|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets||Smart Era Gets Off to a Good Start with Win over T’wolves|
With Week 1 of the NFL in the books, you and your fantasy team are in one of two situations. Situation #1: you won your first week’s match-up and you’ve got visions of fantasy football glory running through your head, all the way to your league’s championship. Situation #2: you’ve got Kevin Kolb and Ryan Grant, and you’re already swapping players for draft picks for next season, giving up all hope on a lost fantasy season.
Well relax all of you, whether you’re riding high or you’re down in the dumps. Fantasy football championships aren’t won or lost in the first week of the season. It’s how you follow it up in the next few weeks that can make or break your team and your chances. So Joe Fantasy, who spent all week weeping in misery because he lost Ryan Grant, his top RB, to injury and didn’t win the waiver claim for Brandon Jackson, cheer up pal. Turn over a new leaf, it’s Week 2, and hope springs eternal.
Before we dive into this week’s “Fantasy Fast Forward” picks for Week 2, let’s take a brief… ok, not so brief… look at how my Week 1 picks fared…
Well, two out of 3 ain’t bad. Palmer lost to the Pats, but only Peyton Manning had more completions than Palmer’s 34 against New England. Cutler turned the ball over twice like only Cutler can do, but his 372 passing yards and two TDs more than made up for it. And then there was Alex Smith, who crapped his pants against the Seahawks… that’s right, the freakin’ Seahawks… throwing 2 picks with no TDs in San Fran’s embarrassing loss.
I have to pat myself on the back for this trio. Favre was not the superhero he thinks he is against the defending champs last week, throwing for a very pedestrian 171 yards and just one score, while Flacco and McNabb didn’t get in the end zone at all against the Jets or Cowboys, respectively.
Good Sundays had by all three of these rushers, with Forte leading the way with a monster performance against the Lions, especially for you folks in PPR leagues. Mendenhall scampered for 120 yards and a score in Pittsburgh’s win, and Ahmad Bradshaw put up a nice day with 76 yards on the ground to go along with a TD run of his own.
LeSean McCoy’s opening week was saved by a lone TD run, but McCoy’s fantasy owners can’t be happy that he only ran the ball seven times. Stewart was a non-factor for the Panthers, carrying the ball just five times for 12 yards and sniffing no part of the end zone. And there’s Maroney, who didn’t even crack the 45-man active roster against the Bengals, as one of Belichick’s game-day scratches. Maroney’s days as a Patriot were obviously numbered, as he’ll be donning Bronco blue and orange going forward, after this week’s trade.
This is where my success rate took a hit. All three of my nominees caught just three passes in Week 1, with Gaffney the only receiver in the threesome with a trip to the end zone. Floyd and Garcon each had double-digit targets though, so they both just need to load up with more stick-em on the gloves, and they’ll be just fine.
These three truly were jokers. Britt didn’t even touch the ball in Sunday’s win over Oakland, Mike Wallace was the proud owner of just two catches for the Steelers, and Lee Evans hauled in four short passes for just a 34-yard total.
It was a lousy Sunday for the “Zach Attack,” with Miller catching just four balls for a measly 43 yards. Better days are ahead for Miller though, for sure.
He’s still clearly in recovery mode with that banged up knee, so his one-catch, nine-yard performance in Sunday’s win over the Colts shouldn’t have come as a shocker to anyone.
Rookie Most Likely to Succeed in His NFL Debut (Mathews) – His 75 yards rushing wasn’t awful for Mathews owners, but if you were banking on a rookie RB, I bet you wish you had Detroit’s Jahvid Best in your lineup last week, with his two rushing TDs.
Rookie Most Likely to Disappoint in His NFL Debut (Spiller) – He got 11 touches, 7 on the ground and 4 in the air. Sounds decent, right? Not when you find out that he ran for just 6 yards and his receptions totaled 8 yards. Ouch…
QB Most Likely to Throw for 400 Yards (P. Manning) – Who was the ONLY QB to throw for 400 yards this past week? Yup, Peyton’s your man. Please, hold your applause… I’m blushing.
Team Defense Most Likely to Shut Out Their Opponent (Arizona) -Well there weren’t any shutouts in Week 1, but the Cards still weren’t a bad play for fantasy defenses with their 3 INTs, 2 sacks, and a fumble recovery.
Fantasy First Rounder Most Likely to Have a Disappointing Opener (R. Rice) – I’d say you Ray Rice owners were looking for a bit more than the 43 rushing yards that Rice gave you Monday night against the Jets, right?
“Adrian Peterson won’t run for more than 60 yards in New Orleans against the Saints.”
