AFC South Week 1 Preview
Tennessee at Pittsburgh
I’ll start this preview with the fact that Pittsburgh had the best passing defense and the second best rush defense in terms of yardage last year. They were in the bottom third in the league in terms of both giving up passing and rushing TDs to opposing offenses last year as well.
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That being said, I really don’t think Jake Locker will have a good game this week. Not that he’s really startable anyways (unless in a 2 QB really deep league), but this Steelers defense is just nasty to play in fantasy. This isn’t a great matchup for any team, let alone a poor offensive team like the Titans. I don’t think Locker has a great game, which leads me into the pass catchers.
When your QB isn’t playing well, its tough for you to have a good game as a receiver or tight end. The Steelers did lose Keenan Lewis who was one of their best DBs, but I still think their pass coverage will be solid. Jarvin Jones adds a young pass rusher to put pressure on the young Jake Locker who is already inaccurate as a thrower. I don’t like the matchup for Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright or Delanie Walker one bit. I think if you have a better option, you should start them. Britt may not even play due to his knees and Jake Locker may not be able to get the ball out of his hand before he gets crushed by the Steelers pass rush. The offensive line is much improved from last year, but I think that helps CJ2K more than any of the pass catchers.
Speaking of CJ2K (yes I still call him that) – I think this could be a down game for him but I don’t think you’re sitting him. He will get the bulk of the carries and I don’t know that the Titans D is as bad as everyone thinks they are, not to mention the Steelers O-Line has some issues. If you start CJ2K you could have a big reward if he manages to bust through a hole and run for an 80 yard TD. The offensive line as I mentioned before has looked much better in the preseason, so he could either have a great game, or completely suck – but start at your own risk, knowing how solid the Pittsburgh D was last year against the run.
Jacksonville at Kansas City
I really think Jacksonville is (almost) a fantasy wasteland, with the exception of Jones-Drew and Cecil Shorts. Luckily if you have these guys on your team, they have a pretty sweet match up. I think KC has a bit of an underrated defense at least against the pass, but they were not good against the run last year. This bodes well for MJD, as he is likely going to get a ton of work in his first game back since his foot injury. With the addition of Luke Joeckel, the offensive line gets a little bit better and helps MJD even more. I don’t think the KC offense is all that great either, so I don’t think this game will get out of hand and take away carries from MJD.
I’m almost hoping that Henne starts this week instead of Gabbert because when he played last year, he wasn’t great but he did look to Shorts quite often. He averaged 5 catches, 83 yards, and scored 3 times in his last 5 games with Henne at the helm. I also tend to think Henne is a tiny bit better than Gabbert as well. Even if the KC defense was 12th against the pass in terms of yards last year, I think Shorts could be a solid play this week, especially if they get the run game going with Jones-Drew and draw some guys into the box to open up the rest of the field. This team will hurt likely until Justin Blackmon comes back from suspension because none of the skill position players are very big.
I don’t think you should start Henne/Gabbert or Marcedes Lewis this week unless you play in a really deep league and sort of have to, because there are far better options than these guys.
Oakland at Indianapolis
In my NFC South preview I said I think the Jets could be the worst team in the league, but they could contend with the Raiders (and sorry to my buddy Dan who has always been a Raiders fan, one of the most dedicated fans I’ve ever met). I like Andrew Luck a lot this week. Even if people are saying Pep Hamilton’s offense is going to be a more West Coast like offense, Luck should have an awesome game against this awful defense. They gave up the 8th most passing TDs last year, so expect Luck to have a big game for yards and at least a couple TDs.
Who is going to catch these passes you say? Reggie Wayne and I’m hoping TY Hilton. Wayne for sure should have a solid game and hopefully grab one of those TDs. Start him with confidence, considering their best defensive back is a rookie corner. TY Hilton if he can get on the field should have a good game as well, but its tough to say if it will be him or Darius Heyward-Bey. DHB is listed as the starter opposite of Wayne, but the consensus is that Hilton will be the better guy. Heyward-Bey was never really that impressive in Oakland, and Hilton as a rookie was pretty solid.
There has been talk of the Colts running a lot of 2 TE sets, so it will be tough to see who is going to be the better of Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, although Allen is listed as the #1 TE on the depth chart. With a couple other big pass catchers and a chance for the Colts to be up big early, these guys may disappoint, so I would look for a better option and start that option.
The backfield is even more of a mess, as Bradshaw has been the popular pick to be the guy in Indy, although he is listed as the 3rd RB on the depth chart. Oakland was in the bottom half of the league in terms of stopping the run, and gave up the 3rd most rushing TDs last year. I think Ballard and Bradshaw could be getting carries and will be effective (don’t worry about Donald Brown) but it will be tough to figure out who is going to get the touches. If I had to guess I would think Bradshaw might be on the field for passing downs so he may get a boost if he can catch a couple of passes and maybe get a goal line TD. Either of them I would hope you aren’t relying on, as they probably won’t perform better than a flex spot. But hey, if the Colts get up early, they could run, run, run and then one guy could come out and win the job which can show you who to lean on for next week. This week, I’m looking for a better option.
Houston at San Diego
This is such a good matchup for the Houston defense, it may pay some dividends if you decided to pick them at their price. San Diego’s offense is pretty bad and JJ Watt can dominate just about any offensive linemen. Expect a lot of sacks coming from this defense and not a lot of points given up.
If you have Foster, you’re starting him – plain and simple. Unless you play in a 4 team league and have 3 better guys to play, just play him. San Diego was pretty solid against the run last year giving up the 6th least amount of rush yards and were in the bottom third of the league in giving up rush TDs. I still think Houston’s offensive line is very good and Foster should be fine. There has been talk of limiting him a bit, but Houston’s offense should be able to move the ball effectively and he generally gets the goal line carries. Ben Tate could be a sneaky play if you’re really desperate or in a deeper league, considering they are maybe going to limit Foster a bit.
Andre should eat in this game – San Diego was mediocre last year against the pass (18th most yards given up) but he’s a big physical receiver who is the main target in the passing offense. That being said, he should draw most of the attention from the Chargers defensive backs, potentially opening up the field for Owen Daniels and DeAndre Hopkins. I like Owen Daniels this week as a startable TE mainly because Andre and Hopkins are going to command a lot of attention and Daniels can occupy the middle of the field and catch some shorter passes. DeAndre I think you wait and see on him unless you absolutely have to play him because as a rookie we just don’t know what he can do in a real game. He may be able to get open because of the attention on Johnson though, so if you feel lucky you could start him.
Matt Shaub could be a solid streaming option this week to start if you don’t have a great QB match up or just don’t have a great starting QB, or play in a 2QB league. The Chargers lost Quentin Jammer from their secondary which could help opposing QBs this year. I expect the Texans to run quite a bit in this game and their defense to dominate, so Shaub may not put up Brees/Brady/Rodgers – esque numbers but if you’re in a situation like I mentioned above, he should do enough to at least be serviceable. This game could get out of hand and fast though, so start at your own risk.