San Francisco @ Minnesota – A Fantasy Perspective

September 26, 2009

Can Frank Gore keep up the tear hes on against the Vikings front seven?  Hell have to, if the 49ers expect to win.

Can Frank Gore keep up the tear he's on against the Vikings front seven? He'll have to, if the 49ers expect to win.

There are only nine unbeaten teams left in this early NFL season.  This weekend two undefeated teams face off, when the Niners travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings.  It’s not much of a surprise the Vikings are 2-0 at this point in the season, after starting off against the Browns and Lions.  To some, the 49ers 2-0 start is a bit of a surprise, as they have been one of the worst teams in the NFL the past few seasons.  But since Mike Singletary took over last year in San Fransisco, the team has responded to his disciplined structure.  They’ve beaten two divsion rivals in a row and are looking to build on that start.  This game features the two best running backs in the NFC squaring off against solid defenses.  So let’s take a look at what this game has to offer – from A Fantasy Perspective.

Must Start:

Adrian Peterson (RB) Minn – Is this even a question?  Sure, All Day had the worst game of his career against the 49ers in 2007, putting up a total of three yards on fourteen carries.  But this one game should not discourage anybody from starting Peterson in this game.  He’s the best runner in the game, he’s averaging over six yards a carry on the season, and is even contributing in the passing game a bit.  Start him, sit back, and watch him battle Patrick Willis all day long.  He’s usually a good bet for 100 yards and a touchdown.

Frank Gore (RB) SF – He’s carrying the offensive load for San Fransisco, and has so far been able to fulfill the role of punishing runner for Mike Singletary’s desired smash mouth, grind-it-out offense.  The Glen Coffee changeup hasn’t occurred yet, only getting a handful of unproductive carries per game.  Gore is also catching about 4 balls a game and has accounted for over 50% of his teams offensive yards.  He’s facing the duo of Pat and Kevin Williams of the Vikings, but they haven’t been the wall they’ve been in the past, as the Vikes are allowing an average of 109 yards a game to the likes of such luminaries as Kevin Smith and Jamal Lewis.  Gore will produce.

Worth a Shot:

Hes teased us with potential for years now, lets see if it will finally show up on the football field.

He's teased us with potential for years now, let's see if it will finally show up on the football field


Vernon Davis (TE) SF – I may end up regretting suggesting Davis, as he has burned me numerous time in the past.  But he’s been got eight receptions on the season already and has been targeted in the passing game more this year than ever before.  He finally seems to be “getting it” and Singletary called him one of the team leaders.  This is a game where his team will need its leaders to stand up, so let’s see if he can respond.  The Minnesota pass rush is elite and should be hounding Shaun Hill everytime he drops back.  Given that Hill is only a mediocre quarterback, he will not be able to stretch the field, resorting to dumpoffs to his backfield and tight end.

Brett Favre (QB) Minn – He’s only averaging 130 yards through the first two games this season.  And Brad Childress would’ve been stupid to take the ball out of Peterson’s hands and force the ball through the air, as AP has been doing all the work so far this year.  However, this game could be a little different.  Patrick Willis and the San Fransisco defense will be focused on AP and I think after a few weeks of getting back in game shape, the baby gloves will come off and Favre will be allowed to air it out.  He’s got the weapons (Harvin, Berrian, Shiancoe, and Rice) and just need the opportunity.  This week, opportunity knocks.

Guys I’m Avoiding:

Shaun Hill (QB) SF – I feel guilty even mentioning this, as I hope nobody is starting him in a fantasy league.  And he isn’t losing game by throwing picks (he’s thrown zero) or throwing for a poor completion (about 65%).  But he’s so unimpressive, attemping only 30 passes a game, averaging 175 yards, and completing one touchdown this year.  The pass catchers on San Fransisco is uninspiring, consisting of Reverand Ike (Isaac Bruce), Josh Morgan and Arnaz Battle.  Who?  You should be able to do better on the waiver wire in most leagues.

