Sunday, 07 December 2014 00:00

Week 14 playoff matchups: Every team dissected Part II

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Torrey Smith is a solid play this week even with a tough matchup against Brent Grimes.  Torrey Smith is a solid play this week even with a tough matchup against Brent Grimes. Keith Allison/Flickr

Editor's note: Read Part I of this article here.

Baltimore Ravens

Torrey Smith: B-

Other than DeSean Jackson there is, in my opinion, no streakier receiver than Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. Early on this season Smith owners were probably ready to give up on him after failing to top 3 receptions or 60 yards in the fist four weeks of the season. Predictably, Smith has turned his season around and is one of the hottest receivers in football, hauling in seven touchdown receptions in the last seven weeks.

We will get to see just how dialed in Smith and quarterback Joe Flacco are this week as they matchup with Brent Grimes and Dolphins. Grimes has been one of the best cornerbacks in football this year, allowing a passer rating of 62.9 on passes thrown his direction.

Steve Smith Sr.: C+

While Torrey Smith tries to get free from the grasp of Brent Grimes, Steve Smith could be the beneficiary of single-coverage for most of the afternoon. While Smith has tailed off from his torrid start to the season in which he broke the century mark four times in six games, that does not mean he cannot put together some quality fantasy numbers for the rest of the season.

Smith has failed to top 100 yards in a game since week 6, and has seen his effectiveness within the Ravens offense dip. Since week 6 Smith Sr. has a TOTAL of 19 catches over his last six games and has only scored once in that time frame.

Owen Daniels: Bench

Miami Dolphins

Mike Wallace: B

The days of Mike Wallace taking the top off of defenses seems like a thing of the past ever since he signed with the Dolphins in free agency before the start of last season. Much of the blame can be placed on Ryan Tannehill’s inability to push the ball down the field, but where Wallace’s big-play ability may be limited, he has started to learn how to be a receiver in order to stay involved in the offense.

Jarvis Landry: B+

If you do not play in a PPR format fantasy league you may not be that familiar with Dolphins rookie wide receiver Jarvis Landry. The Dolphins fourth round pick in the most recent draft has come in and become Tannehill's safety blanket out of the slot. Despite not getting significant time at the start of the season Landry has become the Dolphins most reliable receiver.

Landry is out catching Fast Mike Wallace 57-54, and too make it more impressive Landry has made his impact with 130 less snaps than Wallace has this season. With Tannehill's inability to throw the ball down the field Landry is going to continue to make a major impact for fantasy owners. 

Charles Clay: C

Indianapolis Colts v. Cleveland Browns

Indianapolis Colts

T.Y. Hilton: B

IIt is unclear how the Browns are going to match up their corner backs this weekend. If I had to guess, I would assume that Joe Haden would be matched up against T.Y. Hilton for most of the afternoon. If that is the case it could be a long afternoon for Hilton owners. 

Haden has made a name for himself as one of the best up-and-coming defensive backs in the NFL, and could possibly throw his name in the consideration for best corner in the NFL. Haden had a dreadful start to the season allowing a passer rating of 110 or higher in four of the first five games of the season. That has quickly changed as Haden has not allowed a passer rating of greater than 67.5 in any game since, and has recorded an interception in three straight games. It is still possible that Hilton could have a successful day and deserves to be in lineups, but I am just warning you to temper your expectations. 

Donte Moncrief: B- #32 Weekly Rankings

It is about time Moncrief's role grows within the Colts offense. The Colts 3rd round draft pick in the 2014 NFL draft has splashed a few times through out the season only to see himself slide right back into a complimentary role, but I have a feeling this is about to change. 

Moncrief was burried behind veteran Hakeem Nicks for most of the season, but it appear that Moncrief has taken over Nicks' spot as the team's no. 3 receiver. Moncrief played 52% of the team's snaps in week 13, his highest since his breakout performance against the Steelers five weeks ago. 

