Fantasy Football Projections Week 2: Sleepers and Predictions

Luke CarltonContributor IIISeptember 16, 2011

Fantasy Football Projections Week 2: Sleepers and Predictions

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    Week 1 is now in the books and what an exciting week it was, filled with surprises and huge performances.

    Just a few of the fantasy scorelines coming out of week one include the huge numbers Tom Brady had on Monday night against a seemingly porous Miami defense, Cam Newton's impressive NFL debut where he ultimately came up short in a shootout in the desert and Baltimore's humiliation of Pittsburgh in a massive opening day embarrassment for Ben Roethlisberger and Co.

    Now we move onto Week 2, so here are your Pigskin Pick'em picks, and some fantasy sleepers and dreamers as well. Enjoy!

Last Week's Picks

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    Green bay over New Orleans – Correct

    Chicago over Atlanta – Correct

    Cleveland over Cincinnati – Incorrect

    Kansas City over Buffalo - Incorrect

    Philadelphia over St. Louis – Correct

    Detroit over Tampa Bay - Correct

    Tennessee over Jacksonville – Incorrect

    Pittsburgh over Baltimore – Incorrect

    Houston over Indianapolis – Correct

    Arizona over Carolina - Correct

    San Diego over Minnesota - Correct

    San Francisco over Seattle - Correct

    New  York over Washington – Incorrect

    New York over Dallas - Correct

    New England over Miami - Correct

    Oakland over Denver - Correct

    Total – 11-5

Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints

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    Picks against Spread - Saints by seven

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    New Orleans 84 percent
    Chicago 16 percent

    My Pick - Chicago

    Hop along people, there is still plenty of room on the Chicago Bears bandwagon.

    I picked the Bears to beat the Falcons last week and now I’m going to make them 2-0 against the NFC South.

    Though they may win, this game will be a lot closer than the crushing victory over the Falcons. Drew Brees is an elite quarterback and has more weapons than Matt Ryan. However, with Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas, they don’t have the quality running game it takes to take on a very strong run defence of the Chicago Bears. With No. 1 receiver Marques Colston out with a collarbone injury, the Bears have as good a chance as they ever have to beat the Saints in the Super Dome.

    As for the Chicago offense, it really seemed to have clicked against the Falcons. Rookie Gabe Carimi and J’Marcus Webb had a tough time against good pass-rushers in Ray Edwards and John Abraham, but the Saints don’t possess those kinds of edge rushers to get to Jay Cutler. Though the stats say the Bears gave up five sacks, the reality of it is that the blame lies on the offensive line for three of those.

    I fully expect the Chicago defence to shut down the Saints running game, leaving Drew Brees to attack a defence which did not give up a touchdown on Sunday. Chicago will stick to what it does best, pressuring the quarterback and forcing turnovers. Though Brees isn’t the careless type, the Bears defence will find a way to get the job done.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Detroit Lions

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    Picks Against Spread - Detroit by eight

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Detroit 93 percent
    Kansas City 7 percent

    My Pick - Detroit

    Who would have predicted the demolition of the Chiefs last week, at the hands of the lowly Bills, in front of their own fans? It was a total embarrassment for the defending AFC West champions and a big wake-up call for all the players and coaches out there that, on any given Sunday, you can be on the wrong end of a big defeat from a team worse than your own.

    On the other hand, we have Detroit. The running game still needs work but the Lions really did put on a nice display. The key part of the game which stood out to me wasn’t the Lions offense, but the Lions defence. We all know how good the Lions front four are, but they completely shut down LeGarrette Blount, who finished with 15 yards. Take in mind last year, Blount had 110 yards and a touchdown.

    In the end, I believe that Detroit is riding on the momentum and will take the victory at home. The Chiefs, who will be pointing the finger of blame after the game, will fall to their second consecutive loss.

Oakland Raiders @ Buffalo Bills

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    Picks Against Spread - Buffalo by three

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Buffalo 75 percent
    Oakland 25 percent

    My Pick - Buffalo Bills

    Buffalo killed off many eliminator picks this last week with its shocking landslide win over the Chiefs.

