If I were to sum up most of my picks from last week it would be ‘bleh’, because, by and large, I was wrong on my prognostications, and the players I wanted to tell you to start, I didn’t. With that said, a few of my picks were hits – Kikaha, Smith, McCoy, and Moore. By my standards, four is a very low number, and I WILL do better this week. After all, nobody wants to start off the season 0-2.
Thomas Davis (LB/CAR)- Luke Kuechly’s availability looks murky at best, after he left the Panthers’ Week 1 contest versus the Jaguars with a concussion. If he is a no-go, the tackling machine Davis gets an added boost as the Panthers take on the offensively challenged Houston Texans in Week 2. Houston’s QB situation is a revolving door between Ryan Mallet and Brian Hoyer, with the only true threat being Hopkins at this point on offense. With a lack of a run game, expect the Panthers to chase Mallett all day on Sunday. Davis has never been a high sack linebacker, but triple digit tackles are his specialty, and this week, double digit tackles are a lock. (Photo courtesy of abcnews.go.com)
Lamarcus Joyner (CB/StL)- Crap! I have Alfred Morris in multiple fantasy leagues and I am considering benching him because of the following facts facts: The Rams just defeated the Seahawks by beating them at their game. The Seahawks’ offense has been predicated on the success of the run, then Wilson making some plays with his arm. Last Sunday, the Rams shut down the Seahawks run game allowing zip for scoring touchdowns and only 124 yards total for rushing. Take away Alfred Morris and DeSean Jackson, ands that leaves Pierre Garçon doubled and Jordan Reed the main threat in this offense (Reed had a score last week versus Miami). This makes Joyner a solid play again as he is a good blitzer for a safety and is very instinctive. With E.J. Gaines (foot) gone all season, Joyners’ opportunity to make a name for himself in this defense is knocking.
Aaron Lynch (LB/SF)- If you go back and read my Linebacker Rankings (5/5) from this past offseason, I explicitly said that Lynch was the 49ers linebacker to watch, and if Week 1 was any indication, I was correct. He may have only contributed one sack Monday Night versus the Vikings, but what he did was create opportunities for other playmakers on the defense to chip in as well. This helped ruin Adrian Peterson’s coming back party and derailed the Vikings offense. With Aldon Smith (Oakland) gone for good, Lynch is the edge rusher to own and the one who will be the biggest source of sacks for the 49ers this season. Coming through college, he had a questionable motor and there were questions about his weight fluctuations, but as long as he stays focused, Lynch is an emerging monster. The Steelers are a much better offensive team than the Vikings, so while Lynch’s stats may not matchup his output from Week 1 (3 tackles, 1 sack and a pass defensed), he should not be that far off as he will get into the backfield and make life hard for DeAngelo Williams. Taking Big Ben down is another question though.
Marcus Williams (CB/NYJ)- Until Frank Gore and Andre Johnson learn the Colts offense, with Wayne out, Andrew Luck could have some happy feet in the pocket, opening up chances for big plays by opposing defenses, especially if top wideout Hilton misses time with his injured knee. The Jets forte is not their offense, it is their defense. Williams is a name you need to keep tabs on because he is a ballhawk who plays alongside two shutdown corners. Despite his success in Week 1, look for Luck to test Williams’ playmaking ability against the Colts receivers, outside of Hilton. There is potential here for a big day with some old faces in new places and young receivers adjusting to the offense, but Luck is a special Qb, so prepare for balls to be thrown Williams’ way. (Photo courtesy of newsday.com)
Big Names to AVOID
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB/NYG)- Normally I would say DRC is a smart play, but not this week against Atlanta. Julio Jones is proving nearly impossible to cover, and the Giants would be better off using multiple defenders to try to slow him down, as one will not be enough. True, the eagles secondary can be shredded any week, but Jones is not any receiver, and when he is healthy is virtually uncoverable. Rodgers-Cromartie is a physical corner who will contest for the ball and take the ball away from receivers, but he still may not have enough umph to disrupt Jones. If the Giants want to have a prayer at limiting the damage, it will take a team effort between Rodgers-Cromartie, Prince Amukamara, and the rest of their secondary.
Chandler Jones (DE/NE)- If you watched the Bills in Week 1, you would have noticed they are developing a decent offense led by Tyrod Taylor. The Patriots should be on upset alert this weekend versus the Bills because Percy Harvin and LeSean McCoy are always threats when they touch the pigskin and Taylor has escapability when he feels pressure. A healthy Jones is vital to the Patriots defense in 2015, as he will be a threat for double digit sacks and nice fumble tallies this season, but this is not the matchup for him to have success. This could be a lower scoring affair than many belive because the Bils have a more competent secondary than the Patriots last opponent (Pittsburgh).
