September 25, 2009

The RotoExperts staff looks ahead to Week 2, with lineup recommendations in every game capsule.

The Ravens are allowing a league-low 41 rushing yards per game, rendering the rickety Jamal Lewis unstartable. Braylon Edwards offered a glimpse of his immense talent with six catches for 92 yards in Week Two, and with the Browns likely in a pass-first mode, he's a safe bet to produce WR2 numbers. Nobody else in Cleveland is worth your time. The much-hyped Ray Rice has delivered to a certain extent, but the unexpected explosiveness of Willis McGahee (164 total yards and four touchdowns in two games), and the annoying presence of LeRon McLain (15 handles and a TD) are limiting his breakout potential. The scoring opportunities will be there against a Cleveland squad allowing over 30 points per contest, but counting on either Rice or McGahee to contribute anything more than RB3 value is a risky proposition. Joe Flacco has quickly climbed into lower-tiered QB1 territory, and with two touchdowns and 83 yards, Todd Heap is gaining fantasy intrigue after a two-year hiatus. Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and the surprising Kelly Washington have shown Flex play capabilities, but none has established himself as Flacco's go-to receiver as of yet. Of the three, Mason is still the safest option. -- Chris Ryan

STANDOUT STARTS: Braylon Edwards, Joe Flacco, Todd Heap


After a bad game, look for Tom Brady to quickly reassert his dominance by checking underneath to Wes Welker (he's expected to play), and bombing pinpoint missiles to Randy Moss. All three remain top-tier options. Benjamin Watson is producing at a Top 12 TE level, and talent-wise, there's no reason to think he can't continue at this pace. Consider him in the Jeremy Shockey/Zach Miller/Dustin Keller tight end grouping. With no definitive leader emerging in the backfield, there's still no reason to start any of the Patriots running backs. As long as the Falcons can prevent the Patriots from gaining a big lead, they'll be able to use Michael Turner in typical workhorse fashion. The yards per carry (YPC) might not be pretty (3.4), but Turner will accumulate plenty of yardage, and he's always a threat to score. Some people have been slow to anoint, but Matt Ryan is a pretty clear-cut QB1. Unless the matchup is atrocious he should be started in every format. And as long as Ryan is viable, Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White will be exceptional, and Michael Jenkins remains an uninspiring, yet reliable WR3. - CR

STANDOUT STARTS: Benjamin Watson, Matt Ryan

BANISH TO THE BENCH: The Patriots backfield

Your quest for fantasy production in San Francisco begins and ends with Frank Gore. The studly back has accounted for over 50 percent of all total yards, and has scored every touchdown for the Niners. Minnesota is stout defensively, but Gore can't be benched at the rate he's producing. If you're playing deep, Isaac Bruce and Vernon Davis could fill a role, although relying on either isn't recommended. Everyone knows of the Vikings defensive prowess, but the unit in San Fran is nearing dominant status by allowing a measly 13 points and 53 rushing yards a game in their first two contests. Not that those figures should scare Adrian Peterson owners, but there's a good chance this matchup turns into a grind-it-out defensive battle. Players like Brett Favre, Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin shouldn't be counted on to contribute at a high-level. Visanthe Shiancoe, on the other hand, should be in line for plenty of panicky Favre outlet tosses. Give him one more week in the starting lineup before jettisoning the locker-room flasher. - CR

STANDOUT STARTS: Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, Visanthe Shiancoe

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Brett Favre, Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin

There's no excuse for Jason Campbell or Clinton Portis not to dominate this week. The Lions are surrendering a league-high 36 points per game, and fall in the bottom half of both passing and rushing yards allowed. If you're in search of a spot start, Campbell's your guy, and if you value destructive production at the RB1 position, Portis will contribute that with ease this week. Other than Chris Cooley, there isn't a Washington pass catcher that has earned a fantasy starting nod, although it does seem about time for Santana Moss to have his yearly "freak-out" game. Detroit remains a two player system. Calvin Johnson catches the ball with reliability, and Kevin Smith seems to find a way to produce double-digit fantasy numbers one way or another. Expect normal production from the duo, and little else from the remaining Lions. Rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew did notch four catches for 40 yards last week, so he may have some long-term value. - CR

STANDOUT STARTS: Jason Campbell, Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Kevin Smith

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Antwaan Randle-El, Malcolm Kelly

