USA TODAY US Edition

Flacco should soar against Browns

Ravens QB among Week 2’s sleep­ers

- Steven Ruiz @TheStevenR­uiz

Week 1 is in the books, and fan­tasy own­ers who lost their open­ers might be start­ing to panic. These nuggets should help get you back on the win­ning track.

STUDS

RB Ezekiel El­liott, Dal­las Cow­boys: El­liott’s NFL de­but was a dud, but go­ing up against a poor Washington Red­skins run de­fense should help the rookie bounce back. The Cow­boys’ ground game av­er­aged more than 6 yards per carry the last time these teams met. QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Charg­ers: You could give Rivers five high school re­ceivers and he’d still carve up the Jack­sonville Jaguars de­fense. In five ca­reer starts against the Jags, he has thrown for 15 touch­downs and com­pleted 71.2% of his passes while av­er­ag­ing more than

300 yards per game. RB David Johnson, Ari­zona Car­di­nals: The Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers sur­ren­dered a cou­ple of big pass­ing plays to run­ning backs last week­end. Ari­zona will at­tack that weak­ness with Johnson, one of the best re­ceiv­ing backs in the league. WR De­An­dre Hop­kins, Hous­ton Tex­ans: Hop­kins, who typ­i­cally lines up on the left side of the field, will avoid cor­ner­back Mar­cus Peters for the most part. The Kansas City Chiefs are thin at cor­ner be­hind Peters, so Hop­kins should have a field day.

DUDS

RB Car­los Hyde, San Fran­cisco 49ers: The Carolina Pan­thers run de­fense was gashed by the Den­ver Bron­cos two- back for­ma­tions. That will not be an is­sue against Chip Kelly’s one-back of­fense. Ex­pect the Pan­thers to load the box and dare QB Blaine Gab­bert to beat them. WR Jordy Nel­son, Green Bay Pack­ers: It might take a few weeks be­fore Nel­son gets back to threat­en­ing de­fenses down­field, the way he con­sis­tently did be­fore his ACL tear. Don’t be sur--

prised if we’re all ask­ing, “What’s up with the Pack­ers of­fense?” af­ter fac­ing a tough Min­nesota Vik­ings de­fense. WR Allen Robin­son, Jack­sonville Jaguars: The Charg­ers like to have shut­down cor­ner Ja­son Ver­rett shadow the op­pos­ing team’s No. 1 re­ceiver. Robin­son is ca­pa­ble of win­ning jump balls when cov­ered tightly, but will Blake Bor­tles sup­ply him with

tar­gets with Ver­rett blan­ket­ing him all game? WR Mo­hamed Sanu, At­lanta Fal­cons: Sanu’s Week 1 pro­duc­tion was a lit­tle mis­lead­ing. He got a big chunk of yardage on a well-de­signed play that caused a cov­er­age bust. Most of his re­cep­tions came on quick screens that the Bucs weren’t pre­pared to stop. Now that it’s on film, de­fenses should be bet­ter pre­pared.

SLEEP­ERS

QB Joe Flacco, Bal­ti­more Ravens: The Cleve­land Browns de­fense will make every quar­ter­back look elite this sea­son. If the Ravens can keep Flacco clean — it gave up four sacks vs. the Buf­falo Bills — he’ll have a mon­ster day. WR Ster­ling Shep­ard, New York Gi­ants: Eli Man­ning threw six TD passes the last time he faced the New Or­leans Saints sec­ondary. This could be Shep­ard’s break­out game. WR Ta­jae Sharpe, Ten­nessee Ti­tans: Sharpe was tar­geted 11 times in Week 1 and pro­duced a re­spectable 76 yards on seven catches. The Detroit Lions sec­ondary looked aw­fully vul­ner­a­ble Sun­day in In­di­anapo­lis. TE Clive Wal­ford, Oak­land Raiders: Speak­ing of vul­ner­a­ble, the Fal­cons lineback­ers were ter­ri­ble in cov­er­age in their opener. The Raiders will at­tack the sec­ond level of At­lanta’s de­fense, which means a lot of passes to tight ends.

 ?? MITCH STRINGER, USA TO­DAY SPORTS ?? Quar­ter­back Joe Flacco threw for 258 yards and one touch­down with no in­ter­cep­tions in the Ravens’ Week 1 vic­tory.
MITCH STRINGER, USA TO­DAY SPORTS Quar­ter­back Joe Flacco threw for 258 yards and one touch­down with no in­ter­cep­tions in the Ravens’ Week 1 vic­tory.

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