Maybe you like being surprised by a player’s performance each week. If you don’t, heed these roster moves for Week 3.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jackson caught three of his seven targets for 39 yards in Tampa Bay’s Week 2 win over the Chicago Bears, but will face a Minnesota Vikings defense in Week 3 that has allowed 6.9 net yards per pass this season (25th in the NFL).
Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes has allowed the third-most yards per cover snap this season (2.42), Xavier Rhodes has allowed the 12th most (1.62) and slot corner Terrance Newman the 16th most (1.51 overall, 1.92 in the slot).
With Mike Evans on the field, look for Jackson to get open looks downfield against soft competition, similar to what led Martavis Bryant, the clear option behind No. 1 wideout Antonio Brown for the Pittsburgh Steelers, to three receptions for 91 yards and a score in Week 2.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
Benjamin has caught 7 of his team-high 13 targets from quarterback Cam Newton this season and should find the end zone for the first time in 2017 against the New Orleans secondary. And when he does, chances are it will be on a big play.
The Saints’ defense has allowed a passing play of 20 or more yards on almost two-thirds of their defensive drives this season (12 of 19), the highest in the league. Benjamin and Newton, meanwhile, have combined for 21 big plays for six touchdowns in 31 games since the 2014 season.
Green Bay Packers defense
The Packers will face a Cincinnati Bengals offensive line that has yielded the fifth-most total sacks, hits and hurries this season, per the game charters at Pro Football Focus (31). Not only is Dalton completing 41 percent of his passes under pressure, but, going back to last season, getting at least one sack reduces the amount of points scored from 2.09 to 0.91 per drive in the league overall.
Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
On paper, this week looks like a good matchup for Miller. The New England Patriots are allowing over six yards per carry (league average is 3.9 in 2017) and they have stopped rushers at or behind the line of scrimmage just four times. But the oddsmakers in Vegas are favoring the Patriots at home by 13 points, and that’s bad news for Miller.
Since Bill O’Brien became head coach of the Texans in 2014, they have run the ball a little more than a third of the time (39 percent) when trailing by no more than 14 points. When the Texans are down by 15 points or more they have rushed the ball just 27 percent of the time under O’Brien, limiting the opportunities Miller will have with the football if Houston’s defense can’t contain Tom Brady and Co.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos
Anderson has seen a resurgence this season, carrying the ball a league-high 45 times for 199 yards and a touchdown, adding four catches for 43 yards and a score on passing plays. He’s been so impressive Pro Football Focus has him as the No. 2 back in the league behind Kansas City Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt. But Sunday’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills should bring his production back down to earth.
The Bills’ defense has stopped 18 rushes at or behind the line of scrimmage this season — only the Seattle Seahawks (20) have more — with defensive tackle Kyle Williams (three) and defensive ends Shaq Lawson (five) and Jerry Hughes (three) each making multiple stops.
Bilal Powell, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey managed a mere 88 total rushing yards on 38 carries in the two games played this season and overall Buffalo has allowed 2.7 yards per carry, more than a yard lower than the league average (3.9).
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Fitzgerald remains the leading target for quarterback Carson Palmer (19 in two games) but the 34-year-old receiver hasn’t been able to do much with them. He has caught just nine of those targets for 95 yards and zero touchdowns, performance bad enough that Pro Football Focus ranks him 58th out of 76 receivers playing at least half of their team’s snaps this season. According to Sharp Football Stats, Fitzgerald has a below-average success rate on all deep passes (15 or more yards) and on throws to the right side of the field.
This week’s opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, has not only turned in a top-10 defensive performance in terms of net yards allowed per pass attempt (5.3), they have also seen defensive lineman DeMarcus Lawrence pressure the quarterback 13 times this season with a league-leading four sacks. That could be significant considering Palmer’s passer rating drops from 86.8 to 30.1 under pressure this season.
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