Welcome to week two!
As always, there’s an enormous amount of information out there this morning. We’re not going to waste your time by repeating the news and notes about who’s in or out this week, since that’s really not what you visit us for. We’re also not going to do another article on starts or sits this week – we already have the personalized lineup advice for you as part of the premium content package, but also have our new Calling Our Shots post on the free side to talk about game predictions and players we feel good about as well. Again, there are 100 places you can go for game day reports, so we’re going something different on Sundays for our premium content subscribers.
The Sunday Morning Huddle goes through each game and states what we’re looking to see from a dynasty perspective. We pick one player from each team who have our eye on and describe why their weekend performance is a key one for them in relation to their dynasty value.
Tampa Bay at New York Giants
For the Bucs, our focus is squarely on Josh Freeman. His yardage totals weren’t great last week, but he led his team to a win and didn’t turn the ball over. He also completed 67% of his passes, so the 138 yards looks worse than it really was. Tampa is certainly going to be a much more run oriented team with Doug Martin this year and Freeman isn’t going to be asked to win too many games with his arm. However, if there was a game where he would regress to last year’s disappointing form, it’s this one. The Giants are hungry for a win and that defensive line will be all over Freeman.
As for New York, this is a big week for rookie running back David Wilson. His debut was borderline tragic as he fumbled early and was subsequently benched for the rest of the game. To make things even worse, he was seen crying on the sidelines. While his passion for the game is admirable, he needs to stay tough and have more of a short term memory or he’ll simply never solve his fumbling problems. If he doesn’t play much this week, Ahmad Bradshaw’s short term dynasty value is going to start to climb.
Oakland at Miami
The Raiders receiving corps has been in flux ever since camp started over a month ago. Denarius Moore should return this week and it’s going to be very interesting to see just how many targets he gets. He was hyped up quite a bit over the Summer, but it’s been Rod Streater who has stolen the show so far. Can Moore start living up to his lofty expectations?
For the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill simply has to play better to give this team a chance to win. He wasn’t quite as bad as his line from last week indicated (20-for-36 for 219 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions), but he certainly wasn’t great, either. Miami hasn’t done much to set him up for success with the lack of weapons he has, so Tannehill needs to be a quick study or it’s fair to start wondering if his confidence is going to be an issue moving forward.
Houston at Jacksonville
Lestar Jean had just one catch for nine yards for the Texans last week, but lost in the box score was a touchdown reception he made that was called back. Jean is still developing, but we really need to start seeing that translate to the field to justify having him on dynasty league rosters.
The Jaguars will enter the game with a quarterback in Blaine Gabbert who is actually looking fairly competent, which is a huge upgrade from his rookie season when he was absolutely dreadful. After a good preseason and solid opener, another good performance from Gabbert would really bring a lot of confidence to his owners and add some hope he could develop into a decent fantasy option in dynasty leagues down the road.
Cleveland at Cincinnati
For the Browns, Brandon Weeden was just brutal last week as he finished the game going 12-for-35 for 118 yards with four interceptions. The Browns aren’t ready to pull the plug on him any time soon, but another horrible performance like that and they’re going to have to re-consider. Weeden has yet to throw a touchdown pass in any game, including the preseason. If he can’t improve here shortly, it’s going to be bad news for the short-term dynasty values of Trent Richardson, Greg Little, Josh Gordon and anyone else who plays for the Browns.
The Bengals were routed by the Ravens last week to the tune of a 44-13 final score. To make that even worse, the Ravens didn’t even play many of their starters in the fourth quarter. The only silver lining in the game for Cincinnati was the play of Andrew Hawkins, who led the team with eight catches and 86 yards. While there’s no chance he can replace AJ Green as the leading receiver on this team, another solid performance would really put him on the map, especially in PPR leagues.
Kansas City at Buffalo
The player we’re watching on the Chiefs is none other than Dexter McCluster. After being a fantasy afterthought for most of his career, McCluster is re-emerging as a pass catching option for the Chiefs. His solid preseason carried over into week one as he led the team in catches and yards with six and 82, respectively. If he continues to be the third down passing option for Kansas City, it’s fair to start questioning just how high Jamaal Charles should be ranked going forward.
