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Game Previews: Week 2

Week 2
Sunday - 1:00 PM EST Sunday, 4:00 PM EST
NO at GB Sunday - 8:30 PM EST


OAK at BAL Monday - 9:00 PM EST

Buffalo at Miami 1:00 p.m.
Buffalo heads south for another divisional road game in Miami. Buffalo let one get away last week, coming out flat in the second half after dominating the Patriots in the first two quarters. Losman appears better than last season, but that isn’t saying much. The Fins allowed 143 yards rushing in Week 1 and the Bills will try to find similar success on the ground first. But when they take to the air they will pick on Miami cornerback Andre Goodman if Travis Daniels remains sidelined with an ankle injury. Goodman committed multiple pass interference penalties and was a defensive liability against the Steelers last week.

Fantasy Focus

Buffalo: The Bills ran the ball on roughly half of their offensive plays. If they keep that up they will continue to lose. The Bill’s shouldn’t expect Losman to carry the load on the road against a divisional rival. If they do, this will hurt all of Buffalo players’ fantasy numbers. If the Bills continue a balanced offensive attack against the Dolphins, I would downgrade your fantasy expectations for Bills players until this trend changes.

Start: McGahee
Consider: Defense, Lindell, and Evans
Sit: Price, Reed, Thomas and Royal

Miami: Daunte Culpepper looked decent early but it turned ugly soon after. Although Culpepper was inaccurate and missed Chambers for touchdown passes it is noteworthy that Miami threw three times to Chambers inside the ten-yard line. Also, when trying to mount a comeback, Daunte clearly was looking Chamber’s way. This won’t matter if Culpepper can’t get him the ball, but it’s nice to know Chambers is getting the targets you expect from an elite fantasy WR, especially in the red zone.

Start: Chambers, Brown and Defense
Consider: McMichael and Mare
Sit: Culpepper, Booker and Welker

Score: Miami 27 Buffalo 17

Carolina at Minnesota 1:00 p.m.
Coming off a huge opening night victory on Monday Night Football, the Vikings host the Panthers in Week 2. Carolina let the Falcons run all over their defense, which is exactly what the Vikings will try to do behind the left side of their offensive line with Chester Taylor. The Panthers offense must find a way to move the ball for this team to be successful, however it won’t be easy against the Vikings defense. John Fox is a great coach and should make the necessary adjustments to give his team a chance to win.

Fantasy Focus

Carolina: I’m not sure how much credit should be given to the Falcons defense, but the Carolina running game was flat-out ineffective last week. DeShaun Foster should have better numbers this week, but the absence of Steve Smith allows defenses to play the run more effectively. Temper expectations for Panthers’ players until Smith is healthy enough to open up the field and the offense. Brad Johnson’s strength is avoiding mistakes that lead to turnovers so the Panthers defense isn’t as good of a play this week either.

Start: Kasay
Consider: Foster, Delhomme Johnson, Smith and Defense
Sit: Williams

Minnesota: Birk, Hutchingson, McKinnie and Richardson are names I’d like to hear blocking for my fantasy running back. Taylor looked pretty good on Monday and should make a fine #2 RB for your fantasy squad this week. WR Troy Williamson was the primary receiver in the Vikings’ offense and for leagues that also score points for return yards, he makes a fine #3 WR.

Start: Longwell and Taylor
Consider: Williamson
Sit: Defense, Johnson, Taylor and Wiggins

Score: Minnesota 14 Carolina 13

Cleveland at Cincinnati 1:00 p.m.
Welcome to “The Jungle” Cleveland fans. The Bengals are an exciting team to watch and are coming off a big win in Kansas City; meanwhile the Brownies couldn’t find a way to beat the Saints in their opener. This appears to be a huge mismatch on paper but the in-state rivalry is always a source of motivation when these two teams face-off.

Fantasy Focus

Cleveland: Tony Gonzalez found success against the Cincinnati safeties and linebackers and Winslow, Jr. should build on last week’s strong performance with another one in Week 2. The Bengals’ offense was disappointed after scoring only 23 points in KC last week. Expect Frye to throw the ball plenty in an attempt to keep up with Carson Palmer and company. RB Jerome Harrison rocked the boat a bit after Week 1 wanting more carries. If Droughns doesn’t play well over the next few weeks he might begin losing some opportunities for the ball.

