NFL Week 2 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
It is Week 2. We get closer to midseason form, but there are still a lot of uncertain situations. What makes it feel slightly like midseason, though, are the injuries we are already dealing with.
Missing will be RB Steven Jackson (quad), WR Marques Colston (shoulder) and Nate Kaeding (knee). Those losses make sleepers out of Cadillac Williams, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and kicker Nick Novak.
Then Arian Foster (hamstring), Hakeem Nicks (knee), Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and Mike Tolbert (leg) could be questionable options, which make Ben Tate, Mario Manningham, Willis McGahee and Ryan Mathews far more intriguing.
As for the players who are healthy and coming off great Week 1s, we get rookie breakout Cam Newton drawing a fierce matchup against the defending champs and Tom Brady gets the best pass defense in the NFL. Only one of those passing leaders from Week 1 should remain active in Week 2 (we will let you guess which one).
Here is Week 2's start 'em, sit 'em broken down game by game:
• QB Rex Grossman, RB Tim Hightower, WR Santana Moss, TE Fred Davis, TE Chris Cooley
Grossman torched the Giants secondary and now he draws the only team that gave up over 400 yards passing to a rookie starter in his NFL debut. The Cardinals secondary was exposed, so this should be another productive day for the Redskins through the air. Davis has emerged as the more intriguing fantasy option over Cooley, but both are viable starts at the tight end position this week. Hightower should also be productive against a Cardinals defense that was suspect against RBs last season.
• QB Kevin Kolb, RB Beanie Wells
The Redskins secondary gave up big plays to the bumbling Giants, so Kolb should have a solid day -- this time with Larry Fitzgerald. Also, the Cardinals won't make the same mistake the Giants did by not establishing a running game. Wells is going to have a good day.
• WR Early Doucet, Cardinals D/ST, Redskins D/ST
Doucet broke a long one in Week 1, but he was a wasted pick off the waiver wire, a flash in the pan. Don't trust him. The defenses look like bad plays in a game that should feature plenty of offense and passing.
• QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Fred Jackson, RB C.J. Spiller
The Raiders gave up 300 yards passing to the Broncos, a team that should have tried to run the ball. The Bills will, so consider Jackson a starter and Spiller a viable flex. Fitzpatrick is also one of the better unheralded fantasy passers.
• RB Darren McFadden
This is a bit obvious, but the Bills did almost blank a higher-rated rusher in Jamaal Charles. They won't be able to stop the only thing the Raiders offense has going for it. Don't use anyone else on the Raiders not named Sebastian Janikowski.
• TE Scott Chandler
Congrats on getting him off waivers. You should have picked someone else, like the Redskins' Davis at TE. Chandler is not yet worthy of starting in fantasy.
• RB Joseph Addai
We have to figure the Colts can't play a wide-open game with Kerry Collins under center. They should focus on ball control and the running game now. Addai and Delone Carter should benefit, but Addai is the only one to trust against a usually solid Browns run defense that was made to look silly late last week against Cincy.
• TE Ben Watson
Watson showed he is a pretty nice sleeper at the position.
• WR Pierre Garcon, WR Austin Collie, QB Collins, RB Carter
The Colts offense laid an egg against one of the most suspect defenses in fantasy. None of these guys can be trusted until we see something, anything, out of them. Only Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark look viable for the Colts on a regular basis now.
• QB Colt McCoy, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, WR Greg Little, WR Brian Robiskie
The Colts aren't a defense to worry about, but the Browns are still an offense to avoid. If they were going to break out, it should have come against the Bungles. They proved the progress is not there yet. Only consider Peyton Hillis viable, and extremely productive, here.
• WR Percy Harvin, D/ST Vikings
Harvin and the Vikings didn't show much against the Chargers, but they were in that game late and that is impressive enough to consider these two viable options coming back home against a far less talented Bucs team. Harvin was more involved in the running game than the passing game, but that could have been a function of a good Chargers secondary. The Bucs secondary isn't bad, but this should be a far more productive week for the woeful Vikings passing game.
