Welcome to the the second installment of Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 2. Please feel free to contact us with any specific line-up questions or general thoughts on the rankings.
1. Miles Austin – I watched him carefully last week against Wash – this guy can just plain get open. Could have a big game against a mediocre Bears’ secondary.
2. Steve Smith (NYG) – Steve Smith isn’t a flashy guy but he’s a consistent presence in the NYG passing game. If Hakeem Nicks is out this week (still not practicing), I might even bump Smith up to the #1 option.
3. Reggie Wayne – Wayne is a solid play. It’s hard to know which one of his fellow WRs will explode for a bigger game, but it sort of doesn’t matter because Wayne always seems to get his.
4. Andre Johnson – I’ve seen Johnson’s name dropping on other rankings mostly due to Arian Foster’s monster rushing game last week. Don’t expect Foster to keep doing that and don’t expect Hou to abandon the pass. Essentially, they used their fantastic passing game from the last 3 years to set up that brilliant rushing game last week. The offense may be a bit more balanced going forward but Schaub and Andre will be back, starting this week.
5. Roddy White – could be a big week for Roddy and the Falcon offense.
6. Brandon Marshall – this is a bit risky if Marshall draws CB Antione Winfield. But the Dolphins can mix up routes/plays to free up Marshall and I think he could do some damage. (And though he plays big, Winfield is 6-7 inches shorter than Marshall).
7. Wes Welker – in Rex Ryan’s own words, Welker is a “match-up nightmare”. Moss and Welker will be busy this week.
8. Marques Colston – Colston will be needed this week as I don’t expect the NO run game to go anywhere (Patrick Willis will make sure of that).
9. Santana Moss – Moss at his best has Welkerish qualities – he’s so quick so getting open is a huge strength. Now, if Moss could just get in the end zone more, he’d could be a top flight WR.
10. Anquan Boldin – looked very good on Monday Night. Made tough catches in traffic, deep catches and catches requiring good hands. He and Flacco are very clearly on the same page. He’ll get lots of attention from Cincy’s talented secondary, but don’t forget, Boldin has been dealing with lots of defensive attention for years and he just plain continues to produce. The concern with Boldin as a Raven in particular is, will he score?
11. Calvin Johnson – people are not giving QB Shaun Hill much of a chance this week for Detroit despite Hill having a winning percentage of over .600 in his career. He’s not a bad QB and almost led Detroit to victory last weekend in Chicago. He’ll get Johnson the ball and Detroit will make this a game (likely upsetting Philly here).
12. DeSean Jackson –I can see the incredibly quick Jackson being tough to handle on the turf in Detroit – and I can see Vick’s running threat creating some really nice run-after-the-catch opportunities for Jackson (because Vick’s running lures defenders often leaving WRs wide open with room to run).
13. Michael Crabtree – I think he’ll deliver this Monday Night. Regardless of his take on it, he is shaping up to be quite a Diva, but one thing we do know about Divas is that they like Prime Time. I expect SF to perform much better in this game offensively than in Week 1.
14. Donald Driver – while it’s difficult for me not to put Greg Jennings up higher than Driver, there are just some weeks when Driver becomes the safety option for Rodgers and I have a feeling this is one of those weeks. My guess is Buffalo’s D will spend most of its energy defending Jennings and Jermichael Finley, leaving Driver isolated against lesser quality defenders. Rodgers will sense it and exploit it. (It’s possible #3 WR James Jones could have a big game for similar reasons).
15. Randy Moss – despite the Revis factor and his recent attitude issues, I think Randy Moss could be good in this game. After watching the Jets allow Revis to mark Derrick Mason for most of the game while Anquan Boldin was having his way, I’m not sure the Jets trust Revis’ health right now.
16. Larry Fitzgerald –AZ may be playing catch-up here which could boost his numbers.
17. Dwayne Bowe – I’m reluctant to take Bowe here because he hurt my team big-time last week. It was pouring rain – but even considering the rain, he looked quite slow out there.
18. Pierre Garcon – Reggie Wayne will produce like always, but then it seems like a toss-up for which #2, #3, or #4 WR will have crazy stats. Last week it was Collie, this week I think it will be Garcon.
19. Greg Jennings – again it’s tough for me to drop him back this far, and while I think he’ll have some stats, I think he’ll be used largely as a decoy to attract defensive attention so that Driver and James Jones can run free.
20. Legedu Naanee – he looked good against KC last week and so did the SD passing game. With Antonio Gates consuming defensive game plans (KC had 3 guys on his at one point last week – at the line of scrimmage!), the other pass targets for SD should be looking at favorable match-ups and a fair amount of single coverage. Naanee has an almost TE quality in the way he establishes position around him when he catches the ball. He could be a fantasy surprise this year.
21. Steve Smith (Car) – Smith was decent last week, but should have a nice week this week. He may draw Ronde Barber, but I’m not convinced Barber is that good anymore. I also think both teams will put up some points in this one and for Carolina, if they score a TD through air, chances are pretty good it will be to Steve Smith.
22. Hines Ward – though he’ll draw Courtland Finegan most likely (a match-up of 2 super aggressive/dirty players), I think Ward will get some stats especially if Tenn is able to shut down the Pitt running game.
1. Jermichael Finley – this week will be like the Arizona playoff game last year for Finley (159 yards receiving). I can see Mike McCarthy/Aaron Rodgers even forcing the issue if they have to, to make sure Finley gets into the groove of the 2010 season.
2. Zach Miller (Oak) – some may think it’s nuts to put him this high, but match-up wise, this could be a big week for him. I think Oak and StL will actually open up the scoring in this one and Zach Miller will be involved.
3. Dallas Clark – with so many other passing options for Manning, it’s hard for any defense to focus on one guy. That said, if they did focus on one guy it would probably be Clark. Problem is that the Giants LB group isn’t that great – Clark will get his.
