Week one of the fantasy football season is in the books. Adrian Peterson dominated, Jay Cutler disappointed, and anybody who got drunk and accidentally drafted a Denver Bronco is taking a serious look in the Tuesday morning mirror wondering why the hell they ever thought Kyle Orton could lead anything outside of an Interception Anonymous meeting. But, just like in the pros, fantasy players can't harp on the week that was, but rather focus on the one that is. So, here's a look at all the week two match-ups starting with a surprise "must sit" in San Diego.
Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Start - Despite a recent argument with Ernie about getting crumbs in the bed, Sesame Street look-a-like and Ravens quarterback Joe "one eyebrow is more than enough" Flacco picked up right where he left off last season with a 300-yard, three-touchdown performance to start the 2009 campaign. With the Chargers' 31st ranked pass defense from last year, this should be a great opportunity for the Delaware alum (yes, Delaware has a college football team), Todd Heap, and Mark Clayton to enjoy big days. Also look for Ray Rice to build on his 100-plus yard performance against a San Diego defensive line that got man-handled by Oakland in their opener.
Phillip Rivers is racing up the charts past Gary Bettman, Boston sports fans, and Jorge Posada on the list of least likeable sports figures. However, he is a talented quarterback and Baltimore's defense looked like it was clearly missing some of its departed stars in week one, and until they gel as a unit, guys like Rivers should be able to take advantage. He, Antonio Gates, and Vincent Jackson (combined for 150 yards and a touchdown week one) will test the newly-revamped Ravens early and often. Darren Sproles looks like he may be the starting running back by the end of the year and will be a consistent receiving threat when Rivers checks down due to Ravens blitzes
Sit - Ladanian Tomlinson looks old. In fact, against the Raiders it seemed as though Norv Turner was just getting LT's carries out of the way instead of utilizing the NFL's single season touchdown leader. If the 13 carries he got in the opener are any indication of his role on the team, its unlikely that he'll do much damage against a still-powerful Ravens' D-line. Plus, he twisted an ankle and won't be 100 percent. Until Chris Chambers catches a ball this season, he should be sat.
Start - It's the team that passed on Vince Young against the team that regrets taking him. If this were the WWE, Reggie Bush would be a guest referee and Steve Austin would somehow end up smashing a beer on the 50-yard line. That is of course, if Young wasn't holding a clipboard and a seven-month prescription for Zanex. Houston is coming off of a very tough week one loss to the New York Jets and will be desperately looking to avoid going 0-2 after being dubbed the team -du-jour by many pundits. Only problem is last year in week two the Texans lost 31-12 to the Titans, which is bad news for Matt Schaub, who threw three picks and no touchdowns in the game. Steve Slaton, however, rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown and should put up similar numbers in the 2009 bout--avenging an embarrassing week one performance. As always, Andre Johnson is a must start. We don't care how bad his stats were last week.
On the Titans side of the ball, expect a big performance from Chris Johnson. Last season when held to under 60 yards (as he was last week), two of the three games following he rushed for over 125 yards. Houston gave up 190 yards rushing last week, which may finally open things up for Lendale White as well. Justin Gage is coming off a great fantasy performance (7 receptions, 78 yards, and one touchdown) and is worth starting in leagues with three receivers.
Sit - Matt Schaub struggled in the opening game against the Jets and had three interceptions last year against the Titans. This should keep Owen Daniels on the bench too. Kenny Britt also stepped up in week one and may be a consistent threat for the Titans, but isn't a starter just quite yet.
Start - Sure, beating the St.. Louis Rams is a little like picking on a defenseless child who's blind in one eye, severely overweight, and waiting for Shawn Kemp's child support checks. But damned if Matt Hasselbeck didn't look good doing it. The only player to ever be struck by lightning twice (true story) threw for three touchdowns in his first game back from injury (two of which were to emerging star John Carlson--who will benefit from a mismatch against the Niners' linebacking corps) and brought Nate Burleson out of retirement. Ok, he wasn't retired but he might as well have been. This also should be the type of game where Hasselbeck starts looking to TJ Houshmandzadeh as San Francisco's 20th ranked pass defense from last year has problems covering long receivers. Julius Jones, winner of last week's "Wow, that guy is still in the league? Award, put up 100-plus yards and a long touchdown run in the season opener and went huge in weeks two and three of 2008.
Sit - Seattle's defense may become one of the better units in the NFC this season, which shouldn't help a struggling 49er's passing game that didn't have one receiver or tight end get in the end zone against the awful Cardinals secondary. Expect eight man boxes against Frank Gore and tough matchups for Vernon Davis and Isaac Bruce. San Francisco may pull out a win, but their offense won't be the reason why.