A few months ago, the Eagles were looking sharp. Without their two green-dotted field generals (MLB Stewart Bradley is on IR and Donovan McNabb is doubtful for Sunday with a fractured rib) they're just not the same team. While first-time starter Kevin Kolb filled in admirably for McNabb, the same can't be said for MLB Omar Gaither, who's just not good enough to play at such a demanding position. Plus, much of Kolb's 391 passing yards were a product of the Saints' early lead. Thankfully, Philly won't need much to defeat the struggling Chiefs, who only have one fantasy player worthy of consideration in most formats -- WR Dwayne Bowe. McNabb has been all but ruled out of Sunday's game, but if Brian Westbrook (ankle) and DeSean Jackson (groin) are healthy enough to suit up, the Eagles should romp by 20 over Kansas City.-- Antonio D'Arcangelis

STANDOUT STARTS: Kevin Kolb, Dwayne Bowe, Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson (if healthy)

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Larry Johnson, Brent Celek, Matt Cassel

These are teams heading in different directions. The Titans, with Michael Roos and David Stewart -- two of the finest run-blocking tackles in the league -- as well as RB Chris Johnson, shouldn't have as much trouble rushing the ball as the Jets' two previous opponents. But the Tennessee defense yielded two consecutive 300-yard passers the first two weeks, and will have trouble stopping the accurate arm of Mark Sanchez, whose poise and quick release have several teams wishing they'd traded up for him. Sanchez should finish with a couple TDs and at least 200 yards this week, since the Jets won't focus on the Herculean task of establishing a ground game with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington against the massive Titans D-line. But "Little Leon" will be a frequent target for Sanchez out of the backfield and second-year TE Dustin Keller should post good numbers. -- AD

STANDOUT STARTS: Chris Johnson, Leon Washington, Mark Sanchez, Jets WRs, Dustin Keller

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Thomas Jones, Titans WRs, Kerry Collins

Tune in for another episode of the Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson show. Those two might not even stop at two TD connections this week. Although slithery sophomore back Steve Slaton isn't off to a great start (25.5 yards per game, zero TDs, and a lost fumble), he's still a must-play until he fumbles his way out of a job. David Garrard is no better than a strong QB2 at this point, but look for Maurice Jones-Drew to rebound from some mediocre performances with a big game. Don't get overly keen on either Torry Holt or the Jags' new No. 2 receiver, Mike Sims-Walker (veteran Troy Williamson is done for the year), but it's possible Holt sports his first decent fantasy stat line of the season in what promises to be a high-scoring game. -- AD

STANDOUT STARTS: Matt Schaub, Steve Slaton, Andre Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Torry Holt

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter, Mike Sims-Walker

The Giants are probably going to do to the Bucs what the Cowboys did in Week One -- blow their crappy team apart. But the Giants will be more relentless than Dallas, because they'll be without sack specialist Justin Tuck for at least this week, and Mathias Kiwanuka will be playing for more regular time when he returns. The Giants are so deep on their defensive line, missing Tuck won't make much of a difference in the effectiveness of their overall pass rush. On offense, it'll be a fantasy smorgasbord for Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Steve Smith, and Mario Manningham, while the only viable options for the Bucs are Cadillac Williams and former Giant Derrick Ward, since the boys in blue have a relatively pathetic run defense (largely due to their weak LBs). With his convoluted wind-up, Byron Leftwich will likely get pummeled all day, and Antonio Bryant -- who didn't practice Wednesday and remains a question mark for Sunday -- should be on your bench as well. -- AD

STANDOUT STARTS: Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, Carnell Williams

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Antonio Bryant, Derrick Ward, Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss

The Rams are already 25th in the NFL in passing defense, allowing 258 passing yards per game. This is good news for Aaron Rodgers owners as he should attempt at least 30 passes and top 250 yards and two scores. Greg Jennings must be steaming after a zero-catch performance in Week Two and is bound to make sure he and Rodgers are on the same page this Sunday. Expect a monster outing from Jennings. Donald Driver is a good bet to find the end zone for the second straight week, but don't count on 100 yards again. Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee will continue to split time, with each gaining around 40 yards. Despite giving up 146 rushing yards per game, the Rams have only allowed one rushing touchdown. Ryan Grant resumes his role as an effective RB2 this week, and will approach 100 yards and a score. Marc Bulger should be left on fantasy benches as the aggressive Packers secondary makes things difficult all afternoon. Bulger may find the end zone once, but his yards will be limited and the interceptions will pile up. This effectively limits any value that Donnie Avery or Laurent Robinson will have. Robinson has been a nice surprise so far, but this is not the week to plug him into starting lineups. Steven Jackson is in line for a good day against a Packers team that let Cedric Benson rush for 140-plus yards last week. SJax will play a role in both the passing and rushing game, totaling 125 yards and a score. -- Brad Rysz


