Thursday, September 20, 2007

Matt's Stats: Week 3 NFL Preview

While some at ESPN had you benching Braylon Edwards (146 Yards, 2 TD) and starting the Bengals defense (51 Points scored against), my week 2 advice at did nothing of the sort. Instead, I advised you to pick up the sleeper from the Green Bay Packers, James Jones (Started, 4 Catches, 75 Yards), and the defensive stud from the San Francisco 49ers, Patrick Willis (5 Tackles, 3 Assisted Tackles). So while the Professor considers "talented" an even more dirty word than ever, I am back with more helpful recommendations based on research and reasons.

"Sleepers" on the Job:

1) Roydell Williams (Tennessee Titans, WR) - Williams has had a subpar career at best, but that doesn't mean that he can't become a dependable WR this year for your fantasy team. Currently owned in only 13% of CBS leagues, Williams is coming off a 4 Reception, 72 Yard, 1 TD performance in Week 2 against an improving Colts defense. Vince Young has been looking for a dependable WR that he can count on, and perhaps Williams will be that WR who shows up and answers the call. Williams is a sleeper by every definition of the word, but one that could become a #1 WR for the Titans this year and a very good #2 or 3 WR for your fantasy team.

2) Chris Cooley (Washington Redskins, TE) - Cooley is not a true sleeper in the normal use of the term. He is owned by over 3/4 of CBS leagues and has been pretty consistent since entering the league in 2004. So far Cooley has totaled only 35 Yards and 1 TD, but that is sure to increase this week playing against the Giants. As a Giants fan, I'll admit it...the Giants secondary this year is one of the worst in the NFL, especially when trying to stop tight ends. This was witnessed in Week 1 with TE Jason Witten totalling 116 Yards with 1 TD and with TE Bubba Franks doing his best 2002 impersonation with 4 catches for 20 Yards and a TD while his teammate TE David Lee was able to total 4 catches for 35 Yards and a TD. This is a total of 171 Yards receiving and 3 TD in only 2 weeks from TEs playing against the Giants. Until Kiwanuka learns how to play LB or Kawika Mitchell adjusts to his new team, this is sure to continue. As a result, make sure to start Chris Cooley this week if you have him, and make sure to pick him up if he is available. Cooley is sure to come up with big points in Week 3.

3) Jacoby Jones (Houston Texans, WR) - While he was previously listed on my season predictions as a great sleeper, now is an excellent time to pick him up. Jones is only owned by 30% of CBS leagues, and in Week 3 will begin to see his playing time increase. Andre Johnson is injured and there are a lot of extra passes to go around. Pick up Jones before it is too late.

"Play" or "Stay Away"

1) At QB this week Play Derek Anderson of the Cleveland Browns. While you should never get too excited from just one week, Anderson should come up big again in Week 3. Now one would have to be crazy to think he could copy his Week 2 stats of 328 Yards, 5 TD, 1 INT, but the Oakland Defense is ranked 28th in the league this year and a 250 Yard, 2 TD performance is a strong possibility. This may be one of the final weeks that Anderson will have a good matchup, so it is best to take advantage while you can.

Stay Away from Tony Romo this week. Romo has played against 29th ranked defense (Giants) and the 25th ranked defense (Dolphins). While Romo had a great game in Week 1 against the Giants (345 Yards, 4 TD, 1 INT), and had a decent game in Week 2 (186 Yards, 2 TD, 0 INT), he will run into trouble against the 5th ranked defense of the Chicago Bears. While he could get a TD or 2, expect a few INTs to be thrown by Romo this week.

2) At running back, play Laurence Maroney this week. Maroney has been waiting to break out all year and is against the worst rush defense he has seen (The Bills are currently ranked 30th against the run with 177.5 Yards per game given up). The Professor also suggests playing Thomas Jones, who despite his slow start is going up against the putrid Dolphins defense, as mentioned above.

Stay Away from Marshawn Lynch. While he has had a very good start to his career (154 Rushing Yards, 1 TD), he will be on the road against the Patriots defense (currently ranked 1 against the Run with only 56 yards per game given up). Find another option at RB if you can this week, and save Lynch for Week 4 when he returns home against the Jets.

3) Play Santana Moss this week at WR. While, he has not put up great stats this season he is due to break out and is against the perfect secondary (Giants) to do it. Moss came close on a few big passes from Campbell last week on MNF and you should expect them to improve and connect on at least 1 TD this week.

Stay away from Darrell Jackson this week. San Francisco is off to a great 2-0 start but have a very tough game at Pittsburgh in Week 3. Pittsburgh's defense should be too much for the inexperienced Alex Smith, and as a result it'll be at least one more game until Smith and Jackson connect for their first TD.

Survival of the Fittest:

While many were ousted by the Browns last week, Jacksonville's win carried me to a 2-0 record for the season. This week's pick is the Pittsburgh Steelers at home over the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams are 2-0, so some may feel this pick to be a bit risky but a home game against an out of conference team is usually a safe bet. Combine that with the fact that the AFC has been much better than the NFC this year in H2H games and the fact that Alex Smith should have trouble with a veteran Steelers defense, and it all equals a wake up call for the 49ers and a pretty easy win for the Steelers. (For week 3 in a row, the Professor is making a different choice, opting for the New England Patriots).

Final Thoughts:

I have a good feeling about this week...maybe even the "defenseless" Giants can finally pull off the miracle and get a win! Enjoy Week 3!!! And remember, while the boys from Bristol might have a pretty website, never suggested the Bengals "D" for week 2.
Matt Cohen is a Senior Deputy Justice at His column, Matt's Stats appears on Fridays at SportsJudge Blog.

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