Can you believe it? We’re two games into the regular season, and in most fantasy leagues we are about 15 percent of the way to the playoffs. The one charming thing about fantasy football, as opposed to the other sports, is how meaningful the games really are. It’s week-to-week, as opposed to day-to-day, and poor performances can be crippling. Try to avoid the pitfalls. We’ll try and steer you clear of such pitfalls, although, as you know, this is certainly not foolproof. I have always scoffed when people call themselves, or myself, an ‘expert’. But with a little schedule analysis, statistical information and past trends, you can make educated lineup decisions going forward.
Surprise start of the week: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (at WAS): Dalton should have a field day against a Redskins pass defense which has allowed 313.5 yards per game through the first two weeks. Washington has allowed nine pass plays of 20 or more yards. Dalton has a solid array of receivers, as WR A.J. Green is the stud everyone knows, but WR Andrew Hawkins has really come on lately. The running game is good with RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, so the Redskins will also have to be mindful of it. That opens things up a bit downfield, and the Bengals should strike early and often.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Matt Cassel, Kansas City (at NO), Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo (at CLE), Mark Sanchez, N.Y. Jets (at MIA)
Sit of the week: Peyton Manning, Denver (vs. HOU): It’s easy to pick on Peyton after he tossed three interceptions in the first quarter of Monday’s Week 2 loss at Atlanta. That performance really has nothing to do with suggesting his benching in fantasy leagues, however. He will be facing a Houston Texans pass defense which ranks first in the NFL, allowing just 124.0 yards per game through the air. In addition, they have given up just one passing TD, and opposing QBs have managed a 50.0 passer rating. The Texans bring the pressure, too, posting six sacks in two games. That’s bad news for an immobile Manning.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Joe Flacco, Baltimore (vs. NE), Matt Schaub, Houston, (at DEN), Michael Vick, Philadelphia (at ARI)
Surprise start of the week: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City (at NO): It’s now or never for Charles to produce. He was stymied for just three rushing yards on six carries, but the Chiefs were forced to get away from the running game early in Buffalo in Week 2. In the first game with Atlanta, Charles posted 87 rushing yards on 16 totes. The Saints are allowing 186.0 rushing yards per game on the ground through the first two games, so that bodes well for the prospects of Charles, RB Peyton Hillis and potentially RB Shaun Draughn, as well.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Donald Brown, Indianapolis (vs. JAC), Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh (at OAK), Trent Richardson, Cleveland (vs. BUF)
Sit of the week: Michael Turner, Atlanta (at SD): Turner expects to play in Week 3 following an arrest Tuesday morning for suspicion of drunken driving in Georgia. That’s all well and good, but he might find the Chargers rush defense tougher than the law. San Diego has allowed just 41.5 yards per game on the ground through the first two contests, ranking them first in the NFL. The fact is, the Chargers have been a bit banged up in the secondary, and most of the yards they are allowing come via the air. Turner will be returning to the place where his career started, but it is unlikely to be a memorable game.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Cedric Benson, Green Bay (at SEA), Shonn Greene, N.Y. Jets (at MIA), Steven Jackson, St. Louis (at CHI)
Surprise start of the week: Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati (at WAS): It’s time to go all-in on Hawkins if you picked him up off the waiver wire. Sure, he is coming off a two-catch performance last weekend against Cleveland, but he also posted 56 yards and a score. His YAC, or yards after the catch, has been off the charts. Now, he’ll face a Washington pass defense which ranks 30th during the early going, allowing 313.5 yards per game through the air. The Redskins have also allowed nine pass plays of 20 or more yards.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville (at IND), Santonio Holmes, N.Y. Jets (at MIA), Kevin Ogletree, Dallas (vs. TB)
Sit of the week: Randy Moss, San Francisco (at MIN): Moss returns to Minnesota, and he is likely to receive a mixed reception. Some long-time fans will remember his first go-around with the team, and appreciate his effort for such. Some will remember his less-than-stellar second tour with the club. Either way, he is a much different player these days, and his playing time is that of a part-time player. While perhaps the coaching staff for San Francisco will try to get him the ball more in what might be an emotional game for Moss, the fact is he isn’t the same player he once was.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Eric Decker, Denver (vs. HOU), Sidney Rice, Seattle (vs. GB), Mike Williams, Tampa Bay (at DAL)
Surprise start of the week: Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati (at WAS)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Scott Chandler, Buffalo (at CLE), Dustin Keller, N.Y. Jets (at MIA)
Sit of the week: Jacob Tamme, Denver (vs. HOU)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Jared Cook, Tennessee (vs. DET), Heath Miller, Pittsburgh (at OAK)
Surprise start of the week: Jason Hanson, Detroit (at TEN)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy play: Phil Dawson, Cleveland (vs. BUF)
Sit of the week: Matt Bryant, Atlanta (at SD)
Other who should be riding the fantasy pine: Blair Walsh, Minnesota (vs. SF)
Surprise start of the week: Colts DST (vs. JAC)
Other solid, less- than-obvious fantasy plays: Buccaneers DST (at DAL), Saints DST (vs. KC)
Sit of the week: Patriots DST (at BAL)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Bengals DST (at WAS), Chargers DST (vs. ATL)