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.
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.
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.