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Fantasy Filmroom: Week 1

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The Fantasy Filmroom is based on numerous observations of game tape, along with the six or seven full games of coverage breakdowns and whatnot. All that coupled with a plethora of notes I've compiled that you might have missed by just watching along, drinking a beer, or compulsively checking your fantasy team. Don't worry, I did that too. The whole point is for this to be a one-stop source of what you might not have found in the box score. For the future, try and look for this to come out around Wednesday regularly.

First, a few infirmary notes, including some notes courtesy of Will Carroll from BaseballProspectus.com, who is always great in getting on top of fantasy injuries.

 

  • Hakeem Nicks – Mid-foot sprain, not a Lisfranc. 2-3 weeks minimum.

  • Donovan McNabb – Broken rib on his touchdown run. Reportedly going to miss this week’s matchup against the Saints, so make other plans despite what McNabb says to the media this week.

  • Jeff Faine – Torn triceps, out about six weeks. Will hurt the Tampa Bay running attack.

  • Brian Urlacher – Dislocated wrist – Out for the year. This has been the big one with McNabb today. After he went out, Hunter Hillenmeyer replaced him, and not only did the Packers run more, they ran with more success as anyone could have guessed. The Bear’s defense looked great, but this is going to neutralize whatever jump you might have predicted I’m guessing.

  • Marques Colston – Here’s a direct one from Carroll’s Twitter: "Colston looked terrible, according to observers. ‘No cuts, no stops, he can just go forward’." Ouch. Not much was made of, or reflected in any rankings, the fact that Colston underwent knee surgery for the second consecutive off-season. His numbers weren’t terrible yesterday, so if I can get someone like Roddy White or Anquan Boldin for him (both of who I ranked above Colston preseason), make that move.

  • Antony Gonzalez – Grade II MCL sprain, out 2-6 weeks (at least). This is the one that should directly impact fantasy owners the most from first glance. There’s probably not a clear replacement to pick up for Gonzalez that will replace his production. I think Austin Collie and Hank Baskett both share the targets he would have received, but neither will be all too reliable.

  • Pierre Thomas – Despite practicing, all signs point to him missing Week 2 against the Eagles. If I owned him, I would prep for the worst. Mike Bell looks like a No. 3 back for at least another week.

Now, onto some reads from the film room (Thursday's game not included):

 

Kansas City 24, Baltimore 38 

  • Todd Heap came more out of nowhere than Kanye West at the VMA’s. The formerly reliable fantasy option caught five passes for 74 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Part of this was the heart of the Chiefs defense looking slow, allowing Heap to get constantly open in the middle of the field. If you waited on a tight end and are still lacking a reliable option, he’s not a bad bet going forward. Less blocking, more catching. Maybe he ends the year as starter-caliber.

  • Some more reactions on the Chiefs defense, which allowed 500+ yards Sunday: Pressure was inconsistent, and DC Clancy Pendergast’s timing of calling blitzes were questionable; the team was getting beat on third down-blitzes on a number of occasions.

  • No doubt the defense was terrible; mostly thanks to Chiefs corner Maurice Leggett (starting for an injured Brandon Flowers), who Flacco constantly targeted. But a closer look at the stats shows the Chiefs averaged only 5.9 YPP on offense, ranking in the lower third for the week. Couple that with 11 carries for a pathetic 20 yards by Larry Johnson, and that led to a lot of time on the field for the Ravens. They ran 85 plays on offense, more than any other team this week by 12.

  • Ray Rice is still the No. 1 back on Baltimore, and his fantasy owners are going to get good value for his ADP this year. But Willie McGahee and Le’Ron McClain are going to have value. I think 1,000 yards looks like a good bet now, and I’m putting the over-under on touchdowns at five. By the way, the pass-to-rush ratio is going to even up next week. Flacco only threw as much as he did, and "opened the playbook up," because the Ravens were trailing.   

 

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via cdn2.sbnation.com

 

 Philadelphia 38, Carolina 10

  • I haven’t seen ALL of Jake Delhomme’s interceptions, but I did see three of them. The first one? Not his fault. It was a tipped pass off of his receiver. The next two? Into coverage, and an under-thrown deep ball to Steve Smith. Atlanta is salivating for Carolina in Week 2.

  • Despite running the ball well, Carolina’s pass protection was pretty mediocre. The blame is divided, and even if A.J. Feeley starts, he’s going to get hit without better blocking. I ranked Steve Smith No. 7 in my WR rankings behind Jennings and Boldin, but Wayne and White (who I ranked below him) may end up out-performing him with inconsistent quarterback play. He’s still a No. 1 WR, but be weary, you know he can be hot and cold already.

 Minnesota 34, Cleveland 20  

  • Percy Harvin will be a valuable fantasy wide receiver this year, period. He’s not going to be a red zone target, but clearly he’s part of the offense, and the coaches are finding ways to get him the ball. For a rookie he shows good awareness in finding holes in the zone and making catches. I’m not opposed to him being my No. 4 right now.