Start: Winslow, Jr.
Consider: Edwards and Northcutt
Sit: Defense, Frye, Droughns, Dawson, Jurevicius and Harrison

Cincinnati: Palmer and the passing game were not the primary focus of Cincinnati’s offensive game plan last week, but were still very productive with Palmer completing 13 of 19 passes. They will open it up more now that Palmer has a game under his belt. If WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh is healthy for Week 2 get him in the lineup. Cleveland is hurting at the CB position so start your Bengals receivers and enjoy.

Start: Defense, Palmer, Graham, R. Johnson, C. Johnson, and Houshmandzadeh (if healthy)
Consider: T. Perry
Sit: none

Score: Cincinnati 35 Cleveland 10

Detroit at Chicago 1:00 p.m.
This one might get muddy as rain is in the forecast for this NFC North showdown with the Lions and Bears. Da Bears almost knocked Favre into retirement last week with a mental blow to the head, leaving the Packer legend with doubts about his team and his decision to come back. Meanwhile, Detroit gave Seattle all they could handle, holding the Seahawks to 9 points and losing on a game-ending field goal. Lion’s WR Roy Williams has guaranteed a Detroit victory earlier this week…I like the boldness and confidence…but I’m not so sure making guarantees in Week 2 is a good idea Roy.

Fantasy Focus

Detroit: I’m not starting any Detroit players if possible. The Bears are good and motivated to make another statement within their division. Kitna will be throwing and Williams should be his first look, but I just don’t see the Lions doing much. Throw in the possibility of rain and a wet pigskin to the overall equation and it just doesn’t seem to add up to many points being scored.

Start: none
Consider: Williams
Sit: everyone else

Chicago: Detroit shut down Shaun Alexander last week and will be tested again. Running backs Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson will combine for over 30 carries in this game. There seems to be a 2:1 split which should make Jones the better choice to start between the two. Although the Lions had success stopping Seattle’s running game, I doubt that can hold down the Bears in Soldiers Field Sunday.

Start: Jones and Defense
Consider: Benson and Muhammad
Sit: Gould, Grossman and Berrian

Score: Buffalo Chicago 13 Lions 3

Houston at Indianapolis 1:00 p.m.
The reason Texas chose Mario Williams over Reggie Bush in the draft was partly because of Peyton Manning and the Colts offense. Houston management will see if Houston has any luck containing the Colts, which scored 30 and 31 points on them in last season’s two meetings, this week in Indianapolis. Texans QB David Carr did fairly well last week and showed if the pass protection holds up he is capable of finding the open receiver downfield.

Fantasy Focus

Houston: Houston’s running attack wasn’t very good against the Eagles but Carr completed two thirds of his passes, including a touchdown to their new WR Eric Moulds. Moulds was not given much attention in many fantasy football drafts but he is still a very productive NFL receiver, especially with Andre Johnson on the other side of the field. Moulds and Johnson are in a great situation to produce for your fantasy team this week: QB can throw the ball downfield, team often trails in the second half and is playing a top tier offense, and a running game that is mediocre at best. I’m willing to gamble with Moulds and Johnson this week if my other options are playing tough defenses.

Start: Johnson and Moulds
Consider: Carr and Brown
Sit: Lundy, Gado, Defense, and Putzier

Indianapolis: We finally got our first glimpse of the RBBC we had anticipated from the Colts. Addai finished the game with 10 touches, Rhodes with 19. Rhodes’ 19 touches were more than the 18 Ronnie Brown, Julius Jones, and Jamal Lewis received. Rhodes also scored a touchdown from the 1-yard line. I’m viewing Rhodes a #3 RB and keeping Addai benched until this ratio changes or one of them is injured.