Ok, he beat the 60-yard mark with his 87, but for where you drafted him, that’s still not enough.
“Matthew Stafford will throw for more yards on Sunday against the Bears than Tony Romo will rack up against the Redskins.”
I’m calling this one “inconclusive,” with Stafford bowing out early with a shoulder injury. Honestly, Romo’s 282 passing yards probably still would’ve beaten out a healthy Stafford.
“Road teams will win more than home teams in Week 1.”
How dare I underestimate the power of home field advantage!?! I was dead wrong on this one, with only four of the 16 opening week games going in favor of the road teams.
Ok, without further ado, let’s roll on into Week 2…
Rivers goes up against the same Jacksonville secondary that almost allowed 300 passing yards to Denver’s Kyle Orton… you read that right, KYLE ORTON! Rivers may not have Vincent Jackson at his disposal yet, but with Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd, and Legedu Naanee (my new favorite name in the NFL), San Diego should light up the scoreboard this week with Rivers leading the way.
This may be the only time I recommend Jason Campbell as a legitimate starting fantasy QB, in fact it feels so unnatural to do that I think I’m getting hives just typing this. But he’s up against the Rams this week, who could make even Rick Mirer or Ryan Leaf look like a talented NFL quarterback. Campbell goes for at least 250 yards and two TDs, mark it down.
I know, this seems like a homer pick. And it seems like a lay-up pick too… Tom Brady owners are obviously starting him this week. But he’s facing the Jets, a team whose defense isn’t nearly the pile of dog mess that their offense is. So you might be fearful of a Week 2 dud for Brady. Don’t get scared. Even if Randy Moss is locked down all day on “Revis Island,” the Pats offense has so many weapons for Brady to throw to, New York won’t know what hit them. Brady and the Pats will be sending Jet fans home early on Sunday.
Ryan couldn’t get it going last week against a talented Pittsburgh Steeler defense, and this week he takes on a Cardinal defense that’s coming off a very solid performance against the Rams. Granted, Arizona was facing a rookie QB making his NFL debut last week, but I still think the Cardinals will have a high level of success keeping a cap on Atlanta’s offense this week.
Young had a pretty solid opening week against Oakland, throwing for 2 TD passes while completing over 75% of his passes. But this week he faces a very good Pittsburgh team that should prevent Young from building on his above-average Week 1. With no real go-to receivers for Young to rely on, look for VY to struggle against the Steelers on Sunday.
I put Favre in my QB Jokers for Week 1 and until he shows that he can play like a younger quarterback than he really is, he’s going to be in my QB Jokers every week. Favre graced the Vikings with his presence midway through the preseason, and now, surprise-surprise, he’s claiming that chemistry issues are to blame for his weak start to the season. He gets to play back at home this week, but don’t underestimate the Miami defense, whose young pass rushers should get to Favre early and often.
Do I expect Bradshaw to have a 231-yard day like Houston’s Arian Foster put up against Indy last week? I do not. But if the Giants have any hopes of beating the Colts in Indy, it will be Bradshaw’s legs that take them there. Sure, there’s Brandon Jacobs still in the mix, but last week proved that the starting job is Bradshaw’s to lose. 100 all-purpose yards is a virtual lock this week for Bradshaw.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday that he plans use Tomlinson and second-year back Shonn Greene equally this season, which gives LT’s fantasy value a definite boost. In Week 1 against Baltimore, LT got more than twice the carries that Greene got, 11 to 5, and I have a feeling that trend will continue this week against the Pats. Tomlinson should see some action in the passing game too, which helps his PPR value even more.
The fact that Denver added former Patriot Laurence Maroney could be thought of in two ways, in terms of how it will affect Knowshon Moreno… one, his carries could be cut in favor of Maroney, or two, Moreno will have to prove that he’s still got a firm grasp on the starting RB position for the Broncos. My money’s on the latter. Maroney may get carries, but Moreno is no doubt the more talented back of the two. Sure, Seattle held Frank Gore to just 38 yards last week, but that was a fluke in my mind. Look for Moreno to at least double Gore’s total.
Benson had success against the Ravens last season, rushing for 237 yards and two scores in the two match-ups with Baltimore. But the Cincy RB is battling a shoulder injury that has him participating on a limited basis in practice this week, so look for the Ravens defense to target that shoulder on Sunday. My bet is that the Bengals will also be playing from behind late, so the offense will likely abandon the run in favor of the pass, in order to catch up.
