Fantasy Football Week 2 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em Decisions

Craig RondinoneCorrespondent ISeptember 13, 2012

Stop flipping that quarter to decide which running back or wide receiver to use in your fantasy football lineup! You only have a 50-50 chance of the quarter making the correct call. I am right somewhere between 51 and 55 percent of the time—at least.  

It can be difficult to predict which players to start or sit this early in the season. I personally did not think Cincinnati’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis would find the running room he did against the Baltimore Ravens, nor did I predict New York’s Darrelle Revis would get concussed to allow Buffalo’s Stevie Johnson to score a touchdown in garbage time after Johnson was invisible all day. 

But in the fantasy football business you have to make lineup decisions every week whether you like it or not unless you draft a superteam that just runs itself, so if you need a tiebreaker between two guys battling it out for one starting spot, allow me to help.    

Here are my takes on some of this week’s start ‘em or sit ‘em decisions: 


Victor Cruz, New York Giants (WR)

Cruz could not have done more wrong during New York’s season opener against Dallas. He dropped three passes, committed two penalties and made fantasy owners wonder why they passed over Andre Johnson and Julio Jones for this one-year wonder pipsqueak.

Cruz matches up against an improved yet questionable Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary that still allowed Carolina’s Cam Newton to throw for 300 yards last Sunday, even though the Bucs picked him off twice. Steve Smith faced little resistance while running his pass patterns.



The question is not if Cruz will get open. The dude is uncoverable. But will he hold onto the ball once it is thrown to him?  I do not see two slippery-handed games in a row. Maybe he can borrow some Stickum from Lester Hayes. 120 yards and a touchdown sounds about right.        

Verdict: Start ‘em!


Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (QB)

You knew Cutler, who slayed millions of fantasy owners in 2011 between the two games he threw for under 125 yards and his season-ending hand injury, was going to be a fantasy force again once Devin Hester and the retired Roy Williams were supplanted by Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver.   

Cutler threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts despite starting the game going 1-for-10. He looks like a new man now that he has real receivers and not converted cornerbacks or washed-up wideouts as his main targets.  

This Thursday night he gets to face a Green Bay defense that ranked dead last in pass defense last year and allowed San Francisco’s Alex Smith to pick it apart like he was Joe Montana’s more accurate cousin. Smith went 20-for-26 for 211 yards, two touchdowns and a 125.6 rating and made the Packers D look horrible. Charles Woodson, where are you?   


It will be hard for Green Bay to adjust and improve its pass defense in three days, and Cutler and his receivers are much more talented than Smith and his pass-catching crew. Cutler is primed for another monster game. 


Verdict: Start ‘em!


Kevin Ogletree, Dallas Cowboys (WR)

Being the No. 3 WR in Dallas is like being the leading girl in a James Bond film. No matter who gets plugged into the role, that person will always look good.

Ogletree, who went from being anonymous to being one of the most popular pickups on fantasy waiver wires this week, is enjoying the single-covered life while secondaries focus their manpower on Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, and he is just waiting for Bryant and Austin to re-injure themselves so he can get more playing time.

Ogletree is not as talented as Dallas’ No. 3 WR from last year, Laurent Robinson, though, who scored 11 times during his breakout campaign. And Ogletree will be facing the Seattle Seahawks secondary this week, which is healthier and deeper than the Giants group he faced. 

It is time for Ogletree to come back down to earth. He may make some noise later in the season when Austin pulls his hammy or Bryant is suspended for eluding his bodyguards for a night of debauchery, but Ogletree should be quiet this weekend.   


Verdict: Sit ‘em!


Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (WR)


Peyton Manning may throw 20 yards downfield as often nowadays as David Letterman hugs Jay Leno, but since Thomas can run so well after the catch, it does not matter much, hence the 110 yards he racked up against the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday night. 

Atlanta’s top cornerback Brent Grimes suffered a season-ending injury during the opening week, so there will be no one around to shut Thomas down this Monday night. And with another week under his championship belt, Manning might attempt a 30-yard pass to Thomas for laughs. The Denver-Atlanta contest should be a shootout, with Thomas supplying much of the firepower.   
Verdict: Start ‘em! 


Shonn Greene, New York Jets (RB)

Greene carried the ball 27 times against the Buffalo Bills and amazingly only had problems peeling himself off the turf on two or three occasions. More importantly, he amassed 94 yards and scored a touchdown in between all the Mark Sanchez passes and Tim Tebow runs.  


The Jets ground-and-pound offense has not had much grounding or pounding the last couple times they have played in Pittsburgh, however. The Steelers ranked eighth against the run in 2011 and only allowed Denver’s backs an average of 3.5 yards per carry last Sunday evening. 

Pittsburgh’s defensive line is normally as injury-prone as, well, its offensive line. But for now the D-line is intact and should give the Jets fits whenever Greene is handed the ball. Let’s not call new offensive tackle Austin Howard the next Tony Boselli just yet. 18 carries for 65 yards and no scores is what Greene is in for.    
Verdict: Sit ‘em!



New England Patriots defense

The Patriots defense was an 11-man sieve last season when they ranked 31st in total defense. But they upgraded their unit by using all their main draft picks on defensive players, and head coach Bill Belichick is not renowned as a defensive genius for nothing. 

New England stifled Tennessee running back Chris Johnson so badly you would have thought he had held out during the preseason again. The Pats defense had two sacks, two turnovers and one touchdown. Rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower infused the defense with new speed, size, playmaking ability and life. This will not be the second-worst unit in football two years straight. 


Who does New England entertain for its home opener this week?  Why it is the Kevin Kolb-led Arizona Cardinals, fresh off a hardly awe-inspiring offensive performance! Arizona’s offensive line opened no holes for its running backs (20 rushes for 43 yards) and got quarterback John Skelton injured. What it does for an encore could be a fantasy windfall for any fantasy owner who uses the Patriots defense.    

Verdict: Start ‘em! 


Baltimore Ravens defense

I know Michael Vick looked as awkward passing against Cleveland as Clint Eastwood looked talking to that empty chair at the RNC convention. The scatterbrained scrambler looked rusty and off his game in Week 1 and can be intercepted and sacked multiple times when he plays so erratically.

Yet between Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy, the Eagles have as many weapons as any NFL team. Would you be surprised to see Philly go off for 450 total yards and 30 points?  Would you be shocked to see a Terrell Suggs-less pass rush have trouble tracking Vick down?  Not this pundit.

I would search for other options depending on the rules of your league. The Ravens could allow a bunch of points and yards, but if your league’s rules are weighted more toward sacks and turnovers, then Baltimore could still be a viable play. I think Vick and his pack of speed demons are ready to fly high this weekend, though, and any defense would have issues stopping them.       

Verdict: Sit ‘em!