Start: Manning, Wayne, Harrison, Clark and Vinatieri
Consider: Rhodes and Defense
Sit: Addai

Score: Indianapolis 30 Houston 17

New Orleans at Green Bay 1:00 p.m.
A win against the Packers Sunday would give the Saints their first winning streak since the end of the 2004 season. The Reggie Bush era officially began as the Saints used the speedy playmaker in a multitude of ways on their way to earning a win on the road. Green Bay has to be happy about Ahman Green’s 120+ total yards against the Bears in his first game back from injury. However, Mike McCarthy can’t be pleased with anything else. The Packers should have success moving the ball against the Saints utilizing Green and the running game. Green Bay held Chicago to 3.0 yards per carry and should be in contention late in this game if they can contain the Saints’ running game.

Fantasy Focus

New Orleans: Reggie Bush and Duece McAllister were utilized enough (22 touches apiece) to warrant a weekly spot in your starting lineup. Brees was less than spectacular and Joe Horn owners are tempted to panic after seeing only 2 catches on 7 targets and some guy named Marques Colston from Hofstra catch the lone touchdown pass. Welcome to the annual overreaction that follows Week 1. This offense doesn’t know what it is just yet and I suspect it will produce inconsistent fantasy production during the first half of the season. They have a decent match up against the Packers this week and should score points, making them worthy of consideration in Week 2.

Start: Bush and McAllister
Consider: Brees, Horn, Carney and Colston
Sit: Defense, Morency and Henderson

Green Bay: I’m starting my Packers this week and hoping this game turns into a blowout between two below average defenses. Last week Cleveland’s passing game had some success using the TE against the Saints…possibly making this Bubba Franks’ big return to the fantasy scene.

Start: Green, Driver and Favre
Consider: Franks and Rayner
Sit: Defense, Ferguson, and Jennings

Score: Green Bay 33 New Orleans 28

N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia 1:00 p.m.
The Eagles home opener brings the Giants into town for one of the day’s two NFC East divisional games. The Giants played well offensively and should be up for the task against the aggressive Eagles defense. Defensively, the Giants need to do a better job rushing the passer to keep McNabb off balance. The Eagles QB seemed to find his receivers with ease against Houston. Expect Andy Reid to continue to use Brian Westbrook in a variety of ways, including the short passing routes. The Giants defense will decide this game. If New York can stay alert to the screens and not over pursue on defense, Eli and the offense should score enough points to win.

Fantasy Focus

New York: The Giants running game looked great, but Brandon Jacobs got the touchdown. Fantasy owners need to realize this will happen a lot this season. The Giants have enough faith in Jacobs to make him a part of the mix and spell Barber often throughout the game. This isn’t a true RBBC but may seem like one at points during the season. The Eagles shut down Houston’s running game, but that isn’t saying much. Last season Philadelphia allowed over 117 yards/game and 15 rushing touchdowns. Coughlin should run against the blitz so I’m starting Barber and Jacobs.

Start: Barber, Jacobs, Manning, Feeley, Shockey and Burress
Consider: Defense
Sit: Toomer

Philadelphia: This is a great offense for fantasy production but temper expectations this week. Stallworth’s performance last week is promising, but it was against the Texans and it was only one game. I want to see him produce this week before I consider him a weekly starter. Akers could be awfully busy this week as well.

Start: Akers, McNabb, Westbrook and Smith
Consider: Defense, Brown and Stallworth
Sit: Lewis and Buckhalter

Score: New York 21 Philadelphia 20

Oakland at Baltimore 1:00 p.m.
Baltimore defense should be salivating with Oakland coming to town. There isn’t much to say about this game other than look for more of the same from each team. Oakland is horrible and a trip to the east coast is not the kind of medicine Art Shell’s team needs. If you are a Raiders fan do yourself a favor and sleep in. On the other hand, Baltimore has a legitimate shot at posting back-to-back shutouts. The city needs something to cheer about and the Ravens should answer the call with a decisive victory in Week 2.

Fantasy Focus

Oakland: Usually you don’t want to downplay or over hype one week’s performance, but in this case I’m placing every Raider on probation until they show something on offense. Baltimore’s defense provides further reason to bench this team’s players. This game represents the exception to the “don’t bench your studs” fantasy proverb. Although, if your IDP league awards points for return yards DB Chris Carr might be a nice sleeper.

Start: none
Consider: none
Sit: everyone

Baltimore: Most Ravens should be a decent play this week but I wouldn’t expect big things out anyone other than RB Jamal Lewis. If he can’t produce a 100-yards and a touchdown in this game, I am severely concerned. I’m not saying he won’t produce, just something of interest in a game that lacks interest.

