After an unpredictable first week filled with surprise performances and shocking injuries, the second Sunday of Fantasy Football has presented an opportunity for some unlikely heroes to succeed and once heralded stars to struggle. Here are 10 players primed for a breakout game, and 10 who should give their owners cause for concern.
Photo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
The electric quarterback is making his first start since 2006, and will be doing so against a woeful Lions defense that has had trouble stopping mobile quarterbacks over the past three seasons. Vick’s versatility (and a Lions offense that will struggle to stay on the field with Matthew Stafford out), should afford him ample opportunities to add to the 21 Fantasy points he accumulated last week against a talented Green Bay defense.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants
An excellent flex start due to both his match-up and increased workload, Bradshaw should have the opportunity to do some serious damage against an Indianapolis defense that made Arian Foster the top Fantasy Football running back in Week 1. With 20 carries in his first start, it appears that the Giants believe Bradshaw – not Brandon Jacobs – gives them the best chance to win.
Brandon Jackson, Green Bay Packers
Now that Jackson has been given the starting nod after an unfortunate injury to Ryan Grant, the young running back has a chance to put Packers fans at ease with a stellar performance against a Buffalo Bills defense that allowed 132 yards on the ground last week. Factor in Jackson’s underrated pass catching ability and what will likely be a tremendous time of possession advantage, he should be considered a must start at the flex position and a great option in the running back slot.
Randy Moss, New England Patriots
As odd as it sounds, a lot of people are shying away from Randy Moss this week because of his match-up with the New York Jets (and more specifically, Darrelle Revis). Please do not be one of them. After listening to Revis call him “sluggish” and the entire football community doubting his future, Moss now has both a chip on his shoulder and extra motivation heading into this week. Are you willing to bet against an inspired Randy Moss?
Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins
After a phenomenal Week 1 performance in which he banked six receptions for 80 yards against a talented Dallas Cowboys defense, Chris Cooley should head into the second game of the season as the team’s top target. He was thrown to nine times last week, and with the Texans’ top linebacker - Brian Cushing – still suspended for some sort of estrogen infraction, the middle of the field should be wide open for Cooley’s enormous frame.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
Last week, nearly one half of the Oakland Raiders’ passing yards went to their running backs. Clearly, Jason Campbell doesn’t trust his receivers and feels confident in the running game’s ability to make plays. McFadden, who is coming off of a monster Week 1, should once again be the team’s featured back and a top target for Campbell through the air. While facing a St. Louis Rams team that seems destined to pick first in next year’s NFL Draft, McFadden should have the opportunity to put up some impressive fantasy numbers.
Cadillac Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In two games last season, Williams totaled 183 yards and a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers. In eight career games he has five touchdowns against the division rivals and – if Week 1 is any indication – he seems to have become a healthy workhorse in the offense.
Legedu Naanee, San Diego Chargers
With Vincent Jackson seemingly gone for the foreseeable future, Phillip Rivers is going to need to establish a number one receiver to take his place. After watching Malcom Floyd and Craig Davis stumble in the fourth quarter against the Chiefs, it appears as if Naanee (five receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown last week) is his best option against a less-than-superb Jaguars secondary this week.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense
A favorable match-up against the Detroit Lions makes the Eagles defense a must start for Week 2. With Matthew Stafford out and a running game that rushed for 20 total yards last week, it should be easy pickings for Andy Reid’s boys.
Green Bay Packers Defense
Last week, the Buffalo Bills only managed to register 166 total yards and 10 points against the Miami Dolphins. With Green Bay’s ability to stop the run, the Bills may have to rely heavily on the passing game to bounce back in Week 2. Look for plenty of turnovers and a potential shut-out.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys offensive line might be one of the worst in football. They struggled against the pass and had serious problems creating holes against the Redskins in Week 1. Combine that with a minimal workload last week (just eight carries) and Jones looks like a serious waiver wire candidate early in the season.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings
Harvin looked dreadful in Week 1, tallying just one reception for 12 yards. Until he proves that his health is no longer an issue, Harvin remains a risky start for Fantasy Owners. (Especially against a Dolphins team that allowed just 116 passing yards last week.)
Terrell Owens, Cincinnati Bengals
Owens looked pedestrian at best last week, with Chad Ochocinco clearly establishing himself as the team’s number one target. Against a talented Ravens defense this Sunday, this probably isn’t the week where Owens will have the chance to bounce back with a strong performance.
David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars
Don’t let his three touchdown performance from last week fool you. Garrard is notoriously better at home (only three scores on the road last season), so look for him to struggle in San Diego against a Chargers team that is in desperate need of a win after their embarrassing Monday night loss to the Chiefs (in which they allowed less than 100 yards passing).
Mike Sims-Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars
If Sims-Walker couldn’t nab a single reception in an opening week home win, what are the odds that he bounces back in a difficult cross-country road match-up? Mike Thomas (six receptions for 89 yards) is a budding star for the Jags, and it appears Garrard is starting to see it.
Tim Hightower, Arizona Cardinals
With Beanie Wells scheduled to return to the lineup, expect Hightower’s carries to drastically decrease. Factor in the two fumbles from the team’s Week 1 narrow win over the Rams, and Hightower – who had just 13 carries as a starter last Sunday - suddenly looks like a bench player against the Falcons.
Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winslow had just four receptions in a season opening win and has reportedly been limited in practice this week due to a lingering knee injury. This seems like a “better safe than sorry”-type situation for a possibly injured player with limited upside.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
With a banged-up offensive line and blitz-happy opponent in the Tennessee Titans, expect Miller to have a larger role in the blocking game this week. Plus, with inexperienced quarterback Dennis Dixon still behind center, the Steelers will try to slow things down and rely on the running game to chew up the clock and churn out the yards.
San Francisco 49ers Defense
After getting lit up by the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers will try to regroup against the New Orleans Saints. Not exactly the easiest of offenses to try to stifle.
New York Giants Defense
Peyton Manning is a difficult man to stop when he’s simply going through the motions and trying to secure a victory. Following an opening day loss and a week’s worth of Super Bowl hangover questions, the reigning NFL MVP enters his Week 2 sibling battle with Brother Eli and the New York Giants with something to prove. This does not bode well for an inexperienced Giants secondary.