Brandon Marshall – For a guy who hasn’t exactly set the NFL on fire this year, seems odd to put him first. But for a prime time match-up against the Jets, a team adept at shutting down the run, it just seems like it’s time for Marshall to explode. Revis won’t be playing so Marshall should have his way.
Miles Austin – Keeping Austin in the top 5 for the second straight week. I like this match-up for Dallas against a porous Houston secondary. And the Cowboys will come to play Sunday.
Randy Moss – The unreal catch from Moss last week proves he’s got plenty left. I expect a big day through the air by NE as Buff was pretty strong against the run last week in GB.
Andre Johnson – After last weekend, I’m not sure there are many left who would question who the #1 WR in the NFL is today. Johnson is brutally difficult to defend. Crisp route-running, strong off the middle, strong on jump balls, tremendous hands and not easy to bring down. He deserved his ridiculous salary increase this off-season.
Roddy White – White owners have got to be excited about his huge number of targets. Ryan locks onto the guy sometimes, but White still manages to get open and make plays. Shoot-out in New Orleans on Sunday.
Greg Jennings – Each week, I find myself thinking about whether it will be Jennings or Driver who goes off. For some reason, I see a quieter night for Driver and Jennings getting some good stats.
Anquan Boldin – Though Ray Rice will be out to redeem himself (a couple mediocre performances so far), I do think John Harbaugh is going to ask Flacco to air it out to help Flacco recapture his confidence after the disaster last week. Boldin should be good this week.
DeSean Jackson – Just gotta love the fact that whenever this guy makes a catch, on average, it’s for 20 yards.
Steve Breaston – Though Fitzgerald is the touchdown guy, he’ll be covered mostly by Asomugha and could be rendered totally ineffective. (Asomugha is THAT good.) But Breaston could have his way with a mediocre Oakland secondary. Lots of targets for Breaston Sunday.
Wes Welker – I like Welker and Moss both this weekend – Brady will spread the love.
Mike Sims-Walker – Last weekend Sims-Walker showed a bit more of what he can do. Very good WR. But the most compelling reason to take him? Jax’s own Maurice Jones-Drew writes a fantasy football column for sportsillustrated.com and he’s been talking both Sims-Walker and TE Marcedes Lewis up.
Santana Moss – While Moss seems to be afraid of the end zone, he does make a ton of catches and has clearly established himself as THE option for McNabb. Have to like him against the Rams.
Calvin Johnson – Shaun Hill has already discovered that one of his highest percentage passes may be to simply lob the ball near Calvin Johnson. Johnson could get some stats, especially in garbage time – for some reason I see the 0-2 Vikings crushing Detroit here.
Reggie Wayne – Wayne is always solid, but I think he may get a good number of targets this week because I think Indy will be playing from behind.
Eddie Royal – Look for Kyle Orton and Denver to have an explosive offensive game – even though Knowshon Moreno will be out. Lots of passes.
Steve Smith (Car) – While there will be plenty of talking by the opponents 2 WRs (T.O. and OchoCinco), Smith may be the WR who emerges with the best numbers in this one. Some have written Smith off for this week because rookie QB Jimmy Clausen will be getting his first NFL start. But I’m pretty sure the first thing the Carolina coaches told Clausen is that Smith is his best safety option.
Kevin Walter – Matt Schaub really likes Kevin Walter – reason enough to start him this week alone. But Walter is also just plain good and is apparently a tremendous route runner (like his fellow starter Andre Johnson).
Robert Meachem – Lots of fantasy folks are wondering what happened to Meacham. He didn’t have many targets last year but he scored lots of TDs. This year he has 3 catches. Well, against a game Atlanta team, I think Brees will need to stretch the field and that’s where Meachem comes in.
Percy Harvin – The Vikes have to get their passing game going and I think it may be Harvin who gives it the necessary push this weekend.
Louis Murphy – Starting to be a name more folks are recognizing. Good player at Oakland and they will likely be throwing some late in the game down at Arizona.
Antonio Gates – Just a monster. I’ve watched San Diego play a couple times now and I see how Rivers just looks for him. Rivers has the comfort of knowing he can throw tight passes in for Gates because he’s so reliable and so good at clearing space around himself.
Tony Gonzalez – I see lots of points in this game at New Orleans, some of which Gonzalez will score.
Jermichael Finley – Lots of people are waiting for Finley to go nuts statistically this year. I think this could be the game (despite the massive attention the Bears are sure to pay to him). Urlacher can’t stay with him and neither can Briggs or any of the Bears’ secondary personnel.
Dallas Clark – A safe play, but this week he could be especially good if Manning and the Colts need to pass themselves back into the game.
Visanthe Shiancoe – The Vikes will play very angry in this one and Shiancoe is clearly Favre’s favorite target. He’ll get his this week.
Vernon Davis – Davis has had some decent games so far, but hasn’t scored. He’s a hungry player and SF has to win this game.
Marcedes Lewis – Teammate Maurice Jones-Drew has been talking highly of Lewis – the #3 TE in fantasy so far this season. The Eagles hyper-focus on Maurice Jones-Drew could open up the Jax passing game which can’t possibly be worse than it was last week.
Brent Celek – He has to get it going one of these weeks, and my guess is it will be this one. He was very frustrated by the Packers in Week 1 and I’m guessing he’s been giving Vick an earful this week about his lack of passes. Too good for Philly not to use.