Visanthe Shiancoe (TE) Minn – He broke out last year, with 7 touchdowns on 42 receptions, but has not yet built the rapport he needs with Brett Favre.  He’s certainly talented and a good red-zone threat, but fantasy leaguers want predictability and consistancy from their players.  Shiancoe can’t offer that yet this year with his 4 yards on 2 receptions.  Plant him on the bench until he shows some signs of life.  Good news though, Favre likes throwing to his tight ends, it just takes him a while to find one he trusts (See Dustin Keller’s second half last season).

This game will be an answer game for many football fans.  Obviously, we want to see if the 49ers can keep beating talented teams (yes, I think the Cards are talented…).  Also, we want to see what kind of stats to expect from Vikings players against servicable defenses, as the Lions and Browns hardly qualify to be considered respectable.  It’ll be interested to see the athletically vulnerable Shaun Hill responds to a big-time pass rush.  Can he avoid the sack and make a play down field?  And finally, this game will be interesting because we get to count how many bodies Adrian Peterson is able to leave in his wake.  The matchup of the most physically dominating runner in the league versus the most physically dominating linebacker in the league will sure be fun to watch.


Giants @ Cowboys – A Fantasy Perspective

September 18, 2009
The Cowboys have beaten the Giants 4 out of the last 5 meetings.  Well have to see if Dallas passing attack is for real or if the Giants front 7 can get to Romo first.

The Cowboys have beaten the Giants 4 out of the last 5 regular season meetings. We'll have to see if Dallas' passing attack is for real or if the Giants front 7 can get to Romo first.

Last week started another great NFL season and it offered everything we’ve been waiting 9 months to see.  We had blowouts, tight games, stunning individual performances and great team efforts.  The Broncos even gave us a thrilling end to a tight game, when Brandon Stokley came away with a tipped pass at the end to score the game winning TD.  The Jets introduced themselves as possible contenders, behind solid play from rookie Mark Sanchez and a stout defense.  This weekend promises to offer more excitement, so let’s take a look at one interesting game – from A Fantasy Perspective.

The Giants travel to Big D to open Jerry Jones behemoth of a stadium, this Sunday in Arlington.  Over/under on punts that hit the board: 1.5 for Jeff Feagles.  I’m almost certain that the Cowboys Mat McBriar is under strict orders from the man upstairs to avoid the massive scoreboard at all costs, punishable by death.  But the new stadium and 60 yard HD screen at Cowboys stadium isn’t the only reason to tune into this game, as it also offers some important fantasy insight as well.

Must Start:

Barber should be used to quite a bit, in an attempt to stifle the Giants pass rush.

Barber should be used quite a bit, in an attempt to stifle the Giants pass rush.

Marion Barber (RB) Dal – Barber was quite productive last week (14 car, 79 yds, 1 td, 5.6 yd/car) against Tampa Bay.  Talks of him sharing the ball with Felix Jones (six) and even Tashard Choice (two) are a bit overblown at the moment, as they were nothing near a committee last week.  Given how productive Barber was, it’s a great sign that he’s finally healthy.  This week, he faces a big time defense in New York.  Everyone knows about the Giants pass rush, which is why I think Barber is a good play.  He can grind out the tough yards between the tackles and Jason Garrett is going to have to slow the game down a bit to keep some of the pressure off of Tony Romo.  Not only is Barber a supreme goal line back, he can also catch the ball when Romo needs to check down due to pressure.

Roy Williams (WR) Dal – Roy Williams showed he can be the explosive receiver Jerry Jones gave up a ton in draft picks to get from Detroit last year.  He only caught 3 balls last week, but went for 86 yards and a score.  The New York secondary is not healthy at all; last week they started the day with only 6 defensive backs active.  You’ve got to know that besides Witten (who’s always a must-start in Romo land), Williams is going to be a very big target this week.  He can catch the underneath stuff, but he can also go over the top for the big play.  If Romo has time to throw, watch for him to look Williams way a lot this week.

