The first week is in the books, and hopefully your team got off to a good start. In addition, it would please me if you found this information to be a bit helpful in the process. We hit on a few winners last week, as Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick had big games, although Indianapolis’ Kerry Collins laid an egg in his first start. Still, we try to be not-so-obvious with the picks, as everyone knows to start their top-round picks. Sometimes you go out on a limb, and your pick doesn’t look too good. That was the case with Collins, as well as Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams. However, if you started Cincinnati’s Cedric Benson or Miami’s Brandon Marshall, you can’t be too angry.
Generally, the success rate of these picks in the past has been about 60 percent, so EVERYTHING won’t hit. But if you have been following along for years, you’ll know that’s a good conversion rate. It is just the same with those who wager on games. If you were able to hit 60 percent, you’d be a very happy person.
Let’s get on to Week 2.
Each week we’ll take a look at some of the less obvious fantasy starters and potential surprises in a given week. We’ll also offer up a handful of players at each position to avoid. Everyone knows to start their first- and second-round draft pick, so I won’t waste your time. But instead, we’ll provide some potential gems who might be available on the waiver wire in some leagues.
Must-start – Matt Schaub, HOU (at MIA) – Fantasy owners of Schaub have to be salivating about this matchup after watching New England Patriots QB Tom Brady absolutely shred the Dolphins for 517 passing yards in the opener. Schaub is not Brady, however, and a more reasonable expectation of 300 yards and three TDs is in order. However, you’d take that every week from your Fantasy starter, wouldn’t you? Schaub is due for a good game after getting off to a marginal start last week against Indianapolis (17-24-220-1-2). The expected return of RB Arian Foster (hamstring) will actually help, as the Dolphins have to respect the run even more than they would with Ben Tate and Derrick Ward.
Did you know?
The Houston Texans have won all five matchups in their history against the Miami Dolphins, including a surprising 21-20 win Sept. 7, 2003, in Miami to ruin King of the Hill pools everywhere.
Recommended play – Rex Grossman, WAS (vs. ARI) – It’s hard to imagine a more perfect start for Grossman. Last week, he passed for 305 yards in a win against division rival N.Y. Giants, and now the Redskins welcome a Cardinals secondary which was lit up for a rookie record 422 passing yards by Panthers QB Cam Newton in Week 1. Surely the Cards will make adjustments, but Grossman should be able to post another 300-yard game, which makes him a decent low-end QB1 in some formats. He is a must-start in those leagues which require two starters.
Recommended play – Cam Newton, CAR (vs. GB) – Well, what can he do for an encore? After doing something no first-year player had ever done, it will be hard to top himself. However, Newton should be pumped this week for his first regular season home start, and he has Charlotte buzzing with the defending Super Bowl champs coming to town. The Packers secondary allowed Brees to throw for 419 yards last week at Lambeau Field, so look for the Panthers to try similar tactics to move the ball. It might be another slow week for Williams and the running game, but plenty of success for Newton, WR Steve Smith and TE Greg Olsen.
Recommended sit – Tarvaris Jackson, SEA (at PIT) – Often times, Fantasy owners try to get too cute, especially if they suffered a setback in the first week. The Steelers were shockingly knocked around by the Baltimore offense, particularly by QB Joe Flacco. Don’t expect it to happen again. Jackson and the Seahawks offense couldn’t get out of their own way in San Francisco last week, and the results should be even worse this week. Even in leagues which require two starting QBs, Jackson is a low-end suggestion. He is ranked anywhere from 20th to 25th among starting Fantasy QBs, and even that might be generous.
Recommended sit – Kyle Orton, DEN (at BUF) – The good news is that Orton passed for 304 yards Monday against Oakland, although most of those yards came in garbage time, so it isn’t as impressive as it looks. The bad news is that he might press too hard to avoid the chants of delusional and uninformed fans calling for the third-string QB to come on. Still, a matchup against the Bengals might be a nice cure for what ails the Broncos offense. If not, those chants will get louder and the pressure will be tremendous on Orton and head coach John Fox after only two weeks.
