Win or lose in Week 1 of the 2012 fantasy football season, savvy owners are always looking for an edge each Sunday against their foes. We have three bits of "analysis" to go on: last week's performance, circumstantial trends in each player's history and our gut instinct.
Maybe your innards told you to sit Adrian Peterson last weekend. Or to start Mark Sanchez, despite his preseason woes. Perhaps your astrologer said the stars were in alignment for Robert Griffin III to have a splashy debut. Or you were advised that Matt Stafford was in for a career day against the Rams.
There will be no reading of the stars or dabbling in tarot cards here—just a list of 10 players I think are likely to cross the goal line in Week 2.
If one week of a season tells us anything, it says that Green Bay’s defense is worse than it was in 2011, which is almost statistically impossible.
It made 49ers QB Alex Smith look superhuman.
How’s it going to hold down a Bears offense that rang up 41 points and passed for 333 yards?
Marshall, reunited with former Broncos teammate Jay Cutler, caught nine balls for 119 yards a score in his Chicago debut. He’ll stretch the field Thursday against a Packers unit that, from Clay Matthews to A.J. Hawk to Charles Woodson, is living off its reputation.
Rivers was careful with the ball against the Raiders, a refreshing fantasy change from 2011.
What will another seasoned vet like Rivers do against it when Tennessee hits the road in Week 2?
Clearly, the Titans are still adjusting to life without Cortland Finnegan against the pass.
Worse, the defensive line only got to Brady once in a 34-13 loss. Though Rivers is playing with a shaky offensive line, he looked safe and workmanlike in a Monday night road win at Oakland.
He threw for more than 200 yards, a touchdown and—most importantly—no interceptions. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Rivers could top Brady’s effort against the Titans Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Patriots defense opens at home against Kevin Kolb, which is like setting a plate of red meat in front of a starving dog.
The Patriots defense paid mildly surprising dividends in Week 1 to fantasy owners, holding the Titans to 13 points and getting a touchdown of its own in the process.
It’s only going to get better at home in Foxboro this week against backup QB Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals.
Kolb has a history of being serviceable when coming off the bench, as he did Sunday when John Skelton went down against the Seahawks. Put him in the driver’s seat, however, and he yanks the car, er, offense into a guard rail.
If he can score on the road at Baltimore, The Law Firm can score at home against Cleveland.
Green-Ellis brought a lot of promise with him when he signed with Cincinnati in the offseason.
His 24 rushing touchdowns the last two years and his complete lack of fumbling the football guaranteed him a key role in the Bengals’ 2012 offense.
He rushed for 91 yards and a score against a tough Ravens defense on the road.
The Browns, ranked 30th against the run in 2011, gave up 110 rushing yards to Philly’s LeSean McCoy at home last Sunday. While Green-Ellis doesn’t have a consistent 100-yard history to him, he is a short-yardage scoring machine and figures to get some goal-line calls from the Bengals in front of the home fans.
The Rams were 10 seconds away from upsetting the Lions on the road Sunday, a sign that new coach Jeff Fisher is making inroads in rebuilding the Rams faster than we thought.
One of the reasons they stayed in the game to the end was Fisher’s dogged determination to have a run-first mentality. This is where Jackson enters the picture.
He only had 53 yards on 21 carries, but he had 21 of the 23 Rams rush attempts by a running back. That’s a refreshing one-back fantasy attack in a league by committee these days.
If Jackson’s going to get 25 touches a game (four pass receptions), he’s going to find the end zone. This weekend, the Rams open the home season against Washington, a defense that spent most of Week 1 defending the pass but still allowed two short-yardage rush scores.
Jackson’s a solid play.
Charles needs a touchdown to feel like he's truly recovered from his 2011 knee injury. A Bills defense that allowed 48 points in Week 1 may oblige him.
Charles ran the ball well against the Falcons in Week 1, netting 87 yards on 16 attempts (5.4 average).
Kansas City hits the road for a showdown with AFC rival Buffalo Sunday. The Bills gave up 118 rushing yards and a touchdown to the Jets in the opener while allowing a whopping 48 points overall.
The Chiefs won’t put up that sort of offensive show on the road, but Charles should get a handful of prime chances to end his TD drought.
Doubt Peterson's once-in-a-generation talent at your peril.
Three days ago, putting Peterson on this list would have been scoffed at.
Now everyone who benched him (including me) looks like a gambler that couldn’t handle sitting at the big boys’ table after a 17-carry, 84-yard, two-touchdown performance against Jacksonville.
A.P. had a total of 18 touches against the Jaguars, and his workload will only increase against a Colts defense that ranked 29th in the league in 2011 against the run and gave up 114 yards and three rushing TDs to the Bears in the opener.
Sorry, owners who drafted Toby Gerhart, but it looks like he’s been relegated to the backup role yet again.
Though he spent much of the NFL season-opener watching balls sail through this hands, Cruz is a solid start this week as the Giants host the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay did intercept Cam Newton twice in a soggy win last Sunday, but it also allowed 23 completions and nearly 300 yards.
Cruz still managed to lead the Giants in receiving against the Cowboys in Week 1 (six catches for 58 yards on 11 targets) despite the dropped balls.
Like the Saints, there will be a sense of urgency in the Giants on Sunday to guard against losing the first two games of the season at home. Expect the champs, and Cruz, to put forth a better effort in Week 2.
Graham is a strong favorite to find the end zone again in Week 2.
Graham had a sterling opener against the Redskins, with six catches for 85 yards and a 20-yard touchdown catch.
Even more impressive was that Drew Brees targeted him 10 times. Only wideout Marques Colston was aimed at on more occasions.
This week, the 0-1 Saints are on the road at Carolina and are desperate to avoid an 0-2 start.
The Panthers defense allowed Josh Freeman to complete 67 percent of his passes in a Week 1 loss, and Brees is no Josh Freeman. Expect many targets and another big day from the Saints’ superstar tight end.
There’s no hotter receiver play in Week 2 of the NFL season than Wayne, who was targeted an incredible 18 times by QB Andrew Luck in the Colts’ opener against the Bears.
Wayne caught nine of those attempts for 135 yards, and while he didn’t score, there’s no question he’s Luck’s go-to guy.
And there’s no question what defense such a combination would like to see enter the Lucas Oil Stadium this week—the Minnesota Vikings.
The purple was downright awful defending the pass in 2011, surrendering an embarrassing 34 pass TDs. They didn’t start 2012 much better, allowing 260 yards, two TDs and no picks to Blaine Gabbert.
Luck-to-Wayne should be a familiar refrain for fantasy owners this Sunday.