Grantland’s Fantasy Island: Week 2 NFL Previews
So as I told you a little while ago, I’m competing against nine outstanding writers to become Grantland’s next fantasy football writer. I’ve corresponded with the other contestants enough to know that I am surely in the bottom half in terms of writing ability, and perhaps the worst one of the bunch. I’ll try not to embarrass myself too much and represent The DC Times well.
Yesterday, a few of our Week 2 previews were posted. I had three of mine published, which is sure better than the one I had up last week. Here’s a sample:
Chiefs at Bills
Player to start: Ryan Fitzpatrick
I’m fully aware that Fitzpatrick is, um … awful, but lost in the mix of the Jets’ thrashing of Buffalo last week is that Fitzpatrick is going to get plenty of chances to air it out this season. Statistically, attempts are way more important than efficiency for quarterbacks (in the fantasy world, that is). Think about it — the top quarterbacks average around 8.5 yards per attempt, but even the league’s worst quarterbacks check in around three-fourths of that number.
The difference is that quarterbacks in conservative offenses — the Alex Smith and Mark Sanchez–esque players — chuck the rock about 65 percent as often as Drew Brees & Co. Simply put, passing attempts are important, and Fitzpatrick figures to do a whole lot of throwing against the Chiefs.
— Jonathan Bales
And since all of the content I wrote will become useless after tomorrow’s games, here are the rest of my Week 2 previews that didn’t get published. . .
Browns @ Bengals: Benjarvus Green-Ellis
To collect fantasy points from this game, you should be forced to sit and watch it in its entirety. If that happened, all of a sudden there’d be about 15 million people instantly looking to trade A.J. Green.
So why isn’t Green the choice here? After all, Browns cornerback Joe Haden just got suspended for taking a performance-enhancing drug that he has nicknamed “Adderall.” Well, don’t be tricked by the Browns’ pass defense; it’s sneaky good. And by ‘sneaky good’ I mean they get down so big and so early that teams just don’t throw on them. Plus, they’re going to roll coverage to Green’s side and force Andy Dalton to look elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Green-Ellis should rack up a whole lot of carries and possesses the best odds of scoring out of anyone on the field. Actually, Bengals center Jeff Faine probably has a better chance of scoring than anyone on the Browns.
Vikings @ Colts: Percy Harvin
If you’re in a point-per-reception league, there’s pretty much nothing that should be on your mind more than Percy Harvin. Have kids? You have from February to August to give them attention. Right now, it’s Percy time. A wife? A mortgage? Put those off to the side. Percy deserves your undivided attention. You’ll be happier in the long run.
Oh, here’s another reason. Harvin garnered eight targets and five carries last week against the Jaguars. Even with All Day back in the mix, Harvin’s do-it-all versatility and projected heavy workload make him slump-proof. He’ll post over 100 total yards and a score against Indy.
Saints @ Panthers: Cam Newton
Guess who had a horrible Week 1 and is forcing fantasy owners to consider unloading him? Cam Newton. Guess who is going to bounce back in a big way in Week 2 and make all of the shrewd owners who trade for him look like a regular Jonathan Bales? Cam Newton.
There’s no better time to make a move for the second-year star, especially with New Orleans on tap. RGIII absolutely lit up the Saints in their own home. Newton is RGIII with more experience and a stronger arm.
Titans @ Chargers: Chris Johnson
11 carries for four yards. 11 carries for four yards. I own CJMaybeK in a bunch of leagues, and I can’t stop saying it either. Look, that’s what you’re gonna get with this guy at times. But you’ll also get games with 150 yards and two touchdowns, so you can’t sit him in favor of “that new rookie on Washington whose name I can’t remember. He killed it in Week 1 bro!”
The Titans know they have to get Chris Johnson going to win this year. They’ll do it in San Diego this week.
Raiders @ Dolphins: Reggie Bush
The Raiders held Chargers running back Ronnie Brown to all of five yards on Monday night, so why in the hell would I think Bush will go off against them? Well, Bush is basically a wide receiver who lines up in the backfield to take handoffs from time to time, so facing a stout run defense isn’t really a huge negative. Ryan Tannehill will continue to look to get the ball to Bush in a hurry with Richard Seymour on his ass.
Cardinals @ Patriots: Stevan Ridley
With Shane Vereen still hobbled, this is a no-brainer. In New England, the Patriots are pretty much a lock to walk all over Arizona. Playing only 40 snaps last week, Ridley racked up 21 carries for 125 yards and a score. He’ll see that same workload against the Cards, so you can pretty much take triple-digit yards and a minimum of one touchdown to the bank. You’ll have to wait a day, though.
Ravens @ Eagles: Brent Celek
Ray Lewis is weak in coverage. There, I said it. He’s outstanding against the run and perhaps the best leader in the history of the NFL, but the guy is stiff-hipped and lacks the explosiveness middle linebackers need to run down the seam with today’s top tight ends. Please, please don’t tell him I’m saying this.
With the Ravens’ front seven focusing on LeSean McCoy, playaction passes should open things up for Celek over the middle. Michael Vick may or may not be afraid to test Ed Reed with deep looks to his speedy outside receivers, but he’s sure to look Celek’s way on numerous occasions.
Cowboys @ Seahawks: Miles Austin
Dez Bryant will be the Cowboys’ premiere fantasy option in 2012, but Austin will outperform him this week. The Seahawks are likely to place Richard Sherman—their top cornerback—on Dez Bryant, leaving Brandon Browner to cover Austin. Browner yielded 8.73 yards-per-attempt in 2011. At 6’3’’, 221 pounds, Browner lacks the quickness to keep up with Austin, especially if he moves into the slot with Austin in nickel situations.
Redskins @ Rams: Bob Griffin Triple-I
Unless you own one of the league’s elite fantasy quarterbacks, RGIII should be starting for you this week in St. Louis. The Rams somehow stifled Matthew Stafford in Week 1, but there’s no way they’ll maintain that level of play. Don’t forget that this is a defense that allowed 198 passing yards in a single quarter against the Cowboys in the preseason. Plus, Bob’s dual-threat game makes him a relatively safe bet even if St. Louis comes to play.
Jets @ Steelers: Dustin Keller
Last season, Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior allowed an 82.1 percent completion percentage and over 10 yards-per-attempt. The Steelers aren’t the Bills, but their linebackers are pretty bad in coverage. Unless Pittsburgh places Troy Polamalu on Keller, which is highly unlikely, the tight end should have a field day over the middle, especially when the Steelers blitz and Mark Sanchez looks to throw hot.
Lions @ Niners: Vernon Davis
You know how I really like in this game? No one. I can’t find a single damn player that I feel will outperform their perceived value, and that includes Megatron. But how can you overlook the tight end who can’t jump high enough to spike a football over the goal post? Uh, ya can’t.
Broncos @ Falcons: Jacquizz Rodgers
The Broncos do a really nice job of generating pressure on the quarterback without sending extra rushers. They can sit back in a safe zone and still get to Matt Ryan on Monday night, forcing the quarterback to check down. Those check-downs won’t be to starting running back Michael Turner, whose one-dimensional game is getting phased out of Atlanta’s offense. Rather, they’ll be to Pop Quizz, who could catch five passes to go with his 10 or so carries, making him a nice flex play in PPR leagues.