Game of the Week:
Baltimore Ravens @ Philadelphia Eagles: 1:00 P.M.
The Eagles Pass Rush vs. the Ravens Pass Blocking
Everyone saw how good Joe Flacco was against Cincinnati last week, 21-29 with 299 yards, 2 TD and no INT’s. However, against an extremely depleted Cincinnati front 4, the Ravens and Flacco still managed to allow 3 sacks. Everyone will be sure to get caught up in the hype about the Ravens new look no-huddle offense and will be quick to thrust Flacco to greatness, but I implore you that is a huge mistake. Remember that Flacco’s biggest Achilles heel is his penchant to hold onto the ball too long, as well as his lack of mobility.
Insert Eagles D-lineman Trent Cole and Jason Babin. The two combined for 29 sacks last year, which helped the Eagles repeat a Top-5 performance on the Adjusted Sack Rate Leaderboard - (Courtesy of FootballOutsiders.com).
If Flacco takes 5 sacks or more, the Ravens lose.
Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha vs. Ravens WR Torrey Smith
This is kind of a no-duh key matchup I’ll admit, but there are more game-changing elements under the surface. Nnamdi is obviously one of the best CB’s in football, but did you know he only allows 2.5 yards after the catch? That’s good for 12th best in the NFL last season. If Asomugha can blanket Torrey Smith all day, it will allow excellent pass-defending FS Nate Allen (77% Success Rate last year was best in the league for Safeties vs. the pass) to lock down Dennis Pitta and provide assistance to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as needed. Finally, Asomugha’s excellent coverage skills are sure to create much tougher reads for the aforementioned “hold-the-ball-too-long prone” Joe Flacco. Coverage sacks will play a huge factor.
Eagles WR vs. Ravens Defense
The Eagles are going to have serious problems all season long once again with their offensive-line as All-Pro LT Jason Peters is on IR with a Torn Achilles. Combine that with Vick’s inability to make quick pre-snap reads, and potential disaster awaits the Eagles every time they face a stout defense. The biggest problem for the Eagles this week is that each of their Top 4 WR are on the injury report. Riley Cooper is doubtful with a collarbone injury, Jeremy Maclin is questionable with a hip, DeSean Jackson is questionable with a hamstring, and Jason Avant is probable with a wrist injury. If Maclin or Jackson can’t go, it’s going to be a very tough day for the Eagles offense. If the Eagles abandon the run early, they can kiss their chances of winning goodbye.
Eagles’ Defense vs. Baltimore’s “21” personnel
The Ravens ran the “21” personnel package (2 RB 1 TE 2 WR) more than any team in the league last year. In fact, they used 37% of the time for an effective 5.8 yards per play and 13.8% DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value over Average). The Eagles however, were Top-5 in the league last season against 21 personnel (4.5 yards per play and -37.8% DVOA).
SS- Kurt Coleman- Questionable: Facial Lacerations
WR- DeSean Jackson- Questionable: Hamstring
WR- Jeremy Maclin- Questionable: Hip
WR- Riley Cooper- Doubtful: Collarbone
WR- Jason Avant- Probable: Wrist
FS- Ed Reed- Probable: Hamstring
Ravens WR- Torrey Smith is a borderline sit this week
Eagles QB- Michael Vick is a risky start this week in shallow leagues where better options are available
Ravens QB- Joe Flacco is a sit this week; (cautious approach)
Sit Eagles WR unless you have very limited options
Prediction: Baltimore wins 17-13
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WR- Steve Breaston vs. Buffalo Nickel-CB Leodis McKelvin:
Look for Breaston to have a big game against the much-maligned McKelvin. McKelvin was picked on heavily by the Jets last weekend, as Jeremy Kerley had 4 catches for 45 yards and a TD on 4 targets against him. Watch for Breaston and Bowe to be moved around to get that favorable matchup and for both of them to deliver in a big way.
CB Brandon Flowers- Questionable: Foot
RB Fred Jackson- Out: Knee
WR Stevie Johnson- Probable: Groin
Start WR Steve Breaston in PPR formats and in deeper standard leagues (should get somewhere between 5 catches for 65 yards and a TD)
Start WR Donald Jones in PPR formats if CB Brandon Flowers can’t play
Start RB CJ Spiller in absolutely every format
Prediction: Buffalo wins a tight game 20-17
Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham vs. Browns FS Usama Young
Gresham was targeted eight times against Baltimore but only hauled in three of them. Cincinnati O.C. Jay Gruden mentioned in the pre-season that he wanted to turn Gresham loose and use him like the Saints used Jimmy Graham. If that is the plan, it should certainly come to fruition against a young inexperienced FS like Usama Young.
LB Thomas Howard- IR: Torn ACL
RB- Bernard Scott- Questionable: Hand
TE- Donald Lee- Questionable: Thigh
DE- Carlos Dunlap- Questionable: Knee
CB- Jason Allen- Questionable: Quad
RB- Trent Richardson- Probable: Knee
Start TE Jermaine Gresham in all leagues
Start WR Andrew Hawkins in deep PPR leagues
Prediction: Browns and Bengals combine for more points than there will be viewers for the game. – 37
Bengals win 27-10
Bucs Tackle Donald Penn vs. either Justin Tuck or Jason Pierre-Paul
The Bucs have a very good inside portion of their o-line but Donald Penn often can be terrorized by speed rushers on the outside, and Jeremy “False-start” Trueblood needs to be locked in against the incredible Giants front 4.
