This week we have a rivalry game between two east coast teams located within 40 miles of each other. We’re presented with many viable fantasy players in this intense matchup between the Ravens and the Redskins. Who will be able to post a startable fantasy week? We all know the studs, but will anyone rise from relative anonymity to be a star? Or, will it be a “boring” fantasy game, with everyone performing the way they normally do?
Heading into the 2016 season, the Ravens running back situation was murky and terrifying to invest in. Recently, with Justin Forsett getting cut, the situation has been pared down to two main fantasy viable players: Terrence West (the training camp darling), and rookie Kenneth Dixon. Dixon missed the first 4 games of the season with an MCL injury, and while he was out, Terrence West was doing work. The 25-year-old runner has 54 rushes for 232 yards, 4.3 YPC, and 1 TD. Before cutting Forsett, the Ravens made him a healthy scratch. That paved the road for Terrence West to start his first career game since 2014. And West responded in a huge fashion, posting a rushing line of 21/113/1, while the Ravens lost a close game against the Raiders.
West runs straight into a soft Redskins defense that has already allowed opposing teams to rush 109 times at a 4.9 YPC clip, for 532 yards. But wait! An exciting young rookie named Kenneth Dixon is here! He’s the savior who will lead all rookie RBs in production right? At least that’s what fantasy football twitter would have you believe. In reality however, Dixon is a fourth round rookie who missed the first four weeks of his rookie season. We all want the new shiny toy to be successful, but we need to temper our expectations for Dixon in his first few weeks. He is not likely to be more than a top 30 PPR guy that sees 8-12 touches per week for now.
What WR do I start though? I mean, won’t Josh Norman shut them all down at once like the elite player he his? Haha, as if the motley combination of old man Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, and Kamar Aiken (RIP) would require Josh Norman to “shadow” one of them. Then again, Bashaud Breeland is “uncertain” for the game, leaving Quinton Dunbar (Who?) to play opposite of Norman.
Smith has been a revelation this season, returning from a raw, shredded chicken Achilles tear to catch 24 passes for 281 yards and 1 TD. It looked as if Smith had returned to his old form against the Raiders, running away from opposing DBs and cutting sharply.
Whether he’s burning DBs downfield or burning Joe Flacco by dropping deep bombs, Mike Wallace is a burner. He’s averaging 15 yards per catch and has 3 TDs on 14 catches.
This Dunbar kid the Redskins may have to start, ran a 4.4 40 at a regional combine in 2015, so he should be able to hang with Wallace on deep routes. Norman ran a 4.66 at the real combine, so he’ll likely have to have safety help against Wallace.
Dennis Pitta has also had a Steve Smith like return. He’s come back from multiple hip surgeries over multiple years to become a fantasy relevant TE again. Pitta blew up in Week 2, going for 9/102 in one week. Over the other 3 weeks of the season, Pitta has 12 catches for 98 yards. The Redskins have given up 4.83 FPs (Fantasy Points) per game to TEs this season. However, that group only includes such luminaries as Jesse James, Jason Witten, Will Tye, and Gary Barnidge. Pitta makes for a decent streamer this week, but I’d prefer to look for someone like the aforementioned Jesse James (@ NYJ) and Jason Witten (CIN).
Joe Flacco is going to be boring this week again. He’ll probably finish around QB 14-18, but isn’t the best guy to stream this week. Look elsewhere, for options like Brian Hoyer (@ IND) or Carson Wentz (@ DET). I expect that Terrence West and Kenneth Dixon will do most of the work for the Ravens.
Players to start for the Lions:
- Terrence West (RB2)
- Steve Smith (Flex play)
- Mike Wallace (Bye week Flex filler)
Players to sit for the Lions:
- Joe Flacco
- Dennis Pitta
- Kenneth Dixon
- Breshad Perriman
- Kamar Aiken
- Can Steve Smith repeat a solid week of performance?
- Can Terrence West take advantage of an amazing matchup of will Kenneth Dixon steal his thunder?
The Ravens have been one of the stingier defenses in the 2016 season, only allowing 337.4 yards per game. The only exception was this past week, when they got absolutely burned by Derek Carr. Shareece Wright gave up three TDs to Michael Crabtree last week! That’s not one TDs on the season, but three allowed in just one week! And now this week it’s Desean Jackson’s turn to smoke him on the left side of the football field. Jackson is a virtual lock to finish as a WR1 this week, likely catching AT LEAST 1 long TD.
Then what about Jamison Crowder and Pierre Garcon? Will they do the same thing? Not likely, because every time Jackson faces Shareece Wright that means Pierre Garcon will be faced up against Jimmy Smith, a fine starting corner. Crowder plays nearly all of his snaps from the slot, and is a short field and underneath option for Kirk Cousins.
Jordan Reed is an amazing TE. Kirk Cousins has reconnected with the elite TE, finding him for 9 catches on 10 targets for 73 yards and 2 more TDs. That’s given Reed a stat line of 25/263/2 for the season (TE2 overall through four weeks). But what about the Ravens only giving up 15 catches for 153 against TEs? Look at who the Ravens have played though. They’ve only had to shut down players like Coby Fleener, Charles Clay, Gary Barnidge, and Julius Thomas. None of these players are comparable talents to Reed. Plus none of them have the type of rapport with their QB that Reed has with Cousins.
Matt Jones has been a polarizing player through four games, after missing the majority of the preseason. However, Jones has been a very solid RB2 contributor from week 2 on. Currently the RB20, Jones has had 42.7 fantasy points since posting just 3.8 points in Week 1. The Ravens have been shutting down the running game lately, holding Mark Ingram, LeSean McCoy, Isaiah Crowell, and the Jaguars backfield to a 3.97 YPC on 74 carries, 294 yards. Jones has been a decent pass catcher so far, catching 6 for 48, but he isn’t even the top pass catching RB for the Redskins. Chris Thompson has gone for 82 yards on 8 catches and a TD. Neither of them is worth a start this week. The Ravens have only allowed 19 catches for 113 yards to RBs.
Kirk Cousins is another guy like Jones, who has been heavily scrutinized his whole career. After being franchise tagged, Cousins has been fine in real life. However, many of his yards came from garbage time in blowouts against the Steelers and a loss to the Cowboys. After struggling against tougher defenses, Cousins faces the Ravens. They have only allowed 764 yards and 8 TDs through the air, plus 5 INTs. Despite holding opposing teams to under 200 yards per game, the Ravens only have 9 sacks through their 4 games though. Cousins is a better start than Flacco with a lack of a successful running game, but again shouldn’t be started in most 12 team leagues.
Players to start for the Redskins:
- Jordan Reed
- Desean Jackson
Players to sit for the Redskins:
- Kirk Cousins
- Matt Jones
- Pierre Garcon
- Jamison Crowder
- How will Kirk Cousins fare against the strong Ravens defense?
- Can Matt Jones keep his strong running streak going or will the Ravens stop him?