Our great writer Matt Lane is on “holiday” for the next two weeks, or as we call it in the U.S., vacation. So I told him I would graciously fill in for him with his NFC and AFC West previews while he is out galavanting across the UK (not Kentucky) countryside! I hope I can fill his shoes for a little bit and that you all enjoy my take on these divisions.
Arizona- In terms of fantasy relevance, the Cardinals are back on the upswing. This weeks matchup with the Detroit Lions could very well be a shootout. That bodes well for owners of Carson Palmer and his receiving corps of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and Andre Roberts. These three WRs all went over 80 yards last week and I expect that to continue. Rob Housler has not practiced yet this week so we should be waiting at least another week for my preseason sleeper pick to make his debut in Bruce Arians high powered offense. Until the offensive line starts to show some improvement, Rashard Mendenhall or any other Arizona RB is not to be played in any position other than Flex. Jim Dray is not an option at TE while Housler is out.
San Francisco- Colin Kaepernick sure made me look smart in Week-1. My #5 QB in preseason rankings lit up the Packers defense after being disrespected by Clay Matthews with a career high 412 yards passing and 3 TDs. He has a tougher matchup this week as the Seahawks defense held Carolina to a single TD. Anquan Boldin showed he still has some gas left in the tank and instantly became Kaep’s crutch by catching over 200 of his 400+ passing yards. Vernon Davis showed a little chemistry with Kaepernick also (finally!), with 2 TD catches and nearly 100 yards. I don’t expect these guys to repeat these numbers through the air against the tough Seattle secondary but they are all startable, with Kaep and Davis obvious #1s and Boldin a solid #2. In this game I expect the 49ers to lean a little more on Frank Gore and I feel this will be his bounce back game. Feel free to pencil him in as your RB2 this week.
Seattle- The Seahawks got some fight out of a more than capable Carolina Panthers team last week. Russell Wilson did throw for 320 and a TD, but the TD came from unheralded WR Jermaine Kearse. Carolina also focused on shutting down the run game, holding Marshawn Lynch to only 52 yards. In this weeks game I still think Wilson will get his yards and a TD or two, but who catches them is a crapshoot. I would stay away from the Seahawks receivers unless you have to. Lynch, on the other hand, is always startable and you just need to take your chances on him having a bad game. It’s too early to play match-ups and he is a stud, start him.
St. Louis- Maybe that whole “haven’t had the same OC for two straight years” thing was true? Whatever the case, Sam Bradford lit up the Cardinals last week in his attempt to show he wasn’t a draft bust. I don’t expect him to be that good this week but he does have a favorable fantasy match-up against the Atlanta Falcons that has shootout potential. Daryl Richardson did an admirable, if less than spectacular, job against Arizona last week. He looked unstoppable on more than a few carries, only to look like someone in his first full time starting stint on some other carries. Again, like Bradford, this is a good match-up in which he could star. At the receiving corps, like Seattle, this is a toss-up. They have so many young, talented WRs, we don’t know who will step up from week to week. What we can count on is for Chris Givens to catch at least one bomb a game. Whether that leads to a TD or not is the “gambling” part of fantasy football, which makes it fun. Also, what we can also agree on, is that Jared Cook may emerge as an absolute stud this year. Sam Bradford found him early and often and Arizona had no answer. If the defense playing the Rams doesn’t have a LB who can cover, we can expect multiple games like that from Cook. As of right now he is a must start in every format.