Welcome to Red Red Ryan’s weekly “Trick or Treat” section, where I, Red Red Ryan, break down some of the performances from the previous week and tell you whether or not you are being tricked or if you can expect the same treat the rest of the way.
Joe Flacco: 24 year-old Joe Flacco had the best game in his young career last Sunday. He set career highs in attempts (43), yards (307), and touchdowns (3). The most important stat that leads me to believe you can expect top 15 fantasy QB numbers this year are those attempts. Joe attempted an average of 26 passes a game last year. Baltimore has said they are opening up the playbook and the entire field to Flacco, and that already shows in Week 1. This means more passes to the middle of the field to Todd Heap, opening up more big plays to the sideline. Heap already matched his high catch game from 2008, and had more receiving yards in Sunday’s game than any time last year. Baltimore has been more of a traditional running team in the past, but I think those days will stay there. Expect great numbers from the young QB the rest of the year.
Julius Jones: First I will start off by saying it is always a treat to lineup against the Rams if you are an RB. The rams were 4th worst in the NFL last year in rush defense giving up 154 yards a game. Last year in week 3 at home at Quest Field Julius Jones ran for 140 yards and a TD, very close to his Week 1 total (117 and a TD). The 140 yard performance was Jones’s best game of the year in 2008 and I hate to say it, but his latest game against the softest defense in football might be his best of the 2009 season as well, at least until he plays against the Rams again in Week 12. I do expect Jones to have a better season this year than last. A new run scheme should help Jones and the Hawks offensive line stretch the field. But I believe he is still at best a #3 RB. Keep playing him in good match-ups, just like you should with most of your non-elite players.
Tim Hightower: This was more of a difficult call for me. It is much tougher making a prediction for me on a young player, especially a young player with new offensive coordinators. Tim didn’t have a great day rushing the football, only 8 rushing attempts for 15 yards. However, he caught 12 balls for 121 yards. Before Sunday’s game against the 49ers Tim’s career high in receptions in a game were 6 and his previous high for receiving yards: 34. The Cardinals trailed for majority of the game and the 49ers played great defense forcing Kurt Warner to check the ball down to Hightower. I don’t see too many defenses shutting down Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and I don’t see the Cardinals playing too much catch up this season. This means you have to rely on Tim running the football. Something he hasn’t been able to do on a consistent basis yet in his career averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, and oh yeah, they drafted a beast of a running back named Bennie Wells who averaged 4.1 yards per carry in his first NFL game. I don’t see Tim getting majority of the hand offs for too long. I see his role turning more into a Chestor Taylor type role, catching passes out of the backfield on third down and getting every 5th series to rest the teams real horse.
Carson Palmer: This may surprise you. Carson Palmer is better than 247 yards 0 TD’s and 2 INT’s. It’s tough to only be able to throw the ball to one side of the field. That’s what happens when you play against Champ Bailey. Not only was Carson playing against one of the toughest cover corners in the game he was playing without his favorite target now playing in Seattle. Expect Carson to target big bodied Chris Henry more this week, to take over for TJ as a possession receiver. One big thing I take from Week 1’s game against the Broncos that shows me Carson is just a couple of games away from returning to his fantasy stud form are is his completion percentage. Carson’s 63.6 CMP% match his career mark of 63.7 CMP%. This tells me that Carson is just as efficient now against a difficult pass defense as has been throughout his career. Now what I see is that he is going to have to throw the ball a lot for Cincy to have a shot at winning games, those two things together make last week’s poor fantasy output a trick, he’ll be just fine.
Santonio Holmes: Santonio is quickly becoming Big Ben’s favorite target. He may not need to be Ben’s #1 WR this year to still score lots of fantasy points, and make those that have believed in Holmes since coming out of “The Ohio State University” 4 years ago, look like a genius. I, being one of the aforementioned. The fact is Pittsburgh is having a difficult time rushing the football and have now lost one of the best defensive football players in the NFL.
More points given up + A bad rush offense = More passing plays
I hope you all could follow my math. This means good things for the sticky fingered Holmes. He has already proven he can be a big play guy, leading the NFL in yards per reception already once in his career. But in the last two games the Steelers have played, Holmes has been the most targeted receiver in both cases. Expect a career year and a top 12 WR at seasons end.