BY Dan Snake Watson
Greetings once again, Fantasy Football fans and welcome to Week 3 of this column in Cleary’s Notebook. Here’s hoping that everyone is at 2-0 heading into this week. I am 2-0 in one of my leagues and 1-1 in the other.
I wanted to mention my starting lineups for anyone who is following this column.
In the league where I am 2-0, I start Peyton Manning, Cedric Benson, LeSean McCoy, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Antonio Gates, David Akers and Philly defense.
In the league where I am 1-1 I start Donovan McNabb, Clinton Portis, Michael Turner, Reggie Wayne, Miles Austin, Antonio Gates, Matt Prater and Philly Defense.
I expect to do better in this league. I do have Jay Cutler and the rest of the bench is fair but this is my best starting team from week to week. That said, I am not afraid to bench a stud in favor of a lesser player who has a better matchup. I think it’s always important to conduct the research prior to making a decision on the starting lineup.
Moving on, here are my recommendations this week:
Last Sunday Clinton Portis showed everyone that he could still find the end zone. Twice. He only had 33 yds but against the Rams this weekend, he should prosper. St Louis has not been able to stop the run for quite a while.
Carson Palmer should do well against Carolina this week. With Owens and Ochocinco waiting for some balls, this could be a breakout week against a terrible pass defending team.
Joe Flacco should get back on track this week vs. the lowly Browns. He’s done well against them in the past and this is just the game that he needs to exploit the week secondary with his weapons like Boldin, Mason and Heap.
Michael Vick is at Jacksonville this week and the Jags have struggled against the pass the last 2 weeks. Vick has compiled 459 passing yds and 3 tds. He also has 18 carries for 140 yds. If he can stay in the pocket, he could end up with 300 yds passing this week, despite the boycott that’s ongoing due to his infamous animal abuse history.
Donovan McNabb played lights out last week in a loss against the Texans. He compiled 426 passing yards. This week he’s in St. Louis facing the Rams and although they are doing well against the pass that has been against Arizona and Oakland. McNabb should test their defense here so keep the primary Washington receivers, Moss and Cooley, in the lineup too.
Jay Cutler has 649 yds passing and 5 tds this year. He’s only thrown 1 interception. He did not fare well vs. Green Bay last year but he should have some positive stats in this shootout.
I would bench Brett Favre vs. Detroit, Vince Young at the Giants, Matt Ryan at New Orleans, Josh Freeman vs. Pittsburgh, Mark Sanchez at Miami and Chad Henne vs. the Jets.
Darren McFadden is at Arizona this week. He seems to have come into his own this year and it’s certainly about time. I like this matchup for him because the Cardinals have been slapped around by running backs this year. Jason Snelling, filling in for Michael Turner ran for 86 yds and 3 TDs last week. I see McFadden continuing that trend.
Tim Hightower, conversely, should run all over Oakland this week as their run defense is not that great and the Raiders could still be missing their run stopper Richard Seymour.
LaDanian Tomlinson. One of my Keepers this year was Shonn Greene so along about the 9th round I drafted Tomlinson, mostly because he was available and partly because I wanted the handcuff for Greene. I never trust a second year guy. With the way that LT is playing right now, this is the time he should be used. It’s possible that by week 10 he’ll run out of gas but this matchup in Miami should allow him to gain yardage both from the rush and the pass. Keep in mind that he is still sharing carries with Greene although he’s off to a better start than the second year rusher.
Mike Tolbert at Seattle. This guy may be available in your league. If you drafted Ryan Matthews, you should handcuff this guy. Matthews is a North South runner and they get hurt running into the pile of defenders. It’s likely that Tolbert could see significant playing time because of Matthew’s high ankle sprain.
Fred Taylor is home vs. Buffalo this weekend. Since Laurence Maroney is in Denver now, Taylor should get the bulk of the carries and be spelled by BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Taylor has a shot at positive stats this week because the Pats should move the ball very well against the Bills.
I would sit Brandon Jackson at Chicago, Cadillac Williams vs. Pittsburgh, Jerome Harrison at Baltimore, Marion Barber at Houston, Tomas Jones and Jamal Charles vs. San Francisco and Ronnie Brown vs. the Jets.
Terrell Owens is at Carolina this week and should continue to lead the Bengals in targets. He only has 10 yds in the 2 games this year but this could be the week we see T.O. emerge as the play maker that we’re all used to seeing.
Malcom Floyd plays in Seattle this week. Opposing teams continue to double team Antonio Gates mainly because they have to. Floyd is the type of receiver that can take advantage of this and should have a great game against a poor team against the pass.
Mark Clayton is facing a Redskins team that is the worst against the pass. He’s found new life on the Rams and should not disappoint here as he’s become one of Sam Bradford’s favorite targets.
Santana Moss at Rams. I mentioned Moss earlier when I was recommending McNabb. So far this year Moss has 10 catches for 89 yards against Houston and for the season has 16 catches for 168 yards. No tds yet but that could change this weekend.
I would bench Jabar Gaffney vs. Colts, Dwayne Bowe vs. 49ers, Mike Williams vs. Pittsburgh, Mike Walace at Buccaneers, and Robert Meachum vs. Atlanta.
Jason Witten at Houston should get back on track this week. The Texans have given up big games to both Dallas Clark and Chris Cooley and Witten should do well in the high scoring affair.
Dustin Keller visits Miami and the Dolphins tend to do badly in covering tight ends. Keller is coming off a confidence boosting game of 7 catches for 115 yds and 1 TD so he should continue to see some targets from Sanchez.
Aaron Hernandez is proving to the Patriots that he’s a number one tight end. He may also be available in your league so you should scoop him up if you have a stiff to dump. Brady seems confident in the young gun and with Randy Moss getting double teamed Hernandez has become one of the main targets with Welker.
I would bench Jeremy Shockey vs. Atlanta, Brandon Pettigrew at Minnesota, Greg Olsen vs. Green Bay and Kellen Winslow vs. Pittsburgh.
Laurence Tynes is home vs. Tennessee this weekend and the Titans have allowed 7 field goals this year. Tynes is pretty accurate so he should do well under these circumstances.
I also recommend Neil Rackers vs. Dallas, Mike Nugent at Carolina and Billy Cundiff vs. Cleveland.
I would bench John Kasey this week vs. Cincinnati
DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS
Cincinnati is facing Jimmy Clausen in his first NFL start for Carolina this week. They should welcome him in the tradition of all rookies in the league. The Bengals should be a number one option and deserve the start here.
Also I would recommend 49ers at KC, Chargers at SEA and Patriots vs. BUF
I would not start Dallas this week or any week until they get back on track.
That’s all I have for week 3. I hope the information I provide each week is helpful in setting your lineups and, as always, it’s my hope that we can all get to 3-0 by Tuesday morning.
Please stay in touch with your comments and I’ll answer as many as I can prior to kickoff.
Good luck this weekend!
Dan “Snake” Watson