Fantasy Football Week 2: Stars Who Will Explode After Subpar Opening Weekend

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2013

Cam Newton will be just fine despite a poor start to the 2013 season.
Cam Newton will be just fine despite a poor start to the 2013 season.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Not even the scariest fantasy football monsters can win you your matchup every week.

Week 1 especially places an extreme onus on all players to deliver immense results as gamers overreact to the season's initial happenings. If the kickoff meant everything, Sam Bradford would finish as a better quarterback than Tom Brady, Vonta Leach would run circles around Marshawn Lynch and prudent owners would drop Calvin Johnson for Junior Hemingway.

Relax, it's just one week.

Contrary to prior belief, production does not operate on an easily projectable linear path. Output fluctuates weekly, so keep that in mind before you bench a marquee name after one quiet game.

As easy as it is to assume every pattern from Week 1 sustains throughout the season, some of those assumptions will quickly fly out the window. Potential breakouts will be exposed as one-hit wonders, and the guys you built your team around will remind you why you enshrined your trust in them.

A rational owner wouldn't even imagine benching these guys in the wildest of nightmares. Anyone feeling squeamish after lackluster performances from these stars last Sunday should take a deep breath and prepare for a massive correction this Sunday.


Cam Newton (at Buffalo Bills)

Despite completing 69.6 percent of his passes against the Seattle Seahawks, Cam Newton mustered a mere 125 passing yards, achieving an ugly 5.4 yards per attempt. That surely caused sleepless nights for those who passed up Peyton Manning to instead select the Carolina Panthers signal-caller.

That decision will likely continue to haunt you if Manning keeps feasting on opposing defenses, but Newton will post the numbers you signed up for, starting this weekend at Buffalo.

The Panthers understandably displayed an ultra-conservative game plan against one of the league's premier defenses. They tried grinding out a tough, low-scoring victory by avoiding costly mistakes but fell short in a 12-7 defeat.

Now Newton faces a much more manageable Buffalo secondary that is starting two neophytes at cornerback rather than Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Although the Bills contained Tom Brady to 288 yards on 52 pass attempts in a near upset, the golden boy was playing his first game without his three top targets from the past few seasons.

Carolina will remove the safety lock from Newton's seat and allow him to open up the passing game, especially considering cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Jairus Byrd are both out. He should also break some runs against a team that allowed one of three individual 100-yard rushing performances from Week 1. 

You may be tempted to sit Newton after a slow start. Don't do it.


Doug Martin (vs. New Orleans Saints)

While Doug Martin appeased his fantasy owners with a touchdown, nobody wants to see their top pick average 2.7 yards per carry.

Only LeSean McCoy and Chris Johnson received more carries last week than the Muscle Hamster, but the second-year back compiled a yawn-inspiring 65 yards through 24 rushing attempts. To make matters worse, he recorded a negative receiving yard and coughed the ball up twice with one of those fumbles being recovered by the New York Jets.

This is a dude many drafters took at No. 2 over the likes of McCoy, Jamaal Charles and anybody else short of Adrian Peterson. Had Josh Freeman not handed Martin the ball five yards away from the end zone, the day would have been a complete disaster.

He had some similar games last year as well, registering 66 yards on 20 carries in Week 16 against the other Meadowlands inhabitant. He won't feel like a first-rounder some weeks, but he'll make up for the inconsistency by carrying you to victory at his best.

This week he gets the New Orleans Saints, who sported the league's worst rushing defense last season. After receiving 70 targets during his rookie campaign, look for Martin to also recover in the passing game.

Martin is one of the league's few work-horse running backs left standing. It's nice to know your player will receive 20 touches on a weekly basis.


Calvin Johnson (at Arizona Cardinals)

Calvin Johnson's owners experienced the perils of drafting a wide receiver with your first pick.

By the end of the year, Johnson is a good bet to match, and possibly exceed, the point totals of some rushers that routinely went before him in fantasy drafts. A wide receiver, however, is not guaranteed the same level of involvement on a weekly basis.

A year after compiling 1,964 receiving yards, Johnson kicked off the season with 37 yards on four receptions. The stat line would look fine had a touchdown not been overturned, but nobody will take solace in almost earning six points.

Megatron is the sturdiest, most dependable wideout there is, but even he is susceptible to a rough day at the office. During Week 6 and 7 last season, he registered a combined six catches for 80 yards, but everyone stayed cool since the lull occurred in the middle of the year. He reeled in at least five catches every other game.

Now Johnson's owners can scroll through the list of fellow receivers outpacing Johnson that includes Jerome Simpson, Brian Hartline, Andre Roberts, Doug Baldwin and many more. Wide receivers are an especially unpredictable breed, but Johnson will dust off an uneventful Week 1 and go back to dominating secondaries.

Johnson will get his numbers. Don't worry about him one bit.