In fantasy football, the Thursday night tilt between the Bears and Packers was awful. Besides two, maybe three players, there was more disappointment than excitement being dished out to fantasy football players this past Thursday. Well, regardless, The Fantasy Greek hopes you are ready for this weekend’s match-ups! There are some very good games on tap as a few teams try to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start to their season while others try to build some momentum by going 2-0.
The goal in “Fantasy Football Choices” is to provide you, the fantasy football player, with enough information to make sensible and reasonable choices in setting your line-up this week by reviewing the weekly match-ups and identifying which players are “On the Gridiron,” a “Coach’s Decision,” or “On the Pine.” For many of you, the information provided simply provides affirmation to the decisions you have already made. If you like, skip the fluff, and find your player’s match-up for analysis. We also provide a down & dirtly listing of players listed in each category within the Quick Hits (see links referenced above; coming out by each Wednesday). If you are looking for a waiver wire pick-up, then look for those players still on your waiver wire, and you can read that analysis too. Also, consider using The Fantasy Greek’s Fantasy Points Allowed for Offensive Positions and Fantasy Points Allowed for Kickers & DST tool in identifying favorable and unfavorable match-ups and in making your weekly choices.
Onto the fantasy match-up and your choices!
ON THE GRIDIRON: Identifies players you should play because of their match-up or because of their role on their team’s offense.
COACH’S DECISION: Identifies players who you normally would play but whose match-up this week is not very good; identifies players who you normally would not play but whose match-up this week is good; or identifies players who are injured that you, the fantasy coach, will need to make the call on whether or not to play.
ON THE PINE: Identifies players who you should likely avoid unless there is no one else on your roster or on the waiver wire that can help your team win.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
1:00 p.m. EST
CARDINALS (1-0) v. PATRIOTS (1-0)
Both the Cardinals and the Patriots got their seasons started off right with wins last weekend. In part, both wins could be credited to the crazy good defenses both teams sport. But this weekend, it will be all about offense. The Patriots have it; the Cardinals don’t. While the Cardinals could keep things close in the beginning of the game, the Patriots should pull away for a Patriots win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Regardless of how you feel about the Cardinals’ quarterback situation, WR Larry Fitzgerald remains a must start as the team’s main offensive weapon against a pass defense that while good, is not the greatest either. The Cardinals pass defense was tough against rookie Russell Wilson last week. However, this week, the Cardinals defenders should have their hands full with must-starts QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, and TE Aaron Hernandez. RB Stevan Ridley put on a clinic last week. While he may have a harder time this week producing the kinds of stats he did last week, there is nothing about the Cardinals rush defense that should keep him off fantasy gridirons as a flex-play. The Patriots DST is a must start against an offensive line that has had a difficult time protecting its quarterback, and against an offense that turns over the ball through mistake-prone quarterback play.
COACH’S DECISION: Last week’s game against the Titans showed how there may not be enough balls to go around among the receiving options for the Patriots. Between WR Brandon Lloyd and WR Wes Welker, Lloyd seems to be worth a WR3 or flex-play while Welker is a candidate for the pine.
ON THE PINE: Regardless of which quarterback gets the start for the Cardinals, both John Skelton and Kevin Kolb should be avoided against a Patriots defense that pressured the quarterback last week. Likewise, the Patriots rush defense shut down Chris Johnson making both RB Beanie Wells and RB Ryan Williams poor starts this week. Outside of Larry Fitzgerald, there is not much to like in fantasy football among the very talented wide-receivers Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, and Michael Floyd until the quarterback situation works itself out. Both RB Danny Woodhead and WR Julian Edelman continue to get work in the offense but not so much to be fantasy football relevant at this time.
RAVENS (1-0) v. EAGLES (1-0)
This should be a dandy of a game insofar as it pits two comparable teams against each other. Both teams have good defenses, number one running backs, and similar receiving groups. The quarterback play is of course, slightly different. Also, each team is coming off two very different types of wins. This week, The Fantasy Greek feels the advantage goes to the Ravens whose new go-go offense has been outstanding in producing yardage and points against the defenders who have faced it. Besides, the Eagles could be missing key personnel or could be playing key personnel who are at less than 100%. The Fantasy Greek sees this as a Ravens win, in what could be a closer game than many might expect.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Eagles rush defense looked great last week. Still, due to his immense talent, and along with Eagles RB LeSean McCoy, Ravens RB Ray Rice is a must start as usual. Likewise, with all the problems Michael Vick had against the Browns last week, the Ravens DST is a must-start too.