• RB LeGarrette Blount, QB Josh Freeman, WR Mike Williams, TE Kellen Winslow
We have at least one coach who recognizes the error of his ways in limiting his linchpin in Week 1: "That's not how we want to win games," Raheem Morris said. "We want to win games with Blount bludgeoning you for 130 yards and having a couple of play-action bombs and being efficient with [Josh Freeman]." It should like a busy day here for Blount, even if the Vikings run defense is solid. Then, as the secondary creeps up to slow him, Freeman and his pair of primary targets will have room to operate up top.
• RB Earnest Graham, QB Donovan McNabb, WR Michael Jenkins, TE Visanthe Shiancoe
You wasted a waiver pick on Graham, who was a beneficiary of circumstance in Week 1. His points are going back to Blount. You might consider buying low on these Vikings options but you shouldn't trust them in your starting lineup at this point.
• QB Joe Flacco, TE Ed Dickson, K Billy Cundiff
There is no real reason to sit anyone for the Ravens in this one. They crushed arguably the best defense in the NFL in the Steelers and now get the Titans. It should be another productive week all around. It will be interesting if we can even get contributions from Lee Evans in this one. We should.
• RB Chris Johnson, WR Kenny Britt
Johnson was quiet in a great matchup and now faces a very difficult one. Don't worry. He is going to break one, and/or when the Ravens get up three scores, he will be heavily used in the passing game. As for Britt, it should be obvious he is headed for a breakthrough as a third-year receiver.
• K Rob Bironas, QB Matt Hasselbeck, TE Jared Cook, RB Ricky Williams, D/ST Titans
Johnson and Britt are the only Titans that can hold water against the Ravens defense. Williams was surprising in Week 1, but he isn't yet enough of the offense to consider week to week at the flex position.
• RB James Starks, WR Jordy Nelson, TE Jermichael Finley
The Panthers are not a good defense, and Starks is already getting his coach's attention as someone that needs the ball more. Nelson has taken over as the Packers' second-best receiver to Greg Jennings, and Finley should continue to improve the further he gets from knee surgery.
• WR Steve Smith, TE Greg Olsen
A quarterback that is breathing makes Smith viable again. Why couldn't the Panthers quarterbacks figure out how to get him the ball a year ago? As for Olsen, the Panthers offense uses the tight end to move the ball and Smith to hit homers. Olsen is the clear favorite over Jeremy Shockey.
• RB Ryan Grant, WR James Jones
These two guys looked like huge busts in Week 1, enough to avoid them even in this favorable matchup. Still, they will have surprising weeks this season, but gauging it with all of the other Packers' threats will be tough. Rookie Randall Cobb is stealing Jones' thunder, but we wouldn't use him either.
• QB Cam Newton
Newton is worth owning after his smashing debut, but he shouldn't be active in any one-quarterback leagues. The Packers are just too good, despite what Drew Brees did in Week 1. This is the perfect test for Newton coming off his 400-yard performance, though. If he can prove productive against the Packers, look out for a huge rookie season.
• QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Hines Ward, TE Heath Miller
This is a game where you start all Steelers and sit all Seahawks. This trio of Steelers might be the only ones you're really questioning. They should be productive here. Emmanuel Sanders might be, too.
• RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Mike Williams
Don't dare trust them, no matter what the Ravens did a week ago. It is payback time for the Steelers D/ST. The Seahawks are going to get shut out, at least fantasy-wise.
• RB Maurice Jones-Drew
He was sturdy enough in Week 1 to consider him an every week starter -- for as long as his knees stay healthy. The Jets aren't a good matchup, but MJD is too good to sit, even against the Jets.
• RB Shonn Greene, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, QB Mark Sanchez, WR Santonio Holmes, WR Plaxico Burress, TE Dustin Keller
Like the Steelers, start all Jets, and even both running backs. Greene struggled against the Cowboys as L.T. was needed in throwing situations during a rally. The Jets won't need to rally here. It should be a busy enough day for both backs against a Jags defense that was awful against RBs last season -- opening week 2011 against the Titans' Johnson not withstanding.
• TE Marcedes Lewis, WR Mike Thomas, QB Luke McCown
Lewis is banged up after his Week 1 disappearing act. The Cowboys moved the ball and scored against the Jets, but the Jags won't, save for MJD.
