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I like to think that our readers have a certain degree of fantasy acuity before they arrive, so my hope is that this start and sit list – which avoids the obvious – will be useful for all of you.
I’ve made my opinions on start/sit implicitly known via my weekly rankings, so, you won’t see a lot of QBs inside my top 6, etc. listed here. The idea of this post is to give you some deep names that will yield start worthy value and some entrenched starters that should be riding the virtual pine.
Week Two QB Starts
Cam Newton vs. Buffalo - After a disappointing preseason the Carolina Panthers mustered just seven points in their opener at home last week. It is hard to get behind Mike Shula’s offense and while we’re just one week in, those who paid a high price for Cam Newton on draft day are starting to sweat it a bit. This week their fears will be erased. While the stat line was ugly, Newton was efficient against the tough Seahawks pass D last week. He looked fairly comfortable running the offense and were it not for the opponent we’d have seen a more fantasy relevant line (16/23-125-TD). Newton suffered just one sack against a good unit up front and added 3.8 points rushing the ball. This week, the matchup changes significantly. Newton and the Panthers go from facing a Seattle defense that ranked as the most difficult fantasy matchup for opposing QBs in 2012 to a Buffalo defense that gave up the 7th most points to the position. In week one the Bills gave up 288 yards passing and two scores to a Tom Brady led offense that looked awful against the Jets on Monday night. Half of their secondary, which was viewed as a weakness to begin with, is on the shelf. Start Newton confidently and enjoy what should be a breakout week.
Michael Vick vs. San Diego – Michael Vick headlined this space last week and his performance against Washington should have been enough to cement him as a must start commodity moving forward, provided he’s healthy. The Eagles offense dazzled us on Monday night en route to the 5th best output of the week from the position. In his home debut, expect Vick to continue to march his Eagles efficiently (read: as fast as the clock will let him) down the field and produce fantasy points for his owners. There is nothing intimidating about the Chargers defense and it stands to reason that the Eagles will see a short field or two, much like last week, against Philip Rivers and the Chargers.
Week Two QB Sits
Russell Wilson vs. San Francisco – The Seahawks surprised most observers by asking Russell Wilson to put the ball in the air 33 times against the Panthers in Week 1 and Wilson answered the call to the tune of 320 yards and a 75.8% completion percentage. This week, though, he sees a 49ers team that allowed an average of just 214.6 passing yards to opponents in 2012. The last time Wilson saw these ‘9ers he threw four touchdowns but a similar results should not be expected. The game plan should tilt toward Marshawn Lynch and the ground game as the Seahawks look to maintain ball control against San Francisco. Wilson and co. averaged a full 8 fewer pass attempts in home games compared to road games last year.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cincinnati – It won’t take a lot of convincing to get owners to sit Roethlisberger down after a stinker against Tennessee to open the season. It won’t look much better in Week 2. The Bengals gave Matt Forte little room to run, holding the Bears RB to 2.6 YPC and Isaac Redman (two fumbles, fewer yards than fingers in Week 1) is not even in the same stadium in terms of talent with Forte. In two matchups last year Big Ben had just 2 TDs and 3 interceptions. Expect a low scoring game.
Week Two RB Starts
DeAngelo Williams vs. Buffalo – We defended Newton’s stat line based on the fact that he played Seattle last week and we’re commending Williams’ for the same reason. Seattle wasn’t dominant against the run in 2012 (4.5 YPC) but they allowed an average of just over 100 yards per game on the ground. Last weekend Williams cracked 100 total yards on 20 touches and Mike Tolbert didn’t affect his workload whatsoever. The Bills gave up one of very few 100 yard rushers in Week 1 (Shane Vereen). Our Neil Parker has already recommended Williams as a one week/Draft Street play.
Eddie Lacy vs. Washington – I recognize that the way the Eagles attacked the Redskins last week is considerably different than Green Bay’s approach but the Washington defense didn’t look like it could stop much on the ground. His debut was underwhelming last week but the 49ers have a defense that can hold down any back. The load gets lighter against Washington for the run game and the offense as a whole. Knowing this, a short plunge for 6 could be in the forecast for the rookie back. Even with his fumble, Pro Football Focus ranked Eddie Lacy as the 12th best all around back last week.
Bryce Brown vs. San Diego – This isn’t a ‘get him in your lineups, now’ call but anyone looking for help at the flex position in deep leagues this week could look to ball. I have him ranked as a top 30 back based on the assumption that he’ll see more than his nine touches last week against Washington. He was productive when he had the ball and even LeSean McCoy acknowledged that he won’t hold up with 30+ touches a week. Expect Brown to get at least 12-15 chances with the ball in an offense that looks like it will benefit all skill position players.
