QB: Peyton Manning at ATL – Manning looked like his old self against the Steelers, completing 19-of-26 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He was efficient moving the ball down the field with short-to-intermediate throws and audibled effectively to free up pass-catchers. The Steelers offense kept the ball out of his hands and the Broncos only needed Manning to attempt 26 passes in order to secure the win. This week, against the Falcons, it’s fair to assume that the Broncos will need to pass much more to keep up with the league’s hottest team in an exciting shootout.
RB: C.J. Spiller vs. KC – Spiller went off in Week 1 against the Jets – rushing 14 times for 169 yards and a touchdown, while adding another two catches for 25 yards. According to Pro Football Focus, Spiller forced eight missed tackles on 16 touches. No other player forced more than six missed tackles. If that’s not enough to convince you that he’s a special talent – over his last 17 games, Spiller has averaged 6.03 yards per carry. When Jackson missed the final six games last year, Spiller averaged 105.5 total yards per game and scored five touchdowns. You just can’t leave this guy on your bench.
Reggie Bush vs. OAK – I’m not the biggest Reggie Bush fan but he seems to have gotten lost in all of the Week 1 hoopla. He had a tough matchup with the Texans but still churned out 4.5 YPC on 14 carries and caught six balls for 46 yards. This week Daniel Thomas will sit out, due to a concussion, which will give Bush additional snaps. He’s the obvious offensive focal point and a solid RB2 this week.
Stevan Ridley vs. ARI – You likely don’t need me to tell you this, again, but I want to make sure owners don’t let Ridley go back to the bench this week. He played 40-of-67 snaps and stands alone as the Patriots lead back. Ridley rushed 21 times for 125 yards, which amounts to a fantastic 6 YPC, and even added 2 catches for 27 yards. There are many reasons to be excited about the young stud, keep him rolling this week in what should be a blowout against the Cardinals.
Darren Sproles at CAR – After a tough week for the Saints, it’s conceivable that some fantasy owners would like to bench Darren Sproles. History would disagree – in Sproles’ last six games he’s averaging 85.3 total yards and six catches a game, while adding seven touchdowns. It may not have been an ideal start to the season but he’s someone you simply can’t bench.
WR: Brandon Lloyd vs. ARI – This is a lovely opportunity for Brandon Lloyd’s breakout party. He showed a lot last week and could’ve had a huge game if not for one deep miscue with Brady, narrowly missing out on a 50-yard touchdown after Lloyd got behind the Titans defense. Even more encouraging, Lloyd had a game-high eight targets and led all receivers in snaps with 57 – 14 more than Welker. Expect Brady and Lloyd to connect on a deep ball this week against the Cardinals.
Eric Decker at ATL – Peyton Manning showed that he’s back in the opener; the only thing that held the Broncos passing offense back was their lack of attempts. As I said above, I don’t believe this will happen against the Falcons high-powered offense – Manning will likely be closer to 40 attempts. This will give Decker chances he needs to break out and it doesn’t hurt that the Falcons are without starting CB Brent Grimes. Manning and Decker’s chemistry was evident on several plays; I’m expecting big things this week.
Randall Cobb vs. CHI – If you’ve followed my fantasy writing at all, you know that I’m a big fan of Randall Cobb. From his first NFL game, he returned an incredible kick return for a touchdown – the kid’s a special talent (I’m allowed to call him a kid because I’m a month older than he is). The question with Cobb was always about opportunity, never about talent. Last week the Packers showed that they have big plans for Cobb this year – he caught nine passes for 77 yards and added a 75-yard punt return touchdown. More importantly, he operated out of the backfield 19 times and consistently provided a mismatch for the opposing defense. I believe he’ll provide the Packers with a role similar to Percy Harvin (some work in the slot and out of the backfield) and Darren Sproles. Cobb’s run after the catch ability and total number of catches has the potential to make him a PPR beast. And if you’re worried about playing time, listen to this stat from Pro Football Focus: Sproles played 45% of the Saints 2011 snaps, in the opener Cobb played 52.7%.
