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Is CJ a good play vs. Ray and Ray?
Week 2 of the 2011 NFL season is almost ready to kickoff, which means it is time to start getting your fantasy football lineups in order. Athlon Sports will try to help you do that each week with its Start or Sit suggestions. Keep in mind that these are suggestions and you are the owner of your fantasy team, and setting your lineup comes down to what you think is right.
This is how I work out fantasy football scoring in my mind: I want to average 16 points from my QBs, RBs, WRs and Flex and average 10 points from my TEs, Ks and DSTs. It rarely works that way, but if you could get the skill spots to average 16 and the other three to average 10, that's 132 points in a 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 FLX, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DST setup; it's a score that should win you most weeks.
Check back each week for Start or Sit and see who we are giving our thumbs up or thumbs down to and whether we had success or failure the week prior.
Sneaky Start of the Week
Greg Salas, WR, STL at New York Giants
The slot position in the Rams' offense is the one that was supposed to be the big producer for PPR leagues this season. Danny Amendola was to be the 2011 Wes Welker, and was well on his way before an elbow injury early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's season opener. Amendola was targeted six times, catching five balls for 45 yards. He was targeted 123 times in 2010.
He is out for Week 2 and St. Louis QB Sam Bradford will have rookie Greg Salas in the slot position. Salas is bigger than Amendola — 6-1, 210 vs. 5-10, 186 — and he scored 22 times in his last two seasons at Hawaii.
With the Giants' defense decimated by injuries, Salas could be a great play in PPR leagues this week.
Unexpected Sit of the Week
Chris Johnson, RB, TEN vs. Baltimore
Last week's Unexpected Sit of the Week was Baltimore RB Ray Rice, who was going up against a Pittsburgh team that stifled him three times last season. Rice threw egg on my face, scoring 28.9 fantasy points, and proving his worth as perhaps the top fantasy back to have this season.
The same cannot be said for Chris Johnson right now. The Titans looked awful against Jacksonville in the season opener, and I can't see it getting much better against a much better team in the Ravens. CJ, who held out for almost all of preseason, had little room to work and only managed to become a blip on the scoring radar thanks to six catches for 25 yards that helped muster up 7.9 fantasy points.
So I will give it a try again, and buck the trend that you "must play your first-round picks."
If the Titans were a well-oiled machine on the offensive end — you know, not one with a new QB in a new system, a "sleeper tight end" that's still asleep, a budding star at WR that seems to fluke his way into a lot of fantasy points and a standout RB who is just a few weeks into that new system under coordinator Chris Palmer, a system that ran the ball just 13 times in the opener — then I would say start Johnson no matter what.
But this is not a well-oiled offense, and sit CJ in the tough match ups until he proves otherwise. If you think 7.9 points against Jacksonville is going to improve against a team that just demolished the Steelers, then be my guest and start CJ.
And this coming from someone who has Johnson in two leagues, Britt in two leagues and Cook in a league.
Eli Manning (NYG) vs. St. Louis — Manning didn't have the best opener (14.92 fantasy points), but he gets a Rams secondary decimated by injuries — much like his own — in a Monday Night Football game that has the potential to be a shootout.
Rex Grossman (WAS) vs. Arizona — Just look at what rookie Cam Newton did to Arizona in his first professional start, pretty much utilizing only one target (WR Steve Smith 11 times) to get his fantasy production. Grossman has multiple passing options and a solid pass-catching backfield at his disposal in order to have a second straight solid outing after 23.2 fantasy points in the opener.
Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. Kansas City — Once he puts a few solid outings together, injury free, Stafford will stop showing up on this list because it should just be understood he's a fantasy starter. But since he hasn't proven it on a consistent basis, he ends up on these lists. This week he gets a Chiefs team reeling in the secondary with the loss of stud safety Eric Berry (ACL) and Stafford is coming off of a 28.2-point fantasy effort against Tampa Bay. Everyone should have success for the Lions this week, and it starts with Stafford's distribution of the football.
