Week 2 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em (cont.)
Browns: Bueller? Bueller? A Brown-out
Brandon Weeden was so terrible against the Eagles, you now cannot trust any Browns -- not even the defense against a Bengals offense that figures to do a better job protecting the ball and the quarterback this week than it did Monday night against the Ravens. Weeden's ineffectiveness makes it tough to even trust Trent Richardson. The Bengals' run defense is at least as good as the Eagles', and Richardson should get just as bottled up.
Bengals: Benjarvus Green-Ellis, A.J. Green, Bengals D/ST
BGE and Green did enough against the Ravens to remain active in what should be a defensive struggle against the Browns, who held a much better Eagles offense in check despite awful quarterback play. The Bengals' D/ST might be the most productive unit this week, particularly since it is hungry after the Monday night embarrassment at the hands of a Super Bowl contender. The Browns are not that.
Browns: Almost everyone, including the Browns D/ST
The Bengals looked capable in the first half Monday, and if they do that again this week they'll make the Browns look awful offensively. The Browns' defense should sit despite its promising performance against the Eagles, because the quarterback's mistakes may put the unit in a bad position and the Bengals are going to be mindful of protecting the ball.
Bengals: Andy Dalton, Andrew Hawkins, Brandon Tate, Armon Binns, Jermaine Gresham, Mike Nugent
No one could have liked what Dalton did against the Ravens, or what Vick failed to muster against the Browns. That makes for a lot of sits, including Week 1 surprise Hawkins. The Browns were the best team in fantasy against wide receivers a year ago and proved great again last Sunday. Dalton and Gresham will improve as this season moves on, but there are too many more intriguing QB/TEs to start right now. Ignore the Bengals' kicker as well, because this looks like it might wind up a battle of futility.
Vikings: Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Blair Walsh
If Week 1 taught us anything, it's that Peterson is All Day in fantasy in any matchup, even at 80 percent, and especially against the Colts' weak run defense. The Vikes say they will limit his carries again, but 17 was "limiting" last week. Expect 20-plus here. Don't worry about anyone in the Vikings offense in this matchup, although Christian Ponder and Kyle Rudolph are better as bye-week replacement options.
Colts: Donald Brown, Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener, Adam Vinatieri
While Andrew Luck hasn't proven to be a fantasy starter yet, he did enough in garbage time against an elite Bears defense to make us confident in starting these Colts against the Vikings. The Vikes made Gabbert and the Jags look like a quality NFL offense last Sunday. That bodes well for a game that could get a little loose (re: high scoring) in Luck's home debut.
Vikings D/ST, Colts D/ST
This looks like a game that is going to push the over. It should make for some fantasy surprises, but you definitely shouldn't trust the defenses in Luck's home debut.
Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis, Billy Cundiff, Redskins D/ST
If Peterson being back with a vengeance was the No. 1 thing we learned in Week 1, the legend of RGIII is No. 1A. He got an A-plus in his debut at New Orleans, positing the highest-ever QB rating in a rookie debut. It makes him a must-start in all matchups, even if the Rams did a number to knock 2011 breakout Matthew Stafford down a peg last Sunday. Morris proved to be a rare Mike Shanahan workhorse, Garcon a game-breaker and Cundiff a productive kicker again. RGIII is so good, he even makes the Redskins D/ST a unit to trust in the top 12 now. Davis was quiet in Week 1, but the Rams didn't contain the Lions' tight ends a week ago, so expect the Redskins' tight ends to get more targets this week, especially with Garcon potentially less than 100 percent. In the sleeper category, Aldrick Robinson is getting more snaps than expected and might be useful if you need a receiver to start off waivers.
Rams: Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola
Jeff Fisher's Rams didn't look like the 2011 Rams, almost pulling off a surprising upset of the Lions. This isn't a great matchup for Jackson -- the Redskins have a good front -- but a Fisher team will start with, and focus on, the run. Jackson should do more with 20-plus carries this week. In the passing game, Sam Bradford isn't yet starting quality -- even if you see a lot of garbage time coming -- but Amendola is the go-to target and he should do enough to be a WR3 in deeper leagues.
Redskins: Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan
The Redskins are intriguing because of RGIII, but they have a lot of options to gameplan in and these guys were left at the short end of the stick in Week 1. We cannot trust them until we see something that changes our mind. Helu and Royster are going to make an impact in fantasy eventually, but not with Morris getting close to 30 carries like he did last Sunday.