The rookie first splashed onto the scene while filling in for Reggie Wayne while he was out nursing an injury. Moncrief made a serious case to gain a larger role after gashing the Steelers secondary for seven receptions, 113 yards and a touchdown. 

If Moncrief's snap count increased from 39.5% of the team's plays in week 12 to 52.5% in week 13. Going forward I would hope that Pep Hamilton finds ways to 

Cleveland Browns

Josh Gordon: A *Start of the Week #6 Weekly Rankings

While transitioning Josh Gordon back into the lineup has not been as seamless as people though it was going to be, the Browns receiver has still been able to produce at a very high level in his first two games back. Now a matchup against a Colts defense that will be without the services of cornerback Vonte Davis and Josh Gordon is officially my "Start of the Week".

With Davis out Gordon will have the fortune of matching up with reserve Greg Toler for most of the afternoon. Toler has been shaky at best this year, allowing a passer rating of 96.2 on passes thrown his way this season, and ranks in the top-10 for cornerbacks in terms of touchdown passes allowed (5). 

Look for Hoyer to force-feed Gordon early and often this weekend. Get Gordon in your lineup.

Jordan Cameron: C

The concussion issues for Cameron really concern me. Now having missed time twice this season to deal with concussion symptoms Cameron is one blow to the head away from being out for a significant period of time. While few tight ends possess the athleticism that Cameron does, Cameron needs to prove that he is able to stay on the field for an extended period of time before I am willing to trust him as a starting caliber tight end during the playoff push. 

If Cameron is able to suit this weekend he does have an owner friendly matchup against a Colts defense that is allowing the most points to tight ends on a weekly basis (10.3). Standing at 6'5" Cameron's size makes him a mismatch for safeties and linebackers who try to guard him, and with the Colts allowing five touchdowns to opposing tight ends in their last five games Cameron could be used in those kinds of situations if he is not able to play a full workload. 

Cameron still needs to gain clearance from an independent neurologist on Sunday in hopes of receiving full medical clearance. Make sure you monitor Cameron's status before you make any decisions putting Cameron in your lineup.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Detroit Lions

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

*Owners Beware* Tampa Bay Wide Receivers 

Any owner that waited on Mike Evans to take the reigns as the no. 1 option in the Buccaneers passing offense was greatly rewarded when the rookie posted three straight games of 120+ receiving yardsHowever, the last two weeks the rookie has come back down to earth with just 7 catches and 96 yards combined over the last two weeks. 

This could be a nerve-filled week for owners of any of the Tampa Bay wide receivers as they take on the 3rd best defense against opposing wide receivers in the Lions. The Lions have given up 6 touchdowns to wide receivers, ranking no. 2 in the NFL.

Even though the Lions have been tough against opposing wide receivers this year they have been vulnerable as of late, giving up five touchdowns in the last four weeks to wide receivers. It is no secret that the Lions team as a whole performs better in the friendly confines of Ford Field. 

*Evans 21st Ranked WR this Week*

Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson: A

Do I need to go further with this one? It's Calvin Johnson against one of the worst secondaries in all of football. Get ready for him to explode.

Golden Tate: B+

Tate has been a little bit tricker when evaluating him from a fantasy perspective. When Calvin Johnson was sidelined with an ankle injury Tate did a great job filling in topping the century mark four of the five games that Johnson was sidelined. Since Johnson has returned Tate has returned to playing second fiddle in the Detroit passing game, catching 14 total passes over the last three weeks for 227 total yards. While the yardage total is nothing to scoff at Tate has been a stranger to the end zone, failing to score in the last three weeks. 

I would still have confidence rolling out Tate as, at worst, a mid-level WR2 with the potential to post WR1-type numbers in PPR formats. 

 Houston Texans v. Jacksonville Jaguars

Houston Texans

DeAndre Hopkins: B+

Hopefully you guys got a chance to read my bullet points article last week when I said that DeAndre Hopkins was going to destroy the Titans secondary. Well after posting 9 catches for 238 yards and two touchdowns I think it is safe to say that Hopkins has cemented himself as the Texans top pass-catcher. 