COACH’S DECISION: QB Joe Flacco has been a pleasant surprise so far this season. This week’s game against the Eagles should be challenging. As Flacco should be your QB2, you likely have another starting option in fantasy football. If not, you could do worse by not playing Flacco. The same can be said of WR Anquan Boldin and WR Torrey Smith. Consider both WR3s this week. For the Eagles, QB Michael Vick did not look very good last week given the turnovers. Worse yet, the Ravens were top-five against the quarterback position in least fantasy points allowed last week, and last season. This is a week to bench Vick if you have a better option. The Ravens were a little more generous to wide-receivers in fantasy football. Still, wide-receivers Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are at best WR3s this week too. The Ravens have defended the tight-end position well, and TE Brent Celek makes for “On The Pine” material. The Eagles DST should be one of the better ones this season, but be aware that the Ravens new offense has also caused a reduction in fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses.
ON THE PINE: Fantasy footballers went crazy this past week with the performance of TE Dennis Pitta. However, recall last season there was a bit of switching between Pitta and TE Ed Dickson as the fantasy football flavor of the week. That could well be the case again this season. Besides, the Eagles defend the position well. If any of the other Eagles wide-outs get any play this week should Maclin or Jackson miss the game, treat them like you would Maclin and Jackson as referenced above for fantasy football purposes.
BROWNS (0-1) v. BENGALS (0-1)
Both the Browns and Bengals lost last week. The Browns looked good in the loss (at least defensively) but the Bengals didn’t. This should be a make-up game for the Bengals in front of the hometown fans. The Browns will likely be missing Joe Haden this week, and that should negatively impact their defense. The Bengals should post their first win of the season.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Neither team’s rush defense was particularly good last week so both Browns RB Trent Richardson and Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis are must starts. WR A.J. Green continues to be a must start in fantasy football and the Bengals DST should be on the fantasy gridiron given all the turnovers the Browns had last week. For fantasy footballers with TE Germaine Gresham on their roster, he can be treated as a TE1 option this week as the Browns gave up a boat load of fantasy points to the position last week.
COACH’S DECISION: QB Andy Dalton is being listed as a Coach’s Decision because The Fantasy Greek would like to seeDalton bounce back from the very poor game he had last week. Otherwise, The Fantasy Greek feels that fantasy footballers should have better QB1 options.
ON THE PINE: With all the issues QB Brandon Weedon had last week, it’s difficult to even consider any of the Browns wide-receivers — Greg Little Mohamed Massaquoi Josh Gordon Josh Cribbs Travis Benjamin — in fantasy football this week. The Fantasy Greek would like to point your attention to Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins who had eight receptions, on ten targets for roughly 85 yards. If Hawkins posts a similar stat line this week, he would become fanatsy football relevant. Avoid all other position players and the Browns DST this week.
TEXANS (1-0) v. JAGUARS (0-1)
The Texans started their season with a win over an overmatched opponent, the Dolphins, who all things considered, played them well. The Jaguars lost a close game against a Vikings team that they could have beaten. Things don’t get any easier for the Jaguars this week against a tougher Texans team, and The Fantasy Greek expects a Texans win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: RB Arian Foster is a normal must start, but add to that he faces a Jaguars rush defense that was torched by Adrian Peterson last week. WR Andre Johnson should remain active regardless of the match-up as should the Texans DST. RB Maurice Jones-Drew should be active as he usually does well regardless of the match-up.
COACH’S DECISION: Given the offensive weapons the Texans have, QB Matt Schaub is an option this week even though The Fantasy Greek has to think he is a QB2 for most fantasy footballers. Moreover, the Jaguars defense did a decent job limiting the quarterback position last week. The Jaguars didn’t defend the tight-end position very well last week and would have allowed more fantasy points but for the missed cues between Christian Ponder and Kyle Rudolph. As such, TE Owen Daniels can be active in fantasy football line-ups given the match-up and because he showed some chemistry with Matt Schaub last week.