Week Two RB Sits
Daryl Richardson vs. Falcons – I mentioned last week that Richardson may see his season high in touches in Week 1. He had his hands on the ball 25 times but didn’t do much as a runner en route to 96 total yards. It was a serviceable day for fantasy owners but this week on the road in Atlanta with Isaiah Pead returning from suspension Richardson could see a cut to his workload, particularly if he struggles early. Of note: Richardson allowed 2 hurries of QB Sam Bradford and ranked very low on pass block efficiency.
Mark Ingram vs. Tampa Bay – The preseason talk was that New Orleans would look to involve Mark Ingram in their run game more and more this year. It wasn’t the case in Week 1, in a game where Atlanta gave up the 5th most points to opposing RBs (using PPR numbers, which are slanted a bit when a team faces the Saints) Ingram mustered just 11 yards on 9 carries. He’s a touchdown dependent back who could fall out of favor quickly in New Orleans. Stay away, for now.
Week Two WR Starts
DeSean Jackson vs. San Diego – Jackson looked to be a great fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. Visions of his casual toe tap touchdown from Monday night were dancing through my head when he landed at 13 in my WR ranks. The Chargers secondary gave up 146 yards to Matt Schaub‘s primary target in Week 1 and while Jackson is a different style of player his nine targets (36% of Michael Vick’s pass attempts) suggest he’ll have plenty of chances to put up numbers against San Diego.
Michael Floyd vs. Detroit – Last week Jerome Simpson saw a great deal of success against the Lions secondary while the team did a nice job shutting down number one target Greg Jennings. Much of that success came against Detroit CB Darius Slay, Detroit’s rookie CB. Slay was benched late in this contest, but should get back out there for the team this week. He gave up the most yards per coverage snap last week, a measure of how many yards a player yields while on the field working primarily in coverage. In short: he was easy to pick on last week and if Christian Ponder found success, so should Carson Palmer targeting Floyd.
Harry Douglas vs. St. Louis – Douglas had a number of nice receptions while leading Atlanta in yards receiving in Week 1. This week, while Roddy White is aiming to be back on the field, he should see a similar number of opportunities given the fact that White remains injured and Julio Jones was limited in practice this week. Matt Ryan had a 109.7 Quarterback Rating while throwing to Douglas last week,
Week Two WR Sits
Roddy White vs. St. Louis – We’ve addressed it above, but, you couldn’t pay me to start White this week. Good for him working hard to get out there for his team, but, if he does make it onto the field don’t expect a vintage performance. You saw how he was employed in Week 1 and can expect things to look similar for the forseeable future, while he heals.
Greg Jennings vs. Chicago – Jenning was targeted 7 times by Christian Ponder in Week 1 but was able to secure just three passes for 33 yards. While Chicago gave up a monster day to AJ Green, he and Jennings are at considerably different places in terms of talent and career arc; not to mention the disparity in abilities of the guys throwing them the ball. Chicago was the 10th stingiest defense to opposing WRs last year. In his lone 2012 meeting against the Bears Greg Jennings posted just 50 yards receiving and his quarterback was a little better last year.
Week Two TE Starts
Jared Cook vs. Atlanta – the manner in which St. Louis employed Jared Cook was one of the more revealing items in the season’s opening week. He was on the field for 65 of the Rams’ 71 offensive snaps last week posting 141 yards on 7 receptions (10 targets). He’d have posted a 3rd TD were it not for a great defensive effort that caused Cook to cough up a fumble, as well. The Falcons did a reasonably good job containing Jimmy Graham in Week 1 but Cook should see plenty of looks again this week.
Julius Thomas vs. New York Giants – we don’t need to go too deep on Thomas other than to say: don’t expect Week 1 to be an abberation. Thomas played in every offensive snap for the Broncos and while the targets went elsewhere late in the game, he’ll factor in the gameplan heavily this each week. Jason Witten put up 70 yards and two scores on the Giants in Week 1, while New York focused on taking away Tony Romo‘s receiving threats. If they attempt to do the same with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker (they’ll have to, right?) then Thomas will take advantage.
Week Two TE Sits
Antonio Gates vs. Philadelphia – Antonio Gates saw a few early looks from Philip Rivers in Week 1 but was quickly phased out of the game plan finishing with just three targets. One week doesn’t reveal tendencies, but, it’s safe to assume that the position won’t be featured in the same way as it was under Norv Turner. Though, we saw that much coming.
Brandon Pettigrew vs. Arizona – Brandon Pettigrew had a rough opener for the Lions, catching two balls at an average of three yards apiece. He also put the ball on the ground. We won’t condemn him off that one performance but we should note that he had four targets or fewer just three times last year and the small number in the opener could be indicative of the fact that some of the passes slated for Pettigrew in 2012 could be directed to Reggie Bush in 2013.