Here’s Part II of our Week 6 Fantasy Tips. . .
- Atlanta simply does not possess any one guy in their secondary who can slow down Steve Smith. The Falcons secondary is not physical at the line of scrimmage and Atlanta runs almost all zone coverages. Smith has enough veteran savvy to get open underneath the zone coverage. Where he should continue to excel is on the outside down the field. His quickness makes double moves nearly impossible to cover. He torched a Bears D that played a lot of zone and should do the same this week.
- We really like Michael Turner’s chances to get back on track this weekend on the ground. The Panthers’ LBs have really struggled to fill any holes and tackle running backs at the line of scrimmage. Their LBs are not aggressive and do not display great instincts. This combination causes them to get sealed off of plays and blocked easily from backside Guards and Tackles. The Falcons have struggled at times this year to get off onto the 2nd level, but this will be masked by the LBs ability to fill holes. If the Falcons want to get their offense back on track, they need to get back to running the football with Turner. This will not only make Matt Ryan better, but will keep a high powered Panthers offense off the field.
- Against teams that utilize their TEs in the passing game, the Panthers have really struggled. Their numbers are deceiving because the TEs are almost obsolete in the passing game with Jacksonville and Chicago. If Julio Jones cannot play, Ryan is going to have more targets to go around; expect a good portion of those to go Tony Gonzalez’s way. The Panthers run a lot of Cover 2 coverage, which will give Gonzalez a lot of space up the seam. The LBs struggled last week covering an athletic specimen in Jimmy Graham. Even though Tony is not in the prime of his physical career, he is smart enough to get open against any coverage.
- There is no way Jahvid Best breaks out again this week like he did last week against the Bears. The 49ers Defense is simply too physical and too disciplined to allow a guy to go 80+ yards nearly untouched. The Lions have seen the same tape we have and definitely understand that they are not going to have any consistent success running the ball. The Lions could utilize the 49ers DL success against them by mixing in some screens and draws, but with Patrick Willis looming in the middle do not expect Best to put up good numbers.
- The 49ers have allowed consistent production to opposing TEs week in and week out. Last week on film, Kellen Winslow was able to put up good numbers even with a QB that is struggling to throw the ball consistently. Winslow was consistently able to get clean releases off the line and he was rarely a focus of the 49ers LBs. Their eyes were almost always on the QB which allowed Winslow to run his routes without any problems. Matthew Stafford is a smart enough QB to notice this and take advantage. He should be able to manipulate the LBs enough to get Brandon Pettigrew open up the seam so that he can have a good day in the pass game.
- The Lions Defense has not given up any huge days to running backs this season, but they have also not shut down any either. The 49ers might be committed more to the running game than any other team in football. Now that Frank Gore is finally healthy, they have started to translate that dedication into success. The 49ers are going to have to control the game and keep the Lions Offense off the field. The Lions line their DEs out wide which makes it hard for them to be factors in runs off the Guard and Tackle. The 49ers are a powerful football team and they should be able to control the Lions front 4 and get onto the 2nd level to have a good day running the football.
- We are really nervous about advising any Rams player on the offensive side of the ball. The Rams have had two weeks to prepare for this game, but we really do not anticipate them being able to make any drastic changes so that Sam Bradford stays on his feet. The Packers’ defense does a good job defending the run, but that is also because teams fall behind so quickly that they must try to catch up through the air. The Packers will be committed to stopping Steven Jackson at the beginning of the game and once they get a lead they will get creative in getting after Sam Bradford. The Rams offense should really struggle and the Packers Defense could put up big points this week.
- We like everything about the Packers passing attack. Aaron Rodgers seemed like he was slowed down initially last week, but at the end of the game he still had great numbers. The only downfall to such a talented offense is that there sometimes are not enough balls to go around. We anticipate that the Packers passing game will have its way in the beginning of the game, but we think they could incorporate their rushing attack much more this week. Ryan Grant fumbled last week which really took him out of the coaching staff’s good graces. So, we like James Starks a bit more this week. He will not put up overly impressive numbers on the ground but should be used enough late in the game to warrant a spot in your lineup if you are getting crushed by bye weeks.
- Fred Jackson has another great rushing matchup this week. Last week against the Eagles, Buffalo showed a commitment to run the ball. The Bills took advantage of the Eagles over aggressive ends and their poor LB corps. For the Giants, what has stood out is their inability to stop the run when in their nickel formations. Buffalo is a team that runs primarily out of 3 and 4 WR sets which forces teams to play Nickel personnel. Of their 64 offensive plays, the Bills utilized 3 or 4 WRs 45 times; 70% of the time. The Giants are going to be put in an uncomfortable position defensively which will bode very well for Fred Jackson.
