NFL Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Week 2
Dolphins are a good target for players streaming fantasy defenses each week
New England says Wes Welker's poor Week 1 was a function of the game plan
Pittsburgh is a poor matchup for Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and the Jets
All the flashing lights on NFL scoreboards made for a lot of fantasy entertainment in Week 1, but also raised a lot of questions now that it's time to set our lineups again.
Do we bench that early round pick who was stuffed or ignored a week ago for one of the surprising waiver pick-ups who helped jack up defenses, like, say, Kevin Ogletree?
No. It is only Week 2, and Week 1 lineup rules still apply.
Don't overreact to what happened in Week 1, just like you didn't overreact to what happened in the preseason. Otherwise, Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris might have been on your roster over Ogletree. D'oh!
Here, we settle the debates you might have with a game-by-game look at the players to start and the players to sit:
Bears: Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall
The Green Bay defense is coming off a loss and generally doesn't get enough blame for a bad 2011 in which it gave up a lot of garbage-time points. Expect the same here, so keep Cutler active along with the weekly starts in Forte and Marshall. Forte might not get the goal-line touches or many yards on the ground against the Packers' underrated run defense, but he will be a factor in the passing game as the Bears try to match the tempo the Packers set.
Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Mason Crosby, Packers D/ST
It won't take until the fourth quarter for the Packers to wake up here, even if the Bears' defense can be a challenge for some teams. Chicago won't stop the Packers coming off a loss. Cobb is a speedy receiver filling the third-down running back role, which means a lot of targets, and Jones is stepping forward for a banged-up Greg Jennings (groin) on the outside. The Packers' D/ST is a solid play because of the protection issues the Bears are expected to have and the turnovers Cutler tends to force.
Bears: Michael Bush, Alshon Jeffery, Bears D/ST
Bush was a revelation in Week 1 with the two short touchdowns, but trips inside the five are going to be harder to come by in Lambeau Thursday. He is a risky play against good run defenses. The Bears will move the ball, but it will have to come via the pass. Scores will have to come from distance, which is not Bush's forte (pun intended). Jeffery is a promising rookie but counting on him early in the season will be a bit dicey. He is still technically behind Marshall, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett on the depth chart. The Bears' D/ST forced turnovers last week, but expecting a disciplined Packers team to play sloppy two weeks in a row is not good for business.
Packers: Cedric Benson, Greg Jennings
The Bears should keep the Packers' running game in check, if they even decide to try, while Jennings looks doubtful to play on short rest due to a groin issue. If he does play, he figures to be limited, and Rodgers has too many other options to target.
Chiefs: Jamaal Charles, Dexter McCluster
After an awful opener by the Bills' defense, don't feel wary of using any Chiefs, but these are the only two to fully trust right now. Dwayne Bowe is not yet full-go in coordinator Brian Daboll's new offense, while McCluster is looking like a PPR gem now that he is working as a slot receiver. Matt Cassel, Steve Breaston, Jonathan Baldwin and Tony Moeaki are better as sleepers or bye-week replacements than Week 2 starters.
Bills: C.J. Spiller, Stevie Johnson
Taking over for Fred Jackson (knee), Spiller becomes a top-10, if not a top-five, fantasy running back. Start him in all leagues, regardless of the matchup, at least the rest of this month. Johnson proved healthy and productive a week ago and elite Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers (heel) isn't 100 percent, if he even plays.
Chiefs: Peyton Hillis
This is one Chief to be cold on this week. He was awful against a solid Falcons run defense and the Bills' front should be considered at least as good. Plus, that 50-50 split with Charles will be tough to achieve if Charles runs the way he did a week ago.
Bills: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills D/ST
Fitzpatrick was terrible until garbage-time salvaged his Week 1 fantasy total. Don't expect the Bills to be chasing and pushing the tempo in this one, even if they do fall behind. Fitzpatrick just isn't a top-20 fantasy quarterback. On the other side of the ball we got a dreadful performance in Week 1 from a defense many expected to be great. The Chiefs have better weapons, and the Bills need to prove something before you consider them in fantasy again.
