Joe Flacco and Michael Vick may not put up big numbers this Sunday
Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season is here, which means it's time to get those fantasy lineups in order for this weekend’s action. Just like the 16 NFL teams that lost in Week 1, there’s still plenty of time to right the ship if your fantasy team is 0-1, especially if you can get into the win column this week.
Athlon Sports is to help you make those important decisions each week with our Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.
Sneaky Start of the Week
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco vs. Detroit
San Francisco had the third most rushing attempts in the NFL last season, compared to the second-fewest pass attempts. During the offseason, the 49ers added wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham through free agency and drafted A.J. Jenkins in the first round, looking to give Alex Smith more weapons. If the early results are to be believed, it looks like the team is in fact serious about airing it out more in 2012.
Against Green Bay in Week 1, Smith had just six fewer pass attempts (26) compared to rushes (32) by the team, completing 20 passes for 211 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He connected with six different receivers, including four times each with Moss and Manningham. This week Smith and the 49ers open up at home against Detroit and a secondary that’s still dealing with several injuries. If Smith plays like he did against the Packers, I think he’s in for an even bigger week, as he’s also capable of making plays with his legs.
Surprise Sit of the Week
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore vs. Philadelphia
Fewer quarterbacks had a better opening week than Flacco, who threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-29 passing against Cincinnati on Monday night. Uncharacteristically, the Ravens threw more times (32) than they ran the ball (23), as Ray Rice had just 10 carries on the night.
Those who are expecting similar numbers from Flacco this week against Philadelphia are going to be in for rude awakening, I’m afraid. For one, the Eagles defense figures to be a little more difficult to post big numbers against compared to the Bengals. Last week, the Eagles hurried and harassed Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden all game as the rookie struggled mightily in his NFL debut, connecting on just 12 of 35 pass attempts for only 118 yards. He also threw four picks and was sacked twice. Besides the Eagles’ pass rush and secondary, I also think Flacco will be held in check by the Ravens’ own game plan, which I believe will feature a much heavier dose of Rice and the running game.
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. New York Jets
Big Ben was solid in Week 1 against Denver, but his pass protection broke down late and he threw a costly pick-six in the fourth quarter. Even though it’s the Jets this week, the game is at home, where Roethlisberger always plays well, and the visitors will more than likely be missing their best defensive player. Cornerback Darrelle Revis suffered a concussion in last week’s win against Buffalo and as of Thursday had not yet been cleared to practice. No Revis completely changes the complexion of the Jets’ secondary and defense as a whole, which increases Big Ben’s fantasy appeal.
Christian Ponder (MIN) at Indianapolis
Ponder was very solid (20-27, 270 yards) in the Vikings' win against Jacksonville. He didn’t throw any touchdown passes, but that should change, especially with Adrian Peterson appearing to be close to his usual form after his first game back since tearing his ACL late last season. This week, Ponder and the Vikings will get their shot at a Colts’ defense that gave up more than 400 yards of total offense, including 333 through the air, to the Bears in Week 1.
Kevin Kolb (ARI) at New England
This is a tentative endorsement as you should have better options than Kolb on your roster, but I am curious to see how Kolb does against New England. The high-priced backup entered last week’s game against Seattle in the fourth quarter after starter John Skelton went down with an ankle injury. Kolb completed six of the eight passes he threw, including the game-winning score. Skelton will more than likely be unable to go this Sunday against the Patriots, giving Kolb another shot to show everyone why the Cardinals traded for him in the first place. New England gave up 264 yards passing to the Titans in Week 1, and you have to figure Kolb will get his chances to air it out as the Cardinals will be trying to keep up with the Patriots on the scoreboard.
Michael Vick (PHI) at Baltimore
The Eagles won, but Vick (completed just 52 percent of passes, 4 INTs) didn’t play all that well even though he finished with more than 300 yards passing. That was against Cleveland. This week it’s Baltimore and the Ravens defense that limited Andy Dalton to 211 yards passing with no touchdowns, sacked him four times and forced two turnovers. It also doesn't help that both of Vick's top wide receivers, DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Jeremy Maclin (hip), missed practice on Thursday and their status is uncertain headed into Sunday's game.
Carson Palmer (OAK) at Miami
Palmer completed 32 passes on Monday night against San Diego, with 13 of those going to his running back, Darren McFadden. The Raiders’ wide receivers situation is a mess right now because of injuries and I don’t think it will get markedly better this week as the Silver and Black make the cross-country trip to take on Miami.