Steve Smith (WR) NYG – He sure looked like New York’s number one last week.  He finished with 6 catches for 80 yards as Eli Manning’s security blanket.  He’s not afraid to go across the middle and always makes the tough catch for the Giants.  Eli’s obviously looking for him on third down, as Smith is playing a role similar to Welker’s in New England.  In PPC leagues, Smith should be owned and started in most leagues.  He’s not a big yardage guy, so in leagues that value that, he’s not what you’re looking for.

Worth a Shot:

Brandon Jacobs + Ahmad Bradhaw (RB) NYG – The Bucs were able to gash the Dallas defense for 174 yards last week by a combo platter featuring the oft-catastrophically injured Cadillac Williams and former Giant Derrick Ward.  The Giants duo is vastly more talented than Tampa Bay’s, so I’d consider starting both Jacobs and his change-of-pace, Ahmad Bradshaw.  Jacobs has had moderate success vs Dallas in his past three games against them (17 car/177 yd,/1 td, 14/54/1, 24/95/0) and is always a threat to score in any game that he’s healthy enough to play.  Bradshaw is the better play, as he had a big game last week and is a threat in the passing game.  When the ball is in his hands, he has the chance to make something special happen with his supreme speed.  He’s filling the role that Ward had in New York last year and he’s much more talented than Ward ever was.  I can see him seeing more time on the field this week as the Dallas defense hounds Eli all day.

Sure T.O. and Jessica Simpson are gone, but is all the drama in Big D?

Sure T.O. and Jessica Simpson are gone, but did all the drama in Big D go with them?

Tony Romo (QB) Dal – Not because he put up a career high last week against a Tampa Bay secondary in disarray, not because he’s “more comfortable” without T.O. on the team, and not because I think he’s a particularly good quarterback.  He’s not on all accounts.  The Giants pass rush is worth the hype (Osi + Tuck? Scary) but if Romo is upright long enough to throw the ball, I see Jason Garrett wanting to attack the beat-up Giants secondary.

Guys I’m Avoiding:

Dallas receivers not named Williams/Witten – Sure, Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin had big games last week, but it was against Tampa Bay.  Crayton was targeted 6 times to Austin’s 2, but Dallas doesn’t know who their number 2 is.  Crayton is atop the depth chart currently, but they really like Austin’s big-play ability.  While I love to gamble, I don’t like to risk fantasy points playing roulette on who might be the guy this week.

New York receivers not named Smith – I like Manningham, a lot.  But he saw only 4 targets, posting 3 receptions for 58 yards (30 came on one play he extended himself).  Hixon starts, but only saw 3 balls thrown his way in week one.  Hakeem Nicks looked real good, but he’s out with an ankle injury.  Just as in Dallas, I wouldn’t gamble on who might be number 2 in New York.

Eli Manning (QB) NYG – In their last 3 meetings, Manning hasn’t eclipsed even 200 yards per game.  He’s never been an accurate passer (last year was his career high at 60%) and the Giants aren’t volume passers.  That’s an equation for fantasy failure if you ask me.  He makes just as many mistakes as everyone else, but he doesn’t pass enough to make up for them.  While he was fine last week, this week he’ll face a good defense in a rabid atmosphere.  He’s easily flustered, so I’d make other arrangements this week.

As with most NFC East face-offs, this should be a good game.  These teams battle hard, and while Dallas has won 4 out of the last 5 regular season matchups, these games are always entertaining.  Division rivals, a little uncertainty at the wide receiver positions, punts hitting the scoreboard and drama queens at QB,  this game should be a good one.  Add Fox’s showcasing of the stadium and the flash and flair of a Jerry Jones event, I’m sure well be treated to something great.


