With a riveting Week 1 in the books, we look onto Week 2 of the NFL Regular Season and which players can help bring your Fantasy Football team(s) to a win. Peyton Manning was by far the MVP of Week 1 and you can’t predict those sorts of results for anyone in any given week, but there are a few players who have the talent and matchups to come close this week.
NY Jets at New England Patriots
Geno Smith led the Jets to a surprising win against the Buccaneers, and his personal stats weren’t bad. 303 total yards and a TD were decent for the rookie, but I doubt he’ll do any better against the Pats defense. The Pats held EJ Manuel to 173 total yards and I think he’s the better QB. Kellen Winslow was a nice surprise at TE, and if you’re lacking at that position you could do much worse. Tom Brady didn’t look like himself last Sunday, and with Amendola and Vereen out his options get even smaller. Edelman should fill in the role nice and provide good numbers, but the rest of this Pats offense is very questionable. Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld underperformed, and Aaron Dobson has injury concerns. Stevan Ridley should have a solid game, but if he fumbles again he’ll be put on the bench immediately. Sleeper Special for me is LeGarrette Blount. He didn’t play well with 5 carries last game, but if Ridley is benched Blount will definitely get some work, and one big run is all you need.
St. Louis Rams at Atlanta Falcons
Sam Bradford performed as expected to me, finishing as a very solid QB. The Falcons defense isn’t anything alarming and I think the CB’s in Arizona are more formidable, meaning I expect an even better week from the former #1 pick. Jared Cook and Tavon Austin’s production should even out a bit more, but Chris Givens’ lack of looks last week alarms me. Daryl Richardson may share some carries with a returning Isaiah Pead, but Daryl should still get the majority and can remain as a Flex play. Roddy White was used solely as a decoy and if he does suit up this week it’ll be more of the same. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but bench White. Add in the fact that Julio Jones is questionable and the Rams have a solid defense, Matt Ryan probably won’t be having his best game ahead. The WR injuries give a big boost to Tony Gonzalez and Steven Jackson, and Harry Douglas benefits as my Sleeper Special. He’ll get more looks that last week and could finish with very similar stats (4 catches, 93 yds) if not better.
Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills
Cam Newton had a bad week, but he was going against the best defense in the league. The Bills don’t even come close to that, so look forward to a return to elite performance for Cam. Steve Smith still managed a TD and I expect another this go around. Greg Olsen was Cam’s top target last week and they have some good chemistry going so don’t have any doubts about starting him either. On the Bills side, EJ Manuel didn’t make mistakes, but he didn’t put up big numbers either. Steve Johnson owners would love if EJ took more shots down the field, and I’m not quite sure if he does this week. Johnson is a good Flex, but there are plenty WRs I’d put ahead of him. One person who could even be a better Flex than Johnson is Mike Tolbert, my Sleeper Special. Although the Pats didn’t run for any TD’s, the Panthers are highly likely to, and goal line carries come down to Cam and Tolbert.
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
The Adrian Peterson show moves to Chicago this week and he’s an unquestioned starter no matter the matchup. Christian Ponder just hasn’t improved and Jerome Simpson’s Week 1 was a fluke. I’m not trusting any of these WR’s against the Bears. None of them compare to AJ Green and Ponder can’t compare to Andy Dalton. The Bears defense should have a good time if they can even remotely slow down AP. Ponder is bound to make some mistakes and I see a defensive TD coming up. After seeing what Reggie Bush did to the Vikings, I’d have no problems with starting Matt Forte, and you’re crazy not to start Brandon Marshall as he’s clearly Cutler’s main guy. Sleeper Special goes to Jay Cutler here. He looked good last week and if this line continues to hold him up then he’s in line for a great season. The Vikings couldn’t touch Stafford last week, so if Cutler goes untouched again this game will be a blowout.
Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers
The Redskins offense was abysmal in the first half, but came to life after halftime and I think RG3 really needed to get the rust off. The Packers have lost my confidence as a defense and RG3 is very capable of doing similar to what Kaepernick did last week. Remember, RG3 is a pocket passer and doesn’t need the run to hurt defenses. Pierre Garcon and Alfred Morris should have much better games, as this offense overall just couldn’t get it together. Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the league and reminded us how great his offense is. Nelson and Cobb are clearly the stars of this passing game, and James Jones may even be relegated to 4th option behind Jermichael Finley. Sleeper Special is Santana Moss. He’s clearly still involved having the 2nd most targets on the team last week and if RG3 does play better, that only means good things for Moss.