Raiders: Carson Palmer, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders D/ST
The Dolphins look like the team to take advantage of in fantasy, particularly if you like to stream your D/ST based on the matchup. The Dolphins didn't do much defensively to make anyone worry about starting any of the Raiders' top offensive weapons, either. Palmer, particularly, will be better the more work he gets with his wideouts and the more teams try to stack the box against McFadden.
Dolphins: Reggie Bush
He is absolutely the only thing the Dolphins have going for them right now. Even if the Raiders stuff the run, Bush figures to be the leading receiver. He is more of a flex option, but starting him as a second running back in a PPR league still will make sense in most weeks.
Raiders: Denarius Moore, Rod Streater
Moore (hamstring) missed Monday night, so the rookie Streater hauled in a touchdown. Moore might play here, which cuts into Streater's targets and potential. Moore needs to prove healthy and productive before he can be trusted.
Dolphins: Everyone not named Bush
There isn't anything to like about the Dolphins' other fantasy options. Perhaps the only one worth owning is Davone Bess, and you should have plenty of better receiver options to choose from before the bye weeks.
Ravens: Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Justin Tucker, Ravens D/ST
Flacco already minced the Bengals, and this game should prove to be wide open late, making it fantasy friendly for the group above. You might not need Flacco to start, but you shouldn't feel like you can't trust him. Rice looks like he has more company in the weekly must-start category this year.
Eagles: LeSean McCoy, Alex Henery
Ravens week is usually a time to consider sitting your running back and kicker. Not these two, though. They are going to be factors against everyone.
Ravens: Dennis Pitta
He might be a sleeper this season after reeling in a touchdown in the opener, but Ed Dickson is still the Ravens tight end to own in fantasy. You probably shouldn't consider starting either, barring an injury to your starter or a bye week.
Eagles: Michael Vick, Eagles D/ST
Vick was a disaster against the Browns, so he isn't trustworthy against the Ravens. They made the Bengals' lives miserable Monday night. Until Vick proves otherwise, you should consider someone else for your starting quarterback. And, with Vick's struggles, Jeremy Maclin (hip), DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek look no better than low-end starter options.
Bucs: Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson
The Giants are coming off a stinging Week 1 loss and the Bucs couldn't muster much against the Panthers' defense at home. With the Giants expected to open the offense up, get a lead and pin the Bucs' ears back with their NASCAR rush, only trust these two standouts in the Bucs offense. They should get plenty of numbers, regardless of the score.
Giants: Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Martellus Bennett, Giants D/ST
The Bucs did a number on the Panthers a week ago, but this is a far less one-dimensional offense. Feel confident sticking with all of your primary Giants, and you might want to include tight end Bennett in that mix. He looks like a top-12 fantasy tight end this season after opening with a touchdown in Week 1.
Bucs: Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount, Mike Williams, Buccaneers D/ST
Freeman will be facing a far better rush this week than he did in the opener, so there should be some turnovers coming. Williams reeled in a score, but most of the targets figure to be going to Jackson and Martin. Consider Williams more of a sleeper/bye-week replacement. As for the Bucs' D/ST, it will be facing a team more capable of running the ball and scoring in the red zone. There are better options out there.
Giants: David Wilson
He fumbled away his chance to eat into Bradshaw's time early in the season. The Giants will go back to working him in slowly, using Wilson merely to give Bradshaw a breather. Wilson needs a Bradshaw injury, or a blowout, to become a viable fantasy starter right now.
Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald
This game could have a lot of garbage time, so don't be wary of trusting Fitzgerald even with John Skelton (ankle) out. The Pats' defense looks much improved with its draft additions, but if you need a sleeper, try receiver Andre Roberts off waivers. Kolb found him late against the Seahawks and there figures to be a deficit to work back from this week.
