Playbook Week 9 Fantasy Tips: Part 1

Fantasy Tips, Playbook War Room

The season is at its halfway point and there have definitely been a lot of surprises thus far. The lockout seems to be taking its toll on players. Guys like Chris Johnson have yet to show they warranted a high draft pick, while someone like Andre Johnson has taken a lot longer to recover from a hamstring injury than people anticipated. The big name guys are still out there and producing, but there are also guys who might have been afterthoughts at the start of the year who are household names at this point in the season. Here at “Playbook,” we will keep trying to help you manage players that have under produced, while advising you of what to expect from the new faces.

AFC Matchups

Fred Jackson (AP)

NYJ@BUF

  • Buffalo will use 3 WRs and a TE to spread out the Jets Defense and run the ball with Fred Jackson. The Raiders have been the only team to utilize such personnel consistently to run and had a lot of success against the Jets; six attempts for 102 yards. By spreading them out, New York’s lack of physicality and size up front is exposed, which allows the OL to get to the 2nd level on the LBs.
  • Buffalo didn’t seem to miss Kyle Williams last week, generating 10 sacks and giving up only 26 rushing yards. They started using more size up front to control the run game. Their size and strength makes them difficult to maneuver and allows their LBs to have clear lanes to the ball.  Shonne Greene should be limited.

CLE@HOU

  • The weakest part of the Cleveland rush defense is on the edges. They are strong up the middle, but their interior DL does not move well laterally. Chris Johnson and the Titans were able to utilize their zone running scheme to have one of their best days of the season and we anticipate the Texans and Arian Foster will be able to do the same.
  • The Cleveland rushing attack this week should feature Peyton Hillis and Chris Ogbonnaya. Hillis is still a toss up to play and, even if he does, he might be limited. Be cautious there. Seeing Ogbonnaya on tape, he is very agile and quick with his cuts. He brings a pass catching aspect to the Browns offense and if Hillis can’t go, he should be a good fill-in.

Dwayne Bowe (AP)

MIA@KC

  • Dwayne Bowe vs. Dolphins Secondary: The Dolphins have struggled to contain teams with a bonafide No. 1 WR. They leave their CBs in a lot of 1-on-1 matchups on the outside and we think Bowe should be able to exploit that. He is a physical guy that runs very good routes and does a good job at executing double moves; all things that should help him excel this week.
  • Brandon Marshall vs. Chiefs Secondary: The Chiefs are going to get up in the face of Marshall and try to disrupt his routes and releases. He is physical enough to handle it, but we think it will show in his results. Guys like Brandon Flowers aren’t especially big, but attack the ball quickly and disrupt a WRs ability to catch the ball. Look for Marshall to continue to put up pedestrian numbers.

DEN@OAK

    • Oakland is very open with their desire to play man coverage on defense. We feel that part of the reason Tim Tebow struggled last week was because the Lions played a lot of zone coverage and Tebow was unable to anticipate enough to find the open windows. Going against man, Tebow will know before the snap who is guarding who, which should help him get the ball out. Not only that, but against man he should have more lanes to run. We don’t expect him to put up great numbers, but definitely better than last week.

Carson Palmer (AP)

  • Darrius Heyward-Bey could be the biggest beneficiary of Carson Palmer becoming the starting QB. They showed a small connection two weeks ago and we feel like the bye week could only help the two of them. Heyward-Bey’s speed has to be respected every play, which has made comebacks and curls his bread and butter route. Palmer can throw the ball down the field and has shown good anticipation throughout his career; we expect Heyward-Bey to play well.

CIN@TEN

  • People keep waiting on Chris Johnson to break out, but at some point he needs to be sat down on your bench until he proves he can consistently produce. The Bengals have a stout front 7, so we’re suggesting you sit down CJ and Javon Ringer until more clarity emerges in that backfield.
  • Cortland Finnegan has been utilized in a lot of different ways on defense this year. We think that he could pose problems for A.J. Green this week. He is definitely going to be matched up on or around Green most of the game. Finnegan possesses a coverage and playmaker combination that will be a handful for the Bengals offense to handle.

NYG@NE

    • With Ahmad Bradshaw hurt and Brandon Jacobs yet to handle a full workload after his knee injury, the Giants are going to have to throw to keep up with the Patriots. In the fantasy world this should translate into a big day from Eli Manning. The Patriots lack a pass rush to create havoc on Eli and he is smart enough to pick their zone apart.

Aaron Hernandez (AP)

  • With Wes Welker banged up, we think the Patriots will utilize their TEs even more this week. The duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski is difficult for any team to defend. Hernandez will be used on the outside and the Giants do not have a safety that is athletic enough to cover him, or a CB that can handle his size. Gronkowski is more of a traditional TE in where he lines up, which means he will have LBs trying to cover him. The Giants do not have overly athletic guys at LB and will struggle to keep up with Gronk.


BAL@PIT

  • Joe Flacco could be on the upswing. First, he has seemed to rediscover his chemistry with Anquan Boldin. Last week, Boldin’s route running was on full display and Flacco did not hesitate to throw him the ball often. Second, the Ravens have also been utilizing more two TE sets with Ed Dickson and David Pitta. Both guys are athletic enough to get open in the passing game, but are also capable of protecting Flacco in the pocket. We like Boldin this week and think that Dickson more than Pitta will quietly have a productive day.
  • In Week 1, we were very high on the Pittsburgh WRs going against the Raven’s secondary. They did not match our high hopes, but we think they will this week. Pittsburgh had a great formula last week utilizing the intermediate passing game to keep the Patriots Offense off the field. The Steelers will spread the Ravens out, which will also limit their ability to confuse Ben Roethlisberger with blitz schemes. A guy like Ray Lewis is going to have to cover the Steelers TEs (Heath Miller) or an underneath WR (Antonio Brown) and we like the Steelers in those matchups.
INTER-CONFERENCE:

Michael Turner (AP)

ATL@IND

  • We think that the combination of a porous run defense and injuries to the offensive line make for good reasons Michael Turner should see a lot of carries this week. The Colts D is not strong at the point of attack and should struggle with the Falcons power running scheme.
  • The one bonus about the Colts being so bad is that they have been forced to throw early and often. Unlike Peyton Manning, Curtis Painter does not have the grasp of his own offense and what the defense is doing to control a game through the air. Regardless, Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon are going to have more opportunities which should bump up their production.

GB@SD

  • Mike Tolbert could be in line for a big workload this week with injuries to the San Diego backfield. He does not face a great matchup this week in terms of running the ball. The Packers’ run D is extremely disciplined up front and has aggressive tacklers in its secondary who tackle well in the open field. Teams have been able to exploit the Packers’ inability to cover RBs on screens and passes out of the backfield, so expect Tolbert to do a lot of his damage that way.
  • The Chargers showed on Monday Night that they are susceptible to big plays in the passing game. The Packers have had a week to figure out how to exploit this and we think Jordy Nelson could be the guy they look to. Nelson has not gotten a lot of targets some weeks, but has been Rodgers’ favorite target down the field. Look for him to get around 100 yards this week.

For more All-22 analysis watch NFL Playbook: Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm ET only on NFL Network.
Send your questions and comments to the Playbook War Room Team at playbook@nfl.com and on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

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