Week 2 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Smart Matchup Plays, Sleepers and More
With just one week in the books, it's hard to really say we are seeing trends. Even things that seem like trends (like, say Peyton Manning throwing for seven touchdowns) sometimes might not be.
Still, we can take a longer look at the games and parse some important information with what we see.
Before we get into the week's "starts" and "sits," we should remember that now is not the time to panic. Just because a player did badly or surprisingly well does not mean you have to toss out your roster and scrap your draft.
No, patience is key. Sure, make some changes with the end of your bench—but don't go bonkers.
It's one week. Save the panic for a little later in the season.
Now, on to this week's players you have to have in your lineup and those you'd better avoid.
Sit: Carson Palmer vs. Detroit Lions Pass Rush
Carson Palmer looked pretty good against the St. Louis Rams, doing the one thing the last few Arizona quarterbacks were unable to do—find Larry Fitzgerald.
That said, the Cardinals offensive line is still a very real issue, having allowed four sacks by the Rams defense, as well as seven quarterback hits.
The Lions generated three sacks, but also hit Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder six times.
The combination of an iffy offensive line and a powerful Lions defensive front is a bad one for Palmer's fantasy GMs.
Avoid him this week.
Start: Mike Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson vs. San Diego Chargers Defense
While the San Diego Chargers looked better defensively for the most part against the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football (part two), the Philadelphia Eagles offense was ridiculous.
As long as he's healthy, Mike Vick will be a very dangerous fantasy starter for his GMs. His pass yards weren't epic—just 203—but he threw two touchdowns and ran for another one as well.
LeSean McCoy was unbelievable with 189 total yards and a touchdown on the ground, and DeSean Jackson did a great job as the primary receiving threat, catching seven of his nine targets for 104 yards and a 25-yard touchdown.
While the Chargers did a fair job against the Houston Texans offense, the Eagles are a much different animal.
All three should bona fide starts this week, though if I had to rank them, I would say McCoy and Jackson are must-starts and Vick is a solid start.
Sit: C.J. Spiller vs. Carolina Panthers Front 7
C.J. Spiller didn't look much like the dominant back we've come to know and love in Week 1. The New England Patriots keyed on him and said to Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, "Go ahead and beat us."
Expect the Carolina Panthers to do the same.
This is a solid run defense.
The Spiller they see was, at times, his own worst enemy. He didn't look like the decisive runner we've come to depend on, struggled to find open space and went for two yards or less on 11 of his 17 carries.
It's not a situation that will repair itself this coming week against a tough Panthers defense.
Start: Wes Welker vs. New York Giants Defense
Wes Welker headed West to the Denver Broncos and it didn't take long for him and Peyton Manning to develop chemistry eerily similar to what he had with Tom Brady.
Welker and Manning hooked up nine times for 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns and face a New York Giants defense which allowed a sloppy Tony Romo to throw for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
On top of that, the Giants have been battling injuries since preseason, and it has certainly seemed to weigh them down.
While you don't expect Manning to drop another seven touchdowns on a team, it's clear he is going to look for Welker an awful lot, and Welker should have success just like he did against the Baltimore Ravens.
Sit: Alex Smith vs. Dallas Cowboys Defense
The Dallas Cowboys were looking to generate a few turnovers, so they brought in Monte Kiffin and his Cover 2 defense.
The result was a game where they sacked Eli Manning three times, forced a trio of interceptions and recovered three fumbles.
Now, the defense did allow Eli Manning to rack up 450 yards and four touchdowns, but Alex Smith is not Eli Manning.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a better offensive line than the Giants do, but far fewer weapons at wide receiver and a quarterback who isn't going to look deep downfield very often.
Smith looks like he might be a solid fill-in quarterback during certain matchups, but this isn't one of them.
Sit: Jerome Simpson vs. Chicago Bears Secondary
Jerome Simpson had a heck of a day against the Detroit Lions, didn't he? How else can you describe seven catches for 140 yards?
So, why bench him?
Two words: Bears defense.
The Bears defense is no less dangerous without departed head coach Lovie Smith.
While it only registered a single sack and allowed two passing touchdowns, it also generated three turnovers.
Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings continue to be one of the best cornerback tandems in the league, helped by pressure from the front seven. Either one of them will cover Simpson with ease.
When you look at the Lions secondary, it just doesn't compare. The Bears are simply far better.
Besides, we've seen Christian Ponder struggle when pressured.
Simpson might have more days ahead of him like he had in Week 1, but they won't come against cornerbacks like these.
Start: Andy Dalton vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Defense
Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals fell just short against the Chicago Bears, but that shouldn't take anything away from a good effort by Dalton against a tough defense.
The two interceptions were disappointing, but his 282 yards and two touchdowns were more than enough to offset the turnovers.
The Steelers, on the other hand, may be ranked second in the NFL against the pass, but they had just one sack and zero interceptions. The defense looked every bit of its age last week against the Tennessee Titans (Troy Polamalu's excellently timed blitz aside).
The Bengals offensive line is more than up to the task of slowing the pass rush down and giving Dalton plenty of time to hit Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green.
He'll be a rock-solid start this week.
Sit: James Jones vs. Washington Redskins
James Jones was the odd man out against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, and there is very little to make one feel that will change consistently enough to have him in your lineup.
Jones was on the field for every offensive snap, but was targeted just twice. This was partially due to the 49ers' outstanding coverage, but the logical explanation is that there aren't enough snaps to go around.
The matchup isn't too bad, really. It's just that the targets will be spread thin with such a talented receiving corps. Starting Jones means you're assuming one of the other three receiving options will fall out of favor. That's risky, and there are likely better options on your bench.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.