Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz! After receiving the praise of an impossibly generous 1.1 rating on the Calvin scale, TMB only hopes to be able to follow up with a second effort. This week, the ultimate lesson to take away rings true in Denny Green’s famous rant, “They are who we thought they were!” Many teams returned to their original status this weekend, or had a deceptive performance that will trick many into becoming disbelievers. TMB is here with a word of caution to ignore those feelings and to wait it out. Let’s get right into it:
Bears – Packers
Impressively, Green Bay’s defense was able to clamp down on what yours truly referred to as possibly “the most explosive Chicago Bears offense in history.” Now, that is somewhat damning with faint praise, but certainly the skill players are in place. However, if your star running back has a high ankle sprain and your O-line can’t stay upright, you can’t expect the offense to click much. The Packers offense was still probably not worth what you paid for them, but don’t fret. Rodgers, Jennings, Nelson, and Jermichael Finley will all be worth it when the dust settles.
Chiefs – Bills
In the first of a few games following this trend, KC compiled some garbage points to make the match look respectable. If you started Dwayne Bowe due to the matchup this week, you got lucky, but don’t forget that he was 15 points lighter going into the fourth quarter. For the Bills, C.J. Spiller and cast dominated for 60 straight minutes. For those of you on the fence, Spiller should be started without afterthought until Fred Jackson comes back or the weather changes, ironically, since the Bills likely won’t maintain success into the second half of the season.
Saints – Panthers
The Saints are now two losses deeper than their fans thought they would be two weeks in, and I blame the offseason issues, but not in the typical fashion. I believe that these Saints had pent-up frustration regarding the offseason suspensions and persecution, but the reinstatement of the players just before the week sapped most of that anger. The Saints now are terribly debilitated and unmotivated. I wouldn’t be surprised if these Saints bail on the season if they start the first half something like 3-5. Brees and Sproles should be kept in case this thing turn around, but the rest of the Saints should be trade bait for the hopeful.
For the Panthers, Cam Newton’s passing stat line came close to mirroring Romo’s and Flacco’s, yet he was heralded as a hero at home, mostly because of his insane 71 yards rushing. In addition, Williams and Stewart combined for 120 rushing yards and Steve Smith totaled 104 receiving yards . With the dynamic Cam Newton leading the charge, keep starting those Panthers.
Browns – Bengals
The Browns and Trent Richardson were encouraging, but I still stick by my lifelong fantasy football mantra, “Never trust the Browns.” Keep in mind that this statistical anomaly was against a culture-conflicted Bengals team. If you see enough to feel good about starting a Cleveland Brown, caveat emptor; but this wise guy will stubbornly be selling, regardless of outcome. I personally don’t believe the stress and general iffy-ness is worth it, and I’d always be willing to trade for a star player in a more stable franchise.
For the Bengals, it’s simple. Dalton and Green can be starters if you need them to be, and Green-Ellis will manage 70-plus yards and a touchdown more weeks than not due to Cincinnati’s style of play. Be careful with lesser-known Bengals, however, as they have a Brownsesque tendency to look like superstars one week and then disappear.
Vikings – Colts
The Vikings hung in with the Colts all game but fell in the final moments to the immortal Adam Vinatieri, as so many have before them. Ponder and Harvin followed up solid Week 1 performances with better Week 2 performances, though Harvin could really have been a force with a touchdown. Adrian Peterson turned in a rare zero-touchdown performance as well, but he clearly is on a snap count, with only 16 carries all game.
Andrew Luck led his Horseshoes to a win, despite having a slightly worse passing day than Ponder. Donnie Avery and Reggie Wayne, however, clearly outperformed their competition across the field. It turns out that Fleener may not play as much as expected (with only four targets against the Vikings). You may be wise to pick up a second TE and play the matchups if you have Fleener.
Texans – Jags
The touchdowns will not always stay the same, but in my opinion, Foster and Tate are both startable against bad defenses. I wouldn’t often consider starting a backup, but when the Texans play a bottom-half defense, I would gladly rank Tate in the top 30. The Jaguars crumbled in typical fashion, but again I preach caution: it’s early in the season and they won’t always be playing a top 10 opponent who is also a divisional rival.
