IS IT TIME TO SELL HIGH ON LACY?
That sound you’re hearing this morning is the collective sigh of relief from Fantasy Football team owners of Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy. Prior to Thursday night’s thrashing of the Vikings, Lacy had not exceeded 50 rushing yards in any game and he had just one TD to his name. Of course, we’re all hoping that 105 rushing yards and two TDs he scored against the Vikings is just the beginning of a string of 100-yard games and scoring with regularity.
Actually, the next three weeks look somewhat favorable for Lacy, as the Packers will face the Dolphins in Miami, the Panthers at home and then the Saints in New Orleans. Saints and Panthers are both among the Top 10 for Fantasy points allowed to the RB position and the Dolphins are 12th. All three teams have allowed five TDs to running backs (rushing and passing combined). Of course, there’s no guarantee that Lacy will make this the starting point of a solid run of games, so is it worthwhile to consider trading him away now that he’s finally had a good game?
The answer here is an unequivocal…NO! Returning to the schedule beyond the next three games, we find that the Packers face the Bear, Eagles, Vikings, Patriots and Falcons – all somewhat favorable matches for the offense. And, for Week 16, which is very likely your Fantasy league’s Championship game, the Packers draw the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which should be a very good game for Lacy. Even if he doesn’t blow away the next three games, Lacy is worth hanging onto for his matchups after Week 9, and especially for Week 16. Unless you are getting incredible offers that include another top running back in return, don’t be tempted to trade Lacy while his value is high.
WEEK 5 PASSING AND RUSHING MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT OR AVOID
As we do every Friday, The Xpert Eye offers its matchups to Xploit or Avoid for both passing an
d rushing offenses. You should never use matchups as an excuse to bench your stud players. Only go to matchup analysis if you are trying to decide between somewhat evenly ranked players, or if you are desperate for a bye week or injury replacement.
PASSING MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – It probably isn’t necessary for me to go into much detail here; the Jaguars simply have a terrible defense, especially against the pass. They’ve allowed an average of 29.1 Fantasy points per game to QBs, tops in the NFL. The Jaguars have given up 11 passing touchdowns with just one interception through four games. This should be a feast for Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Heath Miller and even Le’Veon Bell in the passing game. Roethlisberger carved up the Buccaneers last week and should do a similar (if not worse) number on the Jaguars.
Austin Davis vs. Philadelphia Eagles – I am going stop short of recommending Austin Davis in this matchup for the simple reason that I just don’t believe he’s all that good. The Eagles have a boom/bust sort of defense in that they will take gambles; they have seven sacks, three interceptions and currently are the highest scoring D/ST with 36 Fantasy points over the first four games (using a standard scoring format). So, it’s receivers like Brian Quick and Kenny Britt (who saw a season-high seven targets last week) that should have a decent game here, provided Davis can get them the ball. Tight ends Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks don’t have a favorable matchup here, as the Eagles have been one of the tougher teams against the position this season. They’ve only allowed one TD and have limited TEs to an average of just 5.3 Fantasy points so far. Roll with Quick and Britt, but sit the tight ends and only use Davis if you’re desperate for a bye week replacement QB or in deep two-QB formats.
Drew Stanton vs. Denver Broncos – It’s almost always a shootout when up against Peyton Manning and this game is shaping up to be just that. Both teams are coming off a bye week and should be well prepared and rested for the matchup. Carson Palmer is unlikely to play, as he was just diagnosed with a rare nerve injury most often seen in car accident victims, so we’re going to see how Drew Stanton handles the pressure of a big game against someone of Manning’s stature. Once again, the tight end (John Carlson) isn’t expected to do much here. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown will all see their share of targets and put up decent yards and perhaps score, though I wouldn’t anticipate more than one score for the three of them combined. It’s Andre Ellington that should have the big game here, as Denver has allowed four TDs to running backs (three rushing, one passing) and an average of 21.6 Fantasy points per game. Ellington will be busy in the passing game, especially in the flat on swing passes and as the check down option for Stanton.