You may think with Laurence Maroney sent packing that Fred Taylor’s a decent starter now for your fantasy team. I think not. Taylor, who has been injury prone since arriving in Foxboro, is again saddled with a toe injury that’s also keeping him limited in practice. The Pats will never be known as a “run first” team, so even though Taylor put up a solid day in Week 1, look elsewhere for Week 2.
“What is he thinking? Did he not see Foster’s HUGE game last week?” Oh, I saw it. I saw Foster rack up 231 yards on 33 carries against a soft Indianapolis Colts run defense. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to say that Foster won’t have that same lofty level of success this week in Washington, but I will go out on a limb and tell you that he won’t run more than 20 times on Sunday. The ‘Skins held Dallas to just 103 rushing yards in Week 1, and that was with big man Albert Haynesworth hardly in action. Foster’s a great back long-term, but I see a very modest day ahead for him in Week 2.
With no Ryan Grant in Green Bay’s backfield, the Packers will lean even heavier on their potent air attack, and Greg Jennings is in a prime position to reap the benefits. Jennings is up against an awful Buffalo defense… really, just awful. I like Jennings to put up a huge day in front of his home crowd at Lambeau on Sunday.
Bowe was a complete bust in Week 1, despite Kansas City’s upset win over San Diego. The top KC receiver had just one 13-yard catch through the wind and rain Monday night, leaving his fantasy owners starved for more production out of their early round fantasy WR pick. Bowe will no doubt have big games in his future this season, and Week 2 in Cleveland surely has the potential to be one of those big games.
The rookie led the team in targets last week in their loss to Washington, proving that he and QB Tony Romo have developed a quick chemistry. Chicago doesn’t have the talent in the secondary to keep up with the likes of Miles Austin, Roy E. Williams, Jason Witten, and Bryant, so look for all of Dallas’s go-to guys to have solid production here in Week 2.
Johnson’s name came up very frequently these past few days, as he was at the center of the most controversial call of the weekend, ultimately dropping a would-be game-winner in the end zone against the Bears. As an encore, he has to face a very good Eagles defense without Matthew Stafford, his starting QB. Shaun Hill will have to get creative if he’s planning to find ways to get Megatron the ball… and I just don’t see it happening.
Out of nowhere, Clayton arrived in St. Louis and put up a career game against the Cardinals in Week 1, catching 10 passes on the day for 119 yards. Many of you probably raced to the computer after that game, in an effort to scoop up the potential breakout star, and you should have. But this week, Clayton will likely come back to Earth, having to face Oakland and lining up against their All-Pro cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha.
Who throws to Jackson this week in Detroit is still yet to be determined, but early signs point to Kevin Kolb sitting this one out in favor of backup Michael Vick. Vick has always been a “run first” quarterback, and that won’t change against a Lions team that he should be able to carve up on the ground. That unfortunately will leave DeSean Jackson owners steamed at his lack of production. Philly will likely be up in the game also, so I’m buying Vick and LeSean McCoy, but I’m selling Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and TE Brent Celek for this week.
Davis will aim to score in his fourth consecutive home game on Monday night, when the Niners host the reigning champion Saints. He was Alex Smith’s favorite target last week in their blowout loss to Seattle, and that should continue this week facing a Saints team who will be hard pressed to match the size and strength of the 250-pound Davis.
Lewis probably wasn’t drafted in many fantasy leagues heading into the season, but after a 2-touchdown game in Week 1 against the Broncos, I can bet that many of you snatched him up off the waiver wire these past few days. The problem is, sure he caught two TD passes, but those were the only two passes that QB David Garrard even targeted Lewis on. Facing a San Diego defense with talented linebackers like Shawn Merriman and Shaun Phillips, opposing tight ends face a big challenge, one that Lewis is likely not up for.
Team Most Likely to Score More Than 40 Points – Green Bay Packers (vs. Buffalo)
Fantasy First Rounder Most Likely to Have Their Owners Curse Their Name – Chris Johnson, TEN (vs. Pittsburgh)
Running Back Most Likely to be the Arian Foster of Week 2 – LeSean McCoy, PHI (@ Detroit)
(These are admittedly low-odds predictions that only I have the stones to profess…)
Tags: Ahmad Bradshaw, Arian Foster, Brett Favre, Calvin Johnson, Cedric Benson, Chris Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Dez Bryant, Dwayne Bowe, Fred Taylor, Greg Jennings, Jason Campbell, Kevin Kolb, Knowshon Moreno, LaDainian Tomlinson, Marcedes Lewis, Mark Clayton, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Phillip Rivers, Ryan Grant, Tom Brady, Vernon Davis, Vince Young