- Hakeem Nicks should have a great week. The Buffalo CBs continue to give up big plays down the field, which is one of Nicks’ strengths. The Giants utilize his size and speed combination to run him on a lot of plays in the intermediate and deep portions of the field. Teams have been throwing often against the Bills and have had success doing it. If the Bills continue to put up points, Eli is going to have to throw the ball and we anticipate he will look Nicks’ way often. An added bonus is Nicks’ ability to attack the ball in the air near the goal line, something the Bills secondary struggles to defend.
- With the injury to Donald Jones, the Bills WR corps is depleted and without one of their consistent deep threats. This provides an opportunity for a guy like Brad Smith or Naaman Roosevelt to step in, but more importantly will open up more opportunities for a guy like Steve Johnson. The Giants are tied for 26th, in the last 8 games, in pass plays of 20 or more yards allowed. Johnson does not possess great deep speed, but runs good routes and attacks the ball well in the air. To help the offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to have to take some shots down the field. This will not only help them generate more big plays, but will stop the defense from condensing and limiting their short pass offense. Look for Johnson to take advantage of a zone defense with some big plays underneath and down the field.
- With all the criticism the Eagles have faced these past few weeks, we think that they are going to come out firing on all cylinders. They are at a point where the things they have been doing have not been working, so we think they are going to go back to their high flying ways of last season. When they had success last year they were taking shots down the field and letting Michael Vick freelance much more. This is sort of a do or die game for the Eagles’ season and we expect Andy Reid and his staff to not hold their playmakers’ back.
- The Redskins offense is extremely efficient in how they get their WRs open. They utilize a lot of minus splits and bunch formations to help their WRs get clean releases off of the line of scrimmage. This will be a big help against a talented Philadelphia secondary. Not only that but their ability to send guys all over the field out of these formations will force the Eagles LBs to get involved in coverage. As we have said the past few weeks, this group of guys are not extremely talented and struggle at times when they are left in space. If Rex Grossman can stay upright, he should be able to distribute the ball efficiently.
- Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham should not be slowed down at all from the Tampa Bay Defense. Running a lot of cover 2, Brees will have his way getting the ball out to the soft spots all over the field. Jimmy Graham’s athleticism has been on display the past few weeks, but the Bucs really have no answer schematically or personnel wise on how to stop him. On film, Drew Brees could arguably be the most talented passer up the seam in the NFL; having Graham definitely helps Brees have success in that area.
- With LeGarrette Blount possibly having to sit out this week, Earnest Graham will see a big increase in carries. With Josh Freeman struggling recently, the Bucs should look to refocus on the running game. The Saints Defense is not overly stout at stopping the run. Against the Panthers they were prone to big plays in the running game with their inability to protect against the cut-back lanes. The Bucs play to Blount’s strengths, when he is in the game, through their power running game. Graham is more of an elusive back and should be able to have some success running counters and bend backs. If they start to have success doing that, the LBs will be unable to over pursue which will create more running lanes for the offense.
- We have seen on film that Mike Williams’ struggles this year stem more from teams starting to figure out the strengths of his game and taking them away. Williams does not have great speed and was used last year on plays over the middle of the field. He has a big body, good hands and the ability to run after the catch. Teams have started to game plan against him and have been lining their CBs inside of Williams and forcing them to beat him outside and over the top of the defense. Williams has had 39 targets this year and has only caught 19 of those. He has had some drops this year, but teams have also been able to bat down a good number of passes thrown his way.
- Adrian Peterson finally got touches for two halves and had a great day because of it. The Bears are just coming off of a game where Jahvid Best rushed for over 100 yards and was able to break off a rush of over 80 yards. Peterson gets to the 2nd level quicker than almost any back in the league. He breaks arm tackles with ease which allow him to get into the secondary quickly. The Bears Safeties have really looked poor this year with their positioning, instincts and ability to tackle in the open field. Peterson should continue his hot streak and have a great day on the ground.
- Minus Matt Forte, there is not much to like on the Bears offense. The Bears OL has really struggled which has hindered Jay Cutler’s ability to get the ball out down the field. Combine that with Cutler’s struggles to move protection and understand which player cannot be blocked and you have a recipe for failure. Until their OL issues are sorted out proceed with caution on any Bears player not named Forte.
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