Once again, these are the Grantland previews that didn’t make the cut. To see the ones that did make the cut, as well as a bunch of strong stuff from the other writers, you can check out the compiled previews at Grantland.
Tennessee at Houston
The fantasy trade value of Chris Johnson has been in free fall for so long that it is now about equal to the real life value of the following things: a near mint condition VHS of Iron Eagle II, an I.O.U. from Lindsay Lohan, the mixture of brown felt and Elmer’s Glue that forms Al Michaels’ hair piece, a ticket stub from the first time you saw Avatar, an I.O.U. from Lenny Dykstra, an extensive collection of Nickelback bootlegs, a game-used football autographed by Jerry Sandusky, sharing a bucket of popcorn with Romeo Crennel, a post-internet Cinemax subscription.
Strong fantasy plays: Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub
Fair to middling plays: Chris Johnson, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook
Carolina at Atlanta
I hate to be the bearer of bad news for Cam Newton owners, but Superman’s uneven fantasy results could last for a few more weeks. The Son of Jor-el faces the Mike Nolan coached Atlanta defense this week and then gets the following schedule: Seattle, BYE, Dallas, Chicago. Those are all good defenses. Newton’s ability to run when the passing game isn’t there, or vice versa, does make him a little more matchup proof than a lot of quarterbacks. However, I view this as being sort of like a card counting situation. When a blackjack deck gets thin on face cards, it doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to lose, only that your odds of losing increase. Newton’s deck is thin on face cards over the next month.
Strong fantasy plays: Cam Newton, Steve Smith, Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez
Fair to middling plays: Michael Turner, Jonathan Stewart, Greg Olsen
New Orleans at Green Bay
Cedric Benson owners have probably lucked into a perfect storm to sell high on the running back in two weeks. The first element of that perfect storm was Benson’s touchdown in the Monday night game. That touchdown is probably going to be one of only a few this year as Green Bay is notorious for passing in the red zone. The second element of that perfect storm is Benson’s schedule over the next two weeks which includes the Saints and the Colts. Both of those teams have poor run defenses. After that two week span against poor run defenses it will be time to complete the second part of the “pump and dump” act by trading Benson before he faces the Houston defense the following week.
Strong fantasy plays: Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, Cedric Benson
Fair to middling plays: Marques Colston
Seattle at Saint Louis
I can’t decide if I want to buy on Golden Tate because he’s all Seattle really has in the passing game (besides replacement officials), or avoid him like the plague because he has to be in line for some kind of karmic retribution. If we learned anything from the Final Destination commercials (because no one actually saw the movies right?) it’s that you can only cheat the universe for so long. Tate’s time is coming and I wouldn’t want to be either one of his ACLs right now. Having said that, I did talk myself into picking up Tate in more than one league. Hope is a helluva drug.
Strong fantasy plays: Marshawn Lynch
Fair to middling plays: Danny Amendola, either Daryl Richardson or Steven Jackson, Golden Tate
San Francisco at New York Jets
Shonn Greene has been so terrible through three games that he’s only scored about 60% of the fantasy points that you would expect from him if he were just an average running back. I’ve calculated that 60% by looking at each carry that Greene has received and then determining the average fantasy points scored for a carry from that yard line (because not all carries are created equal). An average back would have scored 37 points by now, while Greene has scored just 21 points. Those 37 points (if Greene were just average) are important because the Jets are now making indications that Bilal Powell may get a larger share of the opportunity in the backfield. While Powell has also been below average, he’s been better than Greene and the Jets provide enough opportunity for running backs to make things interesting.
Strong fantasy plays: Frank Gore, Vernon Davis
Fair to middling plays: Santonio Holmes, Michael Crabtree
New York Giants at Philadelphia
Despite the beat down that the Giants gave the Panthers in week three, they do probably have a pass defense that can be thrown on. The G-Men (or the Blue Man Group if you are a Tobias Funke devotee) have given up 10 yards per passing attempt to opposing wide receivers and tight-ends , a number which is among the worst in the league. This could be a better than expected matchup for DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek. Even Jeremy Maclin (hip) could be a good start if he shows he’s able to practice throughout the week.
Strong fantasy plays: Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Andre Brown, Martellus Bennett, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Michael Vick, Brent Celek
Fair to middling plays: Hakeem Nicks
New England at Buffalo
Ryan Fitzpatrick is having a very odd season through three games. While quarterback has thrown eight touchdowns and is fifth among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring, he’s completing less than 60% of his passes and has only cleared 200 yards once. Generally those numbers would raise a red flag that perhaps some reversion to the mean might be coming. However, the mean reversion won’t start this week because Fitz will be facing the “break, don’t bend” defense of the New England Patriots. Pencil him in for another productive week.
Strong fantasy plays: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Stevan Ridley, Tashard Choice, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson
Fair to middling plays: Scott Chandler
San Diego at Kansas City
If the exhilarating mix of football and beer on a Sunday afternoon is ever too much joy to bear, and you want to come back to earth a little bit, turn on a Chiefs game and watch Matt Cassel for about three minutes. Despite the fact that Cassel has two of the bigger wide receivers in the league in Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin, he can’t manage to do more than throw the ball in their general vicinity on most plays. It’s really awful. If we eventually find out that Cassel is legally blind, a la Rick Vaughn, it won’t be surprising at all. His actual game performances look like a movie montage of bloopers. It’s bumming me out just writing about it.
Strong fantasy plays: Ryan Mathews, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Malcom Floyd, Philip Rivers
Fair to middling plays: Matt Cassel