  • On the subject of Minnesota wide receivers (besides Bernard Berrian, who I suggested you not play him this week, just saying), Sidney Rice is a guy to keep an eye on as a last roster spot in 12-team leagues, or take a waiver on in deeper leagues. Rice had several opportunities to score, and looks like a great end zone target for Brett Favre. 5-6 touchdowns this year wouldn’t surprise me. Look for matchups with smaller cornerbacks to exploit there.

  • Quinn-Edwards wasn’t a connection that was established, and Brady didn’t try and make it happen all too often. When he did? Underthrows, overthrows, just not good throws, including an interception that was clearly the result of a mental error by Quinn. As good as Jamal Lewis looked running the ball to the strong left side of the line, Quinn looked rough. Several more games like this and D.A. is could be on the case.

Miami 7, Atlanta 19  

  • Davone Bess is the only wide receiver on the Dolphins I’d keep anywhere near a lineup right now, and maybe only in PPR leagues. He’s seeing a ton of targets, and seems like a perfect fit for Pennington as long as he holds onto the job. Greg Camarillo only caught two balls for 20 yards, and 15 of them were on a ball that hit his leg and shouldn’t have been. Don’t forget, Bess had a ton of targets at the end of last year too; it’s not a fluke.

  • Tony Gonzalez will not be the only one tight end this year to burn the Dolphins on routes. In fact, I won’t be surprised if Miami is among the leaders in touchdowns allowed to TEs. Safety Yeremiah Bell blew a tackle that led to Gonzalez heading down the sideline for a score. 

Detroit 27, New Orleans 45  

  • What else can you draw from this game other than the Lions defense is porous at best? The defensive ends are not the problem; DeWayne White and Cliff Avril can rush the passer, but the defensive tackles drew no pressure, and Brees was able to step into the center of the pocket to make throws whenever he needed to.

  • The targets to New Orleans receivers were spread out pretty evenly. Remember, Brees didn’t have a tight end near the talent of Jeremy Shockey last year healthy. When he’s out on the field, it gives Brees another guy to spread his passes out to. I’ve always been a Colston supporter, but if he’s having any trouble with the knee, he’s not a top 10 wide receiver like some owners might have expected.

  • Don’t worry about Calvin Johnson. He had a touchdown called back at the goal-line, and was targeted significantly. He’s still in the Four Horsemen of receivers.

Jacksonville 12, Indianapolis 14  

  • No Marvin Harrison? No problem for Reggie Wayne, and even with Anthony Gonzalez out, that won’t matter either. Wayne saw double coverage and still managed to escape the Jaguars’ defensive backs, including torching rookie CB Derek Cox for a score. The more important thing is that the Colts offensive line is healthy, giving Peyton Manning the time to get the ball downfield to Wayne.

  • Provided he stays healthy, Joseph Addai is going to maintain his spot as the No. 1 fantasy back for the Colts. It took him some time, but Addai finally got into the end zone in the second quarter Sunday, and he’s going to get get better production with that line healthier. Addai was supposedly miffed by doubters in the off-season, and if he stays healthy he’ll at least hold onto the majority of value there.

  • I’m absolutely sold on Maurice-Jones Drew still as the No. 2 running back this year, and no one else is up for debate. MJD is going to see better production against lesser defenses this year, bank on it.

Denver 12, Cincinnati 7

  • Brandon Marshall owners shouldn’t panic about the lack of production against the Bengals. He still saw seven targets, and that’s three more than Eddie Royal, who didn’t exactly put up eye-popping numbers either. With some rust shaken off, he should fair better against Cleveland in Week 2.

Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21  

  • Who thought that Carnell Williams would be a name that would be appearing in the end zone so soon this season? With all the corny car jokes you can muster, Cadillac showed good acceleration and steered through the zone-blocking of the Bucs offensive line which actually fits newly acquired back Derrick Ward better. This is my early pick for surprise one-two running tandem of the year provided Williams stays healthy.

  • Part of that was thanks to the line, which negated a strong Dallas pass rush led by DeMarcus Ware. The other part was thanks to Byron Leftwich, who looked pretty accurate and put good touch on his throws. In what would be the ultimate mix-up based on recent history, I’m not surprised if this offense ends up being more dynamic than the defense in Tampa Bay. A healthier Antonio Bryant in the upcoming weeks won’t hurt, either.

N.Y. Jets 24, Houston 7  

  • No Shaun Ellis or Calvin Pace, and one of the most prolific offenses in the league were shutdown? It’s a testament to Rex Ryan’s new blitz-happy system, led by NT Kris Jenkins and ILB Bart Scott. The Texans begged Jenkings to come for Matt Schaub like another Jaws sequel with few double-teams. Schaub looked rattled near the end of the first quarter, and it was causing him to miss his receivers. The Jets defense this year is a legitimate No. 1 option, and another lesson why you can wait and get a solid defense at the end of drafts.