As long as Fitzpatrick is under center for the Texans, Hopkins is going to be at the very least a mid-level WR2 and will continue to be the big play threat, while Andre Johnson is relegated to a possession role with the team. 

Andre Johnson: B

Despite getting at least 7 targets in every game that Ryan Fitzpatrick has started this season for some reason Andre Johnson and Fitzpatrick have been unable to find consistency from week-to-week. 

If you are getting the workload that Johnson is on a weekly basis there is no reason that Johnson should be without a 100-yard game this season. It is not like the Texans offense has lacked big play potential as Johnson's counter-part DeAndre Hopkins has topped 100 yards four times, including a 238 yard performance in week 13 against the Titans. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Marquise Lee: C+

Trying to project the Jaguars leading receiver this year has been a big guessing game, but one of the rules that I try and follow is "the guy with talent will see the field". Taking that and applying it too the Jaguars wide receivers I Marquis Lee will be the Jaguars most fantasy relevant wide receiver for there rest of the season. 

Lee has seen his snap count grow from 63.5% in week 12 to 71.8% in week 13, his highest snap total since week one (86.8%). With Cecil Shorts battling flu-like symptoms Lee has been given a larger role in the passing game, and with a team-leading 9 receptions over the last two week I think the superior talent (Lee) is going to start to overtake the veteran (Shorts). This is by no means a shot at Cecil Shorts. With his ability to stretch the field there is definitely a sport for him on an NFL roster, but with the Jaguars drafting two wide receivers in the most recent draft (Lee, Robinson) I think the writing is on the wall for a reduced role for Shorts going forward. 

Buffalo Bills v. Denver Broncos

Buffalo Bills

Sammy Watkins: C+ 

If you had to guess who the Bills leading receiver was over the last three weeks I am sure most of you, and for good reason, would choose Sammy Watkins. However, it is Robert Woods leading the team with 15 receptions for 204 yards and a touchdown since week 11.

Now i am not going to go on a limb and say that Woods is going to supplant Sammy Watkins as the primary read in the passing game, as Watkins is a special talent that can change a game whenever he gets his hands on the ball. 

This week Watkins drew the misfortune of matching up against arguably the best overall cornerback in football, Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris. Pro Football Focus ranks Harris as the no. 1 CB in football (20.1), and ranks third in the NFL with a  48.4 passer rating on passes thrown in his direction.

There is no doubt that Watkins is a special talent, and that talent will eventually evolve into complete receiver. However, I feel that Buffalo relying on manufactured touches for Watkins i.e. bubble screens, jet screens a tactic that has hindered his development as a complete receiver. Out of Watkins 92 targets this season, 52 of them have come within 9 yards of the line of scrimmage, meaning either Watkins is struggling to get separation down field or the quarterback play will not allow the coaching staff to game plan those types of schemes into the offense. 

Denver Broncos

Demariyus Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders: A

This is really a no-brainer so I am not going to delve in too much to Thomas and Sanders' matchup this weekend. Any offense that is led by Peyton Manning is going to to produce high-end fantasy talent, and with Julius Thomas battling an ankle injury, and Wes Welker virtually phased out of the offense I expect both Sanders and Thomas to be heavily involved in the passing offense this weekend. 

Juilius Thomas: B

Thomas owners have to be growing frustrated with the tight end over the few weeks as he has been dealing with a sprained ankle. Thomas has missed the last two weeks, but early reports have said the Broncos expect Thomas to play this weekend. While I expect it to be in a limited capacity, even a Julius Thomas at 50% is better than most tight ends at 100%. If he is playing, he is in your lineup folks unless you have a top-flight option like Gronkowski or Graham on your bench. 