The Giants will be without DE Chris Canty, who is part of their “Four Aces” (4 DE) package, so look for DT Linval Joseph to see a significant number of snaps.
If Donald Penn and Trueblood can at least not be horrible on the outside, the Bucs could cover the -7.5 point spread.
WR Arrelious Benn- Probable: Knee
RB LeGarrette Blount- Probable: Stinger
New York Giants:
WR Hakeem Nicks- Questionable: Foot
DT Chris Canty- PUP List/Out: Knee
CB Prince Amukamara- Questionable: Ankle
Start WR Mike Williams in PPR leagues
Start QB Josh Freeman in deeper leagues
Prediction: Giants win 27-20
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers: 1:00 P.M.
Panthers TE Greg Olsen vs. Saints FS Malcolm Jenkins
With Roman Harper likely playing the box safety again this year; that leaves Malcolm Jenkins to take on the opposing teams TE. Steve Smith is questionable for this weekend’s game, and if he can’t go, Olsen will be Newton’s # 1 target all day long.
New Orleans Saints:
CB Jabari Greer- Probable: Groin
WR Devery Henderson- Questionable: Concussion
WR Adrian Arrington- IR- Knee
RB Jonathan Stewart- Questionable: Ankle
WR Steve Smith- Questionable: Knee
Sit All Panthers RB
Start Panthers TE Greg Olsen
Start Saints RB Pierre Thomas as a flex play in deeper leagues
Start Panthers WR Brandon LaFell in PPR and/or deeper leagues
Prediction: Saints win 31-14
Cowboys @ Seahawks: 4:25 P.M.
Seahawks crowd vs. False Start happy O-Line of Dallas and Tony Romo
Bottom Line: Sometimes the better team on paper loses the game, and I predict that to happen this week, where Qwest Field should be rockin’ and Tony Romo will not be.
C Phil Costa- Out: Back
DT Jay Ratliff- Out: Ankle
LB DeMarcus Ware- Questionable: Hamstring
SS Gerald Sensabaugh- Probable: Concussion
TE Jason Witten- Probable: Spleen
WR Sidney Rice- Questionable: Knee
RB Marshawn Lynch- Probable: Back
Sit WR Kevin Ogletree for now; make him prove it wasn’t a fluke against a young and inexperienced CB in Michael Coe (last week)
Sit WR Sidney Rice except in deep PPR leagues
Sit TE Jason Witten if you have a better option
Prediction: Seahawks win 20-17 (spread is Seahawks +3.5)
Jets @ Steelers: 4:25 P.M.
Jets CB Kyle Wilson vs. either Mike Wallace or Antonio Brown
Darrelle Revis is out this week with a concussion. Kyle Wilson will be starting in his place on the outside, something he isn’t accustomed to doing. The ability of FS LaRon Landry to help out Wilson over the top on either Wallace or Brown will be crucial in this game.
New York Jets:
CB Darrelle Revis-Out: Concussion
TE Dustin Keller- Out: Hamstring
WR Stephen Hill- Questionable: Calf
SS Troy Polamalu- Questionable: Calf
LB James Harrison- Doubtful: Knee
RB Jonathan Dwyer- Probable: Foot
Sit all Steelers RB for now until Todd Haley stops playing musical RB’s
Start WR Emmanuel Sanders in deep PPR leagues (Revis is out, so Jets CB depth is light)
Start RB Shonn Greene in deeper lgs only. (I will still hold stead-fast in my belief that he is terrible)
Sit QB Mark Sanchez (No-brainer)
Prediction: Without Revis, the Jets lose 27-17
Lions @ 49ers: 8:00 P.M. (The Handshake Bowl)
Lions RB Kevin Smith vs. LB Patrick Willis
The Lions must be able to run the ball against the 49ers, or they won’t be able to set up play-action. With Carlos Rogers and most likely DashonGoldson also helping over the top on Calvin Johnson, it will be very important to keep the safeties honest with play-action. If the Lions can’t run the ball effectively, the 49ers will just drop 9 into coverage, which they are very prone to doing because their linebackers have great closing speed from coverage into stopping the run.
LB NaVorro Bowman- Probable: Shoulder
FS Louis Delmas- Questionable: Knee
WR Calvin Johnson- Probable: Foot
Start WR Nate Burlesson in deep PPR leagues. If Chris Culliver or Terrell Brown have to help with a double team on MegaTron, Burlesson should be matched up against a linebacker or safety.
Start TE Vernon Davis in absolutely every single format (especially if Delmas is out)
Sit RB Kevin Smith
Sit QB Matthew Stafford if you’re feeling really gutsy
Prediction: Surprise pick of the week, I take the 49ers 34-13 in a blowout. (spread is only -6.5 for San Fran)
Written by Josh Kay exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com. For more great fantasy analysis, follow Josh on Twitter @Rays_Nut1292