Must-sit – Sam Bradford, STL (at NYG) – Bradford banged up his finger in the Week 1 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and is a bit of a question mark heading into Week 2. He is fully expected to give it a go, and the matchup is pretty favorable considering what Grossman did to the Giants in the opener. However, keep in mind that Bradford is not 100 percent, he will be without WR Danny Amendola (elbow), and RB Steven Jackson (quadriceps) is also unlikely to play, leaving the Giants to concentrate even more on stopping the pass.
Start these guys (especially in two-QB leagues): Josh Freeman, TB (at MIN), Chad Henne, MIA (vs. HOU) and Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. KC)
Sit these guys: Matt Hasselbeck, TEN (vs. BAL), Colt McCoy, CLE (at IND) and Alex Smith, SF (vs. DAL)
Must-start – Cedric Benson, CIN (vs. DEN) – Hey, strike while the iron is hot. Benson racked up 121 yards and a score last weekend in Cleveland in an upset victory. Now, he gets a Broncos rush defense which was gutted for 150 yards on the ground by Oakland’s Darren McFadden Monday night. The Broncos have a short week of rest to get ready, and they have to hit the road. That’s never a good combination. Most Fantasy owners stayed away from Benson on Draft Day until the neighborhood of Round 4 and 5 due to concerns about QB play. Rookie Andy Dalton (wrist) is already dinged up and might not play, but most of Benson’s damage came when backup QB Bruce Gradkowski was in the game. Don’t overthink the move based on other positions. Just roll with Benson because of what he did last week and because he has a favorable matchup. Conversely, if he does go over the century mark while finding the end zone again, consider pawning him off in a trade while his value is at its pinnacle, especially if you have depth at RB and need to strengthen other areas of your team.
Recommended play – Joseph Addai, IND (vs. CLE) – It’s time to pick on the poor Browns. They made Benson look like a world beater last weekend despite shaky QB play. Even if Collins struggles again in Week 2, the running game should be able to get on track against Cleveland’s defense. Addai accomplish diddly in the opener, but that was mostly due to the fact the game was lopsided very early, and teams do not run the ball when they’re down by a significant margin. At home, against the Browns, that won’t be a problem.
Recommended play – Peyton Hillis, CLE (at IND) – Fantasy owners will be watching the Browns-Colts game closely, as there should be plenty of big-time performers. Hillis had a marginal Week 1 debut, but should find bigger opportunities against a Colts defense which was gouged for 116 yards and a score by Tate in Week 1, a player who entered the day as the team’s third-string rusher. Hillis might not top the century mark, but he should come awfully close, and he will be showing off his guns in the end zone, perhaps during a first-half celebration flex.
Recommended sit – Tim Hightower, ARI (at WAS) – This is a tasty little matchup that a lot of people might be overlooking. The Cardinals shuttled Hightower out of town after picking up RB Ryan Williams (knee) in the second round. Unfortunately for them, it worked out more for Hightower, who shined in Week 1, while Williams suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. Hightower will try to make the Cardinals pay, but often time younger players tend to try and do too much in emotional games. I expect Hightower to make at least one mistake, and also look for the Redskins attack to be more aerial-based, as mentioned above. Similarly, the Cards shut down Williams and the Panthers run game last week, and they know Hightower’s tendencies well enough to shut him down, too.
Recommended sit – Marshawn Lynch, SEA (at PIT) – Baltimore’s Ray Rice was able to find success against the Steelers rush defense, but usually he is the only one who can solve the current version of the Steel Curtain defense. If you’re expecting Lynch to come in and have similar results, you’re sorely mistaken. Plus, the Seahawks should find themselves down plenty, abandoning the running game early. If Lynch were able to crack 15 carries, that would be an upset.
Must-sit – Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC (at NYJ) – The good news for MoJo and his Fantasy owners was that his knee looked good in the opener, and he flirted with the century mark in yardage while visiting the end zone. The bad news is that he’ll get a matchup with the stingy Jets defense, who will give QB Luke McCown fits all day. Look for Rex Ryan to stack eight in the box, stopping the best offensive weapon of the Jets, and daring the Jags to pass. This one could be ugly, and you might be able to count Jacksonville’s points on one hand.