Start: Defense, Lewis, McNair, Mason and Heap
Consider: Clayton and Stover
Sit: Anderson

Score: Baltimore 28 Oakland 3

Tampa Bay at Atlanta 1:00 p.m.
Things don’t get any easier for Jon Gruden and the Bucs facing the Flacons in Week 2. When your head coach apologizes to the fans for being so bad, your team has some holes. Tampa Bay wasn’t ready for Baltimore last week and I’m guessing a week isn’t enough time to fix everything to beat Atlanta. The Falcons are poised to win another key divisional game with their running game. The best rushing team in 2005 started the season with over 200 yards gained on the ground. If they do the same thing to the Buccaneers defense on Sunday, this team will be tough to beat.

Fantasy Focus

Tampa Bay: I couldn’t have been more wrong on a game last week then I was with Tampa Bay. I knew they had a tough schedule and played tough defenses, but I wasn’t expecting them to roll over in Week 1. If their offense doesn’t show they can move the ball against another tough defense this week I’m putting my Bucs on the trading block. Simms’ play controls the fate of Galloway and Clayton and right now it doesn’t look promising. Carnell Williams’ 13 touches a game won’t justify his draft position, either.

Start: none
Consider: Clayton
Sit: everyone else

Atlanta: The Falcons defense showed they are for real, holding the Panthers to only 6 points, albeit without Steve Smith. They should be able to force more turnovers this week against young QB Chris Simms. If the defense continues to play well, the offense will benefit with shorter fields and more opportunities to score. Alge Crumpler remains a lock to start each week after another solid performance last week.

Start: Crumpler, Vick, Dunn, Defense and Koenen
Consider: Jenkins
Sit: Lelie and White

Score: Atlanta 20 Tampa Bay 13

Arizona at Seattle 4:05 p.m.
Seattle just faced one team that likes to throw the ball, now they get another in the Arizona Cardinals. Dennis Green’s team comes into Seattle with a new sense of confidence after upgrading their running game and winning their season opener in a new building. Detroit proved it is possible to slow down Shaun Alexander, but Arizona hasn’t had much luck doing so in recent years. Seattle hopes to get Darrell Jackson back for this game. Seattle has run the ball very well against the Cardinals and should help Seattle win this game to stay atop the NFC West. Matt Hasselbeck also gets an early Christmas present with Deion Branch coming over from New England in a trade.

Fantasy Focus

Arizona: Kurt Warner and company will be playing a much better defense in Week 2, but should still post quality fantasy totals. With all the speculation about Edge, he ended up with 29 touches. His yards/carry isn’t great, but Edge will be a factor near the goal line as he was last week.

Start: James, Warner, Fitgerald, Boldin, and Rackers
Consider: none
Sit: Defense and Pope

Seattle: If Shaun Alexander is held under 100 yards in this game it will give the Madden Curse new meaning. Although the Cardinals defense is better than last season, they are better at defending the pass than the run, leaving the door open for Alexander to have another monster game. Hasselbeck can match Warner in a shootout as well, and should post respectable numbers.

Start: Alexander, Hasselbeck, Jackson and Brown
Consider: Burleson
Sit: Defense, Branch, Stevens and Mili

Score: Seattle 37 Arizona 27

St. Louis at San Francisco 4:05 p.m.
The 49ers showed marked improvement from a year ago in Week 1’s loss to the Cardinals. They host the Rams in Week 2 and will have their hands full stopping Steven Jackson. Offensively, the 49ers showed they have more talent surrounding QB Alex Smith with WR Antonio Bryant, RB Frank Gore and TE Vernon Davis all contributing last week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Niners put a little scare into the Rams this week at home. Should they contain the running game, they may stay in this game.

Fantasy Focus

St. Louis: Bulger didn’t throw a TD last week much to the chagrin of fantasy owners. But the San Francisco secondary is one of the weaker aspects of the team and Scott Linehan’s offense should incorporate more passing into the game plan this week. This is a run first offense, but is more than capable attacking through the air as well.