Patriots: Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots D/ST
Welker is the only one who is a question mark. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels promises his lack of usage a week ago was merely a function of a one-week game plan and not a phasing out in lieu of Lloyd or the tight ends (or because of contract status). That sounds like lip service, but Welker is healthy, so give him and his incredibly steady career with Brady the benefit of the doubt.
Cardinals: Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, Cardinals D/ST
That Pats' run defense made a mockery of the Titans, and the timeshare between the Cardinals' running backs is not a positive one. One of them needs to run away with the job before becoming fantasy worthy. No defense is a good play against the Pats, who now have a top running back to go with the aerial assault. Turnovers and sacks just aren't easy to come by here.
Patriots: Julian Edelman
OK, so you probably don't even register this name right now, but it should be noted he did take Welker's slot position on 23 snaps in Week 1. It was almost a slot receiver platoon. Don't use Edelman yet, but you should watch him as a potential sleeper and as a bye-week replacement if his snaps and targets continue to rise.
Texans: Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Shayne Graham, Texans D/ST
Save for Foster, it wasn't a great performance by the Texans against the suspect Dolphins. The Jaguars should put up more of a fight, but it shouldn't keep you from trusting any of these guys. It might even make Schaub and Daniels more intriguing as they won't be running out the clock on the ground most of the game. Daniels is a tight end starter in fantasy because he rates right behind Johnson and Foster as Schaub's primary targets. Few tight ends in football are that high in the pecking order in a productive offense.
Jaguars: Maurice-Jones Drew
Rashad Jennings (knee) gave way to MJD a lot sooner than expected and the must-start-in-all-matchups MJD is back. The Texans have a great run defense, but MJD totes the load against anyone and with any score, as he showed a year ago.
Texans: Ben Tate
Tate was one of the biggest busts of Week 1 as Foster proved healthy enough to carry the load throughout, even when the game was a blowout late. Blowing out the upstart Jags isn't likely. Tate needs to prove to be more a part of the game plan before we consider him as a starter with Foster healthy.
Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert, Rashad Jennings, Laurent Robinson, Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts, Marcedes Lewis, Josh Scobee, Jaguars D/ST
The Texans might not have the high profile of the Ravens, 49ers or even the Cowboys, but this is one of the defenses to be very wary of starting fantasy players against. The Texans will show it against good offenses, too, not just the Dolphins. Gabbert has shown promise this year, but this Jags offense is still barely in the serviceable category for fantasy purposes. Don't trust these guys against a quality defensive opponent like Houston.
Saints: Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Garrett Hartley, Saints D/ST
The Saints are due for an inspired effort at Carolina after a rare home loss. Also, the Panthers are going to put up points after laying an egg at Tampa Bay offensively. Expect a shootout here, so trust everyone you need who is involved with the Saints' passing attack, including third-down back Sproles and No. 2 receiver Moore.
Panthers: Cam Newton, Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell
Give Newton a pass for that poor Week 1 effort against a division bottom-feeder. Whether or not the Panthers start well against the Saints, they are going to wake up 2011-style in garbage time if the Saints blow this out. LaFell is a third-year receiver who isn't quite a must-start but he is a solid option against a Saints secondary that was abused by a rookie quarterback a week ago.
Saints: Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas
A healthy Ingram didn't matter, apparently. The Saints just don't plan a running game. Ingram should eventually earn more touches, but until New Orleans shows confidence in him, don't trust him as a fantasy starter. Thomas is even less intriguing as a backup, and not the goal-line back. Ingram might get a goal-line score, but it isn't worth crossing your figures for one.
Panthers: DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart
Stewart's absence a week ago was supposed to mean a surprising week for Williams. It was merely more of 2011: no running game to speak of and limited use in the short passing game. It looks like the Panthers haven't improved a thing with their offensive line in relation to a running game or using their backs as anything more than pass protectors for Newton.
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