QB: Colin Kaepernick vs. IND – After struggling mightily on Sunday Night Football, many are thinking of benching Colin Kaepernick – I’m here to tell you that’s a bad idea. CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks home field, has consistently proven to be the hardest place to play in the NFL – over the last two seasons, the Seahawks are 9-0 there, allowing just 13.8 points per game. It should come as no surprise that Kaepernick struggled there in the Seahawks’ home opener. This week he has a much easier matchup against an ordinary Colts’ secondary – don’t bench him for last week’s struggles.
RB: Joique Bell at WAS – Despite playing behind Reggie Bush for the first two games, Joique Bell is currently 7th in PPR scoring. Bell proved a solid fit for the Lions offense last season, catching 52 passes for 485 yards and rushing efficiently for 5.0 yards per carry (YPC). This season he’s taken goal-line back duties while doubling as Bush’s versatile backup. Now, with the best possible matchup on the horizon, Reggie Bush is 50/50 to play. The Redskins are allowing 201 rushing yards per game at a putrid 5.5 yards per carry. They even allowed backup-level talent James Starks to have a career best game, rushing 20 times for 132 yards and a touchdown last week. If Bush doesn’t play, Bell is a must-start RB1. Even if Bush does start, I’d feel extremely comfortable starting Bell as a flex with upside behind a dinged-up Bush.
Bernard Pierce vs. HOU – Assuming Ray Rice sits out this week because of his hip injury, I’d start Bernard Pierce. Although this is a difficult matchup against a stingy Texans’ defense, with the scarcity at running back I have a hard time finding 20 running backs I’d rather play. Pierce, a big back with deceptive 4.49 speed, has never been short on talent. With a monster workload, I’m giddy to see what he can do.
Knowshon Moreno vs. OAK – Let me preface this by saying I’m not a fan of Moreno’s talent – even on his 25-yard touchdown down the sideline, he looked like his burst has all but evaporated and doesn’t make tacklers miss in the open field. That said, Moreno doesn’t make mistakes (in terms of holding on to the ball and executing on blitz pickups), which can’t be said for Ronnie Hillman or Montee Ball, this keeps Moreno on the field. Moreno isn’t a special talent but will get what’s blocked and with the Sheriff running the show, there will be opportunities for big fantasy days. Oakland has been solid against the run this season but considering they’ve faced just the Colts (Vick Ballard) and the Jaguars (an injured Maurice Jones-Drew) – I’ll take their favorable stats with a grain of salt. Moreno will have room to run against the Raiders.
Stevan Ridley vs. TB – Despite two difficult games in a row, I’m still not backing off Stevan Ridley. With the Patriots’ current lack of offensive weapons, they need to rely on their few remaining playmakers. As of this week, that list is only two players long: Stevan Ridley and Julian Edelman. After rushing for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, I have no doubts about Ridley’s talent or workload. My only real problem with listing him as a ‘Start’ is his matchup with the Bucs, who continue to be stingy against the run, however they’re yet to be tested by a great rushing team.
WR: Julian Edelman vs. TB – There’s an ongoing debate about whether Julian Edelman will draw Darrelle Revis in coverage on Sunday. I’m skeptical – Edelman is replacing Danny Amendola in the slot and running routes over the middle. Revis usually guards the opposition’s top outside receiver. My guess is Revis will matchup with Edelman a few times in two-WR sets but in heavy passing situations, Revis will likely matchup with Kenbrell Thompkins or Aaron Dobson. This leaves Edelman as a must-start. He’s coming an absurd 18-target game and is the only reliable Patriot pass-catcher.
Anquan Boldin vs. IND – Guys like Richard Sherman show us how important matchups are. After exploding against the Packers for 208 yards and a touchdown, Boldin was shutdown by Sherman to the tune of one catch for seven yards. While both games look like outliers, Boldin should get back on track this week. Facing the Colts’ secondary that allowed Mike Wallace to catch nine passes for 115 yards and a touchdown, I like Boldin’s chances.
Miles Austin vs. STL – Coming off a three catch, 31-yard performance against the Chiefs, Miles Austin looks poised for a bounce back performance against the Rams. While the Chiefs’ solid defense is 7th against the pass, the Rams are currently 27th. The Rams have also allowed the most receiving yards to wide receivers this season. It doesn’t hurt that the Cowboys offense is struggling in terms of efficiency so far this season because there’s a good chance that turns around soon. Tony Romo is currently averaging 6.2 yards per attempt, for comparative purposes, in his career he’s thrown for as high as 8.6 yards per attempt and but never lower than 7.5. Look for the Cowboys offense to get back on track soon.
