We’re with you every Sunday to provide the Sunday Six Pack, an article featuring six of the biggest storylines heading into each and every week of the season. Keeping tabs on these events will keep you prepared and informed throughout the season – just don’t drive within six hours of reading this.
Can #1) No Hurt Locker?
Jake Locker appears to be on schedule to take back his starting role from golden oldie Matt Hasselbeck this week against a Dolphins team that is giving up the third most passing yards per game in the NFL. Locker had broken out for 378 yards and two touchdowns in week three against the Lions before getting hurt early on the next week against Houston. I believe his return and the corresponding return of the deep passing threat will re-engerize the Titans offense that has its running game together in the past several weeks. I also think Kenny Britt has a lot of upside this week. Don’t let those Kendall Wright targeting stats fool you, Britt didn’t play week one, barely played in week two and had 11 targets in week three.
Can #2) Can the Giants Offense Get Back on Track?
Eli Manning is coming off two weeks in a row of under 200 yards passing, which, not coincidentally, game against the Cowboys (fifth in passing yards per game) and the Steelers (first in passing yards per game). Now the Giants travel to Cincinnati to visit the Bengals and their 19th ranked passing defense. Hakeem Nicks still has injury concerns, having missed practice on Wednesday with knee swelling; although he claims he is progressing. Martellus Bennett, although not on the week ten injury report, has had a knee issue as well Opposing defenses have concentrated on taking away Victor Cruz and the Giants running game has regressed since David Diehl returned to the starting lineup. It will be interesting to see if the Giants can get back on track or if they once again fall into an all too familiar second half swoon.
Can #3) Defense Meets Defense
D/ST scoring varies wildly across leagues; however, two of the top units in almost any format square off this week when the Houston Texans take on the Chicago Bears. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall have shown the chemistry they exhibited in Denver, but J.J. Watt and company just might march through the Bears offensive line like a hot knife through butter. Meanwhile, the Texans lead the NFL in giveaways, having turned the ball over just once in eight games so far. Meanwhile the Bears have taken the ball away a league-leading 28 times (17 INTs, 11 fumble recoveries) and have scored a staggering seven defensive touchdowns (two fewer than Sam Bradford and one more than Ryan Tannehill).
Can #4) Worst Nickname Ever
I’m sorry. I just can’t get behind “Muscle Hamster.” Granted I can’t think of anything better either. Despite already having his bye, Doug Martin is currently the number one ranked fantasy running back in terms of both total points and average fantasy points per game. He’s a true workhorse, three-down back in an era where those are in extremely short supply. At this point, you don’t bench him, but it will certainly be interesting to see how he fares against the Chargers and their fourth ranked rushing defense in terms of average yards per game. Although, keep in mind that the Raiders were 11th in that category going into last week and 22nd coming out.
Can #5) Ok, Papa, Two Million Touchdowns
I seem to remember vaguely something about Peyton Manning not playing last season. Something about his neck maybe? Anyway, its all irrelevant now. Manning is a rock solid QB1 again, involving both of this top two receivers and making owners of all three ecstatic. The Panthers are ranked 12th in terms of passing yards allowed per game; however, last time they faced a Manning at home, he hit them for 288 yards and a touchdown. I say big brother tops that as Eric Decker goes for his third game in a row with multiple touchdown receptions and sixth in a row with at least one. In addition, Demaryius Thomas has been extremely efficient catching the football, hauling in almost 70% of his targets (45 out of 65).
Can #6) The Brady Bunch
Aaron Hernandez, though listed as questionable, should return this week and the Patriots offense that started to hit its stride without him should be firing on all cylinders against the Buffalo Bills and their swiss cheese defense ranked 24th against the pass and 31st against the run. It would almost be easier to list the Patriots that are not worthy of starting consideration depending on your bye week and injury status, but I’ll do it anyway: Brady, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and the Patriots D/ST are all stud, good or acceptable plays this week.
Good luck today!