Kansas City Chiefs v. Arizona Cardinals

Kansas City Chiefs

Seeing as Alex Smith does not throw the ball to wide receivers I am not going to waste any ones time trying to convince everyone of something that should be obvious, stay far away from the Chiefs pass catchers.

Arizona Cardinals

I am staying as far away as possible from every one on the Cardinals offense this weekend. Stanton has done nothing to show that he can run the offense with any effectiveness. 

Seattle Seahawks v. Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Seahawk Wide Receivers: Bench

This team is not going to feature their passing game. If you are depending on these guys

Philadelphia Eagles

*Owners Beware* Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receivers

Is this the week that Mark Sanchez returns to his old turnover-prone self against Richard Sherman and the Legion and of Boom? While I doubt it is too the extreme like his days with the Jets, I have a feeling that the Seattle defense is hitting their stride at just the right time. 

From a fantasy perspective nether Jeremy Maclin nor Jordan Matthews have a strong matchup as they go up against the no. 1 unit in the NFL against, allowing a meager 14.0 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. 

Even though people continue to throw out blasphemy that Richard Sherman is overrated the metrics speak for themselves that he is one of the premier defensive backs in the game today. On passes thrown his direction this year quarterbacks are completing just 45% of their passes, and have a passer rating just over 48.

Normally I would say that when a team has a shutdown corner on one side of the field to pick on the guy opposite him, however in Byron Maxwell's case you are going after damn good cornerback in his own right. 

Now I am not telling anyone that they should bench Jeremy Maclin, but I am saying to temper your expectations for this week. While he very well could see a large amount of targets I do not think that the efficiency will be there for Maclin to produce high-end WR1 numbers like he has been this season. 

San Francisco 49ers v. Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

Anquan Boldin

I would rather not depend on a receiver that has Colin Kaepernick throwing him the ball on my fantasy team, but if I had to choose one of the 49ers receivers give me Anquan Boldin. Boldin has never been the best athlete, but what he lack in athleticism he makes up for it with a pair of sure hands and unmatched toughness.

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has regressed as a passer yet agin this year, but regardless of his deficiencies there is no doubt that Boldin is his favorite target. Vernon Davis is a producing absolutely nothing for the 49ers offense this year, and Michael Crabtree has failed to live up to the expectations that were placed on him when the 49ers selected Crabtree with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. 

Where Crabtree and Davis has been failing, Boldin has been there to pick up the slack to one of the quietest 900 yard seasons I have every heard of. Despite lacking the big play ability of a Calvin Johnson, Boldin has found niche for himself in the slot patrolling the middle of the field. 

Over the last seven weeks Boldin has been a model of consistency, having at least five catches or 90 receiving yards in all but one game in that time span. Like I said I have a tough time depending on Kaepernick to get the ball to his receivers on a consistent basis, but if I have to go with one of them give me wily veteran. 

Oakland Raiders

52-0 last week. Need I say more about the Raiders?

New England Patriots v. San Diego Chargers

New England Patriots

*Start Em* New England Receiving Options

I have a couple of theories about how this week 14 matchup where the Chargers host the Patriots will end up going. My first one, and for the sake of my own fantasy team I hope so, is that this game has the potential to be a shootout. The second, is that San Diego lays an egg while the Patriots control the game from the get go. 

While I have my concerns about the Chargers offense we will discuss that in a little bit. When I try and project how a player will perform I try and examine who exactly they will matchup with during the game. I would imagine that Brandon Flowers is going to spend most of the afternoon lining up against Brandon LaFell (#24 Weekly Rankings), while Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall matchup with Julian Edelman (#28 Weekly Rankings) and Rob Gronkowski (#1 TE Rank). 

Looking at the matchup just on paper, I would expect Gronkowski to be to focal point of Tom Brady's passing attack this weekend. The Chargers rank 4th fewest points to opposing tight ends, but when I look at it a little bit closer, aside from playing Julius Thomas they have not exactly played any tight ends that will keep defensive coordinators up at night trying to scheme against them.