Start - No matter how well the Carolina defense plays, it's tough to keep points off the board when you're limp-armed quarterback exercises Lindsay Lohan-quality decision making, and racks up turnovers faster than you can say "Seriously? $42 million for that guy?" Last week the Panthers defense played better than the 38-10 score indicated, as they started too many series in their own territory. Look for Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Tony Gonzalez to capitalize in the red zone. Plus Roddy White should move past his mediocre week one fantasy performance, considering he averaged over 80 yards per game against the Cats as a rookie. Jerious Norwood has also been cleared to play and emerged as a check down threat for Ryan with five receptions in his week one game. He should be considered in point-per-reception leagues or extremely deep ones.
If Carolina's passing game was a dog, John Fox would have taken it out back and shot it by now. Thus, he will be looking to the run, which is good news for DeAngelo Williams owners, as the veteran back will go against a Falcons' squad that gave up 4.4 yards per carry against a similar Miami rushing attack. Jonathan Stewart sat out Wednesday's practice, but is probable for Sunday. He's a decent play as a third RB this week.
Sit - Michael Jenkins looked better than expected in the opener, but is still too far down Ryan's touchdown checklist to garner too many fantasy points. Until Delhomme can sort things out, we recommend sitting anybody associated with the Carolina Panthers' passing game like Steve Smith. We know it's hard to sit one of your top picks in week two, but if you've got anyone on your bench you think can get you 10 points then go with them. When AJ Feeley gets signed as the answer, things are going Buffalo Bills on a Monday night badly. Might be time to start shopping around Smith before things get really ugly.
Start - Finally the Lions get to play in front of an understanding hometown crowd that just watched its hockey team lose in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals, their basketball team make a franchise-ruining trade, and their unemployment rate creep above Matthew Stafford's passer rating. Basically, with the exception of minimal Matt Millen sightings, things aren't going too well in the Motor City. Expect Adrian Peterson to deliver another dominant performance as the early MVP candidate is coming off a 180-yard, three-touchdown performance and broke 100 yards in both games against the Lions last year. Brett Favre (much to the chagrin of Packers fans and decent human beings) may have a break out game, as the Lions secondary looked minor league last week while allowing six TD passes. This should also mean a nice week for Visanthe Shiancoe and Percy Harvin (who may be too fast for this Detroit defense.)
Calvin Johnson barely needs a quarterback, which is good because he hasn't had one for his entire NFL career. The athletic freak caught three passes for 90 yards last week, and was one misstep away from a TD. Considering the likelihood of the Lions playing catch-up yet again, he should see a good amount of lame duck jump balls. Chester Taylor is suffering from the Jessie Spano effect. Looks good, tons of upside, but situated behind a once in a generation talent. Taylor is a great player who happens to be playing behind the best RB in the NFL. He only had 12 touches last week and shouldn't see much more in this one, but that's usually enough to make him worth starting as a third RB.
Sit - After a three-interception opener against a mediocre New Orleans' defense, teams are going to begin stacking the box and daring Matthew Stafford to throw. This does not bode well for running back Kevin Smith, who despite a week one touchdown only rushed for 20 yards on 15 carries. Sit him against the Williams Wall.
Start - Bengals fans watched the Bills-Patriots game Monday night wondering how Buffalo got so lucky. This team, despite the hundreds of hours Chad Ochocinco put into telling everyone how good they are, lost on a bobbled ball in the final minutes. This will work out well for Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Grant, and Greg Jennings owners who saw their players have good (but not great) week one performances against the Bears (taking away one long Jennings' TD pass). For players looking to add receiving depth to their fantasy roster, Donald Driver may be worth starting considering he had four receptions and dropped several more that could have gone for huge gains.
If Chad Ochocinco can avoid cheerleader proposals and ignore the sound of his career circling the drain, the aging receiver should be able to catch enough balls to make it worthwhile for fantasy owners. He snagged five receptions for 89 yards in week one and should do well as the Bengals play from behind most of the game.
Sit - Cedric Benson may have looked like his old, not "Blair Thomas quality draft bust" self in week one, but that will end against the Packers. Matt Forte only averaged 2.2 yards per carry against an improving Green Bay front that also forced Jay Cutler into four interceptions, which should also mean a sit week for an ailing Carson Palmer. Just in case anybody was thinking about starting DeShawn Wynn, think again. The backup running back only had three carries in week one and shouldn't see more in week two.