    Was it a fluke? Yes.

    Do the Bills have talent? You better believe it.

    Fred Jackson is arguably the most boring starting running back in the league, but please hear me out on this. He doesn’t do anything overly spectacular, he won’t break out amazing runs like Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson, he’s not the fastest back in the league, nor is he the strongest.

    What Jackson has is consistency. You may overlook him in your fantasy leagues, but he is a player who will do nothing but get you points and a fair amount of them.

    On the other hand, you have Ryan Fitzpatrick. Like Jackson, he’s not going to do anything spectacular, he’s not got the cannon arm, he’s not got the speed to get yards on the ground, but he is consistent.

    It’s almost like the Bills' philosophy is not to stand out from the crowd and play consistent football.

    This week, they face up against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders live for the extravagant. Jacoby Ford is one of the fastest players in the league—if not the fastest. Darren McFadden is all about breaking the big runs. Jason Campbell, well, he’s the anomaly.

    In this game of contrasting philosophies, I’ll take the Bills. Short week for the Raiders. Early kickoff. Cross-country flight. All of which point to a Bills win.

Green Bay Packers @ Carolina Panthers

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    Picks Against Spread - Green Bay by 10

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Green Bay 98 percent
    Carolina 2 percent

    My Pick - Green Bay

    Do I really have to explain why Green Bay will win this one?

    I'll give the losing team some credit, Carolina was impressive last week. Granted, that was against Arizona, but you have to take every small victory you can take.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings

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    Picks Against Spread - Minnesota by three

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Minnesota 60 percent
    Tampa Bay 40 percent

    My Pick - Tampa Bay

    I was surprised to find that the Bucs were the underdogs going into this game. I had a gut feeling this could be a potential banana skin for the Bucs. My gut feeling fooled me last week so I’m sticking with a Tampa Bay victory.

    Minnesota got burned on the ground by Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews, two fairly good running backs, but they are hardly the type of backs which send shivers down the back of a defensive coordinator. Now, I’m not saying LeGarrette Blount is that man, but if the Bucs can get their ground game going, he will be a harder to stop than Tolbert and Matthews.

Arizona Cardinals @ Washington Redskins

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    Picks Against Spread - Washington by 3.5

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Washington 67 percent
    Arizona 33 percent

    My Pick - Washington

    I have a sneaky suspicion that this game could turn into a shootout. Both teams threw the ball really well last week and both reached over 300+ yards passing. I’m currently taking a short journey on the Washington Redskins bandwagon, hence why I’m picking them over the Cardinals.

    Arizona doesn’t travel well, especially to the East Coast. Maybe it’s something Kevin Kolb can help, sure, but until I see any proof of the East Coast jinx being removed, I’m siding with the Redskins.

Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Picks Against Spread - Pittsburgh by 14.5

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Pittsburgh 97 percent
    Seattle 3 percent

    My Pick - Pittsburgh

    Seattle is an awful football team.

Baltimore Ravens @ Tennessee Titans

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    Picks Against Spread - Baltimore by 6.5

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Baltimore 97 percent
    Tennessee 3 percent

    My Pick - Baltimore

    Although it was only the first week of the season, it is hard not to get excited about the Ravens this year. They dominated the Steelers. Nobody does that to Pittsburgh. Nobody!

    Tennessee, on the other hand, has a real issue on its hands with Chris Johnson. He was awful on Sunday and it seems that holding out of training camp has really done some harm to the Titans' best player. These issues don’t get settled in a week, especially when that week is against a Baltimore defence which looked reminiscent of the Ravens of 2000.

Cleveland Browns @ Indianapolis Colts

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    Picks Against Spread - Cleveland by 1.5

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Cleveland 52 percent
    Indianapolis 48 percent

    My Pick - Indianapolis

    Welcome to the worst game of the week! Yes, in what would usually be a one-sided affair in which Peyton Manning would throw for 300+ yards, a couple of touchdowns and tear apart the opposing defense, we now have a dogfight for a game which will ultimately have no impact on playoff standings.