Cam Newton (CAR) vs. Green Bay — It was a great start for Newton against a miserable Arizona secondary, and the Packers did allow Drew Brees to throw for 419 yards, three scores and no interceptions. But that is Super Bowl-winning QB Drew Brees, not a rookie QB making his second pro start against the defending Super Bowl champs. If you picked up Newton, idle him for one week and then unleash him against Jacksonville next week.
Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. Philadelphia — The Falcons might be able to have more success on the ground with RB Michael Turner in this game, and want to lean on it more after rushing just 14 times in a loss to Chicago. The Eagles have a solid secondary, and Ryan did not look too good against Chicago's secondary last week (zero TDs, one INT, a fumble and 319 yards for 9.76 fantasy points). The turnovers Philly's likely to produce, and the likelihood of Turner getting in the end zone, may mean Ryan has to get you points through yards alone, and one turnover can take away 50 yards just, like, that.
Colt McCoy (CLE) at Indianapolis — Might be a sexy option this week because of the Texans dismantling of the Colts in the opener. However, McCoy completed less than 50 percent of his passes against the Bengals, threw for just 213 yards and may go into Sunday without his starting right tackle (Tony Pashos) for the second straight game. And which Colt will be gunning for McCoy from that side of the field? Robert Mathis, who had 11 sacks last year.
LeGarrette Blount (TB) at Minnesota — One of the many coachspeak casualties of Week 1, Blount fell into the we-needed-to-run-him-more category. Tampa Bay had to play catch up against Detroit and were in more of a two-minute mode. I don't see the Bucs having to play catch up against the Vikings, thus Blount should be able to showcased as the power back and punch a couple into the end zone. Minnesota allowed 51.5 fantasy points to RBs, in a half-PPR format, against San Diego last week.
Peyton Hillis (CLE) at Indianapolis — The Colts allowed 28.8 points to three Texans RBs last week, and Hillis could have a monster game as a bull rusher and as a pass-catching outlet for Colt McCoy as he tries to improve on his 48-percent completion rate. Hillis ran for 57 yards and caught six balls for 30 yards against Cincinnati, and now gets a Colts D that was fifth-worst against fantasy RBs (24.5 PPG) last season, and obviously haven't improved in that area yet.
James Starks (GB) at Carolina — I'm expecting a blowout, thus I'm expecting Starks to get plenty of work to show what he's got. He's a solid flex play, and will emerge as more than that down the road if he can shake Ryan Grant.
Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC) at New York Jets — He is the Jags' only option. You know it. I know it. And I'm sure the Jets know it. Marcedes Lewis is nursing a strained calf and may or may not go. Mike Thomas and Jason Hill will be covered by two solid corners. And the Jets surrendered just 14 points per game to RBs last season (second best), and gave up just 64 yards on 26 carries against the Cowboys to go along with five catches for 40 yards and no scores from three Dallas RBs last Sunday in the Meadowlands.
DeAngelo Williams (CAR) vs. Green Bay — Your rookie QB, making his first pro start, throws for over 400 yards and all you can scrounge up is 36 total yards and one catch (4.1 fantasy points) as the team's lead back? Add on that Jonathan Stewart is there to split the backfield, and it's even tougher to look Williams' way the rest of the season. If 400 yards passing against the Cardinals didn't open up running lanes, I doubt he finds much room against the Pack this week.
Fred Jackson (BUF) vs. Oakland — This has the potential to be an ugly, sluggish game. The Raiders' secondary can conceivably tame the Bills receivers, particularly if Steve Johnson (groin) doesn't play. Meanwhil,e Oakland may grind it out with Darren McFadden against a Bills run D that surrendered 25.6 fantasy points per game to RBs last season, and weren't tested in Week 1 after jumping out to a 20-0 lead against the Chiefs, last year's top rushing team. I just picture Oakland LB Rolando McClain shadowing Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller wherever they may roam, and it will usually be McClain winning the battle.
