his NFL career and for the second time he’ll have to face the defending champs, but this time in Green Bay. He’s played well and should have a healthier Percy Harvin on the field with him, which is huge. Harvin needs to have an increased role going forward as long as he stays healthy since his versatile skill set must be respected. Unfortunately, the Packers also have to worry about Adrian Peterson, who showed in the team’s last game that he could be a dual threat after catching 7/78/1 in the win over the Panthers. However, the Vikings could play a great game on offense and still lose because the Packers have yet to see any team contain their passing offense. That’s not going to start this week going against a Viking defense that is among the worst in the league when it comes to defending the pass. Roll with all of your usual Packers and feel free to take a shot with someone like James Jones if you need some upside.
As always, thanks for reading and feel free to leave questions in the comments section below or send them to me on Twitter (@TheMattCamp). Good luck in Week Ten!