NFL Week Two Games (Part One)
Hello boys and girls and welcome to Week Two’s fantasy football preview. Keep out an eye for my ‘sneaky starts’ and ‘surprising sits,’ which are always the key to your victory.*
*Disclaimer* – RotoRob can’t guarantee that Andy’s ‘sneaky starts’ and ‘surprising sits’ will always be the key to your victory.
Whatever, RotoRob. Er, on with the preview!
Buffalo at Miami – These division opponents are no stranger to each other, as the Bills and Dolphins have had some absurd contests in the last couple seasons. Interestingly, both Willis McGahee and Lee Evans scored their first 100-yard games against Miami, and both are decent picks this weekend. In fact, I’ll label Evans as a sneaky start, as he has two 100-yard games and five touchdowns in four career starts against the Dolphins. J.P Losman looked like, well, an inexperienced, young quarterback last week. He’ll have good games, but he’ll remain far too inconsistent for fantasy purposes until further notice.
The Dolphins have had offensive success of their own in these games. Last season, Chris Chambers put up the best game of his career (15 catches, 238 yards, and one touchdown). Miami’s run game also worked well, but last season that was split between Ronnie Brown and current Toronto Argo, Ricky Williams. Daunte Culpepper is an interesting pick in this game as the Bills will have two rookies in the secondary. Ko Simpson replaces the injured Troy Vincent while first rounder Dont’ Whitner plays the other safety spot. Consider Culpepper if you need a boost.
Carolina at Minnesota – As of this writing, Steve Smith is listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest. Two bad hammies make Smith as dangerous as oh, I don’t know, this adorable kitten. If his status improves, give him a shot. Until then, find another option. Unfortunately, without Smith, this is a docile offense. I hate to say it, but even Jake Delhomme and DeShaun Foster are not great starts.
Chester Taylor proved that pre-season football is about as important as anything that Tom Cruise says. Wait, he was at that game? I didn’t even notice. Anyway, start him with confidence. The Panthers were embarrassed last week by the Falcons’ run game. Brad Johnson is a safe fantasy backup as long as he’s healthy, but don’t go out of your way to start him this week. In the receiving game, only Troy Williamson is worth a look. Hopefully he can cut down on his dropped passes, but even if he doesn’t, he’s a threat for big plays.
Cleveland at Cincinnati – While both of these teams played all right as a whole in Week One, both had many disappointing offensive performances turned in by key players. Cleveland didn’t even get the semblance of a running game with Reuben Droughns last week. The former Bronco rushed 11 times for a measly 27 yards. Charlie Frye was inconsistent, amassing two touchdowns and three turnovers. Braylon Edwards caught a 74-yard touchdown pass on the first play, but it was called back thanks to a holding penalty. Only Kellen Winslow made a fantasy impact, scorching the Saints for 63 yards and a touch. Winslow is the only sure start for the Browns, but you might have to go with Droughns and cross your fingers.
The Bengals got a stellar stat line from Rudi Johnson. He ran for nearly 100 yards and a score. Carson Palmer and Chad Johnsondisappointed, however, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh was inactive. Palmer might have a bumpy first few games back from injury, but he’s still a starting fantasy quarterback. He, Johnson, and Houshmandzadeh (who is probable this week) should get back on track against the Browns.
Detroit at Chicago – Well, thanks but no thanks. The Lions and Bears combined to allow nine points last week, which makes me think that fantasy owners won’t care all that much about this game. Roy Williams is the only guy from the Lions to consider, although you’d have to think his bulletin board-material guarantee means the Bears’ defense will have a bulls eye for him. For Chicago, Muhsin Muhammad should put up some yardage. Aside from those two, start the defenses and don’t watch.
Houston at Indianapolis – Welcome to the mismatch of the week, starring the lovable, incompetent Texans and the arrogant, powerful Colts. Houston will certainly be looking to pass as often as possible, which makes Andre Johnson a good start and Eric Moulds a marginal option in deep three wide out leagues or as a flex player. The run game is a mess, and three guys could get significant carries. Avoid it at all costs. David Carr is still a poor option until he gets more time to throw.
Start all of your normal Colts. Peyton Manning will look to pad his stats against a Texans’ squad that gave up three touchdowns to Donovan McNabb last weekend. Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark will all be threats for either 100-yard games, a touchdown, or both. As I said last week, try to stay away from the running game. Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai have not proven they can carry the load.
New Orleans at Green Bay – For the Saints, an important trend emerged from the game against the Browns. Deuce McAllister will see a few extra carries, but Reggie Bush will get just as many total touches. Bush finished with 119 total yards, and will continue to be the more dynamic option from the Saints’ backfield. Another interesting Saint is Marques Colston. He was a tight end in college, but is being used as a wide out in the NFL. Some fantasy services (ESPN, Yahoo, etc.) have Colston listed as both a wide receiver and a tight end. If you need help at the tight end spot, grab Colston. As a wide out, he’s a fifth option, but he could still have some good games.
The Packers were clocked last week by the Bears, but there was some good news. Ahman Green managed to gain over 100 yards on the ground, which is a great sign that he has regained some of his 1,800-yard potential. He is a sneaky start this week. The Saints were good against the run last week, but were they stronger than Chicago? Donald Driver also played well, catching seven passes for 96 yards. He may struggle to cross the stripe, but he should continue to pile up the yards.
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia – Yes the Giants lost to big brother and the Colts, but from a fantasy perspective, they did just fine. Eli Manning, aside from a desperation heave that turned into an interception, played very well and tossed two touchdown passes. Tiki Barber totaled over 170 yards of offense while Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey both scored. Start all of them this week in what should be an emotional, close game.
The Eagles are flying high after mauling the Texans. McNabb, Brian Westbrook and Dont’ Stallworth were fantasy studs and all are obvious starts this week. Temper expectations as the Giants are, you know, slightly better than the Texans, but this trio should be started nonetheless. Reggie Brown scored last week, but may be a surprising sit this week since the majority of the passes will be for Stallworth. L.J. Smith is worth a start, but he has been inconsistent against New York. He could go for anywhere from 30 yards and no touchdowns to 80 yards with a score.
Oakland at Baltimore – Ummm, hello? Ummmm, hi? The Raiders are, how should I put it… awful. Even though LaMont Jordan was a high pick, can he really do better against a tougher defense? The only Raider to consider is Randy Moss, who remains a great talent. That being said, if you have decent options outside of him at wide out, don’t hesitate to bench the one-time stud.
The Ravens, meanwhile, need to hope their defense isn’t too dominant. When the game was still, well, a game last week against Tampa Bay, the offense was clicking. Once the blowout was in effect, Steve McNair, Jamal Lewis, Derrick Mason and Todd Heap all toned their games down. That being said, you have to start all of them here, since one half of serious play should give you a full game’s worth of statistics against the Raiders. Poor guys.
The second half of previews will come tomorrow. Until then, good night and good luck.
– Andy Goldstein