I still expect Edelman to get his typical workload between 7-10 targets and 60-70 yards making him especially valuable in PPR leagues. If any of the Patriots receivers are going to "take one for the team" so to speak my candidate would be Brandon LaFell. If LaFell does not get in the end zone his upside is limited due to his inconsistent role within the offense. If you need someone in standard leagues LaFell would be the guy I would roll with. 

San Diego Chargers

Keenan Allen B- and Antonio Gates A-

Well I have a feeling that Keenan Allen is going to spend a lot of time in the ice bath after this week as i expect him to see a heavy dose of Brandon Browner lining up directly across from him. If that is the case and the Patriots scheme like I expect them too with Revis shadowing Gates, and Browner on Allen it could be a long big day for Eddie Royal patrolling the underneath routes. 

If I know Belichick like I think I do I have a feeling he is going to surprise people tomorrow and have Darrelle Revis take Antonio Gates as another hostage to Revis Island. However, like I have found out in the past no one knows what the Hoodie is going to do, not even the Hoodie himself.

If the Patriots stick to their previous gameplan Gates could be in for a busy afternoon. The Patriots defense has allowed the 9th most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, including 6 double-digit scoring days in all but one of the previous 7 games, including three touchdowns in the same time frame. 

Atlanta Falcons v. Green Bay Packers

Atlanta Falcons

Julio Jones: A

Even though every ounce of me wants to say that Julio Jones is going to rip the Packers to shreds, there is no doubt that when the Falcons get away from the friendly confines of the Georgia dome they are a completely different team. 

In the Falcons five away games not in a dome this year Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has a td:int of 5:4, failing to throw for multiple touchdowns in any road game this season. There is one thing that Julio Jones has going for him. Well two things actually. The first thing is that the Packers starting cornerback Sam Shields, the man who most likely would draw the duty of trying to contain the animal that is Julio Jones, is still going through the leagues concussion protocol and is currently listed as questionable for this weeks game. 

Roddy White: C+ 

I gotta hand it too Roddy, he has been very helpful to the fantasy football community over the years. I mean he told us himself that if he is limited during the week to not start him in your fantasy lineups. At least the guy is honest, right? 

Well White was limited once again this week, but he did get in a limited practice on Saturday. One thing White has going for him is an extra day of rest as the Falcons and Packers do not play until Monday night. If White is able to go it is hard to imagine that he would have a massive role in the gameplan. 

Harry Douglas: C+ w/potential

This ranking is all dependent on the health of Roddy White and whether or not he is going to be available for this weekend against the Packers. If White is forced to miss week 14 Harry Douglas would immediately gain the value of a high-end WR3, with the potential to post WR2 numbers. 

Green Bay Packers

Jordy Nelson: A

Randall Cobb: A

Has anyone taken a look at what Aaron Rodgers has been able to do to opposing defenses while playing at Lambeau this year? Well if not the guys is just averaging 280 yards passing, and almost 3.5 touchdowns per game this season. Rodgers has also not thrown an interception at home this season, displaying a lighting quick release and an absurd understanding of what opposing defenses are throwing at him. 

Well when someone is on a roll the way that Rodgers is that normally means good things for fantasy owners if they happen to own one of his top two targets; Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson. Even though Nelson draws a semi-tough matchup against Desmond Truant, there is no way a second year cornerback (aside from Xavier Rhodes) is going to completely take away Jordy Nelson from the game plan. 

Randall Cobb on the other hand is going to have a field day with the other members of the Falcons secondary whether it be Robert McClain or whoever else the Falcons throw at him I doubt it has little impact as the Packers offense is beginning to hit their stride right in time for the playoff run. 

One more little note for Nelson owners; Jordy has caught a touchdown pass in every home game this season. Just keep that in mind. 

View Keith Allison's Flickr page here.

 

 

Last modified on Sunday, 07 December 2014 05:11

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