Nick Shook on fantasy football: Forget about Washington running game and look ahead to better days

By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
Read full column on Ohio.com

I loved the way the Washington Redskins were running the ball the first two weeks.

Then Thursday night happened.

The Redskins were an atrocity to professional football, epitomized by Matt Jones’ fumble as he soared toward the end zone, resulting in a touchback. It was depressing for someone who had bought a considerable amount of stock in the hype surrounding Jones.

And Alfred Morris scored one point for my team.

Let’s all take a moment to let our frustrations out before we look closer at our lineups before Sunday’s kickoff.

Feel better? Good. Time to salvage your week.

Start ‘em

Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, Miami Dolphins

Landry has been one of my favorite plays since the season began. A slot receiver. Landry has eight receptions in each of his first two games of 2015, totaling 163 yards. He was targeted 10 times in last week’s close loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a statistic that is pointing toward a trend in the Dolphins’ offense, which has targeted the receiver on 27 percent of his routes thus far, according to ESPN.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill faces the Buffalo Bills’ vaunted front four, a feared unit that somehow managed to allow Tom Brady complete 38-of-59 attempts for 466 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-32 New England Patriots victory last week. Maybe they aren’t so good at getting to the quarterback, after all.

Look for Tannehill to keep passing the ball Landry’s way. As it goes in fantasy football, the more the targets, the higher the likelihood a player will produce for your team. With Tannehill averaging 39 pass attempts per game, it’s clear the Dolphins believe in passing the ball first. These factors bode well for another reliable game from Landry.

Latavius Murray, running back, Oakland Raiders

The Raiders travel to Cleveland to face the Browns this week. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that the Browns are still among the league’s worst against the run, at least statistically.

The Browns have shown they can get to the quarterback plenty, sacking Marcus Mariota seven times in a 28-14 win. This makes Murray that much more important for the Raiders.

Murray has rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. That average will rise this week, and as it climbs, so will your box score.

Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina Panthers

Newton was listed as a player you should sit last week. But the quarterback known as SuperCam overcame any kind of harassment from the Houston Texans, passing for 195 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and rushing for 76 yards and a cartwheeling touchdown in a 24-17 win.

This week, Newton’s Panthers take on the floundering New Orleans Saints, who will be without quarterback Drew Brees. As if things weren’t difficult enough already for the Saints, playing a game with Verizon commercial star Luke McCown isn’t going to be pretty. Expect plenty of possessions for Newton, which will translate to plenty of opportunities to put up points for your fantasy squad.

Flip a coin

Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs not named Aaron Rodgers

This game is ripe for a Packers takeover. They are playing at home, and Rodgers is healthy and armed with a bevy of options in his receiving corps. But Jamaal Charles remains on the other side of the field, and although he struggled with fumbles (no surprise there) in last week’s shocking loss to the Denver Broncos, he’s still a player an opposing defense must respect.

Beyond Charles, you’ll need to consult silver George Washington on this one. Jeremy Maclin is the Chiefs’ top wid receiver, but that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to produce. Alex Smith and his patented four-yard completions will be throwing to Maclin against a unit that has allowed just over 200 yards per game passing. NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano even suggested relegating Smith to the waiver wire. I won’t go that far, but it’s better off if you leave him and Maclin on the bench.

Keep Travis Kelce as your TE1, though. His talent — and danger for an opposing defense — cannot be denied.

On the Packers’ side, Eddie Lacy is dealing with an ankle injury, and I’m having a hard time trusting James Starks in a fill-in role. James Jones, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams are decent options in the flex position, but I’d otherwise place my eggs in a different basket.

Sit ‘em

Philadelphia Eagles offensive players

The Eagles are nearing a crisis. Sam Bradford has been a disaster at quarterback, and that $1.1 million worth of guards on the offensive line aren’t helping the $22 million the Eagles spent on running backs in the offseason. DeMarco Murray was visibly frustrated in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week.

An offense devoid of a running game is in trouble. As the dominos fall, the Eagles’ passing attack — if you can call it that — will also suffer even more than it already has.

Add in the fact that Todd Bowles’ impact on the New York Jets defense has been rather noticeable, bottling up both the Browns and Colts in back-to-back games, and you’ve got an Eagles recipe for total disaster.

Run from Chip Kelly. Run, fast, before he can trade you away for a former Oregon Duck.

Alex Smith, quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs

Smith was underwhelming in a loss to the Broncos last week. It doesn’t get easier for he and the Chiefs this week.

Jamaal Charles takes some of the load off Smith, but the Chiefs will have to contend with an explosive Packers offense, meaning the quarterback will have to drop back to pass plenty this week. As we all know, Smith doesn’t like to throw it deep. But he’ll likely be forced to on Monday night (gulp).

Avoid further frustration and sit the former Utah standout in Week 3.

Lamar Miller, running back, Miami Dolphins

I mentioned above that the Dolphins are clearly committed to the pass-first approach. I also wrote during the middle of the week that you should drop Miller, because of the aforementioned information.

None of that has changed in the days since.

I wrote that Landry is a good play for this Sunday, but Miller is not. The Texans have been tough against the run thus far, limiting Charles to 57 yards on the ground. Newton churned up 76 yards rushing, but starting running back Jonathan Stewart gained just 3.6 yards per carry against the Texans.

Tannehill is not a rushing threat, meaning any yards on the ground will have to come from Miller, a back who’s amassed just 67 yards in two games. That doesn’t look good for Week 3.

I’ll be there

Tweet me at @TheNickShook, or email me at nshook@thebeaconjournal.comwith fantasy questions. I know you’re struggling to decide whether to play Doug Baldwin against the Bears. Do it; the Bears have allowed the most passing touchdowns in the NFL. But tweet me with your other lineup conflicts. In the words of Jerry Maguire, help me help you.

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