Fantasy Football: Peyton Hillis and Other Players To Watch for in Week 2
The excitement of a budding season is upon us as we head into the second week of football action.
With "Players To Watch For," I give you fantasy players whose matchups and situations warrant special consideration and where they compare with similarly valued players.
Without further ado, here are the players to watch for in Week 2.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Seattle
Roethlisberger is coming off a tough outing where he committed five turnovers as the Steelers were thrashed by Baltimore Week 1. But the Seahawks defense is a far cry from the relentless pass rush of the Ravens.
This week, Roethlisberger has an easy chance to get back on track against a secondary that despite allowing just 124 yards to 49ers QB Alex Smith, is really quite soft. Ever heard of Brandon Browner? Only Seahawks fans could tell you who he is—a new acquisition from the CFL who struggled in pass coverage last week.
The Steelers will be operating out of a no-huddle offense, allowing for more plays (and pass plays) to be executed. Look for a monster bounce-back performance by Roethlisberger.
If he's your starting QB, play him without question. Big Ben is a better play this week than Matt Ryan (vs. Philadelphia) and Josh Freeman (at Minnesota).
Rex Grossman (vs. Arizona)
Sexy Rexy is back.
In Week 1, Grossman led the Redskins to a 28-14 victory in which he threw for over 300 yards and some touchdowns, good for a 110.5 QB rating.
Much like last week's shootout between the Cards and Panthers, this game should feature a lot of passing and not a lot of pass defense. You know your secondary is pretty mediocre when a rookie starting his first game can get over 400 yards against you.
If your fantasy team is starved for QB options, Grossman is a nice plug-and-play for this week. Comparatively, he is a better bet for production than Matt Cassel (at Detroit), Matt Hasselbeck (vs. Baltimore), and Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. Oakland). In other words, Grossman shouldn't replace your drafted starter, but he's a great emergency option.
Matt Ryan (vs. Philadelphia)
Until the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan was absolutely shut down by a fearsome Bears defense that forced more check-down passes than a struggling rookie could throw. Ryan ended the game with over 300 yards passing but no touchdowns, an interception and plenty of bumps and bruises.
The Falcons blamed Chicago's Tampa-2 defense for their offensive troubles, but the Eagles won't be any easier. Even with more aggressive play-calling, they boast three of the top corners in the NFL and a solid pass rush in their own right.
They made rising quarterback Sam Bradford look like a clueless rookie last week, and Ryan might not be the best play if you can help it. Bradford himself might be a better option (at Giants), as is Jay Cutler (at New Orleans) and maybe even Grossman!
Also be careful with trusting Cam Newton this week. He lit up Arizona's weak secondary, but Green Bay is a different story. Not only do they have a dangerous pass rush, but also an experienced and sophisticated Dom Capers defense that will dial up complex and confusing blitzes and coverages that will leave Newton guessing all day. Newton is still a rookie, and he will struggle against a defense like Green Bay's.
Peyton Hillis (at Indianapolis)
This could quite possibly be the matchup of the week in fantasy.
Indianapolis is a crippled team without their star quarterback, and the impact on its already weak run defense will allow teams to run out the clock in blowouts. The Colts allowed 167 rushing yards to a Texans team without their starting running back.
Cleveland did have a bit of trouble on the ground against Cincinnati, but it was more to do with the fact that Colt McCoy wasn't much of a threat.
It's not much of a stretch to see Hillis with 150 total yards and a touchdown, making him one of the top RB's this week. Start him with confidence as a high-end RB1 play.
You should go with Hillis over DeAngelo Williams (vs. Green Bay), Ryan Mathews (vs. New England), LeGarrette Blount (at Minnesota). He may even be a better play than Chris Johnson (vs. Baltimore) and Frank Gore (vs. Dallas) if you happen to be making that choice.
Cedric Benson (at Denver)
Cedric is one of the least likeable players in fantasy, not only because of his character and stone hands but low ypc average and lack of any upside whatsoever.
For this week, though, Benson is a great play. The Denver defense showed no ability to stop the run, allowing for Darren McFadden to run wild as the Raiders totaled 190 yards on the ground.