Titans @ Steelers – A Fantasy Perspective

September 10, 2009

The NFL regular season kicks off tonight with the Tennessee Titans traveling to Pittsburgh to face the division rival Steelers.  While, football fans everywhere are ripe with anticipation to get this season started, fantasy football owners are eager to see if all their draft preparation is going to pay off.  neither team will be confused with offensive powerhouses, with the teams ranked 21-22 in total offense last season.  Both teams make their bread and butter with punishing run games, both offensively and defensively.  So in the land of fantasy, the running backs on these two teams are safe bets to be team MVP.

Let’s look at tonight’s matchup to see where fantasy value lies.

Must start:

Willie Parker (RB) Pitt – True, the Titans were ranked 6th in the league in rush defense last year.  But they’ve also lost the big man in the middle, Albert Haynesworth, to the Washington Redskins.  Sure, they’ve been quite good in his absences in the past, but lets see how they fare this year.  Fast Willie Parker is healthy for the first time in a year and is looking to regain his spot among the most underrated runners in the past couple years.

LenDale White (RB) Tenn – Chris Johnson has all the hype, and rightfully so, but White is the banger inside for the Titans.  While I won’t project a monster game from White, he has the best chance to score on a short yardage run against an aging Casey Hampton at DT and a LB corp missing Lawrence Timmons.

Worth a shot:

Santonio Holmes (WR) Pitt – This all depends on how Tennessee matches up against him.  If they stick Cortland Finnegan on him, he’s going to have a very tough night.  On the other hand, against Nick Harper, I like Holmes chances at grabbing a few balls thrown his way, including one over the top on a play action pass.

Bo Scaife (TE) Tenn – True, Pittsburgh’s linebackers are among the elite in the NFL.  But I expect the Steelers front 7 to bring constant pressure against Kerry Collins and he’ll be forced to dump off to the tight end.  In PPC leagues, Scaife should be a good source of decent production.

Chris Johnson (RB) Tenn – Runners drafted in the first round of fantasy drafts are drafted there for a reason:  they are expected to produce on a weekly basis.  And I’m not discounting his talent or offensive line.  He’s due for a monster season.  But against this defense, yards are going to be hard to come by, so White will be the grinder for the short stuff.  Would it surprise me to see Johnson go off for 100 yards and a TD tonight?  No, he’s a number one running back and thats what you draft them for.  But am I willing to bet on it, given capable replacements available?  No, I’d rather start a Ray Rice or even try my hand with a Mike Bell for a one-week gamble.

Is Big Ben in for more of the same tonight?

Is Big Ben in for more of the same tonight?

Guys I’m avoiding:

Kerry Collins (QB) Tenn – Notice the lack of Tenn receiver love listed here?  It’s because nobody knows who will step up and be the number one receiver. (A number one receiver means, according to Emmitt Smith earlier this week, “When I say No. 1, I mean your No. 1 go-to guy.”  Thanks Emmitt, for clearing that up for us)  Plus, Pittsburgh owns the number one pass defense in the league from last year, and only look better this year.

Ben Roethlisberger (QB) Pitt – Tennessee’s secondary is also top-ten in the league.  Big Ben has never been an accurate passer or a volume passer, which doesn’t bode well against the likes of Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin.  I’d look at my other options at QB if possible.

From a non-fantasy perspective, this game should be a good one.  Pittsburgh is out to defend its Super Bowl title and is trotting out pretty much the same team as last season.  With a healthy Willie Parker and a full season from William Gay at corner, Pittsburg is the team to beat in the division.  The Titans have alot to prove this year, in spite of their playoff run from a season ago.  Was Collins worth the investment at QB?  Who will catch the passes?  That’s just on the offensive side of the ball.  On defense, they’ve lost their coordinator and the most dominating defensive tackle in the game during the offseason.  It will be interesting to see how Jeff Fisher can get his team to respond to the changes.  He always manages to get his team to play above expectations, so don’t expect a huge drop-off, just don’t expect playoffs again either.