Fantasy Football Week 2: 10 to Start, 10 to Sit
Welcome to Week 2 of Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em. It’s easy to say you should start Tom Brady, Ray Rice, Calvin Johnson or Rob Gronkowski each week.
But the task here isn’t just to forecast how high the biggest stars will go in the sky. It’s to find the tweeners, the maybe/maybe not starters who could go either way on your fantasy team and possibly give you enough analysis and gut feeling to point you to a win.
And as an additional bonus to me, since I’m not taking any money from you, you can’t sue me…:)
Sit 'Em: QB Joe Flacco, at Eagles
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Let him light up the Eagles defense this weekend, on the road, and then I’ll consider the possibility. Philly’s secondary picked Brandon Weeden off four times Sunday. Life at The Link is a bit rougher than the comforts of home.
If he’s truly arrived, Flacco will star again this Sunday.
Start 'Em: Patriots Defense, vs. Cardinals
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New England’s defense held the Titans to 13 points and scored a TD of its own on opening day. And look who’s coming to dinner this week. Why, it’s Kevin Kolb, the Arizona backup, the turnover factory and the Philadelphia Eagles’ trade equivalent of Herschel Walker.
He may have beaten Seattle Sunday, but Kolb’s one of those QBs who’s great as a backup but spontaneously combusts as the starter.
If John Skelton is cleared and tries to make a go of it, the difference will be negligible. No, the Patriots defense isn’t an elite unit, but it’ll play like it for the second straight week Sunday.
Sit 'Em: WR DeSean Jackson, vs. Ravens
It's not Jackson that owners need to worry about this weekend as much as it is his quarterback.
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The Ravens defense got an Ed Reed pick six against the Bengals and hit Andy Dalton repeatedly, so this appears to be a match made in turnover heaven. What’s the old algebra truth? A negative times a negative equals a positive? Not if you’re DeSean Jackson, it doesn’t.
He could get lucky and cross the goal line, but if you’ve got a better WR play, do it.
Start 'Em: QB Eli Manning, vs. Bucs
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Peyton’s brother can’t be happy about losing the league’s season-opening game, at home, as the defending champions. He’s going to be determined to get the Giants a win and avoid an 0-2 home stand.
The Bucs represent the fodder for that reality. Manning didn’t play poorly against the Cowboys (21-of-32 for 213, one TD, no interceptions), but the pressure’s going to be on to avoid an early-season hole, and No. 10 always seems to do well when the heat’s on.
Sit 'Em: WR Laurent Robinson, vs. Texans
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When Robinson and his 11 TD catches in 2011 left Dallas for Jacksonville in 2012, most owners cooled substantially toward him. He did play well in the Jags’ opener, catching five passes for 66 yards.
Long-term, I think he’s still going to be valuable, but not this week against a Texas pass defense that ranked third in the league in 2011, and picked off the Dolphins three times last Sunday.
Start 'Em: TE Jimmy Graham, at Panthers
Graham plays well when the Panthers are the opponent.
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Graham posted six catches for 85 yards and a score in the Saints’ season-opening loss at home. Carolina’s secondary was pretty stubborn against the Bucs last week, allowing just one Josh Freeman scoring strike.
Sit 'Em: QB Mark Sanchez, at Steelers
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It would probably be easier to just list every Jets scoring option in the Sit ‘Em category, but it wouldn’t be fair to the other fantasy studs in for a long weekend.
Sanchez, passed over entirely in many drafts, tossed three scores last week at the Bills’ expense. But away from Jersey, he’s a .500 fantasy QB with 25 TDs and 25 interceptions.
This week’s foe, Pittsburgh, will be in a foul mood after losing its opener in Denver. Keep your emotions in check when it comes to Sanchez, especially if you’re a Jets fan.
Start 'Em: RB Stevan Ridley, vs. Cardinals
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The Patriots appear to have found their replacement for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Ridley rushed for 125 yards at Tennessee in a season-opening rout, and now he’s at home against a Cardinals defense traveling the width of the country, three time zones, and gave up 85 rushing yards to a guy with back spasm issues in Week 1.
New England will likely feast on Arizona Sunday; make sure you put Ridley on your plate if you’re joining the buffet.
Sit 'Em: RB DeMarco Murray, at Seahawks
Until he breaks out with a huge TD game, Murray is a question mark.
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I’m staying on this Murray Doesn’t Score hill until he starts proving otherwise.
The man who made Felix Jones irrelevant rushed for 131 yards in Week 1, but alas, failed to score for the 13th time in 15 career games. And he’s never scored away from home.
Seattle’s defense only gave up 10 rushing TDs in 2011, and only surrendered 43 ground yards to Arizona last weekend. It’s hard not to start him, I know. But realize the trend you’re bucking when you do.