Mark Sanchez (NYJ) at Pittsburgh
Sanchez was near spectacular (266 yards, 3 TDs, INT) against Buffalo in Week 1 as Tim Tebow was basically relegated to mop-up duty. This week the Jets go to Pittsburgh to take on a Steelers defense that’s still smarting from the loss in Denver and gets starting free safety Ryan Clark and linebacker James Harrison back. I expect the going for the Jets’ offense to be much tougher this Sunday and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Tebow sees significantly more snaps as the Jets will turn to their version of the Wildcat to keep the Steel Curtain off balance.
Doug Martin (TB) at New York Giants
Martin dominated the carries for the Buccaneers in Week 1, getting 24 of the team’s 36, and also caught four passes out of the backfield. The Giants gave up 131 yards on the ground to DeMarco Murray in their opener, and I think Martin will get more than enough touches in this game to be a factor.
Jonathan Stewart (CAR) vs. New Orleans
Barring a late setback, Stewart should make his season debut against the Saints after missing Week 1 because of an ankle injury. The good news for Stewart is twofold: 1) The Panthers rushed for a grand total of 13 yards on 10 carries without him last week against Tampa Bay and 2) He’s going up against a rush defense that gave up 153 yards to the Redskins in Week 1. Stewart also is a legitimate threat as a receiver out of the backfield, further increasing his value.
Jonathan Dwyer (PIT) vs. New York Jets
Isaac Redman got the start and more carries (11 to 9) against Denver, but it was Dwyer who did more damage, finishing with a team-high 43 yards rushing. His solid production was enough to earn him a bigger role for this Sunday’s game against the Jets. Remember, the Jets gave up 169 yards on the ground to C.J. Spiller, who like Dwyer was initially Buffalo’s backup running back, last week. Depending on your other options, Dwyer may be worth taking a flyer on as a RB3 or flex option this week.
Michael Turner (ATL) vs. Denver (Monday)
Going into the season, the expectation was that the Falcons would cut down on Turner’s workload. That came to fruition last week as he got only 11 carries against Kansas City, finishing with a mere 32 yards. The Falcons seem very comfortable with a more pass-oriented offense and between that and the presence of Jacquizz Rodgers, who got seven carries and is a bigger threat out of the backfield as a receiver, I expect we will see more of the same on Monday night against Denver.
Aflred Morris (WAS) at St. Louis
Yes, Alfred Morris got more than 65 percent of the Redskins’ carries in Week 1, turning those opportunities into 96 yards and two touchdowns. However, that doesn’t mean that this week it won’t be Roy Helu or Evan Royster or even Robert Griffin III with that distinction. Plus, the Redskins will be going up against a St. Louis defense that surrendered a total of 83 yards on the ground to Detroit in Week 1. If you want to jump on the Morris bandwagon, you go right on ahead. I’m just not quite ready to join you.
Kevin Smith (DET) at San Francisco
The good: Smith scored two touchdowns last week against St. Louis, one rushing, one receiving. The bad: He only had 81 total yards (62 rushing, 29 receiving) in that game. The ugly: That came against St. Louis, this week the Lions take on San Francisco, who gave up only 45 yards rushing to Green Bay in Week 1.
Wes Welker (NE) vs. Arizona
Including Welker here says his three-catch, 14-yard effort against Tennessee last week is the exception and not the norm. I expect Tom Brady will look to get Welker involved early and often this Sunday against Arizona.
Antonio Brown (PIT) vs. New York Jets
Brown’s numbers (4 rec., team-high 74 yards) weren’t bad in Week 1 against Denver; they just don’t jump out at you either. It wouldn’t surprise me to see that change this Sunday as the Jets will more than likely be without All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. No Revis thins out the Jets’ secondary from the start, and I think Brown is the Steeler receiver who will benefit most from his absence.
Andre Roberts (ARI) at New England
Larry Fitzgerald is the main man in Arizona, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s plenty of room for a No. 2 and right now that appears to be Roberts, and not first-round pick Michael Floyd. Roberts finished second to Fitzgerald in targets in Week 1, turning nine of them into a team-high five receptions. One of those was the game-winning touchdown pass from Kevin Kolb in the fourth quarter. Kolb is expected to start this Sunday’s game in New England.
Sidney Rice (SEA) vs. Dallas
The Cowboys upgraded their secondary during the offseason through both free agency (Brandon Carr) and the draft (Morris Claiborne) and it held up very well against Eli Manning and the Giants’ pass attack in Week 1. Russell Wilson looked every bit the rookie in his first NFL start last week against Arizona. Don’t expect drastic improvement from the Seahawks’ passing game this Sunday either.
Kevin Ogletree (DAL) at Seattle
Ogletree stole the show a week ago when he starred in the NFL’s season opener, grabbing a game-high eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Seattle’s secondary will be a much tougher test for Ogletree and the entire Cowboys’ passing game this week compared to the Giants’ injury-depleted corps they faced in Week 1. Ogletree may be productive again, but expectations should be limited to that of a possible WR3, and not along the lines of what he did in Week 1.
