- Scott Engel, ESPN Fantasy Games
Every week in the Engel Eye, I'll take a look at some key performances from Sunday. We'll determine which players are ones to keep watching, and I'll pinpoint emerging trends.
Bengals are a bad choice: After watching the Browns get embarrassed by Pittsburgh and the Cincinnati defense play respectably against Baltimore in the opener, many fantasy owners, including myself, started the Cincinnati defense/special teams in our second fantasy games of the season. We all learned valuable lessons too. Cleveland's offense is not as bad as it looked in the opener, while Cincinnati's defense is not as respectable as it looked against the Ravens. Moreover, this game showed fantasy owners that every matchup can be unique. Pittsburgh destroyed the Browns, 34-7, but that doesn't mean Cleveland will look bad against every opponent. Cincinnati doesn't have a front seven like Pittsburgh's. The Bengals were dominated by Cleveland's offensive line, and Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson picked on rookie cornerback Leon Hall, exploited blown coverages, and made very accurate throws to receivers who were often open downfield or in position to beat single coverages. Anderson tied a Browns record with five touchdown passes. He received great protection and made crisp, accurate throws to his top targets. Anderson will keep the starting job for now, but he needs more than one outstanding performance to convince any of us it wasn't a fluke. Jamal Lewis ran for 215 yards, including a 66-yard scoring run. Lewis proved he isn't quite finished yet, and Cleveland's offensive line has improved, but he could easily return to mediocrity next week. Braylon Edwards and Joe Jurevicius caught two touchdown passes each, but Jurevicius has been mostly a bust since coming to Cleveland and would be better off on another team as a third receiver. Kellen Winslow caught six passes for 100 yards and a score, and he is quickly solidifying himself as the best tight end in fantasy football not named Gates. The Browns certainly aren't as good as they looked Sunday. They aren't pathetic, as assumed, either. Use most of their key starters judiciously based on matchups.
Saints are sad again: For the second consecutive week, the Saints' offense performed well below expectations. Much of the blame can be laid on the defense, which can't seem to stop anyone. The Buccaneers, who are better than advertised on both sides of the ball this year, put the Saints down by three scores at halftime and took New Orleans out of its comfort zone on offense very quickly. The Saints were able to run the ball respectably early on, as Deuce McAllister finished with 49 yards on 10 carries. They had to abandon the running game, however, when they couldn't contain Joey Galloway (135 receiving yards, two scores), and New Orleans doesn't have the receiving crew to help it play catch-up very well. Marques Colston, who caught a late touchdown pass in garbage time, isn't getting enough help. Journeyman David Patten was the team's top wideout other than Colston, with two catches for 66 yards. Tampa Bay's physical defense totally pushed the Saints all over the field and took them out of their rhythm. Reggie Bush rushed for only 27 yards and continued to dance and hesitate too much, like he did early in his rookie year. Drew Brees threw only one touchdown pass. The Saints will have to re-establish the ground game consistently behind McAllister to control the clock, regain offensive balance and keep the defense off the field as much a possible. New Orleans should begin to retool and improve next week against the Titans.
Scott Engel recaps the top fantasy stories from Sunday, including a great day for Green Bay and a bad day for Cincy.