It’s too easy to put Ryan Fitzpatrick and his fizzling game in the crosshairs, but this game is all about CJ Spiller anyway. With Fred Jackson gone for anywhere between three and eight weeks, this is Spiller’s time to permanently stake his claim as the most explosive weapon for the Bills. If he performs as well as he did last year after Jackson’s last injury, Buffalo won’t have a choice other keeping him in and using Jackson as a change of pace back, not the other way around.
Baltimore at Philadelphia
Is it really time to go whacko for Flacco? For the past few seasons, Joe Flacco has been the eptiome of a QB2 – he’s a player who will have a great game here and there, but mix in a clunker every so often, too. Something seems different this year, though. Perhaps the Bengals were just overrated or the Ravens were just amped up for the beating they put on Cincinnati last week. However, something just looks different with Flacco this year – let’s see if it carries over to week two.
For the Eagles, it’s time for Michael Vick to look like, well, Michael Vick again. He posted 317 passing yards, 32 rushing yards and added two passing touchdowns last week, but also threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball twice. Vick simply takes too many hits to make it through a season and right now, he really isn’t playing that well anyway. It’s been a long time since we saw a vintage Vick performance. Asking him to do it against the Ravens is a tall task, but he won’t get away with four interceptions this week, that’s a near certainty.
New Orleans at Carolina
The Saints surprisingly took one in the chin last week against the Redskins. They’ll look to rebound this week and undoubtedly hope to bring a little more balance to their offensive attack. After all, they threw the ball on 52 plays last week and rushed it on only ten. The player to watch for us this week is Mark Ingram. If his role doesn’t increase here shortly, his dynasty value is going to take a huge tumble, even for those who have stood by him over the off-season.
The vaunted rushing attack of the Panthers yielded a grand total of ten yards against Tampa Bay last week, led by the five rushing yards of Kealoha Pilares. Great, now Carolina has ANOTHER running back option! Sure, that’s a little ridiculous, but DeAngelo Williams was absolutely stonewalled by the Bucs to the tune of -1 yards on six carries. Jonathan Stewart is expected to be back, but Williams is the player to watch here. If he doesn’t get himself on track, this backfield may end up being completely hands-off, even for flex play consideration.
Arizona at New England
This is undoubtedly Kevin Kolb’s last stand and you have to feel sorry for him that it’s going to come on the road against the Patriots. Regardless, the Cardinals have basically pulled the plug on him and he has to show something here this week if there’s going to be any chance of resurrecting his dynasty value. If he fails miserably, it’s time to pull the plug yourselves, once and for all.
For the Patriots, all eyes are squarely on Stevan Ridley. After this backfield looked like a muddled mess, the injury to Shane Vereen has opened the door for Ridley to be New England’s first true workhorse since the days of Corey Dillon. He delivered last week with 125 yards and a touchdown on just 21 carries. He may just be able to take a total stranglehold on this job and make it his own with another performance like that. If that becomes the case, he’s a player who could easily reach double digit touchdowns this season and be a serious key in the quest for a dynasty league championship for many owners out there.
Minnesota at Indianapolis
It’s fair to wonder if Adrian Peterson is even human at this point. He had 84 yards on 17 carries in his first game back from ACL surgery in the off-season and looked like, well, Adrian Peterson in the process. With a Colts defense that can be run on up next, Peterson may be back in line to reclaim his status as one of fantasy’s truly elite players. It still bears mentioning again that he tore his ACL and missed one game. ONE.
For the Colts, it’s time to really monitor Reggie Wayne. With few other reliable options, Andrew Luck targeted Wayne a ridiculous 15 times last week to lead the league. If Wayne continues to be force-fed these types of target numbers, he may end up being the single biggest trade target in dynasty leagues for contending teams.
Washington at St. Louis
Well, Robert Griffin III sure looked great last week. With that opening day performance, it’s safe to say Rex Grossman won’t really be warming up too hard before the coin flip each week. The player we’re monitoring the most is Alfred Morris. Nobody was really sure who the Redskins would lean on in week one, but Morris was the unquestioned bell cow last week with 28 of the 32 carries distributed to running backs. He scored two touchdowns and had 96 yards rushing on the day to stake his claim as the starter. However, Morris didn’t really look incredibly impressive, despite the solid fantasy line. Today’s game will be big for him as another so-so performance in terms of his yards per carry could re-open the door for Evan Royster or Roy Helu to start carving out a bigger role again.
