First things first, these teams combined to go 9-23 last year, so if you start either fantasy quarterback here you deserve to lose.
The Chiefs ranked 31st against the run last year while the Browns ranked 28th. Even though both defenses appear to be much improved, you’ve got start any running back you have from either squad and see what happens. Neither team excells at throwing the ball.
Jamal Charles has already proved he’s nasty after breaking off a huge TD run last week against the Chargers. You get the feeling the Browns realize they needed to get the ball to Jerome Harrison more than they did against Tampa, so look for him to have a better day. Peyton Hillis will apparently get an equal share of those carries so use him confidentially too. Both are praised for their ability to catch the ball, and in this offense, with Seneca Wallace under center, they’ll us it.
Last year the Chiefs ranked 22nd in total pass defense while the Browns ranked 29th. On the surface that makes for favorable matchups and projections, but start receivers in this game with extreme caution. The Chiefs only racked up 68 total passing yards last week, and your top option on their side is Dwayne Bowe, who is underwhelming. The Browns invested heavily in their defensive secondary this year, and the PD’s Tony Grossi even said that Joe Haden and TJ Ward are two of their best players right now. The Chiefs will be on the road here, for another team’s home opener, and on a short week. All of that points to a drop in their already unimpressive output from last week.
For the Browns it’s pretty simple: Jake Delhomme is going to be a game time decision, and you can’t risk starting anyone with Wallace at QB. That’s not an indictment on Wallace’s talent, it’s a matter of not knowing who his go to guy will be or how they will use him. If you have a gun to your head I’d say take a shot on Brian Robiskie in this game because he and Wallace appeared to have some chemistry in the preseason. But with no bye weeks yet in the NFL, and no big name receivers going down with an injury Week 1, there’s no reason make such a plucky play. The Browns should be looking to duplicate the success they had on the ground last year against the Chiefs.
A Browns player to look for this game will be Evan Moore. He might have the best hands on the team and it looks like they want to get him the ball. He warrants a look on your team if you’re searching for that surprise at tight end. Remember, Antonio Gates was a waiver wire pick-up in 2004.
Around the League
Go ahead and go…
Cedric Benson – He has two tough matchups to start the season with the Patriots and Ravens. Although on paper Baltimore is one of those teams you automatically stay away from, I still say go ahead and start Cedric against them this week. The Ravens defense looked great against the Jets, but that might be saying more about Mark Sanchez than it does about Ray Lewis. The Ravens, like the Chiefs, are playing on the road on a short week, and Carson Palmer should be able to stretch the field better than Sanchez. Don’t forget, he also played well against them last year when they were the 3rd overall rushing defense, with two TDs and 253 total yards in two games.
Michael Vick – Kevin Kolb just failed his concussion test, so all signs are pointing to Michael Vick playing. If you were one of the poor souls who was relying on Kolb, Matthew Stafford, Jake Delhomme, or Trent Edwards to score you some points this week, here’s your answer. The Eagles get a deflated Lions team Sunday without their starting QB in Stafford; Vick is going to light them up.
Jonathan Stewart - He had a bad game against New York but so did every Panther. They fell behind Eli Manning early and played from behind the rest of the day. He gets a more favorable matchup this week against Tampa Bay at home, and the Panthers will look to get back to what they do best, run, run, run.
Nate Washington - Start a receiver for Tennessee on the road against the Steelers? Yep. As pathetic as Atlanta seemed against Pittsburgh last week Roddy White still managed to have a nice day. They will be more worried about shutting down Chris Johnson and will roll Troy Polamalu his way, freeing Washington for whatever balls Vince Young tosses up.
Patriots – I wouldn’t worry about them playing the much hyped Jets’ defense this week, start every Patriot you have. Tom Brady hates them, and we forget that he hasn’t been fully healthy since they went around the league in 2007 on a mission to blow you out no matter what the score was in the fourth quarter. There is no killing the clock with a healthy Brady, and they will be out for blood in this one. Couple that with the fact everyone in the world saw that anemic Jets offense Monday night, and is slowly realizing they are overrated. The Bengals have a good defense too, and New England blew them away, look for more of the same when the Jets travel to Foxborough.
That is not what inspires people…
Mark Clayton – Good job running to the waiver wire and grabbing Clayton after he caught 10 balls from rookie Sam Bradford for 119 yards Week 1. Problem is everyone in the league saw that too, including Oakland’s shut down corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Plus given how poorly the Raider’s rush defense stood up to Chris Johnson, the Rams will be looking to run on them early and often with a fantasy first rounder of their own. In fact, wait and see what Sam Bradford is like on the road before you go with any of his targets.
Brett Favre – It wasn’t until the Week 3 last year that Favre finally threw for more that 160 yards in a game. This Dolphins matchup is going to be another ugly grudge match, and I would go with a better option if you have it. The guy just needs more time, and would be better served letting Adrian Peterson get him through his early rust and chemistry problems, just like last year.
Matt Forte – Great game last week, against a bad Lions team. This week he gets an angry Dallas team in their home opener, and Jay Cutler should be fighting for his life. Forte’s rebound season is off to a good start, but it’s still early. Plus the majority of his action came through the air, not on the ground. That is something you can’t count on every time out, even in Mike Martz’s scheme.
Michael Crabtree – A sexy name that hasn’t done anything yet. Nothing. Sure it’s a plus he’ll be at home this week, but against the defending champs who’ve had three extra days rest to prepare. Vernon Davis is the man in this Brady Quinn style attack; you need to wait for Crabtree to step up before you start rolling him out there.
Seattle Seahawks - Not buying the what happened last week. Seattle turned two Alex Smith interceptions into 14 points, and everything else rested on that. None of their offensive performers impressed outside of receiver Mike Williams, whose name was ringing out all training camp. If he is still on waivers in your league go get him, but don’t expect him to have an impact this week against Champ Bailey, and a decent Broncos team at home. Kyle Orton doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and this game should be more muted.
Good luck, here’s the pregame speech I’ll be giving my fantasy guys this week…