BANISH TO THE BENCH: Laurent Robinson, Donnie Avery, Marc Bulger

Drew Brees will come out slinging and approach his customary 300 yards and three touchdowns. Though he will spread the rock around, the main beneficiary will continue to be Marques Colston who can be counted on for 100 yards and a score. Lance Moore is banged up, so a better option is Devery Henderson, who has a better chemistry with Brees this year. Henderson has been so solid that he can even be considered a WR2 this week. Jeremy Shockey has regained his role as a starting fantasy tight end and will continue to produce with 50 yards and a score. The Saints rushing attack is unclear with all the main ball carriers nursing minor injuries. Mike Bell, Pierre, Thomas and Reggie Bush should all share the ball, and it isn't advisable to start any of the three until someone emerges. Christmas comes a little early for Trent Edwards this year as he gets to face the Saints secondary in Week Three. They let Kevin Kolb carve them up for nearly 400 yards, so it's safe to assume that Edwards will have an excellent week. Think 300 and two touchdowns. Terrell Owens will take another step closer to developing a connection with Edwards by catching six passes for 80 yards and a score. Lee Evans should see some action, netting 50 yards and a touchdown. Fred Jackson has been explosive through two weeks and gets a chance to showcase his skills against a weak defense. Look for 115 total yards and a score as he plays a role in the passing and rushing attack. - BR

STANDOUT STARTS: Devery Henderson, Trent Edwards

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Lance Moore, Mike Bell

Kyle Orton is doing an impressive job leading the surprising Broncos, but has a challenge against an Oakland secondary that has more interceptions (three) than touchdowns allowed (two). Eddie Royal and Orton have not been on the same page, downgrading Royal to a starter only in three wide-out leagues. Brandon Marshall has been equally disappointing, but should begin to get back into a rhythm. Don't expect high yardage totals, but a touchdown is a good bet this week. Correll Buckhalter has been the better back, but Knowshon Moreno is far more talented and it will begin to show this week. A breakout effort is in line against a suspect Raiders front seven, and 120 yards and a score isn't too much to anticipate. Buckhalter, on the other hand, shouldn't be started. Tony Scheffler has only two catches on the year and can't be relied on until he starts producing. The JaMarcus Russell experiment must end soon and another week of 150 yards and two interceptions should accelerate that process. Even under the direst of circumstances, Russell shouldn't be started. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush will continue to split carries with each rushing for 60 yards and a score. Neither is anything more than a flex start. Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey just can't be trusted with Russell behind center. Even typically reliable Zach Miller didn't catch a pass in Week Two. He'll improve this week, but not enough to warrant a start. - BR

STANDOUT START: Knowshon Moreno

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Kyle Orton, Correll Buckhalter, Zach Miller

This game is bound to include a ton of offense as Peyton Manning will challenge the Arizona secondary relentlessly. Manning is a good bet for 250 yards and two scores at minimum. Reggie Wayne wasn't very active last week, but expect a return to norm this week as he tops 100 yards and a score. Dallas Clark exploded for 183 yards last week and has become Manning's most trusted option. 75 yards and a score are becoming routine for him. Pierre Garcon scored last week and should build on that with four catches and 50 yards. Donald Brown will continue to steal carries away from Joseph Addai. Brown may get more yards, but it'll be Addai who finds the end zone. Consider each a solid flex play. Kurt Warner will be up to the challenge of an all-out aerial assault and will match Manning's 250 and two. As usual, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin will each wind up with 100 yards and a score. Steve Breaston will rack up the yards, but fail to find the end zone. Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells will find success against the Colts rush defense. Wells has fumblitis, so Hightower is a better play. 100 yards and a score for Hightower, while Wells rushes for 50. - BR

