As much as I thought Atlanta had all the weapons and advantage over Tampa Bay, I still at least thought the Bucs had a chance… until halfway through the first quarter. If you played Julio Jones or Matt Ryan in your fantasy league then you’re probably already off to a great start, but don’t sit on your laurels, and if you are playing against those two and looking at the numbers, don’t start panicking. Just stick to your game plan, and that’s to field the best lineup you can.
In one of my two favorite fantasy leagues I’m sitting at 0-2, with one loss being a blowout (courtesy of Matt Ryan’s week 1 explosion), and the other by less than 20 points. In the other league I’m 2-0 by virtue of a balanced attack in both games. Those are the breaks in fantasy; you could have the best lineup but they just don’t produce. This is where I help you beat the odds.
It’s time for Setting Your Lineup…
Brian Hoyer, CLE. Now, I’m not expecting a Drew Brees type of performance from Hoyer, but only one team in your league has Brees, and it’s probably not you if you’re looking at this article for a quarterback. And Hoyer should do well against that Baltimore defense that does not play as well on the road as they do at home. Hoyer isn’t afraid to challenge them, which will lead to good yardage and a couple of touchdown passes on the day.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA. Many people will shy away from Tannehill because of the game in Buffalo last weekend, but this KC defense is not that Buffalo defense, and they don’t play as well against the pass. Joique Bell and Reggie Bush are a bit banged up but they will help Tannehill in the short passing game, and you know they can make things happen after the catch. Plus, Mike Wallace is due for a monster game. This will be that game.
Nick Foles, PHI. I like Foles this week. A lot. Over the course of the first two weeks he has looked unsure at times, but that’s to be expected with some new players around him, but he has shined against the Redskins and nothing should change here. Challenging this unit down the field is key, and Foles can do that better than most. He will finally get over 20 fantasy points in this one, and I think he will even top 25 in a dynamic effort.
Andy Dalton, CIN. Dalton didn’t have to be amazing against Atlanta last week, but he quietly got the job done. In this matchup against Tennessee he will perform even better. He should have AJ Green available to him, but even without Green, he has enough players who can contribute in the passing game, most notably his tight end, Gresham, and his running back, Bernard. Dalton is a top-12 play at quarterback this week.
AVOID: Kirk Cousins, WAS. You no doubt probably raced to the waiver wire late Sunday night to acquire Cousins, and it was a good idea to grab him, but it’s not smart to start him this week against that Philadelphia defense. Because of DeSean Jackson returning to town, the Eagles are determined to prove they were right to let him go, so their defense will be inspired. Watch out for Cousins trying to do too much and turning the ball over.
Darren Sproles, PHI. Why not play the #1 fantasy running back through 2 weeks of this season? Sproles plays a major role in that Philadelphia offense, and Washington is not great against running backs (see: Foster, Arian), so get Sproles active and he will pay dividends for you this weekend.
Bernard Pierce, BAL*. He proved again last week against Pittsburgh that he is right now the #1 running back in that Ravens’ backfield. Flacco is never going to wow anyone with incredible play action, but he can get the ball to his running backs, and Pierce is in line for a big workload against that Browns’ defense. *This applies to Forsett if Pierce is out this week.
Stevan Ridley, NE. You can run the ball against Oakland. Hell, you can do pretty much anything you want against Oakland, but definitely running the ball. I anticipate New England getting a big lead in this one, and Ridley has proven he’s the back to trust when protecting the lead and running out clock.
Montee Ball, DEN. All the experts are saying don’t play Ball, but I think there will be a completely different Denver game plan than during the Super Bowl, and I think Ball plays a huge role in the screen game. They need to be able to set up the long passes, and I think Ball also provides a change of pace. I like him to have a big game despite the conditions and the opponent, even in Seattle.
AVOID: Terrance West, CLE. The Baltimore defense has played a bit better against the run of late, but that’s not why I think you should avoid West. Avoid him because Cleveland will have to pass in this one to keep pace with the Ravens, and West is still not reliable enough as a rookie to trust in those situations.
James Jones, OAK. Who else do they have, honestly, against New England? I’m not all in on Derek Carr, but I think he’s serviceable enough to get the ball to Jones on some downfield patterns during the course of this one. They will score some points in garbage time, and Jones is the only player from Oakland you can even remotely trust in fantasy this week.
Mohamed Sanu, CIN. Green says he’s okay to go this week, but I think you should take that with a grain of salt. He has been limited in practice, and I don’t think he plays his full complement of snaps this week. Instead, I think we see a lot of Sanu, and he’s proven that he can catch Andy Dalton’s eye last week. Even with Green on the field I think Sanu will shine.
Wes Welker, DEN. Ordinarily I would say bench anyone playing against the Seahawks defense in Seattle, but this is Denver and despite the Super Bowl I think they have a shot here. But I think of all the weapons at Manning’s disposal Welker is going to be the most overlooked/open. He was in the Super Bowl and I don’t think that changes here. He’s also fresh because of his time off, and I think he makes an immediate impact and scores at least one touchdown.
Mike Wallace, MIA. See: Tannehill, Ryan. No, seriously. Against that Kansas City defense that will give up the big play, Mr. Big Play Himself, Wallace, will get it going. He’s had two solid games so far against relatively good pass defenses, so you can trust him in this situation. Besides, he has excellent chemistry with Tannehill. Watch out Julio. Wallace is coming for that #1 spot.
AVOID: Michael Crabtree, SF. Normally I like Crabtree, but I think San Francisco leans on the running game in this one. The Giants running backs got solid yardage against Arizona, and I think the 49ers take a play from their book after a disappointing running effort against the Bears last week. Crabtree will get some yardage but will not score.
Niles Paul, WAS. We all know that Philadelphia didn’t play against tight ends well last season, but does that translate here and now? They haven’t been too bad against them this year so far, but I think Cousins will need Paul as a security blanket, and he uses him a lot against the Eagles. This is an especially good play in a PPR league because Paul won’t eat up yardage but he will get the catches.
Zach Ertz. That being said, the reverse is also true, at least to an extent. Foles has a very good rapport with Ertz and utilizes him in the end zone a lot. That will be important against Washington who plays poor defense in the red zone in particular. I like Foles to get Ertz the ball when it counts.
Travis Kelce, KC. Gronkowski scored a touchdown against Miami in week 1, and I think Kelce fits the same mold, even if he’s not nearly as dynamic as Gronk. What I like about Kelce is that he gets open, and he has a good reach. Smith will get him the ball in goal line situations. He should score this week.
Larry Donnell, NYG. Donnell showed flashes of speed and power last week against Arizona, and with Eli playing marginally better and Victor Cruz having the drops, Donnell makes for an interesting fantasy play against an untried Houston defense.
AVOID: Jason Witten, DAL. As Tony Romo goes, so does Witten, and Romo has not been impressive so far this season. DeMarco Murray has, and that’s the direction this game should go as well. Witten will block well, but I don’t see him getting involved in the offense, which should be run-oriented all game.
Oh, and as for kickers, stay away from Brandon McManus @ Seattle, and focus instead on Cody Parkey vs. Washington or Ryan Succop @ Cincinnati.
Good luck setting your lineups.
The Fantasy Ace