The Redskins are one of the scarier offenses for a D/ST to face in fantasy following RGIII's coming-out party. There could be some other Rams to qualify as sleepers/bye-week replacements -- after all, there are opportunities here -- but quite yet.
Cowboys: Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Austin Miles, Jason Witten, Cowboys D/ST
The Seahawks have a solid defense and Seattle is one of the toughest places to play with their 12th Man, but this offense looks fit to dominate this season. Start all the stars, including Witten, who was limited in the opener but had the extra rest after the Wednesday game and the weekend off. The defense looks great with the new corners and it will get a chance to feast on a rookie quarterback in just his second start.
Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice
Lynch came out of last Sunday healthy after being a question mark with a back issue. Rice is healthy and a bit underrated as a No. 1 wide receiver for the Seahawks. There figures to be some garbage time for the Seahawks that should allow Rice to find a little bit of room in the second half against a defense that showed it can stop elite receivers against the Giants.
Cowboys: Felix Jones, Kevin Ogletree
Here is the thing about Ogletree: He was a big part of the Cowboys' game plan because Bryant and Miles weren't available for much of training camp or going into Week 1. Naturally, it led to a lot of targets and a huge breakout game. Ogletree is potentially the next Laurent Robinson, but also expect Bryant and Austin to be healthier and get far more targets as the season moves forward. As for Jones, forget him right now. Murray is a stud and healthy; Jones looks worthless. Consider him a handcuff and a fantasy non-factor until Murray is injured.
Seahawks: Russell Wilson, Robert Turbin, Braylon Edwards, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Steven Hauschka, Seahawks D/ST
These guys will make an impact this season and are likely worth stashing right now, but against the Cowboys, limit your trust of any of the Seahawks' offensive options. Wilson needs to get his feet under him as a starting quarterback in this league and the Cowboys did a number on better talent for the Giants in the opener.
Jets: Shonn Greene, Jets D/ST
The Steelers are an elite run defense, but Greene still rates as one of the top 24 starting running backs for Week 2 (barely). The Jets are one of the few teams that can project to run effectively against any opponent and they will stick with the running game in a rugged, defensive struggle against the Steelers. Greene won't rush for a good average, and perhaps not even a rushing touchdown, but he will get enough carries to be better than many alternatives. As for the Jets' defense, the Steelers can move the ball and score, but the Jets looked so good early against the Bills, it looks like a bad idea to sit this unit against anyone.
Steelers: Jonathan Dwyer, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Steelers D/ST
Dwyer thoroughly outplayed the starting back to earn more looks this week. The Jets are an elite run defense, though, so only start Dwyer out of necessity. For the lack of better options, Dwyer rates 24th among running backs this week. Figure 15 carries, 50 yards and a short rushing touchdown. Brown and Wallace aren't in ideal matchups but they are likely must-start-regardless options, like the Steelers D/ST.
Jets: Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Dustin Keller, Nick Folk
Despite that beat-down of the Bills, these guys are not consistent enough options yet to trust in a matchup against an elite defense like the Steelers. You shouldn't have too much trouble finding better options for your starting lineup this week.
Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, Isaac Redman, Heath Miller, Shaun Suisham
Here is the thing about Big Ben, a potential regular fantasy starter: If you think 240 yards and two touchdowns can out-produce your other option, you start him. You shouldn't bother with Redman, Miller and Suisham against a tough opponent like the Jets, though.
Titans: Chris Johnson
This has to look like a typo. How in the world can the stuffed C.J. be the only Titans starter? Last week was an unmitigated disaster against the Pats, but Johnson is still too promising to sit. The Titans should stay in the game longer to help build some semblance of a running game -- at least you have to hope. There just aren't enough good running back options to consider Johnson a sit yet.
Chargers: Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Nate Kaeding
Rivers did well enough Monday night to stay among the top-12 quarterback options for Week 2 (barely), but there needs to be some sorting out of his weapons. Malcom Floyd might be an option as a third receiver or flex, but only Gates is a sure-fire fantasy starter among them. If Ryan Mathews (shoulder) is cleared, he is a start and perhaps that is who you insert in your lineup over Johnson. Rivers will move the ball, even if the Chargers struggle at sticking it in the end zone like they did Monday night. That makes Kaeding a great starter week-to-week this season.