4. Antonio Gates – man he’s good. Watching him against KC, I noticed he just clears a space around him that no defenders can seem to penetrate. I find it interesting the parallel between tight ends clearing space and/or finding soft spots in zones and big power forwards rebounding the ball in basketball. In fact, it’s no coincidence to me that 3 of the top TEs in the NFL flirted with NBA careers (Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Jermichael Finley).
5. Brent Celek – my guess is that Andy Reid has been pounding home all week in practice, the importance of Vick looking for the safety option of Brent Celek – encouraging him to think of Celek like Vick used to think of Alge Crumpler back in the day. Celek could be good this week.
6. Jason Witten – it’s funny, Witten has done so little in recent memory that I think teams are starting to worry about him less than they should. With the arrival of Dez Bryant, the emergence of Miles Austin and the 3-headed RB group, Witten sort of becomes “just another option” to defenses. Soon, he’ll start making defenses pay again.
7. Tony Gonzalez – should have a good week this week. AZ’s defense isn’t bad, but their LB group took a hit this offseason losing Karlos Dansby. I like Gonzalez here for TDs and yards – and I like Atlanta here in general.
8. Chris Cooley – like him this week playing against Houston’s soft pass defense. I expect the Redskins to open up the offense a bit this week and do something (vs doing mostly nothing last weekend).
9. Vernon Davis – Davis is now a team leader and I’m sure is expecting a bunch of targets this week. But if the Saints do to him what they did to Shiancoe last week, both Davis and SF could be in trouble. After realizing that Favre was only throwing to Shiancoe last week, the Saints shifted more coverage on Shiancoe and shut him down – and then shut down the MN passing game. That would be the worry here with Davis.
10. Evan Moore – odd pick here but this is a guy who could be a good TE in the NFL. The Packers were very reluctant to let him go a year ago because he had lots of potential, but I believe he left after an injury settlement – couldn’t stay healthy. Well not he’s healthy and he’s 6’8” – making for an easy target for QBs.
11. Visanthe Shiancoe
12. Jermaine Gresham
13. Tony Moeaki (KC)
14. John Carlson
15. Todd Heap
1. Packers – I see the Bill getting some stats late in this game, but not before. Clay Matthews will be a big problem for Trent Edwards.
2. Ravens – like the way this defense snuffed out the already weak NYJ defense. Cincy does have a potent offense (or an offense with potential to be potent) and Cedric Benson tends to get tough yards against good defenses – but the Balt D looked very good last week.
3. Titans – I don’t see Pitt racking up huge yards, though I do see them winning. Tenn is tough at home, especially defensively.
4. Redskins – surprised picking them again this week? They were good last week and I think Houston may suffer from a temporary offensive identity crisis when the Skins shut down Arian Foster. Eventually Houston will convert some passes and get their offense going, but my guess is that it will be too late.
5. Vikings – don’t think Miami will go nuts in this game offensively, but I also don’t think they’ll rack up tons of yards/points. (And Jared Allen is likely to get a few sacks here – or perhaps more likely, Ray Edwards as Allen will be up against T Jake Long). But the Vikes return game could be good this week.
6. KC – taking the Chiefs this high is due mainly to their special teams. Hard to believe KC has not one but two outstanding return guys in McCluster and Arenas.
7. Detroit – few will understand this pick, but they aren’t that bad and I can see Philly struggling in this game.
1. Phil Dawson
2. David Buehler
3. Ryan Longwell
4. Mason Crosby
5. Matt Bryant
6. Matt Prater
7. David Akers
In the following section, I have listed specific players who might be riskier plays but who also have the chance to deliver big games. Often these guys are not listed in the rankings. These will be guys who aren’t as highly regarded in fantasy circles, but guys who offer upside because of the match-up – and usually guys I can see scoring.
You might take a flier on:
1. Josh Freeman – may need to air it out in this one. If Carolina controls possession with their run game and they get ahead, Freeman may be called upon to help TB catch up – through the air. Still think this guy has good NFL potential.
2. Jason Campbell – though his performance last week in Tenn apparently left more than a lot to be desired, my guess is that he’s going to play well for the home crowd this week – against a sketchy Rams secondary (with the exception of Otogwe). Like Campbell to open it up here.
3. LT – yes, the old LT. I think Shonn Greene’s fumbles last week could really damage his fantasy value for the year. Rex was not happy about it. LT came in and didn’t look bad – and I can see him hurting the Pats D this week.
4. Kevin Faulk – the unheralded Kevin Faulk who catches everything that comes his way and just gets yards. I wonder what he might have been like had he been the #1 back at one point in his career. Very good player.
5. Louis Murphy – despite his rather outrageous claim that he’s Pro Bowl bound, I do think he has some talent and I think Jason Campbell has a good game Sunday.
6. Mohammed Massaquoi – good player stuck in the Cleve. Could be tough Sunday.
7. Greg Camarillo – after the Saints sort of embarrassed Favre by shutting down his #1 target Shiancoe last weekend (and by extension they shut down Favre), Favre knows he has to distribute the ball more effectively. My guess is Camarillo is that guy – against his former team.
8. Travis Beckum – TE for the NYG who is finally getting a good opportunity to play with Kevin Boss out. At Wisconsin, Beckum was one of the best receiving TEs college football has seen in years. Very talented and I think if Indy can at least slow the NYG run game, Eli may have to pass at times and Beckum would be a safe target for him.
9. Graham Gano – good kicker, could help the Skins edge Hou this week.
10. Broncos Defense – as much as I think Seattle will be decent this year, at home this week I can see the Broncos pass D in particular causing problems for Hasselbeck. And, I sense a special teams TD for Denver this week.