Take Two: Josh Freeman vs Joe Flacco
September 4, 2013 | Joe Siniscalchi
With kickoff being a day away, I decided to shift my attention to aiding 2 QB leaguers in their week to week matchups. Every week, I, along with the help of my friend @AnthonyOlivetti (who also writes for football.com) will square off in picking a not so obvious quarterback start in 2 QB leagues that could help carry you to victory each week.
JS: My Candidate for Week 1: Josh Freeman (at NYJ)
What a difference a year makes, right? Last season, the Bucs were unsure of what running back would separate themselves from the pack, there were multiple new additions to the team, and the defense was a work in progress under new coach Greg Schiano. Now? The Buccaneers have a top three fantasy RB in Doug Martin, a solid offensive line returning many starters, proven chemistry between prized free agent Vincent Jackson and Freeman, and most importantly, a stout defense (last year they finished as the top run defense, while this year they added Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis).
Freeman is quietly poised to have a nice season if he can remain consistent, and it starts in week one. The Jets have lost multiple starters on defense, and have looked below average against the run thus far, while finishing in the bottom ten vs the pass this preseason (I know it’s preseason, but still). Revis may not have even been the biggest loss on the defense, as Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito anchored the run defense.
Without them, The Bucs are set to run the ball all over the Jets in week one, which means the Bucs will control the clock all game. All Freeman has to do is not lose the game, which will be much easier for him if he doesn’t have to win the game with his arm. There are many favorable matchups for the Bucs in the passing game to increase Freeman’s success. While Cromartie on V-Jax looks bad on paper, keep in mind V-Jax will get plenty of looks in the slot, posing a clear mismatch for nickel corner Kyle Wilson. Mike Williams, another red zone monster, will be matched up against rookie corner Dee Milliner, who I’m sure will be tested early and often. Doug Martin will also get his share of looks in the passing game, as the Jets are vulnerable to screens and swing passes (just ask Shane Vereen).
This pick is a lot more about the Jets defense, a unit clearly in transition that will definitely struggle at times. I think with Freeman’s ability as well as the talent on the Buc’s offense will make this matchup favorable for you if you have the chance to start Freeman. I expect somewhere in the range of 260-280 passing yards, 2 TDs, and probably an interception for Freeman in week 1.
AO: My Candidate for Week 1: Joe Flacco (at DEN)
The defending Super Bowl MVP wouldn’t normally qualify as a low end QB2, but all of the injuries and departures in Baltimore combined with the perception that Flacco’s postseason was a fluke have made it so. Even with all of those departures in mind I still love him in two QB leagues heading into a week one matchup against the Denver Broncos.
Let’s start off by stating the obvious: The Broncos are good. Their offense is among the league’s best, and with Peyton under center they’re going to score early and often. In order to stay in this game, the Ravens are going to need to throw the ball all day. Next to only the Saints-Falcons matchup this should be the week 1 game with the highest combined point total.
Even with all of the new faces around him Flacco managed to complete 76.4 percent of his preseason passes. Now I understand that it’s just the preseason and it doesn’t mean much, but that is still impressive. On the other hand he threw four interceptions, but I don’t see this as something to worry about. Entering his sixth year in the NFL he has never thrown more than 12 INTs in any season.
The Ravens will also have the benefit of facing a Denver defense that is devoid of Champ Bailey who will likely sit out due to injury, Von Miller who will be forced to sit out while serving a suspension, and Elvis Dumervil who is now a member of the Ravens. The Broncos will still have a good defense without these pieces of the puzzle present, but it should expose some cracks for Flacco and the Ravens to exploit.
The combination of playing from behind, and facing a defense that is missing some key players makes Flacco a high upside QB 2 heading into week one. I think a line of 275/3/1 is well within reach for him this week given the situation.
JS: I think that while the loss of Bailey hurts the Denver secondary, it doesn’t blow the lid off the unit. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie still can pose a challenge to speedster Torrey Smith, who will see his targets increase as well as the amount of coverage he receives. With security blankets Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin gone, look for Ray Rice to get more checkdowns, aka less passing yardage for Flacco.
If the Broncos can keep Smith in check for the majority of the game and force Flacco to throw to Rice, I can’t see a big fantasy day for the handsomely paid QB. I expect the Broncos to give up one big pass play to Torrey Smith, but not a repeat from last year’s playoffs. I think Flacco has a decent but not spectacular showing, finishing with 240 passing yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.
AO: I can’t get behind Josh Freeman, even against the Jets. It’s not that I think he’ll play poorly so much as I think the game will be over before it even starts. Freeman just won’t need to throw that often to lock up this win, once they have a 10 point lead it’ll be the Doug Martin show.
Even if they don’t jump out to an early lead – which they will – it just doesn’t make sense to throw against the Jets. The departure of Revis certainly hurts, but don’t forget that they still have Cromartie who graded out as a Top 5 cornerback last season according to Pro Football Focus’ rankings. Why go at the one strength that the Jets have when you can just hand it off to your Top 3 running back and literally run away with the game?
So, will they pass the ball? Absolutely, this is the NFL not Pop Warner, Freeman is going to drop back his fair share of times. But once the game gets out of hand the passing attack will be reserved for keeping the defense on its toes and converting mid-to-long yardage 3rd downs. The Bucs are going to control the clock and pound the rock all game long because the risk of throwing it outweighs the gain, the Jets may be more of a threat to score on defense than on offense.
I won’t be surprised by 250/1/2 from Freeman this week.
We’ll be keeping a tally over who fares better throughout the course of the season, so be sure to keep track along with us.