Austin Collie vs. MIN – If you’re running low on options at wide receiver, don’t be afraid to trot out Austin Collie. He’s starting opposite Reggie Wayne and has shown a knack for getting open throughout his career. Last year he struggled with a combination of Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, and Kerry Collins at quarterback, but in 2010 with Peyton Manning he averaged 6.4 catches for 72.1 yards per game with eight touchdowns in 9 games before succumbing to concussion problems. Don’t forget during the preseason, before his most recent concussion, Collie was Luck’s favorite target.
UPDATE: Collie was held out of Colts practice Thursday after practicing in “full” on Wednesday. If you plan to start him, have a contingency plan in order.
TE: Jared Cook at SD – Jared Cook started the season on a positive note, leading the Titans with 64 receiving yards. More importantly, he played 60-of-65 offensive snaps (92.3%). Due his liability as a blocker, Cook played just 59.1% of the Titans offensive snaps last season. With a full complement of snaps, Cook can be extremely dangerous – his talent as a pass-catcher was never in question. Don’t be afraid to trot him out against the Chargers.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger vs. NYJ – After posting a sub-par performance against the Broncos, I see little reason to start Roethlisberger against the Jets. Rex Ryan’s defense looked scary good in Week 1 against an outmatched Bills offense. It’d be best to avoid Roethlisberger this week if you have other options.
RB: Trent Richardson at CIN – Here’s a guy that I loved before the preseason and has dropped every since. I guess the old saying is true (except for Doug Martin) “never trust a rookie running back.” Sadly Richardson lacks a quarterback that will draw the defense’s attention – instead he has the opposite, a quarterback that allows the opposing defense to stuff the box. It also doesn’t help that Richardson isn’t 100% and has missed out on valuable preseason reps. I saw nothing in Week 1 that leads me to believe that Richardson will recover and have a good week against the Bengals.
Shonn Greene at PIT – This one is pretty simple, I don’t believe the Steelers will hand the Jets the game and give Greene a chance to run 27 times against them. In fact, Greene didn’t top 24 rushes in any game last season. Honestly, I believe that Greene is a sub-par volume running back that had enough carries to carve out a productive fantasy day – I don’t believe that will happen this week against a stronger defense. It doesn’t help that Greene doesn’t play on third downs and doesn’t make any tacklers miss.
Kevin Smith at SF – My consistent readers will be surprised to see his name on the ‘Sit’ list but this one comes from the matchup. The 49ers have shown consistently that they can shut down the opponents running game. I love Kevin Smith’s ability and his effectiveness in the passing game makes him a more reliable option than others would be in this situation but it’s simple – he’s not going to rush for many yards (the 49ers held the Packers to 45 rushing yards) and the Lions aren’t going to score a lot of points. If you have other options, play them.
Willis McGahee at ATL – I do believe that Broncos/Falcons will be a shootout but I don’t believe McGahee will have a big role. He finished last week with 16 carries for 64 yards and a fumble – ceding passing downs to Moreno. Sporting News beat writer Andrew Mason reported McGahee’s days of 20-25 carries in a game are “over.” In what will be a pass-heavy game, I’d leave McGahee out of your lineup.
WR: Darrius Heyward-Bey at MIA – The Raiders offense looked dreadful in Week 1 – showing no ability to throw the ball downfield, seemingly force feeding McFadden for guarded catches with no where to go. I’d hate to start an Oakland receiver until we see more ability to pass the ball down the field.
Anquan Boldin at PHI – Anquan Boldin has started each of the last few seasons hot before fading down the stretch. Even with his 34-yard score last week (that looked like a drop), I don’t believe Boldin will provide much more than weak WR3 numbers against the Eagles this week.
Kevin Ogletree at SEA – After starting the season with a huge Week 1 on national television, Kevin Ogletree was one of the hottest wavier wire pickups this week. With Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten also on the Cowboys, I don’t believe that Ogletree will continue to be productive. He only played 33-of-68 snaps but dominated a defense that was concerned with giving up plays to Dez Bryant. I’d find better options before trotting him out this week.
TE: Fred Davis at STL – After opening the season with just two catches for 38 yards, there’s little reason to believe Fred Davis is going to have a big role this season. He wasn’t a part of the Redskins offensive game plan in the preseason and nothing has changed during the regular season. Even with Garcon’s injury in the 1st quarter, he was targeted just four times. Sorry guys but it’s time to move on until he shows something.
Thanks for reading! Hit me up on Twitter @BraudeM or post below for any lineup questions you guys have!