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RAGING ALPACA's Matchup Highlights

Raging Alpaca

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Welcome to RAGING ALPACA's weekly breakdown of matchups to exploit and avoid. Each week, I'll highlight three particularly appealing matchups at QB, RB, and WR, while also providing you with three you should avoid. Here are the ground rules:


1. No player who is on my TOP 5 at QB, or TOP 10 RB or WR will be listed as an EXPLOIT or an AVOID. Put simply, I don't see much benefit in telling you to start Peyton Manning or LaDainian Tomlinson, as you'll probably start them every week regardless of who they are playing. From week to week, however, I will change the TOP 5/10 depending on player performance.


2. I will track my accuracy (or lack thereof) for RB as follows: an EXPLOIT pick will be considered a SUCCESS if the player finishes in the top 16 at his position for the week in question. An AVOID pick will be considered a SUCCESS if the player finishes outside of the top 16 for that week. The scoring system for making these determinations is as follows: 1 point per 10 yards rush/rec; 1 per 20 passing; 4 points per passing TD; 6 points. per rush/rec. TD; -1 for all fumbles and interceptions; and 3 point bonuses for breaking 100 yds rushing, 100 yds. receiving, or 300 yards passing.


Now, without further ado, I give you my picks for Week 1:


TOP 10 -- Not to be considered in Exploit/Avoid


1. LT2

2. Steven Jackson

3. Larry Johnson

4. Frank Gore

5. Shaun Alexander

6. Joseph Addai

7. Brian Westbrook

8. Willie Parker

9. Rudi Johnson

10. Travis Henry


Matchups to EXPLOIT

Reggie Bush vs. Indianapolis Defense -- Reggie just barely missed the top 10 this week, so this is close to cheating. That said, I expect BIG things from No. 25 this week against the Colts. The Colts were 31st in Run DVOA last year, which bodes well for Bush, but I think his most important contributions will come through the air. I predict a heavy dose of Deuce up the middle in an effort to wear down a suspect Colt run D, and this will only serve to create more opportunities for Bush to work in open space where he is so dangerous. Expect 110+ total yards and a score for Mr. Bush in Week One.


LaMont Jordan v. Detroit Defense -- I'll make up for my somewhat easy selection of Bush by digging a little deeper in order to select Jordan as an EXPLOIT this week. I'm not going to tell you that LaMont played well last year, because he didn't, but the 2006 Raiders offense was so awful that Walter Payton would have looked like Ron Dayne trying to operate in it. Fortunately, the Oakland coaching staff has been purged of all bed and breakfast managers, which bodes well for a Jordan comeback season. Believe it or not, Jordan caught 70 balls a couple of years ago, and this dual-threat ability gives him a great opportunity to produce solid fantasy numbers this week. Detroit was a woeful 27th in Run DVOA last year, so LaMont ought to be able to find some open running lanes to operate in. If you read my QB preview, you know that I think the Oakland D can keep this game close, which should also ensure that Jordan gets a solid number of carries. Plug Jordan into your lineup with confidence this week, and weather the inevitable storm of league message board mockery you'll take for doing so -- the last laugh will be yours.


Cadillac Williams v. Seattle Defense -- if LaMont Jordan was the most bust-errific player of 2006, the ol' Caddy wasn't far behind. Injuries on the o-line, horrific QB play, and nagging back injuries all lead to an extremely sub-par season for Williams. Well, it's a new season, and Cadillac 1) appears healthy; 2) has a better QB at the helm; 3) no longer has to worry about Mike Alstott stealing goal line looks; and 4) has a healthier O-line in front of him. This week, Caddy gets Seattle, last year's 23rd best run defense according to DVOA. The Seahawks' Run D has already taken a big blow when it lost run stuffing tackle Marcus Tubbs to a blown out ACL. I know it sounds nuts, but LaMont and Caddy are going to party like its (early) 2005 with big games this week.




Thomas Jones v. New England Defense: This is one you just can't like. First off, TJ is coming off of a couple of injuries (an Achilles strain, and then later, a calf strain) that have hobbled him all preseason. Next, Leon Washington has looked explosive in his stead, and as a result, Mangenius doesn't have much motivation to give Jones a terribly heavy workload in his first week back. Finally, they'll be facing last year's 10th best run D according to DVOA, which has only improved since a season ago. If at all possible, put Jones on your bench, and avoid this week's 12-15 carries for 40-50 yards.


Tatum Bell v. Oakland Defense: I can't say too many bad things about Tater. He helped me out last year in a couple of spot starts when he (briefly) laid claim to lead back status with Denver. Injuries and Shanahanigans ultimately lead to mediocre production down the stretch, but Bell is a decent enough back with home run potential when he's on top of his game. In fact, when Kevin Jones was looking like he was destined for the PUP, I thought Bell would wind up being a nice value in this year's drafts. Since then, however, we've learned a couple of things: 1) KJ has stayed active, and will eventually take significant playing time away from Bell; and 2) the Lions have liked what they've seen out of TJ Duckett, who now threatens to steal carries, and, more importantly, goal line looks from Tatum even while Jones is out. To make matters worse, Bell is up against a solid Oakland run defense this week. I'd look to other options if I had them.


Marshawn Lynch vs. Denver Defense: I really believe that Marshawn is in for a long, long rookie season. While a bunch of money was spent on the offensive line (an astounding $49 million to Derrick Dockery, for starters), I'm still not convinced that the group will be much better than in years past. At least they don't still have Big Mike Williams hanging around, I suppose. Anyhow, the man who beat out LaDainian Tomlinson for Rookie of the Year, Anthony Thomas (If I had a time machine, I'd go back and slap everyone who voted on THAT one), is in the mix to steal a few touches, and this week, Denver's solid run D is coming to town. I think the Broncos win this one handily, as Travis Henry exacts revenge on his former squad and attempts to avoid fathering any more children in between drives. That doesn't bode well for Lynch's fantasy production, which probably won't exceed 60-70 total yards.


Thanks a lot for reading. Please use this thread to discuss your thoughts on RB matchups this week.

Edited by Raging Alpaca
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See, by "110 total yards and a TD," I really meant "45 total yards and a couple of dropped passes" with respect to Reggie. A less than glorious start, but the ALPACA shall press on!!


Unfortunately, work has prevented me from doing the WR preview I'd hoped to do. Maybe next week...

Edited by Raging Alpaca
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See, by "110 total yards and a TD," I really meant "45 total yards and a couple of dropped passes" with respect to Reggie. A less than glorious start, but the ALPACA shall press on!!


Unfortunately, work has prevented me from doing the WR preview I'd hoped to do. Maybe next week...


Weird. For me, work is more of a catalyst for that sort of thing...

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