Start 'Em: RB Adrian Peterson, at Colts
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Every owner who benched him got bitten for it in Week 1.
Many will put Peterson back in the starting lineup this week without considering he’s on the road, where no one cares about his emotional return from a knee injury. But I'd still start him, especially after the Colts’ run defense gave up 114 yards and the unit as a whole surrendered 41 points Sunday.
Two TDs may be a stretch, but there’s no reason A.P. can’t find pay dirt once.
Sit 'Em: RB Kevin Smith, at 49ers
Smith was a pleasant surprise against the Rams, but the 49ers are another matter entirely.
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If Cedric Benson can only muster 18 yards on the ground at home against the hammer known as the 49ers defense, what’s retread Kevin Smith going to do?
Start 'Em: RB C.J. Spiller, vs. Chiefs
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Fred Jackson goes down with another injury, and Spiller makes a seamless return to the No. 1 RB job with a 14-carry, 169-yard, one-touchdown effort against the Jets. That’s 12 yards a carry on the road.
Buffalo returns home Sunday to entertain a Chiefs defense that looks lost in every aspect of its game. If you’ve got Spiller on your team and don’t elevate him to starting status, then trade him to someone who’ll appreciate him.
Sit 'Em: RB Darren McFadden, at Dolphins
Lots of touches, little return for McFadden owners in Week 1. The Dolphins play the run tough and may provide more of the same.
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McFadden was largely a disappointment in the opening week, rushing for just 32 yards. He also failed to score despite an end-loader of touches.
Things aren’t trending to get much better this weekend in Miami. Though Arian Foster scored twice against them, the Dolphins held him to just 79 yards rushing on 26 carries (3.0 average). From here it looks like D-Mac’s in for a repeat of his Monday night performance on the ground: plenty of touches, but not for a lot of yards. Scoring on a pass reception seems more likely.
Start 'Em: QB Matt Ryan, vs. Broncos
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All the preseason talk about Atlanta gearing up the passing game with new OC Dirk Koetter wasn’t just hype.
Ryan threw for 299, three scores and ran for another on the road outdoors at Kansas City, and he’s a much better indoor player. Denver’s defense allowed two Ben Roethlisberger TD tosses in Week 1.
Sit 'Em: RB Shonn Greene, at Steelers
Greene is fantasy football's box of chocolates.
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Greene is the personification of inconsistent consistency.
After rushing for nearly 100 yards and scoring against the Bills last Sunday, Greene owners should be prepared for a middling effort in the 35-45 yard area with no TDs this weekend.
Why? Well, playing on the road against a smarting Steelers defense is one reason. Another is that the Jets running back is a fantasy enigma. Simple as that.
Start 'Em: QB Andrew Luck, vs. Vikings
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If your draft didn’t result in an elite QB but you’ve got Luck on your side, start him in Week 2. The Colts rookie ranked sixth among all passers in Week 1 after going 23-of-45 for 309 yards and a touchdown.
Yes, he was intercepted three times and lost a fumble. But this week he’s at home against a Vikings secondary that allowed 34 TD passes in 2011 and picked off just eight balls. It also gave up 260 yards and two TDs without a pick to Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert last week in the Metrodome.
Sit 'Em: QB Matthew Stafford, at 49ers
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Tell me you saw the fantasy football version of Apocalypse Now in Green Bay last Sunday.
San Francisco’s defense rendered the vaunted Packers impotent. It was stunning. A road trip to the Bay Area is the last thing Stafford needs after a three-interception game against the Rams in Week 1.
If I had another decent QB play this weekend I’d pull Stafford out.
Start 'Em: WR Reggie Wayne, vs. Vikings
Wayne was targeted 18 times by Andrew Luck last week.
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Take all of the previously mentioned good vibrations about starting Andrew Luck, and double down on them. Wayne was targeted 18 times by Luck last Sunday—18!—and caught nine of them for 135 yards. He was the top-ranked WR in Week 1, and should post even more dazzling stats against a pedestrian Vikings secondary.
Sit 'Em: RB Chris Johnson, at Chargers
It's a fair question to ask: Is Johnson even playing hard anymore?
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I’ve all but given up on this once-dynamic back, who seemed to lose his edge once his big payday arrived.
He was tied for 93rd in rushing last week after his 11-carry, 4-yard effort, and that was in front of the home folks. Sunday he’s in San Diego against a Chargers defense that only gave up eight rushing TDs last season, and held Darren McFadden in check Monday night. I don’t see any change coming.
Start 'Em: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, vs. Browns
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Green-Ellis averaged more than five yards a carry and scored a TD Monday night against a Ravens defense that ranked second against the run in 2011.
This Sunday he’ll play at home versus a Browns defense than was 30th in run defense last year, and gave up 150 yards and five yards a carry in Week 1. Green-Ellis is a huge candidate for a breakout game.