Mario Manningham (NYG) vs. St. Louis — Read the Eli Manning blurb above. This game has shootout written all over it due to both teams being battered in the secondary. And for Manningham, the team's No. 1 option, Hakeem Nicks, is battling a knee injury and is no lock to go just yet. Monitor the situation, but even if Hicks plays, I'd slide Manningham in there with him.
Jacoby Jones (HOU) at Miami — He moves into the starting role due to Kevin Walter's shoulder injury, and Jones could flourish against a Dolphins team that just allowed Tom Brady to throw for 517 yards against them on Monday night. You don't fix that in six days. Plus, if your league rewards return yards, Jones can help you out there as well. He scored on a punt return in the opener.
Emmanuel Sanders (PIT) vs. Seattle — Sanders didn't get much work in the preseason due to his foot injury, but came right out in Week 1 and scored a TD in the blowout loss to the Ravens. I envision the Steelers being pretty angry about last week's defeat, and taking it out on the Seahawks. If you can't take a flier on him against the Seahawks, when can you?
Mike Thomas (JAC) at New York Jets — If he's covered by Darrelle Revis, forget it. Even if he isn't, just forget it with Thomas this week. Live to play another day when he has easier match ups.
Steve Smith (CAR) vs. Green Bay — He may receive 11 targets again, but how many times will a Packer step in front of the ball. Smith, like Newton, will be a solid play against Jacksonville next week, but for now be happy if you had him in the lineup in Week 1 and find another option for Week 2.
Austin Collie (IND) vs. Cleveland — Just three targets and no catches in a blowout loss to the Texans. While that stat line is appetizing, I will wait until the Collins-to-Collie connection, well, actually makes a connection before I slide him into a WR3 or flex role. Peyton, please hurry back. Love, Pierre, Dallas and Austin.
Owen Daniels (HOU) at Miami — You saw what the Patriots TEs did to Miami last week, right? If you didn't, here it is: 17 targets, 13 catches, 189 yards, two TDs. More OD, please!
Tony Gonzalez (ATL) vs. Philadelphia — He went 5-for-72 against the Bears last week on seven targets — all numbers above last year's averages. Now Gonzo gets an Eagles team that allowed the most fantasy points to TEs a year ago (12.4 PPG) and could be the go-to guy while Roddy White and Julio Jones are blanketed by the outstanding Philly corners.
Jermaine Gresham (CIN) at Denver — The second-year player was one of the Bengals' favorite targets in Week 1, and he delivered with six catches for 58 yards and a score on those eight targets. He gets a Denver team that may be without Champ Bailey (hamstring) and Elvis Dumervil (shoulder) this week, opening up the pass for the Bengals. Monitor Cincy QB Andy Dalton's health as well, because Gresham's success is tied in with Dalton playing.
Jared Cook (TEN) vs. Baltimore — An almost complete no-show against the Jags — the JAGS! He was targeted two times and caught one pass for seven yards. Until he proves he's a consistent fantasy option he stays in the "a-sleeper" category.
Zach Miller (SEA) at Pittsburgh — He was targeted just four times against San Francisco, catching two for 19 yards. The Seahawks' offense managed 219 yards against the 49ers. I doubt that's going to improve much against an angry Steelers defense.
Anthony Fasano (MIA) vs. Houston — Fasano broke out for a five-catch, 82-yard performance against the Patriots, but now goes against a Houston team that limited Indianapolis' Dallas Clark to four catches for 39 yards in a blowout win for the Texans.
David Akers (SF) vs. Dallas — The 49ers' offense is pathetic — 209 yards against Seattle to currently rank 31st in the league. But what they might be able to do this week against an injured Dallas secondary is get into field goal range. Akers might be on a perfect team for a fantasy kicker — one that can't get past the 20 (1-for-5 last week were the Niners). This means more 3-point opportunities for the veteran who is a career 82-percent kicker.
Josh Brown (STL) at New York Giants — St. Louis has the weapons to move the ball down the field, but without Steven Jackson do they have the ability to punch it across the goal line? If not, Brown will be there to pick up the pieces with a few 3-pointers. I lean toward shootout this week, which may mean both 3- and 1-pointers for Brown.