• RB Jamaal Charles, WR Dwayne Bowe, WR Steve Breaston
The Chiefs' fantasy-friendly opening schedule continues at Detroit, which should give you faith to start this trio -- including a sleeper in Breaston. Charles didn't impress against the Bills, but the Lions were also suspect against RBs a season ago and their Week 1 performance against the Bucs' Blount wasn't enough to convince us a back won't be a good play against them.
• RB Jahvid Best, QB Matthew Stafford, TE Brandon Pettigrew
The Bills made the Chiefs look silly and the Lions are decidedly more talented at every level of the depth chart on offense. There should not be a Lions player you are worried about. Heck, you might even consider the Lions D/ST a sleeper.
• QB Matt Cassel, RB Thomas Jones, D/ST Chiefs
Their performances against the Bills should land them on the bench, if not the waiver wire.
• TE Tony Scheffler
Scheffler will make an impact because the Lions are one of the most TE-heavy offenses in the NFL, but he still has to share targets with Pettigrew, who is the clear TE of choice for as long as he stays healthy.
• QB Jay Cutler
The Saints were shredded by the Packers, but we still have faith they are not going to be taken advantage of each week. With that said, Cutler still deserves more respect in fantasy than he receives. He should be throwing out of a deficit in this one and should put up a top-12 point total among QBs. As for his targets, no one has a clue who is going to get the ball in the Bears offense when Matt Forte isn't running or catching.
• WR Devery Henderson, WR Robert Meachem, TE Jimmy Graham
The Falcons did not have a good day against the Bears, but this trio comes out of Week 1 having gained perhaps the most fantasy value amid the Marques Colston (shoulder) injury. Henderson and Meachem look like they could have big years, especially early with Lance Moore banged up, too.
• RB Mark Ingram, RB Pierre Thomas, Bears D/ST
The Saints RB situation remains in flux and the Bears are not a team that is kind to RBs. Sit Ingram and Thomas another week, unless you play in a deep league or need a flex option. Ingram is slightly better than Thomas. As for the Bears D/ST, you shouldn't willingly start any defense against the circus show the Saints offense is at home.
• RB Felix Jones, WR Dez Bryant, D/ST Cowboys
The 49ers can stuff the run, but so can the Jets, and Jones still made an impact in fantasy with a score. Watch him surprise again. Tony Romo, Miles Austin and Jason Witten are obvious fantasy starters, but Bryant and Jones might be entering that group, too. It looks like it could be a good year (with a weak schedule) for the Cowboys, whose D/ST is a great option against a weak 49ers offense that managed just 12 first downs in Week 1.
• D/ST 49ers, WR Michael Crabtree, WR Braylon Edwards, RB Kendall Hunter, RB Demarco Murray
This is another game to start all of your Cowboys and sit all of your 49ers. Frank Gore and Vernon Davis are the only 49ers worth starting, but they are a bit obvious. Alex Smith isn't going to have it easy against Rob Ryan's defense, and Crabtree and Edwards should suffer from woeful quarterback play. As for the rookie RBs Hunter and Murray, it should take them weeks, if not months, to prove starter-worthy.
• Almost everyone, including RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB Ryan Mathews
You saw what Brady and company did against the Dolphins. Even though the Chargers have the best pass defense in the NFL, you shouldn't sit anyone you're counting on because of it. Tom Brady is just too good. As for Green-Ellis, his mysterious lack of use might be explained by the short week after a Monday night game. Keep him active and expect him to get more carries than Danny Woodhead this time around. As for Mathews, the injury to TD vulture Mike Tolbert could make Mathews a breakthrough player this week. This is going to be a classic Brady vs. Philip Rivers shootout down to the wire.
• K Nick Novak
Novak replaced Nate Kaeding and should one of the busiest kickers in the NFL for as long as he keeps the job.
• WR Chad Ochocinco, RB Tolbert
We already mentioned that Tolbert is banged up, but Ochocinco was M.I.A. in his hometown of M.I.A. Apparently that preseason talk of him not being involved much in the Pats offense holds water. Wes Welker is the Pats' No. 1 fantasy receiver, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are relied on heavily and Deion Branch still holds a special place in the back of Brady's mind. That leaves little for Ochocino at this point. Wait for him to erupt before starting him in fantasy again, especially since that Chargers pass defense is so good.