Raiders – Dolphins
Imagine you are presented with this statement: “A running back in the Raiders–Dolphins game will run for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Who will it be?” Do you pick Darren McFadden or Reggie Bush? I would pick McFadden 10 times out of 10, even now. The Dolphins looked good against a mentally feeble Raiders team 3,100 miles from home in an early game. Similar to the Browns game, I believe this is far and away the exception, and a repeat should not be expected this season. For the Raiders, Carson Palmer was as double-sided as a Batman villain, what with a completion percentage of 50, a single touchdown, and an interception…and with the rest of the Raiders languishing under his leadership.
Cardinals – Patkowskis
I think there should be a children’s book called “The Gutsiest Little Cardinal” after Arizona’s Week 2 win. Kevin Kolb excelled on Sunday. Not only was he a game-managing, winning quarterback, but he was also arguably their most valuable rusher. The Pats fell into a trap game, it seems, and were looking ahead to their upcoming matchup with Baltimore. Start your Pats next week, however, as Gostkowski, Lloydkowski, Welkowski, and Gronkowski are angry and embarrassed, and should see a spike with the absence of Hernandez.
Buccaneers – Giants
Both of these offenses put up stellar numbers and won a lot of fantasy matchups, but remember that 24 of the Giants’ points came in the fourth quarter. Eli Manning’s 510 yards and three touchdowns this week makes him the NFL’s leading passer by a mile two weeks in. Andre Brown got the inevitable Ahmad Bradshaw injury carries instead of the rookie David Wilson. I would give it one full game to see if the rookie gets a crack at starting, but it’s back to the waiver wire if he gets fewer than 10 runs. On the Buccaneers side, V-Jax had a promising second effort, but I need to see him be a consecutively dominant force before he climbs the ranks out of the flex position.
The media talk on Monday centered around the controversial decision by Brian Schiano’s Bucs to rush the victory formation on the heels of a Giants interception. Obviously, the Giants are upset because of an unspoken rule that the quarterback kneel means the game is over, and that the risk of injury when the players are not expecting a defensive rush is high. However, the Bucs say that there were five seconds left and they were down by one score. Why not go for a fumble and try to tie it? Come to your own conclusions, but ponder this: Schiano still had a timeout in his pocket after that kneel-down. If it was truly a trying-to-win-it situation, why didn’t he call time and try again?
Ravens – Eagles
Philly, with a 1-point victory in each of their first two games, continues to do just enough to win. Vick is on a record-setting pace of 48 interceptions this season, with six picks through two weeks, but the rest of the offense looked typical of the Eagles. Be cautious with Brent Celek, however, as his explosion may have been scheme-driven. His history with Michael Vick is far less exciting. For the Ravens, it was much of the same as Rice and Flacco kept the Ravens in it until the last. Watch for your Ravens to be highly productive in a shootout at home next week.
Cowboys – Seahawks
Romo, with near identical stats to Flacco, did not fair nearly as well. No one around him performed particularly well, so what was the embattled quarterback to do? Don’t let the mix-up scare you, however, as Seattle is an incredibly difficult place to play. I’m sure Dallas fans and players alike cannot wait to get back home and welcome the Buccaneers to town next week. As to be expected, Seattle looked decidedly “meh” in a big win. Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch had a good day (122 yards and a score), but not a single yard was memorable. Keep Lynch in your starting lineup, and leave all other Seahawks on waivers.
Redskins – Rams
The biggest storyline for the Redskins this week was RGIII’s return to earth against a better-than-you-think Rams defense. However, the biggest story for fantasy concerning the Redskins is that Alfred Morris once again received the lion’s share of carries and Roy Helu did not advance the ball a single yard. Morris is your guy if you must, but be warned, the week you start him is the week that someone starts in his place. The Rams’ performance could be the headline of the world’s most obvious newspaper: “Sam Bradford Talented Quarterback. Steven Jackson out with Injury. World Still Turning.” Bradford is a perennial bye-week and injury fill-in, but he has the physical tools to put together a top 10 season, if only his supporting cast could keep pace. Until that changes, he’s a great option for backup quarterback and you should pick him up if he’s on your waiver wire.