Hakeem Nicks at TB – Hakeem Nicks hasn’t looked like the wide receiver who took the league by storm in 2010, catching 11 touchdowns as a 2nd year pro. Still, he looks good enough to exploit a plus matchup against the Panthers. The Panthers secondary is severely banged up, cornerback Josh Thomas, Josh Norman and D.J. Moore all sat out Wednesday’s practice and starting free safety Quintin Mikell has also been ruled out for Week 3. Nicks will have plenty of opportunities through the air with the Giants’ lack of a run game.
TE: Jared Cook at DAL – Following his explosion in Week 1, Jared Cook had just one catch for 10 yards against Atlanta. Although Cook saw six targets, him and Bradford struggled to get on the same page. Cook remains a big part of the Rams’ offense and a weekly starter at tight end. This week he faces a Dallas defense that allowed Brandon Myers to catch seven passes for 66 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.
QB: Tom Brady vs. TB – Despite my love for the Patriots, it was excruciatingly painful watching their offense last week. An offense that previously dominated teams with offensive chess pieces (Welker, Gronkowski, Hernandez, etc.) at each position is now struggling just to get first downs. I do expect them to improve each week and Brady’s fantasy value will be fine once Gronkowski and Amendola return but this week, expect the Patriots to struggle. Their only reliable target through the air last week was Julian Edelman, aside from that it was ugly. For this week, I’d trust Eli Manning over Brady.
RB: James Starks at CIN – Everyone saw Starks explode for 132 rushing yards and a touchdown last week and rushed to the waiver wire to pick him up – I’m still not a big fan. The Packers know better than anyone what Starks has to offer and still had him behind DuJuan Harris and Eddie Lacy on the depth chart. In simple terms, he’s a backup-level talent and likely won’t be much except for a handcuff once Lacy returns. Starks exploded last week due to a date with the league’s worst run defense, this week he faces one of the league’s best run defenses. Considering Matt Forte rushed 19 times for just 50 yards against the Bengals, I’m not trusting Starks.
Maurice Jones-Drew at SEA – The most recent news on Jones-Drew calls his status for Sunday’s game “up in the air.” Although he could still play, I’m advising owners to bench him. Jones-Drew hasn’t topped 45 rushing yards this season and this week he faces the Seahawks, at CenturyLink Field, not a good recipe for success. Considering Seattle held Gore nine rushes for 16 yards, I’d bench Jones-Drew.
Jacquizz Rodgers at MIA – Despite drawing the start with Steven Jackson out, Jacquizz Rodgers is not someone to get excited about. A career 3.55 YPC runner, Rodgers has consistently struggled to run the ball out of the backfield – he finished with 17 yards on 11 carries last week. He does carry some low-upside flex value in PPR leagues but with Jason Snelling stealing the goal-line carries, Rodgers is hard to get excited about.
WR: Cecil Shorts at SEA – Despite a solid game against the Raiders with Chad Henne back as his quarterback, Shorts faces the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field this Sunday. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to wide receivers this season, allowing just 13 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown in two games. I’m a big believer in Shorts’ talent but this is a hands-off matchup.
Stevie Johnson at NYJ – Although Johnson went off for 111 yards and a touchdown last week against Carolina’s banged up secondary, he squares off with Antonio Cromartie this week. Cromartie is one of the shutdown corners left in the game and will make Johnson work hard for his catches. I’m not bullish about his prospects.
James Jones at CIN – I’ve owned James Jones in fantasy leagues for years and somehow he struggles to be consistent after big games. In his career Jones has eight 100-yard games. Only once has he topped 65 yards in the next game. It may be a coincidence so start him if you don’t have other options but if you do, bench him.
TE: Kyle Rudolph vs. CLE – With just five catches in his first two games, Kyle Rudolph continues to need a touchdown to provide weekly fantasy value. The Browns defense has looked improved this season and has allowed just seven catches for 80 yards to tight ends through two games. I don’t expect Rudolph to score and wouldn’t feel comfortable relying on him this week.
Thanks for reading. Hit me up on Twitter @BraudeM or post below for any lineup questions you guys have!