Titans: Jake Locker, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, Jared Cook, Rob Bironas, Titans D/ST
Week 1 is a tough one to evaluate fully for these guys. Locker will be playing with a separated non-throwing shoulder, Britt is back to steal snaps and targets from all of the receivers and tight ends and there are better kickers and D/STs to use with no bye weeks in play yet. There will be fantasy value here among these guys this season, but it should be sorted out before trusting them right now.
Chargers: Ronnie Brown, Curtis Brinkley, Robert Meachem, Chargers D/ST
Brinkley ruined Brown's workhorse status a week ago, and Mathews' potential return stands to ruin both backups. Meachem still isn't moving the needle enough with Rivers. And the Chargers D/ST cannot be counted on to have so many botched long snaps every week. Look elsewhere, even if you are down on the Titans.
Lions: Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew
The Packers' poor first three quarters last week prove there may not be many fantasy players who are immune to the rugged matchup that is the 49ers' defense. The first two here are obvious, but we should start to think of Pettigrew as a must-start regardless of the matchup. The Lions love throwing to their tight end and the 49ers did allow Finley in the end zone late last Sunday.
49ers: Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, David Akers, 49ers D/ST
There isn't a whole lot the Lions did a week ago that should keep you from starting any of your 49ers, although we would argue Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree are probably not as good as other alternatives. Gore is facing a decent front, but the way the 49ers play, a healthy Gore shouldn't sit against anyone -- not with Brandon Jacobs unable to vulture the goal-line scores.
Lions: Kevin Smith, Nate Burleson, Titus Young, Tony Scheffler, Jason Hansen, Lions D/ST
There's little need to actively search for players to start against the 49ers' defense, especially running backs. Smith is solid in most weeks, but this is the best run defense in the NFL, one that gave up only two rushing touchdowns a year ago. The rest of these guys don't have much promise to help you in this matchup.
49ers: Alex Smith
He played well against the Packers, who were second-worst in fantasy against quarterbacks in 2011, but the 49ers at home in prime time figure to focus on what they do best: Running the ball, limiting danger in the passing game and playing knockout defense. Smith's 200 yards and touchdown are a safe bet, but there are 20 quarterbacks who will outscore that total.
Broncos: Peyton Manning, Willis McGahee, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Jacob Tamme, Matt Prater
Peyton is back and he's taking everyone on the Broncos' offense into the fantasy elite. This is going to be a shootout with two of the best quarterbacks in the business playing can-you-top-this throughout. McGahee might be the only question mark, but the Broncos still figure to start with the running game, and a John Fox team doesn't figure to abandon it, no matter the score, opponent or Manning's presence.
Falcons: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Bryant
If Ryan doesn't look like a top-five quarterback to you this season, you need an eye exam. Jones, White, Gonzalez and Bryant look immune to matchup issues in fantasy this season. The Broncos have a good secondary, but this game will see plenty of points on the board for both teams.
Broncos: Knowshon Moreno, Broncos D/ST
Moreno scored a rushing touchdown against the Steelers, but that was more of a function of circumstance than anything. He shouldn't be active against a good Falcons run defense. The Broncos' D/ST will have better matchups to make it useful in fantasy, but it is about the worst week to be using the unit as a starter in lineups.
Falcons: Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons D/ST
The Falcons stuck to their word of limiting Turner's touches early in the season. Even in a blowout in Week 1, the Falcons didn't run the ball a whole lot. That doesn't figure to change against a very good Broncos' run defense in a gun-slinging matchup against a Manning. That makes it an awful week to try getting by with the Falcons' D/ST, too.
Week 1 Start 'Em Team
QB: Eli Manning
RB: Darren McFadden
RB: Frank Gore
WR: Reggie Wayne
WR: Eric Decker
TE: Vernon Davis
FLEX: Lance Moore
K: Blair Walsh
Think you can put together a better lineup? Let me have it on Twitter @EricMackFantasy.
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. Track his weekly starts and sits every Wednesday, his Scouting Report on Friday and his Fantasy Fast Forward on Sunday nights. You find also him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice or challenging him to a head-to-head fantasy game @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).
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