The 2013 NFL regular season is one week in, and the drama is already at an extraordinary high. Unfortunately, not all of the storylines have been positive, as injuries have struck and stars have underwhelmed.
The question is, which under-the-radar players can you trust to step up and shine for your fantasy football team in Week 2?
There are stars that every fantasy football owner will target, but at this point of the season, it's imperative to value matchups as players find their rhythm. This calls for certain athletes that may not be your most ideal fantasy football options to step in and contribute.
Here's who those players should be in Week 2.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts
Position: Running Back
Experience: 7th Season
2013 Season Statistics
7 ATT, 26 YDS, 0 TD; 1 REC, 7 YDS
During the Indianapolis Colts' 21-17 win over the Oakland Raiders during Week 1, Vick Ballard ran for 63 yards on 13 carries. This has many speculating that he could be the long-term starter, as Ahmad Bradshaw only had eight total touches.
Per Dave Richard of CBS Sports, however, Ballard is now on the injury report and Bradshaw is finally off of it.
Vick Ballard surfaced on the Colts' injury report today, limited w/ a knee. Ahmad Bradshaw not on the list.— Dave Richard (@daverichard) September 12, 2013
If you have him on your roster or he's available in fantasy football free agency, get Bradshaw on your team.
The Colts will play the Miami Dolphins come Week 2, which means the pass rush will be intense against Andrew Luck. This creates the potential for a number of screen and check-down plays where the running back is trusted to catch passes and keep the defense honest.
Expect Bradshaw to be the player who serves in that role.
Bradshaw ran for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games during the 2012 season, also catching 31 passes for 245 yards. After missing the entire preseason to recover from a foot injury, Bradshaw is now healthy and ready to save Indianapolis' run game.
After Ballard was the featured back in Week 1, expect Bradshaw to replace the hobbled runner and take over as the full-time starter.
Dallas Clark, Baltimore Ravens
Position: Tight End
Experience: 11th Season
2013 Season Statistics
7 REC, 87 YDS, 0 TD
Tight end is the most difficult position to project when it comes to fantasy football, as few players receive consistent targets. Unless you manage to get your hands on the likes of Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski or Jason Witten, it's difficult to rely on anyone at the position.
Can Dallas Clark be a star tight end in 2013?
In Week 2, however, a familiar face is the perfect player to target: Dallas Clark of the Baltimore Ravens.
It's easy to get caught up in Clark's Week 1 production, as he caught seven passes for 87 yards, making him a point-per-reception gem. The truth of the matter is, it wasn't how well Clark played that should catch your eye.
The truly encouraging number is the fact that Clark led all Ravens receivers with 12 targets.
Torrey Smith will be the Ravens' No. 1 wide receiver, and as it presently stands, Marlon Brown is the No. 2. With Dennis Pitta out with a knee injury, that means Clark will remain on the field and be a key target for Joe Flacco.
The Cleveland Browns are generally solid against tight ends, but at the end of the day, the Ravens are a pass-first team without an established receiver behind Smith. For that matter, Smith has never caught more than 50 passes in a season and posted a career-high of 855 yards in 2012.
If you don't have a star at tight end—and very few people do—Clark is the player you need to target.
Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 5th Season
2013 Season Statistics
4 REC, 93 YDS, 0 TD
According to Mike Florio of NBC Sports, Atlanta Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White both missed the team's practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11. Per Dave Richard of CBS Sports, White proceeded to miss practice on Thursday, Sept. 12, as well.
So why should this concern you? Ask White.
As far as fantasy if I don't participate in practice than don't start me it's a red flag— Roddy White (@roddywhiteTV) September 9, 2013
Even if White ends up playing, you'd be wise to pick up Harry Douglas while you still can.
Douglas stepped up with four receptions for 93 yards during Week 1, receiving six targets and catching a 50-yard bomb. With White and Jones both hobbled, expect Douglas to be trusted with exploiting a St. Louis Rams secondary that allowed three Arizona Cardinals receivers to top 80 yards in Week 1.
It's not the safest bet, but Douglas has upside.
On another team, Douglas has the raw ability to be a quality No. 2 receiver with his first down and touchdown ability. Against the Rams, who will remain focused on Jones, White and Tony Gonzalez, Douglas has the potential to sneak behind a defensive backfield that is known to gamble.
Keep an especially close eye on Douglas if you play in point-per-reception leagues.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Experience: 9th Season
2013 Season Statistics
21/34, 173 YDS, 2 TD, 0 INT; 4 ATT, 25 YDS, 0 TD
Alex Smith has never been a fantasy football star, despite serving as one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL. He's more of a mistake-free player than one who will gamble on the big play, and that often leaves his touchdown numbers rather low.
With that being said, this isn't your traditional Alex Smith; this is Smith going up against the Dallas Cowboys with Andy Reid as his head coach.
For perspective, Nick Foles was 44-of-66 for 470 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in two games against the Cowboys in 2013 under Reid's guidance. With all due respect to Foles, Smith is a significantly better player with a star wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe, who needs to rebound from a Week 1 dud.
This all adds up to Smith having a very productive performance against the Cowboys.
Last week, the Cowboys forced six turnovers against Eli Manning and the New York Giants, which may have you concerned. Seeing as Manning is your prototypical gun-slinger and Smith is as careful as they come, that shouldn't concern you.
Smith truly only makes the throws he knows he can convert.
In his last 54 starts, KC QB Alex Smith has thrown just 36 interceptions #Carefulwiththeball— Jean-Jacques Taylor (@JJT_ESPNDallas) September 12, 2013
Against Dallas, expect Smith to be precise as he targets Jamaal Charles out of the backfield and Bowe for the big plays, also hitting his complementary receivers.
It's important to note that the Cowboys allowed three passing touchdowns during the final 16:44 of that game. Smith may not be Eli when it comes to big-play ability, but with Dallas very strong against the run, he'll be throwing often.
Expect big things.