Billy Cundiff (BAL) at Tennessee — Unlike Akers and Brown, the Ravens should be able to punch it across the goal line early and often against the Titans. Cundiff hit three PATs and two FGs for nine fantasy points against the Steelers in Week 1, and should do at least the same, if not more, this week.
Rob Bironas (TEN) vs. Baltimore — This offense can't move the ball right now. They didn't move it against the Jaguars, and in seven days I doubt they will have figured out how to move it against the Ravens. Unless Bironas lines up for a few more 67-yard attempts, and hits this time to give you a good bonus, keep one of the league's best on the pine in Week 2.
Dan Carpenter (MIA) vs. Houston — I just see the Texans shutting the Dolphins down this week in every facet. Carpenter only produced six fantasy points out of the 24 points the Dolphins scored in Week 1. I don't see 24 on the board for Miami in Week 2.
Josh Scobee (JAC) at New York Jets — He took advantage of a stagnate offense last week by hitting three field goals and one PAT. It's doubtful he gets that many opportunities against the Jets this week.
Detroit Lions vs. Kansas City — You saw what Buffalo did to the Chiefs in Arrowhead, right? Seven points. Really? Now the Lions, who just held Tampa Bay to 14 points with two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery, welcome Kansas City to the Motor City. It's a risky play because you need the Lions to force turnovers and get to Matt Cassel in addition to the already low point total and yardage I think they will hold them to on Sunday, but it's a risk worth taking.
Houston Texans at Miami — I am not worried about what Chad Henne did playing catch up to rack up his yards. The Texans unleashed their new 3-4 defense on Kerry Collins and the Colts last week, and Indy was stumped from the word go. Houston held the Colts to seven points, registered three sacks, two fumble recoveries and got a punt return for a score. I believe they bring the heat again this week, shut down the receivers and let Reggie Bush try to beat them. Good luck with that.
Washington Redskins vs, Arizona — The Redskins limited the Giants to 14 points, sacked Eli Manning four times, intercepted him once and returned it for a score and blocked a field goal. The Giants were also held to 75 yards rushing. Look for Beanie Wells to struggle and the Redskins to try and make Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald beat them on the road. The Jim Haslett-led defense will pressure Kolb into mistakes. Plus, the Redskins have Brandon Banks as a very dangerous return man.
Chicago Bears at New Orleans — Last week's No. 2 fantasy defense (25 points) allowed just two field goals, recorded five sacks and got a Brian Urlacher fumble return for a score against the Falcons at home. Now the Bears travel to a New Orleans team that scored 34 points against Green Bay, turned the ball over once, converted 64-percent of its third-down attempts and surrendered three sacks. The Green Bay defense mustered all of five fantasy points without Randall Cobb's kickoff return for a score (11 with). Look elsewhere this week.
San Diego Chargers at New England — This one is pretty simple: The Chargers held Donovan McNabb to 39 yards passing last week — THIRTY-NINE — and their fantasy defense walked away with seven points. Why? Because they allowed a 103-yard kickoff return for a score on the first play, forced just one turnover and sacked McNabb four times. Tom Brady's back at home after passing for 517 yards, being sacked just once and throwing an interception for the first time in 359 pass attempts. The Chargers won't force turnovers, won't get to Brady and won't hold him to the necessary points or yardage totals you need to justify starting them as a fantasy defense this week.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas — Last week's No. 1 fantasy defense (26 points) needed two special teams returns for TDs from Ted Ginn to get there. The 49ers are tied for eighth (14 fantasy points) without those two returns against a terrible Seahawks team that mustered 219 total yards and 17 points. Dallas will certainly get more than 219 yards and 17 points this week against a San Fran team that was second worst against fantasy WRs last year (31 PPG) and ninth worst against fantasy QBs (18.5). Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are a lot different than Tarvaris Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, Mike Williams and Zach Miller. Maybe come back to San Francisco in a week when it travels to Cincinnati.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter