September 18, 2008

Week 2 of the NFL season was wrought with problems all over the fantasy landscape. Luckily no big stars went down, but a huge wind, Hurricane Ike, wreaked havoc on the league, delaying a game for the Texans and Ravens and adversely affecting two more in Ohio.

The biggest fantasy controversy of the week happened on what was seemingly a great play, and prompts me to say (sarcastically): Thank you very much, DeSean Jackson. The Philadelphia rookie's ridiculous premature "celebration" in Monday night's loss to the Cowboys didn't only cost him status as one of the NFL's brightest new receiver, it cost thousands of fantasy football players, including yours truly, a win. Not only did my team, which lost in the Experts league by just six points, lose the TD from Jackson, we also lost the TD pass from Donovan McNabb. Luckily, unlike hundreds more I'm sure, my opponent didn't have Brian Westbrook,who capitalized one play later with one of his three TDs on the day. This is just another example of how cruel fantasy football can sometimes be even if you put the best team on the field. Still, To be in position to win, you have to make the right decisions, and that's why we're here to help.

Matt Cassel, QB, Patriots: Starting his first game since high school, Cassel did a credible job against the Jets, becoming the first QB to ever defeat Brett Favre while making his NFL starting debut. This week he, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, et al face a Dolphins defense that has allowed five passing TDs through the first two games. New England was cautious in calling plays for Cassel against the tough Jets secondary. Look for them to loosen the reins at home against a clearly inferior team

Matt Hasselbeck, QB Seahawks:Mike Holmgren's Seahawks have been holding cattle calls for healthy receivers and will start the game with a rookie (Courtney Taylor) on one side and a street free agent out of football last week (Koren Robinson) on the other. However, the Rams have been so ghastly defensively the first two weeks (averaging 3 TD passes allowed), there's no reason to believe that Hasselbeck won't be able to connect with his new crop of pass catchers plus new go-to guys John Carlson and Julius Jones enough at home to make it worth your while.

J.T. O'Sullivan, QB 49ers: Do you feel lucky? If he's on your team this is the week to trot out the nomad QB. The toast of the preseason, O'Sullivan threw for an impressive 321 yards on 20-32 passing with a TD last week against the Seahawks. Seattle's defense sacked O'Sullivan eight times, but they're good. The Lions have just two sacks through two games (only the Bengals have fewer) and they're not. With added time in the pocket, O'Sullivan could have an even bigger game. One more factor to consider: offensive coordinator Mike Martz is facing his old team. The last time that happened was in 2006, when the Lions lost to the Rams when Martz called two pass plays (43) for every run (21) in a 41-34 shootout.

Jerious Norwood, RB, Falcons:Michael Turner's backup is averaging 5.6 yards on 20 carries this year, and with the Chiefs' second-worst rushing defense coming to town this week, both he and Turner will be given ample opportunities to run wild. They'll both find their way into the end zone against a team that allowed 6.4 yards per carry and two running TDs to the Raiders last week.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: Mo-Jo has been a big disappointment thus far this season, gaining just 30 yards on 12 carries through two games, but this is the week he rebounds. Working behind a patchwork offensive line, Jones-Drew has been generally ignored by Jacksonville's play-calling. However look for the line to gel this week and for the Jags to call Jones-Drew's number more and his touches to increase dramatically, if for no other reason to keep Peyton Manning's offense on the sidelines.

Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets: Favre's a prime time player and has always excelled on Monday nights, averaging 250 yards and 2.1 TDs when Al Michaels is calling the game since '01. Cotchery is the Jets' best deep threat, and like Greg Jennings last year, who caught a memorable game-winner in overtime against the Broncos in a big Monday night matchup, you can expect Cotchery to score on at least one Favre home run throw in San Diego.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons: Chances for big games this season will be few and far between for White as his Falcons go through the growing pains of supporting a rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan. This is one of those weeks, so look for White, Ryan and the rest of Atlanta's passing game to click against a Kansas City secondary that starts two rookies at cornerback.

Donald Lee, TE, Packers: TheCowboys usually mean trouble for opposing tight ends with Roy Williams patrolling the field. But the Cowboys starting strong safety and his broken arm will be watching from the sidelines at Lambeau, so Lee, who has caught just five balls for 37 yards from Aaron Rodgers, should be allowed some scoring chances in what figures to be another offensive circus. Third wideout James Jones, who made his debut in Week 2, is also a solid start.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Don't give up on Palmer just yet, but this is a good week to go with an alternative (possibly someone above) since the anemic Bengals go to the Meadowlands to face the Giants. Palmer, who has thrown for 4,000 yards in each of the last two seasons, has fewer passing yards this season than illustrious passers such as Kyle Orton, JaMarcus Russell and Tarvaris Jackson while Big Blue has allowed only 258 net passing yards in the first two weeks.

Derek Anderson, QB, Browns: Facing a well-rested Ravens defense is not the way for Anderson, the NFL's 29th-rated passer (out of 32 qualifiers), to break out of his early season slump. In two games at M&T Bank Stadium, Anderson has racked up 497 yards, but has just two TDs compared to three INTs.

Joseph Addai, RB Colts: You used one of the top picks in the draft on Addai and all you've received in return for your confidence has been the 42nd-ranked rusher in the league who has one less rushing yard than the aforementioned Jackson. Not what you wanted. This week won't be any brighter as Addai has historically struggled against the Jaguars. In four previous meetings he's averaged just 47.3 yards and scored no TDs.

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