ON THE PINE: There is no question that Texans RB Ben Tate is immensely talented but short of using him as a bye week replacement, or due to injury to Foster, he is tough to start in fantasy football on a week-to-week basis because of his inconsistent production. Don’t look now, but WR Lestar Jean is getting more and more playing time, and more and more looks, in the Texans passing game. He was targeted for a touchdown pass last week. While Jean may not be a fantasy football start just yet, if you have the roster space, add him as he is starting to look like the Texans best bet as a second (or even third) pass option to Andre Johnson. The Fantasy Greek notes that QB Blaine Gabbert had a very good outing last week. This week, Gabbert faces a Texans pass defense that has defended the pass well which makes Gabbert and receivers Justin Blackmon, Laurent Robinson, and Marcedes Lewis (and the others) benchable in fantasy football. The Jaguars DST should be avoided against a Texans team that does well in protecting the ball.
CHIEFS (0-1) v. BILLS (0-1)
The Chiefs and the Bills are teams that would like a do over of their Week 1 performances. Both teams lost by 16+ points and both of their highly-touted defenses were ineffective against their opponents. Expect one or both of these teams to make a huge statement this week. For purposes of picking the winner of this game, it’s a tough choice. There are positives and negatives pointing both ways. In the end, the Bills should be ashamed of their performance last week and bounce back this week for the win, before the Bills faithful.
ON THE GRIDIRON: As the Bills couldn’t slow the rushing or passing offense of the Jets, RB Jamaal Charles and WR Dwayne Bowe should be on fantasy football gridirons this week. For the Bills, RB C.J. Spiller is a must start as he posted close to 200 APY last week and will be the team’s main offensive weapon. Likewise, with the Chiefs pass defense struggling, WR Steve Johnson should be on all fantasy football gridirons.
COACH’S DECISION: The Chiefs should want to slow the pace of the game and as such, get RB Peyton Hillis more involved in the offense. However, should the game turn into a track meet again, Hillis could get washed out of the offense once more. Hillis is a flex-play to be considered with your other options this week. Dexter McCluster continues to make an impact in the passing game but has not posted the kind of numbers fantasy footballers have been looking for. Still, fantasy footballers starving for RB-WR options (check how your league categorizes McCluster) because of injuries, can consider McCluster as a band-aid this week. The Chiefs were among the top teams in most fantasy points allowed to the tight-end position last week so Bills TE Scott Chandler makes for a favorable alternative to your TE1. Both the Bills and the Chiefs had their share of turnovers last week so both the Chiefs DST and the Bills DST are fantasy football options this week. The Fantasy Greek expects the Bills to increase their share of corner blitzes, something that looked notably missing last week. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is listed as a coach’s option this week because if Matt Ryan can have a good game against this defense, so should Fitzpatrick. It won’t be Ryan-type numbers, but Fitzpatrick should be able to play better than he did last week such that he looks like the QB2 he was drafted as.
ON THE PINE: Chiefs QB Matt Cassel has his moments, and his moments are typically tempered by turnovers. Until one of the other wide-receivers for the Chiefs or the Bills distinguishes himself, avoid them all. The match-up for Chiefs tight-ends is not a favorable one.
VIKINGS (1-0) v. COLTS (0-1)
The Vikings must be pleased to have started their season with a win. The Colts, while certainly not happy with last week’s loss, had enough good plays that one can see the Colts playing well this season. Indeed, this should be a good game between two team’s whose strengths and weaknesses are slightly different. It’s a winnable game for both sides. Still, the Vikings seem to be a bit more well put together and should be able to win strictly based on running the ball against the Colts.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Colts rush defense has been awful so far, so along with other reasons, RB Adrian Peterson is a must start. Similarly, the Colts had issues stopping the pass, so expect WR Percy Harvin to have a big game this week. There was nothing about the Vikings pass defense where fantasy footballers should expect anything less than another good game from WR Reggie Wayne.
COACH’S DECISION: Colts QB Andrew Luck should play well this week, and making Luck a Coach’s Decision is an indication that this should be the case. Colts RB Donald Brown keeps on accumulating fantasy football points when least expected. This week should be no different so Brown can be evaluated with your other fantasy football options. The Vikings defense had no answer to defending the tight-end position last week so consider TE Coby Fleener a viable fantasy football starting option. This could be a week where Andrew Luck settles down, or it could be a week where the turnovers continue. In either case, it is a favorable match-up for theVikings DST.
