A league mate of mine and I were having a conversation on Monday morning about how the guy in our league who has Wes Welker is going to blow everyone else out of the water and his chances to win our league. Now the guy with Welker on his team is 4-0 and has a good team, but I don’t think that he’s that unbeatable. My buddy thinks the guy with Welker should win it all, I say Welker will slow down. Here’s why.
Has Welker been amazing so far? Yes. Are the New England Patriots a good team? Yep. Will Welker slow down soon? Definitely. First thing that helps Welker put up big numbers is having Bill Belichick as a coach. Belichick doesn’t take his foot off pedal during blowouts. He keeps his guys firing on all cylinders until the final play. Secondly, so far New England has played at Miami, San Diego, at Buffalo, and at Oakland. The only defense that I would pick out of those four to be in the top half of the league in total defense is San Diego. What did Welker do, at home, against San Diego? He had 11 targets, seven catches, 81 yards, and no touchdowns. A good game, but not the fantasy team carrying numbers that he put up against lesser defenses. Coming up in his next eight games, Welker has to go against the New York Jets twice, the Dallas Cowboys, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, and then has a bye. Those sound like much tougher games than the cupcakes he’s had to play early this season. Third, it’s unusual to have a slot receiver and a tight end as the No. 1 and No. 2 receivers on a football team. Defensive coordinators will start scheming things to stop the Patriots. Don’t get me wrong – I still see Welker in the Top 5 for catches and yards, and probably the No. 1 guy, but I don’t see him carrying teams to championships like Arian Foster did last year, or Chris Johnson the year before.
Now on to the calls for the week:
Getting to play New England on your home turf is an easy matchup for a quarterback, and this week Mark Sanchez gets that lucky game. Sanchez has put up modest numbers so far this year, but the Patriots’ weak secondary should give up tons of yards and points for your roster. New England ranks 31st against quarterbacks, so Sanchez should have an easy game. As another plus, if he can’t put up points for you this week, you can drop him off your roster, because you know he won’t get a better opportunity. Play Sanchez with confidence this week.
Josh Freeman hasn’t looked like the sleeper pick he was being made out to be during draft time, but that should change this week. Freeman gets to go against the San Francisco secondary. The 49ers have been stopping running backs left and right, but their secondary isn’t getting it done like their front line has. Tony Romo, Tarvaris Jackson and Michael Vick have all put up two touchdowns against the 49ers, and Freeman should be able to do the same. He has also run in two touchdowns in the past two weeks, so he could take another one for a score on the ground as well.
I’d temper your expectation for Tom Brady this week. The New York Jets defense ranks first against quarterbacks, and they haven’t given up a passing touchdown since Week 1. You’re going to start Brady, but if you’re looking for another 400-yard game to carry you while some of your other players are on bye, it’s probably not going to happen. This is the week that Brady wakes up from his high-flying Peter Pan dream.
Matt Hasselbeck seems like to like his new change of scenery in Tennessee, but this week he travels to Pittsburgh. The Steelers have been strong against opposing quarterbacks, and despite the loss of James Harrison they should still be able to shut down Hasselbeck. My guess is that the running game with Chris Johnson takes over this game, and Hasselbeck doesn’t have to throw much. I’d sit Hasselbeck if you have another option.
Speaking of Chris Johnson, he finally got more than 100 yards last week, and fullback Ahmard Hall is back from suspension this week. If you were thinking about sitting him, don’t. This will be the week he blows up and gets back to normal production. The loss of James Harrison on Pittsburgh’s defense will help, as well as the unproductive Steelers offense should give Johnson plenty of drives and time to run the ball. Starting Johnson this week will be a good call for your roster. Welcome him back to fantasy stardom.
Joseph Addai has performed well at home and poorly on the road. This week he gets the Kansas City Chiefs defense at home. This is a prime matchup for Addai, and you should definitely have him in your lineup this week. The Chiefs are giving up an average of one rushing touchdown a game, and Addai should get plenty of yards and that touchdown. If you haven’t started Addai yet this year, this is the matchup to do it.
LeGarrette Blount. San Francisco’s defense has been shutting down running backs this year. When Tampa bay is down, Earnest Graham comes in and kills Blount’s potential. I’d sit him this week. San Francisco ranks second against running backs, and Blount isn’t the type that puts up good numbers no matter who he plays. The 49ers are looking like that defense you don’t try to run against with mediocre running backs. Sit Blount this week, or you’re going to be sorry you didn’t.
The Denver defense ranks last against quarterback and wide receivers, but they rank in the Top 10 against running backs. That’s why starting Mike Tolbert this week isn’t a good idea. San Diego hasn’t played a team ranked in the top higher than 15th yet this year. Trying to split time with two backs against a good run defense is going to make both backs bad plays. This is San Diego’s one tough rushing game sandwiched between a bunch of cupcakes. The next time the Chargers play another team ranked in the top half against the run: Week 12 against Denver again. Tolbert should be sat this week.
Percy Harvin racked up 126 yards in his last game against Arizona. A weak Minnesota secondary means they will be playing catch up and passing a lot. Top wideouts playing against Arizona have all put up 100 yards or a touchdown in every game this year. Harvin should be able to do both.
While the San Francisco 49ers’ run defense is stout, their pass defense is what is holding them back. They rank in the top against the run and right at the bottom against the pass. Mike Williams should have a good day. I’d even go as far as to say that he’ll get 100 yards this week, just like Miles Austin and DeSean Jackson have against San Francisco.
Mike Wallace is going up against a defense that ranks in the Top 10 against quarterbacks and wide receivers. His quarterback is going to be a less than 100 percent Ben Roethlisberger or back up Charlie Batch. Things are stacked against him, so make this a bad time to hope for another 100-plus yard game from Wallace. If you’ve got another guy with a good matchup, I’d sit Wallace this week.
Eric Decker has been on fire this year, and he came out of nowhere. When everyone thought Brandon Lloyd was the guy to have in Denver, here comes Decker. Who said a different coach doesn’t affect a player’s production? With his great start, this is not the week to have him in your starting lineup. The San Diego defense has held the explosive Wes Welker to 81 yards, Dwayne Bowe to 67, and Brandon Mashall to 52 yards. Decker doesn’t have the proven talent these guys do, and starting him would be a bad call.
Greg Olson should get even more targets than he was before with Jeremy Shockey out with a concussion. Olson has been a good target for Cam Newton and this week should be no different. He has more than 50 yards and a touchdown is his past two games. Starting Olson will be a good call for you this week. Olson could creep into the Top 5 tight ends with a good performance this week.
Owen Daniels should be getting a few more targets with Andre Johnson out of the lineup for a few weeks. Plus, three straight games with a touchdown is a nice streak for a tight end. Daniels’ problem has been if he can stay healthy, not what he can do when he is healthy. Start Daniels this week, and worry about your other starters being on a bye week and trying to fill their spots.
Kellen Winslow hasn’t been producing much this year, and he’s not going to do much against the 49ers defense either. The 49ers have held Zach Miller, Jermaine Gresham and Brent Celek to a combined 72 yards and no touchdowns. Tampa Bay will be passing a lot in this game, but not to Winslow.
If you thought that a hurt Ben Roethlisberger will be dumping short passes to Heath Miller, think again. Tennessee ranks in the Top 10 against tight ends, and will see that play coming all day. I don’t think Miller catches more than two passes in this matchup. Sit him and move on.
Random football fact of the week: Jacquizz Rodgers holds the Texas State High School record for total touchdowns at 135 over his four years of playing varsity football.
Good luck this week. I hope you make all the right calls.