Ninja Know-How: 10 Bold Week Two Predictions You Can Count on

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 14:  Running back Chester Taylor #29 of the Minnesota Vikings gestures to the fans after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 14, 2008 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Anyone who has written weekly fantasy football forecast columns could tell you that making accurate predictions is as easy as throwing darts in the dark while blindfolded, singing the “YMCA” song (complete with hand motions) and riding a mechanical bull.

So, I was pleased with the results of my first week’s “Ninja Sense,” where I hit on predicting that Clinton Portis would struggle, Ray Rice would outproduce Portis, Earl Bennett would prove his worth in fantasy circles (more on him later), Shaun Hill would give fantasy owners reason for optimism, Mike Bell would shine, all Cleveland Browns players would stink it up and that Steve Slaton would struggle out of the gates.

That’s seven out of 10, or a 70 percent. In the realm of fantasy football prognosticating, that 70 would land me on the distinguished honor roll.

In an effort for a successful encore presentation, here is my Week Two list of things that will happen in fantasy football circles.

Starting to believe that Julius Jones is, at the moment, one of the most under-rated RBs for 2009. Sure his 117 yards and a score came against the Swiss cheese version of an NFL defense (St. Louis), but looking closer at the game, it is obvious now that Jim Mora wasn’t bluffing when he said that Jones would be the featured back in the offense and that the Seahawks would be leaning heavily on the running game this season. Jones now matches up against a 49ers defense that will provide more resistance, but not enough to slow down the JJ train. Here’s predicting another 100-plus yard performance and a TD, especially in light of news that TJ Houshmanzadeh could be hobbled this week. Further, here is my prediction that Julius Jones morphs into this season’s version of Thomas Jones and has a “comeback player of the year” type of season.

Those of you who are growing tired of my endless babbling about Earl Bennett be warned: I’ve made it my personal mission to continue touting the Bears receiver until he’s owned in at least 75 percent of leagues. Bennett’s numbers in week one may have seemed stale, until you look closer. He received 10 looks from Cutler, putting him in the top five of all receivers last week in looks. He had seven receptions and 66 yards, and that was with Cutler reeling off four interceptions and looking lost on the field. Cutler will continue to mature and grow in Chicago, and the Bears face a Steelers defense that let Justin Gage and Kenny Britt look like All-Pro, first ballot Hall of Famers. In any format, Bennett should be on your players to target, and in PPR leagues, he’ll be the sort of player that helps propel teams into the fantasy playoffs.

See the Jets. See the Jets run. See the Jets run and run and run. Thus was the story last week as the Jets backs ran all over the Houston Texans. I may be down on Chris Johnson for the long haul this season, but I’m loving him this week against the Texans. He’ll get plenty of carries, receptions, yards and may even see paydirt if LenDale White stays out of the way.

Matt Forte, a top-five back in most every fantasy draft this summer, ran for just 55 yards last week against a Packers team that has just instituted a new defensive scheme (the 3-4). Jay Cutler’s errant throws didn’t help matters much. This week, it gets even harder for Forte in a matchup against the Super Bowl defending Pittsburgh Steelers. You never sit your studs, but it would be tempting with Forte this week.

Chester Taylor has been a deep sleeper pick for me in 2009 for a while now (as I mention here). He’s in a contract season and I’m not convinced Adrian Peterson can go a whole season without injury. This week against the putrid Lions, the Minnesota coaching staff would be insane to run Adrian Peterson much past halftime in a game that should get out of hand quickly. Enter Taylor, who will be used to grind out the clock and will have plenty of room to run. Going out on a limb, all ninja-like, I expect Taylor to outscore Forte in fantasy points this week.

It worked fairly well last week, so here’s another shout out for Shaun Hill this week. In fact, he should eclipse last week’s totals in a high-stakes NFC-West showdown with Seattle for the early division lead. Neither defense is especially intimidating, and this game could become a shootout fairly quickly. Hill is 8-3 when he starts for the 49ers, and should fair well this week.

Top tight end this week? Dallas Clark, who will see a big boost in looks and receptions as Anthony Gonzalez misses the next two months. This week, the Colts face a Dolphins team that Peyton Manning usually owns. A primetime game and extra opportunities should spell success for the Colts TE.

No-brainer of the week: The Minnesota defensive unit will the fantasy equivalent of King Kong this week. If they are starting on your team, instant advantage you. If you are playing against them, good luck. You’ll need it.

Four catches for 40 yards and a TD is fairly pedestrian for Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe, but it was all he could muster last week against Baltimore with Brodie Croyle slinging the pigskin. It remains to be seen if Matt Cassel is back under center this week as the Chiefs take on Oakland. If Cassel does play, expect Bowe to double his yardage, get closer to six or seven grabs and a TD.

I fully expect Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson to rebound after an embarrassing statistical no-show last week. They face the Titans, who were torched by Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes. I’m not expecting Schaub and Johnson to have elite numbers, but they’ll do enough to regain some fantasy respectability.

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