I knew it. I just knew it. Two weeks ago the Philadephia Eagles porous offensive line allowed relentless pressure on their star quarterback. Cornerbacks Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown stayed on Jeremy Maclin and Joe Haden like white on rice. With two deep safeties over the top, Michael Vick had absolutely no one to throw to. He got frustrated, forced throws and ended up with four picks. I’m no offensive coordinator and don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of offensive game planning or halftime adjustments, but it puzzled me that they didn’t start calling more shorter patterns and slants. Heading into week two it stood to reason that if Marty Mornhinweg had any sense at all, he’d get Brent Celek more involved as a safety valve as the Ravens defense would assuredly attack Phily the same way. But if he had that sense to make the adjustment why would he WAIT until week two? Why wouldn’t he just make an in game adjustment against the Browns? Indeed, if he’s not smart to make the change during the game, why should I think he’s smart enough to EVER make the change?
This was the dilemma facing me with Antonio Gates and his questionable tag in a 4pm kickoff and Brent Celek set to go at 1pm. Do I play the matchup? Or do I damn the torpedoes and stick with my stud? We’ve all been there before. Seems like a catch 22. If I ‘play it safe’ and bench Gates, Celek will catch 2 for 17 yards while Gates will catch 7 for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. If you try to get cute analyzing things you often pay the price with an abundance of points on your bench and a potential victory down the tubes. I went with Gates. He always guts it out and plays right? Yes he does, until you need him. That’s how it always works in fantasy. Murphy will get you every time.
The other stud/matchup decision came down to Jay Cutler and his ‘great’ matchup vs. the Packers in what was billed as a shootout, or Michael Vick and his ‘brutal’ matchup against Ray Lewis and the Ravens. Vick’s O-Line went from bad to worse during the game as when they lost center Jason Kelce and tackle King Dunlap. Before the attrition, number seven was battered and bruised at every turn, even getting drilled as he handed off to LeSean McCoy. I played the matchup here instead of the stud got burned. In retrospect, the Packers game was a trap. Green Bay’s defense was lit up in the press. Jay Cutler talked a ton of trash leading up to the game. Coming off of the home loss to the 49ers, the Pack was a caged Lion that had been prodded and teased with something to prove in front of a captive national football audience (Thursday night and the only NFL viewing choice). Jay Cutler usually doesn’t fare well when the pressure is on, so the faith I put in him was misguided.
The moral to the story is to play your studs, unless his name is Antonio Gates and you don’t have a backup. As a general rule, matchups should only come into play with similar caliber players.
Brandon Myers remains unclaimed in a few leagues. I picked him up in a couple leagues on the cheap wherever I had room last week. In game one against the Chargers not a single Raider receiver could get open consistently or gain separation from corners. The result was that Darren McFadden led the team with 13 receptions. The problem was that the chargers limited the damage to yardage between the 20’s. Oakland simply had no red zone or possession threat, until late in the second half when Carson Palmer discovered that he had 6’4” 250 pound tight end. Myers has caught all eleven of his targets this year. He’s just too big and strong to defend. When defenders initiate contact to gain an advantage before the ball arrives, his arms cut through them like paper machete. Grab him if he’s still available.
Darryl Richardson looked like the best back on the Rams roster in preseason. Looks can often be deceiving but in this case they weren’t. He’ll most likely remain no more than a weak flex option as long as the durable Steven Jackson is healthy (his hammy is said to be minor), but worth a stash if you have space. The problem is that he is likely to be extremely expensive after his coming out party in week two.
If you’re looking for the next Darryl Richardson now for a buck and you have dead space to fill, Darius Reynaud excelled in the preseason and SHOULD be the number two in Tennessee. The only problem there is that Chris Johnson never gets injured. How many running backs can you say that about?
Marcel Reese is a beast, if Oakland would just give him the rock he would explode, but the Raiders have been blind to his talent for years. The odds of them finally waking up are slim, but if they did, he would be a tremendous fantasy asset.