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts
Who knew Brian Hartline would be the best option on the offense? I’m not a Lamar Miller believer and Mike Wallace is very limited in his skill set. Not having Joe Haden on his tail means a better day for Wallace, but I don’t expect anything beyond WR2 level production. Andrew Luck led yet another 4th quarter comeback culminating with a 19 yd TD run. I have my doubts about Luck being a top-10 QB, but he’s right on that border and his pairing with Reggie Wayne yields big numbers for them both. I was surprised Vick Ballard got more carries than Bradshaw, and since the Dolphins are good at limiting the run I wouldn’t start either of them. Sleeper Special for this game is Dwayne Allen. The Dolphins gave up a big game to Jordan Cameron last week and Luck is a much better QB. He connected with Allen for a 20yd TD against the Raiders and Allen might not have any issues finding the end zone again this week.
Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs
Tony Romo got the wind knocked out of him, but came back into the game and led his team to a victory. I like Romo a lot this year, and he showed that even if defenses key in on Dez Bryant he has no problem going to the rest of his offense for help. I think the Chiefs actually have a better defense than the Giants, but I’m not sure how much they’ll be able to limit Romo. Jason Witten is a must start and Miles Austin has WR2 upside in a Flex position. Alex Smith threw 2 TDs last week, but surprisingly none of them went to Dwayne Bowe. The Cowboys couldn’t do much to limit the Giants receivers, but if Bowe couldn’t perform against the Jaguars, I’d be a bit wary of his output this week. David Wilson may have fumbled twice, but Jamaal Charles doesn’t make those mistakes. He’s sole owner of the KC backfield and that keeps him in elite status. Sleeper Special goes to the Cowboys defense. Although the Jaguars gave up 21 points, they still finished with 6 in standard scoring leagues. The Chiefs overall didn’t pick up a lot of yards, and 3 TDs is about in line with what I’d expect from them on Sunday. If the Cowboys can continue to cause turnovers then that boosts the probability of a good defensive fill-in even more.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Only 13 carries for Trent Richardson was very disheartening, but Norv Turner has spoken with Trent about this and stated that he’ll be giving Trent a bigger workload. I’m willing to believe Turner especially since Brandon Weeden didn’t exactly light up the box score. The Ravens didn’t give up too much on the ground last week, but that’s because Peyton was having too much fun dismantling their defensive backs. The shining star of the Browns passing game was Jordan Cameron, and things look good for him this week as fellow TE Julius Thomas had a breakout game against the Ravens. Joe Flacco threw the ball 62 times last week and he won’t come close to that this game. Ray Rice is the star and he should get more than just 13 carries. My Sleeper Special is the Browns defense. Joe Haden held Mike Wallace to one catch and I think Wallace is a better WR than Torrey Smith. Flacco will have to put his faith in Dallas Clark and Marlon Brown in order to succeed in the passing game and I think Flacco makes a few mistakes. If the Browns can limit Ray Rice as well then they could finish as one of the top defenses this week.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
How many times am I going to put trust in Chris Johnson only to have him let me down? The workload was there (25 carries), but he couldn’t do anything with it (2.8 ypc). Am I supposed to have faith in him against the Texans, who kept a healthy Ryan Mathews to 33 yards on 13 carries? Yeah…no. I’m benching CJ unless I’m ridiculously thin at RB. You know who else I’m benching? The entire Titans team. Offense, defense, on the bench. They kept the Steelers to 9 points, but the Texans didn’t lose their #1 WR and RB. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson had great games against the Chargers, but Schaub in particular may not have such a great game this week. The Texans were playing from behind against the Chargers, and I highly doubt the Titans get a big lead (if they lead at all). Foster is still going to share carries with Ben Tate until he’s 100%, so you may want to lower your expectations there. Tate had half of the carries Foster did, but almost gained the same amount of yards. Sleeper Special is DeAndre Hopkins. 5 receptions and 66 yards in his 1st game with this loaded offense is solid in my book. I think Schaub targeted Andre so much due to playing catch up, but with less pressure he may make himself more familiar with the rookie.
San Diego Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles
Philip Rivers looked like he was elite once more, and then turned back into the guy we all know and stay away from. What was lost in his 4 TDs was that he only had 195 passing yards. He’ll need much more to battle this high powered Eagles offense, but WR is so limited that it’s a wonder who he’ll be throwing to other than Antonio Gates. Eddie Royal’s 2 TDs don’t strike me as anything other than a guy just being left open. The Eagles defense looked very good against the Redskins, and once the Texans got themselves together the Chargers couldn’t do a thing against them. I think Vick, McCoy, and Jackson should all have great games. The O-line did a great job protecting Vick, and Chip Kelly’s offense should work against the Chargers. Whether it is sustainable over the whole season or not is a mystery, but I don’t think they’ll have issues with a team that just gave up 449 total yards. The Eagles DST gets my Sleeper Special pick. The Texans gave up 4 TDs, but held the Chargers to 263 total yards. If Philly doesn’t spend a whole half to warm up like the Texans did, they could have a great day.
Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals
Matt Stafford threw 43 times for 357 yards, so anyone who has the misguided belief that they’ll all of a sudden become a more balanced team can bury that thought. Reggie Bush did run 21 times for 90 yards, but him carrying the ball more than that on an average basis is unlikely. Calvin Johnson vs the Cardinals defensive backs will be an interesting battle, but I don’t think he’ll be limited to only 4 catches 2 weeks in a row. Brandon Pettigrew had a horrible week, but the Cards gave up 141 yds and 2 TDs to Jared Cook, so hopefully he can get hot this week. Carson Palmer didn’t let me down, bringing Larry Fitzgerald to a top-5 WR fantasy finish. I doubt he’ll be able to make Fitz, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd relevant every game, but if I had to pick I’d choose Floyd as the guy who does the least. Continuing from last season it seems like Roberts is just more involved. Sleeper Special is Rashard Mendenhall. I think people are really down on him and 16 carries for 60 yards wasn’t great, but this offense could get him some goal line chances to score.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Drew Brees did what Drew Brees does. 357 yards and 2 TDs with 74% completion percentage means Brees was definitely ready for the season. Even with the addition of Revis, the Bucs shouldn’t be able to slow down this offense which puts Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles all in startable roles. Lance Moore was ineffective, but he’s a very hot/cold player and with Revis’ attention on Colston or Graham, Moore should be able to break free for some big games. Mark Ingram can sit this one out, as the Bucs’ run D probably won’t give him a chance to do a lot. The Josh Freeman fears are warranted people. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams still manage to do great work, but if you’re looking for QB help, Freeman isn’t the guy. Sleeper Special for this game is the Saints defense. The Jets held Tampa to 17 points, the same amount of points the Saints held the Falcons’ great offense to. I’m not saying the Saints will be great every week, but if they can limit Matt Ryan, why would you doubt their ability to create turnovers off of Freeman? Doug Martin may run wild, but they did a good job of stopping Steven Jackson and even had a solid goal line stand to seal the game.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders
Here’s your breather for this column. MJD had a bad game, I think he’ll do just fine against the Raiders. Terrelle Pryor just might crack the top-10 this week if he can run like he did against the Colts again. Darren McFadden should have at least 100 yards because the Jaguars are still allergic to defense. Sleeper Special is the Raiders defense, because as talented as Cecil Shorts is, his QB is still Blaine Gabbert and that means the ball has a better chance in landing in the defense’s hands than it does Shorts’.
Denver Broncos at NY Giants
Holy fantasy points Peyton Manning. What more needs to be said about this guy? The Giants gave up 36 points to the Cowboys, which doesn’t have an offense as good as the Broncos. The only offensive starter I wouldn’t play is Eric Decker, simply because he’s clearly been relegated to 5th option and I don’t think he’ll do enough to really be of value. Eli looked really useless in the first half, then somehow finished with 4 TDs and 450 passing yds. Cruz, Nicks and Myers are all solid options here. I’m not quite sold on Rueben Randle yet, but putting him in the Flex spot isn’t a bad idea. Sleeper Special is the Broncos defense. As good as the offense for the Giants got, Eli did throw 3 INTs and the Giants fumbled 3 times. Eli is prone to throw INTs and if Wilson gets the start there’s no guarantee he’s all of a sudden learned how to hold onto the ball.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
I wouldn’t deem this a defensive battle, but I’m ignoring how great the 49ers offense was last week. Simply put, the Seahawks aren’t the Packers. When these two teams met last season, the Seahawks won 42-13. I’m not saying the 49ers will only put up 13 points, but I highly doubt the Seahawks will give up 34, including 412 passing yards for Colin Kaepernick, to their division rivals. I think this game ends in the 20s for both teams, with Kaepernick, Boldin, Wilson, and Lynch ending as the game’s top scorers. Vernon Davis is still start worthy, but I’d bet a lot that he doesn’t come close to 98 yds and 2 TDs. Sleeper Special is Doug Baldwin. The forgotten man of the Seattle offense finished with 91 yds and the most targets on the team. With the defensive focus on Tate, Rice and Lynch, Baldwin may have many open opportunities to thrive on.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Speaking of low scoring games, the Steelers only managed 9 points against the Titans last week, which can’t bode well for their matchup against the Bengals. The running game is clearly nonexistent which forces Big Ben to throw to Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders until Heath Miller comes back. The two WRs are talented, but not enough to have me believe that they can succeed against a defense that limited Brandon Marshall until the 4th quarter. Andy Dalton and AJ Green clearly haven’t lost a step in their chemistry, with Green being the only must start on the team other than the defense. Sleeper Special goes to Giovani Bernard, as he out produced BenJarvus Green-Ellis in ypc and will only get more involved as the season goes on. The Steelers did a good job of stopping Chris Johnson, so I’m expecting Law Firm to be limited early on and Bernard to get more carries as the Bengals try to see what he can bring to the table.
Follow me on twitter @CLNS_Marc for more updates as we get closer to the Week 2 games.