By: timbersfan , 12:23 AM GMT on September 27, 2012
Three weeks still isn't a significant sample size from which to derive true meaning about how bad a certain pass defense might be, but I've watched enough of the Washington Redskins to believe this isn't solely a trend. Drew Brees in Week 1 was one thing, but Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton have combined for 638 passing yards since. As luck would have it -- and not Andrew Luck, who is on bye this week -- the Redskins will be playing another brutal pass defense this week in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Remember that Detroit Lions-Tennessee Titans game in Week 3, with 85 points, 1,000-plus yards, a Hail Mary that was legitimately completed and overtime? That should be Redskins-Buccaneers.
However, when polishing off my Week 4 rankings, it seemed like Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson was perhaps the lone beneficiary of that extra sweet "matchups" jolt. I've got him in my top 10, and surely my colleague/Redskins fan Matthew Berry is aware that his fave team doesn't defend so well, but who else is there to take advantage? There are just way too many thriving quarterbacks to bump average Josh Freeman into starter territory, though I came close at No. 12, and Robert Griffin III is already safely there. The Redskins don't have, shall we say, sure things among their wide receivers, which is a shame, and the Bucs' top tight end, Dallas Clark, is averaging two fantasy points per game. Running backs Doug Martin and Alfred Morris are already top-20 choices.
So while the Lions-Titans game featured the best wide receiver in the biz (Calvin Johnson), a potential top-10 talent when healthy/trouble-free (Kenny Britt) and other interesting productive and/or upside names (Nate Washington, Nate Burleson, Titus Young, Kendall Wright), what else can Buccaneers-Redskins provide for fantasy goodness? I'd recommend a healthy Pierre Garcon, but he might not even play. It's tough to like Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson or Santana Moss -- yes, he's still playing -- as flex choices. The Bucs' Mike Williams has two touchdown catches but just seven receptions overall. He's my No. 32 wide receiver of the week, but he probably wouldn't be ranked at all in a tough matchup. Man, these are the two pass defenses that have allowed more than 1,000 yards so far, but who can step up?
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
The Bucs' Vincent Jackson could be in for a big game with a shootout looming.
Fantasy owners shouldn't try to fit the proverbial square pegs into round holes. Yes, it's certainly possible the Bucs' Arrelious Benn or any number of Redskins break out with a Kevin Ogletree Week 1-type performance, but there's proper fantasy depth when it comes to quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends. It's a passing league. We cannot say the same for running back, which is why it was far easier in Week 3, for example, to tout Mikel Leshoure and Andre Brown. They saw opportunity and ran with it. In deep formats, which can't always be reflected in our standard league rankings, I see Benn and Hankerson being Week 4 lottery picks, but basically, it's all about Vincent Jackson for this game. Enjoy him.
Quarterback: You'll see the staff doesn't appear concerned about Aaron Rodgers. He ended up first. I know the reasons to like Michael Vick as a top-10 guy, but between the turnovers and risk -- more than every other passer, really -- that an Osi Umenyiora squashes him to the sidelines in the first quarter, I can't go there. Vick is 13th for me. I ranked Matthew Stafford as a standard-league starter, but if he cannot play, Shaun Hill would land at No. 17 for me. Nobody seems too concerned about Alex Smith against the New York Jets now that Darrelle Revis is gone. And I really wanted to move Christian Ponder up more. He's playing well. But there are safer, veteran options. As I noted in a video defending Rodgers, the best QB in fantasy is currently tied for 20th with Mark Sanchez in standard points. But Sanchez is actually on pace for exactly what he produced last year, when he was the No. 10 QB. So 10th last year is good for only 20th so far this year? It's early, but potentially significant. There is plenty of good quarterback play available.
Running back: Last week, Steven Jackson of the Rams was an iffy real-life start. He started, and a few minutes later stood on the sidelines with an ice pack on a knee. Then he played again. This is what scares me about Reggie Bush. I was the only one who didn't rank him in the top 20. What if he starts and leaves early? Jackson doesn't make anyone's top 20, either. My top 10 running backs mirror the staff top 10, but I did rank Trent Richardson, Stevan Ridley, Michael Turner, Morris and Leshoure a bit better than the average. Why can't Richardson run on the fearsome Ravens? He can. There's little variation in the staff running back ranks because so few options are reliable. I would trust neither Andre Brown nor Ahmad Bradshaw this week, for example, and the staff has them 24th and 25th, flex territory. Cedric Benson earned a more favorable rank, due to the matchup with the New Orleans Saints. Benson has no competition. By the way, when evaluating Washington's Morris after Week 1 I wrote that Mike Shanahan is so unpredictable that he could sign a free agent like Ryan Grant off the street and start him in Week 2. Well, Grant is actually a Redskin now. So when does he start, Week 5 or 6?
Wide receiver: The Pack is back! Greg Jennings looked healthy in the Monday-nighter, and it's time to trade for your favorite Green Bay wide receivers. What about the Saints, though? Marques Colston has been quiet, with 13 fantasy points so far. Lance Moore has more catches, yards, touchdowns and targets. Colston remains ranked better, but the Packers have permitted only 376 passing yards so far. Drew Brees might not reach 300 this week. In addition to Tampa Bay's Jackson and Williams, others I liked more than the average were Malcom Floyd, Danny Amendola, Kenny Britt (assuming he plays), Brandon LaFell and Brian Hartline. I was not as high on DeSean Jackson, Anquan Boldin, Santonio Holmes and Denarius Moore.