Start: Jackson, Bulger, Holt, Bruce and Wilkins
Consider: Curtis
Sit: Defense and Klopfinstein

San Francisco: The 49ers’ Frank Gore is not a one-week wonder. Those who think they are selling high on Gore should wait. Gore isn’t about break into fantasy’s elite but he could be a consistent #2 RB all season long with the improvement of the 49er offense under QB Alex Smith. Only ten other running backs had more touches last week, making Gore a formidable #2 fantasy RB.

Start: Gore and Bryant
Consider: Smith, Davis, and Nedney
Sit: Defense, Battle

Score: St. Louis 32 San Francisco 21

Kansas City at Denver 4:15 p.m.
The team that runs the ball better and controls the clock will win this AFC West battle. The Chiefs will be without QB Trent Green, leaving Herm Edwards with more incentive to establish Larry Johnson in the running game. The Broncos will also try to run, something the Bengals were able to do a week ago as well. Running the ball at Mile High isn’t easy: Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson combined for 74 yards on 22 carries in last year’s visit to Denver.

Fantasy Focus

Kansas City: Huard wasted no time getting the ball into Tony Gonzalez last week, targeting him 12 times, all in the 4th quarter! However, don’t go overboard thinking Gonzo is a lock this week. KC and Denver have a fairly lengthy history and I am sure Mike Shanahan and Larry Coyer will have an effective coverage scheme to limit him. In 18 career games against the Broncos, Gonzalez has only 4 touchdowns on 70 receptions.

Start: Johnson
Consider: Gonzalez and Kennison
Sit: Huard, Parker, Hall, Defense and Tynes

Denver: As far as the RB situation is concerned, your guess is as good as mine. Tatum got the yards (and fumbled) and Mike got the score. Consider them both a #3 RB until an injury makes one the featured back. Plummer didn’t look so good last week, but I’m not writing him off just yet. I’d still consider starting him this week if my other option wasn’t significantly better. He did a good job spreading the ball around and I think he bounces back at home this week.

Start: M. Bell, T. Bell, Walker and Elam
Consider: Plummer, Smith
Sit: Defense and Alexander

Score: Denver 17 Kansas City 7

New England at N.Y. Jets 4:15 p.m.
Eric Mangini hosts his former team on Sunday fresh off a road victory in Tennessee that saw Pennington throw for over 300 yards. Ok so it was against the Titans, but it is still a positive for a team that rivaled Chicago in quarterback ineffectiveness a year ago. The Patriots made the proper halftime adjustments and came back to win against the Bills in Week 1. I’d really like to see the Jets knock off New England, but the Patriots ground attack should be enough to overpower the Jets defensive front. Without a running game, QB Chad Pennington will have a tough day throwing the ball, resulting in a busy day for punter Ben Graham.

Fantasy Focus

New England: I’m guessing Brady breaks out the play-action against the Jets’ aggressive linebackers. The Patriots relied on their running game last week and I see no reason why they wouldn’t continue to attack the defense with Maroney and Dillon this week. Watson is a must start at TE with limited WR options.

Start: Dillon, Maroney, Brady, Watson and Defense
Consider: Brown, Caldwell, Gabriel, Graham and Gostowski
Sit: none

New York: With Pennington back in the saddle again, Coles flourished. The two won’t have as much success this week, but Coles should still see plenty of balls thrown his way, making him a decent start again this week. Barlow isn’t the best play, but he should receive more carries after outplaying Derrick Blaylock last week. Keep an eye on Cotchery as well, the Pats are aware of Coles and could double-team him, leaving Cotchery more room to work the other side of the field.

Start: none
Consider: Barlow and Cotchery
Sit: Defense Pennington, and Nugent

Score: New England 28 New York 14

Tennessee at San Diego 4:15 p.m.
It is gloomy in Tennessee these days, but Jeff Fisher’s squad find themselves in sunny San Diego for a Week 2 rumble with the Chargers. The Titans couldn’t handle the Jets at home, and face a San Diego team that trounced the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football. I have a feeling San Diego will make Tennessee look just as bad offensively. The Titans defense surrendered 393 yards last week and should give up at least that amount again on the road.

