Joyner: Week 2 passing matchups to exploit
Week 1 always features a number of performances that don't end up being indicative of the type of season we can expect from many players. With that as today's theme, here are my Week 2 picks:
Lee Evans, WR, Bills: Evans had a terrible Week 1 in large part because the Broncos have one of the most talented secondaries in the NFL. Pittsburgh has a talented defense as well, but the Steelers' cornerbacks don't measure up to Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly. Evans is due to face Ike Taylor, and I have Taylor rated as a D-level cornerback in coverage. Evans is liable to beat Taylor for at least one bomb Sunday, so forget his zero-point output in Week 1 and put him in your starting lineup.
Darrell Jackson, WR, 49ers: St. Louis has the worst secondary in the NFC West, so that alone speaks loudly for Jackson's potential this week. More specifically, Jackson is set up to face Ron Bartell, a C-level cornerback. The Rams don't have anyone else to move around to cover Jackson, and their safeties are also suspect in coverage. Expect Jackson to bounce back from a subpar Week 1.
Kevin Curtis, WR, Eagles: Curtis' specialty is the deep pass. He averaged 17.2 yards per attempt on deep/bomb passes in 2006 and had similar numbers in previous seasons. Curtis is set up to face Carlos Rogers, who tends to play soft when he faces vertically inclined receivers. Rogers allowed 10.1 YPA when playing soft (7-9+ yards off at the snap) last year against long passes, which suggests Curtis could get past Rogers no matter how deep he plays at the snap. That also says Curtis should be in your starting lineup.
Amani Toomer, WR, Giants: You might be tempted to start Toomer after his nine-catch, 91-yard performance last week, but I'm here to tell you not to. The reason why is pretty simple, and it isn't just that Eli Manning might be out. Instead, it's because Toomer is set to match up against Charles Woodson, whose coverage metrics placed him in the top five in the league among cornerbacks last season. Add together Manning's potential absence and the matchup and it equals a bench spot for Toomer this week.
Ronald Curry, WR, Raiders: I've been on the Ronald Curry bandwagon for years, and his 10-reception, 133-yard showing against the Lions on Sunday suggests he's in for a big year. Week 2 has a good chance of being one of Curry's off weeks, however, because of his matchup against Champ Bailey. Not the matchup you want your fantasy receiver to have. If you have a lower-risk receiver in your lineup, play him instead of Curry.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens: Mason is not thought of as an every-week starter anymore, but he still is owned by 83.4 percent of ESPN fantasy teams, so at least he's an option to a good number of owners. Mason is due to face rookie Darrelle Revis this week. That doesn't sound too daunting, but as I detailed in my Insider column this week, Revis was the only Jets cornerback to hold Randy Moss somewhat in check in Week 1. If Revis can do that to Moss, odds are he could shut down Mason.
Arnaz Battle, WR, 49ers: Battle is one of the highest-percentage possession receivers in the league. Tye Hill, Battle's adversary this week, is so bad in coverage that I rank him as a D+. Since the 49ers-Rams tilt is likely to be a shootout, Battle should see a lot of passes and could be worth picking up for a one-week upside start.
KC Joyner, aka The Football Scientist, is a regular contributor to ESPN Insider. His core passing metrics can be found in the ESPN Fantasy Football Magazine, which hits newsstands on June 19. A free sample of his latest release ("Scientific Football 2007") is available at his Web site.
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