Do you smell that? The Matchup Machine is whipping up a fresh batch of new numbers to enjoy. Piping hot Week 1 data was sprinkled in with stats from the 2012 Fantasy Playoffs (Weeks 14-16) to create the delicious Matchup Rankings listed at the end of this tasty column. Friendly reminder: after consuming, please wait 30 minutes before swimming.
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay
• This week could be the Jimmy Graham show. We all witnessed time travel last week, when Tampa turned back the clock for Kellen Winslow. In the four weeks included in the Matchup Machine, Tampa gave up a TD to a TE each week. Opposing QBs completed 82% of their passes to TEs, posting a QB rating north of 150. Hopefully you aren’t facing Graham this week.
• Someone lower on your radar than Graham, but still worth a potential start is Josh Freeman. In the four Matchup Machine Weeks, offenses facing New Orleans have only run the ball 28% of the time and passed for more than 300 yards three times. The last time these two teams met, Freemen threw four picks, but the time before that (in Tampa) he threw three TDs and 400 yards. Freeman did not look great against the Jets, but the Jets allowed just one 300-yard passer in all of 2012 (Brady). If you’re hard pressed for a QB, Freeman may work out.
NY Jets @ New England
• Speaking of Brady, the Matchup Machine has Tom Brady ranked quite low this week and in light of his shrinking arsenal, it’s hard to disagree. But some players just have a team’s number. And Tom Brady definitely has the New York Jets’ number. Over the past two years, the New York Jets defense has allowed an opposing QB to throw for 300+ yards just four times. Three of those times it was Tom Brady tossing the pigskin. Weapons or not, bench him at your own peril.
• Despite his strong outing last week, Kellen Winslow will not have it so easy in Week 2. As we saw above, Tampa has not defended the TE position very well and Winslow benefited big time. New England, on the other hand, has allowed an average of just 4 catches for 34 yards to opposing TEs during the four Matchup Machine weeks.
San Francisco @ Seattle
• Last year, non-Seattle running backs averaged just 3.2 YPC against San Francisco (which is better than what Green Bay RBs got last week). But Seattle is special, they have Marshawn Lynch. In the two games last year, Lynch averaged 4.8 YPC and posted over 100 rushing yards each time. Keep Lynch in your lineup.
• Anquan Boldin absolutely torched the Green Bay secondary last week. In the 2012 Fantasy Playoffs, Green Bay allowed an average of 115 yards on 10 catches to opposing WRs, so Boldin’s 13 catches and 208 yards were not exactly expected. Similarly, Seattle has allowed just 10 catches for 107 yards to opposing WRs over the four Matchup Machine weeks. As much as I like Seattle at home, I can’t bench Boldin this week.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
• Hopefully this does not ruin your week, but if you have any piece of the Pittsburgh running game, they should be on your bench. Over the last four Matchup Machine weeks, Cincinnati is allowing less than 2.8 YPC. With their current stable of runners, it’s doubtful Pittsburgh will best that number. This is probably a week where Pittsburgh will be forced to rely on Ben Roethlisberger. But coming off a five sack game, missing a center, and facing a bitter Jerome Harrison…don’t be surprised if the Cincinnati Defense outscores Big Ben.
• Despite running the ball a league leading 67% of the time last week, Tennessee RBs managed just 2.9 YPC against Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh was stout against the run during the 2012 Fantasy Playoffs as well, allowing just 3.0 YPC to opposing RBs. That being said, I wouldn’t trust BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Giovani Bernard to run well this week.