For the Rams, Steven Jackson is going to be in the spotlight for us. He had 84 total yards last week, but his yards per carry average was a putrid 2.5 yards. The Redskins only gave up 32 rushing yards last week (though they were only run on ten times), so it’s going to be interesting to see if the Redskins rush defense is really that good or if Jackson may be giving the first clear indications that he’s lost a step.
Dallas at Seattle
You could make a case for several Cowboys on this list, but none of them would hold a candle to Kevin Ogletree. There may be no other player in dynasty leagues who is garnering more interest this week than Ogletree. Can he build on his 114 yard, eight catch, two touchdown performance in the opener or will he just fade into waiver wire oblivion? There are thousands of dynasty owners out there who wish they knew the answer to that question – we’ll get our first indication today.
For Seattle, it’s time for Russell Wilson to stake a permanent claim to the starting quarterback job. Wilson was fine last week, but not nearly the dynamic playmaker we saw in the pre-season. Of course, if Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice or Braylon Edwards could catch a ball in the end zone, everyone would be pegging Wilson as “the next.” He’ll get his first home start this week and it’s going to be very interesting to see if the Seahawks take the training wheels off and allow him to open up the offense a little more.
New York Jets at Pittsburgh
The suddenly explosive Jets travel to Pittsburgh where they’re sure to see the points come at more of a premium. The player to watch here other than Mark Sanchez has to be Stephen Hill. After being invisible for most of the preseason, Hill exploded on to the scene on opening day with five catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Another solid performance would vault him up the dynasty wide receiver rankings.
The Steelers took a tough loss to Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Sunday Night Football last week and you have to expect they’ll be more than ready to play this week. The player we’re most curious about is Jonathan Dwyer. His role is growing each and every week and he’s making a case to be a permanent fixture on this offense.
Tennessee at San Diego
If there’s a player who merits more attention in the land of dynasty leagues than Kevin Ogletree this week, it’s Chris Johnson of the Titans. He looks tentative and uninspired when running the football and it’s a serious concern right now. He hit rock bottom last week with four yards on 11 carries. Sure, you could say nobody may be able to run on New England this year, but the vintage Johnson could have had 100 yards rushing on the 1985 Chicago Bears defense just a couple of years ago. This saga is far from complete, but this is an area of serious worry, nonetheless.
It looks a little iffy right now on Ryan Mathews’ availability, so we’re keeping him off the list for now. Instead, let’s go with Robert Meachem, who had just two catches for 49 yards last week. If the Chargers are really going to be contenders this year, they’re going to need more from their receiving corps and it starts with Meachem. It has long been rumored that Philip Rivers and Meachem have been having a hard time getting on the same page and it looked like that was true on Monday. What will today bring?
Detroit at San Francisco
Matt Stafford has an NFL record-tying four straight games with at least 355 passing yards, dating back to last season. If he can keep that streak alive against this defense on the road, the sky is truly the limit for his fantasy potential. He could use a strong performance after last week featured a lot of passing yards, but also produced just one touchdown pass (in the final seconds, no less) and three interceptions.
Of all the performances that flew under the radar last week, Michael Crabtree’s seven catches for 76 yards has to be the biggest of the group. Crabtree finds himself on a very deep depth chart, but he’s also establishing himself as the 49ers top pass target – that’s big news for owners of Crabtree if he can keep it up this week.
Denver at Atlanta
It’s just too easy to say Peyton Manning here. Instead, we’re going to go with Eric Decker. Right now, it’s very tough to tell who Manning’s top target will be this season (three players tied for the team lead with five receptions last week), but someone is going to emerge at some point. Decker seems to be the most likely, so let’s see what happens on Monday night in a game that looks like a shootout on paper.
We know what Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White will likely do. However, this game is big for Michael Turner. He simply hasn’t looked good for some time and another awful performance is going to make way for Jacquizz Rodgers to become a huge part of the offense and permanently relegate Turner to the scrap heap.
Good luck this week! Follow me on twitter – @DLF_KenK