Start these guys: Reggie Bush, MIA (vs. HOU), Ryan Grant, GB (at CAR) and Cadillac Williams, STL (at NYG)
Sit these guys: Mark Ingram, NO (vs. CHI), Chris Johnson, TEN (vs. BAL) and Mike Tolbert, SD (at NE)
Must-start – Devery Henderson, NO (vs. CHI) – The Bears did a pretty decent job throwing a lasso around QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing attack last weekend, but Brees and the Saints are a totally different animal, especially in the raucous Superdome. The Saints will be without WR Marques Colston (collarbone) for about a month, so everyone scoots up the depth chart one spot. Henderson is in line for the most targets, and he should eclipse the century mark while finding the end zone again, especially if WR Lance Moore (hamstring) is also inactive again.
Recommended play – Jacoby Jones, HOU (at MIA) – Jones appears to be in line to make a start with WR Kevin Walter (shoulder) dealing with a badly bruised shoulder suffered in Week 1. The Texans like to get the ball into the hands of the versatile Jones, who has speed to burn. In standard leagues, Jones is more of a WR3 or ‘flex’ play, so don’t overvalue him or drop a Fantasy staple for what might be a one-time solid play. You can, though, expect somewhere in the area of 70 yards and perhaps a score. The Dolphins will likely try and throw all of their thin resources at stopping WR Andre Johnson, which will be to no avail, by the way. However, in leagues which also reward individual return yardage, Jones is a must-start.
Recommended play – Santana Moss, WAS (vs. ARI) – Moss will face a Cardinals secondary which was torched by Smith and the Panthers last week. We mentioned Grossman is a recommended play above. Someone will be at the other end of those passes, and Moss will be the recipient more often than not. Don’t expect Smith-like numbers, but 90 yards and a touchdown is likely.
Recommended sit – Bernard Berrian, MIN (vs. TB) – There was renewed optimism in the preseason that Berrian would re-emerge as an important part of the offense in Minnesota, especially with WR Sidney Rice (Seahawks) out of the picture. Berrian was targeted three times in Week 1, and he had zero catches. The Vikings pass offense was downright ugly, as QB Donovan McNabb threw for just 39 more yards than you and me sitting in front of our computers. Until McNabb can get back on track (will that ever happen?), Berrian is not to be touched.
Recommended sit – Mike Thomas, JAC (at NYJ) – Thomas is technically the No. 1 WR in J-ville, but Fantasy owners would rather have the No. 2 or 3 wideouts on other teams rather than Thomas even when matchups are favorable. This week, Thomas will be trying to solve DBs Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis, and he has McCown slinging him passes. It’s an ugly situation for Thomas and his Fantasy owners. Avoid. This has one or two catches written all over it.
Must-sit – Mike Williams, TB (at MIN) – The Vikings did a good job at honing in on the top receiving option in San Diego, WR Vincent Jackson, in Week 1. That’s all well and good, but the Bolts simply turned to their running backs and tight ends to get it done instead. The Vikings might key on Williams and hold him in check, which is bad for his Fantasy owners, but great news for those of TE Kellen Winslow, RB LeGarrette Blount, etc.
Start these guys: Brandon Lloyd, DEN (vs. CIN), Mario Manningham, NYG (vs. STL) and Steve Smith, CAR (vs. GB)
Sit these guys: Michael Crabtree, SF (vs. DAL), Percy Harvin, MIN (vs. TB), Jordy Nelson, GB (at CAR)
Start these guys:
Dallas Clark, IND (vs. CLE)
Owen Daniels, HOU (at MIA)
Jimmy Graham, NO (vs. CHI)
Greg Olsen, CAR (vs. GB)
Kellen Winslow, TB (at MIN)
Sit these guys:
Scott Chandler, BUF (vs. OAK)
Tony Gonzalez, ATL (vs. PHI)
Marcedes Lewis, JAC (at NYJ)
Brandon Pettigrew, DET (vs. KC)
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs. TB)
Start these guys:
Nick Novak, SD (at NE)
Mike Nugent, CIN (at DEN)
Josh Scobee, JAC (at NYJ)
Sit these guys:
Rob Bironas, TEN (vs. BAL)
Jay Feely, ARI (at WAS)
Shaun Suisham, PIT (vs. SEA)
Start these defenses:
Bills (vs. OAK)
Buccaneers (at MIN)
Giants (vs. STL)
Sit these defenses:
Bears (at NO)
Chargers (at NE)
Falcons (vs. PHI)