Aaron Hernandez – Wow, if you saw this guy move last week, you’ll know why I put him so high this week. Against a weak Buff team, this could be a showcase game for New England’s newest weapon. The guy moves like a WR and has very good hands.
Jason Witten – It can’t be long before Witten goes nuts. He’s too good. I realize opposing defenses really gear up for him, but Romo loves throwing to him and he’s just a tough competitor.
Dustin Keller – Sanchez seems to finally understand the value of a TE. Keller looked very good last week and will be a safety outlet for Sanchez this weekend too.
Chris Cooley – I like this match-up for Cooley. I can imagine that the Rams will shift over extra coverage on Santana Moss, so Cooley may get a good # of targets.
Zach Miller (Oak) – Bruce Gradkowski may throw a good # of balls to Miller Sunday as a safe outlet option as I suspect Arizona will be dialing up plenty of blitzes in an effort to rattle Oakland’s new starter.
Tony Moeaki (KC) – I like this guy and I think Cassel will soon see the value, sort of like Sanchez, in having a reliable TE.
Todd Heap – Balt should run away with this game and I’d expect several TDs through the air.
Miami – Even though the Jets put up 28 points on NE last week, I see them reverting here a bit. Also, Miami has held 2 opponents to just 10 points the last two weeks – both of which were away games. I like the Dolphins to beat up on the Jets Sunday night.
Ravens – Balt will be playing a bit angry after losing the Cincy game in apparently controversial fashion. The Cleve is unlucky to be coming through Balt this week.
Vikings – Should handle Detroit this week, especially if the offense can take some of the pressure off of the defense for the first time this season. (Of course, Favre and the offense could continue to falter leaving the defense vulnerable to a more potent-than-usual Detroit offense – but I think it’s unlikely.)
Pitt – Hard not to take Pitt #1 here after the total domination last week by their D. But TB is a pretty good team so far and they may test this tough D.
NYG – While the Giants definitely looked absolutely awful last week and they’ll be facing a Tenn offense trying to redeem itself this week, I think this D will come to play Sunday because they have to.
Jax – Hard for some to imagine why I’d take Jax against a hot Michael Vick-led offense. But as much as I respect Vick’s talent and how well he’s playing, I don’t think he’ll be able to sustain this level of play for much longer. And for some reason, I really think Philly will struggle in Jax – and that Jax will manage to control the clock by running the ball — helping their defense.
Cardinals – Again, another seemingly questionable pick for a team that gave up 41 points last week. But I don’t think that was the real Cardinals D and they are at home this week against a weak-ish opponent.
Matt Bryant – I like Atlanta to put up a ton of points in this game and Bryant to score quite a few of them.
Jeff Reed – A good kicker and one his team relies on quite a bit. I expect Pitt to have a sputtering offense with Charlie Batch quarterbacking – but enough of an offense (and a defensive-offense, if you will) to get Pitt into field goal range at least.
Stephen Gostkowski – A horrible fantasy player this year, he needs a redemption game and this could be it.
Ryan Succop – I see KC moving the ball Ok against the talented SF defense, but not well enough to score lots of TDs. So I see field goals here.
Robbie Gould – In what could be a tight-scoring game that comes down to the wire, Gould and Mason Crosby both could be busy.
Mason Crosby – In what could be a tight-scoring game that comes down to the wire, Gould and Mason Crosby both could be busy.
John Kasay – In what could be a field goal contest, I like Kasay for Carolina this Sunday.
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:
Sam Bradford – I really like what I’ve seen from him so far. He’s a heady player and it’s pretty apparent why he was a #1 overall pick. I imagine Wash will be stacking 8-9 in the box for most of the game trying to stop Steven Jackson – forcing Bradford to beat them. Bradford is no Matt Schaub yet, but Schaub did have 496 yards passing last week against Wash…so…
Chad Henne – Could have a breakout game this week against a Jets D that will definitely focus on forcing Henne to beat them through the air. Henne is good enough to do it.
Marshawn Lynch – Looked quite good at Green Bay last weekend and the Pats had some trouble containing the aging veteran L.T. Buff might try to eat up clock time to keep Brady and company off the field – and they’ll use Lynch a lot to do it.
Danny Woodhead – With valuable back Kevin Faulk out for the year in New England, both Green-Ellis and Woodhead stand to get more looks. Of course NE loves Woodhead not just because he was a former Jet and has given them lots of info on the Jets offense for sure – but also because he’s a mini-Wes Welker (if that’s even possible). Shifty guy whom Brady could grow to like and use quickly.
Michael Crabtree – I didn’t put him in the rankings this week because he just hasn’t delivered yet. But when he does, it could be in grand fashion. His one catch last week and run after the catch was special. It was very evident from that move alone why he’s so highly regarded. This guy can play.
Danny Amendola – Won’t get much attention from the Redskins but I know the Rams have visions of Wes Welker when they watch Amendola play. These may more accurately be described as delusions, but Amendola has flashed so far.
Anthony Fasano – Could be good this weekend, but is tough to rank ever because he’s so inconsistent.
Carolina DST – After giving up 20 points at home in defeat to TB last weekend, this is a highly questionable pick. But Carolina has to win this game or their fate for the year may be sealed.
Olindo Mare – This guy likes kicking at home and he may be needed in what could end up being a high-scoring affair.