    I’m taking the Colts, but it really is a hard pick to make. The Colts were abysmal against the Texans and that wasn’t just on offense. The defence struggled mightily, and could not stop the Houston offense, despite star running back Arian Foster being out with an injury. There wasn’t much in that game in which you could take a positive from.

    But with the Cleveland Browns, who failed to beat a Bengals team with Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback, rolling into town, I have to think the Colts can restore some kind of dignity. 

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets

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    Picks Against Spread - New York by nine

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    New York 97 percent
    Jacksonville 3 percent

    My Pick - New York

    If Luke McCown can beat the New York Jets, you have my permission slap me really, really hard across my face.

    I’m serious.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Luke McCown will get embarrassed against this Jets defence which will be all over him on Sunday. If the Jags want to get something out of this game, they will have to give the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew and give him the ball plenty of times.

    I refuse to believe that Luke McCown can single-handedly lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to victory over the New York Jets at New Meadowlands Stadium.

    End of.

Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers

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    Picks Against Spread - Dallas by three


    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Dallas 79 percent
    San Francisco 21 percent


    My Pick - Dallas

    Ted Ginn Jr. will not return a punt and kick for a touchdown in less than one minute again. If he does, San Fran may have a chance. Otherwise, give me the Cowboys.

    Felix Jones may not have hit the ground running as the starting back in Dallas, but take away the crumbling on Sunday night, Tony Romo looked good. The new Rob Ryan defence is beginning to click and it’s a matter of time before it is all fluid and there will be less mental errors.

    As for the 49ers, I still can’t trust a team which starts Alex Smith as the starting quarterback. Niners fans may actually want Smith to play badly for two reasons. The first being you will get to see what Colin Kaepernick can bring to the table and the second would be a poor Alex Smith = high draft pick = Andrew Luck?

    Just throwing it out there…

Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos

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    Picks Against Spread - Denver by 3.5

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Denver 78 percent
    Cincinnati 22 percent


    My Pick - Denver

    Is this the least anticipated game of the week? Surely, only people from Cincinnati or Denver must only be getting slightly excited for this game, because as an outsider looking in, this game has nothing to cause excitement.

    I’m taking the Broncos, for the reason that Kyle Orton has to win back the fanbase in Denver. Neutral football fans all want to see Tim Tebow under center again, but it must be said, Kyle Orton is the better NFL quarterback at the moment.

    For that reason, a win for the Broncos wins back a few Kyle Orton supporters, but not all of them.

San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots

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    Picks Against Spread - New England by seven

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    New England 92 percent
    San Diego 8 percent

    My Pick - New England

    Only Bill Belichick knows what offense we will be seeing from the Patriots on Sunday. Maybe it will be the power running game, maybe the dink-and-dunk passing game or the vertical threats with the tight ends.

    This is what makes the Patriots so hard to scheme against, because you can prepare for one, and they will hit you with another. A single week is not enough to prepare as they have so many looks and can score in many different ways, hence why they will beat the Chargers.

Houston Texans @ Miami Dolphins

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    Picks Against Spread - Houston by three


    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Houston 81 percent
    Miami 19 percent


    My Pick - Houston

    Houston really put a nice solid foot forward in the hunt for its first playoff appearance and it follows up with a second win on the bounce against a Miami team led by Chad Henne.

    Please, don’t let Henne’s good numbers deceive you.

    Most of his yards came when the game was far out of reach. He’s a player you shouldn’t trust, especially when playing against a Houston defence which shut down a Colts offense—albeit with Kerry Collins as quarterback.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons

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    Picks Against Spread - Philadelphia by two

    Yahoo Community Pick'em

    Philadelphia 71 percent
    Atlanta 29 percent


    My Pick - Atlanta

    I’m not sure if this counts as an upset or not, as Atlanta shouldn’t be underdogs in their own stadium, coming off a year where they were the best team in the NFC.