ON THE PINE: While QB Christian Ponder’s star is on the rise, he doesn’t seem ready for fantasy football prime-time just yet even though The Fantasy Greek expects him to have a good week, this week. Avoid the Colts DST as the Vikings did a good job protecting the ball and Christian Ponder last week. There are no other players for either team worth fantasy football consideration at this time even though this would be a good time to see if any of the receiving options on either team distinguishes himself.
SAINTS (0-1) v. PANTHERS (0-1)
Both the Saints and the Panthers have their backs against the wall this week. For the Saints, they are facing the possibility of starting the season 0-2 for the first time in years. Worse yet, the Saints generally do not play well when visiting the Panthers. The Fantasy Greek is expecting a high scoring game. The Fantasy Greek is expecting that the Saints will play better than they did last week and better than they have in Carolinathan in seasons past. The Fantasy Greek expects a Saints win in a very, very close game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Even though this is a difficult match-up in general, QB Drew Brees, RB Darren Sproles, WR Marques Colston, WR Lance Moore, and TE Jimmy Graham remain must starts. With all the problems the Saints secondary has had, QB Cam Newton and WR Steve Smith should have big games this week.
COACH’S DECISION: The Panthers weakness tends to be their rush defense making Saints RB Mark Ingram an option as a low-end flex play. As The Fantasy Greek expects this to be a mostly a passing game, WR Brandon LaFell can be active as a WR3 or flex-play. While the Saints rush defense wasn’t very good last week, neither was the Buccaneers and yet RB DeAngelo Williams (along with the rest of the Panthers rush attack) was hardly used. If you are a fantasy footballer who has DeAngelo Williams, this is a good week to place him on the pine until the Panthers dedicate themselves to the rush. Otherwise, based on the match-up, he is a flex consideration along with RB Jonathan Stewart, who looks like he will play this weekend. If picking between the two, Stewart is the likely better flex option because of his use in the passing game.
ON THE PINE: While you would think TE Greg Olsen would make for a decent fantasy football option, the Saints generally defend the position well such that Olsen is not a TE1 option. No other players are worth starting on either team including their team defenses even though the Panthers DST is one to watch as it seems to have improved.
BUCCANEERS (1-0) v. GIANTS (0-1)
The one thing that stood out to The Fantasy Greek last week was how the Giants defense ended up being ineffective against the Cowboys and how the Buccaneers defense ended up being effective against the Panthers. The question remains whether the same can be true this weekend. The Buccaneers were certainly able to control last week’s game by their rush offense. In the end, The Fantasy Greek feels the Giants will be able to outscore the Buccaneers for the win. But, if the Buccaneers pulled off an “upset,” The Fantasy Greek wouldn’t be surprised either.
ON THE GRIDIRON: With the way the Giants defended both the rush and the pass last week against the Cowboys, RB Doug Martin and WR Vincent Jackson should be active in all fantasy football formats. With the way the Giants played last week, and the way the Bucs defended the pass last week, look for QB Eli Manning, WR Hakeem Nicks, and WR Victor Cruz to bounce back this week and to have success this week.
COACH’S DECISION: Because of the Giants struggles at pass defense, WR Mike Williams makes for a WR3 or flex-play option. However, TE Dallas Clark may not be such a good option as the Giants were able to defend the Cowboys tight-ends well last week. The Fantasy Greek likes what the Buccaneers DST did last week to keep the Panthers out of the end zone. So, while not a must start defense yet, the Bucs are one to monitor given the match-up this week. Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw looked strong last week while RB David Wilson did not. The Bucs rush defense looked very good. So, while Bradshaw makes for a decent flex, this is also a week where if you have better options, you should consider them. The Bucaneers did a great job protecting the ball and their quarterback last week. So, while the Giants DST could make for a decent option, it’s not the best either.
ON THE PINE: Even though it was a decent enough match-up, The Fantasy Greek is going to wait to see QB Josh Freeman have a good game before recommending him for a fantasy football start outside of the bye weeks. TE Martellus Bennett looked good last week for the Giants but this week he could find himself blocking what may very well be a fierce Buccaneers pass rush.