• RB Reggie Bush, QB Chad Henne, WR Davone Bess, TE Anthony Fasano
This should be another great shootout, especially since Miami proved capable of participating in one. Henne had his first career 400-yard day and now draws a Texans defense that was abused in the secondary last year (we are removing Week 1's stomping of the Colts as a sign they have truly improved against the pass). Henne and all of his targets look like good options here. Bush might even be a factor in the running game, along with the passing game.
• RB Arian Foster (if he plays, and RB Ben Tate, if Foster doesn't)
How is that first-round pick working out for you? You have to start Foster if he is active, but he could be limited with his hamstring issue. If he practices this week, play him. If Foster is out, Tate should be active in all leagues.
• RB Derrick Ward, TE Owen Daniels
Ward was productive in Week 1, but he is not yet trustworthy enough to consider even as a flex option (maybe, just maybe, if Foster is ruled out early, though). Daniels was missing in Week 1 and there are just too many other tight ends coming off good first weeks. Use those over Daniels at this point.
• RB Cedric Benson, TE Jermaine Gresham
We have egg on our face about these two in Week 1. They look like they could be solid regular fantasy options this season. Benson will eventually get banged up, but he will be relied on so heavily with the Bengals quarterback situation the way it is, you have to ride him until he falls apart. Gresham didn't have as many targets with Bruce Gradkowski under center, but he will be a big part of the Bengals passing game.
• QB Kyle Orton
WR Brandon Lloyd is questionable but Orton will still find a way, like he did with 300-plus yards against the Raiders. Those two are really the only Broncos to trust, although RB Willis McGahee could be a sleeper at flex if he gets the start due to injury.
• RB Knowshon Moreno, QB Andy Dalton, WR A.J. Green
Moreno is dealing with a hamstring issue and he really stunk in Week 1 anyway. Even if he plays, it is a short week after a Monday night game. Dalton is dealing with injury, too. Green didn't catch a pass until Gradkowski was in the game
• Start everyone, except perhaps QB Matt Ryan, WR Jeremy Maclin, WR Steve Smith, WR Julio Jones, D/ST Falcons, TE Brent Celek
This should be another shootout, although the Eagles receivers aren't 100 percent. QB Michael Vick, RB LeSean McCoy, WR DeSean Jackson, RB Michael Turner, WR Roddy White, TE Tony Gonzalez and D/ST Eagles are every-week starters. The sits above are more a function of circumstance than matchup. Ryan didn't fare well against the Bears, and the Eagles secondary should be even tougher. That makes the rookie Jones a tough one to trust, too. We can see you sitting these guys, but starting them isn't out of the question either, save for Smith and the Falcons D/ST.
• QB Sam Bradford, RB Cadillac Williams, TE Lance Kendricks
We have no earthly idea where the Rams targets are going to go, but Bradford should benefit from a banged-up Giants defense that looked bad against Grossman and the Redskins last week. The Rams are going to open it up, especially with Steven Jackson (quad) out. His absence makes Williams a must-start, although the Giants do have a decent run defense. As for Kendricks, the Giants gave up a lot to the tight end last week. He is a sleeper.
• QB Eli Manning, WR Mario Manningham, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, RB Brandon Jacobs
The Giants were very disappointing in Week 1, but the Rams are missing both of their starting corners, so give them another start here. Manningham could be the start of the week if Hakeem Nicks (bruised knee) cannot go. Manningham should be productive regardless. Domenik Hixon and Victor Cruz are going to get more targets if Nicks is out, but it would have to be a deep league for you to trust them or TE Jake Ballard. As for the backs, the Giants had to have learned the error of their ways in not trusting their running game. It is the one thing they have going for them. Bradshaw and Jacobs (flex only) will be busier this week.
• D/ST Giants, WR Danny Amendola, WR Brandon Gibson, WR Mike Sims-Walker
The Giants defense is missing a lot of starters, most notably their two top pass-rushing defensive ends. That exposes an already injury-riddled secondary the Redskins gashed. The Rams are going to be a far better passing team than the Redskins, although we have no clue which wide receiver will develop into the go-to guy. Everyone (not this writer) thought it would be Sims-Walker. He caught just one pass for five yards last week. Let the Rams receiver situation sorts itself out before you're starting any of them in fantasy on a regular basis. It could rotate week to week.