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FIR Week 9: Playbook Artist, Spotlighted Player, Focal Point

In seven short games Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, with the help of one veteran and a handful of rookie receivers, has quickly emerged as an every week fantasy starter. 

Ironically enough, among the few others that are to the status of “must start” stands Peyton Manning, who is showing once again, why he may be the best signal caller period in the last decade and a half. 

Both Luck and Manning should be in every fantasy lineup this week. 

P.A. — Playbook Artist


It’s first and ten on their own 28-yard line for the Denver Broncos midway through the first quarter. The New Orleans Saints are in a base 4-3 quarters coverage defense.

The idea is that the strong safety, Roman Harper (pictured at the top left), will cheat up to help in run support, while free safety Malcolm Jenkins plays deep. Jenkins’ job is to role to the slot Z receiver Eric Decker when he clears the right outside linebacker. Patrick Robinson is in man coverage to X receiver Demaryius Thomas, and if Harper comes up inside of ten yards, the left side cornerback Jabari Greer (pictured at the top) will role back deep if the H receiver (tight end Jacob Tamme) pushes his route deep and out.

For Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, this is easy pickings coming off play-action to running back Ronnie Hillman. The offense is lined up in a Singleback twin formation. Tight end Jacob Tamme is the short middle read, but he’s the last receiver Manning is looking to throw to. Hillman will come off the play-action and will run a simple flat route towards the sidelines drawing middle linebacker help away from Tamme just in case Manning has to check down short.

The focal point for Manning will be on the twin side where Z and X Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas will run inside post routes. Decker is the diversion route and will draw Malcolm Jenkins (MJ) towards the middle of the field. Thomas is the prime read, and his only job is to gain inside position on cornerback Patrick Robinson.

Jenkins moves toward his assignment (as noted above) Decker with Manning’s eyes looking straight down the middle of the field. Thomas slides inside of Robinson and Manning finds him down the field for a 41 yard pitch and catch.

The Saints like running this defensive look on first down, especially against productive run offenses, as it allows the safety to move in to the box and make a play on the running back. Their opponent this week is the Philadelphia Eagles, who have one of the top running backs in the NFL, Lesean McCoy. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles emulate the above formation by putting Desean Jackson to the inside at the Z slot spot, and lining up Jeremy Maclin or Jason Avant right next to him at the X outside spot, especially with two tight ends on the field. Also don’t be surprised if they hit a few big plays down the field on early downs with Maclin and Avant.

S.P. — Spotlighted Player

On this third down and seven play inside the red zone, the impact of explosive wide receiver Julio Jones is shown in black and white. Spotlighted (literally) at the top, Jones, will run what looks to the Philadelphia Eagles defense as a wide receiver screen — a play the Falcons love to run, as it allows Jones to showcase his run after the catch ability.

All four Eagles defenders (circled in green) bite on the screen and move towards Jones, while slot receiver Drew Davis runs a fake block route towards the cornerback and breaks off to the end zone. Quarterback Matt Ryan pump fakes to the screen and finds a wide open Davis in the back of the end zone for an easy touchdown.

This was all set up by Jones, who even without the ball, can create chaos for any opposing defense. His presence creates so many opportunities for other players around him.

This week the Dallas Cowboys defense will have the tall task of limiting Jones. They have some of the pieces needed to match up against Jones (most notably Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne), but do not have the pieces inside to limit some of those other weapons like Tony Gonzalez. That’s due in large part to the loss of linebacker Sean Lee and the lack of a play-making safety. Gonzalez should have a big week, especially if the Dallas defensive backs all flock to Jones like he is football’s version of Justin Bieber.

F.P. — Focal Point

This week’s focal point is on the Seattle Seahawks rushing attack and how with the right formation success can be found via ground.

The Seahawks initially line up in the I-formation with top blocking wide receiver Ben Obomanu split out to the right side and extra tight end Anthony McCoy lined up on the far left side. Before the snap McCoy motions to the right side and seals off Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril to the inside, who is lined up wide.

At the snap Obomanu seals off outside linebacker Justin Durant to the inside. Right tackle pulls around and takes care of cornerback Chris Houston, which immediately opens up a running lane for running back Marshawn Lynch, making this play a success before fullback Michael Robinson even makes it to the second level.

Lynch follows Robinson around the right side upon getting the pitched pigskin from quarterback Russell Wilson. He then waits for Robinson’s smash take out block on incoming safety Ricardo Silva before racing to pay dirt.

Rashad Jennings’ owners should be rejoicing this week. Not only do the Jaguars have the pieces to mock what the Seahawks were able to do last week running the football, but the Lions will be without both their starting safeties, and possibly linebacker DeAndre Levy. Jennings is a must start.

Thanks for reading!

Eric Huber is a Senior Writer for Fantasysharks.com, and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA).

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