2013 NFL Scouting: Week Three’s Top Match-ups, Rookies to Watch, and More

BellJustin Houston opened up week three with a big performance, carrying Kansas City to a big win on the road. The Eagles vs. Chiefs match-up was certainly one of the most interesting of the week, thanks to the numeous storylines the game featured. 

There's still plenty more to look forward to this weekend, including Washington's fight to avoid a 0-3 start and Andy Dalton's struggle to prove he's the future for the Bengals. What all should you focus on this weekend?

 

Top Match-ups to Watch

Detroit RB Joique Bell vs. Washington's Front Seven

Most of the talk leading up to this match-up is going to surround the huge mismatch between Calvin Johnson and what has turned out to be one of the worst secondaries in the league. And that's for good reason, as it's something the Lions ought to look to exploit frequently on Sunday.

However, Detroit has had a mismatch against most secondaries in recent memory and it hasn't resulted in winning games. Just last week the Lions' offense was only able to get a first down on five out of twelve drives – hardly what you'd call a dominate offensive performance.

The Lions must avoid becoming one dimensional and sustain drives whether Reggie Bush is healthy or not, and that means the key to this game will very well be back up running back Joique Bell. Bell has proven to be an incredible elusive early in the season. That could be a nightmare for a Redskins defense that been simply awful tackling early this season. If Detroit has a successful day on offense, it's likely going to be thanks to Bell.

 

Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton vs. Green Bay's Offense

DaltonIf you're in Andy Dalton's position, you couldn't really ask for a better situation. You've got an outstanding receiver in AJ Green, two solid tight ends, a young running back with an outstanding ability to make plays after the catch, and a defense that can bail you out of mistakes you make. Unfortunately, even though he's playing the best football of his career according to his coaches, he's still leaving quite a bit to be desired on the field.

Last week's performance against the Steelers is a good look at Dalton's career in a nutshell. He finished with solid enough numbers, throwing for 280 yards and a touchdown; however out of his 25 completions only five of those were targets beyond five yards down the field.

Without question that's simply wasting talent like Green's on the outside, and that sort of conservative passing game isn't going to come close to keeping up with the Green Bay offense. Dalton has had plenty of time to develop, and he's got plenty of weapons around him. It's time to take the training wheels off and see if he can keep up with the types of offenses the Bengals need to compete with if they want to win a post season game.

 

Tennessee Jurrell Casey vs. San Diego’s Interior Offensive Line

After playing far better than expected early in the season, including coming a missed field goal short from upsetting the Texans on the road last week, Tennessee is off to one of the most surprising starts in the league. That comes in spite of an offense that seems stuck in the stone age and a secondary that has been inconsistent at best.

It's rare that you see a defensive tackle be a player that can almost singlehandedly carry a team, but through two games that exactly what Jurrell Casey has done. Casey recorded two sacks against Pittsburgh, and while he didn't take Matt Schaub down he did record four hurries against Houston, putting him at ten quarterback disruptions on the season, per ProFootballFocus.com.

San Diego has had trouble along the offensive front for years now, and that could spell trouble against a player like Casey. It's clear the Titans' offense isn't going to score a lot of points this season. The Chargers have the talent to outscore Tennessee, but if Casey is wreaking havoc again it's not likely that they'll be able to.

 

Rookie Watch

Last week rookie offensive guard Chance Warmack was abused by JJ Watt, and just last night offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson both had the worst games of their young careers. The two gave up 15 combined pressures and made life very difficult for each of their quarterbacks.

With such high-profile struggles, it'd be easy to get the impression that the entire class of offensive linemen were all having similar struggles. However, players selected later on in the draft have actually had solid starts to their careers.

Offensive guard Larry Warford was almost an afterthought in the draft, with players like Warmack and Jonathan Cooper stealing all the hype. However, with Cooper out for the year and Warmack struggling in pass protection, Warford looks to be the player off to the best start of three. Just like most would have expected, the third round selection is playing extremely well in the running game and has been a big reason Reggie Bush has been so effective to this point. What's a little surprising, even to Warford's biggest fans, is that he has yet to allow a single hurry or sack in pass protection. It's been a simply fantastic start to Warford's career.

This week he'll face off against a Washington front seven that can get after the quarterback with regularity. Even though the Washington defense has gotten off to a slow start, Warford will still need to bring his best game this weekend to ensure that trend continues.

BakhtiariGreen Bay has gotten some good production out of a rookie offensive lineman as well, and at an even more critical position. Left tackle David Bakhtiari has faced a brutal pair of pass rushers to start his career, facing Aldon Smith in week one and Brian Orakpo last weekend. Smith took advantage of the rookie's first start and ended up with two sacks. Orakpo should have been expecting the same sort of production, but instead couldn't even register a hurry against a much improved Bakhtiari.

That's some remarkable growth in just one week for the rookie, and he'll be looking to show the same sorts of results again against Michael Johnson and the Bengals this week. Johnson had an outstanding game last week (as do most defensive linemen who face the Steelers), and Cincinatti is desperately going to need a similar performance from him against the Packers if they hope to slow that offense down. Bakhtiari won't show up in the box score, but he could very well be a key to the Packers success or failure on Sunday.

Fantasy Notes

– Houston's secondary hasn't been what they'd hoped without Ed Reed, and even if Reed somehow is able to start Sunday, he'll be rusty. Torrey Smith should be due for a big game.

– Following last night's near goose egg, it's safe to say that Dwayne Bowe isn't going to be a good fantasy option this year. At best he's a WR3, but even with a good match-up the offense he's in just isn't designed to get him the ball much.

– In other cases, it's best to stay the course, and that's my feeling on both RGIII and David Wilson. Both players have the talent needed to make a big fantasy impact, and while they're off to slow starts their respective teams have no real choice but to stick with them for the long haul. Considering both player's big upsides, you should do the same.

– Looking for that high-upside sleeper to stash on your roster? Take a look at Andre Ellington. Right now he's just a change of pace player in Arizona, but the coaching staff loves him and Rashard Mendenhall can't stay healthy. Ellington could end up being one of this season's biggest surprises.

– If you don't have Gio Bernard on your roster already, the time to acquire him is now. He's flashed big play potential, and the Bengals won't be able to keep him on the sidelines for much longer. Get him while you still can. 

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