Last week, the Bengals relied on Benson to ease in rookie QB Andy Dalton, and this week figures to be similar. Dalton is dealing with an injured wrist, so they may lean on Benson even more.
Benson is a good bet for close to 30 touches, which makes him a very startable option against the Broncos Sunday.
If you drafted him, chances are it was around the sixth or seventh round as a low RB2 or RB3. PPR obviously changes his value, but Benson is a better play than Mark Ingram (vs. Chicago), DeAngelo Williams (vs. Green Bay), and maybe even Shonn Greene (vs. Jaguars).
Other good plays this week include Jahvid Best (vs. Kansas City) and Felix Jones (at San Francisco).
Willis McGahee (vs. Cincinnati)
If you're considering picking up McGahee as a sneaky flex play, think again.
While the opportunity looks good with Knowshon Moreno out, don't assume it guarantees good numbers for Moreno. Cincy held Peyton Hillis to 57 yards on 17 carries, and McGahee is not the back he once was. His skills are declining, and no team wanted him to be their starter.
Five carries for four yards was all he got on the ground Monday against Oakland. I wouldn't be surprised if 20 carries for under 60 yards was his final statline.
As a flex play, consider Tim Hightower (homecoming vs. Arizona), Joseph Addai (vs. Cleveland), James Starks (at Carolina) or Cadillac Williams (at Giants).
Nate Burleson (vs. Kansas City)
Nate Burleson figures to be a good bet for production this week against a terribly Kansas City secondary now without safety Eric Berry.
Burleson caught five passes last week for 60 yards, and it appears the receiver opposite Calvin Johnson may be relevant after all. Matthew Stafford is turning the Lions offense into something nearing juggernaut status, and they could light up the scoreboard against a team that allowed 41 points to Buffalo last week.
Without Berry, the receivers could burn the secondary deep with a replacement safety without enough experience.
Burleson is a good flex option if you're looking for options, and is a better play this week than Michael Crabtree (vs. Dallas), Mike Thomas (vs. Jets), and Julio Jones (vs. Philadelphia).
Other good plays this week include Jacoby Jones, who should be starting against Miami, and Kevin Ogletree. Ogletree will likely be starting in place of Dez Bryant, who is reported to be inactive for Sunday against the 49ers.
Dwayne Bowe (at Detroit)
Dwayne Bowe has owners outraged by last week's terrible performance against Buffalo.
In a game where the Chiefs were playing catch-up all day long against the league's worst pass defense last year, all Bowe got was two receptions for 17 yards.
Bowe is a talented receiver hinded by ridiculously bad QB play from Matt Cassel. Cassel struggled to throw for 100 yards, and as long as he plays like this, Bowe's upside will be severely limited. Secondaries will also focus exclusively on him as Breaston is nothing special, and even Tony Moeaki isn't there.
Cassel will have trouble staying on his feet against a revamped Lions pass rush. As I had advised in preseason, it's best to stay away from Bowe as Cassel is murder to his fantasy value.
If you drafted Bowe to be your WR1 or 2, look to other options until he proves more reliable. Players like Jordy Nelson (at Carolina), Johnny Knox (at New Orleans) and Robert Meachem (vs. Chicago) are better plays this week.
Owen Daniels (at Miami)
Owen Daniels is one of the top tight ends this week.
Miami showed no ability to stop the tight end against New England last week, allowing Tom Brady to throw for almost 200 yards just to tight ends. Obviously, the offensive systems differ, but you have to think that Houston will be taking advantage of this apparent weakness by looking to Daniels early and often.
With Kevin Walter out for next week, Daniels is easily the second option in the passing game behind Andre Johnson.
Daniels was probably drafted to be your starter, but in case you have other options, he is a better play than Greg Olsen (vs. Green Bay) and Kellen Winslow (at Minnesota).
Fred Davis is another great tight end play and still available on most waiver wires if you are in need of a Marcedes Lewis replacement or a plug-and-play.
Davis dominated the Giants defense last week for 105 yards on five receptions and faces an Arizona team that could not stop Greg Olsen or Jeff King. Grossman will rely heavily on Davis this week, and given the soft matchup, Davis could have a monster game.