AFC North Fantasy Preview: Week Two

Tab BamfordSenior Writer ISeptember 17, 2009

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 10:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to pass the ball during the second quarter of the NFL season opener against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field on September 10, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

This, and more Fantasy Football articles like it, can be found on Tab's new home for fantasy football analysis: Top Fantasy Football.

What a wild week for the AFC North! Other divisions might have had some ups and downs, but none like this star-crossed division.

The Steelers opened the season by winning an exciting game against the Titans that cost them Troy Polamalu. The Browns forgot that it takes four or five men to stop Adrian Peterson.

Joe Flacco became a 300-yard passer, and, in case you missed it, the Bengals were less than 40 seconds from a win against the Broncos when, according to Brandon Stokely, divine intervention became the latest to hate on Cincinnati.

Looking back at my picks from Week One, I had a few hits and a bunch of misses. I thought you should avoid Roethlisberger, who threw for over 300 yards. To the contrary, I said Willie Parker was a sure thing, and he missed by a lot.

I picked Joshua Cribbs as a green light pick, and he proved me wise. So did Cedric Benson, Joe Flacco, and Ray Rice.

Baltimore’s defense gave up how many to Kansas City, though? I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in being surprised to see that on Sunday night.

Where do we go from here? How do you spin an encore from that hot mess?

Simple. You send the defending champions to Chicago, where everyone wants to see whether or not Jay Cutler has grown up yet.

You send the Browns to the Denver team that broke the Bengals’ hearts. Cincinnati goes to Green Bay and the Ravens head to San Diego for what figures to be a fantastic game.

Let’s take a look at these matchups.

Cincinnati @ Green BaySunday 1:00 PM EST

Aaron Rodgers looked rusty Sunday night and Ryan Grant didn’t fly out of the gates. In fact, until Greg Jennings beat Nathan Vasher like a rented mule, nobody on the Packers' offense was having an exceptional night.

This week’s game could present an intriguing matchup for the Packers' offense. The Bengals' defense, much like the Bears in Lambeau last week, did a nice job until it got beat on a prayer to lose.

The million dollar question, though, is whether the Bengals' defense is that good or the Broncos' offense is…who we thought they were.

Similarly, the Bengals' offense didn’t do much against the Denver defense last week and the Packers took advantage of Cutler employing the Helen Keller method of reading zone coverage. Is Green Bay’s defense that good or was Cutler that bad?

Prediction: Green Bay 34 - Cincinnati 23.

Green Light: Rodgers, Jennings, GB DEF.

Yellow Light: Grant, Benson, Carson Palmer, Donald Lee.

Red Light: CIN DEF, Chad Ochocinco.

Sleeper: Laveranues Coles.

Pittsburgh @ ChicagoSunday 4:15 PM EST

Both of these teams are dealing with serious losses to their defenses, with Troy Polamalu and Brian Urlacher, two of the marquee defensive players in the entire NFL, being inactive.

The Steelers didn’t lose much more than their star safety, though; Chicago lost half the defense.

The wild card in this game is what Pittsburgh offense comes out in Chicago’s home opener. In Week One, it was an aerial assault from Ben Roethlisberger because of a faltering run game.

The Steelers would love to establish their ground game, but the Bears banged up and vulnerable secondary might make them pass-happy again.

On the other side of the ball, to say the Bears have something to prove on offense might be the understatement of the season. With all the hype that Cutler brought with him to the offense, they were miserable in the first half in Green Bay.

If Cutler plays like he did in the third and most of the fourth quarters, the Bears could have something to move the ball against the Steelers. If he comes out like he did to start the game against the Packers, it could be an ugly night by Lake Michigan.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 24 – Chicago 20.

Green Light: Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes.

Yellow Light: Cutler, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Matt Forte, Greg Olsen, Willie Parker, PIT DEF, Heath Miller.

Red Light: CHI DEF.

Sleeper: Hines Ward.

Baltimore @ San DiegoSunday 4:14 PM EST

When was the last time a Baltimore game had the potential to become a shootout? The Ravens' defense looked vulnerable against the Kansas City Chiefs last week, but they were able to get the victory behind the suddenly trigger-happy Flacco.

Meanwhile, the Chargers are a team with questions this week. LaDainian Tomlinson was on the bench for their game-winning drive on Monday night and continues to be questionable.

Given his toe injury and the Ravens' run defense, logic would indicate that Philip Rivers will be putting the ball in the air on Sunday.

Speaking of the ball in the air, though, the Chargers' pass defense gave up both yards and points to the Raiders on Monday night.

Given Flacco’s track record, and in light of his opening day performance, this could become a game littered with fantasy winners in the passing game.

Prediction: San Diego 27 – Baltimore 17.

Green Light: Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Ray Rice.

Yellow Light: Flacco, Derrick Mason, Antonio Gates, BAL DEF, SD DEF.

Red Light: Tomlinson, Darren Sproles.

Sleeper: Mark Clayton.

Cleveland @ DenverSunday 4:15 PM EST

The Browns had all sorts of offensive issues last week, but they were playing an elite defense. If you’re a fantasy owner of Brady Quinn, this week might be where you have to make the tough question: How did I wait that long to take a backup?

Just kidding. The question you need to answer is really: How bad is Denver’s defense and am I comfortable playing Quinn against it? I’m not sure I would be ready to jump on the Quinn bandwagon yet.

However, I would have no problems playing Jamal Lewis against the Broncos' defense this week after Benson gave them a handful last week.

On the flip side of that, the Broncos' offense didn’t do anything until the final 40 seconds last week, but the Browns couldn’t keep Adrian Peterson out of the end zone that long. Again, the great fantasy dilemmas abound.

Prediction: Cleveland 17 – Denver 13.

Green Light: Brandon Marshall, Jamal Lewis, Joshua Cribbs.

Yellow Light: CLE DEF, Brady Quinn, D’Qwell Jackson, DEN DEF, Correll Buckhalter.

Red Light: Kyle Orton.

Sleeper: Knowshon Moreno.

Source: Top Fantasy Football


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