Start - Remember when this game used to mean something outside of police reports and offshore sportsbooks? Well, those times are gone, but Oakland looked surprisingly impressive in their Monday Night loss to the Chargers. It's a short week for the Raiders, but at this point in the season it shouldn't matter. Kansas City let Joe Flacco throw for 300 yards in week one, but don't expect JaMarcus Russell to do the same. He was 12 for 30 against the Chargers, so don't expect free swingin' Tommy Cable to put too much into the passing game. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush may have solid days, though. Both averaged four yards-per-carry last week and should see a lot of touches in game two. Zach Miller was the best player in the entire Charger-Raider game and may be a Pro Bowl selection now that Tony Gonzalez has switched conferences. With rookie receivers on Oakland's roster, the massive tight end should see a lot of balls. Louis Murphy isn't a starter yet, but should progress into a nice receiver as he looked great on Monday night.
Matt Cassel is still questionable for the home opener with a knee injury, and isn't necessarily a starter even if he is healthy. He did practice on Wednesday, though. The Chiefs offensive line looked awful last week, and with Richard Seymour playing his heart out, it seems like the Raiders will get a lot of pressure on whoever's taking the snaps for Kansas City. The only player worth starting this week is Dwayne Bowe as a third receiver, as he's become a consistent threat no matter how bad the Chiefs are.
Sit - JaMarcus Russell has two things going for him. Al Davis' insanity, and the fact that he was the number one overall pick in the draft last year. Take away any one of these and he's on the bench like a fat kid playing dodgeball. Darrius Heyward-Bay ran great routes in his NFL debut but couldn't bring down a single pass. It was almost painful to watch knowing that somewhere Michael Crabtree was sitting on his high horse, eating low-sodium pretzels, getting ready to sign a huge contract. Larry Johnson kicked off his NFL farewell tour last week with an 11 rush, 20 yard performance. It looked like he and Tyler Thigpen switched jerseys at halftime and nobody noticed.
Start- In the Patriots' miraculous Monday night win, Tom Brady didn't seem like he had a very effective game until the fourth quarter... until you look at the stat line--379 yards and two touchdowns, ON AN OFF DAY! Once he and Randy Moss (12 receptions for 141 yards) get back into rhythm the fantasy results will be epic. For point-per-reception leagues Wes Welker (who you get the impression sits alone at the front of the team bus hoping none of the defensive players give him a hard time) is approaching Fantasy Hall of Fame status with yet another double digit reception game to open the season. And now that Ben Watson has his quarterback's confidence (he caught both touchdowns during the comeback), the athletic tight end should be a consistent threat. It's also worth noting that the Patriots threw the ball over 75 times in two 2008 tilts with the Jets.
In New York's last game against the Pats they put up 34 points thanks to a 100-yard, one touchdown performance by Thomas Jones and a great showing by Dustin Keller--both of whom enter week two coming off nice opening day games. Both should excel along with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. Leon Washington and Jerricho Cotchery both played well last week, but shouldn't be started unless you're in a three running back/four wide receiver format.
Sit - Bill Belichick doesn't seem like the kind of guy who gives second chances. So when the Patriots only averaged 3.2 yards per carry against the Bills in week one, what are the odds he lets Laurence Maroney rush the ball 20 times? More or less than Drew Bledsoe signing a Vinny Testaverde-type deal with the team?
Start- What's the difference between Drew Brees and the Tuesday night stripper crew downtown? About six touchdowns per game and the stench of poor life choices in the dressing room. Brees may be one of the best fantasy quarterbacks of all time and that shouldn't stop, even against an Eagles' defense that looked scary good in week one. Just count on three TDs instead of six. Additionally, Philadelphia's offense will likely feature Kevin Kolb at the helm. Though we wouldn't be surprised if McNabb is feeling the heat and starts anyway. If Kolb plays, look for lots of short fields for the saints, making Jeremy Shockey and Marques Colston shine again. Pierre Thomas says he's good to go for Sunday, but is still a game time decision, and the Saints coaches are saying that Mike Bell will still get some touches. Either way, expect Reggie Bush to capitalize against an Eagle's defense that gave up 75-plus yards receiving to the Panthers backfield. The Eagles quarterback situation is an absolute mess right now, which means the team will look to Brian Westbrook to carry the load. Though you may see the NFL's first 11 man box in this one.
Sit- Kevin Kolb... stop laughing... probably won't do much. He never attempted a pass over two and a half yards while filling in for an injured Donovan McNabb in week one and now the Saints get to study both of his game films to prepare. Though McNabb isn't officially out of Sunday's game, Kolb has taken all of the first team's snaps, which is bad news for the entire Eagle's receiving corps that struggled mightily in week one. DeSean Jackson won't return a kick for a TD every week, so sit him. Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, and Devery Henderson are all interchangeable, making it hard to recommend starting any of them as anything but a third receiver, keeping in mind that it could pay huge dividends.