  • Throw Mark Sanchez out of the equation of Jerricho Cotchery’s production this year. Cotchery will still get his targets, but it’s going to be with screens and short passes. That’s fine; Cotchery made Texan defenders miss, and the Jets will again be good at getting their yards after the catch. Sanchez, like his receivers, will be serviceable but not spectacular this year.

St. Louis 0, Seattle 28  

  • John Carlson was the star here, no doubt. He split out at wide receiver and torched the coverage. But don’t lose sight of the fact that Nate Burleson looked real good. Hasselback targeted Burleson 11 times, and when his brother and analyst Tim asked his Matt about a surprise on the offense this year, he named Burleson. We’ll see how the targets spread out when Branch returns, but Burleson is a decent No. 4 receiver for now, and I like him as a flex play this week against the Niners.

  • I’ve been fortunate enough to have a high enough pick to own the very talented Steven Jackson, but unfortunate that that I actually owned him. The poor guy finally got some help in the way of two offensive lineman drafted highly by the Rams, but this team is going to be playing from behind like last year. His value remains because he still catches passes, but aside from Peterson and MJD, we’re seeing the question marks first-round guys had arise in a variety of ways.

Washington 17, N.Y. Giants 23 

  • Jason Campbell and the Redskins aren’t exactly going to scare anyone with their offense this year, but the Giants still showed why they should live up to their filling as the No. 1 fantasy defense this year. They’re going to be a terror for any players going against them as long as that unit stays healthy.

  • On the other side of the ball, Steve Smith caught six of the eight passes that came his way, and was as expected the best of the bunch of the receivers there. Forget Domenik Hixon, though, and go for Mario Manningham if you’re looking for a second receiver there. Way more upside from the ex-Wolverine who caught the only Eli Manning touchdown pass.

 San Francisco 20, Arizona 16 

  • Discipline was something that the Cardinals clearly lacked, and played a part in their demise and the Niners upset. They were penalized 12 times for a garden variety of reasons: Offensive holding, offensive pass interference, and a penalty on Adrian Wilson for a vicious hit he landed on a defenseless Vernon Davis.

  • San Fransisco played physical defense, and still got pressure on Kurt Warner without too much blitzing, thanks to some poor offensive line play, particularly by Levi Brown. This was a big reason Tim Hightower racked up the receiving yards he did and not Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said that anticipating Boldin to be out and then him playing caused some unexpected shifts in the offensive formations, and that the unit should take shape and be sharper this week against Jacksonville.

  • Just how long until Beanie Wells makes an impact is going to behind on him doing the things that don’t impact fantasy owners. Aspects like selling his end of the play-action fake and better pass blocking are a big part of why Hightower is continuing to see as much playing time as he is. When he becomes more well-rounded at the other nuances of his game, he’ll become the most valuable back in the desert.

Chicago 15, Green Bay 21

  • Something to keep in mind about Urlacher’s injury, courtesy of ESPN Stats: Urlacher has only missed 7 career games, and they all came in 2004. In those games that season, the Bears were 0-7, and gave up nearly 10 points more per game than when he was in the lineup.

  • ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth made one of the best predictions this year in Matt Forte not living up to the hype of his draft status in foreseeing that his catches would go down drastically. I’m sure he was the last one surprised when Forte, who had a good portion of his value come last year via receiving yards, caught zero passes from Jay Cutler at Lambeau. Nearly 75 of his fantasy points came from his pass-catching ability last year, and if that’s reduced to 25 even, you’re looking at a slightly glorified Clinton Portis.

Buffalo 24, New England 25  

  • If you’re relying on a Patriots running back this year, something in your draft went wrong, your league is very deep, or you’re playing the wrong guys. Laurence Maroney and Fred Taylor shared an even split of carries against the Bills, while Faulk was only productive catches passes from Tom Brady. I’m not sure what kind of scenario I would consider starting one of them in, but it won’t be next week and probably not the week after, either. If I have to own one of them, it’s still Maroney.

San Diego 24, Oakland 20

  • I like Darren McFadden this year as much as his biggest supporters. I had him rated as my No. 19 back, not a preferable but acceptable No. 2 option at the position. But he’s going to need to get the touchdowns to fulfill that, and Run DMC didn’t receive any carries inside the 10 against the Chargers. Michael Bush got three on the other hand, and may be the goal-line back for the Raiders. I still like McFadden, but temper your enthusiasm for his potential.

  • I was expecting to preach not to panic on Vincent Jackson struggling against the coverage of Nnamdi Asomugha, but even the shutdown cornerback admitted he was fooled by a great move on a fade to Jackson, who showed that he may be matchup proof this year. Jackson was my favorite sleeper at wide receiver this year, and although he’s going to face tough opposition like Champ Bailey and Brandon Flowers within the division, this is why you don’t sit your big guns.