    The Falcons had no firepower against Chicago and turnovers really killed them. They failed to score an offensive touchdown.

    The Eagles, on the other hand, looked explosive. It was almost like you were anticipating a big play every snap of the ball.

    So why do the Falcons win this one? Matt Ryan is a cool character at the Georgia Dome. As for Mike Vick saying it’s Matt Ryan’s house, I'm sure it will be on Sunday night, but there are still plenty of Falcons fans who adore Vick.

    What we are all still forgetting is that the Falcons are still a very good team. I just have a feeling the Falcons have a lot on the line and starting 0-2 would be a horrible start for them.

    Spurred on by the thought of starting the season with two straight losses, the Falcons will take this one.

Fantasy Sleepers: QB-RB-WR-TE-D/ST

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    Quarterback - Rex Grossman: If Cam Newton can throw for over 400 yards against this defence, imagine what Grossman can do with a Mike Shanahan offense against the Cardinals.

    Quarterback - Matt Schaub: Again, Tom Brady threw for over 500 yards against this defence on Monday night. Admittedly, that was Tom Brady, but with doubts over whether Arian Foster will be able to play or not, Schaub should be set for a huge fantasy game.

    Running back - LeGarrette Blount: I was surprised as to how much the Vikings missed Kevin Williams. The Chargers gashed them on the ground last week and I mentioned earlier, it will be much harder to take down a rumbling, bumbling LeGarrette Blount if Tampa Bay can get its running game going.

    Running back - Cedric Benson: I like Benson this week. Starting quarterback Andy Dalton left the game against the Browns with an injury and Benson was able to carry the load for the game. The Denver run defence is still yet to improve on last year, meaning Benson should be able to put up some nice fantasy numbers.

    Wide receiver- Mario Manningham: Whether Hakeem Nicks plays or not, Manningham should get plenty of targets. He emerged at the end of last season and though he didn’t have a huge game against the Redskins, he should put up good numbers if Nicks is missing on Monday night.

    Wide receiver - Mike Sims-Walker: This is a bit like Marmite, you either love this guy as a sleeper or think he’s not going to do anything. I like Sims-Walker, but it is a risky move to play him. He only got one target last week against the Eagles, but he should see worse coverage against the Giants. And with Danny Amendola out, he should be on the end of a couple more targets and can be a great target for Bradford in the red zone.

    Tight end - Jimmy Graham: Marques Colston will be out for a while, so if he is somehow still available in your league, you need to pick up Jimmy Graham. The Saints may also be missing Lance Moore, leaving Graham as arguably the best target for the Saints. Graham put up good numbers last week for fantasy owners, even scoring a touchdown near the end of the game. Brees will be looking underneath for his big tight end as the Bears will look to take away any deep throws, so if you are in a PPR league, you need to pick up Jimmy Graham.

    Tight end - Owen Daniels: Hardly the premier tight ends like Dallas Clark or Jason Witten, but all you need to look at is the destruction the Patriots tight ends caused to the Dolphins on Monday night. Don’t think the Texans would have missed that, because they will have found plenty of holes in the Miami defence, with tight end coverage as the biggest one.

    Team defence - Dallas D/ST: Sure, Tony Romo may have lost the game for the Cowboys, but the Cowboys were still able to get four sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery against the Jets. Now they play the San Francisco 49ers, with Alex Smith leading the charge. I expect the Cowboys to build an early lead, forcing Alex Smith to pass the ball more, which means turnovers and plenty of them for Dallas.

    Team defence - Buffalo D/ST: This may sound crazy at first, but the Bills are facing off against a team flying over from the West Coast on a short week, with little time to prepare for either the Bills or the time difference. This will lead to mental mistakes and fatigue, so if you are in a deep league and play defences by whoever has the best matchup, you should consider Buffalo.