Start - Nothing says "bounce back week" quite like a home game against the St. Louis Rams, which was the only team to get shut out in week one. Jason Campbell is a start this week if you need him, but if he doesn't put up at least 200 yards and two touchdowns it may be time to start checking the waiver wire. This bodes well for Santana Moss and Chris Cooley owners. Clinton Portis should also have a nice week, as Julius Jones escaped fantasy purgatory and rushed for 111 yards against the Rams. You know the expression "the only certainty is death, taxes and another fake Brett Favre retirement?" Better add "betting against the Rams" to that for the time being.
As per usual Stephen Jackson is the only starter on the Rams, but if he hasn't had a big game by week three it's time to press the panic button. The Skins are reasonably good against the run, but Jackson's ability to bounce outside and catch passes make him worth a start.
Sit - Laurent Robinson looked like the Rams' best receiver last week, and he seemed to have a better connection with Marc Bulger than Donnie Avery. We wouldn't start any of them unless we were desperate.
Start- The Jaguars try to avoid going 0-2 for the second consecutive year as they welcome the defending NFC Champion Cardinals (that actually happened last year) into Jacksonville. Maurice Jones-Drew put up 97 yards and a touchdown in week one against the Colts defense and should be able to do similar damage at home where he performs well. Last week the Cardinals let 49ers back Frank Gore get loose in the flat for some screen passes and we're guessing the Jags picked up on it watching film.
Kurt Warner has entered the 2009 season a little less spectacular than his Super Bowl run, but still showing glimpses of greatness. This week against a Jaguars team that gave up 300 yards to Peyton Manning, Warner should be able to spread the ball around to Larry Fitzgerald (71 yards and a touchdown last week) and Tim Hightower, who has become a surprising threat out of the backfield. If you're in point-per-reception leagues, get him in your lineup. Anquan Boldin is listed as probable, which means he'll play, and you should start him.
Sit - David Garrard looked like a slightly less overweight fish out of water in week one, amassing 122 of the least effective yards you'll ever see with no touchdowns or exciting moments. Arizona's improving secondary could provide him with another bad day. Torry Holt is a marginal third receiver, but that's about it. No need to play Marcedes Lewis with so many other options out there. Beanie Wells had a decent performance in his first career game (28 yards at 4.4 per carry) but clearly isn't seeing the ball enough to make an impact. Plus, the Jags held the Colts to just a shade over two yards per rush last week.
Start - Most NFL franchises would be morally crippled by a one point Monday night loss like the one the Bills suffered against the Patriots. But in Buffalo, it takes a little more than a fumbled kickoff or four straight embarrassing Super Bowl losses to get them down. It's a short week for the Bills, but that just means less time to harp over the loss, but hopefully more time to practice not fumbling. Fred Jackson (who finally broke the top 10 of the NFL Jackson power rankings) established himself as an all-purpose threat against the Patriots with 150 total yards and a touchdown. Expect him to be the focal point of the Bills' offense in week two, so start him. You only have two weeks left before Marshawn Lynch returns.
Cadillac Williams looked real good against the Cowboys with 100 yards to go with his touchdown. We did notice that he seemed to get up a little gimpy after his longest run, and we question his durability. Derrick Ward waits in the wings, and gets enough touches that he's worth a third RB spot. He had 62 yards and a TD with just 12 runs last week.
Sit - Trent Edwards avoided playing like Trent Edwards in the season opener with two touchdown passes. However, against the Bucs' fourth-ranked pass defense from 2008, and a front line that continues to pressure quarterbacks, this is not the week to put faith in the guy who watched his game of the year disappear faster than post-game Tom Brady. Also bench Lee Evans and Terrell Owens isn't worth much more than a third WR spot. Neither looked good against the Pats, and Tampa Bay's defense will be looking to avenge an uncharacteristically poor start to the season.
The Bills' defense held Tom Brady in check for nearly three and a half quarters. What are the odds Byron Leftwich gets going? Slightly more, or a little less than Kellen Winslow going the entire season without an annoying, yet adorable temper tantrum? Expect the Bills to put pressure on Leftwich, forcing him into bad decisions. Michael Clayton is turning into a great guy to have on your roster at this point, but not a solid to choice to start this week. Antonio Bryant looks like he's still not 100 percent healthy.
