It’s only Week 2 and the fantasy community feels so tense, you’d think we were already in a do or die, win and you’re in situation already. It’s crazy, really. The sense of panic that I feel from some of these emails I receive is immense. There’s so much talk of dropping guys you shouldn’t drop or benching guys you shouldn’t bench, it’s almost worrisome. Take a deep breath, folks. One week does not a season make.
I’m sorry David Wilson let you down, but riddle me this…who are the Giants going to turn to when they run the ball this week? Brandon Jacobs? No. He’s not in game shape and isn’t capable of shouldering even just a minor share of the load. Da’Rel Scott? Come on. If the concept of a yawn could be physicalized into a person, it would be Da’Rel Scott. No. The carries are coming to Wilson and, the good lord willing, he won’t disappoint again. He will hold onto the ball and Tom Coughlin can turn three shades of red for some other reason. So to sit there and ask if you should start someone like Marlon Brown or Kenny Stills over Wilson in your flex spot, it means you’re already panicking and you need to take a step back and relax.
And it doesn’t end there. Mike Wallace should not be dropped. Eric Decker will see more targets. Kenbrell Thomkins and Chris Givens are sleepers for the full year, not guarantees for the first week or two. Lance Moore will not be forgotten. And Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller and Calvin Johnson will all do better in the near future. It was just one week. It’ll be ok.
So what about Week 2? What’s in store for fantasy owners this time around? Well, here are my thoughts with regard to the match-ups and all the fantasy impact….
St. Louis Rams at Atlanta Falcons
With news that Roddy White is confirmed to play Sunday, the Falcons automatically get a huge boost. He doesn’t even need to have a big game (primarily because I don’t think he will) for that to be the case as just his mere presence will undoubtedly free things up for Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. Defenses can’t sleep on White and over the years we’ve seen what happens when he might be a little banged up and they do. So while they’re adjusting their coverage to keep him contained, Matt Ryan is finding the other open guys downfield. I also like Steven Jackson against his former team, and have him pegged for about 85 yards and a touchdown.
For the Rams, the running game should still be led by Daryl Richardson even though Isaiah Pead is due back from his one game suspension. Richardson is still more of a flex play in leagues of 10 and, sometimes, 12 teams though, as the Atlanta run defense is fairly strong and could keep him out of the endzone this week. On the other hand, the Falcons pass defense is weak (ranked 30th right now) and Sam Bradford will want to start getting receivers like Chris Givens and Tavon Austin into the mix so that he doesn’t become completely reliant on new favorite, Jared Cook. I still think Austin’s focus will be on the return game while Givens finds his way to double-digit fantasy points this week.
Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills
All you Cam Newton owners can stop freaking out as the quarterback gets a pretty soft match-up this time around and should not only find Steve Smith downfield for some big yardage and a score, but also gain some helpful rushing yards himself with a trip to the endzone of his own. But the big sleeper in this one for me is running back DeAngelo Williams. Last week, the Bills gave up 58 yards on seven catches to Shane Vereen last week and the Panthers will definitely try to deploy Williams in a similar fashion. If you’re looking for a flex play to surprise everyone, he’d be my choice.
The Bills offense still needs some time to jell, but there’s decent fantasy talent to be had in more than just Spiller, who will see the bulk of the work over Fred Jackson this week. If they are going to rebuild this offense and use EJ Manuel, then he and Spiller need to work more closely together while he also needs some time to get comfortable with Steve Johnson, Robert Woods and even tight end Scott Chandler. For fantasy purposes right now, Spiller and Johnson are the only ones I’m trusting, but more could develop out of this team further down the road.
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
The Vikings will dial up the same old formula for this one that they always do – let Adrian Peterson run wild and watch how it opens up the passing game later on. It might be predictable, but until they get someone better than Christian Ponder under center, it’s all they’ve got. AP is the only must-start on this team while complementary players like Jerome Simpson, Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph are only useful in deeper leagues for now. If you don’t trust the guy throwing the ball, how can fantasy owners show confidence in the receiving corps?
With the way the Lions walked all over the Vikings defense last week, I have to think that Matt Forte is primed for a big week this time around. Of course Jay Cutler will find the time to hit Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett downfield, but the focus should be on Forte. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him have close to the day Reggie Bush had last week.
Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers
While both Alfred Morris and Eddie Lacy should represent the running backs this week and post decent but not spectacular days, this game is going to be all about the passing attacks. Robert Griffin got better as the game went along last week, so with a little more confidence in his own knee this week, he should prove to be a little more mobile and take plenty more shots downfield. Pierre Garcon should be the prime beneficiary, but look for Leonard Hankerson as well. He could be primed for a breakout season, but will need to prove it here against the Packers before I fully endorse. Meanwhile, do I really have to say anything about Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing game? If you’re not starting Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb, you must have some sick receivers. James Jones is also a decent option, as he’ll see his fair share of red zone targets, but be careful as he stands just as much chance of that as he does catching 32 yards with no TD. Jermichael Finley will also be involved but I might be inclined to look for a tight end with a softer match-up.
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts
With a mediocre running game (I trust Lamar Miller less and less each week), I bet Mike Wallace’s complaining gets him a big increase in targets. Brian Hartline will see his usual possession work, but Wallace is going to grab himself at least one toe-tapper in the back of the endzone, if not two. Ryan Tannehill isn’t going to ever be that coveted fantasy quarterback, but he’ll still post numbers that should make him a worthy second in a two-QB league.
The big question for the Colts is going to be how the running game develops. Ahmad Bradshaw is supposed to see the full load of carries with Vick Ballard injured, but with the bothersome foot, how much of the full load will he be able to bear? While he should rack up a fair amount of yardage, I don’t see his total as anything more than what you would use in a flex spot for a week. That means it should all fall onto the shoulders of Andrew Luck and his receivers. Look for T.Y. Hilton to be a little more active this week, maybe Dwayne Allen too, but it should be Reggie Wayne who shines the brightest this week.
Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs
While the Cowboys are a little banged up right now, I don’t expect them to falter too much on the fantasy front. Tony Romo’s ribs are sore, not broken and Dez Bryant’s ankle seems to be good enough for him to be listed as probable on the injury report. They won’t post career-best numbers, but they’ll hook up enough to make them worthwhile starts, even against the team who, for right now, is listed as the top pass defense. Jason Witten and Miles Austin will play complementary roles while DeMarco Murray grinds out 80-odd yards and a touchdown.
Dallas’ run defense did just fine against the Giants last week, but now it’s Jamaal Charles with whom they have to contend. He should fare much better than Wilson did last week which should open things up for Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe to connect on more than just a few occasions. Donnie Avery should fare well with possession work, but look for Anthony Fasano to sneak into the endzone.
San Diego Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles
Well, if there was any question as to what Chip Kelly’s system would do for the Eagles offense, it was answered last week. Michael Vick should continue to thrive, at least until he gets hurt, which means DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek should post decent numbers as well. Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy will dominate as usual and rumbled off to another 100-plus yard, multi-score day.
The fantasy world never seems to have much confidence in Ryan Mathews, but given the Eagles defensive showing last week, there’s a good chance that he finds a bit of a groove early on and rumbles his way towards 75 yards with a touchdown. However, given the strength of the Eagles offense and the way the Chargers defense caved in last week, you can expect Philip Rivers to take it to the air every chance he can get. I like Vincent Brown and Antonio Gates to find the endzone in this one.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens defense just isn’t what it used to be which put this Browns offense in a whole new light. Trent Richardson should find running room a little easier to come by and rack up decent yardage and a score which should open things up for Brandon Weeden to find new favorite target Jordan Cameron downfield and in the endzone. Davone Bess should handle most of the possession work while Greg Little chips in with 60 yards of his own.
Ray Rice may find it tough to break through the Brown’s defensive line which means that Joe Flacco is going to have to take control of this game through the air. Torrey Smith will get hit with the double-team often which should open things up a little more for rookie Marlon Brown and Brandon Stokley. And look for Dallas Clark to chip in as he becomes a reliable target once again. Ed Dickson’s drops last week may have flipped some names around on the depth chart.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
If the Titans are even going to survive this week, they need a big-time game out of Chris Johnson. Without a strong effort from him, they could be done for real early as Jake Locker is not the guy on which to rely. Put a gun to my head and tell me I have to pick a Titans receiver and I’ll say Kendall Wright, but that just might be stubbornness after having been burnt by Kenny Britt too often.
For the Texans, it’s all about weaning Arian Foster back into the offense. He’ll see an increase in carries this time around and given his talent level and current health, he culd crush it this week, for sure. That will open things up nicely for Matt Schaub who will hit Andre Johnson early and often. He’ll find his top receiver for over 100 yards again and will also find the endzone, Look for Owen Daniels to kick in 50 yards or so with a score as well.
Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals
I am a big fan of the Detroit offense this season and expect Matthew Stafford to shred this pass defense throughout the day. Don’t worry about Reggie Bush’s carry total because he’ll probably see more screens once again. Stafford will hit him for half a dozen screens, but will also be watching downfield for Calvin Johnson. Even in a double-team, Johnson will be fine to start (you have to, really), but keep an eye on what that does for Nate Burleson who could be in for a big game this week.
The Cardinals are going to try and establish the run from the onset so look for Rashard Mendenhall to get a substantial amount of work in the first half. If successful, then Carson Palmer will have a little more time to start finding Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts downfield. With Larry Fitzgerald being questionable/a game-time decision, the second tier of receivers will be put to the test. Roberts, in my opinion, is the guy to watch here.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While many are saying that the Saints are going to come out firing from the onset, I’m actually concerned with their receivers this week. The Tampa secondary is no joke and even while working himself back into top form, Darrelle Revis is a force. Marques Colston could see some blanket coverage while Lance Moore may have difficulty getting open again. They’ll likely utilize Darren Sproles with a heavy dose of screen passes while Mark Ingram sees a rise on carries for himself.
The Bucs offense will maintain the same game plan they always have – Doug Martin to open things up strong and a balanced attack by Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson the rest of the way. Given the Saints’ shortcomings on defense, Martin should have plenty of room to run which will afford Josh Freeman the opportunity to succeed.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders
This game could surpsise a lot of people, particularly those in the fantasy game. Chad Henne is taking over for the Jags and we all saw how he and Cecil Shorts connected last season. In addition to that, you’ve got Maurice Jones-Drew really looking to make a mark early in the season and the 31st run defense right now could be just the team to expose. Even Marcedes Lewis might be worth a look given this match-up.
For the Raiders, they’re going to go heavy with Darren McFadden against the Jags’ 28th ranked run defense and look for Marcel Reece to celebrate his new contract extension with some strong screen work. In addition, Terrelle Pryor will likely rack up some rushing yardage on his own. Now obviously there’s the passing game to help alleviate some of the pressure, but it looks like Denarius Moore is the guy you want to own.
Denver Broncos at New York Giants
Murpy’s Law will obviously try to turn things around on me, but how could this game not come down to Peyton Manning versus his little brother Eli Manning. Maybe the ground game gets a look as the Giants try to give David Wilson a shot and the Broncos try to show that they can gain some yardage with their three-headed monster led by Knowshon Moreno, but when it comes down to it, you want the QBs and every receiver on each team active. I think Eric Decker sees some more looks this week and he and Demaryius Thomas lead the way while Brandon Myers and Hakeem Nicks light it up for the G-Men. But if you have any other receiver/tight end in this one, they are definitely recommended starts. Points galore coming in this one.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
While most will focus on the fact that this is a match-up involving two of the best defenses in the league, there could be some surprises here as both offenses will look to gain any sort of an edge. Both Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch are, to me, must-starts. They might not rack up killer yardage, but I could see each with 50-60 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, I think the passing game for the 49ers has the edge as Colin Kaepernick and Anquan Boldin should continue their on-field bromance and pick up some decent fantasy points because of it. Vernon Davis should make it a threesome. And for me, Quinton Patton remains a sleeper to watch as it shouldn’t take long for him to supplant the likes of Kyle Williams or Marlon Moore. For the Seahawks, look for Russell Wilson to try and find Golden Tate and/or Doug Baldwin downfield. Sidney Rice will be back, but he needs some time to get back into the swing of things.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
I never like to count out the Steelers in any match-up, but the loss of center Maurkice Pouncey is going to loom large. Isaac Redman could find it tough to fun up the middle and the pass protection could suffer in a major way. Ben Roethlisberger will try to throw some quick slants to Antonio Brown, but it’s going to be tough to establish any kind of deep passing game.
The Bengals, on the other hand, will attack the Steelers in typical fashion. BenJarvis Green-Ellis is still their lead back so expect an dearly dose of him, but the focus should again be on the passing game as Andy Dalton looks downfield for A.J. Green regularly. Both Mohamed Sanu and Jermaine Gresham should post fairly decent numbers in complementary roles in this one. I see Green leading the charge here with 120-plus yards and a pair of scores.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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