James Ihedigbo (S/DET)- The punisher of the Lions safeties when the Lions and Vikings face off in Week 2, the Vikings will likely deploy a run-heavy approach with ballhawks Glover Quin and Ihedigbo manning the middle of the field. With DeAndre Levy (very questionable) always a threat to knock passes down at the line of scrimmage, there will be points to be had for Detroit’s defense, but not likely in the secondary. A rusty AP can still present problems for the Lions defensive unit, especially if Levy is out. In two games versus the Vikings last season, Ihedigbo managed eight tackles in two contests.
Ricardo Allen (CB-S/ATL)- There is an opportunity for a player to make noise beside William Moore in Atlanta’s secondary. Allen looked solid in Atlanta’s opener, securing the game sealing pick in the final moments of the game. Originally thought to be a cornerback when the Falcons drafted him in 2014, he was awful in coverage and the falcons moved him to free safety in the offseason and he will get his shot at proving to be the hawk the Falcons need. Despite his lack of coverage skillsand ideal speed for a free safety (4.61/40), he is more than able to cover ground and diagnose plays, putting him in a position to make plays on the ball. (Photo courtesy of wlfi.com)
Kendall Langford (DT/IND)- Remember the days when Langford was a must start at DE in fantasy leagues? Didn’t think so, as you would have to go back to 2010 when he was with the Dolphins to find a fantasy relevant version of him. He was horrible in St. Louis’ 4-3 defense in 2012-13, before flashing hope in 2014 when he registered five sacks and four passes defensed. In a 3-4 defense, where he can play more naturally in his DT role, Langford could prove to be a great wire grab for those in need of a DT. With the run-heavy Jets on tap, Langford could be a great plug and play in in Week 2. I am aware that the Jets have Marshall and Decker at receiver, but do you really want to rely upon Ryan Fitzpatrick to rope the football around while Geno Smith recovers from being sucker punched? Fitzpatrick is a game manager, plain and simple. With a pretty good Colts corner squad on tap, expect Ground and Pound to be in full effect in Week 2. Langford is good for a handful of tackles and a sack this week.
Lamarr Woodley (DE-LB/ARZ)- A date with the sketchy Bears offensive line cures all ills. Since Cutler joined the Bears he is liable to be sacked at least twice a game, and there is no reason to believe why Woodley won’t grab one of the likely two or three sacks the cardinals record this week as the pass rush deficient Cardinals will tee off on the Bears o-line this week. The most likely candidate to step up on the edge, outside of Okafor, could be weakside backer Woodley. He may not be the sack artist he was for Pittsburgh from 2008-2012 on the Steel Curtain, but he will still be a solid bye-week matchup play and sneaky sack source. (Photo courtesy of pastapadre.com)
Standard Leagues Defense
Buffalo Bills D/St- No, I am not crazy suggesting you play them against Tom Brady and Co. They just blanketed the Colts high octane passing offense and have a slew of playmakers on their defense, namely Stephon Gilmore, Preston Brown, and Mario Williams. The Bills secondary is not elite, but it is better than most expected and the Bills will try blanketing Gronk until someone shows they can step up beside him for the Patriots offense with Blount returning from suspension. Gilmore is a very underrated corner, and the matchup between him and Gronk could loom large in this divisional showdown. No, I would not be concerned about Lagarette Blount being an impact, nor any of the other Patriots RBs posing threats to the Bills defensive line.
Lions D/St- Golden Tate is a threat in the punt return game, and until the Vikings figure out how to stabilize the offense with “All Day” back in the fold they could scuffle, especially if they cannot get Charles Johnson open or give the speedster Mike Wallace room to operate. The 49ers had their way with the Vikings offense Monday Night and the Lions could fair similarly, even without Levy because Tulloch is a force to be reckoned with and the Lions secondary is full of thieves. If the Vikings play catchup in this one, there will be a plethora of opportunities for the Detroit secondary to make plays, and if Tate can provide a nice yardage total in the punt return game, this could be a solid week for Detroit’s defense.
As we all know, we must allow for the ebbs and flows of the fantasy season to play out. Thus far with only one week in the bag, there is still plenty of time to right the ship. Let’s all hope our defense shows up this week as mine left me hanging badly last week. Ah well, Week 2 with fresh starts is here.
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Major League Fantasy Sports Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday September 20th from 11-12:45pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live call in questions at 646-915-8596. We will be breaking down everything fantasy related for the coming days games.
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