Those wily defenses were at it this week.
First we have the porous Titans defense actually standing up to an opponent and backing up Vince Young enough to get a win, then we have the Broncos D giving up 30 points and nearly 300 yards to the Ravens.
Could we have seen it coming? Yes and no.
Take away the two shutdown performances in Weeks 2 and 3, the Broncos haven’t been dominant from a fantasy perspective. In the two weeks previous to the meeting with the Ravens, Denver was average, giving up 69.25 and 70.80 points to offensive fantasy players.
In comparison, the Titans have allowed more than 100 points to offensive players in four of six weeks prior to their game against the Jaguars. Against Jacksonville, the Titans had their least awful week – 55.95 total.
Why have I spent six paragraphs talking about the Titans and the Broncos? Because many of you – and probably a couple at my urging – probably lineup decisions based on the matchups.
You reluctantly played Ray Rice and probably benched Joe Flacco because they were facing the Broncos.
Meanwhile, you probably played David Garrard – I played him in place of Donovan McNabb. Yes, ouch is right – and Mike Sims-Walker without hesitation.
While Maurice Jones-Drew was his usual awesome self, Garrard and Sims-Walker were putrid against a defense that hasn’t even slowed down opposing passing attacks all season.
The lesson, for me as much as anyone else: Don’t bank on the matchups. Now, watching matchups is going to help you make your lineup decisions, but there are no guarantees.
For myself, I forgot the one notion I tell myself come keeper time every year. When McNabb’s healthy and wants to play he will completely take over games. That’s why you need to play McNabb whenever he’s healthy. Period.
So, yeah, McNabb had a great game and Ray Rice had a solid game, who else was good this weekend, let’s take a look:
Ray Rice – Got 84 yards on 23 carries and led the team with five catches against the Broncos. Rice is supposed to be too small to handle a 23-carry, 3.7/per-type game. I’m buying Rice as a legit running back. Then again, I started buying Steve Slaton last year, too.
Ryan Moats – Had 23 carries 126 yards and three TDs against the Bills. Hey, the Bills are awful against running backs. But Steve Slaton had one carry for one yard and a fumble against the same defense, too. Not a bad idea to take a waiver chance on Moats. You could get a starting running back out of the deal.
Matt Forte – Another great running back matchup for last year’s Bears superstar running back. He had 96 yards and two TDs, but still took 26 carries to get it. I know I’m knit-picking here, but 3.5 per carry is not very good against the Browns. Garrett Wolfe averaged 10.6 on five carries, just saying.
Michael Crabtree – Still no breakout performance, but PPR players got a decent 6-81 line out of the 49ers rookie receiver.
Mark Sanchez – He’s been bad for a couple weeks, but bounced with a 265-yard, 2 TD game. He’s a rookie QB, he’ll have his ups and downs. This was an up.
Shonn Greene – I was shouting Shonn Greene’s name last week, his 8-carry, 18-yard performance was highlighted by a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Jason Taylor. I’m calling this one a hiccup, we’ll see what happens next week.
Dustin Keller and Braylon Edwards – Keller’s been solid all year, but his 8-catch, 76-yard game was a little better than usual. Edwards seems to be settling in, and as long as Sanchez isn’t throwing wounded ducks, he should be good for 4-74-1-ish games the rest of the year.
Malcolm Floyd – Had two catches for 64 yards in his new role as starter over Chris Chambers. He’s a pickup and hold in deep leagues, or in any league where you’re hurting at wide receiver.
Vince Young – Only had 125 yards passing and a score, but was 15-for-18 as Chris Johnson erupted. He should have been picked up last week, but if he wasn’t, and you’re third QB is taking up space, why not take a chance on the former Heisman winner.
Chris Johnson – Wow, uh, I don’t know what to say. Another RBBC back getting 24 carries is awesome. And he rolled up 228 yards and two TDs. His long TD runs showed off his speed and toughness.
Percy Harvin – I don’t think anyone has ever doubted his physical talent, just his size, role and ability to stay healthy. He’s been awesome on kick returns all season, but flashed some skill on offense this week. He had five catches for 84 yards, but his 51-yard TD catch will be on highlight reels for a long time.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart – I saw a lot of experts saying to sit Jonathan Stewart against the stout Cardinals defense. Much like the Broncos, the Cardinals cracked this week against the Panthers rushing onslaught. Williams went 23-158-0 and Stewart went 17-87-2. Like the guys on NFL Network said post-game, the Panthers just did what they did best and stuffed it down the Cardinals’ throats.
Beanie Wells – While the defense was choking on the Panthers rushing attack, the Cardinals offense was stuttering as well. Wells had 47 yards on eight carries, that’s not a bad game. However, the game situation called for more Tim Hightower, and he had the same number of carries – scoring a TD to go with his 39 yards – and pulled in eight catches for 57 yards.
Steve Smith – The Panthers Steve Smith. I said he might break out in a prediction post Sunday. He had 73 total yards and a TD. Not exactly a breakout, but not a typical bad Steve Smith game either.
Terrell Owens – TO finally makes the report for not being terrible. Not sure if you can be happy about being not terrible, but he scored and had 68 total yards.
I’ve already addressed some of the guys from my prediction column Sunday, but here are the rest:
Marc Bulger – I said he’d have a good game, and he threw a pick, completed only half of his passes for 176 yards and should be replaced soon.
David Garrard – I talked about the Titans defense in the lead, and they took out a season of frustrations against Garrard. The Jags QB finished with just 139 yards and was picked off twice.
Jamal Lewis and Jerome Harrison – Ugly. The Bears defense bucked their trend – go figure this week, right? – and held Lewis to 69 yards on 16 carries and Harrison to 19 yards on 5 carries. Now, those numbers don’t average out to terrible, but it’s still not what I expected against the Bears.
LeSean McCoy – Finally a hit, McCoy went big, 82 yards on 11 carries and a long TD. Take away that long TD and Leonard Weaver would have been a better play.
Kenny Britt – He had one catch for seven yards. That’s terrible. I really don’t have anything else to say about that.
Kevin Boss – Another hit, had three catches for 70 yards and a TD. Those are great numbers for a TE that was, and probably still is, on waivers.
Zach Miller – Had five catches for 52 yards. Not a great performance unless you’re in a PPR.