by Greg Talcott
The Cowboys will be without Tony Romo for at least 7 weeks and Dez Bryant for potentially that long as well according to reports, which likely spells doom for their chances at winning the division. One of the remaining teams in the NFC Least will step forward and realistically only the division winner will make the playoffs. The Cowboys do have a favorable schedule, but it is hard to see them winning much with the talent they are trotting out on the field with the exception of Jason Witten who I expect to be the primary fantasy beneficiary of the Cowboys injury woes. The Cowboys will put up a good fight on defense but lack the offense to keep up with Atlanta, Falcons win 24-10.
Fantasy owners of Andrew Luck have been treated to some of the worst performances in the history of fantasy football between the end of last season where his performance cost many owners a title and the start of this year. Andrew Luck didn’t forget how to play quarterback, but he sure isn’t doing a very good job of it. The Titans are a scrappy team and this game won’t be easy, but you have to believe the Colts are going to avoid a 3-game losing streak to start the year. Colts salvage their dignity 17-14 over the Titans.
Oakland looked good against the Ravens last week and have a favorable matchup this week albeit on the road against the Browns. Derek Carr is not yet starter material for fantasy owners; but from a fan perspective, Carr is the best thing to happen to the Raiders at QB since Rich Gannon. Amari Cooper shows why he should be in your lineup every week and Michael Crabtree is making a bid for more consistent playing time out of fantasy owners as well. The Browns had a nice win last week against the Titans in a battle of former Heisman winners, but this week Johnny Manziel returns to the bench and Josh McCown returns to the starting lineup. While you can see the logic in a player not losing his job to injury, especially after 1-game, this is Josh McCown we are talking about. He has not been able to hold a job on teams who had NO QB, and he isn’t keeping this one long term either. Manziel represents the Browns best chance to win long term of any QB on the roster; when the Browns coaches realize that is up for debate. Raiders win on the road over the Browns 24-17.
The Bengals have looked good in their first two games of the year and are traveling to Baltimore to face a team that has looked anything but good through two weeks. There should be some points scored in this game, but Baltimore is sorely lacking for offensive weapons to help Joe Flacco. Even more concerning is the defense for the Ravens who look like a shell of their former selves without T-Suggs in the lineup. Call me crazy but I actually like Andy Dalton this week against a suspect Raven defense. Bengals win 28-24
Give credit to the Jags for beating the heavily favored Dolphins last week, but don’t think that good fortune is following them to New England this week. The Patriots are a far better team, play far better football, with a chip on their shoulder this year following the offseason circus that was Deflategate. Patriots crush the Jags 38-13
The Saints have looked horrible with Drew Brees and I am guessing they won’t be much better with Luke McCown. The best scenario at this point for the hapless Saints is McCown goes down early or gets pulled so they can get a look at the future in Garrett Grayson. There aren’t many players worth starting from this game, some limited flex options. Carolina wins 24-10
I have to admit, I underestimated the New York Jets and how much better they would be with a new coach and Geno Smith being out with a broken jaw. Further, like most, I have been wrong on Philadelphia and their reclamation project Sam Bradford. The Eagles have been terrible, especially the running game and DeMarco Murray. Chip Kelly has proven so far to be a joke of a personnel guy and his highly-touted offensive system is being questioned as well. Oddly, the best QB in this matchup is actually on the Jets; something that hasn’t been said since the days of Vinny Testaverde. Injuries limit fantasy options this week, the Jets take this one 20-17.
Hard to imagine the Texans being favored given how bad they are playing, but they have a rookie QB coming to town and that may lead to a big game for the Houston defense. Tampa Bay played well last week, but it was against a sub-par Saints team. The Texans have no offense to speak of since they don’t have a legitimate starting QB or RB on the active roster. That being said, I can’t fathom JJ Watt allowing Winston to beat his team at home, Texans win 21-17.
The only wins these teams have recorded are against the same opponent, the perpetually overrated Lions. The Chargers are the better team despite the Vikings having the best player on the field in AP. The Vikings are maybe a .500 team give or take and the Chargers should compete for a playoff spot in the AFC West, San Diego wins a close one 24-23.
The Rams disappointed a lot of people in Week 2 following their big win over Seattle in the opener. Todd Gurley may make his long awaited debut this weekend, unfortunately for the Rams, Le’Veon Bell is returning from suspension this week to bolster an already powerful offense. The Rams’ defense will definitely be tested in this one and they just don’t have the weapons to keep up with the Steelers. Pittsburgh wins 28-24.
The Cardinals look dominating through two weeks albeit against some of the worst teams in the NFL (Chicago & New Orleans). San Francisco has looked far better than people expected, even in a loss against Pittsburgh last week. These two teams are very familiar with each other and should be a tough test at home for Arizona. However, the Cardinals have one of the best home field advantages in all of the NFL, a QB playing at the top of his game, and deadly speed on offense. If you combine that with a stout defense you have the recipe for a victory, Cards win 27-20.
The Dolphins got beat by the lowly Jaguars and while that may be motivation for them to rally this week, Buffalo is the better team. Rex Ryan knows the Dolphins as well as anybody and has had the Bills playing well to start the year despite their loss to the Patriots a week ago. This will be a close one but the Bills should be able to pull it out 21-17 over Miami.
Do you know what will silence the harshest of Cutler critics? Seeing Jimmy Clausen starting on the road in Seattle in Kam Chancellor’s first game back against a ticked off Seahawk team. The Bears have as much chance of winning this game as Donald Trump has of getting his own line of hair products with Paul Mitchell. Seattle clobbers the Bears 38-3.
The Lions are once again one of the more disappointing teams in the league, especially in the running game and defensively. With Stafford’s health and ability to produce consistent results highly in question, the Lions are going to struggle to win this game. Denver doesn’t look like the world-beaters they were the last two seasons but they have more than enough talent to win on the road in Detroit, Broncos win 24-17.
The best QB in the league playing at home going against Alex Smith is about all you need to know about this game. The Packers have a number of injuries to key players like Davante Adams and Eddie Lacy, which may significantly impact their production this week so fantasy owners should tread lightly. Packers still have more than enough weapons to win this game, 31-17 over the Chiefs.