Passing Matchups to Avoid
Tom Brady vs. Cincinnati Bengals – By now, the clamoring to bench Brady is so loud that there is no way you haven’t heard it already. The Bengals have six interceptions vs. just two passing TDs allowed, and their 18.2 average Fantasy points allowed to QBs is the fourth lowest in the NFL. The problem with any Brady-led offense is that when it is most successful, it’s because he spreads the ball around to several different receivers. That hasn’t been the case this season, as Julian Edelman (36) and Brandon LaFell (24) lead the WRs in targets by a large margin. Aaron Dobson is expected back this week after serving a two-game benching from Bill Belichick for mouthing off to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Dobson is the Patriots largest and best red zone target not named Gronk, and he should siphon targets away from both Edelman and LaFell, which diminishes all of their value. Rob Gronkowski is always in the red zone mix and should see plenty of action in this game. So, start Gronk as you normally would, but do yourself a favor and bench the rest of your Patriots players.
Kyle Orton vs. Detroit Lions – The Lions have allowed just four passing TDs so far while nailing three interceptions, and they have allowed the lowest average Fantasy points per game to QBs in the NFL at just 14.8 thus far. Kyle Orton takes over as the Bills QB after only starting four games over the last two seasons for the Dallas Cowboys. So, we’ve got a rusty QB throwing to two very young wide receivers (Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods) against one of the toughest defenses in the game – oh, and the game is in Detroit no less. This could get ugly.
Rushing Matchups to Exploit
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount should both be in for banner days against a Jaguars defense that has given up six TDs to running backs so far. We’ve trashed the Jaguars enough in print, now sit back and watch the Steelers do it on the field.
Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns – Bishop Sankey had his coming out party last week but the party will continue this week at home against the Browns, who have surrendered and average of 29.8 Fantasy points per game to RBs; only the Falcons have allowed more Fantasy points to running backs. The Browns have been gashed in every single game to date. The Saints running game hasn’t exactly been spectacular this season, yet they managed to run for 140 yards in Week 2. This was followed by a Week 3 spanking for 154 yards by the Ravens. The Steelers destroyed the Browns for 119 yards in the season opener. Need I say more? OK, I will anyway. Shonn Greene’s workload has slowly decreased while Sankey’s has grown and Jake Locker may have a tough time passing in this game due to his injured hand. That should tell you that Sankey will be called upon to carry the heavy workload in this game, and that could lead to a 100-plus yard effort and perhaps even a score or two for the young RB.
New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons – No team has allowed more Fantasy points to running backs than the Falcons at 32.1 FPPG. The Falcons have allowed a league-high eight rushing TDs through four games and the second highest yardage total at 541. The Giants rushing offense has been steady and both Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams have performed well. This game should be a cakewalk for both backs, as the Falcons front seven are porous, to put it nicely.
Rushing Matchups to Avoid
New England Patriots vs. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals defense has allowed just 252 rushing yards over their first three games, and of course, they are coming off a bye week to face the Pats, so they should be well prepared and rested. The Patriots have run the ball well but have been unable to stick with the running game because they are usually playing from behind. An additional problem with using Patriots RBs is that we never know which RB will have Bill Belichick’s trust in any given week. Shane Vereen is mostly a passing down back, yet, we’ve seen him split carries with Stevan Ridley in some games. James White was a healthy scratch the first few weeks, but he played last week and could be in the mix again on Sunday. So, which of those three backs will be the primary ball carrier? Nobody knows, which is reason enough to avoid the whole situation.
San Diego Chargers vs. New York Jets – There isn’t much the Jets do right, but one aspect of the game they do very well is defend against the run. The Jets have allowed just 185 rushing yards to RBs through four games with no single running back running for more than 50 yards in a game. They also have yet to allow a rushing TD. Donald Brown has largely been a disappointment but the Chargers won’t really need him to do anything but block for the QB since the Jets cannot defend against the pass at all. Philip Rivers will have his way with the porous Jets secondary rendering Brown moot. Keep him on the bench.