Jake Locker Titans vs Cowboys
Locker completed 22 passes for 266 yards and two scores against an aggressive Chief defense last week. With emerging wide receivers Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter, along with veteran TE Delanie Walker the Titans finally have some fantasy weapons. Locker played well in 2013 when healthy particularly when he stayed in the pocket. Last week, Locker had no pass attempts outside then pocket. This week he faces a Cowboy pass defense that could be the worst in the league. They allowed 33 TD passes in 2013, and started off 2014 allowing two scores to the 49ers in just 23 pass attempts. Locker will have another multiple touchdown pass game and at least 250 yards passing.
Carlos Hyde, 49’ers vs. Bears
You should play just about any running back that faces the Bears. After finishing 32nd against the run in 2013, they aren’t showing any signs of improvement. They allowed 193 rushing yards to the Bills, almost thirty yards more a game than last year. Hyde had just 7 touches last week vs the Cowboys, but rushed for fifty yards and a score. I see him with 10-15 carries this week, and considering the fact that the Buffalo reserve running backs, Fred Jackson and Anthony Dixon combined for 121 yards on just 12 carries, Hyde should have a productive week.
Terrence West, Browns vs Saints
With Ben Tate nursing an injury for the next few weeks, West will be given every chance to win the starting running back slot for the Browns. In 2013 the Browns rushed for 126 yards in their two games against the Steelers. Last week alone in Pittsburgh they rushed for 183 yards even while playing catch-up football. To have any chance to improve the Browns have to develop a running game, and take pressure off of Brian Hoyer. The Saints allowed 123 yards on the ground in Atlanta last week. Although it is just his second game, West will get 20-25 touches against the Saints. He will give way to Isaiah Crowell some, but West will get the goal line carries. He will find the end zone and have 70-80 rushing yards Sunday.
Kelvin Benjamin Panthers vs Lions
While the Lions played the pass well Monday, it was apparent the Giants were completely out of sync. Their pass defense will look more like their 2013 version which was ranked 23rd in the league Sunday in Carolina. Benjamin used his 6’5” frame to muscle his way to six receptions for 92 yards and caught Derek Anderson’s second scoring pass against the Buccaneers. The Panther running game appears to be several gears slower than they were last year. Cam Newton will come out throwing and will have to pass the Panthers to victory this year. Benjamin will develop into Newton’s second receiving option behind Greg Olsen. The undersized Lions secondary makes for a favorable match up for Benjamin.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston at Raiders
Hopkins’ stat line read nicely last week, 4 receptions, 89 yards and a score vs the Redskins, although 76 of those yards came on one play where the Redskins blew the coverage and missed a couple tackles. Even after considering this and the fact that his quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick, I like Hopkins’s match-up in Oakland. The Raiders allowed just 190 passing yard last week, but it was against Geno Smith. The stat I like is their completion percentage allowed of 79%. When Fitzpatrick is given time, he does not turn the ball over and is efficient. With his better receiving core, he will have more yards and touchdowns than Geno. The Raider coverage still has to pay respect to Andre Johnson with double coverage, so I see Hopkins getting a lot of single coverage looks. Considering the Raiders allowed thirty three touchdown passes in 2013, Hopkins will find pay dirt for a second week in a row.
Niles Paul, Redskins vs Jaguars
Jordan Reed who caught more than 40 passes in nine game last year was number one on the TE depth chart. His injury could have him out for a month. Niles Paul will step in again as he did last week. Paul led the Redskins with 86 receiving yards in their 17-6 loss at Houston week one. He runs solid routes and has above average hands. He did fumble last week, but head coach Jay Gruden said he will be his every down TE this week. He faces a Jaguar pass defense that allowed Nick Foles to find Eagle TE’s Zac Ertz and Brent Celek for 92 yards and a score. The Jaguars will have to focus on Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Paul will get plenty of single linebacker and safety coverage, Robert Griffin III should be able to find him for a score and at least fifty yards Sunday.