STANDOUT STARTS: Pierre Garcon, Tim Hightower


This will be a great litmus test for both teams. Are the Steelers really that good? Is the Cincinnati defense for real? Hopefully we'll know after this game. Meanwhile, not-so-fast Willie Parker continues to disappoint his owners and I don't see a huge reversal this week. The Steelers offensive line has been the victim of six sacks already this season, so Ben Roethlisberger might be in for a rough day as well. Santonio Holmes, however, has 384 receiving yards in his last four games against the Bengals, so even if Roethlisberger fails to top 200 yards, Holmes should have at least 80 receiving yards. Chad Ochocinco should also have a solid game-- he has 180 yards already this season and either scored or had 80-plus yards the last three times he faced Pittsburgh. Conversely, the Cedric Benson steam train jumps the track this week as the Steelers are allowing less than 65 rushing yards a game and he mustered just 87 yards total in his two games against Pittsburgh last year. -- Mark Strausberg

STANDOUT STARTS: Santonio Holmes, Chad Ochocinco

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Willie Parker, Cedric Benson

We are not recommending suicide, but if Matt Forte does not have a big game against Seattle, his owners would be justified throwing themselves off the proverbial cliff. Forte might have the 200-plus yards that Frank Gore had against Seattle last week, but over 100 total yards and a touchdown is a reasonable expectation. Seattle has been pretty stingy against the pass (allowing just 146.5 yards a game), so expect a quiet but efficient day from Jay Cutler. By extension, I'd sit any Chicago wide receiver as well. The Chicago defense has limited both Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger each to less than 225 yards and just one touchdown. Whether it is Seneca Wallace or Matt Hasselbeck, neither is a very good start here. T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson will get their share of catches, but will have little value outside of PPR leagues. Justin Forsett will throw up start-worthy stats before you know it, but the hot fantasy pickup won't do enough this game to be worth the rush, nor will any Seattle running back. - MS


BANISH TO THE BENCH: All Seattle players

I hope you Marion Barber owners handcuffed him with Felix Jones. We probably won't know until Monday which one is starting, but that gives you the luxury of starting either against the Panthers 27th-ranked rush defense. For those who own Barber only, I'd weigh my other options. If your next viable replacement option is a Ray Rice or Reggie Bush for example, I wouldn't worry if Barber starts and go with my alternative options. If my best replacement option is Forsett, I'd hold off and hope Barber plays. For those of you thinking about starting Felix Jones, go ahead. The Carolina defense is a shadow of their strong defenses of yesteryear. Despite last week's showing, I'd still start Tony Romo who should rack up a couple touchdowns, probably on short throws as Carolina is second-best in passing yards allowed. That's another way to say I'd sit all Dallas receivers for now too. On the other side, I'd still be reluctant to start Jake Delhomme. He still has not put up numbers strong enough for a starting quarterback even in two-QB leagues. I would start Steve Smith however, who leads the league in targets, and is coming off a 131-yard day, and it is just a question of time before he finds the end zone. When you consider the Cowboys have a fourth-worst 606 receiving yards allowed, it's a no-brainer. The Cowboys are also just 23rd in defending the run, so I would definitely start DeAngelo Williams and probably Jonathan Stewart as well. Expect both to be utilized to take the pressure off Delhomme. - MS

STANDOUT STARTS: Steve Smith, Felix Jones, DeAngelo Williams

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Jake Delhomme, Roy Williams

The Dolphins had trouble containing Peyton Manning last week, while Phillip Rivers shredded the Baltimore defense. Start Rivers and Vincent Jackson. Antonio Gates only had a dozen yards last time he faced Miami, but is coming off two games of more than 75 yards each. Start him as well. Donald Brown and Joseph Addai each averaged more than five YPC against Miami last week. Don't expect such a lofty average from Darren Sproles, but expect decent totals. San Diego is allowing nearly 140 rushing yards per game, so Ronnie Brown should also have a strong week. He should split the difference between his first two games, so about 90 rushing yards and a touchdown. If I had to choose a Miami receiver to start, I'd start Ted Ginn Jr. who leads all Miami wide receivers in catches and yards, but considering no Miami receiver has scored yet, I'd pass on all of them. Chad Pennington's stats don't inspire confidence. Leave him out of your lineup as well. - MS

STANDOUT STARTS: Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles, Ronnie Brown

BANISH TO THE BENCH: Chad Pennington

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