Trying to set a stellar fantasy lineup after just one game of 2013 NFL action is difficult due to the breakout studs and generally unpredictable nature of the league overall at this early stage.
Having said that, there are several established playmakers that can be counted on to have monster performances in Week 2. Some went off in their respective season openers, while others have a track record of success that has to be respected and taken into account this week.
Between their favorable matchups, new roles catering to their individual strengths and other factors, three players stand out as surefire candidates to post numbers.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
This year's first-round pick Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham form a stellar pass-catching duo at the tight end position. Both have the athleticism to draw attention down the seam, which should help open things up for Green on the outside.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be eager to avenge last week's home loss in Cincinnati, but Green will make that awfully difficult.
Even against the likes of the Chicago Bears in Week 1, the superstar wideout had nine catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Andy Dalton doesn't have any truly reliable weapons in the receiving corps, yet Green still finds a way to shine.
Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders both had glowing things to say after Green's showing, comparing him to Detroit Lions record-setting receiver Calvin Johnson:
Dalton will target Green in the double digits, and the less the Bengals can establish the run—which they couldn't do in Chicago—the more likely Green is to have a virtuoso performance.
Projections: 11 receptions, 125 yards, 2 TDs
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
The NFC North division seems rather wide open, because the two teams that made the playoffs last year have started 0-1 while the Bears won their Week 1 showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Chicago's prospects look good of going 2-0 overall and winning its first divisional contest against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Opposing quarterback Christian Ponder looks borderline incompetent much of the time and can't beat defenses that are cramming eight in the box to stop Adrian Peterson.
That should give the Bears' new West Coast offense under head coach Marc Trestman plenty of time on the field, which is great news for fantasy owners planning to start Forte.
With the ability to run effectively between the tackles and outside to go with excellent hands, Forte is a dream fit for this type of scheme.
Before the season began, Charlie Garner, who played in Trestman's offense as an Oakland Raider, called Forte a better version of himself, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune:
I can't wait for the season. I am just looking forward to what they do with Forte because he possesses a lot of the same talents I had coming out of the backfield as a receiver and he's just a bigger, stronger individual. Have they been utilizing him like that?
In pointing out that Garner had ran for 962 yards and had 941 receiving yards in a single season under Trestman, Biggs highlighted the multitude of roles Forte will play:
The Bears plan to have Forte all over the place...The running back also has roles that will have him lining up as an H-back, an F-tight end (also known as a move tight end) and wide receiver.
The Vikings couldn't contain Lions running back Reggie Bush last week when he went for 90 yards on the ground and 101 yards receiving. Forte likely won't approach that latter number, but he should exceed 100 yards rushing.
Projections: 20 carries, 110 yards, 2 TDs; 6 catches, 60 yards, TD
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
With the ability to line up as a legitimate threat in the backfield, the fantasy upside for the still-developing Cobb has yet to be determined, but it seems rather limitless.
Cobb's touches will only continue to increase since former No. 1 receiver Greg Jennings chose to flee to Minnesota in free agency.
In the first game under those circumstances for Cobb this past Sunday, he matched a career high in targets with 12, caught seven passes for 105 yards and scored a key touchdown early to tie the game after the 49ers drew first blood.
The home opener at Lambeau Field should continue to groom Cobb's exciting progression as he immerses himself as more of a go-to target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Washington comes to town with a defense reeling from the fast-paced Philadelphia Eagles offense, and facing Rodgers, Cobb and Co. isn't exactly an ideal cure for what ails them.
Cobb had only two carries for six yards in San Francisco but should fare better on the ground, along with seeing his receptions increase slightly.
Projections: 8 receptions, 105 yards, TD; 3 carries, 20 yards
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