Fantasy Focus

Tennessee: Kerry Collins clearly favored Drew Bennett in the passing game last week, but I am not sure that will continue in Week 2. Bennett was targeted 17 times but caught only 8 of the balls thrown to him. David Givens was questionable all week, and played sparingly in last week’s contest. He was paid an awful lot of money by the Titans and with the speedy pass rush of the Chargers, Bennett won’t have time to get deep. Look for Givens to produce after a full week of practice with Collins.

Start: Givens
Consider: none
Sit: everyone else

San Diego: Rivers didn’t have to do much, but he did hit Antonio Gates for a touchdown pass inside the five-yard line. We know LT will get his, but Gates owners should feel good about the touchdown even if he didn’t catch that many passes. One of these days, Rivers will face a decent team with a decent defense and will need to throw the ball. Early indications would suggest Gates should be all right with Rivers taking over for Brees this season.

Start: Defense, Tomlinson, Kaeding and Gates
Consider: Rivers, McCardell and Parker
Sit: none

Score: San Diego 31 Tennessee 6

Washington at Dallas 8:15 p.m.
Two teams with disappointing losses meet in Dallas Sunday Night. Two coaching legends, Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells, will roam the sidelines with plenty of veteran leadership on both teams. Clinton Portis should be more involved this week and help the team convert on more than the four third down conversions they had last week. Dallas’ running game averaged over 4 yards per carry last week while Washington held Chester Taylor to less than 3 yards per carry. If Washington can prevent the Cowboys from running well on first and second downs I like their chances with Bledsoe forced to throw against their secondary..

Fantasy Focus

Washington: Clinton Portis is the best fantasy player on the Redskins and will get his first start of the season. What remains to be seen is if Gibbs will utilize T.J. Duckett in goal-to-go situations. So many owners passed on Portis after his injury, now we get to see if he can be the fantasy monster he was believed to be before the injury.

Start: Defense, Moss and Portis
Consider: Hall and Cooley
Sit: Brunell, Lloyd, and Randle El

Dallas: Many people drafted Drew Bledsoe with high expectations this season. It only took one game against one of the best defenses in the league to warm up the QB controversy talk. Bledsoe has always thrown interceptions, and has lost many a football games doing so. Bledsoe should still wind up in the upper twenties of touchdowns thrown with Glenn and TO around. Don’t overreact after one bad week. If you play in a league that deducts points for interceptions, you should have realized this and dropped him in your rankings prior to your draft. For those who don’t count interceptions in their league, Bledsoe will be fine.

Start: Bledsoe, Jones, Glenn, Defense and Owens
Consider: Witten and Vanderjagt (if healthy)
Sit: Barber

Score: Washington 17 Dallas 14

Pittsburgh at Jacksonville 8:30 p.m.
This game should be exciting with or without Ben Roethlisberger. In a possible preview of an AFC playoff game, the Jaguars host the defending champs. Jacksonville and its young receivers gutted out a win against Dallas last week and will need the same kind of determination if they want to win this week. The Steelers go from playing Thursday night to Monday night and the extra days might help Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger come back sooner that expected from emergency surgery. The Jaguars defense will not allow Willie Park much room to run so the Steelers will need to throw the ball effectively to win this game.

Fantasy Focus

Pittsburgh: The Steelers signed Najeh Davenport this week and Cowher has already indicated he might be given the goal line and short yardage carries in this game. This doesn’t mean Davenport will be money in this role, but if he is, you will want him. Remember, Bettis scored 9 touchdowns as the short yardage back in 2005.

Start: Ward and Defense
Consider: Miller, Reed and Roethlisberger (if he starts)
Sit: Parker, Wilson, Batch and Holmes

Jacksonville: Byron Leftwich stepped up last week and had a decent day. With the Steelers likely to shut down the running game, Leftwich will need to make the proper reads if the Jaguars are going to have hope moving the ball on offense. Leftwich is the type of QB who is more than willing to wait the extra second and combined with his windmill throwing motion, we could see some forced fumbles and sacks. This game is a test for the Jaguars QB. Should Leftwich be able to move the ball through the air in this game, he should be considered as a possible #1 fantasy QB this season.

Start: Defense
Consider: none
Sit: everyone else

Score: Jacksonville 7 Pittsburgh 6