Titus Young (DET) at San Francisco
Young caught just one pass in Week 1 as he committed a personal foul penalty that earned him a seat on the bench for much of the game. Young is oozing with fantasy upside, especially if he grabs hold of the No. 2 wide receiver job for the Lions, but just hasn’t been able to get out of his own way. Until he can prove that he can maintain his composure on the field, including practicing with his own teammates, it’s probably best to leave him on your bench.
Jared Cook (TEN) at San Diego
Cook led all Titans receivers with 64 yards on four catches last week and his workload should only increase as the season goes on. The Titans could have wide receiver Kenny Britt back on the field this week, which should help Cook more than hurt him as Britt’s presence, especially as a deep threat, helps open the middle of the field even more for the athletic tight end.
Kyle Rudolph (MIN) at Indianapolis
It's Coby Fleener’s home debut, but don’t be surprised if Rudolph is the young tight end that finishes with better numbers in this game. The Colts’ linebacking corps is missing its leader as Pat Angerer is still sidelined by a broken foot. Rudolph, who caught five passes for 67 yards last week, should be able to find plenty of room to roam in the middle of the field this Sunday.
Martellus Bennett (NYG) vs. Tampa Bay
Eli Manning found Bennett in the end zone in Week 1 against Dallas and will look for his tight end again this week against Tampa Bay. Bennett’s size is a weapon in the red zone, and Manning has never been afraid to throw to his tight ends.
Fred Davis (WAS) at St. Louis
Surprisingly, Davis and Robert Griffin III only connected twice during the rookie’s impressive debut against New Orleans. While that could change any given week or as the season progresses, I would consider benching Davis until Griffin starts looking his way more consistently.
Jason Witten (DAL) at Seattle
Let’s give credit where credit is due. I was stunned when Witten played last week against the Giants in the first place. However, it shouldn’t be ignored that he caught just two passes and was only targeted three times. It’s completely understandable that Witten may not be back to 100 percent health for several more weeks. This is also the reason why I would bench the All-Pro, at least until his production is more along the lines of what we have come to expect.
Brent Celek (PHI) vs. Baltimore
Michael Vick did look Celek’s way eight times in Week 1 against Cleveland, but what’s more concerning to me is that Clay Harbor, and not Celek, appeared to get the looks when the Eagles were in the red zone. That coupled with Ray Lewis and co. on the docket this Sunday is more than enough reason for me to bypass Celek this week.
New England vs. Arizona
Arizona should be able to get some yards and points against the Patriots, but their run defense was awfully stout against Tennessee last week and I expect the opportunistic unit to get a score via a turnover or on special teams.
Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
What better way to let your defense get healthy and gain some confidence than to face an offense with a rookie quarterback that did next-to-nothing in Week 1, right?
Oakland at Miami
See above and add to it the fact that the Raiders gave up just one touchdown to the Chargers in five red zone attempts on Monday night. It’s entirely possible that the Dolphins end up with fewer this Sunday.
New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay
The Giants’ defense yielded both a 100-yard rusher and 300-yard passer in their opener. While the Cowboys’ offense and the Buccaneers’ offense are two entirely different animals, I think Tampa has enough weapons and will get enough opportunities to make the Giants’ defense a fantasy non-factor once again.
Detroit Lions at San Francisco
The Lions’ defense more than held its own against St. Louis in Week 1, but will face something completely different this Sunday in San Francisco. The 49ers attacked Green Bay in Week 1 with both the run and the pass, and I’m expecting more of the same this Sunday in their home opener. The Lions' D relies heavily on big plays and turnovers, but the 49ers have a reputation for protecting the ball.
Nate Kaeding (SD) vs. Tennessee
The Chargers had all sorts of trouble punching it into the end zone against Oakland, which resulted in Kaeding kicking five field goals. Given their issues along the offensive line and with the running game, I don’t expect much to change this Sunday against the Titans.
Justin Tucker (BAL) at Philadelphia
Baltimore should be able to move the ball and put several drives together against the Eagles, but I think they will have trouble getting into the end zone. This should leave Tucker with plenty of chances to put three points on the board.
Dan Carpenter (MIA) vs. Oakland
Carpenter’s chances to kick will be limited as long as Ryan Tannehill struggles under center.
Phil Dawson (CLE) at Cincinnati
Dawson and Carpenter will probably remain linked throughout the season as both kickers are relying on struggling offenses led by rookie quarterbacks to provide them with scoring opportunities.
— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 14, 2012