If Week 1 is any indication of how this season is going to play out as a whole, we’re all in for an interesting year. Aside from Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy, almost all of the top running backs under-performed. In fact, in standard scoring leagues, only four running backs scored more than 20 points. One of them, was Joique Bell. Go figure. Meanwhile, tight ends led the fantasy storm for most teams (unless you started Zach Sudfeld), as 12 of them eclipsed 10 points (3 eclipsed 20). I guess you could say the week wasn’t exactly how most analysts drew it up. That’s the beauty of football though. It’s so unpredictable.
With that said, I’m ready to predict Week 2. I’ve gotten a taste for the 2013 season, and it’s all starting to make sense to me now. Expect precise fantasy advice going forward.
Just to clarify, by saying I’m “high” on a player, I’m expecting him to outperform his typical expectations. Furthermore, by saying I’m “low” on a player, I simply believe that on this given Sunday, you might be disappointed in his performance. The final stats won’t meet the projections you see on your fantasy website.
Spoiler alert: I’m not high on Joique Bell this week.
Cam Newton, Panthers (@ Bills)
I was spot on about Cam last week. Seattle just wasn’t a good opening match-up for him. In Buffalo, Killa Cam returns. Expect him to do a little bit of everything, including his patented Superman celebration after he runs one in for six. The Bills were 27th against the pass in 2012 and 31st against the rush. Cam can beat them in many ways.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (vs. 49ers)
Apparently all of my QB lows from last week are my highs for this week. Russell Wilson is a gamer. When the lights shine brightest, he elevates his game to the next level. When the CenturyLink Field lights are shining, he’s even better. In home games last season, Wilson threw for over 1,500 yards 17 TDs and just 2 INTs. His completion percentage: 64.6%. His QB rating: 123.6. He also ran for 223 yards and a score. The Seahawks don’t lose football games at home. Wilson threw 4 TDs in his last home contest against the Niners. He’ll have another great effort Sunday night and wake up with both eyebrows on Monday morning.
Michael Vick, Eagles (vs. Chargers)
The Chargers made Matt Schaub look like Joe Montana Monday night. Schaub passed for 346 yards and 3 TDs almost effortlessly. Aside from a turnover on his very first pass, he had no problem breaking the Chargers defense. Especially on third downs. The Chargers continually exhibit an inability to stop teams on third downs, no matter the distance. Houston lulled San Diego to sleep with their typical slow-paced, ground and pound attack. Now, the Chargers travel to the east coast on short rest to take on a team whose pace is completely different from what they saw against Houston. The Chargers aren’t going to know what hit them. Expect the Eagles to go full-throttle once again, and Vick to fill up the box score for the second week in a row.
Eli Manning, Giants (vs. Broncos)
Eli’s performances can be best described as “a roller-coaster ride of emotions” for both Giants fans and fantasy owners, but when he’s on, he’s one of the best in the game. He may turn the ball over some this week, but this game should be pretty high scoring. Even in embarrassing defeat, Joe Flacco threw for 362 yards and 2 scores Thursday night against the Broncos. It might be ugly from the perspective of a Giants fan, but Eli’s performance should look pretty in your fantasy box score. You don’t have to worry about any running backs stealing TDs from him either, as the Giants currently don’t have one.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (@ Seahawks)
Watch how quickly the media turns on Colin Kaepernick this week. After Week 1, they’ve officially anointed Colin Kaepernick “unstoppable.” Insert Seattle. The league’s top defense and heated rival to San Fran. The 12th man will be rocking in Seattle. The defense will be out for blood. This has all the makings of a “back-t0-reality” game for the young QB. Last season, Seattle held Colin to 244 yards (53% completion rate) 1 TD and 1 INT in a 42-13 route. This isn’t the Green Bay Packers defense. Kaepernick looks amazing. He’ll be a stud in 2013. Just not in Week 2.
Andy Dalton, Bengals (vs. Steelers)
Pittsburgh has all kinds of problems on offense, but its defense is still pretty solid. In the past, Andy Dalton has really struggled against the Steel Curtain. He only threw for 105 yards on 28 pass attempts in a home loss to them last year. While I do think a good Cincinnati team rights the ship on Monday night, I also think its a defensive grind that yields another underwhelming performance for Dalton against the Steelers.
Phillip Rivers, Chargers (vs. Eagles)
Rivers looked surprisingly good Monday night against the Texans. Matched up against one of the league’s top defenses, Rivers threw 4 TDs with relative ease. The Chargers new offensive look gave Rivers more freedom to call plays and exploit good match-ups. With that said, the Chargers hurry-up approach was hardly hurried. Rivers had trouble calling audibles efficiently and the Chargers looked a little lost at times. At home a team can get away with that. On the road, with a raucous crowd disrupting things, its a whole different story. Expect the Eagles to have a strong, emotional effort on both sides of the ball. I think Rivers’ turnover woes return in Week 2.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles (vs. Chargers)
Not a bold pick, but LeSean McCoy needs to be discussed. He wasn’t running through holes Monday night, he was running through craters. Chip Kelly’s offense has the defense so spread out it’s almost ridiculous. With McCoy’s elusiveness and speed, it’s scary to think how good he’s going to be this year. I’ve actually questioned my draft pick of Adrian Peterson at #1 already and he had 3 TDs this week. That’s how scary the ceiling is for McCoy this year. Eric Dickerson’s rushing record might be at risk. Only it’s McCoy that’s the risk, not Peterson. Sit back and enjoy the show McCoy owners (while the other 90% of the fantasy population collectively pounds our heads against the table).
Steven Jackson, Falcons (vs. Rams)
Alright, so I dropped the ball on running backs last week. I can admit defeat. It happened. I even went so far as to guarantee Steven Jackson would score against the Saints. After Jackson dropped the game-winning TD on third down in the closing seconds, I felt like a fool. But fool me once Steven Jackson, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I’m testing fate one more time. I guarantee Steven Jackson scores at least once this week. He’s taking on his former team. Atlanta needs to put him in the end zone. 80+ yards on the ground, another 30+ through the air, and a score for Steven Jackson this week. I can feel it.
C.J. Spiller, Bills (vs. Panthers)
Carolina is quietly putting together a pretty formidable defense. Led by Luke Kuechly, the Panthers held Marshawn “Beastmode” Lynch to a pedestrian 43 yards on 17 carries in Week 1; a mere 2.5 yards per carry. Spiller is a lot more explosive, but he’ll have trouble kicking it into gear against a fast Carolina defense full of great tacklers. Expect C.J. to flop one more time before he shows us why he’s a top-10 pick. If you don’t have Spiller, you should hope that this happens. You may be able to buy low on one of the league’s best home run hitters after Week 2.
Trent Richardson, Browns (@ Ravens)
Thanks to the Orioles, the Ravens didn’t get to celebrate their Super Bowl party in Week 1. Instead, they traveled to Mile High and got flat out embarrassed by Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Back in Baltimore, there will be reason to celebrate on Sunday. I think we see a fired up defense come out and really hand it to the Browns. Amazingly enough, the Ravens lost both meetings to the Browns in 2012. Even in defeat, the Browns always seem to play them tough. This will be an emotional, home contest though for Baltimore. Expect Trent Richardson to be held in check for the second week in a row. He didn’t show any signs of improvement on that shaky yards per carry stat against the Dolphins. He certainly won’t show it against a Ravens defense that’s a lot stronger than Peyton Manning made them look.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals (vs. Steelers)
Green-Ellis really struggled against Chicago. The bruiser back was limited to just 25 yards on 14 carries. He did salvage the day with a short TD run, but even after that, his fantasy day was hardly impressive. It doesn’t get any easier for Green-Ellis in Week 2, as he takes on another top-5 2012 fantasy defense against the run (Steelers). Expect another poor showing from Green-Ellis, as coaches start to consider utilizing rookie Giovani Bernard in a bigger role going forward.
Calvin Johnson, Lions (@ Arizona)
For the simple fact that Calvin Johnson can’t be held in check two weeks in a row. He had another touchdown robbed from him last week. He won’t make the same mistake twice. Detroit definitely offers a more balanced attack with Reggie Bush, but Calvin Johnson will still get his numbers. 140 yards and a TD this week puts him back on track to lead the NFL in receiving.
Eric Decker, Broncos (vs. Giants)
Let’s be honest. Eric Decker looked uncomfortable last week. While everyone was getting some action in Manning’s 7 TD performance, Decker was dropping balls, looking lost and dejected. He caught just 2 balls on 7 targets for 32 yards. His performance and body language was very reminiscent to the way Landry Fields looked after the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets a few years back. He was almost starstruck and a little passive. Not sure what his place on the team was anymore. While Fields never fully recovered from the acquisitions, I think Decker does much the opposite in Week 2. Peyton has always had a knack for bringing out the best in people. On the Giants side, Corey Webster shut down Dez Bryant in Week 1. I think he limits Demaryius Thomas this week to some extent (Note: The Giants don’t defend the WR screen well, so don’t rule out some big plays off screens for Thomas). I also think Wes Welker has a little bit of a drop off. Antrel Rolle has covered him well in the past. It’s usually the second or third option that tends to exploit the Giants secondary. Expect a mix of Eric Decker and Julius Thomas leading the offensive charge for the Broncos in the Manning Bowl. I think Decker owners breathe a small sigh of relief on Sunday.
Chris Givens, Rams (vs. Falcons)
I put a lot of hype into Chris Givens the last few weeks, so as you can imagine I was pretty disappointed by his 2 catch 27 yards performance against the Cardinals. This week, the Rams are matched up with a Falcons team that’s likely hungry to right the ship after a tough division loss to the Saints. Expect the Falcons to put a strong emphasis on stopping Jared Cook and Tavon Austin. I think this opens the door for Givens to get back on track. I think Givens sees a lot of one-on-one coverage as a result, which opens up the passing attack over the top of the defense. If Bradford trusts Givens and gives him the chance to make plays, I think Givens comes down with some big gains this week.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars (@ Raiders)
No one is happier about Chad Henne getting the start this week than Cecil Shorts. Shorts emerged as a great WR3 option down the stretch of 2012. Matched up against a Raiders pass defense ranked 19th in fantasy points allowed to WRs last season, fresh off surrendering 2 TDs through the air to Andrew Luck, I like Cecil Shorts as a sleeper start at wide receiver in Week 2.
Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers (vs. Saints)
I was wrong about Jackson last week, but I think Week 1 showed me I was right about Jackson for 2013. In Gridiron Expert’s sleeper article for 2013, I listed Jackson as the best valued WR per ADP. Jackson was valued at #12. In my eyes, he should have been somewhere around #6 or #7. He’s as explosive as any wide receiver in the league. Jackson made it very clear that was still the case in Week 1 against a tough defender, in Antonio Cromartie, avergaing 22 yards per catch on 7 catches. Now Jackson faces off with division rival New Orleans. A squad he toasted for 216 yards and a 95-yard score at home last season. A repeat of 200+ yards might be unlikely, but its entirely possible. I could see Jackson leading the league in receiving after Week 2.
Note: Just wanted to mention that I said the following about Andre Johnson in my column last week: “Don’t be surprised to see a classic Andre Johnson performance of 150+ yards and 0 scores.” The result: 12 catches for 146 yards and 0 TDs. Why doesn’t this team reward this guy in the red zone? He’s already starting to rewrite the WR record book and his QB doesn’t even throw to him inside the 20. Why Matt Schaub? Explain yourself.
Anquan Boldin, 49ers (@ Seahawks)
Expectations are high for Anquan Boldin after his Week 1 dominance of the Packers. But as much as I love Boldin, I think expectations need to be tempered for Week 2. Let’s not forget Boldin was shredding the Packers – the league’s 17th best team defending fantasy wide receivers in 2012. This week Boldin takes on Seattle – the #1 ranked defense in that category. Seattle is a physical team that gave Kaepernick problems last season. It’s always a challenge playing in front of the raucous Seattle crowd as well. Boldin will probably be in your lineup this week, but don’t be surprised to see his numbers dip dramatically in Week 2.
Jerome Simpson and Greg Jennings, Vikings (@ Bears)
I am not buying the Jerome Simpson 7 catch, 140 yard performance. I am buying the Greg Jennings 3 catch, 33 yard performance. Christian Ponder should not be quarterbacking an NFL team right now. It’s just not a pretty sight to watch. The Bears are arguably the league’s top defense. Charles Tillman and company will be all over the Vikings top targets. If you took a chance on Greg Jennings in your draft, you’re probably going to regret it.
Julius Thomas, Broncos (@ Giants)
It’s hard not to be high on my breakout TE pick for 2013. Thomas made me look like Nostradamus in Week 1, grabbing 5 balls for 110 yards and 2 scores against the Ravens. Only behind the scenes he made me look like a fool, as I made the last minute decision to bench him in two leagues. I wanted to see him play in the regular season once, before I made him my guy at TE. What a mistake that was. This week, I’m not making the same mistake twice. Thomas is making the start in both my leagues. Peyton said himself, it will be interesting to see how defenses adjust to him. They’re going to have to respect him. For now, I think the Giants have too much to worry about elsewhere. With an emphasis on stopping Demaryius and Wes, I think both Eric and Julius have quality efforts against the G-men. If Terrell Thomas is able to play significant time on Welker and Rolle can put some attention on Thomas, it might slow him down a bit, but ultimately, I think he makes enough big plays to have a strong day regardless. The Giants are very weak in coverage at linebacker. Thomas should exploit that.
Jermichael Finley, Packers (vs. Redskins)
When looking through the fantasy defensive ranks for 2012, I was surprised to see Washington was ranked last against tight ends. The Skins gave up 10.41 fantasy points on average to opposing TEs. After a great Week 1 showing against the vaunted Niners defense (5 catches, 56 yards, TD), I think Jermichael Finley keeps rolling in Week 2. I said I wanted to see Finley perform before I believed the hype. It’s only been one week and I’m already becoming a bit of a believer.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (@ Bears)
Not surprisingly, the Chicago Bears were a top-10 defense against fantasy TEs in 2012. Although Kyle Rudolph was a top-10 TE, in my eyes, he’s got fraud written all over him. Rudolph caught 9 TDs in 2012, but had just 53 catches for less than 500 yards receiving. A catch-to-TD ratio that would indicate he was more fortunate than he was skilled. Ponder has shown little ability to stretch the field and seems to only utilize Rudolph in the flat. I said months back that a dip in TDs would really crush his fantasy value, and I’m standing by my belief he won’t be able to replicate that 9 TD performance from last year.
Jason Witten, Cowboys (@ Chiefs)
The Chiefs actually ranked seventh against fantasy TEs in 2012. They’re a small-market team that doesn’t get a lot of notoriety, but the Chiefs have quietly put together a strong defense. Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles should help K.C. control the clock and keep its defense off the field. Expect this game to be fairly low scoring and expect Witten to be limited.
Baltimore Ravens (vs. Cleveland)
The Super Bowl champs return home a week late (thanks a lot, Orioles) and totallyyyy redeem themselves. You wouldn’t know it looking at the box score against Denver, but Baltimore actually has a pretty strong defense. What better way to showcase that than against Brandon Weeden? Brandon Weeden “Start the Fire,” picked up where he left off last year with three picks against an average Dolphins defense at home in Week 1. On the road in Baltimore against an embarrassed Ravens defense and a crowd that has been waiting an entire off-season to get rowdy and celebrate a Super Bowl title? Good luck with that Brandon. The Ravens are probably available on waivers. You should probably be starting them.
Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Pittsburgh)
The Bengals struggled to contain Brandon Marshall and the Bears last week, but make no mistake, Cincy has one of the best defenses in the NFL. Couple that with the fact the Steelers offense looked downright offensive last week and there’s great reason to love Cincinnati’s defense in Week 2. Aside from a garbage time TD, the Steelers only points (against the Titans of all teams) came on a bizarre safety on the opening kickoff. Roethlisberger has no protection. The offensive line can’t rush or pass block. All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL and MCL now too. It’s not looking good for Pittsburgh right now folks. This is always a low scoring contest. Cincinnati’s defense should have a field day.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. New Orleans)
The Buccaneers were a good start last week, putting up double digit points against the Jets. Don’t expect a repeat performance this week. Darrelle Revis may be the best corner in the league, but the Saints have too many weapons to account for. He can’t cover them all. Find a better option on waivers.
New York Giants (vs. Denver)
I had very low expectations for the Giants defense this year, but I have to say, they impressed me Sunday night. The Giants turned the ball over six times, putting their defense in horrible situations with their backs against the wall. And yet the defense answered the bell almost every time. They pretty much did all a fan could ask of them, all factors considered. But Denver’s offense is a rare breed. Everywhere you turn there’s a play-maker that can burn you. Peyton Manning was in complete control against a quality Ravens team last week. He’ll be in control against Eli’s squad as well. Seven touchdowns are unlikely, but 3 or 4 are realistic.
Don’t forget to check out our customized rankings and projections before you finalize your lineups this weekend. Have a great week everybody.
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