Patience, my friends. Patience. It’s the hardest virtue to hold on to after Week 1 when certain star players disappoint out of the gate. Yet it’s critical to keep a sense of perspective so that your fantasy team doesn’t prematurely fall of the rails. No, you should not bench Arian Foster because he finished with less than 100 all-purpose yards or Tom Brady because he threw a pick or failed to provide at least 300 yards. (Guys like Kenny Britt or Greg Jennings? That’s another story.)
But with one slate of games in the books, we do have some fantasy clarity, which leads us to… duh, duh duh, duh… Week 2’s Startability Index! As always, the players listed are a combination of reader requests and my own projection of conundrum causers. Players are assigned scores between 1-10, with 10 being an absolute must start and 1 being a player you don’t start under any circumstances. To specify, I’ve added in plus and minuses signs this year – kind of like the ubiquitous 3.5 star rating on Yelp.
The Geno Smith Era continues in mere hours so let’s get to it!
Jay Cutler vs. Minnesota (6-): With the offensive arsenal Chicago now boasts, Cutler’s fantasy numbers should be a little less meh than 242 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception. Chicago will be looking to jump-start its running game which if successful will hamper Cutler’s fantasy day. But if a failure – and against the Vikings it could be – would probably put Cutler in the 300 yard, 2 TD range.
Joe Flacco vs. Cleveland (6): Flacco had a middle-of-the-road fantasy debut last week, ranking 12th among quarterbacks. His 62 attempts were encouraging; his accuracy was not. The Browns secondary appeared improved last week but Miami was not exactly the strongest test. With Jacoby Jones out 4-6 weeks, Flacco still has work to do with his mostly unknown group of receivers. Look for respectable, but not astonishing numbers this week.
Robert Griffin III at Green Bay (7+): Griffin, who basically played one half against the Eagles Monday night, still finished with 329 yards and two touchdowns. He is already comfortable with most of his receivers, and the offense game plan is nicely layered. If Green Bay fails to adjust defensively, which befell them in San Francisco, look for a huge day out of RGIII.
Joique Bell at Arizona (4+): Bell was a Week 1 surprise with five catches for 67 yards and two vulture touchdowns. This is no doubt Reggie Bush’s year to shine but Bell is being incorporated as a heavy complement earlier than we thought. But as a non-starter in a non-RBBC situation, I still can’t recommend him for your starting lineup. But boy, will he make a pretty bye week fill-in.
Maurice Jones-Drew at Oakland (5+): With 45 yards on 15 carries in a lopsided loss, MJD was MIA last week. The Raiders yielded 89 yards to the Colts’ running back corps in Week 1 ad MJD will have an opportunity to succeed. This game should be a much better indicator of his value this season.
Eddie Lacy vs. Washington (7): The good news is that Washington is currently the league’s worst run defense. The bad news is that Lacy is no LeSean McCoy, at least not yet. However, Lacy with 72 all purpose yards and a score was pretty productive last week against arguably the league’s best run-stoppers. Sunday could be a big breakout day for Lacy.
DeAngelo Williams at Buffalo (6+): If there is one constant about Carolina it’s that they always lose close games. Last week’s example came courtesy of an ill-timed Williams fumble. But you don’t care about storyline; you care about stats and Williams’ were largely impressive. 86 yards with a 5.1 yard per carry average, Despite the lost fumble, Williams appears like a player primed to prove himself as the team’s no. 1 back with no company.
David Wilson vs. Denver (5+): The Giants are looking for Wilson to build back confidence in the form of not fumbling. While Wilson may succeed in that department, Denver’s up front defense mostly shut down Ray Rice last week. Wilson has so much upside but this is a really tough matchup. And Brandon Jacobs may come in to vulture possible touchdowns, although the frequency of his usage is very much to be determined.
Dwayne Bowe vs. Dallas (5+): Bowe’s 30 yards on 4 receptions certainly won’t lead you to the Shiva trophy. However, in a game that was over in the first quarter, Bowe was still targeted six times. Expect that number to increase against a tougher defense. Bear in mind, with Alex Smith under center, Bowe’s average yards per catch are likely to be lower than previous years.
Julian Edelman vs. New York Jets (7): With Danny Amendola on the shelf and very limited reliable options for Tom Brady, Edelman is a great play this week. Even in victory, the Jets allowed Vincent Jackson to go for 154 receiving yards last week. Don’t get too attached to Edelman, though. There’s a reason he has been relegated to special teams for most of his career. He is simply the best of a banged-up, rookie-filled bunch.
Michael Floyd vs. Detroit (4): Mind-blowing 44-yard catch notwithstanding, Floyd was the clear number three option within the Cards receiving corps. Floyd will have great weeks and non-existent weeks. Wait for some consistency if you can.
James Jones vs. Washington (4): Jones disappointed with only two targets and zero catches in Week 1. Encouraging for Jones owners was Washington’s severe trouble adjusting to Philadelphia’s trippy (don’t want to use my “high-octane” quota in two weeks) offense. The bad news is that Jordy Nelson was completely healthy in Week 1 and looks to be the focal point of this offense. Jones is at best the no. 3 or 4 on the checkdown list at this point.
Emmanuel Sanders at Cincinnati: (6-): I’m still in disbelief over Pittsburgh’s offense meltdown last week. Sanders was one of the only bright spots from a fantasy perspective. Although he only garnered 57 receiving yards, he saw 12 targets (7 catches). Look for that trend to continue Monday Night, with hopefully a better transformation of those targets into catches yardage.
Roddy White vs. St. Louis (5): White disappointed with 2 catches for 19 yards in Week 1. Despite a continuous high ankle sprain injury, he is supposed to play Sunday. But beware: he could always be a late scratch if struggling in pregame warm-ups. And assuming he does play, you wonder if his action may be limited.
Jordan Cameron at Baltimore (7): Cameron had a career day last week with nine catches, 108 yards and one touchdown. He remains a great play against a Ravens defense that escorted Denver tight end Julius Thomas to household name status.
Fred Davis at Green Bay (6): Ignore Davis’s 2 catches for 22-yard season premiere. After seeing how Vernon Davis shredded the Packers defense last week, this Davis should get a lot of opportunities Sunday.
Julius Thomas at New York Giants (8+): Thomas is the real deal and will continue to see ample targets. Not only did Thomas do a great job creating space, a couple of his catches saved underthrow balls by Peyton Manning. That’s exactly how you earn more looks.
Defensive Matchups to Consider
Oakland vs. Jacksonville: Chad Henne, just like my wiener dog, is an upgrade over Blaine Gabbert but he may need a week to gel with his receivers
New England vs. New York Jets: You saw Geno Smith play last week, right?