Start - If defense, minimal scoring, and awkward camera shots of Jay Cutler looking terrified on the sidelines are your cup of tea, this battle of franchises that suffered devastating week one injuries to their star defensive players is a must-watch. After an opening performance week that could only be described as "Oh come on, you're killing my fantasy team," Willie Parker will look to rebound against a Bears' defense still reeling from the loss of Brian Urlacher (who was probably scheduled to be on the Madden 2011 cover.) Expect Parker to attack the middle early setting up the play action and quick screen passes. This should set up a nice play-action looks for Ben Roethlisberger, who threw 43 times in week one for over 350 yards. Expect solid games from Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller, and Hines Ward.
Sit - Matt Forte is a fantasy stud, but he didn't look like one last week against Green Bay, and it won't get any easier against the Steelers stout run defense (with or without Troy Polamalu). Last week Chris Johnson was only able to muster up 57 yards, so expect Forte to put up similar numbers. Jay Cutler is an interesting proposition this week. Tennessee proved you could pass on the Steelers last week, and Cutler has never looked as bad as he did against the Pack. We have this feeling that Cutler could cut loose, but we're not willing to risk it after week one. Earl Bennett clearly emerged as Cutler's go-to guy despite Devin Hester's long TD. So goes Cutler, so goes these guys.
Start - Um, there has to be somebody from either team to recommend starting. Maybe Terrell Davis for old times sake? Jamal Lewis looked strong in week one, and we think he'll be good for at least 80 yards and a TD here. There, that's better.
Sit- You think the Broncos practiced that zany deflection play before they scored an improbable win against the Bungles? If you watched any of that game then you know it's pretty clear that they don't practice at all. Kyle Orton will struggle to put up 125 yards this week (even against the Browns), so Brandon Marshall is only good for a flex spot at this point. We'd honestly start Eddie Royal before him. For Cleveland, if Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco couldn't put up more than seven points, what are the odds Brady Quinn and that guy cashing Braylon Edwards' paychecks can get it done?
We recommend staying away from this game. It's going to be ugly.
Start - Fresh off a breakup with Yoko Simpson, Tony Romo entered the 2009 season with a three touchdown bang against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that made everyone forget about the punter-restricting stadium Jerry Jones spent the Norwegian GDP building. Romo (who started 2008 with two straight 300 yard games against NFC East opponents) usually plays well in nationally televised games and put up 244 yards, and two touchdowns in a win over the Giants in week 15 last year. Since the Giants' front seven should effectively kill the Cowboys' rush, it could mean a full-on aerial assault utilizing Roy Williams and Jason Witten. Keep in mind that Williams got most of his points from one play last week. For deep leagues or riskier players, Patrick Crayton should have another solid performance.
Though he may have the charisma of a grass stain, Eli Manning is as efficient as it comes. He completed 70 percent of his passes against an improved Redskins defense in week one and should get the green light to throw against the Cowboys because it will be difficult to run. Hakeem Nicks is out for this game, which makes tight end Kevin Boss even more valuable.
Sit - Brandon Jacobs looked awful last week. We're talking Scott Mitchell with the Lions type bad. Take away his one 15-yard run, and he rushed 15 times for 31 yards. Plus, with Ahmad Bradshaw looking like he's going to split the carries with the bruising Saluki, Jacobs will need to start averaging nearly six yards per carry to become fantasy relevant. Steve Smith and Mario Manningham are worth hanging onto as the season progresses, but neither are consistent enough to start at this point.
Start- Wow, Peyton Manning playing on national television? That only happens maybe seven or eight times per year. Better set the Tivo and break out the Jeff Saturday jerseys. Anthony Gonzalez is out with a knee injury (and will be for several weeks), which means even though he'll be seeing a lot of double teams, Reggie Wayne will catch a ton of balls with Dallas Clark helping to shoulder the load. Clark has to do better than week one. Normally losing a receiver hurts, but Manning threw for 300 yards against a talented Jags defense last week and is always a dangerous threat with that extra day to prepare.
Sit - Led by Chad Pennington (who actually looks physically afraid of the football), the Dolphins only mustered seven points against the Falcons in week one, barely gaining 250 total yards. This week shouldn't be much better going against 2008's seventh-best scoring defense that held Jacksonville to 12 points in the season opener. Ronnie Brown seems like a 50-yards-per-game player with one or two big games in him, while Ted Ginn Jr. has never had back-to-back 75-yard receiving games. Definite bench material.
Subsequently, the Colts rushing game seems to be their offensive weak link. Joseph Adai (remember when he was a fantasy first round pick that one year?) hasn't broke 70 yards in any of his last five starts.