Jets – Steelers
The Steelers looked impressive Sunday with controlled pass plays—not broken-down scramble plays. Todd Haley is bringing a passing aspect to the Steelers that has not been in the game plan in the past. While Roethlisberger continued to extend plays and make something from nothing, he was sacked only one time and the offense controlled the game. In addition, Brown and Wallace split the passing success for 79 and 74 yards, respectively. This is what the Steelers need to mask their annually bad O-line.
These Jets looked far less effective one week after they put up 48 points, as the certain-to-win-the-Super Bowl Mark Sanchez threw for only 138 yards and Tim “Just Win” Tebow had one run for 22 yards. It seems that the Jets spent all of their offensive firepower on Week 1. Be careful with these Jets, you never know if you’ll walk away with a win or a black eye.
Titans – Chargers
The Chargers are rolling early, which has always been their biggest struggle. The Broncos will play them close for the division title, but the Super Chargers are surging. The Philip Rivers-to-tight end connection looked particularly great as they connected for 48 yards and three touchdowns. Dante Rosario should be picked up from the waiver wire as soon as he is available. If New Orleans is in danger of jumping ship, then Tennessee is already starting to sink. Chris Johnson spoke out on Monday, saying, “People need to step up and do their job.” For some reason, I doubt the self-sure running back was speaking introspectively. Sell your Titans.
Lions – 49ers
San Francisco has a superb defense. A couple of years ago, you will recall, the Colts and the Saints were defense-proof. Both teams flirted with undefeated seasons and went to the Super Bowl as the No. 1 seed. In that vein, are the 49ers offense-proof? Can defense really still win championships? The fantasy production on offense may be light for this team (.40 Calvin), but the fantasy defense seems like a lock to be ranked No. 1. The Lions were simply locked down by the 49ers and could not get anything going on the ground or in the air. Don’t take it personally though; they won’t be playing such a terrific defense again this season.
$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
“Guys like Justin Smith, they don’t even need a helmet to play defensive tackle on this team!”
I’m not sure what Chris was going for with that quote, but I have already chimed in that classic schoolyard bully Jim Harbaugh has the 49ers defense playing quite spectacularly. I believe that Justin Smith would’ve been far less impressive sans headgear, but I cannot stress enough how badly San Francisco on your players schedule means SIT, possibly regardless of stature.
Broncos – Falcons
The Broncos fought notoriously to come back and win this game, but Manning’s awful first quarter made it impossible. Outside of the interceptions, however, 241 yards and a touchdown are par for the course. Considering that Manning was negative in fantasy points for much of this game, his end result is acceptable.
The Falcons are seeing their defensive front mature in front of their eyes, as the middle of their defense held strong without the presence of Curtis Lofton. Matt Ryan was excellent as usual, and Michael Turner lucked out when the Falcons got right up to the line to get him a touchdown. Tony Gonzalez, however, blew past defenders and snagged an obscene seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Unless you have Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, you shouldn’t even have to think about rostering Gonzalez if he’s on your waiver wire.
Pain Heals. Chicks Dig Scars. Glory Lasts Forever.
If you didn’t stick around to hear the diatribe in the postgame show about how awful The Replacements are, then you missed out. No one would defend otherwise, they blew a couple of calls on Monday Night, and it was a generally sloppy performance. However, John Fox replied in his postgame interview, “It was like any other game, it doesn’t matter who the officials are.” It’s as though some media members have never seen the regular officials don’t blow calls! Ed Hochuli can remind you of plenty of embarrassing blown calls that cost teams important games. Let’s give the poor Replacements a chance to get better.
Fin. Week 2 is behind us and Week 3 is waiting to begin on Thursday night. We’ll see matchups between many equally talented and positioned teams in my opinion, so this week could have far-reaching playoff implications. In Week 3 you should start your Giants, Panthers, Bears, Cowboys, Lions, Saints, Chargers, Patriots, and Ravens. Also, leave me a comment if I helped make a good or a terrible decision for you this week. I’d love to hear about it. We’ll see you Week 3!