Fantasy Dreamers: QB-RB-WR-TE-D/ST

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    Quarterback - Cam Newton: The idea in many people’s heads may be to pick up Cam Newton after his big game against the Cardinals. I’m all for that, just don’t play him against the Packers defence, as he will be eaten alive. Sure, Drew Brees put up good numbers against Green Bay, but there is a clear difference is quality between Cam Newton and Drew Brees.

    Quarterback - Matt Cassel: The Lions are slowly building up a great defence and now is not the right time to be playing them. They are full of self-confidence after the win over the Buccaneers and now they have a chance to start 2-0, which is much different from the more regular 0-2 starts from Detroit. They will be pumped up, angry and determined to make their case, all of which bodes badly for Matt Cassell.

    Running back - Mark Ingram: The logic is there. With a few Saints receivers out with an injury, they will run the ball more. This may be the case, but the Bears are a very good team against the run and we all saw the timeshare New Orleans had against Green Bay. Darren Sproles was a bigger factor than most of us expected and Pierre Thomas also got a fair share of the load. Ingram’s inability to convert on the goal line against the Packers surely must be a cause for concern. Put it all together and you shouldn’t be expecting anything big out of Ingram.

    Running back - Chris Johnson: It’s official, I’ve gone crazy. By no means am I saying you should bench Chris Johnson if he is your star player, as he is one of those players who can still put up good fantasy numbers against a tough matchup. What I am saying is for those people who have three capable fantasy backs. For example, if you drafted three running backs who were drafted quite high, don’t be afraid to leave Johnson out. For example, if you have Chris Johnson, Peyton Hillis and Matt Forte (very possible considering their pre-draft rankings), don’t be afraid to bench Johnson, as Forte and Hillis both have better matchups. We all saw how well the Ravens did against the Pittsburgh run game and we all saw how poorly Chris Johnson performed against the Jags. These issues don’t magically fix themselves, you won’t be seeing CJ2K at full tilt until he has a few games under his belt.

    Wide receiver - Julio Jones: Jones wasn’t all that impressive against the Bears, but that could be said for most of the Falcons. As a rookie receiver, it’s hard to go up against some of the elite cornerbacks, which is exactly what the Eagles have. Nnamdi Asomugha on one side and Asante Samuel on the other, there is no escaping the defensive backs who will stick to you like glue. And if you thought you could get away from them by putting him in the slot, then Rogers-Cromartie may have something to say about that. This may contradict my pick but I can’t see Julio Jones having a good game against the Eagles.

    Wide receiver - Mike Thomas: He’s up against Darrelle Revis and has Luke McCown throwing the ball his way. As Snoop Dogg would say, drop it like it’s hot.

    Tight end - Scott Chandler: I can count all the passes Scott Chandler caught before last week on two fingers, and I would have one spare finger. That’s right. He caught one pass before this. Feel free to pick him up if you are in need of a backup tight end, but don’t be expecting the same kind of fireworks from his coming out party against Kansas City.

    Tight end - Marcedes Lewis: Lewis is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Jets and if that wasn’t enough, you still need to remember that Luke McCown has a direct impact on any fantasy player for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Other than Maurice Jones-Drew, you can disregard any Jags as viable fantasy players. Consider Jacksonville the black hole of fantasy football.

    Team defence - Kansas City D/ST: The Lions looked hot against a reasonably strong Tampa Bay defence, and to continue from the reason why you should bench Matt Cassel, the Lions have momentum and are full of confidence. Matt Stafford was looking promising and Calvin Johnson looked impossible to cover, though he did not practise this week. If Johnson is fit to play, you should look for other defences to play.

    Team defence - San Diego D/ST: I apologise if this looks like I’m hating on the AFC West this week, but both the Chiefs and Chargers have tough road games against offenses with the skills to put up plenty of points. The Chargers take a cross-country trip to New England and I don’t think I need to explain what Tom Brady can do when the Patriots have the ball. There are much better matchups out there in free agency so feel free to pick up a defense with a  nice matchup, even if it is only for short term use.